Details, Details

Details and facts matter. This is true whether they are convenient for us or not. So some time has passed, we know more about Donald’s executive order about immigration, and some other historical context has come to my attention. So let’s talk about it.

About that list

First, like many others I implied that Donald cherry picked the list of countries to be effected by the ban based on his business interests. This appears to not be the case. As many conservatives, including the administration, are pointing out today, the list of countries originated during the Obama administration. It started with the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, which President Obama signed into law. After that, the Department of Homeland Security (again, under Obama) added to the list, bringing it to what it is today. Mea culpa! So the administration didn’t create this list, but I’m sure they were overjoyed to find one that happened to align with Donald’s businesses AND was created under Obama, giving them deniability. Nonetheless, the facts are what they are and we need to acknowledge them.

So that means this is really Obama’s policy, right? Wrong! The list of countries is shared, the policy is not. Due to the Act, the people from these countries (or who had recently traveled to them) are not be eligible for visa waivers, meaning they have to apply for a visa (and go through the requisite screening process) to enter the US. This legislation was criticized at the time, from both sides, but the fact is it goes nowhere near as far the latest executive order. The policies are not at all alike.

But wait, there’s more

Another attempt to tie this to Obama, and therefore indicate that protests are either wrong or hypocritical, is to compare it to his 2011 action regarding Iraq. In a nutshell, in 2011, after a terrorist plot was discovered, the Obama administration stopped processing applications for refugees from Iraq for six months. This article does a good job of describing the differences between this executive order and Obama’s 2011 action, but I’ll summarize the key ones here: Continue reading

Advertisements

Trump Happened

So, Trump happened. I kept hoping I’d wake up from this nightmare, or some superhero would swoop in and save us, but no, this is the reality. Donald Trump is sitting in the Oval Office at the White House.

Now what?

I’m gay, but I’m also white and male and I earn a comfortable living (aside: I’m willing to bet most in the “Gays for Trump” camp fit that description as well), so I enjoy a certain amount of privilege. If I were to put my head down, stay quiet and not cause any trouble for the next few years, I’d probably be–relatively speaking–OK.

Fuck that.

It’s not good enough. It should never be good enough, not for me, not for you, not for anyone. I plan to use whatever privilege I have to support and protect those who need it. And when I run out of privilege, I’ll keep going. This time is going to be a true test of our character. I don’t know what the fighting is going to entail, but I suspect there will be a lot it. We can’t allow our country to get less equal, less safe or less free. America has always been a work in progress. Even 18 months ago, when the idea of President Trump was a joke to almost everyone (even Donald himself), no one thought this country was perfect. But we had just witnessed an era of progress, despite unprecedented obstructionism from our historically useless Congress, dominated by a radicalized Republican party. I was excited to keep that progress going!

But that progress is going to have to wait; that radicalized party is in control, and led by a monster. For now we’ll be fighting tooth and nail just to keep what we have, to not take too many steps back.

So the first thing I’m going to do–the first of many, but we have to start somewhere–is to attend the Chicago version of the Women’s March tomorrow (or today, it’s almost midnight as I type this). Of his many bad qualities, Donald’s attitude–and resulting behavior–toward women is probably the most appalling. He views women as objects, either to be obtained like trophies or as a means to an end. They’re certainly not equals. Even without him, the Republican party had been chipping away at women’s health for years and more recently began ramping up that assault, attempting to obliterate Planned Parenthood.

It’s a small thing, but tomorrow (today) I’ll stand with my sisters and send a message.

If you come for them, you come for me, too.

How to steal an election

Say you’re well behind in the polls. But you have an ace in the hole, that being the intelligence service of a foreign power. What do you do?

1) Claim the election is going to be rigged ahead of time 

2) This gets nearly everyone, especially Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans, to go on record as saying that is terrible, that of course the election isn’t rigged and we should accept the results. 

3) Rig the election, with the help of the aforementioned foreign power.

No one can dare claim the election is rigged, at least from the non-Trump side.

Game, set, match.

Here we are again

Here we are again. Yet another mass shooting in America, this one setting a new record as the deadliest. This time the victims were primarily LGBT and primarily latinx. While geographically distant, it still hits too close to home.

What has changed since the first mass shooting I wrote about here–the murder of 20 children and 6 adults in Newtown, CT–in 2012?

Other than a bunch of other shootings happening between then and now, well, nothing.

The same inaction in government. The same bullshit from the NRA and their brain-washed, gun-worshiping minions. The NRA, while spouting meaningless platitudes about their policy being “no guns for terrorists” continues to block any and all attempts to increase gun regulation, while stirring up fear in the masses and pushing the need for guns for self defense.

Despite the obviousness of the fact that having more guns per capita than any other country on Earth has not made us safer, they keep pushing for more and more guns, and people are eating it up.

In 2012, I eviscerated their ridiculous claim that more guns will make us safer and this all still holds true.

And gun nuts, without any evidence, repeatedly claim that gun control won’t work, that bad guys will still get guns and good guys will be defenseless. This claim isn’t based in reality:

Our neighbors to the north, Canada, have much tougher gun laws. According to the CBC, “It takes up to 60 days to obtain a firearm in this country, after registering, taking a course and going through background checks.” Oh, dear! By the NRA’s logic crime in Canada must be out of control! Is it? No. In fact, there were 598 homicides in the entire country in 2011! How about in the USA? According to the FBI that number was 14,612 last year! OK, to be fair let’s adjust for population differences.

Homicides per 100,000 population (2011):

Canada: 1.73

USA: 4.7

As of 2014 those numbers are down slightly:

Canada: 1.45

USA: 4.5

Would-be heroes are most likely deluding themselves. In 2009, ABC News did an experiment based on actual mass shooting in Illinois, testing the theory that an armed student in the lecture hall could have intervened and stopped the shooter. The theory didn’t fare well. Even the volunteer with the most gun experience was “killed” in the mock-shooting. It’s worth a watch here.

Was this a perfect experiment? No, but it should nonetheless be an eye opener for those who think that untrained civilians with guns have a high chance of successfully intervening against a bad guy with a gun. The blog post I linked above has some anecdotes of failed attempts along these lines, for example:

In February, 2005 David Hernandez Arroyo Sr. opened fire (with a MAK-90 semi-automatic rifle) at his ex-wife and child, outside a courthouse! And courthouses, as the NRA correctly pointed out, are already protected by armed security. A civilian, armed with a pistol, attempted to intervene and was shot and killed. Arroyo was able to escape from a gunfight with police, including a trained sniper, and take officers on a car chase before eventually being taken down.

Will something finally change? I wish I could say I thought so. But I’m very skeptical. However, we’re seeing more movement than before. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) led a 15 hour filibuster on the Senate floor yesterday, with support from many of his Democratic colleagues:

Senate Democrats ended a nearly 15-hour filibuster early Thursday after Republican Party leaders reportedly agreed to allow votes on two proposed gun control measures.

Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, said that a compromise had been reached. Votes would be held on whether to ban people on the government’s terrorist watch list from obtaining gun licenses and whether to expand background checks to gun shows and internet sales, he added.

It’s a sad commentary on the state of our legislative branch that a 15 hour filibuster was needed just to get the point of permitting a vote on legislation.

If passed, will these measures be perfect? Will they fix everything? No, and no. The problem is so large, deeply-ingrained and multifaceted, it will be take a great deal of time and effort to really make a serious dent, but we have to start somewhere.

I won’t hold my breath, but I will keep my fingers crossed.

 

And Then There Was One

Trump holding up hands with tiny fingers
Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Someone pinch me, I think I’m dreaming! It can’t really be that Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president, can it?

Ted Cruz “suspended his campaign” (the term generally used for dropping out) last night, after losing the Indiana primary to Trump by a large margin. Last night one of John Kasich’s senior staff (I forget which, will update if I find it) was saying he would stay in, but today the reports are that Kasich will suspend his campaign, leaving Trump as the last man standing from a previously enormous Republican field and the GOP nominee.

OK, I should say “presumptive” nominee. I guess there could still be some shenanigans during the convention. And the Donald could also announce that he was just fucking with us this whole time, and that we’re a bunch of morons and drop the mic. Wouldn’t that turn some people’s world upside down?

Ladies and gentlemen, all this time I have been playing a character. A loud-mouthed, lying, racist, misogynist with no real qualifications for the job, to be exact. I never thought it would get this far, but Americans are more stupid than I would have ever believed! As my character would say, ‘What a bunch of losers!’ I suggest all the Trump 2016 supporters take some time to reflect on what they were really supporting, and who they are. And our leaders, especially those in the Republican party, should think long and hard about how they helped create an environment in which Donald Trump the character could come so far. Let this serve as a wake-up call.

With that, I am suspending my campaign to be the Republican nominee for president. Good luck, and God bless America.

Oh, I wish!

Some day there will be books written with various opinions on how exactly we got here, but for now we need to just focus on how to avert disaster.

Still digesting all this. You can expect more blogging on the election to come.

Prayer and Guns

Guns and religion in one blog post? Yes I can! Let’s do it…

Remember a few months ago, after yet another mass shooting–I literally can’t recall which, there are so many–when America, driven largely by social media, collectively decided they’d had enough “thoughts and prayers” after gun fatalities? Twitter exploded, and the New York Daily News printed the iconic cover seen below.

kingprayer4n-7-web

This was the result of pent up frustration, sadness and fury over the current state of violence, particularly mass shootings, in the United States. Time after time these things were happening, and time after time we saw our elected officials, who could and should be doing something about it, sending their “thoughts and prayers” out to the victims and their families. It pissed us off. It pissed me off!

There is always a subset of religious folks–largely Christian, let’s be honest–who relish playing the victim. This provided an excellent opportunity. The term “prayer shaming” was born. “Our religion is under attack!” they cried out. They seemed to think they were being criticized for praying! But they weren’t. By and large, we were criticizing those who had the power to take meaningful action but who either did nothing or actively impeded attempts to do something.  Continue reading

Still here (again)

Wow I haven’t blogged since October, and that last post was mostly me remarking on how I hadn’t blogged since July. Oops.

Part of the problem is that I’m busy. Another is that there is so much shit going on it can be a bit overwhelming. Do I blog about Laquan McDonald? The election (and which part)? Other gun stuff? Other LGBT stuff? There is no shortage of topics. And I’m not one for writing short and sweet posts, as anyone following me for awhile probably knows. It’s daunting to sit down and write a full blown post on a topic I care about, complete with many quotes, references and links.

On the personal side, not much has changed. Work has been pretty unpleasant for the last few months, but it’s started to ease up, a bit.

I do want to blog more. There’s lots of shit bouncing around in my head it might help to put down on “paper”. Wish me luck! And, if you still follow, it wouldn’t hurt to leave a note of encouragement below; to a large extent I write for myself, but having engaged readers is certainly a nice bonus!

An open letter to Gov. Scott Walker: stop perpetuating the myth of the lazy professor

The Contemplative Mammoth

Dear Gov. Walker,

Last week, you told professors at the University of Wisconsin that they needed to “work harder.” You were making a case that the Wisconsin state budget crisis could be ameliorated by increasing employee efficiency, and you suggested having faculty teach at least one more class. I’m not going to talk about whether or not the budget crisis is manufactured (some have argued it could be solved by accepting federal funds for the state’s Badger Care health program), or whether your real goal is really partisan politics, and not fiscal responsibility.

Ouch. Ouch. Photo by fellow UW Madison geographer Sigrid Peterson.

Instead, I want to talk about the myth of the lazy professor, a stereotype that you’ve reinforced with your comment. I spent 2005 to 2012 at the University of Wisconsin, where I obtained a PhD in the Department of Geography; I am now an assistant professor at the University of Maine.

When you…

View original post 1,066 more words

Children in same-sex parent families, dead horse edition

I don’t usually spend much time discussing gay parenting. I continue to believe parenting and marriage are linked but separate issues, and parenting is used as a straw man against marriage equality. However, knowing full well that invoking children often causes people’s brains to bypass their logic centers and head right for emotional reactions, equality foes keep trying to smear same-sex parents. Their means of doing so are questionable–at best. This post helps shine some light on their latest attempts.

Family Inequality

Not that child well-being in different kinds of families isn’t a legitimate research topic, but this idea of proving same-sex parents are bad to whip up the right-wing religious base and influence court cases is really a shark jumping over a dead horse.

Without getting into all the possible detail and angles, here are some comments on the new research published by D. Paul Sullins, which claims to show negative outcomes for children with same-sex parents. Fortunately, I believe the legal efficacy of this kind of well-being witch-hunt research evaporated with Anthony Kennedy’s Windsor decision. Nevertheless, the gay-parents-are-bad-for-kids research community is still attempting to cause harm, and they still have big backers, so it’s important to respond to their work.

Research integrity

Below I will comment a little on the merits of the new studies, but first a look at the publication process and venues. As in the case of the Regnerus…

View original post 1,305 more words

Open Letter to the Internet (and Beyond)

Dear Internet,

Actually dear Everybody, but particularly everybody on the Internet,

Please stop feeding the trolls.

In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

I know, it’s tough. We hate it when someone is wrong on the Internet!

What do you want me to do? LEAVE? Then they'll keep being wrong!

It’s so tempting to respond when you hear or see someone say something completely asinine, wrong-headed and/or offensive. But here’s the thing. Many of them are doing it for attention. There is at least one well-known and particularly egregious offender for this. I don’t even want to say her name because it will just give her what she wants, so I’ll let you figure it out yourself. Her name rhymes with Can Houlter. Know who I mean?

Of all the people that say ignorant and truly offensive things, she may just be the queen. And she’s doing it for attention, nothing more. She doesn’t actually hope to persuade anyone with her so-called “arguments”. She just wants people to say “Oh my God, did you hear what [name redacted] said about [whatever]?!” Because then people are talking about her. And she gets invited on TV to say more stupid shit, because people eat it up. Whenever I see someone complain about her I just want to scream “STOP! She is WINNING because of you!” Without attention, trolls shrivel up and die, and the world is a better place.

The only way to elevate the (abysmal) level of discourse in our society is to reward it when it’s constructive, and ignore it when it’s not. I know, it’s so very hard to do. Trust me, I know. It’s something we can all work on, together. Are you with me, Internet (and Beyond)?