On This Day In 2015 …

Today’s post is courtesy of The Obama Foundation’s website


JUSTICE LIKE A THUNDERBOLT

The Supreme Court Speaks … or Doesn’t

The Supreme Court made a number of decisions and non-decisions yesterday.  Let’s start with the good news first!


As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does provide protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  About damn time!  It was a no-brainer to start with!  Nobody should be fired for anything other than poor job performance … not because of skin colour, religion or lack thereof, gender or gender identity, or any other superficial criteria.  But, in the United States of Bigotry, far too many people did not understand.

But one of the things that makes this decision by the Court so amazing is that Justice Gorsuch, a justice hand-picked by Trump, was on the side of right.  In fact, he wrote the majority opinion which in part reads …

“An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”

So, who were the three Justices who thought otherwise, who are such homophobes that they cannot abide the idea of a gay person being treated fairly?  Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and predictably, Trump’s crybaby pick, Brett Kavanaugh. And what was their rationale?  I read parts of Justice Alito’s dissenting opinion, and found it to be rambling rubbish.  A few snippets …

“A more brazen abuse of our authority to interpret statutes is hard to recall. The court tries to convince readers that it is merely enforcing the terms of the statute, but that is preposterous.  After today’s decision, plaintiffs may claim that the failure to use their preferred pronoun violates one of the federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination.  For women who have been victimized by sexual assault or abuse, the experience of seeing an unclothed person with the anatomy of a male in a confined and sensitive location such as a bathroom or locker room can cause serious psychological harm.”

Bullshit!  It seems that a number of people in this nation share Alito’s, Thomas’, and Kavanaugh’s opinion and still haven’t awakened to the fact that LGBT people are … PEOPLE.  Human beings just like any other who have the right to an education, a job, and all the other rights and privileges enjoyed by others.  It’s not surprising to see which political party has the most homophobes …LGBT-caseAt any rate, this is justice as it should be, and for once, fairness won the day.


The Court sometimes speaks as loudly in the cases they don’t hear as the ones they do.  In three notable cases yesterday, such was the case.

The first notable case the Court decided against hearing was a compilation of nearly a dozen cases that gun rights groups claim violate their 2nd Amendment rights.  Among them were cases involving restrictions in Maryland and New Jersey to permits for carrying a handgun outside the home.  For now, at least, the restrictions put in place by the states are allowed to stand.  Justices Thomas and Kavanaugh, of course, disagreed, with Thomas saying …

“This Court would almost certainly review the constitutionality of a law requiring citizens to establish a justifiable need before exercising their free speech rights. And it seems highly unlikely that the Court would allow a State to enforce a law requiring a woman to provide a justifiable need before seeking an abortion.”

Sorry, Thomas … not a valid comparison.


Next, the Court declined to hear a case concerning a California state law that prohibited state authorities from assisting federal immigration agents (e.g., alerting the federal government when someone in custody was to be released or handing off an undocumented person to federal authorities). The Trump administration, in its never-ending hunt to harass and deport undocumented immigrants (regardless of the danger they pose to society and their roots in the community), sued.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit agreed with the district court that the California law was constitutional.  Thus Trump’s lawyers took it to the Supreme Court, who has now refused to hear it.  Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito noted publicly that they would have granted the government’s petition, and I can only assume that Kavanaugh would have, also.  This is a win in that it leaves in place California’s law, which reaffirms that states cannot be dragooned into performing services for the federal government.


And now for the bad news …

The court declined to hear eight cases challenging the doctrine of qualified immunity, which acts to shield police and others acting from lawsuits.  It is this qualified immunity that has enabled so many officers to walk away without punishment after killing unarmed black men in situations that did not require the use of excess force.

In response to the Court’s decision not to hear the cases, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass, and Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Chair Steve Cohen released a statement reading, in part …

“Qualified immunity has repeatedly barred victims of police brutality from having their day in court, and it has been criticized by liberals and conservatives alike.

The Supreme Court’s failure to reconsider this flawed legal rule makes it all the more important for Congress to act. The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 does just that: it makes clear that qualified immunity cannot be used as a defense in civil rights suits against federal, state, or local law enforcement officers. It is long past time to remove this arbitrary and unlawful barrier and to ensure police are held accountable when they violate the constitutional rights of the people whom they are meant to serve.”

I fully agree … in my book, it was unconscionable for the Court to refuse to review these cases, where their review might have ruled that police are, in fact, accountable for their actions.


Well, there you have it … a summary of the most important cases, decisions and non-decisions of the Supreme Court yesterday.  The first, of course, is a huge win and should be celebrated.  I am pleased that Justice Neil Gorsuch took a stand on the side of right, as did Chief Justice Roberts.  I’m also pleased that the Court upheld California’s right to protect its immigrant population from draconian federal agencies directed by Trump.  I’m less pleased by the final non-decision, but given the current situation, the protests that have come as a result of decades of police brutality against people of colour, I think change is going to happen, despite the Supreme Court refusing to be the agent of that change.

True Believer Pompeo Drives Iran Policy

The United States is a secular nation, one that welcomes people of all or no religions, but does not govern based on the beliefs or principles of any religion. At least, that’s the intent as laid forth by the U.S. Constitution. Today’s “leaders”, the people driving public policy, seem painfully unaware of this principle. Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has written an excellent post about this, the greatest hypocrisy. Thank you, Jeff …

On The Fence Voters

It’s an open secret that the evangelical community has forged a somewhat uneasy alliance with the current president of the United States. He gives them the judges they want, gives them lip service supporting ‘religious liberty,’ and does a travel ban on Muslims. All of this overrides the fact he’s perhaps the most un-Christian president in history who’s a pathological liar and who publicly bullies people he doesn’t like.

To them, while he’s an imperfect leader, he’s the ‘chosen one’ who might get them the ‘end days’ they so desperately crave. And while that’s enough to make me grab a shot of whiskey (even though I’m a beer drinker), even more frightening is that the two men driving his Iran policy are Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Both consider themselves proud members of the evangelical community.

I’ve known about Pence for sometime now. He’s a pretty…

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The Face of Ugly

I generally try to avoid ranting.  As a rule, my ‘snarky snippets’ are enough to release the pressure that builds as a result of the chaos and corruption of our government and the idiocy of our society, and then I can go back to breathing and writing more well-reasoned pieces.  But sometimes a number of issues converge, and it is blowup time.  I can either blow up at my family, who do not deserve to be the brunt of my temper, or I can let the steam off here on my blog in an all-out rant.  I choose the latter, so please bear with me.

There are two professions that should be above politics, though there is a necessary correlation:  Teaching and Medicine.  There is only one valid reason to enter into either of these fields, and that is a genuine desire to help people, to make a difference in this world, to be a humanitarian.  Anybody who enters either of these professions for any other reason … well, they ought to get out.  If you have any other motive, then I do not want you teaching my grandkids and I don’t want you being responsible for my life or that of a loved one.

Of late, it seems that some in the medical profession have decided they only want to treat people of one sort, while excluding some of the people who may need their services most.  They are bigots and homophobes, and they ought to go work in an auto plant or a bank, for they are not humanitarians.  I am talking, of course, about the recent push by some to allow health care workers to legally discriminate against the LGBT community.

Discrimination is against the law, just in case anybody has any doubts.  We have something called ‘civil rights’ in this country, or at least we did until just over two years ago.  I would also remind you that this is a secular nation, meaning our government is not tied to any specific religion and does not make laws that discriminate pro or con any specific religion.  Until, that is, the evangelical Christians and Donald Trump came together.  Suddenly, under the Reign of Trump, it is said to be okay to refuse health care to LGBT people.

Why, you ask?  Because the bulk of those who support Trump are these evangelicals and Trump believes he only needs to serve his supporters, not the majority of us who cannot stand the ‘man’!  So, along come the ‘evangelicals’ and they say to Trump, “Hey, Don, our bible says that sex between two men or two women is a sin, and so we want to have nothing to do with those gay and transgender people.  Can you help us out here?”  And so Don helps them out.

From the New York Times

President Trump on Thursday announced an expanded “conscience rule” to protect health care workers who oppose abortion, sterilization, assisted suicide and other medical procedures on religious or moral grounds.

The rule establishes guidelines for punishing health care institutions with the loss of federal funds if they fail to respect the rights of such workers.

“Just today, we finalized new protections of conscience rights for physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students and faith-based charities,” Mr. Trump said in a Rose Garden event for the National Day of Prayer. “They’ve been wanting to do that for a long time.”

The ‘rights of such workers’???  What about the rights of a sick person or a child???  What about the human rights to an education and health care?  What about civil rights???  Only about 25% of the population of this nation identify as evangelical, and yet that 25% … that minority … now gets to decide on the laws of the land for us all?

As those of you who have followed this blog for a time are aware, I am not religious, but I respect the religious views of all others, including Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Jains, and all others.  I shy away from discussing religion on this blog for that very reason … I recognize that there are many different sets of beliefs out there and I would never willingly offend any.  That said, there is only one qualifier:  don’t shove your religion on others, including myself!  This latest move by King Trump is doing just that.  It is saying that a nurse can refuse to take the blood pressure of a gay person, an ambulance driver can refuse to transport an accident victim who happens to be transgender and instead may leave him by the side of the road to die.Helping othersThis nation was founded in part on religious freedom, and yet now, some 230 years later, the current regime is attempting to force this entire nation to believe as a mere 25% of the population believe.  What is wrong with this picture???

I want you to think about a question:  What’s next?  Yes, what’s next … we know there will be a ‘next’, for when Trump gets his way once, it emboldens him to go on and push for more.  So, by autumn will he sign a new rule saying it’s okay to deny an education or medical treatment to African-Americans?  Far-fetched, you say? I think not.  The bulk of his supporters are evangelicals, and they got what they wanted.  The bulk of his supporters are also white and believe that this nation should favour Caucasians.  Will they get their way also?

Bigotry takes on many forms from homophobia to misogyny to Islamophobia to racism and in every instance it is a result of fear … in every instance it is the face of ugly.  I look around this country … a country I’ve lived in all my life, a country I thought I knew … and more and more I see the face of bigotry, the face of ugly.  I see the arrogance of those who think they are somehow superior based on the colour of their skin, or their religion, or even their gender.  I don’t like what I see, do you?  Think about it.

Meanwhile, Up In Canada — A Guest Post By Rawgod

We here in the U.S. are so absorbed in the daily dose of Trumpism that rarely in the past two years have most of us looked outside our own borders.  Oh, sure, we have the most basic knowledge of the Brexit battle, and we make note of such things as the two recent mosque shootings in New Zealand, but for the most part we are so inundated in all things “trump”, that we are almost buried in the detritus.  But, our situation is not unique in this, the year 2019.

Our friend rawgod lives in the western Canadian province of Alberta, and they have problems that are very similar to our own, and in many ways tied directly to our own.  I have long argued that no nation can afford to take an isolationist view, for this is a global world now, and no nation can survive without cooperation in many areas:  technology, trade, national security.  So, when rawgod offered me this guest post, I was happy to be able to present a first-hand, up-close-and-personal view of what is transpiring outside the U.S.  By the way … I always welcome guest posts any time somebody feels so inclined!  Thank you, rawgod, for helping to open my eyes about what is going on up north!Text dividers800px-Alberta_in_Canada.svgIn Alberta I am told that over 100,000 people are out of work because the Oil Sands production has been reduced. This is partly because of Paris Accord commitments to cleaner air, but that partly is too small. The biggest reason is because we are producing more oil than we can move to places whose people are willing to process our oil into usable form. The province’s population is crying for pipelines to move our oil, not caring whose land the pipelines might cross or what ecologies might be damaged. Mostly the land they want to use is owned by First Nations people, and government-protected wildlife areas.

Meanwhile, it is mostly white people who are clamouring for these pipelines to be built without ecological studies. Who cares how the pipelines hurt Mother Nature or First Nations people OR THE ATMOSPHERE WE BREATHE as long as they make their money. Oil Sands wages are extremely high, as wages go these days. The people who want those wages do not want to be retrained to make clean money or clean air, they want to keep on making their dirty money for dirtying the atmosphere. They care nothing about others, they care only about themselves and their wallets.

Alberta has an election coming up in April, and who is making the loudest noise about pipelines–you guessed it, the United Conservative Party, led by a man named Jason Kenney, who cheated to get the party leadership, a man who may have actually broken the law, one who definitely broached political ethics, to make sure he won. Now he wants to become Premier of our province. AND PROBABLY WILL! Alberta has, until the last election, always been a conservative-voting province since its inception.

Yesterday this party did a big flip flop, it went from wanting to expose non-straight children in our school systems to saying it wanted to protect them from exposure, after years of loud politicking that non-straight kids needed to be exposed. Does this sound like a true policy change to anyone? Or does it sound like an insincere political attempt to attract more liberal-minded voters to its march to taking over the province.

After just one day, the leader of the UCP changed his tune about Gay Straight Alliances in schools, which are what I was talking about yesterday regarding exposing those who feel they are not heterosexual. For most of the past three years he has been demanding that schools expose kids who join Gay Straight Alliances, no matter what their reason. He wanted to promote homophobia. Yesterday, he said kids needed to be safe from exposure. We all knew he did not mean that. Today, ONE WHOLE DAY after saying kids needed to be safe, he clarified his policy. IT SHOULD BE UP TO THE TEACHERS TO EXPOSE GSA MEMBERS IF THE TEACHER THOUGHT IT WAS NOT IN THE STUDENTS’ BEST INTERESTS. Who would get to decide that? Religious teachers? Of course. The teachers themselves do not want that responsibility, as a group, but particular teachers do, the ones who believe it is their right to tell parents their children might think they are gay. Or the children may want to just understand their friends who think they might be gay. That is what GSAs are for. To promote healthier relationships. To stop homophobia before it starts.

So much for a new UCP policy. The politicians want to hide behind the teachers. Gutless wonders. Homophobes every one. Suppress healing. Divide. Divide. Divide!

Oh, did I say many of their party faithful have had to pull out of the race after having their racial hatred and white superiority statements brought to light, or even just threatened to be brought to light. They made statements on social media sites before they decided to run for office, and now those chickens don’t want to be roasted with their own bigoted words. Surprise! Surprise!

These are the people who mainly make up the UCP, including their cheating leader. These are Alberta’s Trump-lovers. And these are the people who are probably going to win the election, because their policies of hatred and greed resonate with a huge portion of Albertans.

Vive Jason Kenney! Vive Donald Trump! Vive the death of humanity! Vive climate change! Barf… Barf… Barf…

Two Jaw-Dropping Moments …

More than once I have said that it feels as if we are moving backward to a time of extreme bigotry and racism, to a time of segregated schools, a time of ‘whites only’ bathrooms and drinking fountains.  Two stories in yesterday’s news confirmed my worst fears.


A PEW research study was released yesterday that caused my jaw to drop.  The survey found that 34% of Americans … more than a third … think it is okay to wear blackface as a part of a costume all, or at least sometimes.  I am stunned at the ignorance, the utter crudity of these people!  Unthinking louts!  Morons!  The demographics are interesting … take a look …Pew-blackface-surveyNotice especially the differences between Republicans and Democrats — and the republicans wonder why the GOP has become known as the party of racists?  The survey was conducted January 22nd to February 5th, mostly before the revelation of Virginia Governor Northam in blackface in his med school yearbook.

The age breakdown is also interesting, for it seems that people ages 18-29 are least likely to say it’s okay.  But to me, the educational breakdown is perhaps the most relevant.  It seems that common sense, compassion, cultural awareness increase with higher levels of education.  Take a look …Pew-blackface-survey-2.pngI wonder, if this survey had been taken three years ago, when we had an African-American president, a man of conscience and compassion, and before the ‘man’ in the Oval Office gave off racist vibes, would the results have been the same?  For the record, it isn’t really a matter of opinion, but a matter of what’s right and what’s wrong.  Wearing blackface is a form of mockery, a form of denigration, and it is NEVER acceptable.  Period.  Not for a costume party, not for a small gathering of close friends, and not for a med school yearbook picture.  NEVER.Only one race


The second jaw dropper came with this headline …

West Virginia lawmaker compares LGBTQ community to the KKK

Say WHAT???  Ai ching … chihuahua!!!

In recent months, cities and municipalities in West Virginia have begun passing ordinances protecting the LGBT community from discrimination.  Enter West Virginia state Delegate Eric Porterfield, not surprisingly a republican, who argued in favour of a state-level bill that would make such local ordinances against state law.  The very notion that he is against equal rights for LGBT people is bad enough, but his rhetoric …

Eric-Porterfield“The LGBTQ is a modern-day version of the Ku Klux Klan, without wearing hoods with their antics of hate. The LGBT is the most socialist group in this country. They do not protect gays. There are many gays they persecute if they do not line up with their social ideology. I am terrified of these people. They represent a socialist activist agenda. They are opponents of freedom.”

‘Opponents of freedom’.  You, Mr. Porterfield, are a grade-A jackass!  Mr. Porterfield is blind, having lost the sight in both eyes as a result of an altercation in 2006.  Now, I just wonder how he would like it if somebody referred to blind people as being just like the KKK?

This is not his first time being a bully, as you might expect.  In 2016, he saw a Facebook post by his wife’s gynecologist arguing in support of a woman’s right to choose, right to abortion.  He told her in a Facebook message that, if she didn’t change to an anti-abortion position, he’d organize an economic boycott of her practice.

The situation escalated to the point of him filming a Facebook video calling for the boycott, and the doctor obtaining a protective service order from Magistrate Sandra Dorsey against Porterfield in court. Mercer County sheriff’s deputies then confiscated guns owned by Porterfield and his wife, Jessica.  (Wouldn’t you just know they owned guns?)

And then in 2018, a bill was up before the West Virginia Legislature to ban forced conversion therapy on minors.  The bill failed, but Porterfield was livid that the bill was even introduced, calling the bill bigoted and discriminatory.

This man is a prime example of what is wrong not only in our government, but in our society today.  If you don’t fit into the mold … the white, Christian, straight, and preferably male mold … then you are second-class and deserve whatever those ‘exemplary’ white citizens decide you deserve. lgbt flag


One cannot blame Donald Trump exclusively for creating the attitudes of hate and bigotry we are seeing in ever-increasing numbers today, but we can blame him for condoning the behaviours of hate groups, and thus making these vermin believe that it is ‘okay’ to be racist, to be homophobic, xenophobic and misogynistic.  Donald Trump said he would get rid of ‘political correctness’.  Being politically correct is nothing more nor less than being polite, being kind, treating others fairly.  And yet, those are things that we are losing in this nation.  We are losing them because the ‘man’ at the helm of this ship says that white and Christian and straight are superior to all else.  He is wrong.  He is dead wrong.

Another One Slinks Out …

Jeff Amyx is a symbol of what is wrong with this country – with the world.  Jeff Amyx is one of the creatures that I often refer to as having slithered out from under a rock with the advent of Trump and the so-called populist movement.  Jeff Amyx, my friends, is a homophobe and in short, a hater of the human race except those who fit into his small white, Christian box.

In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled on Obergefell v Hodges in a 5-4 ruling that guarantees the right of same-sex couples to legally marry.  Mr. Amyx took umbrage with that ruling and almost immediately placed a sign in the window  of his Washburn, Tennessee hardware store …homophobic-amyx-hardwareAmyx quietly removed the sign a short time later and replaced it with one that read:

“We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone who would violate our rights of freedom of speech & freedom of religion.”

Just how, I wonder, does he figure that a gay person coming into his store, buying a hammer and paying for the hammer, thus putting profit in Amyx’ pocket, is violating his rights to freedom of either speech or religion?  Nobody has asked him to become transgender or gay!  Nobody even cares about his opinion, so long as he keeps it to himself!

Well, Amyx popped his ugly head back up last week, after the Supreme Court ruled that a Colorado baker was within his rights to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.  Amyx put his “No Gays Allowed” sign back in the window of his store.

“Christianity is under attack. This is a great win, don’t get me wrong, but this is not the end, this is just the beginning. Right now we’re seeing a ray of sunshine. This is ‘happy days’ for Christians all over America, but dark days will come.”

But Amyx hasn’t stopped there … it wasn’t enough to harass and discriminate, but he is now selling ‘homophobic products’.  Who knew that such a thing even existed?  And why does such a thing exist??? homophobic-sticker.pngAmyx claims to be a Baptist minister, but frankly, I think he falls far short of having the qualifications for the job.  He claims that “Christianity is under attack”, but from where I stand, he is the one doing the attacking – attacking peaceful people who only want to be left alone to love whomever they choose.

Amyx may end up regretting his decision to put his homophobia on display, however.  Yelp, the most widely-used app for rating businesses and posting reviews, received so many negative and one-star reviews for Amyx’ hardware store that they eventually had to thin them out! reviewsI visited the Yelp page for Amyx’ hardware store and despite the ‘thinning out’, there were hundreds of reviews urging consumers to boycott this business.  Take heart, folks … people like Amyx are in the minority, though a loud and obnoxious minority they are.  A recent Reuters/lpsos poll found that 72% of the people in this nation believe that businesses should not have the right on religious grounds to deny services to customers based on their sexual orientation.  Granted, it should be 99%, but 72% is still a significant majority of people who are scratching their heads and wondering, as I am, just what rock Jeff Amyx crawled out from under.

I am not a vindictive person, I believe in the old adage, “Live and Let Live”, but I have very little tolerance for bigotry in any form.  I reluctantly took a trip to Mr. Amyx’ Facebook page  where I found just about what I would have expected … support of Trump and condemnation of the LGBT community.  He praised Trump for failing to even acknowledge Pride Month for the second year in a row, while acknowledging such things as  National Homeownership Month, and National Ocean Month.  I found the picture of his business and parking lot interesting … doesn’t look like he has too many customers, does it?Amyx storefrontAnd he takes the transgender bathroom issue to a new level …Amyx-2I hope the 72% of us who are without prejudice against the LGBT community will boycott his business and by this time next year, Mr. Amyx will be seeking a job in the local grocery store or service station.  Why am I telling you about this homophobic jerk?   Because the best way to send these slugs back under the rock is to shine a bright light on them. Pouring boiling water on them would work as well, but I’m not in the mood to travel to Tennessee just to get thrown in jail!

Franklin Graham — Persona Non Grata

graham

Franklin Graham, Idiot of te Week Nov 2016

A little over a year ago, I awarded my coveted Idiot of the Week award to Mr. Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, and a most deserving recipient of my idiot award.  Today, I find that he is trying to spread his brand of idiocy, or narrow-minded “Christianity”, if it can be so-called, to our friends across the pond, and they, frankly do not want him!

US evangelical preacher should be banned from entering UK, critics say – The Guardian, 07 December 2017

MPs call for Franklin Graham to be banned from UK ahead of Blackpool visit – Premier, 08 December 2017

For those who may not know who Franklin Graham is, a quick recap.  He is a televangelist who is controversial for his far-right, bigoted ideology.  He has spoken brutally against Islam referring to it as “a very evil and wicked religion”, and has claimed that Barack Obama was “born a Muslim” (not true, but so what if it was?) and had allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate the US government at the highest levels during his presidency. He has taken on the LGBT community, saying that the mythological ‘Satan’ is behind same-sex marriage. In every possible way, he is a bigot extraordinaire.  He is, not surprisingly, a big supporter of Donald Trump. Of Trump’s election, he says …

“While the media scratches their heads and tries to understand how this happened, I believe that God’s hand intervened Tuesday night to stop the godless, atheistic progressive agenda from taking control of our country.”

So, with such outlandishly bigoted views, is it any wonder that the Brits don’t want him in the UK?  I think not, for I don’t want him in the U.S., either, but he seems to play well in the south, so as long as he stays in the south, and off my radar, I can simply ignore him.

Graham is scheduled to speak at the Lancashire Festival of Hope at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens in September 2018, but the protests began nearly a year ahead of the event.

A number of Members of Parliament, including a government minister, have urged the home secretary to consider refusing UK entry to Franklin Graham, with some suggesting his comments contravene British laws on hate speech. An online petition  has, as of this writing, garnered 6,150 signatures.

Blackpool MP, Gorden Marsden has called on the home secretary to consider refusing Graham entry, and said the evangelist may have broken UK legislation on hate speech. “I think frankly the evidence is piling up that his visit to the UK … would not be a good thing and not probably in my view a very Christian thing.”

Afzal Khan, the Labour MP for Manchester Gorton, said, “His views are not welcome, and I will make representation to the home secretary if it looks like he is intent on coming,”

Two opponents of Graham’s visit, the Blackpool vicars Andrew Sage and Tracy Charnock, have written an open letter to the bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson, calling on him to distance himself from the US evangelist. They say they are nervous about the damage the proposed visit will do to interfaith relations.

Nina Parker, the pastor of Liberty church in Blackpool and the organizer of the petition, said: “As a Christian and as a leader of a church that particularly welcomes LGBT people, I’m horrified that other local churches are inviting someone with this record of hate speech.”

Just as our friends on the other side of the pond, for the most part do not wish to welcome Donald Trump for a state visit next year, nor do they wish Franklin Graham to visit, bringing his message of hate, fear, and every phobia known to mankind.  Personally, I don’t blame them … I don’t want either of them, either!  And if he were sensible, Franklin Graham would cancel his visit, but … well, I just said if

Transphobia In The White House …

On Wednesday morning, the ‘man’ who just a year ago swore he would protect LGBT rights, tweeted the following:

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow…… Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming….. victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”

Let that sink in for a minute.  This is in direct contrast to the tweet he made on 14 June 2016, where he wrote, “Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”

Thousands of troops currently serving in the military are transgender, and some estimates place the number as high as 11,000 in the reserves and active duty military, according to a Rand Corp. study commissioned by the Defense Department.

As a reasonably intelligent, thinking person, I ask the question … how the Sam Heck does having transgender people in the military disrupt and burden the military???  Here are some of the excuses I found in my search for an answer to my question:

  • Military leaders are uncomfortable with transgender service. They fear that transgender service risks upsetting morale, especially in aggressive combat infantry units.
  • It could require new rules for restrooms, showers and other day-to-day functions.
  • Physical fitness requirements differ between males and females, and the military is not sure how to handle this one.
  • No refrigeration for medication during deployments.
  • There is a fear that if transgender personnel be allowed to serve openly, morale will be detrimentally affected.

Nothing more than a bunch of excuses.  The answer to my question, just as I expected, is really nothing more than bigotry … homophobia … transphobia. To further deflate the argument is the fact that 19 countries DO allow transgender people in the military, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.

According to my research, it appears that another major reason for transphobia both within the military and society as a whole is that many unenlightened people still, in the 21st century, consider that being transgender is a mental illness. I think this is the sort of thinking that takes us back to the Dark Ages.  And the broader question is … who’s next?  Will Trump decide that women will not be allowed to serve?  What about African-Americans?  Hispanics?  Or will he exclude Jews next?

What I found equally mind-numbing was a response by controversial former Breitbart employee, Milo Yiannopoulos:

“You don’t help mentally ill trans people by sticking them on the front lines. You help them with therapy and drugs — though not, I have to stress, transition surgery. I only wish he’d gone further and banned women from combat units too, since the evidence clearly shows their presence is disastrous for both morale and performance. Baby steps?”

Trump’s transphobic statement was not popular with most, including those on Capitol Hill and in the Pentagon.  The Pentagon press office was unaware that this decision was coming and referred questions about it to the White House.

“The tweet was the first we heard about it,” a defense official told the Wall Street Journal.

And while most in Congress deftly sidestepped the issue, a few spoke out:

“The President’s tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter. The statement was unclear. The Department of Defense has already decided to allow currently-serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many are serving honorably today. Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military—regardless of their gender identity.” – Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“You ought to treat everybody fairly and give everybody a chance to serve.” –  Senator Richard C. Shelby Republican from Alabama

“I don’t think we should be discriminating against anyone.” – Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican from Utah

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was obviously at a loss, having only one stock answer for the multitude of questions about specifics and implementation posed by reporters:

“,,, something that the Department of Defense and the White House will have to work together on as implementation takes place. This is a military decision, It’s not meant to be anything more than that.”

And when the questions continued, she threatened to end the press briefing, saying “If those are the only questions we have, I’m going to call it a day, but if we have questions on other topics, I’ll be happy to take them.”

Meanwhile, civil rights groups such as Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are prepared to take legal action when and if the transgender ban becomes policy.  Josh Block, an attorney for the ACLU’s LGBT Project, believes it would violate the Constitution’s equal protection clause and the Administrative Procedure Act. The APA protects individuals from “arbitrary or capricious” actions.

Once again, as was the case with his original travel ban, Trump has leapt without looking and his foolhardy actions have simply added another level to the chaos that defines the Trump administration.  Stay tuned, for I am certain to be back later with still more of this ulcer-inducing drama …

911 operator: What is the nature of your emergency?

Me:  I need to report a theft.

911 operator: What, exactly, was stolen, ma’am?

Me:  My sanity.  The thief goes by the name of Donald Trump and I can give you his address.  I want him arrested immediately.

Me:  Hello?  Hello …

We are Human

The nation just completed its celebration of 241 years since the Declaration of Independence was first published. Some celebrated in their usual manner, with picnics and fireworks, but many of us did not feel very celebratory. I would like to share this post from fellow-blogger Robert Goldstein, as it is short and goes straight to the point, to the reason that some of us feel there isn’t much to celebrate in this holiday. Thank you, Rob, for a post so full of feeling, a post to which many of us can relate. And thank you for permission to share.

Art by Rob Goldstein

I’m depressed this weekend and I don’t think I’m alone.

I feel overwhelmed by life in the United States.

How sad to watch intelligent people defend the rise of cruelty,  lies, and chaos.

Trumpism plays havoc with my DID because this is the abusive world of my childhood: the racist bullies with swastikas and white robes; homophobes who murdered gay  men with impunity.

The 1960’s was a time when it seemed only straight, white male lives mattered but we did have a government that imposed  the rule of law; we did have a government the people could petition for change.

The Trump Administration has declared war on human rights and the rule of law.

His cult members no longer recognize their brothers and sisters as human.

The United States has a sickness and it’s destroying our lives.

I’m going to take a short break this holiday because I need to…

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