Tag Archive | wingnuts

Weekend Update 3/25/2017: Fake healthcare, fake dealmaker

A demonstrator holds a sign reading "Trumpcare - Fake Healthcare" during a health care rally at Thomas Paine Plaza on February 25, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Rallies are being held across the country in support of the Affordable Health Care Act.  (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

A demonstrator holds a sign reading “Trumpcare – Fake Healthcare” during a health care rally at Thomas Paine Plaza on February 25, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rallies are being held across the country in support of the Affordable Health Care Act. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

It was always unlikely to pass both houses of congress, but the extent to which Donald and the Republicans bungled this should be that big a surprise. Since election day slowly many of Donald’s supporters have come to understand that the Affordable Care Act that they love because it gave millions of them coverage and Obamacare which they hate for reasons are one and the same. Not all of his voters, by any means, but a lot of them. There are a lot of articles out there trying to explain why Trumpcare failed, if you want more of the details. Or here for a a good bit of analysis: How disastrous for Trump is healthcare collapse?

But I really love this local news site’s take: Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal on Trumpcare Fail: “It Was Such a Sweet Moment To See”.

President Trump today blamed Democrats for bungling internal party negotiations on a piece of legislation that they’ve been campaigning on for over seven years the bill’s demise, to which Jayapal replied, “Hahahahahahah.”

They have a majority of both houses. They don’t need a single Democratic vote to pass anything. And we didn’t even get to the Senate and any attempt to filibuster, so there isn’t any way to put this on Democrats. Except that they will, and a certain number of their voters will believe it. Of course, they had a majority in both houses for most of Obama’s presidency, and they never managed to repeal Obamacare then, either. The ugly truth that they were keeping from themselves is that they only reason any of the votes to repeal passed in the house was because several factions within the Republican ranks knew it was a meaningless vote. Complete repeal wouldn’t pass in the Senate, and President Obama was ready to veto it if they did.

Newt goes from anticipating victory to trying to pretend he understood it's a lost cause in just 7 hours.

Newt goes from anticipating victory to trying to pretend he understood it’s a lost cause in just 7 hours.

Even pro-Republican news sites were reporting earlier in the week Only 17% of Americans support ‘Trumpcare’, yet just hours before the rescheduled vote, folks like Newt Gingrich were tweeting and bragging about how Obamacare was going down. I mention Newt because just 7 hours later, Newt had changed his tune to “Why would you even schedule a vote?”

One reason it failed is that, yes, thousands of constituents called their Republican congresspeople and urged them to vote no. But don’t forget that another reason it failed was because there exists a group in Congress who want the replacement to hurt even more poor people: TrumpCare Postponed: Too Horrible for Moderate Republicans, Not Horrible Enough for Freedom Caucus. Even when Donald tried to negotiate directly with this small group, they couldn’t get them. And each concession Donald and the Speaker of the House offered the Freedom Caucus drove more of the moderate Republicans into the no camp. Obamacare is seen favorably by 57% of voters, making it far more popular than the replacement, our so-called president, or congress itself. And the provisions that the Freedom Caucus want to remove enjoy a walloping 90% approval from voters (as mentioned in that article), which makes if really hard for me to see how, even if they got this thing through the House, how it would have passed in the Senate.

But that doesn’t mean we should relax!

Important things to remember

I gather lots of memes, info graphics, and succinct comments that I think might make a good companion to a blog post someday. A lot of them are potential illustrations for the next Friday Links. And then I don’t use them all. So I thought I could make a post with a bunch of the recent ones.

About tolerance and intolerance

“The whole 'How come you won't tolerate my intolerance!' is hardly a rhetorical home run, or a recent issue. Karl Popper nailed it in 1952.” (Click to embiggen)

“The whole ‘How come you won’t tolerate my intolerance!’ is hardly a rhetorical home run, or a recent issue. Karl Popper nailed it in 1952.” (Click to embiggen)

About stupidity

“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed — in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical — and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous...” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer (click to embiggen)

“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed — in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical — and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous…” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer (click to embiggen)

About the lying liar and his masters

“Turns out, it wasn't Trump's investments in Russia that shaped his pro-Putin views, it was Russia's investment in him.” (Click to embiggen)

“Turns out, it wasn’t Trump’s investments in Russia that shaped his pro-Putin views, it was Russia’s investment in him.” (Click to embiggen)

Who’s going to get hurt by Trumpcare

(Click to embiggen)

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(Click to embiggen)

About economic inequality

Income inequality in America is much, much, much worse than we think it is. (Click to embiggen)

Income inequality in America is much, much, much worse than we think it is. (Click to embiggen)

“The concentration of income and wealth is deepening around the world, driven by more than rising paychecks for top American financiers and chief executives. Returns to invested capital are outstripping economic growth across advanced countries, directing a growing share of economic  rewards into the hands of the wealthy.” (Click to embiggen)

“The concentration of income and wealth is deepening around the world, driven by more than rising paychecks for top American financiers and chief executives. Returns to invested capital are outstripping economic growth across advanced countries, directing a growing share of economic rewards into the hands of the wealthy.” (Click to embiggen)

What we need to do

“Make FACTS great again.”

“Make FACTS great again.”

Weekend Update 3/11/2017: Ex-gay torture, dark clouds, and darker motives

“Some people are like dark clouds, when they disappear, suddenly it's a sunny day.”

“Some people are like dark clouds, when they disappear, suddenly it’s a sunny day.”

I’m sure that someone will tell me (as they have when other infamous bigots have died) that I should not speak ill of the dead. I will point out that the one of the oldest recorded instances of a this admonishment (a Greek text from about 600BC) is more accurately translated as, “Of the dead, nothing spoken unless truthfully.” So in that spirit, let me say that a dark cloud has passed, NARTH Founder and Leader in Ex-Gay Torture Movement Joseph Nicolosi Dead at 70. And that I wholeheartedly endorse the sentiment in this headline about this death: Ex-Gay Therapy Should Die With Its Pioneer, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi.

Nicolosi is just one of many who have profited over the years with the torture and bullying of gay people, often driving them to suicide. He was most recently in the news in 2012 when he tried to sue the state of California to overturn their ban on so-called gay conversion therapy for children and teens. A lawsuit which he lost, thank goodness! And just because another old, hateful bigot has died I know it doesn’t mean that this particular type of oppression is going to end. I can just hope that this death will get is a little closer to that ending, all right?

And in case you don’t know why this practice needs to be banned everywhere, remember that the ex-gay therapists and programs prey on vulnerable youth, making money off their pain, suffering, and sometimes suicides. They use bad therapy including pornography, lies and scare tactics, and discredited medical practices.

The science is clear: so-called reparative therapy fuels self-hatred and depression, increases the risk of suicide, and has no effect on a person’s sexual orientation or desires. None.

Source: thedesmondproject.com/Homelessness-Info.html (Click to embiggen)

Joseph Nicolosi caused a lot of people—a lot of vulnerable children—pain and suffering and actually increased the odds they would commit suicide. His propaganda encouraged parents to kick their gay children out on the street, leading to more pain, suffering and death. And he profited from that pain and suffering. The organization he founded still profits from it. So, damn right I’m going to speak ill of the dead.

And the usual arguments why one shouldn’t speak ill (he’s not here to defend himself, think of his grieving family, et cetera) should all be overruled by the fact that there are thousands of dead queer kids who not only aren’t here, either, but had no one to defend them from Nicolosi and his fellow bigots. Their memory and their grieving families deserve the truth. And the truth is, the world is a slightly better place now that Nicolosi isn’t part of it.

And let’s not forget that Vice President Pence is a big advocate for so-called gay conversion therapy for children. So the fight goes on!


In completely unrelated news, The DOJ Just Called for the Firing of 46 Obama-Appointed U.S. State’s Attorneys, Including Preet Bharara. This was very abrupt, and included at least one such prosecutor who was specfically asked to stay on recently by both Donald and Sessions. A mass firing is unusual in itself, and the initial reports of this made it clear it was very disorganized. At least one of the prosecutors admitting that he learned of his firing from the news—not even from a reporter calling for a comment. Also, the Justice Department doesn’t have any replacement prosecutors ready to nominate.

Which leads one to ask what the rush is. And a few people have spoken up: Feinstein: Trump’s firing of US attorneys hurts independence, and Trump “fires” 46 U.S. attorneys: standard practice or outrage? Yesterday’s round up of links included Trump Knows the Feds Are Closing In on Him – The president’s recent tweets aren’t just conspiratorial gibberish – they’re the erratic ravings of a guilty conscience. And that’s not all: Ukrainian attorney calls for probe into text message claims that Paul Manafort ‘knowingly’ had people killed or Connecting Trump’s Dots to Russia or Donald Trump panics over Russia: Jeff Sessions, Priebus, Bannon all huddled at Mar-a-Lago. Hence the weird claims about illegal wiretapping under Obama that went so far that a Fox News correspondent even called them false!

It’s becoming clear that there is more than enough evidence to indict a lot of Donald’s inner circle over various criminal charges, many of which border on treason. And if such an investigation got enough core Republican voters up in arms, Congress might actually do their job and start investigation the president himself. Getting rid of a lot of experienced federal prosecutors who are, by law, supposed to operate somewhat independently is one way to decrease the chances such a thing will come to pass.

It’s also yet another tin-pot dictator move, which this administration keeps doing again and again.

Confessions of a public restroom avoider

“If you don't like trans people using the bathroom, just look away like you do with corruption, war, poverty, environmental destruction, and homelessness.”

“If you don’t like trans people using the bathroom, just look away like you do with corruption, war, poverty, environmental destruction, and homelessness.”

Midway through my second grade year my family moved from Colorado to Nebraska. My dad’s job in the petroleum industry meant that we moved a lot (ten elementary schools in four states). I had a number of unpleasant experiences the first week at the new school. I misunderstood several things. The teachers and other school officials simply didn’t tell me about several rules. And the other kids weren’t exactly welcoming to the new kid. when I say unwelcoming, that’s putting it mildly. The second or third day there, I was cornered in the bathroom by several boys only some of whom I recognized from my classroom. They wanted to know if I was the idiot who got in the wrong line at the lunch room. I don’t remember everything that was said to me, but they communicated as only grade school bullies can that I was a stupid sissy—a freak who didn’t belong with the real boys.

The school was far more regimented than either of the previous grade schools I had attended. There were rules and assigned times for everything. We were sent to the restroom at three specific times each day, for instance. And my new bullies singled me out for taunting and humiliation every single restroom break.

I didn’t want to explain what was happening. Previous incidents of being bullied by other kids had always resulted in my dad yelling at and beating me for being a pushover. When I attempted to stand up for myself as he’d said, I got in trouble at school, which resulted in more yelling and beating. So I couldn’t let my parents know what was happening in the bathroom. And I knew I couldn’t let the teachers know, because eventually they would inform my parents.

So I stopped going to the bathroom.

I convinced my mom to let me walk home for lunch instead of eating at the school cafeteria. I don’t remember how I convinced my parents, but I did. I used the restroom at home in the middle of the day. At school, when we were marched off at our appointed times midmorning and midafternoon, I would loiter outside the restroom until we were collected and taken out to recess. Since I was eating at home, I skipped the midday restroom trip. I changed my drinking habits. I stopped using the drinking fountain at school, because if I didn’t drink water I wouldn’t need to pee as often. And so on.

I managed to avoid going into the restroom at that school almost entirely for the rest of the time we lived in that town. I still got bullied on the playground, in the classroom, and so forth. But because teachers were always nearby, the kind of bullying that happened was slightly less horrible that what could happen when a bunch of the mean boys had you trapped in a room that the adults seemed to never enter.

When we moved to a tiny town in Wyoming next, I wasn’t able to avoid the restrooms. The town we moved to didn’t have a school, so we rode a bus to a town almost an hour’s drive away. I can still remember how scared I was at what would happen the first time I went into that school’s bathroom. That school was less regimented, so I as usually able to get by with only one trip per day, and I could time it so I wasn’t using the restroom when a lot of the other boys were. Similarly with the town back in Colorado but near the Kansas border that we moved to for the last part of my third grade. And the next town, and the next.

Even when I was in high school, I learned to avoid certain bathrooms and certain times of the day. Because yes, even in my teen years, there were guys ready and eager to demonstrate to the class faggots just how despised we were, and the boy’s restroom was a place that they could do so with impunity.

I’m not trans. I don’t pretend to speak on behalf of the trans community. But I am very familiar with that cold fear that strikes like a fist in the gut when walking into a public restroom and someone looks at you in a less than friendly way. I’m a grown ass man in my mid-fifties, and there are still moments of anxiety any time I am in a public restroom and there are other people in there with me. There are little checklists that part of my brain runs through. Am I behaving the way I’m supposed to? Is this person going to interpret something I do in the wrong way?

Heck, part of me still freaks out if a straight co-worker strikes up a conversation in the restroom at the office! Making eye contact or saying anything to the wrong guys was the surest way to get bullied when I was a kid, and it doesn’t matter how many years ago that was, the conditioned reflexes are still there—the surge of stress hormones and keying up of fight or flight response happens every time.

So these bills and court fights about where or whether trans people can use restrooms at school and other public accommodations strike close to home. I get really upset that people think keep portraying the queer people as the dangerous ones in public restrooms.

Everyone needs to eat, drink, breathe, and yes, people also need to pee from time to time. We have public restrooms for that. A number of places in our country have had laws and policies that explicitly allow people to use the restroom of the gender they identify with for many years, and there has never, not once, been an incident of a trans or otherwise queer person using those policies to assault anyone in a restroom. The only incidents of people going into a restroom to harass women have been straight anti-gay people doing it to try to make headlines in order to justify these bathroom bills or to yell at a woman who doesn’t want to sign their anti-trans petition.

Seriously.

This isn’t about privacy. It isn’t about protecting women or girls. It is about making it impossible for trans people to exist in public spaces at all. It is about punishing trans and gender non-conforming people. It is about giving bigots an excuse to harass queer people or anyone who seems maybe a little queer.

Friday Links (pervert men edition)

“Bigotry wrapped in prayer is still bigotry”

“Bigotry wrapped in prayer is still bigotry”

It’s Friday! Yay! And it’s been a weird week in the news. I may have gone overboard a bit…

Anyway, here are the links I found interesting this week, sorted into categories.

Links of the Week

When A Woman Deletes A Man’s Comment Online. “To be able to take issues fundamental to the health and safety of millions of people and turn them into sport where winners and losers are decided by talking points requires some level of insulation from the negative impacts of the outcome in order to enjoy participating.”

Library Hand, the Fastidiously Neat Penmanship Style Made for Card Catalogs.

A Million People Live in These Underground Nuclear Bunkers.

Two Milo Reax Reax—One Long, One Short. “So look, straight people, if you don’t want gay teenagers above the age of consent entering into sexual relationships with older gay men—if you don’t want your gay sons pursuing older gay men and vice-versa—do what you can to make it safe for your gay teenagers to come out and date each other. Be just as supportive, proud, affirming and meddlesome when your gay teen starts to date as you are when your straight teens start to date.”

This Week in Restoring Our Faith in Humanity

Muslims Unite to Repair Jewish Cemetery.

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Black Man Whose Lawyer Called Racist “Expert” to the Stand.

Donald Trump And Trans Student Bathroom Laws: How Tech Is Responding To Admin’s Latest Order.

This week in the war on trans people

“We need to elect Republicans to keep our daughters safe from pervert men wearing wigs barging into women's bathrooms.” © Copyright 2016 Nick Anderson

“We need to elect Republicans to keep our daughters safe from pervert men wearing wigs barging into women’s bathrooms.” © Copyright 2016 Nick Anderson

What Trump’s Controversial Transgender Decision Really Means, Legally.

Trump’s Rollback On Transgender Rights Is A Threat To All Right.

I’m 16 and Trans, and I’m Not Fake News.

Happy News!

St. Louis police get lesson on helping LGBT crime victims.

This week in Comments, Trolls, and Wankers

Another Word: Peacetalk, Hate Speech.

This Week in Difficult to Classify

We’re Not Doing the Garter Thing.

Rounding Up Monsters, Ignoring Victims.

This week in stupid

A Male Chiropractor Wants Women To Use Controversial Methods To Contain Menstrual Flow. Idiot thinks women can glue their vaginas shut to hold menstrual blood back until they pee… which proves he doesn’t know how vaginas work. I’m a gay man, and I appear to be more familiar with this anatomy than this quack!

This week in awful news

Indigenous women of Standing Rock issue heartbreaking plea for help ahead of evacuation.

Orlando Sentinel: GOP Responds To Pulse Massacre With Two Dozen NRA Bills Allowing Guns Almost Everywhere.

This week in awful people who only have themselves to blame

An actual conservative details how the member-of-minority-says-minority-is-real-oppressor scam works, why it works, and what it buys the Republicans.

Milo Yiannopoulos: Girls Are In Danger When Adult Trans Women Use Public Toilets But 13-Year-Old Boys Can Benefit From Giving Head To Adult Males.

Milo Yiannopoulos resurrected a dangerous old myth about gay men and pedophilia.

Roxane Gay — All I really need to say about Milo.

Milo Yiannopoulos Disinvited From CPAC, Simon & Schuster Cancels Book Publication.

The Sad Truth About Milo Yiannopoulos.

Bill Maher Shows Us Why You Can’t Platform Fascists. Maher is trying to take credit for bringing Milo down, despite the fact the Maher didn’t just treat Milo with kid gloves (as some have described it), he actually agreed with Milo’s transphobic comments. Further Maher not only didn’t expose Milo’s weird hebephilia (it’s not pedophilia when the victim is post-pubescent, but I’m being pedantic, I know) comments, in fact, Maher has made some of those in the past himself…

Playing the Pawn in PewDiePie’s Blame Game.

News for queers and our allies:

Finnish Parliament votes down bid to repeal same-sex marriage.

Fewer Teens Die By Suicide When Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal.

Gay national champion college football player came out during ‘Never have I ever’.

Science!

Collective narcissism predicts hypersensitivity to insult, study finds.

Science: CEOs Are Such Bullshit.

Ancient microbes survive inside massive cave crystals for 50,000 years.

See drone video of SpaceX landing a Falcon 9 at Cape Canaveral.

NASA Scientists Have a Plan to Make Pluto a Planet Again.

Lumpy, hairy, toe-like fossil could reveal the evolution of molluscs.

Scientists just found a 500-million-year-old worm with legs.

Grace Hopper’s compiler: Computing’s hidden hero.

The AI Threat Isn’t Skynet. It’s the End of the Middle Class.

OCD-like behavior linked to genetic mutation, study finds.

Planet 9 Can’t Run Forever. Two Asteroids Give Up Some Clues.

VIDEO: Unbelievable video shows dolphins getting HIGH off underwater ‘drug’.

Research shows secondary seed dispersal by predator animals is important for recolonization of plants.

Solid foam’s clever shape makes it really strong.

LIGO’s detection of gravitational waves was an achievement comparable to Galileo’s telescope. Meet the man whose team built the detector.

Why T. Rex Had Such Puny Arms.

Unlocking the healing secrets of Komodo dragon blood.

What is the crater-dome illusion?

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculation!

Some Thoughts on the 2016 Nebula Nominees, the Shadow Clarke Award and some other awards.

Thoughts on the Nebula Nominees.

Camestros Felapton: SFWA announces the Nebulas.

A Voyage Around the Puppy Seas to See How the Milomeltdown goes.

John Scalzi: On the Matter of Empathy For Horrible People.

The 2016 Nebula Award Nominees Show Us Diverse New Worlds.

2017 Hugo Nomination Recommendations.

Possible New Details About the CW’s Newest DC TV Show Black Lightning.

NEBULA NOMINATIONS WITH FREE READS!

‘Hellboy III’ Officially Scrapped, Guillermo del Toro Says.

2016 Aurealis Awards shortlist announcement.

My grandfather helped create Captain America for times like these.

This week in Writing

Finding The Plot: A Crash Course in Narrative.

Scrivener Binder Icons ~ What the Tiny Variations Mean.

This Week in Covering the News

Om Malik: How is The New York Times Really Doing?

This Week in Inclusion

Number of female protagonists hits record high in 2016, still half that of men.

New Children’s Book ‘Promised Land’ Is a Gay Fairytale.

Aromantic Headcanons and Making Room for Friend-shipping.

Culture war news:

Andrew Sullivan extols a pre-Trump past that bears little resemblance to the grotesque reality of American society..

When Transphobia Trumps Statistics.

How the last man to see Sylvia Plath alive was punished for his quiet homosexuality.

George Saunders on the incredible shrinking empathy of the Trump era.

Hate group wants to boycott Taco Bell for dumbest reason imaginable.

When Did Christians Become Comfortable with the Loss of Truth?

Despite Having All the Power, Conservative Christians Are Still Pretending To Be Persecuted.

Arkansas Supreme Court Strikes Down Local Law Protecting LGBT Community.

This week in the deplorables

Pastor walks out on Trump’s ‘demonic’ Florida rally: ‘My 11-year-old daughter was sobbing in fear’.

CNN host nails CPAC chairman for double standard: ‘You are okay with all the misogynistic things’. “Your line is pedophilia. Why aren’t some college campuses allowed to say their line is misogyny?”

This Week in the Resistance:

The Resistance Is the Majority of Americans — Not a New Tea Party.

Thousands of Miles and Nine Time Zones Away… There’s No Escaping the News from Home.

This Week Regarding the Lying Liar:

Chuck Todd Enters Twitter War With Donald Trump During Insane Press Conference.

Shaun King: Donald Trump remains silent as white men continue to terrorize America.

Trump’s invention of a Swedish terrorist attack was funny. But it likely comes from a dark place.

Trump Can’t Build a Border Wall Without the Real Estate.

A Holocaust Historian Explains Why People Believe Trump’s Lies: Insights about the science—and power—of denial.

Despite double-digit win in South Carolina, poll shows Donald Trump’s approval rating isn’t higher here than anywhere else.

News about the Fascist Regime:

Children of Japanese Americans Who Defied Internment Ask Court to Reject Trump’s Travel Ban.

McMaster May Reorganize Trump’s Foreign Policy Team Once Again. Now saying they removed Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from National Security Council BY ACCIDENT!

Border Patrol Agents Stop Domestic Travelers at New York Airport.

This Week in People Who Usually Oppose Us

Earlier in the week I linked to a story about the notorious Harlem Hate Church’s latest church sign, which used the nickname Tribulation Trump for Donald, and I didn’t want to watch Manning’s sermon video to find out why. So I tried to find it elsewhere. Turns about there are more evangelicals/fundamentalists who dislike Donald:

Here’s a DoNotLink to: Donald Trump is the Antichrist.

Here’s a DoNotLink to: TRUMP: ANTICHRIST OR PROTECTOR?.

Here’s a DoNotLink to: 13 Ways President-Elect Trump is Apocalyptic.

Here’s a DoNotLink to: Extreme joy from Witnesses regarding President “Tribulation” Trump!!

This week in Politics:

Cops: It’s True, These Republican Congressmen Are GIANT PUSSIES.

Dems to David Brock: Stop Helping, You Are Killing Us.

Editorial: Congress shouldn’t duck the public.

The Folly of Abolishing the N.E.A.

With billions at stake, a federal judge just nullified the GOP’s most cynical attack on Obamacare.

John Boehner: Obamacare repeal and replace “not going to happen”.

This Week in Racists, White Nationalists, and the deplorables

FBI Arrests Man Who Allegedly Planned Dylann Roof-Style Attack.

Hunters charged in Texas shooting had blamed immigrants.

It’s Not Just Milo: Five Of The Wildest CPAC Speakers.

White Nationalist Richard Spencer Kicked Out Of CPAC.

This Week in Hate Crimes

Jewish Community Center was twice evacuated in recent week.

Speak Their Names.

Another Wave Of Bomb Threats Targets Jewish Community Centers.

More than 150 headstones damaged at Jewish cemetery in University City; authorities investigating.

Anti-Semitic Crime in America: Latest on the hate crimes targeting Jews across the country.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 2/18/2017: Abusive men in the news edition.

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck….

Devils in very poor disguises.

The Secrets of the Universe.

“The human race might have one more chance…” – more of why I love sf/f.

Videos!

Depeche Mode – Where’s the Revolution:

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

Seth Meyers: Hey! Transgender Kids:

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

Jamiroquai – Cloud 9:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is it always my job to justify my existence?

“...even if [the trump voter] isn't a racist, ableist, xenophobic, misogynist sexual predator, he was fine voting for one.... [my life] would be better off without someone who places trumps showmanship over common human decency...” (click to embiggen)

“…even if [the trump voter] isn’t a racist, ableist, xenophobic, misogynist sexual predator, he was fine voting for one…. [my life] would be better off without someone who places trump’s showmanship over common human decency…” (click to embiggen)

Someone’s at it again. Telling us that the people who gladly voted for the man who swore to take away health care from millions, swore to give religious people the right to discriminate against queers, and swore to kick millions of brown people out of the country—could be persuaded not to vote that way again if only we would talk to them and listen to their side of things.

It seems so reasonable. Simple. Just talk. Listen to their side. We always argue for tolerance, right? Listen to their side of things. Maybe we’ll learn something. And once they see we’re willing to listen, they can be persuaded to see things from our perspective.

Bull.

Seriously, I’m a queer man in my late 50s. I grew up in tiny rural communities attending Southern Baptist Churches. You think I haven’t heard at least a billion times the perspective of the people who think religious freedom means a right to discriminate against me? You think I haven’t heard millions of times why queers don’t deserve civil rights protections? You think I haven’t heard millions of times how they perceive black people, brown people, people with accents, people who don’t attend the same churches as they do?

I have had no choice but to listen for decades!

You cannot talk someone who doesn’t think you’re their equal into accepting your right to autonomy. They may claim that they respect you. They may call you their friend. They may think of you as an exception to the truth they hold deep in their hearts about the inherent inequalities of different types of people. But the only thing that’s going to do is that you will be the person they trot out as proof that they aren’t prejudiced when someone else calls them on it. I know because it’s happened many times to me, personally.

Sure, when I’ve argued that queer people need to live their lives out and proud (if they can safely do so), I have cited the studies that show that actually knowing queer people makes other people more likely to support our rights. But it makes them more likely. It isn’t a magic formula that is guaranteed to change any specific person’s mind.

My evangelical upbringing is especially relevant to this particular argument. Despite making fun of a disabled person, talking about pussy-grabbing, and openly calling for violence against people who disagree, Donald got 80% of the evangelical vote. That’s better than George W. Bush every managed!

And those folks are absolutely convinced that they don’t hate anyone. They will angrily tell you just how much they love you in the same breath that they say that if your rights are protected, that will offend god so much that he will destroy America. They don’t see the contradiction between those statements. When it comes to things like women’s rights and racial issues, they just as emphatically insist that they aren’t bigots. They just know, because they think it’s in the Bible, that women are meant to be subservient to men, and that brown people are meant to be subservient to white people. If they aren’t quite willing to say that last part out loud, what they will fall back on is the separate but equal dodge on race, because god intended the races to be separate, they say.

It’s a weird theological argument: god wouldn’t have made you a woman, or a African-American, or Latino, or whatever, if you weren’t meant to fulfill certain roles in life. Maybe he sees inherent moral weaknesses in your soul. It isn’t at all logical, and most of them can’t articulate it beyond the notion that they believe it’s in the Bible. But that’s what you’re up against: god said it, god did it, god intends it. And no amount of talking or listening or being friends with people whose life experience belies that is going to shake their resolve. They may feel doubts. They may even confess to you that they realize you are a good person despite being in a category they have been taught is inherently not. But they will then shrug, say it’s god’s doing, and they’ll cheerfully vote for any candidate who affirms their ideas.

Even if that candidate also says a lot of things that completely contradict the teachings of their church. Because once they decide that a candidate is god’s choice, they can hand-wave everything away with the old “he works in mysterious ways.”

It’s an exhausting battle.

So, yes, be kind and civil. If you have the time and energy to attempt to be friends with someone, you can. But don’t kid yourself that doing so is more effective than calling your congressperson, or going to a protest, or joining a boycott, or going to town hall meetings, or donating to organizations that protect our rights. And please, don’t let the people in your life who think it’s okay to take away your rights think that you endorse those ideas.

Because you’re just empowering them to hurt others.

This song is your song, this song is my song…

Woody Guthrie holding his guitar infamously inscribed “This Machine Kills Fascists”. (Creative Commons)

Woody Guthrie holding his guitar infamously inscribed “This Machine Kills Fascists”. (Creative Commons) (click to embiggen)

So apparently some people are angry that Lady Gaga sang the Woody Guthrie song, “This Land Is Your Land” at the Superbowl, though I think they were mostly angry at first about the fact that her medley included her pro-gay rights pop song, “Born This Way.” It was clear from the early headlines about the show being apolitical that no one remembered that Guthrie’s song was actually about the oppression of working people. Which the Washington Post explains really well: If you thought Lady Gaga’s halftime show was apolitical, consider the origin of ‘This Land is Your Land’.

As the article I linked points out, Guthrie wrote “This Land Is Your Land” in a fit of pique from constantly hearing Kate Smith’s “God Bless America” everywhere along with rhetoric which would sound very familiar to anyone clamoring to make america great again as if the deprivation and suffering and oppression of the working class, particularly during the oppression, had never happened. Guthrie’s original title (and lyric) was “God Blessed America for Me.”

And if you don’t understand that it’s a protest song, you might want to read these original verses that people almost never sing any longer:

Was a high wall there that tried to stop me,
A sign was painted said: Private Property,
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing —
That side was made for you and me!

In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I’d seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?

Can you imagine if Lady Gaga had sung the verse about the high wall? Ha!

Guthrie put the slogan on his guitars in many different ways over the years (Photo by Lester Balog)

Guthrie put the slogan on his guitars in many different ways over the years (Photo by Lester Balog)

Guthrie’s song is an especially good choice to subtweet the trumpkins, because back in the day, Guthrie was famous for writing “This Machine Kills Fascists” on his guitar. So it wasn’t just Captain America who was advocating punching Nazis at the time. Guthrie first wrote those words on his guitar after writing the song, “Talking Hitler’s Head Off Blues.” Guthrie argued (I think correctly), that fascism is a form of economic exploitation comparable to slavery, and that fascist leaders are essentially gangsters out to rob the world. He explicitly included within the category of fascist leaders all of the wealthy elite who profited from social, political and economic inequality.

Guthrie also argued that people who protested those inequalities were not thugs or outlaws, but are heroes rising “in times of economic turmoil and social disintegration” to fight “a highly illegitimate criminal endeavor intended to exploit the common people.”

Let’s go be heroes!

Punching villains

The cover of the very first appearance in any comic of Captain America shows him punching out Adolf Hitler, in case there was any doubt whose side he was on.

The cover of the very first appearance in any comic of Captain America (March 1941) shows him punching out Adolf Hitler, in case there was any doubt whose side he was on. (click to embiggen)

So white supremacist Richard B. Spencer (he is literally the guy who invented the term “alt-right” as an attempt to re-brand the neo-nazi and white supremacist movements) was out in public spouting his usual hatred, specifically saying that instead of talking about reparations for slavery or anti-discrimination laws, humans ought to be deciding how best to “dispose of” black people. His language wasn’t metaphorical nor was he using the usual rightwing code words for their racist beliefs. He was literally calling for genocide.

And someone punched him right in the mouth: Right-wing extremist Richard Spencer got punched, but it was memes that bruised his ego.

People have been up in arms about how punching a person even for saying awful things isn’t just stooping to their level, it’s somehow worse. And one of these nazi-apologists is Nick Spencer, a man currently in charge of writing the Captain America comic book (and as far as we know, no relation to Richard). I should point out that he’s the same hack writer who thought last year having a cliffhanger where Captain America appeared to have been a secret Hydra/Nazi double agent all along was a clever plot twist. Despite many people trying to explain why it was actually lazy, and something that only a person in a place of privilege would think was a shock.

Anyway, fortunately, another comic writer, Warren Ellis, has weighed in with a great reply to Nick’s apologetics.

I understand there’s been some confusion online as to whether it’s ever right to punch a Nazi in the face. There is a compelling argument that all speech is equal and we should trust to the discourse to reveal these ideas for what they are and confidently expect them to be denounced and crushed out by the mechanisms of democracy and freedom.

All I can tell you is, from my perspective as an old English socialist and cultural liberal who is probably way to the woolly left from most of you and actually has a medal for services to free speech — yes, it is always correct to punch Nazis. They lost the right to not be punched in the face when they started spouting genocidal ideologies that in living memory killed millions upon millions of people. And anyone who stands up and respectfully applauds their perfect right to say these things should probably also be punched, because they are clearly surplus to human requirements. Nazis do not need a hug. Nazis do not need to be indulged. Their world doesn’t get better until you’ve been removed from it. Your false equivalences mean nothing. Their agenda is always, always, extermination. Nazis need a punch in the face.
—Warren Ellis

There is a serious topic here, even though I’ve thus far focused on writers of comic books (but I’m a big nerd, so of course this is where I start). When is violence justified?

Most people are okay with situations of clear self-defense, but blanch at the thought of punching someone for words. But under U.S. law, at least since the 1942 Supreme Court decision of Chaplinsky v New Hampshire, we have the principle of fighting words: “words that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.” It’s related to the crime of incitement. Over the years the court has narrowed the grounds under which the fighting words doctrine can be invoked, but the notion remains that some declarations are the equivalent of throwing the first punch. And that principal isn’t limited to the law.

Miss Manners, who usually justifies the idea of rules of etiquette and manners as necessary to prevent people from strangling each other over lunch, talks about statements that go beyond the pale. The person making such declarations, she argues, has “ceded their right to participate in polite society.” Which means others are under no obligation to be nice to the person. Depending on the level of the breach, she advocates expressing your belief that such conversation isn’t fit for polite conversation and walking away or asking the person to leave and so forth. She also points out that while many people believe that manners dictate that one never confront other people, the truth is that having good manners sometimes means standing up to someone, particularly if they are abusing (verbally or otherwise) other people. She has also pointed out that swallowing an insult is tantamount to admitting it’s true.

And it’s hard to classify the statement that everyone of a certain skin color deserve to be literally exterminated as less than an insult.

The very first comic book depicting Captain America shows him punching Hitler. Punching Nazis who are waging war on the world and orchestrating the genocide of entire ethnic groups ought to be a no-brainer. It particularly should be a no-brainer to someone writing Captain America comic books! And when modern day neo-Nazis advocate genocide, a punch to the jaw doesn’t seem out of line. Having the person who writes Captain America defend an actual neo-Nazi seems particularly insulting. And as the grandson of two men who fought in World War II—both of whom at different times told me that they didn’t fight so that the KKK and their ilk could pretend they are American patriots—it feels like an insult. Standing up for Nazis isn’t just an insult to my grandfathers, it is an insult to all the brave men and women who in fought for the allies in World War II.

Danuta Danielsson, a woman of Polish and Jewish descent, caught on camera in 1985 by photographer Hans Runesson, hitting a marching neo-Nazi in the the head with her handbag on the streets of Växjö, Sweden.

Danuta Danielsson, a woman of Polish and Jewish descent, caught on camera in 1985 by photographer Hans Runesson, hitting a marching neo-Nazi in the the head with her handbag on the streets of Växjö, Sweden. (Click to embiggen)

We shouldn’t be defending Nazis, whether they call themselves the Alt-Right, Alternative Right, America Firsters, South Park Republicans, New Right, or more honestly White Nationalists, et al. The essence of their ideology is that entire groups of people must be, to use Richard Spencer’s own words, “disposed of” simple because of the color of their skin, or their religion, or their national origin, or their sexual orientation. I disagree with those who argue that Nazis themselves are less than human—and not simply because that’s sinking to their level, though it is—because when we do that, we forget an important thing: that humans are capable of terrible things. Calling for genocide is a terrible thing. People who do that need to face consequences in society. They need to be shunned, yes. They need to be shamed, absolutely.

And sometimes they need to be punched in the face.

Weekend Update 1/21/2017: Kind is the new sexy

Respect existence or expect resistance. (Kind is the new sexy) - click to embiggen.

Respect existence or expect resistance. (Kind is the new sexy) – click to embiggen.

Yesterday’s mostly trump-free Friday Links were a bit longer than my usual weekly round-up of news and interesting links, with about 90-links. That was without the 14 trump-related links in the companion Resistance Report post. My typical Friday round-up has either 60-some or 70-some links, if you want a comparison. I was not actively looking at the news, yesterday. For one, it was a pretty intense day at work, but I just knew if I started really checking the news I would just get depressed. And my occasional glances at Twitter throughout the day kept me in the loop enough.

Before I jump into any of the stuff that I’ve seen since posting yesterday, I have one link that I originally meant for January 13th’s round up, and then forgot again to include in this week’s, and we need good news among all the other stuff, so: This Ad Is Being Praised For Actually Portraying Diverse Plus Bodies. Go, read it! Look at the pics! Look at the ad. Yes, you can be a plus size woman and an athlete. You can be a plus size woman and beautiful. Visibility matters. And good on all the people who confronted Lane Bryant previously for it’s lack of inclusion.

Now on to other things. I was one of millions of people yesterday morning who unfollowed the official @POTUS and @VP twitter accounts, after following the accounts that Obama and Biden will be posting to now that they’ve left office: @BarackObamo and @JoeBiden. A few hours later, someone retweeted into my timeline someone else’s observation that Twitter had mysteriously reversed a lot of people’s unfollowing of the accounts that are now in control of the white nationalist administration. I checked my account, and yes! Those accounts had been added back to my following list! Twitter Forces Users To Follow POTUS Donald Trump On Twitter & People Are Freaking. Twitter has subsequently claimed that it was a glitch related to the process by which the accounts were archived and officially switched over with the change in administration.

I can see how that would happen. By law, things the president, veep, and administration officials write down in whatever medium are supposed to be archived by the National Archives and Records Administration, so they had to work with Twitter to come up with a process to archive everything about the accounts before they were turned over to the troompa loompa (can you imagine him on an angry middle of the night bender going through and deleting old tweets if they’d just turned the account over as is?). And the processes goals would have been focused on the legal archiving requirements, and not necessarily the experience of other twitter users who might had decided to unfollow just before the hand over. Still, I felt dirty seeing those accounts in my following list!

On the left, the crowd that came to celebrate the beginning of the Obama administration, on the right the crowd that came to the pre-inaugruation concert this year.

On the left, the crowd that came to celebrate the beginning of the Obama administration, on the right the crowd that came to the pre-inaugruation concert this year.

In other news, we’re seeing just how vindictive the people who like to call other people snowflakes can be: National Park Service knocks Trump on Twitter. Whoever was running the Park Service account (the park service is the agency in charge of the landmarks and adjacent federal property in D.C. and has long been the source of official crowd estimates of protests and other events), re-tweeting the viral image showing the pre-inauguration concert crowd n 2009, compared to the pre-inauguration concert crowd this year. Anyway, apparently a message went out to all Park Service employees ordering everyone who had access to government own accounts to stop using them and today the account has resumed operation after posting an apology.

Also the erasure of science and civil right initiatives has begun: Civil Rights, Climate Change, and Healthcare Were All Scrubbed from the White House Website.

While the Inauguration was very sparsely attended, the protest march today is a completely different matter Women’s anti-Trump march clogs Washington streets and Women’s March on Washington vs. Inauguration: March crowds take lead. So, protestors outnumber supporters significantly. But we knew that, since Hillary beat the troompa loompa in the popular vote by 3 million people. And there are marches and protest rallies happening simultaneously all over the country, with overwhelming crowds: In Chicago, a rally so big that the Women’s March is canceled.

I’ve been hearing people say that the protest marches don’t matter. They’re just symbolic and they don’t stop the trumpkin from signing executive orders that make it harder for low and medium income people to ever own a home. But here’s the thing: back in 1993 I heard people saying the same thing about the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Particularly pundits on the right were dismissive of the event, referring to participants as freaks and poorly behaved. It’s true that most of the congress critters and other politicians who aren’t actually involved in protests leave D.C. when they happen, avoiding being confronted by real people who disagree with them. But that 1993 march was not a failure. About 100,000 people showed up, marched, listened to speeches and so forth that day. And then they went back to their homes, but they did not go back to their old lives. People networked. They got inspired. They came back home and organized local groups to fight for queer visibility and queer rights in their own towns and states. There was a change in the mood of the community as the hope and expectations raised by the event began to filter out from the people who went, or the people (like me), whose participation was to help others afford to go. And thats exactly what the people going to the women’s march hope to do: Women’s March on Washington hopes to begin a movement.

Yeah, there’s a lot of symbolism and slogans: The Best, Nastiest Protest Signs From the Women’s March on Washington. But we can’t let it end with that. We won’t let it end with marches!

Here’s how we do it: brave hearts, everyone. And ROBERT REICH: TWELVE WAYS TO RESIST THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY. And The Most Useful Guide to Resisting Donald Trump: It’s the Tea Party playbook, minus the nooses. And if you feel a need to be in their face every now and then, you can buy things like the Fck Trump Button. Maybe not as cute as a pussy hat, but still good.

Before I turn things over the Stephen Colbert, there are still glimmers of hope that our democracy isn’t quite dead: Alabama Found Guilty Of Racist Gerrymandering By Federal Judge Favored To Be Trump’s SCOTUS Nominee.

Finally, this 14 minutes is definitely worth your time (and not just for Stephen’s tie jokes) Colbert Goes To Town On The Inauguration:

(If embedding doesn’t work click here.)

Oh, and for more on the tie, including photos showing the tape: This Is Still Embarrassing, Donald Trump – You haven’t stopped taping your tie together? Seriously?

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