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
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.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Barbara Walters couldn't be more wrong about Woody Allen, and here's why

Oh Barbara. You are perpetuating every single myth about sexual abuse there is.

"I've seen him with his children. He's a loving father. So he can't possibly be a child molester."

"He can't be a child molester because he *married* Soon-Yi after he slept with her. Who cares if she was his 17 yo step-daughter?  And it's all a-ok because it was consensual."

And also, who cares anyway, because the statue of limitations has expired. So whatevs. *gives the raspberry*

She is so wrong on every point. Having nothing to do with whether he did it or not (this time, because he did it before with his underage step-daughter). She is wrong to perpetuate these myths about child sexual abuse.

She accuses Dylan Farrow of writing this article because Woody Allen is up for an award. Bullshit. She accused him years ago, and as recently as 4 months ago - back when award season was a twinkle in our eye.

No. A man who thinks that it is ok to sleep with his underage stepdaughter does not deserve my unquestioning support.

A man who thinks it is ok to sleep with his underage step-daughter is a pedophile. A child molester.

And research shows that if an offender acts he is likely to do it again.

In her statements, Barbara Walters is perpetuating rape culture. It must be the girl - she's lying. And Walters has a lot of celebrity support. In a tweet (now deleted), Stephen King called Dylan Farrow's article "palpable bitchery". The Daily Beast, instead of saying "no charges have been filed" or something similarly factual, stated that "he has the presumption of innocence." Meaning Dylan Farrow is presumed lying.

When it comes to sexual abuse, there is no middle ground. No misinterpretation. No "maybe I saw it, but I'm not sure." He either touched her and molested her or he didn't. And by giving him the presumption of innocence, you accuse Farrow of lying.

Before you start in on me, yes. Our constitution guarantees us the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. That is in the judicial system. We all know that Woody Allen has never been charged with a sexual crime. Therefore, there is no judicial system at work here. You either believe him, or you believe Dylan Farrow. The journal, Violence Against Women, published a study in 2010 that placed the incidence of false allegations of rape at between 2 and 10%.

That means at a minimum of 90% and potentially as high as 98% of the time, allegations of sexual abuse are true.

And yet, we presume that he is innocent. Which, by default, presumes the victim is lying.

And Allen's attorney places the blame on Mia Farrow, a "vengeful lover". First off, I think Mia Farrow is happy that she isn't with him. I'm pretty sure she doesn't want him back. Also, this statement once again minimizes Dylan Farrow. The woman is 28 years old. She doesn't need her mommy to tell her what to do.

Like I said, I have no idea if he did it or not. I'm inclined to believe that he did. But, to perpetuate a culture that claims a girl or a woman must be lying about abuse, because "he's such a nice man" is pure and unadulterated bullshit.

And that's why Barbara Walters has it all wrong.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Quote of the day... double standards...

“How many second chances before they’re not second chances anymore?”
~Assistant State Attorney Richard Mantei, discussing Marissa Alexander's poor judgement

Not sure if you're familiar with the case of Marissa Alexander, the (black) woman who fired a warning shot at her physically abusive husband, harming nobody except her bedroom ceiling. She was sentenced to prison after a jury took 12 minutes to convict her because Stand Your Ground in Florida only applies to not black dudes and everyone knows that black women or really just women should shut up and take their abuse just like George Zimmerman's girlfriend did.

Alexander was finally released pending a retrial, after her conviction was overturned on appeal. She is on home detention until her retrial. It seems that she had the gall to request permission from her corrections officer to go to the grocery store and he had the gall to approve it.

This proves to the state attorney that she is unreliable because she left her house (with permission) and should be locked up again behind bars until her retrial. He claims she should have known she couldn't ask permission to leave.

Richard Mantei wants to know how many second chances we'll give someone before they're not second chances anymore?

Maybe he should ask George Zimmerman.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How come you guys call us racist? Episode 10Gajillion: The burn

Since President Obama was elected, the GOP & the Tea Party have been trying to get him out of office. From claiming he's Kenyan, to conspiring against his presidency on the day of his inauguration, to showing him in his "traditional tribal garb", to calling him a monkey, to racist bumper stickers, to waving the confederate flag in front of the White House while 2 sitting senators and a washed up symbol of all that is wrong with America headline the event, to filling a lawsuit claiming he can't be president because he's black (no, seriously), to posting racist statements on their official websites, to holding election rallies in front of confederate flags, to claiming he's a A-rab terrorist (hell, even his opponent in the 2008 election had to defend him!). Seriously, watch.

Enough is freaking enough already. Rep Alan Grayson (D-Freaking Awesome) has pushed back. Finally, someone is pushing back against all the hatred, all the racism, all the repulsiveness that is the Tea Party in America.

Telling it like it is:
Tea Party members also have persisted in falsely characterizing the President as Kenyan and Moslem… Tea Party members also called my fellow Member of Congress, civil rights hero John Lewis, a “n***er,” and Rep. Barney Frank a “faggot.” More generally, the leader of the Texas Tea Party displayed a poster saying “Congress=Slave Owner, Taxpayer=Niggar [sic].” Tea Party Members of Congress have referred to Hispanics as “wetbacks,” and having “cantaloupe-sized calves” from picking fruit. Tea Party candidates, including my opponent in the last election, have endorsed forcing Hispanics to speak English.

Here's a little more:
For example, when the President visited [Grayson's] home of Orlando, Tea Party protesters shouted "Kenyan Go Home." Other examples include Tea Party chants of "Bye Bye, Blackbird," and Tea Party posters saying "Obama’s Plan: White Slavery," "Imam Obama Wants to Ban Pork" and "The Zoo Has An African Lion, and the White House Has a Lyin’ African."

and this:
One could go on and on, because there is overwhelming evidence that the Tea Party is the home of bigotry and discrimination in America today, just as the KKK was for an earlier generation. If the hood fits, wear it. (emphasis mine)

A study in the academic, peer-reviewed journal Race and Social Problems showed that Tea Party members are more likely to be racist. Read the PPV article here.

And here are some signs! Signs prove everything!

And in response, the National Outreach Director of said, "He was mean to me!!" No, actually, she said, "there's nothing more offensive" than the comparison.

This, from the party that brings you Hitler & Nazi comparisons on a practically daily basis. Proving the Tea Party is not only racist, but ignorant too.

What, that was a surprise?

ETA: Literally as I was publishing this post, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the biggest newspaper in Atlanta, posted the following tweet about a lottery winner. The tweet has since been deleted, but ALL the people have saved screenshots for posterity.

Racism much?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Quote of the day: Irony

"Our philosophy is do no harm, try to stop the bad from happening."
~ GOP Rep Matt Salmon (R-AZ)


The end.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Modifying our foods and respecting our young people

Rachel Parent, a brave and passionate young woman, appeared on a talk show in Canada to discuss her stand on GMOs. She is very educated on the subject, knows her stuff, and has a strong rationale for her positions. It's ok to say "Let's agree to disagree", but unfortunately, that isn't what happened. In an enlightened society, we listen to one another. And we respect each other's informed decisions.

I find so many things offensive in this video. First, for Kevin O'Leary to tell an obviously educated, passionate girl that her passion isn't really hers, but that she's a shill for environmental groups? No. Just no.

Then he goes on to challenge her belief in science, when she very eloquently stated that she's not against science. She's for responsible science. A-freaking-men.

Responsible science means long-term studies (not using the general population as your study group without knowledge or consent). Credible long-term studies include control groups. Credible long-term studies include people who have consented. Credible long-term studies conducted by independent organizations, not only the companies who stand to benefit from positive results.

O'Leary challenged Rachel that science could help kids in other countries get the vitamins they need, when in fact, she pointed out, rightly so, that the amount of rice required for a child to ingest the RDA for Vitamin A was 27 bowls of rice. (oh, yummy.) Science also proves that our body absorbs vitamins best in their natural state.

Instead of trying to genetically modify our food without our consent, how about we work to rid the world of poverty. Work to help educate the poor. Work to feed the poor and help them grow the foods that they need to live a healthy life. To produce the crops that give us what our bodies need.

Oh wait. To do that, we'd have to acknowledge science - because we all lurrrve science! Because science tells us we have a climate crisis. And in order to help grow the organic foods we need to thrive as humankind, we'd need to acknowledge the science behind climate change. But we'd rather say that science doesn't exist than solve a food crisis in drought-riddled or flood-riddled countries or even regions of our own country. Or blame it on G-d, because He is punishing us for loving teh gays.

Sensing the hypocrisy yet? I've mentioned it before. When something works for the right, they are all about it. When it doesn't work for them, they hate it or simply refuse to acknowledge its legitimacy. Science is great! When it says what I want it to. When I don't like it? Science is unproven!

I wonder what a long-term study might have to say about the increasing incidence of gluten allergies in the last decade. Or celiac disease. Or obesity (wait, we already know the answer to that one). Or diabetes. (wait - we know the answer to that one, too). Or the best way to ingest vitamins (wait ... ditto). Think that GMOs might possibly have something to do with that? Gee... I wonder.

Additionally, Rachel Parent is a passionate advocate for food labeling. I agree completely. If GMOs continue to produce GE food, at least label them as such and let us make informed decisions. And don't make it more difficult for organic farmers to produce and bring to market their products. Equal opportunities and all (SOCIALISM!!). We have the right to know what is in our foods and make our own choices. Informed consent and all is important, right, the right?

Apparently not. Because Congress passed the "Monsanto Protection Act", which pretty much nullifies any state required food labeling and provides additional subsidies for those GMOs. And in a bonehead move, President Obama signed it. Remember, conservatives? - federal law supercedes state law. So even if you love it, like you do right now, or hate it like whenever it means you don't get your way (like reproductive rights), we still have to live with it. Or die with it.

To suggest that because this young woman is 14, she doesn't know her own mind, and to patronize her and condescend to her by saying she'll change her mind as she gets older (even though we all know 14-year-olds are far older than their chronological years) is insulting to the highest degree. That young woman proved her point over and over and made Kevin O'Leary look like a sad little shill for Monsanto. Yup, who's the shill now?

Watch the entire interview below. If I were Rachel Parent's umm... parent, I would be hugely proud of her. Hell, I don't know her and I'm hugely proud of her. She's a hero for our generation and our children's generation.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wait... how come you guys call us racist?

So, this is a little far over the line. OK, it's completely and totally and irrevocably catapulted over the line.

One of the most respected and longest-tenured Congressmen, John Lewis, participated in the March on Washington. The original and last weekend's commemorating the 50th anniversary.

In covering Lewis' speech this weekend about the voting rights act and immigration reform and generally spouting racist shit, Laura Ingraham played about 10 seconds of Lewis' speech and then played a gunshot followed by complete silence.

In case you happen to be wondering what's wrong with this scenario, ummm... she just gleefully pretended that someone assassinated a sitting Congressman with a shotgun. The only surviving person to give a speech at the original March on Washington and the 50th anniversary march. Lovely, no?

Yeah, so how come the GOP is branded as racist? Uhhh... gee, I don't know.

There are also some other terms I might like to call Ingraham in addition to racist, but my mom hates it when I swear, so I'll settle for letting you use your imagination.

Hint: It's not "brilliant" or "human being" and it rhymes with a whole lot of things.

(h/t Media Matters)