Lazy Saturday Reads: Political Incorrectness For Me, But Not For Thee

Good Afternoon!!

Well, Hillary’s gone and done it now. And her base is fired up! Last night at the LGBT for Hillary gala in NYC, she told the truth about Trump supporters last night, and the Trump campaign and the white male media are reaching for their smelling salts and swooning onto their fainting couches. Outrage!

Trump supporters have spent months yelling “lock her up” and “hang the bitch” whenever Trump mentions her name in his rallies. When he mentions President Obama, they scream “he’s a Muslim.” But when Hillary talks about their ugly bigotry, they’re suddenly innocent victims and “hard working Americans.”

Trump rally in Mobile, Alabama

Trump rally in Mobile, Alabama

Guess what? There are millions of hard working Americans who are not white bigots. The simple truth is that anyone who supports Trump at this point is aligning him or herself with racism and xenophobia. That is Trump’s entire platform. He doesn’t have any realistic plans to bring jobs to working people, and he plans to lower taxes on the rich so much that there will be zero federal money to do anything about jobs, infrastructure and the other fake items in his talking points.

Abby Philip of the Washington Post last night: Clinton: Half of Trump’s supporters fit in ‘basket of deplorables.’

Hillary Clinton said Friday that “half” of Donald Trump’s supporters could be grouped in “the basket of deplorables” at a fundraising event in New York City.

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables’. Right?” Clinton said to applause and laughter from the crowd of supporters at an LGBT for Hillary fundraiser where Barbra Streisand performed. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.”

Man at Trump rally

Man at Trump rally

“And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up,” she added.

Clinton then noted, as she has several times in the past, that Trump has “given voice” to white supremacist and anti-Semitic voices on the Internet. This, in combination with being in contact with some of the best Law Firm SEO Expert in the world, means one thing: data driven seo services are going to take over the internet.

“He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric,” Clinton said. “Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”

Of course that’s not all she said.

“That other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change,” Clinton said. “It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different.

“They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead end,” Clinton said. “Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

Oh my God! How dare Hillary call out the racists and white supremacists who not only flock to his rallies, but also inhabit the highest levels of his campaign? Although the media didn’t cover it very well, she gave an entire speech on this topic last month. Some excerpts:

From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia.

He is taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party.

His disregard for the values that make our country great is profoundly dangerous.

In just this past week, under the guise of “outreach” to African Americans, Trump has stood up in front of largely white audiences and described black communities in such insulting and ignorant terms:

“Poverty. Rejection. Horrible education. No housing. No homes. No ownership. Crime at levels nobody has seen.” Right now,” he said, “you walk down the street and get shot.” [….]

A man with a long history of racial discrimination, who traffics in dark conspiracy theories drawn from the pages of supermarket tabloids and the far, dark reaches of the internet, should never run our government or command our military.

Hillary Clinton at last night's LGBT for Hillary gala.

Hillary Clinton at last night’s LGBT for Hillary gala.

Ask yourself, if he doesn’t respect all Americans, how can he serve all Americans?

Now, I know some people still want to give Trump the benefit of the doubt.

They hope that he will eventually reinvent himself – that there’s a kinder, gentler, more responsible Donald Trump waiting in the wings somewhere.

Because after all, it’s hard to believe anyone – let alone a nominee for president  – could really believe all the things he says.

But the hard truth is, there’s no other Donald Trump. This is it.

Maya Angelou, a great American whom I admire very much, she once said: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Were any of the white reporters who are so outraged today paying attention to that speech? Right now Hillary is the only person who can save this country from being taken over by a racist populist demagogue who publicly expresses admiration for strongman leaders like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un.

We’ll see what happens with this, but I hope Hillary doesn’t back down. In fact the percentage of “deplorables” in Trump’s audiences is probably greater than 50 percent.

Here are a couple of article from June about the Trump “coalition.”

Vox: The easiest way to guess if someone supports Trump? Ask if Obama is a Muslim.

You can ask just one simple question to find out whether someone likes Donald Trump more than Hillary Clinton: Is Barack Obama a Muslim? If they are white and the answer is yes, 89 percent of the time that person will have a higher opinion of Trump than Clinton.

That’s more accurate than asking people if it’s harder to move up the income ladder than it was for their parents (54 percent), whether they oppose trade deals (66 percent), or if they think the economy is worse now than last year (81 percent). It’s even more accurate than asking them if they are Republican (87 percent).

Those results come from the 2016 American National Election Study (ANES) pilot survey. My analysis indicates that economic status and attitudes do little to explain support for Donald Trump.

These results might be rather surprising since most political commentators have sought to root Trump’s appeal in the economic anxieties of working-class whites. As George Packer recently wrote in the New Yorker:

The base of the [Republican] Party, the middle-aged white working class, has suffered at least as much as any demographic group because of globalization, low-wage immigrant labor, and free trade. Trump sensed the rage that flared from this pain and made it the fuel of his campaign.

Other analysts, however, have found that support for Trump is rooted in animosity and resentment toward various minority groups, especially African Americans, immigrants, and Muslims.

Read more at the link.

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The Atlantic: Donald Trump’s Coalition of Restoration.

[A] survey by the non-partisan Public Religion Research Institute, and the center-left Brookings Institution, measures Americans’ attitudes about a broad range of issues relating to immigration and demographic change. Consistently, the poll found that Trump supporters view the changes with greater—often much greater—alarm than not only Democrats or independents, but also Republicans who did not support Trump during the GOP primaries. In all, the survey shows that Trump was lifted by a coalition that largely believes the America it has known is under siege—and that unprecedented measures are required to reverse the threat.

According to figures provided to me by PRRI, Trump supporters (including both Republicans and GOP-leaning independents who backed him during the primary) are more likely than Democrats, independents or other Republicans to say that they worry about being a victim of terrorism or violent crime; that they are bothered when they hear immigrants talking in a language other than English; that discrimination against whites is as great a problem as discrimination against minorities; and that American and Islamic values are inherently at odds. Fully 80 percent of Trump voters say that immigrants are more burden than benefit to America; just 27 percent of Democrats, 41 percent of independents, and 53 percent of other Republicans agree.

Often the contrast between Trump supporters and all other adults widened further when the poll measured those who hold these positions most vehemently. Fully 44 percent of Trump supporters, for instance, said they “completely agree” it bothers them when they hear immigrants speaking a language other than English; less than half as many independents, Democrats, or non-Trump-supporting Republicans agreed. Likewise, while about two-fifths of Trump Republicans “completely” agreed that “because things have gotten so far off track in this country, we need a leader who is willing to break some rules,” less than one-fifth of Democrats, independents, and other Republicans concurred.

That instinct helps explain the broad support in Trump’s coalition for his edgiest proposals; indeed, the poll makes clear that Trump triumphed not in spite of his most polarizing ideas, but largely because of them. Roughly four-fifths of Trump supporters say they back his plans to build a wall with Mexico, to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the country, and to bar Syrian refugees. In each case, between 43 and 47 percent of Trump supporters back those ideas strongly.

TERRE HAUTE, IN - MAY 01: Guests wait in line before Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses a rally at the Indiana Theater on May 1, 2016 in Terre Haute, Indiana. Trump is campaigning in Indiana ahead of the state's primary election on May 3.  (Photo by Charles Ledford/Getty Images)

TERRE HAUTE, IN – MAY 01: Guests wait in line before Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses a rally at the Indiana Theater on May 1, 2016 in Terre Haute, Indiana. 

Republicans are now trying to claim that this is Hillary Clinton’s “47 percent moment.” Bullshit! From Daniel Politi at Slate: Why It’s Ridiculous To Call Clinton’s “Basket of Deplorables” Her “47 Percent” Moment.

Hillary Clinton has straight out called Donald Trump a racist who is “offering a dog whistle” to the most extremist, hateful portions of American society. But now Republicans are acting very shocked that Clinton would say that around half of Trump’s supporters could be classified under the broad heading “basket of deplorables,” meaning racists, sexists, homophobes or xenophobes. In other words people who would never vote for Clinton.

The Democratic presidential candidate’s use of the word “half,” immediately made Republicans associate it with Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” line from the campaign that was secretly recorded. Except, you know, this event was covered by the press and her statement—read in context—was actually a call to arms for her supporters not to automatically dismiss someone as irredeemable just because he or she happens to support someone like Trump.

As is evident from the remarks, what Clinton was saying is that not all Trump supporters are racists, xenophobes or homophobes, a common thinking in particularly liberal circles. So “if you know anybody who’s even thinking about voting for Trump, stage an intervention,” Clinton said before adding that getting people to stop supporting the Republican candidate “may be one conversion therapy I endorse.” [….]

[In 2012] Romney talked down and dismissed the importance of poor people while Clinton talked down to and dismissed racists, xenophobes, and homophobes. A slight difference. Plus, Romney was talking about people who may have actually chosen to support him whereas Clinton was referring to people who in no way would vote for her. So the risk of alienation really isn’t that great to begin with, although of course it could make the most fervent Trump supporters more fervent.

Please don’t back down, Hillary! You are right, and the media will disparage you no matter what you say or do. Thank you for standing up for Americans who don’t want our country to be led by a disgusting racist, white supremacist,  and wannabe dictator.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a wonderful weekend!


Tuesday Reads: The Orlando Attack Was Anti-LGBT Terrorism

 internalized-homophobia

Good Morning!!

As we learn more about Omar Mateen, the man who murdered 49 people and injured 53 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, it is becoming clear that it was no accident that the gunman deliberately targeted LGBT people. His claims of connections to overseas terror groups may have been little more than a cover for his own “internalized homophobia.” From an LGBT support website “Revel and Riot.” The image at the top of this post also comes from the Revel and Riot article.

THE DEFINITION

Simply put, internalized homophobia happens when LGBQ individuals are subjected to society’s negative perceptions, intolerance and stigmas towards LGBQ people, and as a result, turn those ideas inward believing they are true.

It has been defined as ‘the gay person’s direction of negative social attitudes toward the self, leading to a devaluation of the self and resultant internal conflicts and poor self-regard.’ (Meyer and Dean, 1998).

Or as “the self-hatred that occurs as a result of being a socially stigmatized person.” (Locke, 1998).

PROBLEMS WITH THE TERM

Many LGBQ people do not relate to the expression “internalized homophobia” and as a result end up rejecting the idea before thoroughly examining its meaning. The word “internalized” presents the first barrier. “The concept suggests weakness rather than the resilience demonstrated by lesbians and gay men and keeps the focus away from the structures of inequality and oppression.” (Williamson, I., 2000) The word “homophobia” is the next complication – a difficult and seemingly illogical possibility. How can someone who identifies as LGBQ also have feelings of dislike, fear, and disgust towards themselves? So what can we do about the fact that the combination of words “internalized” and “homophobia” feel unrelatable for so many LGBQs?

Researchers have suggested that using ‘heterosexism’, ‘self-prejudice,’ and ‘homonegativity,’ in addition to the widely accepted term “internalized homophobia,” can help to add depth to our comprehension of the true meaning of the issue.

WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?

Internalized homophobia is a concept much more nuanced than it’s simple definition would suggest. It is clear that the word “homophobia” in this context, is misleading – the over simplified idea that it is individual acts of fear and ignorance diverts our attention from the much more pervasive systemic oppression that is at the root of the problem. The hateful and intolerant behavior of those closest to us often has the most profound impact (parents, church community, peers, partners). While they should be held responsible as individuals, the real culprit is an aggressively heterosexist society that is defining what is “normal,” and therefore what is “right” and “wrong,” through laws, policy, culture, education, health care, religion and family life. This systemic oppression is meant to enforce the gender binary, marginalize LGBTQ people, and keep heterosexual people and their relationships in a position of dominance and privilege.

When we see that homophobia is a result of a this larger system, we see that it is institutional; that it is impossible to exist outside of it; that the real definition of it is so much more than the dictionary simplicity of “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals;” that the root structure is vast, affecting every aspect of life and culture. All of these factors make dismantling heterosexism extremely complicated, and uprooting internalized homophobia even more so.

The above paragraphs form the introduction to a long article, complete with academic references. I can’t help but wonder if it may provide a better explanation for Omar Mateen’s actions than the reflexive assumption that his terrorist attack was inspired the quite disparate terror groups that he claimed connections with.

Pulse nightclub after the attack.

Pulse nightclub after the attack.

From Al Jazeera: Orlando: Omar Mateen ‘pledged loyalty to ISIL, others.’

An American man suspected of killing at least 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando espoused support for a jumble of often-conflicting organisations, according to the director of the FBI.

As details of the worst mass shooting in US history emerged, FBI Director James Comey said on Monday that the suspect, identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, had not only pledged loyalty to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), but also expressed solidarity with the Tsarnaev brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing and a suicide bomber who died on behalf of the al-Nusra front, a group at odds with ISIL.

“They’re really trying to paint a picture of a confused person, who felt targeted because of his religion,” said Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane, reporting from Orlando.

The shooter had called 911 during the attack at the Pulse nightclub early on Sunday to express his allegiance to ISIL.

But Comey – who believed Mateen had “strong signs of radicalisation” – said that in the past few years, the gunman also expressed support for both al-Qaeda and Hezbollah.

The FBI investigated Omar Mateen for 10 months beginning in May 2013 after he was said to have inflammatory remarks in support of terrorists.

Mateen appears to have been confused about the groups he named and that they were in opposition to each other. It now seems that these claims were attempts to draw attention away from his conflicted attitudes toward LGBT people and possibly toward his own sexuality.

Lawrence Mower at The Palm Beach Post: Orlando shooter Omar Mateen was gay, former classmate says.

A former classmate of Omar Mateen’s 2006 police academy class said he believed Mateen was gay, saying Mateen once asked him out….

The classmate said that he, Mateen and other classmates would hang out, sometimes going to gay nightclubs, after classes at the Indian River Community College police academy. He said Mateen asked him out romantically.

“We went to a few gay bars with him, and I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer,” the former classmate said. He asked that his name not be used.

He believed Mateen was gay, but not open about it. Mateen was awkward, and for a while the classmate and the rest in the group of friends felt sorry for him.

“He just wanted to fit in and no one liked him,” he said. “He was always socially awkward.”

Members of YAWF (Youth Against War & Fascism) carry a banner in the Fifth Annual Gay Pride Day march (Gay Liberation Day), New York, New York, June 30, 1974. It reads 'Stonewall Means... Fight Back! Smash Gay Oppression!' (Photo by Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images)

Members of YAWF (Youth Against War & Fascism) carry a banner in the Fifth Annual Gay Pride Day march (Gay Liberation Day), New York, New York, June 30, 1974. It reads ‘Stonewall Means… Fight Back! Smash Gay Oppression!’ (Photo by Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images)

The Orlando Sentinel: Witness: Omar Mateen drank alone at Pulse before attack.

 At least four regular customers at the Orlando gay nightclub where a gunman killed 49 people said Monday that they had seen Omar Mateen there before.

“Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself, and other times he would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent,” Ty Smith said.

Smith told the Orlando Sentinel that he saw Mateen inside at least a dozen times.

“We didn’t really talk to him a lot, but I remember him saying things about his dad at times,” Smith said. “He told us he had a wife and child.” ….

Another Pulse regular, Kevin West, told the Los Angeles Times that Mateen messaged him on and off for a year using a gay chat app.

They had never met, West said, but he watched as Mateen entered the club about 1 a.m. Sunday, an hour before the shooting began.

There’s quite a bit of information about Mateen’s connections to law enforcement in the article. I think those could reveal a great deal about his personality as well as his attitudes toward homosexuality. I’m sure we’ll be learning more in the days ahead.

According to The Daily Mail, even Mateen’s ex-wife says he had “gay tendencies.” From the article:

Many in the Orlando gay community are now coming forward to share similar stories of seeing Mateen at clubs for the past decade or speaking to him on hookup apps….

Regulars at Pulse said they saw Mateen several times over the past three years drinking alcohol and dancing with men.

A couple who perform as drag-queens at the popular venue in 1912 South Orange Avenue said they had seen the 29-year-old party at Pulse.

Ty Smith and Chris Callen said the father-of-one was sometimes so drunk he had to be removed from the club.

Callen, who performs as Kristina McLaughlin, said: ‘I’ve seen him a couple of times at Pulse, a couple of other people that I’ve spoken with, including an-ex security guard, have actually witnessed this guy at Pulse many times before.’

Smith said he’d seen Mateen at Pulse ‘at least a dozen times.’

‘We didn’t really talk to him a lot, but I remember him saying things about his dad at times,’ Smith said. ‘He told us he had a wife and child.’

A security guard who worked at the club two years ago still remembered Mateen turning up to the venue, he added.

Orlando’s gay community is still reeling from the tragedy, and those who had seen Mateen at gay clubs before seem to all have a story to share about his temper.

Callen said Mateen, who seemed like a ‘nice guy’ and was ‘comfortable’ with the draq queens, threatened someone with a knife when he became angry about a religious joke.

Remarks that Mateen drank heavily conflict with his apparently strict adherence to his Muslim faith, including regular worship at a mosque in his home town of Port St. Lucie – where he was quiet and kept to himself.

It seems fairly obvious that Mateen’s attack on The Pulse was a terrorist attack against the LGBT community perpetrated by a confused young man–just as the murders at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs were a terrorist attack against women, despite that fact that authorities won’t call it one. The only reason the focus in the Orlando attack has been on connections to foreign terrorism is that Omar Mateen’s parents came from Afghanistan. They were here long before 9/11, because Mateen was born in Queens, NY and he was 29 years old.

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Here’s a 2012 article from Scientific American on the possible connections between homophobia and repressed homosexuality: Homophobes Might Be Hidden Homosexuals.

Homophobes should consider a little self-reflection, suggests a new study finding those individuals who are most hostile toward gays and hold strong anti-gay views may themselves have same-sex desires, albeit undercover ones.

The prejudice of homophobia may also stem from authoritarian parents, particularly those with homophobic views as well, the researchers added.

“This study shows that if you are feeling that kind of visceral reaction to an out-group, ask yourself, ‘Why?'” co-author Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, said in a statement. “Those intense emotions should serve as a call to self-reflection.”

The research, published in the April 2012 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, reveals the nuances of prejudices like homophobia, which can ultimately have dire consequences. [The 10 Most Destructive Human Behaviors]

“Sometimes people are threatened by gays and lesbians because they are fearing their own impulses, in a sense they ‘doth protest too much,'” Ryan told LiveScience. “In addition, it appears that sometimes those who would oppress others have been oppressed themselves, and we can have some compassion for them too, they may be unaccepting of others because they cannot be accepting of themselves.”

Ryan cautioned, however, that this link is only one source of anti-gay sentiments.

Read much more about these studies at the link.

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It’s very important not to allow the media and Republicans to erase the fact that the attack on The Pulse was an attack on the rights of people in the LGBT community and their freedom to gather and support each other in public places.

A few more relevant links:

The Atlantic: The Extraordinarily Common Violence Against LGBT People in America.

Erasing 76 Crimes: 1000s who died in anti-gay, anti-trans attacks (updates).

The New York Times: Before Orlando, There Was New Orleans.

The Daily Beast: Drag Queen: Anti-Gay Terrorist Omar Mateen Was My Friend.

The Christian Science Monitor: For gay community, Orlando a sign threats remain amid growing tolerance.

The Desert Sun: Anti-gay community has blood on its hands: Column.

What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.

 


Friday Reads: Bigots on the Right

xl_5716_amish-family-finedininglovers-001Good Morning!

I absolutely cannot believe the hatred coming out of the Republican Party and its christianist grass roots these days.  It’s downright embarrassing that my Governor is leading the charge.  There are so many of these stories at the moment that they certainly need the light of day given that we’ve just recognized the 70th anniversary of NAZI concentration camps designed for the Jewish, the homosexual, the intellectual, and others considered outcasts of their society.

This first disturbing piece comes from Texas where Texas Muslims gathered peacefully to recognize democracy  and to teach their children about how we do things in this country.  Unfortunately, many haters gave them the wrong lesson.

They came out by the hundreds from Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, mostly women and children, girls with silver-bowed shoes and pink owl backpacks. They sang the national anthem and prayed.

But less than 20 feet from where the group of Texas Muslims gathered on the steps of the state Capitol in Austin, a small handful of protesters told them exactly how they felt about their visit.

“We don’t want you here!” shouted one. Others yelled, “Go home,” “ISIS will gladly take you” and “remember 9/11.”

“You don’t have to dress that way! Take it off!” came from a woman holding an Israeli flag. “Islam is the war on women!”

Earlier in the morning, Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, commented on the gathering.

“I did leave an Israeli flag on the reception desk in my office with instructions to staff to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws. We will see how long they stay in my office,” she wrote on Facebook.

Thursday marked the seventh annual Texas Muslim Capitol Day in Austin, when hundreds of adherents of Islam visit the Capitol to meet with lawmakers and learn about the democratic process. This year, however, is the first that’s been marked by virulent anti-Islam protests, said Ruth Nasrullah, a prominent Muslim blogger from Houston who also hosted the event.

Christine Weick, who said she was originally from Michigan but now is “on the road,” at one point stormed the succession of speakers, grabbing the microphone and yelling, “Islam will not dominate the United States, and by the grace of God, it will not dominate Texas.”

She was carted back to her spot with the other 12 to 15 protesters holding vigil behind a wall of law enforcement officers. “Muhammad is dead!” she and other chanted, referring to the Muslim prophet.

90097-004-F5155BF8The Belton Republican was by far the most egregious bigot of the Texas legislature yesterday.

As the group of Muslims continued the event by singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the interruptions persisted, with the protesters yelling, “Islam is a lie!” and “No Sharia here!”

Mustafaa Carroll, the executive director of the Houston chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, called the behavior “very frustrating.” Carroll said this was the first year protesters showed up since Muslim Capitol Day began.

“I’m more concerned with state leaders and what they say than I am about anybody else because they are the lawmakers,” he said.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has sent a letter to House Speaker Joe Straus asking whether White had violated ethics rules by instructing her staff to ask Muslim visitors to her office to declare their allegiance to the United States.

“Our ethics question is: Has Rep. White violated any House rules in creating such an internal office policy that is selectively being enforced to discriminate against certain religious minorities trying to meet with her or her staff?” the letter asks. “Are House members prohibited from making constituents take oaths before meeting with their elected representatives or House staff?”

In a statement, Straus said: “Legislators have a responsibility to treat all visitors just as we expect to be treated — with dignity and respect. Anything else reflects poorly on the entire body and distracts from the very important work in front of us.” His statement did not address the ethics complaint.

Neither Gov. Greg Abbott nor Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has weighed in on the matter.

As of mid-morning, the Israeli flag was still on the desk in White’s office. By noon, she had released a follow-up Facebook post that added: “I do not apologize for my comments. … If you love America, obey our laws and condemn Islamic terrorism, then I embrace you as a fellow American. If not, then I do not.”

But at 3 p.m., White released a new statement saying she welcomed “all of my constituents who would like to come and visit our office in the Texas State Capitol.”

“As law-abiding American citizens, we all have the privilege and the right to freedom of speech granted to us by the First Amendment,” she wrote. “… As a proud Texan and American I fully denounce all terrorist groups or organizations who’s [sic] intent is to hurt and destroy the great state of Texas and our nation.”

This was not the first time White has aired her concerns about Muslims on Facebook.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s bigotry has been over the top recently.  He called for “cultural assimilation” suggesting that if every one acted white, everything would be just fine.  However, he fails to look hassid2around the country to find there are many examples of non-Muslim people of faith who are not assimilated to the culturally white WASP majority.  Peter Weber-writing for the Week–suggested Jindal take a look at Brooklyn where  there are ultra-orthodox  Hasidic Jews that live and dress as their European ancestors have for many years.

“There is a way of thinking by many on the Left in America, which disturbs me greatly,” Jindal says: “The notion that assimilation is not necessary or even preferable.” Liberals, he adds, “think it is unenlightened, discriminatory, and even racist to expect immigrants to endorse and assimilate into the culture in their new country. This is complete rubbish.”

Jindal says he believes that religious and ethnic groups make America stronger when they come to embrace America’s culture and values. But not every group qualifies:

Are they coming to be set apart, are they unwilling to assimilate, do they have their own laws they want to establish, do they fundamentally disagree with your political culture? Therein lies the difference between immigration and invasion….

To be clear — I am not suggesting for one second that people should be shy or embarrassed about their ethnic heritage. But I am explicitly saying that it is completely reasonable for nations to discriminate between allowing people into their country who want to embrace their culture, or allowing people into their country who want to destroy their culture, or establish a separate culture within. [Jindal]

Well, off the top of my head, I can think of a couple of groups in the United States that have established “a separate culture within” America, probably “fundamentally disagree” with America’s “political culture,” and are still an integral part of America’s rich cultural and religious tapestry.

The Amish communities in Pennsylvania and Ohio, for example, don’t drive cars, use smartphones, or allow their members to wear synthetic fabrics. Jehovah’s Witnesses consider themselves a global movement and don’t serve in the U.S. armed forces or salute or pledge allegiance to the American flag; they also don’t accept blood transfusions, or celebrate Christmas or birthdays. And is Jindal really going to tell the Cajun and Creole communities in his home state to stop speaking Louisiana French?

If Jindal is serious about his idea, though, I have a challenge for him: Go to Brooklyn.

In Williamsburg, in Crown Heights, in Borough Park, there are sizable and growing insular communities, or “courts,” of ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jews. They have their own customs, language (Yiddish), 19th-century style of dress, political and religious leaders, and, in some instances, laws. Women typically don’t have the same rights as men. The Hasidic communities of Brooklyn and elsewhere in New York and New Jersey have not assimilated to American culture.

Peter Beinart writes that Jindal “wants Christians to stand apart from secular society, but condemns Muslims who do the same.”hobby-lobby-decision-protects-flds-cult-member

In London, Jindal said “non-assimilationist Muslims” threaten the West not merely because they support acts of violence, and not merely because they adhere to Islamic rather than national law. Most fundamentally, they pose a threat because they refuse to embrace the cultures of the countries to which they immigrate. Denouncing the left’s claim that “it is unenlightened, discriminatory, and even racist to expect immigrants to endorse and assimilate into the culture in their new country,” Jindal insisted that “it is completely reasonable for nations to discriminate between allowing people into their country who want to embrace their culture, or allowing people into their country who want to destroy their culture, or establish a separate culture within.”

In his London speech, Jindal made little effort to define American or European culture except to associate it with “freedom.” So it’s hard to know exactly which aspects of it he believes Muslims refuse to embrace. But in his speeches last year on religion, Jindal discussed American culture at greater length. And his verdict was surprisingly harsh. “American culture,” he told students at Liberty University, “has in many ways become a secular culture.” Many churches, he declared, now espouse “views on sin [that] are in direct conflict with the culture.” In case students hadn’t gotten the message, Jindal repeated himself: “our culture has taken a secular turn.”

Then he asked a rhetorical question: “What do we do about it?” His answer: resist. People of faith, he argued, must recognize that they are fighting a “silent war” against the secular, liberal elite. And they must keep waging that war no matter how much of a cultural minority they become. “Our religious liberty,” he insisted, “must in no way ever be linked to the ever-changing opinions of the public.

So let’s imagine a scenario. A devout Christian emigrates from Nigeria to a progressive American college town, where she takes up work as a pharmacist. She quickly finds herself at odds with the dominant culture around her. Co-workers mock her modest dress and her insistence on interrupting work to pray. When she calls homosexuality a sin, they denounce her as a bigot. Ultimately, her employer fires her for refusing to dispense contraception.

Based on his speeches at Liberty University and the Reagan Library, Jindal’s advice to this woman would be clear: Wage “silent war” against the culture that oppresses you, even if you’re a minority of one. If necessary, “establish a separate culture within” the dominant one so you can raise children who fear and obey God.

Now imagine that our devout Nigerian is a Muslim. Suddenly her resistance to the dominant culture makes her not a hero but a menace. Jindal supporters might resist the analogy. Christians, they might argue, don’t kill cartoonists or establish their own separate legal systems. But Jindal’s point in London was that the problems with Muslim immigrants go beyond issues of violence and law. The core danger, he insisted, is their refusal to assimilate into the culture of the countries to which they immigrate. And since Jindal has already declared that American (let alone European) culture is secular, any immigrant who refuses to assimilate into it is, by his definition, a threat. Our Nigerian pharmacist should never been given a visa.

Why point out the contradiction between Jindal’s heroic portrayal of Christian non-assimilators and his demonization of Muslim ones? Because it exposes his lofty talk about culture and identity to be an elaborate ruse. The only principle he’s really defending is anti-Muslim bigotry.

It’s amazing to me that 70 years after the scapegoating of European Jews led to the “ultimate solution” we could still be living with this kind of hatred propagated by elected officials. It is odd that the same people waving flags of Israel understand so little about the history that led to the demand for a Jewish state. Of course, they are only thinking that the fruition of their end times dreams comes only with building of a temple on what is now a holy Islamic site.

I only hope that people of good will speak out against this bigotry.

What is on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads

Good Morning!  Quelle Surprise! Pop Culture is still Misogynist, Racist, and Homophobic!

Pige-Manga-BWI found some interesting reads over the weekend so I hope you’ll enjoy them!   They are all sort’ve stories that actually reflect a lot of the things that fascinate and entertain me.  I love strategy games and have been playing them on line for quite some time  Actually, it’s been since the early 1990s when most of the games were simply text oriented.  I also love animation art, and books, and of course, music. So, here’s a little bit on that and a little bit of stuff that has to do with social justice too.  If I do a have a consistent train of thought here it is that so much of what should be entertaining and could be informative can sow bad seeds.  I’ve a few examples where the pop and geek culture are taking on hard topics. Some are  successful and examining crucial human stories.  Some rely on the same old misogyny, racism, and homobigotry.

Japanese Manga is a way many creative people in Japan explore how they feel about a variety of things. This article is about a new manga book on the lives of the Fukashima plant workers.

A manga that describes the reality of daily life at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant through the eyes of a worker is enjoying popularity.

“Ichiefu” (1F), written by Kazuto Tatsuta, 49, first appeared in autumn 2013 as a serial comic in the weekly magazine “Morning,” published by Kodansha Ltd. Ichiefu stands for the Fukushima No. 1 plant among locals.

The comic was published in book form on April 23. The publisher shipped a total of 150,000 copies of the first volume, which is an unusually large number for a little-known manga artist.

Tatsuta said he changed jobs repeatedly after graduating from university. At the same time, he also worked as a comic strip artist.

It was when he was considering another job change that the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami occurred, triggering the nuclear accident at the Fukushima plant.

While seeking a better-paying job, Tatsuta also wondered what part he could do as a citizen of Japan to help. As a result, he began to work at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant from June 2012 for a total of six months.

“Ichiefu” describes the situation at the plant in great detail. The descriptions of equipment, such as the masks and protective gear the workers used, and the procedures they took to measure radiation levels make readers feel as if they are there and reading actual worker manuals.

The comic also depicts intimate practices only workers there would know. For example, the workers always say “Be safe” to each other before starting their shifts.

Each of the workers was also required to stop working when his dosimeter issued a fourth warning sound.

I quit playing a few games last year that I had really grown fond of because of the rampant misogyny and homophobia of many of the white male manga-dark-warriorplayers.  I had repeatedly asked them to constrain their language, behavior, and what they posted.  I am fortunately playing a game right now where that’s not the case.  I am still one of the few female players in my alliance.  I believe I am one of two but I have found that I generally enjoy better game play if I am in an alliance where there are many openly gay men.  This NPR article summarizes a series of articles that are focused on white male privilege in the online game atmosphere.

In video games, sexism often comes in the form of male-dominated storylines and character archetypes. In the video game community, it takes a more menacing shape.

It ranges from attempts to silence female critics to the harassment of fellow players. Some harassment even goes so far as phone calls and rape threats, as one female game developer found out last year.

“The issue is often framed as a women’s issue, but sexual harassment, sexism and misogyny in gaming is not a women’s issue — it’s a gaming community issue,” says Jonathan McIntosh, a producer for the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games Web series.

Last week, McIntosh wrote a piece for gaming website Polygon about what he calls the “invisible benefits” that males experience while playing video games. In the post, he lists 25 effects of “male gamer privilege.” Here’s a sample:

  • I can choose to remain completely oblivious, or indifferent to the harassment that many women face in gaming spaces.
  • I am never told that video games or the surrounding culture is not intended for me because I am male.
  • I can publicly post my username, gamertag or contact information online without having to fear being stalked or sexually harassed because of my gender.
  • I will never be asked to “prove my gaming cred” simply because of my gender.
  • I will almost always have the option to play a character of my gender, as most protagonists or heroes will be male by default.
  • If I am trash-talked or verbally berated while playing online, it will not be because I am male nor will my gender be invoked as an insult.
  • My gaming ability, attitude, feelings or capability will never be called into question based on unrelated natural biological functions.

So far, the reaction to his post — both in the more than 700 comments on the piece and elsewhere — has been relatively civil. As McIntosh pointed out on Twitter, he doubts it would have been as civil if he had been a female writer raising the same points.

“I’m saying the same thing that women have been saying for years,” McIntosh says. “There’s nothing in my piece that’s really new, it’s just that it’s coming from me. If my name was Joanna McIntosh … I’d be called irrational, I’d be called hysterical and I’d be called too sensitive.”

One other thing that I did not mention last week but I would like to mention this week is the rape scene between the Lannister twins in Game of Thrones.  The same scene in the book actually was rough but consensual.  

There’s been a lot of discussion, Internet rage, and general overall hoopla following Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones, as the television show made the most shocking book-to-screen deviation to date. *Spoiler free for future books.*

Jaime and Cersei finally had their reunited love scene, and suddenly for book readers, Jeyne Westerling seemed like a small cinematic sacrifice to make in comparison. I don’t want to get into a philosophical discussion on whether or not this scene constitutes as rape. Smarter people than I have alreadydonethat.

What we have to work with in the scene is what the characters said and did because we can’t know how they felt. And whether or not the scene was intended to come across as consensual sex, the way the scene was cut by the director makes it definitive to the audience that it was not consensual. Cersei repeatedly said no while Jaime forced himself on top of her and answered that he didn’t care as his creepy voiceover carried out onto a shot of Arya staring at mountains. If that’s all we know about the scene, then yes, in the television show Jaime raped Cersei.

The “debate” about the rape has been nearly as upsetting as the rape itself.  I liked this take clearly stating that rape is not a “narrative device”.

In some ways, it’s useful for television shows to acknowledge the extent of sexual violence in our culture. These narratives allow necessary stories to be told. But the execution is too easy. From daytime soap operas to prestige cable shows, rape is all too often used to place the degradation of the female body and a woman’s vulnerability at the center of the narrative. Rape is used to create drama and ratchet up ratings. And it’s rare to see the brutality and complexity of a rape accurately conveyed on-screen. Instead, we are treated to an endless parade of women being forced into submission as the delicate and wilting flowers television writers and producers seem to want them to be.

download (9)I am still wondering why there seems to be a renaissance in misogny, racism and homobigotry.  You would think that the sports arena would have made better strides against racism given that teams and fans are fully integrated to the idea that there are players of many races.  However, it seems the real money and power behind the bread and circuses are still those rich, horrid, white men.  We talked about the Clippers’ owner last week.  There is, of course, more on that.

Deadspin has acquired an extended, 15-minute version of the conversation between Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his then-girlfriend V. Stiviano. If the original nine-minute tape acquired by TMZ left any questions about Sterling’s opinions regarding minorities, the audio here should remove all doubt that he’s a doddering racist with views not too far removed from the plantation.

The Clippers themselves showed some class this week in a protest that was priceless.  There will undoubtedly be more coming and hopefully the NBA can find a way to strip Sterling of the franchise.

The Clippers gathered at center court before a118-97 Game 4 loss in their first-round series against the Golden State Warriors and took off their Clippers warm-up shirts and left them there. They then warmed up wearing inside-out red shooting shirts that did not display the Clippers name or logo. During the game, players wore black arm or wrist bands and black socks.

In other news, water is still wet and Sarah Palin is still one of the dumbest people on the planet.  This is the money quote she gave the NRA: ‘Waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists’.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) defended the controversial enhanced interrogation technique of waterboarding this weekend, and implied that the practice would still be commonplace “if I were in charge.”

“They obviously have information on plots to carry out Jihad,” she said at the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual meeting on Saturday evening, referring to prisoners. “Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”

The remark stands in stark contrast to the opinion of her former running mate, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

The former Republican presidential nominee, who spent more than five years in a prison camp during the Vietnam War, has repeatedly denounced the practice, which he says is torture.

In her speech, Palin praised the NRA, a group whose members “are needed now more than ever, because every day we are seeing more and more efforts to strip away our Second Amendment rights,” she said.

I am still waiting for some examples of how any government in the US is stripping away the second amendment rights.  I do, however, have thousands of examples of how women are losing their right to self determination.

My last offering this morning is yet another in depth article on the demise of the middle class in the USA.  Middle class Americans are an endangered species.

Wages for millions of American workers, particularly those without college degrees, have flat-lined. Census figures show the median household income in 2012 was no higher than it was 25 years ago. Men’s median wages were lower than in the early 1970s.

Meanwhile, many of the expenses associated with a middle-class life have increased beyond inflation. This includes college tuition, whose skyrocketing cost has laid siege to a bedrock principle of the American Dream: that your children will do better than you did.

recent poll conducted by the Washington Post and the Miller Center at the University of Virginia found that 40 percent of those calling themselves middle class felt less financially secure than they were just a few years ago. Forty-five percent said they worry “a lot” about having enough money stashed away for retirement, and 57 percent said they worry about meeting their bills. Less than half said they expect their kids to do any better.

Fewer Americans find themselves in the heart of the middle class with every passing year.

In the mid-1970s, the majority of Americans were in the middle, with 52 percent earning the equivalent (in today’s dollars) of $35,000 to $100,000. Today, according to census figures, the share of households earning under $35,000 is virtually unchanged, 35 percent. The shift has occurred in the other two categories. Households with incomes over $100,000 have doubled, to 22 percent, while less than 44 percent are in the middle cluster.

So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads

PostcardOldAbsintheHouse

Good Morning!

So, I am trying to get with it again.  Seems like it’s always something.  Grades to get in.  Issues with my elderly father.  Daughters so busy that I seemed to have slipped their minds.  Doctor’s appointments. I am going to try to take this weekend to catch up with reality.  I should also make a point of going out and enjoying my home city which is one of the great places of this country.

Speaking of reality, there is so much weirdness around the issue of immigration these days that I thought I’d post on it.  I live in what can only be described as the melting pot of all the melting pots in the country.  It is what makes us unique in the world.  We’ve got a unique cuisine, culture, and music because we just soaked it all in from every one else and put it out there to grow.  But, there’s a lot of people that are scared of that kind of thing.  Just smell that Gumbo!  Listen to that Jazz!  Embrace the dancers of a second line!  None of that would exist without the blending of Africans, Caribbeans, Americans, and all kinds of Europeans!

In the land of tabloid terrors, immigrants loom large. Flick through the pages or online comments of some of the racier newspapers, and you’ll see immigrants being accused of stealing jobs or, if not that, of being workshy and “scrounging benefits”.

Such views may be at the extreme end of the spectrum, but they do seem to reflect a degree of public ambivalence, and even hostility, towards immigrants in a number of OECD countries. Anecdotal evidence is not hard to find. A columnist from The Economist reported this encounter between a British legislator and one of his constituents, Phil: “‘I’m not a racist,’ says Phil, an unemployed resident of the tough Greenwich estate in Ipswich. ‘But we’ve got to do something about them.’”

Surveys offer further evidence: For example, a 2011 study in five European countries and the United States found that at least 40% of respondents in each country regarded immigration as “more of a problem than an opportunity”. More than half the respondents in each country also agreed with the proposition that immigrants were a burden on social services. This sense that immigrants are living off the state appears to be widespread. But is it true?

New research from the OECD indicates that it’s not. In general across OECD countries, the amount that immigrants pay to the state in the form of taxes is more or less balanced by what they get back in benefits. Even where immigrants do have an impact on the public purse – a “fiscal impact” – it amounts to more than 0.5% of GDP in only ten OECD countries, and in those it’s more likely to be positive than negative. In sum, says the report, when it comes to their fiscal impact, “immigrants are pretty much like the rest of the population”.

The extent to which this finding holds true across OECD countries is striking, although there are naturally some variations. Where these exist, they largely reflect the nature of the immigrants who arrive in each country. For example, countries like Australia and New Zealand rely heavily on selective entry, and so attract a lot of relatively young and well-educated immigrants. Other countries, such as in northern Europe, have higher levels of humanitarian immigration, such as refugees and asylum-seekers.

That said, there’s been a general push in many countries in recent years to attract better educated immigrants, in part because of the economic value of their skills but also because such policies attract less public resistance. For example, a survey in the United Kingdom, where resistance to immigration is relatively high, reported that 64% of respondents wanted to reduce immigration of low-skilled workers but only 32% wanted fewer high-skilled immigrants. Indeed, one objection that’s regularly raised to lower-skilled immigrants is the fear that they will live off state benefits.

But, here again, the OECD report offers some perhaps surprising insights. It indicates that low-skilled migrants – like migrants in general – are neither a major drain nor gain on the public purse. Indeed, low-skilled immigrants are less likely to have a negative impact than equivalent locals.

So what connects homophobia, Marco Rubio and US immigration Policy?  Basically, the connection is outright discrimination for any GLBT who wants to be an American.  Rubio has threatened to leave negotiations on immigration if any GBLT rights are included.  He also says it should be legal to fire any one for their sexual orientation.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a co-author and key proponent of the Senate immigration bill, said he will revoke his support if an amendment is added that allows gay Americans to petition for same-sex spouses living abroad to secure a green card.

“If this bill has in it something that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill. I’m done,” Rubio said Thursday during an interview on the Andrea Tantaros Show. “I’m off it, and I’ve said that repeatedly. I don’t think that’s going to happen and it shouldn’t happen. This is already a difficult enough issue as it is.”

The amendment, introduced by Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, would grant green cards to foreign partners of gay Americans. Leahy originally introduced the measure during the Senate Judiciary Committee markup of the bill, but he withdrew it under pressure from Republican lawmakers who said it would reduce the chance of the bill passing.

Why does he think that firing any one for sexual orientation is also on target?

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is touted as a top GOP presidential prospect in 2016, thinks it should be legal to fire someone for their sexual orientation.

ThinkProgress spoke with the Florida Senator at the opening luncheon of the annual Faith and Freedom Forum on Thursday and asked him about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill to make discrimination against LGBT individuals illegal across the country.

Though Rubio bristles at the notion of being called a “bigot,” he showed no willingness to help protect LGBT workers from discrimination. “I’m not for any special protections based on orientation,” Rubio told ThinkProgress.

KEYES: The Senate this summer is going to be taking up the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which makes it illegal to fire someone for being gay. Do you know if you’ll be supporting that?

RUBIO: I haven’t read the legislation. By and large I think all Americans should be protected but I’m not for any special protections based on orientation.

KEYES: What about on race or gender?

RUBIO: Well that’s established law.

KEYES: But not for sexual orientation?

Watch the video at the link for his astoundingly bigoted answer.

The US Congress has just been told that Syria has used chemical weapons on its rebels.  What does this mean for the US and for our allies?courtyard new orleans

The Obama administration, concluding that the troops of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria have used chemical weapons against rebel forces in his country’s civil war, has decided to begin supplying the rebels for the first time with small arms and ammunition, according to American officials.

The officials held out the possibility that the assistance, coordinated by the Central Intelligence Agency, could include antitank weapons, but they said that for now supplying the antiaircraft weapons that rebel commanders have said they sorely need is not under consideration.

Supplying weapons to the rebels has been a long-sought goal of advocates of a more aggressive American response to the Syrian civil war. A proposal made last year by David H. Petraeus, then the director of the C.I.A., and backed by the State Department and the Pentagon to supply weapons was rejected by the White House because of President Obama’s deep reluctance to be drawn into another war in the Middle East.

But even with the decision to supply lethal aid, the Obama administration remains deeply divided about whether to take more forceful action to try to quell the fighting, which has killed more than 90,000 people over more than two years. Many in the American government believe that the military balance has tilted so far against the rebels in recent months that American shipments of arms to select groups may be too little, too late.

Some senior State Department officials have been pushing for a more aggressive military response, including airstrikes to hit the primary landing strips that they said the Assad government uses to launch the chemical weapons attacks, ferry troops around the country and receive shipments of arms from Iran.

But White House officials remain wary, and on Thursday Benjamin J. Rhodes, one of Mr. Obama’s top foreign policy advisers, all but ruled out the imposition of a no-fly zone and indicated that no decision had been made on other military actions.

Mr. Obama declared last August that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would cross a “red line” that would prompt a more resolute American response.

cafe du monde vintageSo what does the latest Supreme Court Decision on free speech mean?  Oddly enough, it means no protests in their front yard!

The Supreme Court has come up with a new regulation banning demonstrations on its grounds.

The rule approved Thursday comes two days after a broader anti-demonstration law was declared unconstitutional.

The new rule bans activities such as picketing, speech-making, marching or vigils. It says “casual use” by visitors or tourists is not banned.

That may be a way of addressing the concern posed by a federal judge who threw out the law barring processions and expressive banners on the Supreme Court grounds.

The judge said the law was so broad that it could criminalize preschool students parading on their first field trip to the high court.

The president of the Rutherford Institute, which challenged the law on a protester’s behalf, calls the new rule “repugnant” to the Constitution.

What on earth ?

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a new regulation barring most demonstrations on the plaza in front of the courthouse.

The regulation did not significantly alter the court’s longstanding restrictions on protests on its plaza. It appeared, rather, to be a reaction to a decision issued Tuesday by a federal judge, which narrowed the applicability of a 1949 federal law barring “processions or assemblages” or the display of “a flag, banner or device designed or adapted to bring into public notice a party, organization or movement” in the Supreme Court building or on its grounds.

The law was challenged by Harold Hodge Jr., a student from Maryland who was arrested in 2011 on the Supreme Court plaza for wearing a large sign protesting police mistreatment of blacks and Hispanics.

Lawyers representing the Supreme Court’s marshal told the judge hearing Mr. Hodge’s case that the law was needed to allow “unimpeded ingress and egress of visitors to the court” and to preserve “the appearance of the court as a body not swayed by external influence.”

But Judge Beryl A. Howell of Federal District Court in Washington ruled for Mr. Hodge. “The absolute prohibition on expressive activity in the statute is unreasonable, substantially overbroad and irreconcilable with the First Amendment,” she wrote, adding that the law was “unconstitutional and void as applied to the Supreme Court plaza.”

The Supreme Court addressed the constitutionality of the law in 1983, in United States v. Grace, saying it could not be applied to demonstrations on the public sidewalks around the court.

On the grand plaza in front of the courthouse, however, Supreme Court police have been known to order visitors to remove buttons making political statements.

The regulation issued Thursday, which the court said was “approved by the chief justice of the United States,” requires visitors to “maintain suitable order and decorum within the Supreme Court building and grounds.” It bars demonstrations, which it defines as “picketing, speech making, marching, holding vigils or religious services and all other like forms of conduct that involve the communication or expression of views or grievances, engaged in by one or more persons, the conduct of which is reasonably likely to draw a crowd or onlookers.”

So, that is my offering this morning.  I’m headed to the doctor but will be around later!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Harvard Prof Continues to Embarass the Civilized World

homophobia2Niall Ferguson is one of those right wing “intellectuals” that continually proves why there are few intellectually prepared people to actually argue the idiotic causes of modern ‘conservatives’ cogently. Since there is no real case to be made, the conversation usually turns to some screed against some straw man or some persecuted out group.  Ferguson is a homophobe.  He can’t go long without finding some really stupid way to make being gay an issue in any thing that relates to his diatribes.  He really stepped in it this time. This is from Digby.

There’s a lot of chatter today about Niall Ferguson’s odious comments about John Maynard Keynes.

This is the gist of it:

An excerpt from Lance Roberts’ post at StreetTalkLive.com reporting a question from former PIMCO banker Paul McCulley (in bold) and Robertson’s notes on Ferguson’s response (its not clear whether these notes are verbatim or paraphrased):

Question By Paul McCulley

“The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs…in the long run we are all dead.”

Are we in a liquidity trap, are we at a zero bound of interest rates and stuck at 8% unemployment?

[Ferguson:] Keynes was a homosexual and had no intention of having children. We are NOT dead in the long run…our children are our progeny. It is the economic ideals of Keynes that have gotten us into the problems of today. Short term fixes, with a neglect of the long run, leads to the continuous cycles of booms and busts. Economies that pursue such short term solutions have always suffered not only decline, but destruction, in the long run.

Several details of Ferguson’s remarks that were included in the Financial Advisor story have not been confirmed by other sources. For example, Financial Advisor reported that Ferguson asked his audience how many children Keynes had and “explained that Keynes had none because he was a homosexual and was married to a ballerina, with whom he likely talked of “poetry” rather than procreated.” Other sources have not reported that rhetorical question or the additional disparaging remarks in Ferguson’s answer to it. No full transcript or video of Ferguson’s remarks has yet emerged.

WTF? Read this for some folks attending the speech that twittered and blogs his comments.

Basically Keynes doesn’t get the future because he wasn’t a breeder?  This excerpt is from Henry Blodgett at Business Insider.

In addition to the offensive suggestion that those who don’t have children don’t care about the future or society, Professor Ferguson’s reported remarks are bizarre and insulting to Keynes on two levels.

First, this is the first time we have heard a respectable academic tie another economist’s beliefs to his or her personal situation rather than his or her research. Saying that Keynes’ economic philosophy was based on him being childless would be like saying that Ferguson’s own economic philosophy is based on him being rich and famous and therefore not caring about the plight of poor unemployed people.

Second, Keynes’ policies did not suggest that he did not care about future generations. On the contrary. … For the sake of both future generations and current generations, Keynes believed that governments should run deficits during recessions and then run surpluses during economic booms. Politicians have never seemed to be able to follow the second part of Keynes’ proscription — they tend to run deficits at all times — but it seems unfair to blame this latter failing on Keynes.

Ferguson is not the first person to suggest that Keynes did not care about the future, and this sentiment is normally tied to one of Keynes’ most famous sayings:

“… In the long run, we are all dead.”

Importantly, however, in saying this, Keynes was in no way suggesting that the future doesn’t matter. Rather, when this remark is read in context, it is clear that Keynes was chiding economists for ducking responsibility for their own lousy short-term predictions:

In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if, in tempestuous seasons, they can only tell us that when the storm is long past the ocean is flat again.

So if Ferguson is basing his assertion that Keynes didn’t care about the future on this line, his remark is even more unfair.

For those who are new to the larger economic debate that is the backdrop to these remarks, here’s a snapshot:

Professor Ferguson and other economists have been loudly and consistently warning for years that the deficit spending and debts of most developed countries will eventually end in disaster. Professor Ferguson and other “austerians” suggest that governments should immediately cut spending and balance their budgets, even if this results in a brutal short-term recession and exploding unemployment.

This “austerian” philosophy has been countered by the “Keynesian” philosophy advocated by Paul Krugman and others in which governments enact stimulus and run big deficits during weak economic periods to offset weak private-sector spending and help shore up employment, consumer spending, and social well-being until the private sector recovers. High debts and deficits are a long-term concern that needs to be addressed, Krugman says, but they do not constitute a near-term crisis that requires immense, self-inflicted, short-term pain to alleviate.

In the past five years, the experience of many countries suggests that Krugman’s philosophy is correct, and, as yet, none of the doom predicted by Ferguson and other austerians has come to pass. Meanwhile, countries like the U.K. and Greece, which have cut spending to try to balance their budgets, have been mired in multiple recessions (or, in the case of Greece, a depression). And, notably, because lower economic output leads to less tax revenue, these countries have not made much progress in balancing their budgets.

It’s pretty spurious behavior.  Ferguson has no intellectual, theoretical or empirical evidence for his deficit hysteria so when he has nothing to validate he views, he turns to homophobia.  So, he did apologize.  But it doesn’t mean much because he’s done it before.  That link goes to a page of one of his books.  He has a history of being a jerk on many levels.

Ferguson should be the last person to be casting aspersions on anyone else’s personal life, given that, while still married to someone else, he began an affair with author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali and knocked her up. He then dumped his wife of over 20 years (they had had three children together) to marry Ali. What a heart-warming demonstration of traditional values!

Ferguson’s slur was ugly indeed — so much so that the no-doubt conservative audience fell into a stunned silence following his remark. But Ferguson — a man for whom the term “hackademic” would surely have been invented, had it not already existed — is part of a long right-wing hack tradition. He is far from the first to take this line of attack. Ferguson likely stole the “childless homosexual” epithet from British wingnut Daniel Johnson (who’s the son of another winger, Paul Johnson. Why do these demon spawn second generation right-wingers tend to be even more appalling than their progenitors? ). The great novelist — and famously nasty conservative — V.S. Naipul has characterized Keynes as a gay exploiter.

Over on this side of the pond, conservative author Mark Steyn attempted to smear Keynes’ ideas by referring to him as — surprise! — a “childless homosexual.” The American Spectator has repeated that slur, as has this contributor to FrontPageMag.com. George Will has also cast the “childless” aspersion (which is pretty clearly a dog whistle for “gay”) against Keynes. So did right-wing economists Greg Mankiw and Joseph Schumpeter. I am reliably informed that William F. Buckley used to gay-bait Keynes as well, although a quick internet search did not produce evidence of this.

Ferguson’s comments are idiotic and offensive on many levels. First of all, there’s his illogical ad hominem style of argument — could not an Oxford-educated Harvard professor done a little bit better? Then there’s the juvenile homophobia — OMG! this faggy fag economist who liked to talk about faggy subjects subjects like poetry and ballet with his wife! — when everyone knows only Real Men can do economics!

But it’s not only the homophobia that’s offensive, it’s the bitchy slur against childless people. I deeply resent the insinuation that, because I haven’t irresponsibly procreated, I care nothing about future generations and would cheerfully assent to the world going to hell in a handbasket.

Anyway, I should know not to take people like Ferguson seriously, but damn it!, the man gets a platform and is at an institution where he gets more status than he deserves.   He’s an obvious example of  affirmative action placement for assholes.  Rich, powerful”conservatives” moan about never seeing one of them in the communist land of academia so universities have to bring in some obvious propaganda-spewing asshole in to fill the ranks.  Ferguson is part of the affirmative action plan of the anti-intellectual intellectual right to stick their asshole views in academia even when they never stand up to rigorous peer review.  Too bad we’ve become so advanced in the idea of equivocation that serious hacks can crawl their way up to the public arena through academia simply because we have to make room for an invalid approach to life, the world, and the meaning of humanity and civilization.  Perhaps Ferguson should just get a shrink and work out his troubled young life in Brit public school with him/her instead of on the rest of us.


Friday Reads: Buffoon and Boycott addition

Good Morning!

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter B.  Here’s some great letter B words.  There’s a BUFFOON lose in London and he has some friends we should be BOYCOTTING.

Well, I’m waking up thinking I should check the TV and make sure Romney hasn’t created such an international stir that the British have declared war on us!  I’m sure Hillary will have to head there to patch things up a bit.  I certainly hope that they look at his likeability ratings and realize that NO one likes him over here either.  He’s considered an oaf on both sides of the pond.

Upon winning an Oscar for her performance in the 1984 film “Places in the Heart,” Field famously declared: “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”

Romney’s problem is that right now, some key voters don’t, as underscored in the polling co-sponsored by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal.

The NBC News blog “First Read” dug deep into recent results concerning “undecided” voters — the very ones who could tilt the election. Unimpressed with the president’s performance, “these should be people willing to fire Obama and vote for Romney — EXCEPT that they don’t like him very much at all,” First Read noted (complete with the capital letters).

Focusing on undecided voters unearthed in surveys over the last three months, the pollsters found Obama’s unfavorable/favorable rating stands at a poor 42 percent/29 percent. The figures for Romney, though, are worse — 44 percent turn thumbs down on him, with just 16 percent viewing him favorably.

And in a separate look at a voter segment much prized in such key states as Florida, Colorado and Virginia, the same pollsters found that twice as many Hispanics view Romney negatively as positively, 44 percent to 22 percent.

So, how bad is he in the eyes of the Brits?  Why, he’s worse than Princess Dumbass of the North (with due credit to Charles Pierce for the name). They’ve declared him “in shambles”.

The British reaction to Mitt Romney has gone from openness, to skepticism, to mocking, to concluding that Mitt Romney is worse than Sarah Palin.

Daily Mail Political Editor James Chapman has been providing the world a play by play of Romney’s British implosion via his Twitter account. Romney started things off by criticizing London’s preparedness for the Olympics. He then forgot the name of British Labour Leader Ed Miliband, and then he admitted that he had been given a secret briefing by MI6. This led the British to ask aloud if they have another George W. Bush on their hands, “Romney blunders again by revealing he’s had (supposedly) top secret briefing by John Sawers, MI6 boss. Do we have a new Dubya on our hands?”

After his visit to Whitehall, Chapman offered two of the kinder reviews of Mitt Romney, “Serious dismay in Whitehall at Romney debut. ‘Worse than Sarah Palin.’ ‘Total car crash’. Two of the kinder verdicts.” Chapman also reported another verdict from British meet and greet with Mitt, “Another verdict from one Romney meeting: ‘Apparently devoid of charm, warmth, humour or sincerity’”

 Getting compared to Sarah Palin is one thing, but being called worse than Palin is an indication of the epic display of fail that Romney is putting on in London.

If you thought things couldn’t possibly get worse for Mitt Romney, you were wrong. How does one top being unfavorably compared to Sarah Palin? If you’re Mitt Romney, you get mocked in front of 60,000 people.

The Telegraph
is reporting that London Mayor Boris Johnson mocked Romney’s readiness comment, “Quite a moment from the Mayor of London Boris Johnson. Shortly after Rix had lit the flame he really went for it in Hyde Park. He referenced Mitt Romney’s ‘London isn’t ready’ quip and shot back in style. “Are we ready?” he called and the crowd went wild. There may even have been a hint of the Obama-friendly “Yes we can!” in there – he may have jumped into a winning scenario but I’ve not heard a politician get that reaction before.”

This is a “charm offensive”?  ROFLMAO!

The Guardian has a running and updated list of all of his gaffes to date.  Go grab the popcorn my friends!!!

There are two things you should know before you “look out of the backside of 10 Downing Street”, as Mitt Romney did on Thursday.

Firstly, in Britain, “backside” means “ass”. As in the part of the body. Secondly, “10 Downing Street” is often used in political reporting as a synonym for a press spokesman for the prime minister, in the same way as “the White House” can say things or have opinions.

We haven’t looked quite this bad since Dubya was caught trying to massage Merkel.  We know Obama was a lousy gift giver his first time over there and FLOTUS hugged Her Majesty.  But, all of that looks mildly folksy compare to the Romney mishaps!  I bet they’re glad they’re rid of us!

I’m not sure you’ve been watching the Chick-Fil-A dust up but it’s getting rather interesting.  Chick-Fil-A has an over the top born again evangelical, bible thumping approach to business.   They’re real fussy about who they sell franchises to and like other corporations that are either hyper Mormon-based or Opus-Dei Catholic-based, they’ve been sending tons of money to tank civil rights movements.  The Mormon Church church and related Mormon businesses funded tons of anti-ERA propaganda and groups in the 1970s and 1980s along with plenty of anti-black civil rights in the 1960s.  Many were aligned with the right wing hate group The John Birch Society.  It’s one of the reasons I refuse to stay at a Marriott.  A huge portion of that money funds basic hate group movements against the ERA and abortion rights but it’s been upped to include GLBT civil rights too.  Same goes with Domino’s Pizza whose owner practices an extremist brand of Catholicism.  We’ve know around here that Country Kitchen and Chick-Fil-A are associated with evangelicals and have been known to fire any openly gay employees.  Believe me, I’ve had plenty of run ins with a lot of these religious extremists. They are hateful and they embrace the role of the martyr eagerly. So, don’t groan on this, but Chick-Fil-A has a “biblically based” mission statement.

Here’s some basic facts on Chick-Fil-A’s corporate citizenship profile.  It’s pretty awful!

Here are the basic facts about Chick-fil-A in regards to LGBT issues:

  • Chick-fil-A has given at least $5 million to anti-gay organizations, including known hate groups and proponents of ex-gay therapy, since 2003, including almost $2 million in both 2009 and 2010.
  • Chick-fil-A has a 0 rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which signifies that the company does not offer one protection, one benefit, or even one diversity training for its LGBT employees.
  • Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy openly admitted that he would probably fire any employee who “has been sinful or done something harmful to their family members.”
  • It has recently come to light (thanks to Jeremy Hooper) that current Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy has used the following language to describe supporters of same-sex marriage:
    • “We are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.”
    • “I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”
    • “We see all the twisted up kind of stuff that’s going on. Washington trying to redefine the definition of marriage and all the other kinds of things.”
    • “We are suffering the consequences of a society and culture who has not acknowledged God or not thanked God—he’s left us to a deprived mind. It’s tragic and we live in a culture of that today.”

That is outright condemnation. That is open discrimination. Now, Chick-fil-A said last week that it will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender,” which sounds nice, but as the HRC score indicates, there is nothing to substantiate such a claim. There is no policy on the company’s books that actually protects LGBT people from discrimination, and funding hate groups cannot be justified as “honor, dignity, and respect.”

With all of the facts at hand, there is no accurate way to portray Chick-fil-A as any kind of “victim.”  There is also no accurate way to reduce Chick-fil-A’s words and actions to merely defending “biblical principles.” This is — in every way, shape, and form — a company proactively engaging against the interests of LGBT people, and that is the quite justified reason for outcry.

Many politicians are now working locally to ensure Chick-fil-A’s over the top hatred and discrimination does not show up in a neighborhood near them. Local politicians in places like Boston and Chicago are trying to block expansion of the company in their neighborhood.  It’s not likely legal, but it’s calling attention to corporate donors that fund anti-civil rights movements.  Protestors disrupted a grand opening of a storefront in San Diego.  Quite a few businesses–including the Muppets–are refusing to partner with Chick-fil-A.  Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has been very vocal about the
company’s policy and statements.

“Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values. They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you’re gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values,” Emanuel said Wednesday.

“What the CEO has said as it relates to gay marriage and gay couples is not what I believe, but more importantly, it’s not what the people of Chicago believe. We just passed legislation as it relates to civil union and my goal and my hope … is that we now move on recognizing gay marriage. I do not believe that the CEO’s comments … reflects who we are as a city.”

Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) is using the same argument to block Chick-fil-A from opening its first free-standing restaurant in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood.

Chick-fil-A already has one Chicago store — at 30 E. Chicago near Loyola University’s downtown campus.

“Same sex marriage, same-sex couples — that’s the civil rights fight of our time. To have those discriminatory policies from the top down is just not something that we’re open to. …We want responsible businesses,” Moreno said.

If you support marriage equality and basic civil rights, here are 10 companies to boycott. Domino’s Pizza is on their list too.   I told my Department Chair at UNO that I wouldn’t come to staff meetings until he started buying pizza some place else.

Another case of CEOs and management using their prominent position and hefty salary to put down gays and lesbians, Domino’s founder Tom Monaghan is a co-founder of the Thomas More Law Center, which recently defended the San Diego Fire Fighters who won a lawsuit claiming they were sexually harassed by being forced to March in a gay pride parade. Monaghan also financed a 2001 ballot initiative to remove sexual orientation from Ypsilanti, Michigan’s, non-discrimination ordinance. David Brandon, the current CEO, opposes gay marriage and brushed off questions about Domino’s decision not to extend health benefits to spouses of gay employees when asked about in 2006 saying when he ran for Regent of the University of Michigan, explaining why he doesn’t support non-discrimination by saying,

“I don’t understand why we continually have to have discussions about who should and who shouldn’t be included, in terms of our nondiscrimination policy, because I think identifying specific, special-interest groups or specific entities within the institution almost implies that unless you’re on that list, then somehow we think you should be treated differently than people who are on that list. It should not be about lists.”

How They’re Faring: So so. Domino’s lost about half of its stock value in the crash, but has been steadily gaining traction since and now trades at $6.49/ share, down from a 52-week high of $15.33.

What You Can Do: Weirdly, just about everyone from all sides of the political spectrum have called for a boycott on Domino’s. Conservatives decry their decision to open a halal-only branch of the pizzeria in the UK and the National Organization of Women boycott the store for the company’s decision last year to donate $50,000 to a pro-life group.

The more daylight that gets shown on these horrible companies, the better.  Alternet reports that more big companies have left ALEC which has been one of the biggest right wing groups that have actively worked against all civil rights movements. Turning up the heat is working.

Two more large American companies, headquartered in the Midwest, have responded to their customers and cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC): General Motors (GM) and Walgreens. This brings the total to 30 corporations and four non-profits — 34 total private sector members — that have cut ties to the right-wing corporate bill mill.

General Motors “In Motion” Away from ALEC

General Motors Headquarters (Source: AP)GM is the $149 billion-a-year maker of Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC brand name cars, among others. About 26 percent of the company is owned by the United States government, which backed its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in 2009. It was founded in 1908 in Detroit and remains headquartered there. It employs 209,000 people, as of May 2012. Chevrolet alone sold more than 763,000 passenger cars in 2011.

Although the full extent of GM’s ALEC membership is not known, it was a member in 1992. In 2011, it paid for a seat on both ALEC’s Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force and its Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force. The commerce task force is the primary source of anti-worker and anti-consumer legislation such as the “Paycheck Protection” and “Right to Work” Acts and other “model” bills that limit workers’ rights and drain labor unions of resources for protecting employees, undermine consumer protections, favor the Wall Street financial agenda, and limit the ability to cap exorbitant interest rates on credit cards and big bank fees.

Here’s a list of FIVE food chains to avoid if you want to put your money and mouth where you values are.  Waffle House is one to avoid.

The breakfast joint has given $100,000 this election cycle to the Karl Rove super PAC American Crossroads. Mother Jones ’ Tim Murphy reported on the donation:

This is surprising because one doesn’t normally associate Big Waffle with big scary super-PACs, but also not that surprising: CEO Jim Rogers Jr. is a longtime supporter of Republican causes, and the company’s political action committee has given exclusively to Republicans (in considerably more modest quantities). His ties to Romney date back to 2006, when he joined the finance team of Romney’s political action committee, Commonwealth PAC.

Now a word from our sponsor … the Beetles sing all about the Letter B.


Ah, there’s just one more letter B word that I’d love to embrace!!!  Yes, this post just brought out my inner BITCH.   I’d shout the word vagina a few times but it’s not the letter V’s turn today.  Join me in not wasting money or votes on the folks that pay to take away our civil rights and liberties.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?