Monday, May 28, 2012

"Vatileaks" Article Its #1 on OpEdNews FOR THE MONTH OF MAY!!

Even though you've read it here, help spread the word by clicking HERE and send the page view numbers through the roof! This article is the ONLY one on the "Vatileaks" scandal featuring past cover-ups and bringing to light the fact that Benedict KNOWS ALL. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Monday Sermon: Should We Honor The Soldiers Of The Culture Wars On Memorial Day?

" ...the culture wars are still inevitably significant, for the very simple reason that there’s no common ground on which to call a truce."
- Ross Douthat, New York Times, The Persistence Of The Culture War, Feb. 7, 2012

The scene is iconic and always unforgettable: the President laying the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is a symbolic gesture filled with dignity, solemnity and, yes... hope: hope that our casualties of war will someday dwindle to nothing. It also brings to mind horrendous battle scenes, matchless courage... and bloodied bodies strewn across vast landscapes: the detritus of war.

And while it is a time of remembrance, it is a time when we forget that we are engaged in wars of another sort, wars that have had just as many casualties, wars that have changed the lives of past generations and generations to come. They are wars in which we have been engaged in for many years, wars which seem to have no end. And they are civil wars because they are fought with our own citizenry.

The culture wars are spoken of so casually that people forget that they are just as deadly and fought on a landscape just as perilous as any mine-laden field. Yet we have no tomb upon which to lay a wreath nor do we have a day to commemorate the casualties - to stop and think about the culture warriors and about those conflicts effecting our world.

As with all wars, the culture wars of America have had two sides - two sides which mourn their dead, be they people or ideologies. The ferocity of the battles are equal to the battlegrounds: abortion, women's rights, homosexuality/gay rights, racism, multiculturalism, gun politics, environmentalism, capitalism, socialism, religious intolerance, global warming, birth control, energy, evolution are some which have had more prominent scenes of battle.

Perhaps the most telling difference between the sides is that one side deals in huge numbers, broad terms and generalities - 40 million aborted babies, the "death" of civilization," the scourge of "socialism", while the other side focuses more on specifics, personalities and issues: Matthew Shepard, Dr. Martin Luther King, the specific rate of unemployment, the 99%, gun control. One warrior has been trained to fight virtually everything of the opposing view, while the other warrior is slightly more focused.

Both warriors are courageous and fierce when engaged in mortal combat.

No one can doubt that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a monument to a stereotypical U.S. soldier, a kind of military Everyman, so the concept of a memorial for a universal culture warrior seems nearly impossible. But it is not ridiculous: all of us on both sides, need a focal point for reflection, a reminder that people have fought for something they believe in, will continue to fight, and that the outcome of the battles will determine the fate of mankind more than any number of bullets and bombs. The Tomb of the Unknown Culture Warrior would not be a monument to Good vs Evil or Right vs. Wrong, but to the one thing that glorifies humanity more than anything else: passion for a cause.  

Paying tribute at the Tomb Of The Unknown Culture Warrior might actually provide that which Ross Douthat doubts could ever happen: a ceasefire.

Yes, a tiny, but much needed truce for our culture-war weary world.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"Tough Love" On Trial: Support Of Pastor Worley's Genocidal Homophobia Has Finally Made Gay Rights Into Civil Rights

“Sometimes you’ve got to be scared straight. He is trying to save those people from Hell.” 
“He had every right to say what he said about putting them in a pen and giving them food. The Bible says they are worthy of death. He is preaching God’s word.” 
- genocidal congregants, Providence Road Baptist Church

Pastor Charles Worley's version of "Tough Love" to his congregation has sparked a protest around the country that may become a form of "tough love" in itself - much tougher than Worley and his congregation would expect in any case. 

And not in the form of electrified fences or nooses. 

The Catabwa Valley Citizens Against Hate has begun to organize a peaceful protest outside Worley's "old time religion" church to take place this Sunday. Originally thought to garner several hundred protesters, it is quickly mushrooming into a major event, with whole church congregations being bused in. Current estimates are at 2000, but other groups are planning to attend. Local police will be in force to contain crowds. And since the pastor has indicated that he will not back down on his words, animosities will be hard to retrain. 

The country will be focused on Maiden, North Carolina this Sunday.

Thank you, Pastor Worley! 
Thank you, North Carolina!

The recent machinations of North Carolina pastors have brought to light the abject homophobia still embedded in the Christian Right. It is a phobia that has been recently covered up by calls for "reparative therapy" and "pray away the gay" strategies. It is a phobia that has been given the imprimatur of the Catholic Church via the Vatican's stance that homosexuality is still a sinful lifestyle "choice." It is a phobia that has had the protection of "love the sinner, hate the sin." It is a phobia that has legislated bullying in schools under the guise of freedom of religious expression.

But despite all the cover-ups, it is a phobia that says gays are worthy of discrimination, hatred ...and death. Worley's sermons* have made that very, very clear. Besides God, Pastor Worley himself Worley has also made it clear that he will not back down from his words. 

We hope he doesn't. For in his words are the seeds of hatred quite akin to the hatred for another group of people: the "sons of Ham." One wonders if his congregation has any African Americans in it, for if there are, they fail to see the parallel: the Bible being used to discriminate against and subjugate an entire group of human beings. But modern society has disregarded the Bible and dictated that a once-maligned group, a group thought to be only 3/5ths human,  be given equal status, so who's to take up the slack in regards to Biblically sanctioned contempt? 

The vitriol currently being spewed by demonizers such as Tony Perkins and Bryan Fischer, the dire warnings of impending disasters by Pat Robertson and Cindy Jacobs all underscore the hatred formerly reserved for people who dared to considered themselves equal to whites. Worley’s own references to hangings – a clear assent of what should be done today – certainly smack of Ku Klux Klan sentiments.

The NAACP has recently come out with a statement supporting the right of gays to marry. It was also reacting to the current spate of North Carolina sermons against gays - and abuse of gays. This has angered the Christian Right to no end: any connection of gay rights to civil rights destroys any hope of the “wedge” the CR can drive between the black and gay communities. 

So perhaps the gay community should thank pastor Worley for his diatribe. It has brought to the fore the very thing that the Christian Right has denied from the very beginning of its homophobia: gay right are civil rights.

Now if only Tony Perkins would be dumb enough to give Worley a medal...

* As early as 1978, Worley referenced hanging and his congregation has stated that he has always shown an inordinate hatred of homosexuality, couching it in biblical terms. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Monday Sermon: Should Certain Prayers Come With A Warning Label?

Reparative Therapy 

What is the purpose of prayer? Is it to cure or condemn? To acquire or release? One cynic has said that prayer is doing nothing while thinking you're helping. For some people, that is probably true. And when the prayer is for yourself, that maybe merely self-delusion: the power of prayer lies not only in intensity but purpose. Purpose, in fact, can define intensity, and the more minds share the purpose and intensity, the greater the power, the greater the possibility that something may happen.

Something. But not necessarily what is prayed for.

There are , of course, many different kinds of prayer - especially in today's societies and one could argue that "imprecatory" prayer is used more often than not, since whole nations under Islam are praying for the destruction of the U.S. And there's individual prayer; but is praying in a quiet corner of one's house, as Jesus suggested, just as powerful? Again, the intensity and purpose delineate the power, and in the case of self-change, the results can be good, bad ...or non-existent.

Reparative therapy - today commonly known as "pray-away-the-gay" or "re- prayer-a-tive" therapy is now under scrutiny by the California legislature.
The bill would make it illegal for psychologists in the state of California to provide gay and lesbian conversion or reorientation therapy to teens. The controversial conversion therapy, sometimes also known as reparative therapy, attempts to change the sexual orientation of a person from homosexual (or bisexual) to heterosexual.
The bill would also require adults who submit to the therapy to sign a release saying they know what they're getting into.

Most of reparative therapy involves some kind of prayer and many clinics are affiliated with faith-based organizations. Clinics like NARTH - the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality - routinely use prayer as a means of confession to the "sin" of homosexuality and instillation of hope that through prayer and following the methods of the therapist the person will be "cured." It's not as bogus as faith healing, but it deals with fearful and confused people who suffer self-loathing and will doing anything to stop the torment of being considered "vile" and "sinful" in their orientations.

It also deals with children and teens forced by their parents to seek therapy.

The stories of harm caused by reparative therapy far outweigh the stories of "cures.": most patients suffer even more depression and the number of subsequent suicides is alarming. Some of the clinics, like the one run by Michele Bachmann's husband, Marcus Bachmann are unlicensed. NARTH is licensed, but the stories of its techniques and its therapists abound. For example, the author of A Parent's Guide To Preventing Homosexuality, Joseph Nicolosi has (jokingly?) stated: “If the father drops the kid and the kid gets brain damage, at least he’ll be straight. Small price to pay.”

NARTH has also been plagued with incidents of hypocrisy and scandal: one of its founders is George "rent boy" Rekers* who was paid $300 an hour for "expert" testimony against gay adoption in Florida. Joseph Nicolosi has been at odds with the American Psychological Association, and his membership has been jeopardized several times.

And in an "alert" email sent to donors about the proposed California legislation, NARTH effectively admits to "pray away the gay":
While this is a direct assault on everyone’s freedom it is also a not so subtle attack on religious liberty. Individuals of faith often seeking to live lives congruent with their religious convictions are often motivated to seek help for their homosexual attractions. This type of legislation would in effect criminalize those formerly ethical relationships between a client and their therapist unless those interactions were supervised by agents of the state.

The State of California has never criminalized prayer, but the intent to promote a potentially harmful mode of therapy - one using prayer - is certainly criminal.

Maybe certain prayers and therapies should come with a warning label. Then again, so should some therapists.

*Rekers was spotted with a male escort in an airport, after which the escort stated that he was hired to do more than help Rekers with his luggage.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mitt Romney Is A Satanist!!!

Johnson made the case that Christians are misinformed about the true nature of Mormonism, thanks to people like David Barton who is "hugging and kissing all over Glenn Beck," and asked whether Christians would be willing to vote for a member of the First Church of Satan if the candidate supported the conservative agenda, warning that the "anybody but Obama" mindset was going to drive the nation and the church "into the arms of perdition" and prevent God from blessing America...

There Are Times When You Wanna Take A Poll...

...about statements like this. How many times have you heard of someone gay writing death threats? Threatening people's families? Worse than Islamic terrorists? 

I don't think so.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

OBAMA IS GAY AND CIVILIZATION IS DOOMED! As Expected, The Wingnuts Are Out In Full Force. Cue Laughter.

It's been said before. We've made a religion out of entertainment and an entertainment out of religion, and no one entertained us more last week than a lady who ranted:
- "A huge percent of gay men in school grounds molest boys, partly because they don't have AIDS yet," she said.
"Hillary Clinton's roommate four years in college was a gay woman. To avoid going gay like Clinton did, college students need single rooms and single gender dorms."
"Jesus was kissed by Judas, a homo, who tried to sabotage Jesus' kind ideas. Do you choose Jesus, a celibate, or Judas, a homo? You have to choose!"
Later, it was discovered that Ms. Svoboda was a certifiable schizophrenic ...and:

Nonetheless, Jane Svoboda is a registered lobbyist at the Capitol, and she usually speaks twice a month during the council’s open mic sessions. She also frequents the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus, where she hands out fliers and is known as the “Crazy Blue Protesting Lady.”

Her brother and legal guardian, Patrick Svoboda lamented "that people were not more understanding of her mental illness. Money quote from Patrick: "...she’s not some crazy conservative.”

Yes, we knew the wingnuts would come out swinging with a vegeance against Barack Obama.

Here's a small list of Headlining quotes:

Manny Pacquiao: "Gay Men Should Be 'Put to Death'"

Pat Robertson: "Obama makes me sick to my stomach"

Pastor Jim Garlow: "Oppposing gay marriage may cost us our lives."

Paul Cameron: "Obama is gay." and "Gays should be imprisoned before they rape kids"

Franklin Graham: "Obama has shaken his fist at God. May God help us!"

Bishop Harry Jackson: "The Enemy wants [marriage equality] to be a legacy, or a seed that is planted in this generation that corrupts, perverts and pollutes...generations to come."

Bryan Fischer: "Obama is toast...just handed the election to Mitt Romney because he favors behavior that will kill you if you don’t catch yourself in time”

During this election year, the collection of wingnuts seems to resemble The Gong Show more than American Idol, Jerry Springer more than Anderson Cooper, Jay Leno's Battle of the Jay Walk Allstars more than What's My Line? Speaking of which:

Does anyone know who Manny Pacuiao is? He's a Champion prizefighter popular in the Philippine who currently lives and trains in L.A. His pronouncement came at a time when it was disclosed that he had a Filipino mistress - he's supposedly a devout Catholic.

Pat Robertson, is, of course, Pat Robertson. He was accused of being a bit dotty back when he said that Orlando Florida would suffer a meteor since it allowed Disney World to have Gay Day. He also declared that disaster-ridden Haiti has signed a pact with the Devil, leading even his followers to believe that he is senile. Other are doubtful, stating that senility could not last a full forty years. 

Pastor Jim Garlow, of Skyline Weslyan Church in San Diego, has compared marriage equality to slavery and insisted that if Prop 8 failed, pastors would go to jail. (Garlow was a leading proponent of Prop 8).

Paul Cameron is probably THE most discredited researcher on earth, declaring that the average age of a gay male is 42 - a figure he arrived at while perusing gay newspaper obituaries during the worst years of the AIDS crisis. The Family Research Council has based their rhetoric on Cameron's findings. Cameron has been ousted and criticized by The American Psychological Association, the Nebraska Psychological Association and the Canadian Psychological Association. Most of Cameron's "research" has been published in pay-to-publish publications. 

Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Bill Graham, has become at odds with his father of late, positing that people outside Christianity cannot possibly enter into the Kingdom of Heaven ( at least not without his -ah,er - God's permission). 

Bishop Harry Jackson is an activist for the black family - just not the gay black family: I'm looking at the extinction of marriage. And black culture is in a free fall." He also believes that condoms promote AIDS. 

Bryan Fischer has become known as America's "Super Bigot": he opposes everything and everyone who isn't Bryan Fischer. As a spokesman for the American Family Association, Fischer has railed against Native Americans, African-American single mothers, liberals, gays, feminists, Mormons and, well, the list goes on and on. He has friends, be they may currently be in hiding. 

But Wait, There's More!

Like a Ronco Popeil product commercial, the panoply of wingnuts who will be weighing in on gay marriage and all political "wedges" will be adding more wingnuts as time goes by...all the way to Nov. 6th. You will hear from:

- Cindy Japan-is-shaped-like-a-dragon Jacobs. She may "cure" another woman of her hysterectomy just to spite pro-choice foes.

- C. Peter Wagner, who advocates the demolition of the Statue of Liberty, it being a pagan idol. He will be going to Sarah Palin's Alaska andburning totem poles on front lawns.

- Rick Joyner, who visited heaven once upon a time, and may visit it again to see what the political climate is there.

- John Hagee, who will be rooting for Armageddon with CUFI (Christians United For Israel).

Yes, the "Laugh" sign is on for us in the studio audience called America. But don't laugh too much and miss voting this year. Maybe that's their strategy. 


Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Monday Sermon: Is Freedom Of Religion A Blessing ...Or A Curse?

The protection of religious freedom has also become a matter of debate. It strikes me as odd that the free exercise of religious faith is sometimes treated as a problem, something America is stuck with instead of blessed with. Perhaps religious conscience upsets the designs of those who feel that the highest wisdom and authority comes from government."
- Mitt Romney, speaking at the commencement exercises of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University

Social conservatives (aka the Christian Right) have been vocal about Freedom of Religion within political circles - freedom to practice the Christian religion as the One True religion and the freedom to participate in politics. For without their involvement in government, they think they might lose their freedom of religion. In order to participate in politics, they argue, there must be no separation of church and state. One article of the First Amendment must, in essence, negate the other. Yes, it's rather confusing, but we're dealing with an entity that deals with ill reasoning and confusion on a daily basis.

Which Religion Should Have The Right?

Freedom of Religion sounds like a right. It is. So is the freedom NOT to have any particular spiritual belief. But freedom of religion, like everything else involved in the socio-political sphere depends upon which religion is the dominant one. If that religion is truly tolerant of other religions, then everyone will have both freedom to believe in any moral/spiritual code they wish and the freedom to PRACTICE that code. The latter may be called Free Exercise. 

It can be safely said, therefore, that while the Christian Right says they are for freedom of religion, they are, in fact, for freedom to believe and practice Christianity only. Yes, we see the religious intolerance everywhere: 

- "Ex-Homosexual" DL Forster has stated flatly that there is no such thing as a gay Christian. His ministry Witness Ministries, maintains a website that considers itself a watchdog against any churches or organizations that accept gays.

- C. Peter Wagner, founder of New Apostolic Reformation movement, warns about "heathen" idols. Hence, he goes about smashing Native American artifacts and statues of Catholic saints.

- Pastor John Benefiel posits that the Statue of Liberty is an idol and some of his adherents have called for its demolition.

- Pastor Dennis Terry received a modicum of fame for his introduction of Rick Santorum: in it he vehemently bloviated that American was "Christian Nation" and not beholding to any other religion whereupon he told the "naysayers and liberals" to "Get Out!" His later non-apology and insistence that as a Christian he really loved everyone was criticized as disingenuous... at best.

The Bully Pulpit

Yes, it's ironic that the very people who focus on freedom of religion do not believe in freedom for religion. It's ironic that a religion based on love and tolerance has sects and denominations that are not tolerant in the least, whether to other religions or other facets of Christianity. Far more Christians have persecuted other Christians than Christianity as a whole has been persecuted. The dizzying array of "sects" "cults" and "heretics" ostracized by organized segments of Christianity magnifies the fact that certain Christians are incapable of freedom of religion with their own let alone other religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism or Islam. 

One wonders that if certain evangelicals (read: Dominionists) get their way, just how many Mormons and Catholics will be persecuted, let alone Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Scientologists, and Moonies.

"You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense, I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist." -- Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, January 14, 1991
Belief vs Exercise

When the Founding Father drafted the First Amendment, Freedom of Religion was actually more like Freedom FROM Religion in that it was a distinct reaction to hold the Church of England (Anglican) held on the colonies: 

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." So the Christian Right hates the first part, but takes advantage of the second part: in it, "belief" is only assumed, while "exercise" is more explicit. Any "Belief" can be castigated, while the act of bludgeoning anyone over the head with a Bible cannot. Had the Amendment said that every man had the freedom to believe what he wanted, but not the freedom to proselytize to the the detriment of another's beliefs, then it might have served Americans much better throughout it's freedom-loving history.

For it is with the exercise of beliefs that the Christian Right has gained the upper hand politically and has gained power over all other sects, denominations and religions: its organizations (like the Family Research Council) and media (Christian Broadcasting Network and Glenn Beck) and promotions (OpEd letters and billboards) trumpet "values" that instill fear of any other belief or creed.

In other words, the second part of the Amendment has unleashed a monster against the first part and against religious tolerance. And only by strengthening the first part, can we ever hope to achieve true freedom of religion. 

Sunday Sermons Blast Obama Over Gay Marriage - But Not At The Fever Pitch Social Conservatives Want!

While President Obama has often considered the passage of health care reform his defining moment as President, people are now saying that it is his endorsement of same-sex marriage that has portrayed him and his Presidency in the most illuminating way.

The new cover for the New Yorker magazine, with the South Portico columns of the White House colored in rainbow hues is no doubt the rallying point for Right Wing pulpits across the nation. Certainly the cries of "homosexual lobby" and "homosexual agenda" have echoed throughout a great many churches.

And the cover of Newsweek certainly stokes the fires:

Of course, we knew it was coming: judging from this Sunday's sermons, The Washington Post got it right:

Pastors in Ohio, North Carolina, Florida and other swing states are readying Sunday sermons inveighing against same-sex unions, while activist groups have begun laying plans for social media campaigns, leaflet drives and other get-out-the-vote efforts centered on the same-sex marriage issue.

The primary focus has been on black churches, and although other black ministers think differently, the question of "Wedge" - the strategy of NOM (National Organization for Marrige) - rears its ugly head:

Dwight McKissic, senior pastor at the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, said last week he would not speak on gay marriage Sunday because it was Mother's Day and his wife would lead the church. However, he planned to focus directly on the topic in next week's sermon. "President Obama has betrayed the Bible and the black church with his endorsement of same-sex marriage," McKissic said.

And a key religious supporter of Obama, Pastor Emmet Burns who is also a Maryland State delegate, has states his withdrawal of support for Obama on the issue (see below), but some of his congregation and community don't feel the same way. Many people feel that it is a relatively small, single point in Obama's term that does not define his Presidency.

It is this kind of reaction, however, that will drive the Christian Right to new heights of denegration of Obama on all issues.

Not All The Polls Are In, But...

A May, 2011 Gallup poll shows that over 53% of Americans favor same-sex marriage: a 6-point rise in one year. In fact, the sharp change in attitude since the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell suggests that is voted upon today by voters in California, Proposition 8 would not pass (it passed with 52%). At that rate, an updated Gallup poll might show a higher percentage of up to 56%. And in a sense, the North Carolina Amendment 1 vote may have helped to steer the country in that direction:

North Carolina Governor Beverly Purdue:

"People around the country are watching us, and they're really confused to have been such a progressive forward thinking economically driven state that invested in education and that stood up for the civil rights people including the civil rights marches back in the 50s and 60s and 70s," said Perdue. "People are saying what in the world is going on with North Carolina, we look like Mississippi."
The governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant, was not pleased. But then, no one wants to look like Mississippi.

"I support my president and love my president, but I think he is wrong. He is not God, and he doesn’t speak for all black folk because he is African-American.”

Reverend Keith Ogden of Asheville, North Carolina spoke words in line with the Christian Right, but also ones which they did not want to hear: "I support my president and love my president."

The "Wedge" is not working as well as it could. Look forward to the rhetoric being ramped up past the pulpits.

A Weekend Break - Going To A Garden Party

Actually, My Own...

I live in a world of hypocritical evil: the righteously arrogant among us are always battering at my faith in humanity. So sometimes it's necessary to get away from it all. The last day has been such a break, with planting things at my Community Garden (Park Merced, San Francisco, CA). You couldn't possibly enjoy it as much as I did, but I still want to share:

(feel  free to click on the pic to enlarge).

First, a trip to the nursery        Then on to the community Garden               

 Planted Diaschia in the 4 
corners of my 4x4 plot  thes rest are pics of neighboring plots                                                                                                                                             

This is A Relief! We Can Buy Christmas Presents This Year!

The world will NOT end on Dec. 12th as thought. And that movie was made for naught.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Just had to share...

This quote is priceless - and can be used on a number of things, not just nuns' confessions.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Romney's Prep School Bully Stigma And Why "Dumb Things" Doesn't Wash: A Very Personal View.

Perhaps it is Romney's youth that will 
finally belie the youthful Romney
There are certain things in a person's psyche that are harder to change than others . A feeling of superiority is one of them. And when you are bred to believe that you are superior, that feeling is almost insurmountably hard to dislodge from your mind...and your soul.

I went to a Catholic boys college prep school, and although it was not exactly the image of Pencey Prep* because it was a commuter school, it was perhaps the most elitist school in the Chicagoland area. The most elitist, the most academic...and the most macho: from our first day of freshmen year we were referred by the priests/teachers as "men." Our football and swim teams were considered among the best in the country. So many of our "men" went to Notre Dame that my going to the University of Illinois was looked upon as a humiliating apostasy. Because of its proximity to Chicago, it was certainly an upper class school for sons of the Mafioso. And with its Dominican priests, it was strict and not for the faint of heart.

Being even slightly effeminate made for four difficult years. Four VERY difficult years, in fact.

Every morning I knew that I would have a horrendous time in PE, I would upchuck breakfast. I was a "spaz". Some guys called me "Vo-Queer" instead of Vojir. I hung out with others like me - other guys who didn't completely fit in. We simply called ourselves "The Group" (before Mary McCarthy's book ever came out). By happenstance, we all came out of the closet in our mid-twenties**, but during our prep school years, we knew what "homosexuals" were, what they did sexually, and that they had relationships.

So perhaps the most disingenuous statement made by Mitt Romney after the appearance of "Lord of the Shears" is:
"I don't remember that incident," Romney told Kilmeade. "I tell you I certainly don't believe that I ... thought the fella was homosexual. That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s. So that was not the case.
He knew. He remembered ... and he knew. Bullies always remember their exploits: they brag about them enough to keep them fresh for a long while. They especially brag about their exploits in terms of sexuality: beating up fags is as much of a right of passage as having sex with members of the opposite sex. In extreme cases, sometimes sodomizing (gang-raping) an effeminate boy was also a right of passage. Showers and locker rooms were not always the safest places to be, especially if you had a limp wrist.

The Romney campaign has predictably back peddled with an "apology", claims of "evolution" and "dumb things." Supposedly we should all move on and look past it to a man who has a sterling character. But the portrait of Mitt Romney emerging as an insufferably arrogant, preppy kid is totally appropriate in a world that demands the birth certificate of the President.

The Bully Being Bullied

The timing of the expose couldn't have been more hazardous for the Romney campaign, coming at the heels of Romney's gay advisor Richard Grenell resigning from pressure from other bullies - the Christian Right. The boyhood "pranks" are explained away as simply the result of typical teenage angst, kind of like what waterboarding of detainees at Guantanamo is to Ann Coultergeist. The irony of the Grenell affair is that some people are sounding like bullies themselves: admittedly, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association does think much of a presidential candidate who will buckle under "yokels" like Bryan Fischer.

Another part of the portrait: some of today's bullies - the corporate kind - aren't particularly concerned about the very poor.

During the past twenty years, Mitt Romney has not physically changed - his youthful visage and energy gave the Republican Party its JFK. The portrait of a man who's temples are grey contrasting to Obama's increasingly graying hair makes a difference in politics since so much of politics is based on appearance. But it's a portrait that may change regardless of Romney's appearance. The "Lord Of The Shears" affair may start to reveal a hidden portrait - one which may turn out more like the Picture of Dorian Grey. How fitting that a story of Oscar Wilde - the most flamboyant man of his time - could serve as a metaphor for such a man.

*The school in J.D. Salinger's Catcher In The Rye.

** I burst, nay, exploded out of the closet, eventually winding up as a go-go dancer at San Francisco's End Up in 1975, two years before Armistead Maupin's Tales of The City featured it.

So Obama's Evolved. Now What? A Boon To The LGBT Community Is Also A Boon To The Right, Christian Or Otherwise

The Bigotry Will Triple
One Comment on Truth Wins Out:"Once upon a time, a much loved/hated President from Illinois got down off the fence and came out in support of basic justice and human rights for a group of people who had been denied these things up to that point. Almost 150 years later, it happened again."
Andrew Sullivan: "[T]oday Obama did more than make that logical step. He let go of fear. He is clearly prepared to let the political chips fall as they may. That's why we elected him. That's the change we believed in.

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a President to speak his mind, inalienable rights can be elevated ... or sometimes get f*cked. Yesterday, President Barack Obama stated, in his usual careful and diplomatic way, that he thinks same-sex couple should have the right to marry, and amidst the cries of jubilation (see above) there will be voices screaming to have him ousted from office immediately. This year's Values Voters Summit, hosted by Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and attended by uber-bigots (like Bryan Fischer of American Family Association) across the country, will be one monstrous Obama-bashing event and Presidential nominee-apparent Mitt Romney will be ballyhooed more than the Second Coming.

This year's Summit may even allow a Ku Klux Klan booth.* Who knows?

The above is the headline for FOX Nation, the blog for FOX News. It's indicative of what is to come. "War On Marriage"... is too strong for a "news" outlet and is the same phrase used by the Christian Right and NOM. The "Flip Flops" is an inept attempt to counter the usual criticism of Romney's politics.

And more (courtesy, Joe.My.God):
  • Alliance Defense Fund: Today's statement is a tragic contradiction that promotes the creation of even more fatherless and motherless homes.
  • Traditional Values Coalition: North Carolina just became the 31st state to affirm the sanctity of marriage. As if mainstream Americans needed any further reasons to reject Obama’s radical social agenda, we were most certainly reminded today.
  • The Catholic League: The time has finally come to pass a constitutional amendment affirming marriage as an institution reserved to the only two people who can naturally produce a family, namely a man and a woman.
These sound relatively mild, but the wild is yet to come. Already false speculations are emerging: one is that the Obama campaign is depending upon gay money since gays, of course have more money than God.

The myth that gays have more disposable income, however, is dispelled by the fact that a higher than national average are caregivers for their partners and parents** - those people for whom straight relatives (mostly siblings) have little or no concern. If the Obama administration doesn't know that it might be disappointed in the level of campaign donations. However, it will not be disappointed by the level of campaign work by gays and lesbians, reaching perhaps the level of 2008.

Reality, however, has never bothered the Right when it comes to attacking the Left. In this, the ferocity of the Right cannot be underestimated: they will counter Democratic campaigns with organizations like the discredited NOM. They will double-down on sanctioned bullying in schools. They will trumpet lies against Planned Parenthood and the Girls Scouts.

All of Mitt Romney's sins will be whitewashed to the nth degree.

And their victory in North Carolina will embolden them to paint gay activists as godless but powerfully manipulative demons and Obama as the anti-Christ for helping them along.

All liberals - gay and straight, better hunker down for an exceptionally vicious war.

*On religious grounds, of course. Those are fiery CROSSES, aren't they?
** The national average is 17% while the average for gays is 21%.

The Cases Of Dynasty And Ja'Maya: Fending Off Bullies Can Get You Expelled ... Or Charged With A Felony

And yes, it's an ironic name for the high school.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — An independent arbitrator ruled Monday that an Indiana gay teen will remain expelled from Arsenal Tech High School in Indianapolis until January 7, 2013 for discharging a stun gun on school property to discourage an attack by bullies.
17-year-old Darnell "Dynasty" Young was bullied for a long time at his high school. So long, in fact, that his mother gave him a stun gun for protection. He carried it in his backpack for weeks without even ervealing that he had possession of such a defense device. Then on April 16, he was approached by six young men in between class buildings who threatened to beat him up. He then pulled out the stun gun and fired it in the air to ward them off.

For that act of self-defense, Dynasty is not able to finish his junior year, nor the entire first semester of his senior year.*

There will be a rally for Dynasty on May 15 during the meeting of the school board.

Interviews with Dynasty and his mother, Chelisa Grimes, revealed several additional points about the bullying: it involved rumors about having sex with certain teachers and it also brought up the question "How far does this go?" Another point: will schools ever come up with rules as to the extent a teen can respond to bullying if he or she feels his life is threatened?

"Weapon" versus "Firearm"

The concealed carrying of a stun gun is legal in 43 states since tasers are not considered firearms by the U.S. Government. Carrying a stun gun to school, therefore, carries the same weight as carrying a knife, so would Dynasty's penalty have been as severe if he had wielded a knife?

The Case of Ja'Maya in BULLY

The movie BULLY may be one of the most powerful presentations on the subject because it focuses on the bullied teens, their families and the families of teens whose suicides were the results of relentless bullying. 13 million kids are bullied each year and many parents simply do not feel that their kids are safe. As in the case with Chelisa Grimes, she thought giving her son a taser would help him fend off the bullies. But in the case of BULLY's Ja'Maya (no last name given), the victim took matters into her own hands by brandishing a gun against her attackers on a school bus. Her mother had no idea that she had possession of the gun. As a result of the incident, however, Ja'Maya faced over 40 FELONY CHARGES. She was eventually put on probation instead of being placed in jail.

Dynasty, Ja'Maya and BULLY have a common thread: both parents and kids feel powerless against bullies because school systems have refused to take a pro-active stance against the "kids-will-be-kids-they're-cruel-at-this age" meme. To what point do they take matters into their own hands? Should they be armed in any way?

Has it come to this:

The Knuckle-Blaster (pictured above)
You wear this 950000 volt stun gun on your knuckles like a knuckle cap and punch your aggressor with a powerful blast of electric shock to incapacitate him and if you hold the device to your aggressor’s body for a longer period, he may fall down on the ground in pain and contortion.

A deadly serious discussion is needed. NOW.

*To date, there has been no action against the teens who surrounded Dynasty that day. Maybe they cited religious grounds.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Agree With Dan Savage

So President Obama has finally EVOLVED. There's still a long, long way to go. And here's what the Right will make of it:

Uh, Is That John Revolta?

"Hollywood is controlled by homosexual Jewish men who expect favors in return for sexual activity."
It was divulged yesterday that Johnn Travolta is being sued by his masseur for homosexual advances. Oh Boy!

Oh, how the mighty tits have fallen!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lest We Forget: Vain Hubris Can Be Disastrous - The Hindenburg Showed Us How.

American exceptionalism has been in the news so much lately that you'd think it was an inbred trait of America.

It is. Only it was called by other names in the past: "Manifest Destiny" and "American Colonialism." The concept of America as the Number One nation in the world, it seems has always been with us, but there have been times when our swelled heads have been deflated - pride going before the fall, so to speak.

Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of the Hindenburg disaster, an epic tragedy in many ways to many people, but perhaps the biggest setback to a prideful National Socialist Party and its homeland, Germany.

It was May, 1937, and Germany was still riding a high from 1936 - hosting the Summer Olympics and re-occupying the Rhineland (against the Treaty of Versailles) in its first real aggressive act since WWI. True, it was fighting some bad vibes from other countries (especially the U.S. and even the Vatican), but it also saw the unifying of Germany and Japan against Communist Russia in the Anti-Comintern Pact. Germany as a power in the air had been established for a long while, with the flying of zeppelins as proof of Germany's technological superiority.

There was hubris tinged with irony in the disaster: it was first proposed that the massive zeppelins be filled with helium, a non-flammable substance, but because America - the biggest producer of helium gas during the 20s and 30s - had a military embargo against Germany banning the import of helium, Germany was forced to use flammable hydrogen as the primary lift gas for zeppelins. For years, the zeppelins filled with hydrogen had operated without a problem, giving Germany the feeling that it had mastered the art of lighter-than-air flying. The Hindenburg was, in a sense, the Titanic of zeppelins, drawing onlookers wherever it went - and especially where it landed. It had, in fact, flown 34 successful transatlantic trips in 1936.

The film of the disaster will remain in history's memory forever: not until 9/11 had anyone ever seen instant flaming destruction on such a scale.

Not until 9/11 - perhaps the other wake up call to a nation's hubris. Yes, it may seem a stretch to compare the two, but bear with this concept: whether natural or man-made, disasters can bring countries of great import to to their knees. More than humbling, disasters can be a reality check, a jolt back into perspective. The problem with that jolt, however, is how we react to it: if we react with more hubris (the cowboy diplomacy of George Bush?), we may be worse off than before.

American exceptionalism, as said before, has always been with us. We are the shining City On a Hill "exempt from historical forces that have affected other countries." (wikipedia). "Exempt" may too mild a word for a country that has considered a capitalist, boot-straps, take-charge energy to be the be-all and end-all of everything good for a nation and its inhabitants. Exceptionalism has created, if you will, a blindness to America's history of its ills and lack of morality. We have today some Americans who have flatly stated that African-Americans were better off under slavery. We have political forces teeming to obliterate the hard-won labor movement. The Christian Right backs only corporations and politicians who subscribe to a Puritan ethic, mindless in that ethic's war on humanity. The OWS movement is considered an outright war on capitalism. The singing duo Garfunkel and Oates have been roundly criticized for coming out with a parody, We-Are-The-World video entitled Save The Rich (see below). American exceptionalism is in full force.

So when is going to be America's next Hindenburg? It's next 9/11? When are we going to jolted back into the reality that we have a long way to go to be as perfect as we think we are? When it happens, let's hope that we will have the integrity and leadership to accept the reality check and go on from there.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I Heartily Apologize To Readers

Yes, I've been REALLY remiss in postings lately. I know you're out there thinking, WTF? Well, I have to say that my OpEdNews posts have literally taken on a life of their own and the viewership makes it necessary. And it's difficult posting for numerous venues. Nonetheless, I apologize for the neglect. 

So here's a round-up of recent posts - the links will lead you to them.

For a Good Time, Call ... Your Local Church Lady. Leslee Unruh is an insane abstinence-only freak.

The Monday Sermon: Why We should Keep The Wall Between Church And State to Tear Down The Walls Of Bigotry And Hatred. Jefferson had motives.

Fighting The Richteous Right with 300 OpEdNews Articles. Was It Worth It? Boy, am I tired!

Fighting The Righteous Right With 300 OpEdNews Articles: Was It Worth It?

There is something to be said about a passion for exposing hypocrisy.

"... and then Dr.Meade thundered, losing his temper: 'Our men have fought without shoes before and without food and won victories. And they will fight again and win!...Think of - think of Thermopylae!'
...'They died to the last man at Thermopylae didn't they, Doctor?' Rhett asked, and his lips twitched with suppressed laughter."
Articles on religion and politics are like warriors in the culture wars: they can attack or defend whenever necessary. So when my number for OpEdNews came to 300, I could only think of : Thermopylae...
and Rhett Butler.

I have a thing for Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind, not only for the feisty character of Scarlett O'Hara, but for the wit and cynicism of Rhett Butler. A close examination of the characters reveals that Mitchell gives every character a certain amount of depth by revealing what their thoughts are, but not Rhett - he is observed in detail, but his inner self and motives are always mysteries left to the imagination of the reader. I like to think that his motives, his cynicism, his passion run too deep for analysis. Rhett Butler is passionate about life, people and beauty in the world, but he never lets on. He must be a tremendously frustrated, closeted writer.

That is one of his personality traits I differ with: I am certainly not reticent to write about my passion.

Passion. The culture wars do not lack for passion. OpEdNews makes a writer's work look serious and effortless in the same tome and at the same time. That's because there so much passion. Writers like Chris Hedges go about skewering the Right with an intensity and passion that seems almost inbred and the writing seems effortless. Would that were really so, at least with my own fare: an article can take me from 5 hours to three days.

Yes, every day writing about the culture wars can be said to be filled with passion, yet there's irony in that each day's writer's routine (at least mine) is frustrated by a tedium which must be endured to form the next soldier.

News Feeds: The Culture Warrior's Life's Blood and The Near Death Of His Soul. 

I often wonder if people realize how many news feeds a culture war writer has to go through each day to cull the best ideas - or how demoralizing news feeds are to someone who has to deal with the exigencies of the culture wars created by Rightwing politics and the Christian Right. They're a dream and a curse: emergencies on the screen occur as if they are there to personally frustrate writers like me. Yet each morning I wake up to a string of headlines for AP, CNN, CBS, MSNBC, LGBTQ Nation,  Firedog Lake, Crooks and Liars, Joe.My.God., Religion Dispatches, Right Wing Watch, Think Progress, The Daily Dish (Andrew Sullivan), OpEdNews and my own blog, The Devil and Dan Vojir (to prove to myself that I actually lived through yesterday). After perusing them with as much elation or rancor I can stomach, I can finally savor my morning coffee - usually my third cup.

News feeds can kill the creative spirit, however: the barrage of news is frightening and it often looks as if absolutely EVERYTHING has been written already. The soul is almost fatally challenged. I keep reminding myself that writers like Chris Hedges, Andrew Sullivan and Joe Jervis must also endure the same barrage of news, commentaries, trivia, anecdotes, and WTFs. They sift through it all to come up with ten, twenty posts a day. All original. God! Sometimes I hate their prolific, creative asses.

The State of Religion and Politics Today: The Rise Of Demonizers and The Fall Of Reason

One might think that writing on religion and politics presents a constant inner, suicidal struggle: to kill yourself now by means of sheer depression or to kill yourself later by means of uncontrollable laughter. Yeah, it's true. With the machinations of Cindy "Japan-is-shaped-like-a-dragon" Jacobs,  Anne Coulter(geist), Pat Robertson, Bryan Fischer, Rick Santorum, Pope Benedict XVI, Concerned Women of America, the NRA, the GOP and FOX/Faux News, it's a wonder that any progressive writer is still alive.

I chose the latter form of suicide: I figure that laughing AT them all while I'm going to my death can cause the most damage: "Against The Assault of Laughter, Nothing Can Stand" - Mark Twain. Yep, I'm going to take as many of them with me as I can.

And I have so many, many potential victims: the demonizers who feed their righteous arrogance by spouting hatred and fake morality are on the rise. Crouching behind the rise in hate groups is the growing number of what Andrew Sullivan calls "religionists" or "Christianists", those people for whom separation of church and state is the greatest biblical "abomination" outside of  homosexuality and women's reproductive rights. They are joined by coat-tail demonizers such as Tea Party Obama-haters.

And with their rise, comes the fall of reason: Kentucky's Creation Museum has spawned a $175 million Noah's Ark theme park (sans dinosaurs, of course). The State of Tennessee has flown in the face of reason by passing an "abstinence only" (non)sex education bill. The GOP denies that there's any war on women while BOTH parties pay their women staffers less than men. To the rest of the world, America has become one big WTF? and is now hiding its conservative and over-religionized head in the sand.

3 years - 300 articles - 250,000+ words - 464 comments - 410,000+ page views

All this begs the question: is any of it worth it? The long days and even longer hours. The frustrating feeling  that one is tilting at windmills. The never ending string of bigots and hypocrites. The constant nurturing of a snarky attitude.  Is there any encouragement? Is there any sense of accomplishment? Is there any sense of ... self?

The drive to communicate in some people (like me) is defeating in that we rarely stop for a response, so a venue like OpEdNews  let's us experience encouragement in many ways: thank God for OpEdNews readers. And as for my own  sense of accomplishment, to me, exposing hypocrisy is exhilarating to the point of orgasm.

You could say that exposing hypocrisy is its own reward.

Dealing With The Depths of Contempt and The Heights of The Orgasms

I have a small black named Katie Scarlett (of course). She has a special perch attached to my desk -a slideout topped with a pad from an old footstool. She routinely scratches at my shoulder to demand attention or treats. But most of the time she lays across the pad with her head slung slightly over the edge of her spot. It may not seem a taxing job for a writer's cat, yet she works tirelessly at being my guardian, my critic, the mirror of my tired soul. She is the innocence I lack. Her presence helps me deal with the highs and lows of writing against the Christofascist Right and Conservative Clowns. She sees me through the depths of contempt and the heights of those orgasms brought about by sadistically skewering hypocrites.

Thank you Katie. Thank you OpEdNews readers.

BATTLE OF THE BULLIES!!: Dan Savage and Brian Brown To Fight Over ... "Bullsh*t"

(Author's note: Why didn't I get as much attention for calling some beliefs "crap"? Some people have all the luck!)

At a high school journalism convention, anti-bullying and gay activist Dan Savage (founder, It Gets Better movement and creator of the neologism "Santorum"), as is his want, made a crude remark making a point we all know: parts of the Bible are simply ... bullsh*t. However, he didn't say that the Bible was ALL bullsh*t, just parts of it, especially some of the laws of Leviticus. Some students showed their disdain for Savage's comments by walking out.*

Now people (aka FOX News) are calling Dan Savage a bully
...and THE WAR has begun.

Glenn Beck's THE BLAZE:

Front and center in the phalanx of Christian Right critics is Brian Brown. The National Organization for Marriage's president became absolutely incensed at Savage's "savaging" (Brown's wit is astounding) of the Bible. Yes, that's the same National Organization for Marriage (NOM) that tried unsuccessfully to boycott Starbuck's for its support of same-sex marriage.***
Let me lay down a public challenge to Dan Savage right here and now: You want to savage the Bible? Christian morality? Traditional marriage? Pope Benedict? I’m here, you name the time and the place and let’s see what a big man you are in a debate with someone who can talk back. It’s easy to make high-school girls cry by picking on them. Let’s pick on someone our own size!
You will find out out how venal and ridiculous your views of these things are if you dare to accept a challenge.
The response:

FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2012

Confidential to NOM's Brian Brown: You're On, Motherfucker

posted by  on FRI, MAY 4, 2012 at 2:02 PM

I will name the time and the place, per your offer, as soon as possible. Looking forward to it, NOMnuts.

Lines have been drawn. Souvenir dueling pistals are being made. National bookies are taking bets. People are praying that the event take place near their home so that they won't have to break their bank accounts on airfare to attend the event. Forget the upcoming election debates - this will be the one for the history books.

The uproar even spawned some critics who are usually Savage's biggest allies, but most of that criticism resulted from what they considered Savage's being "crass" and not the message itself: that parts of the Bible are pointedly ignored because they are WRONG. 

But what exactly is this "war" about? The horrendously rotten, bullying, evil, persecuting passage of Dan Savage's speech:

“People often point out that they can’t help it. They can’t help with the anti-gay bullyings because it says right there in Leviticus, it says right there in Timothy, it says right there in Romans that being gay is wrong. We can learn to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about gay people the same way we have learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things.
The immediate context of the offending speech is here. Savage points out the strict Leviticus laws concerning slavery and stoning women who have been found not to be virgins before marriage ("Calista Gingrich lives") and focuses on the fact that we totally discount such concepts while taking the one concept of homosexuality and making discrimination against gays legitimate. He was making the bullying point of "you're going to hell" ridiculous, i.e:  "bullshit." 

What the incident brought out, however, is that an enormous over-sensitivity to anything dealing with the Bible is...bullshit. Students began walking out once the Bible was mentioned. Their brains shut down before Savage's point could even be formed. The possibility of the entire walk out having been staged has been discussed: knee-jerk reactions can be suspicious.

Note in the clip below, the fact that FOX News' Steve Doocy says nothing about the applause and laughter Savage's speech also created. In fact, the amount of students in agreement far outnumbered the dissidents, conveniently making "Christianity" look like a persecuted minority.

For the convenience of Savage's critics, I created a Wordle with a graphic that NOM can use, it being in the form of a wedge - NOM's favorite shape. It's too bad that the word "bullsh*t" wound up to be so small because Savage only said it about three times. (If you click on the actual Wordle below it, "bullsh*t" is easier to read).


So the uproar is really it's own "bullshit" - but the debate promises to spawn super bullshit from the losers: Odds are on Savage to win, but "belief" and twisted reasoning will belong to Brown in the end. Leave it to the likes of Glenn Beck and Steve Doocy to see to it.  

*Some people think the walk-out was suspiciously contrived since, you will notice in the video, students began to walk out BEFORE the offensive term.
**Evidently being called "pansy-assed" is extreme cursing. (NOTE: this article was posted under the heading of "Science" WTF?)
 *** Starbuck's stock remains at an all-time high.