Saturday, May 17, 2014

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

While LGBT Rights Advance in America, Repression Is Winning Across Much of the Globe

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia (and Transphobia).  And while LGBT Americans have reason to celebrate over recent advances in the cause of LGBT equality here in America, we need to be mindful of the horrors faced by individuals in much of the world.  In far too many nations, being gay can lead to imprisonment or even the death penalty. In other nations, gays need fear being physically beaten simply for being who they are.  What fuels such oppression?  Religion first and foremost, adding to the proof that over the centuries, religion is a principal cause of evil in the world.  And jumping on the band wagon are opportunistic politicians like Vladimir Putin and Yoweri Museveni who fan homophobia as a ruse to distract their oppressed citizenry from the abject failure of their policies and the rampant corruption that is a hallmark of their regimes.  Yes, the politicians who use homophobia in this way are despicable, but it is ignorance embracing religion that sets the stage.  A piece in The Daily Beast reminds us of the plight of gays in other parts of the world.  I hope readers will stop and take a moment to remember the plight of our brothers and sisters around the world.  Better yet, make a donation to an organization seeking to aid them.  Here are article excerpts:

Google “Idaho” and “gay” in an average American’s mind, and you’ll get some strange results.  Maybe something about Idaho becoming the 19th state to legalize same-sex marriage (although an appeals court has put the ruling on hold for now).  Or maybe something about Governor Butch Otter’s wife, Gay, or his name, which is very gay.

To LGBT activists elsewhere in the world, IDAHO has a very different meaning: the International Day Against Homophobia, which takes place this year on Saturday, May 17.  IDAHO—recently renamed IDAHOT to include transphobia in the acronym—is, as the name implies, an international day of parades, flash mobs, toothless political pronouncements, and other statements in support of the idea that LGBT people deserve to be free from violence and discrimination.

The fact that most Americans have no idea that the day even exists should give us pause, especially as the hard-won gains here seem to be provoking a backlash all around the world. Our ignorance and isolation is itself part of the problem.

U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, as well as the directors of UNAIDS and the UN Development Programme, have all issued statements.

Some IDAHOT events are being planned and executed under threats of violence and persecution.  In China, for example, Fan Popo, a leading LGBT activist and director of the documentary film Mama Rainbow, told me that all but one of this year’s IDAHOT events have been shut down by the government—and the one that went on (on May 16) took place while the organizer was in a police station.  In South Africa, where the legal regime is favorable to LGBT people but social homophobia is on the rise, a full day of films, panels and performances in planned for Johannesburg.  And in Russia, a flash mob is set to take place in the center of St. Petersburg, coordinated by Coming Out St. Petersburg, one of the organizations targeted by the Putin regime.

But not much in the United States.  All that’s listed so far is a party in Omaha and a grassroots “day of action” in New Orleans.

There are many reasons for this relative lack of attention.  Typical American exceptionalism, for one.  Who cares in Kansas about what happens in Kyrgyzstan?  We don’t do “international” here.

Another reason is the American nonprofit industry, with behemoths like the Human Rights Campaign focused on their own agendas and development campaigns. These organizations don’t raise money by being part of a vast international network; they raise money by branding themselves and their initiatives.  IDAHOT doesn’t generate ROI.

Yet while Americans may be unaware of homophobia around the world, homophobes around the world are quite aware of Americans.

First, there’s our own homophobia-for-export industry.  On May 19, PBS will air the film God Loves Uganda, which exposes the work of American evangelicals to spread lies about LGBT people in Africa.  The same people—Scott Lively, the World Congress of Families, the Alliance Defending Freedom, Exodus Global Alliance, and many more —  have also spread their venom in South America, Russia, and elsewhere.  I won’t go into the details here; watch the film to see the evidence for yourself.

Second, there’s the increasing power of the homosexuality-is-Western meme, particularly used as a wedge issue by opportunistic politicians. Russia’s Vladimir Putin is the best known example—he recently blamed the crisis (if that’s what it is) in the Ukraine on “gay Nazis.”  But the same meme has appeared in such far-flung places as Brunei, Kyrgyzstan (there it is again), Tanzania, and Jamaica.

Dan Savage’s encouragement notwithstanding, things are not getting better.  In many parts of the world, they are getting worse.

Uganda is just the beginning.  Elsewhere in Africa, new anti-gay laws have been proposed in Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.  Anti-gay violence has been increasing across the continent.

Likewise, Russia’s “Anti-Propaganda Law” has caused a spike in anti-gay violence in Russia, and similar measures are to be proposed in neighboring countries Kazakhstan, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Georgia, and, yes, Kyrgyzstan.

Nor are things “getting better” in Asia.  China has recently cracked down on LGBT activists, arresting nine in a sweep on Wednesday, and four more on Friday.  The tiny sultanate of Brunei, as reported in The Daily Beast, has implemented a harsh form of shariah which threatens women, gays, and non-Muslims.
[W]hile we in the United States face inward and celebrate the remarkable cascade of good news on marriage equality and other issues, LGBT people in many parts of the world are literally and justifiably afraid for their lives.  Some of this deterioration is a backlash against the high-profile progress of gay rights in the United States and Europe, some is instigated by Americans themselves, and some is political opportunism. 

Christofascists/Tea Party Seek to Regain Control of Republican Agenda

The forces of insanity within the Republican Party - the Christofascists and their toxic first cousins in the Tea Party - are continuing their drive to control the GOP and ultimately drive the party into permanent minority party status.  These folks who comprise a mix of religious extremists and white supremacists remain obsessed with opposition to illegal immigration, same-sex marriage and, of course abortion.  Never mind that the rest of the country and the business community are moving away from them, especially on the first two issues.  For these knuckle draggers, it is all about enshrining their hate, bigotry and religious beliefs into the laws and guaranteeing that only they have religious freedom.  An article in the Washington Post looks at this poisonous agenda.  Here are highlights:

 Although many Republicans are optimistic about their chances in this year’s elections, some of Washington’s leading conservatives gathered Thursday to privately vent frustrations about what kind of party they will be left with after November.

The group, alarmed by a resurgence of the GOP establishment in recent primaries and what activists view as a softened message, drafted demands to be shared with senior lawmakers calling on the party to “recommit” to bedrock principles.

Some of those principles laid out in the new document — strict opposition to illegal immigration, same-sex marriage and abortion — represent the hot-button positions that many Republican congressional candidates are trying to avoid as the party attempts to broaden its appeal.

Several attendees said they fear that elected Republicans, even if they succeed in retaining control of the House and winning the Senate majority, would cast aside the core conservative base. 

“Conservatives ought not to delude themselves that if Republicans win the Senate majority, it will somehow be a conservative majority,” said L. Brent Bozell III  . . .

Thursday’s gathering at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner, Va., was coordinated by Reagan-era attorney general Edwin Meese III and former congressman David McIntosh (Ind.) as part of an initiative called the Conservative Action Project.

It included dozens of leaders from across the conservative movement, including tea party organizer Jenny Beth Martin and interest group executives such as Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. The meeting, which featured speeches from Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Mike Lee (Utah), marked the first time this year that prominent national conservatives have come together to candidly assess the GOP and their strategy for shaping it.

Congressional Republicans have been grappling over whether to compromise on immigration, some Republicans are calling for a smaller military, and same-sex marriage is fading as a top issue in this year’s campaigns.

Many GOP strategists and party leaders think that tea party activists’ successes in recent years nominating ideological purists resulted in weak candidates and crippling general-election losses. They worry that efforts to revive the base could threaten Republican hopes again.

“What’s clear is that we ought to be focusing on economic security for the future, not divisive social issues. That’s how we lost several key Senate races last cycle and plays into the Democrats’ hand,” said GOP consultant Brian Walsh, a former communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

In the 10-page pamphlet finalized Thursday, they called on party leaders to champion lower taxes, a well-funded military, and the idea that “married moms and dads are best at raising kids.” The document warns Republicans against signing on to an immigration overhaul unless the U.S. border is “fully secure,” and it argues that support for school prayer, a balanced-budget amendment and antiabortion legislation should remain priorities.

[Hate group leader Tony] Perkins led a panel on restoring the “traditional family” as a priority for the party.

Virginia, Gay Marriage, Bostic v. Rainey and Saturday Morning Reflections

Tim Bostic and Tony London

Its been a hectic week on the job/career front (more on that in a later post), but one enjoyable respite was HRBOR's May Third Thursday event hosted by the law firm Shuttleworth, Ruloff, Swain, Haddad & Morecock.  The law firm that launched the challenge to Virginia's anti-gay animus motivated Marshall-Newman Amendment.  Each of the named law partners in the firm are friends and years ago we all belonged to the same law firm which in later years became a part of the Richmond based Williams Mullen mega firm.  Also in attendance at the well attended event were Tim Bostic and Tony London, the original two plaintiffs in Bostic v. Rainey.  Tim and Tony are likewise personal friends.  Thus the law suit has very personal overtones to me over and above the fact that I had to travel to Washington, DC, to marry the husband because of the continued religious based animus enshrined in Virginia's laws.

The event also had some poignancy because it was the first Third Thursday event since I rolled off of the HRBOR board of directors.  A position I had held for seven years.  One of the ironies is that HRBOR's existence came into being in part because of Virginia's anti-gay bigotry.  Having been forced out of a large law firm during a merger where the taking over firm did not want an openly gay partner who "might offend the sensibilities" of conservative clients, the concept of HRBOR was to create a way for those in the LGBT business community who might be shunned by the larger business community to market and build their businesses through mutual support. The concept has worked far beyond what Christianna Flynn - my original conspiratorial, if you will, could ever have dreamed.  Moreover, in the process, HRBOR has helped change the perception of LGBT owned businesses in the larger business community.  I am honored that I was able to play a small part in this process.

The lesson?  That sometimes ordinary people can set things in motion that are larger than themselves.  A piece in the Daily Press reviews how a casual conversation between friends sparked the lawsuit now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.   The story follows how Tony London's casual conversation with Bob Ruloff lead to the momentous legal events in Virginia.  Here are excerpts:

It was just over a year ago that Tony London told a lawyer friend that he wanted to get married to his longtime partner.

London, 55, a real estate agent and retired Navy sailor, had been dating Tim Bostic, 49, an English professor at Old Dominion University, for 24 years.

Last June, following a real estate loan transaction, London and his real estate lawyer, Bob Ruloff, began talking about how California's ban on same-sex marriage had been overturned.

London then told Ruloff that he and Bostic were planning to get married in Maryland, which had recently allowed same-sex partners to wed.

That conversation not only helped boost London's and Bostic's courage. It also spurred a local law firm to spearhead a case that's now being considered by a federal appeals court — and could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

At their Norfolk home that June night, Bostic and London considered the pros and cons of pushing the issue in court. They came to their decision within 30 minutes, Bostic said. Just then, he said, a younger and less established gay couple walked past their home.

"If Tony and I wouldn't do it, who will?" Bostic said.

Meanwhile, Ruloff talked to Tom Shuttleworth, the senior partner at the Virginia Beach firm, Shuttleworth, Ruloff, Swain, Haddad & Morecock. Shuttleworth was quickly on board. "It's going to be a long, hard challenge, but if they're up for it, we're up for it," he said.

Over the next couple weeks, one of the Virginia Beach firm's associates, Charles Lustig — whom Ruloff called the law firm's resident "constitutional scholar" — researched the issue and drafted the lawsuit.

On July 18, 2013, Lustig walked into the U.S. District Court in Norfolk and handed the complaint to a counter clerk. Former Gov. Bob McDonnell, former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George E. Schafer III were named as defendants.

Lustig wrote: "By denying those individuals the same 'marriage' designation afforded to opposite-sex couples … the Commonwealth of Virginia is stigmatizing gays and lesbians, as well as their children and families, and denying them the same dignity, respect, and stature afforded officially recognized opposite-sex family relationships."

A week after the suit was filed, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer, Matt McGill, learned of the case through news reports.

McGill works with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, an international law firm based in Los Angeles that was heavily involved in the push to legalize same-sex marriage in California. McGill then called Erik Porcaro, a childhood friend — and an attorney with the Virginia Beach law firm.

Shuttleworth, Ruloff, Swain, Haddad & Morecock, with about 15 lawyers, is a respected firm, and among the larger ones in Hampton Roads. 

But Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, with more than 1,100 lawyers, is a global firm. It's where Ted Olson, the nation's former solicitor general under George W. Bush, works.

"I thought we were incredibly lucky to team up with them," Shuttleworth added. "We were very delighted to have them on the team. It was not really an issue in my mind. We were just pleasantly surprised that we had the opportunity."

Ruloff said he, too, is happy he got involved a year ago, and believes this will be a historic case. "If Tony had gone to Maryland (to get married), and I had not spoken up, I would not like myself," he said.

Bostic said he found it amazing that the lawyers involved on the plaintiffs' side are mostly "older straight white men."

"They don't have any dog in this fight," he said. "That they're willing to put themselves out there and support us, it's kind of awe-inspiring. It's humbling."

Kudos to Tim and Tony and to Bob, Tom and the rest of the SRSHM attorneys.  It was moving hearing Bob and Tom speak at the event and I was very touched when they both gave me a big hug.  I feel lucky to count these guys as friends.

Friday, May 16, 2014

More Friday Male Beauty

Africa: Homosexuality Isn't Some Western Invention

One of the current favorite ploys of corrupt and incompetent African rulers who are desperate to distract their ignorant and uneducated populace from the severity of their misrule is to play the gay card and depict homosexuality not only as a threat to "authentic African social norms" but to also claim that it is a western import that has corrupted traditional African society.  The claims, of course, could not be further from the truth and the state the case for the argument that many African countries in actuality were far better off as colonies of European powers than under corrupt, incompetent self-rule.  Further intensifying the poisonous mix has been the propaganda of American Christofascists and charlatans like Scott Lively and Rick Warren.  A piece in The Advocate shines the spotlight on the fact that homosexuality existed in Africa long before the European conquest and that the homophobia we see today is the true western import.  Here are excerpt:
The claim by some African leaders that homosexuality is a Western export — used most recently by Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni to defend his country’s brutish legislation — doesn’t even pass the laugh test. But to get beyond guffaws, it helps to read Boy-Wives and Female Husbands, by Will Roscoe and Stephen O. Murray, published in 1998. The book, which draws in part on older ethnographic studies, catalogues so many varieties of indigenous African homosexuality that it makes the range of Western sexual identities seem positively narrow. The myriad examples of Boy-Wives and Female Husbands suggest that, of the competing forces of homosexuality and homophobia, only the latter could plausibly be an import.
» The Fante people of Ghana believed that people born with heavy souls — of either sex — would desire women, while those with light souls would desire men.
» In Akan society, lesbian affairs were “virtually universal”; some women purchased extra-large beds to accommodate multiple partners.
» Among the Zande of southwestern Sudan, a warrior who chose to marry a boy paid spears to the boy’s parents, addressing them as gbiore (father-in-law) and negbiore (mother-in-law).
» The Ovigangella people of Angola used the term kuzunda to describe a type of mutual masturbation in which the glans are rubbed against each other. “Solitary masturbation is so unfamiliar... that not a single word exists for it.”
» In Ashanti society, older boys penetrated younger boys or engaged in reciprocal anal intercourse (known as jigle keton).
» The Lovedu people of Lesotho were ruled by queens who were required to take wives and even assembled female harems.
 » In South Africa, migrant workers often took male partners, who became known as “mine wives.”
Homophobia and fundamentalist religious beliefs both rely on the same thing: ignorant populations that can be manipulated by the power hungry be they wearing pastor robes or seeking political advancement.  Sadly, when  individuals like Uganda president Yoweri Museveni make statements like the one noted above they are relying on the ignorance of their own populace but also announcing their own ignorance and stupidity to the world.  In fact, this basic theory applies across the broad be it Vladimir Putin making the foul claims or some fundamentalist pastor someplace in Bumfuck America.

The take away?  The importance of knowing true history and being able to challenge the batshitery of the "godly folk."  As for Museveni, he might just as well have "I'm a fucking moron" tattooed across his forehead.  He makes a trained circus dog appear to be the height of intelligence in comparison.

Religious Extremism - A Glimpse of What the Christofascists Want to Bring to America

If one wants to see the type of evil and religious based insanity that the Christian Taliban would like to bring to America, look no farther than what their Islamic cousins are doing in other parts of the world.  A case in point is the plight of a Sudanese woman (pictured above) who is currently planning to appeal an Islamic judge’s decision that she be flogged with 100 lashes and then be hanged for marrying a Christian man and converting to Christianity from Islam.  This woman's situation is yet another example of the fact that religion - especially fundamentalist religion - is one of the most vile and dangerous forces in the world today.  It needs to be eradicated.  And the sooner  the better whether overseas or in pockets of hate and extremism such as the Family Research Council and here in Virginia, at the Family Foundation. While this instances involves Islam, there is in the end analysis little difference from Christian and Islamic extremists.  ABC News looks at the horror being done in Sudan in the name of religion.  Here are excerpts:
Lawyers for a pregnant Sudanese woman plan to appeal an Islamic judge’s decision that she be flogged with 100 lashes and then be hanged for marrying a Christian man and converting.

Amnesty International and Western embassies are expressing alarm over the harsh sentence meted out to Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag, who is eight months pregnant.

So far the only concession granted by the Islamic court is to wait until Ishag gives birth before carrying out the sentence.

Amnesty International called the court’s ruling “truly abhorrent.” The organization’s Sudan researcher Manar Idriss said that “adultery and apostasy are acts which should not be considered crimes at all. It is flagrant breach of international human rights law.”

Western embassies in Sudan including the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands also echoing that sentiment issued a joint statement expressing “deep concern” about the case and urged Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion.

Amal Habany, a political activist in support of women’s rights,  said “The court has no appearance of justice or respect for freedom of choice in ones beliefs, personally and individually.”
Despite the outrcy, the Islamic court has been unmoved.

The judge told Ishaq, “We gave you three days to recant, but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death.” Officially her crime is apostasy.

Ishaq replied, “I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy.”

The judge also ruled that her marriage to a Christian man was invalid and not recognized under Islamic law, which means that she had committed adultery. He ordered her to be flogged for that alleged offense.

After the sentence was decreed, the prosecutor’s spokesman Ahmad Hassan told the Associated Press that “they were given ample time to prove their innocence, but I for one believe in upholding our traditions and customs as Sudanese.”

As I have said before, a world devoid of religion would likely be a far better place.  Over the course of history, the true fruits of religion has been hatred, bigotry and an incalculable number of needless deaths through wars of religion and religious kangaroo courts such as the one in Sudan.  It is far past time that America and other civilized nations cut off ALL aid and support of any kind to vile nations like the Sudan, Uganda and a majority of Muslim nations..

The Virginia GOP Civil War Continues Fueled by Far Right Crazies

Watching the Virginia GOP as it's infighting raises the possibility of internal self-destruction makes for great entertainment.  The contestants in the battle are (i) the few sane, pragmatic, if craven Republicans who have not fled the GOP insane asylum arrayed against (ii) the spittle fleck crazies of the Christofascists/Tea Party (and, based on Facebook interaction with a former GOP colleague who has seemingly drunk deeply from the far right Kool-Aid, once sane Republicans who have sold their souls to extremism).   And this fight has national overtones as the knuckle dragging Neanderthals of the Virginia GOP base target Eric Cantor and other Congressional Republicans who, despite their sleazy self-prostitution, are rational and sane compared to the spittle stained lunatics of the Christofascist/Tea Party factions.   A post at Virginia Free Citizen symbolizes the descent into insanity of the GOP base.  Here are highlights:
Criticizing a Republican’s unethical behavior is shunned, unless condemnation is directed at one more conservative than you. “Don’t criticize a Republican.” When the six point message of our creed is rejected to secure power, there will be no participation in kum ba yah moments around Republican campfires; I cannot “just get along.”

Hundreds of “happy campers,” attending Virginia Beach’s Big Tent meeting for the first time were purged for power. Eric Cantor’s Young Guns destroyed years of coalition building. Where did Cantor’s “Fledgling Firearms” secure their “basic training” – Mitch McConnell, Karl Rove, Amelia Island?

A Freedom of Information Act request for Campbell County email addresses was used to tell employees that Republican extremists would eliminate their jobs if they did not participate in the Republican mass meeting. “Sign the loyalty oath; it doesn’t matter.” Democrats helped eliminate convention delegates, including the candidate seeking chairmanship of the 5th District and a House of Delegates member. Parliamentarian for the evening’s festivities was Mike Thomas, Vice Chair of the State Central Committee, Mr. Slating 101, and one of Cantor’s Big Three.

Cantor disenfranchised voters, promoted divisiveness Virginia Congressional districts, and violated the principles that define Virginia’s GOP. Where is the condemnation from Republican Party leadership, State Central, US Congressmen, Virginia Senators or House of Delegates? Is winning at any cost ever acceptable? Have money and retribution silenced the statesmen and hindered the penman? Why are leaders blind, deaf, and mute to Cantors’ destruction of our Big Tent message?
Should we ignore the obvious because of Cantor’s position? No one is that important – no one. Cantor’s behavior mocks leadership. The Virginia Beach and Campbell County tomfooleries ridiculed principled leadership. Cantor is not principled. He needs no power.
Make no mistake.  I view Eric Cantor as little better than a power hungry, opportunistic whore.  But compared to the crazies at  The Family Foundation and within Tea Party circles, he comes off as the height of rationality.  Until the Christofascists/Tea Party crowd are driven back into the political wilderness, don't expect any responsible behavior for the GOP.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Christofascists and Republicans Continue to Claim to Be Above the Law

One of the mantras of the Christofascists and their pandering whores in the Republican Party is that gays want "special rights."  In truth, we only want EQUAL rights.  It is the Christofascists who want special rights.  Specifically, they want a license to simply disregard any law that they do not like, citing as always "deeply held religious beliefs."   This Christofascist mindset is bad enough, but when one hears legislators who have sworn to uphold the constitution of the United States engage in such batshitery, they make a de facto case that they are unfit to hold elected office.  The most recent example is Ben Sasse (pictured above), a Nebraska Republican who won his party’s nomination to the United States Senate on Tuesday (those undermining the Constitution seem to ALWAYS be Republicans).  According to Sasse’s website, “[g]overnment cannot force citizens to violate their religious beliefs under any circumstances.”  That's right.  If you don't like a law, just ignore it.  Think Progress looks at Sasse's arguably seditious views.  Here are excerpts:

“[O]ur right to the free exercise of religion is co-equal to our right to life,” according to the campaign website of Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican who won his party’s nomination to the United States Senate on Tuesday. Nebraska is a solid red state that preferred Romney to Obama by a massive 21 point margin in 2012, so Sasse is now all but certain to succeed retiring Sen. Mike Johanns (R) this November. If he does, Sasse promises to promote an almost anarchistic vision of religious liberty as a member of the Senate. According to Sasse’s website, “[g]overnment cannot force citizens to violate their religious beliefs under any circumstances.”

The question of when religious belief exempts believers from following the law is at the forefront of our national debate right now, with the Supreme Court poised to decide whether religious business owners can refuse to offer birth control coverage as part of their employer-provided health plans, even when doing so would violate federal law.  Yet, even the plaintiffs before the Supreme Court acknowledge that religious liberty is not an absolute right to violate any law at any time.

His proposed rule — that government cannot require someone to act counter to their religious beliefs “under any circumstances” — would mean that literally any law could be ignored by someone who held a religious belief counter to that law. . . . .  Under Sasse’s formulation of religious liberty, a person who killed his own sister because he believed he was under a religious obligation to do so would be immune from prosecution for murder.

Similarly, religious beliefs have been used to justify discrimination against racial minorities, women, and LGBT Americans at different points in American history. In an opinion upholding Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage, a state judge wrote that “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages.

The conservative Bob Jones University drew a similar connection between religion and racism to justify excluding African Americans entirely until the early 1970s, and then to justify a ban on interracial dating and marriage among its students.

Under Sasse’s preferred rule, where “government cannot force citizens to violate their religious beliefs under any circumstances,” racists, sexists and homophobes who claim a religious justification for bigotry would be immune from anti-discrimination law.

ThinkProgress contacted the Sasse campaign to offer them an opportunity to clarify whether the candidate truly believes that any practice, including “stoning adulterers or putting to death those who work on the Sabbath” should be allowed if it is justified by a religious belief. As of this writing, we have not received a response.
By his own words, Sasse is unfit to hold a seat in the U.S. Senate.  He symbolizes the growing sickness of religious extremist.  It is hard to be a bigger political whore to the Christofascists than Sasse. I find him frightening.

Don’t Ask a Same-Sex Couples Who is the “Husband” or the “Wife.”

Me and "the husband"
Recently married myself, I have begun referring to "the boyfriend" as "the husband."  I like the change.  Especially since I never really felt comfortable with the term "partner"  given my background in the legal realm and law firms where members of law firms are often called "partners."  Similar terminology likewise exists in many businesses that are structured as general or limited partnerships.  Calling one's lover/best/friend/significant other your "partner" just doesn't cut it in my book.  A column in the Washington Post makes the same case.  Here are highlights:
Let me attempt to clear up that confusion. Your question seems to assume that when a same-sex couple adopts “husband” and “wife” as their preferred term, they pick one apiece. That’s not the case. When two men have married, there are two husbands; for women, there are two wives. The bottom line: Don’t ask a same-sex couple who is the “husband” or the “wife.
You’re right — I do call Jim my “husband” since we got hitched in August; for the record, he also calls me his “husband.” When we use that language, we’re signaling that we’re legally married — no longer sweethearts, boyfriends or the ambiguous “partners.”

We’re not, however, announcing gendered aspects of our relationship, as your question implies. (Still, I couldn’t help but notice that the boyfriend of Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player to be drafted by an NFL team, was incorrectly called out by some as Sam’s “wife” and “trophy wife” on social media, highlighting the traditional stereotypes of “husband/wife” roles.) 

Put another way: When a heterosexual couple use “husband” or “wife,” are they disclosing what goes on behind closed doors, or who does the dishes vs. who takes out the garbage? I don’t think so; they’re simply using the conventional terms for a married couple.

[W]hy not use “partner”? First of all, it is confusing. Before we married, Jim and I called each other “partners,” and I can’t tell you how many times we were asked, “What business are you guys in?”  

In short, once legally wed, spouses — whether straight or gay — have earned the titles “husbands” and “wives.” That doesn’t mean that every gay or lesbian couple will embrace those terms, just as some opposite-sex couples prefer partner or spouse despite their legal status. 

I understand that much of this nomenclature is new to you — as it is to many others. But unfamiliar as the words may be, more and more same-sex weddings are in our future. 

The bottom line for those uncomfortable with the new use of familiar terms?  Get over it.  Times are changing and so must you.

David Frum: Republican Advantage Among Older Voters Won’t Last

Today's Republican Party relies disproportionately on angry, aging white voters to put it over the finish line in many political races.  Meanwhile, GOP policies seemingly go out of their way to alienate other voters, especially minority voters and LGBT voters and the young who support diversity and equality.  David Frum - one of the few relatively sane conservatives not yet fully driven from the GOP - says that the GOP is deluding itself if it believes that its lock on older voters will hold over the longer term .  Here are excerpts from a piece Frum wrote in The Atlantic:
Republicans are expected to score gains in 2014 because of their advantage among older voters, the voters most likely to turn out in midterm elections. That advantage has appeared surprisingly recently—and there is reason to think it won’t last long.

The emergence of the older voters as a massively solid Republican bloc is a post-Obama phenomenon.

The Pew survey explained the trend in a 2011 report. The Silent Generation that voted for Bush in 1988 had retained its conservatism into its retirement years. No news there. The news was among the next cohort, the Baby Boomers: After the year 2000, the Woodstock generation veered abruptly to the right.

These trends explain the present. But they don’t predict the future.  As human life extends, it no longer makes sense to think of 65 as “old age.” We live in the age of the 65-year-old marathon runner, the 65-year-old rock star, and the 65-year-old new father.

Old age comes later now. But when it comes, it changes people in the same way it always did. Women begin radically to outnumber men. (In 2010, the older-than-80 population included 4 million males and 7.2 million females). Personal savings are exhausted. (Average net worth drops by 25 percent between age 65 and age 75.) Dependency rises. Attitudes to government change.

The older you get, the more you appreciate Social Security and Medicare …and the more you mistrust proposals for reform that might affect current recipients.

As one very successful political operative told me, “The No. 1 concern of every voter over 80 is, ‘Will my check arrive on time?'”

Cultural conservatism appeals strongly to the elderly. The bold economic individualism espoused by so many in the Republican Party since 2009? Not so much. A 501(c)4 group closely connected to GOP leaders and donors conducted a series of focus groups in spring 2012 among older independents in Michigan and Florida, two states Mitt Romney hoped to win. These voters strongly endorsed the entitlements status quo and opposed any changes that would affect them personally. They refused to believe that Medicare caused deficits. (They blamed “wars” instead.)

There will soon be a lot more people digging in against benefits changes. The elderly population is poised to grow hugely quickly; the oldest of the old to grow faster still.  

As the old become older, they become more female. As they become more female, they become more supportive of government’s social-welfare role—and thus more strongly Democratic.

Viciously Anti-Gay Del. Bob Marshall Wants to Impeach Mark Herring

As reported by The Advocate, recently actor Antonio Banderas made the statement that its is homophobes, not gays who are mentally disturbed.  Specifically, Banderas said:
“Those who judge gay couples in an intolerant way, they seem to me to be much more sick. Gay people, on the other hand, absolutely do not appear to me to be sick,”
It's as if Banderas had Del. Bob Marshall, homophobe extraordinaire in mind.   Marshall has a bizarre fixation with gays and seemingly can only rest and be happy when gays are being subjected to state sponsored discrimination and, better yet, criminal prosecution. One can only wonder what deep psychological issues - mental illness, if you will, drives Marshall's extreme anti-gay animus.  It is not without irony that some of Marshall's own statements were used by the plaintiffs in Bostic v. Rainey to demonstrate that the Marshall-Newman Amendment was motivated by hatred of gays. If one wants to see what is wrong with today's Republican Party of Virginia, look no farther than Bob Marshall.

Seeing Attorney General Mark Herring reverse Virginia's position on same sex marriage bans has driven Marshall to near spittle flecked apoplexy.  Now, this hate filled man wants to see Herring impeached for recognizing that gays have equal constitutional rights with other citizens.  The Washington Post has details on Marshall latest batshitery.  Here are highlights:
Del. Robert G. Marshall credits a little divine intervention with giving him the final push he needed to call for an impeachment inquiry into Attorney General Mark R. Herring . . . .

Marshall (R-Prince William) took the rare step Thursday, two days after spotting Herring at a federal appeals court hearing over the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Herring's support for overturning that ban and his decision last month to grant in-state college tuition to some Virginians who came to the country illegally as children are among the actions that pushed Marshall to action.

Marshall insisted the gesture is sincere and not meant merely as political theater. But opposition from the Republican speaker of the House of Delegates, where the state constitution calls for impeachment proceedings to begin, makes Marshall’s chances slim.

Marshall, one of the legislature’s most outspoken conservatives, filed two resolutions calling for an impeachment inquiry into Herring’s actions. His legal justification, he said, stems from his view that the attorney general violated the state’s constitution as well as the Virginia State Bar’s professional conduct rules for lawyers.

Herring shrugged off the threat.   “A small handful of legislators seem to remain oblivious as to how the law works, the role of the attorney general, and the publicly stated opinion of top legal scholars,” Herring spokesman Michael Kelly said. Among those scholars, he added, is the author of Virginia’s modern constitution, A.E. “Dick” Howard, who called Herring’s actions “appropriate.”   Marshall said that in addition to the marriage and immigration issues, he objects to Herring’s willingness to review letting same-sex couples file joint state income tax returns.

Howell’s office made it clear again Thursday that he disagreed with the approach.  “The speaker has expressed his concerns regarding the attorney general’s actions but does not believe impeachment is an appropriate or practical recourse at the moment,” Howell spokesman Matthew Moran said.

[W]ith Howell in charge of the House it is unlikely to go anywhere. Because the legislature is in the midst of a special session to deal with its unfinished budget, the resolution could be considered soon. But Howell will decide what committee to send it to for consideration, and that in turn will determine whether the measure makes it onto the House floor for a vote.

If anyone needs to be impeached, it is Marshall.  Better yet, send him to an insane asylum permanently.  Meanwhile, I continue to wonder WTF is wrong with the voters in Marshall's district that the reelected the man.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

The Virginia GOP's Civil War Continues

Today's Republican Party of Virginia bears little resemblance to the party I belonged to for years and in which I held a city committee precinct chair for eight years.  Now, those who were viewed as crackpots and treated like the crazy old aunt that one found embarrassing are more or less mainstream.  Meanwhile, most of the sane moderates I knew have fled the insane asylum that the Virginia GOP has become.   And the insanity is nowhere near ending.  A piece in the conservative blog Bearing Drift illustrates this point as insurgents vow to continue their assault on Eric Cantor and others deemed "not conservative enough."  Here are highlights:

Apparently, there was an event over the weekend in which the forces of light overcame the legions of darkness. Or maybe it was the 7th district GOP convention doing its best Monty Python imitation. While I agree with what Jim wrote here, and D.J. McGuire wrote here, I can’t help but be amused by the following quote in Tony Lee’s write-up of the affair:
[Pat] McSweeney said Saturday’s outcome has energized Brat’s supporters who outnumbered Cantor’s allies and has convinced doubters that a victory for Brat is at least still “plausible” in June if Brat can raise enough money and ride the momentum provided by Gruber’s win to his advantage.

He also said Saturday’s victory would have a long-term impact.

“The Tea Party and conservative insurgents now realize that they are no longer insurgents, but have prevailed,” McSweeney told Breitbart News. “They will make an effort to neutralize the impression that they are angry, negative people by urging the establishment folks to stay involved in working with the conservatives to build the Party. They will concentrate on pushing a positive policy agenda.”
An intramural party scrum will not affect the outcome of the 7th district primary. Mr. Cantor will win, but his margin is an open question. Anything less than 60 percent all but guarantees him a challenge in 2016 from the camp currently advising Mr. Brat. Very likely, with the new district leadership, they will attempt to put the race to a nominating convention (though the Virginia code would seem to indicate otherwise…more fun for lawyers ahead).

And now regarding what Pat said…

He is absolutely right that the new 7th district leadership will have to “neutralize the impression that they are angry.” That will be a tall order for some — on both sides. Overcoming hurt feelings, warnings of doom and mutual anathemas would be a chore for anyone. As for the idea of pushing a “positive policy agenda,” yes, that does need to happen. It has always been necessary, regardless of who is in charge. But I also believe D.J. McGuire is correct when he wrote:
…based on emails and comments I have seen, it looks like Saturday was all about personalities. That saddens me. There are good reasons to be upset with Eric Cantor (chief among them, the bank bailout), but it appears much of the GVRB is about settling scores and assuaging grudges.
The task ahead is to see who will step forward and be the grown-up who wants to get things done. So far, the field is full of two-year olds.  And boy, do they have a laundry list of grievances:
“We’re not convinced that the fight over the nomination method going forward has been settled. We expect to have that fight next year and in 2016 and 2017,” McSweeney said. He noted that Ed Gillespie, who is running for Senate this year in what is possibly a trial run for a gubernatorial campaign in 2017, and Cantor “represent what remains of the old Bush machine in Virginia” and the “outcome yesterday will give Gillespie heartburn.
Mr. Gillespie, take note: they are coming for you, too

Arkansas Supreme Court Dismisses Appeal of Gay Marriage Ruling, Denies Emergency Stay

Confusion reigns over the state of same sex marriage in Arkansas after the Arkansas Supreme Court dismissed an appeal from the state court ruling striking down that state's anti-gay marriage amendment.  The Supreme Court also denied the State's request for an emergency stay.  While both actions look promising to supporters of marriage equality, the rules in reality do not reveal what the ultimate outcome will be because the Court's actions were focused on legal technicalities - e.g., the lower court order was not yet "final" and therefore not yet subject to appeal - than on any substantive decision.  A piece in the Arkansas Times looks at the developments and why no real result has yet been achieved.  Here are excerpts:
The Arkansas Supreme Court has denied a request for an emergency stay of Judge Chris Piazza's order overturning the ban on same-sex marriage. The court also dismissed as premature an appeal of Piazza's ruling because it wasn't a final order.

Marriage equality remains the law of the land in Arkansas, but the court injected a wrinkle that will give counties cover to continue to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples. And that wrinkle has prompted Pulaski Clerk Larry Crane to say that, for the time being, his office likely will cease issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

The court noted that Piazza's ruling didn't mention a statute that prohibits clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. It remains in effect. Action will now shift to Piazza's court to pursue final orders, injunctive relief and a cleanup on the omitted statute.

Said Jack Wagoner, attorney for the plaintffs:
We'll fix that tomorrow and be back here again.... How can you  find something unconstitutional but not affect a statute that would require the clerks to do something unconstitutional?
Justices Donald Corbin and Paul Danielson issued a separate concurrence that said they simply would have dismissed the appeal for lack of a final order and rejected the emergency stay request because the case is still before the trial court.

In addressing Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's argument that the court should exercise its superintending authority and issue a stay because of confusion on the part of clerks on whether they should issue same-sex licenses, the court said:
We tum again to the circuit court's order. Here, the circuit court did not issue a ruling with regard to Ark. Code Ann. $ 9-11- 208(b) (Repl. 2009), "License not issued to persons ofthe same sex." Therefore, the circuit court's order has no effect on Ark. Code Ann. S 9-11-208(b) and its prohibition against circuit and county clerks issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Accordingly, we deny the State's petition for an emergency stay of the circuit court's May 9, 2014 order
At a minimum, this reads as clear protection for the 73 counties that have chosen not to issue licenses despite Piazza's order. Pulaski and Washington have continued to do so.
It's not too early for some speculation. Remember that the plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court to deny a stay on the usual familiar grounds — that the state isn't likely to prevail on the merits and that irreparable harm would be done to plaintiffs. If the court was inclined to overturn Piazza, wouldn't it have been better to stay the order now and prevent a possible succession of hundreds of more couples to Larry Crane's office for marriage licenses? That's one school of thought. Another school of thought is that the Supreme Court membership is significantly different from the panel that unanimously struck down a statute aimed at discriminating against gay parents. A split on the court is thought likely, particularly given the higher political aspirations of some members in a state where public sentiment, though improving, remains set against same-sex marriage.

The optics of happy people tasting equality — with friends, kids, relative and admirers in tow — is powerful in the courts — real and of public opinion.

The bottom line?  Stay tuned for more developments and more attempts for a stay and an appeal.

The Death of the American Dream - It’s Now the Canadian Dream

With three children of my own, I like so many do not believe that my children will have the opportunities that I had for to achieve the so-called American Dream, much less the opportunities that my parents had.  Why?  Because, in my view, America is headed in the wrong direction economically and to some extent socially.  Once upon a time, there was more of a sense of "we're all in this together" and that when the country built infrastructure, we all benefited.  Now, if the GOP had its way, America would be a completely cruel Ayn Rand world  where everyone simply fought to keep what was theirs and there would be no concept at all of the common good.  Add in globalization of the economy and the USA is headed for a situation like Great Britain found itself in following WWII.  Ironically, the far right blames "socialism" for America's predicament, yet Canada, our neighbor to the north is far more socialistic and it is now the nation that has taken over the dream that was once America's.  Even "Old Europe" now has more social upward mobility.  A column in the New York Times looks at America's decline, much of which has been self-induced.  Here are excerpts:
It was in 1931 that the historian James Truslow Adams coined the phrase “the American dream.”
The American dream is not just a yearning for affluence, Adams said, but also for the chance to overcome barriers and social class, to become the best that we can be. Adams acknowledged that the United States didn’t fully live up to that ideal, but he argued that America came closer than anywhere else.

Adams was right at the time, and for decades. When my father, an eastern European refugee, reached France after World War II, he was determined to continue to the United States because it was less class bound, more meritocratic and offered more opportunity.

Yet today the American dream has derailed, partly because of growing inequality. Or maybe the American dream has just swapped citizenship, for now it is more likely to be found in Canada or Europe — and a central issue in this year’s political campaigns should be how to repatriate it.

A report last month in The Times by David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealy noted that the American middle class is no longer the richest in the world, with Canada apparently pulling ahead in median after-tax income. Other countries in Europe are poised to overtake us as well.

In fact, the discrepancy is arguably even greater. Canadians receive essentially free health care, while Americans pay for part of their health care costs with after-tax dollars. Meanwhile, the American worker toils, on average, 4.6 percent more hours than a Canadian worker, 21 percent more hours than a French worker and an astonishing 28 percent more hours than a German worker, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Canadians and Europeans also live longer, on average, than Americans do. Their children are less likely to die than ours. American women are twice as likely to die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth as Canadian women. And, while our universities are still the best in the world, children in other industrialized countries, on average, get a better education than ours.

[S]everal studies show that a child born in the bottom 20 percent economically is less likely to rise to the top in America than in Europe. A Danish child is twice as likely to rise as an American child.

Three data points:
The top 1 percent in America now own assets worth more than those held by the entire bottom 90 percent.

The six Walmart heirs are worth as much as the bottom 41 percent of American households put together.

The top six hedge fund managers and traders averaged more than $2 billion each in earnings last year, partly because of the egregious “carried interest” tax break. President Obama has been unable to get financing for universal prekindergarten; this year’s proposed federal budget for pre-K for all, so important to our nation’s future, would be a bit more than a single month’s earnings for those six tycoons.
It’s time to bring the American dream home from exile.

The irony is that much of the path for America's decline tracks to failed GOP policies.  More ironically yet, the decline corresponds to the rise of the selfish, anti-knowledge Christofascists in the Republican Party.   The far right loves to talk about American exceptionalism, yet it is they who are killing it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Rubio's Florida Most Vulnerable to Rising Sea Levels

click image to enlarge

Not to beat up unfairly on Marco Rubio, but given his home state's vulnerability to rising sea levels, one has to wonder how he expects to get reelected to the U.S. Senate much less run for president of the United States.  A piece at The Raw Story looks at what sea level rise may mean for many of America's largest cities.  It's not pretty.  Here are highlights:

New research indicates that climate change has already triggered an unstoppable decay of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The projected decay will lead to at least 4 feet of accelerating global sea level rise within the next two-plus centuries, and at least 10 feet of rise in the end. 

What does the U.S. look like with an ocean that is 10 feet higher? The radically transformed map would lose 28,800 square miles of land, home today to 12.3 million people.

More than half of the area of 40 large cities (population over 50,000) is less than 10 feet above the high tide line, from Virginia Beach and Miami (the largest affected), down to Hoboken, N.J. (smallest). Twenty-seven of the cities are in Florida, where one-third of all current housing sits below the critical line — including 85 percent in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Each of these counties is more threatened than any whole state outside of Florida – and each sits on bedrock filled with holes, rendering defense by seawalls or levees almost impossible.

By the metric of most people living on land less than 10 ft above the high tide line, New York City is most threatened in the long run, with a low-lying population count of more than 700,000. Sixteen other cities, including New Orleans, La.; Norfolk, Va.; Stockton, Calif.; Boston, Mass.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Jacksonville, Fla.; are on the list of places with more than 100,000 people below the line. (Much of New Orleans is already below sea level, but is protected at today’s level by levees.)

Climate Central’s enhanced analysis paints a much more detailed pictured for completed states. For example, more than 32,000 miles of road and $950 billion of property currently sit on affected land in Florida. Threatened property in New York and New Jersey totals more than $300 billion.

St. Petersburg, Forida

Mike Huckabee: Impeach Arkansas Judge Who Struck DownGay Marriage Ban

Outside of Tony Perkins and a few others, no one in today's GOP better demonstrates the metastasizing cancer that the Christofascists represent with in the Republican Party more than Mike Huckabee.  Huckabee, as he stated on Morning Joe some years back wants the U.S. Constitution replaced by the Bible as America's governing document.  Similarly, he wants a Christofascist theocracy to replace our constitutional form of government.  Picture an Iran style government with scary lunatics like Huckabee in charge.  In the wake of the recent ruling by an Arkansas state court judge that struck down that state's ban on same sex marriage, Huckabee is in a state of near apoplexy and is making spittle flecked rants that the judge who handed down the completely justified ruling be impeached.  LGBTQ Nation looks at Huckabee's batshitery.  Here are excerpts:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says lawmakers in his home state should impeach a judge who struck down the state’s gay marriage ban, saying the judge ignored the will of voters.

In a blog post on his political action committee website, Huckabee on Sunday criticized Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza for finding unconstitutional a 2004 amendment and 1997 state law banning same-sex marriage.

Huckabee wrote that the governor should call a special session to impeach Piazza. A spokesman for the PAC confirmed that Huckabee wrote the post.

Huckabee wrote that if Arkansans want to legalize same-sex marriage, they should put it on the ballot and vote for it.

State Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway, Ark.) said over the weekend he has been contacted by other legislators that would seek to start impeachment proceedings against Piazza in the House of Representatives.

But Republican House Speaker Davy Carter called Rapert’s suggestion “absurd,” and said he would not support any attempts at impeachment.

“Trying to impeach a judge because you don’t like his or her decision notwithstanding the subject matter is absurd and goes against hundreds of years of the way our great country has conducted business under our three branches of government,” said Carter.

“The appellate process needs to run its course. Our forefathers saw the importance of our constitution and system of self-governance,” he said. “That system has worked well for a long time and make us who we are as a country. I won’t support any effort to undermine that.”
Like most Christofascists, Huckabee supports mob rule by the majority.  Personally, I cannot wait for the day when Christians are a minority in America and begin to reap the same kind of treatment they have dished out to others for far too long.   That day cannot come soon enough.

By coincidence, last week we got a call from Huckabee's PAC at the house seeking to disseminate lies and bullshit.  Suffice it to say, I gave them an earful!!

Did the GOP Set the Stage for a Rand Paul Presidential Primary Win?

Increasingly, the Republican primary process seems to favor the insane elements of the Christofacists/Tea Party who regardless of the weather and other ongoing events will always go to the polls while more fair weather voters stay home.  Yet the way in which the national Republican Party is scheduling state primaries some argue is playing right into the hands of the extremists.  More specifically, they claim that the deck is being unwittingly stacked to favor Rand Paul.  It would be ironic if the GOP establishment, which wants to control the Frankenstein monster known as the Tea Party just helped the enemy.  A piece in The Daily Beast looks at the new playing field.  Here are excerpts:
[T]he Republican National Committee codified a presidential primary schedule earlier this month that requires Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada to hold their votes first. And Republicans from both inside and outside the establishment wing of the party say that calendar will provide a huge advantage to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and his legion of Tea Party acolytes.

Paul has generated positive headlines with a pivot away from party orthodoxy in recent months. But with his views on foreign policy, criminal justice, and the economy, he may struggle to win over the bulk of a party that associates him with the its libertarian fringe, led for several decades by his father, former Rep. Ron Paul.

But those same ties give Paul an advantage in three of the early primary states, and if the senator were to win or even put together a decent showing there, Republicans say he may have momentum that is impossible to slow. No Republican has won Iowa and New Hampshire and failed to win the nomination.

“He already has his team in place in Iowa,” said Chris LaCivita, a Republican strategist who worked on Paul’s 2010 Senate bid. “I don’t know too many presidential candidates who can say that in May of 2014.”

In independent-minded New Hampshire, Paul is thought to be a better fit with Republican voters, and he is leading in a series of early polls in the state, even besting New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and the better-known Jeb Bush.

 In Nevada, a caucus system allows for candidates with a superior organization to upset more mainstream opponents. . . . . while Nevada can be something of a “jump ball,” Paul should have such an advantage there that “it would be surprising to even see the other candidates campaign much.”

Republican leaders from other states, including Florida, Texas, and Michigan, had talked about trying to move their primaries up in the calendar, but ultimately the RNC prevailed upon the state parties to stick to the national party-approved calendar.

But the schedule is not the only possible advantage for Paul in 2016. The committee also mandated that every state assign delegates based on a proportion of the vote won, rather than on the winner-take-all primaries of years past. And Paul’s likely ability to bring a committed core of supporters to the polls in most states means that he will be able to compile delegates methodically, much as Barack Obama did in 2008.

For Paul especially, proving his viability in the handful of states fortunate enough to vote before everyone else in 2016 will not be the same as winning the White House—or being president.

“In the end, he is a bad fit for the mass of the Republican voting bloc, and in the end you need to win over a majority,” said Brad Todd, a Republican consultant. “He has views that are well outside the Republican Party, never mind the country. That is a high hurdle for him.”

Watching the GOP tear itself apart will be great spectator sport as the primaries unfold in early 2016.  Of course, much can change between now and then.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Conservative Lies About "Caring About Children"

Click image to enlarge
As Noted in a previous post, the Christofascists and their political whores in the Republican Party always claim to be concerned about "the children."  Meanwhile, the policies they espouse are the antithesis of those one would back if one actually gave a damn about children and families.  The map above is an indictment of the conservatives who oppose paid leave and other programs that allow mothers to actually care for their children.  Andrew Sullivan notes as follows:

Lest we be too pleased with ourselves for remembering to call mom on Sunday, Ezra reminds us how tough it is for working mothers in the US, who have no guarantees of paid time off to care for an infant or a sick child:
While a handful of states, like California, offer modest paid maternal leave, there’s no federal guarantee of either paid maternal or paternal leave. We make mothers choose between spending a month with their newborn child or keeping a roof over their child’s head. That’s not how it looks in countries that value the work mothers do.
 The hypocrisy of these folks and their robber baron allies is absolutely stunning.

More Tuesday Male Beauty

David Benham Explains His "Love" For Gays By Claiming Gays Are Led By Satan

The anti-gay Benham brothers - who many mistake for looking like a gay couple.
Sometimes anti-gay bigots turn out to unwittingly be the best arguments in favor of LGBT equality.  For example, the late Fred Phelps probably opened more hearts and minds to gay acceptance that he ever contemplated.  And in the process Phelps likewise turned countless members of the Millennial generation against Christianity entirely.  With Phelps dead and gone, the Benham brothers seem to be stepping up to take on at least a part of Phelps' mantle of hate and bigotry.  Instead of shutting their mouths after being cut loose by HGTV, the Benhams seem hell bent on making the case as to why HGTV was smart to drop them and distance itself from these raging bigots as fast as possible.  Right Wing Watch, which first exposed the Benham brothers for the vile bigots that they are reports on their latest case of verbal diarrhea that underscores the correctness of HGTV's action.  Here are excerpts:
It has now been one week since we first wrote a post highlighting the anti-gay and anti-choice activism of David Benham, who was slated to host a reality TV show on HGTV with his twin brother Jason. After HGTV announced that it would not move forward with the brothers' planned reality show, the Benhams hit the conservative media circuit to claim they were the victims of a "smear campaign" filled with "complete lies,"  though neither the Benhams nor anyone else has actually bothered to explain how anything we originally reported about them was in any way false.

The bulk of the defense offered for the last week by David and Jason Benham of their past activism has been that they do not hate gay people but only hate "homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation,"which is pretty much the defense offered by most of the anti-gay bigots we monitor on this blog. David Benham previously alleged that the "homosexual agenda," along with abortion rights and Islam, is controlled by "demonic forces and agendas."

Last night, they took that talking point onto Glenn Beck's television program where they repeatedly asserted that they are not at war with gay people, but are rather engaged in a spiritual war against Satan and demonic forces that are out to silence Christianity.

David added that, as Christians, they are "called to restrain evil so that good may flourish" and that is the role they are trying to play in America by taking a stand against the "demonic agenda to suppress the truth.
As past events have proven, often the loudest homophobes are those who are in reality self-loathing closet cases.  In the case of the Benhams, they doth protest way, way too much in my book