Saturday, June 22, 2013

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Bob McDonnell Probe Finds Tens of Thousands of Dollars of Undisclosed Items

Ken Cuccinelli isn't the only corrupt GOP politician in Virginia.  As the Washington Post reports, a federal investigation into gifts to Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell and his family reveals that the McDonnells were lined up like pigs at a trough scarfing up tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts that were conveniently not disclosed as required by Virginia law.  Combined with Cuccinelli's office assisting a big campaign donor in private, civil litigation, the picture is one of widespread corruption at the highest levels of Virginia government.  Here are highlights from the Post story:

Federal authorities are asking Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s associates about previously undisclosed gifts given by a campaign donor to McDonnell’s wife that total tens of thousands of dollars and include money and expensive designer clothing, according to people familiar with the inquiry.

The questions are part of broad federal and state investigations into gifts to the governor and his family and whether McDonnell (R) took official action on behalf of anyone who gave gifts, people with knowledge of the investigation have said.

But the people with knowledge of the inquiry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation, say the scope is wider than just the wedding gift. The value and nature of additional gifts from Williams, including money provided in several checks, suggest that authorities are exploring a more extensive relationship between Williams and the McDonnells than previously revealed.

Additionally, famed Virginia socialite Patricia Kluge, who was one of the state’s wealthiest women before a dramatic and public crash during the recession, has been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury to answer questions related to the McDonnells, according to people who are familiar with her summons.  It is not clear what testimony authorities will seek from Kluge, who owned a winery and vast estate near Charlottesville before losing both in the economic downturn.

As public scrutiny of his relationship with Williams has mounted, McDonnell has declined to provide a full accounting of other gifts Williams provided to members of the McDonnell family.
A local prosecutor in Richmond is conducting a parallel investigation to the federal probe to determine whether McDonnell complied with state law in his annual financial filings.

That investigation could explore whether the governor received enough benefit from gifts given to his wife — particularly loans or gifts of money — that he should have considered them gifts to himself as well.

Federal authorities are exploring whether McDonnell performed official acts to boost the company in exchange for gifts from Williams, people familiar with the inquiry have said.

It would seem that McDonnell's aspirations for national office are going to be toast.

Democrats Launch Attack Ad Against Cuccinelli

This blog has looked at the highly unusual and unexplained situation where a staff attorney of the Virginia Attorney General's office was offering legal assistance and advise to two energy companies being sued by Virginia residents for allegedly cheating them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in gas royalties.  The litigation is private litigation and does not involve the Commonwealth of Virginia or any state agencies.  Hence, there is no outward reason for the AG office's involvement.  Or is there? One of the energy company is an affiliate of a company that donated over $114,000 to Ken Cuccinelli's gubernatorial campaign.  Quite appropriately, the Democrat National Committee is running an ad asking that this matter be investigated.  The ad is above.

As noted before, I am well acquainted with the oil and gas industry and was with a large law firm with an extensive oil and gas practice and worked on lease litigation and royalty disputes.  I also was in-house counsel for a large oil company.  I know of nothing from this background that would justify the Attorney General's office being involved in a private lawsuit over leases and royalty payments.  Absolutely nothing.   Nothing that is other than a pay back to a large campaign contributor.  Cuccinelli is a menace and must be defeated in November.   

Is the NSA's Surveillance Unconstitutional?

As noted before, I do not like the growing police state tendencies in America as most recently revealed in the NSA's sweeping surveillance operations that despite claims to the contrary to pull American citizens into the web of communications being monitored and in some cases being turned over to other police and law enforcement agencies.  I am all for stopping terrorists, but when American citizens are subject to the same levels of surveillance as on finds in China, Russia and Iran, something seriously wrong has happened to freedom in this country.  A column in the Washington Post looks at why the NSA surveillance of Americans is likely unconstitutional.  Here are excerpts:
The National Security Agency’s recently revealed surveillance programs undermine the purpose of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was established to prevent this kind of overreach. They violate the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure. And they underscore the dangers of growing executive power.
 The intelligence community has a history of overreaching in the name of national security. In the mid-1970s, it came to light that, since the 1940s, the NSA had been collecting international telegraphic traffic from companies, in the process obtaining millions of Americans’ telegrams that were unrelated to foreign targets. From 1940 to 1973, the CIA and the FBI engaged in covert mail-opening programs that violated laws prohibiting the interception or opening of mail. The agencies also conducted warrantless “surreptitious entries,” breaking into targets’ offices and homes to photocopy or steal business records and personal documents. The Army Security Agency intercepted domestic radio communications. And the Army’s CONUS program placed more than 100,000 people under surveillance, including lawmakers and civil rights leaders.
Congress passed the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to limit sweeping collection of intelligence and create rigorous oversight. But 35 years later, the NSA is using this law and its subsequent amendments as legal grounds to run even more invasive programs than those that gave rise to the statute.
We’ve learned that in April, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) ordered Verizon to provide information on calls made by each subscriber over a three-month period. Over the past seven years, similar orders have been served continuously on AT&T, Sprint and other telecommunications providers.

Another program, PRISM, disclosed by the Guardian and The Washington Post, allows the NSA and the FBI to obtain online data including e-mails, photographs, documents and connection logs. The information that can be assembledabout any one person — much less organizations, social networks and entire communities — is staggering: What we do, think and believe.

To the extent that the FISC sanctioned PRISM, it may be consistent with the law. But it is disingenuous to suggest that millions of Americans’ e-mails, photographs and documents are “incidental” to an investigation targeting foreigners overseas.
Under section 215 of the Patriot Act, the government no longer has to prove that the target is a foreign power. It need only state that the records are sought as part of an investigation to protect against terrorism or clandestine intelligence.
How can every call that every American makes or receives be relevant to a specific investigation?”
As a constitutional matter, the Supreme Court has long held that, where an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy, search and seizure may occur only once the government has obtained a warrant, supported by probable cause and issued by a judge. The warrant must specify the places to be searched and items to be seized.

[T]he Supreme Court has held that the Fourth Amendment does not protect foreigners from searches conducted abroad. But it has never recognized a foreign intelligence exception to the warrant requirement when foreign-targeted searches result in the collection of vast stores of citizens’ communications.  Americans reasonably expect that their movements, communications and decisions will not be recorded and analyzed by the government.

The FISC is supposed to operate as a check. But it is a secret court, notorious for its low rate of denial. From 1979 to 2002, it did not reject a single application. Over the past five years, out of nearly 8,600 applications, only two have been denied.

Liberal or conservative, Americans who value freedom ought to be very concerned about what is happening in the name of national security.  I suspect these concerns are what motivate Edward Snowden to release the information that he did. 

Christianists Vow To Defy Supreme Court If It Rules For Marriage Equality

It yet another display that they believe themselves to be above the civil laws and that their rights should trump those of everyone else, some 200 Christofascists are vowing to defy the rulings of the U. S. Supreme Court should it hand down decisions supportive of gay marriage.  With the Christofascists, it is always first and last all about them and their demand that they have the unfettered right to mistreat and discriminate against others of differing beliefs, and all too often, different skin colors.  The Christofascists have truly made Christianity into something ugly and contrary to the principles of the Founding Fathers.  Think Progress looks at this mindset which is akin to that of the hardcore segregationists who sought to defy Supreme Court rulings in the 1950's and 1960's.  The list of those issuing the threat comprises a who's who of hate group leaders and far right Republicans.  Here are article excerpts:

Drawing what they called a line “we cannot and will not cross,” more than 200 conservative activists released a letter Thursday vowing to ignore any U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples. The signers include prominent anti-LGBT activists and major figures from the national conservative movement.
Circulated by Liberty Counsel Action chairman Mat Staver and Common Good Alliance chairman Deacon Keith Fournier, under the banner of the equally ironically named Freedom Federation, the statement bore the title, “We Stand in Solidarity to Defend Marriage and the Family and Society Founded Upon Them.” After arguing that same-sex marriage goes against “natural moral law,” the signers claim that the Supreme Court has “no authority to redefine marriage,” writing:
As the Supreme Court acknowledged in the 1992 decision of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, its power rests solely upon the legitimacy of its decisions in the eyes of the people. If the Supreme Court were to issue a decision that redefined marriage or provided a precedent on which to build an argument to redefine marriage, the Supreme Court will thereby undermine its legitimacy. The Court will significantly decrease its credibility and impair the role it has assumed for itself as a moral authority. It will be acting beyond its proper constitutional role and contrary to the Natural Moral Law which transcends religions, culture, and time.

Worse, the letter ends with a clear threat that conservatives will refuse to comply with any court ruling in support of marriage equality: “[M]ake no mistake about our resolve. While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the true common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross.”

In addition to designated hate group leaders like Family Research Council president Tony Perkins and Traditional Values Coalition chairman Rev. Louis Sheldon, the list included Tea Party activist Ben Carson, Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern (R), former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R), former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer, . . . . , Focus on the Family founder Rev. James Dobson, birther Joseph Farah, and disgraced Abramoff scandal figure Ralph Reed.

Friday, June 21, 2013

More Friday Male Beauty

More Outings of Closeted Gay GOP Members of Congress Coming?

I hold closeted gay elected officials who cast anti-gay votes in Congress in almost as low esteem as I do "ex-gay" charlatans who work to keep the "ex-gay" myth alive and cause untold torment and suicides in the process.  Some argue against outing elected officials whining that coming out or not is the closeted individuals decision.  I'm sorry, but these people are casting votes that harm my personal life and discriminate against me and other gays.  If the closet case cause harm to others by their votes, then in my book they have placed a huge target on their backs.  My blogger friend Mike Rogers holds similar views to mine and we worked together (I first tipped off Rogers about Schrock) to expose the hypocrisy of former Virginia GOP Congressman Ed Schrock (pictured above) who had a virulently anti-gay voting record in Congress.  Now, Rogers says he has his sights on other closet cases.  Here are details from U.S. News:

Michael Rogers, a blogger who gained fame in the early 2000s by revealing the sexual orientation of prominent politicians, has largely been dormant since President Barack Obama took office. But Rogers tells U.S. News he's gathering evidence for what could be another big revelation.

Rogers sees himself as a reporter focused on political hypocrisy, and to establish his credibility he points to a track record of accuracy and the fact that he's never been sued.

"There's a big difference between outing and reporting. I'm a reporter, I report on hypocrisy," Rogers told U.S. News. "If I have one case that's off, I'm out of the business, [but] I will never be sued for what I do because I'm right."

The blogger said he currently knows of three "anti-gay" members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are themselves gay. Rogers refused to say when he might disclose information on these members or what might provoke such a revelation, maintaining that as a journalist he holds some cards close to the vest.

But Rogers said he's about to get his hands on concrete evidence that one "anti-gay" member of the House of Representatives engages in gay sex. "Oh, it's going to happen because it has been happening for a long time," he said.

The blogger's most high-profile triumphs include the 2004 revelation that then Rep. Ed Schrock, R-Va., was leaving voicemails on a gay hook-up service, prompting the two-term congressman to retire. In October 2006 he wrote that three men informed him they had sex with then Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, in bathrooms at Union Station. Before making his allegations against Craig public, two of his three sources signed affidavits saying they would come forward if Rogers was taken to court.

In August 2007 the political and comedic worlds went wild with news that Craig had quietly pleaded guilty to charges for allegedly soliciting sex from an undercover cop in a Minnesota airport's restroom. Rogers said he was "vindicated 500 percent" after Craig's arrest was made public.

Hypocrites need to be exposed.  I have no sympathy for them.  I was in the closet for many years, but I never actively worked to harm other gays.   Towleroad also has coverage and the comments are great - I love the speculation about Eric Cantor.  Ken Cuccinelli is another one that I'd like to see outed.

Quote of the Day - An "Ex-Gay" Survivor

I am extremely critical of conservative Christians because, in my view, most of them do not give damn about others.  Rather, it is all about these pious folks feeling good about themselves and destroying anyone and anything that challenges their simplistic beliefs and, God forbid, makes them have to think for themselves.  These "godly" folk destroy lives on a daily basis through the hate and poison they market.  They make the Biblical Pharisees look like nice folks.  Andrew Sullivan has a quote from a survivor of "ex-gay" therapy, one of the many heinous things the Christofascists would force on all gays:

Allow me a small victory dance. Thirty years ago this month I attempted suicide. I was 23 and had just finished a year of horrendous reparative therapy (including aversion therapy). Five years before that my first love killed himself because he couldn’t bear to have people know who he was. I went to my church leader, who subscribed to Exodus views, and he sent me to the hell that was reparative therapy. After a year of that, I was sure my church hated me my and family hated me, but most importantly, God hated me. The only solution was to end a life that was even despised by a loving God. I will not go into details of that attempt, but obviously I made it through. Many more have not.
In fact, I spent the ensuing three decades battling the demons forced on my by reparative therapy – and I won.
It was a decades-long battle, both personally and as a community, one that saw many lives destroyed. I am giving a victory cheer today for all my compatriots who didn’t make it to see this day. Their suffering has been repented of by the perpetrators. I am giving a small victory cheer for all the future young men and women who might not have to go through that hell because this organization will not exist any longer.
 The proponents of the e-gay myth and reparative therapy literally have blood on their hands.  Huffington Post has a series of articles that looks at the deaths caused by anti-gay propaganda and bullying here. Lives ruined and/or lost.  For what?  So some intellectually lazy individuals and bigots could engage in smug, self-congratulatory feigned piety?  Good riddance to Exodus International.

A Founding Father's Take on Religion - And Today's Christian Right

David Barton and other crackpots within the Christofascist circles continue to disseminate the myth that the United States was founded as a "Christian nation."  Like most of what comes out of the mouths of these folks it is a blatant lie that seeks to take advantage of the ignorance of accurate history which is so pervasive within the American public.  This bog has noted before the Founding Fathers' pointed suspicion of religion and the fact that most could best be described as deists - e.g., Thomas Jefferson.  Civil Commotion makes note of James Madison’s Memorial And Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments.  Here is a pertinent quote:

The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him.

Because experience witnesseth that eccelsiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution. Enquire of the Teachers of Christianity for the ages in which it appeared in its greatest lustre; those of every sect, point to the ages prior to its incorporation with Civil policy. Propose a restoration of this primitive State in which its Teachers depended on the voluntary rewards of their flocks, many of them predict its downfall. On which Side ought their testimony to have greatest weight, when for or when against their interest?
These views sound like Madison could be talking about the state of religion in America today where the Christofascists and their puppets and political whores in the GOP seek to inflict their poisonous beliefs on all citizens.  The Christianist agenda is the direct opposite of what Madison espoused.  

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Farewell to Exodus International - A Stept Towards Ending the "Ex-Gay" Myth

I noted yesterday how the president of Exodus International issued an apology for the great harm done to gays through the now closing organization's work to perpetuate the myth that gays could "change" and become straight.  It's a myth that has negatively impacted many of us and certainly many readers of this blog.   It certainly caused me great torment for literally decades as I secretly tried desperately to "pray away the gay."  Thus, I for one say good riddance to Exodus International and the evil that it worked on so many ultimately in a quest for money and to facilitate the anti-gay political agenda of the Christian Right.  An op-ed in The Advocate struck a chord with me and illustrates the torment that Exodus International worked on so many.  Here are excerpts:

In an instant, I found myself back in my grandmother’s house —12 years old, kneeling with her on the floor of her living room, praying the rosary. In between the Hail Marys and the sorrowful mysteries, I inserted my own private prayer for God to take away my homosexuality. We would do this together almost every night, and each night I would ask God to make me straight.

Everything I had learned at church — a cornerstone of my Hispanic Catholic family — said that being gay is a sin, that it is somehow worse than other sins, but that if you are really committed to God you could overcome this great sin. Since 1976, Exodus International has spread that message to thousands upon thousands of young people and adults, telling them that in order to be faithful they have to denounce their sexuality. That homosexuality is a spiritual disease. That if you pray enough, starve yourself enough, endure enough physical and emotional pain, you can be saved.

As a young person, I often imagined what it would be like to try a “change therapy” program. I would hear horror stories of torture and lies, and I would be scared. But when I stared into the mesh screen in the confessional, as the pastor asked, “Is there anything else?” I would have to fight to keep the words “I’m gay” inside. I wanted to be accepted by God, by my family, by my grandmother who knelt beside me each night to pray.

In just a few days we could receive a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on same-sex marriage. Although the decision is unknown, there is an undeniable growing shift in support for LGBT equal rights. Citizens across this great country are stepping forward and affirming publicly that being gay is not a social disease.

I feel ever more confident that we are winning and that there will be a day in my lifetime when my doctor, my pastor, and my elected officials all agree that I am healthy.  I’m not evil, and I am worthy of the same rights as my grandmother. My grandmother last year came to a similar realization, telling me that even though I was a “different fellow,” she just wanted me to be happy and at peace.

Nothing brings me closer to my faith than taking a stand against the social injustices of our generation — a calling mentioned numerously in the Bible. It makes me proud to work for an organization that continues to lead the fight for LGBT equality through grassroots action focused on civil rights, parental rights, and relationship recognition.

You can rest assured that right now there is a young boy praying silently to God to take away his homosexuality. There is a girl at Bible camp who feels dirty and sinful when she changes in front of her bunkmates. There is a young person being sent away to an organization much like Exodus International. It’s happening because the leaders in our faith communities have given in to fear and hate above love and compassion. The antigay ideas taught at the pulpit then propagate through our communities and are ingrained in fabric of families. But today, there is one less hatefully misguided organization leading the charge against perfectly normal people who just so happen to be gay.

If any so-called spiritual disease exists, it is conservative Christianity, not homosexuality.   The Christofascists and their puppets in the Republican Party make a mockery of the Gospel message virtually every day.  They are defined by hate, bigotry, and hypocrisy.  Hopefully, the larger public is increasing waking up to this reality.  They are not nice people and they deserve no respect or deference.

A Hook Up Site for Gay Priests?

William Donohue of the Catholic League and the Opus Dei crowd - which seeming includes Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli and might explain his bizarre fixation on gays - must be having convulsions and shrieking at this story about a supposed hookup site for gay Catholic priests.  Yes, you read that correctly, a gay chat and hook up site for "HomoSensible Roman Catholic Priests."  Combined with Pope Francis' recent statements about the "gay lobby" at the Vatican the pious folk must be on the verge of hysteria and will no doubt be demanding a witch hunt for gays within the priesthood.  Here are highlights from a "Catholic" blog out of Dallas:

It’s St. Sebastian’s Angels all over again.  But much worse. In Rome!  A gay hookup site specifically tailored for priests and seminarians in ROME!  Good Heavens what is to become of us?:
It is not easy to talk about some things, but  Pope Francis’ statement of a gay lobby in the Catholic Church draws waves. As the Catholic writer, Vittorio Messori made ​​known, there is a page on the Internet called Venerabilis which is run by  a fraternity of Homo-Sensitive Roman Catholic Priests.

The homo Sensitive  priestly society claims to be a loose association of gay and homophile Catholic priests. The website serves as a gay dating site, so that aberrosexual priests can find contact among themselves, or homosexual laity can meet like-minded priests and vice versa. This page offers chat rooms in five languages, including in German, a Twitter service to the Catholic Church and some news from a “homo sensitive” view. The ads are unique. Anyone who registers on the Venerabilis and gives a personal ad or responds to one, seeks homosexual sexual contact………

…….Since the 1st of May  the [homosexual]-brotherhood, which calls itself Fraternitas Sacerdotalis.[Is this a catty shot at the masculinity of FSSP priests?] is a “meeting place” in order to meet “personally” and at “no risk”. And in fact, Rome Feltrinelli bookstore in Largo Argentina  has a “6- 8pm” at the cafeteria or in the department “Philosophy and Religion”. “For the seminarians of the Jesuit university Gregorian University and the Dominican Angelicum from 11 to 12 clock in the same place. ” [So now the great colleges of Rome, erected at great expense by religious orders that shook the world, are now reduced to being hookup sites for sexual deviants. Nice. I wonder how much is taught at these former bastions of orthodoxy and erudition that would challenge these lost souls in their depravity? Anything?]
So, I went tot he site, and while I didn’t find anything pornographic, at least not that I could understand, it’s obvious what the site is about.  It’s about finding sex partners. The homo-mafia in the Church obviously feels sufficiently strong and emboldened to operate almost in the open.  This site is smart in that everyone operates under automatically generated IDs, but people are dumb and have left their personal e-mails all over the place. I bet a decent multi-lingual private investigator could identify dozens of people from the site in an afternoon’s work.
It’s a certitude there are more sites like this out there. They just have to be found. And then the hard part. Will competent ecclesiastical authority take any steps to remove those priests found to be partaking in this homosexual hookup site?

Folks, don’t fool yourselves into believing this mafia is made up only of a few scattered bishops and maybe a cardinal or too. It is at least as widespead in the episcopate as it is in the regular clergy, and possibly even more so. Think about for a while.  Lord, have mercy on Your Church!  Please extirpate this foul evil from the midst of Your Body!

As I said, they probably had to call 911 when William Donohue heard this news.  One can only imagine the verbal diarrhea he will be spewing.   As for Ken Cuccinelli, if the gay rumors I keep hearing whispered are true, now he's got a new discrete hook up site he can use.  It certainly beats MegaPhone which former GOP Congressman Ed Schrock used before he got caught or Larry Craig's "wide stance.".

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Co-Founder Of Minuteman Border Patrol Group Arrested On Child Sex Charges

As noted often on this blog, why is it that it seems like 9 times out of 10 that it is the far right conservatives and the pastors and priests from anti-gay religious denominations who are the ones always getting arrested on sex crimes charges?  Oh, and lets not forget the "conservative" Republican officials who vote against gays even as they troll for gay sex on the sly.  The latest far right extremist to get busted is Chris Simcox, 52, who co-founded the anti-immigrant Minuteman Civil Defense Corps in 2005.  It seems that Simcox has a thing about young girls under the age of 10.  It's sick to say the least.  Why do I imagine that the far right is happy that it was young girls and not young boys that float Simcox's boat?  Here are highlights from Huffington Post on this latest example that it is heterosexuals, not gays, who comprise most pedophiles and molesters of children:

PHOENIX, June 19 (Reuters) - The co-founder of the Minutemen civilian border patrol group that for several years watched for unauthorized immigrants crossing to Arizona from Mexico, was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of molesting three young girls.

Chris Simcox, 52, who co-founded the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps in 2005, was booked into a Maricopa County jail in connection with the molestation of three girls under the age of 10, said Sergeant Tommy Thompson, a Phoenix police spokesman.

Detectives with the department's Family Investigations Bureau developed "probable cause" that Simcox had sexual conduct with the girls during the past several months, Thompson said. No other details were immediately available.

He faces two counts each of child molestation and sexual conduct with a minor, and one count of attempted child molestation.

A former kindergarten teacher from California, Simcox co-founded the border watch group to highlight what he said was the government's failure to secure the porous southwest border with Mexico.

Its force of housewives, office workers and veterans sat in lawn chairs in southern Arizona, spotting suspected migrants whom they reported to the U.S. Border Patrol, until the group disbanded in 2010.

Where Will Gay Rights Be After SCOTUS Rules?

Many are waiting with apprehension this morning since today or Monday will likely be when the U. S. Supreme Court hands down its rulings in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Proposition 8 case, and United States v. Windsor, the DOMA case.   The speculation is that DOMA will be ruled unconstitutional and for gays in states where gay marriage is legal, a host of new legal rights will become available.  The Proposition 8 case is another matter and few seem to anticipate a broad ruling that would strike down bans on gay marriage nationwide.  So where does that leave those of us living in virulently anti-gay states like Virginia?  Mostly still totally screwed and second, third or even fourth class citizens.  But, if DOMA does fall, there will be some possible rights flowing to us if we marry in states where gay marriage is legal.  As noted in prior posts, we will face very complicated and inconsistent legal rights and challenges.  A narrow ruling on Prop 8 and a striking down of DOMA will no doubt unleash a further host of law suits.  Here are highlights of some further analysis from Towleroad.

Normally, marriage law is pretty simple: For 99 percent of heterosexual couples, the hardest thing about marrying in one state and moving to another state is packing the fine china. Sure, there are some states (New York) that allow first cousins to marry and some states (West Virginia) that do not, but for the most part, when a man marries a woman, they are married in all legal respects whether they live on the 65th floor in an Upper West Side hi-rise or in a ranch house in Oklahoma. 

The end of DOMA doubles down the complexity faced by legally married same-sex couples. What is the governing law for marriages for federal law: the place of celebration or the place of domicile? What if the choice of law is different from different aspects of federal law? What happens when a legally married couple moves to a state that feels that their marriage violates public policy? What of gay couples that do not have the option of marrying and are in registered domestic partnerships or civil unions that provide all the benefits of marriage?

[I]n a world without DOMA, which makes the choice of law question moot, what will the federal government do? The general rule is the marriages are recognized in the state of celebration, or the state the couple signed the marriage license, even if they reside somewhere else.

Some people argue that all states should recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states because the Constitution, specifically the Full Faith and Credit Clause, requires the states to recognize the "the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings, of every other state." But a marriage license is not a judicial proceeding and although it could be considered a "record," courts have generally not required other states to give binding recognition under the Full Faith and Credit Clause to similar documents, such as a pharmacist's, dentist's, or a lawyer's license.

That means that the Constitution isn't going to be much help coming up with a clear choice of law rule in a post-DOMA world. We could rely on the common law default rule that marriages are recognized by the federal government based on the laws of the state of celebration. But the common law rule has exceptions -- big ones -- that make life impossibly difficult for gay couples to move from one state to another when those state gay marriage laws differ. For some moves -- say, from New York to New Mexico -- there is no problem because whereas New Mexico may not be a freedom to marry state, it will recognize out of state gay marriages. But for other moves -- say, from Massachusetts to Utah -- the public policy exception to out-of-state marriage recognition takes Utah off the map as a viable destination for gay couples.

This raises questions of social justice and fairness, but also constitutional rights. You have a right to move, and states that ban gay marriage and refuse to recognize out-of-state marriages put an effective burden on gay would-be new residents. In Saenz v. Roe (1999), for example, the Supreme Court held, in part, that those who leave one state and become permanent residents of another state have a right to be treated equally to native born citizens of that state. That holding is not cabined by a mover's sexual orientation: a gay person isn't entitled to be treated like any other gay person in his new state, but rather he is entitled to treated equally to any other person in his new state. That could apply to marriage discrimination, as well.

Of course, Congress could step in and solve the complexity problem. The Respect for Marriage Act (ROMA), for example, would codify the following rule:

For the purposes of any Federal law in which marital status is a factor, an individual shall be considered married if that individual’s marriage is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a State.

Short of this kind of Congressional action -- which, by the way, is unlikely, given the makeup of the House and the long decades that have passed without Congress taking any action to mop up the messy patchwork of choice of law rules when it comes to marriage -- the post-DOMA world will be a tangled web of common law rules that will be subject to future litigation. There are no simple answers to the next questions. The IRS may interpret the tax and bankruptcy codes to define marriage based on state of celebration, but that rule can be challenged. Immigration authorities may interpret the rule differently, based on contradictory case law coming out of the spousal visa context, though, as attorney Lavi Soloway has argued, the celebration rule is the stronger argument.
Yes, it will be very complicated for many of us.   All so that the Christofascists can feel morally superior and inflict their anti-gay animus on as many of us as possible.  So much for religious freedom and the "liberty" that America pretends to offer to all.

President of Exodus International Offers Apology to Gays

One of the favored myths that the Christofascists seek to perpetuate is that being gay is "a choice" and that through accepting Jesus - and typically paying thousands of dollars to some bogus "ex-gay" ministry - one can somehow be miraculously "cured" and suddenly sexually aroused by those of the opposite sex.  It, of course, doesn't work as I know from trying to be "cured" for over 37 years and the only beneficiaries are the "ministries" who pocket the cash and the far right which parades out pathetic "ex-gays" as a demonstration why gays need no legal protections.  A leader in this quackery in the past has been Exodus International.  Yesterday, Exodus issued an apology for its past deliberate lies and misdeeds.  Here are highlights:
Several months ago, this conversation led me to call Lisa Ling to take another step on this messy journey.  I asked if she would, once again, help us add to the unfolding story by covering my apology to the people who have been hurt by Exodus International.  Our ministry has been public and therefore any acknowledgement of wrong must also be public.  I haven’t always been the leader of Exodus, but I am now and someone must finally own and acknowledge the hurt of others. I do so anxiously, but willingly.

It is strange to be someone who has both been hurt by the church’s treatment of the LGBT community, and also to be someone who must apologize for being part of the very system of ignorance that perpetuated that hurt. Today it is as if I’ve just woken up to a greater sense of how painful it is to be a sinner in the hands of an angry church.

It is also strange to be an outcast from powerful portions of both the gay community and the Christian community.  Because I do not completely agree with the vocal majorities in either group and am forging a new place of peaceful service in and through both, I will likely continue to be an outsider to some degree.
We have done wrong, and I stand with many others who now recognize the need to offer apologies and make things right.  I believe this apology – however imperfect – is what God the Father would have me do.

I have heard many firsthand stories from people called ex-gay survivors. Stories of people who went to Exodus affiliated ministries or ministers for help only to experience more trauma. I have heard stories of shame, sexual misconduct, and false hope. In every case that has been brought to my attention, there has been swift action resulting in the removal of these leaders and/or their organizations. But rarely was there an apology or a public acknowledgement by me.

And then there is the trauma that I have caused. There were several years that I conveniently omitted my ongoing same-sex attractions. I was afraid to share them as readily and easily as I do today. They brought me tremendous shame and I hid them in the hopes they would go away. Looking back, it seems so odd that I thought I could do something to make them stop. Today, however, I accept these feelings as parts of my life that will likely always be there.

I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know.  .  .  .  .  I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine. 

There is more, but you get the drift.  I can only imagine the spittle eruptions and shrieks and convulsions that these very true statements are causing amongst the "godly Christian" folk at hate groups like Family Research Council, The Family Foundation here in Virginia, the National Organization for Marriage, all of whom disseminate lies and untruths daily.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Forged: Writing in the Name of God--The Truth About the Bible's Authors

Admittedly, this blog is often not kind to religious fundamentalists of any stripe, but American Christofascists get particular attention.  Why?  Because modern scientific knowledge increasingly shows that some of the claims/myths set forth in the Bible simply are not true.  The human genome project which has shown that the Adam and Eve of the Bible never existed as historical individuals is but one glaring example.  But adding to the batshitery and hypocrisy is the fact that much of the Bible was written by unknown authors or even outright forgers.  A new book by Biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman, the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is a leading authority on the Bible and the life of Jesus.  Here are details from his new book "Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are":
Bart D. Ehrman, the New York Times bestselling author of Jesus, Interrupted and Gods Problem reveals which books in the Bibles New Testament were not passed down by Jesus's disciples, but were instead forged by other hands and why this centuries-hidden scandal is far more significant than many scholars are willing to admit. A controversial work of historical reporting in the tradition of Elaine Pagels, Marcus Borg, and John Dominic Crossan, Ehrmans Forged delivers a stunning explication of one of the most substantial yet least discussed problems confronting the world of biblical scholarship. 

The Untold Story of Forgery in the Bible:  In Forged, leading Bible authority Bart D. Ehrman exposes one of the most unsettling ironies of the early Christian tradition: the use of deception to establish the truth. With the scholarly expertise and provocative claims for which he's known, Ehrman reveals which texts were forged in the name of Jesus's disciples and considers how the deceptions of an unnamed few have prevailed for centuries. The untold story of widespread forgery in the ancient world sheds new light on how documents of scandalous origin became part of the Bible we have today.
Straight blogger, Bob Felton, has some very apt remarks on the truth about the Bible and the utter dishonesty of "conservative Christians" who maintain - either through ignorance and stupidity or in the quest to shake down the gullible or money - rant that the Bible is inerrant.  Here are some money quotes:

When Bart Ehrman’s Forged was published a few years ago, he characterized it as a popular work and promised that a textbook-level treatment of Biblical forgeries would be published soon afterward. That book is now to hand: massiv

It is bad enough that scholars don’t actually know who wrote most of the Bible’s ‘inerrant’ texts, or anything about the authors. Worse, scholars do know that a great many of those texts are forgeries, texts written by somebody who wasn’t Paul but claiming to be Paul, for example, with the purpose of influencing early Christian beliefs, doctrine, behavior. They probably weren’t written at midnight by some drunk who just wanted to see what he could get away with — but, then, you can’t be sure. Nobody knows who was the author of a majority of the Biblical texts, and scholars have known since the revival of historical criticism in the 1850s, following the suppression of Spinoza in the 1670s, that many of the texts are forgeries.

The Bible is not the progressive revelation of the Invisible Wizard’s plan, et cetera, et cetera; it is a collection of texts by different men who practiced related but different religions, and its hundreds of well-documented contradictions are there because they believed different things and sometimes made-up stuff for propaganda purposes.

On what grounds, then, do Holy Men claim that the Bible in inerrant? There are no grounds. It is done solely because the preposterous claim of inerrancy provides them a platform upon which to build their authority, and once they acknowledge the Bible is highly, endlessly, hopelessly errant — this is before we get to the hundreds of years of deliberate revisions by anonymities, scribal errors, and mistranslations — their schtick falls apart and they look like nothing so much as gaudy flim-flam men.

A brutal assessment?  Yes.  Is it on point and accurate?  Again the answer is yes.  Personally, I do believe in the existence of a higher being/creator.  Likewise, I believe in the Gospel message and the teachings attributed to Christ.  The rest of the Bible?  It is most likely mythology written by the ignorant and uneducated and by those with a personal agenda to further (likely involving power, money and control of others).  The true history of Christianity and the Catholic Church is very ugly stuff.  So many deaths and so much suffering so that the few could bask in power and wealth.  It's the antithesis of what Christ - if he truly existed - was all about.


U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) Comes Out for Gay Marriage

A third Republican U.S. Senator has come out in support for gay marriage - Lisa Murkowski who beat back a GOP challenger and won reelection as an independent.  What tipped the balance for her?   Meeting and getting to know a same sex couple.  Her conversion to a supporter of marriage equality underscores the power of being out and living your life without apologies.  Murkowski talks about her new support for gay marriage in an op-ed entitled "The Pursuit of Happiness – Without Government Interference."  Here are some excerpts:

Not too long ago, I had the honor of nominating an Alaskan family as “Angels in Adoption,” a celebration of the selflessness shown by foster care families and those who adopt children.  They arrived in Washington, DC, a military family who had opened their doors to not one child but four siblings to make sure that these sisters and brother had the simplest gift you can give a child: a home together.  We had lunch together, and they shared their stories with me.  All the while, the children politely ate lunch and giggled as content youngsters do.  Given my daily hectic Senate schedule, it’s not often that I get to sit down with such a happy family during a workday – and I think of them often, as everything our nation should encourage.

I bring them up because the partners were two women who had first made the decision to open their home to provide foster care to the eldest child in 2007.  Years later – and after a deployment abroad with the Alaska National Guard for one of them – they embraced the joy and sacrifice of four adopted children living under the same roof, with smiles, laughter, movie nights, parent-teacher conferences and runny noses.

Yet despite signing up and volunteering to give themselves fully to these four adorable children, our government does not meet this family halfway and allow them to be legally recognized as spouses. After their years of sleepless nights, after-school pickups and birthday cakes, if one of them gets sick or injured and needs critical care, the other would not be allowed to visit them in the emergency room – and the children could possibly be taken away from the healthy partner.  They do not get considered for household health care benefit coverage like spouses nationwide.  This first-class Alaskan family still lives a second-class existence.

The Supreme Court is set to make a pair of decisions on the topic of marriage equality shortly, and the national conversation on this issue is picking back up. This is a significant moment for our nation when it comes to rethinking our society’s priorities and the role of government in Americans’ private lives and decisions, so I want to be absolutely clear with Alaskans. I am a life-long Republican because I believe in promoting freedom and limiting the reach of government.  When government does act, I believe it should encourage family values.  I support the right of all Americans to marry the person they love and choose because I believe doing so promotes both values:  it keeps politicians out of the most private and personal aspects of peoples’ lives – while also encouraging more families to form and more adults to make a lifetime commitment to one another.  While my support for same sex civil marriage is something I believe in, I am equally committed to guaranteeing that religious freedoms remain inviolate, so that churches and other religious institutions can continue to determine and practice their own definition of marriage.

This thinking is consistent with what I hear from more and more Alaskans especially our younger generations.  Like the majority of Alaskans, I supported a constitutional amendment in 1998 defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, but my thinking has evolved as America has witnessed a clear cultural shift.  Fifteen years after that vote, I find that when one looks closer at the issue, you quickly realize that same sex unions or civil marriages are consistent with the independent mindset of our state – and they deserve a hands-off approach from our federal policies.

First, this is a personal liberty issue and has to do with the most important personal decision that any human makes.  I believe that, as Americans, our freedoms come from God and not government, and include the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence:  life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What could be more important to the pursuit of happiness than the right to choose your spouse without asking a Washington politician for permission?    If there is one belief that unifies most Alaskans – our true north – it is less government and more freedom.  We don’t want the government in our pockets or our bedrooms; we certainly don’t need it in our families.

Secondly, civil marriage also touches the foundation of our national culture: safe, healthy families and robust community life. In so many ways, sound families are the foundation of our society.  Any efforts or opportunity to expand the civil bonds and rights to anyone that wants to build a stable, happy household should be promoted.

I recently read an interview where Ronald Reagan’s daughter said that she believes he would have supported same-sex marriage, that he would think “What difference does it make to anybody else’s life? I also think because he wanted government out of peoples’ lives, he would not understand the intrusion of government banning such a thing. This is not what he would have thought government should be doing.”

Like Reagan, Alaskans believe that government works best when it gets out of the way.  Countless Alaskans and Americans want to give themselves to one another and create a home together.  I support marriage equality and support the government getting out of the way to let that happen.
Living out and not hiding your life can be frightening at times, but the rewards can be amazing and the impact one has in changing hearts and minds can be monumental.  The epiphany of Lisa Murkowski is but one example.  It is examples like this that re-enforce the boyfriend and my determination to never deny who we are or make apologies to anyone.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Immigration Reform: Today’s GOP vs. Tomorrow’s GOP

Admittedly, I write a lot about the Republican Party and its current frightening state - which in my view tracks directly back to the rise of the paranoid, ignorance embracing - clinically insane? - Christofascists in the party.  Part of me continues to hope that the GOP can regain sanity and eject the most ignorant and hate filled elements of the "godly Christian" crowd from the party.  How that can be accomplished is what remains troublesome.  The equivalent of napalm is needed, but one doesn't want to kill every element of the GOP, just the insane Christofascist and Tea Party elements that have ushered in individuals like Congressman Burgess, Sarah Palin and similar loons.  A piece in The Daily Beast looks at how the debate over immigration reform is pitting the forces of reaction and bigotry (the Dark Side, if you will) against those who understand that change must occur.  Here are some article excerpts:

We are about to watch something unfold that is really fascinating and very rare in American politics. One of our two major parties—I’ll let you guess which one!—is on the cusp of having to weigh what is good for its congressional wing in the short term versus what is good for its aspirations to reclaim the presidency over the long term. I’m not sure this has any precedent, at least in the modern history of the republic: a party that, electorally, demographically, and culturally, has so insulated and isolated itself from the rest of the nation that what’s good for its legislators is bad for the party’s future—not to mention the rest of the country.

I’m writing of course about immigration and, of course, about the Republican Party. We are nearing, now, the push-comes-to-shove moment; we’re about to see whether this bill can pass. 

In the Senate, Republicans are skittish about border security (among other issues, but mainly border security). The Republicans who want stricter border-security measures and a say in how to create them have a point  .   .   .   .  it’s not really about border security—border security is the only leverage Republicans have to slow down the path to citizenship, which ultimately is the issue here for the right-wing base and always has been. The vast majority of individual GOP House members, and a smaller majority of the party’s senators, know that voting for immigration reform with said path is risky for them politically. At the very least, it’s something they’ll have to explain at angry town hall meetings. In the more serious cases, it will invite a primary challenge from the right.

And thus we have it: something that would obviously be good for their party in the long run, supporting reform so that they can start the process of appealing to Latino voters, is dangerous for it in the short run.

This is not some freak accident, but is the product of design—of the kinds of ideologically homogenous districts Republicans have drawn for themselves, and more broadly, the way a snow-white party has culturally divorced itself from the racially heterogeneous America the rest of live in and celebrate.

[N]o congressional party has ever operated out of a little ideological cocoon the way this one does. A president has to appeal to voters in the middle, but these people only have to appeal to voters who are exactly where they are and even further to their right. And they can win reelection pretty much forever on that basis.

If he [Boehner] doesn’t [allow a vote on immigration reform], his party will find itself in a raging battle with demographic destiny. And its only future path to the White House will lie in stoking white resentment to fever levels to produce the highest turnout possible, while dividing the country even further—but solidifying the cultural idea of “the party,” which is what really matters most to them.

The so-called GOP establishment created this Frankenstein monster it now faces.  I feel no sympathy whatsoever for these folks.  Some of us warned of the coming danger and were denigrated and mistreated.  Pandering to ignorance and bigotry is never a good long term solution.  Now the GOP is reaping what it sowed.

Anti-Abortion GOP Congressman: Fetuses Masturbate, Ban Abortion

Just when you think that the GOP simply cannot get any nuttier and insane, along comes a GOP member of Congress who proves that the insanity that permeates the GOP seemingly has no limits.  How else to explain the statements by Michael Burgess (R-TX, pictured above) on Monday wherein he asserted that he had witnessed male fetuses pleasuring themselves as early as 15-weeks after conception.  His point?  That fetuses feel pain and pleasure and, therefore, the GOP House approved anti-abortion bill was justified.  Left unaddressed was how this apparently natural behavior squares with the Christofascists hysteria against masturbation and sex in general (at least outside the confines of their secret viewing of Internet porn, something most prevalent in the Bible Belt).  What makes the whole affair more bizarre is that Burgess is leading member of a House subcommittee focused on public health and biomedical issues.  Raw Story looks at Burgess' statements:

Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX) on Monday asserted that he witnessed male fetuses pleasuring themselves as early as 15-weeks after conception, RH Reality Check reported.

His comments came during a House Rules committee debate on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions nationwide after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The fact of the matter is, I argue with the chairman because I thought the date was far too late. We should be setting this at 15-weeks, 16-weeks.”

“Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful,” he continued. “They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to think that they could feel pain?”

Burgess said the Supreme Court would be forced to reconsider its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling due to legal fights over anti-abortion legislation like the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. He suggested the justices would be far less permissive of abortion thanks to modern sonogram technology.

For the record, I am not pro-abortion.  I do believe, however, that there need to be meaningful exceptions for rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother.  While the bill purports to contained exceptions for rape and incest and would permit abortion to save the life of the mother, critics said the exceptions were narrowly written and would prove problematic if implemented.  As always, it is amazing to see GOP white males passing legislation to govern the lives and bodies of women. And one has to wonder how the Catholic clergy will react to masturbation being a natural behavior - many must be having a severe case of the vapors.

Poll: Catholic Church View on Same-Sex Marriage Causing Parishoners to Flee

To listen to Catholic bishops and cardinals around America one would think that gay marriage will destroy civilization and lead to the collapse of heterosexual marriage.  None of which is true, of course, and the irony is that this propaganda comes from an institution which has been documented to have engaged in a world wide criminal conspiracy to cover up sex crimes against children and youths by Catholic clergy.  The hypocrisy is stunning.  Another irony is that a new poll has found that the Catholic Church hierarchy's anti-gay jihad is causing members of the Catholic laity to leave the Church.  One can only hope that the phenomenon accelerates and becomes more widespread.  Here are highlights from NBC 10 News on the poll findings:

Not surprisingly, a high percentage of area Catholics have left the church over the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the organization in the past decade. But that's not all.

A Catholic parish in Philadelphia surveyed lapsed Catholics to find out why they left. The results show a dissatisfaction at both the local level and with the Vatican.  .   .   .   . 17 percent — said they did so because of the priest abuse scandal. 

"People who are going to leave the church over the scandal and the church's handling of it have already left. So people leaving the church today are leaving for other reasons," said Zech. "A growing reason we found out was the church's attitude toward homosexuals and gay marriage. A lot of younger people object to the church's teaching on that."

According to a recent national study on religious life in America by the Pew Foundation, a third of baptized Catholics leave the faith, often due to policies originating in the Vatican.

Nevertheless, Zech's study shows that local churches have some power to keep disgruntled Catholics from leaving, such as improving the quality of liturgies.

"Liturgies are really important. I'm not sure that parish staff and clergy understand how important liturgies are to people, that they have good music and the liturgy be meaningful," said Zech.

"People who feel they are not being fed by a meaningful liturgy — they'll go where they are being fed."   Most of those former parishoners became Protestants.

In the short term, the influx of Hispanic immigrants has masked the decline of the Catholic Church in America.  Over time, that will change and the Church will follow the downward trajectory it has experienced in Europe and other modern nations.   The choice for the Vatican is to either accept modernity and modern knowledge or eventually become a third world religion based in the most ignorant and uneducated nations of the world. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Marco Rubio's "47%" Moment?

At times it is breath taking how out of touch members of the GOP can be when it comes to a total lack of empathy - or even concern for - many American citizens.   During the 2013 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney showed his true colors and contempt for "the 47%" who Romney depicted as lazy slackers.   Now, Marco Rubio through an aide has denigrated many average Americans who are facing bleak employment prospects.  The inflammatory statement was first released by The New Yorker:

“There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it,” a Rubio aide told me. “There shouldn’t be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, don’t want to do it. And so you can’t obviously discuss that publicly.”
The solution apparently in Rubio's mind?  Kick them to the curb and treat these Americans like disposable garbage as the GOP seeks to treat so many others, especially the poor and less fortunate.  It goes without saying that Rubio and company are frantically claiming that the statements were "taken out of context" which seemingly means they were not stated in a closed, controlled setting with limited access for reports.  Here's a sampling of the supposedly misquoted comments:

New York Magazine looks at this blunder by Rubio and the possible consequences for passage of meaningful immigration reform.  Here are excerpts:

Part of the fascination of the immigration-reform saga is that it provides a test of the Republican Party elite’s ability to tame its own base. For most of the Obama era, the bulging-eyed mania of the conservative activist base helpfully served the party’s interests.

Immigration reform is the clarifying event, directly pitting the passions of the base against the party elite’s long-term survival.

As a political matter, passing immigration reform is a necessary, though not a sufficient, condition for winning national elections. The Latino vote is not going to stop growing, and while Latino voters hold left-of-center views pretty much across the board, Republican hostility to illegal immigrants is the insuperable obstacle. Political scientist Dan Hopkins compared the GOP’s voting coalition in 2012 versus 2008 and found Latino Republicans defected at a higher rate than any other piece of the party’s voting bloc.

What makes immigration reform such a no-brainer for the elite is that Republican elites not only grasp its political necessity, but, for the most part, also support it on the merits. Immigration reform is helpful to business in any number of ways, one of them being as a legalized channel for low-wage labor.
[A]n aide to Marco Rubio strips bare the dynamic with a brutal frankness that I have never seen before in American politics   . . .   The idea that American workers don’t want to do certain jobs is a long cliché peddled by people who sit in soft chairs all day. American workers will do any job if it pays well enough — American workers toil in coal mines and collect garbage if they’re paid a living wage to do so. You certainly don’t have to take a cruel and ignorant view of the labor market to support immigration reform . . .

The Rubio aide quote is not only a piece of shocking candor, but also the biggest single blunder the pro-reform coalition has committed so far. Party elites may nod along when they read it, but there’s a reason nobody in politics ever says anything like this.

The question, as always, is, What will John Boehner do? The endgame of a successful law almost has to include the House passing a bill with mostly Democratic support. Boehner probably wants to pass a reform, and possibly a majority of House Republicans do, too, but there’s no chance a majority of them wants to vote for it openly.  . . . . No way in hell" is how several described the chances of the speaker acting on such a proposal without a majority of his majority behind him.
What I find most shocking about today's GOP - and the Christofascist puppet masters behind the scenes - is that they are utterly incapable of seeing the common humanity in others.  They whine about "Christian values"yet they display nothing but contempt and hatred towards those who are different, be they different because of the color of their skin, their national origin, their sexual orientation and a host of other criteria to fan division and discord.

Numerous Republicans Endorse McAuliffe inVirginia Governor Race

While I remain concerned about turnout for the 2013 Virgina elections this coming November - minorities, gays and women need to be made to understand that their votes in November, 2013 are as important, if not more important, than the votes they cast in November, 2012, - the GOP news is that saner Republicans appear to be jumping ship and endorsing Terry McAuliffe for Governor of Virginia.  One can only hope that as Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli's extremism is exposed and his conflicts of interest and ethically challenged behavior becomes more widely known, the exodus from the GOP will continue.  Here are highlights from the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star on the latest GOP endorsements of McAuliffe:

Republican former state Sen. John Chichester says he’d love to back a gubernatorial candidate with “mainstream Republican thinking.”  That, he said, is why he’s supporting Democrat Terry McAuliffe over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in this year’s governor’s race.

Chichester and several other Republicans formally endorsed McAuliffe at a morning press conference in Richmond today.

They join other Republicans who are outspoken about their belief that Cuccinelli is too far to the right, and feel they’re becoming the GOP’s moderates as the party becomes more conservative.
“I’m looking forward to the time our party nominates someone I can support that is in mainstream Republican thinking,” Chichester said.

He was joined at the press conference by Republican former delegates Vince Callahan and Katherine Waddell, and by Judy Ford Wason, who backed Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell in 2009. Former Sen. Russ Potts and former Del. Jim Dillard are also part of the “Virginians for McAuliffe” group.

Chichester said he and McAuliffe had a “heart to heart” talk, and that McAuliffe “gets it.”

“It,” for Chichester, the former Senate Finance chairman, is an understanding that a governor has only four years to govern but those four years include two budget cycles with “horizons that go much beyond those four years.”

HRBOR's June 2013 Third Thursday Networking Event - Progress Insurance/Alexander's on the Bay

It's that time of the month - the third Thursday of the Month is fast upon us - and local readers are again encouraged to attend the Hampton Roads Business OutReach ("HRBOR") event on June 20, 2013, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at the wonderful Alexander's on the Bay located near my parents' former neighborhood in Virginia Beach.  (As an aside, when my parents first began planning to move to Virginia from New York, the realtor they were working with lived not far from the predecessor restaurant to Alexander's on the Bay and, when I came down from UVA while an undergraduate student to do some house scouting for my folks, the first place I ever went out to dinner was at this location).  The location is wonderful and looks out over Chesapeake Bay.  The HRBOR sponsor for the event is Prosper Insurance:

Here are more details:

Where: Alexander's on the Bay 4536 Ocean View Ave Virginia Beach, VA 23455
(757) 464-4999

When: Thursday June 20th 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Cash Bar: Happy Hour Prices
Food Sponsor: Prosper Insurance Group

Featured Non-Profit: The Sandler Center for the Performing Arts (new member)

Third Thursday Cost: Free to Members, $15 Guest Fee for Guests and Prospective Members
Invite friends and colleagues.

  The view from the deck at Alexander's on the Bay: