Still More Tears Of Shame

It’s a known fact that Trump only likes people who are Caucasian and who pay homage to him by approving of his antics and wearing an ugly red hat.  But he took his phobia  of ‘other’ a bit too far last week when speaking of four freshman democratic members of Congress …

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly……….and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run.”

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how…….it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

The comment was sexist, Islamophobic, crass, and far beneath the dignity of the office he claims.  Nancy Pelosi appropriately chastised him …

“When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again. Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power. … I reject @realDonaldTrump’s xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation. Rather than attack Members of Congress, he should work with us for humane immigration policy that reflects American values. Stop the raids — #FamiliesBelongTogether!”

I concur 100% with Pelosi’s admonishment, and as always, I am stunned at the cruelty, the ignorance of the ‘man’ in the Oval Office.  But more than that, what appalls and confuses me is that those who support Trump, both in Congress and in the population at large, can hear his words and still think he is qualified for the office he claims.  NEVER before has a president been so crass, so uneducated, so disrespectful, and yet he still has a following of somewhere around 35% – 40%.  It is jaw-dropping.

I wrote the above yesterday, planned to make it the first of a couple of snarky snippets, but this morning I awaken to news that in the face of public outrage over his comments, he has dialed up the heat even more, and I decided this is to be the sole topic for this post.

He who uttered racist, hate-filled words directed at members of Congress based solely on their ethnicity, now “demands” an apology from them!  People … this is so very wrong.  As Speaker Pelosi said above, this affirms that his plan to ‘make America great’ is nothing more than a plan to make America white.  What an abomination … what a sorry excuse for a ‘man’, for a ‘president’.  His latest …

“When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said. So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!”

If people are angry with the Congresswomen, then those people are immediately identified, in my book, as racists … terrible, bigoted racists.  That the ‘man’ who sits in the Oval Office uses this level of vitriol against duly elected officials in a branch of government equal to his own, is simply beyond belief, unacceptable.

The four members of Congress with whom he has taken issue are:

  • Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts
  • Rashida Tlaib of Michigan
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York
  • Ilhan Omar of Minnesota

4-muslim-congressAll but one, Ilhan Omar, were born in the United States and are therefore U.S. citizens by birth.  Ilhan Omar became a U.S. citizen in 2000, at the age of 17.  Every one of them have as much right as Trump himself to reside in this country, and they have as much … nay, more … right to sit in Congress than Trump has to sit in the Oval Office, for they were all actually elected by a majority of the voters in their districts, and without the help of Vladimir Putin or an ‘electoral college’.

“If Democrats want to unite around the foul language & racist hatred spewed from the mouths and actions of these very unpopular & unrepresentative Congresswomen, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I can tell you that they have made Israel feel abandoned by the U.S.”

Frankly, their concerns about Israel are justified and mirror my own.  Under Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has become a domineering bully, and Trump has fed the monster.

Only one republican in Congress found the guts to speak out against Trump’s diatribe, and that was a milquetoast reaction by Representative Chip Roy, who tweeted …

“POTUS was wrong to say any American citizen, whether in Congress or not, has any ‘home’ besides the U.S.”

All the rest of the republicans sitting in the Capitol today remained silent.  Their silence speaks more loudly than any words could, don’t you think?

Fox ‘News’ commentators Griff Jenkins, Jedidiah Bila, and Todd Piro laughed about Trump’s racist tweets.  They referred to them as “very comedic”.Fox commentatorsFortunately, other leaders around the world were appalled …

“Donald Trump telling four ethnic minority American congresswomen to “go back” where they “originally came from”. 1950s racism straight from the White House.” – David Lammy, Member of Parliament of the UK

“The President of the United States telling elected politicians — or any other Americans for that matter — to ‘go back’ to other countries is not OK, and diplomatic politeness should not stop us saying so, loudly and clearly.” – Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

“I’ve heard it from racists and fascists. Never from a mainstream politician. Here you have the president of the U.S.A. using that same sort of language.” – Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

“It’s an insult to the Statue of Liberty, America’s most famous symbol, an insult to the American values where migrants from all over the world are united as one nation under one law.” – Ibrahim Milhim, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority

“Trump’s racism is sickening. Any European politician who fails to condemn this has questions to answer & should be ashamed of themselves.” – Guy Verhofstadt, Belgian politician and member of the EU Parliament

Donald Trump is the shame of this nation, a wart that grows larger and uglier with each passing day.  He shames us all when he speaks such hateful, vitriolic words.  Today, I am ashamed of this nation, ashamed to be called an “American”.

Small & Feeble Minds …

I live in a community that is probably 35% refugees from Middle-Eastern countries.  Our neighbors to the right are refugees from first Iraq, then Syria and have become our closest friends.  We share meals and holidays, share our cultures, laughter and love.  In the days following 9/11, another Iraqi family down the street whose daughters were friends with Miss Goose came to our door asking if there was anything they could do for us and saying how very sorry they were for what had happened.  I was so touched.  The police had to place patrols in the parking lot of the local mosque 24/7, for the Muslim community began receiving threats.  It was a tough time for us all … including our Muslim brothers and sisters.

We’ve come a long way since September 11, 2001.  Or have we?  Last November, the people of this nation elected three Muslim women to the U.S. House of Representatives, which would seem to indicate that we are moving … have moved … past the bigotry and Islamophobia that seemed in some ways to define the days and weeks after 9/11.  However, at least one person in this nation seems to have a problem with those women, one in particular.  The person I refer to is Donald Trump, and the newly-elected representative is Ilhan Omar, a representative from the state of Minnesota.Ilhan-Omar-Time-magIt all started back in February when Ms. Omar made a comment criticizing Israel’s occupation of Palestine.  House Minority Leader and member of the House Freedom Caucus, Kevin McCarthy, jumped all over her comment, saying it was even worse than Representative Steve King’s support of white supremacy.  He claimed her comment was ‘anti-Semitic’ (it was not), and rallied the forces of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) to condemn Ms. Omar.  What happened next was a series of back-and-forth that isn’t worth the time and space to relate here, but suffice it to say that Ms. Omar made quite clear that she was not speaking against the Jewish people, but against the state of Israel overstepping its bounds by occupying Palestine.  For the record, I agree with her.

“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. I want to ask why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA (National Rifle Association), of fossil fuel industries or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policies?”

Then last month, Ms. Omar once again came under fire after giving a speech at an event hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), where she was speaking in response to the two mosque shootings in New Zealand, speaking about the lingering fear directed at Muslims since 9/11, and the rights Muslims have to speak out about being viewed with suspicion.

“CAIR was founded after 9/11, because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties. Many people expect our community to feel like it needs to hide every time something happens. But repeatedly we have shown them that we are not to be bullied, not to be threatened, we are not to be terrorized, we are strong and resilient, and we will always show up to be ourselves because we know we have a right to a dignified existence and a dignified life.”

Many of us knew this would get worse, we finally have a leader, a world leader, in the White House who publicly says ‘Islam hates us,’ who fuels hate against Muslims, who thinks it is okay to speak about a faith and a whole community in a way that is dehumanizing, vilifying and doesn’t understand — or at least makes us want to think he doesn’t understand — the consequences his words might have.”

And once again, the republicans and Donald Trump were off the rails, with one comment I read even referring to CAIR as a ‘terrorist organization’.  There is no need for me to repeat all the ignorant comments that came out of the depths of ignorance, but one person took the hate and bigotry a step further, possibly even putting Ms. Omar’s life in danger.  That person is Donald Trump.

On Friday, Donald Trump who calls himself a ‘president’, took one small portion of Ms. Omar’s speech out of context and re-tweeted a doctored video that I will not replay here, for it denigrates every citizen of this nation, including Representative Omar, but suffice it to say that it attempts to show her as being dismissive of the lives that were lost on that tragic day.  This is the work of a small and feeble mind.  When the ‘man’ at the helm of a nation of more than 300 million people resorts to such juvenile tactics, he incites violence by the other small and feeble minds in the nation.  Who, really, is the terrorist here?  It seems to me the one who calls himself a ‘president’ is as much a terrorist as were Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, and Ziad Jarrah.

Predictably, the republicans and conservative media outlets went wild.  Ms. Omar has already been the focus of threats, including one by a Trump supporter who was recently arrested.  On April 7, Patrick Carlineo Jr., an ardent Trump supporter, was arrested for making violent threats in a phone call to Omar’s office. According to the criminal complaint, on March 21, Carlineo told one of Omar’s staff: “Omar’s a fucking terrorist. I’ll put a bullet in her fucking skull.”

Is this really the sort of nation we want to be?  Is this how we want to be viewed as a society?  The majority of us are capable of thinking for ourselves, reading or hearing Ms. Omar’s speech and understanding that it was a plea for inclusiveness, a condemnation of bigotry.  Sadly, however, there are people in this nation who, rather than use their own minds, prefer to believe what they are told.  In truth, we should be able to believe what the president of the country tells us, but under the current regime, it has been proven thousands of times that he lies to suit his own purposes.

I have the utmost respect for Representative Ilhan Omar, and if anything happens to her, her blood will be on the hands of one Donald Trump.  It’s time, people, to wake up and oust this abomination who some call ‘president’.

Before The War Came

Some time ago … I believe it was early in 2016, I discovered a blogger from India by the name of Anam, writing as Love Read Dream. Anam is very young (17-18) but wise beyond her years. She is at times funny, other times pensive, but she writes as well as any I have read. A few days ago I read a poem she wrote titled Before the War Came, and I was so touched by her words that I wanted to share it with my readers. Please allow me to introduce this beautiful young lady and her touching words. Thank you, Anam, for this hauntingly beautiful poem, and for your permission to share it with my friends.

Fade Into Oblivion

hiraeth(n.)  
a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the grief, the yearning for the lost spaces of your past.

“Go back to where you came from!”
I wish I could.
But my home is burning.
And I’m aching for the beautiful place my home once was.
There is a name for this feeling.
Hiraeth. It’s Welsh.
A foreign word for a foreign person.
“You are Dirty!” “Immigrants!” “Job stealers!””Refugees!”
My blood is tainted by my foreignness.
Maybe that’s the dirt you’re talking about.
I wish I had an answer for you.
But I’m drowning in nostalgia.
My dreams are invaded by images of my home.
The way my home has been invaded by war.
In this state of daydreaming,
I’m sorry if I accidentally bump into you
I’m sorry if that makes you jump out of your skin

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The Face Of Evil … Jeremy Joseph Christian

On Friday, 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian, of north Portland, Oregon, boarded a light rail MAX train in Northeast Portland.  He apparently had a chip on his shoulder and, for no discernable reason, began berating two women, one of whom was wearing a hijab.  He began ranting and shouting, telling them to “Get off the bus, and get out of the country because you don’t pay taxes here”.  Fearing that his rants were escalating, at least three other passengers acted to try to calm Mr. Christian and protect the two women.  Two of the three men are now dead, the third is in the hospital being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, and Mr. Christian is being held without bond in police custody on two counts of aggravated murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of intimidation in the second degree and one count of possession of a restricted weapon as a felon.

Jeremy-Christian

The face of evil – Jeremy Christian

A young woman on the train who wishes to remain anonymous said that when Christian got on the train, he was speaking on his cell phone:

“He was pretty upset, squinting his eyes, venting to his friend on the phone about some girl that just pepper-sprayed him. He was complaining about the city, complaining about Muslims, Christians, and it just got very violent very quick.”

After about 10 minutes, she apparently concluded that something was not right, and began recording him on her cell phone. To the best of my knowledge, that recording has not yet been released to the public.

Police say that his postings on social media sites typically relate to Nazis and political violence.  On his Facebook page, he expressed sympathy for Nazis and also for Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. And just last month, Christian attended a free speech march with a baseball bat to confront protesters but the bat was quickly confiscated by officers.

Jeremy-Christian-2.jpgIn an incident the night before the attack, Christian confronted a black woman at a light rail station.  He threw a Gatorade bottle at her, after which she sprayed him with mace.  Christian has a criminal record that includes a host of felonies going back to 2002, when he was convicted of first-degree robbery and second-degree kidnapping. He also has a conviction for carrying/using a dangerous weapon from 2002.

During an 8-year prison stint for robbery, Christian racked up a lengthy disciplinary record, according to Oregon Department of Corrections officials. Those violations included assault and disobedience. He moved around in the state’s prison system, serving time at four institutions in all.

Two of his Facebook postings:

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JC-tweet-2

Note that 8 people actually ‘liked’ the one about Norway!

JC-tweet-3

Donald Trump wants to ban immigrants who are of the Muslim faith, claiming that to let them come to the U.S. is opening the door for terrorism.  Guess what … terrorism isn’t coming from the Middle East, it is right here, right now, it has a face (see above), it has a name, Jeremy Christian, and there are thousands more just like him in this country.  These, folks, are the real terrorists.

This 35-year-old-man obviously had severe problems, had been in trouble with the law numerous times, and yet nobody picked up on it, or if they did, they shrugged their shoulders and … let Jeremy keep doing what Jeremy did.  Until Friday, when he robbed two good men of their lives.

“He’s been in prison. He’s always been spouting anti-establishment stuff. But he’s a nice person. I just can’t imagine.” – Mary Christian, Jeremy’s mother

I suppose that all parents have a bit of blindness when it comes to their children, but this goes beyond blindness.  To say, after everything he has done, that he is a ‘good person’, is simply delusional.

The victims:

BestRicky John Best of Happy Valley, Oregon, died at the scene.  Rick was a city of Portland employee, Army veteran and onetime candidate for Clackamas County commissioner. Best had three teenage sons and a 12-year-old daughter. Best retired from the Army as a platoon sergeant for Corps maintenance in 2012 after 23 years in the military.

Meche23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche of southeast Portland, was pronounced dead at a local hospital. A friend said that Namkai-Meche died as he lived: Standing up for something he believed in, hoping his action would change the world for the better. He held a degree in economics, worked for a local construction firm, and had just purchased his first home.

Fletcher-hospital.png21-year-old Micah Fletcher, was treated for injuries police said were “not expected to be life-threatening”. Fletcher is an aspiring poet who won a 2013 poetry competition, the Verselandia poetry slam, with a poem condemning prejudices faced by Muslims. He is a student at Portland State University, and works at a pizza shop. A GoFundMe account was established two days ago and has already received $211,685 as of this writing!  There are still a lot of good people in this world.

Fletcher-mother

Micah Fletcher’s Mother With One Of The Girls He Helped Save On Friday

These three men acted without thought for their own safety, they simply jumped in and did what needed to be done.  As I write this, I feel deep sadness, particularly for the two gentlemen who lost their lives, but also for … all of us.

Micah Fletcher wrote this poem on Saturday, the day after he was stabbed:

“I, am alive,
I spat in the eye of hate and lived.
This is what we must do for one another
We must live for one another
We must fight for one another
We must die in the name of freedom if we have to.
Luckily it’s not my turn today”
Beautiful young man with a beautiful heart. 

Idiot of the Week – Allen Bernard West

Idiot of the Week medal

I wanted to do an Idiot of the Week post two days ago, but the subject (Alex Jones) turned out to be simply too evil.  But today, as I was researching a news article, this man came onto my radar and taunted me.  He perfectly qualifies as an idiot extraordinaire, as you will see in a few moments.  Allen West has been around for a while, but the reason he fell onto my radar now is that he is aligning himself with none other than da trumpeter! He has met with Trump no less than two times recently, reportedly about the possibility of joining Trump’s national security team.

West has a speckled history, at best.  He served in the U.S. Army from 1983-2004, but was relieved of duty in 2004 when he was involved in an incident whereby he threatened and attempted to kill an Iraqi detainee.  After an Article 32 hearing was held, West accepted non-judicial punishment, was fined $5,000, and allowed to retire as a lieutenant colonel.

After an unsuccessful bid in 2008 for a seat in the House of Representatives, West won a seat in 2010, but lost it in the 2012 election, making him a single-term representative.  I think we can begin to see why he lost in 2012 when we let Mr. West tell us some of the things he said during those two years:

  • In July 2011 – “You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!” – to fellow representative Debby Wasserman Schultz
  • “If Joseph Goebbels [Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda] was around, he’d be very proud of the Democrat party, because they have an incredible propaganda machine.” – statement to reporters that drew criticism from other members of Congress, as well as the attention of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
  • During a speech at a country club dinner, speaking of liberals: “Take your message of equality of achievement. … You can take it to Europe, you can take it to the bottom of the sea, you can take it to the North Pole, but get the hell out of the United States of America.” (Really, Mr. West???  I think I pay taxes here, too!)
  • “I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool.” (Guess that makes me a threat to the gene pool!)
  • Speaking at a women’s conference: “[Liberal women] have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness — to let them know that we are not going to have our men become subservient. That’s what we need you to do. Because if you don’t, then the debt will continue to grow…deficits will continue to grow.” (So, what is he actually suggesting?  That men make it a weekly habit to beat their liberal women???)
  • During an interview on the O’Reilly Factor, West compared the Democratic Party to a “21st-century plantation.” Adding, “So I’m here as the modern-day Harriet Tubman, to kind of lead people on the Underground Railroad, away from that plantation into a sense of sensibility.” (I think you need to go back and study the history of Ms. Tubman, Mr. West!)
  • “Every time I see one of those bumper stickers, I look at the person inside that is driving. Because that person represents something that would give away our country. Would give away who we are, our rights and freedoms and liberties because they are afraid to stand up and confront that which is the antithesis, anathema of who we are.” (I guess that’s two strikes for me, as I have long sported the bumper sticker of which he speaks!)coexist2

It should come as no surprise that he has gained endorsements and support from three who have previously come onto my radar and earned my scorn:  Glenn Beck called for him to run for president in 2012; Sarah Palin and Ted Nugent both supported him for vice-president.  Can I pick ‘em, or what?

But now for West’s crowning achievement on the path to true, complete idiocy … this meme:
west-meme

The above meme was shared on West’s Facebook page last Saturday morning.  There is some dispute whether West himself actually posted the meme or whether his editor-in-chief, Michele Hickford posted it.  Either way, it is West’s venue and he must take full responsibility.  The meme was taken down on Saturday afternoon, and an apology issued by Ms. Hickford.  Mr. West himself has not issued an apology.  This, my friends, speaks volumes about the character, or lack thereof, of this man.

West is also, surprise, an avid supporter of the 2nd Amendment, and is a Life and Endowment Member of the National Rifle Association (NRA). In May 2016, he announced that he had been elected as a member of the NRA Board of Directors for a three-year term. His rhetoric on gun owners’ rights is predictable as he claims that President Obama has tried repeatedly to “take guns” from “law-abiding citizens”, and the rest of the Republican rhetoric we have all been hearing for the better part of a decade.

West is also, again … surprise, a frequent contributor on Fox News, where he continually spews more of his right-wing theories and anti-Democratic rhetoric, such as this:

“Morning folks. While you were sleeping, Barack Hussein Obama took out his pen and ordered our Military to enlist illegal aliens. In other words, this charlatan has allowed those who have disrespected our Constitution and are not citizens to take an oath to support and defend the very document, our rule of law, of which they are in violation.”

The reality is that former President George W. Bush was the one who initiated the program he references.  A visit to his website  provides more proof that the man is well-qualified for this award, as do his appearances on Fox News:

  • President Obama is “siding with groups like ISIS because he supports their goal of building an Islamic caliphate”.
  • On October 3rd, 2014, Allen West makes the paranoid claim that undocumented immigrants are spreading a childhood respiratory illness through America, as part of a plan of biological warfare orchestrated by the Obama administration for providing shelter to the undocumented migrant youths from Central America to help spread it. He would repeat this claim on October 8th.
  • On April 20th, 2015, Allen West is speaking in Texas, and blames a rise in high school football injuries on taking Christian prayer out of schools.
  • A column on his website claims the Supreme Court ruling on Gay Marriage could lead to a new civil war

There is much, much more to dislike about this man, but I am tired of reading his garbage for now.  Those of you who can stomach more of this, feel free to visit his website (link above) or his Facebook page.  Meanwhile, I hereby do present this coveted award of Idiot of the Week to Mr. Allen West.  Mr. West – I hope that you are able to understand what an honour this award is and that it will add grace to your life for many years to come.

The Story of Ahmed Mohamed and a Clock

ahmedAhmed Mohamed was just 14 when he was arrested last September in Irving, Texas.  The charge?  He was accused of bringing a bomb to school, of being a suspected terrorist.  The reality?  He was a young inventor, making his own radios and repairing his own go-kart. According to The Guardian, everybody in middle school knew Mohamed as “the kid who makes crazy contraptions”, and who fixed electronics classmates brought to him, earning him the nickname “Inventor Kid”. Last September, he built a working clock out of discarded parts, and he was proud of his invention … he wanted to show it to his teachers at school, especially his engineering teacher.  But at least one teacher was unimpressed with his invention, and claiming that she thought it was a bomb, she confiscated it and reported him to the school’s principal. Local law enforcement was called and Mohamed was questioned by police for an hour and a half.

“They were like, ‘So you tried to make a bomb?’”

“I told them no, I was trying to make a clock.”

“He said, ‘It looks like a movie bomb to me.’”

ahmed-handcuffsAhmed was led out of the school at 3 p.m., his hands cuffed behind him. He was sent to a juvenile detention center where he was fingerprinted, required to take a mug shot, and further questioned before being released to his parents. The principal suspended him for three days. Two days later, Police Chief Larry Body said Ahmed would not be charged. “We have no evidence to support that there was an intention to create alarm or cause people to be concerned,” he said.

This, folks, is what happens when we let fear whip us into a feeding frenzy.  We forget our humanity and judge people by race, skin colour, religion, or national origin.  We put the lives of innocent people in danger because we have listened to those who said we must “be afraid … be very afraid” of people who are different in one way or another.

Even though he was found to be innocent of any wrongdoing, Ahmed’s life changed that day.

ahmed-obama

Ahmed received much positive support, including being invited to the White House by President Obama, and invitations to Google’s science fair, and the headquarters of the United Nations in New York City, among others.  But he also received negative feedback, including becoming the target of conspiracy theorists.  Some conservative commentators sought to cast suspicion on the Mohamed family and Muslim groups that supported Ahmed after his detainment, positing that Mohamed planned to provoke his arrest to embarrass police and speculating the incident was a plot orchestrated by Islamist activists.

A segment that aired on The Blaze last September featuring host Glenn Beck discussing the teen’s arrest with guests Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne and Jim Hanson, the executive vice president of the Center for Security Policy. Beck and Hanson theorized that Islamist extremists or the Mohamed family may have directed the teen to bring the clock to school as a stunt.

In October 2015, the family made the decision to move back to Qatar, where they lived until last month when they returned to the U.S. for the summer to visit friends and relatives.  They plan to return to Qatar at the end of summer. “For the safety of my family, I have to go back to Qatar, because right now it’s not very safe for my family or for anyone who’s a minority,” Ahmed said at a news conference in Texas in August. “I can’t walk out of the house without being covered up because I might get shot, because that happens here.”  Since their return to the U.S. last month, here is a sampling of some of the messages Ahmed has received on Twitter:

  • “should have never let those terrorists back in the US”
  • “That Little Bastard Needs to Leave American Soil.”
  • “Go back!”
  • There’s one with a picture of a plastic bag. “Since you left there’s a new invention for breathing under water put this on your head & jump in”

Sometimes I am so ashamed of my fellow mankind.

Today, The Guardian reports that Ahmed’s father has filed a defamation lawsuit against eight conservative media figures and organizations, including Glenn Beck, media network, the Blaze; Fox Television Stations; and Beth Van Duyne, mayor of Irving.

The suit seeks damages if retractions and corrections are not forthcoming. It claims: “The public has been misled into believing that the Mohameds are terrorists who plotted to have the Irving police wrongfully arrest a teenage boy for bringing an alarm clock to school. These broadcasts irresponsibly fan the flames of fear and anger towards Muslims and immigrants. Each of these Defendants should be required to retract their falsehoods and broadcast the truth”.

I will not comment on the lawsuit, other than to say that I agree their statements and accusations were unfair and should be retracted … should never have been uttered … and that young Ahmed should receive an apology … a public apology.  But I will address the mentality that brought us to this point, the Islamophobia.  This is what comes from politicians and others shouting from the rooftops that all Muslims are bad (they are not), that Islam is a violent religion full of hate (it is not), and that we must ban all Muslims from our country, deport those already here, and always “be afraid … be very afraid”.  This is what comes from millions of people jumping on that bandwagon and blindly supporting those fear-mongering politicians.  This is what happens … a 14-year-old boy is hurt, an obviously intelligent, inquisitive boy who dreams of a future: “I just want to invent. I want to help the world a lot, and it would be amazing to see my creations in action.” Think about it.

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Idiot of the Week #1 – Katrina Pierson

 

Idiot of the Week medalNow, I think we have all (well, mostly all) agreed that presidential candidate Donald Trump does not speak well.  I think we have agreed that there is no filter between what he thinks and what he says.  Even most articulate candidates, which would include relatively speaking, almost all other candidates, understand the importance of getting one’s message across without making costly blunders and gaffes.  Thus, politicians running for office almost always have spokespersons, people who help clean up the messes they may have inadvertently created, who do media interviews to help promote and clarify the ideas of the candidate.  That said, one can only ask the question:  why in the Sam Heck did Trump select an idiot like Katrina Pierson to be his National Spokesperson???? (As always, my snarky remarks are recognizable)

pierson-2

Can we say “Botox”?

Allow me to introduce Ms. Katrina Pierson.  Born in Kansas, but now a Texan, she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Texas in Dallas in 2006.  At age 20, she was arrested for shoplifting $168 of clothing from a J.C. Penney store, to which she pleaded ‘no contest’. She voted for Barack Obama in 2008 because she “thought it was pretty awesome … that Barack Obama was a black guy running for that office.” But then she changed her allegiance to the Republican Party, saying “Everything that he [Obama] stood for was in complete opposition to what I felt.” Her two chief complaints about President Obama seemed to be that he did not always wear an American flag lapel pin, and the “whole socialized medicine thing.”  Very serious issues, indeed, Madam Pierson.

 

mccain

McCain is welcomed home by President Richard M. Nixon

At first she was not enamored of the Republican Party because she did not like John McCain (perhaps because he was captured in Vietnam?), but she says she did “kind of like Sarah Palin, who seemed ‘more normal’”Already you see why she is being named this week’s “Idiot of the Week”, yes?  She has said that when she went to her first Tea Party meeting, she felt like she found ‘her people.’ She especially liked their stance against government spending on social programs.  Is it an oxymoron, then, that she received government benefits while working on Ted Cruz’ campaign in 2012?

 

In 2014, she somehow got the notion in her head that she should run against incumbent Pete Sessions for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.  (Please excuse me for a moment while I go get some aspirin for the headache brought on by the thought of a Palin-admirer in the House!)  Ted Cruz was lukewarm in his support of Pierson, however his father, right-wing evangelical preacher Rafael Cruz, enthusiastically backed her.  Needless to say, she lost the primary and took a job as spokesperson for the Tea Party Leadership Fund, which has a somewhat questionable reputation.  According to Matt Mackowiak, a Republican consultant from Texas, “We all have to pay the bills, but for Katrina, there is no principle that she isn’t willing to abandon for the right price.”

circus train.jpgThen along came the Donald Trump Circus Train, and just like any kid, when she saw the circus come to town, she dreamed of joining.  And from this point, I will let Ms. Pierson tell you a bit of her story in her own words:“Islam preys on the weak and uses political correctness as cover. Two things that Americans won’t be concerned with when @realDonaldTrump is in the White House.”

  • “What good does it do to have a good nuclear triad if you’re afraid to use it?” (Please excuse me again while I go for more aspirin, and perhaps some Tums)
  • “When Donald says, ‘I think you’re great, I really want you to work for me,’ I don’t think any sane person would say no to that.” (Apparently I am not sane.  Oh well.)
  • “Cruz would be a good president, but I think right now with all the hyper-partisanship in the country, I think Trump would be the better person to transition out of Obama.”
  • “So what? They’re Muslim!” Upon debating the constitutionality of Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims.

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  • “Maybe I’ll wear a fetus next time & bring awareness to 50 million aborted people that will never get to be on Twitter.” This after being criticized for wearing a necklace made from shotgun shell casings. (Am I the only one who thinks this is beyond even inappropriate?)
  • “Perfect Obama’s dad born in Africa, Mitt Romney’s dad born in Mexico. Any pure breeds left?”
  • “A lot of times, you have to use restructures to preserve jobs. Mr. Trump believes in putting your oxygen mask on first before helping others.” This in defense of Trump’s multiple bankruptcies.
  • “Gay is not normal, accept that.”

 

Which brings us to this week.  As I mentioned in an  earlier post, Mike Pence, in an attempt to clean up the mess made by Mr. Trump last week when he mocked and insulted Khizr and Ghazala Khan, claimed that President Obama and his policies were the cause of the death of the Khan’s son … in Iraq … in 2004 … fully four years before President Obama was elected.  Okay, bad enough, but easily fixed with a retraction and an apology, right?  Wrong.  Enter Trump’s illustrious National Spokesperson, Katrina Pierson.

On Tuesday, Pierson upheld Pence’s statement: “Donald Trump never voted for the Iraq War; Hillary Clinton did,” Pierson argued. “It was under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that changed the rules of engagement that probably cost [Khan’s] life.”  Despite the facts above that make it quite clear that President Obama had nothing to do with Khan’s death, Pierson persisted on Wednesday in an interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota and John Berman:

Camerota: “Do you want to apologize to [Humayun Khan’s father, Khizr Khan]?”

Pierson: “Apologize for the timeline. The timeline is very simple and true. Hillary Clinton voted for the war in Iraq. She did not support the surge [after Khan’s death]. Barack Obama made things worse by invading more countries.” 

Camerota: “But this was in 2004 when George W. Bush was president.”

Berman: “You do acknowledge now that there you were just wrong,”

Pierson: “Absolutely. That’s why I used ‘probably’ because I was just going through the timeline. Because since then we have had tens of thousands of soldiers that have been lost. Trump had absolutely nothing to do with it.” *

Camerota: “But no one was blaming Donald Trump for Capt. Khan’s death. You were blaming President Obama. He wasn’t president yet.”

Pierson: “Donald Trump did not vote for that war, period! That’s why this is a ridiculous conversation. Donald Trump had nothing to do with sending troops into Iraq in the first place.”

Pierson: “This father [Khan] apparently has been a strong proponent of Sharia law.”

Camerota: “Katrina, he doesn’t stand for it, he never has stood for it. He carries around the U.S. Constitution. He abides by the Constitution.”

Pierson: “That’s what he said.  I’m just telling you the report and the document that he wrote were put out there for all to see.”

At that point, an audible sigh came from Camerota as the segment ended to cover breaking news about an airplane crash-landing in Dubai.

And so, without further ado, I would be remiss if I did not award the Idiot of the Week award to Ms. Katrina Pierson!  {clap, clap, clap}  I was about halfway through the reading and researching for this article when it came to me that, in addition to being fully qualified for Idiot of the Week, she is also qualified for a second Filosofa’s award:  America’s #3 Bimbo!  Trump sure knows how to pick ‘em, doesn’t he folks?

* Notes:  The death toll from the Iraq war numbers approximately 4,491, significantly less than ‘tens of thousands’; Trump did, initially, support invading Iraq.

Run, Forrest, Run ….

The GOP belittles those of us who renew our plea for stricter gun regulation after every mass murder, but we have actually been making that plea for a very long time, and not just after a mass murder, but on a daily basis, every day, because every day an average 27 people die of senseless gun violence.  The GOP, however, never cease to amaze with their vast array of wildly rabid responses to disasters and tragic situations of every type.  Here were a few of the GOP responses to the massacre in Orlando last week:

  • Presidential candidate Donald Trump: We have to start looking at profiling

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“I think profiling is something we’re going to have to start thinking about as a country. Other countries do it. You look at Israel and you look at others, and they do it and they do it successfully.  We have to use, you know, we have to use our heads. … We really have to look at profiling. We have to look at it seriously.  I think, right now, we have some pretty big problems, and they’re problems coming out of radical Islamic groups. You know, radical Islamic groups. You have a very, very strong group of people that is radical Islamic and that seems to be a problem.”

(It would be such a relief if this man learned to speak proper English and in complete sentences!)

  • House Homeland Security Chairman, Representative Michael McCaul: FBI should monitor Facebook for possible terrorists

McCaulOmar Mateen, the killer of 49 people in Orlando last weekend, allegedly used multiple Facebook accounts to write posts and make searches about Daesh.  In his posts,  Mateen called on the United States and Russia to stop the bombing campaign against Daesh.  He also frequently used Facebook to search for information on law enforcement agencies and terrorist groups.  This, Chairman McCaul believes, justifies monitoring social media.  He said it’s possible the FBI could develop an algorithm to find suspicious Facebook posts and that users “have no expectation of privacy” on the site.

  • Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions: Of course the threat is radical Islam

SessionsSessions said the threat of radical Islam is “out there, it’s growing and … it looks like it will continue to grow.”  He said President Obama doesn’t understand the threat the country faces from Daesh and defended Trump’s earlier comments criticizing the president and even intimating that he believed President Obama had ties to Daesh.

 

See the problem with any of these broadly ambiguous ‘solutions’?

Let’s start with the first one, Trump’s claim that we need to use profiling.  He doesn’t specify whether he means racial profiling or religious profiling, but there is a problem with both.  Religious profiling is unconstitutional, thus illegal and would require an unlikely act of Congress to change the law, basically altering the 1st Amendment, to allow it.  Racial profiling, checking out and monitoring people of Middle-Eastern heritage, would be unwieldy, impractical, and would do very little to prevent a terrorist attack, since many people of Middle-Eastern descent are American citizens, 99.9% have no ties to terrorism,  and not all terrorists, as we have seen in recent years, are of Middle-Eastern descent.  This process would be extremely costly and net few, if any, results, plus would have the added disadvantage of leaving behind disgruntled, innocent citizens who were unjustly profiled.  Scratch that one.

McCaul’s call for monitoring Facebook is equally impractical, though I see somewhat more merit in the idea.  First problem here is that Facebook is not the only social media venue that would need to be monitored.  There are Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, to name only a few, with more likely to pop up in the coming years.  Again, we come back to the cost-benefit question.  Also, there is not only a possibility, but a near certainty that mistakes will be made and 12-year-old kids will find the FBI knocking at their door because of something they posted about some game they were playing.  McCaul said that Facebook users have no expectation of privacy.  Well, that is arguable, as many of my friends, though I have told them time and time again that there is no privacy in electronic communications, whether e-mail, cell phone, text messaging or Facebook, still believe they have a guaranteed ‘right to privacy’ for their photos and communications.  So, while they would have no legal ground upon which to stand, watch how many of them scream, rant and rail once they figure out that Uncle is monitoring their posts.  I suspect that the end result would be a series of lawsuits, costing We The People much for little or no benefit.

I have previously addressed the whole issue of referring to terrorism acts as ‘radical Islamic’.  Islam is a religion, and not everyone who ascribes to the religion are terrorists any more than anyone who ascribes to Christianity are members of the Westboro Church.  Need I repeat that?  So, what happens when we call everyone who commits or is suspected of committing an act of terrorism  a ‘radical Islamist’?  And what happens when, as Sessions, Trump, and so many others call for the word ‘terrorism’ to be replaced with the phrase ‘radical Islamic terrorism’?  We have just condemned every Muslim in the world, 1.6 billion people, 23% of the entire world’s population, to hatred and harassment by people who do not understand the distinction.  What in the Sam Heck is to be gained by that?  I will tell you what … we will make enemies across the globe!

So if all three of these non-solutions are not only impractical, unworkable, costly and likely doomed before they hit paper, how and why did these men even mention them? Now, at least 2 of these 3 ‘gentlemen’ are not stupid men.  They are college-educated,  and have worked their way through the ranks of government.

McCaul earned his Juris Doctor from St. Mary’s University in 1987. He also attended Harvard University, taking courses in the Kennedy School of Government. He has worked as an attorney and federal prosecutor, worked within the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section, and served as Deputy Attorney General in Texas.  He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004.  He was involved in a conflict in 2011 when he and two fellow congressmen tried to force Christian funerals on all military personnel killed in action, regardless of the deceased’s religion or the consent of the families, but that appears to be the only major ‘black mark’ on his record.

Jeff Sessions earned his Juris Doctor in 1973 from the Alabama School of Law. He has practiced private law, served as the Assistant District Attorney and  was nominated by President Reagan to the U.S. District Court but failed the nomination hearing.  He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996.

Why am I boring you with all this detail?  To support my point that these are not stupid men.  One does not get where they are today without being educated and intelligent.  Yet they are spouting rhetoric that is not only stupid, but dangerous.  The biggest danger, since none of the proposed ‘solutions’ have any relevance, is that these words will only spread the flames of hatred, bigotry and fear that the other man, Donald Trump, put a match to a year ago.  It is the responsibility of our lawmakers to reduce the fear, to speak directly to the people and tell them that there is no reason for hatred and it will not be tolerated.  Instead, these two otherwise intelligent men are pouring gasoline on the fire and we will all pay the price. Have they been given to believe they have more power than they actually have?  Are they, like Trump, truly narcissists? Although McCaul is up for re-election this November, Sessions term will not expire for another four years thereafter.  Sadly we are stuck with him, but his constituents need to let him know that they will not tolerate this tone of rhetoric.  Oh wait, did I fail to mention that both McCaul and Sessions are from southern states?  My, isn’t that a co-incidence?

Two Schools of Thought

There are two distinctly different schools of thought about whether Trump’s status as ‘presumptive nominee’ helps or hurts Hillary Clinton.  Strangely, both of these thoughts have merit and I am as yet undecided which will prevail.

On the side of his presumptive nomination being a deal-breaker in favor of Hillary, Trump is despised by most all democrats and a large portion of republicans alike.  He is the least qualified, least experienced party-affiliated candidate I can remember ever making it this far in the election process.  He has alienated entire groups of people: African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, women, immigrants, disabled people, academicians and scholars.  Clinton, on the other hand, is well qualified, has experience not only in domestic policy-making but also in foreign policy.  She supports civil rights and equality for all, she supports important topics like raising minimum wage, environmental protection and education.  It is rather like weighing the merits of eating a sugary donut vs. an apple, with Trump as the donut (though there is nothing actually sweet about him) and Clinton, the apple.

Thus one would think … but therein lies the problem.  One would think Trump wouldn’t stand a chance against an experienced, qualified candidate of the other party.  But, if we think back over the past ten months, we didn’t think he would get this far.  We didn’t think people would ever take the man seriously, and I am not sure they actually do take him seriously, but they vote for him anyway.  Why do they vote for someone who they know is not qualified to govern this nation?  They do so because of one thing and one thing only:  he tells them what they want to hear.  And willingly they believe because they want to believe, need to believe.  He first creates the need, the want, and then he tells them that he is the answer to those needs and wants.

Trump plays on the fears of terrorism, puts forth the fallacy that Muslims, Middle-Eastern immigrants, are responsible for terrorism and that there are so many of them in this country that we are in constant danger.  He stirs that pot relentlessly, and then, when the Islamophobia reaches a peak, he provides the “answer”.  He says he and he alone can fix the problem by deporting all Muslims, all immigrants of Middle-Eastern extraction.  Not only that, but he will “bomb the shit out of” Daesh and kill the family members, including children, of any and all suspected terrorists.  See how he first created a fear (terrorism), then a need (safety from terrorists), and then a solution (extinction).  This is but one example of his marketing blitz.

Trump is a businessman, and there is little difference between his tactics of creating a need, then fulfilling the need, and the tactics that businesses use called ‘advertising’.  He is marketing himself in much the same way that Mattel markets Barbie dolls and other toys.  They advertise them on Saturday mornings when your little kids are glued to television cartoons, then your kids are convinced they need as certain toy.  Never mind that the toy will not fulfill any real need and thus will be forgotten within a few short months, or even hours, and never mind the money you wasted.  The toy company got what they wanted and they really do not care if your child actually plays with the toy or not.  Just as Trump creates a need then promises a solution, a solution that he cannot possibly fulfill.  But people believe because they want to.  They need to.

All of which explains the second school of thought, which is that, while many democrats are thinking that Trump just handed the presidency to Clinton, it may not actually be so.  Certainly when one steps away from Trump’s rhetoric and realizes that he cannot come through with virtually any of his promises, then Clinton looks like the better option.  But … those who so desperately want and need to believe that there is an easy solution to the problems, real or imagined, of the nation, they believe Trump’s promises because they need to.  That is why we cannot simply assume that Trump cannot beat Clinton.  Trump has brought people away from logical thinking and plays, instead, on emotions.

What does it take to shed light on the fallacies that Trump is filling the airwaves with?  Almost all of his rhetoric has been proven to be lies, yet people do not seem to care.  What does it take to bring back humanitarian values that Trump has shredded?  So I ask again, what would it take to shock Trump’s blinded followers enough that they would see the reality that is Donald Trump?  In January, Trump made the statement that “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” In January I scoffed at such a statement, but now I suspect he may have been right.  This is a sad statement, not so much about Donald Trump, but about the state of mind of many of the citizens of our nation. Trump cannot win on merit, but he may well win on bluster.

Trump cannot possibly follow through on 90% of his promises if he is elected. The foundation upon which our entire government rests will not permit it.  I suspect that most voters, in some part of their minds, know this.  They just do not care anymore.  They just want somebody to tell them it will all be okay, someone they can hand their troubles to and go to bed feeling secure.  Never mind that it is a false sense of security.  Is there a simple solution, a simple way to put Trump back in his box?  I doubt that there is a panacea, but the ultimate solution must be comprised of educating the voters, which is 80% the role of the media, who have frankly been doing a lousy job of it.  It must also require that Clinton do a better job of marketing her policy beliefs, playing up her strong points and addressing those that are concerning in a forthright and honest manner.  And last, but not least, it requires We The People to stop being lemmings and start thinking … thinking of what a Trump presidency would really mean, thinking of truth vs. falsehoods, and start questioning what the candidates are saying, start thinking with logic instead of sheer emotion.  We need to think on a global, not an individual basis.  For it is not about just one person.  Perhaps John F. Kennedy said it best in his famous quote, and one of my personal favourites: “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Fly The Friendly Skies????

planeI envision this sometimes:  I sit down at my laptop, check messages, log onto the New York Times and find …. Stories about people caring for each other, people helping their fellow humans, people promoting love, not hate.  I envision opening my Word document and starting to write about humanity, rather than the lack of it, about people being kind.  But today is not that day.  Today is the day that the very first story I read was about a young man  being removed from a flight simply for speaking Arabic to his uncle on the telephone.  Today is just another day for me, another day where my blood reaches the BBB – boiling before breakfast – point.

Imagine how you would feel if you traveled to, say France, and upon boarding the plane you phoned your husband/wife back home in the states to let her know you were on your way home.  After ending the call, you are asked to step off the plane where you are confronted by police officers demanding to know why you were speaking English.  The police did not like your answer, so they call the Département de la Sûreté/SécuritéTerritoriale (DST – the French equivalent of the FBI).  Meanwhile, your flight has left without you. The DST bring in dogs to sniff you, your head is pressed against a wall and your hands restrained behind your back.  You are then taken into a small room and questioned, asked to tell them everything you know about the KKK.  You are questioned about your family ties in the U.S., about which political party your family supports, what religion you and your family follow.  Think about that one for just a minute.

The young man was Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, who had been attending an event in Los Angeles along with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.  He is a senior at UC Berkeley who is double-majoring in political science and Near Eastern studies. Obviously an intelligent young man. Mr. Makhzoomi’s father, a former Iraqi diplomat, was executed in 2001 under Saddam Hussein’s rule.  His remaining family, mother and brother, now reside in Berkeley, California.  The airline was Southwest Airlines.  They issued an official statement about the incident, stating “We regret any less than positive experience a customer has on Southwest.”  I am certain that made Mr. Makhzoomi feel much better.

If this were an isolated incident, it would be bad enough.  But alas, the very same week, an unnamed Muslim woman from Maryland was removed from yet another Southwest Airlines flight, apparently for no other reason than that she was wearing a hijab.  Last month, an Arab-American family was removed from a United Airlines flight, again for no discernible reason.

It is called Islamophobia and it is a disease that threatens to disrupt the lives of every man, woman and child of Middle Eastern descent.  It is vicious, cruel and evil, and it is apparently incurable, affecting a large portion of the population in the U.S.  There have been so many cases of Middle Easterners being removed from flights that there is an expression for it:  Flying While Muslim.  It is similar to the expression “Driving While Black”, which was coined as a result of blatant racial profiling of African-Americans by police.

Obviously, I have a fatal flaw, a mental deficiency that does not allow me to understand hatred toward any specific group of people.  I believe this flaw is a genetic condition, as neither of my parents understood it either.  It is impossible to look at a person and discern whether that person has a kind heart or not.  It is impossible to look at a person, or listen to their language and know whether that person will do you harm or not.  Within months after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, the U.S. government began rounding up people of Japanese descent, most (62%) were U.S. citizens.  They were robbed of their property and sent to internment camps for the duration of WWII. Is this where we are heading once again?  Some in this nation believe that Islam is evil, that all Muslims have evil in their hearts and that people of Middle Eastern descent have no right to be in this country.  Those people are wrong.  Just like people who believe African-Americans are somehow inferior.  They are also wrong.

I do not pretend to know the cure, or even the treatment for the disease of Islamophobia, but the one thing I do know is that we must work as diligently toward finding the cure as we do toward finding cures for AIDS, Ebola, Zika, and cancer.  Indeed, Islamophobia is a form of cancer.  Just as lung cancer eats away at the lungs, Islamophobia eats away at the heart, the mind.  There is no reason to hate or harm any person, any human, based on their nationality, skin colour or religion.  There simply is no reason.  In my lifetime I have known more cruel Caucasians than Middle Easterners, Asians, Hispanics and African-Americans combined.  It is well past time for us to work together to cure this disease.