Saturday, January 09, 2016

Catholic Church Spent Millions on Predatory Priests

I try not to do more that one post per day on a particular subject, but some days it is just too difficult to do.  Today, in follow to the abuse scandal involving former Pope Benedict's brother, The Age, Melbourne, Australia's largest newspaper, has a piece that spotlights the misplaced priorities of the Church hierarchy, which has fought tooth and claw to avoid paying victims of sexual abuse, yet spent millions on pensions and benefits for the very priests that molested children and youth.  Here are article highlights:
The Catholic Church has spent millions of dollars providing pensions, housing, and private medical insurance to convicted paedophile priests despite branding them "evil" and having most defrocked.

The Melbourne archdiocese alone is still financially supporting six former priests who have been convicted for committing sex crimes against children.

Parishioners have unwittingly been partly funding the assistance through their donations into church collection plates, which they believed went towards the local church or  fundraising for retired priests.

Church records show two of the paedophiles, priests Wilfred Baker and David Daniel, received hundreds of thousands of dollars alone in annual pensions and entitlements.  Their victims received one-off payments of $31,000 to $37,000 under the church's Melbourne Response redress scheme.

The decision to continue financially supporting disgraced priests was made by senior church figures in Melbourne and the top advisory council at the Vatican, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, according to documents tendered to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Nine other priests have received pensions, housing stipends or private health insurance after their convictions and until their deaths. Many of them had also been defrocked.

Among those who received lifetime assistance was Father Wilfred "Bill" Baker, who molested at least 21 children.  The church had received complaints about him as early as 1978. He pleaded guilty to to 16 counts of indecent assault and 1 count of gross indecency in 1999.
The year before, Baker had been allowed to "retire",  a euphemism the church regularly used for priests who were stood down over sex abuse allegations.

In contrast, Baker's victims received an average one-off compensation payment of just $31,000 under the Melbourne Response.
Father Desmond Gannon was convicted of sex crimes on five separate occasions over the past two decades – in 1995, 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2009 – and the church cared for him up until his death.[C]utting them off completely was never considered an option.

"It's horrific to think they offered Emma only $50,000 as way to move forward over the rest of her life, yet the church was willing to support a priest they knew was convicted and deserved nothing else than to have to go out into society and fend for himself once he was out of prison," Mr Foster told The Sunday Age.
The church has declined to comment on the total cost of supporting the 15 priests that have been convicted of child sex crimes or 15 other priests who have been identified as abusers but were never convicted in a criminal court.

The figure is likely to be at least several million dollars in total based on known payments to a number of the priests.

As I have noted before, the moral bankruptcy of the Church hierarchy is complete.  Decent, honest, parishioners need to cease financial support to the Church immediately until the hierarchy it priorities in order.

Rolling Stone UVA Rape Story Totally Fabricated

Things continue to get worse for Rolling Stone Magazine which published a sensational story about a gang rape at the University of Virginia.  Now, new evidence shows that the entire story was fabricated apparently as part of the machinations of a woman scorned, that woman being "Jackie" the Rolling Stone source.  The Washington Post has details on the latest facts to emerge and one can only wonder why the Rolling Stone reporter never bothered to check the facts behind the allegations.  Here are highlights from the Post:

Ryan Duffin was a freshman at the University of Virginia when he met a student named Jackie.

Both teenagers were new to campus in September 2012, and the pair quickly became friends through a shared appreciation of alternative rock bands such as Coheed and Cambria and the Silversun Pickups. Early on, Duffin sensed that Jackie was interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with him. Duffin valued her friendship but politely rebuffed Jackie’s advances for more.

Just days after he met her, Duffin said, he was goaded into a text message conversation with a U-Va. junior named “Haven Monahan,” whom Jackie said she knew from a chemistry class.

What followed was what lawyers representing U-Va. associate dean Nicole Eramo described in new court documents as an elaborate scheme to win him over — a practice known as “catfishing” — that morphed into a sensational claim of gang rape at a U-Va. fraternity and a Rolling Stone story that rocked the U-Va. campus and shocked the nation.

A Charlottesville Police investigation later determined that no one named Haven Monahan had ever attended U-Va., and extensive efforts to find the person were not successful. Photographs that were texted to Duffin that were purported to be of Monahan were actually pictures depicting one of Jackie’s high school classmates in Northern Virginia. That man, now a student at a university in another state, confirmed to The Post that the photographs were of him.

“All available evidence demonstrates that ‘Haven Monahan’ was a fake suitor created by Jackie in a strange bid to earn the affections of a student named Ryan Duffin that Jackie was romantically interested in,” Eramo’s lawyers wrote in court papers filed this week.

Jackie had told Duffin that a date with Haven Monahan on Sept. 28, 2012, had gone terribly wrong, claiming that the upperclassman had forced her to perform oral sex on five other men. That fall night, Duffin was among a group of friends who rushed to be by Jackie’s side as she cried; Duffin described her as being hysterical and appearing traumatized. Duffin said Jackie appeared not to be injured — a red dress that she had worn on the date was not disheveled or torn — and she declined to go to police or the hospital that night to report the assault.

Court documents indicate that a crush Jackie had on Duffin freshman year was the spark for all that has happened since, that the attention-seeking events on Sept. 28, 2012 spiraled into a sensational tale that evolved, made its way into a national magazine’s pages, and then took on a life of its own.

There's much more in the article, but the take away is that Jackie is psycho and, in my view, needs to be expelled from the University under the Honor Code.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Over 200 Boys in German Catholic Choir Said to Have Been Abused

As the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal continues to explode in Australia, a new bomb shell has gone off in German involving the Regensburg Choir which for 30 years was under the leadership of Nazi Pope, Benedict XVI's brother, Rev. Georg Ratzinger.  Indications are that Georg Ratzinger was aware of the abuse that is said to have involved 200 boys in the famous choir. The moral stench and bankruptcy of the Catholic Church hierarchy seeming goes on unabated.  Meanwhile, too many Catholics simply close their eyes and continue to bankroll a thoroughly corrupt institution.  The New York Times reports on this new bomb shell.  Here are excerpts:

At least 231 children who sang in a boys’ choir led for 30 years by the brother of former Pope Benedict XVI were abused over a period of almost four decades, a lawyer investigating reports of wrongdoing said Friday.

The lawyer, Ulrich Weber, who was commissioned by the choir to look into accusations of beatings, torture or sexual abuse, said he thought that the actual abuse was even more widespread.

At a news conference in Regensburg, Bavaria, where the choir traces its roots to the year 975, Mr. Weber estimated that from 1953 to 1992, every third member of the choir and an attached school suffered some kind of physical abuse.

He attributed the beatings and other mistreatment mostly to Johann Meier, director of a lower school attached to the choir from 1953 until his retirement in 1992. Mr. Meier died suddenly later that year, Mr. Weber said. A 1987 investigation of reported abuse did not prompt the choir’s leaders to remove Mr. Meier or take other action, the lawyer said.

Asked whether Benedict’s brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, who conducted the Regensburg choir from 1964 to 1994, had known of the abuse, Mr. Weber said, “After my research, I must assume so.”

Mr. Weber noted that, as conductor of the choir, Father Georg Ratzinger sat on a three-person supervisory body, along with the directors of the high school and the boarding school attached to the choir, that was supposed to oversee the lower school where Mr. Meier worked.

He said at least 40 of the 231 abuse cases also involved sexual violence, “from fondling to rapes.” Most cases are too old for legal action now, he said.

The first accusations of physical punishments and sexual abuse in the choir surfaced in 2010, in connection with other reported abuses in the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, Belgium and Austria. The Diocese of Regensburg last year spoke of 72 victims and offered about $2,700 in compensation.

Mr. Weber said that after his report Friday, at least eight people who had not previously come forward with accusations of abuse had contacted him.

Decent, moral Catholics need to walk away from the Church and not go back until there is a complete house cleaning of bishops and cardinals who knew of and covered up abuse.  As for Benedict, he needs to be kicked out of the Vatican.

Southwest Virginia Hospitals Face Merger and Possible Closures

As noted in posts on this blog and some of my columns in VEER Magazine, Southwest Virginia is a bastion of far right Republicans.  One of the policies most resisted by these Neanderthals is the expansion of Medicaid to some 400,000 Virginians which would bring much needed financial relief to hospital systems burdened with treating the uninsured in order to keep the non-profit status.  Among the financially stressed hospitals are those in Southwest Virginia, many of which are principal employers in their respective regions.  Closure of such hospitals would deal a double blow to their local economies by job losses and less accessible medical care.   The failed policies of the Virginia GOP is about to bear bitter fruit as the two hospital systems that dominate far Southwest Virginia seek to merge and open the prospect of the closure or downgrade of local hospitals.  The Roanoke Times looks at what could be karma inflicting ironic justice on those who vote Republican due to the party's pandering to religious extremism and racism.  Here are article highlights:
In advance of merger filings, executives at far Southwest Virginia’s dominant hospital systems said they are “absolutely committed” to improving the health of people in the Appalachian communities they serve and to satisfying regulators by holding prices below the national average.
Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System are the predominant health care providers for people living in Virginia and Tennessee’s Appalachian communities. They plan later this month to file formal applications with both states to gain consent to merge their systems. While they pledged to keep their three flagship hospitals open, changes could come for 16 community hospitals.

Wellmont and Mountain States said they serve one of the unhealthiest populations in the United States, with a high concentration of Medicare, Medicaid and uninsured patients.

“The two health systems have expensive, unnecessary duplicative health care resources that are allocated inefficiently,” according to the report, which notes that a merger would bring efficiency and lower the cost. Together, they have $1.5 billion in debt they said arose from duplication of services.
While the health systems pledge to keep their three advanced-treatment hospitals open, the report said the community hospitals in operation at the date of the merger “will remain operational as clinical and health care institutions for at least five years. … The new health system may adjust scope of services or repurpose hospital facilities. No such commitment currently exists to keep rural institutions open.”

Any jobs lost through consolidation would be offset by those created through the investments and by developing new services, they said. Both companies are headquartered in Tennessee. The executives said the merger allows them to keep corporate jobs that would be lost if one or the other firm was acquired by an out-of-area health system.
The cynical side of me is laughing at the cretins that vote Republican to their own detriment.  If one votes based on religious and racial based hate, perhaps you should end up getting what you deserve after all.   I feel sorry for the non-extremists who will be harmed if hospital closures result.
 come for 16 community hospitals. hospitals.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Friday Morning Male Beauty

How the Conservative Media Created the Monstrosity that is Donald Trump

In follow to the last post in which Michael Gerson laments what has become of the GOP as personified by Donald Trump - and I would argue in Ted Cruz as well - a piece in Salon looks at the role that the so-called "conservative media" has played in the descent of the GOP into religious extremism and open racism.  Leading the way is Fox News - Faux News at this blog - and the various hate merchants that have found platforms in the conservative media.  The GOP establishment once loved these outlets.  Now they have turned on mainstream Republicans like a rabid dog.  Here are  highlights:

Pundits have spent a lot of time analyzing the Trump phenomenon. For the most part, Trump is considered an anomaly, a product of a uniquely hostile political climate. He’s also a massive celebrity with a powerful brand and a talent for self-promotion, and that goes a long way in our media culture.

Trump’s success as an anti-establishment candidate has raised a lot of questions about the ability of party elites to dictate the nomination process. Party leaders – particularly in the GOP – have traditionally decided who the nominees would be, but that’s clearly changed.

In the case of Trump, the question is whether he’s just an outlier or an inevitable byproduct of systemic changes in our political system. If it’s the latter, then we can expect to see more Trump-like candidates in the future; that is to say, more celebrities masquerading as serious candidates (à la Sarah Palin and Herman Cain).

Trump’s uniqueness as a candidate means it’s a “mistake to assume his campaign signals systemic changes in the process.” Trump may not be an ideologue (he’s too vacuous for that), but there’s no question he’s benefited from partisan media and an ideologically charged climate.

Trump is an unintended product of Fox News, but a product nonetheless. Trump only exists because his supporters live in a fact-free bubble that has been engineered by conservative media. And while conservative media clearly favors the Republican Party, ultimately it’s driven by the profit motive, not partisan loyalties.

In a column for this week, Anna Pluta asks why Trump’s relentless bullshitting hasn’t hurt his campaign. Pluta writes:
“Donald Trump has a consistently loose relationship with the truth…Politifact rolled his numerous misstatements into one big ‘lie of the year.’ But all the fact-checking in the world hasn’t pushed Trump toward a more evidence-based campaign, and his support has held steady or even increased in the some polls. What explains Trump’s ability to seemingly overcome conventional political wisdom?”
Trump’s “supporters have shown signs of being misinformed. Political science research has shown that the behavior of misinformed citizens is different from those who are uninformed, and this difference may explain Trump’s unusual staying power.” Misinformed means voters are fed erroneous information in order to flatter their biases and concretize their beliefs. Consequently, “misinformed citizens tend to be the most confident in their views.”

We know that people who get their information from Fox News are exceptionally misinformed, and that’s because Fox News cares about ratings, not the facts. And Fox has helped create an entire conservative media ecosystem that spins false narratives, fuels resentment, and cultivates an indifference to truth. All of this has shaped the conservative base in the last 15 years or so.

Donald Trump only exists because of this ecosystem, and to the extent that that’s true, Fox News and partisan media are responsible for him. The people at Fox News may not like the Frankenstein they’ve created, but that doesn’t make them any less accountable.

Donald Trump and the Death of the GOP

The face of today's GOP
In a piece in the Washington Post, conservative columnist Michel Gerson bemoans what would happen to the Republican Party if Donald Trump were to secure the party's presidential nomination.  Among other things, he laments that Trump would make the "GOP the party of racial and religious exclusion."  News bulletin to Gerson: that has already happened to the GOP.  Trump merely would be the culmination of the process that started when the so-called GOP establishment first welcomed in Christofascists and then white supremacists into the party.  These cancers have metastasized and Trump id the result of this sickness.   I - and all of my family - were once Republicans, but we were driven out of the GOP once it became something ugly motivated primarily by religious extremism and the hatred of others that goes hand in hand with it, and by increasingly open racism.  Gerson should have begun his lament 20 years ago.  Here are highlights from his column which is incorrect in someways, but misses the point on when the death of the GOP began:
Every Republican of the type concerned with winning in November has been asking the question (at least internally): “What if the worst happens?” 

The worst does not mean the nomination of Ted Cruz, in spite of justified fears of political disaster. Cruz is an ideologue with a message perfectly tuned for a relatively small minority of the electorate. Uniquely in American politics, the senator from Texas has made his reputation by being roundly hated by his colleagues — apparently a prerequisite for a certain kind of anti-establishment conservative, but unpromising for an image makeover at his convention.

Cruz’s nomination would represent the victory of the hard right — religious right and tea party factions — within the Republican coalition. After he loses, the ideological struggles within the GOP would go on.

No, the worst outcome for the party would be the nomination of Donald Trump. It is impossible to predict where the political contest between Trump and Hillary Clinton would end up. Clinton has manifestly poor political skills, and Trump possesses a serious talent for the low blow. But Trump’s nomination would not be the temporary victory of one of the GOP’s ideological factions. It would involve the replacement of the humane ideal at the center of the party and its history. If Trump were the nominee, the GOP would cease to be.

[T]he aspiration, the self-conception, of the party was set by Abraham Lincoln: human dignity, honored by human freedom and undergirded by certain moral commitments, including compassion and tolerance. 

It is this universality that Trump attacks. All of his angry resentment against invading Hispanics and Muslims adds up to a kind of ethno-nationalism — an assertion that the United States is being weakened and adulterated by the other. This is consistent with European, right-wing, anti-immigrant populism. It is not consistent with conservatism . . .

Liberals who claim that Trumpism is the natural outgrowth, or logical conclusion, of conservatism or Republicanism are simply wrong. . . . . Lincoln is not even the distant relative of Trump.

[A]s a demagogue, he has followed some of America’s worst instincts wherever they have led, and fed ethnic and religious prejudice in the process. All presidential nominees, to some extent, shape their parties into their own image. Trump would deface the GOP beyond recognition.

Trump is disqualified for the presidency by his erratic temperament, his ignorance about public affairs and his scary sympathy for authoritarianism. But for me, and I suspect for many, the largest problem is that Trump would make the GOP the party of racial and religious exclusion.

The nomination of Trump would reduce Republican politics — at the presidential level — to an enterprise of squalid prejudice. And many Republicans could not follow, precisely because they are Republicans. By seizing the GOP, Trump would break it to pieces. 
Personally, at this point I do not believe the GOP can be saved from the ugly elements that have taken over the party base.  The sooner the party dies, the better.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

More Thursday Male Beauty

Duggar Family Ally Sued for Sexual Abuse by Numerous Women

It seems that one never knows what delicious new bomb will go off and pt the hypocrisy of the Christofascists and "family values" crowd on open display.  Regular readers are likely familiar with the implosion of the Duggar family that made a nice living by peddling the godly Christian shtick and the parents' ability to bread like rabbits until it came out that son Josh had not only sexually abused his underage sisters and utilized the services of prostitutes.  Now,  Bill Gothard, a Duggar family ally and for years a major player in the Christofascist home schooling universe has been sued by a group of women who allege that Gothard sexually abused them.  Previously, Gothard had resigned from his "ministry" after 30 women alleged that he was a sexual predator.   Secularists and Democrats are not immune for sexual improprieties, but it seems that for every one of them that runs into trouble there are at least nine of the godly folk.  The Washington Post looks at this new lawsuit and Gothard's questionable past.  Here are highlights:
Ten women on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Bill Gothard, who for decades was a major force in the conservative Christian homeschooling movement, charging him and leaders in his ministry with sexual abuse, harassment and cover-up.

Gothard, who urged Christians to shun things like short skirts and rock music, is accused of raping a woman. The same woman says she was raped by one of the ministry’s “biblical counselors.”

The lawsuit is part of a battle between dozens of women and the Institute in Basic Life Principles, which was until recently an influential homeschooling ministry, and its charismatic leader Gothard, who urged Christians to focus on their “biblical character” and have large families.
Gothard, 81, resigned from the ministry in 2014 after more than 30 women had alleged that he had molested and sexually harassed women he worked with, including some who were minors.

Reached by phone on Wednesday, Gothard said he has not seen the lawsuit and denied allegations that he had raped one woman.

A smaller group of the same women filed a lawsuit in October against IBLP. In Wednesday’s amended lawsuit, more women have joined the lawsuit, and the lawyers added Gothard to the complaint as a named defendant.  

Gothard’s ministry was once a popular gathering spot for thousands of conservative Christian families, including the Duggar family from TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting.” Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute conferences, where families would learn from Gothard’s teaching, were popular among homeschooling families. He has also rubbed shoulders with Republican luminaries like former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.

IBLP was in the headlines last year after In Touch magazine reported that Josh Duggar, the eldest son of reality TV stars, had been sent to an IBLP training center as a teenager after he admitted he had sexually abused four of his younger sisters and a family friend.
Read the entire piece.  The take away is that Gothard - like so many of the professional Christian crowd - is not only a parasite, but also seemingly a world class liar and hypocrite.  It is little wonder that the younger generations are walking away from organized religion and the poison it peddles. 

Federal Judges Change Gerymandered Virginia Congressional Districts

Change in Districts - watch the boundaries shift
As noted in prior posts, I once lived in the 2nd Virginia Congressional District until Republicans gerrymandered Virginia's congressional districts to lump blacks - and in my case white liberal neighborhoods - into a few districts in order to protect incumbent Republicans.  Thus, I suddenly found myself in the 3rd District rather than the 2nd District.  Now, after federal lawsuits were filed challenging the GOP's grotesque district boundaries, a panel of federal court judges has redrawn the boundaries for the 3rd congressional district and those surrounding it, all of which are held by Republicans.  Will it change results in congressional races this November?  There's no guarantee, but if the Republicans win, their margins may be diminished. The district map above changes to show the new, compact and much more contiguous districts. Here are highlights from the Virginian Pilot

A federal court ordered a congressional redistricting Thursday that reassigned millions of voters and changed the racial and political makeup of districts served by Reps. Bobby Scott and Randy Forbes.

Federal judges in Richmond ordered state officials to use the new boundaries for this fall’s congressional elections.

While the changes were ordered in time for eligible candidates to file to run, the judges' order could be stopped by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has agreed to hear opposition arguments from lawyers for the state's eight Republican members of Congress.

Unless the high court halts the order, the 3rd District, represented by Scott, will lose its black majority, shrinking from 56 percent black to 45 percent. At the same time, the white majority in Forbes' 4th District shrinks from 63 percent to 51 percent, giving black voters more clout.

The 3rd, which currently stretches from Newport News to Richmond, will become more centralized in Hampton Roads. It will take in all or part the cities of Portsmouth, Norfolk, Suffolk, Hampton and Newport News and Isle of Wight County. Scott lives in Newport News.

The 4th District continues to represent Chesapeake, Forbes' hometown, but loses part of Suffolk and Isle of Wight County. The cities of Richmond and Petersburg - both with significant black populations - had been part of Scott's district but will move to Forbes' district.

The 2nd's population remains concentrated in Virginia Beach but the district's territory has been expanded to include the Williamsburg, York County, part of James City County and nearby communities. It also loses a chunk of its Newport News precincts.
I suspect that Randy Forbes is not trilled that he might actually have to strive to represent all voters in his district and not just the Christofascists and white supremacists.

Rubio Steps Up His Self-Prostitution to Christofascists

Idiot or shameless Political whore?
With Donald Trump, carnival barker extraordinaire, and the very scary Ted Cruz still leading him in the polls in Iowa, Marco Rubio is releasing a new television ad in Iowa that shows that  Rubio will stoop to any and all lengths to prostitute himself to the large Christofascist element of the GOP base.  The man seemingly will say and do anything to win over the religious extremist vote.  One would think that the president of the United States should make decisions based on objective facts, detailed intelligence and research and consultation with experts.  Not Rubio.  In is new tawdry whore pitch to knuckle draggers and those who base their lives on myths and fairy tales, Rubio bloviates about being "guided by his faith."  Pardon me as I reach for a vomit bag!  USA Today looks at Rubio's shameless self-prostitution to those who are the Christian equivalent to the Taliban.  Here are highlights:
Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio is highlighting his Christian faith as he attempts to clip competitor Ted Cruz's momentum in Iowa.

Rubio on Thursday released a new 30-second ad that will hit the airwaves this weekend in Iowa that says he is guided by his faith — Rubio is Catholic — in everything that he does.

“The purpose of our life is to cooperate with God’s plan,” the Florida senator says in the spot. “To those whom much has been given much is expected, and we will be asked to account for that. Were your treasures stored up on earth or in heaven? And, to me, I try to allow that to influence me in everything that I do.”

Rubio is trailing both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in Iowa. Cruz has been ascendant in the state that opens 2016 voting with caucuses on Feb. 1, as he's picked up the support of evangelical supporters who had been backing retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
If Rubio truly believes this blather, then he is too stupid to occupy the White House.  On the other hand, if this is merely a disingenuous self-prostitution, the idiot evangelical voters need to ask themselves this: if he is lying to us know, what assurance do we have that he won't lie to us if elected. 

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

The GOP’s Sympathy for Sedition

When Republican politicians constantly attack the government - and other citizens - to pander to ugly elements in their party base, they are setting the stage for and building a mindset that accepts armed revolt against the government and the larger society.  This is especially true when portions of that base are pathological in their hatred towards others and view themselves literally above the law.  A column in the Washington Post looks at how today's Republican Party encourages sedition, a/k/a treason.  Note how GOP House members try to conflate armed bands with "peaceful civil disobedience."  It is laughable or insane, take your pick. Here are excerpts:

Republican lawmakers began the new year in Washington with new ideas about how to undermine the government in which they serve. 

On Wednesday, the first legislative day of the year, House conservatives gathered with reporters for their monthly “Conversations with Conservatives.” When the questioning turned to the armed rebellion in Oregon against the authority of the federal government, these representatives of the United States stood with the rebels. 

No, Congressman. Civil disobedience is when people break laws they think unjust and then peacefully face the legal consequences. The takeover of a federal wildlife facility in Oregon by armed men is sedition.

Yet not one of the 10 or so Republican House members on the panel criticized the takeover, and one, Rep. Steve Pearce (N.M.), announced his refusal to pass judgment.

It was an inauspicious start to this election year and to the second session of the 114th Congress. The Republican majority began the year not by governing but with an ostentatious show of its hostility toward government.

The House’s first substantive piece of business for the new year: another attempt to repeal Obamacare (the 62nd, by the Democrats’ tally) coupled with another stab at cutting off Planned Parenthood, one of a dozen such efforts recently to scale back abortion rights and women’s health care.

[T]here was, purely as a matter of doggedness, something impressive about the New Year’s Obamacare vote. North Korea is testing nukes, Saudi Arabia and Iran are plunging the Middle East deeper into conflict — but congressional Republicans will not be distracted from their agenda.  

[I]t’s hard to govern when your caucus is so hostile to government that it has sympathy for seditionists. Asked about the Oregon situation, Ryan deferred to Rep. Greg Walden, a member of GOP leadership who represents the area — and, as The Post’s Mike DeBonis noted, Ryan nodded agreement as Walden spoke. Walden made clear that “an armed takeover is not the way to go about it,” but he had sympathy for the rebels.  . . . . lawmakers sworn to uphold the Constitution applaud those who take up arms against the government.

Australia: Catholic Church's "Ticking Time Bombs" Set to Detonate

As the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy continues to prove itself to be striving to denigrate gays and keep us viewed as "inherently disordered," the Catholic Church in Australia seems to be moving more and more toward a Boston like repudiation and exposure of an organized criminal conspiracy to cover up sex abuse crimes by priests.  Non-closeted gays in open, loving same sex relationships aren't the ones who are "disordered," it is the closet cases suffering from stunted psycho-sexual development -thanks to Church teachings - many of whom also see themselves as above others - who are disordered.  The Adelaide Independent looks at the ticking time bombs that are beginning to explode in Australia.  Here are highlights:
It not only let them keep ticking away but also covered up the pedophiles’ evil deeds to protect its reputation.

The extent of the cover-up is still being dissected by the child abuse royal commission but victims advocacy group Broken Rites spokesman Dr Wayne Chamley expects its report will be absolutely scathing of the Catholic Church.

“The commission is unpicking a conspiracy,” Dr Chamley said.  “These bishops collectively have been running this conspiracy certainly since 1992.”

Minutes of a special issues committee meeting at the 1992 Australian Catholic Bishops Conference reveal: “It was agreed that there are serious ‘time bombs’ ticking away in a number of diocese at the present time.”

The group was also worried about the discovery of documents. “It does seem better to keep good records. On the other hand, it was noted that too many people are keeping too many records.”

It is the first piece of evidence showing bishops collectively knew about abuse by clergy from that date, Dr Chamley notes.

“Everybody knew about it and they decided they were going to try and battle it out and just keep it under wraps so you have all those cover-ups and moving people around,” he said.  What confounds me was not one of them was prepared to break ranks.”

The commission has heard Melbourne’s 1974-1996 archbishop Frank Little, who died in 2008, failed to remove a number of pedophile priests, while Ballarat’s 1971-1997 bishop, Ronald Mulkearns, who is in palliative care with advanced cancer, knew in 1975 that Ridsdale had abused boys but did not suspend his priestly faculties until 13 years later.

It is not so much about the individuals but what it shows about the church culture, Ballarat clergy abuse victim Andrew Collins said.

“No matter where you were in Australia there was a culture that if you were an abuse victim you really don’t stand a chance because the church didn’t want to know.
 “This miserable history cannot be denied, nor can it be rationalised away. The very fact that a faith-based institution would perpetuate such evil is incomprehensible.”
Again I ask, how does any decent, moral person continue to financially support an institution that knowingly allowed crimes against children and then worked from the Pope on down to cover up the crimes?  Are they really so afraid to think for themselves?  If they want "fellowship," join a social club that doesn't engage in criminal conspiracies against children and youths. 

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Friends on a beach in Rio.

Is a Bored Media Missing the Fact that Clinton Is Connecting with Voters?

Admittedly, with Donald Trump serving as a nonstop carnival barker and reality TV entertainer for whom facts simply do not matter, most of the air is being sucked out of the coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign coverage.  And some are rightly criticizing the media for the failure to (i) challenge Trump on his lies and (ii) provide more coverage of other, less truth challenged and neo-fascist candidates. A piece in The Daily Beast suggests that the media is missing the fact that Hillary Clinton is slowly and relentlessly connecting with voters and setting the ground work for the general election.  Here are some article excerpts:
As we go into the New Year mesmerized by Donald Trump and his politically incorrect rants, it’s worth noting that among all the candidates in both parties, the one with the best odds of becoming the next president is Hillary Clinton. With the Iowa caucuses just weeks away, don’t you think it’s time we paid attention to the multitude of policies, proposals and programs she has rolled out over the last seven months?

They may not lead the nightly news or go viral on social media, but they are breaking through with voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. There are two-dozen in all, fleshed out with fact sheets according to a tally provided by the Clinton campaign, and they range from national security to quality of life issues.

It’s a liberal’s wish list, but the problems Clinton tackles are universal, and there’s something for conservatives too in taking on student debt, lowering the price of prescription drugs, providing a tax credit for care giving, and, in the midst of the holidays, announcing an ambitious $2 billion plan to find a cure for Alzheimer’s by 2025.

If you hate government, and think it’s too intrusive, Clinton’s probably not your candidate. But if you’re caring for one of the 5 million Alzheimer’s sufferers in the country, or you or someone you know has been affected by the disease in some way, then you’re with Newt Gingrich, who tweeted his approval of the Clinton plan.

Or if your family or someone you know has been affected by addiction, Clinton was the first of the candidates in either party to realize how big a problem heroin and prescription drug abuse has become in New Hampshire, claiming so many young lives. 

The Clinton campaign has released two new ads related to Alzheimer’s, one about a New Hampshire librarian who cares for his 84-year-old mother and must take her to work with him because he can’t afford day care. The other features an Iowa woman, mother of five, whose husband passed away in May at age 53, after suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s. In the ad, Clinton is visibly moved as she embraces the woman, then says she spoke with the four leading researchers “who are untangling the neurodegenerative diseases” and their excitement about more money for research as opposed to “some additional military asset,” Clinton says. “Just think of the lives it would save.”

In an election cycle that has been anything but conventional, Clinton is running a textbook campaign, methodically laying out her proposals from what she would do about ISIS and terrorism, down to her views on GMO’s (genetically modified organisms in our food). Clinton was asked about GMO’s at a recent Baltimore fundraiser. 

It’s almost comical how prepared Clinton is, especially when compared to Trump, who offers very little in the way of conventional policies. “She has a different electorate than he does,” says Matt Bennett with Third Way, a centrist Democratic group. While the Republicans are focused on style and rhetoric, the race between Clinton and Sanders is much more substantive, “and she’s got to make clear what she stands for. And because she is the favorite to become president, she is acting like a president.”

he campaign isn’t about Trump’s latest volley, says Bennett, “It’s about the lives of the voters who wake up in the middle of the night worrying. Some of them have all three stressors [college debt, addiction, Alzheimer’s] and almost everyone has one at least or knows someone with one, it’s a very smart strategy.”