Saturday, July 02, 2016

Saturday Male Beauty

Quote of the Day: Why Not to Vote for Donald Trump

The number of conservatives and Republicans who are declaring their support for Hillary Clinton continues to grow,  In a piece at Real Clear Politics Mark Salter, the former chief of staff to Sen. John McCain and a senior adviser to the McCain for President campaign lets loose with an amazing take down.  Intellectually honest Republicans ought to admit that Salter is 100% correct.  Now is a time to put the best interest of the nation first.  Here are highlights:
There are many reasons to vote against Donald Trump. Let me cite the most obvious.
He’s an ignoramus whose knowledge of public issues is more superficial than an occasional newspaper reader’s. He casts his intellectual laziness as a choice, a deliberate avoidance of expert views that might contaminate his ill-informed opinions. He excused his failure to consult professionals before commenting on the Brexit vote by dismissing foreign policy advisers in general, including his own. “None of them are any good,” he said, as he likened running the world’s most powerful government and its foreign policy to opening a golf course.
He’s a charlatan, preposterously posing as a business genius while cheating investors, subcontractors, and his own customers. He’s rich because his father left him a great deal of money. He couldn’t turn a profit with a casino, for crying out loud. The epitome of someone who is famous for being famous, his business model consists mostly these days of selling his surname to a group of (often foreign) investors, who slap it on some vulgar monstrosity that consumers naturally associate with a vulgar reality TV celebrity.
He possesses the emotional maturity of a 6-year-old. He can’t let go of any slight, real or imagined, from taunts about the length of his fingers to skepticism about his portfolio. So shaky is his psyche that he’s compelled to fits of self-sabotage to defend his self-regard, as was the case in his racist, politically devastating attacks on U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel. He views the powers of the presidency as weapons to punish people who’ve been mean to him – reporters, rival candidates, critics. “They better be careful,” he warns.
He’s a bigot or is pretending to be one in order to win votes from people who hold “others” to blame for the country’s problems and theirs -- other races, other religions, other classes. He asks nothing of his supporters’ patriotism. Just elect him and he’ll keep out the Mexicans and the Muslims, start trade wars with China and Japan, confiscate Middle Eastern oil and hey, presto, America’s great again. He doesn’t appeal to a single honorable quality or instinct in our society. He exploits fear and incites hatred. They are the emotions that impel him. He wants us to make our way in the world as he does: selfish, insecure, angry, scapegoating, small.
His election would endanger the security of the United States and our standing in the world. The widely respected geopolitical analysis firm, the Economist Intelligence Unit, declared his election a top 10 global threat. I believe President Obama has been the worst foreign policy president in my lifetime. But he’s Winston Churchill compared to Donald Trump.
Whatever Hillary Clinton’s faults, she’s not ignorant or hateful or a nut. She acts like an adult, and understands the responsibilities of an American president. That might not be a ringing endorsement. But in 2016, the year of Trump’s s campaign, it’s more than enough.

Donald Trump: America Must Commit War Crimes As a Matter of Principle

As noted frequently, one of the ironies at first blush until further analysis in given in the 2016 presidential election cycle has been the allegiance  that self-claimed evangelical Christians and "real Americans" have been giving to Donald Trump - a man whose personal life is the glaring opposite of the Gospel message.  But on a closer look, Trump and evangelicals are a match made in heaven if you will.  Like Trump, I would venture that a majority of the evangelical Christians are narcissists - they certainly view themselves as superior to all others.  Similarly, they seemingly never admit that they are wrong or may have committed wrongs, especially wrongs to others.  And when it comes to greed, evangelicals and Trump are on the same page and can never have enough, even as they advocate for drastic cuts in government programs for the poor and disadvantaged.  And when it comes to torture and war crimes, Trump and these hate and fear motivated folks are again largely on the same page.  Something that tells a great deal about just how foul these "Christians" are in fact.  New York Magazine looks at Trump's position of committing war crimes.  I'd venture to guess that those supporting Trump are those who most profusely self-congratulate themselves on their piety and religiosity.  Here are article highlights:
Hours after Tuesday's massacre at Ataturk International Airport, Donald Trump called on America to "fight fire with fire." The presumptive GOP nominee told supporters in Ohio that, while he likes waterboarding, it probably isn't "tough enough."
 "We have to be so strong," Trump said. "We have to fight so viciously. And violently because we're dealing with violent people viciously."
On Thursday night in New Hampshire, Trump reiterated his belief that America should hold itself to the same standard as a fascist death cult. Asked by local station NH1 to respond to Senator John McCain's claim that torture is "not the American way," Trump replied:
Well it’s not the American way to have heads chopped off and have people drowning in steel cages ... And so we can have our disagreements, but we’re going to have to get much tougher as a country. We’re going to have to be a lot sharper and we’re going to have to do things that are unthinkable almost.
It's worth remembering that, for the Republican standard-bearer, ordering the military to hunt down and kill the wives and children of suspected terrorists falls under the "thinkable" column.
That Donald Trump will happily court human beings' worst instincts for political gain is not breaking news. What's interesting about his renewed support for deliberate war crimes is that there's no evidence such heinousness even has a political upside. In the wake of the Orlando shooting, the American people were scared. Eight in ten told pollsters from the Washington Post and ABC News that they were afraid of lone-wolf terrorism. But those respondents also overwhelmingly preferred Clinton's response to the tragedy over Trump's, and had more faith in her capacity to handle terrorism than they did in the mogul's.
In light of this finding, it seems unfair to assume that Trump's pledge to do the "unthinkable" is motivated by crass political calculations. Rather, pundits should give the presumptive GOP nominee the benefit of the doubt, and assume his support for war crimes is a genuine expression of a deeply held faith in the cleansing power of sadistic violence.

The same love of sadistic violence applies to evangelicals supporting Trump.

Deciding to Let Go of Religious Based Bigotry is a Choice

Growing up Roman Catholic I was brainwashed into viewing almost all sex as something bad and abhorrent - gay sex, of course, was in a category of its own and offered an express ticket to Hell and eternal damnation.  Thankfully, with therapy I got over the damage done to me by the nuns and the male clergy who we all know are most characterized by hypocrisy when not actively aiding and abetting predator priests.  Leaving the Catholic Church was another positive step and now I remain a nominal member of the ELCA - Evangelical Lutheran Church in America - which is gay friendly and affirming.  My point from all of this is that clinging to homophobic religious beliefs is a choice.  To do so, however, one needs to be willing to think and analyze for them self  and be willing to do some independent study - concepts that terrify religious fundamentalists of all faiths and which are condemned by the parasitic "holy men" who want their flocks ignorant and viewing them as the sole source of divine knowledge.  Without this monopoly, the need for such holy men and by extension ceases.  Something we are seeing as the number of Americans who label themselves as "Nones" skyrocketing.  

When one looks at letting go of religious based homophobia, one unlikely champion given her religious upbringing is Marie Osmond - the mother of a lesbian daughter.  Despite her Mormon background, she firmly supports same sex marriage - something no doubt frowned on by the elderly old men who continue to maintain a stranglehold on the Mormon Church.  A piece in Huffington Post from a few years ago looks at Osmond's position which is diametrically opposed to that of her brother Donnie.  Here are highlights:
Marie Osmond subtly re-affirmed her support of marriage equality in a poignant new interview.
The singer-actress, who is currently promoting her new memoir The Key Is Love: My Mother’s Wisdom, A Daughter’s Gratitude, spoke frankly about her daughter Jessica, who is openly gay.
“The God that I believe in is a god of love, not fear,” Osmond, who is a practicing Mormon, told Diane Sawyer.
As for same-sex marriage, Osmond noted, “I believe in [my daughter’s] civil rights, as a mother. I think that my daughter deserves everything that she desires in life. She’s a good girl. She’s a wonderful child.” She then added, “I don’t think God made one color flower. I think He made many.”
Osmond, 53, has spoken out in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in previous years, usually citing Jessica’s role in that mindset. “I think everybody should have the right to share homes and finances with somebody that they care about,” she told KOST 103.5 Los Angeles in 2009. “You know on those types of things I’m very supportive. When it comes to marriage...I think that civil rights need to be for all.”
Meanwhile, Osmond’s brother Alan reportedly hosted a “pro-family” rally at the Utah State Capitol earlier this week, aimed at “benefitting the protection of marriage” from gay and lesbian Americans, according to Towleroad.
The take away?  The next time you hear of a parent rejecting an LGBT child, know that the evil lies with the parent who is intellectually lazy and more worried about what others may think of them than what is best for their child.  It is the ultimate form of selfishness.  

More Saturday Morning Male Beauty

How Brexit Convinced One Republican to Endorse Hillary Clinton

Perhaps people have thought this throughout time, but today America and the world do seem to be a crossroads where a decision will be made as to whether increased tolerance, an embrace of modernity and efforts to find peaceful coexistence with others will continue to set mankind's agenda or whether, instead, racism, nativism, xenophobia and unbridled bigotry will grow.  From Islamic extremists attacking and murdering those of other faiths and those who accept modernity and modern knowledge (with a corresponding decline in adherence to religious dogma) to American white supremacists and Christofacists rallying to Donald Trump's standard, to those in the United Kingdom who voted to "Leave," the forces of reaction and ignorance can be seen across the globe trying to take all of us backward in time.  Looked at in this context, the 2016 presidential election is part of this larger struggle between what I see as good and what is evil when stripped of all of the lies and smokes screens loved by the forces of reaction.  A piece in Politico by a Republican who will be supporting Hillary Clinton looks at this contest and how Brexit was the last straw for her.  Here are excerpts:
Last Friday, people across the United Kingdom woke up shocked to learn that their nation had actually voted to leave the European Union. More than a million people now reportedly would like to change their vote from “leave” to “remain”; more than 3 million signed a petition for a second referendum. EU institutions and major corporations based in London announced they would move operations and jobs from Britain to EU countries.
My reaction was a little different: I decided to endorse Hillary Clinton for president.  It wasn’t an easy decision. As a conservative, I find Hillary Clinton stands for the opposite of a number of things I believe strongly . . . I have deep misgivings about a Clinton presidency, but the anguish of British voters who cast a protest vote thinking it wouldn’t matter — that their vote wouldn’t be decisive — convinced me that something much bigger is at stake in this election. The unthinkable, I realized, was actually possible this year.  . . . And I realized I didn’t want to wake up on November 9 to find Donald Trump elected president and wish I had done more to prevent it.
As one of the signatories of the national security experts’ “never Trump” letter, I genuinely believe the erratic statements Donald Trump has made would be disastrous if adopted as American policies. His candidacy is itself bad for our country. . . . .
It is impossible to imagine Donald Trump doing the things an American leader is called to do in an insecure world . . . . Trump’s emphatic support for torturing terrorists and killing their families will be a huge victory for ISIL, Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, compromising our claim to be different and better than what we are protecting ourselves from. The American military, bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice that holds individuals culpable if they carry out an illegal order, would refuse—resulting in a civil-military crisis that would fragment our own nation and delight our adversaries.
His historically retrograde ideas about trade policy (like that 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods) would extinguish supply chains on which nearly every American business relies—to say nothing of his claim that our military embezzled money in Iraq, and his proposal for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.
All of Trump’s manufactured melodramas distract from the important work our country needs to be doing to better prepare American workers for the ways our economy is changing, pay down our national debt, strengthen our alliance relationships to handle challenges from Russia, China, and metastasizing terrorist organizations, improve our children’s education, revise the Tax Code to be fairer and make our country a more attractive place to do business. Moreover, his comments about our fellow Americans are profoundly offensive. He's not only damaging to our country in foreign and defense policy, he's damaging to the social fabric of our republic, which relies of creating one out of many—e pluribus unum.
Before the Brexit vote, I was desperately hoping for a contested convention, or the emergence of some worthier candidate . . . I was planning to cast a protest vote in November: write in Mitch Daniels or one of my terrific nephews, and vote Republican down-ballot to support strong Republican voices in Congress and help rebuild the party in the long run. But that approach is only satisfactory if Trump has no chance of winning. I’m genuinely concerned now that Trump could get elected, and that is why I’m voting for Hillary Clinton.
She will not be a president to my liking. . . . But there is no question that Hillary Clinton's are a safer pair of hands than are those of Donald Trump. She colors inside the lines; he goes all the way off the drawing board. Presidential contests are two-person races in the United States, and the only candidates who have a serious prospect of victory are the party standard-bearers. Protest votes are more satisfying than voting for the lesser of two evils, but they could result in Donald Trump being elected, just as British protest votes created an outcome many who cast those ballots realized, only too late, they never wanted at all.

Gloucester County School Board Continues Self-Prostitution to Anti-LGBT Bigots

Click image to enlarge to better see the face of bigotry
There seemingly are no limits to the lengths that the self-prostituting members of the Gloucester County, Virginia school board (pictured above) will go to in order to appease anti-LGBT Christofascists in the battle to institutionalize the bullying of transgender students.   Having been smacked down twice by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and now under a District Court order compelling the school division to accommodate a transgender boy, the school board is now dishonestly claiming that such accommodations will cause other students to leave the school division.  My response? Good.  Good riddance.  Let them.  Remember, that there were no problems with accommodations until a local "holy man" - as Bob Felton would call such parasites - got wind of the situation and whipped the county simpletons into a furor. The Washington Post looks at the continued lies and batshitery from the board and its always sleazy counsel from Alliance Defending Freedom ("ADF"):
A Virginia school district claims that allowing one transgender student to use the boys’ bathroom would cause community uproar and could force some parents to pull their children out of school.
Gloucester County Public Schools is seeking to reverse a judge’s order that requires Gloucester High to let senior Gavin Grimm use the bathroom that matches his gender identity, rather than his biological sex.
If Grimm is allowed to use the boys’ bathroom, the district argued in a filing this week, “parents may decide to remove their children from the school system after reaching the understandable conclusion that the school has been stripped … of its authority to protect their children’s constitutionally guaranteed rights of bodily privacy.”
It was one of several arguments the school district made in the 14-page filing, part of an ongoing case regarding Grimm’s challenge of a school board policy that prevents transgender students from using bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. A federal appeals court ordered a lower court to hear Grimm’s case, and the school district says it would like the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in. In the meantime, the courts have ordered the school district to let Grimm use the boys’ room while the case is pending.
Joshua Block, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Grimm, said that the fear of a negative reaction from some parents isn’t a legitimate reason to violate Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination, and that — according to the ACLU and guidance from the Obama administration — protects transgender students’ right to use facilities matching their gender identity.
The school system has said it plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, given the national interest in resolving questions about whether Title IX protects transgender students’ right to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.
In its June 28 motion, the school system asked the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to stay its earlier decision, arguing that Grimm can use a bathroom in the nurse’s office, or one of three other single-occupancy restrooms that are available to all students, while litigation proceeds.
It seems unlikely that the district court would reverse its own ruling. But the school system made clear in its filing that it intends to take the issue to the nation’s highest court.
The district says that within 10 days, it will ask the Supreme Court to rule on whether Gloucester High must let Grimm use the boys’ bathroom as the litigation unfolds — or whether it may keep him out.
Reading some of the comments to the Post story underscores something that have concluded for some time now:  few people are as foul and self-centered than the "godly folk."  Only their rights - and most importantly, their hate and fear based religious beliefs - matter and everyone else is supposed to forfeit their rights so that the knuckle draggers can continue to feel self-satisfied and  falsely pious.  It is far past time that they start being treated like the scum of the earth that they are.  Sexual orientation and gender identity are not a choice, but embracing ignorance, clinging to childish fairy tales and advocating bigotry are all choices these folks have made.  Let them begin to pay the consequences.  

As for ADF, Human Rights Campaign has accurately described ADF as follows:
ADF is one of the United States’ most dangerous organizations working to prevent equality for LGBT people across the globe.  An enthusiastic leader in defending the unconscionable “right” to discriminate against LGBT people, ADF is a worldwide exporter of hate. With offices in many places around the world, ADF uses their global reach and budget of over 54 million dollars to promote discriminatory legislation, and foster anti-LGBT initiatives. ADF bills itself as an “alliance-building legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith”—unless of course that faith contradicts with their own anti-LGBT version.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Friday, July 01, 2016

More Friday Male Beauty

GOP Leaders: Put the Nation Before Your Party

Once upon a time members of Congress regularly put the best interests of the nation ahead of party affiliation and often voted to support bills put forward by members from across the political aisle. Those days came to an end as the Republican Party became the bastion of ignorance and hate embracing Christofascists, know nothings and increasingly open white supremacist.  Now party fealty means more to those on the right than the good of the nation despite weak and transparent protestations to the contrary.  A column in the Washington Post calls of Republicans to start putting America first again instead of blind - and misplaced - fealty to the GOP.  Here are excerpts:
He can’t do it, Republicans. It’s time for you to admit that Donald Trump is incapable of even pretending to be an acceptable candidate for president. The question is which side of history you want to be on.
Are you going to stand with him as the balloons drop on the last night of the convention, knowing he shares neither your views nor your values? Are you going to work your hearts out this fall to put an unstable bully in charge of our national defense? Is party unity so much more important to you than trifles such as responsibility, duty and honor?
Leading Republicans should pay attention to what Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) told a reporter for the conservative Newsmax website: “What I am saying is Donald Trump can still get a vote from a lot of conservatives like me, but I would like some assurances on where he stands. I would like some assurances that he is going to be a vigorous defender of the U.S. Constitution. That he is not going to be an autocrat. That he is not going to be an authoritarian. That he is not somebody who is going to abuse a document that I have sworn an oath to uphold and protect and defend.”
My only question for Lee is why Trump might still get his vote. I realize that Hillary Clinton is a Democrat, but no one has suggested that she might shred the Constitution or that she is a religious bigot. I thought the oath to “protect and defend” meant putting country before party.
[S]ome leading Republicans are doing just that. Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 nominee, is one of the loudest and most consistent “Never Trump” voices. The Bush family, which incarnates the GOP’s recent history, is boycotting the convention. My colleague George F. Will, a principled conservative if ever there was one, said last week he had left the Republican Party because of Trump.
But most GOP luminaries are like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who has obvious reservations about his party’s presumptive nominee but supports him nonetheless.
Every time Trump gives a prepared speech in which he manages to stay on message, drawing praise from the party establishment, he negates it by reverting to his old self. . . . . This week, . . . . he has been ranting about how the United States needs to use waterboarding and other torture techniques against suspected terrorists.
And you’re going to vote for this guy, John McCain? You, a former prisoner of war who was tortured by the North Vietnamese? You, the Senate’s most outspoken opponent of the practice?
We are talking about the presidency of the United States, Republicans. You are about to nominate and support a man you know to be dangerously unworthy. Some loyalty.

Christianity's Role in Maintaining Anti-Gay Animus

If nothing else, the Pulse massacre in Orlando has open the stage for an honest discussion about the role of Christianity and those I call the "good Christians" - i.e., akin the the "good Germans" at the time of Hitler's rise to power - bear in keeping anti-gay animus alive and well and socially acceptable at least among conservative and Republican Circles.  I call this Christians "Good Christians" because like their German counterparts of roughly 85 years ago, they stand by silently as their churches and pastors preach anti-gay hatred even as they themselves claim to not agree with the anti-gay diatribes.  Despite such protestations - almost always made in private conversations - these Christians continue to financially support the churches and "family values" organizations that daily promote hatred and reject modern knowledge in favor of a few passages written thousands of years ago by unknown authors who would be deemed utterly ignorant by today's standards.  

In my view, it is far past time that these good Christians cease being given a pass and not confronted for their at best complicity in funding and supporting homophobic and typically dishonest denominations, church hierarchies, and pastors.  They need to either step up and be part of the solution or confronted for their role in keeping hate and homophobia alive.  Will these people like the confrontation?  Most definitely not because they, like most of us, don't like having to candidly analyze their beliefs and/or sheep like following of church leaders are who are noting less than foul. The favored phrase of  "love the sinner, hate the sin" needs to be challenged head on for the disingenuous bullshit that it is.  A piece in Think Progress looks at this ongoing support of hate and homophobia that must be challenged.  The harm caused goes far beyond creating an atmosphere where some feel free to murder those who are LGBT.  Here are article highlights:
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, Christian conservatives known to be anti-LGBT expressed sympathy for the victims and their families, suggesting that radical Islam was wholesale to blame for the attack. Many avoided mentioning that LGBT people were the victims — at least until a few days later, when they began reminding everybody what they truly think about gay people.
“Yes, we can oppose gay marriage and still oppose the slaughter of gays,” Steve Pauwels insisted at BarbWire.
“Yes, Christians do believe homosexual actions are sinful. But we also believe that mass shootings are sinful, and lying is sinful, and gossip is sinful, and so are laziness, torture, theft, rape, dishonesty, abuse,” Mary Tillotson argued at The Federalist. “As a Catholic, I go to confession about once a month to repent, seek mercy, and renew my own commitment to rid myself of sinful behavior. We all sin.”
“It is true that many Christians hold to the Bible’s teaching on the sinfulness of homosexuality and that upsets some gays,” wrote Rick McDaniel at the ChristianPost. “But here is an opportunity to simply receive love and support and it is rebuffed.”
There’s a reason it is rebuffed.  Conservative Christians have long argued that their condemnations of homosexuality are couched in love, complete with the catchy slogan, “love the sinner, hate the sin.” But that message — that homosexuality is a sin — is harmful in and of itself.
Countless studies have assessed the impact of various forms of stigma and discrimination against LGBT people. The negative consequences of discrimination, bullying, and family rejection are well documented, but fewer studies have actually looked at the direct effect of religious condemnations of homosexuality.
Studies on ex-gay therapy, also known as sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), shed some light on what happens when gay people directly interact with religious beliefs that reject their identities. Often times, the people seeking SOCE are trying to reconcile who they are with their own beliefs.
In 2009, the American Psychological Association (APA) issued a comprehensive report rejecting the effectiveness of SOCE based on all available research.  . . . .  The report then explained how the research had found that all of these struggles came with mental health consequences. Individuals felt culpable, unacceptable, unforgiven, disillusioned, and great emotional distress — feelings that were associated with anxiety, panic disorders, depression, and suicidality. And notably, these consequences occurred “regardless of the level of religiosity or the perception of religion as a source of comfort and coping.”
Survivors of ex-gay therapy have confirmed these consequences with their own stories. In an informal survey conducted by the organization Beyond Ex-Gay in 2013, 92 percent of people who had undergone SOCE reported experiencing harm as a result. Besides the fact that the treatments didn’t actually work to change their orientation, the respondents said that trying to “pray away the gay” caused them to experience shame, depression, fear, anger, lowered self-esteem, feelings of failure, and even suicidal thinking.
 According to [Dr. Doug] Haldeman’s [clinical psychology doctoral program at John F. Kennedy Universityb] oservations, “The messages — ‘You are of less value,’ ‘You are disordered,’ ‘You are somehow an inferior person’ — either directly or implied by these anti-gay statements — have a negative effect on everybody who experiences them. You don’t even have to go through conversion therapy to have some of the sequelae of having internalized these effects.”
Like Tillotson wrote, many religious conservatives try to justify condemning homosexuality as a sin with equivocating statements about how “we’re all sinners,” but this does little to soften the blow.
First, the comparison to other actions treats a person’s sexual orientation like it’s a choice, a hypothesis that science has roundly rejected. The attempt to compare homosexuality to more common sins like lying, laziness, and gossip may be an attempt to downplay the severity of homosexuality, but it actually disproves its own point. LGB people are singled out for condemnation and ostracization from society, while liars, sloths, and gossips — i.e. just about everybody — are not. Likewise, comparing homosexuality to sins that actually hurt people, like theft and murder, communicates that LGB people deserve as much scorn as criminals — and in many countries, they are treated as such.
In reality, U.S. religious conservatives do single out homosexuality for condemnation. Stephen Kim, an evangelical pastor in New York, took this approach in his response to the Orlando shooting. “As Christians, we grieve today,” he wrote, “not so much because people died (for we will all one day die) — but because fifty souls went straight to Hell without any further opportunity for repentance.” They died in the midst of committing a sin, and thus “they did not die as heroes. Instead, they died as depraved sinners. Maranatha!”
Dr. Ilan Meyer, who has long studied the impact of minority stress on the LGBT community at the Williams Institute at UCLA's School of Law, told ThinkProgress that "the message that homosexuality is a sin is not really simple. It is at the core of homophobia." Because it's an explicit tenet instead of just a prejudice, it creates the sense that nobody is really to blame for the harm that belief causes.
It affects, really, every waking hour in one way or the other." Every single time a gay person caught in that thought loop sees a person who they might find attractive — or even just thinks about such a person — they are reminded of that condemnation and the notion that there is something wrong with them. As the therapist whose job it was to try to help end that thought loop, Haldeman confirmed that the internal effects are "devastating."
Perhaps the most important — if unsurprising — finding from Ryan's research is that the least accepting families tend to be the most religious. "Religiosity was really at the core of the kinds of behaviors that families engaged in to respond to having an LGBT child."
Indeed, a 2014 study found that LGB people who lived in anti-gay communities had a life expectancy that was 12 years shorter than those who lived in more welcoming communities. Incidentally, those with anti-gay attitudes also had shorter life expectancies. The same researchers had found a few years prior that LGB teens experienced a significantly higher risk of suicide simply for living in a more conservative community.

As noted, these "good Christians" need to be confronted and challenged.  Silence equals complicity in the horrors.  They cannot say that they are not anti-gay while remaining in and financially supporting anti-gay denominations and churches. They don't get to have it both ways.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Messages of Hate to Toronto Pride

It is often easy to forget that the anti-LGBT animus that LGBT Americans face in our daily lives is not something unique to America even though our nation is still "the most religious" of any of the world's developed nations.  Truth be told, the same toxic poison that creates homophobia and anti-LGBT hate in America is the root cause of such hatred and ill-will worldwide: RELIGION.  The Toronto Star looks at some of the utterly vile and hate-filled things being said to Toronto Pride which fields its pride event in the coming weeks.  To illustrate the point, in a video posted by the Toronto Star members of Pride Toronto read some of the letters and e-mails that the organization has received.  Here are story highlights:
Homophobia and hate is still rampant in our society — just ask Pride Toronto.
Every day, the organization receives hate mail — usually from anonymous people who don’t believe in Pride’s mission to make the city safer and more accepting for LGBTQI people.
“If you were my child and you turned out gay I’d burn you alive,” said one particularly vile message.
In a video, employees from the Star read these tweets, letters and emails to members of Pride Toronto in order to show the damage that hatred has on our community.
“It’s a little surreal, it almost seemed fake to hear the words out loud,” said Michelle Cherny, a member of Pride’s board of directors. “The hate is out there.”
Rachel Lauren Clark, another member of the board, says the worst part of hearing the hate mail read out loud wasn’t the message’s content, but the fact it is so commonplace. “When you’re a person who hears that stuff everyday, you become numb to it,” she said.
Clark says people who want to spew this kind of hatred typically hide behind the veil of anonymity, rather than confront anyone face to face and actually learn something.  “It’s a bit cowardly to do what they do,” she said.
Clark says the message that shocked her the most was from someone who said that as a transgender person, no one could love her.
“Actually my parents love me very much . . . I have a really great job, I volunteer with my community and I have a really great life,” she says. “It’s pathetic, they don’t know me at all and they just spew these things forward.”
Andrea Delgado, who works in media relations for Pride and participated in the video, says the volume of hate mail proves that Pride still needs to exist.
“It’s so sad that we’re working so hard to try and put ourselves out there and make a difference, but at the end of the day there will still be those people who don’t want to listen,” Delgado said.
Pride may not change a hateful person’s mind, Clark says, but it can help change the tide for future generations.  “We need to have Pride so that those voices can be heard, we are far from liberation, we are far from being equal,” she said.
To me the most numbing things is this statement: “If you were my child and you turned out gay I’d burn you alive.,”  As the parent of three children, I cannot comprehend such a statement.  How does one get so warped and hate-filled?  In a word, religion.  Be it fundamentalist Christianity or fundamentalist Islam, the hatred is the same and all of the putrid mindset traces back to the Old Testament.  When is the larger public going to say "No More!" and start shutting down and shunning anti-LGBT religious extremism?

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The KKK is Energized by Donald Trump's Candidacy

I continue to have some hold out acquaintances who are Trump supporters even though they don't fit the typical profile of the Trump supporters, namely poorly educated, no college education and blue collar workers.  I've continued to try to subtly tell them that they really need to think about the company they are keeping within Trump's base of support: racist, nativist, and xenophobic.  Oh, and did I mention more than a dash of fascism?  The Associated Press has a major piece that looks at how the KKK is not only excited about Trump's candidacy but also enthused about riding the Trump wave to rebuild itself to where it once was in the bad old days following the end of Reconstruction.  Here are a few brief excerpts:
Born in the ashes of the smoldering South after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan died and was reborn before losing the fight against civil rights in the 1960s. Membership dwindled, a unified group fractured, and one-time members went to prison for a string of murderous attacks against blacks. Many assumed the group was dead, a white-robed ghost of hate and violence.
Yet today, the KKK is still alive and dreams of restoring itself to what it once was: an invisible white supremacist empire spreading its tentacles throughout society. As it marks 150 years of existence, the Klan is trying to reshape itself for a new era.
In a series of interviews with The Associated Press, Klan leaders said they feel that U.S. politics are going their way, as a nationalist, us-against-them mentality deepens across the nation. Stopping or limiting immigration — a desire of the Klan dating back to the 1920s — is more of a cause than ever. And leaders say membership has gone up at the twilight of President Barack Obama's second term in office, though few would provide numbers.
Joining the Klan is as easy as filling out an online form — provided you're white and Christian. Members can visit an online store to buy one of the Klan's trademark white cotton robes for $145, though many splurge on the $165 satin version.
Formed just months after the end of the Civil War by six former Confederate officers in Pulaski, Tennessee, the Klan originally seemed more like a college fraternity with ceremonial robes and odd titles for its officers. But soon, freed blacks were being terrorized, and the Klan was blamed. Hundreds of people were assaulted or killed within the span of a few years as whites tried to regain control of the defeated Confederacy. Congress effectively outlawed the Klan in 1871, leading to martial law in some places and thousands of arrests, and the group died.
The Klan seemed relegated to history until World War I, when it was resurrected. It grew as waves of immigrants arrived aboard ships from Europe and elsewhere, and grew more as the NAACP challenged Jim Crow laws in the South in the 1920s. Millions joined, including community leaders like bankers and lawyers.
The current hot-button issue for Klan members — fighting immigration and closing U.S. borders — is one of the most talked-about topics in the presidential election. Klan leaders say Donald Trump's immigration position and his ascendancy in the GOP are signs things are going their way.
"You know, we began 40 years ago saying we need to build a wall," Arkansas-based Klan leader Thomas Robb said.
Years ago, the group Robb heads near Harrison, Arkansas, changed its name from the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to the Knights Party USA, mainly to get away from the stigma associated with the Klan name. It now presents itself as more of a political or Christian entity.
In April, Klan members and other white supremacists held two rallies on the same warm Saturday in Georgia. As the sun set, about 60 robed Klan members and others holding flaming torches gathered in a huge circle in a field in northwest Georgia to set a cross and Nazi swastika afire.  "White power!" they chanted in unison.  "Death to the ungodly! Death to our enemies!"

Security Fears Mount Over GOP Convention

For many years the Republican Party has courted all of the ugliest elements of American society through its support for Christian religious extremism and the fanning of fears of delusional white supremacist/patriot groups.  Now, with the GOP convention within a few weeks and fascist in chief, Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, many of these lunatic elements plan on coming to Cleveland to either demonstrate or show their support for their version of the the Fuhrer.  Making things more tense is Ohio's "open carry law" - passed by Republicans, of course - that will allow many of the unhinged to come to Cleveland armed.  A piece in Politico looks at the possible circus and security nightmare that will likely ensue and certainly give political cover for GOP politicians who want to avoid the Convention and Trump at all costs.  Here are story highlights:
Hate groups are planning a visible presence among the thousands of protesters at the Republican National Convention. Police departments are raising flags about Cleveland’s preparedness to host the event. The committee organizing the convention recently warned that any last-minute changes to the city’s protest restrictions could make it impossible to guarantee conventiongoers’ safety. Then a judge threw out the plan.
It’s all forming a backdrop of uncertainty and anxiety less than three weeks before delegates congregate to nominate Donald Trump for president.
“It’s more dangerous. It’s going to be far more dangerous for every one of us,” said Regina Thomson, a delegate from Colorado.
The Committee on Arrangements — the Republican Party’s convention-planning body — has yet to issue safety and logistical guidance to delegates, guests and media, who will be arriving in Cleveland en masse in two weeks. But they’ll be walking into the marquee event of a political cycle marked by intense polarization, racial tension and anger. Activists — both pro- and anti-Trump — will flood the streets of downtown Cleveland, sometimes simultaneously, and could create a volatile atmosphere for conventiongoers.

Williams said the city is likely to issue revised boundaries for its protest zone on Wednesday, and details have begun to emerge in local media. The original plan was tossed by U.S. District Court Judge James Gwin last week after the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit, claiming the zone was too restrictive. Gwin said the so-called event zone — where protesters can stage marches and hold rallies — was “unduly large” and imposed overbearing restrictions on the hours in which protesters could demonstrate.
The convention itself, held inside Quicken Loans Arena, will be protected by the Secret Service, which will form a “hard” perimeter in the immediate vicinity of the event. The Cleveland Police Department, with the aid of other departments from around Ohio and the country, will patrol the broader “event zone” throughout the downtown area.
Delegates will be shuttled to and from the arena from hotels that will be staffed with 24-hour security. Craig Dunn, a delegate from Indiana, said he anticipates similar levels of security to the 2012 GOP convention in Tampa, where he recalled passing through multiple security cordons — including one that searched his bus for explosives — and shuttling past boats mounted with machine guns.
It’s the streets themselves where tension will run highest. Cleveland’s protest zone, even in its revised form, will permit demonstrators to roam freely, so long as they don’t block pedestrian or vehicle traffic. That raises the prospect of pro- and anti-Trump groups meeting in the same vicinity. Groups like the anti-LGBT Westboro Baptist Church intend to rally, and a white supremacist group at the center of a violent outburst in California last week has pledged to show up in Cleveland too.
Bresler noted that firearms will be allowed in the “event zone” because of Ohio’s status as an open carry state, even though other more mundane items will be banned — from water guns to tape to sleeping bags.

I for one would not want to be anywhere near Cleveland.  I suspect that many residents are less than pleases to be hosting the convention.

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House GOP Hear Bill Legalizing Anti-LGBT Discrimination One Month After Pulse Massacre

If my former Republican colleagues wonder why I hold the GOP in such contempt nowadays, they need look no farther than the GOP members of the House of Representatives, including the always despicable and hypocrisy filled Paul Ryan, who plan to hold a hearing for the passage of the deliberately falsely named "First Amendment Defense Act" which would give Christofascists the right to discriminate against LGBT citizens - and by extension others they dislike.  To make matters even more foul, the hearing will occur on the one month anniversary of the Pulse massacre in Orlando, a massacre motivated by anti-gay hatred.  Hatred that the House Republicans wish to legitimize and legalize.  Every one of the 170 sponsors in the House is a Republican excerpt for one, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL).  Here are excerpts from the Washington Blade:
A U.S. House committee has scheduled a hearing on July 12 for federal “religious freedom” legislation seen to enable anti-LGBT discrimination, the Washington Blade has learned.
The House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform is set to hold a hearing on the First Amendment Defense Act amid pressure from anti-LGBT advocates, including the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage, to move forward with the legislation.
Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who’s gay and a co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, denounced the committee’s decision to hold a hearing in a statement as “nothing more than an election-year stunt to rally conservatives at the expense of LGBT Americans.”
“In most states, you can get married on Saturday, post photos of your wedding to Facebook on Sunday and then get fired or kicked out of your apartment on Monday just because you’re gay,” Cicilline added. “FADA exacerbates this injustice by allowing religion to be used as a blanket excuse for denying LGBT people access to employment, housing, mental health care, emergency shelters and other essential services. This is wrong. Fairness and equality are core American values.”
Cicilline called on Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a supporter of the legislation and chair of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, to cancel the hearing.
If enacted - and not vetoed by President Obama - the so-called First Amendment Defense Act would bar the federal government from taking action against individuals or companies that discriminate against LGBT Americans on the basis of “religious belief or moral conviction.”  It would literally make Christofascists above the laws that govern the rest of America. There is no limit to the lengths that today's GOP will go to use hatred and bigotry to rally hate-filled and bigoted voters among the "godly folk."

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

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Britain Post Brexit - A Cautionary Tale for America

With many pundits and talking heads swooning and saying that the Breixt vote in the United Kingdom might be a clue for a Donald Trump victory in November, one would think that the pro-Trump forces and the forces of bigotry and xenophobia might want to spend a few moments considering what leaving the European Union could likely mean for Great Britain.  Besides the huge negative economic impact, the nation now faces renewed signs of splintering as Scotland plans to hold a new vote on exiting.  Even Northern Ireland is no longer a safe bet at remaining and there is a  stampede of Britons who are seeking Irish passports since it would allow them the benefits of remaining in the EU.  The right wing may be "taking back their country," but that country is likely to be much diminished and the poor even worse off than under the EU.  A Pyrrhic victory at best.  A piece in The Economist looks at more of the possible self-inflicted harm that awaits the UK - or what will be left of it.  Here are highlights:
Britons have benefited from a global version of the QWERTY syndrome; our ancestors defeated the French in the battle for European control of North America. Not only did this establish English as the global language, but the natural alliance with America helped Britain win two world wars. The use of English and the country’s geographical position has made Britain a natural base for international business and finance. By being on the “right side” of those wars, English people grow up with a fairly benign view of their role in history and are shocked to find that the Irish (let alone the Scots) and citizens of the countries we invaded have a much more jaundiced impression. In a sense, then, modern Britons were “born on third base and think they hit a triple.”
It was not always thus. Just 40 years ago, Britain was a mess. As a teenager I recall doing homework by candlelight in the power cuts of 1972, the three-day week, endless strikes and a widespread sense that Britain was ungovernable. It was a shabby, dirty country; when my mum hung out the washing in Peterborough, the soot from the brick chimneys made it dirty again. There was widespread racism; “Paki-bashing” was a favourite sport of teenage boys. In the late 1970s, more people were leaving Britain than immigrating;London’s population fell by a quarter between 1939 and the early 1990s. Slowly but surely, Britain changed. Was it the EU? Was it Margaret Thatcher’s reforms? Was it North Sea oil (another lucky break)? Whatever the reason, Britain became more confident, more vibrant, more multicultural. . . . The British economy was no longer the “sick man of Europe”, especially in the run-up to 2008. Yes, there was too much debt and too big a bet on financial services; but these were not the only areas where Britain was doing well. The car industry has been revived under foreign ownership; aerospace remains important, as does pharmaceuticals; and Hollywood calls on Britain’s creative and technical expertise. The sense of national decline had gone; people flocked to live and work in London as one of the world’s great cities.
Not everybody, of course, welcomed these changes. And I understand that it is easier for a middle-class Briton to feel more secure about it than for someone on the minimum wage. Workers in the developed world felt that the benefits of globalisation were passing them by. Still, Britain has had rather more success, post-2008, in driving down its unemployment rate than France, Spain or Italy.
Now in the space of a week, there is a sense that all that has changed. The referendum campaign seems to have awakened some “rough beast” within the British public; never mind a halt to immigration, some people think existing immigrants are about to be forced out. There are widespread reports of racist incidents and attacks.
Yes, of course, the 17m people who voted Leave did so for a wide variety of reasons, from sovereignty through to the hope that more money would be spent on the NHS. The Leave campaign was always an odd coalition between slightly eccentric back-bench Tories (who were also climate-change sceptics) and UKIP’s nativist instincts. Part of the reason for the post-referendum chaos is that there was no coherent plan for what a post-Brexit Britain would look like.  
[T]the country looks more like the Britain I remember from the 1970s and less the kind of country that I can feel proud about. And that matters because my children may soon lose the right to live and work in the rest of the EU, an insurance policy against nastiness at home. And if I feel that way, how many more talented, more mobile people, who came to Britain because it seemed like an open tolerant place, might decide to leave?  To illustrate the point, here is a tweet from an Italian living in London
Many international professionals already thinking of leaving London and move elsewhere. Not bc of legal status, bc they no longer feel home
And as they go, the people in this video will feel like they have won.

Do Americans want to suffer a similar economic free fall just so racists can feel good about themselves?