Saturday, May 10, 2014

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

HRBOR May 15, 2014 Third Thursday - Meet the Attorneys in Virginia's Marriage Case

HRBOR Third Thursday business networking events are always fun and often informative.  Next Thursday, May 15, 2014's event will be no exception.  Indeed, it will provide an opportunity to meet members of one of the law firms representing the plaintiffs in Bostic v. Rainey who have so far successfully challenged Virginia's toxic Marshall-Newman Amendment.  The event's host is the law firm of Shuttleworth, Ruloff, Swain, Haddad & Morecock, PC.  A number of the senior members of the firm are former law partners from years ago who I continue to like and respect.  I hope local readers will make an effort to attend.  Here are event details:

Event Description: HRBOR Third Thursday Business Networking

Host: Attorney Robert Ruloff/Shuttleworth, Ruloff, Swain, Haddad & Morecock, P.C
Location: 4525 South Boulevard Virginia Beach Virginia - 757-671-6000
Date/Time Information: May 15, 2014 - 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Fees/Admission: Free to HRBOR Members; Guests $15   
This event will be poignant for me: it will be the first event since I went off the HRBOR Board of Directors of which I have been a member since HRBOR's inception.  Christianna Flynn and I first conceived of what became HRBOR in the summer of 2006, we had our first formal organizational meeting in December, 2006, and HRBOR formally launched in May, 2007.  Through HRBOR, I have made friends, secured business for my law firm, and got to know better the man who is now my husband.  
If you have never attended a HRBOR event, please consider attending on May 15th!

Ted Cruz - Joe McCarthy Want to Be

Among the most disgusting and demagogic of the Congressional Republicans - and there are a lot of them - is Ted Cruz who seems to want to be the 21st Century reincarnation of Joe McCarthy who backed the Red Scare witch hunts in the 1950's.  Cruz is just as reckless and power mad and even bears somewhat of a physical resemblance to the foul Mr. McCarthy (see image above).  A piece in the Washington Post looks at Cruz's irresponsible demagoguery aimed to inflame the hate and extremism of the members of the GOP base who bear an unrelenting hatred towards Barack Obama, much of it racially inspired.  Lies and false accusations sadly have become the norm for today's Republican Party.  Here are column excerpts:

Sen. Ted Cruz, in a speech to fellow conservatives at the Federalist Society this week, provided detailed evidence of what the right calls the “lawlessness” of the Obama administration.

The Texas Republican, in his latest McCar­thyesque flourish, said he had a list of “76 instances of lawlessness and other abuses of power.”

To his credit, Cruz made his list public. But perhaps he shouldn’t have. An examination of the accusations reveals less about the lawlessness of the accused than about the recklessness of the accuser. 

Cruz was particularly agitated about President Obama’s use of signing statements, executive orders, recess appointments and unconfirmed “czars” — omitting the salient detail that this president has used four less than George W. Bush, for whom Cruz worked as a campaign adviser and administration official. 

Beyond such perennial check-and-balance disputes, Cruz’s list was a recitation of policy grievances (Cruz, if you haven’t heard, doesn’t like Obamacare very much, nor the president’s immigration policy). These were interspersed with some whoppers that the senator, a former Texas solicitor general, couldn’t have researched thoroughly.

Consider item No. 2 in the “Other Abuses of Power” section: “Backed release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi.” This does sound bad — and strange, given that Obama had publicly said he was “angry” about the release, which was “a bad decision.”  The footnote on Cruz’s allegation points to an article in the Australian newspaper, a curious source. I looked up the article, which stated that “the U.S. wanted Megrahi to remain imprisoned in view of the nature of the crime.”

Cruz, in a preamble to his accusations, writes piously of “the president’s persistent pattern of lawlessness, his willingness to disregard the written law and instead enforce his own policies via executive fiat.”

Cruz must have found some of his allegations too good to check — such as the charge that Obama “spent $205,075 in ‘stimulus’ funds to relocate a shrub that sells for $16.” Actually, the removal of the plant (which had been believed to be extinct in the wild) was part of a massive road project run by California, not the federal government. Like thousands of other projects, it got stimulus dollars — less than 10 percent of its total funding.

No item was too small to escape Cruz’s notice. Obama “shut down an Amish farm for selling fresh unpasteurized milk across state lines,” he alleges. Actually, the Food and Drug Administration was acting under the authority of a federal court order — not exactly lawlessness.

Cruz disagrees with Obama on just about everything. But this doesn’t make Obama a criminal. 

Cruz needs to be a one term Senator.  He needs to be shipped back to Texas where he can live in his own little fantasy world.

Rand Paul Commits GOP Heresy and Criticizes Voter ID Laws

I find Rand Paul to be a scary loose canon, but it is most pleasurable to see him from time to time call out GOP policies for what they truly are.   As the GOP base has grown older, whiter and extremely more racist, the policy of the party has been to push for voter ID laws that have voter disenfranchisement as their only real goal.  Such laws are time and time again claimed to be necessary to "prevent voter fraud" even though no documented voter fraud exists as claimed.   Indeed, if the GOP were honest, it would start having KKK robes handed out at the beginning of every GOP gathering.  Enter Rand Paul who made the heretical statement that such voter ID laws are wrong and that they are alienating people from the GOP.  KKK loving Tony Perkins at Family Research Council must have let loose with a torrent of spittle on hearing of Paul's remark!  Here are highlights from the New York Times:

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky broke Friday with fellow Republicans who have pushed for stricter voting laws as a way to crack down on fraud at the polls, saying that the focus on such measures alienates and insults African-Americans and hurts the party.

“Everybody’s gone completely crazy on this voter ID thing,” Mr. Paul said in an interview. “I think it’s wrong for Republicans to go too crazy on this issue because it’s offending people.”

Mr. Paul becomes the most prominent member of his party — and among the very few — to distance himself from the voting restrictions and the campaign for their passage in states under Republican control, including North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin, that can determine presidential elections. Civil rights groups call the laws a transparent effort to depress black turnout.

Speaking here in a mostly black and Democratic city with its own painful history of racism, Mr. Paul said that much of the debate over voting rights had been swept up in the tempest of racial politics.

The senator has had his own struggles with civil rights issues, hedging at times on his support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

[I]n his comments, he suggested that Republicans had been somewhat tone deaf on the issue.  In the last three years, the voting rights fight has extended to more than 30 states and taken on a more partisan tone. The measures that have passed or are under consideration vary. Some require that voters come to the polls with a birth certificate, passport or other proof of citizenship. Others would cut back on early voting.

Mr. Paul’s remarks seem certain to stir up concern among Republicans over whether the senator — a libertarian-minded ophthalmologist who was first elected to public office three years ago — can appeal to the conservative voters who have so much influence in selecting the nominee.

He is not getting much support from Republican leaders in his efforts to change the discussion or the party’s tone. Colin L. Powell and Michael Steele, the former party chairman, have spoken against the restrictions. But no ranking Republican has done so, and there was no indication Friday that any would change their minds.

After his meeting with the pastors in Memphis, Mr. Paul traveled a few blocks to address the Republican gathering, but he made no mention of voting rights. Instead, he hit on the message that the party needed to soften its edges and show more sympathy to populations that have felt overlooked and maligned by Republicans.

In trying to explain previous comments about the Civil Rights Act, Mr. Paul recently clarified that he would have voted for the landmark law, although he has expressed concern that its provisions may infringe on the rights of private institutions.

Arkansas State Court Strikes Down State Marriage Ban

There must be shock and convulsions among the bigots and haters "godly folk" in the wake of a ruling by Arkansas Circuit Court judge Chris Piazza that held that Arkansas' ban on same sex marriage and non-recognition of same sex marriage legally performed in other states were unconstitutional.  While no immediate stay of the ruling was issued, it is expected that the state, in slavish pandering to Christofascists will appeal the ruling.  The ruling builds on an unbroken string of court rulings that have recognized anti-gay marriage bans for what they are: Religious based animus targeting a segment of the population that are unconstitutional.  Like Judge Arenda Wright  Allen her ruling in Bostic v. Rainey, Judge Piazza noted the parallels with Loving v. Virginia.  Here are more details from the Arkansas Times:

Circuit Judge Chris Piazza today invalidated the Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage and recognition of marriages legally entered by same-sex couples in other states.

An appeal is expected. The judge did not stay his ruling, though the state probably can be expected to request a stay. Reaction was quick, with Republican politicians first out of the box to decry the ruling.

he order came after county clerks offices closed for the week. But they can expect a flood of applicants Monday morning. Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane said he'd be ready with software to issue gender-neutral marriage licenses Monday morning. The judge's decision not to issue a stay isn't surprising. Why would a judge allow something he found unconstitutional to continue? He might also decline McDaniel's request, which would send the attorney general to the Supreme Court for relief. It recently issued a stay of a lower court order in hotly contested lawsuits over judicial candidacies after Circuit Judge Tim Fox didn't issue one. The lawsuit didn't name all county clerks, however, so there will be haziness about enforcement of the ruling statewide without a stay.

The lawsuit challenged both the 2004 state constitutional amendment and a 1997 law. Piazza's 13-page ruling struck down both.

Here's the full ruling.
Piazza said "tradition alone cannot form a rational basis for a law." He wrote in lofty terms about freedom for all and cited landmark federal cases. He commented about criticism that is sure to follow:

The court is not unmindful of the criticism that judges should not be super legislators. However, the issue at hand is the fundamental right to marry being denied to an unpopular minority. Our judiciary has failed such groups in the past.
Not Piazza. He concluded by citing the past landmark Arkansas Supreme Court decision striking down criminal laws aimed at homosexuals as an invasion of privacy and then his own earlier ruling that foiled an effort to prevent gay couples from parenting.
The Arkansas Supreme Court applied a heightened scrutiny and struck down as unconstitutional an initiated act that prohibited unmarried opposite-sex and same-sex couples from adopting children. The exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage for no rational basis violates the fundamental right to privacy and equal protection as described in Jegley and Cole, supra. The difference between opposite-sex and same-sex families is within the privacy of their homes.

THEREFORE, THIS COURT HEREBY FINDS the Arkansas constitutional and legislative ban on same-sex marriage through Act 144 of 1997 and Amendment 83 is unconstitutional.

It has been over forty years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice. The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the same-sex couples.

It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters. We will be stronger for it.
 Anyone who truly values equality and freedom should be thrilled by Piazza's ruling.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Friday Morning Male Beauty

The Myth That the GOP-Establishment is Back

While recent GOP primaries show some of the most extreme lunatic fringe of the Christofascit/Tea Party wing of the GOP defeated, it would be wrong to claim that the "GOP establishment is back" as is done in a column by Michael Gerson in the Washington Post.  Coming from a family of Republicans and having once held a GOP city committee post for 8 years, what passes today as the "GOP establishment" bears little resemblance to what that term once meant.  The swamp fever that afflicts the party base likewise has turned the so-called GOP establishment into something deranged as well.  The only issue is one of the level of relative insanity.   Gerson's column is correct in one regard: the so-called establishment is far more "conservative" than it once was, with conservative now translating to unhinged and insane.  The rest of the column is wishful thinking on Gerson's part.  Like so many others still in the GOP, he does not want to face the reality that the cancer in the party has metastasized.   Here are excerpts from his somewhat delusional column:

The unfolding GOP primary season is clarifying two points: The Republican establishment is back, and it is more conservative than you’d think.

In the North Carolina Senate primary, the establishment winner, Thom Tillis, was the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 2011 legislator of the year and was endorsed by the National Rifle Association and National Right to Life. Yet he was attacked by tea party groups as a RINO, a Republican in Name Only — expanding that term to cover just about every Republican who doesn’t own a tricorn hat. 

Tillis’s main tea party opponent, Greg Brannon, possessed no apparent qualifications for public office except a sense of divine calling and a remarkable facility for quoting the Constitution. For Glenn Beck, this was more than enough. “I could tongue-kiss you,” Beck told Brannon during an interview, “and I’m not a guy who does that.”

But the Republican establishment — after years of being ambushed and accommodating its ambushers — was ready this time. Groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads spent millions to avoid the emergence of another Sharron Angle or Christine O’Donnell — candidates who motivate thousands and alienate tens of thousands. For the GOP, North Carolina was a victory of sorts: an expensive victory, consisting of avoiding disaster. 

This struggle has taken a while to fully emerge. At first, the GOP attempted assimilation.

The decisive break came when tea party groups began attacking solid Senate conservatives such as Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as quislings. Tea party leaders managed to confuse petulant, childish, counterproductive legislative tactics with constitutional fidelity. And Republican leaders finally realized that some tea party agendas — list-building, fundraising, presidential primary positioning — were inconsistent with their own. 

The GOP establishment backlash has been successful for a particular reason: It has been led by politically rational conservatives, not the RINO moderates of tea party nightmares. Rockefeller Republicans are as rare as giant pandas; both cause passersby to point and gawk. 

For some tea party groups and leaders, an ever-narrowing orthodoxy is the objective. Their approach resembles the more extreme forms of Protestantism, in which a passion for doctrinal purity divides and divides until there is a true church of one. The Republican Party, constituted to win majorities, has begun pushing back in primary contests. Which is necessary, and not sufficient.

The main problem with the tea party movement is not tactical or tonal but ideological. Its leaders quote the Constitution to end political discussions:
Some quote the Constitution as a substitute for a policy agenda. It is easier, after all, to memorize than to govern. But a majority political party will convincingly address public needs: routine educational failure, increasing higher-education costs, gaps in health coverage and the like. This is what self-government under the Constitution looks like. 

[T]he GOP needs electable candidates. It also needs for those candidates to have something useful and hopeful to say.
 In reality, the GOP that Gerson envisions no longer exists and, in my view, cannot be recaptured unless and until such time as the Christofascists/racists/Tea Party lunatics are truly removed from all positions of influence.  Given that some of these are now holding seats in Congress, the cure will be difficult to implement.

Center Ring at the Republican Circus

Congressional Republicans in the House of Representatives have put forth no serious jobs bill, proposed no serious alternative to the Affordable Health Care Act, and have put forth no proposal of to reform the country's broken immigration system.  Yet these extremists can find plenty of time to push for with hunts on Benghazi or hearings aimed at intimidating the IRS for investigating abuses by ridiculously titled charities and non-profit entities that make a mockery of the Tax Code's restrictions on political activity.  To say that the GOP has become dysfunctional is an understatement.  Insane and utterly disingenuous is a better description.  An editorial in the New York Times takes the GOP to task.  Here are highlights:

The hottest competition in Washington this week is among House Republicans vying for a seat on the Benghazi kangaroo court, also known as the Select House Committee to Inflate a Tragedy Into a Scandal. Half the House has asked to “serve” on the committee, which is understandable since it’s the perfect opportunity to avoid any real work while waving frantically to right-wing voters stomping their feet in the grandstand.

They won’t pass a serious jobs bill, or raise the minimum wage, or reform immigration, but House Republicans think they can earn their pay for the rest of the year by exposing nonexistent malfeasance on the part of the Obama administration. On Thursday, they voted to create a committee to spend “such sums as may be necessary” to conduct an investigation of the 2012 attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The day before, they voted to hold in contempt Lois Lerner, the former Internal Revenue Service official whom they would love to blame for the administration’s crackdown on conservative groups, if only they could prove there was a crackdown, which they can’t, because there wasn’t.

Both actions stem from the same impulse: a need to rouse the most fervent anti-Obama wing of the party and keep it angry enough to deliver its donations and votes to Republicans in the November elections. For a while it seemed as if the Affordable Care Act would perform that role  . . . 

Party leaders needed something more reliable, so they went back and revived two dormant scandals from last year, the embers of which were faithfully tended by Republican adjuncts on Fox News and talk radio.

In fact, investigations by two congressional committees (including one run by Republicans) found that there was never any kind of “stand-down order” or request. But Mr. Issa and others keep repeating it because, for their purposes, the facts don’t matter.

Though it is not the slightest evidence of a cover-up, it has become the foundation for the committee’s existence. Demonstrating the panel’s true purpose, Republican political operatives are already raising money by stoking donor anger on Benghazi.

Little nuisances like constitutional rights or basic facts can’t be allowed to stand in the way when House Republicans need to whip up their party’s fury.

The GOP - since it became utterly beholden to the Christofascists and white supremacists in the party base - has become something ugly and utterly irresponsible.  I continue to be ashamed that I was ever a Republican.

Bigoted Benham Brothers Lie and Play the Victim Card

True to form, the Benham brothers and their Christofascists sympathizers are whining and shrieking that the two flaming bigots are being persecuted for their religious beliefs.  Even more stunning is the fact that they are claiming that HGTV cancelled their planned show because of lies and misinformation.  Funny how being shown in a video making heinous remarks about others somehow constitutes "misinformation" of what one said.  These anti-gay, anti-Muslims, anti-women extremists were done in by their own verbatim statements and ugly beliefs.  Right Wing Watch comments on their unbelievable effort to play the victim card:

When HGTV pulled the plug on a reality TV show starring North Carolina real estate dealers and brothers David and Jason Benham following a Right Wing Watch report on David’s anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Muslim activism, David Benham insisted that the network withdrew support due to misinformation and “lying,” asserting that neither he nor his brother “hate homosexuals.”

Although Religious Right activists have been rushing to defend Benham, none has yet been able to explain how Right Wing Watch’s list of verbatim quotes from Benham constituted misinformation.

In fact, the interviews we featured in our post are just examples of Benham’s large portfolio of right-wing activism. Since writing our original post, we have found several other examples of Benham’s extremism.

Benham’s group refers to abortion rights as a “holocaust” and said that “the devil” was behind Roe v. Wade.

In a January 2012 interview, Benham explained his “love” for homosexuals when he suggested that gay people are under the control of “demonic forces,” arguing that once he succeeds in recriminalizing abortion, he will next defeat the “homosexual agenda” and Islam.

Benham was speaking with none other than Michael Brown, an anti-gay activist who has gone so far as to defend Uganda’s brutal homosexuality law and who leads a group which includes Benham as a board member.

As I have steadfastly maintained, with Christofascists like the Benhams, if their lips are moving, it is a safe bet that they are lying.  In their self-anointed godiness, they are somehow exempt from the Commandment that bars bearing false witness and lying.  Dan Savage also has some pertinent comments:

In a The Stranger blog post, Savage wrote that the “real story” behind the firing is “that we are rapidly approaching the tipping point that I've been talking and writing about for years.”

“Once upon a time white people used to be able to go on TV and say the most racist shit imaginable (argue against legal interracial marriage, argue in favor of segregation) and keep their jobs and be invited back on TV to say that shit a second time,” Savage said. “Then one day you couldn't say that shit (not on TV, at least) and keep your job and be invited back to say that shit again. Opinions that used to be considered 'respectable' were suddenly toxic career enders. We are rapidly reaching the same tipping point on LGBT issues. You can believe whatever you want, but you have to be careful when and how you express your anti-gay animus. Because it could cost you.”

“And David and Jason Benham just learned,” he added. 

Christofasists are not kind, nice or decent people.  Their beliefs deserve no deference or respect - thankfully more and more Americans are coming to see them for the monsters that they are. 

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

PFOX Unwittingly Showcases Parental Child Abuse

As this blog has noted countless times at this point, EVERY legitimate medical and mental health association in America condemns so-called reparative therapy and concludes that gay conversion efforts do not work.  Even former ex-gay poster boy John Paulk and the former president of Exodus International have admitted the claims of "change" are little more than lies and self-delusion.  But that doesn't stop parasite "ex-gay" ministries from preying on the gullible and pandering to parents who are more concerned about what people will think about them than they are for the welfare of their child.  These parents, in my view, are the height of selfishness.  They ought to be charged with child abuse.  Right Wing Watch looks at the batshitery that is the norm for PFOX - Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays - which is a far right Christofascists organization staffed by self-loathing "ex-gays for pay" like Greg Quinlan.  Here are story excerpts - Note the traits that supposedly make one susceptible to homosexuality and the number of discredited quacks cited as "experts":

A recently released spring newsletter [PDF] of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) includes an essay by Steve and Janice Graham, who describe their efforts to rid their son of his “destructive” homosexuality.

Quoting ex-gay therapist Charles Socarides’ claim that coming out amounts “to a kind of murder of the family,” the Grahams write that they believed their son is gay because he started “looking at body builders online” and had “personality traits (high intelligence, curiosity, overconfidence, and a tendency to overanalyze) [that] made him more susceptible to porn and homosexuality.”

“To us, homosexuality is a deviation, a disorder, a willful rebellion, or a combination of these,” they write, adding that their son’s ex-gay therapist told him to “tell us every homosexual feeling or thought he experienced each day.”

The newsletter also features articles on Mother’s Day and President Obama’s supposed attempt “to ‘queer’ America” and promote “homosexual addicts.”

When our son admitted his problems with homosexuality, we took him to see a psychiatrist—but it was too upsetting for him. He thought we believed he was crazy. We didn’t know what to think. We were in shock—and a bit of denial.

In his book, A Freedom Too Far, Dr. Charles Socarides describes how we felt during this time: 

“Announcements like this that our kids have suddenly decided [or in our son’s case, become convinced] they’re gay amount to a kind of murder of the family. Parents can’t imagine things that are worse. It’s something like a premature Alzheimer’s disease; there’s no more real communication, no more sharing of experience, now, or ever. Some great parents can say that this is okay. But, deep down, they know they are deluding themselves. This can mean the end of hopes and dreams for their kids—that they will some day experience the extreme joys that have been repeated over and over again since civilization began, that they will become parents. And make them grandparents. To know that this isn’t going to happen—well, it’s a sadness.”
Years later, our son’s therapist concluded he wouldn’t have struggled with homosexual tendencies had it not been for the pervasive homosexual influence of the internet. In other words, he was fed a gay identity. It began with the power of suggestion—by our son looking at body builders online. Having endured a lot of teasing from his peers, he was curious about his male body. He wondered if he had what it took to be a “real man.”
Many parents today back off when their child tells them they’re “gay.” This never occurred to us. To us, homosexuality is a deviation, a disorder, a willful rebellion, or a combination of these. It isn’t anyone’s true self. As Michael Glatze notes, “The whole gay identity is completely a fabrication. You’re not a homosexual; you’re a heterosexual with a homosexual problem. It’s literally all in your mind.”

In “Seven Ways to Recruit-Proof Your Child,” Scott Lively writes “it’s never too late for a child to recover his innate heterosexual orientation.” He cautions: “it will take much more work than taking preventive action would have.”
I can only imagine the psychological damage done to the child of these insane and self-centered parents.  From 37 years of trying to "change," I know that this bullshit doesn't work and all it does in cause internalized self-hate and self-loathing.  I pity the child of these horrible people.