Ted Cruz Makes A Crude Bill Clinton Joke And Some Important Policy News

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) gave a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday filled with so many red-meat applause lines that it will likely overshadow some important policy pronouncements he made at the end.

On two major planks of the culture wars, the senator came down on the side of states' rights, suggesting a softening of traditional GOP federalist opposition in each case.

Speaking on the opening day of the annual conservative gathering, Cruz said he felt that decisions about marriage policy are best made at the state level.

“It is wrong for the federal government or unelected judges to tear down the marriage laws of the states,” he told the audience.

That stance is a clear rebuke of a series of lower court decisions that have ruled state marriage bans as unconstitutional. It also seems bound to clash against the Supreme Court, which will weigh in on the matter this June and is expected to declare marriage a constitutional right. But in other respects, Cruz's remark reflects a newish frontier for a Republican presidential hopeful and a fair bit of movement for Cruz himself.

As recently as last month, Cruz was saying he would introduce a federal constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Such a position, which was held by Mitt Romney in 2012, would establish a one-size-fits-all policy throughout the country. But on Thursday, Cruz was declaring -- at least before the CPAC crowd -- that marriage is “a question for the states.”

Nor was that the only thing Cruz said should be left to state lawmakers. The senator also expressed his grudging willingness to follow the same principle when it comes to legalizing pot.

“Look,” he said, after making a few pot-makes-you-dumb jokes to moderator Sean Hannity, “I actually think this is a great embodiment of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called the laboratories of democracy. If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that’s their prerogative. I don’t agree with it, but that’s their right.”

The crowd of conservative activists applauded, which they are prone to do when Cruz speaks.

Elsewhere, he didn’t have to take any risks to get them going. At one point, Cruz made a crude joke about Bill Clinton, uttering “youth outreach” when asked by Hannity to play a word-association game about the former president. As for the other Clinton, Cruz had some pre-packaged lines. "We could have had Hillary here, but we couldn't find a foreign nation to foot the bill,” he said, alluding to a Washington Post story from the day before about donations made to the Clinton Foundation during Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state.

For the most part, Cruz used his time to encourage the crowd to gravitate toward a 2016 presidential candidate willing to stand apart from dealmaking establishment Republicans. Cruz, who knows a thing or two about needling his own party, went through a litany of issues that he said could serve as litmus tests for presidential aspirants.

“If a candidate tells you they oppose Obamacare, fantastic. But when have you stood up and fought against it?” he said. "If a candidate says they oppose President Obama’s illegal and unconstitutional executive amnesty, terrific. When have you stood up and fought against it?”

As he spoke, 20 miles away, congressional Republicans were deliberating a path forward for funding the Department of Homeland Security, where the money runs out on Friday. The night before, Senate Republicans had allowed for a bill to fund DHS to be separated from legislation to undo the president’s executive actions on immigration. Only two Republicans had voted against a measure to essentially start the legislative process by which those dual bills would be considered. Cruz was not one of them. Despite his acquiescence, he was not deterred.

“Look, unfortunately Republican leadership is cutting a deal with Harry Reid and the Democrats to give in on executive amnesty. And the question why is because they are not listening to you,” he said. “There is a mendacity about Washington.”

Watch the video of Cruz's remarks above.

CW’s ‘The 100′ reveals that lead character Clarke is bisexual

The CW's post-apocalyptic drama The 100 last night revealed that series lead Clarke (Eliza Taylor) is bisexual when she shared a kiss with warrior Lexa (Alycia Debnam Carey). The series takes place 97 years after Earth is mostly destroyed by a nuclear war when a spaceship holding the last of humanity sends 100 juvenile prisoners to the surface as a last ditch attempt to see if the planet is habitable again. The teens, led by Clarke, soon realize that there are people left on Earth, the "Grounders" and their descendants who survived the war cobbled into a community led by Lexa. The two, as commanders of their respective clans, have agreed to team up to fight the violent opposing tribe, the Mountain Men.

In last night's episode "Bodyguard of Lies," Clarke confronts Lexa after finding out she has tried to have a member of the 100 killed. Lexa replies that the Grounders ways may be harsh but they are necessary for survival, and Clarke questions whether merely surviving is all they can hope for anymore.

A recent episode saw Clarke forced to sacrifice her ex-boyfriend Finn and inspired Lexa to share her own story about love lost.

“I lost someone special to me, too. Her name was Costia. She was captured by the Ice Nation because their queen believed she knew my secrets, because she was mine. They tortured her, killed her, cut off her head. I thought I’d never get over the pain, but I did.”

The timing may not be right for a relationship now with Clarke saying, "I'm not ready to be with anyone. Not yet," but there's hope for the future.

The series has already been renewed for a third season. Catch all new episodes of The 100 on the CW, Wednesdays at 9, to keep up to date with Lexa and Clarke.

February 26, 2015

The Second Coming of the Man Who Would Be Queen

There are times when you read an article that's nothing more than a screed, a scream of resentment, in this case on behalf of a man who has slid into irrelevancy. In what appears to me to be an attempt to capitalize on the Jenner transition, win some plaudits from reactionary fellow-travelers, and prepare the ground to promote Professor J. Michael Bailey once again into the limelight, along comes Charlotte Allen. Her article, "The Transgender Triumph" in the Weekly Standard, which reads like a "Greatest Hits" album of the scientifically ignorant and hateful anti-trans rabble, leads with the return of Professor J. Michael Bailey to the scene of the crimes in Chicago's Boystown that originally led to his fall from grace. It's a surprisingly tone-deaf way to stage-manage your Second Coming.

The trans community has triumphed, as the title suggests, to the degree it has because we've come out in greater numbers and educated our neighbors about our unique characteristics as one of many sexual minorities. In the world of science, of which Bailey is a part, we've made great progress not through bullying and political correctness, but by slowly and persistently presenting the science that shows that trans persons are normal like everyone else. It has taken time - the DSM 5 was only published two years ago. "Transgender" was first mentioned in a State of the Union speech last month. Open trans military service is continuing to plod forward.

And into this environment -because of this environment - those who have resisted and those who have hated have become increasingly public about their feelings and increasingly shrill in expressing them. It's the backlash part of the civil rights dialectic, which is why it is not unexpected, but apparently the Bailey-Blanchard-Dreger crowd hasn't really been paying attention.

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the scientific consensus has radically changed in this century. In 2003 the trans civil rights movement was young and ineffective. It was Bailey's publication of The Man Who Would Be Queen that galvanized and mobilized the trans activists. The book was published, remarkably, by the National Academies Press, associated with the Institute of Medicine, and included an encomium from scientific luminary and then-MIT professor, Steven Pinker, who wrote on the back cover:

With a mixture of science, humanity, and fine writing, J. Michael Bailey illuminates the mysteries of sexual orientation and identity in the best book yet written on the subject. The Man Who Would Be Queen may upset the guardians of political correctness on both the left and the right, but it will be welcomed by intellectually curious people of all sexes and sexual orientations. A truly fascinating book.

There is little science in the book, and less humanity. The book is an expression of Bailey's salacious interest in the sexuality of trans women, not their humanity. In a remarkable exploration of his personal desires which he substitutes for data, he fits right in with the Freudians and fetish systematizers who have been marginalized and limited to ever smaller circles in the scientific community. And, remarkably, the author of this review jumps right back into that sensationalistic approach, starting her article with this objectifying comment in the second paragraph: "I stared at her [Sara Andrews] mesmerized, looking for signs that she had once been male." There are images of her "scanty costume," her "smooth and hairless skin," and she is described as "shy and demure." Language focused on physicality and sexuality, the natural vs. unnatural - this is the focus of the author and her patron, Professor Bailey. Apparently one needn't have a penis for membership in his crowd.

Sloppiness and calumny abound in this essay. Don't let the essay's title fool you; it's one of the few instances where the title accurately portrays reality in a positive sense (though not intentionally) while the article itself is a hit piece.

She uses the term "transgenderism," calling it the new politically-correct term for transsexualism, but had she done a minimum of searching she'd have learned that it has never been accepted in the trans community. It is a term used by the Weekly Standard crowd to disparage trans persons. The same goes for the use of "transgender" as a noun, which is just as unacceptable grammatically. She calls Sara Andrews a "transwoman," in parentheses, denying her right to self-identification (and misspelling "trans woman" in the process). She mentions the 1970s meme that "transgenderism is an overwhelmingly male phenomenon," in spite of the fact that the numbers have been equal at least since the turn of the century. Doing so plays into Bailey's fetishist theme, and again denies the identity of her interviewee, Sara, who

insisted on defying Bailey's sexual-desire hypothesis. "It's not a sexual thing," Andrews said. "It's who I am."

Allen says the Bailey thesis was controversial in 2003 and is even more controversial now. Now, not really, because while it was controversial then, it is laughable today, held only by this cast of characters increasingly ignored by their colleagues. The two APAs - the American Psychological and Psychiatric Associations - and the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and growing numbers of therapists of all schools, recognize the biological innateness of gender identity and its manifestations, contrary to her belief that "[t]he medical evidence for a mismatch between brains and bodies is ambiguous." The most recent review was published just last week in Boston. The classic paper on the biological roots of transsexualism, entitled, "Atypical Gender Development," was published nine years ago.

Bailey's attempt to fetishize trans women, who today are still being manhandled by his colleagues, Drs. Ray Blanchard and Ken Zucker in Toronto, plummeted into a sinkhole in 2003 by virtue of his refusal to recognize the existence of trans men, who don't fit the male fetishist profile. Today we see ever larger numbers of children announcing their identity to accepting parents - are they proof of what Ms. Allen calls, in support of Bailey, "a matter of sexual desire and romantic yearning"? Sexual desire and romantic yearning in four-year-olds? Even the intellectual leader of the Bailey clan, Professor Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins, recognized in 2005 that gender identity exists in the human brain. It confuses him, and he still can't separate sexual orientation from gender identity in his mind, but he's an old man and can possibly be forgiven for his close-mindedness. But that doesn't stop Allen from referencing McHugh's misreading of the Karolinska study to suit his anti-trans conclusion (trans women actually benefit greatly from transition with appropriate support) or completely misinterpreting the significance of the Reimer case. David Reimer was not trans, was surgically feminized at birth after developing in utero as a male and raised female, and was lied to about his traumatic circumcision until Professor Mickey Diamond of the University of Hawai'i discovered the John Money cover-up.

Allen's cultural transphobia factoids come fast and furious. She's uncomfortable with properly identifying victims of hate crimes, such as CeCe McDonald whom she makes into a perpetrator rather than a victim, and uses Chelsea Manning (a convicted traitor) and Michele Kosilek (a convicted killer) as poster girls. Then she targets older women for the crime of being late-in-life transitioners, thereby supporting Bailey's theory that this class of women, unlike the "homosexual transsexuals" (an archaic British classification) over whom Bailey drools in drag bars, is just composed of fetishists. The accomplishments of Martine Rothblatt, Jenny Boylan, Diedre McCloskey and Meghan Stabler are masculinized in a manner Janice Raymond, the notorious second-wave feminist hater of all things trans, and author of The Transsexual Empire, would applaud.

I will leave it to Professor Lynn Conway and Andrea James to once again take the lead in exposing this stew of pseudoscientific salaciousness. The people with the sexual fetishes are Bailey and his friends, not the trans women who struggled with their gender incongruence before finding the courage to lead authentic lives.

Alice Dreger should know soon that her attempt, in her soon-to-be-published book, and with this article, to resurrect the reputation of J. Michael ("isn't gay himself") Bailey, will not land in virgin ground, but into the lap of an engaged, erudite and committed group of activists who are proud of their identities and contributions to society. It's worth noting that the hotbed of Baileyism, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (isn't that a welcoming name for a scared family looking for support?) in Toronto, formerly known as the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, home to both Drs. Zucker and Blanchard, is today reconsidering its long history of reparative therapy and resistance to scientific progress. When what is affectionately known as "Jurassic Clarke" fades into history, the major battle in the war for legitimacy will be over.

Negotiating for Cessation of Persecution of LGBT People in Iran

Now that the repressive regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has finally left the scene since he was ineligible to run again in 2014, and the perceived more moderate administration of Hassan Rouhani has risen to power, an easing of tensions between the U.S. and Iran seems more possible, at least more so than at any time previously since the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979.

The Obama administration is currently engaged in critical negotiations with the Iranian government to limit that country's capacity to manufacture and deliver nuclear weapons. In addition, Iranian jet fighters have joined with other countries, including the U.S., Jordan, and Egypt, to degrade and eventually destroy the terrorist group ISIS that has been relentlessly grabbing formally sovereign territories in the Middle East, and savagely raping and murdering citizens and foreign visitors throughout the region.

During this potential thaw in relations, I propose an additional agenda item to add to President Obama's list of objectives with the Iranians. Let us not forget that since Iran's revolution, which replaced the Shah with an orthodox theocracy, many segments of the population have experienced repression under Iranian Sharia law -- of the many segments, in particular, include Iran's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans* (LGBT) inhabitants.

Since 1979, some human rights activists estimated between 4000-6000 LGBT people have been executed in Iran. Same-sex sexuality between consenting partners in private is defined as a crime. Iranian law condemns men involved in sexual penetrative acts (sodomy or lavat) with the possibility of death, and so-called non-penetrative acts with flogging. After the fourth non-penetrative "offense," the penalty is death.

Women convicted of engaging in same-sex sexuality (mosahegheh) may be made to undergo flogging with 50 lashes. And also, following the fourth conviction, they too are eligible for the death penalty (Articles 127, 129, 130).

Examples are many. Two gay Iranian teenagers, 18 and 17-years-old, were hung in the streets of Iran on July 19, 2005, in Edalat (Justice Square) in Mashbad, Iran. Reports of the widespread repression of homosexuals in Iran have been verified by Human Rights Watch and the Iranian Student News Agency.

Following the Islamic Revolution, trans* identity and expression were also classified as a crime. However, the government reclassified this in 1986 as "heterosexual" if the person undergoes gender confirmation (formerly known as "sex reassignment") surgery. Today, Iran stands as the country performing the most gender confirmation surgeries in the world, second only to Thailand. Iranian trans* people, however, still suffer frequent harassment and persecution.

Repressive regimes around the world currently and throughout history have scapegoated, oppressed, and murdered LGBT people. The time has long since passed that we speak out against repression in all of its forms. Though I am not naïve enough to believe that we will soon witness general human and civil rights legislated and enacted in this authoritarian theocracy anytime soon, maybe we can now see, however, some progressive movement in the plight of LGBT people in Iran.

Facebook Introduces Gender Free-Form Field For Users

Facebook is receiving praise from leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy groups after expanding its gender options to include a free-form field.

The new field allows Facebook users to write in their own gender identity if they don't identify with any of the pre-existing 58 choices included on the social media platform, the Associated Press reported.

Officials made the announcement in a post on the Facebook Diversity group:

The move follows the addition of gender-neutral options for family member identification and a customizable option with about 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender as well as preferred pronoun choices (him, her or them) in 2014.

Software engineer Ari Chivukula, who identifies as transgender and was part of Facebook's team who helped create the new option, told the AP that officials hope the free-form choice will "open up the dialogue" for people who don't identify as male or female.

Among those to applaud the move was Dr. Eliza Byard, Executive Director of GLSEN, who called it "a huge step forward for transgender, gender nonconforming and gender queer youth" in an email statement.

“The internet is an essential source of resources, support and community for LGBT youth, and one of its most important ‘living rooms’ now better reflects their reality and self-understanding," Dr. Byard added.

Echoing those sentiments was GLAAD's President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, who said, "By empowering people to talk about their gender in their own words, Facebook continues to be a leader in its commitment to respecting and protecting LGBT users, Part of being who you are is just being able to describe yourself in a way that feels right to you.”

Despite What You Think, David Cronenberg Doesn’t Actually Hate Hollywood

"Maps to the Stars" is a nauseating ride through the conniving, narcissistic and (literally) incestuous world of modern day Hollywood -- at least as imagined by writer Bruce Wagner and brought to life by director David Cronenberg. Julianne Moore, John Cusack, Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska and even Carrie Fisher show up in the film, which functions like a horrific version of Robert Altman's "The Player." HuffPost Entertainment caught up with Cronenberg to talk about why he (as well as Wagner) doesn't consider the polarizing film a satire, and why there's so much incest in the film. Here's what you need to know about "Maps," courtesy of Cronenberg:

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The film represents Wagner’s perspective on Hollywood, not Cronenberg's.
"I’m a Canadian and I’ve always lived in Toronto. Bruce was sort of raised in L.A. and has been involved with the movie business. Obviously his experience of Hollywood and mine are different. For me, it was like most people. I thought it was a place these great movies came from, like Walt Disney to Errol Flynn. But on the other hand, since my first trip to L.A. in the early ‘70s, I have had all kinds of meetings with studios executives, enough to confirm that what Bruce writes about is accurate."

But he doesn't hate Hollywood.
"In the French newspaper, I think it was Le Monde, they had a headline over my interview that said, 'Je ne déteste pas Hollywood' -- 'I don’t hate Hollywood.' The French critics were assuming that all these years there was this festering anger in me about Hollywood, how they imagined I might have been treated. So I said, 'Not true.' I have great affections for Hollywood and Hollywood’s past."

While very dark, the humor in "Maps" is essential for Cronenberg.
"Of course, the movie is funny on certain level, there’s no question. I’ve often been asked, 'Will you ever make a comedy?' and my response is, 'I think I’ve made nothing but.' Inasmuch as I couldn’t live my life without humor. I couldn’t be on the film set without humor, and I couldn’t really make a movie without humor. I think it’s so innately a part of the human condition. The way that we deal with absurdity and ridiculous things in life, you have to have humor. I don’t think the fact that ['Maps'] is funny means that it’s not accurate. People laughing at [certain scene in the film], that’s a perfectly appropriate response. I would laugh myself."


But "Maps" is not a satire.
"What Bruce writes about is accurate. What he writes is not really satire, it’s more like a documentary, really. I get kind of pedantic when I think of what the word satire means. It has a very specific meaning. I think these days people think satire is funny and nasty, but it’s really more than that. You think of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels or A Modest Proposal. These were real satires and they involve all kinds of extreme exaggeration and often fantastic things that are there to show the hypocrisy or the cruelty of some regime or government. For me, therefore, I don’t see 'Maps' as a satire at all in that technical sense of the word. It’s really pretty accurate. If it’s accurate just on a human level or a conceptual level, then it’s not really satire."

While seemingly hyperbolic, the film's many over-the-top, violent moments are true to Hollywood history.
"Kenneth Anger’s book Hollywood Babylon is full of true life stories of people laying bleeding having been bludgeoned by their lovers, their producers, their studio heads. Hollywood Babylon is one example, but there are endless incidents of spectacular murders and what you would call over-the-top stuff that’s happened in the history of Hollywood. It’s extreme, but it’s real."


There's a lot of incest in the film, which relates to Greek tragedy and the nature of Hollywood itself.
"In a way, we think of Hollywood as royalty, and when you think of the Egyptian dynasties, incest was considered a positive thing. Because you were so royal, because your blood was so special, to mate with someone who wasn’t part of that was considered demeaning. I think there’s a suggestion of that in what Bruce has constructed. It’s maybe a reflection of the greater kind of incestuousness of Hollywood in which people know each other, interact with each other, steal from each other, imitate each other; kind of an incestuousness which is not in fact healthy just as genetically we know incest is not healthy. Perhaps that is one of Bruce’s comments on the insularity of Hollywood, how it needs fresh blood and it doesn’t get enough, so you end up with movies that are boring or familiar or remakes. I think that’s really what it’s about."

"Maps to the Stars" opens on Feb. 27.

HuffPost Love And Sex Podcast: The Power Of The Clitoris

Whether it's Freud telling the world that "real" women orgasm through vaginal penetration or a trashy magazine suggesting sex positions that even the most skilled Cirque Du Soleil performers wouldn't be able to master, bad sex advice isn't hard to come by.

Instead it's the frank, real, anatomically correct conversations about sex and pleasure that have trouble seeing the light of day. And when it comes to any conversation about women's sexuality, the clitoris -- the only organ on the human body whose sole purpose is pleasure -- is often the elephant in the room.

Frequently referred to as a "nub" or a "button," the true anatomy of the clitoris was just discovered in 1998 -- three decades after humans landed on the moon! -- and is still rarely discussed. In this episode of The HuffPost Love+Sex Podcast, we wanted to know: What would happen if we brought the clitoris out of the shadows and its true function and capabilities were finally known? The answer is nothing short of revolutionary.

To help us better understand the clitoris, the cultural ignorance surrounding this incredible and incredibly ignored part of the human anatomy and how truly damaging that ignorance is -- not just for those with clits but for anyone who knows a person who has a clit -- Love+Sex hosts Carina Kolodny and Noah Michelson talked with Sophia Wallace, the artistic force behind the emerging 'Cliteracy' movement, Jenny Block, author of the upcoming book O Wow: Discovering Your Ultimate Orgasm and Ian Kerner, sex therapist and author of She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide To Pleasuring A Woman:

So tune in and listen up! Because you don't know what you don't know about the clitoris.

Two Young Women Savagely Beaten In Homophobic Attack

The young women were walking in the direction of a food outlet at approximately 2am when two men began "firing homophobic slurs" at the couple.

"We had literally left our apartment only minutes before when these two grown men started shouting abuse at us about being lesbians," Tipperary-born Roisin said.

Vajaculation Is The Answer To All The World’s Problems

World peace will be achieved -- not through politics or protests -- but, well, vajaculation.

WifeyTV and Funny Or Die teamed up to create a parody video that follows a woman named Mel on her journey to female ejaculation (a.k.a. vajaculation) in order to make the world a better place.

Directed by "Transparent" creator Jill Soloway, the video shows Mel's spirit guides Nina Hartley and Maja the White Witch of L.A. coming to visit Mel to inform her that she's the "chosen one." Her task? To make "female ejaculate reign over the entire world" in order to achieve gender equality (obviously).

The voice of God, played by Wanda Sykes, tells Mel, “If you build it, she will come.” So with a little help from her spirit guides, Mel creates an impressively realistic vagina using a pink tent and a lot of papier-mâché in order to make the vaginas of the world vajaculate.

While not all women can or should worry about ejaculating, as the video states, "Women owning their desire and pleasure is the real revolution." And to top it off, once Mel makes female ejaculate "reign" over the White House and Father Patriarchy, the world seems to be a better place.

“And that’s how it all began, children. World peace, eight female presidents, the dawn of the age of the moon uterus and men losing the right to vote," the almighty Wanda Sykes voiceover says at the end of the video.

World peace is waiting ladies -- get to it.

Alexis Pauline Gumbs Discusses Her Father’s Relationship With Queer Black Feminism

Growing up as a queer person of color is not, by any means, an easy intersection of identities to navigate in the world. But what would it be like to grow up with a father whose belief systems very much parallels those of a black queer feminist?

Alexis Pauline Gumbs joined HuffPost Live this week to discuss her experiences growing up in a household with a parent who identified as such. From a very early age, Gumbs faced encouragement to think critically about issues pertaining to her identity and sense of self, largely due to the efforts of her father. She told HuffPost Live:
"I think one of the things I love about my dad and one of the ways that he's most deeply impacted me is that this is just a man who love black people -- through the music, through how he's invited me to learn about historical figures. I mean, I had Malcolm X for beginners when I could first learn to read... It's completely shaped my journey, understanding that I have to love myself -- I'm a black person. I have to love myself fully and what that has looked like has been really liberating in terms of my journey."

Check out the clip above or head here to watch the segment in full.