Saturday, April 19, 2008

More Saturday Male Beauty

Surrounded by People But NOT Alone

Today was a long day - a meeting with clients and would be investors for what could be come a major transaction/project. Today's presentation seems to have gone well and more follow up will take place tomorrow. After that, it will be a matter of waiting to hear back from accountants and legal counsel for the other parties. The meeting was followed by dinner at a upscale local restaurant called The Painted Lady. All in all it was a very positive day, but exhausting mentally.
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Since I will be stuck at the office much of tomorrow, I plan on meeting a friend from the Second Satrurday Salon and dancing at The Wave later tonight. I tease her that she's my "fag hag." She's a live wire and likes the accepting atmosphere of the club where there is always an assorted cross section of people, although the crowd is predominately gay. I always find dancing to be a good outlet for stress and a great energy release.
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I again want to thank all of you who have sent me messages of support including Vanyel, Lyndon, and MJS - who cares so deeply about me and points out that I should and take on a more positive approach. That it is very important to try and believe 'what I send out into this world, is what will come back to me.

Surrounded by People But All Alone - Update

I want to thank all of you who have been supportive through your telephone calls, e-mails and comments. It is very moving for me that a number of you care about me as much as you do. Some messages have given me things to think about in terms of self improvement efforts as well. I have been told that I am "a bit opinionated at times," which I will concede is an accurate statement. However, I really do try to back my opinions with facts and/or personal experiences so that I am not simply shooting my mouth off with no clue as to what the real facts are. If I am out in left field, I am never taken aback if one of you wants to point out perceptions or angles that I have perhaps over looked, so feel free to send me your thoughts.
Another reader commented that "you set your standards so high you'll never be able to reach them (in regard to a relationship)" and "I believe if you look back, there have been those who have been interested, but didn't quite come up to your standards." I truly do not think I am looking for perfection - I simply have a vision of what I would like in a partner and would really like to "get it right" the next time I enter into a relationship. At nearly 56, I figure I do not have time to waste screwing up on false starts. I know that I am far from perfect and accept the imperfections of others. Honesty, a decent level of intelligence, and a good heart are perhaps the highest prerequisites for me. I guess not being a total couch potato is another - I like quiet evenings at home, but also like to be involved in things that I'm passionate about (HRBOR, EV, gay activism, politics) and like many types of social settings.
I will also confess that at times I can be a bit obtuse when it comes to recognizing that someone is interested in me. In my closeted life, my former wife would often tell me at times that women were checking me out or flirting with me and I'd be utterly oblivious to it. In some ways, I am still that way in the gay dating world. Without some type of encouragement (and probably not all that subtle), I am likely to never make the first move so as to avoid being shot down in flames and humiliated. I will also admit that I have a real hang up about my age and wonder at times what I have to offer someone who is active and vibrant. The gay dating scene seems to place so much emphasis on youth and I can't deceive myself that I am young even if I do not act or feel "old." I would also say that I suspect that what some may see as aloofness at times is really me being afraid of rejection.
Again, thanks for all the friendship and support. It means ever so much to me.

The Part of Family Values - NOT

I regularly try to expose the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the anti-gay Republicans and the Christianists. Yes, they DO provide so much material. :) I found this site, Republican Offenders, via Pam's House Blend and love the site from what I have read of it so far. It contains a compilation of huges numbers of accounts of "family values" Republican officials of all levels of government involved in all kinds of less than Christian value activities. Not surprisingly, many of these self-professed guardians of family values have a predeliction for sex with minors, particulary under age boys.
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In my view, a perusal of this site confirms that the GOP views the "values voters" as a bunch of easily duped cretins who can be routinely induced to go to the polls based on a couple of hot button issues - gay bashing being one of the most favored - like lemmings. These "values voters" end up voting for individuals who must be secretly laughing at the whole affair. I am not against religion or people of faith. However, I do have a very hard time with people who are intellectually dishonest and/or lazy and who refuse to think for themselves and not be led by the nose like simpletons.
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In essence, religious fundamentalism is defined in my opinion as religious belief that shields the believer from having to exercise independent thought and/or analyze facts and reach a fact based conclusion. This fear of thinking in turn leads to a slavish idolatry to ritual (e.g., traditional Catholics) and closed mindedness. The end result is that demagogues - think Benedict XVI, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Karl Rove, etc. - play these people like a violin with the sheeple (to use one of Pam Spaulding's terms that I love) being blindly lead by those who use them for control, political power and personal wealth. It is a sad situation brought on by their own "deeply held religious beliefs." The GOP continues to cynically use these folks and they never catch on that they are being used.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Final Friday Male Beauty

Uruguay Holds Latin America's First Gay Wedding

Yahoo News is reporting that on Thursday Uruguay, another predominantly Catholic country, became the first nation in Latin America to marry a gay couple, after a law allowing couples living together to formalize their union went into effect at the start of the year. This places the USA - alleged land of liberty and freedom - falling further behind in the march toward equal treatment of all citizens. From what I have read on Uruguay, it seems to be an up and coming country and the beaches look gorgeous (see photo at left). Hey, I am a surfer, so I cannot help but notice beaches. One can only hope that some day LGBT citizens in the USA will be granted equal rights. Here are some story highlights:
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Judge Estrella Perez officiated the civil union between Adrian Figuera, 38, and actor and theater director Juan Carlos Moretti, 67, in a courtroom before a small group of friends and family, as witnessed by an AFP reporter. Moretti later told AFP that after living together for 14 years, he and Figuera thought their marriage was "a matter of justice and a step forward for Uruguayan society."
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The so-called "cohabitation union law" went into effect on January 1, allowing heterosexual and homosexual couples living together for at least five years to receive the same legal rights and benefits that traditional marriage bestows.

Hypocrisy at the Heart of the GOP.

Out Magazine has an article on the ongoing hypocrisy that plagues the Republican Party, particularly in Washington, D.C. It focusses on the gay-baiting, outwardly gay hating closet cases - think former Congressman Ed Schrock form Virginia Beach - who in private can't wait to have some hot gay sex themselves. When one of their number gets caught, all of a sudden they want to keep "private lives" private even though the anti-gay laws they pass impact directly on the private lives of the rest of us. My attitude is that if they want their private life to remain private, then stop meddling in the private lives of other gays. One standard should apply to all: if you want to secretly suck dick, then do NOT tell others how to live their sex lives. Based on the article, Congressamn Barney frank agrees and is a supporter of my friend Mike Rogers of BlgActive.com. I recommend a read of the entire article, but here are some highlights:


Once upon a time, closeted gay people mostly feared outing by Washington cops or counterintelligence agents. Now the main danger to closeted Republicans -- especially those working for antigay legislators -- comes from other gay people like Washington activist Michael Rogers. Rogers’s website BlogActive regularly outs gay Republicans -- whom Rogers considers fair game if they actively fight against the rights of gay people in their public lives or work for a legislator who does. (Because Larry Craig has a miserable record on gay rights, readers of Rogers’s blog knew all about the Idaho senator’s bathroom-based proclivities long before he was arrested for them in Minneapolis.)
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What Rogers does makes some Democrats squeamish, because they think no one should ever decide for someone else when he must come out of the closet.
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But Representative Frank is not among Rogers’s detractors.“I think what Rogers does is legitimate,” Frank tells me. “I think hypocrisy is something to go after. If you had pro-life people having abortions, or if Sarah Brady had a gun, there would be no hesitation. Think of any other context in which people would be allowed to blatantly violate the public policies they advocate and say, ‘I have a right to keep this secret.’”
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Practically all Republicans -- and quite a few Democrats -- disagree with Frank about this, but the Massachusetts pol has never hesitated to fight fire with fire in Washington’s inflammatory culture wars. Frank recalls that in 1989, Republican hit man Lee Atwater (Karl Rove’s role model) tried to imply that newly elected Democratic House speaker Tom Foley was gay by comparing his voting record with Frank’s and accusing Foley of occupying a “liberal closet.”
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Frank struck back at once: He announced that if the Republicans didn’t back off, he would out every gay Republican politician he knew. Atwater immediately sued for peace: He had the White House switchboard track down Foley to tell him the attacks would stop forthwith.
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One mainstream reporter who is revolutionizing the way Washington sees its gay subculture is Jose Antonio Vargas, a 27-year-old native of the Bay Area who came out in high school at 17. Hired by The Washington Post two days after he graduated from San Francisco State University in 2004, Vargas started in the Style section, where he was assigned to write about the culture of video games.
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When I ask Vargas what his own attitude is toward gay Republicans, he says that he’s fascinated by them: “When I lived in the Bay Area, I thought they were an urban myth!” “I don’t think I’m sympathetic towards them, and I don’t feel sorry for them,” he continues. “That’s not my job. I didn’t want to demonize gay Republican staffers. It’s not about being gay per se: If you come out on the Hill and you’re a Republican, you lose power.”
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Vargas actually got the best description of the downside of official Republican attitudes toward gay people when he was reporting a story that had nothing to do with politics. Marsha Martin, an AIDS administrator, was explaining the reason for the resurgence of unsafe sex among young gay men. “The truth is, the urgency of the HIV prevention messages we’ve been sending -- Safe sex only! Use a condom! -- has worn off,” Martin said. “And if you think about the political and social climate we’ve been in and we’re still in, what message is that sending to gay men? ‘No, you can’t get married as gay couples.’ ‘No, you can’t be openly gay in the military.’ ‘No, you don’t have equal rights.’ Those things produce a lack of self-esteem, a kind of self-loathing, and in that environment is HIV.”

More Friday Male Beauty

Robert Reich Endorses Obama

Former Clinton Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, has endorsed Barack Obama, becoming another former high level Clinton administration official to say a definitive "no" to Hillary Clinton's ruthless ambitions. I agree with his reasoning and assessment of what Hillary's campaign has become. It is disgusting and under no circumstances can the country afford a Clinton restoration. We need a president with some level of integrity and Hillary fails that test badly. Her vile nastiness and caving in to the worse type of GOP tactics will be her own undoing. Here are highlights of Reich's comments from New York Magazine:
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I saw the ads" — the negative man-on-street commercials that the Clinton campaign put up in Pennsylvania in the wake of Obama's bitter/cling comments a week ago — "and I was appalled, frankly. I thought it represented the nadir of mean-spirited, negative politics. And also of the politics of distraction, of gotcha politics. It's the worst of all worlds. We have three terrible traditions that we've developed in American campaigns. One is outright meanness and negativity. The second is taking out of context something your opponent said, maybe inartfully, and blowing it up into something your opponent doesn't possibly believe and doesn't possibly represent. And third is a kind of tradition of distraction, of getting off the big subject with sideshows that have nothing to do with what matters.
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Those ads are nothing but Republicanism. They're lending legitimacy to a Republican message that's wrong to begin with, and they harken back to the past twenty years of demagoguery on guns and religion. It's old politics at its worst — and old Republican politics, not even old Democratic politics. It's just so deeply cynical."

Friday Male Beauty

State by State LGBT Equality Rankings

eQualityGiving has an interesting (and depressing depending upon one's state of residence) chart that ranks states based upon their treatment of LGBT citizens. Among the factors considered are whether the state has hate crimes protections, employment non-discrimination protections, marriage equality, laws allowing for amending ones gender, LGBT youth protections, and laws allowing same-sex parenting rights. Under this criteria, LGBT friendly states can receive up to a 6 ranking. Currently, no state achieves a 6 ranking, although California gets a 5.5. In contrast, Virginia ranks only a score of 1.5. (Virginia does allow birth certificate amendments and the situation on parenting rights is untested, but no other protections are provided to LGBT citizens).
Take a look at the cahrt and find out whether or not you are a second class citizen in your home state.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Philadelphia Daily News Endorses Obama

The Philadelphia Daily News has endorsed Barack Obama for the April 22, 2008 Pennsylvania Primary. As I have stated a number of times, Obama is not perfect, but he represents in my view the best chance for the nation to move forward in a new direction in the future. Hillary, despite her claims to the contrary, would gurantee a return to the worse aspects of the 1990's - constant partisan attacks and no doubt countless bimbo erruptions or worse from Bill Clinton - without a chance of making need changes. The country needs someone who can be a uniter. Hillary will only bring division and rancor. Here are highlights from the Daily New's endorsement:
THE CHOICE in Tuesday's Democratic presidential primary is not only the one between a white woman and a black man. It's a choice between the past and the future. More specifically, the nation must decide how to face the future racing toward us in the form of slumping home sales, unstable financial markets and increased joblessness - and staring at us from the Green Zone in Iraq and the beds at veterans hospitals.
This is a campaign that really began six years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001. Not only was the U.S. attacked and seriously wounded, it did not bounce back the way "the land of the free and home of the brave" should have. In fact, it still suffers from post-traumatic stress.
Contrary to Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign slogan, we believe Barack Obama is more likely to be "ready on Day One" to lead us in a new direction. Because of his experience.

Sure, Clinton has more "experience" of a sort. For one thing, she has 14 more years on earth. How much of this experience is directly applicable to the job of president is, at best, debatable.
We are frankly troubled by her assumption that her husband's administration and accomplishments were her own. And if her equation holds, that the first spouse is an equal partner in the administration, then the reappearance of Bill Clinton in the White House is a prospect we have a hard time reconciling with the work that needs to be done.
THERE IS a way to match Clinton's and Obama's performances on a relatively equal playing field: their campaigns. A candidate's campaign may be the best indicator of how she or he will govern. If so, an Obama administration would be well-managed, inclusive and astonishingly broad-based. It would make good use of technology and communicate a message of unity and, yes, hope.

It would not be content with eking out slim victories by playing to the narrow interests of the swing voters of the moment while leaving the rest of the country as deeply divided as ever. Instead, an Obama administration would seek to expand the number of Americans who believe that they have a personal stake in our collective future - and that they have the power to change things.
Obama's unprecedented appeal to younger voters is significant not only because it expands the electorate, which is vital. It's also a validation of his promise as a president to be free of the baby-boomer/Vietnam/segregation-era hangups. Younger people are more egalitarian, more accepting of diversity, and more comfortable with rapid change. They also are less confined by old resentments or regrets. AND AN OBAMA administration would lower the tone of the rhetoric that separates us. Most candidates claim that they will change the way business is done in Washington. Barack Obama has made us believe that, yes, he can.

The Chimperator on Global Warming

video

Billy of Kenya Worm sent me this video which he has posted on his blog. Billy's note to me was: "Of all the blogs that I read, I thought you might appreciate this most of all... Just got this sent to me so you might have seen it already, but this made my sides split!"

Thursday Male Beauty

Further Thoughts on the Papal Visit

Deepak Chopra has a post on the Washington Post that reflects on Benedict XVI's visit and correctly concludes that the Pope and the institutional hierarchy are too tainted to turn around the Church's decline in America. Benedict is attempting to shift responsibility for cleaning up the mess to bishops, yet many of these men are part of the problem and, if they had any true decency and morality would resign from their positions. Archbishop Mahoney of Los Angeles is a case in point. Instead of cooperating and coming clean, prosecutors described Mahoney and his minions as worse to deal with than organized crime figures. Such actions do not evidence shame or remorse. Rather, as is always the case with the bishops, cardinals and Pope, the real story is about power and money. The bottomline is that the Church leadership will give lip service to being contrite, sorry or whatever adjective springs to mind, but their actions will tell the true story. At the same time, they will continue to persecute gays most of whom have more integrity and morality than the self-style abiters of morality. Here are highlights from Chopra's comments:
The public was outraged at the leniency of the Church toward child abuse in the priesthood, their policy being to quietly whisk the offenders off for rehabilitation through prayer and counseling. The secular position was that these priests were criminals who should be punished with long prison sentences. . . . pedophilia was a legal offense, and expectations for any kind of rehabilitation were low, given that pedophiles obsessively repeat their actions over and over, sometimes hundreds of times. The psychopathy was well documented, and priests were no exception.

We know how this current crisis is going to keep unfolding. Lawyers and prosecutors will hound the Church, more lawsuits will be filed and won, more victims will come forward, and the Church will try to hold on to as much of its money and property as possible. As for the general decline in church attendance, there's no reason to feel that this trend, now decades old, will be reversed. Yet the Pope clings to the notion that lack of faith is the core problem and regaining faith the ultimate solution. How can he think otherwise when that is the very foundation of the Kingdom of God? The tragedy is that the mystery of the two worlds affects us all, and the Church has become too tainted by scandal to offer answers that might satisfy a new generation of seekers.

Surrounded by People But All Alone

A number of regular readers have commented on the fact that I have not done any posts about my personal life of late. I guess I haven’t done so for a couple of reasons, but principally because I have been in a somewhat down mode of late. The post title describes how I often feel at times. I’m one of Obama’s “bitter” voters, except I have not clung to guns and God. Instead, I have thrown myself into activism efforts which at times overlap with marketing legal services to the LGBT community.
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On the activism front, I do keep busy between HRBOR, and now the effort to launch a LGBT community center. These efforts have vastly expanded my social net work and, more importantly, they allow me to try to make a difference. I truly want to do all that I can so that future generations of gays can have a better life and not suffer what I endured for so many years. Another lifeline is this blog and the wonderful readers and bloggers I have come to know. Their e-mails, comments and telephone calls make a huge difference in my life and provide happiness, humor and friendship. Unfortunately, all of them are located hundreds of miles away from this area.
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Another very positive front is my children. Yesterday my oldest daughter (the blonde in the photo) called to give me an update on her efforts to get a permanent counseling position (she has been working as a long term substitute at a high school). She believes that she has a good shot at a local high school which is pretty progressive – it has a GSA – and has a student oriented outlook (a refreshing concept in public education). My son has not sent any more e-mails or uploaded any more photos as yet, but did leave a phone message for his older sister the other day reporting that he was alive and well. My youngest daughter (the brunette) continues to be a joy and a worry. She will be in town the weekend of the 26th and we plan to get together. I am so happy that my relationship with them is back on a good level. There have been times during my dark days in the past when they are the only thing that has kept me going and prevented me from ending it all. I hope they know how much I love them.
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The biggest downer is the financial stress from a dead real estate market - even investor work has slowed markedly - which has made it essential for the law firm to bring in more work of other varieties. While making significant inroads with the LGBT market, I continue to be amazed at the number of gays who have their work done by local firms which would NEVER consent to having an openly gay partner and would force an openly gay partner out of the firm (been there, done that). Oh yes, these firms disingenuously sign the required non-discrimination forms of Virginia’s top law schools that bar firms from interviewing on campus if they discrimination against gays in hiring. Meanwhile, the few closeted gays at large local firms – I know a couple of attorneys at a prominent firm that has interviewed at UVA for decades always signing the statement - live in utter terror of having their sexual orientation discovered. Why do gays continue to subsidize such firms?
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Then there’s the dating front desert – I feel like I am stranded in the middle of the Sahara. Friends tell me I’m wonderful and a great catch yet there’s no line at the front door. Some say I intimidate people – I’m not sure why, since I consider myself pretty laid back except on certain political issues and my opposition to the Christianist agenda. Others say or imply that I am too “out” and that the vast multiple of quasi-closeted guys in this area would be afraid of being linked to me romantically. With no employment non-discrimination protections in Virginia these guys do have reason to worry. Nonetheless, I have no desire to climb into someone else’s closet after what I have gone through to get to the self-acceptance level I have achieved. Then, of course, there is the issue of not wanting to merely settle for someone less than what I truly want/need.
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I hope this update satisfies inquiring minds. :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Masturbation 'Cuts Cancer Risk'

As I recall, I saw a similar study last year which besides noting the beneficial aspects of frequent ejaculation also indicated that Catholic priests had an unusually high rate of prostate cancer I suppose as a result of less sexual release (I guess the priests who got prostate cancer were not the ones getting off raping altar boys). This study from Australia found that the more frequently one ejaculated, the lower the cancer rate. I suspect that the Christianist will NOT be happy with this news. But then, they never believe in science anyway. Here are some highlights from the BBC:
Men could reduce their risk of developing prostate cancer through regular masturbation, researchers suggest. They say cancer-causing chemicals could build up in the prostate if men do not ejaculate regularly.
They found those who had ejaculated the most between the ages of 20 and 50 were the least likely to develop the cancer. The protective effect was greatest while the men were in their 20s. Men who ejaculated more than five times a week were a third less likely to develop prostate cancer later in life.
Dr Giles said fewer ejaculations may mean the carcinogens build up. "It's a prostatic stagnation hypothesis. The more you flush the ducts out, the less there is to hang around and damage the cells that line them." A similar connection has been found between breast cancer and breastfeeding, where lactating appeared to "flush out" carcinogens, reduce a woman's risk of the disease, New Scientist reports.
Anthony Smith, deputy director of the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University in Melbourne, said the research could affect the kind of lifestyle advice doctors give to patients. "Masturbation is part of people's sexual repertoire. "If these findings hold up, then it's perfectly reasonable that men should be encouraged to masturbate," he said.

Wednesday Male Beauty

Sally Kern's Anti-Gay Rants Are Hurting Business

Hopefully some other cities - e.g., Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake for starters - will learn from Oklahoma City the possible consequences of harboring anti-gay sentiments and/or electing extreme homophobes to office. It seems that while the Kool-Aid drinkers in Oklahoma City are reveling in Kern's message of hate, big bussiness and the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce in particular are less than joyous. In fact, they are already learning that Kern's posionous mindset is turning away progressive businesses and has made the city a place consultants advise clients to avoid.
I have stated in the past and say again that the LGBT community needs to use its financial purchasing power to punish states, cities and businesses that are anti-gay and take their gay dollars elsewhere. With a purchasing power greater than that of the Africa American community within the USA, a concerted LGBT boycott of cities and/or products WOULD have an impact. In short, hate should carry a price. According to this story from the Oklahoma City Journal Record, perhaps it is already happening in Oklahoma City. Here are some highlights:

OKLAHOMA CITY – A San Francisco Bay-area financial services company has not yet ruled out Oklahoma City for a major office relocation, a vice president of a real estate search firm confirmed. A decision is expected in three to four weeks. But Tom Maloney, vice president of California-based Staubach Co., would neither confirm nor deny that the 1,000-employee, AAA-rated client company’s top executive is a lesbian who expressed concern over Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern’s recent anti-homosexual statements, as has been the topic circulating among local business leaders.
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Roy Williams, president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, said the issue is a major concern the chamber is trying to address. He confirmed a Staubach consultant was troubled by Kern’s comments during a recent visit to the city. “He told us straight up … ‘I cannot recommend to any of my clients that they should consider Oklahoma City because of that,’” Williams said. “When you have one of the nation’s premier relocation experts making those statements, you should pay attention to that and not dismiss it.
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The significance of the Staubach visit to Oklahoma has grown with e-mail rumors. A representative of a national gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender (GLBT) organization said notes are being circulated that the unidentified company is actually a motorist group – skewing references to the company’s triple-A credit rating – that 6,000 jobs are involved, and that the executive stormed out of the meeting in anger. When asked about Kern’s recorded statements and their effect on any potential company relocations to Oklahoma City, Maloney said, “I’ve got no comment as to what, if any, impact that they’ve had.”
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As for Kern’s comments, “They no doubt send a message out there that no city wants to send, and that is one of divisiveness instead of unitedness,” he said. For the last five years, the chamber has made a greater effort “to embrace differences and embrace diversity, to build a community that is open and welcoming to anyone.”

Nearly 6 in 10 Say Hillary is Not Honest and Trustworthy

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll reveals that nearly six in 10 surveyed said that she [Hillary] is not honest and trustworthy. And now, compared with Obama, Clinton has a deep trust deficit among Democrats, trailing him by 23 points as the more honest. My only question is: what took them so long to figure out what they should have known even before Hillary announced her campaign? The Clintons have always been challenged when truth and veracity are involved. The recent flaps over Hillary's rewriting the history of her trip to Bosnia, her false account of a pregnant woman who died, and her depiction of herself as a beer drinking, gun toting, Bible reader have only demonstrated what was in my opinion always in plain view if one but looked for it. Increasingly, her campaign looks like an example for future candidates of how NOT to run a campaign. Her expensive advisors are robbing her blind. Here are some highlights from the Washington Post:


Lost in the Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign's aggressive attacks on Barack Obama in recent days is a deep and enduring problem that threatens to undercut any inroads Clinton has made in her struggle to overtake him in the Democratic presidential race: She has lost trust among voters, a majority of whom now view her as dishonest.
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Her advisers' efforts to deal with the problem -- by having her acknowledge her mistakes and crack self-deprecating jokes -- do not seem to have succeeded. Privately, the aides admit that the recent controversy over her claim to have ducked sniper fire on a trip to Bosnia probably made things worse.
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Clinton is viewed as "honest and trustworthy" by just 39 percent of Americans, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, compared with 52 percent in May 2006. Nearly six in 10 said in the new poll that she is not honest and trustworthy. And now, compared with Obama, Clinton has a deep trust deficit among Democrats, trailing him by 23 points as the more honest, an area on which she once led both Obama and John Edwards.
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Among Democrats, 63 percent called her honest, down 18 points from 2006; among independents, her trust level has dropped 13 points, to 37 percent. Republicans held Clinton in low regard on this in the past (23 percent called her honest two years ago), but it is even lower now, at 16 percent. Majorities of men and women now say the phrase does not apply to Clinton; two years ago, narrow majorities of both did.
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The new poll suggests that much of her problem is with men. Nearly two-thirds of men said Clinton is not honest and trustworthy (an increase of 19 points), compared with 53 percent of women (up 12 points). Democratic men, in particular, have shifted: About four in 10 now do not believe Clinton to be honest and trustworthy, nearly triple the percentage saying so in 2006.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fundamental Change - The Christian Right British Style

The Christianists in the USA have made great efforts to export their posionous version of Christianity abroad, with the UK being but one targeted country where kindred wingnuts have been encouraged to try to take over existing churches. The campaign - or dare I say crusade - is having mixed results partly due to the societal differences between the USA and UK. This Newstatesman article takes a look at the situation. As always with these hate merchants, the LGBT community is a favorite target. What must Christ think of those who use fear, hate and the demonization of others to spread their version of his Gospel? One can only hope that the British public will see this strain of religious fundamentalism as just as potentially dangerous and corrosive as Islam fundamentalism. Both need to be stopped and suppressed if they seek to intermix religion in the civil laws. Here are some highlights:
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Both politically and theologically, conservative Christianity is now a militant and rapidly growing force, in Britain and globally. Evangelicalism, which centres around the Bible as the revealed word of God - with an emphasis on personal conversion and an imperative to spread that word - is almost the default position for many Anglican clergy these days, but also for most other Protestant and Nonconformist sects: from the good old Methodists and Baptists to some of the more exotic fringes of Pentecostalism.
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The conservative evangelicals are the ones who do not hesitate to tell that nice, Guardian-reading, self-designated hairy lefty, Rowan Wil liams, Archbishop of Canterbury, that he's a false teacher and a heretic. They noisily assert that they wouldn't allow him in their churches to preach because he would only confuse their congregations with wrong doctrine. They are also the ones who have chosen opposition to homosexuality as the litmus test for Anglican orthodoxy and have made it the issue that has come close to dividing the 70 million-strong worldwide Church.
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The particular sinfulness of homosexuals was a visceral issue, one which they believed would unite their supporters in a way that a few years earlier women's ordination could not. Female priests divided them: many evangelicals knew women (some had even married them), whereas gay people are more easily demonised, especially as the Bible in a few scattered references says homosexual practice is wrong.
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Conservative Christianity has been much less effective in Britain than in the US because it has less social and political influence, less unchallenged access to the media - and less money. But there is certainly a desire in some quarters to mimic the tactics of the US right. They think they are winning the argument, but fear they may be losing the war. They assume that because the world is against them, that means they must be right. But the ultimate irony is that the more urgently they profess the need to win the nation for Christ, the more they repel those they say they most wish to save.

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Benedict XVI Says He Is "Deeply Ashamed" of Sex Scandal

The old maxim that actions speak louder than words is a good standard by which to evaluate the truthfulness of Benedict XVI's claim that he is “deeply ashamed” of the Roman Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal in the USA. Since no bishop or cardinal involved in the shuffling of sexual predators from parish to parish or who was involved in threatening and brow beating victims and parents during the cover ups has been removed from office or thrown out of the priesthood, I hate to say it, but I believe what Benedict XVI is really ashamed of is the fact that the truth got out and the moral bankruptcy of the Church's clerical leaders was exposed. True shame and sorrow for the sins against children in any other institution would have lead to forced resignation, demotions, and all types of consequences. But not in the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Law and others deeply implicated in the cover ups get to live out very comfortable retirements - or like Cardinal Eagan of New York remain in office - at Church expense. Would that I could be so punished. Here are highlights from the New York Times' account of Benedict XVI's crocodile tears (note how he blames all betrayal on the individual priests and not the hierarchy):


Pope Benedict XVI landed at Andrews Air Force Base on Tuesday afternoon, beginning a six-day visit after a flight in which he told reporters aboard his aircraft that he was “deeply ashamed” of the Roman Catholic Church’s child sexual-abuse scandal in the United States.


The pope began his visit by addressing an issue that has wounded the Catholic Church in the United States, telling reporters on his aircraft that the sexual abuse of children has caused “great suffering” for the church and “me personally.” The scandal has produced thousands of sexual abuse victims and about 5,000 accused priests since it erupted in 2002 and has cost the church more than $2 billion in settlements. He said “As I read the histories of those victims, it is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betrayed in this way. Their mission was to give healing, to give the love of God to these children. We are deeply ashamed and we will do what is possible that this cannot happen in the future.”


But as pope, Benedict has done or said or done little publicly about the abuse issue until now. Advocates for victims have criticized the church for failing to call to account bishops who allowed abusive priests to remain in the ministry. Peter Isely, a national board member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday that he was glad to hear the pope acknowledge the sexual abuse problem more clearly than before, but that words alone are not enough. “If you don’t reprimand, discipline and sanction bishops that know about sex crimes against children, then no matter else what you do, you are not getting at where the real problem is,” Mr. Isely said.

Another Actor Comes Out

Luke Macfarlane, the Canadian actor who plays Scotty Wandell on TV's Brothers & Sisters, has come out of the closet in an interview with the Globe and Mail in which he explains why he's decided to go public with his own sexuality. Personally, I believe that for well know actors and other public figures to come out publicly is one of the best means to counter the Christianists who seek to depict LGBT individuals as stereotypical carricatures and/or freaks. The more middle America sees normal gays in varying careers, the harder it is for the Christianist to continue their campaign of lies and decit. I applaud Macfarlane for his courage. Here are some highlights from the interview:


LOS ANGELES — Next month, in the season finale of his hit television series Brothers & Sisters, Canadian actor Luke Macfarlane will dress his best and say his vows as his character, Scotty Wandell, marries his partner, Kevin Walker. But the episode also holds personal resonance for Macfarlane, who wants to be married himself some day, and has finally decided to go public with his own sexual orientation.
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Though no secret to his family and close friends, Macfarlane has, until now, been guarded about his personal life as a gay man. Over lunch in Los Angeles, where he lives, he initially insists that he has no concerns about his public revelation - but a few seconds later he is shifting nervously in his chair, and concedes that he is "terrified." "I don't know what will happen professionally ... that is the fear, but I guess I can't really be concerned about what will happen, because it's my truth.

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The episode, which started shooting yesterday and will air on May 11 on ABC and Global, is a monumental step in television culture, he says. "From a standing outside perspective, and also as someone who is gay, I think that it's a very exciting time. How exciting that we're saying, 'This can be part of the cultural fabric, now,' because it is two series regulars, two people that you invite into your home and you see every week.
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"Most importantly, in portraying gay people, the more we realize it's just like portraying anybody else and, gay marriage, it's not about two people being gay, it's about two people who love each other and who have decided to commit to each other for the exact same reasons any other couple would get married. Hopefully, the more that becomes part of the cultural awareness it won't be," he pauses and says, employing a mock, exaggerated voice of a television announcer, "a spectacular Sunday episode."

Tuesday Male Beauty

Possible Key to Titanic’s Doom

Since I was a child I have always been interested in the Titanic and its tragic story. I think I first became aware of Titanic watching the old 1953 movie "Titanic," starring Clifton Webb, Barbara Stanwyck and a very young Robert Wagner (who I thought at the time was VERY hot). Since then, I have read countless books on the ship's sinking, including survivor accounts. After Robert Ballard discovered the wreck in 1985, the first installment of artifacts from Titanic were brought into Norfolk and unloaded at the Waterside slip. Since an attorney friend of mine was representing the salvagor, I got to go and see some of the materials and had the members of the underwater team autograph my copies of "A Night to Remember" and "The Night Lives ON" by Walter Lord. Later, many of the items were dislayed at Norfolk's Maritime Museum, including a large section of the hull, and my son and youngest daughter wentt ot he exhibition.

Because of this long time interest, I found today's news of a new theory of why the ship's hull may have failed in the collision with the iceberg interesting. The theory seems to make sense and would eplain why the glancing blow to the ship caused such a long area of flooding. Here are story highlights:
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Researchers have discovered that the builder of the Titanic struggled for years to obtain enough good rivets and riveters and ultimately settled on faulty materials that doomed the ship, which sank 96 years ago Tuesday. The builder’s own archives, two scientists say, harbor evidence of a deadly mix of low quality rivets and lofty ambition as the builder labored to construct the three biggest ships in the world at once — the Titanic and two sisters, the Olympic and the Britannic. For a decade, the scientists have argued that the storied liner went down fast after hitting an iceberg because the ship’s builder used substandard rivets that popped their heads and let tons of icy seawater rush in. More than 1,500 people died.
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Now, historians say new evidence uncovered in the archive of the builder, Harland and Wolff, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, settles the argument and finally solves the riddle of one of the most famous sinkings of all time. The company says the findings are deeply flawed. Apart from the archives, the team gleaned clues from 48 rivets recovered from the hulk of the Titanic, modern tests and computer simulations. They also compared metal from the Titanic with other metals from the same era, and looked at documentation about what engineers and shipbuilders of that era considered state of the art.
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Many of the rivets studied by the scientists — recovered from the Titanic’s resting place two miles down in the North Atlantic by divers over two decades — were found to be riddled with high concentrations of slag. A glassy residue of smelting, slag can make rivets brittle and prone to fracture. “Some material the company bought was not rivet quality,” said the other author of the book, Timothy Foecke of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a federal agency in Gaithersburg, Md.
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For its part, Harland and Wolff, after its long silence, now rejects the charge. “There was nothing wrong with the materials,” Joris Minne, a company spokesman, said last week. Mr. Minne noted that one of the sister ships, the Olympic, sailed without incident for 24 years, until retirement. (The Britannic sank in 1916 after hitting a mine.) “It’s fascinating,” said Tim Trower, who reviews books for the Titanic Historical Society, a private group in Indian Orchard, Mass. “This puts in the final nail in the arguments and explains why the incident was so dramatically bad.”
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The Titanic had every conceivable luxury: cafes, squash courts, a swimming pool, Turkish baths, a barbershop and three libraries. Its owners also bragged about its safety. In a brochure, the White Star Line described the ship as “designed to be unsinkable.”

Voters ARE Bitter - GOP Economic Policies Hit Home

I continue to wonder what planet Hillary Clinton has be sojourning on if she thinks voters are happy and full of mirth. My day to day dealings with real estate investor clients indicate that many ARE bitter about what has happened to them and the larger economy. This is confirmed by a new Associated Press-AOL Money & Finance poll that found that 60 percent of those surveyed said they definitely won't a buy a home in the next two years. Obviously, that means dire things for the already devastated domestic housing market. In addition, many voters are worried about their ability to continue making mortgage payments. The GOP economic policies of no regulation and delusion have wreaked havoc on the USA. Worse yet, with the cautious if not down right defeated mindset of the public, no upturn seems to be at hand. I can vouch for the fact that the real estate market is utterly dead in this area. Moreover, many real estate investors find themselves financailly strapped and/or are considering filing for bankruptcy protection. Prices have not fallen, but at the same time, very little is selling; Here are some story highlights:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- One in seven mortgage holders worry they may soon fail to make their monthly payments and even more fret that their home's value is shrinking, according to a poll showing widespread stress from the nation's housing crisis. In an ominous snapshot of how the sagging real estate market and sour economy are intersecting, the Associated Press-AOL Money & Finance poll also found that 60 percent said they definitely won't a buy a home in the next two years.
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In today's economic climate, even holding onto what they already have is a challenge and source of distress for significant numbers of homeowners. Nearly three in 10 said they are concerned their home's value will decline over the next two years, while 14 percent of mortgage holders expressed worry that they might miss payments in the next six months.
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One nervous homeowner is Daniel Gallego, a warehouse worker in Stockton, Calif., who said in a followup interview that he may have to sell his house at a big loss. "We may have to move in with my wife's parents or my parents," said Gallego, 30, who has two young children. "I could pay off some debt, then we could rent, and maybe buy another house in a few years."
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The number envisioning falling prices in their area has grown to one in four, while four in 10 think prices will rise, a decrease from two years ago. Expectations for rising prices are highest in the South, with Westerners likeliest to predict they will drop.
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The public anxiety is in reaction to an economy that is veering toward recession and losing jobs even as the housing market sputters badly. Foreclosures have soared to record highs, mortgage rates have increased, sales of existing and new homes have fallen and home values have dropped. Gus Faucher, director of macroeconomics for Moody's Economy.com, a consulting firm, estimated that 9 million homeowners owe more on their home than its worth. He said his company believes home sales are at or near bottom and home values will continue to fall until early next year.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Final Monday Male Beauty

Phallic Jesus?

This photo of a less than well thought out light switch cover is via Magic Bellybutton . I can only wonder what the Hell was the designer of this switch cover thinking? Or not think! It definitely looks like something that would have been for sale in a Catholic Church gift shop from when I was a child. Maybe they can make up some in honor of Benedict XVI's visit to the USA.

Gay Sex and Lots and Lots of Videotape

Yet another "family values" Republican has turned out to have an almost unquenchable thirst for gay sex. Bruce Barclay, a Republican commissioner of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania (pictured at left with Karl Rove), was initially accused of rape -- of a man, no less -- and police, investigating the allegation of rape of the 20-year old found videotapes of hundreds of sexual encounters with men that Barclay had filmed on high-tech surveillance cameras. I'm not sure of the precise number of men he had sex with but the encounters are said to number between 100 and 500. The word hypocrite seems far too inadequate to describe someone like Barclay who is active in a political party that has the denigration and marginalization of gays as a party platform plank yet he's out having more gay sex than is imaginable by most gay guys. Here are some highlights:
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Barclay's lawyer issued a strong denial ("This accusation of rape is ludicrous It will be defended forever and is wrong."). But it was clear things were looking pretty dicey. Until... vindication! Well, sort of.
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On March 31st, police, investigating the allegation of rape by the 20-year old Marshall McCurdy, obtained a warrant to search Barclay's home. They didn't find evidence of rape. But they did find videotapes of hundreds of sexual encounters with men that Barclay had filmed on high-tech surveillance cameras. The cameras were hidden inside AM/FM radios, motion detectors and intercom speaker systems, among other places. There was also one at his business office.
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None of the subjects were aware they were being filmed and no permission had been obtained, Barclay admitted. According to a second warrant issued on April 9th, Barclay also admitted to hiring prostitutes on a weekly basis from the now-defunct website harrisburgfratboys.com.
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As so accurately noted by Blogernista:
It has been clear for a long time that Republicans are far more obsessed with gay sex than any of us card carrying militant homosexuals. In the light of day Republicans foam at the mouth about The Gay Agenda to destroy marriage and Western Civilization while behind closed doors they are engaging in amounts of gay sex that most of us don’t even dream of.

More Monday Male Beauty

Two Men Kissing Deemed More Offensive Than Graphic Decapitation


A new poll on WhatTheyPlay.com shows just how f**ked up our society remains in terms of the acceptance of gays. By a small margin, when asked, parents found that scenes of a graphic decapitation were LESS offensive for viewing by children than scenes of two males kissing. There are truly somedays when I'd just like to leave American society. Here some commentary on the poll results:

In the modern parenting spectrum of objectionable content, apparently two men kissing somehow equates to imagery so vile, that it would be worse for a child to view such an act than a graphic decapitation. As WhatTheyPlay.com editor John Davidson said, "W.T.F?"

We've got a long, long way to go, people, and I hope that our gay video game developing constituents begin to pay more attention.

98% of Historians Vote Bush Presidency a Failure

It's always nice to know that professionals share in your evaluation. A new poll of professional historians has shown that 98% of those polled deem the Chimperator's presidency a failure. Equally revealing is the fact that 61% see him as the worse president in the nation's history. That's right - dead last. I have to agree with both evaluations. Tarzan’s side kick, Cheetah, would probably have out performed Bush. Here's more from U. S. News & World Reports:
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President Bush often argues that history will vindicate him. So he can't be pleased with an informal survey of 109 professional historians conducted by the History News Network. It found that 98 percent of them believe that Bush's presidency has been a failure, while only about 2 percent see it as a success. Not only that, more than 61 percent of the historians say the current presidency is the worst in American history.
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Among the reasons given for his low ratings: invading Iraq, "tax breaks for the rich," and alienating many nations around the world. Bush supporters counter that professional historians today tend to be liberal and that it's too early to assess how his policies will turn out.

Monday Male Beauty




The Sinking Catholic Ship - On The Titanic's Deck

I missed this column in last week's Washington Post by Susan Jacoby - a former Catholic like me - which gives what I believe is a good perspective on the Catholic Church in America. As she points out, but for the influx of hispanic Catholics into the country, the number of U.S. Catholics would be declining, something the Church leadership and the news media both fail to acknowledge. Personally, I hold out little hope for any change in direction of the Church because Benedict XVI and the rest of the current leadership continues to appoint fellow reactionaries to the College of Cardinals thereby insuring that the next Pope will be as equally out of touch with reality as Benedict XVI who stirkes me as thinking of himself as a modern day Augustus Caesar. Here are some column highlights:
The most significant fact about modern American Catholicism appears in a recent report on the changing U.S. religious landscape by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Although 31 percent of Americans were raised as Roman Catholics, only 24 percent consider themselves Catholics today. One in ten adult Americans--a stunning figure--have left the church for another religion or have abandoned organized religion altogether. The saying, "Once a Catholic, always a Catholic," a favorite maxim of the nuns in the parochial schools I attended, is no longer true.

In 1960, 5.4 million children attended American Catholic schools. Today, the figure is down to 2.4 million and falling. More Catholic schools close every day. Two-thirds of Catholic seminaries have closed since 1965; during the same period, the number of young men training for the priesthood dropped from 49,00 to 4,700. There were nearly 180,000 nuns in 1965; today, there are fewer than 67,000.

There is absolutely nothing that Pope Benedict can do to reverse the decline of his church's authority over American Catholics. Don't be deceived by the television coverage of the pope's visit, which will surely emphasize the positive--the crowd that will show up at Yankee Stadium for the pope's public mass, the platitudes about religious pluralism that will emerge from everyone's mouth as this man who considers himself infallible in matters of faith and morals pretends to be open-minded and tolerant.

During the early 60s, the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, under Pope John XXIII, aroused the hopes of many Catholics who wanted the church to abandon its strictures against contraception and divorce, who wanted priests to be able to marry, and who later wanted women admitted to the priesthood. When John died, and was replaced by increasingly conservative successors, it became clear that those hopes for liberalization and reform would not be realized.

Nearly three decades later, the scandal of priestly pedophilia finished the work that the disappointments of the sixties had begun. The church tried to stonewall at first. When that failed, and an angry laity took its case to the press (both Catholic and secular), the church began to try to hush the victims of sexual abuse with financial settlements. What the church did not do was acknowledge its moral culpability as an institution and try to repair the lives that its priests, in many cases with the full knowledge of their ecclesiastical superiors, had devastated. I don't think anything that Benedict could possibly say, at this late date, could restore the kind of faith that makes even many former Catholics say, with nostalgia, "It was the only THE church."

Church Going Gun Owner

That's how Hillary has been trying to portray herself to Pennsylvania voters. Obviously, she must think the voters there are beyond moronic if she expects them to believe that snake oil pitch. Meanwhile, when asked when the last time she attended church and/or fired a gun, here's Hillary's response, while saying that information was "not relevant." Here's the CNN quote:


After a weekend spent making direct appeals to gun owners and church goers, Hillary Clinton said Sunday a query about the last time she fired a gun or attended church services "is not a relevant question in this debate” over Barack Obama’s recent comments on small town Americans. “We can answer that some other time,” Clinton said at a press conference held in a working class neighborhood here. “This is about what people feel is being said about them. I went to church on Easter. I mean, so?”

My advice is do NOT expect an answer to this question any time soon - if ever. My other reaction is that while watching the "debate" last night, I seriously thought I would vomit listening to Hillary endlessly saying the words "faith" and "grace." The woman is utterly disingenuous and clearly will say whatever she thinks the particular audience in front of her wants to hear. Someone please get me some Malox or Mylanta!!


Meanwhile, Obama called Hillary out on her ridiculous depiction of herself. I love this quote:


"She is running around talking about how this is an insult to sportsmen, how she values the Second Amendment. She's talking like she's Annie Oakley,'' Obama said, invoking the famed female sharpshooter immortalized in the musical "Anne Get Your Gun.'' Obama continued, saying "Hillary Clinton is out there like she's on the duck blind every Sunday. She's packing a six-shooter. Come on, she knows better. That's some politics being played by Hillary Clinton.''

Sunday, April 13, 2008

More Sunday Male Beauty

More Insincerity from Hillary

I have read the comments made by Barack Obama the other day which have now set off a lot of pontificating and in my view disingenuous commentary:
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And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
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Personally, I do not see what the big deal is. Once again, Obama's sin, if any, is that he dared to speak the truth. From all my reading of various Christianist web sites, Obama correctly assessed the situation in a nutshell. The followers of the James Dobsons, Don Wildmons and others of that ilk in this country ARE bitter and they DO cling to their guns and religion in an attempt to live with the often bleak economic and/or emotional realities of their lives. The outgrowth is fear and hatred towards anyone who is different or provides a scapgoat for perceived woes. Thus, gays are blamed for undermining the family, immigrants are blamed for job losses, and those of other religions are depicted as threats to America. Any one or anything that disturbs the fragile mental construct of small town voters in the end must be opposed.
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True to form, Hillary Clinton is jumping on the band wagon to bad mouth Obama. Not that Hillary has a clue of what the financial realities of those Obama described. Between her Senate salary, the millions her Slick Willie gets for speaking engagements, and the other unexplained funds that Bill has been sucking in, Hillary lives in an utterly different planet from these folk. Unfortunately, that will not stop her from saying and doing anything she can think of to try to destroy Obama. I truly dislike Hillary more with every additional insincere and disingenuous thing she does. At least one person is bitter - me. I'm bitter that no one in the main stream media has the guts to slam Hillary for her sleazy tactics.
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Over the last decade or more, one of the biggest problems in this country has been that politicans do not tell the voters the truth, be it about government spending or the bigotry and prejudice that may underlying voter views. Unfortunately, the main stream media is no better when it comes to calling a spade a spade. Because of this, we have ended up with the toxic regime of the Chimperator and the Iraq War disaster. The surest way to continue down this ill-advised path is to elect McCain or Hillary as president. Here are highlights from MSNBC concerning Hillary's scorched earth tactics:
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But the Clinton campaign fueled the controversy in every place and every way it could, hoping charges that Obama is elitist and arrogant will resonate with the swing voters the candidates are vying for not only in Pennsylvania, but in upcoming primaries in Indiana and North Carolina as well.
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They handed out "I'm not bitter" stickers in North Carolina, and held a conference call of Pennsylvania mayors to denounce the Illinois senator. In Indiana, Clinton did the work herself, telling plant workers in Indianapolis that Obama's comments were "elitist and out of touch." Clinton attacked Obama's remarks much more harshly Saturday than she had the night before, calling them "demeaning." Her aides feel Obama has given them a big opening, pulling the spotlight away from troublesome stories such as former President Clinton's recent revisiting of his wife's misstatements about an airport landing in Bosnia 10 years ago.
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One of Clinton's staunchest supporters, Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., acknowledged there was some truth in Obama's remarks. But he said Republicans would use them against him anyway.

LGBT Standing United

De Sube left a very kind comment on yesterday's post about the Equality Virginia conference on Transgender issues yesterday. She understates her own contribution and deserves a huge "thank you" for all the work and coordination that she put into the event. I think the thing that I gained the most from the conference - I was thinking about it while mowing the grass earlier today - was a renewed appreciation that all of us in the LGBT community share something in common: we are all God's sons and daughters and each of us shares in a common humanity that should take precedence over everything else.
Would that the hate merchants of the Christian Right would ever bother to take the time and get to know us and talk with us. I suspect that if the Christianists ever did - something that will sadly I doubt will ever happen - they would find out that we are all in essence alike. True, how we perceive ourselves, who we fall in love with, how we pesent ourselves varies greatly. However, beneath the surface we are the same. Moreover, we all deserve respect and the chance to find happiness without others denigrating us and endeavoring to make us something less than fully human.

Sunday Male Beauty


Azalea City Images and Random Thoughts




Spring is one of the most beautiful times of year in this area (fall is the second most beautiful), particularly when the azaleas - a type of rhododendron - come into bloom with all the varied hues and sizes. My own yard has quite a few azaleas of differing varieties so that they bloom in a staggered sequence as opposed to all in one busts of color. Azaleas are great for lazy gardeners since they need pretty much no special care and many varieties do not even need pruning, naturally retaining a nice shape.
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Norfolk has a large azalea festival each spring which highlights the beauty of the area and also highlights the international connections of the area through NATO which brings personnel from 26 nations to the area. Each year an azalea queen is selected from one of the NATO countries - this year is the Netherlands - and there is much pomp and circumstance at some of the events, complete with young military officers in full dress uniforms.
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Yes, you guessed it, some of the military escorts are VERY hot. Moreover, often some of them can be found in the local gay clubs nothwithstanding Don't Ask Don't Tell. I have known a couple former military guys who have photos of themselves in full dress uniform with the President of the United States from the time when they were honor guards at the White House. It's ironic that while the Chimperator panders to the Christianists, he frequently has gay boys as his guards. What would Daddy Dobson say? It clearly shows that DADT is an utter farce and serves no purpose other than aiding the Christianist agenda of marginalizing and stigmatizing LGBT citizens whenever possible.

Papal Disconnect

Dan Barry has a column in the New York Times that describes much of the felling I had before I finally gave up and left the Roman Catholic Church - or it left me. In some ways, I believe it was the latter. My faith and beliefs have actually changed very little and my moral standards likewise remain pretty much the same. What changed was that I could no longer quell my impatience and disgust with a senile, morally bankrupt, aloof and utterly discontected Church leadership that (1) knows little - and cares even less - about the actual lives of their flock, (2) has no concept whatsoever of what it is to be a spouse or parent, and (3) cares more about appearances and the equivalent of ritualistic bellybutton contemplation than doing what is morally right - e.g., truly punishing and/or removing those who allowed sex abuse of children to occur and then did all they could to cover it up. Here are some highlights from Barry's column:


Let me say at the outset that I am your classic stumbling, grumbling, trying-to-sort-it-all-out American Catholic. I consider myself a practicing Catholic because I dearly need the practice. My family and I attend Sunday Mass with some regularity, though not always at the same parish — in case anyone is taking attendance.


Pope Benedict XVI plans to visit the United States this week, a tour that will include touchstones in my own life — ground zero, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Yankee Stadium — and will attract throngs of American Catholics. Still, beyond the fact that I’m not much of a throng guy, I will not be among those craning their necks for a glimpse. I feel a palpable papal disconnect.

The disconnection I feel may be rooted in the good old American distrust of monarchs and frippery. And, unlike American Catholics of 150 years ago, I do not feel the sting of prejudice that would cause me to embrace the pope in defiant declaration of my faith. Since the day my in-laws first displayed their papal blessing nearly 50 years ago, much has happened to wear away at the authority of the pope. For stumbling, grumbling worshipers like me, though, obedience to the pope has morphed into a respectful taking of his pronouncements under advisement — a cafeteria-like approach that drives more rigid Catholics to the brink of saying the Lord’s name in vain.

As Peter Steinfels, the Beliefs columnist for The New York Times, recently noted, there is nothing particularly new in this tension. He wrote that many American Catholics “honor the pope yet disagree with papal positions, whether about using contraception, restricting legal access to abortion, ordaining married men or women to the priesthood or recognizing same-sex relationships.” I would add to that list disgust, more than mere disagreement, with the way the church has handled the priest scandals of the last decade.