"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

After too many days of news reports about two gay New York developers/hoteliers, Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, hosting a dinner party for Ted Cruz (which was definitively NOT a fundraiser), all I've got to say to the gay "activists" kicking up all the fuss is, "Is this all you've got to worry about right now?"

Sorry, boys and girls, but this is something rich people do: if someone important is coming to town, if you have the right connections, you throw a dinner party for them. If you're involved in politics, it's going to be a politician.

So by all means, give the likes of Erick Erickson more ammunition. That'll help the cause.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Marriage News Watch, April 27, 2015

We'll have oral argument before the Supreme Court this week. Ted Cruz has introduced two new bills in Congress to stop marriage, but they may backfire on him. And the National Organization for Marriage has lost yet another court case.

More later -- if I can find the links.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Image of the Week

I don't really have anything in mind, so I'm just going to dip into the files and see what looks good.

Here's one from Bernice. We don't have butterflies on the loose yet, but you can find them year 'round at the Nature Museum:

And from me, one looking through the fence at the Addison Street nature reserve. It doesn't look like this yet, but it will.

The Tony Perkins Award

Today, the proud recipient is Pastor/Governor Mike Huckabee (and maybe, one day, he'll figure out the difference), for this whopper:

If the courts rule that people have a civil right not only to be a homosexual but a civil right to have a homosexual marriage, then a homosexual couple coming to a pastor who believes in biblical marriage who says ‘I can’t perform that wedding’ will now be breaking the law. It’s not just saying, ‘I’m sorry you have a preference.’ No, you will be breaking the law subject to civil for sure and possible criminal penalties for violating the law. If you do practice biblical convictions and you carry them out and you do what you’ve been led by the spirit of God to do, your behavior will be criminal. God help us all.

Strangely enough, Pastor-Governor Huckabee seems to have forgotten the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause. I guess he thinks that only applies to bakers, florists, and photographers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Theocracy on the March

Looks like the gloves are off in the "Christian" right's war against everything not of the "Christian" right -- including the United States of America.

First up, the ever-reliable Family Research Council, with day something or other their prayer jihad against the Supreme Court. The give-away:

May [Justice Sotomayor] refrain now and for the rest of her tenure as a justice from supporting any law that forces people to do anything the Bible calls sin and that violates their religious conscience. . . . May God move Justice Sotomayor to vote for each state’s right to reflect the deeply held faith of a majority of its citizens, especially as expressed by their votes to uphold traditional marriage.

In other words, forget the Constitution and rule according to Tony Perkins' interpretation of Leviticus.

The military, with its history of "Onward, Christian Soliders," is a prime target:

[Mike]Huckabee told Iowa talk radio host Jan Mickelson that the Obama administration “orders its chaplains to put its Bibles away, not to pray in Jesus' name, not to counsel people on the issues of sexual morality.”

“When you have this attitude that is more about promoting gay marriage and gay rights in the military than it is about being able to protect religious liberty for those people of faith,” Huckabee said, “it’s going to be hard to find people that are truly devoted people of faith and Christian believers and Orthodox Jews and others.”

Interesting that only Orthodox Jews count as "people of faith." The rest of Huckabee's comment is pure bullshit.

Military chaplains are not there to proselytize. They are charged with counseling those of all faiths -- there's even a section in their manual on Wiccan practices, although there are apparently no Wiccan chaplains. (Here's a nice litle story about what happened to the first chaplain to try to change his affiliation to Wiccan.)

And of course, it's in the states that you're going to find the most rapid theocrats. Let's teach Christianity in the public schools!

"What you don’t know is that yesterday, the imam prayed. That one didn’t make the press. You see, when we’re not willing to defend our God in the public square, we shouldn’t be surprised when others try to replace Him. When we fail to teach it in the public school, the history of this nation, the God mentioned in our Declaration, the Supreme Being mentioned in the preamble of this constitution of the state. And we not only don’t teach it, but we suppress it and refuse to allow it to be taught.

We shouldn’t be surprised when others do differently and expect differently and think that religion is just about equality, because it’s not,. There’s only one true God. And the Bible’s quite clear about what happens when we refuse to tell the truth and we allow others to tell a wrong truth. That’s where we’re at. We’ve been neglectful, we’ve been very neglectful. So no one even spoke about the imam being there yesterday or the Muslims that were all around the center of the capitol, talking and evangelizing about their way of life.

Do they have that freedom? Absolutely. But the shame is that so little people know the truth about the heritage, the Christian heritage — I’m sorry, Mr. President, but we are, we were a Christian nation and we were founded on Christian values."

All straight out of the echo chamber in which she was raised. Do I really need to rebut this nonsense?

Fasten your seat belts -- it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Marriage News Watch, April 20, 2015

I've rounded up the weirdest Supreme Court briefs that argue in favor of preventing gays and lesbians from marrying. Some are full of mistakes, others have baffling arguments. And at least one is incredibly sexist, and signed by a member of Congress.

Desperately hoping something sticks to the wall.

Here's yet another one, from fifteen state attorneys general.

One thing that strikes me, reading through a number of these briefs, is that they all start, as they must, with the "Questions Presented," the two questions the Court said it wanted responses to. (Except for NOM's amicus brief -- NOM rewrote the questions.) Those two questions are:

1. Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?

2. Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

And then they lay out arguments based on reproductive biology, "vox populi", tradition, natural law, and a whole resale shop full of bizarre arguments (including one brief about Alfred Kinsey, for some reason), and nothing about the Fourteenth Amendment.

Question: Is it reading comprehension, or attention span?

Stupid Tweet du Jour

This is actually from yesterday: it's ├╝ber-blowhard Bryan Fischer's response to Marco Rubio's statement that he thinks gays are born that way.*

WTF is "anti-genetics credibility"?

*Rubio still thinks marriage should be reserved for straights. The whole argument is nonsense anyway, as far as civil rights are concerned -- although I'll be willing to reconsider when someone discovers the "Christian" gene.

So how's that for a bargain? Two idiots in one post.

Sidebar: In some comment thread or other -- I've forgotten where it was -- some nitpicking genius made the breathtaking announcement that sexual orientation is not genetic, it's epigenetic. News flash: for all practical purposes, it's the same thing.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Image of the Week: Oops, Did It Again!

Yesterday was so beautiful, I couldn't wait to get out, so of course I forgot to post an image.

I've been playing with edges, which right now means a series I'm calling "Skylines." Here's one:

It occurs to me that my images these days are based as much on color field painting as Garry Winogrand or Todd Papageorge.

Go figure.

Here's another, not in the "Skylines" series:

Hmm -- looks like the edges are invading the center.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hardball Diplomacy

Laurent Stefanini
I don't know if you've been following the adventures of France's new nominee for Ambassador to the Holy See, but it's been interesting:

Last January, the Council of Ministers appointed Laurent Stefanini, (photo above) a 55-year-old career foreign service officer who is openly gay, to be France's ambassador to the Vatican. That post, to the historic Villa Bonaparte Embassy in Rome, is considered a plum assignment, often given as a reward for years of service by members of France's diplomatic corps.

The Vatican was notified of the new ambassador in early January, and the ambassadorship has been vacant for more than a month now, but Stefanini has yet to be credentialed by the Vatican. Reports are Pope Francis himself personally rejected the posting, telling members of the Curia that he would not yield.

This, apparently, is the way things are done at the Vatican: no outright refusal to accept the Ambassador's credentials, just silence. In the good old days, after a certain period of non-response, the nomination would be withdrawn and a substitute named. But that was the good old days:

France has announced it will not rescind the nomination of Laurent Stefanini as its ambassador to the Vatican. Speculation is that French officials have determined to force Pope Francis to either accept Msr. Stefanini's appointment or openly reject it for all the world to see.

A government spokesman, Stephane LeFoll, told France24:

"France has chosen its ambassador to the Vatican. This choice was Stefanini and that remains the French proposal. ...We are awaiting the response from the Vatican."

I'm with France -- if the Pope is going to reject the nomination, let him do it openly.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out -- the article notes that "negotiations are underway."