Tag Archive | religious right

Tuesday Tidbits 6/2/2020: Pride begins in an actual police state

Trump delivers horrifying White House address as police unleash on protesters nearby.

President Donald Trump on Monday evening called for law enforcement across the country to dominate the ongoing protests and riots in response to the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police. The dark and authoritarian message delivered from Rose Garden was sharply juxtaposed on cable news with images of peaceful protesters just outside the White House gates who were fired on by police with tear gas.

The president threatened to send the military into the streets if the unrest could not be quelled by other means.

Between the alleged president’s fascist proclamations and the curfews and related emergency orders from mayors and governors everyone who isn’t a diehard trump supporter/neo-nazi (as if there is a difference) has lost the legal right to protest. I am not exaggerating.

Trump needed photo op. Peaceful protesters at White House paid the price in tear gas, rubber bullets.

The real reason Trump went to St. John’s Church.

“Sources are telling my colleague Kevin Liptak that, in part, the reason the president made this trip outside the gates of the White House — a really rare trip, where you do not often see the president walk out of the front door of the White House, walk across Lafayette Square, to St. John’s — was driven, in part, that he was upset by coverage of the fact that he had been rushed to the underground bunker on Friday night during the protests that you saw breaking out here, in front of the White House,” CNN’s Kaitlan Collins said.

Trump Tells Governors They’ll Look Like ‘Jerks’ and ‘Fools’, Says He’ll Arrest ‘Thousands of People’, Suggests Jailing Protesters for 10 Years: ‘You Have to Dominate’.

Ivanka sends Pride tweet as Trump gasses peaceful protesters for publicity photo at church- Responses to the tweet from the LGBTQ community and celebrities ranged from outrage to disgust. Um, happy Pride month??

For as long as I can remember, columnist/pundit George Will has been an arch-conservative who argued against my own rights and against everything I believe. The last couple of years as he slowly came out as a never-trumper I have occasionally found myself at least partially agreeing with him. I am more than a little bit dizzy to read this piece from him where he finally comes up fully anti-trump, anti-neo-nazi and recognizing that that means become anti-republican: George Will: There is no such thing as rock bottom for Trump. Assume the worst is yet to come.

The Protests for George Floyd’s Killing Turned Into a Police Riot. This is not, by any means, the first time that riots have turned out to have been caused by the cops, rather than the protestors.

“You only gave us rights because we gave you riots. Queer Power”

“You only gave us rights because we gave you riots. Queer Power” (Click to embiggen)

Most of this last weekend’s update was concerned with the protests. But not all. I posted a link about the death of an infamous homophobe who shaped anti-gay attitudes and legislation for several decades. Another blogger was even more blunt that I was: Lou Sheldon was an evil, homophobic SOB and I hated his guts.

Alvin McEwen of Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters has spent many years exposing the lies and distortions of various anti-gay hate groups. And his take on Sheldon’s death did not disappoint:

Lou Sheldon was an evil homophobic son of a bitch. His rhetoric mutilated our minds while encouraging others to mutilate our bodies. With him, there was no nonsense about wanting to save our souls or loving the sinner while hating the sin. Lou Sheldon HATED LGBTQ people. And he made it his life’s work to disrupt our lives and cause us as much turmoil as he possibly could.

I kind of wish I had been this blunt on Saturday.

Meanwhile, we passed that horrific milestone of 100,000 dead due to the corona virus some days ago. It’s difficult to know how to wrap our minds around such a thing. The New York Times approached it this way:

The New York Times has gathered 100 obituaries of people who have died from Covid-19 as an attempt to wrestle with the magnitude of 100,000 Americans dead.

The New York Times has gathered 100 obituaries of people who have died from Covid-19 as an attempt to wrestle with the magnitude of 100,000 Americans dead. Click on the image to be taken to the page. The Times is making all their Covid-19 coverage available free.

Back to the protests and what they mean:

‘America’s moment of reckoning’: Cornel West calls nationwide uprising a sign of ’empire imploding’.

I Was the Mayor of Minneapolis and I Know Our Cops Have a Problem – Racism permeated the culture of the department. But there are ways to change that culture that other cities can copy.

Biden: Trump ‘consumed’ by ego, not leading during crisis.

“‘I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.’ George Floyd’s last words. But they didn’t die with him. They’re still being heard. They’re echoing across this nation,” Biden said.

“They speak to a nation where too often just the color of your skin puts your life at risk. They speak to a nation where more than 100,000 people have lost their lives to a virus and 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment — with a disproportionate number of these deaths and job losses concentrated in the black and minority communities. And they speak to a nation where every day millions of people — not at the moment of losing their life — but in the course of living their life — are saying to themselves, ‘I can’t breathe.'”
—presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden

Tuesday Tidbits 5/26/2020: Willing to kill…?

I had a fairly busy weekend, so no time to do a Weekend Update post. So here are some news links to stories that either broke after I made this week’s Friday Five, or are further developments on stories previously commented upon, or didn’t make the cut for the Friday Five but I wanted to make some comments…

Mugshots of two of the men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, “Remember, they weren't arrested because cops saw the tapes. The were arrested because we saw the tapes.”

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The shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery: A timeline of a case that’s gripping the nation: it took over two months for the white men who killed him — Gregory McMichael, and his son, Travis McMichael — to be arrested.

Man who recorded the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery has been arrested, GBI says.

FBI investigating Ahmaud Arbery shooting as possible hate crime, lawyer says – Attorney for family of black jogger shot by white men says federal authorities are looking into prosecutors and police in case.

Justice delayed is justice denied. Was Ahmaud Arbery killed for ‘jogging while black’? The answer is an emphatic yes.

I’m not sure what else to say. That it took the leaked video of one the murderers’ co-conspirator being seen by the public to get a prosecutor to look at the case? Right. Anyone who thinks America is a post-racist society has their head stuck up something…

Not protestors, Domestic Terrorists - Vanilla ISIS.

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Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear hanged in effigy as Second Amendment supporters protest coronavirus restrictions.

Husband Of Reopen NC Leader Says He’s ‘Willing To Kill’ To Stop ‘New World Order’. Also, insists he’s not a terrorist.

Threatening to kill people if they don’t do as you say—threatening to kill anyone you perceive has not doing as you say—is the very definition of terrorism. Y’all aren’t heroes. You’re not patriots. You’re certainly not Christian…

NC Coronavirus Hospitalizations At New High On Memorial Day – On the same day, a group demanding an end to pandemic restrictions planned protests throughout the state.

How many times do we have to say it: the restrictions aren’t what tanked the economy. It’s the fact that we’ve built the economy on a need for a lot of people to work themselves to the bone to keep things going, and that as soon as a significant fraction of the population cuts back on certain types of spending, everything collapses.

And saying, “People who are afraid of getting infected can just stay home. The rest of us want to be able to go to a restaurant or get our hair cut.” Just proves that you don’t think service industry workers are people. Because if there isn’t a shut down and there isn’t unemployment to cover them, then they have no choice but to risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones just so you can have your dang hot wings.

Conspiracy theorists, far-right extremists around the world seize on the pandemic- Civil rights advocates have warned for months that the coronavirus could aid recruiting for the most extreme white-supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.

Child looking incredulous, “So, me wearing a bulletproof backpack to school with metal detectors, armed guards, and routine mass-shooter drills is 'the price of freedom'... but you wearing a mask in Walmart fo 10 minutes is 'tyranny'? ”

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CDC: Arkansas coronavirus outbreak linked to church services .

Georgia church closes two weeks after reopening as families come down with coronavirus.

More COVID-19 cases linked to California church services.

I can’t even…

In fairness, I want to point out that it isn’t just Americans who are capable of this level of stupidity: 107 COVID Cases Have Been Traced Back to One Church Service in Germany.

“Too many headlines begin with the phrases, 'Pastor Arrested...' 'Youth Pastor Charged with...', 'Pastor Pleads Guilty...'”

 
Youth pastor claims he was kidnapped by black men to avoid admitting why he was in a hotel room – After his wild claim made it to social media, local news investigated the racist tale and the now-unemployed pastor admitted the truth.

Former Abilene youth pastor wanted by U.S. Marshals arrested in Mexico.

Inola Pastor Arrested, Accused Of Sexually Assaulting 3 Young Girls.

This is an old, old topic I’ve written about many times. Human institutions of all kinds have a terrible habit of protecting people in power and enabling abusing behavior. But there is something particularly insidious about how that manifests in churches. Particularly in how often the pastor or other leader who has abused other people is embraced and offered forgiveness almost before they ask for it, and how their victims are treated as if they are the offenders. And this next story illustrates that:

One Youth Pastor After Another Sexually Abused Kids at This California Church. It’s in the news because civil lawsuits have been filed. But the killer detail is how in 1983, when a 13-year-old boy explained how the youth pastor had sexually assaulted him, it wasn’t just that the church leadership decided not to punish the youth pastor, but they contacted the police and reported the boy for making a false accusation! And the first reaction of the police was to grill the boy about his own sexual desires…

That’s the fucked up world many of us grew up in.

Weekend Update 5/16/2020: This is not about freedom

“Does everyone grasp that 'reopen the economy' means keep poor people from collecting unemployment? And 'work sick or lose your job'? This in not about freedom.”

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Time for another post with stories that either didn’t make the cut for this week’s Friday Five, or that broke after I completed the Friday Five post, or update a news story/event that I have commented upon in an earlier post. And as usual, I’m going to have more to say about these things than the typical amount of commentary in the Friday Five.

Before we get into all of that, I just want to share that this morning after my usual coughing and sneezing (we’re in peak hay fever season, here) I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my husband had already started the ribs cooking for tonight’s dinner. He makes his own rub for pork ribs and slow cooks them. So when my sinuses temporarily clear, I was flooded with the most amazing scents! My husband is awesome!

All right, let’s jump in to the other stuff:

We saw this coming. Covidiot New York Barber Cutting Hair ‘illicitly’ During Lockdown Tests Positive For COVID . Now, I want to make it clear, I don’t think this is ‘just desserts’, and I’m not cheering the fact that this guy has gotten this disease which is far, far worse than the flu. (See the story I linked to yesterday of the body builder who spent 6 weeks on a ventilator if you don’t understand). There are multiple tragedies here: 1) the guy is an idiot, yes, but his idiocy has been caused, enabled, and cheered on by a bunch of people in the rightwing media and politics who are themselves taking the very precautions they are urging others to protest, 2) if he tested positive, that means a number of his customers during this time who came in for the illicit haircuts got infected while there.

And the idiot minority (egged on by slightly less idiotic people whose wealth and privilege allow them to avoid some of the danger) are making decisions based in part on not comprehending the slow incubation period. And that outcomes are still difficult to predict. COVID-19: Daily growth rate slowing in Nebraska, but deaths per day rising. And of course, Editorial: Wisconsin politicians, court failed to protect public good.

And those supposedly slowing growth rates, well, they’re mostly meaningless because we aren’t testing enough to know how much of the population in any area actually has it: Most US states fall short of recommended testing levels – Coronavirus outbreaks are testing public health networks and the resolve of planners to reopen from pandemic shutdowns.

“I'm still amazed that 'protect the unborn' turned into 'kill your grandparents' in a matter of 6 weeks because people wanted a haircut.”

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And I repeat, that this is not like the flu! It’s not just lungs: Covid-19 may damage the heart, brain, and kidneys. Damage your body likely never will recover from completely. And again, it isn’t just old people or people with pre-existing conditions (as if letting those people die isn’t super immoral on its own). COVID-19 inducing strokes in young people. COVID-19 can cause some young children to have a fatal inflammatory syndrome. And everyone who has it suffers at least some of the long-term permanent organ damage.

Meanwhile, some people aren’t just being idiots, they are being evil: Landlords Sexually Harassing Tenants And Renters Aid Coronavirus Pandemic – “He knows I don’t have a job. He knows I don’t have anywhere to go — he’s preying on me.”.

Okay, I think it’s time to change topics before I start foaming at the mouth.

Remember our old pal, the lying, hypocrital hate-monger, Jerry Falwell, Jr? Well, he’s been in the news a bit this week!

Jerry Falwell Jr’s Liberty University guts entire Philosophy department. Which is especially strange given how much of the University’s web page and other marketing materials hype that very department and the PhD program it offered. Of course, Liberty University’s purpose has never been education. When Falwell Senior was still alive, it’s goals were propaganda, brainwashing, and making a shit-ton of money for the Falwell family. Since Junior took over, the milking students and donors for as much money as he can divert into his real estate investments and to pay off sex partners has become the premiere goal, eclipsing all others (as we’ve linked to many, many times).

It’s the reason he insisted on re-opening the university while state and local officials were begging him not to. It’s the reason he has refused to refund tuition for students stuck elsewhere under quarantine orders, or afraid to come back due to health concerns, or who have actually gotten sick and so forth.

The philosophy department is being cut because even with that refusal to grant refunds (or perhaps because), enrollment is dropping off.

You may recall the last time I linked to a story about Falwell it was about his saying that two reporters were being prosecuted for trespassing after they reported about the students afraid to come back and so forth? Well… Falwell Loses Bid To Prosecute “Trespassing” Journalists – Two journalists accused of trespassing at LU won’t be prosecuted. The linked story skips some of the details. The warrants were issued by a campus security copy. It just so happens that (because back in the day the university was so economically important to the local area and Virginia tends to have very conservative public officials), that the county has treated the campus security force as if it was a city police department.

However, when they issue warrants, those warrants are supposed to be approved by a magistrate and the prosecutor’s office. When Falwell touted these warrants initially, he lied (and his lie was widely quotes as fact in many news stories) that the warrants had been issued by a magistrate. They had been submitted but not yet reviewed. The review has finally happened.

Turns out that standing on public sidewalks and taking pictures and talking to other people on public sidewalks and then leaving when asked to doesn’t constitute trespassing. Who’d’ve thunk?

Let’s move to a topic much less dire for a moment:

Local Sleuths Track Down Source of Mysterious Radio Songs. This story was written by someone whose work I am a fan of, and is published in one of my favorite news sources, but I have quite a quibble with the headline. Unless the word “sleuths” is being used sarcastically. The story is interesting, and it is cool that some people tried to turn it into some sort of secret message. But actual sleuths would know that the FCC has a publicly available web site where you can plug in a radio frequency and your location and find out who holds the license for the station in question and the physical location of its transmitter(s).

Still, the answer to the mysterious twenty-song playlist that kept repeating unchanged for who knows how long is amusing.

I usually try to end these with a funny video, but…

The following is a different take on a particular moment that happened this week and was covered in at least one video linked in yesterday’s Friday Five. Rachel raises an issue that lots and lots and lots of us have been thinking, but few in the media have been saying aloud:”

Something Appears To Be Wrong With Donald Trump | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC:

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

Weekend Update 4/18/2020: manbabies, misinformation, and racism

Once again, here’s some news that either broke after I assembled this week’s Friday Five, or is a new development in a story I’ve linked to or commented on previously. Plus more commentary than goes in my Friday Five posts.

Let’s start with a frequent guest in these updates: a disgraced, former Congressman who used to be a self-loathing closet case, and now has become a self-owning gay party boy: Aaron Schock is partying with a group of gay men in Mexico for his “self-isolation” – The “Instagays,” one journalist noted, “have a very different definition of ‘social distancing’ than the rest of us!” Gathering a whole bunch of your pretty boy friends and acquaintances from the get-high-and-dance-and-have-sex-with-random-people circuit in order to get high and dance and have sex with each other at a resort is not isolating, and it is exactly the opposite of a quarantine… and posting dozens of pictures of you doing that just seems stupid.

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But hey, there are a lot of other ways to be stupid during an epidemic of a deadly disease! You can gather a bunch of strangers from your community into a public place, and shout your nonsensical statements at each other: Michigan manbaby protest: Wait, we thought conservatives were “rugged individuals” – Who’d a thunk it? Right-wingers are a bunch of spoiled brats who start whining over the slightest inconvenience and Hundreds gather in California to protest stay-at-home orders. Yeah, shout and scream, wave your confederate flags and swastikas (I’m not kidding) and signs around. Spread those microscopic droplets of saliva all over the place! That’s how to protect yourself from the tyranny of a quarantine order, all right!

Or you can gather a whole bunch of people in a crowded space indoors and sing hymns! That’s another great way to protect yourself, your family, and your community from a deadly illness! Authoritarian Christians are deliberately undermining the public health response to coronavirus.

Or maybe not? Member of defiant Central church dies from coronavirus illness. Oops! No one saw that one coming, I guess. Virginia pastor who defiantly held church service dies of coronavirus. Or this one, either. I heard a clip on one of the news podcasts I listen to, where a woman who was leaving one of these church services kept repeating that she couldn’t get sick, because she was covered in the blood of Jesus, just like everyone else in the congregation. When the reporter asked her about people she might encounter afterward who weren’t church members, she replied that if they were covered in the blood of Jesus like she was, they had nothing to worry about.

I can’t find any passage in the Bible where Jesus claims his followers are immune to communicable diseases. It just isn’t there.

And while we’re on the topic of misinformed people trying to spread misinformation, Watch Dr. Tony Fauci debunk Laura Ingraham’s comparison of HIV treatment to treating coronavirus – Dr. Fauci: “Laura, this is different. HIV/AIDS is entirely different”. I have pointed out some similarities in that way that some people are reacting to this epidemic and how they reacted to (and still are) the AIDS epidemic. But that was about attitudes of people toward the victims. Not about how the two diseases spread. AIDS is not infectious through casual contact. HIV take years, many years, to become a threat to the person’s life. And eventually, we developed treatments that let people go even longer without getting sick, and it turns out that those some treatments make the person no longer capable of infecting others (as long as they stay on the meds). A vaccine would still be preferable to the regime of taking a cocktail of anti-viral drugs for decades.

This disease is communicable through casual contact. Because this virus is new to humans, there aren’t large fractions of the population carrying anti-bodies to older strains of the bug like there is for flu. There is no vaccine like there is for some strains of flu. And there is no effective treatment. None: Malaria Drug Study Halted Over Heart Arrhythmias.

And for a wide variety of reasons, some segments of the population is at higher risk for dying from this than others. And it isn’t just old people: The pathology of American racism is making the pathology of the coronavirus worse – Covid-19 is disproportionately killing black people because the whole system is worse for us. and Covid-19 is ravaging black communities. A Milwaukee neighborhood is figuring out how to fight back. Systemic racism means that some communities of color have a higher rate of some underlying conditions. Systemic racism also means they are less likely to seek medical help (either because they fear financially ruining their family, or past experience tells them that medical professionals don’t take their symptoms seriously, or both).

Let’s move on…

Oh, look! Paycheck Protection Program out of money: Thousands of small businesses shut out. We sure burned through that fast… if only there were the Inspector Generals available to monitor the funds, we could find out what really happened to the money. Guess we’ll never know…

And let’s close with this reminder of what our narcissistic president sees as being the important part of a disaster that has killed tens of thousands of his citizens and put more than twenty million out of work:

Weekend Update 4/4/2020: Lying liars, flip flopping, and one funny suggestion

Once again it’s time for some news that either came in too late for this week’s Friday Five, or is a new development in a story I’ve commented upon previously, or otherwise didn’t quite make the cut before. As you can tell form the title of the post, I’m going to be talking about a lot of bad people here. If you would like a laugh, instead, scroll down to the bottom and click on the video. And learn something while you’re at it!

First up, you remember that there are a few Senators and Congresspeople who made suspiciously timed decision to sell of stock after getting classified intelligence briefings on the coronavirus threat? There is a bit more news on that front: U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s most recent financial disclosures show that millions of dollars in stocks were sold on her behalf at the same time Congress was dealing with the impact of the coronavirus. She continues to insist that these transactions were carried out by her financial advisor without any discussion with her, but the more news comes out the less credible that seems. She and her husband (who happens to the CEO of the New York Stock Exchange) didn’t just happen to sell off stocks in industries sure to take a big hit when the pandemic hit U.S. shores, but they also coincidentally bought up a lot of stock in companies that manufacture medical face masks and the like.

Right, coincidence!

Even though we now know that she had been briefed on the grim statistics of how quickly the disease would spread, how many millions would eventually get sick, and how high the death toll could go, she was making public statements to constiuents and donors that there was nothing to worry about.

Even Fox News’ most notorious liar isn’t buying it: Tucker Carlson: Sen. Kelly Loeffler Should Resign if She Knew About Stock Trades.

Resignation is the minimum that should happen.

Moving on…

Critics Pile On After Kushner’s Virus Response Lies, Federal Website Edited To Make Him Appear Truthful. Kushner claimed that the federal stockpile of medical ventilators was never intended for the states, but rather, “they belong to us.” Just who does he thing us is?

The Strategic National Stockpile of critical medical equipment was created by an Act of Congress in 1998. And the act specifies that the purpose is to make sure those critical medical supplies are ready to be deployed to any state or territory where a critical public health crisis arises.

“Gangsters don't hire family members because they're qualified. Gangsters hire family members because they're less likely to talk to the FBI.”

“Gangsters don’t hire family members because they’re qualified. Gangsters hire family members because they’re less likely to talk to the FBI.” (Click to embiggen)

I know he’s an idiot. No, seriously. He’s what certain types of really stupid people think is a smart person. Which means he’s good at lying on his feet and using words that sound like he knows what he’s talking about. But he’s an idiot and a con artist, who couldn’t pass a basic security check and is in office (in violation of The Federal Anti-Nepotism Statute) because Trump wants him there. His motives are not public service, his motives are always his own personal gain, and the personal gain of his patrons. And ordering someone to change the government website that describes the reserve doesn’t change the law.

Remember, Kushner is the idiot who did this: Inside Jared Kushner’s coronavirus research: A wide net on a giant Facebook group. That’s right, he had access to all the experts at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and so forth, but what did Jared do? He called his brother’s father-in-law who happens to be a doctor.

The stupid, it burns!

Moving on!

Texas Christian radio host ‘Doc’ Gallagher gets 25 years for bilking Christian investors out of millions. Not only isn’t he a registered investment advisor (for which he was fined previously for falsely claiming), he’s not an ordained minister, so I the headline can’t call him a scamvangelist (even though that’s what he is). I’ll just quote this:

“He took advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. He targeted elderly investors and individuals attracted to his Christian ideals and then stole from them.”
—lead prosecutor Alexis Goldate

Yeah, great Christian values, there.

Okay, enough about bad people. Here is a helpful video for those who need a face mask for their next excursion. I hope it at least makes you chuckle:

Tuesday Tidbits: No joke, some people don’t understand…

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Some of these links almost ended up in a Weekend Update post, but I wound up going with some more upbeat news, instead. Let’s look at some news that broke after last week’s Friday Five that ought to be covered now rather than wait for Friday.

So, first, up, a drunk Fox news host!

Saturday night Judge Pirro’s show started a bit later than usual supposedly because of technical difficulties. Once things got going, well… Was a Disheveled Judge Jeanine Pirro Tipsy After Fox News Show Delayed for ‘Technical Difficulties’?. I’ve watched the video. Slurred speech, incoherence, at least one point you could see her putting the glass down… she was frikkin’ hammered.

Of course, she can’t admit the obvious that every single person watching saw, instead she screamed “haters!” on twitter all day Sunday: Jeanine Pirro responds to critics of appearance on Fox News show – Pro-Trump anchor appeared late and apparently disheveled on Saturday night, leading to social media speculation. I get it, she was broadcasting from home, had to do her own hair and make-up and didn’t have a teleprompter. But why does that cause her speech to be slurred, and his facial expression to have that classic drunk-off-her-ass look?

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Meanwhile, let’s check in on the super hypocritical evangelical most famous for strange relationships with pool boys.

What’s he been up to lately? ‘He’s Going to Do Whatever He Wants’ – Jerry Falwell Jr.’s decision to reopen Liberty University’s campus amid the coronavirus pandemic has sparked anger and confusion—even among those usually sympathetic to him. That’s right, while other universities have switched to online classes and urged students to practice social distancing, Jerry insisted that students come back to campus! Don’t worry about the virus, he said! I’ve talked to several health experts and local government officials, and they are thanking me for insisting that all of you have to come back or forfeit tuition and room and board fees!

Except all of those experts and officials tell a very different story: Jerry Falwell, Jr. Lied About Who Supported His Decision to Re-open Liberty U.

Why is he doing this? You may remember in previous coverage of the pool boy scandals, that there is a lot of evidence Falwell, his wife, and kids have been using University resources to finance not just his lavish lifestyle but also a lot of questionable real estate deals. So, of course: Liberty University is resisting pressure from students to refund room and board costs during the coronavirus crisis.

All of which leads to the inevitable: Multiple Students Are Sick At Reopened Liberty Campus.

And never forget that Falwell Junior has never been a paragon of virtue:

Let’s move on…

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The conspiracy-spouting scam artist

So what about the man who makes money spouting off conspiracy theories, including claiming that children killed in school mass shootings never existed, and how his “vitamin supplements” can cure literally anything: Google Store Finally Bans Infowars App Over Virus Lies – Apple kicked Alex Jones out of the App Store in 2018. The Google Play Store has finally followed suit.

The two uses of the word finally are definitely called for. But there’s more…

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So there is a temporary hospital being built in Central Park in New York City. Sounds like a much needed facility, right? Well, there is one very big problem: Group Behind Central Park Coronavirus Tent Hospital Demands That Volunteers Support Anti-Gay Agenda. It’s Franklin Graham and the associated ministries behind this. And it is a very old trick of the bigots: pretend to do a charitable thing, but contrary to the teachings of the Jesus they claim to follow, they want to put conditions on the charity.

The entire point is to rub the message in the face of every faggot: “we hate you, you’re going to hell, and we think you deserve to die.” The only reason to add this kind of thing to the volunteer application is to get applauded for what they’re doing while most of the people doing the applauding don’t even look at the statement. It’s a chance to make clear they have the power to do this, the privilege to help those they deem worthy while spitting in the faces of their favorite enemies.


That’s enough news about deplorable people. Let’s close out with some sobering facts to remind us why we should be taking this pandemic seriously.

Oregon’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” campaign:

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

Thursday Tidbits: Reading about angry people while social distancing

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It’s nearly the end of my fourth week of working from home full-time because of the pandemic. The state’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order hasn’t been in effect that long. I chose to work from home four Mondays ago on a day when I would normally go in because I had developed a cough1 over the weekend, just to be safe. I didn’t want to be the person who infected other people if I happened to have this thing, right? Later that week, my boss encouraged everyone to work from home… and then we had the first request (not an order) from the state to all the tech companies to let employees who could work from home do so, and so the executives sent out the message to that effect.

I regularly worked from home at least two days a week for quite some time before then, so I didn’t expect it would be much of an adjustment3. And I’m an introvert, who while I like spending time with my friends, need to spend quite a bit of time alone in order to not be mega-cranky.

My husband, in the meantime, was still having to go into work five days a week4, which of course had me fretting. I’ve been fretting about all my friends and loved ones throughout this mess. Earlier this week, he and most of his co-workers were furloughed, so he’s going to be home with me all the time for the foreseeable future. Which means slightly less fretting, right? Of course it also means we need to figure out some new routines.

On the one hand, it helps that he’s also an introvert, and we already have a habit of spending most of our time at home ignoring each other. He usually sits at his computer and I sit at mine. If I’m watching TV he’s usually playing games on his computer, or designing 3D figures to print on his 3D printer, or sitting at the table painting said figures. So we’ve got that part sorted, for now.

But worrying about everyone else does wear on you. And even though I have been a news junkie5 since I was a kid, I’ve noticed that I’m starting to avoid some of my usual news sources during my daily reading. But even though I’m trying to avoid some of those external sources of anxiety, stuff still comes across my stream that just demands a comment.

For instance, White nationalist planned to bomb a Missouri hospital as revolt against coronavirus lockdowns. Seriously? Geeze. If you don’t want to click through, the guy was under surveillance by the FBI for some time because he was active on some of the same neo-Nazi message boards as several other people arrested over the last few months for similar plans. He had been in communication with someone he thought was building a bomb that could be installed in his car, and he showed up to pick up the bomb, not realizing it was an FBI sting. He resisted arrest, and got shot and killed in the process.

Bombing a hospital? Really?

I really don’t understand some people.

Meanwhile, there is a slightly positive development in another news story about an angry white nationalist: Christchurch shootings: Brenton Tarrant pleads guilty to 51 murders – A man accused of deadly attacks on mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch a year ago has pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder. At least the families of the victims won’t have to watch a long jury trial uncertain of the outcome.

Speaking of angry white men who may finally be held accountable for some bad stuff they’ve done: Alex Jones Loses Sandy Hook Court Appeal, Must Now Pay Nearly $150,000 In Legal Fees. I hope he keeps losing lawsuits from the families of those murdered children until he’s homeless8.

Another feature of angry white men we don’t spend enough time talking about is just how stupid they are. And it’s the kind of stupid that causes real harm to others. So I’m going to close with this video, where Rachel Maddow talks about one such stupid angry white guy. Take it away, Rachel!

Rachel Maddow blasts Mississippi governor for banning cities from coronavirus business closures:

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Footnotes:

1. A couple days before that tree pollen count went into the deep red, and what few other symptoms I had were consistent with a severe hay fever attack, so I was fairly certain I didn’t have the coronavirus2. But, better safe than sorry, right?

2. I have been following the advice from the World Health Organization of checking my temperature several times a day ever since. I have had no fever in that time. The cough went away for a while, then came back, and then went away. No other symptoms have shown up, so knock wood!

3. And when some people on some of the podcasts I regularly listen to were talking about how difficult it was coming up with things to do to amuse themselves while avoiding going out, I admit I chuckled. I have so many books in my to-read pile, for instance! And there are all those shows I have been trying to get to on the various streaming services! The problem isn’t finding things to do, the problem is still not having enough time for the things I want to watch, read, or listen to!

4. Riding the bus back and forth twice a day. At least he doesn’t work directly with the public like he used to. He even pointed out that because his workbench in in a cage (because he works on hard disk and other highly valuable things that are easy to pocket), most of the time all of his co-workers are far enough from him to prevent casual infection.

5. I sometimes blame Weekly Reader6, which was this sort of mini newspaper that we used to get in some of the elementary schools I attended. The idea of Weekly Reader was to provide age-appropriate versions of the big news stories kids might be hearing their parents talking about or whatever. It was an interesting publication.

6. Though my paternal grandfather was a big fan of reading the newspaper, as well as the nightly news. And most of the radio stations in most of the places we lived during my childhood had an hourly news break provided by one of the major networks. And there always seemed to be a station that carried the Paul Harvey show at noon7.

7. Which I now realize had a quite skewed viewpoint and was as likely to report urban legends as it was real news, but there was something entertaining about it.

8. He deserves much worse, of course.

Weekend Update 1/11/2020: Bitter lies, obscured truths, and the failure of “fairness”

“Firing a $70,000 missile from a $28,000,000 drone flying at a cost of $3,624 per hour to kill people in the Middle East living on less than $1 per day.”  “We live in a country where if you want to bomb somebody, there's remarkably little discussion about how much it might cost. But then you have a discussion abut whether or not we can assisst people who are suffering, and suddenly we become very cost-conscious.” —Prof. Andrew Bacevich

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“Firing a $70,000 missile from a $28,000,000 drone flying at a cost of $3,624 per hour to kill people in the Middle East living on less than $1 per day.”

“We live in a country where if you want to bomb somebody, there’s remarkably little discussion about how much it might cost. But then you have a discussion abut whether or not we can assisst people who are suffering, and suddenly we become very cost-conscious.” —Prof. Andrew Bacevich

Time for another of my Saturday posts where I talk about stories that either broke after I finished this week’s Friday Five or have had new information come forward after being linked and/or commented on in any of my previous posts. Let’s go!

We’ve reached a new high in journalists bending over backwards not to report that water is wet: Amash accuses Trump of selling military support to Saudi Arabia. The problem with this headline is that word accuses, because inside the story, Trump himself is quoted as saying in an interview on Fox. “We have a very good relationship with Saudi Arabia. I said, listen, you’re a very rich country. You want more troops? I’m going to send them to you, but you’ve got to pay us. They’re paying us. They’ve already deposited $1 billion in the bank.” So no one needs to accuse the alleged president of selling troops, the guy is bragging about it!

Warren: Reasonable to Ask if Trump’s Iran Strike Is a Distraction From Impeachment. Reasonable is an understatement, especially when we learn that TRUMP ARGUED SOLEIMANI STRIKE WOULD BE POPULAR POLITICALLY, SAID IRAN WOULDN’T ‘DO ANYTHING TOO STUPID’.

Is there anyone on the planet less qualified to speculate about other people doing stupid things? This is the guy who, when warned not to look directly at a solar eclipse because it could burn the retinas in his eyes, went out of the balcony of the White House with a zillion cameras and reporters watching, and turned his head up to look directly at the eclipse! This is the man that we have seen doesn’t know how to fold up an umbrella! This is the man who went on a rambling rant proving that he doesn’t know how basic plumbing works, when discussing a drought. We can keep going… but there are other things to report.

Picture of a homeless man sleeping on a park bench, using newspapers for blankets. Headlines about soaring corporate profits and a surging stock market are visible. “We need to stop measuing 'the economy' by how well rich people are doing.”

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Here’s why the stock market is surging to records after an Iranian missile strike threatened to erupt into war. Yes, the Dow is surging to record highs… and I’m trying not to be superstitious here, but we’re entering the 2020s, right? And during the 1920s the stock market just surged and surged and surged and anyone who could afford to invest seemed to be making a killing and everything looked wonderful (at least if you believe the popular media at the time), until the market literally crashed and then we had the Great Depression.

And things aren’t looking good for much of the workforce as it is now: Low unemployment isn’t worth much if the jobs barely pay. “In a recent analysis, we found that 53 million workers ages 18 to 64—or 44% of all workers—earn barely enough to live on.” The New York Times: After a Decade of Hiring, Plenty of Jobs but Raises Are Tiny. Again, I realize that most of you don’t need me or these stories to tell you that wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living. I think it’s useful, though, to have these facts to share when necessary.

“I'm sick of seeing 'are [we] ready for a woman president.' I'm sick of seeing 'are we ready for a gay president.' Don't remember being asked if we were ready for an incompetent, racist, homophobic, traitorous, cheating bastard, reality TV president, yet one is currently in the [White House].”

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Many Iowa Democrats are paralyzed by fear of choosing the wrong candidate to take on Trump. On any day I could find dozens of headlines talking about which Democratic candidate is in the lead in the early state polling or the national polls, and everyone of them included comments about how whoever has the lead is going to face trouble with this or that constituency. And I’m frankly more than a little tired of them.

In part because they’re stuck in the same kind of horse race mentality that threw the election to the guy who lost the popular vote by a couple of million last time. Somehow we have got to get the not-Fox press to stop falling into the trap of essentially shilling for the Republicans and White Nationalists under the guise of applying one standard of coverage to the Democrats, and frankly ignoring the problems of Trump and his ilk.

But we have one more topic to cover before I draw a conclusion:

“I believe Donald J. Trump was sent by god.” “Why? Did you run out of locusts?”

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Some quickies to establish the Plague of Destruction:

Gay Trump supporter trying to gaslight the LGBTQ community into supporting our own destruction.

Conspiracy Theorist: If Trump Isn’t Re-elected, Christians Will Go To Jail.

This Brilliant New Ad Highlights the Hypocrisy of Trump-Loving Evangelicals.

The Trump economy is hurting most Americans.

I’ve already spent so many pixels lamenting that fact that the people who most fervently defend Trump are the ones who are either getting most hurt by his policies, or are failing to recognize the hypocrisy inherent in that support. He’s the most anti-Christian president ever. He lies. He cheats. He steals. For his entire career! He has actually gotten out of one lawsuit from investors that he bilked out of tens of millions of dollars by arguing that they were are fault for not researching him enough to realize that he is a fraud. I’m not making that up!

And news outlets trot out those very people, sometimes literally the same dozen white trump-voting angry white people who claim to be “independent voters” and get them to parrot trump’s talking points even when they contradict the truth those people are living in.

We’re stuck in this asymmetrical situation where one side does outrageous criminal or immoral or unethical things—blatantly and sometimes bragging about it—and it is only the other side that is admonished for not being civil, for not being fair, for not compromising. And it is literally killing us! We have come to expect this from Fox News and Breitbart—they have made their pro-White Nationalist, pro-Dominionist, pro-Wealth agenda clear. It’s the remaining news outlets who think they are being fair who keep giving in to all these false equivalences in the interest of fairness.

  • You don’t need to quote formerly Republican Amash as say he accused Trump of selling the troops: come out and say in the headline that Trump admitted he did (or even better, that he bragged about it).
  • You don’t need to quote billionaires and their lapdogs when they spout lies about how the economy works: come out and say that the ultra-rich are hoarding wealth and wrecking the economy; report about the fact that the only thing that creates jobs is when ordinary people have enough money to spend on things other than minimal basic survival.
  • You don’t need to try to claim that minor quibbles on one side of the political spectrum are the equivalent of the racist, homophobic, genocidal and corrupt policies of the other side: come out and say that the Republicans promote the exploitation and even death of middle-to-low-income people in order to move more wealth to their billionaire buddies.
  • You don’t need to repeat Trump’s side’s blatant lies as if they are just one side of an opinion, while calling basic fact-checking an accusation: come out and say that Trump’s policies are hurting workers, killing people by taking away their health care, killing children by locking them up in cages, taking rights away from many Americans.

Start reporting the truth. Truth isn’t a bitter drink, it is a delicious tea!

Monday Update 12/30/2019: Racist loudmouths, racist enablers, and acts of terror

“If Jesus showed up and ran for president in 2020 on the platform that human empathy and compassion is more important than personal wealth, do you think Trump supporters would call him a libtard to his face or just behind his back?” — @littledeekay

“If Jesus showed up and ran for president in 2020 on the platform that human empathy and compassion is more important than personal wealth, do you think Trump supporters would call him a libtard to his face or just behind his back?” — @littledeekay

I had a very busy but very productive Saturday and Sunday. Not all of the household chores I wanted to get to before the end of my vacation got done… but I have a couple more days left. Because I had errands to run in several parts of the region and was driving around a lot, I didn’t have time to do a Weekend Update. And there were a few stories that either broke after I posted this week’s Friday Five or were new developments in stories previously included in a Friday Five or Weekend Update. And I have more than a few words to say about them.

Let’s jump in: I have earlier linked to stories about how Christianity Today, a conservative evangelical publication originally founded by Billy Graham had called for removing Trump from office because of his immoral policies. This led to a lot of other evangelical leaders to chime in to defend Trump. But it has also led a few more to come out and agree with Christianity today: Ex-editor of Christian publication says he had ‘no other choice’ but to quit after pro-Trump editorial.

WATCH: Trump-evangelicals split discussed by Rev. Dr. William Barber. This is a short clip from MSNBC in which Reverend Barber makes that point that the evangelical support for Trump and his racist, anti-worker, anti-immigrant, and pro-wealth policies have never been universal. He focuses primarily on the moneyed interests vs. the poor and struggling, but that’s not the whole issue.

Christianity Today’s split with Trump highlights deeper issue in white evangelical America. This article hits at several of the disputes going on among people who identify as evangelical Christian or were raises in those communities have been engaged in. A lot of younger people raised in those churches are turned off by their elders’ involvement in rightwing politics. They see those politics as violations of Jesus’ teachings about taking care of the poor, loving your neighbors and enemies alike, welcoming strangers, and so forth. The increased focus on anti-gay policies and anti-gay activisim has accellerated that attrition. As the article points out, we have at least one generation who has grown up with queer classmates and friends, or children of queer parents who no longer see queer people as abominations.

People are leaving those churches. The percentage of the U.S. who identify as evangelical as gone down. In 2006, white evangelical Christians made up 23% of the U.S. population, now they make up only 15%. However, a weird thing has been going on electorally in that same period. The percentage of voters who identified as white and evangelical made up about 23% of the electorate in 2006. By 2018 that had grown to 26%. What’s happening is that they have become more energized and determined to show up and vote. Often more energized than other segments of the population.

Evangelicals need to follow Christianity’s morals, not Trump’s. The headline is very true. But you know how else the headline could have been worded and it would be just as true for the last few decades? “Evangelicals need to follow Christianity’s morals, not the Republican Party’s.” And do not try to make a both sides argument on this. One party wants to fight poverty, take care of the sick (make sure people don’t die of preventable diseases), welcome immigrants, and other things which the Bible literally commands Christians to do, and the other party wants to do the exact opposite.

Moving on: 5 people stabbed at Hanukkah party in Rabbi’s home and Cuomo calls machete attack during Hanukkah celebration an ‘act of terrorism’ as other politicians react. Hate crimes are inherently terror attacks. The point is never just to wound or kill the person attacked, or if it’s a property crime to destroy the church/flag/religious symbol/et cetera. The purpose is to remind all members of the targeting group that they are not safe, that they are vulnerable to this sort of attack at any time. In other words, the point is to inspire fear in the targeted group (and often other minorities who are perceived to be allied or otherwise related). And what is terror? Why, it’s the state of extremely frightened or terrified.

There have been a lot of anti-semetic attacks in New York recently, and hate crimes of nearly every type have been on the rise since Trump was elected. It’s not just Trump, of course, but racists and other bigots felt empowered when he was elected. And why shouldn’t they? He keeps referring to them as very fine people?

Finally: The following news absolutely does not belong in the In Memoriam section of the next Friday Five, because this guy should not be memorialized: Foul-Mouthed Radio Host Don Imus Dead at 79 and Don Imus, Racist Radio Show Host, Dead At 79 – Imus was fired from CBS in 2007 after he referred to members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos” (among other slurs).

It took me a while to find articles with headlines that didn’t refer to him as a “controversial radio personality.” A controversy is a dispute or debate about a matter of opinion. It’s when two or more rival claims exist about a subject, each of which have reasonably equal arguments in their favor.

Being a foul-mouthed racist isn’t controversial, it’s vulgar, ignorant, and deplorable.

There are people who will jump on me and say we should not speak ill of the dead. They are incorrect. The original proverb people always misquote is Greek proverb is more correctly translated, “Of the dead, speak nothing but truth.” Don’t tell lies about the dead is what the admonishment means. And yeah, if you happen to be having a personal conversation with a grieving family member of a deplorable person who has recently died, it is rude to list off all of their relative’s flaws.

But public reporting about a public figure is a different matter. And Imus was racist, anti-semetic, and mispgynist. He used callous, mean, and intentionally offensive terminology to refer to many sorts of people. He sexually harassed many women employed in the stations where we worked. He pulled out his gun several times in the studio to threaten people who were on his show when they disagreed with him.

He wasn’t controversial, he was morally repugnant. And that’s more than enough time spent talking about him.

Weekend Update 12/7/2019: So many bad men…

“If kids got raped by clowns as often as they get raped by priests it would be illegal to take your kids to the circus.” —Dan Savage

“If kids got raped by clowns as often as they get raped by priests it would be illegal to take your kids to the circus.” —Dan Savage

This is going to be a slightly different iteration of my semi-regular Weekend Update posts. Usually what I post in these entries is either a news story that I didn’t see until after I finished the weeks’ Friday Five entry, or new developments in a story that I have included in any Friday Five or Weekend Update post. This week, though, all but one of the stories listed below had come across my usual news feed and had been bookmarked before Thursday evening. I considered putting them in as a category in the Friday Five, but as of Thursday it was eight stories, not five, and the idea of choosing a “top five” out of these struck me as wrong.

First, let’s let some of the headlines speak for themselves:

Anti-Gay Bishop Quits In Sexual Abuse Coverup Scandal.

Alabama evangelist Acton Bowen pleads guilty to 28 sex crimes – Televangelist Guilty Of Molesting Multiple Boys.

Christian Bible College President Charged With Sexual Assault Of Teen Male On Flight Returning From Israel – Pastor Cornelius Tilton charged with sexually assaulting student on flight.

Colorado youth pastor sentenced 50 years for sexual exploitation of a child and assault.

Former Midlands youth pastor pleads to lesser charge after sexual assault allegations.

Former volunteer youth pastor at Arkansas church sentenced for sexually assaulting teen.

And this one nearly local to me: Church youth leader from Marysville charged with child molestation.

Youth pastor Conte gets five-year prison sentence on sex charges.

The Dan Savage quote above really sums it up: we have had the means to notice this epidemic for decades, but we continue to turn a blind eye to it. We let religious institutions shame the victims of their leaders. We let them move offenders to new jobs where they still have access to the types of people they victimize. We often give the religious institutions a pass when we discover that they have aided and abetted in these crimes.

Worse than that, we keep acting surprised when a religious leader (or a politician who flaunts their religious beliefs) who has been vehemently anti-gay turns out to be a sexual criminal of one sort or another. Instead of recognizing the pattern and staying on the look out of other telltale signs, we talk about how it’s just an opinion, or hide behind that disingenuous phrase “traditional values.”

We’re starting to get better. One of the previous times I wrote about the specific tendency of sexual predators to seek out jobs as Youth Pastors, I griped about the fact that news organizations often didn’t identify the arrested or convicted person as a pastor. They would often bury the fact that the criminal was a former paster somewhere in the story. Because once the situation gets to an arrest, the church or other religious institution has (sometimes very reluctantly) fired the person. That pissed me off for a couple of reasons. If a doctor is fired by a hospital, we still refer to that person as a doctor. They are currently unemployed, but they are still a doctor.

And it is newsworthy how the sex predator used the culture of religious institutions to commit their crimes. Also, very importantly: the sexual predators were employed as pastors are the time they committed the crimes.

So notice that in several of the stories above the news agency hasn’t just used the religious title in the headline, in more of the cases they didn’t put the word “former.” Though I admit that in two of the stories above, the first version I saw included that designation as a former pastor, and I specifically looked for other stories about the same crimes that didn’t do that. I failed on one, but the fact that I could find those headlines is, I think a little bit of progress.

I have one other story I consider to be in the same category as the others, even though it involves neither a pastor nor any allegations of sexual assault:

Father Abandoned Son on Side of Highway Because He Thought He Might Be Gay. This story as a few more details on the same incident: Father Charged With Abandoning “Gay” Child Outside Closed Police Station For Them To Find Him New Family.

Why do I consider this the same as the others: one of the most galling aspects of the pastor-as-sexual-molester phenomenon, is that the predator is supposed to be looking out for and even protecting the people they victimize. We also know that the reason so many of these predators go into the ministry and spout their homophobic opinions is to deflect from their own sexual proclivities. Society pressures people to be ashamed of their sexual orientation, and one of the symptoms of that toxicity is the homophobia-spouting sexual predator.

The father who abandoned his son on the road was supposed to care for that child. He is supposed to protect him from bad forces in the world around him, including homophobia. He’s not supposed to be one of those bad forces attacking his son. And he feels free to be such a bad force because of that same toxicity that society fosters—the entire homophobic/misogynist/xenophobic stew that people call “traditional values.”

I don’t have any sum-up for this, other than to say that abusive behavior, sexual or otherwise, isn’t a bug in the traditional values system—it’s a feature.

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