Boy Scouts vote to accept gay membership — halfway!

In one of their most dramatic choices in a century, local leaders of the Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to ease a divisive ban and allow openly gay boys to be accepted into the nation’s leading youth organization.

Gay adults will remain barred from serving as Scout leaders.

Of the local Scout leaders voting at their annual meeting in Texas, more than 60 percent supported the proposal.

Casting ballots were about 1,400 voting members of BSA’s National Council who were attending their annual meeting at a conference center not far from BSA headquarters in suburban Dallas.

The vote will not end the wrenching debate over the Scouts’ membership policy, and it could trigger defections among those on the losing side…

Of course. Would you expect bigots to accept democracy – along with civil rights?

The BSA’s overall “traditional youth membership” – Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers – is now about 2.6 million, compared with more than 4 million in peak years of the past. It also has about 1 million adult leaders and volunteers.

Of the more than 100,000 Scouting units in the U.S., 70 percent are chartered by religious institutions.

Those include liberal churches opposed to any ban on gays, but some of the largest sponsors are relatively conservative denominations that have previously supported the broad ban – notably the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Southern Baptist churches.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in April that it was satisfied with new proposal, and the National Catholic Committee on Scouting did not oppose it.

The frustration felt by those who oppose full civil rights for all Americans is nothing new. The nation listened to their whine and breast-beating over accepting non-whites, witnessed the transformation of local chapters of one or another organization or institution into something designed to maintain racial purity. Some of the same will take place over sexual orientation, now.

And, then, time and tide will continue to roll forward over the reactionaries who always think half-measures are all they can bear.

Farmer Fincher – in Congress – has collected million$ in subsidies – wants cuts in the food stamps program

A Tennessee congressman who supports billion of dollars in cuts to the food stamp program is one of the largest recipients of federal farm subsidies, according to new annual data released by a Washington environmental group.

Using Agriculture Department data, researchers at the Environmental Working Group found that Representative Stephen Fincher, a Republican and a farmer from Frog Jump, Tenn., collected nearly $3.5 million in subsidies from 1999 to 2012. The data is part of the research group’s online farm subsidy database from which the group issues a report each year.

In 2012 alone, the data shows, Mr. Fincher received about $70,000 in direct payments, money that is given to farmers and farmland owners, even if they do not grow crops. It is unclear how much Mr. Fincher received in crop insurance subsidies because the names of people receiving the subsidies are not public. The group said most of the agriculture subsidies go to the largest, most profitable farm operations in the country. These farmers have received $265 billion in direct payments and farm insurance subsidies since 1995, federal records show.

During debate on the farm bill in the House Agriculture Committee last week, Mr. Fincher was one of the biggest proponents of $20 billion in cuts to food stamps in the legislation. At times he quoted passages from the Bible in defending the cuts…

Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, said that Mr. Fincher was being hypocritical. “Not only is he advocating deep cuts to other people’s money while he is getting subsidies, he also voted to increase the subsidies that he benefits from,” Mr. Faber said…

The most significant change in both the House and Senate bills is the end of direct payments, which cost taxpayers about $5 billion a year.

Both the House and Senate bills would use the savings from eliminating direct payments to increase financing for crop insurance, a federally subsidized program that pays 62 percent of the premiums for farmers and covers decreases in crop yields or revenue. About $1.3 billion a year is paid to 15 insurance companies to sell and process the policies…

Food stamps would receive a $4.1 billion cut in the Senate farm bill. An amendment by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, to reverse the cuts by using money from the crop insurance program was soundly defeated after a passionate plea by Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, who called crop insurance vital to farmers.

Someone in Washington, DC, please mail me a penny postcard when Congress decides to subsidize premiums to insure how I make my living.

Meanwhile, the sight, sound and smell of a hypocrite like Congressman Fincher is more than any American should have to bear. The aroma of fermenting pig manure is easier to take than a con artist who hustles the American taxpayer for subsidies – then whines about families trying to get by on food stamps like they’re some kind of danger to national freedom.

He should get an honest job.

Judge admits extramarital affair with woman who had a case being tried in his court


Embattled Wayne County Circuit Judge Wade McCree testified Tuesday that his extramarital affair with a woman who had a case before him “surprised and thrilled him.”

“I lusted after this woman,” he said of Geniene La’Shay Mott, a litigant in a child support case assigned to him. “I’m in my middle 50s and she’s a double dozen years my junior.”

…The judge said, their relationship was “volatile” and Mott “had problems with boundaries.”

“Miss Mott is passionate,” he testified. “She would be at the apex of euphoria and the abyss of homicidal anger.”

The judge’s testimony came during the second day of hearings brought by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, which has charged him with judicial misconduct over the way he handled the case.

McCree said he ended the six-month affair in November 2012 when he could no longer meet Mott’s demands for his time and money. He said after they broke up, she announced she was pregnant and demanded he get a divorce and give her $10,000 to cover expenses including an abortion.

When he failed to come up with the money, he said she told him she was pregnant with twins and was experiencing both an ectopic pregnancy and a normal pregnancy. She threatened to tell his wife and the media about their affair.

“She wanted to become Mrs. McCree,” the judge said. “She said ‘Wade, I’ve made up my mind that you are the man for me…‘ “

At the heart of the tenure commission’s case against McCree is his handling of Mott’s child support case while they were in a relationship.

The investigation includes text messages McCree and Mott exchanged in which the judge discussed the case and whether the father of Mott’s young daughter would go to jail if he didn’t pay back child support.

When McCree was asked by his attorney, Brian Einhorn, why he had not recused himself from the case, the judge said he blundered in keeping the case, calling the move a “major oversight.”

RTFA for more of the sordid details. A judge’s courtroom really isn’t the appropriate setting for a telenovela – at least not in real life.

Gnomes invade Chelsea Flower Show – Oh, the horror!

The Hewitt brothers dressed for the occasion

To people in the world of British gardening, the announcement was as startling as if the authorities at Wimbledon had suddenly decreed that players could compete in cutoffs and sequined tank tops.

So it was not surprising that the staid Royal Horticultural Society‘s decision to allow garden gnomes — creatures commonly associated with the landscapes of the unrich, the unfamous and the untasteful — at the Chelsea Flower Show this year elicited a variety of responses.

Such as people all but fleeing in horror when the word was mentioned. “Gnomes?” said one exhibitor on Monday, when the show opened in preview. “I can’t comment on gnomes.”

Some exhibitors went proud and loud, putting gnomes in places they would not be missed, like in the middle of the grass. Others seemed to feel that gnomes may be fine for other people, but certainly not any people they know, or want to know. One renowned landscape architect, Robert Myers, hid a gnome in a tree in his display, lost his nerve and took it out again before the judges could see it.

“I don’t know where he went,” Mr. Myers said of his erstwhile gnome…

The flower show is the horticultural society’s most important and influential occasion in this gardening-mad country, drawing Britain’s top gardeners and thousands of horticulture enthusiasts. Exhibitors spend several weeks and, sometimes, hundreds of thousands of dollars creating entire gardens that compete for various titles and are seen by the country’s keenest and most discerning gardeners.

Gnomes, which are called “brightly colored mythical creatures” in the handbook governing the show, are not really part of the Chelsea aesthetic. (Nor are balloons, flags, “feather flags,” or “any item which, in the opinion of the society, detracts from the presentation of the plants or products on display,” the handbook reads.)

But outside the rarefied world of the flower show, garden gnomes — small and cheery, or small and creepy, depending on your perspective, and typically dressed like the dwarves in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” — are extraordinarily popular.

“Tackiness, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder”…is how Sarah Lyall puts it in her article. Delightful, witty and quite accurate about gardens, gardening and gnomes – depending on your class outlook.

Read the whole article and enjoy.