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…

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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.

Bits Of This ‘N That

I’ve been asked if I have ended the Saturday Surprise feature.  No, I haven’t, it is only on temporary hiatus because I’m finding it impossible, with so many things happening right under our very noses these days, to step back and do a post about unique things and places.  However, it should return in a few weeks … perhaps I can enlist Jolly’s help.  Meanwhile, a number of things clogged my radar screen last night …


Meet Marjory Greene …

"The 1st Annual Trump Family Special" Off-Broadway Press Conference

… the republican candidate from Georgia who is likely to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Her campaign ad showing her cocking a gun and threatening protestors is what earned her enough support to receive twice as many votes as the next highest candidate in Tuesday’s primary.  What the hell is it with Georgia and gun-toting politicians???  Remember these ads that helped propel Brian Kemp into the Georgia governor’s mansion?

Greene’s ad was actually removed from Facebook, a fact that she seems to wear like a badge of honour, and she did NOT win the primary, having received only 41% of the vote, less than the 50% needed to win.  There will be a run-off election in August against her contender, Dr. John Cowan.  But that didn’t stop Trump from congratulating her on her “win” …

trump-greene

And she thanked him …

greene-trump

Ms. Greene is exactly the type of person we DON’T need in Congress!  She is a supporter of the conspiracy-theorist group known as QAnon, a group flagged as a terrorist organization by the FBI.  Greene is listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hatewatch,” where she is described by the group as “an avid MAGA activist who frequently attends rallies or participates in protests that aim to vilify the federal government, American Muslims and transgender people.”  Just what we do NOT need in Congress, a blatant bigot!

She has received funding for her campaign from the likes of Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan and Kevin McCarthy, to name a few … all uber right-wing republicans.  Given that the Georgia primaries were a complete fiasco with people standing in line for 7-8 hours waiting to vote, I’m not sure I trust the results, but according to polls, Greene is likely to win in her district, 75% of whom voted for Trump in 2016.  What a mockery of justice.


So wrong on so many levels …

The Oaf in the Oval Office is going to be hitting the campaign trail again starting next Friday.  Funny, that’s just about the only thing he has done … on our tax dollars, I might add … for three-and-a-half years!  We apparently hired him to be a campaigner and not much else.  His first rally will be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

The date and the city are no coincidence, but rather further evidence of Trump’s racism.  Tulsa is the site of a race massacre 99 years ago that remains one of the worst acts of racial violence in US history. In 1921, hundreds of African Americans were killed when white mobs looted and burned what had been a thriving neighborhood known as “Black Wall Street.” That is the city where Trump fans will gather this year on the day honoring the abolition of slavery.

But, as if all that weren’t bad enough, while the coronavirus pandemic is still raging in much of the U.S. and we are currently at over 2.1 million cases and over 117,000 deaths, Trump is planning a rally in an indoor arena that has a capacity of 19,000 people.  Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has said people still need to employ social distancing and “minimize time spent in crowded environments”.  Therefore … wait for it, you’re gonna love this one … Trump and his campaign are demanding that attendees sign a waiver that makes clear the campaign is not responsible if anyone gets ill from crowding with thousands of others in an enclosed space.

I truly hope that only his most fervent supporters attend the rally and that they have at least enough good sense not to bring their children!


Another hit to the LGBT community …

You would not have wanted to hear the words that came out of my mouth when I read last night that Trump has reversed even more protections for transgender people against sex discrimination in health care.  The reversal will allow healthcare providers and insurance companies that receive federal funding to refuse to provide or cover health care for trans people.

Trump and his henchmen have also moved to restrict military service by trans men and women, proposed allowing certain homeless shelters to take gender identity into account in offering someone a bed for the night, and concluded in a 2017 justice department memo that federal civil rights law does not protect trans people from discrimination at work.  Employment law that prohibits discrimination applies to everyone!  You cannot say that it is okay to treat someone poorly because they are trans!

You know what?  Trans people should stop paying federal income tax, for they are not receiving any benefit from it, under Trump law.  In fact, I would love to see a nation-wide tax rebellion, since we really no longer have any voice in what our government does and are not getting our money’s worth these days.


And I close with the latest ad from The Lincoln Project …

Bigotry – you have to be carefully taught (from “South Pacific’)

I shall let our friend Keith’s words speak for themselves, for he makes the case far more eloquently than I could …

musingsofanoldfart

I have often cited these words, but the following is from a post I wrote several years ago. I repeat it hear due to its relevance today.

For those of you who have seen the play or movie “South Pacific” by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, you may recognize part of the title as a pivotal song in the story – “You’ve Got to be CarefullyTaught.” The play involves a woman who falls in love with someone and then realizes his children are half islanders. She has a hard time coming to grips with her bigotry as according to the song, we are not born hating; hatred has to be carefully taught. A sample of Hammerstein’s lyrics follow:

“You’ve got to be taught, to hate and fear. You’ve got to be taught, from year to year. It’s got to be drummed in your dear little head. You’ve got to be…

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Why Do We Need Bigotry?

A couple of news items crossed my path yesterday that had a common theme … bigotry.  Bigotry takes many forms – misogyny, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, Islamophobia and more – all of it ugly.  The human species is the only one on earth that has this superiority complex, and I’ve yet to understand why.


A ‘big’ march …

Back in 2013, after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the murder of a young, unarmed black man named Trayvon Martin, a new movement came into existence:  Black Lives Matter.  In the years following, there were far too many incidences of police killing unarmed black people with little or no provocation, and the words, Black Lives Matter, sometimes shortened to BLM, became even more relevant as we came to realize that the U.S. is still very much a racist nation.

But then, some portion of the Caucasian population took umbrage at the phrase and started their own counter-movement, ‘All Lives Matter’.  They questioned why black lives mattered more than white, for they lacked understanding.  Nobody was saying that black lives mattered “more”, just that they mattered “too”.  It was a statement of equality … a life is a life, whether the person’s skin is black, white, or green.  Since the beginning of this nation, people of colour have been looked down on by society, and the time is past for us to stop that!  That is what Black Lives Matter is about … equality.

But, it isn’t only black people who are discriminated against in this country.  Jews, Muslims, Hispanics … and one of the most misunderstood groups, LGBTQ people.

Back in 1970, on June 28th in New York City, there occurred what would become known as the first “Gay Pride” march, to mark the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.  This was the birth of the Gay Pride movement … pride as opposed to shame or social stigma.  Like the Black Lives Matter movement that would come later, it was about equality.  But, just as with Black Lives Matter, bigots misunderstood the meaning.

In response to Gay Pride, or LGBT Pride, a relatively small group of people recently formed what they call “Straight Pride”.  But that “Straight Pride” movement is not about equality … not in the least.  It is a highly discriminatory movement, an anti-LGBT movement that seeks to harm.  Fortunately, the movement has not gained much momentum and doesn’t appear to be taken seriously by very many.

Last Saturday, a group calling themselves the ‘Super Happy Fun Group’, planned a ‘Straight Pride’ march in Dallas, Texas.  The group told their followers they were going to make a “mighty impact on Dallas” by marching through downtown on Saturday, “spreading the joys of straight pride” to all who would hear.  Dallas police took the threat seriously and had a dozen uniformed and plainclothes officers on hand to protect the demonstrators from counter-protesters.  The local paper, the Dallas Observer, sent a reporter to cover the event.

The turnout?  Three people showed up to march in the ‘big parade’.Dallas-straight-pridePerhaps there is hope for this nation after all?  Perhaps some people are getting tired of the hate and bigotry that is tearing this nation into bits?  Is it too much to hope for?  Yeah, probably.


A change of heart? 

I’ve mentioned before my aversion to certain businesses that engage in discriminatory practices, such as Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A.  Of late, Chick-Fil-A has come under heavy criticism for their anti-LGBT practices, including making large donations to anti-LGBT groups.  When Popeye’s came out with their chicken sandwich that is considered to be comparable to Chick’Fil-A’s famous chicken sandwich, Chick-Fil-A apparently began losing a significant amount of business.

Chick-fil-A announced Monday that it would no longer be making charitable donations to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army—two organizations with decidedly anti-LGBTQ stances.  However, in years past Chick-fil-A had claimed to have distanced itself from the anti-LGBTQ cause, but its tax returns told a different story.

Time will tell if the company has truly changed its stance.  I have my doubts.


Y’know, friends … we wouldn’t need Black Lives Matter or LGBT Pride movements if people just treated everyone with kindness, regardless of their skin colour, religion, gender preferences.  The world is a big, sometimes scary place, and life is hard sometimes for most all of us.  We’re all in this together, folks … why are there always some people who judge others based on the colour of their skin or other superficial criteria?  Isn’t there enough hate in this world without adding to it senselessly?  There is no room for this clannish, tribal mentality in today’s world.  Women’s rights, civil rights, gay rights … those should not have to be fought for, they should be the natural order of things.  Sigh.

Why Do I … ???

Friends say to me, “Why do you spend so much time worrying about politics?  What will be, will be.  Why not spend your time enjoying life?  You’re going to drive yourself to an early grave.  Just chill and have fun.”  This post is my response to those people.

Why do I spend so much time worrying about politics?  I don’t.  I spend that much time worrying about what is happening in this nation, in the world.  I spend that much time speaking out, sometimes ranting, about the injustices I see in this world.  I look at our government taking innocent children from their parents’ arms, tossing them into detention centers with naught but a piece of tinfoil for a blanket, and I say, “This is wrong!”  I see decisions being made by a few in the upper echelons of government that completely disregard the concerns of scientists and environmentalists … decisions that are hastening the end of life on this planet, and I say, “This is wrong!”

I see a ‘man’ who is supposed to represent this nation, who is supposed to represent the ideals of a nation founded on “liberty and justice for all”, denigrating people in the LGBT community, calling Hispanics and Muslims terrible names, making racial, homophobic, and misogynistic slurs and more, and I cannot help but say, “This is wrong!”  I see decisions made that ensure the rich get richer while the poor are denied adequate health care, housing, food, and the basic necessities of life, and yes, once again I say, “This is wrong!”

A number of my friends claim that I just don’t like Trump.  No, I don’t like him …anti-TrumpBut, it isn’t only Trump … it is also those who either support or applaud the policies of this administration, policies that are discriminatory against minorities, against women, against non-Christians, against LGBT, and against the poor.  Policies that put this nation and its people in grave danger.  Policies and rhetoric that alienate our allies, while patronizing our enemies.  And it is also the people who turn a blind eye, who know that these things are wrong but bury themselves inside their bubble, their comfort zone, and pretend they don’t see the children in cages crying themselves to sleep at night.  It is those who believe that they have no obligation to do their part to clean up our environment, who tell me that somehow some magical creator of the universe will make everything right again in good time, so they can continue tossing away their plastic bottles, driving their gas-guzzling SUVs, and living life just as they have always done.

And it is those who believe that somehow, they are better than others, either because of the colour of their skin, their religion, their sexual orientation, or their ethnicity.  Those who worry that the people with pale skin will someday not be the majority, will not have the final say in what this nation will be.  It is the arrogance, the ignorance, and the greed that I do not like, can no longer tolerate.

Those same friends then say, “Well, you cannot fix the problems, so why not relax, enjoy life, have some fun … lighten up.”

No, I cannot fix the problems by myself … no one person can.  But I can do my part, and I can keep using the little voice I have to make others aware of the many injustices happening right under our very noses.  There is an old saying that, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink”.  I am attempting to lead the horse to the clear, cool stream in hopes that he will drink.  I cannot do otherwise, it is who I am.  But, I am getting tired …

Tired of seeing people surrounding themselves with so much noise that it drowns out the things that actually matter.  Tired of people burying their heads in the sand, wearing their rosy-coloured glasses, sticking their fingers in their ears and singing, “La-la-la-la-la … I can’t hear you!”

Why do I do what I do?  Because it matters, at least to me.  Because we are on a collision course, and much like the passengers aboard the Titanic, the majority will still be dancing, posting pictures of their last meal on social media, and pretending they just don’t see, when the ship hits the iceberg.  We all have a choice to be a part of the solution, or a part of the problem, but there is no neutral choice.  If you choose to ignore it all, if you choose not to be part of the solution, then you ARE the problem.  We have all contributed to the problem for long enough.  Now it is time to be part of the solution.

Quite by coincidence, as this post was a work-in-progress this morning, I saw a comment by our friend Roger who offered the following quote by Elie Wiesel …

“Always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Think about it.