Saturday, September 07, 2013

New York City Weekend - Day Two

After lunch yesterday in the Theater District, we ventured down to the West Village and visited some consignment shops and got so great deals on high end designer clothes.  We made it back to my brother's apartment in time to clean up and head out for dinner and then see the musical, Motown.  Motown was a great show and for those like myself who lived through the 25 year period of time covered, the music was a remembrances of my teen years, as well as a reminder of some of the nation's turbulent history and the segregation and racism that was so predominant across the South.

After the show we checked out several gay bars before ending up at XL, a dance club on 42nd Street near 10th Avenue.  Today we are going to a matinee showing of Kinky Boots and will do dinner at a "Mediterranean meets Middle East” restaurant on Mulberry Street with my niece who is very involved in the restaurant/food scene in the City.  Odds are we will end up at XL again tonight.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Inside the Nazi Mind - Parallels With the Christofascist Mind?

This blog has frequently noted that many of the anti-gay Christofascist organizations have modeled their anti-gay propaganda on that of the Nazi propaganda campaign against Europe's Jews.  Among the common threads are that gays/Jews are diseased, the gays/Jews are a threat to children, and that gays/Jews seek to undermine Christian society.  Likewise, gays are depicted as a small, powerful minority that weld undue influence - e.g., "the powerful homosexual lobby."  A piece in The Daily Beast looks at some of the findings of American psychologists and psychiatrists who interviewed the 24 of the highest-ranking Nazis then in captivity at Nuremberg.   Among the most chilling findings was the complete lack of any sense of personal responsibility for the mass murder and denigration of other humans.   What strikes me is the parallels with today's Chritofascists - e.g., Tony Perkins, Maggie Gallagher, Bryan Fischer, the list goes on - and the Russian regime that seemingly feel that they are "doing the right thing" and/or "following orders" be they from the Bible or the Russian legislature.  Here are highlights from the piece:

Why do men commit evil? Were the kommandants who ran the Nazi death camps psychopaths? Did they have subnormal intelligence? Were they just ordinary men who made appalling decisions?

These were also the questions that a team of American psychologists and psychiatrists were directed to answer during the Nuremberg Trials that opened on November 20, 1945, six months after the war’s end.

Charges of crimes against humanity were read out against 24 of the highest-ranking Nazis then in captivity, including Ernst Kaltenbrunner, chief of the Reich Security Main Office and the highest-ranking SS officer after Himmler’s death.

With so many senior Nazis held in one place at the same time, the Americans instructed a panel of psychologists to conduct exten­sive interviews and tests with the defendants. Such horrific crimes were committed surely by damaged men, men different in some fundamental way from the rest of humanity.

Among the defendants examined was Rudolf Höss, the Kommandant of Auschwitz. Unlike the others held in Nuremberg, Höss had been intimately involved in the design and day-to-day operations of the extermination camps. 

The American asked how it was possible to kill so many people. “Technically,” answered Höss, “that wasn’t so hard—it would not have been hard to exterminate even greater numbers.” Gilbert then pressed him for an emotional response, but Höss continued in a similar tone: “At the time there were no consequences to consider. It didn’t occur to me that I would be held responsible. You see, in Germany it was understood that if something went wrong, then the man who gave the orders was responsible.” Gilbert started to ask, “But what about the human—” before Höss interrupted, “That just didn’t enter into it.” After a few more questions, Höss said, “I suppose you want to know in this way if my thought and habits are normal.” “Well, what do you think?” Gilbert asked. “I am entirely normal,” said Höss. “Even while I was doing the extermination work, I led a normal family life.”
Rudolf Höss replied: “I feel less nervous now than I did.” He was then asked if he felt upset over what he had done in Auschwitz. “I thought I was doing the right thing,” said Höss. “I was obeying orders, and now, of course, I see that it was unnecessary and wrong. But I don’t know what you mean by being upset about these things because I didn’t personally murder anybody. I was just the director of the extermination program at Auschwitz. It was Hitler who ordered it through Himmler and it was Eichmann who gave me the orders regarding transports.”

When Goldensohn asked if he was haunted by nightmares—by images of the executions, gas chambers, or burning corpses—Höss replied: “No, I have no such fantasies.”

The conclusion of the psychologists and psychiatrists at Nuremberg was clear: they both decided that though Rudolf Höss was intelligent, he was mentally ill: a psychopath, psychotic, amoral, lacking empathy.
But Rudolf flatly denied this to be the case. He declared himself to be normal.  He regretted, at most, doing something unnecessary.  Overseeing the murder of over a million people had left him unhaunted by “fantasies.”
The impression of the mental health professionals was also contradicted by two of the intelligence officers who interrogated Rudolf Höss.

To paraphrase Hannah Arendt—as portrayed in the recently released movie of the same name—the Nazi war criminal’s actions stemmed from her well-known phrase “banality of evil,” not as a result of mental illness but as a result of a lack of thinking. Their greatest error was delegating the process of thinking and decision-making to their higher ups. In Rudolf Höss’s case, this would have been his superiors, particularly Heinrich Himmler.

To many this conclusion is troubling, for it suggests that if everyday, “normal,” sane men and women are capable of evil, then the atrocities perpetrated during the Holocaust and other genocides could be repeated today and into the future.
Yet, this is exactly the lesson we must learn from the war criminals at Nuremberg. We must be ever wary of those who do not take responsibility for their actions.
Note the reference to "not thinking."  Nothing is more disturbing to the Christofascist than having to think or rebut objective reality which demonstrates that their "deeply held beliefs" are false and which would require them to accept responsibility for the harm done to others.  Are the Christofascists as bad as the Nazi regime?  No - or at least most are not.  But the same frightening refusal to think and mindless inclination to "follow orders" are certainly a part of the Christofascist make up.  Or, so I believe.


Pat Robertson Threatens Legal Action Against Filmmakers Exposing Charity Scam

Hampton Roads' own mega local embarrassment, Pat Robertson is making news again.  This time, however, it's not because of his latest insane batshit crazy remarks but instead because his is threatening film makers who did an expose on Robertson's alleged charity, Operation Blessing, that would indicate that the charity has skimmed off large amounts of money and diverted the funds to Robertson's diamond mining operations.  In my opinion, the only god Robertson has ever really worshiped is money.  The trappings of religiosity have in my view always merely served as a means Robertson uses to fleece the ignorant and gullible.  The Guardian looks at the film and Robertson's reported lies misrepresentations.  Here are excerpts:

One of the stranger sights of the refugee crisis that followed the 1994 Rwandan genocide was of stretcher-bearers rushing the dying to medical tents, with men running alongside reciting Bible verses to the withering patients.

The bulk of the thousands of doctors and nurses struggling to save lives – as about 40,000 people died of cholera – were volunteers for the international medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The Bible readers were hired by the American televangelist and former religious right presidential candidate, Pat Robertson, and his aid organisation, Operation Blessing International.

But on Robertson's US television station, the Christian Broadcasting Network, that reality was reversed, as he raised millions of dollars from loyal followers by claiming Operation Blessing was at the forefront of the international response to the biggest refugee crisis of the decade. It's a claim he continues to make, even though an official investigation into Robertson's operation in Virginia accused him of "fraudulent and deceptive" claims when he was running an almost non-existent aid operation.

"We brought the largest contingent of medicine into Goma in Zaire, at least the first and the largest," Robertson said as recently as last year on his TV station.

Now a new documentary lays bare the extent of the misrepresentations of Operation Blessing's activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire, that it says continue to this day.
Mission Congo, by David Turner and Lara Zizic, opens at the Toronto film festival on Friday. It describes how claims about the scale of aid to Rwandan refugees were among a number of exaggerated or false assertions about the activities of Operation Blessing which pulls in hundreds of millions of dollars a year in donations, much of it through Robertson's televangelism. They include characterising a failed large-scale farming project as a huge success, and claims about providing schools and other infrastructure.

But some of the most damaging criticism of Robertson comes from former aid workers at Operation Blessing, who describe how mercy flights to save refugees were diverted hundreds of miles from the crisis to deliver equipment to a diamond mining concession run by the televangelist.

Robertson claimed that Operation Blessing sent plane-loads of doctors. . . . . But the film was of MSF medical staff at work. Operation Blessing had just one tent and a total of seven doctors. MSF officials who worked in Goma told the documentary-makers that they had no recollection of even seeing Operation Blessing – let alone working with it.

The documentary describes how dredges, used to suck up diamonds from river beds, were delivered hundreds of miles from the crisis in Goma to a private commercial firm, African Development Company, registered in Bermuda and wholly owned by Robertson. ADC held a mining concession near the town of Kamonia on the far side of the country.

"Mission after mission was always just getting eight-inch dredgers, six-inch dredgers … and food supplies, quads, jeeps, out to the diamond dredging operation outside of Kamonia," Hinkle told the film-makers.
Right Wing Watch looks at Robertson's spittle flecked threats of legal action against the filmmakers. Here are highlights:

Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network is already weighing legal action against two filmmakers over their documentary depicting the televangelist’s egregious misrepresentations of the activities of his charity, Operation Blessing.

 An Operation Blessing spokesman told The Virginian-Pilot that they are “considering legal action” against Lara Zizic and David Turner, whose film “Mission Congo” will hold its premier at the Toronto International Film Festival, over the film’s supposed “false and defamatory” content.

CBN has a history of going after Robertson’s critics; for example, they recently embarked on an unsuccessful push to cover up a video of Robertson — first posted here on Right Wing Watch —arguing that gay men wear special rings that they use to infect random people they meet with HIV/AIDS.

Robertson should remember that truth is an absolute defense to claims of libel and slander.  The last thing he should want is for the filmmakers prove the truth of their allegations in a court of law.  Moreover, if litigation ensues, the defendants could use discovery to force Robertson to turn over documents and information.  


George W. Bush's Poisonous Legacy

For long time readers it is no secret that I despise George W. Bush whom I refer to often as the "Chimperator."  Bush is an incurious man who lead America into a disastrous war in Iraq based on lies.  He, of course, was aided and abetted by the even fouler Dick "Emperor Palpatine" Cheney.  This loathsome duo then went on to authorize wars crimes and deliberate and blatant violations of the Geneva Conventions.  And to date, neither man has been held accountable for these crimes.  So now, Barack Obama is faced with a problem in trying to urge military action in Syria.  How can America be declaring moral outrage over the use of chemical weapons that reportedly killed 1400 people, when the men who took America on a fool's errand that cost thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives remain unpunished?  A piece in the New York Times looks at this continued toxic legacy.  Here are highlights:

He’s there in every corner of Congress where a microphone fronts a politician, there in Russia and the British Parliament and the Vatican. You may think George W. Bush is at home in his bathtub, painting pictures of his toenails, but in fact he’s the biggest presence in the debate over what to do in Syria.

His legacy is paralysis, hypocrisy and uncertainty practiced in varying degrees by those who want to learn from history and those who deny it. Let’s grant some validity to the waffling, though none of it is coming from the architects of the worst global fiasco in a generation.

Time should not soften what President George W. Bush, and his apologists, did in an eight-year war costing the United States more than a trillion dollars, 4,400 American soldiers dead and the displacement of two million Iraqis. The years should not gauze over how the world was conned into an awful conflict. History should hold him accountable for the current muddy debate over what to do in the face of a state-sanctioned mass killer.

The isolationists in the Republican Party are a direct result of the Bush foreign policy. A war-weary public that can turn an eye from children being gassed — or express doubt that it happened — is another poisoned fruit of the Bush years. And for the nearly 200 members of both houses of Congress who voted on the Iraq war in 2002 and are still in office and facing a vote this month, Bush shadows them like Scrooge’s ghost.

In reading “Lawrence in Arabia,” Scott Anderson’s terrific new biography of one outsider who truly understood the tribal and religious conflicts of a region that continues to rile the world, you’re struck by how a big blunder can have a titanic domino effect. The consequences of World War I, which started 100 years ago next year, are with us still — particularly the spectacularly bad decisions made by European powers in drawing artificial boundaries in the Mideast. Syria and Iraq are prime examples.

Until the Syrian crises came to a head, we had yet to see just how much the Bush fiasco in Iraq would sway world opinion. We know now that his war will haunt the globe for decades to come.
[W]hen the main cheerleaders for the last war talk about what to do now, they should be relegated to a rubber room reserved for Bernie Madoff discussing financial ethics or Alex Rodriguez on cheating in baseball.

Rumsfeld has been all over the airwaves with fussy distinctions about this war and his, faulting Obama for going to Congress for approval to strike. Like the man he served in office, he shows not a hint of regret or evidence that he’s learned a thing.

Liz Cheney, in a feckless run in Wyoming for the Senate highlighted by a sellout of her own lesbian sister’s right to marry, says she would vote against the resolution to use force in Syria. She’s made a career, such as it is, backing her father’s legacy of waterboarding, nation invading and pillorying supporters of diplomacy before war. 

And Senator Marco Rubio, robust defender of the Iraq war, has just cast a no vote on taking action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He did this for one reason: to fend off the Bush-spawned neo-isolationists who will play a big role in the 2016 presidential nomination.

There are people on the public stage who have genuinely agonized over lessons of the Bush disaster. They say, with some conviction, that they will never be fooled again.

Having set in motion a doctrine that touches all corners of the earth and influences every leader with a say in how to approach tyrants who slaughter innocents, Bush retreats to his bathtub to paint. 

Let's be clear.  Until Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are tried and punished for war crimes, America truly has little standing to take action in Syria.  Yes, what Assad has done is horrific.  But so was what Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld did.  They still have far more blood on their hands. And they have received no punishment whatsoever.

Dead Iraqi child

Friday, September 06, 2013

New York City Weekend - Day One

As is our custom, the boyfriend and I have fled Hampton and the Hampton Bay Days craziness and are spending a long weekend in New York City.  In the past we have stayed in the West Village at a friend's apartment.  This year, we are staying in Midtown at my brother's apartment - his job brings him to the City so often that he got an apartment rather than paying for hotel accommodations.  After arranging a house sitter/dog sitter for the house in Hampton, we flew up last evening.  Last night we had drinks with my niece who coincidentally stopped by to drop things off for my brother who is at the family lake house in the Adirondacks.  Among today's activities will be dinner with other friends up from Virginia and seeing the show "Motown."

Posting may be more limited as a result of the travel and being out and about.  If any New York City area readers would like to drop a note and perhaps join us for a drink somewhere, feel free to do so.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Syria: A War That The Pentagon and Americans Do Not Want

Despite the drumbeat of the Obama administration and some Congressional leaders, a significant majority of Americans want nothing to do with another war in the Middle East.   We have heard the arguments all before and the result was that a gullible public and lazy mainstream media allowed America to plunge into the disaster of the Iraq War.   Some call this public reaction the "Iraq Syndrome"  as if it is some phobia to be overcome.  Other - rightly in my view - call this aversion to a new war common sense and a case of learning from past mistakes.   Andrew Sullivan cites a piece in the American Conservative that makes this latter argument.  Here are highlights:

Larison dismisses the argument that anti-interventionists are suffering from “Iraq Syndrome”:
[T]his is becoming a common way to describe the absolutely justifiable and sane reaction of the public and even many in Washington to the disaster of the Iraq war. Interventionists call this a syndrome because it is supposed to be seen as an affliction or something from which Americans need to recover, as if there were something unhealthy or harmful in becoming extremely wary of waging wars of choice in countries that we don’t understand very well for dubious and often unobtainable goals. On the contrary, the existence of this so-called “syndrome” is proof that the public is very sensibly recoiling from the repeated misjudgments and mistakes of their political leaders.

Most Americans are firmly against making yet another major foreign policy error, and what they keep hearing from Washington and from much of the media is that they are suffering from some kind of malady that needs to be cured with another war.
This truly is becoming a battle between the Washington war-machine and the people it is supposed to protect. And yes, Iraq is relevant. Of course it is relevant. And no, as Daniel argues, this is not a syndrome. It is not a syndrome to look twice before crossing the street, when you have been run over by a truck twice in the last decade. In any case, the parallels are so close as to be almost absurd. The president is trying to get support for a military campaign against a Baathist leader in a murderously divided Middle Eastern country in order to prevent the use of WMDs and to send a message to Iran. I mean: is there any more obvious analogy? Now I know the president has ruled out “boots on the ground”. But there are already boots on the ground, in a covert war the war-machine has already launched.

But it is not just the American public that opposes another intervention disaster.  An op-ed in the Washington Post authored by a retired Army major general and former commandant of the U.S. Army War College makes the case that the Pentagon for once doesn't want this war either.  Here are some highlights:

The tapes tell the tale. Go back and look at images of our nation’s most senior soldier, Gen. Martin Dempsey, and his body language during Tuesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on Syria. It’s pretty obvious that Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, doesn’t want this war.

 Dempsey’s unspoken words reflect the opinions of most serving military leaders. . . . . After personal exchanges with dozens of active and retired soldiers in recent days, I feel confident that what follows represents the overwhelming opinion of serving professionals who have been intimate witnesses to the unfolding events that will lead the United States into its next war.

They are embarrassed to be associated with the amateurism of the Obama administration’s attempts to craft a plan that makes strategic sense. None of the White House staff has any experience in war or understands it. So far, at least, this path to war violates every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objective.

They are repelled by the hypocrisy of a media blitz that warns against the return of Hitlerism but privately acknowledges that the motive for risking American lives is our “responsibility to protect” the world’s innocents. Prospective U.S. action in Syria is not about threats to American security.
They are outraged by the fact that what may happen is an act of war and a willingness to risk American lives to make up for a slip of the tongue about “red lines.” These acts would be for retribution and to restore the reputation of a president. Our serving professionals make the point that killing more Syrians won’t deter Iranian resolve to confront us. The Iranians have already gotten the message. 

They are tired of wannabe soldiers who remain enamored of the lure of bloodless machine warfare. “Look,” one told me, “if you want to end this decisively, send in the troops and let them defeat the Syrian army. If the nation doesn’t think Syria is worth serious commitment, then leave them alone.” But they also warn that Syria is not Libya or Serbia. Perhaps the United States has become too used to fighting third-rate armies. As the Israelis learned in 1973, the Syrians are tough and mean-spirited killers with nothing to lose. 

[T]oday’s soldiers know war and resent civilian policymakers who want the military to fight a war that neither they nor their loved ones will experience firsthand. 

Richmond Times Dispatch Slams Cuccinelli on Sodomy Law Obsession

Like Del. Bob Marshall, Ken Cuccinelli is obsessed with sex.  Gay sex and non-missionary position sex.  Hence their love for Virginia's unconstitutional "crimes against nature" statute a/k/a sodomy statute which has historically been used to prosecute gays and target them for felony charges rather than the usual misdemeanor charges that solicitation and prostitution carry.   Rather than being honest about his motivations, Cuccinelli has disingenuously claimed that the sodomy law is needed to stop pedophiles.  As a previous post laid out in detail, there are already a plethora of statutes that can be utilized for this alleged purpose.  Now, even the conservative Richmond Times Dispatch seems to have had enough of Cuccinelli's sodomy obsession and slams him in a main page editorial.  Here are excerpts:

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has bailed out of potential litigation over a new state education law.

This represents an abrupt departure from the attorney general’s defense of Virginia’s crimes-against-nature law. A full decade ago, the U.S. Supreme Court cut the legs out from under that law when it struck down a Texas law against sodomy. This spring the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals declared the Virginia law unconstitutional as well, in a case that involved a 47-year-old man soliciting (but not actually receiving) oral sex from a 17-year-old female.

Virginia’s age of consent is 15. Nevertheless, the state pursued the case against the man, arguing that he violated the crimes-against-nature statute. The 4th Circuit threw out his conviction, finding that Virginia’s sodomy law “facially violates the Due Process Clause of the First Amendment” – and, moreover, that the defendant “solicited an underage female to commit an act that is not, at the moment, a crime in Virginia.”

Nevertheless, Cuccinelli continues, Javert-like, to argue for the sodomy law – and has taken his appeal to the Supreme Court. He even asked the high court to stay the 4th Circuit’s ruling. Chief Justice John Roberts said no.

In the sodomy case, the AG plows mulishly ahead in the face of repeated judicial rebuffs. Yet in the schools case, he is refusing to defend a new statute against lawsuits that have not yet even been filed. The two cases present quite a contrast – and a highly unflattering one at that.
My personal view is that Cuccinelli is a self-loathing closeted gay man - even fathering 7 children couldn't make him straight - and he is obsessed with maintaining laws that restrain normal, mentally healthy gays from leading lives with the same equal rights of other citizens.   Cuccinelli, in short is mentally ill.

McDonnell Flips Bob Marshall the Bird: Gays in National Guard Will Receive Benefits

Perhaps he is seeking to improve what's left of his image or perhaps he no longer cares what the far right Christofascist elements of the Virginia GOP base think, but whatever the reason, Governor Bob McDonnell is not going to try to deny spousal benefits to gays in the Virginia National Guard.  Not surprisingly, gay-hater extraordinaire, Del. Bob Marshall is livid.  One can only wish the man would get a life and stop obsessing about what goes on in other people's bedrooms.  I can only wonder what deep psychological problems - or secret sexual insecurities - plague Mr. Marshall.  It is individuals like Marshall who harm Virginia's image and make the state less economically competitive. The Virginian Pilot looks at McDonnell's decision to flip Marshall "the bird" on this issue.  Here are highlights:

Legally married same-sex partners of Virginia National Guard members will be eligible for the same federal benefits as opposite-sex married couples, despite the objection of at least one lawmaker.

The Guard is complying with Defense Department policy on extending benefits to qualified spouses of gay service members, a move that has Gov. Bob McDonnell’s blessing.

And that’s left Del. Bob Marshall fuming.

The conservative Republican from Prince William County this week challenged McDonnell to deny those benefits to Guard members’ same-sex partners on the basis of Virginia’s gay-marriage ban. He urged the governor to follow the examples of states such as Texas, where the Guard commander decided that federal guidelines conflict with state law.

Through a spokesman, McDonnell responded: “The Virginia National Guard will adhere to all Department of Defense policies and guidelines.”

By law, McDonnell is commander-in-chief of the Guard.

Marshall expressed dismay about the governor’s position in an email exchange Thursday, but said he was still gathering his thoughts.

Providing benefits to gay military members’ spouses is an outgrowth of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a piece of the Defense of Marriage Act that barred same-sex couples from getting benefits.

The court’s decision paves the way for qualified gay couples to enjoy the same federal health, tax and other benefits that their heterosexual counterparts have.

Another marriage benefit Marshall wants Virginia to stand against is an Internal Revenue Service policy to allow some same-sex couples to file returns like other married taxpayers. In his letter to the governor, he asked “that Virginia not assist the IRS in any way in extending tax benefits to those same sex couples who have chosen to go to another state to ‘marry.’ ”

But like his Guard request, that one doesn’t appear to have McDonnell’s support.

“State tax officials will continue to work in partnership with their federal counterparts,” a spokesman for the governor said Thursday.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Russian Lawmaker Proposes Bill to Take Children Away from Gay Parents

ZhuravlevWhat was done to the Jews in Hitler's Germany did not happen all at once.  Instead there was a steady but ominous campaign of whittling away the rights of Germany's Jews and ultimately their citizenship.  After that, the stage was set for the Nazi's "Final Solution" to the "Jewish Problem."  We seem to be seeing the beginnings of a similar campaign against gays in Russia spearheaded by Vladimir Putin and reactionary lawmakers seeking to win points with extremists in the Russian Orthodox Church, a church that historically supported pogroms against Jews and supported autocrats over the rights of the populace.  With Russia's anti-gay propaganda laws now on the books and increasing violence against gays, a Russian lawmaker (shown at right) has introduced legislation that would take the next step toward eliminating gays: children could be taken from their parents if the parents are gay or lesbian.  One would think in this day and age and in a supposedly modern nation such things could not happen.  Many foolishly believed the same thing in 1930's Germany.  And behind it all are two things: religious based bigotry and opportunistic, extremist politicians.  It's a deadly combination.  Here are details from Towelroad:

Gay parents would lose custody of their children under the terms of a new bill proposed in Russia, the AP reports:

The draft bill, published on parliament’s website on Thursday, would make the “fact of nontraditional sexual orientation” a basis for denying custody. Other grounds include alcoholism, drug use, and abuse...Alexei Zhuravlev (pictured), the author of the bill, referred to the earlier law and said that homosexual “propaganda” had to be banned not only in the public space “but also in the family.”

A Russian report says that Zhuravlev's bill hopes to amend Article 69 (Termination of Parental Rights) of the Family Code with a measure that says that having gay parents can do "great harm" to a child's mind.

Said Zhuravlev: "The bill is for those whose families have broken up due to non-traditional contacts of one of the spouses, or parents who do not hide sexual relations with persons of the same sex."

Zhuravlev went on to tell the paper that if a spouse suspects her husband is a practicing homosexual, "We have a court and the Investigative Committee..."

Attorneys expressed skepticism, noting that it is difficult to prove certain relationships and the bill would be used speculatively and create many fraudulent and provocative custody lawsuits.

In the documents submitted with the bill, Zhuravlev referred to the flawed, misleading, and scientifically unsound report on gay parenting conducted by UT-Austin professor Mark Regnerus and sponsored by U.S. religious right-wing groups.

Yesterday, in an interview with the AP, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied the existence of anti-gay laws in Russia, and said athletes and activists would not be punished for expressing support for gay rights in Sochi.

Note the reliance on the bogus Regnerus "study."  The growing parallels with 1930's Germany are frightening.  As for Putin's remarks, Hitler said similar things early on in his campaign against the Jews.  The 2014 Winter Games need to be moved from Russia NOW!

Ken Cuccinelli’s - And Mark Obenshain's - "Personhood" Problem

There is some sweet divine justice in seeing Ken Cuccinelli's extremism popping up to bite him in the ass.  The same goes for GOP attorney general candidate Mark Obenshain who is just as extreme as Cuccinelli even though Obenshain is striving desperately to put on a charade and convince Virginians that he's a moderate rather the far right religious extremist that he is in fact.  And one of the issues that continues to dog both of these unsavory candidates is their support for "personhood" laws in Virginia which would not only ban all abortions but also ban many forms of contraception and in vitro fertilization.  The Washington Post has an editorial that looks at Cuccinelli's (and by extension Mark Obenshain's) efforts to dodge and weave to avoid acknowledging their Christofascist agenda.  Here aare excerpts:

SIX YEARS ago, when Virginia’s General Assembly considered the so-called “personhood amendment” to the state constitution, which granted full rights to “preborn human being[s] from the moment of fertilization,” the list of co-sponsors was short. In the state Senate, five of 40 lawmakers, all Republicans, signed on. Among them were then-Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II and Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, the current GOP candidates for governor and attorney general, respectively.

There’s a reason the amendment had relatively few sponsors, and there’s a reason it failed even in the Republican-dominated House of Delegates. Not only would the amendment have banned abortion, as the sponsors clearly intended, it also provided an opening to prohibit common methods of birth control, including the pill and intrauterine devices.

Mr. Cuccinelli, now the attorney general, is understandably interested in casting himself as a moderate in the gubernatorial election. He has bristled lately at questions about his past positions on abortion and birth control.

In response to questions at a retirement community in Ashburn last week, Mr. Cuccinelli insisted that government should not interfere with contraception and denied that he ever backed legislation that could do so.  The facts suggest otherwise.

The practical effects of “personhood” measures, including the one in Virginia to which Mr. Cuccinelli affixed his name, would easily include banning the most popular forms of contraception. This is because the pill, as well as other forms of birth control, work partly by preventing the implantation of eggs in the uterus wall after they have been fertilized. If the “preborn” are protected “from the moment of fertilization,” as the 2007 bill demanded, then contraception — which defeats a fertilized egg’s chances of becoming a living being — could be prohibited. In fact, the legislation seems to demand it.

As the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists pointed out, “Some of the most effective and reliable forms of contraception — oral contraceptives, intrauterine devices, and other forms of FDA-approved contraceptives — would be banned” by “personhood” measures.

The conclusion to be drawn?  Not only are Cuccinelli and Obenshain far right extremists, but they are also liars when they pretend that they never backed extremist legislation no doubt championed by The Family Foundation.
Mark Obenshain

New Ad Underscores Ken Cuccinelli's Efforts to Help Energy Companies Screw Virginians

A new ad by NextGen Climate Action Virginia will underscore a sore subject with many Virginians from Southwest Virginia in particular.  The ad?  A piece that looks at Cuccinelli's office assisting Consol Energy screw over Virginia landowners and short change them on gas royalty payments.  Here are details via Blue Virginia:

NextGen Climate Action's Virginia campaign will begin tomorrow to air a roughly half-million dollar advertising buy with this ad.  Over a roughly 10-day period, it will run in the Richmond, Norfolk and Roanoke markets.

This is the first in a series of ads we plan to do highlighting important, basic questions Ken Cuccinelli clearly doesn't want to answer about the scandals surrounding his conduct in office - and what it says about him.

We now have a pattern of Cuccinelli dismissing, spinning or turning away from questions - whether they are from reporters, a 74 year-old landowner, or young Virginia voters. You can see the pattern here.
The problem for Ken Cuccinelli is that in Virginia, you have to actually talk to reporters and voters if you want to be Governor. You don't get to duck the big questions for eight weeks. Then again, it's pretty clear why he won't answer the questions: It looks bad. He's our top law enforcement official, he took $100,000 from an out-of-state fossil fuel company while his office helped that company rip off Virginians -- and then played disclosure games to avoid getting caught.
This is unacceptable. People like me move to, stay and do business in Virginia because it's been a well-run state. But the McDonnell and Cuccinelli scandals are threatening to turn us into a national joke.
Not to sound like a broken record, but during all my years in the oil and gas industry, NEVER, EVER did I see a state attorney general's office assisting energy companies in civil litigation against landowners entitled to royalty payments.  I think we all know that there were over 100,000 reasons why Cuccinelli's staff acted improperly and against Virginia citizens and landowners. 


Wednesday, September 04, 2013

More Wednesday Male Beauty

White House Press Release: Military To Grant All Benefits To Spouses Of Gay Veterans

While Del. Bob Marshall is busy urging the possibly soon to be indicted Bob McDonnell to use Virginia's animus based anti-gay marriage amendment to defy the Pentagon's directive on spousal benefits for married gay couples, the White House, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Veterans Affairs have been equally busy working to extend full equality to same sex couples.  A press release from the White House lays out how Veterans benefits will be granted to gay veterans and their spouses.  Here are highlights:
In the Obama administration’s latest step to ensure equal treatment for same-sex married couples following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Wednesday that President Obama has directed the Executive Branch to take steps allowing for same-sex spouses of military veterans to collect federal benefits. The new policy means that the administration will no longer enforce statutory language governing the Veterans Administration (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) that restricts the awarding of spousal benefits to opposite-sex marriages only. The language, contained within Title 38 of the U.S. Code, has, until now, prevented the Executive Branch from providing spousal benefits to veterans—and in some instances active-duty service members and reservists—who are in same-sex marriages recognized under state law.
The letter that Attorney General Eric Holder sent to Congress can be found here.  Here is the full letter:

Del. Bob Marshall Urges Scandal Plagued Bob McDonnell to Deny Benefits to Gay National Guard Members

Del. Bob Marshall - one of the moving forces behind Virginia's heinous anti-gay Marshall-Newman Amendment to the Virginia Constitution - is truly a boil on the ass of humanity.  He never pass up an opportunity to do all in his power to make the lives of gay Virginians a living Hell.  Indeed, Marshall has proudly stated that he would like to drive all gays from Virginia.  The man is a monster and I frequently wonder what the Hell is in the water that his constituents continue to re-elect such a walking douche bag and hate merchant.  Now, Marshall is urging Virginia Governor Bob "Taliban Bob" "Gift Gate Bob" McDonnell to follow the batshitery displayed by Texas and Mississippi toward gay members of the National Guard.  The Virginian Pilot has details.  Here are highlights:

A conservative Virginia lawmaker is pressing Gov. Bob McDonnell to defy the U.S. Defense Department and deny benefits to same-sex couples with a member in the Virginia National Guard on the basis of the state's gay marriage ban.

Del. Bob Marshall this week wrote the governor asking him to take a position similar to that of the Texas National Guard, which has declined to enroll such families in benefits programs.

The commanding officer of that unit reportedly has determined that compliance with a Defense Department directive on treating all legally married families equally conflicts with state policy.

"Since Texas like Virginia has a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman they have appropriatly determined that they will not abandon their rule of law for the unprecidented judicial novelty," Marshall, a Prince William County Republican, wrote in his Sept. 4 letter.

"As Commander of the Virginia National Guard what will you do to secure that the spirit and letter of the Constitution regarding marriage will be upheld?" he asked McDonnell.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last month offered written guidance about extending benefits to same-sex couples in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision this year that overturned aspects of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Due to that ruling, the federal government is required to provide lawfully married gay couples with federal tax, health and other benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.

Marshall's letter also asks McDonnell to shield state tax data from the Internal Revenue Service that could assist it in extending tax benefits to same-sex couples legally married in another state.

I'm sorry, but in my book, Bob Marshall is a pile of human excrement.  As for McDonnell, I suspect that he's more concerned about avoiding a federal indictment than worrying about kissing Marshall ass and the asses of the hate merchants at The Family Foundation.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Mississippi Joins Texas in Refusing to Process Spousal Benefits for Gay Troops

Mississippi - another paragon of bigotry, racism and Bible Belt hypocrisy - has joined Texas in refusing to process spousal benefits on state owned facilities, citing that state's animus inspired anti-gay constitutional amendment.   Given Mississippi's near last place ranking in almost any criteria other than perhaps poverty and obesity, one would think that the state would have more important issues to concentrate on.  But no, discrimination is always given top billing in a state that even Alabama looks down on as inferior.  The Washington Post looks at the situation.  Here are highlights:

The Texas National Guard refused to process requests from same-sex couples for benefits on Tuesday despite a Pentagon directive to do so, while Mississippi won’t issue applications from state-owned offices. Both states cited their respective bans on gay marriage.

Texas and Mississippi appeared to be the only two states limiting how and where same-sex spouses of National Guard members could register for identification cards and benefits, according to an Associated Press tally. Officials in 13 other states that also ban gay marriage — including Arizona, Oklahoma, Florida, Michigan and Georgia — said Tuesday that they will follow federal law and process all couples applying for benefits the same.

Mississippi National Guard spokesman Tim Powell said the main factor in determining where same-sex spouses could apply for benefits came down to the property owner. Powell said only National Guard offices on federal property would accept the applications in Mississippi, which also constitutionally bans gay marriage.

“It is our intent to provide benefits and services to our men and women in uniform and at the same time abide by federal and state statutes,” Powell said.

Pentagon officials said Texas appeared to be the only state with a total ban on processing applications from gay and lesbian couples. Spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen said federal officials will process all applications from same-sex couples with a marriage certificate from a state where it is legal.

Alicia Butler said she was turned away from the Texas Military Forces headquarters in Austin early Tuesday and advised to get her ID card at Fort Hood, an Army post 90 miles away. She married her spouse — an Iraq war veteran — in California in 2009, and they have a 5-month-old child.

In Florida, where gay marriage is banned, state Department of Military Affairs spokesman Lt. Col. James Evans said he was unaware of any policy that would prohibit accepting a request for processing benefits.

Requests for benefits for same-sex couples in Oklahoma, where gay marriage also is illegal, will be handled like those from heterosexual couples, said Oklahoma National Guard spokesman Col. Max Moss. . . . “As long as the soldier presents that marriage certificate or license, then we would treat that claim just like we would any other soldier that brings in a marriage license or certificate,” Moss said.

Is the Virginia GOP Facing a Blow Out Defeat in November?

The last post looked at the Virginia GOP's spittle flecked and in my view insane Lt. Governor nominee, "Bishop" E. W. Jackson.  But Jackson isn't the Virginia GOP's only problem.  Their gubernatorial candidate Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli is down in the polls and continues to be dogged by his own "Gift Gate" scandal due to his receipt of gifts from Jonnie R. Williams and Star Scientific.  Adding to Kookinelli is a possible "Gas Royalties Gate" arising from his office's improper assistance to gay company litigants trying to screw Southwest Virginia landowners out of gas royalties.  To date, Cuccinelli's explanations simply don't wash - especially give the $140,000 he received from the parent corporation of one of the gas companies - and Southwest Virginia voters seem to be rejected Kookinelli's bullshit excuses.  A column in the conservative Richmond Times Dispatch looks at the hopes of the Virginia GOP that the equally extreme Mark Obenshain will somehow save them from an across the board defeat.  Sadly, the column fails to mention that Obenshain has supported "personhood" legislation for fertilized embryos.  Here are column excerpts:

Republicans want to believe Mark Obenshain is their firewall. The GOP nominee for attorney general, Obenshain isn’t burdened by controversy on the groaning scale that afflicts the party’s candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, Ken Cuccinelli and E.W. Jackson. If they flame out, perhaps Obenshain survives, supplying Republicans a statewide voice and a gubernatorial nominee for 2017.

Not that the lugubrious Obenshain isn’t facing discomfiting questions.  

Among the questions: Obenshain’s election-year legislation — now law — making it harder for Virginians to vote and easier to keep secret that they carry a concealed gun. Obenshain also is harangued for a 2009 measure — later withdrawn — that would have required women report miscarriages to authorities within 24 hours.

Republicans tell themselves there are many reasons to view Obenshain as viable when their other nominees seem less so.

Because Obenshain, from the vote-poor Valley, and Herring, from vote-rich NoVa, are both late baby boomers, barely known outside their parties and have similarly subdued personalities, sharp distinctions in their records may be difficult for voters to comprehend.

Cuccinelli’s continuing ethics problems — and those that have Gov. Bob McDonnell in the crosshairs of federal prosecutors — force Obenshain to distance himself from his running mate. Further, they compel Obenshain to continue spelling out how he, as the state’s chief legal officer, would have prevented Cuccinelli and McDonnell from behaving badly in the first place.

The headwinds buffeting Cuccinelli and headaches caused by Jackson’s smash-mouth rhetoric leave Obenshain no option but to go it alone.

Obenshain could confront a force that not even a flood of advertising can deflect: momentum.  If voters, weary of the scandal that has trivialized Republicans, find themselves two-thirds of the way down the ballot — having already flipped the switch for McAuliffe and Ralph Northam for lieutenant governor — what’s to stop them from making it a trifecta for Democrats?

That the Virginia GOP finds itself in this sad state is due to two factions which need to be held accountable if the GOP suffers a total blow out defeat: The Family Foundation and the Tea Party.   The Virginia GOP sold its soul to these ugly extremists and it may be about to receive what it deserves for doing so.

GOP Establishment Avoids "Bishop" E. W. Jackson

Many in the reality free GOP base always whine that if the Republican Party would just nominate sufficiently conservative candidates, the GOP would roll on to unprecedented victory.   Well, these folks got their wish when the Virginia GOP - well, actually a coven of extremists orchestrated by the Christofascists at The Family Foundation - nominated Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli, "Bishop" E. W. Jackson, and Mark "Mr. Miscarriage Law" Obenshain for the party's statewide ticket.   And the polls are showing this "dream ticket" significantly down in the polls.  Faring worse of all is "Bishop" Jackson who the few sane Republicans in Virginia view as radioactive with good reason.  For his part Jackson views those not qualified for a forced commitment in a mental institution with equal disdain.  Here are highlights from a Washington Post article on the latest on "Bishop" Jackson:

Virginia Republicans have been keeping their distance from E.W. Jackson ever since the fiery minister, who has compared Planned Parenthood to the Klan and linked yoga to Satan, won the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor.  Turns out the feeling was mutual.

The Chesapeake pastor has rebuffed the party’s suggestion that he tone down his rhetoric and steer clear of hot-button issues — much to the delight of his grassroots supporters, the frustration of some GOP loyalists and the surprise of almost no one.

More unexpectedly, Jackson has refused the party’s nuts-and-bolts logistical help, choosing not to tap into resources that include the GOP’s trove of voter data and more than 40 field offices around the state, according to four Republican operatives.

While the top of the ticket mostly talks jobs, Jackson has pushed his “liberty agenda,” which calls for limiting the federal government’s reach, promoting gun rights, and resisting “Obamacare.” And as he rejects the party’s messaging and logistical aid, some Republicans fear that he could not only handicap his own prospects but hurt the GOP nominee for governor . . . . 

Jackson’s continued outspokenness — last month he called the Democratic Party the “anti-God party” for supporting abortion rights and gay marriage — could reflect on the whole Republican ticket and turn swing voters away, the GOP strategists said.

At the same time, Jackson’s decision to pass up basic ground-game help could discourage the Republicans’ tea party wing . . . . If the party base sees Jackson struggling and concludes the GOP establishment snubbed him rather than the other way around, it might not turn out in droves for Cuccinelli, . . . 

Said another strategist: “There’s a very strong anti-establishment vein in this. They are laying the groundwork actively to blame somebody else — the establishment — for losing.”

Some of Jackson’s grassroots supporters applaud his decision to resist the party’s attempt to shape his messaging — or muzzle him, as they see it. “This election, November 2013, is Armageddon for social conservatives in Virginia. If we don’t win . . . we could become the next California on marriage,” said Steve Waters, a Richmond-based political consultant who has done work for Jackson. “And I think E.W. will talk to that, and has talked to that.

“Instead of working with the party and doing a little bit of trust-and-verify, they’re going their own way.”
One can only hope that "Bishop" Jackson - I use quotation marks on bishop since Jackson set up his own small church and gave himself the title - goes down to a truly historic defeat.  The man is crazy.  And the GOP can thank The Family Foundation for the fact that he's the Lt. Governor nominee. 

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Politifact Virginia: Cuccinelli's Claim that McAuliffe is "Under Investigation" is a Lie

Time and time again we see the "godly Christian" crowd and those who like to proclaim their religiosity lie through their teeth.  Ken Cuccinelli - who would work to impose a Christian Taliban regime over Virginia - is no exception.   He is currently running ads that claim that Terry McAuliffe is under federal investigation.  Politifact Virginia looked at Cuccinelli's claim and the available facts and politely concluded that Cuccinelli is a liar.   Here is the money quote:

Cuccinelli said McAuliffe is the only gubernatorial candidate under formal investigation. He cites an SEC probe into the tactics GreenTech Automotive used to attracted foreign investors. McAuliffe was chairman of the electric car company until last December and remains one of its key stockholders. But there has been no indication that McAuliffe is a target of the SEC investigation. 

The burden of proof falls on Cuccinelli to prove his charge against McAuliffe, and he comes up empty. 

One can only assume that Cuccinelli is desperate to distract voters from his own dirty linen in the form of $18,000 in gifts from Jonnie R. Williams/Star Scientific and the $140,000 he received from the parent company of a gas company being sued by landowners cheated out of royalty payments.  As noted in prior posts, Cuccinelli's office gave unprecedented and highly improper  legal advice and aid to the gas companies against Virginia landowners.  I think we can agree on what the $140,000 bought.

Texas Military Forces Refuse to Process Same-Sex Couples' Benefits

In yet another example of how the far right increasingly sees itself as above the federal laws and rulings of the U. S. Supreme Court, Maj. Gen. John Nichols (pictured above), who oversees the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard, and Texas State Guard, directed state-run facilities to comply with the anti-gay Texas state constitution, which does not recognize same-sex marriage.  Perhaps the Pentagon should consider cutting off all federal funds that flow to these Texas divisions of the military if Texas believes it can ignore Pentagon directives.  This development underscores that the cowardice of the U. S. Supreme Court and its refusal to rule broadly on gay marriage has only created more chaos.  The Advocate has details.  Here are highlights:

The Texas Military Forces, which includes the state's National Guard and other troops, are refusing to process requests from gay and lesbian couples for spousal benefits, ignoring orders from the Department of Defense that it should extend health care, housing, and other benefits to married gay and lesbian members of the military by today.

The directive creates an additional hurdle for gay and lesbian members of the military, who now must apply for benefits at a federal facility. In Texas, one of the nation’s largest states, applying at a federal installation could require traveling a considerable distance.

The Pentagon confirmed to the Associated Press that Texas is the only entire state that is currently refusing to process benefit requests for same-sex partners, though some state-run offices in Mississippi have also refused to issue applications.

“It’s truly outrageous that the state of Texas has decided to play politics with our military families," said Stephen Peters, president of American Military Partner Association, which advocates for LGBT military families. "Gov. Rick Perry should be ashamed. Our military families are already dealing with enough problems and the last thing they need is more discrimination from the state of Texas."  

Tuesday was the first day these benefits were available to members of the military, following the Supreme Court decision that struck down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Two thoughts.  First, Texas and Mississippi seemingly learned little from their defeat in the Civil War in terms of the federal law taking priority over state law.  Second, as I have argued many times - and as the majority in United States v. Windsor recognized - the only motivation behind anti-gay laws and state constitutional amendments is hatred and anti-gay animus that seeks to make gays lesser citizens be they in the military or civilians.   And this pervasive evil has one source: religion.