Saturday, August 17, 2013

More Saturday Male Beauty

Extremist Primary Electorate is Costing the GOP

As note before on this, other than a series of sustained electoral defeats, I do not know what can save the GOP from the insane Christofascists and Tea Party saboteurs who have highjacked the party grass roots and who predominate in primary contests.  Frankly, today's GOP base is utterly untethered from objective reality and lives in some bizarre imaginary alternate universe that doesn't - and never did - exist in fact and which bears no relation to the reality experienced by most voters.  The result is that primary candidates that excite the GOP base are in all likelihood viewed as radioactive by everyone else, including independent voters and self-styled moderates.  One only need to think of U.S. Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock as examples of the phenomenon.  A piece in the Washington Post looks ate the ongoing problem for the GOP:  Here are excerpts:

Republican chances for a Senate majority in 2015 took a bit of a hit today, with senior GOP Rep. Dave Camp announcing that he won’t run for the Michigan open seat. Whatever Camp’s chances, he was the GOP’s top choice, and with him out the chances are extremely good that Democrats will retain this seat.

This points to a broader, if mostly hidden, risk that the radicalization of the GOP primary electorate and many of its party actors poses for the party’s long term hopes.

Everyone talks about Senate seats lost to Republicans by awful candidates foisted on the GOP by the Tea Party, such as Todd Akin and Christine O’Donnell. But perhaps even more important is another Tea Party effect: the prospect of Tea Party upsets convincing strong candidates that primary elections are a hurdle they can’t surmount — leading them to decide not to run.

Candidates are important in Senate elections — it’s often the case that a strong candidate can be the difference between a sharply contested race and one that fizzles. The best candidates are usually professional politicians, and those politicians are, in the lingo of political scientists, strategic: they choose to run only when they believe that it’s a good time to run.

But the possibility of Tea Party upsets in primaries make it that much more difficult. If Senators Bob Bennett and Richard Lugar can’t get renominated, then why should someone such as Camp risk it when he has a perfectly safe House seat that he would have to give up?

We don’t get to know exactly how much of a factor this is in any particular decision. But there are signs it could broadly matter. In the last cycle, Republicans failed to recruit a solid challenger in states such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan — all states in which Republicans have at least a fighting chance. That seems to be happening this time around in the campaigns for open seats in Michigan and Iowa, and in the races against potentially vulnerable Democrats in Minnesota, Colorado, New Hampshire, and perhaps two or three others.

 [T]he GOP that has had the most recruiting trouble lately, and it’s almost certainly because Republican leaders can’t be trusted to clear the field for strong candidates. The temptation to support insurgents, even ones who would badly hurt the party’s chances in November, is just too strong for both party actors and voters in Republican primaries. 

It’s a real, and under appreciated, cost of the Tea Party effect. And it’s not going away any time soon.

To survive long term, the GOP has to find a means to send the Christofascists and the equally insane Tea Party crowd back to the political wilderness.  They are toxic and will become more of a liability with every passing year.

LGBT Supporters Turn the Tables on Anti-Gay Franklin Graham in Iceland

You have to laugh sometimes when you see an anti-gay bigot finding the tables turned on them by their own ground rules.  A case in point is Franklin Graham (at left in the image above) who but for his famous father would likely be a nobody.  But, in true Christofascist form, Franklin Graham saw plentiful numbers of ignorant and uninformed people that he could shake down and in the process live the good life.  He also bought in to gay bashing and  spreading the typical "godly Christian" lies about gays.  Graham has scheduled two appearance in Iceland where he would undoubtedly spew his usual anti-gay poison, but it appears his efforts have been foiled by his own effort to fill the audience.  LGBT activists and supporters have "sold out" the free tickets and Graham will potentially speak to an empty venue.  That's right, the pro-LGBT crowd has no intention of actually going to hear Graham and listening to his snake oil.  I love it!  Here are highlights from Gay Star News:

Pro-LGBT Icelanders have booked hundreds of tickets to see anti-gay US evangelist Franklin Graham – but few have any intention of actually going to see him.

Graham will be in Iceland for events on 28 and 29 September for the evangelical Christian Festival of Hope but many Icelanders have expressed concern about his homophobic views.
In May of 2012 Graham released a statement accusing US President Barack Obama of shaking ‘his fist at the same God who created and defined marriage.’

Opponents of the visit discovered they could book up to four tickets to both events for free online, while by contacting organizers they could book for groups of 20 or more, and decided to book out the event and then not go in protest of Graham’s message.

‘The seats will be left empty and I hope that more people were able to get tickets … so that [no] people attend this ridiculous meeting.’

According to the International Business Times, software developer Elvar Thormar posted on Facebook that he had been able to reserve as many as 500 tickets to the event despite having no intention of showing up.

Both events that Graham will speak at had sold out by Friday.

Iceland is one of the most LGBT friendly countries in the world and Icelandic voters elected Johanna Sigurdardottir – the world’s first openly gay or lesbian head of state - in 2009. She retired in April of this year.

I'm sorry, but in my view, tawdry whores have more integrity and moral virtue than professional Christians like Franklin Graham who have hate and bigotry as their principle stock in trade.  In my opinion, he is little more than a con artist.

Pro-LGBT Icelanders have booked hundreds of tickets to see anti-gay US evangelist Franklin Graham – but few have any intention of actually going to see him.
Graham will be in Iceland for events on 28 and 29 September for the evangelical Christian Festival of Hope but many Icelanders have expressed concern about his homophobic views.
In May of 2012 Graham released a statement accusing US President Barack Obama of shaking ‘his fist at the same God who created and defined marriage.’
- See more at:
Pro-LGBT Icelanders have booked hundreds of tickets to see anti-gay US evangelist Franklin Graham – but few have any intention of actually going to see him.
Graham will be in Iceland for events on 28 and 29 September for the evangelical Christian Festival of Hope but many Icelanders have expressed concern about his homophobic views.
In May of 2012 Graham released a statement accusing US President Barack Obama of shaking ‘his fist at the same God who created and defined marriage.’
- See more at:

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Upen Patel

Revisiting My Straight World - Possible Lessons Learned

Alanton-Baycliff: Some Past Board Members and Former Presidents (I'm 5th from the left)
When I first came out and moved out of my marital home almost 11 years ago, I put myself into somewhat of a social exile.  I moved from Virginia Beach to the Ghent area of Norfolk and avoided Virginia Beach like the plague other than going to sporting events in which my children were competing - mostly summer swim league and high school swim team meets.  Why did I do this?  In retrospect, because I did not want to deal with facing people and questions and because I still had not overcome huge amounts of internalized homophobia.  Yes, some friends from my straight world rejected me.  For example, I became invisible to some former surf buddies who would walk by me without even acknowledging that I was standing in front of them.  But others might have accepted me had I given them more of an opportunity.  Instead, I did not give them an opportunity because I was still transferring my own internalized homophobia to them and prejudging what they would think.

I brig this up because I am regularly approached by e-mail, phone call or request for in person meetings - as happened this week - by married men with children going through the early stages of the coming out journey.  Many immediately assume that they will face total rejection by friends and family.  Yes, that can and does happen, but it is not guaranteed that it will.  Perhaps immediately putting one's self into a self-imposed exile isn't always the best way to proceed.  It certainly assures much loneliness in those early days and for me deep depression.  Perhaps I did not take the best approach.

Last evening, the boyfriend and I along with my youngest daughter and granddaughter attended the second annual "Old Timers Reunion" at the neighborhood pool in my old Virginia Beach neighborhood.  I served on the pool board of directors for 5 years and was president of the pool for 2 years.   My family and I were members for over 18 years.   Other than swim meets where many friends were busy working as volunteers for putting on the meets, I never returned until last year for the first "Old Timers" reunion.  I was terrified and downed several quick glasses of wine to "take the edge off" last year.   It went well and so we returned again last night.  Again it went well and I got kisses from many of the women and even hugs from some of the guys.  I can help but wonder in retrospect who rejected whom a decade ago.   

I hope that those in the painful coming out process don't jump to conclusions and immediately assume that they will be rejected.  Yes, they may be rejected, but don't immediately assume that that has to be the case.  If it happens, so be it.  But don't be the one forcing what might be an unnecessary exile.

My granddaughter - totally wiped out from socializing at the reunion

Ken Cuccinelli's False Attacks on Terry McAuliffe

Cuccinelli = Dishonest Liar

In the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial contest, there is lots of real evidence of Ken Cuccinelli's ethical failures and influence peddling: $18,000 in gifts from Jonnie R. Williams, Sr., stock dealings in Star Scientific, $100,000 from the parent of an energy company that received improper legal assistance from the attorney general's office in a lawsuit with Virginia landowners and tax payers, etc.  And then there are all of Cuccinelli's frivolous lawsuits that have gone down in flames squandering Virginia taxpayer resources in the process.  Oh, and then there's the significant growth of the AG's office under Mr. Small Government Cuccinelli.  What does one do if you are Cuccinelli?  Attack his opponent with innuendo and claim that there's fire of scandal where there isn't any.  If Cuccinelli's lips are moving, it is safet to assume he's lying. A column in the Washington Post looks at Cuccinelli's dishonest attacks on McAuliffe.  Here are excerpts:

My first concern is the furor over Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe’s misadventure with GreenTech Automotive, which makes small electric cars in Northern Mississippi after skipping past Virginia during its search for a plant site.

The campaign of Republican contender Kenneth Cuccinelli is making  a lot of hay over some rather vague accusations’ involving McAuliffe, and that seems to be as much as they have on Terry. The New York Times and The Post have weighed in with stories about the car company and a related financial firm that involves Hillary Rodham Clinton’s brother.

Basically, McAuliffe got into business with a man named Charles Wang to build little battery-powered cars. Part of the strategy involved getting visas for some business people from China under a legal program that has been around for about two decades. McAuliffe may have done a bit of informal lobbying to expedite the visa processs, as far as I can tell.

In sum, at least from what we know so far, McAuliffe got involved in a business that didn’t live up to expectations. He should have told voters he’d bailed on the firm sooner than he did.

A little perspective. There are lots of business problems out there. Here in Richmond, the region lost some big companies during the Great Recession, including mass retailer Circuit City, mortgage firm Land America and chip-maker Qimondo. The Post has such financial problems that it is being bought by Jeff Bezos of Amazon.

Where’s the smoking gun in these cases?

And then, as noted above and in the column, there's Cuccinelli's own record:

The attorney general bought stock in a firm involved in a tax case his office was prosecuted. He did not immediately disclose the holding. He also accepted $18,000 in gifts from the owner of the firm . . .  One of his assistants was criticized by a federal judge for acting as an advocate for two large energy companies in a legal battle over natural gas rights. One of the firms is a major contributor to Cuccinelli’s campaign.

Nothing here is going to send Cuccinelli to jail, but how do McAuliffe’s problems with GreenTech measure up as ethical transgressions when compared to Cuccinelli’s?

The fact is, they don’t, barring more revelations about GreenTech.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Growing Scandal Surrounds Ken Cuccinelli

Both Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell and Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli make a point of wearing their supposed religiosity on their sleeves, yet the unfolding picture is one of greed and corruption that one would more expect among the mafia.  Both accepted lavish gifts from Jonnie R. Williams and now the Inspector General's office is investigating whether Cuccinelli's office gave improper legal advice to private litigants one of which is an affiliate of a corporation that just happened to give Cuccinelli $100,000.  Even the conservative Richmond Times Dispatch is slamming Cuccinelli for what looks like improprieties on a major scale.  Here are editorial excerpts: 

Politically explosive investigations in Virginia are proliferating at a rate that makes bunny rabbits look almost celibate. The latest inquiry concerns the Office of the Attorney General.

State Inspector General Michael Morehart is looking into whether one of the lawyers in that office was out of bounds when she gave legal advice to a private company embroiled in a dispute with Virginia landowners over mineral rights. Sharon Pigeon’s emails to attorneys for Consol Energy were unusual enough to draw a sharp rebuke from a federal magistrate.

This would qualify as embarrassing news for Ken Cuccinelli under any circumstances. But its potential to hurt the Republican’s gubernatorial chances is magnified by two facts. First, Consol has given hefty sums to his campaign war chest. Second, Cuccinelli was briefed on the case by senior staff. That doesn’t mean he knew about, let alone directed, Pigeon’s activity. But it does make any claim of ignorance on his part a more difficult sell.

After nutritional supplement-maker Star Scientific sued Virginia in a dispute over taxes, Cuccinelli (a) bought stock in Star Scientific, then sold it for a profit, and (b) used the vacation home of CEO Jonnie Williams Sr. – and did not recuse his office until publicly pressured to do so.

There’s also the lingering odor from the case of U.S. Navy Veterans Association, a “charity” investigated by several states. The group’s founder and leader, John Donald Cody, went by the name Bobby Thompson, and – before he went on the lam – contributed to numerous Virginia politicians, Cuccinelli in particular. He now faces trial on felony theft and money-laundering charges.

None of this implies any sort of illegality on Cuccinelli’s part. But it may suggest a level of coziness between the attorney general and his benefactors that does little good to the public, and that voters might find alarming. They also might wonder why Cuccinelli seems to take the long way around to the right decision.

The GOP Swamp Fever Worsens

As a former Republican from a family that once was almost unanimously Republican, watching the GOP become something that would make the inmates of an insane asylum look rational is disturbing.  Greed, intense hatred of those who are "other," an utter contempt for the less fortunate, and far right religious extremism are the hallmarks of today's GOP.  And driving this sickness is the party base dominated by Christofascists, white supremacists and Tea Party extremists.  Even worse, as the party lurches to the insane right, more and more moderates are fleeing leaving the inmates in the asylum as the king makers in terms of nominating candidates.  Andrew Sullivan looks at the phenomenon and summarizes the increasingly frightening aspects of the GOP as it exists today.  Here are highlights:

We have watched the possibility of Republican support for immigration reform rise and then dramatically fall, as Tom Edsall explains here in charting the decline in the fortunes of Marco Rubio as soon as he stood up for a path to citizenship. Christianists are seeking to end the ban on tax-exempt churches’ endorsing candidates. The recent Pew report found the following among regular Republican primary voters (in Edsall’s words):
Republicans who say that they always vote in primaries (and whose views consequently carry more weight) are much more in favor of their party’s turning in a more conservative direction. Data provided to the Times by Pew shows that 58 percent of Republicans who always vote in primaries advocate more conservative stands, while 37 percent call for moderation, a 21-point split. 

Insofar as support or opposition to immigration reform is a proxy for more or less positive attitudes toward Hispanics, the Pew study shows a decided tilt among Republicans. Thirty-six percent of Republican voters say that the party’s stance toward immigration is not conservative enough, compared with 17 percent who say it is too conservative. Crucially, among Republicans who always vote in primaries, the division shifts further to the right, 41-14.

In North Carolina, the state GOP has launched a brazen attempt to disenfranchise minority voters, acting more like Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood when they came to power rather than a moderate Western political party. And in Washington, Robert Costa is reporting that the House GOP won’t force a government shutdown this fall but that they will “instead use the debt limit and sequester fights as areas for potential legislative trades.” They are going to hold America’s credit-worthiness hostage again – even though such a debt limit crisis would be far more damaging to the economy than even a shutdown, as Chait notes here. But perhaps damaging the economy is the point. The GOP has to minimize any economic growth that might redound to Obama’s benefit - in order to discredit the policies that have obviously worked for the past five years in favor of policies that have been proven failures elsewhere.
We now have pretty solid evidence that the GOP will respond to Obama’s second term exactly as they did his first: total opposition to everything and anything the president supports, sabotage of the economy, and brutal gerry-mandering and voter suppression to give their white base one last chance at a majority. Actual policies? It’s hard to disagree with Newt Gingrich – and not just on healthcare.

I predicted it would get worse before it got better; what we now learn is that it will get worse before it gets worse before it gets better. And the real beneficiaries of this will likely not be the GOP – but Roger Ailes and Hillary Clinton.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that the GOP base lives in some bizarre alternate reality.    The base only hears to bubble echo chamber of Fox News and demagogues like Rush Limbaugh and would not recognize objective reality if it smacked them in the face.  I personally question the sanity of more and more of the GOP base.

California Supreme Court Again Rejects Prop. 8 Proponents' Arguments

The supporters of Proposition 8 continue to try to derail the striking down of their hate and animus based agenda.  Their latest attempt sought to claim that a U.S. District Court could not strike down a state wide constitutional amendment.  Like all of these hate merchants' other arguments, the California Supreme Court threw out their claims.  Should they continue to file frivolous petitions and lawsuits, one can only hope that the courts will start imposing sanctions on both the Prop 8 proponents and more importantly, their legal counsel.  The Los Angeles Times looks at this latest defeat.  Here are highlights:

The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to revive Proposition 8, ending the last remaining legal challenge to same-sex marriage in the state.

Meeting in closed session, the state high court rejected arguments  by ProtectMarriage, Proposition 8’s sponsors, that only an appellate court could overturn a statewide law.

A federal judge in San Francisco declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional in 2010, and state officials refused to appeal. ProtectMarriage did appeal, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that initiative sponsors have no right to defend their measures in federal court. The decision left in place the ruling by retired Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker.

In its challenge before the state’s highest court,  ProtectMarriage argued that a single judge lacked the authority to overturn a state constitutional amendment.  The group also contended that Walker’s injunction applied to two counties at most and that state officials had overstepped their authority by ordering county clerks throughout California to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

State officials countered that the challenge was a veiled attempt to persuade a state court to interfere with a federal judge’s order in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Same-sex couples began marrying in California in late June after a federal appeals court lifted a hold on Walker’s injunction. ProtectMarriage went back to the U.S. Supreme Court the following day, arguing the appeals court acted prematurely because the high court’s decision was not even final. The Supreme Court refused to intervene.

Then the group went to the state Supreme Court, asking the justices to halt the marriages immediately while considering the legal arguments. The seven-member court unanimously rejected the request for a “stay” or hold.

Let's be clear.  The Christofascists do not give a damn about the U.S. Constitution and the religious freedom rights of others.  Instead,  they seek to subvert the Constitution and impose a theocracy on America based on their sick, hate and fear based version of Christianity.  They remain a clear and present danger and need to be treated as a threat accordingly.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

More Thursday Male Beauty

WWE superstar Darren Young Comes Out

The Christofascists and their political whores in the Republican Party like to depict gays as mincing, effeminate men or drag queens, so it is always delicious when a public figure comes out and blows this carefully crafted and inaccurate stereotype utterly to Hell.  We can now add the name Darren Young (pictured above) to the list of individuals who have revealed the bogus nature of the gay stereotype promulgated by our enemies.  As TMZ reports, Young, a superstar in the WWE world just came out as gay.  Here are story highlights:

WWE superstar Darren Young just dropped a bombshell, telling TMZ, he's gay ... and no, this isn't part of the act.

Darren was at LAX Wednesday when we asked whether a gay wrestler could succeed in WWE, and Darren laughed, saying, "Absolutely. Look at me. I'm a WWE superstar and to be honest with you, I'll tell you right now, I'm gay. And I'm happy. I'm very happy."

For the record, Darren is now the first openly gay wrestler ever at WWE ... and the first headlining wrestler ever to come out while still signed to a major promotion.

Other pro wrestlers have been rumored to be gay, but that's it ... just rumors.

Bottom line: this is big, big news. For all its chauvinism and testosterone-driven bravado, coming out in WWE is tantamount to coming out in the NFL.

Of course, wrestling is a little different, particularly because of how physical it is, and how little clothing is involved -- but Darren is completely unfazed.
Young is also receiving full support from the WWE ... which says it's "proud of Darren Young for being open about his sexuality."

A rep for the organization adds, "We will continue to support him as a WWE Superstar.  Today, in fact, Darren will be participating in one of our Be A Star anti-bullying rallies in Los Angeles to teach children how to create positive environments for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation."

Tony Perkins, Bryan Fischer and other anti-gay hate merchants must be beside themselves.   I love it!!

Decline of Social Mobility Erodes the American Dream

The mythology of America is that anyone can make it here and escape their more humble beginnings and move up socially and financially.  Once upon a time this myth was largely true, but nowadays, if one wants to enjoy social mobility, one needs to leave America and move to "Old Europe" as the Neanderthals of the Republican Party and the Tea Party nit wits like to refer to Europe which now displays more possibilities for upward social mobility than America that seems to be headed back to the Gilded Age and a society with a handful of the "haves" and  vast multitudes of the "have nots."  A column in the Washington Post looks at America's increasingly bleak prospects for upward social  mobility.  What's especially telling is that the GOP wants to slash the support programs for the poor that might otherwise allow the poor to prosper.  It is the antithesis of the Gospel message that the Christofascist base of the GOP purports to worship and honor.  Here are excerpts:

The American dream at its core is that a person, no matter his or her background, can make it here. A few weeks ago, four economists at Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley released a path-breaking study of mobility within the United States. And last week the Journal of Economic Perspectives published a series of essays tackling the question from an international standpoint.

For more than a decade, it has been documented that Northern European countries do better at moving poor people up the ladder than the United States does. Some have dismissed these findings . . . . But Miles Corak of the University of Ottawa points out in his contribution to the Journal of Economic Perspectives that Canada is a very useful point of comparison, being much like the United States. (The percentage of foreign-born Canadians is actually higher than the percentage of foreign-born Americans, for example.) And recent research finds that people in Canada and Australia have twice the economic mobility of Americans. (The British are about the same as Americans but much worse than Canadians and Australians. )

The most important correlation in the Harvard-Berkeley study appears to be social capital. Cities with strong families, civic support groups and a community-service orientation do well on social and economic mobility. That’s why Salt Lake City — dominated by Mormons — has mobility levels that compare with Denmark’s. This would also explain why America in general fares badly; the United States has many more broken families, single parents and dysfunctional domestic arrangements than do Canada and Europe. The other notable feature in the Harvard-Berkeley study is the design of cities. Places that are segregated — where the poor live far from the middle class — do much worse than those that are more mixed.

That leaves the last large factor in explaining the low mobility: public policy. And here, Corak explains, the United States is the great outlier. Simply put, the United States spends much less on the education and well-being of poor people, especially poor children, than any other rich country — and that retards their chances of escaping poverty. 

[T]he well-off in the United States spend nearly $9,000 a year on books, computers, child care and summer camps — nearly seven times what families in the bottom fifth of earners spend. In fact, this is part of what makes mobility low.

In any event, what’s apparent is that countries — and most parts of the United States — that invest heavily in all their children’s health care, nutrition and education end up with a much stronger ladder of opportunity and access. And that’s something we can change. So if we want to restore the American dream, we now have the beginnings of a path forward.

I tease at times that today's GOP is the bridge to the 11th century, but the GOP's policies seem hell bent on reestablishing the wealth disparities of the Middle Ages, with most Americans becoming serfs and peasants.t 

Gingrich to GOP: We’ve Got a Problem

Much of the time Newt Gingrich is a loud mouth blow hard - a demagogue even.  But every once in a while he does get it right.  Such is the case with his criticism of the GOP obsession with obstructing Obamacare while offering nothing in its place. America's health care system is very broken and the least cost effective in its delivery of medical care of any developed nation.  Doing nothing is not an option, particularly if one is serious in reining in health care costs and government spending in programs like Medicare and Medicaid.  A column in the Washington Post looks at Gingrich's condemnation of the GOP House and other Cassandras who are advising that things need to change in the GOP mindset.  Here are excerpts:

There’s been lot of chatter today about these rather blunt remarks from Newt Gingrich about the perils of the GOP’s obsession with destroying Obamacare while refusing to offer any meaningful alternative:

“I will bet you, for most of you, you go home in the next two weeks when your members of Congress are home, and you look them in the eye and you say, ‘What is your positive replacement for Obamacare?’ They will have zero answer,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich blamed the problem on Republican culture that rewards obstruction and negativity instead of innovation and “being positive.”   “We are caught up right now in a culture, and you see it every single day, where as long as we are negative and as long as we are vicious and as long as we can tear down our opponent, we don’t have to learn anything,” Gingrich said, acknowledging the “totally candid” nature of his remarks. “We have to do the homework.”

It looks to me like there are enough data points out there to suggest that Republicans now recognize that their overall posture on Obamacare — not to mention on the president himself — is deeply problematic, and are seriously grappling with it at the highest levels of the party.

Just two days ago, the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore — whom Dems believe sometimes channels the thinking of GOP leaders — floated the radical idea that Republicans should point to the sequester and the falling deficit to declare victory in the spending wars, instead of provoking a costly and destructive government shutdown fight that would only help Obama and Dems.

And earlier this week, GOP strategists with direct experience of GOP midterm losses in 1998 told the also-well-connected Byron York that Republicans are at real risk of duplicating 1998′s mistakes. The strategists noted that Republicans ran relentlessly against Bill Clinton — even though he wasn’t on the ballot — and that this didn’t work; rather than gain seats, as is customary in the off year of an oppositional president’s second term, Republicans lost seats. York concluded that a similar outcome was possible next year “if Republicans stick to being an opposition party on the attack rather than the alternative party offering an agenda.”

Will the GOP change course?  Probably not given the reality that the party is now the hostage of the Christofascists and Tea Party loons who refuse to change with objective reality.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

U.S. Military Endorses Same-Sex Marriage

In addition to defending America, the U.S. military historically has been in the forefront of leading societal change be it racial integration, increased opportunities for women and now the embrace of same sex marriage.  Recent announcements by the Pentagon will have the Christofascists howling because they will allow same sex married couples to receive the same benefits as married heterosexual couples even if they are stationed in anti-gay states like Virginia.  Like big business, the military recognizes that across the board benefits for same sex couples is a plus for recruitment and retention.   A piece in Slate looks at soon to be implemented policies that will help solidify the acceptance of gay marriage over time.  Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins and other hate merchants will be surrounded by sheets of flying spittle.  Here are article highlights:

Today, the Pentagon has announced that it will grant the exact rights and benefits to married same-sex couples that it does to married straight couples, including housing and healthcare, a vast expansion of its previously announced plans to extend only meager perks to gay couples. Even more surprisingly, the military will offer a 10-day leave to gay couples stationed in a non-marriage state to travel to the 13 states plus Washington, D.C., to be legally wed.

Make no mistake: This is huge news, the biggest military-related LGBT victory since the repeal of Don’t Ask Don't Tell. Arguably, by the letter of U.S. v. Windsor, the Supreme Court’s decision striking down DOMA, the Pentagon is compelled to provide benefits to already-married same-sex spouses. But the marriage furlough is another matter altogether. To allow gay couples to leave the homophobic states in which they are stationed to gain equal rights—to encourage it, actually, by tethering it to a holiday—is a bold endorsement of marriage equality by the military.

And that endorsement will have broad repercussions throughout society. The DADT repeal has already improved the military by fostering better peer bonding and leadership among both gay and straight troops. But what’s less frequently discussed is its effect on society overall. Gay rights group targeted DADT because the military stood as the last bastion of entrenched, mainstream homophobia. Once gays could serve openly in the military, they believed, the noxious stereotype of gay people as hyper-sexed wimps would fall, as would many soldiers’ knee-jerk homophobia.
There’s no way to prove a direct causation between DADT repeal and the astounding spike in support for gay rights. But the successful drive to allow openly gay service members is indubitably a crucial pillar of the broader edifice the gay rights coalition has been building. Today’s policy announcement proves that no American institution is too reactionary to adjust to the changing climate of equality—that, in fact, such institutions can learn to take a leading role in the fight. And those decisions will reverberate throughout every tier of society for years to come.

Make no mistake, this new policy is a huge defeat for the Christofascists.

The GOP War on the Suburbs

If one looks at the agenda of the modern day Republican Party, its main focus is on tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations and a severe slashing of social programs and government infrastructure spending.  Ironically, these policies increasingly attack the suburbs which are the trues battleground for political victory.  Outside of rural areas and wealthy enclaves, it's the suburbs that elect Republicans.  Yet despite this reality, poverty is increasing in suburban areas and the GOP is adverse to any policies that might help the battered middle class.  The question becomes one of when will suburban voters realize that the GOP is actually their enemy.  A piece in Politico looks at the changes over taking the suburbs and the damage being done by the GOP's policies.  Here are excerpts:

[S]uburbs define our politics, too. While city dwellers overwhelmingly vote Democratic, and residents of small towns and rural areas vote for Republicans by large margins, suburbs are the quintessential political battlegrounds.

But now suburbs are helping define another American phenomenon: poverty. Over the past decade, America’s major suburbs have become home to the largest and fastest-growing poor population in the country. Between 2000 and 2011, the number of poor residents in suburbia grew by almost two-thirds, or 64 percent — more than double the pace of poverty growth in the large cities that anchor these regions. For the first time, more poor people in America live in suburbs than in big cities.

Despite poverty’s increasing suburbanization and bipartisan character, it is not exactly catching fire as a key issue on Capitol Hill. One recent debate in which poverty has surfaced most prominently concerns the reauthorization of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, with the House GOP leadership advancing a proposal to cut $40 billion in spending over 10 years. The burden of those cuts would fall more squarely on suburbs than ever now that 55 percent of SNAP participants in major metro areas live in suburbs. Programs like SNAP, the Earned Income Tax Credit and Medicaid already deliver the majority of their benefits to suburban communities, many of which are squarely in the GOP column.

The ways in which the current system approaches initiatives such as neighborhood economic development, community health centers and affordable housing construction are often a poor fit for suburban areas where poverty is more spread out, public and nonprofit capacity is thin and hundreds of small municipalities routinely compete with one another rather than collaborate to address shared challenges like growing poverty.
Over the past few decades, poverty has become an increasingly structural feature of the American economy. In all likelihood, suburban poverty is here to stay. The battleground character of suburbs could set the stage for more ideological trench warfare and gridlock over federal anti-poverty policy and a suburban replay of the challenges that have beleaguered our inner cities over the last few decades. Or it could spur a bipartisan effort to convert top-down federal programs of old into support for new bottom-up solutions to urban and suburban poverty alike. The future of suburbs — as an American ideal and political keystone — may hang in the balance.

Court Rejects Scott Lively's Dismisssal Motion in Crimes Against Humanity Lawsuit

Good news out of Massachusetts: in the lawsuit against anti-gay extremist Scott Lively (who has exported anti-gay hatred to Uganda and Russia), a federal judge has refused to dismiss the case and ruled that a federal judge ruled that persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is a crime against humanity and that the fundamental human rights of LGBT individuals are protected under international law.  Expect the Christofascists to shriek and whine that their "religious freedom" is under attack.  Their agenda is all about inflicting their poisonous beliefs on all and punishing those who do not conform to their ugly, bigoted beliefs.  Here are details from the Center For Constitutional Rights which has joined in to bring the lawsuit (a copy of the Court's ruing is here):

Today, in a first-of-its kind case brought by a Ugandan LGBTI advocacy organization against a prominent U.S. anti-gay extremist, a federal judge ruled that persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is a crime against humanity and that the fundamental human rights of LGBTI people are protected under international law. The ruling means that the case brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG), a Uganda-based coalition of LGBTI rights and advocacy groups, can move forward over defendant Scott Lively’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.

“Widespread, systematic persecution of LGBTI people constitutes a crime against humanity that unquestionably violates international norms,” said Judge Michael Ponsor. “The history and current existence of discrimination against LGBTI people is precisely what qualifies them as a distinct targeted group eligible for protection under international law. The fact that a group continues to be vulnerable to widespread, systematic persecution in some parts of the world simply cannot shield one who commits a crime against humanity from liability.”
The lawsuit alleges that Lively’s actions over the past decade, in collaboration with key Ugandan government officials and religious leaders, are responsible for depriving LGBTI Ugandans of their fundamental human rights based solely on their identity, which is the definition of persecution under international law and is deemed a crime against humanity. This effort bore fruit most notably in the introduction of the notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill (aka the Kill the Gays bill), which Lively helped engineer.
Lively has also been active in countries like Russia where a new law criminalizing gay rights advocacy was recently passed. In 2007, Lively toured 50 cities in Russia recommending some of the measures that are now law.
Said CCR Attorney Pam Spees, “We are gratified that the court recognized the persecution and the gravity of the danger faced by our clients as a result of Scott Lively’s actions. Lively’s single-minded campaign has worked to criminalize their very existence, strip away their fundamental rights and threaten their physical safety.”

I hope Lively is ultimately found guilty and that at a minimum, Lively deserves a lengthy prison sentence.  Personally, an even harsher sentence would be most welcome. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

More Wednesday Male Beauty

HRBOR August 15, 2013 Networking Event

I hope that local readers will make an effort to join HRBOR tomorrow in Virginia Beach as our Third Thursday Business Networking Event takes HRBOR members to Planned Parenthood in Virginia Beach. To RSVP for this event simply  register for the event at  Here are details on the event:

Where: 515 Newtown Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23462    (757) 499-7526

When: Thursday August 15th, 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Bar Sponsor: Janet McCaskey, McCaskey & Associates

Food Sponsor: Planned Parenthood

Featured Non-Profit: Planned Parenthood

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

Invite friends and colleagues.

Planned Parenthood® of Southeastern Virginia is a non-profit organization that recognizes the importance of maintaining reproductive health and family planning, and their impact on our future. Therefore, they provide high-quality, low-cost reproductive health and family planning services to the women, men and teens of Hampton Roads.

They also provide comprehensive sex education programs to area community organizations, faith-based organizations, colleges and universities, after-school programs and many others.

Pro-Gay States Luring Discriminated Couples to Relocate

Numerous posts on this blog have tracked research that underscores that a thriving gay community is one of the hallmarks of cities and localities that attract the so-called creative class.  Similar research has led to the formulation of a "gay index" which shows that a large population of gays correlates with high tech businesses.  States like Virginia and North Carolina go out of their way to make life intolerable for gays and have written anti-gay discrimination into their laws.  Now, as Bloomberg reports, gay friendly states are seeking to lure gays to relocate from their hostile home states and to bring their talents and assets to those gay friendly states.  Here are articles from Bloomberg:

Hans Bernhard and Mitch Null say they may leave North Carolina -- taking their daughter, their jobs as a veterinarian and an information technology business operations manager at Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) and the tax revenue from their properties.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, the couple is considering moving to Maryland, where they could have a recognized marriage and guaranteed access to the related federal benefits. Bernhard could also become a lawful father to the couple’s 1-year-old daughter, Eva, since North Carolina law prevents residents from adopting a child if they aren’t married to the legal parent.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia, making up 34 percent of gross domestic product, have legalized same-sex marriage, including Minnesota and Rhode Island, where laws took effect Aug. 1.

Bernhard and Null’s dilemma illustrates the economic benefits and consequences of a state’s same-sex marriage policy. Following the Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling, gay rights proponents and some economic development officials say states with gay-friendly laws can leverage them for financial gain, while those with prohibitive policies will miss out. 

The Supreme Court ruling will force some states to examine whether it’s worth losing out on talent and businesses that are attracted to areas that allow same-sex marriages, said Richard Florida, a professor at the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management. Acceptance of gay communities signals cultural openness and attracts highly educated people and innovators, Florida wrote in his 2002 book “The Rise of the Creative Class.” 

Welcoming all people is necessary for states that want to “flourish economically and be an engine for innovation,” Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook Inc. and a native of Hickory, North Carolina, said in an e-mail. Hughes, now the editor-in-chief and publisher of the New Republic magazine, wrote an open letter to the North Carolina General Assembly in 2011 opposing the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. 

Entrepreneurs are very careful when deciding where to start a company,” said Hughes, who now lives in Shokan, New York, with his husband Sean Eldridge. “Building a business in a state that denies basic rights to LGBT couples is difficult to justify to potential employees -- straight or gay.”

It all is actually common sense.  Not that common sense means much to lunatics like Cuccinelli and the hate merchants at The Family Foundation.

Ken Cuccinelli Seeks to Amend Virginia Constitution To Allow Taxpayer Funding of Religious Schools

I have said for a long time that GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli is a religious extremists who if given his way would destroy the separation of church and state handed down from the Founding Fathers.  Now, Cuccinelli is proposing that the Virginia Constitution be amended to allow taxpayer funding of religious schools thereby diverting funding from the Commonwealth's public schools.  This type of proposal was anathema to the Founding Fathers who wanted to established religion and no mandatory public support of of sectarian institutions.  In contrast, what Cuccinelli is proposes gives the theocrats at The Family Foundation a veritable wet dream.  Here are highlights from Think Progress:

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R), his party’s nominee in this November’s gubernatorial election, unveiled a 12-point education plan Tuesday. Among his proposals: Virginia should amend its constitution to allow public funding for religious education.

Cuccinelli, who has blasted the Catholic Church for creating a “culture of dependency on government, not God,” proposed that Virginia should divert taxpayer funds from public education to parochial school vouchers. He claimed that the separation of church and state provisions in Article IV, Section 16 of Virginia’s constitution were merely anti-Catholic bigotry:
Virginia has provisions in its constitution that explicitly bar government aid to “sectarian” schools or institutions, including the so-called Blaine Amendment. The Blaine Amendment was passed as a result of anti-Catholic bigotry in American politics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, which made clear that the federal Constitution permits aid through school choice programs, Virginia’s Blaine Amendment restricts the ability to enact broad-based school choice programs. A state constitutional amendment is needed that is narrowly drafted to allow for school choice programs that do not restrict parents’ choices about what is best for each of their children.
  [P]ublic finding to any sectarian institutions . . . [is] explicitly prohibited by Virginia’s constitution.

While the nation and Virginia were founded on the belief that religions should be free from government interference in teaching their beliefs, it has also been the longstanding view that the government should not pay for religions to do so.

Cuccinelli seemingly ignores his [Thomas Jefferson's] 1779 Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom. In that law, passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 1786, Jefferson wrote, “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical,” and that “even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness.”

Jefferson's Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom is still part of the Code of Virginia even though the GOP controlled General Assembly has repeatedly ignored its principles and enacted blatantly religious based laws that marginalize gays and others who do not conform to Christofascist religious beliefs.  Here are more quotes from the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom which is one of three things Jefferson wanted to be remembered for (the other two are founding the University of Virginia and authoring the Declaration of Independence):

Almighty God hath created the mind free,and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from theplan of the Holy author of our religion, . .

the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time . . .

to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own . . . .

What Jefferson so eloquently condemned is precisely what Cuccinelli and the extremists at The Family Foundation seek to inflict on all Virginians.  Cuccinelli MUST be defeated in November.  Otherwise, the days of religious freedom for all in Virginia is numbered.