Saturday, May 23, 2015
We head back to Virginia today and will spend the day on flights and in airports. Hopefully, American Airlines is more punctual than on the trip here to France. It's been a wonderful trip and we got some shopping bargains yesterday. I am from thrilled to be headed home. I will post more on my reflections on the trip and what America could learn from the French.
Friday, May 22, 2015
|Joan of Arc statute|
Yesterday was a "low mileage day" in terms of walking: 7.6 miles. We began the day hitting shops on the Rur de Rivoli in the Marais district before heading out to Giverny in Normandy to visit the home and gardens of impressionist painter, Claude Monet. We discovered amazing shops where I bought gifts for the grandchildren and a wonderful men's store with a killer sale (we are going back today). Monet's gardens were gorgeous and worth the motor coach ride - as was getting to see the lush Normandy countryside. We finished the day visiting Saint Chapelle which has perhaps the most spectacular stain glass windows in Paris.
After dinner, the husband and I and a gay friend who traveling with us headed to some of the gay bars in the Marais and, among other things, we admired the beautiful men of which Paris has an abundance.
Here are some photos:
Today will be a leisurely day shopping and merely enjoying the beauty and ambiance of Paris. The driver picks us all up at 8:00AM tomorrow morning to take us back the the airport for the trip back to Virginia (expect me to be a major funk upon getting back and wishing I was NOT in Hampton Roads).
Facing the reality that the forces of hate, bigotry, and reaction are losing their war against gay equality and acceptance, Robert Gates, the president of the Boy Scouts of America has called for the end of the organization's ban on gay leaders at the organization's annual national meeting in Atlanta. It goes without saying that sheets of spittle will be flying from the Christofascists who desperately need to be able to discriminate against gays in order to feel better about their own miserable lives as they cling to Bronze Age myths and fairy tales. The New York Times looks at the development. Here are excerpts:
Robert M. Gates, the president of the Boy Scouts of America and former secretary of defense, called on Thursday to end the Scouts’ ban on gay adult leaders, warning the group’s executives that “we must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be.”Speaking at the Boy Scouts’ annual national meeting in Atlanta, Mr. Gates said cascading events — including potential employment discrimination lawsuits and the impending Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, as well as mounting internal dissent over the exclusionary policy — had led him to conclude that the current rules “cannot be sustained.”If the Boy Scouts do not change on their own, he said, the courts are likely to force them to, and “we must all understand that this will probably happen sooner rather than later.”In a nod to the religious organizations that sponsor a majority of local Scout troops, he said they should remain free to set their own guidelines for leaders. “I support a policy that accepts and respects our different perspectives and beliefs,” he said, adding, “I truly fear that any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement.”
He said that he had not yet made a formal proposal to the national board, but that it must act soon to head off possible disaster.Though his position is voluntary, Mr. Gates, an Eagle Scout, wields enormous power in the Boy Scouts, which have been struggling to stem a shrinking membership for decades.The treatment of gay men and boys has been a source of wrenching debate. Conservative religious groups that sponsor many Scout troops, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Roman Catholic Church and some evangelical churches, opposed the participation of openly gay members, while local leaders in more liberal regions have called for an end to discrimination.
The Mormon Church uses the Boy Scouts as its main organization for boys and is by far the largest sponsor of Scout troops, overseeing more than 437,000 youths as of 2013, of a national total of 2.6 million youths participating in the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Explorer Scouts and other programs.The church issued a guarded statement Thursday: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will, of course, examine any such changes very carefully to assess how they might impact our own century-long association with the B.S.A.” If the Scouts’ executive board adopts the policy Mr. Gates has recommended, letting local groups set their own leadership rules, the church is not likely to be affected.
Religious conservatives, who had already condemned the Boy Scouts for the decision to admit openly gay boys, were strongly critical of Mr. Gates’s plan.John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, a conservative Christian group, said: “I think it’s a sad thing. I think that many families and boys will be negatively affected by the Boy Scouts’ departure from their longstanding principles.”
Expect the hysteria of the Christofascists to become even more extreme as they see the world move away from their toxic form of Christianity which needs ignorance and censorship of information to prosper.
The city of Fortalez, Brazil is sponsoring a group gay marriage on June 28, see article in Portuguese. The cerimony will allow 50 couples to get married and each couple is allowed to invite up to 10 guests. The ceremony is part of the growing acceptance of same sex marriage across South America. Here is a Google translation of a portion of a piece in O Povo online:
A Second mass LGBT wedding with open enrollment will take place in Fortalez, Brazil. The ceremony, which in 2014 married 60 people (30 couples), will be held in the Children's Park in Fortaleza Center.
The second collective homoafetivo wedding Fortaleza is receiving applications until June 8. This time will be 50 LGBT couples participating in the ceremony.
Each couple will be entitled to buffet and decoration, and may invite 10 people to attend the event, which will take place on 28 June. The date registers the World LGBT Pride Day and Municipal Awareness Day and LGBT Citizenship.
There are two main branches of the Lutheran Church - the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America which is gay accepting (I am a member) and the reactionary, ignorance embracing Missouri Synod Lutheran Church that is virulently anti-gay. As seems to be always the case, it turns out that it is the vociferous anti-gay folks who are self-loathing closet cases and/or psychologically disturbed and obsessed with all things sexually. A case in point: now former associate pastor Matthew Makela of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Midland, Michigan (pictured above). As Queerty is reporting, Makela nearly drove one gay teen to suicide through his condemnation of homosexuality and attacks on the teen via social media. Meanwhile, the hypocritical bastard was on Grindr seeking hook ups and describing himself as "a top who likes to cuddle." Thankfully, Makela's career as a pastor is over and his foul, cowardly church been driven to apparently take down its website and post a mealy mouthed message to its parishioners. Here is a portion of Queerty's story that blew the lid off of Makela's hypocrisy:
Until 2 p.m. on Monday, the ‘Our Church Staff’ section of St. John’s Lutheran Church and School’s website described Reverend Matthew Makela as an associate pastor who enjoys, “family, music, home improvement, gardening and landscaping, and sports.”
Screenshots obtained by Queerty from a source who asked that his name be withheld shed light on some of the Reverend’s other favorite past times — namely nude make out sessions and sex with other men.
Of course, how someone behaves between the sheets is really nobody’s business but his own, except when he’s actively doing damage to others. We’ve seen it time and time again. The lawmaker who spends his days fighting against gay rights and his nights cruising for bottoms, or the ex-gay activist who isn’t quite as ex-gay as he’d like everyone to believe.
Which brings us back to Makela. The married father of five from Midland, Michigan doesn’t just preach Jesus’ love and help with bake sales. He also uses his position of authority and respect in his community to broadcast his self-loathing view on same-sex attraction.
If Makela made even one LGBT kid at St. John’s “Christ-based” elementary school, their parents, friends, family or anyone who ever stepped foot in the church feel like being true to yourself is shameful (and it seems all too likely that he did), then we’re glad to share his hypocrisy with the world.
Thankfully, the story has gone viral and Makela is getting his just deserved. Yes, I feel sorry for his family, but it is precisely because of the "teachings" of denominations like the Lutheran Missouri Synod that gays too often feel compelled to marry women and live false lives. Here is how the main stream press is reporting on Makela's outing:
Officials at St. John's, 505 E. Carpenter in Midland, could not be immediately reached for comment. A phone number listed for Makela has been disconnected.Makela was the subject of a story on the gay news website Queerty that showed screenshots of messages Makela posted to the mobile app Grindr — a male location-based social network. Grindr uses a mobile device's location-based services to show other posters closest to the user, according to its website.Queerty reported that Makela confirmed the authenticity of the screenshots and declined comment.
Sadly, there are lots and lots of individuals like Makela on church staffs and within the Republican Party. Each and every one of them needs to be outed and their hypocrisy put on open display.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Yesterday was another busy day as we visited the Musee d'Orsay, Napoleon's tomb and the Eiffel Tower. All together, we walked about 8.2 miles. As I said, the walking is countering at least some of the food and wine consumption that we have indulged in. The Impressionist exhibit at the Musee d'Orsay was wonderful. Napoleon's tomb drives home what an amazing man Napoleon was and some of his vision - the Code Napoleon remains the basis for the laws of many parts of Europe today (and in the state of Louisiana in the USA).
|The Calife - where we had our dinner cruise on Monday|
|A view from the top of the Eiffel Tower - I did NOT go all the way to the top!|
|Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP|
With Jeb "Jebbie" Bush already suffering severe political turbulence over the failed policies of his idiot brother, now George W. Bush's CIA briefer has admitted on national television that Bush and Dick Cheney knowingly lied to the American public about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And Jebbie is already on record that he sees his lying brother as his "go to adviser" on Middle East policy. A piece in Mother Jones looks at the CIA briefer's admissions. Here are excerpts:
For a dozen years, the Bush-Cheney crowd have been trying to escape—or cover up—an essential fact of the W. years: President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and their lieutenants misled the American public about the WMD threat supposedly posed by Saddam Hussein in order to grease the way to the invasion of Iraq. For Bush, Cheney, and the rest, this endeavor is fundamental; it is necessary to protect the legitimacy of the Bush II presidency. Naturally, Karl Rove and other Bushies have quickly tried to douse the Bush-lied-us-into-war fire whenever such flames have appeared.
[N]ow there's a new witness who will make the Bush apologists' mission even more impossible: Michael Morell, a longtime CIA official who eventually became the agency's deputy director and acting director. During the preinvasion period, he served as Bush's intelligence briefer.
Appearing on MSNBC's Hardball on Tuesday night, Morell made it clear: The Bush-Cheney administration publicly misrepresented the intelligence related to Iraq's supposed WMD program and Saddam's alleged links to Al Qaeda.
Host Chris Matthews asked Morell about a statement Cheney made in 2003: "We know he [Saddam Hussein] has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." Here's the conversation that followed:
MATTHEWS: Was that true?
MORELL: We were saying—
MATTHEWS: Can you answer that question? Was that true?
MORELL: That's not true.
MATTHEWS: Well, why'd you let them get away with it?
MORELL: Look, my job Chris—
MATTHEWS: You're the briefer for the president on intelligence, you're the top person to go in and tell him what's going on. You see Cheney make this charge he's got a nuclear bomb and then they make subsequent charges he knew how to deliver it…and nobody raised their hand and said, "No that's not what we told him."
There's the indictment, issued by the intelligence officer who briefed Bush and Cheney: The Bush White House made a "false presentation" on "some aspects" of the case for war. "That's a big deal," Matthews exclaimed. Morell replied, "It's a big deal."
And there's more. Referring to the claims made by Bush, Cheney, and other administration officials that Saddam was in league with Al Qaeda, Morell noted, "What they were saying about the link between Iraq and Al Qaeda publicly was not what the intelligence community" had concluded.