AMERICAblog NewsAMERICAblog News http://americablog.com A great nation deserves the truth // One of America's top progressive sites for news and opinion Thu, 30 Jun 2016 21:20:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 Trump looking into banning Muslims from TSA http://americablog.com/2016/06/trump-looking-banning-muslims-tsa.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/trump-looking-banning-muslims-tsa.html#comments Thu, 30 Jun 2016 21:16:11 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138229 In response to a racist question from an audience member during a speech in New Hampshire today, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said that he was “looking into” banning Muslims from holding jobs in the US government’s Transportation Security Agency (TSA).

The TSA, among other things, runs security screenings at America’s airports.

The woman asking the question complained about “all these heebee-jabees they wear at TSA.” And suggested that we should hire veterans instead. Her comment about “heebee-jabees” is a reference to the hijab, a head scarf that some Muslim women wear.

Women wearing hijabs, via Shutterstock.

Women wearing hijabs, via Shutterstock.

Here’s the transcript, video below:

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Why aren’t we putting our retirees, our military retirees on that border, or in TSA. Get rid of all these heebee-jabees they wear at TSA. I’ve seen them myself. We need the veterans back in there to take… they fought for this country and defended it, they’ll still do it.

TRUMP: You know, we are looking at that.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that a woman with a hijab could also be a US vet. There are American Muslims.

Earlier in the campaign, Trump had promised to ban Muslims from entering the United States. He only recently has begun to backtrack from that promise.

Trump had also weighed in several months ago about Muslim women who wear burqas. Trump expressed support for burqas, saying among other things that women wear them so they won’t have to put on make-up.

But this latest statement, that Trump is looking into banning Muslims from working for TSA, is sure to reignite charges that Trump is running a racist campaign.

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BREAKING: Pentagon drops ban on transgender troops http://americablog.com/2016/06/breaking-pentagon-drops-ban-transgender-troops.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/breaking-pentagon-drops-ban-transgender-troops.html#comments Thu, 30 Jun 2016 17:56:30 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138213 Defense Secretary Ash Carter just went on TV to announce that the Pentagon is lifting its ban on transgender troops.

“I am announcing today that we are ending the ban on trangender-Americans in the United States military,” Carter said today at a press conference at the Pentagon. “Effective immediately, transgender-Americans may serve openly, and they can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military just for being transgender.”

You’ll recall that it was only a few years ago that the Pentagon also dropped its ban on gay troops, when Congress repealed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

Carter said that approximately 4,000 to 11,000 troops, including reserves, are transgender.

Lifting the gay ban was big news, and the Republicans did all they could to block it. It remains to be seen if the Republicans in Congress do the same with lifting the trans ban.

The LGBT community has made remarkable advances during the Obama administration, with help from Secretary Clinton. And the fight for trans civil rights in particular have now accelerated at an astounding pace. In addition to lifting the military’s trans ban, we also saw the overwhelmingly negative response from the business community to North Carolina’s recent effort to ban trans people from public bathrooms.

The North Carolina GOP is now frantically trying to amend the legislation in an effort to stave off the NBA pulling next year’s all-star game from the state. So far, the GOP proposals have fallen woefully short.

It’s a new day for trans rights in America.

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Brexit: The triumph of passion over reason http://americablog.com/2016/06/brexit-triumph-passion-reason.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/brexit-triumph-passion-reason.html#comments Wed, 29 Jun 2016 14:51:20 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138150 Brexit. All signs pointed to “Remain.” While one side argued that it would be a domestic economic catastrophe if the United Kingdom were to leave the European Union (EU), the other stoked populist (racist) concerns about the necessity of closing the UK borders to EU migrants.

In the end, swathes of voters from across the political spectrum voted last Thursday to leave the EU — created as a successor to the post-World War II European Economic Community — and in doing so, rejected its single market and open borders.

Why did the Brexit voters defy the experts?

The question remains: Why?

Why, when a bevy of international experts expressed their fears of a possible Brexit, over half of Britons didn’t listen? Why, despite the “leave” camp having its best arguments repeatedly debunked, would anyone fail to deduce the benefits of EU membership?

LONDON, UK - JUNE 28, 2016 British citizens protest in Trafalgar Square against the referendum results the UK leaving the EU. melis / Shutterstock.com

LONDON, UK – JUNE 28, 2016 British citizens protest in Trafalgar Square against the referendum results the UK leaving the EU. melis / Shutterstock.com

Seduced by their self-proclaimed dominion over the realm of reason, pro-integrationists (the “remain” camp) neglected the historical importance of passion. Passion and reason are as diametrically opposed as the chaos and order they birth. Democratic governance draws its legitimacy from its supposed rationality; the Age of Enlightenment from which modern democracy developed is often dubbed the Age of Reason. Yet democracy, by virtue of its populist nature, makes the state in turbulent times little more than a mechanism for manifesting public passion. As James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper No. 10, “the instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils, have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished.”  The Founding Fathers, well aware of the democratic capacity for facilitating base urges, constructed the American republic so as to reduce public influence on the political process.

Does Brexit prove that democracy is a danger to the republic?

In calling for a Brexit referendum, British Prime Minister David Cameron introduced the disease of “democracy” into the otherwise aristocratic field of international organizations. Much has been made of the anti-intellectual, anti-internationalist forces at play in the “Leave” camp. Griff Witte in the Washington Post describes the Brexit vote as “a referendum on whether Britain still trusts the people who supposedly know the most about economics, international relations and global security.” Witte cites several instances of elite failure in recent years: the government’s false claims of WMDs in Iraq, the academy’s total failure to predict the global recession, and the media’s inability to recognize the looming threat of the Trump and Brexit campaigns until they had already grown uncontrollable.

LONDON, UK - JUNE 28, 2016 British citizens protest in Trafalgar Square against the referendum results the UK leaving the EU. melis / Shutterstock.com

LONDON, UK – JUNE 28, 2016 British citizens protest in Trafalgar Square against the referendum results the UK leaving the EU. melis / Shutterstock.com

With such empirical failure, how can one trust economists’ predictions of calamity when the last calamity went unpredicted? How can one put faith in promises made by the same breed of politician — professional, articulate, made-for-TV — as those who lied the nation into crisis after crisis, decade after decade? The caricature of the “Leave” voter bears a strong resemblance to the caricature of the Trump voter; old, white, stubborn and angry. We are led to believe that the only difference between the malcontents and the rest of us “normal folks” is that they have abandoned reason and empirical fact in favor of delusion. But have they?

Were it the case that over fifty percent of the British population was hopelessly unreasonable, it would be foolish to assume the division between the rational and irrational broke down squarely along Brexit lines. Any attempt to understand “Leave” voters must begin by taking them at their word. Their slogan was, in fact, “Vote Leave. Take Control.” It was a testament to the value of brevity. This simple motto reveals the motive underlying every argument in support of leaving the EU.

National sovereignty under assault by continental bureaucrats? Take control.

Shrinking job prospects due to mass migration? Take control.

Feeling betrayed by the institutions of civil religion? Take control.

The Brexperts have been wrong before, and the people know it

Nearly four decades of neoliberal policies — wealth transferred from poor to rich, slashed social programs, privatized public services — served to instill a learned helplessness in entire populations who now saw themselves as rugged individualists struggling to survive by virtue of their own failures.

LONDON, UK - JUNE 28, 2016 British citizens protest in Trafalgar Square against the referendum results the UK leaving the EU. melis / Shutterstock.com

LONDON, UK – JUNE 28, 2016 British citizens protest in Trafalgar Square against the referendum results the UK leaving the EU. melis / Shutterstock.com

But then came the economic crash of 2008, and its subsequent revelations. The bankers responsible not only went unprosecuted, but were bailed out with public money. This proved a watershed moment in the public perception of government. Governance legitimized by reason — in the form of facts and statistics and expert opinions — cannot coexist with the oligarchy that representative democracy breeds. There comes a point when experts must either defy the elites, or manipulate their discipline to justify elite goals. And in field after field, none more so than mainstream economics, the experts have sided with the elites.

Thus in the eyes of the malcontent, expert opinion is merely a vanguard for elite interests. And in an age of dark money as the lifeblood of politics, media consolidation by multibillion dollar corporations, and strict scrutiny for dissident research agendas, the malcontent are right. Blame for the displacement of reason in contemporary political rationality can be laid largely on the backs of the very same academics and journalists who now disparage the unenlightened passion of the Brexiteers.

This fiery desire to seize from experts and elites the control promised them by democracy is what led “Leave” voters to victory. Lambasted though they are for their abandonment of reason, there is a logic which governs the leavers indisputably illogical choice. And with all the facts and figures on their side, still the “Stay” supporters lost. This is less a repudiation of their stance than it is proof their methods have failed. Reasoned discourse may still have its place, but in aiming to change minds the secular universalists have surrendered to zealots and nationalists in the battle for the people’s hearts.

What remains for the integrationists, for those who still dream of a unified Europe or even a unified world, is to formulate an argument that demands no recourse to external fact. Only when integration, liberation, and equality are pursued not as a rational economic agenda but rather a passionate political ideal can the forces of tolerance and togetherness truly triumph in the battle against bigotry and greed.

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NC GOP to trans: Get a sex change, then you can pee http://americablog.com/2016/06/north-carolina-trans-bathroom-law-fix.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/north-carolina-trans-bathroom-law-fix.html#comments Tue, 28 Jun 2016 21:06:35 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138172 As part of its quest to take the Republican party back to the Middle Ages, North Carolina Republicans have offered a “fix” for their anti-transgender bathroom law. And sadly, it’s just as bad as the problem it’s trying to solve.

You’ll recall that HB2, the offending law, requires people in North Carolina to use the public bathroom that corresponds to the gender listed on their birth certificate.

In response to this absurd requirement to, in essence, police the papers of everyone entering public bathrooms in North Carolina, all hell broke loose. The NBA threatened to move next year’s all-star game should the discrimination continue. And a large number of companies and celebrities have announced that they’re boycotting the state, including: Ringo Starr, Deutsche Bank, Bruce Springsteen, General Electric, Dow Chemical, Pepsi, Hyatt, HP, Whole Foods, Levi Strauss, Lions Gate, and more.

Asheville, North Carolina, USA - April 2, 2016: Sign about HB2 calling it legislation made in fear and hate at a rally protesting the new NC law that denies rights to those who are gay or transgender. J. Bicking / Shutterstock.com

Asheville, North Carolina, USA – April 2, 2016: Sign about HB2 calling it legislation made in fear and hate at a rally protesting the new NC law that denies rights to those who are gay or transgender. J. Bicking / Shutterstock.com

Then a funny thing happened. North Carolina Republicans, realizing that they’ve committed the greatest self-immolation since the Brexit (does that make this the Trans-it?), decided to amend the law to make it more trans-friendly.

Yeah, not so much.

The current version of the law says that if you’re trans, you go to the bathroom of your birth certificate, period. The new version says if you’re trans, and you’ve had a sex change, you can go to the state and get a certificate of sex reassignment that you can then, presumably, flash to the nanny state as you enter the bathroom.

So, in essence, North Carolina Republicans want trans people to register with the state, like animals.

Putting aside for a moment the fact that this solves nothing — people are still going to get carded every time they try to pee in North Carolina — the “fix” also does nothing for those transgender people who haven’t had a sex reassignment, which is the overwhelming majority. They would still be covered by the new law stating that they can only enter the bathroom that corresponds to their birth certificate.

The “compromise” was immediately shot down by Equality North Carolina and the Human Rights Campaign, as it should be. As Equality North Carolina notes in the press release on the latest “fix”:

Only 33 percent of transgender people actually have gender reassignment surgery. This is due to a variety of factors – including but not limited to cost, age, health and medical needs, and access to skilled providers.

The North Carolina legislature is trying to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic; or to use the local vernacular, put lipstick on a pig. And if I may mix my metaphors, that pig won’t fly.

If North Carolina doesn’t want to lose the all-star game, and a ton more business, they need to outright repeal HB2. Anything less, and the boycott continues.

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Clarence Thomas’ abortion dissent is right-wing dogma masquerading as law http://americablog.com/2016/06/thomass-scotus-abortion-dissent-right-wing-dogma-masquerading-law.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/thomass-scotus-abortion-dissent-right-wing-dogma-masquerading-law.html#comments Tue, 28 Jun 2016 13:00:51 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138161 Yesterday, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) made its first significant ruling on abortion since its 2007 decision on the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

The 5-3 ruling, with conservative Justice Kennedy joining the court’s 4 liberals, struck down state limits on abortion that allegedly benefited women’s health. The court found that the state law “burden[ed] a woman’s right to choose,” without providing sufficient medical benefits in return. In other words, the state law was meant to undermine a woman’s right to an abortion, not to protect anyone’s health.

Though this most recent decision is to be celebrated as a victory for abortion accessibility, the left should take note of Justice Clarence Thomas’s dissent. It’s right-wing dogma masquerading as constitutional law.

Clarence Thomas. Rob Crandall / Shutterstock.com

Clarence Thomas. Rob Crandall / Shutterstock.com

Thomas argues that the SCOTUS majority should not have accepted the case because it is the women-patients rights that are arguably being infringed, not the plaintiff-doctors working in the clinics. He adds, “when the wrong party litigates a case, we end up resolving disputes that make for bad law.” Thomas refuses to acknowledge the doctors as legitimate plaintiffs on behalf of their patients, even when those same doctors have a substantial stake in the case as practitioners of abortion procedures.

Such superficial legal ploys are representative of the remainder of his dissent. Thomas believes that today’s law has given precedent for the court to apply different and logically inconsistent degrees of scrutiny in determining the constitutionality of other policies. The majority he says, has chosen to apply an abnormally low standard in identifying “undue burdens” to prop up women’s right to abortions and legislate from the bench. His judicial philosophy is extraordinarily permissive for states infringing on this constitutional right. He says that the alleged benefits (or lack thereof) of abortion regulations should not be taken into account when determining whether such regulations put an “undue burden” on the right to choose. Thomas then goes even further, saying that in the event of disagreement between the medical community, courts, and states, the states have the responsibility to mediate.

Thomas demonstrates an astounding indifference to the realities faced by women today. Because of a 2013 US Court of Appeals ruling, the number of abortion clinics in Texas halved, vastly extending the distances required for women to travel for an abortion. Impoverished women have had their access to abortion substantially constrained by these restrictions, especially considering how 47% of Americans have trouble finding even an extra $400 to pay for an emergency.

Our finances significantly restrict our access to activities like abortion. Yet Thomas refuses to acknowledge abortion regulations as a burden.

The medical community sees no merit in Texas’ restrictions: The mortality rate for women undergoing abortions is minuscule—0.6 per 100,000 procedures, which is less than childbirth mortality of 8.8 per 100,000 procedures. According to UC San Francisco, abortions result in far fewer minor complications than routine procedures like wisdom tooth removals and tonsillectomies, and only require blood transfusions 0.23% of the time.

By accepting deference to state regulations, despite the dearth of evidence showing that these restrictions are medically necessary, Thomas has essentially argued that states may, and perhaps should, use pseudoscience as a ruse to enact legislation that violates the rights of others. Thomas endorses a world in which the state, and perhaps doctors themselves, are forced to be complicit in the proliferation of lies.

Clarence Thomas makes clear that conservatives are continuing their thinly-veiled culture war, against women and more, under the guise of the law.

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Who was at the Stonewall riots in 1969? http://americablog.com/2016/06/stonewall-riots-1969.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/stonewall-riots-1969.html#comments Sat, 25 Jun 2016 16:34:39 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138153 Who was at the Stonewall riots in 1969? And have “white gay men” stolen the history of Stonewall from trans people and people of color?

For those unaware of what Stonewall is, here is Wikipedia’s succinct description:

“The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay (LGBT) community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. [The police routinely raided gay bars at the time.] They are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States.”

A vigil held outside the Stonewall Inn in NYC to honor the victims of the shooting massacre in Orlando, Florida.

A vigil held outside the Stonewall Inn in NYC to honor the victims of the shooting massacre in Orlando, Florida.

President Obama just this week designated the Stonewall Inn a “national monument.” It’s the first national monument devoted to LGBT history.

I was at a Pride event last year here in NYC, and a few people were angrily demanding that the history of Stonewall be “taken back” from “gay white men” who “stole” it from trans people and people of color. It’s a claim that’s been made before.

Fast forward to today.

Two longtime LGBT leaders/activists, who were at the Stonewall uprisings, one transgender and one lesbian, have just weighed in publicly. Here’s what they witnessed that night.

Trans leader Dana Beyer writes:

“I was there [at the Stonewall Uprising] the second night, too, and the streets were overwhelmingly filled with white men (which included the way I was perceived back then, too).”

Lesbian activist Robin Tyler:

“I was there [at the Stonewall Uprising] the second night. The majority of protesters were white gay men. And a lot of people were very upset about the death of Judy Garland and their grief turned into anger. We talked about it.”

Now, this doesn’t mean that trans people and people of color (or women for that matter) weren’t there too, fighting for all of our rights. As Dana notes, they were — including trans activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. But it does mean that gay white men didn’t steal, or “whitewash,” the history of Stonewall from anyone. Gay white men were there in overwhelming numbers.

We don’t need to rewrite our history in order to honor it. There’s enough suffering for everyone.

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Brexit is what happens when millennials don’t vote http://americablog.com/2016/06/brexit-happens-millennials-dont-vote.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/brexit-happens-millennials-dont-vote.html#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2016 15:55:20 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138128 As you probably know, the United Kingdom voted last night to leave the European Union.

When you look at the numbers, it’s quite fascinating. The youngest voters wanted to stay in wide margins, and the oldest voters wanted to leave.

And that’s the exact opposite of who turned out to vote. Older voters turned out, younger voters did not. So it didn’t matter if the overwhelming majority of millennials preferred to remain in the EU, they simply didn’t vote to express that opinion.

Check out these two tables. First, support for Brexit:

Support for Brexit.

Now, check out who actually turned out to vote — those who wanted to leave, and older voters:

by default 2016-06-24 at 11.33.03 AM by default 2016-06-24 at 11.33.38 AM

The Financial Times has more. FT claims the relationship between age and turnout is “far from clear cut.” Then they post a chart that makes it as clear cut as it can get. Look at that chart. You’ve got two groups — 20 to 38 or so, with lower turnout; and 40 to to 50 with much higher turnout.

brexit-by-age

Then there’s this chart, that shows turnout by age group in each of the last five elections in the UK:

by default 2016-06-24 at 11.08.49 AM

What we see is that old people turned out far more than younger people.

Some young Britons are now complaining that old people are to blame — hardly:

Brexit feedback by youth

Brexit is what happens when young people — or anyone, for that matter — fail to turn out to vote. You think your side has a guaranteed win, so you don’t vote, and then you lose.

Everyone should keep that in mind, lest they plan on not voting this fall, or just as bad, voting for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. You might think your vote doesn’t matter — and that is what’s going on if you’re voting for a third party, in your heart of hearts you “know” that your vote won’t really get Trump elected. Well, you might want to talk to some British millennials right about now.

by default 2016-06-24 at 11.36.22 AM

In other words, Brexit is Britain’s Ralph Nader. Good luck with that.

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I want every Republican to support Hillary http://americablog.com/2016/06/want-every-republican-support-hillary.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/want-every-republican-support-hillary.html#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2016 12:00:49 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138093 I got into a bit of a Twitter thing with my old friend Glenn Greenwald. (And I do consider Glenn a friend, even if we don’t agree on everything — he does important work, fearlessly.) Glenn expressed concern that Hillary Clinton is now garnering support from notable Republicans, such as prominent neo-conservative Robert Kagan.

Hillary also recently won the support of Brent Scowcroft, who was the national security adviser under President Ford and H.W. Bush.

Glenn, and other liberals (I received a number of tweets from others), have a problem with that.

by default 2016-06-23 at 5.31.43 PM

As I tweeted, I hope every Republican abandons Donald Trump and votes for Hillary Clinton. And I hope they give her money, and tell their friends to give her money.

Why? Let’s start with this wonderfully succinct tweet from Jon Lipe:

by default 2016-06-23 at 5.43.23 PM

And I’d expand on that:

  • More Rs for Hillary ->
  • More $ for Hillary ->
  • More ads for Hillary ->
  • More depressed GOP donations, water-cooler talk, and election turnout ->
  • More GOTV (get out the vote efforts on election day) for Hillary ->
  • More votes for Hillary ->
  • More votes for down-ticket Dems ->
  • More Dems in the 115th Congress ->
  • More progressive legislation.

You win elections with votes and (in America) money. I want as much as possible of each for my candidates and my party. And short of a modern-day Hitler, I’d be hard-pressed to care where either comes from.

This disdain for GOP votes poses a particularly interesting conundrum for Sanders supporters, as Bernie Sanders himself made clear in late December 2015 that he was interested in wooing Trump supporters — and you really don’t get much worse than Trump supporters:

by default 2016-06-23 at 5.56.41 PM

Here’s more from Buzzfeed:

by default 2016-06-23 at 6.01.32 PM

On the Sunday after Christmas, Sanders made that pitch directly in an appearance on a morning news show.

“For his working class and middle class support, we can make the case that if we really want to address the issues that people are concerned about,” Sanders said. “We need policies that bring us together, that take on the greed of Wall Street the greed of corporate America and create a middle class that works for all of us rather than an economy that works just for a few.”

In New Hampshire, where Sanders remains in the lead according to public polling averages, Sanders campaign strategists genuinely believe they can win over some Trump supporters by speaking to their economic angst.

And Sanders was right then, just as Clinton is now. You don’t win elections by putting stringent purity tests on who can vote for you. Ronald Reagan, when questioned about some of his more extreme supporters, would reply something to the effect of “you’re voting for me, I’m not voting for you.”

Ironically, Bernie Sanders and his supporters are especially proud of getting non-traditionally-Democratic voters (i.e., independents and even Republicans) to vote for Bernie in the primaries. We kept hearing about how open primaries were better than closed primaries, because open ones permit everyone to participate and support our candidates. This notion that we’re now going to pick and choose which “everyone” we like and which we don’t runs counter to that welcoming message.

Also problematic, how would you implement such a policy? Only voters who have never voted Republican can vote for Hillary (or Bernie, for that matter), and everyone else can take a hike? Or is it okay if you voted for Mitt Romney, but not for Ronald Reagan? Where do you draw the line?

Of course, there’s an ironic side to all of this as well. We keep claiming that Republicans are evil, and we keep demanding that voters stop supporting them, but then when the voters finally listen and support us instead, we get all NIMBY about it.

Which way is it — do we want people to stop voting Republican or not?

Back to my twitter discussion with Glenn Greenwald. Glenn seemed to suggest that Republicans are supporting Hillary because she’s really a (or her policies are really) Republican. I responded that maybe, just maybe, they’re supporting her simply because they know that the alternative, Donald Trump, will destroy their party and their country.

If the shoe were on the other foot, I’d do the same.

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New CNN hire Corey Lewandowski refuses to say if signed contract banning criticism of Trump http://americablog.com/2016/06/cnn-hire-corey-lewandowski-sign-contract-banning-criticism-trump.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/cnn-hire-corey-lewandowski-sign-contract-banning-criticism-trump.html#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 23:47:10 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138111 The Internet was atwitter today about the news that CNN has hired ex- Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to be a paid contributor offering political commentary this election season.

The concern is whether Lewandowski has an undisclosed conflict of interest that even CNN isn’t acknowledging.

When asked today by CNN’s Erin Burnett if he had signed a contract promising to protect “confidential” information about the Trump campaign, Lewandowksi said yes he had. (And good for Burnett, for asking.)

But then, Burnett showed a standard Trump non-disparagement agreement — stating that former employees couldn’t criticize Trump or his campaign — and Lewandowski bobbed and weaved, refusing to answer the question as to whether he’d signed one.

And that usually means the answer is “yes.”

trump-lewandowski-disparagement

Why does this matter? Because CNN may have just hired someone with an undisclosed conflict of interest. Lewandowksi may be legally bound to never say anything critical of Donald Trump or his campaign. That might mean that when Lewandowski is asked on CNN about a Trump snafu, or even a simple campaign strategy, he is legally bound to lie about it, lest he criticize the candidate or the campaign and break his secret oath.

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. a katz / Shutterstock.com

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. a katz / Shutterstock.com

The issue here isn’t that Lewandowski is a Republican. CNN has lots of Democrats and Republicans as on-air talent. But none of them are legally bound, as far as we know, to never ever say anything negative about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or either’s campaign.

It’s one thing to know one’s bias. It’s quite another to be asked about it outright, on the air, and to avoid answering the question entirely. Lewandowski couldn’t even give an honest answer about whether he can give an honest answer. And that’s just creepy.

Here’s the video of Lewandowski avoiding the question. Note that first Burnett asks Lewandowski about signing a document saying he would keep confidential information confidential. Lewandowski says “yes.” Then she asks him about a non-disparagement agreement, and Lewandowski refuses to answer.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of CNN. For example, Anderson Cooper’s heart-wrenching coverage of Orlando last week was award-winning, IMHO. But it’s precisely because I like CNN that I have to speak out on this one. It’s all just a bit too creepy. And we haven’t even discussed the rest of the allegations about him.

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Diagnosed with nonexistence: How bias deprives medicine of integrity http://americablog.com/2016/06/diagnosed-nonexistence-bias-deprives-medicine-integrity.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/diagnosed-nonexistence-bias-deprives-medicine-integrity.html#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 22:35:04 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138091 A person’s identity is contingent upon a motley of circumstance; the way we perceive each moment in time’s passing accumulates, molding a sense of self so that we can claim a space in the intersection of a tangible and philosophical universe.

Consciously or not, it’s an arduous task that each one of us undertakes in order to make sense of life’s perpetual flow around us.  Sometimes that flow is interrupted by a shortcoming or an insult delivered to us — we question where we stand and who we are, but eventually this dribble returns to its original state – life goes on.

Until it doesn’t.

The most basic sense of self that we have been taught from a young age is gender, something that we are locked into and yield to the authorities of our doctors and parents without question.  These are people who love and support us unconditionally, increasingly often with the condition that we don’t debate this ideal of self-dom.  The immediate instinct to reject someone who doesn’t accept the ordainments of society is a reactionary characteristic, and the insistence of those we should trust, including loved ones and medical professionals that our anguish is imaginative creates a lavishly monochromatic quality of life for too many.

When I was in a treatment facility for anorexia, I became friends with someone for whom I inadvertently became witness to the emotional exploitation of their private adversities.  P was transgender, and from the first day of her admittance to the facility her toils with her identity, and the obstinacy of society to reject it, were thrown in her face.

Ubiquitously, eating disorder facilities require a naked weigh-in and urine sample at the start of each day.  On that first day, I saw P’s morning supplies marked with two names; one I did not recognize and her name in quotes.  I was horrified, and a friend and I irately brought this injustice to the staff so that they might correct it.  They had placed her real name in quotes and insisted upon the validity of her given gender by placing that name before the latter, without the undermining punctuation.

This was the most tangible contention I witnessed P go through, but behind the scenes a war was waging:

If I was to receive any support, I would have to use my voice in a way that ‘earned’ the sympathy that would motivate other staff or peers into speaking on my behalf. Expressing my ‘feelings’ was not enough, I had to be convincing. Anorexia and social anxiety go hand in hand for me, so the very illness that I was in intensive treatment for also prevented me from receiving the same fair treatment enjoyed by the other patients.

P and I revisited the details of this treatment, where the circumstances surrounding aforementioned ‘weigh-ins’ was reiterated:

I was weighed alone, by a woman, after the cisgender patients had all gone. You can probably guess that I would feel excluded by this. The act of it served to reinforce the idea that in my gender I am only an imposter, alone in my ‘belief’ that I am as much a woman as any other. Yet it is not as if the woman who weighed me in meant to say any of these things to me, and in fact I know that these members of the staff were unhappy with having to carry out this process in this way. It is in this way that an institution itself can be transphobic.

The full weight of her experience slapped me in the face; the entire time that she was struggling alongside the rest of us to overcome the deadliest mental illness suffered, her healing process was sabotaged by the inflexibility of the people who were supposed to help her.  Likewise, another close friend revealed to me that she “hasn’t seen a doctor since 2013” out of fear that she will have this painful experience of being called an imposter.  My heart tightened; our loved ones are being denied basic human rights centered around a chronic illiteracy.  But how damaging can the stubbornness and genuine incomprehension truly be?

Suicide attempts among the transgender community is a heartbreaking 41%, pole-vaulting the 4.6% of the general population in the United States.  This jumps to 50% when they reveal to the people they trust that they identify as non-conforming or transgender, and when medical professionals reject their pleas for treatment based upon this alignment it leaps to 60%.  What kind of society is willing to kill its neighbors and loved ones just because they don’t understand?

On my journey towards understanding what my friends endure, I’m grateful to Dr. Paul R. McHugh, an established and highly respected psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital.  His statements on the transgender and anorexic community have created a concise and accessible ‘Cliff Notes’ of illiterate hatred that is truly impressive.  Claiming that transgenderism is a “mental disorder” and that “people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder”, he has pointed to this identification as a “disorder of ‘assumption’”.  He even paralleled it with anorexia, saying “It is a disorder similar to a ‘dangerously thin’ person suffering anorexia who looks in the mirror and thinks they are ‘overweight’”.  This suggests that the years of intense treatment and hospitalization; the arduous hours of research and cross-checking; the professional advisement of world-renowned doctors and therapists and the myriad credible papers and studies done on anorexia are invalid.  I was surprised to find that my history of trauma and abuse had nothing to do with my disease, and that anorexia is a two-dimensional vanity, contrary to the staggering amount of aforementioned literature on the subject. Overwhelming evidence directly contending Dr. McHugh’s opinions – oddly demanding themselves as fact – substantiates the connotation that personal belief is actively undermining the integrity of the medical community and literally killing patients in need.  We live in a disturbing reality where established professionals are casting aside the morals Medicine prides itself on to promote an agenda of unwarranted acrimony.

Thanks to professionals like this abusing their resources and standing in the community, the standard of care that transgender individuals receive is inhumane.  Although there are people like my friend P that are able to persevere past this insistence upon repudiation of the most basic of human rights, this incessant insistence upon a reality where loved ones and complete strangers are rallying together to grab you by the shoulders and tell you that you aren’t valid, that you are a poseur, this flow of life begins to ebb; marginalized, you desperately reach for the values most intrinsic to who you are, when suddenly society grabs this out of your hands and rejects you completely.  At the most basic sense of self that contemporary society has advertised, you are told you no longer have a claim; you don’t fit this mold; without this foundation for identity, you no longer exist.

As stated by Trans Lifeline, an organization dedicated to providing a support line to an unjustly tyrannized community:

Even if an individual is stabilized past the period of impulse, the underlying factors of institutional and structural barriers leading to suicidality remain.

Typical mental health resources, including individual providers and clinical settings, are often at a loss to address these underlying factors. This arises both from discrimination against and discomfort with transgender people and issues, and from the structure of typical mental health resources to treat mental health as purely a personal, individual issue.

P’s experience and Dr. McHugh’s statements represent a trenchant account of what is happening on a large scale; a toxic culture of nonacceptance that is pitting friends and family against one another, and eroding a respectable profession into a morally and scientifically devoid debris. When an organization or individual labels themselves as a pro-health foundation but structurally undermines recovery — buttressing the original strife with a vengeance — we have to acknowledge that something is inherently wrong and change our approach to one that replaces opinion with credible knowledge and exchanges judgement for nurturing.  To clear the rubble of ignorance and misinformation, to stop the slaughtering of our loved ones, we can look to Martin Luther King Jr. for guidance; that “Hatred cannot drive out hatred, only love can do that.  Don’t give in to hatred, don’t give in to fear, instead live lives of love.  That doesn’t mean love those who love like you, who look like you, or who worship like you.  It just means ‘love’.”

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Trump appoints gay-haters Reed, Dobson, Falwell to campaign advisory board http://americablog.com/2016/06/trump-appoints-gay-haters-ralph-reed-james-dobson-campaign-advisory-board.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/trump-appoints-gay-haters-ralph-reed-james-dobson-campaign-advisory-board.html#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 16:35:44 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138084 One week after claiming to be the second coming of Harvey Milk, and the LGBT community’s savior, Donald Trump has appointed an evangelical advisory board that contains some of the top names of the gay-hating religious right.

Trump’s new board includes Christian Coalition founder Ralph Reed, Focus on the Family head James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Jr. (the son of renowned anti-gay bigot Jerry Falwell, who blamed gays for 9/11), and Robert Jeffress (who has in the past claimed that 70 percent of gays have AIDS, and that there’s a direct link between homosexuality and pedophilia).

Ralph Reed, by Gage Skidmore.

Ralph Reed, by Gage Skidmore.

Trump doesn’t sound like the candidate who just last week said “ask the gays,” when ridiculously claiming that his administration would be better for the LGBT community than Hillary Clinton (who has a stellar record on our issues).

We shouldn’t be surprised that Trump is cozying up to far-right anti-gay bigots. After all, we found out just recently that Trump’s mentor was Roy Cohn. Yes, that’s Roy Cohn. For those too young to remember, Cohn was the right hand-man of Senator Joseph McCarthy, the man responsible for the anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s. Cohn was a closeted gay, but that didn’t stop him from conducting witch hunts that ruined the lives of countless gay people working for the federal government during that era.

by default 2016-06-22 at 12.33.26 PMCohn and McCarthy targeted many government officials and cultural figures not only for suspected Communist sympathies, but also for alleged homosexuality. McCarthy and Cohn were responsible for the firing of scores of gay men from government employment, and strong-armed many opponents into silence using rumors of their homosexuality. Former U.S. Senator Alan K. Simpson has written: “The so-called ‘Red Scare’ has been the main focus of most historians of that period of time. A lesser-known element … and one that harmed far more people was the witch-hunt McCarthy and others conducted against homosexuals.”

It’s unbelievable that such an evil man was Donald Trump’s mentor. That tells you all you need to know about how pro-gay Donald Trump is.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis — Win a pony! (not really)

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Gun safety advocates shouldn’t endorse the validity of the “no fly” list http://americablog.com/2016/06/gun-violence-advocates-shouldnt-endorse-validity-no-fly-list.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/gun-violence-advocates-shouldnt-endorse-validity-no-fly-list.html#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 14:25:34 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138071 The Orlando shooting started yet another Senate debate on gun control that yet again failed.

“No-fly, no buy” was one such proposal — the seemingly common sense notion that people banned from flying should also be prohibited from buying a gun. But by pushing these knee jerk proposals, Senate Democrats and Republicans have unwittingly endorsed a pernicious regime where suspicions “presumptively” equal guilt, instead of pursuing much-needed reforms of the national background check system.

One of the measures, by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), called for individuals on the terrorist watch list, AKA the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB), to be examined by the attorney general before purchasing firearms. TSDB is a list containing one million names, of which approximately 5,000 are in the US. Because the TSDB is a compilation of eleven lists, the actual no-fly list is much smaller, with 81,000 names, of which 1,000 are in the US; the “selectee list” which may require additional inspections of passengers or ban them from flights, contains 28,000 names and 1,700 Americans.

The picture painted by documents leaked to The Intercept in 2014 is bleak. To be on the terrorist watch list, you don’t have to be a risk for bodily harm—damage to property, if meant to intimidate a government, counts too. Uncorroborated sources like social media or walk-ins and “fragmentary information” may contribute to someone being placed on the list. In developing the new concept of “reasonable suspicion,” far below “reasonable doubt,” guidelines say that “irrefutable evidence or concrete facts are not necessary, to be reasonable.” Individuals without ties to a US-designated terrorist organization may be labeled, along with their known associates and family, regardless of the actual nature of their connection.

The flaws in the system, which President Obama previously called a “systemic failure,” have led to its failure time and again. In 2005, 38% of a sample of its records had errors, and three years later, it still did not consistently update its records. In 2012, the Government Accountability Office stated that the list was consistently reactive to threats—its size doubled in response to the 2009 attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253, with agencies consistently sending information after attacks, rather than before. And it is practically impossible to be removed from the secret list.

Although Feinstein’s measure did not call for an outright ban, executive agencies have a lackluster track record of challenging nominations to the watch list. Fewer than 1% of nominations to the list have been rejected, as they are “presumptively valid”—the reversal of our justice system’s presumption of innocence.

The logic of “no-fly no buy” assumes that the no-fly list, or perhaps more broadly, the terror watch list, should be the benchmark for firearm purchases. Instead of endorsing a culture that presumes guilt and to protect Americans from gun violence, legislators and agencies must instead reform the national background check system and use the terror watch list as an investigative tool, rather than a preventative one, so long as names are added willy-nilly to the list.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) offers a system governed by far greater transparency, and far more rigorous standards of evidence, than systems regulated by the intelligence community. It is an opportunity for law enforcement to prevent crime without the heavy-handed and spurious tools of a “national security” ruse. But without a comprehensive overhaul on the entry mechanism in every state, background checks will do little to prevent violence. From 2004 to 2011, just a dozen states reflected the vast majority of a million entries in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Nearly half of all states increased entries by fewer than 100 each. The complete repeal of regulations requiring background checks in states like South Carolina has further hindered the effectiveness of NICS.

By linking issues of gun control to the vague notions of “terrorism” and “reasonable suspicion”, Democrats and Republicans have demonstrated that they are willing to accept the status quo of labeling thousands of Americans as “suspected terrorists,” regardless of whether the evidence against them is anything more than a passing whim. It seems as though in the wake of tragedy, too often, all judicious reasoning protecting due process is lost.

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Jerry Falwell Jr. praises Trump, tweets Playboy cover http://americablog.com/2016/06/jerry-falwell-jr-praises-trump-tweets-playboy-cover.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/jerry-falwell-jr-praises-trump-tweets-playboy-cover.html#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 21:32:07 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138073 Jerry Falwell, Jr., the son of renowned homophobic religious right leader, Jerry Falwell, tweeted a picture today with GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Falwell introduced Trump today at a religious leader summit in New York City.

What Falwell didn’t realize is that he was tweeting a photo that included a Playboy magazine cover with Trump on it. I got the image below from Falwell’s Twitter feed.

jerry-falwell-trump-playboy

Close-up:

by default 2016-06-21 at 5.19.05 PM

This might seem like a small thing, but we’re talking Jerry freaking Falwell here. And we’re talking the religious right cozying up to someone like Trump, who has had three marriages to date, and his adherence to religion has also been questioned. This from the Daily Beast:

While pandering to evangelicals with a Liberty University speech, he infamously mispronounced a biblical reference as “Two Corinthians” instead of “Second Corinthians.”

Additionally, several times throughout Trump’s very public life, he’s been quoted as saying he doesn’t believe in heaven or hell—cornerstones of Christian theology; and has been described as “not a religious man.”

The top official from Trump’s own denomination has denounced the candidate. “Donald Trump’s views are not in keeping with the policies adopted by our church by deliberative process,” Presbyterian Church leader Gradye Parsons said.

Trump also had the nerve to criticize Hillary Clinton’s today, claiming that we know nothing of her faith. As the Daily Beast noted, that’s a bizarre claim:

She’s been in the public eye for years and years, and yet there’s no—there’s nothing out there,” Trump continued.

On the contrary, Clinton has long spoken of her Methodist faith and how it has inspired her years of public service and liberal beliefs.

Nevertheless, he suggested Clinton’s supposed lack of religiosity would lead to policies that should terrify evangelicals. “It’s going to be an extension of Obama but it’s going to be worse,” he warned, “because with Obama you had your guard up. With Hillary you don’t, and it’s going to be worse.”

So, on the one hand you have a woman who went into public service as a result of her faith. And on the other, you have a guy who keeps copies of Playboy in his office. You decide who’s more religious.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis

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Britain First and Orlando: Not every violent act is international terror http://americablog.com/2016/06/time-stopped-making-everyone-terrorist.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/time-stopped-making-everyone-terrorist.html#comments Mon, 20 Jun 2016 22:48:16 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138055  

Tommy Mair is charged with assassinating Jo Cox, a British member of parliament, just one week before the Brexit referendum that will decide whether Britain remains in the European Union.

An eyewitness, Clarke Rothwell, said that he heard Mair say “Britain First” as he mortally wounded Cox. British First is a neo-fascisty anti-immigration group. Britain First disputes the alleged shout-out.

The far-right group Britain First has had a history of extremism. In 2014, members of Britain First sent death threats to its defectors. Though it claims to be focused on “peaceful protests,” its members threw bricks during a protest in Rotherham, and undergo “combat” training. The group has claimed to be carrying out a “Christian crusade” and has openly stated that “violence is so ingrained in Islam that it has never really stopped being at war, either with other religions or with itself.”

Its founder, Paul Golding, told Christian Today that “Jesus Christ did use physical violence according to the Gospels in the temple in Jerusalem…. He preached love and forgiveness etc, but he also said he didn’t come to bring peace; he came to bring division and a sword, he came to bring fire upon the world to sort the world out.” One could thus easily say that in their fight against the “Islamisation of Britain,” Britain First inspires violence in a global struggle of religion just as ISIS does.

Jo Cox was politically a prime target for Mair, given her stance on several policy issues conflicting with Britain First. In particular, she has opposed Britain’s exit from the European Union in opposition towards Britain First’s pro-Brexit stance. And while police have not confirmed Mair’s motives, Mair’s previous subscription to media “rejecting communism, multiculturalism, political correctness and expansionist Islam” indicates that there may be other issues tackled by Britain First at play here.

The ISIS flag.

The ISIS flag.

As I’ve previously noted, the media has consistently conflated attackers in Orlando, San Bernardino, and Garland with ISIS because of their pledges to the group. The public has reacted accordingly, demanding stronger military responses against ISIS. However, none of these attackers were provided material aid or supervision by ISIS—they did not even maintain any direct links to the organization.

Similarly, by at least some accounts, Mair demonstrated allegiance towards Britain First’s cause. If so, is it possible that his violent politics were inspired by Britain First’s “crusade” rhetoric? Given Britain First’s history of violence and its capacity to inspire extremism, should Britain First be treated as a terrorist group responsible for Jo Cox’s assassination, just as we do with ISIS’s supposed “involvement” in Orlando?

Though Britain First’s rhetoric is extraordinarily counterproductive in the “War on Terror”, there is currently no evidence indicating that the organization provided any direct assistance to Mair—their only connection was a possible political inspiration. Analogously, though ISIS is a heinous organization, it has had no connection beyond political inspiration to any attackers on US soil—pledges have not corresponded with tangible collaboration between lone wolves and ISIS.

Jo Cox’s assassination demonstrates the illogic of our conflation between lone wolves and larger, potentially violent, national groups. Although ISIS is a heinous organization threatening Western interests in Syria and Iraq, it is dangerous to conflate the actions of “lone wolves pledging to ISIS” with ISIS itself, just as it is absurd, in my view, to perceive Mair’s actions as a threat coming from Britain First. The inspiration that both provided is alarming, but absent any concrete association between the wolves and their pack, drastic measures like the banning of Britain First as a terrorist organization or an expanded war against ISIS seem less than palatable.

Britain First perhaps poses a more direct threat to citizens on Western soil than ISIS, given its “mosque invasions” and previously violent mass protests. For the sake of argument, however, neither organization is directly involved in conventional terrorism against the US or the UK. It’s time we stopped confusing ISIS “affiliates” with the core organization. There’s enough fear to go around in this world, and neither Britain First nor ISIS warrants a nuclear response as though they pose an existential and immediate threat to our nations.

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Weird Japanese Trump anime video, or something http://americablog.com/2016/06/weird-japanese-trump-anime-video-something.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/weird-japanese-trump-anime-video-something.html#comments Sat, 18 Jun 2016 15:42:24 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138058 A friend in Japan sent me this video about Trump that is going viral over there.

It’s difficult to tell if the video is pro- or anti- Trump, but I’m guessing the world blowing up in the final scene gives us a clue.

Enjoy.

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It’s time for a somber national discussion about [insert latest shooting tragedy here] http://americablog.com/2016/06/lets-discuss-the-insert-shooting-tragedy-here-tragedy.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/lets-discuss-the-insert-shooting-tragedy-here-tragedy.html#comments Thu, 16 Jun 2016 21:34:00 +0000 http://dontaskdontgive.com/2012/08/lets-discuss-the-insert-shooting-tragedy-here-tragedy.html It’s time to have a somber national discussion about the [insert shooting tragedy here] tragedy.

Before we get started, let’s go over a few basic ground rules.

1. In the wake of the __________ tragedy, it’s time for us all to come together as a nation and not assign blame. This is not the time, for example, to talk about how it’s easier to purchase a gun in America than it is to vote (or buy French cheese). I fact-checked the graphic below, it’s for real:

french-cheese-and-guns-correctedx

And I quote White House spokesman Jary Carney, speaking about the murder at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut of at least 18 young children:

“I’m sure [there] will be rather a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates,but I don’t think today is that day,” Carney said.

Fortunately, the President’s subsequent statement was better.

2. And we won’t tolerate any second guessing of the Second Amendment right to carry assault weapons, or questions about how the Framers could have possibly envisaged an assault rifle over 200 years ago, or why a “hunter” needs six thousand rounds of ammunition, or kevlar, or smoke grenades to kill a pheasant.

Open Carry gun owner at JC Penney store in Utah

Open -carry gun owner at JC Penney store in Utah. What could possibly go wrong?

3. While the shooter may have been inspired by political fliers showing the victim in cross hairs, or may have come unhinged by inflammatory rhetoric about how said victim was coming for the shooter’s guns, discussing such motivation at this sensitive moment would be completely inappropriate. Not to mention, disrespectful to the __________ victims.

Sarah Palin showed US Rep. Gabby Giffords' district in crosshairs shortly before Giffords was shot in the head and nearly killed in an assassination attempt.

Sarah Palin showed US Rep. Gabby Giffords’ district in crosshairs shortly before Giffords was shot in the head and nearly killed in an assassination attempt.

4. If the tragedy involved someone flying a plane into a government building, or for that matter blowing up a government building, now is not the time to discuss people like Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity (no names, please), or Republicans generally (no political parties, please), incessantly trying to convince their audience that the occupant of the White House, or any government official, agency, or entire branch of government is evil and/or “un-American” and/or out to get them or our country or our freedom.

drudge-hitler-obama-stalin-578x500

5. And definitely don’t mention the Republican party’s frequent claim and/or insinuation, including suggestions from the GOP candidate himself, Mitt Romney, that the sitting Democratic President is a socialist, which in American parlance actually means “communist,” which actually means “Soviet,” which was America’s deadliest enemy out for our utter destruction.

Sure, it would be entirely understandable why someone would take up arms against a Soviet takeover of the United States, but a Democrat said something mean once about a Republican’s dog, or something, so aren’t both parties really to blame, thus making the charge moot?

tea party

Tea Party rally. The Islamic symbol at the bottom right of the poster is a nice touch. Ira Bostic / Shutterstock.com

6. Never, ever mention the NRA.  Sure, they’ve proven themselves, time and again, incapable of passing laws that effectively keep guns out of the hands of crazy mass murderers, but that’s no reason to blame them for the _______ tragedy because it’s just too early to cast blame on anyone other than the shooter, who was obviously crazy, and thus this month’s anomaly.

Now, let’s discuss for a moment the race of the shooter and the race of the victims.

7. If the ______________ tragedy involved angry white men opening fire on brown people of faith, this is definitely not the time to replay clips of bombastic commentators and politicians getting white men in places like Kansas whipped into a frenzy over Manhattan’s zoning criteria for non-Christian houses of worship.

8. But feel free to discuss if all brown people, and thus the shooter, or his victims, were Muslims – sorry, I meant to say “radical Islamists.”  And even if neither was a Muslim, make sure you discuss that point incessantly – Muslim, Muslim, Muslim, Muslim – so as to eventually sow suspicion in the public’s mind as to whether there really is a Muslim angle to this story.

9. Speaking of which, this is not the time to discuss the more general fear mongering around words like “Muslim,” including the ongoing, successful, attempt by Republicans to convince their base that our dark-skinned President is one.

Okay, I think we’re ready now to discuss the ______________ tragedy.

First off: It is entirely acceptable for a Republican to opine that the tragedy could have been averted had the victims all been armed (please disregard previous tragedies where armed police officers, or members of the military, were themselves injured by the shooter).

Second: Poignant, but ultimately meaningless, gestures such as lighting tragedy candles at nighttime vigils, and posting anti-gun petitions on Change.org, are to be encouraged.

Finally: Clutch your pearls, and all together now, ask the purely rhetorical question: “How could this happen?”

Forty-eight hours after the shooting, return to talking about the Olympics and the latest Kardashian wedding until the next shooting occurs, then refer to point 1 above.

PS: If the victims of the ___________tragedy were black, ignore the above restrictions and take up a collection for the shooter’s defense fund.

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Stephen Colbert destroys Donald Trump (video) http://americablog.com/2016/06/stephen-colbert-destroys-donald-trump-video.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/stephen-colbert-destroys-donald-trump-video.html#comments Thu, 16 Jun 2016 20:50:47 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138049 Stephen Colbert just destroyed Donald Trump, over Trump’s claim that Obama is a secret Muslim terrorist.

I was laughing out loud.

Just watch.

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Let’s treat men buying guns like women who get abortions http://americablog.com/2016/06/if-abortion-were-a-gun.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/if-abortion-were-a-gun.html#comments Thu, 16 Jun 2016 18:20:07 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=138042 This is a wonderful meme going around, author unknown, about what it would be like for men buying guns if we treated guns like abortion:

What’s particularly brilliant about this is both guns and abortion are constitutional rights. So if you can limit abortion to this degree, why not limit guns to the same?

“How about we treat every young man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants to get an abortion — mandatory 48-hour waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understand what he’s about to do, a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence, and an ultrasound wand up the ass (just because). Let’s close down all but one gun shop in every state and make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, and stay overnight in a strange town to get a gun. Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him a murderer and beg him not to buy a gun.”

if-abortion-were-a-gun

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis

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“Gateway Pundit” Jim Hoft’s repulsive ploy to use Orlando to benefit Trump http://americablog.com/2016/06/gateway-pundit-jim-hofts-repulsive-ploy-use-orlando-benefit-trump.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/gateway-pundit-jim-hofts-repulsive-ploy-use-orlando-benefit-trump.html#comments Thu, 16 Jun 2016 15:50:52 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=137997 After spending his professional life stoking venom against LGBT people, “Gateway Pundit” Jim Hoft, famously dubbed “The Dumbest Man on the Internet” for his shoddy reporting standards and conspiracy peddling, and reviled in St. Louis for mocking an activist who died from breast cancer, decided the Orlando tragedy was the perfect opportunity to come out of the closet and usher the mourning LGBT Community into the waiting arms of Donald J. Trump.

So glad those 49 horrific deaths could be put to good use.

Hoft writes:

I came out in the 1980s to family and friends during the AIDS epidemic. I saw a lot of friends get sick. I saw a lot of friends die. I went to a lot of funerals.

It was a scary time to be gay.

Like most gay Americans, I don’t wear my sexuality on my sleeve. I go about my daily business. I try not to harm anyone. I love my family. I love my friends. I love my country.

I’ve been a conservative activist for years. But today I’m coming out as a conservative gay activist.

In the past few years I’ve built one of the most prominent conservative websites in America. I created The Gateway Pundit because I wanted to speak the truth. I wanted to expose the wickedness of the left. I was raised to love my country. Today I serve my country by defending her from the socialist onslaught.

But last night at least 49 gays were slaughtered at an Orlando club.

Despite this obvious Islamic attack, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are still in denial.

I can no longer remain silent as my gay brothers and sisters are being slaughtered at dance clubs.

There is only one man who can lead this nation and protect all gays and all Americans. His name is Donald Trump.

In 2015 a conservative Supreme Court granted gays the right to marry.

In 2016 only one candidate will protect gays from another Islamist attack.

I pray that gays will come back home to the Republican Party – no more death.

Dear God, please no more death.

It’s really hard to explain just how wretched Hoft is without picking up my computer and slamming it against the wall. This is someone who tried to take down GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network), an organization devoted to helping gay high school students avoid bullying, by claiming GLSEN taught fisting (a sex act) techniques to fourteen year old kids, and handed out “fisting kits” and recommended about first graders having orgies.

Here’s a sampling of Gateway Pundit’s GLSEN stories:

gateway-pundit-anti-gay-stories

And here are a few more Gateway Pundit stories:

by default 2016-06-16 at 11.09.41 AMby default 2016-06-16 at 11.07.51 AM

And, my personal favorite, here is how Hoft, a gay man, welcomed the historic news that President Obama had nominated the first openly-gay Secretary of the Army:

by default 2016-06-16 at 11.13.32 AM

You get the idea.

Hoft routinely promotes the work of disreputable anti-gay hate group MassResistance, designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, to bring down GLSEN founder Kevin Jennings when the Obama Administration appointed the openly -ay educator Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.

Few hate LGBT people like Hoft’s BFF and MassResistance founder Brian Camenker, who denied gays and lesbians were killed in the Holocaust (the US Holocaust Museum says otherwise), claimed that the gay agenda included legalizing bestiality, traveled to Jamaica to encourage the nation to pass laws criminalizing homosexuality, and who has viciously fought against anti-bullying and suicide prevention programs aimed at LGBT youth. Camenker’s organization lauded a book that claims gays were behind the Holocaust. It’s beyond despicable that Hoft, a gay man, promoted Camenker, the worst of the worst when it comes to anti-gay hate.

It’s also sadly telling that Camenker and his hate group are still promoted all over Hoft’s Web site. It’s one thing if Hoft repented for promoting anti-gay hate groups. It’s quite another when Hoft is still giving them oxygen. To this day, there are still 120 stories on Hoft’s Web site that mention MassResistance:

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Jim Hoft hatched and ill-conceived plan to lure a mourning LGBT Community to endorse Trump.

Jim Hoft hatched and ill-conceived plan to lure a mourning LGBT Community to endorse Trump.

Hoft missed no opportunity to spread rumors about anti-bullying efforts either, using his blog to claim an Anti-Bullying Conference was mostly focused on how to satisfy sexual partners.

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs has a great deal of history with Hoft, who retaliated against Johnson’s fact checking by smearing Johnson with accusations of supporting porn and fisting kits in classrooms.

On Hoft’s pitch to lure LGBT people to the Republican party with a rich history of demonizing them, Johnson writes:

The idea that gays should “come home” to the Republican Party is so delusional it beggars description; this is the party whose presidential candidates openly endorse a far right pastor who thinks gays should be executed, a party that works ceaselessly to deny basic rights to LGBT people, a party that has tried for years to pass amendments to the US Constitution that would permanently ban gay marriage, etc., etc. The list of Republican anti-gay positions is practically endless.

For Hoft to say he “tries not to harm anyone” and wants to “speak the truth,” well — wow. Again, this is the guy who for years has been propagating every fake and/or dishonest right wing conspiracy theory that bubbles out of the fever swamp, a guy who spread a completely phony story that the cop who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson had suffered major injuries after being attacked by Brown and used a crudely altered version of a CT scan to do it, a guy who often cites white supremacist websites and has even plagiarized them for his crummy right wing blog, a guy who often refers to black protesters with dehumanizing terms like “roaches.”

It’s not surprising that Hoft stepped off the stage at his ridiculous debutante ball and face-planted. Comments across social media and the blogosphere have been unforgiving, and rightfully so.

What got to me the most was his audacity to use the line “my gay brothers and sisters.” I ain’t your brother, buddy. The “We” in We Are Family doesn’t include you and never will. You’ve gleefully spent your pitiful life polishing the shoes of those demonizing and dehumanizing us to win elections. You’ve perpetrated the nastiest smears about our community, including that we prey on children. And you’ve never recanted any of them.

Like you, I live in St. Louis. But unlike you, who have been completely absent from our LGBT community aside from attacking us, I know who really made the history you seek to exploit. People like Michael Mullen, who founded PAWS after finding pets dead from starvation in the homes of AIDS patients. People like Daniel Flier, who co-founded St. Louis Effort for AIDS and personally bathed countless patients rotting in their own urine and feces because hospitals wouldn’t touch them.

And how freaking dare you use the deaths of 49 largely Latino and Black people to push your wretched agenda? You’re a cheap, shameless and desperate hack representing a cheap, shameless and desperate party. A party whose nominee is a peddler of cheap suits, and a party whose constituents think political action is sitting in the drive-thru at Chick-fil-A. 

You will NEVER be one of us. And neither will your dominatrix daddy, Donald Trump.

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Trump (again) says US troops are thieves. Vets explode in anger. http://americablog.com/2016/06/trump-says-us-troops-thieves-vets-explode-anger.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/trump-says-us-troops-thieves-vets-explode-anger.html#comments Wed, 15 Jun 2016 15:43:07 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=137981 Donald Trump yesterday, for the second time, appeared to accuse US troops in Iraq of being thieves.

Trump had made the same accusation a year ago, suggesting this wasn’t simply an off-the-cuff mistake. Also, it’s difficult to believe, as the Trump campaign is now alleging, that Trump was referring to Iraq troops, when Trump made the same claim a year ago.

As you can imagine, the troops and vets are not at all pleased with their potentially future commander-in-chief accusing them of being crooks, and “living ver well” after leaving Iraq, when many left Iraq with PTSD and serious injuries.

First, a look at what Trump said, then the response from the troops. Here’s John Harwood of the New York Times and CNBC:

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And here’s Ben Kesling of the Wall Street Journal, who is also apparently a veteran:

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Politico has Trump’s comments from the rally last year, in which he again appeared to be criticizing American troops:

[T]he last time Trump touched on the subject, during a rally last fall in New Hampshire, he also appeared to suggest that American soldiers had stolen U.S. government money — both in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At a Sept. 30 [2015] rally in Keene, during remarks on Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq and Iraqi government corruption, Trump segued abruptly into discussion of the cash spent by American authorities occupying Iraq and Afghanistan.

“They didn’t really want to fight for Iraq because Iraq is a corrupt government, you know. Remember when they were handing 50 million dollars of cash? Cash! They were going through Afghanistan paying off, I want to know who were the soldiers that are carrying cash of 50 million dollars? Cash! How stupid are we?,” Trump said. “I wouldn’t be surprised those soldiers, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cash didn’t get there, I have to be honest.”

Here’s the video of Trump last year — he wasn’t talking about US soldiers then too? Please.

by default 2016-06-15 at 11.37.13 AMUS veteran Corbin Reiff spent five years a Sergeant in the US Army. He worked on the problem Trump attacked. He is one of the vets whose integrity Trump just questioned.

Read Sgt. Reiff’s responses on Twitter from the bottom of this page, up — because of the way Twitter works, his responses are in reverse chronological order, so you need to start at the bottom.

 

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis

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