Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Leaving Paris - Back to Reality

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

Friday Male Beauty

Paris Vacation - Day 6

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).

Boy Scouts' President Calls for End to Ban on Gay Leaders

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.
Progress continues despite the efforts of the Roman Catholic Church and other reactionary, backward looking religious denominations.

Anti-Gay Missouri Synod Pastor Who Condemned Gays Outed by Grindr Screenshots

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

Thursday Male Beauty

Pais Vacation - Day 4

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!
Today we plan to visit Sainte Chappel and then travel to Giverny in the Normandy countryside to see Monet's home and gardens.

CIA Briefer Admits Bush and Cheney Lied to American Public on WMD Intelligence

Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell is sworn in as he testifes before the House Intelligence Committee.

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.

Irish Priests Bucking Catholic Church on Gay Marriage

Ireland was once a bastion of Catholicism and exported priests around the world.  Now, the Church has lost much of its authority in the wake of the release of reports on the sexual abuse of minors by priests, the exposure of the horrors that took place at the Magdalene laundries, and in some ways worse of all, the cover ups and threats and intimidation of victims and their families by the Church hierarchy.  Mass attendance has plummeted and the Church finds itself a consistent opponent of modernity and some would argue, decency.  With Ireland poised to vote on same sex civil marriage tomorrow, the Church leaders find themselves with a new challenge: priest are opposing the Church's official anti-gay position.  Here are highlights from the Washington Post:

For the Rev. Pádraig Standún, a Catholic priest in western Ireland, voting “yes” is a matter of what’s right. To another Irish priest, the Rev. Iggy O’Donovan, it’s about creating an inclusive state.

To the Rev. Martin Dolan, Ireland’s upcoming referendum on same-sex marriage is deeply personal.

“I’m gay myself,” he announced to his Dublin congregation in January. It was a surprise ending to Dolan’s homily, in which he urged his congregation to vote “yes” in the referendum. But his parishioners took it in stride — they gave him a standing ovation, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

As the Friday referendum approaches, Ireland seems poised to become the first nation to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. The Catholic Church itself opposes the measure.

In at least a few cases, though, Irish Catholics may vote “yes” not in spite of their priests, but alongside them. Standún, O’Donovan and Dolan are among a group of priests who have bucked Church leadership to voice support for the amendment. Speaking to BuzzFeed, The Rev. Tony Flannery, founder of the reform-minded Irish Association of Catholic Priests, estimated that 25 percent of the country’s clergy would vote”yes.”

[O]ne of many signs in recent decades of the greatly diminished influence of the Catholic Church, which also unsuccessfully opposed a 1995 referendum in which Ireland legalized divorce.

[T]the Catholic Church is practically the only major Irish institution opposing the referendum. The government supports it, as do major media organizations, unions and business groups. Even elderly church-going ladies have said they’re voting “yes.”

“I’m just going to vote for gay people because I have nothing against them. I can’t understand why anybody is against it; they’ve done no harm to anyone,” 83-year-old Rita O’Connor told the Irish Times on her way out of Sunday morning Mass in Dublin this month. “I think it’s a stupid carry-on the way the Church is going on at the moment, ridiculous.”

Rev. Flannery, who was suspended by the Vatican in 2012 for contradicting Church orthodoxy on issues like homosexuality and the ordination of women, said even the Church’s muted opposition could be damaging.

“This referendum in particular is one that is very attractive to the younger generation. For the official Church to be taking such a consistent no line on it, they’re just further alienating a group that has largely left the Church anyway,” he told Reuters. “I would have thought that, that was foolish.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"19 Kids and Counting" Son Named in Underage Sex Probe

Duggar family freak show

Once again it seems we are seeing the hypocrisy of those who seek to meddle in the lives of LGBT individuals and limit our civil rights.  The infamous Duggar family of "19 Kids and Counting" fame - or infamy depending on one's perspective - has been been in the forefront of supporting anti-gay Republican candidates such as the always foul Ken Cuccinelli and has made robo calls urging citizens to vote against gay rights initiatives.  Now it seems that rather than meddling the sex lives of others, the Duggars should have been minding things within the own family.  As In Touch is reporting, Josh Duggar named in a police report as the “alleged offender” in an underage sexual abuse probe.  Here are article highlights (Note: (i) the police officer who failed to follow up initially has been arrested himself on child pornography charges, and (ii) Josh Duggar is a lobbyist for hate group Family Research Council):
Josh Duggar of the TLC hit reality show 19 Kids and Counting was named in a police report as the “alleged offender” in an underage sexual abuse probe, In Touch magazine is reporting exclusively.

The charge being pursued while Josh was a minor was sexual assault in the fourth degree, multiple sources who have seen the police report and are familiar with the case told In Touch. According to the report, Josh was brought into the Arkansas State Police by his father, Jim Bob, who said he caught him leaving a young girl’s bedroom and “learned something inappropriate happened,” one source said.

A bizarre turn of events prevented police and prosecutors from finishing their investigation and possibly prosecuting. The state trooper who originally took the report about Josh shortly before 2005 never followed up. That state trooper was later convicted on child pornography charges and is serving a 56-year prison sentence. . . . . the three-year statute of limitations had passed and it would not have been possible to pursue prosecution of Josh if the allegations warranted, so the investigation was discontinued. “A technicality prevented any further action,” a source familiar with the case told In Touch. “That’s been the biggest regret in all of this.” (The statute of limitations has since been lengthened.)

Rumors about Josh have swirled for years, but In Touch’s investigation has uncovered the secret he has been hiding. “I saw and read the report and it clearly stated that Jim Bob brought his son Josh into the Arkansas State Police and spoke to a state trooper about Josh’s involvement in alleged inappropriate touching with a minor,” one source told In Touch.

The first report was filed shortly before 2005. Josh and his wife, Anna, have three children and live in Washington, D.C., where he is a lobbyist for the Family Research Council.
Less popping out babies like rabbits and more parenting time focused on the gaggle of children these freaks have produced seeming would have been in order.

Wednesday Male Beauty

Hillary Clinton May Not Need to Change Her Image

On the Republican side of the political agenda, we see all of the announced and would be candidates trying to be all things to all of the craziest elements of the GOP base.  In the process, most are looking disingenuous if not like complete political whores.  And in the process, besides looking like they have ventured off to crazy land, most will likely not change the impressions of the primary voters that they seek to court.  Thus, the question arises as to whether or not Hillary Clinton should try to change her impression on most voters and/or whether or not such a change is even possible.  A piece in the New York Times suggests that perhaps Hillary needs to stay true to who she is and stress her strengths.  Those who hate her will not be swayed and, if see tries to hard to change her image, she may turn off those who might have supported her.  Here are excerpts:
Jeb Bush has his famous last name as a calling card, for better or worse. But Scott Walker’s name does not ring many bells outside Wisconsin.  Ted Cruz is not even well known in Texas.

Republican presidential hopefuls will spend millions of dollars trying to get voters to remember their names and something that sets them apart. But the one White House contender who needs no introduction faces a different sort of problem: Everybody knows Hillary Rodham Clinton.

She did not just co-star in a national soap opera during her husband’s eight-year presidency: She reinvented herself as a senator from the nation’s biggest media market, New York; reintroduced herself again, this time to the nation, as a presidential candidate in 2008; and then remade herself into the country’s chief diplomat.  She never left the stage.

Not since Richard M. Nixon mounted a comeback in 1968, historians and pollsters say, has a candidate entered a presidential contest with so low a bar for name recognition or so high a bar for changing voters’ opinions.

Their specific challenges are hardly similar: . . . . Mrs. Clinton merely needs to rekindle interest in her as a candidate after a short hiatus from politics and a four-year tenure as President Obama’s emissary on the world stage.

But the campaign playbooks of Nixon and Mrs. Clinton seem to share some pages.

Mrs. Clinton, too, has been mostly ducking reporters and instead holding round-table discussions with carefully chosen voters in early voting states. (Aides say the questions those voters ask are not screened.) She has used the sessions to share lesser-known vignettes from her past: her mother’s impoverished upbringing; her middle-class childhood in Chicago; her work in the 1970s as an advocate for children; her juggling work and child rearing as a young lawyer in Arkansas.

At one event in Las Vegas, she sat with high school students whose parents are in the country illegally. It was a canny move: Young people and Latinos are two demographic groups whose opinions Mrs. Clinton may still be able to shape, Democratic pollsters say.  There are not many others.

On the bright side for Mrs. Clinton, she enters the race with a devoted base of supporters, mostly women, who appear solidly in her corner. Women in big states like Ohio and Pennsylvania heavily favored Mrs. Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries, driving her defeat of Mr. Obama in those states.

Mrs. Clinton remains highly popular with African-Americans, college-educated women and single women, said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster.  Scott Keeter, director of survey research at the Pew Research Center, said Mrs. Clinton’s profile in the polls was like that of an incumbent facing re-election.

The slivers of swing voters Mrs. Clinton’s campaign hopes she can sway include married women in the suburbs. “They love her experience,” Ms. Lake said, “and they like the idea of having a woman president.”

The unknown “wild card” is whether Mrs. Clinton’s chance to make history as the first female president will motivate voters who may be less inclined to support her, Mr. Keeter said.

Trying too hard to change voters’ minds about a candidate’s character or life story can be a trap, as Mitt Romney discovered in 2012.

“Changing people’s deeply held views,” he added, “is the hardest thing to do in politics and in life.”

Paris Vacation - Day 3

We had yet another busy day yesterday and our touring included Notre Damae de Paris, the starkly modern Holocaust memorial, Sacre Coeur at the summit of Momartre, and points in between.  We also found some great clothing buys at Le BHV/Marais.  The weather could have been better - there were intermittent rain showers mixed with sun - but we did not let it lessen our fun.  Thankfully, the superb Metro system allows you to get around the city cheaply and efficiently.  For dinner, we visited a near by restaurant on Ile de la Cite recommended by a friend who rented our apartment in the past.  This is the first time we have rented an apartment while traveling overseas and we will definitely do so again whether traveling with friends or just the two of us.  Here are a few photos from yesterday:

The husband and I ended the day at Raidd, a gay bar in the Marais where I got to indulge my love of dancing and was photographed with one of the gorgeous wait staff:

Today, we are off to the Musee D'Orsay, Napoleon's Tomb, and the Eiffel Tower.

Rubio Fundraiser Former Agent of Dictator Who Endorses Gay Beheadings

While members of the Republican Party presidential clown car try to conduct a juggling act of convincing Christofascists that they are sufficiently extreme to get the vote of the "godly folks" yet "mainstream" enough to attract sane voters, Marco Rubio has again let one of his balls hit the floor and revealed just how extreme he and his supporters are in fact.   A recent fundraiser was hosted by  Jennifer Lukawski, who recently served as the registered foreign agent for a western African regime known for its human rights abuses, including repeated threats to behead gay people.  What is frightening is that people like Lukawski are the norm in today's GOP.  Think Progress looks at this latest stumble by Rubio.  Here are highlights:

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), who announced last month that he will seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, will hold a campaign fundraiser on Wednesday with an array of Washington lobbyists. One of the lobbyists co-hosting the event (and helping to raise money for Rubio) is BGR Group principal Jennifer Lukawski. She recently served as the registered foreign agent for a western African regime known for its human rights abuses, including repeated threats to behead gay people.

In April 2013, BGR Government Affairs LLC and the then-Secretary General of The Gambia signed a contract. In exchange for $45,000 a month (plus expenses), BGR agreed to “advocate and help build support for increased political and economic assistance from government and non-governmental organizations. . . .

The government for whom Lukawski and BGR sought U.S. foreign aid was and is headed by His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Abdul-Azziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh. Jammeh, who seized power in a 1994 military coup was condemned on Saturday by U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice for his recent warning to LGBT people, “If you do it [in the Gambia] I will slit your throat — if you are a man and want to marry another man in this country and we catch you, no one will ever set eyes on you again, and no white person can do anything about it.” 

In 2008, he warned gay and lesbian Gambians to leave the country before he could enforce policies “stricter than those in Iran,” and vowed to “cut off the head” of any who did not. In a 2013 speech to the United Nations — during BGR and Lukawski’s work for his government — he warned that those who “promote homosexuality want to put an end to human existence,” calling all “forms and manifestations” of homosexuality “very evil, anti-human, as well as anti-Allah.” 

Jammeh’s human rights violations extend beyond his treatment of LGBT people. In her statement, Rice also noted an “alarming deterioration of the broader human rights situation in The Gambia,” and expressed deep concern about “credible reports of torture, suspicious disappearances – including of two American citizens – and arbitrary detention at the government’s hands.” Amnesty International has documented an array of violations under Jammeh and a March 2009 New York Times article noted “documented disappearances, torture and imprisonment of dozens of journalists and political opponents.”

Lukawksi did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry about Jammeh and her work on his behalf. But her official biography notes that she previously worked for the anti-LGBT Heritage Foundation and as a top aide for former Rep. Robert Dornan (R-CA), a rabidly anti-LGBT flamethrower who once outed a fellow Republican Congressman on the House floor, accusing him of having a “revolving door on his closet.”

In a speech last week outlining his self-described “Rubio Doctrine,” Rubio claimed President Obama has “embraced regimes that systematically oppose every principle our nation has long championed.” But his campaign did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry asking whether someone who was on Jammeh’s payroll is an appropriate person to have fundraising on his behalf.

Jammeh, of course, fits right with the Christofascists of the GOP base and his use of disappearances, torture and imprisonment parallel the policies of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Jeb Bush Wants to Ban Gay Marriage to "Protect Poor Kids"

There are ample reasons to despise Jeb "Jebbie" Bush, but he keeps trying to expand the list by showing his willingness to prostitute himself to hate-filled Christofascists who, if they could have their way, would make conservative Christianity the official state religion of the United States.  Over the weekend, Bush prostituted himself to these folks yet again on Pat Robertson's foul Christian Broadcasting Network.  Towleroad looks at Jebbie's latest effort to convince the theocrats that he hates gays sufficiently to win their votes.  Here are excerpts:

Hoping to convince right-wing Christians he's sufficiently bigoted enough to earn their votes this election, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush doubled down on his opposition to LGBT rights in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody on Sunday.
"To imagine how we are going to succeed in our country unless we have committed family life, committed child-centered family system is hard to imagine," said Bush. "“So, irrespective of the Supreme Court ruling because they are going to decide whatever they decide, I don’t know what they are going to do, we need to be stalwart supporters of traditional marriage.”
He continued:

“It has to be — if we want to create a right to rise society, where people, particularly children born in poverty — if we want to have them to have a chance, it should be a core American value. We have to restore committed, loving family life with a mom and dad loving their children with their heart and soul.”

Bush also reiterated his support for Christian businesses owners' right to refuse service to gay couples:

“A big country, a tolerant country ought to be able to figure out the difference between discriminating someone because of their sexual orientation and not forcing someone to participate in a wedding that they find goes against their moral beliefs. We should be able to figure this out. This should not be that complicated gosh it is right now."

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty

How Dubya Is Winning 2016 for Hillary

As noted in prior posts, one of the strongest positives going for Hillary Clinton so far in the 2016 presidential contest is that she isn't an occupant of the GOP clown car.  Perhaps in someways the most helpful Republican to Hillary's cause is the one not running: George W. Bush.  Thanks to Jebbie Bush's idiotic remarks on Iraq and on other issues, voters have been reminded of the disasters wrought on the country by the last Republican occupant of the White House.  A column in The Daily Beast looks at the specter "Dubya" has cast over the 2016 contest and how it is helping Clinton.  Here are excerpts:
What a delightful week, watching Republicans not Democrats sink in the foreign policy quicksand. For most of my adult lifetime—come to think of it, all of it, and pretty much all of my entire lifetime—to the extent that foreign policy has mattered in presidential campaigns, it’s been brandished by Republicans to accuse the Democrats of being soft on whatever the supposed threat was at the time. To think that we might have a presidential campaign in which the Democrats are the ones playing foreign policy offense, forcing the Republicans to profess that they are not war-mongering psychopaths, would be a thing to behold—as well as a measure, eight long years later, of how much damage George W. Bush and his co-belligerents did to the Republican Party.

It surely caught Jeb Bush by total surprise, the shitstorm that kicked up after his first answer about invading Iraq. Yes, he’s rustier than a 1970s Plymouth; yes, he appears not to have been really quite listening to Megyn Kelly; and yes, it’s beginning to dawn on all of us, God help us, that Dubya may have been the smart one.

Now, the cowboys have to prove their solution to every problem isn’t to invade it or bomb it. This may have been true for the 1976 election, during the Vietnam hangover. . . . . . Today, though, this question of reflexive Iraq hawkery is enough of a no-no that some people think Bush might already be sunk and should just quit now. And this is why we saw Marco Rubio also reverse himself last week (although he would deny that) on the Iraq War.

[I]n a general-election context, the GOP nominee will probably have to tack back pretty quickly toward the anti-war position. This will give Hillary Clinton a great opportunity. For one thing, it’ll weaken the salience of the whole “she can’t defend the country cuz she’s a girl” line of attack, which will come, however subtly. It will allow Clinton to define the terms of what constitutes a sensible foreign policy, and the Republican man will likely have to agree with her.

Contrary to liberals’ deepest suspicions about her, she is not a neo-conservative; she is not going to have regime change in Iran on her mind, which any of the Republicans as president would, except for Rand Paul.

Poor Republicans! Crime is down; they can’t scream law and order. And now war is unpopular, so they can’t say the Democrats are soft on whomever. Their economic theories are increasingly discredited. I guess that leaves the old standby: race-baiting. But we may have reached a point where that doesn’t work anymore either. Should be an interesting race.

Irish Archbishop Diarmuid Martin Embraces Bigotry

One of the few bright spots in the Irish Roman Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal has been Archbishop Diarmuid Martin who has been willing to call out those who engaged in coverups and a reign of intimidation against sex abuse victims.  Sadly, on the issue of same sex marriage, Martin has embraced the Church's 13th century "natural law" and come out on the side of ignorance and bigotry.  Perhaps it was to be expected, but it is yet another example of the Church's death wish in the west and modern countries as it slides towards becoming a church largely based in Africa and other regions where ignorant, uneducated populations.  Independent Catholic News looks at Martin's embrace of ignorance and bigotry.  Meanwhile, the Church finds itself on a head on collision with the Irish government as reported by NBC News.  It is a welcomed development that the government no longer does the Church's bidding.  Here are highlights:
Ireland will become the first country in the world to vote directly on same-sex marriage Friday in a neck-and-neck referendum that has seen most of the Catholic country's government and the church on opposing sides.

The earliest opinion poll in the campaign indicated a 'Yes' vote of 76 percent, but the gap between the sides has narrowed. Polls published Sunday suggested support for the 'Yes' campaign at between 53 and 69 percent. However, Irish prime minister Enda Kenny last week declared the race too close to call. 

Kenny, who is advocating a 'Yes' vote, said Ireland "had gone on a journey from decriminalization of homosexuality [in 1993] … and now a step towards civil marriage." 

In an interview with TV3, he asked: "Are the Irish people going to deny their own kith and kin the right to have a marriage contracted in civil law if that's what they wish to do?" 

Leading the charge for a 'No' vote are the Catholic Church and associated think tanks, as well as groups such as Catholic Comment. A member of that group, Petra Conroy, told NBC News that the referendum is about "the unique mother, father and child relationship," adding: "I think we can have equality and leave marriage as it is."

U2 singer Bono has endorsed a 'Yes' vote, telling the Irish Independent that he believes the vote should not be seen as a religious issue.  "Think about it — trying to co-opt the word 'marriage' is like trying to co-opt the word 'love.' You can't own it," he said. "Marriage is now an idea that transcends religion. It is owned by the people. They can decide. It is not a religious institution. As far as I know, Jesus wasn't a married man and neither are most priests [who are] talking about it."

Dubliner and 'Yes' voter Gordon Hickey believes the country's constitution doesn't reflect modern Ireland and said he was "extremely worried" about the outcome of the referendum. 

"The 'No' campaign claim it's about protecting children," he told NBC News. "Well I am someone's child. What about my rights? I want to be recognized as equal; gay people already feel like second-class citizens; having to beg our country to recognize us as equal just makes us feel worse."

The GOP is Literally Dying Off

Via Getty images
For those who value logic, reason and being in touch with objective reality, Politico Magazine has an article that should give hope for the future.  The topic of the article?  The fact that the Republican Party base is literally dying off.  Despite changing demographics, changing attitudes on gay marriage, climate change, and a host of other issues, the GOP has bet the farm so to speak on prostituting itself to aging whites, many of whom are ignorance embracing Christofascists.  A demographic that is literally dying off.  In terms of a long term political strategy, the GOP seems to me to have a death wish.   Here are article excerpts:
It turns out that one of the Grand Old Party’s biggest—and least discussed—challenges going into 2016 is lying in plain sight, written right into the party’s own nickname. The Republican Party voter is old—and getting older, and as the adage goes, there are two certainties in life: Death and taxes. Right now, both are enemies of the GOP and they might want to worry more about the former than the latter.

There’s been much written about how millennials are becoming a reliable voting bloc for Democrats, but there’s been much less attention paid to one of the biggest get-out-the-vote challenges for the Republican Party heading into the next presidential election: Hundreds of thousands of their traditional core supporters won’t be able to turn out to vote at all.

The party’s core is dying off by the day.

To make matters worse, the GOP is attracting fewer first-time voters. Unless the party is able to make inroads with new voters, or discover a fountain of youth, the GOP’s slow demographic slide will continue election to election. Actuarial tables make that part clear, but just how much of a problem for the GOP is this?

[Q]uick back-of-the-napkin math shows that the trend could have a real effect in certain states, and make a battleground states like Florida and Ohio even harder for the Republican Party to capture.
[O]f the 61 million who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, about 2.75 million will be dead by the 2016 election. President Barack Obama’s voters, of course, will have died too—about 2.3 million of the 66 million who voted for the president won’t make it to 2016 either. That leaves a big gap in between, a difference of roughly 453,000 in favor of the Democrats.

[W]hat if Republicans aren’t able to win over a larger share of the youth vote? In 2012, there were about 13 million in the 15-to-17 year-old demo who will be eligible to vote in 2016. The previous few presidential election cycles indicate that about 45 percent of these youngsters will actually vote, meaning that there will about 6 million new voters total. Exit polling indicates that age bracket has split about 65-35 in favor of the Dems in the past two elections. If that split holds true in 2016, Democrats will have picked up a two million vote advantage among first-time voters. These numbers combined with the voter death data puts Republicans at an almost 2.5 million voter disadvantage going into 2016.

[P]olitical demographers are seeing this election as a watershed. Millennials now have higher numbers than Baby Boomers, and the mortality rates will expand that difference in coming elections. The very conservative Silent Generation, born between 1925 and 1942, is declining at a rapid pace. The mortality rate for 70-to-74 year-olds is 6,058.4 per 100,000 each year, compared to 110.1 for the 30-to-34 age group. With each death, a little political power passes from one generation to the next.

[T]here is one certainty: Dead people don’t vote, at least not as much as they did in Chicago in 1960. When the political operatives start dissecting and predicting how the electorate is going to show in 2016, they should take into account not only the who and why of the ones that will vote, but also the ones who aren’t showing up this time around because they’ve kicked the bucket.

No carefully-crafted campaign message can change that.

Monday, May 18, 2015

2015 Paris Vacation - Day 3

May 17, 2015 (cont): Last night, the husband and I and our friend Rob did check out a few of the gay clubs in the Marais neighborhood.  Being a Sunday night, things were not that busy from what we saw.  We stopped at Raidd where things were slow, although later this week we plan on checking it out again, most likely on Thursday.  The place that was really hopping was Freedj, a dance club.  The music was great and the crowd was a nice mix of younger, older and some straight couples.  The scene below is of the lower level dance floor (I want to visit again later in the week).

May 18, 2015:
One wing of the Louvre
Today was another amazing but exhausting day that included going to the Louvre, walking the Galleries Lafayette, hitting shops along the way, and then this evening doing a dinner cruise on the Calife dinner cruise highly recommended by a friend who visited Paris last September.  The Louvre is overwhelming (to see the entire collection would takes days or even a week), but we hit high points that included the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, Napoleon's apartments and sculptures by Michelangelo.  Here are some random photos:

Michelangelo - the captive/dying slave
Winged Victory
Mona Lisa
Our best shopping was along the Avenue de Opera.  Galleries Lafayette is amazing, but pricey.  Nonetheless, it was worth the visit just to see the store's domed atrium:
Galleries Lafayette

 The absolute highlight of the day was the dinner cruise.  The food was wonderful (our Auntie Mame like friend treated all of us), the wait staff attentive - and gorgeous - and the views from the riverboat striking:

Looking toward our apartment
Aboard the Calife
The night's most spectacular view

Now?  We are all exhausted and satiated and headed to our respective bedrooms!  So far, this trip has truly impressed me with the French sense of style, the friendliness of the people, the handsomeness of many of the men, and the fact that America could learn a lot from this country.