Saturday, February 21, 2015

Jeb Bush Picks Openly Gay Communications Director - Freepers Go Berserk

Tim Miller
Perhaps trying to moderate his image with younger voters and the growing number of voters who support gay marriage/equality, Jeb Bush has selected Tim Miller, currently the executive director of the America Rising PAC, as his top communications director.  The catch?  Miller is openly gay and not too sympathetic toward anti-gay zealots in the GOP base.  Politico has these details:
Jeb Bush plans to name Tim Miller, executive director of America Rising PAC, as his top communications aide, Republican sources told POLITICO on Friday.

Miller initially will be a senior adviser to Bush’s Right to Rise PAC, and is expected to become communications director if Bush launches his campaign. Kristy Campbell, who has been the PAC’s chief spokesperson, likely will be national press secretary of the campaign, or have some senior communications adviser role.
Blogger friend Jeremy Hooper is finding some delicious pleasure in the announcement:

Miller is an out gay man. But more than that, he loves to mock conservatives who speak about the ills of marriage equality.  For instance, he tweeted this about the fear mongering of groups like the Iowa Family Policy Council: 

He also mocked his fellow Republicans who say marriage equality hurts Rob Portman . . . He had no time for people making fun of Michael Sam.

The Christofascists are far less pleased with Miller's selection.   The lunatics at Free Republic - where Kool-Aid is consumed by the boat load - provides some examples of the spittle flecked rants:

This is a big mistake. I don't know why everyone feels the need to cave to these homo militants. Somebody is giving Jeb the wrong advice. I predict this homosexual activist is going to damage the campaign because of his disorder. I suspect he is a Dem plant.

Jeb Bush is SCUM!!!!!!!

Jeb is trying to anger the base. He may be succeeding.

I think he doesn’t give a hoot. It is The Up And Coming Thing and he wants to be On The Right Side Of History.  (Who cares what a perverted mess history is heading into)

. . . .  in the dreadful event that Jeb wins and goes on to the general election, the Communications Director will allow his true feelings to control Jeb’s messaging and will consciously sabotage the campaign. I agree that he is a Dem plant.

Ben Dover Parties will be popular with the Jeb Bush campaign

Excellent....his ass is grass and if Bushie gets the nom, we will have a lib dem muzzie loving high taxing gun hating prez....again.

The homosexuals appeal to the women perfectly.
This was probably at the insistence of that GOP billionaire Singer - who became a sudden funder of SSM causes just because his stupid son announced he loved to hump other men. What kind of weak bastard would change their entire worldview over that? Love is love. But God’s law is God’s.

Feel the love yet??  No one is more foul than today's "godly Christians."

Santorum and Jindal Join Hate Group Trip to Israel to Convert Jews

One of the most vile hate groups in America that hides behind the Christian label is Family Research Council ("FRC").  The organization is rabidly anti-gay, against women's rights and its leader, Tony Perkins has documented white supremacist ties.  One would think that respectable politicians would avid any involvement with such a foul organization.  That said, it's no surprise that Rick Santorum - in my view, a tortured closet gay suffering from hysterical levels of internalized homophobia - would join FRC's trip to Israel to convert Jews to save them from themselves, if you will.  In the case of Bobby Jindal, his presence on the trip shows that there is virtually no limit to the self-degradation Jindal will engage in to further his quest of endearing himself to the foulest elements of the Christofascist GOP base.  Right Wing Watch looks at this sad case of willing self-prostitution.  Here are excerpts:

After dozens of members of the Republican National Committee went on a trip to Israel sponsored by a notorious hate group that has repeatedly claimed that that Jewish Americans have no First Amendment rights and argued that Jewish immigrants should be forced to convert to Christianity, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal are now taking part in a visit to Israel organized by an organization with similar views.

The Family Research Council announced in an email to members today it is organizing an Israel tour with Santorum and Jindal, two likely Republican presidential candidates, along with End Times author Joel Rosenberg.

Jindal and Santorum’s decision to travel to Israel with FRC may raise eyebrows, given the group’s history of making dismissive comments about American Jews and expressing hope that Jews in Israel will convert to Christianity, a central theme of certain End Times narratives.

FRC Executive Vice President Jerry Boykin said last year that Jews who convert to Christianity are “fulfilled Jews,” claiming that missionary efforts should focus on Israeli Jews, who can learn from their Arab Christian neighbors.

Like Boykin, FRC President Tony Perkins, for his part, once attacked the “Jewish lobby” for its ties to Democratic elected officials, lamenting that Democrats “enjoy the money coming from the Jewish community.”

The FRC is also well-known for its extreme anti-gay views. For example, Perkins believes that gay rights supporters are planning a holocaust of Christians and are quite literally pawns of the Devil. As we’ve previously reported, Perkins has “defended Uganda’s ‘kill the gays’ bill and connected homosexuality to a whole host of evils, including death, sexual assault, depression, suicide, government population control, and child abuse. He has even compared homosexuality to shootings, kidnappings and alcoholism.”

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Hillary Clinton Begins Process of Vetting — Herself

Conscious of the fact that she is hated by many in the Christofascist/Tea Party base of the GOP - irrationally so, in my view - Hillary Clinton has hired a consulting firm to vet herself.  Stated another way, the firm will be researching things that could be hurled at Clinton during a presidential campaign, both by her opponent and dark money conservative PACs working against Clinton and  other Democrats.  A piece in the New York Times looks at this process.  Here are excerpts:
Hillary Rodham Clinton, the subject of intense news media attention and public scrutiny for the last three decades, is preparing for another thorough vetting as she plans for a likely presidential campaign. In this case, however, it’s not Republicans trying to thwart her or journalists looking for a juicy scoop, but researchers she herself has hired.

Mrs. Clinton, who is all but assured to seek the Democratic presidential nomination for a second time, has hired the firm New Partners, an outfit with a history of doing deep research projects, to handle at least some portion of the work, known in the political world as “self-opposition research.”

She is also close to hiring a research director for her likely campaign, a role that in the 2008 race was filled by Judd Legum, currently the editor in chief for the liberal news site ThinkProgress.

The scope of the firm’s work is unclear. But self-research is considered critical in campaigns. And in the six years since Mrs. Clinton was last a candidate, she has created a paper trail of paid speeches, charitable donations and diplomatic decisions as secretary of state.

For months, Democrats not aligned with Mrs. Clinton had privately wondered whether she had started the process of assessing the scope of existing documents, information and other potential material her rivals could use against her. Some expressed concern that she was beginning this self-scrubbing process relatively late, and might not leave herself enough time to learn about her own potential vulnerabilities to be able to respond effectively.

Their concerns were prompted by a string of stories by The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website that extensively reviewed archival material at the Clinton presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., and came up with an audio tape of Mrs. Clinton discussing a rape case she had worked on as a defense lawyer in the 1980s.

The tape was a reminder that, with so much scrutiny applied by the news media and Mrs. Clinton’s opponents in her public life, it’s a challenge for rivals to come up with new material, and to make any fresh information stick. That was a frequent problem for President Obama’s campaign when he ran against Mrs. Clinton in the primaries in 2008, when both were senators.

More recently, Republicans and reporters have turned their sights to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation for accepting donations from foreign countries after Mrs. Clinton left the State Department. The scrutiny has focused on which entities donated to the foundation, and whether there was any overlap with Mrs. Clinton’s diplomatic work.

[T]he focus on the foundation and its work is likely to be a source of ongoing focus for Mrs. Clinton’s opponents. And the spate of recent stories underscore why the self-research process is a relatively urgent task.

Abuse of Children Under the Smoke Screen of "Religious Freedom"

Which of these babies doesn't deserve to be treated?
A Michigan doctor's refusal to treat a 6 day old baby because her mothers were lesbian is drawing much needed attention to the hypocrisy of Christofascists who pretend and disingenuously claim to be concerned "about the children" even as their anti-gay policies harm children literally on a daily basis.  Indeed, one hears these lies from the hate merchants at The Family Foundation ("TFF"), Virginia's leading hate group, even as they oppose any measure that would give the children of gays the same social safety net protections enjoyed by the children of heterosexual couples (TFF also opposes Medicaid expansion that would bring access to health care to thousands of children).  A piece in Slate looks at both the Michigan situation and the larger damage done to children by the "godly folk."  Here are highlights:
Last September, Krista and Jami Contreras of Detroit met with Dr. Vesna Roi for a prenatal checkup. Believing they had developed a strong rapport with the pediatrician, the couple returned shortly after the birth of their child for the newborn’s routine wellness appointment. When they arrived, another doctor informed them that, after praying on it, Roi had decided to refuse to treat the 6-day-old baby girl. The reason? Her mothers are lesbians.

Roi’s willingness to inflict collateral damage on an infant just to express her anti-gay animus obviously makes her a monstrously immoral person, as well as a terrible doctor.

Under state and federal law, Roi’s actions were perfectly legal.  Even those conservatives who generally support legalized discrimination against LGBTQ people seem shocked by Roi’s decision. 

Who, after all, could have enough hate in their hearts to disadvantage a child just because of her parents’ identity?   Everybody who opposes same-sex marriage, actually. Few social movements actively harm American children—economically, socially, mentally, physically—as much as the battle against marriage equality. When states refuse to recognize gay parents’ marriages, they impose steep financial burdens on those parents’ children, forcing parents to pay more in taxes while preventing them and their children from obtaining state health care benefits and social services.

Children of unmarried gay couples could also be ineligible for health insurance through their parents on account of their state’s discriminatory laws. 

Economic impediments are only the most visible of a broad array of emotional and social scars these cruel laws inflict on children. In some states, gay parents are not permitted to jointly adopt their children, forcing one parent to be a legal stranger to his child. With no custodial rights over his child, a gay parent may be prohibited from authorizing medical treatment for his own child in the case of a medical emergency. 

Perhaps more distressingly, recent studies have confirmed that the stigma that conservatives foist upon the children of gay couples, married and unmarried, wreaks havoc on those children’s mental health. The often vicious debate over gay people’s relationships sends a message to their children that their parents are deviant, lesser-than—and that they, too, are inferior, for being part of an aberrant, ersatz family. We know, of course, that without this stigma, the children of gay couples would be just as happy and healthy as the children of straight couples. 

But thanks to the Christian right’s quest to demean and debase gay relationships, gay parents’ children are being saddled with utterly preventable stress and depression.
The next time you hear a "godly Christian" demeaning gays and peddling hate, call them out and spurn them socially.  Better yet, get your friends and family members to do likewise.  These people need to become despised social outcasts.  One cannot choose to be straight, but one actively chooses to be filled with hatred of others while using "religious belief" as justification for one's vicious behavior.  

Friday, February 20, 2015

More Friday Male Beauty

Pastor Rob Bell: Churches That Don't Support Gay Marriage Will Become Irrelevant

At times I almost feel sorry for Christofascists - but then I get a grip on myself and say "Hell no!"  They have consciously decided to reject knowledge, reason and objective reality and to cling to a fairy tale world instead that is based on the writings/myths of ignorant goat herders.  The result is that they are seeing society as a whole reject their fantasy world and move in a totally opposite direction.   One of the areas where their myths are being rapidly rejected is the issue of same sex marriage.  As former mega church pastor Rob Bell has recently stated, churches that do not support gay marriage will ultimately become irrelevant and, as aging members die off, disappear.  Here are excerpts from a piece in Huffington Post:
Rob Bell, the widely popular and controversial former megachurch pastor, is now convinced that a church doesn’t support same-sex marriage will "continue to be even more irrelevant."

Bell made the comments on an episode of Oprah Winfrey's "Super Soul Sunday," where he appeared with his wife Kristen to talk about religion and spirituality.

"One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness," Bell said. "Loneliness is not good for the world. Whoever you are, gay or straight, it is totally normal, natural and healthy to want someone to go through life with. It's central to our humanity. We want someone to go on the journey with."

Bell notes that Christianity is evolving and that many Christians have already opened their hearts to the idea that two people of the same sex would choose to journey together.  In fact, he says the church’s acceptance of gay marriage is “inevitable."

"I think culture is already there and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense, when you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other and just want to go through life," he said.

[C]onservative Christian critics aren’t happy with Bell's message. Author Michael Brown accused Bell of trashing the Bible as an outdated text.

Republicans Cranking Up for 2016:Courting Charlatans and Cranks

One of my memories of growing up in a Republican family in upstate New York was seeing photos of my father in the newspaper with then Governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller.  My dad was at the time involved in Republican politics and as I recall served on a local GOP committee.  Those days are long gone and my Republican parents and ancestors must be spinning in their graves over what the GOP has become.  As for those of us still living, almost without exception, we have fled the insane asylum that today's GOP has become.  Sane moderates who value knowledge and science are as few in today's GOP as living breathing dinosaurs.  In there place one finds white supremacists, religious fanatics, and those who still cling to supply side economics fueled by tax cuts.  The result is that anyone seeking the GOP presidential nomination must prostitute them self to racists and extremists and continue to pretend in Reagan economics despite decades of tangible proof that the economic model doesn't work.  A column in the New York Times looks at the never ending self-prostitution of GOP candidates.  Here are highlights:
Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, is said to be a rising contender for the Republican presidential nomination. So, on Wednesday, he did what, these days, any ambitious Republican must, and pledged allegiance to charlatans and cranks.

For those unfamiliar with the phrase, “charlatans and cranks” is associated with N. Gregory Mankiw, a professor at Harvard who served for a time as George W. Bush’s chief economic adviser. In the first edition of his best-selling economics textbook, Mr. Mankiw used those words to ridicule “supply-siders” who promised that tax cuts would have such magic effects on the economy that deficits would go down, not up.

Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas, attended a similar event last month. Clearly, to be a Republican contender you have to court the powerful charlatan caucus.

So a doctrine that even Republican economists consider dangerous nonsense has become party orthodoxy. And what makes this political triumph especially remarkable is that it comes just as the doctrine’s high priests have been setting new standards for utter, epic predictive failure.

[T]he people Mr. Walker was courting have spent years warning about the wrong things. “Get ready for inflation and higher interest rates” was the title of a June 2009 op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal by Mr. Laffer; what followed were the lowest inflation in two generations and the lowest interest rates in history. Mr. Kudlow and Mr. Moore both predicted 1970s-style stagflation.To be fair, Mr. Kudlow and Mr. Laffer eventually admitted that they had been wrong. Neither has, however, given any indication of reconsidering his views . . . 

So what does it say about the current state of the G.O.P. that discussion of economic policy is now monopolized by people who have been wrong about everything, have learned nothing from the experience, and can’t even get their numbers straight?

The answer, I’d suggest, runs deeper than economic doctrine. Across the board, the modern American right seems to have abandoned the idea that there is an objective reality out there, even if it’s not what your prejudices say should be happening. What are you going to believe, right-wing doctrine or your own lying eyes? These days, the doctrine wins.

Look at another issue, health reform. Before the Affordable Care Act went into effect, conservatives predicted disaster: health costs would soar, the deficit would explode, more people would lose insurance than gain it. They were wrong on all counts.

Along with this denial of reality comes an absence of personal accountability. If anything, alleged experts seem to get points by showing that they’re willing to keep saying the same things no matter how embarrassingly wrong they’ve been in the past.

But let’s go back to those economic charlatans and cranks: Clearly, failure has only made them stronger, and now they are political kingmakers. Be very, very afraid.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

American Sniper: Revisionist History and Hypermasculinity

With the Oscars on Sunday, there continues to be nauseating talk of "American Sniper" winning the Best Picture award.  Should that happen, it will underscore the fact that America - especially red state America - learned absolutely nothing from the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan by the evil duo of George "I'm a cretin" Bush and Emperor Palpatine Cheney.  Thankfully, a number of veterans have condemned the movie and even its false hero, Chris Kyle, but for the most part average Americans, notably those in a heavy military area like Hampton Roads, continue to drink the Kool-Aid and close their eyes to fact that America should never have invade Iraq.  Indeed, much of the disaster unfolding with ISIS stems directly from the mess unleashed by Bush/Cheney's fools errand.  A piece in Salon is yet another that looks at the falsehoods put forth by this foul movie.  Here are highlights:

In a recent interview with Terry Gross, Bradley Cooper described how he and screenwriter Jason Hall initially envisioned “American Sniper” as a revisionist western. “The idea was to have a construct of a western, but play with it a bit in the way that ‘Unforgiven’ did, you know?…I like that idea of playing with these archetypes.” 

Like so many westerns, “American Sniper” revolves around the tensions between a hypermasculine hero, who only feels at home on the frontier of “civilization and savagery,” and a heroine who embodies domesticity.  Like so many westerns, it has been defended and attacked on the basis of the authenticity (or lack thereof) of its representations of a distant “frontier.”

From Taya Kyle’s repeated testimony at the film’s promotional events proclaiming that the film is like “seeing Chris again,” to former SEALs criticizing the film’s failure to represent Kyle using a rifle scope cover, there is a remarkable consensus around the idea that what the film should be is a documentary account.

The aspects of “American Sniper” that conform to western archetypes are easily recognizable. As a young man, Kyle is portrayed as adrift, an ersatz cowboy whose exploits on the rodeo circuit fail to secure the fidelity of a girlfriend who cheats on him while he is on the road. Having failed to realize his dreams of frontier masculinity as a rodeo cowboy, Kyle turns to the military. He is trained and deployed to “the new wild West in the old Middle East,” where he is able to realize his true calling as a latter-day western lawman, serving as the lone wolf representative of the civilization whose sovereign violence he embodies. 

Kyle’s frontier masculinity is threatened not only by the violence of the “savage,” but also by the feminine domesticity of his wife, whom he marries on the same day that he gets his orders to deploy. In his trips home between tours, Taya, who needs Kyle at home to raise their children, pleads for his return.  Kyle defies his wife and returns to Iraq for a fourth tour, during which he kills Mustafa in a long-range, “High-Noon”-style shootout. It is only then that, by his own choice, he returns home to begin the process of reintegrating himself into the “civilized” life he had been working to protect.

If “American Sniper” was a film with “no nuance, no context and no subtlety,” as Sophia McClennen described it recently in Salon, that would be the end of the story. But Hall’s script, Eastwood’s direction and Cooper’s masterful performance give us a film that accomplishes much more than the failed biopic so many critics have described.

Cooper’s visceral physical performance portrays Kyle as wracked by the emotional responses that those of us who have never been on the front lines can identify with, even as he delivers lines so racist that we recoil against them. In its deliberate collision of liberal humanism with frontier violence, “American Sniper” is reminiscent of one of the most brilliant revisionist westerns ever made – John Ford’s “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”

In the climactic shootout in Ford’s film, lawyer Ransom Stoddard (Jimmy Stewart), the film’s representative of liberalism, reluctantly, and only after legal avenues had failed, kills the vaguely ethnic outlaw “Liberty Valance” (Lee Marvin).

In the film’s famous conclusion, Stoddard (at this point in the film’s chronology, a U.S. senator and Hallie’s husband) confesses the truth in a report to the Shinbone paper. The paper editor refuses to publish the story, declaring as he is tearing up his notes that “this is the West sir. When the legend becomes fact, you print the legend.”

In metaphorically refusing to “print the legend,”The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” forces us to grapple with the secret complicity between American liberalism and the racist violence of the frontiersman. In a representation of “The Legend” Chris Kyle that draws liberal viewers closer to his worldview than they feel comfortable being, “American Sniper” does the same thing.

The tragedies perpetrated and experienced by men like Kyle are not a conservative problem; they are an American problem. In one of the more insightful criticisms of “American Sniper,” Lakota/Dakota scholar James Fenelon argues that Kyle’s invocation savagery to describe his enemies cannot be understood as an invention of neoconservatism. The imagination of a category of human beyond the limits of reason, “the unreconstructed Other that needs to be obliterated,” enabled the violence that facilitated the settlement of the territorial United States long before it enabled American militarism abroad.

In condemning westerns like “American Sniper” rather than the ongoing political realities that drive their appeal, critics mistake a symptom for a cause.

The Failed Bush Legacy Lives On

As noted in prior posts, Jeb Bush made what was billed as a "major foreign policy" speech in Chicago and, despite his efforts to claim that he is "his own man," his circle of foreign policy advisers are a group recycled from his brother's disastrous regime and, worse yet, Jebbie won't even talk about the fiasco in Iraq and Afghanistan that his idiot brother left as a still poisonous legacy for America.  Thankfully, Bush has been pummeled in many op-eds and it is unlikely that he will be able to escape the cloud that his brother placed over the Bush name.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the phenomenon.  Here are excerpts:
Bush’s speech Wednesday in Chicago consisted of empty platitudes doled out in tight rations. Anyone who expected more from perhaps the leading establishment contender for the Republican presidential nomination had to be disappointed.

Set aside for the moment the fact that Bush’s rushed, fumbling delivery would have made even the grandest ideas sound small. Look past the fact that he proved his father’s and brother’s equal in creatively mangling the English language — saying, for example, that immigration should be a “catalytic converter” for economic growth. 

Strip all that away, and you’re left with nostrums about how America must be strong and engaged and feared and respected — all of which is pretty much inevitable for the world’s preeminent economic and military power, no matter who occupies the White House. There were precious few examples of what, precisely, Bush would do differently from what President Obama is already doing.

Given that the previous presidents named Bush have gone two-for-two in launching major Iraq wars, one obvious question is whether Jeb Bush would make it three-for-three. He did not provide a clear answer.

19 of his 21 foreign policy advisers previously worked for his brother George W. Bush, his father, George H.W. Bush, or both. Among those achieving the Bush Trifecta are Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. 

Jeb Bush acknowledged that “there were mistakes made in Iraq, for sure,” but he praised his brother’s troop surge as “one of the most heroic acts of courage politically that any president’s done.” That is, of course, a ridiculous overstatement, but let’s cut him a bit of slack; he does have to sit around the Thanksgiving table with the guy. 

Perhaps the most definitive position Bush took was a call for increased defense spending. But he did not attempt to specify what the additional money would buy, except to say the United States needs to “inspire fear in our enemies.” Current U.S. military spending, it should be noted, is greater than that of the next eight countries combined.

If I were a fiscal conservative, I’d begin to suspect that Jeb Bush is as much of a big-government Republican as his big brother. He wants to spend more on the Pentagon, invest in infrastructure and education, spur the economy to 4 percent annual growth — if I didn’t know better, I’d say it all sounds almost Keynesian.

Overall, it was not a terribly impressive performance. In his time as Florida governor, Bush showed himself to be smart and wonkish about domestic issues. If he has any fresh, original ideas about the international sphere, he succeeded in keeping them to himself.

The problem with this approach is that it invites voters to fill in the blanks — and to begin with a surname that does not augur well. 

Bottom line: we do NOT need another Bush in the White House!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

More Thursday Male Beauty

Bill O’Reilly’s War Lies Exposed - When Will Fox Suspend Him?

With NBC News' Brian Williams on a 6 month suspension, the hypocrisy one hears from other so-called journalists is stunning.  Moreover, if Williams' suspension is justified - I personally don't believe it is - then that same standard needs to be applied across the broadcast spectrum.  If that occurred, of course, every anchor and reporter at Fox News would need to be suspended immediately given the way in which they lie with abandon and rewrite facts and events.  One of the top blowhards at Fox is Bill O'Reilly.  As Salon reports based on an investigation done by Mother Jones, O'Reilly has lied about his war correspondence experiences for years.  Here are excerpts:
NBC News anchor Brian Williams is no longer the only prominent anchor who faces serious credibility questions for misleading the public about his experiences in war zones. In an extensive new investigation, Mother Jones’ David Corn and Daniel Schulman detail how for decades, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has told gripping accounts of his own war reporting that don’t mesh with the facts.

O’Reilly’s tall tales concern his experiences as a CBS News reporter covering the 1982 Falklands War between Great Britain and Argentina, as well as his dispatches from El Salvador’s civil war. The conservative commentator has cited his supposed wartime experiences numerous times as evidence of his journalistic gravitas, as Corn and Schulman document.

O’Reilly also related a tale of his harrowing Argentine experience following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, saying on air:
I was in a situation one time, in a war zone in Argentina, in the Falklands, where my photographer got run down and then hit his head and was bleeding from the ear on the concrete. And the army was chasing us. I had to make a decision. And I dragged him off, you know, but at the same time, I’m looking around and trying to do my job, but I figure I had to get this guy out of there because that was more important.
But Corn and Schulman find crucial inconsistencies between O’Reilly’s stories and the factual record.

[H]his own account of his time in Argentina in his 2001 book, The No Spin Zone, contains no references to O’Reilly experiencing or covering any combat during the Falklands war. . . . .
There is nothing in this memoir indicating that O’Reilly witnessed the fighting between British and Argentine military forces—or that he got anywhere close to the Falkland Islands, which are 300 miles off Argentina’s shore and about 1,200 miles south of Buenos Aires.  

Given the remote location of the war zone—which included the British territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, more than 1,400 miles offshore—few reporters were able to witness and report on the combat that claimed the lives of about 900 Argentine and British troops. The government in London only allowed about 30 British journalists to accompany its military forces. 

American reporters were not on the ground in this distant war zone. “Nobody got to the war zone during the Falklands war,” Susan Zirinsky, a longtime CBS News producer who helped manage the network’s coverage of the war from Buenos Aires, tells Mother Jones. She does not remember what O’Reilly did during his time in Argentina. But she notes that the military junta kept US reporters from reaching the islands: “You weren’t allowed on by the Argentinians. No CBS person got there.”

Longtime CBS correspondent Bob Schieffer corroborates those accounts, telling Mother Jones, ”Nobody from CBS got to the Falklands. I came close. We’d been trying to get somebody down there. It was impossible.”

There's more that is worth a read.  Not surprisingly, O'Reilly has condemned NBC's suspension of Williams.   That said, for all those lauding Williams' suspension, they need to be demanding O'Reilly's suspension - and the suspension of every other journalist who has embellished their experiences as Williams is said to have done.  If that were to happen, I suspect that there would be few anchors left, particularly at Fox News.

63% of Americans Say Same Sex Marriage is a Constitutional Right

Yet another poll underscores the fact that the Christofascists are losing the war over marriage equality.  A CNN poll that looked at a number of issues, including Barack Obama's approval levels and support for the Affordable Health Care Act , found the following:
63% of Americans say that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry and have their marriages recognized by the law as valid. That's up from 49% in August 2010. Over that time, the share who see marriage as a constitutional right has climbed 15 points among Republicans to 42% and 19 points among Democrats to 75%.
These findings coupled with the growing belief even among Republicans that opposition to same sex marriage is NOT acceptable in a GOP presidential candidate ought to be striking terror in the hearts of anti-gay Christofascist who have been making a lucrative living peddling anti-gay hate and opposition to marriage equality.   I can almost hear the shrieking and whining in the offices of Family Research Council, the American family Association, and the National organization for Marriage.  God forbid, these folks may yet have to find real jobs.

Judge Slaps Down "Christian" Florist Who Refused to Serve Gays

"Godly Christian" bigot Barronelle Stutzman
It has been settled law since 1982 that one's supposed religious beliefs do not give you the license to ignore laws of general application, which includes anti-discrimination laws.  The definitive case was United States v. Lee, 455 U.S. 252 (1982), in which the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the claims of an Amish business owner who claimed that the imposition of employer paid social security taxes for employees offended the business owner's religious beliefs.  The telling language in the ruling is as follows:
[E]very person cannot be shielded from all the burdens incident to exercising every aspect of the right to practice religious beliefs. When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.
Pretty clear cut, right?  But not to the "godly folk" who think they are above the law or to the lunatics at the Alliance Defending Freedom who regularly commit, in my opinion, file frivolous filings and make arguments that ignore controlling precedent that ought to expose ADF and its clients to sanctions.  

Today a court in Washington State slapped down a "Christian" florist who had refused to provide services to a same sex couple "because of her religious beliefs."  It was a classic example of far right, self-centered Christofascists demanding special rights and a license to ignore state laws, in the case Washington State's public accommodations laws.   Think Progress has deatils on the ruling.  Here are highlights:
A Washington state judge has ruled that florist Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, broke state law when she refused to provide flowers for the wedding of Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed. Stutzman, . . . .  had been sued by the same-sex couple and the state’s attorney general for breaking both the Washington Law Against Discrimination and the state’s Consumer Protection Act.  
She countersued, seeking the right to engage in such discrimination based on her religious beliefs.

Though Stutzman has become a darling of the religious right for asserting her Southern Baptist beliefs about same-sex marriage, her arguments about religious freedom fell flat in court. Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom concluded in his decision that “to accept any [of] the Defendants’ arguments would be to disregard well-settled law.”

In fact, the case was rather open-and-shut. . . . Ekstrom asserted that “no Court has ever held that religiously motivated conduct, expressive or otherwise, trumps state discrimination law in public accommodations.” He also pointed out that Stutzman is not a minister nor is Arlene’s Flowers a religious organization. Likewise, the law does not specifically target her because of her beliefs, but is “neutral and generally applicable” to all people of all beliefs.

Ekstrom agreed that “the State’s compelling interest in combating discrimination in public accommodations is well settled” and is not superseded by an individual’s religious beliefs. As the Supreme Court wrote in the 1982 case United States v. Lee, “When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity. 

Ekstrom pointed out that a rule where discriminating businesses simply refer customers to non-discriminating businesses “would, of course, defeat the purpose of combating discrimination, and would allow discrimination in public accommodations based on all protected classes, including race.” 

The non-discrimination law in no way violates any constitutional principles, Ekstrom concluded, because, “For over 135 years, the Supreme Court of the United States has held that laws may prohibit religiously motivated action, as opposed to belief. In trade and commerce, and more particularly when seeking to prevent discrimination in public accommodations, the Courts have confirmed the power of the Legislative Branch to prohibit conduct it deems discriminatory, even when the motivation for that conduct is grounded in religious belief.”

The decision follows a near-identical ruling in Oregon last month against a bakery that refused a cake to a same-sex couples. The string of losses in similar cases follows back to an Iowa wedding venue, a Vermont reception venue, a Colorado bakery, and a New Mexico photographer who all similarly tried to refuse services related to a same-sex commitment ceremony. All of those states have laws protecting against discrimination based on sexual orientation . . . .
Kudos to the court!!

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

GOP Controlled House of Delegates Rejects All Pro-Gay Bills

While busy condemning Islam and ISIS, Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates were busy prostituting themselves to Virginia's own religious extremist organization, The Family Foundation ("TFF"), a hate group in all but formal designation which seeks to impose its Christofascists version of Sharia law on all Virginians and to denigrate LGBT Virginians in particular.  Thanks to the extremists at TFF and its Republican political whores in the House of Delegates, LGBT Virginians remain subject to summary firing even by state agencies and departments and are otherwise still third class citizens.  And editorial in the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star condemns to GOP's bigotry.  Here are excerpts:

Four pieces of General Assembly legislation aimed at protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender public employees from workplace discrimination have failed to make it out of the House of Delegates this year. It’s an embarrassing situation that suggests Virginia still has some catching up to do in the modern world.

The initiatives before the General Assembly would have expanded the language of the executive order to include all public employees in Virginia, whether they work for the state or any locality. There is no attempt—yet—to protect private-sector employees as well, though five states, including Maryland, and many large companies, already do.

With the legislation’s demise, Virginia will again fail to join dozens of other states that offer codified state employment discrimination protection to at least gay and lesbian workers. Virginia could have been the 17th state to include gender identity as well as sexual orientation bias protection.

Is there at least any progress on the issue in the General Assembly? It depends on how you look at it. The two Senate bills introduced by Sens. Donald McEachin (D–Richmond) and Adam Ebbin (D–Alexandria) were combined into McEachin’s SB785, which passed in the Senate thanks to two Republican crossover votes and a tie-breaking vote by Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam.
The bill was then tabled—killed—by a House subcommittee.

Republicans on that subcommittee outnumber Democrats 6–2, so the chances of such measures getting to the full committee, let alone the full House, are slim and none.

There is nothing about being gay, or lesbian, or transgender that disqualifies one from being a person, or an American or a Virginian. Ending discrimination in any form, against any group, is as important as any responsibility that our lawmakers in Richmond have. So far, it’s one they are shirking.

Virginians shouldn’t have to rely on the governor’s order, which could be undone by the state’s next chief executive. The General Assembly needs to pass a law.

Of course, gays aren't the only ones TFF Hates.  Its followers also hate blacks, the poor, Hispanics and anyone else who isn't a lily white far right Christian. 

White House Rightly Faulted for Avoiding ‘Islamic’ Labels

As more and more information comes to light linking ISIS and its atrocities to a medieval form of Islam, it is becoming impossible to continue to pretend that Islam is not part of the problem.  True, not all Muslims subscribe to the poisonous form of Islam ISIS promotes, but the reality is that portions of the Koran and the writings of the falsely named Prophet (who in my view was worthy of a mental institution) support the barbarity that we are seeing.  Fundamentalist religion is a pestilence plan and simply and to claim that Islam isn't part of the problem is like claiming the Bible and Christianity have nothing to do with the hate and vitriol one hears daily from American Christofascists who are best defined by hate.  It's time for the White House to face reality and start condemning ALL fundamentalist religions that foster hate, bigotry and, in the case of ISIS, horrific violence.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the growing criticism of Barack Obama's refusal to lay blame where it is due.  Moderate Muslims - just like moderate Christians - need to loudly and consistently condemn and work against their foul coreligionists.  Religion deserves no deference whatsoever.  Here are article highlights:
President Obama chooses his words with particular care when he addresses the volatile connections between religion and terrorism. He and his aides have avoided labeling acts of brutal violence by Al Qaeda, the so-called Islamic State and their allies as “Muslim” terrorism or describing their ideology as “Islamic” or “jihadist.”

With remarkable consistency — including at a high-profile White House meeting this week, “Countering Violent Extremism” — they have favored bland, generic terms over anything that explicitly connects attacks or plots to Islam.

Obama aides say there is a strategic logic to his vocabulary: Labeling noxious beliefs and mass murder as “Islamic” would play right into the hands of terrorists who claim that the United States is at war with Islam itself. The last thing the president should do, they say, is imply that the United States lumps the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims with vicious terrorist groups.

But Mr. Obama’s verbal tactics have become a target for a growing chorus of critics who believe the evasive language is a sign that he is failing to look squarely at the threat from militant Islam. 

“Part of this is a semantic battle, but it’s a semantic battle that goes to deeper issues,” said Peter Wehner, a veteran of the past three Republican administrations and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Self-deception is not a good idea in politics or international affairs. We’re lying to ourselves, and the world knows it.”

While the most vehement criticism has come from Mr. Obama’s political opponents on the right, a few liberals and former security officials have begun to echo the criticism.  “You cannot defeat an enemy that you do not admit exists,”

“Obama’s reaching a point where he may have to ditch this almost scholastic position,” Mr. Ahmed said. “He sounds like a distinguished professor in the ivory tower, and he may have to come down into the hurly-burly of politics.”

Many advocates for Muslims appreciate Mr. Obama’s care in keeping their religion separate from the terrorist groups whose claims they reject. “We support the Obama administration and the administration before them for not falling into the Al Qaeda-ISIS trap of saying this is a religious war,” said Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, a national group.

But even Ms. Khera complained that the name of the White House conference on the topic was too vague. While the label was “violent extremism,” the vast majority of speakers spoke only about Islamic extremism, ignoring all other kinds, she said. “If the summit were called ‘Countering ISIS,’ that would be fine,” she said. “But it’s not.”
Yes, there is huge hypocrisy on the right and among Congressional Republicans who attack all Muslims as extremists yet prostitute to Christian extremists here at home and work to subvert the U.S. Constitution's guaranty of religious freedom by striving to enshrine Christofascist beliefs in the nation's laws. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Poll: Millennials Love Hillary Clinton

While the younger generations of voters trend towards Democrats, the big issue is getting them to actually show up at the polls, although at least in presidential elections, their turn out numbers tend to be more reliable.  This fact hasn't been lost on Hillary Clinton even though as yet she has not announced her candidacy.  That said, she has been busy using Ready for Hillary to help garner the youth vote.  A piece in Mother Jones looks at Hillary's current support among Millennials.  Here are highlights:
The young'uns just love Hillary Clinton these days. A new poll from television network Fusion found that, should Clinton run for president, she's already got the support of 58 percent of 18-24 year-old Democrats. Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren trail far behind, garnering 13 and 9 percent, respectively.

If Hillary makes it to the general election, 50 percent of 18-24 year-olds say they would support her. Just 33 percent would back a hypothetical Republican nominee. White millennials split 41-41 percent on backing Hillary in a 2016 general election, but she crushes that hypothetical Republican among minority voters: 72 percent among black voters and 63 percent from Hispanics prefer the former secretary of state.

Clinton struggled with college-aged and other young voters when she last ran for president in 2008. But as I explained in April, Ready for Hillary, the super PAC paving the way for her eventual run, has been busy this year recruiting volunteers on college campuses across the country to beef up the Clinton machine and avoid the mistakes she made last time.

Ready for Hillary has continued to ramp up its college efforts since the spring, sending the Hillary Bus crisscrossing the country. Over the course of three weeks in late August and early September, the group sent the bus of staffers to about a dozen schools in the south and west, including Clemson, South Carolina State, Claflin University, the University of Arkansas, UNLV, and the University of Colorado–Boulder, to setup pro-Clinton campus groups.

Jeb Bush Will Never Escape His Idiot Brother’s Legacy.

Jeb Bush was in Chicago today making what the lazy main stream media has described as a "major foreign policy address."  While Jeb tried to distance himself from his father and brother and disingenuously described himself as "his own man," he ignored two major realities: (1) many of the current dangers in the world - read the Middle East - are outgrowths of his brother's failed and deceit based policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and (2) the policy of Barack Obama towards Iran is really similar to that established by his brother the Chimperator.  Sadly, Jeb wasn't called out on these truths.  Here are highlights from Slate:

Jeb Bush enters the White House race as the son of one president and the brother of another. And it’s this, far more than his résumé, that defines his appeal to the top-shelf donors and professionals of the Republican Party. Take away the surname, and Jeb is just another George Pataki or Bob Ehrlich—an out-of-shape politician with the delusional confidence to believe he could be president.

But the public seems nervous about a dynastic candidate and a third Bush presidency, and it’s to that concern that Jeb is trying to distance himself from the two Georges. If elected president, his Bush administration wouldn’t be a sequel, a reboot, or a reimagining of earlier entries. His would be different. He would be his “own man.”

Jeb Bush wants to assure voters he isn’t a Bush Republican. This is impossible. Not because of his name, but because Jeb is a mainstream Republican, and by definition this puts him a stone’s throw from his brother’s administration. 

Despite the rancor and division of the last seven years, the truth is that the GOP still sits in the shadow of George W. Bush. Even the Tea Party doesn’t escape his influence; its anti-establishment rhetoric and angry denunciations of government obscure the extent to which its supporters—such as Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida—promote the basic Bush agenda of broad tax cuts, deficit spending, social conservatism, and an aggressive foreign policy.

All of this adds a layer of irony to Jeb Bush’s Chicago speech, which moves from a statement of identity—“I’m my own man”—to a standard-issue attack on President Obama’s foreign policy as timid and unfocused. “Weakness invites war,” declared the younger Bush, promising a “liberty diplomacy” centered on “enforcing” peace and security around the globe. With a little more swagger, it could have come directly from George W. Bush.

If this wasn’t enough to undermine his claims of independence, there’s also the list of Jeb’s foreign policy advisers, which doubles as a yearbook for the GOP security establishment. Key officials from both Bush administrations are present, with a heavy roster from the previous decade of Bush policy making. . . .

Anyone who represents the Republican Party in 2016, and thus the Republican mainstream, will end up selling a spin on Bushism. Jeb’s unique problem is that he can’t elide this with rhetoric. 

You could say the same of Hillary Clinton vis-à-vis Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The difference is this: Bill is among the most popular political figures in the country, and—barring disaster—Obama will finish his term more liked than his predecessor.

Between his party and his name, Jeb is too tied to his brother. And while some Republicans like the older Bush sibling, the rest of the country isn’t too keen.
For a good run down on Jeb's Iran debacle, read the article here at Think Progress.

GOP: Still the Party of Stupid

With Oklahoma Republicans seeking to block advance placement courses, especially in American history because they too accurately depict true history and don't promote the myth of "American exceptionalism" so prized by the cretins of the GOP base, once again the GOP proving that it is truly the party of stupid.  Driving the embrace of ignorance, of course, is the Christofascist/Tea Party elements of the GOP base where ignorance is worn like a badge of honor.  Sane and rational Republicans quite naturally find themselves jumping form the GOP asylum and either becoming independents or de facto Democrats.  A piece in Salon looks at the continued intellectual demise of the GOP.  Here are highlights:
It was quite amusing to see Scott Walker pilloried by certain right-wing luminaries for failing to smoothly answer when asked by a British reporter whether he believes in evolution. Not that there’s any doubt that it was a very clumsy answer:
“For me, I am going to punt on that one as well. That’s a question politicians shouldn’t be involved in one way or another. I am going to leave that up to you. I’m here to talk about trade not to pontificate about evolution.”
One might have expected the Great Whitebread Hope to be a little better prepared — or at least be politically skilled enough — not to come right out and say, “I’m going to punt on that one.” It was amateur hour, to say the least.

Walker showed that he understands the Republican base far better than the likes of George Will, who said on Fox News last week that press questions about evolution are “a standard way of trying to embarrass Republicans … We should be able to come to terms with the fact when asked about evolution you say yes. And if one syllable of one word is not enough say Paleontology. Everything says evolution is a fact. Get over it.”

The sad fact is that polling shows fewer and fewer Republicans believe in evolution.

[I]t’s not really religion that holds the GOP base together, it’s a sense of victimization. And this thesis weaves a number of important strands into a colorful if ahistorical tapestry.

It presents a bit of a problem for conservative leaders, however. As you can see from Rios’ unhappiness at George Will’s forthright support for evolution, people who actually believe in science (as it’s understood by scientists anyway) are considered traitors to the cause. And most of them are less willing than Will to buck the victimization creed. 

If a Republican politician wants to go straight to the right-wing heart on this issue he would say what presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee said with just the right amount of smug insider wingnut humor:
“If you want to believe that you and your family came from apes, that’s fine. I’ll accept that. I just don’t happen to think that I did.”
That’s the kind of statement that will elicit cheers from your GOP base and make the likes of Laura Ingraham applaud wildly. Unfortunately, it won’t carry much beyond Mencken’s loathed Bible Belt or right-wing radio.