Saturday, May 05, 2012

Bill Clinton Robo Calls North Carolina As the Haters Pull out the Stops

During the National Equality March, the boyfriend and I met this couple who coincidentally were from North Carolina.  The sign they exemplifies the type of legacy that North Carolina will be returning to if Amendment One passes on this coming Tuesday.  The hate and vitriol being unleashed in a final push by the Christianists is truly sickening.  Particularly heinous are the claims of North Carolina pastor Tim Rabon who claims that gay marriage will lead to "man and Beast marriage."  I suspect that in Rabon's eyes, the boyfriend and I are not even fully human.  It speaks to the ugliness that is Christianity under the Christofascists.  And it's not just the Protestants who are piling on the hatred.  The two Catholic bishops in North Carolina - you know, the guys who belong to the club that protect child rapists - are sending a letter to every registered Catholic in their dioceses urging a vote for hate and bigotry.  Would that they showed as much concern when it comes to stopping the rape and sexual abuse of children and youths.  It truly is enough to make one want to vomit.
On the positive side, former President Bill Clinton is robo calling North Carolina residents in a recorded message urging them to vote against Amendment One.  Details can be found here.  Here's the text of the message:
"Hello, this is President Bill Clinton.  I’m calling to urge you to vote against Amendment One on Tuesday May 8.  If it passes, it won’t change North Carolina’s law on marriage.  What it will change is North Carolina’s ability to keep good businesses, attract new jobs, and attract and keep talented entrepreneurs.  If it passes, your ability to keep those businesses, get those jobs, and get those talented entrepreneurs will be weakened.  And losing even one job to Amendment One is too big of a risk.  Its passage will also take away health insurance from children and could even take away domestic violence protections from women.  So the real effect of the law is not to keep the traditional definition of marriage, you’ve already done that.  The real effect of the law will be to hurt families and drive away jobs.  North Carolina can do better.  Again, this is Bill Clinton asking you to please vote against Amendment One.  Thanks."

I have not always been a Bill Clinton fan, but in this action, he is truly on the side of religious freedom, common decency and the concept of equality under the civil laws.  Thanks Bill!

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

The Republican Party’s Anti-Gay Bias

Today's Washington Post has a guest op-ed written by Michael Guest, the first openly gay ambassador appointed by Chimperator Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, that looks at the anti-gay mindset that still permeates the Republican Party.  His views make it clear that gay Republicans are masochists who seem to love to expose themselves to contempt and abuse.  Meanwhile, the moderate voices in the GOP remain silent, always giving into the hate and bigotry of the Christofascists.  Sadly, if Mitt Romney is in fact a moderate on LGBT issues, then he needs to grow some balls and stand up against the voices of hate and division.  Until the GOP changes, I for one cannot in good conscience vote Republican.  I'm simply not enough of a self-loathing masochist to support a party that despises my existence as a matter of party platform.  Here are highlights from Guest's column:

Only Ric Grenell can explain the “personal reasons” that compelled him to leave Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. If his departure was influenced even the slightest by the anti-gay attacks that followed his appointment, I sympathize.

In 2001, when I, an openly gay career Foreign Service officer, was sworn in to serve as U.S. ambassador to Romania, I and many others hoped that the Republican Party’s obsession with demonizing gay and lesbian citizens was at an overdue end.

It wasn’t long before that hope was shattered. For months I received bags of hate mail, much of it from writers who identified themselves as “loyal Republicans.” A Republican congressional aide called soon after my arrival in Romania to ask whether my partner’s “socks and underwear” had been transported at taxpayer expense. It quickly became clear to me that the organizations that decried my nomination, or even called for it to be rescinded, shared a Republican membership base.

Grenell surely knows, as I do, many Republicans who believe that their party should be more open to gays and more accepting on issues of gay rights. But where are those voices, and what influence do they have? Republican Party leaders continue to allow principles of fairness and equality — so important at the founding of the GOP and, indeed, our country — to be hollowed out.

At times, the graphic spite and incivility of letters I received made me cry. I knew that my life and that of my partner would be easier were I to move on to less-public responsibilities.  I stayed in the job because I was a career professional and because our country’s interests after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were so important to me as an American. I knew that anti-gay voices at home had not eroded my access to or influence with Romanian officials.

I also knew that giving in to the anti-gay crowd would make it only harder for the next gay man or woman to be nominated. That alone gave me the strength to endure those wrenchingly difficult months. 

Romney’s slowness to comment amid the noise since Grenell’s resignation raises questions about his principles, as well as the quality and depth of his leadership. That’s what should concern us most in this sad affair.

The larger political backdrop to Grenell’s departure remains troubling to those of us who are gay. For far too many years, the Republican Party has harbored the drowners-out — the voices most responsible for ensuring that fair and equal rights of America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens are a question, not a fact.  Those voices, and the discriminatory policies they have helped anchor in law, make it hard for many of us to imagine voting Republican at the national level.

Republican Party leaders have an obligation to challenge the anti-gay bias that’s been allowed to thrive within. The GOP’s prospective presidential nominee carries that obligation as well. 

Seven Reasons Obama Will Beat Mitt Romney

Click image to enlarge
I don't typically read the Washington Times since the publication often requires that one take a huge gulp of Kool-Aid before reading it.  However, there is an interesting column that lays out Mitt Romney's electoral problems and why he's likely to lose to Barack Obama.  Given the Washington Times' copyright policies, I will not publish quotes from the piece which can be found here.  However, I do want to summarize the points because I believe that they are valid and because some are of Romney's own creation.  Here's the summary of some of the points (read the article for the rest):

1. Romney is a radical capitalist who has furthered some of the most ruthless characteristics of unfettered capitalism while at Bain Capital.

2. Romney is utterly out of touch with average Americans and try as he might, he just can't relate to them.  Ditto for his wife despite her "stay at home mom" image.

3. Romney is a hostage of the Christofascists - as demonstrated by the quick demise of Richard Grenell - and he will find it difficult to now Etch A Sketch himself into a moderate thanks to Bryan Fischer and others who will continue to inflame the Kool-Aid drinker set.

4. Women are turned off by Romney's policies that despite Romney's efforts to dance around the subjects, track the Christianist opposition to abortion under any circumstances, contraception, and same sex marriage.

5. Romney is a hard sell to Hispanic voters because of his anti-immigration talk which aligns with the far right's animus towards Hispanics and immigrants.

6.  The GOP primaries force Romney to the right and he will be hard pressed to escape many of his words and positions.

7. If Ron Paul hasn't left the scene and may force Romney to tale positions unpopular with independents and moderates.

New Poll Shows Romney Trailing in Virginia

Romney with extremists Michele Bachmann and Bob "Governor Ultrasound" McDonnell in Portsmouth, Virginia
In 2008 Barack Obama was the first Democrat to carry Virginia since LBJ in 1964.  If current polling holds, Obama may repeat the trick again in 2012.  For a state that in a moment of insanity gave control of the state government to the Virginia GOP - and as a result witnessed utter anti-woman and theocratic batshitery as the norm for the Virginia GOP during the last legislative session - the news is encouraging.  Just perhaps non-Kool-Aid drinking Virginians have come to their senses.  As the new Washington Post poll indicates, Obama's 7 point lead stems in large part to a belief that the Obama's ideology is a better fit for the state than that of Mitt Romney who has shown himself to be a hostage of the Christianist extremists. Meanwhile, Romney has tried to bolster his popularity by appearing in Hampton Roads with Bob "Governor Ultrasound" McDonnell and the certifiably crazy Michele Bachmann.  I hope the polling holds and that, if we are lucky, 2nd District Christofascist Scott Rigell goes down to defeat along with Romney come November.  Better yet, that the ever despicable Eric Cantor gets voted out as well.  Here are highlights from the Washington Post:

A majority of Virginians — 52 percent — say that “Barack Obama’s views on most issues are just about right” as compared to 37 percent who say the same of Romney’s views. Among electorally critical independents, 52 percent say Obama’s views were about right as opposed to just 34 percent who say the same of Romney.

Worth noting: Among all Virginia registered voters, the gap is slightly more narrow; 49 percent of registered voters in Virginia say that Obama’s views on issues are “just about right” while 39 percent of registered voters say the same of Romney.

Why does this data point matter? Because lots (and lots) of people make up their minds about who they will vote for based on which candidate they think best understands them.  And, at the moment, a majority of Virginians believe that Obama is closer to how they think about issues than is Romney. That matters — big time. 

The Post does note, however some reasons for caution for those pleased by the poll results:

First, Romney has been hurt across the board by the protracted Republican presidential primary which, in the final few months of the campaign, wound up focusing on contraception and other social issues that played into a preconceived notion among many independents that the GOP was beholden to their social conservative wing.

Second, the Virginia presidential primary was a non-event as only Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul spent any time in the state. (Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum did not qualify for the ballot.) That means that Romney has not been properly introduced — and by that we mean through a slew of positive television ads — to many voters in the Commonwealth.

The more time Romney spends in the state and the more money he and his campaign (and various super PACs) spend on TV ads promoting him as a centrist problem solver and the President as a liberal partisan, the more likely it will be that he can close this “thinks like you” gap.  But the gap is real. And to win — in Virginia and elsewhere — Romney has narrow it.

It will obviously be crucial that the Christianists remain tied firmly around Romney's neck.  One can only hope he does more appearances with nut jobs like Bachmann and that his visit to the coven of religious extremists at Liberty University for that institutions commencement gets LOTS of coverage.  Liberty is increasingly making Pat Robertson's Regent University look moderate, so I hope the Obama campaign has plenty of folks on the ground for the commencement taking photos and recording the theocratic craziness that will likely mark the event. 

Will Homophobia and Hate Win Out in North Carolina?

Nate Silver analyzes the numbers in a New York Times piece and makes my stomach churn when he predicts that Amendment One will likely pass next Tuesday.  It gives me a sad sense of deja vu as to what happened here in Virginia in 2006 when the vile Marshall-Newman Amendment to Virginia's Constitution passed with a 57% approval rate.  Back then, the only consolation was that the loss wasn't as bad as had been the case in Deep South states like Mississippi where anti-gay amendments passed by more that 75%.  Now, LGBT citizens of North Carolina are on the verge of finding out whether a majority of voters in their state basically view them as human garbage because, regardless of what the Amendment One proponents say, that's the real message they are seeking to send.  "Protecting marriage" is just the ruse that is being used to dupe the ignorant and gullible. First, some highlights from Nate's piece and then commentary from Religion Dispatches about the Christianist venom behind Amendment One.  Here are highlights from the Times piece:

On Tuesday, North Carolina will vote on a state constitutional amendment that declares, “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized,” thereby banning recognition of same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships of any kind.

Both recent polls of the state and an analysis of past ballot initiatives in other states suggest that the measure,  Amendment 1, is likely to pass, although there is ambiguity over the outcome because of voter confusion about what the amendment seeks to achieve.

Most recent polls show that voters are likely to approve the ban on same-sex marriages and civil unions, although results differ substantially from survey to survey because of the wording of their questions.  The most recent poll was conducted by Civitas Institute, a conservative think tank whose poll results have generally shown little partisan bias in the past. That survey polled Democratic and Republican primary voters separately, but projected that the measure would win by 16 percentage points when it combined the results.

An April poll by Public Policy Polling, which conducts polling for Democratic clients but whose surveys also have a track record of nonpartisanship, had the measure prevailing by 14 points.

Both the Civitas and Public Policy Polling surveys directly read the text of the amendment to the voters they were polling. Conversely, some polls that described what the amendment would do but did not read the ballot language have sometimes showed it failing, often by clear margins.

A model I published last year, which uses the results of past ballot initiatives to project support for these measures based mainly on religious participation in each state and whether the initiative would ban civil unions in addition to same-sex marriage, implies that the amendment is likely to pass.

So there's the data analysis.  For the hate and bigotry behind Amendment One, here are excerpts from a piece in Religion Dispatches:  

In the religious right’s effort to put a pretty face on its anti-gay bigotry, it has become standard for opponents of legal equality for LGBT people and their families to declare that they are not motivated by hatred but by love for gay people or for the institution of marriage. Of course, often in the next breath they are denouncing gays as demonic enemies of faith and freedom. One North Carolina pastor even said in April that allowing same-sex couples to marry would be the equivalent of a nuclear holocaust.

Perhaps the star of this sad show is the Rev. Patrick Wooden, whose outrageous diatribes have included reminiscing about times when anti-LGBT violence was considered “normal.”  .   .   . 
But you don’t have to look far beyond Wooden’s own words to find just how much bigotry is “in it.”

• This week, the wife of a state senator sponsoring the anti-gay amendment reportedly stated that the amendment was needed because “the Caucasian race is diminishing and we need to uh, reproduce.”

• Pastor Sean Harris of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville encouraged churchgoers to squash “like a cockroach” any signs of effeminate behavior among their young sons and to essentially beat the gay out of them

• Also this week, a person who declares on his YouTube account, “I vote for the Bible,” posted a video – since removed – of himself urinating on a “Vote No” sign.

• That followed the posting of a video by a teenager shooting at a vote no sign he says someone put up near his house and concluding, “that’s how we deal with it around here.”

Sadly, the principal face of Christianity today - at least as reported by the news media - is one of hatred and hypocrisy.  I find myself with less and less desire to have any connection to a religious system that now defines itself on its hatred of others, be they gay, minorities, immigrants, liberals, or non-Christians.  There is absolutely no love to be found in conservative Christian denominations and at times, such as now, I truly believe the world would be a better place if Christianity were a dead religion.

Friday, May 04, 2012

More Friday Male Beauty

Ousted Iowa Supreme Court Justices To Receive Kennedy Profile in Courage Award

Sometimes doing the right thing is difficult and requires a great deal of courage - especially when it means standing up to societal bigotry and saying that long held prejudices are wrong.  It can even mean that retribution will be forth coming from the bigots who cannot tolerate having their bigotry called out.  That's exactly what the three Iowa Supreme Court Justices who joined in the unanimous ruling that struck down Iowa's anti-gay marriage laws.  They did the right thing and paid a price for doing the right thing.   What these three brave individuals did I suspect will be viewed by history in the same light as Atticus Finch i the novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" - one of my favorite books of all time.  Meanwhile, the opponents of marriage equality will hopefully be viewed as akin to the lynch mob depicted in To Kill A Mockingbird that is faced down by Atticus Finch.  Thankfully, the three justices are being recognized for the courage and will be receiving the Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.  Here are highlights from Freedom to Marry:

Three years after the unanimous Iowa Supreme Court decision affirming the freedom to marry, three former justices ousted in a retention election following the ruling will receive the prestigious 2012 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on Monday, May 7. Caroline Kennedy will present the award to former Iowa Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices David Baker and Michael Streit at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. 

“Former justices David Baker, Michael Streit, and Chief Justice Marsha Ternus showed tremendous courage when they joined a unanimous court in upholding the freedom to marry for all loving, committed couples in Iowa, and, again, when they honored the bedrock American value of an independent judiciary by refraining from political campaigning even as they faced an unprecedented moneyed campaign mounted against the court by anti-marriage shell-groups,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry. “These courageous justices have stood by their decision and fidelity to the constitutional guarantees they defended, even as Iowa’s voters have begun expressing buyers’ remorse over succumbing to the scare-tactic, special-interest campaign that rabbit-punched judges for doing their job .”

The award ceremony will take place at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on Monday, May 7 from 11am to 12pm and will be webcast live. The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award is presented annually to public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences.

Mitt Romney apparently has leaned anything from the Richard Grenell debacle.  While attempting to do damage control, Romney dug his hole deeper by referring to being gay as a "sexual preference."  That term along with "lifesyle choice" are the favorite terms of the Christofascist because the clear inference is that they involve choice.  Orientation, on the other hand is immutable and not changing - exactly what makes discrimination based on sexual orientation in the same league as racial discrimination.  The target of the discrimination cannot change the trait despised by the one engaging in discrimination.  Think Progress looks at Romney's additional self inflicted wound. Here are highlights:

Mitt Romney spoke out about the resignation of ex-foreign policy adviser Richard Grenell during an appearance on Fox News this morning. In doing so, the former Massachusetts governor failed to condemn the homophobia that helped convince the openly-gay foreign policy expert to leave the campaign less than two weeks after he first joined it.

Romney’s remarks represent the campaign’s failure to actively take on the social conservative wing of the Republican party on equality issues. Rather than publicly defend Grenell from groups who labeled him a “homosexual activist,” the candidate instead chose to muzzle his foreign policy spokesperson, asking him to remain silent on a recent conference call.

As one Republican told the New York Times, “It’s not that the campaign cared whether Ric Grenell was gay. They believed this was a nonissue. But they didn’t want to confront the religious right.” Romney’s response to Grenell’s resignation demonstrates that he himself also fears alienating these extreme elements.
Andrew Sullivan calls out Romney as is appropriate:

Sexual "preference" is about whether you are attracted to blondes or brunettes, twinks or bears, older or younger, etc. Being gay is a sexual and emotional orientation. It is not a choice. It is a fact. Like your craven cowardice in the face of raw bigotry.

Exodus Cancels Next ‘Love Won Out’ Conference Due to Lack of Interest

I have long been a critic of the fraudulent "ex-gay" programs and first became involved in LGBT rights activism when I worked with Wayne Besen to expose former national level "ex-gay" Michael Johnston (pictured at right) as an utter and complete fraud.  For those unfamiliar with Johnston, in 1998 he was one of Jerry Falwell's proteges and appeared in a national ad campaign financed by a who's who of the Christianist organizations.  Like many of the "ex-gay for pay" crowd, Johnston claimed that he had accepted Jesus and been cured of his homosexuality.  The problem is that he wasn't and was sleeping around the Hampton Roads area - where he is originally from - under a false name and having un-safe sex even though he was HIV+.  In my view, it is long past time that the public realize that these programs are frauds and are motivated by either (i) money in the form of fleecing the ignorant and gullible or (ii) politics were keeping the "change myth" alive is important for the Christianist political agenda.  Ex-Gay Watch reports on the cancellation of Exodus' conference:

In what seems like the logical extension of the recent trend, Exodus International has decided there were not enough people interested in attending their Love Won Out conference scheduled for later this month to justify the expense. Conference attendance has been trending downward, with their last conference bringing in barely 400 people. This is down from nearly 1000 in Exodus’ headier days.

The cancellation of this conference, the first time we know of since either Exodus or Focus on the Family held the event, appears to provide more evidence of their decline.

In the email (see below) sent out to would be attendees barely two days ago, Exodus’ Senior Director of Events David Fountain suggests that they might “Automatically convert all or part of your registration fees into a tax-deductible gift to support the ministry efforts of Exodus International.”
Joe Jervis at Joe.My.God has very apt comments on the development:

The "ex-gay" industry has been rocked to its core this year. First the head of its most infamous group announced that not one person had ever actually been "cured." Then the researcher who authored the most widely cited "ex-gay" study recanted his findings and apologized to the gay community. So maybe it's not surprising that nobody wants to attend an "ex-gay" convention.

"ex-gay" therapy is a con job, a scam, a cash-cow designed to separate self-hating homosexuals from their money. It's sort of brilliant, really. You're never "cured" so you just have to keep paying and paying and paying. It's like Jenny Craig, but without the delicious cardboard aftertaste.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Afghanistan - A Fool's Errand

America's continued presence in Afghanistan defies all logic and reason.  Yet the waste of money and American lives continues and the deal recently signed by Barack Obama guarantees that the idiocy will continue.  The phenomenon is akin to the conservative mind described in the last post: select supposed facts no matter how wrong to support the war's continuance even though all of recorded history and the experiences of other empires (e.g., British and Soviet) in Afghanistan underscore the fools errand nature of the endeavor. A column in the Washington Post looks at this upsetting refusal by Obama and others to face reality and get the Hell out NOW!  For the record, I have a son-in-law scheduled to go back to Afghanistan this fall for his 3rd deployment.   Here are column excerpts:

Show of hands: Does anybody really understand the U.S. policy in Afghanistan? Can anyone figure out how we’re supposed to stay the course and bring home the troops at the same time?   I’m at a loss, even after President Obama’s surprise trip to the war zone. The president’s televised address from Bagram air base raised more questions than it answered. Let’s start with the big one: Why?

According to Obama, “the United States and our allies went to war to make sure that al-Qaeda could never use this country to launch attacks against us.” I would argue that U.S. and NATO forces have already done all that is humanly possible toward that end.

That smells like victory to me. Yet 94 American troops have lost their lives in Afghanistan so far in 2012, U.S. forces will still be engaged in combat until the end of 2014, and we are committed to an extraordinary — and expensive — level of involvement there until 2024. Why?  Of the U.S. troops who died this year as a result of hostile fire — as opposed to accidents, illnesses or suicide — at least one of every seven was killed not by the Taliban but by ostensibly friendly Afghan security forces.

A report by military and political behavioral scientist Jeffrey Bordin, commissioned by the Pentagon last year and now classified, concluded that “the rapidly growing fratricide-murder trend” of attacks by Afghan soldiers and police against U.S. and allied troops reflects “the ineffectiveness in our efforts in stabilizing Afghanistan, developing a legitimate and effective government, battling the insurgency [and] gaining the loyalty, respect and friendship of the Afghans.” 

These friendly-fire killings are not just isolated incidents, the report says, but a “continuing pattern” that is leading to a “crisis of trust” between allied and Afghan forces. Unless there is reform of “profoundly dysfunctional Afghan governmental systems and key leaders,” the report predicts, “any efforts in developing a legitimate, functional and trustworthy Afghan army and police force will continue to be futile.”  It should be noted that U.S. commanders in Afghanistan strongly disagree. They express confidence that the Afghan army is becoming a much more competent and professional fighting force.

Another question: Obama said we will establish no permanent bases in Afghanistan. But the agreement he signed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai gives the United States continuing use of bases that we built and intend to transfer nominally to Afghan control. What’s the difference?  The United States has agreed to support Afghanistan’s social and economic development and its security institutions through 2024. Does this sound like nation-building to you? Because that’s what it sounds like to me.

Obama and the military leaders need to get their heads out of the asses and end this idiocy NOW.  Chimperator Bush began this fools errand and Obama needs to tell the nation that we cannot accomplish the impossible in a nation where much of the population despises us - and all westerners.

Why Conservatives and Republicans Believe in Anti-Gay Pseudo-Science

I have written many times abut the bogus "research" of discredited frauds like Paul Cameron and time and time again we see "ex-gay" leaders fall off the wagon, if you will, yet conservatives and large percentages of Republicans (at least of the Christofascists variety) continue to believe the worse kinds of anti-gay propaganda that is churned out by hate groups like Family Research Council, the American Family Association, and Conservative Values Coalition to name but a few.  One cannot but wonder why are those in the far right so willing to believe disproved claims about gays.  Are they that ignorant and stupid, or are they merely believing what they want to believe because of their own screwed up psyches?  AlterNet has an article that looks at the question. Here are highlights:

On May 8, North Carolinians will vote on a constitutional amendment that defines a marriage between a man and a woman as the “only domestic legal union” the state will recognize -- thereby barring LGBT marriage equality. The amendment would also ban civil unions, and end domestic partner benefits, like prescription drug and health care coverage, for the partners and children of public employees. At its deepest level, this issue is about fairness for everyone under the law. But less mentioned is that it is also about science, and what’s factually true.

Many voters who go to the polls to support Amendment One will do so believing outright falsehoods about same-sex marriages and civil unions. In particular, they hold the belief that such partnerships are damaging to the health and well-being of the children raised in them. That is, after all, one of the chief justifications for the amendment.

According to the pro-Amendment One Vote for Marriage NC, for instance, “the overwhelming body of social science evidence establishes that children do best when raised by their married mother and father.”  .   .  .  .  “Overwhelming body of social science evidence”? “Documented social ills”? Is this really true? Are same sex marriages and civil unions bad for kids?

Well, no. Indeed, as I report in my new book The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science and Reality, the claim that the kids won’t be all right in same sex marriages or partnerships now rates up there with a number of other hoary old falsehoods about homosexuality: the assertion that people can “choose” whether to be gay; the notion that homosexuality is a type of disorder; and the wrong idea that it can be cured through “reparative” therapy. All of these claims are explicitly disavowed by the American Psychological Association (APA).

In a moment, I want to explore the underlying psychology behind how conservatives, especially religious ones, can believe such falsehoods. But first, let’s dismantle, on a substantive level, the idea that research shows that kids fare worse when raised by two parents who are of the same gender.
[T]he relevant science shows nothing of the kind. “Beliefs that lesbian and gay adults are not fit parents…have no empirical foundation,” concludes a recent publication from the organization. To the contrary, the association states, the “development, adjustment, and well-being of children with lesbian and gay parents do not differ markedly from that of children with heterosexual parents.”

So how can Christian conservatives possibly claim otherwise?  Well, one favored approach is literally citing the wrong studies. There is, after all, a vast amount of research on kids in heterosexual two parent families, and mostly these kids do quite well—certainly better than kids in single-parent families (for obvious reasons). Christian conservatives then cite these studies to argue that heterosexual families are best for kids, but there’s just one glaring problem. In the studies of heterosexual two-parent families where children fare well, the comparison group is families with one mother or one father—not two mothers or two fathers.

 But wait: Don’t Christian conservatives want to be factually right, and to believe what’s true about the world? And shouldn’t a proper reading of this research actually come as a relief to them, . . . ?

Christian conservatives utterly fail to get past their emotions, which powerfully bias their reasoning. Indeed, science doesn’t just demonstrate that the kids are all right in same-sex unions. It also shows how and why some people reason poorly in highly politicized cases like this one -- and, in the case of the anti-gay views of Christian conservatives, rely on their gut emotions to come up with wrong beliefs. Here’s how it works.

 When people are looking for evidence to support their deeply held views, the science suggests that people engage in “motivated reasoning.” Their deep emotional convictions guide the retrieval of self-supporting information that they then use to argue with, to prop themselves up. It isn’t about truth, it’s about feeling that you’re right -- righteous, even.

The average conservative, much more than the average liberal, is having visceral feelings of disgust towards same-sex marriage. And then, when these conservatives try to consciously reason about the matter, they seize on any information to support or justify their deep-seated and uncontrolled response -- which pushes them in the direction of believing and embracing information that appears to justify and ratify the emotional impulse.  And voila. Suddenly same-sex marriages and civil unions are bad for kids. How’s that for the power of human reason?

In the end, however, facts are facts -- and emotions and gut instincts are an utterly unreliable way of identifying them.  .  .   .  the latest research makes it more untenable than ever to base public policy on gut-driven misinformation.

In my view, the far right has nothing but contempt for objective reality and scientific truth.  They embrace whatever lies and bullshit that supports their preconceived beliefs and go on willingly embracing rather than have to rethink their prejudices.  What I find frightening is that our military is full of Christian conservatives.  Does this perhaps explain in part the nation's repeated entry into disastrous, winnable wars like Iraq and Afghanistan?  If far right military leaders follow the pattern described in the article, no wonder they keep claiming that the USA can "win" in Afghanistan. 

Thursday, May 03, 2012

More Thursday Male Beauty

Tennessee Governor Protects Vanderbilt University’s LGBT-Inclusive Nondiscrimination Policy

In a move that will no doubt have the knuckle dragging Bible beaters calling for his head, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam (R) has committed to vetoing the bill that threatens to cut off state funding for Vanderbilt University (my maternal grandfather was a Vanderbilt medical school alumni) because of its policy requiring all on-campus organizations to abide by the university’s non-discrimination statement, which includes sexual orientation protections. Like most top tier universities Vanderbilt realizes that anti-gay bigotry is not good for recruiting students or faculty members.  That concept, of course, is lost on the GOP controlled legislature that wants to move the state backward in time to the Middle Ages.  Think Progress looks at Haslam's eleventh hour development of a spine.  Here are highlights:

For the past few months, Vanderbilt University has faced strong pushback from Christian student groups over its policy requiring all on-campus organizations to abide by the university’s non-discrimination statement, which includes sexual orientation protections. The groups claim that by being forced to allow gay students to participate and run for officer positions, they themselves are being discriminated against for their faith. The university has stood by its policy, arguing that because all students pay fees, all students should have equal access to campus resources.

This week, the issue escalated as the Tennessee legislature passed a bill threatening to cut state funding to any university that does not allow its religious student clubs to discriminate according to their beliefs. Though he does not agree with Vanderbilt’s policy, Gov. Bill Haslam (R) has committed to vetoing the bill — his first veto in office — because he considers it government overreach:
HASLAM: It is counter-intuitive to make campus organizations open their membership and leadership positions to anyone and everyone, even when potential members philosophically disagree with the core values and beliefs of the organization. Although I disagree with Vanderbilt’s policy, as someone who strongly believes in limited government, I think it is inappropriate for government to mandate the policies of a private institution.
Despite the veto, the debate will surely rage on. A nation-wide group known as the Christian Legal Society (which also has a Vanderbilt chapter) took a similar fight at a public college all the way to the Supreme Court a few years ago and lost. In Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, the Court found that “all-comers” policies were viewpoint neutral, and thus are no more unfair to Christian groups than any other student groups.
This is yet another case of Christianists demanding special rights - i.e., the right to discriminate - not granted to others.  It's always about the wants and bigotry of the Christianists who believe that they should be free on any limits on their displays of bigotry.  Just like the way they think they are exempt from the Commandment that forbids lying and bearing false witness against others.

Irish Deputy Prime Minister Says Head of Irish Catholic Church Should Resign

UPDATED: The Irish Times reports that calls for Brady's resignation are spreading across the political spectrum.  If the man had any shame, he'd resign.  But since he's "prince of the Church" he thinks he's above reproach.  The Nazi Pope apparently holds the same views.

After seeing a continual stream of horrors exposed in the sex abuse trial in Philadelphia where at least two cardinals were aware of and actively covered up for sexual predator priest caring nothing about the endangerment of children and youths, now a new BBC report has disclosed new dirty, if you will, on  Cardinal Sean Brady (pictured at right), the highest ranking Catholic cleric in Ireland.  As seems to have been - and likely still is - the norm, parents were never warned that their children ere being abused and the police authorities were likewise never informed.  Thankfully, in Ireland - unlike here in the USA - senior members of government are not afraid to call out the morally bankrupt Church hierarchy.   Here are highlights from KGMI-TV (the Irish Times also has coverage):

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland's deputy prime minister said on Thursday he thought the head of the Irish Catholic Church should resign after a TV documentary reported the cleric had failed to warn parents their children were being sexually abused by a priest in 1975.

A BBC documentary broadcast on Tuesday said that Cardinal Sean Brady was given the names and addresses of children being abused by notorious pedophile Brendan Smyth during a Church investigation but had failed to act to ensure their safety.

"It is my own personal view that anybody who did not deal with the scale of the abuse that we have seen in this case should not hold a position of authority," Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore told parliament, when asked about Brady's response to the BBC program.

Gilmore described the revelations as "another horrific episode of failure by senior members of the Catholic Church to protect children", adding his voice to calls by groups representing victims of abuse for Brady to stand down.

Two of the victims whose identities were made known to Brady at the time were subjected to abuse long after the Church inquiry was completed and Smyth continued to abuse other young victims for more than 15 years afterwards.

Brady last year agreed to a legal settlement over his role in administering an oath of secrecy to one of the teenage victims during the 1975 investigation.  A claim the boy's father had been allowed to attend an interview at the time was untrue, the BBC documentary said. None of the parents' of other abuse victims named by the boy had been warned either, it said.

It is indeed unfortunate that American politicians lack the spine of Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister.  What's even worse is that national level Republicans are falling all over these selves to kiss the asses of the morally bankrupt U.S. Catholic bishops.  The bishops can fund and promote anti-gay jihads, but somehow they cannot clean their own filthy ranks.

Billy Graham and Neo-Nazi Group Endorse Amendment One

For many years Billy Graham has managed to maintain an apparently false image that he's not an extreme gay hating bigot.  Or at least he did so until today when he came out in support of North Carolina's heinous anti-gay Amendment One.  Highlighting the extent of Graham's bigotry was another announcement of support for Amendment One by Neo-Nazi and white supremacist site World-Wide White Pride.  One can only hope that Graham's legacy will become irrevocably associated with his actions today and that he will seen by future generations as no better than the segregationists of fifty years ago.  Here are highlights from the Charlotte Observer on Graham's belated coming out as a flaming gay hating bigot:

The Rev. Billy Graham urged North Carolina voters Wednesday to support an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage, a move that an observer said was highly unusual but another said was in keeping with the minister's moral beliefs.

His complete statement about Amendment One will be part of full-page ads slated to appear in 14 North Carolina newspapers throughout the weekend.  Graham's statement was issued by the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which is led by Graham's son, the Rev. Franklin Graham. Franklin Graham recorded a message last month in support of Amendment One, which is on the ballot in the election Tuesday.

William Martin, who wrote the authorized Graham biography "A Prophet With Honor," couldn't recall another effort by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association like the one the ministry plans in support of Amendment One.

Read more here:
"I am somewhat surprised that he would take that strong a stand," said Martin, professor emeritus of religion and public policy at Rice University. "In the past, I have heard him say with respect to homosexuality, there are greater sins. Franklin has been more outspoken about it, but it sounds as if this is Mr. Graham expressing his own will."

Read more here:
If this is truly Graham's view point - and not that of his far sleazier son, Franklin, then I believe he's buying himself a reserved seat in Hell, if Hell exists, where he will be amongst scores of the "godly Christina" crowd.  One also cannot help but wonder how many of the ranks of the poor and homeless could have been helped with the funds being used to pay for this 14 messages of bigotry.  Why is the phrase "modern day Pharisee" springing to mind?

I did mention another announcement of support for Amendment One which demonstrates the company in which Billy Graham and homophobes like him have yoked themselves.  Joe.My.God and Pam's House Blend both have coverage on the Neo-Nazi support Amendment One is garnering.  Here are Joe's thoughts on the issue:

Neo-Nazi and white supremacist site World-Wide White Pride today happily posted the report that North Carolina's Amendment One was actually written to prevent the Caucasian race from extinction. There's no apparent editorializing on their link-heavy post on this latest scandal, which since yesterday has moved into the mainstream media. But I think it's safe to call this a Nazi endorsement.

To recap, Amendment One is supported by child abusers, shotgun-toting creeps, racists, AND Nazis. All we need now is a serial killer for a royal fucking flush in Evil Poker.
Such is the company now kept by self-congratulatory Christianists and the professional Christian crowd.  WWJD?

Read more here:

Read more here:

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Quote of the Day: The GOP Elite and Gays

I am frequently chastised by some for being vehemently against today's Republican Party and some think I'm a Democrat because of it.  What I am is someone who wants logic and reason and some shred of compassion for the less fortunate to control how government policy is formulated.  That simply no longer happens in the GOP.  Worse yet, a Romney presidency would likely see things even get worse as Andrew Sullivan summarizes very well:

The gay-inclusive elements in the elites simply do not have the balls to tackle the religious right. And this is particularly true of Romney, as this case now proves. The Christianists gave Bush a pass on social issues because of his born-again Christianity. They trust Mormon Romney not an inch. And this week demonstrates without any doubt that Romney will therefore not be able to deviate from their wishes an iota. He has no room to maneuver. The notion that he could be a moderate on social issues in office is, alas, a pipe dream.

Do we really want policy being set by the Christianists?  I for one do not and those who still cling to the vision of a Republican Party that no longer exists need to wake up and face reality.

The GOP VP Hunt - Has McDonnell Disqualified

One has to suspect that Bob "Taliban Bob" "Governor Ultrasound" McDonnell may be regretting some of the extremist batshittery he's knowingly embraced in the past since it may be what thwarts his ambition to be Mitt Romney's VP nominee.  In a piece that weighs the pros and cons of various possible VP nominees, the Richmond Times-Dispatch describes McDonnell as follows: 

Bob McDonnell Governor of Virginia Pros: Leads key swing state with 13 electoral votes. State’s 5.6 percent jobless rate could bolster economic argument. Cons: Law requiring an ultrasound before an abortion could be a distraction; questions about graduate school thesis could resurface.

McDonnell's other dilemma is what to do with the anti-minority voter ID law that was passed by the GOP controlled General Assembly.  The Washington Post looks at McDonnell's quandary: sign the bill and please the Tea Party crowd and Christofascists or veto it and avoid looking even more extreme to general election voters:

FACED WITH VOTER ID legislation that would disenfranchise thousands of Virginians, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell is in a quandary. He can veto the bill and incur the wrath of fellow Republicans, or sign it and reinforce the GOP’s image of hostility toward young, poor and black voters.

Mr. McDonnell is all too aware that the bill, passed by Republican lawmakers despite his warning about legislative overreach, is gratuitous at best. That’s why he sent it back to the General Assembly with amendments that would eliminate its most obnoxious feature: a requirement that ballots cast by voters who lack identification be thrown out unless the voters make a separate trek to local electoral offices to prove their identity.

But the General Assembly restored that provision and sent the bill back to Mr. McDonnell, who now faces a decision: Does he want to be known as a partisan street brawler, or as a grown-up who governs with restraint?

[M]ost responsible Virginia Republican leaders acknowledge there is no evidence of systematic voting fraud in the commonwealth. The unavoidable conclusion is that the voter ID bill is a solution in search of a problem — the sort of government meddling that the GOP usually hates.

The real reason Republicans have pushed to change the system is that they hope to inconvenience, and thereby disenfranchise, the 12,000 or so Virginians who lacked IDs when they voted in 2008 — a group, comprised disproportionately of blacks, the poor and young voters, who tilted to the Democrats. 

Do I feel any sympathy for McDonnell?  Nope, none whatsoever.  He made this problem for himself.

Has Romney Stirred Storm Over Gay Aide?

Shamelessly pandering to those I deem to be Christofascists and appearing to be controlled by their puppet strings can have a serious negative impact on voters outside of the Kool-Aid drinking alternate universe.  With his less than titillating personality problems, repeated Etch A Sketch reincarnations, being perceived as the willing tool of the extreme right is not a plus in a general election.  Particularly with the GOP appearing increasingly anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-minority and outright racist.  While the worse demagogues of the far right may be rejoicing that Richard Grenell was driven to resign, they may not have the last laugh.  No matter what Grenell's many flaws may be, all that will be remembered is that he was driven off by the Christofascists and that Romney was too cowardly to stand up to them.  If that cowardice is so evident now, what would it be like if Romney were elected?  A piece in the New York Times looks at Romney's apparent self-inflicted wound.  Here are excerpts:

It was the biggest moment yet for Mitt Romney’s foreign policy team: a conference call last Thursday, dialed into by dozens of news outlets from around the globe, to dissect and denounce President’s Obama record on national security.

 But Richard Grenell, the political strategist who helped organize the call and was specifically hired to oversee such communications, was conspicuously absent, or so everyone thought.  It turned out he was at home in Los Angeles, listening in, but stone silent and seething. A few minutes earlier, a senior Romney aide had delivered an unexpected directive, according to several people involved in the call. 

“Ric,” said Alex Wong, a policy aide, “the campaign has requested that you not speak on this call.” Mr. Wong added, “It’s best to lay low for now.” For Mr. Grenell, the message was clear: he had become radioactive. 

It was the climax of an unexpectedly messy and public dispute over the role and reputation of Mr. Grenell, a foreign policy expert who is gay and known for his support of same-sex marriage, his testy relationship with the news media and his acerbic Twitter postings on everything from Rachel Maddow’s femininity to how Callista Gingrich “snaps on” her hair. 

[T]hose close to Mr. Grenell, known as Ric, insist that when he had sought forceful support from those who had entrusted him with a major role, the campaign seemed to be focused, instead, on quieting a political storm that could detract from Mr. Romney’s message and his appeal to a crucial constituency.

“It’s not that the campaign cared whether Ric Grenell was gay,” one Republican adviser said. “They believed this was a nonissue. But they didn’t want to confront the religious right.” Like many interviewed, this adviser insisted on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. 

[A]nother, more troubling, protest that was harder to ignore was taking shape among some Christian conservatives: Mr. Romney, who opposes same-sex marriage, had betrayed them by hiring a gay man and an outspoken supporter of the cause.  The day after Mr. Grenell was hired, Bryan Fischer, a Romney critic with the American Family Association, told nearly 1,400 followers on Twitter: “If personnel is policy, his message to the pro-family community: drop dead.” The next day, the conservative Daily Caller published an online column that summed up the anger of the Christian right, linking Mr. Grenell’s hiring to the appointment of gay judges to the New Jersey Supreme Court

But the final straw, for Mr. Grenell, was the conference call on April 26. After being told not to speak, he felt deeply undermined, worrying it would erode his credibility with journalists who had expected to hear from him, friends said.   .  .   .  .  The day after the call, complaints from the religious right picked up steam. In the National Review on April 27, Matthew J. Franck wrote: “Whatever fine record he compiled in the Bush administration, Grenell is more passionate about same-sex marriage than anything else.” 
Christopher Barron, a founder of GOProud, a gay Republican group in Washington. [said] “It is an unforced error on their part.” He added, “It doesn’t bode well for the Romney campaign going forward if they couldn’t stand up to the most outrageous attacks about him being gay.”

Jim Talent, a former senator from Missouri who is a campaign adviser, called the episode a loss for the Romney campaign. “People with the kind of expertise that Ric has don’t grow on tree,” he said. “It’s a real setback for us, I think.”

The thought that would be Romney appointees will have to apparently be first vetted through Bryan Fischer and similar extremist hate merchants ought to scare the Hell out of independents and moderates.   The GOP has made a pact with the Devil in the form of the Christian Right and I hope it bites them in the ass big time.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Wife Of Key Legislator Behind North Carolina’s Anti-Gay Amendment Claims It Would Protect "Caucasian Race"

I have contended for some time now that today's GOP is not only an anti-gay political part, but also a racist party.  The statements of Jodie Brunstetter, the wife of North Carolina state Sen. Peter Brunstetter, a principal sponsor of Amendment One certainly seem to support my analysis.  While being interviewed Ms. Brunstetter stated that one of the purposes of Amendment One was "because the Caucasian race is diminishing and we need to uh, reproduce.”The theory behind the batshitery is that if gays cannot marry, then white gays will marry women and produce Caucasian babies.  It's fu*ked up to say the least, but welcome to today's GOP.  Here are highlights (a video clip is above)  from Think Progress:

The wife of a prominent North Carolina state senator and supporter of Amendment 1 — a proposed ballot initiative that would outlaw same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships in the state — claimed earlier this week that her husband advocated for the measure to protect the “Caucasian” race.

Jodie Brunstetter, the wife of North Carolina state Sen. Peter Brunstetter, made the remarks “outside the early voting site at the Forsyth County Government Center in downtown Winston-Salem” while speaking to voters, . . . .

Nance heard about Jodie’s comments from an African-American poll worker who allegedly overheard Brunstetter say, “The reason my husband wrote Amendment 1 was because the Caucasian race is diminishing and we need to uh, reproduce.”  Asked to clarify her statement, Brunstetter reluctantly confirmed that she did in fact use the phrase “Caucasian”:
BRUNSTETTER: [P]eople who founded the United states wrote a Constitution and it has been what has preserved this society. And we were just talking about lots of different things which the gentleman was turning around.
NANCE: You didn’t tell that one lady that it was to preserve the Caucasian race, because they were becoming a minority? That’s what an old lady down the block told us.
NANCE: You didn’t say that? She’s lying?
BRUNSTETTER: No. It’s just that same sex marriages are not having children. [...]
NANCE: You didn’t say anything about Caucasians?
BRUNSTETTER: I probably said the word.
Amendment 1, which goes to a vote on May 8, has already divided the African American community between leaders who argue that the Bible prohibits homosexual behavior and those who maintain that religious interpretations should not influence civil laws. The comments by Mrs. Brunstetter will likely interject more racial division into the debate.

Boehner and House Republicans Continue Their Anti-Gay Jihad

With all of the major problems facing America, one would think that Speaker of the House John Boehner and the members of the House GOP would have better things to occupy their time than continuing an anti-gay jihad that seeks to keep LGBT Americans second class citizens.  But that would be a wrong assumption.  Bashing LGBT citizens and denying all legal recognition to our committed relationships seems to trump all else.  Or at least everything other than slashing programs to the poor, the elderly and the unemployed while seeking huge tax cuts for the wealthy.  But I digress.  As MetroWeekly and a number of other news outlets are reporting, House Speaker John Boehner and Republicans in the form of The House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group have filed a motion to intervene in another case challenging DOMA.  First, these highlights from MetroWeekly:

The House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group today sought to intervene, as expected, in the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act and related laws brought by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network on behalf of LGB servicemembers and veterans and their spouses. The intervention in McLaughlin v. United States comes after the Department of Justice announced in February that it would not be defending Section 3 of DOMA or the related laws -- found in the veterans benefits section of the U.S. Code -- in the lawsuit.

The move is similar to BLAG's action in a similar case brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Cooper-Harris v. United States, in which equal veterans benefits are being sought. BLAG, which is controlled by the House Republican leadership, has intervened in several DOMA challenges to defend the 1996 law after the Obama administration stopped defending the federal definition of marriage in February 2011, when Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder concluded the law was unconstitutional.

Referencing a visit paid to the speaker's office by Chief Warrant Officer (CW2) Charlie Morgan, a member of the New Hampshire National Guard and a plaintiff in the SLDN lawsuit who also is battling incurable stage IV breast cancer, Sarvis said, "The Speaker has turned a deaf ear to the urgent pleas of CW2 Charlie Morgan and countless families like hers, who are living with the day-to-day realities of a military that has been forced to create two classes of service members." 

Other benefits that the Republicans are seeking to deny to LGBT servicemembers and their spouces are availability of military identification cards, access to bases, recreational programs, spousal support groups and burial rights at national cemeteries.  In the eyes of the GOP, LGBT servicemembers are grudgingly good enough to risk their lives for the country, but they and their spouses aren't good enough to be full citizens or to receive the benefits of other couples in similar circumstances.

God On Small Minded Bigots

Click image to enlarge.

A most likely distant gay cousin of mine in South Carolina shared this on Facebook and it sums up what I hope anti-gay bigots and professional Christians discover on Judgment Day, if there is one.  It would be true Divine justice.

Quote of the Day- Andrew Sullivan on Gay Republicans

Personally, I cannot comprehend how any self-respecting LGBT individual can be a member of a political party that as an increasingly prominent part of its platform holds nothing but utter contempt for them.  Indeed, largely wishes that gays would cease to exist all together.  Yet some, like Richard Grenell, seem to be gluttons for punishment and/or masochists and as a result remain in the gay-hating GOP.  Andrew Sullivan sums up what these individuals need to recognize about today's GOP:

Yes, Grenell was prepared to work for an administration opposed to marriage equality even when he supported it passionately .  .  .  .  . He was prepared to be ostracized by many in his own community for being a Republican, taking brickbats from the gay liberal establishment, and throwing many punches back. His neoconservatism is, so far as I can tell, completely sincere, and he has a huge amount of experience as a spokesman.

It's sometimes hard to explain to outsiders what level of principle is required to withstand the personal cost of being an out gay Republican. I've only ever been a gay conservative (never a Republican), and back in the 1990s, it was brutal living in the gay world and challenging liberal assumptions. I cannot imagine the social isolation of Grenell in Los Angeles today, doing what he did.

And his reward for such loyalty, sincerity and pugnacity? Vilification.

I mean: what do Republicans call a gay man with neoconservative passion, a committed relationship and personal courage?   A faggot.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Newt Gingrich Ends His Campaign

Yesterday, thrice married serial adulterer Newt Gingrich ended his ill advised campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.  But for Gingrich's overpowering ego and tempestuous love affair with himself, he would likely never have entered into the contest.  The man simply has too much baggage and is greatly disliked by those who served with him in Congress.  From my perspective, it's a case of good riddance, although it did provide an opportunity show the hypocrisy of "family values" conservatives who supported a man who cares nothing about the "sanctity of marriage."  His campaign also did much to expose the lunacy of today's GOP.  Here are highlights from the Washington Post on Gingrich's exit:

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) on Tuesday preempted his own campaign suspension, announcing in a video to supporters that he will pull out of the presidential race on Wednesday.

“I want to take this opportunity to give you an insider advance notice that on Wednesday, I’ll be officially suspending the campaign as part of a press event,” Gingrich says in the pre-announcement announcement. “I wanted you to know first because your help was vital.”  Gingrich is expected to formally end his campaign at an event in Northern Virginia.

In his farewell video, Gingrich tells supporters reelecting the president “would be a genuine disaster.”  “All of us have an obligation, I think, to do everything we can to defeat Barack Obama,”he says.  And he pledges that both he and his wife, Callista, will be “talking, campaigning, making speeches – doing everything we can to help defeat Barack Obama.”

One person Gingrich doesn’t mention in the video is Romney. Gingrich, like former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who also pulled out of his GOP primary campaign, has yet to formally pledge his support to Obama’s challenger.

If the nation is lucky, Gingrich will fade into the sunset and remain only a legend in his own mind.

Dan Savage's Remarks on the Bible: The Bullies Can Dish It Out, But Can't Take It

Watching the tempest over Dan Savage's recent remarks on the Bible and simple minded Christians underscores the Christianists' belief that they can say any kind of horrible and demeaning thing about gays - e.g., we are disease ridden, AIDS is God's punishment, we threaten civilization, we're all would be pedophiles, etc., etc. - and that's just fine.  The nasty comment I received and highlighted in a post the other day is but one example of the bile the Christianists put out literally daily.  But God forbid that they get some of their own tactics and types of language thrown back at them.  Then suddenly they're wailing and gnashing their teeth about being bullied.  Last time I looked, we haven't seen any Christian teens committing suicide on a weekly or almost daily basis because of anti-Christian bullying.  The hypocrisy and disingenuousness of the right is indeed breath taking.  And that was the point of Savage's comments: the unrelenting hypocrisy of the Christianists who have made Christianity into something hideous.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the crocodile tears of the "godly Christian" set:

In general, it is a bad idea to insult people’s appearance, religious texts, or children.

I only mention this because Dan Savage, during an April 12conference on journalism, managed to refer to parts of the Bible in no uncertain terms. “We’ll just talk about the Bible for a second,” Savage said. “People often point out that they can’t help it — they can’t help with the anti-gay bullying, because it says right there in Leviticus, it says right there in Timothy, it says right there in Romans, that being gay is wrong... We can learn to ignore the bull[excrement] in the Bible about gay people. The same way, the same way we have learned to ignore the [redacted] in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore [redacted] in the Bible about all sorts of things.”

It’s causing a minor firestorm. Conservative commentators are accusing Savage of bullying. Several students walked out, and he called their response “pansy-[patooted].” He has since apologized for that — but not for the first few Biblical turdblossoms.  

The indignation machine these days is remarkably well-oiled. As John Shore noted: “I, for one, have no idea what the world has come to, when a person who has made his career out of speaking, in the most unadorned language possible, directly to great numbers of young people about some of the most important issues in their lives, dares to speak in unadorned language directly to a great number of young people about one of the most important issues in American life today.”

If people earnestly believe that they are justified in treating you badly, if they object to your very existence on what seem to them to be moral grounds, you are justified in calling them out on it. Sometimes, you can go so far as to rename them. If someone tells you that you will burn in Hell for all eternity, you can turn around and say unprintable things about his religious text. 

 Savage’s circle has been expanding for a reason. In a perverse way, if he’s in a position to make other people feel bullied, that’s a sign of progress. If only we'd come far enough he didn’t have to use that position to do so.

It is long past time that the Christianists cease getting special deference.   They do simply do not deserve the special rights they continually demand - even as they bully and abuse others.