Wednesday, July 01, 2015

More Wednesday Male Beauty



Jeb Bush’s South Korean Sugar Daddy


The Republicans seeking to attack Hillary Clinton for her husband's speaking fees and alleged conflicts of interest may need to tread cautiously.  As noted before, Jeb "Jebbie" Bush may have problems of his own in this regard, including largess doled out by those benefiting form his idiot brother's failed regime.   Of particular note is Poongsan Corporation, and its CEO Jin Roy Ryu have been generous patrons of the Bush family over the years. In return, the company won more than $1 billion in contracts from Jebbie's brother’s presidential administration.  Politico looks at what it calls Jebbie's South Korean sugar daddy.  Here are highlights:

As he amassed wealth after leaving the governor’s office, Jeb Bush delivered 10 separate paid speeches to a South Korean metal company that won more than $1 billion in contracts from his brother’s presidential administration, according to disclosures released Tuesday.

The company, Poongsan Corporation, and its CEO Jin Roy Ryu have been generous patrons of the Bush family over the years, raising about $1 million for the presidential library of Bush’s father George H. W. Bush, while also helping to organize trips to South Korea for Jeb Bush and his presidential relatives.

The first speech was in 2007, just months before George W. Bush’s administration awarded Poongsan a coin-production contract with the U.S. Mint worth as much as $1 billion. Jeb Bush delivered nine more speeches between then and 2013, when he delivered two separate speeches to Poongsan..

Bush’s association with Poongsan dates back to the mid-1990s, when he was the president of his father’s presidential library foundation, where Ryu sits on the board of trustees.

Jeb Bush served as Florida governor from 1999 to 2007, after which he began giving paid speeches to Poongsan and other companies and non-profits during a period of rapid wealth accumulation.

His net worth mushroomed from $1.3 million to $19 million, according to tax returns and other documents released by Bush’s presidential campaign on Tuesday. The document release – which included a list of 277 speeches that paid a total of nearly $10 million – seemed intended partly to highlight Bush’s commitment to transparency and also to head off a damaging trickle of stories about his ties to controversial businesses.

But the documents also contain fodder for Bush’s critics, who have sought to cast him as a privileged scion of a political dynasty with little in common with middle-class voters. Democrats highlighted affiliations Bush’s allies would rather avoid – such as his work as an adviser for Lehman Brothers, which paid him $1.3 million a year before it went bankrupt and helped spur the financial crisis.

And, while the list of speeches does not contain precise dates or amounts for each speech, it does in some ways shed light on how Bush traded on the political clout that comes with being a former governor who is the son of one former president and the brother of an outgoing one.

Neither Jeb Bush’s campaign spokeswoman nor PMX representatives responded to questions about the speeches or the Bushes’ relationship with Poongsan or Ryu.

Overall, the company has received $1.6 billion in federal contracts, primarily from the U.S. Mint, but also from the U.S. Army.   In addition to coins, Poongsan manufactures ammunition, including land mines and cluster bombs that have run afoul of international human rights standards.

Perhaps those who live in glass houses - i.e., Jeb Bush - should be careful about casting stones.

How the Bible Was Re-Written to Condemn Homosexuality

In the wake of last week's marriage ruling, we are seeing a resurgence of homophobia and bigotry justified by citations to the Bible.  Invariably, the bigots claim the Bible is the "inerrant word of God" and "God's law."  As noted in numerous previous posts, there is much that we don't know - e.g., who really authored its books - one thing that we do know is that the versions in circulation likely bear little or no resemblance to the original texts.  Over the centuries, the Bible has been revised and re-written to further the agendas of factions within the Catholic Church vying for power, control, and of course, money.  Sadly, these vying agenda were more important to the revisers than necessarily remaining true to the original texts. A piece in Gay Star News looks at some of the deliberate re-writes made in order to condemn and attack gays and same sex love.  Here are some excerpts:
We’ve a lot to celebrate this pride season. The Irish have voted to extend marriage to same-sex couples, Greenland too, and across the US anti-gay laws have been droping like popsicles in the sun – with the highlight being the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.

Some of equality’s most vocal opponents have been Christian churches and organizations. Right-wing evangelicals, Orthodox patriarchs, African bishops maintain the Bible is intrinsically anti-homosexual.

They say it clearly condemns homosexuality as a sin, an abomination, even that Jesus hated gays. But do the Biblical sources say these things?

In the tens of thousands of verses that make up the Bible, ‘homosexuality’ is, for the sake of argument, mentioned six times.

These brief but much quoted passages are by no means clear and would have been lost amid the enormity of wider Biblical narratives were it not for a determined anti-homosexual agenda.

First up, there’s the conflation of homosexuals with ‘Sodomites’, the inhabitants of the city of Sodom destroyed by God in Genesis. Early Church commentators, such as the fourth century Patriarch of Constantinople, John Chrysostom, interpreted Sodom’s sin to be specifically homosexual acts, which, incidentally, he believed were ‘worse than murder’.

Yet whenever Sodom’s actually mentioned in the Bible it’s only in the context that the Sodomites, suspicious of strangers, sought to do violence towards them.
Passages in Deuteronomy, Leviticus and Paul’s first letter to the Romans routinely get trotted out as evidence of God’s murderous intent.

But the surprising truth is that early Christian translators of the Bible sexed up these texts. They inserted, omitted and mistranslated words and phrases in order to bulk up a case for persecution.

A recent translation of Deuteronomy reads ‘there shall be no… sodomite of the sons of Israel’. But the original Hebrew does no such thing. It referred to something like ‘sacred male prostitutes’ – men who engaged in orgiastic sex rituals with people of either sex among Israel’s non-Jewish neighbors.

Leviticus 18.22 has always been the great stumbling block for Christians.  . . . . the Hebrew reads ‘[y]ou shall not lie with a male on the bedding of a wife; it is a despised thing’. Quite right too, shagging your boyfriend on your wife’s bed would be bad form!

The only source of anti-homosexual rhetoric in the New Testament is the writings of Paul, specifically the first letter to the Corinthians and, more extensively, Romans I.

The Gospels are, crucially, silent on the matter.

The Greek text of Corinthians says that ‘the corrupt, and men who lie with men’ will not inherit the Kingdom of God.  But a version in Aramaic, a language commonly spoken among Jews and Gentiles in the Middle East, reads ‘the corrupted, and those who rape men’, a significant reversion. Most likely, Paul was condemning coercive same-sex acts not homosexuality.

Put simply, modern Christian homophobia is based on manipulations of the original Bible

But what about positive Biblical accounts of same-sex relations, like the love between David and Jonathan? And is Christ entirely silent on the issue?  What about his healing of the Centurion’s beloved servant? Or his opinion in Matthew that men ‘who were born that way’ shouldn’t marry?
Well these too were subject to textual revision in Greek and Latin translations to play down their significance or render them ‘Platonic’.

The Gospels’ silence cannot be construed as ‘being gay is a sin’. It doesn’t mean Jesus hates gays. As the Canterbury glass shows, it was anxiety over the old religions and their comfortable relationship with sex and sexuality that prompted the early church fathers.

So they turned to drafting Imperial edicts which, by the end of the fourth century, had effectively criminalized same-sex relationships, including same-sex marriage, to one of the worst crimes in history.  Stamp out same-sex love and you’ll stamp out rival cults.

For centuries this dogma has triumphed over truth, the alterations to the original Biblical texts became the word of God, and that forgery is still being used to persecute LGBTI people from Moscow to Mombasa.

Candidly, when I hear some "godly Christian" spouting off on the Bible's inerrancy, I at times find it difficult to refrain from asking them why the haven't had "I'm an idiot" tattooed on their foreheads.  Only an idiot should still believe that the Bible is the "inspired word of God."  It is a corrupt work of fallible men who had as the main objective wrenching power, control and money from rival cults.

U.S. Justice Department Files Brief in Support of Glouster County Transgender Student


As noted, the husband and I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Gavin Grimm, a transgender male high school student in Gloucester County, Virginia - Gloucester is across the York River from Yorktown - a week ago this past Monday at an event at our home.  In the process we heard of Gavin's plight with the Gloucester County public schools after "a concerned community member" complained about Gavin's use of the boys' rest room facilities.   To date the identity of this "concerned community member" has not been revealed by school authorities, but in past Gloucester County actions against LGBT individuals and even the barring of library books in the public library, the culprits have been one or more local ignorance embracing pastors.  Now, as BuzzFeed is reporting, the U.S. Department of Justice is getting involved in the lawsuit brought on Gavin's behalf by the ACLU.  Here are story highlights (the court brief can be viewed at the end of the article):
A transgender teenager in rural Virginia got a powerful ally this week in his legal fight to use the boys restroom at his public high school.

Lawyers at the U.S. Justice Department filed a statement of interest in federal court that argues the Gloucester County School Board violated Gavin Grimm’s rights by passing a policy prohibiting transgender students from using restrooms that don’t correspond to their “biological genders.”

“Discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status, is discrimination based on sex,” Justice Dept. lawyers state in a brief filed Monday in U.S District Court in Virginia. Lawyers in the department’s Civil Rights Division further argue that discrimination based on an individual’s nonconformity to sex stereotypes also discriminates on the basis on sex.

“The United States has a significant interest in ensuring that all students, including transgender students, have the opportunity to learn in an environment free of sex discrimination,” the brief says. “[I]t is the view of the United States that it is in the public interest to allow [Grimm], whose gender identity is male and who presents as male in all aspects of life, to use the male restrooms at Gloucester High School.”

Grimm had initiated a lawsuit against his school board in June. Filed by the ACLU, the complaint asked the court to strike down the school board’s restroom policy and impose an injunction that allows him to use the boys restroom when he returns to school in September.

Previously, Grimm had filed a complaint against the school board with the Justice Dept.
At the crux of Grimm’s lawsuit and the Justice Dept.’s filing is Title IX of the Education Act of 1972, which bans schools that receive federal money from discriminating on the basis of sex.
By stepping into the lawsuit, the Justice Dept.’s further carves out the Obama administration’s role as transgender-rights disputes grow litigious over restroom access in schools.
[T]he Justice Dept. argues, the definition of “sex” is broad under Title IX and that “an individual’s gender identity is one aspect of an individual’s sex … Consequently, discrimination on the basis of gender identity is ‘literally’ discrimination on the basis of sex.”
Compared to Gloucester County, the rest of Hampton Roads is a bright center in a liberal universe.  What I find shocking is that in order to appease Bible beaters, the school board is seemingly willing to lose federal funding.  One can only hope that sane residents wake up and read the school board the riot act. 


Wednesday Morning Male Beauty


Resisting Gay Marriage Is a Losing Battle for the GOP

Despite the fact that polls that show a majority of Americans support the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, many Republicans are pledging to oppose the ruling and GOP governors in Louisiana and Texas are giving cover to Clerk's who refuse to issue licenses to same sex couples, claiming that their "religious freedom" is being trampled upon.  Such arguments are a totally disingenuous twisting of what the First Amendment grants to citizens, but with the Christofascists and their political whores in the GOP that simply doesn't matter.  A column in the Washington Post looks at why this is a losing battle for the GOP and will ultimately marginalize the party.  Here are excerpts:
After the Supreme Court’s historic 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, Southern politicians adopted a strategy that became known as “massive resistance.” It doomed the South to a losing battle against not just the court but also a majority of Americans. 

Some GOP conservatives may be on the verge of making a similar mistake in the aftermath of the court’s ruling last week supporting same-sex marriage. At the very time moderate Republicans want to escape positions that isolate them from an increasingly diverse and tolerant country, some hard-right leaders seem ready to double down on a limiting version of “traditional values.”

Poll numbers show why defiance is likely to be a losing strategy. According to the Pew Research Center, 57 percent of Americans support gay marriage. In the aftermath of the court’s decision, this number will probably grow, especially among the younger voters the GOP needs to attract. Among millennials, born after 1980, 73 percent support same-sex marriage.

Denunciations of the ruling came from some right-wing presidential candidates, such as former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. “I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat,” he thundered.

Some moderate Republicans, such as Jeb Bush, straddled the issue, dissenting from the court but promising to uphold the law. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said the ruling “tramples on states’ rights” and that “no earthly court” can alter God’s will, but added that he would comply with court orders.

Cruz’s language was so extreme that it seemed almost a call to ignore or disobey the court. “There is no obligation on others in government to accept the court as the final arbiter of every constitutional question,” Cruz said. Pressed by Inskeep, he affirmed that state officials “should feel no obligation to agree that the court ruling is right.” 

Such intemperate language may have been encouraged by the sneering tone of Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent.
These conservative ripostes recall the aggrieved language used by Southerners after the Supreme Court ruled that school segregation was illegal. Conservatives asserted then the South’s deeply held values and way of life had been attacked. . . . . It took federal troops to eventually impose desegregation.

This is the dark American past toward which some far-right Republicans seem to want to steer their party. The problem is that court-bashing may be good politics for candidates seeking support from older, whiter, more religious voters in the crowded GOP field.

History tells us that intolerance is a losing bet in America, and that those who embrace defiance of the courts regret it later. The Richmond Times-Dispatch apologized to its readers in 2009 for its “editorial enthusiasm for a dreadful doctrine” a half-century before. “The record fills us with regret.” 

As I said, "conservative Christian" = modern day segregationist and racist.

KKK Rally in SC to Defend Rebel Flag and Promote "White Christian Nation"


Try as they might to distance themselves from racists and white supremacists, the Christofascists are finding the effort difficult.  Now, the Klu Klux Klan is making the effort even more difficult as it announces that it will rally at the South Carolina capitol to defend the Confederate flag and to promote "White Christian Nation."  I have often maintained that if you scratch beneath the surface of most supposed Christian "family values" organizations you will find a bunch of would be segregationist and white supremacists.  That holds true for Family Research Council or The Family Foundation here in Virginia.  Patheos.com looks at situation in South Carolina.  Here are highlights:

The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan will rally on the Statehouse Grounds in South Carolina next month to promote a “White Christian nation” and defend the honor of the Confederate flag.
On Monday, state officials confirmed that the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan’s Pelham, North Carolina, chapter have reserved the Statehouse Grounds in South Carolina for a rally in front of the South Carolina Statehouse scheduled for July 18.
The Post and Courier reports the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which calls itself the “largest Klan in America,” filed a permit saying they expected between 100 and 200 people to attend the event on the north side of the building, where the Confederate battle flag is currently being flown.
In a statement, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said the KKK was not welcome: This is our state, and they are not welcome.

However, despite Governor Haley’s protests, Brian Gaines, spokesman for the South Carolina Budget and Control Board, confirmed the rally, noting the state provides rally space at the Statehouse site when space is available or previously not reserved.

The KKK rally promoting a “White Christian nation” and defending the Confederate flag will take place a month after Dylann Roof entered a historic church in Charleston and shot to death nine African-Americans during a Bible study meeting last month.

On their website, the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan claims Southern whites are facing “cultural genocide” while insisting they are not a “hate group.” The group insists that the KKK is all about obeying “God’s law,” and restoring “America to a White Christian nation founded on God’s word.”  The following is an excerpt:
We hate drugs, homosexuality, abortion, and race-mixing because these things go against God’s law and they are destroying all white nations. But rather than focus on hate, we try to focus on the love of our race. Love for our God and Country. Our goal is to help restore America to a White Christian nation founded on God’s word. 

It sounds almost the same as the agenda on the websites of FRC and TFF.  Conservative Christianity is truly something ugly. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

More Tuesday Male Beauty


ACLU Sues Bobby Jindal For Pro-Christofascist Executive Order


Seemingly desperate to court Christofascist voters n the coming Republican caucuses and primaries, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal - whose approval ratings in hid home state are in the toilet - signed an executive order to allegedly fight "discrimination against Christian individuals and businesses" and grant them a license to discriminate against LGBT individuals.  Never mind that the special rights demanded by the "godly folk" were so extreme that they could not win passage in the ultra-reactionary Louisiana legislature.   And never mind that it was Jindal who after the 2012 presidential election debacle said that the GOP needed to stop being "the party of stupid."  Obviously, Jindal is not taking his own advice, and now he is being sued by the ACLU for good measure.  The New Civil Rights Movement looks at Jindal's shameless self prostitution and the ACLU lawsuit.  Here are excerpts:
Back in May, Bobby Jindal's dream of adding to Louisiana law a religious freedom bill that would "protect" Christians from LGBT people and gay marriage failed so miserably it didn't even pass out of committee – despite him personally advocating for and demanding the legislature pass it.

So the Republican Louisiana Governor, having chastised President Barack Obama for lawful use of executive orders to determine which undocumented immigrants would not be deported, based on their family ties in the U.S., signed an executive order designed to, as he wrote an op-ed, fight "discrimination against Christian individuals and businesses." Not, say, "people of faith," or, "those with deeply held religious beliefs," but "Christian individuals and businesses."

On Monday, after the Supreme Court found same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, Gov. Jindal had his legal counsel draft a memo explaining to all branches of government that his executive order shields government employees from having to, say, issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, or officiate a same-sex couple's wedding.

Today, the ACLU Foundation of Louisiana, Forum for Equality Foundation, and six individuals filed suit against Gov. Bobby Jindal's "Marriage and Conscience Order," stating "it goes beyond his constitutional authority as governor."

In a press release, the ACLU notes their lawsuit "asserts that the 'Marriage and Conscience Order' creates a class of persons who are protected over others due to their belief that same-sex couples should be denied marriage equality."
Under the Louisiana Constitution, the governor is not authorized to create a substantive right by executive order. The "Marriage and Conscience Order" creates substantive rights in favor of those who oppose marriage equality, and therefore is invalid.
“Governor Jindal has violated the Louisiana Constitution by setting up special protections for those who share his belief system," ACLU of Louisiana’s Executive Director Marjorie Esman said. "In our country no one is above the law, including the Governor. He swore to uphold the laws of Louisiana. This lawsuit seeks to hold him to that oath."
Jindal is an embarrassment and I suspect many Hindus are shaking their heads in disbelief over his lunacy and shameless self-prostitution to religious extremists, most of who are racists as well.

The Bilerico Project Is Ending

For over five years - actually almost six years - I have had the privilege of being a contributor to The Bilerico Project, an LGBT blog that the Washington Post once described as an LGBT version of the Huffington Post.   Now, as Bilerico founder and my friend Bil Browning explains, The Bilerico Project is shutting down.  In many ways this makes me very, very sad.  At the same time, I completely understand the burn out that comes from writing and or overseeing a blog.   My friend Pam Spaulding- whose writing skills I continually seek to emulate - closed down Pam's House Blend a few years ago.  Similarly, Andrew Sullivan closed down the Daily Dish more recently.   Seemingly, nothing has sprung up to replace these amazing blogs.  Truthfully, I wonder at times how much longer this blog (which dates back to April, 2007) will continue given the hours everyday that are consumed to keep it going.  Labors of love can be exhausting.  Meanwhile, the upside of gays being increasingly "mainstream" is that our own unique news outlets and cultural icons are steadily fading away.  Here in Hampton Roads gay clubs increasingly struggle as the younger generations go to all inclusive venues.   But I digress.  Here is Bil's final post:
Almost 11 years ago, I turned my personal homepage into a blog covering Indiana politics and LGBT issues. A few years later as more and more folks signed up to join me here, we turned our focus national and Bilerico Project was born.

We wanted to cover what was lacking on the big blogs at the time - real political and cultural analysis provided by LGBT movement leaders and everyday activists. We wanted diversity not only in our writers, but also their views. "What's the worst that could happen?" we thought. "No one likes the new format so we go back to our roots?" Thankfully, readers loved the expanded coverage and we were off to a roaring start.

Together we've covered a multitude of important stories. From George W Bush's election to the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality, we've brought the best news and analysis we could. We've made a change in the Salvation Army's anti-LGBT policies and ensured an innocent HIV+ immigrant was released from prison to die surrounded by loved ones. Together, our writers and readers have made a difference.

Projects are meant to be temporary and so was Bilerico Project. After more than a decade, it's time to wrap up our experiment. The media landscape has changed dramatically over the past decade and so have our lives and the LGBT movement itself. It's time to turn the page and start something fresh in this new environment.

My first post in 2004 was a quote from Margaret Meade. "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." I think we've done our part to make the world a better place.

This will be my last post on Bilerico Project. The site will be archived at bilericoproject.com so that all 31,000+ posts will still be available for readers. It's been a long strange journey and I've loved every single moment of it, but the time has come to end the project and call it a success. 

Personally, I'm going to take two weeks off to relax, look for a job, and work on my upcoming book. I will use bilerico.com as my personal blog again when I come back and I have a few ideas for starting something new and different. The spirit of Bilerico Project will live on and I plan on tapping into it as I move forward. I want to go back to my roots.

You'll be able to find essays and longform writing here and, of course, you can find my biweekly column in several LGBT newspapers, a daily news piece at advocate.com, and freelance writing all over the web. You can also like my Facebook fan page for updates on what I'm up to, what I'm writing, and how my ideas for bilerico.com are progressing.

It's been a long and amazing journey to get to this place, but I wouldn't change a thing about the past decade. It's been an honor to share it with all of you. I hope you feel the same.
I want to thank Bil for the honor and privilege he afforded me to be a Bilerico contributor.  I like to think that collectively, we helped to make a difference. Bilerico certainly assembled an amazing group of LGBT bloggers, many of whom I continue to count as friends (many of uds met in person at the LGBGT blogger summit in December, 2008, sponsored by Microsoft and Progressive Insurance). I hope as time goes by we can remain connected via Facebook and other means.  These people hold a special place in my heart.  Bil, thank you so much!