Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The truth about women's restrooms

In the wake of so many anti-LGBT bills sweeping across the country, there are a few that have made national and even international news. Looking at you, Tennessee, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Indiana.

The latest controversy is about allowing transgender individuals to use the restrooms of the gender with which they identify. The argument for these anti-trans laws is that "Oh my stars! *fans self* Men will be sharing a bathroom with mah little girl!"

Former baseball great and now sad shell of a human being Curt Schilling was fired from ESPN for unapologetically posting a meme showing a dude playing girly dress-up and derisively talking about him sharing the bathroom with your daughters.
Seriously? Just shut up Curt Schilling and everyone else.

The truth is that trans women don't consider themselves men. They consider themselves women. So men are not sharing a restroom with your precious daughter. Women are.

I will say this, however. I could give two shits even if men were to share public restrooms with women. Hey - do you want to know what goes on in women's public restrooms, men? I'll let you in on the truth of the ladies' room.

First off, women are disgusting. They seem to forget every bit of manners they ever learned when they hit a women's restroom. I'd be more worried about a trans woman's sensibilities as they entered this disgusting place than any cis woman or girl in the place.  So... here's how the women's restroom experience goes:

  • Take a deep breath (trust me on this one)
  • Enter the restroom
  • Find a stall (hey - they all have doors! That lock!)
  • Pray there's one where the disgusting woman who would never behave like this in her own home actually flushed.
  • Avoid all the puddles (I DON'T want to know!) and the toilet paper all over the floor that's sure to stick to your shoes.
  • Sit down and pray you don't get any gross diseases because the disgusting woman before you didn't actually hit the bowl.
  • Do your business.
  • Flush (if you're lucky, people do this. If not, well...)
  • Unlock your locking stall door that gave you privacy to do your business.
  • Look in the mirror and primp.
  • Judge yourself in the mirror.
  • Look judgmentally at all the other women in the mirror.
  • Leave.

That's it. That is everything that happens in a women's public restroom.

In all of my years on this planet using public restrooms, I have never encountered anyone - female or male - that felt the need to flash their bits at me, touch me, or make unnecessary sexual comments at me.

On the way in and out? Sure. Because men are pigs. But once I'm in the restroom? Nada.

Frankly, women's restrooms are so gross that we all are just trying to get in and out as fast as humanly possible while touching as few surfaces as possible and taking as few breaths as possible.

So when you worry about your precious daughter sharing a bathroom with some horrible monster that you probably never even knew had a penis because they look like a woman, act like a woman, and ARE women, and are using the restroom IN A LOCKED STALL so that you can't see their bits as much as you don't want them to see yours, I suggest that you suck up your bigotry (but not with too deep a breath because ewwww, public restroom) and shut the fuck up about something you know nothing about.

Trans women and men are far more likely to be assaulted than to assault. And guess who assaults them? YOU, BIGOTS. The same bigots who force these "anti-everyone but cis white male" laws down our throats (hey, you dudes LOVE that analogy).

So stop all this rhetoric and learn facts (I know that goes against everything you stand for, but seriously). Live and let live. Stop with the I hate government until I want to discriminate then we neeeeed government shit.

Grow up.

Be a human being. Kind, compassionate, caring. All those things your Jesus tells you to do. And you luuurrrve the Jesus.

Stop using your religion as a weapon of hate.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Quote of the day and how our presidential politics are out of control

"We've just seen Hillary Clinton go through 11 hours of questioning, and these guys can't go a couple minutes of questioning?"
~ former Reagan advisor Bruce Bartlett on the GOP complaints that debates are haaarrrdddd.

I've been pretty quiet as the crazy shit that is the GOP primary has swirled around us. I've been watching the train wreck of American politics with my jaw on the ground and a large bottle of alcohol, wondering how we have allowed stupid to become the norm. (thanks W!)

It seems that having to answer questions about policy, their campaign tactics, the truth of their statements and so on is really hard for the GOP presidential candidates. So they basically delivered a list of demands to the networks that wrap up to letting them have an infomercial without any questioning in a nice cool room with potty breaks for all. And if the network doesn't like it, they'll pick up their ball and go home.

Even Fox's Megyn Kelly asked if they'd like a foot massage to go with that. (Shhhhh, little lady. She must be bleeding from somewhere again today.)

They have pulled out of the NBC debate because CNBC was mean to them. I say good riddance.

If the GOP candidates can't handle a few unwelcome questions from the media in a controlled setting, how the hell do they expect to handle the media post-election? Because, hello. The media (and fellow politicians) have not exactly been kind to President Obama. In fact, here was Pres Obama's reaction, and it is spot on (re the debates, it starts at 5:00 in, but watch the whole thing):

"Every one of these candidates says, 'Obama's weak, Putin's kicking sand in his face. When I talk to Putin, he's going to straighten out.' And then it turns out, they can't handle a bunch of CNBC moderators. If you can't handle those guys, I don't think the Chinese and the Russians are going to be too worried about you."


I love that he is starting to fight back. I just wish he had done it 7 years ago. But now that he has literally zero fucks left to give, he's starting to tell it like it is.

He is spot on. If the GOP candidates can't handle the tough questions now, how will they like it when they are treated like they treat President Obama? I'm thinking they won't like it much.

Back to Bartlett's quote. The GOP candidates love seeing Hillary Clinton put on the spot for 11+ hours. In fact - the GOP loves it so much, they're gonna do it all over again (because if the outcome of 7 investigations that didn't turn out the way they wanted, maybe the 8th time's the charm). It's the "Repeal Obamacare" rule of politics. If at first you don't succeed, try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try again. For 60+ times. Maybe the 61st Benghazi committee will find something!

Love the party of "fiscal responsibility". Yeah, not really pleased about them wasting my tax dollars this way.

Moving on... what the hell is the matter with America that we think "I like his attitude" makes a person qualified to be president of the United States? How is it that we blindly accept "I'm gonna build a wall and make Mexico pay for it, because WINNING!" and that is "good enough for me!".

Journalists also bear a large burden of the blame. They refuse to question and call out candidates' blatant lies. Their corporate owners are so afraid of losing GOP money and appearing left-leaning that they allow these folks to get away with anything. They report "Donald Trump said xyz", but they don't go on to say "and xyz is flat out bullshit and here's why."

Yet they seem to have no issue reporting negatively about Hillary Clinton (who has a last name, BTW). Interesting how she seems to be the main competition, she's a woman, and we have no issue making her look bad, and calling her only by her first name - minimizing her to the "little woman" role. Stop it. She is an amazingly accomplished woman. She is a gifted attorney, a former first lady, a former senator, a former Secretary of State. Treat her with respect. Or don't expect us to do the same for you.

And we have a nation of ignoramuses that thinks this is just grand. Because we don't want to educate our children. It might interfere with them being raptured. It might make them think for themselves, instead of blindly accepting what we tell them. I've spoken about this before - we are a nation that doesn't value critical thinking. We don't want anyone questioning our world view or forming a world view of their own. We are threatened by education.

And nothing makes that clearer than the field of GOP presidential candidates.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Why #AllLivesMatter is not all or nothing

I've seen this making the social media rounds. It's actually what prompted yesterday's post.

We are very black & white in this country (heh - excuse the pun).

Understanding the #BlackLivesMatter movement is not the equivalent of an anti-law enforcement agenda. Understanding that there is an institutional pattern of applying the law inequitably does not negate the good that law enforcement does. Is this the time when I use the cliched phrase "I have friends that are police officers, firefighters, etc"?  Well, it's true. I do. The woman I consider a daughter is in the Army. And I firmly stand behind their exemplary service.

But standing behind good law enforcement doesn't negate those who let their personal prejudices or fears infringe on their ability to perform their public service job effectively and fairly.

Yes, some things are black & white - no middle ground. However most things in this world are not. Because I support a woman's right to choose to have an abortion, or use birth control, or get equal pay for equal work, or breastfeed in public, or not be raped, or any number of other things - it does not mean I hate men. In fact, I love men! I'm actually married to one, and have chosen to spend the rest of my life with him. I've given birth to two men. I'm even willing to put up with those grey areas - like having to listen to them fart, or scratch their genitals, or watch my husband pull his own finger because it amuses him, or courtesy laugh at his silly jokes because it makes him happy. And because I love my husband and sons, I can actually find these traits amusing and endearing and lovable. Wow. Men are actually pretty freaking awesome!

See? I can support one cause without being against the other.

I fully support providing the tools to our law enforcement officials to allow them to do their jobs effectively. But by virtue of the fact that they are publicly funded by my tax dollars, it also means that they must comply with the law at all times. Actually, even though I'm not publicly funded, I am held to the same standards. Huh. Can we hold them to an even higher standard? I say yes. Those entrusted with public safety and security must be held to a higher standard in their professional lives. That also includes not just law enforcement, but policy makers, and other publicly funded professionals.

Every person carries their life experiences into their job. It's what you do with that experience and how you control its hold over your actions that makes you a better (or worse) human being and makes you accountable for your actions on the job.

Just because you have a difficult job and times right now are making that job even more difficult, doesn't mean that you get a pass on accountability. Swearing an oath to uphold the law means something. And if we can't hold you accountable for that, then we have a lawless society. We've done this before. The wild west was a crazy place, filled with vigilante justice. As a society, we decided that didn't work for us, and so we began to develop laws to deal with how justice should be served. Equally. Through the courts. Nobody gets to determine guilt or innocence, or prounounce and carry out sentence without due process.

And what many law enforcement officials have chosen to so is exactly that. They have made themselves judge and jury for people of color and pronounced and carried out a death sentence on people of color in this country.

Yes, you may be an asshole and an idiot if you talk back to law enforcement, or run from them, or don't comply with their orders. But that is not a crime punishable by death in this country. And guess what? Neither is approaching a home after an accident for help, or playing music loudly in your car punishable by death in this country. It's what makes us better than terrorists or dictatorships. It's what makes us American.

So yes, I will continue to support law enforcement - those who are doing it right. And I will also continue to call out injustices where they exist, including supporting the root cause of #BlackLivesMatter. Because it's not black and white. We need to call out the injustices against specific groups in order to wipe out those injustices.

Black people and women did not win the vote by  claiming "All Votes Matter", even though, hey - that was true. They won the vote by calling out the injustices against them and working to fix them. Sometimes loudly. Sometimes by being rude. Sometimes with violence. Usually legally. Sometimes not. But the bottom line is by calling out the injustice, they proved that all votes do matter.

And so, if that's what you really want, I'll be happy to unfriend you. It might make our holidays a little uncomfortable. It might make band gigs equally uncomfortable. It might cause a rift in the core values of our country - that we all have a right to be heard and that laws apply to everyone.

It also means I have 1 less person to suck my time up on social media. Well, ok then.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Guns, and the killing of police officers

I mourn the loss of the officers who have been murdered this past week (and ever). It's deplorable, and awful, and horrific. My heart aches for their families and loved ones, and the people who killed them should be swiftly apprehended, tried, convicted, and punished.

Guns can not only be used in the hands of Good Guys With Guns to protect Good Guys, but hey - people also use them to commit violent, disgusting crimes. These would be the Bad Guys With Guns doing Bad Guy things. Who'da ever thunk it? This applies whether the victim is a law enforcement officer hunted down because of their uniform, or a group in a church hunted down for the color of their skin. Bottom line is that we need to change how easy it is for anyone to get a gun in this country so that we can begin to discern who is the Good Guys With A Gun and who is the Bad Guys With A Gun. (More coming up in a different post on all the "gun laws don't work so we should just get rid of them all" bullshit.)

I find it interesting, though, that there is no "lone wolf" narrative associated when the gun violence is against law enforcement. No, this is obviously the work of an organized effort, probably the (whispers) black people in the Black Lives Matter group. It couldn't possibly be a single individual breaking the law. But all the other "isolated", "lone wolf" incidents against citizens couldn't possibly be the organized efforts of a single group (ahem, NRA) or groups (ahem, skinheads, racists, etc).

We all agree (supposedly) that All Lives Matter. But by highlighting injustice against a single group, all other groups don't automatically become null and void. Just like when extending the right to get married to homosexual couples in this country, we didn't automatically render the right to heterosexual marriages null and void - no matter how much certain Kentucky county clerks and Congressional idiots would like to think it actually did.

There is a growing desire to pin the premeditated murders of police officers on the Black Lives Matter movement. The bottom line is that law enforcement deaths in the line of duty are not on the rise. It's been a shitty couple of weeks for the law enforcement community, and by extension, the country. And that needs to stop. Immediately. But this year overall is no different than any other year, except that the number of on-duty law enforcement deaths by gunfire is actually down, not up.

According to Daily Kos (and their stats are all linked in the article):
Often, people who are sympathetic to police will quote that 83 police have died in the line of duty in 2015. And that is true, but what they aren't telling you is that 13 of those officers had heart attacks or that 19 died in car accidents or that three died because of 9/11-related illnesses.
A total of 26 police officers have been shot and killed in the line of duty this year. Each of those is tragic and a reflection of the violence in our country. This, though, is not some race-based dramatic uptick in police shooting deaths. Forty-seven officers were shot and killed in 2014 and we are on pace to have fewer than that this year. Comparatively, 662 people have been shot and killed by police in America as of September 1 and a total of 792 people have been killed by police altogether this year.
Not only that, but as the media attempts to blame black activists for these deaths, the truth they aren't telling you is that half of all police who've been shot and killed this year were actually African Americans. That, though, is inconvenient for their narrative.
I have no doubt that many, many of the people killed by police had been actively attacking police and that the use of force bby police was completely justified. I also don't doubt that many, many of those killed by police were simply standing with their hands in the air, being transported from one place to another, or smoking a cigarette in the car.

The argument that you get what's coming to you if you don't automatically obey the police goes against every law relating to due process we have. In this country, the fine for mouthing off to a police officer is not death. This is one thing that differentiates us from those terrorist nations we like to rail against. When we give law enforcement the keys to be judge and jury in the field, we violate everything this country was founded on.

Do I think you're an idiot (and probably a bit of an asshole) if you mouth off to the police? Indeed I do. Does that mean you're breaking the law? Nope, it does not.

To those of you in my social streams telling me that you don't want to be my friend anymore if I don't believe ALL LIVES MATTER, I say of course they matter. But I also say that calling out injustice is what this country was founded on. So I will continue to say that Black Lives Matter. Because that is the area where we sadly seem to disagree. So if you don't want to be my friend anymore, I will suffer through the loss like a good little martyr. The fact that we refuse to understand that we can have conversations and agree to disagree escapes so many of us. There is ALWAYS common ground (ok, almost always - pretty sure I don't agree with Ted Cruz on anything. Even if it's just that today is Wednesday). Our country is founded on the right to disagree with each other, but it' also founded on common sense. No, seriously.

However, if you allow disagreements to completely define who you associate with, then you will live a pretty lonely, unexciting, homogeneous life. And that makes me sad for you. *sadface* I will miss you if you unfriend or unfollow me (probably not, actually), but that is your choice. I hope that you eventually learn that it's ok to disagree. It's how you handle those disagreements that makes you the person you are.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Today in "Who's Hitlering"... the quote of the day and why Mike Huckabee is today's biggest asshole

"He will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven"
President wannabe and all-around gold-medal winning dick Mike Huckabee, on the Iran nuclear deal

So... presidential wannabe Mike Huckabee wins the choots-pah (TM Michele Bachmann) award for the day. Look Mike, I get that you all think that negotiating with Iran was the END OF THE WORLD. I get that you think we are DOOMED. Just like the US would cease to be the US if we elected that (black) dude. However dickish you want to be about it, feel free. Because you are indeed, a dick. But here's the thing.

Mike Huckabee, you don't get to appropriate my history for your own political gain. What you said... equating a peace deal with the death marches that led Jews to their deaths in the gas chambers and ovens of Nazi Germany's concentration camps? Well that puts you an a whole different plane of dick.

Especially given that I consider you to be one of the worst anti-semites out there. You Hitler all day long in the name of the Jews. But when push comes to shove, you advocate for the US to be a Christian nation. At its heart, that is the ultimate in antisemitism. So stop pretending you are so holy and righteous and just shut up.

Here's what your hypocritical self said in 2008 about Iran, Mike:
The US has "[not] had diplomatic relations with Iran in almost 30 years, and a lot of good it's done. We cannot live with al Qaeda, but we might be able to live with a contained Iran. Iran will not acquire nuclear weapons on my watch. But before I look parents in the eye to explain why I put their son's or daughter's life at risk, I want to do everything possible to avoid conflict. We have substantive issues to discuss with Tehran.

But since a deal happened on the (black dude) "Obama presidency which must never be acknowledged as legitimate", you have to denounce it. I get it. Like I said before, dick move.

Could the deal be better? Sure, it could be. Was it likely that we were going to get anything else? Probably not right now.

Here's the thing. We now have the time to work with Iran to make things better. To foster good will. To make them want to be part of the world community. At one point, Iran was a very westernized nation. At least it was until the US fucked with it.

So yes, it's not the ultimate in everything we wanted. But for the next 10-15 years, your dickish party has a choice: do we work toward making an even better deal for the very long term, or do we say fuck you to not only Iran, but the entirety of the international community and ruin any credibility that Pres Obama has gained back for us in his time in office? If we decide we won't honor the obligations that our President has made, then good luck in your term in office. Nobody in the international community will ever speak to you. And, fyi, Netanyahu won't be in office forever. At some point, Israel's love affair with far right-wing politicians in the US will end. Then you (and Israel) will be fucked, because you burned all your bridges.

I love Israel. That doesn't mean I have to love its political leadership. Because I don't. Just like I love the US. And don't always love its political leadership (looking at YOU, GOP).

Compromise has become such a dirty word. If we don't get our way - our WHOLE way EVERY TIME, we want to pick up our ball and go home. Thank goodness none of you asswipes are actually the actual president of the actual US, because Pres Obama realizes that a good deal that isn't perfect is better than no deal at all. For all of those idiots *TedCruzMikeHuckabeeEveryRepublicanPolitician* who have said "I would have turned this deal down and gone back for a better deal..."

Gee, I bet it never even occurred to John Kerry to try for a better deal! It sure is a sad thing you weren't at the negotiating table. Or running actual Murica. We would OWN the world!

Once the Camp David Accords were signed between Israel and Egypt, President Carter had this to say:
"We must not minimize the obstacles that still lie ahead," Mr. Carter said. "Differences still separate the signatories to this treaty from each other and also from some of their neighbors who fear what they have just done.

"To overcome these differences, to dispel those fears, we must rededicate ourselves to the goal of a broader peace with justice for all who have lived in a state of conflict in the Middle East.

"We have no illusions - we have hopes, dreams, and prayers, yes - but no illusions."
Thank goodness those 3 men were willing to compromise for the bigger vision. That deal wasn't even close to perfect for Israel or for Egypt. In fact, Sadat was assassinated in large part because of it. However, history has proven these men to all be heroes when it comes to the peace agreement. And they were right. Israel and Egypt have been at peace since then. Imagine if none of them were willing to compromise.

I found this, from the Association for Dilomatic Studies and Training, interesting, and a valuable lesson we can learn:
My problem with Camp David is two-fold: one that we gave away too much.... (Ed note: sound familiar?)

My second is this: that then we did not, either under Carter and certainly not under Reagan, take what we had obtained in Camp David and try to develop it into something more meaningful.

Now we can learn from the past (but will we?). We have the luxury of additional time to work on our relationship with Iran and make it into something "more meaningful". We can work to strengthen the deal over time.

But equating a decent deal that we think could have been better, that gives us time to get more conversation going, with deliberate mass extermination of the Jews makes you a real asshole.

And it needs to stop.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Wolves travel in packs, not alone... and other thoughts on hate vs terrorism

Yes, it's been a while. For my sanity, I backed off my blog. But holy hell people, what is happening to us?

I was thinking about posting something about the shootings in S Carolina, then Chatanooga happened. Then I was getting ready to post about that, when Lafayette happened. What the everloving fuck, America?

Also, how many black people have to die in police custody before we are ready to do something about it? When a hashtag #IfIDieInPoliceCustody has to be a thing, we have a very serious problem. And a heartbreaking one. And when the media doesn't even report on it? Yeah, crushing and a very big statement on how we value (or not) certain lives over others in this country.

Speaking of valuing lives, we obviously don't. We obviously place guns above lives. I am sick to fucking death of hearing about the "crazy, mentally ill lone wolves" out there. That pack of wolves is getting really freaking big. Wolves are by nature social, not solitary. They thrive on being with their pack - those that are like them. So by even calling these terrorists "lone wolves" we are already perverting the natural order. (Yeah, I went there. Just for you, Rick Santorum. And Mike Huckabee. And Ted Cruz. And Scott Walker.)

The killer in Louisiana bought the gun legally in a pawn shop. He was a far right wing ideologist who loved the Tea Party and Hitler. He didn't have a restraining order request against him because he was mentally ill. He had a restraining order request against him because he was violent with his family. Something all too familiar.

The conversation shouldn't be around "crazies" because any rational person would consider it "crazy" to commit mass murder. We all look at that and think, "That's fucking crazy!" The media throws out phrases like "obviously had 'mental problems'" like they're the fucking DSM. Armchair diagnoses do not help drive an educated conversation. So stop it, ok media? Just cut it out.

Also, people with mental health disorders are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators, so that argument doesn't hold water and I'm so sick of hearing it. It both devalues the conversation that should happen in this country around mental illness as well as devaluing human lives taken by gun violence.

The conversation instead needs to center around why we value guns more than lives in America. If we weren't willing to make changes after all those little precious kids killed at Sandy Hook, we just need to admit we value guns more than lives and find a way to move on. But I don't ever want to hear anyone who values guns more than children's lives call themselves pro-life, because that's a flat out bullshit of a lie.

So anyway... AG Loretta Lynch has announced that Dylann Roof (of S Carolina racist bullshit mass murder fame) will be tried on federal hate crime charges. Not on terrorism charges.

The FBI defines Domestic Terrorism thus:
"Domestic terrorism" means activities with the following three characteristics:
  • Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
  • Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
  • Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.

18 U.S.C. § 2332b defines the term "federal crime of terrorism" as an offense that:
  • Is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct; and
  • Is a violation of one of several listed statutes, including § 930(c) (relating to killing or attempted killing during an attack on a federal facility with a dangerous weapon); and § 1114 (relating to killing or attempted killing of officers and employees of the U.S.).
When asked why the hate crime charge instead of the terrorism charge, the AG said, "As you know, there is no specific domestic terrorism statute," and that Roof's act of racially motivated violence was "the original type of domestic terrorism."

Then call it that.

It matters.

It matters that we are trying Roof for hate crimes instead of terrorism.

Hate is an acceptable thing, especially for white men. Especially in America.

Terrorism is not.

Let’s recap. Hate = White and AOK. Terrorism = Brown and Bad.

So trying Roof on hate crimes makes him completely unexceptional in America today. In America, everybody hates. By definition, hate isn't illegal. It'seems a protected (and highly coveted) 1st amendment right.  By making Roof so unexceptional, we tacitly condone his crimes and make them completely acceptable; no different than any other crime.

Trying these people as the terrorists they are would take the conversation to a different place. Trying these people on terrorism charges would make it unacceptable to kill others who don't share your political views. It would put them on the same level as "RADICAL ISLAM" and "THOSE THAT WOULD DESTROY OUR WAY OF LIFE". Ask anyone who lost a loved one inside that church in S Carolina if that day destroyed their way of life. I’d bet the answer would be a resounding yes.

But we are unwilling to put white "lone wolf" men on the same playing field as "THOSE WHO WOULD DESTROY OUR WAY OF LIFE". So, unwilling to identify them as "THOSE WHO WOULD DESTROY OUR WAY OF LIFE", we try them on hate crime charges, and as a result we continue to see the same terrorist activity.

Over & over. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Because it's no big deal to hate in America. In fact, for these people, it’s a fucking badge of honor.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Anti-semitism and our kids

Given the tremendous rise of anti-semitism worldwide, I thought I'd start a series here to talk about it. It weighs heavily on my mind, especially as I envision the world my children and grandchildren will encounter in the future.

Jewish kids encounter anti-semitism at different times in their lives, but I've found that middle school is often when it first rears its ugly head. Both of my boys first encountered antisemitism at that age. It breaks my heart that they had to learn about such an awful thing personally, rather than in their history books.

I begin with a reprint of a post from my personal blog (intentionally not linked, for privacy). This is from June 7, 2010.

Helen Thomas can't beat us down. A 13 year old proves it. (originally published 6-7-2010)

I have been totally out of the news loop all weekend because of the bar mitzvah. I logged in today, and what did I find? Helen Thomas, a woman I've admired in the past for her tenacity, for leading the way for women journalists, for what I thought was her journalistic integrity, making incredibly anti-semitic remarks.

Given that we just dealt with anti-semitism at home (look to the bottom of this article for the reference), this not only appalls me, but just makes me incredibly sad and deflates me. She took the glow off of a wonderful weekend celebrating my family's Judaism.

In light of this, I thought I'd post my Youngest's bar mitzvah speech in its entirety (as written, not as ad-libbed for those of you that were there, although it's close *g*). It addresses how the Jews came to the Promised Land, after being freed from slavery in Egypt. I hope that Thomas realizes that the Jews have been in Israel (Canaan, actually, long before it was ever called Palestine) for much longer than they've been in Germany or Poland.

[The only edits I have made are to delete specific names and our town's name.]

Shabbat Shalom. Welcome to Everyone. Thank you for coming to celebrate my bar mitzvah with me. This morning's torah portion is called Shelach L'cha from the book of Numbers. It is about what happened to the Jews after they got out of Egypt. Picture this: The Israelites were standing on the edge of the Jordan River, looking over at the land of Canaan. Moses sent in twelve spies to find out if the Jewish people could live in the Promised Land. After searching Canaan thoroughly, the spies came back and had interesting news for Moses. Ten of the twelve spies thought that it was impossible and that even with help from God the Israelites would be crushed. Two of them thought just the opposite. They said that they could take them and that with help from God there was no way they could possibly be defeated. So, as most people do, they went by majority vote and didn't go into the land of Canaan. This story carries over into the haftarah portion. This portion is about when Joshua, one of the original spies who thought positively, sent two spies to the land of Jericho. The reason he sent in only two was because only two of the spies Moses sent in said that they could win. These spies were different from the spies that Moses sent because they had two things that most of the other spies didn't. 1. They had help from a woman named Rachab. 2. They had faith in God. After staying on Rachab's roof for a while and watching, they came back to Joshua and thought like Joshua did. They said that the Israelites could win and conquer the land of Jericho. So, according to majority, the Israelites went in and they won. They were now living in the Promised Land after wandering in the desert for forty years.

From this we learn that faith in God and in yourself can make a HUGE difference in the way we think, act, and feel. A great example of this is the children's book "The Little Engine That Could". This story is about a small train that wanted to go up a hill. All of the other trains said "you can’t do it" but the little train engine kept saying "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can" because he believed in himself. Another great example of this concept is what you’ve all just witnessed. I had to have faith in myself to believe that I could learn all this Hebrew, plus an additional torah portion, PLUS the Ashrei, which Mrs. xxxx gave me only two weeks before my bar mitzvah.

Being Jewish is important to me and my family because I would like the people who have survived for almost 4,000 years to live on for thousands and thousands of years to come. Also, I would like to teach my children and my children's children to read and study torah, and to hopefully live long enough to see them give a speech just like this one at their Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Plus, it's just fun to come to temple and to see all of the congregation, and friends and family.

To me becoming a bar mitzvah means diving into the world as a Jewish adult and to finally be considered one. Also this is one of the only times I can look my brother in the eye and say "I did something that you did! And I probably did it better!" I really hope that becoming an adult means that people will treat me with more respect.

As a Jewish adult I will continue to come to temple, read and study torah and try and find ways to improve myself as a Jew. Also I will continue on and go to Judaica High to greatly widen my Jewish knowledge.

For my mitzvah project, I chose to feed the hungry of [our town]. I chose to do this because Food and I, we just go together great! I wanted everyone to feel the awesomeness of a good meal. With help from some friends, we gave an amazing meal of turkey, yams, mashed potatoes, and much more to those who couldn't afford a Thanksgiving meal. Don't worry, if I’m making you hungry, the reception is almost here so don't hassle me for food! Also, during the High Holidays, I asked the congregation to bring in bags of canned food for the group, SOVA. SOVA is a food cabinet that supplies food for Los Angeles and [our town]. [ed. note: SOVA is a food pantry operated by Jewish Family Services. They do NOT discriminate as to whom they give their food]

In Hebrew, the words Todah Rabbah mean thank you. I would like to say Todah Rabbah to the Rabbi for not only helping me learn Hebrew for 6 or 7 years, but for being positive and for always encouraging me to do my best. And you know what? It really helped, Thank you. I would also like to thank the Cantor for all of his Jewlarious jokes and for his beautiful music. I would like to thank Mrs. xxxxx for all of her help and support, and for pretty much being my teacher and guidance counselor since kindergarten. And thanks to M for tutoring me and making me repeat every line of every prayer a bunch of times, because that really helped me get them down. I would also like to thank E, J, and the rest of their Girl Scout troop for helping me serve the homeless at the Thanksgiving dinner. Next I would like to thank my friends for always being there and supporting me. And for making me laugh when I bring my Hebrew stuff to school and you try to read it! Next, I would like to thank my father for helping me prepare my nerves for this occasion and for helping me with my Hebrew. Or at least pretending to. I would also like to thank my mother for pushing me to do things even if I'm scared because most of the time, I tend to like what I'm doing. Last and most, I would like to thank my brother. Dude, I know we fight and call each other names, and throw stuff at each other, and are mean to each other and so on and so forth, but you're my brother and I love you. You are probably the biggest inspiration of my life and are a hell of a friend. Thank you for being the brother that you are. I love you, man.

Thank you all and Shabbat shalom!

Take THAT, Helen Thomas. You can't beat down a people who refuse to be beaten down.


The "anti-semitism at home" remark above refers to the following from a post in May 2010, as we were sending out invitations for the above bar mitzvah.

My son is having his bar mitzvah next month. He invited loads of friends. He came home today and told me that the father of one of his friends ripped up the invitation and won't let her come. Because Youngest is Jewish. This is a girl whose house he has been to numerous times, who has been to our home tons of times, who he has hung out with since 5th grade. She's his good friend. I think this is likely Youngest's first real, personal brush with anti-semitism. I want to be able to tell him that we don't accept this kind of behavior in general in the US, but now I'd be a liar.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A silly but apparently necessary clarification: I don’t hate Christians

Though why this requires clarification astounds me.

I’ve been very critical recently of the far right conservative Christian movement. I believe with good reason.

Before we get into this, I should note: *tongue in cheek* Some of my best friends are Christians.

Seriously, though, several of my good friends (and even family) are very conservative Christians – they would have to be, where I live. The thing about it, though, is that they don’t try to force their religious beliefs on me, just like I don’t try to force my religious beliefs on them. We each go about our own business in our religious and daily lives.

For myself, I appreciate that these folks have faith of any sort, just as I like to think they appreciate the same about me. I also understand and appreciate those folks who do not believe in a particular religion, or who identify as atheists. Frequently, these people are very spritual. And even if they aren't, what business of it is mine? There is nothing wrong with that. Yay! We are all free to do what we want in our own lives. I am a very live and let live person, and it really irks my shit when others aren't.

I also have many Muslim friends. The one thing they don’t do is to try to force their religious beliefs on me. And I return the favor.

I have some Hindi friends. The one thing they don’t do is to try to force their religious beliefs on me. And I return the favor.

I have Buddhist friends. And Orthodox Jewish friends. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

What I object to about the very vocal conservative Christian movement in the media and politics, is their desire to force their religious beliefs onto me. Our country was founded by many different religions, and many different factions of Christianity – Quakers, Puritans, Protestants, Catholics, Church of England, as well as other religions (though few and far between in the Americas at the time). The idea is that none of them wanted to be beholden to the Church of England. They didn't appreciate being forced to practice what others told them (except when it came time to convert the Native Americans). They did their own thing. Each different religion.

The founding fathers and Constitution that our right-wing media and politicians and supreme court seem to revere so much made it very clear. So clear, in fact, that it is the very first amendment they made to the Constitution our modern day right-wingers love so much. The first clause in the first amendment. The first in the Bill of Rights. The first right afforded to our citizens.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

In other words, you are free to exercise your religion, just as I am free to exercise my religion. But the government cannot tell us what that religion should be. This really isn't so difficult a concept, is it? Really?

Yet, the idea that I must, by law, be free to be able to practice my religion seems to threaten some people. It translates to persecution in their minds. I should repeat my previous paragraph.

You are free to exercise your religion, just as I am free to exercise my religion.

Nowhere does it say that you are not free to practice your religion. However, almost 250 years of precedent in US law have said that you can’t cram your religion down my throat - to use a phrase that the right seems to love so much. Not sure what the fascination is with cramming things down throats is to them, but to each his own…

Until we educate our people about different religions, societies, histories, we will be "scared" of that which is different. But we are actively legislating the de-education of our society. So that we can spout our own beliefs and nobody will think or know to dissent. This is exactly what we claim to hate about the Middle East and the Muslim countries that reside there. Hypocrisy much?

What we fail to recognize or admit is that we are acting exactly as the radicals in the Middle East who claim to be acting in the name of Allah. Only we are doing it in the name of the one and only real deity - the "Christian G-d". Hypocrisy much?

I posted this as my Facebook status yesterday and I realized that I do post quite a bit about Christians acting very un-Christian-like.
Today in Who's Holocausting:

According to Fox Fake News, we are having a holocaust against Christians. When 6 million Christians are murdered and the world stands by and does nothing, we can talk. Until then, shut up with your ideas of Christian persecution. Having to allow other religions into your society and not being allowed to force your beliefs on them does not equal persecution.

In the words of Inigo Montoya: I don't think that word means what you think it means.

First off, FFS, stop with the Holocausting & Nazi-ing of everyone who thinks differently than you or doesn't agree with you. It's really getting old, and you are actively and deliberately undermining the importance of what happened to so many in the actual Holocaust.

I've said this before. Because we are failing as a nation to educate our children about history and world cultures, we are actively denying that anything bad has ever happened to any people. Except all the wrongs done to us, of course.

Back to my original point.

To me, people of faith live the faith that they say so heartily they believe. They try to do good in the world. They try to help those less fortunate. They try to be kind.

What they don’t do, is publicly brag about how amazingly religious they are, how superior they are because of it, and how they follow all the teachings of Christ while at the same time:
  • Legislating discrimination as a G-d given right
  • Actively pursuing and advocating policy that hurts and penalizes those less fortunate
  • Actively undermining those that do look for ways to help the less fortunate
  • Attempting to legislate unconstitutional laws (ie, America’s national religion is Christianity)
  • Saying that we must follow the laws in the Bible, while actively not following the laws in the Bible
  • Getting all judgy and forgetting the whole "Judge not, lest you be judged" thingy. 
  • Picking and choosing which laws to follow (at that point, you are not a fundamentalist Christian – you are a reform Jew, lol). FYI, you don't get to say that "the gays" are breaking biblical law when you are a tattoo-riddled, hair-cutting, shrimp & pork-eating adulterer.
  • Actively trying to outlaw a specific religion
  • Actively pursuing religious war
  • Actively pursuing treason by attempting to undermine our President
  • Actively trying to undermine the success of our country simply because they don’t like the fact we have a Black dude in the White house
  • Actively trying to take away the autonomy of our women citizens
  • Claiming their right to kill other people with a firearm is what G-d wants
  • Claiming they lurrrve the "Jewish state" so very much, while attempting to outlaw Judaism in their own country (again with the Christianity as a national religion). 
  • Pursuing hypocrisy as a life legacy

The difference in my mind is between “Religion” and “Faith”. Real people of faith manage to live their lives according to their faith without feeling the need to brag about what a good [insert religion here] they are. And they accept the fact that others’ faith is as important to that person as their own religion is to themselves.

You don’t get to claim that you are persecuted simply because I don’t like you "cramming your religion down my throat". You are free to practice your Christianity. I am free to practice my Judaism. My other friends are free to practice Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Satanism, Pastafarianism… whatever.

Just because the law says I am free to practice my Judaism (or Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Satanism, Pastafarianism… whatever) doesn't mean that you are being persecuted for being a Christian (and vice versa). Just because the law says you can't force your Christianity on me (and vice-versa) doesn't mean you are being persecuted.

That is the rhetoric that bothers me so very much. When Christians (or any religion) are no longer free to practice their religion as a group, then I will agree that they are being persecuted.

Until then, STFU.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Quote of the day: Boehner wins the choots-pah award

Listen, I, I’d like to act. We’ve got a humanitarian crisis on the border, and that has to be dealt with. But the president clearly isn’t going to deal with it on his own, even though he has the authority to deal with it on his own.
~ John Boehner, on 7/23, in response to a reporter's question on why Congress hasn't acted on the border "crisis"


Look, Mr. Boehner, you can't have it both ways.

You happen to be taking the President to court because he acted on his "authority to deal with [shit you won't] on his own". Did you forget that fact?

I don't think you have. You have completely set up the President for a damned if you do, damned if you don't scenario that is totally perpetuated by the media, who is afraid to report facts. Like the President is within his authority to use executive powers. Or that Congress can't (or won't) do shit for the country because (whispers) the President is black, and how on earth can we let (whispers) the black dude, have any sort of positive record? Why, it would mean that the entire stereotype of the lazy, violent, do-nothing, live off the state black male that you've spent centuries perpetuating might be a false narrative. And then we might elect another black dude one day! Why, my delicate sensibilities!  *faints dead away*

The truth is this. President Obama has asked for funding to help control the "situation" on the border - which Bee Tee Dubs is not a "situation" requiring little children to be shot on sight, sent to jail, yelled at, mocked with misspelled signs, or any other such Christian American Way nonsense as your peeps have perpetuated in the name of Jeebus our holy rolling over in his grave lord. (wait - does Jesus have a grave to roll over in if he got up out of it? Just askin. Jew here.) You have refused to give up that funding. Because "humanitarian crisis" and all.

If the President were to act unilaterally (like, "on his own" and all), you would get to call him out and criticize whatever he does. Without having to commit to anything at all during an election year. Because then you might get called out by some other compassionate conservative for actually doing your job and helping people and then lose the election. Because helping people? Blasphemy!!! Personal Responsibility!!! (TM Paul Ryan)

But to actually out loud in public for realz say you aren't going to do your job because the President isn't "overstepping his authority" to "deal with it on his own"?

That takes choots-pah... errrr.... chutzpah. (because again: Jew here.)

And for that, you win the You've Got Balls award today.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Here's the thing about Israel, and the quote of the day

"If Palestine were to lay down their guns tomorrow, there would be no war. If Israel were to lay down theirs, there would be no Israel."
~ Benjamin Netanyahu

So Israel is at war once again.

Once again, this teeny tiny nation in a huge sea of nations is defending her right to exist.

Make no mistake. That is exactly what this war is about. It's not about territorial issues in Gaza. If it was, then Hamas would have accepted Israel's offers in the past to give territory back. It's not about statehood. If it was, Hamas would have accepted Israel's past offer of statehood.

No, this war is about Israel either existing or being wiped off the face of the earth.

I read a post over at The Moderate Voice this morning that reminded me of this very fact, even though I really needed no reminders. It was about the movie Conspiracy, which outlines how the Nazi leadership sat around a table and plotted out the Final Solution.
The persecution and mass killing of Jewish people sounds like an ancient biblical reference – but the problem is that for Jewish folks, the horrors from that dreadful period in the 30’s and 40’s are still alive and well. So as much as I disagree with Israel’s tactics in the current war against Palestine, I absolutely understand why millions of Jews consider the war as a form of self defense. Israel’s neighbours have directly threatened their existence and you don’t have to look far in Arabian politics to find anti-Jewish sentiments.
It's true. We still have many Holocaust survivors telling their stories. People who were held captive in concentration camps, people who fled for their lives, some only to be turned away at the borders of other countries. There are millions and millions of first generation survivors - people whose parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins died because a group wanted to wipe them from the face of the earth.

From the Charter of Hamas:
Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors...

For our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by successive battalions from the multifarious Arab and Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated and Allah's victory prevails.

So, for a people who remember their parents being exterminated in gas chambers, being starved to death, forced to work as slaves in concentration camps, medically experimented on, gunned down for fun, having everything taken from them simply because of their religion and a belief that they are genetically inferior... for those people to stand up and wish to fight against an organization whose stated purpose is to eliminate the Jews? It's a no brainer.

Never again.

But for the world to forget that this is at the heart of this war, and for the world to blame Israel for it. Well, that is simply wrong. It's a willful misinterpretation of history, it's a willful misinterpretation of the reality of the middle east as it is today, and frankly, as it has been throughout history.

So here's the thing about Israel.

This is the map that most people see all the time on their TVs, on networks and news organizations. And looking at it, well, why wouldn't the world think Israel should be willing to compromise and give away that teeny bit of land called the Gaza Strip?

But here's the thing. Look at this below. Look at it. This is the reality of the Middle East. That little red dot in the sea of yellow? That is Israel. The yellow? Those are the Muslim countries that surround it.

This is not a fight about borders. It's not a fight about land. Look at that map. Just look at it.

Here is what Israel has given away in the past.

Hamas will not be happy until all of the blue on that map is gone.

They continually turn down offers of statehood, as well as land for peace. From JewishVirtualLibrary.org:
The Palestinians have actually had numerous opportunities to create an independent state, but have repeatedly rejected the offers:

In addition, from 1948 to 1967, Israel did not control the West Bank. The Palestinians could have demanded an independent state from the Jordanians.

The Palestinians have spurned each of these opportunities. A variety of reasons have been given for why the Palestinians have in Abba Eban’s words, “never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Historian Benny Morris has suggested that the Palestinians have religious, historical, and practical reasons for opposing an agreement with Israel. He says that "Arafat and his generation cannot give up the vision of the greater land of Israel for the Arabs. [This is true because] this is a holy land, Dar al-Islam [the world of Islam]. It was once in the hands of the Muslims, and it is inconceivable [to them] that infidels like us [the Israelis] would receive it."

The Palestinians also believe that time is on their side. "They feel that demographics will defeat the Jews in one hundred or two hundred years, just like the Crusaders." The Palestinians, Morris says, also hope the Arabs will acquire nuclear weapons in the future that will allow them to defeat Israel.

I truly believe that the majority of both the Palestinian and Israeli people want peace. I believe that the majority of them are horrified to see Allah's name being used as an instrument of war and hate, in the same way that I hate to see G-d's name used as an instrument of war and hate. I believe they want to live and work and be with their families, and play in their yards, and pray in their houses of worship in peace. But the hard truth and the bottom line is that the Palestinian people democratically elected a terrorist organization to represent them, and that will never bring about peace because Hamas will never accept Israel's right to exist. And Israel will never lay down her arms and surrender her right to exist.

Until the Palestinians (and Israelis, too) stand up to their governments and yell that they want peace and demand COMPROMISE, peace will never happen. I've spoken before about how compromise has become a dirty word. Never more obvious than in the middle east conflict. As long as the Palestinians elect terrorists, and as long as the Israelis elect uncompromising assholes, discussions can't even begin.

It would be better if the Netanyahu quote I led with substituted Hamas for Palestine. As I noted above, most Palestinians want peace. But the sentiment behind the quote? Spot on.

Do I think that Benjamin Netanyahu is an asshole? Yes.

Do I think he's a self-important blowhard? Yes.

But do I doubt for a minute that right now he is fighting for Israel's right to exist? Not for a minute.

Do I think he will protect Israel with everything he has? Yes.

Do I approve of his message? Not always (in fact, seldom).

But do I approve of his mission? Abso-fricken-lutely.

"If Palestine were to lay down their guns tomorrow, there would be no war. If Israel were to lay down theirs, there would be no Israel."
~ Benjamin Netanyahu

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

This is why we can't have nice things

Well then. We finally found out who scares the crap out of the NRA. Turns out, it’s the same garbage that scares the crap out of the rest of America.

Following a Memorial Day weekend where OpenCarry Texas managed to harass, bully, and intimidate a Marine, hold a successful rally sponsored by the idiot chair of Home Depot, and lost bids to open carry in Chipotle, Sonic, & Chili’s and other locations where NORMAL people gather with their families and children to go about their daily business, the NRA issued a statement that OpenCarry Texas was just plain weird and downright scary.

They also labeled Open Carry Texas' actions as “hijinx” and “just not neighborly”.

How… understated…and polite...  of them.

Well, it seems that kind of crazytalk and hyperbole didn’t go over well with the crazyass people down in Texas who think they should have the right to intimidate you & me into not knowing who’s a “good guy with a gun” and who’s a “bad guy with a gun”. Maybe they think I’ll try and draw on them while pushing my cart with a big red bullseye on it and they can have a whooping good time shooting up me & my local Target, taking out all those terrorist babies and the like.

What? Target wouldn't call itself that and use a big ol' bullseye as its symbol if'n they didn't want JimmyJoeJimBob to go taking "target" practice there, aint that right? Get it? Target? AMIRITE?

Well, the NRA didn’t cotton to being intimidated by these crazyass mofos because NOBODY intimidates the NRA, so of course the NRA immediately backed off and ‘pologized, kissed the ring of the Almighty AK-47, and begged them not to tear up their sacred NRA membership cards, and please, oh please, continue to worship at the Almighty altar of Wayne LaCrazysauce Pierre and the Almighty 2nd Amendment.

Wonder what will happen when the first Stand Your Ground case happens where the owner of a business felt in danger for his life and shoots to kill one of these dumbasses. I'm guessing it'll be the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral to end all Gunfights at the O.K. Corral. And there won't be a trial for the good guy with a gun because he'll be dead as a doornail, having been slaughtered by good guys with guns. Stay tuned, because that is bound to happen next.

Because Freedom!

Because Murica!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Letting sleeping dogs lie? Hell no, I won't. #NotOneMore

I've heard a lot this week, just like I've heard after every other mass murder... "Now isn't the time to politicize this." "Let the families mourn in peace." "Don't bring politics into it now." "Politicizing this tragedy isn't right."

I have to say, "If not now, when?"

Now seems the appropriate time for this quote:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.
Soon, there will be nobody left to speak for the gun victims. If we don't speak now, who will speak for us, when the victim is us?

I firmly agree and believe that the families should not be hounded for their thoughts by a media that is gleefully looking for dirty laundry. I believe that we should let them be...

However... when is it ok to discuss a tragedy like this and make it about public policy? If we continue to wait while the families mourn, the next shooting will happen and then we have to wait again.

I pointed out that I was pissed off to receive a postcard from Ted Strickland the morning after the shooting in Isla Vista - his own previous district. I was told that the timing had nothing to do with the shooting, and I was politicizing it. Of course, he didn't cancel his robocall that day, either.

No, I wasn't politicizing it. I was sharing my outrage about our gun culture in America. And I have every right to do that.

I have every right to be angry that politicians continue to do absolutely nothing to prevent these tragedies from happening, in an era where we have:

  • More than 100,000 people shot each year, according to  The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence.
  • Between 2000 and 2010, a total of 335,609 people died from guns -- more than the population of St. Louis, Mo. (318,069), Pittsburgh (307,484), Cincinnati, Ohio (296,223), Newark, N.J. (277,540), and Orlando, Fla. (243,195) (sources: CDF, U.S. Census; CDC)
  • One person is killed by a firearm every 17 minutes, 87 people are killed during an average day, and 609 are killed every week. (source: CDC)

As a citizen of this country, of the world, I have every right to be furious that we continue to do nothing about gun violence in this country.

When is it ok to ask that we have a rational discussion about the facts of gun violence? When is it ok to discuss matters of public policy? Is it after 1 day? 1 week? 1 year? 1 more death? 10 more deaths? 100 more deaths? When?

When is it enough? This headline out of Arizona today: Boy, 3, kills baby while playing with gun
Seriously. When is it enough? When is it time to talk about this?

I firmly believe the families should grieve as they see fit. Leave them alone. Don't go asking for sound bites. However, one of the fathers of a student killed last week made this statement:
"I don’t care about your sympathy. I don’t give a s--- that you feel sorry for me,” Richard Martinez said during an extensive interview, his face flushed as tears rolled down. “Get to work and do something. I’ll tell the president the same thing if he calls me. Getting a call from a politician doesn’t impress me."...
"Today, I'm going to ask every person I can find to send a postcard to every politician they can think of with three words on it: Not One More. People are looking for something to do. I'm asking people to stand up for something. Enough is enough."

I saw a statement today that everyone who kills with a gun is mentally ill, and this is all about mental illness.

Neither part of that statement is true. True, the killer in this case was mentally ill. But, in the grand scheme of things, that is not the relevant point. Mentally ill people are far more likely to be victims of gun violence than perpetrators. Additionally, by taking the onus off of policymakers to curb gun violence, we place the fault directly on the mentally ill.

Where it does not belong.

No, it belongs on policymakers who are in the pocket of big lobbyists like the NRA. It belongs on fearmongers and hate-rousers like Wayne LaPierre. It belongs squarely on the shoulders of our cowardly Congress who refuse to pass any legislation around gun control, and in fact pass legislation forbidding our own government to research the statistics surrounding it. And it belongs on the SCOTUS who has allowed unchecked money to pour into campaigns, rather than to force politicians to stand up for what they truly believe without the fear of big money abandoning them.

It belongs firmly on the shoulders of people like Todd Kincannon.

I don't want to live in a country or a world where we get enjoyment, no, where they gleefully get enjoyment out of other people's tragedies. These people who purport to be god-fearing Christians are hate-mongers of the worst order. The answer to WWJD is that he would be rolling over in his grave about now. Horrified at how his teachings have been twisted for personal profit and gain.

In a world where killing little babies in a mass murder only makes people more crazy and insistent that they be armed, I'm at a loss. All I know how to do is to speak out.  And so I will continue to do so. If you don't like it, you are free to mute me. Unfriend me. Block me. Shun me. Ignore me.

The one thing you will NOT do is quiet me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

In today's "What the holy hell?"

I hope that you can forgive him one day, because he’s obviously struggled with this and struggled to this day, and I hope that she could forgive him. 
~ Marion, Indiana Superior Court Judge Kurt Eisgruber, imposing his beliefs on the victim rather than applying the law while sentencing a man convicted of 6 felony counts relating to drugging, raping & videotaping the raping of his wife to home confinement and NO JAIL TIME.
Per the LA Times:
At trial, Wise did not confess to sexually assaulting his wife, but did admit having the videos on his phone, said Curtis, the prosecutor.

Wise also told the jury why he had been drugging his wife: "She was snippy and it made her nicer when he drugged her," according to the prosecutor.
Well, that’s sure legal justification for drugging & raping someone, rather than, oh I don’t know… WALKING AWAY.

This sentence ought to make his wife far more comfortable, having him CONFINED TO THEIR HOME rather than rotting in a jail cell for RAPING & DRUGGING her.

And of course, she's the smaller person if she doesn't find it deep in her must-be-religious heart to forgive him for multiple years of sexual violence and abuse. Meanwhile, no therapy was required for him, no apology was given, and no remorse was shown. But she should forgive him. Because who gives a shit how the victim feels. A poor man might lose his freedom over this.

Because of course! Because rape culture. Because if she wasn't snippy, he wouldn't have had to drug and rape her, and video it so he could taunt her repeatedly. Yup. It's all her fault. Because of course it is.

Sentencing standards and guidelines were completely ignored in this case, since each of the 6 convictions carries a recommended sentence of 6 to 20 years in Indiana, with 10 years being the actual recommended term. Wise was sentenced to 8 years home confinement and then 12 years suspended for a total 20 year sentence of  "Go to your room, you were a bad boy."

Meanwhile, pot brownies net life in prison.

Yup, no war on women here. Move along, please. Next…

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Quote of the day: This is why we can't have nice things

KKK Forms Neighborhood Watch To Complement Police In Pennsylvania Town

So... PA is a Stand Your Ground state.

So... the KKK is gonna be the neighborhood watch. I wonder who's going to watch them?

So... Best tell all the kids to stay off the streets and not carry any Skittles.

Also, the statement bu the imperial wizard? Priceless.
"It’s just like any neighborhood watch program. It’s not targeting any specific ethnicity. We would report anything we see to law enforcement. We don’t hate people. We are an organization who looks out for our race. We believe in racial separation. God created each species after its kind and saw that it was good."
Ignorance at its finest. Wonder if anyone bothered to point out to him that we are all the same species. Homosapiens. That's right. As in HOMO.

Meaning "same".

Why yes, I did just call the imperial wizard of the KKK a homo. Homosapien.

Monday, April 28, 2014

An open letter to Secretary Kerry. Good luck with your "apartheid" approach.

Dear Secretary Kerry,

Imagine if you will, that Mexicans are attacking the US with suicide bombings every day, that our neighbors in all the surrounding countries refuse to acknowledge our right to exist as “Americans”, and that Mexico has in its charter the stated goal of wiping the US off the face of the earth. These same neighbors have launched unprovoked attacks on us over the years, and we have won those skirmishes and taken some land along with it, say, annexing Texas or something like that. Imagine that our conflict with Mexico is based on the differences in our religions, both of which are thousands of years old, and the conflict is nearly that old.

Now imagine that the entire rest of the world is siding with all our neighbors. Imagine that everyone wants us to give Texas back to Mexico, to not build any houses for the Americans now living in Texas. Oh, and if we don’t acknowledge the right of Texas to be its own country and give Texas back, the world will turn against us and declare us at fault for instability in the Americas.

Absurd, no?

Try being Israel.

You expect Israel to negotiate with people who have it in their charter to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, and who refuse to acknowledge its right to exist as a sovereign nation and as a sanctuary for the Jewish people (hello, that was the entire purpose for setting it up after WW2). The conflict over Israel is thousands of years old, yet we purport, in our typical American arrogance, to settle this thousands years old conflict in the historic blink of an eye, to know what's best for everyone, to assume we are right and everyone else is wrong.

We cannot undo in 35 years what has taken thousands of years to evolve. Or perhaps we could, if we ever had such visionaries as Carter, Begin, and Sadat around again. Sadly, we don’t have those 3 men all alive anymore, willing to work together for peace, prosperity and stability for their peoples. We cannot force our ideas on a sovereign nation. We’ve tried – how well did that go for us in Iraq?

For you to accuse Israel of becoming an apartheid nation – when it is the victim of unprovoked attacks and terrorism every single day of the year, is ridiculous. Israel has every right to protect itself, and should not require the approval of Daddy to do it. We should be backing Israel because it is the only democratic nation in the region. Because it is simply trying to exist peacefully in a hostile environment, where everyone would rather see it disappear as a blip in the footnotes of history. Because we fought for their right to exist as a state in the first place.

If you asked me (which you haven’t because you don’t know me from bupkus), I would tell you that a two-state solution is probably the best long-term outcome for both sides. If you asked most Palestinians or Israelis, they would probably tell you the same. I would also tell you that we cannot force that to happen. When one of those states refuses to acknowledge the right of the other to exist, then a two-state solution is not likely.

Personally, I think Netanyahu is a blow-hard, puffed up, militant asshole. But I completely agree with him that Israel should not and can not negotiate with the PA until they denounce Hamas’ stated goal of eliminating Israel and the Jews from existence. And publicly acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. Without caveats.

In a world where anti-semitism is growing and hate is becoming more normative than fringe, the rhetoric you used in invoking apartheid on Yom HaShoah is a clear signal to anti-Semites that you will do nothing to stop them, that you give your tacit approval, that you agree. In a world where to compromise is to lose, sadly there can be no compromising. Because we have taken compromise off the table in Israel. You want Israel to give everything, and get nothing. Unconditional surrender. To terrorists. When extremism is the acceptable norm, there can be no moderation.

Do you maybe remember our response to a single act of terror against us? Hmmm? I'm pretty sure we've been in a war for over a decade because of it. The hypocrisy in our nation's stance on Israel is astounding. (Though maybe not, because we seem to be hypocritical on a lot of things lately). It's ok for us, the mighty United States of America,  if we get attacked, just once, to start a global conflict that lasts for well over a decade, but when another sovereign nation, who is not us, is attacked on a daily basis, when the entire region in which it lives is trying to exterminate them from existence, we ask - no, tell - them to use restraint, to "take the high road", to negotiate, to give up their fight for freedom from terrorism, or else they are impeding the peace process, at fault, practicing apartheid.

You may hope that your harsh words do something to spur both sides back to the table. You may hope that your harsh words shame Israel into doing your bidding. But somehow I doubt that Bibi Netanyahu gives a flying fuck what you think. Nor do I think that Abbas or the PA give a flying fuck what you think. If you want to present the almighty US solution and tell both sides to "take it or leave it", my guess is they will leave it, because why? Oh yeah, they don't give a flying fuck what you think.  And the only reason I give a flying fuck what you think, is because you are the face of US policy, and in this instance, that's shameful.

An American Jew

ETA: Ted Cruz, you would grab anything to try and disgrace the Obama administration. Kerry does not need to resign over this. He just needs to apologize. And mean it.

ETA: If this is legitimate, then I am satisfied.