Three Cheers For WSAZ

WSAZ, the NBC affiliate for Huntington-Charleston, WV, had some guests on promoting the Queens Slay Cancer Drag Show at Marshall University, an event to raise money for cancer. Predictably, the Family Policy Council of West Virginia, affiliates of Focus on the Family, lost their shit.

Hats off to WSAZ’s Tim Irr for this public response:

The Family Policy Council of West Virginia took exception with one of our guests yesterday on First Look at Four. The young man was one of two guests being interviewed about upcoming events to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

The event in which he’s participating is the Queens Slay Cancer Drag Show at Marshall University, at 6 p.m. Friday, April 27. All the money raised at the event, and the other events discussed on our show yesterday, will go the American Cancer Society.

Our guests were not there to forward some type of political or social agenda. They were not promoting adherence to a certain lifestyle. They did not speak negatively about or demean anyone in any way. They simply promoted events meant to raise money to fight cancer.

Drag shows may not be your cup of tea. Undoubtedly, they have a somewhat limited, but very supportive target audience. You may not consider members of the LGBTQ community worthy of your friendship, or even your respect, which is rather sad from a humanity standpoint. Perhaps your religious beliefs put you at odds with something you see as immoral.

We all feel the need to pick our battles in life. There are plenty of people who believe they have a moral responsibility to stand up for their religious convictions, and how they would like to see those convictions applied to the rules of our society.

Conversely, there are plenty of people who see no redeeming value whatsoever in a society guided by what they perceive as religious intolerance. That battle will no doubt play out for many years to come at the ballot box, in the street, in our homes and on social media.

But dragging people down who are simply trying to raise money for something like cancer research — on their own time, in their own way… no matter how you may feel about it — just seems mean-spirited and very wrong. Perhaps the way we feel about the “other side” is best kept in our own thoughts, especially in a situation like this.

Fucking American Taliban.

This won’t end well…

Trump was crowing on Twitter earlier about the Trump signs waved at the Netanyahu victory rally:

It’s natural that Trump and Netanyahu have an affinity for one another. They’re both crooks and bigots who are taking their respective countries to dark places.

The signage is no surprise either; fanatics all over the world have adopted MAGA-wear to express their blinkered hatred and stupidity — it’s the new Stars and Bars.

The jury is still out on how Trumpism will end for America; I am hopeful we can beat back the kakistocracy starting next year, though it’ll be a heavy lift, and we’ll have the millstone of stupid that is the collective weight of Trump voters around our necks for generations to come.

But I don’t see how this ends well for Israel. U.S. support for Israel has been a bipartisan priority for decades, and so far, most Democratic Party pols are maintaining that unity despite Netanyahu’s outrageous interference in our political affairs, including openly siding with Republicans to oppose President Obama.

Democrats’ unwavering support may change as rank-and-file party member sentiment changes and pols respond to that. Can’t speak for y’all, but my sentiment has damn sure changed over the past several years. I used to feel as neutral toward Israel as I feel toward, say, Luxembourg. Now I don’t want a dime of my tax money spent to prop up that country’s corrupt and hostile (toward MY interests) government.

Netanyahu has placed all his chips on red. If America manages to pull out of this nose-dive, that may turn out to be a very bad bet indeed.

He’s Just Being Honest

This is, of course, appalling, but at least one anti-abortion fanatic is being honest about what they believe in:

Men and women, young and old, native Texans and immigrants, they rose to ask lawmakers to protect life, describing a “genocide” and foreseeing the arrival of “God’s wrath.”

The act of public atonement they are seeking is passage of a bill that would criminalize abortion without exception, and make it possible to convict women who undergo the procedure of homicide, which can carry the death penalty in Texas. Though it faces steep odds of becoming law, the measure earned a hearing this week amid a larger legislative push in GOP-controlled states to curtail abortion rights, in a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.

The legislation is the brainchild of state Rep. Tony Tinderholt, a Republican from Arlington, Tex., who was placed under state protection because of death threats he received when he first introduced the bill in 2017. The Air Force veteran, who has been married five times, argues that the measure is necessary to make women “more personally responsible.” He said Tuesday that his intention is to guarantee “equal protection” for life inside and “outside the womb.”

If you remember, Trump, during the primary, famously “stumbled” (in other words said out loud the quiet parts) that women should be punished for abortion before his handlers backed that shit up with a quickness. But, in reality, it’s what the Republicans really think. It’s certainly what the American Taliban, led my Mike Pence and the Opus Dei quorum at the Supreme Court think.

I’ve read quite a bit of fiction, and I play quite a few video games, and in the genre of games I like to play (a lot of isometric RPG’s, fantasy like Deus Ex/The Withcer, etc.) there is always an underlying narrative of some faction of religious fanatics- even in games like Fallout. And usually, no matter how you try to deal with them, peacefully, respectfully, give them their space, inevitably there gets to be a point in the game where the only thing you can do is to burn it all fucking down. Just kill it with fire. Make it no longer cease to exist, loot it, and move on to the rest of the story.

It always seems like over the top fiction. Or, at least it used to. At any rate, I am not sure how we are going to denazify or unradicalize the fanatics after this little experiment in tyranny the Republicans are bringing us. At some point in the near future, if we are to beat back this fascist wave, we’re going to have to address these lunatics and put them back in their place. It’s gonna be ugly, because they are already violent and unhinged. And I just don’t know how we are going to deal with them.

A Shameless Supreme Court Ruling

Last night, in denying a request for a muslim man scheduled to be executed to have an imam in the chamber rather than a Christian chaplain, the christianist caliphate of the Supreme Court laid waste to the first amendment:

Time and time again the courts have demanded religious neutrality from the state, whether the context is schools, government programs, or religious displays. Alabama acknowledges that since 1997, the Rev. Chris Summers has witnessed nearly every execution in the state, kneeling and praying with prisoners just before they are killed. But they would not allow Ray’s imam to do the same.

As the 11th Circuit noted, this was not a complicated question: “The central constitutional problem here is that the state has regularly placed a Christian cleric in the execution room to minister to the needs of Christian inmates, but has refused to provide the same benefit to a devout Muslim and all other non-Christians.” The state argued that only the chaplain was allowed to be present because he was a prison employee and “a member of the execution team.” He was trained in execution protocols—but prison officials would not explain what such training demands, or why Ray’s imam could visit him regularly in prison but not be with him at the time of execution. The appeals court was bothered by the paucity of briefing and had ordered a fast-track hearing to better understand the reasons for the policy. The state agreed that the Christian chaplain need not be present and, feeling that it had cured the constitutional defect, asked the high court to vacate the stay. Ray’s attorneys responded in pleadings that “Mr. Ray does not dispute that the state has an interest in enforcing its judgments. But it does not have an interest in doing so unconstitutionally.”

This will do down with other appalling decisions from the past and the near future.

Falwell and the Pool Boy*

*(Alternate Title: Michael Cohen: Zelig for Scumbags)

So, while we wait for the next irruption of lethal folly from Dear Hairpiece, how’s about a little fun from the Evangelosphere:

The prominent evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. has for the first time acknowledged putting up $1.8 million for a business venture managed by a young pool attendant whom he and his wife befriended during a stay at a luxury hotel in 2012.

This story has been kicking around for a while:

BuzzFeed News first reported in May on a lawsuit that claimed the Falwells had developed a “friendly relationship” with Giancarlo Granda, then 21 years old, at the lavish Fontainebleau Miami Beach, flying him in a private jet, offering “financial assistance,” and ultimately setting him up in business. [All links in quotes are from the originals.]

“Friendly relationship” is a nice way of putting…whatever.

I got no problem with whatever connection either or both professional Christians and Mr. Granda may have.  But there is a sinner, stone and glass house problem here, and I’d say the good (Narr: he was not good) Mr. Falwell is up to his neck in “got some ‘splainin’ to do.”

What makes this all a bit more than the usual sexual fear-mongering-Christianist-hypocrite schandenfreudal moment is this. Falwell was famously the first major Talibangical leader to back Trump, giving him a venue at Liberty (sic!) University and a powerful endorsement.  This didn’t come out of the blue:  “Trump visited Liberty University Sept. 24, 2012, to give the convocation address.”

The timing was convenient:

Six months after evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife befriended a Miami hotel pool attendant in 2012, the young man was introduced to Donald Trump during a visit to the large religious school Falwell runs, Liberty University, according to a photograph sent to BuzzFeed News.

Guess who connects Falwell, the pool boy, and the failed president.

No prizes for guessing Michael Freaking Cohen.

Why was Cohen there? Turns out…

Cohen was an acquaintance of Falwell’s and helped arrange Falwell’s milestone endorsement of Trump during the 2016 election campaign, BuzzFeed News reported, citing a high-ranking official at Liberty University.

But not to worry:

As BuzzFeed News had previously reported, a source close to Falwell said he was “sure” Falwell had discussed the Granda case with Cohen prior to his unexpected decision to lend his backing to Trump. There is no evidence that these discussions played any part in the endorsement.

That’s their story, and I’d say they’d best stick to it.

Open thread!

Image:  William Morris Hunt, The Bathers, 1877