Tag Archive | politics

Weekend Update 9/15/2018: Disasters

The Hawaii Department of Transportation reports flooding and debris left by Hurricane Olivia have blocked the  Hana Highway near Hana on the island of Maui. (Hawaii Department of Transportation via AP)

The Hawaii Department of Transportation reports flooding and debris left by Hurricane Olivia have blocked the Hana Highway near Hana on the island of Maui. (Hawaii Department of Transportation via AP)

Horrible weather is lashing the southeastern coast of the nation, but that’s not the only place in the U.S. where hurricanes are causing trouble. A few days ago Hawaii was dealing with a hurricane, but you sure couldn’t tell it from the national news: Olivia fades away from Hawaii, but its moisture still tormenting Hawaiian isles. And that’s not the first hurricane to hit Hawaii this within the last four weeks: Hawaii Begins Massive Cleanup from Hurricane Lane. Again, something the big media outlets barely covered.

© 2018 Ed Hall (click to embiggen)

© 2018 Ed Hall (click to embiggen)

And let’s not forget that a year ago Puerto Rico, which is also part of the United States, was devastated by a hurricane: We Must Push for Better in Puerto Rico Because President Trump Simply Doesn’t Care and Puerto Rico’s road to recovery. And Trump lied about Puerto Rico’s death toll after Hurricane Maria and Trump’s Psychotic Puerto Rico Tweets Erase Human Beings From Existence for Political Gain.

Meanwhile, there is no shortage of news about hurricane Florence, and it is a big deal. People are in danger. It is important: Tropical Storm Florence crawls inland as it batters North and South Carolina and Florence: At least five dead, nearly 1 million without power as storm swamps Carolinas. But even Florence has a political angle: Trump Made It Clear to Virginia That Blue States Now Get Treated Like the Brown People of Puerto Rico:

Virginia’s entire Congressional delegation begged Trump to issue a federal emergency declaration for Virginia, which [as of Tuesday, when this story was publish was] more exposed to the destructive force of the monster hurricane Florence than North Carolina, and is likely to be hit as hard as South Carolina. But initially, Trump only offered emergency declarations for North and South Carolina. He completely ignored Virginia. For many, this omission looked very political. Virginia is now a blue state, as Trump very well knows. By excluding Virginia up until just [Tuesday] afternoon, he sent a clear message of how disasters in the age of climate change will be handled by the emergency government agencies he now controls. If you are a blue state, then he is going to treat you in the same way he treated Puerto Rico (over 4,000 dead, no electricity for a year, etc.). If you are blue, you are as good as brown.

I already mentioned Olivia (which seems to have downgraded to a tropical depression, but can still pack a wallop), but Florence isn’t the only storm looming: Hurricane Florence isn’t alone: Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Olivia, even a typhoon also out there.

Baton down the hatches, and don’t count on any timely help from the feds.

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Of the dead, speak nothing but truth… or, I refuse to whitewash this sepulcher

This was a John McCain campaign ad, approved by him, run by his campaign. Many times. Do not call him the savior of the Affordable Care Act.

This was a John McCain campaign ad, approved by him, run by his campaign. Many times. “Leading the fight to stop Obamacare.” Do not call him the savior of the Affordable Care Act.


Lots of people repeat the very bad translation of an ancient proverb, thinking that it is rude or crass to say anything in the slightest bit negative about someone who has died. But that isn’t what the proverb actually meant in the original language. It didn’t say never say bad things about the dead, what it actually said was, “Of the dead, speak nothing but truth.” Don’t tell lies about the dead, but there is nothing wrong with saying truthful things that are less than flattering.

So, I am not here to say false things about John McCain, I am here to speak truth, a truth that absolutely contradicts most of the stuff people are trying to say about him.

First of all, he was not a maverick. He was not a loose cannon who stood up to President Trump. He said some things that condemned some of Trump’s worst lies and distortions and most hateful statements, and then he turned around and in every case except two, voted in favor of the evil, hateful laws that Trump wanted and the corrupt unqualified people Trump nominated.

And this is something that McCain did for his entire political career. At certain strategic moments he would verbally disagree with some of the most extreme statements of his fellow Republicans, but then nine times out of ten he voted in favor of the very policies that people think he opposed.

As an example of this theme, let’s look at the Affordable Care Act, often called “ObamaCare” (though a more accurate name would be RomenyCare, because it was virtually identical to the health care system that Mitt Romney signed into law when he was governor of Massachusetts). Many people like to focus on McCain’s dramatic vote against the attempted repeal after Trump took office. First, this ignores the more than 50 times that McCain voted to repeal the law during the six years prior to Cadet Bonespur occupying the White House. McCain opposed it when it was initially proposed. He voted to repeal it more than 50 times. He bragged about voting to repeal it. He mentioned his opposition to it in numerous re-election campaign ads. He fundraised for both his re-election campaign and multiple Political Action Committees on his pledge to repeal it. For a bit more than six years McCain was opposed to Obamacare.

There are people who try to spin his decision to switch sides and stop the repeal of Obamacare are the result of newfound compassion due to his own health care crisis. First, is statement when he cast the vote doesn’t support that interpretation. He said he was opposed to repealing it without going through proper hearings about the impact of the repeal.

And think about what was going on. His own constituents (and thousands of other people outside Arizona) were calling his office and begging him to spare their lives. Voters were begging for the health care coverage of their loves ones. They were begging. And they had been for some time. Every time the Republicans had brought up repeal before, the devastating cost, including the tens of thousands of people who would die needlessly because of the repeal in the first few years was explained. They had the facts and figures. They knew what it meant.

And John drew it out dramatically until the last moment, swooping in with maximum press attention to save the day.

It was the moral equivalent of holding a gun to head head of someone’s sick grandmother or child saying, “It would be a shame if something happened to them,” then pulling the gun away at the last moment and saying, “All right, I won’t kill you today.”

And he expected to be treated like a hero for doing not pulling the trigger.

The primary way that a senator influences policy is with their vote. And if you look at John McCain’s voting record, it does not paint a picture of a hero. He opposed gay rights at every opportunity. He voted against adding sexual orientation to the list of protected classes for anti-discrimination laws and hate crimes. He voted against the federal government recognizing civil unions or marriage of queer people if states enacted it. He voted against allowing queer people to service opening in the military. None of those votes makes him a maverick among Republicans. And it shows a clear bias against my rights under the law.

Another way a senator can influence the policy is decided which party to caucus with. No matter what party the senator belongs to or was elected under, they can choose to caucus with either party. Doing so changes who makes decisions about what is voted on and when. If John McCain had truly been opposed to Trump’s policies, he could had caucused with the democrats. It would only have taken three Republican senators doing that to stop most of Trump’s agenda in its tracks. That would have been the actions of an independent-minded senator putting loyalty to the country ahead of party.

He didn’t do that. Despite the fact that many constituents were writing and calling his office and begging him to do so.

John McCain served his country for most of his adult life. He served in the Navy as a pilot during the Vietnam War until he was shot down and capture. He spent a long time in a prisoner of war camp and was tortured. I don’t dispute his service or his patriotism displayed at that time. I’m not one of the crackpots who try to claim he was a war criminal or traitor because of some of his actions to being tortured.

While he had been a prisoner of war, his wife had been in a horrific car accident. She was required 26 surgeries over a six month period to recover. Once she was able to leave the hospital, she needed assistance to walk, but she resumed caring for their three children. Six years after returning from Vietnam, McCain started an affair with a much younger (and wealthy) woman. He divorced his wife, moved to Arizona, married the younger woman, and then started campaigning for Congress. It has always amazed me how the party that embraced the Moral Majority and calls itself the Family Values party embraces men who cheat on their wives, leave those wives for the younger women, and insist that the men are honorable and upstanding men.

Yeah, life is complicated and people are imperfect. I’m not saying that he was a monster. But he wasn’t a hero in his political life. He voted for and enabled racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic policies. He enabled a corrupt and probably treasonous administration to push this country a long way toward being a fascist autocracy. And he wasn’t a hero in his personal life. He was a man. Not a great man, merely a man.

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like unto whitewashed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”
—Matthew 23:27

John McCain giving a thumbs up. The words: “I got my healthcare! Good luck affording yours” over the image.

(click to embiggen)

Three-day Weekend Update: Words and Images

I frequently save memes, cartoons, and the like to use as an illustration for a blog post or Friday Five. I always gather a lot more than I can actually use, so every now and then I share some the I didn’t use.

“Two people you should never trust: A religious leader who tells you how to vote, and a politician who tells you how to pray.”

Very important advice to remember. (Click to embiggen)

“1. 92 year old former President working for free to make the world a better place. 2. A cult leader charging the US $3million a weekend so he can golf.”

Jimmy Carter remains one of my heroes. Even though he lost the re-election, I’m still proud that the first time I voted in a Presidential election it was for Carter. If only he had won that time, the world would be a better place… And in case I’m not being clear, Ronald Reagan pushed the Republican party harder to racism, misogyny, and sectarianism than it had been, setting the stage for Trumpism. (Click to embiggen)

A rich man standing on a literal mountain of money points aa finger accusingliy at a woman on the ground holding a sign the says “Raise the minimum wage.” Rich man is yelling “Your greed is hurting the economy.”

It is truly frightening how not just the rich, but most everyone else, has forgotten that the secret to financial success for a corporation and the nation it inhabits is to insure that the workers can afford to buy all those goods and services the corporations are selling. (Click to embiggen)

Breaking News: Aliens announce this morning that they will NOT pay from Trump's Space Force.

Sometimes the stupidity of Cadet Bonespur is mind boggling… (Click to embiggen)

Cartoon of Trump holding a hammer and standing near Jesus, nailed to a cross. Trump says, “I don't like loser.”

I wish I could be surprised at how thoroughly the religious right has embraced an evil, hateful, lying, cheater traitor. But I grew up in that community, and racism is a fundamental part of that culture. (Click to embiggen)

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”

Speaking of misusing religion… (click to embiggen)

Man holding sign which reads “Southern Hospitality means welcoming immigrants.”

…and so do the teaching so Christ and the underlying principle of the U.S.A. (Click to embiggen)

And to try to end on a more happy note… (Click to embiggen)

Don’t boo! Register to vote, confirm that you’re registered, show up, and vote!

“Your excuse sucks: 1. My vote doesn't matter, 2. I don't have time to vote, 3. Voting is too complicated, 4. Not voting is my way of voting against the system.”

“Your excuse sucks… ” (click to embiggen)

Many years ago, before my state switched to all mail-in voting, I was walking from the bus to my office on a Tuesday morning that happened to y Election Day. And I had walked over to the polling place (two blocks from my place at the time) and voted before I caught my bus to work. My office at the time was in a building that was literally across the street (in different direction) from the offices housing two of the local television stations. And I saw on the sidewalk ahead of me a cameraman and a young woman holding a microphone.

When I got to here, she stepped up and said, “Excuse me, sir, may we ask you a few questions?”

The camera was now pointed at me. I said, “Sure.”

“Did you know there was a primary election today?”

“Yes, of c–” I answered.

She interrupted me. “And did you vote this morning?”

I grinned. “Yes, as a matter of fact, I did.”

“I’m sure you know that many people don’t vote in the primary, sir. Why did you vote? Was there a particular issue on the ballot that drove you to vote today?”

I know that I blinked dumbly at her for a moment before I said. “Um, I always vote. I have never missed a primary, general election, or special election since I was old enough to register. Voting every time is what you’re supposed to do…”

But before I had finished that answer, she had dropped the microphone, turned to the cameraman and made a slashing motion across her throat. “Thank you, sir” she said perfunctorily, and turned her attention to someone else walking down the sidewalk.

Apparently that wasn’t he answer she was looking for.

I was reminded of this story because a lot of people I know are re-tweeting and re-blogging a comment from a blogger who I have frequently quoted before about how important it is to show up and vote. Except he doesn’t quite say it that way. In an earlier draft of this post I quoted him and then picked apart his arguments, but that isn’t really useful.

While it’s true that some demographics show up less consistently to vote, that isn’t the only problem. There are a lot of people pointing fingers at the voters for not showing up, but doing so ignores at least two other major issues:

  • Voters who do show up, but cast their votes for third-party candidates who can’t wint
  • Voters who look at the choices and are appalled that they get to choose between an ultra-conservative and a moderate conservative, so they don’t show up.

Both of these are different aspects of a big blind spot that most people suffer from and that the major media outlets completely ignore: The center is not where anyone pretends it is. The Democratic party is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a liberal party. The two major parties in this country are not sitting at opposite ends of a spectrum. The Republicans, yes, are super, neanderthal-ishly conservative, but the Democrats, are also conservative. Going by voting records, 90-some percent of the elected democrats in congress are more conservative than the majority of the U.S. population on topics of: gun control, health care for all, gay rights, women’s rights, tax policy, Social Security funding, and allowing businesses to discriminate against people for religious reasons.

And the establishment Democratic operation keeps endorsing candidates in that right-of-center realm. Which makes a lot of the natural Democratic base roll their eyes and either not show up, or come to the polls and throw away their votes by voting for third-party candidates.

There have been a number of primaries in various states in the last month or so where unprecedented numbers of Democratic voters are showing up. Some precincts ran out of ballots, so many more people than ever have before showed up! And in a number of these races the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is spending money endorsing a candidate who they think will appeal to the Trump voters. And in a lot of those races, all those extra democratic voters showing up are voting for candidates that actually espouse a few liberal policies. And they’re winning.

I don’t buy the line from the DCCC that those extra voters are picking losers. I think it’s the DCCC that keeps picking losers. Of the excuses I hear from people who either don’t vote and throw their votes away other ways is that they don’t feel they have a real choice. Even in races where the Republicans are fielding a foaming-at-the-mouth racist, and the Democrats are putting up someone who looks middle of the road. And that’s because the middle-of-the-road guy keeps making conciliatory remarks about the blatant racism, et al, of his opponent. And while there actually is a difference between the two, to a lot of folks looking on, it just doesn’t seem that way.

And we’ve been bitten before. The Democrats had solid majorities in both houses of Congress during the first two years of Obama’s presidency, and they didn’t enact any liberal policies. They spent two years begging and pleading with a few slightly less rightwing than Attila the Hun Republicans to get them to support a half-assed watered-down version of a couple of their promised initiatives. Even with more than 70% of the voters approving it, they didn’t even try to repeal Don’t-Ask- Don’t-Tell (allowing queer people to serve openly in the military) until the lame duck session after they lost their majority in the first midterm.

Yes, I agree with the blogger I alluded to above that it is on us to show up and vote. It’s on us to encourage others to show up and vote. But one of the ways we can encourage them to do that, is to give them candidates they actually believe in.

I’m looking at races this week where the milquetoast right-of-center candidate backed by the establishment Dems lost to a left-of-center candidate who enunciated some progressive ideas. I’m noticing that those are the races where people are turning out. I’m noticing that turn out is typical or less than typical in races where the only choices progressive voters are getting is several right-of-center safe bets.

That’s why, after a rather long discussion with a poor schmuck working the phone bank for the DCCC trying to convince me to increase my monthly donation to the DCCC because taking back the House is important, that I stopped my monthly donation to the DCCC, and increased the amount I’m giving every month to Run For Something and Let America Vote. And I’m going to keep picking actual progressive candidates to donate to directly.

And don’t bark at me about showing up. I’ve been showing up at Primary and General Election since 1978. Every one. I confess that I have missed about three Special Elections that happened way off-cycle in that time.

Now, we just need to get the rest of the liberals to do the same.

You fight it on the ground: register, remind people to vote, help them get to the polls, and be ready to challenge voter suppression

“Republican Logic: It is wrong for two adults of the same sex to get married; but it's ok for a child molester to become a Senator.”

“Republican Logic: It is wrong for two adults of the same sex to get married; but it’s ok for a child molester to become a Senator.”

I tried to avoid the news last night, because I didn’t want to relive the horror of last year’s election night. So many polls showed that it was either too close to call or that the Republican twice-ousted judge who molested teen-age girls, wants to “outlaw” queers (not just take marriage equality back, but also to make it a criminal offense for us to be gay), wants to bring back slavery, wants to repeal the parts of the constitution giving voting rights to people of color and to women, wants to ban muslims from public office, insists that only Christians are have civil rights was actually leading in the race. Republicans were so fixated on retaining their two-vote majority in the U.S. Senate that some of them said that while they believed the allegations of sexual misconduct, they were still going to vote for him. Evangelical leaders were saying that they were going to vote for him!

But later in the evening, I peeked at my main twitter feed. And then I went the FiveThirtyEight.com’s live coverage. I skimmed through their updates (and wonky math-y talk about polls and margins). When I reached the point when they were calling it for the Democrat, Doug Jones—calling it with a margin large enough to avoid a recount!—I started crying.

A lot of people are going to try to say that this is only because of Moore’s sexual scandal. And while it was a big factor, I think this win in a deeply red state with a well-documented history of suppressing the vote of African Americans and other demographics believed to favor Democrats is a sign. So, how did they do it?

Once a Long Shot, Democrat Doug Jones Wins Alabama Senate Race

Propelled by a backlash against Mr. Moore, an intensely polarizing former judge who was accused of sexually assaulting young girls, Mr. Jones overcame the state’s daunting demographics and deep cultural conservatism. His campaign targeted African-American voters with a sprawling, muscular turnout operation, and appealed to educated white voters to turn their backs on the Republican Party.

Jones does marathon get-out-the-vote effort while Moore is quiet

“We’re trying to work all angles,” said Patricia Mokola, spokeswoman for the Alabama NAACP. “We’re trying to reach not only African Americans, we’re trying to reach millennials as well. They will be instrumental in this election … We’re not telling people who to vote for, but their vote is their power.

Rallies, leafleting and door knocking all part of effort to urge voters to cast ballots in Alabama Senate race

“We have got to find a way to come together, and we need leaders that are not going to divide us, and separate us, and cut us up, and dissect us, and stand in judgment over some, and lord over others,” [New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory] Booker said at a canvass kick-off in Birmingham on Sunday. “We need someone that is going to remind us of the calling of patriotism, the calling to love, and so this is the moment now. There are consequential moments in our American history, and this is one of them.

How Doug Jones beat Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race

Jones’ victory is all the more remarkable in that it didn’t rely on many Republicans defecting to the Democratic side. Less than one in 10 Republicans crossed party lines to vote for Jones. But Democrats – who overwhelmingly favored Jones – came out in stronger numbers, trailing Republicans in vote share by just six percentage points. And Independents – who make up just one in five voters in this highly partisan race – also favored Jones by nine points: 52 percent to 43 percent.

They mounted a massive get-out-the-vote campaign and sustained it for months. They registered people to vote. They put out leaflets everywhere reminding people when election day was. They called. They went door-to-door. The campaign spent a lot less on TV ads and more putting up billboards in neighborhoods that had lower turnout in the 2016 general election. They funded programs to give people rides to their polling places. They put out information on social media, pamphlets, posters, and signs explaining what kind of ID you need to have to vote, and a phone number to call if a poll worker refused to let you vote. They had observers at polling places. They had teams and lawyers available to respond to those voter suppression issues at the polling places.

Exit polling showed that white voters overwhelming went for the pedophile, but they also showed that Trump’s approval rating even among them has gone way down, and their enthusiasm for the candidate they voted for was lukewarm. Meanwhile, the African American vote (especially women) overwhelming went to the Democrat. And because of the way that the state has reduced the number of polling places in Black communities, and reduced the number of voting machines at those few polling places, it means that those African American voters were more likely to have to stand in line for hours and hours just to vote—and they did!

The ground game—registering voters, reminding them when election day is, reminding them what they have to do to vote, offering them rides, and so on—is how we got results in leaning-blue Virginia, and it’s how we won in deeply-red Alabama. It’s the new strategy of the Democratic National Committee. It’s not the way they fought in 2016. One of the journalists I saw tweeting about this last night summed it up: less money on TV ads, more money to help people vote.

That’s a strategy that can turn the midterm elections.

We can do it! We can do it!

Weekend Update 9/17/2017: Juggalos, Hillary book signing both outnumber Trump “mother of all rallies”

Trump supposts be like: Black football players kneeling during national anthem? Offensive! Woman protested Trump? Offensive! Holiday Starbucks cups without the word Christmas? Offense! People marching with Nazi flags, Nazi salutes, shouting genocidal/racist Nazi slogans? Free Speech!

Click to embiggen)

So Trump supporters have been organizing a so-called Mother Of All Rallies online for some time, and yesterday was the day. They have boasted, variously, that they had hundreds of thousands of confirmed attendees, or over a million confirmed attendees, et cetera. And how many people showed up? “Hundreds.” They couldn’t even get enough to fill a suburban high school football stadium! Pro-Trump rally draws hundreds, not thousands to Washington.

But just a few blocks away there was a bigger rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial: Pro-Trump Rally Dwarfed By ‘Juggalo’ Demonstration In D.C.. So fans of Insane Clown Posse were able to muster a much bigger crowd the the Make America Great Again people. But it gets worse! On the same day, Hillary Clinton was doing a book signing at a Costco in Brookfield, Connecticut.. guess what? Hillary Clinton Book-Signing Draws More Than 1,000 To Brookfield Costco. Hillary’s book signings are drawing larger crowds that the Trump supporters can muster!

Some folks are pointing to the news stories about former Trump supporters burning their Make America Great Again hats and this rally as indicating his support is slipping among his hardcore. I’m not sure that’s anywhere near the whole story. I think another important part is just how many fake accounts (twitterbots and such) make up the online Trump supporter crowd: Trump Twitter bots, numbering in millions, could be used to blanket internet with weaponized false info (by the way, that headline should read “is already being used to” not could be). A similar problem exists on Facebook, though because of some of the company’s policies, it’s a lot harder to determine just how many fake Americans Russian hackers manufactured to spread fake news and amp up membership on Pro-Trump pages: The Fake Americans Russia Created to Influence the Election. So I think one reason the organizers were expecting bigger crowds is they just haven’t figured out how many of their supportors online are fake accounts.

Besides, the Trump supporters burning their hats? They’re doing it for very racist reasons: Trump Supporters Are Burning Their MAGA Hats: They’re not happy about his prospective deal with Democrats to protect DACA recipients. That’s right, the hardcore supporters are angry because undocumented people who were brought to this country as children might, might be given a path to citizenship. You know, that thing the Trump supporter keep angrily asking why the Dreamers and such haven’t already done (because legally they still can’t)?

One more thing: all of those supporters burning those hats? They may want to think about the little American flag on that thing: I Wonder If Angry, MAGA Hat-Burning Trump Supporters Know They’re Burning a Tiny American Flag, Too. Since the pro-trump/anti-semetic/pro-gun demographic (i.e., most of his supporters) is also historically the same people who scream bloody murder if someone burns a U.S. flag as a protest.

But then, you can’t expect consistency from people who define the Statue of Liberty as a non-patriotic symbol, and reduce Christianity to hating queers.

I Didn’t Vote for Trump Because He Was Clearly Unfit for Office—and Still Is

“Who would ahve guessed that a reality TV star with NO government experience, 6 bankruptices, 5 kids from 3 different marriages, 11 charges of sexual assault, and 4,000+ lawsuits could Possiblby Be So BAD at Being President?”

“Who would ahve guessed that a reality TV star with NO government experience, 6 bankruptices, 5 kids from 3 different marriages, 11 charges of sexual assault, and 4,000+ lawsuits could Possiblby Be So BAD at Being President?”

I am really getting tired of seeing headlines about Trump voters who are having buyer’s remorse. And I am absolutely disgusted that we still keep seeing headlines and op-eds urging us to try to sympathize with his voters. We already have plenty of proof that the thing his voters have in common is bigotry. Poor and working class people overwhelming voted against Trump. So stop trying to make a case that people flocked to him because of financial distress.

The Paradox of Tolerance

The Paradox of Tolerance (click to embiggen)

I’m also really tired of bigots and their apologists trying to argue that any criticism of their hatred and bigotry proves we’re just as intolerant as they are. It’s not a new argument by any means. I’ve had people throwing that one at me personally since the 70s, and it’s been around a lot longer than that. Karl Popper called it the Paradox of Tolerance: that the only way to have a tolerant society is not to tolerate the intolerant.

And this isn’t even every anti-gay thing Donald did during the first seven months of his presidency. (Click to embiggen)

It’s a false equivalency, in any case. Let’s look for a moment at the transgender bothroom bills as an example. The bigots who push the bills make a lot of noise about sexual assault (despite the fact that many states have had laws allowing transgender people to use the bathroom the matches their gender identity and there as never been a single case of someone using the law to try to commit assault), or the religious freedom argument. But all of that is just smoke and mirrors. Look at the actual impact of the laws banning transgender people from using a public bathroom that matches their identity. The practical upshot is that under such laws, transgender people cannot safely use any public bathroom. At all. If they try to go into the bathroom that matches their gender presentation, they are violating the law and risk arrest. If they try to go into the bathroom that matches their gender assigned at birth, particularly if they don’t look like they belong there, they risk being harassed, beaten, and worse. The effect of the law is to make it impossible for transgender people to exist in public places, work places, and so forth. And that isn’t an unintended consequence. The people pushing the laws don’t think transgender people have a right to exist at all.

What’s another word for “you don’t have the legal right to exist”? Genocide. Murder. Take your pick.

But what is the other side of this debate? The other side is saying that transgender people have the right to exist, and therefore other people can’t force them out of existence with the power of the law. The other side is not saying that people who wish transgender people didn’t exist are themselves subject to execution. It simply says that they have to let the other people exist. The bigots aren’t going to be assaulted for thinking unpleasant things about some of their neighbors. The only penalties they will face depend on their actions, not on their mere existence. Yes, if they state their opinions, they might get called a bigot. If they try to act on their opinions, they may face other penalties. But no one is saying they don’t have a right to exist.

Donald’s campaign promises consisted of contradictory statements and a boatload of racist and other bigoted dog-whistles. He didn’t just appeal to the intolerant, he promised that if they acted on their intolerance he would help them get away with it (what do you think the real message of that “I’ll pay your legal bills” was?). It is no accident that certain types of hate crimes went up after his election. It is no accident that some of these hateful people, when they assaulted (or attempted to assault) people of color or queer people and so forth, shouted things like “this is Trump’s country now!”

Besides being unfit for office, Donald campaigned on hate and implied genocide. It isn’t just ludicrous to ask people to empathize with his supporters, it’s suicidal for a free society to do so. So stop giving us those headlines.

“The Five Stages of Trumpism: 1) It's a total lie, never happened, fake news. 2) It happened, but it's not a big deal. 3) OK< if might be a big deal, but it isn't illegal. 4) Okay it's illegal, but Hillary and Obama something-something, so it's okay. 5) Get over it, libturd, your just a sore loser.”

“The Five Stages of Trumpism: 1) It’s a total lie, never happened, fake news. 2) It happened, but it’s not a big deal. 3) OK< if might be a big deal, but it isn't illegal. 4) Okay it's illegal, but Hillary and Obama something-something, so it's okay. 5) Get over it, libturd, your just a sore loser.”

Weekend Update 5/13/2017: Pictures and words

I keep saving various images to possibly use to illustrate a Friday Links post or a political commentary, then wind up using only a fraction of them. We have another busy weekend of hauling things to Value Village and cleaning out the old place, so no time to do much writing or commenting on anything that’s happened since I put together this week’s roundup of links, so, here are some of my recently collected images/memes/what-have-you:

“I hate when I wake up in the morning & Donald Trump is still president”

“I hate when I wake up in the morning & Donald Trump is still president”

“TrumpCare: Pay more for less; 24 million lose insurance; 'Age Tax' for older Americans; Guts Medicaid; Huge tax cuts for millionaires”

“TrumpCare: Pay more for less; 24 million lose insurance; ‘Age Tax’ for older Americans; Guts Medicaid; Huge tax cuts for millionaires”

Nixon is no longer the most corrupt President in our history. Dubya is no longer the dumbest President in our history. Trump stole both titles in only 110 days.

Nixon is no longer the most corrupt President in our history. Dubya is no longer the dumbest President in our history. Trump stole both titles in only 110 days.

Number of times each has been accused of sexual assault: Trump 14, O'Reilly 7, Ailes more than 20 times, Obama 0 (zero)!

Number of times each has been accused of sexual assault/harassment: Trump 14, O’Reilly 7, Ailes more than 20 times, Obama 0 (zero)!

“We had a choice between a woman who is the most qualified candidate ever to seek the presidency and a man who boasted about being a serial sex abuser, and some people still want to debate if sexism played a role in the election.”

“We had a choice between a woman who is the most qualified candidate ever to seek the presidency and a man who boasted about being a serial sex abuser, and some people still want to debate if sexism played a role in the election.”

“This man launched his campaign by demeaning Mexicans; spent his entire campaign using racist dog whistles; promised policies to harm refugees, immigrants, and citizens who are people of color; and some people still want to debate whether racism played a role in the election.”

“This man launched his campaign by demeaning Mexicans; spent his entire campaign using racist dog whistles; promised policies to harm refugees, immigrants, and citizens who are people of color; and some people still want to debate whether racism played a role in the election.”

“This infamous nemesis of the LGBT community was chosen as Trump's running mate, and people still want to debate whether homophobia and transphobia played a role in the election.”

“This infamous nemesis of the LGBT community was chosen as Trump’s running mate, and people still want to debate whether homophobia and transphobia played a role in the election.”

“The problem with (some) christians: That they think they are bing that guy (points to Jesus being lashed and tortured) whilst behaving like those guys (points to the roman soldiers beating Jesus).”

“The problem with (some) christians: That they think they are bing that guy (points to Jesus being lashed and tortured) whilst behaving like those guys (points to the roman soldiers beating Jesus).”

“A bunch of snowflakes = an avalanche” and “Make hate wrong again”

“A bunch of snowflakes = an avalanche” and “Make hate wrong again”

“We fight today for a better tomorrow.”

“We fight today for a better tomorrow.”

“You’re not going to believe someone like that, are you?”

About a month ago a political scandal reared its head in Seattle. An anonymous man filed a lawsuit against Mayor Ed Murray—our fist openly gay mayor, a man who served many years in the state legislature as an openly gay man—alleging that decades ago when the plaintiff was 15 years old, Murray had paid him for sex. Because of the age of the plaintiff at time, if the allegations are true, it would have been consider sexual assault, child rape, et cetera because the younger man was below the age of consent.

It was difficult to know how to respond to the allegations. The lawsuit was filed just six weeks before the filing deadline to run for mayor. The law firm representing the plaintiff is headed by a notorious anti-gay activitist. False accusations of sexual predation on underaged boys are lodged against gay men all the time. The lawyer handling the case has since behaved as if this is a crazy PR stunt rather than a case. For example, going online on local news sites to make long and very unlawyerly comments on stories about the case, or filing “motions” with the court that have nothing to do with the case but contain long press release-style recounting a of rumors about odd things that have happened around the mayor.

Three more accusers have stepped forward, two of whom had tried to make similar allegations some years ago, but were unable to convince police in Portland, Oregon in 1984 to file charges, and more recently even the local Republican-leaning paper felt there wasn’t enough evidence to print their story of being abused in a group home where Murray worked in the 80s. The paper rushed to publish the 9-year-old interviews as soon of the law suit was filed.

To be clear, among the reasons I leaned toward thinking the allegations are probably false is that in 1984 police in Portland, Oregon were not exactly known for being pro-gay, neither was the Multnomah County Prosecutor. At the time, Murray was an openly gay man with a degree in Sociology working with troubled youth. Not exactly the sort of person you would expect the police or prosecutors to go easy on in regards to charges of child rape. That led me to think that in the 1984 investigation it wasn’t merely a lack of corroborating evidence, but that there was actually evidence refuting the charges.

On the other hand, my own experience of surviving physical and emotional abuse from a parent, and how people didn’t believe me (even people who witnessed some of the abuse), as well as the many accounts of survivors of various kinds of abuse whose allegations are dismissed out of hand, the stastistics about rape victims being disbelieved, and so forth, made me reluctant to leap to the conclusion that the allegations were false.

But then there was the way Murray chose to defend himself. Rather than simply deny the allegations and say that he was looking forward to his day in court (the statute of limitations for criminal charges is long past, so it’s a civil lawsuit), Murray and his lawyer initially attacked the two non-anonymous accusers for their criminal records and drug histories. He suggested that the lawsuit was being filed for political purposes, and questioned why the plaintif was suing anonymously and waited so long to file.

Attacking the credibility of accusors is a classic abuser tactic. It doesn’t prove that Murray did it, but if he was able to dispel the scandal this way, it would have a chilling effect on abuse survivors who have less-than-perfect pasts.

The original plaintif then revealed his identity and explained that he had remained quiet all of these years because he didn’t want his father to know that he had worked as a prostitute during his teen years. His father having recently passed away, the plaintiff felt free to come forward now.

Certainly the attorney’s odd behavior (which has actually provoked sanctions from the judge) makes one wonder what his motives are for taking this case on contingency. Murray isn’t fabulously wealthy, so I’m not sure any judgement earned is going to justify the months of work the lawyer will undertake between now and the trial date (scheduled for next year). Since the initial filing of the case came off as a mini media circus, he clearly wasn’t hoping for a quick settlement to make the scandal go away. But no matter how impure the lawyer’s motives may be, it doesn’t mean the underlying allegations are false.

The four men in question have far from spotless records. But the other thing they have in common is that all four were, as teens, in very bad situations. It isn’t unexpected that coming from such a background they would find themselves turning to crime and drugs just to get by. And it is very difficult to break out of such a cycle once it is started. Vulnerable people, particular vulnerable teens, are exactly the sorts of victims certain types of abusers seek out, precisely because “respectable” people are disinclined to believe them.

On yet another hand, Murray is notoriously thin-skinned. He’s infamous for shouting at people who disagree with him, not to mention shouting at his own staff members when things don’t go his way. That means he’s exactly the sort of person who, if he is innocent of the charges, would react by attacking his accusers. But routinely shouting at people who work for you is also indicative of a particular kind of abusive person…

Fortunately, many prominent people were willing to make public statements about how the Mayor’s defense tactics cast a chilling effect on abuse victims and rape victims and so forth. The calls for him to at least drop his re-election campaign all focused on that, leaving the truth or faleshood of the allegations for a jury. So, yesterday he announced that he won’t seek re-election, though he plans to serve out his term.

If the allegations are false, it is sad that a man who has devoted so much of his life to furthering the cause of civil rights for queer people has had his career ended by them. If the allegations are true, it’s sad that his victims weren’t believed and that they felt unable to come forward publicly sooner. And it’s going to be infuriating when (not if) the usual anti-gay a-holes use this as an example that queer people are evil.

I hope the charges aren’t true, but if they are, I hope that a jury figures that out and that at least some form of justice is served. Because everyone, no matter their class, status, or past, deserves justice.

Weekend Update 2/11/2017: Cookies and retail realities

“Remember, sex is like a Chinese dinner. It ain't over 'til you both get yours cookie.” —Alec Baldwin

“Remember, sex is like a Chinese dinner. It ain’t over ’til you both get yours cookie.” —Alec Baldwin

I’m not terribly happy with yesterday’s edition of Friday Links. The biggest problem is that once work’s craziness ramped up midweek, I had neither the time nor energy to do my usual news reading. The only reason there were as many links as there were is because I spent several hours in a couple of waiting rooms on Tuesday while my hubby was getting tests run and consulting for an upcoming medical procedure. I had planned to spend the time writing, but I couldn’t concentrate when I tried to write. Surfing and reading was a lot easier.

I have been trying, since Inauguration week, not to let all the bad news related to Republicans, the neo-Nazi regime, and so forth dominate the links. But since my time was unevenly distributed throughout the week (and I was exhausted after each of my 10+ hour work days), I didn’t devote my usual time to specifically looking for cool links on other topics. Unfortunately today’s update ain’t gonna completely make up for that.

But! We do start out with something funny: Jezebel Investigates: How Are These Cookies Fucking?. Some organization promoting safe sex sent out cookies that seem to depict a pair of people having sex. But the author of the blog noticed that the position doesn’t look possible, let along comfortable. There’s a series of pictures as she draws the possible pieces of furniture that might be involved to get the couple into the position. It’s silly, but fun!

Some hopeful or uplifting news I missed this week: North Carolina governor: Repeal HB2 or we lose NCAA events for six years. And in North Dakota: Anti-discrimination bill fails again. And from the NFL: NFL warns Texas over “bathroom bill”: No Super Bowl for you!. People who want to restrict gay rights will argue that actions by groups like the National Collegiate Athletic Association and National Football League are unfair, or are imposing some sort of correctness, and so forth. But the truth is, it’s simply good business. I can cite polls taken all throughout last year showing that more than 60% of the U.S. population supports marriage equality, and a higher percentage disapprove of discrimination against queer people. But it’s even better than that: Poll: Majority of Religious Americans Support Gay Marriage.

“According to the poll, 42 percent of white evangelicals said they oppose allowing business to refuse services. Fifty-two percent of Mormons, 53 percent of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 60 percent of Muslims, 63 percent of Hispanic Catholics, and 72 percent of Jews said they are against allowing small business the right to refuse services.”

So a majority of white evangelicals are still opposed to protecting our rights, but look at those other groups. Also, even among the white evangelicals, 42% oppose allowing businesses to discriminate against us! Groups and businesses such as the NFL are simply responding to the free market. They risk offending more customers and potential customers by remaining silent or supporting discrimination, than they do opposing it.

screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-3-21-31-pmUnderstanding retail realities fit into another story I didn’t link to this week: Donald got angry when the Nordstrom chain of stores decided to drop Ivanka Trumps line of apparel. Donald’s anger didn’t quite have its intended effect: After Donald Trump’s angry tweet, Nordstrom stock goes up. I’m going out on a limb here and thinking that stock investors aren’t doing this just to irritate Donald. And we’ll come back to that, but let’s look at what has come to light about the retail chain’s decision since the angry tweet: Wall Street Journal: Internal Nordstrom Data Show Sales Decline for Ivanka Trump Brand. The article says a 32% fall for the year, but other data indicates that it’s even worse, with a 63% drop year-over-year during the final three months of the year. And there’s more: Nordstrom Isn’t the Only Retailer Where Ivanka Trump Sales Are Tanking.

So it is clearly a business decision. Some of our allies are trying to take credit because there has been an organized #GrabYouWallet movement which started out as a few women angry about the “grab ’em by the pussy” tape last fall started asking people to boycott places that sold merchandise for Donald and his family. And it is certainly possible that the letters to the retailer influenced their decision. I think it is more likely that the information the #GrabYourWallet people shared, including about the shady business details involved in those clothing lines, contributed to the accelerated drop in sales (which had already been declining since at least the beginning of 2016).

And those sales were falling for non-political reasons: The Real Problem With Ivanka Trump’s Clothes, According to One Epic Tweetstorm. The tweet storm by Tribune Media Senior Editor Megan Carpentier, includes links to some business journal articles showing why several clothing lines, not just Ivanka’s, have been losing sales.

“This slate of mega-retailers has long been among the prime draws to the mall for middle-class women, offering apparel that they could easily mix and match into outfits for client meetings, kiddie birthday parties or date nights. But lately, they can’t seem to design clothes that women want to buy. In other words, people think their clothes are ugly.” —Washington Post article

And then Carpentier gives examples of how Ivanka Trump’s line has veered into even worse territory than the other brands. You need to go look just for some of the pictures!

Anyway, it’s hilarious that once again folks on the right are angry about businesses responding to the free market. I think Wall Street investors realize that a retail chain dropping an unprofitable line shows good business sense. And also, knowing how much positive publicity the chain is generating on social media for standing up to bullying can’t be bad for the store’s image!

A couple more things. The always clever and hard-worker Alvin McEwen over from Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters has a nice op-ed up: Your Religious Liberty Doesn’t Give You The Right To Steal My Queer Tax Dollars. And this looks like it may be an interesting book: How I escaped being a right-wing extremist.

And let’s close with a music video! Goldfrapp – Anymore (Official Video):

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

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