Friday, September 05, 2014

Safe Arrival in Venice!

It was a grueling trip, but other than making the mistake of flying on US Airways/American Airlines - which separated me and the husband at boarding since the nasty gate attendants refused to recognize us as married although straight couples had no such problems - it was largely uneventful.  The husband and I are regrouping before we go exploring.   The weather is great and I hope to put up a post or so later.  

As for US Airways, I do plan on filing a formal complaint.  To add insult to injury, the gate staff in Philadelphia, two black women named "Asia" and Chanelle," told me that only blacks faced discrimination and that since I  am white, I needed to shut my mouth.  Both acted as if they had been indoctrinated by NOM as part of its plan to drive a wedge between the black and the gay communities.  

After this trip is over, I am going to avoid US Airways like the plague.  EVERY time I fly them it is either a clusterfuck or some kind of unpleasantness takes place.

Getting some much needed alcohol before checking into our hotel!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Bob and Maureen McDonnell Convicted of Corruption

I hope Maureen REALLY enjoyed that dress!!

The Richmond Times Dispatch (as are other news outlets) is reporting that both Bob and Maureen McDonnell have been found guilty of criminal corruption earlier today.  This makes McDonnell the first Virginia governor in the Commonwealth's history to be convicted of a felony.  Part of me feels some sorrow for Bob and Maureen McDonnell who I have known for 20 years.  But another part of me feels no sorrow.  Why?  Because along the way in the pursuit of power, both of them sold their souls.  And not just for money.  Bob McDonnell's lust for power made him further the interests/agenda of vile groups like The Family Foundation and those who hate others based on their skin color or national origin.  None of those are things that a decent Catholic would ever do.  Here are highlights from the Dispatch article:

Bob McDonnell is the first Virginia governor convicted of a felony.

 A federal jury today convicted Virginia’s 71st governor and former first lady Maureen McDonnell on multiple counts in their corruption trial in U.S. District Court.

Bob McDonnell has been convicted on 11 of 13 counts.
Maureen McDonnell has been convicted on nine of 13 counts.
Both McDonnells sobbed openly, but quietly as the verdicts were read. Family members and supporters also wept openly.
Sentencing will be Jan. 6 at 10 a.m.
The Virginian Pilot also aptly notes:
It has been a precipitous fall for Bob McDonnell, who held elective office for 22 years, much of it as a state delegate from Virginia Beach, and as recently as two years ago was a rising star in national Republican politics.
I suspect that the McDonnells will appeal, but it looks like an uphill battle given the number of counts they were each convicted on.  So much for Virginia GOP family values.   Now we need to see Rick Perry and Scott Walker convicted of felonies!!

Bring Back the Party of Lincoln

If one knows the full history of the Republican Party it quickly becomes apparent that today's GOP is an ugly aberration away from what the party once stood for.  Fueling the GOP's decline into something ugly, as I have argued before, have been the Christofascists, many of whom are the modern day descendants of racist Southern whites and white supremacists who are terrified at what they perceive to be the loss of white privilege.  The GOP has transformed from a party of fiscally conservative, socially moderate country club Republicans to a party of religious extremists, robber barons and what my New Orleans belle grandmother would have deemed poor white trash.   A piece in the New York Times seeks to remind us of what the GOP once was and argues that the party needs to return to its roots.  Here are excerpts:
FOR all the differences between establishment Republicans and Tea Party insurgents, their various efforts to rebrand the Grand Old Party tend to start from a common premise: the belief that Ronald Reagan was the quintessential Republican, and that his principle of defending wealth and the wealthy should remain the party’s guiding vision.

In doing so, they misunderstand the party’s longer history. They would do better to look to earlier presidents, and model their new brand on the eras when the Republican Party opposed the control of government by an elite in favor of broader economic opportunity.

The history of the Republican Party is marked by vacillation between its founding principle of opportunity and its domination by the wealthy elite. The party came together in the 1850s in opposition to the wealthy slaveholders who controlled the federal government. Democrats acting on their behalf insisted that America’s primary principle was the Constitution’s protection of property, and they pushed legislation to let planters monopolize the country’s resources at the expense of the working class.

Abraham Lincoln and others recoiled from the idea of government as a prop for the rich. In organizing the Republican Party, they highlighted the equality of opportunity promised in the Declaration of Independence and warned that a healthy economy depended on widespread prosperity. Northerners and hardscrabble Westerners flocked to that vision, and elected Lincoln to the White House in 1860.

Even as the Civil War raged, Republicans made good on their promise: They gave farmers their own land, created public colleges, funded a transcontinental railroad, took control of the national currency away from rich bankers, and ended slavery. To pay for their initiatives, they invented national taxes, including the income tax. The middle class grew, and the North and West, regions covered by the new programs, boomed.

But as soon as the war ended, wealthy Americans joined with those who hated African-Americans and immigrants to insist that slaveholders had been right: Permitting poor men to have a say in government had produced policies that redistributed wealth. Only a few years after building a federal system that cleared the way for equal opportunity, Republicans faced a racist and xenophobic backlash against an active government — and they folded. 

In 1893, the economy crashed, and too few Americans had enough purchasing power to revive it. Lincoln had been right: Government that served the wealthy would ruin the country.

The party responded, and a new Republican Party emerged from the Panic of 1893, rededicated to Lincoln’s vision. Led by Theodore Roosevelt, the progressive Republicans recognized that government had to address the systemic inequalities of industrialization or no man could rise.

They cleaned up the cities, promoted public education, protected workers and regulated business. Their policies fed a strong and growing middle class; their vision resurrected the Republican Party.

It took a new leader who would embrace Lincoln’s principles to return the party to health. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s experiences in World War II convinced him that the only way to prevent the rise of dictators was to promote economic equality around the world. He used the government to desegregate American schools, promote higher education and start the largest public works program in American history, the 1956 Federal-Aid Highway Act.

The consequences were predictable: After Reagan’s 1980 election, economic stability turned into the Great Divergence, in which wealth moved steadily upward. In 2008, the economy crashed.

Twice in its history, the Republican Party regained its direction and popularity after similar disasters by returning to its original defense of widespread individual economic success. The same rebranding is possible today, if Republicans demote Reagan from hero to history and rally to a leader like Lincoln, Roosevelt or Eisenhower — someone who believes that the government should promote economic opportunity rather than protect the rich.

Yes, re-branding is possible, but I do not see how sane, decent people can easily re-brand a party whose base is controlled mostly by extremists and those most motivated by their hatred of others.  I don't see anyone among today's GOP leaders up to the challenge.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Honeymoon Trip and Reduced Posting


In the morning, the husband and I fly out for Venice, Italy via a stop over in Philadelphia on our "honeymoon trip" of sorts. Preparing has been crazy between lining up the house/dog sitter, arranging yard care and me working most of Labor Day weekend and late tonight in an effort to keep office matters under control.  Thankfully, with the law firm merger, I now have much more backup available, but I will nevertheless be checking office e-mail regularly to keep clients happy.  We arrive in Venice on Friday morning and will spend the night before boarding the Norwegian Jade for a 7 night cruise to the Greek Islands of Corfu, Mykonos and Santorini with a stop in Olympia before returning to Venice.  As a lover of history, this trip is a dream come true for me.  I will be posting as time permits while on the trip and providing both photos of the trip and my usual commentary on whatever stories/strikes my fancy.

By sheer coincidence one of our dear and generous friends will be in Santorini while we are there and we will be meeting up with her and her wonderful husband (she was "woman of honor" at our marriage in April).  The cruise will involve two days at sea, so hopefully the husband and I will get some much needed R&R especially in the wake of losing my father-in-law last month.

Should you see stories that you think might be of interest to me, send me the link!  I haven't done so in a while, but thank you to to each and every reader!
The Jade


Louisiana Federal Judge Gets It Wrong and Uphold Gay Marriage Ban

Judge Feldman - homophobe or self-loathing closet case?
While other judges at the state court level have upheld state bans on same sex marriage, since the ruling in United States v. Windsor, no federal judge or Court of Appeals has upheld a state ban until today.  Today, Louisiana Federal Judge Martin Feldman (pictured at left)not only upheld Louisiana's ban, but misconstrued Windsor and, worse yet, equated same sex marriage with opening the doors to legalized incest.  From his opinion, it is unclear if Feldman is simply an asshole, a homophobe or seeking to force the United States Supreme Court to make a definitive ruling by going against the flow of all the other rulings handed down since Windsor.  Whatever Feldman's agenda may be, he misconstrues Windsor which NEVER ruled on state bans because the sole issue before the Court in Windsor was Section 3 of DOMA which controlled FEDERAL recognition of same sex marriages legally performed in states with legalized same sex marriage.  Thus, any statements in Windsor on state legislation on marriage was what's called "dicta" - i.e., nonbinding because it is not central to the issue before the Court.  Most first year law students know better than to cite dicta as governing precedent.  A piece in Towleroad goes further into tearing Feldman's opinion apart.  Here are excerpts:

Louisiana Federal Judge Martin Feldman, a Reagan appointee, has upheld Louisiana's ban on marriage equality in a haphazard opinion remarkable only for its outdated language and subtly hateful rhetoric. Falling into traps we teach law students to avoid, Judge Feldman finds marriage equality as suspect as fathers marrying their daughters and improperly narrows the scope of the case to seeking a "right to same-sex marriage" rather than just "marriage." He suggests that being gay is a "lifestyle choice" and states that such a "choice" is butting heads with the democratic process, something he seems to think is infallible and beyond reproach.

Judge Feldman gets it wrong. The fight for marriage equality is a fight for marriage, not anything special or different than what opposite-sex couples enjoy. Being gay is not a choice and loving someone of the same sex is not a "lifestyle choice": it is love, it is human nature. And permitting gays to marry does not open the door to incestuous marriages, bestial marriages, or polyamorous unions. That kind of slippery slope argument doesn't pass the laugh test. Countless jurisdictions have made the decision to allow gays to marry, a legal policy decision that has no negative health or cohesion effects on society, without improperly permitting marriages that could be damaging to those involved and to children.

Judge Feldman is not the first judge to uphold a ban. He is not even the first to uphold a ban in the post-Windsor era. He is, however, the first federal judge to uphold the constitutionality of a state ban on marriage equality since Windsor, which complicates marriage's journey through the federal courts.

The decision today does not necessarily mean the Supreme Court will have to take one or several marriage equality cases; Judge Feldman could still be overturned by the Fifth Circuit. But it does have several effects:

(1) it makes a circuit split, a key reason the Supreme Court takes cases, more likely;
(2) it provides some measure of legitimacy to anti-equality forces by giving them a victory and resurrecting their outdated and hateful language; and
(3) it denies very real rights to very real families struggling in Louisiana.

Judge Feldman did not spew the kind of hate that comes from the National Organization for Marriage or the Liberty Council or the Westboro Baptist Church. Nor, on the other hand, was he even remotely supportive. Besides calling being gay a "lifestyle choice" (Error 1) and comparing gays marrying to incest (Error 2), he asserted that the right the plaintiffs sought was a "new right," one definitely not steeped in the democratic tradition of this country--namely, a right to same-sex marriage (Error 3).

As the [U.S. Supreme] Court noted in Lawrence v. Texas, when it overturned Bowers, Justice White got it wrong: to limit the discussion to sex is to ignore the reality of why people make love and why they have intimate relationships with others. Judge Feldman also got it wrong. We don't want to get "gay married;" we want to get married. There would be little drawing us to fight if all we were fighting for was our own separate-and-unequal institution of unions.

Today's opinion also assumes that once the supposed Pandora's Box of marriage is open, it won't stop until forks are marrying spoons and knives (Error 4).

Judge Feldman also gets the level of scrutiny wrong. He uses the lowest form of rational basis review, which allows the state to justify its discriminatory laws on "any conceivable basis" (Error 5). But the federal courts, including the Supreme Court in Lawrence and Windsor, have not been using that insanely low bar for some time.

What's more, the particular rational basis on which Judge Feldman hangs his hat -- "linking children to an intact family formed by their two biological parents" -- is so illogical as to be laughable (Error 6). How does banning gays from marrying actually ensure that more children will be born to and be raised by opposite-sex biological parents in wedlock?

It is hard to say what effects this wayward decision will have. The case will go up to the Fifth Circuit, which already has a marriage equality case from Texas (striking down the ban), but the mere fact that Judge Feldman upheld the ban will not necessarily weigh in the ban's favor up at the circuit court. Matters of law, as attorneys say, are reviewed de novo, from the beginning, regardless of the conclusions below. However, the mere fact of having an antiequality opinion on the books gives some measure of legitimacy to the right's outdated, hateful, antigay arguments. But we've come back from far worse antigay rhetoric from federal judges. For most of us, this will be a single opinion discarded to the trash bin soon. But for the residents of Louisiana, it is another wound that will take a lot longer to heal.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

For McDonnell Jury, It’s Back to the Basics

Virginia's ongoing soap opera - i.e., the criminal corruption trial of Bob and Maureen McDonnell - has now moved into waiting mode much like the summer wait for the answer of who shot JR on the old Dallas series.  The case has gone to the jury which received over two hours of instructions from the presiding federal judge.  A column in the Richmond Times Dispatch looks at the waiting game which, no matter the result will leave Virginia looking like a corrupt banana republic politically.  Here are highlights:

And with that, we will send you out to begin your deliberations,” said U.S. District Court Judge James Spencer, concluding — after 2 hours and 10 minutes Tuesday — his detailed instructions to jurors in the Bob and Maureen McDonnell corruption trial. “You take your time. It’s your business now.”

Moments later, as the jurors filed out of Spencer’s seventh-floor courtroom, the prosecutors, the defense lawyers and the accused rose in the customary gesture of respect for the seven men and five women whose decisions could lead to the once-unthinkable: a former Virginia governor and his wife behind bars.

To convict or acquit Bob and Maureen on any and all of 26 counts requires the agreement of all 12 jurors. An 8-4 vote won’t cut it. A unanimous vote is mandatory to find the McDonnells guilty or not guilty.

Also, the trial could yield multiple verdicts, muddying a case that prosecutors represented as a clear example of government-for-sale.

The jury could convict Bob and Maureen on some charges; deadlock on others. If there’s a hung jury on certain counts, Spencer could direct jurors to keep working. Were the jury unsuccessful, he could declare a mistrial on the outstanding counts. The verdict on resolved charges would stand. The U.S. Justice Department might attempt a do-over on the unsettled issues.

For instance, Bob could be convicted on a single count of bank fraud; specifically, failing to disclose loans from the protected-from-prosecution Jonnie Williams Sr. on a refi application for the McDonnells’ cash-hemorrhaging resort properties.
Maureen, alone, could be found guilty of obstructing a criminal investigation. After she had been questioned by state police in 2013 on her relationship with Williams, Maureen returned the $20,000 in designer clothing he bought for her in New York. The togs were accompanied by a note in which Maureen said she’d planned to give them back. The government says she was trying to mislead investigators.
The government, Spencer said in his instructions, is not required to produce a contract or expressed agreement to a conspiracy. Plus, it’s not necessary to prove the scheme was successful; unsuccessful schemes are illegal, too.
Further, this corruption case does not require, nor does it rely on, an explicit exchange of goods for services, the so-called quid pro quo. The law recognizes — and the courts have affirmed — that such a trade could be based on a knowing wink and nod.

As for the penalties the McDonnells could face, they’re tougher for bank fraud than corruption.
A conviction for false statements to a federally insured financial institution carries a sentence of up to 30 years and a $1 million fine.
Twenty years is the maximum prison term on each of the corruption charges: conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud; honest-services wire fraud; obtaining property under color of official right; conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right, and obstruction of an official proceeding. These offenses can also carry financial penalties.
All in all, this case has been a train wreck for Virginia, but especially for GOP's pretense of upholding "family values."

Judge Richard Posner: The Last Honest Conservative?

There once was a time when being a conservative did not automatically mean that one was a far right Christian extremist, a racist, a greed driven would be oligarch, or some combination of the three.  Also, conservatives once honored knowledge and honesty.  Those days, sadly, are long gone and today's self-pronounced conservatives are more midway barkers or charlatans selling snake oil than honest politicians (yes, its an oxymoron) when they are not preaching the defacto establishment of conservative Christianity as the national religion.  Given how ugly most conservatives have become, it was a breath of fresh air to see Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals speak out honestly during the recent oral arguments on the Wisconsin and Indiana same sex marriage bans.  A piece in Salon again looks at the startling honesty of Posner's comments and questions to those supporting state sponsored discrimination.  Here are highlights:
Judge Richard Posner has written nearly 40 books, hundreds of articles and thousands of judicial opinions. He is, by far, the most cited legal scholar alive today (probably ever). Nominated by Ronald Reagan, he sits on the United States Court of Appeals, just below the Supreme Court. He has publicly feuded with Justice Antonin Scalia over how judges actually decide, and should decide, cases. And, over the last year, he has spoken truth to power in three high-profile cases all likely to be decided by the Supreme Court.

On issues of abortion, same-sex marriage and religious objections to Obamacare, Posner said exactly what needed to be said with honest, unequivocal and, to some perhaps, startling clarity.

The University of Notre Dame didn’t want to provide certain forms of required contraception to its students and employees so it went to court seeking a religious exemption. The bizarre thing about the case is Notre Dame was already exempt. What it wanted was not to fill out the form that would have guaranteed the university an exemption. Notre Dame claimed, to most people’s disbelief, that filling out the short form and asking for the exemption was itself a substantial burden on its religious exercise.

Posner would have none of it. At the oral argument, he took a harsh tone with the lawyer for Notre Dame who refused again and again to answer directly how filling out a piece of paper could possibly be a “substantial burden on religion.”

Eventually, Notre Dame lost (the court of appeals uses three-judge panels) and the final opinion written by Posner said this:  . . . . What makes this case and others like it involving the contraception exemption paradoxical and virtually unprecedented is that the beneficiaries of the religious exemption are claiming that the exemption process itself imposes a substantial burden on their religious faiths …

A few months later, Posner, again along with two other judges, reviewed the validity of a brand-new Wisconsin law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

In affirming the stay, Posner noted that “no documentation of medical need for such an admitting privileges requirement was presented to the Wisconsin legislature when the bill that became the law was introduced.” He also noted that no “other procedure performed outside a hospital, even one as invasive as a surgical abortion (such as a colonoscopy) …  and even if performed when the patient is under general anesthesia … is required by Wisconsin law to be performed by doctors who have admitting privileges at hospitals within a specified, or indeed any, radius of the clinic at which the procedure is performed.”  Posner added that the risks of colonoscopies are three to six times greater than the risks of abortions. . . . .

Finally, Posner was recently one of three judges to hear oral argument in a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin and Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage. Although the case has not yet been decided, there is no question how Posner will vote. When the lawyer for Wisconsin justified the ban based on “tradition,” Posner responded by saying “It was tradition to not allow blacks and whites to marry — a tradition that got swept away.” He also said the ban stems from “a tradition of hate … and savage discrimination” against same-sex couples.

Posner thought it was “obvious” that filling out a form cannot possibly be a substantial burden on religion, that the state of Wisconsin and Indiana didn’t care one bit about women’s health when it decided to require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at hospitals, and that bans on same-sex marriage have little to do with permissible concerns Wisconsin may have about marriage and children and everything to do with unlawful and arbitrary discrimination. As a matter of law he is right about all three cases. As a matter of politics, we will have to wait until the Supreme Court decides to have our final answers.
 We need many more judges like Posner on the bench at both the state and federal level.  We need far fewer like Antonin Scalia.

Has the GOP Finally Scorched Itself?

In their effort to block any successes by the Obama administration, the Congressional Republicans have employed non-stop obstructionism and a scorched earth policy of seeking to destroy every Obama initiative.  There's a good reason why the GOP has become known as the "Party of No" even as it time and time again demonstrates that it has no legislative proposals of its own to address pressing issues such as immigration reform, access to health care, the country's fraying infrastructure, etc.  Are enough Americans finally waking up to the reality of what today's GOP is really all about that they will rally and block the forces of religious extremism and white supremacy (and let's not forget greed) that fuel the GOP base?  A column in The Daily Beast looks at this question.   Here are excerpts:
So now it’s officially campaign season, the fourth and last of the Obama era. The 2008 election saw Obama’s ascendant America rise up after eight conservative years and announce itself. For the 2010 election, the other America was able to gather its armies (if you’re a good political junkie, you’ll get the reference)  and say to Obama’s America, “We hate everything you’re doing, and we’re going to stop you.” In the 2012 contest, Obama’s America managed to reassert itself with more ferocity than most experts expected. The three elections were all about the same thing—hope for this new future the Obama coalition seemed to augur, or fear of it.

Now? The hope tank is running on fumes. . . . As for the fear, well, it’s still present, of course, and it may yet exist at a level of intensity great enough give Republicans a Senate majority. But it could also be that the Republicans have scorched so much earth these past six years that it’s finally starting to singe their own boot heels. Thus, the Democrats’ best hope for November: that enough voters in enough key states are sicker of the Republicans than of them.Encouragingly, we’re starting to see a little bit of evidence that this may finally be the case. Politico posted an interesting piece Monday detailing how Republicans, who just two or three months ago were speaking expansively of vigorous gains in the House, were now dialing back the expectations meter from 25-plus seats to under half that.

It’s been no secret that the GOP’s basic m.o. for the last six years has been to oppose everything Obama proposes. What is less clearly understood, however, is why. The reason is usually assumed to be ideological fervor, and while Lord knows there’s plenty of that, I think that the real reason for the wall of total opposition, especially among the savvier obstructionists, is something slightly subtler and more tactical—it’s to make Obama look feckless and weak, like a president who can’t pass a kidney stone.

You see, they know very well that the average American knows very little about how Washington works . . . . . while it makes both parties and Washington as a whole look bad, inescapably makes the Democrats look worse, because the Democrats are the party of government, so when government fails, that breakdown bleeds its way into the collective public consciousness as more of a Democratic failure than a Republican one.

[I]f this election works out reasonably well for the Democrats, it will be because that changed—because the Republicans finally pushed it too far. They’re going to keep control of the House, obviously, but if they fail to gain many seats—25 pickups for the out-party is the average in the last half-century—it will be a sign that even an off-year electorate (i.e., fewer base-Democratic voters) is catching on to the con. And if they don’t take the Senate . . . then it will be clear enough that the voters didn’t want to give a party that’s behaved as the GOP has these recent years even more power.

And if the opposite happens, well, then the Republicans will carry on as they have, but only more so.

Too much of Obama’s America is just too worn down. In that sense, the scorched-earth campaign has won. But Republicans should remember that in 2016, that America will be back, and bigger by a few percentage points than before, and still hungry to win the fights the obstructionists have blocked.

I for one hope the GOP fails to take the Senate, but if it does and causes the nation to lose two more years in addressing its pressing problems, I hope 2016 will see a blood bath for the GOP - one that will be much deserved by a party which has put partisanship ahead of the good of the country.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Dallas Cowboys Plan to Sign Michael Sam to Practice Squad

Years ago when I lived in Houston, I began being a fan of the Dallas Cowboys because the Houston Oilers were nothing short of terrible - an embarrassment to the city of Houston.  When I moved back to Virginia, the abundance of obnoxious Washington Red Skin fans - most of whom had no ties whatsoever to Washington - made remaining a Cowboys fan look worthwhile.  Now, there may be another reason to cheer the Cowboys: the NFL is reporting that the Cowboys plan on signing Michael Sam to their practice team.  Here are some highlights from

Michael Sam's NFL journey isn't over yet.

The Dallas Cowboys plan to bring the free-agent defensive end in for a physical on Wednesday, a team source told NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. If the rookie passes, Sam will be added to the team's practice squad.

The seventh-round pick of the Rams cleared waivers on Sunday after St. Louis released him during their roster reduction to 53 men. NFL Media columnist Michael Silver reported that coach Jeff Fisher "remains a fan" but the Rams needed practice help at other positions due to injury concerns.
The NFL's first openly gay player racked up 2.5 sacks this preseason and led the Rams with six tackles in Thursday night's preseason loss to the Miami Dolphins.

The Cowboys spent Tuesday calling their own players to gauge reaction to making Sam a Cowboy. With the Rams out of the picture, Dallas looms as a solid fit for last year's SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year because of the team's 4-3 scheme and a desperate need for help on defense.

A Disingenuous Christofascists Trope: I Don't Hate Gay People, But..."

Have you noticed how the professional Christian set and some of the worse homophobes in the Republican Party will state that they don't hate gays yet then qualify their statement with the word "but" and then proceed to say all kinds of vile, hate filled things about gays (e.g., we are diseased, perverts, child molesters, etc.), seeking to denigrate and stigmatize us in the process.  Simply saying that you don't hate someone does not mean that you do not, in fact, hate them.  Using the "but" qualifier merely demonstrates the hypocrisy of these people or their belief that their audience is either comprised of simpletons or other haters who will pick up on the "dog whistle" phraseology.  A piece in The New Civil Rights Movement looks at this disingenuous phenomenon.  Here are excerpts:
Something remarkable took place [last] this week. Richard Posner, . . .  a conservative federal appeals court judge, a man appointed by Ronald Reagan, (genuflect here) who looks and sounds like he came from central casting in response to a request for a cantankerous jurist, asked the attorney defending Wisconsin's same-sex marriage ban if hatred of gay people isn't the real genesis of the law. Even better, he didn't ask it like a man looking for an answer. He asked it like a man making an accusation. It isn't everyday you get to hear a federal judge demand a gay rights adversary recognize for the record what the gay community has always known. Irrational, unreasonable hatred of gay citizens has allowed them to be assaulted, arrested, disrespected, deprived of their human and civil  rights, and treated like second class citizens. That's the destructive energy that fuels the states' marriage equality prohibitions.

There seems to be a new strategy afoot by the anti-gay forces, who for years have been successful at depriving gay Americans of equal treatment by vilifying them. For the last half century, since the time when Harvey Milk urged gays to "come out, come out wherever you are," every passing year makes that character attack less productive. It was one thing when gays could be cast as deviants and criminals and mentally ill, but people don't like their sons and brothers and friends called names and disrespected. As a result, the traditional "God hates fags" rhetoric has been softening. Gay rights opponents are transitioning to a new, more devious posture. The words may sound kinder, but the message is not. 

The same politicians, pundits and priests who once stood proudly and proclaimed their opposition to gays with words like "abomination", now preface their anti-gay remarks with a phrase like: "I don't hate gay people, but..." or "I have nothing against gay people but..." I named this tactic the "gay but" a few years ago after Rick Santorum was ballsy enough to speak those very words on camera.

What you need to remember about the "gay but" phenomenon is that what comes after "I don't hate gays but..." is usually an example of the hatred the speaker has just denied.

The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology defines hate as a:
"deep, enduring, intense emotion expressing animosity, anger, and hostility towards a person, group, or object." Because hatred is believed to be long-lasting, many psychologists consider it to be more of an attitude or disposition than a temporary emotional state.
So do we know anyone who fits that "deep enduring hostility" description? How about the two anti-gay presidential contenders pictured at the top of this page: Rick Santorum, who compared gay sex with bestiality and Mike Huckabee, who blamed gays for the Sandy Hook massacre? Not so long ago, both of those gentlemen were proud to be leading the homophobe circus parade.

Surprise! Rick Santorum still thinks gay marriage must be fought like the terrorism that gave us 9/11, but Rick Santorum 2.0 does not hate gays. Here's what he said:
"I have nothing, absolutely nothing against anyone who’s homosexual. If that’s their orientation, then I accept that..."
And do you know who else doesn't hate gays? Mike Huckabee. Yes, he still doesn't think gay people should be able to marry or adopt, but here's what the new and improved Mike Huckabee said at the Iowa Faith and Freedom convention:
“I’m not against anybody. I’m really not. I’m not a hater. I’m not homophobic. I honestly don’t care what people do personally in their individual lives..."
These new "I have nothing against gays" demurrals seems to be catching on among conservatives. Of course, the truth is the hatred is still there, and it's not hard to find. It's usually on display on the other side of that "gay but".

Every one of those "I don't hate gays" statements is an oxymoron. A contradiction in terms: I don't hate gays but... here's how I hate gays.

Judge Posner asked an audacious question about the genesis of the same-sex marriage ban:
"It’s based on hate, isn’t it?"
I look forward to the day when the vast majority of Americans will see these folks for what they are: hate filled demagogues who need to be shunned by decent people.  

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty

GOP Falling Short in Midterms

Some strategists are now believing that the GOP tidal wave in the 2014 midterm elections that some spoke of only months ago may not come to pass.  For decent, working Americans, this is, of course, good news and one can only hope that the newer predictions are more accurate that the boasts of a few months ago.  Yes, the GOP will seek to use it pretend respect for "Christian values" and the increasingly open racism of the Party base to convince the extremists and ignoramuses of the base to vote against their own true interests, but one can only hope some will stop drinking the Kool-Aid and open their eyes and minds to reality.  A piece in Politico looks at the prospects in the House of Representatives.  Here are some excerpts:

Tepid fundraising, underperforming candidates and a lousy party brand are threatening to deprive House Republicans of the sweeping 2014 gains that some top party officials have been predicting this year.

POLITICO interviewed more than a dozen top strategists from both parties about their outlook for the House in the midterms, and their assessment was nearly unanimous: Republicans are on track to expand their majority by only five or six seats, or roughly half their goal. The conversations covered everything from advertising strategies to fundraising to polling.

With the post-Labor Day homestretch kicking off, the interviews revealed:

* Republicans are convinced they’ll be significantly outspent by Democrats — in contrast to the 2010 midterm election when the GOP overwhelmed their opponents with an avalanche of cash.

* GOP strategists are particularly worried about the performance of a handful of candidates who are well positioned to win but seen as running poor campaigns. Three candidates are mentioned repeatedly: Florida Rep. Steve Southerland, Nebraska Rep. Lee Terry and Virginia Republican Barbara Comstock.

* Nearly a year after the government shutdown, Republicans privately say the party’s tattered public image is dragging down candidates in key races.

From a historic perspective, a five- or six-seat gain would be a disappointment for the GOP. Since 1950, the party out of the White House during the sixth year of a presidency has gained an average of 25 seats. In the most recent midterm election, Republicans swamped Democrats across the country en route to a 63-seat gain.

Another problem is self-inflicted: fundraising. Despite having the benefit of the party’s majority status in the House, the NRCC has been outraised by its Democratic counterpart by $27 million. The Democratic cash advantage will play out on TV screens this fall: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has booked $43.5 million for TV ads in 36 districts, while the NRCC has reserved just $30 million in 26 districts, according to party officials.
As for the U.S. Senate, some now also wonder if GOP bragging may end up being more hot air than reality.   Another Politico piece looks at the Senate contests.  Here are highlights:

So where’s the wave? This is President Obama’s sixth-year-itch election. The map of states with contested Senate seats could hardly be better from the Republicans’ vantage point. And the breaks this year—strong candidates, avoidance of damaging gaffes, issues such as Obamacare and immigration that stir the party base—have mainly gone the GOP’s way, very unlike 2012.

Nonetheless, the midterms are far from over. In every single one of the Crystal Ball’s toss-up states, (Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana and North Carolina), the Republican Senate candidate has not yet opened up a real polling lead in any of them. Democratic nominees have been running hard and staying slightly ahead, or close to, their Republican foes.

A year ago, it was not hard to find Republican leaders who privately believed the party could score a dramatic breakthrough in the Senate, with the GOP emerging with perhaps 55 or 56 seats. This objective was vital not just for the jousting during President Obama’s final two years in the White House. At least as important is the fact that the GOP sees a much less friendly Senate map in 2016, when it will have to defend 24 of 34 seats, including incumbents elected in 2010 in Democratic states such as Illinois, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In addition, presidential year turnouts usually draw far more minority and young voters to the polls, most of whom reliably vote Democratic from top to bottom of the ballot. A thin GOP Senate majority created this November could turn out to be very short-lived.

Republicans have a terrible record of beating incumbent Democratic senators, going back to their last good year in this category, 1980. There is no obvious way for the GOP to gain the six seats necessary for control without taking down some incumbent Democrats, a task at which Republicans have struggled—they haven’t beaten more than two Democratic Senate incumbents since that huge 1980 landslide.