Saturday, September 12, 2015

More Saturday Male Beauty

Prospect of a Government Shutdown Grows

The swamp fever - or perhaps it's a form of rabies - afflicting much of the Republican Party is making the likelihood of a government shutdown increase.  Apparently, these morons have forgotten how the last round hurt the GOP and inflicted economic pain on families and communities.  All because the lunatic fringe of the GOP clings to a fictional book written by ignorant unknown authors.  It goes without saying that in Hampton Roads with its huge federal employee presence, a shutdown could be painful.  It might also motivate voters to punish the GOP in the November state elections. An article in The Hill looks at the growing likelihood of a shutdown.   Here are highlights:

The prospect of a second government shutdown in two years is growing as House conservatives pledge to oppose any funding measure that includes money for Planned Parenthood. 
GOP leaders face a familiar problem.

A measure that blocks funding for Planned Parenthood would almost certainly lack the votes to pass the Senate, and would be vetoed by President Obama.

But Republicans in the House don't have enough GOP votes to approve a funding measure that continues funding for Planned Parenthood, and don't want to negotiate with Democrats. 

[A]s in past funding fights, they insisted it would be the Democrats and President Obama who would be blamed for a shutdown.

The conservative House Freedom Caucus, with more than 40 members, on Thursday vowed to oppose any spending bill that includes Planned Parenthood funds.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been the leading Republican opponent of demands to link an end to Planned Parenthood’s funding with the government-funding measure.

On Friday in an interview with Politico, he sent the signal that Senate Republicans have had enough, calling the linkage “an exercise in futility” with President Obama in the White House.

“I’m anxious to defund Planned Parenthood,” McConnell said, before adding that “the honest answer of that is that’s not going to happen until you have a president who has a similar view.”

[I]t is far from clear that McConnell’s view will sway conservatives in the House, who have viewed him with suspicion.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who is getting threats again on his leadership position, has been cautious in his remarks about the House GOP’s next steps.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Friday that the House will vote next week on a standalone bill to defund Planned Parenthood for one year while investigations take place.  But it is unclear that the step will appease conservatives, since the measure would be dead on arrival in the Senate.

“He [Boehner] either has to make a bad deal with Democrats or shut down the government. Those are his unfortunate options,” Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said after emerging from a closed-door meeting on Planned Parenthood with 40 to 50 other Republicans on Friday. “I think this can create a civil war in the House of Representatives.”

Other Republicans, like McConnell, want to avoid any repeat of the 16-day government shutdown in 2013 that hurt their party. Their hope is that cooler heads will prevail.

“People remember, we shut down the government over ObamaCare, which was very unpopular,” he said. “Planned Parenthood is not unpopular. Its polling is actually very strong. If you're going to do something that affects funding, you need to make the case.”

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), a centrist, agreed a shutdown would be a “tactical and strategic blunder.”

Sanity and logic make it clear that a shutdown makes no sense, especially for the GOP.  However, the religious fanatic element in the House - the media needs to stop using the term "conservative," because they aren't conservatives; they are extremists and fanatics (just like Kim Davis) - care nothing about sanity and logic.  It's all about the supposed dictates of their invisible friend in the sky. 

Why We Must Protect LGBT Youth

With the continuing circus surrounding Kim Davis' effort to push a Chrisofascist version of Sharia and Republicans racing to prostitute themselves to Davis' spittle flecked, gun totting supporters, one thing is clear: there are a lot of hate-filled people out there and the battle for LGBT equality under the civil laws still has a long way to go.  What is also upsetting is that the vile things being said about gays send a terrible message to LGBT youth in general and those being raised in anti-gay households.  A piece in Huffington Post looks at the situation and the dangers posed to LGBT youth.  Here are excerpts:
I've watched Kim Davis crying to "Eye Of The Tiger" a dozen times. . . . It's a grotesque spectacle . . .

These people are a dying breed. Within the decade my guess is they will be nonexistent.

In the longterm, I'm utterly unconcerned. However, I'm a bit worried that violence will rise within the next couple of years, especially toward LGBT youth. The live broadcast of Kim Davis' "liberation" before a cheering crowd surely came off as anti-gay empowerment for some with Mike Huckabee spinning it all into the supposed criminalization of Christianity. I mean, they are really raising the stakes here. If your crazy kind is gasping its last dying breaths, now would be the time to fight back hard.

It worries me a bit. That is why it is important, especially if you live in small rural communities like Rowan County, to vocalize your acceptance of LGBT people. Reassure your youth that there is nothing wrong with them. That they are accepted fully just the way they are.
The bigots might be on their way out, but some won't go without one last fight. Hopefully the fight will just be hot air, and not baseball bats.

As I have said before, forcing anti-gay beliefs on LGBT youth ought to be an official form of felony child abuse.   I just hope the batshitery doesn't harm to vulnerable LGBT youth.  Meanwhile, the sooner Christianity is a dead religion, the better off the world will be.  Ditto for Islam.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Bill Maher: Kim Davis Seeks to Apply Christian Sharia Law

The spectacle of the batshitery coming out of Rowan County, Kentucky, if nothing else, is highlighting the extremism of "godly folk" and their desire to impose the Christian  equivalent of Sharia law on other citizens.  It's the same mind set as the Taliban and it's the same mindset of ISIS.  Behind it all is terror of modernity and anything that threatens their fairy tale beliefs be it based on the only too error filled Bible or the rantings of a schizophrenic in the Koran.  Bill Maher makes this connection in his all too on spot commentary.  Here are highlights via The Raw Story:

During a lively discussion about Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, HBO’s Real Time host Bill Maher said there is no difference between what the anti-gay government worker is doing —using the Bible instead of settled law to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples — and extremist Sharia law.

“If you say, as Kim Davis and her ilk, and Ted Cruz and all those people say that actually ‘I can ignore the rule of man because the rule book of God said’ —  then you are Iran. Then you are Saudi Arabia. Then you are Sharia law,” Maher explained.

With conservative commentator Linda Chavez — who agreed that Davis is wrong – saying there is a substantial amount of religious people in the U.S. and “you are going to have to bring them along ” slowly, Daily Beast Editor Michael Moynihan jumped in by mocking Davis and her conservative Christian supporters.

“I don’t think that’s her intention here, to sort of slowly bring people along to this idea of gay marriage,” he explained. “She comes out of jail. Every Republican is waiting to have his photo taken with her. They have a shout-and-holler Cletus ceremony, everyone is holding up crosses, and Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger‘ is playing… well, I’m glad we’re all coming along very slowly.”
Fundamentalist Christians need to be recognized for the clear and present danger that they pose to the rights of others and constitutional government.  They need to become utter pariahs.

Rick Perry Abandons Presidential Run

The GOP clown car - or perhaps we should say bus - has one less occupant.  Rick Perry, who I have always seen as dangerous and delusional has called it quits.   Apparently, outside of Texas, few want was Perry was trying to sell and he has grasp that reality even if on almost every other issue he is out of touch with objective reality. Now we just need to dump the remaining clown car occupants.   Politico looks at Perry's demise.  Here are highlights:  

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday announced that he was suspending his presidential campaign, becoming the first Republican to drop out of the race and kicking off the winnowing stage of the crowded GOP contest.

"We have a tremendous field—the best in a generation—so I step aside knowing our party is in good hands," Perry said at a conservative conference in St. Louis.

The longest-serving governor in Texas history, Perry had never lost a race in his home state in his three-decades-long career, making his stumbles in the national spotlight this year, and during his ill-fated 2012 bid, all the more humbling. 

As a titan in the Texas political arena, Perry entered the 2012 GOP primary as the frontrunner, only to watch his campaign implode amid a series of high-profile missteps. In an attempt at political redemption, the former governor spent close to two years traveling and studying up on policy issues in the run-up to 2016, seeking to rehabilitate his tarnished image. But the spectacular nature of his 2012 collapse proved difficult to overcome and he struggled to remain relevant. Fundraising was a challenge, and he failed to gain traction in the polls despite spending significant time in the early states, especially Iowa, and despite the assistance of a well-funded super PAC.

Perry began alerting donors and supporters as early as Thursday that he was planning to drop out, said Doug Deason, son of Texas billionaire Darwin Deason, who gave $5 million to Perry's super PAC. The Deasons received a call from Perry on Thursday alerting them to his move, and they plan to watch the field play out further before committing.
By this week, he was down to one paid staffer in Iowa, one in South Carolina and none in New Hampshire. He was foundering in the polls after failing to qualify for the main stage debate in the first GOP primary contest and his weak polling support had once again relegated him to the second-tier debate next week.

My view?  Good riddance! I have long though Perry a dangerous buffoon.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday Morning Male Beauty

The GOP's Growing Anti-Islam Fanaticism

Conservative columnist Michael Gerson has gone off the GOP reservation again in a column in the Washington Post that condemns the GOP's growing anti-Islam fanaticism which ultimately plays into the hands of Islamic terrorists.  GOP candidates engaged in anti-Muslim demagoguery may win points with the increasing racist and religiously extreme party base - many of who seem to want to bring back the Crusades - but they are providing great video clips for terrorist to use in propaganda campaigns.  Sadly, the days of the GOP being a responsible political party are gone and  Gerson needs to understand that rational thought and arguments and the Republican Party are now generally mutually exclusive.  Hate, bigotry, homophobia, racism - these are now the GOP norm and the party's candidates only inflame the insanity and extremism of the party base.  In the long run, it harms America's long term interests.  Here are column highlights:

During the speech [to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001], Bush explained, “The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics — a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam.” 

This claim — that radical Islam is a violation rather than an expression of Islam — is controversial among many conservatives today. Bush’s formulation of this argument might well be disqualifying in the current GOP presidential nomination process. This change in language and attitude toward Islam represents the largest shift in Republican views of the war on terrorism since 2001. 

During the last two presidential nomination cycles, Republican candidates, at various points, have proposed requiring a loyalty oath for Muslims to serve in government; ruled out Muslims serving in their Cabinet; called sharia law “a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States”; raised alarms about the “creeping attempt” to “ease [sharia] law and the Muslim faith into our government”; warned of “no go” zones where sharia law rules; described Muslim immigration as “colonization” and warned that immigrants “want to come and conquer us”; said there were only a “handful” of “reasonable, moderate followers of Islam”; described Islam as “a religion that promotes the most murderous mayhem on the planet.”  

All this is combined with a durable conviction among some Republicans that President Obama offers Muslims special favor and may be a Muslim himself. As well as an almost magical belief that saying the words “radical Islamic terrorism” — like reciting an incantation — is a victory in the war against terrorism. 

These beliefs have become pronounced during the Republican Party’s current populist turn, in which the blaming of outsiders is a sure applause line (and, in some campaigns, a substitute for ideas and policy). The current rejection of “political correctness” . . . . has become a type of broad permission for the expression of properly repressed ethnic and religious resentments.

Bush did not make this point only because he was a decent human being . . . . Terrorists from the 9/11 hijackers to the Islamic State believe they will win if the world’s Muslims regard their conflict as Islam versus the West. Cultivating this belief is the main objective of their sophisticated propaganda.

Bush believed that we will win if the world regards this conflict as civilized humanity versus murderers who use religion as an excuse for hatred, tyranny and the will to power. 

Perhaps seven years without presidential authority has left Republicans unfamiliar with presidential responsibilities. But this contest of narratives remains the most important ideological struggle of our time. And Republicans should engage that debate, not complicate it.

New York Police Wrongfully Arrest Black Tennis Star

While the apologists on the far right refuse to admit that there are serious problems in many of the nation's police forces when it comes to excessive force against blacks, the wrongful arrest and excessive force used by the New York City police against James Blake a retired Harvard educated tennis star.  Sadly, in the minds of too many police offers, being black - or in Blake's case, bi-racial - automatically makes one guilty and opens the door to abusive force.  Pretending the problem doesn't exist or that President Obama is undermining respect for the police doesn't solve the serious problem.  The New York Times looks at the latest embarrassment to the NYPD.  Here are excerpts:
A New York Police Department officer was stripped of his gun and badge as Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William J. Bratton issued swift apologies on Thursday for the rough arrest of James Blake, the retired tennis star, after he was misidentified as a suspect in a fraudulent credit card ring.

Criticism swirled over whether Mr. Blake had been mistreated because he was biracial. But it was Mr. Bratton’s acknowledgment that excessive force may have been used when an officer threw him to the ground that put a renewed national focus on the everyday arrest tactics long criticized by members of minority groups.

The officers failed to report the mistaken arrest, as they were required to do, raising the possibility that it would not have come to light had Mr. Blake not spoken out.
The officer’s decision to throw an unarmed, compliant man to the ground added to the sense that black people are often roughed up by the police out of view, with few resources to bring attention to their grievances. In a sign of the shifting discourse on race and policing, Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Bratton moved with unusual speed to contact Mr. Blake to apologize. But the gestures also raised questions about whether they would have moved so swiftly if the encounter had not involved a well-known figure.

“This shouldn’t have happened and he shouldn’t have been treated that way,” Mr. de Blasio said in an interview on NY1 on Thursday, echoing remarks made earlier by Mr. Bratton.

The actions of the officer, James Frascatore, were under review by internal affairs investigators and the Civilian Complaint Review Board. At least three force-related complaints, one of which was partially substantiated, were filed against Officer Frascatore, 38, with the review board in 2013, said a law enforcement official, who spoke anonymously because the police inquiry was continuing.

Video of the arrest reviewed by the authorities revealed how a botched sting operation had ensnared a sports celebrity, resulting in his being body-slammed to the sidewalk, according to his account, and handcuffed for 15 minutes on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr. Blake, 35, who retired from tennis two years ago, said the episode had drawn attention to the kind of rough arrest tactics that he believed were all too common in New York City.

“I do think most cops are doing a great job keeping us safe, but when you police with reckless abandon, you need to be held accountable,” Mr. Blake, whose mother is white and whose father was black, said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The self-effacing tennis star, known on the tour for his speed and sportsmanship, was leaving the Grand Hyatt New York on East 42nd Street around noon on Wednesday to make an appearance for a corporate sponsor at the United States Open when Officer Frascatore, who was dressed in street clothes, barreled toward him.

“This happens too often,” Mr. Blake said, “and most of the time it’s not to someone like me.”
There's more to the story, but you get the drift.  There are many good police officers, but there are a number that have no business wearing a badge and carrying a gun.  Sadly, most internal affairs departments' number one goal is protecting police officers rather than the public.  Until police departments get rid of the "bad apples," they deserve to be viewed with distrust.  It is ultimately their own fault when they continue to have officers like James Frascatore and those who have shot unarmed individuals on their staffs.  

New Study Defines Homophobia as a Psychosis

A new study out of Italy may have an explanation for the hysterical anti-gay behavior of Ken Cuccinelli, Rick Santorum, Tony Perkins, Brian Brown and a host of other professional Christians - they suffer from a form of mental illness.  (One other explanation, of course, is that these individuals are instead cynical parasites who suck money out of the mentally ill and ignorant).   The study finds that homophobia may actually be a psychiatric disorder involving elements of psychopathalogical disorders.    Here are highlights from Gaynewsnetwork:
[A] new study suggests homophobia may actually be a psychiatric disorder.

The study by Dr. Emmanuele Jannini, a professor of endocrinology and medical sexology at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, suggests homophobia presents elements of psychopathalogical disorders.

Jannini surveyed 551 university students to measure their levels of homophobia, defence mechanisms, attachment styles, and psychopathologic symptoms and discovered there was a “remarkable association between dysfunctional aspects of personality and homophobic attitude”.

[F]or the first time we demonstrated that the real disease to be cured is homophobia, associated with potentially severe psychopathologies,” wrote Dr Jannini in a press release.

Janinni’s study suggested heterosexual people displaying immature defence mechanisms and psychoticism were more likely to be at risk of displaying homophobia.

Jannini suggested treating people who display risk signs for homophobia could assist in removing their prejudices towards LGBTI people.
At the risk of outraging the Bible beaters, I would also venture to say that far right Christians who react hysterically and/or violently to anything that threatens their fairy tale beliefs also suffer from mental disorders.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

More Thursday Male Beauty

click image to enlarge

North Carolina and Virginia Businesses Oppose Atlantic Offshore Drilling

Outer Banks beach

If one lives in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia or the Outer Banks of North Carolina, after the military and the U.S. government spending, the number one driver of the economy is tourism, especially tourism focused on the regions' beaches and waterways.  As I have noted before on this blog, years ago I was in-house counsel for a Fortune 50 company's oil and gas subsidiary, so I do know a thing or two about oil and gas explorations and offshore drilling (I even negotiated concession agreements with foreign governments).  While no oil company wants a drilling disaster, as the BP nightmare in the Gulf of Mexico made clear, accidents do happen and the economic and environmental consequences are dire.    Here are highlights from Think Progress on opposition to Atlantic offshore drilling:
For coastal companies that depend on a healthy stream of tourists to keep business healthy, the prospect of drilling in the Atlantic Ocean means one thing: spills that will sully beaches and drive visitors away.

More than 300 Atlantic coast businesses sent a letter to President Obama Thursday, urging him to take back his administration’s proposal to allow drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. In January, the Obama administration announced a proposal to sell oil and gas leases in offshore sites from Virginia to Georgia.

In the letter, the businesses outline the economic risk posed by offshore drilling, saying that monetary losses due to lost tourism revenue could be “devastating.” They also note that the Energy Information Administration estimates that the Atlantic Ocean holds only about 209 days’ worth of oil and 13 months’ worth of natural gas.

“Offshore drilling is incompatible with our tourism and fishing industries. When you drill, you spill, and day to day drilling operations result in chronic pollution and the industrialization of the coast for oil facilities,” the letter reads. “Look no further than the devastation the BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe brought to the Gulf of Mexico’s fishing, tourism and wildlife to recognize the impact drilling would have here on the Atlantic Coast.”

Jeff Downey, owner of the Savannah, Georgia restaurant Circa 1875 and one of the signatories of the letter, said on a press call Thursday that about 85 percent of his business during the summer comes from tourists.
“If they allow offshore drilling, it will ruin our coasts first of all, and people will just stop coming,” he said. Savannah is in a hurricane zone, he said, and though hurricanes there have been rare over the last century, he worries a major storm could damage a drilling rig and cause a spill.

Cola Vaughan, owner of Cola Vaughan Realty on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, was another one of the business owners who signed on to the letter. He said businesses in the Outer Banks depend heavily on pristine beaches to attract visitors, and that even a “perceived threat” of spills would cause potential vacationers to think twice about choosing the Outer Banks.
It makes sense for businesses to be worried about a major spill. The Deepwater Horizon disaster, which killed 11 people and sent millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, took a toll on Gulf businesses. An estimated $22.7 billion in Gulf tourism money was lost from 2010 through 2013 because of the spill.  

The 300 businesses hope adding their names to the opposition will help convince the administration to give up plans for Atlantic drilling. 

“Our coasts are worth too much to risk,” they write in the letter. “Rather than exposing our beaches, families and businesses to the inherent risks of drilling, we need to move this country in the direction of renewable energy.”
In the interest of full disclosure, the husband and I live on a tidal creek, and a major oil spill offshore from Hampton Roads could foul the creek behind our home.
Our backyard and Robinson Creek last fall

McDowell County, NC Refuse to Issuer Gay Marriage Licenses

McDowell County Court House
 As anti-gay as Virginia continues to be in terms of anti-gay laws that remain a part of the Code of Virginia, since the Republican Party gained a majority in the North Carolina legislature, North Carolina has made Virginia begin to look down right gay friendly in comparison.  Now, however, the North Carolina GOP's willing self-prostitution may be beginning to bite the Republican political whores in the ass.  Why?  Because in their rush to debase themselves to the Christofascists in the GOP base , the GOP controlled North Carolina legislature passed legislation that allows every magistrate "the right to recuse from performing all lawful marriages...based upon any sincerely held religious objection."  In McDowell County, all of the magistrates who perform civil law marriages have opted to use the special rights legislation to refuse to do their jobs.  As Newsweek reports, now magistrates must be imported to perform legal marriages as mandated by the U.S. Supreme Court.  The take away is that either public officials need to perform the duties of their office or resign. There should be no special rights for bigots who cling to the Bible to justify their bigotry.   Here are article highlights:
Officials in McDowell County in North Carolina are being forced to ship in magistrates from neighboring Rutherford County after all four of McDowell's magistrate judges recused themselves from performing marriages—gay, straight or otherwise. The magistrates invoked their rights not to perform marriages under the state's religious exemption law, which allows every magistrate "the right to recuse from performing all lawful marriages...based upon any sincerely held religious objection."

"Every single one has said they will opt out and won't do the marriages," Chief District Judge Randy Pool told local television station WLOS . . . . North Carolina passed a law in May allowing magistrates and register of deeds employees to exempt themselves from performing marriages if they have religious objections. The law does not allow state employees to opt out of gay marriages alone, but requires them to abstain from performing any marriages for at least six months.

[T]he four magistrates refusing to perform marriages are Thomas T. Atkinson, Jr., Hilary C. Hollifield, Chad A. Johnson and Debra H. Terrell. The McDowell County magistrate's office did not return a request for comment.

A municipal clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, Kim Davis, was jailed last week for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses for religious reasons, in defiance of June's Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage. North Carolina's religious exemption law makes such an outcome unlikely in McDowell County.

I am so utterly over the special rights demanded by the Christofascists.  The irony is that these cretins don't realize that they have opened the door for every crack pot of every religious persuasion to refuse to do their job and use "sincere religious belief" as an excuse.  Do your job or resign!  It is really that simple. As for those who call themselves "conservative Christians," as noted before, I personally find it increasingly difficult to view them with anything but total contempt. They are not nice or decent people. They are selfish, self-centered bigots who need to be barred from public office if they will not do their job and socially, they need to become pariahs. No more undue deference to religion or its idiot followers. 

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

The Radicalization of the GOP

A piece in Salon raises a question that needs to be answered: why is the mainstream media so afraid to report on the insanity - and outright racism - now the norm in much of the GOP base?  Like religious extremists, the media is afraid to call out birthers and other conspiracy theory advocates in the GOP and the sad reality that facts and objective reality simply no longer matter to a seemingly growing segment of the GOP base.  And what's worse, by failing to do so, the media is enabling the crazies to pass as "normal" and pull others along with them.  One of the two major political  parties has wondered off into extremism and lunacy, yet the media refuses to report on it and mere parrots talking points not based in reality.  The result is serious harm to the future of America.  Here are column highlights:

The Republican birther brigade really is one of the most astonishing political stories in recent years. What’s truly bewildering and newsworthy is that the birther ranks are apparently expanding and likely number in the millions nationwide. The fact that Republican frontrunner Donald Trump personally vouched for the baseless, anti-Obama conspiracy theory has only elevated its significance.

So why does the press continue to largely turn a blind eye to the telling spectacle? . . . The media’s birther blind spot is part of the larger press failure to grasp, and accurately detail, the truly radical nature of the Republican Party under President Obama.

For instance, since June 1, the New York Times has published approximately 180 articles or columns that included the word “Trump” five or more times, according to Nexis. But just a handful of those have made any mention of Trump’s previous birth certificate folly. The same goes for USA Today and the Los Angeles Times . . . 

[T]he press has never come to terms with the Republican Party’s deep birther roots, and therefore hasn’t come to terms with the radical revolution unfolding on the far right. This campaign season seems like an obvious time to do so. “We need to reckon even more urgently with what can now be called the ‘Trumpists,'” Harvard professor Danielle Allen recently noted, highlighting their birther streak.

[T]hat’s been the press’ telltale failure in covering conservatives and Republicans in recent years: Facts often don’t matter to them. They occupy their own tribal space and digest the same misinformation that simply feeds their often-paranoid views of Obama and Democrats.

As Mother Jones’ David Corn recently noted, “Many Republicans clearly see the president as a foreign-born secret Muslim with a clandestine plan to weaken, if not ruin, the United States–remember the death panels–and they have a dark, nearly apocalyptic view of Obama’s America.”

So why the Beltway press’ reluctance to drill down deep into this troubling phenomenon? What’s behind the Beltway-wide decision to pretend there isn’t something seismic and disturbing going on within the Republican electorate?

Has the modern political press ever had to deal with such a large portion of the partisan electorate that’s actively allergic to facts the way birthers are? Probably not.

But I also don’t think the current path of routinely downplaying the birther phenomenon and its extraordinary pull within the Republican Party is the right way to handle the story. By too often turning a blind eye to the birther juices fueling Trump’s ascension, the press overlooks a defining trait in conservative politics today.
Media laziness allowed America to be duped into the Iraq War disaster.  Media laziness is allowing extremism in the GOP to grow.   It bodes ill for the nation's future. 

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee Whore Themselves to Kim Davis Followers

Money grubbing whores
If one wants to the degradation that has overcome the Republican Party, look no farther than Mike Huckabee - a snake oil peddling pastor who wants to put the Bible over the Constitution - and foreign born Ted Cruz.  Yesterday at a rally for four times married Kim Davis, there were few limits to how low either man would stoop to pander to the ugliest and most ignorant elements of the GOP base.  It was a frightening spectacle to behold in terms of the ignorance and bigotry that defined the crowd.  Perhaps the only humors part was when a Huckabee staffer blocked Cruz from sharing the stage with Huckabee who did everything but wear a sign that proclaimed that he is lower than a tawdry whore.   A piece in Salon looks at the spectacle and the goal of Huckabee and Cruz, each of whom are desperate to capture the knuckle dragging, Bible beating GOP primary voters.  Or are they?  Is it instead all about money and staying in demand on the wingnut speaking circuit?  Here are column excerpts: 
The best part of Kim Davis’s release from jail on Tuesday was how, well, campy it all seemed.
The entrance to “Eye of the Tiger.” The almost comical ecstasy of Davis’s skyward pose. In another light, it might have been a “Flashdance” outtake.

Is Mike Huckabee a “Flashdance” fan? Somehow it doesn’t seem to jibe with his whole deal. But there he was, right next to Davis, holding her hand, grooving on the rapturous reception. And why not? Huckabee had worked hard to get to that prime position. Had it not been for a crafty aide, he might have had to share the stage with Ted Cruz, his rival for the Republican presidential nomination. Luckily, the aide physically blocked Cruz from reaching Davis in time to join the fun.

[T]he cause that Kim Davis is fighting for is a doomed one. Her deputies have pledged to defy her if she continues to insist that they refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Nearly every single demographic group is becoming more comfortable with gay marriage, including young evangelicals. In their desperation to claim a piece of Davis’s fleeting celebrity, Huckabee and Cruz looked like nothing so much as the Japanese soldiers who refused to surrender after World War II had ended.

[B]oth of them are dyed-in-the-wool Christian conservative homophobes who don’t believe in equal rights for LGBT people. Fair enough. But Huckabee and Cruz are supposedly running for president as well, which means that they’re ostensibly trying to appeal to a somewhat broader section of the electorate than the dwindling numbers who are cheering on Kim Davis.

Here’s the thing, though: Neither man is actually running for president—not seriously, anyway.

Huckabee has long since stopped trying to become president; we’re talking about a man who declined to run in 2012 so that he could keep hosting a weekend show on Fox News. He’s the perfect symbol of the way in which the Republican primary has come to resemble a giant sack with a dollar sign painted on it. It doesn’t matter to Huckabee if he loses; what matters is that he keeps his name in the conversation so that he can maintain his extracurricular business activities. . . . There’s more money to be made pandering to the edges of the evangelical fringe.

Cruz actually has a day job, so he’s not as thirsty for cash. But he’s still targeting the same fanatical followers as Huckabee. Since he first stepped on the national stage, Cruz has made a career out of cheerfully destroying the Republican party from within. His fellow GOP senators loathe him to no end, but he’s already decided that they’re a constituency he doesn’t need to worry about. The run for the presidency is just his way of cementing his place at the top of the far-right food chain.

Luckily, none of this will matter too much in the long run. The Japanese soldiers eventually had to concede that they’d lost the war, and Huckabee, Cruz and even Kim Davis herself face the exact same fate.

A cynical analysis?  Perhaps.  But I suspect it is 100% on target.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

GOP Is Using Black Lives Matter to Scare Whites Into Voting for Them

Sadly, among the base of today's Republican Party, black lives do not matter.  For that matter, neither do LGBT lives or the lives of those who are non-white and/or non-right wing Christian.  Yet, in typical form, the GOP presidential candidates are trying to whip up fear about crime and drive white voters - who they desperately need in higher and higher percentages - to vote Republican.  In many cities, police forces are out of control in terms of the unnecessary level of violence they use.  And sadly, blacks are often the targets of this excessive force.  By whipping up fear over crime, the GOP seeks to change the topic and push votes its way.  It's obscene, but then again, so is today's GOP.  Here are highlights from a piece in Slate:
Almost everyone has something to demagogue in the 2016 Republican primary. For Donald Trump, it’s Latino immigration, and Mexican migrants in particular. For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, it’s the nuclear deal with Iran; for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, it’s the Kim Davis affair in Kentucky, where a county official was jailed for refusing to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples; and for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, it’s crime.

That may seem like a strange choice, given broad trends. National rates of violent crime are down to their lowest levels in a generation, with steep drops in gun homicide among all groups. And while violence is still a problem for isolated, low-income black Americans, the overall portrait is good: Twenty years after the crime waves of the 1990s, American cities and metropolitan areas are as safe as they’ve ever been.

Long-term trends can obscure short-term variations, however, and there’s contested evidence that we’re in the middle of a violent crime spike, sparked by a so-called Ferguson effect where less aggressive policing—fueled by “Black Lives Matter” protests—encourages criminals.
[H]umans are built to see patterns in unrelated events, and the crime increase—plus a rash of high-profile shootings aimed at police officers—has brought new partisan attacks on Black Lives Matter, even while 2015 stands as an unusually safe year for police officers, so far. “In the last six years under President Obama, we’ve seen a rise in anti-police rhetoric,” wrote Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in an op-ed last week, citing “demonstrations and chants where people describe police as ‘pigs’ and call for them to be ‘fried like bacon.’ ” Walker was referring to a small group of protesters in Minnesota who by all accounts are unrepresentative of the larger movement.

A struggling Christie—who, along with Huckabee and Cruz, lags far behind in the polls—has picked up on this, and run with it. On Tuesday, during an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, the New Jersey governor slammed Democrats on crime. “It’s the liberal policies in this city that have led to the lawlessness that’s been encouraged by the president of the United States,” he said. “And I’m telling you, people in this country are getting more and more fed up.”

With crime and killings in the news, Democrats may be vulnerable to claims of indifference or even encouragement, given their support for Blacks Live Matter. Indeed, this violence threatens the whole project for criminal justice reform.

By blaming Obama and Black Lives Matter for an increase in crime or new attacks on police officers, they’re working to conjure the fear and uncertainty of the ’80s and ’90s—when violent crime was at an all-time high—and capitalize on them. And it’s worth noting the extent to which these appeals come at the same time that Republicans need to increase their share of the white vote to win a national majority. It’s no accident, . . . 

The Arab Gulf States - Missing in Action in the Refugee Crisis

While Saudi Arabia, not Iran, is the number one financier of Islamic terrorism and foments unrest as it pushes its extremist version of Islam, it has been missing in action when it comes to aiding the refugees fleeing chaos it has had a hand in creating.  The same goes for other wealthy Gulf States.  In relative terms they have done nothing, leaving European nations and poor Muslim states to do the heavy lifting.  A piece in The Atlantic looks at the abject failure of these nations, most of which are in theory allies to America even as in many ways they support our enemies.  Here are excerpts:

[F]ew in the media or diplomatic circles have asked the more important question: Where have the rich Arab countries been over the last few years, as the Syrian civil war has raged and millions of refugees have fled to neighboring countries? The only Arab countries to have accepted Syrian refugees are Jordan and Lebanon, two weak economies with very limited means. To be sure, rich Arab countries have sent some aid to refugees in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon, but no major plan has even been offered that would appear to be aimed at making a serious difference.

Consider the financial means at the disposal of five energy-rich Arab countries: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain. Their combined GDP is about $2 trillion a year, and their combined population is under 55 million people. That translates into a per capita annual income in the poorest member of this group, Bahrain, of more than $21,000 and a per capita gross national income in the richest, Qatar, of $90,000.

Arab countries could have offered well-financed safe havens on the vast stretches of land they control, or they could have offered major financial incentives to other countries to host the refugees.

But, arguably, expectations ought to have been low to begin with. For a Syrian, Iraqi, Lebanese, or citizen of any other average Arab country, it is next to impossible to get even a temporary visa from some of these rich Arab countries, the same or worse for a work permit. Still, many people are prepared to criticize Western countries for not readily offering safe haven to Middle Eastern refugees.

While many NGOs and large numbers of Westerners have urged their governments to act to help or accept the refugees, public responses have been more muted among rich Arab states. There have been no reported demonstrations to pressure those governments to accept refugees or find other, fundamental solutions.

They have also appeared concerned about possible political instability if Arabs from other countries arrive and swamp their relatively small populations. While Indian or Pakistani guest workers will always remain foreigners because of their linguistic differences with Arabs, Arab migrants speak the same language and can communicate and influence local populations, especially in volatile societies like Saudi Arabia.

Even recognizing all these concerns, though, it remains puzzling why five countries with a combined national income of $2 trillion have not offered credible assistance to solve the current refugee crisis. After all, they have all more or less been involved—directly or indirectly—in the Syrian civil war by virtue of having either encouraged or armed various groups.

Western nations need to accelerate the use of alternate fuels so that in time - the sooner the better - these nations that are as hypocritical as American Christofascists can slide back into backwaters with little economic power over the rest of us. 

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

More Tuesday Male Beauty

House GOP Faces Shutdown Crisis

With Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz racing to Kentucky to complete their self-prostitution to the Christofascist element of the GOP base, House Republicans face a crisis: will they shutdown the federal government in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood or will they reject the demands of the spittle flecked rants of the Christofascists?  With only 26% of respondents supporting the lawless behavior of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, a government shutdown could prove disastrous for the GOP in 2016.  The Hill looks at the crisis that faces the GOP leadership.  Here are highlights: 
House Republicans will huddle in a pivotal closed-door meeting Wednesday morning as they face mounting pressure to defund Planned Parenthood — including threats to shut down the government.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who’s seeking the GOP presidential nomination, will headline a rally with several pro-life groups outside the Capitol on Thursday, calling on Congress to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood in the spending bill that must be passed by Oct. 1 to avert a shutdown.

 Conservative outside group Heritage Action for America says at least 28 House Republicans have signed or plan to sign a letter demanding that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his leadership team block Planned Parenthood funding. The group is urging leaders to hold a special conference meeting to discuss “atrocities” carried out by the nonprofit healthcare group.If that many House Republicans stick to those demands, Boehner would have no wiggle room to pass a stopgap government spending bill.

Boehner, who’s in his third term as Speaker, is in a particularly precarious position this month. He’s had a target on his back all year — Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) rolled out a symbolic resolution right before the August recess to boot Boehner from his leadership post.

And there’s concern among some Boehner loyalists that conservative foes will force a vote to oust him this fall if he cuts a deal with President Obama and Democrats to fund the government without addressing the fetal tissue controversy.

But those in Boehner’s inner circle say he would prevail if such a vote were called.

Boehner and his Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), are in no mood to reprise the shutdown of 2013. They believe another headline-grabbing crisis would severely damage the party at a time when they’re trying to show that Republicans can govern and take back the White House.

None of the bills would be likely to pass the Senate, however, where rules allow the minority to filibuster legislation. And Republicans fear they’d be blamed if a shutdown resulted from the impasse.

House Democratic leaders on Tuesday called on House Republicans to hold bipartisan negotiations over 2016 spending. And the White House raised pressure on congressional negotiators, reiterating that Obama would not agree to any legislation that keeps sequester spending levels.

GOP aides said Tuesday it’s unlikely that language for the CR would be released this week. Before the August recess, Boehner said that Congress would likely need to pass a CR by the Oct. 1 deadline in order to buy more time for larger budget and spending negotiations.

The House will be in session for only 12 days this month before funding for the government runs out.

"Wrong Then, Wrong Now" - White House Video Rips Cheney

There are few American politicians who reach the threshold of being truly evil.  Most simply put self-advancement over the interests of their constituents and others.  However, Dick Cheney, in my opinion, meets the criteria to be deemed truly evil.  He advocated lying to the American public to take the nation to war in Iraq, he convinced his idiot superior, George W. Bush, to authorize the use of torture in violation of the Geneva Conventions, and now he wants to take America to war against Iran.  The man is both evil and delusional.  Thousands of wasted American lives in Iraq and trillions of wasted dollars wasn't enough for Cheney.  Thankfully, in advance of Cheney's lying and disinformation speech against the Iran nuclear agreement, the White House has gone on the offensive against one of the foulest individuals in American history.  Talking Points Memo looks at the White House attack.  Here are highlights:
It begins with a Fox News host asking Cheney last week why anyone who believes Cheney was wrong on Iraq should listen to him about the Iran deal.

"Because I was right about Iraq," Cheney said.

It then segues into the abundant news clips from the run-up to Iraq War in which Cheney offers scores of claims first urging then defending military action -- from touting the presence of weapons of mass destruction to predicting that Iraqis would great American troops "as liberators."
No one benefited from the Iraq War except perhaps Halliburton.  Oh, and did I mention that Cheney has lots of Halliburton stock?  I guess he wants to make another fortune off the squandered lives of our military personnel and wasted taxpayer dollars.  The man is a war criminal and needs to be tried as such.  Would the death penalty be too much?  Not in my opinion.

United Airlines Chief Resigns Over Corruption Investigation

During the early stages of the saga of my Norfolk friends who had their luggage sabotaged by United/Continental Airlines personnel, I had occasion to write a letter to Jeff Smisek, the CEO of United/Continental Airlines.  To say that the response I received from Mr. Smisek's minions was haughty and, in my opinion, full of BS, would be an understatement.  Well, Karma can really be a bitch.  Today, Smisek resigned in the fallout from a corruption investigation surrounding the New York Port Authority Chris Christie BridgeGate scandal.  The New York Times looks at Smisek's resignation and the growing corruption scandal.  Here are excepts:

United Airlines said on Tuesday that its chief executive, Jeff Smisek, and two other senior officials had stepped down amid a federal corruption investigation.

The airline is under investigation by the United States attorney in New Jersey over whether it had improperly sought to influence senior officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“The departures announced today are in connection with the company’s previously disclosed internal investigation related to the federal investigation associated with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey,” the company said in a statement. “The investigations are ongoing and the company continues to cooperate with the government.”

United’s executive vice president for communications and government affairs, Nene Foxhall, and the senior vice president for corporate and government affairs, Mark R. Anderson, also resigned, the company said.

In February, federal prosecutors issued subpoenas focused on whether the former chairman of the Port Authority, David Samson, had pushed United to reinstate flights that he used to travel to and from his weekend home in South Carolina.

Ms. Foxhall and Mr. Anderson were among the United officials whose communications with the Port Authority had been subpoenaed.

The resignations also complicate the fortunes of Mr. Christie as he tries to resurrect his once-promising presidential bid, by underscoring the accusations of cronyism that have dogged his administration since the bridge scandal broke in early 2014. The governor has distanced himself from other figures implicated in the scandal, saying that they deceived him. But Mr. Samson, despite his resignation, has remained one of the governor’s closest advisers.
 Good riddance!!!

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty

Kim Davis is no Rosa Parks

As far right extremist and Christian Dominionists (e.g., Mike Huckabee) continue to engage in spittle flecked rants and even have gone so far as to compare four times married Kim Davis, the jailed Rowan County Clerk, to Rosa Parks.  Such batshitery is too much even for conservative columnist Michael Gerson who takes these extremists to task in a column in the Washington Post.  Here are column excerpts:
Rosa Parks is an American hero, but her case was not an accident. Other African Americans had shown similar defiance (ask Claudette Colvin, who refused to give up her seat nine months before Parks). Civil rights leaders had spent years looking for a favorable case to challenge the segregation of Montgomery buses. Parks’s trip on Bus 2857 was not premeditated, but it was opportune. She was already an activist — known, respected and impressive. Elevating her case was one of the best and most strategic things that the civil rights movement ever did. 

Kim Davis — the Kentucky clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — has been compared by some conservatives to Parks. Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, with typical understatement, has described her case as “the criminalization of Christianity in this country.” He compares Davis to Lincoln because “he disregarded [the] Dred Scott 1857 decision that said black people weren’t fully human.” 

Bluntly put: Whatever their intentions, these people are doing great harm to the cause of religious liberty and to the reputation of their faith. Davis’s defiance is the wrong test case for the protection of religious freedom.  

[T]here is no serious case to be made for the right of public officials to break laws they don’t agree with, even for religious reasons. This is, in essence, seizing power from our system of laws and courts. The proper manner to change the law, in this instance, is to work for the election of a president who will appoint Supreme Court justices with a different view and for the election of senators who will confirm such justices. Or to propose and pass a constitutional amendment. Davis may be impatient with this system, but it is the one we have. Personally assuming the role in Rowan County, Ky., of a Supreme Court majority is not an option.   The available alternatives are to implement the law (as public servants across red America have overwhelmingly done) or to resign in protest. . . . 

Huckabee will need to look elsewhere than Lincoln for inspiration on this issue. This is from Lincoln’s speech on the Dred Scott decision: 
"We think its decisions on constitutional questions, when fully settled, should control, not only the particular cases decided, but the general policy of the country, subject to be disturbed only by amendments of the Constitution as provided in that instrument itself. More than this would be revolution. But we think the Dred Scott decision is erroneous. We know the court that made it, has often overruled its own decisions, and we shall do what we can to have it to overrule this.” 
Whatever your view of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s ruling on marriage, granting a wedding license is not in the same category as participating in a legal system that supported chattel slavery. It is, rather, participation in a legal system supporting liberal notions of individual rights. Davis believes that one of those rights is misapplied and misused. That is not the moral or legal equivalent of turning over Dred Scott to the slave catchers.  

But it is worth remembering: Legal arguments are not won by elevating bad cases. And public arguments are not won with unhinged historical hyperbole. 

Donald Trump is Brilliant Revenge on the GOP

For years the Republican agenda has been to use feigned religiosity, racism, anti-gay bigotry and anti-immigrant animus to dupe large sections of the population to vote against their own best economic interests.  Over time, the current lunacy of the GOP base was built on this agenda that ultimately sought to protect the rich while trashing labor unions and other policies that protected the little man from corporate and Wall Street greed.  Now, that GOP base is perhaps finally beginning to wake up to the fact that it has been played for fools.  Despite his reliance of racism and anti-immigrant fervor, Donald Trump has made comments that the GOP establishment deems to be heresy, including a call for the rich to pay more in taxes.  Some, as laid out in a piece in Salon, believe that perhaps the GOP is headed toward a major realignment such as which happened in the 1890's and first part of the 20th century.  Here are column excerpts:
Why is Donald Trump so popular? He has captured the moment when voters recognize that Republican political rhetoric has nothing in common with reality. Trump brings rhetoric and reality together in a cartoon caricature of a Republican politician that anyone can understand. That gives him a vital role in history. He is the perfect exorcist to drive a stake through the heart of the modern Republican Party. But he is not the first in history to perform this operation. The same crisis hit the party in the 1890s.

When it was over, the nation had a reformed Republican Party, and a new historical era.

Today’s Republican Party is enslaved to Movement Conservatism, and Trump trumpets the rhetoric of that movement in crude sound bites. Since the 1950s, Movement Conservatives have been determined to roll back the business regulations of the New Deal. But those protections are popular. So to undermine them, Movement Conservatives hammer home the idea that legislation protecting workers, people of color, or women is socialism, a con that sucks money out of the pockets of hard-working whites and siphons it into the pockets of grasping workers, shiftless blacks, or slutty women.

Movement Conservatism was a fringe force from the 1950s until the 1980s, when voters elected Movement Conservative Ronald Reagan to the White House.

In 1986, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, a former economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, created an army of evangelical voters to boost the numbers behind Movement Conservatism. He promised born-again voters pro-life and pro-Christian activism so long as they lined up behind big business economic policies.

Trump presents a crude version of these Movement Conservative themes.  . . . It is a simple idea: that “takers” want a handout. Similarly, while observers have expressed surprised that the thrice-married, non-churchgoing Trump attracts more support from evangelical voters than, say, the aggressively religious Mike Huckabee, that support reflects a Movement Conservative pattern established a generation ago.

But Trump’s danger to the Republican Party is not simply that he rips the veneer off the racism, sexism, and religious hypocrisy of Movement Conservatism . . . . Trump also articulates the anger of a generation of voters who see that they have been taken for a ride. Movement Conservatives promised voters who were falling behind in the modern world that if they voted Republican, tax cuts and a smaller government would create a roaring economy and they would prosper.

In fact, the opposite was true. Since 1980, tax cuts have not actually lowered taxes; they have moved them from the wealthy onto poorer Americans. The deregulation of the economy has indeed redistributed wealth—upward.

Donald Trump doesn’t simply echo the racism and sexism of the last several decades, he calls—in his loose, vague way—for a fairer tax code and for tariffs to protect American workers. Even more important to his supporters, he is outside politics as usual. He is outside a system that has been bought and paid for by businessmen.

By the 1870s, big-business Republicans leveraged white fears of immigrants and hatred for black Americans to retain control of the government. Democrats who advocated laws that would regulate business were socialists, Republicans insisted. They were intent on redistributing wealth from hardworking white men to lazy immigrants and African Americans. On the Republicans’ watch, the late nineteenth century became the era of the “robber barons,” when monopolies and trusts ran the government with the sole intent of protecting big business. Under Republican policies, wealth moved upward, creating an era historians later dubbed the Gilded Age.

By 1890, the protests against Republican government had spread beyond the Democrats and into an upstart movement of farmers’ “Alliances.” Its leaders warned that “Wall Street owns the country…. It is no longer a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, but a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street, and for Wall Street.” In that year, as Republicans passed even stronger pro-business legislation with the promise that it would, this time, bring back prosperity, voters gave the Democrats a two-to-one majority in the House.

The Populists organized the following year. . . . . Rather than apply accusations of redistribution only to the poor, Populists turned it against the rich. Wealthy men, they warned, had brought the nation to “the verge of moral, political, and material ruin.” . . . . Crucially, the Populists were not Democrats: They condemned both parties. Party leaders on both sides, their platform announced, were willing “to destroy the multitude in order to secure corruption funds from the millionaires.”

The political see-sawing showed that a new era was at hand. Younger Republicans recognized that their party could no longer embrace an ideology that served the wealthy alone. Moreover, they recognized that catering to the super rich was changing the nature of the nation, threatening to turn it from a democracy to an oligarchy. The leader of this Republican reformation was a young upstart named Theodore Roosevelt, and he, and his Progressive Republicans, ushered in the Progressive Era.

The present era is so similar to the late nineteenth century that it has been dubbed the second Gilded Age. In the 1890s, the Populists pointed out that the Republican emperors of their time, the first Gilded Age, had no clothes. Today the unsavory Donald Trump and his supporters are doing the same thing.

Monday, September 07, 2015

More Monday Male Beauty

A Lifeline For Older Men Coming Out

When I began my coming out journey, I spent literally years in therapy.  First, I had to shed the religious brainwashing, shame and guilt inculcated into me by my Catholic upbringing.  After that bridge had been crossed, my nest stage was to figure out how to live a fulfilling life as a gay man.  My therapist were a life line for me and they pushed and forced me to find inner strength and to let go of so much old baggage.  Despite this help, there was a lack of books and other resources aimed at those coming out in mid-life.  In fact, my last therapist said repeatedly that I should write a book for those coming out later in life.  He said a friend of his was writing a blog as a method to accumulate material for his upcoming book.  He suggested that I should do the same.  Thus, Michael-in-Norfolk- Coming Out in Mid-Life was born.  Eight years later, I still have not written the book, but I have tied to share my trials and tribulations along the way as I have made my journey.  I remain more than happy to communicate with those seeking advice or shared experiences via e-mail and/or telephone calls. A piece in Huffington Post looks at a new book that tries to help fill the void I found in terms of resources.  Here are review highlights:

When my therapist, Adam asked me who I could talk to about coming out, I pointed at him. "Of course," he said "But, what I meant, was a friend or a family member." I looked up as if the answer might have been written on the ceiling. Not finding it there, I looked down at my shoes, shifted uncomfortably in my chair and then said "No one." At forty-three years of age, nobody really knew who I was. I was alone.

I was a father, a husband, a son, a brother and an IT Director. I had friends, but none of them close. When you're in the closet, you worry that every word, glance or gesture might give your secret away. How could I have developed an authentic relationship?

The closet seems like a vestige from a darker time. Many young LGBT people never experienced the repression, but there is an older generation of men who closed the door decades ago and now find themselves transported through time, tentatively stepping out into a terrifying, exciting and puzzling world. They often feel alone.

If you are coming out late, you are not alone.  Fashionably Late: Gay, Bi, and Trans Men Who Came Out Later in Life is a collection of stories that sheds light on a large and largely overlooked segment of the LGBT+ community. The anthology offers affirmation to older men coming out of the closet. I am honored to have an essay included.

I had the opportunity to speak with Vinnie Kinsella, the publisher and editor from Eldredge Books, who created this anthology. 

Q: What prompted you to create this book?  KINSELLA: The biggest prompt for me was the surprising growth of the meetup group I started for men who came out later in life: . . . I expected maybe twelve men in my city would ever join. When we exceeded a hundred members in just a few months, I was floored. I had no idea there were that many men in my city who identified as coming out later in life.

Q: How do you think this book will help LGBT men?  KINSELLA: My hope is that the book will be a strong tool for combating shame. What I hear from a lot of men coming out is a lot of shame for what they didn't do. Shame for not being honest with friends and family about their sexuality of gender identity. Shame for letting fear keep them from living an authentic life. I think this book combats shame by sending the message of, "Don't beat yourself up for coming out a bit later than the norm. Celebrate the fact that you came out at all!"

Q: Is there a void in the market for this type of book or these stories?   KINSELLA: Yes. When I looked for books that could help me early on in my coming out, I found that most of the resources for coming out are youth-focused. I think the belief is that coming out as an adult is rare, but that's simply not true. The culture is so different today from what it was thirty or forty years ago. For Baby Boomers and older Gen Xers, the support system for youth coming out wasn't like it is today, so many men from that era stayed in the closet. . . . That's the void this book fills. It's not a how-to guide. It's more like an "It's Gets Better" campaign for men.

Q: Do you expect this book to help the families of LGBT men? KINSELLA: Indirectly, yes. It will offer insight into what goes on in the mind of a man coming out, which can helpful for spouses, kids, grandkids, and others who have lots of questions about what might have prompted their relative to come out.

As Kinsella notes, there are LOTS of us who have come out or who are in the process of coming out later in life.   We all need to help and support one another.

Fox News Panel: Mat Staver, Kim Davis’ Lawyer is "Ridiculously Stupid"

Given the manner in which Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel has brought endless frivolous cases and urged his "clients" to ignore the law and legitimate court rulings, I continue to be amazed how he has avoided disbarment.  Perhaps it's merely another case of the undeserved deference given to religion and those who demand special rights under the cloak of religious belief.  That said, you know Staver's stock even among wingnuts is tanking when a panel of Fox News experts conclude that Staver and his arguments on behalf of four times married Kim Davis, the now jailed Rowan County Clerk, is "ridiculously stupid." It is rare for me to agree with Fox News, but in this case, the Fox News analysis is 100% on target.  Here are highlights via The Raw Story:
A panel of legal experts on Fox News came to the conclusion on Monday that Kim Davis’ attorney, Mat Staver, was “ridiculously stupid” for asserting that the Supreme Court did not have constitutional authority to strike down same-sex marriage bans. 

On Monday’s edition of Happening Now, trial attorney Chip Merlin pointed out that anyone who violates a judge’s order should “expect to be thrown in jail.”

“She can still practice her faith,” Fox News host Gregg Jarrett noted. “Just not on the job in a way that interferes with the legal rights of the citizens she serves. And in fact, the U.S. Supreme Court said so nine years ago.”

“She’s a hypocrite,” criminal defense attorney Sharon Liko agreed. “She’s applying for the job of a martyr. She wants to practice her faith by not issuing marriage licenses. Yet, she will not agree to let the deputy county clerks issue marriage licenses even if it’s okay with their faith.”

“When she took the job she swore to uphold the law,” Jarrett explained. “We rely on government officials to do that. They can’t just pick and choose what laws they like, which ones they don’t. If they were allowed to do that, wouldn’t that lead to chaos, anarchy and so forth?”

“Whether the Supreme Court has constitutional authority?” the Fox News host said. “Article III Section 2 of the Constitution gives the Supreme Court constitutional authority to decide constitutional issues!” 

Jarrett added that Staver’s statement appeared to be “stunningly obtuse.”  “That’s a very polite way of putting it,” Liko replied. “I would say it’s just a ridiculously stupid statement.

This woman has a choice, she can either follow the law — she can do her job — or she can get out.”

It is far past time that Staver was disbarred and his parasitic con artist vehicle be put out of business.  His is an embarrassment to the legal community. 

Monday Morning Male Beauty

New 'Crusader' Assault Rifle Engraved With A Cross And Bible Verse

If one needs any more proof of how insane and dangerous some on the far right are to the rest of society, look no further than a new "Crusader" assault rifle being marketed to the evangelical crowd that comes engraved with a cross and Bible verse.  With he professional Christian crowd whipping up the hysteria of the ignorant and pushing the Christian persecution meme, one can only wonder how long it will be until guns like this are used against "the enemy."  The New Civil Rights Movement looks at this latest frightening batshitery.  Here are highlights:
Florida gunmaker, Spike’s Tactical in Apopka, Florida, introduced a new assault rifle this week that is every evangelical NRA member's wet dream. The $1,395 AR-15 is engraved with with a Bible verse:
"Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle."
On the other side of the weapon is a Christian cross and the word "Crusader," the name of the rifle.

Ben Thomas, a former Navy SEAL and spokesman for Spike's, said the bible verse is meant to insure no Muslim will ever use that weapon.
“When you make a rifle, you have to understand that it could be used for ill deeds if it got in the wrong hands,” Thomas warned.
Mr. Thomas said the Crusader, which went on sale this week, was not meant to be racist. He fended off the question with the demur:
"We didn't say no Muslims."
 These people constitute a clear and present danger!