Saturday, January 07, 2012

More Saturday Male Beauty

Renaming Discrimination as "Religious Freedom"

I find many things that the "godly Christian" set engage in to be annoying at best and outright deliberate lies at the extreme end of the spectrum. But one of the biggest lies is the new trend of equating anything that restricts anti-gay bigotry and discrimination as a "treat to religious freedom." While the lie was started by some of the usually suspects within SPLC registered hate groups such as Family Research Council, the U. S. Catholic bishops - Archbishop Timothy Dolan in particular - have jumped whole hog onto the band wagon. It's a topic that I write about in the print edition of the January 15, 2012 issue of VEER Magazine and that I think must be rebutted and condemned forcefully and frequently. Sarah Posner looks at this effort to conflate discrimination and a denial of civil rights as religious freedom in a column in Religion Dispatches. Here are some highlights:

Four days before Christmas, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops paid for a full-page advertisement in the Washington Post, co-signed by dozens of leaders of Catholic institutions. But the ad offered no holiday cheer. Instead, it aggressively highlighted the Bishops’ pointed confrontation with the Obama administration: either amend a regulation requiring employer health insurance plans to provide contraception without a co-pay, or stand accused of religious discrimination.

At the Bishops’ annual meeting in Baltimore this past November, Dolan took his charges into conspiratorial territory, telling reporters that “well-financed, well-oiled sectors” were attempting to “push religion back into the sacristy.”

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution last October, Bishop William E. Lori, chair of the Ad Hoc Committee, described LGBT equality and access to reproductive care as “serious threats to religious liberty,” that “represent only the most recent instances in a broader trend of erosion of religious liberty in the United States.” The problem, he went on, is like a disease that must be treated immediately, . . .

Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, sees the Bishops’ framing as “significant,” noting that, “They’re really trying to put a spin on what’s happening, and they’re hoping that they can convince people that their rights are the ones being violated.”

This argument is “not true as a matter of constitutional law on religion,” Melling added. “It masks entirely what’s going on... what they’re really asking for is to use religion to discriminate and they’re asking that they not have to comply with laws at the expense of peoples’ health and equality and well-being.”

With the USCCB and the religious right both framing these issues as dire religious persecution, and given the potency of the issue for Republicans on the campaign trail, 2012 is shaping up to be a banner year for conservative assaults on laws and policies they see as infringing on their religious freedom.

Herb Silverman [president of the Secular Coalition for America], said, “it’s frightening to see that at least half of the [GOP presidential] candidates don’t have a basic understanding of the principle of separation of church and state on which our country was founded.” The group singled out Gingrich in particular, noting that his statements demonstrate “hostility toward secular Americans and an unwillingness to separate his religious beliefs from his previous and prospective roles as an elected official.”

The National Organization for Marriage, the anti-LGBT group that has pressed the argument that same-sex marriage amounts to religious persecution of Christians, put out a “marriage pledge,” which was subsequently signed by both Gingrich and Perry, in addition to Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Mitt Romney.

Gingrich and his allies talk about threats to religious freedom, but what they really want is the right to use government to shove conservative/fundamentalist/ultra-orthodox social views down everyone else’s throats.” The investigations have already started on Capitol Hill, where Republicans’ ears are cocked for controversies they can gin up to paint the Obama administration as anti-religion. In his Congressional testimony, the USCCB’s Lori laid out a list of grievances, nearly all related to reproductive care access and LGBT equality

In an equally hyperbolic statement, USCCB president Dolan has charged that the administration’s decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court could “precipitate a national conflict between church and state of enormous proportions.

Constitutionally speaking, though, the Republican claim that the HHS action amounts to religious discrimination is “very weak,” said Marci Hamilton, First Amendment expert and a professor at the Cardozo School of Law. “There is no constitutional right to have government funding tailored to your religious requirements.”

What’s more, the notion that the federal government has somehow discriminated against Catholics is rendered even more absurd by the hard numbers: in 2011 alone, according to the federal government database at, Catholic Charities received over $753 million in federal funding. . . . It seems that there is a more compelling argument to be made that federally-funded religious groups are actually given a license to discriminate by the government, not that they are discriminated against.

[T]he Bishops’ religious liberty campaign is the latest evidence of the strengthening of the alliance between the Catholic Church and the evangelical right, whose precepts were laid out in the 2009 Manhattan Declaration.

[D]on’t be surprised if the “religious freedom” argument finds its way into conservative arguments about “big government” in 2012. It’s not just for the religious right anymore.

Note how the Catholic bishops view gay rights and reproductive rights as a "disease." I'd argue that the real disease is ignorance embracing religious based hate and discrimination. The "godly Christians" continue to make Christianity into something truly ugly. They - not gays and women who want control over their own bodies - are the real threat to religious freedom.

Rick Santorum's Moral Delusions

With Michele Bachmann now out of the GOP presidential nominee race, Rick Santorum has taken Bachmann's place as the craziest and most untethered from reality of the candidates. Yes, "craziest" is a relative term since most of the GOP contenders are crazy. But like Bachmann, Santorum is obsessed with gays and sexuality in general and is only too willing to fan the flames of bigotry in the hope that the nastiest elements in the GOP will reward him with their vote. The reality that facts do not back up his claims is irrelevant to Santorum. A column in the Chicago Tribune trashes Santorum for his lies and advocacy for marginalizing those who do not conform to his own twisted religious beliefs. Here are highlights: .

Why is Rick Santorum running for president? Because America is in trouble and he knows why. Faith and family are under attack. "Moral relativism," he warns, is breeding "aberrant behavior." Gay rights advocates are bent on "secularization." Liberals have brought about a "decaying culture."

Santorum insists that gay marriage will destroy the family, "the very foundation of our country." Lamenting the scandal of pedophile priests, he wrote in a Catholic publication: "When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm."

Santorum takes it for granted that religious belief, at least of the Christian variety, is a powerful force for moral behavior. That's not apparent from looking at this country.

But where is the evidence that the developments cited by Santorum are producing harmful side effects? In the past couple of decades, most indicators of moral and social health have gotten better, not worse. Crime has plummeted. Teen pregnancy has declined by 39 percent. Abortion rates among adolescents are less than half of what they were. The incidence of divorce is down.

It turns out that religiosity does not translate into good behavior, and disregard for religion does not go hand-in-hand with vice. Quite the contrary. Consider homicide, . . . . Of the 10 states with the most worshippers, all but one have higher than average homicide rates. Of the 11 states with the lowest church attendance, by contrast, 10 have low homicide rates.

Teen pregnancy also tends to follow a course precisely the opposite of what Santorum preaches. Almost every one of the most religious states suffers from more teen pregnancy than the norm — while the least religious ones enjoy less.

What impact does gay marriage have on how kids handle sex? Massachusetts, the first state to legalize it, has less teen pregnancy than the country as a whole. Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont, which have also sanctioned same-sex unions, are also far better than average.

Does gay marriage undermine the health and stability of heterosexual marriage? Not so you can tell. Massachusetts has the nation's lowest divorce rate. Iowa and Connecticut are also better than most. Vermont and New Hampshire are about average. In the Bible Belt, by contrast, marriages are generally more prone to break up.

In fact, in his indictment of tolerance, individual conscience, sexual freedom and secular morality, he [Santorum] is not telling truths but spinning sanctimonious fairy tales. American culture is not sick, and Santorum is no healer.

The G.O.P.’s "Black People" Platform

Gays aren't the only citizens that the Christianist/Tea Party base hates and despises. There are Hispanics who the GOP likes to depict as menacing illegal immigrants who all recently stole across the Rio Grande under the cover of darkness. There are Muslims who are collectively depicted as would be Al Qaeda assassins. And then there are blacks. Here in the South (in places as close as 25 miles or less from where I sent typing this post) the mind set among the good ole boy crowd can be easily summed up: "I'm not against blacks- every white man ought to own at least one." Despite the claim - heard less and less of late - that the GOP is a "big tent," in truth the GOP is best defined as a party of hate and anger. And the hate and anger is aimed at everyone who isn't white and a conservative Christian. Charles Blow has a column in the New York Times that looks at the GOP platform for blacks. Here are some highlights:

As we’ve gotten around to casting votes to select a Republican presidential nominee, the antiblack rhetoric has taken center stage. You just have to love (and despise) this kind of predictability.

On Sunday, Rick “The Rooster” Santorum, campaigning in Iowa, said what sounded like “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”

Newton Leroy Gingrich has been calling President Obama “the best food stamp president” for months, but after plummeting in the polls and finishing fourth in Iowa, he must have decided that this approach was too subtle. So, on Thursday in New Hampshire, he sharpened the shiv and dug it in deeper, saying, “I’m prepared, if the N.A.A.C.P. invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.” On Friday, Gingrich defended himself, as usual, by insisting that exactly what he said wasn’t exactly what he said.

The comments from Santorum and Gingrich came after a renewed exploration of Ron Paul’s controversial newsletters, one of which said in June 1992 about the Los Angeles riots: “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began.

Now to the singling out of blacks. The largest group of SNAP beneficiaries is by far non-Hispanic whites. However, it is true that the rate of participation is much higher among blacks than whites. Put the emphasis where you wish.

Finally, as to the false dichotomy of “food stamps” versus “paychecks.” First, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, most SNAP participants are either too old or too young to work. Forty-seven percent were under age 18, and 8 percent were 60 or older. Second, “nearly 30 percent of SNAP households had earnings in 2010, and 41 percent of all SNAP participants lived in a household with earnings.”

But race is usually less about facts than historical mythology, which evokes the black bogyman, who saps the money from the whites who earn it. Ever since blacks first arrived on these shores in chains, they have been perceived as lazy and dependent on whites — first as slaves, and then as “entitled” citizens.

Folklore or fact, this is the way many have viewed blacks in this country throughout history and even now: with scolding disdain and shocking blindness. In 1935, W.E.B. DuBois’s “Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880” pointed out that one of the major themes that American children were being taught in textbooks about that period was that “all Negroes were lazy, dishonest and extravagant.” The themes are eerily resonant of today’s Republican talking points on welfare.

Racial politics play well for Republicans. Santorum and Paul finished second and third in Iowa. Time will tell if Gingrich rebounds. Playing to racial anxiety and fear isn’t a fluke; it’s a strategy that energizes the Republican base.

Kevin Phillips, who popularized the right’s “Southern Strategy,” was quoted in The New York Times Magazine in May 1970 as saying that “the more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans.”

The GOP attitude toward minorities of all kinds is disgusting. The inability to see any common humanity with others unless they are exactly like the Christianists/Tea Party members in looks, religion, and race is extremely disturbing. It's little wonder why this crowd is so anxious to go to war against Iran. Racism and religious extremism are the twin pillars of today's GOP.

And as for those who might claim that I'm anti-South, rest assured that I'm not. I have my own Confederate ancestors. I do believe, however, that after 150+ years we need to move own. Better yet, that we'd have learned something.

Kristy McNichol Comes Out Officially

Yet another well know TV star of the past has come out of the closet officially. The newest person joining Meredith Baxter in being open and honest about herself is Kristy McNichol, the Emmy Award winning teen star of the 1970s that many people remember from the drama Family. Some will say what's the point of a former star coming out years after their principal years of fame have past. It's a valid question and I think the response is that with each coming out by a celebrity past or present it helps demolish the lies and stereotypes that the enemies of LGBT equality so love to disseminate. The less that LGBT people can be referred to as some theoretical "other" or generic "gays," the sooner we'll see the death of discrimination and anti-gay bullying outside of pockets of Christofascists and the professional Christian set. It's far more difficult to hate and support discrimination against people that you know as neighbors, friends or even an actor that you enjoy/enjoyed. Here are some highlights fro People Magazine:

Kristy McNichol has been out of the public eye for 20 years. Now she's chosen to come out – to try to help kids who are being bullied.

McNichol, 49, who has lived with her partner Martie Allen, also 49, for the past two decades, decided to make a statement about her sexuality and share this photo because she is "approaching 50" and wants to "be open about who I am."

She "is very sad about kids being bullied," her publicist Jeff Ballard tells PEOPLE. "She hopes that coming out can help kids who need support. She would like to help others who feel different."

Best known for her Emmy Award-winning role as Buddy Lawrence in the '70s show Family and later as Barbara Weston in Empty Nest, McNichol left it all behind when she dropped out of Hollywood to focus on her health.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Anti-Gay, Dick Cheney Like Timothy Dolan to Become Cardinal

In yet another sign that the Roman Catholic Church is continuing to lurch down the road to a totalitarian rule that will be increasingly hostile to LGBT citizens, the Vatican has announced that Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, will be receiving a cardinal's red hat. Dolan has already shown himself to be viciously anti-gay and all too prone to try to interfere with the nation's and New York State's civil laws. He's also shown himself to be a pathological liar and has made wild - and totally unsubstantiated - claims that Catholic parishes have been threatened with lawsuits for not not performing same sex marriages. Never mind that there is an express exemption in New York's law that would make any suit lawsuit baseless. Dolan has disingenuously claimed that gay rights are a threat to religious freedom - which he apparently defines as allowing the Catholic Church to dictate religious belief to everyone. If there is anyone who Dolan reminds me of it's Dick "Emperor Palpatine" Cheney: arrogant, dishonest, and ruthless. And these are the characteristics endorsed by Rome. It speaks volumes about the Church leadership and none of it is good. Here are highlights from the New York Times:

IT is not a good time for the Roman Catholic Church in America, but Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, the cardinal-designate of New York, has made it his mission to remind people that there is more to the church than scandal.

Pope Benedict XVI plans to make Archbishop Dolan a cardinal at a ceremony on Feb. 18 in Rome, giving him the red hat that signifies his new stature as a prince of the church. But even now, two and a half years after Archbishop Dolan arrived at the helm of the New York Archdiocese, his personality is not well known outside of religious circles. And the question remains whether this distracted, liberal, scandal-weary city is willing to listen to a conservative voice . . .

Since arriving in New York from Milwaukee, Archbishop Dolan, who was raised in Ballwin, Mo., has most often caught the public’s attention as the traditional unyielding Catholic voice of “no” — to same-sex marriage, to abortion and to sex education in public schools.

“What weighs on me the most,” he [Dolan] said in an interview in December, “is the caricature of the Catholic Church as crabby, nay-saying, down in the dumps, discouraging, on the run. And I’m thinking if there is anything that should be upbeat, affirming, positive, joyful, it should be people of faith.”

Catholicism in the key of joy is not an easy sell. Archbishop Dolan is a rising star within the Catholic Church in America — even before his elevation to cardinal, he was the elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. But reframing the church’s public image will take much more than a radio show on the archdiocese-run satellite Catholic Channel, which reaches only those already interested enough to tune in.

“Among Catholic insiders, Dolan is a huge hit,” said John L. Allen, a correspondent for The National Catholic Reporter who recently wrote a book about the archbishop. “But the problem for Dolan is that he has aspirations beyond just playing to that insider crowd. And at that level, he’s got to find a way to make himself visible in the national conversation on something other than the controversial policies” of the church on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.

[H]e describes the threat to religious liberty he sees in the government’s taking government contracts away from Catholic charities for refusing to offer adoption services to same-sex couples. “We see within our culture a drive to neuter religion, to push it back into the sacristy,” he said. “And, gosh darn it, we are worried about it.”

If Dolan doesn't like the image the Catholic Church has come to have for many, then he needs to stop pushing the lies and bigoted policies that promote that image. With one out of three people who were raised Catholic - fully 1/10th of the U.S. population - having left the Church, it's clearly the Church that needs to change and come out of the 13th century.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Friday Male Beauty

Is the National Organization for Marriage a Front for the Catholic Church?

I have often speculated that the Roman Catholic Church is a financial principal backer of the National Organization for Marriage ("NOM"). It would certainly explain why NOM is fighting legal battles in seven states seeking to avoid revealing its financial contributors. We now know that instead of being the grass roots organization it claims to be, NOM is principally supported by less than a dozen donors. Obviously, if these donors are Catholic dioceses and organizations, the blow back against the Church could be huge. NOM Exposed has gone a step further in tying NOM to the Catholic hierarchy - including a $10,000 per guest function at Archbishop Timothy Dolan's residence in New York (the invitation is set out above). Here are some highlights:

On several occasions, I've told you about OPUSFidelis. This is the Catholic firm to whom NOM has outsourced all of its social media, web design, and assorted online work. For the past year or so, OPUS head David Lejeune -- working with subordinates like Joe Giganti, Casey Fimian and Colton Brugger -- have essentially been speaking for NOM in the social media world.

But what does this affiliation say about NOM's ties to the larger Catholic establishment? Well consider the following.

This past summer, just one day before NOM's marriage-excluding dreams were crushed in Albany, another, far less pro-gay soiree was happening in Manhattan. The invite read like so:[see image above]

You'll notice the names Fimian and Lejeune -- both confirmed NOM figures. But also check out the address as the bottom. It's the same as OPUS' mailing address. The same OPUS that proudly touts NOM's anti-equality protestations as its big company highlight.

In terms of the Catholic socio-political template, you don't get a much more influential handshake. At least not outside of Rome.

So what does this tell us? Well, nothing that we didn't already know, really. It's just more confirmation that NOM, a group that presents itself as a generalized special interest group that "protects" faith generally, is, in truth, a Catholic organization that exalts Vatican values primarily. They of course have every right to take this approach to their advocacy. But they really should call themselves something like The Catholic Alliance for Canonical Rites rather than the National Organization For Marriage.

Archbishop Orders Minnesota Priests to Support or Stay Silent on Anti-Gay Amendment

Even as stories of sexual abuse and misconduct by members of the Catholic Church hierarchy unfold daily - a Dutch Cardinal has now been accused of perjury - the anti-gay jihad ordered by Rome continues. In Minnesota where an amendment that goes far beyond just banning same sex marriage is on the ballot, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt (who like his counterpart in New York, Archbishop Dolan appears to have never missed a meal) has ordered priests to either actively support the amendment or remain silent on the issue. So much for freedom of conscience in today's Catholic Church. The huge moral disconnect between turning a blind eye toward sexual abuse of minors, if not active aiding and abetting, and seeking to deny stability and any recognition to loving, committed same sex couples is stunning. I suspect that some day the Church will be viewed akin to the strident segregationists of 50 years ago. The American Independent looks at Nienstedt's fiat to priests. Here are highlights:

“There ought not be open dissension on this issue,” is the message the Catholic hierarchy is telling priests in Minnesota — “this issue” being same-sex marriage.

In a private speech to Minnesota’s priests last October, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt said that any priest who disagreed with the church’s efforts to place a constitutional ban on marriage for same-sex couples should remain silent. Any disagreements should be brought to him personally, he said. The Catholic Church in Minnesota has been a driving force for the anti-same-sex-marriage amendment since it passed onto the 2012 ballot last May.

Nienstedt later sent the text of that speech to priests who were unable to participate in the gathering. Someone in the church recently leaked the text to the Progressive Catholic Voice, a group working for reform within the church. On Thursday, PCV published statements condemning Nienstedt’s speech.

In the speech, Nienstedt told the priests he expects participation in getting the amendment passed from everyone within the church:

It is my expectation that all the priests and deacons in this Archdiocese will support this venture and cooperate with us in the important efforts that lie ahead. The gravity of this struggle, and the radical consequences of inaction propels me to place a solemn charge upon you all — on your ordination day, you made a promise to promote and defend all that the Church teaches. I call upon that promise in this effort to defend marriage. There ought not be open dissension on this issue. If any have personal reservations, I do not wish that they be shared publicly. If anyone believes in conscience that he cannot cooperate, I want him to contact me directly and I will plan to respond personally.

Minnesota’s Catholic hierarchy has come under intense scrutiny over its support for the anti-gay constitutional amendment.

In the run-up to the 2010 gubernatorial election, the church sent out approximately 400,000 DVDs and mailings urging Catholics to vote for Republican Tom Emmer, the only candidate in the race who opposed marriage equality for same-sex couples and a staunch Catholic. The campaign, paid for by an anonymous donor and produced by the Knight of Columbus, sparked protests against the church.

More recently, the Archdiocese’s lobbying wing, the Minnesota Catholic Conference, has joined with the National Organization for Marriage and the Minnesota Family Council to form the Minnesota for Marriage Coalition, a group dedicated to passing the amendment in November.

The Bi-Polar Republican Party

When I exited the Republican Party roughly a decade ago, the majority of the party members still valued facts, rationality and the best interests of the country were the first priority. True, the Christian Right was creeping in but rational moderates held control and the what I now call Christianists were viewed as the crazy relative best kept out of sight. Much has changed and the power and insanity of the Christianists has soared while many moderates have fled and now see themselves as independents or in some cases Democrats. The GOP simply came to be to extreme and down right nasty and hate driven. There are still some sane people who have remained in the GOP and the Washington Post looks at the struggle for ultimate control between the two factions in the GOP and how it played out in Iowa. Here are some highlights:

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum wound up in a virtual tie in the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday. And they did it from extremely different bases of support.

While Santorum relied on very conservative voters, born-again Christians, and social and moral conservatives, Romney relied on voters who were most concerned about the economy, who just want to beat President Obama, and those who don’t identify as born-agains. And the difference, in almost every case, was stark

The good news for Romney is that the kind of support Santorum demonstrated is much more valuable in Iowa than in other states, and it may not translate into New Hampshire and beyond. (Think Mike Huckabee.) If Romney can continue to score large victories among those who see the economy as the top issue and just want to beat Obama, that’s probably better for him than being the candidate for true-believer conservatives and anti-abortion activists.

[T]he battle lines are certainly drawn for a Romney-versus-Santorum faceoff, if indeed that’s what we’re headed for. And they are very clear lines.

Long term if the portions of the GOP supporting Romney lose out to the Christianist elements supporting Santorum and others of his ilk, I believe it will lead to the death of the GOP as a viable political party. The older Christianists - who hate everyone who isn't just like them - are dying off and the younger generations are increasingly hostile to the Christianist message, especially its incessant attacks of LGBT citizens. We may be about to watch the first phase of a slow suicide by the GOP.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

More Thursday Male Beauty

Boston Globe Endorses Huntsman in New Hampshire

After the most insane and reality denying elements of the Christianist/Tea Party base of the GOP in Iowa boosted Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum to a razor thin finish behind Mitt Romney, all eyes are on New Hampshire where hopefully a wooden stack will be driven through the heart of the Santorum candidacy. Now, adding a new mix to the equation is the Boston Globe's endorsement of John Huntsman in the New Hampshire contest. I have long believed that Huntsman is the most rational of the GOP candidates and, while I have reservations on how he would handle gay rights issues, might actually govern in the most reasonable manner. Here are highlights from the Boston Globe's endorsement of Huntsman:

DISSATISFACTION WITH the economy, expressed in spasms of anger toward Wall Street and Washington; the dashed hopes of many who believed that Barack Obama’s election would create a new spirit of unity; and genuine uncertainty about Democratic health care reform — all of these have created an historic opportunity for the Republican Party. Just three years removed from a Republican administration that was roundly judged a failure, the party has a chance to renew itself — to blaze a path to bipartisan action on the budget, to introduce market-based solutions to health costs, and to construct a post-Iraq War network of alliances to promote global economic strength, knowing that true security comes from both peace and prosperity.

So far, Republican presidential contenders have shown little awareness of this opportunity. . . . . Rather than compare creative policy solutions, the candidates have vied for meaningless titles like “true conservative.’’ Rather than outline a vision for a safer world, they’ve signaled a return to Bush-era posturing and disdain for allies who don’t blindly serve American interests.

Among the candidates, only two stand out as truly presidential, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. Both have track records of success, and both, through their policies and demeanors, have shown the breadth of spirit to lead the nation. But while Romney proceeds cautiously, strategically, trying to appease enough constituencies to get himself the nomination, Huntsman has been bold. Rather than merely sketch out policies, he articulates goals and ideals. The priorities he would set for the country, from leading the world in renewable energy to retooling education and immigration policies to help American high-tech industries, are far-sighted. He has stood up far more forcefully than Romney against those in his party who reject evolution and the science behind global warming.

With a strong record as governor of Utah and US ambassador to China, arguably the most important overseas diplomatic post, Huntsman’s credentials match those of anyone in the field. He would be the best candidate to seize this moment in GOP history, and the best-prepared to be president.

Serving as ambassador to China, the largest economic and military competitor to the United States, is a deeply meaningful credential. Notably, Huntsman’s nuanced foreign-policy vision of economic and strategic alliances stems from his time in Beijing. While other candidates point toward Cold War-style rejection and isolation of China, Huntsman promises deeper engagement. But he had the courage as ambassador to walk among protesters, drawing the ire of repressive Chinese authorities.

His wisdom on immigration also stands out. Though he reluctantly came to support a fence along the Mexican border, he avoids the demonization of illegal immigrants employed by Romney and some other candidates.

Backed by a team including many Bush-era hawks and neoconservatives, Romney offers bellicose language about Iran, forceful denunciations of Chinese currency manipulation, and unyielding - and entirely uncritical - support for Israel.

Already, the religious right, represented by Rick Santorum, and Tea Party activists, represented by Ron Paul, have pushed Romney in unwanted directions. In New Hampshire, Republican and independent voters have a chance, through Huntsman, to show him a sturdier model. Jon Huntsman would be a better president. But if he fails, he could still make Romney a better candidate.

Washington State Gov. Gregoire Supports Gay Marriage Bill

As I have noted before, two of my children now live in Washington State - a place the Boyfriend and I plan to visit later this year. In some ways Washington State is a polar opposite of Virginia. Washington is pretty progressive while in Virginia the Republican Party of Virginia wants to drag the state back to the Dark Ages. And in terms of gay rights, in Virginia LGBT citizens are the modern day balcks in terms of state backed legal discrimination. In Washington State, gays already have rights that are only dreamed of in Virginia. And now, Washington State's governor, Christine Gregoire (pictured at left) , has vowed to back a gay marriage bill to bring full equality to LGBT citizens in that state. The Seattle Times looks at the issue and here are some highlights:

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Chris Gregoire is publicly supporting legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington state, saying Wednesday that she came to the decision after several years of battling her own uncertainty on the issue. . . . "It has been a battle for me with my religion," said Gregoire, who is Catholic.

The Democrat previously had supported efforts to expand the state's current law on domestic partner rights for gay couples, but had not come out in favor of full marriage rights. "I've always been uncomfortable with the position I took publicly," she said. "Then I came to realize, the religions can decide what they want to do, but it's not OK for the state to discriminate."

The state's underlying domestic partnership law, which the Legislature passed in 2007, provided hospital visitation rights, the ability to authorize autopsies and organ donations, and inheritance rights when there is no will. Under state law, senior heterosexual couples can register as domestic partnerships as well.

In 2009, the Legislature passed, and voters later upheld, a bill that greatly expanded those rights and was known as the "everything-but-marriage" bill. Nearly 19,000 people in Washington are registered as domestic partners.

Democratic Sen. Ed Murray of Seattle, a gay lawmaker . . . . acknowledged that it would be a tough battle in the Senate, where Democrats hold a 27-22 majority, but where some conservative Democrats have voted with Republicans in opposition to the state's domestic partnership law.

"We're not there yet," he said. "We're a few votes short, but I think we can get there." Democrats hold a 56-42 majority in the House. Two of the more conservative members of the Senate Democratic caucus expressed reservations about the measure on Wednesday.

Gregoire called the idea of delaying action because of a challenging budget situation "reprehensible." "The idea that we would say to someone, I'm sorry, we're going to continue to discriminate and deny you equality because we have a budget problem ... that makes no sense to me," she said.

Not surprisingly, the Roman Catholic Church - while still demonstrating in instances literally all around the world that it favors child rapists over children and youths - is opposing the same sex marriage bill.

A Wonderful Mom's Reflections on Sharing Her Story of a Possibly Gay Son

Back in August I noted a post done by a wonderful mother who posted about her 6B year old son who had a crush on the character Blaine on the TV show Glee. Her openness and acceptance of her son was very moving and should have been an inspiration for all parents. As she discovered, some Christianists were none to happy with her acceptance of her child however God created him. She also heard from many LGBT children and youths who related their fears to her and also their wish that she were their mother. Now, she has shared some insightful reflections on her experience in the aftermath of her blog post going viral on Huffington Post. Given that today is the anniversary of my mother's death, her thoughts hit home with me. Here are some highlights:

On August 16 I learned what viral meant. I wrote an essay about my oldest son and his love of a popular gay television character, Glee's Blaine, and how this crush led to him telling me he wanted to kiss boys, not girls. I naively posted it to a blog, thinking some fans of the show might think it was cute.

Within 24 hours it had been reposted and "liked" over 30,000 times on the blog's website. It wasn't long before messages started flooding in, other websites began posting it and people were commenting. The response was overwhelming positive.

It also made some people uncomfortable. Of the criticisms, the most common is that my son is six years old and doesn't know anything about sex. While I fully acknowledge this may not be the end-all-and-be-all to my son's sexual orientation, I object to the idea that being gay is only about sexual acts. Our emotions and feelings, our attractions and compulsions, all contribute, not just our body parts. . . . . Plus, for every comment I've read saying my son is too young, I have received multiple messages from adults saying "I knew when I was little, too."

It got me thinking and after awhile I started to feel like I knew this big secret that shouldn't be a secret at all: Every gay adult used to be a gay kid. It's not as if all children start off as straight until some time later when someone flips the gay switch. We are who we are from the very moment we are born.

The horrible and hate filled words of the Michele Bachmann's of the world take on a whole new level of disgusting when picturing them being screamed at a group of kindergartners and first graders. They are unnatural. They are sinners. They are going to hell. They are dirty, wrong and sick. These people would tell my innocent little boy (who currently wants to be a fireman-ninja when he grows up) he is the biggest threat the American family... because he wants to kiss boys and not girls.

The reality is they are pounding these words of ignorance and hate into the ears and minds of gay children every day. And those children are hearing them. I know because many of those kids are now writing to me. Kids as young as 14 have sent me messages. So many are scared children, who sure as hell did not choose this for themselves, living in fear of their family finding out because they know full well what their mom and dad will say. And they tell me they wish I was their mom.

[T]he solution is obvious to me. Keep it away from all our kids. It's my responsibility as a mother, as a human being, to stand up and say "No more." No, you are not allowed to say those things in front of my children, not unless you want to deal with me. Because I will not allow any of my sons to be viciously attacked without seeing me defend them. They will never have to doubt for a second exactly where their parents stand, and never have to live in fear of who they are.

While my mother never wrote a blog post, I suspect her thoughts mirrored those of the wonderful "Amelia" who authored the August post and this piece on Huffington Post. I know for a fact that during the years she headed up a lab at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital she looked out for some young gay Navy boys. Would that all mothers - and fathers - were so loving and decent.

Another Sign of Life After DADT Repel

A picture is is worth 1000 words - image from Towleroad. Somehow I suspect this photo would put Rick Santorum and Elaine Donnelly into spittle spewing convulsions.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

In Memoriam - A Year Later

A year ago today at approximately 2:20 PM I lost my wonderful mother. Not surprisingly, it will be a rough day today. I had lost my father in the fall of 2006 and at times I still find it hard to believe that they are both gone. They were certainly the glue that had held the family together and that void has yet to be filled. I have spoken often about how lucky I was compared to so many to have parents who never flinched from fully supporting me when I came out to them in August, 2002. Their love and constant affirmation are one of the things that helped me survive the often horrible coming out journey. In their honor - and in honor of Hampton Roads Business OutReach ("HRBOR") I used a not insignificant part of my inheritance to endow a scholarship through the Hampton Roads Community Foundation which is described as follows on the Foundation's website:

George D. and Marion Phelps Hamar HRBOR Scholarship – For self-identifying lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) students graduating from high schools in the cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk or Virginia Beach, paying special emphasis to those who have demonstrated involvement in the LGBT community. Recipients must attend a four-year college or university.

In addition to honoring my parents in a lasting way I wanted to provide a small piece of help to LGBT youth whose parents have not been as wonderfully accepting as mine were. The first scholarship award will be in May, 2012 (application forms can be found here). Some readers have been wonderful and made donations to the scholarship: Charles, Jim, Carole, Stephen, Keelung, and others - you know who you are - and I thank you from the bottom of my heart in helping to honor my parents in a lasting way. Online donations can be made here and one only need to indicate the scholarship name to have it go to the endowment for this scholarship.

As always, my readers continue to be an inspiration - and at times a lifeline - and I thank all of you who have supported me emotionally since this blog began in earnest in April, 2007.Link

Anti-Homophobia Candidate Returns To Jamaica Prime Minister Office

For years I have encouraged LGBT tourists to avoid Jamaica like the plague given the government backed homophobia and anti-gay violence that have been the norm in the poverty stricken island nation. Recently, Portia Simpson Miller’s People’s National Party defeated the incumbent Labor Party in a landslide victory in Parliament and she will be returning to Government House as Prime Minister. The Labor Party has shown itself only too willing to engage in gay bashing for political gain much like Rick Santorum. During the December election campaign, Simpson Miller (pictured at left) came out against the “buggery” law in Jamaica that criminalizes homosexual behavior — though she refused to vow to push for its repeal. Thus, it will be interesting to see to what extent the Jamaican government will stir away from institutionalized homophobia. I would not encourage a resumption of tourism to Jamaica just yet, but the situation bears watching. Here are highlights from the Washington Blade:

Portia Simpson Miller’s People’s National Party won a landslide victory in Parliament over the ruling Labor Party in Jamaica yesterday, giving her a second run at her previous role as first female Prime Minister of that Caribbean nation.

Jamaica is well known for its severe homophobia around the world, and in the past decade, many instances of serious anti-gay violence in Jamaica have caught the attention of the international media. In addition disgraced former Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, had vowed to keep gays out of his Cabinet, a policy supported by Simpson Miller’s opponent, and outgoing Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, who stepped in to take Golding’s place upon his resignation two months ago.

In a nationally televised December debate between Holness and Simpson Miller, the People’s National Party leader came out against the “buggery” law in Jamaica that criminalizes homosexual behavior — though she refused to vow to push for its repeal. “Our administration believes in protecting the human rights of all Jamaicans,” Simpson Miller responded. “No one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. Government should provide the protection.”

In addition, when both candidates were asked if they would appoint qualified LGBT MPs to their cabinet, Holness remained steadfast to the existing policy while Simpson Miller refused to apply a litmus test of that sort to her cabinet candidates.

Time will tell whether or not Jamaicans recognize that homophobia and the embracing of religious based hate and ignorance are not in their nation's long term best interests. Simpson Miller's remarks are a possible start. Jamaica is a physically beautiful country, but the all too prevalent anti-gay atmosphere make it an ugly place nonetheless.

Santorum's Homophobia Problem

Jay Michaelson, author of God v. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality, who will be in Norfolk on Sunday, January 8, 2012, to discuss his book, has a piece up on Huffington Post that looks at Rick Santorum's history of gratuitous anti-gay bigotry and how it may turn around and bite Santorum as he tries to remain a viable presidential candidate. Santorum's vile anti-gay hatred may prove to be out of the mainstream - a recent poll showed 59% of Virginian would accept civil unions - and hopefully, Santorum may represent a dying gasp of the Christianists. While they certainly will not go away completely as long as there are religiously brainwashed and psychologically disturbed victims to be fleeced for monetary support, one can only hope this crowd becomes smaller and more politically isolated over time. Here are column highlights:

LGBT people awoke with a sense of dread to the news of Rick Santorum's near-tie with Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses. Santorum is not just the butt (pun intended) of a deservingly dirty joke; he has long been ahead of the curve when it comes to bashing gay people for political gain. He is the poster child for political homophobia. And yet, this near-win is different, because America is different. Santorum represents not the resurgence of gay-baiting, but its last, self-defeating gasp.

Only a few years ago, homophobia was a great uniter. Short on campaign cash? Need to fire up the base? Why, flash a few images of the latest pride parade, compare same-sex marriage to bestiality, and the checks and self-rightous blog posts would flow like milk and honey.

Indeed, it has been remarked that this was Reaganism's great innovation: using social issues to convince working class people to vote against their economic interests. At first, it was the "Southern strategy," making use of coded racism. Later, it grew into gay-baiting, making use of overt homophobia. For at least twenty years, it was the winning formula for the Republican party. Enrich the rich by enraging the working poor.

Only now, things are different. Last May, a Gallup poll found a majority of Americans supported legalizing same-sex marriage. Last September, a large majority supported the end of the military's "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" policy. And over the last year, we've seen a dramatic increase of LGBT (including T) people in the media, in politics, and in our communities.

As a result of these dramatic changes, Santorum's homophobia is more a liability than an asset. Gay people may be horrified at his near-win in Iowa, but we needn't be. His bigotry still plays to his base -- but it's only the base, only the extremists, who still soak it up.

[P]ublic opinion could always turn against gay people. But I don't think that's likely, because it changed, over time, due to a very resilient and powerful force: truth. Straight folks have seen, in their own personal experience, that gay people are no more or less ethical than they are. . . . . The stereotypes that all gay people are a certain way (lewd, anti-family, demonic, whatever) are simply not true, and anyone who bothers to -- no, allows themselves to -- get to know their gay neighbors realizes this.

And they've seen, too, that sexual orientation is a trait, not (as it has been variously labeled) a sin, pathology, "lifestyle choice," neurosis, or dysfunction. Sexuality is just part of who we are -- a good part. . . . Once you see that stereotypes are lies, you don't go back to them later, especially when -- as poll after poll has shown us -- that knowledge comes first-hand.

And by the way, this is even true within Santorum's base itself. In evangelical communities across the country, there are moderate voices questioning the way in which gay people have been singled out by the so-called Christian Right.

Given the money and the races ahead in the Republican primary, there's no way Rick Santorum will be the party's nominee. Mitt Romney's PACs will destroy him just as they destroyed Newt Gingrich in Iowa, burying him under an avalanche of negative ads. But as depressing as Santorum's rise may seem to LGBT folks, this time really is different. We are not about to be victims again. On the contrary, if the polling data is accurate, the biggest victim of Santorum's homophobia will be Santorum himself.

REMINDER: Michaelson's talk about his book in Norfolk is at 10:00 AM on Sunday, January 8, 2012, at Congregation Ohef Sholom, 530 Raleigh Avenue, Norfolk, Virginia.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Catholic Bishops Fight Anti-Gay Jihad to Distract From Continued Sex Abuse Scandal Stories

I've noted a number of times how the Roman Catholic bishops seem to escalate their anti-gay jihad every time new stories break about the still growing worldwide sex abuse scandal that is effecting nearly every continent on the globe. The head of the Manchester New Hampshire Diocese has endorsed same sex marriage repeal effort in that state while the head of the Hartford Connecticut Archdiocese is come out in support of a quasi-"ex-gay" program that seeks to have gays remain celibate (he doesn't indicate whether such celibacy is as discretionary as appears to be the case among the Catholic priesthood). Meanwhile, the sex scandals surrounding the Catholic Church continue unabated. Here are a few stories turned up today by my Google search agent:

Dutch Conservative Parties Called for Resignations of Catholic Bishops: Things in the Netherlands continue to be in a free fall in the wake of reports that have revealed tens of thousands of children and youths were sexually abused in Catholic institutions. Now two conservative parties are calling for the resignation of Catholic bishops implicated in the report. Here are details from the National Post:

Two leading politicians in the Netherlands, both from conservative parties, have called for the resignations of Catholic bishops in the wake of a damning report on sexual abuse in the Dutch church.

The country’s prime minister, Mark Rutte, also announced that his cabinet is considering lifting a statute of limitations to allow criminal prosecutions. A complaint has already been filed with the public prosecutor’s office against a former bishop of the Rotterdam diocese, Philippe Bär. An attorney representing alleged victims has charged Bär with covering up abuse during his tenure from 1983 to 1993.

Released on Dec. 16, the report found that somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 Dutch children suffered abuse by Catholic personnel, ranging from unwanted sexual advances to rape, during the period of 1945 to 2010. A commission sponsored by the Catholic bishops and religious orders of Holland produced the report.

On Dec. 17, Holland’s deputy prime minister, Maxime Verhagen, himself a Catholic, said the church has been “profoundly damaged,” and bishops should consider resigning. Verhagen is a member of the Christian Democratic Appeal Party, a center-right faction seen as friendly to the church.

Twelve days later, the leader of the Reformed Political Party, another conservative faction of Calvinist origins, argued on national television that a Catholic bishop should resign. Doing so, said Kees van der Staaij, would “send out a strong signal about how seriously the church takes the issue.”
US Catholic Bishop Resigns After Admitting To Fathering Two Children: As I noted above, celibacy is being urged for gays. Too bad the priesthood doesn't conform to what it is preaching to others. Gabino Zavala, the Auxiliary Bishop for Los Angeles is a case in point. Zavala has resigned in the wake of his admission that he fathered two children. Here are highlights from RTT News:

The Vatican announced Wednesday that Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Gabino Zavala, the Auxiliary Bishop for the San Gabriel Pastoral Region of Los Angeles who had earlier admitted to having fathered two children.

"The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the post of Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles Gabino Zavala," the Vatican said in a stateme

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez announced the "sad and difficult" news in a letter to Catholics in the archdiocese. Gomez said that Zavala had informed him in "early December that he is the father of two teenage children who live with their mother in another state."

The development comes amid damages caused to reputation of the Catholic Church in several countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, the Irish Republic and the United States, following sexual abuse scandals involving the clergy.

Canadian bishop gets 15 months in jail in child pornography case: In Canada yet another demonstration of the hypocrisy of the Church hierarchy was provided by the by Bishop Raymond Lahey who spent 15 moths in Jail for his child porn conviction. The Washington Post has details and here are a few highlights:

A Canadian Roman Catholic bishop who admitted he was addicted to looking at child pornography left court Wednesday a free man after being credited for time served in his 15 month sentence.

Bishop Raymond Lahey was arrested at the Ottawa airport in 2009 after customs authorities found almost 600 pornographic photos of young teen boys on his laptop and a handheld device. Some of the porn involved adolescent boys engaged in sex acts while wearing a crucifix and rosary beads.

The case was especially shocking to Canadians because Lahey had overseen a multimillion-dollar settlement for clerical sexual abuse victims in his diocese before he was charged.

Ontario Court Justice Kent Kirkland on Wednesday gave Lahey two-for-one credit for the time he served and two years probation. . . . Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Wednesday that the Vatican had said that once the criminal court case was concluded, church authorities would consider which church law measures to take. Lombardi said it wasn’t known when that decision would be taken but that he expected it would be made public.

After Lahey pleaded guilty, the Vatican said the church would impose its own disciplinary measures against him but did not elaborate.

Mind you that these three stories are just from today's search agent results. That's right, a single day's results. The picture revealed virtually everyday is not much different. As I have asked many times, why does anyone listen to anything the Catholic hierarchy has to say on anything? These men on the whole are beyond morally bankrupt and many rightfully belong behind bars. Yet the mindless idiots in the pews continue to kiss their asses and financially subsidize their organized crime like enterprise. I simple cannot grasp the mindset of the laity who are accomplices to these crimes whether they like to admit it or not.

Michele Bachmann Ends Her Delusion Based Campaign

Anyone remotely in touch with reality - which, of course, ruled out Michele Bachmann and husband "Marcia" Bachmann (pictured above) - would have known that Michele Bachmann didn't had a snowball's chance in Hell of moving forward beyond Iowa in the GOP presidential clown car contest. And as one blogger noted, when Bachmann claims she heard God telling her to run for president, she should have asked "president of what?" In any event, in the wake of her disastrous showing in Iowa, Bachmann has been forced to at least briefly get in touch with reality and the result is that she is suspending - translated, ending - her presidential campaign. Frankly, given Bachmann's unbridled homophobia and her marketing of reparative therapy through "Marcia" Bachmann's "Christian counseling clinics," I find it difficult to have even a shred of sympathy for her. Here are some highlights from Politico:

Michele Bachmann announced Wednesday morning that she would drop her GOP presidential bid after a sixth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses Tuesday. “Last night, the people in Iowa spoke with a very clear voice, and so I have decided to step aside,” Bachmann told supporters in West Des Moines.

She did not endorse one of her rivals, but said instead that Republicans “must rally” around whoever the party chooses as its “standard-bearer” in the race.

Her departure will give a boost to Rick Santorum, whose recent surge put him in a virtual tie with Mitt Romney on Tuesday.

Heading into South Carolina, where evangelicals and social conservatives dominate the pool of potential voters, Santorum will be in a better position to consolidate that support. Santorum’s hoping to establish himself as the new — and perhaps final — conservative alternative to Romney

[H]er campaign was beset by a string of gaffes — starting with the assertion at her campaign launch that Waterloo was the home of John Wayne, when it was actually the hometown of serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Another blow came when Ed Rollins, her campaign manager, departed and began speaking out against Bachmann on cable TV and in the media.

Heading into the fall, Bachmann tried to derail the then-front-runner Perry by attacking him for mandating the HPV vaccine Gardasil. But the blowback of her claims that the vaccine caused mental retardation hurt her as well

Since her decline began, Bachmann had been banking on a strong finish with Iowa’s social conservative and evangelical voters. Last month, when Iowa conservative leader Bob Vander Plaats endorsed Santorum and called Bachmann asking her to consider dropping out, it became clear that she would not be the top choice of social conservatives in the state.

Bachmann is up for reelection to the House in November, but did not make any announcement regarding her plans for that race. Congressional observers and those in her district say she’d be a virtual lock for reelection if she decides to run.

With Bachmann out of the running, the equally unhinged Rick Santorum will be the short term beneficiary. However, one can only hope that as a result of Santorum's new high profile, the media and his opponents will seriously focus on his significant baggage and far out of the mainstream positions on divorce, contraception and, of course, treatment of LGBT citizens. As for Bachmann's re-election to her House seat, I hope and pray that her constituents may have waken up to the fact that she's a huge liability to her district and the State of Minnesota.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Urban Dictionary Aptly Describes Santorum

If you haven't figured it out yet, I detest Rick Santorum and find him to be the embodiment of all the dangers posed to religious freedom by the Christianists who wrap themselves in supposed religious virtue and the Bible and then proceed to dispense nothing but hate, division, displays of false piety, discord and an utter perversion of the Gospel message. They'd love nothing more than to over throw the United States Constitution and impose their own "Christian" version of Sharia law. Fortunately, the Urban Dictionary has an apt description of Santorum (hence, his nickname, "frothy mix"):

Other meanings of "Santorum" per the Urban Dictionary are:

Biting, pejorative term used to describe a plutocratic, homophobic theocrat; a component of the radical right who embraces tax cuts for the rich, social spending cuts for the poor, anti-gay legislation in every conceivable form and adherence to the strictest tenets of the Christian right.

A closet case who will help keep theocracy in power in the USA and spread the crusade worldwide.

Quote of the Day: Rick Santorm's Daughter Defines the Christianist Agenda

The far right and the gay haters among the Christian Right - which in effect is just about all of the Christian Right - like to claim that LGBT Americans are improperly attempting to inflict their beliefs on all citizens. The claim is, of course, untrue since in reality all we activists truly are asking for is the equality and freedom of religion promised to us under the U. S. Constitution. We'd also like to see an end to the special rights too long improperly afforded to certain Christian beliefs.

As the above statement by Elizabeth Santorum, daughter of Rick Santorum - who seeks to make all Americans live by his personal religious beliefs - makes clean when properly refocused, its really the Christianist who are trying to do what they accuse others of doing. Ms. Santorum's attack on gays unwittingly described the relentless Christianist agenda. An agenda that needs to be defeated. As is always the case with the hypocrites of modern day Pharisee set, they need to look in the mirror and stop accusing others of what they themselves are doing.

Iowa: Mitt Romney Beats Rick Santorum by 8 Votes

The outcome in Iowa's GOP caucuses says a lot about conservatives in Iowa and today's Republican Party and none of it is good. That someone as extreme and totally out of the mainstream as Rick Santorum could virtually tie for first place underscores that the party has been hijacked by far right Christians who first and foremost are focused on continuing the culture wars against most Americans and, of course, gays in particular. It also indicates that despite its progressive history, something foul is occurring in Iowa itself that collectively the crazy GOP contenders far out performed sane candidates. The only good news is that the poor showings of Gingrich, Perry and Bachmann may mean the deaths of their campaigns. One can only hope that as the GOP presidential contest moves to New Hampshire, Santorum will go down in flames as an unelectable extremist. The Washington Post looks at yesterday's results. Here are highlights:

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney beat former senator Rick Santor­um (Pa.) in the Iowa caucuses by just eight votes, a sign of a splintered and increasingly fractious field as the GOP presidential race moves to New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) scored a close but disappointing third-place finish in a state where he had hoped to score a breakout victory. . . . . Further back in the pack were three candidates who had been considered leading contenders at earlier points in the race: former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), with 13 percent of the vote, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, with 10 percent. Putting in a particularly dismal showing was Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), with 5 percent.

[Perry] said he planned to go home to Texas instead and “determine whether there is a path forward for myself in this race.” It is more difficult to see such a path for Bachmann, given her last-place finish and the fact that her campaign strategy had been premised on a strong launch in Iowa . . .

Though Santorum’s old-fashioned, shoe-leather approach to campaigning paid off in Iowa, the question now is how far he can go from here, given his lack of resources and the need to ramp up a national organization. . . . Santorum also will come under the kind of scrutiny and criticism that he was spared when the other contenders did not view him as a threat.

[B]oth Paul, a libertarian whose views are out of line with those of most Republicans, and Santorum, an underfinanced social conservative, will struggle to prevail against Romney in the long run.

[I]t appears that for the first time in this campaign, Romney is about to come under intense attack by his opponents, which could further roil — and prolong — the race.

For all the attention the Iowa caucuses receive as the first contest of the nominating season, they have been an unreliable predictor of which GOP candidate will ultimately receive the nomination in races where there is not an incumbent president.

Since the caucuses first rose to prominence in the 1970s, only two winners — Sen. Robert J. Dole in 1996 and Texas Gov. George W. Bush — have gone on to become their party’s standard-bearers. Past Iowa contests have, however, cleared the field of its weaker performers.

Candidly, the more the GOP candidates bloody themselves, the better. It will be entertaining to watch the demolition derby continue.