Catching Up, Probably a Bit TL;DR

One of the reasons I departed reality for Discworld was the tremendous amount of hatred floating around the internet and our society in general. Now that I have to leave Discworld and the wonderful characters of Sir Terry’s creation behind (*sniff*sniff*), I shall catch up on current events.

(With one quick addendum to my last post. I had forgotten that while the Rincewind novels are not particularly deep, but they are fall-out-of-your-bed-laughing funny.)

Anyway, on to more serious subjects:

Xenophobia

I have been completely disgusted by the virulent racism and xenophobia displayed by American citizens during the Syrian refugee crisis. They are not even coming to our shores yet and Americans are going completely ape-shit. Going beyond the sheer ignorance many display in having no understanding of the situation in Syria, (which is these people are trying to escape being caught between two groups, the Syrian Government and ISIS, who are completing for “The Worst Human Rights Abuses of the Decade” award), the constant refrains of “They’re  all terrorists! They all hate Western society and want to destroy it. They’re all freeloaders,” basically everything I observed a year ago only worse, proves that the United States is seriously at risk of become the new Nazi state, complete with a violent hatred towards a particular religious/ethnic group.

9/11

It’s funny how we never mark the anniversaries of the Oklahoma City Bombing, or the destruction of the affluent African American community in Tulsa to the point it was bombed by the military, or the massacres of Sandy Creek or Wounded Knee, or the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

But we have a national celebration of victimization every September 11th while the media constantly builds up the image of Muslims as a constant threat to America, whether they be nations like Iran, terrorist groups or even school kids.

3,000 people died in a horrific attack. But in the face of that assault on American ideals, American ideals failed. We fell to the devils of our nature, giving up our civil liberties in fear and falling into the most hysterical xenophobia I have ever seen in this nation. If 20 years ago you had asked me if I would ever see Americans talking with such venomous hatred about 1.6 billion people. I would have said no. America is a nation of immigrants. It has was part of what makes is strong and helped us rise to become a world power in a relatively short period of time.

And now we have become this.

So I can’t “celebrate” 9/11. I can only mourn it with shame.

Iran Deal

No, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good deal. People would know that if they bothered to read anything about it rather than listening right wing propaganda. And no, the Iranians will not be “inspecting themselves.” *rolls eyes*

Kim Davis

Constitution, Amendment 14, Section 1:  All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

That is why all the gay marriage bans are being overturned: They are unConstitutional. SCOTUS is not “making law.” It’s just pointing at that Amendment.

(Proud to be a Maine Native, which was one of three states in the U.S. that gained marriage equality by popular vote.)

Davis was also in violation of Kentucky statue 11a.020.

So Kim, this has nothing to do with your personal beliefs. You are free to worship as you please on your own time. You are free to protest whatever causes you want on our own time. But in that office as a representative of the state, you *must* uphold the law. Especially after being ordered to by four courts.

So do your obscenely overpaid job you bigoted attention whore.

And that is another thing that struck me: Kim Davis worked in the Country Clerks office under her mother for 24 years. And then Kim, after barely winning an election, took over her mother’s post. Now Kim’s son is working in the same office, probably being groomed to take over from her. The Rowan County Clerks office has become the Family’s personal fiefdom.

Part of the problem that Kentucky voters should consider are the detrimental effects of nepotism on their government. And how the salaries are set. It’s ridiculous a county clerk is making twice the county sheriff and justice are.

But what was really troubling were the Tea Party politicians, including elected officials, that flocked to Davis’ cause, displaying their ignorance of the Constitution and how our government works.

The Republican Party Clown Car

Trump is a joke. No matter how popular he is, Republican National Committee is never going to put him up as a presidential candidate. In alienating Latinos, he has put the typically Republican electoral strongholds of Texas and Arizona at risk. He has alienated women. He has alienated Veterans. (At least the ones that are not involved in a shady “charity” and can’t afford $1,000.00 a plate dinners.)

Plus the multiple bankruptcies, lies about his income and the repeated insinuations that he would like to fuck his daughter. And he’s a freakin’ reality TV star for chrissakes! No. It’s not going to happen.

So he speaks his mind? So does the schizophrenic drunk on the bus. BFD.

Trump is the sideshow. The misdirection.

So is Carson, a man with no political experience (in fact the majority of the current GOP field do not have any political experience, they’re business owners and ministers) who repeatedly makes himself look like a fool pandering to the far right base and displaying no knowledge of how the government works. He’s there so the Republicans can say, “Look, we’re not racists. We have an utterly unqualified and ridiculous black candidate we can lead around by the nose.”

Ditto Carly Fionna. Really GOP? All the women you could have chose, and you stick *her* in the line up?

Jeb Bush also has not made a great show of things by choosing family loyalty over hindsight, or even history. A lot of people have also not forgotten how he used the Florida government to attempt to override the courts and interfere in a family medical choice in the Terri Shiavo case. That abuse of government power is a terrifying precedent.

No, the real GOP threat is one of the candidates currently in the background and who it will be depends on the RNC breaking the Tea Party’s hold over them.

With Perry and Walker gone (thank the Gods), if the Tea Party retains control, it’s going to come down to Rand Paul or Ted Cruz. Cruz is more popular among the far right, but he scares the crap out of the middle because he is not afraid to use the entire government as his personal ball to take home when he doesn’t get his way. But while Paul is a Tea Party candidate, his intelligence (and he is smart) and cohesive ideology makes him more likely to cross the boundary to pick up some of the moderate vote.

If the GOP can break the Tea Party hold and wants to strike at the Middle then I would guess Chris Christie. “Bridge-gate” aside, Christie has shown himself able to work with the Democrats rather than throwing a tantrum and kicking people out of his party just because they dared cross the aisle to keep the government running (see: Eric Cantor).

However, Cantor’s recent reception when he came out in favor of Jeb Bush suggests the Tea Party’s claws are in deep. They view bipartisanship and working with the other side as weakness. They don’t want governance, they want rulership.

On the Democrat side, I am an active Bernie Sanders supporter. I am an actual liberal (when I lived in California, I belonged to the Green Party which is not an option here in NC) and Sanders is a candidate that represents my ideology and interests rather than forcing me to vote for the “lesser of two evils” of the Democrats, who are actually slightly right of center (look at Obama and Clinton’s ties to big business).

If we end up with a Bush vs. Clinton, we get four to eight more years of the same. If we end up with a Paul vs. Sanders, it will open the dialog of who America is going to be moving forward into the 21st century. Both candidates have a very cohesive and diametrically opposed set of political and social ideals that actually fit within Constitutional framework of this nation. They are both experienced and actually know what they are talking about. That is a culturally necessary discussion that has to take place beyond social media and media soundbites.

The risk is that it could further polarize this country, pushing it towards the rupture I can see coming within the next 20 years. The U.S. has not been this polarized since the Civil War, and I can see some sort of upheaval on the horizon.

Not a full blown secession. Frankly the states that want to secede (the South again) are too poor to support themselves and rely on federal money. They think that because there are so many military bases down there, and much of the military is conservative, they will automatically have the military. The military swears to uphold the Constitution, not the Republican party. While they may get some, I think a lot of personnel would have serious doubts about becoming traitors. Also those bases and all their equipment is Federally owned. So secessionists could kiss all that good bye. Nor do they have the organized and well-trained militia the antebellum South had.

So they would be seriously screwed if they tried to secede.

But on the course we are now, we are heading for a major upheaval along both idealistic and class lines as the middle class vanishes into the “working poor” exploited by the large corporations and the uber-wealthy in order to become even more obscenely rich than they are now.

We can’t keep going like this. Something has to change or something has to break.

Speaking of the Clown Car and the Constitution

Article VI, Paragraph 3: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

So not only was Dr. Carson wrong (“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation“), so was bobby Jindal (“If you can find me a Muslim candidate who is a Republican, who will fight hard to protect religious liberty, who will respect the Judeo-Christian heritage of America, who will be committed to destroying ISIS and radical Islam, who will condemn cultures that treat women as second class citizens and who will place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution.”)

The cognitive dissonance in Jindal’s statement (uphold “religious freedom,” so long as it is christian religious freedom) would be astounding if it was not so common. It’s doesn’t even freaking make sense to ask someone of one religion to take an oath on the holy book of another religion.

Did Jindal think a lobotomy was required to run for the presidency or something?

But as observed by others, there is no law that demands any elected official swear on a Bible. In fact members of Congress are not sworn in any holy book but simply raise their right hands. At the federal level, only the President is sworn on in a Bible. But that is simply custom, not law as it would be unConstitutional. As someone once observed, “You can be sworn on the Sport Illustrated Swimsuit issue if you wanted.”

A Woman’s Right to Choose…Anything

Woman Refused Medically-Recommended Tubal Ligation At Catholic Hospital

When she became pregnant three years ago, hers was treated as a high-risk pregnancy. The tumor required that she deliver via Caesarean section while fully anesthetized, rather than under partial anesthesia that numbs the lower body, which is more common.

When she became pregnant with her third child, a girl, she and her husband were elated, she said. But a maternal-fetal-medicine specialist told them earlier this spring that Mann should undergo tubal ligation to ensure that this would be her last child.

“You know, it’s never easy to hear that. But I have accepted it,” said Mann, who has two other children. “I talked it over with my husband. We want me to be around. That’s the biggest thing.”

Mann had heard that Genesys had changed its policies last year and that the tubal ligation would have to be specially requested. Indeed, an Oct. 1, 2014, memo to staff, provided to The Washington Post by the ACLU, said the hospital would halt all planned sterilizations to “strengthen our alignment with the Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives.”

The hospital had indicated it would make some exceptions to the policy for medical reasons, so Mann requested one in May. But early this month, her doctor informed her that the hospital had said no.

I think I have told this story before, but this is similar to what my mother went through. My sister was an “Oops” of failed birth control. My mother was 40. The delivery was dangerous for both of them, requiring a C-setion. As they were waitin for dad to arrive and discussing the surgery, my mother asked, “While you are in there, could you *snip*snip.*

“I’m sorry, I will need your husbands approval for that.”

My mother said she damn near climbed off the bed and throttled him.

My father arrived in time and of course signed off on it. He was not going to put Mom through that again and four was plenty of mouths to feed.

But here is a woman, 40 years old, having her fourth child, and she is still not allowed to make choices about her own body.

This was in 1979.

This is what the Religious Right wants to drag us back to. That’s why they want to defund Planned parenthood. It’s not just about abortions, which is a minor part of the services they provide. It’s about limiting access to birth control. (As seen by the attacks on Sandra Fluke when she spoke out about the need for insurance to cover birth control and the Hobby Lobby case.) It’s about controlling women’s bodies.

And finally…

The Douchebags of Asheville, North Carolina

A friend of mine from overseas is considering visiting me. I thought Asheville would be a nice place to take her. Asheville is North Carolina’s version of Austin, TX: It’s the artistic, “hippy” city in a sea of conservatism.

Then this broke: Coffee and Misogyny.

*headdesk*

If you have the stomach for it, the actual podcasts (if they are still up) and tweets are vile. The way they discuss women borders of sociopathic. Just a complete disregard for them as humans worthy of basic human respect. And a laughing over what is legally rape with a hospitalized, drugged up woman?

Are you fucking kidding me?

And given the violence claimed in some of the sexual encounters, I worry if it was something that was escalating.

If you go to the “Red Pill” reddit page you find the same MRA culture that helped to  produce Elliot Rodgers. I have run into these individuals in many places. Especially where there is a thread about a rape story in the news. They are the first ones pulling the “Bitches be lyin!” accusation. MRA types refuse to acknowledge any type of rape exists accept stranger assault rape. (That is the minority of rape cases.) Basically, if a complete stranger doesn’t leap out at you from the bushes, you were never raped. You just had sex and “changed your mind.” To them the vast majority of rape accusations are false and a way to victimize men.

Also not true.

(When presented with these statistics, it’s amazing how many MRAs are suddenly greater experts on the issue than the FBI and Department of Justice.)

And while they bitch about how women “abuse” the accusations of rape, many of them like to get women so hammered or drugged up they can’t possibly legally consent.

But I digress.

To the “Red Pill”/Pick Up Artist/MRA worms:

First of all, the “Alpha/beta male” thing? Women don’t think on those terms. Sure we go through our “Bad Boy stage,” which is usually done by the time we leave college (and have dated one). The “Alpha/beta male” is a guy thing whereby men judge and elevate their ego by degrading other men for acting like decent people.

Know why so many American women find British men hot? It’s not that their cultural gentility makes them seem “beta” or easily controlled. It’s because they project a quietly assured masculinity. They (or at least most of them) don’t need to walk around chest thumping to prove they’re a man.

I met Hugh Laurie, who was the perfect definition of a “gentleman;” a gentle man. But not for one second did I sense he was a pushover.

Secondly, the most successful promiscuous men I have found are the ones that enjoy women as human beings. They like talking with them and spending time with them beyond just having sex with them. They actually *like* women as people. Women tend to respond better to being approached that way rather than as “fuck socks.”

Women who will not sleep with you are not evil or a “bitch” or whatever childishly disgusting names you call them while you are rage-pouting about being rejected. Women who will sleep with you are not suddenly subhuman and the act of having sex with them does not make you a superior human being. Almost every animal on the planet has sex. Why would you think that suddenly makes you so great? (Because given your crap attitude toward women, you idea that sex is about your ego, I doubt you care enough make it fun for them.)  In fact, the fact that you require a woman’s sexual acquiescence to shore up your fragile self worth is a sure sign that the problem isn’t women: It’s you.

Finally (in general), these two felt no inherent regret. They only apologized because they were embarrassed they got caught. While one hopes they will get the intensive therapy obviously required to cure such an ingrained hatred and disregard for half of the human race, I do not hold out much hope.

But the community of Asheville’s outraged response to this shows that twats like these are not what Asheville is about.

…I think that’s everything.

Oh, Welcome Pope Francis. You rock dude.

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Let’s Call Them What They Are

In 2014, the United States faced a growing number, tens of thousands, of unaccompanied children who had been sent from Central American countries by their parents to what they hoped was a safe haven in the United States. Believing in our promise of “freedom” and a safer life, most of them immediately turned themselves into INS upon crossing the border.

What they got was political wrangling and some of the most base xenophobic hatred I have ever seen in this country.

XenophobicBitch

Xenophobic Cunt. Oh for a time machine to ship these people in 1930’s Germany where they would feel so much more at home.

And throughout the crisis, there was one word the media studiously avoided: Refugee. They called these children “illegal immigrants,” but they were really refugees fleeing an unsafe environment in their home country. Why do you think so many came without their parents? Why do you think so many turned themselves in as soon as they got here? They were seeking asylum.

We deported them anyway. As we know some of them returned to their country of origin to die.

Again, the world watches a mass migration of people fleeing a dangerous environment: People fleeing the Syrian Civil War. Fortunately, many countries have opened their borders (as much as they are able) or sent assistance to help these people.

Some of whom paid the ultimate price to try to get to safety.

Syrian boy

To say “This is so wrong” does not encapsulate just how many levels of “wrong” this tragedy is.

But the western media is studiously avoiding using a certain word:

“At least 12 Syrians, including eight children, drowned early Wednesday off the Turkish coast as they attempted to cross the Aegean to reach Greece, the latest deaths at sea in this year’s migrant crisis in Europe.Wall Street Journal, September 2nd, 2015.

The picture, released by a Turkish news agency, is trending worldwide on Twitter under the #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik (“humanity washed ashore”) hashtag.

Thousands of migrants have died this year trying to reach Europe by sea. ~ BBC, September 3rd, 2015

“Abdullah Kurdi said Thursday that the boat’s captain panicked due to high waves and jumped into the sea, leaving him in control of the small craft with his family and other migrants aboard.

‘I took over and started steering. The waves were so high and the boat flipped. I took my wife and my kids in my arms and I realized they were all dead,’ he said. The distraught father added: ‘All I want is to be with my children at the moment.’

He said the small boat, headed for the Greek island of Kos, was overloaded with 12 migrants and the captain, described as a Turkish man. It was only at sea for four minutes before the captain abandoned the craft, Kurdi said.

‘My kids were the most beautiful children in the world, wonderful, they wake me up every morning to play with them. They are all gone now,'” he said.

The powerful photographs of Aylan have sparked fresh debate about the deepening migrant crisis.” ~ Associated Press, September 3rd, 2015

The word missing is “refugees.” “Migrants” are people just trying to find a better job. These people are fleeing the horrors of war for their own and their children’s safety. They’re REFUGEES!

Years ago, no one would have called people fleeing the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia “migrants.” They were refugees.

But if the media actually uses that world, suddenly the emotional picture becomes entirely different. It’s become entirely honest. Suddenly these Syrian families are not “invaders” to our, and other countries taking them in, shores. They are not coming here (or other countries) by choice. They are fleeing Syria because they have no choice. They are human beings in desperate need of our help.

They are refugees. And if we are at all human, we should help them

Ferguson, MO: We Should Be Better Than This…On So Many Levels

Protests Again Roil Ferguson, MO over Michael Brown Shooting

If accounts are true, what the police did to Michael Brown is appalling and inexcusable, and sadly not the first. This is in the immediate wake of the strangulation of Eric Garner by an off duty police officer. And also the “Not Guilty” verdict of George Zimmerman. And the Marissa Alexander case.  And the disgusting displays of xenophobia at our country’s border. And the Supreme Court declaring that racism no longer exists in this country to strike down the Voting Rights Act and within days, states putting Voter I.D. laws in place aimed at disenfranchising minority groups. (The reality of Voter fraud vs number of people who now can’t vote.)

Can you imagine how enraging that must be? To have the government say that your experiences and concerns are not valid, and then to immediately turn around and start down the path of your worst fears?

I am part of the white majority, so I can’t knowledgeably speak of the depth and pervasiveness of racism in this country. To be honest, on this one I feel like I am stumbling around, mostly blind. But it seems pretty damn plain to me it exists. I have to say that living so long in L.A., I got used to an amount of ethnic equality and intermingling. It wasn’t utopia by any means, but people worked together, went to school together and mixed socially with more ease than, say, the South where I am now.

(And moving to the more socially segregated South, where I was asked “Do you have a problem with racial jokes?” as part of a job interview, was a shock.)

But even in Los Angeles, I don’t think I and many WASP types really get the different American cultural experiences of the minorities in our society and how that effects their world view. While there, I was speaking with a friend of mine who was black about my trip to NYC and how seeing the Statue of Liberty was one of the greatest moments of heart-swelling patriotism in my life. To me, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free” was the essence of what the U.S.A. was about.

There was quiet moment.

“Well, my people had a different experience of coming to this country.” And she told me of the slave markets that you can still go and see in South Carolina. She wasn’t being angry, uptight or oversensitive. She was just trying to make me understand that the Ellis Island experience was not the universal one for people who came to this country, that she had a slightly different cultural context.

I’m not saying that we need to overcompensate with guilt, or maybe we do. That is a worthy topic of discussion as America has a lot of AmerIndian (which considering their conditions now is an imperative discussion as well), African American, Asian American, Latino American etc. historical blood on its hands.  But at the very least we need to be aware that people in American subcultures have different perceptions and different experiences. We do not need to single them out. They are still American, part of our rich cultural fabric, but we need understand that the threads of their experiences are slightly different.

There is racism in our society. Some police departments, certainly some officers, do racially profile and have acted with unwarranted violence. Our justice system is often too ready to convict members of a minority group and sentence them unjustly. Even the highest court in the land is directly damaging their essential rights as Americans.

The economic situation in many of these cities, the pressure on the Middle Class and the number of people now slipping below it, the growing difficulties hauling oneself above the poverty line, has to have an effect as well.

There are legitimate reasons for these people’s anger that need to be addressed in a systemic way.

However, rioting is not only illegal, it’s stupid. It does nothing but damage property, invite injury and makes racists’ arguments for them. It solves nothing, but reinforces the other side. On that score, the African American community has to do better.

But the police response to the peaceful protests is completely out of line as well.

We all have to do better.