Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

GOP's Darrell Issa - A Failed Would be Modern Day Joe McCarthy

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Not only do many in the Republican Party want to take the nation back to the Gilded Age with all of its abuses of the poor and working classes, but some Republicans in Congress also seem to want to return to the days of Joe McCarthy and the trampling on rights of citizens.  A case in point?  The always despicable Darrell Issa.  Thankfully, the effort seems to be failing. A column in the Washington Post looks at Issa's demagoguery.  Here are excerpts:

I have here in my hand a list of six people who think Darrell Issa is a fellow traveler of Joseph McCarthy. I compiled these names while watching Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, lead his panel’s proceedings Thursday to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress.

[T]he Democrats are wrong. Darrell Issa is no Joe McCarthy.  It’s not for lack of trying. As I’ve noted, the California Republican, during his lamentable tenure running the committee, has been reckless, dishonest, vain and prone to making unsubstantiated accusations. 

But Issa’s McCarthyism is a faint echo of the real thing, for one very important reason. McCarthy was feared; Issa isn’t taken seriously. This is a rare bit of good news about modern politics: It’s a bad time to be a demagogue.

There may be some who fear Issa, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) or other practitioners of neo-McCarthyism. But at least as many are unafraid to call these men dangerous or buffoons. This is largely because there is no enemy that poses the sort of threat the Soviet Union did. But there is also a felicitous side effect of the polarization of the two parties: Because there is no longer ideological overlap, as there was in the 1950s, Democrats are unafraid to challenge the likes of Issa.

Strains of demagoguery run through both parties, of course.
On the right, Cruz has specialized in McCarthy-like allegations, suggesting, for example, that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel may have been on the payroll of Saudi Arabia or North Korea.
But in neither case is the opposition intimidated by the allegations.

Consider the efforts of Issa, who famously said the IRS targeting of conservative groups was “coordinated in all likelihood right out of Washington headquarters — and we’re getting to proving it.” Instead, he ended up fixing blame on Lerner, a career employee at the IRS who took the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions from Issa’s committee. Issa claimed she had waived her Fifth Amendment rights, and this week his committee voted to hold her in contempt.

The way to fight McCarthyism is to denounce its purveyors — ad hominem and ad infinitum.

Mark Herring Files 4th Circuit Brief Stating Virginia's Gay Marriage Ban is Unconstitutional

In follow up to his last minute filing in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, yesterday Attorney General Mark Herring file his brief in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals where Bostic v. Rainey is on appeal.  The new brief follows the lower court filing and directly states that Virginia's anti-gay animus motivated Marshall-Newman Amendment is unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the United States Constitution.  This is the same theme we have seen in case after case where state bans on same sex marriage have been ruled unconstitutional.  Here are selected highlights from the 79 page brief (which can be viewed in full here):

Virginia’s same-sex-marriage ban violates the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Because the ban substantially interferes with the right to marry, it is subject to strict scrutiny. The ban also discriminates on the basis of gender and sexual orientation, triggering at least heightened scrutiny. All of the considerations apply here for the judiciary to be suspicious of laws that discriminate against gay people. And the Clerks’ claim that the ban treats men and women equally is like saying that interracial-marriage bans treat blacks and white equally, an argument rejected by the Supreme Court.

The ban cannot satisfy the rational-basis test, let alone more demanding scrutiny. McQuigg’s claim that the purpose of marriage is to channel couples into a procreative relationship for the benefit of children is belied by controlling Supreme Court authority that marriage protects those choosing not to procreate and those who are unable to. And the Clerks’ argument fails the rational-basis test because it is irrational to think that prohibiting gay people from marrying will make heterosexual couples more like to marry and have children.

The Clerks’ position cannot be reconciled with the Supreme Court’s three decisions to date protecting the rights of gay people.

The Clerk’s slippery-slope arguments are the same ones used to oppose interracial marriage in 1967; they are no more persuasive today than then. And just as in 1967, the Court should not wait to protect the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights simply because political trends suggest that the public increasingly supports marriage equality.

Like the court below, every other federal court to consider that question since last term’s decision in United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013), has nvalidated State bans or State anti-recognition provisions.

The Clerks argue that the fundamental right to marry is not implicated here because same-sex marriage is not fundamental and was unknown to the Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment. (Schaefer Br. 34; McQuigg Br. 30-31.) Fundamental constitutional rights cannot be defined away so easily.  The nearly identical argument was rejected in Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), where the Court struck down Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage, despite that it had been in effect since “the colonial period.”

In Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996), the Court struck down an amendment to Colorado’s constitution that prohibited localities from enacting laws to protect gay people from discrimination; the Court concluded that the amendment failed “even . . . conventional” rational basis review. 517 U.S. at 632. In 2003, the Court in Lawrence struck down Texas’s prohibition of consensual sodomy, concluding that the “statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual.” 539 U.S. at 578 (emphasis added). And last year in Windsor, the Court invalidated § 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), 1 U.S.C. § 7, explaining that the “purpose and effect” of the law was “to disparage and to injure” same-sex couples whose marriages had been lawfully entered into in another jurisdiction. 133 S. Ct. at 2696. The Court did not have to decide the level of scrutiny to apply to sexual-orientation discrimination, having found no legitimate State interest in any of these cases.

In Loving, Virginia’s Attorney General claimed that the Commonwealth’s ban on interracial marriage treated the races equally because Virginia “punished equally both the white and the Negro participants in an interracial marriage.” 388 U.S. at 8. McQuigg cannot persuasively distinguish that aspect of Loving from this case.
The actions taken to date by Mark Herring - who the boyfriend and I supported vigorously, including holding a fundraiser at our home (see below) - demonstrates that elections do matter and that EVERY vote matters.  Had Mark Obenshain been elected instead of Herring, he would be doing all in his power to support the religious and animus based Marshall-Newman Amendment.  Staying home on election day is never the correct option.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Morning Male Beauty

What Plantation Is Jim DeMint Living On?

Lunacy seems to be the main attribute of Republicans.  Here in Virginia we have Bob Marshall and Ken Cuccinelli and at the national level there's former - thank god it's "former - U.S. Senator Jim DeMint who now heads up the Heritage Foundation.  DeMint recently caused controversy through utterly insane statements he made about slavery and who brought freedom to American blacks.  Once upon a time the Heritage Foundation had some credibility - it came up with the blue print for Romneycare and ultimately, Obamacare - but now it has moved off into "La La Land" under DeMint.  A piece in The Daily Beast looks at DeMint's batshitery.  Here are highlights:

I once had this idea for a play about God, a comedy, in which the audience would be introduced to a series of casuists and charlatans and braggarts and bloviators, and they’d be carrying on, lecturing away on topics large and small with serene self-confidence. There’d be the sound of thunder and perhaps a puff of smoke, and from the wings, God would appear. He or She would, over the course of the three acts, take on numerous corporeal forms—white man, black woman, Asian man, Arab woman, et cetera—but in each guise would admonish the speaker: “No, asshole. You’re totally wrong. How do I know? Because I’m God, and you’re wrong.” 

I don’t know if I’ve ever wished it more than I did two days ago, when Jim DeMint, the ex-senator and Heritage Foundation head who defines the words casuist and charlatan and braggart and bloviator and about 262 others that are worse, said that the federal government of the United States did nothing to end slavery. The salient words:
Well the reason that the slaves were eventually freed was the Constitution, it was like the conscience of the American people. Unfortunately, there were some court decisions like Dred Scott and others that defined some people as property, but the Constitution kept calling us back to ‘all men are created equal and we have inalienable rights’ in the minds of God. But a lot of the move to free the slaves came from the people, it did not come from the federal government.
I beg of you, don’t do DeMint the honor of thinking him merely stupid. He’s probably that, in some way. Certainly those sentences add up to a mountain of stupid, a Himalayan range of it. Yet at the same time, a statement this insane can’t be propelled merely by stupidity. A denial of reality this whole, this pure, requires, I think, some thought, some premeditation. Dwell with me on this for the moment.

Today’s radical conservatives like DeMint want to destroy government. This means in the first instance discrediting everything government does in the present. That, we’re all plenty familiar with. It’s a lot of what we fight about all the time.

But the project also includes history—proving that nothing good that ever happened in history was done by the government.
How, as a radical conservative today, and especially a Southern one, and especially one from the state (South Carolina) that started the Civil War (first to advance nullification, first to secede, first shots fired), are you supposed to explain that war? And how are you supposed to explain slavery? Tough ones. If you ever visit any of those crackpot websites I look at sometimes, you’ve seen, for example, the commonly advanced idea that the Civil War wasn’t really about slavery, it was about states’ rights and economics and so on. I guarantee you that notion will show up pretty quickly in this very comment thread.

DeMint’s “conscience of the American people” x’s out of history the Emancipation Proclamation, which strikes me as an act of the federal government (a presidential order); also the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery and, as an amendment to the Constitution, was surely an action of the government. It also x’s out the war itself, fought to the end, no matter what today’s Confederate revisionists say, to wipe out slavery once and for all.

DeMint doesn’t have a legitimate difference of opinion. He has a wholly ideological one, designed not to spur historical debate but to justify his miserly posture toward contemporary politics.And so every sentence that came out of his mouth was just utter nonsense. But not just that--premeditated, pernicious, and malicious nonsense, spun to serve contemporary ends like fighting the delivery of health coverage to millions.

As I have said before, I increasingly do not see how decent people can remain Republicans.  As for DeMint, he conveniently ignores how the Southern Baptist Convention came into being - to protect and maintain slavery.

The GOP's Continued War on Health Care Reform and Poor Americans

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With enrollments up under the Affordable Health Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare, and the number of uninsured Americans dropping, the GOP nonetheless continues its war on the program and under Paul Ryan's "steal from the poor and give to the rich" budget plan - which all of Virginia's GOP Congressman supported, including Scott Rigell - the number of uninsured Americans would skyrocket.  As for any alternative plan, the GOP doesn't have one other than to maintain a highly costly and inefficient system where the uninsured use hospital emergency rooms as their source of health care, thus driving up the write offs of non-profit hospitals and increasing the charges billed to everyone else.  A column in the New York Times looks at the GOP's failed approach to health care.  Here are excerpts:

When it comes to health reform, Republicans suffer from delusions of disaster. They know, just know, that the Affordable Care Act is doomed to utter failure, so failure is what they see, never mind the facts on the ground.

Thus, on Tuesday, Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, dismissed the push for pay equity as an attempt to “change the subject from the nightmare of Obamacare”; on the same day, the nonpartisan RAND Corporation released a study estimating “a net gain of 9.3 million in the number of American adults with health insurance coverage from September 2013 to mid-March 2014.” Some nightmare.

It will be months before we have a full picture, but it’s clear that the number of uninsured Americans has already dropped significantly — not least in Mr. McConnell’s home state. It appears that around 40 percent of Kentucky’s uninsured population has already gained coverage, and we can expect a lot more people to sign up next year.

Republicans clearly have no idea how to respond to these developments. They can’t offer any real alternative to Obamacare, because you can’t achieve the good stuff in the Affordable Care Act, like coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions, without also including the stuff they hate . . . Their political strategy has been to talk vaguely about replacing reform while waiting for its inevitable collapse. And what if reform doesn’t collapse? They have no idea what to do.

At the state level, however, Republican governors and legislators are still in a position to block the act’s expansion of Medicaid, denying health care to millions of vulnerable Americans. And they have seized that opportunity with gusto . . .

What’s amazing about this wave of rejection is that it appears to be motivated by pure spite. The federal government is prepared to pay for Medicaid expansion, so it would cost the states nothing, and would, in fact, provide an inflow of dollars.  . . . . . The Medicaid-rejection states “are willing to sacrifice billions of dollars of injections into their economy in order to punish poor people. It really is just almost awesome in its evilness.” 

And while supposed Obamacare horror stories keep on turning out to be false, it’s already quite easy to find examples of people who died because their states refused to expand Medicaid. According to one recent study, the death toll from Medicaid rejection is likely to run between 7,000 and 17,000 Americans each year.

But nobody expects to see a lot of prominent Republicans declaring that rejecting Medicaid expansion is wrong, that caring for Americans in need is more important than scoring political points against the Obama administration. As I said, there’s an extraordinary ugliness of spirit abroad in today’s America, which health reform has brought out into the open.
7,000 to 17,000 needless deaths - today's GOP is a truly ugly phenomenon.  The GOP likes to talk about "death panels," but the real death panels are Republican legislators blocking Medicaid expansion.  They truly want the poor to simply die and go away.


Del. Bob Marshall - Still A Vile individual

I continue to wonder WTF is wrong with voters in Del. Bob Marshall's district that they continue to reelect such a vile and misogynistic  individual the the Virginia House of Delegates.  There seem to be few demographics that Marshall doesn't despise other than white, male conservative Christians.   Worse yet, Marshall makes no apologies for his vile statements and seemingly wears them as a sick badge of honor.  The man needs a serious mental health intervention, not election to public office where he routinely makes Virginia a laughing stock on the national and international stage.  Yet, Marshall remains the true face of the party base of today's Republican Party of Virginia.  The Washington Times looks at Marshall's continued war on women, gays and modernity itself.  Here are excerpts:

Delegate Robert G. Marshall has said that disabled children can be God’s vengeance against women who have had abortions. He has described incest as sometimes voluntary, and he has questioned the sexuality of a Supreme Court justice who has favored marriage equality.

But unlike W. Todd Akin, whose offhanded reference to “legitimate rape” cost the GOP a winnable Senate seat from Missouri in 2012, Mr. Marshall is unbowed over his history of controversial rhetoric as he seeks a seat in Congress representing Northern Virginia.

“I don’t care. I mean, if I say something in public, I say it in public,” Mr. Marshall said Thursday.

Democrats, who have built dossiers aggregating the delegate’s more outrageous statements from recent years, have been salivating at the prospect of his emergence from a GOP primary field this month seeking to replace retiring Rep. Frank R. Wolf.

Unlike Mr. Akin, who appeared to be speaking extemporaneously when he said women’s bodies know how to “shut down” pregnancies in cases of “legitimate rape,” Mr. Marshall’s comments aren’t gaffes.
“For all I know, [Justice Anthony] Kennedy’s a homosexual,” he said. “You can’t be doing some of these things without this kind of conclusion.”  Like many of his other comments, Mr. Marshall stands by it.  “Clearly, some of the people who are making these decisions must be rationalizing their own bad behavior,” he said Thursday.

In 2010, at an event calling for an end to state funding for Planned Parenthood, Mr. Marshall suggested that women who have abortions are more likely to face “vengeance” from “nature” in children with a greater likelihood of having developmental disabilities.
The author of a 1989 Boston Globe column asked him about his opposition to all abortion — even in cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother. Mr. Marshall, then the research director for the American Life League, posed a baffling question of his own in response.  “What if incest is voluntary?” Mr. Marshall said. “Sometimes it is.”
Although only scant polling has been conducted in his current race, Mr. Marshall says he thinks he has solid support in the April 26 firehouse primary — a contest in which he is working to leverage his outsider status.

I hope Marshall gets the nomination and then goes down in total defeat.  The sooner Marshall is forced into permanent political retirement, the better off Virginians and Virginia will be.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

More Thursday Male Beauty

Utah - State's Last Minute Brief Says Ignore Everything We Said About Mark Regnerus

As previous posts have noted, both professional associations and the federal judge in the Michigan marriage ruling have been brutal in their evisceration of Mark Regnerus and his right wing hate group funded supposed study on gay parenting.  Even the Sociology Department at the University of Texas has sought to distance itself from Regnerus and his "study."  Now, the State of Utah has filed a supplemental brief in the same sex marriage case pending before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that in essence says "ignore everything we said relying on Mark Regnerus and his work."  As noted before, I cannot help but wonder when the University of Texas will find some basis to fire Regnerus.  But back to the new brief filed by the State of Utah.  Here are highlights via Joe My God:
On the eve of oral arguments before the Tenth Circuit Court, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes filed a last minute brief that totally dismisses the state's previous reliance on the work of discredited researcher Mark Regnerus.

Utah files this supplemental letter in response to recent press reports and analysis of the study by Professor Mark Regnerus, which the State cited at footnotes 34 and 42 of its Opening Brief, and which addresses the debate over whether same-sex parenting produces child outcomes that are comparable to man-woman parenting.

First, we wish to emphasize the very limited relevance to this case of the comparison addressed by Professor Regnerus. As the State’s briefing makes clear, the State’s principal concern is the potential long-term impact of a redefinition of marriage on the children of heterosexual parents. The debate over man-woman versus same-sex parenting has little if any bearing on that issue, given that being raised in a same-sex household would normally not be one of the alternatives available to children of heterosexual parents.

Second, on the limited issue addressed by the Regnerus study, the State wishes to be clear about what that study (in the State’s view) does and does not establish. The Regnerus study did not examine as its sole focus the outcomes of children raised in same-sex households but, because of sample limitations inherent in the field of study at this point, examined primarily children who acknowledged having a parent who had engaged in a same-sex relationship. Thus, the Regnerus study cannot be viewed as conclusively establishing that raising a child in a same-sex household produces outcomes that are inferior to those produced by man-woman parenting arrangements.
Ouch!!  The bottom line is that Regnerus happily sold his soul to the Witherspoon Institute and created a "study" that would confirm that organization's predetermined anti-gay conclusion.  Regnerus' self-prostitution has now come full circle to bite him in the ass and perhaps usher in the end of his career at any legitimate university.  I find it extremely difficult to have any sympathy for Regnerus who showed less integrity than the tawdriest whore, in my opinion

Quote of the Day: Torture - The Defining Moment for America and the GOP

There are times that I vehemently disagree with Andrew Sullivan who I had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago.  His wrongheaded defense of Brendan Eich is but one case in point.   His continued behavior as little more than a fluffer for Pope Francis is another.  But from time to time Sullivan zeros in and gets it right dead on.  This is particularly true in the contact of the soon to be released U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Report on the war crimes of the last administration which is nearing publication.  The report will likely be an indictment of George W. Bush, Dick Chaney and others in the Bush/Cheney regime who made a mockery of the Geneva Conventions and authorized torture policies that are little different than those who brought severe punishment down on members of the Nazi regime and members of Japan's World War II military establishment.  Ultimately, if Bush, Cheney and others go unpunished, America can truly no longer claim to be a decent, civilized country that abides by international law.  Indeed, America will be no better than its foulest enemies.  Here are highlights of Sullivan's spot on analysis:
As the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on the war crimes of the last administration nears publication (if the CIA doesn’t censor it to shreds), you can begin to hear the stirrings of some kind of reckoning with the past. As the years have gone by, the incontestable fact that the Bush administration tore up the Geneva Conventions, brazenly broke domestic and international law, and unleashed a wave of abuse and torture and mistreatment of prisoners, has been harder and harder to deny.

The law against torture is absolute. There is never any defense of it because of perceived utility. Dick Cheney keeps boasting and bragging of the torture program he invented for the first time in American history, publicly admitting a war crime for which there is no statute of limitations in domestic and international law.

But the one place where the debate has not really broken out is in the political party that embraced those war crimes – the GOP.  . . . . Very few Republican writers want to confront the topic; Charles Krauthammer actually favors the setting up of a specific torture unit, without pondering whether its shirts should be brown. Torture enthusiasts, like Marc Thiessen, are given perches at the Washington Post, while war criminals like Cheney and Hayden are given endless platforms on the Sunday morning talk shows. 

But if Rand Paul runs for president, a debate will surely have to break out. David Corn – is David trying to kill off Paul’s candidacy or trumpet it? - digs not so deep again to discover unequivocal hostility to the torture of the Bush-Cheney years in some interviews Paul did in 2009.

The good thing about this stance – and the real promise of a Rand Paul candidacy – is that it will force an honest debate in the GOP. No more denialist bullshit about “EIT”s; no more pussy-footing around the fact that of course what was done was torture; and a demand for clarity about whether a future Republican president would seek to finally consign the Geneva Conventions in the trash-heap of history or whether he or she will return to the traditions of George Washington and the civilized world. We may get the wrong answer from the GOP nominee. But at least we will know where we are. And whether Americans care any more about an embrace of the barbarism so often exhibited by our enemies.
Again, I make no bones about the fact that, in my view, Bush, Cheney and others need to be tried for war crimes and, if convicted, punished severely - .  Then and only then can America claim to hold a high moral ground.  

War Criminal

Obama Ties LBJ's Civil Rights Legacy to LGBT Americans

In a speech at the Civil Rights Summit at Johnson's presidential library in Austin this week marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act, Barack Obama tied the civil rights legislation spearheaded by Lyndon B. Johnson with today's struggle for full LGBT equality.  While the Christofascists - and their trained circus dog minions within the ranks of black pastors - disingenuously whine that the civil rights movement of the 1960's is not synonymous with push for legal equality and non-discrimination protections for LGBT citizens, it is telling that the ancestors of today's hate merchants similarly used the Bible to justify racism and anti-black discrimination.  MetroWeekly looks at Obama's comments (which sadly would be more meaningful and believable if Obama would sign an executive order ENDA).  Here are highlights:

President Barack Obama embraced Lyndon B. Johnson's civil rights legacy Thursday in a speech that credited the former president with helping to open the doors to equality for countless Americans, including those who are LGBT. 

"Because of the Civil Rights movement, because of the laws President Johnson signed, new doors of opportunity and education swung open for everybody -- not all at once, but they swung open," Obama said. "Not just blacks and whites, but also women and Latinos; and Asians and Native Americans; and gay Americans and Americans with a disability. They swung open for you, and they swung open for me. And that’s why I'm standing here today -- because of those efforts, because of that legacy."

Obama's speech at the Civil Rights Summit at Johnson's presidential library in Austin marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act was not the first time the nation's first African-American president has tied the Civil Rights movement to the LGBT-rights movement.

"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall," Obama said during his second inaugural address, repeating a phrase he used during a Barnard College commencement speech in May 2012.

When Obama marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington last August, he said that those who came to Washington in 1963 pushed the nation forward. "Because they marched, America became more free and more fair -- not just for African Americans, but for women and Latinos, Asians and Native Americans; for Catholics, Jews, and Muslims; for gays, for Americans with a disability," Obama said. "America changed for you and for me."

Where Obama has come up short — in refusing to sign an executive order protecting LGBT federal contractors from workplace discrimination — he has faced heightened criticism, in large part because of how out of character it is from his broader civil rights record. That proposed executive order, which Obama once supported as a candidate for president in 2008, is based on Executive Order 11246, which has been expanded by a number of presidents to prohibit federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

In light of the setting for Obama's speech today, it is worth noting that executive order was first signed by President Johnson.
Obama's LGBT-rights legacy is certainly not lost on the president. And arguably nor is the work left to be done.
I am not ungrateful for the pro-gay things that Obama has done, but it would indeed be nice if he followed through on something he pledged to do 8six years ago.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Papyrus Referring to Jesus’s Wife Likely Authentic

A fragment of papyrus, known as the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife”
New history discoveries and science continue to show themselves to be worst enemies of the supposedly "inerrant" Bible.  The human genome project has shown that Adam and Eve never existed as historical individuals, archeology work has raised questions about the true nature of King David's kingdom, the Flood myth predates the Old Testament and comes from ancient Sumer, and an ancient piece of papyrus is again raising questions about Jesus' marital status.  All of this leads to the conclusion that the authors of the Bible - and we have no idea who they really were - massaged and manipulated the story line to fit their own purposes and agenda.  The New York Times has a follow up piece on the papyrus first unveiled in 2012 that would indicate that Jesus was married - so much for the claim that his bride was "the Church."  Here are highlights:

A faded fragment of papyrus known as the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,” which caused an uproar when unveiled by a Harvard Divinity School historian in 2012, has been tested by scientists who conclude in a journal published on Thursday that the ink and papyrus are very likely ancient, and not a modern forgery.

Skepticism about the tiny scrap of papyrus has been fierce because it contained a phrase never before seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife...’ ” Too convenient for some, it also contained the words “she will be able to be my disciple,” a clause that inflamed the debate in some churches over whether women should be allowed to be priests.

The papyrus fragment has now been analyzed by professors of electrical engineering, chemistry and biology at Columbia University, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who reported that it resembles other ancient papyri from the fourth to the eighth centuries. (Scientists at the University of Arizona, who dated the fragment to centuries before the birth of Jesus, concluded that their results were unreliable.)

The test results do not prove that Jesus had a wife or disciples who were women, only that the fragment is more likely a snippet from an ancient manuscript than a fake, the scholars agree. Karen L. King, the historian at Harvard Divinity School who gave the papyrus its name and fame, has said all along that it should not be regarded as evidence that Jesus married, only that early Christians were actively discussing celibacy, sex, marriage and discipleship.

Dr. King presented the fragment with fanfare at a conference in Rome in September 2012, but was besieged by criticism because the content was controversial, the lettering was suspiciously splotchy, the grammar was poor, its provenance was uncertain, its owner insisted on anonymity and its ink had not been tested.

An editorial in the Vatican’s newspaper also declared it a fake.

The “Jesus’s Wife” papyrus was analyzed at Columbia University using micro-Raman spectroscopy to determine the chemical composition of the ink. James T. Yardley, a professor of electrical engineering, said in an interview that the carbon black ink on this fragment was “perfectly consistent with another 35 or 40 manuscripts that we’ve looked at,” that date from 400 B.C. to A.D. 700 or 800.

[T]he scientists say that modern carbon black ink looks very different under their instruments. And Dr. King said that her “big disappointment” is that so far, the story of the fragment has focused on forgery, not on history.

I continue to believe that the fundamentalists will be the death of Christianity.  Already they are driving some one-third of the Millennial generation from religion.  Clinging to a literally interpretation of Old Testament writings of ignorant, unknown authors is nothing but suicidal in the long run.  The same holds true to the New Testament which was cobbled together by early church leaders who had their own agenda and who systematically sought to eliminate anything that contradicted their agenda. 

Charleston Gazette: West Virginia Attorney General on Wrong Side of History

Virginia has a relationship with West Virginia much like that which Alabama has with Mississippi: the eastern neighbor can always point to the state to the west as being worse than they are.  Now, the Charleston Gazette has run an editorial that notes that West Virginia's Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, unlike Mark Herring in Virginia, is on the wrong side of history in his defense of West Virginia's anti-gay ban on same sex marriage.  The paper goes on to predict that Morrisey will fail in his effort.  Here are editorial highlights:

A federal judge in Cincinnati announced Friday that he will strike down part of Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage. 

He joins a tidal wave of morality change that is sweeping America. Already, 18 states have legalized gay wedlock, with more poised to follow. The U.S. Supreme Court obliterated most of the Republican-passed Defense of Marriage Act, which ostracized same-sex weddings. Gays now serve openly in the U.S. military. Many states have outlawed discrimination against them. America’s values are evolving with remarkable speed.

Therefore, we predict that West Virginia’s Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey will fail in his attempt to deny this state’s gays an equal right to wed.

Like most rural, conservative places, West Virginia passed a law to prevent homosexuals from marrying. The law forbade the state to recognize such marriages performed in other states. Repeatedly, fundamentalists sought to lock this prejudice into the state constitution. 

Last fall, three West Virginia couples filed a federal human rights suit challenging the state’s ban. The case is before U.S. Judge Robert Chambers in Huntington. Morrisey leaped into court to oppose marriage equality. He calculates that the action will bring him conservative mountain votes in the next election.

But Morrisey is on the wrong side of history. America is turning more tolerant, and past bigotry is disappearing. Those who defend it will be pushed aside by the progress of democracy.

A half-century ago, it was a felony to be gay in West Virginia. Anyone caught in same-gender sex could be sentenced to the old stone prison at Moundsville. But gay sex was legalized in this state

in the 1970s, and the U.S. Supreme Court finally made it legal nationwide in 2003

We hope Judge Chambers follows the Ohio judge and voids West Virginia’s discrimination against gays and lesbians. Morrisey may reap thousands of rural votes for his defense of discrimination — but he’s destined to lose in the long run. The tide of history is abundantly clear.
Like in Southwest Virginia, rural fundamentalists are holding West Virginia back and harming its future by their hate and fear based religious bigotry. 

Virginia GOP Continues to Wage War on the Poor

As noted frequently on this blog, today's Republican Party loves to wrap itself in supposed "Christian values" even as it pushes an agenda which is the antithesis of the Gospel message.  This hypocrisy is not reserved for the national GOP.  It's alive and well here in Virginia where the Virginia GOP regards the poor and lower working classes as disposable trash.  A case in point is the Virginia GOP's fierce opposition to Medicaid expansion which would aid an estimated 400,000 Virginians - many of them in GOP controlled districts - and stimulate an estimated 30,000 new medical field related jobs.  Sadly, the Virginia GOP and many of its racists base care more about opposing a black president than they do about their fellow Virginians.  It's sick and it certainly isn't Christian conduct.  A piece in Slate looks at the Virginia GOP's war on the poor.  Here are excerpts:

The Commonwealth of Virginia is modeling dysfunction yet again this month, as the legislature fights to the death over Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s proposed two-year, $97 billion budget. The government is imploding in large part due to the fact that state Republicans in the House of Delegates have decided to fight tooth and nail—up to and including shutting down the whole government if this is not resolved by July—to avoid expanding Medicaid benefits to cover up to 400,000 lower-income Virginians who fall into the health care coverage gap. These are the folks who can’t afford to purchase health care under the ACA, but make too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

It’s worth at least pointing out here that the same House Republicans set on blocking the expansion represent 32 out of the 50 House districts with the most residents enrolled in Medicaid at current levels, at least according to this study from the University of Mary Washington. The representatives from the poorest districts, where residents who aren’t on Medicaid desperately need it, are fighting hardest against helping their constituents. As the Post points out, recent polls suggest that voters support the expansion more than they oppose it. So, as always, GOP politicians are banking on the fact that voters are more afraid of Obamacare in theory than they are desperate for health care in reality.

But have you noticed that all this debate has absolutely nothing to do with what happens if we fail to close the Medicaid gap? That GOP lawmakers can talk for hours and never once acknowledge what is actually happening to low-income Virginians who fall into the gap right now? Last weekend 60 Minutes did a terrifying segment on the Virginians who are unable to access affordable health care for diseases that range from cancer to epilepsy to black lung. Make no mistake about it: People without preventive care do die. 

Studies show that people will die because of states’ decisions to not expand coverage. The poorest are being cared for, the rest of us can buy insurance. The folks who fall into the gap get nothing. Of the 32,100 Virginia veterans who do not have health insurance, 12,300 could qualify if the coverage gap were closed. A quarter of the people who fall into the coverage gap are parents with kids under 18.

And the GOP plan for alternatives to the expansion? Send the poor to emergency rooms and free clinics—free clinics they’ve attempted to shutter in earlier budgets. Pass more Good Samaritan laws! Tort reform! No, seriously. This is the alternative “plan.”

It’s the Commonwealth that is broken here—not the Medicaid expansion. 

I increasing do not understand how decent people can be Republicans nowadays.  Do greed and a desire to cut taxes for the wealthy trump decency, especially towards children?  It is disgusting.  And it is no surprise that this has happened to the GOP following the rise of the Christofascists within the party base.  Conservative Christianity and decency are increasingly mutually exclusive.