Saturday, April 06, 2013

The Republican Party is Officially Broken

As a former Republican (I held a city committee position for 8 years) from a family of generations of Republicans I often lament what has become of the party that once valued intellect and knowledge and rationality and logic.  Those days are long gone and, as I have done in the past, I again attribute the decline of the GOP to the ascendancy of the Christian Right - or as I prefer to call them, the Christofascists - in the party.  The infiltration of the Christofascists with in the GOP has indeed been like a metastasizing cancer that has slowly but steadily driven out moderates and those who value constitutional principles such as the concept of separation of church and state.  I  personally witnessed the early stages of the process and ultimately resigned from the GOP citing the party's refusal to separate religious dogma from party policies in my resignation letter.  Things have only worsened since that day years ago.  A piece in Salon looks at the political dysfunction that now grips Washington, D.C., and correctly fixes the blame on the GOP.  Here are excerpts:

The American political system is not broken. What’s broken is the Republican Party. And it’s not clear how it will recover.

What’s wrong with American politics and what can be done about it is the question that election law expert Rick Hasen sets for himself in a fascinating new paper. In particular, he asks whether American politics is so broken that the only cure is to chuck the Constitution and replace it with a parliamentary system or some other radical systemic reform.

Hasen lays out the well-known case of dysfunction (perhaps best set out in Tom Mann and Norm Ornstein’s recent “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks”) and considers, but mostly rejects, three possible rejoinders: that gridlock is actually what voters want; that gridlock is to some extent an illusion, and the system is more productive than frustrated partisans believe; and that dysfunction is real but could be cured by less-drastic measures such as Senate reform and electoral reform.

My conclusion? It’s not partisanship. It’s not polarization. It’s not even extremism.
It’s the Republican Party. The GOP is broken.
Perhaps the biggest cause is the perverse incentives created by the conservative marketplace. Simply put, a large portion of the party, including the GOP-aligned partisan press and even many politicians, profit from having Democrats in office. Typically, democracies “work” in part because political parties have strong incentives to hold office, which causes them once they win to try hard to enact public policy that keeps people satisfied with their government. That appears to be undermined for today’s Republicans.

A second and related cause has to do with a spiraling insistence on ever-more-pure candidates in party primaries. To some extent, this is perfectly healthy. Party actors are able to use nominations to fight for their interests and for their preferred positions on public policy; in a healthy party, those fights are one of the best sources of real democracy in the political system. The danger in even the healthiest parties is that participation in nomination contests tends to be highest among those with the most extreme views, which can leave a party too far from median voters. In the GOP, however, there are strong incentives to constantly create new levels of purity, in many cases by creating purely symbolic differences and attempting to exploit them. Knowing of that threat, candidates don’t even need direct threats in many cases to make themselves easy marks for cranks attempting to pressure them.

The result? A massively dysfunctional party, as they amply demonstrated over the last decade —think Iraq, Congressional corruption, economic collapse, and on and on. Just to give the basics:
  • An aversion to normal bargaining and compromise
  • An inability to banish fringe people and views from the mainstream of the party
  • An almost comical lack of interest in substantive policy formation
  • A willingness to ignore established norms and play “Constitutional hardball”
  • A belief that when out of office, the best play is always all-out obstruction
As I said at the beginning, I really don’t have any great solution to any of this. My guess is that while in theory it could be solved from the bottom up by activists or party-aligned groups who get fed up with it, the more likely solution will be that they’ll get lucky and win a presidential election with a nominee who somehow is able to handle the job and reform his party, in part by example. But it could take a long time for that to happen. Far more likely is that the next time Republicans win they’ll prove even more incapable of governing than they were during the George W. Bush presidency.

The problem isn’t partisanship or polarization. The problem is the GOP.
The author is too hesitant to name names and responsible factions.  The descent of the GOP coincides directly with the rise of the Christofascists  and, more recently, their cousins in the Tea Party which has an 85% overlap with conservative Christians.  They are a poisonous cancer that needs to be eradicated.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

GOP's Peter King to Marco Rubio: "Stay home"

It is always entertaining to watch Republicans trash each other.  While I usually view GOP. Congressman Peter King a as a pompous and often bigoted blowhard, it is fun to see him lay into Marco Rubio and tell Rubio to "stay home" and away from New York State.  King is still big time pissed off at members of the Congressional GOP who voted against aid to New York and New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy's devastation last year.  King points to the hypocrisy of Rubio who comes from a state that has received large amounts of federal aid after hurricanes.  Meanwhile, New York and New Jersey were snubbed even though they are net exporters of tax dollars.  Here are highlights from Politico:

Three months after some of his fellow Republicans voted against aid for Hurricane Sandy victims, New York Rep. Peter King is still furious, saying “nobody gave a damn” that there were “people close to dying in my district” and again calling out Florida Sen. Marco Rubio by name.

“My relationship with Congress will never be the same again,” the Long Island lawmaker said Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “They made us wait 90 to 100 days to give the most basic human aid. It was absolutely disgraceful. When I see these Republicans slapping each other on the back, all the camaraderie, ‘Hey, we’re great friends.’ All I know is that there were people close to dying in my district and nobody gave a damn. That’s not something I’m not going to forget.”

“Guys like Marco Rubio in Florida and all the money your people have gotten in Florida over the years from every hurricane that comes along and this guy has the nerve to vote against money from New York, and they come up here and try to raise money,” King said. “He can forget it.”

King previously attacked Rubio for having “the balls” to raise money on Wall Street after voting against the Sandy bill.

“I made it clear any of those people — people who voted and postured against money coming to New York and New Jersey and then wants to come up here and take money out of our pockets, forget it,” the congressman added. “They can stay home.”

On Jan. 1, after a majority of Republicans voted against a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, House Speaker John Boehner cancelled a vote on a Sandy aid package. An apoplectic King made the television rounds, instructing New Yorkers and New Jerseyeans to stop all donations to House Republicans. Many Republicans, including Rubio, instead supported a slimmed-down $24 billion package. A $50 billion package eventually passed the House later that month.

Asked directly by host Joe Scarborough whether he could “forgive and forget,” King said: “No, I won’t. And I never will.”

Let's hope big GOP donors from New York and New Jersey follow King's advice.

A Response to Disingenuous Catholic Church Talk About" Treating Gays Better"

On Easter morning Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York - who I consider to be an insufferable pig and lair - appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and claimed that the Catholic Church needed to do a better job in its outreach and treatment of gays.  Of course, Dolan went on to say gays are entitled to "friendship,”not sexual intimacy and certainly not marriage.  According to Dolan we are supposed to happily live empty, love free lives basically because ignorant nomads and herders of over 2,500 years ago concocted a few passages in Leviticus, most of the other proscription of which are utterly ignored by the godly crowd.   Frankly, I think Dolan's appearance and statements were simply a PR effort to soften the Church's anti-gay image.  Did he mean anything he said?  Probably not.  An op-ed in the New York Times challenges Dolan and the Church hierarchy to show through actions a true change in stance.  Here are excerpts:

[W]e offer a few suggestions that do not require the hierarchy to adjust its teachings on the nature of marriage, but would send a clear message against distaste and mistrust. 

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops should drop its opposition to including the gay and lesbian partners of American citizens in the immigration-reform proposals now being developed in Congress. Allowing gay and lesbian citizens to obtain permanent legal status for their partners, some of whom face deportation, confers no legal status on same-sex relationships. It simply keeps two people who love each other from being separated. 

The bishops should support anti-bullying programs in Catholic schools. Despite repeated urgings from the faithful, the bishops’ conference has refused to state clearly and forcefully that bullying young people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is wrong. Surely the bishops share our conviction that children shouldn’t be beaten or bullied for any reason. 

The hierarchy should also change its tone. Cardinal Dolan spoke beautifully at moments in his interview with ABC. Others have not. In December 2012, Cardinal Francis E. George, the archbishop of Chicago, compared a gay pride parade to a Ku Klux Klan demonstration (in remarks for which he has since apologized) and in September 2012 Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., said that parishioners who supported candidates who favored gay rights risked eternal damnation. Those statements conveyed the very opposite of the love and mercy that Cardinal Dolan expressed. 

The church hierarchy should also publicly dissociate itself from the National Organization for Marriage. The American bishops and their allies, especially the Knights of Columbus, have poured millions of dollars into the organization, which has sought to turn African-Americans and Hispanics against the gay community in fights over ballot initiatives regarding gay rights. The bishops would not tolerate such divisive behavior in other political allies, and they should not make an exception for National Organization for Marriage. 

The bishops should abandon their opposition to placing adopted children with same-sex couples. The church believes that children flourish best when raised by their biological parents, but — leaving aside whether that teaching is always correct — the reality is that that is not an option for every child. The bishops would improve the lives of many children, and many potential parents, if they would acknowledge the basic fairness of evaluating all couples seeking to adopt children according to the same standards. 

There is no reason the bishops, priests and deacons of every diocese in the United States cannot hold regular meetings with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics and their families to allow them to speak honestly about their experiences within the church. The result might not always be agreement, but at least it could be a spirit of respect and openness. 

Until some or all of these suggestions are accepted and acted upon we will know that Dolan was merely mouthing disingenuous lies.

Federal Court Morning-After Pill Ruling Riles Christianists

America continues to have a far higher teen pregnancy rate than other developed countries for a simple reason: American sex education programs and access to contraception is opposed by the Christofascists who live in a fantasy world where they believe that "abstinence only" sex education is the only approach that can be allowed.   Sadly, too many politicians including in the Obama administration are afraid to take on this batshitery.  Meanwhile, the Bible belt has the highest teen pregnancy rate (and the highest divorce rate).  A federal court ruling has struck down the ban on sales of the so-called morning after pill to women under 17 and has reignited the convulsions and spittle eruptions among the "godly Christian" crowd who seemingly would prefer more pregnancies - and ultimately more abortions -  than otherwise would need be the case.  Combined with their lack of any concern for children once they are born as evidenced by their support for draconian GOP cuts to programs for poor children, it demonstrates the hypocrisy of the Christofascist crowd which might just as well have "Modern Day Pharisee" tattooed on their foreheads.  A story in the Washington Post looks at the court ruling.

A federal court ruling Friday requiring the government to make the morning-after pill available to females of any age without a prescription reignited a politically fraught debate that has stretched for more than a decade, vexing two administrations.

In a 59-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman in New York offered a scathing rebuke of the 2011 decision by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to bar over-the-counter sales of the pill to girls younger than 17. Sebelius had overruled a recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration, which had found the emergency contraceptive was “safe and effective in adolescent females” and could be used properly by young women without consulting a doctor.

The judge ordered the FDA to lift the age restrictions within 30 days. The Obama administration has not said whether it will appeal the ruling.  Korman called Sebelius’s decision “politically motivated, scientifically unjustified, and contrary to agency precedent.” 

Women’s health advocates and major medical groups were quick to praise Friday’s ruling, saying it would help prevent unwanted pregnancies and remove unnecessary hurdles that often prevent teenagers from getting the pill in a timely manner. 

Meanwhile, antiabortion activists called the decision short-sighted, saying it could lead to more unprotected sex among teenagers, while also lowering the number of sexually active teens who are likely to discuss such issues with their parents or a doctor. 

Plan B is classified by the FDA as an emergency contraceptive and greatly reduces the chance of pregnancy if taken within 72 hours after intercourse. It differs from abortion drugs such as RU486, which is intended to terminate a pregnancy that already has been established.

Rather than condemning the decision, if Christianists truly want to lower abortions, they ought to be welcoming the ruling.  The fact that they are not shows that their real issue is a religious based obsession that sex is dirty, etc.  Teens will have sex no matter what  these fantasy world dwellers want to believe and the best way to prevent abortions is through better sex education and wider access to preventive measures such as Plan B.  These folks aren't really "pro-life," they are anti-sex.

Tenth Brazilian State Legalizes Gay Marriage

South America continues to demonstrate that it is becoming far more progressive and supportive of the concept of equality under the law than the United States. A tenth Brazilian state has legalized gay marriage.  Adding to the divergence from American anti-gay bigotry and inequality is the fact that ALL states in Brazil must recognize marriages that are legally performed in another state - a far cry from what we live with in backwater states like Virginia where knuckle dragging Christians continue to have their religious views trump the U. S. Constitution.  Here are highlights from On Top Magazine:

On Wednesday, Parana (South) became the tenth Brazilian state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry without the permission of a judge, the AFP reported.

While no federal law allows gay couples to marry in Brazil, the nation's Supreme Court in 2011 ruled that the government must recognize the unions of gay couples.  Soon after, gay couples in various states petitioned judges to convert their “stable unions” into full marriages, with mixed rulings.

Marriage is regulated at the federal, not state, level in Brazil. Neither the country's constitution nor its federal laws ban such unions.

According to a count by the office of Rep. Jean Wyllys, Brazil's first openly gay lawmaker, ten states out of twenty-seven now automatically convert such unions into marriage, they include: Alagoas, Bahia, Ceara, Sergipe, Espiritu Santo, Piaui, Sao Paulo, Parana, Mato Grosso do Sul and the Federal District.
 Only time will tell if America will catch up with nations that many Americans once thought of as backward banana republics.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Cindy McCain to Appear in Lance Black's Play that Supports Gay Marriage

John McCain is already on the outs with many of the Christofascists and Tea Party crowd in the Republican Party.  Now, this folks will have yet another reason to engage in a spittle fleck rant.  McCain's wife, Cindy will be acting in the play “8” written by Academy Award winner Dustin Lance Black which deals with same-sex marriage and prohibitions in Arizona, California and other states.The Phoenix Business Journal notes the play and Cindy McCain's involvement:

Cindy Hensley McCain — the wife of U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and chairwoman of the Hensley & Co. beer distribution company — is slated to appear in a play next month at the Herberger Theater in Phoenix that supports same-sex marriage.

Some other notable Arizona political, media and business names are also in the play “8” which deals with same-sex marriage and prohibitions in Arizona, California and other states. The play gets its name from California’s Proposition 8 gay marriage ban.

John McCain opposes laws allowing gay marriage, while his wife has been a vocal supporter of same-sex marriages.

Hensley is the state’s largest Anheuser-Busch distributor. Mrs. McCain took over as chair and controlling owner of the Phoenix-based company in 2000 after her father, Jim Hensley’s death. She also has commercial real estate holdings in the Valley.

The Republican senator has said in the past that he and his wife, as well as his outspoken daughter Meghan McCain, have differing views on gay marriage. Cindy and Meghan McCain appeared in “No on Prop. 8” advertisements in 2008. The measure was passed by voters but was undone by a federal court. It is one of the same-sex marriage cases recently being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Christofascist commentary should be entertaining.


Illegal Immigrants Now More Popluar than GOP

The rabid agenda of the Republican Party to denigrate and discriminate against anyone who isn't an angry white conservative Christian and preferably male continues unabated despite the navel contemplation going on among the few rational folks and non-racists left in the party.  To the GOP base, the idea of immigration reform is beyond abhorrent and is continually described as "amnesty" for law breakers.    As a piece in The Guardian - which often has better coverage of U.S. politics than many newspapers in the USA - notes, support for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants now far exceeds favorable views of the Republican Party which is a little over 30%.  Not that this political reality means anything to the rabid Christofascist/Teabagistan base of the GOP.   Here are some article highlights:

The electoral analysis of the immigration debate these days almost exclusively focuses on Latinos, which makes sense, but also misses the point. Not only do I personally think that most Latino voters won't change their voting allegiance in response to any new immigration reform, but also let's note that all Americans are shifting their views on immigration.

An overwhelmingly majority of Americans now believe that people who came to this country illegally should not be forced to leave it. In the latest CBS News poll, 74% of Americans – a record high – believe that undocumented immigrants should be allowed to apply for citizenship or stay as guest workers. That's up from 57% in mid-2011. Per a Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) survey, there isn't a single demographic group opposed to this proposal, and that includes Tea Partiers, Republicans and white people without a college degree.

More amazingly, more Americans now believe in a pathway to citizenship, rather than a guest worker program. CBS News found that a majority of Americans, 53%, are now in favor of letting immigrants stay and apply for citizenship. That percentage is way up from 37% in 2011, while the percentage of Americans who support a guest worker program has stayed steady, at about 20%.

A slim majority of Americans now believes that an immigration plan should focus on providing legal residency to people here, rather than on stopping the flow of immigrants into the country. Per CNN/ORC, the generational divide is wide. Over 60% of those under 50 put priority on integration, while those 50 and older are far more evenly split. Majorities of Democrats, independents and white people prioritize residency. 

Indeed, the attitude towards immigrants themselves has changed tremendously over the past few years. Today, 49% of Americans believe that the hard work of immigrants strengthens the country, and only 41% believe they are a burden, according to Pew.

The real problem for the Republican party is that its brand is currently in the can. With favorable numbers in the low 30s, the GOP is seen as out-of-step with Americans on many issues.

That's why you're seeing Democrats jumping out to a large lead on the House ballot for 2014. The latest Quinnipiac poll puts Democrats up by 8pt, more than enough for them to take back the House. Voters are, at this point, not willing to vote for the party that opposes what they believe in. What Republicans don't need, then, is another issue – that is, immigration – that contributes to notion that they're out-of-touch with the way most Americans feel.

Opposing immigration reform would be yet another instance of GOP "obstructionism", which is what most people see as the Republicans' biggest fault.

Will the GOP get the message and stop pandering to the racists and hate merchants in the GOP base?  Probably not.

North Carolina House Speaker Kills Bill To Create State Religion

Thankfully, there are apparently a few sane Republicans in North Carolina - at least for the time being.  As previously noted, the GOP controlled North Carolina Senate was pushing a bill that would have made Christianity the state religion in North Carolina.  Why worry about a little thing like the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution that bars the establishment of an official religion.  North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Charlotte) announced yesterday afternoon that the bill would not be receiving a vote in the full House, which effectively killed the measure for the year.  Don't be surprised if Tillis is pilloried by the Kook-Aid drinkers and Christofascists or if the measure is reintroduced in a future legislative session.  This bill showed the ultimate agenda of the Christofascists.  Here are highlights from Huffington Post on the developments yesterday:

The Republican speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives killed legislation on Thursday that aimed to establish an official state religion

House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Charlotte) announced Thursday afternoon that the bill would not be receiving a vote in the full House, effectively dropping the measure. Loretta Boniti, a reporter for News 14 Carolina, broke the news on Twitter, and it was confirmed in a breaking news alert posted on the home page of, a Raleigh-based television station. Tillis' decision followed several days of national media attention on the bill, which also said that the state government did not have to listen to federal court rulings and was exempt from the requirements of the First Amendment. 

The bill, which was drafted by state Reps. Carl Ford (R-China Grove) and Harry Warren (R-Salisbury), was intended to address an issue in Rowan County, where the ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the county commission in an attempt to block commissioners from having a Christian prayer at the beginning of meetings.

The North Carolina measure responds to the ACLU suit by declaring that each state is "sovereign" and no federal court can prevent a state from "from making laws respecting an establishment of religion."
In fact, in a series of cases stretching back nearly a century, the Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment does cover state governments. Judicial precedent has held that any such proposals on the establishment of religion must have secular, legislative purpose; cannot inhibit or advance religion; and cannot be "an excessive government entanglement with religion."

An explanation on why Tillis decided to kill the measure was not posted and a Tillis spokesman was not immediately available for comment. The media firestorm regarding the legislation comes as Tillis is considering a bid for the U.S. Senate against Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) next year. Tillis was not a co-sponsor of the bill, which originally drew 11 GOP supporters, including Tillis' deputy, Majority Leader Edgar Starnes (R-Hickory) and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Justin Burr (R-Albemarle). Three additional Republicans had signed on as co-sponsors since the bill was first introduced on Monday.

The Christofascists represent a clear and present danger to the rights of other citizens and seek nothing less than to subvert the U.S. Constitution - treason by another name.  They need to be permanently driven into the social and political wilderness.  Let's not forget other religious based evil:

Thursday, April 04, 2013

More Thursday Male Beauty

Australian Royal Commission into Church Sex Abuse Begins

If similar investigation in Ireland and parts of Europe are any guides of what to expect, the Royal Commission in Australia on child sex abuse will result in horrific reports of cover ups and active aiding and abetting of sexual predator priest across Australia.  An article in the Sydney Morning Herald looks at the Commission's launch.  Here are some highlights:

The royal commission into child sex abuse is now open for business. It expects more than 5000 submissions, has already spent more than $22 million, and is unlikely to complete its task by the end of 2015 as requested.

[T]he commission had already serviced notice to produce documents on the Catholic Church, its insurer, the Salvation Army and the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions.
Justice McClellan said one of the commission's tasks was to "bear witness" to the abuse and suffering of victims, which it did by making known what happened, including archives for posterity.

Justice McClellan reminded people that the commission would not decide compensation for victims or convict anyone, although it had established links with police in each state and territory. The police taskforce attached to the Victorian inquiry into child sex abuse has already led to three arrests, with more expected.

On the length of the inquiry, Justice McClellan said a South Australian inquiry into abuse in state institutions heard 800 witnesses and took three years, while Ireland's Ryan Inquiry took nine years. He said it was unlikely the commission could finish by 31 December 2015, but it would work hard to get as much done as possible by the interim report, due on June 30 next year, so the government could judge the commission's future course.
A second Sydney Morning Herald article was much more direct on the crimes of the Catholic Church hierarchy and the hierarchy's refusal to accept responsibility for the damage done by sexual predatorys and the Church's conspiracy to cover up abuse.  Here are excerpts:

Catholic Church leaders in Australia were contributing to the ostracism and scapegoating of child sex abuse victims, showing little leadership and little ''will to know'', the inquiry into how churches handled sex abuse has heard.

Edith Cowan University social justice professor Caroline Taylor said church leaders, as well as judges and lawyers, too readily followed misleading stereotypes that minimised child abuse.

''The greatest insurance policy offenders have is the ignorance of the community,'' Professor Taylor said on Thursday. ''I don't believe the Catholic hierarchy has changed its attitude … I haven't seen that probity and will to know, which means setting aside preconceived ideas and being open to learn. It takes courage.''

She said many priests and churchgoers were dismissive of abuse, using language such as ''there was just a bit of touching''. She heard churchgoers say ''when are these people going to stop coming forward? Why don't they show some dignity and keep silent?''

Professor Taylor said children taught to respect the authority of the church often saw offenders as a representation of God and many victims felt their abuse showed they were unloved by God. She said grooming by paedophiles was rife and predators targeted the children of very devout families.

It is probably a safe bet that newly elected Pope Francis will do little to change the policies of cover up and abetting predator priest - unless forced to do so by criminal prosecution of members of the Church hierarchy and major suits against the Church by sex abuse victims.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

McDonnell and Cuccinelli's Star Scientific "Problem" Gets More Scrutiny

As noted in previous posts, the conservatives and GOP figures who love to wrap themselves in "godliness" and piety and respect for the law seem to be always among the first to see themselves as above the law.  Two top elected officials in Virginia are currently prime examples:  Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell and Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli who both seem to think disclosure requirements and typical conflict of interest rules do not apply to them.  Both men are entwined with a Virginia based company, Star Scientific, which seems only too happy to bribed McDonnell and Cuccinelli even as it is under investigation for securities laws violations.  Star Scientific makes for a strange bed fellow for those who proclaim their support for righteousness and integrity.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the ongoing saga surrounding both of these hypocrites.  Here are excerpts:

JONNIE R. Williams Sr., chief executive of a Richmond-area company that once sold tobacco products and now peddles dietary supplements, is lionized locally as a renowned salesman — even though his firm has lost money for 10 years straight. His even greater talent seems to lie in cozying up to Virginia’s top elected Republicans and coaxing them to do his bidding.

In The Post last weekend, reporters Rosalind S. Helderman and Laura Vozzella detailed Mr. Williams’s efforts to cultivate Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, which have been repaid handsomely.    Starting when Mr. McDonnell (R) began running for governor five years ago, Mr. Williams, the chief executive of Star Scientific, has lavished him and his political action committee with gifts and services, including more than $100,000 in travel aboard his corporate jet.

For his part, Mr. McDonnell has hosted a reception at the governor’s mansion to help launch Star Scientific’s signature product, a dietary supplement of dubious scientific merit, and posed for a photograph with it; the governor’s wife, Maureen McDonnell, traveled to Florida to plug Star at a corporate event.
It’s unseemly. There’s nothing illegal or even highly unusual about corporations spending liberally to gain access to politicians. But the Williams-McDonnell symbiosis casts an unflattering light on Virginia’s anemic disclosure laws, which exempt gifts and donations of any size to a politician’s immediate family.  .  .  .  the effect is to encourage secret cash payments masquerading as “gifts” to a politician’s nearest and dearest.
The unseemly conduct doesn't stop with McDonnell.  The Post article continues with details on Cuccinelli's glaring conflicts of interest:

Ms. Helderman and Ms. Vozzella also reported that state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) failed for almost a year to disclose his stock holdings in Mr. Williams’s company even as Mr. Cuccinelli’s office was involved in litigation with it. Mr. Cuccinelli also received thousands of dollars worth of gifts and services from Mr. Williams, including use of Mr. Williams’s home in the Richmond suburbs for lodging; the use of a lake house and boat; transportation to Kentucky; and a box of dietary supplements valued at $6,700 — a miracle drug, perhaps.

Given Mr. Williams’s sustained courtship, common sense and prudence suggest that Mr. Cuccinelli should have recused his office from defending Star Scientific’s lawsuit against the state. But, as is often the case with Mr. Cuccinelli, no such common sense and prudence prevailed.

Adding to the odor surrounding all this is the fact that Star Scientific, by its own account, is under investigation by federal prosecutors in Virginia for possible securities irregularities. It’s hard to suppress the thought that Virginians will be hearing more about this story in the future.
The Daily Beast also looks at this ethical mess.  Virginia doesn't need more of this kind of sleazy conduct.

David Brooks: A Conservative's Gay-Marriage Delusion

In what can only be called a delusion column that purported that gay marriage would be a defeat for personal freedom, New York Times columnist David Brooks - with whom I usually disagree on nearly everything - adds another bizarre argument against gay marriage and suggests that gays don't know what they are asking for.  Apparently, in Brooks' world, not being able to enjoy inheritance benefits, a partner's pension benefits and social security benefits, paying more in estate taxes and a host of other negatives equates to "personal freedom."  Here's a sampling:

Recently, the balance between freedom and restraint has been thrown out of whack. People no longer even have a language to explain why freedom should sometimes be limited. The results are as predicted. A decaying social fabric, especially among the less fortunate. Decline in marriage. More children raised in unsteady homes. Higher debt levels as people spend to satisfy their cravings. 

But last week saw a setback for the forces of maximum freedom. A representative of millions of gays and lesbians went to the Supreme Court and asked the court to help put limits on their own freedom of choice. They asked for marriage. 

Marriage is one of those institutions — along with religion and military service — that restricts freedom. Marriage is about making a commitment that binds you for decades to come. It narrows your options on how you will spend your time, money and attention. 

Whether they understood it or not, the gays and lesbians represented at the court committed themselves to a certain agenda. They committed themselves to an institution that involves surrendering autonomy. 
There's more batshitery, but you get the drift.  What's especially crazy is that gays are constantly cited by the Christofascists as being promiscuous and irresponsible, yet when we as for commitment and responsibility, they work to move Heaven and Earth to block it.  A piece in The New Yorker responds to Brooks'  ridiculous argument and calls him out for what he is: a self-centered bigot who wants to control the lives of others even as he claims otherwise.  Here are some excerpts:

There have been all manner of conservative responses to the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage, from John Roberts’s sulking about gay power to Ross Douthat’s laugh-if-you-will-but-marriage-is-collapsing line to startled acceptance of gay children—or, in the case of Senator Mark Kirk, who announced his support Tuesday, the crediting of a near-death experience—to bitter rejectionism (something George Packer writes about over at Daily Comment). And then there is David Brooks, who examines the situation and is pleased to discover that gays and lesbians have quite misunderstood what they are doing—which is, in short, to prove that David Brooks is right about the world, and that they, until now, have been wrong.

Is he under the impression that the Court is being asked to order a mass shotgun wedding? Otherwise, how does he think that gaining the option to marry means having fewer choices? 

This is the musing of the prince who thinks that the pauper is so much more free than he is—so lucky to be spared your aunt’s questions about when you are going to get married. It is blind to what those questions, or the lack of them, have really meant in people’s lives, as if there was no pain or reflection or growing old, no days when someone was turned away from visiting a hospital room. Brooks treats gays and lesbians, en masse, like hedonistic teenagers who he’s pleased to see have just grown up.

Brooks sees the bathhouses as if there were never raids on them, or as if gays and lesbians had all chosen anonymous settings over the option of holding hands while walking on the street just because they liked dark rooms better. The discovery that even in the most oppressive of circumstances one can create spaces where love survives does say a great deal about the indomitable search for freedom, but to call it freedom’s apotheosis is just absurd. 
If freedom “loses one” when gays and lesbians get to marry—and remember, it’s still only legal in nine states—one wonders what sort of developments would merit a Brooks column entitled “FREEDOM WINS ONE.”  .  .  .  .  Was Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the DOMA case, more free when she couldn’t tell her coworkers she was engaged without losing her job—I.B.M., her employer, was, at the time, subject to an executive order that kept federal contractors from hiring gays and lesbians as “security risks”—or the day she finally got married? He also misses a crucial point about marriage in a free country: that one of its functions is creating a space where freedom is fostered,  .  .  .  
Brooks needs to open his eyes and get his head out of his ass.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

More Wednesday Male Beauty

North Carolina GOP Bill Would Make Christianity the Official State Religion

If one wants serious proof that today's GOP has become a sectarian party that seeks to over throw the United States Constitution look no farther than North Carolina where the North Carolina GOP wants to make Christianity the official state religion.  These folks must be drinking the same Kool-Aid as Ken Cuccinelli and his puppeteers at the heinous coven of would be traitors at The Family Foundation.   Don't believe me?  Then check out a story at WRAL that looks at this unconstitutional effort.  Here are some story highlights:

A resolution filed by Republican lawmakers would allow North Carolina to declare an official religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Bill of Rights, and seeks to nullify any federal ruling against Christian prayer by public bodies statewide.

The resolution grew out of a dispute between the American Civil Liberties Union and the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. In a federal lawsuit filed last month, the ACLU says the board has opened 97 percent of its meetings since 2007 with explicitly Christian prayers.

Overtly Christian prayers at government meetings are not rare in North Carolina. Since the Republican takeover in 2011, the state Senate chaplain has offered an explicitly Christian invocation virtually every day of session, despite the fact that some senators are not Christian.

In a 2011 ruling on a similar lawsuit against the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not ban prayer at government meetings outright, but said prayers favoring one religion over another are unconstitutional.

House Joint Resolution 494, filed by Republican Rowan County Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford, would refuse to acknowledge the force of any judicial ruling on prayer in North Carolina – or indeed on any Constitutional topic:

"The Constitution of the United States does not grant the federal government and does not grant the federal courts the power to determine what is or is not constitutional; therefore, by virtue of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the power to determine constitutionality and the proper interpretation and proper application of the Constitution is reserved to the states and to the people," the resolution states.
"Each state in the union is sovereign and may independently determine how that state may make laws respecting an establishment of religion," it states.
Eleven House Republicans have signed on to sponsor the resolution, including Majority Leader Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, and Budget Chairman Justin Burr, R-Stanly.

Sadly, too many people do not want to believe just how extreme and anti-constitutional government the GOP has become.  The goal of the Christofascist  base is nothing less that an over throw of the United States Constitution and the implementation of a Christofascist theocracy.    These people are down right scary.

Cuccinelli Seeks Refersal of 4th Circuit Ruling Striking Down Virginia's Sodomy Statute

Two things are always a constant with GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli:  (1) He will contest any law or court ruling that he doesn't like, and (2) he will always do the bidding of the Christofascists who seek to impose their hate and fear based version of morality on all citizens.  By filing a petition for hearing en banc challenging the ruling by the U. S. Court of Appeals for the  4th Circuit, Cuccinelli is holding true to both of these constants.   First, by filing a petition for rehearing en banc, Cuccinelli is furious with the Court's striking down of the botched prosecution of William Scott MacDonald based on Virginia's sodomy statute - which makes anal and oral sex between people of any sex and any age a crime.  Second, he is being true to the Christofascists who find any form of sex other than the so-called missionary position between individuals of the opposite sex abhorrent and sinful.  Especially if the individuals involved enjoy it.

For background, in 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas struck down Texas' sodomy statute and by extension Virginia's sodomy statue a/k/a crimes against nature, statute as well.  During the 2004 session of the Virginia General Assembly an effort was made to amend the Virginia statute in light of the ruling in Lawrence.  As Think Progress reports, leading the charge against amending the bill was Kookinelli Cuccinelliwho  opposed the bill in committee and helped kill it on the Senate floor. Indeed, in 2009, he told a newspaper that he supported restrictions on the sexual behavior of consenting adults: 

“My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that. … They don’t comport with natural law.” As a result, the law’s text remains unchanged a decade after the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Four years later, Kookinelli still wants to restrict the conduct of consenting adults and in his petition argues a great deal of legal minutia rather than admit that MacDonald could have been and should have been prosecuted under a different Virginia statute.  The only reason the sodomy statute was used was because it carried harsher penalties.   Now, despite the botched prosecution of MacDonald who solicited sex with a 17 year old of the opposite gender, wants the 4th Circuit to reverse itself and uphold the sodomy statute despite the ruling in Lawrence.  BuzzFeed has this summary:
Although most people think sodomy laws have been unconstitutional since the Supreme Court's 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli would like to explain why — in his view — that's not so.

What's more, he wants the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to agree with him and uphold the constitutionality of Virginia's sodomy law — which makes anal and oral sex between people of any sex a crime — in the process.

Cuccinelli last week asked the full appellate court to reverse a three-judge panel's decision and uphold the application of the law in a criminal prosecution against William Scott MacDonald .  .  .  . 

In considering Cuccinelli's argument, the [three member panel] appeals court discussed the various ways courts attempt to "save" statutes from being found unconstitutional by interpreting them narrowly but also noted that the Supreme Court has warned about "the dangers of too much meddling" because that would mean the judicial branch has taken over the role of the legislative branch. New laws can be passed in certain situations that might be constitutional even where a previous law cannot be "saved."

The court concluded that Virginia's sodomy law after the Lawrence decision is such a law, writing, "We are confident, however, that we adhere to the Supreme Court's holding in Lawrence by concluding that the anti-sodomy provision, prohibiting sodomy between two persons without any qualification, is facially unconstitutional." 

Because they found it to be facially unconstitutional, that means it is unconstitutional in all situations and could not be used to convict MacDonald of the solicitation crime.

Cuccinelli writes that "a reasonable state court could conclude that Lawrence did not wholly invalidate Virginia's sodomy statute."
Of course Cuccinelli ignores the challenge of finding a "reasonable state court" that would not agree with him given the manner in which the GOP controlled General Assembly has packed the state courts in most instances with far right judges.

Compounding the circus like aspects of the petition for rehearing is the fact that even if Cuccinelli succeeds, the cost in time and money to Virginia will be huge.  More significantly, it all could have been avoided had Cuccinelli and his fellow puppets of the Family Foundation in the GOP majority in the General Assembly not deliberately ignored the Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas. 

A second irony is that I can only think that Terry McAuliffe and the Democrats are clinking champagne glass at Cuccinelli's batshitery.   If they wanted help painting Cuccinelli as the extremist that he is in fact, they could not have picked a better example than this petition for rehearing en banc.  It may play well among the Christofascists and the inhabitants of Teabagistan, but rational voters will likely be appalled.

For a final irony is that studies at the University of Georgia confirmed that the most vociferous homophobes are the ones most aroused by gay porn.  Given Kookinelli's hysterical homophobia and the as yet undocumented claims that he may be another Ed Schrock, perhaps his fixation on the sodomy statute tells us something else.  As for those unconfirmed reports, if anyone is willing to bring forth witnesses willing to provide credible information and sworn statements against Cuccinelli, please come forward.  Nothing would give me more pleasure in taking Cuccinelli down the way Ed Schrock was taken down as a closeted hypocrite.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Star Scientific Ensnares Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli in Ethics Questions

No one pretends to be more squeaky clean on ethical issues than conservative politicians and the "godly Christian" crowd.   Yet, time and time again, reality proves that things are very different from what these folks claim in all their prancing false piety.  Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell and Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli are cases in point as more information comes out about their cozy relationship with Star Scientific, a Virginia based company now focusing its efforts on supplements, that has been most generous to McDonnell and in which Cuccinelli has focused all of his investments.  Star Scientific is engaged in litigation with the Commonwealth of Virginia and Cuccinelli's refusal to get outside counsel raises very real conflict of interest issues as noted previously on this blog.  For McDonnell - who made national news last night - the Star Scientific saga is even messier.  A column in the Richmond Times Dispatch looks at the situation. Here are excerpts:

Bob McDonnell, the earnest-sounding kid from Fairfax County, is governor of Virginia, an office to which he vowed to bring the sensibilities of his middle-class upbringing. That included ethical straightforwardness. McDonnell is veering from it — again.

This time — as with last time and before that — McDonnell is tripping up over money. Again, it’s someone else’s. Again, it’s a large amount. Again, it’s perceived as having strings attached. Again, it’s explained away as much ado about nothing.

The latest: $15,000 from the politically active boss of Henrico County-based Star Scientific, Jonnie Williams Sr. The money paid for dinner at the Executive Mansion for about 200 guests at the 2011 wedding of McDonnell’s daughter, Cailin, to Chris Young.

The money, first reported by The Washington Post, was never disclosed by McDonnell because it was not a gift to him, the governor’s office said. Rather, it was for Cailin, who — unlike the governor — is not required by state law to provide an annual inventory of gifts, be it travel, entertainment or tchotchkes.

There are few requirements on disclosures by relatives. Officials must report investments and other holdings shared with members of their immediate family. They also must report paid positions, such as jobs and directorships, held by a spouse or child.

In addition to unnecessarily casting a pall over a joyous occasion, this episode of administration dissembling calls attention to Virginia’s porous ethics law. It relies almost entirely on self-policing, requiring elective and appointive officials and candidates to, in effect, tell on themselves.

Star Scientific has, over the past four years, supplied McDonnell and his political action committee with $108,500 in travel on the company jet, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. The firm and Williams have given McDonnell more than $9,600 in food, lodging and entertainment since 2011.

As a regulated venture, Star Scientific has issues not with the state government but with the federal government; specifically, an inquiry by the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia into the company’s stock transactions.

However, Star Scientific — much as other companies do in a state where the business of government is business — looked to Richmond for help. McDonnell played host at the Executive Mansion for the launch of a Star Scientific dietary supplement. First lady Maureen McDonnell talked up the product at an investors conference in Florida.
 The cozy relationship between Star Scientific and McDonnell is not an isolated example, especially of the headaches such entanglements have caused him.
This is a throwback to Old Virginia, when government was largely the purview of a privileged, well-mannered few — an “affluent minority,” as Times-Dispatch political reporter Jim Latimer put it. There were almost no official rules because gentlemen didn’t need them to know how to behave.

There's more, but you get the drift.

Conservative Columnist: Far Right Has Lost the Gay Marriage War

Kurt Schlichter is a conservative columnists who was personally recruited by Andrew Breitbart and since 2009  has been frequently published on the web sites.  In short, he is anything but a moderate much less a liberal.  Yet Schlichter has a piece on the often lunatic fringe that says that regardless of how the Supreme Court rules in Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor, the battle against gay marriage has been lost by the Christofascists and their allied forces of hate and bigotry.   He advises the gay haters to move on.  Naturally, such words are heresy to the professional Christian crowd and "family values" organizations that utilize anti-gay animus as a major fundraising tool.  So what does Schlichter suggest?  Change to a new target for the focus of angry white Christian hate and enmity: immigrants.  Here are highlights from his column:

As a lawyer, I sometimes have to deliver news that clients don’t want to hear. Here’s some for conservatives. The gay marriage fight is over. It is here to stay, and conservatives – whether for it, against it or just tired of hearing about it – need to coolly and dispassionately figure out just how we are going to win going forward. 

This is not a judgment about its pros and cons. We’re past that. None of it matters anymore. This is about dealing with reality. Whether the fight ends with a Constitution-twisting Supreme Court ruling or after years or decades as the states adopt it one by one, it’s a done deal. And even if you aren’t yet ready to accept that it’s lost you still need to prepare for that contingency.
The question is, “What do we conservatives do next?”

Well, we don’t get depressed if we opposed it, and if we didn’t we don’t disrespect our social conservative allies over it. We get ready for the next battle, together. The amnesty fight is coming, and we need to be ready.

It’s fair to ask why I assess this fight as lost. Understand that an objective assessment of the situation is not some sort of “surrender,” or “rolling over” or any kind of capitulation. Maybe my experience as a lawyer (and as a soldier) got me used to dealing with reality as I find it, not as I might wish it to be. You assess the situation, your resources, your opponents, and you make a cold calculation as to what’s most likely to happen next. Here’s mine.

Don’t discount the Supreme Court’s liberal wing’s willingness to impose its Ivy League values on flyover America. For the traditional marriage side, the SCOTUS cases’ best case looks like a punt.  .  .  .

Polling shows the American people are shifting substantially on the issue. That’s reality, and many of those shifting people are conservatives. Most young people, including most conservative young people, favor it. Hell, Dick Cheney supports it. There is no coming majority that will someday reverse course, and there are no states that will ever undo gay marriage after creating it. It ain’t happening.

The argument that gay marriage will destroy traditional marriage is very tough to make when Americans have seen gays getting married for a while and…nothing happened. The military experienced a microcosm of that phenomenon with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It got repealed and … pretty much nothing happened. Moreover, it’s obvious that gays would have to work overtime to compete with heterosexuals at screwing up the institution of marriage. 

When Mike Huckabee spouted off about evangelicals ditching the GOP if it lost the fight on gay marriage, Obama and his crew probably clinked champagne flutes. Social conservatives, do you really want the liberals unrestrained and unchecked because they retook the House in 2014? Don’t imagine they’ll ever leave you alone, unmolested and free. 

One can just imagine the spittle flying at the offices of NOM, FRC and other anti-gay hate groups as the self-enriching hate merchants read Schlichter's column.  It's delicious to envision.

NYT: Courts Should Not Wait to Protect Fundamental Rights

Can you imagine the out cry if the rights of Christians, Jews, immigrants from  specific countries, blacks and other minorities were suddenly put up for a public vote or a Supreme Court justice said that in protecting the rights of such groups the Court should take a "go slow" approach?  Yet this is precisely what is done to LGBT Americans over and over again and even one of the Supreme Courts :liberal justices" suggested that the Court might be wise to go slow on extending gay marriage rights.  It's, of course, easy for someone not subjected to legalized bigotry and discrimination to take such a view.   What's shocking, however, is that the liberal justice is Ruth Bader Ginsberg who is Jewish.  One would think that Ginsberg of all people would grasp the wrongheadedness of allowing the majority to decide what rights a minority will be allowed to have.  The New York Times blasts this "go slow" approach in a main editorial  Here are excerpts:

With two same-sex marriage cases before the Supreme Court, numerous commentators have latched on to remarks by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg critical of the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. It is not the judgment that was wrong, but “it moved too far, too fast,” she said at Columbia Law School last year, a view she has expressed in various speeches and law review articles. As one of the court’s moderate liberals and a champion of women’s rights, she is now being routinely cited to argue for a timid resolution on the issue of same-sex marriage that would strike down California’s ban on such marriages, but would leave prohibitions standing in about 40 other states.

How Justice Ginsburg will vote on same-sex marriage is unknown. But her comments misread the legal and political landscape at the time of the Roe decision and have been used to bolster the inaccurate notion that the court’s ruling on abortion rights somehow short-circuited a political process that was moving in the states to end criminalization of abortion.  

The real story, as explained by Linda Greenhouse, a former New York Times reporter who now teaches at Yale Law School, and Reva Siegel, a professor there, is that political conflict over abortion was escalating before the Roe decision, and that state progress on decriminalization had reached a standstill in the face of opposition from the Roman Catholic Church.

Had the Supreme Court waited for the states to move, women in a large portion of the country would still be denied the fundamental right to make their own childbearing decisions. 

The claim that the court invited a backlash by getting too far ahead of public opinion does not hold. At the time of the ruling, a Gallup poll showed a substantial majority of Americans favored letting the abortion decision be made “solely by a woman and her physician,” with more Republicans than Democrats in favor.

There is bound to be conflict and opposition when minorities pursue their rights, whether legislatively, in the voting booth or in the courts. But fear of an angry reaction from some groups cannot be the reason to deny people basic rights. As for Roe v. Wade, Ms. Greenhouse and Ms. Siegel persuasively conclude that the political polarization around abortion owes more to political realignment and the vehemence and perseverance of abortion opponents than general public anger at the court’s ruling, which was grounded in a constitutional right to privacy that flowed naturally from a line of previous decisions.  .  .  .  . The so-called backlash was a political creation that was cultivated and nourished. 

This may seem like ancient history. But there is a danger now that overblown fears of a backlash based on a false reading of politics before and after Roe v. Wade could lead the Supreme Court to shy from doing as it should — enforcing equal protection by declaring same-sex marriage a constitutionally protected right in every state.
I for one am tired of having my rights subject to the approval of a bigoted  minority of Christofascists who through lies and untruths dupe a majority into enshrining Christofascist beliefs into the civil laws.  If my rights are to be subjected to such votes, lets apply the same rule to every minority and let the shrieks and screaming begin.  Otherwise, the Times is right, the Court needs to strike down all state bans on gay marriage.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Is Hillary Clinton Running in 2016?

There is a lot of speculation as to whether or not Hillary Clinton is running for president in 2016.   Nonetheless, initial polls show Hillary trouncing would be GOP nominees.  Moreover, as USA Today reports, a super pac is forming to help finance a Clinton presidential run in 2016.  Here are some article excerpts:

Super PAC? Check. Website? Check. Hillary Rodham Clinton declaring her candidacy for president? Not yet, but some of her former supporters and campaign staffers are ready and waiting. 

The Ready for Hillary super PAC launched its website Tuesday, declaring itself set to go in case the former secretary of State wants to jump into the 2016 presidential race. Clinton, who lost the 2008 Democratic nomination to Barack Obama, left the Cabinet post about two months ago.

"We are going to keep up the energy and excitement surrounding her potential candidacy," said Allida Black, the PAC's chairwoman and a supporter of Clinton's 2008 campaign. "To succeed we need to start building an extensive field program -- getting neighbors talking to neighbors, organizing on college campuses, and putting together the winning team of supporters that will help Hillary win in 2016."

The super PAC launched in late January and says it now has more than 100,000 supporters. Veterans of Clinton's campaign, including Ready for Hillary executive director Adam Parkhomenko and spokesman Seth Bringman, are also on board as staff. Black campaigned for Clinton in 14 states in 2008.

[E]arly public opinion polls already show support for Clinton. A Quinnipiac Poll released last month showed Clinton would lead Republicans such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan by strong double digits. 

Clinton has not discussed her political future, but her recent declaration in support of same-sex marriage was viewed by some political observers as a sign she may be a presidential candidate in 2016.   There are two other groups that have filed papers with the Federal Election Commission in support of Clinton for president, but they are not at the same stage as Ready for Hillary.
Should Hillary be the Democrat nominee against yet another reactionary Republican, it goes without saying that she will have my vote.  I'm not a single issue voter as former GOP compatriots try to paint me.  I simply cannot support a party and its nominees who cannot grasp the concept of separation of church and state.

Gay Flight: Should Anti-gay States Begin to Worry?

In its quest to prostitute itself the the Christofascists - e.g., here in Virginia the hate merchants at The Family Foundation - the Republican Party has time and time again shown itself only too willing to indulge in horrific gay bashing and a willingness to work to keep gays as a modern day equivalent of blacks under the Jim Crow laws.  However, as additional states and countries embrace LGBT rights and full gay marriage, LGBT citizens who are treated as lepers in their home states and countries have a growing number of options in terms of places where they can emigrate to where they will be granted equal rights with all other citizens.  If these LGBT individuals do choose to leave, their states will find that they will reap a negative consequence.  As I have noted many times before, if circumstances were different, I'd leave Virginia in a heartbeat and shake the dust off of my shoes as I crossed the border.  The Huffington Post looks at the phenomenon including at least one high profile LGBT individual who may be ready to move in order to be treated as an equal citizen.   Here are highlights:
If the Supreme Court decides to leave marriage equality up to the states to decide, will gay couples be concentrated in a few select states while the rest of the U.S. languishes behind in civil rights?   Suze Orman, the financial planning guru, TV host, and HuffPost blogger who lives with her lesbian partner in Fort Lauderdale, recently threatened to take her riches to another state where her relationship is recognized.

"Currently I am a resident of Florida … and I have substantial wealth and I pay substantial taxes," Orman said on MSNBC's "Now With Alex Wagner."  "I would be more than happy to move to New York or California if I could get married and be recognized on a federal level," she continued. "Because I want to live in a state that validates me, and I would validate them with my money."

"I am hoping, wishing and praying that DOMA is overturned," Orman said on her own show. "Obviously I have a lot at stake here. I have been gay my whole entire life. I've been in a relationship with KT for 12 years. And I want enjoy the same benefits as everybody else. I want to feel valid 100 percent of the time."

Florida might be a tad closer to making couples like Suze and KT feel at home.  The state's 2013 legislation session includes a bill finally granting civil rights protections against discrimination for reasons of sexual orientation and gender identity, and another that will create a statewide domestic partnership registry.
Gays are the harbinger of cities and states that will be attractive to the so-called "creative class."  If gays pack up and leave states like Florida (and Virginia) the message is clear:  Anyone deemed "other" is unwelcomed.  And other states and cities that accept diversity will be  only too happy to put down the welcome mat for refugees seeking to escape hate and bigotry.

Two More U. S. Senators Embrace Gay Marriage, Including GOP Senator Mark Kirk

The spittle will be flying in sheets in conservative circles in  backward areas of the states of Illinois and Delaware now that Delaware U.S. Senator Tom Carper and GOP Illinois Senator Mark Kirk have both endorsed full gay marriage.  Here is what Carper said on his Facebook page:

As our society has changed and evolved, so too has the public's opinion on gay marriage – and so has mine. I pray every day for God to grant me the wisdom to do what is right. Through my prayers and conversations with my family and countless friends and Delawareans, I've been reminded of the power of one of my core values: the Golden Rule. It calls on us to treat others as we want to be treated. That means, to me, that all Americans ultimately should be free to marry the people they love and intend to share their lives with, regardless of their sexual orientation, and that's why today, after a great deal of soul searching, I'm endorsing marriage equality.
More significant was Senator Mark Kirk's announcement which will cause the Bible beaters in the GOP base to go berserk.  BuzzFeed has deatils.  Here are excerpts:

Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk came out in support of marriage equality Tuesday shortly after the Supreme Court heard two potentially historic cases on gay rights.  "When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others," Kirk wrote on his blog.

"Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Our time on this earth is limited, I know that better than most. Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back-- government has no place in the middle."

Kirk is the second sitting Republican Senator to endorse marriage equality, following Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman last month.

The state senate in Illinois recently voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in the state in a vote on Valentine's Day. Lawmakers in Illinois did not call the matter for a vote before they adjourned for their spring break.

Kirk supported Illinois Republican party chairman Pat Brady when attempts were made to oust him after he announced his public support for the bill to allow gay marriage in Illinois.
 It will be interesting to await the reactions of the hate merchants of the "family values" crowd and the rabid elements of the Tea Party.