Saturday, August 01, 2015

Hillary Clinton Slams Jeb Bush on Racial Issues

The annual convention of the National Urban League provided Hillary Clinton with a venue to call out Jeb "Jebbie" Bush on the inherent racism of the economic policies he favors which, as noted before, are just a warmed over version of the GOP's voodoo economics which have not worked at all over the last 35 years.  At least not for black and average Americans.  Instead, the policies have benefited the 1% and pushed America toward a new Gilded Age where the few have fabulous wealth and the rest of us struggle to hang on to what we have with increasing difficulty.  The New York Times looks at the salvos that Hillary rightly delivered at Jebbie (she should have also attacked the GOP's anti-union agenda in my view).  Here are highlights:
Jeb Bush and his aides had envisioned a big, inclusive, high-minded speech about race on Friday in his home state of Florida, a chance to bring his message of colorblind opportunity to a prestigious group of African-American leaders.

In a rare gesture of bipartisanship, Mr. Bush even planned to warmly quote President Obama, usually the object of his derision.

Then Hillary Rodham Clinton stomped all over those plans.

In a biting surprise attack, delivered as Mr. Bush, the former Florida governor, waited backstage here at the annual convention of the National Urban League, Mrs. Clinton portrayed him as a hypocrite who had set back the cause of black Americans.

It was an unexpected moment of political theater that seemed to presage what could be a bitter general-election rivalry between two of the biggest names in American politics.

Mrs. Clinton, a Democratic candidate for president, latched onto Mr. Bush’s campaign slogan and the name of his “super PAC” —Right to Rise, his shorthand for a conservative agenda of self-reliance and hope — and turned it into a verbal spear.

People can’t rise if they can’t afford health care,” Mrs. Clinton said to applause from conventiongoers, a dig at Mr. Bush’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

“They can’t rise if the minimum wage is too low to live on,” she said, a jab at his opposition to raising the federal minimum wage.

“They can’t rise if their governor makes it harder for them to get a college education,” she said, a critique of Mr. Bush’s decision as governor to eliminate affirmative action in college admissions.

Mr. Bush appeared unprepared to respond, thanking Mrs. Clinton for joining him at the event but otherwise leaving her criticism unanswered in his own speech. 

[H]e did not directly address the rash of police shootings of unarmed black men that dominated discussions at the Urban League conference this week. Instead, he called more obliquely for rebuilding trust in “America’s vital institutions.”

Clinton took a more direct approach, ticking off the names of African-Americans who have died after interactions with law enforcement — including Eric Garner, Walter L. Scott and Freddie Gray — to knowing nods in the audience.

“These names are emblazoned on our hearts,” she said. “We’ve seen their faces; we’ve heard their grieving families.”  She spoke explicitly about racial discrimination, saying it still played a major role in determining “who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind.”

She added: “We can’t go on like this. We are better than this. Things must change.”

Toward the end of her speech, Mrs. Clinton turned to those who, in her telling, do not live up to their own words on the subject of racial injustice, singling out Mr. Bush, not by name but by implication, over and over.

Cherie LaCour-Duckworth, a Clinton supporter, said she had paid little attention to what Mr. Bush said. Mrs. Clinton, she said, “set the stage for him.”

Ben Carson, a Republican who was the sole black candidate to speak here, took a tough-love approach that seemed to inspire little enthusiasm from the crowd. Mr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, never mentioned the high-profile deaths of unarmed black men and women in police custody and held himself up as a model of how ambition and education could rescue poor African-Americans from poverty.  He called on black parents to talk to their sons “about how they conduct themselves.”

Herman Wallace, an attendee from Kansas City, Mo., was unmoved. “Carson,” he said, “talked about himself.”

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Mike Huckabee: Deploy U.S. Troops To Stop Women From Getting Abortions

The desperation of the occupants of the GOP presidential candidate clown is surging with those unlikely to make the cut for the first candidate circus debate next month seemingly willing to say the most outlandish things in order to pander to the Christofascist element of the GOP base.  Case in point?  Mike Huckabee - who I personally believe should be in a mental institution and not in any elected office - who has suggested that U.S. military troops be used to stop women from getting abortions.  Think Progress looks at Huckabee's growing insanity and willingness to make a mockery of the rights of others.  Here are excerpts:
Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said at a campaign stop on Thursday that he would consider sending federal troops or the Federal Bureau of Investigation to stop abortions.

During a campaign stop in Iowa, reporters asked Huckabee about a recent controversy over an anti-choice organization‘s efforts to paint Planned Parenthood as a dubious entity that is selling “aborted baby parts” through the release of several heavily edited videos.

Huckabee said he would “invoke the 5th and 14th amendments for the protection of every human being.” The Fifth Amendment states, “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger.” This suggests a Hucakbee presidency would unilaterally make all abortion illegally by deeming all fetuses are people. 

“I will not pretend there is nothing we can do to stop this,” Huckabee said. When a reporter asked if hew would use federal troops or the FBI to this end, he said, “We’ll see if I get to be president.”

He cited Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln as his inspiration, saying they were previous presidents who have defied Supreme Court rulings. 

Get out the straight jacket and please take the man away!!

Religious Extremeist Injures Six at Jerusalem Gay Pride

UPDATED:17 year old Shira Banki (pictured above) has died from the wounds inflicted on her by right wing orthodox extremist Yishai Schlissel.  Take a good look.  Death, hate and bigotry are the fruits of fundamentalist religion.  Personally, I would like to see Schlissel drawn and quartered.  Yes, it is a barbaric punishment, but a message needs to be sent to members of fundamentalist religions of all faiths that modern societies will not tolerate their hate and poison and that they will be dealt with in the most brutal and forceful ways possible.  Fundamentalism of every stripe is a poison that needs to be eradicated from the face of the earth.

American Christofascists do not have a monopoly on anti-gay hate and animus.  This week at Jerusalem's gay pride event, Yishai Schlissel, a knife wielding ultra-Orthodox Jew, stab six people leaving a sixteen year old girl still in critical condition.  The photos above via Huffington Post show some of the carnage and Schlissel in custody.  Take a good look.  This is the true face of conservative religion.  Hate and violence, and often death.   Conservative, fundamentalist religion, be it Christian, Jewish or Muslim, is a pestilence that deserves no respect or deference in the modern world.   Here are more details from Huffington Post:

An anti-gay ultra-Orthodox extremist suspected of stabbing revelers at Jerusalem's Gay Pride Parade appeared in court on Friday and the judge ordered that he remain in custody.

The suspected attacker, Yishai Schlissel, was arrested at the pride parade the previous day, after he brandished a knife and stabbed six people. The court extended his arrest by 12 days as the investigation against him continues, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

Schlissel was convicted of a similar attack that wounded several people at a gay pride parade in Jerusalem in 2005. Schlissel had been released from prison just three weeks ago after serving his sentence. 

Israeli hospital officials said Friday that a 16-year-old girl remained in critical condition after the attack, with wounds to her chest and shoulder. Three others are in hospital but their conditions are not life threatening, while the remaining two have been discharged, hospital officials said.

The Gay Pride Parade was proceeding as planned with party music, Israeli flags and rainbow-clad marchers wending their way through central Jerusalem's barricaded streets, under a heavy police presence, when the attacker entered the throng of people. Within seconds he raised a knife and began stabbing people in the back.

Police pounced on him and arrested him. The crowd's carefree cheers suddenly gave way to screams.
A world without fundamentalist religion - perhaps without religion entirely - would be a far better world.  It's telling that everyone of the death threats I have receive via comments on this blog (I never publish their venom) have come from "godly Christians."

"Godly Folk" Freaking Out and Lying About End of Boy Scout Gay Ban

It would almost be amusing to watch the rants of the Christofascists over the Boy Scouts of America's vote to end its ban on gay scout leaders.  The amount of hyperventilation and flying spittle is truly off the charts.  Unfortunately, these same "godly folk" who follow the Ten Nine Commandments - they don't observe the Commandment against bearing false witness and lying - are likewise off the charts in the anti-gay lies that they are disseminating.  The common thread being disseminated is that all gays are would be pedophiles and that all molestation of boys is done by gays.  The REAL truth is that HETEROSEXUAL MEN have been documented to commit the vast majority of sexual molestation.  Thus, both claims are total lies, but sadly we are indeed to a point were if these folks' lips are moving, it's about a 99.99999% likelihood that they are lying.  The big danger is that the ignorant and gullible fall for these lies and that gays will suffer violence as result.  Among those spouting this anti-gay animus are some of the usual suspects (all of whom are welcomed with open arms by the GOP):
Don Blake, president of the Virginia Christian Alliance, a coalition that encourages Christians to stand up against the rise of secular culture, told a central Virginia NBC affiliate that Christians who are involved with the Boy Scouts of America need to protect their children by either starting their own scouting programs or joining already existing programs that do not permit openly gay scout leaders.  "All the church people who believe in the Bible need to drop out of the Boy Scouts and start their own program," Blake asserted. "There are existing programs out there."

Robert Jeffress,who leads the 11,000-member Dallas First Baptist Church, urged parents to "run away" from the organization."My advice to parents who are asking me about this is: If you are concerned about the safety of your boys, you should run, not walk, away from the Boy Scouts as quickly as possible," Jeffress stated. Jeffress then contended that "100 percent" of child sex abuses cases in the Boy Scouts have been committed by "homosexuals."

Not to be outdone, anti-gay hater extraordinaire Bryan Fischer pulled out all the stops and, utterly lied about gays and sex abuse:
"The percentage of child sexual abuse cases in which men molest boys is many times higher than the percentage of adult males who are homosexual, and most men who molest boys self-identify as homosexual or bisexual." . . . . homosexuals are responsible for a staggering "one-third of the total number of child sex offenses." 
Ponder that: one percent of the population is responsible for 33 percent of all sex crimes against children. This is just another clear indication that there are unmistakable pathologies associated with the homosexual lifestyle. This is not a lifestyle any rational society should celebrate, endorse or promote, let alone sanction with the term "marriage."

[I]t is the height of irresponsibility to deliberately place homosexuals in positions where they have frequent access to young boys. It is inexcusable and virtually criminal.
It is the same kind of campaign of lies that the Nazis used against the Jews and that Vladimir Putin is currently employing against gays in Russia.  If you want to know why the number of "Nones" is exploding in this country, look no farther than these "godly Christians."  They are foul liars and modern day Pharisees - and most make a plush living as parasites preying on the ignorant, uneducated and gullible.  Yet people wonder why I no longer want to call myself a Christian.  Anne Rice got it right.  If this is what Christians are, count me out.

Friday, July 31, 2015

More Friday Male Beauty

Donald Trump - and GOP - Supporters Are Living in a Fantasy Land

I increasingly look at today's GOP and shake my head thinking WTF happened to a party that once embraced knowledge, intellect and rational thought.  But then I remember that the unwashed masses of Christofascists who have hijacked the party base and then suddenly the swamp fever that has gripped the GOP all make sense.  After all, these are the same folks who trust in the writings of unknown, ignorant Bronze Age herders to guide their lives and formulate their world view.  No wonder those supporting Donald Trump - and other GOP candidates - appear to be living in a fantasy land.  They ARE living in a fantasy land with little likelihood of coming to their senses anytime soon.  A piece in Salon looks at the fantasy world of these people and why Donald Trump is their pied piper.  Here are excerpts:
Even though I’m not a politician, I guess I committed a textbook Kinsley gaffe on “Hardball” yesterday, when I inadvertently told the truth about what I think of the 12 New Hampshire Republican voters Bloomberg assembled to explain the Donald Trump phenomenon. (You can watch, below.) I said they made me “sad,” and I made a comment about “the lowest common denominator” (more on what I meant in a minute) – and then my friend Michael Steele, the former chair of the Republican National Committee, had a lot of fun calling me an “elitist” and insisting people like me are why voters like that support Trump. Or something.

They’re not thinking. They want to be entertained,” I asserted.

That’s a big mistake in mainstream journalism, where the Very Serious People insist we must respect what Trump’s voters represent.  I failed to keep up the Beltway fiction that we must take these voters seriously because they’re “frustrated” with Washington, and thus their irrational anger and weakness for slogans over solutions is a symptom of a grave political malady in The Age of Obama.

But actually listening to those voters, it’s hard to take much they said seriously. Their Trump praise frequently reflects their Obama disdain. . . and their support of Trump’s “solutions” makes no sense.

There’s a childlike wishful thinking in these voters’ belief that Trump can solve all the country’s problems by being “tough.” And that’s what I meant with my reference to the “lowest common denominator” – I actually wasn’t referring to the voters themselves (in fact, that makes no sense); I was talking about the solutions they seem to embrace for the country’s woes. Pining for a “tough” guy who’s done well in “business” but is “one of us” is simplistic and a little scary. Most of that New Hampshire focus group seemed to want a daddy, not a president.

Steele put his finger on a dilemma – for his party. When people hear criticism of Trump’s voters, he explained, “whether it’s from the media or Republicans in the party, they go, ‘This guy,’ as the woman said, ‘he’s speaking to me. I may not agree with everything he’s saying, but he’s one of us. He’s a billionaire, but he’s one of us.’” That’s a genuine problem for Republican elites who disdain Trump but don’t want to see him mount a third party run if he doesn’t get the nomination. 

[S]omething less than 10 percent of eligible American voters currently say they support Donald Trump. That isn’t a mandate; that’s the same old angry, noisy, delusional minority of voters that persistently afflicts American politics. I’m not going to apologize for telling the truth: their support of Trump makes me sad, because their reasoning shows little or no grasp of what it takes to make political change in this country.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Shades of Red and Blue Among Virginia Voters

With Virginia a likely "swing state" in the 2016 presidential elections, attention is being trained on Virginia's voters and their varying mindsets.  The findings of one such study by Christopher Newport University shows the complexities of Virginia's increasingly diverse and more urban population.  Not surprisingly, among the areas key to winning the state is the Hampton Roads region with roughly 1.7 million people.  The political views in the region could be described as schizophrenic in some ways with people saying they are conservative, but not partisan.  Also, moderates make up 40% of the state's voters - a reality seemingly lost on the Virginia GOP.  Here are highlights on the findings via the Daily Press:
On Thursday, the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University released a study that broke that purple electorate down into seven classifications, or "typologies."

One of the findings will surprise no one: "There are more moderate voters in the state," said Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center. "Virginia is a swing state, with about 40 percent of the electorate deciding elections."

The center's report, "Commonwealth of Contrasts," places registered voters into groups based on attitudes and values rather than political party affiliations. The typologies they came up with are:

Solid Liberals, who reject completely the idea that everyone has the power to succeed or that most people who want to get ahead can.

Suburban Liberals, who hold views similar to Solid Liberals, but with less intensity.

Staunch Conservatives, who dominated by the Tea Party and take extremely conservative views on most issues, such as the environment, government and immigration.

Working Class Conservatives, who are moderate cousins of the Staunch Conservatives, but with less intensity.

Libertarians, a younger group with strong views in support of individual self-determination and responsibility and strong opposition to government intervention in most ways.

Disengaged Liberals, who are the only majority-minority group of the seven, are conservative on God and morality, but more liberal on most other issues.

Disaffecteds, who are younger voters who are the least partisan and least ideological of the groups.

In Hampton Roads, only 3 percent were identified as Solid Liberals — the lowest in the state. But 17 percent of area voters were identified as Suburban Liberals.

Less-partisan voters in the region topped 42 percent — one of the highest rates in the state, and a clear sign that Hampton Roads, like much of the state, is in play for the 2016 presidential election.

Rapid urbanization of major Virginia metropolitan areas — Hampton Roads, Richmond and Northern Virginia — has helped Democrats capitalize on local and national victories, the report finds.

"Not long ago, Virginia was predictably Republican in presidential elections," Kramer said. "But it's become competitive as it became younger and more racially and ethnically diverse, and as population shifted away from the rural parts of the state to Northern Virginia and the urban and suburban eastern half."

"President Obama's victories in Virginia in 2008 and 2012 suggest that the Democrats have built a new coalition of liberal voters in the Old Dominion," Kidd said. "Can they recreate that in 2016, or build a new one? And can the Republican nominee put together a new coalition large enough and energized enough to overcome the Democrats' recent success?"

Maybe, according to some political experts, but it's going to take some work.

A number of younger millennial voters fall within the Solid Liberal, Disengaged Liberal or Libertarian categories — with many nearly as unhappy with the direction of the country as Staunch Conservatives, according to the report.

[M]any undecided moderate and millennial voters have grown "disillusioned" with Obama over the last seven years, which could make it difficult for Democrats to maintain their growth in Virginia.  "They must find a way to recreate or fashion a new coalition," Kidd said. "The voter is disillusioned and that could come to the detriment of the party."

Republicans have a similar problem. If they nominate a right-wing social conservative, Kidd said, they risk losing millennial and moderate voters in Virginia.  "Young Libertarians are not attracted to socially conservative candidates," Kidd said.

"No one party can rely solely on its supporters to win Virginia," Kidd said. "If they do that, they lose."

Bernie Sander's Unlikely Rise to Stardom

I will confess that for a long time I have liked some of the statements that Bernie Sanders and his followers have posted on Facebook.  He has a blunt way of talking about America's problems and is an unapologetic liberal in the good sense of the word.  Yet never did I expect his campaign for the presidency to take off as it has.  But then, neither did Hillary Clinton who so far remains way ahead of Sanders in polls.  Like his positions or not, Sanders is blunt speaking and direct.  He's in someways the polar opposite of Donald trump, but on speaking out he is cut from similar cloth.  The difference, of course is that Sanders believes what he says whereas the Donald merely likes to hear himself talk and to cause sensation.  A piece in The Atlantic looks at Sanders' unexpected rise.  Here are excerpts: 

There’s no way this man could be president, right? Just look at him: rumpled and scowling, bald pate topped by an entropic nimbus of white hair. Just listen to him: ranting, in his gravelly Brooklyn accent, about socialism. Socialism!

And yet here we are: In the biggest surprise of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, this thoroughly implausible man, Bernie Sanders, is a sensation.

He is drawing enormous crowds—11,000 in Phoenix, 8,000 in Dallas, 2,500 in Council Bluffs, Iowa—the largest turnout of any candidate from any party in the first-to-vote primary state. He has raised $15 million in mostly small donations, to Hillary Clinton’s $45 million—and unlike her, he did it without holding a single fundraiser. Shocking the political establishment, it is Sanders—not Martin O’Malley, the fresh-faced former two-term governor of Maryland; not Joe Biden, the sitting vice president—to whom discontented Democratic voters looking for an alternative to Clinton have turned.

[T]ruthfully, the socialism rap has been blown out of proportion as well: Sanders accepts “democratic socialist” as an accurate descriptor of his philosophy, but he never sought it as an identity.

“The campaign is moving so fast the infrastructure can’t keep up,” Sanders confesses. “It sometimes reminds me of a military campaign, where the front line of the army is moving faster than the supply chain.” Since Berniemania began this summer, he and a small band of aides have been scrambling to turn it to their advantage.

Sanders and his team have a bracing habit of saying things politicians and their aides are not supposed to say—a minor violation of norms that reminds you how accustomed we are to being lied to in politics.

Another basic tenet of campaign spin is that consultants must never admit their candidate isn’t totally perfect, but Sanders’s people apparently missed that lesson as well.

Sanders is drawing a steady quarter-to-a-third of the vote in Iowa and New Hampshire, pulling within 10 points of Clinton in some New Hampshire polls. Some Clinton aides have begun floating the notion that she could lose one or both of those early-voting states, though this seems like an attempt to lower expectations. But Clinton is still the favorite of Democratic voters nationally by nearly 30 points. She has the money, she has the endorsements from the party elite, and she has the massive teams of staff and advisers.

When Sanders set out to run, he tells me, his main fear was that doing so might prove harmful to his ideas. . . . But the ideas that I am talking about—if the campaign did badly, then it would give the establishment the opportunity to say, See, Sanders ran on a platform calling for single-payer national healthcare system, and he did really poorly,” he continues. He ran on a platform calling for the creation of millions of jobs through rebuilding the infrastructure—nobody really supported him. He talked about income and wealth inequality; it didn’t go anyplace. Those aren’t really good ideas!

Now comes the ultimate test of Democratic unity: a dynastic, centrist, seemingly unstoppable frontrunner—someone who, despite decades in public life, had to convene a committee of 200 advisers to figure out where she stood on economic issues. Finally, the left has been pushed to the breaking point. It has turned, in protest, to the most un-Clinton-like candidate there is—the nutty Vermont uncle of Democratic politics.

At the press conference, I meet Les Bailey, a retired ironworker who lives in Marion, Iowa. He has a salt-and-pepper goatee and wears his hair in a mullet under a black Vietnam-veteran cap. In 2008, he wore himself out walking miles and miles knocking on doors for Barack Obama. Now, he thinks Sanders can win Iowa in a similar upset. “This is not the country I fought for, where billionaires buy elections and anyone can get a gun,” he says.

Every Sanders crowd is full of die-hards like Bailey, passionately committed to their unlikely hero. Every Clinton crowd, on the other hand, is full of lukewarm rank-and-file Democrats who will not hesitate to tell you they have some qualms about supporting her. As Sanders’s press conference ends, a line is forming around the block for the party Clinton is about to throw in the basement of the same building. “I’m with Hillary because I don’t have any choice,” a retired schoolteacher named Elwood Garlock tells me as he waits to pass through the metal detector. “I think she’ll be good. But it would be nice if she’d take up some of Bernie’s ideas.”

It is easy enough to see where Berniemania is coming from. Anti-establishment passion, left and right, is in the air. People are angry all over, fed up with a system that isn’t working, an elite that doesn’t listen, a politics perpetually conducted within a narrow, unrepresentative band of acceptable opinion. “I think there is a lot more anger and frustration on the part of the American people toward corporate America, toward the political establishment, toward the media establishment, than I think inside-the-beltway pundits perceive,” Sanders tells me. If he does nothing else in this campaign, he will have succeeded in driving home that point.

Sanders’s campaign is a temporary vehicle for those still na├»ve enough to see American politics as a vehicle for transformation rather than a hopelessly corrupt compromise. Yet he is also the product of a specifically liberal moment, when rising inequality has powered new skepticism about the adequacy of American-style market capitalism.

We have some very specific proposals,” he says. “We want to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. I believe we need a massive federal jobs program to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure—trillion-dollar legislation, over a 5-year period, which would create 13 million jobs.” Sanders points to his longtime opposition to trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is currently under consideration. His opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. His support for single-payer healthcare, tuition-free public college, and worker-owned companies.

“Those are my views,” he says, a sarcastic edge creeping into his voice. “I suspect you will find them different from Secretary Clinton’s.” 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

More Thursday Male Beauty

New National Poll: Donald Trump Surges, Jeb Bush 3rd

The Republican Party continues to see the consequences of making itself the party of angry aging whites longing for the past and lost white privilege, outright racists, and far right Christian extremists as a new national poll shows the always bombastic Donald Trump surging and assumed GOP establishment candidate Jeb "Jebbie" Bush slipping down to third place.   As Trump surges, the ugly truths about the GOP continue to be highlighted and more and more Americans are waking up to the selfishness, greed, and extremism of the GOP base.  A piece in Politico looks at the most recent poll findings.  Here are highlights:
Donald Trump leads the GOP presidential field by a significant margin, according to a new Quinnipiac University national poll released Thursday.

The poll also indicates that Ohio Gov. John Kasich could ride a post-announcement bump onto the stage for next week’s debate in Cleveland, despite fears that Trump’s wall-to-wall media coverage had overshadowed his late entry into the race.

Fully 20 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters said they would vote for Trump if the primary were held today — the largest share any single candidate has received in Quinnipiac’s seven surveys over the past two years. That puts the brash real-estate magnate ahead of the two other candidates who earn double-digit support: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 13 percent and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 10 percent.

It’s a four-way tie for fourth place — with pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio all at 6 percent. Kasich, at 5 percent, is tied for eighth place with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

That’s enough to vault Kasich into the top 10 in POLITICO’s analysis of the most recent live-caller polling of the GOP primary — and potentially onto the dais at the Fox News debate on Aug. 6. Kasich replaces former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who earned just 2 percent of the vote in the Quinnipiac poll and slipped to 11th in the POLITICO average.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stays at ninth in the average thanks to his 3 percent haul in Thursday’s Quinnipiac poll. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who earned 2 percent in the Quinnipiac poll, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, at 1 percent, are tied for 12th place in the POLITICO average — a full percentage point behind Kasich for the 10th-place spot.

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former New York Gov. George Pataki also earned just 1 percent of the vote — and are all well behind in the average.

Trump’s strength in the poll comes primarily from male voters: He earns 24 percent of the vote among men. But he also leads among female voters, with 15 percent of the vote to Bush’s 12 percent and Walker’s 9 percent.

[F]or Trump, a 59 percent majority of voters views him unfavorably, with 27 percent who have a favorable opinion. But his image ratings have actually improved over the past two months: In Quinnipiac’s late May poll — taken before he announced his candidacy — just 20 percent viewed him favorably, and 69 percent viewed him unfavorably.
In short, the spectacle continues.  Meanwhile, the Koch brothers seek to derail Trump in favor of one of their puppets.

US Catholic Bishops Are Ignoring Pope Francis' Message

The Republican Party is not the only group that is denying reality and changing attitudes towards LGBT individuals.  In lock step you will find U.S. Catholic bishops continuing to double down on anti-gay bigotry - as well as discrimination against divorced Catholics in the case of the despicable Bishop of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia.  This despite the message that Pope Francis has seemingly tried to send that business as usual is not going to cut it, especially as the Catholic Church suffers membership loses across the globe except in backward, uneducated regions of Africa (ignorance and lack of education being a prerequisite to embracing the Christian narrative).   A piece in the National Catholic Reporter looks at the U.S. Bishops' subversion of Pope Francis' message.  Here are excerpts:
There have been a number of recent firings of gay or lesbian employees within the Catholic church in the United States. Principals, teachers and a variety of parish ministers are among those who have been fired. Gay priests and women religious have been dismissed from significant positions of influence. Fr. Warren Hall, a gay priest and chaplain at Seton Hall University, was removed from his position by the archbishop of Newark, N.J.

Hall has written a letter to Pope Francis requesting a meeting with the LGBT community within the church when Pope Francis visits the United States in September. In his letter, Hall writes, "Good teachers are being fired, pastoral and compassionate priests and religious women are being silenced ... and good, faith-filled people are leaving the Church as they witness all of this happening."

It is clear that bishops have the power to make these decisions and to hire and fire for any reason or for no reason. Having the power to do something, however, is not the same thing as it being the right thing to do. It is interesting to note that the bishop, not the school, made the decision regarding Hall.
Schools, hospitals, universities, etc. have often been pleased or satisfied with their own employees, yet bishops have seen fit to intervene. There is also the issue of firing people who are doing a good job, as Hall himself notes.

[T]he bishops appear to be ignoring the words of Pope Francis. Pope Francis has made no attempt to change any church doctrine, and there is no indication he has any plans to. Conservatives should be happy about this. However, Pope Francis has also made clear that there does need to be a dramatic change in the way the church does business. Gone are the days of wholesale condemnation. Instead, we need to live in the world and embrace God's creatures and creation as good. A new openness is needed . . .

Why are the bishops not hearing or responding to this message? Do they simply not get it? Do they just not agree with the pope and are choosing to defy or ignore the Francis message? Do they believe that Francis won't be around that long and they will just wait it out until a pope more to their liking comes along?

What they need to understand is that this is not just about Francis. This is about coming to grips with the world around them. Bishops need to recognize that today's culture has moved to a different place on a number of issues. They can choose to stand on the sidelines and become more and more irrelevant. In doing so, they will find that fewer and fewer members even of the faithful will bother to listen to what they have to say.

The alternative is to be more welcoming to the world around them. Bishops need to stop the knee-jerk reaction of forcefully condemning every statement that they don't understand or disagree with. . . . How refreshing it would be if the bishops were to choose to be a part of the world rather than isolating themselves and ensuring that their utterances are not seen as constructive or helpful to the wider world around them. Ultimately, the bishops need to shed their attachment to power and learn to serve as did the Lord Jesus.
Will the bishops get the message?  Probably not.  The majority are likely self-loathing closet cases who cannot stand the fact that some gays have come to terms with their sexuality.  They are bitter, nasty men who have no concept of the real world and who surround themselves with sycophants  and pandering ass kissers. It is they, along with other Christofascists who are slowly but surely killing Christianity.

Pew Survey: Changing Positive Attitudes on Gay Marriage

While some polls have suggested that support for same sex marriage has fallen in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, a new piece at Pew Research Center has bad news for the Christofascists: 55% of Americans support marriage equality versus 32% of Republicans who support marriage equality.  Most troubling for the GOP are the findings that 61% of independents support same sex marriage.  Worse yet from a long term view, 70% of  so-called Millennials support same sex marriage.  The findings are but further proof that the GOP is increasingly out of touch with the rest of America and living in a bubble like echo chamber dominated by Fox News, a/k/a Faux News, and loud mouth blowhards like Rush Limbaugh.  Here are highlights from Pew:
In Pew Research polling in 2001, Americans opposed same-sex marriage by a 57% to 35% margin.  Since then, support for same-sex marriage has steadily grown. Based on polling in 2015, a majority of Americans (55%) support same-sex marriage, compared with 39% who oppose it.

Younger generations express higher levels of support for same-sex marriage.  However, older generations also have become more supportive of same-sex marriage in recent years.

Among people who are religiously unaffiliated, a solid majority have supported same-sex marriage since 2001.

And among Catholics and white mainline Protestants, roughly six-in-ten now express support for same-sex marriage.  Support for same-sex marriage among black Protestants and white evangelical Protestants remains lower than among other religious groups.

Majorities of both Democrats (66%) and independents (61%) now favor same-sex marriage.  A smaller share of Republicans fave same-sex marriage (32%), though they also have become more supportive over the past decade.

Today, 58% of whites support same-sex marriage, as do 39% of blacks.
Despite these findings, the GOP remains the political whore of Christofascists.  When one does the numbers, it is hard to see the GOP remaining a viable political party in the long term, not because of marriage equality but because of a host of issues.  Increasingly, racism and demagoguery only plays well with a shrinking part of the electorate.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

The Sick, Bizarre World of Trophy Hunting

Douche bag Walter Palmer and his victim
I will admit that I am anti-gun and anti-hunting.  In part this stems from early exposure to the lawlessness and selfishness of hunters.  Growing up in Central New York we lived in the county we lived on 50 acres and had horses.  During hunting season we had to fear for the lives of our horses and ourselves as hunters trespassed at will despite all the "Posted - No Trespass" signs that were up and down our property lines.  That experience was not unique and family members in the Charlottesville, Virginia, area experience the same problem to this day.  Personally, I think the phenomenon links with a psychological defect that makes some feel like "macho males" only when they kill largely defenseless animals.  Part and parcel with this mindset is an attitude that the law and rules do not apply to these "real men."  With the furor over they illegal killing of Cecil the Zimbabwe lion, much needed focus is coming on the sickness of hunters, especially trophy hunters.  A piece in Salon looks at this sick and disturbing world.  Here are highlights:
Minnesota dentist and trophy hunter Walter Palmer ignited worldwide outrage after killing the beloved Zimbabwe lion named Cecil. Hundreds have left angry reviews of his dental practice on Yelp and a Care2 petition condemning his actions has racked up more than 200,000 signatures. Focusing this rage on Palmer overshadows the bizarre practices and unscrupulous conduct that are a big part of business as usual throughout the trophy hunting industry. When wealthy clients pay thousands to kill exotic species, professional hunting guides face enormous pressure to deliver the goods even if that means breaking the law. Trophy hunters maintain that they hunt for the benefit of nature, but when the interests of profit and animals collide, abuse is inevitable.

The practice of trophy hunting originated as a way for humans to demonstrate power over large, dangerous animals, but now that modern high-powered weapons can subdue even the largest animals, the trophy hunter’s focus has shifted from animals that are dangerous to those that are rare.

[T]oday’s trophy hunters are corporate types who may spend tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands to kill a single animal. And the bigger and rarer and more beautiful the animal, the more a trophy hunter wants to kill it: An African lion hunt starts at around $39,000. For $60,000, power brokers can bag a bull elephant.

Exorbitant prices can pressure hunting guides to deliver a “successful” hunt no matter what. Hunters want to feel that their experience is real and that the hunt has not been staged, but when a hunt costs as much as a new luxury car, guides must practically guarantee that clients will take home the trophy they want. This leads guides to undertake unscrupulous and even unlawful methods to tilt the odds in their favor. Palmer’s guides allegedly used bait to lure Cecil away from the safety of Hwange National Park and illegally disposed of the lion’s radio collar. American hunting ranches use bait stations to concentrate animals and cameras to monitor their whereabouts. On African big game safaris, some hunting guides use bush planes to herd animals into firing range of a waiting hunter.

Trophy hunters argue that their pastime helps to conserve wildlife, but the reality of trophy hunting’s success as a tool of conservation has been mixed: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for the first time in history, may list the African lion as an endangered species—a move that could ban American hunters from importing lion trophies—citing overzealous hunting as one reason for the big cat’s decline.

[R]arity itself makes animals more desirable and causes collectors to value killing them even more, a phenomenon Franck Courchamp calls the anthropogenic Allee effect: “The human predisposition to place exaggerated value on rarity fuels disproportionate exploitation of rare species, rendering them even rarer and thus more desirable, ultimately leading them into an extinction vortex.”

Wealthy hunters don’t need to travel to Africa to shoot exotic big game animals. Hunting preserves in the U.S. offer the chance to kill a dizzying array of species, including fallow deer, antelope, zebras and even exotic breeds of domestic goats. Most were bred specifically to be killed, but some game farms purchase animals from exotic animal auctions and even zoos.

In 2014, the Indianapolis Star conducted the first comprehensive investigation into America’s trophy deer hunting industry.  . . . They concluded that the trophy deer hunting business “costs taxpayers millions of dollars, compromises long-standing wildlife laws, endangers wild deer, and undermines the government’s multibillion-dollar effort to protect livestock and the food supply.”

In less than 40 years, deer breeding—which started as a backyard hobby—ballooned into an industry that operates primarily to give wealthy and busy clients the opportunity to kill trophy-size animals with a minimum of effort. The trophy deer breeding industry comprises at least 10,000 farms and hunting preserves in the U.S. and Canada. Over half of the states that permit the hunting of captive wild animals have few or no regulations regarding how captive wild animals are killed.

Chancellor also noted differences in how men and women approach animals right after killing them: “When they approach a kill, most guys high five or have a cigar,” he said. “Women will, almost without exception, sit by the animal, touch the animal. Some say a prayer. Some cry. Some walk with their head in their hands.”

These trophy hunters are a sick bunch and in my view must have microscopic penises if they so desperately need to kill rare and beautify animals so that they can feel like "real men."  Trophy hunting needs to be banned.   As for Palmer, I hope his dental practice is destroyed.  Perhaps he should have spent his wealth on penile enlargement surgery so that he would not need to be off killing prized and beloved animals.

The Challenges That Remain After Marriage Equality

Living in a state like Virginia it is easy to be reminded that winning marriage equality was anything but the last battle in the struggle for legal equality for LGBT individuals.  In Virginia and many other states, members of the LGBT community can be fired at will with zero state law protections, we can be discriminated against at will in housing, and we daily see Republican political whores of the Christofascists (in Virginia its usually The Family Foundation that pulls the GOP puppet strings) ranting about the need to protect "religious freedom" which translates into special rights for Christofascists and a license for them to discriminate however they want as long as they dress their bigotry in smoke screen of religious belief.  A main editorial in the New York Times looks at all the issues that have yet to be resolved.  Here are highlights:
It’s tempting to regard last month’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage as the coda of the gay rights movement.

Yet the marriage equality victory should not be regarded as the final battle, or even a clear sign that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans are on the cusp of enjoying full equality under the law. They are not.

Discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation remains an everyday challenge in many parts of the country. Currently, 31 states lack comprehensive laws that protect gay and transgender Americans from being fired, evicted or denied lines of credit.

Last week, lawmakers in the House and the Senate introduced the Equality Act, a bill that would broaden legal protections by amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to explicitly cover sexual orientation and gender identity. 

While federal courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have found that gay and transgender workers are protected under federal law, the bill would offer an important layer of protection in the workplace and beyond. Many Americans still worry that being out to colleagues and bosses could jeopardize their job security or career advancement.

The law would protect transgender students who are waging humiliating battles against school systems that have allowed hysteria to dictate policies on the use of public restrooms. It would make it harder for landlords to turn down prospective tenants who are gender nonconforming. To those who live in the country’s large, liberal cities, these scenarios might seem like aberrations. In much of the country, though, they are an everyday reality for thousands of Americans.

The Democratic lawmakers sponsoring the Equality Act realize the bill might have little chance of passing while both chambers of Congress are controlled by Republicans. (It was introduced with no Republican backers.) It is nonetheless a worthy piece of legislation that establishes what more is needed to ensure full equal rights.

Today, a broad majority of Americans support protecting gay and transgender workers from employment discrimination. Nearly two-thirds of likely Republican voters and 90 percent of Democrats recently told pollsters that they support such protection. There is every reason, moral and political, to be on the right side of this issue.

But, of course, GOP elected officials are not on the right side of the issue.  They still support hate and bigotry  as they pander for the votes of the Christofascists who have no place in polite and decent society. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Thinly Veiled Hate Speech: "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin"

Besides being a total hypocrite when it comes to supporting Israel, Huckabee and his fellow Christofascists love to claim that they don't hate gays.  Indeed, they claim to "love gays" - they disingenuously claim that they "love the sinner, but hate the sinner."  They make these claims, of course even as they strive to make the lives of LGBT individuals a living hell and demand the right to mistreat us and discriminate against under the guise of religious freedom.  The take away?  That these people are vile hypocrites and few people lie more often than the self-anointed "godly folk."  A piece in Huffington Post calls out these modern day Pharisees.  Here are highlights:
“I love her, but she’s got to learn right from wrong,” he said … after beating her half to death. And there she lies, one foot in this world and another in the next--but fully “loved.”

I imagine that’s what LGBTQ folks hear when yet another Christian says, “I love the sinner, but I hate the sin.”

Now, I can imagine that immediately upon reading the connection between those last two thoughts, cries of righteous indignation will rise as a chorus unto heaven. “We’re not abusers, simply because we hate what homosexuals do with their private parts. We’ve never actually, physically struck a gay person because of their gayness.”

Nevertheless, I don’t think that gets you off the hook for the violence that is done in the name of your religious commitments for two important reasons.

First, when you fight against anti-bullying laws written to keep LGBTQ kids safe from being abused, you are propping up a system of violence that steals the dignity, and often the lives of those children you say you love. If a gay or trans kid commits suicide because you want to retain the right to loudly and repeatedly announce to the world your moral disapprobation, giving energy to a system dedicated to never letting LGBTQ kids forget that they are sinful aberrations for which the fires of hell are regularly stoked hotter, you bear some responsibility for their death.  

When LGBTQ kids get beaten, when they’re kicked out of their homes and forced to live on the streets and struggle to do some of the despicable things they have to do to stay alive, you may not be raising a hand against them, but you’re certainly massaging the muscles that do the damage. When you support a vision of the world in which LGBTQ people daily have to live in fear for their livelihoods, their homes, their right to a peaceful and flourishing existence just so you can proudly announce your doctrinal purity and your commitment to a world where only your religious beliefs matter, you may not be drawing anyone’s actual blood--but don’t kid yourself that there’s not blood on your hands.

Second, physical violence isn’t the only kind of violence. The abuse that takes place in families, for instance, is often not physical abuse. You can lay claim to having never physically harmed a person, while at the same time being guilty of killing that person’s soul.

[Y]our attempts at “loving” the object of your disapproval always seem to come off as a self-righteous assertion of your moral superiority (at best), or downright antipathy (at worst). 

 Saying you love someone as you punch them in the mouth, or standing by (while cheering or remaining silent) while somebody else punches them in the mouth or loudly fighting for laws that will continue making punching them in the mouth legal in the name of “religious freedom” isn’t love. 

A cursory reading of the Gospels suggests that, for those of us who follow Jesus, love isn’t the perpetual need to make everyone else conform to our understanding of righteousness; it’s the merciful realization that Jesus has freed us from the responsibility of thinking that’s even our job. 
I will be honest.  I do not like or respect Christofascists.  They are horrible, self-centered people, many of whom can't stand the thought of having to think for themselves.   They would rather harm others and childishly follow the dictates of often parasitical clerics rather than use their minds and think for themselves.  They deserve no place in decent society.