Saturday, February 28, 2015

More Saturday Male Beauty

Republican Nominee Want to Be's Attack Hillary at CPAC

CPAC Registration Desk
Personally, were I to be at CPAC, I think I'd want to be disinfected after being in such close quarters with so many reality challenged lunatics.  That said, CPAC can provide a road map of what are likely campaign talking points that the pandering GOP clown car occupants will use in the coming GOP presidential nomination fight.  Based on comments at CPAC, it looks like Hillary Clinton may be replacing Barack Obama as the GOP's biggest bogey man despite the white superemacist that has become de rigueur in today's GOP  A piece in Politico looks at the attacks on Clinton which include whining about Benghazi even though Congressional investigations found no bais for attacks on Hillary.  Here are some article highlights:

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said Hillary Clinton couldn’t make it to the Conservative Political Action Conference because “we couldn’t find a foreign nation to foot the bill.” Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, insisted Clinton “likes hashtags, but she doesn’t know what leadership means.” And former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush knocked her on conflict of interest claims involving her family’s foundation.

It was amply clear at the annual conservative confab this week that Clinton has eclipsed Barack Obama as the Republican residential hopefuls’ main punching bag. But it is the sheer number of distinct anti-Clinton attack lines that is raising eyebrows.

Whether onstage or off, Republicans derided Clinton from every angle. They cast the 67-year-old as yesterday’s news, brought up her husband Bill Clinton’s 1990s scandals, questioned the rationale for her expected run for the White House, criticized her high-dollar speaking fees, and, of course, lashed her over the Benghazi attacks.

Republicans eager to derail a Clinton 2016 campaign, like those flooding the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center here, see the panoply of critiques as a show of force against a candidate they insist is more vulnerable than her allies realize. Watching warily from afar, however, Democrats eager to see a Clinton presidency cast the attacks as a sign of confusion in the GOP, predicting the mish-mash of arguments will fail to jell and dent the former secretary of state’s image.

Republicans’ intense and long-standing focus on Clinton suggest many of them expect her to be a formidable candidate. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, for instance, warned a packed hotel suite of about 100 college students that Clinton has strategic advantages because she is a woman and could make history by winning the White House.

But as White House aspirants paraded through the convention center halls this week and riled up conservative activists from the stage, fellow Republicans brushed off the notion that there were too many arguments against Clinton floating around, pointing out that 2016 hopefuls aren’t expected to coordinate their messages.

Democrats pointed out that Clinton, a public figure for decades, has weathered numerous controversies in the past, and that it will be hard for any one issue to change perceptions of her so far ahead of the election, especially when Republicans are hitting her with so many separate criticisms.

Republican 2016 hopefuls speaking at the convention center aren’t trying to sway independents; they’re trying to excite the GOP base, and a stinger of a line about Clinton is worth the barrage of attention it will get.

True, these tawdry whores are trying to excite the lunatics of the GOP base, but they risk alienating women who may feel that Hillary s being beaten and trashed undeservedly simply because she is a strong woman.  What plays well with the Eagle Forum crowd may go down in flames with sane women, especially single working women. 

Google Backtracks on Porn Ban on Blogger

As noted in a prior post, Google - which owns the Blogger platform used by this blog and countless others - had announced that come late March, all porn would be banned from blogs using Blogger.  Blogs not following the ban would be forced to private, by invitation only blogs.  Now, Google is rapidly backtracking after receiving "a ton of feedback" raising hell over the decision (I can't help but wonder what percentage of the complaints came from the Bible Belt which leads the country in online porn usage).  The Guardian looks at Google's change of heart. Here are highlights:
Google has backtracked on plans to ban sexually explicit images from its blogging platform Blogger, in the face of widespread opposition from users.

The company had initially announced a ban on “sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video”, with just a few exceptions for content which offered “a substantial public benefit, for example in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts”.

It planned to enforce the ban from 23 March, when any user with offending material still on their blog would be forced to turn it into a private site.

Now, the company has backed down. Jessica Pelegio, a social product support manager at Google, wrote: “We’ve had a ton of feedback, in particular about the introduction of a retroactive change (some people have had accounts for 10+ years), but also about the negative impact on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities.

“So rather than implement this change, we’ve decided to step up enforcement around our existing policy prohibiting commercial porn.”

“Blog owners should continue to mark any blogs containing sexually explicit content as ‘adult’ so that they can be placed behind an ‘adult content’ warning page,” she added.  Bloggers existing policy is much looser when it comes to adult content than many other providers.

Since at least 2012 the company has warned users to “not use Blogger as a way to make money on adult content” . . . .  Users are also not allowed to “post or distribute private nude or sexually explicit images or videos without the subject’s consent.”

The GOP's War on Poor Children

In the warped Republican world of "family values," some families and some children simply do not matter.  Obviously, families headed by same sex couples do not matter as evidenced by the GOP's opposition to marriage equality which would provide increases security to thousands of children.  Nor seemingly do poor families and poor children matter.  That's the only conclusion that can be reached from a GOP effort to take away health insurance coverage for over a million children.  A New York Times editorial looks at the GOP's sick version of "family values."  Here are excerpts:
Senior Republicans in Congress are seeking major changes to the Children’s Health Insurance Program when the program’s money runs out in September.

Their proposal, labeled a “discussion draft” for legislation yet to be written, could deprive more than a million children of insurance or force their families to pay higher out-of-pocket costs for their coverage. It also would shift costs to states, which would be left holding the bag to pay for the children’s insurance or for the care of the children as uninsured patients.

The draft is being circulated by Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee; Representative Fred Upton of Michigan, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; and Representative Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, chairman of the health subcommittee. It threatens to undermine the progress made in reducing the number of uninsured children, gains that came from enrolling more children in Medicaid and in CHIP, which covers children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.

The Republican proposal would eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that states keep the family-income eligibility levels stable until 2019, and it could make it harder for families to prove their eligibility. Faced with a loss of federal funds for CHIP, as suggested in the Republican proposal, many states would probably shrink their CHIP programs and reduce their own financial contributions. A result would be fewer children enrolled in the program. 

And the proposal would allow states to impose a 12-month waiting period (up from the current 90 days) before children who lose coverage from a parent’s insurance plan can be enrolled in CHIP. That is a very long time for a youngster to go without insurance and the regular care it provides. Many families in that situation will not be able to afford coverage on the new health care exchanges.

The Republican proposal is billed as a way to let states make “common-sense changes” to their Medicaid and CHIP programs. But instead of helping the states, it could end up costing them a lot of money.

By contrast, bills introduced in the House and Senate by Democrats would extend federal CHIP financing for the next four years and largely continue the program along current lines. That is the better approach. Governors should lean on Congress to extend this valuable children’s program without major changes.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Jeb Bush Prostitutes Himself at CPAC

While Jeb Bush is trying to market himself as a "moderate," his appearance and statements at CPAC yesterday make it clear that either Jebbie is lying or he is only too willing to prostitute himself to religious extremists, racists and other foul and toxic elements of the GOP base.  Equally frightening are reports that Jebbie will be meeting with Tony Perkins, the leader of a certified hate group with documented ties to white supremacists, including the KKK.  Where other than today's GOP would someone like Perkins be courted?  As for the gays reported to be joining Jebbie's campaign, it would seem that they are trying to reprise Ken Melhman's foul role under Chimperator Bush and Emperor Palpatine Cheney.  The Washington Blade looks at Bush's anti-gay remarks and pandering self-prostitution.  Here are excerpts:

Despite a perception that he’s the most LGBT-friendly Republican in the field of potential presidential candidates, Jeb Bush said Friday he remains opposed to same-sex marriage.

On stage at the second day of the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference, Bush was asked if his views had changed on same-sex marriage by conservative commentator Sean Hannity. The former Florida governor was succinct in his reply: “No. I believe in traditional marriage.”

The potential candidate — who once backed the efforts of his brother, former President George W. Bush, to pass a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage throughout the country — made the comments before a conservative audience as he tried to play down his support for immigration reform and federal education standards under Common Core.

Media outlets, including the Washington Blade, have speculated Bush is taking a more LGBT-inclusive approach to his campaign compared to other Republicans.

But Bush’s potential campaign also showed signs of allegiance to anti-gay forces. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bush was set to meet this week with Tony Perkins, president of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council.

Fred Sainz, vice president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement a truly LGBT-inclusive candidate would support causes that benefit LGBT people like marriage equality.

“At the end of the day, it isn’t rhetoric or hiring practices that count, it’s what a candidate stands for,” Sainz said. “A candidate who is truly committed to LGBT equality will support marriage equality and support protecting all LGBT Americans from discrimination. While the tone of Jeb Bush’s language and word choice may have changed, he hasn’t yet articulated different policies from when he opposed marriage equality and opposed discrimination protections as governor. There are more questions than answers on where Bush stands today.”

Gay Marriage: A Coming Watershed in Irish History

For centuries the Roman Catholic Church has been a dominant force in Ireland.  The drive for home rule in the 1800's was fueled by Catholics and Catholicism.  Now, with a referendum on legalizing same sex marriage set for May 22, 2015, the Catholic Church may be about to see its power and influence repudiated.  With surveys showing a majority of citizens in favor of marriage equality and every major political party, unions, and other civic organizations supporting a "Yes" vote, the Church finds itself resorting to what it has used in the past to try to force its will on the populace: lies and fear mongering.   A piece in The Guardian looks at the situation.  Here are highlights from the first article:
When Enda Kenny, the taoiseach of Ireland, recently announced that 22 May would be his preferred day for a referendum on marriage equality, an already drawn out campaign finally had a date. In May, Ireland could become the first country in the world to pass marriage equality by a popular, national vote.

To get this far is nothing short of a phenomenal achievement. Homosexuality was only decriminalised in 1993; the Civil Partnership Act passed in 2010. The dedication of LGBT rights groups has changed hearts and minds. And now, Ireland is staging a referendum that enjoys support from all major political parties and the majority of the public, something unimaginable just a decade ago.

The broad support for marriage equality has the no campaign on the back foot. It’s no surprise that the most vehement opposition comes from the Catholic church and small lobby groups acting as foot soldiers in what they perceive as a battle of ideologies, rather than the progression of civil rights.
Already, the no side has confused the debate by focussing on children, as opposed to consenting adults seeking the right to marry. Repetitive statements about “denying” children mothers and fathers are red herrings and at odds with Ireland’s social reality, where one-third of children are raised outside the traditional heterosexual, married family structure..

The actor Colin Farrell has emerged as a passionate advocate.

 The problem for the church is its depleted moral authority. With support and facts in short supply, the no campaign is using another powerful referendum campaign weapon: fear.

The bishop of Elphin, Kevin Doran, said recently that gay people can get married, just to people of the opposite sex. “There is nothing wrong with being nice to them,” he said, “but that is not what the referendum is about.”

Factual inaccuracies and stridency are off-putting, not to mention offensive, but within the Irish media, there is a sort of paranoia about “balance” and giving equal air time to both sides of the debate. This is, after all, a country where the national broadcaster, RTE, still broadcasts the Angelus twice a day.

For now, the campaign is tentatively taking shape and the yes side is acutely aware of complacency. The world will be watching Ireland in the lead-up to May’s referendum. If the Irish electorate seizes this opportunity, it won’t just be a local victory, it could be the watershed moment the global movement for marriage equality has been waiting for.
I sincerely hope that the "yes" vote forces work hard to turnout marriage equality voters to send the Church a strong message that its days of power and authority are over and that Ireland will no longer be duped by lies, fear mongering and the embrace of ignorance.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Is America Headed for Another Iraq Disaster

The calls for the United States to send ground troops back to Iraq are growing - especially among the Republican Party.  All to combat ISIS.  As if America's last foray into Iraq ended well.  In fact, it's America's past failed policies that created the stage for ISIS' rise in the first place - something seemingly utterly lost on GOP demagogues.  What is frightening is that these war mongers in the GOP seem to be slowly getting their wish as America slides toward another Middle East disaster.  Here are highlights from a piece in Salon:
The last time the United States of America launched a ground war in Iraq, it did so only after engaging in a public debate. The debate was far from the democratic ideal; in retrospect, it was more of an ersatz form of public deliberation. But even though the lead-up to the war was truncated and riddled with scaremongering, falsehoods and conscious misrepresentation, it still happened.

Considering how most of us remember those blinkered and bloodthirsty months, it feels bizarre to write these words, but those are beginning to look like the good old days. Because what’s happening right now, out in the open and yet barely under the surface, is even worse. The signs that the United States is headed for its third invasion of Iraq in 30 years are growing. But because this new war, in marked contrast to the last one, is gestating during the tenure of a president who’d rather not fight, the public hasn’t subjected it to nearly the same degree of scrutiny.

The U.S. is slowly but surely moving closer to doing what so many of its citizens recently said it never should. It is drifting toward making yet another major military commitment to the Middle East; and it is moving toward doing so by hoping that, this time, its guns, bombs and soldiers can do what they heretofore never could.
America is sleepwalking back into a quagmire. And too many of its citizens have yet to notice.

If you listen to the rhetoric of the GOP’s presidential aspirants, you can almost hear the taboo against promoting a new war in Iraq begin to crumble. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, for example, has left the door to invasion noticeably open. He won’t rule out invading Syria, either. Walker’s chief opponent, former Gov. Jeb Bush, also won’t make any promises about putting “boots on the ground” in Syria or Iraq.

More disturbingly, the appetite for war is not only growing among always-hawkish Republicans, but also in the public at large. According to a CBS News poll released last week, a shocking 57 percent of survey respondents — which, to underline the point, is nearly six out of 10 — support sending American troops to Iraq and Syria.

[T]he error here isn’t so much the fault of the American people as it is the fault of their media and political leadership. Because the president is not advocating for a greater escalation, thus providing the political press with a recognizable pro-war figure to put in conflict with anti-war arguments; and because the media seemingly cannot resist trumpeting the latest act of barbarism from ISIS with a lurid and barely concealed excitement, the American people are unaware of the many reasons to see ISIS more realistically. 

More and more, it seems as if the country’s best hope for avoiding further entanglement is for ISIS to collapse under its own fanatical cruelty — before President Walker or President Clinton gets a chance to do it first.

CPAC - Glimpses of Crazy Town

If one wants to see the most insane elements of the GOP base and Christofascist circles, CPAC offers a cavalcade of crazies, many of whom in my view either belong permanently in mental institutions or  require major mental health interventions. There was once a time when no sane, responsible Republican would set foot on the stage at coven like gathers such as CPAC.  Now, it is obligatory if one wants to move forward in primary contests.  Equally bad is the fact that the mainstream media does far to little expose just how insane "conservatives" have become.  They are simply not sane and not in touch with objective reality.  A piece at The Daily Beast looks at the mass insanity and the wasted efforts of those who would tried to steer the GOP back to sanity.  Only repeated election defeats and voters abandoning the GOP will bring change.  Here are article highlights:

Conservatives who hope to distance themselves from the whackadoodlier elements of CPAC often refer to the conference as a sideshow.

But this year, the sideshow has a sideshow: not a more extreme iteration, but an ideological double negative.

Down the hall from the main stage, there's a three-day 9-to-5 "activist bootcamp" going on. Coordinator Matt Robbins considers it the first "comprehensive, timely, practical" attempt to turn CPAC's unkempt exuberance into strategic, ground-game-winning competence.

If CPAC seems crazy to outsiders, it has something to do with the conference's fundamentally incompatible aims: You can't both serve as a training ground for future leaders and have speakers on the main stage regularly rattle off the reasons why civilization is doomed.

The conferences' young attendees, largely libertarian-leaning and not worldly enough to think that compromise is necessary are presented with a slate of panels that give the misleading appearance of a movement crackling with spirited intellectual frisson.

In the cocoon of CPAC, the next generation of leaders hears no good argument to change anything about the last generation’s approach.

Robbins also wants to deliver a sharp message to a soft audience completely unprepared for criticism.  “This conference hasn’t been about actually winning for years.”

Robbins harps on the GOP's empathy gap almost exclusively.  It's his theory for what's behind the GOP's slow-motion demographic implosion: Not enough candidates that seem genuinely interested in the problems of voters, whereas Obama definitely projects concern and Bill Clinton "was like a puppy dog, in his enthusiasm for people."

"If I had my way, every candidate would go on a ride-along with police on the coldest night of the year, when they pick people up because they literally won't survive otherwise."

And, he said, there need to be more conservative candidates and fewer movement activists, period -- more people faced with the task of looking in the eyes of those on the other end of an philosophically unpalatable policy, "and trying to thread that needle."

Be assured that no one at CPAC will follow Robbins' advice largely because they simple do not give a damn about the less fortunate and are consumed with hatred for anyone who isn't a white far right Christian, a greed driven tycoon, or a Republican candidate willing to prostitute himself/herself and fan their hate and fears.   Today's GOP is something very ugly.

Wisconsin: A Road Map of the GOP's War on the Middle Class

The hypocrisy of the Republican Party's claims to want to aid the beleaguered middle class is stunning.   While remaining focused on tax cuts for the wealthy and in some cases raising taxes on lower income Americans, the GOP across the USA remains focused on destroying labor unions and returning workers to the status they faced during the days of the Gilded Age of a century or more ago.  That these twin agendas harm millions of Americans and often hit children particularly hard means nothing to the Republicans who make the Pharisees of the Bible look like upstanding folks.  Here are highlights from a New York Times op-ed that looks at the GOP war on average Americans:

In a nation where the long decline in unions has led to a pervasive slump in wages, Republicans’ support for anti-union legislation is at odds with their professed commitments to helping the middle class. Right-to-work laws do not attract businesses and create jobs, as proponents claim. Rather, they are linked to lower wages, fewer benefits and higher poverty. They win support among conservative lawmakers not because they are in the public interest but because cutting labor costs is a priority of far-right groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, which is tied to the Koch brothers.

Wisconsin is hardly alone; 13 other states have pending right-to-work bills, and in Illinois the Republican governor is trying to disable the state’s public unions by executive order. In addition, at the behest of the construction industry, legislation is pending in 18 states to repeal “prevailing wage” laws, which require private-sector bidders on taxpayer-financed construction projects to pay wages that are in line with those for comparable work in the locality. Prevailing wage laws, which are enforced by federal statute on federal projects and by 32 states on state projects, prevent lowball bids from depressing wages. Without them, taxpayer money would be routed away from workers’ paychecks and into corporate coffers.

One question is whether the maneuvering in the presidential race will tip the scales one way or the other between the pro- and anti-union forces. As has been the case in recent years, eyes are on Wisconsin to see if Republicans, including Mr. Walker, will continue to attack unions even as they profess to stand for good jobs.
When are voters going to wake up to the fact that the GOP is using religion and racism to dupe them into voting for Republicans who are against the interests of most voters? 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

More Thursday Male Beauty

West Virginia GOP Senate to Kill Effort to Ban LGBT Non-Discrimination Protections

Senator Carmichael
Wow!  The spittle must be flying in massive sheets in the offices of "family values" hate groups and many local GOP committees controlled by the Christofascists.  The culture war must be shifting in favor of gays faster than I imagined if a West Virginia Republican is willing to stand in the way of consideration of a Christofascist backed bill that would rescind non-discrimination protections for LGBT West Virginians.  I can just imagine the shrieking and failing coming from NOM's headquarters.  WOWK TV 13 has details on the pronouncement by West Virginia Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael(R).  Here are excerpts:
Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael says there's "no way" the Senate will consider a proposal to nullify local ordinances that protect gay and transgender people from housing and employment discrimination.

The Jackson County Republican made the remarks Thursday to the AP.

The West Virginia Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act would prohibit any local nondiscrimination ordinances stricter than state law. West Virginia doesn't include gay and transgender housing and employment protections.

A House committee cleared the bill Wednesday.

Five cities, including Charleston, have similar nondiscrimination ordinances.

Republican bill sponsor Del. Lynne Arvon said rules should be uniform and predictable.
Democratic Del. Stephen Skinner, the only openly gay state lawmaker, said it's "legislative gay bashing."

Who would have expected this in West Virginia!  Kudos to Carmichael. 

Irish Prime Minister Endorses Same Sex Marriage

Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny

Ireland was once a bastion of Catholicism.  But then came the sex abuse scandal and the subsequent exposure of a Church that cared nothing about children and engaged in deception, lies and cover ups to protect predator priests and the Church hierarchy who protected them.  The result?  The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has been in a free fall and deference to the Church is at record low levels.  Now, in May, 2015, Ireland will hold a referendum on legalizing same sex marriage and the Church finds itself opposed by leading Irish politicians who rightly see civil law marriage as separate and distinct from religion and the Church.  As The Guardian reports, Ireland's Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, is urging voters to get out and vote for gay marriage.  Here are article excepts:
Ireland’s prime minister, Enda Kenny, has called on the country to vote yes in the forthcoming gay marriage equality referendum.

Speaking live on Saturday night on RTE television during his annual party congress, the taoiseach said a yes vote would send out a powerful signal that Ireland had evolved into a “fair, compassionate and tolerant nation”.

Kenny told his Fine Gael party – the dominant force in the ruling coalition in Dublin – that a national endorsement of gay marriage would also send a positive message to the gay community in the Republic.

“I believe that this is the right thing to do,” he said. “I and the Fine Gael party strongly support a yes vote.

“And therefore I say to all same-sex couples in our country: this is about you, it’s about your right to say two small words, made up of three simple letters – I do.

Successive opinion polls have found strong support for gay marriage equality in a state that was once dominated by the Roman Catholic church and was synonymous with conservative religious values.

So far the Catholic hierarchy has stayed out of the gay marriage battle, leaving the campaigning for a no vote in the hands of lay conservative Catholics including writers and historians. They have concentrated their opposition to gay marriage on concerns over LGBT people adopting children.
Once upon a time, no Irish Prime Minister would have dared to so boldly challenge the Church.  Thankfully, the vast majority of Irish Catholics view the Church hierarchy as morally bankrupt and mass attendance has plummeted.  I truly hope voters will go tho the polls, approve gay marriage, and send a message to the Catholic Church that its days of control and influence are over once and for all. 

Why theGOP/Christofascists Hates American History

As noted repeatedly on this blog, to be a Republican nowadays - or a Christofascist - one must consciously embrace ignorance and/or seek to erase facts and history that do not support your limited agenda or "world view."  Modern knowledge and an accurate knowledge of history work against the GOP's talking points and the Christofascists claims that the Bible is inerrant and/or that America was founded as a Christian nation.  Salon has two separate posts that underscore why the far right hate true and accurate American history and education.  Here are highlights from the first piece:
Sure, the war on education helps Republican lawmakers destroy unions and slash government spending, but it’s our history of progressive change that makes Conservatives hate accurate depictions of our past.

Just think about Social Security, The New Deal, freeing the slaves, or child labor laws… all represent great turning points in our nation that progressives made possible. The fact is, our entire history – from our revolution to healthcare reform – is filled with progressive accomplishments, and it’s hard to sell the Conservative brand to people who know that history.

Many of the today’s biggest political issues, like our privacy rights, would not even be up for debate today had it not been for the attack on education. If more Americans had had a strong understanding of our history, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney would have never been able to pull off the Patriot Act. And, we wouldn’t be discussing the Orwellian government spy agencies like the NSA in this day and age.

Thomas Jefferson recognized that education is vital to a functioning Democratic Republic.  In a letter to James Madison, Jefferson wrote: “And say, finally, whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to the government, or information to the people. This last is the most certain, and the most legitimate engine of government. Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them…. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

In light of Oklahoma’s recent attack on AP History, it would be easy to argue that today’s Republicans don’t recognize the value of a good education. However, the reality is that they do, and that the spreading attack on public education is far more sinister.

When the Patriot Act was signed, Bush and his ilk claimed the power to violate citizens’ private lives because, they said, there is no “right to privacy” in the United States. 

[I]n the minds of the Founders, human rights are inalienable—inseparable—from humans themselves. We are born with rights by simple fact of existence, as defined by John Locke and written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” the Founders wrote.

Jefferson’s insistence on a bill of rights exemplifies the progressive thoughts and actions that fill our rich history, and provide a perfect example of why education is vital to our democratic republic.

Jefferson was in France when Madison sent him the first draft of the new Constitution, and he wrote back on December 20, 1787, that, “I will now tell you what I do not like [about the new constitution]. First, the omission of a bill of rights, providing clearly, and without the aid of sophism, for freedom of religion, freedom of the press, protection against standing armies, restriction of monopolies, the eternal and unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws, and trials by jury in all matters of fact triable by the laws of the land….”

Although the purpose of the Constitution wasn’t to grant rights to people, as kings and popes and feudal lords had done in the past, Jefferson felt it was necessary to be absolutely unambiguous about the solid reality that humans are holders of rights, and that in no way was the Constitution or the new government of the United States to ever be allowed to infringe on those rights.

The Constitution’s authors well understood this, Jefferson noted, having just fought a revolutionary war to gain their “self-evident” and “inalienable” rights from King George, but he also felt strongly that both the common person of the day and future generations must be reminded of this reality.

Jefferson is stating openly that the purpose of the Constitution—and even the Bill of Rights—is not to grant rights to the people, but to restrain government. It doesn’t grant, it limits.  And, Jefferson said, his proposed Bill of Rights was only a beginning and imperfect; it would be nearly impossible to list in detail all the rights humans have. But a start, a try, is better than nothing—at least it will make clear that the purpose of the constitution is to limit government:

[N]ow, thanks to the war on education that began with Ronald Reagan, we have come to that remote period in time Jefferson was concerned about. Our leaders, ignorant of or ignoring the history of this nation’s founding, make a parody of liberty and flaunt their challenges even to those rights explicitly defined in the Constitution. And, perhaps worse, they allow monopolistic corporations to do the same.

Our best defense against today’s pervasive ignorance about American history and human rights is education, a task that Jefferson undertook in starting the University of Virginia to provide a comprehensive and free public education to all capable students.
Nothing makes it easier for the Christofascists to promote the myth that America was founded as a Christian nation than the ignorance of far too many America's as to true founding principles.  As the piece above notes, education is the main protection of civil rights and liberties.  The second piece is indirectly related and focuses on the GOP/Christofascist war on education.    Here are highlights:

Modern conservative politics push the notion that people who flip switches, burgers or bedpans don’t need “education.”  They instead need “job training.”  In Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s budget, someone crossed out this phrase: “to extend knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its campuses and to serve and stimulate society.”  And added this instead: “to meet the state’s workforce needs.”  Walker backed down on the language change when it was exposed, claiming it was a “mistake.”  Really it was just one more tired attack on the idea of education as a public good, one that helps people find fulfillment and meaning.

Before college, I voted conservative, hated gay people, loved America and served my country in the armed services.  I’ve changed because of many factors, but I know that college and graduate school made a difference. I met people unlike myself and was forced to defend sometimes ugly political positions.  The Tea Party thrives on blue-collar “common sense” that is composed of a combination of ignorance, superstition and fear. A literate and educated populace is an existential threat to the kind of thoughtless rage that has consumed the right over the past few years.

Modern politics is drawing bizarre new battle lines between “family values” and a halfway decent education.  American Christians may dislike “Islam,” but they share a lot of opinions with the radical Islamic group “Boko Haram,” a name that itself translates into “education is forbidden.” In our own country, we have a massive and growing group of people who would rather have illiterate children than let their kids learn anything that contradicts their most extreme 
religious views.

Anti-intellectualism may be an American tradition, but when “mainstream” politicians embrace ignorance, education ends up as collateral damage.“Serious” presidential candidate Scott Walker seems to have a problem with evolution, sounding like an idiot, most recently while in England. Unlike Rick Santorum who is an overeducated hypocrite, Walker lives the life of a true education hater. 

[S]ensible people need to stand up against the vilification of education. A good start is to support Barack Obama’s free community college initiative. 

[T]here is inherent value to education even if someone isn’t paying you for it. I know my life would be less satisfying without it. For instance, if I had turned my back on education, I could have ended up as an ignorant asshole trying to turn back the very hands of human progress, much like the party to which I once belonged.

Homeless LGBTQ Youth Often Forced to Trade Sex for Food/Shelter

As numerous posts on this blog have noted in the past, LGBT youth are disproportionately represented among the number of homeless youth across America.  And the number one reason for the homeless status of these LGBT youth is family rejection, most often due to parental rejection of the youth's sexual orientation or gender identity.   What fuels this rejection?  The conscious embracing of ignorance and bigotry based on the writings and myths of ignorant herders 2500 years ago.  An ignorance and bigotry that is prompted constantly by charlatans and shysters in pulpits across the country that are little better than the imam who promote Islamic extremism.  What is even more sad is that because of the lack of resources available to such homeless youth, far too many are forced to trade sex for food and shelter.  A piece in The Raw Story looks at the sad phenomenon which is in truth brought about by the "godly folk" for whom I hold nothing but contempt.  Here are some highlights:
Homelessness is one of the main reasons youth in New York City and across the country engage in “survival sex”—national estimates range from 10 to 50 percent. One 2013 study on the city’s homeless youth found that some 25 percent had traded sex, and a 2008 study indicates these youth routinely trade sex for shelter. But lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth are dramatically more likely to trade sex for a place to stay, according to a new study that analyzes their experiences.

At around 17, Andy wound up in New York City. Clients raped and robbed him during his years on the streets. But he was wary of seeking help, —even in as LGBTQ-friendly a city as New York. Andy says he felt child protective services and law enforcement agencies wouldn’t be sympathetic. If he went to a shelter as a minor, he would wind up on its radar. If that happened, they would place him in foster care or, worse, send him back home, he feared. He was able to leave the world of survival sex, but hundreds of children in New York City alone still sell their bodies to live.

Prior research has shown homeless LGBTQ youth were “seven times more likely” to trade sex than their heterosexual counterparts, notes “Surviving the Streets of New York,” a study conducted by the Urban Institute and Streetwise & Safe (SAS), released Wednesday.

LGBTQ youth make up 5 to 7 percent of the overall youth population but 20 to 40 percent of the homeless youth population. There are some 350 youth shelter beds in New York City, so scores spend their nights on the streets, in parks and in subway stations or, as the study emphasizes, engage in survival sex just for a roof over their head and maybe a hot meal.

Worth noting is that many of these youths also worked outside of the sex industry. More than half of those surveyed had sources of income other than survival sex, but employment options were limited, largely due to discrimination, according to the study.

Importantly, “almost all” of these youths—93 percent—did not want to trade sex. Those surveyed said that employment, housing and education opportunities were integral to leaving the trade. . . . . “There’s no social safety support net,” she tells Newsweek. “Without that in their lives, immediately upon leaving home, they do what they have to do to survive.”

Carl Siciliano, founder of the Ali Forney Center, “the largest agency dedicated to LGBTQ homeless youth in the country,” says these allotments are insufficient. Every night, there are 200 to 250 youths who want to get into a bed at the center, but there aren’t any available. This means some may wait months for a slot.

“We see every single day that the lack of safe shelter for LGBT youth are driving them into situations where they are forced to do survival sex,” he says. “The report is confirming something that we see every single day.”
Note the reference to employment discrimination as on cause of limited employment opportunities.  Here in Virginia, thanks to The Family Foundation and its political whores in the Virginia GOP, there are ZERO employment protections for LGBT individuals.  Meanwhile, around the country, Republicans are striving to broaden anti-gay discrimination or to rescind non-discrimination protections - all ultimately because of the "godly Christian" crowd.  Like fundamentalist Islam, conservative Christianity is a pervasive cancer on mankind that needs to be eradicated.  

Snow Slams Hampton Roads

Backyard - the husband cleaned a path for our spoiled dogs to "do their business"
Those living in the Northeast and other heavy snow regions are likely laughing at the Hampton Roads region of Virginia this morning where 5-8 inches of snow has largely shut down the region.  The main problems: (i) lack of snow removal equipment - most neighborhood streets will not be touched - and (ii) drivers how display incredible levels of idiocy by driving far too fast, following too closely and going out on the roads when they have no real need to do so.

My office is closed today, but I will be working remotely from home and working on all the projects I brought home in case the snow forecast proved accurate.  The photos above and below were taken an hour or so ago and it is still snowing.  Once the snow stops, we will shovel the driveway!

View out front
UPDATE: Driveway shoveled (husband by the front door), but street full of snow and ice. I dread trying to drive to the office tomorrow!