Saturday, October 26, 2013

American Sociology Association Files Brief Against Marriage Bans In Nevada and Hawaii

As noted many, many times on this blog, EVERY legitimate medical and mental health association in America opposes "ex-gay" therapy and admits that one's sexual orientation is not something that can be "cured" or "fixed."  The natural result of this understanding is that same sex couples ought to have the same civil legal marriage rights as heterosexual couples.  Bans on gay marriage only seek to harm same sex couples and enshrine Christofascist religious belief into the civil laws.  With numerous lawsuits pending that challenge state laws and constitutional amendments aimed at keeping gays inferior, we can expect to see legitimate medical and mental health associations filing briefs against such bans.  The American Sociological Association has filed such briefs in cases pending in Nevada and Hawaii.  Here are highlights from the organization's press release:

The American Sociological Association (ASA) filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today supporting efforts to overturn gay marriage bans in Nevada and Hawaii and highlighting the overwhelming body of social science research that confirms “children fare just as well” when same-sex or heterosexual parents raise them. The Ninth Circuit is scheduled to hear lawsuits challenging the bans in the coming months.

“The supporters of gay marriage bans in these cases offer no facts to support the contention that Nevada and Hawaii possess an important or rational basis for their respective state laws against marriage for same-sex couples,” said ASA Executive Officer Sally T. Hillsman. The amicus brief is part of the ASA’s ongoing effort to ensure that U.S. courts considering lawsuits to legalize gay marriage understand that social science research shows parents’ sexual orientation has no bearing on their children’s well-being.

Obviously, these facts are 100% opposed to the arguments of the Christofascists who use faux experts and manipulated "research" to support their predetermined conclusions.  An example of this is the much slammed "study" done by Mark Regnerus which was funded by far right organizations for use against arguments for same sex marriage.  The ASA singled out the Regnerus "study" for particular condemnation:
“The Regnerus papers and other sources gay marriage opponents often rely on provide no basis for their arguments because this research does not directly examine the well-being of children raised by same-sex parents,” Hillsman said. “These analyses therefore do not undermine the consensus from the social science research and do not establish a legitimate basis for gay marriage bans in Nevada, Hawaii, or anywhere else.”
 When all else is stripped away, the only argument against gay marriage comes down to conservative religious beliefs.  Beliefs that should not be included in the civil laws whatsoever. 

How Mark Obenshain and Ken Cuccinelli Have Aided Sexual Predators

To listen to their campaign ads one would think that Mark Obenshain and Ken Cuccinelli (both pictured above) have made careers out of "protecting" the public against "sexual predators."  Indeed, Cuccinelli claimed that his lunatic effort to reinstate Virginia's twice invalidated "crimes against nature" statute - which outlawed all sex unless between heterosexuals in the missionary position - was aimed at protecting against sexual predators.  As a great piece in Think Progress explains that in reality Cuccinelli and Obenshain's extremism and efforts to demonize and criminalize gays have, in fact, done the opposite of what both men claim because they have actually acted to block changes to Virginia's laws that would have allowed stricter penalties against true sexual predators.  Here are article excerpts:

Shortly after the Supreme Court rejected Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s (R) effort to revive parts of his state’s anti-sodomy law, Cuccinelli’s office emailed a statement to reporters claiming that prosecutors have been “using this law to protect minors from predatory adults.” The lower court’s decision striking the law, the Attorney General’s office warned, “puts tools prosecutors need to protect children in jeopardy,” adding that nearly 90 “sexual predators” could be deregistered as sex offenders.

The full story, however, is far more nuanced, and it significantly undermines Cuccinelli’s effort to paint himself as a crusader for children. The truth is that Cuccinelli himself, along with the Republican candidate now running to replace him as attorney general, both played a significant role in undermining Virginia’s ability to prosecute sexual predators. As state lawmakers, both men put their personal opposition to homosexuality and gay sex above Virginia’s need to combat genuine sex crimes. And both men were part of a much greater effort to keep an unconstitutional law on the books.

Though both have made fighting sexual predators a key campaign issue, the Republicans nominees in next month’s Virginia Gubernatorial and Attorney General elections — Cuccinelli and Mark Obenshain (R), respectively — are among those who bear responsibility for allowing this [the reversal of William Scott MacDonald's conviction under the sodomy statute] to happen, having toed the line of the state’s most prominent Christian Right organization.

While rarely enforced in the modern era to prosecute the private behavior of consensual adults, Virginia Crimes Against Nature law was long used as an excuse to discriminate against gay and lesbian Virginians. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, state legislators repeatedly attempted to amend the Crimes Against Nature law to exclude oral and anal between consenting adults, or to at least reduce crimes from felony to misdemeanor.

The leading opponent of such changes was a Richmond-based anti-LGBT group called the Family Foundation of Virginia. The group’s legislative scorecards rewarded legislators who opposed such changes and punished their backers. Their website in 2001 identified keeping the sodomy ban unchanged as a “priority.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 6 to 3 Lawrence v. Texas ruling, authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2003, held that adult couples are “entitled to respect for their private lives,” and that states “cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime,”  . . . .
As a result, sodomy laws like Virginia’s were deemed unconstitutional.

The Republican-dominated panel recommended that the unconstitutional Crimes Against Nature law (§ 18.2-361) be left on the books but that a new section (§ 18.2-361.1) be added to specifically criminalize “sodomy that occurs in a public place.”

Senator Patsy Ticer (D) proposed a simpler approach. Her bill, also filed in January 2004, sought to add an amendment to the old law to make it clear that it “shall not apply where all persons are consenting adults who are not in a public place and who are not aiding, abetting, procuring, engaging in or performing any act in furtherance of prostitution.” The Ticer bill was endorsed by the committee on a bipartisan 9 to 6 vote. Voting yes were committee chairman Ken Stolle and two other Republican Senators. Voting no were then-Sens. Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Obenshain. Both received 100 percent ratings from the Family Foundation of Virginia for their voting in that session — and both would later receive the group’s “Legislator of the Year” award.

Ticer, now retired, told ThinkProgress that the Family Foundation’s opposition was a major factor in blocking her bill, “They had a lot of influence and have a lot of influence.” Stolle, now Virginia Beach Sheriff, concurred, adding that “a number of members” of the committee “were afraid the Religious Right would see it as weakening their opposition to homosexual activities and that nature.”

After the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled that the law and William Scott MacDonald’s conviction were unconstitutional, under Lawrence, . . . . Ironically, it fell on now-Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II to defend the statute he had refused to update nine years earlier. Though he claimed that his unsuccessful effort to appeal the 4th Circuit’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court was not about banning oral sex or criminalizing same-sex couples, in 2009 he told a newspaper that he supported restrictions on the sexual behavior of consenting adults: “My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that. … They don’t comport with natural law.”

Senator Janet Howell (D), who supported updating the law in 2004 as a Crime Commission member and as a member of the Senate Courts of Justice committee, told ThinkProgress that Cuccinelli and Obenshain’s intransigence undermined their efforts to protect children. “They’re kind of hoisted on their own petard,” she observed. 

Senator Adam Ebbin (D), the lone no vote in 2004 in the House of Delegates on Albo’s plan to leave the Crimes Against Nature provisions untouched, agreed. “If Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Obenshain hadn’t been stuck in past centuries, we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in,” he told ThinkProgress.

The Family Foundation’s Cobb did not respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry about why her group has fought to keep oral and anal sex as a felony in Virginia, but the group featured Cuccinelli and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) this month at its annual fundraising gala. Table sponsors received free copies of Cuccinelli’s book. 

Stolle, who in his new role as a law enforcement officer must enforce the laws, added, “hindsight’s always 20/20, but we should have updated it.” “The inaction of the General Assembly,” he lamented, “caused this [statutory rapist] to go free.”

Obenshain and Cuccinelli have always exhibited blind obedience to the anti-gay extremists at The Family Foundation and, in fact, owe their nominations to that foul organization.  It is no surprise that they placed fealty to dictates from The Family Foundation ahead of a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court and protecting the public from true sexual predators.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Cuccinelli Ally Rick Santorum: Satan Controls The Film Industry

With his campaign plagued by the perception - which is being successfully cultivated by the Terry MAuliffe team - that he is too extreme for Virginia (I'd add for sane people anywhere) what does Ken Cuccinelli do?  He brings in Rick Santorum to "mobilize voters."   It's as if Cuccinelli is striving hard to confirm every accusation of extremism made against him.  When you are losing moderates and independents, is it really smart to bring in someone who says Satan controls the film industry?  Right Wing Watch looks at Cuccinelli surrogate Santorum's latest batshitery:

Rick Santorum is asking you to do your part to free movie theatres from the Devil’s clutches by purchasing tickets to his upcoming movie, The Christmas Candle.

While speaking on a network where televangelists on a daily basis tell viewers that God will reward them financially if they send in contributions, the former senator and presidential candidate spent most of the time criticizing movies for being too materialistic.

Santorum, who has previously said that Satan has control over mainline Protestantism and universities, thanked viewers in advance for seeing the movie.

“This is a tough business, this is something that we’re stepping out,” Santorum said, “and the Devil for a long, long time has had this, these screens, for his playground and he isn’t going to give it up easily.”
To my view, Cuccinelli and Santorum are clones of each other: likely closeted gay men suffering from an extreme Catholic upbringing and with a resulting obsession with gay sex.  Both foolishly thought that fathering lots of children - each of them has 7 children - would magically make them straight.  They both need to do the world a favor and come out and get over their efforts to control everyone else's sex lives.

How Ken Cuccinelli Blew His Early Advantage

I will not feel comfortable until the votes are counted on the evening of November 5, 2013, and it is confirmed for certain that GOP lunatic candidate Ken Cuccinelli has gone down to defeat.  Yet the post mortems have already begun and a remarkable piece in the Washington Post authored by political polar opposites slams both Cuccinelli and his campaign for bungling and unbelievable tone deafness when it comes to reading the public mindset.  Much of the piece would blame Cuccinelli's campaign staff, but in my view, the real problems ultimately is Cuccinelli himself who (i) is a "true believer" fanatic who is so certain of his own views that he cares nothing about what others - including a majority of voters - may think and (ii) has created many easily avoidable disasters for himself.  Long ago he should have gotten out and mingled with those outside the echo chamber of The Family Foundation and far right organizations that much of the larger public perceive as scary and/or insane.  That, of course, would have been inconsistent with his zealot/fanatic/extremist mindset. Cuccinelli will likely never grasp that the views of The Family Foundation are not representative of most Virginians.  Here are column excerpts:

Last month, we wrote that Ken Cuccinelli II’s campaign to become Virginia’s next governor needed to raise its game or face certain defeat. Has it done so? Unequivocally, no.  Cuccinelli’s strategists and consultants have doggedly followed a baffling strategy.

Even the best campaigns can lose. But an inept campaign guarantees a loss for an underdog, and Cuccinelli (R) has been the underdog since July. The attorney general’s defenders will undoubtedly refute our analysis, claiming instead that bad luck and strong headwinds have hobbled the GOP effort in Virginia. In our view, his problems went much deeper.

Simply put, Cuccinelli’s advisers never displayed an ability to win. They badly underestimated the seasoned team of his opponent, Terry McAuliffe (D), which was aided by nearly twice as much campaign cash.

[T]he real damage from “giftgate” had nothing to do with luck. It resulted from Cuccinelli’s inexplicable refusal to repay the $18,000, even after McDonnell had reimbursed Williams. This gave McAuliffe a political gift: an issue to use in a late-summer television ad barrage to undercut Cuccinelli’s previously “clean” image. When Cuccinelli’s campaign finally realized its huge, unforced error, it reversed course and Cuccinelli donated the value of the gifts to charity. But the damage was done.

Cuccinelli’s defenders also bemoan the bad timing of the federal shutdown and debt default, which soured voters on Republicans generally. It’s true that was a tough break. But by then, his campaign was already lagging in the polls.

Moreover, Cuccinelli had been angling to harness tea party enthusiasm since his first-in-the-nation legal challenge to Obamacare in 2010. He had to know — or should have known — the risks of associating himself with the bloc’s often-rigid views. This month, he and shutdown leader Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), the tea party’s hero of the moment, were the featured speakers at the conservative Family Foundation’s annual gala in Richmond.
Bad luck also didn’t create a pattern of pitting gubernatorial candidate Cuccinelli against Attorney General Cuccinelli on issues such as McDonnell’s transportation plan, unpopular tolls in the Tidewater region and landowner rights in Southwest Virginia.

No, Cuccinelli’s problems aren’t about luck. They’re about a candidate and a campaign team being unable to play this level.

Consider: Early on, Cuccinelli refused to resign as attorney general when he mounted his run for governor, as predecessors of both parties have done. We agree that this unique Virginia tradition is outdated. But given that several developing cases were fated to become front-page news during the election, his campaign advisers should have seized on the Virginia tradition as a blessing. They didn’t see it.

Cuccinelli, the likely easy winner in the already declared GOP gubernatorial primary, decided nonetheless to get the rules changed. He helped force a nominating convention that was stacked against rival Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. The perceived double-cross alienated key Republicans.

As McAuliffe’s summer ad campaign methodically wrecked Cuccinelli’s image, the Republican’s consultants failed to offer what professionals call an “alternative positive narrative.”

Cuccinelli’s consultants agreed with Virginia political observer Larry Sabato, who said the GOP nominee was a sure winner once Republicans launched their anti-McAuliffe campaign. We debunked such foolishness early on. The Cuccinelli campaign long promised an October surprise. Right.

The verdict: “Unable,” aided and abetted by “unlucky,” leads to “unelectable.”

The authors of this scathing piece:  Norman Leahy, an editor of the conservative Web site and producer of the political radio show “The Score,” and Paul Goldman, a former chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia.  Typically, these men do not agree on anything.  

Lynchburg News Advance Slams Cuccinelli Roads Plan

With the toxic Liberty University dominating the city in many ways, Lynchburg, Virginia is considered by some to be a reactionary backwater.  But not everyone in the city is a Kool-Aid drinker as demonstrated by the Lynchburg News Advance's condemnation of Ken Cuccinelli's plan for highway funding which would solve the state's finance problem by simply throwing more of the highway construction/maintenance burden on cities and counties.  Cuccinelli proposes to continue the very mindset that has helped put Virginia in the die straits it now faces with an inadequate transportation system.  Here are excerpts from the editorial:

Very quietly this week, Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor, released his transportation plan.

With one exception — the creation of a Virginia Congestion Matrix Database so the public can track progress on solving the 100 most important transportation bottlenecks, it is more of the same we’ve seen from many Republicans in Richmond during the past decade. And that makes it a bad deal for the commonwealth, localities who would be harmed, the business community and residents.

In the summary of the transportation plan (available online at, he claims one of the “fundamental reasons” for the commonwealth’s being “plagued” with transportation woes for decades is “undeniable lack of decision making and buy-in at the local level.”
We beg to differ with the candidate.

One of the fundamental reasons for the commonwealth’s transportation woes was the utter inability of the General Assembly, specifically the no-tax wing of the GOP in the House of Delegates, to accept reality and raise revenues for transportation infrastructure problems.

For a quarter of a century, the gas tax, the primary source of state dollars for transportation, sat at 17.5 cents, unindexed to inflation. Its purchasing power was cut in half by inflation, and the GOP did nothing — nothing — to address the looming crisis. It wasn’t until this year that Gov. Bob McDonnell managed to cobble together a plan that only just begins to address Virginia’s glaring needs.

And as attorney general, Cuccinelli did his best to sabotage that plan at the last minute. Now he wants to “devolve” the responsibilities of the state upon localities, all “without imposing a statewide tax increase”?

Pardon us if we don’t buy this line yet again.
The simple reality is that highways are one of the things the state, not localities, needs to build and maintain.  And that means raising taxes - the gasoline tax is a perfect example - so that an inadequate and deteriorating highway system can be updated and maintained properly.   Forcing costs on localities which would then have to increase real estate taxes is not a solution.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Morning Male Beauty

How Sleazy Christian Con Artists Took Over the GOP

I came across this piece on AlterNet that was just too good to pass up since it describes the consequences of the Christofascist take over of the GOP base, a process that I began witnessing before I resigned from my GOP City Committee position and walked away form the Republican Party. The result has been that sane, serious minded Republicans - e.g., my entire extended family - have bolted from the GOP and the death spiral initiated by the Christofascists seems to be accelerating except in the eyes of those living in an alternate universe or who have shown themselves to be gullible to lies and smoke and mirrors.  Today, instead of advancing problem solving policies and serious program proposals, the entire GOP message has been transformed to attract those motivated by greed, ignorance, religious extremism, a severe fear of modernity and, of course,  racism.  It is not a pretty picture and, in my view, it all ties back to the rise of the Christofascists in the Republican Party.  Here are column excerpts:

The culture of fundamentalist Christianity has had profound impacts on the Republican party in the past few decades, moving Republicans to the right on various issues and forcing Republicans to prioritize gay-bashing and attacks on reproductive rights. The shutdown, however, ended up demonstrating something even more sinister. Republicans are no longer just cribbing their political ideology from fundamentalist Christianity. Increasingly, conservative politicians are abandoning the basic task of representing the interests of their voters and instead are exploiting their voters in the same way televangelists and other fundamentalist charlatans exploit the true believers that come to them looking for spiritual salvation.
Ted Cruz is the most prominent example, at least in the past month. After the shutdown debacle, it became clear that Cruz has no interest in using his position as a Texas senator to work on behalf of the voters who got him there. Instead, his M.O. is pure sleazy televangelist: Lots of public grandstanding to convince his marks, previously known as constituents, that he's on their side, for the sole purpose of shaking them down for money and support without offering anything in return.

The Houston Chronicle lamented ever endorsing Cruz, comparing him unfavorably to his predecessor Kay Baily Hutchinson. Hutchinson actually bothered to represent her voters, putting a priority on the state’s economic development. Cruz is as different from Hutchinson as a miracle-promising conman taking old ladies for their Social Security checks is from the local minister who actually bothers to do the unglamorous work of holding hands, wiping tears and performing weddings and funerals for parishioners.

That Cruz resembles a faith healer selling lies to gullible people more than a politician working to represent the interests of his voters shouldn’t be too surprising. His family is wrapped up with some of the worst of the worst when it comes to sleazy preachers seeking to exploit vulnerable people. Cruz’s father is a member of Purifying Fire Ministries, founded by Suzanne Hinn, the wife of one of the nation’s most despicable fundamentalist conmen, Benny Hinn. Hinn is a minister only in the loosest sense of the word: He goes about the world conducting fake faith-healing “miracles” that make him a lot of money, but he doesn’t actually provide any services real people need. It’s all just magic tricks to con the rubes out of their hard-earned money.

Of course, Cruz is far from the only politician who apparently models his career off fraudulent fundamentalist preachers who love self-aggrandizing drama but don’t care too much about, well, caring for their people. The all-flash-no-substance model is beginning to take over the Republican party.
Obviously, the right has always had a charlatan side, with plenty of self-appointed leaders viewing the faithful as marks to bilk for cash instead of giving people the services promised. Faith healers and other religious conmen have preyed on fundamentalist Christian audiences for over a century now. As historian Rick Perlstein wrote in the Baffler, conservative media has long subsisted on selling snake oil to their followers and running mail order schemes to defraud conservative readers while making the leaders wealthy. But, by and large, Republicans of the past did consider it a duty to actually work for the people who elected them. That relationship has fundamentally changed.  . . . the modern Republican sees the voters as rubes he can hoodwink into sending him to D.C. while not doing any actual work for them.

Why Republicans Are Losing the Virginia Governor's Race

I've continued to argue that the main reason Ken Cuccinelli seems to be headed towards defeat in the Virginia gubernatorial elections in a week and a half is because - besides being clinically mentally ill in my opinion - Cuccinelli is far to extreme on so-called social issues and has no real plan to fix Virginia's broken transportation system or create new jobs other than perhaps low paying call center jobs.  Unknown apparently to Cuccinelli is the fact that unlike the folks at The Family Foundation and within the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, Virginians are not obsessed with re-criminalizing homosexuality, banning contraception, restricting sex to the "missionary position, and diverting taxpayer dollars to support religious schools.  A piece in Rolling Stone echo's my sentiments and slams Cuccinelli for bringing the equally insane Rick Santorum to Virginia for his last ditch effort to energize voters.  Here are story highlights:

For many Republican politicians, the chaos and bad blood that resulted from the recent Tea Party government shutdown will be a long-forgotten memory by the next time their constituents go to the ballot box. But for Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, judgment day is just two weeks away. To overcome the public relations disaster of his party's recent hostile takeover of the federal branch – as well as his own lagging polling – the state's attorney general and wannabe-governor is going to have to bring out some big guns in the final days of the campaign. His secret weapon? Santorum.

Yes, with a nearly double-digit deficit and a 25-point gender gap, Team Cuccinelli has decided the best way to close in on Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe is to have former Pennsylvania senator, failed presidential candidate and rabid "traditional family values" stalwart Rick Santorum ride into town for a get-out-the-vote crusade. Santorum is joining Christian conservative luminaries like the Duggars – the famous Quiverfull family and reality television stars, who also enjoy discussing the evils of birth control and comparing abortion to the Nazi Holocaust.
The addition of Santorum's supporters as a door-knocking "strikeforce" for Cuccinelli makes a great deal of sense. After all, Santorum believes gay marriage would lead to "man on dog" sex, and Cuccinelli keeps urging the courts to make consensual oral and anal sex illegal. It's a totally platonic same-sex match made in heaven.  

It's also completely the wrong way to play the last weeks of an already faltering campaign, especially after the GOP disaster that was the recent government shutdown and attempt to defund Obamacare.

Instead of following the example of Christie or learning from the upset in Florida, Cuccinelli appears determined to double down on the same far right, Christian conservative extremism that put the country into financial jeopardy just a week ago.  He stomped with Tea Party superstar Sen. Ted Cruz while Congress was still in a deadlock, and appeared with Fox News commentator and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who commended Cuccinelli for his leadership in suing to have Obamacare declared unconstitutional.

In fact, the Cuccinelli campaign has moved so far to the right at this point that the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a mostly reliable Republican endorsement machine prior to election day, threw up its hands and refused to endorse any candidate in the race at all.  Their reason? Cucinelli's extreme stance on social issues makes him unelectable.

While the newest additions to the campaign trail are unlikely to win over any moderate Virginia voters – and they definitely won't eliminate Cuccinelli's massive deficit among women – the GOP candidate is likely hoping that bringing in the best and brightest of the Tea Party will convince his party's most extreme fringe to show up at the polls in droves.  It's a risky gamble, even more so after the massive disaster that was the government shutdown.
If Cuccinelli's strategy does work, however, expect this to be the first battle of the 2014 culture wars. And be sure to stock up on birth control while you can still get it.

I continue to stand by my view that Cuccinelli - and Santorum too, for that matter - is a self-loathing closet case who is obsessed with regulating everyone else's sex lives because he is so twisted when it comes to dealing with his own sexual orientation.   No one in good mental health and comfortable with who they are is this obsessed with other people's sex lives and homosexuality. Message to Ken: fathering lots of children doesn't make you straight.

Second "Ex-Gay" Group Challenges Virginia Colleges Over Lack of Fraudulent "Ex-Gay-Therapy"

With every legitimate mental health and medical association condemning "ex-gay" reparative therapy, the states of New Jersey and California outright banning the practice for those under 18 years of age (additional states may follow suit), and Exodus International closing and admitting that few if anyone was actually "changed" by the witch doctor like "ex-gay" therapy the group promoted, hate group backed "ex-gays" are apparently getting desperate to find a way to remain even remotely legitimate.   Hence the recent move by two "ex-gay" groups to try to intimidate Virginia colleges and universities into providing "ex-gay" information to students.  One can only hope these colleges and universities - or perhaps more importantly, their liability insurance carriers - refuse to knuckle under to these threats and intimidation.    Promoting a discredited and dangerous "therapy" that is based solely on religious dogma would seem to be a liability lawsuit waiting to happen.  Again, with more and more Americans recognizing that the "choice" and "change" myths promoted by Christofascist are lies, fraudulent "ex-gay" ministries are desperate to try to change the playing field to regain a shred of legitimacy.  GayRVA looks at these efforts to intimidate public colleges and universities.  Here are highlights:
Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) is asking Virginia legislatures to stop funding “gay-transvestite centers at Virginia’s public universities,” claiming state funds are being used to “indocronate” youth into changing their faith.

Today’s announcement comes as a response to an undercover investigation produced last month by the ex-gay group Voice of the Voiceless which concluded that LGBTQ resource centers at Virginia state universities are discrediting the ex-gay community.

In a press release by PFOX their executive director Regina Griggs said these centers deny change is possible by refusing to accept ex-gays exists.

“Virginia taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to fund hatred and discrimination against ex-gays and people of faith,” Griggs said in the press release. “These biased and discriminatory lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/questioning centers hide ex-gay resources and insist that students adopt a ‘gay-only’ mentality that rejects those who have changed their orientation from gay to straight while celebrating those who have changed their gender identity.”

Griggs said PFOX provides ex-gay brochures urging tolerance to these resource centers at many Virginia state universities but these LGBTQ centers refuse to make these resources available to students seeking guidance.

Ric Chollar is Associate Director for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ) Resources at the Northern Virginia college of George Mason University (GMU).
GMU was specifically criticized by Voice of the Voiceless when Chollar, who is also a licensed clinical social worker, told the undercover investigator to seek a Metropolitan Community Church and read, “The Lord is my Shepherd, and He Knows I’m Gay.”

“It wasn’t that I directed him to go just there,” Chollar said. “All throughout the interview I was trying to be very careful as I think all of us are in not giving advice or direction but instead presenting options and linking whatever suggestions and whatever possibilities come from the piece of himself that he is talking about.”

“The value we place is around encouraging students towards mental health, and towards happiness and towards success as students,” Chollar said about there being no evidence of ex-gay therapy being successful.

The American Physiological Association has publicly state ex-gay therapy does not work, and often is more harmful than anything else. A report was released in 2009 that detailed the results of their work.

Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation,” said Judith Glassgold, Psy.D., chair of the APA task force that examined sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE). “Contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates, recent research studies do not provide evidence of sexual orientation change as the research methods are inadequate to determine the effectiveness of these interventions.”

If one does their homework, it quickly becomes clear that PFOX is funded almost solely by anti-gay hate groups and its national board of directors includes a who's who of hate merchants, some of whom make a plush living peddling lies.  In my opinion, "ex-gay" therapy needs to be banned nationwide.  In my view, the nastiest whore has more integrity than the folks at PFOX and Voice of the Voiceless.  If students are conflicted by their sexual orientation, they need to get legitimate therapy and over come the sick religious brainwashing that the Christofascists and their minions disseminate.
This situation also underscores why Mark Herring must be elected as Attorney General.  If his religious extremist opponent, Mark Obenshain is elected, Obenshain would likely pressure Virginia colleges and university to provide fraudulent "ex-gay" materials to students.  Countless young lives could be damaged as a consequence.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

N.C. GOP Official Resigns After Interview Admission that New Voter ID Law is Racist

If Virginians need an example of why Virginia needs to see a complete Democrat sweep on November 5, 2013, they need look no farther than across Virginia's southern border to North Carolina.  Since the GOP takeover of the North Carolina state government, it has been a cavalcade of one batshit crazy, religiously extreme or racist bill after another being enacted.  Among such bills was one imposing draconian voter ID requirements. The goal? To disenfranchise blacks, young voters and minorities.  True to form, the myth of voter fraud has been dragged out to justify what was largely a thinly veiled move back toward the bad old days of Jim Crow.  As it does so well, the Daily Show convinced Republican precinct chairman of Buncombe County, N.C., Don Yelton (pictured above), to come on the show for an interview.  Not surprisingly, Yelton was coaxed into basically admitting that there was no voter fraud problem and that the bill was aimed at keeping "lazy blacks" from voting.  Yelton has now resigned and the GOP is trying to dodge the growing shit storm that has exploded.  Politico has details:
Conservative activist Don Yelton has stepped down from his position as Republican precinct chairman of Buncombe County, N.C., following controversial comments that aired Wednesday on the Daily Show.

The remarks were made during an interview with Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi, during which Mandvi and Yelton discussed efforts to pass new voter identification requirements into in North Carolina, a requirement that many critics argue will subdue voter turnout in the state.

“The law is going to kick the Democrats in the butt,” Yelton said. “If it hurts a bunch of college kids [that are] too lazy to get up off their bohonkas and go get a photo ID, so be it.  . . . .

Yelton also made a series of racially incendiary remarks to Mandvi as they discussed the law.  “If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it,” Yelton added.

Following his controversial interview, the Buncombe county GOP Chairman Henry Mitchell vehemently distanced the party from Yelton’s comments.

Yelton stood by his comments on Thursday.  The comments that were made, that I said, I stand behind them. I believe them,” he told Mountain Xpress, a local alternative paper. 

During the Daily Show interview, Yelton rejected claims that he is racist.  “I’ve been called a bigot before,” Yelton said. “[And] as a matter of fact, one of my best friends is black.”
The GOP can try to flee from the racism of folks like Yelton, but racism is now a core characteristic of the GOP base.  In recent elections, local GOP officials in Hampton Roads have had to resign after disseminating racist jokes and commentary.  

More Thursday Male Beauty

Cuccinelli: No Conflict for Him to Preside Over Election in Which He Is a Candidate

Sadly, we have already seen examples of Ken Cuccinelli's failure to avoid blatant conflict of interest while he has occupied the office of Virginia Attorney General: bribes gifts from Jonnie R. Williams, CEO of Star Scientific and bribes campaign contributions from Consol Energy which just happened to receive improper legal assistance from Cuccinelli's office, etc.  But now, Cuccinelli's batshitery/arrogance has reached unbelievable levels.  When requested to recuse himself/his office from presiding over legal disputes and issues arising from the 2013 gubernatorial contest in which Cuccinelli is a candidate, Cuccinelli has formally stated that "there is no conflict of interest."  In what universe?   What freaking planet is this man from?   The Richmond Times Dispatch looks at the insanity.  Here are excerpts:

This summer, state Sen. John S. Edwards, D-Roanoke, asked Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli whether it is a conflict of interest for Cuccinelli and his office to preside over an election in which he is a candidate.  He wanted to know whether that conflict required Cuccinelli to recuse his office from prosecuting any violations of election law.
On Friday, Edwards received his answer -- no.

"It is my opinion that there is no inherent conflict of interest presented, and thus, no per se requirement that the Office of the Attorney General recuse from investigating and prosecuting alleged violations of election law, when the Attorney General is a candidate for public office in the same election that is under investigation,"

"...There is no legal or ethical requirement that a sitting Attorney General who is on the ballot for an election disqualify himself or his Office from performing all of the Office's statutory responsiblities."
Cuccinelli wrote in a five-page legal opinion, posted to the Attorney General's website today.

"It is further my opinion that any potential recusal of that office must be determined on a case-by-case basis."

Edwards' request was an extension of a position maintained by Democrats in the campaign -- that by remaining in office while running for governor, Cuccinelli compromised not only his ability to serve but invited conflicts between his official responsibilities and his political interests.

The previous six attorneys general who ran for governor of Virginia all resigned their office before their terms expired to seek the Executive Mansion. Cuccinelli has said he would stay in office to fulfill his promise to voters to serve his full term.

Given Cuccinelli's past corruption and disregard for conflicts of interest, I for one do not feel the least bit comfortable knowing that Cuccinelli will likely try to manipulate the election results if the polls  bear out and he goes down in flames.  Cuccinelli is unfit for any elected office!

Jennifer Rubin: Cuccinelli’s Got Problems

Meanwhile, the debate continues as to whether or not the drastic drop in the public view of the Republican brand is part of the reason that GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli appears to be tanking in the polls.  Personally, I suspect that most of Cuccinelli's problems trace right back to Cuccinelli himself: his corruption - think money from Star Scientific and Consol Energy - and his scary religious extremism and extreme positions on social issues, including his anti-gay and anti-women jihads.  Jennifer Rubin is a conservative columnist who I generally dislike, but of late she seems to have been zeroing in on the systemic problem of today's GOP and the problems that Cuccinelli has created for himself through his slavish obedience to hate merchants at The Family Foundation and knuckle dragging climate change deniers.  Rubin has let loose on Cuccinelli in a blog post.  Here are excerpts:

Last night I received a recorded phone message from a group called the Tea Party Patriot Fund. In the guise of a poll, the ad for Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli II asked if I supported the giant tax hike  by the “current governor” (alluding to the sales tax hike to pay for transportation) and whether I favored Medicaid expansion. The ad is noteworthy in several respects.

It was, like nearly all of Cuccinelli’s campaign (and this was a third-party ad, which cannot be coordinated with the candidate), entirely negative. The message is that Democrat Terry McAuliffe will raise taxes and expand Medicaid. Unfortunately for Cuccinelli, he’s managed to push down McAuliffe’s numbers but not raise his own, leaving McAuliffe the least-horrible choice for many voters.

In addition, this group doesn’t think that the transportation bill is popular. In fact, polling says it is, and, moreover, Cuccinelli hasn’t run on repealing it. (Had he done so, perhaps those fiscal conservatives wouldn’t be considering Sarvis). It’s part of the confusion about Cuccinelli — will he try to make the law work or seek to scuttle it?

And finally, telephone ad arguments against McAuliffe are weak. The House of Delegates is overwhelmingly Republican and the state Senate is evenly divided, neither of which is likely to change much in the November election. What are the chances the legislature will vote to raise taxes or to expand Medicaid? Not large. . . . .

One thing that would not have helped[Cuccinelli]  — although hard-line conservatives are brushing up this excuse — would have been to run harder on the social issues. He is already losing big in areas (Northern Virginia) and with groups (e.g. younger voters, women) who think he’s too extreme on social issues. Unlike Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), who didn’t run on social issues and was able to win Northern Virginia and the women’s vote, Cuccinelli has been unable to escape being tagged as an extremist on these issues. On TV in Northern Virginia, you get one anti-Cuccinelli ad after another, most emphasizing his stance on contraception, abortion, etc.

Sometimes the voters do stumble upon a truthful, general proposition, even if they don’t have all the particulars exactly right. Cuccinelli is a very aggressive, confrontational politician who deeply believes in his positions on social issues, which are generally to the right of most voters in the most-populous areas of the state. That’s a fundamental problem with his candidacy.
Some say he’s “old Virginia” (akin to rock-ribbed conservatives like former Gov. George Allen, who held office 20 years ago) in a “new Virginia” (more diverse, tolerant, moderate, more residents not born in-state). If he does lose (which seems likely), that will be as good an explanation as any.

I find it ironic that some in the GOP are trying to say Cuccinelli is another George Allen.  George Allen - who was a law school classmate of mine who I spent an enjoyable evening with at our 20th alumni reunion - had his issues.  But he was never, ever has been the insane extremist that defines Cuccinelli.  Cuccinelli owes his gubernatorial nomination to The Family Foundation - an extreme far right Christian organization that seeks a theocracy and forced conformity with Christofascists beliefs - and Cuccinelli is one of these true believers.  More and more Virginians seem to be figuring this out and find the prospect of a Governor Cuccinelli to be nothing less than frightening.

The Self-Inflicted Implosion of the GOP Brand

The post mortem of the aftermath of the Tea Party/Christofascist fueled Republican Party government shutdown continues and none of the disclosures should be deemed good news by sane Republicans, admittedly a dying breed.  And what does the Republican Party and the GOP base have to show for such reckless insanity?    Nothing.  Or at least nothing positive.  So what caused this nihilism?  Andrew Sullivan sums it up well:
The fusion of politics and religion – most prominently the fusion of the evangelical movement and the Republican party – has been one of the most damaging developments in recent American history. It has made Republicanism not the creed of realists, pragmatists and compromise but of fundamentalists – on social and foreign policy, and even fiscal matters. And once maintaining inerrant doctrine becomes more important than, you know, governing a complicated, divided society, you end up with the extremism we saw in the debt ceiling crisis. When doctrine matters more than actually doing anything practical you end up with Cruz cray-cray.  
Thankfully, most Americans seem to have been paying attention and the GOP now enjoys record breaking unfavorable ratings with many diverse demographic segments of American Society.   A Piece in the Washington Post reviews the extent of the damage.  Here are highlights (check out the piece for an amazing graphic):

Polling released this week by the Washington Post and ABC News found the GOP’s unfavorability ratings among Americans at an all-time high of 63 percent.

But a closer look at the numbers reveals that this has been accompanied by a massive collapse in 2013 of the GOP brand among core constituencies important in midterm elections: Independents, women, and seniors. The crack Post polling team has produced a new chart demonstrating that in the last year — since just before the 2012 election – there’s been a truly astonishing spike in the GOP’s unfavorable ratings among these core groups.

[T]he GOP’s unfavorable ratings have jumped 19 points among seniors, to 65 percent; 17 points among independents, to 67 percent; and 10 points among women, to 63 percent. Those are all key constituencies in midterm elections.

Observers believe that over the long term, the GOP will have to do a better job winning over college educated whites, who are an increasingly important constituency, along with young voters and minorities, in the Democratic coalition of the future. (Ron Brownstein has dubbed these groups the “coalition of the ascendant,” arguing they are increasingly important in statewide races, not just national ones.)

Among white collar whites, the GOP’s unfavorability rating has shot up by a startling 21 points, to 70 percent. Among college educated women – who may be more critical to the Dem coalition than college educated men – the spike in GOP unfavorability has been somewhat more dramatic than among women overall, jumping 15 points, to 74 percent. If this trend continues, it could fuel future Dem gains among women.

There is still plenty of time for the current political atmosphere to change, of course. But the possibility of more GOP crises and chaos governing in 2014 – which could reinforce current public impressions of the GOP – remains very real. “The Republican brand is already so damaged,” Duffy says. ”What should be a pretty successful cycle for them is deteriorating by the week.”
The sweet irony of all of this is that all of the GOP's decline in favorability has been self-inflicted thanks to the Tea Party/Christofascist elements of the GOP.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

GOP Senate Candidate Addresses Neo-Confederate Group That Promotes Secessionism

Only in today's Republican Party and in the Deep South will one find a candidate for the United States Senate appearing at a conference of Neo-Confederates who advocate secession.  Welcome to GOP dysfunction writ large.   Seemingly, there is no limit to what is acceptable in today's GOP.  The crazier and more extreme, the more welcome batshitery is within the party base.  All of which, in my view relates back to the rise of the Christofascists in the Republican Party.  Only the broad influence of those who deny science, deny objective reality and oppose all forms of modernity can explain Chris McDaniel who is in the words of Mother Jones, taking the "GOP Civil War" to a new level.  Here are highlights from the Mother Jones piece:

Chris McDaniel is taking the "GOP Civil War" to a new level. Two months ago, the tea party-backed Mississippi Senate candidate addressed a neo-Confederate conference and costume ball hosted by a group that promotes the work of present-day secessionists and contends the wrong side won the "war of southern independence." Other speakers at the event included a historian who believes Lincoln was a Marxist and Ryan Walters, a PhD candidate who worked on McDaniel's first political campaign and wrote recently that the "controversy" over President Barack Obama's birth certificate "hasn't really been solved." 

McDaniel, a state senator, is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in next summer's GOP Senate primary. After announcing his run last week, McDaniel quickly picked up endorsements from the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a prominent backer of the tea party. Both groups are key players in the internal GOP battle between establishment-minded Republicans and tea party insurgents and are backing right-wing challenges to incumbent Republicans whom they deem insufficiently conservative.  

With their endorsements of McDaniel, the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Club for Growth have shown just how far they are willing to go in terms of embracing the far right to prosecute their war for the soul of the party. In August, McDaniel addressed a neo-Confederate conference in Laurel, Miss., near his hometown of Ellisville. A local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), the Jones County Rosin Heels, hosted the two-day event, which the group described in invitations as a "Southern Heritage Conference" for "politically incorrect folks."

The Rosin Heels does more than regret the outcome of the Civil War. Its monthly newsletter routinely features articles and essays advocating for present-day secession. Its August newsletter highlighted the seven-year-old "Burlington Declaration" from the First North American Secession Convention, which stated that the right of secession was a "[truth] of natural law and the human experience."  . . . .A note from the editor stated that "we are living in the times that Jefferson Davis predicted would one day come," in which the conflicts that presaged the Civil War would flare up again. The June issue compared Obama's policies to the ravages of Reconstruction: "Our people have had to put up with for the last FIFTEEN DECADES!!!"

McDaniel was joined at the Southern Heritage Conference by Al Benson, a historian from Louisiana, who talked about his book Red Republicans & Lincoln Marxists, which speculates that Lincoln's actions during the Civil War were influenced by the writings of Karl Marx.

Hobnobbing with birthers and Lost Causers may not be an impediment for McDaniel as he tries to dethrone Cochran—he is, after all, in Mississippi. According a 2011 survey from Public Policy Polling, only 47 percent of Mississippians—and 21 percent of Mississippi Republicans—were satisfied with the outcome of the Civil War.

Again, only in today's insane GOP would folks like McDaniel be taken seriously.

George Will Endorses Sarvis Over Cuccinelli

You know the Republican Party is in deep trouble when they typically right wing George Will endorses a libertarian candidate over a Republican standard bearer.  Yet that is precisely what Will does in a column in the Washington Post.  True, Will holds no love for Democrat Terry McAuliffe, but the fact that he cannot support Ken Cuccinelli speaks volumes about just how extreme - frightening might be a better word - Cuccinelli and his agenda are in reality.  Like many, I feel that neither major party candidate is ideal, but in the last analysis, one sometimes votes for the lesser evil.  Hence my support (and the support of most leading newspapers in Virginia) for Terry McAuliffe.  Apparently, Will cannot hold his nose and vote for McAuliffe, so he is encouraging a vote for Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian Party candidate for governor of Virginia.  Here are column excerpts:

Equanimity is his [Robert Sarvis'] default position and almost his political platform: Why be agitated when your frenzied adversaries are splendidly making your case about the poverty of standard political choices?

In Sarvis, the man and the moment have met. He is running at a time of maximum distrust of established institutions, including the two major parties. He has little money, but McAuliffe and Cuccinelli have spent millions of dollars on broadcast ads making each other repulsive to many Virginians, who surely feel as Will Rogers did: “You got to admit that each party is worse than the other.” Furthermore, the partial shutdown of the government especially annoyed Sarvis’s state, which has the nation’s second highest per-capita federal spending (Alaska is first) — Northern Virginia is a dormitory for federal workers and southern Virginia’s military installations include the world’s largest naval complex

During an intermission in the telecast of a notably disagreeable McAuliffe-Cuccinelli debate, viewers heard from their television sets a woman’s voice asking, “Can’t vote for these guys?” Then Sarvis’s voice:  “Like you, I can’t vote for Ken Cuccinelli’s narrow-minded social agenda. I want a Virginia that’s open-minded and welcoming to all. And like you, I don’t want Terry McAuliffe’s cronyism either, where government picks winners and losers. Join me, and together we can build a Virginia that’s open-minded and open for business.”

Cuccinelli is a stern social conservative, an opponent of, among other things, gay marriage. Marriage equality interests Sarvis (whose mother is Chinese) because his wife is African American, so his marriage would have been illegal in Virginia before the exquisitely titled 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia

Sarvis, who is 37 and may look that old in a decade or so, graduated from Harvard with a mathematics degree, earned a law degree from New York University and clerked in Mississippi for a judge on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. After a spell as a mathematics graduate student at Berkeley, Sarvis worked for a San Francisco tech startup, then earned a master’s degree in economics at George Mason University. In 2011, he ran as a Republican against the state Senate majority leader, a 31-year incumbent. Outspent 72-to-1, Sarvis got 36 percent of the vote.

He must scrounge for media attention because he fares poorly in polls that reinforce the judgment that he is not newsworthy. But he is.

Third-party candidacies are said to be like bees — they sting, then die. Still, Sarvis is enabling voters to register dissatisfaction with the prevailing political duopoly. Markets are information-generating mechanisms, and Virginia’s political market is sending, through Sarvis, signals to the two durable parties.