The Widdershins

Speechless

Posted on: June 21, 2018

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I have spent the last 2 days thinking about what the subject of my weekly post here would be. Honestly – I’m just at a loss for words. The revelations about the concentration camps Donald Trump is building for children – including babies – just kind of takes my breath away and leaves me speechless. Over the last couple of years, as we have watched Trump rise, many of us began comparing him to the Nazis, seeing parallels between his rise to power and Hitler’s. There are many who really believe in Godwin’s law that comparisons to Hitler are inevitable and once you compare someone to Hitler you’ve lost the argument. Except we’ve now jumped the shark and even Mike Godwin himself has cancelled his own law. “By all means, compare these shitheads to Nazis. Again and again. I’m with you,” he tweeted in August 2017. I don’t think you need to have millions of people burn in ovens before you say: “You know, maybe it’s not too early to call them Nazis.” As awful as Trump has been, I just was not ready for “concentration camps for babies” awful. Though it should be noted Hillary Clinton warned us about that too: in one of the debates she said Trump intended to take children away from their parents. But who would believe such a thing was possible! All the pundits who laughed at Hillary, called her “over prepared,” and openly shilled for Trump are now dismayed that Trump would do such a thing. Well, she tried to tell you. When Hillary said “I’m the last thing standing between you and the apocalypse” – perhaps the hyperbole wasn’t that big.

So here we are, with baby concentration camps courtesy of Donald Trump. Kirstjen Nielsen, who was at the center of Dubya’s catastrophic Katrina response, has thrown herself into this with body and soul. Trump will wrap this disaster around her neck and throw her overboard soon. She will be the latest casualty of Trump’s magical ability to grind people and their reputations into dust. People like Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, General MacMaster, Rex Tillerson, James Comey, etc. etc. Don’t feel bad for them. Each and every one was a willing participant in this charade. So it will be with Kirstjen Nielsen when Trump blames her for everything and fires her. The disgraced secretary who had no idea most people in Sweden were white will crawl away licking her wounds and not peep a bad word against Trump. And let her crawl away all the way into hell. I am not a religious man, but times like these make me hope there is, in fact, a God who damns evildoers to hell. Because that’s where people like Donald Trump and Kirstjen Nielsen belong: in the fires of hell, for all eternity, amen.

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From New York Magazine, 06/18/18

[Note: There is a national day of protest against family separation on June 30th. Here’s the info.]

Hello from the West Coast, Widdershins! The good news is that Mr. MadamaB and I have managed to lug ourselves here successfully; the bad news is, our furniture hasn’t. We are drumming our fingers in a hotel waiting for the truck to be loaded and driven across country…and we just found out our delivery date is later than expected, so, shelling out more money than we wanted to. And, my first work day is Friday. SIGH. All part of the process, I guess.

While I have been fully preoccupied with all the logistics of The Big Move, our national Dumpster fire has been raging on the topic of the Mango Moron’s policy of ripping children from their parents at the border, and never returning them. (Yes, never, unless something changes.)

This has been a story that has stuck, like the Russia treason, the Stormy Daniels/Michael Cohen obstruction disaster, and Hillary Clinton’s Twitter vindication over her emails being nothing but an actual witch hunt. There is so much bad out there, it’s hard to know what will capture the country’s attention. I’m glad it has, and I believe this is worthy of our focus for two reasons:

  1. Because it’s such a strong signal that the Party of Drumpf truly is following the Nazi playbook by putting people it considers racially inferior into concentration camps; and
  2. Because it’s kids, FFS.

Now it’s hard out there for a Democrat, when you are the minority party and your opposing party is bought out/compromised by Russia and/or billionaire plutocrats like Sheldon Adelson, Paul Ryan’s master. For far too long, Democrats have been trying to work the old, pre-2000 Bush v. Gore, bi-partisan way. They have been trying to work with people of conscience in the GOP to make policy that benefits Americans. Unfortunately, they are only now just starting to realize that these Republicans have no consciences any more, and that Democrats need to work against them, not with them, in order to make progress.

What’s a Senator or Representative to do to show We the People that they truly care about this issue?

Well, how about not letting business as usual proceed, as the Republicans make a mockery of everything the Constitution stands for? Such as, due process, for example?

Today, the Democrats and female activists disrupted the 9,871,297,432th Republican hearing on Hillary Clinton’s emails. Yes, they actually roused themselves to protest during the hearing, and here’s what happened.

With the sound of a young child crying in the background, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler, broke from traditional protocol and started reading from a statement, saying “these children are not animals.” His Republican colleagues tried to shout over him “Out of order!”

Nadler’s comments at the hearing, which was meant to be about the FBI’s handling of a probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails, were followed by protests from the audience, as women with young children stood and shouted “Families belong together!” before they were escorted out by the Capitol Police.

There are many people who suggest that Democrats just walk out of Congress and stop honoring this illegitimate pResident and the Party that enables him and his many crimes against the Constitution. I don’t agree with this, although I understand it, because I feel once the Democrats aren’t there, the Republicans will have no constraints whatsoever. They will complete the evisceration of the New Deal and the destruction of our status as the leader of the Free World in record time. The plutocrats and Russians will take over, and we will no longer recognize our country.

I support these tactics by the Democrats; they garner attention and get our message out there, without handing even more power to the GOP. I hope that Pelosi and Schumer are planning a similar disruption every single time the Republicans hold a hearing. It doesn’t matter what the hearing is about at this point; we must, finally, be done giving the Thugs the benefit of the doubt. We need to finally start calling the other side evil and be done with it.

BECAUSE THEY ARE.

This is an open thread.

Good Weekend Widdershins

So to continue on the theme of last weekend’s post of some favorite tunes (and also because I don’t have the foggiest idea of what to write [and that’s because I’ve probably been doing this too long] ) I’ve decided to share some more of my favorite songs from a long time ago and probably in another galaxy.

So away we go.

(1) Janis Joplin~Me and Bobby McGee

(2) Eagles~Lyin’ Eyes

(3) Janis (again) Mercedes Benz

(4) Boston~More Than A Feeling

(5) Eagles~Hotel California

(6) E L P (Emerson Lake and Palmer) Lucky Man

(7) The Moody Blues~Tuesday Afternoon

* * * * *

Okay shinners, a few more of my faves.  Feel free to share some of your own in the comments.

Or not.

Open thread.

 

Everything I’m about to say is that obvious. Rights are rules that benefit everyone the same way and make life easier. All the rest — privileges, abuse, crimes — don’t work that way. Considering how simple it is, I’m convinced that when people pretend not to get it, it’s because they don’t want to. That implies talking about it isn’t very useful. The problem lies deeper. But since I don’t know how to fix the actual problem, I’ll talk about it anyway.

Planting seeds

First a few definitions. Rights, the way I’ll be using the word, are based on a given concept of fairness. In a grim development, “fair” is losing its meaning through overuse as every Tom, Dick, and Harry, and especially Donald, uses it to whine about not getting their own way. For the purposes of this discussion, I have to ask you to forget all the abuse of the word and pretend it could actually mean something.

Fairness intuitively means equal treatment, but there are problems with that definition when context is willfully ignored. If a nonexistent equality of circumstances is assumed, then in no time the magnificent impartiality of the law allows rich and poor alike to buy their own fast internet. Willful ignorance always leads to bad consequences, so keeping in mind that context is an integral factor of fairness, let’s look at equal treatment specifically.

The simplest definition of equality is the absence of double standards. What is allowed or punished for P is the same for Q. It’s not a rigid list allowing only specific things. It’s the equal application of general rules to specific situations as they arise.

For instance, let’s say you wanted to keep email secure. You could tell everyone, equally, that they must have their correspondence on a specific IBM server running a specific operating system and use two-factor authentication. But then Person A, let’s call her Amanda, uses a Hewlett Packard server, which is not the one specified. Bad, even though everything is still secure. Person B, on the other hand, let’s call him Egbert, uses the right setup, but has an automated script accessible to anyone to avoid the authentication bother. The specifics are all fine, he’s just added a layer that’s not in the book, so he’s good, even though nothing is secure. Everybody’s immediate reaction to that is, well, that’s stupid. That’s what I mean when I say the specifics of the particular situation are not the point.

Even less fairness can be achieved if Amanda is punished for incorrect email handling, while Egbert keeps his work on AOL and nobody cares. Equal treatment requires the relative distance of each from the goal of security to be judged and for the punishment to be proportional to that distance. That would be equal application of the rule, without double standards.

Keeping the avoidance of double standards firmly in mind, the distinction between rights and not-rights is easy.

Rights are those things we can do which do not curtail anyone else’s ability to do the same thing. They require no double standards, no inequality. My freedom to speak does not limit yours. My need to be free of physical harm doesn’t change your life in any way. My intention to marry someone doesn’t affect your ability to get married. None of those limits others’ abilities to have the same benefits or protections. Those are rights. I’ll go into some examples in a bit.

Privileges, on the other hand, depend on an asymmetry of power. If they’re applied to everyone equally they lead to absurdity in a couple of steps. The asymmetry can come from subtle social privilege or not so subtle economic or military force, but whatever the source, it’s used to allow some actions that would cause impossible situations if everyone did them.

For instance, if you insist on a right to make others live according to your religion, then, since it’s a right, I can equally insist that you live according to mine. But my religion is to kill all members of your religion. (That’s not just an impossible thought experiment. Both Christianity and Islam have clauses, best ignored, about holy war against heathens.) We’ve reached an absurd situation in exactly one step. There’s no way to resolve it on the basis of rights. One side has to have more power to force compliance from the other.

The crowning irony is that nobody has freedom of religion in that system since at any moment others could grab enough power to impose their will instead. Rights impose limits but allow more freedom than a complete free-for-all.

Violence is another easy example. It’s sometimes necessary to stop criminals or invaders, and yet if everyone had license to kill it would be impossible to have any kind of a society. Even the top banana, the last one standing, would soon die. That’s why the state is given a monopoly on the use of force, because some force is necessary but it cannot be a right. Freelance gun nuts are incompatible with having a life, as we’re finding out in the U. S. of A.

Another current example is vaccination. If it’s not voluntary, it’s taking away a person’s control over their own body, which is a very bad idea. There’s no way to apply that loss equally to everyone, and it has to be based on mere power to force compliance. On the other hand, an unvaccinated person can spread preventable disease, which is another kind of attack on a person. Given that spreading disease is a hugely bigger harm than a vaccination, that’s one case where it’s appropriate for the state to enforce compliance.

(Medically, voluntary compliance is much more effective. But purely as a matter of rights, there is no right to spread disease. Vaccination is a good example of how seamlessly rights come to mean what-I-think-is-good-for-me rather than what is good for everyone. We’re all susceptible to it, not just corporate executives and Donalds. Another tangent: obviously, if vaccines caused neurological problems that would be a major harm and change the balance of rights. But they do not. Vaccines do not cause autism. The links are a scientific article and a pdf that list many studies showing no connection and including millions of people. And on the other side is the one Wakefield study which did say there was a connection. That was based on 12 patients, with no controls in the experimental sense, and which turned out to be fraudulent. Developmental neurological issues do happen, unfortunately, but not due to vaccines. Disbelieving the mountain of evidence on vaccines is somewhere between rejecting evolution and rejecting the reality of climate change.)

Rights, unlike the previous examples, involve those actions which can be done by everyone equally. That has an important corollary. Once they’re applied in a way not available to everyone, they’re no longer rights. They’re the abuse of one or another kind of privilege.

Consider, for instance, free speech. It’s mainly interpreted as a right not to be silenced, and that is important. But our bigger problem now is being drowned out. With ads and clickbait shouting at us 24/7, what we need is a complementary right to silence. (Some of my thinking on that and the following issues here.) If we could all broadcast all the time, there would be no point trying to communicate at all. It’s a less bloody version of of the murder free-for-all. Nobody is heard, not even the person shouting.

Another current perversion of the right to free speech is spewing hate speech. The confusion between the two is in the process of destroying democracy, but we’re petrified to do anything about it in case it opens the door to government control over what can be said. That’s not an idle fear. Look at how quickly every resistance to people in power was labelled terrorism, whether it had any of the hallmarks of terrorism or not. Look at how quickly the Donald started labelling everything he didn’t like “fake news.” If he had a hope of shutting it down, he would. It is very important not to go down that road.

But it’s equally important to preserve democracy, which depends on free speech. Somehow, the right to free expression has to be limited to communication and has to exclude hate. I think we could make a start by improving the definition of what constitutes speech. At its essence, it’s about communicating something. Sharing ideas is a fundamentally different process than bamboozling or hurting people. Communication can be universal, hatred cannot be (in a functioning society). It ought to be possible to draw a more accurate line between them.

It’s interesting in this context that the people who use hate speech seem to know quite well what they’re doing, even if they won’t usually admit it. I’ll never forget when Steve Bannon left the White House to return to Breitbart where he’d once again be free to spout anything. “I’ve got my hands back on my weapons,” he said. Speech as a weapon should be no more protected than knives can be used to “communicate.”

If we could wrap our minds around the rights of the situation, we could stop getting sidetracked into thinking punching Nazis will get us anywhere except down the spiralling hole where violence always leads. If we have a right to punch them because we think they’re bad people, they have the same right to punch us because they think we’re bad people. Might makes right is not the route to a fun life. Instead, understanding rights means we know the solution is to figure out the definition of hate speech and then to shut the poison down.

One last example of how not to twist free speech is the policing of discussions of trans issues. Part of the trans activist community feels that transwomen must be considered women in all respects, not just socially but also when biology is in conflict with that categorization. (There is no noticeable equivalent pressure on behalf of transmen, i.e. people born female.) To do other than that is considered transphobic which has such a severe impact on transwomen it can lead some to suicide. Therefore any discussion that does not accept those assumptions is lethal hate speech and must be stopped.

That thinking requires an obvious double standard. We can’t all be on the edge of suicide and demanding from others that they do everything our way or they’re guilty of pushing us into it. Nobody would be able to do anything if emotional blackmail was a legitimate tactic to shut people down.

Transpeople, men and women, do suffer violence, but as with most violence, it is committed by men. (For instance, globally 96% of homicides are committed by men p.95.) Assault and murder are already illegal. They’re also in a different class than speech one doesn’t like. Free speech definitely covers unpopular topics. Trying to police women, for instance discussing pregnancy, by using emotional blackmail because men are committing crimes is very much an illegitimate suppression of speech that should be free.

As the free speech examples show, distinguishing between rights and their abuse gets into some gray areas. But just because there are murky zones doesn’t mean we have to give up on the clear ones. When there is actual doubt, by all means let’s give that area the benefit of the doubt. When it’s pretty clear that something is nothing but trash talk, we should stop protecting it and throw it out.

I’ve tried to show how it’s possible to distinguish rights from privilege by seeing whether the action in question can be done by everyone equally. When not, people aren’t demanding their rights. They’re demanding special treatment. The title isn’t totally facetious. Rights are like a dance where everyone follows the same rules to everyone’s benefit.

Crossposted from Acid Test

Good Weekend Widdershins!

This post will have to last us a few days, oh say, maybe until Thursday.  As MB told us she has her house sold and will be making her move to the Left Coast.  I am keeping fingers crossed that I will be making a similar move to the Gulf Coast soon. (Ha!  Just in time for hurricane season)

You will recall that a few days ago I played the Randy Newman song Louisiana 1927.

I had been listening to that song on YouTube and somehow, in some convoluted manner also ended up listening to Edith Piaf and then to Irma Thomas, a Nola singer who is known as the New Orleans Queen of Soul.

The Piaf…now that brought back some memories.  Memories of sitting around in a college dorm room listening to her, smoking cigarettes and trying to act like French or Parisian sophisticates.  LOL

So, I’m going to put in some Piaf songs and a couple that Irma is well known for.

Do y’all have any favorite songs you still like to listen to?  If so, please include them here.  All types and genres are welcomed.

(1) La Vie En Rose

(2) Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

(3) Milord (one of my favorites)

(4) Mon Dieu

(5) L’Accordeoniste (I don’t think anything could sound more French than this)

*** Ms Thomas***

Now this first song, Irma used to sing this at The Country Club a **very** gay spot prior to Katrina.  Once when she sang this there was some drunken queen who had broken up with a boyfriend who shouted out “Sing it gurl!  You been through this and you know what it feels like”. This is also considered her “theme” song.

(6) Irma Thomas ~ It’s Raining

(7) Irma Thomas ~ Breakaway

(8) Irma Thomas  ~ Time Is On My Side (also covered by the Rolling Stones)

Okie doke shinners, that’s it for me.  Please feel free to add your contributions below.

Open thread of course.

 

 

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When SCOTUS handed down their ruling in “The Baker” case on June 4, it was argued by apologists that the ruling was not intended to be viewed broadly as a referendum on gay rights. Perhaps some of the justices (Kagan voted with the majority) intended their ruling to be applied narrowly, specific to the Masterpiece Bakery case only and not to any other business and not to LGBTQ+ rights broadly. But if they truly believed that their decision would be viewed as narrowly as they claim they intended it – I’d like to sell Justice Kagan a bridge.

On June 5 a CrossFit gym in Indianapolis called CrossFit Infiltrate cancelled a previously planned special workout in honor of Pride Month. As a member of the CrossFit community for close to 6 years this case interested me greatly. This special workout in honor of Pride Month isn’t especially special. Every CrossFit affiliate hosts these sort of workouts for any occasion they decide on. At my CrossFit we occasionally do them for departing long-time members, big holidays (like Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas, New Year), fundraiser workouts like breast cancer or bone marrow donor drives. The most famous CrossFit workout is done on Memorial Day when all US based CrossFits do the Murph, a grueling workout named after a fallen Navy Seal Michael Murphy. (Subject of the movie “Lone Survivor.”) So on memorial day everybody runs 1 mile, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 air squats, run 1 mile to honor Murphy and all others who have served in the armed forces. If you really want to do this right you are supposed to wear a 20 lbs vest through the ordeal (the weight of the backpacks Marines wear.) And yes, many CrossFits will do special workouts for Pride because it’s a good reason to play an hour of Madonna and ABBA, and wear colorful outfits. But truly, it really isn’t that special because these things can be done for many occasions and often are just an excuse to go out drinking afterwards.

So when coaching staff and members of CrossFit Infiltrate scheduled a Pride workout they couldn’t have expected controversy. But controversy arrived on June 5 (the day after SCOTUS’ Masterpiece Bakery decision): the owners of the gym wrote in a letter:

Our underlying goal for the staff and members at CrossFit Infiltrate and our other gyms CrossFit White River and University Ave CrossFit, is total health and well-being for the individual and the community. Total health involves the body, the emotions, relationships, and the spirit. At the foundational detractor from health, as we believe God sets the parameters for, is pride. We believe that true health forever can only be found within humility, not pride. Humility is seeing oneself as they truly are, and as God truly defines them to be. As a business we will choose to deploy our resources towards those efforts and causes that line up with our own values and beliefs.

Do you think the SCOTUS decision the day before had something to do with it? I think so, yes. What followed was a social media nuclear explosion. It led to the coaching staff to quit and many members to cancel their memberships in protest. The owners announced they would close the gym.

But it wasn’t over. On June 6 a name familiar to all CrossFitters came to Infiltrate’s defense. Russell Berger is an owner of a CrossFit gym in Huntsville, Alabama. He works for CrossFit headquarters as its spokesman and attack dog. He is notorious for going after and verbally attacking and humiliating anyone who dares to criticize CrossFit. He has a talent for vicious insults. Naturally, he is a deeply religious Orthodox Christian and pastor in a church, as well as a former Marine. Berger decided to wade into the controversy by tweeting in support of Infiltrate.

As someone who personally believes celebrating ‘pride’ is a sin, I’d like to personally encourage #CrossFitInfiltrate for standing by their convictions and refusing to host an @indypride workout. The intolerance of the LGBTQ ideology toward any alternative views is mind-blowing.

I tweeted back at him almost immediately, asking if his statement was the official position of CrossFit headquarters and founder and CEO Greg Glassman. I also tagged about a dozen well-known CrossFit athletes to get their take. Berger responded to me, accusing me of being a bully and an authoritarian by silencing his differing beliefs. “The tactics of some in the LGBTQ movement toward dissent is an existential threat to freedom of expression.”

This is the most common right-wing trope these days: they call for discrimination and attack a group of people, and when people fight back they accuse this group of being bullies and silencing the poor, suffering white heterosexual Christians. Berger and I went back and forth a few times. Others dove in as well. Berger dug in and reiterated his opposition to the sinful lifestyle and that anyone arguing with him was a fascist.

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Through it all many members of the CrossFit community waited for a response from HQ and founder/CEO Greg Glassman personally. Finally HQ tweeted that Berger’s statements do not reflect the values of the company and they have placed him on unpaid leave while they investigate and Glassman released a statement: “I am crazy proud of the gay community in CrossFit.” Glassman also told Buzzfeed that he was appalled by Berger’s comments and:

“He needs to take a big dose of ‘shut the fuck up’ and hide out for awhile. It’s sad,” Glassman said in an interview. “We do so much good work with such pure hearts — to have some zealot in his off-time do something this stupid, we’re all upset. The whole company is upset. This changes his standing with us. What that looks like, I don’t know. It’s so unfortunate.”

Berger’s tweets were deleted. But soon HQ announced that Berger was fired. Eric Erickson – who does not CrossFit, but who did attend seminary school with Berger – came to Berger’s defense and attacked homosexuals and liberals in general. I told Erickson to “eat a bag of rat assholes.”

But don’t feel too bad for Berger. I have no doubt he will become a pariah and will go on a speaking tour to talk about how badly he was treated by those horrible, mean, prideful, sinning homosexuals.

“It became way too difficult to discern between me making statements of personal opinion, and me speaking as a voice for CrossFit,” he said.

He said that he should have anticipated that his comments would be interpreted as him speaking on behalf of CrossFit. “I should have realized that, and I didn’t until it was too late,” he said. “I do regret it.”

But, he added, he stands by his original sentiment: “My actual point I was making, I still affirm it.”

I am glad to say as the controversy broke the owner of my CrossFit Hell’s Kitchen posted on instagram:

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A few years ago we had a float in New York’s Pride March. It really was an extraordinary afternoon; one of the most memorable days of my life. That’s our heterosexual owner on the left looking at the camera. Allies are important.

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Happy Pride Month! This is an open thread.

 

Okay, here’s’ the deal:  We’ve all got shit to do so here’s a new post to go wherever you wish to go with it. The Cali primary is today along with those of several other states so perhaps that’s something to talk about.

 

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Kellyanne Conway’s new job

Take the kids to work? NO!

So similar

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

“The” Book

Nice picture of our gal

Time till the Grifter in Chief is Gone

Hopefully soonerJanuary 21st, 2021
2.6 years to go.

Mueller Time!

Wise Words from Paul Ryan

Heroine of the Resistance

B-I-N-G-O!

Only the *best* politicans bought by the NRA

Marching for their lives

Perfect Picture

Perfect Name For Him h/t Daily News

Scary a.f.

Rudy: oh shit the pee tape IS real!

JUNE IS PRIDE MONTH

Need Reminders?

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