Trans blogger catches California Christian group in second harassment lie

From Raw Story:

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Conservative Californians opposed to the state’s equal access laws for transgender students have been caught fabricating a second story about restroom harassment on school grounds. Think Progress reported that blogger Cristan Williams revealed that the group Salt and Light Ministry made up from whole cloth a story about a trans girl harassing other female students in a Los Angeles public school bathroom.

Salt and Light Ministry — a division of Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship in Temecula, California — is a partner in the conservative coalition determined to invalidate California’s Assembly Bill 1266, which was signed into law in August. The law stipulates that transgender students cannot be forced by school or other officials to use sex segregated facilities — like bathrooms or locker rooms — that do not correspond to their expressed gender.

The coalition of anti-LGBT groups is pushing a referendum called “Privacy for All Students” that aims to invalidate A.B. 1266. Williams — who is transgender — pointed out in her post that the alliance is deploying false, transphobic smears in an attempt to trump the anti-discrimination law.

First came the story of a transgender girl harassing students in a girls’ bathroom in Colorado. That canard was propagated by the Pacific Justice Institute, an anti-LGBT group that the Southern Poverty Law Center lists among its roster of hate groups.

The Colorado story was summarily debunked by Williams, who has now moved on to fact-checking Salt and Light leader Dran Reese and the bouquet of falsehoods she presented to Michael Chen of San Diego’s Channel 10 News.

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What happens when PJI is confronted by parents?

From Trans-Advocate:

October 24, 2013

Reposted with permission

The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) is the ex-gay organization that stirred up the right-wing word by claiming that a trans kid (who I will refer to as Jane Doe, for reasons of safety) in Colorado was harassing cisgender girls in the restrooms. Right wing media outlets jumped at the story without conducting any fact checking, prompting members of the right wing community to call for the death of the trans kid.

While I interviewed Matthew McReynolds, staff attorney for PJI earlier this week,  McReynolds was first interviewed by the right-wing media organization, the World Daily News:

“First of all, it’s our position that a teenage boy’s presence into the bathroom for teenage girls is inherently harassing,” said McReynolds, who is representing the families of the girls involved. “It’s inherently violative of their privacy rights. It’s also intimidating when you have a boy like this, who is not a freshman, going in there with younger freshman girls. They feel violated. They feel intimidated, and that’s been expressed to us.”

The girls have alleged the boy has made sexually harassing comments in that setting.

“Details continue to emerge on this in terms of what what kind of comments may have been made. We’ve heard some reports that he’s commented on what girls are wearing or their figure while in the bathroom. If you can imagine that scenario from the reference and framework of a teenage girl, I think that’s pretty harassing,” said McReynolds, who reiterated that a boy simply being in the girls’ restroom is ample harassment in itself.

You are about to hear the rest of my interview with PJI’s McReynolds. In this portion of our interview, McReynolds is confronted by Jane’s mother and another school mother. Additionally, we learn that PJI supports ex-trans efforts.

I initially withheld this portion of our interview because the way in which McReynolds responds is chilling to me. I had initially felt that PJI had spewed enough obloquy upon  Jane, her parents, her town and the entire trans community and I didn’t want to be responsible for putting more of it out there. However, after talking with a friend recently, I began to feel that by not releasing this portion of the interview, I was helping PJI conceal their true nature. Since we’re dealing with the well-being of our children, I think we need to very clearly see who we’re dealing with.

When I interviewed McReynolds I wish I could tell you that he was noticeably moved by the suffering of Jane Doe’s mother or the outrage of a high school parent, but apparently that was too much to hope for. McReynolds never once broke character. When confronted by the suffering he had inspired in Jane’s mother, McReynolds’ monotone evasions and adherence to predetermined talking points were alarming to me.  McReynolds’ smug victim blaming, liberally peppered with falsehoods, was beyond disgusting to me.

So, before you listen, I want to give you a Trigger Warning. McReynolds’ response to the suffering he has helped inflict upon a kid, coupled by his rhetorical micro/macro aggressions and dishonesty might be triggering to some. IF you feel that this TW applies to you, PLEASE scroll down the CONTEXT section.Your help is needed.

The Confrontation:

Cristan: I’ve collected a number of questions and issues from the community that they wanted to have you address. The first one comes from Florence, Colorado and here it is…

Jane Doe’s Mom: They can’t… how do you say… They have to learn to love all God’s creations and to believe that they have so much hatred in them… and to be this way [begins to sob]  is hard. Because, because my daughter is a precious life just like, just like anybody else, I know how precious everybody’s kids are to them and they have to understand that it’s been a lot of hurt, that there could be so much hatred directed at my daughter, who, she’s just trying to be a normal teenager and go on with life.

Cristan: So, that’s Jane Doe’s mother and specifically she has a statement that she wanted me to read to you: “What you’re doing isn’t right. You say that you’re a God-loving people but you’ve targeted my daughter – a kid – like this. You shouldn’t do this to any kid. You should be ashamed. You’re wrong for what you’ve done to my daughter.” What do you have to say to Jane’s mother.

McReynolds: Well, a couple of things. First of all, all of us identify with the raw emotion we hear in her voice and her instinct to for her son who’s now her daughter and all the many, many issues that accompany that. At the same time, we have to go back to the reality that nobody went out looking for Jane Doe to launch this. We didn’t come from California to Colorado looking for this situation…



The above is a California ad directed to a national audience from PJI seeking plaintiffs to help them fight the California law AB1266, protecting trans kids. This ad was live prior to PJI going to Colorado from California, to target Jane Doe.×

… because, he decided that he wanted to walk into the girl’s bathrooms and girls locker rooms and interact with them there, that caused some serious discomfort on our client’s part as it would on the part of most teenage girls in that situation and so, as much emotion as is there and as much desire is there to protect that child, you know, we have to balance that with the privacy interests and the constitutional privacy rights of all the other students and that is what has not been done to date.


Cristan: Ah, and so, here’s another from a Florence High School mother.

Florence High School mom: “A little background, my daughter is a sophomore at Florence High School and my daughter and I sat down about this, you know, ‘Have you seen this happen?’ and she said in the bathroom there’s no big deal. She goes in, goes into the stall and is very discrete and is very quiet and stays very much to herself and never poses a problem with anybody. So my daughter asked around to the other students, ‘Does anybody have a problem with [Jane] being in there?’ and their answers were ‘No’ and they all pointed the finger to this one individual.

Cristan: And I believe the one individual she’s speaking of is a freshman daughter of someone who happens to be conservative. What would you have to say to that mother?

McReynolds: Well, a few different things. Number one, I don’t doubt that that’s what she’s hearing from her daughter and maybe what they’re hearing from other members of the community. We’re certainly hearing the opposite and we’re hearing that from, not just one individual, as has been falsely stated that we represent. We actually represent a co… a few different  students from more than one family from within the Florence High School family who have been affected by this and they in turn have been in contact with a number of other parents and young people who are are very, very uncomfortable with it. So, that that one student or other students, you know, don’t have um, a reasonable expectation of privacy that would interfere with, uh, this other student’s exercise of, you know, his newfound gender, um, you know, that tells me that there are potential solutions to this situation…


During our interview I asked McReynolds if one of these PJI-style “solutions” include treating trans kids like cis kids:

“Would one of those [solutions] be that transgender children would be able to function in day to day school life exactly as their cisgender counterparts?”

His answer was:

“Well I think there’s a very active debate as to whether someone like this Jane Doe, who I understand has not completely transitioned into his or her new found gender can ever function normally in that role.”

Doubble Fact Check: Jane Doe transitioned in 2011 with the support of her therapist and family.


… and unfortunately we’ve just not heard back from the school in reference to working out what those solutions  might be.

Cristan: Ah, yes. I saw the interview you did on World Daily News in which you said that you were aware of what the superintendent had to say, specifically that that they had conducted an investigation that found that, in fact, no harassment is going on. If that’s the case and you’re aware of that, why continue?

McReynolds: [laughing] Well, a couple of things, Cristan. We’ve sent a letter to the school now – eleven days ago – laying out the serious concerns that we had for the constitutional privacy rights, as well as the harassment issue. To date, and in that letter, anybody can go to our website again,, under the press releases section and read our letter. We invited the school to engage with us and to, you know, identify any allegations that they considered to be disputed. Not one of those allegations have been rebutted to us by the school. They made some vague comments in other forums, the superintendent has…


The “vague comments’ the Superintendent made are as follows:

“We do have a transgender student at the high school, and she has been using the women’s restrooms. There has not been a situation. All the students of these parents who say they feel uncomfortable just about the fact that the student is allowed to go into the restrooms at the high school, into the stalls – they don’t believe that that’s appropriate, so that’s where it stems from. There has not been an incident of harassment, or anything that would cause any additional concern.”


… but to date, not one has been rebutted to us…

Cristan: So, you’re basically that they’ve not responded or that they’re ignoring you?

McReynolds: Well, they’ve indicated that they will be responding, but they’re taking their time in doing so because, as much as a lot of activists want to believe that the story is over and there’s nothing to it, the school is certainly not treating it that way and the school is being very deliberate in dragging its feet in trying to …

Cristan: I understand that the school is actually closed until, I believe, the end of this month. Is that what you understand?

McReynolds: No, my understanding is that the school was closed last week and has reopened today [Monday].

Cristan: Oh, okay. So, basically most of the time that you say that they’ve not replied, they were, in fact, closed.

McReynolds: No, that’s not actually quite correct because we were interacting with their lawyer who was on an entirely different schedule.

Cristan: Oh, okay. [BREAKS IN FOR CONTEXT] Hey folks, I want to break in just for a second and point out that, while he’s saying that school lawyers don’t work on school hours, the people the lawyers would need to speak with actually do. So, I wanted to plant a red flag right there before we move on to more of the Pacific Justice Institute’s evasions of these questions [/] Now, here’s another clip from a mother in Florence.

Florence High School mom: ”It’s there prerogative to seek out everyplace they can find in the US to try to do this, there’s not much we can do about that from the standpoint that that’s their prerogative. It is my prerogative however, to prevent them from injuring this child, or any other child. You want to go after an adult, that’s fine. As an adult, you have a right to do that, but do not do it against a child.”

Cristan: A common theme that keeps coming up, and let me just ask you this directly: Do you value the life of Jane Doe?

McReynolds: Oh absolutely. I think that’s a point we can all agree on and we have very different approaches. What we believe, you know, the health and wellbeing of kids who are in this situation entails and so from out perspective, you don’t lead to healthier outcomes by enabling potentially unhealthy behavior and so that’s where we, you know, our paths diverge.

Cristan: So, the way I’ve encountered your group online, it seems that you advocate for, or at least you have advocated for, ex-gay therapy. Is that correct?

McReynolds: Uh, yeah. That’s one way to put it. It’s particular name here in California, in terms of the statute we’re challenging is ‘sexual orientation change efforts.’

Cristan: Sure, sure… And would that also include gender orientation change efforts?

McReynolds: Well, that statute does, the litigation is focused on the sexual orientation change efforts, but it could include that.

Cristan: Oh, okay. Does your organization, as a philosophical stance, believe that people can – if they’re male assigned at birth, and their gender orientation is female, that through therapy or certain processes, that their gender orientation could become male? So, that they would [now] have a gender orientation of male, being assigned male at birth?

McReynolds: Well, as an organization we tend to not wade into the scientific debates as much as focusing on the constitutional debates and our mission is to ensure that we can continue to both vigorous constitutional debates, that freedom of speech is protected and that’s why we’ve been so involved in the sexual orientation change efforts battle. We see the limitations on freedom of speech as being inherently detrimental to this entire debate.


Having lost the Prop 8 battle, equality foes have found a new target: transgender children.

The law protecting transgender children, which California Gov. Jerry Brown signed in August, says schools must treat transgender students as equal to cisgender students.  A coalition of anti-LGBT groups calling itself “Privacy for All Students” has circulated 200,000 anti-trans petitions throughout California. Their goal is to collect 505,000 valid signatures by November 12, 2013. If they collect those signatures, it will stop the trans equality law from taking effect in January and put the civil rights of trans kids up for popular vote in November 2014.

The old Prop 8 cast of characters have organized as the coalition for the “Privacy for All Students.” Care to take a guess at who’s one of the largest supporters of the coalition?

It’s the Pacific Justice Institute – the same group currently orchestrating a smear campaign against Jane Doe.  PJI claims that if these trans-equality policies go into effect, it will lead to government-sponsored X-rated scenes in all the public schools.

Of course, PJI won’t tell you that these California-style policies have already been enacted across the country, even in America’s most conservative areas.  For example, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Dallas and Ft. Worth Texas public school districts all have California-style policies protecting trans kids. These policies have been in effect for years without incident.

Consider the testimony to the California Senate Education Committee by Judy Chiasson, Ph.D., a Program Coordinator for Human Relations at the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD):

At first we had our concerns. Would letting students participate in activities and facilities that were consistent with their gender identities create problems? What would happen? And, ultimately we decided that we as the adults needed to manage our fears and give the students the respect and dignity that they deserved. And I’m pleased to say none of our fears have been materialized. Our transgender students use facilities, participate in gym class and play on sports teams in a way that corresponds with their gender identity.

We treat our transgender students — our boys, our transgender boys and girls — simply like any other boys and girls with the same rights and responsibilities, rules, and obligations.

In the eight years that we’ve had our policy we’ve not had any problems. On the contrary, it has solved many problems. It’s a nonissue on our campuses. Our transgender students use the bathrooms for the same reasons as everybody else. They do their business, fix their hair and make-up, and gossip with friends.

So when we instituted this policy we had no idea how many students that this would effect. In 2011, we conducted a survey in conjunction with the YRBS, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, and we learned that point-five percent of our students self-identified as transgender. In a district of our size, that’s about thirty-five-hundred students. We were shocked. We had no idea that we had that many transgender students.

For most of them, this is their private secret. But, we want them to know that we’re here for them whenever they’re ready.

After providing a $10,000 boost to the effort to collect signatures in California for repealing trans protections for school children, the PJI sent out a fundraising letter last week claiming that they’ve sent the LGBT community scrambling in a “near-panic.” Here’s a copy of one of the fundraising letters from PJI’s coalition. Note their use of Jane Doe to scare people into emptying their pockets and signing the petition to repeal trans protections for California trans kids:


BOO!!! Give us money!

And, let’s not forget the fact that PJI’s coalition was caught lying to people in order to trick them into supporting their effort to legally discriminate against trans children:

The recording was made in front of a Walmart in California. What follows is the transcript between the dishonest anti-trans activist and his mark.


Signature Gatherer: Ma’am, would you sign the petition to say no to same-sex restrooms at the schools…

Victim: Uhm…

SG: This puts it on the ballot. Gay- gay students at the schools, like the gay guys who want to go in the restrooms with girls…

V: Gay guys?

SG: Yes.

V: Why do the gay guys want to go to the girls’ restroom when they like guys?

SG: That’s what I thought.

V: Yeah…

SG: But what this does…

V: But, but, but what are gay guys doing going into the girls rest room?

SG: (exasperated) I don’t know, they just want to make, y’know, to be able to make it, like, both restrooms, whatever they…

V: Both of them?

SG: Yes. Well, just whatever they prefer, like when a guy, uhm, y’know, wanna’… But this right here puts it on the ballot and stops it.

V: Uh-hum…

SG: It says the girls must go to the girls room and…

V: And how does it stop it?

SG: It puts it on the ballot, and then we’ll vote on it. Majority votes, and (unintelligible)

Lying to people so that they lend their good name to an effort designed to harm trans kids is apparently a moral tactic for PJI and their supporters.

Jane Doe

Jane Doe


Take a good long look Jane Doe. PJI has managed to smugly destroy the life she knew.

PJI has demonstrated that they are more than willing to perpetuate a hoax that harms Jane and her family while disrupting school if it means scoring some political points and raising some extra cash to throw at their effort to discriminate against California school kids. Nothing about representing PJI’s “clients” required them to go to the press. I believe they went to the press because they thought that it would help their war against trans kids in California.

It seems that they’re willing to lie to people in order to trick them into supporting their efforts. They are the types of people who can listen to a mother weep over the cruelty inflicted upon her daughter – at their own hands – and respond by misgendering Jane and in the next breath, paint her as a predator who deserves whatever “he” gets.

In the mean time, Jane Doe is now on suicide watch.

Yes. You read that correctly.

This afternoon I was notified that the family decerned that Jane needed immediate professional intervention due to the scope of suicidal ideation Jane has recently exhibited. The family is now working with specialists in Denver to address Jane’s needs.

What you can do:

There are three things I would like to encourage the trans and allied community to do:

1.) Send supportive messages: Videos, audio, or email. You can leave your supportive comments below, email them to me or leave links to your supportive audio, video or blog posts in the comment section below. If you would like to mail cards, notes and letters, the Transgender Center in Houston will collect and vet each letter. Your correspondence will be collected and forwarded to the family. Send physical correspondence to:

Jane Doe, c/o
The Houston Transgender Center
604 Pacific, Houston, TX 77006

The hate directed at Jane has been immense and it is having it’s intended effect. A large 2011 survey found that 51% of bullied school trans kids attempt suicide. The scope and scale of bullying that Jane has endured is unprecedented. Please, let her know that you support her, that you wish her well and that it will get better.

2.) Let others know what’s happening: Please, spread the word. Let people know what hate has done to this family. I know it’s kinda cheesy, but I’m changing my FaceBook photo to this:


Purple is Jane’s favorite color. If you’d like to do something similar to let people know that you stand with Jane and her family, please do.

3.) Help out. It’s not like Jane’s family is rich and between the extra travel and medical bills associated with Jane’s care, the family is at the breaking point this month. While they were uncomfortable with asking for help, I convinced them to allow people to help if they wanted to. A few 100 could make or break things for the family. My goal is to raise $500 to help cover medical expenses this month. If you can chip in, please do:

Proof of the donation to the family will be posted to TransAdvocate.

While we here at the TransAdovcate are facilitating legal representation for the family, that’s not enough. Jane and her family are in trouble and while it’s gratifying to think that those who’ve caused such hardship will be held to account down the road, Jane and her family are in trouble right now.

Please help out however you can.

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Israel: Civil union legislation introduced to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples

From Pink News:


The Yesh Atid Party in Israel on Tuesday introduced legislation to allow same-sex couples equal rights to straight couples.

The legislation aims to avoid the religious constrictions placed on marriage for straight couples, as well as to provide benefits to same-sex couples.

Israel does not currently allow any civil unions, and according a New York Times report, experts have estimated that over recent years, a quarter of Jewish couples have left Israel to marry, or cohabit without marrying.

The 15-page legislation, introduced in the Knesset on Tuesday, avoids using the word “marriage”, but would allow equal benefits for those entering the civil unions. The legislation specifies the unions as between “two human beings”, therefore making same-sex couples eligible.

“We have no argument or clash with the religious establishment, but we do need to provide a civic solution for every person, Jew or non-Jew, gay or straight,” Yair Lapid, Israel’s finance minister and chairman of Yesh Atid, said in a statement. “One of the fundamental human rights is the right to love in any way that one sees fit.”

Complete article at:

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Gay Plano Couple Sues to Overturn Texas’ Gay Marriage Ban

From The Dallas Observer:

On October 3, a few weeks after celebrating their 16th anniversary as a couple, Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss of Plano walked into the Bexar County Clerk’s Office to apply for a marriage license. Their request was was denied, as they knew it would be. Same-sex marriage is still banned under the Texas Constitution.

Though Holmes and Phariss failed to obtain a marriage license, they succeeded in gathering ammunition for a federal lawsuit they filed on Monday in federal court seeking to lift the ban.

“Any person has the legal right to marry another person of the opposite sex, but that right is denied to those citizens who wish to marry another person of the same sex,” the complaint says. “This unequal treatment of gay and lesbian citizens is based on longstanding prejudices, and it is repugnant to the United States Constitution.”

The court filing proceeds to give a thumbnail sketch of Holmes and Phariss’ relationship, as well as that of Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, a lesbian couple from San Antonio who are co-plaintiffs in the suit.

Holmes was in the Air Force and stationed in San Antonio when he met Phariss, an attorney, in 1997. They moved in together after dating for several months but were forced to live apart when Holmes was stationed in San Diego for training to be a physician’s assistant.

They continued their relationship long-distance for the next 11 years, only reuniting under the same roof when Holmes retired from the Air Force in 2010. Soon after, they decided to get married.

De Leon was also in Air Force, though her four years of active duty were over by the time she met Dimetman in 2001. They lived together and supported each other while De Leon completed grad school and while Dimetman finished law school. They married in Massachusetts in 2009 and De Leon gave birth to a child three years later, but they are denied the federal and state benefits that accrue to married couples because Texas won’t recognize their union.

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Republican Says He’d Bring Back Slavery If His Constituents Asked Him To

From Alternet:

Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler’s comments to fellow Republicans sparked an uproar from his colleagues.

By Alex Kane
October 29, 2013

A Nevada Republican sparked outrage after he told members of the GOP that he’d bring back slavery if that’s what his constituents wanted. Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler made the comments to the Storey County Republican Party in August, according to the Associated PressA video of his remarks only recently surfaced, though YouTube copies of the video appear to have been taken down.

In 2010, when Wheeler was running for his seat, a conservative blogger wrote an article where he asked the question, “what if those citizens decided they want to, say, bring back slavery? Hey, if that’s what the citizens want, right Jim?” Wheeler told the crowd in August that he responded to the blogger, “yeah, I would.”

Wheeler added: “If that’s what they wanted, I’d have to hold my nose … they’d probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah.”

Elected officials from both parties furiously denounced his comments. “Assemblyman Wheeler’s comments are deeply offensive and have no place in our society. He should retract his remarks and apologize,” said the governor of the state, Brian Sandoval.

The Democratic caucus in the Nevada Assembly called Wheeler’s remarks “reprehensible and disgusting.”

Wheeler defended himself by telling the AP, “Anyone who knows me knows that I could never vote for something like that…There is absolutely no room in my life for any bigotry.”

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Maddow: Tea party apparently no longer embarrassed to flaunt its racist, neo-Confederate roots

From Raw Story

By David Ferguson
Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wednesday night on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow discussed the increasing explicitness with which tea party Republicans are embracing the Confederacy-era South as their cultural touchstone.

Maddow began the segment by discussing the conservative women’s group the National Federation of Republican Women (NFRW) and their 2010 conference in Charleston, SC, in which attendees were promised “A Southern Experience” by the South Carolina branch of the organization.

“And boy did they mean that!” said Maddow. “They meant a very specific kind of ‘Southern Experience.’”

She then showed photos of the event, which featured white attendees dressed in Confederate regalia and African-American people dressed as slaves. The individual dressed as a Confederate officer in the image is South Carolina’s now-Lieutenant Governor Glenn McConnell, who in 2010 was still just a state senator.

In South Carolina, it is apparently good for your political career to be seen doing Civil War reenactments, complete with slaves.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), shortly after being sworn in, elected to celebrate Confederate History Month. Unlike past governors, however, he did not mention or make any note of the issue of slavery.

“After a while, after a national kerfuffle,” said Maddow, “McConnell did finally get embarrassed and went back to the commemoration statement and added a reference to slavery.”

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“We want to change the world”: Inside a white supremacist conference aimed at millennials

From Salon:

Young white supremacists gather in D.C. to talk Ayn Rand, race and IQ, economic collapse. We crash the sad event

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013

In the basement of Washington’s Ronald Reagan building this Saturday,  100 or so preppy white folks gathered to talk about their disgust with modernity and their embattled race. The room felt like a bunker, windowless and cramped.

Near the White House, the men — and handful of women —  bought books about the IQ differences between races and listened for nearly nine hours, as speakers from the U.S., Switzerland and France carried on about their shared European heritage, the impending financial collapse and the absurdity of believing all men are born free and created equal.

“God did not give people inalienable rights any more than he made them all equal and it is just the silliest kind of thing,” said Sam Dickson, an attorney who has spent decades supporting ultra-right-wing causes from Holocaust denial to Confederate revisionism. “That kind of thinking to the brain is like cotton candy to the stomach as compared to roast beef.”

The conference, titled “After the Fall: The Future of Identity,” was an opportunity to vent about a world that “has begun to crack and splinter under the pressure of mass immigration, multiculturalism and the natural expression of religious and ethnic identities by non-Europeans,” an online announcement explained. The conference comes as much of the white separatist movement is coalescing in opposition to Congress’ push for comprehensive immigration reform.

The host was the National Policy Institute, a quasi-think tank “dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of European people in the United States, and around the world.” In sessions, speakers carried on about “The God That Failed,” “The Children of Oedipus,” the “Question of Identity.”

“We want to change the world,” NPI leader and conference organizer Richard Spencer announced  to his people. “We feel we are at the end of a certain paradigm and we want to take part in creating a new one.” The conference, in essence, was an opportunity for paranoids to hold a planning session/pep rally for their long-awaited economic or cultural collapse.

For the most part it was pretty small-bore stuff. In the lobby outside of the Polaris room, young men debated whether Ayn Rand’s message of individualism served the white race or fragmented it.

During a coffee break, a discussion about whether whites of different ancestry could ever live together in an ethno-state erupted from one of the tables.

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My Confederate Town: Where Civil War-Era Politics Still Dominate

From Alternet:

I feel hostility every time I walk out my door in Front Royal, Virginia.

By Jose Padua
October 28, 2013

This article originally appeared on  The Weeklings.

This afternoon I found myself getting all teary eyed. I was playing the 1988 Dianne Reeves song “Better Days” for my two and a half year old son Julien. It’s the song that begins”

“Silver gray hair neatly combed in place.

There were four generations of love on her face.

She was so wise, no surprise passed her eyes…”

Sometimes referred to as “The Grandma Song,” this tune about her grandmother’s last years is way too sentimental for my tastes, but somehow Reeves sings the sappiness right out of the joint. Or at any rate, she sings it so well that I don’t care anymore, and I let loose with exactly the sort of feeling the song means to convey. In other words, listening to “Better Days” almost always gets me teary eyed—or worse; and halfway through the song this afternoon I was about to take that emotional turn for the worse.

Just a little earlier, Julien and I had left Maggie and Heather at the Royal Horseshoe Farm over on Morgan Ford Road toward the edge of Front Royal, the small town where we live in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Maggie—Heather’s and my nine-year old daughter—was there for her classmate Annalee’s birthday, and I was considering staying at the party with her and Heather. Which, I must say, was kind of odd.

We’ve been to some of Annalee’s previous parties, and though her parents have always been friendly, a good number of their friends and relatives were another story. Unlike Annalee’s parents, they weren’t the sort to extend their southern hospitality to strangers – especially not a mixed couple like Heather and me.

At the last party, many of them refused even to acknowledge us the entire time. I recognized one young woman as the clerk behind the counter the one time I took Maggie to the local ice cream shop. It was one of the situations where I open the front door of a place, everyone’s smiling and laughing until they take a look at me, standing in the entrance looking, to them, like an uppity foreigner, an illegal alien, or maybe even a terrorist. Whatever it was they saw in Maggie and me, it made them turn completely silent.

Sometimes it’s hard to decide which is worse—when they refuse to look at you because they don’t want to acknowledge your existence, your presence, in what they believe is a world that should belong only to them; or when they do look at you, and look at you with the purpose of sending the message that you don’t belong here and that you’re an intruder who better watch his fucking step. One might think, at first, that invisibility is always preferable, because it precludes the possibility that acts of violence may be taken against you.

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Elizabeth Warren Destroys Financial Crisis Myth

From Huffington Post:

By Posted: 10/29/2013

Speaking five years after the financial crisis began, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) rejected that affordable housing mandates for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the financial crisis.

“While the crisis was massive and painful — and its impact continues to weigh on middle-class families to this day — its underlying cause was fairly clear,” she said, in remarks to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s 100th Annual Convention & Expo in Washington. “The GSEs [government-sponsored enterprises] made significant mistakes — mistakes that cost taxpayers dearly — but those mistakes were not the underlying cause of the crisis.”

“Although Fannie and Freddie purchased securities backed by subprime loans, and some of those purchases helped fulfill their affordable housing goals, the St. Louis Fed economists found that the housing goals had no impact — no impact — on either the number of subprime loans originated or the price of those loans in the private-label market,” she said. “Affordable housing goals have been scapegoated by those who have been itching to get rid of the goals for a long time, but I think it’s time to drop that red herring.”

Warren blamed Fannie and Freddie’s mistakes — they have cost taxpayers $187 billion since being taken under government conservatorship in 2008 — on trying to make increased profits to please shareholders.

The study Warren was referring to refuted a common conservative argument blaming the Carter-era Community Reinvestment Act for forcing Fannie and Freddie to buy shoddy mortgages in poor neighborhoods. “It was the federal government that pushed the subprime loans … that pushed the Community Reinvestment Act,” said Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in a GOP primary debate during her presidential campaign, when asked who was to blame for the financial crisis.

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Permaculture is not just a trendy way to go green

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America’s Best Cities Are Being Lobotomized

From Alternet:

Cities exist to promote culture. But gentrification is destroying this vital role.

By Rebecca Solnit, Nato Thompson
October 24, 2013

Nato Thompson: Gentrification is a topic you have written about quite extensively in regard to that city on the Bay, San Francisco. It’s also a strange word in that it hints at not only a spatial transformation, but a cultural one as well (in terms of race and class). How do you see that mutable thing called culture playing out in cities and what value does it possess?

Rebecca Solnit: Culture is not only economically beneficial to cities; in a deeper sense, it’s what cities are for. A city without poets, painters and photographers is sterile—it’s a suburb. It doesn’t contain the mirrors of its own inner workings, in the form of creativity, criticism or cultural memory. It’s undergone a lobotomy.

It’s important to add that the people who blame artists for gentrification imagine artists as white middle-class newcomers to neighborhoods; but there are long-term culture-makers from the underclass that matter. Art comes in all colors: think of the Mission District’s muralists, the gospel choirs of the Fillmore or hip-hop in the South Bronx, just for starters.

Most politicians, businessmen and economists, and many urban theorists, present cities as machines of capital, now that industrial production has been shipped off to the Third World, or sometimes American exurbs and suburbs. But cities, for me, are the brain of a society. They’re made for dreaming and imagining in ways that might not be so viable, or might just be lonely, in towns or villages. Big cities become refugee centers for people who are weird and innovative.

The reversal of postwar white flight ultimately led to the suburbanization of the city. Look at downtown San Diego, which has supposedly been “reinvigorated” (to use a bit of urbanist jargon)—it’s dominated by chain stores and condos that are often second homes for the rich. There’s another problem. Cities used to provide poor people with a place—even if it was just a tenement. Now if you fall below the middle class, you won’t find the working-class boarding houses of the 1930s. Instead, you’ll fall into homelessness. There’s this novel phenomenon of homeless people who are employed, sometimes even in white-collar jobs.

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X-Ray of a Flagging Presidency

From Huffington Post:


Will Obama Block the Keystone Pipeline or Just Keep Bending?

Cross-posted with

As the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline has worn on — and it’s now well over two years old — it’s illuminated the Obama presidency like no other issue. It offers the president not just a choice of policies, but a choice of friends, worldviews, styles. It’s become an X-ray for a flagging presidency. The stakes are sky-high, and not just for Obama. I’m writing these words from Pittsburgh, amid 7,000 enthusiastic and committed young people gathering to fight global warming, and my guess is that his choice will do much to determine how they see politics in this country.

Let us stipulate at the start that whether or not to build the pipeline is a decision with profound physical consequences. If he approves its construction, far more of the dirtiest oil on Earth will flow out of the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, and reach the U.S. Gulf Coast. Not just right away or for a brief period, but far into the future, since the Keystone XL guarantees a steady flow of profits to oil barons who have their hearts set on tripling production in the far north.

The history of oil spills and accidents offers a virtual guarantee that some of that oil will surely make its way into the fields and aquifers of the Great Plains as those tar sands flow south.  The greater and more daunting assurance is this, however: everything that reaches the refineries on the Gulf Coast will, sooner or later, spill into the atmosphere in the form of carbon, driving climate change to new heights.

In June, President Obama said that the building of the full pipeline — on which he alone has the ultimate thumbs up or thumbs down — would be approved only if “it doesn’t significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”  By that standard, it’s as close to a no-brainer as you can get.

These days, however, as no one will be surprised to hear, brainless things happen in Washington more often than not, and there’s the usual parade of the usual suspects demanding that Keystone get built. In mid-October, a coalition that included Exxon, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Royal Dutch Shell, not to mention the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Business Roundtable, sent Obama a letter demanding that he approve Keystone in order to “maintain investor confidence,” a phrase almost guaranteed to accompany bad ideas. A report last week showed that the Koch brothers stood to earn as much as $100 billion in profits if the pipeline gets built (which would come in handy in helping fund their endless assault on unions, poor people, and democracy).

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How Do We Act in the Face of Climate Chaos?

From Arctic News:

Guy R. McPherson
Monday, October 28, 2013

The Warning

As described by the United Nations Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases in 1990, temperature rise “beyond 1 degree C may elicit rapid, unpredictable and non-linear responses that could lead to extensive ecosystem damage”.

We’ve clearly triggered the types of positive feedbacks the United Nations warned about in 1990. Yet my colleagues and acquaintances think we can and will work our way out of this horrific mess with permaculture (which is not to denigrate permaculture, the principles of which are implemented at the mud hut). Reforestation doesn’t come close to overcoming combustion of fossil fuels, as pointed out in the 30 May 2013 issue of Nature Climate Change. Furthermore, forested ecosystems do not sequester additional carbon dioxide as it increases in the atmosphere, as disappointingly explained in the 6 August 2013 issue of New Phytologist.Here’s the bottom line: On a planet 4 C hotter than baseline, all we can prepare for is human extinction (from Oliver Tickell’s 2008 synthesis in the Guardian).

John Davies concludes: “The world is probably at the start of a runaway Greenhouse Event which will end most human life on Earth before 2040.” He considers only atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, not the many self-reinforcing feedback loops described below.

Positive feedbacks

Methane hydrates are bubbling out the Arctic Ocean (Science, March 2010). According to NASA’s CARVE project, these plumes were up to 150 kilometers across as of mid-July 2013. Whereas Malcolm Light’s 9 February 2012 forecast of extinction of all life on Earth by the middle of this century appears premature because his conclusion of exponential methane release during summer 2011 was based on data subsequently revised and smoothed by U.S. government agencies, subsequent information — most notably from NASA’s CARVE project — indicates the grave potential for catastrophic release of methane. Catastrophically rapid release of methane in the Arctic is further supported by Nafeez Ahmed’s thorough analysis in the 5 August 2013 issue of the Guardian as well as Natalia Shakhova’s 29 July 2013 interview with Nick Breeze (note the look of abject despair at the eight-minute mark).

Warm Atlantic water is defrosting the Arctic as it shoots through the Fram Strait (Science, January 2011).

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Naomi Klein: How science is telling us all to revolt

From The New Statesman:

Is our relentless quest for economic growth killing the planet? Climate scientists have seen the data – and they are coming to some incendiary conclusions.

By Naomi Klein
Published 29 October 2013

In December 2012, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco. This year’s conference had some big-name participants, from Ed Stone of Nasa’s Voyager project, explaining a new milestone on the path to interstellar space, to the film-maker James Cameron, discussing his adventures in deep-sea submersibles.

But it was Werner’s own session that was attracting much of the buzz. It was titled “Is Earth F**ked?” (full title: “Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism”).

Standing at the front of the conference room, the geophysicist from the University of California, San Diego walked the crowd through the advanced computer model he was using to answer that question. He talked about system boundaries, perturbations, dissipation, attractors, bifurcations and a whole bunch of other stuff largely incomprehensible to those of us uninitiated in complex systems theory. But the bottom line was clear enough: global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that “earth-human systems” are becoming dangerously unstable in response. When pressed by a journalist for a clear answer on the “are we f**ked” question, Werner set the jargon aside and replied, “More or less.”

There was one dynamic in the model, however, that offered some hope. Werner termed it “resistance” – movements of “people or groups of people” who “adopt a certain set of dynamics that does not fit within the capitalist culture”. According to the abstract for his presentation, this includes “environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups”.

Serious scientific gatherings don’t usually feature calls for mass political resistance, much less direct action and sabotage. But then again, Werner wasn’t exactly calling for those things. He was merely observing that mass uprisings of people – along the lines of the abolition movement, the civil rights movement or Occupy Wall Street – represent the likeliest source of “friction” to slow down an economic machine that is careening out of control. We know that past social movements have “had tremendous influence on . . . how the dominant culture evolved”, he pointed out. So it stands to reason that, “if we’re thinking about the future of the earth, and the future of our coupling to the environment, we have to include resistance as part of that dynamics”. And that, Werner argued, is not a matter of opinion, but “really a geophysics problem”.

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