Religious Freedom Or Persecution?

Religious freedom … now there’s a term that has almost unlimited definitions.  My own, and one that I believe is in synch with that of the Founding Fathers back in 1787, is that each person has the freedom to believe in and practice his/her religion without interference from the government.  But today, there are those who define it as having the freedom to declare that their beliefs are the only correct ones and that every person should be forced to follow their religion and believe as they do.  Well, that ain’t how it works, and if you study history, you will see that this line of thinking has led to many of the wars that have been fought throughout past centuries. 

The United States is a secular nation.  This means that government and laws are not based on any religion and do not favour any one religion over others.  Many today seem to want to call this a “Christian nation”, but that is so wrong it makes my teeth hurt.  This is not a Christian nation, for we have a most diverse population that includes Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Jains, atheists, agnostics, and more.  Each person, regardless of religious beliefs, has the exact same rights and responsibilities under the U.S. Constitution.

Religious freedom means the right to practice and believe any or no religion.  It does NOT mean one religion has the right to impose their views on others.  Period.  Every religion on earth has its biases, and in the U.S. those biases have led to discrimination against others such as the LGBT community and women.  Today, there is a bill working its way through Congress called the Do No Harm Act.  Our friend Nan has written an excellent post about this bill, so rather than re-invent the wheel, I will let her tell you about it … thank you, Nan!

Nan’s Notebook: Religious Freedom

This bill, if passed, would not take away anyone’s rights to observe their religion as they wish, but rather it would restore the civil rights of all, would make it illegal to discriminate based on religious beliefs.  It’s really so simple.

It’s Time To Burn Bigotry

Just a short update before I delve into my main topic this morning …


Bye-bye DeJoy

In his testimony before Congress yesterday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy arrogantly said that he plans to stay in his current position, despite opposition, “… for a long time.  Get used to me.”  Well, we’ll just see about that, because on the same day that he so cockily said that, President Biden nominated three people to the USPS Board of Governors.  Those three – Ron Stroman, Anton Hajjar and Amber McReynolds – once confirmed by the Senate, would create a Democratic majority on the Board and DeJoy could easily be fired from his position.  Fingers crossed on that one, for while I don’t like to see anyone fired, this arrogant man has all but destroyed the U.S. Postal Service and has unabashedly spoken of his intent to further slow the mail and raise prices.  I shall dance on the day he is told to pack his bags!


Equality Act

The Equality Act has passed its first hurdle … it passed in the House yesterday with a vote of 224-206 and even three Republicans voted for it.  What is the Equality Act?  It is an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act to provide protections for LGBTQ individuals.  The bill would ban discrimination in various areas, including the workplace, housing and education, in addition to federally funded programs. The legislation also would expand the 1964 bill to cover public accommodations to include places like shopping malls, sports arenas, and even websites.  Pretty simple, right?  People should not be punished for being LGBT.  Period.  They are human beings just like me, just like you, and they deserve the same legal protections.

The Republicans in general, however, don’t quite see it that way.  With the exception of the three who crossed the aisle to vote for the bill, they are dead set against it.  Why?  Truth is because they are bigots, homophobes who would disown their own child if he/she told them he/she was gay.  They believe that the only people who deserve the best life has to offer are white, straight, Christian males.  But they have a remarkable excuse for their homophobia … they claim it takes away people’s religious freedom.  Yeah, really … go figure.

One portion of the Republican argument, as well as religious leaders’, is that the bill doesn’t limit “public accommodations” to exclude churches.  Religious leaders want to be able to forbid LGBT people in their churches.  Well, guess what, Mr. Bigot … I doubt any LGBT person would want to enter your “house of worship.”  Keep it filled with racists and homophobes …

Another part of the argument against the bill claims that giving equal rights to the LGBT community would “alter the country’s social fabric by blurring gender lines in women’s sports and other cultural practices.”  Bullshit!  I’ve never heard such a crappy excuse in my life!  Our society, our lives, and our culture are enhanced by the diversity, and any who cannot see that are culturally and socially blind.

The infamous Marjorie Taylor Greene crossed a line when she hung an anti-transgender sign outside her office, claiming “there are TWO genders: MALE & FEMALE”.  Bad enough to say under any circumstances, but what made it even worse is that the office across the hall from hers is that of Representative Marie Newman, whose daughter is transgender.  Ms. Greene, as I have said on multiple occasions, does NOT belong in Congress.

One comment I saw to this story stirred my ire …

“This pieces [sic] of legislation is just another way for “the establishment” to keep us divided as a nation. All people are created equal, I certainly don’t need the DC establishment to pass legislation for me to understand this Fact.”

Seriously, buddy?  Don’t you think that if Blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, and LGBT were all treated equally, we wouldn’t even have needed the Civil Rights Act?  Don’t you think that if everyone treated everyone equally, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation?  What keeps us divided is not that the government is trying to protect people from discrimination, but rather that there are bigots out there who would lynch a Black man, who would kill a transgender person on sight.  There are landlords who would refuse to rent housing to them, employers who would refuse them a job, and even businesses … oh, say like a bakery that specializes in wedding cakes … that would refuse them service!  Sadly, the bigots have to be forced to do the right thing and treat people right!  And they call themselves “Christians”.  Ask me again why I consider religion the source of most of what’s wrong in the world!

Next stop for the Equality Act is the Senate.  This same bill was passed by the House in 2019, but when it got to the Senate, Mitch McConnell refused to even bring it to the Senate floor, so there it died.  I think it will be different this time, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised that the legislation will get a floor vote “at exactly the right time.” But … it will need 10 Senate Republican votes in order to beat back a GOP filibuster.  Are there 10 Republicans in the Senate with any form of a conscience?  Apparently not, given the outcome of the impeachment trial.  DAMN the filibuster!  I have a brilliant idea … remember how many were calling to ‘defund the police’ last summer?  Let’s start a movement to ‘defund republicans in Congress’ until they start acting like adults!

I will be composing a letter to the republican senator for my own state in the next day or two … not that it will matter or change his mind, but … I have to try.

Two Thumbs Up For Supreme Court Today!

Score one … no wait, score two … for justice today!  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on two separate cases this morning that I’ve been watching.


The first is the case brought by District Attorney Cyrus Vance of New York, seeking access to eight years of Donald Trump’s financial and tax records.  This case has been tied up in the courts for years now, often hindered by U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, who served as Trump’s lapdog and protector.  But today, the Court denied the motion by Trump’s attorneys to keep his tax records hidden in a one-sentence order with no recorded dissents.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Music to the ears!  What this means is there are no further appeals and the accounting firm Mazar’s will turn over the subpoenaed tax records to Cyrus Vance’s office within a matter of days.  Last year, the New York Times obtained more than two decades of tax return data of Trump and his companies and published a series of articles about them.  Trump, the articles said, sustained significant losses, owes enormous debts that he is personally obligated to repay, has avoided paying federal income taxes in 11 of the 18 years the Times examined and paid just $750 in both 2016 and 2017.

The scope of Mr. Vance’s inquiry is not known. It arose partly from an investigation by his office into hush-money payments to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump, relationships the president has denied. But court filings by prosecutors suggested that they are also investigating potential crimes like tax and insurance fraud.

Vance responded to the court decision with a three-word tweet: “The work continues.”


The second Supreme Court ruling that gets a thumbs-up is in what should be the next-to-last case challenging the 2020 election results.  This one sought to throw out a portion of the postal votes in the state of Pennsylvania, based on the fact that some were received and accepted in the three-day period after election day.  Never mind that this was Trump’s own fault, for placing Louis DeJoy in the position of Postmaster General with the sole goal of slowing the mail to a snail’s pace so that postal votes would be delayed.  The Court basically told Trump to sit down and shut up, and even Justices Alito, Gorsuch and Thomas acknowledged that the number of ballots received after Election Day would not have been enough to threaten President Biden’s victory margin over Trump.

The next and final case challenging election results will be heard on March 5th, challenging the use of ballot drop boxes in the state of Wisconsin.  I have no idea why these cases have not been dropped, for all claims of widespread voter fraud have been disproven time and time again over the past four months, and there is no case that would have changed the outcome of the election.  It’s a complete waste of both time and money when the Court has more important things to concern itself with.


And in upcoming legislation …

You may remember the Equality Act, a bill that would significantly expand LGBTQ protections.  The bill was passed by the House in 2019, but languished in the Senate where then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to even bring the bill to the floor.  Last week, Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island re-introduced the bill, which is expected to pass in the House, but may face an uphill battle in the Senate.

The bill, if passed and signed into law, would expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act to include LGBTQ Americans, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for housing, education, employment and in other areas.  A no-brainer, right?  But … well, the congressional republicans claim it will interfere with religious freedom!

None other than Marjorie Taylor Greene, a freshman representative who has already stirred up trouble more than a few times since taking her oath of office last month, opposes the bill calling it “an attack on people of faith.”  BULLSHIT!  If “people of faith” are so bigoted that they would deny equal rights to people in the LGBT community, then I suggest they re-evaluate their ‘faith’.  Greene tweeted earlier today …

“Just to make myself clear, I WILL BE VOTING NO TO THE DISGUSTING, IMMORAL, AND EVIL #EqualityAct!!! It has nothing to do with stopping discrimination against the LGBT community, that could be done easily without this. It has everything to do with attacking God & believers.”

My own representative, Warren Davidson, made the same claim on Twitter just this morning.  Are all republicans homophobes, then?  Are they all bigots?  Perhaps they should have a big “B” tattooed on their foreheads, ala The Scarlet Letter.

If the Senate refuses to pass this one (it will require a 60-vote majority to avoid a filibuster), then I suggest that every single senator who votes against it be shown just what discrimination feels like.  Let them be denied service next time they go to a restaurant.  Let them be shunned in public.  Cross to the other side of the street to avoid them.  Give them just a taste of what it’s like to be discriminated against.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

It should be noted that members of Congress represent ALL the people in their district/state, not only straight, white, Christian males!

All Eyes Are On Georgia — Part I

There are 26 days left until the two Georgia runoff elections to determine who will occupy Georgia’s seats in the U.S. Senate.  Ordinarily, those of us who don’t live in Georgia wouldn’t likely give more than a passing glance to these elections or the candidates, but with the demographics of the senate hanging in the balance, all eyes are on Georgia.  These two elections will play a huge roll in President-elect Biden’s ability to get his cabinet nominees confirmed, for starters, and down the road will be a determining factor in just how much of his legislation will be passed by Congress.  It will also determine whether the iron-fisted Mitch McConnell will continue to lead the Senate in his obstructionist manner.

So, let’s talk a little bit about the Senate candidates from Georgia, shall we?  This will likely be a two-part post, for I want to cover a bit about each of the four candidates … Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock on the Democratic ticket, and David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler on the Republican side.  Let’s start with the race between Raphael Warnock and Kelly Loeffler.


warnockRaphael Warnock has been the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta since 2005, following in the footsteps of his childhood hero, Dr. Martin Luther King. Warnock came to prominence in Georgia politics as a leader in the campaign to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.  Ordinarily, I would not favour a religious leader running for a seat in Congress, but everything I’ve heard and read about Warnock tells me that he would take seriously his oath to defend the Constitution and would always act with the interest of We the People in mind.

I often complain that our members of Congress were mainly born with a silver spoon in their mouth and cannot possibly understand the plight of the average people or the poor in this nation.  The same cannot be said of Raphael Warnock who grew up in public housing as the eleventh of twelve children.  He knows what it’s like to struggle to pay the bills and put food on the table.

In March 2014, Warnock led a sit-in at the Georgia State Capitol to press state legislators to accept the expansion of Medicaid offered by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He and other leaders were arrested during the protest.  Kind of reminds me a bit of the late John Lewis and Elijah Cummings, both Civil Rights activists.


LoefflerKelly Loeffler currently holds the Senate seat for which she and Warnock are vying, but she was never elected to that seat.  Rather, she was appointed a year ago by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp after Senator Johnny Isakson stepped down due to health issues.  Far more is known about Loeffler than Warnock, none of it particularly impressive in my book.

Loeffler is, and has always been, a businesswoman, not a politician.  Which in and of itself would not disqualify her, but her bigotry and shady dealings should.

She was previously chief executive officer (CEO) of Bakkt, a subsidiary of commodity and financial service provider Intercontinental Exchange owned by her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher. She co-owns the Atlanta Dream of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).

Loeffler has strongly aligned herself to Donald Trump and frequently bragged about her “100 percent Trump voting record” during the campaign.  She and other senators, including the other republican in this runoff election, David Perdue,  took advantage of non-public information to sell stocks earlier this year before the pandemic caused the market to decline … insider trading.  On January 24, 2020, the Senate Committees on Health and Foreign Relations held a closed meeting with only Senators present to brief them about the COVID-19 outbreak and how it would affect the United States (would have been nice if they had briefed We the People, huh?). Following the meeting Senator Kelly Loeffler and her husband Jeffrey Sprecher, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, made twenty-seven transactions to sell stocks worth between $1,275,000 and $3,100,000 and two transactions to buy stock in Citrix Systems which saw an increase following the stock market decline.

When she was asked about the Donald Trump Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump discusses groping women, Loeffler replied that she was “not familiar with that”. When she was separately asked about a recording of Trump telling Bob Woodward that he was intentionally downplaying COVID-19 in public, she responded that it was “fake news”.  Never mind, I guess, that it was a taped conversation?

Loeffler supports ending the Affordable Care Act that provides health insurance to millions who would not otherwise be able to afford it, and she is staunchly anti-abortion and anti-LGBT rights.  In fact, she is so opposed to women’s and LGBT rights that in the past year, she has donated large portions of her Senate salary to anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ rights organizations.  Yes, you read that right.  Of course, she didn’t need the money, for with a net worth of $500 million, she is the richest member of Congress.

In October 2020, shortly after Donald and Melania Trump were diagnosed with the coronavirus after attending events where they closely interacted with other individuals while maskless, Loeffler, who often appeared at rallies and gatherings without wearing a mask, posted the following ignorant tweet:

“China gave this virus to our President @realDonaldTrump and First Lady @FLOTUS. WE MUST HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE.”

Never mind that as of today, nearly 300,000 people in the U.S. have died from the virus, and never mind that the Trumps were given treatments that none of the rest of us could possibly afford, and never mind that … oh never mind.  Kelly Loeffler is an ignorant, arrogant rich bitch.  Please, Georgians, DO NOT return her to Congress on January 5th!  She is the antithesis of what this nation stands for … or once stood for.

The latest polls show Warnock leading by 2-3 points … let’s hope it stays that way, or even that his lead strengthens … which could well happen, given that Trump is telling republicans not to bother to vote in the runoff elections, that they would be ‘rigged’ – one of his favourite words.  The election has been coloured with nasty, untrue ad campaigns by Loeffler, attacks against Warnock, and I’ll say no more on that, for I am sick and damn tired of hearing the republican lies and watching people fall for the conspiracy crap.  For my part, I will stick to facts.

I will write about Jon Ossof and David Perdue, probably tomorrow morning since this sort of post is better done late at night when I have some uninterrupted time to read and research.

Wise Words And A Question

ACBAlways a voice of reason, Nicholas Kristof has written yet another introspective and timely column in yesterday’s New York Times.  Whereas I tend to rant, Kristof is the calm voice of reason, yet even he admits that the United States may be on a backward-facing treadmill.  He concludes his column with an important question for us all.  I urge you to read what he says …


Will We Choose the Right Side of History?

In Amy Coney Barrett, Republicans are once again backing a Supreme Court nominee who could take us backward.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

Amy Coney Barrett has been following recent precedent in her confirmation hearing before the Senate, pretending that she has never had an interesting thought in her life.

Is it illegal to intimidate voters at the polls? She didn’t want to weigh in. A president postponing an election? Hmm. She’d have to think about that.

What about climate change? “I have read things about climate change,” she acknowledged, warily emphasizing that she is not a scientist. “I would not say I have firm views on it.”

If she had been asked about astronomy, she might have explained: “I have read things about the Earth being round. I would not say I have firm views on it.”

But for all the obfuscation, which nominees of Democratic presidents have engaged in as well, there is no hiding the essential truths that Barrett: A) is very bright; and B) would solidify a conservative Supreme Court majority whose judicial philosophy has been on the wrong side of many of the great issues of my lifetime.

We sometimes distinguish between “liberal judges” and “conservative judges.” Perhaps the divide instead is between forward-thinking judges and backward-thinking judges.

Partly because of paralysis by legislators, partly because of racist political systems, forward-thinking judges sometimes had to step up over the last 70 years to tug the United States ahead. Those judges chipped away at Jim Crow and overturned laws against interracial marriage, against contraception, and fought racial and sexual discrimination.

Just this week, Bernard Cohen, the lawyer who won the interracial marriage case in the Supreme Court in 1967, died — a reminder of how recent such progress is. In that case, Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and Black woman who married in Washington, D.C., had moved to Virginia, where the police barged into their home at 2 a.m. and arrested them in bed for violating an anti-miscegenation law. Forward-thinking justices struck down such laws — and that wasn’t about “activist judges” but about decency, humanity and the 14th Amendment.

It was as recent as 2003 that enlightened Supreme Court judges struck down state sodomy laws that could be used to prosecute same-sex lovers. Three backward-thinking justices, including Antonin Scalia, Barrett’s mentor, would have allowed Taliban-style prosecutions of gay people for intimacy in the bedroom. (Barrett refused in the hearing Wednesday to say whether the case was rightly decided.)

It is true, as some conservatives argue, that this path toward social progress would ideally have been blazed by legislators, not judges. But it is difficult for people who are denied voting rights to protect their voting rights, and judicial passivism in these cases would have buttressed discrimination, racism, sexism and bigotry.

That brings us to another historical area where conservatives, Barrett included, have also been on the wrong side of history — access to health care.

Over the last hundred years, advanced countries have, one by one, adopted universal health care systems, with one notable exception: the United States. That’s one reason next month’s election is such a milestone, for one political party in America is trying to join the rest of the civilized world and provide universal health care, and the other is doing its best to take away what we have.

The G.O.P. is succeeding. Census data show that even before the Covid-19 pandemic the number of uninsured Americans had risen by 2.3 million under Trump — and another 2.9 million have lost insurance since the pandemic hit. Most troubling of all, about one million children have lost insurance under Trump over all, according to a new Georgetown study.

I’m not trying to scare readers about Barrett joining a conservative majority to overturn the Affordable Care Act. My take is that Democrats are exaggerating that risk; the Republican argument in the case, to be heard next month, is such a legal stretch that it’s unlikely to succeed fully, even if Barrett is on the court.

But it is possible, and that would be such a cataclysm — perhaps 20 million Americans losing insurance during a pandemic — that it’s worth a shudder. It should also remind us of the importance of renewing the imperfect, on-again-off-again march of civilization in America, away from bigotry and toward empowerment of all citizens.

Barrett is not a horrible person; on the contrary, she seems to be a smart lawyer with an admirable personal story. Yet she’s working with a gang of Republican senators to steal a seat on the Supreme Court. This grand larceny may well succeed. But for voters, this hearing should underscore the larger battle over the direction of the country.

Voters can’t weigh in on the Barrett nomination, but they can correct this country’s course.

Here’s the fundamental question: Will voters reward the party that is working to provide more health care, or the party that has painstakingly robbed one million children of insurance? Will voters help tug the United States forward, or will they support the backward thinkers who have been on the side of discrimination, racism, bigotry and voter suppression?

At the polls, which side of history will you stand on?

Letter To Republican Senator

What follows is the letter I wrote this morning to the republican senator from my state, Senator Rob Portman.  Feel free to amend and use as a template to send to your own senator, if you feel so inclined.


21 September 2020

Dear Senator Portman …

I am writing to you today to ask that you withhold your vote on the confirmation of any candidate for the Supreme Court between now and January 20th.  I’m sure you have received many such letters, as well as some by those who hold the opposite view, but please hear me out.

First, in February of 2016, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, when President Barack Obama nominated a very moderate judge, Merrick Garland, to fill Scalia’s seat, you stated in part …

“I have concluded that the best thing for the country is to trust the American people to weigh in and to have the confirmation process take place in a less partisan atmosphere. Awaiting the result of a democratic election, rather than having a nomination fight in this contentious election-year environment, will give the nominee more legitimacy …”

To change your mind about that now, when the country is even more divided than it was in 2016, is the ultimate hypocrisy and I must question your motives.  I know that Mitch McConnell is an unconscionable sycophant of Donald Trump, as are many of your other colleagues, but I always thought you were better than that.

Throughout your nine-year tenure as a U.S. Senator representing Ohio, I have seen you as a moderate, and while I disagree with you on some things, I was proud when you changed your mind and came out in support of same-sex marriage and voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.  Granted, I’ve been disappointed by your stance on climate change … too little too late … and other issues such as abortion, but overall you have always seemed one of the better republicans in Congress.

Now, however, you appear to be willing to compromise the integrity of the United States Supreme Court, and I must ask you why?  Do you not realize the implications of a court divided 6-3?  Do you not realize that not only will Roe v Wade be endangered, and thus women’s rights, but also Obergefell v Hodges, thus endangering the rights of the LGBT community?  Do you remember that the Court is supposed to provide checks and balances on the Executive branch, not simply rubber-stamp the president’s wishes?

I would like to remind you that you were elected to represent ALL the people of not only Ohio, but the United States.  Donald Trump appears to believe that he is obligated only to those who slavishly support him, but I would like to think you are a better man than he is.  Please remember that your constituency includes both democrats and republicans, as well as those like myself who are independent.  Your constituency includes people of all races, and people of every and no religion.  You do not solely answer to white, male, republicans, but to every man, woman and child, regardless of party affiliation, ethnicity or religion.

In closing, I ask you to seriously consider what I have said, seriously consider withholding your vote on Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, in order to give We the People an opportunity to have our voices heard.  Thank you.

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison, citizen, taxpayer, voter

Pandemic Of Stupidity

I’m not a fan of name-calling and don’t much like applying the term ‘stupid’ to people.  But there are times that no other word will fit, times when you just have to ‘call a spade a bloody shovel’, as my friend Mary says.  Of late, there seems to be a pandemic of stupidity in the United States.  A few examples …


louie-gohmertU.S. Congressman Louie Gohmert, a republican from Texas, has contracted the coronavirus.  Now, it shouldn’t have come as any surprise, for ol’ Louie has steadfastly refused to wear a face mask or observe the precautions that most of us are following.  Louie, though, doesn’t think he contracted the virus from breathing in other people’s germs, or from picking up the germ on some surface he may have touched.  Nope, ol’ Louie thinks he got the virus from … wait for it … wearing a mask!

“It’s really ironic because a lot of people have made a really big deal out of my not wearing a mask a whole lot, but in the last week or two, I have worn a mask more than I have in the whole last four months.  I can’t help but wonder if by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place, if I might have put some germs, some of the virus on the mask and breathed it in.” 

Well, there’s a new one for the record books, eh?  But Louie’s stupidity doesn’t stop there.  On Wednesday morning, after being informed that he had tested positive for the virus, he returned to his Capitol Hill office and told staff he wanted to inform them ‘in person’ instead of them finding out from news reports.  WHAT … a phone call or an email wouldn’t have worked just as well?  And this man has a Juris Doctor degree from Baylor Law School and has held a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2005 – fifteen years!  How did he manage all that with so little intelligence?


vince-ginnThen there’s Vance Ginn, another Texan.  Vance is the chief economist for the Texas Public Policy Foundation.  In Texas, as in most states, minorities make up a disproportionate number of the deaths from the coronavirus, as do the elderly.  Mr. Ginn, citing the demographic data of the coronavirus deaths, tweeted this …

“Why not #openschools, end universal mandates, target vulnerable & check those from #Mexico?”

First of all, while the elderly may be more susceptible to the illness and more likely to die, and while the Hispanic population may not have access to the same level of medical care, therefore more likely to die, the total number of deaths also includes non-Hispanics and young people.  Second of all, is he saying, then, that Hispanics and the elderly are expendable?  And third, of course, is the fact that children bring the virus home to parents and elderly relatives such as grandparents.  Ginn has since taken the tweet down after a hue and cry, but … how do people as utterly stupid as him get into such high-level positions in the first place???


At the North Dakota state GOP convention earlier this month, Republican delegates voted on a package of 53 resolutions that “determine the group’s values and stances on various political and moral issues”.  Among them was Resolution 31 which advances the common Republican position that marriage should only be defined as a union between one man and one woman, but it also includes a rejection of any laws that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, often referred to as “SOGI.”

  • “SOGI bills grant protection to voyeurs who wish to prey on members of the opposite sex.”
  • “Research has shown that causes of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) compulsions are primarily developmental and not genetic as in color and gender.”
  • “SOGI laws empower those practicing LGBT behaviors to assume positions of mentorships of minors often over objections of parents, influencing their emotions and thereby recruiting for their lifestyles.”
  • “Many LGBT practices are unhealthy and dangerous, sometimes endangering or shortening life and sometimes infecting society at large.”

The final line of the resolutions says the party “opposes the passage of legislation which adds sexual orientation and gender identity to our Century code as protected classes.”

Party Chairman Rick Berg said Wednesday, July 22, that the resolution relates to an individual’s religious liberty and protecting business owners from lawsuits such as the Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission suit from 2017.  North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum issued a statement denouncing the resolution last Thursday …

“As I’ve long said, all North Dakotans deserve to be treated equally and live free of discrimination. There’s no place for the hurtful and divisive rhetoric in the NDGOP resolutions.”

Y’know, folks … the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, and everyone in this nation has the right to choose what to believe, what, if any, religion to follow.  HOWEVERnobody has the right to impose their own religious beliefs on others.  Nobody has the right to insist on discriminatory laws based on their own religious values.  It is the same with abortion.  If you don’t wish to have an abortion or hang out with LGBT people, then fine … don’t.  But don’t shove your bigotry and narrow-mindedness down the throats of the rest of us who believe that everyone has a right to be who they are!

A Sorry Tale Of Two Men …

With Donald Trump’s purge of many immigrants from this country, and what amounts to essentially closing our southern border, there are many low-paid, menial jobs in the agricultural industry that are left unfilled, and farmers large and small are crying for people to harvest crops and pick fruit.  Perhaps it is fortuitous, then, that so many people in the current administration will find themselves out of work come January.  I delight at the vision of Mike Pompeo, Betsy DeVos, Kellyanne Conway and others on a ladder under a tree picking oranges!  Yes, yes, I know these arseholes are all independently wealthy and don’t need to find other jobs, but still … give me my moment of pleasure here.

Now that I’ve had my moment of joy, there are two people on the snark radar today … Sebastian Gorka and Mike Pompeo.


gorkaIn January 2017, Sebastian Gorka was appointed Deputy Assistant to the “President” and Strategist in the Trump White House. He was a member of a White House team known as the Strategic Initiatives Group, which was set up by White House advisors Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. The Strategic Initiatives Group never got off the ground, and Gorka failed to obtain the security clearance necessary for work on national security issues.

Gorka is a radical whose background and education are questionable, and who has ties to a Nazi-allied group in Hungary known as Vitézi Rend.  Congress, as well as the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for Gorka’s firing, along with a number of Jewish groups.

On August 25, 2017, Gorka left the administration, one week after Steve Bannon’s departure.  Gorka claimed that he had resigned because White House officials were “undermining” the Make America Great Again (MAGA) platform. The White House disputed his claim that he resigned and confirmed he was no longer employed there and did not have further access to the White House grounds.

Okay, gone, good riddance, right?  Let him show up on Fox every month or so to rant and opine, and on his own radio show, as long as he isn’t in our government, yes?  But wait … on Tuesday, it was announced that Donald Trump plans to appoint Gorka to be a member of the National Security Education Board!  Like a bad penny, he keeps coming back!

If you’re like me, right about now you’re scratching your head and wondering just what the Sam Heck the “National Security Education Board” does.  The 14-member board oversees a government program that awards scholarships and fellowships to students and offers grants to colleges and universities to address “the national need for experts in critical languages and regions.” In its mission statement, NSEP says one of its goals is to “produce an increased pool of applicants for work in the departments and agencies of the United States Government with national security responsibilities.”

Sorry, folks, but I don’t want Gorka within our government in any capacity, let alone one that pertains in any way, shape or form to education!  Thankfully, he can join the others in January looking for jobs picking fruit!


Mike-PompeoA year ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched the “Commission on Unalienable Rights”, a panel tasked with reviewing “the role of human rights in American public policy”.  At the time, I questioned the need and intent of such a panel, for knowing Pompeo’s evangelical religious views, I did not trust that it wouldn’t be more exclusionary than not.  I wasn’t alone, as advocates warned it could imperil LGBTQ and women’s reproductive freedoms.

Said Pompeo at that time …

“As human rights claims have proliferated, some claims have come into tension with one another provoking questions and clashes about which rights are entitled to gain respect. Nation states and international institutions remain confused about the respective responsibilities concerning human rights. We must, therefore, be vigilant that human rights discourse not be corrupted or hijacked or used for dubious or malignant purposes.”

Odd that, for I never felt any confusion as to what ‘human rights’ are.  I promptly forgot about it, in light of other more immediate concerns, until this weekend.  On Thursday, Pompeo and the panel released a draft version of their past year’s work, and it concludes that the two highest human rights are property ownership and religious freedom.  Property ownership???  Quite frankly, people who cannot afford sufficient food to feed their families, who cannot pay their rent, and who cannot afford to take their sick child to the doctor don’t give a tinker’s damn about owning property!  And just how consoling does Pompeo think it is to tell a starving person that, “Oh well, at least you have religious freedom”?  This reminds me of the “thoughts and prayers” they send when somebody’s child is the victim of a school shooting!

This nation and its government have many massive problems that need to be addressed … defining human rights might be a start if the people doing the defining weren’t wealthy bigots who have never missed a meal in their lives, or had to decide between paying the rent and buying food.  It might have had seriousness of purpose if they considered such things as equality for all, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.  But rather, the entire purpose seems to have been to continue to oppress the oppressed and give legitimacy to the wealthy and the evangelicals.

Pompeo acknowledged historical US failings, including slavery and the dispossession of Native Americans, but he argued that those wrongs had been remedied and was scornful of those who argued that they represented enduring flaws.  Pompeo, and apparently the rest of his panel, are so out of touch with the 99% of us who live in the real world that it’s pathetic.  This panel is naught but an attempt to deny women’s rights, to deny the rights of blacks and Native Americans, and to deny the rights of the LGBT community.  If you’ve got the stomach for it, you can read his draft here.

In his draft, he condemns the New York Times’ 1619 project … an excellent project I have mentioned on two separate occasions and that I strongly recommend.  According to the Times

The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

Links:

The Week’s Best Cartoons 6/20

Every Saturday, TokyoSand takes the time to compile a collection of the week’s best political cartoons, and this week is no exception. Thank you, TS, for your hard work and your permission to share!

Political⚡Charge

By John Darkow

Editorial cartoonists appear to be one of the last groups of people who speak out and say exactly what’s happening. They reveal what’s really going on behind all the pomp and circumstance in front of cameras and reporters, and entertain us along the way. Although to be clear, they’re not necessarily “funny.”

Here are our great editorial cartoonists on what they saw in the news this week.

SCOTUS Decision

By Walt Handelsman,The Advocate

By Ann Telnaes, Washington Post

By Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News

By Nick Anderson

By Steve Sack, Star Tribune

And DACA

By Signe Wilkinson, Philly Daily News & Philly Inquirer (From 2017)

By Bill Bramhall, New York Daily News

By Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News

By Ed Hall

Black Lives Matter

By Kevin Necessary

By Matt Davies, Newsday

By Matt Wuerker, Politico

By Kevin…

View original post 116 more words

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.