Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Maggie Gallagher: Marriage Poll Dropped Because Of Phil Robertson & Brandon Eich

According to Maggie Gallagher, the recent five-point drop in marriage equality polling can be sourced to public outrage over the treatment of Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson and former Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich. She writes at National Review:
Salon may be right — this polling result may well be temporary or an outlier. But if my analysis is right, the future depends on two things: whether gay-marriage advocates continue to press the idea that supporters of the Christian and traditional understanding of marriage should be treated as bigots in the public square — and whether stories of the oppression of opponents of gay marriage “break through” the media blockade. That will in turn depend in part on whether political champions of supporters of classic marriage emerge to make oppression visible. I am not necessarily either optimistic or pessimistic, but I would say this: In previous articles and essays I have discussed the political effects of the GOP’s decision to silence itself on so-called “social issues.” If your goal is simply winning elections, this mute strategy, while I think it demonstrably unwise, could be arguable. What is not arguable is that if you are one of the people who actually care about these issues — for whom protecting life, marriage, and religious liberty is not a political strategy but a reason for being in politics — the candidates’ silence will hurt your cause. You donate to or otherwise support candidates who adopt a mute strategy at your own peril. In a culture war, the single most effective thing you can do is persuade your opponents to stop talking. When only one side speaks, the polls will move, and its victory will become inevitable.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ebola Success Seen With HIV Med

Acting out of "desperation," a doctor in Liberia is reporting success in treating ebola with the HIV medication marketed as Epivir.
Dr. Gobee Logan has given the drug, lamivudine, to 15 Ebola patients, and all but two survived. That's a 7% mortality rate. Across West Africa, the virus has killed 70% of its victims. Outside Logan's Ebola center in Tubmanburg, four of his recovering patients walk the grounds, always staying inside the fence that separates the Ebola patients from everyone else. "My stomach was hurting; I was feeling weak; I was vomiting," Elizabeth Kundu, 23, says of her bout with the virus. "They gave me medicine, and I'm feeling fine. We take it, and we can eat -- we're feeling fine in our bodies." Kundu and the other 12 patients who took the lamivudine and survived, received the drug in the first five days or so of their illness. The two patients who died received it between days five and eight. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says that theoretically, Logan's approach has some merit. Lamivudine is a nucleocide analog, and other drugs in this class are being studied to treat Ebola.
In the United States, Epivir is typically prescribed as one of the medications in the combination pills Trizivir and Combovir.


After a son was disowned by his Baptist parents for “choosing the gay lifestyle instead of turning to God,” he found a new family in his fraternity brothers who comforted him with their love and support.

“I came out to my family today and it did not go over well,” Tim shared online. “They’re very baptist and feel my choice of sexuality is am abomination. They took my car and phone and told me I can never come see them. I have twin little sisters who are 4 and now it looks like I’m going to miss seeing them grow up. My frat brothers have been a solace for me with emotional support though it’s still a pretty fresh wound.”

“My fraternity is being so great right now that I’m realizing that I do have a bigger family than I ever thought.”

Tim agreed to share his story exclusively with The Gaily Grind in hopes of encouraging “all of us who are afraid to tell people who you truly are. There will be losses, sometimes devastating. But don’t be afraid. There will always be someone to support you.”
About a year ago, my parents found me flirting with a couple guys on twitter and confronted me about it. I confessed and they gave me a choice of keeping the gay lifestyle or reforming to straight and keeping my family. I must admit that I caved and tried to change my sexuality. Over several months, I realized that just wasn’t possible. However, I didn’t have the guts to tell my family so it was back to hiding my true self like I had for the past 7 years.

Last Thursday, my mom called me and said I needed to start thinking about transferring my insurance and phone charge into my name as they had found out I had been drinking (I drink relatively little, only been drunk once) and were not going to be funding my dangerous activities. She told me I had til Sunday to decide. So Sunday I knew a reckoning was coming. I came back to the house after church and they confronted me about my drinking. I admitted that I had been going against them. My mom looked me in the eye and asked “Have you gone back to homosexuality?” And looking at her I realized I couldn’t hide any more. I was too tired. I told her yes and she just hung her head. They then requested that I give them my keys and credit card that was in their name. All of those I was okay with. Then they asked for my phone which I bought myself. That hurt but at that point they were both crying and I couldn’t refuse. My mom brought it to the kitchen and dropped it into the trash. 
They pleaded with me to come back to God and not to go down this road of sin. They told me that if I chose this then I would no longer be welcome to see any of my family, including my 4 year old twin baby sisters. I didn’t even get to tell them goodbye. They also brought down my two other younger sisters who had been listening upstairs. Both of them were in tears when they stood in front of me. My mom told me I had to tell them with my own mouth what I am. I told them “I’ve been drinking and I’m gay. I’m sorry.” 
After almost throwing up twice but not shedding a tear, I was taken to a theater where I would meet a friend to take me back to my university. My dad and I sat in the car looking at the theater. He pleaded with me one last time as I opened the door not to go. To come back. I told him, “There had to be something that would make this pain worth it. I knew now that they loved their God more than you love me.” When he nodded his head I knew where I stood. I got out of the car and told him that I was sorry for causing him and my family so much pain. He said “I forgive you.” And I shut the door.
Upon arriving back to my dorm room, I logged into our GroupMe chat and sent a message asking for someone to come to my dorm room. I usually don’t ask any one for anything. Gotta be strong ya know. Be the big brother. People knew something was up. I told them that I had been disowned but not what for. Within 30 seconds I had 3 guys on the way to my dorm. Staring at the screen, seeing guys rushing to my aid without any idea what I had done… That’s the first time that day I started crying. And I wailed.. I cried and cried until I hear them knock and them I wiped my face and let them in. 
We talked for a while, me telling them my story and them supporting my decision. Two of the guys are new members who have only known me for about 3 weeks. The other guy is an out gay brother of mine that I’ve known for about a year. Their unconditional love and support was so enriching and loving that I couldn’t hardly understand it. I mean, these guys have only known me for a month or so. How could they be offering me a place to stay or an extra phone when my family had just taken those things from me. 
That night we had a chapter meeting. The guys that weren’t able to come to my dorm asked how I was and if I was okay. I’m not exactly the straightest guy in the frat. Everyone had their suspicions. When guys came and asked me one-on-one I told them and every one of them was supportive. 
Then later that night I posted an official message about what I had gone through that day and that I was gay. The response was overwhelming supportive and loving.

Gorgeous Squared!

Ted Cruz’s A.G. fight already misguided

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) does not believe in wasting time. Less than 24 hours have passed since Attorney General Eric Holder announced he’s stepping down, and at this point, no one seems to have any idea when the White House will announce a successor or who he or she will be.

But for Cruz, that just means now is a good time to start drawing battle lines.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) issued a political call to arms for conservatives, saying that outgoing senators should not vote on the nominee during the post-election lame-duck session. “Allowing Democratic senators, many of whom will likely have just been defeated at the polls, to confirm Holder’s successor would be an abuse of power that should not be countenanced,” Cruz said in a statement.Perhaps more so than usual, Cruz has no idea what he’s talking about.
As Kevin Drum noted in response, “Unless Cruz is suggesting that they should be banned completely, then of course business should be conducted during lame duck sessions. What else is Congress supposed to do during those few weeks?”

Right. Members of the Senate are elected to serve six-year terms. The Constitution, which Cruz usually loves to talk about, is quite explicit on this point. Article I does not say senators’ terms end after 5 years and 10 months, with the final two months designated as goof-off time.

Indeed, if Cruz is still confused, he can look to very recent history to understand that nominating and confirming cabinet officials during a lame-duck session is the exact opposite of “an abuse of power.”

In November 2006, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced he was stepping down at the Pentagon. Almost immediately thereafter, then-President George W. Bush nominated Robert Gates as Rumsfeld’s successor, and during the lame-duck session, the Senate held confirmation hearings, a committee vote, and a confirmation vote on the Senate floor.

Gates was confirmed, 95 to 2, and he was sworn in the week before Christmas 2006. Some of the senators who voted in support of the nominee, to use Cruz’s language, had “just been defeated at the polls,” but it didn’t make a bit of difference.

Why not? Because they were still senators who had a job to do. Indeed, 2006 was an especially important year: the Republican majority in the Senate had just been voted out in a Democratic wave election, in large part because of the Bush administration’s national-security policy. And yet, the Senate still moved quickly and efficiently to consider and confirm a new Pentagon chief.

This wasn’t an “abuse of power.” It was just the American political process working as it’s designed to work.

The same is true now, whether Cruz understands that or not.

Of course, there’s another scenario the far-right Texan may also want to keep in mind: the longer Cruz and his cohorts delay the process, the longer Eric Holder will remain the Attorney General. Indeed, Holder made it quite clear yesterday that he intends to stay on until his successor is ready to step into the office.

Under the circumstances, and given the right’s uncontrollable hatred for the current A.G., shouldn’t Cruz want the Senate to vote on Holder’s replacement during the lame-duck session? Has he really thought his current posturing through?

United Nations Human Rights Council Approves LGBT Rights Resolution

Earlier today the United Nations Human Rights Commission approved 25-14 a resolution opposing anti-LGBT violence and discrimination, The Washington Blade reports:

The U.S., along with Argentina, Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Montenegro, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, South Africa, Macedonia, the U.K., Venezuela and Vietnam voted for the proposal. Algeria, Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates opposed it. 
Burkina Faso, China, Congo, India, Kazakhstan, Namibia and Sierra Leone abstained. 
The U.N. Human Rights Council before the final vote rejected seven proposed amendments put forth by Egypt, Uganda, Pakistan, South Sudan and other countries that sought to strip LGBT-specific language from the proposal
Said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power:
I am very pleased that the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution today to combat discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. This is only the second time in its history the Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution on LGBT rights, and the first time it has done so with a majority of its members. This resolution mandates a much-needed UN report that will investigate and bring to the world’s attention the violence and discrimination faced by individuals around the world simply because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Buzzfeed adds that much attention was paid to South Africa's vote - due to recent concerns that the country might slowly be turning away from its pro-LGBT status in the region. The country ultimately voted for the resolution, but LGBT activists close to the negotiations said it worked to water down the resolution before the vote.
In remarks delivered following the vote, South African Ambassador Abdul Samad Minty [pictured] made clear he felt squeezed by its historic commitment to LGBT rights — it was the first country in the world to protect LGBT rights in its constitution — and a desire to preserve relationships with other African countries that have recently enacted severe anti-LGBT laws like Uganda and Nigeria. 
“South Africa believes that no person should fear for their safety or be deprived of their dignity because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Minty said, but blasted “divisive” steps taken by some donor nations to “use development aid to shift policies and laws in some countries,” an apparent reference to adjustments made by the United States and some European countries in contributions to Uganda following enactment of its Anti-Homosexuality Act earlier this year.

Tom Cotton and the era of post-truth politics

A couple of years ago, Mitt Romney developed a bad habit. As part of his national campaign, the Republican nominee would attack President Obama over some perceived failing. Then the attack would be fact-checked and be proven wrong. Romney, confronted with proof that he was lying, would repeat the claim anyway, convinced that it didn’t matter whether he told the truth or not. It happenedover and over and over again.

It underscored a dangerous development: the era of post-truth politics.

Two years later, the phenomenon hasn’t gone away. In Arkansas last week, Rep. Tom Cotton (R), his party’s U.S. Senate nominee, was caught in one of the most brazen lies of the 2014 campaign season. The right-wing congressman claimed he voted against this year’s Farm Bill because President Obama “hijacked” it, “turned it into a food-stamp bill,” and added “billions more in spending.”

As a factual matter, literally none of this is even remotely true, and fact-checkers came down hard on such shameless dishonesty – all of which might matter if Cotton gave a darn. But as Peter Urban reported, the congressman just doesn’t care about getting caught.
Rejecting criticism of its latest TV ad, Republican Senate hopeful Tom Cotton plans to keep running the “Farm Bill” message beyond its current ad buy. 
“We’ve gotten such great feedback from farmers, taxpayers, and supporters that we’re actually going to increase the size of the ad buy,” said David Ray, a spokesman for the Cotton campaign.
In a local interview this week, Cotton said he’s “proud” of his demonstrably dishonest commercial, adding that the fact-checkers didn’t spend time “growing up on a farm,” so he knows “a little bill more about farming than they do.”

As defenses go, Cotton’s argument is gibberish. One need not grow up on a farm to recognize the basic tenets of reality. The congressman told a lie, he knew it was a lie, he got caught telling a lie, and instead of doing the honorable thing, Cotton has decided he likes this lie.

The public discourse isn’t supposed to work this way. Under traditional American norms, politicians could be expected to spin, dodge, and slice the truth awfully thin, but there was an expectation that a candidate who got caught telling a bald-faced lie to the public was likely to end up in real trouble.

Cotton seems to believe those norms no longer apply – he can get caught lying and pay no real price at all.

In other words, Tom Cotton sees American politics in a post-truth era. He can say what he pleases, without regard for honesty, because there won’t be any meaningful consequences for deceiving the public on purpose.

Is he right? This didn’t work out too well for Romney, but Cotton’s in a much better position to prevail in Arkansas.

Once the standard is set that lying will be rewarded, what incentive will politicians have to be honest?
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