Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Segregation, Not Abortion Formed the Religious Right

Jerry Falwell got his start fighting for segregation - Getty Images
I often note that most of the anti-gay "family values" organizations also have a strong undercurrent of racism, with many of the self-anointed leaders descended from active segregationists.  Indeed, Tony Perkins at Family Research Council has documented dealings with the KKK and has spoken at white supremacist gatherings.   These people only care about minorities, especially blacks, when it comes to suckering them into doing the bidding of the lily white family vales crowd.  Here in Virginia, one sees The Family Foundation play black pastors as if they were trained circus dogs.  A piece in Slate makes the case that what really caused the coalescent of the Religious Right wasn't a reaction to Roe v. Wade, but instead support for segregation and the Jim Crow laws. In Virginia during "Massive Resistance", many of the schools that whites fled to were so-called Christian academies, many of which still flourish today.  Here are excerpts from the Slate article:
The modern religious right formed, practically overnight, as a rapid response to the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade. Or, at least, that's how the story goes. The reality, Randall Balmer, a Dartmouth professor writing for Politico Magazine, says, is actually a little less savory to 21st century Americans: The religious right, who liked to call themselves the "moral majority" at the time, actually organized around fighting to protect Christian schools from being desegregated. It wasn't Roe v. Wade that woke the sleeping dragon of the evangelical vote. It was Green v. Kennedy, a 1970 decision stripping tax-exempt status from "segregation academies"—private Christian schools that were set up in response to Brown v. Board of Education, where the practice of barring black students continued.

Desegregation, however, was a different issue altogether. Anger about forced desegregation of private schools galvanized conservative Christians. Bob Jones University stalled and resisted admitting black students, forcing the IRS to strip its tax exempt status in 1976, an event that spurred evangelical leaders to action. Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich, two conservative activists who had been seeking a way to marshal evangelicals into a Republican voting bloc, pounced. Balmer writes:
Weyrich saw that he had the beginnings of a conservative political movement, which is why, several years into President Jimmy Carter’s term, he and other leaders of the nascent religious right blamed the Democratic president for the IRS actions against segregated schools—even though the policy was mandated by Nixon, and Bob Jones University had lost its tax exemption a year and a day before Carter was inaugurated as president. Falwell, Weyrich and others were undeterred by the niceties of facts. In their determination to elect a conservative, they would do anything to deny a Democrat, even a fellow evangelical like Carter, another term in the White House.
The argument they used to defend school segregation will sound familiar to anyone following the lawsuits against mandatory contraception coverage in health insurance plans or the battles over whether businesses have a right to refuse gay customers: "religious freedom."

How did abortion eclipse pro-segregation as the rallying cause of the evangelical right? Balmer argues that Weyrich, in particular, was a sharp enough political thinker to realize that pro-segregation sentiment was enough to get the ball rolling, "but they needed a different issue if they wanted to mobilize evangelical voters on a large scale." They took their new coalition of evangelicals and pointed them in the direction of fighting abortion. The strategy worked.

[T]here was one other shift in the public consciousness going on at the time. The "Stop ERA" campaign, headed up by Christian right leader Phyllis Schlafly to kill the Equal Rights Amendment banning sex discrimination, got moving in 1972. By the time male Christian conservative leaders like Weyrich and Falwell decided to make abortion a centerpiece issue, Schlafly had done the yeoman's work of convincing huge numbers of evangelical Christians that feminists were a threat to the very fabric of society. With hostility to women's equality rising, making the anti-abortion pitch was probably much, much easier. 
Balmer notes at the top of his piece that it's common for anti-choicers to compare themselves to abolitionists. Once you know the pro-segregationist history of the religious right, however, it becomes clear that this comparison is not only obnoxious, but offensive. 
The bottom line?  Your Christian conservatives are not the nice people they pretend to be.  The truth is something quite different.

Colorado: Civil Rights Commission Finds Bakery Owner Discriminated Against Gays

Yet another new "Christian martyr" story will be sweeping wingnut land in the wake of a ruling by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission which affirmed the finding that a bakery that refused to provide services to a gay couple had violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.  As noted many times before on this blog, the Christofascists believe they are above the law and think they should be free to discriminate against anyone who doesn't conform to their feigned "deeply held religious beliefs."  Bakery owner, Jack Phillips (pictured above) is whining that he will close his business before he will provide services to gays.  The mindset is little different that that of Germans in Hitler's Germany who refused to provide services to Jews.  Hate and discrimination are still hate and discrimination no matter how one tries to dress it up in the cloak of religious belief.  Here are highlights from Andy Towle:

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission has rejected a Denver-area bakery owner’s appeal of an judge’s earlier ruling that the bakery owner, Jack Phillips, “unlawfully discriminated against a gay couple by refusing to sell them a wedding cake” last July.

The commission affirmed the prior ruling that found Phillips in violation of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. The commission also ordered a change of policy, staff training, and quarterly reporting to confirm that the bakery is not turning away customers due to sexual orientation.

Said Paula Greisen of King and Griessen LLP, which represents the gay couple as cooperating counsel with the ACLU of Colorado: “Everyone who shops in our stores and conducts business in our state should be treated with equality and dignity. That’s what this ruling was about today.”

Phillips has pledged to close his cake shop if forced to bake a gay wedding cake.

Why theGOP Attracts Provocateurs, Faux Martyrs, and Grifters

Phil Robertson speaks during the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 29, 2014, in New Orleans.
The Democratic Party is not without its problems and scandals, but it seems to have nowhere near the number of greed driven, hypocritical, tawdry political whore types that seem to swarm around the GOP, be it anti-gay politicians caught soliciting gay sex or faux martyrs who claim to be the victims of liberals even as they milk the gullible for as much money as they can shake lose.  What is it about the Christofascists, Tea Party crowd and GOP business types (other than the fact that the first two categories tend to be insane) that generates such people?  A piece in Salon looks at the phenomenon.  Personally, I attribute much of the problem to coincide with the rise of the Christofascists and white supremacists within the GOP.   Religious extremism, the rejection of objective reality and racial based hatred are now main stream within the GOP.  Here are highlights:
The Republican Party has a lot of problems, and if there’s one that doesn’t get enough attention, it’s the party’s broad appeal to provocateurs, faux martyrs, and grifters. Just look at the speakers list for the Republican Leadership Conference, which began on Thursday. There’s Donald Trump, the man who made “birtherism” a national cause; Herman Cain, whose presidential run was a glorified book tour; Dinesh D’Souza, who just pleaded guilty to a felony campaign finance violation, and Phil Robertson, the Duck Dynasty star who—like Cliven Bundy—believes black Americans were better off under racist oppression.

Robertson became a conservative hero. Of course, the main difference is that Robertson [as opposed to Cliven Bundy] got in trouble for his views on gays. “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he said.

On the right, this language isn’t beyond the pale. Or at least, it’s seen as a matter of religious expression, not bigotry. As such, conservatives defended Robertson as a victim of political correctness and religious intolerance. At National Review, Mark Steyn compared anti-Robertson activists to Soviet totalitarians . . .

If all of this sat in equal proportion to serious policymaking, it wouldn’t be a big deal. Annoying for liberals, but not a cause for concern. Unfortunately, in our world, the energy of the conservative movement—and thus the Republican Party—is geared toward these people. If you want money and attention, you could do worse than become a conservative provocateur. Right-wing resentment—stoked by impossible promises and harnessed through donations—built a fortune for Glenn Beck, a political career for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and a burgeoning media empire for the late Andrew Breitbart.

[I]t’s hard not to see the whole operation as a perpetual swindle. Take the Affordable Care Act. With the re-election of President Obama, odds of repeal were slim-to-none. But rather than abandon the call for Obamacare repeal, conservative groups—and their allies in Congress—pushed further. Not because they thought it could happen, but because it was lucrative. As Robert Costa described for National Review at the time, “Business has boomed since the push to defund Obamacare caught on. Conservative activists are lighting up social media, donations are pouring in, and e-mail lists are growing.”

Every political movement has its opportunists, and there’s no doubt the Democratic Party has its share of grifters. But MSNBC doesn’t devote its commercial programming to selling gold, and failed Democrats aren’t running for president to drive their book sales. Simply put, there’s a huge market for grift on the right, and—aside from the ethics of it all—it’s a huge problem for the GOP.

[T]he election of Barack Obama in 2008 turned a lot of conservatives into easy marks for the worst provocateurs, who made millions with wild rumors and apocalyptic predictions. In turn, there’s a generation of Republican politicians who aren’t as interested in policy as they are in building clips for a gig on Fox News.

If Republicans want to avoid this for the next election cycle, they should ignore the Cains and D’Souzas of American politics. After all, the only thing worse than listening to grifters is encouraging them.

The Evolving World of Gay Travel

Image by Tim O'Brien
Even before the Great Recession marketing to gay travelers was a growing niche in the tourism industry.  Now, with 19 states allowing full same sex marriage and perhaps 11 others on the way to that status within the next year to year and a half, more and more in the travel industries have awakened to the reality that the LGBT community is one that one wants to court.  When we travel, statistically we stay longer and spend more money.  Among the husband and my circle of friends, we DO travel a good deal (in September, we are going to Venice and then will take a cruise to the Greek Islands) and are not going to go to destinations that are not gay friendly - hence why New York City, Key West and Washington, DC, are favored domestic destinations.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the changing travel scene and one has to wonder when cities in Hampton Roads - especially Virginia Beach - are going to wake up to the fact that they are missing the boat an a significant travel niche.  Obviously, not all in the LGBT community are wealthy - the exact opposite is often the case - but I think we are more discerning of what we want and expect when we travel. Here are article excerpts:
In the 1970s gay tours took men rafting in the Grand Canyon and to Rio de Janeiro for Carnival. Gay hotels began opening in Key West, Fla. And destinations like Provincetown, Mass., were creating some of the first marketing to gay and lesbian travelers.

Today, there are tours spanning the globe not only for gay men, but also for lesbian, bisexual and transgender travelers and their children. Major hotel chains like Hilton and Marriott have dedicated L.G.B.T. microsites and vacation packages. And same-sex marriage laws are transforming cities into travel destinations, with tourism boards and hotels sponsoring L.G.B.T. events and funding advertising campaigns with taglines like Las Vegas’s “Everyone’s welcome. Even straight people.” 

“Having gay marriage passed in so many states has made a big difference,” said Robert Adams, editorial director of Passport magazine, which has an audience of mostly affluent gay male travelers. “People feel they can go someplace and be themselves.” 

The number of places where L.G.B.T. travelers can be themselves has grown exponentially from the pre-Stonewall refuges. Sure, there are plenty of cruises and tours that specifically cater to gay travelers. But the gay vacation that once existed out of necessity is now often simply a vacation — be it a routine family getaway, a destination wedding or a romantic weekend.

[M]edium-size cities like St. Louis, Rochester and, in Florida, St. Petersburg are emerging as regional destinations. Countries in Latin America such as Argentina and Uruguay are opening up thanks to new gay-rights laws. 

“Now you’re seeing competition from all-size destinations and hotel groups wanting a piece of the pie. L.G.B.T. travelers have more options now than just the big urban centers.”Certainly, to define any traveler by his or her sexuality is to view that person through a narrow lens. Countless factors shape travel interests including, but hardly limited to, age, gender, race, socioeconomic status and, of course, personal taste.

[T]he quest for the so-called “pink dollar” has accelerated — pleasing some industry veterans and putting off others — amid reports about how potentially lucrative gay travel is and could be.

Just how lucrative is difficult to quantify. Community Marketing has estimated that the annual economic impact of L.G.B.T. travelers is already about $70 billion a year in the United States.

“This is such a high-traveling, high-spending population,” said Andrew Flack, vice president for product marketing and customer insights of Hilton Worldwide, adding that in the United States a higher percentage of L.G.B.T. travelers have passports than the general travel population.

One boost to gay tourism, travel industry experts say, is same-sex marriage. In New York City alone, the economic impact of the first year of gay marriage was $259.5 million plus $16.5 million in local tax and fee revenues, according to NYC & Company, the city’s marketing and tourism organization. 

And the marriage and honeymoon business is still in its infancy. . . . Nonetheless, hotels are preparing for an influx of same-sex ceremonies.

When it comes to hotels, some boutique brands, like Kimpton, have already established themselves in the L.G.B.T. market. Now major hotel groups are working to do the same. Over the last few years Marriott and Hilton have created advertisements with gay and lesbian travelers in mind.  . . . . Sophisticated brands and locations are evolving beyond images of rainbow flags and shirtless men, Mr. Adams said, creating ads that, while showing same-sex couples, look like the rest of the brand’s advertising. “It’s great to see a couple together or a family together,” he said. “Don’t throw in every logo.”

Hilton . . .  is expanding its “Stay Hilton. Go Out” L.G.B.T. vacation campaign, which it introduced in 2012. The campaign includes a vacation package (with high-speed Internet and a one-year digital subscription to Out magazine) at more than 460 Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Hilton Grand Vacations properties around the world. The Go Out program also has a landing page on with information about travel and promotions.

[I]ndustry professionals say there continues to be interest in gay-related tours and events, particularly among older travelers who grew up in a time of widespread discrimination.

“I think there’s always going to be a demand for that,” said Ms. Johns, “even though we are seeing progress in equal rights legislation.” That is especially true for people who take only one or two big trips a year or who live in places that are not welcoming.

To be considered L.G.B.T.-friendly, a destination usually has a local gay community with which visitors can connect, businesses with nondiscrimination polices and diversity training, and an overall welcoming feel.
As I said, the cities of Hampton Roads are missing out.  For years now I have been telling the City of Hampton that is tourism office needs to join the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association.  To date my advice has been ignored.

Friday, May 30, 2014

More Friday Male Beauty

Chrysler Joins Push for LGBT Non-Discrimination Protections

Based on Chrysler's announcement that it is joining with  Michigan's two largest regional chambers of commerce to push for expanded non-discrimination protections for LGBT Michigan citizens, it is safe to predict that the hate group American Family Association and its putative One Million Bitches Moms will be launching a boycott against the auto manufacturer.  Yet, Chrysler is not apologizing and has stated that expanded non-discrimination protections for LGBT citizens are a business issue. Just as noted many times on this blog, the lack of such protections impedes the ability of businesses, cities and states to attract the best and brightest talent.   Here are highlights from Gay South Florida:

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. -- Chrysler and Michigan's two largest regional chambers of commerce on Thursday joined a business-backed push for an update of state law to prohibit discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity, an issue Gov. Rick Snyder said lawmakers should consider later this year.

"It's a business issue," said Rick Baker, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. "We've had companies in our area express concern about their ability to attract and retain talent. We wanted to address their concerns ... and create a climate where everyone feels welcome in Michigan."

The announcement at the Detroit Regional Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference was no accident. The annual gathering attracts more than 1,500 of the state's top business, political and civic leaders, and Snyder — in his strongest comments to date — said he opposes discrimination and urged legislators to consider the issue later this year.

Read more here:

Under Michigan law, it is illegal to discriminate based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status or marital status. Efforts to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list have stalled because of Republicans' concerns about infringing on employers' religious freedom.

Read more here:

Earlier this month, AT&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield and other companies launched the coalition to push for adding legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Those who signed on Thursday on Mackinac Island also include Kellogg, Pfizer and other businesses.

Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber, said it is time to address the law that people view as discriminatory.

"We know that the Legislature needs to hear from the business community to push this issue up to the top," he said. "We plan on spending the summer talking to them a lot on the issue, and we're hopeful that come fall we'll be able to take it up and get the issue off the table."
Sadly, no matter how much common sense LGBT employment protections make from a business point of view, the Christofascist will never willingly support them because an inherent part of the Christofascist mindset is a perverse sick need to condemn and discriminate against others.   Simply put, they are not nice or decent people.

Read more here:

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Presidential Proclamation: LGBT Pride Month

Brace yourself for more spittle flecked hysteria from the Christofascists and claims that Barack Obama is nothing less than demonic.  Why?  Because Barack Obama has signed a presidential proclamation designating June as LGBT Pride Month.   Worse yet, at least in the minds of the "godly Christian" folk is that Obama acknowledges the struggles faced by LGBT Americans and expresses his support for LGBT equality.  Joe My God provides highlights from the proclamation:
"As progress spreads from State to State, as justice is delivered in the courtroom, and as more of our fellow Americans are treated with dignity and respect -- our Nation becomes not only more accepting, but more equal as well. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, we celebrate victories that have affirmed freedom and fairness, and we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains.

"Last year, supporters of equality celebrated the Supreme Court's decision to strike down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, a ruling which, at long last, gave loving, committed families the respect and legal protections they deserve. In keeping with this decision, my Administration is extending family and spousal benefits -- from immigration benefits to military family benefits -- to legally married same-sex couples.

"My Administration proudly stands alongside all those who fight for LGBT rights. Here at home, we have strengthened laws against violence toward LGBT Americans, taken action to prevent bullying and harassment, and prohibited discrimination in housing and hospitals. Despite this progress, LGBT workers in too many States can be fired just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; I continue to call on the Congress to correct this injustice by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

"This month, as we mark 45 years since the patrons of the Stonewall Inn defied an unjust policy and awakened a nascent movement, let us honor every brave leader who stood up, sat in, and came out, as well as the allies who supported them along the way. Following their example, let each of us speak for tolerance, justice, and dignity -- because if hearts and minds continue to change over time, laws will too.

"NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2014 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.

"IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth." - Barack Obama.
Of course, if Obama was serious about ENDA protections, he would sign an ENDA executive order.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Hate Group American Family Association: Don't Open Letters Bearing Harvey Milk Stamp

It is with good reason that the American Family Association was designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center: it disseminates an endless stream of deliberate anti-gay lies, cites utterly discredited "research" regularly and in general seeks to whip up homophobia on a minute by minute basis.  It also seeks to retaliate against businesses that are gay friendly and/or market to the LGBT community.  With the U.S. Postal System's release of a stamp honoring Harvey Milk, the spittle is flying fast and furiously at AFA headquarters and cretinous AFA followers are being urged to reject mail if it bears a Harvey Milk stamp.  Not to be out done, KKK loving Tony Perkins of Family Research Council joined the hate fest.  Right Wing Watch has details on the raging batshitery.  Here are excerpts:

Incensed by the release of a postage stamp honoring Harvey Milk, the American Family Association is urging its members not only to avoid purchasing the stamp…but to refuse to accept or open any letter or package postmarked with one.

1. Refuse to accept the Harvey Milk stamp if offered by your local post office. Instead, ask for a stamp of the United States flag.

2. Refuse to accept mail at your home or business if it is postmarked with the Harvey Milk stamp. Simply write 'Return to Sender" on the envelope and tell your postman you won't accept it.

In his daily email alert yesterday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins also attacked the Obama administration for issuing the stamp, linking the move to the imprisonment of a Sudanese mother who is facing the death penalty for her conversion to Christianity: “[T]he Obama administration -- which had more than enough time to throw a party in honor of homosexual activist Harvey Milk -- hasn't had a spare second to demand the freedom of two of America’s youngest citizens.”

FRC also marked the occasion by republishing a 2009 article by senior fellow Peter Sprigg attacking Milk:

Pro-homosexual activists will describe the issue as one of identity – “who they are.” But the real issue is one of behavior – what they do. And what Harvey Milk (like other homosexual activists) wanted was not only the freedom to engage in homosexual sex, but the right to do so without ever being criticized. Milk told one audience that “it is madness to … be ashamed of the sexual act, the act that conceived you. …” Yet homosexual acts never conceived anyone, which is what separates them, undeniably, from heterosexual acts.

Since Harvey Milk died from an assassin’s bullet, over a quarter million American men have died of AIDS, which they contracted because they had sex with other men. What’s truly “madness” is that someone whose only claim to fame is that they promoted such deadly behavior should be honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

VA Administration Debacle Began Under George W. Bush

Chimperator George W. Bush and Emperor Palpatine Cheney and their allies in the Republican Party were quick to send American military members into battle on fool's errands - many in the Congressional GOP remain more than happy to do so - but when it comes to caring for those wounded in their orchestrated debacles, they lost they eagerness.  Indeed, remember the lack of vehicles with proper armor to protect against IED's?  As Mother Jones reports, the Veterans Administration debacle that the GOP is trying to tie to Barack Obama in fact began under his predecessor Chimperator George W. Bush.  In addition, the Congressional Republicans have been only too happy to cut VA funding.  Here are story highlights:

[A]ccording to VA inspector general reports and other documents that have gone overlooked in the current firestorm, federal officials knew about the scheme at the heart of the scandal—falsifying VA records to cover up treatment delays—years before Obama became president. VA officials first learned of the problems in 2005, when George W. Bush was entering his second term, and the problems went unfixed for the duration of his presidency.

The underlying issues date back even further. In 1995, as part of a broader overhaul, the VA began pressing clinics to cut wait times for new patient appointments to 30 days. But there was no system for tracking which facilities were meeting this target until 2002, when the VA introduced electronic waiting lists to keep tabs on patients who couldn't be seen within a month. Managers who slashed wait times were given bonuses and other perks. This created an incentive to game the system, especially after veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars began flooding into VA clinics and straining their already stretched resources.

The efforts to mask delays burst into public view last month, when CNN reported that at least 40 patients—many of whom never made it onto electronic waiting lists—had died while awaiting care from the VA system in Phoenix.

[A]ccusations are eerily similar to the findings of a 2005 VA inspector general's report that documented a raft of violations—including the widespread use of paper lists in place of the electronic ones to hide the glut of veterans awaiting appointments.

Two years later, another inspector general audit found that the VA had failed to act on these recommendations and that schedulers were still using paper lists and other tactics to mask the backlogs.

After the 2007 audit, the inspector general's office continued to field complaints about schedulers cooking the books. In 2008, then-Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), the chairman of the Senate Committee of Veteran Affairs, asked the inspector general to investigate allegations that supervisors at VA facilities in North Florida and South Georgia were "manipulating their waiting list." The IG later received an anonymous tip alleging that managers in the Portland VA hospital were instructing employees "to use paper wait lists to hide the access problems," which had created a backlog of more than 3,500 patients in one clinic alone.

Politicians and pundits have seized on this as evidence that the Obama administration dropped the ball. And Robert Petzel, the undersecretary of health for Veterans Affairs, was forced to step down after being confronted with the memo during a congressional hearing earlier this month. But the 2010 memo shows that the VA took some steps to solve the problem. Schoenhard called on VA network directors across the country to take "immediate action" to "identify and eliminate" the gaming strategies and offered detailed instructions for detecting these schemes, which he warned "will not be tolerated."

Other veterans organizations, meanwhile, are wary of pinning blame on a single official or administration. "This is not a new problem," says Rick Weidman, executive director of government affairs at Vietnam Veterans of America. "But the media latched onto the idea of 'secret lists' and suddenly it exploded. Instead of buying into the hysteria and finger pointing, we should be addressing root problems."

Will "Brand Loyalty" Hold the Senate for the Democrats?

Image by Luke Shuman
With a number of tight Senate races around the country some are now contending that the political equivalent to brand loyalty may be what helps the Democrats fend off the GOP attempt to take control of the U.S. Senate.   Four races in particular - Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia and Louisiana - have Democrats running candidates from local state political dynasties where name recognition could make the difference with undecided voters.  Added to this is the better brand image the Democrats hold over the GOP brand best known for being the party of "no" and its reverse Robin Hood policies of stealing from the poor to give to the rich.  Here are highlights from a piece in the New York Times:
Three business school professors recently set out to discover what accounts for regional differences in product choices by consumers.

Although about 60 percent of it had to do with regional sales and marketing, a startling 40 percent stemmed from what they described in The American Economic Review as “persistent brand preferences.” Past experiences with the product or memories of family and friends using it shaped their buying decisions.

Democrats’ hopes of holding the Senate this fall rest significantly on the political equivalent of that “brand capital.” In four states that usually lean Republican, Democrats will be running candidates from families with multigenerational records of political success — the Pryors of Arkansas, the Landrieus of Louisiana, the Begiches of Alaska and the Nunns of Georgia. If at least two of the four legacy candidates can eke out victories, the Democrats’ chances of holding the Senate will be better than even.

Already, both parties are applying the lessons of brand loyalty from the corporate world. The Democratic candidates are going to great lengths to remind voters of the candidates’ political legacies.

[I]n an era when voters so often grow disenchanted with those they send to Washington, the easy familiarity of a political dynasty could tip a close race.

“It’s not trivial,” the Democratic pollster Mark Mellman said. “When you go to McDonald’s, you know what kind of hamburger you’re going to get. With a Landrieu or Pryor or Begich, you have some real idea of what you’re getting. And it’s something you like.”

National polls show the Democratic Party itself holds a brand advantage, with higher positive and lower negative ratings than Republicans. But political geography makes that broad measure mostly irrelevant to the fight for the Senate.

Democratic legacy candidates have not been shy about trying to offset their disadvantages by capitalizing on family reputations.

Matthew Gentzkow of the University of Chicago pointed to at least one factor that’s also relevant to political campaigns: the “stock of advertising exposure” that accumulates over the years for individual consumers.

For Republicans this year, it won’t be easy to take out Senator Landrieu, Senator Pryor or both. Counting their own campaigns as well as those of her brother and his father, the Landrieus and the Pryors have appeared on fall statewide ballots in 15 elections over the last 40 years.
None have lost yet.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

More Thursday Male Beauty

Counterterroriam Czar: Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld All Committed War Crimes

War Crimes Trial - Nuremberg

I have long argued that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney - who is a real dick - and Donald Rumsfeld committed war crimes and knowingly violated the Geneva Conventions.  Roughly 70 years ago, the United States and its allies tried - and in some cases executed - German and Japanese military and political leaders who committed similar breaches of the Geneva Convention and/or authorized the use of torture.  Now, George W. Bush’s own former top counter terrorism czar has said that he is convinced that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld all committed war crimes during the Iraq war. If America wants to be taken seriously on the issue of human rights and the rule of law, there is no option but to put these three heinous men on trial.  Sadly, Barack Obama was too weak kneed to push for this back in 2009.  As a result we continue to see Cheney, a Darth Vader clone if there ever was one, spewing lies and bullshit on news shows.  The man should be behind bars - if not dead from execution for the war crimes he masterminded and authorized.   Here are highlights from The Raw Story:
President George W. Bush’s former top counterterrorism official said this week that he is convinced that Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld all committed war crimes during the Iraq war. 

In an interview that will air in full next week, Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman asked former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke if “President Bush should be brought up on war crimes [charges], and Vice President Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, for the attack on Iraq.”

“I think things that they authorized probably fall within the area of war crimes,” Clarke agreed. “Whether that would be productive or not, I think, is a discussion we could all have.”

“But we have established procedures now with the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where people who take actions as serving presidents or prime ministers of countries have been indicted and have been tried. So the precedent is there to do that sort of thing,” he pointed out. “And I think we need to ask ourselves whether or not it would be useful to do that in the case of members of the Bush administration.”

“It’s clear that things that the Bush administration did — in my mind, at least, it’s clear that some of the things they did were war crimes.”

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, has also said that he would be willing to testify in a war crimes trial against Bush administration officials.
Cheney in particular strikes me as one of the most amoral individuals one might encounter.  Sadly, Bush is an idiot who I suspect Cheney manipulated like a empty headed puppet.  He should NEVER have been president. Everyday that Cheney walks free without facing a trial for his misdeeds  is an insult to the Americans he sent to their deaths not to mention the thousands and thousands of Iraqis tortured or needlessly killed in a war that had no justification.  Thankfully, at least one nation has convicted them in absentia for war crimes.  

Study: Gay Dads Develop Brain Patterns Of Both Mothers And Fathers

Once again, scientific knowledge is proving to be the number one enemy of the Christofascists and their artificial hate and fear based fantasy world.  Now, a new study suggests that gay fathers develop the brain patterns found in both heterosexual mothers and fathers.  So much for the disingenuous Christofascist cry that children need a mother and a father even though other studies show that two committed parents regardless of gender are the real key to child success.  Think Progress looks at the findings of this newest study:
Opponents of marriage equality claim that same-sex couples should be banned from marrying because children deserve both a mother and a father, but a new study suggests otherwise. Researchers at Bar-Ilan University in Israel compared the brain scans of new moms, new straight dads, and new gay dads, and found that the gay dads developed brain patterns that resemble both mothers and fathers.

In the study, the mothers, who played a primary caregiver role for their children, demonstrated heightened activity in their brain’s emotion-processing regions when watching their children. The straight fathers, playing a traditional secondary parenting role, exhibited increased cognitive activity in the brain, demonstrating awareness of what their children’s cries and cues were trying to communicate. But the gay fathers demonstrated both the mothers’ emotional and fathers’ cognitive brain activity, suggesting that they were, at least according to their brains, operating like both mothers and fathers. This was further evident given that the gay fathers exhibited extra communication between the two brain structures, suggesting that playing both parenting roles integrated both parenting roles into one.

Lead researcher Ruth Feldman explained that “fathers’ brains are very plastic,” and when two fathers are co-parenting, “their brains must recruit both networks, the emotional and cognitive, for optimal parenting.”

Plenty of previous studies have demonstrated that the children of same-sex parents fare just as well as their peers raised by different-sex parents, but this may be one of the first studies to provide an explanation as to why. It also directly challenges the primary rhetoric used by marriage equality opponents.

The Ruth Institute, a [hate group and] former affiliate of NOM, has demanded that if sex is irrelevant to parenting, “the burden of proof should be on those who make this strong, non-intuitive claim.”

The claim now does have evidence to support it, and the burden is on opponents to consider it.