Monday Morning Open Thread: Happy Summer Solstice!

comrade colette scout repose

From commentor Comrade Colette Collaboratrice:

Here’s a new Balloon Juicer pet – we just got an adorable kitten. Scout is a 10-week-old tabby boy with blue eyes and an apparent need for no sleep at all. He’s busy teaching our old kitty Peter how to play again.

Action shot!

comrade colette scout action

Strawberry kitten for the full Strawberry Moon. Monday’s not really the best day for a big pagan party, which is why the prudent Swedes rescheduled theirs to next weekend. On the other hand, I have a bunch of strawberry starts that need to be transplanted into the front-yard strawberry pot this afternoon…

What else is on the agenda as we start another week?



Open Thread: Return of the Cruz-ifiction Candidate

With the Democrats openly rebelling against the NRA (and the GOP candidate flailing on all fronts), a call went out in search of a New Hope. And guess who happened to be waiting by the phone…

From the Hill, yesterday:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) attended a confidential dinner with more than 20 top conservatives on Tuesday night to plan his comeback as a movement leader in the mold of Ronald Reagan.

The dinner was at the Virginia home of conservative activist Brent Bozell, and the agenda was to plot Cruz’s future and the future of the conservative movement.

The undertone of the dinner was about how to position Cruz for a future tilt at the presidency and to spearhead the conservative movement from his seat in the Senate, those in attendance said.

Dining with Cruz and his chief of staff, Paul Teller, were some of the most powerful figures in the conservative movement.

The spectrum of economic, national security and social conservatives seated at the table included Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, Club for Growth President David McIntosh, direct-mail guru Richard Viguerie, National Rifle Association board member and former Cincinnati Mayor Ken Blackwell, and Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, sources confirmed…

Many of the leaders at the dinner want Cruz to run for president again, and they are viewing Cruz’s unsuccessful 2016 run as similar to Reagan’s failed attempt in 1976 to unseat the incumbent Republican president, Gerald Ford…

Reagan gave the grifting bigots of the “Moral Majority” a comfy seat at the top table, back in the day when AIDS was still a mysterious new “gay plague”. And as far as these good Christianists are concerned, it’s not as though the Orlando massacre involved, you know, actual American people — just pawns of the devil
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ISIL Can’t Kill Us (But They Can Encourage Us to Kill Each Other)

Charles P. Pierce, in Esquire:

[B]efore we start talking about banning anyone from a Muslim country, or even before we wring our hands again about how easy it is to get your hands on an AR-15, a weapon that is built for, and exists only, to kill people in this country, we should all accept that, for all the advancements that have been made in ensuring equal rights for our fellow citizens who are gay, there is still a kind of virulent hate that we can see in its more polite forms in our legislatures and some of our courtrooms, and now we can see it in its most raw and unreconstructed form in our nightclubs.

The events in Orlando do nothing more than demolish our most treasured illusions about ourselves and our country and—most trivially—our politics. How many of the congresscritters now sending “thoughts and prayers” to the victims in Orlando, and to their families, spent a lot of time in their day jobs making the everyday lives of those victims more miserable than they had to be? There’s still an audience for clean-shaven, well-tailored bigotry of all faiths.

Yes, it appears that Mateen might have come to his violence through his religion, which will make him no different from practically any homophobe—including, I would point out, Eric Rudolph, who bombed the Atlanta Olympics. Allegedly, shortly before he opened fire, he called the local 911 operator and “pledged allegiance” (whatever that means to a guy walking into a club intending to slaughter 50 people) to ISIL, which has claimed responsibility, which is what it would do, under the circumstances.
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Parens-thetical Racism: It’s All Fun & Games Until Someone Gets Beaten Up in An Alley

The excitable fella with all the emoticons is probably, one hopes, just another Reddit-fueled edgelord trolling for lulz. The problem is, how do the rest of us tell them apart from the genuine racists and psychopaths? Here’s the Guardian‘s explanation of the extra parentheses now being sported by all the best twitter handles:

US antisemitism watchdog, the Anti-Defamation League, has added the “(((echo)))” symbol, used online by white supremacists to single out Jews, to its online database of hate symbols.

The group’s decision comes days after Google removed a Chrome extension that was being used by antisemites to add triple parentheses around the names of prominent Jewish public figures including Michael Bloomberg and New York Times journalist Jonathan Weisman….

The intersection of old-fashioned white supremacy and antisemitism with tech-savvy online groups centred around websites such as 4chan and Reddit has given rise to a movement loosely termed the “alt-right”. The echo symbol is just the latest artefact of that group’s thinking to burst into the mainstream, thanks largely to an article in late May from the NYT’s Weisman highlighting its use.

But the denigration of Jews online extends beyond the Trump supporters highlighted by Weisman. An investigation by Mic revealed how widespread the symbol’s use has become, largely below the radar of the mainstream.

“To the public, the symbol is not easily searchable on most sites and social networks; search engines strip punctuation from results,” wrote the publication’s reporters, Cooper Fleishman and Anthony Smith. “This means that trolls committed to uncovering, labelling and harassing Jewish users can do so in relative obscurity: No one can search those threats to find who’s sending them.”

The pair trace the origins of the symbol back to far right blog Right Stuff. “In Right Stuff propaganda, you’ll often read that Jewish names ‘echo’. According to the blog’s lexicon page, ‘all Jewish surnames echo throughout history’. In other words, the supposed damage caused by Jewish people reverberates from decade to decade.” The parentheses are used to imply that same echo textually…

Of course, the people who hate “Jews” this much aren’t any too happy about people of color (especially the one now occupying “their” White House), foreigners (especially the ones with ‘funny names’), “sexual deviants”, uppity women, or anyone otherwise “Aryan” who chooses to support the untermenschen. (Hillary’s “mixed blood” grandchildren are deplored as one more example of her perfidy; but then, Trump has Jewish grandkids too… )

If you’re curious, Jeff Goldberg (yes, I know), at the Atlantic, has “A Brief Introduction to the Pro-Holocaust Twitterverse”:

mengelematters troll via atlantic



Monday Morning Open Thread: Blessed Ramadan!

The month of fasting and reflection has already begun for many of our overseas observers, of course. Per the Washington Post:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Millions of Muslims around the world will mark the start of the holy month of Ramadan on Monday, a time marked by intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts.

Saudi Arabia’s state TV announced the new moon of Ramadan was spotted Sunday evening. Local media in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, also said Muslims there would begin fasting Monday, as will Muslims in Singapore, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories, among others.

Following these announcements, a mosque in Tampa, Florida announced to its followers that they too would celebrate the first day’s fasting Monday…

The faithful spend the month of Ramadan in mosques for evening prayers known as “taraweeh,” while free time during the day is often spent reading the Quran and listening to religious lectures.

Each day for the month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. Even a sip of water, coffee or a cigarette can invalidate one’s fast. There are exceptions to fasting for children, the elderly, the sick, women who are pregnant, nursing or menstruating, and people travelling…

The fast is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity and performing the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca…

Britain’s Independent posted “Five ways to show solidarity and respect to people observing the Islamic holy month,” which seems sensible.
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Apart from the holiday, what’s on the agenda as we start another week?



An Op-Ed, a Tweet About the Op-Ed, and the Massive Racist, Xenophobic, and Anti-Semitic Response

———–Updated at 12:55 PM on 20 May 2016———-

I’ve gone back in and replaced the crude copy and paste of Jonathan Weisman’s twitter timeline from yesterday with a screen grab saved as a pdf. This will make it easier on the site and on the eyes, but if you haven’t looked and want to, or want an easy way to save this for posterity, there are 14 pages in a pdf file below the fold.

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Earlier today The Washington Post published a very thoughtful essay by Brookings Institute Senior Fellow Robert Kagan. The New York Times Deputy Washington Editor, Jonathon Weisman, tweeted about it. A short time later all hell broke lose on his twitter timeline. While several mainstream news outlets have picked up the story, the majority of them in Israel, I think its important to capture some of this stuff. While it is impossible to prove much about people using nyms on the Internet and Twitter, many of the folks sending this stuff to Weisman are also claiming to be Trump supporters. Regardless of whether Donald Trump and his campaign want this type of support and supporters, this is more evidence of a very disturbing trend that has been developing through the 2016 presidential primary season. I’ve copied and pasted/screen grabbed all of the offensive material, which is after the page break.

And you are all warned, some of it is very, very vile. But it goes right to our past discussions about destroying the Grey Zone/the civil space that we all live in as citizens regardless of our ethnicities, religions, places of origin, etc. These types of expressions are an attempt to draw hard and fast lines around what is an American and who can be one. Moreover, they seek to push others into either choosing sides or to shake their heads and go along to get along out of fear of losing whatever safety, security, and prosperity they have. In many ways the response that Mr. Weisman received on twitter is a perfect example of what Dr. Kagan wrote about in his op-ed.

It also goes to the core theme of the Trump campaign: “I, we, America will be treated well… (Or else!)” The Trump campaign, and specifically Donald Trump’s on the stump, at debates, and during interviews rhetoric is setting the conditions to fully transform the Republican Party from the Grand Old Party to the Herrenvolk Party whether he intends to do so or not. Herrenvolk democracy is a populist, using Seymour Martin Lipset’s four typology description of political/civil society, form of government and governance. In a herrenvolk democracy one party, usually the majority party, but not always so, defined by ethnic or racial categorization dominates the state, society, economy, and usually religion too, over all other parties, movements, groups, and sub-cultures. The latter are tolerated at best and actively persecuted at worst. What Weisman’s twitter feed demonstrates is that those with the impulse towards herrenvolkism are feeling especially confident right now. And the potential danger that poses to America should be taken very, very seriously.

(If anyone can get a better/proper screen grab, which I’m having trouble with in Chrome, please grab all of it and email it to me and I’ll update it.)

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Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Christianist Hypocrites Embrace the Combover Caligula

Or, as the Grey Lady mealymouths it, “Social Conservatives, However Reluctant, Are Warming to the Idea of Trump”

Activists and leaders in the social conservative movement, after spending most of the past year opposing and condemning Donald J. Trump, are now moving to embrace his candidacy and are joining the growing number of mainstream Republicans who appear ready to coalesce around the party’s presumptive nominee…

“Oh, my, it’s difficult,” said Penny Nance, the president of Concerned Women for America, a group that has openly campaigned against Mr. Trump. “He’s not my first choice. He’s not my second choice,” she added. “But any concerns I have about him pale in contrast to Hillary Clinton.”

And Mr. Trump — whose litany of offenses against cultural conservatives include support of Planned Parenthood, past positions on abortion rights and his more accepting views on gays and lesbians — is winning over this once deeply skeptical constituency.

He has made overt moves, such as suggesting last week that he would name Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, and sent subtle signals, like employing people for his campaign who are well known in the movement.

Mr. Trump has, to a large extent, placated a vocal and powerful element of the Republican Party’s base, whose backing he will need if he wants to wage a general election campaign leading a united conservative movement.

The support of social conservatives is not just symbolic. It means getting assistance from groups that plan to spend millions of dollars mobilizing voters, people who lead influential faith-based organizations and Republican activists who will help craft the party’s platform at the national convention this summer…

“They love a convert because it’s what their faith is all about,” said Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith & Freedom Coalition and a friend of Mr. Trump.
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