Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Once more for the people in the back...

And so, my friends, we are once again back here to talk about how terrible the GOP is. And how willfully ignorant they are. And how subservient to Trump they are. And because I'm all riled up, I didn't even go looking for pictures to break this up or to use as comic relief. And I didn't bother with links, because if you follow the threads below, they're all there. Because it's depressing to go googling for this shit day after day. So I've got nothing pithy and clever. Because you are in for a serious lesson right now.

You see, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted out how America is running concentration camps at the southern border. And then Liz Cheney tried to school AOC on concentration camps, but clearly she needs to go back to school herself.

Well, Congresswoman Liz Cheney couldn't let that stand. Because if ANYONE knows about torture and how to be shitty to their fellow human beings it's a Cheney.

Almost all of twitter clapped back, including myself. As you know, I absolutely hate it when people compare things that are not the Holocaust to the Holocaust. And when people equate others with whom they simply don't agree with Hitler. Case in point... However, that shouldn't prevent us from recognizing the repetition of the pattern of the *actual* Hitler Nazis and trying to stop it.

Howsomever, in this case, AOC is absolutely right. What the US is doing meets the definition of concentration camps, provided below by some little known place called... *checks notes*... The Auschwitz Museum. You see, everyone equates the Holocaust only with death camps. But we know, because we STUDIED HISTORY, that this isn't the case.

So, once more for the people in the back.

The Holocaust didn't start with death camps and gas chambers and ovens and firing squads. It began with a concentrated campaign to identify Jews as "others", as animals, as not human. (I seem to recall a certain president using these terms for brown people.)

Then, Hitler tried to make life so unpleasant through laws and regulations that Jews would emigrate out of Germany voluntarily. When that didn't work, he rounded us up and put us in camps, where living conditions were terrible. Hmmm... that kind of sounds like "self-deportation, doesn't it?

Too many people were crammed into living space that was unsanitary, medical treatment was denied, education was denied, food was insufficient and contaminated. Sound familiar?

Then, when we pesky Jews were concentrated in large groups, separated from humanity, scratching and scraping for our existence, then and only then did he move past concentration camps into the extermination phase - the "final solution".

THIS is what we are trying to avoid here and now. This is what we mean when we say Never Forget and Never Again. Yes, in general it's in the context of not letting this happen to us Jews ever again. But in the larger context, it's meant that we can never allow this to happen to another group of people ever again.

Also, Liz Cheney forced me to type out the words "final solution" twice, and for that I will never forgive her. It physically hurt me to type those words. I have a visceral reaction to them. Even at work, when we talk about the thing that will fix something forever, I can't bring myself to use those words, even though they are likely the most germaine.

People like Liz Cheney do us no favors by their blind allegiance to their party (which coincidentally was also a Nazi trait) and their unwillingness to acknowledge American inhumanity. History will not look kindly upon those who did nothing, especially those that aided and abetted.

Although Jews were by far the most affected and murdered group, the Nazi campaign also affected Blacks, LGBT, Roma, and other populations not deemed to be the "master race". I've been hearing a lot of talk of "othering" and talk that sounds an awful lot like "master race" talk. And Nazi concentration camps look an awful lot like the camps that we are setting up in border towns. Additionally, now that we've transferred control of these camps over to DoD, they aren't necessarily open to observation. Which also sounds an awful lot like Nazi concentration camps. And is likely a complete violation of the Geneva convention.

So, back to Liz Cheney. There is a difference between concentration camps and death camps. Please educate yourself and learn some actual history. Don't assume you know everything about my history. Per the Auschwitz Museum, the difference begins here (emphasis mine):

The main difference between concentration camps, where prisoners of various nationalities were incarcerated, and extermination centers (Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Kulmhof, Majdanek), where nearly all the victims were Jewish, was in the first place the annihilation method, while the final goal – the physical elimination of the victims – remained the same (both Auschwitz and Majdanek were "atypical" extermination centers since they were organizationally and spatially combined with concentration camps under the same names). Concentration camps used as the main annihilation method hunger combined with physical exhaustion. The death of prisoners was also accelerated by other conditions of existence in the camps: the lack of proper clothes, rest and medical care, poor sanitary conditions, as well as insufficient living conditions. Unlike the victims of the extermination centers killed immediately upon their arrival in the gas chambers, the prisoners of concentration camps stayed there for shorter or longer periods (some of them managed to survive the war).

Concentration camps, being an alternative to mass executions, were a tool for the physical elimination and served at the same time the cause of disguising the crimes committed there. Since they formally, by name and organizational structure, referred to pre-war camps, where Hitler’s opponents were isolated, their denomination related, as it were, to a concept to some extent familiar to the public in Germany and other countries.
In fact, even the Auschwitz Museum had to pipe in, and they got some clapback as well because all of humanity is terrible. Because like I said, they are just some little known place in a far away country. They retweeted this from Jan 1:
This is what is happening right now in the USA. I'm a Jew. I don't demean my history or my family's history if I say that we have moved into the concentration camp phase of Trump's plan. And yes, like Hitler, I'm positive there's a plan. The time for benefit of the doubt has passed. Concentration camps evolve into death camps. Twitterererer @JRehling put together a handy-dandy timeline comparison just for Liz:

If you aren't sure how to *do* the twitter, here it is (click to embiggen):

The one thing left off of this image is a notation for 1933, right after Hitler became Chancellor. That is the year that Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp, opened. On the timeline, that equates to around the time we started incarcerating brown people and refugees in camps at the border. Hmmm...

So. Yes. Don't wildly equate people or situations you don't like as Hitler or Nazi. But do call a concentration camp a concentration camp. A concentration camp is not equivalent to the Holocaust. But if we don't allow ourselves to use the correct terminology, then how will we ever prevent another Holocaust? Because Mr Fine People on Both Sides is getting ready to become even more authoritarian (oh, hey! a majority of his "fans" want him to have more than 2 terms. Oh, ok then).

I fear every day for the lives of these poor people who came here seeking asylum and are now stuck in a concentration camp. I fear for those poor people who just came here wanting a better life for themselves and their children. In addition to the terrible conditions in these camps - the freezer, cramming folks into spaces meant for far fewer people, poor sanitation, lack of medical care, insufficient and contaminated food. In addition to that, we are separating 4 month old babies from their parents and keeping little tiny innocent children in cages like animals. WHO DOES THAT?

The outcry is that "we are better than this". America, I hate to tell you this, but clearly we are not better than this. We ARE this.

America, get your shit together. Vote him and his enablers out. History will not look kindly upon you for your silence. Silence = complicity.

And now, if you need a palate cleanser, may I direct you to this twitter account of a wonderful, funny, brave woman. It's filled with good doggos and wonderful stories of adventure in the wild tundra.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Georgia hates women (ok, Ohio does too)... who would have ever thought it?

Does Georgia hate us because Brian Kemp had to steal an election from a more qualified woman? "People are saying" that.

So anyway, this news out of Georgia is pretty terrifying. And if you have a wife, sister, mother, daughter, friend, or acquaintance who is a woman, you should be terrified for them too.

Brian Kemp, who stole the GA governorship in 2018, just signed Georgia HB481 into law. Here's what it does:

It declares full personhood and full legal recognition for embryos, including counting them in census, by stating that "modern medical science" proves this to be true.
Fetuses “shall be included in population based determinations” from now on, because they are legally humans, and residents of the state.
It outlaws abortion as soon as a heartbeat can be heard (typically around 6 weeks gestation).
It prohibits doctors from terminating any pregnancy after they can detect “embryonic or fetal cardiac activity”. I mean, I had so many times when my period was 2 or 3 weeks late for whatever reason. I had times when I just skipped a month altogether. Hell, I was trying to get pregnant and still didn't know I was pregnant until 10 weeks.
It allows a woman who aborts a pregnancy to be sued for the "full value of life of the child"
It's unclear who gets to decide this, but I'm sure it will be a man.
It dictates 1st degree murder charges, allowing life in prison or the death penalty for women who self-terminate, including with prescribed drugs.
From this Slate article: "But the most startling effect of HB 481 may be its criminalization of women who seek out unlawful abortions or terminate their own pregnancies. An earlier Georgia law imposing criminal penalties for illegal abortions does not apply to women who self-terminate; the new measure, by contrast, conspicuously lacks such a limitation. It can, and would, be used to prosecute women. Misoprostol, a drug that treats stomach ulcers but also induces abortions, is extremely easy to obtain on the internet, and American women routinely use it to self-terminate. It is highly effective in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Anti-abortion advocates generally insist that they do not want to punish women who undergo abortions. But HB 481 does exactly that. Once it takes effect, a woman who self-terminates will have, as a matter of law, killed a human—thereby committing murder. The penalty for that crime in Georgia is life imprisonment or capital punishment."

It provides for 2nd degree murder charges, punishable by 10-30 years in prison for women who get an abortion from a physician or who miscarry due to their own conduct.
Such as... using drugs, or, you know, being in the 25% of women who miscarry, because being a woman is also, apparently, your own fault.
Also from the Slate article: "HB 481 would also have consequences for women who get abortions from doctors or miscarry. A woman who seeks out an illegal abortion from a health care provider would be a party to murder, subject to life in prison. And a woman who miscarries because of her own conduct—say, using drugs while pregnant—would be liable for second-degree murder, punishable by 10 to 30 years’ imprisonment. Prosecutors may interrogate women who miscarry to determine whether they can be held responsible; if they find evidence of culpability, they may charge, detain, and try these women for the death of their fetuses."
It provides for conspiracy to commit murder for women who travel out of state to get an abortion. And if you're the driver, you also get charged.
Again, from Slate: "If a Georgia resident plans to travel elsewhere to obtain an abortion, she may be charged with conspiracy to commit murder, punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment. An individual who helps a woman plan her trip to get an out-of-state abortion, or transports her to the clinic, may also be charged with conspiracy. These individuals, after all, are “conspiring” to end of the life of a “person” with “full legal recognition” under Georgia law."
It repeals almost everything in the Women's Right to Know Act, which forced ultrasounds on women seeking abortions. Because abortion is illegal, so women don't need to know shit, apparently. It also repeals anything in conflict with the wording of this law.

It incorrectly states that at 20 weeks, fetuses "evade" pain.
Every single obstetric and gynecologic medical organization has declared this to be false.
This is not about just restricting access. If it was, then the argument the anti-choice movement has been making about "just go somewhere it's legal" would still apply. But this law charges women who go where it's legal with conspiracy to commit murder.

This is not about preserving life. Because they also make a woman carry an ectopic pregnancy. (Whoops! That's Ohio. They also just signed a new heartbeat law. You can understand how I got this all mixed up, so I'll just leave it in anyway.) This is about power and control over women, pure and simple.

This is not about religion. My religion pretty much states that embryos and fetuses are not people, and dictates an abortion if a woman is ill or in danger. So this law impinges on my 1st amendment right to exercise my religion freely.

This is not about anything except controlling women and putting them back in their place, subservient to men and making sammiches – and severely punishing them if they refuse to comply.

You'd better hope you never have a miscarriage in the state with one of the worst infant and maternal mortality rates in the nation. Or travel elsewhere and have a miscarriage.

This is why goddamned elections matter, people. At the local, state and national level.

Because the goal of all of these laws, in addition to punishing women for daring to want any autonomy over their body and decisions, is to get a case up to the Supreme court.

It's why the GOP have been packing the courts all during the Trump presidency.

It's why the rat bastard Mitch McConnell refused to hold a hearing for Merrick Garland and then rushed through 2 right wing SCOTUS candidates who care nothing for the rule of law or for women.

It's why the GOP has sold its soul and is gleefully happy about it.

It's why they are willing to let the United States become a laughingstock across the globe.

It's why they are willing to give up any semblance of a decent reputation that they might have once had.

Because they all get to pack the courts for decades to come with far right wing crazy-ass shitheads who only care about anyone who is a rich white "Christian" man or a wealthy corporation.

You need to get your ass to the polls and vote. Vote in person, vote by mail, vote by fucking osmosis. Because next, they're coming for you. Whoever "you" are.

In a time when women are blamed for getting raped, and blamed for being poor mothers, and being blamed for working outside the home to support their children, and being blamed for the sun setting at night, we are once again going to blame them for something that naturally occurs in 25% of all pregnancies.

If only companies would get on board with moving out of Georgia, and not holding events there like they rightly did with the bathroom bill in NC.

But, you know. This is about women, so.

Blessed be the fruit, and all that jazz.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

I have thoughts on all this “senseless” violence

In the past week, a man tried to go to a church in Kentucky where predominantly black worshipers gather to pray. He was thwarted and ended up in a Kroger parking lot, killing 2 black people – one right in front of his grandson, out for the day, enjoying their lives. He was witnessed telling another white person who stood by in shock not to worry – “whites don’t shoot whites”.

Bombs were mailed in multiple assassination attempts – on 2 former Presidents, a former VP, a former Sec of State, Senator, and First Lady, several sitting Senators, and a sitting Congresswoman, a Democratic party donor, a former CIA director, and to a prominent media outlet. The bombs all attempted to implicate another former Congresswoman. When caught, the perpetrator was a Trump supporter, his van covered in pro-Trump stickers and anti-Democrat stickers (including one of Hillary Clinton in the cross-hairs of a rifle). His social media was filled with hate and video of him at Trump rallies.

Then on Saturday morning, a gunman went to a synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed 11 people and wounded several more, in another hate-filled crime against a minority group practicing their religion. We Jews are sadly used to being persecuted. But this was something more – the majority of those killed were elderly Jews – who had lived through the Holocaust – whether they lived in Europe or not, being alive during the 30s and 40s is indelibly carved into their psyche. They lived through that terrible time in human history, only to be slaughtered in their house off worship by a rabid anti-Semite who wrote on a far-right social media site – “HIAS likes to bring in invaders that kill our people” and “Screw your optics. I’m going in”. And then proceeded to do just that.

And believe me, I’m trying to be objective because this week was terrible for everyone. Everyone except for the hate filled far right, led by our illustrious president, Donald Trump. The common thread through all of these heinous crimes? Hate.

And yet, all I heard all week was sorrow at the senseless violence.

Why do we call it senseless? It implies that we don’t know what caused these crimes or how to fix the problem.

We know what caused these crimes. Hate. Hate and the acceptance it has in the US and globally. Hate that is espoused by the president and vice president. By senators and congressmen. By everyone who suggests that we need to look at “both sides”, implying a false equivalence of criticism against an ever-increasingly authoritarian government vs support for killing, imprisoning, and physically assaulting one’s political adversaries and other marginalized groups.

That equivalence is just flat out bullshit. And I truly hope these people are still alive when their names are enshrined in the history books next to Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Assad, Pinochet, Hussein, and so many others. I hope they have to explain themselves to their grandchildren and their great grandchildren how they villainized and mocked refugees, the underserved, the poor, the disabled, minorities, women, victims of sexual assault, those unfortunate enough not to be born into power.

Calling this violence and these deaths senseless implies we don’t understand that this hate-filled rhetoric and public policy is driving and actively encouraging divisiveness and violence. When a  candidate for president of the United States of America tells a crowd he’ll gladly pay their attorney fees if they get arrested for assaulting protesters. When the president actively tears at the fabric of our democracy, aided and abetted by a Congress so enthralled with power and an ideological agenda that they are willing to sacrifice our democracy to get it. When the president uses terminology that harkens back to the time of a German dictator – using the politics of fear to drive and stoke anger among his base at those who would fight for this democracy of ours.

Calling it senseless means we don’t understand that a fascination with guns and a fear of change drive this hatred. A refusal to fund public education and to teach critical thinking coupled with a trend toward home and parochial schooling – teaching fear and blind obedience to the next generation so they have no foundation on which to challenge the status quo. An acceptance of guns as an anger management tool, and a fear of “big government” – but only when that government is promoting the general welfare of the nation – no need to fear when it supports their own agenda of suppressing free speech, bodily autonomy for women, free exercise of religion and of the people to criticize their government (oh, it’s fine to do that when Democrats are in power, but surely not when Republicans control it all!).

Calling it senseless means we don’t understand that our country has a long history of violence against minorities – black, brown, and all colors under the sun with the exception of lily white. It means we don’t understand our history of stoking fear of immigrants and refugees, be they Chinese, Irish, Jewish, Mexican, Central American, Middle Eastern or any other nationality or religion other than white Christian Anglo-Europeans. It means we don’t acknowledge our own culpability in terrorism of Native Americans and Blacks.

Calling it senseless means we don’t understand that those in power are systematically dismantling our functional government. Putting into power at the helm of each agency those with the desire to demolish that with which they are entrusted. Allowing those who put greed before health and the environment and our ecosystems and our very existence. Who put greed and regressionism before progress and technology. Who put their own personal gain before the survival of our planet.

And yet we do understand all of that. And we understand how to fix it. We understand that in order form a more perfect union, there is no place in this country and this world for white supremacy. No place for Stand Your Ground. No place for defunding of public education. No place for rampant hatred fueled by fear. No place for curriculums that abandon critical thinking skills and expanded world views. No place for voter suppression. No place for troops at the border to drive away refugees. No place for willful and mean-spirited separation of families. No place for deportation of law-abiding citizens, veterans, and immigrants. No place for anti-Semitism. No place for institutionalized racism. No place for emboldened Nazis. No place for AR-15s and permitless and background-checkless gun ownership. No place for domestic violence. No place for misogyny. No place for dismantling our government. No place for the demolition of the social construct. No place for ideological court-packing. No place for Citizens United. No place for PACs. No place for outrageous amounts of money in politics. For buying politicians. For selling the American people in trade for money, power and greed.

No place for silence. Because silence = complicity.  And there is no place for complicity.

Acknowledging we can fix these things means that these deaths and this terrorism aren’t senseless. Completely unnecessary? Yes. Utterly horrific? Yes. Indescribably painful? Yes. But senseless? Oh no.

If you also want to fix this, you can participate in the solution. Vote. Vote these horrible people out of office. Don’t cry about senseless violence. Fix it.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Statues and the deflection of racial and religious oppression and hatred

Somehow the conversation about Nazis has devolved into an argument about keeping Confederate statues so we don't forget the past. It's turned into a debate on the renunciation of those statues and their place in American history.

Literal Nazis were there in Charlottesville.
The KKK was there in Charlottesville.
Lots of, for lack of a better term I'll call, generic white supremacists, were there in Charlottesville. These are the folks spouting off the line that they were just there to protest the imminent removal of the homage to Robert E. Lee. A traitor to the United States of America.

For today's post, I'm going to step away from the issue of permitting Nazis to march in the streets giving the Hitler salute and carrying Nazi flags. On goddamned American soil.

I'm going to step away from the issue of permitting the KKK to carry torches and emboldening them enough to go unhooded.

I'm going to step away from those "generic white supremacists" who now claim their life is ruined because they just took part in a little itty bitty Nazi protest where someone was murdered and several more injured, and 2 police officers lost their lives.

I'm going to step away from our asshat of a president who defended these "very fine people".

Let's talk about the statue. The one of Robert E. Lee. And the thousands of statues just like it across America. In hundreds of cities, we have statues up commemorating and honoring the losing side of a treasonous war.

Kids grow up across America looking at these statues. The ones dedicated to and honoring men who fought a war because they wanted the right to own black people. To whip them, to hang them, to humiliate them, to rape them, to deny them autonomy, to sit lazily back and count the money they made off the backs of these men and women. Men and women brought to our country against their will. Stolen from their homes in (predominantly) Africa.

Those same kids grow up and attend protests and yell at the descendents of these men and women who literally built this country's economy and who are systemically and institutionally pushed out of participating fully in it. They yell to go back where they came from as if their descendents voluntarily emigrated here. They yell derogatory terms like "nigger" and "Boy" in an attempt to dehumanize and emasculate them.

Side note. Yes. I wrote out the word nigger instead of using the politically correct "n****r". Because it's an ugly word. And when using it to show the ugliness of those who yell it at other human beings, it makes sense to not whitewash the term. To show its ugliness. End side note.

They yell at Jews to leave, to die. Invoking centuries-old stereotypes of Jews.

They yell at women to know their place, to go make a sandwich, to get back to birthing babies and ironing their shirts.

So they protest the removal of those statues. Which were not erected at the end of the war, but instead at a future time when it was once again, time to remind the black man of his place in society. To whip up hatred and anger in order to keep an entire race of human beings systematically oppressed. During the women's suffrage movement in the 1910s and 20s. During the Civil Rights movement in the 60s. Whenever social progress was being made, it became time to add another statue to remind folks of their place in society and whip up sentiment against them.

Now imagine the alternate universe. What would these Nazis, these KKK, and these "generic" white supremacists be using as their sword to die on if instead of erecting statues to racist traitors to America, we erected statues of more worthy people.

Imagine if kids grew up visiting their local park and saw statues honoring Civil War era heroes like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass and Robert Smalls and Sojourner Truth alongside Lincoln and Grant.

Imagine if kids grew up visiting statues of great feminist leaders like Susan B Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Margaret Sanger or Shirley Chisolm.

Imagine if kids grew up with statues honoring the great American soldiers who helped to liberate the death camps. Imagine if those statues depicted them opening the gates and showed the Jews and other oppressed people who were being held prisoners behind those gates.

Imagine if we had statues honoring Americans like Louis Brandeis, Elie Wiesel, Gertrude Elion and Jonas Salk, and yes, Emma Lazarus all across the country.

Imagine if these kids grew up going to museums and seeing photos and relics of the Civil War instead of large statues honoring them in the streets. These museums would educate the kids and their parents about the cause of the Civil War. Preservation of slavery. And that it was defeated. And rightly defeated.

Imagine what all that might achieve in combatting racism, miogyny, anti-semitism and Holocaust denial.

Imagine if that's what was standing in Charlottesville and that's what kids grew up visiting, instead of holdovers from a time when racial, religious, and gender oppression was the norm.

THAT's the America I want to live in.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

White Supremacy, Nazis, the KKK, and the President of the United States

Last night and today marked another terrorist attack in the United States. Once again, caused by those who most often commit terrorism in the US - a white Christian male. A white dude filled with rage that other people that don't look or believe like him might get a voice. Like Dylann Roof, this is a young man - just 20. It's beyond me that someone my youngest son's age could possibly be filled with so much hate for his fellow human beings. How does that happen? How?

Now, you know I hate Holocaust and Nazi comparisons. But my friends, we have literal Nazis marching in the streets. Proudly displaying their Nazi salutes.
via Twitter: Roger Warren ️‏@MissesThe90s. Unclear as to original source.
Proudly touting their admiration for Hitler.
via Twitter: Andy B Campbell ️‏@andybcampbell. Unclear as to original source.
Proudly carrying Nazi flags.

via Twitter: The Fighting Liberal‏ @texyellowdogdem. Unclear as to original source.

Proudly carrying their KKK flags.
via Twitter: The Fighting Liberal‏ @texyellowdogdem. Unclear as to original source.
Proudly carrying torches. This right here? That is the face of hate in America.
The face of hate. via Twitter. Original source unknown.
 If you click on the photo and enlarge it, you'll see all the smiles. These guys are loving this.
March of hate. via Twitter. Original source unknown.
These few kids below are heroes to me. I sound like an old biddy, but their parents should be proud. In case you can't see it, there is a small group of UVA students holding a sign saying "UVA students against white supremacy". They are literally surrounded by torch carrying, spittle-yelling, hate-mongering, intimidating white supremacists.
Rally around a few protesters. via Twitter. Original source unknown.

Do you know what sparked this protest? The imminent removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. These are the same folks who yell, "Get over it - he won!". Yet they don't see the irony in protesting the removal of a tribute to the losing side of the Civil War. To them I say, "The North won. Get over it!"

For all the people who claim it's about heritage, I call bullshit. It's about racism. Ok., maybe it's about the heritage of your racism.

In the midst of this Nazi/KKK rally today, a 20 year old man deliberately ran down a group of counter-protesters with his car, killing 32 year old woman amd injuring 19 others. He's been charged with 2nd degree murder. I take issue with that. This guy drove from Ohio to Virginia, and ran over people intentionally. That should be 1st degree plus all the other attempted murder charges. A police helicopter crashed, killing 2 officers.

Honestly, I'm rambling. Because I am still in shock that a Nazi rally was held at a US college campus in 2017. Alongside the KKK. Who don't feel obligated to wear hoods any longer. Let that sink in. They don't care about showing their faces any more. Because they feel supported. No consequences.

The Trump campaign and  administration has empowered and supported this resurgence of hate and violence in our country. He called for it at his campaign rallies. He called for it in his platform. He called for it when he surrounded himself with white nationalists n the White House. And he called for it again today when he refused to condemn this display of hate, racism, antisemitism and white nationalism.

He gave a short statement condemning violence on "many sides." Unless he meant the Nazis and the KKK, there aren't many sides. There is being on the right side of history and there is being on the wrong side of history. And history tells us that being a Nazi is not being on the right side of history. Being a Nazi sympathizer is not being on the right side of history.

Our president refused to denounce white supremacists. The fucking president of the United States refused to denounce white supremacists that are terrorizing this nation and killed 3 people.

And don't think that went unnoticed. This from David Duke:

He also tweeted this out in response to Trump's half-assed attempt at looking presidential.

I still see friends and friends of friends not condemning this. Just yesterday, my sister posted something about Jewish women running for office and how proud she was of that. She got this back, along with my comment. This was before the rally began. My last comment was from tonight.

People like this woman got Trump elected. They actively and enthusiastically voted for him and all he stands for. I cannot and will not sit silently. Silence = approval. There is no other interpretation now.
Even Republicans are upset at this one. Wow.

Rubio, Cruz, McConnell, Hatch, McCain, and many more are condemning white nationalism and calling for this to be investigated as terrorism. Good. They also say this has no place in America. To them I say: maybe you should stop confirming white nationalists and racists to cabinet positions, and supporting them in White House positions. Maybe then I'll believe you mean it. Honestly, I think you're just worried about you re-election (except for McCain).

The current lineup of Trump, Bannon, Miller, Sessions, Spencer, and Gorka (who just 2 days ago asked that we stop blaming white nationalists for violence) dispels any notion that this administration isn't firmly supportive of this.

POC, Jews, all minority religions, LGBTQA+ community, and anyone not a cis white Christian male have every reason to fear. Never tell me we don't.

I'm so angry that 70+ years after the defeat of Nazism we have made so little progress. I'm scared. Scared of the damage that this president and his cronies are doing to America in the name of white supremacy.

Friends, now is the time. Because they've come for everyone else already. There is no one left to speak for you. Except YOU. If you don't speak out loudly, you'll be condoning and tacitly endorsing this Nazi & KKK violence & rhetoric.

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
~Martin Niemöller

Get off your asses, people. Demand that your representatives in Congress do something about this. Demand that your state officials do something. Demand that your local officials do something.

Lives are literally at stake. And to the guy I mentioned here, I hope you get it now. Yes. It is the end of the world for some people. It certainly was for Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, and Heather Heyer. (z”l)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What I want to hear from Donald Trump

Given all the things that have happened in the past couple of weeks, I have some things on my mind. Mostly about Donald Trump’s silence on the hatred being spewed across this nation in his name.

Mr. Trump, here’s what I want to hear from you. Not in a written statement. Not through one of your surrogate proxies. Straight from your oddly-shaped mouth speaking to the American people. Speaking to ME.

I want to hear you personally denounce the neo-Nazism, racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and white nationalism that has spread so boldly across the nation since your campaign started, and that has grown more zealous since your election.

I want to hear you say that painting swastikas anywhere is wrong.
I want to hear you say that raising the Nazi salute and yelling Heil Trump is wrong.
I want to hear you say that questioning whether Jews are really people is wrong.
I want to hear you say that ripping the hijab off of women and yelling slurs and telling them to get out of America is wrong.
I want to hear you say that schoolchildren shouldn’t be subjected to hatred from their classmates telling them they will be deported, or be called nigger by their teacher.
I want to hear you say that you don't want the support of the KKK or Nazis or white supremacists.
I want to hear you say that threatening to rape women is wrong.
I want to hear you say that spewing hatred at your fellow Americans in the street is wrong.
I want to hear you say that torturing human beings is wrong.
I want to hear you say that fear through intimidation is wrong.
I want to hear you say that the media has a duty to report when hate crimes are committed.
I want to hear you say that yes, Obergfell is the law of the land, but Roe is as well.
I want to hear that you understand why so many Americans are fearful, terrified, anxious, scared for their very lives.

I want to hear you say that your cabinet will not reflect all of the above things that are happening in America. Like the racism & antisemitism from Steve Bannon. Like the racism and anti-immigration rhetoric from Jeff Sessions. Like the Islamophobia and hatred from Michael Flynn. And so many more.

I want to hear you say that you don’t approve of any of this being done in your name, or even at all.

You say that you want to be President for ALL Americans. So far, your actions don’t reflect this. I know it’s cliché and all, but actions speak louder than words.

I want you to act like an American President.

Hell, I just want you to act like an American.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Check your privilege at the door please

One of the themes that has started to emerge after Tuesday's horrible election is the idea of "It won't be so bad. The Pres doesn't have that much power. The world isn't going to end. Why are you all freaking out?"

These comments that I've seen are mostly being made by white men. I noted yesterday how difficult it was to explain to my husband about how I dread having a president who views me as "less than", and how difficult it is for white men to fully understand this concept, no matter how much they may sympathize.

And I'm well aware that there are so very many groups who have been far more marginalized than I, but that doesn't invalidate my own feelings. And while I will likely never fully feel the negativity that so many of these groups face on a daily basis, I can certainly understand it and call out behaviors that marginalize them even more - intentional or not.

It was in this spirit that I did something I rarely do. I engaged a friend on social media when he pulled the "It won't be so bad, the Pres doesn't have that much power, really" crap.

I won't quote his entire post, but it was quite lengthy and intellectually very accurate in listing all the reasons and things that generally hold a President in check. The post ended with this:

The bottom line: I am not happy with the result. But despite the focus on the election, the federal government is limited, the President can only do so much within that limited federal government, and Trump did not win the popular vote. There are all sorts of good reasons to think the real damage he could do is limited.

Caveat: I am not saying the result in this election is good (it is not) or that Trump cannot do harm (he can). I am simply saying that this is bad news, but the world is not coming to an end and there is plenty that we and others can do.

Again, factually accurate. Although the point about not winning the popular vote doesn't matter in the slightest. If you need a specific example, I present George W. Bush. Moving on.

No matter how accurate your assessment, it's very easy to look at this from the vantage point of a white man. Very few of the things that Trump advocated for during the election will affect a white middle class man. I countered with something along these lines.

From your position as a white man, your words are well said. The problem comes for the rest of America who don't have the same privilege. Because of a majority in the House & Senate, plus the WH, and likely the SCOTUS, so many of the freedoms we enjoy are threatened. It is hard for white men to fully grasp the concept of being viewed as "less than", and I'm not trying to be an asshole when I say that. But the fact is that aside from a few inconveniences, you may not be personally affected.

White men are rarely personally affected by Supreme Court cases that affect personal liberties and freedoms. This is not just about Trump, but everything that surrounds him, including Congress, his cabinet, & his future SCOTUS picks. We know at least 1 vacancy will be filled, and the potential for 1 or 2 more may arise. To so many marginalized people, that is terrifying, and very may well signal the end of life as they know it.
The response was again, very intellectual and ended with this:
I made a more general argument about the non-governmental aspects of our lives, federalism, the role of the President in domestic and foreign policy, internal checks on both his power and his stupidity, and the role of the American people in all this. .Agree, disagree, or ignore me. But it is not about white male privilege. I don't know why the argument has to be made subjective....

I admit I am selectively editing the response, because I want to highlight again that although his thoughts are intellectually correct and very spot on, they fail to take into account two major things.

First, yes it's true that there is not a lot, historically, that a limited federal government can do. However, our limited federal government over the last 8 years has held a rampantly bigoted, prejudice, classist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic set of red state governments in check. We're insulated to much of this in California. But so much of the country is already fighting these battles on a daily basis. And President Obama's federal government has held much of this in check through the Justice department. Trump has already threatened literally millions of Americans. A Trump Justice Department that sides with these red states will surely not hold them back from implementing so much of their agenda.

And secondly, on the subject of why the argument has to be made subjective:

It's subjective because human emotions aren't objective. They depend on the human experience.

And no offense, but a white man's human experience isn't the same as a child who has been told they have to leave their country or that their parents will be deported and they'll be parentless and too bad for you, or a child in school who is bullied by classmates that gleefully tell him he's going to be kicked out of the country, or a woman who has had her hijab pulled off and is spit upon and called a whore, or a black man who knows that the man who will be President embraced endorsements by the grand wizard of the KKK and by white supremacy groups, or millions of Muslims who fear for their lives and the outlaw of their religion, or a woman who now must understand that their president-elect believes men have the right to assault women whenever the mood strikes because he's rich and that if a woman doesn't like being sexually harassed she should just find another job, or an LGBTQ person who the VP and Congress have said should not have equal rights and will actively work to suppress and revoke those rights, or a journalist who has been threatened with jail because you publish something that the President doesn't like.

None of those things directly affect straight white men.

Yes, there are plenty of things that might or might not happen, and we'll have to wait and see. So much will depend upon the cases that come before a (likely, now) conservative leaning SCOTUS and how willing they are to balance law and ideology. Or how much of Trump's rhetoric he actually believes and how much was said to get elected. His choices for cabinet members suggest he truly believes his rhetoric.

But all of these issues beget emotions brought on by the human experience.

And the emotions brought on by human experience are valid.

And yes, they are subjective.

And the inability to acknowledge that is mired in the privilege of being a straight white man.

I'm not angry with white men, but I do wish they could see and acknowledge their privilege in not being personally individually affected by much of this, and understand why some people believe that yes, the world - their world - may indeed end.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

You willfully elected Trump. Don't talk about how Hillary lost.

Continuing my day of grief and anger...

For me, the issue isn't that Hillary Clinton lost. Ok, it is, but hear me out. The issue is more that Trump won.

Trump won because half the people in this country voted FOR what he stands for.

You can claim all you want that you voted against Hillary. But you had to know that a vote against Hillary is a vote FOR Trump. FOR hatred. FOR divisiveness. FOR racism. FOR misogyny. FOR intolerance. FOR anger. FOR anti-semitism. FOR white supremacy.

You willfully voted FOR a man who believes you, or any woman or girl you know, does not have a right to her own autonomy. To consent to sex, or for her reproductive rights.

You willfully voted FOR a man who mocks the disabled.

You willfully voted FOR a man who condones, and even gleefully incites, violence against his fellow citizens.

You willfully voted FOR a man who cheats on his wives.

You willfully voted FOR a man who stokes racism.

You willfully voted FOR a man who disparages our military and our military heroes.

You willfully voted FOR a man who has promised to extort our allies.

You willfully voted FOR a man who very likely worked with Russia to undermine our elections.

You willfully voted FOR a man who lies.

You willfully voted FOR a man who cheats his employees.

You willfully voted FOR a man who refuses to pay his contractual obligations and then threatens to tie those people up in court to bankrupt them in their attempts to get paid.

You willfully voted FOR a man who lies about donating to those in need.

You willfully voted FOR a man who exploits our differences to create disharmony.

You willfully voted FOR a man who denies scientific fact.

You willfully voted FOR a man who refused to accept any precedent or standard of conduct for a national candidate.

Many, if not most, of you did so while at the same time talking about praising Jesus. And bragging about what a great Christian you are.

Don't tell me you voted against Hillary. Don't tell me what a great Christian you are.

Like the man you willfully voted in, you are a liar.

Election reflections

I guess it's time to resurrect ye olde blog. We have work to do. But first, I need to reflect on what this all means.

For those of you who say you believe the majority of Americans are good, decent people... I believed that too.

Until last night.

When the majority of our country willfully and deliberately chose hatred over love. Bigotry over tolerance. Racism over equality. Anger over understanding. Assault over consent. Religious intolerance over loving inclusion. Conceit and arrogance over human decency. Insanity over Constitutional rule.

Donald Trump says he want to heal us and be a President for us all. He said "I won't let you down." He's got a lot of work to do for me to believe that. And while I'd like to believe he'll do the right thing, I lost my faith in America last night to do the good and decent thing.

The hypocrisy of calling Hillary Clinton a liar but saying that Trump didn't really mean his lies. The hypocrisy of calling Hillary Clinton an elitist even though she's worked her entire life to make things better for those with less, but not acknowledging that Trump is a billionaire who hasn't lifted a finger for anyone other than himself. The hypocrisy of the media, who spent last night desperately looking for a reason for this outcome without acknowledging their complicity in vilifying Clinton and normalizing Trump. The hypocrisy of holding Clinton to an unattainable standard while not holding Trump to even the most basic of standards.

Although I still want to, sadly I no longer believe the majority of Americans are good, decent people.

I enthusiastically supported Hillary Clinton. I have never viewed her as the lesser of 2 evils. She is highly qualified. She is well respected around the world. She is stable. She has spent her life in public service. And yes, she's a woman. A woman who gets shit done. Who knows how to do her job, but is now just another women who is more qualified but passed over for a man who doesn't have any qualifications other than a dick.

I need to sort through my own feelings of having a President & a government who views me as less than. Then I'll be able to deal with the "I told you sos" from all of the other folks whom I KNOW have felt this their whole lives. My Black, Latino, Muslim, disabled and LGBTQ friends. And so many more.

As a white person, I'm well aware of my privilege. And that so many of my friends, colleagues, and fellow Americans have felt like I'm feeling right now and have known this reality forever.

Now, as a woman and a Jew, I truly understand that feeling.

Last night, America embraced a racist, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynist who had the support of every hate group, including the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Who has the support of world leaders whom we as Americans typically view as enemies - Russia and North Korea.

He also had the overwhelming support of evangelicals - and this is a man who clearly is not religious, doesn't understand the Bible or any of its major principles.

How those evangelicals can reconcile themselves to the fact they shared the same beliefs as the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists is beyond me. How they reconcile themselves that they chose a man who embraces hatred and fear over love is beyond me. How they chose a man who has unrepentantly and gleefully cheated on 2 wives is beyond me.  A man who calls for the expulsion of immigrants while parading his immigrant wife around. A man who lies without remorse. As they like to say, I guess their day of reckoning will come.

I tried to explain this to my husband last night. What it feels like to be considered less than. It's hard for a white man to truly get what that means. No matter how much he wants to. The feeling of utter despondency. Knowing that the majority of America willfully & deliberately chose someone who wants to take away your rights as an American citizen. As a woman. As a Jew. I just can't.

To my family and friends who voted for Trump: I see all these statements floating around about how politics shouldn't get in the way of relationships, and I believe that. We've held different political beliefs for a very long time, and have always managed a warm, loving relationship. Because politics don't matter over family.

But this isn't politics. This is world view. This is about decency over indecency. Humanity over inhumanity. Laughingly calling for a diligent public servant to be killed, jailed, or otherwise tortured.  The glee with which you celebrate the hatred and divisiveness. It's not ok. And it says far more about you and your character than do your politics. You preach love and Jesus and all that bullshit, but last night you deliberately voted for racism. For hatred. For misogyny. For anger and hostility. You deliberately voted for someone who wants me to be and believes me to be less than. And that is what I cannot and will not forgive.

I am going to continue working my ass off to get these hateful people out of our government. I'm going to work for 2018. And then for 2020. I am compelled to do so.

But I do it without the belief I had yesterday that most Americans are decent human beings.

Today, that belief is gone.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Clickbait headlines are undermining democracy

Because the only way I can function today is to focus on something other than the Dallas shootings and the seemingly unwarranted killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, I thought to comment on something else. Our inability to get anything DONE about the problems we're seeing.

But today I really want to focus on the media's role in public perception through their use of headlines and how that influences those in power.

Every time I see a clickbait headline on what might be an excellent article, I want to cringe. In fact, I have stopped sharing these articles on social media, even if the article is wonderful and full of facts instead of journalistic integrity, as I believe that they encourage divisiveness rather than cohesion. Titillation rather than decency.

Clickbaiting has had a detrimental effect on our democracy. Yes, practicing your 1st amendment rights as a free press is sometimes not good for our democracy.

You know the articles I'm talking about. The articles with the headlines in all caps - "Congress CAVES..." "Obama EXCORIATES..." (also, ewww), "So-and-so OBLITERATES...". Do a google search for "congress caves" or "gop caves to obama" and you'll see what I mean.

If every time that Congress decides to actually get something done, they are accused of "caving" to another position, nothing will ever get done. If they are worried that they won't ever get re-elected because their headlines all talk about them giving up everything they believe in to the evil empire, why would they ever want to partake? And that is pretty much where we find ourselves.

I'm resolving to create better headlines for my own tiny piece of the internet. Granted, nobody reads my silly little blog, and very few ever actually see my headlines, but I'm going to try to make my headlines a little less riot-inducing and more explanatory.

As it relates to our gun problem, I had a few thoughts.

We need to be able to have discussions and compromise without being SLAUGHTERED in the media headlines. Because America is far too lazy to click through and actually READ the articles. And far too uneducated to actually understand the nuance in many articles.

Compromise is not "CAVING" to demands. It is what our country was founded on. Nobody gets everything they want.

For instance, I would love to see the 2nd amendment repealed. I believe it's completely irrelevant in today's society. Will that actually ever happen? Nope. I'll have to compromise and be happy if and when we get progress that includes restrictions on military-grade weaponry. Restrictions on who can own a weapon (ie, convicted dangerous felons, who aren't even allowed to vote in some states, but can purchase firearms in those same states). Background checks for every purchaser on every purchase of weapons and high-grade ammo.

These things don't mean I have "CAVED" on my original position. They mean that I am an adult who can see that a better solution that is not perhaps the best solution is better than no solution at all.

Congress refusing to hold a vote on a gun legislation because they want to punish Democrats for their "bad behavior" in protesting that there is no vote on gun legislation is idiotic and infuriating. It's retaliation for exercising 1st amendment rights (the GOP loves their constitution - what's up with the retaliation?). It's freaking childish, and we should expect more from our elected leaders.

Congress refusing to discuss how we can make policing more effective for both the police and the communities they serve because they don't want to reward the BLM movement's "bad behavior" is ridiculous. We would never have a Civil Rights Act if someone wasn't willing to listen to reason and learn and act. Educating someone on issues is not bad behavior. Learning about issues and being able to change your view on them is not CAVING. Fixing problems is not CAVING. Fixing problems means finding solutions. Finding good solutions is never caving.

The media highlighting all of this in titillating ALLCAPS is not journalism. It's impeding our democracy. Do I wish our elected officials were above letting it influence them? Of course I do. But do I understand that headlines will always influence them? Of course I do.

Additionally, you are only cementing public opinion, not educating the public. Each side clings to their ALLCAP headlines like lifeboats in an unstable sea, and they provide the opportunity less for learning and more for childish retorts. "SEE? I TOLD you my way was the best! They CAVED!" You are not educating, or changing any minds here. You are cementing often-ignorant opinions with headlines that incite rather than educate.

So media, please stop EXCORIATING people when they CAVE to DEMANDS. Because you're making the problem worse. You're encouraging it. You're not reporting the news. You're reporting style is as childish as Congress is. I understand that in this world of rolling twitter timelines you want to stand out. I get it. Really. But you do a total disservice to your profession.

Write responsible headlines that indicate what the article is TRULY about, not what will rile the most people. Write articles that are insightful, not inciteful. Educate us. Help us form our opinions - don't simply cement our existing ones.

So just stop it with the clickbait. I beg of you.

In the meantime, I continue to pray for peace and for those injured and for the families and loved ones of those killed - both in Dallas and in cities around America every day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Anger and/or compassion after Orlando - is one right or wrong?

A conversation on Facebook, as well as two perfect monologues last night in the wake of the Orlando mass murder has me thinking. As we all should be.

Which is the appropriate response? Anger? Compassion?

I contend that either is fine. As an initial response. (see yesterday's post on thoughts and prayers). But what about those of us with the power to create change?

Everyone grieves in their own way. There is no right or wrong way to express honest grief. Last night, Jimmy Fallon perfectly expressed my sorrow in his opening comments on The Tonight Show. Sam Bee perfectly expressed my anger in her opening of the perfectly brilliant Full Frontal. (see both below)

Are either of them right or wrong? Nope. Everyone grieves in their own way.

I have grieved and cried in private over the loss of 50 beautiful young lives and for the horror and pain that the 53 injured and all those who were there will live with the rest of their days. And the shock and sorrow their families and loved ones must feel. If there was anything that I could personally do to ease their pain, I would do it in a heartbeat.

But I also believe we are at a point where in addition to being loving and caring to those families, and offering our thoughts and prayers, if we don't take decisive action this will never stop. Action that says what kind of a people we are. What kind of a society we choose to live in. One where we value inanimate objects over children? Or one where we value the lives of our citizens?

We should value our people more than a document written by imperfect people who had the best intentions and declared how things should be in a perfect world in 1788. The framers of the constitution also thought slavery was hunky dory and that blacks were worth only 3/5 of a human being. So we know they were wrong on some things.

The constitution is not absolute.

We cry "Freedom!" when anyone talks about "taking our guns away." But none of us are truly free when we live in fear every day of our lives. That is not freedom. That is tyranny. A tyranny of our own making.

So yes, I am angry. Furious. That we as a nation have so little compassion. That we allow words written 240 years ago to be more important than human life today. That we are so enamored of money and power and politics over human life and dignity.

So yes. I grieve. Every single time this happens. Which is more than once a day, if you only  count those with 4 or more victims. Add in those with 3 or fewer and I would spend 24 hours a day grieving for the unnecessary loss of human life. As a human being, I simply cannot do that and still survive.

I can only grieve so many times before I have to speak out.

And try to DO something to stop it.

All I have is my voice, my vote, and my dollars.

Sam Bee on Full Frontal

Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show

Monday, June 13, 2016

The power of prayer on public policy (hint: none)

Prayer is great for introspection, but it does not get anything practical done. It's the only option many of us have in horrible situations, other than our vote. But make no mistake. It doesn't accomplish anything concrete other than to make us feel better and let others know we're thinking of them. Sometimes, that's all we have and all we can do. But other times, it needs to be used in conjunction with other things - like meaningful public policy.

Prayer doesn't stop people from buying assault weapons. It doesn't create rain in a drought. It doesn't fix floods. It doesn't stop the decay of our atmosphere from overuse of fossil fuels.  Do you know what fixes these things? Policy. Money. Governments. Commitment. People.

In the wake of another mass murder using assault weapons legally purchased (even though the murderer was on the terror watch list at one point, was a domestic abuser, and had been interviewed by the FBI 3 times for terror) all politicians had to offer up was their thoughts and prayers.

Igor Volsky called them out as hypocrites on twitter for their thoughts and prayers. It's not that thoughts and prayers aren't important on a personal level. For many of us, they are. But incessant thoughts and prayers when you are in a position to change outcomes eventually become meaningless.

Do you know what would have kept Volsky from calling those politicians out? Had those hypocritical politicians said "Sending thoughts and prayers for the victims. This is unacceptable and I will work to fix our flawed gun legislation."

When you are in a position of power to make meaningful change, thoughts and prayers only go so far before they become meaningless.

via sandyhookshame.com

If you want those thoughts and prayers offered up by politicians to mean something, then we as a nation need to do a few things.

1. Speak with your vote. Elect representation that supports curbing gun violence with assault weapons bans, universal background checks, putting terrorists and felons and domestic abusers on a no buy list, and a constitutional amendment regarding campaign finance reform that takes special interests (like the NRA) out of the equation (thanks for Citizen's United, SCOTUS).

2. Demand that your representatives do their jobs. Call. Email. Write old fashioned letters. @ them on social media. Tell them that you expect more than thoughts and prayers. You expect them to ACT.

3. Get involved. Join a legitimate organization, volunteer. Make your voice heard and help others to make their voices heard.

4. Elevate the discourse in this country. Ensure that we don't allow super-nationalism, xenophobia, homophobia, racism, and religious zealotry to have a legitimate voice in public policy.

5. Speak with your wallet. If organizations promote hatred, don't shop there. If you don't agree with an organization's political position, it's ok to not give them your hard earned dollars. Here's some examples: I don't agree with Chick-Fil-A's homophobic position. I have never eaten there. I haven't bought food from Domino's since I discovered in the early 90s that they gave $0.10 of every dollar to the Right to Life foundation. It may not mean anything to those organizations individually, but if many people do it, then it has the chance to work. Even if it doesn't, it makes me feel better to know that I am not personally funding hatred.

6. Promote public education. Insist your states & localities fund it. We had a wonderful public education system until ignorance and religion, as well as budget crises, underfunded it. This is why our government collects taxes.

Speaking of taxes... government does not exist to be run as a business. It's not a for-profit entity - no matter how much some people think it is. It exists to take care of its citizens. Tax dollars are important and are the primary way the government takes care of its people. Among other things, they keep our roads drivable and our bridges crossable, our people healthy and sheltered, our children educated, and provide disaster relief.

From the Preamble to the Constitution (bolding mine):
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
From Article 1, Section 8:
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States
If you feel like your government isn't taking care of you, then insist that it does. First and foremost, with your vote. Then by being a vocal advocate.

One other note: we have freedom of speech in this country. However, freedom of speech in public does not free you (or me) from the consequences of that speech, especially when it comes to your employment or your reputation. Example: Using your employment platform to spout your personal beliefs.

So continue your thoughts and prayers. I'm sure that they make you feel like you are doing something to fight back in a violent and uncertain world.

But if you are in a position to do effect meaningful change, your thoughts and prayers are not enough.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Guns... guns... guns... and more guns

AP Photo / Brennan Linsley

As of the writing of this post, there are still no final conclusions as to the motive or group affiliations of the terrorist that killed 50 people and injured 53 more at a nightclub in Orlando. Some things are known:
  • He had a history of domestic violence.
  • He hated gays.
  • He was Muslim.
  • ISIS claimed responsibility.
  • Politicians who have actively and openly hated on the LGBTQ community are now sending "thoughts & prayers".
  • Except asshat Lt. Gov Dan Patrick of TX

    (who then put out this press release after a shitton of backlash)
  • Also except asshat Donald Drumpf.

    (who then did not put out a statement after a shitton of backlash)

  • POTUS likes Rush
  • None of this is due to the easy availability of guns. Of course it's not! How could you even think that?! That's blasphemous!

And once again, the requisite Facebook replies:
  • Guns didn't kill people, people killed people. - Yes, WITH GUNS.
  • Bad guys don't follow laws. - It's usually these people who are quick to want laws surrounding so many other things (regulating my uterus being at the top of the list). Also, they have no answer for the "why have laws at all, then"? Other than "RIGHT! We shouldn't have laws - we should be able to whatever the hell we want, because Murica! Freedom!" 
  • Even without guns they will find a way to kill people. - Sure, but it's pretty tough to kill 50 people in a few seconds with a knife.
  • But... the gun was bought illegally. I'm a LAW-ABIDING gun owner. - See above ^. Also, if we didn't have > 1 gun for every human being in America, maybe illegal weapons wouldn't be so damned easy to get.
  • 2nd Amendment, yo! - The 2nd amendment argument is pretty null and void in my mind at this point - muskets couldn't kill 50 people in seconds. Also, the founding fathers definitely meant the Constitution to be a living, breathing document that changed with the times.
click to enlarge

PS: President Obama didn't add this quote to the Jefferson Memorial to justify his treasonous, Muslim, Kenyan activities. It was there long before he even became a glimmer in his daddy's eye. President Roosevelt dedicated it in 1943.

I've talked about guns millions of times before. Frankly, I'd like to repeal the 2nd amendment altogether. I'm past the whole "responsible gun owner" shit. I'm past "let's regulate guns like cars - with forced registration, insurance, written & proficiency tests every 4 years, safety regulations, etc". I don't frankly know what else the answer could be. Other countries have figured this out and don't have the number of mass murders we do. In our nationalistic zeal, we refuse to admit that another country might do something better than us.

That this happened during gay pride and was an attack on LGBTQ people in one of their safe spaces is getting lost in the shuffle, and I don't intend that at all. It's huge. And awful. And needs to stop now. There are so many others more qualified to talk about the impact on the LGBTQ community than I am. I just hope they know they have an ally in me.

What happened in the early morning hours in Orlando is horrifying. I'm beyond shocked and have moved directly into anger. I storified my tweets & RTs from this morning about this.

Our President is right. Thoughts and prayers mean nothing if we don't take action. There is an election coming up. Please get involved. If this amount of gun violence is unacceptable to you, vote out your gun-loving congress-idiot.

Not sure who's taking money from the NRA or other gun-lobby groups to vote down gun control legislation? After the San Bernardino shooting, Igor Volsky of Think Progress put together a series of tweets calling those folks out. He did it again this morning.

Enough is enough.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The patriarchal society that perpetuates rape, AKA Idiots on social media

This is one of those times where I would say, "Cover your eyes, Mom - there's going to be a lot of swearing." Sadly, my mom passed away last week. But I know that she is cringing wherever she is, so I'll say it anyway. Cover your eyes, Mom. There's going to be a lot of swearing.

Rape has been back in the spotlight this past week, with the offensive sentence given to yet another athlete student convicted rapist who would have his whole life ruined if he went to jail for a long time. *wrings hands* Think of his future!

Who cares what the victim went through. That poor boy. SMH. His life ruined over 20 minutes of action. His father is despondent (see below). Such a shame.

So... as seems to happen every time a rapist goes essentially free, there is a chart floating around social media, declaring (accurately) that the only cause of rape is rapists. My husband (oh, how I love him) posted it on his Facebook page.

Of course, this always seems to bring out the misogynist nut cases who insist that if only a woman would act like a lady, they wouldn't get violated.

I usually try to stay out of these because it makes my blood pressure go through the roof, but I was seething last night. SEETHING.

First, this comment by a former student of the hub, in response to the "rediculous chart":
"All of the rape victims I know share a few common threads....flirtatious nature, inappropriate attire, drinks to excess. How many conservatively dressed, well-behaved, sober women out there are getting raped? Just saying."
First off, if "all of the rape victims you know" incorporates that many women, I wonder why you aren't more sympathetic. Or are they all sluts who are asking for it? Also, if you generalize in such a way, I'm guessing that all the rape victims you know don't really want to know you.

Second, there are millions of women each year that are raped, who were wearing jeans, t-shirts, stone cold sober, sleeping in their own beds minding their own business. Also, it doesn't matter if the victim was stark naked and drunk as a skunk. You don't stick your dick (or anything else) into someone without permission. The end. Her clothes, or her drink, or her smile do not imply "Please stick your dick or some other object into my body."

Let me repeat that:
You don't stick your dick (or anything else) into someone without permission. The end.

Third, it doesn't matter to these people how the woman acted.

If she was smiling, she invited it.
If she wasn't smiling, she's a bitch who deserves what she got.
If she was drinking, she deserves what she got.
If she wasn't drinking, she's an antisocial bitch who deserves what she got.
If she wore a short skirt, she invited it.
If she wore jeans, she's an uppity feminist who deserves what she got.

See how this works with those folks?

So I posted a link about rape myths, complete with citations, to try to educate this idiot, because that's how I (try to) roll.

His response?
"I saw nothing in that article to dispell my claim. Let me be clear. I'm not condoning rape. I'm just saying that it can be avoided. Just the same, it can be encouraged."
No. NO. Rape is NOT encouraged. Not by what a woman wears, not by what she drinks, not by smiling and laughing with another person. Just NO. Comments like that try to turn rape into just a sexual encounter. Rape is a crime of violent power. It is not about sex - it's about exerting your power over another human being through violent sexual assault.

To which I got the stock answer about teaching your daughter to be a lady. Fucktard.
"If you had a daughter, would you condone her drinking, dressing provocatively, being flirtatious, and hanging out at wild parties and bars or would you encourage her to dress conservatively, choose her friends wisely, and conduct herself like a lady?"
Here's the thing. I did many of those things in college and during the years after, and interestingly, not one single solitary man decided it was his right to rape me because I wasn't living up to his definition of "a lady". Shocking, I know.

Instead of the offensive suggestion that I should make my daughter conform to patriarchal definitions of what should define a woman (or as he so condescendingly put it, a "lady"), my husband and I decided to teach our sons to respect all people, to never take advantage of people, and to help people when they need it. What a concept, I know.

I had my son (and his friend - heh) read the letter from the survivor in the Stanford rape case. It is powerful stuff. I also had them read the statements from the 2 men who stepped up and did something. Who stopped Turner and caught him, and held him until police arrived. Because that is what I would expect of my sons. Of anyone who witnessed such a crime.

Until we stop this idiotic centuries-old notion that women are asking for it, that if they would just act or dress or behave like a lady, well golly gee - men would protect and defend them, rapists like Brock Turner will continue to get 6 months.

And don't even get me started on the privilege and entitlement that Turner and his family exuded. What do you suppose the sentence would have been if he was black? Pretty sure we can all agree that it wouldn't be 6 months.

Women are not complicit in their rape.

Rape is a violent crime, an abuse of power, perpetrated by a criminal onto a victim.

Get that into your big fat head and shut the everloving fuck up.

PS: Learn how to spell.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I have feelings about the Democratic primary and Bernie Sanders

I have feelings about a man who has admirably spent his entire political career as an Independent coming in as a Democrat, bitching about the Democratic party, and then criticizing the policies of the Democratic Party when they don't support his agenda. For that, Bernie Sanders wins today's You've Got Balls award.

Don't get me wrong, I like many of Bernie Sanders' positions. I disagree with many of his positions as well. But he'll never get anything done in Washington as President. Congress is a real thing in our world. The President doesn't get to make all the laws. We have a Constitution. And a really stupid Congress. And if Sanders really thinks he can get an obstructionist, stupid Congress to even do anything but laugh at his agenda, well.....

I've said this about the Republicans, and I'll say it about the Democrats as well (and the pretend Independent Democrats). This country was founded on compromise. None of the Founding Fathers got everything they wanted. They had to give a little to get a little. Bernie Sanders has drawn a line in the sand. That's not going to get him anywhere. Hillary Clinton is willing to work for the best deal that works for the majority of Americans. And that's what will chip away at the impasse in Washington. President Obama has accomplished a tremendous amount by doing just that. I'd like to continue progress and work our way toward your vision. I believe in your end-vision - I just don't believe that it can be done all in one fell swoop. Unfortunately, it's got to be a process. And you aren't willing to let it be a process.

My point really is this simple, though. You come into the Democratic Party to run for President, which really isn't your party, but is the party that provides you the best chance to get yourself elected. That's pretty opportunistic, if you ask me. Kind of like the manipulation of the system you're railing about in your campaign.

Anyway, you opportunistically decide to run as a Democrat, even though you're an Independent. Then you complain because the Democratic party rules don't suit your purposes. No. It just doesn't work that way.

And then, if you don't get the nomination, you might just go back to your old party, because then you can really disrupt the system and get your supporters to ensure that Trump is elected president. So basically, you're pulling the little kid practice of - "You're being mean to me. Boohoo. I don't wanna come to your stupid birthday party anyway. And I'm gonna tell all my friends not to come to your birthday party either! I'm gonna have a party of my own so nobody comes to your dumb old party. So there!". Thus, ruining all the parties for everyone.

So here's a thought. Then don't hijack a political party for your own gain and then complain about that political party when it doesn't work for you. Time to learn how to play nice with the other kids on the yard.