Saturday, August 06, 2011

Saturday Male Beauty

The Economic Meltdown’s True Villain

With the S & P downgrade of U.S. debt securities the GOP will be going into hyper-drive to tie the fault on Obama and the Democrats. As the chart at left from the Boston Globe demonstrates (click the image to enlarge it), the real villain behind the nation's debt problem is Chimperator George W. Bush and the then GOP controlled Congress that rubber stamped every spending binge item the hapless Bush and Emperor Palpatine Cheney requested. Will the Democrats who seem clueless on messaging and getting the truth out be able to get the public to fully understand where fault lies? I'm not holding my breath. Meanwhile, The Daily Beast has a column that does a great job delving into how Bush/Cheney got the nation into its current economic free fall. Here are highlights:

As we thunder toward a double-dip recession on a possible worldwide scale, let’s step back and remember how all this happened. . . . . . Obama is not the villain in this story. Every time I step back and ponder this sordid history, I am amazed that the Republican Party has any credibility and even 100 members of Congress, let alone a sizable House majority and enough juice to be driving the nation’s agenda as it is.

George W. Bush ran up $6.4 trillion. That’s nearly half—44.7 percent—of the $14.3 trillion total. We all know what did it —two massive tax cuts geared toward the rich (along with other similar measures, like slashing the capital gains and inheritance taxes), the off-the-books wars, the unfunded Medicare expansion, and so on. But the number is staggering and worth dwelling on. In a history covering 30 years, nearly half the debt was run up in eight. Even the allegedly socialist Obama at his most allegedly wanton doesn’t compare to Dubya; and Obama’s debt numbers, if he’s reelected, will surely not double or even come close as we gambol down Austerity Lane.

In percentage terms, the case is even more open and shut. . . . The percentages in question here are debt as a chunk of the GDP. It was more than 100 percent after World War II ended, for defensible and obvious reasons having to do with financing the war effort (the government buying all those tanks and planes from GM, and everything else). But after it went back down, it had tended to hover in the 40 to 50 percent range during good times. Well, Reagan raised it 20 points, to 53 percent from 33 percent. Bush Sr. a gaudy 13 points more. Clinton lowered it by 10 points, back down to 56 percent. Bush Jr.? Up 28 points, to 82 percent of GDP. Obama has raised it nine points. Once again: In a 30-year increase from 32 percent to 93 percent of 61 points, nearly half, 28 points or 46 percent, happened under Bush.

Were there protest marches, mass donnings of tricorn hats, nullification threats from states regarding federal legislation [during the Bush years]? Of course not. In real time, there was a little polite caviling, but in the end they [the GOP] voted for all this debt.

It is truly an incredible record when you stack it up. First, the party fought tooth and nail against every single move Clinton made that ended up putting us in surplus. Then it got power—and let’s not get into how that happened—and ran up completely unprecedented debts and deficits. Then it put the foxes in command of the henhouses at the SEC and OTC and brought the world to the very brink of total economic collapse.

A football coach with a similar record would be selling cars. A movie director with one would be lucky to be making instructional videos. A bank president would likely be in jail. But here we are. It just goes to show what you can accomplish when the richest 1 percent of the country pays you (and pays you, and pays you) to lie, and to believe fairy tales. But it’s hard luck for the rest of us.

Again, will Americans be educated by Obama and the Democrats to know the truth? They need to be, but the hapless Democrats seem to know nothing about how to play hardball politics and beat down dishonest GOP talking points. It doesn't bode well for the country.

Christianists Still Shrieking Over DADT Repeal

Tortured, self-loathing closet case Robert Knight is so hysterical over the repeal of DADT repeal that one can't help but wonder if he'll wet himself or go into a convulsion. Knight and I had multiple e-mail exchanges some years back and the guy is simple "too hysterical" on the issue of homosexuality if you get my drift. Add to that the fact that he's a pathological liar when in comes to anti-gay batshitery - he admitted in one e-mail to me that his statements on a particular topic were not true yet not two days later he was disseminating the exact same lies - and the only possible conclusion is that guy is a real piece of work in need of serious mental health care intervention. In a rant on OneNewsNow - a Christianist faux news site - Knight hyperventilates as follows:

"This is huge. This could have generational impact,” explains Knight. “And it can't stand. It will wreck our military. People of good conscience will have to leave the military and in fact many have already said they're going to."

"It was brought about with junk science, with a misrepresented survey that was leaked to the press for maximum effect -- and that ought to be investigated. In fact, that's one thing Republicans could do right now is to call for hearings into the misuse of that survey of U.S. personnel and see how the results were slanted," says the family advocate.
News bulletin to Knight and the readers of OneNewsNow: the only junk science being peddled is that disseminated by OneNewsNow and Mr. Knight. And yes, DADT repeal will have a generational impact as the younger generation is influenced by accurate knowledge on the issue sexual orientation as opposed to religious based bigotry and Christianist hysteria. All of which will not bode well for Knight, et al, as their market of Kool-Aid drinkers continues to shrink. Knight might do well to hook up with "Marcia" Bachmann and come over from the dark side.

Rick Perry - Extremist or Morally Bankrupt Political Whore?

Today is the day that Texas governor and possible GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry will hold his "The Response" event in Houston which will show case some of the nastiest far right religious extremists in the nation. The event is clearly a evangelical Christian nutcase event and one has to wonder whether Perry - sometimes rumored to be a closeted gay - actually believes the Christofascist bullshit or if he's simply the cheapest of pandering political whores. The gathering will feature many in the Christian Taliban who, if allowed to do so, would transform the USA into a Christianist version of Iran. The Washington Post looks at this foul gathering and highlights some of the top hate merchants who will be no doubt in top demagogic form. Here are some highlights:

The event, originally conceived by Perry before he started laying groundwork for a presidential campaign, is one of the most explicit appeals to conservative Christians by any of the Republican hopefuls, and it will closely link his candidacy to his evangelical faith if he decides to run.

Evangelical Christians make up a critical voting bloc that could comprise more than half of the voters in some of the GOP primaries. But liberals are criticizing Perry, highlighting the controversial comments of some of the people he has invited to participate. And some Republicans worry that the Texas governor could hurt his prospects of winning the general election if he chooses to emphasize religion . . .

The event “might play well in Iowa or South Carolina, but I’m not sure how well it plays in New Hampshire, Florida or Michigan. It’s too much of an overt mixing of religion and politics,” said John Feehery, a Republican strategist who was a top adviser to then-House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (Ill.) “Rick Perry has got to decide if he wants to run for president or run to replace Pat Robertson.

Officially, the event is non­political. Perry does not have a formal presidential campaign staff, and the American Family Association is paying for the rental of the 71,000-seat stadium. Organizers don’t detail positions on any major policy issues on the event Web site; instead, they list seven religious points they agreed on, such as “We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.

Some of the groups and figures involved are highly controversial. Following the Fort Hood shootings two years ago, a top official at the American Family Association, Bryan Fischer, said Muslims should be not allowed to serve in the U.S. military. He has also suggested Adolf Hitler and the German soldiers who carried out the Holocaust were gay, and their sexual orientation was part of the reason they orchestrated the mass killings.

A Texas pastor named John Hagee, who is listed on the event’s Web site, has suggested Hitler and the Holocaust were part of God’s plan to drive Jews from Europe.

Some Republican strategists privately say that highlighting the party’s opposition to gay marriage in particular turns off young and swing voters. They say Perry can avoid annoying these voters if the event remains largely about prayer instead of crossing into those sorts of issues.

Given who some of the other speakers will be (Mother Jones has a run down on them here), I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that some very extreme batshitery will come down and that Perry may well come to rue prostituting himself to the worse elements of hate and intolerance in the nation. He'll likely have to disavow some of the hate and bigotry - and thereby piss off the loonies - or stand by it and horrify normal, rational voters.

Friday, August 05, 2011

More Friday Male Beauty

Obama bars U.S. Entry for Violators of LGBT Human Rights Abroad

The Obama administration has taken a step that I applaud: those engaging in LGBT persecution overseas will be barred from entering the United States. Obviously, the bigger question is when will Obama call for action against those engaging in LGBT persecution within the United States and U.S. citizens and churches actively supporting LGBT persecution overseas? Obviously, this latter action would mean that Obama would have to advance measures that would punish his BFF Rick Warren - not to mention Warren's Christianist allies who have played a major role in fanning anti-LGBT hatred in Africa. Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade has a story on this latest action. Here are highlights:

President Obama issued a proclamation on Thursday that could prohibit those engaging in LGBT persecution overseas from entering the United States.

The proclamation bars entry of immigrant and non-immigrant aliens who organize or participate in war crimes or serious violations of human rights — which could include those seeking to pass legislation in Uganda that would institute the death penalty for homosexual acts.

“The United States’ enduring commitment to respect for human rights and humanitarian law requires that its Government be able to ensure that the United States does not become a safe haven for serious violators of human rights and humanitarian law and those who engage in other related abuses,” Obama states.

Specific language in the proclamation explicitly states that those who persecute people based on their “sexual orientation and gender identity” are among the categories of those who won’t be able to enter the United States.

“The proclamation also bans admission to the United States for those who are complicit in organizing these abuses — not just those who carry them out,” a White House fact sheet states. “As such, it allows the United States to act before planned abuses and atrocities metastasize into actual ones.”

The proclamation gives the secretary of state, or the secretary’s designee, the authority to identify people who won’t be able to enter the United States based on this new guidance.

Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, said the order gives the Obama administration “an important tool to use in dissuading extremist actions that are prejudicial to basic human rights, and in encouraging the development of inclusive laws and societies.”

“The Council praises this move, which could in principle be used to justify the exclusion of hate-promoting politicians like Ugandan parliamentarian David Bahati, who introduced a ‘kill the gays bill’ in a previous legislative session in Uganda and may do so again,” Bromley said. “That bill, of course, would have carried dire consequences for LGBT individuals in Uganda.”

Obviously, American Christianists who have worked hand in glove with Bahati need to face consequences as well. One thought - don't allow them back in the USA and make them live in the Hell hole countries where they are spreading hate. And while at it, let's cut off the export of money to finance LGBT persecution.

Australian Police Link at Least 26 Suicides to Sexual Abuse by Catholic Priests

Even as the Vatican and disingenuous, corpulent bishops shed crocodile tears and make dishonest statements of remorse for the world wide conspiracy that aided and abetted priest who preyed on children and youths the deadly toll of the Church hierarchy's sins continues to become increasing visible. Both The Age and the Herald Sun are carrying stories that link at least 26 suicides to sexual abuse by Catholic clergy (Peter Curran, once such suicide victim is pictured at right). Yet no one in the hierarchy has been punished and the sheeple continue to give financial support to and kiss the wide asses of the Vatican and occupants of bishoprics who ought to in many cases be behind bars. It is beyond sickening to anyone with an ounce of true morality. Here are highlights from the Age:

Then he will go to a crowded and tense County Court in Melbourne where notorious paedophile Christian Brother Robert Charles Best, 70 - one of a ring of Catholic educators and a priest who sexually brutalised and terrorised many of the city's children over years - will be sentenced on 27 counts relating to sexual violence against children aged seven to 13.

The extent of the appalling child sexual abuse by Best, convicted paedophile Father Gerald Ridsdale, the then parish priest, Christian Brother Edward Dowlan, and others, largely at three local schools, may never be known. The multi-generational damage they have inflicted on families, including the spouses and children of their victims, is, however, decades later, almost palpable.

An alleged church cover-up of the crimes condemned the child victims to further torment, while more potent evidence of the abuse can be found in various graveyards where 24 young men are buried. They killed themselves, according to university researcher Detective Sergeant Kevin Carson, in the years after the abuse by Best and Ridsdale. Steven believes his brothers and cousin are among them.

Steven's life story, as with many of those who suffered at the hands of paedophile priests and religious institution educators, is a litany of self destruction. He fled Ballarat for many years because he couldn't bear the painful memories of the prolonged sexual abuse by Best and Ridsdale that started in grade 6. He was aged 10.

Best once forced him and another boy to strip and fondle each other in front of him, and Ridsdale raped him when he went to talk to his priest about the abuse by others. Peter Curran's family believes the abuse from Best, Dowlan and Ridsdale that Peter suffered in Ballarat caused him to take his life with a knife. He used tell him wife, Colleen Curran, how much he hated the Catholic Church and that he wanted his children to never enter one.

Colleen learnt from Peter - who went to St Paul's, St Alipius and St Pat's - that he had fought back against his abusers, but the "men of God" then beat him up. He told her he had been beaten, aged nine, at home and accused of lying when he told his family what had happened at school. As an adult, he used go out at night with a sledge hammer to destroy church property and did damage at St Patrick's College and at St Alipius primary school.

Colleen Curran will not go to court on Monday to hear the judge sentence Best, described in the legal proceedings as evil, a bully and a pervert. Instead, she will tell her dead husband: "They got the bastard, finally."

They may have got Best, but the occupant of the throne of St. Peter and countless bishops and cardinals continue to go unpunished. As a parent myself, if I were the parent of one of these suicide victims, I honestly cannot say that I would not want to engage in some vigilante justice of my own against those who knew of the abuse and did nothing other than protect the sexual predators. I can say one thing, however: I will never, ever set foot in a Catholic Church again. Never, ever.

S & P Downgrades U.S. Credit Rating

Standard & Poor's - which demonstrated its utter incompetence in giving top ratings to what turned out to be junk grade investments comprised of sub prime mortgages bundled as "Investments" - has down grade United States government securities fro AAA to AA+. In doing so, S&P cited the "political gridlock" in Washington - i.e., the GOP refusal to face objective reality and stop trying to destroy the economy and the federal government in an effort to win political points. The only good news is that the other two rating agencies, Moody’s and Fitch, have said they have no immediate plan to downgrade the USA's credit rating. Thus, in theory the federal government has more time to make progress on debt reduction and other issues impacting the U.S. economy. Therefore, the split verdict of the rating agencies limits the impact of the S.& P. downgrade - at least for now. Will the GOP get the message or will they continue to try to destroy the country in the hope that the typically uninformed and unengaged electorate will reject Barack Obama and embrace those who bear ultimate responsibility for most of the nations economic ills? Frankly, I'm not optimistic given the mainstream media's failure to do investigative reporting and report all the facts. Based on the last 2+ years, the main stream media "journalists" will merely regurgitate GOP talking points as if the GOP lies were true. Here are highlights from the New York Times:
Standard & Poor’s removed the United States government from its list of risk-free borrowers on Friday night, citing concern about the rising burden of the federal debt.

The nation’s rating was reduced to AA-plus for its long-term debt, one notch below the top rating of triple-A.

S.& P., one of the three major agencies that assign grades the credit of companies and governments, had threatened the downgrade if the government did not act to reduce the federal debt by at least $4 trillion over the next decade. Earlier this week, Congress instead passed a plan to reduce the debt by at least $2.1 trillion.

Treasury Department officials said that the S.& P. announcement was delayed after Treasury found a serious mathematical error in a draft of the downgrade announcement, which was provided to the government Friday afternoon. The officials said that S.& P. inadvertently added $2 trillion to its projection of the federal debt, significantly overstating the problem confronting the government.

The announcement by S.& P. came after a week of turmoil on Wall Street not seen since the days of the financial crisis. After plunging around 5 percent on Thursday, stocks bounced up and down Friday and closed relatively flat.

Even with the rating agencies split, S.& P.’s downgrade could become an election-year liability for President Obama. Fair or not, critics are likely to point to it as evidence of his failure to get the government’s finances under control.

There is also a financial cost. The federal government makes about $250 billion in interest payments a year. So even a small increase in the rates demanded by investors in United States debt could add tens of billions of dollars to those payments.

In addition, the credit rating agencies have said that a downgrade of government debt would probably be followed by downgrades of other entities backed by the government. For example, the said, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-controlled mortgage companies, would be downgraded, raising rates on home mortgage loans for borrowers.

Dozens of counties and even a handful of states — including Maryland, Virginia, and New Mexico — might also be downgraded because of their local economies’ strong ties to Washington.

Yes, Virginia may suffer a financial cost from this. Will it be enough to cause Bob McDonnell to stop giving political fellatio to the Tea Party and extremist elements in the GOP? Personally, I'm not going to be holding my breath.

Friday Male Beauty

Misplaced Priorities on the Economy

Paul Krugman has a column in the New York Times that in part repeats what he's been saying all along - the economy is in trouble and appropriate steps have not been taken to try to fix it. Housing continues to see a downward spiral - the supposed programs to help distressed home owners keep their homes is the most incompetent mess one would ever hope to see - and unemployment remains abysmally high. The result is declines in consumer spending and a case of Congress and the White House figuratively fiddling while Rome burns. Sadly, I have come to believe that the GOP is relishing the mess believing that the worse things get, the better their chances of retaking the White House. The number of families losing their homes and the struggles of average citizens aren't even on the radar. Here's Krugman's assessment of the misplaced concerns of those who might have made a difference:

In case you had any doubts, Thursday’s more than 500-point plunge in the Dow Jones industrial average and the drop in interest rates to near-record lows confirmed it: The economy isn’t recovering, and Washington has been worrying about the wrong things. . . . . It’s now impossible to deny the obvious, which is that we are not now and have never been on the road to recovery.

For two years, officials at the Federal Reserve, international organizations and, sad to say, within the Obama administration have insisted that the economy was on the mend. Every setback was attributed to temporary factors — It’s the Greeks! It’s the tsunami! — that would soon fade away. And the focus of policy turned from jobs and growth to the supposedly urgent issue of deficit reduction. But the economy wasn’t on the mend.

[W]hen employment falls as much as it did from 2007 to 2009, you need a lot of job growth to make up the lost ground. And that just hasn’t happened. Consider one crucial measure, the ratio of employment to population. In June 2007, around 63 percent of adults were employed. In June 2009, the official end of the recession, that number was down to 59.4. As of June 2011, two years into the alleged recovery, the number was: 58.2.

These may sound like dry statistics, but they reflect a truly terrible reality. Not only are vast numbers of Americans unemployed or underemployed, for the first time since the Great Depression many American workers are facing the prospect of very-long-term — maybe permanent — unemployment.

And why should we be surprised at this catastrophe? Where was growth supposed to come from?
Consumers, still burdened by the debt that they ran up during the housing bubble, aren’t ready to spend. Businesses see no reason to expand given the lack of consumer demand. And thanks to that deficit obsession, government, which could and should be supporting the economy in its time of need, has been pulling back. Now it looks as if it’s all about to get even worse. So what’s the response?

To turn this disaster around, a lot of people are going to have to admit, to themselves at least, that they’ve been wrong and need to change their priorities, right away. Of course, some players won’t change. Republicans won’t stop screaming about the deficit because they weren’t sincere in the first place: Their deficit hawkery was a club with which to beat their political opponents, nothing more . . .

But the policy disaster of the past two years wasn’t just the result of G.O.P. obstructionism,
which wouldn’t have been so effective if the policy elite — including at least some senior figures in the Obama administration — hadn’t agreed that deficit reduction, not job creation, should be our main priority. Nor should we let Ben Bernanke and his colleagues off the hook: The Fed has by no means done all it could, partly because it was more concerned with hypothetical inflation than with real unemployment . . .

The point is that it’s now time — long past time — to get serious about the real crisis the economy faces.
The Fed needs to stop making excuses, while the president needs to come up with real job-creation proposals. And if Republicans block those proposals, he needs to make a Harry Truman-style campaign against the do-nothing G.O.P.

This might or might not work. But we already know what isn’t working: the economic policy of the past two years — and the millions of Americans who should have jobs, but don’t.
It's pretty distressing stuff - especially since Obama and the Democrats have no spines and will likely allow the GOP to control the political messaging just as they have for the last two years. It makes me sick and angry.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

More Thursday Male Beauty

Bible and Nukes Don't Mix

I have written a number of times about the Christianists within the U. S. Military on issues ranging from Christianist intimidation and proselytizing at the U. S. Air Force Academy to mandatory attendance at Christianist themed events at nearby Fort Eustis in Newport News. The Air Force has gotten itself once more in the news over a story about what could best be described as Christianist indoctrination in the context of training for for new missile launch officers - a frightening concept inasmuch, as noted yesterday, Christians have the least qualms about military actions that kill civilians. Here are highlights from CNN:

The Air Force has suspended an ethics briefing for new missile launch officers after concerns were raised about the briefing's heavy focus on religion.
The briefing, taught for nearly 20 years by military chaplains at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, is intended to train Air Force personnel to consider the ethics and morality of launching nuclear weapons - the ultimate doomsday machine.

Many of the slides in the 43 page presentation use a Christian justification for war, displaying pictures of saints like Saint Augustine and using biblical references.

"Abraham organized an Army to rescue Lot," one slide read, referring to the story of the Hebrew patriarch and his nephew found in the book of Genesis. "Revelation 19:11 Jesus Christ is the mighty warrior," another slide read.

The Air Force halted the class last week after 31 missile launch officers reported the religious nature of the briefing to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a watchdog group which tries to ensure religious freedom among the troops.

"There were several things that they found disgusting," Mikey Weinstein founder of the foundation said. "The first was the fact that there is actually a slide that makes it clear that they're trying to teach that, under fundamentalist Christian doctrine, war is a good thing."

Weinstein said his group had to act. "We were literally blown away by what we saw on the slide presentation. And one of the first things I did was to contact some of the most senior leadership for the Air Force in the Pentagon and made it very clear that this has to stop immediately," Weinstein said.

The Air Force said headquarters officials were not aware of the religious component of the ethics course, despite it being taught for nearly two decades by chaplains. . . . A review is underway at the base to see if an ethics briefing is needed at all.
The Christianists can rail all they want about Islamic fundamentalists and extremists, but in truth they are just as serious a menace as their Islamic counterparts. They have truly turned Christianity into something very evil.

Is the GOP's Plan to Destroy the Economy to Defeat Obama Working?

Today's blood bath on Wall Street has left me feeling physically sick - I've likely lost a big chunk of my inheritance from my late mother However, I'm even sicker knowing that the plunge in the Dow was likely part of a cynical calculation by the GOP. Yes, part of the plummet in the Dow relates to events in Europe, but a good portion relates to the bleak economic reality here in the USA. The debt ceiling deal will result in federal spending cuts that will compound on top of the severe cuts already made in the states - all of which will further depress consumer spending. Remember, John Boehner has boasted that he got "98% of what he wanted." What he wanted - not what was good for the country.

The chart above makes it clear just how depressed the economy is at this point - clearly we are in the worse economic down turn during the last 130 years save and except the Great Depression. And now, we are about to experience a reprise of FDR's mistake in 1937 which caused a second down turn. A down turn that was only over come by the vast spending associated with World War II.

It is truly disturbing that the GOP, in my opinion, is willing to sacrifice the nation's economy and the lives and finances of millions of Americans all so that they can attempt to guarantee that Barack Obama is a one term president. Politico has a long article that looks at the likelihood that Obama may not be re-elected in 2012. The thought of another far right GOP president is scary. But that's the GOP's goal and sadly Obama has played into his enemies' hands. Here are highlights (read the whole article):

The politics of the debt fight were a drag for President Barack Obama, yanking his popularity to new lows. Here’s an even bigger drag: Obama emerges from the months-long fracas weaker — and facing much deeper and more durable political obstacles — than his own advisers ever imagined.

The consensus has been that for all his problems, Obama is so skilled a politician — and the eventual GOP nominee so flawed or hapless — that he’d most likely be reelected. Don’t buy into it. This breezy certitude fails to reckon with how weak his fundamentals are a year out from the general election. Gallup pegs his approval rating at a discouraging 42 percent, with his standing among independents falling 9 points in four weeks.

His economic stats are even worse. The nation has 2.5 million fewer jobs today than the day Obama took office, a fact you’re sure to hear the Republicans repeat. Consumer confidence is scraping levels not seen since March 2009.

Where’s the bright spot? Hard to see. Obama has few, if any, domestic achievements that enjoy broad public support. No one assumes employment, growth or housing prices to pick up much, if at all — something Obama is essentially powerless to change. And the political environment and electoral map are significantly tougher than in 2008, especially in true up-for-grabs states.

The White House anticipates unemployment at 8.25 percent, and Goldman Sachs and others warn the number could be higher — close to 9 percent, which would mean no net job growth after the biggest stimulus package in the history of the world. No president has won reelection when unemployment was higher than 7.2 percent in 50 years.

Median home values have declined every month Obama has been in office, too, according to Zillow, which monitors real estate markets. The site’s chief economist now predicts home value won’t bottom out until 2012 “or later.” So, the one asset Americans relied on for wealth — and until the crash, for spending money — will be the biggest concern for many.

The big issue for him will be whether people see light at the end of the tunnel when they ultimately vote,” Democratic Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire said in a telephone interview. “The people in my state want to hear that there is a good and bright and sound future. The average person is really concerned.”

Clearly, the debt ceiling deal and the coming cuts to come in November or by auto-pilot if an agreement cannot be reached will likely only further depress the economy and Obama's reelection chances. Will voters be smart enough to track the real fault back to the GOP? Personally, I doubt it. Most voters are poorly informed and fall victim to political ad sound bites - and the GOP has shown itself far more adept at misleading sound bites which in turn are parroted by lazy "journalists" at the main stream media outlets.

NJ Governor Chris Christie Says What Other Republicans Are Afraid to Say

WOW!! I will concede that to date I haven't been a big fan of New Jersey GOP Governor Chris Christie. But his recent remarks basically ripping Christianists and anti-Muslim loons of the far right a new one in connection with their attacks on his appointment of a Muslim attorney to the bench were truly amazing. Kudos to Governor Christie. Would that more Republicans were brave enough to speak the truth and condemn the hate, ignorance and bigotry of the Christianists and their racist allies.

Among the many things that set off the Christofacists and anti-Muslim zealots is the fact that the nominee, Sohail Mohammed, defended Muslims who were wrongly accused in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. After all, according to the elements of the far right, only white conservative Christians have rights under the U. S. Constitution. America is becoming a frightening place for minorities. Think Progress has coverage of Christie's amazing statements. Here are highlights followed by a video clip which is well worth watching:

While defending his choice at a press conference, Christie made it clear he is “disgusted” by the “ignorance behind the criticism of Sohail Mohammed.” Paranoid fear of Sharia law has become a growing theme in Republican rhetoric, and Christie lashed out at those who would use Islamophobia to attack an exceptional judge:

CHRISTIE: They are criticizing him because he is a Muslim American…I was disgusted, candidly, by some of the questions he was asked by both parties at the Senate judiciary committee… Sharia Law has nothing to do with this at all — it’s crazy! It’s crazy. The guy’s an American citizen…This Sharia Law business is crap. It’s just crazy, and I’m tired of dealing with the crazies. It’s just unnecessary to be accusing this guy of things just because of his religious background.

Amazing stuff - all of Christie's statements, of course are true. Here's the video clip:

American Psychological Association Votes For Marriage Equality

The policy making body of the American Psychological Association ("APA") has unanimously vote (157-0) to approve a resolution supporting same-sex marriage. I can already hear the shrieks and whining amongst the Christianists over this move which will further undermine their agenda of stigmatizing LGBT individuals and same sex relations. This pro-LGBT move comes on the heels of the APA's condemnation of reparative therapy as unethical and the less than subtle signal to licensed therapist that ex-gay therapy might lead to problems with licensing. This will leave ex-gay clinics confined to quacks like Michele Bachmann husband, "Marcia" Bachmann, who hide under the "Christian ministry" moniker to avoid being barred from selling their snake oil. USA Today has coverage on the APA vote. Here are excerpts:

The world's largest organization of psychologists took its strongest stand to date supporting full marriage equity, a move that observers say will have a far-reaching impact on the national debate.

The group, with more than 154,000 members, has long supported full equal rights for gays, based on social science research on sexual orientation. Now the nation's psychologists — citing an increasing body of research about same-sex marriage, as well as increased discussion at the state and federal levels — took the support to a new level.

"Now as the country has really begun to have experience with gay marriage, our position is much clearer and more straightforward — that marriage equity is the policy that the country should be moving toward," says Clinton Anderson, director of APA's Office on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns.

It adds that "emerging evidence suggests that statewide campaigns to deny same-sex couples legal access to civil marriage are a significant source of stress to the lesbian, gay and bisexual residents of those states and may have negative effects on their psychological well-being."

Clinical psychologist Mark Hatzenbuehler, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at Columbia University in New York City, whose new research is cited in the resolution, says the courts tend to look at these kinds of policy statements because "they're really looking to see what social science research says about the influence on gay marriage and marriage bans on a whole host of outcomes."

The last APA resolution on sexual orientation and marriage was approved in 2004. The resolution notes that since that time, APA has worked on 11 amicus briefs filed in same-sex marriage cases since 2004.

Thursday Male Beauty

Last Known "Pink Triangle" Holocaust Survivor Has Died

Bryan Fischer and the hate merchants at American Family Association rant a revisionist history that blames fascism on gays even as they themselves would likely like to force LGBT Americans into concentration camps. Meanwhile, for those living in the real world, a news report out of Europe indicates that the last known survivor of the Nazi "Pink Swastika" program that incarcerated gays in concentration camps has passed away at age 98. Here are some highlights of a translation of the French site AFP:

The last known survivor of the "pink triangles", deported by the Nazis because of their homosexuality, Rudolf Brazda, died Wednesday at 98 years, four months after being made a chevalier of the Legion of Honor in April. He co-authored with Jean-Luc Schwab "Itinerary of a Pink Triangle" recounting his 32 months in concentration camps, forced labor, death everywhere, beatings, harassment.

"In accordance with his will, his remains will be cremated and his ashes placed alongside those of his life partner of more than 50 years, Edward Mayer, who died in 2003 in Mulhouse," add friends. Rudolf Brazda had been part of some 10,000 deportees under Hitler because of their sexual orientation, the Nazis considering homosexuality as a threat to the perpetuation of the race.

In 1937, he was sentenced to six months in prison for "debauchery of men", then deported to Czechoslovakia. There, after the annexation of the Sudetenland by Hitler, he was again tried and convicted for similar facts, this time to 14 months in prison. This time served, Rudolf, considered a repeat offender, was interned in the concentration camp of Buchenwald in central Germany. He survived 32 months of hell in this camp, thanks to his friendship with a kapo communist and "a little luckier than others."

The drama of the "pink triangles" remained unknown until, in the 1980s, a play, books and movies are starting to raise the issue. When, in May 2008, Germany formally inaugurated in the heart of Berlin, a monument to their memory, the organizers explain that this tragedy not count any witnesses alive. Only then Rudolf Brazda, who had lived in anonymity since 1945 near Mulhouse, decided to break the silence. A month later, he was the guest of honor at the "Gay Pride" in Berlin. Dressed in a pink shirt, he lays a flower at the foot of the new memorial, attended by the mayor of the capital Klaus Wowereit, also gay.
Stories like that of Brazda need to be known and widely circulated so that the hate merchants and religious extremist are recognized for the agents of evil that they represent.

Christianist Hate Group Seeks to Insert Itself In 2012 Election

Among the more thoroughly dishonest of the self-styled "family values" organizations is the American Family Association ("AFA") - which was aptly designated as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center ("SPLC"). With Bryan Fischer as one of its loudest spokesmen, AFA continues to reach new lows and it's clear that its message of hate and dissemination of lies and falsehoods increasingly encompasses anyone out side of white conservative Christian circles. Calling AFA and its followers modern day Pharisees is an insult to the Pharisees of the Gospels. Things have truly gotten that foul and nasty. Yet AFA with the help of Texas Governor Rick Perry is endeavoring to showcase itself as a player/kingmaker in the 2012 election cycle beginning with a rally this coming weekend in Houston that pretty much tells everyone who does not drink the toxic Christianist Kool-Aid that they are unwelcome. Not surprisingly, even though Perry invited all U.S. governors to the event, only one has accepted the invite and rumor is that he will cancel. One can only hope that the event makes it very clear to even the dullest and least engaged of the voting populace that AFA and its affiliates and allies now represent the most repugnant and hate-filled aspects of U.S. society and that anyone embracing AFA (or embraced by AFA) ought to be resounding rejected by the electorate as a dangerous extremist. The New York Times looks at AFA and its effort at self-aggrandizement. Here are highlights:

To its admirers on the religious right, the American Family Association is a stalwart leader in a last-ditch fight to save America’s Christian culture and the values of traditional families. To its liberal critics, it is a shrill, even hateful voice of intolerance, out to censor the arts, declare Muslims unfit for public office and deny equality to gay men and lesbians because they engage in sinful “aberrant sexual behavior.”

[T]he American Family Association’s pronouncements have flowed forth daily from its sleek offices here in the Deep South. But now it is doing more than preaching to the choir. This summer, the association has thrust itself into presidential politics by paying for and organizing a day of prayer to save “a nation in crisis” that Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is convening this Saturday.

The rally, at a stadium in Houston, is expected to draw dozens of the country’s most conservative evangelical groups and leaders, and could burnish Mr. Perry’s national profile and his appeal to religious conservatives as he considers entering the 2012 presidential race. Mr. Perry invited his fellow governors but only one, Sam Brownback of Kansas, also a Republican, accepted the invitation to the explicitly Christian rally, and in recent days even his attendance appeared uncertain

[T]he association has sharpened its edge over the years . . . . opposing what it calls an anti-Christian “homosexual agenda” — not only same-sex marriage and the acceptance of gay troops in the military, but any suggestion that homosexual “behavior is normal.” The association also campaigns against antibullying programs that teach tolerance and corporations (like Home Depot, a current target) that support gay pride parades. Mr. Wildmon warns that if current social trends go unchecked, “homosexuals will become part of an elite class” and “Christians will be second-class citizens at best.

[T]he group’s reputation for inflammatory statements rose after the hiring two years ago of Bryan Fischer, a former pastor from Idaho, as the director of “issues analysis” and the host of a daily two-hour afternoon show. . . . Mr. Fischer trumpets the disputed theory that Adolph Hitler was a homosexual and that the Nazi Party was largely created by “homosexual thugs” — evidence, he says, of the inherent pathologies of homosexuality. Mr. Fischer has also said that no more Muslims should be granted citizenship because their religion says to kill Americans, and that welfare recipients “rut like rabbits” because of what he calls welfare’s perverse incentives.

[I]t has had a direct if unheralded hand in recent political battles, sending $500,000 to support the down-to-the-wire campaign for Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, for example, and sending a crack political organizer to Iowa last fall for the successful drive to unseat judges who had supported same-sex marriage. The group also sponsors “pastor policy briefings” around the country that seek to mobilize evangelical voters.

Though liberal critics call it a hate group, the association and Mr. Wildmon are widely revered in conservative circles. Working in the relative isolation of Tupelo and lacking a magnetic television personality, Mr. Wildmon is not as widely known as other titans of the religious right, like Pat Robertson or James C. Dobson. But last fall Mr. Wildmon was described as “one of the most effective Christian leaders of our time” as he received a lifetime achievement award at the Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of top religious conservatives.

Personally, assuming that there is a God, I suspect Wildmon has assured himself a special place in Hell for all the hate and misery he promotes.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Obama Loses Jon Stewart and Blames Progressive Blogs for His Negative Approval Ratings

As noted before, I have little or no sympathy for Barack Obama who seems to be acting like a cry baby over the fact that many Americans are unhappy with his leadership and realize that he sold most of us - and possibly the economy - out to the GOP in the so-called debt ceiling deal signed yesterday. As Politico is reporting, the White House unloaded on progressive groups at the weekly Common Purpose meeting, where progressive leaders and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling had a tense exchange about the debt deal. Possibly spurring the White House displeasure was the ridicule that Obama received from the Daily Show's Jon Stewart. First this from the Washington Post on the Jon Stewart trashing of Obama:
It is a truism, annoying as it may be for White House officials, that when the TV comics make the president an object of derision, the president is in trouble. Such ribbing is confirmation that whatever spin the White House is using to conceal a misstep hasn’t worked, and the entire country knows it, making it fodder for jokes.

The debt-ceiling deal is a case in point. Jon Stewart, the most intellectually astute of the left’s comic darlings, went after President Obama in hilarious fashion. . . . Very funny — unless you work in the Obama White House and are scrambling to defuse the contempt, anger and disappointment oozing from every pore of his liberal supporters.

All of this has very immediate implications for the 2012 race. First, at a time when Obama should be courting independent voters he instead is working feverishly to reassure his base. That in turn (especially his pleading for tax increases and a bevy of new “investments”) will make his job of recapturing independent voters even tougher. Second, his weakness invites Republicans to revive questions about his leadership and competence.Those queries will have more resonance with the public and the media now that Democrats are in essence complaining about the same thing. And finally, Obama’s assurance that tax hikes, regulation and “investment” remain part of his agenda can only further worry and paralyze employers. You can understand why they might not be rushing to hire more workers.

Back at what happened at the weekly Common Purpose meeting, Politico has a story. Here are highlights:

The meeting is an off-the-record, regular gathering that some on the left credit both with keeping the White House aware of liberal concern and keeping liberal messaging coordinated with the White House. Critics deride it as a "veal pen" aimed at neutering the left.

Yesterday, Sperling faced a series of questions about the White House's concessions on the debt ceiling fight and its inability to move in the direction of new taxes or revenues. Progressive consultant Mike Lux, the sources said, summed up the liberal concern, producing what a participant described as an "extremely defensive" response from Sperling.

Sperling, a person involved said, pointed his finger at liberal groups, which he said hadn't done enough to highlight what he saw as the positive side of the debt package -- a message that didn't go over well with participants.

New Gallup Poll: Christians More Willing to Use Attacks on Civilians Than Muslims

The Christianist work over time to depict Islam as a religion of hate and violence yet a new Gallup survey reveals that Muslims are less likely to support violence against and the murder of civilians than - you guessed it - Christians. Atheists and Agnostics also rate higher than Christians in their disapproval of the targeting and killing of civilians. Thus, it seems that when the professional Christians and Christianist demagogues are railing against Muslims, they must be attributing to Muslims their own moral bankruptcy. The charts below look at two difference scenarios concerning attacks on and the murder of civilians. When it comes to military attacks against civilians, Muslims are twice as likely as Protestant Christians to say such attacks are never justified. Here are highlights from the Gallup findings:

Muslim Americans are the staunchest opponents of military attacks on civilians, compared with members of other major religious groups Gallup has studied in the United States. Seventy-eight percent of Muslim Americans say military attacks on civilians are never justified.

A similar revulsion of attacks on civilians by small terror groups likewise showed Muslims to be the most likely to say such are never justified, although on this question, Christians narrowed the morality gap even though they still scored more poorly than atheists and agnostics:

There is wider agreement that attacks on civilians by individuals or small groups are never justified. At least 7 in 10 American adults from all major religious groups agree that these attacks are never justified, but Muslim Americans again are most opposed, with 89% rejecting such attacks.

One explanation for the findings in my view is the sad fact that I believe that many Christians continue to see non-Christians as less than fully human. Thus, violence against them by the military is acceptable. It's sick and disgusting, but I suspect it is the unspoken factor.

Princeton Review's List of Least Gay Friendly Colleges

For any younger readers looking to go to college or for parents of LGBT students soon to be headed off to college, Princeton Review has released its latest rankings of the colleges to be avoided because of the LGBT unfriendly atmospheres. The top ten worse choices for LGBT students are as follows:

1. Wheaton College in Illinois
2. Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania
3. Brigham Young University in Utah (not exactly a surprise if you ask me)
4. Hampden-Sydney College here in Virginia (again, no surprise)
5. College of the Ozarks in Arkansas
6. University of Notre Dame in Indiana
7. Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California
8. Boston College in Massachusetts
9. University of Dallas in Irving, Texas
10. Texas A&M University in College Station, Tecas.

Obviously, it's no surprise that three out of the top ten least LGBT institutions are Catholic institutions. With the Church, gay sex is fine as long as its confined to priests molesting same sex victims far younger than themselves. On the other end of the spectrum ar the colleges and universities that are the most gay friendly. Here are the top ten institutions in this category:

1. New York University in New York, New york
2. Stanford University in Stanford, California
3. Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts
4. Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts
5. Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont
6. University of Wisconsin - Madison, in Madison, Wisconsin
7. Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota
8. New College of Florida
9. Prescott College in Prescott Arizona
10. Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York

There are many things to consider in selecting a college. However, no one needs to go to a college or university where they need to hide in the closet and otherwise be miserable or treated badly.

Church Child Protection Chief Caught with Child Porn

The latest story touching on the world wide sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church would almost be perversely funny but for the fact that it underscores the Church hierarchy's true utter indifference to the welfare of children and youths. About the only thing that can be said about the latest individual arrested is that for a change, he isn't a priest. Can anyone remind me again why people continue to fund this corrupt institution and kiss the typically very wide asses of the hierarchy? It seems that a child protection official for the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom has been arrested 4,000 pictures of child pornography on his computer. That's right, the guy who is supposed to be protecting children from pedophile clergy members. The Mirror has details on the arrest and here are some highlights:

Christopher Jarvis was arrested after uploading pictures of children being abused to a website. Married Jarvis, 49, a former social worker, was employed by the church following sex scandals about pervert priests.
His job was to monitor church groups to ensure paedophiles did not gain access to children
in the church’s congregations. But he was caught by police in March with more than 4,000 child porn images on his home computer and his work laptop. He admitted 12 counts of making, ­possessing and distributing indecent ­images when he appeared before ­magistrates in Plymouth and is likely to face jail when he returns to court for sentencing next month.

Church spokesman ­David Pond said: “Mr Jarvis was suspended from his position as soon as the diocese became aware in March of the police investigation. “The Bishop took that action and since then the Church has worked closely with the police.”

Obviously, whatever background check was done on Jarvis was sadly lacking. Part of me cannot help but wonder who he shared his porn with.

Wednesday Male Beauty

Washington State Tribe Approves Same-Sex Marriage

Now even American Indian tribes are pulling ahead of the Commonwealth of Virginia and most of the USA when it comes to recognizing same sex marriage, Here in Virginia, pet ownership gets more recognition that committed life relations between LGBT couples. Not so with Washington State's Suquamish Tribe which has voted to approve same sex marriages on the Tribe's lands. If one member of a couple is a member of the Tribe, the couple can now be married and afforded all the rights heterosexual couples are allowed on the reservation. Here are highlights from the Kitsap Sun:
[T]he Suquamish Tribal Council formally changed its ordinances to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. The Suquamish ordinance means gay couples are afforded all the rights heterosexual couples are allowed on the reservation and other places in which gay marriages are allowed.
Purser, a 28-year-old who lives in Seattle but was raised in Kitsap County, has been trying to get the tribe's law changed for about four years. She made the most progress at the tribe's general council in March. During that meeting of the tribe's entire enrolled membership, she stepped to the microphone asking for recognition for gay couples. The tribe's leadership said they would continue to consider it, she said. When Purser sat down people around her told her she needed to get up again and request a vote of the entire audience. If there were any dissenters, they were not loud enough for Purser to hear them. "Really it was the Suquamish people who approved this," she said. "
The Tribal Council held a public hearing on the ordinance change in June and formally adopted it in a unanimous vote Monday. The new law allows the tribal court to issue a marriage license to two unmarried people, "regardless of their sex," if they at least 18 years old and at least one of them is an enrolled member of the Suquamish Tribe.
In 2009 the Coquille Indian Tribe in Coos Bay, Ore., became what many believed to be the first Indian tribe to marry a gay couple, two women from Edmonds, Wash.
Michelle Hansen, Suquamish Tribal attorney, said the Suquamish ordinance does not have effect anywhere else unless that jurisdiction decides to recognize same-sex marriages conducted elsewhere. The unanimity seen in Suquamish has not been evident elsewhere in the country.

Throwing the Unemployed Under the Bus

This Toles cartoon pretty much sums up what the debt ceiling deal is messaging to the unemployed and the under employed. Spending cuts will equate to less jobs and the joblessness plague will continue. No doubt the far right will believe that somehow the unemployed deserve their fate despite the objective facts that argue otherwise. I mean, God must be punishing them for some reason, right? With the European stack markets down one can only hope we don't see another blood bath on Wall Street today.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Why Obama May Lose in 2012

Andrew Sullivan has had lots of debate on his blog today about the debt ceiling deal and what it portends for Obama in 2012. A lot can change between now and November 2012, and it's still open to debate as to whether or not the the Republicans will nominate a certifiable nutcase as its standard bearer, but I'm with those who believe that Obama may have shot himself - perhaps mortally - by allowing himself to be rolled by the GOP and the utter irrational folks in the GOP base. A number of readers and pundits have highlighted the potential negatives for Obama. Meanwhile, Andrew has remained an Obama cheerleader (remember that Andrew was way behind the curb in jettisoning the Chimperator and the GOP not that many years back). Here are some highlights from the naysayers when it comes to Obama's prospects. First, there is this one:

I have to say that I think that you are really overlooking just how depressed Obama's base is about this agreement. . . . . For the first time today, I got an e-mail from my little sister who does not follow politics closely at all. She was a first time voter in 2008. She is exactly the profile of the type of voter Obama will need again in 2012. Her e-mail to me had the subject line: "I am done." I opened the e-mail and she had written only one line: "I cannot support a President who seems incapable of standing up to bullies." I can't help but think of the many other young people in their mid to late 20s (like my sister) who have already decided that this President is not up to the task.

Between the young people who can't find jobs, the people of color who are living in the depression, and the party activists who feel as though Obama doesn't "fight" for their principles, it is truly difficult for me to see how Barack Obama is re-elected in 2012. If David Plouffe were living our here in the heartland, all of his hair would be grey. I think that this episode means the death-knell for Obama's re-election prospects.

This sentiment seems to sum up the views of my children - all of who voted for Obama - and my own. If by some fluke the GOP were to nominate someone sane like Jon Huntsman, I believe that Obama would lose a huge number of votes. Another post is this one (I've hit highlights):

A reader writes: You wrote: "While all the liberals are bemoaning their purportedly weak president..." I know we don't agree about this. But at least give me and all the others like me the benefit of the doubt -- our opinions on this aren't pure nonsense. This is not about losing some dick measuring contest. Here's a Pro-Publica article that's mostly a summary of economic stats:

The economy is bad. It is, by now, Obama's economy. I understand what Bush and Co did, and I know the role that Greenspan played, and all of that. But Obama can't say "I inherited this from Bush" if he's not making the requisite policy changes to prevent it from happening again. And he hasn't been willing to take on the people who would lose under genuine reform. He hasn't done what's necessary. He hasn't tried. This is where I'm coming from.
And then there's this one:

Adam Serwer echoes Seth Masket: . . . . Come election time, though, voters may simply decide that even if the recession isn’t Obama’s fault, he still failed to get us out of it. The presidency is not graded on a curve. Even assuming Republican intransigence and obstruction have given Obama the most challenging political landscape ever for a Democratic president, what matters is whether voters feel like he did what he was elected to do: Bring the American economy back from the brink.

If I were to be presented with a sane alternative to Obama, as of now, I'd pull the opposing lever - be it for a Democrat primary challenger or a sane Republican with a spine and a genuine concern for the country. Obama has been a HUGE disappointment.

Hateful Homophobic Statements From Boehner/GOP DOMA Briefs

As much as I am livid with the spineless sniveling Democrats and the Liar-in-Chief in the White House over the sell out to the Tea Party - a view apparently shared by Wall Street given the 257 point drop in the Dow AFTER passage of the debt ceiling deal today - the GOP as a whole continues to do all in its power to force LGBT Americans to vote Democrat and support Obama in 2012. Even if it involves holding one's nose and nearly vomiting in the process. Why would I say this? Today attorney Paul Clement filed briefs in defense of the the Defense of Marriage Act in court. To put it politely, the briefs look as if they were prepared by Tony Perkins, Maggie Gallagher and/or the foul folks at the dead Jerry Falwell's Liberty counsel. Clement rolls out all the favorite Christianist lies (remember, the truth means nothing to "godly Christians") and, candidly, ought to be sanctioned for making false statements to the court. Think Progress has put together the nastiest elements of the brief's filed at the behest of John Boehner and the Christianists in the GOP. Here's a summary (Note: have your vomit bag close at hand):
1. GAYS HAVE NOT HISTORICALLY FACED DISCRIMINATION: Ignoring the fact that there have been laws against homosexuality for about as long as people have been publicly out, Clement argues that anti-gay discrimination is a “unique and relatively short-lived product of the twentieth century.” Worse yet, Clement argues that because things are getting better, any arguable history of discrimination is irrelevant:
Moreover, whatever the historical record of discrimination, the most striking factor is how quickly things are changing through the normal democratic processes on issues ranging from same-sex marriage to “Don’t Ask Don’t tell” and beyond. Historical discrimination alone never has been a basis for heightened scrutiny. Courts apply a multi-factor test that focuses on current reality and cautions against unnecessarily taking issues away from the normal democratic process.
2. SEXUAL ORIENTATION IS A CHOICE: Clement’s argument against the immutability of sexual orientation is shallow and duplicitous. He points out that people “choose” to identify as gay, confusing selecting one’s orientation with identifying with it. He suggests that if sexual orientation were immutable, it could be determined at birth. And most deceptively, he implies that because scientists have not agreed upon a clear cause for sexual orientation,they do not have consensus that it is not a conscious choice — they do. He even attempts to tell Ms. Windsor that she is wrong about her own sexual orientation:

Whether a classification is “immutable” is of course a legal conclusion — not a scientific one — and the Attorney General’s selective reading of scientific evidence warrants no deference from this Court. His conclusion and the Plaintiff’s argument are also both wrong.

3. GAYS HAVE PLENTY OF POLITICAL POWER: Despite the fact that gays and lesbians constitute only a small percentage of the population and have been discriminated against by majority votes for decades, Clement tries to make the case that gays are not “politically powerless,” one of the qualifications for heightened scrutiny. By selectively highlighting successes and positive polling around LGBT equality, he paints a false picture of how rosy life is for gays and lesbians, snidely using the Department of Justice’s stance against DOMA to make his point:

Plaintiff appears oblivious to the irony of maintaining that homosexuals have limited political power in a case in which her position is supported by both the State of New York and the United States Department of Justice. In light of the latter’s longstanding duty to defend the constitutionality of federal statutes, its decision to decline to defend the constitutionality of DOMA, and instead adopt the very position advocated by Plaintiff, is particularly telling.

4. SAME-SEX COUPLES MAKE BAD PARENTS: One of Congress’s rationales for passing DOMA was the idea of “responsible procreation,” the idea that opposite-sex couples were better suited to raising children and thus marriage was a privilege reserved for them. In order to defend this idea, Clement must challenge scientific consensus on the existing research that shows same-sex parents to be equally as effective, and so he does:

Plaintiff’s claim of a clear expert consensus is overstated. Indeed, the evidence relied upon by Plaintiff’s own expert demonstrates that studies comparing gay or lesbian parents to heterosexual parents have serious flaws.

5. THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE MUST BE PROTECTED: Implicit in all arguments against marriage equality is the fear-mongering claim that somehow allowing same-sex couples to marry will destroy the “institution” of marriage. Indeed, Clement has made it clear he will argue that marriage must be “defended” from “redefinition.” He also implies that the benefits that same-sex marriages would be afforded would be an undue financial burden for the government:
In this litigation, Defendant discusses in its motion to dismiss and memorandum in support thereof, and in its opposition to Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, the following particular rational justifications: defending and nurturing the institution of marriage by acting with proper caution in the face of the unknown consequences of a proposed novel redefinition of the foundational social institution of marriage; protecting the public fisc and preserving the balance struck by earlier Congresses in allocating federal burdens and benefits; maintaining consistency in eligibility for federal benefits based on marital status; defending and nurturing the institution of marriage by avoiding the creation of a social understanding that begetting and rearing children is not inextricably bound up with the institution of marriage; and defending and nurturing the institution of marriage by creating legal structures that make it more likely that children will be raised by parents of both sexes.
As I said, one would think that the most gay-hating Christianst wrote this brief. No wonder King& Spaulding gave Clement his walking papers. His brief is downright unethical and fraudulent.

Tuesday Male Beauty

IRS Revokes Peter LaBarbera’s AFTAH Tax Exempt Status

In a move long over due, the Internal Revenue Service has revoked the tax exempt status of Porno Pete's falsely named Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH). The revocation came not because of the utterly fraudulent nature of LaBarbera's operation but rather because he failed to file returns as required by the tax laws. The reality is that AFTAH has been nothing more than LaBarbera's personal cottage industry for disseminating hate and lies while living off of the money donated by the ignorant and gullible. Ex-Gay Watch looks at this welcomed development:
According to the IRS, the tax-exempt status of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) was revoked on 5/10/2010. The reason for this action is listed by the reporting organization Guidestar as a “failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years.” These forms are required of legitimate non-profit organizations for review by the IRS and the public.
While the current incarnation of AFTAH appears to have been active since 2006, we found only one form 990-EZ on file — for the year 2009. In this, total receipts are listed as $110.000, out of which Peter LaBarbera received a salary of $75,000. For perspective, this is approximately the same salary plus benefits claimed by Exodus president Alan Chambers. Exodus lists eleven employees and a million dollar budget.
According to the IRS documentation on revocations, AFTAH can no longer be considered a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, and there is no process for appeal. Donations made to them before 6/10/2011 are still deductible by donors, though any income after revocation may be taxed and require filing of a federal return. LaBarbera appears to have been aware of all this, as the donations section of the AFTAH website no longer claims tax-exempt status.
What the IRS needs to truly do is go after similar snake oil merchants who are marketing lies, scientific falsehoods and in no manner providing "educational" benefit to anyone. These groups exist sole for political purposes and to enrich their liars-in-chief.