Saturday, February 14, 2015

Bible Belt States Lead in Advance Ticket Sales of 5o Shades of Grey

Apparently, just as the Bible Belt leads in Internet Porn usage, so too do they lead in a lust to see the movie "50 Shades of Grey."  Even more delicious is the fact that top advance ticket sales have been in Tupelo, Mississippi, home of the hate group "American Family Association.  Hypocrisy remains a hallmark of the "godly folk."  The New Civil Rights Movement has details:

[A]dvance ticket sales for the movie "50 Shades of Grey" have been pretty spectacular, and no faster than in the bible belt, of course. Mississippi, Arkansas, and West Virginia top the list, and no town has done better for the film than Tupelo, where many shows have sold out. 

Tupelo, of course is home to the anti-gay hate group and Christian ministry, American Family Association. The group's most famous face is Bryan Fischer, their radio host and now-former spokesperson, after a particularly embarrassing series of events forced them to distance themselves from him.

The AFA has denounced the film, calling it "damaging," and saying a "more apt title for the movie would be ‘Fifty Shades of Evil.’"
 Why do I suspect that sexually repressed women married to overweight, chauvinist "good old boys" have been the top purchasers?

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Hillary Clinton’s Money Issues

Since Bill Clinton left the White House, the Clintons have done very well financially and, with income inequality a new hot ticket item - even Republicans are pretending to be concerned about the issue even as GOP controlled state legislatures are passing tax cuts for the rich while raising "user fees" that hit the poor hardest - the question becomes whether or not the Clintons' ties to big money will undermine Hillary's would be populist message.  A piece in The New Yorker looks at the situation.  Here are highlights:
This week, as the Democratic National Committee was preparing to announce that Philadelphia will host the Party’s 2016 convention, Hillary Clinton’s still undeclared Presidential campaign was running into a media squall about money—two of them, actually. First, David Brock, the conservative activist turned liberal activist, resigned from Priorities USA Action, a big money-raising group that is supporting Clinton, and accused the group of taking part in an “orchestrated political hit job” on two other pro-Clinton groups that Brock is involved with. Then, the Guardian revealed that a number of wealthy donors to the Clinton Foundation, a philanthropic organization set up by Bill Clinton, were clients of the Swiss division of H.S.B.C., a big bank that is embroiled in a tax-avoidance scandal.

The upshot of the Brock story was that Hillary’s money guys and gals are squabbling, and that Priorities USA Action, the political-action committee that spent seventy-five million dollars supporting Barack Obama, in 2012, is off to a slow start this year. (According to Politico, it had less than half a million dollars in the bank at the end of 2014.) The Guardian story, which was based on leaked documents from H.S.B.C., identified seven rich donors to the Clinton Foundation who had bank accounts at H.S.B.C.’s Geneva branch. One of them, Richard Caring, a British entrepreneur, “used his tax-free Geneva account to transfer $1m into the New York-based foundation,” the newspaper reported. “The HSBC records suggest Caring’s $1m donation was paid in return for former president Bill Clinton’s attendance at a lavish costume charity ball organised by Caring in St Petersburg, Russia.”

Outside of the political bubble, I doubt that one likely 2016 voter in twenty noticed either of these articles, or the follow-ups. But, at a moment when Hillary is reported to be consulting with numerous experts about how to tackle rising inequality, the articles raise anew an awkward question: How far will the Clinton family’s ties to moneyed interests complicate Hillary’s efforts to fashion a populist campaign built around the theme of defending the middle class?

One way of seeking to answer that question is to point out that, in politics (and philanthropy, too), cultivating donors and raising a lot of money are unavoidable parts of the business. And, although some people, myself among them, will never be wholly persuaded that he who pays the piper doesn’t call the tune, the average voter doesn’t seem to judge candidates by their financial backers. 

Perhaps Clinton can recapture the spirit and message she displayed in the summer and fall of 2008. First, though, she will need to reinforce her defenses against the attacks that are sure to come from the left and the right.

One way to do that is to put together a formidable campaign apparatus and a big war chest. Until the Brock story broke, few people in the political world had believed that these objectives would present a major issue. Evidently, they might. The first task facing John Podesta, the departing White House official who is slated to become chairman of the Clinton campaign, will be to gather together the various Democratic fund-raising groups and persuade them to coƶperate. That won’t necessarily be easy.
The issues relating to the Clinton Foundation, which Bill Clinton founded in 2001, go beyond internecine conflict and bruised egos. Some people close to the Clintons have long been concerned that the foundation’s biggest venture, the Clinton Global Initiative, could present some vulnerabilities for Hillary. In its own words, the C.G.I. “convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges,” 

The Guardian was careful to avoid any suggestion of illegality. “It is not unlawful for US or other non-Swiss citizens to hold accounts in Geneva and there is no evidence any of the Clinton donors with Geneva accounts evaded tax,” the story said.. . . And, in addition, “it is not against US law or charity regulation to accept donations from non-US citizens, or from overseas accounts.”

This is a legitimate debate to have—and Hillary, at some point, may well be obliged to engage in it. Indeed, she might be eager to do so. From her perspective, discussing how many lives the Clinton Foundation has improved in sub-Saharan Africa and other deprived regions would be a lot more palatable than getting dragged into the tax affairs of some rich “friends of Bill” or the infighting among her fundraisers.

The GOP's Gay Marriage Dodge

For nearly 20 years the Republican Party has been welcoming the racist, homophobic Christofascists into the party and in the process causing sane, rational moderates to flee the insane asylum that the GOP has become.  Nowhere is this result of this process - I view it as a metastasizing cancer - becoming more difficult for the GOP than on the issue of gay marriage where a majority of Americans support marriage equality and upwards of 80% of younger voters support it.  Even as society has changed, the Christofascist have become ever more vociferous in their anti-gay hatred.  The craziness in Alabama is but one example of the increased insanity - and disregard for the federal courts and U.S. Constitution - that is now pervasive in the GOP base.  The few sane Republicans left find themselves trying to avoid the issue altogether.  A piece in Politico looks at the quandry.  Here are excerpts:

Republicans eyeing the presidency nearly all insist that states should make their own decisions on whether to allow same-sex marriage.  But the latest dispute in Alabama? That’s a topic they’d rather avoid.

When pressed on the fight in the Deep South state, where the chief justice has ordered county officials to ignore a federal court ruling permitting same-sex marriages, likely GOP 2016 contenders reached by POLITICO or interviewed elsewhere have largely tried to sidestep specifics.

Even some of the most conservative hopefuls prefer instead to talk more broadly about federalism and states’ rights, comments that come as the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional right applicable nationwide.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s answer is a typical example: “The problem is, I just don’t know the details of what arguments they are using” in Alabama, he said, adding that while he has “always believed that marriage has always been defined by states and regulated by states and should continue to be,” he would respect the Supreme Court decision.

The overall cautious responses to the Alabama case expose that there’s a limit to how far Republicans will go to oppose same-sex marriage as they prepare for a presidential election.

For one thing, even as the conservative base still strongly opposes gay marriage, the broader electorate is increasingly open to the idea. A May Gallup poll showed that 55 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, while just 30 percent of Republicans and 31 percent of self-described conservatives favor it.

Although Moore says he is taking a stand against federal intrusion, a favorite rallying cry for conservatives, experts note note that his legal arguments are shaky at best. His statements also have at times been provocative, making it even tougher for Republicans to line up behind him.

The fact that the latest flashpoint is in Alabama, where the call for states’ rights was part of its civil rights-era resistance to federal desegregation orders, makes the issue more sensitive for the GOP, which has long struggled among minority voters.

Still, it’s striking to see so many Republicans tread so carefully on an issue that less than a decade ago was a big political winner.

“There’s an understanding that a focus on the marriage equality fight is, No. 1, not a winning issue” for Republicans, said Gregory Angelo, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans.

“You’ll see more and more Republicans, like [former Florida Gov.] Jeb Bush recently, trying to carve out some middle ground,” said Richard Socarides, a former Clinton administration adviser and a gay rights advocate.

And then there’s Moore himself, who has drawn comparisons to former Gov. George Wallace, who invoked the states’ rights defense in arguing against school desegregation in the 1960s.

“There’s definitely resonances between Wallace’s opposition to federal court authority and some of the things chief justice Moore has been saying,” Krotoszynski said, noting both Wallace and Moore’s use of the phrase “tyranny” to describe federal involvement.

In an interview earlier this week, Moore said that even though he has “many friends that are homosexual,” he wouldn’t attend a gay wedding and he doesn’t believe the Supreme Court has the authority to “re-define marriage.”

The real problem with extremists like Moore, Huckabee, Santorum, et al, is that they refuse to recognize that there is a difference between CIVIL LAW marriage and religious  denomination marriage.  Churches and denominations can continue whatever myths and fairy tales they want, but those myths and fairy tales have no place whatsoever in the civil law.  Injecting them into the civil laws is in effect, an attempt to establish a religious dogma in the civil laws which violates the U.S. Constitution.

What's Really Wrong With Alabama

Right now it's a fun time to be in Mobile, Alabama - gay marriages have commenced and this coming Tuesday is Mardi Gras.   It is the height of the Mardi Gras season.  When I lived in Alabama, the Mardi Gras season was perhaps the most interesting and social time of year and, through the law firm I belonged to, we went to many of the balls.  One favorite was the Dominao Ball at the Athelstan Club where I was a member and, were I still in Mobile, we'd likely be headed to the Mystics of Time Ball tonight, and Infant Mystics Ball on Monday night (a full schedule of the many balls is here).  Tomorrow is Joe Cain Day and is part of the story behind the term "raising Cain."  

Behind this fun and revelry, however, there remains a deep sickness particularly outside of the Catholic dominated Gulf coast part of the state.  The sickness?  The embrace of religious based ignorance especially among Baptists and evangelical Christians.  The Mobile Press Register ran an op-ed yesterday by a Baptist minister that crystallizes the ignorance and bigotry that continues to poison Alabama and much of the Deep South.  In the op-ed, Pastor Morris ignores all modern scientific knowledge, ignores the reality that polygamy was the normative form of marriage in the Old Testament, and more or less demonstrates why decent people need to make folks like Morris social pariahs and call them out for their ignorance.  Here are snippets of the batshitery that Morris thinks constitute a reasoned argument against gay marriage:
[M]arriage between one man and one woman is the Biblical mandate for the family.  (Genesis 2:21-24) God not only ordained marriage but performed the first marriage when He brought Eve to Adam. . . . . He did not bring a man to Adam but a woman.  Homosexuality is wrong in the sight of God as is indicated in numerous passages in the Bible.  You may not agree with how God established marriage but there is no doubt about marriage between one man and one woman as being the mandate God established, historically, from the beginning.
The problem for Morris, of course is that the human genome project has confirmed that Adam and Eve never existed. NEVER.    Like most Southern Baptist, Morris cannot accept this truth because it causes the entire Christian story line to collapse.  If there's no Adam and Eve, there's no "Fall" and hence no need for a Messiah.   Then there's also the problem of Morris' reliance on the Bible which in terms of the Old Testament was the work of wandering goat herders who were less than knowledgeable sources on the origin of the planet and mankind.  But Morris' batshitery continues and ignores much of the Bible:
Second, marriage between one man and one woman is the biological mold established for the family. (Genesis 1:27-28)  Not only did God establish marriage but He also created man to be the means of procreation. . . . . Third, marriage between one man and one woman is the building block of civilized society.  (Genesis 1:29-31) 
Never mind that as noted in other posts, in the Old Testament polygamy was the norm.  Morris utterly ignores King Solomon's huge number of wives not to mention concubines.  In short, Morris engages in the all too typical hypocrisy of "godly Christians" and picks and chooses what he wants from the Bible as if he's making selections from column A and column B in a Chinese menu.  And then Morris enages in one of the biggest lies of the Christofascits:
The right side of history records the fact that of all the great civilizations that rose to power and fell many did so because of a deterioration of family values.  Included in that collapse is the history that there was a breakdown in the family as the cornerstone of society.  Rome was one of the most powerful empires to ever exist. 
Morris conveniently ignores that many historians - as opposed to snake oil merchant pastors - blame the rise of CHRISTIANITY and its undermining of the imperial order as perhaps one of the largest reasons Rome feel.  But who cares about facts when one's a charlatan pastor fleecing the gullible.

The real problem in Alabama is that cretins and shysters like Morris are still afforded deference and respect.  They need to be shunned and laughed out of polite and educated society.  Airbus Industries is building a huge plant in Mobile, but an improved economy will not bring Alabama into the 21st century.  That will only happen when politicians cease prostituting themselves to the likes of Morris and when an educated populace look on folks like Morris with disdain.  That day cannot come soon enough. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Morning Male Beauty

The GOP is Still Crazy

I find it maddening how much of the media either merely parrots the talking points of GOP apologists or is all to ready to promote the myth that there is a real reform movement within the Republican Party.  All one need do is look at the actions of GOP legislators and their flat earth proposals to realize that reform is a myth being peddled to dupe the gullible just as Chimperator George Bush campaigned on the dubious tag line of "compassionate conservatism" in 2000.  The Virginia House of Delagates is but one example of how far reality is from the myth of moderation or reform.  A piece in Salon looks at the deep seated - and perhaps increasing - insanity of the Republican party.  Here are excerpts:

It is a cardinal rule of horserace-style political journalism in the U.S. that no two elections can have the same narrative. That’s not to say certain tropes aren’t repeated ad nauseam. But it is to say that that the press corps’ desire to mitigate the unavoidable, soul-crushing monotony of a campaign often causes it to flip the script from one election to the next, despite politics in the real world changing much more slowly. If you look at the way the media’s covered the ongoing “invisible primary” to be the GOP’s next presidential nominee, you’ll see the narrative for 2016 is being pre-written already.

[B]ecause the story after 2012 focused on the Tea Party pulling Mitt Romney too far to the right, the narrative for 2016 will be about the Republican “establishment” throwing its weight around to nominate an ostensibly more moderate, electable candidate. The bland, cautious, managerial Republican Party of yesteryear is back! The crusading, militant and extremist Tea Party is over!
Except, well, it isn’t.

It’s not over in the U.S. Congress, where a shutdown-in-miniature is unfolding between the White House and the Tea Party wing of the GOP. It’s not over in Wisconsin, where a Tea Party-darling governor is slashing the state university system’s funding, changing its mission statement (while lying about it), and fighting tooth and nail to humiliate people on government benefits. It’s not over in North Carolina, where a billionaire-backed Tea Party government is also going after the public university system in its effort to turn the state into Kansas. And it’s not over in South Carolina, where one state representative hopes to mainline National Rifle Association propaganda to a generation of public school students.

Let’s stick with the South Carolina example for a moment, because I think it tells us much about the contemporary GOP’s character. According to Kimberly Johnson of Al Jazeera America, the recent decision on the part of PTR Industries, a gun manufacturer, to move its headquarters from Connecticut to South Carolina has inspired Republican state Rep. Alan Clemmons to propose what he’s calling the “Second Amendment Education Act.” As the name implies, the bill would “provide all public elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools” with “instruction in the Second Amendment” for no fewer than “three consecutive weeks in one grading period in each academic year.” The curriculum would be written by the NRA, of course.

“It’s a big handshake,” is how PTR Industries purchasing manager Bob Grabowski described Clemmons’ bill. “It’s a big ‘hello’.” He recounted how his company was treated by South Carolina locals, who are desperate for good-paying jobs in a state where the unemployment rate remains significantly higher than the national average. He and his co-workers were made to feel, he said, like “rock stars.”

The communications director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Ladd Everitt, told Al Jazeera that the possibility of the NRA writing a three-week-long curriculum is “a nightmare,” because the organization “endorses an insurrectionist interpretation of the Second Amendment.” As if there wasn’t enough of this in South Carolina already, an NRA-penned review of American history would leave millions of children under the impression that the Framers saw the Constitution much the same as the men behind the Confederate States of America.

[T]he Republican Party is still being driven by the Tea Party. And the Tea Party remains what it’s always been: A collection of dedicated, unsentimental and ambitious ideologues who don’t see themselves as responsible, competent managers, but as conservative crusaders on a transformative, holy mission.

Federal Judge Orders Alabama Probate Judges to Marry Gay Couples

Robert Povilat and Milton Persinger being married
Once again Alabama has chosen to be forced into accepting equality and modernity in general.  Yesterday Judge Callie V. S. "Ginny" Granade of Federal District Court in Mobile made it clear that her order striking down Alabama's same sex marriage ban applied to all probate judges in the state and that federal law, particularly the U.S. Constitution, trumps state law - something a high school government student should know, but which is beyond the comprehension of the knuckle draggers in Alabama, especially those in the Alabama GOP.  As a result, same sex marriages began late yesterday in Mobile County and today they will begin in Baldwin County on the east side of Mobile Bay.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the forced change finally coming to what ought to be called the "make me state".  Here are excerpts:
A federal judge here ruled on Thursday that the local probate judge cannot refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, potentially adding some clarity to a judicial quarrel that has roiled Alabama for most of a week.

The order by Judge Callie V. S. Granade of Federal District Court came after a brief hearing and prompted cheers and crying in the halls of the probate court here, where several couples obtained licenses and were married before the license office closed.

While Judge Granade had declared Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional on Jan. 23, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy S. Moore, insisted in his own order Sunday night that Judge Granade’s ruling did not apply to the state’s probate judges and directed them not to comply. 
The ruling on Thursday was the first in this case with a probate judge as a defendant — Judge Don Davis of Mobile County — and was seen by lawyers for the gay couples who brought the case as a clear signal to probate judges around the state what their duties were.

In a relatively straightforward order, Judge Granade restated her finding that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and concluded that if the couples before her “take all steps that are required in the normal course of business as a prerequisite to issuing a marriage license to opposite-sex couples, Judge Davis may not deny them a license on the ground that plaintiffs constitute same-sex couples.”

Judge Davis almost immediately began issuing licenses to same-sex couples, but it was unclear whether other probate judges would follow suit. As of noon on Thursday, judges in 23 Alabama counties were issuing licenses to all couples, in 18 counties to straight couples only and in 26 to no couples at all, according to a tally kept by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group.

Bill English, the probate judge in Lee County, had been declining to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples this week. Reached by phone Thursday afternoon, he said he had read Judge Granade’s order and interpreted it as applying to him.  “We’ll begin issuing licenses tomorrow morning,” he said, adding that “a number” of same-sex couples had inquired about applying for a license this week.

Chief Justice Moore did not return messages seeking comment on Thursday. In past interviews and in his order Sunday, however, he has argued that lower federal court rulings are not binding on state courts.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they would not hesitate to bring legal action in other counties if probate judges continued to deny licenses to same-sex couples.

How widespread that may be in rural counties where the probate courts keep limited hours will most likely not be known until Friday or even next week. But none of that mattered in Mobile, where, a little after 4 p.m., the weeklong vigil at the Probate Court became a party. Couples embraced, lawyers cheered and people began taking pictures with the court police officers whom they had gotten to know over the last few days.

First in line before the marriage license window were two of the plaintiffs, Robert Povilat, 60, and Milton Persinger, 47, both wearing boutonnieres and with tears in their eyes.
Having lived in Mobile and Baldwin Counties, the area is beautiful and many of the people are truly gracious.  The main problem, as is the case with too many parts of America, is the "godly Christians" who are increasingly the driving force behind hate, bigotry, racism and homophobia as they insist that their rights trump those of everyone else.

Virginia Republicans Kill Remaining Pro-Gay Bills

Despite the fact that a majority of Virginians support nondiscrimination protections for LGBT state employees and even the conservative Richmond Times Dispatch called for passage of the measure, Virginia Republicans in the GOP controlled House of Delegates killed SB 785 in committee and never allowed it to reach the House floor for a vote.   Why?  Because the hate group, The Family Foundation gets what it wants from prostitute like Republicans that who lick the shoes of TFF president Victoria Cobb after sticking their noses so far up her ass its a wonder they don't suffocate.  Hate and bigotry ALWAYS triumph with the Virginia GOP.  Here are details from the Washington Blade on the fate of SB 785 and a bill that would have made Virginia's marriage laws gender neutral:

Members of the Virginia House of Delegates on Thursday killed two bills that would have extended rights to the commonwealth’s LGBT residents.

The House General Laws Subcommittee tabled Senate Bill 785 that would have banned anti-LGBT discrimination against state and local government employees.

The Virginia Senate earlier this month approved the measure that state Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) introduced. Lieutenant Gov. Ralph Northam cast the tie-breaking vote that allowed SB 785 to pass.

“It is shameful that this subcommittee can’t come together in support of a common sense bill that reflects the beliefs held by the majority of Virginians,” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, in a statement. “Ideology should not stand in the way of achieving fairness and equality — something that would benefit all Virginians.”

Members of the House Courts of Justice Subcommittee on Thursday tabled Senate Bill 1211 that would have added gender-neutral language to Virginia’s marriage laws.

“It does not remove any references to husbands or wives in the code,” said gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), who sponsored SB 1211, on Thursday during a hearing on his bill. “It just merely says that all legally married people… we use the word ‘spouse,’ would be subject to the same laws and they should not be subject to language confusion or worse yet be able to exploit the language loopholes to avoid their responsibilities under Virginia law.”

The state Senate on Feb. 3 approved SB 1211.

The House Courts of Justice Subcommittee tabled the measure one day before the first anniversary of U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen’s ruling that struck down Virginia’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Gays and lesbians began to legally marry in the commonwealth last Oct. 6 after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that upheld Allen’s decision.

“The realities of 2015 are here, like it or not,” said Ebbin during Thursday’s hearing on SB 1211 before the House Courts of Justice Subcommittee. “We owe the Virginians who are legally married couples recognition under the law.”

The Virginia GOP has become something truly ugly and the ugliness traces back to the rise of the Christofascists in the party.  That's right, the racism, war against women, and anti-gay jihad all increased with the rise of the "godly folk" in the Republican Party of Virginia.  Come November, voters need to get off their butts and vote the Republicans out!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

More Thursday Male Beauty

Conservatives Praise Severely Flawed Study About Same-Sex Parents

Dishonest "researcher" Donald Sullins
This blog has noted a number of times the hugely flawed gay parenting "study" issued by Mark Regnerus.  Indeed, the study was so flawed that Regnerus' own department trashed both Regnerus and his anti-gay report that was funded by right wing anti-gay groups,  Now, Donald Paul Sullins, a Catholic priest and sociology professor at Catholic University of America who is also a fellow of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, a project of Family Research Council, a certified hate group, has authored a similar study that seeming decided the anti-gay findings it wanted to derive and then manipulated data and facts to purportedly support the preordained conclusions. As I have said many, many times, no one lies more often or more deliberately than the "godly folk."   Both Regnerus and now Sullins need to be expelled from the faculties of their respective universities.   Think Progress looks at this latest religious extremist propaganda smear piece.  Here are highlights:
Conservatives are excitedly promoting a new study that supposedly reveals negative outcomes for the children of same-sex parents. Like the infamously flawed Mark Regnerus study rushed out two years ago, the new study seems timed to impact the Supreme Court’s upcoming consideration of marriage equality for same-sex couples. It suffers, however, from some of the same flaws and biases as Regnerus’ study, and doesn’t actually support the argument against marriage equality that it tries to make.

The new study comes from Donald Paul Sullins, a Catholic priest and sociology professor at Catholic University of America. Sullins is a fellow of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, a project of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council, and a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus, which has funneled millions of dollars into fighting marriage equality over the past decade. In 2010, he co-wrote a study suggesting that female homosexuality was somehow connected to growing up in a broken home, and when he has written about same-sex marriage, he uses scare quotes around the word “marriage.”

Sullins conducted an analysis of data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) that had been collected from 1997-2013. He concluded that information about the 512 same-sex parents identified in the study demonstrates that their children have more emotional problems compared to couples raised by their biological different-sex couples.

One of the first major flaws, however, is the fact that Sullins has no information about whether the same-sex couples were actually married. As he notes, “Almost all opposite-sex parents who are raising joint biological offspring are in intact marriages, but very few, if any, same-sex parents were married during the period under observation.”

No conclusions can actually be drawn about the impacts of legalizing same-sex marriage because the study, by its own admission, collected no data about same-sex marriage or its effect on children. 

Regnerus himself provides an overview of the research. In his attempt to defend it, however, he in turn reveals that it also has the very same flaws as his own study.

As a vehicle for opposing same-sex marriage, the study severely lacks integrity, as its political positions don’t jibe with its data.  

Conservatives praise these studies for their large samples, eagerly highlighting their negative results while ignore the distortions required to arrive at them. A recent large study from Australia with a similarly-sized pool of same-sex parents who had actually raised children together as couples found that the children have quite positive outcomes. Indeed, there are ample studies that consistently justify the medical community’s support for same-sex couples to have equal access to marriage and joint adoption for their families. As Regnerus himself pointed out, when researchers don’t conflate same-sex families with unstable homes, the results are positive.
It is also noteworthy that Sullins is a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus, an organization that has consistently supported bishops and cardinals who covered up for and abetted predator priests and threatened and intimidated abuse victims and their families.   The K of C was founded to protect widows and children but over the years its main focus has been to support the corrupt Church hierarchy and throw children under the bus. 

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

The GOP "Reformicon” Sham

Of late one hears more and more about Republicans who allegedly want reform - so-called Reformicons - and claim to be concerned about the GOP war on the middle class.  Among these would be reformers - I see them more as snake oil merchants looking to dupe the naive - is, of course, Jeb Bush.  While some of these folks talk a good game, the reality of what they want and/or their ability to deliver are vastly exaggerated.  A piece in Salon looks at this phenomenon.  Here are excerpts:

I’m a fan of Edsall’s work, and he’s probably forgotten more about American politics and journalism than I’ll ever know. Still, the reality is that his reformicon profile, while being far from the worst of an already voluminous genre (a distinction that goes to Sam Tanehaus’ piece from last summer) suffers from the same mistakes as nearly all of the rest. It exaggerates the reformicons’ influence, it minimizes their conservative orthodoxy, and it ignores the fact that they lack the one crucial element of any successful political reform movement: a dedicated constituency. 

I’ve said it once before but it bears repeating: There is much less to the reformicon project than meets the eye. It’s the Potemkin village of political movements.

[E]arly indicators suggest that the GOP plan for combating inequality will be to promote the same supply-side nostrums they’ve peddled since 1980 — but to do it while saying the word “opportunity” a bunch. But as George W. Bush proved in 2000, a candidate can absolutely lie his ass off and still win.

The biggest problem with the rosy view of the reformicons, though, can be seen in a reply from National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru, who is one of the more prominent reformicons. As Jonathan Chait has correctly noted before, the reformicons are in the awkward position of wanting to change their party but being unable to do so through the usual means: by engaging in and winning a political fight. . . . the reformicons have no real popular base or influential constituency. The evangelical Christians, the Tea Party pseudo-libertarians, the hawks in the military industrial complex, the billionaire donors like the Kochs; none of the relevant, powerful interests within the party particularly care if the tax credit for children is expanded. Indeed, as Edsall’s piece notes, many of the current stakeholders in the party are not just indifferent to but in active opposition to the few new ideas the reformicons have.

[H]ere’s what a closer look at the ballyhooed reformicon movement reveals: a relatively small group of relatively young writers speaking to a relatively small audience about a few relatively modest tweaks they’d like to make to what is otherwise a very conservative agenda.
The American public needs to not be fooled by this latest version of smoke and mirrors being trotted out by some in the GOP.  NOTHING has really changed.  And nothing will change in the GOP until it stops prostituting itself to Christofascists, white supremacists and vulture capitalists like the Koch brothers.

The GOP, Muslims, Marriage and Bigotry

As noted in a post yesterday, three Muslim students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were murdered by a neighbor who reportedly had a problem with Muslims among others.  Meanwhile, in Alabama we see state court judges refusing to follow federal court rulings that have struck down that state's bans on same sex marriage.  What do these events have in common?  So-called "conservatives" or more specifically, the Republican Party which has made pandering to racists and religious extremists a core part of the GOP platform.  Indeed, in 2012, Tony Perkins, a hate group leader with KKK ties, was allowed to draft a portion of the GOP national platform.  Demonizing others and depicting them as "other" has become a GOP staple.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the dangers of extremist bigotry.  Here are excerpts:

In North Carolina, three young Muslims who were active in charity work were murdered, allegedly by a man who identified as atheist and expressed hostility to Islam and other faiths. Police are exploring whether it was a hate crime, and it spurred a #MuslimLivesMatter campaign on Twitter.

And, in Alabama, we see judges refusing to approve marriages of any kind because then they would also have to approve same-sex marriages. In one poll conducted last year, some 59 percent of people in Alabama opposed gay marriage. Somehow a loving God is cited to bar loving couples from committing to each other.

These are very different news stories. But I wonder if a common lesson from both may be the importance of resisting bigotry, of combating the intolerance that can infect people of any faith — or of no faith.

[I]t does seem useful for everyone to reflect on our capacity to “otherize” people of a different faith, race, nationality or sexuality — and to turn that other-ness into a threat. That’s what the Islamic State does to us. And sometimes that’s what we do, too.

There has been a pugnacious defensiveness among conservative Christians to any parallels between Christian overreach and Islamic overreach, as seen in the outraged reaction to President Obama’s acknowledgment at the National Prayer Breakfast this month that the West has plenty to regret as well. But Obama was exactly right: How can we ask Islamic leaders to confront extremism in their faith if we don’t acknowledge Christian extremism, from the Crusades to Srebrenica?

[O]ne message of the New Testament is the value of focusing on one’s own mistakes rather than those of others. “You hypocrite,” Jesus says in Matthew 7:5. “First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”  We could do with a little more of that spirit these days, at a time when everybody wants to practice ophthalmology on everyone else.

It seems odd to me that so many conservative Christians are obsessed with homosexuality, which Jesus never mentions, yet seem unworried about issues Jesus did emphasize like poverty and suffering. Jesus explicitly advised a wealthy man, “Go, sell your possessions and give to the poor” (Matthew 19:21), so maybe that’s the Scripture that Judge Moore should follow to demonstrate his piety.

Among Americans aged 18 to 24, a 2012 survey found that half or more describe present-day Christianity as “hypocritical,” “judgmental” and “anti-gay.” And more regarded it as immoral to view pornography than to have sex with a person of the same gender. Alabama is, once again, on the wrong side of history.

Yet it is precisely the poisonous, hypocritical form of Christianity with which the GOP has wrapped itself - along with white susupremacy and a  contempt for the U.S. Constitution and the rights it grants to others.