Tag Archive | alt-right

Being kind is too much to ask—or, yet more confessions of a queer ex-evangelical

Dan Adler tweeted: “So many people running around claiming they'll do anything for America. Carry guns, live in bunkers, fight in the hills. What they're actually asked to so is wear simple protective measures, keep their distance, show patience and courtesy. And they break like fucking glass.” John Scalzi replied: “The difference is that in the fantasy they are asked to kill, and in the reality they are asked to be kind.”

Events in the months since have continued to validate this. (Click to embiggen)

The twitter exchange between Dan Adler and John Scalzi sums up a situation we have been living with for a long time. It sums it up so well, that even though I’ve been outraged by various manifestations of it over the last few months, I keep telling myself, “What’s the point? It’s already been said so well!” But since it keeps manifesting again and again—and since every time it does I see a lot of people online reacting in utter shock at it happening again—it’s clear that pithy summations such as Mr. Scalzi’s aren’t reaching enough people. Not unlike the headline I talked about in the most recent Weekend Update where a professional critical thinker doesn’t understand just how far into whackyland a bunch of our fellow citizens have wandered. I don’t know if my explanation will be any better, but I think it is incumbent upon me to at least try.

In the aforementioned Weekend Update I compared some of my conversations with trump supporters as feeling as if I am banging my head against a brick will. I did not specify that most of the trump supporters in questions are family members or people I have otherwise known since I was in high school. They are people that I love. Many are people who I once admired. Which is why, no matter how many times my attempts to talk to them haven’t gotten anywhere, I can’t seem to make myself completely abandon hope of reaching them.

And since I used the word “confessions” in the title of this post, I must also admit that I know there was a time when I was the brick wall that others were banging their heads against. Since I was able to change my perspective, I keep hoping they can, too.

One of the reasons, I believe, that everyone from the pundits to mainstream journalists to ordinary non-rightwing citizens are always flabbergasted because they don’t understand the culture of what I often call christianists: people who claim to be Christian (many evangelical, but not all) who instead of embracing the peace and tolerance messages, use them as a negative weapon against groups who adhere to different political and/or moral beliefs.

The person who doesn’t understand the christianist viewpoint might advance an argument that our current policies regarding health care and employment forces thousands of people into homelessness each year, leading to unnecessary illness, suffering, and death. They would expect that argument to have some sway with the christianists, but it doesn’t. Why? Because among other things christianists believe that suffering in this lifetime is nothing compared to the fate of one’s eternal soul. If a person suffers in this world, it’s either because they are being punished by god, or because they are being tested. If a good and faithful person dies, no matter what the circumstances, they will get a reward in heaven. The other people, well, it’s their own fault for not getting right with god while they had their chance.

And such thinking seems completely irrational to people outside that subculture. Rational people when presented with an opportunity to reduce suffering and avoidable deaths would try to do something about it, right? This leads some observers to refer to this branch of christianity as a Death Cult. A better description, I think, would be an After Death Cult. Because an eternity of rewards in heaven is the goal, while toil, tribulation, torment, and death are all small prices to pay in comparison.

That isn’t the only difficulty in reasoning with them. That other bit is implied in that part about how troubles in life are punishments from god. Once you accept that notion, it’s small logical hop to rationalizing that if you are the one causing trauma, you’re just doing god’s will. Which is how you justify calling yourself a servant of the Prince of Peace while you are stockpiling assault rifles and fantasizing about the day you get to kill all the unbelievers you want. And that how you get books/movies such as the Left Behind series (which is essentially snuff porn) being bestsellers to the evangelical and related groups.

I mentioned my own experience being on the other side of this mental divide. There was a period in my pre-teens/early teens where I became obsessed with the Biblical book of Revelations and its description of how the world would end. I found books and articles on it. I re-read Revelations itself making extensive notes and charts—connecting news stories and such that I found to specific parts. If the Left Behind books had existed at the time, I would have been all over them. One day, my paternal grandfather stopped me while I was in the middle of explaining some parallel I saw between some news article and some item in Revelations. Grandpa said, “That book isn’t in the Bible to give us a mystery to solve. Jesus himself told us that no one would know it was happening before it does. I believe it’s in there to motivate us to love our neighbors, even when we don’t like them.”

I don’t remember exactly what I said in reply. I didn’t think he was completely wrong, but I thought there was some value to studying the end times.

He turned my Bible back to the gospels, specifically the sermon on the mount. “We are suppose to live our lives so that we are so full of kindness and love, that other people will want to be like us. Armageddon isn’t going to be a victory parade. All wars are tragedies.”

And that got through to me.

“What was it he said that got them so upset?” “'Be kind to each other.'” "Oh, yeah. That'll do it."

Exactly!

Which brings me to another example of the cognitive dissonance between the words attributed to Jesus in the Bible, and the ways that christianists don’t follow or even sometimes understand it. When Neil Gaiman adapted the book Good Omens, originally written by he and Terry Pratchett, into a miniseries, Neil added a lot of scenes showing the relationship between the demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale over the millennia. The book had made a few allusions to these encounters, and Neil realized that in a visual medium, he needed to show them. One of the scenes in that section was Aziraphale and Crowley witnessing the Crucifixion. I follow Gaiman on several social media platforms, so I saw the incredibly large number of Christians (including a lot of pastors), who absolutely loved the adaptation. And the many expressions of gratitude he got from making the Crucifixion scene so respectful.

It got a completely different reaction from the christianists I know. They considered it, especially that scene, blasphemy. Why? Because of those three lines of dialogue in that meme: “What was it he said that got them so upset?” “’Be kind to each other.’” “Oh, yeah. That’ll do it.” Boiling it down to that absolutely incensed some people!

Which is really peculiar since these are the same people who say that every single word of the Bible is literally true. Because that part I mentioned above, the Sermon on the Mount. It’s the centerpiece of Jesus’ teachings in the Bible. It is the longest single bit of his teachings we get. It takes all the ideas he had told before and extends them. And what does he preach that day? That people should be kind to each other, even to those who don’t deserve it. Nay! Even more to those that don’t deserve it than to those that do. That’s all of his teachings in a nutshell.

It’s not blasphemy at all, it’s a distillation of the rest of the story.

And the fact that they don’t understand that is really all you need to know about why they twist the teachings of love and peace and tolerance into cudgels to rationalize cruelty and injustice in society.

Weekend Update 10/24/2019: Invasive problems

“It appears we have some breaking news.” “Good lord, what the fuck now?”

“It appears we have some breaking news.” “Good lord, what the fuck now?”

My weekends have been crazy lately, so I seldom manage to finish one of these Weekend Update posts. The idea for these is that if there is news to broke (or came to my attention) after I finished compiled the Friday Five, or if I become aware of updates or new developments in a news story that I have previously linked to, and especially if I want to make a bit more commentary on it that what happens in a Friday Five, I put them in a Weekend Update to share on a Saturday or Sunday. So, jump right in!

Let’s start with some good news: First U.S. Asian giant hornet nest found in east Blaine. These are the so-called murder hornets, and the danger is that if they get established, they can wipe out native honey bees, which has a scary impact on agriculture. All the signs have so far indicated that there is probably only one next in Washington state. So, this one (and its hornets) will be destroyed and we can all breathe a little easier.

In other news: NC Man Arrested In Terror Plot To Kill Biden, Vehicle Found With Explosives, Assault Rifle, $509,000 In Cash. He’s a 19-year-old originally from Seattle who last fall came into a large inheritance which apparently he’s been carrying around all in cash. He was initially arrested because when someone reported what they thought was an abandoned van in a bank parking long in North Carolina, the responding officers could see the stash of ammo, guns, and explosives through the windows. And when the kid came back to his van, he had concealed weapons on him for which he doesn’t have permits. He’s currently being held of child pornography charges, while a joint terrorism task force is continuing to build the case from messages he posted on white supremacist web sites and journals.

He was arrested back in May, and police have since shown that he was near the former Vice Presidents home in April, which is when he was posting online about killing Biden. I want to point out that his plot to kill Biden was not motivated by a desire to help Trump. His aim was to “save” Bernie Sanders. Again demonstrating the fact I’ve pointed out several times since 2016 that a significant fraction of Bernie Bros have ties to the same white supremacist communities that support Trump.

But this is a weekend update, not a blog post where I explain the origins of certain political factions. So let’s move on to Rightwing Agitator Shot Up Minneapolis Police Precinct In May, And He Is Under Arrest. Yet another example of a white supremacist guy hoping to start a race war by causing violence that he can hope to pin on the Black Lives Matters folks. What’s more scary than his actions are some of the others who he was coordinating with who actually succeeding in killing some cops elsewhere. And like the story above, this was some young guy traveling out of the state where he lives to go stir up the trouble.

Let’s move on…

I did not watch the debate. I urged people I knew not to watch it. Fortunately, we have a great (and more than slightly sarcastic) sum o of the debate by Chicago Tribune columnist Rex Huppke. I’ll just quote my favorite bit:

“Demonstrating a striking change in tone from the first presidential debate, Trump did not come across as a writhing, angry body inhabited by the spirit of Charles Manson. Instead, he took on the more affable demeanor of a writhing, angry body inhabited by the spirit of Charles Manson on a day when Manson didn’t interrupt people quite so much.”

AOC Rips Trump For Disrespecting Her During Final Debate. Of course, Donald disrespects everyone. I don’t think he knows how to respect someone, just as I don’t believe he has one iota of empathy in his being. But that is a bit of her point: just because he does it all the time doesn’t make it right. And just because the Republicans in general disrespect anyone they disagree with doesn’t mean we should let it pass without some pushback.

Trump’s Strangest Lie: A Plague of Suicides Under His Watch – Social distancing hasn’t led to an increase in suicide rates, despite the president’s claims. But a prolonged pandemic might. I’m not sure I agree this is his strangest lie, because he tenaciously retells a lot of lies about extremely trivial stuff.

I suspect the author hasn’t had enough experience beating his head against a brick wall talking with Trump supporters. And the thing you have to remember is that Trump is always talking to his supporters. He doesn’t believe anyone else matters. He isn’t trying to appeal to voters outside his base. Trump’s base firmly believe that the quarantines are unnecessary and are a liberal plot being forced on them in order to undermine Trump. They sincerely believe that. And therefore, if the lockdowns were causing suicides to increase (which they aren’t), but if they were, those suicides wouldn’t be happening on Trump’s watch. Those suicides would all be the fault of the evil libruhls

The author of the article expects Trump and his supporters to think like normal people. In a normal election, people tend to blame bad things happening right now on the incumbent President. But trumpkins don’t think like that. They live in the world of all those conspiracy theories. Bad things are always the fault of those other guys.

It is a lie: quarantining and lockdowns are no causing suicides. But if you understand Trump and his supporters, it isn’t that strange at all.

I’m going to let Stephen Colbert take us out:

Trump Trashes New York, Joe Unveils ‘Bidencare’ At Final Debate – Stephen Colbert’s LIVE Monologue What’s got Steven Colbert feeling optimistic after last night’s debate? The fact that we’ll (hopefully) never have to watch Donald Trump debate ever again:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Tuesday Tidbits 10/18/2020: Tornadoes, voting, scrub jays, and more

I originally started this post as a Weekend Update on Sunday morning. And various things conspired to interrupt me and get me working on other things, which is fine. So then I figured on Monday I could finish it up and queue it as a Tuesday Tidbits… and between a very stressful work day where I didn’t stop for a real lunch and I worked late, and then I just didn’t want to put words in sentences… and then Tuesday I woke up with a horrific sinus headache. Wound up having to take a couple breaks from work that involved naps, and didn’t finish until late and here we are.

So, not a usual Weekend Update nor Tuesday Tidbits, but a weird bit of this and that. Note that I’m going to list news that should not cause anxiety or outrage first, and give a warning so you can stop reading once I get to the outrage-inducing stuff.

First, some local stuff: WEST SEATTLE BIRDS: 8 views. The blog that link to this collection of photos of birds people have taken in Seattle mentioned that the most exotic bird the blogger has seen out the window of his Seattle apartment were scrub jays. And I was certain that scrub jays weren’t found this far north, but a quick search of the web turned up an article from two years ago about how the California Scrub Jay’s range used to only extend into Oregon, but thanks to climate change they are now living as far north as here.

Two days later, I saw a Scrub Jay on my own bird feeder. The only jays I’d ever seen here before were Stellar’s Jays.

Lightning knocks Washington state ferry out of service.

EF-1 tornado knocks down trees in Grays Harbor County, NWS confirm.

I grew up in tornado country, which also meant lots and lots of thunderstorms. One of the things I loved about living in the Pacific Northwest is that we used to almost never get thunderstorms and certainly not tornadoes. Thank you climate change?

We’re 9 days past National Coming Out Day, but I like this story. ABC News’ James Longman on coming out: ‘I could never imagine then the life I have now’.

Denver is sending mental health experts instead of cops in response to nonviolent calls. This is what we mean by defunding the police: taking tasks which should never have been given to police in the first place and instead sending people trained to deal with it.

Billy Porter Says To ‘Get Your Little Asses to The Polls!’. Vote like your life depends on it! (Because a lot of lived do depend on it!)

If you don’t want to be outraged, stop reading now!

Here’s a cut picture of a kitten with a pumpkin. Don’t scroll past it and you’ll be fine.

Black kitten with white paws plays on a hay bale near a jack o lantern for Halloween

So, about the other kinds of news…

As Virus Spread, Reports of Trump Administration’s Private Briefings Fueled Sell-Off – A hedge fund consultant’s summary of private presentations by White House economic advisers fanned investor worries. We all suspected this, but now we have the proof. While they were lying to us, they were warning their rich friends so that could cut their losses.

Calls intensify for resignation of Michigan sheriff who shared stage with militia. I bet if we looked hard enough we could even find some things to prosecute him for related to this…

Trump Has Previously Unknown Bank Account In China. You don’t say…

Tiffany Trump holds trainwreck LGBTQ event for dad’s reelection: ‘Prior to politics, he supported gays’. Best description of the speech: “She’s like a drunk, malfunctioning robot.” Also, this big supposedly pro-gay event? Had only a dozen attendees…

‘Proud Boys’ Send Threatening Emails To FL Dems – Emails sent from the “Proud Boys” to Florida Democrats, telling them to vote for Trump “or we will come after you,” are being investigated by the FBI and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office. Yeah, that’s really something to be proud of…

Monday Update 9/29/2020: I’m not sure ‘bombshell’ is the word you mean

Hillary Clinton standing with an 'I told you so' expression "I literally warned you fuckers!"

She did!

Between the incredibly fun on-line birthday party Friday (featuring a rather large number of martinis), running an online roleplaying game Saturday, watching my favorite football team with their third game in a row this season, along with errands and housework and sleeping in, I did not do a Weekend Update post. And there were so many news stores were worth commenting on that broke since Thursday night when I queued up the latest Friday Five. So I’m giving y’all the update today. Which is a good thing, since the story I’m going to lead with officially broke late Sunday…

So, the one the biggie: Tax bombshell reveals Trump’s image is a sham. This really isn’t a bombshell. It’s something most of us have believed for at least the last four years. A man who is worth multiple-billions of dollars doesn’t need a constant flow of endorsement deals (many of those weird businesses that come and then fail, such as Trump Steaks, aren’t actually owned by him; rather, the company pays him to use his name and get him to endorse it for a time), nor does he need to charge hundreds of millions of dollars to the taxpayer to keep a few of his golf courses and hotels afloat.

And most importantly, an actual billionaire running for political wouldn’t fight tooth and nail for more than four years to conceal his tax returns from the public.

There are some details worth noting, the the least of which is that our tax code needs a major overhaul some people who have hundreds of millions of dollars of cash-flow every year are paying less in federal taxes than a minimum wage worker does. So, start here for some of that info: The Ordinary Taxpayer’s Guide To The Extraordinary Story Of Trump’s Tax Returns.

Moving on…

Trump booed and jeered on visit to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s casket. Good!

Fox & Friends Sorry For Spreading Fake COVID Story. It’s a little late for that…

Omaha Man Who Killed BLM Protester Commits Suicide. Suddenly facing consequences for being a murderous bastard, and he takes the coward’s way out.

Kentucky GOP State Rep. Robert Goforth Arrested On Charges Of Domestic Violence – Former Republican candidate for Governor was arrested for extremely disturbing domestic violence charges. Surprise, surprise, surprise!

Weekend Update 9/19/2020: What the F*ck Else, 2020?

Photo of Ruth Bader Ginsburg with the phrase, "Can't spell TRUTH without RUTH."

Rest in Power, Justice Ginsburg


It is once more time for a post in which I link to stories that either didn’t make the cut for this week’s Friday Five, or broke after I composed the Friday Five, or are an update to a story I’ve linked to and ranted commented upon in a previous post. This is going to be a bit different than my usual Weekend Update, it gets personal a couple of time. You’ll understand why, I’m sure.

We’re going to start with sad (and for me, devastating) news first. I’ve already cried a few times over it: ‘Devastating loss’: Bay Area, state leaders react to Ginsburg’s death.

Special thanks to my friend, A Muse Dreams for sharing this post:

I know your first impulse is to despair. To say we’re fucked. To feel desperate and hopeless. I feel it. We all feel it.

But Notorious RBG would not have wanted us to lie down and accept defeat.

She’d have wanted us to fight like hell. And that’s what we’re going to do.

Call your house rep: Find them by Zipcode.

Script: “Hi, my name is ____ I am one of your constituents. I am calling to ask Congressperson ______ to go on the record saying they will respect Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wishes as well as the precedent set in 2016 to not nominate a new Justice until after a new president is installed. Thanks for your time.”

Call your senator: (202) 224-3121 Capitol Switchboard
Don’t know who your senator is? Find your senator.

Script: “Hi, my name is ________ and I live in (STATE). I am calling to ask Senator ______ to go on the record saying the Senate will not hold hearings on any potential replacement for Justice Ginsburg until after a new president is installed, per Justice Ginsburg’s last wishes and the precedent set in 2016. Thank you for your time.”

Gov. Cuomo planning statue of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Brooklyn.

McConnell Vows Quick Vote on Trump Pick to Fill Ginsburg Seat. Because of course the ghoulish bastards are going to try.

Let’s move on…

I have been trapped in the house since last weekend, thanks to the Air Quality Index ranging from Unhealthy for Everyone, Very Unhealthy, and not very far south of us sometimes Hazardous. When the haze first came in more than a week ago and they started forecasting worse to come, I replaced the Hepa filters and Charcoal filters in both of our air cleaners. Even so, by Saturday night I was coughing. We did our best to keep everything closed. I converted our two box fans to air cleaners (take a 20 inch Merv-13 rated furnace filter, bungy it to the back of the box fan, set up the fan somewhere in the middle of the room and let it run. Do not put the fan in a window. Keep the windows closed.).

I’ve been coughing all week. I started using an inhaler a few days ago and that helped a bit. But yesterday, finally, we got rain: Seattle Weekend Forecast: Less Smoke, More Rain – Rain showers this weekend should be enough to push out the rest of the smoke and keep it from returning. Here’s a look at what’s in store.

They had originally predicted thing would get better on Monday, but that was wrong for a variety of reasons: What makes smoke forecasts so hard to predict — and how tech could help. The fires themselves are not probabilistic, for one. Another is that the smoke itself changes the weather in ways that break our forecasting models.

We finally got enough rain over a wide enough part of the region to clean things out. I was so happy, after checking the Air Quality Index, to open our windows. It was too warm and stuffy inside!

And now to an old, old adversary...

911 Call From Intoxicated Jerry Falwell Jr.’s House Last Month Describes ‘A Lot Of Blood’ – Becki Falwell told the operator that her husband had cuts on his face from falling after he’d been drinking.

In case you need a reminder, I’ll just drop this hand sum-up I’ve referred to before:

Sometimes when a man and a woman love each other, and the man is the president of an evangelical Christian clown college and is friends with the pussy-grabbing authoritarian president of America, they get married and then they meet a 20-year-old pool boy named “Giancarlo” and they are like “Oh hey, Giancarlo, is that the Holy Bible in your pocket, or is it your boner?” and he is like “Oh it’s just my boner” and they are like “Good, we really aren’t into that Holy Bible shit when we aren’t profiting financially from it” and the pool boy is like “cool” and they are like “cool” and so they start having a sexual affair with the pool boy for years and years, where the lady does nakeds with the pool boy while the clown college Christian leader husband plays shadows puppets with his weener and watches in the corner, and they end up giving the pool boy SWEET business deals that kinda sorta look like payoffs, and fly him all over the country in their jet, and maybe there’s a similar arrangement with the hot jacked personal trainer, but we’re not sure yet, but anyway then everybody finds out and the man has to quit being a clown college Christian leader, WOMP WOMP.
The Wonkette

And there are continuing developments:

Text messages reveal Jerry Fallwell Jr’s wife told Miami pool boy to ‘stay off social media’ because it is ‘all left wing nut jobs’ after he threatened to kill himself over their affair.

Jerry Falwell Jr.’s fatal miscalculation.

Opinion: Bittersweet vindication follows Jerry Falwell Jr. scandal.

When Falwell Junior finally was forced to resign and the university opened investigations into possible financial improprieties, certain commenters out there opined that this was either part of Falwell’s kink (the pool boy and the other pool boy situations seeming to be on the cuckold fetish spectrum) because many cucks like being humiliated publicly, or that he was slamming his fist on the self-destruct button because he is tired of pretending to be an evangelical leader.

I didn’t buy either of those scenarios at the time for a variety of reasons. Only one of them being that first drunk call Junior made to a conservative radio show a few days after the Instagram post with his arm around a woman who wasn’t his wife, with his pants on done and a glass of what he later claimed wasn’t alcohol, but “black water” in his other hand.

No, the reason why is because I’ve known men like Junior before. White straight men, often from a conservative southern background (though not required) who are used to “getting away with it” over and over. They think they are invincible. They think the rules don’t apply to them. They have always been able to lie their way out of it before, and they are confident that they will continue to do so.

Let me give a very personal example. Content Warning: I’m going to be discussing my dad’s physical abuse of more than one family member and the death of a pet.

There are no further news links, so if you want to stop reading, now’s the time.

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Okay, mind the content warning…

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I was nine years old, my alcoholic and abusive father was hung over, and he had yelled at my four-year-old sister several times to keep it quiet. But she was in a hyper mood (many years later when she was diagnosed as, among other thing, bipolar, we would refer to these days as one of her manic periods). Eventually, Dad snapped and he beat her viciously… and left her lying apparently unconscious on the floor of her bedroom.

When she roused it was clear that something was seriously wrong. On the drive to the hospital, Dad drilled us with the cover story that we were all to stick to: she was being rowdy and won’t settle down and she fell down the stairs.

Among her injuries was a fractured skull. At some point during her medical treatment, she apparently told the nurse that “after the third time Dad hit me everything went blurry, so I don’t remember what happened.”

About a week later a state patrol officer or a county deputy (I don’t remember which) and a man from Child Protective Services showed up at our house. The tiny town we were in didn’t have any state agency offices, and the guy had had to come out from a city somewhere.

Each of us was taken by the guy from CPS individually to a nearby park to tell our version of events. I had learned my lesson about never contradicting Dad’s version years ago, so I dutifully repeated that Dad had told her to settle down several times, but she kept running around singing and then fell down the stairs.

I assume that Mom, my sister, and Dad all told the same story.

There was a glaring problem with our story.

There were no stairs.

We lived in a three-bedroom mobile home. It was a fancy mobile home, with an Extandal (as they called it at the time) which made our living room twice as wide as the rest of the trailer. But it was a single-story home with no stairs.

The CPS guy never asked any of us to show him the stairs.

The CPS guy and the officer left. Dad was angry for days afterward, but also on his best behavior even when no one was around. Eventually he learned that there would be no charges and the investigation was closed. Dad was still angry about my sister breaking the rule and contradicting his story, but because he was afraid people were still watching, he couldn’t do his usual thing of punishing one of us and explaining to my sister that he was hurting me or Mom because sister had screwed up.

So, instead Dad killed the family cat in order the punish my sister for telling the truth.

He got away with it. And his job had us move a few months later, and there was an incident where I was the one who wound up in the hospital… and he got away with that. And continued to with each of my younger half siblings and the only time he ever faced consequences was when he slapped one of the grandkids hard enough that she wound up in urgent care… but even then, the only consequence was that for a time all of my younger siblings had restraining orders on him that he couldn’t be around his grandkids without supervision.

Anyway, to get back to Falwell Junior…

I don’t have any knowledge that Falwell Junior was ever abusive of his kids or his wife, and I’m not claiming that he is that kind of abuser. But we know that for the last several years he has done other things that should have had consequences (talking repeatedly at work about his personal sex life, sending pictures of his wife in fetish gear to a number of university employees who didn’t ask to see them, attending nightclubs and consuming alcohol in direct violation of the university rules which are supposed to apply to employees, the shady real estate deals that some former employees started talking about last year, the pool boy’s shady real estate deal that reporters contacted the university about years ago, et cetera). And I’m pretty sure that Junior has been getting away with various things like that his entire life.

I know I’m bringing some of my personal baggage into this, but every time I have seen Junior speak, I have recognized that cocky smirk and the look in his eyes that say he knows the rules don’t apply to him. Because I spent 15 years of my life being raised by a man who had that some smirk and the same glint in his eyes.

Now Junior’s finally facing consequences, and he doesn’t know how to handle that. Self-medicating by drinking heavily constantly is only the tip of the iceberg, I suspect.

Weekend Update 9/12/2020: It’s 2020 Everywhere…

“It's no longer 5 o'clock somewhere. It's 2020 everywhere. Drink whenever you want!”

“It’s no longer 5 o’clock somewhere. It’s 2020 everywhere. Drink whenever you want!”

First let’s start with some good news, since there seems to be precious little of that these days: Canada reports zero COVID-19 deaths for first time since March. At least some countries are handling this thing better than we are.

So, you may remember that some of us were sharing stories about how Malania Trump oversaw tearing up the White House Rose Garden that has for decades adhered the Jackie Kennedy’s design (including digging up a bunch of healthy crabapple trees and who knows what actually happened to them) and replaced it with something that was super ugly? Well… Three weeks after its unveiling, Melania’s rose garden is dying and needs emergency repairs.

But what else do we expect from people who are already known to never pay their subcontractors?

Speaking of the corrupt one… Donald Trump stole art pieces from the ambassador’s residence in France.

And this reaction to the “revelation” that Trump knew the pandemic was deadly but didn’t care is spot on: Oh, Come On. The Only Thing Trump Cared About ‘Panicking’ Was The Stock Market – We know Trump only cares about himself, and what affects him. Let’s stop pretending, shall we?

Meanwhile, in my neck of the woods, I’m staying indoors, have the windows closed, have all the air cleaners going, and hope that the weather turns soon: Dangerous air quality as smoke from fires in California and Oregon pours into Western Washington.

Seattle air among world’s worst: How to check your town’s air quality and protect yourself from wildfire smoke – Saturday morning, air quality ranged from unhealthy for sensitive groups to very unhealthy in western Washington, according to AirNow.

Related, it would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous: ‘Antifa Arson’ Hoax Rumors Spread About Wildfires In Besieged West Coast Areas – Right wing extremists are doing all they can to pin the west coast wildfires on liberals, Black Lives Matter, and Antifa. The “proof”? Police scanner recording where rangers, firefighters, and various levels of police are exchanging information and refer to territory that is under control of the Federal Bureau of Land Management (a rather large swath of each of the western states) and “BLM land”. The idiot MAGA-boys think that forest rangers are talking about Black Lives Matter protestors whenever they refer to federal land. Oy!

And I’m just going to close with this:

Wildfires on US West Coast turn day into night | DW News:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Okay, not quite done. I decided the above meme needed a bit of Betty White, so I made this:

Tuesday Tidbits 9/8/2020: News cycle continues to be disheartening

“You elected a billionaire that appointed other billianaires to fix the system that made them billionaires? You're a special kind of stupid, aren't you?”

The meme omits a couple of important bits, though: “You elected a billionaire that appointed other billionaires to fix the system that made them billionaires BY STEALING FROM YOU? You’re a special kind of stupid, aren’t you?”

‘A tale of 2 recessions’: As rich Americans get richer, the bottom half struggles – The trend is on track to exacerbate dramatic wealth and income gaps in the U.S., where divides are already wider than any other nation in the G-7.

REPORT: Louis DeJoy May Have Broken Campaign Finance Laws AND Lied To Congress About It – DeJoy allegedly reimbursed employees from his company for donations to GOP candidates – which is illegal.

‘Conmen, grifters and criminals’: why is Trump’s circle so at odds with the law? – Apart from legal trouble, what Bannon, Manafort, Flynn, Cohen, Stone, Gates and Papadopoulos have in common is the president.

“The history of Nazis holding rallies in lef-wing areas of Weimar Germany, instigating street fights, and then telling the press that only they could save Germany from the 'violent communists' seems like an important thing for people to be studying right now.”

Seems so, doesn’t it?

Department of Homeland Security draft document: Domestic white supremacists are greatest terror threat.

Lawyer of accused Kenosha shooter resigns from defense fund.

Kenosha shooting suspect faces more homicide charges.

Quote Of The Day: Armed Militias Target BLM Protests – Just when you thought right-wing militias were “anti-government,” they’re all for Trump’s fascism..

Jacob Blake appears in court from hospital on sex assault charge, while police gun down suspected Portland shooter.

“Never forget: the Trump family is not allowed to operate ANY charity in New York because they stole from a kids cancer charity.”

There is no low they haven’t already sunk to…

Trump campaign criticised for mocking Biden as he visited family grave – Biden’s late son, first wife and daughter are buried in cemetery.

Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’ – The president has repeatedly disparaged the intelligence of service members, and asked that wounded veterans be kept out of military parades, multiple sources tell The Atlantic..

Fox News Correspondent: Two Top Officials Who Were on France Trip With Trump ‘Confirmed to Me Key Details’ of Atlantic Report – .

Trump Wants Fox Reporter Who Confirmed Atlantic Story Fired For Hurting His Wee Feelings.

Trump’s Contempt for the Sick and Disabled Is Written All Over His Covid-19 Response – The president’s disgust for anyone he deems weak is key to understanding his handling of the pandemic.

Room rentals, resort fees and furniture removal: How Trump’s company charged the U.S. government more than $900,000.

I don’t have a funny exit line, and I’m just not up to ranting about it.

Tread all to pow’rs of darkness down, or a queer ex-evangelical looks at circular reasoning

“where did religion go wrong when gay kids grow up fearing god's wrath but racists don't??? seriously tho. imagine a where where people grow up policing every racist thought they have like i did my gayness”

“where did religion go wrong when gay kids grow up fearing god’s wrath but racists don’t??? seriously tho. imagine a where where people grow up policing every racist thought they have like i did my gayness”

Continuing to embrace the fact that most traffic coming to my blog right now is driven by a scandal in the news, let’s get some new headlines out of the way first:

Liberty Pastor Apologizes To Students For “Shameful” Falwell Scandal: “If It’s Christian, It Ought To Be Better”.

Pool Boy: Falwell Was Drunk And Giggling The First Time He Watched Me Screw His Wife, Said “Go For It”.

BREAKING: Liberty University Reveals Investigation Into Falwell Over “Financial, Real Estate, And Legal Matters”.

I’m not going to sum up the scandal yet again (if you really need to know, I quoted a great sum-up by one of thew writers at the Wonkette a couple days ago.)

Among the stories linked above, there is an official statement from the some leaders of Liberty University which claims that until last week there was absolutely no way to know that the former president of the University (and son of the scam evangelist who founded it as part of his multi-decade pro-racial segregation campaign) had been doing anything possible illegal or questionable with university funds, et cetera.

This is a blatant lie. If nothing else, because both major news organizations and dozens of bloggers like myself have been reporting on this issue for nearly three years. And one of the stories all of us covered in the last year was as a result of dozens of current and former employees of the university going to various Christian news sites to report the shenanigans. One former board member was widely quoted as saying they were no longer running a religious university, because Falwell Jr had turned it into a hedge fund that used student fees to finance his personal real estate deals.

And after that story broke, Falwell, Jr called the FBI to try to get the Feds to arrest all those employees… not for spreading false information, but for violating their non-disclosure agreements by revealing information they were supposed to keep secret.

Side note: I still have no idea why he thought calling the FBI of all people was the thing to do, but there you have it.

In other words, he essentially admitted that at least some of the allegations were turn.

That bit alone was months ago, not last week.

And again, the other news stories were published in the last few years. And at least when the mainstream news organizations were first publishing the stories, various board members and other officials of the university were contacted for comment.

Cynical people will say that “Of course they knew! But they are in on the deals, too!”

Most of the evidence is that, know, Falwell wasn’t spreading any of the money to anyone but his own family and apparently the young men who were schtupping Mrs Falwell.

No, it’s more complicated than that. And it is related to the structural forces in evangelical institutions (and probably other religious institutions, but let’s stick to what I know of personally) which enable abusers and turn the victims of abusers into villains.

First, most evangelicals believe that god is in control of the world. Which contradicts their equally sincerely held belief that satan causes all sorts of bad things to happen in the world, but such contradictions don’t bother them. Anyway, because god controls the world, then any person who is in charge of anything has been placed there by god. And god had to have a reason, even when it seems the person is completely unfit for the position. Therefore, if you question the actions of the leader, you are saying that god made a mistake putting him there. So the first line of defense when any wrongdoing of a leader is brought to light is to remind you that god works in mysterious ways, and eventually it will all turn out to be part of god’s plan.

Second, there is a section of the New Testament which is sometimes referred to as the Ministry of Correction, which details a process by which the faithful are to approach another member of the congregation/et cetera, when that person appears to have gone astray. And the first step in this process is to keep the problem private, do not share any concerns or issues with anyone outside the community. You are supposed to talk to the person directly, admit that you know that everyone including yourself sins from time to time, explain why you think what they are doing is wrong, invite them to pray with you about it, and trust in god to open their eyes.

You are only supposed to go to another person (and it is supposed to be someone who knows the person who you think has done something wrong, is a member of the same faith community, and preferably has some connection to the incident) if this conversation doesn’t lead to change and if, after you have spent time praying about it, you still think what they did was wrong. And you only take it to the entire church if none of that leads to changes and if the second person you brought into it agrees.

This process is easily subverted by a leader who doesn’t care whether what he is doing is right with god. He can pretend to take your concerns seriously, and then while you’re praying privately about it, start a whisper campaign undermining your credibility. That whole thing about everyone sin from time to time is practically inviting someone to claim some good ol’ what-about-ism—the leader may have made an unwise financial decision, but what about that time you did thus-and-so, hmmm? The Ministry of Correction is completely ineffective if any member of the leadership are acting in bad faith.

So even when you don’t have a legal non-disclosure agreement hanging over your head, if you grew up in these kind of churches, and you sincerely think that what the person is doing is wrong, your first instinct isn’t to save documents and emails and when you have enough to establish a case that the president of the university is diverting school funds to finance is luxurious millionaire lifestyle, turn said evidence over to the Department of Revenue or another agency that can investigate it, instead you go tell the grifter that you think he might be sinning and you ask him politely to think about not doing it any more.

This also how pastors who sexually abuse parishioners manage to abuse people again and again without consequence. The pastor or an ally goes to many members of the congregation, each time pretending that this person is the only one he’s talking to, and talk about their concerns about young Billy who seems to be light in the loafers, or whatever. Which is also how you end up with high ranking officials of a church telling reporters with a straight face that 11-year-old altar boys lead priests into sin, so it’s really the priest who is a victim, not the child.

I know that may seem like a big leap, but it is the same system. The default reaction from those around Falwell would have been to first assume that whatever the accusation is, it can’t be true, because god wouldn’t have allowed him to become president if he were that kind of man. And if any portion are true, it may not be quite what it seems because go works in mysterious ways. And if more of it turns out to be true, well, obviously the problem isn’t Falwell, but people around him who led him astray.

So Mrs Falwell is castigated as having a sexual addiction (and she joins in on the self-castigation!). The former pool boy, and various students who have begun to come forward are all characterized as tools of temptation that trapped poor, innocent Falwell (who was only trying to help them) into an impossible situation, and so forth.

Because the respected leaders can’t possibly be in the wrong, otherwise god wouldn’t have let them become leaders. It must be nice to be the benefactor of such blatant circular reasoning.


Note: Part of this post’s title comes from the hymn, “Soldiers of Christ, Arise” by Charles Wesley, #416 in the 1956 Baptist Hymnal.

Dirty Deeds Coming Home to Roost, or, What’s Happening with those Evangelical Pool Boy Chasing Devils?

I’ve decided to just embrace that fact that because I have blogged a lot about the bigotry and hypocrisy of so-called Christians in general, and one anti-gay grifter in particular, that it is okay to just embrace the fact that as long as this story is in the news, people are going to be clicking on a lot of those old posts.

I laughed out loud when I saw this headline, because (particularly if you read in aloud with a lot of dread in your voice) it sums up how I’ve been feeling: And Now For Your Daily Update On Jerry Falwell’s Dick. This article was from earlier in the week, but I love his summary of the scandal:

Sometimes when a man and a woman love each other, and the man is the president of an evangelical Christian clown college and is friends with the pussy-grabbing authoritarian president of America, they get married and then they meet a 20-year-old pool boy named “Giancarlo” and they are like “Oh hey, Giancarlo, is that the Holy Bible in your pocket, or is it your boner?” and he is like “Oh it’s just my boner” and they are like “Good, we really aren’t into that Holy Bible shit when we aren’t profiting financially from it” and the pool boy is like “cool” and they are like “cool” and so they start having a sexual affair with the pool boy for years and years, where the lady does nakeds with the pool boy while the clown college Christian leader husband plays shadows puppets with his weener and watches in the corner, and they end up giving the pool boy SWEET business deals that kinda sorta look like payoffs, and fly him all over the country in their jet, and maybe there’s a similar arrangement with the hot jacked personal trainer, but we’re not sure yet, but anyway then everybody finds out and the man has to quit being a clown college Christian leader, WOMP WOMP.

The story quotes heavily from this interview: Falwell sought to cut financial ties to pool attendant before Trump’s campaign – Giancarlo Granda, who met Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife at a Miami Beach hotel, offers new details on his relationship with the couple.

Note that Granda’s account in the Politico interview appears to change the timeline of events I and others have put together. But also note that some of it contradicts that photo of Falwell introducing Granda to Donald Trump at the rally at Liberty University 10 months after when Granda claims Falwell tried to cut all ties with him. On the other hand, if what the former pool boy says there is true, it’s possible that Falwell was trying to get out of the deal without actually coughing up the promised money, and since Granda wanted the promised money, while Mrs Falwell apparently didn’t want to give up the Pool Boy… well, it sounds like it was messy for months.

And, as many people have expected, a couple more guys are coming forward with their stories: ‘She was the aggressor’: Former Liberty student alleges sexual encounter with Becki Falwell – A former student at the evangelical university opens up about a 2008 incident with the wife of the school’s president. Warning! This story has a lot of creepy details about multiple instances of Mrs Falwell coming onto (and much more) a young man (in his 20s) who at the time was a bandmate of her son. That sentence alone may have already put too many bad images in your head. Sorry…

There are a few aspects of this story that I do want to comment. The young man was a student at Liberty University at the time, and he was a member of a band that had recruited the Falwell’s oldest son, Trey (who was also a student at the university, though a few years younger than they) as their lead guitarist. One of the stories the young man talks about he and Trey hanging out at the Falwell’s home drinking whiskey and jamming, and because he’d been drinking he stayed in the guest room, where things later happened.

I want to point out, however, that this is a violation of the Liberty University Code of Conduct: “Liberty University’s code of conduct, known as the Liberty Way, prohibits the consumption of alcohol for all students living on or off campus. This policy applies not only to those under the age of 21, but also those who are 21 and older… This policy not only applies for students during school, but also while they are on breaks or trips.”

At the time of this incident, Trey Falwell was both a student at the University and underage. The other young man was 22 at the time, but was still a student at the university, yet it seems that they were partaking of whiskey at the Falwells’ home with the knowledge of at least Mrs. Falwell… who was an employee of the University at the time, as well.

I mean, we shouldn’t be surprised at the hypocrisy and double standards are in play, but… well…

The young man who has now came forward says that part of the reason he kept the story to himself for over 10 years is because his mother has always admired the late Jerry Falwell, Sr, and that the young man himself didn’t want to detract from all the supposed good that Falwell, Sr accomplished.

Falwell, Sr accomplished no good in his entire life. He was a liar, a grifter, a proven-in-court chiseler, who promoted racial and anti-gay hate for many decades. He was one of the leaders of an evangelical conference in the mid-70s that met for the express purpose of trying to figure out how to get donations flowing in again like they used to be able to by preaching against racial de-segregation and women’s rights. He was one of the people who made the cynical decision to change their doctrine regarding abortion (which before hadn’t been exactly pro-choice, but had been this complicated ‘the old Testament says clearly that unborn babies are not yet people, so this prove Catholics aren’t real Christians because they insist they are, but we’re not saying the we approve of abortion, but…’) and to make Abortion and The Gays their new focus to see if that would fire up people to send in donations. He then formed the so-called Moral Majority and dragged the Evangelicals into the Republican base and amped up the bigotry on all levels.

The gospel was a tool Falwell, Sr distorted to manipulate people into giving him money and influence. It shouldn’t surprise us that his son is a grifter and abuser, too.

Falwell, Jr has tried to wiggle out of this scandal by throwing all the blame on his wife and claiming the Pool Boy was blackmailing him. Mrs Falwell has joined in, saying it was all her fault for being weak and sinning and bringing the Pool Boy into their lives. That doesn’t really Falwell sharing nudes and such of his wife with all sorts of people who didn’t want to see them, as well as the Pool Boy, Personal Trainer, and apparently several others. It doesn’t explain grooming college students as additional sex toys. It might possibly explain some of the multi-million dollar deals, but doesn’t really explain sending the jet for the Pool Boy again and again after the deal, nor enthusiastically introducing him to Trump (which we have not just photos, but Fox News video of).

Sorry, the Falwells are both predators and jerks. A pox upon them!

And now, I’m going to let Stephen Colbert have the final word:

Stephen Colbert Unloads on Jerry Falwell’s Cuck Affair, Shares Photo of Trump Shaking Hands with Pool Boy – “Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Link To Trump Is Far More Troubling Than His Sex Scandal”:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Weekend Update 8/29/2020: The virus and the fascism are the enemy, not the masks

This is going to be a slightly different Weekend Update than usual. There is a lot of news that I came across after I finished this week’s Friday Five post on Thursday night, but as is often the case, a lot of it is either salacious or outrage-inducing of otherwise bad news. It’s also all over the map with various topics and sometimes the scatter shot of “and that’s f-ed up too!” can multiply the outrage. So I’m going to focus on only a couple of topics, and a certain amount of it is good, scientific information that you can actually use.

I’ll start with that. If you don’t want to be outraged, don’t read past the bold “Meanwhile” below.

COVID-19 Is Transmitted Through Aerosols. We Have Enough Evidence, Now It Is Time to Act.

When it comes to COVID-19, the evidence overwhelmingly supports aerosol transmission, and there are no strong arguments against it. For example, contact tracing has found that much COVID-19 transmission occurs in close proximity, but that many people who share the same home with an infected person do not get the disease. To understand why, it is useful to use cigarette or vaping smoke (which is also an aerosol) as an analog. Imagine sharing a home with a smoker: if you stood close to the smoker while talking, you would inhale a great deal of smoke. Replace the smoke with virus-containing aerosols, which behave very similarly, and the impact is similar: the closer you are to someone releasing virus-carrying aerosols, the more likely you are to breathe in larger amounts of virus. We know from detailed, rigorous studies that when individuals talk in close proximity, aerosols dominate transmission and droplets are nearly negligible.

If you are standing on the other side of the room, you would inhale significantly less smoke. But in a poorly ventilated room, the smoke will accumulate, and people in the room may end up inhaling a lot of smoke over time. Talking, and especially singing and shouting increase aerosol exhalation by factors of 10 and 50, respectively. Indeed, we are finding that outbreaks often occur when people gather in crowded, insufficiently ventilated indoor spaces, such as singing at karaoke parties, cheering at clubs, having conversations in bars, and exercising in gyms. Superspreading events, where one person infects many, occur almost exclusively in indoor locations and are driving the pandemic. These observations are easily explained by aerosols, and are very difficult or impossible to explain by droplets or fomites.
—Jose-Luis Jimeez, Professor of Chemistry and a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulde

The killer phrase is here: “many people who share the same home with an infected person do not get the disease.” (emphasis added)

There’s more: We Need to Talk About Ventilation – How is it that six months into a respiratory pandemic, we are still doing so little to mitigate airborne transmission?

And: Hygiene Theater Is a Huge Waste of Time – People are power scrubbing their way to a false sense of security.

Basically, masks are a big help if you have to go out and be around people, washing your hands frequently is also good, but ventilation is more important that scrubbing every inanimate object in sight. Dr. Jimenez sums it up as: Avoid Crowding, Indoors, low Ventilation, Close proximity, long Duration, Unmasked, Talking/singing/Yelling.

So, don’t go to bars, don’t hang out in church, don’t got to concerts, don’t go to theatres… and wear the mask correctly!

Meanwhile…

More Portlanders Share Experiences of Being Snatched—and Detained—by Federal Police.

Feds in Portland Now Unrestrained in Removing Journalists at Protests.

‘Horrifying Situation’: ACLU Condemns Arrest Of Protesters By Officers In Unmarked Vehicles.

If you don’t understand that this is full fascism, direct attacks on the fundamental idea of freedom, I don’t know what to say.

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