Saturday, November 22, 2014

Put the breaks on the per-mile vehicle tax

America’s roads and bridges are crumbling.

Historically, motorists have paid for roads with a gas tax, but it has not kept pace with inflation, nor wirh fuel-efficient hybrid and electric cars that use little to no gas. Some states therefore are considering charging per mile instead of per gallon.

Strangely, this un-progressive idea is gaining traction in progressive states. California, Washington, Nevada and Massachusetts all are kicking the idea around. The liberal Center for American Progress likes it too.

Oregon, one of the few bright spots for Democrats in this month’s elections, seeks 5,000 volunteers to pay 1.5 cents per mile instead of 30 cents per gallon as part of a pilot project.

A mileage tax does have a progressive veneer. It would raise desperately needed money for infrastructure, and it would benefit low-income drivers who typically own older, less-fuel-efficient vehicles.

Scratch the surface, though, and one finds conservative outcomes that will harm the environment, climate change and civil liberties.

Sure, some of the people who drive gas-guzzlers are poor, but many more are just selfish owners of pickup trucks and SUVs. They will save big with a mileage tax.
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 2, 2013: White Hummer H2 limousine at the city street. Art Konovalov /
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – JUNE 2, 2013: White Hummer H2 limousine at the city street. Art Konovalov /

The Oregon proposal illustrates this. Imagine two Oregonians who each drive 10,000 miles per year. Driver A has a hybrid car and gets and average 45 mpg. Under the current per gallon tax, she pays $67 per year. Driver B has an SUV that optimistically gets 17 mpg. He pays $176 in gas tax.

Both would pay the same $150 for 10,000 miles under the proposed mileage tax. Energy-efficient Driver A winds up paying more than double what she paid under the gas tax so that Energy Inefficient Driver B can pay less, and the state can raise some money.

The mileage tax therefore eliminates one of the biggest incentives for choosing a fuel-efficient vehicle.

Study Suggests Genetic Link for Male Homosexuality

Julio Cabrera
A large study of gay brothers adds to evidence that genes influence men's chances of being homosexual, but the results aren't strong enough to prove it.

Some scientists believe several genes might affect sexual orientation. Researchers who led the new study of nearly 800 gay brothers say their results bolster previous evidence pointing to genes on the X chromosome.

They also found evidence of influence from a gene or genes on a different chromosome. But the study doesn't identify which of hundreds of genes located in either place might be involved.

Smaller studies seeking genetic links to homosexuality have had mixed results.

The new evidence "is not proof but it's a pretty good indication" that genes on the two chromosomes have some influence over sexual orientation, said Dr. Alan Sanders, the lead author. He studies behavioral genetics at NorthShore University HealthSystem Research Institute in Evanston, Illinois.

Experts not involved in the study were more skeptical.

Neil Risch, a genetics expert at the University of California, San Francisco, said the data are statistically too weak to demonstrate any genetic link. Risch was involved in a smaller study that found no link between male homosexuality and chromosome X.

Dr. Robert Green, a medical geneticist at Harvard Medical School, called the new study "intriguing but not in any way conclusive."

The work was published Monday by the journal Psychological Medicine. The National Institutes of Health paid for the research.

The researchers say they found potential links to male homosexuality in a portion of chromosome X and on chromosome 8, based on an analysis of genetic material in blood or saliva samples from participants.

Chromosome X is one of two human sex chromosomes; the other is chromosome Y, present only in men.

The study authors note that animal research suggests a gene located in one region of chromosome X may contribute to some sexual behavior; it's one of the same regions cited in the new study.

Specific causes of homosexuality are unknown. Some scientists think social, cultural, family and biological factors are involved, while some religious groups consider it an immoral choice.

Study participant Dr. Chad Zawitz, a Chicago physician, called the research "a giant step forward" toward answering scientific questions about homosexuality and helping reduce the stigma gays often face.

Being gay "is sort of like having certain eye color or skin color - it's just who you are," Zawitz said. "Most heterosexuals I know didn't choose to be heterosexual. It's puzzling to me why people don't understand."

Misc Recent Finds

What happened after a single dad asked strangers for advice on helping his son come out as gay

Reddit user HeMeYou was left “overwhelmed” by advice from online strangers after accidentally discovering his son might be gay.

Buzzfeed reports the 38-year-old father posed the question to Reddit after finding Google searches on his son’s iPad suggesting he wanted to come out.

He said: “I found out my 13 y/o son is gay… He hasn’t told me, but I want to support him. What can I do?”
I’m 38, and a single dad to my 13 year old son, 14 in four months. The other day I asked my son if I could borrow his iPad and he gave it to me.
After my first attempt at Google searching something I noticed that he forgot to delete his history as a lot of the search terms were along the lines of “I’m gay what now?” etc…
I love him regardless of which gender he loves, in fact when I was slightly older than him I had a few flings with guys, which he doesn’t know about, so I am 100% supportive.
He has seemed slightly down recently, as in, he isn’t as cheerful as he once was, and I desperately want to tell him that I love him regardless of which sexuality he is.
What are my options? Should I wait for him to tell me? Or should I make a few hints at it?
I’m worried that if I don’t hint at it, that he will be worried about something that he really doesn’t have to be worried about… if that makes sense.
Shortly after, he received a flood of supportive messages, with many users offering advice based on their own experiences.

One user posted: “Google ‘how to tell my son I will love and support him no matter what’ and leave it in his search history.”

Another said: “Let him come out on his own terms, just make sure he knows that you’ll support him and you don’t have a problem with it.”

The father, who wished to remain anonymous, told Buzzfeed the response to his post was “overwhelmingly helpful and kind.”

A few days later, HeMeYou posted an update on what he ended up doing:
I started off with talking about general media with him, for instance I mentioned how awesome it was that Tim Cook (CEO of Apple) came out as being gay and I asked him what he thought about it and I was completely expecting him to give a typical teenager response like “yeah.. its good” or something like that but he actually gave me a detailed response which I absolutely loved because for the first time in a good while I’ve actually held a conversation with my son that felt really… rewarding.
I also wanted to talk to him about how I’ve noticed that he’s not been acting as cheerful as he usually has and I sort of gave the cliche spiel of “I love you no matter what and I just want to see you be happy” but I didn’t get much of a response that time apart from “yeah I know..”
The next day as I picked him up from school I thought I’d ask him about any crushes he has, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t say a gender when I asked him, so instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’ I used ‘they’ etc.. Here is that conversation as I remember it…
Me: So, do you have a crush on anyone?
Son: Uhm… no..m..maybe..
Me: Ohhh so who is the lucky person?
At this point he sort of looked at me slightly confused, I’m not 100% sure why, but I’m assuming it is because I said “lucky person” rather than “lucky girl”.
Son: Just someone from my french class…
Me: Oh yeah… so what do you like about them?
Son: Just.. stuff..
Me: Okay.. but.. like what?
Son: I donno they’re just kinda funny I guess…
At this point I dropped the conversation but just before I did I told him “Well, whoever it is, they should be so lucky to have you as a boyfriend..” and while I didn’t see it, I certainly felt as though he was rolling his eyes at my cheesy comments.
At the dinner table the same day, while we were eating we had a couple minutes of silence, not much was heard apart from the cutlery and my son finally said “I actually wanted to tell you something in the car, but I was afraid you’d get in an accident..”
I looked up from my plate and looked at him straight in the eyes… I could see he was thinking about something and all I could think of was “OMG this is it…”
He said “Dad..” with a couple seconds of silence “..I’m gay”.
I looked at him and couldn’t help myself from smiling, and I told him “____, you know I love you so much… right?” and I got up and gave him a huge hug.
He even started to cry on my shoulder and because of that I couldn’t help myself but shed a couple tears.
Concluding his post, he said: “After dinner and after he finished his homework we both lay in our pyjamas on the sofa, while I was watching the Cooking Channel and he was playing on his iPad.

“I had my arm around him and he was leaning his head on my chest, and all I could think of was that I’m the happiest father on earth right now.”

The Republican Party is Driven by Two of the Most Destructive Forces in Human History

When it comes down to my issues with the Republican party, the root of most of my opposition lies in my belief that their ideology just doesn’t make any sense. They talk endlessly about freedom and liberty, while simultaneously pushing for religious rule over our government. Which doesn’t make any sense considering religion is nearly the complete opposite of freedom. How can someone be “free” if they’re forced to follow religious rules that control people by telling them what they should or shouldn’t do? Especially if someone doesn’t believe in that particular religion. It just doesn’t make any sense.

The same goes for their economic ideology. The Republican party’s economic beliefs are entirely predicated on the belief that 98 percent of Americans will be better off by making the top 2 percent richer. Even now one of the biggest right-wing attacks used against President Obama is wage stagnation. But they’re apparently too ignorant to understand that when they complain about stagnant wages, while taxes are low and the rich are doing better than ever, they’re actually admitting that trickle-down economics doesn’t work.

When you get right down to it, the two biggest driving forces behind the Republican party are greed and religion. And those just happen to be two of the most destructive things human beings have endured throughout our history.

How many millions of people have died over the centuries due to greed and religion? How many people have suffered because of these two things? How many people have wallowed in poverty or been confined to slavery in the name of greed and/or religion? What history shows us is that they’re powerful forces on their own, but when they’re actually combined the results are often catastrophic.

But I don’t just mean greed for money, but power as well. Empires that weren’t satisfied with what they had – they wanted more. They had to conquer and grow. It was no longer enough to simply be powerful and wealthy, they wanted to be the most powerful and wealthy. They wanted almost everyone on Earth to bow to their rule. The number of nations they conquered didn’t matter, nor did the amount of money they gained from their conquests, it was simply about greed and power. After all, how much land or money does anyone really need? It’s like the saying goes, what can someone buy with $5 billion that they couldn’t buy with $3 billion?

Then when you mix religion into all of that, it’s a very dangerous and often deadly mixture.

That’s what Islamic radicalism is really all about. It’s corrupt individuals using religion to justify their greedy desires for power. It’s all about control. And let’s face it, religion is the ultimate mechanism to use if you want to control large amounts of people.

Here in the U.S. Republicans use religion all the time to manipulate people into voting against their own interests. The GOP has successfully managed to get conservatives to actually mix their politics and faith together. I call it “Republicanity,” and I consider it more of a cult than an actual political party. It’s a whole lot of people who honestly believe that the only way to be a true Christian is to be a Republican. And they’ll never question the Republican party, because that’s tantamount to questioning their faith – which we all know many conservatives sure as heck won’t do.

But when you remove all the right-wing propaganda and rhetoric and get to the core of the Republican party, their social philosophies are built on religion and their economic ideologies are based on greed. They want to create a society run by theocratic government where the rich and the powerful have unregulated control over practically everything.

And when you look through all of human history, those are the two things that have been the catalysts behind some of the most horrific acts ever committed.

19 Kids and Cancelled? Petition to Have The Duggars Fired Launched Online

Better watch out Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. Your homo-hating ways could end up getting you both a pink slip. Then how will you feel all those damn kids?

An online petition on is urging TLC to cancel the highly rated reality show "19 Kids and Counting" for the Duggar family's active involvement in anti-LGBT causes. The petition, which was launched three months ago appears to be gaining serious traction. On November 19, Huff Po reported that it had 12,500 signatures. As of this writing, one day later, the petition has over 75,000 signees - 25,000 less than its goal of 100,000.

"The Duggars have been using their fame to promote discrimination, hate, and fear-mongering against gays and transgendered people. You need to take a stand on the side of justice and cancel their show," the petition reads.

The petition titled "End LGBTQ fear mongering by the Duggars" which was launched by Jim Wissick of San Jose, California, makes special mention of Michelle Duggar's participation in a robocall against an anti-discrimination housing law affecting transgender residents of Fayetteville, Arkansas, in which she likened trans women to criminals and child molesters.

"The Fayetteville City Council is voting on an ordinance this Tuesday night that would allow men - yes, I said men - to use women's and girls' restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only." Duggar said in the robocall. "I don't believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls."

Fear monger much, Michelle?

The anti-discrimination ordinance was passed by Fayetteville Arkansas City Council in August, but a group called "Repeal 119" gathered enough signatures to put the new law to a public vote on December 9.

The petition noted that according to finance and expenditure reports filed with the County Clerk's office, almost one fourth of the $44,000 raised for candidates to fight the new law has been donated by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. reached out to TLC about the petition, they had no comment.

The famous mega-family is part of the Quiverfull movement, which is largely considered a patriarchal cultish sect of Christianity. Quiverfulls are against pre-marital sex and call for women to be completely subservient to men. The Duggars have used their celebrity to champion anti-gay candidates, and are regulars at rallies and conferences pushing anti-gay and anti-abortion policy.


6a01a3fd2097df970b01bb07addc44970d-250wiVirginia has announced the formation of the state’s first LGBT Tourism Task Force, reports Loudon Times.

Made public during the Virginia-1 Tourism Summit in Reston yesterday by Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, the task force aims to showcase Virginia as a gay-friendly state for both residents and visitors.

According to state tourism officials, the task force is the second of its kind in the nation and the first in the South.

Secretary of Commerce Maurice Jones will head up the panel comprised of “industry stakeholders, LGBT community members and business leaders,” said McAuliffe.

McAuliffe’s address focused on the broad impact the $21.5 billion tourism industry has on state's economy:
“Tourism plays an important role in attaining that goal, building communities, and helping drive the new Virginia economy.” We have an opportunity to build upon the progress Virginia made this year in achieving marriage equality and ensure that visitors across the globe know that the commonwealth is open and welcoming to all.”

Jones added:
“Tourism has consistently proven to be a sound investment for Virginia. It is an instant revenue generator, channeling millions of dollars into the Commonwealth’s coffers and into the revenue stream to local governments.”
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