Saturday, December 05, 2015

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Godly "Christians" Continue to Use Lies and False Research Against Gays

Christofascists continue to lie about gay parenting

As America ponders how and why a young Muslim couple could have been motivated to go on a shooting rampage, godly Christians continue to use false "research" and "science" to try to justify their ongoing religious based jihad against LGBT citizens. Poisonous, twisted religious belief in both case justify violence and deliberate lies and denigration of others.  Both apparent reactions against modernity and religious tolerance.  Both stemming from "holy books" that laud murder and mayhem and genocide.  In addition to a massive gun confiscation program, perhaps we need copies of the Bible and Koran to be collected and burned.  Both books are the source of much hate and evil.  But back to the Christofascist lie campaign against gays.  Despite the fact that EVERY legitimate medical and mental health association in America have concluded that gay parenting is just as healthy and supportive of child rearing as heterosexual parenting, the Christofascist persist in claims that gay parents are bad for children.  A column in the Los Angeles Times looks at the knowingly false campaign of deliberate lies.  Here are excerpts:
Now that the Supreme Court has found a constitutional right to marry for same-sex couples, it seems logical that the parallel national debate over same-sex parenting might also be over. After all, the two issues were proxies for each other. Social conservatives had argued that marriage equality would increase the number of motherless or fatherless households, a climate they argued was bad for kids. Once gay and lesbian couples could marry — strengthening their parental ties — their opponents would seem to have less room to challenge their right to be parents.

Yet the battle continues. In Utah last month, a judge ordered a baby girl removed from her foster home because the couple parenting her were lesbians. (He later rescinded the order and passed the case to another judge.) In Kansas, conservative state senators are pushing a bill to pay straight — but not gay — couples to be foster parents. In Texas and Alabama, state authorities are refusing to allow or recognize some adoptions by gays and lesbians. And in Nebraska and Mississippi, advocates were forced to mount court challenges to undo laws restricting the ability of same-sex couples to adopt or foster.

One of the primary justifications invoked for limiting gay parental rights is “science.” . . . . But a closer look shows that what is being cited as “science” in these situations is anything but. In fact, flawed scholarship is being used as a smokescreen to create the illusion of legitimate debate where none exists.

We have identified 77 studies that address the well-being of children with gay or lesbian parents. Seventy-three of them find that such children face no disadvantages from having gay or lesbian parents. The studies used a wide range of methodologies, many relying on small sampling pools but some on nationally representative data. The aggregate result is an overwhelming scholarly consensus that having a gay parent causes no harm, one reason that every major professional organization that deals with child welfare opposes discriminating against LGBT families.

As to the outlier studies, all share the same fatal flaw. At most a handful of the children who were studied were actually raised by same-sex parents; . . . . So in the end, the outlier studies don't tell us anything about same-sex parenting; they just tell us what's long been known: Family stress and disruption are bad for kids, while stable ties are good for them.

In 2014, the outlier research was presented in court in defense of Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage. Federal Judge Bernard A. Friedman wasn't buying it. He singled out Mark Regnerus, a sociologist from the University of Texas and one of the outlier researchers, for a scalding rebuke. Evidence had been presented that Regnerus' research was not only underwritten by a group opposed to same-sex marriage, but that close collaboration between funder and researcher had undercut its scholarly independence: “The funder clearly wanted a
specific result and Regnerus obliged,” wrote Friedman
in overturning the Michigan ban . . . .

[T]he authors of the outlier studies are substituting ideological beliefs for scientific accuracy . . . 

When a judge in Utah or legislators in Kansas ignore solid scholarship and cite flawed research instead, it's nothing but a rear-guard attack, a quest to block or roll back LGBT progress. For some conservatives, the end of the debate just creates more reason to fight, even if it means weakening ties between parents and their children. 

No More Thoughts and Prayers

In my view, two things made the mass shootings in Colorado Springs and San Bernadino possible: (i) religious based hatred and (ii) the ease with which military style weapons can be secured by individuals.   The latter could be addressed with some ease if American politicians had a spine like was done in Australia when over 650,000 weapons were confiscated after a gunman with a semi-automatic rifle killed 35 people and wounded another 28 Instead of meaning action like this, we get blather about "thoughts and prayers" from politicians who make tawdry whores look virtuous. Making this worse is that most of these politicians claim to be "pro-life" when in fact they support a culture of death and gun violence.  The second causation is more difficult to address because most Americans refuse to acknowledge that the Bible, just like the Koran, can be used to justify almost any kind of violence and evil.  Both books promote evil and the public needs to open their eyes and face this truth.  A column in the New York Times looks at the hypocrisy of bloviating politicians - most Republicans - and the evil influence of religion.  Here are highlights:  
We never had enough time to rationalize, in the uniquely American way, why that middle-aged white man killed a cop, a mother of two and an Iraq war veteran in Colorado Springs, when the latest slaughter of human life intruded. He was — what, pro-life? Screaming something about “baby parts” while he unloaded in a Planned Parenthood clinic?
In Colorado Springs, the man arrested in the killings, Robert L. Dear Jr., fit a profile. Here was another bearded introvert who lived at the edge of modernity, his head stuffed full of hate and half-truths. “He claims to be a Christian and is extremely evangelistic,” his ex-wife wrote in a court document. “He is obsessed with the world coming to an end.” And of course, he had a semiautomatic rifle to go with his delusions.
How did this malcontent become a domestic terrorist? We’ll never know for sure if his withdrawal — to a shack in the South, then a trailer in Colorado — led him further down the path to savagery. But we do know that isolation can breed ignorance. And when people with abhorrent views are not challenged, their hatred only hardens.

But what about San Bernardino? A young man and his wife drop off their 6-month-old baby at Grandma’s, and then go mow down a room full of people at a workplace holiday luncheon. . . .
On the surface, the homicidal couple were living the American dream. One, the son of immigrants, with a degree from a California state college, the other, his bride from overseas. Had a good job. But this suburban couple was making pipe bombs and assembling an arsenal to murder people in the country that took them both in, educated one of them, provided him with a good job. The surface life was a mirage.

When we heard the identity of the homicidal couple, Syed Rizwan Farook, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, another explanation immediately came to mind. They’re Muslim. Too much of the most deadly, inexplicable violence in the world today is committed in the name of this religion, and its strain of radical Islam. The shooters are people like Farook, kneeling at prayer in the back of the mosque, kindly and devout. Oh, we never suspected a thing, the imam says. The explanation is tiresome, and increasingly implausible.

We all know the ritual by now. Politicians of one cowardly type will say their “thoughts and prayers” are with you. What garbage. Better to say nothing at all.

And politicians of another cowardly type will refuse to see that hundreds, maybe thousands of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims find justification for mass murder of innocent people in their holy book.

“Your ‘thoughts’ should be about steps to take to stop this carnage,” tweeted Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. “Your ‘prayers’ should be for forgiveness if you do nothing — again.”

[W]e’ll hope that it doesn’t happen again tomorrow. But it will happen tomorrow — on average, one multiple-victim shooting a day. Every day. It will make sense in the only country where mass killings make sense.

Christian Extremists Blame Gays and Abortion for California Mass Shooting

As seems to be thew norm nowadays when something terrible occurs, the "godly folk" and the parasitic professional Christian crowd - who need to whip the sheeple into a frenzy to keep the money coming in - blame gays and abortion as the real causation.  A case in point is Christian extremist Alex McFarland who says God allowed the San Bernadino shooting to occur because of abortion and the "mainstreaming of sodomy."  Under McFarland's fairy tale beliefs, e.g., that there is a mythical god such as he describes, one act of possibly religious based terror is the result of America's failure to subscribe to yet another form of extremist religious belief that would murder or at least denigrate millions of people.  McFarland concludes his hate fest by saying Barack Obama is a secret Muslim.  In my view, the real solution is to remove ALL religion form society and the world.  Right Wing Watch looks at the batshitery. Here are highlights:

Right-wing Christian apologist Alex McFarland was on Dove TV's "Focus Today" program yesterday to discuss the terrorist shooting in San Bernardino, California, earlier this week, which he blamed on abortion and gay marriage.

"People are saying, 'Why didn't God prevent this?'" McFarland stated, "Look, we've for 45 years told God to leave us alone. Fifty-seven to sixty million babies aborted, now our Supreme Court has deviated from natural law to case law and we've redefined marriage ... God forgive us for the murder of the unborn, God forgive us for kicking prayer out of public schools, God forgive us for making sodomy mainstream and redefining marriage."

"The greatest sin of all is abortion in our nation," he continued, "and the judgment of God only escalate until we turn to the Lord."

Later, McFarland declared that President Obama supposedly refuses to fight radical Islam because he is secretly a Muslim.

"In my heart, I'm going to be honest with you, I suspect he is a Muslim," McFarland said. "I really do."

No doubt "turning to the Lord" includes giving money to charlatans like McFarland.  The real evil in the world is religion which has hate and division as it principal fruits.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Friday Morning Male Beauty

The Hypocrisy of Anti-Muslim Rhetoric

Statistically, the vast majority of mass shootings and acts of terrorism in America are committed by white, male Christians.  This inconvenient reality is ignored time and time again by those on the right who always describe the shooters as "lone wolves" and reject any suggestion that terrorist acts by Christians and gun loving, knuckle dragging whites is a problem.  The shootings at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood center by Robert Lewis Dear, reportedly an end times Christian, and the right's reaction are an example.  Yet, after the shootings in San Bernadino, the right is in a frenzy depicting all Muslims as would be terrorists.  A column in the Washington Post lloooks at the hypocrisy and double standard at play.  Here are highlights:
The most recent act of horrific violence in the United States — in San Bernardino, Calif. — was reportedly perpetrated by a Muslim man and woman. There are about 3 million Muslims in the United States, almost all of whom are law-abiding citizens. How should they react to the actions of the couple who killed 14 people on Wednesday? 

The most commonly heard response is that Muslims must immediately and loudly condemn these acts of barbarity. But Dalia Mogahed, a Muslim American leader, argues eloquently that this is unfair. She made her case to NBC’s Chuck Todd.
“According to the FBI, the majority of domestic terrorist attacks are actually committed by white, male Christians. . . . When those things occur, we don’t suspect other people who share their faith and ethnicity of condoning them. We assume that these things outrage them just as much as they do anyone else. And we have to afford that same assumption of innocence to Muslims.” 
Muslims face a double standard, but I understand why. Muslim terrorists don’t just happen to be Muslim. They claim to be motivated by religion, cite religious justifications for their actions and tell their fellow Muslims to follow in their bloody path. . . . .it is important for the majority of Muslims who profoundly disagree with jihad to speak up.

But it is also important to remember that there are 1.6 billion Muslims on the planet. If you took the total number of deaths from terrorism last year — about 30,000 — and assumed that 50 people were involved in planning each one (a vastly exaggerated estimate), it would still add up to less than 0.1 percent of the world’s Muslims. 

While I believe that Muslims do bear a responsibility to speak up, non-Muslims also have a responsibility not to make assumptions about them based on such a small minority. Individuals should be judged as individuals and not placed under suspicion for some “group characteristic.” It is dehumanizing and un-American to do otherwise.

What is most bizarre is to hear this anti-Muslim rhetoric described as brave truth-telling. Trump insists that he will not be silenced on this issue. Chris Christie says that he will not follow a “politically correct” national security policy. They are simply feeding a prejudice. The reality is that Muslims are today the most despised minority in America. Their faith is constantly criticized, and they face insults, discrimination and a dramatic rise in acts of violence against them, as Max Fisher of Vox has detailed superbly. And the leading Republican candidate has flirted with the idea of registering Muslims, a form of collective punishment that has not been seen since the internment of Japanese Americans in the 1940s. 

This is the first time that I can recall watching politicians pander to mobs — and then congratulate themselves for their political courage.

If the right wants to apply this standard to Muslims, lets apply it to right wing Christians as well.  Let's assume they all support attacks on Planned Parenthood facilities - I suspect many, in fact do - the murder of abortion providers, and the murder of gays.  And let's start demanding that other Christians repeatedly and loudly condemn them.  And if they fail to do so, then let's start treating them all as would be terrorists too.

The Victims of GOP Insanity on Guns

GOP victims - click image to enlarge

In the wake of two high profile mass shootings - actually, one now happens every day somewhere in America - and a mass shooting in Savannah on the same day as the massacre in San Bernadino, Republicans have rebuffed any measures to change America's gun laws.  So beholden is the GOP to the NRA and gun crazies in the party base that even a proposal to restrict gun sales to those on terror watch lists went down in flames. Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malikmay have pulled the triggers at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, but they had accomplices in the GOP who likewise have blood on their hands.  The photos of above are those who Republican intransigence against any form of sane gun control helped to murder.   A piece in Politico looks at the Republican refusal to do anything to stop the carnage.  Here are highlights:
Never mind that massacres in Connecticut, Colorado, South Carolina, and now, California have forced uncomfortable questions about the widespread availability of weapons in the United States. And forget the fact that the 14 dead in San Bernardino, California, drowned out an otherwise successful week for the GOP, in which Speaker Paul Ryan laid out his vision for the future of the party, after helping guide two major bills across the finish line.

The reality is quite plain on Capitol Hill: There's still no appetite among Republicans for new gun laws. 

They say there are enough laws on the books as it is. Many believe increasing background checks is akin to trampling on the Constitution and that there are better ways to combat gun violence. And few Republicans are worried about the political risk of alienating a younger generation of voters that is growing up with a backdrop of almost weekly mass shootings.

A seemingly endless wave of violence has not scrambled the politics when it comes to more stringent gun laws. 

Democrats and Republicans are still living in alternate universes, a divide driven by culture and geography. The GOP is a mostly Southern and Western party, and its House districts are overwhelmingly rural. Democrats are increasingly concentrated in big cities.

On Thursday, the Senate rejected a pair of gun measures, one from each party. A proposal from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would have barred people on the terrorism watch list from buying guns failed with just 45 votes.

Some Republicans — such as New York Rep. Pete King — have suggested strengthening the background check system for gun purchases, and they have been rebuffed. 

In the wake of the California massacre, some are advocating for a law that would prevent people on the no-fly list from getting a weapon. It’s unclear that even that bill will get a vote.

"I don't think we have a gun problem in this country," said Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee. "I think we have a problem with radical Islamic terrorism. And every indication of this latest incident, it's exactly that.”

Note that for the GOP it is preferable to fan the myth of a war between Christianity and Islam that plays well with the GOP's lunatic base than it is to say no to the NRA and gun nuts.  Yet another reason I am no longer a Republican and have no plan to return to the party.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

More Thursday Male Beauty

Facebook friend Christopher Dubecky-Fawcett

A Deserved Take Down of Antonia Scalia's Frightening Tyranny of the Majority

Judge Posner and Nutcase Scalia
I began reading  legal decisions and appellate court opinions some 41 years ago as I began law school.  Since that time I have read many Supreme Court decisions which over the arch of history have pushed for more equality and less discrimination.  There have been stellar justices and there have been atrocious justices.  Antonin Scalia increasingly is headed toward falling into the latter category.  Perhaps most troubling is Scalia's contempt for the rights of minorities and he desire to impose his own ignorance embracing religious beliefs on all of society.  In a thoughtful op-ed in the New York Times Richard A. Posner, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and Eric J. Segall, a law professor at Georgia State University, slam Scalia's frightening views and the damage he seeks to do on the United States Supreme Court. Here are excerpts:

THE Supreme Court has decided four major cases furthering gay rights. Justice Antonin Scalia has written a bitter dissent from each.
In Lawrence v. Texas, for example, where the court invalidated Texas’ ban on homosexual relations between consenting adults, Justice Scalia complained that: “Today’s opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.”

He added: “Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.
[He]predicted in his dissent that the court would eventually rule that the Constitution protects the right to same-sex marriage. This June, Justice Scalia’s prediction came true in Obergefell v. Hodges. He has vented even more than his usual anger over this decision. It has become apparent that his colleagues’ gay rights decisions have driven him to an extreme position concerning the role of the Supreme Court.

In a recent speech to law students at Georgetown, he argued that there is no principled basis for distinguishing child molesters from homosexuals, since both are minorities . . . 

Not content with throwing minorities under the bus, Justice Scalia has declared that Obergefell marks the end of democracy in the United States, stating in his dissent that “a system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.”

The logic of his position is that the Supreme Court should get out of the business of enforcing the Constitution altogether, for enforcing it overrides legislation, which is the product of elected officials, and hence of democracy.
[H]e said in his Obergefell dissent that “to allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.”

Obergefell seems to obsess him. . . . . The decision, he said, “had nothing to do with the law.”
The suggestion that the Constitution cannot override the religious beliefs of many American citizens is radical. It would imply, contrary to the provision that forbids religious tests for public office, that religious majorities are special wards of the Constitution. Justice Scalia seems to want to turn the Constitution upside down when it comes to government and religion; his political ideal verges on majoritarian theocracy. . . . . The  implication is that if a majority of Americans reject same-sex marriage on religious grounds, the Supreme Court must bow.

It comes as no surprise that Justice Scalia also said that state and local officials who are not actual parties to Supreme Court cases have no obligation to obey judicial rulings that those officials think lack a warrant in the text or original understanding of the Constitution.

[F]ew Americans will agree with Justice Scalia that Obergefell, which conferred rights on millions of Americans, is comparable to Dred Scott, which denied rights to millions by ruling that slaves were not citizens and could not sue in federal courts.
I have argued for some time now that Scalia needs to either resign from the Court or be removed.  Frankly, I increasing believe he suffers from mental illness or severe psychological issues.  Sadly, Posner would make a far better justice on the Court than Scalia has ever been even in his less crazy early years. 

Pope Francis' Huge Failure in Africa

The Roman Catholic Church is rapidly headed towards a future where it will become a largely African based church with rapidly declining support from wealthy developed nations in the West.   The main driver for this is the Church's refusal to update its views on sexual morals and understanding from those solidified in the 12th century (by "church fathers" who be viewed as mentally disturbed by modern standards) and to reject the anti-gay agenda of Christian missionaries of a century or more ago.  Pope Francis seems in many ways to grasp this reality, yet on his just finished visit to Africa he failed to challenge the forces of ignorance and the vestiges of colonial rule.  An op-ed in the New York Times castigates Francis for his failure.  Here are highlights:
Pope Francis, now safely back in Rome, missed a major opportunity on his trip to Africa. His pleas for peace and reconciliation between the continent’s Christians and Muslims were well-received, by both faiths. His castigation of the indifference of the rich, as he stood amid a cardboard slum, was apt. He was widely applauded when he warned of catastrophe if this week’s Paris climate negotiations do not succeed. But when it came to the way gay people are treated on a continent in which homosexuality is illegal in many countries, he offered only a deafening silence.

His defenders will say that gay rights are a Western obsession and that it would have been counterproductive for Francis to raise the matter on such a brief visit to a continent which is hostile to the pope’s desire to make the Roman Catholic Church more welcoming to people who are gay, or divorced or cohabiting without being married. But that is wrong. How gays are treated is fundamental to the future of the universal church — and Pope Francis knows it.

Francis may be the first pope from the global South, but this trip to Africa was a steep learning curve. This was his first trip to a continent of which he knows little — though he is well aware that Africa will be one of the new powerhouses of Catholicism. Church-going may be declining in the old world, but the number of Catholics in Africa has grown by 238 percent since 1980.

Yet that figure underlines the importance of confronting Africa with its prejudice against gay people. At the recent synod on the family in Rome the issue of how the Catholic Church treats its gay members was kept off the agenda, thanks to an alliance between culture-warrior bishops from the United States, conservatives from Eastern Europe and a newly powerful block of African bishops who constituted a fifth of the synod fathers.

But the issue is a double impediment for Francis — and one which he should have begun publicly to address. It is a massive human rights injustice because homophobia is endemic in Africa; most countries there, including the three he visited, have laws against homosexuality. In Uganda a measure signed into law last year by its president compelled citizens to report suspected homosexual activity to the police. Increased levels of violence against the gay community ensued.

For Francis such attitudes are an additional problem inside the Catholic Church, where they are a brake on the changes the pope wants to bring to the unruly institution he governs. It is a deeply entrenched problem when African leaders like Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, a man whom Francis has promoted, turn around and declare that “Western homosexual and abortion ideologies, and Islamic fanaticism” are to the 21st century what the twin “beasts” of Nazi and Communist ideology were to the 20th century.

The pope ought to have, at the very least, set down a marker that such bigotry has no place within the church. Instead he has let this vociferous minority paint him into a corner. . . . many of them will take his support for marriage, in his address in Uganda, as implicit support for their anti-gay stance. 

Africa is set to become an increasing force within Catholicism. Pope Francis missed the chance to underscore the breadth of the message of love, mercy and inclusion it needs to embrace to become an accepted member of the universal church.