Category Archives: liberals

2016: The Year In Review

This has been my mantra for the year.

Well, beloved, we’ve come to the end of another year, which means we’re about to be inundated with “Year in Review” posts/articles/programs. And, yes, I’m doing one, too. “Year in Review” posts aren’t what you’d call a regular feature here. Unlike my annual Thanksgiving posts, I haven’t written one of these since 2012. I’m not exactly sure why, it’s not like the past four years have been uneventful or anything. In fact, I’m not sure why I’m writing this one. Probably because I figure a post about 2016 will get some views and, like all writers, I’m a bit of an attention whore.

The consensus view seems to be that 2016 has been a rather shitty year. After all, it’s seen:

  • An orange-hued shit demon take advantage of the pain and fear of a large swath of the country to become President of the United States,
  • A bunch of idiotic yahoos in my home state of North Carolina pass an obviously discriminatory law and then commit political suicide by standing behind it in the face of overwhelming opposition both in the state and abroad,
  • The most deadly mass shooting in U. S. history, in which 49 people were killed because of their sexual orientation and/or gender expression.
  • Unarmed black men shot down by the police, mostly for the crime of just being black (that’s not new, but it was a big part of this past year).
  • An election that may have hacked by the Russians. At the very least, they influenced the voting toward the candidate they preferred.
  • And the death of a beloved celebrity every time we turned around.

Not exactly the best year on record, huh?

Still, it hasn’t been all bad. 2016 has also seen:

  • Working class people find a new (unlikely) champion in a 78 year old Jewish socialist. Now, if the Democratic Party (who likes to think of itself as “the party of the people”) would just get on board.
  • An announcement that Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman would be replacing former president (and slaveholder) Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. This is good because not only was Jackson was a slave owner, he was an asshole.
  • Jabba the Hut stunt double, Roger Ailes, resign as chairman and CEO of FoxNews. Ailes did so amidst a hail of accusations that he has a proclivity for making lewd remarks and/or advances to his female employees. And, punishing them when they reject him.
  • Pat McCrory lose his job as Governor of North Carolina to Roy Cooper. The best part is that McCrory engineered his own downfall with the hated HB 2, which was actually supposed to hurt his opponent, Cooper. Ain’t karma a bitch?
  • Samantha Bee debut her most excellent show, Full Frontal, on TBS. Bee, smart woman that she is, blew off the industry standard  live interview portion of the news parody format and stuck with her strength, scathing, intelligent satire. And, the television world is better for it.
  • A new Star Wars movie come out. It’s called “Rogue  One” if you’ve been living under a rock. I’m going to see this weekend and I can’t think of a better way to ring out this year.

Do these things offset losing David Bowie and Carrie Fisher in the same year? Probably not, but you’ve got to accentuate the positive. Even when the positive is not all that great.

It’s been said that 2016 has been the worst year ever. But, the truth is, it hasn’t. Not by a long shot. We’re not engaged in a global conflagration, an entire race isn’t in the process of being exterminated, there isn’t a plague killing off a significant portion of humanity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s been fun and I’d like to do it again. Just that it’s not been that bad. Hey, most of us even survived it. I’m not giving odds on 2017, though. I have a feeling it’s going to be a motherfucker.

An Open Letter About My LGBT Kid

parkers-first-legal-beer
My son, Parker, enjoying his first beer. Okay, his first “legal” beer.

Lately, I’ve seen a few straight progressive bloggers write about parenting children who are LGBT. It might be speculation about how the author would react to the news that one of their kids is gay. Or, it could be an open letter telling parents what they should say to their LGBT kid. As the parent of a child who is part of the “T” portion (see photo at left) of that acronym, I thought I’d respond to this new blogging phenomenon. And what better way to do it than an open letter! I mean, they’re so effective.

 

 

Dear Progressive Bloggers,

     First, I want to thank you for your concern about my son and his well-being; not everyone feels that way. Here in North Carolina, we are dealing with a law that can put him in harm’s way whenever he’s out. And, I have seen some truly awful things said about him and other folks who are LGBT, so please be assured that your good intentions are appreciated.
     But there is a problem. You see, so much of what I read about parenting a child who is LGBT seems to be written by folks who either don’t have a kid who’s gay or they don’t have any kids at all.  Now, while I appreciate your interest in my child’s welfare, I have to let you know that any advice you might have to offer on how raise/relate to him makes me laugh. Honestly, you’re almost as funny as parents-to-be who claim they won’t let their child watch television because, “The TV isn’t a babysitter” (FTR, the TV is a great babysitter, it’s how most parents of toddlers get things done). And, your words carrying about as much weight.
     I find it interesting that actually having a kid who is lesbian, gay, bi, or trans  doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite for penning an article letting those of us in the trenches know just how we’re fucking up. Granted, many of us may not have those fancy letters after our name (MDiv, DD, etc.), but amazingly, we have managed to raise healthy, happy, astoundingly queer offspring without the benefit of your education, status and/or stature within the progressive community. Isn’t that crazy?
     Right about now, you’re probably thinking, “Well, this letter has certainly taken an ugly turn.” Yes, it has. And, you should probably grab hold of something because it’s about to worse.
     I don’t presume to speak for all parents who have an LGBT child, but I have had it up to here with sanctimonious, educated-beyond-their-intelligence, progressive preachers (because, no matter what you think, you’re not acting very pastoral here) telling me how to care for my son when they have zero skin in the game. Unless and until you’ve dealt with all the crap that comes with having a kid who is LGBTQ, your words don’t mean shit to me.
     I can hear some of you now, “But, Joel, we’re not talking to open-minded, progressive parents like you. We’re trying to reach those awful conservatives who have done so much harm to young people who are LGBTQQIP2SAA.” I hate to break to you, Skippy, but you ain’t reaching them. And, if by some weird chance they did click on your post, they wouldn’t make it past the first sentence of your holier-than-thou bullshit. Take it from someone who used to be one of those “awful conservatives”, words like “empowerment”, “parenting mantras” and that ridiculously ever expanding acronym used a couple of sentences ago are a one-way ticket to Ignoresville.
     So, what should you do? The same thing you tell those of us among the Great Unwashed to do when the conversation turns to issues other marginalized groups deal with: sit down, shut the fuck up and listen. And, if you want to do more, amplify the voices of people actually dealing with those issues. Because, right now? You’re just a “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”.

DNC 2016: Hey, At Least We Aren’t Insane

     Well, the Democratic National Convention wound up last night and I have to say, from a comedy standpoint, it was boring as fuck. To be fair, though, it did have a hard act to follow. But then, next to the shitstorm that blew through Cleveland last week, “Blazing Saddles” (widely acknowledged as one of the funniest movies of all time) would seem like a big yawn. Of course, comedy isn’t everything and from a “save the damn country” outlook,  DNC 2016 was awesome.
     That’s not to say, however, that the event was devoid of whimsy. From Corey Booker’s address being totally overshadowed by the First Lady, to Hillary’s thorough lambasting of The Donald last night, there were some decent moments. As I did with the Republican’s soirée earlier this week, I’d like to offer a few observations on Hillary’s coming out party.
     As I mentioned just a minute ago, Corey Booker gave the speech of his life Monday night. It should have been his moment in the sun, his “Obama in ’04” moment. Unfortunately, he was completely upstaged by Michelle Obama. To be fair, he wasn’t the only one; no one seems to remember what came before or after Michelle’s address. Diana pointed out the Republicans didn’t offer any young, up and coming voices a chance to shine on the national stage. I said that’s because Trump didn’t want share the spotlight with anyone. It may be a moot point, though. I mean, if Trump wins, there may be another election for any young, up and coming voices to take part in.
     A recurring theme throughout the convention was that Hillary is first female nominee for president. Yeah, about that.., Hillary is the first woman to nominated by a major party. You see, the actual “First Woman Presidential Nominee” was Victoria Woodhull who was nominated by the Equal Rights Party in 1872. I’m not trying to take away from Hillary’s accomplishment, but Woodhull was nominated for the highest office in the land 52 years before women were even granted the right to vote. You’ve got to admit, that’s pretty damn impressive.
     The DNC wasn’t without its drama, either. Monday night was punctuated by a goodly amount of booing. It seems that some Sanders supporters who were singularly unhappy with the outcome of the Democratic primaries. They were even more unhappy when Sarah Silverman told them they were being ridiculous.  Several Bernie or Bust folks took to Twitter, renaming her “Sarah Sellout”. Why, that’s not ridiculous at all!
     But, the drama didn’t end there. When Bernie took the stage in an attempt to heal the rift between the factions, his full-throated endorsement of Clinton reduced many of his supporters to tears. And then, on Tuesday, when Sanders himself moved to nominate Clinton by acclamation and turned all his delegates over to her, many of those delegates walked out. Well, that’s mature.
I’m thinking all of the upset over Clinton’s nomination is best summed up by Seth Meyers: “We don’t have time for this. Donald Trump is ahead in the polls. The house is on fire, stop crying because we’re not putting it out with your hose!”
     Just as Clinton was a frequent target of speakers at the RNC, Trump wasmentioned frequently this week in Philadelphia. And, Hillary in particular didn’t spare his feelings. She questioned his temperament, intelligence, ego and general ability to lead in her address. At one point, she shared this direct quote from the short-fingered vulgarian: I know more about ISIS than the generals do”, replying “No, Donald, you don’t.” The criticism he had already received during the convention had driven Trump to the brink of violence. I can’t wait to see how he reacts to this.
     Perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of the convention is the reaction of some Republicans. Basically, Republicans are stunned and appalled that Democrats have seized the ground that their party abandoned this election cycle. Sorry folks, but that’s what happens when you nominate a narcissistic troll for President.
     Another unhappy Republican said that they heard “a lot more about God and faith at the DNC than the RNC”. Yeah, the RNC didn’t exactly set a high bar for “God and faith”. Other than an overtly partisan speech and prayer by a prosperity gospel preacher, I’m not sure God got mentioned there at all. At the DNC, however, the Almighty was mentioned numerous times.  Most notably by North Carolina’s own Rev. William Barber, called “one of the nation’s most powerful voices” by the Huffington Post. I could write pages on Rev. Barber, but it’d be better if you watched the speech.
     So, both parties have had their big “Look at us!” moments and the slate is set. This time around, we get to choose between a Terminator disguised as a grandmother and opening the seventh seal and ushering the apocalypse. All I can say is “Go Cyberdyne Systems”.

What I’ve Learned In 55 Years

Actually, my birthday is tomorrow. But, I didn't like any of those memes, so...
Actually, my birthday is tomorrow. But, I didn’t like any of those memes, so…

In the days surrounding my birthday, I usually write something about questions I might have or make smart-ass comments about aging. This year, I decided to something a little different. In honor of turning 55, I want to share some of my accumulated wisdom with you folks. Don’t worry, it won’t take long.

In my 55 years on this Earth, I have learned that:

  • While you have to age, you don’t have to get old. “Age” is the chronological record of how long you’ve been alive. “Old” is a way of thinking; a mindset, if you will. You can be that old fart standing on his porch, yelling, “Get off my lawn!” or you can be that really cool lady who’s been places and seen things and loves sharing those experiences with other, younger folks who haven’t. It’s your choice.
  • All too many people my age haven’t actually taken the time to get to know any Millenials. If they did, they wouldn’t post so much ignorant shit about them. I’ve raised two children from that generation and count among my friends many others. And, I can say with all sincerity, they are an amazing group of people; they just don’t approach things the way we do. Considering our track record, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.
  • There is a definite limit on my tolerance for political bullshit. And, it was reached sometime around December of last year. Trump is a nightmare come to life, Hillary is terrible campaigner (not to mention a mediocre candidate) and Bernie is not going to pull off an upset in Philadelphia. I’m afraid this going to be a long, long summer.
  • Being a grandfather is the shit It’s all the fun and none of the responsibility! In fact, if I’d known how great it was, I’d have skipped being a dad and gone straight to granddad. Yes, I know it doesn’t work that way. But, it should, damn it. It should.
  • The utter douchery of maledom can still surprise me. After all these years on the planet, you might think I’d be prepared for decision like the one handed down in the Stanford rape case. If you did, you’d be oh so wrong.
  • Joe Biden is a damn good man. In fact, he may be the best man who has ever held elected office in this country. Why do I say that? Read his letter to the Stanford rape victim and see.
  • Embracing something you’ve run from is incredibly freeing. For most of my life, I lived in denial of my inherent (and innate) nerdiness. A few years ago, I finally accepted the truth and took up the mantle of “nerd” with gusto. I’m haven’t looked back and I don’t intend to. Ever.
  • Progressives can be just as shitty and close-minded as conservatives. If you’re wondering what I mean by that, look at  the rhetoric of some Bernie Sanders supporters. Basically, they say “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” That sounds an awful lot like something Bush43 said about his “War on Terror”, which is something that should give you a significant reason for pause.
  • Some people will say anything for a bit of attention. Like Kevin Swanson, who tells his followers that the Girl Scouts are trying to turn their daughters into lesbians. Or, James Dobson, who recently claimed trans-inclusive bathroom laws are te same as prostituting little girls. Or, pretty much anything  comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth.
  • “Choosing the lesser of two evils is still evil” sounds nice, but it’s fucking ridiculous. Life is a daily exercise in “choosing the lesser two evils”. Unless you’re 10 years old, it’s something you should be used to it by now. And, when the greater evil is a walking, talking tire fire who could wreak untold havoc not only on our country, but the world, it’s time to quit whining, put on your big person pants and do whatever is necessary keep him out of a position to wreak that havoc.
  • What you believe doesn’t mean shit if it doesn’t influence what you do. In other words, don’t say you believe Jesus is Lord and then shit all over the people he came to save. And, by “people he came to save”, I mean “anyone on the margins of society”. In America, that translates to anyone who’s not straight, white and Christian.

Looking back over this list, I can see that it includes something to offend almost everyone. That brings up something else I’ve learned over the years: As you age,  you care less and less that some people get their panties in a wad over the truth. But, I don’t want to be a dick, so if something here pisses you off, sorry about that. Whether I’m sorry that you decided to get pissed off or I’m sorry that I pissed you off is something you’ll have to decide for yourself.

Stop Bullying NC!

Bet you can't guess which one of these guys is a bully.
Bet you can’t guess which one of these guys is a bully.

In the days since North Carolina’s “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act” (aka, House Bill 2), its backers have used no small amount of time, energy and effort to assure us it will not hurt our state’s economy. As HB 2 has been law for almost 3 weeks, I thought I’d take a look at how that notion is holding up.

First, a little background. Two days after he signed HB 2 into law, Governor McCrory’s office issued a press release that said the law would have no effect on NC’s ability to create or recruit new jobs. That same day, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest told the Hollywood Reporter that “Businesses will continue to move here, and the businesses that are complaining right now will continue to do business in this great state.” And, on April 8th, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), told reporters at the ribbon cutting of a new VA center in Charlotte that he didn’t think HB 2 would keep businesses from moving here. Well, okay then.

So, how do things stand now? Well, a few days after Gov. McCrory signed House Bill 2 into law, Lionsgate and A & E, both filming productions here, declared that once those projects are finished, they won’t be back until the law is repealed. Then, on April 5th, PayPal announced that they were backing out of major expansion plans in the Charlotte area, costing that city at least 400 new jobs. And, on April 8th, Bruce Springsteen canceled his show  at the Greensboro Auditorium, resulting in a loss of $100,000 in revenue.

Now, I want to point out something to you. Notice the date of Burr’s comment I mentioned in an earlier paragraph. Now, look at the dates of the companies in the previous one. Do you see it? Our senior senator said that he didn’t think HB 2 would keep businesses from moving here. after multiple businesses had already stated their intent to leave NC. Or, not come here in the first place. Holy shit, y’all.

Now, lesser politicians would be deterred by this avalanche of bad news and scramble to amend the offending statute, hopefully keeping our state from going completely off the rails economically. But, not our Governor and his partners in crime colleagues. No, these stalwart defenders of women and children stood firm against this onslaught of LGBT oppression, decrying it as…, bullying.

You read that right, beloved; white, Christian cisgender people are complaining that they’re being “bullied”. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) said that he considered Springsteen’s cancellation “a bully tactic” and compared The Boss to a kid who takes his ball and goes home when he doesn’t get his way. Walker also said that Justin Bieber was scheduled to perform in Greensboro and that he might attend. Wait, we’ve sent a Belieber to Congress? Shit.

Walker isn’t the only Republican who feels bullied by LGBT activists; Michelle Nix, vice chair of the NC GOP, denounced PayPal’s action as “corporate hypocrisy and bullying” because the company has done business in countries with less than stellar human rights records, especially concerning LGBT issues. Yes, Michelle, pointing out PayPal’s ethical shortcomings is the perfect way to convince them to stay in North Carolina.

What might persuade PayPal and all the other companies who said they’ll pass us by for less backward (and discriminatory) pastures? I’m thinking that if the Republicans who passed HB 2 would stop whining about our state suffering the consequences of their stupidity and repeal this abomination of a law, it might just do the trick. Of course, that would be the smart thing to do, so I’m not holding my breath until it happens.

A Response To The National Review and Jane Clark Scharl

Why is this so terrifying?
Why is this so terrifying?

On Wednesday, the National Review published an article by Jane Clark Scharl, titled “The True ‘Trauma Trigger’ That the North Carolina Bathroom Bill Is Designed to Prevent” in which Ms. Scharl gave us the “real” scoop on the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, (aka NC House Bill 2): it’s not about discrimination, it’s about protecting our women and children from evil bathroom predators.

Like pretty much everything else coming from conservatives about HB 2, Scharl’s article was filled with half-truths, obfuscation and outright bullshit. But, that’s pretty much the National Review’s stock in trade these days; hell, you might as well read “The Blaze” or “The Federalist”. But, as I said last Friday, you can’t let a little thing like facts get in the way of top quality fear-mongering.

Generally, the article continues the narrative that the whole thing is about bathrooms. Sure it is, that’s why it prevents local governments from enacting laws that extend protection to groups not included in its text, something that was ruled unconstitutional in Romer v. Evans (well, that’s inconvenient). And, it prohibits cities an counties from setting their own minimum wage. About the only thing these two items have in connection with bathrooms is the smell emanating from them.

On the Facebook post where they shared the article, the National Review claimed that “Liberals are PANICKING over something so very common sense.” Okay, let’s get one thing straight: there’s about as much “common sense” in the new NC law as there is truth in their article. HB 2 isn’t about the safety of women and children because there was nothing in Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ordinance that would’ve endangered them in the first place.

What Charlotte did with their now-overturned law was add “marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression” as protected classes. Now, you may be wondering how such a thing could lead to pedophiles molesting our little darlings in public restrooms (it wouldn’t, of course; but that’s irrelevant when you’re trying to scare people into voting for you). This incredibly creepy idea goes back to something I alluded to earlier, “the bathroom predator myth”.

The fantasy of evil men entering women’s restrooms for nefarious purposes is extremely durable, even though it has conclusively debunked. Probably because conservatives trot it out any time we talk about ensuring that people who are LGBTQ are accorded the same rights as straight folks. As, Enid Strict would say, “Well, isn’t that special?

I’m not sure where this fable came from, but it blasted onto the scene last year, when the city of Houston attempted to pass an ordinance that contained protections for the LGBT community.  In response, conservatives fought this effort by making it all about “men” having free access to women’s restrooms, even though they knew it was about much more, i.e. protecting “the gays” from discrimination (God knows we can’t that). The tactic was effective; the ordinance was defeated by a 22 point margin.

The myth proved less successful in Charlotte, where opponents used it in their effort to stop the city council from treating people who are LGBT like human beings. Fortunately, the ordinance was passed over the objections over conservative groups and evanglical preachers like Franklin Graham.

Advocates of this fairy tale found some kindred spirits in Governor McCrory and the Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly. These fine fellows vowed to introduce legislation to overturn the law if it was passed. It did and so they brought the hammer down on Charlotte for doing their job and enacting laws that benefit all their citizens.

On a side note, HB 2 supporters have yet to address is the fact that it doesn’t just negate some municipalities’ protections for LGBTQ folks, it also jeopardizes Greensboro and Orange County ordinances that covered veterans. Wait, what? Veterans aren’t a protected class? Oh well, I guess they were just collateral damage. Eggs and omelets, you know?

The truth is, laws like the Charlotte ordinance have been on the books in multiple cities and counties across the country and none of them report an increase in sexual assaults that can be traced back to those laws. In reality, HB 2 is about keeping trans folks in the closet where the Republicans in the NCGA thinks they belong. If they’d just admit that, I’d have more respect for them. I certainly couldn’t have less.

Double Standards Abound

Searched #YallQueda and this came up. That's not condescending at all.
Searched #YallQaeda and this came up. Why,that’s not condescending at all.

For the past few days, the internet has been abuzz with news about the militia stand-off in Burns, Oregon. From what I can see, it’s mostly progressive people perpetuating this chatter; my conservative friends are generally silent on the matter. The media hasn’t been much help, either. Much of their coverage has followed along the lines of this tweet from ABC:

Screen-Shot-2016-01-02-at-9.40.46-PM

Peaceful protest? As my friend Michael Woywood pointed out, “…the guns used to take over this building didn’t magically appear. “Accio rifles!”… probably didn’t happen.” I would add that an action like this doesn’t come off on the spur of the moment; to be successful, they need planning. That means when these protesters showed up, they were armed and they had a plan that likely included at least the possibility of violence. In my opinion, that pretty much precludes the idea of a “peaceful protest”.

There have also been posts, articles, memes, etc. pointing out a number of the double standards visible in this incident. Most of them are along of the lines of “black man with gun = thug. White man with gun = patriot”. But, there is a double standard that’s not getting much play: the one that says it’s not cool to use stereotypes to denigrate people of color, but it is acceptable, not to mention uproariously funny, to use them to mock poor rural white folks.

Before we go any further, let me state for the record that I am a white working-class southerner and I have a certain kinship with the  militia folks out in Oregon. I don’t agree with them, but I understand where they’re coming from. Because of that, if I have to listen to one more pretentious educated-beyond-their-intellgence “progressive” gleefully crow about #YallQaeda, someone’s going to get the shit slapped out of them. That’s some classist bullshit and it needs to stop.

It is a pretty common belief among blue-collar white people that they are the last group that it’s still okay to make fun of and there is some truth in that belief. Before you get your panties in a wad, think about this: how many of us get upset about words like “n—–r” or “c—k”, but have no problem with “white trash”, “cracker” or “redneck”? What the hell, progressives? Did we use up all our vaunted tolerance on minorities and people of color and have none left for working class white folks?

When you’re done laughing at your clever, little hashtag smack down, think about this: whenever you say that shit, you are reinforcing the belief of poor and working class rural white people that they are, in fact, persecuted and under attack. You want to know why they “vote against their interest” (i.e. Republican)? It’s partly because they don’t believe the Democratic Party gives a shit about their interests; probably because it’s run by people who think these folks are ignorant hillbillies and don’t bother to hide it. To be fair, the Republicans believe this too, but at least they’re smart enough not to say it out loud.

As I say in the title, double standards abound. That’s as true on the progressive side of things as it is on the conservative. Unfortunately, we’ve been so busy pointing out the speck in our conservative brother’s and sister’s eyes we haven’t seemed to notice the log in our own. Maybe it’s time we did something about that.

Don’t You Think This Stuff Is Getting Out Of Hand?

Ted Cruz has one of the more..., let's say, "interesting" takes on the Planned Parenthood attack.
Ted Cruz has one of the more…, let’s say, “interesting” takes on the Planned Parenthood shooting.

By now, everyone knows that Friday afternoon, Robert Lewis Dear attacked the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood office, killing 3 people and injuring 9. Any way you slice it, this was a terrible tragedy and it left the nation in shock. Well, not really.

You see, the shit wasn’t even over before people took to the internet in an attempt to make political hay. Early on, it was mostly people of a more progressive bent, pointing out that Dear’s attack was domestic terrorism and that Americans had much more to fear from white guys with guns than refugees. And, the numbers seem to back that up, showing that homegrown extremists (white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists) have killed twice as many people as jihadists (48 to 26, if you’re keeping score) since 9-11.

It didn’t end there, however, because the dirty rotten scoundrels also resorted to quoting Dear’s own words about his motives for the Planned Parenthood attack. According NBC News, he told police “no more baby parts” when questioned about his motives. That’s a pretty strong indictment of Planned Parenthood videos produced by the Center For Medical Progress and the conservative reaction to them. At this point, it’s safe to say that Dear’s attack is an imminently regrettable, and totally foreseen, result of both. 

It took them a while, but conservatives are coming out of their slumber with some truly novel responses. Perhaps the best come from Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina. In a Sunday press conference, Cruz told the world that Dear was “registered as an independent and a woman and transgendered leftist activist” and Fiorina thinks the whole thing is “so typical of the left to immediately begin demonizing a messenger because they don’t agree with the message”. If your reaction to both those remarks was “What the fuck…?”, you’re not alone. I know this is a nutty idea, but let’s take a look at the “facts” behind these claims.

Cruz’s assertion is based on information gleaned from Dear’s Colorado voter registration file, which lists him as “unaffiliated” and a woman. Wait a minute, aren’t Republicans the ones who have been telling for years just how incompetent governmental agencies can be? And, now, when it suits your purposes, what is either a clerical error on the part of a government employee or a lame attempt at a joke by an anti-government whack-job is actually proof of condition whose existence you don’t even acknowledge? That’s nice.

As for Fiorina’s claim that people on the left are “demonizing a messenger because they don’t agree with the message” due to our acknowledgement of the facts,  I don’t know what to say. It appears, however, to be about as fact-based as anything else she’s said since beginning her run for president. So, at least she’s consistent, if full of shit.

As certain news organizations and politicians continue to feed the outrage machine, it’s only a matter of time before some right-wing loon throws the “false flag” card. They’ll claim the whole thing is an operation by a vast left-wing conspiracy to allow Planned Parenthood to continue its “reign of terror” against the unborn, take away our guns and install Obama as a dictator who will institute Sharia law and turn the U.S.A. into a Muslim caliphate. If you’re thinking that is one bat-shit crazy idea, you’re not wrong. Unfortunately, someone putting it out there is well within the realm of possibility. Both of those statements tell you all you need to know about this country. And, it’s not good. Not good at all.

Much Ado About Nothing?

Red cup returns ! #starbucks #holiday #ueno
On Monday, I weighed in on the Starbucks holiday cup controversy that, it turns out, isn’t all that controversial. At least, that’s what some folks are trying to say. Conservatives are claiming that no one is upset about Starbucks decision to go with an unadorned red cup this holiday season in place of the more Christmas-ey versions from years past. And, at least one progressive voice has said the whole thing is “much ado about nothing.” Of course, it is; the statement “much ado about nothing” is the most accurate descriptor used for the Right’s “War on Christmas” since the damn thing began. But, does that phrase apply to the cup story? That’s a good question, so let’s see if we can come up with an answer.

In a post on his blog, “The Holy Kiss”, Roger Wolsey says, “It seems that the ONLY conservative Christian who was upset about it was a “pastor” whose primary ministry is posting self-glorifying rants on YouTube.” Well, not exactly. You see, in a follow-up to the Breitbart London article that spawned this “nontroversy“, Tory MP David Burrowes said the cup’s design was most likely a bow to “political correctness”. And, the Christian Institute’s Simon Calvert asked “What is it about Christmas that Starbucks are afraid of celebrating?” adding that “They should get involved and stop being Scrooges.” A Buzzfeed article also included screenshots of tweets from regular folks who were less than pleased, most of them showing their displeasure by expressing an intent not to spend any money with the chain. Granted, this doesn’t add up the “movement” Feuerstein hoped to generate, but it’s not exactly “nothing”.

Conservative media hasn’t been silent on the matter, either. The New York Daily News ran an article quoting student pastor Nate Weaver, who wrote on Facebook, “I’m officially banning Starbucks from my life”. Of course, most of the conservative offerings seem to be an attempt to downplay the matter. The Federalist, The Blaze and Right Wing News have all run pieces laying the whole thing at the feet of Feuerstein and claiming that no one is actually upset about it. Which, as I’ve just shown, is not strictly true. Of course, publications like these wouldn’t trash a story because it makes conservatives look stupid, would they now?

Interestingly, The Blaze’s piece  says the “controversy” hardly represents “conservative Christian thought, or any thought in general.” It then goes on to say that it was “invented by anti-Christian bloggers and cable news personalities, aided by the work of one or two convenient patsies, and designed to make all Christians look weak and ridiculous.” That’s eerily similar to Bristol Palin’s comment that the whole thing was “an attempt by the LEFT to make Christians look stupid.” Yeah, as if Christians need any help looking stupid; we’re doing a fine job all by ourselves.

Whether this tempest in coffee cup is an actual controversy or an aborted attempt by an attention whore to get people to…, well get attention, what it is not is an attack on Christmas or Christians. Starbucks still sells a coffee they call “Christmas blend” and they still sell the same seasonal drinks (aka flavored sugar-water that has been in the same building as actual coffee). They still sell Advent calendars, gift cards that say “Merry Christmas”, even Christmas tree ornaments (although, it is a representation of the hated red cup, so maybe I shouldn’t have included it). But, this whole stupid mess is indicative of the farcical exercise known as “The War on Christmas”. Which, as I said at the beginning of this post, is most definitely “much ado about nothing”.

The Battle Of The Cup

Red cup returns ! #starbucks #holiday #ueno

Apparently, this is what a “war on Christmas” looks like.

I had originally planned to start this piece by telling you that the conservative’s “War on Christmas” has started early this year, thanks to Starbucks’ new minimalist holiday cup design. Unless you live under a rock, however, you already know that because “The Battle Of The Cup” is all but inescapable. If, however, you don’t know what I’m talking about, here it is in a nutshell: the 2015 Starbucks holiday cup is red and unadorned with any Christmas-ey decorations. For some reason, that has sent conservative Christians into a frenzy and declare that Starbucks did so “because they hate Jesus.” I don’t know who started this shit, but Starbucks needs to track them down and thank them because you just can’t buy this kind of publicity.

This brouhaha started over the weekend and, by now, it has been written/discussed/dissected by people much smarter than I and all the decent, intelligent comments about this situation have already been made  so there’s no point in my going there. But, that’s okay because it allows me to play to my strengths: ridicule and sarcasm. And, I have to say, if ever a situation called for ridicule and sarcasm, it’s this one.

Think about it for a minute: Some Christians, members of the dominant culture in this country (78.4% of Americans identify as Christian, a decline from previous studies), are upset because a business decides not to cater to their whim and declare that it’s part of some liberal, PC “War on Christmas”. I swear, some days, this shit writes itself.

Now, most of this freak out is part of the the aforementioned “War on Christmas”, which is really a fabrication perpetrated by a certain television news network to keep conservatives whipped up about bullshit so they don’t realize how badly they’ve been used by the Republican Party. But, that whole “decline in the number of people who identify as Christian” plays a role, too. If only because, without it, said news network wouldn’t have any fear to play on and what would they do then?

Seriously though, have things gotten so bad for Christians that we can no longer afford to share the month of December with folks who believe a little differently? I mean, we’ve only been sharing this month for, well, as long as there’s been this thing called Christmas. In the next month and a half, there are at least 8 non-Christian holidays being celebrated. Granted, the majority of them are either Muslim or Pagan, which don’t really count as far as the folks who have their knickers in a twist over all this are concerned. But, at least one of those holidays is Jewish and I thought we liked Jews. Or, do we only like Jews when we’re separated by an ocean?

But, all the reasons aside, I really don’t get what all the shouting’s about. I mean, it’s not like previous Starbucks holiday cups were an integral part of “putting the Christ back in Christmas”. In years past, the cups have featured snowmen, snowflakes, Christmas ornaments, and other secular symbols of the season. No nativity scenes, no stars, no Madonna’s (Jesus’ mom, not the singer). So, what’s the big deal about a plain red cup? Wasn’t it just a few years ago that most of these people were singing some piece of crap song about red cups? Maybe if they’d put a little of the stuff from their red solo cup into the Starbucks cup, they wouldn’t be so pissed off.

Look, there are plenty of things in this country that are a war on the very spirit of Christmas: violence, poverty, hunger, racism, homelessness, etc. Why is it that those things are bearable, but a fucking paper cup that doesn’t have Christmas crap plastered all over it means secular forces have declared war on the season? A more cynical person would probably say it’s because getting mad at Starbucks doesn’t require people to do actually do anything other than be outraged, while addressing those other things might mean giving up some of our stuff or interacting with “those people”. But, I’m not saying that. I’m not saying that at all.