Saturday, February 02, 2013

Anti-Gay Homophobic Pastors and Politicians Who Turn Out to be Gay

This YouTube posting is a convenient complication of self-loathing closet cases who worked against gay rights yet in the end were outed themselves.  The written narrative notes: "These men are hypocrites who repeatedly discriminated against homosexuals and passed legislation to withhold the rights of gay people. The pastors and politicians mentioned in this video are as follows: Ted Haggard, George A. Rekers, Richard Curtis, Roy Ashburn, Albert Odulele, Mark Foley, Christopher Lee, Eddie Long, Jim West, Paul Babeu, Ken Mehlman, and Larry Craig."

Given how vociferous some of the leading Christofascist hate merchants are in denouncing gays, one can only wonder how long it will be before more of them join the ranks of the outed hypocrites.

Nebraska GOP Lt. Governor Resigns - Over Adultry?

While details remain murky, Nebraska Lieutenant Governor Rick Sheehy (pictured at left) abruptly his post today.  Indications are that Sheehy may have been having affairs.  His wife had filed for divorce in July, 2012stating that her marriage of 28 years was “irretrievably broken.”  A piece in the World Herald indicates that Sheehy had used his state issued cell phone during the past four years to make about 2,000 late-night telephone calls to women other than his wife.  Once again, one has to wonder why 8 times out of 10 that its the "family values" Republicans that have such a hard time avoiding adultery or seeking man on man restroom trysts like former Senator Larry "Wide Stance " Craig?  The supposedly godless Democrats seem to have nowhere near the difficulty keeping the their marital vows and their zippers up.  Here are article highlights:

LINCOLN — Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy resigned his post abruptly Saturday after questions were raised by The World-Herald about improper cell phone calls to four women, other than his wife, during the past four years.

An investigation by The World-Herald discovered that Sheehy made about 2,000 late-night telephone calls to the women on his state-issued cell phone, many of them long conversations held in the wee hours of the night.

Gov. Dave Heineman announced the resignation at a 10 a.m. press conference.

"I've got a knot in my stomach. I'm deeply disappointed. He's done a lot of good things for the state, but that trust was broken, and he's resigned," Heineman said.

Until now, Sheehy, 53, has been considered the leading candidate to succeed Heineman in 2015.

The governor, asked about Sheehy's candidacy, said: "I doubt he will continue his campaign for governor, and no, I would not support him under the circumstances."
Heineman declined to discuss the details of why Sheehy was stepping down, other than to say it involved "personal decisions" made by his lieutenant governor.
 I feel sorry for Sheehy's wife and his children who will now have to face humiliation and public scrutiny.

Gun Deaths - The Price of "Freedom"?

I am an unapologetic advocate for strict gun control laws.  Some of my Republican neighbors would hotly debate the issue, but the truth is that America has an insanely high number of gun deaths - there have been 1,280 since the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in December according to Huffington Post and 1,475 according to Slate which included suicides and police shootings.  Some are suicides - gun availability increases suicide rates and successful completions - some are murders, others are accidental.  But the results are all the same.  Individuals needlessly dead thanks to 2nd Amendment fanatics and gun manufacturers.  The composite image of victims is via Huffington Post.  Here are a few article highlights:

It was Christmas night when Sincere Smith, 2, found his father’s loaded gun on the living room table of their Conway, S.C., mobile home. It took just a second for Smith’s tiny hands to find the trigger and pull. A single bullet ripped into his upper right chest and out his back.  .  .  .  .  Sincere died on an ambulance gurney as he was transferred to a second hospital in Charleston.

There were 29 other shooting deaths across the U.S. on Christmas. A soldier was shot and killed in his barracks in Alaska. A man was murdered in the parking lot of Eddie's Bar and Grill in Orrville, Ala. A 23-year-old was shot at a party in Phoenix. A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department employee was killed in a drive-by.

A 20-year-old Louisville, Ky., man was shot and killed after walking his sister home. On Christmas Eve, he had posted an R.I.P. on his Facebook page for a friend and former classmate, who had been gunned down that day.

A 10-year-old in Memphis, Tenn., Alfreddie Gipson, was accidentally shot to death by gun purchased by an older brother, who had gotten the weapon after being bullied at school. Gipson was jumping on a bed when the gun slipped out of a mattress. It discharged when his 12-year-old brother tried to put it back, their mother said at a vigil.

There were at least 41 homicides or accidental gun deaths on New Year's Eve. On New Year's Day, at least 54 people died from bullet wounds.

Through Google and Nexis searches, The Huffington Post has tracked gun-related homicides and accidents throughout the U.S. since the schoolhouse massacre in Newtown, Conn., on the morning of Dec. 14. There were more than 100 such deaths the first week after the school shooting. In the first seven weeks after Newtown, there have been more than 1,280 gunshot homicides and accidental deaths. Slate has counted 1,475 fatal shooting incidents since Newtown, including suicides and police-involved shooting deaths, which The Huffington Post did not include in its tally.

When is the madness going to stop?

Saturday Male Beauty

Obama Caves on Contraception Manadate

In a move that he hopes will placate the child rapist protectors in the Roman Catholic Church and  anti-women right wing religious denominations, Barack Obama and the Department of Health and Human Services have released new regulations that would allow Catholic institutions and similar religious controlled colleges and hospitals to avoid having to directly provide birth control coverage to female employees.  Candidly, I doubt it will make these religious extremists happy and predict that they will continue to fraudulently claim that the Obama administration is trampling on their "religious liberty."  It is they, not the Obama administration, that want to trample on religious liberty for all but themselves.  A piece in The Daily Beast looks at this new measure by Obama:

On Friday, the Obama administration put forth its proposed compromise for cleaning up the mandated birth control pile of poo it blundered into early last year.

Now, the administration is back with a tinker to its original compromise that holds considerable promise for placating (almost) everyone: in cases where religious employers object to birth control, the insurance companies that handle their health benefits will automatically arrange for separate, free, contraception-only policies, the costs of which will be offset by giving the insurers a break on the fees they are charged to participate in the insurance exchanges being set up under the ACA. (That is, of course, the boiled-down explanation of how it works. There is much fine-tuning yet to come.)

Women get access to birth control. Religious groups don’t have to pay for it, or even directly arrange for it. Insurers get a cost offset. Everybody wins! More or less.
That is not to suggest that everyone will be happy. (Are they ever?) And the 44 lawsuits already filed in protest of this particular mandate—then put on hold until the administration clarified its position—will likely start rolling again. Already, the conservative Susan B. Anthony List PAC is grousing about the White House’s assault on “religious and moral freedom.”
But this proposal makes clear that the White House learned its lesson and is trying to show respect for the concerns of religious conservatives. This, in turn, may help separate hard-core opponents of contraceptive coverage from those who simply disliked the my-way-or-the-highway bossiness of the administration’s original mandate. At the very least, the compromise will defang charges from ranters like Rush that Obama is some high-handed, amoral elitist determined to ram his views down the throats of decent God-fearing Americans. In this political climate, that may be the best the president can hope for.
I suspect that the author is right and Obama will simply never be able to please those who see women as evil temptresses and sluts (e.g., the Catholic hierarchy) or those who want to keep women barefoot, pregnant and preferably uneducated (e.g., the Southern Baptist Convention and evangelical Christian denominations).  A column in the Chicago Tribune last year summed up what's really going quite well:

[W]hat I don't understand is the bishops' obsession with sex. Yes, the Church is (wrongly) against contraception. But the Church is also against the death penalty. Why don't the bishops raise a stink about that? And the Church was opposed to the Iraq war. Why didn't they condemn George W. Bush for bombing a country that did not attack us first? Why do they only get their episcopal panties in a twist when it comes to sex?

No, this is not a case of President Obama trying to interfere with religious freedom. This is a case of Catholic bishops trying to force their narrow views about sex on everybody else.
 Unless, of course, the sex is between priest and children and youths - then the good bishops have amnesia and are blind as to what is happening under their watch.  The hypocrisy is stunning.

Virginia House of Delegates Passes Bill Allowing Student Groups Right to Discriminatee

The Virginia GOP continues its race into the past with the House of Delegates passing a bill that would allow college student groups to discriminate based upon religious bigotry while still receiving college and university funds.  In short, Christofascist student groups would be allowed to discriminate against the very students who were being forced to financially underwrite the bigoted organizations.  It's yet another example of the special rights that far right Christians demand for themselves but seek to withhold from others.  MetroWeekly looks at the poisonous bill sponsored by Del. C. Todd Gilbert  (pictured at right), a GOP House member from the backwaters of Virginia.  Here are highlights:

The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill Thursday that could allow student organizations at Virginia public universities to openly discriminate against potential members without fear of reprisal on an 80-19 vote, sending the measure on to the state Senate.

The bill, HB1617, sponsored by Del. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah and Warren counties), prohibits public institutions of higher education from "discriminating against a student organization or group on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical or other content of the organization or group’s speech." It also allows religious or political student organizations to determine whom they may admit as members "in furtherance of the organization’s religious or political mission."

The measure passed the lower chamber overwhelmingly, with 66 Republicans, 1 independent who caucuses with the Republicans, and 13 Democrats voting in favor of it. Nineteen Democrats, largely from metropolitan areas, opposed the measure.

Kevin Clay, a spokesman for Equality Virginia, the commonwealth's major LGBT-rights organization, said Equality Virginia opposes the bill, which he says could potentially allow student groups at publicly funded universities to discriminate against LGBT individuals if they cite religious beliefs or political philosophies.

"Our concern with the bill is it allows discrimination with publicly accessible funds," Clay said.
He further noted that universities, even if they have a nondiscrimination policy, are unable to deny funding or resources to groups that openly discriminate, because under current Virginia law, campus nondiscrimination policies are not legally binding.

"This protects the student organizations, not the individual students," Clay said, adding that Equality Virginia is asking concerned citizens to call their senators to oppose the bill.
I can only wonder whether Del. Gilbert's knuckles are scraped and bloody from dragging along the ground.   

France's Parliament Approves Key Gay Marriage Article

The Catholic Church leadership is facing yet another defeat in a country that was once a bastion of Catholicism.  Also suffering a defeat is NOM which had sought to bolster support for anti-gay forces in France.  Despite these efforts, the French National Assembly has just passed a key measure in the legislation under consideration that will bring full same sex marriage rights and gay adoption to France.  The vote is a triumph for modernity and the banishment of religion from the civil laws in secular nations.  One can only when the United States will reject Christofascism and join other advanced nations and adopted same sex marriage nationwide.  Here are highlights from BBC News:

Deputies voted 249-97 in favour of redefining marriage as being an agreement between two people - not just between a man and a woman.

President Francois Hollande's Socialists and their left-wing supporters backed it, opposed by many opposition UMP and centrist MPs.

The proposals have generated protests and counter-protests for months.  Opinion polls suggest that around 55-60% of French people support gay marriage, though only about 50% approve of gay adoption.

Correspondents say the ease with which the article passed suggests the bill as a whole will pass.
Debates are expected to go on for more than a week, as MPs discuss hundreds of amendments, most of them filed by the centre-right opposition.

On the way they are expected to approve the other key measure in the bill, which would allow gay couples to adopt children.

It is expected that the legislation will reach the statue books by the middle of the year, AFP reports.

In September last year, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Lyon, argued that plans to redefine the concept of marriage would open the door to incest and polygamy.

UN Panel Considers Dangers of "Ex-Gay" Therapy

OMG!  The Christofascists and professional Christian crowd - who already despise the United Nations and fret about "one world government" - are going to go berserk at the news that the UN has begun considering the harmful effects of "ex-gay" therapy in the context of protecting LGBT individuals' human rights.  As many blog posts here have indicated, many of the foulest anti-gay hate groups in America are busy exporting anti-gay animus and "ex-gay" batshitery to backward and ignorant nations in Africa since their snake oil isn't selling so well anymore in the developed world.  Every legitimate mental health and medical association in the United States condemns "ex-gay" reparative therapy and it is time that its exportation overseas be stopped.  It serves absolutely no purpose other than to oppress LGBT individuals and to keep the lie alive that one's sexual orientation is a choice.   Here are excerpts from Huffington Post:

A panel of mental health experts, human rights advocates, religious leaders and a former patient gathered Thursday at the United Nations Church Center to discuss a controversial therapy that claims to "cure" gay people and make them straight. Although such practices have been around for decades, the concept has come under increased scrutiny over the last five years as lawsuits and litigation attempt to curb the "conversion therapy" and the mainstream mental health profession renounces it.
The panel is the first at the U.N. to directly address this so-called therapy, sometimes referred to as sexual orientation change efforts. Those who organized the event said they hoped it would be the first of many similar conversations, and part of a larger push from the U.N. to address gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.

Mainstream mental health organizations, from the American Psychological Association -- where a 2009 task force found the practice to be both harmful and ineffective -- to the World Health Organization, have said there is no evidence that the practice works and have concluded that it may lead to depression, anxiety and even suicide. Meanwhile, the dwindling pool of supporters, nearly all connected with religious organizations, insist that change is possible for some people, and that those people who do wish to change should not be denied the opportunity.

Those gathered at the U.N. on Thursday were careful to stress that the point of the meeting was not a debate over the effectiveness of these "conversion" practices. "The other side tries to present it as if it's a debate," Jack Drescher, a psychoanalyst and a member of the American Psychiatric Association, told the crowd. But, Drescher added, there is no longer any real debate about this therapy among mental health professionals. The debate now, he said, is not clinical, but cultural.  And the harms of this practice, those on the panel all stressed, go far beyond any suffering an individual may experience in the therapy.

The panel began with a preview of an upcoming film about Uganda and the so-called "Kill The Gays" bill, a law that is currently sitting in that country's parliament and would impose harsh penalties on gay people. "The fact is that many people see that bill being born of the influence of Western evangelicals who came en masse to Uganda to spread the gospel, specifically the notion that LGBT people can change," Levovitz said as the discussion got underway Thursday.

"The idea is that gay people are somehow broken, that we need to be fixed," Wolfe said. "You can see the line of reasoning: therefore we're not entitled to equality under the law and we're not due equal respect and to be treated well," Wolfe, who described himself as a "survivor" of conversion therapy, explained.

"What we're really talking about here is creating a world and a society where sexual orientation change efforts are looked upon as as ridiculous for LGBT people as they are for a heterosexual person," said Toiko Kleppe, a representative of the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. "That is also a world that human rights law is in favor of."

Reason, logic and legitimate science needs to trump religious based ignorance and bigotry.  As this process advances, expect louder and more violent shrieks and opposition from those who enrich themselves and control others through the opiate called religion.

The Catholic Church Heirarchy's Perverted Values

In the wake of the release of Archdiocese files that have conclusively shown that Cardinal Roger Mahony and his minions actively protected predatory priests and deliberately kept law enforcement officials in the dark about serial child rapists a cat fight has developed between Mahony and his successor Archbishop Jose Gomez who stripped Mahony of his public duties - although Mahony remains a cardinal and a "prince of the church" entitled to great deference and to vote in electing the next Pope.  The arrogant and vain Mahony is REALLY pissed that that Gomez has publicly announced that he was stripping the cardinal of any public role in the local church.  Indeed, Mahony has hurled back "Not once over these past years did you ever raise any questions about our policies, practices or procedures in dealing with the problem of clergy sexual misconduct involving minors."

While I have ZERO sympathy for Mahony - who belongs behind bars in my view - what he says about Gomez is true.  And most of the rest of the Church hierarchy.  NO ONE in the hierarchy gave a damn about the victims of abuse.  Indeed, they still don't.  Their sole concern is the PR damage being done which shows the moral bankruptcy of the entire senior Church leadership.  This damage needs to continue full bore to the point where some of the sheeple in the pews will finally open their eyes and stop financially supporting the criminal enterprise known as the institutional Church.

One other thing that is stunning has been shown by the newly released documents: while nothing was done to stop or punish child rapists, the Church was swift to act when non consequential - at least in real world terms - Church rules were broken by priests.  All of which further underscores the hypocrisy  and moral bankruptcy of the peevish old men who flounce around in dresses demanding respect and deference from the ignorant and gullible.  A piece in the Los Angeles Times looks at the swift and sure punishment that was meted out for violations of Church rules even as nothing was done to known sexual predator priests.  Here are some highlights:

The archdiocese of Los Angeles learned in the late 1970s that one of its priests had sexually assaulted a 16-year-old boy so violently that he was left bleeding and "in a state of shock." The priest said he was too drunk to remember what happened and officials took no further action.

But two decades later, word reached Cardinal Roger M. Mahony that the same priest was molesting again and improperly performing the sacrament of confession on his victim. The archdiocese sprang to action: It dispatched investigators, interviewed a raft of witnesses and discussed the harshest of all church penalties—not for the abuse but for the violation of church law.

"Given the seriousness of this abuse of the sacrament of penance … it is your responsibility to formally declare the existence of the excommunication and then refer the matter to Rome," one cleric told Mahony in a memo.

The case of Father Jose Ugarte is one of several instances detailed in newly released records in which archdiocese officials displayed outrage over a priest's ecclesiastical missteps while doing little for the victims of his sexual abuse.

The revelations emerged from 12,000 pages of the once-confidential personnel files of more than 100 priests accused of abuse.  .  .  .  . The files also suggested that the attempts to protect abusers from law enforcement extended beyond the L.A. archdiocese to a Catholic order tasked with rehabilitating abusers.

"Once more, we ask you to PLEASE DESTROY THESE PAGES AND ANY OTHER MATERIAL YOU HAVE RECEIVED FROM US," the acting director of the order's treatment program wrote to Mahony in 1988 in a letter detailing therapists' reports about a prolific molester. "This is stated for your own and our legal protection."

The order, the Servants of the Paraclete, closed the New Mexico facility where many Los Angeles priests were sent amid a flood of lawsuits in the mid-1990s. A lawyer for the order declined to comment, but indicated in a 2011 civil court filing that all treatment records were destroyed.
Mahony disregarded the order's advice, and therapy memos are among the most detailed records in the files.

In some cases, the behavior that drew the greatest ire of the hierarchy involved breaking church rather than criminal laws. After first learning of Michael Baker's abuse of boys in 1986, church leaders sent the priest to therapy, then returned him to ministry believing his word that he would stay away from children.  Yet in 2000, information that Baker was performing baptisms without permission set off a new level of alarm among the church's top officials. They discussed launching a canonical investigation, and for the first time in Baker's checkered years with the church, officials raised the prospect of contacting police.

The church fought all the way to the state Supreme Court to keep many of the records secret. The archdiocese abandoned a plan make the documents public with the names of the hierarchy blacked out only after media organizations, including The Times, sued in court. The judge sided with the media, but in many of the documents posted online, Mahony's name and that of his top aide on abuse in the 1980s, Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Curry, are still redacted.  Asked about the redactions, a lawyer for the archdiocese, J. Michael Hennigan, pledged to "fix it."  "It was our intention to always release the Cardinal and Bishop Curry's names when they appeared," he wrote in an email.

There's much more in the article, but suffice it to say, it reveals a putrid cesspool.  How any moral person can continue to attend a Catholic and put money in the collection plate defies logic.  These men are monsters and until they are driven from power and their positions, financially supporting the Catholic Church makes one an accessory to their crimes.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Obama Realigns As the GOP Declines

So far the calculus of supposed GOP grand strategists and potentates such as Karl Rove - who lost millions of conservative dollars this last election cycle for near zero results - just does not seem to be working.   Indeed, as a piece in The Daily Beast suggests, the grand realignment that Rove used to blather about appears to be happening in a 180 degree opposite to what Rove pontificated about back during the day of Chimperator George Bush.  All of which is a good thing if one opposes the GOP agenda of greed, religious extremism and white supremacy.  Here are some excerpts from the column:

It’s a word seldom heard since Karl Rove brandished it after the 2004 election. On the basis of an Electoral College win secured by the precarious margin of one state, an Ohio rife with voter suppression, “Bush’s brain”—is that a compliment to Rove?—proclaimed an era of Republican realignment. It was short-lived, rebuked in 2006 when Democrats recaptured the House and the Senate—and refuted in 2008, when Barack Obama swept to a commanding victory across an expanded range of battleground states. After a last gasp in the 2010 midterms, in a time of acute economic distress, Rove’s fantasy was demolished in 2012, when the GOP waged a backward-looking campaign directed to the American electorate of a decade and more ago—two white, too old, too rural, too Southern.

Instead, the crabbed, plutocratic, intolerant Republican appeal did succeed—in mobilizing the new America, which convincingly voted for a second Obama term. But something more has happened here than the reelection of one president, as consequential as that is. We are witnessing a Rove in reverse—but this time, an authentic and accelerating realignment in the demography, ideology, and political identity of the American mainstream. And while Obama both reflects and reinforces the impetus to realign, the befuddled, hemmed-in GOP seems doomed to decline.

Congressional Republicans backed off the fiscal cliff, surrendered the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and raised the debt ceiling rather than crashing financial markets and the full faith and credit of the United States. Paul Ryan has now conceded that the GOP won’t shut down the government to extort their preferred cuts in Social Security and Medicare—which they’re still trying to voucherize.

Not since 1936, when FDR called for activist government to redress the shame of “one third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished,” has a second inaugural elicited such partisan vitriol. Across the board, Republicans squealed like stuck elephants.
FDR also spoke then of “a sudden changed civilization.” And in the days before and after Obama invoked “new realities” that demand “collective action,” a cascade of polling has reaffirmed that on issue after issue, mainstream America is with the president. On fundamental questions like the role of government, 61 percent of Americans favor “federal” action to deal with income inequality. In an AP-GfK survey, 80 percent agree that climate change will be “a serious problem ... if nothing is done.”
On social issues, where Republicans are imprisoned in the dogmas of the religious right, the degree of change is profound. Here is a headline from the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll: “Majority for the First Time ... Wants Abortion to Be Legal in All or Most Cases.” According to Gallup, 53 percent support same-sex marriage—and another survey reports a double-digit margin for marriage equality. Americans have joined in the journey from “Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall.”
Similarly, the anti-immigrant Tea types and the gun lobby, the masters of the GOP, are a dwindling minority of America. A Fox News survey, skewed conservative in most of its results, found that 66 percent of people favor “allow[ing] illegal immigrants to remain in the country and eventually qualify for U.S. citizenship.” And Gallup records 91 percent support for universal background checks for gun buyers—and 60 percent for a ban on assault weapons.
Like Jindal, Republican leaders generally have talked about renewal, but walked away from making real and realistic changes. The party’s challenge is not its branding, but its products. You can only traffic so long in an anodyne phrase like “entitlement reform” before Americans figure out that you’re intent on shredding Medicare, Social Security, and education.
The last, best, and perhaps impossible alternative is for Republicans to heed the counsel of Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president: “As our situation is new, we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves.”

Rove has just tried to rationalize the GOP’s plight, and discount the Obama realignment, in a Wall Street Journal column that is a collection of statistics without a coherent or relevant argument. He serves up the Kool-Aid of elections past without accounting for the crucial differences in today’s electorate. He cheers that Obama received fewer votes in 2012 than in 2008. What does that prove about a president who overcame the economic headwinds Rove was certain to the last nanosecond would defeat him, as Bush’s brain resisted Fox News’s decision to call Ohio for Obama? Rove allows that the Republicans “have a perception problem” with Hispanics. If they don’t understand that their problem is more than that, look for 16 years of Barack—and say, then Hillary or Joe—in the Oval Office.

I frankly do not see the GOP changing - at least not before several more rounds of sweeping electoral defeats.  In the meanwhile, expect obstructionism and hysterical efforts to hold back progress and modernity.  Especially by the Christofascist elements of the GOP.

"Ex-Gays" Loons File DOMA Brief

For those unfamiliar with Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays ("PFOX") it is an organization founded by and financially bankrolled by leading Christofacists organization - some of which are registered hate groups - that exists for the sole purpose of maintaining the myth that sexual orientation is a "choice" and something that can be "changed."  While PFOX constantly talks about the thousands and thousands of "ex-gays" that allegedly exist, the only ones that are ever visible are those on "ex-gay" ministry payrolls.  The DOMA and Proposition 8 cases before the U. S. Supreme Court have brought forth a veritable avalanche of amicus brief filings by every nut-bag Christofascist organization imaginable.  Thus, it is no surprise that PFOX has joined the list of religious extremists submitting delusional briefs in the cases.  

As the American Bar Association copy of the PFOX's brief shows, PFOX seeks to deny equity for LGBT Americans.  A quick read of the brief shows it to be a regurgitation of the standard discredited "research" used by the Christofascists to avoid a finding that sexual orientation is immutable and that, therefore, any gay laws should be given strict scrutiny in terms of rationale and discriminatory impact.  If the law clerks at the U. S. Supreme Court are smart, the PFOX brief will be immediately "round filed."  Joe Jervis has an apt description of the PFOX batshitery:

Parents & Friends Of Ex-Gays (PFOX) have filed a Supreme Court brief against the overturn of DOMA. The group is headed by lifelong homosexual Greg Quinlan, who also chairs the anti-gay New Jersey Family Policy Council. In the brief PFOX cites the 2009 DC Superior Court ruling that "ex-gays" are to be afforded anti-protection discrimination as a distinct sexual orientation. The brief goes on to declare that nobody is born gay, that homosexuality is "chosen," and that all the members of PFOX can be found trolling the glory holes at dirty bookstores and truck stops with Eugene Delgaudio on any given night.*

PFOX goes on to cite NARTH, whose co-founder was busted for hiring lithe young Latino prostitutes, and JONAH, who is being sued for asking male clients to expose their genitals and grope themselves in order to "get in touch with their masculinity." Also cited is "ex-gay counselor" Richard Cohen, who asks clients to beat a pillow with a tennis racket while screaming, "Why, Mommy? Why did you make me gay?" 
Such is the "science" used by the Christofascists to avoid admitting that religious based bigotry, and religious based bigotry alone is what is behind DOMA and Proposition 8.  There is no other objective, rational basis for either law.


Friday Morning Male Beauty

Are Taxpayers Paying for Cuccinelli's Campaign Driver?

In his soon to be released book, uncrowned GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli reiterates the mindset of Mitt Romney which views 47% of citizens as mooching leaches and echos failed VP candidate Paul Ryan remarks about "takers."  But if there's anyone who is a taker, it is Cuccinelli himself who has refused to resign from his position as Attorney General even as he campaigns full time.   He wants every Virginian to help pay for his campaign by paying his a salary for a job his isn't doing.  He wants us to support all those children he's fathered trying to convince himself of his heterosexuality.  But now we find out that it isn't just Kookinelli himself that taxpayers are being forced to pay while performing campaign activities.  Even his campaign driver is on the Commonwealth's payroll as revealed by The Richmonder.  Kookinelli is both a hypocrite and a "taker" of the first order.  It is long past time that he and all of his campaign workers of the state payroll resign.  Here are highlights from The Richmonder:

Last week the Richmond Times Dispatch breathlessly reported how Ken Cuccinelli helped a trucker who wasn't aware her rig had caught fire. In their eagerness to do a puff piece on Cuccinelli, the Richmond Times Dispatch missed a few small details, like who exactly is Cuccinelli's driver and who pays for his salary and benefits?

The RTD helpfully provides the young man's name--Cory Chenard--but no other details. Thankfully there is this thing called Google, and when I googled "Cory Chenard," Google took me straight to Mr. Chenard's Linked In profile. It's an interesting profile for a driver, so much so I've saved a copy of it and I'm placing the images in this blog post  [see image above].

Take a moment and read over the profile and ask yourself the following question: is this the profile of a professional driver or chauffeur, or is this the profile of an experienced campaign operative?

Here's some things that leap out at me:

1. Mr. Chenard describes himself as a "Political Entrepreneur," not as a driver or chauffeur.

2. He lists a wide variety of political job experiences, but no driving experience.

3. He does not list driving or having a chauffeur's license--maybe he has one, but he doesn't list one.

If you ask me, this is the profile of a political campaign worker serving as the candidate's "body guy," a kind of on-the-road assistant. Ken Cuccinelli's day job (which he shamelessly neglects in order to campaign) is being the Attorney General of Virginia. Is there anything in Mr. Chenard's profile that suggests he is competent to offer Cuccinelli advice on complex legal matters? No, there isn't, so what kind of advice and assistance does it appear that Mr. Chenard is there to provide?

He looks to me like an experienced and pretty well-qualified campaign worker, which begs the central question of this post: why is the State of Virginia paying one of Ken Cuccinelli's campaign workers a salary and benefits?

Some may ask why Cuccinelli needs a driver to chauffeur him around; allow me to clue those of you who have never worked on a campaign in. Cuccinelli needs a driver so he can convert drive time into "call time," time set aside to call and solicit potential donors. Cuccinelli is almost certainly using a state employee to transport himself to campaign events and to help with political fundraising, all on the taxpayer's dime.

Is it any wonder that some people are calling him "Moochinelli"?

It is also telling that Kookinelli - or Moochinelli - co-wrote his soon to be released book with another individual on the state payroll:

Brian J. Gottstein
Director of Communication
(804) 786-5874

Yes, Kookinelli knows all about moochers and leaches.  He's blazing a new trail in ways to f*ck over Virginia taxpayers.  He must think the rest of us are ignorant cretins as he laughs driving down the highway campaigning on the taxpayers' dime.  He needs to be brought up on ethics charges.

Law Schools’ Applications Fall, Tuition Costs Soar and Jobs Are Scarce

Having been trapped by circumstances in the legal profession for decades I welcome reports that law school applications are plummeting.  The truth is that there are too many lawyers and from my experience, many of the younger ones are only too ready to cut ethical corners in their quest to make a buck.  Such pressure, of course, often tracks back directly to the insanely high debts they incurred going to law school in the first place while career prospects have greatly soured over the last 5 to 8 years.   Many other attorneys like myself who have come to realize what a lousy profession they are in dream of somehow escaping the world of law.  It's not a coincidence that attorneys have among the highest suicide rates of any profession.  The hours are horrible, clients increasingly expect 24/7 service and the pay outside of the mega firms and ambulance chasing personal injury firms isn't what it used to be.  The New York Times has another article in its continuing expose of  the reality of the legal profession that ought to be read by every individual considering law school.  Here are highlights:

Law school applications are headed for a 30-year low, reflecting increased concern over soaring tuition, crushing student debt and diminishing prospects of lucrative employment upon graduation. 

As of this month, there were 30,000 applicants to law schools for the fall, a 20 percent decrease from the same time last year and a 38 percent decline from 2010, according to the Law School Admission Council. Of some 200 law schools nationwide, only 4 have seen increases in applications this year. In 2004 there were 100,000 applicants to law schools; this year there are likely to be 54,000. 

Such startling numbers have plunged law school administrations into soul-searching debate about the future of legal education and the profession over all.

“Thirty years ago if you were looking to get on the escalator to upward mobility, you went to business or law school. Today, the law school escalator is broken.”  

After the normal dropout of some applicants, the number of those matriculating in the fall will be about 38,000, the lowest since 1977, when there were two dozen fewer law schools, according to Brian Z. Tamanaha of Washington University Law School, the author of “Failing Law Schools.”

The drop in applications is widely viewed as directly linked to perceptions of the declining job market. Many of the reasons that law jobs are disappearing are similar to those for disruptions in other knowledge-based professions, namely the growth of the Internet. Research is faster and easier, requiring fewer lawyers, and is being outsourced to less expensive locales, including West Virginia and overseas. 

Last spring, the American Bar Association released a study showing that within nine months of graduation in 2011, only 55 percent of those who finished law school found full-time jobs that required passage of the bar exam. 

“Students are doing the math,” said Michelle J. Anderson, dean of the City University of New York School of Law. “Most law schools are too expensive, the debt coming out is too high and the prospect of attaining a six-figure-income job is limited.”

“In the ’80s and ’90s, a liberal arts graduate who didn’t know what to do went to law school,” Professor Henderson of Indiana said. “Now you get $120,000 in debt and a default plan of last resort whose value is just too speculative. Students are voting with their feet. There are going to be massive layoffs in law schools this fall. We won’t have the bodies we need to meet the payroll.” 

I feel some sorrow for the new attorneys who are finding themselves in a career nightmare.  If they are smart, they will find a way out of law early enough to find other careers.   For those of us older attorneys, we are sadly trapped unless we win the lottery.

Retired LA Cardinal Symbolically Stripped of Duties

Apparently, the increasing amount of dirt coming to light in the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has finally hit the tipping point where even the child rapist protectors at the Vatican believed that some sort of symbolic gesture had to be taken against Cardinal Roger Mahony who has been shown to have deliberately protected molesters and kept information from authorities.  And the volume of dirty is only likely to get worse as more files are released under court order.  While I welcome any kind of action that will humiliate the pompous and arrogant Mahony, the sad reality is that what he did is likely the norm across diocese after diocese around the world.  Protecting children simply did not matter to these horrible men who prance around in dress demanding deference from the gullible.  A piece in the Virginian Pilot looks at this latest development out of Los Angeles.  I don't for a moment believe Archbishop Gomez's feigned disgust - he's only upset the world is seeing the extent of the hierarchy's moral bankruptcy.  Moreover, it is telling that Mahony has not losthis title as cardinal.  Here are story excerpts:

Cardinal Roger Mahony, who retired with a tainted career after dodging criminal charges over how he handled pedophile priests, was stripped of duties by his successor as a judge ordered confidential church personnel files released.

The unprecedented move by Archbishop Jose Gomez came less than two weeks after other long-secret priest personnel records showed how Mahony worked with top aides to protect the Roman Catholic church from the engulfing scandal.

One of those aides, Monsignor Thomas Curry stepped down Thursday as auxiliary bishop in the Los Angeles archdiocese's Santa Barbara region. Gomez said Mahony, 76, would no longer have administrative or public duties in the diocese.

"I find these files to be brutal and painful reading," Gomez said in a statement, referring to 12,000 pages of files posted online by the church Thursday night just hours after a judge's order. "The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil. There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children."

The fallout was highly unusual and marks a dramatic shift from the days when members of the church hierarchy emerged largely unscathed despite the roles they played in covering up clergy sex abuse.

"It's quite extraordinary. I don't think anything like this has happened before," Reese said. "It's showing that there are consequences now to mismanaging the sex abuse crisis."

Several of the documents released late Thursday echo recurring themes that emerged over the past decade in dioceses nationwide, where church leaders moved problem priests between parishes and didn't call the police.

In one instance, a draft of a plan with Mahony's name on it calls for sending a molester priest to his native Spain for a minimum of seven years, paying him $400 a month and offering health insurance. In return, the cardinal would agree to write the Vatican and ask them to cancel his excommunication.
It was unclear whether the proposed agreement was enacted with the Rev. Jose Ugarte, who had been reported to the archdiocese 20 years earlier by a physician for drugging and raping a boy in a hotel in Ensenada, his file shows.   "He has been sexually involved with three young men in addition to the original allegations," Curry, then Mahony's point person for dealing with suspected priests, wrote in 1993.

In another case, Mahony resisted turning over a list of altar boys to police who were investigating claims against a visiting Mexican priest who was later determined to have molested 26 boys during a 10-month stint in Los Angeles

Prosecutors, who have been stymied for years in their attempts to see the internal church files, have said they will search for new evidence of criminal wrongdoing by church leaders. Most of the material, however, now falls well outside the statute of limitations.

Some church critics said Gomez's actions, particularly against Mahony, amounted to a slap on the wrist as long as he remained a cardinal and a member of the powerful Vatican body that elects the Pope.

The reprimand is a "purely symbolic punishment that they hope will satisfy at least some people in the archdiocese," said Terry McKiernan, founder of, which tracks the release of priest files nationally. "I don't think that many savvy observers of this will be deceived."

Oh, and do check out the letters found here which show that the current Pope was involved in the protection of predator priests as well.  The Church hierarchy continues to be an utter cesspool that ought to shock the conscience of decent moral people.  It deserves no repect and certainly no deference by politicans or anyone else.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

More Thursday Male Beauty

Statements on Love - Cynical and Practical

BuzzFeed has a compilation of 39 statements about love by various celebrities in a lead up to Valentine's Day next month.  Here are a couple of personal favorites whether or not I actually agree with them in terms of my personal life:

Check out the others and pick your own favorites.

Should the NFL Suspend San Francisco 49er Chris Culliver?

I'll be upfront on my view of most aspects of pro-sports, but in particular pro-football.  I see pro-football is little more than a modern day version of gladiator contests where most of the players are brutish, mindless idiots who are grossly over paid.   The Clydesdales at Busch Gardens in nearby Williamsburg seemingly out shine many NFL players in the intelligence department.  Underscoring this reality, in the lead up to this weekend's Super Bowl game, Chris Culliver, a seemingly stereotypical dimwitted San Francisco 49er's player has ignited a fire storm with homophobic remarks about gays and gays in the NFL.  Michelangelo Signorile makes the case as to why the NFL/49er's should suspend Culliver and not allow him to play in Sunday's game.  Here are excerpts:

San Francisco 49er Chris Culliver selfishly shot off his mouth yesterday, igniting a firestorm of controversy and creating a nightmare for his team and the National Football League as they head to the Super Bowl. For that alone the NFL should suspend him, his comments having put his entire team at the center of an unnecessary controversy as they're trying to focus on the game.

But for the horrendously bigoted, anti-gay content of his remarks, there is no question that Culliver must be suspended if the NFL is serious about its claims to be taking on homophobia in its ranks. Thanks to players like Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo and their pro-gay advocacy, we're seeing a shift among NFL players, but the leadership needs to take strong stand against Culliver's kind of bigotry if that shift is to continue. 

"I don't do the gay guys, man," Culliver told radio host Artie Lange. "I don't do that. No."  Asked whether there are any gay players on the 49ers, Culliver said, "Nah. We don't got no gay people on the team. You know, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff."

Incredulous, Lange pointed out that gay players might be able to play well, too, but Culliver responded, "Nah. Nah. Can't be... can't... uh... be in the locker room."

Lange then asked whether Culliver thought gay players should stay closeted while playing professionally, and Culliver responded, "Yeah, you gotta, you gotta come out 10 years later after that."

The NFL and many of its officials, as well as many team owners, managers and coaches, have gone to great lengths in condemning homophobia and saying that it would be fine for a player to come out as gay and that he'd be accepted and welcome. But statements like Culliver's, if they go unpunished, make all of that look like window dressing, and no player is going to even think about coming out.

The San Francisco 49ers issued a statement condemning Culliver's remarks and saying that they have "addressed the matter with Chris" and that they "proudly support the LGBT community." But again, without any repercussions, it's all just words. Culliver himself issued a ridiculously weak apology that he didn't even seem to write himself: "The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel," he said. "Those discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart."  Really?

[T]he 49ers suspended running back Brandon Jacobs just last month for making derogatory comments about his bosses. Are the team management saying that they take it seriously when they themselves are insulted, but not when closeted gay players and gay fans are subjected to bigoted, offensive remarks? 

If there is no suspension, the message from the NFL to young people, amid continued reports of suicides by LGBT youth who experienced bullying, is that it's OK for sports players and everyone else to attack gays and demand that they stay closeted and live in shame. If Culliver faces no repercussions, then the NFL's words about support and acceptance of gay athletes and fans are completely empty.
Personally, I agree with Michelangelo.  Suspend Culliver's ass.

The Hagel Witch Hunt - The GOP Has Learned Nothing

This blog has published a number of posts taking to task politicians who claim that they "support the troops" while on the campaign circuit yet who betray the troops and throw away American lives - and also bankrupt the country - as they seek to go off on one foreign war fool's errand after another.  The totally unnecessary Iraq War and the continuing fiasco in Afghanistan are two prime example.  And in questioning today directed at Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, the biggest GOP objection to Hagel seemingly is that he (i) calls the Iraq War for the needless disaster that it was and (ii) isn't sufficiently reckless and willing to take the nation into un-winnable wars.    Indeed, one would think the GOP's only concern is to maximize profits to defense contractors.  The lives of American troops?  They simply are not an issue to these members of the GOP.  Perhaps because so many of these assholes don't even have family members in the military in harm's way.   The Daily Beast looks at the GOP effort to crucify Hagel because his isn't enough of a war monger.  Here are highlights:

The contentious Senate hearing for Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel divided starkly along partisan lines, with Republicans attacking their former colleague with the pitchfork zeal of heretic hunters.

Hagel’s calm recitation of consensus catechism on issues ranging from Iran to Israel to nuclear weapons didn’t seem to make any impression on his conservative critics.

This was personal. John McCain repeatedly interrupted his “old friend” and fellow Vietnam Vet with palpable anger, his fury directed at Hagel’s opposition to the Iraq War and the 2007 troop surge. The core offense appeared to be Hagel’s contention that the invasion of Iraq was the worst foreign policy “disaster” since Vietnam – a parallel that infuriates McCain.
Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, a Republican, reinforced his reputation as possibly the worst U.S. Senator with bear-baiting questions like this: “Why do you think that the Iranian foreign ministry so strongly supports your nomination for Secretary of Defense?”
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions doggedly focused on a report by the anti-nuke group Global Zero, which advocates the elimination of nuclear weapons. The report was co-authored by Hagel, four generals and a number of ambassadors. The organization itself has hundreds of international leaders who have signed on to its recommendations, including Reagan’s Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, Carter National Security Advisor Zbignew Brezinksi, 9/11 Commission Co-Chair Lee Hamilton and General Anthony Zinni. Sessions and other Republican senators kept cherry-picking phrases from the report and ignoring substantive subtlety, despite Hagel’s repeated assurance and demonstrated record in opposing unilateral disarmament and support for modernizing the U.S. nuclear program. This clarification by the authors might help calm any genuine concerns, if they exist.

It made me wonder what Sessions would have said to Ronald Reagan, who advocated for nuclear disarmament more than 150 times, according to his aide Martin Anderson, in statements like this: “I believe we’ve come to the point that we must go at the matter of realistically reducing… if not totally eliminating, nuclear weapons—the threat to the world.”

A Democratic President nominating a Republican to his cabinet is usually seen as bipartisan outreach. But not this time. The reason, I think, is threefold.
First, it reflects the polarization afflicting the Republican party and its intolerance of dissent. Hagel is a small-government conservative but a committed internationalist who is wary of unilateral American over-extension, views that extend from his experience as a twice-wounded enlisted infantryman in Vietnam.
Second, it reflects the tortured legacy of the Iraq War and the contradictions it creates for conservatives who feel compelled to defend that war of choice, predicated on flawed intelligence presented to the American people. Hagel earned the enduring anger of the neo-conservative crowd by openly criticizing the Bush administration for its prosecution of the Iraq war and subsequently opposing the Surge. Defenders of the Bush administration now often try to delink the decision to invade from the decision to double down with the surge as a way of reclaiming the high ground. It is now clear that Hagel was right at least on this count: the invasion of Iraq was an ideologically driven overreach that proved a costly distraction from Afghanistan in terms of both blood and treasure while further destabilizing the region. History, as Hagel noted, will be the ultimate judge.
Third, it reflects the deep animus that still exists for President Obama on the part of some conservatives–so much so that any Republican who consents to serve with him is seen as a traitor to the tribe, a dynamic also seen in the GOP’s primary rejection of Utah governor and former Obama China Ambassador Jon Huntsman, despite being arguably the most fiscally conservative candidate in the 2012 pack. By consenting to serve with President Obama–and therefore creating bipartisan cover for the Democrat’s defense strategy–Hagel has committed an unpardonable sin.

My view?  The next time you encounter a GOP elected official bloviating about "supporting the troops," call them out.  I certainly plan on doing so. They are lying assholes.

Hate Group Leader Blames Military Suicide Increase on DADT Repeal

Hate group leader Tony Perkins rants against the Southern Poverty Law Center's designation of Family Research Council as an anti-gay hate group.  Yet he continues to demonstrate precisely why the SPLC was 100% on target in giving the hate group designation to FRC.  It his latest eruption of anti-gay animus, Perkins is blaming the U. S. military's exploding suicide rate on the gays.  That's right, in Perkins' bizarre alternate universe, it is DADT repeal, not (i) the horrors troops are seeing in the fool's errand wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, (ii) the repeated deployments to those hell holes - my son-in-law was on his third deployment when he was seriously wounded last November - and (iii) the military's failure to take mental health issues seriously that is the reason that members of the military are taking their own lives in unprecedented numbers.  Right Wing Watch reports on Perkins' latest foul anti-gay lies:

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has joined American Family Association’s Buster Wilson in linking the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to the military’s suicide rate.  .  .  .  . Perkins said that the Obama administration’s work in “driving Christianity out [and] putting homosexuality in” are “adding additional stress” that leads to a higher rate of suicide. Perkins cited no evidence to back up his claim, but as with his ominous and incorrect predictions regarding the consequences of DADT’s repeal, he apparently doesn’t see a need to substantiate his outrageous allegations.

Perkins: The volume of these decisions coming out of this administration is unbelievable, unbelievable. The stress in our military, when you look how they have used the military for their social experimentation: driving Christianity out, putting homosexuality in, suicide rate going through the ceiling. I think it was last year if I recall the numbers there were 349 suicides in 2012 and I believe that’s more than were killed in combat, that’s the highest number since the Pentagon began tracking suicides back in 2001. And what are they doing? Adding additional stress by this social engineering. Unbelievable.
 What's unbelievable is that anyone moral and sane listens to Perkins - a failed state politician with white supremacist ties - and his fellow Christian Taliban hate merchants.  

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Cuccinelli Echoes Romney’s Condemnation of the "47 percent"

As noted in a previous post, the national Republican Party has a Virginia problem and no one person embodies it more that Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli as he continues to make it very clear that he is an extremist of the highest order.  The man, in my opinion, needs a serious mental health intervention, but that, of course, only makes him more of a darling to cretins and Christofascists in the GOP base, especially here in Virginia where ignorance and backwardness are considered the highest of virtues.  And just in time for the build up of the 2013 gubernatorial election Kookinelli has a new book out that will no doubt delight knuckle draggers and those who be thrilled by a return of the Spanish Inquisition in Virginia.  For everyone else, the book out to be a clarion call that Kookinelli is utterly unfit to be Governor of Virginia.  Both the Washington Post and Politico have reviews of the book which among other things echo's Mitt Romney's condemnation of 47% of the American populace.  First these highlights from the Washington Post piece:

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s new book doesn’t hit stores until Feb. 12, but a few pages of it have trickled out to The Washington Post.

Spoiler alert: The pages reveal Cuccinelli is a conservative. His campaign declined to comment Wednesday night.

On the pages sent the Post’s way, Cuccinelli uses language akin to Mitt Romney’s famous “47 percent” comment. The Republican presidential candidate had suggested that a share of the electorate was so dependent on government hand-outs that it would never vote for him.

Romney’s words, captured on a hidden camera, helped sink his campaign. Time will tell how the similar language plays for Cuccinelli, who unlike Romney has never been accused of trying to pass himself off as a moderate. In his case, he wants voters to hear it.

A few excerpts:
— “Sometimes bad politicians set out to grow government in order to increase their own power and influence. This phenomenon doesn’t just happen in Washington; it happens at all levels of government. The amazing this is that they often grow government without protest from citizens, and sometimes they even get buy-in from citizens — at least from the ones getting the goodies.

“One of their favorite ways to increase their power is by creating programs that dispense subsidized government benefits, such as Medicare, Social Security, and outright welfare (Medicaid, food stamps, subsidized housing, and the like). These programs make people dependent on government. And once people are dependent, they feel they can’t afford to have the programs taken away, no matter how inefficient, poorly run, or costly to the rest of society.”
We of course who Kookinelli means when he talks about "the ones getting the goodies": blacks, Hispanics and minorities.  Those who are part of the angry white male base of the Virginia GOP.  As for gays, Kookinelli has made his hatred of us painfully clear.  And on abortion, Kookinelli wants a total ban.  No exceptions of any kind.

Politico has some interesting excerpts as well:

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has no intention of modulating his uncompromising conservatism to get elected governor. He just needs to explain it better than others have.

That’s the unmistakable message of the Republican gubernatorial candidate’s new book — a 252-page tea party jeremiad of blistering attacks on government in general and President Barack Obama in particular that could make it difficult to broaden his appeal to the kinds of voters he needs to win in November.

“The Last Line of Defense” presents Republican state attorney generals as the last line of defense for liberty. It’s packed with dire warnings about “the big-government leviathan,” “government diktats on every sector of our economy” and “big-government statists.”

In the acknowledgements, Cooch – as the 44-year-old is commonly called – praises the tea party: “I truly appreciate their commitment to first principles.”

On prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage because of a preexisting condition, he adds: “Although this aspect of the law was very popular, it was one of the fastest ways to put private insurance companies out of business, as the costs of treating these conditions could easily exceed the premiums companies would be allowed to charge policyholders with the conditions.”

He also pointedly attacks an alphabet soup of federal entities, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, the National Labor Relations Board and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.  He calls Obama’s administration “the biggest set of lawbreakers in America.”
Few political professionals would encourage a candidate to write this kind of book, especially one who now faces no GOP opponent for the nomination. But Cuccinelli is believed to harbor grander ambitions than the governor’s office, and he is well positioned to be a thought leader of the conservative movement even if he loses in November.

Kookinelli has delusions of grandeur and in my opinion is just as crazy as Hitler was.  He belongs in a mental ward, not the Governor's Mansion.  That he is the unopposed GOP nominee speaks volumes about how low the Virginia GOP has fallen.  He must be defeated in November.

Tough Times for the GOP Bigots

While there is still much work to be done and there is an extreme need to be watchful lest the GOP manage to use gerrymandering and manipulation of the Electoral College to subvert majority rule in elections, there are nonetheless encouraging signs that the hate merchants of the GOP and its Tea Party and Christofascist auxiliary organizations are slowly but steadily losing the larger culture war.  If nothing else, more and more of the most hate filled bigots - the mainstay of the GOP - are literally dying off.  A piece in the Daily Kos helps to remind us that longer term things will get better (a message one needs to hear from time to time living here in backwards Virginia).  It also has some data that may help explain why the Boy Scouts may be about to change their anti-gay policies: their membership is plummeting.  Here are some column highlights:

Eight months ago, Vice President Joe Biden set in motion a great national evolution when speaking to CBS, he said,
I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties.
It wasn't long before President Barack Obama declared his own "evolution" and embraced equality, setting of celebrations among freedom-loving liberals and, yes, celebrations among bigots convinced this would be the death knell of the Obama presidency. As one online conservative gloated at the time:
If there is a day to finger for Barack Obama losing the Presidency in 2012, it will be Sunday, May 6, 2012.
On that day, Joe Biden* went on national television and proclaimed himself in favor of gay marriage. It started a media spiral for the President. Two days after Biden spoke, North Carolina voters voted by overwhelming margins to leave marriage alone. The next day, Barack Obama went on national television to devolve back to the position he held prior to running for President [...]
*Okay, in fairness, we could arguably say August 23, 2008, was the day Obama lost his re-election. That’s the day he chose Biden to be veep and we all knew it was only a matter of time...
Delicious, isn't it? Things have only looked worse for the haters since mid 2012.

Conservatives didn't just lose their first marriage equality ballot initiative in November of 2012, but got swept in four of them, including Maine which had as recently as 2009 voted the other way. In fact, Maine is quite instructive in the dizzying pace of social change. In the 2009 initiative, marriage equality lost 53-47. In the 2012 edition, it won ... 53-47, a 12-point shift in just three years.  The speed of social change continues unabated.

Meanwhile, another culture warrior organization is on the verge (at least partially) of throwing in the towel.  .  .  .  .   Membership in the Scouts has dropped from 4 million members in 1986, to 3.4 million in 1998 to 2.65 million last year. There is an entire generation of fathers (me included) who spent time in the Scouts but would never consider it for their boys.

Don't worry, though. The Scouts will continue to ban atheists! And Alabama haters should be safe. But that's not enough for Tony Perkins, who is seeing his entire hate-built world view crumbling around him. Very, very delicious!

Young people continue to embrace equality while older haters die off. Hopes that Latinos were "socially conservative" and could help stem the tide were dashed this past November, when exit polls showed them even more socially liberal than the American population at large. People (including me) forgot that on top of everything else, Latinos are young. The median age of native-born Latinos is EIGHTEEN. In our society, youth equals tolerance.

After years of using anti-gay ballot initiatives to drive up their base participation, it is now Republicans who are afraid of those mean Democrats using "divisive social issues" for political gain. Gay marriage is on the cusp of becoming a reality in several more states, from Illinois to Minnesota, from Hawaii to New Jersey.

But it's not just the Blue states. How about one of the Reddest of all?
A bill allowing gay couples to enter into domestic partnerships got the support of a Wyoming House of Representatives committee Monday for the first time in the state's history.

The House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee voted 7-2 to recommend approval of House Bill 168 and send it to the full House.
The decision to advance the domestic partnership legislation came moments after the same committee voted 5-4 to reject a bill to legalize gay marriage in the state.
Literally a decade ago, Howard Dean's support for civil unions in Vermont was considered so crazy that it would doom any general election presidential chances. This week, it passed easily in Wyoming, and only after gay freakin' marriage lost by a single vote in committee. IN WYOMING! 

One can only imagine the hysteria behind closed doors at Christofascist groups like Family Research Council and NOM where the days of huge salaries (Brian Brown at NOM made $500,000 in 2011) based on peddling hatred may be doomed in the long run.  Just imagine if these bigots have to get real jobs.  Delicious indeed.

The GOP's Virginia Problem

As the Republican Party nationally attempts to fix its supposed "messaging" problem, GOP members of the Virginia General Assembly are busy making it clear to everyone watching that batshit craziness and extremism are the party's real problem regardless of how deep in denial GOP potentates maybe.  Frankly, what is being witnessed with the Virginia GOP is what one would expect when de facto control of the party has been turned over to white supremacists, knuckle dragging Neanderthals who celebrate the embrace of ignorance and the religious fanatics at The Family Foundation, a Christofascist organization with ties to the hate group Family Research Council.  Politico has a lengthy piece that looks at the GOP lunacy in Richmond and how it is churning out bad PR for the GOP nationally.  Here are excerpts:

As GOP leaders in Washington look to remake their national brand, they don’t have to look far to find their first real challenge.  It’s taming rogue Republicans right across the Potomac.

In the eyes of party strategists, Virginia’s off-year elections represent a first opportunity to bounce back from the losses of 2012 – a chance to reset the political debate in a critical swing state, send off popular Gov. Bob McDonnell on a high note and deliver a national message about the direction of the Republican Party.

If only the Republican state legislature, local conservative leadership and de facto gubernatorial nominee could stick to the talking points. Instead, national Republicans fear the true believers in Richmond could shout down their fledgling message of prudence and moderation in a state that’s easy prey for much of the political media.

The GOP-held state Senate rocked Old Dominion politics less than two weeks ago by passing a daring plan to redraw the legislative map, rushing the proposal through as a potentially decisive Democratic lawmaker was out of town for Inauguration Day. In the days since then, legislators again stirred national attention by flirting with – before ultimately discarding – a proposal to divvy up Virginia’s Electoral College votes by congressional district, effectively rigging the state for the GOP.
All of that came as a highly unwelcome sequel to the 2012 uproar over a Virginia measure – championed by conservative state Del. Bob Marshall – mandating ultrasound procedures for women seeking abortions.

It was less than a year ago that Democrats seized on that issue as a national cause, using it to drive Virginia women away from the GOP ticket from Mitt Romney on down. Within Virginia, Republicans blame the ultrasound firestorm for undercutting McDonnell as a vice presidential contender and damaging Senate candidate George Allen, who ultimately lost to former governor Tim Kaine.

Now, the same legislative body that steered the 2012 GOP message off course has struggled to refocus on a winning agenda for 2013. The still-unresolved redistricting controversy, Republicans say, has been an unwanted distraction from McDonnell’s ambitious proposals to overhaul education and transportation. The Virginia House of Delegates is expected to decide soon whether or not to take up the Senate’s provocative new legislative map, with McDonnell’s legacy and national profile once again at stake.

The stakes are far higher than in your garden-variety state legislative wrangling: Virginia has become one of the most important swing states in the country, a traditional GOP stronghold that now has two Democratic U.S. senators and voted twice for President Barack Obama.

While polls show the 2013 governor’s race is highly competitive, Republicans have felt distinctly anxious in recent weeks over a series of hard-right comments by state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a hero of national conservatives who has continued to speak out on issues such as contraception and the Affordable Care Act despite outside pressure to pivot toward the middle.

Republicans are keenly aware that their political foes have perfected the art of hyping up clashes in Richmond and turning them to the GOP’s disadvantage. The governor’s office isn’t the only prize on the ballot this year: the other statewide constitutional offices hang in the balance, as does the Republican super-majority in the legislature’s lower chamber.

After the triumph of Democratic culture-war politics in the 2012 cycle, the party has actively worked to tie Cuccinelli to the legislature’s least popular actions – even as the Republican has expressed disapproval of measures like the Electoral College scheme. The state party has blasted out hits on “The extreme Cuccinelli-Marshall agenda,” referring to the state legislature who championed last year’s ultrasound bill.

And the Republican candidate has continued to offer up fodder, dabbling in the federal contraception debate on national talk radio and writing a book-cum-ideological manifesto, “The Last Line of Defense,” set for release in February.

McAuliffe communications director Brennan Bilberry signaled that the Democratic nominee would effectively enlist the legislature in making the case that Cuccinelli’s too much of a hardliner to serve as governor: “Cuccinelli’s desire to impose his social agenda in Virginia is especially disturbing to voters who know that many Republicans in the legislature would happily help implement his extreme ideas.”

Cuccinelli adviser Chris LaCivita dismissed the notion that even repeated cycles of legislative drama could have an impact on the overall climate for Republicans.

The simple truth is that the Virginia GOP has become a party of radical extremists with Cuccinelli being one of the most deranged of the lot.  I certainly will try to inform voters on the issue via this blog and my VEER Magazine columns.