Monday Reads: SCOTUS Slices the Cake Thinly

Good Morning

I’m not a big fan of the institution of marriage. It’s one of those things purposefully set up to make men unnecessarily comfortable and women overtly miserable even though men swear they’re continually put out by it. Women are really sold a fish story on how the marriage thing is in their interests. Few marriages actually wind up being happy and equitable but still, every one hopes for it. I always hope that the institution evolves and think expanding it to the GLBT community helps that along although I wouldn’t be adverse to it going the way of the dinosaurs.

I’ve worked in a man’s field forever and my biggest shock was the level of upmanship expressed by men in groups–when no women are present–on whose wife is the worst. It’s almost always lists of reasonable requests like helping out with work, paying for something that kids or the house requires or doing some activity beyond living at work or on the couch. For some reason, I’ve always been a fly on the wall during these prick sessions. Women share stories about what theatrics men undertake to avoid work. We also know large numbers of wives beaten and/or emotionally abused by husbands. That’s central to women’s gatherings. That plus discussions of everything we gave up and continually give up. I’m going through the DV support with two friends now and it never gets easier. We trudge along with the drudge. Men make their wives monsters for it.

These are the reasons I always have problems with the traditional, patriarchal, religious frame hammered to marriage. This creates some of its worst tendencies as an institution. It always worries me to see laws and legal decisions that add more nails. Man act oppressed by it while taking advantage of its built-in safety net for them to oppress.

Domestic violence is central to enforcing dominance and marriages can be rife with it. You always think it won’t happen to you. You are amazed when they try to tell the family that you made them do it. Well#MeToo One day it went beyond eye rolling and heavy sighs and the “how dare you bitch!” look and I was headed with the youngest in diapers to my parents’ house totally in bruises but only after he tried to stop me from dialing 911 over and over. The instances of domestic violence alone make me happily single, alone in blissful solitude, and never in need of the experience of anything else.

I heard Bill Murray one night express my exact thoughts about marriage both gay and hetero. He failed miserably at it and I personally believe his exwife. After having been mired in marriage for 20 years, all I could think was if the GLBT community really wants it they should have it and I hope they can make less of a mess of it. He said about the same thing.

To be honest, even a large percentage of my long time married friends basically say what I say. If I had it to do over again, I’d have the kids and skip the husband. I’ve been divorced now since 1995. I do not want one of them around useless, in the way, constantly looking put out or angry, and just waiting for you to commit some imaginary sin so they can hit you, turn people against you, and go on doing whatever it is that meets their needs. I’d never enter into that fucked up bargain again. I discouraged my daughters from it. I remember my mom endlessly wailing “But what about my needs?” At one point, I understood fully what “until death us part” really meant. I’d gotten life in prison.

The funny thing is that I’ve gotten to the point now where I truly never fill lonely or understand what that means when folks express the feeling. I’ve grown so comfortable being in solitude that I can’t imagine wanting anything else.

But, I’m old, overly experienced, and I understand everything that’s bundled up and pressed on folks to be married and have a family. I also understand how it functions as an institution that establishes property rights and control. All the Abrahamic religions use it to establish male dominance and supremacy under the grift of it being some kind of sky fairy blessing. I can understand why they hate having all of that taken away and they don’t want to share it.

So, we’ve established that I really don’t do weddings unless truly forced into it. I just cannot contain my strong urge to tell the bride to run because she’s about to do irreparable damage to her entire life.

That being said marriage is between two people and it’s not up to any one else to interpret it or deny their access to what they want from it or the Merger Day. Religion should only define it for those who adhere to that religion. But, that’s not what all religions preach or do.

SCOTUS is comprised of a group of judges with a majority belonging to a cult within Catholicism. That would be Opus Dei. That’s something that even creeps Popes and the Jesuits out and they know a lot about oppression of women and children within religious institutions. It was started in 1928 and adores the concept of “Corporal Mortification”. That should tell you how sick they are. It’s basically a cult. But, a bunch of them sit on the bench because the Republicans love religious fanatics. They vote. Religious diversity left the building when it comes to SCOTUS and the christofascists love it! So, does every other bigoted throwback religion.

They love it because they gradually get to enshrine their sick, twisted, religious views into law. Now, today’s ruling was written by Kennedy and it’s leaving a door cracked open for future dissent, but what it basically does is create a weird notion of ‘religious liberty’. This is not just about the guy that just couldn’t bake a wedding cake for a gay couple and the laws and lawsuits that followed. This is also about situation that followed. It’s about 3 bakeries refusing to make 2 hateful, ‘christian’ themed sheet cakes condemning gay marriage.

Does this decision basically allow hatred and bigotry in the name of religious sects basically infamous for that?

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled for a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple.

In an opinion by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy that leaves many questions unanswered, the court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had not adequately taken into account the religious beliefs of baker Jack Phillips.

In fact, Kennedy said, the commission had been hostile to the baker’s faith, denying him the neutral consideration he deserved. While the justices split in their reasoning, only Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

Kennedy wrote that the question of when religious beliefs must give way to anti-discrimination laws might be different in future cases. But in this case, he said, Phillips did not get the proper consideration.

“The Court’s precedents make clear that the baker, in his capacity as the owner of a business serving the public, might have his right to the free exercise of religion limited by generally applicable laws,” he wrote. “Still, the delicate question of when the free exercise of his religion must yield to an otherwise valid exercise of state power needed to be determined in an adjudication in which religious hostility on the part of the State itself would not be a factor in the balance the State sought to reach. That requirement, however, was not met here.”

So, tell me, wtf does this mean? Here’s SCOTUS blog.

Almost six months to the day after the oral argument, the justices today handed Phillips a victory, even if not necessarily the ruling that he and his supporters had hoped for. Kennedy, the author of some of the court’s most important gay-rights rulings, began by explaining that the case involved a conflict between two important principles: on the one hand, the state’s power “to protect the rights and dignity of gay persons who are, or wish to be, married but who face discrimination when they seek goods or services”; and, on the other, the First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.

As a general rule, Kennedy explained, the Supreme Court’s cases make clear that Phillips’ right to freely exercise his religion is not absolute, and can be limited by neutral laws that apply to everyone. But the critical question of when Phillips’ right to exercise his religion can be limited had to be determined, Kennedy emphasized, in a proceeding that was not tainted by hostility to religion.

Here, Kennedy observed, the “neutral and respectful consideration to which Phillips was entitled was compromised” by comments by members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. One commissioner, Kennedy pointed out, “even went so far as to compare Phillips’ invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust.” Moreover, Kennedy added, the commission’s treatment of Phillips’ religious objections was at odds with its rulings in the cases of bakers who refused to create cakes “with images that conveyed disapproval of same-sex marriage.” Therefore, Kennedy concluded, the commission’s order – which, among other things, required Phillips to sell same-sex couples wedding cakes or anything else that he would sell to opposite-sex couples and mandated remedial training and compliance reports – “must be set aside.”

The majority left open, however, the possibility that a future case could come out differently, particularly if the decisionmaker in the case considered religious objections neutrally and fairly. “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances,” the majority closed, “must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the court’s ruling, in an opinion joined only by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Ginsburg stressed that there “is much in the Court’s opinion with which I agree,” but she “strongly” disagreed with the idea that the same-sex couple “should lose this case.” In particular, she argued, neither the commissioners’ statements about religion nor the commission’s disparate treatment of other bakers who refused to make cakes disapproving of same-sex marriage justified a ruling in favor of Phillips.

So, this is an odd narrow scope. Really odd. Really narrow. Really wtf?

The Supreme Court has ruled that the state of Colorado’s enforcement of its civil rights law was flawed, while reaffirming that LGBTQ Americans should not face discrimination in the provision of goods and services and state law may continue to prohibit such discrimination.

“In today’s narrow ruling against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court acknowledged that LGBTQ people are equal and have a right to live free from the indignity of discrimination,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Anti-LGBTQ extremists did not win the sweeping ‘license to discriminate’ they have been hoping for — and today’s ruling does not change our nation’s longstanding civil rights laws. Yet, the fact remains that LGBTQ people face alarming levels of discrimination all across the country and HRC’s efforts to advance equality are as urgent as ever. With LGBTQ people at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services in 31 states, HRC continues to build momentum for the Equality Act, to elect pro-equality candidates up and down the ballot, and to fight in every corner of our country to advance policies that protect LGBTQ people from being targeted for who they are or whom they love.”

This is basically an invitation to flood the court with wedding cake cases I guess. Does this create the inroads that religious bigots truly desire?

Like a good wedding cake, the Supreme Court’s 7–2 decision on Monday in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commissionhas a little something for everyone. Gay people, who were justifiably terrified that the case could undermine their right to equal service, get a reaffirmation of their “dignity and worth.” Religious-liberty advocates get a continued expansion of the Free Exercise Clause. Anti-gay activists get a victory—a midsize and possibly temporary but still very real win, in a case that few initially expected to even reach the Supreme Court.

Who loses? Everybody who hoped this decision would definitively settle the ostensible clash between LGBTQ rights and religious freedom. In the end, Masterpiece Cakeshop barely resolves anything and doesn’t even touch the free-speech claim at the center of the case. Instead, it punts that question, leaving lower courts (and American society) to continue fighting about how, exactly, Justice Anthony Kennedy should feel about it. A great wedding cake might leave you wanting more, but Masterpiece Cakeshop just leaves you craving something you can actually sink your teeth into.

Like I said, best wishes and good luck to all of you in or entering the marital merge thing! You have me hoping you prove me wrong!!!

Other SCOTUS Decisions

From WAPO: Supreme Court throws out lower-court decision that allowed immigrant teenager to obtain abortion

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a lower court’s decision that allowed an undocumented immigrant teenager to obtain an abortion over the protests of the Trump administration.

The action, which came in an unsigned opinion without noted dissents, throws out a precedent that might allow other teenagers in the same circumstance to obtain an abortion.

The five-page order directs the lower courts to dismiss as moot the teen’s individual claim seeking access to abortion services. The girl, known in court papers as Jane Doe, was able to terminate her pregnancy before the high court got involved. She has since turned 18 and is no longer in federal custody.

Her lawyer, Brigitte Amiri of the American Civil Liberties Union, described as narrow the Monday ruling that she said does not affect a broader challenge to the government’s policy for pregnant teens in federal immigration custody that is pending in District Court in Washington.

zombie-wedding-cake-topper-6-7674SCOTUS Bound Nonsense

Also from WAPO: “Trump says he has ‘absolute right’ to pardon himself of federal crimes but denies any wrongdoing”

President Trump on Monday asserted an “absolute right” to pardon himself of any federal crimes but said he has no reason to do so because he has not engaged in any wrongdoing.

“As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” Trump wrote on Twitter.

In a subsequent tweet Monday, Trump also claimed that the appointment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election had been “totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”

“Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong! Trump said.

Trump’s assessment of his pardon powers echoed that of his attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who offered an expansive view of the president’s executive powers during interviews Sunday, arguing that Trump probably has the ability to pardon himself.

“He probably does,” Giuliani said Sunday, when asked on ABC News’s “This Week” whether Trump has the ability to pardon himself. “He has no intention of pardoning himself, but he probably — not to say he can’t.”

So, that’s it for me!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Welcome to the Jungle

Justice Kennedy delivers opinion in same sex marriage

Justice Kennedy delivers opinion in same sex marriage

How very ironic that it is my day to post and it’s the very day that all my gay friends get access to the one institution that I tell every one I know and love to avoid like a plague.  You can ask my daughters. My first response is that you really don’t have to do this because you’re educated, can make your own life, and you don’t have to continually have your assets, energy, will to live, and dreams drained away from you over time.  Just hang out with him until the inevitable drift to hell becomes obvious.  Please, don’t do it.  It hasn’t worked so far. Just a few months ago, yet another long time, long married friend confessed to me that she–and others she knows–would have the kids and everything else but never do the husband thing again. That’s pretty much where I’m at with an institution designed to make you disappear into chattel v. meal ticket status.

No one can make you happy but you.  That’s basically a head trip. Marriage, however, absolutely gives another person the right to make you miserable in ways that you’d never even dreamed about when you’re lost to bonding hormones.  You can’t ever ever know how to properly enunciate “till death to us part” until you’ve been stuck at least a good 15 -20 years in the institution. Then you realize, it’s pretty much akin to a death row sentence where the things you really wanted to do with your life were left outside the doors.

Bill Murray showed up–seemingly drunk–on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show in May when the nice young gay couple looking to get married that were filmed in  that Hillary Clinton commercial were interviewed.  He pretty much expressed my views exactly.  I really hope you all make a better situation out of it than straight people generally do. Knock yourselves out!  I want nothing to do with any of it!  I frankly think that there’s hope for some change given the rigid expectations that come with an institution that’s generally been defined by really awful stereotypical sex roles and where it may not treated as a purely breeder institution.

So, with you knowing that I am a conscientious objector to the entire institution for any one, I give you the day that marriage equality happened in the USA.  To my knowledge, nobody’s church has crumbled to the ground and no one’s sanctified marriage has been taken away by any angry sky fairy.   This gives legal access to huge numbers of subsidies, tax benefits, and rights that were never available to gay couples before.  For that, I am very happy.  All the spoils that government provides the institution should be available to any one that wants to try to go the distance; especially if they do so with children.

The Supreme Court has given gay couples the right to be married every where in the United States and its territories.  Just think on that one given Scalia, Thomas, and the religious-politico harpies of the the-honeymooners-pow2Republican party.  Teenagers, now is the time to go to law school and become a divorce lawyer.  An entirely new and huge market segment has just opened up. Until then, welcome to the boom in wedding paraphernalia and hoopla.

“Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. He was joined in the ruling by the court’s liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

All four of the court’s most conservative members — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. — dissented and each wrote a separate opinion, saying the court had usurped a power that belongs to the people.

That sums it up and it happened just about the way every one thought it would. Kennedy has always seemed open to the idea that civil marriage was a civil right.  I’m not sure how access to a legal institution basically is a power that belongs to the people, but that appears to be the argument by the court’s hyper religious sour grapes.

Here’s the analysis from SCOTUSBlog.

Putting itself back in the forefront of the gay rights revolution, the Supreme Court ruled by the narrowest margin on Friday that same-sex couples across the nation have an equal right to marry.  The five-to-four decision was based firmly on the Constitution, and thus could be undone only by a formal amendment to the basic document, or a change of mind by a future Supreme Court.  Neither is predictable.

Explicitly refusing to hold off deciding the issue to see how other parts of society may deal with the rising demand for gay acceptance and legitimacy, the Court declared that two clauses in the Fourteenth Amendment mean that a “fundamental right to marry” can no longer be denied because the partners are of the same sex.   It did not create a new right, but opened a long-existing one to those partners.

The ruling was the most important victory in a cultural revolution that began almost exactly forty-six years ago, when patrons of a gay bar — the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village — fought back against a police raid.  The events that began on the night of June 28, 1969, are widely known as the beginning of “gay pride” and an unapologetic campaign for equality.

The decision in Obergefell v. Hodges expressly overruled the Court’s only prior ruling directly on same-sex marriage — a one-line decision in the 1972 case of Baker v. Nelson, declaring that a claim to such marriage did not raise “a substantial question” for the Court to resolve.

Over the last two years, the right to marry has been extended rapidly and widely for gays and lesbians, ultimately expanding the places where they may marry legally to thirty-six states and Washington, D.C., through new laws, court rulings, or voters’ approval.  From a 2003 ruling by the highest state court in Massachusetts allowing same-sex marriage, the movement to gain marital rights had spread from coast to coast, with lawsuits in every state where the right had not yet been recognized.

The decision on Friday will open marriage legally in the remaining fourteen states, and will give new legal protection for those who got married under court rulings that actually could not be considered truly final until the Supreme Court itself had decided the constitutional question.  The decision nullified bans on same-sex marriage as well as bans on official recognition of such marriages performed outside a state.   Both prohibitions, it said, violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantees of due process and equal protection.

6993425243_70e116e576The dissenting justices evidently strongly dissented. Quelle Suprise!

Chief Justice John Roberts not only dissented from the Court’s ruling but also read a summary of his dissent from the bench.  It was the first time that he has done so in his ten Terms on the Court, and it signaled how strongly he disagreed with the Court’s ruling.  Roberts forcefully criticized the majority for side-stepping the democratic process and declaring that same-sex couples have the right to marry when, in his view, such a right “has no basis in the Constitution.”  The Court’s decision, he complained, “orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs.”  “Just who,” Roberts laments, “do we think we are?”  The other three Justices echoed Roberts’s sentiments, sometimes in even more strident terms:  Justice Antonin Scalia characterized the decision as a “judicial Putsch” and suggested that, before he signed on to an opinion like the majority’s, “I would hide my head in a bag.”

I always love that historical and religious marriage is always defined by modern terms.  They so overlook the traditional old man and harem mold.  It’s always amazing to me when people that should be smart and well educated just get so hung up in the frames of their bias that they conveniently overlook a huge amount of history that contradicts their halcyon view. Marriage has had many forms over history. The rich and powerful basically treat it as a protocol for more property, power, and strategic alliances. Beyond the breeding requirements, historically, it’s more of an economic and political arrangement with the exceptions of the old common law marriages of the masses.  Most of those were never even registered or recognized by the state. Here’s the typical ancient Greek marriage according to one scholar.

Closely endogamous marriages between uncles and nieces (and sometimes half-siblings), marriages in which women retained almost no property rights or independence and were regularly both physically segregated and violently abused, and a system in which marriage was designed explicitly to increase and safeguard the property of closely related men while encouraging the production of definitely legitimate male heirs to those men through tightly restricting access to their wives.

Scalia was unhinged, as usual.

“‘The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality,'” he quoted from the majority opinion before adding, “Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality [whatever that means] were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie.”

So, while, I’m just a grumpy pessimist who thinks the entire institution and its subsidies/financial incentives should go away, the 2016 GOP candidates are on their barn burning fatwas.   Which gas bag should I quote first?  Hmmm…. let’s go with the Jebster of love.

“Guided by my faith, I believe in traditional marriage. I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision. I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments. In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side. It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate.”

Prop8-gay-weddingAh, yes, HIS faith should triumph, every one else’s can go to hell, and if we don’t agree with his faith than were oppressing him.  His brain should explode from this basket of contradiction if it were functional enough to fire a synapse to set off the explosion.

Rubio actually tried the pragmatic dogmatic approach. I’ll be interested in seeing how that flies with the hate groups that now comprise the republican base.

I believe that marriage, as the key to strong family life, is the most important institution in our society and should be between one man and one woman. People who disagree with the traditional definition of marriage have the right to change their state laws. That is the right of our people, not the right of the unelected judges or justices of the Supreme Court. This decision short-circuits the political process that has been underway on the state level for years.

“While I disagree with this decision, we live in a republic and must abide by the law. As we look ahead, it must be a priority of the next president to nominate judges and justices committed to applying the Constitution as written and originally understood.

The most interesting thing about this bit of dogma dancing is that Kennedy rooted the finding in the Constitution which solomonwivesmakes what Rubio said flagrantly out to lunch.  (Is it just me or does Rubio always say things that just are not grounded in the facts on the ground?)  Kennedy carefully crafted the decision in light of a constitutional right.

The first line of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, on the legality of same-sex marriage in the United States, is as breathtaking as it is legalistic.

The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.

There it is, the ruling that gay-marriage advocates and opponents have been waiting for since April when the Court took up the case—but really, for years long before that. There is now a constitutional right for people of the same sex to get married in the United States.

He even crafted the ruling’s logic to follow the precedent of similar constitutional rights.

Second, Kennedy writes, marriage is a distinctive institution: “It supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals.” Here, he points to the Court’s opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut, which affirmed the right of married couples to use birth control. “Same-sex couples have the same right as opposite-sex couples to enjoy intimate association.”

So, my gay friends and family, you have total access to the institution of marriage  in these United States.  Please make it a better arrangement for everyone!


Wednesday Reads: Getting Medieval on the GOP’s Ass!

015869e914b4837726f0e88eeec3b043e2fb7bdbadHey Y’all

I could not bear to write a post today. So just take this one for what it is, my overzealous attempt to find a few Medieval images for the thread that reminded me of the GOP idiots who are running or announcing that they are running for Prez…in 2016. I was looking and next thing I know it is four am…go figure.

So, I decided to post the illuminations, manuscripts,  marginalia, bestiary, cheeky monkeys and the like with my own various commentary. Most of which will call back to the clowns that Boston Boomer and Dakinikat have been talking about lately. The images below are found here:

J.J. Lopez Minkoff on Pinterest

and here:  Pinterest: Getting Medieval On Your Ass

 

So the captions within the slide show are just my observations. Click on the links above for the information on the links.

Just a few that are beyond the scope of the political references that are the theme of the post today.

 

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This reminds me of the Seinfeld episode with the marbled rye…“Seinfeld” The Rye (TV Episode 1996) – IMDb it airs tomorrow by the way on TBS.

 

The next image is also from a Seinfeld episode.

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Little Jerry was born to cock fight! “Seinfeld” The Little Jerry (TV Episode 1997) – IMDb

little-jerry-seinfeld-540x409

The_little_jerry

Little Jerry is lean, mean, peckin’ machine!

 

 

811-little-jerry

Tamale!

Okay, now for the slide show…click on the first picture below, it should open up to the larger gallery slide show….if you cannot read the full caption under the image, use the down arrow on your keyboard, it should work to move the text so you can read the entire entry.

 

 

This is an open thread.


Sunday Reads: Forgotten Woman

74afa5ea0d2193d23f98b7d17016c82eGood Morning!

Yup.

———————>

That about says it all.

Plenty of links for you today, and with the way I am feeling…all the horrible things these racist bastards are saying and doing, it is just a link dump today. As usual, the post centers around a theme…this Sunday the theme is, forgotten women.

The women have different stories to tell, some are forgotten by time. Others are overlooked or ignored by the government or their husbands, and then you have those who are having an important aspect of being a woman blatantly disregarded…her rights. (Not that she really had all of them anyway.)

So, let’s just get down to it.  The link dump starts now:

I have other links on this Hobby Lobby shit below, but read this one from Imani Gandy. She will give it to y’all, finished and done. The Obama Administration Should Stop Bending to the Religious Right’s Will

 

White House revises birth control rules to comply with Hobby Lobby | Al Jazeera America

Seeking to quell a politically charged controversy, the Obama administration announced new measures Friday to allow religious nonprofits and some companies to opt out of paying for birth control for female employees while still ensuring those employees have access to contraception.

Even so, the accommodations may not fully satisfy religious groups who oppose any system that makes them complicit in providing coverage they believe is immoral. The administration’s hope is that the new accommodation will be more palatable because it creates more distance between religious nonprofits and the health services they believe are immoral, by inserting the government as a middleman between nonprofits and their insurers.

But the Family Research Council, a socially conservative group, dismissed the new accommodation as an “insulting accounting gimmick” that still leaves businesses and nonprofits complicit in something they view as immoral.

They never will be satisfied. I knew this before the compromise was first offered way back…

Effective immediately, the U.S. will start allowing faith-affiliated charities, colleges and hospitals to notify the government — rather than their insurers — that they object to birth control on religious grounds. A previous accommodation offered by the Obama administration allowed those nonprofits to opt out of paying for birth control by submitting a document called Form 700 to their insurers, but Roman Catholic bishops and other religious plaintiffs argued just submitting that form was like signing a permission slip to engage in evil.

To opt-out of paying for contraceptives without using Form 700, religious nonprofits can send a letter to the Health and Human Services Department that includes the organization’s name, the type of health plan they offer and the name and contact information for their insurance issuers or third-party administrators, officials said. Groups must also explain which types of birth control they object to and state the objection is based on sincerely held beliefs.

The administration’s proposal to let companies like Hobby Lobby use Form 700 will apply only to “closely held” corporations that are owned by families or a small number of investors. The government is asking for the public’s input about how narrowly to define a “closely held” corporation, meaning the rule-making process will drag out for many months before the fix is finalized.

In a related move, the administration announced plans to allow for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby Inc. to start using Form 700. The Supreme Court ruled in June that the government can’t force companies like Hobby Lobby Inc. to pay for birth control, sending the administration scrambling for a way to ensure their employees can still get birth control one way or another at no added cost.

More on birth control, if only these PLUB assholes would admit to the fact that when you Give Teens Access to Birth Control and, Amazingly, the Teen Pregnancy Rate Drops | Smart News | Smithsonian

he teen birth rate in the U.S. has been declining for decades—it’s decreased 57 percent since 1991. But recently, it’s begun dropping dramatically. More than half of that 57 percent change took place just the past six years, says a new report from the CDC.

Alongside the rapidly dropping birth rate, there’s been an equally precipitous dip in teen abortions, which are also down 56 percent over the past two decades. With the birth rate and the abortion rate both down, it seems that teens have decided en masse to just stop getting pregnant. But why?

[…]

In the Washington Post, Tina Griego covers that possibility. In Colorado, she writes, the teen birth rate has dropped 40 percent from 2009 to 2013, the largest drop in the country. That decline, state health officials say, can be traced to a program designed to improve teens’ access to high quality, long-lasting birth control. WaPo:

The Colorado Family Planning Initiative, supported by a $23 million anonymous donation, provided more than 30,000 IUDs or implants to women served by the state’s 68 family-planning clinics. The state’s analysis suggests the initiative was responsible for three-quarters of the decline in the state’s teen birth rates.

What about the longer term downward trend? In 1957, the birth rate among teens age 15 to 19 was 96.3 per 1,000 teens. In 1991, it had dropped to 61.8 per 1,000, and in 2013, it was all the way down to 26.6 births per 1,000 teens.

Then you have the laws, like the one in Texas that is written about here under the title of:  Quackery and Abortion Rights – NYTimes.com

The deception behind the wave of state-level abortion restrictions now threatening women’s access to safe and legal abortions was strikingly revealed during a trial that ended last week in Texas.

The trial, held before Judge Lee Yeakel of Federal District Court in Austin, offered an opportunity to examine evidence and hear arguments in a challenge to crucial portions of Texas’ sweeping 2013 package of abortion restrictions. The challenge, brought by reproductive rights advocates, focuses on two rules, one requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and another mandating that clinics meet state standards for ambulatory surgical centers, an unnecessary and prohibitively costly requirement.

The admitting-privileges rule, which is already in place, has severely limited access to safe and legal care in Texas. Absent court intervention, the situation will get much worse. There are now only 19 abortion clinics in Texas, compared with 41 before the new law. This number could shrink to as few as seven after Sept. 1, when the surgical-center rule takes effect.

And this is where the quack comes in:

A team of lawyers led by the Center for Reproductive Rights and their expert witnesses presented compelling evidence of the destructive consequences of the two rules and the emptiness of the claim that they are necessary to protect women’s health and safety.

By contrast, the state’s defense of the rules was a bizarre and unconvincing show. Four of its five witnesses denied, and then conceded (when confronted with incriminating emails) that their written testimony was crafted by Vincent Rue, an opponent of women’s reproductive freedom best known for promoting kooky claims, like the existence of an abortion-related mental illness he calls “post-abortive syndrome.”

Mr. Rue does brisk business these days orchestrating testimony from pliable witnesses willing to supply “expert” support for state abortion restrictions, a task for which he has been paid $42,000, so far, by Texas. That his guidance is relied upon is incredible given that his own past court testimony and theories have been discredited by judges and others.

If there was anything about forgotten women, it is the ones discussed about in this next piece: A Deadly Epidemic of Violence Against Women – The Atlantic

There is one state where women are getting killed in record numbers. Can you guess what region it is located?

The map is of South Carolina and its counties. “All 46 counties have at least one animal shelter to care for stray dogs,” The Charleston Post Courier reports, “but the state has only 18 domestic violence shelters to help women trying to escape abuse.” One of the red dots represents a 31-year-old, Amerise Barbre, whose boyfriend strangled her. Each red dot represents a woman killed by a husband or boyfriend. In the eight-year period shown, that sort of murder happened 292 times.

The Charleston Post Courier

 

“Most state legislators profess deep concern over domestic violence,” the newspaper notes in the introduction to a seven-part feature. “Yet they maintain a legal system in which a man can earn five years in prison for abusing his dog but a maximum of just 30 days in jail for beating his wife or girlfriend on a first offense.”

Domestic abuse reportedly occurs there about 36,000 times per year.

The feature posits that public-policy failures largely explain why South Carolina’s homicide rate for women is presently the highest in the nation. It urges sweeping reforms.

They are summarized here.

As with all these links, you need to finish up the article to get the full picture.

What’s more, as we all know by now: Black women are killed by police, too – Salon.com

As law enforcement continues to use military weapons to terrorize protesters seeking justice for slain teen Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was gunned down by police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, the ache in my soul is primitive and all-encompassing.

Reporters are being arrested, children are being hit with tear gas, and political pundits are being threatened. The stench of fear, fear of the power of collective Black rage and action, is rancid. And that fear breeds desperation. The need to suppress that rage, which screams that we are worth more than this country has shown us, claws at the gate-keepers of White supremacy—elected officials, police officers, and mainstream media—until it eats at them from the inside out.

You cannot control what you can’t contain. Wilson’s cold-blooded execution of Michael Brown, who was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, while in a position of surrender, lit the fuse on years of racial profiling and inequality in the town of Ferguson.

And there can be no peace where there is no justice.

They want us believe that it’s about looting; but it’s not. This entire horrific show of violence being committed in the name of the “law” proves once and for all that the system is not broken. When a Black boy is gunned down and left to bleed out in the street, that’s American justice. When his killer is allowed to leave town under the cloak of anonymity, that’s American justice.

To paraphrase Malcolm X, we are not Americans, we are victims of America. But as conversations about Michael Brown and Ferguson segue into broader discussions about the scourge of police brutality at large, it becomes clear that, despite being on the frontlines, the we in question often does not include Black women.

 

Be clear: The need to have a very specific, targeted discussion about the fear of Black, male bodies is critical.

And Kirsten West Savali, of Dame explains more at the link.

Following this article, it may be good to place this little bit of art next: » Blog Archive » Panhandle Slim… Art for Folk…

Simone

 

Speaking of which. They Have the Authority to Kill a Minority » Balloon Juice

All these people know for sure is that a white cop gunned down a black man and couldn’t even be bothered to fill out a police report. Chief Justice John Roberts can go fuck himself with a burning cross.

That goes double for me!

Want more?

Remember that reporter who was asking for information on police killings?  We’re Compiling Every Police-Involved Shooting In America. Help Us. Well, check this out: What I’ve Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings

A few days ago, Deadspin’s Kyle Wagner began to compile a list of all police-involved shootings in the U.S. He’s not the only one to undertake such a project: D. Brian Burghart, editor of the Reno News & Review, has been attempting a crowdsourced national database of deadly police violence. We asked Brian to write about what he’s learned from his project.

Oops, I’ve gotten off track. Back to those forgotten women: U.S. Airports Won’t Show You These Women’s Rights Ads, So We Will – Mic

U.S. airports are littered with advertisements, but that hasn’t stopped them from refusing to run displays featuring basic information about women’s rights.

UltraViolet, an advocacy group aimed at fighting sexism and expanding women’s rights, recently attempted to launch such an ad campaign in several airports. They focused on states with both booming tourist industries and histories of economic inequality between the sexes, like Texas, Louisiana and North Carolina.

When the targeted airports got wind of the ads, however, they flat-out refused to run them.

Go to the link to see the ads.

It is not like if  Men Had to Put Up With the Same Crap as Women | Cracked.com

Here…on to Israel: BBC News – Holocaust survivors condemn Israel’s Gaza ‘genocide’

More than 300 Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and descendants of survivors have issued a public statement condemning Israel’s “genocide” of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

The statement was released by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and was placed as an advertisement in the New York Times.

It calls for the blockade of Gaza to be lifted and Israel to be boycotted.

The signatories expressed alarm at the “colonization of historic Palestine”.

It condemns the “racist dehumanisation of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached fever pitch”.

Go to the link to read the statement in full.

Up next, an Animated US Oil And Gas Rig Map

Business Insider had a,

 

oil rig moves

…a stunning animated map from DrillingInfo.com’s Kevin Thuot showing the evolution of the last 14 years of fracking in the U.S.

Now Thuot has put together a new incredible GIF showing how oil and gas drilling rigs are moving across states, and the country, in 2014 to the most productive formations.

“We care about rig activity because it is a leading indicator of future production in an area,” he writes. “Rig activity in an area today signals new production from that area in the near-term.”

Back to the women.

Some history? Pope Joan and the Black Swan: Medieval Christianity as a Resource for Gender Justice in the Church

In his introduction to the volume, John C. Raines summarized the group’s main findings about gender oppression. One, that world religions mirror social constructions of gender and vice versa; two, that the analysis of religious power is always a choice of political allegiance; three, that culturally specific and culturally competent academic work is needed in order to be persuasive; and four, that gender justice activism in religious domains demands multiple culturally appropriate tools and tactics. The contributors posited that all world religions carry their own seeds of positive change within. In John C. Raines’ words, “each of these religious traditions has a strong theory of social justice, and these resources can be harnessed to contemporary issues of gender. We ask, how can our Scriptures, how can our founding Prophets, how can our ancestors be used today to further justice in relations between genders?”

 

This essay offers resources from within medieval European Christianity in a feminist reading of the Christian dogma of hypostatic union, medieval political theory on royal twinning, and two medieval legends on the numinous double. Pulling these strands together as a feminist hermeneutics of double lives, I argue that the popular medieval story of a ninth century female Pope and the myth of a Fairy Lover have served to unhinge egemonic claims of male Christian superiority in the Middle Ages and in contemporary film today. As acts of subversive story telling or truth to be believed, the stories reconnoiter the possibility of a woman’s benevolent reign in the highest ecclesiastical office, and think up ingenious ways beyond institutional networks through which women might gain access to male dominated higher learning and a liberating sexuality. Safely positioned in part or in whole in the dreamlike realm of the numinous and supernatural, the narratives invite their audience to undo false consciousness. They insist that women deserve better and deserve more than what a misogynist status quo has to offer.

Click here to read this article from Temple University

 

Next a series of links that vary in subject.

Manatees could lose their endangered species status

Hilarious Marriage Equality PSA from Ireland Mocks ‘Armagayddon’

 

Claudia Cardinale on a rooftop in Rome! « Kinoimages.com

Hullabaloo– Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley – Dog days and ragnaroks, meaningless nouns

This Girl’s Baton-Twirling Skills Are a Thing of Beauty

Paris Review – In July, Sadie Stein

Our Daily Correspondent

Frozen Peas

F-for-Fake

Orson Welles in F for Fake, 1973, three years after the Frozen Peas recording.

But this…

Hmmm, frozen peas, the woman in the next series of stories would know something about that.

We all joke about running away from the shit and starting our own little commune. The lost family in Siberia did just that…For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II | History | Smithsonian

The Siberian taiga in the Abakan district. Six members of the Lykov family lived in this remote wilderness for more than 40 years—utterly isolated and more than 150 miles from the nearest human settlement. (Wikicommons)

In 1978, Soviet geologists prospecting in the wilds of Siberia discovered a family of six, lost in the taiga

russian_family_1.jpg__800x450_q85_crop_upscale

Karp Lykov and his daughter Agafia, wearing clothes donated by Soviet geologists not long after their family was rediscovered.

 

That article is from 2013, I was so fascinated, I looked for more information on the last living family member. A woman named,  Agafia Lykova.

From the Siberian Times:

Siberia’s most famous hermit swaps two ‘taiga’ kittens for a goat and a rooster

The kittens are survivors of a line of cats taken by the Lukov family into the remote forest when they fled from Stalin’s civilisation in the 1930s.

Agafya Lykova, pictured in the middle of eighties with father Karl,  left, and Krasnoyarsk professor Nazarov

Agafya Lykova, 68, is the last surviving member of the family of Old Believers who were discovered by a Soviet geologist in 1978. They had cut themselves off from the outside world.

When they were discovered, the family comprised Karp Iosifovich (the head of the family), his sons Savvin, 45, and Dmitry, 36, and his daughters Natalya, 42, and Agafya, then 34. The children’s mother Akulina had died in 1961.

The three other children died in 1981 and Karp in 1988 since when Agafya has lived alone at the family’s smallholding in what is now Khakassky nature reserve.

Rangers from the reserve visited her in February and she asked them to take two kittens back to civilisation – in exchange for a goat and a rooster which they brought her. She had earlier asked for the new animals instead of a medal ‘For Belief and Kindness’ which Governor Aman Tuleyev of neighbouring Kemerovo region wanted to present her.

‘My old cock stopped crowing, please can I have a new one? Also my old goat died and I need another one. And another thing please can I have new boots. I am feeling well thank you, do say hello to governor Aman Tuleyev.’

The reserve press office said that ‘just before their departure, Agafya Lykova gave the reserve employees two kittens, a male and a female, and asked to give them into ‘good hands’.

The woman who time forgot… Remarkable new pictures of hermit Agafya Lykova

Driven into the Siberian taiga by Stalin, she is the sole survivor of the Lykov family who cut themselves off from civilisation in 1936.

Helicopter to fly food and hay to the loneliest woman in Russia

Photo of her hut:

Helicopter brings aid to Siberian recluse Agafia Lykova – 42-55243184 – Rights Managed – Stock Photo – Corbis

Photo of Agafya:

Helicopter brings aid to Siberian recluse Agafia Lykova – 42-55242904 – Rights Managed – Stock Photo – Corbis

The last article I could find was from January of this year: Emergency services arrive to save life of hermit Agafiya Lykova, Russia’s loneliest woman

Last week the recluse warned in a letter to a newspaper that her health was failing and she did not have enough logs for the winter.

‘I don’t know how God will help me survive the winter. There aren’t any logs. I need to get them into the house’, she warned.

After her plea, a helicopter with a doctor on board was sent to check the deeply religious hermit – and to bring her vital supplies. Meanwhile, a well-known Russian millionaire has offered to pay the salary of a helper to live with Agafya in her lonely vigil. German Sterligov, one of the first dollar millionaires as the Soviet Union collapsed, has promised a 40,000 rouble a month salary to a companion who will live with Agafya in the remotest house in Russia.

The helicopter brought fresh food, medicine and household items, and a doctor examined her but the woman – a devout Old Believer – refused his offer to be flown to hospital for treatment. The mercy mission was ordered by governor Viktor Zimin.

‘Nature reserve staff gathered food and other goods for Agafya,’ said a statement from the Emergencies Ministry in Khakassia, the Siberian republic where she lives. ‘They brought cereals and flour for her and cabbage and food for her goats. They also brought vegetables for planting, and in a month Agafya will start growing them at home.’

The team ‘carried logs from the forest closer to Agafya’s house. The logs were cut but it was hard for her to carry them every day.’

‘The doctor examined Agafiya and offered to take her to hospital for treatment. The 68 year old woman complained of headaches and other problems and needs detailed examination. But she absolutely refused to go. The doctor gave her some advice and left medicine.

There are photos and more curious tidbits of information about Agafya and her life at those links, so be sure to take a look.

I will end this post with a Book review from New York Times, a connection…from one forgotten Russian woman to another. ‘Kreutzer Sonata Variations’ Has a Scorned Wife’s Rebuttal

In her long and often turbulent marriage to Leo Tolstoy, Sophia Andreevna Tolstoy put up with a lot, but “The Kreutzer Sonata” qualified as special punishment. Published in 1889, the story presented Tolstoy’s increasingly radical views on sexual relations and marriage through a frenzied monologue delivered by a narrator who, in a fit of jealousy and disgust, murdered his wife.

In her diary, Sophia wrote: “I do not know how or why everyone connected ‘The Kreutzer Sonata’ with our own married life, but this is what has happened.” Members of the Tolstoy family circle and the czar himself had expressed pity for her, she complained. “And it isn’t just other people,” she added. “I, too, know in my heart that this story is directed against me, and that it has done me a great wrong, humiliated me in the eyes of the world and destroyed the last vestiges of love between us.”

Convinced that the story was “untrue in everything relating to a young woman’s experiences,” Sophia wrote two novellas setting forth her own views, “Whose Fault?” and “Song Without Words,” which both languished in the archives of the Tolstoy Museum until their recent rediscovery and publication in Russia. Michael R. Katz, a retired professor of Russian and Eastern European studies at Middlebury College, has translated both stories into English and included them in “The Kreutzer Sonata Variations,” coming from Yale University Press on Tuesday, adding to a flurry of recent work appraising Tolstoy’s wife as a figure in her own right.

Looks like something good…especially with those cooler days coming our way. (Hopefully.)

What is on your mind today? Let’s have it.


Tuesday Reads: Live and Let Live Edition

Good Morning!

Big Picture InvisiblesWhy is it that many religious people just cannot live without imposing their views on others? That’s one of the things I’ve been thinking about since the reliably patriarchal side of SCOTUS took one more step to force  their favorite flavor of religion on the rest of us.  Today’s photo montage is via “The Invisibles”.  It is a montage of gay couples during the times when theirs was a “love that dare not speak its name”. There are so many folks that choose to live outside of the conventions of the society into which they were born.  I was raised to think that this country was born of the dreams of folks wanting to establish a place where they could not be persecuted for not following the majority’s norms.  Our country has not had perfect beginnings. But up until recently, I always felt that we were at least creeping towards a “more perfect union”.

While the plight of the GLBT community is improving and appears to have some forward momentum, there are others that are being shoved back into conformity with lives and values not of their choosing.  This includes women, immigrants and many minorities.  Why do others feel they have to justify their own lives by persecuting others? We’re headed towards our nation’s birthday.  What has happened to the idea of creating our “more perfect union” with “liberty and justice for all”?

So, first I feel like I have to add more to the discussion on the SCOTUS decision that allows privately and tightly held corporations that are not engaged lesinvisibles7in the business of religion to hold religious beliefs identical to the owners that are supposedly separate from the corporation enough to be indemnified by any illegal activities it undertakes.  Hillary Clinton made her views clear on the subject as did Justice Ginsberg writing for the dissent.  I will rely on their words here. Hillary Clinton calls the decision “deeply disturbing”. 

“It’s the first time that our court has said that a closely held corporation has the rights of a person when it comes to religious freedom,” she said during a Q&A at the Aspen Ideas Festival. “I find it deeply disturbing that we are going in that direction.”

“It’s very troubling that a sales clerk at Hobby Lobby who needs contraception, which is pretty expensive, is not going to get that service through her employer’s health care plan because her employer doesn’t believe she should use birth control,” she continued.

Justice Ginsberg wrote a masterful dissent.  

On Monday, the Supreme Court sided with Hobby Lobby on the company’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, ruling that the mandate, as applied to “closely held” businesses, violates the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. But the divided court’s 5-4 decision included a dramatic dissent from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who called the majority opinion “a decision of startling breadth.” Ginsburg read a portion of her decision from the bench on Monday.

Addressing the majority of her colleagues — including all but one of the six men sitting on the Supreme Court — Ginsburg wrote:

In the Court’s view, RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners’ religious faith—in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ. Persuaded that Congress enacted RFRA to serve a far less radical purpose, and mindful of the havoc the Court’s judgment can introduce, I dissent. 

The justice goes on to criticize the opinion’s interpretation of the religious freedom law, writing that “until today, religious exemptions had never been extended to any entity operating in ‘the commercial, profit-making world.'”

The reason why is hardly obscure. Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community. Indeed, by law, no religion-based criterion can restrict the work force of for-profit corporations…The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention. One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.

“In sum,” Ginsburg adds about the free exercise claims at the heart of this case,“‘[y]our right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.’”

Justice Alito got a little prickly in his majority opinion about Ginsburg’s strong criticism of their take on the case:

As this description of our reasoning shows, our holding is very specific. We do not hold, as the principal dissent alleges, that for-profit corporations and other commercial enterprises can “opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.” Post, at 1 (opinion of GINSBURG, J.). Nor do we hold, as the dissent implies, that such corporations have free rein to take steps that impose “disadvantages . . . on others” or that require “the general public [to] pick up the tab.” Post, at 1–2. And we certainly do not hold or suggest that “RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on . . . thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby.” Post, at 2.The effect of the HHS-created accommodation on the women employed by Hobby Lobby and the other companies involved in these cases would be precisely zero. Under that accommodation, these women would still be entitled to all FDA-approved contraceptives without cost sharing. 

Ginsburg seems to reply to Alito by suggesting that what Alito sees as a narrow, limited decision is essentially an invitation for lots of future challenges on religious grounds: “Although the Court attempts to cabin its language to closely held corporations,” she writes,  “its logic extends to corporations of any size, public or private. Little doubt that RFRA claims will proliferate.”

 Further quotes from Ginsburg’s dissent can be read at MOJO.friendssnapshots6

Here are seven more key quotes from Ginsburg’s dissent in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby:

  • “The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage”
  • “Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.”
  • “Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby’s or Conestoga’s plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman’s autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults.”
  • “It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.”
  • “Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision.”
  • “Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution’s] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”
  • “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

You can read the full dissent here. (It starts on page 60.)

lesinvisibles5The court attempted a narrow decision but crept into an area of corporate law that could create an interesting situation.  Usually, corporations are considered distinct from their owners.  Hobby Lobby is a corporation tightly held by a family so the majority view basically carved out this type of corporation and said “it’s different”.  However, how can you indemnify owners from corporate malfeasance AND say that this specific corporation that doesn’t have a religious mission reflects this set of owner’s pet superstitions? Could the justices have unintentionally left a back door open to challenge the very basis of incorporation which is to make any corporation its own entity? 

The decision’s acknowledgment of corporations’ religious liberty rights was reminiscent of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a 2010 ruling that affirmed the free speech rights of corporations. Justice Alito explained why corporations should sometimes be regarded as persons. “A corporation is simply a form of organization used by human beings to achieve desired ends,” he wrote. “When rights, whether constitutional or statutory, are extended to corporations, the purpose is to protect the rights of these people.”

Justice Ginsburg said the commercial nature of for-profit corporations made a difference.

“The court forgets that religious organizations exist to serve a community of believers,” she wrote. “For-profit corporations do not fit that bill.”

 I wanted to point out the anniversary of a sad day in New Orleans history.  I’m not sure how many of you know about the UpStairs Lounge fire of 1973.  The arson mass murder of GLBT stands as the largest of its kind in modern history.

On June 24, 1973, an arsonist set fire to a gay bar in New Orleans called the Upstairs Lounge, killing 32 gay men and women in what has gone down in history as thelargest gay mass murder in U.S. history.

Today is the 41st anniversary of that tragedy, which has been documented by Robert L. Camina in the new film “Upstairs Inferno”. According to the first official teaser trailer below, the horrific event led to even more reprehensible acts in its wake – several bodies from within the club were never claimed by family members, those survivors featured in the news went on to lose their jobs and livelihoods, and the New Orleans police department lagged its feet and attempted to cover up the deadly crime.

To this day, no one has ever been charged with setting fire to the UpStairs Lounge.

Many folks believe this is an event that should not be forgotten.article-2673296-1F272A1C00000578-673_470x729

For a complex array of reasons, including homophobia, shame, and despair, the fire and its victims languished in obscurity for years, not taking its proper place in the broader sweep of LGBT history, but this is quickly changing.

“Upstairs”, my musical tragedy commemorating the fire and honoring its victims premiered last year in New Orleans to sold-out audiences, as part of the 40th anniversary memorials and Pride events. A portion of the musical is now playing at the West Village Musical Theatre Festival in New York.

new book, “The UpStairs Lounge Arson: Thirty-Two Deaths in a Louisiana Gay Bar”, released just last month, is the most extensively-researched and carefully-told history of the subject.

And “Upstairs Inferno”, a documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Robert Camina is currently in post-production.

In addition, Delery, Camino, and I are advocating the inclusion of the UpStairs Lounge site on the National Register of Historic Places.

To commemorate the anniversary of the fire, I spoke with Camina about his documentary.

The lion’s share of published research about the fire comes from Johnny Townsend, author of “Let the Faggots Burn”, and Clay Delery. Did you interview them for the piece and what did you learn?

Well of course Townsend had a lot to contribute, because without his efforts many years ago to interview people, many of the stories would have been lost. So I think he brought a lot of insight to the tragedy that, since so many have passed on, we are not able to access.

Did you get to talk to anyone that Delery and Townsend did not get to talk to?

I don’t think they interviewed Francis Dufrene. We were able to interview him. He was a survivor of the fire. He slipped through the bars and jumped and landed on the pavement. He suffered third-degree burns. He gave us a distinctive perspective of what it was like in the middle of it when the fire started, so we definitely learned a little bit of what it was like the emotions just the mood and a frame of mind of what people going through in there.

As far as you can tell, what was the UpStairs lounge like as a bar?

It was a very comfortable place. Everyone we talked to said that the patrons were like a family. And the word that has come up that you’re very familiar with is “Sanctuary”.

Yes, that’s why I opened my musical with a song of that title. And of course, when a place that is considered a sanctuary is invaded and ruined, it has a profound impact on a community. And I’m not sure I had a whole sense of the impact that it had until I was there last year for the 40th Anniversary to see how the community responded to the memorial events and the play.

Just so you haven’t forgotten with the Republican pogram is these days, I give you a blast from the past from Fat Tony.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made an appearance at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, Texas on Friday, where he claimed that the success of capitalism was deeply tied to the nation’s religious values.

“While I would not argue that capitalism as an economic system is inherently more Christian than socialism … it does seem to me that capitalism is more dependent on Christianity than socialism is,” Scalia, a devout Catholic, said during his speech,according to the Houston Chronicle. “For in order for capitalism to work — in order for it to produce a good and a stable society — the traditional Christian virtues are essential.”

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to read the part in the new testament where the jesus dude said ANY of that. Evidently, we’re supposed to all follow his brand of religion even if we find it to be complete bunk.

Why can’t we just live and let live?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Anti-Vaccine Hysteria brought to you by Jenny McCarthy, Pretty Illustrations by Hedvig Collin, and Medieval Dwarf Characterizations by Your Preconceived Ideas

BIBIGood Morning

Oh, I cannot wait to get to the link on Medieval Dwarfs…but until that time comes, here are some stories for you on this fucking* cold ass Sunday Morning!

(*Just FYI, we passed freaking cold ass on Friday night.)

Today’s post will feature artwork by illustrator Hedvig Collin. When I look at her work, I think of Jessie Wilcox…and other women artist/illustrators at the time.

Hedvig Collin was educated at the Drawing and Industrial Art School for Women in preparation for the Royal Academy School for Women , where she studied in 1903 – 1907 . She continued her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts decoration school in 1 909 – 1910 and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris . In 1915 she studied freskoteknik on Kunstgewerbeschule in Berlin . She had from 1904 repeated studies in France , she performed in the 1920s and 1930s, traveling to Italy , Greece , Poland , Germany , Czechoslovakia and England . In the period 1922 – 1925 and again during the second World War she was in the United States .

2377102Hedvig Collin painted most portraits and landscapes , but was also an illustrator of children’s books; 1 916 – 1922 she published several illustrated children’s song books, for example. Our Children’s Songs (1916), and the Children’s Picture Book (1922).

While looking for information about Collins, I could not find anything on an “English” website, so the only sources are in Dutch or German. This one here has lots of postcard images, which many of the images in the post are from: Google Translate-Hedvig Collin 1880-1964 by Per Sorensen

Parents: Photographer Alfred Collin and Ottilia f Bloch.

Hedvig Collin was unmarried.

She was a painter, illustrator, journalist and author.

Hedvig Collin was educated at drawing and industrial arts school for women and later graduated from the Academy of Arts, where she studied from 1903 to 1909. Later she took extra education in Paris.

Hedvig Collin traveled extensively throughout Europe and the U.S., and she drew a large number of illustrations – both Danish and foreign publications. However, it was illustrations for children’s books, which became her biggest mark – no one has she been able to put themselves in the children’s place and make illustrations for children. From 1916-1922, she published each year, along with colleagues, the very well known, illustrated children’s song books. She has also made ​​many children portraits.

Her postcard production also bear the imprint of children and fairy tales, and you can clearly see the French inspiration in her work. See for example the “Lady with the Little Dog,” which is very similar to Gerda Wegner line.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pictures…let’s get this show started!

Jeg_en_gaard_mig_bygge_vilSeems like Fukushima is well on its way to becoming another something more than a metaphor for the phrase “Fucked up.” When things are Fukushima’d up…it is beyond anything FUBAR could ever comprehend.  ‘Duct tape, wire nets’ were used to mend Fukushima water tanks – worker — RT News

The 48 year old Japanese man said that workers were sent to various places in Fukushima, including an area called H3 with high radiation levels.

In one of those cases in October 2012, Uechi was given a task to cover five or six storage tanks without lids in the “E” area close to H3 as it was raining, the Japanese paper reported. When he climbed to the top of the 10-meter-high tank Uechi found white adhesive tape covering an opening of about 30 centimeters. After using a blade to remove the tape he applied a sealing agent on the opening and fit a steel lid fastening it with bolts. According to instructions he was to use four bolts, though the lid had eight bolt holes.

According to the employee, his colleagues later told him that the use of adhesive tape was a usual practice to deal with the problem of sealing in radioactive water.

91jlFH8MfhL“I couldn’t believe that such slipshod work was being done, even if it was part of stopgap measures,” Uechi told The Asahi Shimbun.

Among other makeshift cost-cutting measures was the use of second-hand materials. Uechi also said that wire nets were used instead of reinforcing bars during the placement of concrete for storage tank foundations. In addition, waterproof sheets were applied along the joints inside flange-type cylindrical tanks to save on the sealing agent used to join metal sheets of the storage tanks. Rain and snow had washed away the anti-corrosive agent applied around clamping bolts, reducing the sealing effect, Uechi added. According to the Fukushima worker, many of the tanks were later found to be leaking contaminated water.

Now, granted…that is from RT.com, and it goes without saying that there could be some bias on the reporting of a Russian nuclear disaster compared to a foreign one…but read the rest of the “stopgap” measures at the link.

Hedvig_Collin17Meanwhile: Dennis Rodman Names Team For North Korea Exhibition That Includes Former NBA All-Stars

NBA All-Stars Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson, and Vin Baker. Craig Hodges, Doug Christie and Charles D. Smith are on the team, as well. They will play against a top North Korean Senior National team on Jan. 8, marking Kim Jong Un’s birthday.

I have no idea who these NBA stars are, but this is really a stupid move on their part.

And if we are talking stupid, I put a link to this yesterday in the comments, but it deserves front page status: New Report Says: Jenny McCarthy’s Son May Not Have Had Autism After All – Hollywood Life

After years of speaking out about her son’s autism — and against childhood immunizations — Jenny McCarthy is reversing her position.

After years of speaking publicly about her belief that MMR shots (immunization for measles, mumps, and rubella) caused her son to suffer from autism, Jenny McCarthy now faces the reality that her 7-year-old son Evan — who no longer shows any signs of autism — may likely have lived with completely different illness.

A new article in Time magazine — which Jenny was interviewed for — suggests Evan suffers from Landau-Kleffner syndrome, “a rare childhood neurological disorder that can also result in speech impairment and possible long-term neurological damage.”

Hedvig_Collin36All that shit spewed from Jenny’s lips…because of misdiagnosis? How many idiots have listened to that anti-immunization “Tits McCarthy” idiot and how many kids have paid the price?

Ugh!

I know I am jumping around today, but…check this out: Woman Attorney Launches Saudi Arabia’s First All-Lady Law Firm

Just a few months after Saudi Arabia allowed women to serve in court, the first licensed woman attorney Bayan Mahmoud Al-Zahran has just opened the first female law firm, dedicated to representing women and bringing women’s rights issues into the courts. YES.

Women have continually been neglected by the court system for a number of reasons, including simply not being taken seriously by male lawyers. Women’s issues concerning conflicts like inheritance, domestic violence, marriage, and you know, that whole driving thing are often simply dismissed. Also, while more women are joining the workforce, the country has yet to catch up in terms of legal support for working women.

Clearly Al-Zahran has her work cut out for her four-woman team, but as reported at Arab News, she’s ready for the challenge:

“I believe women lawyers can contribute a lot to the legal system. This law firm will make a difference in the history of court cases and female disputes in the Kingdom. I am very hopeful and thank everyone who supported me in taking this historical step.”

Hedvig_Collin27Just in time, because watch out, we know that some men in the U.S. are trying to take women backwards to a time a place very much like the one these Saudi women are working to pull themselves out of…

Did you see the latest on the men’s rights front? Men’s rights activists call for rape ‘accuse-a-thon’ to smear sex assault victims advocate | The Raw Story

A men’s rights group is encouraging its followers to falsely accuse a sexual assault victims advocate of rape in a stunt intended to undermine the veracity of all rape accusations.

Paul Elam, founder of the website A Voice For Men, hosted an online discussion Wednesday with his site’s editor-in-chief, John Hembling, and feminist critic Karen Straughn to discuss their plan to harass executive director of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton.

“I have looked at a number of cases where people have reported alien abductions were they were prodded and poked and had different orifices in their bodies explored by aliens in spaceships, and a common theme among these is that it turns out, in most of these cases, it was Karen Smith,” Elam said. “It wasn’t aliens.”

The men’s rights movement has been angry at Smith since at least this summer, when she helped promote the “Don’t Be That Guy” rape prevention campaign that inspired imitators in other cities and a counter campaign blaming women for their own sexual assaults.

Men’s rights activists also conspired to shut down a website that allowed the anonymous reporting of sexual assaults by flooding the system with false complaints.

Innit wonderful?

Assholes.

Hedvig_Collin4How about this, all this news about Colorado, and the amount of money the state will get from Marijuana sales tax…What about Vegas, ‘marriage capital of the world,’ left at the altar on gay weddings | Al Jazeera America

Because of a state constitutional ban, Nevada’s wedding industry loses untold millions while other states make it legal.

Here is two stories on commercial flying…

Customs officials explain why they destroyed musician’s prized flutes | The Raw Story

Yeah, they mention a plant pathogen. I don’t know…

Hedvig_Collin22CEO predictions for the next 100 years of flying – Yahoo Finance

Did you know that commercial flights began in my hometown of Tampa Florida?

Millions of people step aboard airplanes each day, complaining about the lack of legroom and overhead space but almost taking for granted that they can travel thousands of miles in just a few hours.

Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of the first commercial flight: a 23-minute hop across Florida’s Tampa Bay. The St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line was subsidized by St. Petersburg officials who wanted more winter tourists in their city. The alternative: an 11-hour train ride from Tampa.

Pilot Tony Jannus had room for just one passenger, who sat next to him in the open cockpit. Three months later — when tourism season ended — so did the subsidy. The airline had carried 1,204 passengers but would never fly again.

Remember that Nazi salute I mentioned last week? Here is an update:  Concern Over an Increasingly Seen Gesture Grows in France – NYTimes.com

The rest of today’s links are fun stuff…or “special interest.”

There is a special coming up on PBS: ‘The Poisoner’s Handbook’ details birth of forensic science in US | Culture | McClatchy DC

Hedvig_Collin31I love the title of this Medieval guidebook: Advice Concerning Pregnancy and Health in Late Medieval Europe: Peasant Women’s Wisdom in The Distaff Gospels

This paper explores an area which has proven difficult for scholars to penetrate: women’s popular wisdom concerning medical matters in the later medieval period. Contextualized within an examination of medieval medical texts both by and about women, our discussion focuses on a later 15th-century French work, The Distaff Gospels. This text, published recently in English for the first time since 1510, consists of more than 200 pieces of advice or “gospels,” ostensibly conveyed to one another by a group of women who met together during the long winter evenings to spin. A significant portion of the advice might be considered “medical” in nature; it is grouped into two broad categories: pregnancy and health. We conclude that although our text is male mediated, it provides a reliable and valuable guide to peasant women’s medical lore during this period.

Another medieval paper for you: Anorexia and the Holiness of Saint Catherine of Siena

In the medieval period, the control, renunciation, and torture of the body were understood not so much as a rejection of the physical, but as a way of achieving the divine. Gradually, the manifestations of this renunciation of the body came to apply peculiarly to women, for whom this state may be defined as “holy anorexia,” identified by the following features.

0100151The Female Body as an Expression of Sexuality. The body of the woman was seen as an expression of sexuality, curvaceous with prominent breasts, and was thought to be the product of the woman herself, whereas the male body was formed by God. This supposition was confirmed by the extremely changeable nature of the female body, particularly in terms of control. Thus, the female easily slipped into a trance, into levitation, into catatonic states, leading rapidly to asceticism or anorexia. She displayed spontaneous lactation and bleeding, manifestations that sometimes were accompanied by stigmata. Indeed, at least fifteen medieval saints bled at the moment they received the Eucharist. In contrast, of saints in other periods of history, only Padre Pio and San Francesco displayed stigmata that were preserved on their bodies after death. If we are to consider specifically anorexia as a characteristic of sanctity, we must examine the periods of 1200 and the end of 1500 when Theresa of Avila (a Spanish saint who joined with a mystic force and spirit to reform Catholicism, resulting in the reinvigoration of all religious orders) began frequently to use twigs of olives to induce vomiting and completely empty her stomach. In this way she was able to truly take into herself the Host, which became her unique source of sustenance. From an investigation of the conduct of 170 Italian medieval saints by Rudolph Bell, fully one half of them exhibited symptoms of anorexia.

More at the link…lots more.

The next medieval link has a special place in my heart…The Hole: Problems in Medieval Dwarfology

Hedvig_Collin21When trying to understand Old Norse dwarfs, one problem is knowing too much. Almost everyone comes to the old texts with some preconceived idea of dwarfs, if not from The Lord of the Rings, then from romances, folktales and modern novels, all presenting their own consistent image of dwarfs. However, although later representations of dwarfs may have some relevance to medieval dwarfs, in this study I will try to limit myself to what can be discerned from medieval sources. That is not really possible: I, like everyone else, have known since childhood what a dwarf is. And yet I think the attempt may have some merit, in spite of being bound to fail in the most rigorous sense.

What I will attempt here is to pay close attention to the nature of the sources and what they reveal, or, as if often the case, do not reveal. Mythological scholarship is characterized by inclusiveness, a tendency to collect information en masse, sometimes with little discussion of the nature of the sources. When it comes to Old Norse dwarfs, it might be helpful to distinguish between three types of sources, in which their nature and function may take various forms. While there is perhaps not a case to be made for dramatically contrasting views in the Middle Ages, it is unwise to assume that all medieval sources agree on the nature, character and function of dwarfs.

You have to sign up on the site to download that article, or look for it here:  HoleArvMedDwa.

Hedvig_Collin39This one is for Dak: Skeletons ‘Embracing’ In Death May Represent Gruesome Ancient Siberian Custom (PHOTO)

Bill Nye is going to kick some Creationist ass: Bill Nye to visit Creation Museum for evolution debate | AccessNorthGa

A new exhibit in Brookyn: Susan Sontag was right: War photography can anesthetize – Salon.com

And lastly, one hot mama: The Tina Turner Blog On Twitter Is Pretty Much Everything

There are few things we love as much as Tina Turner, so you can imagine how ecstatic we were when we came across the Tina Turner Blog on Twitter. The account tweets up-to-the-minute news, videos and most importantly, awesome throwback photos of the singer. And we have to say, this lady has serious style.

https://twitter.com/tinaturnerblog/status/419477868675358720

Well, if that doesn’t get you…what about these legs?

Fabulous!

Hedvig_Collin28Have a wonderful day and stay warm!


Wednesday Reads: Lucky Charms Anyone?

brasserie_fraikin_courard_1900_vintage_ad_poster-re4ae2722598b42f0a498aee18861506f_m5i_8byvr_324Good Morning

You have to give it to General Mills, they are keeping with the times…and pissing of the right-wing along the way.

Remember a few months ago when General Mills came out with an interracial family advertisement for their Cheerios brand cereal? Cheerios stands by TV ad showing mixed-race family

A mom sits at her kitchen table when her grade schooler saunters up with a big box of Cheerios.

“Mom,” says the girl. “Dad told me Cheerios is good for your heart. Is that true?”

Cut to dad waking from a nap on the living room couch with a pile of Cheerios on his chest (where his heart is) crunchily cascading to the floor.

The message is in line with the company’s Heart Healthy campaign, except this 30-second ad features a black dad, white mom and biracial child and produced enough vitriol on YouTube last week that Cheerios requested the comments section be turned off.

This week, the company is standing by the fictitious family, which reflects a black-white racial mix uncommon in commercials today, especially in ads on TV, at a time when interracial and interethnic couples are on the rise in real life, according to 2010 U.S. Census data, brand strategists and marketing consultants.

These comments were what you would expect from the trolls…according to Tim Nudd at Ad Week: It’s 2013, and People Are Still Getting Worked Up About Interracial Couples in Ads

It’s another one of those things that shouldn’t be a story but is—an ad from a major U.S. brand featuring an interracial couple and their daughter. You’d think this new Cheerios ad from Saatchi & Saatchi in New York might go largely unnoticed, given the plethora of interracial couples on TV shows these days. (NBC’s Parenthood is a notable example, though far from the only one.) But it’s not going unnoticed—it hit Reddit’s front page, a place largely reserved for life’s great oddities, and the YouTube view count is rising fast. The problem is that TV ads have always lagged TV programming in this regard, as so many brands are clearly scared of being perceived as making a political statement with the casting of their commercials. Thus, the Cheerios ad, despite its characters being representative of tens of thousands of actual couples in America, sticks out like a sore thumb. And then you have the YouTube comments section, which predictably has devolved into an endless flame war, with references to Nazis, “troglodytes” and “racial genocide.” At what point will an ad like this just seem normal?

Yeah? When will ads like that seem normal?

Well…General Mills has stepped once more into the new normal…this time with its Lucky Charms brand cereal. (Oh, and I can you taste the rainbow!)  Leprechaun-troversy: Conservatives Blast Lucky Charms For ‘Going Gay’

With all of the conservative whining about being called “bigots” just because they “believe in traditional marriage”*, it’s refreshing to receive helpful reminders about what the anti-gay right really stands for. On the heels of last week’s landmark Supreme Court rulings on marriage equality, General Mills announced that Lucky Charms Cereal would be “celebrating Pride month with whimsical delight, magical charms, and two new rainbow marshmallows,” a bid for inclusion that was met with derision by conservatives.

*and want the government to force that belief on others, but only gay others, not straight others who want to get divorced. Traditional Marriage™ refers only to traditions from the Bible, but not the parts of the Bible that contain weirdnesses like 700 wives and incest. Do not take Traditional Marriage™ if you are on blood thinners.

General Mills announced their campaign via a press release to GLAAD, and a Charm-ing video ad pegged to a social media campaign:

From GLAAD:

“We value diversity. We value inclusion. We always have … and we always will,” said Ken Charles, vice president of global diversity and inclusion for General Mills. “We’re proud of our workplace, and we’re proud to be a leader for diversity and inclusion in our community. For decades, General Mills has worked to create an inclusive culture that welcomes and values the contributions of all.”

By inclusion, Charles even means the millions of straight marrieds, and unmarrieds, who support marriage equality, and a safe world for adults and children of all kinds. That kind of inclusiveness can only mean one thing: Lucky Charms is trying to buttsex your children.

I will embed a link to the ad in a moment, but here is the right’s response to this new ad…

From gay-porn-star-name-generator victim Rod Dreher of The American Conservative:

Your children’s breakfast cereal is now gay. Just so you know.

Your children’s breakfast cereal is now gay. I don’t think that’s a sentence anybody not a comedy writer ever imagined penning.

What’s next? Snap, Crackle, and Poppers?

Poppers? WTF is that? Anyone would know that the “gay” term in the phrase “Snap, Crackle, Pop” is “Snap.” As in “Two snaps UP!”

But to continue with Tommy Christopher’s post…

Other conservative blogs declared Lucky Charms to be the “Official Gay Cereal,” and the scolds over at Newsbusters took the opportunity to name and shame other gay-friendly companies, and to suggest a new slogan for Lucky Charms:

General Mills’ pandering to the ever-more-popular gay crowd makes economic sense, given Rudolph’s reaction. After all, they don’t want to suffer the fate of Chick-Fil-A and get splattered with liberal media vitriol for supporting traditional marriage.

Then again, General Mills is joining a long line of big companies who have come out of the closet to play to the gays by supporting same-sex marriage, including Starbucks, Nabisco (Oreo), Macy’s, the Girl Scouts, and Target. After all, they’ve got the mass news media on their side, and that’s a pretty hefty marketing advantage.

So maybe, to continue to “celebrate” this push in favor of all-things-gay. Lucky Charms should add L, G, B, and T shapes to the cereal mix and change it’s catchphrase from “magically delicious” to “openly gay.”

Newsbusters, for its part, celebrated Pride Month by describing everyone and everything as “openly gay,” which is also how it celebrates every other month.

Conservatives seem to be laboring under a grave misunderstanding, which is shocking, I know. Celebrating the inclusion and equality of LGBT people in the human family doesn’t actually make you gay, any more than supporting supporting the civil rights movement makes you black, or supporting the New England Patriots makes you a cheater. I support marriage equality, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and LGBT-inclusive hate crimes legislation, but I am not gay. If I eat Lucky Charms, I might have a dangerous spike in my blood sugar, but it won’t make me gay.

Attempting to slur supporters of equality by association is not a new thing. Ask any white civil rights demonstrator what they were called, and they’ll bear that out. I support the right of people to believe as they wish, and agree with Lucky Charms that even they are #LuckyToBe Americans.

You can see both commercials below.

The big story this morning deals with the ACA…otherwise known as Obamacare: Health-Law Employer Mandate Delayed by U.S. Until 2015 – Bloomberg

The Obama administration will delay a crucial provision of its signature health-care law, giving businesses an extra year to comply with a requirement that they provide their workers with insurance.

The government will postpone enforcement of the so-called employer mandate until 2015, after the congressional elections, the administration said yesterday. Under the provision, companies with 50 or more workers face a fine of as much as $3,000 per employee if they don’t offer affordable insurance.

It’s the latest setback for a health-care law that has met resistance from Republicans, who have sought to make the plan a symbol of government overreach. Republican-controlled legislatures and governors in several states have refused funding to expand Medicaid coverage for the poor and declined to set up exchanges where individuals can buy insurance, leaving the job to the federal government.

The delay in the employer mandate addresses complaints from business groups to President Barack Obama’s administration about the burden of the law’s reporting requirements.

“The administration has finally recognized the obvious — employers need more time and clarification of the rules of the road before implementing the employer mandate,” Randy Johnson, a senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business lobby, said in an e-mail.

You know…the Obamacare thing confuses me almost as much as the Snowden thing does. So much crap to wade through just to get some simple explanation of how the process works.

Valerie Jarrett, a senior Obama adviser, said in a blog post announcing the move that the administration decided on the delay so officials could simplify reporting requirements and give employers a chance to adjust their health-care coverage.

The individual mandate, a linchpin of the law that requires most Americans to carry health insurance, remains in effect.

Geez, I wish they would just go to a single payer plan…I know it is a hopeless dream but hey…if Lucky Charms is gay today then maybe someday soon we will find ourselves living in a land where healthcare and single payer go hand in hand.

Meanwhile, over in Egypt: Mursi, Egypt army pledge lives in ‘final hours’ showdown | Reuters

Egypt’s army commander and Islamist President Mohamed Mursi each pledged his life to defy the other as a deadline approached on Wednesday that will trigger a military takeover backed by protesters.

The military chiefs, wanting to restore order in a country racked by protests over Mursi’s Islamist policies, issued a call to battle in a statement headlined “The Final Hours”. They said they were willing to shed blood against “terrorists and fools” after Mursi refused to give up his elected office.

Mursi said, “The price … is my life.”

I am sure that they will be happy to make him pay that price.

Did you see this story yesterday? It is something out of an Edgar Allen Poe tale: Answer to 1985 Disappearance Is Found in Home’s Wall

Stuffed in a container and tucked inside a false wall in the basement of the home JoAnn Nichols shared with her husband in upstate New York, her body was inevitably whittled away by time.

A skeleton was all that was left when a contractor stumbled upon her remains last week, after nearly three decades hidden from the world.

Ms. Nichols’s identity was confirmed on Monday through dental records, partly answering the riddle of what became of a well-liked first-grade teacher who disappeared a few days before Christmas in 1985.

She never left her home in Poughkeepsie. She was most likely killed there, buried there and forgotten there.

From the day her husband, James L. Nichols Jr., first reported her missing, talk swirled about what might have happened to Ms. Nichols, who was 55.

It was suggested that perhaps she was depressed. Her only son, James Nichols III, 25, had died three years earlier. He drowned in a boating accident, the police said at the time.

As you can possibly surmise, the husband killed her.

He gave an interview to The Poughkeepsie Journal and calmly described the 30-second call.

“There’s no reason to assume she’s dead or alive, joined a group or run off with some other man,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. “There are a thousand possibilities. The pain is not knowing.”

The police never found any evidence of the call.

An extensive search, including with the assistance of a psychic, turned up nothing, and gradually, the case faded from the public’s attention. The police said that it remained open and was reviewed annually, but that the trail had been cold for years.

It is not clear if Mr. Nichols was ever the focus of investigators. The police declined to go into detail about the case.

Mr. Nichols went about his life — a man of strange and obsessive habits, according to neighbors. He was known as a hoarder, a collector of things that held no value to anyone beyond himself.

In the basement there was a steady accumulation of junk, piled high to the ceiling, the authorities said. The secret hidden within the wall was buried deeper and deeper by the flotsam.

On Dec. 21, 2012, Mr. Nichols died of what the police said were natural causes. He was 82. It was 27 years to the day that he had reported his wife missing.

The cause of death was blunt-force trauma to the head…how horrifying, and so sad that she was in the house the whole time.

I will end this post with a link to the latest news regarding Adam Lanza. Boston Boomer sent this to me last night:

Here is the Newser link: Adam Lanza’s Online Posts Discovered: Sources – Investigators tell the ‘Hartford Courant’ they’ve linked username to him

And here is the link to the actual Hartford Courant article: Adam Lanza Edited Wikipedia Mass Killer Pages, Wrote Of Bullet ‘Fetish’, According To Authorities – Courant.com

In posts on gun message boards and gaming chat rooms, a user who authorities believe was Newtown gunman Adam Lanza showed a technical prowess about weapons and computers, a “fetish” for a certain bullet and a near-fixation with correcting Wikipedia articles about mass killers.

He would have been 17 years old at the time of the posts, which are being examined by investigative agencies. The posts linked to Lanza reflect his interests and thoughts, publicly revealed for the first time in the killer’s own words.

[…]

The poster who authorities suspect is Lanza questions Connecticut’s assault-gun ban, offers a blueprint for his laptop computer and provides YouTube links to a commercial for a laughing doll from the 1970s and for The Rock-afire Explosion, an animatronics band that played in ShowBiz Pizza locations in the 1980s.

In one thread on the website thehighroad.org in October 2009 at 1 a.m., the poster believed to be Lanza asks whether a ban on a certain semiautomatic pistol might extend to other weapons.

Another poster suggests that he ask the Connecticut State Police.

“I always prefer asking through proxy when I can avoid speaking to someone directly. I was just wondering if anyone knew because I have a fetish for .32 ACP,” the poster suspected to be Lanza responds, referring to ammunition.

The posts reveal an intense and well-developed interest in high-capacity weaponry and an almost obsessive attention to details both in the user’s own writing and his editing of articles about mass murder.

You should go and read that article in full. It gives me the creeps to think he was very familiar with folks on the community gun and game websites.

Well, this is ending on a down note, and I am just too tired to find a funny read to lift it up. Maybe a cartoon will do?

Painfully Wrong by Political Cartoonist Jen Sorensen

134010 600 Painfully Wrong cartoons

Uh, nope…although it is funny in a satirical way…it is pathetic in a very real way.

Sorry folks!

Maybe you can lighten the mood in the comments below?