My First High Holy Days

In August I started a course called “Introduction to Judaism”.

This year will mark my first celebration of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

I have my highly coveted tickets to services.

Along with the process of converting comes the social anxiety of the cultural.  What to wear, what to cook. Remembering the few words of Hebrew I have learned so far that mark the start of various blessings and prayers..  Hopefully our teachers will be there as well as other class members.

Ahh. At 72 after trying on so many ideas, studying various religions I found a place where I feel comfortable in Reform Judaism…

Shanah Tova

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The White Power Movement From Reagan to Trump

From The Nation:

Kathleen Belew explains the links among “lone wolf” white supremacist attacks like those in Charleston, Christchurch, and El Paso.

By Jon Wiener
September 4, 2019

Jon Wiener: El Paso, Charleston, Charlottesville: All the attackers we’re talking about have been described as loners. You say they are all connected. How?

Kathleen Belew: We’re talking here about the White Power movement, a coalition that includes Klan groups, neo-Nazi groups, skinheads, and other activists. They came together in a movement in the late 1970s in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. One of their key tactics was a thing called leaderless resistance—a few people work in a cell without direct communication with other cells and without direct orders from leadership. This strategy was implemented to stymie infiltration efforts and prosecution. But there’s been a much larger and more damaging legacy of the strategy of leaderless resistance: It has effectively erased this entire movement as a movement, so what we see instead are a series of stories about lone wolf attackers, acts of violence that are inexplicable and unrelated to each other. We get narratives about mental illness or personal animus, and we miss the very political, very deliberate meaning of this violence, which comes from understanding it as interconnected.

JW: What is the larger goal of all the attackers in these terrorist incidents?

KB: Within this movement the end goal is not the act of mass violence itself. The violence is intended to awaken other white people to the cause and bring them into the movement. The goal is to incite a broader race war.

JW: But aren’t these people, the most recent ones at least, isolated loners? Dylann Roof, for example, the Charleston killer, didn’t go to meetings, as far as we know was not a member of an organization. As far as we know, neither did the accused El Paso killer.

KB: Yes—Dylann Roof didn’t have real-life connections with other activists. Nevertheless, he did have connections that meant a great deal to him in his earlier history of White Power activism. The thing that I always think of is the photograph of Roof wearing a Rhodesian flag patch. Rhodesia was a ruled by a white minority until 1979, when a revolution created the black-ruled Zimbabwe. This all happened before Dylann Roof was born. This has huge meaning within the White Power movement, and the fact that he chooses Rhodesia as an identifier when there have been so many other more recent flashpoints is a clear indicator that he is in communication with other activists and that he sees himself as part of this longer trajectory of action.

JW: These individuals are called white nationalists, but you say that the nation at the heart of white nationalism is not the United States. What is it?

KB: It’s the Aryan Nation. It’s important to call this the White Power Movement because “white nationalism” makes people think of something much less radical, some sort of overzealous patriotism or shoring up whiteness within the body politic of the United States. The Aryan Nation is an inherently radical and violent project that is fundamentally opposed to the United States.

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GOP Accuses Danica Roem of Bribing Voters With Earnest, Responsive Constituent Service

From The Peedmont:

by The Peedmont Staff
Sept. 3, 2019

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — In a scathing rebuke against “an alarming pattern of corruption and official misconduct,” the Prince William County Republican Committee has accused Del. Danica Roem, D-13th, of attempting to obtain votes “through the provision of earnest, responsive service to her constituency regarding the issues that concern them in a material fashion.”

“This is typical Democrat chicanery,” PWC Republican Committee Chairman Bill Card said. “For an elected representative to spend hours—whole work days, even—talking to voters, connecting them with state services, requesting information or a status report about specific matters on their behalf, and generally just creating a dialogue between the people and their government so that they’ll vote to keep them in office is, well…it’s wrong.”

“You’d certainly never see any Republican doing that,” Card added.

Roem has claimed she was unaware of Card’s accusations until recently, citing a busy schedule, but insisted she wasn’t ignoring him. “I take Mr. Card’s accusations very seriously,” Roem said while giving free guitar lessons at a local Boys & Girls Club, “and I will respond just as soon as I’ve finished eliminating school lunch debt, reconfiguring the I-66/Route 28 interchange, getting a 5% raise for public school teachers, enacting ‘red flag’ laws to prevent dangerous individuals from acquiring or possessing a firearm if they are deemed a threat to themselves or others, and ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.”

In response to Roem’s comments, the PWC Republican Committee issued the following statement: “Obviously, Ms. Roem has made up her mind about what kind of representative she wants to be for the people of the 13th District. She’s determined to waste taxpayer dollars on ridiculous, irresponsible pet projects like road maintenance, healthcare, and public education, while altogether ignoring the laments of our burdened wealthy citizens suffering under the yoke of a usury 5.75% income tax rate.”

While a Republican candidate has yet to be nominated to challenge Roem in the upcoming 2019 general election, the Committee has vetted multiple individuals in search of “literally anyone but Corey goddamn Stewart.”

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Trans Conversion Therapy is Widespread, Study Says

From Gay City News:

Researchers say the dangerous practice is seen in every US state

BY Matt Tracy
August 20, 2019

A whopping 13.5 percent of transgender Americans spanning every US state have been subjected to so-called conversion therapy in their lifetime, according to a new study published by the American Journal of Public Health.

Researchers at the Fenway Institute, citing data from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Williams Institute of UCLA, concluded that the dangerous practice of trying to change a person’s gender identity has been attempted on an estimated 187,923 trans individuals. Conversion therapy focused on attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation is also prevalent, but was not considered for this study.

The data revealed especially disturbing realities of the widespread nature of the practice in the United States. Trans individuals have suffered from conversion therapy in certain states more than others: 9.4 percent of trans respondents in South Carolina, for example, said they were exposed to attempts to change their gender identity during their lifetime compared to 25 percent in Wyoming. Meanwhile, in the window of time between 2010 and 2015, 1.2 percent of trans Alaskans said they were exposed to it compared to 25 percent of Wyoming residents. Notably, trans people in the upper mountain region have been particularly exposed to conversion therapy, according to the study.

The research underscores the depth of a practice that has been increasingly curtailed across the nation: More than a dozen states and municipalities have banned the practice from being used on children. The American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and numerous other professional groups oppose attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Dr. Jack Turban, who is one of the study’s authors and serves as a resident physician in psychiatry at The Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital, told Gay City News that the findings are “extremely concerning.”

“We hope that these findings will encourage state lawmakers to move forward with legislation that bans gender identity change efforts,” Turban said. “Some state legislators have argued that this practice does not occur in their states. Our findings show that this is false; gender identity change efforts have happened in every state in the US.”

Legal hurdles that have largely limited states to banning conversion therapy on minors is problematic, according to the study’s authors, who are stressing that the negative impact of the practice on adults should not be understated.

“We believe that gender identity change efforts are dangerous for people of all ages,” Turban stated. “The practice promotes shame and subsequent mental health problems. Ideal legislative efforts would ban all gender identity change efforts.”

Still, the authors recommend that future studies should focus on conversion therapy among youths because previous research has indicated that there are stronger links between adverse mental health outcomes among adults who have been exposed to the practice when they were young.

“Given this exposure’s association with adverse mental health outcomes, the frequency of practice warrants public health attention,” the study noted.

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Does Silicon Valley Have a Transphobia Problem?

From New Now Next:

Tech companies like Google and Mozilla have policies to protect transgender employees. Enforcing those policies may be another story.


The tech industry likes to portray itself as pro-LGBTQ, but many transgender employees question just how true this is.

Dell is currently being sued by two former employees who say they were discriminated against because of their gender identities. Cecilia Gilbert, a trans woman, was fired during her transition and told by co-workers that she shouldn’t tell people she’s trans. Helen Harris, who is gender nonconforming, claims to have experienced discrimination on a regular basis during the three years they worked for the tech giant. This isn’t the first time the company has faced a lawsuit over alleged anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

And Dell is not alone. A trans woman and her husband sued Amazon in 2017, claiming they were verbally abused while working at one of its warehouses (they considered some of the slurs tossed at them transphobic). Meanwhile, a transgender man and former Google employee, Tim Chevalier, sued Google last year, alleging that he was fired for speaking out against racism and discrimination within the company while cisgender employees were not fired for speaking out politically.

Chevalier claimed in the lawsuit that the company’s “internal social networking platforms were widely used to belittle and harass women, people of color, LGBTQ employees, and other underrepresented groups.” After responding to certain comments made on these platforms, he says human resources criticized him for labeling the people who did this “white guys,” even though he is a white man. Multiple Google employees told Wired last year that white males have “weaponized” HR by targeting LGBTQ individuals with their complaints.

“I was being scrutinized for my political statements while people who were cis were being just as political,” Chevalier tells NewNowNext. “They were saying things that were offensive about minority groups, and they were not disciplined for it. I think trans people are hyper-scrutinized and are held to different standards of behavior.”

Chevalier thnks that anti-trans discrimination is common in Silicon Valley, the home base for many tech companies. He says that when he was working at Mozilla he was harassed for speaking out against homophobia in the workplace. “What had happened was that a very homophobic person who worked there had used company resources to make a post that was opposing same-sex marriage,” Chevalier said. “When my colleague and I complained, we were basically targeted by a harassment campaign.” He claims one employee anonymously left threats on the blog of the other person who complained.

A representative from Google tells NewNowNext: “All employees acknowledge our code of conduct and other workplace policies, under which promoting harmful stereotypes based on race or gender is prohibited… But when an employee does not, it is something we must take seriously, and we take appropriate action. We always make our decision without any regard to the employee’s political views or identity.”

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Robert Reich: The 5 Biggest Corporate Lies About Unions

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Miscellaneous Music That Shaped Me

Earlier this week I was playing a variety of music that shaped me and Tina suggested I post some of it tonight.

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