Saturday, January 10, 2015

Romney Signals He May Try Again in 2016

Perhaps because Jeb Bush so far has less than commanding support and because the rest of the GOP 2016 candidate field consists of such a clown car of lunatics and egomaniacs out of touch with reality, Mitt "Let Them Eat Cake" Romney is indicating that he may consider another presidential run in 2016.  Or perhaps his ego is still smarting from the 2012 loss.  Whatever the reason, one has to wonder how Romney can escape all of the baggage that sank his campaign in 2012, but then again, hope springs eternal I guess.  It will certainly add to the fun to be able to take shots at Romney and his Marie Antoinette want to be wife.   Politico looks at the possible face off between Romney and Jeb Bush.  Here are excerpts:

Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush have long been cordial toward each other, even if they aren’t exactly besties. Both are former governors, aligned with the business-friendly establishment side of the Republican Party.

Now, with Romney’s announcement this week that he is exploring a third run for the White House, the two men are on a potential collision course. It’s a fight neither may be eager to have, but which some donors are framing as a referendum on the past versus the future, even if both men have been well-known political figures for years.

Romney has told many people privately that he believes Bush, the brother of the last Republican president, will have trouble winning the presidency. Bush, who announced last month that he was considering presidential run, has made it clear publicly that he believes Romney ran a poor campaign when he was the GOP’s nominee in 2012.

As they each look toward 2016, and if both do end up running, they will find themselves competing for pledges from the same donors, not to mention the same pool of aides and operatives, and the same types of voters in the Republican primary.

Although the emerging GOP 2016 field appears to be large and unwieldy, the establishment lane would shift dramatically if both Bush and Romney are standing in it. Many Republicans predict potential candidates such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich would find themselves struggling.

In what struck many Republicans as a clear reaction to Bush, Romney laid down his own marker Friday during a meeting in New York with about 30 of his past supporters. As his longtime finance director Spencer Zwick stood by, the former Massachusetts governor surprised many of those gathered — some of whom have already said they are backing Bush — by saying he was considering a run.

Romney’s remarks Friday put in neon lights what he’d more quietly told New York financiers in December: He would not defer to Bush and did not view the former Florida governor as the de facto leader of the establishment wing of the GOP.

Romney has long dreamed of the White House, and he’s been tormented by his loss to Obama in 2012. He said his decision wouldn’t be based on what anyone else did, and he insisted he has a broad vision for the country, according to attendees. Yet, his move struck a number of his own past supporters as a last gasp as the 2016 train appeared to be moving on without him.

One Republican donor said Romney’s actions could even benefit Bush by making the former Florida governor, who has been around electoral politics for three decades, look “large, fresh, new.”

“He’s trying too hard,” said one Republican strategist who has worked with Romney. “He needed to let Jeb sink or swim, then there would have been an opening, or not.”

Romney allies say he’ll likely take the next two months or so to decide what to do, much faster than the mid-2015 time-frame many Republicans familiar with his thinking had anticipated.

One Republican was brutal in assessing things: “This is Mitt’s version of scrambling … I think Mitt’s just keeping his options open and the next 90 days will tell just how many of those options actually exist.”

But Romney’s maneuver also made it clear that Jeb Bush is not Hillary Clinton, the Democrat who has essentially cleared her side of the field so far of any major challengers without even declaring she’s running. And Romney’s admirers don’t believe it’s strictly vanity that’s driving him.

Including Romney, more than 15 Republicans are either openly considering a White House run or are being floated as potential contenders, including several — such as Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania — who would battle for the social conservative vote.

It should make for great spectator sport and God knows what batshitery will slip out!

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Zachary Quinto's boyfriend Miles McMillan

Where Imprisonment or Death For Blasphemy Is The Norm

As people continue to feel revulsion over the murders in Paris motivated by Islamic extremism and , in the case of the victims at Charlie Hebdo, sick outrage for perceived blasphemy, many are missing the point that the laws in far too many countries make blasphemy a crime and in some instances, a capital offense.   Such laws make the murders in Paris "justified" in the minds of religious extremists.  Equally disturbing is the fact that a number of the countries enforcing such laws are U.S. allies and/or recipients of large amounts of U.S. aid.  Thus, the U.S. needs to be demanding that such laws be eliminated and those imprisoned for blasphemy be released.  A prime example is the plight of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, age 30 (pictured above), sentenced to 1,000 lashes and ten (10) years in prison.  Why the Hell is America supporting such a foul regime?  In a word, oil.  In short, America is only too ready to prostitute its values. has details:
US-ally Saudi Arabia flogs liberal activist Raif Badawi in public Friday near a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, receiving 50 lashes for "insulting Islam," witnesses said.

Badawi, 30, was arrested in June 2012 and charged with offenses ranging from cyber crime to disobeying his father and apostasy, or abandoning his faith.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals ($266,666) and 1,000 lashes last year after prosecutors challenged an earlier sentence of seven years and 600 lashes as being too lenient.

Witnesses said that Badawi was flogged after the weekly Friday prayers near Al-Jafali mosque as a crowd of worshipers looked on.

Badawi was driven to the site in a police car, and taken out of the vehicle as a government employee read out the charges against him to the crowd.

The blogger was made to stand with his back to onlookers as another man began flogging him, witnesses said, adding that Badawi did not make any sound or cry in pain.

The faithful who had emerged from noon prayers watched in silence and were ordered by security forces not to take any pictures on their mobile phones.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said the punishment was "barbaric" and noted its timing after Saudi Arabia condemned Wednesday's deadly attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

"Although Saudi Arabia condemned yesterday's cowardly attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, it is now preparing to inflict the most barbaric punishment on a citizen who just used his freedom of expression and information," Reporters Without Borders program director Lucie Morillon said Thursday.

Badawi, who has been in jail since 2012, is a "prisoner of conscience", said London-based Amnesty International, demanding his release.

Badawi is the co-founder of the Saudi Liberal Network along with women's rights campaigner Suad al-Shammari, who was arrested last October and also accused of "insulting Islam."

"Flogging and other forms of corporal punishment are prohibited under international law, which prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," said Amnesty's Philip Luther.

Saudi Arabia's legal code follows a medieval version of Sharia law. Judges are trained as religious scholars and have a broad scope to base verdicts and sentences on their own interpretation of religious texts.
But the problem extends far beyond Saudi Arabia.  Here are highlights from an article in Slate that looks at government sanctioned murder or imprisonment for blasphemy:

The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris this week was uniquely horrific. But in one way, it was not that unusual: Violent acts in response to “blasphemy” are unfortunately pretty common. They’re just usually perpetrated by governments.

In a recent essay in Foreign Affairs, UCLA law professor Amjad Mahmood Khan argues that Pakistan’s absurdly broad blasphemy laws—under which any “imputation, innuendo, or insinuation” that “directly or indirectly defiles the sacred name of Prophet Muhammad” is outlawed and in some cases punishable by death—have not only led to the arrest of thousands of individuals for crimes as trivial as wearing an Islamic slogan on a T-shirt, but “provide legal cover for terrorists to commit atrocities in the name of protecting Islam’s integrity based on their warped view of the faith.” This includes the mass killings of members of minority sects like the Ahmadis, who are forbidden by law from calling themselves Muslims and frequently charged under blasphemy laws, as well as attacks on Christians. 

Blasphemy laws are harshest and most common in the Muslim world, but aren’t exclusive to it. In the wake of Pussy Riot’s church performance, Russia’s parliament passed a new law mandating jail terms for insults to religion. Nearly a quarter of the world’s countries have blasphemy laws on their books, according to Pew, and one out of 10 bans apostasy. The Charlie Hebdo killings have already prompted some Western governments, notably Ireland and Canada, to announce that they will reconsider the blasphemy laws on their books. But in much of the world, governments, not terrorists, will continue to be the biggest threat to freedom of and from religion.
In the movie "Latter Days" a character asks the Mormon missionaries the following question: "How come if God talks to Joseph Smith, Smith gets to be a prophet, but if God talks to me, I'm a schizophrenic?"   Sadly, the same question applies to the Quran and Muhammad who wrote it based on claimed verbal communications through the angel Gabriel.  Was Muhammad truly a prophet or merely a schizophrenic con man?  I suspect readers know my answer.

Jeb Bush's "Religious Liberty" Smoke Screen

The past week has shown all too clearly the dangers of religious belief and those who think their religious beliefs and sensibilities trump the rights of others.  As evident from numerous posts, I see religion as more often than not as an insidious cancer that harms more than it provides benefit.  Yet, despite the evils done in the name of religion, we continue to see undeserved deference and respect given to religion and believers no matter how ignorance embracing and, worse yet, we see laws against blasphemy - the subject for another post - that prevent one from exercising free speech and speaking the truth about the idiocy and ignorance of religious traditions and figures.  Joining the list of Republican politicians who prostitute themselves to the pious is Jeb Bush, a presumed GOP 2016 presidential candidate, who seeks to use the smoke screen of "religious liberty" as justification for discrimination against and the denial of civil rights to LGBT citizens.  Michelangelo Signorile has a wonderful take down of Bush at Huffington Post.  Here are excerpts:
Once again many in the media have fallen for GOP strategists' attempts to make a candidate seem moderate -- "soften" and "softening" seem to be the words of choice for CNN and others -- while he's not changed his hardcore right-wing position at all.

Here's what happened: Jeb Bush was playing golf on Sunday while the earth in Florida shifted beneath him. Judges had been hearing desperate last-minute arguments and handing down rulings as Florida's gay marriage ban was on its last leg, and Florida, within 24 hours, would see its first gay and lesbian couples marrying, another tipping point in the national movement.

The Miami Herald caught Bush off guard as he came off the Coral Gables course, and -- in an example of how he is not ready for prime time, since a would-be presidential candidate should have had a plan -- Bush gave an old, tired answer that doesn't work anymore, and also seemed a bit confused: "It ought to be a local decision. I mean, a state decision. The state decided. The people of the state decided. But it's been overturned by the courts, I guess."

[W]hat transpired after that was probably a lot of frantic phone calls with GOP strategists, and by midday Monday Bush pressed reset and sent out a polished-up 2015 line that seeks to appeal to bigots in code words while seeming like he's "softening" -- or at least, it could be peddled that way to the media -- on an issue about which he's out of step with the majority of Americans. "We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law," Bush said in a statement that was put out to the media. "I hope that we can show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue  -- including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty."

In other words, please respect that I and others don't support your civil rights because of our religious beliefs. Sorry, but that doesn't cut it.

Bush's newly-fashioned statement was meant not to scare off younger voters, suburbanites, and some wealthy fiscal conservative donors, while still dog whistling to the Christian right with the "safeguard religious liberty" bit -- three words we will hear ad nauseum in the 2016 presidential race.

Giving any legitimacy to this language by not commenting on it, while the media is already beginning to use it exactly in the way Christian conservatives desire, is flat out dangerous.
Religion, if it belongs anywhere, belongs in the privacy of one's home and in one's house of worship.  It has no place in the civil laws and public policy. None.  Similarly, Bush deserves to hold no public office, least of all the presidency.

TLC Show Lies and Promotes Discredited "Ex-Gay" Therapy

Thankfully, the blow back against TLC's propaganda like show "My Husband’s Not Gay," is getting media coverage.  Sadly, most media coverage leaves out one crucial element: the men featured as well as at least one of the wives, are "ex-gays" for pay and work for "ministries" that promote the medical/mental health falsehood that gays can "change."  In short, these individuals are little better than sleazy prostitutes who peddle a lie to make a buck.  Thus, TLC hasn't just happened upon some men who are honestly conflicted because of the religious brainwashing with which they were raised. It's akin to depicting  the Kouachi brothers who launched mayhem in Paris this past week as typical French Muslims.  The Salt Lake Tribune has coverage on the true nature of these dishonest individuals for whom TLC has provided a platform to disseminate false propaganda.  Here are excerpts:
It turns out that TLC has been downright dishonest about "My Husband’s Not Gay," the special that airs Sunday at 11 p.m. And it turns out that at least three of the Mormons on the show are not what they portray themselves to be.

"My Husband’s Not Gay" follows three Salt Lake-area, male-female married couples and one single man, and all the men say they have "same-sex attraction." At the same time, however, they claim they’re not gay.

Organizations like GLAAD have assailed the show, claiming that it promotes the discredited practice of conversion therapy – attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation, often through coercive methods. And TLC has rejected that criticism.

[T]he network said in a statement. "The individuals featured in this one-hour special reveal the decisions they have made, and speak only for themselves."  But that’s not true. As reported by, three of the Utahns profiled on the show are closely tied to those discredited therapies.

Preston "Pret" Dahlgren is the former chairman of Evergreen International, a Mormon-linked organization that promoted so-called "reparative therapy." After Evergreen shut down last year, Dahlgren joined North Star International – yet another such group – as a board member.

His wife, Megan, has worked with three "reparative therapy" groups — Evergreen, North Star, and People Can Change.

And Jeff Bennion, another of men profiled in "Not Gay," is a spokesman for North Star.

None of this is mentioned even in passing in the special. Which is a clear attempt to deceive the viewers.
Another column in the Salt Lake Tribune is equally brutal on both TLC and the frauds featured in the show.  Here are some highlights:
"My Husband’s Not Gay" just might be the least believable reality show in the history of television. It’s also sad, because if the participants are lying, they’re lying mostly to themselves.

The premise of the show, which airs Sunday at 11 p.m. on TLC, is that you can pray the gay away. It’s about a group of Utah Mormons who have "same-sex attraction" but have, nonetheless, married women.

Gay is not a lifestyle, it’s a life. And encouraging gay men to marry women and have families has led to a lot of heartache. On that level, "Not Gay" is dangerous and destructive.

As a TV show, "Not Gay" is contrived and unbelievable. What are supposed to be spontaneous moments are clearly set-ups.

And the message the show sends is not the one participants intended. It’s clear that Tom turned his same-sex attraction into homophobia, unable to see past stereotypes he perpetuates.

"I don’t feel like I fit the mold of guys that are attracted to other men," Tom says. "Other than my deep and abiding love for Broadway showtunes and the attraction to males."

Yeah, being attracted to males means you’re gay.

And while Tanya insists repeatedly that she trusts Jeff, her actions indicated otherwise. 

The participants are clearly unaware of this, but "My Husband’s Not Gay" puts them on display as if they’re in a carnival side show. They come across as an oddity.

If these couples are genuinely happy, good for them. But it would be interesting if TLC checks back in with them in a few years.  Not that we need any more of these people on TV. Ever.
Ouch!!  One would think these women are nuts marrying gays until one remembers that it's how their families make their living.  Like their husbands, they are little better than tawdry whores.  The last writer is correct and one has to wonder if these women will be singing a different tune in a few years when their husbands, like so many "ex-gays for pay," finally admit that it's all a lie.  Meanwhile, how many other women will fall for this crap and enter into marriages that are less than what they deserve.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Friday Morning Male Beauty

French Police Close in on Paris Terror Suspects

Police officer Ahmed Merabet who was murdered
Hopefully, French police will capture the two suspects in the Charlie Hebdo massacre.  The two are reportedly holed up in a town near Charles DeGaulle airport where they are reported to be holding at least one hostage.  One of the sick ironies of the whole affair is that the police officer shot and killed like a dog was Muslim himself, a fact that those fanning anti-Muslim hate - e.g., French far right politicians - need to not forget.  Just as many Christians do not support the ugly actions of  fundamentalist "Christians," a majority of Muslims do not condone the savagery and hate that are the hallmarks of Islamic fundamentalists.  The Washington Post reports on the current stand off.  Here are excerpts:
French security forces closed in Friday on the brothers suspected in France’s worst terrorist attack in generations, surrounding a commercial building outside Paris where the pair was believed holed up with at least one hostage.

The search narrowed to a printing business in Dammartin-en-Goele, about 25 miles northeast of Paris, where authorities believe the brothers headed in a stolen car. Authorities say the suspects held at least one hostage, but gave no further details.

In scenes reminiscent of recent standoffs — including last month’s hostage-taking at a Sydney cafe — French police put the area under lockdown orders, asking people to stay indoors and turn off their lights as the drama played out on an overcast afternoon.

French media, citing police sources, reported that the brothers appeared ready to make a last stand rather than surrender. It was not immediately clear what weapons they had available, but previous reports said they had Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

They took refuge in the printing business after stealing a car and firing shots, French media reported.
A client at the business said he shook hands with one of the armed fugitives, believing he was a police special forces officer, France Info radio reported.

Fresh details emerged Thursday that one of the brothers had tried to meet with al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen.

U.S. officials said the older of the two, Said Kouachi, is believed to have traveled to Yemen in 2011 in an effort to link up with al-Qaeda’s affiliate there at a time when that group was eclipsing the terror network’s core leadership in Pakistan as the principal threat to the United States.

U.S. officials said Kouachi may have received small-arms training and picked up other skills while in Yemen, but they described the years that followed that 2011 visit as a “kind of hole” in the timeline, with significant gaps in authorities’ understanding of the brothers’ activities and whereabouts.

French officials vowed to bring the men to justice and announced that they had taken nine people into custody in relation to the case. Authorities would not release their names, but French media said that those picked up in the dragnet included a sister of the men as well as her companion and the wife of Said Kouachi. 

“I’m afraid this is going to open a boulevard for the far right,” said Diane Tribout, 28, a public servant who joined a candlelight vigil in the Place de la Republique on Thursday, where crowds chanted, “Charlie isn’t dead!”

“On the streets of Paris, you might not see it as obviously, but I know that in small towns and villages all across France, this tragic event is going to be used to fuel anger and rage,” Tribout said.

Marine Le Pen, the head of the far-right [Neo-Nazi] National Front, which has surged in opinion polls here well before Wednesday’s attack, spoke out Thursday, calling her party the only one that had challenged the notion of “Islamic fundamentalism on our territory.”

Is It Child Abuse to Make a LGBT Child ‘Change’?

The suicide of Leelah Alcorn has set off a much needed debate on whether efforts to change LGBT children - especially those transgender - is a form of child abuse.  I've made it clear that my answer to that question is a resounding yes.   The New York Times has a debate going amongst writers that looks at the issue and so far, the opinions side with seeing such change attempts as abuse and seek to limit parental control over children.  Here are highlights from one of the opinions:
L.G.B.T. youth need support from their families -- not derision. If you tell a child or teenager they’re not good enough, that they’re worthless, that who they are is broken or wrong, that’s abuse. So-called conversion therapy -- ideologically based counseling that teaches L.G.B.T people they can be “fixed” to be straight or cisgender -- is no different. I don't know the details of Leelah Alcorn's therapy or what her home life was like beyond what her online notes describe -- but forcing L.G.B.T children to attend counseling that tells them that who they are is shameful or "sick" is child abuse.

This kind of counseling -- which has been derided by the World Health Organization, the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association -- is illegal in multiple states for a reason: it’s wrong, it’s harmful and it actively puts young lives at risk. 

Trans youth -- who suffer from high suicide and suicide attempt rates -- are even more likely to make attempts on their lives when they have unsupportive or abusive families. This is not a matter of rhetoric or legalese, it’s an urgent issue of life and death.

Leelah Alcorn did not have to die. There are support structures already in place for young L.G.B.T people -- like PFLAG and the Trevor Project -- to get help with their families or on their own. Now we need more legal options, including easier emancipation for minors, to ensure that young L.G.B.T people facing abuse at home have access to the help they want and need.

Another opinion notes the following which ought to make "Christian counseling" illegal:
Those who received counseling from a religious adviser were actually more likely to have a later suicide attempt than those who sought no help at all.
It is far past time that children cease being treated as chattel property of their parents and that fundamentalist parents who reject their children be charged with abuse and have their parental rights terminated.  No child should have their life ruined or feel driven to suicide merely because their parents are ignorance embracing religious fanatics.

Bob Marshall Again Puts Virginia and the Virginia GOP in a Bad Light

I continually wonder WTF is wrong with the voters of Del. Bob Marshall's district that they keep electing such a lunatic to the House of Delegates.  The man never introduces common sense bills, but instead every year introduces one or more bills that open the state and the Republican Party of Virginia to ridicule and derision.  As noted recently, this year he has introduced two anti-gay bills - both supposedly to protect "religious freedom" - which seek to put "godly Christians" above the laws that govern everyone else.  Indeed, Marshall is so extreme it's a wonder that he hasn't come out singing the praises of the shooter in the Paris massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo (Catholic League lunatic William Donohue has said the victims brought on - dare we say deserved - their own deaths since they offended religious sensibilities).  A piece in Slate shows how Marshall again has brought horrific coverage to Virginia.  Here are excerpts:
Nearly a year ago, Kansas legislators quietly attempted to legalize anti-gay segregation, abandoning the effort only after a national wave of outrage arose. Now a Republican delegate in Virginia is attempting to replicate Kansas’ effort—with a bill so extreme, so radically and viciously anti-gay, that it makes Kansas’ measure look moderate by comparison.

The Virginia bill, introduced by Del. Bob Marshall, is actually quite ingenious in its complete degradation of gay citizens. Like every “religious liberty” measure introduced over the past year, its true intent is to legalize discrimination against gay people. But whereas most of those bills attempted to allow discrimination in the realm of gay marriage—permitting, for instance, a florist to refuse to provide flowers for a gay couple’s wedding—the Virginia bill has no such limitation.

Instead, Marshall’s measure would attach a “conscience clause” to any “license, registration, or certificate” obtained from the commonwealth, whether by a private business or a government agency.

This clause would allow all workers to refuse to “perform, assist, consent to, or participate in any action” that would “violate the religious or moral conviction of such person with respect to same-sex ‘marriage’ or homosexual behavior.” (Emphasis mine—though the scare quotes around “marriage” are in the bill.) In other words, workers in the state of Virginia need only declare that interacting with people who partake in “homosexual behavior” violates their “moral conviction”—and they will be free to turn them away.

Because the bill applies to both private and public enterprises, and because these enterprises almost always need some kind of “license, registration, or certificate” from the government, its reach is essentially endless.
Marshall, one of the more extreme anti-gay legislators in America, has a long track record with these kinds of bills. . . . Marshall is a fanatic, and it’s unclear if his new bill stands a chance of passing the heavily Republican House of Delegates. Still, Marshall’s measure is a useful reminder of the profound anti-gay animus that underlies every attempt to curtail gay rights in the name of religious freedom. No matter the rationalizations from the far-right media, bills promoting “religious liberty” are almost always simply pretext, a ploy to permit the debasement of gay citizens under the guise of principled “dissent.”

Conservatives have spent decades attempting to disguise their hatred of gays in the camouflage of sincerely held religious beliefs. Marshall and his allies unintentionally blow their cover, revealing the rank animosity behind their ostensibly respectable views. I have long insisted that “religious liberty” is nothing but a euphemism for a special right to discriminate against gay people. Thanks to legislators like Marshall, that once-controversial proposition is becoming more undeniable with each passing day.
It is time for decent people and respectable businesses to start avoiding Marshall's district in every way possible and while doing so, they need to make it clear that they won't return until Marshall is out of office permanently. 

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Quote of the Day: Bob Felton Sums Up the Treat of Religious Fundamentalism

The events in Paris have prompted many to wonder what could make anyone commit the gristly murders of 12 people in Paris, including a wounded policeman who was shoot as if he were an animal.  The answer, of course, is fundamentalism and an attack on modernity and logic and reason themselves.  Bob Felton to me sums up the treat that religious fundamentalist - both Christian and Islamic - pose to the world:

Whatever animates fundamentalists — domestic or foreign — they pose an existential threat to civilization itself, and they must be defeated. No deference, then — ever. No polite pretense of a respect they haven’t earned. No polite pretense that they have access to especial ethical insights. No polite pretense that they are part of the great and ancient continuum of human effort and human intelligence and human goodwill that delivered men from primordial terrors when that is, in fact, the destination and dead-end of their Bronze Age ideology.

He's 100% right on the error of giving any deference to the adherents of fundamentalist religious belief.  They deserve none and need to become worldwide pariahs. 

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Colorado NAACP Office Bombed

Lost in the coverage of the Paris massacre and the search for the lost AirAsia flight is the bombing of a NAACP office in Boulder, Colorado.  Fortunately, no one was killed or seriously injured, but the act shows the same kind of hate and contempt for others that underlie the Paris attack.  With white supremacists increasingly welcomed with open arms in today's Republican Party, one has to wonder if the person(s) behind the bombing felt emboldened.  Moreover, I cannot help but wonder if the perpetrator(s) claim to be "godly Christian(s)" like so many of the segregationists of the past.  Think Progress has details on the bombing.  Here are highlights:
In what appears to be an attack on a well-known civil rights organization, an “improvised explosive device” detonated on Tuesday at the headquarters of the Colorado Springs, Colorado NAACP, according to a statement by the FBI. No one was killed or injured in the explosion, and there was “only minimal surface charring to the exterior wall of the building,” which also includes a hair salon. 

The explosion could have been much worse, however, as the explosive device was placed next to a gasoline can in an apparent attempt to increase the force of the explosion. The gasoline did not ignite.

The FBI statement adds that a “potential person of interest in this investigation is a Caucasian male, approximately 40 years of age, and balding. He may be driving a 2000 or older model dirty, white pick-up truck with paneling, a dark colored bed liner, open tailgate, and a missing or covered license plate.”

Although the apparent bomber’s motives are not yet known, bombings were a common terrorist tactic during the Jim Crow era.

According to The Gazette, the chapter remains undeterred:
[Henry] Allen [president of the chapter] said he is hesitant to call the explosion a hate crime without further information from the FBI and other law enforcement agencies investigating but said the organization "will not be deterred."

The Poison of Fundamentalist Religion

A piece in the Washington Post looks at the one of the suspected killers in the massacre in Paris and the image that emerges is that of a loser who finally succumbed to the influence of a radical Islamic preacher and allowed himself to become radicalized.  Rather than blame himself for his failings, he came to believe western society was the culprit behind his failure in life.  Anything rather than admit he himself and his own bad choices might be responsible for his seemingly dead end life.  The mindset reminds me of the professional "ex-gays" - most of whom in my opinion seem to have been drug users and losers in general - before they "found religion" and latched onto the ex-gay game to find purpose and, most importantly, respectability at least in limited circles.  

I compare Chérif Kouachi with professional ex-gays because in both cases the embrace of fundamentalist religion was their solution to failed lives.  What is most striking to me about Islam is that it once supported a culture that valued knowledge and learning until the fundamentalist strain grew and dragged Islamic culture backwards in time.  Much as Christianity led to the Dark Ages in Europe and the loss of knowledge that had spread across the Greco-Roman world.  Indeed, it was the Muslim societies that preserved knowledge during Europe's descent into ignorance and kept learning alive until Europe began to rise again during the Renaissance.

One has to wonder when and how fundamentalist Islam will be forced to die.  Like fundamentalist Christianity, which in America wants to embrace ignorance and outlaw anything that questions the ignorance and superstition that are its hallmarks, fundamentalist Islam fights against knowledge, learning, tolerance towards others, and is steeped in hate.  With access to knowledge at an unprecedented level, what psychosis and mental instability drives someone to embrace ignorance, hate and violence towards others?  And why is fundamentalist religion seemingly always part of the path to such actions?

Again, I can only believe that a world free of all religion would be a better place for mankind.  If we want to end human rights abuses across the globe, a first step is eliminating fundamentalist religion.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

More Wednesday Male Beauty

RedState Editor Erick Erickson Compares Gays to Paris Terrorists

Want proof of the delusional insanity of the Christofascists and their GOP political whores?  Look no farther than Erick Erickson (pictured at left), editor of the far right sir, RedState, who in a bout of verbal diarrhea compared gays to the murderers who killed 12 and wounded many others in Paris.  The offense committed by gays?  The firing of Kelvin Cochran, the Chief of the Atlanta Fire Department, who refused to cease forcing his self-published anti-gay book on subordinates despite orders that he stop doing so.  The irony is that Erickson fails to see that it is he, and his fellow Christofacists, who share the same mindset of the shooters in Paris who are the real terrorists in this country.  Here are excerpts from Erickson's rant:
A publisher published something that offended. It mocked, it offended, and it showed the fallacy of a religion. It angered.

So the terrorists decided they needed to publicly destroy and ruin the publisher in a way that would not only make that destruction a public spectacle, but do it so spectacularly that others would think twice before publishing or saying anything similar.

The terrorist wants to sow fear. The destruction of an individual is not just meant to be a tool of vengeance, but a tool of instruction. It shows others what will happen to them if they dare do the same. It is generates self-regulating peer pressure. Others, fearing the fall out, will being to self-police and self-regulate. They will silence others on behalf of the terrorists. Out of fear, they will drive the ideas from the public square and society will make them off limits.

It is not because the ideas are bad, but because the ideas offend a group that can destroy and tear down.

So when a publisher published something that mocked and offended a group prone to offense at such things, something had to happen.

The terrorists did what had to be done to publicly destroy and ruin the offender.

So they demanded the Mayor of Atlanta fire the Chief of the Fire Department for daring to write that his first duty was to “glory God” and that any sex outside of heterosexual marriage was a sin.

And the terrorists won in Atlanta.
I continue to ponder how someone gets this deranged/mentally ill.

Religion's War on Freedom Strike in Paris

Suspected shooter in Paris Massacre
Religion - or in this case, conservative Islam - has added new names to the death toll that goes hand in glove with religion over the centuries.  For centuries, those deemed guilty of blasphemy or who refused to live by certain creeds and beliefs have been murdered by the "true believers" who, due to their own psychological issues, religious brainwashing, and/or ignorance, cannot stand to see anything or anyone challenge or mock their delusional fairy tale like religious myths.   I increasingly view deep religious fundamentalism to be a form of mental illness.  The New York Times has new details on the cowardly mass killing at the offices of French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris.  Here are highlights:
The terrorist attack by masked gunmen on the newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, left 12 people dead — including the top editor, prominent cartoonists and police officers — and was among the deadliest in postwar France.

Officials said late Wednesday that the suspects had been identified and that two were brothers. They were identified as Said and Cherif Kouachi, 32 and 34, and Hamyd Mourad, 18. French news reports said the brothers had been born in Paris, raising the prospect that homegrown Muslim extremists were responsible.

Officials and witnesses said at least two gunmen carried out the attack with automatic weapons and an unusual degree of military-style precision. President François Hollande of France called it a display of extraordinary “barbarism” that was “without a doubt” an act of terrorism. 

The Paris prosecutor, François Molins, said witnesses said the attackers had screamed “Allahu akbar!” or “God is great!” during the attack, which the police characterized as a “slaughter.”
Corinne Rey, a cartoonist known as Coco, who was at the newspaper office during the attack, told Le Monde that the attackers spoke fluent French and had said they were part of Al Qaeda.

An amateur video of the assailants’ subsequent gunfight with the police, showed the men shouting, “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad. We have killed Charlie Hebdo!” The video, the source of which could not be verified, also showed the gunmen killing a police officer as he lay wounded on a nearby street.

The victims at Charlie Hebdo included some of the country’s most revered and iconoclastic cartoonists. The weekly’s editorial director, Stéphane Charbonnier, had already been received light police protection after earlier threats, the police and the prosecutor said. An officer assigned to guard the newspaper’s offices and its top editor was among the victims.

Mr. Molins, the prosecutor, said that two men armed with AK-47 rifles and wearing black hoods, had forced their way into the weekly’s offices about 11:30 a.m., firing at people in the lobby, before making their way to the newsroom on the second floor, interrupting a news meeting and firing at the assembled journalists.

The attackers then fled outside, where they clashed three times with the police, shooting one officer as he lay on the ground on a nearby street.

One journalist who was at the weekly during the attack and asked that her name not be used, texted a friend after the shooting: “I’m alive. There is death all around me. Yes, I am there. The jihadists spared me.”
What's frightening is that religious extremists - both Christian and Muslim - want to deprive others of freedom of expression and freedom of religion - and/or freedom from religion.  Their beliefs are so fragile and psychotic that they cannot tolerate anyone who suggests that their beliefs are based on lies or myths.  These religious fundamentals deserve no deference, no respect and their belief systems need to be irradiated.

The publisher of Charlie Hebdo who was murdered in Paris
Four of the murder victims

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Scaremongering Begins Ahead of Ireland Vote on Marriage Equality

Christian elements in Ireland - using that term loosely, especially in regard to the morally bankrupt  Catholic Church - have begun a scaremongering campaign in advance of the vote in May that would legalize same sex marriage in the former bastion of Catholicism.  Among the slogans being used is "Should children be exposed to the sound of sodomy" (I'm not sure what those sounds might be) and other phrases denigrating gays and depicting gays as child predators.  Gay Star News looks at the anti-gay effort to impose one set of religious belief on all citizens.  Here are highlights:

With a referendum due in Ireland in May on the issue of same-sex marriage, campaigning between opposing factions is intensifying.

Although early opinion polls estimated that 70% of the country supported equal marriage, in the last fortnight, several Government politicians have said that the vote could me much closer than previously anticipated, and that LGBT campaigners cannot afford to be complacent.

Now, in a controversial twist that has set Twitter alight, a Christian group has found itself widely mocked for producing pamphlets encouraging people to vote against same-sex marriage.

Why? Because, according to the group’s literature, children must be protected from ‘the sounds of sodomy’.

In the pamphlet, titled ‘Should children be exposed to the sounds of sodomy?’, the group says that, ‘it’s time for Christians of conscience to examine the dire consequences for the innocent if homosexuals are given access to the sacrament of marriage.’

Should children be exposed to this beastly obsession with unholy acts? Should the sounds of sodomy echo in the halls of a Christian home?’

The leaflets were reportedly handed out yesterday in Dublin. . . . the pamphlet elicited a huge backlash on social . . . 

Can't you feel the "Christian love"?   I'd say that children are better off hearing the sound of sodomy than being indoctrinated with the hate, bigotry and ignorance that passes for Christian belief.