Friday, June 28, 2013

Indiana Governor Erased Pro-Gay Facebook Comments


"I believe that civility and respect for the opinion of others is essential to the democratic process. I also believe in the Freedom of Speech.

Over the past 24 hours, I became aware of concerns that comments responding to my statement of support for traditional marriage were being deleted from this Facebook page because they disagreed with my stated position.

Our longstanding policy, on this and other social media sites, has been to delete inflammatory comments that include name-calling, vulgarity or comments personally insulting to others. It was my understanding that the comments which were deleted all met this standard.

On careful review, it appear that this was not always the case and some comments were being deleted simply because they expressed disagreement with my position. I regret that this occurred and sincerely apologize to all those who were affected.

I have instructed our staff to review our policy and develop a standard of conduct similar to that of other elected officials and news organizations in the days ahead. We will post that policy prominently on this site.

Hoosiers expect our public debate to be open and respectful and we will ever seek to live up to that standard. In agreement or disagreement, I respect the opinions and the freedoms of all the people of Indiana."

Governor Mike Pence

Rep. Tammy Duckworth Lays the Smack-Down


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Why Do Some People Hate Love?

Last night I was watching a YouTube video of two men in New York City: Billy and Pat. They were celebrating their fourth year of being a couple. It just so happened that their anniversary fell on the same day that the Supreme Court struck down the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act." This ruling was extra special for them as they are engaged to be married this December. As you can imagine, they were quite elated (champagne was involved). As I was watching the video I definitely felt the joy they evidenced by the stupid grin that was plastered on my face. I was happy for them. 

Then, a rather sad thought struck me. I thought that even as this couple is deliriously happy, as are many others across the nation because of the Supreme Court's rulings in the two marriage equality cases, there are other people who are lamenting this spread of freedom. Instead of celebrating and rejoicing in the joy of others, they predict the fall of western civilization. No, I am not being hyperbolic, some of them are literally saying that marriage equality will cause society's collapse...because people of the same gender sometimes love each other and they are not being ostracized enough by the law.

I look at this couple and not only am I happy for them, but I see the kind of relationship that I want in the future (oh who am I kidding, I want it now). It is a beautiful thing. I find it difficult to fathom what goes through the mind of someone who sees two people who are genuinely in love and all they see is something bad, ugly, icky, and evil. What does it say about someone when they actively seek to discriminate against their fellow man? What does it say about someone who so adamantly and unapologetically hates love like this?

While there is a lot of good in this world, there is also a lot of bad and it would be easy to let that get you down. If you find someone that makes the bad parts bearable and makes the good parts even better, you hold on to them and never let go no matter what the haters say. Congrats to all the Billies and Pats of America. Hopefully one day soon I will find Mr. Right and we can get hitched too (maybe even here in Virginia). Stay happy!

You can follow Billy and Pat on their journey to their December nuptials YouTube and Twitter:

If Justice Scalia Is Angry, Something Good Happened

RWNJ's Whining Over Marriage Equality

How SCOTUS Instantly Changed Lives & Looking Forward

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Is This How Republicans Think of Gay Men?

The Link Between Marijuana Use & Lung Cancer

"Progressive" & "Occupy" Groups Targeted By IRS

The Internal Revenue Service’s screening of groups seeking tax-exempt status was broader and lasted longer than has been previously disclosed, the new head of the agency acknowledged Monday. Terms including ‘‘Israel,’’ ‘'Progressive’’ and ‘‘Occupy’’ were used by agency workers to help pick groups for closer examination, according to an internal IRS document obtained by The Associated Press.
The IRS document said an investigation into why specific terms were included was still underway. It blamed the continued use of inappropriate criteria by screeners on ‘‘a lapse in judgment’’ by the agency’s former top officials. The document did not name the officials, but many top leaders have been replaced. 
Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee released 15 lists of terms that the IRS agency used and has provided to congressional investigators. Some of the lists, which evolved over time, used the terms ‘‘Progressive’’ and ‘‘Tea Party’’ and others including ‘‘Medical Marijuana,’’ ‘'Occupied Territory Advocacy,’’ ‘'Healthcare legislation,’’ ‘'Newspaper Entities’’ and ‘‘Paying National Debt.’’ 
The lists were dated between August 2010 and April 2013 — the month before the IRS targeting of conservative groups was revealed. They ranged from 11 pages to 17 pages but were heavily blacked out to protect sensitive taxpayer information.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Tyranny of Distance: Why DoMA Must Fall

Immigration Reform is on the Verge of Passage

From The Hill
"The bill will pass. I think we're on the verge of getting 70 votes. That is my goal," [Senator Lindsey] Graham said on "Fox News Sunday." "We're very, very close to 70 votes. The Hoeven-Corker amendment I think gets us over the top."

The Senate is slated to vote on the border security amendment by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) on Monday. The amendment is viewed as key to securing more GOP votes for the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wants to finish work on the sweeping immigration bill this week and hold a vote to end debate on the underlying bill on Thursday. 
Graham, a member of the bipartisan Gang of Eight, called the Corker-Hoeven amendment "the most aggressive attempt to control the Southern border and regain our sovereignty."
Given how notoriously dysfunctional the Senate is, it would be something of a miracle to get 70 votes for anything. The good news is that when the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office scored the immigration bill, they stated that it would reduce the deficit by $197 billion over the next decade.

Should We Arm the Syrian Rebels?

Trailer: Kidnapped For Christ

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Former Ex-Gay Leader's On-Air Apology

Sort of off-topic, but did anyone else pick up when Anderson Cooper said "...I give you props for this...?" Kind of strange hearing that on-air from a journalist, not that I mind.

Raising the Minimum Wage & Cutting Poverty Rates

Raising the minimum wage to just $10.10 per hour would pull more than half of the nation's working poor out of poverty, according to a new study. 
The study, by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a national organization focusing on racial equity in the restaurant industry, discovered that nearly 58 percent -- or roughly 6 million -- of the 10.4 million U.S. workers living below the federal poverty level in 2011 would be pulled out by such an increase. (Proposed legislation introduced to Congress earlier this year by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) called for just that.)
A similar piece of legislation, introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) in March, additionally proposes tying the minimum wage to prices in the economy. As of today, the minimum wage is actually worth $2 less than it was in 1968, when adjusted for inflation, according to a June study by the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute.

These are the REAL Welfare Queens

Friday, June 21, 2013

Colombia's Marriage Equality Limbo

From The Advocate

“Colombia’s Constitutional Court in 2011 ruled gays and lesbians can legally register their relationships on June 20 if the country’s lawmakers failed to extend to them the same benefits heterosexuals receive through marriage,” the Washington Blade notes. “The Colombian Senate in April overwhelmingly rejected a measure that would have allowed same-sex couples to tie the knot in the South American country.” 
The ruling did not use the term “marriage” but said couples could “formalize and solemnize their contractual link” before a notary or a judge. Some officials have said this excluded the possibility of equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples, but Colombia’s attorney general, Eduardo Montealegre Lynett, “said notaries and judges are free to interpret the court’s decision” as they wish, the Blade reports, citing a Colombian newspaper.

Sen. McConnell on Corporate Personhood Amendment

Apparently Mitch McConnell (R-KY) does not understand that there is a huge difference between media outlets on the one hand and Koch Industries trying to buy as many politicians as they can on the other hand. Actually I think he does understand, but he also happens to already be one of the politicians bought up by the Koch brothers...and many other corporate interests as well.

For our democracy to continue to thrive, we need to get corporate money out of politics to the extent that we can.

Getting Fired For Being Abused

Last week, Carie Charlesworth, a teacher in California and a victim of domestic violence, was fired from her job because her abusive husband invaded the school parking lot and put the school on lockdown. While her abuser was sent to prison, she was also punished for his crime by losing her employment. 
The school’s action -– firing her because she is a victim of domestic abuse –- is sadly legal in most states. Just six, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island, have laws on the books that bar employment discrimination against victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault, according to an up-to-date document tracking these laws from Legal Momentum. State Senators in California introduced a non-discrimination bill in February, which has been referred to committee.
The loss of a job thanks to abuse can end up cutting off a lifeline to end that abuse. Three-quarters of women report staying with their abuser longer because of economic reasons. “We know that economic abuse is frequent in these situations, and abusers often try to get the victim fired in order to increase her financial dependency on him,” Kim Gandy, president and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, told ThinkProgress. By showing up at a partner’s workplace, in many states an abuser can put her job at risk, potentially driving her back into his arms.

Racist GOP County Chairman Attacks Fellow Republican

Gallup: Democrats More Favorable Than GOP

From Gallup:

Here are the highlights:
-As you can see, the favourability of both parties is under water.
-Both parties have seen falls in favourability of late.
-While the Democrats' fall has been steeper, the current ratings for the GOP is the lowest it has been since May of 2013.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Food Stamp-Cutting Farm Bill Dies in the House

The House has rejected a five year, half-trillion-dollar farm bill that would have cut $2 billion annually from food stamps and let states impose broad new work requirements on those who receive them. 
Those cuts weren't deep enough for many Republicans who objected to the cost of the nearly $80 billion-a-year program, which has doubled in the past five years. The vote was 234-195 against the bill, with 62 Republicans voting against it. 
The bill also suffered from lack of Democratic support necessary for the traditionally bipartisan farm bill to pass. Only 24 Democrats voted in favor of the legislation after many said the food stamp cuts could remove as many as 2 million needy recipients from the rolls. The addition of the optional state work requirements by an amendment just before final passage turned away any remaining Democratic votes the bill's supporters may have had.
While I'm glad that the SNAP (food stamp) cuts did not go through, it is simultaneously depressing and unsurprising that the bill failed because Republicans wanted to program cut even more. The people on this program are already struggling to make ends meet, yet the GOP wants even more Draconian cuts. This is yet another example of them making the already disadvantaged pay the price for the mistakes of the affluent. 

How Cutting Food Stamps Will Cost All Americans

From The Atlantic two weeks the full House floor is slated to vote on the GOP-controlled Agriculture Committee's omnibus farm bill, which includes unprecedented cuts to the food stamp program, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The Agriculture Committee's reductions to SNAP would total $20.5 billion over 10 years and is even more austere than last year's stalled House farm bill, which sought a $16 billion reduction to SNAP. Such draconian cuts to SNAP may exacerbate the obesity epidemic and ultimately raise health care costs associated with treating obesity and related conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, particularly among low-income Americans. 
According to the CDC, nearly 36 percent of U.S. adults and 17 percent of children are obese. High as these rates are, the proportion of obese Americans has finally plateaued in the last few years after having escalated since 1980. But obesity rates may climb again if the House Agriculture Committee's farm bill passes and results in benefit reductions for the 47.8 million Americans currently on SNAP. (An estimated 2 million households will lose their SNAP benefits altogether.)
Households affected by these SNAP cuts will have to contend with desperately tight grocery budgets that will constrain their ability to buy healthy food, making it easier for them to become obese. Having less money to spend on food could prompt SNAP recipients to buy more calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods that contribute to both weight gain and malnourishment. With the exception of a few items like beans and potatoes, many of the cheapest grocery offerings are highly processed foods packed with health advocates' maligned trinity of salt, sugar and fat. 
Calorie for calorie, unhealthy processed foods and sodas are also often significantly more economical than healthier alternatives. In their widely cited survey of supermarket prices in Seattle, University of Washington epidemiologist Adam Drewnowski and his colleague S.E. Specter at UCLA found that one dollar bought 1200 calories worth of cookies or potato chips, but only 250 calories of carrots. For cash-strapped, hungry Americans, the choice seems obvious. And indeed, Drewnowski and Specter's research suggests that consumers on tight budgets decide what foods to buy based not on nutritional considerations, but on the cost and palatability of foods.

American Medical Assoc. Denounces Anti-Gay Blood Ban

From ABC News

The FDA ban originated in 1983 in response to the AIDS outbreak, when little was known about the virus and gay men were more likely to have contracted the virus. 
However, now that the ban is almost 30 years old, some experts say the policy is outdated. HIV and AIDS testing has become standard practice in blood donations to minimize risk to recipients. According to the FDA's website, approximately 1 in 2 million blood transfusions results in an HIV infection. 
"The lifetime ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men is discriminatory and not based on sound science," AMA board member Dr. William Kobler said in a statement. "This new policy urges a federal policy change to ensure blood donation bans or deferrals are applied to donors according to their individual level of risk and are not based on sexual orientation alone." 
The AMA recommends that the FDA change its policy so that gay men are evaluated on an individual level rather than being lumped together in a high-risk category, in addition to crafting a policy that more accurately represents scientific research. 

Infamous Ex-Gay Organization Closes & Apologizes

On the Exodus website, [Alan] Chambers [President of ex-gay organization Exodus Internationaladds:
“Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus. “For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.” 
Chambers continued: “From a Judeo-Christian perspective, gay, straight or otherwise, we’re all prodigal sons and daughters. Exodus International is the prodigal’s older brother, trying to impose its will on God’s promises, and make judgments on who’s worthy of His Kingdom. God is calling us to be the Father – to welcome everyone, to love unhindered.” 
For these reasons, the Board of Directors unanimously voted to close Exodus International and begin a separate ministry. “This is a new season of ministry, to a new generation,” said Chambers. “Our goals are to reduce fear (, and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.” 
Local affiliated ministries, which have always been autonomous, will continue, but not under the name or umbrella of Exodus.
[Jim] Burroway [who has chronicled the ex-gay movement] concludes:
But make no mistake about it. This is the end of an era, and major milestone in the history of the ex-gay movement. I imaging we’re going to hear a lot of reactions over the next several days to come, but tonight, Exodus has come to a quiet and — dare I say it — a very dignified end.
The American Psychological Association has denounced ex-gay/reparative therapy and noted that it does not and can not achieve its goal of changing sexual orientation, also noting that it tends to do psychological and emotional harm instead of doing any actual good.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Virginia Voter Fraud & Republican Projection

From NBC 29:

A man from Bassett admitted to faking thousands of signatures on campaign ballots. 
In December of 2011 Newt Gingrich needed 10,000 signatures to get his name on the Virginia presidential primary ballot. Adam Ward, 28, collected more than 11,000 signatures according to prosecutors. More than 4,000 signatures could not be verified by investigators.  
Tuesday night, Ward pleaded guilty to 36 counts of voter fraud and perjury in Augusta Circuit Court.  
Sentencing is scheduled for December.
I think I have figured it out. Republicans go on and on and on about how concerned they are about voter fraud. Very often they site this as a reason for voter ID laws (but that issue is for another post). However, most of the time that someone gets charged with voter fraud, it ends up being from the political right. It seems obvious to me now. The reason they are so concerned about voter fraud is because it is something that they think of as a viable option, so they think that people on the political left think it is a viable option as well. This is what psychologists call projection: Republicans are projecting their own ideas on to Democrats.

Disclaimer: This is of course not to say that all Republicans are guilty of voter fraud or that all Democrats are innocent of it. However it does seems that the majority of the hypocrisy on this issue comes from the Republican party.

A Third GOP Senator Endorses Marriage Equality

From Huffington Post:

With the notion of marriage – an exclusive, emotional, binding ‘til death do you part’ tie – becoming more and more an exception to the rule given a rise in cohabitation and high rates of divorce, why should the federal government be telling adults who love one another that they cannot get married, simply because they happen to be gay? I believe when there are so many forces pulling our society apart, we need more commitment to marriage, not less.

This thinking is consistent with what I hear from more and more Alaskans especially our younger generations. Like the majority of Alaskans, I supported a constitutional amendment in 1998 defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, but my thinking has evolved as America has witnessed a clear cultural shift. Fifteen years after that vote, I find that when one looks closer at the issue, you quickly realize that same sex unions or civil marriages are consistent with the independent mindset of our state – and they deserve a hands-off approach from our federal policies.

-Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

GOP Youth Outreach = Make Abortion Jokes

Reversing Alzheimer's

Transcripts Dismantle GOP Talking Points on IRS

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)
From the Business Insider

... [Rep. Elijah] Cummings released transcripts with an IRS screening group manager described as a "conservative Republican," who said that the targeting of the Tea Party groups applying for tax-exempt status started with low-level workers in Cincinnati. The witness also said that there was no communication on the targeting with any senior IRS officials or with anyone in Washington or the Obama administration. 
Democrats have posted the key portion of the transcript here, in which the manager says he initially was made aware of a case involving a Tea Party group when an agent "asked for guidance." He agreed with the agent that there "wasn't enough information" to determine whether the group should have a tax-exempt status, and said he elevated the issue to his "area manager." 
The manager also said an official in the exempt organizations division in Washington was "pleased with the decision to elevate this case," but suggested there wasn't a political role in the targeting. 
"I do not believe that the screening of these cases had anything to do other than consistency and identifying issues that needed to have further development," the manager said...
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD)
Republicans had been alleging that there was a link between what had been going on in the IRS' Cincinnati office and Washington and that Washington, possibly even the administration, had issued orders for the IRS to specifically target conservative/Tea Party groups for stricter scrutiny when it came to awarding tax-exempt status. That link has yet to materialize and the evidence that has been uncovered thus far seems to point away from a Washington-based cause. 

Rep. Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said he would release the transcripts from the House investigation, but stopped short of doing so. The ranking Democrat on the committee, Elijah Cummings, threatened to release the transcripts if Issa refused to do so. Cummings made good on his threat, and it seems evident why Issa did not want the transcripts released: the transcripts did not backup the GOP narrative of this supposed Obama scandal. The GOP should have gotten the facts before throwing around accusations.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

CBO: Immigration Reform Will Reduce the Deficit $197 Billion

The CBO’s score of the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill is out and it’s very positive. While the bill increases spending by $262 billion over 10 years, it increases revenue by $459 billion, for a deficit reduction of $197 billion in total. Additionally, it projects $690 billion in deficit reduction in the second decade of implementation, from 2024 to 2033. 
The reports predicts that the bill will add 10.4 million permanent U.S. residents and 1.6 million new temporary visa-holders, and reduce the undocumented immigrant population by 1.6 million.
So Republicans and conservatives will support it...right?

Trailer: The Lavender Scare

Gov. McDonnell's (R-VA) Credibility Problem

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Texas Republican: Fetuses Masturbate

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX)
As the House of Representatives prepares on Tuesday to consider huge legislative restrictions on a woman’s right to choose, one GOP congressman is using the idea that fetuses can masturbate to argue for more abortion restrictions. 
On Monday evening, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), an Ob/Gyn by trade, told his colleagues to, “Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful”:
They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?
The House’s bill uses the scientifically disputed idea that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks as the basis for effectively ban all abortions after that time. Several state legislatures have passed similar bans, though just last month an appeals court struck down a ‘fetal pain’ bill in Arizona, finding that the law was unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade.
The sad thing is that this story is not from The Onion. 

Anti-Christian Oppression

E.W. Jackson Is Not Ready For Virginia

For those who do not know, this man - E.W. Jackson - is the man the Virginia Republicans chose to be their candidate for Lt. Governor in the 2013 election. With that context in mind, let's move on...

Jackson has every right to express his views, both as a citizen and as a candidate. Having said that, the views he is expressing do not paint a flattering picture of him. His campaign thus far has been marked by statements that are very far out of line with mainstream Virginia. For example, he went on-record as saying that practicing Yoga can lead to satanic possession. He also has gone out of his way to talk about how evil homosexuality is, even tweeting that gays are "icky." Does this sound like a man who is running for the #2 office in a swing state? If Bishop Jackson is being marginalized, it is solely because he himself has placed himself on the margins of today's Virginia.

As far as being persecuted, only overly-sensitive politicians say that. He is not being persecuted, he is being called on his crap.  There is a huge difference between the two. Politics is an arena where you have to learn how to take a hit. This is what happens when you put yourself out there in the spotlight for millions of people to see and hear. People will disagree with you no matter what position you take on any given issue. When they disagree, they will voice that disagreement. That is how democracy works. That is how freedom of speech works. Those are clearly two notions with which Bishop Jackson is unfamiliar. I guess being in a church where everyone agrees with you has made Bishop Jackson unfamiliar with dissent. Jackson needs to realize that he is on a statewide stage engaging in a dialogue with potential constituents to whom he would have to answer, not in a church performing a sermon. If he can not stomach hearing disagreement then his skin is far too thin for politics.

I also believe that it is categorically pretentious of Jackson to say that he is representing every Bible-believing Christian. Wrong again Sir. I am sure there are lots of Bible-believing Christians in the Commonwealth who hear what this guy has to say and think "Is this guy for real?" Sure, he represents SOME Christians, but only the ones who are to the far right of the political spectrum. The mere fact that Bryan Fischer, the leader of a group (the American Family Association) which is widely considered to be a hate group is on his side, speaks volumes. Both men are incredibly out of the mainstream of America in general and Virginia more specifically.

After their 2012 autopsy it seemed clear that the GOP needed to modernize and get in-line with an ever-changing America, especially in swing states like Virginia. Apparently the GOP's Virginia sect did not get the memo. Now they are stuck with a candidate who acts like he is running for Preacher-in-Chief. Instead of focusing on the bread-and-butter issues facing the Commonwealth, he is focusing on fire and brimstone. Virginia needs (and deserves) serious candidates and serious problem-solvers, not punch lines.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tweet of the Day: June 17, 2013

Sometimes humanity seems anything but humane.

Is This Representative of Conservatives/Tea Partiers?

I felt like taking a shower after watching this. There are some folks with whom you can not reason and there just is no hope for them.

For the record, this is from October of 2011.

Marriage News Watch: June 17, 2013

Gays on TV Make Mike Huckabee Sad

What the GOP is Teaching Their Children

Sen. Flake (R-AR) & family

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake’s teenage son, Tanner, went by the name “n1ggerkiller” in an online game, and posted YouTube comments using the word “nigger” and calling Mexicans “the scum of the Earth.” On his Twitter account, he made prolific use of the word faggot and called his friend a “Jew” for stealing a joke. 
A few hours after the Flake story appeared, Stanton reported that Nevada Rep. Joe Heck’s son, Joey Heck, had posted equally stomach-turning comments to his Twitter account. In addition to his repeated use of “faggot” and “nigga,” he made anti-gay and anti-Mexican remarks, saying NFL quarterback “[Mark] Sanchez can hop the border faster than he can throw the ball” and retweeted “There are gays everywhere. Maybe that’s gods way of thinning out the population because faggots can’t have babies.” Being a politically minded young lad, he also commented that ABC’s Martha Raddatz should not have been a presidential debate moderator because she’s a woman and that Mitt Romney made Barack Obama his “slave” in a presidential debate. Heck also said that Obama’s main accomplishments as president were promoting the sports of “spear chucking and rock skipping. The sports they do in his home country…”
To read Tanner Flake and Joey Heck’s online posts is to see the powerful strain of bigotry that exists within a certain sector of conservative politics. It’s true that children of Democrats can be just as wretched as children of Republicans and can do equally idiotic, terrible things. (See the news of Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu’s son, Connor, being arrested on charges of drunk driving and hit-and-run driving or any one of Al Gore III’s repeated arrests for driving under the influence and reckless driving.) But when bad Democratic kids behave badly, they’re way more likely to drive 100 mph while drunk than to say the president chucks spears. Likewise, you rarely ever see Democratic officials getting in trouble for passing on horrible, racist chain emails or making horrible racist remarks. This has everything to do with the political differences between the two parties and their voters. 
Again, Republicans aren’t all racist. But the party actively cultivates racists as voters. Which means that some portion of the Republican electorate, as well as Republican officials, are racists. When a kid literally lives in that political environment, he has a greater chance of being caught up in the extreme end of it. If all of your friends are Republicans and even a small subgroup of Republicans are racist, homophobic bigots, then you’re more likely to associate with racist, homophobic bigots and become one yourself than if you’re hanging out with liberal, crunchy kids.
By the way, Joey Heck should be aware that Mark Sanchez was born in California, not Mexico.

A proposal coming before the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section would permanently render the so-called “gay panic” defense inadmissible in court. According to the dot429 blog, if the proposal is ratified, it will ban defense attorneys from using the sexual orientation or gender identity of a victim against them in court.
Too often, according to dot429, attorneys representing perpetrators of violent acts against LGBT people resort to accusing the victims of “bringing it on themselves” in order to defend their clients in court. The “gay panic” defense says that an LGBT brought violent retribution on themselves, up to and including murder, by sexually propositioning someone who was so enraged by the gesture that they had no choice but to react violently.
It was invoked, unsuccessfully in the trail of the murderers of Matthew Shepard and Gwen Araujo. The term “gay panic” was first used by psychiatrist Edward J. Kempf in his 1920 book Psychopathology, in which he described it as “a distinct stage in the psychoses.” However, it is rarely used in modern courts since no one has able to verify its existence as a genuine psychiatric phenomenon.

As dot439 pointed out, “If merely being sexually propositioned was a legally acceptable reason for killing someone, countless thousands of heterosexual men would be at severe risk for being murdered by women they made a pass at.”
- See more at:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Rick Perry Vetoes Equal Pay

From the Huffington Post
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has vetoed a bill meant to prevent wage discrimination against women. 
An aide to state Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D), who authored the equal pay bill, HB 950, said Perry's office called on Friday to say he had vetoed it. State Sen. Wendy Davis (D), who introduced the Senate version of the legislation, told the Texas Tribune that she had received the same call... 
...According to the Houston Chronicle, Thompson said Perry's office objected to her legislation because it duplicated federal law. The governor's office did not return a request for comment from The Huffington Post, and a veto statement was not yet available online. 
But the backers of HB 950 have pointed out that their legislation would allow parties to proceed on cases in a nearby state court, instead of having the increased expense of having to go to federal court. Lilly Ledbetter protections also do not always apply to certain state cases. 
Forty-two states have passed equal pay laws similar to the one Perry vetoed. Women currently make only 77 cents for every dollar men earn.
Yet again, on the rare occasion that the Texas state legislature gets something right, Rick Perry mucks it up.
A proposal coming before the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section would permanently render the so-called “gay panic” defense inadmissible in court. According to the dot429 blog, if the proposal is ratified, it will ban defense attorneys from using the sexual orientation or gender identity of a victim against them in court.
Too often, according to dot429, attorneys representing perpetrators of violent acts against LGBT people resort to accusing the victims of “bringing it on themselves” in order to defend their clients in court. The “gay panic” defense says that an LGBT brought violent retribution on themselves, up to and including murder, by sexually propositioning someone who was so enraged by the gesture that they had no choice but to react violently.
It was invoked, unsuccessfully in the trail of the murderers of Matthew Shepard and Gwen Araujo. The term “gay panic” was first used by psychiatrist Edward J. Kempf in his 1920 book Psychopathology, in which he described it as “a distinct stage in the psychoses.” However, it is rarely used in modern courts since no one has able to verify its existence as a genuine psychiatric phenomenon.

As dot439 pointed out, “If merely being sexually propositioned was a legally acceptable reason for killing someone, countless thousands of heterosexual men would be at severe risk for being murdered by women they made a pass at.”
- See more at:

The Untenable Fruits of Deregulation

A petrochemical plant in Geismar, Louisiana that exploded on Thursday, killing one person and injuring 73, has not been inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the past two decades, according to an analysis by ThinkProgress. The Williams Olefins plant, which produces about 1.3 billion pounds of ethylene and 90 million pounds of polymer grade propylene, according to the company’s website, does not have any recorded inspections for plants producing either substance in OSHA’s database since 1993. 
The explosion, fueled by propylene, started at 8:37 a.m. and burned for more than three hours. Three hundred workers were evacuated and residents within a two-mile radius were told by authorities to remain in their homes. 
The same plant also had an accident in 2009, according to Reuters. At that time, 60 pounds of flammable mixture was released, causing a fire that did not lead to injuries. Louisiana has experienced at least two other explosions in petrochemical facilities in the last two years: an explosion at the Westlake Chemicals vinyl plant in Geismar that “sent a cloud of toxic vinyl chloride and hydrochloric acid over the town” in 2012 and another at a Multi-Chem Group plan in New Iberia in 2011. Neither resulted in injuries, Reuters reports. 
Thursday’s blast comes just months after about 30 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas in April. That accident killed 15 people and injured more than 160. The West plant hadn’t been inspected by OSHA since 1985 and also slipped by six other regulatory agencies.
It's always sad when people are unnecessarily put in harms way. 

Pat Robertson Denounces "Nutty" Prophecies

TransCanada Wants To Label Peaceful Protesters "Terrorists"

Friday, June 14, 2013

The GOP's Social Conservative Problem

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GOP Congressman Calls His Party Staggeringly Stupid

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA)
From the Huffington Post

After an all-male group of Republicans voted on Wednesday to advance an anti-abortion bill with no exceptions for rape victims, a member of their own caucus decried their "stupidity." 
“I’ll be very frank: I discouraged our leadership from bringing this to a vote on the floor,” Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) told CQ Roll Call. “Clearly the economy is on everyone’s minds, we’re seeing very stagnant job numbers, confidence in the institution of government is eroding and now we’re going to have a debate on rape and abortion. 
“The stupidity is simply staggering,” Dent said. 
The House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to advance the bill, which bans abortions 20 weeks after fertilization unless the woman's life is in danger. Democrats proposed an amendment that would have exempted rape and incest victims from the bill, which prompted Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) to make a misguided comment about rape and abortion. 
“The instance of pregnancy resulting from rape is very low," Franks said, noting that he would be voting against the amendment. 
I know that Reagan's "11th Commandment" was that you shouldn't badmouth other party members, but I think he would make an exception here. 

Sen. Rubio Is Fine With Employment Discrimination

GayWatch, International Edition (6/13/13)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Russia Doesn't Want Kids Knowing Gays Exist

Bachmann, the GOP, & Immigration Reform

Texas "Justice" Becomes an Oxymoron

Huckabee: Churches Should Renounce Tax-Exemption

From The Examiner

In a surprising move, Christian conservative and Republican leader Mike Huckabee is encouraging churches to give up their tax exempt status. Huckabee issued the following call for churches to unilaterally give up their tax-exempt status via Twitter on June 11: 
"It's time for churches to reject tax exempt status completely; freedom is more important than government financial favors," tweeted Huckabee. 
Huckabee first suggested that Christians “give up tax-exempt status and tax deductions for charitable contributions” on June 10, while speaking at the pastors’ conference prior to the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Houston. 
There Huckabee said: "I think we need to recognize that it may be time to quit worrying so much about the tax code and start thinking more about the truth of the living God, and if it means that we give up tax-exempt status and tax deductions for charitable contributions, I choose freedom more than I choose a deduction that the government gives me permission to say what God wants me to say..."
Of course even with tax-exemption, lots of churches, preachers, and the like are being overtly political and should instead be striped of tax-exempt status. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wisconsin to Import Virginia's Transvaginal Mandate

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has thrown his support behind an anti-abortion measure that’s currently moving through the state legislature, saying he will sign the bill into law if it makes it to his desk. SB 206 would require women to undergo an ultrasound before getting an abortion — which would mandate an invasive transvaginal probe for some of the women who seek early abortions in their first trimester — and force one of the state’s last abortion clinics to close its doors.

“I don’t have any problem with ultrasound,” Walker told reporters on Tuesday in Milwaukee. “I think most people think ultrasounds are just fine.” 
Forced ultrasound bills mandate a medically unnecessary procedure that would otherwise be left up to the discretion of a woman and her doctor. Medical experts, including the largest national group representing thousands of OB-GYNs across the country, are opposed to this type of legislation because they say it interferes with their work and compromises their relationships with patients. “All of a sudden, the Senate is full of doctors,” Wisconsin Sen. Tim Cullen (D) said in reference to SB 206′s advancement. 
And, even though the lawmakers who push for mandatory ultrasound measures sometimesdeny it, these laws also require many women to undergo an invasive transvaginal probe. Before 12 weeks of pregnancy, a transvaginal ultrasound is the only way to detect a clear image— and, since the vast majority of women in the United States seek abortion services in their first trimester, those women must submit to an invasive probe in order to comply with these burdensome laws. Over the past year, reproductive rights advocates have repeatedly decried transvaginal ultrasound laws as “state sponsored rape.”

Dan Savage on"The Colbert Report"

The Religious Right: Catholics United

From Seattle Pi
...Catholics United is organizing an online petition, at, asking Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain “to make the Church’s position on care for gay people clear to this priest.” 
The Rev. Derek Lappe, of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church, used characterizations far beyond official positions taken by the nation’s Catholic bishops, who have opposed same-sex marriage and homosexual conduct, while denouncing homophobia, the stereotyping of gays and lesbians and social ostracism. 
“This priest’s use of stereotypes to describe the cause of same-sex attraction is offensive and not in line with basic Catholic teachings,” said James Salt, executive director of Catholic United, and himself a former Eagle Scout. 
“The Catholic Church has long held that individuals with same-sex attractions should be respected and protected from discrimination,” Salt added.  “Catholics United calls on Fr. Lappe’s superiors to condemn this kind of bullying from a man who is supposed to be a witness of Christian love and acceptance...”

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tweet of the Day: June 11, 2013

The West in question is former representative (and kicked out of the military) Allen West (R-FL).

Darrell Issa Won't Release the "Evidence"

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) is refusing to releasetranscripts of interviews with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents that allegedly prove how political officials in the Obama administration directed the IRS to target conservative groups applying for 501 (c)(4) status. 
The California congressman, whose committee is conducting an investigation into the agency’s behavior, provided CNN excerpts of interviews with IRS agents on June 2 and assured host Candy Crowley that “the whole transcript will be put out.” The portion purported to show an IRS official conceding that “directions” for to treat Tea Party groups “emanated from Washington,” though Issa himself conceded that that excerpt was not definitive. 
But in a letter to the top Democrat on the Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Issa appeared to back away from his pledge, arguing that releasing the transcripts would “needlessly jeopardize the integrity of the investigation and hamper the Committee’s ability to get to the truth.” Experts, he contested, are useful and “serve to provide important updates to the public” and “empower other witnesses to become whistleblowers.” 
During his appearance on CNN, Issa called White House Press Secretary Jay Carney a “paid liar” and claimed that the spokesperson is “making up things about what happens in calling this local rogue,” leading several Republicans to speak out against his tactics. A week later, Cummings appeared on CNN to challenge the Chairman. “I want those transcripts to be released,” Cummings said. “I’m willing to come on your show next week with the Chairman with the transcripts if he agrees to do that. If he doesn’t, I’ll release them by the end of the week.”

The Tyranny of Distance: Divided By Discrimination