Friday, November 30, 2012

Nate Silver Takes A Shot At Politico

Terminology: War on Christmas

The War on Christmas:

1.) When someone has the temerity to recognize that there are other holidays at the end of the year besides Christmas.

2.) When religious conservatives are not allowed to put Christmas decor wherever they want, including public property funded by taxpayers of various faiths.

Congressman Shuler's Conflict of Interest

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Christmas Card From Republicans

Dueling Homophobes

Churches "Probably" To Blame For Anti-Gay Attitudes

Of course anyone with functioning brain cells knows for a fact that religious institutions of various sorts have a high degree of responsibility for anti-gay attitudes here and abroad. Remember those North Carolina pastors? One said gays and lesbians should be put behind electrified fences. Another said that if a boy is acting effeminate or a girl is acting tomboyish, it is okay to hit them. These are the kinds of things all too many church leaders are saying from the pulpit to captive audiences. Meanwhile, you have Tony Perkins (president of the so-called Family Research Council) and Scott Lively cheering on the Ugandan Parliament as it is on its way to passing the now-infamous "Kill The Gays" bill. Rick Warren should know that there is ZERO doubt that parts of the faith community (though not all) bare a lot of responsibility for the hate-filled sentiment projected towards the LGBT community.

Every Obama Conspiracy Theory Ever!!!

Obama is planning FEMA concentration camps: Again with the camps. This theory got a big boost from Glenn Beck (who claims he didn't mean anything by it). Related: An executive order titled, "National Defense Resources Preparedness," was issued in the middle of March 2012. Conservative commentators saw it as a martial law power-grab that allowed the president to commandeer farmland, steal everyone's food, and draft any American into slave labor for a war of aggression against Iran. Also, he has a "secret vault" at Interpol's headquarters for imprisoning Americans. (Chuck Norris is on the case.)

Obama wants to confiscate your IRA: sent out an message ad claiming that Obama wants to seize your retirement account by force.
Obama caused the BP oil spill: Conspiracy-minded radio host Alex Jones promoted the theory that the Deepwater Horizon spill was all part of the administration's plans of oil nationalization and global government.
Obama was behind the Aurora massacre: In July, Gun Owners of America blasted out a press release claiming that the mass murder at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, was suspiciously timed. "Someone in Washington" was probably behind it, paving the way for Obama-led firearm confiscation and "government genocide."
Obama personally caused Hurricane Sandy: It wasn’t global warming that made Sandy so intense; it was Barack. Alex Jones' site reported the president engineered the storm using a Pentagon weather modification project. The mayhem caused by the hurricane would afford Obama the opportunity to score points by briskly managing disaster relief a week before the election.

There are SOOOOO many more where those came from.

Dr. Oz on Reparative Therapy

From his blog:

"...I felt that we needed to include all parties who have considered reparative therapy to hear the stories of people who have tried these treatments.  Although some viewers may disagree with this tactic, if we want to reach everyone who might benefit from understanding the risks of this therapy, you have to present multiple perspectives.  Based on the need to pass the September 30 California law banning the practice in minors and continued media attention on groups advocating both sides of the reparative therapy decision, the debate continues and the venue is often basements and backrooms.

Some guests argued that they have been changed thru these treatments, but I was overwhelmed by the pain of individuals hurt by the experience.  After listening to both sides of the issue and after reviewing the available medical data, I agree with the established medical consensus.  I have not found enough published data supporting positive results with gay reparative therapy and I have concerns about the potentially dangerous effects when the therapy fails, especially when minors are forced into treatments..."

h/t Joe.My.God

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Last Republican

Money In Politics

VCU Coach Fired For Being Gay?

From GayRVA:

For eight years James Finley went to work for VCU’s women’s volleyball team. For eight years he poured his heart and soul into his team of women. And on Monday November 19th, James Finley was fired. Finley says the reasons for his contract termination are simple. It wasn’t his winning record. It wasn’t his personal commitment to the team. It wasn’t the move to a tougher competing conference his team earned under his guidance. According to Finley, it was because he was openly gay.

Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin came into VCU’s athletics department in July 2012. He was hailed for his previous work at Niagara University, American University, and Merrimack College. VCU’s bio page for McLaughlin quotes him saying ““We have the ability to have a national impact in everything we do, and do it without compromise.” Unfortunately, to people like Finley, that lack of compromise includes not having LGBT individuals on his staff.

The VCU Women’s Volleyball season went well for Finley. He and his women entered the Atlantic 10 Conference, a step up in difficulty and glory from their previous seasons in the CAA. People picked the Rams to take 6th place. Instead they took 3rd, with a final record of 25-6 overall in the regular season- they got as far as the semi finals – a solid standing for a team in their first A10 championship.

On Nov. 19th, the Monday after they returned from the championships, Coach Finley had a message waiting for him from AD McLaughlin’s secretary. “They wanted a confidential meeting,” said Finley. He figured it was to discuss his contract renewal – most VCU coaches are on year-to-year contracts, and at the end of seasons, coaches and administration get together to discuss their future together.

Last year’s conversation between Finley and the former AD went normally. “They asked me to win more and have a better APR – graduation rate,” said Finley. “And we had a perfect graduation score and a 25-6 season.”
But when Finley met with McLaughlin this time, the conversation was different. “He said they wanted to go in a different direction,” said Finley. The new direction did not include Finley as the head coach of his team. It did not include Finley on staff at all.

This is why Virginia needs an employment non-discrimination act that protects the LGBT community from bigotry like this. I wasn't full convinced until I read what the actual team members had to say about the situation, the coach, and the athletic director. It is pretty damning.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ex-Gay Therapists Sued For Failure (Finally)

From CNN:

Bruck and three male plaintiffs contend they were defrauded by JONAH's claim that "being gay is a mental disorder" that could be reversed by conversion therapy -- "a position rejected by the American Psychiatric Association four decades ago," the lawsuit said.

The therapy, which can cost up to $10,000 a year, put them at risk of "depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior," while giving them no benefits, the suit said.

Jo Bruck, Sheldon's mother, and Bella Levin, the mother of plaintiff Chaim Levin, are also plaintiffs because they paid for their sons' conversion therapy and the counseling the suit said they needed to recover from it.

The conversion therapy techniques included having them strip naked in group sessions, cuddling and intimate holding of others of the same-sex, violently beating an effigy of their mothers with a tennis racket, visiting bath houses "in order to be nude with father figures," and being "subjected to ridicule as 'faggots' and 'homos' in mock locker room scenarios," the suit said.

"As long as you put in the effort, you're going to change," Goldberg told Bruck in the summer of 2009, the lawsuit said.

JONAH counselor Thaddeus Heffner blamed Bruck's gay orientation "on Bruck for not working hard enough to change, on his father for being too distant, and on his mother for being too close to him," the suit said.

Bruck quit after five sessions, delivered through an online video link, because he "experienced deepening depression and anxiety leading to suicidal ideation and feelings of hopelessness about his life," the suit said.

Yet again, it is shown that "reparative therapy" is not reparative, nor is it therapeutic.

SCOTUS Marriage Precedents

Obviously AFER has done their homework, which is why I'm glad that they are so involved in fighting for marriage equality.

Salvation Army's Discriminatory Policies

America Blog is asking LGBT shoppers and allies to give downloadable "vouchers" to Salvation Army bell ringers in lieu of cash in an effort to let the organization know that "bigotry is not a Christmas value," according to blogger John Aravosis.

"The Salvation Army discriminates against gay people, and discriminating donors should find another charity this Christmas than evangelical bigots who advocate against our civil rights," Aravosis writes. "And not just that –- they’ve actively lobbied against pro-gay policies in a number of countries as well."
Of course, it isn't the first time the Salvation Army's conservative view of homosexuality has been brought to attention. "The Salvation Army has a history of active discrimination against gays and lesbians. While you might think you're helping the hungry and homeless by dropping a few dollars in the bright red buckets, not everyone can share in the donations," Bil Browning noted on The Bilerico Project last year. "The organization also has a record of actively lobbying governments worldwide for anti-gay policies -- including an attempt to make consensual gay sex illegal."

Indeed, as Browning pointed out, the group's position statements reveal a somewhat rigid outlook on LGBT lifestyles. "Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex," one statement reads. "The Salvation Army believes, therefore, that Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life. There is no scriptural support for same-sex unions as equal to, or as an alternative to, heterosexual marriage."

Associated Press Nixes "Homophobia"

From Politico:

The Associated Press has nixed "homophobia," "ethnic cleansing," and a number of other terms from its Style Book in recent months.
The online Style Book now says that "-phobia," "an irrational, uncontrollable fear, often a form of mental illness" should not be used "in political or social contexts," including "homophobia" and "Islamophobia." It also calls "ethnic cleansing" a "euphemism," and says the AP "does not use 'ethnic cleansing' on its own. It must be enclosed in quotes, attributed and explained."

"Ethnic cleansing is a euphemism for pretty violent activities, a phobia is a psychiatric or medical term for a severe mental disorder. Those terms have been used quite a bit in the past, and we don't feel that's quite accurate," AP Deputy Standards Editor Dave Minthorn told POLITICO.

"When you break down 'ethnic cleansing,' it's a cover for terrible violent activities. It's a term we certainly don't want to propgate," Minthorn continued. "Homophobia especially -- it's just off the mark. It's ascribing a mental disability to someone, and suggests a knowledge that we don't have. It seems inaccurate. Instead, we would use something more neutral: anti-gay, or some such, if we had reason to believe that was the case." 

"We want to be precise and accurate and neutral in our phrasing," he said.

The changes made to the online Style Book will appear in next year's printed edition.

Monday, November 26, 2012

U.S. State Dept. on Uganda's "Kill The Gays" Bill

Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokesperson, said during a daily briefing Monday that Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson met with high-profile leaders in Uganda “over the weekend” and raised concerns about the bill, which among other things would punish homosexual acts with life in prison. The questioning was initiated by the Washington Blade.
“As we have regularly said, we call on the parliament of Uganda to look very carefully at this because Uganda’s own Human Rights Council has made clear that if this were to pass, it would put the country out of compliance with its own international human rights obligations,” Nuland said. “And so, Assistant Secretary Carson had a chance to make that point again and our strong opposition to this, to the president, to the parliament and to key decision makers in Uganda.”
Nuland also affirmed media reports from last week that the legislation has passed out of the Legal & Parliamentary Affairs Committee, saying, “Our understanding is that a version of the bill has now passed the committee in Uganda.”
U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Scott H. DeLisi was quoted in a Ugandan newspaper as saying the United States has “decided to continue giving aid to Uganda,” but that was in response to misuse of foreign aid and not the anti-gay bill.
Nuland declined to directly answer a question from the Blade about whether the State Department was considering whether to cut foreign aid from Uganda if the legislation becomes law.
“I’m not going to get into any hypothetical situations,” Nuland said. “Our focus now is on raising awareness of the concerns within Uganda about this bill, so we don’t get to that stage.”
Asked by another reporter about whether a pledge to cut aid would be “a good, strong point to make” if the United States opposes the bill, Nuland said she won’t “make prospective points from the podium here about where we might go if this bill passes.”
Nuland refocused attention to talks within the country, saying, “I think there is a very intense conversation going on inside Uganda about this, and the far better course of action would be for the bill not to pass.”

Overturning Citizens United

Florida Republicans Admit to Voter Suppression

Wayne Bertsch, who handles local and legislative races for Republicans, said he knew targeting Democrats was the goal. “In the races I was involved in in 2008, when we started seeing the increase of turnout and the turnout operations that the Democrats were doing in early voting, it certainly sent a chill down our spines. And in 2008, it didn’t have the impact that we were afraid of. It got close, but it wasn’t the impact that they had this election cycle,” Bertsch said, referring to the fact that Democrats picked up seven legislative seats in Florida in 2012 despite the early voting limitations.
Another GOP consultant, who did not want to be named, also confirmed that influential consultants to the Republican Party of Florida were intent on beating back Democratic turnout in early voting after 2008.

[...]A GOP consultant who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution said black voters were a concern. “I know that the cutting out of the Sunday before Election Day was one of their targets only because that’s a big day when the black churches organize themselves,” he said.
This information comes to us by a report from the Palm Beach Post, where you can read more about Florida Republicans suppressing the state's voters.

Believe In God Or Go To Jail

From AlterNet:

In Kentucky, a homeland security law requires the state’s citizens to acknowledge the security provided by the Almighty God--or risk 12 months in prison. 

The law and its sponsor, state representative Tom Riner, have been the subject of controversy since the law first surfaced in 2006, yet the Kentucky state Supreme Court has refused to review its constitutionality, despite clearly violating the First Amendment’s separation of church and state.
"This is one of the most egregiously and breathtakingly unconstitutional actions by a state legislature that I've ever seen," said Edwin Kagin, the legal director of American Atheists', a national organization focused defending the civil rights of atheists. American Atheists’ launched a lawsuit against the law in 2008, which won at the Circuit Court level, but was then overturned by the state Court of Appeals. 
The law states, "The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God as set forth in the public speeches and proclamations of American Presidents, including Abraham Lincoln's historic March 30, 1863, presidential proclamation urging Americans to pray and fast during one of the most dangerous hours in American history, and the text of President John F. Kennedy's November 22, 1963, national security speech which concluded: "For as was written long ago: 'Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.'"
The law requires that plaques celebrating the power of the Almighty God be installed outside the state Homeland Security building--and carries a criminal penalty of up to 12 months in jail if one fails to comply. The plaque’s inscription begins with the assertion, “The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God.”

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Are Liberals Smarter Than Conservatives?

I want to specifically point out something the David mentioned, that the fear centers in the brain are generally larger in conservatives. When you take into account the fear-based tactics used by many conservative politicians, this makes sense. In terms of being against marriage equality, we hear all sorts of doomsday scenarios; the breakdown of society (which has not happened in the countries that have marriage equality nationally), the potential damage done to children (which is not backed by fact), that it could lead to people marrying animals (again, this has not happened in nations with marriage equality). We see it in other policy areas. Remember in the run-up to our invasion of Iraq, Condoleezza Rice said that we should not let the smoking gun (for Iraq having weapons of mass destruction) be a mushroom cloud? Fear is in constant use by the political right here in the States. I think we now know why.

Marriage Equality In Arizona?

Buoyed by four victories nationwide, a Scottsdale man has taken the first steps to asking Arizonans to overturn their ban on gay marriage.
Tanner Pritts has formed Arizona Advocates for Marriage Equality. But he also has filed the necessary paperwork with the Secretary of State's Office to allow him to start raising money for a 2014 campaign.
Pritts conceded to Capitol Media Services he is a political novice at ballot measures. In fact, the Scottsdale resident said he is just 22.

The initiative drive, if successful, would put the issue back on the ballot just six years after Arizonans voted by a 56-44 margin to define marriage in the state constitution as solely between one man and one woman.

But Pritts said he is heartened by the results of elections elsewhere.

"Obviously, we believe the demographics of the nation are changing," he said.

"We feel that Arizona is, too," Pritts continued. "And we think we have a shot."

Earlier this month, voters in Maryland, Maine and Washington approved measures which specifically provide for same-sex marriage, the kind of measure Pritts said he wants in Arizona. And in Minnesota, voters turned down a bid to enact the kind of ban that exists here.

Whether any of that means anything in Arizona, however, is another question...
 You can find Arizona Advocates For Marriage Equality on Facebook.

Post-DADT Retention & Recruitment

From the United States Department of Defense:
All four active services met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal 2012:

-- Army: 60,490 accessions, for 104 percent of its goal of 58,000;
-- Navy: 36,329 accessions, for 100 percent of its goal of 36,275;
-- Marine Corps: 30,514 accessions, for 100 percent of its goal of 30,500;
-- Air Force: 29,037 accessions, for 100 percent of its goal of 29,037. 

The Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force all exhibited strong retention through fiscal 2012. 

Five of the six reserve components met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal 2012:

-- Army Reserve: 26,041 accessions, for 97 percent of its goal of 26,875;
-- Army National Guard: 47,997 accessions, for 104 percent of its goal of 46,000;
-- Navy Reserve: 8,269 accessions, for 100 percent of its goal of 8,255;
-- Marine Corps Reserve: 8,910 accessions, for 100 percent of its goal of 8,910;
-- Air National Guard: 9,437 accessions, for 115 percent of its goal of 8,210;
-- Air Force Reserve: 8,116 accessions, for 101 percent of its goal of 8,031.
All reserve components are on target to achieve their fiscal attrition goals.
Remember how Republicans and social conservative said that the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell would have people leaving the military in droves? Apparently, that did not happen. Yet another doomsday scenario they predicted that has not come to pass. These people should really get out of the soothsaying business because they are terrible at it.

The GOP vs. Mitt Romney

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tweet of the Day: November 20, 2012

The FAST Voting Act

I'm glad I voted for him in 2008. It is ridiculous that in the land of the free, people have to wait in line for several hours on end to exercise a right that so many men and women throughout the years have fought and died for. It's a damn shame that their are some politicians (such is Ohio Sec. of State John Husted and Florida Governor Rick Scott) have done everything in their power to restrict the right and ability of United States citizens to vote. Few things are as un-American as this. I'm ecstatic that this Senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia is taking steps to undo the damage done by some very unscrupulous people in the guise of stopping  (virtually) non-existent voter fraud. Well done Senator Warner.

The Domino Effect of Coming Out

From Outsports:
Last week we brought you the story of James Nutter, a former college baseball player in Maine who was driven toward a suicide attempt by casual homophobia. How the story came about has an equally powerful message about the impact of coming out.

Boston Herald columnist Steve Buckley came out in 2011. I’ve gotten to know Steve over the last two years. Great guy. Back in the day, when Steve was living in Maine, he was friends with a ballplayer named Bob Nutter. Bob is James’ father. Shortly after James’ aborted suicide attempt a year ago, Bob contacted his friend Steve, who then connected James with me. Steve wrote a blog post about his role in the story at the Herald Press Box.

If Steve had never come out, the father of this suicidal athlete would have had nowhere to turn. And James’ story would not have been told.

Now the dominoes keep falling. James has heard from hundreds of people since his story came out, including a number of closeted athletes looking for someone to talk to. Maybe a pen pal, maybe someone who becomes a close friend. Whatever comes of it, James’ public coming out on Outsports has given these closeted athletes hope and someone to talk to. When one of them comes out publicly, more athletes will connect with him. And on and on and on…

Bryan Fischer & Gay Exorcisms, ETC...

Nate Silver Meets Joe Scarborough

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Allen West Concedes...Finally!

After a contentious House race, being behind after Election Night, and falling even farther behind after the recount that HE demanded, conservative fire-brand and Tea Party favourite has conceded. It sure as Hell took him long enough. Congress is that much the better for not having this man amongst its ranks.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Explaining Away Homophobia's Election Losses

N.O.M. President Brian Brown
From Slate:
Until this year, opponents of same-sex marriage had never lost a statewide referendum. They’d won 32 straight times. Two weeks ago, the tide of public opinion finally overwhelmed them. They lost all four measures on the November ballot—one to ban gay marriage in Minnesota, and three others to permit gay marriage in Maine, Maryland, and Washington.

Are they humbled? Shaken? Worried that the country might be turning against them? Not a bit. The leading conservative lobby on this issue, the National Organization for Marriage, has cooked up a handy set of post-election excuses. Here’s the list.

1. We never really had a shot. Last year, when Minnesota lawmakers voted to put the issue on the 2012 ballot, NOM predicted victory, noting that “deep blue states” such as California, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin had rejected gay marriage. In January of this year, NOM released a survey purporting to show that Washington state voters were “not in favor of redefining marriage.” When same-sex marriage advocates in Maine, stung by a previous defeat, filed signatures for a rematch, NOM President Brian Brown scoffed, "The people of Maine are not in favor of redefining marriage, as we showed in 2009. Gay advocates are fooling themselves when they say things have changed.” In February, when Maryland lawmakers voted to legalize the practice, Brown warned them, "The people of Maryland do not support same-sex marriage.” In May, NOM predicted a “clean sweep” of the four ballot measures.
On Election Day, the clean sweep went the other way. NOM snapped into action. Overnight, the four easy wins became, in retrospect, impossible uphill struggles. “We knew long ago that we faced a difficult political landscape with the four marriage battles occurring in four of the deepest-blue states in America,” Brown pleaded in a Nov. 7 statement. Tom Peters, NOM’s cultural director, told PBS, “Going into these four state fights, we had no illusions. These were deep blue states.” Indeed, Peters marveled, “It`s amazing, with all of the cultural forces trying to redefine marriage, that we’re still here in 2012, just barely seeing some footholds gained in deep blue states.” Those plucky defenders of traditional marriage, holding their ground against all odds as they defend our culture against our culture.

There are 3 more excuses where that came from. 

Social conservatives are twisting and turning to try to explain away why they lost, but it is really a simple reason: people are becoming less homophobic, primarily by interacting with gay people directly and indirectly. The trends in the polls over almost 20 years have only been going in one direction with no signs of stopping. Between when a homophobic constitutional amendment passed in North Carolina (this past May) and Election Day, the tide hit a tipping point in many areas across the country. Despite whatever excuses NOM tries to come up with, people just are not buying what they are trying to sell, and NOM will eventually cause its own demise as a result.

Marriage News Watch: November 19, 2012

Virginia Board Defies Homophobic Attorney General

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R-VA)
From Metro Weekly:

...In June 2010, the Board of Juvenile Justice issued new rules for residential facilities retaining the LGBT protections. But in July 2011, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and Cuccinelli refused to sign off on the new rules, as they applied to residential facilities, as long as they contained LGBT protections. 

In January 2012, Cuccinelli went a step further and threatened to deny board members legal representation in the event a lawsuit was lodged challenging the nondiscrimination provisions. While a similar threat worked in influencing the state Board of Social Services to approve regulations restricting potential adoptive and foster parents for a number of characteristics – including sexual orientation – the members of the Board of Juvenile Justice were not swayed.

The board eventually amended the language to prohibit ''discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, disability [or discrimination that violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution, such as sexual orientation],'' and submitted the language for review by the attorney general's office in March. Cuccinelli's office refused to approve the regulations, saying that the bracketed provision providing LGBT protections was ''not within the authority of the Board of Juvenile Justice to promulgate.''

Despite pushback from the attorney general, the Juvenile Justice Board refused to strip away the protections for LGBT youth. But in order to get the language approved, the board further amended the regulation to prohibit “discrimination in violation of the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and state and federal statutes and regulations” in residential facilities.

Rather than enumerating various characteristics, the regulation instructs facilities to assess whether a resident belongs to a “vulnerable population.” If that determination is made, the facility must act to protect that resident’s health and safety...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tweet of the Day: November 18, 2012

Teen Sentenced To 10 Years...Of Church

From ABC
Anybody who knows Oklahoma District Court Judge Mike Norman probably yawned at the news that he’d sentenced a teen offender to attend church as part of his probation arrangement, and that the judge’s pastor was in the courtroom at the time.

Not only had he handed down such a sentence before, but he’d required one man to bring the church program back with him when he reported to court.

“The Lord works in many ways,” Norman, 69, told ABC News today. “I’ve done a little bit of this kind of thing before, but never on such a serious charge.”

Norman sentenced Tyler Alred, 17,  Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in August for killing friend and passenger John Luke Dum in a car crash.

Dum died on impact in December after Alred crashed his Chevrolet pickup truck, ejecting Dum. Alred was 16 at the time of the crash and had been drinking prior to the deadly accident.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol issued a Breathalyzer at the time, and although Alred was under the state’s legal alcohol limit, he had been drinking underage.

The judge could have sent Alred to jail but, instead, taking into account his clean criminal and school records, sentenced him to wear a drug and alcohol bracelet,  participate in counseling groups and attend a church of his choosing – weekly. He must also graduate from high school...

Obviously this is better than going to jail (and I probably would have taken the deal were I in this young man's shoes), but this is a blatant violation of the separation of church and state set up in the first amendment to the United States Constitution. The fact that this is a pattern with this particular judge shows that he is not fit for the bench.

Sidenote: if this young man went to a Muslim Mosque, do you think THAT would be okay with this judge?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

An Open Letter to Those For Secession

The 2000 election was a bitter loss for Democrats. Besides not having control of either chamber of Congress, there was the debacle in the presidential election that caused deep divisions in the electorate (arguably, some of those wounds have yet to heal 12 years later). To be fair, there was plenty of complaining from the political left in the wake of that election. One thing that did not happen however was the threat to secede.

Conversely, conservatives after the past election are taking a different path. After not getting their way in the presidential race, conservatives in many states are petitioning the White house to secede from the Union. On the one hand, this is laughable because this is not how a "serious" movement would go about getting their states to secede (not that there is a legal way to do so of which I am aware). There would have to be something done at the state level for there to even be a chance of succeeding to secede. However when this was attempted in the 1860's, that still did not go well for anyone, least of all those states trying to leave. On the other hand, this movement is petty and pathetic. The democratic system is far from perfect, but it is the best system there is. There was no fraud or anything of that nature that gave us the result that we got. Quite the contrary actually. The GOP tried every trick in the book to rig the election in their favour and still lost. That is no reason to bail on America, but it is reason to have greater faith in the system. Americans had two main choices before them, two visions, two directions in which the country could go, and America chose. Time and time again conservative candidates showed their true colours, and in so doing, they horrified Americans. America decided against having to debate the legality of contraception, casting off 47% of the population, restricting people's rights to live as they see fit, holding the middle-class hostage for tax cuts for the wealthy, limiting people's right to vote, and so on. The demographics of America have ALWAYS been on the move and the past election punctuated that fact. Given what was said and done across the nation in the last year politically, it should be no surprise that election 2012 went the way that it did, and conservatives have themselves to blame for their own disappointment.

So here is what I have to say to the secession crowd: if America is no longer good enough for you then renounce your American citizenship, leave, and go to a country more to your liking, but you will not be taking any states with you. You never really knew how America worked if you want out because a campaign did not go your way. It will be your loss, not America's. This nation will be better off without people with your cut-and-run mentality.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Is Santorum Running Again?

Rick Santorum is already planning and organizing his campaign for the Republican 2016 presidential election season. Santorum, who lost badly this year, ran on a platform of religious anti-gay and anti-immigrant hate — exactly the positions that some in the GOP are now just starting to realize hurt Mitt Romney‘s chances, however small they were, of winning the White House.

Santorum is a questionable candidate among younger voters, women, the LGBT community, the African American community, the Hispanic community, and other minorities, and his abrasive and condescending demeanor doesn’t help either. By 2016, America will be so over the Rick Santorums they’ll have to find another country to try to rule.

“A leading evangelical leader who is close to Santorum and asked not to be identified, told The Christian Post on Wednesday that Santorum is ‘organizing and making all the necessary preparations’ for another run in the 2016 Republican primary,” the Christian Post reports...
It could be argued that many of the things that got Republicans in trouble, especially in regards to women, contraception, religion's role in government, etc., will only be exacerbated by Rick Santorum  who is very socially conservative. Meanwhile, if Hillary ends up running in 2016, she will eat him alive. That would be one Hell of a campaign.

Did Gays Decide The Election?

From the New York Times:

...But the backing Mr. Obama received from gay voters also has a claim on having been decisive. Mitt Romney and Mr. Obama won roughly an equal share of votes among straight voters nationwide, exit polls showed. And, a study argues, Mr. Romney appears to have won a narrow victory among straight voters in the swing states of Ohio and Florida. 

Mr. Obama’s more than three-to-one edge in exit polls among the 5 percent of voters who identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual was more than enough to give him the ultimate advantage, according to the study, by Gary J. Gates of the Williams Institute at the U.C.L.A. School of Law, in conjunction with Gallup. The results are consistent with earlier research on the number and political beliefs of gay voters...
As with Latinos and Asian-Americans, the number of voters who say they are gay appears to be growing. Only 1.9 percent of Americans over 65 call themselves gay, lesbian or bisexual, according to the Gallup survey, while 3.2 percent of those between 30 and 49, and 6.4 percent of those between 18 and 29 do. 

“In the younger population, there is a much wider range in the geography and ethnicity of those who are identifying as L.G.B.T.,” Dr. Gates said, using a common term for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. That range now extends well beyond major cities and into multiple swing states. 

As Republicans plan to reach out to Hispanics and Asian-Americans, another question is whether they would also help themselves by improving their standing among gay voters. Some analysts say Republicans should try to do so, in part to win over moderate straight voters, while others see any such effort as having more risk than upside...
Exit polls showed that 76 percent of voters who identified as gay supported Mr. Obama last week, and that 22 percent supported Mr. Romney. Among straight people, each candidate received 49 percent of the vote.

Nigeria to "Jail the Gays"

A draconian bill was introduced in Nigeria's Assembly that would ultimately jail Nigeria's gay citizens and anyone who supported them if it becomes law. All Out joined Nigeria's lesbians, gays, and allies by calling upon Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan to veto the bill should it pass its final reading in the Assembly this month. 

The bill would make it a crime for gays and lesbians to get married, to witness a gay marriage, or for an affirming churches to perform a gay wedding. Gays and lesbians who marry will face 14 years in prison. 

Any public displays of affection, such as holding hands, or even looking at each other affectionately could result in a 10-year jail sentence. 

Whether the participant is gay or straight, anyone who organizes or becomes a member of a "gay club" or supports a gay organization financially could also face jail time...

Somewhere, social conservatives like Peter Sprigg are simultaneously happy and jealous the Nigeria is doing this (and America is not).

Secessionists Should Self-Deport

Programming Note (11/16)

Due to a piece I'm currently writing/editing, I'm going to forgo writing a "Lowlights & Highlights" feature for this weekend. I know, I know, you're all broken up. It should be back either the weekend after Thanksgiving or the weekend after that.

Young Conservatives For The Freedom To Marry

Meghan McCain
From The Advocate:

Meghan McCain, the political commentator and daughter of U.S. Senator John McCain, has joined the leadership committee of Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, the group working to build on the growing support for marriage equality expressed among young conservatives.

Freedom to Marry, which launched the initiative this past summer, announced the new appointment in a news release. McCain currently serves as an MSNBC contributor and columnist for the Daily Beast. She became vocal about her support for marriage equality after her father’s presidential run in 2008.

“I’m thrilled to join the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, who believe, as I do, that we don’t have to choose between conservatism and marriage for all committed couples,” said McCain in a statement. “I look forward to spreading the message that the tenets of family, personal freedom and responsibility point the way toward a GOP that fully embraces the freedom to marry.”

Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry aims to show the bipartisan nature of marriage equality by providing a platform for conservatives, Republicans and Libertarians under the age of 44 who believe marriage equality “fulfills basic conservative values of responsibility and community, as well as limited government and individual freedom,” according to a news release about the group’s founding. The leadership committee also includes Margaret Hoover, the political commentator and great-granddaughter of President Herbert Hoover.

GOP Congressman Shown His Own Stupidity

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Republicans Condemn Statement By Romney

Republican governors Bobby Jindal (LA) and Scott Walker (WI) spoke out against Mitt Romney’s claim that Obama won because he gave minorities and young people “big gifts” in the form of Obamacare, his DREAM directive, and partial college loan forgiveness. At the Republican Governors Association meeting in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jindal called the statement “absolutely wrong,” saying, “I absolutely reject that notion.” Walker, who was on a panel with Jindal when he denounced Romney, agreed that the GOP isn’t “just for people who are currently not dependent on the government. It’s for all Americans.”

Both governors, who were Romney surrogates, stayed quiet during Romney’s earlier iteration of this idea, when he told donors that 47 percent of Americans “believe they are victims” and will never “take personal responsibility.” Walker ducked the controversy at the time, saying “That’s a statement he has to take on, not myself.” Jindal also deferred judgment, refusing to “be one of these political pundits.” 

But after a definitive loss down the ticket on Election Night, Republicans are doing some “brutally honest” soul-searching about the future of their party. Jindal was especially outspoken, imploring the GOP to “stop being the stupid party.” He was blunt in his new found criticism for Romney in an interview with Politico...

Arizona's Election Disaster (500k Uncounted Votes)

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Are We Winning The War On Drugs?

Given that the war on drugs (especially marijuana) is a government program that is NOT working, shouldn't conservatives be against it in the interest of reducing government spending?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Terminology: Bachmann

Bachmann (noun)

1) A gross misquotation, an extremely incorrect citation, or an extreme misinterpretation of an historical event.

Example: "I think it is high time that we recognize the contribution of our forbears who worked tirelessly -- men like John Quincy Adams, who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country." John Quincy Adams was not a founding father (his father John Adams was), nor did John Quincy Adams oversee the abolition of slavery (Adams' presidency ended in 1829, the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863). This is technically a "double-Bachmann."

Also known as "pulling a Bachmann."

The People vs. "Citizens United"

Freshmen Senators

I saw this photo and immediately loved it.

Elizabeth Warren (D-MA, left) & Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

The Future of the GOP

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Humour Files: Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends

A Congress of Firsts

Click on the image to enlarge.

Romney & Ryan Were "Shell-Shocked" & "Stunned"

Is Sexual Orientation Innate?

From The Huffington Post:

A central tenet of modern neuroscience is that for every difference in behavior, whether between groups of people or within an individual person over time, there must be some corresponding differences in the structure or function of the brain. Accordingly, the brains of homosexuals somehow must be different from the brains of heterosexuals. Whether those differences were present at birth or acquired later in life is an important question, because if the differences are innate, then the attitudes of many people toward homosexuals could change.
Many homosexuals believe that they were different from an early age and that they did not make a conscious choice to be homosexual. While this may be true, these are anecdotes, which are not convincing to science. However, research studies have shown several interesting differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals. (The following findings pertain to the averages of groups and thus will not necessarily be true of each individual person in a group.)
With that said, there are other differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals that do not appear to be acquired and thus do appear to offer strong evidence of innate differences between the two groups (again, think group averages, not individual people):

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Gerrymandering Problem

NOM's Tactics Will Get (more) People Killed

NOM President Brian Brown
The National Organization For Marriage (Discrimination) suffered some major defeats in the 2012 elections. It is their belief that it is because they were outspent (hypocritically, some of their victories were because they were the ones doing the outspending). A major of source of the money was Starbucks, which threw some of its weight behind Washington's pro-equality ballot measure. Now, NOM is out for whatever victory it can find, that and some retribution. It is seeking to get both of those things by going up against Starbucks.

The coffee company is looking to expand into the Middle-East, and NOM wants to use that to their advantage. Most Middle-Eastern nations are against marriage equality and NOM wants to use that fact to stymie Starbucks' expansion plans. The problem with this plan is these nations are not JUST against marriage equality, which is bad enough, but they are against homosexuality in general. Most of these nations are under Sharia Law which is extremely anti-gay. Homosexuality is not merely frowned upon, but it is likely to get someone assaulted or killed if the wrong people find out that someone is gay. Anti-gay violence goes on there unchecked. Victims of anti-gay "crimes"(I use quotes because they would be considered actual crimes over there) can not go to the authorities for justice because THEY would be the ones thrown in jail if the authorities catch wind of someone being gay. In some of those countries, being gay or "homosexual conduct" will get you executed. State sanctioned murder is the fate of far too many gay people in the Middle-East.

It is this hatred that the National Organization For Marriage (Discrimination) wants to tap into. NOM stoking anti-gay sentiment is likely to get (more) people killed. One would think that an organization with religious roots would not want to put God's children at such extreme risk. What does this say about NOM and its leaders/supporters? It seems as if one of two things is true. Either they don't care about the lives their actions may cost, or they see such potential deaths as victories. Then again, maybe it's both. Either way, NOM is proving that it has rightly earned the moniker "HATE GROUP!"

Marriage News Watch: November 12, 2012

The GOP's Demographic Problem

Four More Pro-LGBT Senators

Among many other victories, this election gave the Senate a net gain of four pro-LGBT members:

Senator-Elect Angus King (I-ME)

Senator-Elect Chris Murphy (D-CT)

Senator-Elect Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

Senator-Elect Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

A Letter to Ohio Sec. of State Jon Husted

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tweet of the Day: November 11, 2012

GOP Backpedals On Election Predictions

To Those Who Serve...

We will never be able to thank you adequately. What you do and have done is incalculably important and this country would not be what it is without you. America is the light because of the sacrifices you and your families have made. I am forever thankful, as I am sure the rest of this country is as well.

Saturday, November 10, 2012