Archive for the ‘Culture War’ Category

The following news stories actually make me not only wonder if our species will survive for much longer but also if we deserve to survive our own stupidity and neglect.

  • The City of Detroit found 11,000 rape kits that were abandoned and never tested.  After testing less than 7% of them they identified 100 serial rapists and 10 convicted rapists.  So if that pattern holds and they test the rest of them, they can expect to discover several hundred more of these scumbag.  ht mistermix at Balloon Juice
  • The AZ legislature is pushing a bill that would allow people to carry guns into building even if it’s forbidden (if they don’t have lockers available you can ignore the ban).  They’ve also advanced the idea that some gun owners can carry even if there are lockers and ban.  And to make it truly impossible for local governments to forbid guns in their government buildings, they’ve approved and forwarded a bill that says any local government who enforces local ordinance over state law can be fined.  This is like the trifecta of stupid.  They’re begging for someone to go into government buildings and commit mass murder.  I certainly will be avoiding those buildings like the plague if this crap passes.  ht JM Ashby at Bob Cesca
  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, back when he was a prosecutor, let a child slaver off easy so that he could take down a political rival.
  • Pat Robertson, TV Evangelist, told a woman that having cancer was her own fault for not forgiving her abusive father.  Okaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy
  • A new law went into effect in Michigan that says businesses and individuals who purchase private insurance must take out a separate rider to cover abortion care.  Essentially, if a woman needs an abortion for ANY reason and if she doesn’t have  a separate rider for it, she will have to pay out of pocket for the cost of that care.  So if I lived there, had a miscarriage and needed a D&C to shorten the process  and suffering so I could get back on my feet sooner, I would have to pay completely out of pocket for it.  Likewise for women who have become pregnant as a result of incest and rape.  That’s insane.  The real kicker is that there is not a single private insurance provider in the marketplace that provides this insurance.  This could not only bankrupt women and their families, it in effect nullifies Roe v. Wade, and will force women to seek out cheaper and more dangerous care for such things.  I hope the women in Michigan enjoy being second class citizens because it looks like the state is on target to vote the same politicians who’ve created these laws back into office.
  • Billionaires in the 1% are getting their panties in a twist and crying lots of salty tears because the rest of us are tired of having the economy manipulated while they gamble with our money and take what little wealth Americans have managed to accumulate over the last few decades.  The 99% have had the temerity to exercise their Freedom of Speech and the Right to Vote in more progressive candidates.  However, so far as I know there have been no lynch mobs or guillotine lines nor any proposed by anyone of significance in any “likely to happen” fashion.  The 99% are simply using the peaceful system of governance and the wonderful mechanisms given to us by the Founding Fathers.  However, reading some of the recent comments by the 1% (here’s a few examples here and here) might make one think that we are in the midst of a communist peasant uprising (or fascist style takeover depending on which historical example they erroneously choose).  Truth is, if we were in such a state, their heads would already be on pikes.  In reality nothing is happening to them and that’s the stupid thing.  We should be curtailing their almost godlike power over our economy and our elected officials. Their message gets broadcast loud and clear.  We hear about their perspective 24/7 on Fox News, read their whining on major websites and news sources (in addition to reading about their phenomenally ignorant take on history), and suffer under the vagaries of the worldwide economy which they essentially control.  As Jon Stewart said the other day, they make money regardless of how the economy fares.  So why should they give a crap about us? They don’t and the majority of Americans haven’t yet grasped this fact and what it will mean for this country, and indeed the world, in the long run.  Until Americans decide to stand up and pull up our pants, they’ll be back there having their way with us and complaining that its hard, nay dangerous, to be a billionaire.

So I was over at The Daily Banter commenting and reading a satirical piece on how white women have appropriated belly dancing from the Arabs (it makes fun of Salon.com’s weird penchant for fainting over really stupid shit).  Anyway, that’s when I stumbled across this little gem of a comment:

Stupid, racist comment

Stupid, racist comment

My initial reply:

My not so friendly reply

My not so friendly reply

Another bigot anonymously decides to join the party and support the first comment:

2nd asshole chimes in

2nd asshole chimes in

I just can’t stand it anymore and I unload:

My last reply

My last reply

My work is done

So we just got over the Jim Crow anti-LGBTQIA bill that the Gov. vetoed the other day.  Well, they’re at it againHouse Bill 2481 would allow ministers the right to refuse to perform same sex weddings.

My drawing of "Just a Bill"

My drawing of “Just a Bill”

Never mind that they already have that power.  [ht Ashby at BobCesca.com] A minister is by definition bound by his particular faith and is NEVER required to marry anyone.  They’ve always had this choice.  However, this new bill defines minister very broadly.  So broadly that it would allow government officials like judges, county clerks, etc the right to refuse to marry same sex couples.  Essentially allowing government officials to discriminate.

Again, this bill is so unconstitutional it’s laughable and it would continue to be laughable if it didn’t have a good chance of passing.  See the religious right here in AZ (really around the country) are engaging in a broader strategy that you might not notice unless you were paying attention to the kind of bills that are being promoted and passed in all of the different state legislatures.  For example, everyone knows that conservatives are unhappy with Roe v. Wade and have tried and tried to get it overturned through the Federal Court system to no avail.  So they’ve inundated state legislatures with bills that aren’t specifically about abortion or are about various aspects of abortion but affect abortion anyway.  The Wisconsin “we have the right to shove a wand up your hoohoo” bill was one of those.   Other examples include attempts to have the fetus given legal “personhood” status, laws prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks, and modifying regulatory laws that affect clinics so they can’t provide services or cutting of their funding entirely.  On this last effort in Texas, I think there are only two clinics left to service the entire state that meets the new regulatory restrictions.  To make matter worse, Texas has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country.  I hope taxpayers there are as interested in paying to raise all those children as they were in forcing the mother to give birth.

This is just a few examples of their attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade “de facto” because they couldn’t do so “de jure“.  The same thing is happening with same sex marriage laws.  Hence the recent attempts in Arizona (and elsewhere).  And you will see the pattern on every single issue that the right has lost on over the last few decades.  In one sense it’s very frustrating to fight against this kind of attack because you’re constantly putting out a fire in different states and having to shift focus.  This is intentional on their part, of course, to make us fight in all fifty states and use up our more limited resources (they have the Koch brothers and other billionaires bankrolling their efforts–the laws were drafted by ALEC which is funded by these conservative billionaires).   And it distracts us from focusing on doing things that could really help people on a day to day basis like healthcare, raising the minimum wage, decreasing the gap between the 1% and everyone else (again, this benefits their wealthy benefactors).

In another sense, this may be a good sign because it means they’re getting desperate and that their values are dying as society changes both demographically and culturally.  In the meantime, we need to continue to fight all of these kinds of “local” incursions against our Civil Rights until the day when these zealots no longer have a choke hold on the nation’s political agenda.  I don’t care how they “phrase it”, discrimination is discrimination and I will oppose it to the bitter end.  It’s a Rubicon that this country cannot afford to go back across because it will mean that the LGBTQIA won’t be the only group they can and will exclude from having all of the same Civil Rights that they enjoy.  First they came for the Jews and I said nothing because I wasn’t Jewish, then they came for….

 

Edited after publication — see red text

The online version of the major state paper, AZCentral.com, did a little fact check on the following statement by State Rep. Adam Kwasman (R-Oro Valley):

This (Senate Bill 1062) is not a discrimination bill. It makes no mention of sexual orientation.

At first they decided it was “True” then they revised their decision to say it is “somewhat true, somewhat false”. What they’re really doing is trying to be balanced to avoid being labeled as biased as either too conservative or too liberal. So they hemmed and hawed and still haven’t gotten it right.

If they take the literal meaning of what he said in the second half–no mention of sexual orientation, then yes, it’s true. BUT the first part that says it’s not a “discrimination bill”? Is patently false. Which makes the entire thing false. Just because a bill doesn’t use an exact phrase doesn’t mean that the intention and effect of the bill wasn’t to violate the Civil Rights of American citizens.

Discrimination in the U.S. often takes the form of Civil Rights violations. Refusing to serve someone on the grounds of her race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, and in some states sexual orientation, would be a civil rights violation. Arizona does not prohibit discrimination against LGBTQIA. However, if it went up through the Federal Courts I can guarantee you that they would uphold it as discriminatory regardless of what state law says. Even if they didn’t, it’s still discrimination based on religion. For example, a business person saying “I won’t serve you because you’re gay and my religion says that’s evil” is the same as saying, “You believe that being gay is okay, so your religion allows it. That is different than my religion, so I am not going to not serve you.” Still discrimination.

So no matter how you slice it the paper got it flat out wrong–their “fact checker” sucks and it’s because they’re so scared of the “bias” criticism that they’ll bend over backward to make both sides happy. They’ve forgotten that journalism is about pleasing the politically motivated. It’s the report the objective truth–sometimes that truth is a conservative thing and sometimes it’s a liberal thing. But it’s still the truth and should be reported as such. This is precisely why our entire MSM (with the exception of Fox News who is clearly conservatively biased and makes no apologies for it) is quickly becoming useless.

Make note of the date because it is a rare day that agree with AZ Gov. Jan Brewer much less praise her, but I am going to do just that. She vetoed Senate Bill 1062 (the one that said its perfectly ok to violate the civil rights of LGBTQIA people if your imaginary sky god says they evil). What’s more is that she did it for all the right reasons: because we value religious freedom and non-descrimnation, because there has not been a single instance of a religious person having their freedom restricted because someone had the nerve to be gay in their vicinity, and the Senate has very important things to do, like pass a darn budget. Kudos Gov. Brewer!

Three AZ state senators who voted for the hideous “Jim Crow Bill” permitting civil rights discrimination against LGBTQIA people are now asking the Governor to veto it.  Sen. Bob Worsley (R-Mesa), Sen. Steve Pierce (R-Prescott) and Sen. Adam Driggs (R-Phoenix) said they have received feedback from fellow Republicans from across the nation that the bill was unacceptable.  They also say that they didn’t get enough time to really consider the bill.  And finally, they’re saying that opponents of the bill are mis-characterizing it as “religious intolerance” and that this accusation is “causing our state immeasurable harm.”

First, I don’t EVER, EVER want to hear from the people who make laws on behalf of this state or country that they were rushed.  Bullshit.  I don’t care how much pressure they feel. When it comes to ANY bill related to Civil Rights, it’s their job to slow down, present it to their constituents, think about the ramifications (good and bad), run it by some Constitutional Lawyers, and take their DAMN time before making up their mind. Saying they were rushed is a child’s excuse.

Second, why did they have to hear this from their fellow Republicans from other states?  There are plenty of people, you know their actual constituents, complaining right under their noses.  On Feb. 21st about 300 people gathered at the Capital to protest and encouraged Gov. Brewer to veto the bill.  As of last night, the crowd has grown to around thousand–on a weekday.  NYC or LA probably gets flash mobs with more people, but for AZ that’s not a bad turn out.  And it wasn’t just in the state capital either.  Tucson had protesters as well.  And I know the activity online is hot and furious–I wonder how many emails and calls the Legislature and Governor are getting now….  The very angry and active LGBTQIA community and others who support them, like myself, need to be heard.  That’s who our Reps and Senators should be listening to…not other members of their political party from out of state.  Those other Pols are much more concerned about optics than real justice or good governance.

Third, this change of heart is really about money.  They spoke to leaders of the business community (Apple, Inc, American Airlines, etc) who said if you do this, not only will tourists stop coming to the state (and we rely heavily on tourism for our economy) but businesses would also stop moving to Arizona.

Fourth and final, I get the impression that they’re saying [paraphrasing] that ‘people’s misconception of the bill is making us look bad.’  No, no that’s not it. What’s making us look bad is literally the bill itself.  It’s because the bill is an unconstitutional abomination that makes Arizona look like the home of the American Taliban.  Who needs to worry about Sharia Law?  It’s not the scary Muslim Usurper in the White House you need to worry about.  It’s the American (supposed) Christians that are trying to install their very own theocracy that keeps me up at night.  They need to stay out of people’s bed rooms and treat everyone with respect, compassion and kindness….I seem to recall a famous guy who purportedly lived in The Holy Land about 2,000 years ago  saying something like this…..hmmmm….if only I could recall his name…….if only THEY could recall his teachings.

Well, here we go again….the Republican dominated Arizona legislature is flirting with yet another unconstitutional law.  The Senate passed along party lines a law that would permit private businesses the right to refuse services based on their religious beliefs (of hate and intolerance) about LGBT people.

Why is it that many conservatives simply do not understand the nature of Religious Freedom in this country?  You have the right to believe whatever you want, to talk about those beliefs and to practice your religion without interference by the government.  Notice I said “government”, not everyone else, just the government.   Private individuals violating others rights is a mixed bag and one would have to look at the 200+ years of legal jurisprudence to tell what has been considered acceptable and what has not.

The argument being made in support of this bill is the same as the argument made in favor of discriminating against African Americans.  Here’s what they used to say.

Black people cannot eat in my restaurant because the Bible says so.

Now they’re saying…

LGBT people cannot eat in my restaurant because the Bible says so.

What if my religion said that men are stupid, lowly and sinful creatures who deserve death as punishment for their wickedness.   Do I get to refuse to worship with them?  Yes.  Can the government force me to worship with them?  No.  Can I say and write all kinds of horrible things about them?  Yes.   Do I get to refuse to serve them at my restaurant?  No.  Do I get to refuse to rent a place to live to them?  No.  Do I get to charge them more than other customers?  No.  Do I get to give them worse service or less value for their money?  No.  Legal precedence and this country’s values say that this is simply not acceptable.

It was an ugly sentiment back then and it’s just as ugly now.  We don’t get to discriminate against people just because our religion tells us to.  So if this bill passes the Arizona House, then the ACLU or NAACP or someone will file a lawsuit (and rightfully so) and our hard earned taxpayer money will be poured down the drain, once again, in defense of another patently stupid and unconstitutional law.

Why can’t our legislature focus on governing instead of making hateful laws?  Although we have plenty of problems that need to be tackled they’d rather pander to their foaming at the mouth base and waste what little financial resources we have.  Congratulations Arizona!   You voted them in and they’re screwing you over again.

The lawyers waiting to swoop in and make bank off the crappy decisions made by Republican Lawmakers.

The lawyers waiting to swoop in and make bank off the crappy decisions made by Republican Lawmakers.

PS: This pic is of three buzzards that I discovered sitting on a light post outside of my office the other day. An animal had probably died or was in the process of dying in the empty field across the street and they were biding their time. I’ve seen buzzards in AZ before but usually circling high up in the sky in rural areas. This is the first time I’ve seen them hanging out in a relatively urban area.