Open Thread: Blessed Eid!

To our Muslim readers: My timing may be shaky, but my best wishes are sincere!

Eid al-Fitr: Saudi Arabia declares Sunday first day

When is Eid al-Fitr, and why do Muslims celebrate it?

ETA: Apologies for the earlier draft posting — too much IRL stuff going on!

ETAA: Happy birthday-approximation, Red Dirt Girl!








Late Night Open Thread — Christ: What An A**hole

Maybe Erick Infinite Ericks is just envious of the “Dumbest Man on the Internet” title. At least he took the ‘studying for my preacher license’ line out of his bio, because it seems like he’s never actually read the New Testament. Where’s a [Jesus: facepalm] GIF when you need one?…



We Must Take Strong Measures to Protect our Nation…

To slightly modify the President’s remarks at this year’s State of the Union address we must take strong measures to protect our Nation from radical Islamic white Christian terrorism!

To go further, and to once again slightly modify his remarks from the October 9th, 2016 presidential debate, the President’s wisdom and counsel are important in these dark times.

Whether we like it or not, and we can be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not there is a problem. And we have to be sure that when Muslims white Christians come in and report when they see something going on. When they see hatred going on they have to report it. But as an example in San Bernardino Portland many people saw the bombs all over the apartment of the two people that killed 14 and wounded many, many peoplethreats on social media and the multiple arrests and convictions for violent felonies of the one man who killed two and wounded a third, horribly wounded he’ll never be the same. Muslims White Christians have to report the problems when they see them. And, you know, there’s always a reason for everything. If they don’t do that it’s a very difficult situation for our country. Because you look at Orlando and you look at San Bernardino and you look at the World Trade Center the University of Maryland bus stop attack and you look at Mother Emmanuel Church and you look at the Murrah Federal Building and you go outside and look at Paris Quebec City look at that horrible, these are radical Islamic white Christian terrorists. And she I won’t even mention the word. Nor will President Obama Vice President Pence. He They won’t use the term radical Islamic white Christian terrorism. Now to solve a problem you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least state the name. She I won’t say the name. President Obama Vice President Pence won’t say the name, but the name is there. It’s radical Islamic white Christian terror. And before you solve it, you have to say the name.

An April 2017 Government Accountability Office report states:

of the 85 violent extremist incidents that resulted in death since September 12, 2001, far-rightwing violent extremist groups were responsible for 62 (73%) while radical Islamist violent extremists were responsible for 23 (27%).

It is incumbent on our white Christian leaders, like Vice President Pence, Senator Cruz, Governor Huckabee, Reverend Jerry Fallwell, Jr,  Reverend Franklin Graham, Reverend Pat Robertson, and many, many others to speak out and condemn these horrific acts. And it is incumbent on our white Christian neighbors that if they see something, they must alert the government and say something!

Across the nation, we’re all part of communities. In cities, on farms, and in the suburbs, we share everyday moments with our neighbors, colleagues, family, and friends. It’s easy to take for granted the routine moments in our every day—going to work or school, the grocery store or the gas station. But your every day is different than your neighbor’s—filled with the moments that make it uniquely yours. So if you see something you know shouldn’t be there—or someone’s behavior that doesn’t seem quite right—say something. Because only you know what’s supposed to be in your everyday. Informed, alert communities play a critical role in keeping our nation safe. “If You See Something, Say Something™” engages the public in protecting our homeland through awareness–building, partnerships, and other outreach.

 



My Sojourn in Gilead

I read “The Handmaid’s Tale” decades ago, but as many have noted when discussing the upcoming release of the Hulu miniseries, its theme is more relevant than ever. That’s because a beady-eyed Christo-fascist gender role-absolutist who thinks women should be compelled to hold funerals for miscarriages is one bloated, erratic, 70-year-old junk food junkie’s heartbeat away from the presidency.

In Atwood’s dystopian novel, the Christo-fascist nation that replaces the United States is called the Republic of Gilead. Oddly enough, I have some experience dwelling in a place called Gilead.

My mom was a hippie in the 1970s and an indulgent single mom with a laissez faire parenting style. But she had no qualms about foisting my sister and me off on her fundamentalist Christian parents during the summer so she could enjoy some free time.

I don’t blame her, but the abrupt imposition of rules and structure gave my sister and me whiplash every year. Never more so than when our grandparents began shipping us off to a summer camp run by Bible-believing Christians. The name of the camp was, I shit you not, Camp Gilead.

It was a regular summer camp in some ways. There was canoeing and arts and crafts. There were wienie and marshmallow roasts around the campfire. But there was also religious indoctrination. Campers were compelled to attend chapel daily, and girls were required to wear long skirts to the services.

To comply with the rule, I pulled a skirt over my shorts and wore it to chapel with my customary t-shirt, high-top Converse sneakers and a hideous green-and-white striped hat I’d won at the fair by throwing darts at balloons. I also carried a small Swiss Army-style knife at all times in my front pocket — a kid could get away with that sort of thing back then.

During one particularly tedious sermon, I put my feet up on the hymnal rack in front of my hard, wooden pew, partially unlaced my sneakers and practiced tying nautical knots with my shoestrings. I soon got them in a terrible tangle that tied my feet together.

As I struggled to extricate myself, one of the church ladies began playing the hymn that signaled the service was coming to an end, and we were all compelled to rise for the closing prayer. I could stand up, but try as I might, I couldn’t undo the knot in my shoelaces or break them.

Hoping that the supervising adults’ eyes were closed during the prayer, I hiked my skirt up to my waist, dug the knife out of my shorts pocket, bent down and cut my shoelaces. It worked, and I was able to walk out of the chapel in the orderly recessional rather than hopping as if in a sack race.

Weird how reading a review of an upcoming miniseries on a Christo-fascist dystopia can recall childhood memories. Anyone else planning to watch “The Handmaid’s Tale?”



The Turkish Referendum: The US is Now on the Wrong Side of History

Turkey held a referendum yesterday in regard to the structure of the Turkish government. On its face it was intended to modernize the 1980 constitution, which was drafted after the last military takeover to preserve the Kemalist system. The referendum involved constitutional reform that increases the power of the President of Turkey.

The plan turns Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential republic. Among the numerous changes:

  • The role of prime minister will be scrapped. The new post of vice president, possibly two or three, will be created.
  • The president becomes the head of the executive, as well as the head of state, and retains ties to a political party.
  • He or she will be given sweeping new powers to appoint ministers, prepare the budget, choose the majority of senior judges and enact certain laws by decree.
  • The president alone will be able to announce a state of emergency and dismiss parliament.
  • Parliament will lose its right to scrutinise ministers or propose an enquiry. However, it will be able to begin impeachment proceedings or investigate the president with a majority vote by MPs. Putting the president on trial would require a two-thirds majority.
  • The number of MPs will increase from 550 to 600.
  • Presidential and parliamentary elections will be held on the same day every five years. The president will be limited to two terms.

There appear to be a number of observed and reported irregularities in the voting and the tallying of the votes regarding the referendum.

As Arab News reports:

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s two main opposition parties on Sunday said they would challenge the results putting the ‘Yes’ camp ahead in the referendum on expanding the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after alleged violations.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said that whatever the final result, it would challenge two-thirds of the vote, saying: “There is an indication of a 3-4 percentage point manipulation of the vote.”
The deputy head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Bulent Tezcan, denounced “violations” by the election authorities in allowing ballot papers without an official stamp to be used.
Another CHP deputy head, Erdal Aksunger, said it could appeal up to 60 percent of the vote.
“Believe me, this election is not over,” he told CNN Turk, quoted by the Dogan news agency. “This is totally invalid. We are declaring this here.”
He said that the CHP was appealing 37 percent of the ballot box results, and this figure could eventually rise to 60 percent. “Since the morning, we have detected violations,” he said.
Turkish media said that CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu was convening a special meeting of its executive board.

The EU had its monitors on site because Turkey still has an open application to join the European Union. Both the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) sent monitors.

… observers from the OSCE and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said on April 17 that the legal framework for the referendum “remained inadequate for the holding of a genuinely democratic referendum.”

The monitors also said the referendum campaign was conducted on an “unlevel playing field” and that the counting of ballots in the April 16 referendum had been marred by “late procedural changes.”

President Erdogan responded by calling out the EU and its monitors:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan treated a crowd of supporters gathered outside his presidential palace on Monday evening to a speech laced with invective against Europe, saying his victory in a referendum on Sunday took place under conditions that were democratic beyond compare.

“We don’t care about the opinions of ‘Hans’ or ‘George,’” Erdogan said, using the names as stand-ins for his European critics. “All debates about the constitutional referendum are now over.”

This, unfortunately, fits with President Erdogan’s ongoing attempts to reorient Turkey away from an EU he perceives as perpetually dragging its feet regarding Turkish membership (he is not wrong) and from the EU’s attempts to restrict his power and his remaking of Turkish politics and society. Even more unfortunate was the President’s response to the outcome of the referendum.

I think that it is highly likely that despite what the EU monitors have observed and reported, and the challenges by Turkish opposition parties, that the outcome of the referendum will stand. This will significantly increase President Erdogan’s power, which he is eligible to wield all the way through the 2029 Turkish elections if repeatedly reelected. In many ways this referendum put the democratic process to work to achieve a very anti-democratic and authoritarian outcome, or at least an anti-democratic outcome that will allow Erdogan to become more authoritarian. In many ways it is the logical follow on from last summer’s abortive coup. Regardless, it is neither a positive outcome for Turkey, nor was the President’s response to this in his call to Erdogan a good thing.

(Full disclosure: One of my former students, from my first year assigned to USAWC, has been accused by the Erdogan government of participation in the failed coup. I was his front line supervisor/academic advisor and his research advisor/supervisor. I have been unable to reach him or his wife since the night the coup began. The last time I heard from him was in 2015 when I wrote a letter of reference for his application to a Belgian graduate program while he was assigned at NATO headquarters. He is an excellent officer, a true gentleman, and a loyal Turk.)



Friday Morning Open Thread: Good Friday / Easter Weekend

Bless this man, now and forever. A twenty-three minute podcast might be a little long first thing, but I understand many people use their commutes for good listens like this.

Salutations to those of our Balloon Juice community who will be observing Good Friday, a supremely significant Christian holiday that nonetheless sits oddly in our modern American calendar (Financial markets will be closed, but it’s not a federal or state holiday.) We’ll have a three-day weekend here in the People’s Commonwealth, because Monday is (the original & only true) Patriots’ Day, also known to some as Marathon Monday.

What’s on the agenda as we wrap up another long week?

There’s also another big protest march scheduled this weekend:

An idea that sprung from a law professor’s tweet after President Trump’s inauguration will unfold Saturday on the Mall, where thousands of protesters plan to call on Trump to release his personal tax returns. The demonstration is expected to be the largest of more than 100 affiliated protests planned across the country.

The Tax March, which falls on the nation’s traditional April 15 deadline to file taxes, is expected to be one of the most high-profile demonstrations of the Trump era since protesters around the world participated in women’s marches — marches that served as an unprecedented rebuke to Trump’s presidency on his first full day in office. Presidents are not required to release their tax returns but have done so voluntarily dating to the 1970…

Marchers in Washington are expected to be joined by those in more than 100 other cities across the country and around the world, including New Orleans, San Antonio, Nashville and London, organizers say.

In Washington, organizers have worked with government agencies, including D.C. police and the National Park Service, to obtain permits. The Park Service permit indicates that organizers expect up to 10,000 people.

Mike Litterst, a spokesman for the Park Service, said the Tax March and the Science March the following weekend are among the largest protests the agency is expecting this spring in Washington.

The Tax March will begin at noon Saturday on the west lawn in front of the Capitol, with a lineup of speakers that includes Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.). From there, protesters will march west along Pennsylvania Avenue NW before ending near the Lincoln Memorial. The event is expected to end about 4 p.m.

In an interview, Raskin referred to polls during the presidential campaign that showed a majority of Americans — and a majority of Republicans — believed that Trump should release his tax returns. Raskin said Congress couldn’t have meaningful conversations about a tax revamp without knowing whether proposed tax laws would be a financial boon to Trump and his businesses…

Official TaxMarch website here. (They have a great logo.)



Monday Morning Open Thread: Pesach Sameach

Passover doesn’t actually begin until sunset, of course, but those who observe the holiday will be celebrating instead of reading this blog when that happens. The ritual retelling of history sung in the YouTube is, I’m told, very much a living text, open to interpretation for the current moment. In some moments, more apposite than others, per the Washington Post:

When Veronica Ades’s guests gather around the Seder table, they’ll read the list of the 10 plagues, just as Jews around the world will do on Passover.

But at Ades’s table, the plagues won’t be blood and frogs and lice. Her guests will read the first plague: “neo-Nazis.” Then “Fake news. Freedom Caucus. The electoral college. The American Healthcare Act.”

When Ades hosts a Seder, she says, “I don’t really understand not being political.”

The springtime holiday of Passover, when Jews retell the biblical story of the Exodus from Egypt at a ritual meal laden with food and symbolism, has long been a vehicle for political commentary. A story about liberation from slavery lends itself to that.

This Passover, which begins Monday night, the nation’s preoccupation with politics and the flurry of activism since President Trump’s election are inspiring a new crop of amateur writers to try their hand at updating the age-old Passover story…

The plague of frogs bit seems almost a little too easy…

Apart from that, what’s on the agenda for the start of another week?