Creative Commons License

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The GOP debate proved we can't let any of these people into the White House


Last night, GOP presidential candidates gathered for another debate. Donald Trump, the current front-runner, was center stage, and made sure to tell everyone he was center stage. Rand Paul had a pretty good opening, as did John Kasich. Chris Christie managed to politicize the school closings in Los Angeles, and proved what a hypocrite he is by asking if mothers feel safe putting their kids on buses, while being one of many conservatives who refuse to do anything about gun violence. Marco Rubio implied President Obama doesn't love America, while Ted Cruz stated the president "refuses" to say radical Islam, something President Obama has explained.

Ben Carson spent a lot of time referring to his past as a pediatric neurosurgeon, while Carly Fiorina said she's been called "the B word," and that somehow qualifies her to be POTUS. If Hillary Clinton heard that, she most likely turned to an adviser, and said "Well, if that's all it takes, let's swear me in right now!" And of course, Trump talked about building a "great wall," how respected and liked he his (all while bullying and insulting other candidates), reminded us he is "good at things," and said there are tens of thousands of people with ISIS flags on their cell phones. Trump's cell phone claim was in response to a question about his ban on Muslims:

We are not talking about isolation. We're talking about security. We're not talking about religion. We're talking about security. Our country is out of control. People are pouring across the southern border. I will build a wall. It will be a great wall.
People will not come in unless they come in legally. Drugs will not come through that wall. As far as other people into migration where they're going, tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them. I don't think so, Wolf. They're not coming to this country. And if I'm president and if Obama has brought some to this country, they are leaving. They're going. They're gone. (source)
Ted Cruz talked about destroying ISIS and banning refugees, Chris Christie said terror is the "new normal" under Obama and Clinton, then told us "everywhere is a target" for terrorists. Kasich and Carson both want "boots on the ground" to fight ISIS, but as usual, forget there are people in those boots. And Trump doubled down on his desire to kill family members of ISIS, and shut down parts of the internet. Rand Paul responded to Trump:
If you are going to close the internet, realize America what that entails,” Paul said. “That entails getting rid of the First Amendment. It’s no small feat. If you are going to kill the families of terrorists realize there is something called the Geneva Convention which were going to have to pull out of.”
Paul said that following Trumps lead “would defy every norm that is America. So, when you ask yourself, whoever you are, if you’re going to support Donald Trump, think, do you believe in the constitution?” (source)
There was eye-rolling, coughing, glaring, muttering, smirking. Ted Cruz brought Mark Levin up as some sort of defense against Marco Rubio. Jeb Bush said Donald Trump can't "insult his way to the White House," and Trump responded by insulting Jeb Bush. Most of the candidates want to expand domestic spying. Of course, we can't forget Ben Carson's very strange answer to a question about North Korea:
I do believe he [North Korean leader Kim Jong Un] is unstable and China has more influence with him than we do. But we also recognize that North Korea is in severe financial straits and they have decided to use their resources to build their military than to feed their people and take care of the humanitarian responsibilities that they have.
We can capitalize on that. We can use that to keep Putin contained. He is a one horse show, energy. And we have an abundance of energy but we have archaic energy export rules. We need to get rid of those and make Europe dependent on us for energy, put him back in his little box where he belongs. And we need to do a lot of other things with the resources that we have. So that economic power works just as well as military power, perhaps better.
The military needs to be upgraded. You look at the Ohio glass submarines, the minuteman 3 missiles, the B-52 bombers, you know, if we don't get the military right nothing else matters.
Donald Trump wants to kill civilians and shut down the internet. Ben Carson thinks Vladimir Putin should be in a box, and possibly believes Putin is the leader of North Korea. Carly Fiorina used the gender card after saying she would never use the gender card, and thinks a general who retired in 2003 is somehow connected to President Obama. John Kasich wants more war, as does Ben Carson. Ted Cruz thinks the Obama administration targets "law-abiding" citizens, while ignoring terrorists, and talked about horse thieves.

We can't let any of these people into the White House. Not even for tours.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Republicans introduce legislation to fight the imaginary war on Christmas


Ah, America. Where many of our representatives ignore poverty, gun violence, mental health, a crumbling infrastructure, and wealth inequality, preferring to focus on more pressing issues like the imaginary war on Christmas. Representatives like Doug Lamborn, Republican from Colorado.

Rep. Lamborn has introduced legislation to protect Christmas. No, really. I'm not making this up. Look:
A group of House Republicans has signed onto legislation declaring support for Christmas.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) has introduced a resolution expressing the sense of the House that “the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected for use by those who celebrate Christmas” amid warnings from the right that religion is being pushed out of the holiday. 
The resolution states that the house "strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas" and "expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas." 
Thirty-five fellow Republicans have signed onto the resolution as co-sponsors. (source)
H. Res. 564 states:
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected for use by those who celebrate Christmas.
Whereas Christmas is a national holiday celebrated on December 25; and
Whereas the Framers intended that the First Amendment of the Constitution, in prohibiting the establishment of religion, would not prohibit any mention of religion or reference to God in civic dialog: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives—
(1) recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas;
(2) strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas; and
(3) expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas.
You know what started this silliness? That yahoo and his "Red Cups" tirade. Yes, a guy whose only goal in life is to make money from misleading viral videos and horrible click bait articles, inspired a bunch of ignorant right-wingers to introduce an actual resolution to protect a holiday steeped in paganism.

Where in the bible does anyone write Jesus was born on December 25? Nowhere, because that date was chosen by Pope Julius. Christmas trees? Used by pagans to celebrate the winter solstice, and the Romans, to celebrate Saturnalia. Holly, ivy, and other greenery? Pagans. Santa? Based on a Turkish saint.

Jesus wasn't born on December 25. Almost every Christmas tradition is pagan in origin. But we have politicians wasting our money and time, introducing legislation to protect Christmas from...well...nothing. No one is attacking Christmas. Not Starbucks, not liberals, not atheists, no one. Should a nativity scene be put up on government land? No, of course not. You can put up all the plastic white people dressed in robes you want on your very own lawn. Should a public school feature a live nativity scene in a play? Nope. A parochial school can, though. 

As Jon Stewart once said, conservative Christians confuse "persecution" with "not getting their way." Not being able to blur the line between church and state just because a pope created a holiday isn't the same as being shot, or beaten, or murdered, because of your religion. 

In truth, there is a bit of a skirmish being waged when it comes to acting like Jesus. Banning Muslims, refusing sanctuary to refugees, shaming the poor, that sort of thing. Guess who's leading the charge in that skirmish? The very same people who decry the imaginary war on Christmas. 

Merry Christmas, Happy Yuletide, Happy Holidays. Let's all try to be a little less like Rep. Lamborn, and a little more like Rebel Jesus.




Wednesday, December 9, 2015

You will know them from their fruits


There is a passage in the book of Matthew that reads:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Fruits are deeds. What a person does is an indication of who they are, what they believe. If a person claims to be, for example, a Christian, but only promotes and supports hate and violence, they are bearing bad fruit. 

One such person is Joshua Feuerstein. Mr. Feuerstein calls himself a Christian, when in truth, he is a wolf in sheep's clothing. He is a bearer of bad fruit. Mr. Feuerstein advocates violence against abortion providers, believes Christians should take up arms to "defend" ourselves from gay rights, and he owns a website that frequently, if not constantly, lies. One recent example of this is an aggregated piece entitled "Woman on CNN Blames Dead Victims of CA Shooting for Having 'Offensive' Christmas Party." Except that is not what Casey Jordan said

Dr. Jordan appeared on CNN with Don Lemon the day of the San Bernadino shooting. As a criminologist and behavioral analyst, Dr. Jordan spoke of possible motivations for the crime, saying:
They can have Arabic or Middle Eastern names as well, but the key is that from the beginning everything that was reported about him, going into this conference room where there was a holiday party which may have been offensive to him. But the bottomline is the motivation always appeared to be intrinsic not, extrinsic. Still, he was prepared for this. He didn’t — you know, it was almost like he was looking for an excuse to go get the guns, get the female getaway driver — you know, put on his fatigues and let it look like terrorism. So, I’m in total agreement that terrorism and disgruntled employee can be a mash up. This can be an amalgamation of both, but I really do think his motive was very intrinsic. It was personal. It was about a grudge and it looks like terrorism and he might like that, but it isn’t what it’s about. 
Nowhere in her statement does Dr. Jordan blame the victims. She simply says the party may have been offensive to the shooter in an attempt to, in the moment by moment coverage of a horrible event, delve into possible motives. Dr. Jordan puts the blame for this squarely on the shooter's shoulders. But that narrative wouldn't play to the fears of Feuerstein's fans, so he bears bad fruit in order to increase traffic to his site and make money.

On December 8, a writer on Feuerstein's site named John S. Roberts (who is also a writer for Young Conservatives, another right wing click bait site) published a piece entitled "Cincinnati will soon Ban VITAL Biblical Counseling to LGBT Youth." Again, a lie. Cincinnati is trying to ban reperative, or conversion, therapy for LGBT youth. Roberts calls people who oppose conversion therapy "radical fanatics on the left." The Surgeon General opposes conversion therapy, as does the American Psychological Association. The AMA, American College of Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, and so many other organizations, all state conversion therapy is harmful. According to John S. Roberts and Joshua Feuerstein, all these groups are "radical fanatics on the left."

Above this false "article" is a photo, the featured image. That photo is Leelah Alcorn, the 17-year-old transgender girl who killed herself last year. Joshua Feuerstein, a man who calls himself a Christian, allowed a writer on his website to post a photo of a girl who ended her own life because her family refused to accept her for who she was. Feuerstein has removed the reprehensible "article" from his Facebook page, but you can still find it on his website

This is bad fruit. This is a man who poses for selfies holding a gold-plated Desert Eagle handgun worth over $2,000 while begging for money on the internet. This is a man who promotes violence against Muslims, and the LGBT community, all the while calling himself a follower of Jesus. And this is a man who has almost 2 million fans on Facebook, and whose website has a domestic Alexa rating of 8,151. The majority of his website's traffic comes directly from Facebook. In other words, Joshua Feuerstein posts incendiary, misleading, hateful, and often flat-out false links on his Facebook page, and his 1.8 million followers click those links. 

There are good and wonderful Christians on the internet, doing their best to make the world a better place. My friend, Jason Dye, who uses social media to promote equality and social justice. Father Nathan Monk, a man who has made it his mission in life to help the homeless and disenfranchised. Former President Jimmy Carter, who builds houses for Habitat for Humanity, and speaks out against hate. Rachel Held Evans, an evangelical Christian author. 

You will know them from their fruits. Joshua Feuerstein's fruits are rotten, toxic, and sour. What he preaches is the opposite of actual Christianity. He banned me from his Facebook page for challenging his click bait lies, and he will ban others who try to do the same. Because if it's one thing a false prophet cannot abide, it's having his deception dragged into the light. 

For more information on how to help transgender youth, please visit Trans Youth Equality Forum.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Trump calls for ban on Muslims entering United States

Image from Patheos.com

Donald Trump released a statement on his website, calling for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. In the statement, Mr. Trump references a poll by the Center for Security Policy, and claims this poll shows a large majority of Muslims living in the U.S. support violence against Americans, and that Muslims in America believe they should have the choice of being governed by Shariah law. This article will take a closer look at the data Trump relies on for his call for banning Muslims, and at the Center for Security Policy.

First, the data. According to the poll (seen here), six hundred Muslims living in the U.S. were contacted by the Center for Security Policy. Six hundred out of millions. But when you click the link to the poll, the meta description reads "nationwide poll of us muslims shows thousands support shariah jihad." They polled six hundred Muslims, and yet, "thousands" support Shariah law and jihad. Right off the bat, there's something fishy about this poll.

The first question asked of Muslim-Americans is "How do you characterize Shariah?" The majority of respondents-47%-answered "A guide to the personal practice of Islam." Then the respondents were asked to clarify their belief in Shariah, and the majority said "It is up to the individual Muslim to define Shariah." The majority also stated if Shariah law conflicts with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, those two are "supreme" to Shariah law. 

As to being able to choose Shariah law in reference to governing, 31% strongly agreed, 28% somewhat agreed, while 12% somewhat disagreed, and 9% strongly disagreed. But the next question clarifies those responses. When asked if Shariah law, as interpreted by Islamic authorities, is compatible with the Constitution, including freedom of speech and religion, 60% agreed. 

The next series of questions deal with the violence Trump and his followers believe is foremost in the minds of every Muslim in this country. When respondent were asked if violence against anyone who insults Mohammed, the Qur'an, or Islam, is sometimes acceptable, 61% said no. Only 16% said yes, and using math, this means out of the six hundred Muslim-Americans polled, 97 were okay with violence. We could go on, but it's time for a closer look at the Center for Security Policy. You can view the entire poll in PDF format at this link.

The Center for Security Policy was founded in 1988 by Frank Gaffney. Gaffney has a bio published at Southern Poverty Law Center, in which he is revealed to be a raging Islamophobe. From SPLC:
Once a respectable Washington insider, Frank Gaffney Jr. is now one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes. Gripped by paranoid fantasies about Muslims destroying the West from within, Gaffney believes that “creeping Shariah,” or Islamic religious law, is a dire threat to American democracy. He favors congressional hearings to unmask subversive Muslim conspiracies, and was even banned from far-right Conservative Political Action Conference events after accusing two of its organizers of being agents of the Muslim Brotherhood. 
The piece also contains statements Gaffney has made about Muslims. This is from a 2011 article he wrote for CSP:
So pervasive now is the MB’s [Muslim Brotherhood’s] ‘civilization jihad’ within the U.S. government and civil institutions that a serious, sustained and rigorous investigation of the phenomenon by the legislative branch is in order. To that end, we need to establish a new and improved counterpart to the Cold War-era’s HUAC [House Un-American Activities Committee] and charge it with examining and rooting out anti-American – and anti-constitutional – activities that constitute an even more insidious peril than those pursued by communist Fifth Columnists fifty years ago. 
And this is from a column Gaffney wrote for FamilySecurityMatters.org:
We know for a fact that the Muslim Brotherhood has as its mission the worldwide imposition of Islam's toxic, brutally repressive and anti-constitutional supremacist doctrine known as Shariah. And yes, it means here, too.
Gaffney's claim that Huma Abedin was part of the Muslim brotherhood was completely unfounded, and unsupported, but several prominent conservatives jumped on Gaffney's bandwagon. Gaffney also went after Grover Norquist, stating Norquist was secretly helping the Muslim brotherhood. Why? Grover Norquist's wife is Palestinian-American. And in 2009, during an appearance on Hardball, Gaffney said:
 There is also circumstantial evidence, not proven by any means, but nonetheless some pretty compelling circumstantial evidence, of Saddam Hussein's Iraq being involved with the people who perpetrated both the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and even the Oklahoma City bombing. (source)
Frank Gaffney is who Donald Trump turns to in order to rile up his xenophobic and Islamophobic followers. Two men, desperately afraid, manipulating data and statistics to incite fear and hatred. Like so many conservatives, Trump and Gaffney refuse to acknowledge that we as a country are in greater danger from people like them than we are from Islamic extremists. 

We have met the enemy, and he is us. 

(end quote by Walt Kelly)


Friday, December 4, 2015

Down the rabbit hole


As a rule, I stay away from conspiracy websites and social media pages. Well, sometimes I dip my toe into the Alex Jones pool, but not often, and only because I'm worried about him. Alex gets so worked up on his show-red face, screaming, veins popping out of his neck-I wonder if he's about to have a stroke. I tried to watch his interview with Donald Trump a few days ago, and I lasted almost five whole minutes before I began feeling sort of icky, and needed cocoa. 

If I do end up viewing material about contrails, or false flags, or the Illuminati, it's often because I am perusing a right-wing Facebook page, and come upon a comment that makes my eye twitch. So I click the name. Now if the person behind the comment is a true conspiracy believer, clicking said name will take me to a totally private Facebook profile, usually with a cover photo of the Confederate flag, or a lovely collage made up of Masonic symbols. But once in awhile, I hit pay dirt. 

Earlier this evening, I was taking a virtual stroll around Fox's Facebook page, and one such comment jumped out and slapped me in the face. Because so many people comment on Fox's page, I scribbled part of the comment on a Post It note, and clicked the profile link. Which took me to a person I'll call "Ozzie," because that's the name he uses on Facebook. Ozzie's original comment dealt with how the mass shooting in San Bernadino was a false flag because there were too many firefighters there. Yes, really.

Ozzie's page was a virtual goldmine of paranoia. Did you know Mossad created ISIS? This is a steaming pile of horseshit, by the way. HAARP, websites like Natural News (we'll revisit them in a bit), You Tube channels focused on chemtrails, a guy who was at the San Bernadino crime scene wearing a cap with a Masonic symbol on it and that proves...um...stuff...and on and on and on. Jackpot. 

Then I noticed the articles and videos about false flags. Sandy Hook, Aurora, San Bernadino, Colorado, the Navy yard: Ozzie believes all of these were fake. He believes crisis actors participated in every one of these horrible events, no one died, and it's all part of a plot to take away our guns. Ozzie also had several videos about Andy Parker. Andy Parker's daughter, Alison, was one of the victims of a shooting earlier this year. He appeared on numerous news programs, and spoke out against gun violence, which, of course, raised all sorts of mythical red flags for the false flag brigade. Mr. Parker was an actor, appearing in a community theater production of "Les Miserables," and he ran for local public office. To Ozzie, and his friends, this means Andy Parker's daughter didn't really die. 

See, it's funny, at first. The anti-GMO silliness, the InfoWars articles, the links to World Net Daily, the videos teaching you how to spray vinegar into the air to get rid of chemtrails. Then it gets horrible. Everything is a conspiracy, everything is fake, those 20 little children aren't dead, Alison Parker's not dead, the 14 victims in California aren't dead, it's all a lie so the black president can take your guns away. Natural News, a very popular website run by Mike Adams, one of the worst people in the world, ran an article Thursday, entitled "Active shooter drills carried out EVERY MONTH at San Bernadino Inland Regional Center...staff tweeted 'drill started' as police raid began." Natural News is characterized as a "conspiracy-minded alternative medicine website." 

The LA Times detailed why a staff member Tweeted about a drill:
At the Inland Regional Center, where she’s a nurse, the staff works with clients and parents of clients who are sometimes angry. They have active-shooter drills every month or so.“Drill started,” she texted her husband, Mark, around 11 a.m.She walked to a window nearby and filmed a video as law enforcement sprinted toward the building.“Oh, that is scary,” a voice says calmly in the background.“They’re all geared up!” someone else says. “Rifles and everything!”In the background, someone laughs -- they still didn’t know.Then the reality set in.She texted her husband again: “Well it’s real.
A link to that article is included in Mike Adams' conspiracy, false flag tripe, but people who read Natural News, or InfoWars, or WND, or Fox, are famous for not clicking embedded links. That's a lot of work, and besides, all media except for Natural News, InfoWars, WND, and Fox, lie. So why click something that might challenge your bias, or make you think? 

Down the rabbit hole isn't a fun place anymore. Now, it's a very scary, violent, paranoid spinning room, filled with heavily armed, slightly mad individuals, who believe things that make absolutely no sense, and have been proven false. I don't ever engage conspiracy theorists, nor do I engage Klan members, neo-Nazis, or Oath Keepers. I won't even write about Sovereign citizens

The lesson from this? Fifteen years ago, the rabbit hole was a weird place to visit. Today, it's still weird, but it's also attracted some very dangerous people. People who seem unhinged to a degree. People who believe things that are, on the surface, laughable. Until you peer beneath the surface. Then you stop laughing.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

It's time to amend the Second Amendment



The definition of an amendment, from Merriam Webster:
:a change in the words or meaning of a law or document (such as a constitution)
: the act or process of changing the words or meaning of a law or document
: the act or process of amending something
Today is Wednesday, December second. Today, there was a mass shooting in San Bernadino, California, a mass shooting in Savannah, Georgia, and a shooting in Houston, Texas. Fourteen victims are dead in California, one died in Georgia, and one died in Houston. Sixteen innocent people died today because we, the American people, refuse to do one goddamn thing about gun violence.
Nothing will change. Not one thing. When twenty little children were slaughtered at Sandy Hook, that should have been it. Two weeks before Christmas, parents dropped their first-graders off at Sandy Hook Elementary, and twenty of those children died. And nothing changed. When we as a society decide that the right for Joe Ammosexual to hoard firearms outweighs the right of first-graders to live, we have lost our souls.
The reason nothing will change? The Second Amendment. An amendment whose original intent is now meaningless, thanks to the Militia Act. An amendment which contains the words "well-regulated," words the NRA and their more bloodthirsty members ignore. We don't need a militia anymore; we have the National Guard. We don't need a bunch of Oath Keepers wandering around Cliven Bundy's ranch, pointing semi-automatic weapons at law enforcement officers. We don't need Armslist, we don't need the NRA, we don't need politicians whose heads are so far up Wayne LaPierre's ass, when he stops short, they get whiplash.
What we do need is to take another look at the Second Amendment, for a start. We are not the only country with a constitution, and while ours is important, it's not sacred. It was written by men, not gods, and it has changed with time. African-Americans are no longer viewed as 3/5 of a person, slavery was outlawed, the voting age was lowered to 18, women were given the vote. In all, the Constitution has been amended 27 times. The founding fathers predicted the time would come to amend the original; we know this because they wrote, in Article Five:
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate. (source)
If we could ever elect representatives who represent us, not the NRA, not the gun manufacturers, but the actual citizens of the United States, we might be able to amend the Second Amendment, and start the process of ending some of this obscene gun violence. We are the only developed country that has mass shootings so often, because we have the most unregulated gun owners. Ammosexuals always point to Switzerland as some sort of gun-loving country, but the truth about Swiss gun laws is much different than the Alex Jones set believes. 

Sixteen innocent people died today, many more were injured, including law enforcement officers. GOP presidential candidates are offering "thoughts and prayers" while slobbering all over the NRA. We don't need empty platitudes, we don't need hypocritical representatives who call themselves pro-life while refusing to help stop gun violence. We need politicians who aren't afraid of the NRA, and who understand it's time to amend the Second Amendment.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fear and loathing in Minnesota

Image of Syrian refugee child from PSU.edu

Our governor has chosen not to embrace the rampant xenophobia currently flooding the United States, and will continue to accept Syrian refugees. In response to this decision, many Minnesotans are posting comments to Mark Dayton's Facebook page. Some of the comments are supportive, like:
 Governor Dayton, Thank-You for not allowing fear to blind you to those in need; we are a land of immigrants with the freedom to practice the religion of our choice and to live freely from persecution - to cower to the bigots and fear-mongers would be un-American.
Some are not:
governor goofy we already have plenty of taxi drivers here keep syrians out what they hey like them so much move over there governor goofy you babbling tax monger
 My condolences to the poor people who have to put up with this ass as your Governor. He is completely insane and cares more about immigrants than his own citizens. Thank God I live in a state where our people come first.
 What in the hell are you thinking?? We have enough trash in Minnesota as it is!!!! We ALL say NO MORE!!!!!!!
  Maybe all the taxpaying citizens should leave your state, then all that will be left is a welfare state somali ghetto, hell it looks like that now.
 Hey, Dayton. This is the USA. ....Just thought I would remind you. We don't need any "refugees."\
Traitor of the state of Minnesota and its people I hope you get voted out and in the least when these so called refugees I pray you are one of first that gets it when they start killing.
I posted a comment, commending Governor Dayton on his decision, and two of the responses I received were...interesting. This is a screenshot of that thread:


First, Lee Alberts. With his rebel flag profile picture. Whenever I see a rebel flag on the back of a car or truck in Minnesota, I resist the urge to give the owner of said vehicle a history lesson about how we live in the Northern portion of the country, and while the North was not blameless or sinless when it came to slavery, the North FOUGHT THE SOUTH and won. Anyway, back to Mr. Alberts. On his Facebook page, Mr. Alberts refers to President Obama as "Obozo," has numerous memes insulting and denigrating Hillary Clinton, including one that puts her in black face, and a cartoon of President Obama with a rope around his neck. 

By the way, we would welcome a Syrian family into our home with open arms.

Now, James Johnson, the classy fellow who called me a "Muslim bitch." Mr. Johnson's Facebook page is a veritable shrine to Pamela Geller, Donald Trump, conservative click bait sites, and hate. A lot of hate. He also shares quite a bit from a page called AAAA. The "long description" of AAAA, from their own page:
We are Anti Incompetence, Anti Corruption, Pro America. We must unite as Americans to protect our sacred foundation......The Constitution. Without it we are only slaves. Please help enlighten the ones who are taken in by the lies of the corrupt politicians in our government. Help keep America American.
Can I be a bitch? Oh hell yes I can, especially when some asshole from Burnsville attacks me for telling the truth. From The Washington Post:
Perhaps one of the most persuasive arguments against equating refugees with terrorists is simple: It's exactly what the Islamic State wants.The very same refugees entering Europe are often the very same civilians who face the indiscriminate violence and cruel injustice in lands controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (though, it should be noted, many in Syria are also threatened by the brutal actions of the Syrian government). Globally, studies have shown that Muslims tend to make up the largest proportion of terror victims, with countries such as Syria and Iraq registering the highest toll.If Muslim refugees come to Europe and are welcomed, it deeply undercuts the Islamic State's legitimacy. Aaron Zelin, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has helpfully catalogued some of the Islamic State's messages on the refugees pouring into Europe from the Middle East. The messages give the impression of deep discomfort and even jealousy that the Muslim population the Islamic State so covets for its self-proclaimed "caliphate" would rather live in "infidel" Western lands.
All these hateful, bigoted people, like James Johnson and Lee Alberts, like the governors and right-wing politicians and pundits calling for a ban on refugees in a country built by immigrants and refugees, are helping ISIS. When countries refuse sanctuary to people fleeing war and terror, we embolden those waging war and terror. ISIS can take all of this hate and use it to recruit. "See," they will say, "they hate you because you are Muslim, because you worship Mohammed. This is why they must be punished." 

If we do not give in to fear and hatred, if we stand together and, using the current vetting processes we have, continue welcoming refugees, we are telling ISIS they have no power. A French father told his son "They've got guns, but we have flowers."

There is power in peace. There is power in standing up to terrorists by being exactly the opposite of what they want us to be. There is no power in supporting hate and fear and violence. That is precisely what ISIS wants: they want us afraid of "the other," they want us turning on our neighbors, they want us divided. 

They want a stranger on the internet so angry, he calls another stranger a "Muslim bitch."

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Joshua Feuerstein vs Starbucks

Image from Starbucks.com

Starbucks rolled out their annual holiday cups a few days ago, and Oh. My. God. You'd think Starbucks had changed the recipe for Peppermint Mocha to Peppermint Baby Parts With A Sprinkle Of The Ground-Up Femur Of Jesus. The asshat in charge of the War on Christmas™ 2016 battle against overpriced coffee is a guy named Joshua Feurerstein. Or, as he is being called around our house, "that douche."

Joshua Feuerstein decided that he desperately needed a video to go viral, probably to pay for another Cartier watch, so he took his sanctimonious right-wing Christianity, and his GUN, to a local Starbucks. Where he suddenly realized Starbucks had taken the "Christ out of Christmas!" Holy wise men, how dare they? Obviously, every other year, Starbucks' cups were plastered with the face of Jesus, the star of Bethlehem, perhaps the stable where Jesus was born. Well, no. Snowflakes, yes. Poinsettia flowers, yes. Modern renderings of ornaments, yes. But no Jesus, no star, no stable. 

This raises the question: how exactly did Starbucks take the Christ out of Christmas for 2015, when Christ was never part of the Starbucks holiday experience in the first place? Donald Trump has even jumped on the red cups bandwagon, pondering if a boycott of Starbucks might be the way to go:
I have one of the most successful Starbucks in Trump Tower. Maybe we should boycott Starbucks? I don't know. Seriously, I don't care. By the way, that's the end of that lease but who cares. (source)
Cups. This is all about cups, and some wanker's desire for publicity. No, not Trump, Feuerstein. From what I have gleaned in two days of researching Joshua, he's a hot mess of narcissism. He begged for $20,000 in order to buy a new video camera, but still makes videos using his phone. No one knows what Joshua did with the $7,000 he raised begging on the internet for said camera. 

Oh, and Joshua Feuerstein's brilliant "boycott" plan? Go into Starbucks, order a beverage, and when they ask your name, reply "Merry Christmas." Thus forcing the employee who brings your coffee to the counter to call out "Merry Christmas." Someone should tell Joshua it's not a boycott if you're still giving the company money.

To their credit, many Christians are telling Joshua Feuerstein to shut up. Comments on his Facebook page are rife with people calling him out on his stupidity, comments like:
Oh dear God. It's a CUP one that NEVER said Merry Christmas by the way...how about you skip your mocha choco latte and feed a family instead?
This is getting ridiculous! They NEVER had merry Christmas on the cups to begin with!! They DO have a Christmas blend coffee though,which says CHRISTMAS on the bag or box!!! Get a grip people!!!
I'm a Christian. And this is just ridiculous! I'm not sure we serve the same God....by the way you encourage people to be arrogant. It's the LOVE of God that draws people to Him. Not this.....this breaks my heart....makes me nauseous...all this over a red cup! Really?? And just because people have viewed it does not mean they agree.
Real talk: 
I can confidently say that Jesus doesn't give two shits about what is or isn't on your Starbucks red coffee cup...so just stop it. Right now. 
He'd actually much rather you give that money you spent on that Starbucks to your hungry neighbor, however.
I think Joshua Feuerstein should consider himself lucky he can afford Starbucks. There are many people who cannot. There are many people who cannot afford clothes, or food, or a home, or medical treatment, but to Joshua, it's those damn cups that Jesus cares about. If Joshua Feuerstein wants to truly put the Christ back in Christmas, maybe he should stop begging people to "share if you care!" on everything he posts, stop ranting about cups, and donate some time and/or money to a local homeless shelter.  

If you shop at Starbucks, keep an eye out for their Christmas blend coffee, their Christmas gift cards, their Christmas music, and their Advent calendar. Because nothing says "we hate Christmas" more than selling an Advent calendar. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ben Carson wants to overturn Roe v. Wade


A few years ago, my husband and I were discussing the right wing, and I said they were going to try and overturn Roe v. Wade. My husband disagreed, because, as he put it, that would be incredibly difficult. So you can imagine his utter shock at the news that GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson recently stated he wants to do exactly that.

Simply put, Roe v. Wade made abortion safe and legal. Prior to Roe v. Wade, women who needed an abortion were forced to visit questionable clinics and doctors, doctors who performed the procedure could be arrested, and women died. Actress Polly Bergen had an illegal abortion that left her infertile and nearly ended her life:
Someone gave me the phone number of a person who did abortions and I made the arrangements. I borrowed about $300 from my roommate and went alone to a dirty, run-down bungalow in a dangerous neighborhood in east Los Angeles. A greasy looking man came to the door and asked for the money as soon as I walked in. He told me to take off all my clothes except my blouse; there was a towel to wrap around myself. I got up on a cold metal kitchen table. He performed a procedure, using something sharp. He didn’t give me anything for the pain — he just did it. He said that he had packed me with some gauze, that I should expect some cramping, and that I would be fine. I left. (source)
A cold, metal kitchen table in a run-down bungalow. Dr. Daniel Mishell, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, remembers what it was like before Roe v. Wade:
Dr. Daniel Mishell is now professor and chairman of the ob-gyn department at the Keck School of Medicine at USC. In the years before Roe vs. Wade, he was a resident at Harbor General Hospital near Torrance and later at what is now County-USC hospital.The women he treated "were the sickest patients, I'll tell you that, because of what they did and the infections they got" -- appalling infections like gas gangrene, which killed tissue and sometimes the patient. "We had ladies who got so infected they went in shock and their kidneys shut down. A lot of them did die."
At any one time, 15 or 20 women lay in the county hospital septic abortion ward, an additional half a dozen at Harbor. They were too sick to talk, but Mishell knew the common thread: usually unmarried and abandoned by the man, uniformly, suicidally desperate.
They jabbed into their uteruses with knitting needles and coat hangers, which Mishell sometimes found still inside them. They stuck in bicycle pump nozzles, sometimes sending a fatal burst of air to the heart. They'd try to insert chemicals -- drain cleaner, fertilizer, radiator-flush -- and miss the cervix, corrode an artery and bleed to death. Mishell once put a catheter into a woman's bladder and "got a tablespoon of motor oil."
"I'm telling you, it was really an awful situation. It touched me because I'd see young, [otherwise] healthy women in their 20s die from the consequences of an infected nonsterile abortion. Women would do anything to get rid of unwanted pregnancies. They'd risk their lives. It was a different world, I'll tell you."
(Why didn't they just get birth control, you wonder. Because some state laws still defined contraception as "obscene," and not until 1965 -- in living memory of some of you reading this -- did the Supreme Court say contraceptives were legal for married couples. The unmarried didn't get that right until 1972.)
The women Mishell treated were poor working women. The rich had other means of breaking the laws against abortion, with doctors as discreet as they were expensive. Mishell spent 1961 working in Sweden, and remembers frequent calls from colleagues back home wanting to send their pregnant, prosperous patients over to get abortions.
When people like Ben Carson say they want to overturn Roe v. Wade, this is what they want. Women will not stop getting abortions. What they will do is end up on a cold, metal table, with a person standing over them who may or may not have medical training. Women will become septic, end up in hospitals, die. They will be rendered infertile. 

Overturning Roe v. Wade has nothing to do with preserving life. Many conservatives view women with contempt, and women who need an abortion as whores, trollops, sinners. Remember, the right wing desperately tried to redefine rape, and quite a few of them oppose abortion exemptions for rape and incest. Louie Gohmert told a woman who aborted her brain-dead fetus after 20 weeks she should have carried that fetus to term, "just in case."

Conservatives don't care if women die. Conservatives don't really care about children; if they did, they wouldn't continue to call for massive cuts to social programs that help families. This is about power. And if someone like Ben Carson becomes president in 2016, they will exercise their power to nominate judges to the Supreme Court who share their vision. 

If Ben Carson was truly pro-life, he would realize abortion must remain safe and legal. Overturning Roe v. Wade will not end abortion; Dr. Mishell's experiences are proof of that. What it will end is the ability of low-income women to receive a safe medical procedure. In reality, this is just another attempt by conservatives to punish and shame the poor.

In the end, it's up to us. Will we protect women and families from the sadistic idealism of conservatives, or will we be silent? If abortion is made illegal, women will die. Women will be rendered infertile. How is that pro-life? Use your voice, and your vote, to stand up for what is right. Visit the following links to find out you can help.

NARAL

Planned Parenthood

Emily's List


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Could "gun nuts" have Paranoid Personality Disorder?



First, a disclaimer. A "gun nut" is not a responsible gun owner. There are millions of men and women in this country who are responsible gun owners. People like my friend, Manny, who owns firearms, or my husband, who was a gun collector. Responsible gun owners overwhelmingly support universal background checks, while "gun nuts" see any change to current gun laws as some sort of conspiracy. This article is not about responsible gun owners.

If you have engaged with a "gun nut" online, odds are, you have experienced confusion, frustration, and perhaps, fear. Fear for your own safety, and the safety for the "gun nut" and his or her family. I know many people who have braved the internet in support of stricter gun legislation, only to find themselves at the receiving end of rape and death threats, threats against their families, even threats against babies and children. The screenshot to the left is of a threat sent to Chad McDonald, a writer and activist. This all begs the question: Could "gun nuts" suffer from Paranoid Personality Disorder?

The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is the book used by mental health professionals when diagnosing any mental illness. This is where I began my search for an explanation of "gun nuts" and their behavior. Several entries caught my attention, but Paranoid Personality Disorder best matched the experiences so many of us have had when dealing with "gun nuts." From the DSM:
PPD (Paranoid Personality Disorder) is a DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition), diagnosis assigned to individuals who have a pervasive, persistent, and enduring mistrust of others, and a profoundly cynical view of others and the world (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
A pervasive, persistent, and enduring mistrust of others. When "gun nuts" are confronted with the fact that no one is trying to overturn the Second Amendment, they don't believe it. Any change to any gun laws is an attack on their rights; nothing you say or do will change their mind. Some of the criteria for PPD includes a belief others are lying without any proof, interpreting benign remarks as attacks, and holding grudges.(source)

But does this explain the violence? Look at that screenshot again. Mr. Marchus, a "gun nut," immediately begins threatening Chad McDonald's infant when confronted with a view different than his own. Here another of Mr. Marchus's comments:


Does Mr. Marchus seem stable, or does he seem violent? You could argue the "lol" on the comment about Chad's baby, combined with the smiley face at the end of the comment above, indicate some sort of sociopathic disorder, and you might be right. However, violence can be part of Paranoid Personality Disorder. From No Bullying.com:
The main symptoms of PPD are not merely that they do not like people, but that they do not trust anyone They do not trust facts. They do not confide in anyone. They dwell abnormally long on past problems with people and may plot revenge. They do not accept what anyone tells them. They are incredibly jealous and easily hurt. They do not accept any form of criticism. They are always in the right and woe betide anyone who tells them otherwise.
Sometimes people with PPD can turn violent. They think they are just protecting themselves, but this is small comfort to anyone at the receiving end of such an attack. Anyone living with a person suffering from PPD must be able to defend themselves, have a place to run to if necessary and be vigilant for signs of impending violence, advises Dr. Stuart C. Yudovsky, author of Fatal Flaws: Navigating Destructive Relationships With People With Disorders of Personality and Character (American Psychiatric Association; 2007.)
After any mass shooting, there is an inevitable backlash against the mentally ill. Those who attack mental illness often have no idea that statistically, mentally ill people are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators. There is a difference, however, between mental illness and personality disorders, like PPD:
Unlike clinical syndromes, personality disorders have a life-long pattern. People with personality disorders are more likely to develop a number of clinical syndromes, such as depression, anxiety, and misuse disorder.
Furthermore, the symptoms of clinical syndromes are increased with the comorbidity of a personality disorder, and for this reason, they can be seen as risk factors for the development of clinical syndromes.
Clinical syndromes are thought to have a later onset than personality disorders, and both psychological and medical treatments are effective in the treatment of clinical syndromes in contrast to personality disorders, where the symptoms associated with the disorders are treated, and not the disorder itself. (source)
Is it possible that some "gun nuts" may have Paranoid Personality Disorder? Given how distrusting they are, how easily they believe that any idea of saner gun legislation is an attempt to take all the guns, and how quickly they turn to violent language, it is a definite possibility. 

There is a satirical joke about how the people who hate better gun laws the most probably couldn't pass a background check. Learning what I have about PPD, and having my life threatened by quite a few "gun nuts," I wonder if that joke isn't closer to the truth than many of us would like to believe. Could the men who threaten the brave women of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America with rape and murder on a daily basis suffer from PPD? Or Mr. Marchus, the man who threatened to shoot Chad McDonald, and threatened the life of an infant? Or the man who, a few years ago, sent me a message on social media, telling me he was coming to my house to shoot and kill my entire family? 

Perhaps it's not the depressed, or the anxious, or the schizophrenic we need to fear. Perhaps it's the "gun nuts."