Saturday, March 26, 2016

More Saturday Male Beauty

The Growing Backlash Against North Carolina’s Anti-LGBT Law

Apparent mental midget NC Gov. Pat McCory
Driving back from Richmond, I listened to among other things an interview with the director of Equality North Carolina who expressed the view that North Carolina Republicans seemingly thought that, if they rammed the state's new anti-LGBT law through in a single day, then they could avoid the backlash that Georgia is experiencing as that state's Governor tries to decide whether to veto the Georgia bill.  Whatever the North Carolina GOP cretins may have thought, they are quickly finding that escaping a severe backlash was a fantasy on their part.  Major corporations, pro-sports leagues and many others are raising an outcry and their may be very real economic consequences - especially if the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals finds that anti-transgender action violates Title IX and North Carolina loses $4.5 billion in federal education funding.   A piece in Think Progress looks at the growing backlash.  Here are highlights:
North Carolina’s legislation, which was passed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor in just one day, is targeted at undoing an LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance recently passed in Charlotte by banning any local nondiscrimination laws. But it also goes much further, banning transgender people from using bathrooms that match their gender unless they change their birth certificates, preventing civil suits even when discrimination is documented, and prohibiting cities and counties from passing employment requirements — a higher minimum wage or paid sick days, for instance — that go beyond state law.
While San Francisco is the first governmental entity to take a stand against the law, a huge number of businesses have already spoken out. A number of technology companies — including IBM, which has a big presence in the state; PayPal, which just announced the opening of a new office there; Apple; Facebook; Google; and Salesforce — have all spoken out against the law. 
In the sports world, the NBA, which is set to host the All-Star Game in Charlotte next year, has spoken out against the law and put the location of that event into question. The NCAA, which is planing to hold the men’s basketball tournament in the state in 2017 and 2018, says it’s monitoring the situation, as is the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the oldest African-American sports conference, which holds its annual basketball tournament in the state every year. Meanwhile, ESPN had been considering Charlotte for a possible site for the X Games in the summer but has now said it embraces “diversity and inclusion and will evaluate all of our options.” 
Others have joined in as well. American Airlines, whose second-largest hub is in Charlotte, said, “Laws that allow such discrimination go against our fundamental belief of equality and are bad for the economies of the states in which they are enacted.” Lowe’s, based in Mooresville, said it “opposes any measure in any state that would encourage or allow discrimination.” Dow Chemical, which has several factories in the state, tweeted that it is “disappointed” in the signing of the law, and Biogen, a biotech company that employs more than 1,000 people in the state, also tweeted its opposition.

Virginia Equality Bar Association 2016 Spring Symposium

Yours truly with Jim Obergefell
Posting was minimal today since I attended the Virginia Equality Bar Association 2016 Spring Symposium in Richmond at the offices of mega firm, Williams Mullen.  It was a great and informative event that included continuing legal education ("CLE") credits and the chance to meet Jim Obergefell (pictured with me above), lead plaintiff in Obergefell v. Hodges, the equality marriage case before the Supreme Court that brought marriage equality nationwide, and Paul Smith counsel before the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas which struck down the remaining sodomy statues, including Virginia's animus motivated statute. 

While Virginia still has no anti-discrimination statutes that protect LGBT Virginians, the positive news covered on the employment discrimination front is that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") has now ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act covers BOTH transgender and gay and lesbian employees and that recourse can be sought through the EEOC which can open the doorway for civil litigation against anti-LGBT employers.  I suspect that many Virginia employers do not realize that they are playing with fire when they discriminate against, allow the harassment of, or fire and LGBT employee. While a lengthy process, a few cases against the right employers could prompt a sea change in the mindset of anti-gay bigots who either own or are in the management of businesses.

Over lunch, there was a panel discussion of the issue of LGBT rights and the myth of Christian persecution that lies behind the push for "religious freedom" laws that are in reality nothing more than attempts to grant a special license to discriminate to right wing Christofascists.  Other than the roughly 3 hours in the car to Richmond and back, it was a 100% enjoyable event.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Human Rights Campaign Is Helping the GOP to Retain the Senate

I have been critical of the Human Rights Campaign in the past and most recently by the organization's insane endorsement of GOP senator Mark Kirk over LGBT supportive Democrat Tammy Duckworth.  I think for many, this last action is the final straw and HRC - which likes to describe itself as the larges LGBT rights organization - is perhaps poised to see a massive exodus of folks.  I am asking them to cease counting me as a member (like the Catholic Church, until one formally says "remove me from the membership rolls" HRC will continue to count one as a member to swell the numbers).  One of the best take downs of HRC is a piece by Michelangelo Signorile in Huffington Post.  Here are excerpts:

In the past 24 hours, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT group, has come under intense fire on social media, including from many transgender people, for its lack of a strategy in combating the rapid passage of a heinous anti-LGBT law in North Carolina which strips existing LGBT anti-discrimination ordinances in the state and bars transgender people from using public restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

But that criticism has followed an even more intense, week-long pummeling of the group on social media as well as from pundits and commentators, because of the group’s very curious endorsement earlier this month of Senator Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican whose defeat in November is critical to the Democrats winning back control of the Senate.

Kirk, in a very tough re-election, has come out in support of The Equality Act, a sweeping federal anti-discrimination bill protecting LGBT people, and had voted to end “don’t ask, don’t tell.” But Kirk has only earned a score of 78 percent out of 100 percent from HRC, while his opponent, Democratic House member Tammy Duckworth, has a score of 100 — in addition to a real shot at taking the seat and handing Democrats the Senate. David Nir, political director at Daily Kos, called the endorsement as “appalling as it is embarrassing,” and “pathetic and stupid.”

At The New Republic, Eric Sasson rightly pointed to HRC’s “serious diversity problem” per an internal report that leaked, and to the optics of backing a white male Republican with a meager score over a woman of color and a combat veteran who lost both of her legs in the Iraq war — and who has a perfect score. Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed had obtained the internal report last year, which called HRC “exclusionary,” “sexist,” and “homogenous.” This endorsement certainly lent more credence to that.

It’s hard to fathom that anyone who supports full equality believes these meager attempts are really worth keeping the Senate in the hands of the GOP. It’s not the ‘90s, when individual senators had more clout and we could pass legislation with simple majorities. Mitch McConnell changed the way the Senate operated — and he’ll be the beneficiary if Kirk wins. HRC, often in that ‘90s time warp, has worked against the best interests of the LGBT community as recently as 2014, when the group was still supporting the narrow Employment Non-Discrimination Act, with its terrible religious exemption, while every other national LGBT group — except the Log Cabin Republicans — had joined the 21st century and pulled support.

The simple truth is that in 2016 in Illinois we don’t need Mark Kirk — he needs us.  . . . . And the first vote he’ll take upon winning back his seat will be a cowardly one to make the anti-gay McConnell (with an HRC score of 0) the Senate Majority Leader again.

There’s no question that the Democrats’ path to taking back the Senate very much includes defeating Kirk, who is in the bluest state among those where GOP senators are embattled. So HRC’s action does raise questions about how committed the group really is to seeing the Democrats take back the Senate, and if it perhaps has conflicting interests.  Daily Kos’s David Nir surmised that HRC’s Kirk endorsement is all about keeping “donations flowing from corporations and wealthy gay Republicans,” and he may be on to something.

[I]t’s no secret that GOP leaders have focused on putting all of their efforts on retaining the Senate. Surely Paul Singer will be critical in that effort, bringing hard and steady pressure to bear wherever it is necessary. It’s not a surprise, then, that the American Unity Fund, which Singer founded, has been tweeting and retweeting support of HRC for its endorsement of Mark Kirk, in what seems like an attempt to counter the many LGBT people who are expressing their anger and to whom HRC believes it is not answerable.

If HRC is not answerable to LGBT people, however — and its president, Griffin, rarely even gives interviews to LGBT media, while speaking often in the larger media — exactly to whom and what is it answerable, and what are its true priorities? One thing is clear: HRC doesn’t speak for the LGBT community, and the sooner that politicians and those in the media grasp that, the smarter they will be.

Personally, I believe that all that HRC cares about is money - money needed to retain the plush salaries of those like Chad Griffin, a Judas to the LGBT community.  Stop making donations to HRC and demand that you not be counted as a member.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Donald Trump and the Politics of Fear

Donald Trump supporters - in addition to being noted for their low educational levels in many cases - are defined by their fear: fear of blacks, fear of immigrants, fear of modernity and fear of the erosion of their perceived white privilege.  Sadly, Trump, a reality TV/carnival barker, seems to know how to use these fears and ignorance to whip up the allegiance of those who resent others and see a threat under every bush - and behind every non-white face.  A column in the New York Times looks at Trump's cynical use of fear mongering that has parallel's with Hitler's use of fear of internal and external enemies to get his followers to ignore the growing fascist takeover that was underway.  Here are column excerpts:

Among the volley of lies spit out of the coarse mouth of Donald Trump on a daily basis is his claim that he’s leading Hillary Clinton in the general election matchup for president. “I beat Hillary in many of the polls that have been taken, and each week I get better and better,” he said earlier this month.

Nope, not even close. The Bloomberg Poll that came out on Wednesday had Clinton besting Trump, 54 percent to 36. The Wall Street Journal survey had Clinton up by 13. She leads by 10 in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. And she’s up 11.4 percent in the RealClearPolitics average of all the polls. With each passing week he actually does much worse.

So, rest assured, yes? At the least, our country won’t be in the undersize hands of a crazed narcissist. I wish. What keeps millions of people up at night is the one-trick pony that Trump could ride all the way into the White House: fear. If enough Americans cower in hysteria, Trump might be able to pull this thing off. Without a filter of decency or a shred of diplomacy, Trump gloated about how the latest mass murder by the Islamic State barbarians helped him. . . . . [He] said the fear cast by Islamic State terror “is probably why I’m No. 1 in the polls.” 

Let’s pause to behold a rare Trump acknowledgment of a bit of truthiness: The more people who are murdered by the savages from the Islamic State, the better it is for him. The Islamic State is a gift to Trump. And he is a gift to them, playing into the grand scheme of the killers. He would make the world far less safe, and bring the Islamic State closer to the global clash of worlds that those monsters desire. Paris — the slaughter of 130 people in November. 

In Trump’s telling, it was a wonderful turning point for him. “Paris happened, and Paris was a disaster,” he said. “And what happened with me is this whole run took on a whole new meaning.” From there, he lumped Paris, the Mexican border and the Syrian refugee crisis in one big rancid stew of fear. He ran dark and spooky television ads, including some in Arizona last week, showing Islamic terrorists, a picture of the Moroccan border that was supposed to be Mexico, and his promise to build the wall. In the wake of Brussels, he again said the United States should “close up our borders to people until we figure out what’s going on” and ramp up the torture of terror suspects. 

It gets tedious reminding people that Trump’s ideas on how to stop terror have nothing to do with the problem, but let’s give it another go. The Paris killers are not — repeat, not — Syrian refugees. Nor are they from Mexico. They are Belgian and French citizens, criminals and thugs, radicalized in the festering tenements of Brussels. The biggest wall in the world cannot prevent hatred from taking over a malleable mind, aided by Internet poison. 

As for torture, numerous military experts have concluded that it yields little useful information, and of course violates international conventions signed by the United States. 

[T] he Republican front-runner exposed himself, again, as someone who is monumentally ill prepared to be commander in chief. He listens only to himself, as he said this month, and what his gut tells him is that his only path to the White House is to do everything he can to make people feel very afraid.

National Enquirer Claims To Have A Scoop On Ted Cruz Sex Scandal

Just when you thought the circus that is the Republican Party presidential primary could not get any more bizarre and ugly, the National Inquiry is about to drop a story about Ted Cruz's supposed mistresses.  Some think the story a little bit too convenient and smell the sent of Donald Trump mischief.  Personally, I don't know why anyone of either gender would want to have sexual contact with Cruz - he is repulsive!  The thought of him naked makes me want to vomit.  That said, it should be noted that it is ALWAYS the "family values" Republicans who wear their religiosity on their sleeves and condemn gays that are the ones caught having affairs themselves.  Crooks and Liars looks at the National Inquirer story.  Here are highlights:

The National Enquirer is dropping a big story which claims to have dirt on Ted Cruz and his alleged extramarital affairs with women, some of who are colleagues and others who are not.

According to the tabloid:

“Private detectives are digging into at least five affairs Ted Cruz supposedly had,” claimed a Washington insider.

“The leaked details are an attempt to destroy what’s left of his White House campaign!”

The ENQUIRER reports that Cruz’s claimed mistresses include a foxy political consultant and a high-placed D.C. attorney!

How conveeeeeeenient.

The pictures they weakly disguise are pretty easy to match up with people. The image above suggests that Katrina Pierson is one of his so-called mistresses, as well as others.

It feels to me like Trump dropped a whole lot of garbage over at the Enquirer to discredit Ted Cruz, and that sense is backed up even more by the fact that one of the lovely ladies is supposedly Donald Trump's spokeswoman. That's just a little too convenient.

Still, it certainly seems to have lit up the right wing blogosphere a bit, particularly those who reside in the Trump camp.

Here's the thing. As much as I discredit almost anything coming from the National Enquirer, they are occasionally right when they report this stuff. They were correct about John Edwards, for example.
It's hearsay at this point, but it leaves a nice pile of grist for the rumor mill.

And of course, everyone who goes to the supermarket and actually believes these rags will see that headline splashed across the checkout line while waiting to pay for their groceries.  That could make for an interesting back and forth between Trump and Cruz.

This is the kind of innuendo the right wing usually reserves for the left. Like the story Michael Savage amplified about Scalia being murdered in his bed, for example. Whether or not it's true, they'll just shrug and say, "It's out there!"

Thursday, March 24, 2016

More Thursday Male Beauty

Lindsey Graham Reprise: "My Party Is Completely Screwed Up"

In a Republican presidential candidate pool that looked for the most part like a group of escapees from an insane asylum, prior to his suspension of his campaign, Lindsey Graham, a/k/a the Palmetto Queen, much to my surprise actually came across as a reasonable candidate.  While Graham bears his share of the blame for the decline of the GOP into a fetid mass of lunatics suffering from swamp fever, he at least seems  willing to admit how off the rails the GOP has become.  Last night on The Daily Show again enunciated the sad state of the GOP.  Here are highlights from a piece in Huffington Post:

For Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the only thing worse than the prospect of Ted Cruz as president is the prospect of Donald Trump as president.

Graham begrudgingly expressed his support for Cruz in an interview with Trevor Noah on Wednesday night, telling “The Daily Show” host that the Texas senator was his “15th choice” to win the GOP nomination.

Graham ultimately concluded that Cruz should be the nominee because “he’s not Trump.”
And that’s where things got interesting.

“If Donald Trump carries the banner of my party,” Graham said, “I think it taints conservatism for generations to come. I think his campaign is opportunistic, race-baiting, religious bigotry, xenophobia. Other than that, he’d be a good nominee.”

Noah played a short video clip from late January in which Graham, who was himself a candidate earlier in the presidential race, was asked if he preferred a Cruz nomination or a Trump nomination.

“That’s... like [asking if I’d rather be] shot or poisoned,” Graham responded in the video, “What does it really matter?”

Asked by Noah which candidate is doing the shooting and which is the poison, Graham answered, “Donald is like being shot in the head. You might find an antidote to poisoning, I don’t know, but maybe there’s time.”

I’m saying my party is completely screwed up for the moment,” he added.

North Carolina’s Anti-LGBT Law Is Based on a Total Lie

North Carolina's heinous anti-LGBT Law passed by the GOP controlled legislature and signed into law by the Republican governor is prompting sharp reactions across the blogosphere and gay rights groups are gearing up to file a federal lawsuit to have the law struck down since it does exactly what the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in Romer v. Evans.  Meanwhile, in Georgia the Republican governor is under growing pressure to veto that state's foul "religious freedom" law by Hollywood and the movie industry with the clear implication being that Georgia could lose 1.7 billion dollars in movie industry revenue if the governor signs the bill into law.  The ultimate irony, however, is that both laws are based on lies - a fact that should surprise no one who follows the Christofascists who lie more often and more deliberately than just about about any segment of the populace.  A piece in The Daily Beast looks at the lie behind North Carolina's heinous law.  Here are highlights:

North Carolina just wrote, passed, and signed into law the most anti-LGBT measure of the past decade—and it was all based on a lie.

The state has undone not just local ordinances protecting transgender people, but all LGBT nondiscrimination provisions across the state. Literally overnight, people in Charlotte and across North Carolina can now be fired from their jobs for being gay, turned away at hotel chains for being gay, and even forced to show their genitals to a police officer if the cop thinks they might be transgender.

And unlike in Georgia, where a constellation of businesses has arrayed to oppose an anti-LGBT bill, bigots in North Carolina don’t even need religion as an excuse.

Instead, they’ve used a lie about anti-discrimation ordinances: that they will cause girls to use the boys room and vice versa. Legislators who, in an act that surely must be considered child abuse, even got a high school student to testify that “Girls like me should never be forced to undress or shower in the presence of boys.”

That is completely, 100 percent untrue. The ordinance that ignited this debate, passed by Charlotte on Feb. 22, only prevents businesses from discriminating against gay people. That does include enabling transgender people to use gender-appropriate restrooms, but only if they are really transgender. Nor would gender-appropriate restrooms lead to sexual assault: in fact there is not one case in 17 states and 225 other cities with such ordinances of rapists using their legal cover to attack women.

Yet the North Carolina legislature went far, far beyond overturning that ordinance. Part I of the law does, indeed, require all bathrooms to be restricted by “biological sex” as defined on one’s birth certificate, but Parts II and III have nothing to do with that, and instead roll back any local ordinances protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people from discrimination in employment and public accommodations. It is sheer opportunism, piggybacking an unrelated anti-gay law atop a misinformed anti-trans one.

Now that the Big Bathroom Lie has worked twice—the first time was in Houston—the question all right-thinking people must ask themselves is: Do the people telling the lie even believe themselves?

“If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.” So wrote Adolf Hitler (not Goebbels, as often thought), in his chapter on “War Propaganda” in Mein Kampf.  That seems to be the case here. Some people clearly are dupes . . .

Some of the law’s supporters may also be so transphobic that they still call Caitlyn Jenner “Bruce” and think she belongs in the men’s room. These may be the worst of all, because unlike the fictive “bathroom menace,” there are very real statistics about violence suffered by transgender people, especially transgender women. Some of these women testified to the legislature, to no avail.

But mostly, the backers of this bill are liars. They are cynically creating and exploiting public fears to score points with their base, raise money, and win victories against LGBT people in areas of employment and public accommodations—victories they know they couldn’t get if they attacked the issue honestly.

Surely, by now, the national groups behind this legislation—the [hate groups] Family Research Council, Alliance Defending Freedom, American Family Association—are fully aware that they are lying. They know that there is not a single case on record of a man taking advantage of a nondiscrimination bill, dressing up as a woman, being allowed into a women’s restroom, and sexually assaulting someone. They also know that ordinances like Charlotte’s would not eliminate single-sex restrooms and locker rooms.

So, these purported men of God are liars.

The Saudi Origins of the Terror Attacks in Brussels

Republican demagogues and the right wing pundit class are foaming at the mouth over the ISIS terror attacks in Brussels and going to great lengths to blame the attacks and/or the rise of ISIS on Barack Obama and by extension, Hillary Clinton.  Few of their vitriolic tirades, however, focus on the true ultimate root cause of the attacks not only in Brussels and Paris - and San Bernadino: Saudi Arabia. Similarly, not a single GOP presidential candidate has spoken out about the Saudi funding of Islamic fundamentalism worldwide.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the Saudi origins of the death and terror being wrought by ISIS and its co-conspirators and murderers.  If one wants to truly strike at the heart of Islamic extremism, the first place to strike is against Saudi Arabia and the Saudi royal family which turns a blind eye to the funding of extremism and then issues mealy mouthed statements of sadness and/or condemnation when the seeds that they have sown result in terror attacks and death.  American needs to have a blunt conversation with the Saudi royals and make it clear that either Saudi funding of extremism ceases immediately or else Saudi Arabia will be categorized as an enemy state and a sponsor of terrorism.  Here are excerpts:

A lot of ink has already been spilled on the complexity of the jihadist networks operating in Belgium, as well as the social factors — discrimination and alienation — luring some Belgian youths toward groups such as the Islamic State. It’s also worth considering, though, an older history.

Analysts point to the inroads made in Belgium by the more conservative, orthodox brand of Islam espoused by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is the consequence of actual policy. In 1978, the Saudi-backed Great Mosque of Brussels opened its doors; the elegant building and land where it sat had been a gift by Belgium’s then-king to his Saudi counterpart a decade prior.

It became the seat of Islamic activity in Belgium. A 2007 leaked U.S. diplomatic cable, published by the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks, detailed how the Saudi Embassy in Brussels has continued to provide Korans to myriad mosques in the country and help pay for the upkeep of the structures. Saudi Arabia also invested in training the imams who would preach to a growing Muslim diaspora in European countries, including in Belgium.

Observers say the Salafist dogma of the Saudi-funded clerics active in many mosques in Belgium stood in contrast to the traditional beliefs of the mostly working-class Moroccan and Turkish immigrants who first arrived in the country in the 1960s and 1970s.

“The Moroccan community comes from mountainous regions and rift valleys, not the desert. They come from the Maliki school of Islam, and are a lot more tolerant and open than the Muslims from other regions like Saudi Arabia,” George Dallemagne, a Belgian politician, told the Independent last year. “However, many of them were re-Islamified by the Salafist clerics and teachers from the Great Mosque. Some Moroccans were even given scholarships to study in Medina, in Saudi Arabia.”

A separate WikiLeaks disclosure — this time of classified Saudi documents —found that in April 2012 the Belgian government quietly forced Saudi authorities to remove the main director of the Great Mosque, Khalid Alabri, a Saudi Embassy employee suspected of propagating the intolerant Sunni radicalism that is shared by the extremists of the Islamic State.

“Today, in Brussels, 95 percent of the courses offered on Islam for Muslims are operated by young preachers trained in Saudi Arabia,” Michael Privot, director of the Brussels-based European Network Against Racism, said in an interview with an Italian journalist. “There is a huge demand within Muslim communities to know about their religion, but most of the offer is filled by a very conservative Salafi type of Islam sponsored by Saudi Arabia.

[T]he wider legacy of Saudi policies has been increasingly noticed and criticized, particularly in Europe.

“Wahhabi mosques are financed all over the world by Saudi Arabia. In Germany, many dangerous Islamists come from these communities,” Sigmar Gabriel, a leading German politician, said in December. An unusually blunt memo, circulated around the same time, from Germany’s chief intelligence agency attacked the Saudis for the supposedly destabilizing role they play in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Quotes of the Day - Done with Republicans

UPDATED: For those inclined to boycott North Carolina and companies based in that state, in the wake of what happened yesterday, a list of North Carolina based companies can be found here.

As promised, Pat McCrory, the Republican governor of North Carolina, signed the Republican anti-LGBT bill last night that his fellow party members had rammed through a special session of the North Carolina legislature yesterday.  The result is that LGBT citizens of that state now have no non-discrimination protections in employment, housing or being served at businesses in the state.  All because of the desire of Republicans to prostitute themselves to Christofascists in the worse tradition of that state - and the South's - history of bigotry and discrimination.  Blogger friend Matthew Morrell Comer sums up the situation and the decision that decent people need to make:

Done with Republicans. Was once friendly with the moderates among you. No more. Take your Trump-led, homophobic, transphobic, anti-woman, anti-worker stances some place else. Your party of hatred and bigotry will be judged with the same distaste and disgust as every other form of bigotry in history. Especially to LGBT people who identify as Republicans: time to choose sides; your own people or those who hate us? Your choice. No more waffling. No more excuses. Change parties now; silence and complacency isn't an option.

A reader also provided this quote from Romer v. Evans which struck down a similar attack on LGBT citizens in Colorado in the 1990's:

Finding that "laws of the kind now before us raise the inevitable inference that the disadvantage imposed is born of animosity toward the class of persons affected," the Court inferred that the passage of Amendment 2 was born of a "bare...desire to harm a politically unpopular group".[2] The Court added: "[I]f the constitutional conception of 'equal protection of the laws' means anything, it must at the very least mean that a bare ... desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot constitute a legitimate governmental interest."

I truly long for the day when Christians are a minority in America and, if there is any justice, they find themselves treated as they have treated others.  Meanwhile, we have a family wedding scheduled in the Outer Banks.  If it is not relocated, I guess we will drive down for the day and return rather than spend the night in such a horrible state - thankfully, my car gets good enough mileage that we wouldn't even need to buy gas if we have to go. 

I hope LGBT travelers will adjust their travel plans so as to avoid flying through Charlotte and avoid the state entirely.  I also hope that a federal court challenge is commenced immediately. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Spineless Republicans Cower Before Trump

Perhaps it was my family upbringing where it was stressed that doing the right thing was more important that popularity or choosing the easy, non-confrontational course of action, but it is disgusting to watch as supposedly decent Republicans - admittedly a dying breed - keep their silence and refuse to confront the hate and misogyny embodied by Donald Trump and to a lesser extent, Ted Cruz.  Years ago, I resigned from the GOP when it became clear to me that the party's conflation of religion and the civil laws was nothing short of unconstitutional. I stated this specifically in my resignation from the City Committee for the Republican Party of Virginia Beach.  In perhaps her harshest attack on spineless Republicans, Kathleen Parker lays out the cost of gutlessness and maintaining silence.  Most tellingly, she applies the word "fascist" to what Trump and the GOP apologists are doing.  Here are highlights from her column in the Washington Post:

You know all the arguments pro and con by now. He [Trump] speaks plainly. So did Archie Bunker. His message of walled-in isolationism appeals to those tired of loose immigration policies. So was the case with Sen. Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, the nativist demagogue in Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 cautionary novel, “It Can’t Happen Here.

Windrip, like Trump, spoke of national greatness, though Windrip was more explicit, saying that Americans “must continue to be the greatest Race on the face of this old Earth.” Like Trump’s, Windrip’s base consisted largely of working-class white males, whom he called upon to help control dissent after he ascended to the Oval Office. Sound familiar? Punch anybody in the nose lately?

It’s called fascism by any other name and, yes, it does seem that it can happen here. That is, a demagogue can become president, as Lewis was trying to warn. And, yes, we do have checks and balances in this country, but does anyone really think that Trump should have the power to start a nuclear war? He’s mighty quick to rile.

No one is more familiar with the language of marginalization and authoritarianism than the Jewish community, causing one to wonder why Trump, whose rise has been spiced with bigotry and group-blaming rhetoric, was allowed in AIPAC’S door. The answer is that the nonpartisan organization traditionally invites all presidential candidates, among others, to speak to its annual policy conference.  Well, that’s an explanation, anyway.

The conundrum for Republicans is that though Trump may be the devil, he’s their devil. How can they condemn the guy that a near-majority of their own party prefers? If you’re, say, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), how do you say you won’t support your party’s nominee? Then again, if you’re a good man like Ryan, how do you support him?

That is the question of the moment, isn’t it? This is what we ask ourselves about the industrialists and “good Germans” who supported Hitler. This is what we ask our Southern grandparents about the time when blacks were being lynched. What we ask the World War II generation about rounding up Japanese Americans. And while we’re at it, what was your vote on Vietnam, Iraq? There’s a price to pay for silence.

That so few have shown the courage to deny Trump tells us how difficult it is to be brave — and how rare character is. But one can only pretend for so long not to hear the dog whistles of history, a skill at which Republicans have become too well practiced over the decades. Perhaps they’re no longer listening. Or they’re deluding themselves that Trump’s words don’t really mean what, you know, they mean.

“He won’t be that bad.”  No, he’s worse.

 [I]f you go back and look at Hitler, somehow you elect someone that you know is beyond the pale. But you do it because you’re afraid of someone else. And then later, you look closely. And it’s too late.”

The tiny flame at the end of this darkening tunnel is a contested convention, which depends on Ted Cruz and John Kasich starving Trump of the necessary 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination. It could happen . . . . if Kasich campaigns only in proportional delegate states, leaving winner-take-all states to Cruz, Trump’s chances of becoming the nominee are reduced from 90 percent to 50 percent,says Wang.  It’s a big gamble, but it beats losing your soul.

North Carolina Passes Sweepingly Bill Voiding All LGBT Nondiscrimination Ordinances

GOP House Speaker Tim Moore and GOP bill sponsor Rep. Dan Bishop 

Confirming fears I noted yesterday, the Republican controlled North Carolina legislature has passed a sweeping anti-LGBT bill that will rescind all LGBT non-discrimination ordinances across the state. Is suspect that tonight LGBT North Carolinians must feel like German Jews did in the early stages of Hitler's rise to power when the first anti-Jewish laws began to be promulgated.   Equally disgusting is GOP Governor Pat McCrory promise this evening that he will sign "immediately."  One can only hope that Virginia will immediately reach out to businesses appalled by North Carolina's lurch toward hate and bigotry and assure them that Virginia is business friendly and will not persecute their LGBT employees.   As for the Democrats in the North Carolina House, these foul individuals need to be subjected to primary challenges as soon as possible.  I for one will boycott North Carolina and avoid spending a single penny in North Carolina or with a North Carolina based business. Here are highlights on this animus based legislation from the Charlotte Observer:

The N.C. General Assembly on Wednesday approved a bill that invalidates Charlotte’s new legal protections for LGBT individuals, doing far more than striking down a controversial provision that allowed transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

The vote in the House was 84-25 after three hours of debate, with all Republicans voting for it and 11 Democrats breaking ranks with their party to support the bill.

In the Senate, the vote was 32-0 after the Democrats walked out in protest, saying they had not been allowed to participate in the process.

“We witnessed an affront to democracy,” said Democratic Sen. Dan Blue of Raleigh, the minority leader. “We will not be silent.”

Dana Fenton, the city of Charlotte’s lobbyist, said the bill would invalidate the city’s newly expanded nondiscrimination ordinance, passed in a 7-4 City Council vote in February. He said he believes the state’s largest employers will lobby the governor to veto it.

“I think you will see corporations, not just those in N.C., weighing in on this,” he said. “I think they will put pressure on the governor.”

But Raleigh station WRAL reported that McCrory would sign the bill into law late Wednesday.
The full bill wasn’t made public until Wednesday morning. Until then, it was unclear whether the legislators would target only the bathroom provision, or whether they would go further and strike down the rest of the ordinance.

The impetus of the special session was a provision in Charlotte’s expanded nondiscrimination ordinance that would allow transgender individuals to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender with which they identify.

But it also would keep Charlotte and any other municipality from adding new protections for gays, lesbians or transgender individuals.

In North Carolina today, there are no legal protections for gays and lesbians. That means a private business in Charlotte or anywhere else in the state can refuse to serve someone who is gay, and a bakery could refuse to make a cake for a wedding of a gay couple.

In Charlotte, that would have changed as of April 1, when the expanded ordinance is scheduled to go into effect. The protected classes recognized by the state would be race, color, national origin and biological sex.

The bill also prohibits K-12 public schools, and publicly funded universities and colleges from having multistall transgender bathrooms. Critics said that could jeopardize federal funding for education.  The only transgender people who would be exempt would be those who had the sex on their birth certificate legally changed.

One opponent of the bill told senators that the legislation would have unintended consequences. The speaker asked them to consider the case of someone born as a female, but who now identifies as a man, with a beard made possible through hormones. That person will be required to use a women’s bathroom.

Personally, I hope the U.S. Department of Education notifies all North Carolina school divisions that their federal funding will be withdrawn if they comply with this hate based legislation.  Meanwhile, I can't wait for a lawsuit challenging the bill which is unconstitutional under the United States Supreme Court holding in Romer v. Evans.  As for self-styled evangelical Christians, I have nothing for disgust for them and their decision to embrace ignorance and bigotry. I want nothing to do with them and I long for the day when they become the social pariahs that they deserve to be.  In their own way, they are no better than members of ISIS.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

HRC Stupidly Endorses a Republican Over a Pro-LGBTQ Democrat

Once again the Human Rights Campaign ("HRC") is demonstrating why I have ceased all contributions to the organization and stripped the HRC bumper sticker off my car. HRC has endorsed Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois for re-election over his challenger, Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth.  The apparent motivation was to reward Kirk for his co-sponsorship of the federal Equality Act, but demonstrates HRC amnesia about other things that Kirk has done to the LGBT community.  A column in Slate rightly takes HRC to task.  Here are highlights:

HRC recently committed an unforced error of astonishing ineptitude that necessitates a re-evaluation of the group’s core mission: It endorsed Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois for re-election over his challenger, Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth.

If you squint, you can see why HRC thought this endorsement was canny and logical. In announcing the endorsement, HRC President Chad Griffin praised Kirk for co-sponsoring the Equality Act, a federal LGBTQ rights bill which Kirk’s Republican colleagues are devoted to quashing.

Some liberals, including DailyKos’ David Nir, interpret this endorsement as a cynical ploy to draw in more Republican donors. That may be part of the calculus, but I lean toward taking HRC at its word. 

There may be room for such a strategy in the House of Representatives, and in state legislatures—and, in other years, in the Senate. It is a political fact that LGBTQ rights will be permanently stymied if Democrats are the party of equality and Republicans are the party of anti-gay animus. As a lobbying organization, HRC needs to maintain a broad bipartisan stance, and to generously reward Republicans who break from the party line. That’s how gay rights advocates won marriage equality in New York—by persuading a few key Republican state senators to defect with the promise of future financial support.

This tactic can obviously work, so we shouldn’t criticize HRC for attempting to play the long game with Kirk. Rather, we should criticize them for attempting to play the long game stupidly. Everyone knows that the Equality Act—and every other piece of pro-LGBTQ legislation—can only pass the Senate if Democrats control the chamber.

There is no possibility that Republican leadership will permit LGBTQ rights bills to come to a vote. The Senate map is quite favorable to Democrats in 2016, but their only path to victory involves picking off Republican senators in purple states—senators like Mark Kirk. In other words, HRC’s goal of rewarding pro-LGBTQ GOP senators runs directly counter to their broader goal of, you know, passing pro-LGBTQ legislation.

Endorsing Kirk might be more palatable if he were running against a conservative Democrat with a middling record on gay and trans rights. He is not. Duckworth, his Democratic opponent, has maintained perfect voting record on LGBTQ equality during her time in the House. In fact, HRC awarded her a 100 percent score on her equality report card. Kirk scored a 78.

It’s wonderful that Kirk supports equality, but his own leaders—men like Sen. Mitch McConnell—will never let allow his pro-LGBTQ bills to become law. Kirk’s about-face on LGBTQ rights is very nice, and may presage a future shift within his party. But right now there is only one way to pass the Equality Act, and that is to restore Democratic leadership in the Senate. Accomplishing this objective will likely require Duckworth to defeat Kirk. And I am deeply puzzled that HRC, an organization that prides itself on pragmatism, does not seem to grasp that very simple reality.