Saturday, March 16, 2013

Caption This

A friend sent out his weekly e-mail of jokes and cartoons and the image above was included in the mix.  Call me mean spirited, but I just could not resist posting it.  Readers can suggest the best caption.  Sadly, to me, it sums up what is probably an all too prevalent mindset among the bitter old men at the Vatican.

Joe Scarborough: Ted Cruz ‘Willfully Ignorant,’ ‘Condescending,’ ‘Playing To Illiterates’

This blog has looked at the tactics and positions of Joe McCarthy want to be Senator Ted Cruz (pictured above) of Texas in past posts.  The man is reprehensible and, of course, therefore the darling of the Tea Party.  The other day former GOP Congressman and TV commentator Joe Scarborough took Cruz to task along with the the political agenda that he is championing.  Scarborough described Cruz as willfully ignorant," "condescending" and "playing to illiterates."  The latter description aptly describing the base of today's GOP.   Here are highlights from Think Progress:

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough tore into Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for claiming on Thursday, during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that a ban on assault weapons is unconstitutional, calling the argument ignorant and asking if the Harvard-educated lawmaker is illiterate. 

Cruz made the comments moments before the Senate committee advanced Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) proposed ban on military-style weapons to the full Senate and rudely lectured Feinstein on Second Amendment jurisprudence, likening restrictions on guns to censoring books under the First Amendment.

On Friday, the Morning Joe host explained that Cruz’s argument misinterpreted “what the Second Amendment says and what Scalia, Thomas, and the conservative court said in 2008 about what the Second Amendment is and what it is not”:
SCARBOROUGH: Did they teach Ted Cruz to read what the Supreme Court said? Especially in the landmark, the landmark decision regarding Second Amendment rights over 200 years was written in 2008? I’m just wondering why would he use his seat on the Judiciary Committee if he went to Harvard to — to — to put forward a willfully ignorant statement about this bill violating the Second Amendment, because it does not. And Ted Cruz knows it does not. So who is he playing for? Is he playing for — for — for people who can’t read, for illiterates? I don’t understand…. When you’re condescending and you don’t even have the facts right. When you’re misstating what the Second Amendment says as interpreted by the conservative court, by Scalia. I have a problem with that.
[T]o quote Justice Scalia’s decision in the landmark 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” The ruling also allows limitations on ownership of “dangerous and unusual” weapons that are not in “common use” — like, for example, assault weapons.

Cruz is a demagogue plain and simple.

GOP Elite vs. GOP Base On Gay Marriage

As noted in a post yesterday, Senator Bob Portman's conversion on gay marriage triggered a tempest of flying spittle and angst among the knuckle dragging, Bible thumping elements of the GOP base.  Meanwhile, among the Washington elite of the GOP Portman's change of position merited a yawn or perhaps even quiet approval.  One can only suspect that the so-called elite see where the nation is trending on gay marriage - or even anticipate a Supreme Court ruling striking down some or all of the gay marriage bans - and want to reposition the party away from a losing long term position.  Such pragmatism and acceptance of reality, of course, is something unknown to the party base, especially the Christofascists elements.   A piece in Politico looks at the subtle but growing divide between the rational elements still in the GOP and the increasingly racists and religiously fanatical party base.  Here are excerpts:

Far from touching off a Beltway political firestorm, Portman’s announcement that he has a gay son and now supports same-sex marriage drew a muted or even positive response from his fellow members of the Republican elite.

The reality Portman’s flip-flop exposed is this: among the Republican political community, the people who actually run campaigns and operate super PACs, support for gay marriage is almost certainly a solid majority position. Among strategists born after the end of the Vietnam War, it’s not even a close call.

Polls show that the base of the Republican Party remains opposed to gay marriage, though open to civil unions between partners of the same sex. Some of Portman’s colleagues struck a moderate tone on marriage over the last week: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said the definition of marriage should be a state issue, while libertarian-leaning Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul floated the idea of removing marriage from the tax code and freeing adults to make marriage-like contracts for legal and financial purposes.

The result is a Republican leadership class that’s sharply at odds, culturally, with the voters their party aims to lead.

A vivid illustration came just a few weeks ago, when in late February a throng of top Republican politicos signed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to support a constitutional right to gay marriage. Among them were a half-dozen senior aides to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, which officially took the view that marriage is exclusively between one man and one woman.  .   .   .   .   David Kochel, a top Romney adviser who steered his Iowa caucus campaign, said his endorsement of the amicus brief wasn’t even controversial in his professional circle.

On top of the generation gap, Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson said there are other cultural factors separating the GOP’s political practitioners from their conservative constituents.  “While age is an obvious factor that relates to views on the issue of gay marriage, so too does income, education level, living in the Northeast. If you think about many political consultants being upper-income Northeastern folks, then that might contribute to them [leaning] more favorably toward gay marriage than Republicans more broadly,” said Anderson, who supports gay marriage.

The perception that the GOP upper crust looks down on social conservatism isn’t a new one: cultural conservatives have grumbled for years that the Republican moneyed elite cares more about keeping capital gains taxes low than protecting the unborn.

Republican media consultant Nick Everhart, whose Ohio-based firm has worked for a number of the most conservative Senate candidates during the past few cycles, said there’s clearly a “disconnect” between the party in D.C. and the base in the states.

“It’s clear that a number of the institutions in Washington aren’t cognizant of the fact that there is a disconnect and they’re on the polar opposite side of where the GOP primary electorate is,” Everhart said. “It’s going to continue leading to disagreement and rancor with the base.”

Actual elected officials are more skittish about getting crosswise with the party base on a central values issue like marriage. Of all the signatories to the pro-gay marriage amicus brief, only one was a Republican who actually has to face the voters in a remotely competitive election: New York Rep. Richard Hanna. There are others sympathetic to the same-sex marriage cause, or at least utterly indifferent to the outcome, but they’ve kept quiet so far.

When and where things will shake out is anyone's guess long term.  The GOP's real problem is that the elite cynically decided to let the Christofascists and racists into the party for short term political advantage and now the Frankenstein monster they created may well be the death of the party as the poisonous party base refuses to move with the times much less embrace modernity and knowledge.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

CPAC Participant Defends Slavery, Says It Gave Food and Shelter to Blacks

CPAC - Scott Terry
The swamp fever that has overtaken the Republican Party seems to be festering to new levels as we now see CPAC participants speaking out in favor of slavery and segregation.   My question to former colleagues who have remained Republicans is: when are they going to start handing out white robes and hoods at both CPAC and local GOP committee meetings?   What I find striking - and frightening - is the way in which the Christofascists and Tea Party crowd (which is in many ways synonymous with the far right Christian crowd) is that they truly do not see gays, minorities and non-Christians as even fully human.  It is as if were were some different species or, worse yet, some type of animals rather than human.  It is a horrible testament as to what has been done to the Gospel message by these modern day Pharisees and hate merchants.  Think Progress looks at the lunacy and hate in full bloom at CPAC.  Here are highlights:

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — A panel at the Conservative Political Action Committee on Republican minority outreach exploded into controversy on Friday afternoon, after an audience member defended slavery as good for African-Americans. 

The exchange occurred after an audience member from North Carolina, 30-year-old Scott Terry, asked whether Republicans could endorse races remaining separate but equal. After the presenter, K. Carl Smith of Frederick Douglass Republicans, answered by referencing a letter by Frederick Douglass forgiving his former master, the audience member said “For what? For feeding him and housing him?” Several people in the audience cheered and applauded Terry’s outburst.

After the exchange, Terry muttered under his breath, “why can’t we just have segregation?” noting the Constitution’s protections for freedom of association.

Terry was bold enough to say what he believes.  Many others in the GOP base don't publicly announce it, but they are in total agreement with Terry.  Terry is the face of today's GOP no matter how much the party's apologists claim otherwise.

Australian Expert: End Celibacy to Reduce Sex Abuse by Priests

While the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy continues to claim that the requirement of of celibacy for priests has played no role in the Church's worldwide sex abuse problem, an Australian experts says otherwise.  Moreover, he gets directly to why celibacy has been a requirement: money,  The Church doesn't want to have to support the wives and families of priests.  It is the bottom line reason why celibacy first came into vogue in the 12th century.  Money, the Vatican's one true god.  He also notes that the caliber of men becoming priests continues to drop as fewer normal men are willing to accept the celibacy requirement.  The Herald Sun looks at this expert's testimony.  Here are excerpts:

Former clinical director of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Health, Professor Paul Mullen, says celibacy has no basis in theology and is just a form of discipline in the priesthood.

Prof Mullen added the issue is a financial one for the church.  "I've have heard a Catholic bishop say that the reason celibacy is maintained is that they could not afford to pay priests, they couldn't afford to pay them pensions, they couldn't afford to pay them enough if they had a wife and children," he told the Victorian parliamentary inquiry today.

"This is entirely discipline and its main motivation is money."  Prof Mullen said he was not sure what would spark the church to change.

But he said the problem of clergy preying on children would remain for as long as they are required to remain celibate. He said for this reason, fewer people were joining the priesthood, leading some to be selected who were not cut out for it.

"As long as there are increasing numbers of priests who are not intellectually, culturally, socially of the highest calibre, let alone spiritually, you've just got to prevent them any access to children. Simple as that," he said.

"There will come a point where financially, it is cheaper to have married priests than to keep on being sued."  Prof Mullen called for a public education campaign on child sex abuse, just like there was for bullying and smoking.  Sex education should also include sexual abuse of children, he told the inquiry, which is looking into how religious and other organisations handle child sex abuse allegations.

From my experience before leaving Catholicism, I have to agree with Mullen.  In addition, I have always maintained that had priests and bishops and cardinals had children of their own, we would never have seen this callous - and criminal - effort to merely seep sexual abuse of children under the rug.  No one with children of their own could have countenanced the crimes that were done and have protected the predators.

Supreme Court Grants Solicitor General Request to Argue Against Prop 8

The speculation continues to swirl around how the United States Supreme Court will rule in the pending gay marriage cases that will see oral argument before month end.   As noted before on this blog, should the Court decide to dodge the issue of same sex marriage to maximum extent possible, it could do so by finding that the appellants in both cases lack what is called “standing” to litigate the lawsuits.  Indeed, the Court independently engaged Harvard Law professor Vicki C. Jackson to brief the issue of standing in both the Proposition 8 appeal and in the DOMA appeal brought by the GOP members of the House of Representatives.  In the DOMA appeal, Professor Jackson filed her amicus brief and, not surprisingly, found (a) that the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction given the posture of the case and (b) that the House GOP lacked standing to defend a ruling in which the executive branch has acquiesced. Similar issues of standing surround the Proposition 8 case where the appellants are the proponents of the ballot initiative since the state of California has refused to defend Proposition 8.  But many suspect that the court may feel compelled to address the issue especially now that even a Southern Baptist Convention survey has found 64% of respondents see gay marriage nationwide as inevitable.  In the latest development, the Court has granted Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr.'s request for time to argue against Prop 8's constitutionality.  Here are highlights from Equality on Trial:

The Supreme Court has granted a request from the Solicitor General for time to argue in support of the same-sex couples who are plaintiffs in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Prop 8 case.

The Solicitor General had filed a brief in the case on behalf of the United States. Their argument rests on California’s situation: the state treats gays and lesbians the same in most respects (including parenting and allowing the filing of joint taxes) but Prop 8 denies gay and lesbian couples alone the designation of marriage. In the administration’s view, the Court can apply a heightened level of judicial scrutiny, since the law classifies people in the basis of sexual orientation, which is not a valid basis on which to make laws; then, the Court can hold that under a heightened level of judicial scrutiny, denial of the label “marriage” violates equal protection when a state already treats gays and lesbians equal to straight people. The administration suggests this view instead of an “all 50 states” decision, as a pragmatic step. But if the Court decides to apply heightened scrutiny to laws impacting gays and lesbians, it isn’t clear that any ban would survive review.

The Solicitor General, of course, hasn’t been involved in the Prop 8 case at any stage of the litigation. In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama said that he opposed the amendment, but also believed marriage is only the union of a man and a woman. During the Prop 8 campaign, his words were used in Yes on 8 ads to persuade voters to pass the initiative. But over time the president’s views changed and last year he came around to personally supporting marriage equality. The Solicitor General’s brief, which was signed off on by the president himself, was the first time the president (or any President of the United States) had ever suggested there is a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Vatican Does Damage Control Over Francis I's Role in "Dirty War"

 UPDATED 3-16-2013:  The questions about Francis' role in the "Dirty War" continues to have legs.  The Washington Post looks at the story here.

While much of the media continues to fawn over the newly elected Pope Francis I happily gulping down up the pablum dished out by the Vatican, some news outlets are continuing to focus on Francis I - then Jorge Bergogli's - role during Argentina's "Dirty War" when the military dictatorship kidnapped and murdered thousands of political opponents and their presumed supporters.   Apparently, the focus on Francis I's past actions that do not comport with the image the Vatican is trying to spin has hit some raw nerves in Rome.  As the Virginian Pilot reports, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi has had a temper tantrum and is blaming calling such coverage "defamatory" and part of a "anti-clerical left-wing" campaign to discredit the new Pope.   One has to wonder why the bitter old men who elected Bergoglio pope had not considered this possible negative baggage before hand.  Particularly after having selected a former Hitler youth as pope in 2005.  A piece in Democracy Now looks at the lingering questions about events during the "Dirty War."  Here are some highlights:

While praised for his work with the poor, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio — now Pope Francis — has long been dogged by accusations of his role during Argentina’s military dictatorship. We speak to Horacio Verbitsky, a leading Argentine journalist who exposed Francis’ connection to the abduction of two Jesuit priests. Verbitsky is an investigative journalist for the newspaper Página/12, or Page/12, and head of the Center for Legal and Social Studies, an Argentine human rights organization

Horacio Verbitsky, who has written extensively about the career of Cardinal Bergoglio and his actions during the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. During that time, up to 30,000 people were kidnapped and killed. A 2005 lawsuit accused Jorge Bergoglio of being connected to the 1976 kidnappings of two Jesuit priests, Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics. The lawsuit was filed after the publication of Verbitsky’s book, The Silence: From Paul VI to Bergoglio: The Secret Relations Between the Church and the ESMA. ESMA refers to the former navy school that was turned into a detention center where people were tortured by the military dictatorship. The new pope has denied the charges. He twice invoked his right under Argentine law to refuse to appear in open court to testify about the allegations. When he eventually did testify in 2010, human rights activists characterized his answers as evasive.

But when the military coup overthrow the Isabel Perón government, he was in touch with the military that ousted this government and asked the Jesuits to stop their social work. And when they refused to do it, he stopped protecting them, and he let the military know that they were not more inside the protection of the Jesuits’ company, and they were kidnapped. And they accuse him for this deed. He denies this. He said to me that he tried to get them free, that he talked with the former dictator, Videla, and with former dictator Massera to have them freed.

And during a long period, I heard two versions: the version of the two kidnapped priests that were released after six months of torture and captivity, and the version of Bergoglio.

I found documents in the archive of the foreign relations minister in Argentina, which, from my understanding, gave an end to the debate and show the double standard that Bergoglio used. The first document is a note in which Bergoglio asked the ministry to—the renewal of the passport of one of these two Jesuits that, after his releasing, was living in Germany, asking that the passport was renewed without necessity of this priest coming back to Argentina. The second document is a note from the officer that received the petition recommending to his superior, the minister, the refusal of the renewal of the passport. And the third document is a note from the same officer telling that these priests have links with subversion—that was the name that the military gave to all the people involved in opposition to the government, political or armed opposition to the military—and that he was jailed in the mechanics school of the navy, and saying that this information was provided to the officer by Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio, provincial superior of the Jesuit company. This means, to my understanding, a double standard. He asked the passport given to the priest in a formal note with his signature, but under the table he said the opposite and repeated the accusations that produced the kidnapping of these priests.

[The two priests] They were tortured. They were interrogated. One of the interrogators had externally knowings about theological questions, that induced one of them, Orlando Yorio, to think that their own provincial, Bergoglio, had been involved in this interrogatory.

There's much more that deserves a full read.  The sad truth is that the Church has often sided with cruel and repressive regimes when it has been thought that such alliances with evil would protect the Church's wealth and power.  Wealth and power are at the end of the day the Church hierarchy's true god.

Detached from Objective Reality?

The Pope, wearing a fabulous vintage chiffon-lined Dior gold lame gown
over a silk Vera Wang empire waist tulle cocktail dress,
accessorized with a three-foot House of Whoville hat and
the ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in the Wizard of Oz, on his way to tell us it's Wrong to be Gay.
Blogger friend Karen Ocamb had re-posted this on Facebook and it was just too good to pass up.  And the Catholic Church leadership wonders why it is increasingly ignored and deemed irrelevant even by the Catholic laity?   This photo illustrates just how detached from objective reality the hierarchy has become.  One can't help but wonder how many poor children could have been fed with the money spent on Francis' and his acolytes' outfits.

Elderly CPAC Attendees and Pastors Attack Portman

In a post this morning I looked at the stunning but welcomed reversal of Ohio Senator Robert Portman on the issue of gay marriage.  Another post also looked at the growing strains between the younger conservatives and the Bible thumping older crowd at CPAC on social issues.  Think Progress spoke with some of the latter set and not surprisingly, the spittle was flying and Portman was under attack.  Particular telling were the comments of an 88 year old bitch woman who blamed Portman for his son's sexual orientation:

WASHINGTON, DC — Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-OH) decision to support marriage equality was not warmly received at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Friday.

ThinkProgress spoke with 10 attendees about the Ohio Senator’s announcement this week that he was reversing course and backing marriage equality after his own son came out of the closet. Every person we spoke with opposed same-sex marriage, and many had harsh words for Portman.

“Horrible!” said Tony Mele, an 88-year-old woman from New Jersey, of Portman’s decision. When told he did so because of his gay son, she responded, “That’s his fault! He gets no sympathy from me.” A pastor from Georgia, William Temple, told Portman to “quit being so selfish as to only think about his son,” and if he won’t reverse himself, “to step down and go home.” Another pastor, Rev. Robert Lancia, dismissed Portman’s point that we should treat each other according to the Golden Rule: “That doesn’t cover it.” One man, David Kern, even said Portman’s son’s choice of college turned him gay. “Well what did Sen. Portman expect when he sent his son to Yale?”

These people are horrible and certainly fit the mold of the Pharisees that Christ so roundly condemned in the Gospels. Yet, these old bats and hate merchants wonder why the Christian brand has become toxic with the younger generations.  These people are walking, talking advertisements as to why one should flee screaming from Christianity.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

GOP Senator Rob Portman Comes Out for Marriage Equality After His Son Comes Out

One can just imagine the shrieks and convulsions at NOM and FRC over GOP Senator Bob Portman's announcement that he now supports gay marriage.  An equal heresy is that Portman now appears to also believe that being gay is not a choice and is not something one can change regardless of the snake oil peddled by the "ex-gay for pay" crowd.  What brought about Portman's epiphany?  His college age son came out as gay and, wonderfully, Portman and his wife listened to their son and chose to stand by him rather than kick him to the curb as far to many "godly Christian" parents continue to do with their gay children.  Kudos to Portman.  And kudos to his son for his courage as well.  CNN has details.  Here are highlights:

[Sen. Rob Portman}  .  .  .  .  the prominent Ohio conservative will be known for something else: reversing his hardline position against gay marriage.  He invited CNN to his Senate office to reveal the news.

"I'm announcing today a change of heart on an issue that a lot of people feel strongly about that has to do with gay couples' opportunity to marry," Portman told CNN.

It has to do with another revelation, one deeply personal. His 21-year-old son, Will, is gay.
"I've come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I've had for over 26 years. That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay," said Portman.

Will Portman told his father and mother he is gay two years ago, when he was a freshman at Yale University.

"My son came to Jane, my wife, and I, told us that he was gay, and that it was not a choice, and that it's just part of who he is, and that's who he'd been that way for as long as he could remember,
And complete surprise. He told CNN that he never suspected that his son was gay.

What was the Republican senator's reaction?  "Love. Support," responded Portman.  And complete surprise. He told CNN that he never suspected that his son was gay.

Portman says his son, now a junior in college, helped him work through his decision to announce his change in position on gay marriage and blessed the idea of publicly announcing Will Portman's sexuality.

"I think he's happy and, you know, proud that we've come to this point, but he let it be my decision just as you know, it's going to be his decision as to the role he plays going forward in this whole issue," said Portman.

Asked about why he is announcing this change of heart, since his son revealed it to him two years ago, Portman cited two reasons. He just recently became comfortable with his decision to shift his position on gay marriage, and also he said he knew the Supreme Court is considering a pair of gay marriage cases, and reporters would likely ask him for his position.

"I thought it was the right time to let folks know where I stand so there's no confusion, so I would be clear about it," said Portman.
Portman has also authored an op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch entitled "Gay couples also deserve chance to get married."  Here are some excerpts:

I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married.

That isn’t how I’ve always felt. As a congressman, and more recently as a senator, I opposed marriage for same-sex couples. Then something happened that led me to think through my position in a much deeper way.

Two years ago, my son Will, then a college freshman, told my wife, Jane, and me that he is gay. He said he’d known for some time, and that his sexual orientation wasn’t something he chose; it was simply a part of who he is. Jane and I were proud of him for his honesty and courage. We were surprised to learn he is gay but knew he was still the same person he’d always been. The only difference was that now we had a more complete picture of the son we love.

I wrestled with how to reconcile my Christian faith with my desire for Will to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister. Ultimately, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he supports allowing gay couples to marry because he is a conservative, not in spite of it. I feel the same way. We conservatives believe in personal liberty and minimal government interference in people’s lives. We also consider the family unit to be the fundamental building block of society. We should encourage people to make long-term commitments to each other and build families, so as to foster strong, stable communities and promote personal responsibility.

One way to look at it is that gay couples’ desire to marry doesn't amount to a threat but rather a tribute to marriage, and a potential source of renewed strength for the institution.

Over the past decade, nine states and the District of Columbia have recognized marriage for same-sex couples. It is understandable to feel cautious about making a major change to such an important social institution, but the experience of the past decade shows us that marriage for same-sex couples has not undercut traditional marriage. In fact, over the past 10 years, the national divorce rate has declined.
I’ve changed my mind on the question of marriage for same-sex couples. As we strive as a nation to form a more perfect union, I believe all of our sons and daughters ought to have the same opportunity to experience the joy and stability of marriage.
It is noteworthy to me that Portman focused on God's supposed love for all people.  It's a concept devoid from the mindset of the Christofascists who are best defined by who they hate: virtually everyone but themselves.  Portman still has more evolving to do such as embracing ENDA and protecting LGBT Americans from being fired simply because who they are.  Religious based hate and bigotry have no place in the work place. But at least Portman has begun the journey. 

CPAC 2013: Are the Social Conservatives Losing Control?

Daily Koz
While the far right elements that help orchestrate CPAC gatherings have managed to exclude homocon groups and dis-invite politicians like Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell who have accepted the reality that tax increases are needed to rebuild a crumbling infrastructure, some on the scene at CPAC believe that the death grip of the Christofascists on the Republican Party may be in trouble.  If true, it would be a positive sign for both the GOP and the nation as a whole.  For too long the Christian Taliban has been controlling the GOP on social issues and been a bar to progressive change.  A column in Daily Kos sets out some observations.  Here are highlights:

Already, one thing stands out: The Republican Party faces a devastating problem among young people.

If anything, the problems of the party with respect to converting young Americans has been understated, and it is not a mere question of demographics, but of principles. A young libertarian moderator of a discussion titled The Future of the Movement rattled off polling statistics on how the newest voting generation is fiscally conservative, but socially liberal; more to the point, even the young conservatives at the political action conference whose very theme is, ostensibly, "the next generation of conservatives" seem to fall enthusiastically in the same camp.

[T]here is little to no stomach anywhere here for the fight against gay marriage. There seems little stomach for very much of the social conservative platform, here—excepting, perhaps, abortion, but even on that the stated focus by many younger and older speakers is that it should not be "litigated" through the courts but reduced through social activism. From Dick Morris to the college conservatives to the Rand Paul fans to Jennifer Rubin, etc., the feeling is afoot that the party must change its message, and social issues are where that change needs to take place.

Still, acceptance of that apparent necessity is strongly generational. If it were up to the younger half of the crowd, Rand Paul's version of libertarianism conservatism or conservative-ish libertarians would be the dominant GOP position, period. Since they are young and the older generation is, well, not, they are likely to get their wish. It will be slow going, however; the future of the party is not the present of the party, and the present power brokers of the party, the forty-somethings and fifty-somethings and sixty-somethings that run the party now have little interest in giving up those things. Those things motivate the older voters, and they need older voters. But they do not talk about them as much, and they talk about them in much more roundabout terms, perhaps, than they once did, because being a rigid social conservative now also carries a price, too, and it is the youngest voters in both parties who are now extracting it. You can see it in gay marriage; you can see it in the uneasy, shifting immigration stances; you can see it in a conference that speaks of religion, .  .  .  .  

It is suddenly quite clear why the current conservative movement is obsessed with taxes and deficits to the near-exclusion of all other topics: those are the only topics they can agree on.  .  .  .  You want to get the crowd going, you talk about cutting taxes and cutting the federal government, any part of the federal government, wide swaths of government—but mention a social issue (gay marriage, immigration, issues of crime and punishment) and you are on thinner ice. So taxes and government spending it is.

There is a danger here, for Republicans, and certainly rougher waters than they have been used to. In any event, the gay marriage "issue" is not long for this world, and a profound shift in the party's hardline immigration stance may not be far behind. Other shifts may soon follow. On anything but fiscal issues and raw, jingling nationalism, the Republican Party may find their new base cutting out from under them.

[Young libertarians] . . . their presence demonstrates that whatever the older base's mood, it is the fiscal-not-social crowd that is most intent on holding the reins in the next generation. It is only a question of timing, of the relative steering power of the two groups, younger vs. older, and of how enthused or standoffish the younger group chooses to be when voting in the all-important primaries that flatly decide these things. Also: will there even be enough of them to make a difference? That is less clear.

Here is an image from NOM's anti-gay panel - it's not exactly a full house, but I am sure NOM will try to spin it otherwise:

Census: Over 1 in 3 USA Counties Dying Off

By Hope Yen of Associated Press
The trend toward a more urban population in America is accelerating and rural counties - the bastions of the Republican Party - are dying off and seeing drops in population.  The irony is that as the populations in many of these counties double down on their conservatism, the population losses only increase as younger residents leave for more liberal and progressive areas that offer more job opportunities and social amenities.  It's a trend that is clearly visible in Southwest Virginia where the political/religious establishment tries to hang onto the 1950's while unemployment remains inordinately high.  Here are excerpts from a piece at MSN News that looks at the Census findings:

New 2012 census estimates released Thursday highlight the population shifts as the U.S. encounters its most sluggish growth levels since the Great Depression.

The findings also reflect the increasing economic importance of foreign-born residents as the U.S. ponders an overhaul of a major 1965 federal immigration law. Without new immigrants, many metropolitan areas such as New York, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh and St. Louis would have posted flat or negative population growth in the last year.

"Immigrants are innovators, entrepreneurs. They're making things happen. They create jobs," said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, at an immigration conference in his state last week. Saying Michigan should be a top destination for legal immigrants to come and boost Detroit and other struggling areas, Snyder made a special appeal: "Please come here."

Census data show that 1,135 of the nation's 3,143 counties are now experiencing "natural decrease," where deaths exceed births. That's up from roughly 880 U.S. counties, or 1 in 4, in 2009. Already apparent in Japan and many European nations, natural decrease is now increasingly evident in large swaths of the U.S., much of it rural.

Despite increasing deaths, the U.S. population as a whole continues to grow, boosted by immigration from abroad and relatively higher births among the mostly younger migrants from Mexico, Latin America and Asia.

"These counties are in a pretty steep downward spiral," said Kenneth Johnson, a senior demographer and sociology professor at the University of New Hampshire, who researched the findings. "The young people leave and the older adults stay in place and age. Unless something dramatic changes — for instance, new development such as a meatpacking plant to attract young Hispanics — these areas are likely to have more and more natural decrease."

Mark Mather, an associate vice president at the Population Reference Bureau, noted that political efforts to downsize government and reduce federal spending could also have a significant impact on future population winners and losers.

Since 2010, many of the fastest-growing U.S. metro areas have also been those that historically received a lot of federal dollars, including Fort Stewart, Ga.; Jacksonville, N.C.; Crestview, Fla.; and Charleston-North Charleston, S.C., all home to military bases. Per-capita federal spending rose from about $5,300 among the fastest-growing metros from 2000 to 2010, to about $8,200 among the fastest-growing metros from 2011 to 2012.

"Federal funding has helped many cities weather the decline in private sector jobs," Mather said.
Other findings:

— Roughly 46 percent of rural counties just beyond the edge of metropolitan areas experienced natural decrease, compared with 17 percent of urban counties.
— As a whole, the population of non-metropolitan areas last year declined by 0.1 percent, compared with growth of 1 percent for large metro areas and 0.7 percent for small metropolitan areas.
— In the last year, four metro areas reached population milestones: Los Angeles hit 13 million, Philadelphia reached 6 million, Las Vegas crossed 2 million and Grand Rapids, Mich., passed 1 million.
— Chattahoochee County, Ga., home to Fort Benning, was the nation's fastest-growing county, increasing 10.1 percent in the last year.

Although the study doesn't cite conservatism per se as a problem, here in Virginia many rural areas find it difficult to attract new business and industry because they are so culturally backward  and  unwelcoming to those who aren't white conservatives.  Martinsville, Virginia, is a case in point.  The area is scenically beautiful, but if you are gay, black, Hispanic and non-Christian, you will likely not be welcomed.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Number of Americans Claiming No Religious Affiliation Continues to Increase

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In a trend that I believe is fueled by among other things the hysterical anti-gay rhetoric of the Christofascists and the failure of the Catholic Church hierarchy to punish anyone in the upper echelons of the Church for the worldwide aiding and abetting of child rapists within the Catholic priesthood, a new study showed that the number of Americans claiming no religious affiliation reached record heights in 2012.  The number now is at 20% of the population and growing.  More significantly, more than one-third of the 18 - 24 demographic claim no religion.  Before long the "No Religion" demographic will equal the size of the evangelical Christian base of the Republican Party.  The findings also include bad news for the Catholic Church which has had the most serious losses of any denomination.  Here are highlights from the report released by the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues at the University of California:

Twenty percent of American adults said in 2012 that they had no religious preference, according to the latest General Social Survey (GSS), a nationally representative survey of American adults. This continues a trend of Americans disavowing a specific religious affiliation that began in the 1950s but has accelerated greatly since1990. The GSS has asked adults the following question for forty years: “What is your religious preference? Is it Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, some other religion, or no religion?” The percentage answering “no religion” was 18 percent two years earlier in2010, 14 percent in 2000, and 8 percent in 1990. The upward trend in the “no religion” choice is very broad. While some types of Americans identify with an organized religion less than others, Americans in almost every demographic group increasingly claim “no religion” since the trend began to accelerate in 1990. 

The percentage preferring no religion has risen sharply since1990. In the 2012 data (released March 7, 2013), 20 percent of Americans answered “no religion” — that is an increase of 12 percentage points in 22 years.

Younger Americans are much less likely to state a religious preference than are their elders. Among 18-to-24 year olds, 32 percent prefer no religion; among people 75 years old and over,only 7 percent prefer no religion. The biggest gap in the age pattern is the ten percentage-point difference between 25-to-34 year olds, 29 percent of whom prefer no religion, and 35-to-44 year olds, 19 percent of whom prefer no religion. The younger age groups are changing significantly faster than older groups,  .  .  .  

Regional variation in stating no religious preference is both large and growing. In 2012, people in the Mountain and Pacific regions as well as those in Northeastern states more often answered no religion than did people in the Midwest, while the southerners expressed the most religious attachment. The range was from 28 percent in the Mountain states to 15 percent in the South.

The Catholic church experienced the greatest net exit within the generation. One-fourth of American adults were Catholic in 2012. If we were to compare that share with the current religion of Americans in the past, we would think there had been little change.  .  .   .All else being equal, the Catholic share of the U.S. population should be rising, not staying constant. For almost two generations Catholics had the demographic advantages of higher fertility and, just as fertility dropped, higher immigration began adding more Catholics to the population.  .  .  .  In the light of this information, we can see that the 24 percent who were currently Catholic in 2012 actually represented a serious loss of 11 percentage points (or about one-third of the pool of potential members) for the Catholic Church in America.

Chick-fil-A Foundation’s Anti-LGBT Giving Nearly Doubled

Just as the pro-slavery elements during the lead up to the Civil War and the segregationists nearly one hundred years later doubled down on the anti-equality efforts before ultimately being overcome by the tide of history we are now seeing the forces of anti-gay bigotry dig in for one last stand against the tide of equity and modernity.   A case in point is the Chick-Fil-A foundation which has doubled its giving to anti-gay organizations even as a new Southern Baptist Convention backed survey found that 64% of Americans deem marriage equality on a national level to be inevitable.  Hate and bigotry do not die easily or quietly.  All one can do is boycott such founts of discrimination and encourage friends and family members to do likewise.  Think Progress looks at Chick-Fil-A's stepped up anti-gay efforts.  Here are highlights:

[D]espite suggestions by some that the company’s WinShape Foundation had already scaled back its anti-LGBT giving before that point, its newly released annual IRS filings for 2011 indicate nothing of the sort.

Most of the WinShape’s anti-LGBT giving in previous years went to groups like the Marriage & Family Foundation ($1,188,380 in 2010), the Fellowship Of Christian Athletes ($480,000 in 2010), and the National Christian Foundation ($247,500). Additionally, the group made small donations to the “ex-gay” group Exodus International ($1,000) and the hate group Family Research Council ($1,000).

In 2011, the group actually gave even more to anti-LGBT causes. Its contribution to the Marriage & Family Foundation jumped to $2,896,438 and it gave the same amount to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and National Christian Foundation as it had in 2010. In total, the anti-LGBT spending exceeded $3.6 million — almost double the $1.9 million from the year before.

While the group gave nothing directly to Exodus International or FRC, a large amount of Chick-fil-A/WinShape money still made its way to those groups. The National Christian Foundation (aka the National Christian Charitable Foundation) gave $4,100 to Exodus International and a stunning $1,260,040 to FRC. This was possible, in part, because of the $247,500 it received directly from WinShape and because the WinShape-backed Marriage & Family Foundation also transferred $870,834 to the group — the self-described “largest Christian grant-making foundation in the world.”

In essence, Chick-fil-A’s “charitable” contributions in 2011 were no less hateful than in 2010 — just less transparent.

If readers have friends who continue to patronize Chick-Fil-A, they truly need to confront these people and make sure they are aware of the hate and bigotry that they are helping to finance.   Personally, I go even further and tell my friends its either me or anti-gay organizations like Chick-Fi-A.   If they continue to support Chick-Fil-A it's obvious that they are not really friends and I don't waste my time with them.  Eventually, it is they, not me, who will become the social pariahs.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

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The Myth That Gays Can't Form Long Term Monogamous Relationships

One of the cruel myths disseminated by the enemies of LGBT rights and gay marriage in particular is that gays are little better than promiscuous sluts who are incapable of forming enduring monogamous relationships.  Like so many other things the "godly Christians" say about us, it is a lie.  But then, no one lies more than these self-anointed Christianist bigots.  The image above represents part of the effort to set the record straight with the larger public.  What is ironic to me is that among the boyfriend's and my personal circle of friends is that the majority are in committed relationships, a number of which have endured for more than 30 years.

Do your bit of activism by living your life out and proud and by standing by your partner as your life partner for the world to see.  Recently, the boyfriend and I were announced as a couple as new members of the Hampton Yacht Club.  And guess what, as best I can tell, no one in that less than flaming liberal organization batted an eye.  Help change minds and hearts by refusing to hide any longer.

Three Republicans Legislators Endorse McAuliffe Citing Cuccinelli's Extremism

As the Virginian Pilot is reporting, apparently not all Republicans in Virginia are drinking the Kool-Aid being ladled out by the Christofascists at The Family Foundation and the objective reality denying Tea Party crowd who are near orgasmic at the prospect of Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli, a/k/a "Cuckoo" as the GOP nominee for Governor of Virginia.  Three former GOP members of the Virginia General Assembly have come out and endorsed Terry McAuliffe, the presumed Democrat nominee, for governor over Kookinelli.  There reason:  Kookinelli and his crowd are simply too far right and extreme.  Here are article highlights:

Two former Northern Virginia Republican delegates, and another from Richmond, have come out in support of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.

They include Del. Vince Callahan Jr., who served 40 years in the General Assembly, and Del. Jim Dillard, both of Fairfax, as well as Del. Katherine Waddell from the Richmond area, a onetime GOP member who won election to the House in 2005 as an independent.

In statements released by the campaign, Callahan said he's supporting McAuliffe because Virginia must get away from partisan and ideological battles and "needs a Governor who will promote a mainstream agenda that focuses on the economy and making Virginia better for business."

"Virginians are fed up with right wing extremism and divisive ideology, we need a Governor who will focus on mainstream economic issues," added Waddell, who now serves as president of the Women's Strike Force political action committee to defend abortion rights.  "Terry McAuliffe will do what is right for Virginia," she said.

Justly Deserved Criticism of the Catholic Church and Francis I

One blogger is unhappy that this blog has been critical of the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis I, as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church:
Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis I hadn't been the newly elected Pope an hour when LGBT bloggers, groups and other self-appointed important voices were attacking him.

This continuing attack against the Roman Catholic Church, of which this writer is not a member, is getting almost as old as the Church itself . . . There is a very simple solution for the detractors to follow.  Leave the Church if you can't abide by its rules of Faith.  No one presuming you're an adult forces you to be Roman Catholic. Find another Faith, more progressive to you're liking.

Those not of the Faith, particularly the Atheist faggots just need to stifle.
Easy words for a blogger who lives in a progressive state like Connecticut where it is a different world from Virginia where the Catholic Church teams up with the Christofascists at The Family Foundation almost daily to deny LGBT Virginians such things as basic employment non-discrimination protections.  Easy words for a blogger who perhaps doesn't know victims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests who suffered threats and intimidation in the Church's efforts to keep them silent.   Easy words for a blogger who may not have personally known talented young men who ended their lives because of their inability to deal with the religious based hate and stigma the Catholic Church hierarchy works to perpetuate daily.   And easy words for a blogger who admittedly wasn't raised Catholic and who never experienced the psychological abuse that such an upbringing entailed, especially if one is gay.  And lastly, easy words for a blogger who may not have look at reports on Bergoglio's failings during Argentina's "Dirty War."

Meanwhile, events continue to demonstrate the true face of the Catholic hierarchy and its moral bankruptcy - including one of the electors of Francis I.  Yes, the Los Angeles archdiocese is paying out another $10 million to victims of sexual abuse - on top of the $600 million previously paid out.  Here are highlights from USA Today:

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay four men almost $10 million to settle allegations of sexual abuse by a former priest who more than a quarter century ago had confessed to molesting children, attorneys said Tuesday.  Two brothers will receive $4 million each, and the other two men will get nearly $1 million apiece, said John Manly, a plaintiff's attorney.

The settlement is the first since the Catholic Church released thousands of internal records detailing the actions of the defrocked priest, Michael Baker, and how church officials responded. Baker was convicted in 2007 of child molestation and paroled in 2011.

In January, as the files were about to be made public, a California judge ordered the archdiocese to identify all priests and church officials named in the documents.

Mahony retired as Los Angeles archbishop in 2011. Last month, his successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, stripped him of his official duties.  Mahony is in Rome participating in the conclave selecting the next pope. He was aware of the settlement, J. Michael Hennigan, an archdiocese attorney, told the Associated Press.

Another plaintiff attorney, Vince Finaldi, told the Los Angeles Times that he believed that the release of the files was a major factor in the settlement.  "Once we got the files it confirmed everything we had argued for years and years," Finaldi said. "Cardinal Mahony's fingerprints were all over the case."

If Francis I cleans house and strips men like Mahony and Cardinal Bernard Law and many others of their titles and plush retirements and stops inciting hatred towards gays now that he's pope, I may reconsider my criticisms.  Frankly, I do not expect any meaningful change to occur, so my criticism will stand.  The days of special rights, deference and respect for the Catholic Church need to end.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Republicans go after Obamacare (and the Middle Class). Again.

The GOP indeed sounds like a broken record.  At least when it comes to ranting and raving about the Affordable Health Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare and vowing to repeal it even thought the U.S. Supreme Court upheld most of the law last year.  And when it comes to slashing programs that assist the poor and the middle class.  Leading the charge is Joe McCarthy want to be and look alike, Senator Ted Cruz from Texas who makes one wonder what is in the water in the Lone Star State.  A column in the Washington Post looks at this weird obsession.  Here are excerpts:

Republicans campaigned for repeal in 2012, but President Obama was reelected and Democrats gained seats in the Senate and the House and won the popular vote. Since the election, Republican governors have begun to embrace the law. 

Here in Washington, though, it is as though tea party activists are still marching on the Capitol. On Wednesday, Senate Republicans supported legislation proposed by the freshman Cruz to defund Obamacare — the 35th attempt, give or take, to abolish the program.  This one failed, like all the others. 

Doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result, it has been said, defines insanity. But among Senate Republicans, the lunatics are running the asylum. A few of the most junior members, with support from conservative activists, are calling the shots, while the caucus’s nominal leaders, intimidated by the newcomers’ power, have become followers.

This time it was the quixotic repeal effort by Cruz, who has been on the job for all of two months; McConnell made an unscheduled appearance on the Senate floor to associate himself with the doomed effort.

Cruz, the 42-year-old junior senator from Texas who will be the keynote speaker at this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference, was rallying his fellow Republicans in support of a dubious principle that implementing Obamacare means imminent economic ruin. “At a minimum, in my judgment, Obamacare should not be funded,” he said on the Senate floor, because “implementing it right now could well force us into a recession.”  “At a minimum.” That’s the same phrase Cruz used last month to imply that Chuck Hagel, now defense secretary, was on foreign payrolls.

At a minimum, Cruz is making Republican leadership look weak. Seniority has been tossed aside as McConnell of Kentucky and the No. 2 GOP leader, John Cornyn (Tex.), follow the cues of the junior senators from their home states, Paul and Cruz.  

The young Texan had managed to pull Senate Republicans even further to the right than their counterparts in the House, who opted not to seek a repeal of Obamacare in the legislation they just passed to fund the federal government. And House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget would repeal the health-care law but keep $1 trillion in tax increases associated with the program.

The GOP descent into utter insanity seems to be proceeding without let up.  Of course, here in Virginia we have the equally insane and unhinged Ken Cuccinelli as the ostensible GOP standard bearer.

What Role Jorge Bergoglio(Pope Francis I) Play in Argentina's "Dirty War" and the Murder of Thousands?

The college of cardinals sure know how to pick popes of late.  The last go round that brought us Pope Benedict XVI, a former Hitler Youth who seemed to continue a fascist mentality to the throne of St. Peter.  Now, by selecting Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the replacement for Benedict XVI, the cardinals have again selected a man with some possibly ugly ties to a dictatorial regime credited with kidnappings and the murder of possibly thousands of Argentine citizens deemed to be "subversives."  The Guardian, Reuters, and NPR all have some coverage that raises very serious questions about Bergioglio's complicity and cooperation with the military dictatorship that brutally ruled  Argentina from 1976 to 1983 when democracy and free elections were restored.   During the dictatorship's rule it closed the Congress, removed the members of the Supreme Court, and banned political parties, unions, student unions, etc.  You get the idea.  First these highlights from The Guardian which ironically were published two years ago:

To the judicious and fair-minded outsider it has been clear for years that the upper reaches of the Argentinian church contained many "lost sheep in the wilderness", men who had communed and supported the unspeakably brutal western-supported military dictatorship that seized power in that country in 1976 and battened on it for years. Not only did the generals slaughter thousands unjustly, often dropping them out of aeroplanes over the River Plate and selling off their orphan children to the highest bidder, they also murdered at least two bishops and many priests. Yet even the execution of other men of the cloth did nothing to shake the support of senior clerics, including representatives of the Holy See, for the criminality of their leader General Jorge Rafael Videla and his minions.

As it happens, in the week before Christmas [2011] in the city of Córdoba Videla and some of his military and police cohorts were convicted by their country's courts of the murder of 31 people between April and October 1976, a small fraction of the killings they were responsible for. The convictions brought life sentences for some of the military. These were not to be served, as has often been the case in Argentina and neighboring Chile, in comfy armed forces retirement homes but in common prisons.

What one did not hear from any senior member of the Argentinian hierarchy was any expression of regret for the church's collaboration and in these crimes. The extent of the church's complicity in the dark deeds was excellently set out by Horacio Verbitsky, one of Argentina's most notable journalists, in his book El Silencio (Silence). He recounts how the Argentinian navy with the connivance of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now the Jesuit archbishop of Buenos Aires, hid from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission the dictatorship's political prisoners. Bergoglio was hiding them in nothing less than his holiday home in an island called El Silencio in the River Plate. The most shaming thing for the church is that in such circumstances Bergoglio's name was allowed to go forward in the ballot to chose the successor of John Paul II. 
A Reuters piece has these passages:

Bergoglio's career coincided with the bloody 1976-1983 military dictatorship, during which up to 30,000 suspected leftists were kidnapped and killed -- which prompted sharp questions about his role.
The most well-known episode relates to the abduction of two Jesuits whom the military government secretly jailed for their work in poor neighborhoods.

According to "The Silence," a book written by journalist Horacio Verbitsky, Bergoglio withdrew his order's protection of the two men after they refused to quit visiting the slums, which ultimately paved the way for their capture.

Verbitsky's book is based on statements by Orlando Yorio, one of the kidnapped Jesuits, before he died of natural causes in 2000. Both of the abducted clergymen suffered five months of imprisonment.

"History condemns him. It shows him to be opposed to all innovation in the Church and above all, during the dictatorship, it shows he was very cozy with the military," Fortunato Mallimacci, the former dean of social sciences at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, once said.

His actions during this period strained his relations with many brother Jesuits around the world, who tend to be more politically liberal.
And then there are these highlights from an NPR story:

His preference to remain in the wings, however, has been challenged by rights activists seeking answers about church actions during the dictatorship after the 1976 coup, often known as Argentina's "Dirty War."

Many Argentines remain angry over the church's acknowledged failure to openly confront a regime that was kidnapping and killing thousands of people as it sought to eliminate "subversive elements" in society. It's one reason why more than two-thirds of Argentines describe themselves as Catholic, but fewer than 10 percent regularly attend Mass.

Under Bergoglio's leadership, Argentina's bishops issued a collective apology in October 2012 for the church's failures to protect its flock. But the statement blamed the era's violence in roughly equal measure on both the junta and its enemies.

"Bergoglio has been very critical of human rights violations during the dictatorship, but he has always also criticized the leftist guerrillas. He doesn't forget that side," said the biographer Rubin.
The statements came far too late for some activists, who accused Bergoglio of being more concerned about the church's image than about aiding the many human rights investigations into the junta era.

[R]ights attorney Bregman said Bergoglio's own statements proved church officials knew from early on that the junta was torturing and killing its citizens, and yet publicly endorsed the dictators.  "The dictatorship could not have operated this way without this key support," she said.

Bergoglio also was accused of turning his back on a family that lost five relatives to state terror, including a young woman who was five months' pregnant before she was kidnapped and killed in 1977. The De la Cuadra family appealed to the leader of the Jesuits in Rome, who urged Bergoglio to help them; Bergoglio then assigned a monsignor to the case. Months passed before the monsignor came back with a written note from a colonel: The woman had given birth in captivity to a girl who was given to a family "too important" for the adoption to be reversed.

Despite this written evidence in a case he was personally involved with, Bergoglio testified in 2010 that he didn't know about any stolen babies until well after the dictatorship was over.
The new pope may like to put forth a simple and humble facade, but these reports raise serious questions about his true morality - or lack thereof.    Personally, the selection of Bergoglio as the new pope seems only too appropriate for an institution that has orchestrated a worldwide criminal conspiracy to protect sexual predators and avoid paying just compensation to victims of sexual abuse by priests.  Morally bankrupt is the term that first springs to mind.   Thus my question remains: how can moral and decent individuals remain members of the Catholic Church.

Argentine Homophoble Selected as New Pope

It would appear that those who were hoping for change in the Roman Catholic Church and in particular a cessation of its anti-gay jihad have received a punch in the gut by the prissy, bitter old men of the conclave who have selected Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new pope.  Back when Argentina was considering adoption of gay marriage, the new pontiff had this to say about gay marriage and gay parenting, as if, of course, he had any real experience in either one:

Bergoglio began “I write these lines to each of you who are in the four monasteries of Buenos Aires. The people of Argentina will face in the coming weeks, a situation whose outcome may seriously injure the family. This is the bill on marriage for same sex. “

Then he added, “At stake are the lives of many children who are discriminated against in advance by depriving them of human growth that God wanted to given with a father and a mother. At stake is a total rejection of the law of God, engraved in our hearts as well”.

The Archbishop stated flatly “we are not naive: it is not just a political struggle is a destructive attempt to God’s plan. It is not just a bill (this is only the instrument) but a ‘move’ from the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God."

This fun aside from  USA Today
[Bergoglio] Couldn't prevent Argentina from becoming the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage or stop its president, Cristina Fernandez, from promoting free contraception and artificial insemination. When Bergoglio argued that gay adoptions discriminate against children, Fernandez compared his tone to "medieval times and the Inquisition."
In the run up to the conclave, The National Catholic Reporter summed up why Bergoglio might be attractive to the bitter old men in the college of cardinals:

The case for Bergoglio in 2013 rests on four points.

First and most basically, he had strong support last time around, and some cardinals may think that they're getting another bite at the apple now.

Second, Bergoglio is a candidates who brings together the first world and the developing world in his own person. He's a Latin American with Italian roots, who studied in Germany. As a Jesuit he's a member of a truly international religious community, and his ties to Comunione e Liberazione make him part of another global network.

Third, Bergoglio still has appeal across the usual divides in the church, drawing respect from both conservatives and moderates for his keen pastoral sense, his intelligence, and his personal modesty. He's also seen as a genuinely spiritual soul, and a man of deep prayer.

"Only someone who has encountered mercy, who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy, is happy and comfortable with the Lord," Bergoglio said in 2001. "I beg the theologians who are present not to turn me in to the Sant'Uffizio or the Inquisition; however, forcing things a bit, I dare to say that the privileged locus of the encounter is the caress of the mercy of Jesus Christ on my sin."

Fourth, he's also seen as a successful evangelist.
Apparently, in Bergoglio's book, mercy and the social gospel message don't extend to LGBT individuals.  Obviously, I won't be returning to the Roman Catholic Church.  And I suspect that as Pope Francis, Bergoglio will not be able to staunch the hemorrhaging of members of the Church in Europe, North America or South America.  Selecting a pope from South America does not make up for the Church's increasingly Medieval views of women, gays and modernity.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

New Study: Gay Marriage Extends Life Expectancy

A new Danish study shows significant benefits and lower mortality rates for men in same sex marriages.  Naturally, this will be but one more reason for the Christofascists to ramp up opposition to same sex marriage since, truth be told, they'd prefer that all of us gays experienced early deaths.  But seriously, the study findings show very positive results in addition to increasing family and relationship stability.  Here are highlights from Huffington Post:

Is marriage the key to gay men living longer? According to a new Danish study, the answer is a definite yes. 

Published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the study reportedly examined 6.5 million adults from 1982 to 2011. As the Los Angeles Times points out, the mortality rate for married gay men plummeted during the course of the study, now hovering slightly lower than the rate observed for unmarried or divorced heterosexual men.

"Among men in Denmark, it is more dangerous to be unmarried or divorced than to be married to another man," study researcher Martin Frisch of the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen and the Center for Sexology Research of Aalborg University is quoted by Live Science as saying.

In a press release, Frisch added, "It is a novel observation that being married was not always protective. Among persons living alone and persons living in same-sex cohabitation, those who were married to a member of the opposite sex had noticeably higher mortality than unmarried and same-sex married persons."

The Los Angeles Times adds these points:

The study is the first of its kind to examine mortality -- the risk of death during a specific period of time -- and relationship status for an entire nation.

"Our study expands on century-old knowledge that married people generally have lower mortality than unmarried and divorced persons," wrote the lead author, Dr. Morten Frisch, a professor of epidemiology at Aalborg University. "From a public health viewpoint it is important to try and identify those underlying factors and mechanisms."

Researchers found that marriage in and of itself did not ensure low mortality during the period studied. For instance, opposite-sex married couples who lived apart faced a two-fold increase in their mortality rate.

Also, heterosexual men and women saw a steep jump in their mortality rate during the study period if they were married two or more times. The rate increased 27% for women with each successive marriage, and it increased 16% for men.

Surprisingly, researchers found that the risk of death during the study had grown worse for lesbian couples. After dropping for many years, mortality rates had begun to rise slightly, so that they were now higher than those of married gay men and cohabiting heterosexual couples.  "Lesbians may constitute a largely unnoticed high-risk population for suicide and breast cancer," the authors wrote.

It remains unclear precisely why heterosexual married couples have the lowest risk of death during the years studied, although researchers suspect it has to do with income, health care, increased social support and other factors.