Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday Male Beauty

Salt Lake City Tribune Endorses Obama

It is more than a little bit interesting that in states where he is best known - i.e., Massachusetts where he was governor, and Utah where he worked to save the Olympic Games - Mitt Romney is not overly popular.  Indeed, in Massachusetts, Obama is leading him by double digits.  Now, the Salt Lake City Tribune has come out and formally endorsed Barack Obama for re-election over Romney.  That those who know him best are running in the other direction ought to make some folks open their eyes.  Or at least stop chugging down the Kool-Aid quite so rapidly.  Among the reasons cited for rejecting Romney are his countless position changes and his refusal to offer meaningful specifics of any of his supposed plans if elected.  Here are highlights from the Tribune's endorsement of Obama:
Nowhere has Mitt Romney’s pursuit of the presidency been more warmly welcomed or closely followed than here in Utah. The Republican nominee’s political and religious pedigrees, his adeptly bipartisan governorship of a Democratic state, and his head for business and the bottom line all inspire admiration and hope in our largely Mormon, Republican, business-friendly state.

But it was Romney’s singular role in rescuing Utah’s organization of the 2002 Olympics from a cesspool of scandal . . . .  Romney managed to save the state from ignominy, turning the extravaganza into a showcase for the matchless landscapes, volunteerism and efficiency that told the world what is best and most beautiful about Utah and its people.

Sadly, it is not the only Romney, as his campaign for the White House has made abundantly clear, first in his servile courtship of the tea party in order to win the nomination, and now as the party’s shape-shifting nominee. From his embrace of the party’s radical right wing, to subsequent portrayals of himself as a moderate champion of the middle class, Romney has raised the most frequently asked question of the campaign: "Who is this guy, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?"

The evidence suggests no clear answer, or at least one that would survive Romney’s next speech or sound bite. Politicians routinely tailor their words to suit an audience. Romney, though, is shameless, lavishing vastly diverse audiences with words, any words, they would trade their votes to hear.
More troubling, Romney has repeatedly refused to share specifics of his radical plan to simultaneously reduce the debt, get rid of Obamacare (or, as he now says, only part of it), make a voucher program of Medicare, slash taxes and spending, and thereby create millions of new jobs.

If this portrait of a Romney willing to say anything to get elected seems harsh, we need only revisit his branding of 47 percent of Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, yet feel victimized and entitled to government assistance. His job, he told a group of wealthy donors, "is not to worry about those people.

And what of the president Romney would replace? For four years, President Barack Obama has attempted, with varying degrees of success, to pull the nation out of its worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression, a deepening crisis he inherited the day he took office.

In the first months of his presidency, Obama acted decisively to stimulate the economy. His leadership was essential to passage of the badly needed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Though Republicans criticize the stimulus for failing to create jobs, it clearly helped stop the hemorrhaging of public sector jobs. The Utah Legislature used hundreds of millions in stimulus funds to plug holes in the state’s budget.

The president also acted wisely to bail out the auto industry, which has since come roaring back. Romney, in so many words, said the carmakers should sink if they can’t swim.

Obama’s foreign policy record is perhaps his strongest suit, especially compared to Romney’s bellicose posture toward Russia and China and his inflammatory rhetoric regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

In considering which candidate to endorse, The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board had hoped that Romney would exhibit the same talents for organization, pragmatic problem solving and inspired leadership that he displayed here more than a decade ago. Instead, we have watched him morph into a friend of the far right, then tack toward the center with breathtaking aplomb. Through a pair of presidential debates, Romney’s domestic agenda remains bereft of detail and worthy of mistrust.

Therefore, our endorsement must go to the incumbent, a competent leader who, against tough odds, has guided the country through catastrophe and set a course that, while rocky, is pointing toward a brighter day. The president has earned a second term. Romney, in whatever guise, does not deserve a first.

OUCH!!!  Candidly, the Tribune's reasoning ought to make sense to every rational voter who cares about the nation and the common good.  Sadly, many cannot see what the Tribune so well describes and I have to wonder what motivates this blindness.  Is it racism? Is it greed and a desire to pay less in taxes no matter the consequence to the nation or others? Is it religious extremism and bigotry that cannot accept a president who see all of us as citizens whether we be black or white, gay or straight, Christian or non-Christian, etc.?   Is it the fear that white privilege is slowly fading away?  Whatever it is, I do not believe it stems from anything good or honorable. 

Cuccinelli Silent on Arrest of GOP Official Who Destroyed Voter Registration Documents

To hear Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli and other GOP elected officials whine and bloviate about supposed election fraud - the excuse behind all of the GOP efforts to disenfranchise voters - one would think that Mr. Kookinelli would immediately jump up and down and try to spearhead an investigation in the wake the arrest of a campaign official in Virginia for seeking to destroy completed voter registration forms. After all, Kookinelli has shown himself to be only too willing to launch himself into investigating things and people - especially academic types - who don't subscribe to Kookinelli's crazed views.  But, oops!  There's one tiny problem: the man arrested is a Republican and has ties to the national GOP.  That's right, the RNC itself.  And what has Cuccinelli done?  Nothing to date.  An article in Salon looks at the arrest in the context of other GOP voter registration schemes to keep Democrat leaning voters from voting.  Here are excerpts:
A man originally reported to have been working for the Republican Party of Virginia was arrested by the Rockingham County, Va., Sheriff’s Office on Thursday and charged with attempting to destroy voter registration forms by tossing them into a dumpster behind a shopping center in Harrisonburg, Va.

“Prosecutors charged him with four counts of destruction of voter registration applications, eight counts of failing to disclose voter registration applications and one count of obstruction of justice,” according to a report late Thursday afternoon from TPM’s Ryan Reilly. More charges could be forthcoming, according to officials.

But there is more to the story, as evidence emerges to document that it ties into a still-expanding nationwide GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal that the BRAD BLOG first began reporting in late September, after we’d learned that the Republican Party of Florida had turned in more than 100 allegedly fraudulent and otherwise suspect voter registration forms in Palm Beach County. The story has continued to widen ever since, to a dozen Florida counties and several other states, now including Virginia, and even to the upper-echelons of the Republican Party itself.

The man arrested today was 23-year-old Colin Small of Phoenixville, Pa. As it turns out, he does not only work for the Virginia Republican Party. According to an online profile, he appears to be working for the Republican National Committee and, prior to that, served as an Intern for Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Joseph Tanfani at the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Small was “working as a supervisor as part of a registration operation in eight swing states financed by the Republican National Committee.”

Some of those questionable applications included address changes for existing voters, such that Florida election officials told the BRAD BLOG they worry voters could find themselves disenfranchised come Election Day. In Florida, as in many states, provisional ballots cast at precincts other than where voters are officially registered will not be counted. So changing the addresses on voter registrations without voters’ knowledge is a serious crime with potentially very serious consequences.

If, in fact, Small, or the workers he is said to have supervised, were using the same technique of misrepresenting themselves to voters about being a pollster, rather than being a registration worker, it’s likely he would have been able to glean whether those registrations he was allegedly seen tossing into a dumpster were for Democratic or Republican-leaning voters.

Colin Small - Arrested for Destroying Voter Registration documents.

Romney's Attempt to Politicize the Benghazi Aattacks Bomerangs

While watching the presidential debate on Tuesday night I took some delight when Candy Crowley set the record and Mitt Romney straight on the nature of Barack Obama's statements soon after the horrible attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.  Now, it seems that Romney's transparent political gamesmanship is biting him in the ass even more as CIA documents are released that support the Obama administration's initial reactions and statements on the incident.  All of which underscores Romney shameless willingness to say anything to try to get elected.  A column in the Washington Post looks at how Romney is hopefully going to get his just deserves Here are some highlights:

The Romney campaign may have misfired with its suggestion that statements by President Obama and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice about the Benghazi attack last month weren’t supported by intelligence, according to documents provided by a senior U.S. intelligence official.

“Talking points” prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15, the same day that Rice taped three television appearances, support her description of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate as a reaction to Arab anger about an anti-Muslim video prepared in the United States. According to the CIA account, “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.”

The CIA document went on: “This assessment may change as additional information is collected and analyzed and as currently available information continues to be evaluated.” This may sound like self-protective boilerplate, but it reflects the analysts’ genuine problem interpreting fragments of intercepted conversation, video surveillance and source reports.
The senior intelligence official said the analysts’ judgment was based in part on monitoring of some of the Benghazi attackers, which showed they had been watching the Cairo protests live on television and talking about them before they assaulted the consulate. 

“We believe the timing of the attack was influenced by events in Cairo,” the senior official said, reaffirming the Cairo-Benghazi link.  .  .  .  . “It was a flash mob with weapons,” is how the senior official described the attackers. The mob included members of the Ansar al-Sharia militia, about four members of al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, and members of the Egypt-based Muhammad Jamal network, along with other unarmed looters.

The official said the only major change he would make now in the CIA’s Sept. 15 talking points would be to drop the word “spontaneous” and substitute “opportunistic.” He explained that there apparently was “some pre-coordination but minimal planning.” 

The Benghazi attack produced a swirl of intelligence reporting, some of it contradictory. The Associated Press reported Friday that within 24 hours of the assault, the CIA station chief in Libya cabled headquarters that eyewitnesses said the attack had been carried out by militants. But the analysts evidently didn’t feel that they had any single report that allowed them to make a definitive determination about the nature of the attack.
Ironically, the Sept. 15 talking points that were the basis for Rice’s televised comments were requested by the House intelligence committee. Ideally, the congressional oversight committees would provide bipartisan support for intelligence officials who are probing the attack. But in the heat of the final pre-election weeks, the murky details of what happened in Libya have instead become political assault weapons.

Romney, the GOP and Employment Discrimination

I've been asked at times why gays and the pro-choice movement often seem to team up together.  I tell those who ask the question that the answer is really very simple: we have a common enemy in the Republicans and Christofascists who seek to force their religious beliefs on all Americans be they gay, female, or non-Christian.  

The same situation holds true for gays and women in general.  Both groups face inequality and discrimination in the work place which is a circumstances which is just fine with today's GOP and the Christianists who (i) prefer to see gays fired at will by employers (ii) believe that women should be subordinate to men (and ideally in the home, barefoot and pregnant).   For LGBT Americans the map below shows the reality of employment discrimination largely due to Republican/Christianist anti-gay policies.  And this situation is just fine with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan who - does the GOP party platform - oppose the enactment of employment protections for LGBT Americans such as ENDA at the federal level.  The Center for American Progress quantifies what this equates to:

Click image to enlarge
  • 76,300,000 workers, or 55% of all workers, can be unduly forced into unemployment based on sexual orientation- or gender identity-discrimination

  • 42,044,205 children currently live in a state that has failed to pass a law that would make firing their parent, guardian, or other caretaker illegal

  • In terms of area, 71%of the square mileage in the United States are in states that afford no legal protections for gay and transgender workers

  • 75% of all US counties are in states where it remains legal to fire someone for being gay or transgender under state law
As for women, Romney/Ryan and the GOP oppose equal pay for women performing the same job as men.  While they may dance around the topic and/or seek to avoid answering questions put to them, actions and laudatory words of Mitt Romney tell the real story.  A piece in Think Progress looks at the issue of equal pay for women and the type of Supreme Court Justice a president Romney would appoint.  It should frighten all women (other than those born to wealth and privilege such as Ann "Marie Antoinette" Romney.  Here are excerpts:

The truth, however, is that we do not have to wonder about what Romney’s view on equal pay for women is. We do not even have to wait for his campaign to reveal Romney’s unspoken view on this issue, because the question can be answered in just one picture. This one:

That’s Justice Samuel Alito, the author of the Ledbetter opinion stripping many women of their right to equal pay for equal work. When asked how he would select his Supreme Court appointments if elected president, Romney named Alito, along with Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia and Thomas, as his models. All four of Romney’s model justices voted against Lilly Ledbetter and against equal pay for women.  Romney’s promise to place more Alitos on the Supreme Court matters much more than his claim that he is not currently interested in enacting anti-woman legislation.

Justice Alito’s Ledbetter opinion did not simply reject a woman’s claim that could enforce her right to equal pay, it thumbed its nose at a unanimous Supreme Court precedent and relied, at least in part, upon a precedent that had been overruled by an Act of Congress. The sort of justice that would do this does not care whether Congress enacted a law protecting equal pay for women, and Romney wants to put even more of them on the Supreme Court.  . . . .Until he takes back his promise to give America more Sam Alitos, anything else he says about equality is empty words.

Romney/Ryan: A World of Harm for Women

This blog has noted the dangers posed to women by a Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan victory on November 6th.  As the father of two bright and independent daughters, I can think of few things more frightening than two spoiled, out of touch, devoid of empathy white men and their Christofascist allies making decisions for my daughters - both of who I suspect are far more intelligent than Messrs. Romney and Ryan.  But the danger posed by these men is not a threat to not only women in America but to many women around the world.  The New York Times looks at what a Romney/Ryan victory will mean for women across the globe.  Here are editorial highlights:

If Mitt Romney and his vice-presidential running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, were to win next month’s election, the harm to women’s reproductive rights would extend far beyond the borders of the United States. 

In this country, they would support the recriminalization of abortion with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and they would limit access to contraception and other services. But they have also promised to promote policies abroad that would affect millions of women in the world’s poorest countries, where lack of access to contraception, prenatal care and competent help at childbirth often results in serious illness and thousands of deaths yearly. And the wreckage would begin on Day 1 of a Romney administration. 

Mr. Romney has pledged that, on his first day in the White House, he would reinstate the “global gag rule,” the odious restriction that has been used to deny federal money for family-planning work abroad to any organization that provided information, advice, referrals or services for legal abortion or supported the legalization of abortion, even using its own money. 

The gag rule did nothing to prevent use of government financing for abortions because that was already illegal under federal law. But it badly hampered the work of family-planning groups overseas, forcing clinic closures, reduced services and fee increases. It also violated principles of informed consent by requiring health care providers to withhold medical information from female patients. 

Republican opponents of family planning and women’s reproductive autonomy in Congress have been trying to reinstate the gag rule by legislation. If elected, Mr. Romney has said he would do so with a stroke of the pen. 

Mr. Romney also vows to renew another of George W. Bush’s shameful policies (which was ended by President Obama), which blocked the United States from contributing to the United Nations Population Fund. That fund supports programs in some 150 countries to improve poor women’s reproductive health, reduce infant mortality, end the sexual trafficking of women and prevent the spread of H.I.V.

House Republicans want to cut the nation’s investment in international family planning severely. Mr. Romney’s record of bending to suit the most extreme elements of the Republican Party suggests that he may well go along on this critical issue as well. 

The irony that always strikes me about the Christianists and their political whores like Messrs. Romney and Ryan is that they claim to be "pro-life," seek to stop all abortion and worship unborn fetuses, yet once children are born, they generally do not give a flying f*ck about those very same children as they are left to lives lives in poverty and may die prematurely.  Obviously, if these individuals were truly pro-life their concerns would not cease once a fetus is born.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Male Beauty

Morally Bankrupt Knights of Columbus Leading Funder of Anti-Gay Agenda

Speaking of morally bankrupt organizations, a new report analyzed in the Washington Post confirms that the Knights of Columbus - the supposed pro-family and pro-children organization which has NEVER condemned or challenged the Catholic Church hierarchy for its world wide criminal conspiracy to protect sexual predator priests - is among the largest funding source for anti-gay initiatives around America.  I had previously looked at the K of C's anti-gay activities, but the new report suggest the magnitude of the amounts of money to deprive LGBT Americans of civil rights is far greater than previously suspected.  Here are highlights from the Washington Post piece:

The Knights of Columbus, a wealthy and influential Catholic charitable organization, is a leading funder in the push to make same-sex marriage illegal in four states that have ballot measures on the issue this fall, a coalition of gay rights groups announced Thursday (Oct. 18).

The Knights have contributed millions of dollars directly to several of the campaigns to stop the legalization of gay marriage and have channeled money through other Catholic groups. They also have provided extensive financial support to the National Organization for Marriage, according to the Human Rights Campaign, one of four advocacy groups that compiled the research.

‘’In the aggregate, the (Catholic) church and NOM are the single largest funders of discrimination, responsible for funding nearly 60 percent of all anti-equality efforts in Minnesota, Maryland, Maine and Washington,” HRC said in a statement.

The two groups have spent a combined $2.5 million, the report says, with much of it coming from the Knights, a group that has become increasingly involved in conservative culture war issues under the leadership of Carl Anderson, a longtime Republican activist.

The report, which culled information largely from the Knights’ Internal Revenue Service filings, found that the Knights donated $6.25 million to fight same-sex marriage initiatives between 2005-2012. Close to $2 million of those funds went directly to NOM.

More coverage on the anti-gay efforts of the K of C can be found here where it appears that many millions of dollars have gone to anti-gay efforts even as the Knights solicit money to supposedly fund charitable efforts for those with mental retardation and other afflictions.   Meanwhile, the Knights have their noses stuck so far up the fat asses of the Catholic hierarchy that it's a miracle that they don't suffocate.

Court of Appeals for 2nd Circuit Strikes Down DOMA

Yet another U.S. Court of Appeals has struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional.  This time the ruling was handed down by the 2nd Circuit in the Edie Windsor (pictured above) case that challenged DOMA's discriminatory impact that caused Windsor to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes following the death of her wife in contrast to heterosexual couples who would have paid no tax at all.  I have long maintained that the true sole underlying goal of DOMA and all other anti-gay laws and anti-gay constitutional amendments has been to punish and penalize gays for not subscribing tho Christianist religious beliefs.   All the other supposed reasons behind such laws is frankly bull shit.  It's all about religious belief and nothing else.  Here are highlights from BuzzFeed on yesterday's ruling:

The Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that defines "marriage" and "spouse" under federal law as only pertaining to marriages between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional, the federal appeals court out of New York ruled on Thursday.

The 2-1 opinion of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Edith Windsor's case came just three weeks after the three-judge panel heard oral arguments from the lawyers in the case. It is the second appeals court to hold the law unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court has several requests pending to resolve the constitutionality of the law.

The opinion — authored by the conservative chief judge of the Second Circuit, Dennis Jacobs — is another blow to the House Republican leadership, which has been defending the law since the Obama administration determined that the law is unconstitutional in February 2011.

Beyond striking down the law itself, the most significant development in today's ruling is that the Second Circuit held that laws that classify people based on sexual orientation, like DOMA, should be subjected to a heightened form of scrutiny when courts examine the government's claimed reasons for such laws. The holding that "intermediate scrutiny" applies makes the Second Circuit the first federal appeals court to do so. The First Circuit did not apply heightened scrutiny in its earlier decision striking down DOMA.
The Second Circuit, however, held:
In this case, all four factors justify heightened scrutiny: A) homosexuals as a group have historically endured persecution and discrimination; B) homosexuality has no relation to aptitude or ability to contribute to society; C) homosexuals are a discernible group with non-obvious distinguishing characteristics, especially in the subset of those who enter same-sex marriages; and D) the class remains a politically weakened minority.
Chief Judge Jacobs, appointed to the bench by President George H.W. Bush, was joined in his opinion by Judge Christopher Droney, an Obama appointee. The opinion, at points, is almost strident in its support for its conclusions. As to the history of discrimination, for example, he wrote:
It is easy to conclude that homosexuals have suffered a history of discrimination. Windsor and several amici labor to establish and document this history, but we think it is not much in debate.
Referring to the House Republican leadership, which is defending the law in court because it holds a 3-2 majority on the House's Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, Jacobs wrote:
BLAG argues that, unlike protected classes, homosexuals have not "suffered discrimination for longer than history has been recorded." But whether such discrimination existed in Babylon is neither here nor there. BLAG concedes that homosexuals have endured discrimination in this country since at least the 1920s. Ninety years of discrimination is entirely sufficient to document a "history of discrimination."
As to political powerlessness, one of the more hotly debated point at oral arguments, the majority opinion is again direct:
The question is not whether homosexuals have achieved political successes over the years; they clearly have. The question is whether they have the strength to politically protect themselves from wrongful discrimination.
 There's more, but you get the drift.  The Court basically ripped John Boehner and his cohorts a new one in rejecting their ultimately religious based arguments. 

Boy Scout "Perversion files" Show BSA Leaders Hid Abuse

I noted yesterday that the Los Angeles Times was going to release thousands of pages of documents that showed how the Boy Scouts of America - much like the Catholic Church hierarchy - deliberately covered up the sexual abuse of children and youths even  as they carried on an anti-gay agenda and expelled gay scouts and scout leaders from the organization. As noted before, the hypocrisy and disregard for the safety and well being of those in their charge is shocking.  But sadly, it is all too typical of those who claim to support "Christian values" yet show themselves to be morally bankrupt.  It is another example of the danger of giving special deference to undeserving organizations and ignoring the safety of children and minors.  Here are highlights from the Virginian Pilot on yesterday's document dump:

Again and again, decade after decade, an array of authorities - police chiefs, prosecutors, pastors and Boy Scout leaders among them - quietly shielded scoutmasters and others accused of molesting children, a newly opened trove of confidential papers shows.

At the time, those authorities justified their actions as necessary to protect the good name and good works of Scouting, a pillar of 20th century America. But as detailed in 14,500 pages of secret "perversion files" released Thursday by order of the Oregon Supreme Court, their maneuvers allowed sexual predators to go free while victims suffered in silence.

The files are a window on a much larger collection of documents the Boy Scouts of America began collecting soon after their founding in 1910. The files, kept at Boy Scout headquarters in Texas, consist of memos from local and national Scout executives, handwritten letters from victims and their parents and newspaper clippings about legal cases. The files contain details about proven molesters but also unsubstantiated allegations.

The allegations stretch across the country and to military bases overseas, from a small town in the Adirondacks to downtown Los Angeles.  The confidential files include 23 entries from South Hampton Roads; only seven identify the expelled Scout leaders by name. Six of the cases were prosecuted with one ending in a not guilty verdict. Defendants in the other cases were found guilty or pleaded guilty to charges including sodomy, rape and aggravated sexual battery. The cases date from 1963 to 1999.

[A]t a news conference in Portland on Thursday, attorney Kelly Clark blasted the Boy Scouts for their continuing legal battles to try to keep the full trove of files secret.  "You do not keep secrets hidden about dangers to children," said Clark, who in 2010 won a landmark lawsuit against the Boy Scouts on behalf of a plaintiff who was molested by an assistant scoutmaster in the 1980s.

The Associated Press obtained copies of the files weeks ahead of Thursday's release and conducted an extensive review of them but agreed not to publish the stories until the files were released. Clark was releasing the documents to the public online at; he said the website was operating slowly Thursday because so many people were trying to access it. The Los Angeles Times also documented the cases at

[T]the files also are littered with horrific accounts of alleged pedophiles who were able to continue in scouting because of pressure from community leaders and local Scouts officials.  The files also document other troubling patterns. There is little mention of concern for the welfare of Scouts who were abused by their leaders, or what was done for the victims. But there are numerous documents showing compassion for alleged abusers, who were often sent to psychiatrists or pastors to get help.

It is far past time that the Boy Scouts cease receiving special privileges and deference - and public financial support.  It is also time that BSA leaders involved in the cover ups be criminally prosecuted. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cruise - Day Four: Freeport in the Bahamas

We had another great, relaxing day in the Bahamas and pulled out of Freeport this afternoon (see the photo above and below)  to begin the voyage back to Hampton Roads.  Last night we met a nice gay couple at dinner who live in Hampton, Virginia of all places.  Tomorrow should be a relaxing day at sea.  Meanwhile - knock on wood - no emergencies have cropped up at the law firm, although I have been tending to office e-mail and some work every morning while away.

Virginia Health Commissioner Resigns Over GOP Backed Abortion Regulations

With the 2012 election just weeks away, the resignation of Dr. Karen Remley (pictured at left), Commissioner of the Virginia Board of Health over the anti-abortion regulations forced through by Attorney General Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli, Governor Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell and the GOP extremists in the General Assembly ought to be a wake up call to Virginia's women of what lies ahead for them if Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and George Allen are swept into office.   Never mind that what the GOP extremists and their flat earth religious fanatic supporters at The Family Foundation claim about "abortion clinics."  These operations do much more than perform abortions, including assisting women with contraception and medical issues.  Yet, the GOP and The Family Foundation are out to shut them down completely.  If women in Virginia want to make decisions about their own bodies, they'd best wake up and vote a straight Democrat ticket on November 6th.  Here are highlights from the Virginian Pilot:

Dr. Karen Remley has resigned as Virginia’s Health Commissioner over the adoption of controversial abortion clinic regulations, explaining in a letter to colleagues that “I can no longer in good faith continue in my role.”

Remley alerted members of the health and medical communities of her decision by email and conveyed a resignation letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell. In each letter, she expressed chagrin about the legal atmosphere surrounding the development of the clinic licensing standards.

“Unfortunately, how specific sections of the Virginia Code pertaining to the development and enforcement of these regulations have been and continue to be interpreted has created an environment in which my ability to fulfill my duties is compromised and I can no longer in good faith continue in my role,” she wrote.

The state Board of Health last month approved a revised set of regulations that would hold Virginia's 20 abortion clinics to hospital-like architectural standards.  In taking that action, the board reversed a decision it made in June, when members voted to exempt existing clinics from those standards.

The panel did so after ardently anti-abortion Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in July refused to certify that version of the proposed rules, saying the board had exceeding its authority to create an exemption.

And just days before September's board meeting, Cuccinelli's office issued a memo warning members they could be denied state legal counsel and have to pay for their own defense if they again disregard his advice about relaxing controversial abortion clinic rules and litigation ensues.
[C]linic operators and abortion rights advocates argue that the law unfairly singles out one type of medical practice but doesn't hold out facilities where outpatient surgical procedures are done to similar standards.  They believe its underlying goal is to put clinics out of business by saddling them with tens of thousands in renovation costs to meet the new architectural guidelines.
Again, if women want Ken Cuccinelli, Victoria Cobb, George Allen, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan making your personal health decisions, vote Republican.  If on the other hand, you find that prospect, vote Democrat across the board.


The Tax Policy Center Rechecks Romney's Tax Plan: The Math Does Not Work

Among the many lies that Mitt Romney repeated on Tuesday night was his fantasy/lie that his tax plan will lower taxes and yet not cause the nations budget deficit - which has been going down under Obama - to utterly explode.  The Tax Policy Center has again rechecked Romney's supposed tax/deficit reduction plan and it simply CANNOT WORK.  As Bill Clinton said during the Democrat Convention, the math does NOT work.  The verdict as reported by Salon is in part as follows:

Mitt Romney proposed a tax plan, it didn’t add up, so he tweaked it. Now, a new study from the same people who dismantled his original plan finds the modified plan doesn’t add up either — nowhere near it.

[T]the jury (the Tax Policy Center, in this case) has returned with a verdict: No. Not even close. While it’s difficult to estimate because Romney has provided so few details, even the most generous version of Romney’s deduction cap would raise about only $1.3 trillion — about a quarter of the full cost — according to their new study, which was released yesterday afternoon. And that doesn’t include the additional roughly $2.5 trillion it would cost to extend all the Bush tax cuts, as Romney plans to. So he’s over $6 trillion short for the decade, and starting with a big deficit.

Yet Republicans - including some personal friends and neighbors refuse to open their eyes and face the fact that Romney is lying to them.  He's lying to everyone.   And should he win, it's not going to be pretty when Americans realize that Romney and his GOP pals have lied to them openly and played them for fools.  If Republicans who actually care about the nation are smart, they will be praying that Romney loses and saves the GOP from a possible nightmarish backlash.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Boy Scouts "Perversion Files" to Be Released

As previous posts have noted, the Boy Scouts of America seemed to have learned from the Vatican game plan for gays: slander and denigrate normal, well adjusted gays and drive them from the membership ranks while protecting and shuffling around sexual predators preying on unsuspecting children and youths.  And of course during all of this bull shit, the BSA claimed that they were merely supporting Christian values.The dishonesty, not to mention the moral bankruptcy is beyond stunning.   Now, the Los Angeles Times which dropped the bombshell of the BSA's dishonesty and pattern of protecting child rapists is going to release information from its investigative report.  One can only hope that the truth takes down many in the leadership of the BSA.  Here are highlights from the Washington Post:

The Los Angeles Times is set to make available online Thursday an exhaustive compilation of alleged sex offenders who have been investigated by the Boy Scouts of America over the past several decades. The files include reports listing the names of suspect employees and volunteers — some from the Washington region — whom the organization often failed to report to law enforcement authorities.

The newspaper said it would release at 2:30 p.m. Eastern about 1,200 files dating from 1965 to 1985 that were ordered public by the Oregon Supreme Court. The release marks the first opportunity for people to comb through a vast number of alleged sex-crime reports filed internally with the Boy Scouts. The names of alleged victims will be redacted.

The Times has reported extensively for the past several months on Boy Scout sex abuse cases, featuring interviews with victims and alleged perpetrators, and has already released several reports from what the Boy Scouts dubbed the “Perversion Files.”

The paper based much of its reporting on confidential files and other records from 5,000 cases dating to the 1940s. No criminal charges were filed in many of the cases. The Times said many of the allegations of wrongdoing were never reported to police.
More on this story from The Associated Press:
The court-ordered release of the files has prompted the Boy Scouts to pledge that they will go back into the files and report any offenders who may have not been reported to the police when alleged abuse took place.

That could prompt a new round of criminal prosecutions for offenders who have so far escaped justice.
The Scouts have, until now, argued they did all they could to prevent sex abuse within their ranks by spending a century tracking pedophiles and using those records to keep known sex offenders out of their organization.

Obviously, if new criminal prosecutions take place, they need to include charges against those who deliberately failed to report and/or covered up crimes against children and youths.

Romney Told 31 Myths In 41 Minutes During Tuesday's Debate

I've already vented about Mitt Romney's blatant dishonesty during the second presidential debate on Tuesday night, but it is important to focus on just how incredibly dishonest the man really is and how dangerous he is to the future of average Americans.  A piece at Think Progress looks at 31 different myths and untruths Romney told in the 41 minutes that he was speaking during the debate.  Romney makes the sleaziest used car salesman look honest.  It's frightening.  Here is a sampling of the lies that struck me the most (make sure you read the full piece): 

During the first presidential debate in Denver, Colorado Romney managed to tell 27 myths in his 38 minutes of speaking time. But at his second encounter with Obama in New York, the GOP presidential candidate — who has run a post-truth campaign from day one — outdid himself and crammed 31 myths in 41 minutes:

1) “I want to make sure we keep our Pell grant program growing. We’re also going to have our loan program, so that people are able to afford school.” Paul Ryan’s budget could cut Pell Grants for nearly 1 million college students and even Romney’s white paper on education, “A Chance for Every Child,” suggests that he “would reverse the growth in Pell Grant funding.” It says: “A Romney Administration will refocus Pell Grant dollars on the students that need them most and place the program on a responsible long-term path that avoids future funding cliffs and last-minute funding patches.”

2) “I put out a five-point plan that gets America 12 million new jobs in four years and rising take-home pay.” The Washington Post’s in-house fact checker tore Romney’s claim that he will create 12 million jobs to shreds. The Post wrote that the “‘new math’” in Romney’s plan “doesn’t add up.” In awarding the claim four Pinocchios — the most untrue possible rating, the Post expressed incredulity at the fact Romney would personally stand behind such a flawed, baseless claim.

10) “And I will not — I will not under any circumstances, reduce the share that’s being paid by the highest income taxpayers. And I will not, under any circumstances increase taxes on the middle-class.” As the Tax Policy Center concluded, Romney’s plan can’t both exempt middle class families from tax cuts and remain revenue neutral. “He’s promised all these things and he can’t do them all. In order for him to cover the cost of his tax cut without adding to the deficit, he’d have to find a way to raise taxes on middle income people or people making less than $200,000 a year,” the Center found.

11) “But your rate comes down and the burden also comes down on you for one more reason, and that is every middle-income taxpayer no longer will pay any tax on interest, dividends or capital gains. No tax on your savings. That makes life a lot easier.” This would actually help very few Americans. Nearly three-fourths of households that make $200,000 or less annually would get literally nothing from Romney’s tax cut, due to the simple fact that most of those households have no capital gains income. To be exact, 73.9 percent of the households upon which Romney “focused” his tax cut will see zero benefit from it.

17) “So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did. And — and I think it’s important to know that that was a process that was necessary to get those companies back on their feet, so they could start hiring more people. That was precisely what I recommend and ultimately what happened.” This is false. As Buisnessweek explains: Romney “opposed any use of taxpayer dollars to bail out the automakers, advice that President George W. Bush and Obama ignored. GM and Chrysler went through managed bankruptcies after Bush, at the end of his presidency, and later Obama provided federal funds.” “Without federal funds, GM and Chyrsler would not have survived. As former Bush aide Tony Fratto explained, “It wasn’t just that there wasn’t credit available; a lot of private equity had cash, they just weren’t giving it away.”

18) “He said that by now middle-income families would have a reduction in their health insurance premiums by $2,500 a year. It’s gone up by $2,500 a year.” Premiums have increased, though at a lower rate than before. And while the Affordable Care Act’s most important cost contentment strategies have yet to be implemented, the law is already lowering costs. 16 million seniors have received preventive benefits without deductibles or co-pays and are saving at least $3.9 billion on prescription drugs. Millions of young adults now have insurance coverage and are staying on their parent’s health care plan, insurers that spend too many premium dollars on administrative spending have refunded consumers, and states have successfully rejected dramatic premium increases.

20) “The kids of those that came here illegally, those kids, I think, should have a pathway to become a permanent resident of the United States and military service, for instance, is one way they would have that kind of pathway to become a permanent resident.” But Romney has promised to end President Obama’s deferred action directive, which saves some young undocumented immigrants from deportation, though he would not take away visas from people who had already received them. He has also promised to veto the DREAM Act.

21) “Now, when the president ran for office, he said that he’d put in place, in his first year, a piece of legislation — he’d file a bill in his first year that would reform our — our immigration system… He didn’t do it. He had a Democrat House and Democrat Senate, supermajority in both houses.” Senate Republicans repeatedly prevented Obama’s immigration reform efforts. The GOP actually blocked the DREAM Act from securing 60 votes to pass cloture, denying hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants a path to legal status if they enrolled in college or joined the military. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) even said on the Senate floor that young people lobbying his office had wasted their time.

22) “Any investments I have over the last eight years have been managed by a blind trust. And I understand they do include investments outside the United States, including in — in Chinese companies.” Romney’s blind trust is not very blind, and includes investments in a company owned by Romney’s son.

You get the drift:  if Mitt Romney's lips are moving, the safest assumption is to assume that he's lying.  I'd put the man right up there with Tony Perkins and most of the anti-gay professional Christian set who have lied so often that they no longer know how to tell the truth.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday Male Beauty

Cruise: Day Three in Nassau

Today was a most relaxing day.  The boyfriend and I walked to Junkanoo Beach (seen in the distance in the top photo below) from the ship and hung out with a mix of locals and other passengers from our ship as well as some form the two other cruise ships in port today.   Last night we had dinner at the Emerald Room - at an added cost - which was wonderful and akin to dining in a fine steakhouse.  The "Friends of Dorothy" meet up, unfortunately, was a bust.  The concept was great but having it in a martini bar full of overweight straight couples was poor planning to put it mildly.  We did meet one nice lesbian couple and will give it another try this evening.  We sail tonight at 10:00 PM for Freeport.  The photos above and below are views in port from the upper decks of the ship, plus there's one of yours truly near the monument to Queen Victoria.

The GOP Again Denigrates LGBT Lives and Relationships to Drive Voter Turnout

Never under estimate the cynicism of some in the Republican Party to trash LGBT citizens and damage lies in the quest to make sure the Christofascists turn out and vote on election day.  We saw this behavior back in 2004 when Karl Rove and his forces of evil pushed to get anti-gay marriage amendments on the ballot to drive Christianist turnout and help secure the re-election of George W. Bush, a man who likely ought to be on trial for war crimes given the torture that was approved and utilized by his regime.  Now, it turns out that the GOP is up to the same old game in Minnesota where gay rights and lives have yet again been cynically put on the ballot.  Here are highlights from WCCO-TV 4 in Minneapolis:

But Brodkorb — once a powerful Republican insider — says a big reason it’s on the ballot isn’t family values. Top Republicans needed a way to get conservatives off the couch and into the voting booth.

“It provided a turnout opportunity for Republicans,” he said.  Brodkorb was former Deputy Chairman of the State Republican Party and top Senate staffer, and says GOP Senators knew a driving force behind the gay marriage amendment wasn’t morality. It was political reality.

Top GOP leaders thought they couldn’t beat incumbent Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Republicans would stay home.  “The belief was, the United States senate race was not going to be close, and that Republicans needed and social conservatives needed a reason to get to the polls in November,” he said.  The marriage amendment brought thousands of protesters to the Capitol, and it passed with all Republicans and only one Democratic vote.

WCCO talked with a number of Republican leaders Monday night who declined to talk on the record.  The main group opposing the amendment, Minnesotans United, made this statement Monday night: “It’s disappointing to hear this freedom-limiting amendment was pushed solely for political gain. Regardless, in just a few short weeks, Minnesotans are being forced to vote on whether we will permanently limit the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples in our state. This amendment doesn’t represent our Minnesota values or what is best for our future, and we believe that Minnesotans will reject it.”

Brodkorb’s job with the state Republican party and the State Senate was to maximize the vote for Republicans, and he says many Senators saw this as a good way to do that. Ironically, he now says it’s a strategy that could backfire.

Opposition to the amendment is strong in the Twin Cities suburbs, and it could cause some Republican state Senators to lose.   Republican Senator Warren Limmer, (R) Maple Grove — the author of the marriage amendment — acknowledged GOP Senators did discuss some get-out-the-vote efforts “among many other amendment-related items.”

Thus, the sad truth is that LGBT citizens' lives do not matter to those in the leadership of the GOP.  Meanwhile, the ignorant loons in the Christofascist element of the GOP base are being played for suckers by the same GOP leadership that in truth doesn't give a rat's ass about "protecting marriage."  It's enough to make one physically sick. 

Mitt Romney Showed His Arrogance Last Night

It's no secret that I do not like Mitt Romney.  Frankly, in my view he's an arrogant prick: the spoiled little rich boy who thinks living an apartment while living off of trust funds while attending graduate school was a struggle.  And his equally bitchy and arrogant wife, Ann "Marie Antoinette" Romney is no better in my book.   Fortunately, some of Romney's arrogance and sense of extreme entitlement came through last night - along with his patent dishonesty mentioned in a prior post.  Also telling was Romney's failure to give any specifics on how he would grow and strengthen the U.S. economy.  He merely said that he would and that was supposed to be all the voters - who he views as peasants and would be serfs to GOP plutocrats - need to know.  Thus, the real issue becomes whether or not voters wake up to who the real Mitt Romney is over the next couple of weeks or not.  Are Americans as stupid as Romney believes them to be.  I for one hope not.  A column in the Washington Post looks at these issues further.  Here some highlights:

[T]he most electorally significant performance was Romney’s. Under pressure this time, the former Massachusetts governor displayed his least attractive sides. He engaged in pointless on-stage litigation of the debate rules. He repeatedly demonstrated his disrespect for both the president and Candy Crowley, the moderator. And Romney was just plain querulous when anyone dared question him about the gaping holes in his tax and budget plans.

Any high school debate coach would tell a student that declaring, “Believe me because I said so,” is not an argument. Yet Romney confused biography with specificity and boasting with answering a straightforward inquiry. “Well, of course, they add up,” Romney insisted of his budget numbers.

Romney’s stonewalling was so obvious that it opened the way for one of Obama’s most effective lines of the evening: “If somebody came to you, Governor, with a plan that said, here, I want to spend $7 or $8 trillion, and then we’re going to pay for it, but we can’t tell you until maybe after the election how we’re going to do it, you wouldn’t have taken such a sketchy deal. And neither should you, the American people, because the math doesn’t add up.”

The most instructive contrast between Debate I and Debate II was the extent to which Romney’s ideas crumbled at the slightest contact with challenge. Romney and Paul Ryan are erecting a Potemkin village designed to survive only until the polls close on Nov. 6. They cannot say directly that they really believe in slashing taxes on the rich and backing away from so much of what government does because they know that neither idea will sell. So they offer soothing language to the middle class, photo ops at homeless programs to convey compassion and a steady stream of attacks on Obama, aimed at shifting all the attention his way.

In the first debate, Obama let Romney back into the race by failing to shake his opponent’s self-presentation. But Romney also put himself into contention by pretending to be a moderate, shelving his plutocratic side and hiding his party’s long-term objectives.

In the second debate, the disguise fell. Romney revealed more of himself than he wanted to and asked voters to endorse a radical tax-cutting program without providing them the details that matter. Sketchy is one word for this. Deceptive is another.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Bishop Calls Out Anti-Gay Catholic Archbishop

I often complain about the "good Christians" who do little or nothing to stand up to and/or counter the incessant anti-gay hate and vitriol that is disseminated by others who wrap themselves in the mantle of Christianity.  In my view, such behavior although on a far lesser scale is akin to the "good Germans" who did nothing to stand up to or halt Nazi atrocities.  Thankfully, some in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are beginning to understand that being welcoming to same sex couples and partnered LGBT clergy is not enough.  The hate merchants need to be confronted directly.  And that is precisely what  Rt. Rev. Herbert Chilstrom (pictured at left), the retired presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has done in blasting Minnesota Archbishop John Nienstedt in a op-ed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  Here are some excerpts:

Having served as a Lutheran bishop in Minnesota and then as the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), I write as one who stands on level ground with you. Like you, I have a deep sense of call to the ministry of the Gospel. 

On the marriage amendment, you are described in the media as having "drawn the line."  In my judgment, you have drawn the line at the wrong place.

I recognize your authority in formulating positions for your own flock in Minnesota. That is one thing. But for you and others to campaign for an amendment that imposes your stance on all citizens in Minnesota, including other Christians, believers of other faith groups and nonbelievers, is overstepping your bounds.

History is our teacher .   .  .  .   The genius of America is that we separate church from state. As we say in our Pledge of Allegiance, we are committed to our flag "and to the republic for which it stands." As any dictionary will tell us, a republic is "a nation in which citizens elect representatives to manage the government." By placing the marriage amendment on the November ballot, our legislators in St. Paul have ducked their responsibility. They have already enacted a statute that forbids same-gender marriage. Attempting to embed it in the Constitution is simply wrong.

By word and action, you leave the impression that there is little room for dissent in your church. Yet many of us recall that Raymond Lucker, your predecessor as bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm, challenged your church to begin thinking about the need for married men and, yes, even women, to be ordained as priests. He clearly understood that one could be a good Roman Catholic and still be open to change.

This raises the question: If there were a call from Roman Catholic members in Minnesota to vote on an issue of significance, would you allow for such a vote? And if a simple majority voted in favor, would you accept that vote as final? It's clear that such a vote would not even be permitted in your church.

Why then have you worked so hard and spent so much of your church's resources to bring this issue to a vote in Minnesota, where the vast majority of us are not even members of your church?

There is evidence that many in your church will vote "no" on this amendment.  I stand with them and with all who will vote "no."

I have stated many times on this blog and elsewhere that thinking Catholics and particularly LGBT Catholics and their friends, family members and allies need to walk away for the Catholic Church and join one of the viable alternative churches such as the ELCA.  This would hasten the much deserved coming future of the Catholic Church if it doesn't let go of its backward thinking 12th century "natural law" mindset: It will be a that becomes centered in the most ignorant and uneducated areas of the world.  This latter trend is already occurring as the Catholic Church's only real growth is in the most backward countries of Africa.  Personally, the demise of the Roman Catholic Church in its current morally bankrupt and child rapist protecting form cannot come about soon enough.


Presidential Debate Reactions - More Lies From Romney

UPDATED:  The Boston Globe has joined others who are pouncing on Mitt Romney's lie about advancing qualified women last night.  Here's the pertinent quote:

Romney ... did not have a history of appointing women to high-level positions in the private sector. Romney did not have any women partners as CEO of Bain Capital during the 1980s and 1990s. The venture capital and private equity fields were male-dominated, to be sure, especially during Romney’s time. Women started to break into the upper echelons of the firm after it started a hedge fund, called Brookside in 1996. Today, 4 of out of 49 of the firm’s managing directors in the buyout area are women.

Thankfully, Barack Obama seemed much more on his game last night - the boyfriend and I watched CNN in our cabin - and Mitt Romney was, well Mitt Romney.  A liar who either lied out right (e.g., saying he wants to increase Pell grants when his plan would actually cut them), evaded the truth or made things up as he went along.  I truly believe that the man will do and say anything if he thinks it furthers his cause and the truth be damned.  On his repeated statements that he knows "how to create jobs" I had to nearly vomit or throw something at the television.  As I noted recently, even David Stockman, Ronald Reagan's budget director has taken Romney to task on this bullshit.   It's also noteworthy that Romney apparently lied about seeking to get women into his administration while governor of Massachusetts.  Here's a highlight from The Phoenix addressing Romney's fictional account of his actions to find qualified women:

Not a true story.

What actually happened was that in 2002 -- prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration -- a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.

They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.

I have written about this before, in various contexts; tonight I've checked with several people directly involved in the MassGAP effort who confirm that this history as I've just presented it is correct -- and that Romney's claim tonight, that he asked for such a study, is false. 

None of the senior positions Romney cared about -- budget, business development, etc. -- went to women.

Secondly, a UMass-Boston study found that the percentage of senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout the Romney administration, from 30.0% prior to his taking office, to 29.7% in July 2004, to 27.6% near the end of his term in November 2006. (It then began rapidly rising when Deval Patrick took office.)

Third, note that in Romney's story as he tells it, this man who had led and consulted for businesses for 25 years didn't know any qualified women, or know where to find any qualified women. So what does that say?

As I said, Mitt Romney is a shameless pathological Liar.  Any woman - or man - who believes anything Romney says is an idiot and does so at their own risk.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day Two at Sea - Nearing Nassau

Later this morning we will be pulling into Nassau in the Bahamas.  The weather is beautiful and in the mid-80's.   Since both the boyfriend and I have both been to Nassau previously, we are going to forgo shore excursions and stroll around town and visit attractions on our own.  Given the anti-gay legal framework in The Bahamas, we will make every effort to avoid spending any money while in port.  I'd much rather give my hard earned money to the cruise line than to businesses in a homophobic country.  True, our spending boycott doesn't mean much in isolation, but I hope others will act similarly.   Oh, and after dinner tonight we are going to check out the "Friends of Dorothy" gathering aboard our ship.  The views above and below are from the ship this morning.

Tuesday Male Beauty

The Truth About the Nation's Budget Deficit

Living in Virginia which is being blanketed by utterly false ads backed by Karl Rove's Crossroads organization hearing the untruths is enough to make one want to vomit.  One of the constant themes is that Obama has INCREASED the nation's budget deficit.  The truth is something far different as shown by the chart above.   Maddow blog summarizes the graphic and actual reality.  Here are brief highlights:

[This chart] starts with the figures released in 2009, when the deficit reached a record high of $1.4 trillion. Why is the column in red? Because, thanks to fiscal years, Obama inherited a deficit of nearly $1.3 trillion from Bush/Cheney the moment he took the oath of office. This year, however, according to the official data published by the Treasury Department, the deficit was $1.089 trillion.

When the president's critics spin this, they'll say, "The deficit was over $1 trillion again," and that will be accurate. What the criticism fails to note, however, is that (a) the deficit is now much smaller than it was when Obama took office; (b) this is the smallest deficit we've seen in four years; (c) this new figure represents an improvement of over $200 billion since last year; and (d) the main drivers of the remaining deficit are Republican policies.

One thing is now synonymous with the Republican Party and its greed and religious extremism driven supporters: LYING.  Constant lying.  So much for the Commandment against lying and bearing false witness. 

Female Voters Give Obama Edge on Contraception, Abortion

On social issues and certainly issues surrounding women's rights There is no way around the conclusion that the GOP has allowed the most extreme elements of the Christofascist party base to become the architects for the current party platform.  I mean really, Tony Perkins as a main author of the GOP policies on "marriage."  Why not appoint a Grand Inquisitor of old?  Fortunately, many women are not as stupid and easily misled as Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan - and in Virginia, George Allen - thought would be the case.  An article in The Hill looks at how the GOP prostitution of itself to religious extremists is biting the party in the ass when it comes to women voters.  Here are some article highlights:

President Obama's contraception mandate is helping him enormously with female voters, a new USA Today/Gallup poll says.

Obama has found two winning issues in birth control and abortion.  Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have attacked the administration's contraception mandate as an assault on religious liberty. But the USA Today poll indicates that emphasizing the policy could help Obama more than Romney.

A greater emphasis on abortion rights could also help bolster Obama's standing with female voters, according to the USA Today poll. Nearly 40 percent of women cited abortion as the most important election issue for women. And respondents who cited abortion preferred Obama by a 3-1 margin.

"That could signal an opening for Obama among women in the second debate and the final 21 days of the campaign," USA Today said in its write-up of the poll results.

The administration's contraception mandate could also help Obama with women.  Thirty-one percent of female voters said birth control policy will be "extremely important" in influencing their vote. And Obama holds a 21-point advantage over Romney — 56 to 35 percent — on the issue.

The Moral Bankruptcy of the Knights of Columbus

As many readers know, I was raised Roman Catholic and was an altar boy for a 10 years and went on to join the Knights of Columbus achieving the 4th Degree eventually.  But I ended up leaving both the Knights and the Catholic Church when it became sickeningly obvious that both the Church hierarchy and the leadership of the Knights of Columbus suffered from shocking moral bankruptcy after the sex abuse scandal exploded in the Archdiocese of Boston over a decade ago.  As we all now know, the Church hierarchy from the Pope on down engaged in what can only be described as a global criminal conspiracy to enable, aid, abet and protect sexual predator priest who have left a trail of victims worldwide numbering in the hundreds of thousands.  As for the Knights of Columbus, not a peep has been said against the Church leadership from an organization founded to aid and protect widows and children.  Instead, the Knights have slavishly groveled and brown noised to the Church hierarchy (former Bishop Timothy Daly who was documented to have threatened and intimidated victims and their families under Cardinal Law remained the Supreme Chaplain for the Knights until his retirement despite his known wrong doing against victims of child rapists).  With its wealth and unrivaled power in the Catholic Church, the Knights could have been a force for reform and a house cleaning of those who enabled and protected sexual predators.  Instead, the Knights have aligned themselves with those who ought to be behind bars (including Benedict XVI) and have become the Church's principal fundraiser for the Church's anti-gay jihad against normal, well adjusted gays who merely want full CIVIL legal rights. The Minneapolis Star Tribune looks at the sick upside down values of the Knights in the war against LGBT citizens.  Here are highlights:

In Minnesota, the Knights of Columbus are best known for hosting charitable free-throw contests, collecting pennies to support seminarians and conducting Tootsie Roll drives to aid people with disabilities.

Less well known is that members of the nation's largest Catholic fraternal organization are quietly positioning themselves to be a powerful and potentially decisive force in passing the marriage amendment, which would amend the state Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

The state branch of the Knights has spent months raising money, staffing phone banks and leading seminars urging people to vote for the measure. The Minnesota Knights of Columbus are following a battle-tested formula used in several other states that passed marriage amendments. The local chapters quietly provide fundraising and crucial organizational infrastructure while the national organization pumps millions of dollars into major groups masterminding the effort to block laws around the country allowing same-sex marriage.

In the last four years, the group has given at least $3.6 million to groups leading marriage fights across the country. Now the group is trying to make its mark in Minnesota, and has directly given more than $130,000 to the fight.

The Minnesota chapters so far have given at least $31,000 to pro-amendment groups. The national headquarters has given another $100,000. But the group's 43,500 Minnesota members could prove far more valuable. In a race shaping up to be decided by a razor-thin margin, a committed bloc of thousands of energized, like-minded voters could make all the difference.

Several longtime Catholics who oppose the marriage amendment said they were surprised and troubled by the Knights' involvement in the marriage issue. They said they only knew the group for its charity work, locally and abroad.

Now they are crushed to learn the group is at the forefront of the anti-gay marriage effort and that some of their contributions might have gone to the cause.

"I don't think it is at all clear to the congregations," said Greg Seivert, a lifelong Catholic from Mendota Heights. When he was growing up, Seivert said, the Knights "were a charitable group that did the work of charity and mercy. This strikes me as a very different role. I would be very leery of contributing in any sort of way with their involvement in this political brouhaha."

The bulk of the national group's significant financial firepower comes not from its 1.8 million members, but from its lucrative and highly rated life-insurance business, Knights of Columbus Insurance.

Sharon Groves, director of the Human Rights Campaign's religious and faith program, said the group's secrecy is most troubling. The myriad entities shuffling money around to marriage-related groups makes tracking the group's contributions nearly impossible, she said.

"The Knights are really an organization pulling the wool over the eyes of many Catholics," Groves said. "They do a lot of important work, but people are being sold a bill of goods, thinking that all this work is helping the needy when really it is going toward some pretty sinister stuff."

The next time you see a Knights of Columbus fundraiser, walk on by and give your hard earned money to an organization that protects children rather than the monsters who have allowed so many young lives to be damaged or ruin - or ended by suicide.