ICE Tried To Arrest An Immigrant Family. Their Neighbors Made A Human Chain To Protect Them…

Today, in a the Tennessee town of Hermitage (a suburb of Nashville), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) attempted to arrest and detain an immigrant man who was with his son. The man KNEW HIS RIGHTS, and did not allow the agents into his house. Later, when the man and his son attempted to leave the house in the van he uses to get to work, the ICE agents used their vehicles to block him in.

Ice agents are ALSO not legally allowed to force people from their vehicles without a Judge’s warrant, so the man and his son stayed inside the van as the agents attempted to wait it out. Over the course of the next few hours, neighbors began to assemble around the home. They brought the man and his son water, and even filled the van with gas so they could keep it running to keep them cool in the sweltering Tennessee sun…

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Finally, the neighbors formed a human chain to allow the the man and his son to safely reenter their home. Here is a Facebook Live recording of the neighbors protecting them. You should watch the whole thing. The people in the video are speaking Spanish, but you don’t need to be able to understand a word of Español to understand the bravery and love that is happening here…

 

We are living in a dystopian nightmare… And every day it seems like this republican administration creates another horror story to suck the hope from our hearts. But this is what hope looks like to me: It looks like neighbors lining up shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, and standing in solidarity against the hatred, bigotry, xenophobia, and fear that currently infects the soul of this nation — embodied by the cancer that is Donald Trump. This video is a remedy for hopelessness. I really don’t have a whole lot else to say. Watch it, share it with the people in your lives, and be inspired. There is hope… And it looks like bravely and actively loving our neighbors. Amen.

 

If this blog is one of the things that brings you hope, and if you’d like to help support it, you can help support it by becoming a Patron on PATREON… You can leave a tip on PAYPAL… Or you can follow me on FACEBOOK or on TWITTER. Also, thank you to Metro Council member Fabian Bedne for being an example of what compassionate leadership looks like in Nashville. Nashville folks: Support this man!

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The Deep Racism Of Trump’s “Go Back” Comment, and How It’s As American As Apple Pie

Most of us have heard by now that the President of the United States has gone FULL RACIST this weekend. To the absolute delight of white supremacists everywhere, Donald Trump suggested that U.S Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — all Women Of Color, and all U.S citizens — “GO BACK” to the countries they came from. Just in case you haven’t seen it yet, here you go:

In case you don’t already know, THREE of these four women were born in the United States, while Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia, moved here when she was 10, and became a U.S. citizen when she was 17 years old… Which, by the way, makes her a U.S. citizen a full six years longer than Melania Trump has been a citizen. The occupant of the White House has since doubled & tripled down on his racist comments. Meanwhile, the accomplices in the GOP have circled the wagons… When Kellyanne Conway was asked about Trump’s remarks, she demanded to know the ethnicity of the reporter asking the question (he was Jewish). And when Mitch McConnell was asked if it would be racist for someone to tell his foreign-born & naturalized wife to “Go back to where she came from,” he responded with his usual obfuscating cowardice (seen in the video below).

There is a LONG HISTORY of “Go back to where you came from” in this nation. This sort of sentiment is rooted and based in a deep sense of “If you don’t like OUR country, GO BACK TO THE SHITHOLE YOU CAME FROM.” The question we need to ask is obviously “Who is the ‘OUR’ in that sentence?” And the answer is just as obvious: It’s white people.

They’ll tell you it comes from a place of “America — Love it or leave it.” There have been MANY times in my life — while I was being critical of America — that someone has suggested to me that “If you hate it so much, maybe you should just leave.” The difference is that NEVER has it been suggested that I go *BACK* somewhere. And that’s because I’m white… I obviously “belong” here. Imagine hearing someone say to me “Go back to the Netherlands.” It just wouldn’t happen. And this sentiment is directly related to Trump’s previous “shithole” comments, when he referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries” in an Oval Office meeting on Immigration… followed by him openly longing for more immigrants from Norway. But that’s his brand, right? He hasn’t tried to keep it a secret. The “back” in “Go BACK to where you came from” contains a full measure of the insidious hatred & white supremacy infused into the “again” in the slogan “Make America Great AGAIN.”

Which reminds me… That is just some next-level hypocrisy to run an entire campaign on the idea that America isn’t “great” anymore, and that we need to make it “great again” — and THEN, with a straight face, call people “un-American” for criticizing America and thinking we need to make some changes. For the Republican Party to not acknowledge this CLEAR HYPOCRISY is either an acknowledgment of their stupidity or an acknowledgement of their dishonesty. Or both… I suppose they could be both stupid AND dishonest. But I’m pretty sure it’s primarily dishonesty.

And now people (like Kamala Harris, in the first tweet I shared) are reacting to his open racism by calling his comments “Un-American.” Well, I beg to differ. Racism is UN-AMERICAN?!? America was literally BUILT on racism. Call his comments hateful… Characterize them as morally repugnant… Feel free to compare his words to those of past world leaders who openly supported genocide… Tell the truth and call the things he said objectively racist… But don’t call the things he said “Un-American.” America has a rich history of “othering” people, and then telling those others to “go back where they came from.”

The definition of who we mean when we say “WE” is either expanding or contracting. The beginnings of the holocaust and genocide that took place in Germany started with demonizing immigrants. Then it CONTRACTED the idea of who gets to be part of the “WE” of Germany… All the way down to a very specific idea of whiteness or “purity.” And yes, in America there have been periods of time when we have done the hard work of EXPANDING the idea of who gets to be included in the “WE” of this nation. It has taken a Civil War and Constitutional Amendments and marches and funerals, and there have been heroes who have forced those steps toward equality and justice and an American ideal of welcoming all. But opposition to expanding who gets to be “IN” has always been spearheaded by Trump’s group: Wealthy, white men.

It’s nativism. It’s white nationalism. It’s xenophobia. It’s othering. And it’s an American tradition. The “othering” of people groups can be for any number of differences: Accent, language, religion, ethnicity, color, etc… But some of those differences are easier to hide than others. People can learn a new language or drop their accents, but the color of their skin is always with them. An Irish accent can disappear with kids who grow up here, but brown skin will identify someone as “other” for generations. It’s not that skin color is that much scarier than a different religion or a different accent… It’s just that it’s a difference that is easier to identify from a distance.

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Here’s how quintessentially American racist comments like Donalds Trump’s are: If you protest racism in this country, people think you’re protesting America.

And once again, the truly disgusting part of this is the way that the Republican Party rallies around his racist comments, while bending over backwards to excuse them. We have known that Donald Trump is a profoundly broken person for a very long time. This is not surprising behavior from the same person who recently blocked anyone from the U.S. from participating in the “United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.” Americans who are black and brown are already being told to “GO BACK” on a regular basis. Please spend some time reading the responses to this tweet by Gabe Ortíz

If you can read those responses without feeling your heart break, I don’t know what to tell you. People of Color already regularly hear the words “Go back to where you came from” in this country — Most of them started hearing it while they were just children. But the real tragedy is this: How much MORE are these kids, these mothers & fathers, these families going to feel the hateful sting of “GO BACK” now that people see the President of the United States doing it? All while the entire GOP excuses and even justifies it (Please read this terrific article by Neema Avashia titled “I Am From Here.”) For me, as a white man, I can be disgusted at this whole thing, and then move on to be grossed out by the next horrible thing he says… But for many people who don’t look like me, these things have real consequences. They will be dealing with emboldened racists and xenophobes for YEARS to come…

What will it take for the Republican Party to stop supporting and defending this awful man? 

 

HEY! You might have seen the above tweet making the rounds this week. THAT’S ME! Fun, right? Even GOD shared it… TWITTER is one way to keep up with me. FACEBOOK is another. Also, if you love this blog, and you’d like to help support it, you can totally do that. You can LEAVE A TIP ON PAYPAL. Or you can BECOME A PATRON and give a little bit each month. Most of all, thank you so much for reading.

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Harvard Admissions, and How To Tell If You’re Racist

It seems that many conservatives are outraged over the fact that Harvard University has rescinded its invitation to Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting survivor & “conservative activist” Kyle Kashuv. If you don’t know the story, here’s the gist: Kyle Kashuv was a junior when the Parkland shooting happened. In the wake of the massacre at his school, while most of his classmates called for gun reform, Kashuv made headlines by posting videos on Twitter of himself shooting an AR-15. His pro-gun stance made him the darling of Fox”News”, conservative/white supremacist voices like Charlie Kirk & Ben Shapiro, and even earned him a meeting with the Racist-In-Chief, Donald Trump. He became the high school outreach director for the far-right political group “Turning Point USA” — a group focused on fanning the flame of right-wing ideology on college campuses, and a group which has had a history of problems (SERIOUSLY) with its leadership saying and doing very racist things… Including TPUSA’s Chief Creative Officer kicking off a TPUSA event by saying, “My people. My people… Oh my God, I’ve never seen so many white people in one room; this is incredible!” Here’s the video:

It was after Kashuv’s appointment to the TPUSA position that his history of racist statements was brought to national attention. Some of Kashuv’s classmates threatened to expose the racist statements he made if he didn’t resign, and he abruptly left TPUSA to “focus his attention on school safety legislation” (the kind that doesn’t include gun control, to be clear). Classmates recalled him using the N-word regularly while he was in school. In one online exchange, he gave a girl a “rating” of 7 out of 10, and mentioned that she “goes for n*****jocks.”  He also bragged about being good at spelling the N-word because “practice makes perfect.” He made the racist statements when he was a junior — a couple months before the shooting occurred — and he’s a senior now. As these things do, Kashuv’s history of racist comments became public (as well as anti-semitic comments calling for people to “kill all the fucking Jews.” Which is odd, as Kyle Kashuv’s — whose middle name I don’t know, but I would not be surprised at all to find out was Kevin — family is from Israel). Harvard decided they didn’t want that kind of garbage at the most prestigious college in the world. Harvard has a policy where they can withdraw an invitation to attend “if you engage or have engaged in behavior that brings into question your honesty, maturity, or moral character(emphasis mine). This isn’t the first time they have done something like this —  Two years ago, they also rescinded offers from 10 incoming freshmen for sharing racist and sexually offensive memes on a Facebook page.

Harvard’s decision to rescind Kashuv’s admission has been met with much conservative outrage… From partisan hacks like Ben Shapiro to people like who sometimes dabble in rational thought like David Brooks. People are chalking up his racist comments as a “youthful mistake,” and they’re calling for forgiveness and grace. “A small mistake shouldn’t define the rest of your life!” cry the same people who defend the police shooting of Tamir Rice… A 12 year old boy… Who was playing in a park with a toy gun… In an open carry state… And was shot dead before the police car stopped rolling.

And now that former republican lawmaker David Jolly has said that Kashuv’s statements remind him of a school shooter, people are even MORE upset. He said that when he looks at Kashuv’s statements,  he sees the sort of “social media postings we see of a shooter, and we ask, ‘Where were the signs?’” But just look at the post to which he is referring…

So you might be wondering why this post is titled “How To Tell If You’re Racist.” I’d say that the vast majority of the people who are upset at what Harvard did would SWEAR UP AND DOWN that they are “not racist.” They’ll tell you about “black friends.” They’ll point you toward “Diamond & Silk” or Candice Owens (“Racist White America’s Black Friend”) or other black voices (whom white supremacists love to quote) who insist that racism doesn’t exist. But the truth is that racism DOES exist… And it’s the biggest reason why people are so upset about Kyle Kashuv not getting to go to Harvard. If you’re upset, it’s not because a college admissions office was “unfair” in judging a kid by what he did when he was 16… As these two perfect tweets point out, that is LITERALLY how university admissions works:

And that SHOULD settle it, right? I mean, how DARE Harvard not accept me just because I got a bunch of B’s and C’s while I was in high school!?! PEOPLE CHANGE!!! Listen — If you are upset about Kyle not getting into Harvard, it’s because you don’t think that using the N-word is that big of a deal. Period. So now, in the spirit of Jeff Foxworthy’s famous “You Might Be A Redneck” bit, here are some ways to know if you *MIGHT* be totally racist:

  • If you’re outraged about Harvard rescinding their invitation to a rich white kid who repeatedly used the N-word online and in real life, but you’re not outraged that the United States is running concentration camps for immigrants at the border, you MIGHT be totally racist…
  • If you’re suddenly concerned with the injustice of how we treat our youth, but you felt like Trayvon Martin’s murder was probably “justified” after you saw the picture of him flipping off the camera, or you heard that he once got in trouble for having weed, you MIGHT be totally racist…
  • If you think that gay couples who are refused service at cake stores should just “find another bakery,” but you are super pissed about a white kid being told to find another college after bragging about being good at writing the N-word, you MIGHT be totally racist…
  • If you think that the racist practices and people Harvard tolerated 200 years ago are equivalent to Kyle Kashuv using the N-word 20 months ago, you MIGHT be totally racist…
  • If you’re more outraged over a white kid being kept out of Harvard than you are about brown kids being separated from their parents and kept in LITERAL CAGES, you MIGHT be totally racist…
  • If you’re fine with a 16 year old black kid getting the consequence of life in prison for a horrible decision he made, but you’re very angry about a 16 year old white kid getting the consequence of not getting to go to Harvard after making the horrible decision to post racist, misogynist, & anti-semitic comments, you MIGHT be totally racist…

You know what? There’s really no “MIGHT” about it… You’re totally racist. Sorry. And I’m also sorry that the ones I came up with weren’t nearly as funny as Jeff Foxworthy’s… Though, to be fair, Foxworthy’s jokes really aren’t that funny either. Come to think of it, most of the ones I came up with would probably work with the “might be a redneck” line too. Ahh well, moving on…

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Here’s an easy way to tell if you’re racist: If you’re more upset about Kyle not getting to go to Harvard than you were about Trayvon not getting to go to college EVER, I’ve got some bad news for you…

One more thing to think about: This is not just about what is “fair” to Kyle Kashuv… It’s also about what is fair to the black student who worked her ass off her whole life to get into Harvard, and then finds herself having to sit next to some douchebag who belittled a girl for being into “N*****jocks” while he was a junior in high school, the whole world found out about it, and then the college you worked so hard for STILL let him in. How would admitting him be fair to HER?

I truly hope Kyle Kashuv learns from this and grows into a fantastic human being. I do. I hope he dedicates his life to making this right. I hope he moves beyond an apology, and learns firsthand about ATONEMENT. Life is a learning experience, and we all make mistakes… Some of those mistakes have consequences, and the one this kid made resulted in him not being able to go to Harvard University. Don’t worry Kyle: There are other colleges out there… I’m certain that Liberty University will still take you.

I took a couple weeks off because sometimes it all feels so huge and depressing and overwhelming. But I just want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH to those of you who help support me. It really helps. If you’d like to support this blog, the best way is to BECOME A PATRON. If you’d like to leave a tip for a post you really love, you can DO THAT ON PAYPAL. Otherwise, you can follow me on TWITTER, or on FACEBOOK, or you can subscribe to this blog up near the top of this page. Thanks again for reading!

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For Memorial Day, The U.S. Army Asked, “How Has Serving Impacted You?” It Did NOT Go As They Had Planned…

Over this Memorial Day weekend, the U.S. Army posted a PR video of a soldier telling about how his service has changed him. He said that it allowed him to “serve something greater than myself… The Army has afforded me the opportunity to do just that: To give to others, to protect the ones that I love, and to better myself as a man and a warrior.” They then posed the question, “How has serving impacted you?” I don’t think the responses they received are what they had in mind when they asked Twitter the question.

The responses were an avalanche of people — both soldiers & family members of soldiers — bearing witness to the trauma we inflict on our young people when we ask them to kill and be killed for the whims of the government. I’ve collected a few of the heartbreaking responses here for you to read and reflect on.

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I love this country, but you will never catch me “pledging allegiance” to the flag… Or the republic for which it stands. We are so very, very far from “liberty and justice for all.”

Many of those who responded spoke about the futility of war…

Many talked about how war eats people up and spits them out changed and broken…

Many soldiers spoke of the sexual harassment & assault they faced while serving…

Many speak to the continuing nightmares and trauma…

Some of the most powerful and heartbreaking statements were from the family members of soldiers…

And many more spoke to the fact that veterans are MORE THAN TWICE AS LIKELY to commit suicide than those outside of the military. Around 20 veterans kill themselves every day… And that does not necessarily count those who kill themselves in non-traditional ways, like high speed driving “accidents” or walking in front of a train…

There are literally hundreds & hundreds more. They should all be required reading before people enlist. To the Army’s credit, at least they have left the thread up, even though the responses are OVERWHELMINGLY negative. They posted the following comments:

Almost eight years ago I wrote a blog post (I can’t believe it’s been that long) that was titled “Sacrificing Our Children To The Nation-State”, and make no mistake: That IS what we are doing. In the essay Sacrificing the Sacrifices of War, Stanley Hauerwas writes, “No sacrifice is more dramatic than the sacrifice asked of those sent to war, that is, the sacrifice of their unwillingness to kill. Even more cruelly, we expect those that have killed to return to ‘normality.’” The greatest sacrifice we demand of these young men and women is NOT their time or their bodies or even their lives… The greatest sacrifice is asking them to sacrifice the part of our souls which knows we are not meant to kill each other. So as you kick back and grill some burgers and have a few drinks on this National Holiday, spare some thoughts for the many ways we have broken these precious people with our endless commitment to war… As well as our willingness to blindly venerate the people who have been sacrificed to the American War Machine. Happy Memorial Day.

 

Thank you for reading. Please honor these people’s service by believing the truth of the trauma that continue to face… Please go to the thread on Twitter, and spend some time reading their stories. If you’d like to stay in touch with me and my writing, you can subscribe to this blog, or you can follow me ON FACEBOOK and ON TWITTER. Take care of each other…

 

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God Is Pro-Abortion

Think about it: ONE IN FIVE pregnancies ends in a miscarriage… Or as the medical community refers to them, a “spontaneous abortion.” The Mayo Clinic says that the number is likely higher than that, because “many miscarriages occur so early in pregnancy that a woman doesn’t realize she’s pregnant.” It’s referred to as a “spontaneous abortion” when the pregnancy ends before 20 weeks, while after 20 weeks is often referred to as a “stillbirth.” If abortion is “murder,” then God is the biggest mass murderer of them all…

Consider that ratio for a moment: Twenty percent of all the fertilized egg on the earth. ONE out of every FIVE pregnancies — probably more — result in a naturally occurring abortion. And UNICEF estimates that more that 140 million babies are born each year worldwide. That’s an average of a little more than 386,000 babies every day…. So if you do the math, that means that more than 28 MILLION babies are naturally aborted every year. That means just under one spontaneously aborted baby every second of every day… Or, to put it another way, in the time it took you to read this sentence, God aborted roughly SEVEN BABIES.

Now, please believe me when I say that I’m not writing this just to heretically rustle the feathers of a bunch of evangelicals. I’m not (though I must admit, it is little bit of a bonus). I’m writing this in the hopes that you consider something you may not have considered before. Nearly all of the people who are in favor of this new wave of draconian abortion laws credit their religious beliefs as the reason for their opposition to keeping abortions safe and legal. They toss around slogans like “Abortion is murder.” They use the word “infanticide.” They use the word “holocaust.” They believe they have moral clarity, and they treat this issue as if they have been given a mandate from God.

But the God that they believe in is the God who is IN CONTROL OF THINGS. And the ALL-POWERFUL God who is supposedly “calling them” to vote for a pussy-grabbing, sexual-assaulting, philandering, thrice-married, compulsive liar & serial adulterer — all because he calls himself “pro-life” and they want to overturn Roe v. Wade — is the SAME GOD who is responsible for aborting 71,233 every day through the natural process of an egg being fertilized and growing in a woman’s womb. That’s the same God, by the way, who — IN THE BIBLE — gave the Israelites a process to cause an abortion in a pregnant women whom the husband suspects was unfaithful. God actually PRESCRIBES an abortion in the Bible, while telling us that lying and adultery are wrong… Meanwhile, people calling themselves “christians” attempt to make abortion illegal, all while voting for a liar & adulterer.

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This incredibly harmful and insensitive “murder” language is mostly used by people who have never spoken with actual women about the reasons why their abortion was necessary. When you actually LISTEN to a woman’s story, your “moral clarity” about making all abortions illegal fades away… Women who get a “non-compatible with life” diagnosis… Women with a baby who didn’t form an airway and would have been brain dead… Women who were carrying their rapist’s baby… Here’s a great tweet about how hearing her story changes things:

If you’re interested in seeing some of these stories, the hashtag #YouKnowMe on Twitter is incredibly powerful. It was started after Busy Philipps spoke about her abortion on her TV show. But the shitty thing is, these women shouldn’t have to explain something to the world that is private and often traumatic in order for them to be able to make decisions about their own bodies… Just like they were forced to relive the stories of their sexual assaults for people to take #MeToo seriously. The whole point of the 7-2 Roe v. Wade SCOTUS decision was that it is none of anyone’s fucking business.

The LAST POST I wrote was about abortion too, and I can’t tell you how many women I know have talked to me privately about the circumstances surrounding their own abortion. I have talked to women who have gone through the trauma of having a miscarriage, and received a D&C (a Dilation and Curettage — A surgical procedure that opens the cervix and removed the contents of the uterus), which made it more possible for them to have kids later. These new laws would turn D&Cs into a procedure that women would be forced to explain and justify.

And they do all of this — demonizing women, and calling for punishment, prison time, and even (without a hint of irony) the death penalty — without ever really considering the man’s role in this whole process. If you want to regulate something, it seems you would start with the actual problem. Perhaps mandatory vasectomies are the solution? Because it’s pretty clear that penises are the problem… A piece of hypocrisy that is perfectly pointed out in this tweet:

It’s maddening! There is no state in America where public support for these total abortion bans reaches even 25%. These new laws would subject women to examinations to “prove” that their miscarriage/abortion was spontaneous and not induced… Basically asking a woman to prove that their abortion was God’s fault instead of theirs. What does a policy like this say about what we think of women? And maybe equally bewildering: What does a policy like this say about what we think of God? ONE IN FIVE PREGNANCIES… And yet we’ve got people crediting their “christianity” as to why they are passing legislation suggesting prison sentences for women who get an abortion which are longer than the prison sentences of the men who raped them. Jesus wept…

 

Thank you so much for reading. Please offer support to the women sharing their stories of why we need to keep abortion safe and legal for those who need it. Please listen to their stories. Please vote like we are on the precipice of a return to a horrific time for women who need an abortion as part of their healthcare… Because we are.

If you’d like to become a patron of this blog, you can DO THAT HERE. If everyone who read my stuff became a $2/month patron, it would literally change my life. It you feel like leaving a tip on PayPal or boosting a particular post, you can DO THAT HERE. Otherwise, you can stay in touch with me on TWITTER and on FACEBOOK. Stay hopeful, stay loving, stay active, and stay angry.

 

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Men Aren’t Making Enough Noise About These New Abortion Laws

This includes me. I have been too quiet, and I’m sorry. The vast majority of the noise I have heard and seen has come from women. Which makes some sense, I suppose — These oppressive laws are attempting to control WOMEN’S BODIES and WOMEN’S CHOICES… But men have to be more involved, because our silence is failing them.

Before going any further, I should mention that I have written about abortion before. When I told my wife I was writing about abortion, she said, “Again?” I wrote a post about how complex this issue is titled “Finding A Middle Ground On Abortion.” I wrote a post about how God seems to be pro-abortion in the Bible called “The Test For An Unfaithful Wife,” or “How To Perform A Biblical Abortion.” I wrote about how, since Roe v. Wade, Democratic presidents & policies have LOWERED the actual rates of abortion while Republican presidents & policies have either increased the number of abortions or kept is stagnant… It was titled “Christians ~ Want Fewer Abortions? Vote Democrat.” I also wrote a satirical post titled “Christians Should Be Rooting For As Many Abortions As Possible” about how — if saving souls from hell/getting souls into heaven is really what it’s all about — abortion is actually has a way higher success rate than evangelism. I’m not going to go over all of the points I made in those articles again, but if you’re interested, there they are.

I’m sure you’ve seen that abortion is in the news again. This oppressive “fetal heartbeat law” recently passed and signed in Georgia is not unique — there are similar laws that were passed in Ohio and Louisiana which go into effect on July 1 of this year, while Georgia’s law doesn’t go into effect until January of 2020. These laws essentially makes abortions after 6 weeks illegal, even though most women won’t even realize they might be pregnant until AT LEAST around week 4… As if all women have cycles you could set your watch to. There has been a lot of misinformation about these bills, with people saying it allows for the death penalty for women who have an abortion. This is not true. What IS true is that it DOES penalize and criminalize doctors who perform abortions, and it COULD require women who have had a miscarriage to be submitted to exams to prove that she didn’t have an abortion. The law allows for exemptions in the case of rape or incest, but only when a police report has been filed. It’s a complicated mess, and there are a bunch of places on the internet (here’s one) that can explain the specifics to you better than I can…

It is no secret that these abortion bans are designed to get the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade… And as I wrote about HERE, Roe v. Wade was and is a case about PRIVACY. It is not about making a moral judgement, but it’s about how the state shouldn’t be able to look at a woman who has been raped and say “Prove it” before allowing her to terminate her pregnancy, and how that would be an egregious violation of a person’s right to privacy. They are trying to get the SCOTUS to revisit the ruling by attempting to define an embryo at six weeks — where a sensitive transvaginal ultrasound can detect the slight flutter of what would later develop into a heart — as a “full person” with 14th Amendment protections under the constitution. But as Andrew Fleischman pointed out, that would mean that thousands of “full persons” are being being unlawfully detained in prisons that hold pregnant women.

Lawmakers in many of these republican-controlled states are even inexplicably coming after emergency contraception… Which makes about as much sense as being against fire AND fire extinguishers:

We live in a country with people who are so comfortable with cognitive dissonance that they elect lawmakers who are calling themselves “anti-abortion,” while actively making it harder for women to get birth control… They try to allow insurance companies to refuse to cover abortion procedures, while they keep shelling out money for men’s boner pills… They put groups of men in charge of of making decisions about women’s healthcare…

Banning abortions doesn’t make abortions go away… It simply makes them unsafe. Republicans seem to think that banning things will fix all the world’s problems… All of the problems other than gun violence, that is.

Anyway, NONE of this is about doing things that will actually reduce the number of abortions. This is about CONTROL. It is about controlling women’s bodies. They don’t actually want to get rid of abortions. For most republican lawmakers, the issue of abortion is about power. It is about getting elected. It is about getting people out to VOTE. The moment a woman they’re having an affair with gets pregnant, they become as Pro-Choice as anyone on the planet. Rich conservatives love the abortion fight, because it allows them to say the reason they are voting republican is for “moral reasons,” instead of having to admit that it is just because of good ol’ fashioned combination of greed and preserving white privilege. Please make no mistake: These heartbeat laws are not being passed because republicans are anything close to “Pro-Life.” They’re not. At best, they are pro-BIRTH. You know who else has a heartbeat? Migrant kids.

And in the GOP’s attempt to stop abortions from taking place, they are focusing on WOMEN, and forcing them to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term… Instead of focusing on the actual problem: MEN. If lawmakers wanted to actually get rid of abortions, they totally could. Criminalizing abortion and punishing women is not the answer. Listen — You want to pass a law that reduces the number of abortions? PASS A LAW PUNISHING MEN FOR THEIR IRRESPONSIBLE EJACULATIONS! Because, as Gabrielle Blair wrote in her absolutely amazing Twitter thread, “Men are responsible for 100% of unwanted pregnancies.” And yeah, sure, I know: “It takes two to tango,” and all that… But it takes two people for INTENTIONAL pregnancies… It only takes one man ejaculating irresponsibly to create an UNWANTED pregnancy. Please read the whole thread below…

Men: WE ARE THE ONES CAUSING ALL OF THESE UNWANTED PREGNANCIES. The very least we can do is speak up and stand with the women who are being compelled into the role of Forced Baby Incubator. What I’d REALLY like to see is more men taking up the cause of vocally opposing this push toward turning “A Handmaid’s Tale” into a reality. This is not and CANNOT be only a woman’s fight. Men have got to be loud and active in our opposition to these unjust laws, which put all of the onus on the woman as a baby incubator, and none of the blame on the men who irresponsibly cause all of these unwanted pregnancies with their selfish desire to not wear condoms & their selfish insistence on not pulling out.

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Now, if we can just start getting people to READ…

We need to speak up when we hear people referring to abortion as “murder.” All of this hyperbole is so misleading and demonizing. Sperm is alive too… That doesn’t turn male masturbation into mass murder… And if it did, you can bet there would be no law passed against it. And all of this talk about “infanticide” is so utterly false. An embryo is NOT an infant. A fetus is NOT an infant. Nobody in the world is talking about having an abortion at 36 weeks… We who are Pro-Choice acknowledge that there are times when abortion is needed, and we want to keep abortions safe & legal for the women who find themselves in that difficult situation. And before anyone discusses whether an embryo is “fully human,” they need to understand that WOMEN are fully human.

  • Forcing a woman who has been raped to carry her rapist’s child is cruelly inhumane & dehumanizing to women.
  • Ordering a woman who has been raped to relive her trauma by insisting she press charges against her attacker in order to access a safe abortion is cruelly inhumane & dehumanizing to women.
  • Compelling a young woman — pregnant as a result of incest — to publicly report that family member before being able to end her pregnancy is cruelly inhumane & dehumanizing to women.
  • Requiring a woman who has gone through the trauma of a miscarriage to “prove” she didn’t have an abortion is cruelly inhumane & dehumanizing to women.
  • Demanding that a woman — who, with her doctor, goes through the difficult choice of deciding that terminating her pregnancy is in her best health interest — be subjected to insurance inquiries and possible criminal charges is cruelly inhumane & dehumanizing to women.
  • And men: Expecting that women fight this battle without our active & vocal support is ALSO cruelly inhumane & dehumanizing to women.

We must do better.

 

I’m probably going to lose some followers over this post, but I’m totally okay with that… Ten years ago, I could have NEVER seen myself writing something like this. And if you don’t agree with me right now, perhaps in ten years you will also have had your mind changed. Here’s hoping… And speaking of hope, I hope you consider BECOMING A PATRON. Or, if you like what you see here, and you want to leave a tip, you can LEAVE A TIP ON PAYPAL. Otherwise, stay in touch with me ON FACEBOOK and ON TWITTER. Or share this post with people in your life. Also, and more importantly, please use whatever platform you have to magnify the voices of the women who are doing such amazing work in this fight. Stay hopeful…

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics, 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Thoughts On Praying For Miracles

When my wife was diagnosed with cancer, the doctor told us there were many people at the hospital willing to pray for us. I said, “I’ll take my prayers in the form of competent expertise.” I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately… A lot of you may already know that Rachel Held Evans has been in a medically induced coma for a couple weeks now. If you don’t know who that is, you should. She’s a lot like me, only she’s smart and successful and a really good writer. Folks on Twitter have started the #PrayForRHE hashtag to allow people to share their love & prayers during this scary time…

As a writer & a blogger & a Christian who went through deconstruction, it was only natural that I was introduced to the beautiful mind of Rachel Held Evans. She is one of my heroes. She has this way of saying things that feels so Fresh & True & Good. People would send me her articles all the time. Many of the things she wrote became a sort of Doubter’s Canon for people who had questions about their unraveling faith. The news of her health struggles have broken my heart. I just love her.

Before I was aware of the inherent danger strangers/men like me posed to people like Rachel, I think I messaged her something like, “We should totally be friends.” My feelings were a little hurt when she didn’t respond. Ha! As if she owed me a response… Anyway, I have looked on through tears as people post their prayers & well-wishes to her on social media. She is so universally beloved by people I respect, and so feared & reviled by people I can’t stand. And through all this, I have been thinking once again about prayer.

In the faith of my youth, PRAYER was the thread I started pulling on which led to the unraveling of my Sweater Of Traditional Christian Theology… An admittedly ugly sweater. I grew up in Church. I went to a Christian School, kindergarten through college. I was a Young Life leader. I worked at a Christian Camp. I did Bible studies. I did prayer groups. I did all the Christian things.

It wasn’t until I moved to Nashville that I had my first experience with a church that “believed in miracles.” For a while, we attended the sort of church that would tell stories about seeing angels, & limbs growing back, & the dead being raised. They were interested in the God of the Spectacular. I remember watching once as prayer team members were released, and they pushed past addicts & single moms to get to a person on crutches… In the hopes of seeing him spectacularly drop those crutches. One Sunday we worshipped late into the afternoon, as we received news that God had miraculously healed a woman of her ovarian cancer! We cried & sang & collected an offering.

When she died from cancer about a year later, no one mentioned it…

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You don’t see faith healers working in hospitals for the same reason you don’t see psychics winning the lottery… 

I work at a restaurant, & most of the people there know I’m a big fan of Jesus. A few years ago, a friend asked me to pray for her gravely injured brother to get better. I told her I would—even though by then I had stopped believing in that sort of prayer. I couldn’t sleep that night. He died soon after. I cried later as I told her that I didn’t really believe that is how God works. And that I didn’t want my prayer testifying of the God who COULD, but so often decides to NOT.

I feel like the #PrayForRHE hashtag is a net good… Seeing all of us beautiful misfits come together around loving RHE was inspiring. Certainly, the GoFundMe was a beautiful act of generosity & support & goodness. But there’s a part of this whole thing that is troubling me. And it came to a head for me today, when Nadia Bolz Weber—another important voice I love & respect—posted a tweet about praying for Rachel that said “We’re not asking nicely anymore, God.”

And I guess that’s my worry here: It feels to me like these prayers for healing paint a picture of a God on a throne… A God who has plenty of water for a kid dying of thirst, but who is like, “Sorry, you didn’t say PLEASE.” It feels like a physician who has the cure for a deadly disease, but requires the sick person to get 10,000 signatures first. Or to get a hashtag trending. It feels like being back at that Holy Spirity, charismatic church, and having to listen to people talk about “Storming the Gates of Heaven,” or “Holding God to his promises.” It feels like the bullshit that is Name It & Claim It.

It feels like “Everything happens for a reason” and “All part of God’s plan” and “God never gives us more than we can handle.” And if I’m being honest, it feels like the reason I can’t go to church anymore. 

It feels like what led me to read Rachel’s work in the first place.

And please believe me when I say that I’m not writing this to try to steal anyone’s hope during this hard time. I am filled with hope. I realize these prayers can be comforting to some. But beyond this tragedy, I am worried about what these prayers say about God. If her brain isn’t healed, it’s because “God had other plans.” If her brain IS healed, then God healed it… Healed by the same God who was in control when this happened. And the same God who healed her brain still decided not to heal some little kid’s leukemia.

This is the God of “Have you considered my servant, Job?” allowing Satan to torture & murder an entire family because God felt like showing off. That’s the distorted picture of God Jesus tried to fix… And the same distortion the Still-Speaking Voice Of God still longs to correct.

I have no interest in a faith or a theology that is not intellectually honest enough to deal with the Problem of Pain without deferring every answer to some supposed omnipotence, while simultaneously refusing to address the inherent immorality of inaction.

I am done worshipping “The God Who’s In Control Of Everything.” I’m done with The Volcano God, who requires a sacrifice. A VIRGIN sacrifice. The God who hears us if we’re pure enough. Or ENOUGH enough. The God who moves mountains IF we just have faith like a mustard seed. Because “The God Who’s In Control Of Everything” quickly becomes a monster… ESPECIALLY to those who are oppressed. When we ask for the mountain to move, I believe in the God who hands us a shovel. Not because God WON’T, but because God CAN’T.

As my wife & I raise our 3 kids, we are trying to give them as little theology as possible that they’re going to have to deconstruct later. If they hear a prayer from me, they won’t hear me pleading with God to do a miracle… They hear me acknowledging that the God of the universe binds us together in love… That God is in us all, and that Gods knows what it’s like to feel powerless and forsaken… That we love God best when we love & take care of each other… But you will NEVER hear me testifying—with my words or my prayers—of the God who COULD help, but doesn’t. That God might be powerful, but we could never call that God “Good.”

And if God’s not Good, then what’s the damn point?

 

Thank you for reading. This was initially published as a Twitter thread, but I wanted to make it available to those of you who aren’t on Twitter. I have written a few different times about this stuff. If you’re interested, here’s one: “Fun With Cancer” (by the way, my wife is cancer free now… So that’s a really good thing). Another one is “God Had Nothing To Do With This.” One more is titled “When Prayer Is Worthless: Some Thoughts On The Cold Weather.”

If you are a person who loves this blog, and you’d like to help support me and my writing, I’ve got some good news for you: YOU CAN! You can BECOME A PATRON and give a little each month. You can LEAVE A TIP ON PAYPAL. Or you can simply follow me on Facebook and on Twitter, and share the stuff you love with your friends. I am so honored that there are people in the world who value what I write here. THANKS AGAIN!

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Share This With A Trump-Supporting “Christian”

I know it can be easy to forget all of the thousands of things which — on a daily basis — prove that Donald Trump is an objectively awful, morally bankrupt human being. It’s too overwhelming to keep track of… As soon as you hear about one horrible thing he’s said or done, he does something else that is even MORE monstrous or moronic, and then you end up forgetting the insidious thing he did four hours earlier. And when we live with this depraved pattern, it’s difficult to get people to coalesce behind a response to the evil we are seeing. For people to come together and demand change, it takes an act of awfulness on a truly epic scale (like separating children from their families and locking kids in cages) to bring us together in one voice of resistance… And even then, we soon get distracted by another bit of awfulness. People are overloaded with outrage and disgust, as outrageous and disgusting behavior from the president becomes the new “normal.”

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“When you’re famous, they let you do it.”

And the truly bewildering, infuriating, and heartbreaking thing — for me, at least — is this: Somewhere around 80% of white, evangelical “christians” support him. 80% of white evangelicals don’t know enough about Jesus to know that Donald Trump is the polar opposite of Jesus in every possible way. I’m not calling him the “antichrist,” but he is CERTAINLY anti-Christ. I mean, I understand why all the white supremacists love him… But Jesus-followers?!? I guess it shows how closely related white supremacy is with white evangelical christianity. And if he wins another term, it will be white evangelical — people calling themselves “christians” — who give it to him.

Something has to be done. These people have to be shown and reminded on a regular basis that Donald Trump is as ANTI-CHRIST as any leader has ever been… And they’re not going to get that information from watching Fox”News.” So at the risk of this post being just another bit of noise against Trump’s symphony of awfulness, I’m asking that you read through these, remember what it was like when every day wasn’t another startling act of depravity, and then share this post with one of those “christians” in your life. Share it as a comment when they post something about supporting this horrible, broken man… Share it with your parents, share it with your crazy uncle, share it with the crazy lady on your Facebook forum. Share it… And remind people that this stuff is NOT normal.

To jog your memory, here is a totally NON-exhaustive list of some of the truly despicable things that have been done by the man who is still supported by an overwhelming number of white evangelicals:

  • 23 WOMEN (so far) Have Accused Him of Sexual Assault and Misconduct. In the era of #MeToo, Trump has somehow escaped accountability for his actions… Probably because there is so much other awfulness to try and keep track of. Among the accusers are his ex wife Ivana (Eric, Ivanka, & Don, Jr’s mom), a woman whose allegation he dismissed because she was TOO UGLY TO SEXUALLY ASSAULT, as well as a one of the teenagers whom he BRAGGED TO HOWARD STERN ABOUT how he used to intentionally barge in on in their dressing rooms during the Miss Teen USA pageant. But none of this is surprising for a person who was caught on tape…
  • BRAGGING ON A BUS ABOUTTrying to fuck” a married woman,  forcibly kissing women against their will, and saying that he can “Grab ’em by the pussy.Two crazy things about that: There are people out there who are probably offended that I just wrote those words, but they are NOT bothered by the fact that the man they voted for actually SAID THEM. Also, Billy Bush was forced to resign for laughing at the things Trump said, but there was no accountability for Trump. It’s all on tape right here…

    And here’s what TRULY unbelievable: My 13 year old son came in here while I was writing this, and I felt like I had to shield the computer screen from him. He knows every word to Hamilton and Rent, but I had to protect his eyes from seeing the sort of filth that is said by the President of the United States.
  • HE LIES ABOUT 30 TIMES A DAY. Literally. Of course, these are only counting the lies he makes publicly… I’m sure it’s significantly more than that. This is DOUBLE his average from 2018… which was TRIPLE his average from 2017. He is a serial liar, and the christians who support him don’t care. One of his biggest lies was his claim that he was…
  • DRAINING THE SWAMP. It’s a phrase that means to root out corruption and fixing the governmental problems caused by putting political cronies in positions of power. White evangelicals would rapturously cheer “DRAIN THE SWAMP” at his political rallies… Here is what “draining the swamp” has looked like in the Trump administration:

  • HE MOCKED A DISABLED REPORTER. Stop. Seriously don’t even act like he didn’t. He totally did. It’s embarrassing to both of us when you don’t admit it… And what’s even MORE embarrassing is that you don’t admit that this is as totally opposite to Jesus as something gets.

  • HE DEFENDED WHITE SUPREMACISTS. This really shouldn’t come as a big surprise, since he is a white supremacist himself… But his “very fine people on both sides” remark about the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville was one of the low points in the history of the ANY presidency. And a low point for America.
  • AFTER 9/11, HE BOASTED THAT HIS BUILDING WAS “NOW THE TALLEST.” When terrorist attacks brought down the twin towers, he bragged about how his building is now the tallest one downtown. Seriously — What kind of depraved human being does something like this? One white “christians” overwhelmingly support… That’s what kind.

  • HIS TREATMENT OF IMMIGRANTS. Front to back, the Bible calls us to treat immigrants and aliens like they are one of “us.” His continued demonization of immigrants & migrants from Mexico and Central America is as Anti-Christ as anything that could come from an actual Antichrist.
  • HIS POTTY MOUTH. As I sit here writing this, the president has just referred to the Mueller Report as “total bullshit.”  He also retweeted a person who referred to the probe as a “circle jerk.” When he heard that Special Counsel was appointed, he said, “I am fucked.” Are white evangelicals okay with this? Are you still using the “baby Christian” defense? This is not even counting this ridiculous hypocrisy…

And listen, I’m obviously just scratching the surface here. There are giant lists of Trump’s disgustingness. This country has elected one of the most disgustingly immoral human beings on the PLANET as its leader… A man who cheated on his 3rd wife — shortly after she gave birth to his son — with multiple women, and then paid them off to keep them silent… A man who offered to pay the legal fees of people at his rallies who assaulted protestors… A man who encouraged members of his team to obstruct justice… A man who refers to black countries as shitholes… A man who can’t even muster a moment of class or kindness after a political rival has died… A man who ordered kids to be put in cages and separated from their families for the “crime” of their parents seeking asylum… A man who alludes to having the people involved in the Mueller investigation put to death

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Opposite of Jesus in every possible way…

Listen carefully, because these are the truest words I can tell you: If you are a person who calls yourself a Christian while still supporting this objectively immoral and evil man, you don’t know the first thing about what it means to follow Jesus. You act like Jesus is important to you, but when the republican party picks a person who is opposite of Jesus in every discernible way, you follow him like the lost sheep you are. Your religion isn’t Christianity… It’s White Nationalism. It’s time for you to choose between Trump and Jesus.

 

ALRIGHT! If you are a trump supporter, and you made it this far, chances are not very good that you are thinking, “I wonder how can I support this guy’s writing?” But just in case you are (or in case you, like me, can clearly see that evangelical support of Trump is about the height of hypocrisy), here’s how you can help — If you’d like to become a Patron on PATREON and give a few bucks a month, you can DO THAT HERE. If you’d like to leave a tip on PayPal and buy my wife a cup of coffee, HERE’S THE SPOT. Otherwise, please follow me on FACEBOOK or on TWITTER. Much love…

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It Won’t Be Long Until This Administration Starts Killing People

After the Mueller Report was released, and people got to read for themselves (redacted as it was) the OVERWHELMING evidence of Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice, Donald (as he often does) took to Twitter to express his anger. And the world clutched their collective pearls as the President of the United States used the words “total bullshit” to describe the Report. It should be pointed out here how quickly Trump went from calling it a “total exoneration” to calling it “total bullshit.” Here are the first two of his tweets:

Now, I am not AT ALL bothered by the use of the phrase “total bullshit.” I think that “total bullshit” is a fantastic phrase, and — if I’m being honest — I use it just about every day… Certainly most every time I see things that 45 has written on Twitter. There are some words that just taste better in my mouth as I say them. I can’t tell you how many times, while voice-to-texting in my car, I have had to backspace over any number of colorful phrases, because some idiot did something stupid while he was driving. When I’m driving by myself, the words that come out of me make the phrase “total bullshit” look like something you would put in a children’s book. So, no… I am not bothered by him saying “total bullshit.”

What I AM bothered by is the THIRD tweet in that series:

Read it again… Here is why those words, “Spying or Treason,” are so significant: There are 41 Capital Offenses that can bring a Federal death sentence. Of those 41, there are only TWO crimes for which people can be lawfully put to death which do not involve killing another human being. Can you guess what those two crimes are? That’s right… TREASON and ESPIONAGE.

And if you think his base isn’t picking up on that, you are wrong. James Woods — the vocal Trump supporter, former actor (whose parts were all limited to total sleazeballs), and current example of all that is wrong with the world — just posted a now-deleted tweet about the Mueller Report with the hashtag #HangThemAll… which was trending for a while on Twitter. Here it is:

People who study history know where this kind of thing is headed. It’s headed for GENOCIDE. And I don’t say that lightly. There are Eight Stages of Genocide. Stage 7 is “Extermination.” We are EASILY at Stage 5, and probably closer to Stage 6. And I know people balk when you compare Trump to Hitler. They call “hyperbole” on you… But that’s just because we remember Hitler at the end of his life — at his worst. Nobody is comparing Trump to Hitler in 1944… But comparing him to Hitler in 1932 is totally valid. This is not that much of a stretch for a man who kept a book of Hitler’s speeches next to his bed. He also regularly employs Nazi propaganda strategies…

There is a propaganda tactic know as the “Big Lie.” This is a term coined by Adolf Hitler, and it basically refers to a lie so huge that nobody would believe that someone had the audacity to tell it. You have probably heard the quote — often falsely attributed to Hitler or his minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels — “If you repeat a lie frequently enough, sooner or later people will believe it.” This is actually a paraphrase from a psychological profile of Hitler. See if this quote from that profile reminds you of anyone…

“His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.

It seems like “telling the same lie so many times that people believe it’s true” has become Trump’s favorite strategy. Sometime, when you’re feeling more impervious to despair, go on Trump’s Twitter feed and take note of how many times he says the Mueller Report confirms that there was “No Collusion, No Obstruction,” even though it clearly and specifically says that “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.” In other words, THIS REPORT IS DEFINITELY NOT AN EXONERATION. The Department of Justice believes that you can’t indict a sitting President, so the Mueller Report lays out the case for obstruction charges to be used to remove him from office… so that he can THEN be indicted.

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For the life of me, I still can’t figure out how this asshole is president…

HERE are the views of 12 DIFFERENT LEGAL EXPERTS on whether or not the Mueller Report “exonerates” Trump of Obstruction of Justice. It’s not even CLOSE to an exoneration. It is damning evidence of a man who was very willing to subvert and ignore the rule of law. It lays out multiple times that Trump gave orders to subordinates to obstruct justice… They just refused to do what he told them to do, because they knew it was illegal, and it would end up with them going to jail. Literally the only thing keeping it from being full-on, textbook obstruction of justice is the people who refused to follow his illegal orders. And STILL Trump pushes the big lie that the Mueller Report shows there was “NO OBSTRUCTION.” And for some reason, none of his supporters seem willing to read it…

And now that this pile of damning evidence is out for the world to see, this narcissistic man is literally calling for the DEATHS of the people who exposed his crimes. And he’s doing this while continuously using another Leninist, propaganda phrase, “The enemy of the people,” to refer to the press which uncovers his attempts to cover up his crimes. A person who is innocent of the accusations against him does not, when he hears that a Special Counsel had been appointed to investigate his actions and misdeeds, say the words, “This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.” And even now, even with PROOF of Trump’s total disregard for ethics and the rule of law (not to mention truth or morality), the Democratic-controlled House is refusing to begin impeachment proceedings…

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With each of these men, history has proven who the REAL enemy of the people has been… And it will do the same with Trump.

Meanwhile, the president of the United States of America is putting out test balloons on Twitter to see if people will stomach him talking about having his political enemies put to death. He is calling the Free Press “The enemy of the people.” He encourages violence, and he traffics disinformation and outright lies. He and his corrupt administration are inching this nation toward authoritarianism, fascism, and genocide. And he is daily attacking everything that makes this country worth a damn… All while claiming to be “making America great again.”

He is so utterly awful that his actions are even beneath people like Joe Walsh. Think about the following tweet…

Trump has made hundreds of tweets detailing his anger at the people working to bring his actions into the light — Both the Press and the Office of the Special Counsel — but he has nothing but praise for Putin and for Russia. And now he is suggesting that the people involved in the investigation be tried for espionage and treason… The only two federal crimes you can be killed for which don’t involve a punishment for murder. Trump is not like Richard Nixon… He’s much, much worse. If people really want to Make America Great Again, they need to remove the traitorous, corrupt, lying moron who is currently in power.

 

Thank you for reading! I have already written another post I will probably be publishing tomorrow. Please don’t give up. I know his awfulness is relentless, but the ice is cracking beneath him. He can’t survive forever by just telling Big Lies to the people who watch Fox”News.” Look for places of encouragement. Look for the goodness in the world… It’s all around us. As always, if you want to become a Patron and SUPPORT THIS BLOG ON PATREON, that would be amazing. If you’d like to leave a tip because you really liked a post, you can DO THAT ON PAYPAL. Otherwise, please just share this with your friends, and you can follow me on Twitter and on Facebook. Thanks again…

 

 

Posted in 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Four Reasons Why School Vouchers Are A Terrible Idea

I have spent the last five mornings standing next to the road in front of my kids’ school to show my support for the public school teachers who give their time and energy to teach my weird little kids how to not be dumb. Most of us are wearing #RedForEd. We’re a pretty eclectic group. So far there has been an inflatable T-rex, Waldo, a human “Floaty Guy” (as my kids call them), a whole lot of kick-ass moms, a few kids & dads, and a Roman Emperor of some sort, who wears a red cape and shouts “Honk, as your Emperor commands you!” and asks the prescient question, “Are you not entertained?!?”  We basically stand out there with signs (turns out my wife’s spiritual gift is making protest signs), and we encourage people to honk their horns if they think that public schools should be fully-funded, and if they’re AGAINST pulling funding from public schools to pay for kids to go to private schools… AKA “Vouchers.”

All around the country right now, there are attempts being made to push legislation for “vouchers” which can be used for kids to attend private schools… essentially taking the money earmarked for their public schooling, and giving those funds to private schools. If you are living in a state with a republican-controlled legislature, chances are good they are trying to pass laws legalizing school vouchers. In Tennessee, where I live, Governor Bill Lee knows that “Vouchers” don’t have a very good reputation, so he is dishonestly attempting to rebrand them as “Educational Savings Accounts.” But make no mistake — They’re vouchers.

Since people might not know what vouchers are (or why they are the worst), and since you might not get that information while driving and honking at a T-rex, I’ve decided to attempt to make it a little clearer… Here are four reasons why school vouchers are a terrible idea — for your state, and for mine:

1) PUBLIC FUNDING FOR DISCRIMINATORY SCHOOLS — This should go without saying, but we should not be using public funds to pay for religious educational institutions which write discrimination into their bylaws… Schools like the one Karen Pence works at (the Vice President’s wife), which bars its employees & students from engaging in or EVEN CONDONING any “homosexual or lesbian sexual activity” or “transgender identity.” A long time ago, I applied for a job as a teacher here in Tennessee at a private religious school (Church of Christ). The application asked me to describe my faith… and only provided about four lines for my answer. It also asked me to describe my thoughts about modest dress for women… But there were roughly sixteen lines for my response to THAT important issue. I was like, “You know what? I don’t think this is a good fit,” and handed them back their application form.

Vouchers provide public tax dollars for religious schools… Schools that can hire unqualified teachers to teach kids… Schools that are allowed to discriminate… Schools who can teach whatever nonsense they want: The world is flat, geology is a satanist plot, Adam lived with a T-rex in the Garden of Eden, vaccines cause autism, earth quakes happen because God is angry about “the gays,” essential oils cure cancer, Jesus hates science, etc…  And if none of those things seem particularly concerning to you, here’s a good rule of thumb, white evangelical republicans: Imagine the religious schools that are getting public funding are Islamic schools… Does it still sound like a good idea? I didn’t think so.

2) IT’S DISHONEST — They’ll tell you that vouchers are for “poor kids trapped in failing schools,” but if that’s true, why are all the people who are pushing vouchers from the more “desirable” schools districts, and the people who are vocally AGAINST vouchers are teachers, families, and representatives from those struggling districts? They have FAILED to improve student achievement. Vouchers are pushed by people like Betsy DeVos, who dishonestly claimed that larger class-size could be better for students. The same Betsy DeVos who pushed to win “school choice” in Michigan, and then watched as STUDENTS & CHILDREN LOST in a colossal failure (the article is long, but it’s very important). The same Betsy DeVos who met with Gov. Bill Lee in a closed-door meeting to plot their plan to mislead (in every sense of the word) Tennesseans into not recognizing “Educational Savings Accounts” for what they are.

3) FUELING INEQUALITY AND SEGREGATION There is nothing I’m going to write which will explain this better than THIS ARTICLE RIGHT HERE. Please take the time to read it. In fact, if you have to choose between that article and this one, choose THAT one. But if you don’t read it, just know that private schools are way more segregated places than public schools. For example “from the article), “In Mississippi, white students comprised 51 percent of all school-age students but an overwhelming 87 percent of all private school students. This pattern holds across Southern states that demonstrated resistance to school integration.” The growth & explosion of private schools coincided with forced integration for a reason. And as the article points out, “Sociologists have shown that for white families, ‘best’ is often shorthand for ‘white,’ even if the school in question does not necessarily evince better educational outcomes than its more multiracial peers.”

In addition, vouchers and “school choice” exaggerates economic disparities and inequality. The voucher being proposed in Tennessee is around $7300… This amount would not even cover half of most of the private schools in this area. So basically that money amounts to a tax cut for people who can already afford to shell out thousands of dollars to pay for their kid’s education. It does NOT help the folks living paycheck to paycheck… Nor the ones who don’t have a reliable car to drive their kids to school in… Nor the ones who don’t have a stay-at-home mom to drive that reliable car… AKA primarily People of Color.

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Someday our grandkids will look at the push to pass vouchers in the same way we look at pictures like this one…

4) THE MYTH OF “COMPETITION” CREATING BETTER SCHOOLS — They will tell you that this is all about choice… that competition is good for schools… that if students are able to take their $7300 with them/away from an underperforming school, the “invisible hand of the market” will fix the problem. But what about the kids left in those failing schools — the ones “left behind,” so to speak? Education is a necessity. We don’t do this with other necessities. We don’t do this with WATER. We don’t allow competing water companies to provide water for different neighborhoods, and then hope to “weed out” the “underperforming” companies who are putting out unsafe water (unless you’re living in Flint, I suppose). Do you know WHY? Because as one water company is failing, the people living in that area are getting sick. They are dying. And THEN, we certainly don’t offer the people living in areas with the diseased water “vouchers” for water from the successful water companies’ areas. That would be insane. What we do is we FIX THE PROBLEM, so that everyone in all the areas is getting good water. We do this because water is important… Well, you know what? SO IS EDUCATION.

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Teachers are underpaid, y’all. This is so messed up…

Here’s what we need to do: WE NEED TO PAY TEACHERS LIKE WE VALUE THE JOB THAT THEY ARE DOING. This Time Magazine article told a story of a full time teacher who has multiple jobs, is selling her blood plasma, and STILL is having a tough time making ends meet. The teachers I’ve been standing beside this past week are the sort of people who pour their entire lives into children in their care… OUR CHILDREN. They are the sort of people who stay up late making signs, and wake up early to stand outside in the rain and protest these stupid vouchers. They are the sort of people who inspire my kids to learn, and inspire me to stay up late writing this post. The least we can do — and I mean the VERY least — is to fully fund our public schools before we even CONSIDER the idea of pulling funding away from them so that wealthier, majority white folks can have an easier time financially sending their kids to a private school. Ugh…

SAY. NO. TO. VOUCHERS.

 

If you live in Tennessee, you can call the members of the House Finance, Means & Ways Subcommittee (if you click on a member’s face, it will take you to their contact information), and tell them to vote NO on Gov. Lee’s dishonest voucher plan. Tell them that it doesn’t make sense to fix struggling schools by pulling funding from them. Tell them we need to pay Tennessee’s teachers so well that people from other states want to come HERE to teach. DO IT TODAY! There are only a couple weeks left before this bill could become law…

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