Saturday, January 03, 2009

Israel Invades Gaza

I often do not understand the reasoning behind Israel's actions - not at least if the leadership has any care about the media and propaganda advantage that is being given to the Palestinians. Coming out of a show on 42nd Street today here in New York City, the boyfriend and I found ourselves about to be enveloped in an anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian demonstration, complete with signs reading "Stop the Gaza Holocaust" and similar things. The protesters included Islamic looking women and children and all were decrying the deaths of innocent civilians caused by the Israeli actions. I truly do not favor one side or the other in the conflict. Instead, I just wish all the violence and killing being done by both sides would end. When I see photos of dead children, I at times think right is on the side of neither of the opposing factions. Here are a few highlights from the New York Times:
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In unleashing a series of punishing attacks in Gaza last week, Israel clearly aimed to hand Hamas a defeat from which it could not recover anytime soon. The campaign may succeed, experts here and in Israel say, but it could also backfire. Either way, the political consequences could reverberate throughout the Middle East, all the way to Iran, and help determine the ability of President-elect Barack Obama to pursue his stated goals of calming the Middle East through diplomacy.
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While Israeli leadership was not stating wider goals, there was clearly hope in the country — as tanks and troops massed late in the week — that the assault in Gaza would do more than just stop the rocket fire with which Hamas had broken a cease-fire last month. The larger hope was that subduing Hamas would delegitimize the group’s leadership in the eyes of the
Palestinian people and eliminate its power to prevent a two-state solution.
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In a highly optimistic scenario for Israel and the United States, a clear victory for Israel would make it easier for Egypt, Jordan and countries farther afield to declare common cause against Islamic militancy and its main sponsor in the region, Iran. A two-state treaty could follow, and then perhaps peace between Israel and Syria, leaving Iran isolated behind the buffer of a newly democratic and peaceful, if not particularly friendly, Iraq.
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But Israel’s attacks also could fail outright, and history suggests that as the more likely scenario, Middle East experts across the political spectrum said. The strikes — and the Arab anger over scenes of death and destruction — have highlighted divisions in the Middle East that can prevent Arab nations from working with Israel.

More Saturday Male Beauty

Issues Pose a Challenge for Obama and Pope

The Washington Post has a story today about the differences in views/beliefs between Barack Obama's and Nazi Pope, Benedict XVI. Personally, I believe that Obama, if need be, should tell the Pope to stop attempting to meddle in civil law matters in the USA. As for the U.S. Bishops, perhaps a proposal to amend the federal racketeering laws by Obama so that it could be more broadly applied to bishops and cardinals who covered up the sexual abuse of children might be a nice response. Basically a message to shut up or be prosecuted and have even more disgusting Church secrets come out. I am so tired of people giving deference to those - including Benedict XVI - who had a hand in the sex abuse scandal cover up. Cardinals Eagan of New York and Mahoney of Los Angeles are two other names that spring to mind. The Church hierarchy consists of frauds and in some cases those who deserve to be criminally prosecuted. Here are some highlights from the Post story:
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VATICAN CITY -- In the 24 years since the United States and the Holy See established full diplomatic ties, relations have never been closer or warmer than during the administration of President Bush.
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The relationship between the Vatican and the White House is bound to change this month with the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, whose support for abortion rights and embryonic stem-cell research has drawn denunciations from a number of church leaders.
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From the U.S. hierarchy, however, congratulations have been mixed with criticism. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the church should "rejoice" in the election of the country's first African American president, but insisted that it would confront Obama over abortion and stem-cell research.
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Of most urgent concern to the church is clearly the Freedom of Choice Act, a proposed bill that would overturn a host of restrictions on abortion. Critics say the proposal would eliminate so-called conscience exemptions for publicly funded health-care facilities, thus forcing Catholic hospitals to provide abortions or shut their doors.
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Another potential irritant in U.S.-Vatican relations emerged in late November when a federal appeals court ruled that a lawsuit over alleged sex abuse by Catholic priests could proceed against the Holy See, despite its sovereign-state status.
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In spite of such problems, the Vatican will seek to work closely with the new administration in a number of areas, Franco said. Foremost on its agenda is the fate of Christian minorities in the Middle East -- particularly in Iraq, where their status has grown increasingly precarious during the Bush administration.

Pat Robertson Sees Socialism and Economic Rebound Under Obama

Constant local embarrassment to the non-Kool-Aid drinking set and major media narcissist Pat Robertson is spouting off his annual predictions and in terms of the economy, I hope he's correct. Just about anything will be an improvement over the less than wonderful economy brought to us by the Chimperator and the GOP. In terms of socialism, Robertson backed the Chimperator and look at the growth of government under that nit wit's watch. Candidly, the guy is increasingly out of touch with reality, but he always spouts off brings unwanted attention to the fact that he resides in Virginia Beach. Here are some highlights from the Virginian Pilot:
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Citing information he says is from God, Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson said Friday that America is headed for veritable socialism as well as an economic rebound under President-elect Barack Obama in 2009. "What the Lord was saying, the people are willing to accept socialism to alleviate their pain," Robertson said on a broadcast of "The 700 Club." He hosts the program, which is aired from the Christian Broadcasting Network studios in Virginia Beach.
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Robertson said the economy, particularly the stock market, could start rebounding by the second quarter. . . . Robertson said on New Year's Day that "nothing will stand in the way of a plan by Obama to restructure the economy in the same fashion as the New Deal in the '30s," according to videotaped comments aired on Friday's show.
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The New Deal consisted of economic initiatives, such as publicly funded job programs, that Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt promoted during the Great Depression. Robertson said Friday that with a New Deal-style initiative, "you're federalizing many of the things you're doing. And it'll be the largest transfer of power to Washington since the '30s, but people are just willing to accept it because the pain has been so bad."

Saturday Male Beauty

Latest Revenue Figures for Anti-Gay Industry

One of the big lies - there are so many it's hard to keep track at times - routinely peddled by the Christianist organizations is that the "militant homosexual activists" are better funded than the poor, pathetic outgunned Christianist organizations. It's a scam, of course, utilized to scare little old ladies and severe self-hating closet cases to send in their checks or make their online donations so that James Dobson and those like him can live high on the hog. The truth is that all of the gay rights organizations combined operate on a shoe string budget compared to the combined funding of the Christianist organizations which is truly massive. Tips-Q has an interesting report that shows just how big this Christianist lie is based on the latest reports compiled from IRS filings. Here are a few highlights on some of the most homophobic organizations:
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Focus on the Family - 2007 revenues - $147,182,000.
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Coral Ridge Ministries - 2004 revenues - $39,688,000.
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Alliance Defense Fund - 2007 revenues - $31,674,000.
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American Family Association - 2007 revenues - $22,547,000.
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Family Research Council, Inc. - 2007 revenues - $12,057,000.
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Concerned Women for America - 2007 revenues - $10,640,000.
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Traditional Values Coalition - 2007 revenues - $8,547,000.
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Suffice it to say, I suspect you get the real picture and will have an appreciation as to how much money the anti-gay industry takes in by demonizing us and trying to depict us as less than fully human. It's disgusting to say the least.

Portland Installs Openly Gay Mayor

In many ways Portland, Oregon is a leader in progressive government. Now Portland can boast an openly gay mayor and what's amazing, his sexual orientation was never brought up in the campaign. What a concept: judge people on their ability and intelligence rather than who they love and sleep with. It's not a concept I expect to see widely prevalent in Virginia any time soon. Being here in New York City is in many ways has made me reflect on just how socially backwards Tidewater Virginia remains be it interms of gay acceptance of interracial couples. Here are some story highlights from the Associated Press:
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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland became the nation's largest city with an openly gay mayor Thursday as a longtime City Hall insider took the oath of office. Sam Adams, 45, was sworn into office at 12:01 a.m. New Year's Day at City Hall during a ceremony attended by a crowd of about 40 that included his mother and his partner. Adams won the job seven months ago in a primary race by capturing 58 percent of the vote and therefore negating the need for a runoff election.
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None of Adams' opponents raised his sexuality in the race. Neither did he. "This is a testament to how fair-minded Portlanders are that it wasn't an issue," Adams said. "I spend my time on the basic issues of life. A part of that includes equal rights, but that's not even close to a majority of the time."
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The new mayor said he and other city officials have so far requested $880 million in federal funds for dozens of "shovel-ready" projects to improve parks, roads and the water system in Portland, which has a population of about 575,000.
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In two weeks, the city plans to announce a job stimulus package, he said, though he declined to give details. "What I've found is in each of those recessions is government falls prey to the national frailty," he said. "What's also frustrating is it's happening at the very time when government is needed most."

Friday, January 02, 2009

More Friday Male Beauty

New York City - First Full Day

Last night was fun and the boyfriend and I went dancing at the Monster just a short walk down Christopher Street from the place we are staying. After a lazy morning, we had lunch at a deli near Times Square and then spent the afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We spent the bulk of our time in the newly reopened Greek and Roman exhibition and then a lesser amount of time in the Egyptian exhibition and European painters area. As a history major, I have taken courses and read lots of books on the Greco-Roman and Hellenistic periods. The exhibition was amazing and thoroughly enjoyable.
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This evening, we stopped back by the Monster for a cocktail with another couple from Hampton Roads before going to Cowgirls - a lesbian bar/restaurant - for a light dinner. Once the boyfriend wakes up from his "disco nap" we will head out to a club and enjoy New York's lively gay night life. Tomorrow I expect we will do a Broadway show and more sightseeing. No doubt the ex-wife will be peeved that I am having a nice time - AND that the b/f is paying for everything so she cannot claim that I've spent a dime that should have gone to her. While I am here, I am also working on some legal documents so that she can't claim I should have worked all day today.

Friday Male Beauty

Catholic Church Has Retrogressed Since Vatican II

A short Op-Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal responding to a book review concerning the impact of Vatican II pretty scary data on what has happened to the Roman Catholic Church in the 40+ years since Vatican II. However, I believe that what has happened in terms of the decline in the number of priests and nuns has less to do with the impact of Vatican II that with the changes in the larger context of western society, including an increased refusal of the laity to just blindly follow the dictates of the senile, reactionary leadership of the Vatican. As much as Benedict XVI and his compatriots want to turn back to a 13th century world view and to cling to a "natural law" that science is showing to be false, rank and file Catholics in educated western societies are simply no longer buying the bullshit peddled by the Vatican. Only in the most uneducated and backward areas of the world is Church membership growing significantly. I believe that too will change as those Catholics attain higher levels of education and knowledge. Here are a few highlights:
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Kenneth C. Jones compiled an "Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II," published in 2003. Among his findings: While the number of priests in the U.S. more than doubled to 58,000 between 1930 and 1965, that number has fallen to 45,000, and by 2020 there will be only 31,000. In 1965, there were 180,000 Catholic nuns, but by 2002 that number had fallen to 75,000; Catholic marriages have fallen in number by one third since 1965, while the annual number of annulments rose from 338 in 1968 to 50,000 in 2002. (Regarding the annulment process, it is said that, for better or worse, psychological factors have been taken into consideration much more so post-Vatican II.) And, of course, we have the clergy sdecline in priests and nuns, decline in Catholic marriagesex abuse scandal that culminated in 2002 and continues to this day.
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Such statistics and events are sobering for any assenting Catholic. The cause? I submit that the zeitgeist and the activities of a number of morally corrupt churchmen are responsible for the problems in the Catholic Church since Vatican II and prior to the council, for that matter.

Adele Stan: Reflections on Rick Warren

Among the bloggers I met at the LGBT Blogger Summit in early December, 2008, was Adele Stan who among other things writes fro the Huffington Post. Like many of us, Adele has mixed emotions about Barack Obama's selection of anti-gay bigot Rick Warren to give the inaugural invocation. Adele's latest column at Huffington Post looks at the Warren issue and her thoughts on the same. I share many of her feelings of betrayal and hope that somehow Warren either is uninvited or forced to recant from some of his hateful beliefs. If neither happens, unless and until Obama makes a MAJOR move in support of LGBT rights, I will have lost all belief in the man - something I have shared directly with his campaign. Here are some highlights from Adele's column:
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Nearly two weeks after Barack Obama stunned his most passionate supporters by announcing his choice of Rev. Rick Warren to make the invocation at Obama's inauguration, you'd expect the thing to have blown over. That it has not says as much about the American people as does our election of Barack Obama, of which we like to think as the expression of the better angels of our nature.
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Count me among those who felt stung, yea, smitten, by the announcement. As you've
no doubt heard countless times by now, Warren didn't simply support Proposition 8, the ballot measure that overturned same-sex marriage in California -- he grouped same-sex unions in a category of unacceptable institutions that includes polygamy and marriage between an adult and a child. Perhaps you heard, as well, that Warren compares abortion to the Holocaust, and describes pro-choice advocates as "Holocaust deniers." For many of us who supported Obama vociferously during the campaign, this all feels a bit personal.
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"I don't even want to go to this inauguration now," I told one friend. Trust me, reader, that's a sentiment of extreme deflation, so excited have I been, so looking forward to a transcendent moment on the Mall with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, straining for a glimpse at a Jumbotron amid children and grandmas as they jockey for position. And still a bitter taste laces my tongue when I imagine Warren at the microphone, calling for the blessing of a God he believes sanctions bigotry against queer folk, a God who would deny a woman her bodily integrity, a God who demands that Jews and other non-Christians burn in Hell. Not my God, thank God.
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In fact, the predictable back-and-forth between left and right around this issue leads me in moments when my worser angels -- you know, the less-than-angelic angels -- of my nature have my ear to wonder whether or not we just got Souljahed out. Would Obama step on our tails to make us squeal so that he might look "normal" to the pro-America parts of the country?
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Over the days since Obama announced the honor he conferred on Rick Warren, I have engaged at least a dozen friends and colleagues in discussions where I vent my fury, listen carefully, vent some more -- all in the hope of ultimately letting go. After all, like just about everybody, I really want this Obama thing to work.
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Guardian America editor Michael Tomasky warily suggests an outside chance that Warren's stance might change through the experience of calling the blessing on the Obama presidency:
Maybe having given this "Holocaust denier" [Obama] his high-profile blessing will require over time that Warren moderate his views and his public posture, and maybe that would lead some portion of his flock to do the same. Jim Toevs of the Seattle Gay News
suggests that Warren's increased contact, due to the controversy, with gay people may even transform him into a gay ally.
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Personally, I do not see Warren ever becoming a gay ally. On the other hand, all the media attention may either (1) harm his image and lessen his influence or (2) cause him to moderate some of the foul poison that he currently promotes.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

More Thursday Male Beauty

Disgusting Extravagance

With millions of families facing foreclosure and the loss of their homes it is beyond sick that the very wealthy - those who have been the main beneficiaries of the Chimperator's policies - continue to spend money on what one might consider to be obscene levels. A case in point is this year's International Debutante Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria this past Monday night. People are facing homelessness and millions around the world ate going hungry and these folks squander money on frivolity. I am not against wealth and I am not against gorgeous affairs, but at some point some sense of propriety under the financial circumstances gripping the country would not be unwelcome. Not surprisingly, the state with the most debutantes was Texas, home state of the Chimperator. These folk are the modern day successors to Marie Antoinette's alleged comment "let them eat cake." Here are some highlights from the New York Times:
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You had to look hard amid the four-foot floral sculptures and the Vera Wang originals to see signs of the economy’s collapse at the International Debutante Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria on Monday night.
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Champagne flowed. Men in tails waltzed and fox-trotted with debutantes in long white gowns to music by the 12-piece Lester Lanin Orchestra, a fixture at the ball almost since its inception in 1954. And shortly before midnight, the young debutantes, each flanked by a civilian and military escort, ascended the stage for a deep curtsy.
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The director of the ball, Margaret Hedberg, brushed off the $14,000 cost of a table — “Watches cost more,” she said — although she acknowledged that perhaps the deepening recession accounted for the smaller crowd. “People are not going overboard,” said Mrs. Hedberg, who came out in 1963 and is the niece of the ball’s founder, Beatrice Dinsmore Joyce. “They’re not taking three or four tables and inviting everybody’s friends’ friends. It’s a little more conservative that way.”
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Steeped in tradition, the ball is one of the most exclusive debutante galas in New York and around the country, and this year it included young women from 11 states and from England, France, Germany, Greece and Hong Kong. The biggest contingent was from Texas, 11 women who had perfected their signature curtsy, the “Texas dip,” which drew gusts of applause from the crowd.
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And if all those little edible gold leaves adorning the chocolate boxes that contained plump raspberries for dessert seemed a little excessive, Mrs. Hedberg found a sunny side in the spillover effects. “There are a lot of people who make those dresses and are happy that these gals bought them,” she said. “There are a lot of waiters working tonight, so it’s doing something for the economy.

Sex Abuse Lawsuit Alleges Racketeering by Catholic Diocese

Increasingly, it is becoming common knowledge that a Vatican directive ordered Catholic dioceses and members of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy to deliberately cover up the sexual abuse of minors and to do everything possible to keep sexual predator priests from being arrested and "tarnishing" the Church's reputation. Fortunately, some lawsuits are now being filed against Catholic dioceses under the federal racketeering statutes which focus on conspiracies aimed at promoting or protecting criminal activities. Once such case has been filed in Connecticut. Here are some highlights on the case from Newsday:
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A Connecticut woman has filed a racketeering lawsuit accusing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich of conspiring to cover up sexual abuse of children by priests. The woman is known only as Jane Doe in the lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court in Hartford. She alleges she was sexually abused by the late Rev. Thomas W. Shea in 1976 when she was 13 and he was assigned to St. Joseph's Church in New London. The lawsuit claims the alleged cover-up conspiracy involved diocese officials transferring Shea and several other priests to other parishes numerous times after they were accused of sexual abuse.
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The woman's lawyer, Robert Reardon, said . . . "We tried to demonstrate through a number of different instances, and through a course of certain conduct, how this conspiracy went," Reardon said. "Whenever there was a complaint, the priest would be transferred."
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Abuse complaints were first filed against Shea in the 1950s and he was transferred numerous times after being accused until he was placed on leave in 1983, according to the lawsuit and published reports. The lawsuit says the diocese and current and former diocese officials should be held accountable under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. It accuses the defendants of concealing priests' criminal conduct, obstructing justice, bribing victims to keep criminal conduct secret and other crimes. Racketeering carries up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000 per count.
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The diocese and its insurance company have paid nearly $5 million to alleged victims of sexual abuse, according to the church.
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Regardless of whether or not the lawsuit succeeds, it provides yet further examples of the moral bankruptcy of the Church hierarchy which time and time again sold out the best interests of children and minors in order to protect the image of the Church. And what does Benedict XVI do in response? Nothing other than insincere apologies.

New York City

UPDATED January 3, 2009: We went to the Stonewall on Saturday for a drink and found it to be a very cozy place with great paneling and numerous framed photos from the Stonewall riots. It was definitely interesting to be in a place that has such an important place in the saga of the fight for gay rights and legal equality.
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We arrived safely in New York City and stopped by the Monster for a cocktail before dinner at a wonderful dinner at a Spanish restaurant named Seville. The condo that we are staying at is 1/2 block from the Stonewall Inn (pictured above) and hopefully we will visit it while we are in town. Amazingly, at the Monster we ran into a couple that the b/f knows from the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. I'm not sure what we will do later, but I suspect we will check out a few gay clubs and perhaps get some dancing in.
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I will try to do some posts while we are here. Hopefully, I will be able to catch up with some other participants of the LGBT blogger summit who live here in New York while we are in town. Overall, it's exciting to be here with the b/f and to experience a far different side of NYC than I have experienced in the past while married and in the closet

Thursday Male Beauty

Happy New Year!!


I wish all my readers a Happy New Year and hope that 2009 brings all of you happiness and success in your endeavors. My New Year's Eve was a nice one and involved a group (close to 35 of us) of us - mostly gay couples, some straight couples, and a couple single folks going out to an Italian restaurant for dinner - the b/f treated me as usual so the ex-wife who follows this blog can't claim I'm spending money that I should be otherwise sending to her - and then we came back to the boyfriend's house for wine, dessert, and champagne at Midnight. As usual, the crowd was an interesting mix and included a military wife whose husband is currently in Afghanistan and her aunt from Louisiana, our dear friend who owns the Nags Head beach house, a gay couple visiting from Boston, and the "usual suspects" from the Hampton gayborhood if you will.

Today I receive the rest of my Christmas gift from the boyfriend - we are going to New York City and will stay at the condo owned by one of his friends in the West Village and return Sunday evening to Hampton. The last two weeks at work have been nuts - especially this week which saw a flurry of year end activities, including closing a moderate size commercial transaction on property located in a rural location southwest of Richmond. With the court houses closed everyday except Monday and Tuesday, the logistics were insane, but we got the job done. A few days away with a change of scenery to vegetate will be much appreciated. And again, for the benefit of the ex-wife, he is covering all costs. He is such a treasure. :) 2008 sucked in many ways for me, but our finding each other more than compensates for the bad experiences. I love him very much.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wednesday Male Beauty

Say No to Government Funding of Anti-Gay Organizations

As yet another example of how the principally the Republican Party can no longer separate itself from Christianist nutcase causes and as a consequence should be considered first and foremost as a religious party, in Minnesosota GOP Rep. Jim Ramstad (and a misguided Dem. Sen. Amy Klobuchar) is working to land $500,000 in funding for Minnesota Teen Challenge (MNTC), an anti-gay faith-based drug treatment program. One of the requirements of the program is that participants swear off homosexuality. Now, all too typically, the religious organization is unhappy that it is finding itself and it's religious dogma under scrutiny and instead thinks it should have a blank check of taxpayer derived monies. Fortunately, that isn't going to happen as evidenced by this editorial piece in the Minnesota Independent. Here are some highlights:
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If you accept taxpayer money, you have to accept that you’re going to receive public scrutiny. That simple point seems to be eluding Minnesota Teen Challenge (MNTC), the faith-based drug treatment program which secured a federal earmark in early 2008 arranged by Rep. Jim Ramstad and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, for its “Know the Truth” program which aims to prevent drug use. Operating close to the border of church and state, the group’s members are unrealistic if they think their work is not going to get attention.
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The point of my article was not to suggest that MNTC was not successful or beneficial, as Scherber implies. Rather it was to point out the overtly religious nature of the organization and that the program has historically been controversial. In the interest of brevity, I left some examples out. For instance, MNTC’s stance on Halloween verges on the comical (”Halloween is a day set up totally for Satan … The more people who go out dressed as demons, ghosts, witches and goblins, the more glory Satan receives”). Scherber’s claim that the Holy Spirit told an MNTC bus driver to avoid the 35-W bridge on the day of its collapse in August 2007 is touching but, let us say, unverified.
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I think MNTC has been very effective for the clients it serves. However, I don’t think it’s appropriate for judges, prosecutors or public defenders to suggest the program as an alternative to jail. (Szalavitz, by the way, vehemently disagrees with MNTC’s claims about its success rate).
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One thing is clear. The pressure to keep a positive public image is important to MNTC at this time. As the group’s Web site acknowledges, MNTC invested money in Fidelis Foundation, an institution created by Christian philanthropist Tom Petters, who is now under investigation for organizing a Ponzi scheme and defrauding investors such as the Fidelis Foundation. MNTC lost a lot of money and Klobuchar’s proposed earmark will certainly help ease the burden a little. What else could explain sending form letters to every media outlet that runs an article critical of the organization?
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As I have argued repeatedly, a group's freedom of religion stops the moment it starts accepting public, taxpayer derived funds. If the organization cannot operate in a manner that does not trample on the religious freedom of others or which does not involve indoctrination of a set religious view, then the solution is simple: do not accept taxpayer derived funds. It's that simple.

The Horrific Bush Legacy

Even a casual reader of this blog will soon realize that I despise the Chimperator who I believe is the worst president EVER in the history of the United States of America. He is exhibit #1 as to why an intellectually lazy, ignorant in terms of other cultures, and blindly religious fundamentalist individual should NEVER again hold the office of President. The Bush legacy is one of doing much damage to the nation domestically and internationally and I believe history will not be kind to either him or Emperor Palpatine Cheney. He at home the Bush/Cheney regime has severely damaged the economy and undermining civil liberties for U.S. citizens. Internationally, he has made torture a U.S. policy and acted as a war criminal. Bob Herbert in the New York Times has an overview of the Bush/Cheney disaster that I agree with fully. Here are some highlights:
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Does anyone know where George W. Bush is? . . . We’re still at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel is thrashing the Palestinians in Gaza. And the U.S. economy is about as vibrant as the 0-16 Detroit Lions. But hardly a peep have we heard from George, the 43rd.
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When Mr. Bush officially takes his leave in three weeks (in reality, he checked out long ago), most Americans will be content to sigh good riddance. I disagree. I don’t think he should be allowed to slip quietly out of town. There should be a great hue and cry — a loud, collective angry howl, demonstrations with signs and bullhorns and fiery speeches — over the damage he’s done to this country.
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This is the man who gave us the war in Iraq and Guant├ínamo and torture and rendition; who turned the Clinton economy and the budget surplus into fool’s gold; who dithered while New Orleans drowned; who trampled our civil liberties at home and ruined our reputation abroad; who let Dick Cheney run hog wild and thought Brownie was doing a heckuva job.
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The Bush administration specialized in deceit. How else could you get the public (and a feckless Congress) to go along with an invasion of Iraq as an absolutely essential response to the Sept. 11 attacks, when Iraq had had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 attacks?
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He then set the blaze that has continued to rage for nearly six years, consuming more than 4,000 American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. (A car bomb over the weekend killed two dozen more Iraqis, many of them religious pilgrims.) The financial cost to the U.S. will eventually reach $3 trillion or more, according to the Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz.
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And then there’s the Bush economy, another disaster, a trapdoor through which middle-class Americans can plunge toward the bracing experiences normally reserved for the poor and the destitute.
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The president would give the wealthy and the powerful virtually everything they wanted. He would throw sand into the regulatory apparatus and help foster the most extreme income disparities since the years leading up to the Great Depression. Once again he was lighting a fire. This time the flames would engulf the economy and, as with Iraq, bring catastrophe.
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The catalog of his transgressions against the nation’s interests — sins of commission and omission — would keep Mr. Bush in a confessional for the rest of his life. Don’t hold your breath. He’s hardly the contrite sort. He told ABC’s Charlie Gibson: “I don’t spend a lot of time really worrying about short-term history. I guess I don’t worry about long-term history, either, since I’m not going to be around to read it.”

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Tuesday Male Beauty



Pope Tries A Rick Waren Move

I and many others have written about Nazi Pope Benedict XVI's latest attack on LGBT individuals when he said that protecting the human race from homosexuality was on a par with saving the tropical rain forests. Now the former Hitler Youth Pope through a spokesman is claiming he never made the statement and/or that it was misinterpreted. The same type of tactic that Christianist anti-gay bigot Rick Warren made when slammed for equating gay marriage with incest and pedophilia. Nice try, but it will not work since he former statements are of record. I am always baffled by those who try to claim that they never made statements event though they are in written form or on video. Nothing like documenting that you're a liar and a bad one at that. Here are some highlights from Pink News UK on the effort to spin the fiction that Ratzi did not say what he is documented to have said, as well as comments from a UK gay rights leaders:
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Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales and Archbishop of Westminster, has defended Pope Benedict XVI's controversial comments about gay people.
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During an interview on this morning on Radio 4's Today programme, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said that the pope "wasn't condeming anyone or any person" with his comments. The cardinal went on to say that the pope was only trying to emphasise the importance of the family, and the responsibility on humans to procreate. He also said that Pope Benedict's comments were "quite difficult to interpret" and as a result of this that he had been "very much" misrepresented in the media.
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London Gay Christian Movement chief executive Rev Sharon Ferguson said: "There are still so many instances of people being killed around the world, including in western society, purely and simply because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity. "When you have religious leaders like that making that sort of statement then followers feel they are justified in behaving in an aggressive and violent way because they feel that they are doing God's work in ridding the world of these people."
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"This must be the most ourtrageous and bizarre claim yet made by the Pope who has already got a well-deserved reputation as one the most viciously homophobic world leaders on a par with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe," said PTT secretary and trustee George Broadhead. "The Vatican has already reinforced its anti-gay reputation by strongly opposing a UN declaration calling for an end to discrimination against gays, but this latest Papal outburst is clear evidence of an obsession about homosexuality which is tantamount to paranoia."
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Gay equality activist Peter Tatchell wrote on PinkNews.co.uk: "The suggestion that gay people are a threat to human survival is absurd and dangerous. It is poisonous propaganda that will give comfort and succour to queer-bashers everywhere.

Rick Warren - A Kinder Kind of Hater

Tuesday Male Beauty

Bishop Bans Outspoken Sex Abuse Advocate from Church

Rather than deal with the problems within the Roman Catholic Church, as is typical the Church leadership would rather try to silence critics who demand that there be accountability. The latest case as reported by Yahoo News involves Portland Bishop Richard Malone who has banned Paul Kendrick (pictured at left), a co-founder of the Maine chapter of the lay reform group Voice of the Faithful, from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, and warned in a letter that if he tries again to contact Malone, he risks losing any right "to participate fully in the sacramental life of the church." Kendrick has been a vocal critic of how church leaders have responded to abuse claims and treated victims. My personal advice to Kendrick and other Catholics - walk away and find a less corrupt and nasty denomination. Only loss of significant numbers of church members and, more importantly, loss of monetary contributions, is all that the bitter old men in dress within the hierarchy understand. Here are some story highlights:
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"It's a not-so-subtle attempt to silence me," Kendrick said Monday. "My response is that it's not about me. It's about protecting children today and helping and supporting those who were abused. He will not silence me from speaking out on those issues."
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Kendrick has protested outside churches, inundated the diocese with mail and e-mail, participated in a public confrontation with Malone and even showed up at an out-of-state meeting the bishop attended, Bernard said. She called it a campaign of harassment that ultimately could undermine Malone's ministry.
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Kendrick got word of the potential penalty after he told the bishop in a letter that he planned to attend Christmas Eve Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, where Malone often celebrates Mass. The activist then received a criminal trespass order that barred him from the cathedral, the chancery and Malone's residence. He was also served an order to cease and desist from harassing Malone.
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Nicholas Cafardi, a canon lawyer and former dean of Duquesne Law School, said he had never heard of a bishop using church law, in this case the threat of an "interdict," against activists. "It's extremely unusual," said Cafardi, who was an original member of the National Review Board, the lay panel the U.S. bishops created in 2001 to monitor their response to the abuse scandal.
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The Rev. Tom Doyle, a Virginia priest and advocate for victims who is representing Kendrick, said the church has threatened to prevent Kendrick from receiving Holy Communion if he doesn't comply. Doyle said he can't find any basis for the diocese's actions, but he said church leaders have been angered by the aggressive tactics of some activists. Doyle said his work with abuse victims cost him a promising career as a canon lawyer in the church. "One of the biggest sins in the Catholic Church is to criticize a bishop," Doyle said.
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Last year, Malone released the names of 12 living former priests who faced credible allegations of abuse in Maine. The diocese also validated allegations against nine of 21 deceased priests identified by the attorney general in 2005 as being accused of sexual abuse.
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It would appear that Malone is a modern day Pharisee far too used to having his ass kissed by sheep like parishioners. And if criticizing a bishop is a no-no, I guess I'm in deep shit. As if I give a twit what such hypocrites and phonies think of me.

LGBT Couple Found Murdered in Indianapolis

The Christianist continue to demonize LGBT citizens and simultaneously oppose hate crimes legislation disingenuously claiming that no such laws are needed to protect gays - even though religion (something unlike sexual orientation which can easily be changed) is typically a protected category in most hate crime statutes. Thus, they establish an atmosphere where gays are targeted and brutalized by those who think their religion justifies harming gays, yet want to keep "special" protections for themselves. Sadly it is all too typical of the un-Christian Christianists. To them, LGBT Americans are an inconvenience to be discarded like garbage. From a story reported at Bilerico Project by Bill Browning (another Blogger summit attendee) it appears that two more LGBT individuals have died as a result of a hate crime. Here are some story highlights:
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Two Indianapolis residents were killed over the holidays. While details aren't definite, it would appear one or both individuals were specifically targeted. If the double slaying is a hate crime, nothing will be done about it. Indiana doesn't have a hate crimes law; instead we have a "hate crimes reporting" law, but there is no recourse if police departments don't report to the state. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department stopped documenting hate crimes years ago.
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Michael Hunt, 22, and Avery Elzy, 34, were found shot to death in "a bedroom." A dog in the room was also killed. While any murder is horrific, the IMPD's statements and news coverage of the homicide have been particularly heinous. Once again, Indianapolis is proving to the LGBT community that our city isn't sensitive to our concerns, lacks basic knowledge of our needs, and could absolutely care less.
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In a video released by the local NBC affiliate, Lt. Kevin Kelley can be seen stating "the two individuals did live an alternative lifestyle" at a press conference yesterday. I attempted to contact Lt. Kelley three different times today to ask for clarification of his "alternative lifestyle" comment, without response from anyone at IMPD.
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Instead, as is often the case in Indianapolis, all remote mentions of the LGBT community is silently being swept under the rug. When two elderly gay men were murdered earlier this year, police didn't identify the victims' sexuality and refused to discuss whether the double slaying was a hate crime. The media rewrote their posted stories - the two progressed from roommates, to a gay couple, and finally into a caregiver relationship (the correct relationship).
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With no motive released, a complete lack of understanding of LGBT issues, and a previous record of whitewashing LGBT concerns, is it any wonder some in our community are spinning their own nightmares?

Monday, December 29, 2008

More Monday Male Beauty

How Bush and the GOP Helped Stoke the Mortgage Bust

I have had a number of Republicans - many of whom are in reality the most concerned only about what they pay in taxes and to Hell with the best interests of the country - try to blame Bill Clinton, Congressional Democrats and many others for the mortgage industry collapse and accompanying credit market melt down. An article in the New York Times that I bookmarked a while back helps reveal the lack of substance of these arguments made by GOP apologists and shows that the Chimperator's policies (which were rubber stamped by the GOP controlled Congress) helped set the stage for the residential mortgage market collapse. Here are some highlights:
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The global financial system was teetering on the edge of collapse when President Bush and his economics team huddled in the Roosevelt Room of the White House for a briefing that, in the words of one participant, “scared the hell out of everybody.”
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[H]is Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., told him [Bush] that to stave off disaster, he would have to sign off on the biggest government bailout in history. Mr. Bush, according to several people in the room, paused for a single, stunned moment to take it all in. “How,” he wondered aloud, “did we get here?”
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There are plenty of culprits, like lenders who peddled easy credit, consumers who took on mortgages they could not afford and Wall Street chieftains who loaded up on mortgage-backed securities without regard to the risk. But the story of how we got here is partly one of Mr. Bush’s own making, according to a review of his tenure that included interviews with dozens of current and former administration officials.
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[H]is housing policies and hands-off approach to regulation encouraged lax lending standards. Mr. Bush did foresee the danger posed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage finance giants. . . . And the regulator Mr. Bush chose to oversee them — an old prep school buddy — pronounced the companies sound even as they headed toward insolvency.
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As early as 2006, top advisers to Mr. Bush dismissed warnings from people inside and outside the White House that housing prices were inflated and that a foreclosure crisis was looming. And when the economy deteriorated, Mr. Bush and his team misdiagnosed the reasons and scope of the downturn; . . . The result was a series of piecemeal policy prescriptions that lagged behind the escalating crisis.
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For much of the Bush presidency, the White House was preoccupied by terrorism and war; on the economic front, its pressing concerns were cutting taxes and privatizing Social Security. The housing market was a bright spot: ever-rising home values kept the economy humming, as owners drew down on their equity to buy consumer goods and pack their children off to college. *
But for much of Mr. Bush’s tenure, government statistics show, incomes for most families remained relatively stagnant while housing prices skyrocketed. That put homeownership increasingly out of reach for first-time buyers . . . . So Mr. Bush had to, in his words, “use the mighty muscle of the federal government” to meet his goal. He proposed affordable housing tax incentives. He insisted that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac meet ambitious new goals for low-income lending. . . . And he pushed to allow first-time buyers to qualify for federally insured mortgages with no money down.
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The president also leaned on mortgage brokers and lenders to devise their own innovations. “Corporate America,” he said, “has a responsibility to work to make America a compassionate place.” And corporate America, eyeing a lucrative market, delivered in ways Mr. Bush might not have expected, with a proliferation of too-good-to-be-true teaser rates and interest-only loans that were sold to investors in a loosely regulated environment.
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Mr. Bush populated the financial system’s alphabet soup of oversight agencies with people who, like him, wanted fewer rules, not more. As for Mr. Bush’s banking regulators, they once brandished a chain saw over a 9,000-page pile of regulations as they promised to ease burdens on the industry. When states tried to use consumer protection laws to crack down on predatory lending, the comptroller of the currency blocked the effort, asserting that states had no authority over national banks.
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The bottom line is that for all the GOP efforts to blame others for the current financial crisis, they and the half-wit Chimperator are largely to blame for the crisis in which the country now finds itself.

Study: Parental Reaction Has Huge Influence on Gay Suicide

San Francisco State University's Family Acceptance Project has released a new report which is highlighted in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), that looks at the effects of parental rejection on LGBT youth. I have actually had a copy of this new study entitled "Family Rejection as a Predictor of Negative Health Outcomes in White and Latino Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Young Adults" for nearly two weeks but it was embargoed until 12:01 am today. The findings are in many ways what one would expect - namely, that negative family reactions to youth sexual orientation often has very negative consequences, including increased rates of suicide, depression, and/or drug use - but it is nonetheless helpful to have a legitimate study to backup what should seem obvious. Based on individuals I have met, it is often easy to see precisely the adverse outcomes described in the study report. Here are some highlights:
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The results of this study show that negative family reactions to an adolescent’s sexual orientation are associated with negative health problems in LGB young adults. As such, this study provides empirical evidence to begin addressing long-standing questions about the precursors of high levels of risk consistently documented in studies of LGB youth and young adults. Because families play such a critical role in child and adolescent development, it is not surprising that adverse, punitive, and traumatic reactions from parents and caregivers in response to their children’s LGB identity would have such a negative influence on their risk behaviors and health status as young adults.
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LGB young people from families with no or low levels of rejection are at significantly lower risk than those from highly rejecting families related to depression, suicidality, illicit substance use, and risky sexual behavior. So helping families identify and reduce specific rejecting behaviors is integral to helping prevent health and mental health problems for LGB young people.
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The current study also has important implications for identifying youth at risk for family violence and for being ejected from their homes or placed in custodial care because of their LGB identity. LGB youth are overrepresented in foster care, juvenile detention, and among homeless youth. Moreover, conflict related to the adolescent’s sexual and gender identity is a primary cause of ejection or removal from the home.*
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Specifically, the study found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults who reported high levels of family rejection during adolescence were:
• 8.4 times more likely to report attempting suicide
• 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression
• 3.4 times more likely to report illegal drug use
• 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse.
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The clear import of the study is that Christianist and homophobic parents who reject their LGBT children - and professional "Christians" like James Dobson who market anti-gay hate - have much responsibility on their hands for the adverse consequence that their children and LGBT youth come to suffer. Obviously, loving and truly Christian parents would not reject their children, but then these types of parents aren't truly Christian in the first place.

Monday Male Beauty

Meanwhile, the Church Scrapes the Bottom of the Barrel for Priests

Maybe it is because gays no longer need to hide within the priesthood, or maybe it's because more and more young Catholics recognize the hypocrisy, corruption and rot at the heart of the Church's leadership, but whatever the cause, the Roman Catholic Church is desperate for priests and is now importing priests form Africa among other places to fill the void. From my experience growing up Catholic, the vast majority of Catholic priests have no clue whatsoever on issues faced by modern American families or the strains experienced by married couples with families. Instead, they think they have it tough living with a housekeeper, possessing more funds to spend upon themselves than most married men, and having church women kiss their asses and look after them. And that's priests born and raised in the USA. Now, because nearly no one wants to go into the priesthood and because the Church excludes woman, married men and normal gays, the Church has resorted to importing foreign born and raised priests who will be even less competent to counsel their American parishioners. One can only hope that in time this type of idiocy will be the harbinger of further declines in Catholic Church membership - loss of members and money are the only thing that registers with the Vatican. Would that the Episcopal and Lutheran Churches would begin a marketing campaign to disaffected Catholics. Here are highlights from the New York Times on the importation of priests:
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Father Oneko [from Kenya] is part of a wave of Roman Catholic priests from Africa, Asia and Latin America who have been recruited to fill empty pulpits in parishes across America. They arrive knowing how to celebrate Mass, anoint the sick and baptize babies. But few are prepared for the challenges of being a pastor in America.
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Father Oneko, 46, had never counseled parishioners like those he found here at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church. . . . . To the volunteers at St. Michael’s, it was clear that Father Oneko was out of his element in many ways.
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In fact, the flow of priests from the developing world to Europe and the United States amounts to a brain drain: most of those developing countries have far fewer priests in proportion to Roman Catholics than the United States does. Father Oneko’s situation in Kenya, serving 12 parishes simultaneously, was not unusual.
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Father Oneko arrived at St. Michael’s on the heels of a Nigerian priest who had been helping out temporarily. Father Oneko said he was unnerved to hear that the Nigerian had not been a resounding success. Parishioners complained that they could not understand his accent.
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He did not tell the parishioners that in Kenya and Jamaica, he had been a charismatic Catholic, participating in faith healings and leading Masses with spirited singing and clapping that lasted for hours.

Pope Continues Anti-Gay Jihad

The Nazi Pope, Benedict XVI (pictured at left saluting Hitler) , is continuing his anti-gay jihad this time working to interfere with the civil laws of Spain which has abandoned the 13th century level of knowledge and Thomist "natural law" so popular with the Pope and the other nasty, bitter old queens within the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy. In my view, if Benedict wants to restrict scientific/medical knowledge of sexual orientation to a 13th century level, he should be consistent and refuse any medical treatments not in vogue at that point in history. With any luck, we'd be rid of the old geezer in no time. I know that I am harsh with the Catholic Church, but I believe that in its current form and with its current leadership, it is in many ways a force for evil in the world today. Here are some highlights from the Washington Post's story on the Catholic Church's latest efforts to deprive segments of Spanish society from civil legal rights:
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Hundreds of thousands of people attended a Mass in central Madrid on Sunday designed to promote traditional family values in a predominantly Roman Catholic country that has legalized gay marriage and made it easier for people to divorce. The service started with a message from Pope Benedict XVI, who urged Spanish Catholics to keep their families strong. . . . . The archbishop of Madrid, Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, added: "the future of humanity depends on the family, the Christian family."
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Spain's Socialist government has angered the church by legalizing gay marriage, making it easy for people to divorce and instituting a public school course in which children learn about homosexuality and same-sex marriages. It is also considering easing Spain's restrictive abortion law.
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A similar Mass and rally were held at this time last year in the same square, and organizers put attendance at well over a million. Then, bishops criticized the Spanish government over its social policies but this time there were no such remarks.