Ted Cruz election ad stars sheriff who threatened to beat up trans women

From Pink News:  https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/10/04/ted-cruz-sheriff-tracy-murphree-trans-women/

October 4, 2018

Republican Senator Ted Cruz has released an election ad featuring a divisive police sheriff who publicly threatened violence against trans women.

The Dallas Observer notes that Cruz’s latest attack, which took aim at his Democrat rival Beto O’Rourke’s efforts to tackle institutional racism within the police force, featured Denton Country Sheriff Tracy Murphree decrying the Democrat’s “war on police officers.”

Cruz, a darling of the hardline evangelical wing of the Republican Party, is facing a tougher-than-expected challenge for his Texas Senate seat in November’s midterms, thanks to resurgent challenger O’Rourke.

As Politico reported, the Republicans have put a large amount of funding behind Cruz’s campaign to see off the close-run challenge—but the TV ad released by his campaign this week is getting attention for the wrong reasons.

In 2016, he faced anger when he wrote in a Facebook post: “This whole bathroom thing is craziness I have never seen. All I can say is this.

“If my little girl is in a public women’s restroom and a man, regardless of how he may identify goes into that bathroom. He will then identify as John Doe until he wakes up in what ever hospital he may be taken to.

“Your identify does not trump my little girls [sic] safety.”

Murphee later claimed he regretted the post after the mother of a local transgender child spoke out, but he refused to meet with an LGBT+ group and apologise for his comments.

Explaining why he was refusing to meet with Equality Texas, he said: “I feel I have made my position clear that I am not targeting transgenders but concerned about predators taking advantage of the policies. I really have nothing else to add.”

The Cruz campaign did not comment on the ad, or on Murphree’s violent threats.

Cruz’s anti-LGBT record

Cruz is one of the strongest voices against LGBT+ equality in the Senate.

He has strongly backed new anti-LGBT ‘religious freedom’ laws allowing religious people to discriminate against married gay couples and trans people, and has also claimed transgender people are a threat to his daughters.

Senator Cruz shared the stage with extremist pastor Kevin Swanson at a religious rally in 2015, where Swanson called for the death penalty for homosexuals.

Cruz ducked calls to condemn Swanson for months, before he finally admitted attending the rally was a mistake.

The Senator’s father, Rafael Cruz, is a noted anti-LGBT pastor.

At a political rally in June, the pastor ranted about same-sex marriage, comparing it to marriage between “marriage between two men and a horse.”

He claimed: “That decision of the Supreme Court on June 26 of 2015, where they said that God got it wrong and marriage was not just between one man and a woman, it could be between two men and a horse.

“But basically, that decision was much more than same-sex marriage, it was, at the heart of it, the destruction, or the attempt to destroy, the traditional family.”

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A Scary Time

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‘There Was No Way I Was Going To Die A Male’: What It’s Like To Transition At 70

People find their truths at all different ages.  The ability to look within and discover deep truths then act upon them is a good thing.  The ability to try something new and when acting with courage is required, finding that courage is something to be respected.

From Huffington Post:  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gender-affirmation-surgery_us_5bb3a27be4b0d1ebe0e568f0

By Jamie Feldman

Wendy Cole has no trouble engaging with customers at the supermarket in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where she works. She even has regulars ― people who specifically pick her line when she’s on the job.

Working directly with customers may not seem like that big a deal, but it’s something she couldn’t imagine doing until recently. Cole spent most of her working years hiding out in a basement office as a programmer and database developer, seldom interacting with people.

That changed in August 2017, when, at 70 years old, Cole had gender affirmation surgery.

“I made up my mind: There was no way I was going to die a male,” Cole told HuffPost. “I wanted to live the rest of my life as a woman and experience everything that [comes with it].”

It’s a decision she’d been considering for 65 years. Cole said she knew from the time she was 5 years old there was something different about her. She recalled overhearing her grandmother comment on how pretty she was.

“She said, ‘He should have been a girl,’” Cole said. “And I thought to myself, ‘Oh, God, how does she know?’ Because that’s how I felt.”

Cole credits changing attitudes and understanding about the transgender community with helping her make the decision to transition at this stage in her life. But she spent decades struggling to repress and “fix” what she thought was “wrong” with her. There were therapists, countless medications and a constant internal struggle.

“I was in a very dark place emotionally, and continuing to live like this was not an option,” she said. “I didn’t really want to kill myself, but that was sitting there on the other hand. That, or do something that would make this bearable and move forward with it and see where it goes.”

Going forward meant beginning hormone therapy and permanently leaving behind the life she’d spent decades creating ― which included a 40-year marriage with her wife. Throughout those years, she struggled immensely, but refrained from sharing those feelings with her wife, save for one night in 1978, when her wife heard her talking about being a woman in her sleep. 

“I figured, ‘OK, I’ll tell her everything and we’ll probably be divorced by morning,’” she said. “She said to me, as long as I keep repressing it and dealing with it, we’ll stay together.” Wendy felt she didn’t “have any other options” at the time, and so they stayed together, continuing on as a family.

Over the years, Cole had moments of release. She would dress up in her basement ― only to feel extremely depressed when she had to change back. Once, when her wife was out of town, she bought a pair of pumps ― her first ― that she still owns today.

Continue reading at:  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gender-affirmation-surgery_us_5bb3a27be4b0d1ebe0e568f0

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The Suffocation of Democracy

From The New York Review of Books:  https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/10/25/suffocation-of-democracy/

Christopher R. Browning
October 25. 2018 edition

As a historian specializing in the Holocaust, Nazi Germany, and Europe in the era of the world wars, I have been repeatedly asked about the degree to which the current situation in the United States resembles the interwar period and the rise of fascism in Europe. I would note several troubling similarities and one important but equally troubling difference.

In the 1920s, the US pursued isolationism in foreign policy and rejected participation in international organizations like the League of Nations. America First was America alone, except for financial agreements like the Dawes and Young Plans aimed at ensuring that our “free-loading” former allies could pay back their war loans. At the same time, high tariffs crippled international trade, making the repayment of those loans especially difficult. The country witnessed an increase in income disparity and a concentration of wealth at the top, and both Congress and the courts eschewed regulations to protect against the self-inflicted calamities of free enterprise run amok. The government also adopted a highly restrictionist immigration policy aimed at preserving the hegemony of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants against an influx of Catholic and Jewish immigrants. (Various measures barring Asian immigration had already been implemented between 1882 and 1917.) These policies left the country unable to respond constructively to either the Great Depression or the rise of fascism, the growing threat to peace, and the refugee crisis of the 1930s.

Today, President Trump seems intent on withdrawing the US from the entire post–World War II structure of interlocking diplomatic, military, and economic agreements and organizations that have preserved peace, stability, and prosperity since 1945. His preference for bilateral relations, conceived as zero-sum rivalries in which he is the dominant player and “wins,” overlaps with the ideological preference of Steve Bannon and the so-called alt-right for the unfettered self-assertion of autonomous, xenophobic nation-states—in short, the pre-1914 international system. That “international anarchy” produced World War I, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Great Depression, the fascist dictatorships, World War II, and the Holocaust, precisely the sort of disasters that the post–World War II international system has for seven decades remarkably avoided.

In threatening trade wars with allies and adversaries alike, Trump justifies increased tariffs on our allies on the specious pretext that countries like Canada are a threat to our national security. He combines his constant disparagement of our democratic allies with open admiration of authoritarians. His naive and narcissistic confidence in his own powers of personal diplomacy and his faith in a handshake with the likes of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un recall the hapless Neville Chamberlain (a man in every other regard different from Trump). Fortunately the US is so embedded in the international order it created after 1945, and the Republican Party and its business supporters are sufficiently alarmed over the threat to free trade, that Trump has not yet completed his agenda of withdrawal, though he has made astounding progress in a very short time.

A second aspect of the interwar period with all too many similarities to our current situation is the waning of the Weimar Republic. Paul von Hindenburg, elected president of Germany in 1925, was endowed by the Weimar Constitution with various emergency powers to defend German democracy should it be in dire peril. Instead of defending it, Hindenburg became its gravedigger, using these powers first to destroy democratic norms and then to ally with the Nazis to replace parliamentary government with authoritarian rule. Hindenburg began using his emergency powers in 1930, appointing a sequence of chancellors who ruled by decree rather than through parliamentary majorities, which had become increasingly impossible to obtain as a result of the Great Depression and the hyperpolarization of German politics.

Because an ever-shrinking base of support for traditional conservatism made it impossible to carry out their authoritarian revision of the constitution, Hindenburg and the old right ultimately made their deal with Hitler and installed him as chancellor. Thinking that they could ultimately control Hitler while enjoying the benefits of his popular support, the conservatives were initially gratified by the fulfillment of their agenda: intensified rearmament, the outlawing of the Communist Party, the suspension first of freedom of speech, the press, and assembly and then of parliamentary government itself, a purge of the civil service, and the abolition of independent labor unions. Needless to say, the Nazis then proceeded far beyond the goals they shared with their conservative allies, who were powerless to hinder them in any significant way.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/10/25/suffocation-of-democracy/

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What the Maps of Hate Groups Reveal

From Yes Magazine:  https://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/mental-health/what-the-maps-of-hate-groups-reveal-20181001

New research offers clues to stop the spread of organized hate groups in the U.S.

Oct 01, 2018

Organized hate groups span all geographic areas of the United States, from White nationalists in Washington state to neo-Nazis in Alabama to radical traditionalist Catholics in New Hampshire. While persecution of classes of people happens everywhere, the drivers that push people to join hate groups are unique to specific places. In this way, hatred can be a study in geography as much as anything else.

A new model tracking organized hate groups upends a long-held, simplistic view of the issue, one that placed a generalized blame on education or immigration, for example, positing that a person’s education level could be a sole indicator of whether they would join a hate group.

New research from the University of Utah provides a much more nuanced picture of what gives rise to organized hate groups that can better serve those working to dismantle them. In the Midwest, economics is a more influential factor than immigration. On the East Coast, more religious areas correlate with more per capita hate groups, while education has little influence.

Richard Medina, University of Utah assistant professor of geography and lead author of the research, said public perceptions of hate and its motivating factors are often oversimplified. “Drivers of hate are dependent on regions and cultures and all the things we see and study in geography,” he said. “It can be really complicated. People don’t just hate for one reason.”

Medina’s group had been working on the research before the White supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, where a woman was killed in the violence. Emily Nicolosi, University of Utah graduate student and co-author of the paper, said that what happened in Charlottesville started national conversations she believes the research can support.

“The motivators and drivers of hate look very different in different places,” Nicolosi said. “If you look at the maps, you can see that these sort of regions emerge where the [different] variables are playing the same role.”

The research used census data to track specific socioeconomic variables, such as population changes over a five-year period, poverty, and education levels. Researchers mapped population percentage of White non-Latinos because places changing from strong racial and ethnic similarity are more likely to experience a negative reaction to change. Poverty is a driver of hate because extremist groups promise the impoverished a way out of financial difficulty or provide a group to blame. The group also measured conservative religious and political ideology.

The maps of these socioeconomic factors were then compared to a 2014 map of 784 organized hate groups across the country that the Southern Poverty Law Center created.

Continue reading at:  https://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/mental-health/what-the-maps-of-hate-groups-reveal-20181001

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‘We Will Not Be Silenced’: As Protests Continue, Debbie Ramirez Champions Collective Courage of Sexual Assault Survivors Standing Against Kavanaugh

From Common Dreams:  https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/10/06/we-will-not-be-silenced-protests-continue-debbie-ramirez-champions-collective

“We are not going anywhere,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, on Saturday. “Today, we bear witness to this vote and tomorrow we organize to elect candidates who believe women and share our vision of a country that is just and compassionate and reflective to the change required for our nation.”

by Jon Queally, staff writer
Saturday, October 06, 2018

With a public statement issued on Saturday just ahead of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate, Debbie Ramirez—the Yale classmate of the nominee who says he sexually assaulted her while in college—said that even though coming forward has been a painful experience she thanked those who have stood by her side and said the courage of all those survivors is proof that something historic has taken place.

“Thirty five years ago, the other students in the room chose to laugh and look the other way as sexual violence was perpetrated on me by Brett Kavanaugh,” Ramirez declares in her statement (pdf). “As I watched many of the Senators speak and vote on the floor of the Senate, I feel like I’m right back at Yale where half the room is laughing and looking the other way. Only this time, instead of drunk college kids, it is U.S. senators who are deliberately ignoring his behavior. This is how victims are isolated and silenced.”

But while she feels ignored by those powerful lawmakers and others, she thanked those who have stood by her—including classmates who put themselves forward to corroborate her story to the FBI but were ignored—and said, “there are millions more who are standing together” to speak out about the their experiences of sexual assault and supporting one another.

As the statement emerged huge crowds of women, sexual assault survivors, and others amassed outside both the Capitol Building and the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

Continue reading at:  https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/10/06/we-will-not-be-silenced-protests-continue-debbie-ramirez-champions-collective

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