Tag Archive | religious right

Get out there and vote!

Donald has already announced a plan that will bankrupt Social Security, but it was barely reported on because he spews so much B.S. each day that no on can cover it all…

A picture of Trump with the explanatory text “Cockwomble (noun) A person, usually male, prone to making outrageously stupid statements and/or inappropriate behaviour while generally having a very high opinion of their own wisdom and importance.”

“Cockwomble (noun) A person, usually male, prone to making outrageously stupid statements and/or inappropriate behaviour while generally having a very high opinion of their own wisdom and importance.”

Vote!

If you get to the polling place to vote and they say your name isn’t on the list, calmly say, “I demand my legal right to cast a provisional ballot.”

If you have already voted, check that your ballot has been received.
Remind others to vote. You can volunteer to drive someone to a polling place, but remember, you can’t talk about who you’re voting for, or try to talk others into voting for your favorite candidates at the polling place.

If every vote didn’t matter, the Republicans wouldn’t be trying so hard to stop us from voting.

Vote!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that got through to me.

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

Exactly!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That bit alone was months ago, not last week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pharisee says being held to his own standards is unfair

Apparently I’m writing about Jerry Falwell, Jr some more…

Joe Jervis at JoeMyGod.Com has a really good collection of stories summing up yesterday’s churn on this issue, as Falwell said he was resigning, then retracted it while issuing a legal threat to the university trustees, and then supposedly resigned for real this time. Maybe: Jerry Falwell Jr. Re-Resigns From Liberty University.

While talking to Fox News in the middle of all that churn, at the point when he was still threatening to sue the board he said: “The board put me on leave, took away my duties as prez, and that’s not permitted by my contract. And they put me on leave because of pressure from self-righteous people.”

Pressure from self-righteous people, which he thinks is unfair. Really? This from a man who has campaigned to keep queer people from getting various civil rights. A man who has campaigned to prevent trans people from getting medical care, among other things. Has campaigned for the rights of medical personnel to refuse to treat queer people if they claim a religious objection. He has publicly condemned abortion, pre-marital sex among straight people—has even called for laws criminalizing not just gay people having sex, but also straight people having sex with people they aren’t married to be reinstated.

And he’s complaining about pressure from self-righteous people?

Wow! Talk about having your head shoved so far up your own hypocrisy you can lick your own tonsils!

I should explain the title of this post. The Pharisees were an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law, and commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity. They appear in the Gospels on several occasions, usually being in opposition to Jesus. In many modern Christian circles that word Pharisee is often used to refer to any self-righteous person or hypocrite.

I already pointed out in yesterday’s post that Falwell’s claim that he wasn’t a willing participant in the sex going on between his wife and Giancarlo Granda is contradicted by Falwell’s actions during Donald Trumps visit to Liberty University in 2016. You don’t enthusiastically introduce your blackmailer to the candidate for President that you’ve just endorsed… I’m glad other people are pointing this out. I’m also glad people are pointing out that Falwell sent naughty pictures of his wife to Personal Trainer (the guy I have often called the Other Pool Boy)… and accidentally cc-ed a ton of staff members at the university. Again, not something one would do if they weren’t a willing participant in the sexual shenanigans.

I hope, I really hope, that some state tax examiners are going to look into these transfers of million-dollar-properties to the Pool Boy and the Personal Trainer. Because I can’t believe those don’t violate some laws governing how non-profits handle their assets. And if the anti-guy, anti-feminist, pro-racial segregations non-profit entity takes a big financial hit because of it, I won’t be complaining.

Oh you cuckolded devil—or, the Evangelical Power Couple and the Pool Boy

Let me begin by saying, I told you so.

Business partner of Falwells says affair with evangelical power couple spanned seven years.

Giancarlo Granda says his sexual relationship with the Falwells began when he was 20. He says he had sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell Jr, head of Liberty University and a staunch supporter of President Trump, looked on…

Giancarlo Granda, who says he had a years-long sexual relationship with the Falwells that began when he was 20, said he now believes the Falwells preyed upon him. “Whether it was immaturity, naïveté, instability, or a combination thereof, it was this ‘mindset’ that the Falwells likely detected in deciding that I was the ideal target for their sexual escapades,” he said.

The Falwells have a particular kink, and it involves younger, hunky men having sex with Mrs Falwell while Mr Falwell watches and takes pictures. I called it!

In previous posts I’ve talked about how the relationship seemed to begin when Granda was 20 years old, working as a poolboy at a very expensive Miami hotel the Falwells were vacationing at. He was a young man working his way through school, they were an extremely wealthy couple staying in one of the most expensive suites, were known for tipping lavishly, and owned their own jet.

And we know the discovery process of a lawsuit filed by the real estate mogul father of one of the former pool boy’s classmates, who helped the Falwell’s find a suitable property, that as the relationship continued, the Falwells spent more than $1.8 million buying a youth hostel, refurbishing it, and gifted half ownership to the pool boy.

And then, of course, there is the second pool boy

I’ve said before that hot-wifing, threeways, and cuckold fantasies are all perfectly healthy sexual things that a committed couple who are into ethical non-monogamy should be able to engage in without shame. The problem comes in when millions of dollars of money extracted from two tax exempt non-profits are used to finance particularly elaborate versions of those sexual relationships. That means tax payers subsidized this. And those two non-profits are actively engaged in trying to criminalize queer relationship, and restrict the sexual freedoms of straight people, too. And then there is that apparent fact that Falwell endorsed Trump on the eve of the Iowa Caucuses, effectively swinging the evangelical vote to the pussy grabber in chief, to pay Trump back for helping make a blackmailer who had photos of the sexual shenanigans go away.

Falwell is now trying to blame it all on his wife, Jerry Falwell Jr. Says His Wife Had an Affair With the Miami Pool Boy They Befriended and the pool boy blackmailing him. However, we already know Falwell bought the 1.8 million dollar business for the pool boy long before the blackmail. We also know from the Trump’s ex-lawyer who brokered the deal that it wasn’t the pool boy who attempted the blackmail. We also know that Falwell sent his jet to pick up the pool boy and bring him to Virginia for a week of “play” and actually introduced the pool boy to Donald Trump more than a month after the blackmailer had been paid off. And we know that Falwell accidentally texted photos of his wife in fetish gear to the staff of Liberty U, and he later admitted the pictures were meant for the guy I call The Other Pool Boy.

Yeah, this lie isn’t going to hold up, Jerry.

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.

click to embiggen

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:

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