Saturday, March 23, 2013

Kentucky Governor Vetoes Bill That Would Have Give Christianists Special Right to Discriminate

If one wants an example of the Christofascists demanding special rights that would trump the legal rights and civil liberties, one need look no farther than the Kentucky legislature that passed a bill that would have any religious nutcase to claim an exemption from any law or policy that prohibits discrimination contrary to such individual's religious beliefs.  Obviously, the bill would allow far right religious extremists to cite a Bible justification for their bigotry and thus leave racial minorities, women, LGBT people and others without adequate protections.  Thankfully, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has vetoed the bill (House Bill 279 that passed both the GOP controlled House and Senate).  One can imagine the attacks Beshear will receive from the spittle flecked Bible beater crowd.  Here is a statement from the Governor's website:

I have significant concerns that this bill will cause serious unintentional consequences that could threaten public safety, health care, and individuals’ civil rights. As written, the bill will undoubtedly lead to costly litigation. I have heard from many organizations and government entities that share those same concerns. Therefore, after giving this measure thoughtful analysis and consideration, today I vetoed the bill.”

HB279, sent to the Governor on March 11, would allow an individual to disregard any state or local law that places a substantial burden on his or her sincerely held religious belief. As written, the government would have to show by “clear and convincing evidence” that the state has a compelling interest in requiring the person to follow the established law, and that there is no less restrictive means to accomplish the government’s objective.

Groups as varied as the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc. to the National Association of Social Workers-Kentucky Chapter to the Center for Accessible Living have called on the Governor to veto the bill, citing concerns including:
•Weakening of local civil rights laws;
•Impact on implementation of the new Common Core Standards in our schools;
•Negative impact to economic development efforts;
•Adverse impact on enforcement of drug laws;
•Additional financial burdens on local governments; and
•Possible withholding of needed medical care or use of religion as a justification for abuse.
 The Governor's website has a lengthy list of groups and organizations that opposed this insane batshitery.   For those who don't believe that religious extremists would not have used this insane law to discriminate, the ACLU has a list of past examples were religious belief has been used to justify bigotry:

There are a number of historical examples of people using religious freedom to discriminate in the United States:
  • Against African-Americans: In 1966, three African-American customers brought a suit against Piggie Park restaurants, and their owner, Maurice Bessinger, for refusal to serve them.Bessinger argued that enforcement of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits that type of discrimination, violated his religious freedom "since his religious beliefs compel[ed] him to oppose any integration of the races whatever."
  • Against women: In 1976, Roanoke Valley Christian Schools added a "head of household" supplement to their teachers' salaries – which according to their beliefs meant married men, and not women.When sued under the Equal Pay Act, Roanoke Valley claimed a right to an exemption.According to the church pastor affiliated with the school, "[w]hen we turned to the Scriptures to determine head of household, by scriptural basis, we found that the Bible clearly teaches that the husband is the head of the house, head of the wife, head of the family."
  • Against interracial marriages: In the 1980's, Bob Jones University, a religiously-affiliated school in South Carolina, wanted an exemption from a rule denying tax-exempt status to schools that practice racial discrimination.The "sponsors of the University genuinely believe[d] that the Bible forbids interracial dating and marriage," and it was school policy that students engaged in interracial relationships, or advocacy thereof, would be expelled.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

The Republican Party’s Refusal to Make Meaningful Changesings

In the wake of the RNC's report on the reasons why the GOP did disastrously in the 2012 elections, there have been all kinds of recriminations and a denial that the GOP's policies themselves as opposed to "poor messaging" are the root cause of the party's inability to win voters, especially at the national level.  Conservative columnist Michael Gerson at the Washington Post looks at the GOP's shortcomings.  Here are some excerpts:

Recent brutal attacks on the GOP have claimed that minorities often think that “Republicans do not like them or want them in the country.” That younger voters are “rolling their eyes at what the party represents.” That former Republicans view the party as “scary,” “narrow-minded,” “out of touch” and populated by “stuffy old men.”

But these were not Democratic attacks. The quotes come from the Republican National Committee’s “Growth & Opportunity Project” report, which, as far as I can tell, is unique in the history of party-sponsored self-reflection. Losing parties generally look in the mirror and see the need for cosmetics. This report calls for reconstructive surgery. In the aftermath of the 2012 election, it describes a party unpopular with the public, fading in must-win states and progressively marginalized at the national level.

The report, inevitably, set off an internal GOP conflict. This is not so much a matter of ideology; a number of politicians with tea party roots, such as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, have fully internalized these political realities. The emerging argument is between political realists and ideological entrepreneurs. 

The RNC report engages this divergence of purposes in a forthright manner: “We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.” The role of a political party, the report insists, is different from the pursuit of “universal purity.” 

But the report recognizes that Republicans require more than changed tone or technique; they need relevant, appealing policies. 

The 2012 election revealed insufficient GOP enthusiasm among working-class Americans and plummeting support among rising demographic groups, particularly Asians and Latinos. Appealing to these voters will require more than repetition of the Republican economic message circa 1980. They want the reassurance of a modern, functioning safety net and the realistic hope of economic and social mobility. Republicans have yet to effectively address either priority. 

This is partly an institutional problem. A smattering of conservative policy experts is working on these issues — conservative alternatives on health and education reform or promoting social capital and family stability. But the major conservative think tanks tend to be driven by ideological and donor priorities. Few conservative institutions operate effectively at the confluence of policy and politics.

Major Republican donors seem perfectly willing to support the presidential races of quixotic candidates. They foot the bill for television attack ads. They seem less interested in funding the revival of ideas and policy that is a prerequisite to reestablishing a GOP majority. It is a strategic failure of the first order. 

Those concerned about the Republican future hope for the arrival of a transformational candidate. But he or she will need something compelling to say. 

More Insane Blather from "Ex-Gay" Proponents

A couple of posts on this blog looking at  the fraudulent "ex-gay" ministries  - seemingly always staffed by "ex-gays for pay" (most of whom always blame their sexual orientation rather than the insane faith traditions in which they were raised for their previously down and out lives due to bad choices on drugs and alcohol)  - have seemingly rankled some Kool-Aid drinkers.  These folk continue to live in a fantasy world where what they want to believe based on religious brainwashing trumps objective reality and legitimate medical and mental health knowledge.  Here is a sample of the types of comments left that I did not give dignity to by publishing.  The comment addresses failed "ex-gay" Matthew Manning and the demise of LightHouse World Evangelism, Inc:
Matthew Manning was touched by God, healed by God, and he apparently failed God in his ministry. This happens to many people for many reasons - lack of prayer life - lack of commitment - lack of time spent meditating and studying the Word, celebrity status - So what. That doesn't make Christianity false. .  .  .  .  I believe Matthew is still a believer and will regret the great opportunity he missed to be a light to the gay/lesbian community. But there are many others who have been successful in giving up sexually immoral lifestyles for God and those who fail, well.. God doesn't fail them.  Your accusation that all Christian ministry is conducted for money is ridiculous and outrageous. Jesus is very real to us. :)

I'm sorry, but go to any mental hospital and I suspect you will find patients who believe in invisible friends, think that the government has put implants in their heads and any number of other batshit crazy things.  These individuals may fervently believe their lunacies, but it doesn't make them any less untrue.  Self-deception and denial don't change objective reality.  As for the "many others" the The bottom line is that Matthew Manning was trying to be something that he will never be: straight.  And no one outside of the politically and financial "ex-gay" industry and ignorant by choice Christofascists believes otherwise.

The authors of these comments are free to believe whatever lunacy they want, but that right does not mean they have the right to try to impose their insane beliefs on all of society.  Yet that's the agenda of the "ex-gay" crowd.  And they work hand in glove with the hate groups who work to deprive LGBT citizens of equality under the civil laws.

Terry McAuliffe for Governor of Virginia

Last night the boyfriend and I attended a fundraising reception for Terry McAuliffe, the prospective Democrat nominee for Governor of Virginia who will oppose Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli the all but crowned GOP nominee.  It was my first chance to talk with McAuliffe one on one and candidly, I was impressed.  It is hard to stress just how stark the choice Virginians will face in November 2013.  And frankly, the prospect of Cuccinelli in the Governor's mansion ought to terrify anyone rational - which is one reason we are seeing members of the Republican business community attack Cuccinelli and in some cases openly endorse McAuliffe.  McAuliffe is a successful businessman (and ironically, his mother went to my high school) who has a let's work together and get the job done attitude.  Here's a partial summary of the contrasts between McAuliffe and Cuccinelli:

On the one hand there will be McAuliffe who first and foremost isn't a religious fanatic who seeks to impose his religious beliefs on all Virginians.  Indeed, he has come out in support of civil law gay marriage.   In contrast, Cuccinelli is allied with the most vicious and extreme Christofascists in Virginia and seeks to (i) end all abortions in Virginia, (ii) make contraception decisions for women, (iii) keep LGBT Virginians a perpetual under class in terms of civil rights and employment protections.  Cuccinelli may blather about freedom and liberty, but like most of the Christofascist set, his idea of liberty and religious freedom comes down to imposing far right religious beliefs on all citizens and making public policy follow the most extreme beliefs of the far right Christians.

Another huge issue - and one that I confront daily using the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel - is that of transportation funding.  Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads are being strangled economically by the increasingly outdated and inadequate transportation system.  Here as sampling of McAuliffe's view on the problem:
Virginia is a great place for business, but one of the things holding us back from the top is an infrastructure system that can feel outdated and inefficient. In Hampton Roads, commuters are stuck in traffic for 43 hours per year, with a total economic cost of $700 million annually. In Northern Virginia, it’s 67 hours and over $1 billion. And roads and bridges that need repair are a pressing problem all over the Commonwealth.

In February, Governor McDonnell and both parties in the legislature came together to pass a plan to fund transportation that will finally begin to address gridlock. It wasn’t perfect, and there are plenty of things I disagree with, but inaction on transportation was no longer an option.

By focusing on projects that best serve the economic travel needs of our citizens and businesses — along with key safety improvements — we will ensure that those rail, road, and bridge projects that absolutely must get done do get done.

Second, we need to incentivize regional planning and implementation of smart growth planning. Some of our transportation issues aren’t the result of bad roads or transit systems; they’re the result of improper or poorly planned development.
Where is Cuccinelli on the issue?  He is seeking to undo the transportation funding plan passed by the General Assembly last month.  Just yesterday - in a pattern that is standard for Cuccinelli who finds anything he doesn't like to be "unconstitutional" even when the U. S. Supreme Court has ruled otherwise - issued opinions claiming that the transportation funding plan is unconstitutional (as is the Medicaid expansion plan).  Here are highlights from the Virginian Pilot:

Two of the legislature's biggest policy actions this year - approval of a major road-funding bill and inclusion of Medicaid expansion language in the state budget - are legally suspect, according to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

One advisory opinion issued Friday by Cuccinelli questions the constitutionality of elements in the transportation bill to assess higher sales taxes in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia to raise revenue for regional projects.

Cuccinelli's other piece of guidance applies to a provision in Virginia's revised two-year budget that vests a Medicaid expansion decision with a 10-member legislative commission, a delegation of authority that the attorney general considers constitutionally improper.

Both opinions were released in response to earlier requests from Del. Bob Marshall, a Prince William County Republican and key player in the legal challenge that toppled regional taxing authorities created in a sweeping 2007 road-funding bill.
Cuccinelli is a Tea Party extremist - and climate change denier - who opposes any and all tax increases even as Virginia's transportation system is crumbling.   The fact that he is in league with Bob Marshall, perhaps the most delusional lunatic in the General Assembly - speaks volumes about Cuccinelli's extremist views and beliefs.  It is also telling that Cuccinelli's insane lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of laws have been failures across the board.   On the issue of Medicaid expansion, here is McAuliffe's view
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the federal government is offering Virginia $21 billion in funding over seven years to expand our Medicaid program. If we don’t accept the money, it will simply flow to other states. I believe that Virginia taxpayer money should stay in Virginia.

Accepting federal funds for Medicaid has broad bipartisan support: Both very conservative and very liberal Governors have accepted the funds.

Expanding Medicaid will cover nearly 400,000 uninsured Virginians and create up to 33,000 jobs by 2021, according to the Senate Finance Committee. Covering the uninsured for regular visits to the doctor for shots and checkups and life saving cancer screenings and treatment will also help reduce health care costs for those with insurance already.
Despite his claimed religiosity and piousness, Cuccinelli would kick these 400,000 Virginians to the curb.   Sadly, he is like most Christofascists who are best known for who they hate - gays, blacks, non-Christians, Hispanics, etc. - and utterly ignores the Gospel message of aiding the poor, the sick, and the less fortunate.

On the issues, there is really one one decision one can reach: vote for Terry McAuliffe in November.

Thoughts from a Victim Sex Abuse by Priests

Will Lynch in San Francisco, 2012. (LiPo Ching)
An op-ed in the San Jose Mercury News looks at the continued cover ups of sexual abuse by priests in the Roman Catholic Church and how the Church continues to enable predators.  The piece also focuses on why those who believe that things will change under Pope Francis are deluding themselves.  The Church has for centuries seen itself as above the law and nothing will change as long as (i) prosecutors fail to relentlessly prosecute both the sexual predators and those past and present who protect them, and (ii) the Catholic laity acts like mindless sheep and continues to bankroll the criminal enterprise that is the Church hierarchy.   One can continue to hold one's Catholic beliefs if they must, but that does not mean one has to finance a criminal conspiracy.  With a portion of every single dollar put in the collection plate going to the local bishop and Rome, only a total cessation of giving will get the attention of the narcissistic nasty old men in dresses who do not give a damn about the sexual abuse of children.  Here are some column highlights:

On its surface the election of Pope Francis would appear to offer renewed hope for true reform within the Catholic Church. 

Two weeks into his reign the honeymoon continues, with the media marveling at the new pope's easy smile and obvious warmth. They speak of his willingness to live modestly and travel around Rome in a Volkswagen instead of a big limousine.

While the media have the power to effect real change, they continue to focus on the superficial while ignoring the elephant in the room.

The real question to be addressed is this: When and how will Pope Francis confront the ongoing cover-up of the sexual abuse of children within his church?  I am a victim of this Catholic Church. And I want an answer to that question.

When I was seven years old and at a Catholic Church camping trip in northern California, my four year old brother and I were raped by Father Jerold Lindner. Lindner, who has been accused of abusing many others, including his own family members, has never been prosecuted. Still a priest, he roams freely from the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos while still being paid by his enablers, the Catholic Church.

Not unlike many large corporations, what has driven the Catholic Church for centuries is money and unfettered power. For just those reasons, the church refuses to take responsibility for all its Fr. Jerrolds.

My story and [Cardinal] Mahony's blatant criminal neglect are sobering reminders of why the Catholic Church will never reform on its own. Only when flawed church policies and legal strategies are deemed criminal and no longer economically viable will church leaders be forced to take action against their in-house child abusers.

The most effective means to force those reforms are twofold:
1) The elimination of all civil and criminal statutes of limitations for the sexual abuse of children nationwide.
2) The withholding of all monetary contributions to the Catholic Church.

Stop wishing and hoping that this new Pope might be different. That's irrelevant.

Reach out to your local representatives and law enforcement to demand real change.  And stop reaching into your pocket.  Hit them where it hurts — in court and in the wallet.  Only then will the enablers be stripped of their power.  Only then will our children be safe.

The author of the op-ed, Will Lynch of San Francisco is founder and executive director of R.I.S.E. (, whose primary focus is a ballot initiative to eliminate the civil and criminal statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse in the 2014 California election.  Check out his ongoing effort.  Better yet, make a donation.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Cuccinelli Involved in Conflict of Interest in Lawsuit?

It looks like Virginians may be seeing another example of Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli believing that he is above the laws and rules that apply to everyone else.  How so?  A company in which Cuccinelli has made his principal financial investment is involved in litigation with the Commonwealth of Virginia in which Virginia is seeking $700,000, yet Cuccinelli has not removed himself from the case nor has he hired outside counsel.  And - perhaps not unsurprisingly - the case has languished for 19 months.   Any other lawyer in Cuccinelli's position would have removed himself/herself from the case.  But not Kookinelli.  Such rules and ethical standards don't apply to him apparently.  The Virginian Pilot looks at the situation.  Here are highlights:

A lawsuit against the state of Virginia by a nutritional supplement maker whose stock comprises Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's total investment portfolio is raising questions about the Republican's potential conflicts of interest.

Henrico-based Star Scientific Inc. sued Virginia's Department of Taxation in Mecklenberg Circuit Court in July 2011 over a $700,000 tax dispute with the state. A deputy attorney general filed an answer to the complaint the following month. There have been no new motions, pleadings, filings or hearings in the case since.

The issue comes as the conservative attorney general — who is unchallenged for the Republican gubernatorial nomination this year — fends off critics, particularly Democrats, over his refusal to resign his current office to run for governor. His decision ends a tradition observed by six attorneys general since 1985 who resigned to campaign for governor, including current Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Paul Campsen, a private attorney in Norfolk for whom tax litigation is a specialty, said he seldom sees tax cases languish the way the Star Scientific lawsuit has. If plaintiffs don't push them along, then the government to which the disputed tax bill is due usually moves more quickly to recover its money.

The delay, however, viewed alongside Cuccinelli's financial ties to the plaintiff, exposes Cuccinelli to criticism on the ethical question of whether to recuse himself and his office from the case by hiring a private law firm to litigate it, something the office has done regularly for any number of reasons.

"I think in a case like that, it's probably better for the attorney general to step out of it," Tobias said.
Campsen said he believes the decision to step aside and hire outside counsel should have been an easy one for Cuccinelli, given his direct financial interest in the company.  "To me this isn't just the appearance of a conflict, it is a conflict of interest," he said. "This looks bad and this smells bad."

Gottstein dismissed suggestions that Cuccinelli or his staff had shown Star Scientific preferential treatment.

Gottstein also said it would be almost impossible for the office to operate if it bowed out of any case where its attorneys owned stock in widely traded public companies. For instance, he said, employees may own stock in Virginia-based utility giant Dominion, which is also among the largest contributors to political campaigns in the state, "yet the OAG is involved as opposing counsel in large Dominion Power rate cases."

Even though Cuccinelli's Star Scientific holdings are appearing widely in news accounts, staff lawyers with the attorney general's office will continue to handle the Star Scientific tax lawsuit.

Gottstein's comparison of other staff attorneys with Cuccinelli is ridiculous.  Those attorneys do what they are directed to do.  Kookinelli, on the other hand is the one who tells the rest of the AG staff what to do.  The man is an arrogant menace and needs to be defeated in November.

The Horrors in Iraq Worse Than Hiroshima?

The American public continues to avoid facing the horrors done in their name in Iraq.  Horrors that involve not only the hundreds of Iraqis who needlessly lost their lives.  These horrors extend to babies being born horribly deformed thanks to the U. S. military's use of depleted uranium in weaponry.  The image above is horrifying.  So is what America did having fallen for the jingoistic slogans of war mongers and the lies of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.  The horrors also extend to our military veterans some of whom will never recover physically and/or mentally.  Democracy Now looks at the continued horrors in Iraq where the deformities and inflated cancer rates are said to exceed those seen in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in the aftermath of the nuclear bombings. Sadly, many on the far right, especially the Christofascists, will not be moved to care.  After all, these victims aren't Christian and aren't white and, therefore in their sick minds are not even human.  Bradley Manning is facing criminal charges for trying to expose American atrocities and war crimes, yet those who caused this nightmare go un-prosecuted and unpunished.  Here is an excerpt from Democracy Now:

Dr. Samira Alani actually visited with doctors in Japan, comparing statistics, and found that the amount of congenital malformations in Fallujah is 14 times greater than the same rate measured in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in the aftermath of the nuclear bombings. These types of birth defects, she said—there are types of congenital malformations that she said they don’t even have medical terms for, that some of the things they’re seeing, they’ve never seen before. They’re not in any of the books or any of the scientific literature that they have access to. She said it’s common now in Fallujah for newborns to come out with massive multiple systemic defects, immune problems, massive central nervous system problems, massive heart problems, skeletal disorders, baby’s being born with two heads, babies being born with half of their internal organs outside of their bodies, cyclops babies literally with one eye—really, really, really horrific nightmarish types of birth defects. And it is ongoing.
Meanwhile, we see the far right in particular blathering on and on about American exceptionalism.  America is exceptional alright, but in a horrible way.  And the damaged lives extend as noted to many of our troops - those lucky enough to have not lost their lives for nothing.     But one example is Iraq War veteran Tomas Young who has written a letter to Bush and Cheney.  Here are highlights from Democracy Now:

Iraq War veteran Tomas Young was left paralyzed in a 2004 attack in Iraq. Released from medical care three months later, Young returned home to become an active member in Iraq Veterans Against the War. He recently announced that he will stop his medicine and nourishment, which comes in the form of liquid through a feeding tube — a decision which will hasten his death. Joining us from his home in Kansas City, Young reads from his letter, "A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran." Young says to Bush and Cheney:

To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney

From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.
Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

Tomas Young

The fact that Bush and Cheney - an senior military officers who engaged in torture, violations of the Geneva Conventions and outright war crimes remain unpunished speaks volumes about America and sadly the American people.  None of it is good.  Americans may want to close their eyes to the crimes done in their names, but the rest of the world is watching.  The far right worries about America's standing in the world and would say that Obama has lessened it when, in fact, it is they and their policies that have done America grievous harm.  Bush and Cheney need to be prosecuted, tried, and likely executed - at least if America applied the standards it used on Germans and Japanese officials after World War II.  Right now, I am not proud to be an American.

The GOP’s Looming Gay Crisis

As the trend of growing support for gay marriage and gay rights in general accelerates, it is interesting to watch the Christofascists double down on their increasingly hysterical anti-gay rhetoric.  This week the American Academy of Pediatrics endorsed gay marriage and the hate merchants at Focus on the Family were apoplectic.  Glenn Stanton, one of the top anti-gay extremists at FOTF penned a diatribe on FOTF's faux news site, CitizenLink trying to stem the tide against FOTF's religious based bigotry:
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued what appears to be a politically motivated statement suggesting that children raised by same-sex parents do just fine. In fact, the AAP goes so far as to suggest that children are more affected by the health of the relationship between the people raising them than by whether they are being raised by their own mother and father.  Sadly, the report is not rooted in social science but instead in a spirit of radical social activism, causing the authors to come to a fantastical and wishful conclusion. 

To be clear, this recent announcement is not science, but propaganda rooted in social activism regarding the family, which is the foundational unit of humanity. That such a credentialed and well-known organization would play politics with this issue should grieve all of those who are committed to the integrity of science when it comes to the future of our children.
It is laughable to see FOTF worrying about science and legitimate medical and mental health knowledge when it regular promotes quacks and charlatans (e.g., Stanton himself) as legitimate experts.   How does this tie in with the GOP?  Here in Virginia the leading puppeteer for the  Virginia GOP is The Family Foundation, FOTF's viciously anti-gay affiliate.  No Republican candidate can hold even moderate positions on gay rights without earning the wrath of TFF.  The same holds true at the national level where Christofascists still control the GOP's positions on so-called social issues.  The nation - and even Virginia - is changing on gay rights and gay marriage, but the Christofascists refuse to allow any change in the GOP.  The result will be that just as the Christofascists are driving younger generations from Christianity, so too they are driving voters from the GOP.  Andrew Sullivan looks at the phenomenon:

In the latest polling, 81 percent of those under 30 favored marriage equality. I was shocked by the number, but shouldn’t have been. What we can all forget is that this is the first generation who went through their childhood and teens knowing that civil marriage was an option for gay couples. That generation included gay kids and teens who, for the first time, could see an integrated future for themselves in their own families and society. I have no doubt this has made that generation the least fucked-up, sanest gay generation in history – seeing from the get-go a real and equal and dignified future for themsleves. And their greater self-confidence and self-esteem has been infectious. Their straight peers know them and their orientation and simply find it baffling that they would be denied what every heterosexual has always accepted as a given in their own lives.

That can only mean that, for the young generation, and all those who follow it in the future, the GOP’s aggressive stance and brutal rhetoric against marriage equality simply identifies them as bigots. Some may not be. But that is what they will be seen to be. The report does not advocate changing policy on marriage equality. But I think the premise that it [the GOP] can win the next generation simply by ignoring the question is untenable.

The over-60, predominantly white, Fox News watching, fundamentalist base cannot budge an inch on gays. Because it’s a religious and not a political position. And so it may soon be a truly fateful day for the GOP: drop the anti-gay policies or become the even angrier old white man party.

If I were Karl Rove, I’d be praying for Anthony Kennedy to write the gay Loving vs Virginia. It would take the issue off the political table for good, and leave them a nice juicy judicial tyranny argument instead. But a mixed verdict  . . .  would keep the issue alive, violate no federalist principles, and leave the GOP’s fundamentalist intransigence in place – as a dead weight around their necks as they try to stay afloat.

Watching ideologues confront reality is always entertaining for a real conservative. But it’s going to be excruciating for today’s Republicans.

I would love to see  a gay  marriage equivalent to Loving v. Virginia.  If that doesn't happen, I hope the GOP's continued prostitution of itself to the Christofascists hastens the party's death as a national party.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

More Thursday Male Beauty

Catholic Cardinal was in Physical Same Sex Relationship with Accuser

The dirt just keeps on coming out about disgraced Catholic Cardinal Keith O'Brien and it underscores his utter hypocrisy in attacking gays and gay marriage.  And, I suspect, O'Brien is but one of many in the Church hierarchy who preach against gay Catholics and gay civil rights and marriage even as they engage in physical same sex relationships themselves or molest subordinates and altar boys.   The irony is that O'Brien's anti-gay stridency in his official position may have been the straw that broke the camel's back, if you will, and pushed those with  whom he had been sexually intimate to to decide to take him down.  The phenomenon is similar to what led to former Congressman Ed Schrock's down fall:  he voted consistently anti-gay in Congress yet sought same sex hook ups and tryst.  The hypocrisy caused myself and others to ultimately help out him.  The moral is that if one is in the closet and playing around, being publicly anti-gay is the last thing one should do.  A piece in The Scotland Herald looks at what seems to have triggered the actions of O'Brien's acusers.  Here are highlights:

Cardinal Keith O'Brien had a long-standing physical relationship with one of the men whose complaints about his behaviour sparked his downfall as leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland.

The man left the priesthood in the middle of the last decade but rejoined and is living on the continent in a post the cardinal helped him secure. 

The complainant is known to have been in regular telephone contact with Cardinal O'Brien until recently and was a frequent visitor to St Benets, his official residence in Edinburgh's Morningside.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Will America Learn Anything from the Iraq War Disaster?

A horrid graphic example of what was done in American's name
Ten years ago America went to war in Iraq based on the lies and fraudulent "data" put forth by the regime of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.  Thousands of needless deaths, billions and billions of dollars, and countless war crimes later, most Americans agree that the war was a disaster.  But was anything really learned?  Countless pundits and columnists are writing apology pieces for their participation in the war mongering or their failure to ask the serious questions that might have spared the nation from the debacle.  I for one never supported the war and recall feeling physically sick when the heinous Chimperator Bush announced in a televised press conference that he had sent America to war - something for which he should be criminally prosecuted in my opinion (as well as for war crimes).  A typical apology piece appears in the Washington Post.  Here are excerpts:

Ten years ago this week, I was covering the U.S. military as it began its assault on Iraq. As I read back now over my clips, I see a few useful warnings about the difficulties ahead. But I owe readers an apology for being wrong on the overriding question of whether the war made sense.

Invading Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein a decade ago was one of the biggest strategic errors in modern American history. We’ll never know whether the story might have been different if better planning had been done for “the day after,” or the Iraqi army hadn’t been disbanded, or several other “ifs.” But the abiding truth is that America shouldn’t have rolled the dice this way on a war of choice.

America’s military power, awesome as it was, turned out to be insufficient to impose a settlement in Iraq; and in a grinding war of occupation, all our might could not turn on the electricity in Baghdad or frighten Sunnis and Shiites into cooperating with each other. Rome was also weak at home, politically: The United States didn’t have the stomach for a protracted war that President George W. Bush couldn’t explain and the public didn’t understand. 

The second comment was from a Syrian friend who opposed the war. In 2002, when we first discussed the coming battle, he was reading “The March of Folly,” historian Barbara Tuchman’s account of epochal policy blunders through history. America was about to make another mistake of historic dimensions, my friend warned. 

My friend took me aside after the fighting had been raging for several months. I am still haunted by what he said: “I am sorry for America. You are stuck. You have become a country of the Middle East. America will never change Iraq, but Iraq will change America.”

In the political vacuum we created, Iraq tumbled into the past — pulling a lot of the Arab world with it. That’s part of why President Obama has been so careful recently in dealing with Syria: He doesn’t want America to make the same mistake twice. But history is cruel: You can try so hard to avoid an outcome that, in your very passivity, you make more likely.

Sadly, the writer still isn't able to admit that everything done in Iraq was a disaster  and clings to the myth that  the surge of U.S. troops led by Bush and Gen. David Petraeus was something positive.  More frightening is the fact that far too many in the U.S. military are only to eager to repeat the disaster in Iran or Syria.  American hubris just keeps getting in the way of common sense and cold, calculating long term analysis and recognition of objective reality.   Vietnam should have taught the nation and our military a lesson.  Sadly, the lesson wasn't learned or was forgotten and thousands of individuals lost their lives needlessly.   Andrew Sullivan at least seems to appreciate the magnitude of his error:

This feels like an academic debate. But it isn’t. I have blood on my hands. However many times I try to wash them, the blood will not come off.

American Academy of Pediatrics Backs Gay Marriage

With opponents of gay marriage shrieking that gay parenting harms children and citing the fraudulent and Christofascist funded "study" done by Mark Regnerus, the American Academy of Pediatrics has formally announced that it supports gay marriage.  Moreover, it disputes the arguments of the opponents of marriage equality. The statement also notes that the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and the American College of Nursing all similarly support and end to bans against gay marriage.  One can only hope that the Supreme Court justices listen to actual experts and reject religiously motivated lies and bigotry.  Here are highlights on the Academy's formal endorsement of gay marriage:

The nation's most influential pediatrician's group has endorsed gay marriage, saying a stable relationship between parents regardless of sexual orientation contributes to a child's health and well-being.

The American Academy of Pediatrics' new policy, published online Thursday, cites research showing that the parents' sexual orientation has no effect on a child's development. Kids fare just as well in gay or straight families when they are nurturing and financially and emotionally stable, the academy says.

The academy believes that a two-parent marriage is best equipped to provide that kind of environment. Their policy says that if a child has two gay parents who choose to marry, "it is in the best interests of their children that legal and social institutions allow and support them to do so."
The policy cites reports indicating that almost 2 million U.S. children are being raised by gay parents, many of them in states that don't allow gays to marry.

The academy announced its position Thursday. Officials with the group said they wanted to make the academy's views known before two gay marriage cases are considered by the U.S. Supreme Court next week.

"We wanted that policy statement available for the justices to review," said Dr. Thomas McInerney, the academy's president and a pediatrician in Rochester, N.Y.

The academy's statement notes that several other national health groups have supported gay marriage. Those are the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and the American College of Nursing.

Dr. Ben Siegel, a Boston pediatrician and chairman of an academy committee that developed the new policy, said its focus is on "nurturing children. We want what's best for children."

Additional coverage is here in the New York Times.  The Christofascists claim to care about children, but in truth they don't give a damn about them - especially the children of gays.  Their only real agenda is to seek to force their toxic beliefs and prejudices on all Americans.  Religion truly needs to be forced from public policy making decisions and the historic deference given to religion needs to end.

Senate Bill Includes Funds for Shipbuilding, Won't Stop Civilian Furloughs

(Steve Helber | The Associated Press)
The U. S. Senate has passed a bill that is aimed at blocking sequestration spending cuts that would severely hurt local shipbuilding and repair facilities, particularly Newport News Shipbuilding (see image above), Virginia's largest employer.  The bill, however, will not protect civilian government workers - some 39,000 in Hampton Roads alone - who face furloughs and 20% cuts in their income.  Thus, some local fools who were duped into voting Republican in 2012 by GOP overtures to racist views and religious extremism may well yet get their just deserves for their stupidity and bigotry.  It will be most interesting to see how Scott Rigell, Randy Forbes and Rob Wittman - and Eric Cantor - vote when the bill reaches the House of Representatives.  Here are excerpts from the Virginian Pilot's coverage:

The Senate approved legislation Wednesday to lock in $85 billion in widely decried spending cuts aimed at restraining soaring federal deficits — and to avoid a government shutdown just a week away. President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats rejected a call to reopen White House tours scrapped because of the tightened spending. 

The bill provides more than $3 billion to Newport News Shipbuilding, one of the region’s largest employers, to move forward on significant projects including the refueling of the carrier Abraham Lincoln, the dismantling of the retired carrier Enterprise and the start of construction of a new carrier, the John F. Kennedy. A Senate amendment, promoted by U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., also restores funding for a college tuition assistance program for active-duty service members.

However, the legislation doesn’t provide money to block the likely furloughs of civilian government employees, including as many as 39,000 Navy and Marine Corps civilian workers in Hampton Roads, as part of $85 billion in automatic budget cuts – known as sequestration.

Federal meat inspectors were spared furloughs, but more than 100 small and medium air traffic facilities were left exposed to possible closure as the two parties alternately clashed and cooperated over proposals to take the edge off across-the-board spending cuts that took effect on March 1.

Final House approval of the measure is likely as early as Thursday. Obama's signature is a certainty, meaning the cuts will remain in place at least through the end of the budget year on Sept. 30 — even though he and lawmakers in both parties have criticized them as random rather than targeted.

I can't help but find some satisfaction in the fact that of the 100+ airports that may be closed, most are in red states, especially in the mind-west.  I hope the Neanderthals out there enjoy their long drives to other airports and that their home states feel the impact of their backwardness.

Second Poll Shows Majority Support for Gay Marriage

With oral arguments nest week in the DOMA and Proposition 8 cases, another survey  - this one by Reuters - shows majority support for gay marriage and only 25% of Americans strongly opposed.  Yes, the Christofascists are losing the war on gays.   As previously noted, polls and surveys have no direct bearing on how the U. S. Supreme Court may rule, but the more evidence there is a majority public support for gay marriage, the more likely it becomes that justices like Kennedy and even Roberts may decide to support marriage equality and role broadly.  A broad ruling that a constitutional right to same sex marriage exists would be devastating for hate merchants like Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown, Tony Perkins and a host of others who work to stir anti-gay animus virtually ever day while enriching themselves in the process.  Here are highlights of the survey results:

As the Supreme Court prepares to decide whether the federal government may deny benefits to same-sex married couples that it allows their heterosexual counterparts, Americans seem already to have made up their minds.

Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said married gay and lesbian couples should be able to qualify for Social Security survivor payments and other benefits provided to married heterosexual couples, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling of 2,886 people between March 5 and March 14.

Majority support for such benefits was seen across all regions of the United States, even in the traditionally more conservative South.

A more extensive Reuters/Ipsos poll of 24,455 people between January 1 and March 14 found only a quarter of Americans opposed same-sex marriage or civil unions, although there were deep regional differences of opinion. Overall, that Reuters poll found 63 percent supported gay marriage or civil unions, with 41 percent of people saying same-sex couples should be permitted to marry.

The greatest support was in the Northeast, with 69 percent of adults favoring a gay marriage or civil-union right. The lowest support was in the South, at 57 percent.

Overall, surveys have shown a drop in endorsement of civil unions simultaneous to a rise in support of same-sex marriage.

[S]aid Julia Clark, Ipsos vice-presiden,  "The long-term trend shows steady movement toward a majority of Americans supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage."

The support for equal federal benefits in the Reuters/Ipsos poll suggests a majority of people, regardless of their views on the marriage question, believe the federal government should not discriminate among couples based on sexual orientation.

Those views were not tied to respondents' own sexual preferences. The overwhelming majority of people who took part in the poll, 93 percent, described themselves as heterosexual or straight.

One can only imagine the shrieks and tears - a flying spittle - at the offices of hate groups like Family Research Council, American Family Association and The Family Foundation.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Extreme GOP Conservative House Budget Fails

House leaders defeated more austere cuts than in Paul Ryan's proposal

At times it appears that there is a contest within the GOP House Caucus as to who can bring forth a more draconian and anti-Gospel message budget proposal.  And typically, it is those Republicans who most boast about their godliness and allegiance to the Bible who formulate and back the most heinous and mean spirited budget proposals.   Today saw that phenomenon once again and thanks to Democrats who voted "present" but who did not cast a yes or no vote, the GOP extremists and faint of heart were flushed out.  And, as a result, a majority of House Republicans voted against a budget proposal that made Paul Ryan's horrific budget look both charitable and reasonable.  Politico looks at the GOP batshitery.  Here are a few highlights:
House Republican leaders beat back conservatives’ effort to substitute more drastic spending cuts than those contained in Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s fiscal blueprint, as Democrats forced the issue by voting present on the floor.

The Republican Study Committee budget would slash domestic accounts much faster than Ryan’s plan and freeze Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program funding at fiscal 2012 levels. It would achieve a balance in five years, compared to Ryan’s version, which does not project balance until 2023.

[M]ost House Democrats cast “present” votes. That meant that only Republicans would decide whether the RSC budget would replace the Ryan plan. The vote, scheduled for 15 minutes, lasted about 25 minutes.  The two sides slowly ticked upward, as many Republicans withheld their votes until the end of the voting period.

While the outcome was never seriously in doubt, the Democratic procedural maneuver ensured Republicans didn’t get to cast a freebie vote for a budget that plays well with the conservative base but is considered too extreme even by most members of the GOP.

In a rare scorecard result, a plurality of the House — 171 members — voted “present.” The “yes” votes totaled 104, while 132 members, including 14 Democrats, voted “no.” Twenty-five lawmakers did not vote.

For watchers of the emerging Georgia Senate race, all four House Republicans who are looking at bids voted “yes,” while Rep. John Barrow of Georgia was one of the 14 Democrats who actually cast “no” votes.

Kudos to the Democrats for putting members of the GOP in a box.  It is a pretty sad statement about conservatives in today's GOP when even Paul Ryan's budget looks like a charity work in comparison.   The hypocrisy of Republicans who wrap themselves in religion is once again off the charts.

Do Gays Have a Duty to Come Out of the Closet?

Several bloggers and columnists have suggested that gays have a duty or obligation if you will to come out of the closet.  If that is true, I admittedly failed to meet my obligation for many years and all I can plead is that growing up in the late 1950's and 1960's the climate was simply too hostile and being gay was still classified as a mental illness through most of my college years.   That said, today represents a different world - almost a different universe - from the era of my youth and college days  than and I do tend to agree with those who are chiding those still in the closet or "out" except to family and friends and co-workers.  A piece in entitled "Will Portman and the Duty to Come Out" looks at the issue. Here are excerpts:

This is why coming out is a duty: Every time a gay or lesbian person demands acceptance, they make it easier for others to do the same. We have the power to change people's political and personal attitudes toward gays simply by being present and known to be gay; we can only exercise that power if we come out.

San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk got this right in 1978, when he admonished his fellow gays and lesbians to come out of the closet in order to build opposition to a ballot measure that would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools: "Come out to your relatives. I know that is hard and will upset them but think how they will upset you in the voting booth."

This obligation is only stronger now that social acceptance of gays and lesbians is higher, meaning the cost of coming out has declined. And it lies particularly with those in positions of privilege and power, who have the resources to withstand negative reactions. Coming out was stressful for me like it is for most people, but let’s be real: Announcing that you’re gay in a wealthy family in a progressive suburb of Boston as you’re about to enter Harvard University is a pretty easy hand to play. I could hardly claim a hardship that would justify staying in the closet, especially with Frankie’s example before me.

Coming out may have been more daunting for Will Portman because his father was a Republican officeholder with an anti-gay voting record; or maybe he had good reasons to expect his dad to react in exactly the way he did. But while his father’s position may have made coming out harder, it also made it all the more obligatory, because of the possibility it would lead to the outcome that we saw last week. He was given an unusual opportunity to use his coming out to materially change the prospects for gay rights and gay acceptance in America, and he took it.

What the writer says is true.  That's not to say that coming out is necessarily easy.  My coming out journey was a living Hell at times and trigger two serious suicide attempts.  But I survived it and I know for a fact that since coming out I have changes some previously closed minds among clients and others.   Andrew Sullivan is a bit even more in your face with those who remain in the closet to family, friends and co-workers (and believe me, I know people in this situation):

I remember one HRC dinner back in the day when I was asked to speak. I asked people who were out to their families, friends and co-workers to put their hands up. In a well-heeled, tuxedoed, bejeweled crowd, only about a third put up their hands. I asked who were not out – and another third went up. I then said, in words I reiterate today to anyone in the closet writing checks to gay groups, “Why don’t you leave right now and come back when you’ve done something for gay rights?”  If you’re reading this, and your hand went up as in the closet, my question stands. 

Andrew has a serious point.  All I can plead is that although I failed in fulfilling my duty in the past, I am working diligently to make amends.   The boyfriend and I are 100% out 24/7 and, yes, it caused a stir when we were announced as a couple as new members to the Hampton Yacht Club.  But guess what, we made some people rethink their prejudices and there is no turning back.  I make no apologies for who I am or how the Creator made me.  Is it scary at times?  Most certainly.  But, the more of us that take this approach, the sooner we will have full equality and the sooner LGBT teens will stop feeling that ending their lives is their best alternative. 

Hate Group Leader Threatens GOP If It Drops Anti-Gay Agenda

Mirroring what is the norm here in Virginia where the foul and toxic Christofascists at The Family Foundation ("TFF") routinely threaten Virginia Republicans who fail to do the TFF's bidding or adopt anything less than stridently anti-gay positions, the often spittle flecked hate group leader Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council (who has past KKK ties), and other far right religious extremists are threatening the GOP with an exodus of the Bible beaters from the GOP if Republicans cease their anti-gay marriage platform (and  anti-gay agenda in general).   Perkins' threats underscore the bind the GOP finds itself in as popular support for gay marriage soars among all demographic groups, but especially the under 30 generations.  Indeed, the GOP needs to find a way to kill the Frankenstein monster it created when it allowed the Christofascists to infiltrate and take over local committees and caucuses.  The Hill looks at the growing threats and discord and the long term political risk to the GOP.  Here are excerpts:

Republican presidential hopefuls are facing a delicate dance on gay marriage going into 2016 — even as their potential Democratic opponents embrace an issue once fraught with political danger.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s declaration this week that she favors gay marriage highlighted the new practical reality for Democrats with White House ambitions — that after President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage in 2012, it’s no longer safe in the party’s primary to waffle.

But for GOP contenders, the political ground continues to shift. Even as support for gay marriage grows in the broader electorate, the party’s evangelical base remains vehemently opposed.

Social conservatives traditionally turn out at high levels in early primary and caucus states, making it extremely risky for a Republican to navigate gay rights in general, and gay marriage in particular.
“Any presidential candidate seeking the Republican Party nomination in 2016 has to be very careful not to poke a stick in the eye of that base vote in any state,” said Gary Marx, executive director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.

If the Republican party “abandons marriage evangelicals will either sit the elections out completely — or move to create a third party,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “Either option puts Republicans on the path to a permanent minority.”

But if it’s politically risky for a major Republican candidate to back gay marriage, it’s also problematic to staunchly oppose it.

The conundrum for Republican candidates begins in Iowa, where evangelical voters made up 56 percent of GOP caucus-goers in 2012, according to exit polling. In South Carolina’s Republican primary, they made up 64 percent.

Though gay marriage may present an obstacle in early 2016 primaries, there were signs at CPAC that the issue might not be one that wins with the GOP overall.

Margaret Hoover, a top aide to the pro-gay-rights super-PAC American Unity, said there’s a growing distaste among Republicans to fight this battle.   She said that while American Unity would be willing to play in 2016 in support of any pro-gay-marriage candidates, “we might not exist” by then because of the fast rate in which public opinion is moving in favor of marriage. “This issue is increasingly not a motivating issue for social conservatives,” she said. “One of the thing we’ve seen is many social conservatives saying, ‘we don’t want to fight on this issue.’ ”

The stridency of Perkins and similar Christofascist hate merchants is understandable.  Given the overall exhaustion of the nation with the fight over abortion, peddling the threat of "the gay agenda" has been a mainstay in hate group fundraising.  If the GOP bails on anti-gay hate and/or the U. S. Supreme Court rules broadly and finds a constitutional right to gay marriage, Perkins and many other "professional Christians" will be faced with the frightening prospect of nor longer being able to shake down the ignorant for money.  Indeed, they might actually have to get a real job.  Somehow, I can't find a shred of sympathy for them in my heart.  They have harmed countless lives and deserve whatever misfortunes that may befall them.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

GOP Extremists Seek to End Party Primaries in Virginia

While the Christofascists at the national level may realize that the sun is setting on their power, here in Virginia, the extremists - many of who have ties to dens of bigotry and racism such as The Family Foundation, Liberty University and a plethora of right wing organizations in Northern Virginia - are on a new offensive which seeks to bar primary elections and purge the Virginia GOP of non-Kool-Aid drinkers.  The dust up between Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli and Bill Bolling over how this year's GOP gubernatorial candidate is to be nominated could be just the beginning of a wave of extremism.  Hopefully, it will drive moderates away from the GOP and harm Kookinelli whose finger prints can be found on the offensive.   A piece in the Virginian Pilot looks at the internecine war now under way.  Here are excerpts:

Last year, a loose coalition of Republican activists - Tea Party members, libertarians and supporters of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli - orchestrated a takeover of the GOP committee that sets the rules for how the party chooses its nominees for governor and other offices.

They secured enough seats to switch this year's process from a primary election to a convention. The change had a big impact: It wound up forcing Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling out of the contest after he determined that he couldn't win the nomination under that format, leaving Cuccinelli with no competition as his party's candidate.

Since then, some of the same factions that pushed for that change have been discussing a strategy that would take that to the next level - though no one has been willing to talk about it publicly - aimed at purging officeholders they consider too moderate, people they derisively call RINOs, or Republicans in Name Only.

Their goal: to get rid of primary elections altogether or severely limit them, a fight that has been waged in the Virginia GOP for years. That would give Republican insiders even greater sway over the selection of General Assembly nominees, leaving many voters with a voice only in general elections.

Some conservatives, though, worry that pushing too aggressively to restrict primaries could provoke a backlash - that establishment Republicans upset at being out of power would try to regain control of the process by pushing to eliminate conventions as an option.

A fight over the rules at the May 18 convention in Richmond would be undesirable for Cuccinelli, who benefited from the switch to a convention but is in a different position now that he is the GOP's presumptive nominee for governor.

Political conventions are choreographed affairs, and Cuccinelli's people want to avoid having the pomp and circumstance of his crowning moment marred by party infighting.  "If they do this," said one veteran Republican strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity, referring to a potential floor fight over the rules, "it would be an unmitigated disaster for Ken."

Publicly, people on both sides question whether an attempt to eliminate primaries will materialize or fizzle before candidates are nominated in May.  "It seems clear that, despite what the attorney general has been saying at least since December, there are folks who are intent on trying, anyway," said Mike Thomas, first vice chairman of the state GOP.

One alleged plot to end primaries is sketched out in a Jan. 29 email, purportedly written anonymously by a conservative activist, that has made the rounds among Virginia Republicans.  "We must get control of the convention... in order to do what must be done," reads the email, which was obtained by The Virginian-Pilot. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we must get our people to the convention and change the Republican Party and destroy the Republican establishment forever. I have been waiting for most of my life for this moment. With only a few more votes we will be in full control."

The GOP establishment cynically invited these nutcases into the party over the last 20 years and they may be about to pay the price for their short sighted cynicism.  The Christofascists and their Tea Party cousins may yet end up being the death sentence for the GOP as a national political party.

As Their Power Declines in America, Christofascists Are Moving to Developing Countries

Perhaps realizing that the cancer of religious based ignorance and bigotry is dying in America - the rapid upsurge in support for gay marriage is but one example - the Christofascists are busy exporting their hate and venom to the developing world where uneducated populations provide a more receptive audience to their anti-science and fear and based form of Christianity.  Hence the Catholic Church's rapid growth in Africa even as it is losing power and respect in the developed world.  Would that the Christofascists would emigrate themselves.  A lengthy article in AlterNet looks at the phenomenon (read the full piece).  Here are some highlights:

Sometime last year, the US quietly passed a milestone demographers had long been predicting: for the first time in its history, this country is no longer majority Protestant. Fewer than 50 percent of Americans now identify as Protestant Christians of any denomination. 

 This change has come on surprisingly recently, and from a historical perspective, with breathtaking speed.  As recently as 1993, almost two-thirds of Americans identified as Protestants, a number that had remained stable for the several preceding decades. But sometime in the 1990s, the ground started to shift, and it's been sliding ever since.   .   .   .   The rise of so-called megachurches, like Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in California or Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill in Seattle, represents not growth, but consolidation. 

What's happening to these vanishing Protestants? For the most part, they're not converting to any other religion, but rather are walking away from religion entirely. They're becoming " nones," as the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life puts it. It seems likely that this is the same secularizing trend being observed in Europe, as people of advanced, peaceful democracies find religion increasingly irrelevant to their daily lives. 

The spokespeople of the religious right have noticed this trend as well, but it's clear they have very little idea what to do about it. In a column from 2005, Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, declared that "theological liberalism" is at fault for Christianity's decline, and that the only thing they need to do to reverse it is to make "a bold commitment to biblical authority." Far from it, the evidence is clear that churches clinging to antiquated dogma are part of the problem, as young people turn away from their strident decrees about gays and women. 

As their power declines in America and Europe, they're[fundamentalists]  increasingly moving abroad, to developing countries not as far along the secularization curve, where they often find a more receptive audience. 

The first example is Uganda, where the most despicable kind of American culture warriors have run amok with horrifying results. Since 2009, the country's parliament has been debating an "Anti-Homosexuality Bill," which among other things would establish a crime of "aggravated homosexuality," punishable by life imprisonment or death.

It's not just LGBT people in Uganda who've been harmed by the spread of aggressive evangelicalism. American megachurch pastor Rick Warren has a Ugandan protege, a pastor named Martin Ssempa, who has preached aggressively against contraception (in one bizarre public stunt, he burned condoms in the name of Jesus). 

American evangelicals have spread their poisonous influence to other African countries as well. A report by Political Research Associates, " Globalizing the Culture Wars," chronicles in detail how American religious-right groups, especially the theologically conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy, have worked together with their counterparts in Africa to foment homophobia and oppose feminism and gender equality. Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya, three major English-speaking African nations, have seen the brunt of this effort.

In part, religious conservatives are doing this as a power play against religious liberals in their own countries  .  .  .  .   the conservatives want to enlist the African branch of those churches to help them oppose and undercut liberal efforts for social justice. (Conservative Anglicans in America want African Anglicans to help them defeat liberal Anglican proposals to let gay people serve as clergy.) But it's the African people who bear the collateral damage of this cultural proxy war. 

The point of all this is that stopping the religious right is a global issue. The harm they do in America isn't trivial, but they do far greater harm in developing countries where constitutional protections aren't as strong, and where American money exerts an outsized influence. If we can't stop them here, there are people all over the world who will suffer much worse repercussions. 

The Christianists continue to be a dangerous and poisonous force and - along with Islamic fundamentalists - represent true evil in the world.  They and other fundamentalists of other faiths need to be stopped and driven from power once and for all. It is far past time that they cease being viewed as either nice or pious people.