‘Believe All Women’ Is a Right-Wing Trap

I got over the idea that I had to believe everything anyone told me because of who they were by about the age of five or so.  That goes for politicians and professors, advertising and everyone else.  Individuals have varying levels of ethics and honesty.  You have to look at their histories to gauge probable levels of credibility.

Living your life by political slogans means setting aside your personal internal fact check.  People on the left can and often are just as stupid and dogmatic a herd of slogan regurgitating sheep as the Trumpster Tea Baggers.

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/18/opinion/tara-reade-believe-all-women.html

How feminists got stuck answering for a canard.

By Susan Faludi
May 18, 2020

Joe Biden has been accused of sexual assault, and conservatives are having a field day, exultant that they’ve caught feminists in a new hypocrisy trap. A woman, with no corroboration beyond contemporaneous accounts, charges a powerful man with a decades-old crime? Hmm, doesn’t that sound mighty close to Christine Blasey Ford’s complaint against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh? Yet this time, many liberals who’ve championed the #MeToo movement seem skeptical?

Gotcha!

Tim Graham, executive editor of NewsBusters: “Where is the #MeToo movement on this story? What happened to their rigid ‘Believe All Women’ boilerplate?”

Fox News host Tucker Carlson: “the infuriating, the sickening hypocrisy of the media and the professional feminist movement. ‘Believe All Women!’ No they don’t.”

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway: “Three magic words, ‘Believe All Women.’ I didn’t hear an asterisk; I didn’t see a footnote, ‘Believe All Women so long as they are attacking somebody aligned with President Trump, Believe All Women so long as they are — have a college degree or better or are — are for abortion in the ninth month.’”

In fact, “Believe All Women” does have an asterisk: *It’s never been feminist “boilerplate.” What we are witnessing is another instance of the right decrying what it imagines the American women’s movement to be.

Spend some mind-numbing hours tracking the origins of “Believe All Women” on social media sites and news databases — as I did — and you’ll discover how language, like a virus, can mutate overnight. All of a sudden, yesterday’s quotes suffer the insertion of some foreign DNA that makes them easy to weaponize. In this case, that foreign intrusion is a word: “all.”

“All” insertion was all the rage during the Kavanaugh hearings. When senators from Kamala Harris to Mazie Hirono had their regard for Dr. Blasey’s credibility elevated by Fox News pundits to universal gender credulity, their actual words, “I believe her,” became believe all women. “That’s literally the hashtag,” former Fox News contributor Morgan Ortagus said in February 2019. “There’s a great search function on Twitter, and you can search the #BelieveAllWomen. For those of you who don’t believe that’s what the Democrats had in the case of Kavanaugh.”

Is there “literally” a hashtag? Well, kind of.

Meaningfully tracking hashtags on Twitter is a confounding chore, even for the professional data scrapers I consulted. “It’s a very interesting rabbit hole,” Pablo Morales Henry, digital archivist at Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library, which maintains a collection of more than 30 million MeToo-related tweets, told me.

Nevertheless, let’s take the Ortagus challenge. As she noted, Twitter has a search function that, while hardly “great,” does at least crudely reflect the site’s use — especially by its most popular users who are most likely to spread a hashtag far and wide. For instance, type in #BlackLivesMatter or #MakeAmericaGreatAgain” for 2016, and you get a bottomless well of references. Type in #BelieveAllWomen for 2017, when the #MeToo movement took off in October, and you get several dozen references, followed in 2018 (the year of the Kavanaugh hearings) by many more. But here’s the thing: I found that the hashtag is, by a wide margin, used mostly by its detractors.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/18/opinion/tara-reade-believe-all-women.html

UK launches unprecedented attack on trans rights, will ban transition before 18

From Gay Star News:  https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/uk-launches-unprecedented-attack-on-trans-rights-will-ban-transition-before-18/

Statement appears to threaten trans bathroom access.

Tris Reid-Smith
Apr. 23 2020

Britain’s new Equality Minister Liz Truss has announced a major government policy change on trans rights, banning transition before the age of 18.

Her statement may also be the start of an attack on trans people being able to use the right bathrooms and changing rooms.

Truss made the statement to the UK Parliament’s Women and Equalities Select Committee. Her comments came as the UK Parliament got back to work yesterday with MPs speaking online from their homes.

In it, she said the government would finally be updating the Gender Recognition Act this summer.

The current law dates from 2004. And the Conservative government has been promising to update it for several years. They ran an extensive public consultation in 2018. But further progress stalled in 2019 as the UK parliament imploded over Brexit.

Trans people initially believed the act would make it easier to change gender. But since it went up for debate, new anti-trans voices have emerged in UK media and social media.

Truss’ statement on trans rights

Truss told the Women and Equalities Select Committee yesterday that they would be putting forward their plans for the Gender Recognition Act by the summer. She said:

‘There are three very important principles that I will be putting place.

‘First of all, the protection of single-sex spaces, which is extremely important.

‘Secondly making sure that transgender adults are free to live their lives as they wish without fear of persecution, whilst maintaining the proper checks and balances in the system.

‘Finally, which is not a direct issue concerning the Gender Recognition Act, but is relevant, making sure that the under 18s are protected from decisions that they could make, that are irreversible in the future.

‘I believe strongly that adults should have the freedom to lead their lives as they see fit, but I think it’s very important that while people are still developing their decision-making capabilities that we protect them from making those irreversible decisions.’

Continue reading at:  https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/uk-launches-unprecedented-attack-on-trans-rights-will-ban-transition-before-18/

“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling continues support for extreme anti-transgender rhetoric

From LGBTQ Nation:  https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2020/05/harry-potter-author-j-k-rowling-continues-support-extreme-anti-transgender-tweets/

Rowling approved of a tweet that called a trans woman a “guy” who is “an adult human male who claims to be a lesbian.”

By
Monday, May 18, 2020

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, is once again drawing criticism for liking anti-transgender rhetoric on Twitter.

Rowling, who has a strong Twitter presence, has liked transphobic tweets in the past, although her publicist said that the author clicked “like” by accident in a “clumsy and middle-aged moment.”

This past December, Rowling tweeted that “sex is real,” a common statement used by transphobes to imply that sex assigned at birth determines a person’s entire life, effectively erasing gender identity.

She used the hashtag #IStandWithMaya in that tweet, a reference to British anti-transgender activist Maya Forstater, who lost her job at a progressive organization for her statements about transgender women, including “men cannot change into women” and that transphobia against trans women only “hurts men’s feelings.”

Over the weekend, Rowling liked a tweet from anti-transgender activist Fred Sargeant. On Twitter, Sargeant frequently advocates that it’s “time to remove the T from same-sex advocacy groups” and that transgender women can’t be oppressed because they’re assigned male at birth.

The tweet in question wasn’t on a different topic. Sargeant wrote about Alex Drummond, a Welsh trans woman who has a beard, calling her “an adult human male who claims to be a lesbian.”

She “believes that real lesbians who aren’t into penises are transphobic and should be excluded from the lesbian community,” according to Sargeant, who misgendered her by calling her “this guy.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2020/05/harry-potter-author-j-k-rowling-continues-support-extreme-anti-transgender-tweets/

 

Who Will Prosper After the Plague?

From The Tablet:  https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/kotkin-coronavirus-feudalism

The tech sector and the managerial class will get richer, while the rest of us become their serfs

by Joel Kotkin
April 13, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to widen even further the growing class divides now found in virtually every major country. By disrupting smaller grassroots businesses while expanding the power of technologies used in the enforcement of government edicts, the virus could further empower both the tech oligarchs and the “expert” class leading the national response to the crisis.

In our increasingly feudal society, the small property owning yeomanry who operate the local businesses essential to Los Angeles shopping streets, and New York neighborhoods are already under threat and will be squeezed further by both the pandemic and its aftermath. But even more hard-pressed will be the growing, propertyless serf class that includes laid-off workers and the roughly 50 to 60 million workers in essential jobs, notes a new report from Richard Florida, and of those, 35 to 40 million require close physical proximity as opposed to those who can retreat to safety behind their computers. Roughly 70% of these workers are in low-wage professions, such as food preparation, and often, despite their increased risk, often lack health insurance from their employers.

Plagues, such as in the 14th century, may have wiped out as much as one third of Europe’s population, and devastated great Renaissance trading cities. In the Middle Ages, the wealthy sought safety in their country estates, much like the affluent now fleeing major European and American cities. Diets and survival rates varied enormously between the upper and lower classes. As one 14th-century observer noted, the plague “attacked especially the meaner sort and common people—seldom the magnates.”

But the wreckage also created new opportunities for those left standing. Abandoned tracts of land could be consolidated by rich nobles, or, in some cases, enterprising peasants, who took advantage of sudden opportunities to buy property or use chronic labor shortages to demand higher wages. “In an age where social conditions were considered fixed,” historian Barbara Tuchman has suggested, the new adjustments seemed “revolutionary.”

What might such “revolutionary” changes look like in our post-plague society? In the immediate future the monied classes in America will take a big hit, as their stock portfolios shrink, both acquisitions and new IPOs get sidetracked and the value of their properties drop. But vast opportunities for tremendous profit available to those with the financial wherewithal to absorb the initial shocks and capitalize on the disruption they cause. As in 2016, politicians in both parties have worked hard in the new stimulus to get breaks for their wealthy constituents, whether they are big retail chains, rich California taxpayers, or, in some cases, themselves.

Over time, the crisis is likely to further bolster the global oligarchal class. The wealthiest 1% already own as much as 50% of the world’s assets, and according to a recent British parliamentary study, by 2030, will expand their share to two-thirds of the world’s wealth with the biggest gains overwhelmingly concentrated at the top 0.01%.

In an era defined by “social distancing,” with digital technology replacing the analog world, the tech companies and their financial backers will prove the obvious winners. In a sign of what’s to come, tech stocks have already soared.

The biggest long-term winner of the stay-at-home trend may well be Amazon, which is hiring 100,000 new workers. But other digital industries will profit as well, including food delivery services, streaming entertainment services, telemedicine, biomedicine, cloud computing, and online education. The shift to remote work has created an enormous market for applications, which facilitate video conferencing and digital collaboration like Slack—the fastest growing business application on record—as well as Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams. Other tech firms, such as Facebook, game makers like Activision Blizzard and online retailers like Chewy, suggests Morgan Stanley, also can expect to see their stock prices soar as the pandemic fades and public acceptance of online commerce and at-home entertainment grows with enforced familiarity.

Continue reading at:  https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/kotkin-coronavirus-feudalism

Alcoholics Anonymous vs. Other Approaches: The Evidence Is Now In

I should have put this up sooner.  I’ve been totally vegging out, bingeing on Netflix and learning to bake bread.

AA works.  As of Dec 31 this year I will have been sober for 20 full years.

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/upshot/alcoholics-anonymous-new-evidence.html

An updated review shows it performs better than some other common treatments and is less expensive.

By Austin Frakt and Aaron E. Carroll
March 11, 2020

For a long time, medical researchers were unsure whether Alcoholics Anonymous worked better than other approaches to treating people with alcohol use disorder. In 2006, a review of the evidence concluded we didn’t have enough evidence to judge.

That has changed.

An updated systematic review published Wednesday by the Cochrane Collaboration found that A.A. leads to increased rates and lengths of abstinence compared with other common treatments. On other measures, like drinks per day, it performs as well as approaches provided by individual therapists or doctors who don’t rely on A.A.’s peer connections.

What changed? In short, the latest review incorporates more and better evidence. The research is based on an analysis of 27 studies involving 10,565 participants.

The 2006 Cochrane Collaboration review was based on just eight studies, and ended with a call for more research to assess the program’s efficacy. In the intervening years, researchers answered the call. The newer review also applied standards that weeded out some weaker studies that drove earlier findings.

In the last decade or so, researchers have published a number of very high-quality randomized trials and quasi-experiments. Of the 27 studies in the new review, 21 have randomized designs. Together, these flip the conclusion.

“These results demonstrate A.A.’s effectiveness in helping people not only initiate but sustain abstinence and remission over the long term,” said the review’s lead author, John F. Kelly, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital. “The fact that A.A. is free and so widely available is also good news.

“It’s the closest thing in public health we have to a free lunch.”

Studies generally show that other treatments might result in about 15 percent to 25 percent of people who remain abstinent. With A.A., it’s somewhere between 22 percent and 37 percent (specific findings vary by study). Although A.A. may be better for many people, other approaches can work, too. And, as with any treatment, it doesn’t work perfectly all the time.

Rigorous study of programs like Alcoholics Anonymous is challenging because people self-select into them. Those who do so may be more motivated to abstain from drinking than those who don’t.

Unless a study is carefully designed, its results can be driven by who participates, not by what the program does. Even randomized trials can succumb to bias from self-selection if people assigned to A.A. don’t attend, and if people assigned to the control group do. (It may go without saying, but we’ll say it: It would be unethical to prevent people in a control group from attending Alcoholics Anonymous if they wanted to.)

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/upshot/alcoholics-anonymous-new-evidence.html

Trump tells Doctors Treatment of COVID19 Transgender Patients is Optional

From Planet Transgender:  https://planettransgender.com/trump-treatment-of-covid19-transgender-patients-is-optional/

Added by Kelli Busey
April 25, 2020.

The Trump administration quietly disseminated a memo Thursday, the last step before enacting the announced rule change removing transgender people as a health care protected class. LGBTQ Nation reported that the memo was circulated by the Health and Human Services (HHS) as Coronavirus mortality rates peaked, ravaging at-risk populations.

  • Snopes Fact Check: Will Health and Human Services Allow Doctors to Refuse to Treat LGBTQ Patients?

Politico reported Friday that the Health and Human Services(HHS) department is close to finalizing its long-developing rewrite of Obamacare’s Section 1557 provision, which barred health care discrimination based on sex and gender identity. The administration’s final rule on Thursday was circulated at DOJ, a step toward publicly releasing the regulation in the coming days, said two people with knowledge of the pending rule. The White House on Friday morning also updated a regulatory dashboard to indicate that the rule was under review. Advocates fear that it would allow hospitals and health workers to more easily discriminate against patients based on their gender or sexual orientation.

The Williams Institute published a study this month identifying over half a million Transgender Adults out of a  population of approx 1.4 million in the US as at elevated risk from COVID-19.

According to the CDC, those who are over age 65 and those with underlying medical conditions are most at risk of serious COVID-19 illness.

  • 217,000 transgender people are 65 or older
  • 319,000 transgender people have underlying health issues that contribute to higher mortality rates.
  • 137,600 transgender people are uninsured.
  • 450,400 transgender people haven’t seen a doctor last year because they couldn’t afford it.
  • 667,000 transgender people live below 200% of the poverty line.
  • 294,800 transgender adults live alone without family or any mutual support systems.

In last year’s proposal, the health department also proposed changes that went further than simply rolling back the new Obama protections, moving to eliminate similar nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ patients that were contained in other regulations.

“If the final rule is anything like the proposed rule, HHS is adopting changes that would be harmful in the best of times but that are especially cruel in the midst of a global pandemic that is disproportionately affecting vulnerable communities and exacerbating disparities,” said Katie Keith, a lawyer and Georgetown professor who’s tracked the rule.

Slate: If I Get Sick With COVID-19, Don’t Tell My Doctor I’m Transgender

Ticked Off Vic: The Definition of Insanity

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Saturday Night Passover Seder feat. Dan Levy, Finn Wolfhard, Billy Porter, Idina Menzel & More

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The Staggering, Heartless Cruelty Toward the Elderly

From The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/respect-old/607864/

A global pandemic doesn’t give us cause to treat the aged callously.


March 12, 2020

Crises can elicit compassion, but they can also evoke callousness. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve witnessed communities coming together (even as they have sometimes been physically forced apart), and we’ve seen individuals engaging in simple acts of kindness to remind the sick and quarantined that they are not forgotten. Yet from some quarters, we’ve also seen a degree of cruelty that is truly staggering.

Earlier today, a friend posted on Facebook about an experience he’d just had on the Upper West Side of Manhattan: “I heard a guy who looked to be in his 20s say that it’s not a big deal cause the elderly are gonna die anyway. Then he and his friend laughed … Maybe I’m lucky that I had awesome grandparents and maybe this guy didn’t but what is wrong with people???” Some have tried to dress up their heartlessness as generational retribution. As someone tweeted at me earlier today, “To be perfectly honest, and this is awful, but to the young, watching as the elderly over and over and over choose their own interests ahead of Climate policy kind of feels like they’re wishing us to a death they won’t have to experience. It’s a sad bit of fair play.”

Notice how the all-too-familiar rhetoric of dehumanization works: “The elderly” are bunched together as a faceless mass, all of them considered culprits and thus effectively deserving of the suffering the pandemic will inflict upon them. Lost entirely is the fact that the elderly are individual human beings, each with a distinctive face and voice, each with hopes and dreams, memories and regrets, friendships and marriages, loves lost and loves sustained. But they deserve to die—and as for us, we can just go about our business.

It is bad enough if we remain indifferent to the plight of our elders; it is far worse to dress up our failings as moral indignation.

As a rabbi and theologian watching this ethical train wreck, I find myself thinking about the biblical mandate to “honor your father and mother.” The Hebrew word usually translated as “honor,” kabed, comes from a root meaning “weight.” At the deepest level, then, the biblical command is thus to treat the elderly as weighty. Conversely, the Bible prohibits “cursing” one’s parents. The Hebrew word usually translated as “curse,” tekalel, derives from a root meaning “light.” At bottom, then, the biblical proscription is on treating the elderly lightly, as if they are inconsequential.

Why do I say “the elderly”? In its biblical context, the obligation to honor parents is a command given to grown children (as are the Ten Commandments more broadly—you don’t tell children not to commit adultery nor to covet their neighbors’ fields). When you are an adult, the Bible instructs, you must not abandon the elderly. Giving voice to a pervasive human fear, the Psalmist prays, “Do not cast me off in old age; when my strength fails, do not forsake me!”

What does it say about our society that people think of the elderly so dismissively—and moreover, that they feel no shame about expressing such thoughts publicly? I find myself wondering whether this colossal moral failure is exacerbated by the most troubled parts of our cultural and economic life. When people are measured and valued by their economic productivity, it is easy to treat people whose most economically productive days have passed as, well, worthless.

From a religious perspective, if there is one thing we ought to teach our children, it is that our worth as human beings does not depend on or derive from what we do or accomplish or produce; we are, each of us, infinitely valuable just because we are created in the image of God. We mattered before we were old enough to be economically productive, and we will go on mattering even after we cease to be economically productive.

Varied ethical and religious traditions find their own ways to affirm an elemental truth of human life: The elderly deserve our respect and, when necessary, our protection. The mark of a decent society is that it resists the temptation to spurn the defenseless. It is almost a truism that the moral fabric of a society is best measured by how it treats the vulnerable in its midst—and yet it is a lesson we never seem to tire of forgetting. “You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old,” the Bible says—look out for them and, in the process, become more human yourself.

Shai Held is the president, dean, and chair in Jewish Thought at Hadar, where he also directs the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas.

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Fear in the Time of Pandemic


The whole world Is a very narrow bridge
and the main thing is to have no fear at all
(Rabbi Nachman of Breslov)

 

I must not fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.
(Bene Gesserit Litany against fear from Frank Herbert’s Dune)

Fear leads to panic when staying calm and sheltering in place is important for our survival.

Overcoming fear and panic is important because fear and panic leads to bad choices and a sense of hopelessness.

These are lessons I have learned from a hard life.  Heroes are the ones who go on and do what they have to do even when they are afraid.

I know from experience that there have been events in my life which I would not have survived if I had given into fear and panic.

Be careful who you listen to.  There are those who will use this crisis to push their agendas of hatred and fear of those who are different.  Be careful of your information sources.

Publications such as The New York Times, and other nationally and internationally recognized as reliable sources of information are your best bets for information you can trust.

Music, books, crafting, even cooking of your hastily purchased survival rations can be a way of coping.  Last week we watched Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, a most excellent film that should have swept the Academy Awards.

Everything is on hold.  We can view this as “lost time” that will need to be made up or we can look upon this as a space between an old and destructive way of living, a space where we have the time to contemplate changes we can make to a new and less destructive way of living.

 

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Barbara Harris, First Woman Ordained an Episcopal Bishop, Dies at 89

From The New York Times:    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/us/barbara-harris-dead.html

Her groundbreaking election angered many conservatives. She even received death threats.

By Emily Brennan
March 17, 2020

The Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris, who was the first woman to be ordained a bishop in the Episcopal Church of the United States — indeed, in its parent body, the worldwide Anglican Communion — an election that caused a furor among conservatives, died on Friday in Lincoln, Mass., outside Boston. She was 89.

Her death, at a hospice, was confirmed in a statement by the bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts, the Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates. He did not give a cause.

Ms. Harris served as suffragan, or assistant, bishop of the Massachusetts diocese from 1989 until her retirement in 2002, and in some ways she was an unlikely candidate for the role. She had neither a bachelor’s nor a seminary degree, and she was divorced — a profile that some critics said made her unfit for election, regardless of gender. Others feared that she was too progressive for the church.

An African-American, she went on to challenge the Episcopal hierarchy to open its doors wider to women as well as to black and gay people.

Her election in 1988 caused turmoil both in the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion, an international family of 46 autonomous churches that includes the Church of England.

Some Episcopalians, objecting to her political views and theological stances, declared that they would not recognize her position and campaigned against her.

She even faced death threats. For her consecration as bishop, on Feb. 11, 1989, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, the Boston police offered her a bulletproof vest to wear. Ms. Harris declined.

Years later, in a 2002 interview with the National Visionary Leadership Project, she shrugged off the furor. “Nobody can hate like Christians,” she said.

She often criticized the church as being too dogmatic — as worrying over the particulars of canon law instead of preaching inclusivity, a truer reflection of Christ’s teachings, she believed.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/us/barbara-harris-dead.html

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The Gay Rights Movement Has an Anti-Semitism Problem

Last year I started the process of conversion to Reform Judaism.  My reading had led me to a form of spirituality that embraced ethical practices and beliefs that I considered bedrock lifetime values.  Embracing Judaism and wearing a Magen David pendant have heightened my awareness of antisemitism.

I’m a senior citizen, married to my partner of nearly 20 years.  I was a 1960s folkie and hippie, anti-war activist.  A pioneer trans-activist, part of the Second Wave Feminist Movement and the Lesbian Feminist Movement.

I honestly don’t recognize the movements of today.  People who were major figures are forgotten while others we barely recognized back in the day are lionized because they fit a particular political paradigm.

LGBT is being turned in to an arm of Revolutionary Politics when the first 50 or sixty years were mainly about attaining basic civil rights.  Including being able to teach, hold civil service job and serve in the military.  I went to my first marriage equality rally back in 1970.  Troy Perry was establishing MCC in those days.  I met women studying to become the first female Rabbis.

I feel the movement is being taken away from LGBT people and repurposed by the post-modern left wing version of the Tea Party with all their “anti- settler-colonialist” babble which make less and less sense the more you examine it.

I’m on Anat Hoffman’s Israel Religious Action Center’s mailing list and I am aware of Israel’s flaws. Nonetheless Israel is far freer and is a bar better place for women and LGBT people than any of the Islamic states it shares proximity with.

From The Jewish Journal:  https://jewishjournal.com/culture/lifestyle/first_person/311160/the-gay-rights-movement-has-an-anti-semitism-problem/

By Blake Flayton
Feb 26, 2020

My identity as a Jew and my identity as a gay man are inseparable. Contrary to traditional beliefs regarding religion and sexuality, I believe these two parts of myself enhance each other rather than compromise each other. The LGBTQ Jewish community carries a long history of excellence. We are writers, activists, artists, politicians, academics and teachers. The convergence of identity and the greatness that has been born from this community are special to me. From Rabbi Sandra Lawson to Troye Sivan to Efrat Tilma, queer, Jewish expression seems to be stronger than ever.

Yet, despite this representation, blatant anti-Semitism currently wreaks havoc in the LGBTQ community.

The first time I heard the word “pinkwashing” was when I mentioned to a friend that I was interested in attending the Tel Aviv Pride Parade last summer. My friend supported me but warned me against posting any photos of the parade online, as I would be accused of pinkwashing. I asked her what she meant. “Pinkwashing?” she said. “When Zionists pretend that Israel is the pinnacle of human rights because of how they treat gays? To distract from the way they treat Palestinians?”

This was the first time I heard this term, but it certainly was not the last.

The “anti-pinkwashing” movement is gaining traction in the gay community. My friend was correct in her description: Its mission is to end government-sponsored exploitation of gay constituents so as not to distract from inexcusable corruption or wrongdoing. On paper, the movement seeks to separate nationalism from queer liberation and to honor the voices of queer, oppressed people worldwide. But in reality, the movement tethers the identities of gay Israelis to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and undermines their autonomy simply because they are citizens of the Jewish state. To the devout gay rights activist, any display of Jewish gay pride is now conditional; it must totally and officially distance itself from the Jewish state to be valid.

Consider the controversy surrounding the 2019 D.C. Dyke March. This event was a unique opportunity for the queer women of Washington to display their solidarity with one another, but under one condition: Jewish queer women could not display any “nationalist iconography,” meaning the Star of David, if it resembled an Israeli flag. At a similar event in Chicago, Jewish women carrying rainbow Star of David flags were forced to leave. In New York, Israelis participating in a gay pride parade were surrounded by protesters shouting, “No pride in apartheid!”

Imagine if you were an American marching in a European pride parade and suddenly you were isolated from the crowd and intimidated with chants of “Screw Donald Trump!” simply because of your nationality. That, of course, wouldn’t happen. The queer liberation movement does not hold a queer person responsible for the actions of their government — unless of course, they are Israeli.

To make matters worse, more and more LGBTQ organizations are openly supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) resolutions. How can this movement, which emphasizes the rights and dignity of all people, support BDS, an initiative that constantly discriminates against both Israeli and Diaspora Jews in academic, artistic and political spaces?

Continue reading at:  https://jewishjournal.com/culture/lifestyle/first_person/311160/the-gay-rights-movement-has-an-anti-semitism-problem/

California Takes Revenge on Trump

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/14/opinion/california-revenge-trump.html

People leaving the Golden State are changing the political makeup of the states they move to.

By Timothy Egan
Feb. 14, 2020

President Trump clearly hates the most populous state in the country he governs. While trashing California with his gutter mouth, the president has used his office to physically trash the home to nearly one in eight Americans — seeking to make its air more polluted, its water less clean, its forests more vulnerable to catastrophic fires.

But now the Golden State is poised to strike back. By moving its presidential primary from June to March 3, California will finally exert a political influence commensurate to its size. Almost 500 delegates, a fourth of the number needed to win the Democratic nomination, are at stake.

Perhaps more consequential — or at least overlooked — is what’s happening among the vast diaspora of more than 7.3 million people who have left California since 2007. They appear to be changing the political makeup of the states they’ve moved to, perhaps enough to alter the Electoral College map in favor of Democrats.

With nearly 40 million people, California is still gaining population — barely. But stratospheric home prices and unbearable rental costs have created a reverse “Grapes of Wrath,” forcing those who are not rich to flee to states with much lower costs of living.

The question is: Are they bringing California values — fierce defense of the environment, tolerance of immigrants and a multiracial society, insistence on universal health care — with them? It could be just demographic churn. But if you look at the changing politics of Nevada, Colorado and Arizona, all fast-growing states packed with new arrivals from California, the answer is yes. Texas may not be far behind.

The most endangered species, California Republicans, make the most noise about how awful the state is. They cite the many thousands sleeping on streets, the failure to enforce basic standards of public behavior, and high taxes. San Francisco, the sad city by the bay, has become a “hostage to the homeless,” as one respected state journal put it.

More than half of Californians say they have considered leaving the state, and a large majority of them are conservatives, as one survey found. But the evidence in the states taking in a majority of ex-Californians — among those who actually leave rather than just whine about leaving — tells another story.

In Nevada, to which 500,000 Californians moved between 2008 and 2018, Democrats won the governor’s mansion and a second U.S. Senate seat in 2018. There used to be more Republicans, by registration. But Democrats now have a 70,000-voter advantage, and they prevailed there in the last three presidential races.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/14/opinion/california-revenge-trump.html

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Elizabeth Warren Talks Bloomberg Attacks at Debate | The View

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TruNews: Zionism Is Using the Transgender Rights Movement to Make All of Humanity Androgynous

From Right Wing Watch:  https://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/trunews-zionism-is-using-the-transgender-rights-movement-to-make-all-of-humanity-androgynous/

By Kyle Mantyla
February 14, 2020

End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles is not only a virulent anti-Semite but also a radical conspiracy theorist, and those two obsessions merged on Wednesday night’s edition of his “TruNews” program, which resulted in some pretty wild claims being made.

Featured on the program were Messianic Jews Steve and Jana Ben-Nun of Israeli News Live, who claimed that the transgender rights movement is a Zionist plot to make all of humanity androgynous.

“They want to rule the world,” Jana Ben-Nun said of the Jews. “They want to get Gentile riches, and they want to rule the Gentiles. They don’t consider Gentiles [to be] fully human beings. In fact, as an end game, they have this strange doctrine: the Adam Kadmon doctrine. Adam Kadmon was, originally, according to the Zohar and the Talmud, he was androgynous; Adam, he wasn’t male or female, he was male and female in one body, and this is why you see this transgender agenda today.”

“Is Zionism behind the transgender movement?” Wiles asked.

“Yes,” Ben-Nun replied. “It gets its origin in Zionism, and it gets its origin in the Talmud, Zohar, and Kabbalah. It’s a Kabbalahistic doctrine of Adam Kadmon. They have this doctrine called Tikkun Olam—repairing the world—so how do they want to repair the world? They want to bring it to the original. Who was original? Adam. He was androgynous. So now they’re putting specific things in food, in drink, and basically their end game is to make humans on Earth that will survive—whatever it is they are bringing—androgynous.”

“What they are really trying to do is undo God’s creation,” Wiles said. “They are at odds with the Creator.”

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The First Time I Said, ‘I’m Trans’

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/22/opinion/twenty-years-trans.html

Looking back on two decades in which things got better and much worse.

By Jennifer Finney Boylan
Jan. 22, 2020

Twenty years ago this month I stood on the banks of Great Pond, in Rome, Maine, holding my children in my arms. It was New Year’s Eve. Over the frozen lake, fireworks burst, welcoming the new millennium.

Something inside of me struggled to be known.

The next morning we climbed French’s Mountain, in Belgrade. We do that every year, on New Year’s Day. We ate clementines.

At the summit I looked down over Long Pond. What would happen, I wondered, if I finally spoke the words aloud, after all these years? Was this the moment I would lose my children, my job, my marriage?

On Jan. 6, 2000, I did it. I’m transgender, I said.

So much has changed since then. In some ways, this country has become safer, as more and more of us step forward to proclaim our realness.

In other ways, we’re more threatened than ever.

When I came out, no one had yet been schooled on the finer points of hating me; most bigots in this country didn’t know a trans woman from the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Because my existence was so far off their radar, few people had bothered to come up with laws to make my life worse. No one lost much sleep over trans folks serving their country. Caitlyn Jenner and Chaz Bono and Janet Mock were not publicly out; Laverne Cox was 13 years from her epic role in “Orange Is the New Black.”

There had been plenty of public fighters for trans people before me — including the iconic Sylvia Rivera, as well my friend Kate Bornstein. But still, there were times when trans advocacy was a lonely place to be.

It is not lonely now. The country abounds with trans people, and not only people like me. There are drag queens and nonbinary people and genderqueer folks and so many others. It is awesome to think of how far we have come.

But it’s also scary. Because now that we’re on the radar, conservatives (and others) have developed a new language with which to demonize us.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/22/opinion/twenty-years-trans.html

Medicare for All: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

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Becoming a Man

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/21/magazine/becoming-a-man.html

What I learned about masculinity from my father, my father-in-law and my own transition.

By P. Carl
Jan. 21, 2020

It’s April 2018, and my wife of 20 years, Lynette, and I are on our way to my parents’ house. This is our first cross-­country drive since my transition. We drive Interstate 90 from Boston through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, then finally to my childhood home, Elkhart, Ind. One highway, 880 miles. Though I’m 51, I’m outfitted as if I’m in my mid-20s, the decade of my life I most mourn missing as a man: I’m bearded, wearing overpriced sweats, exclusive sneakers that you have to compete to buy before they sell out and, as always, a Chicago Cubs baseball hat. My integration into the straight white America of middle-­aged, middle-­class couples who road trip across the United States is seamless.

Every time we stop, some white man starts a conversation with me. Lynette is in disbelief. “You’re such a guy’s guy,” she says. “I just don’t get it.” It’s true. I fit right in with all the white dudes along this Interstate. The guys who really love to chat it up with me are usually about my age, maybe a few years older, but they think I’m a younger man and talk to me in some version of “fatherly bro.”

We stop for the night at the Hampton Inn near Ashtabula, Ohio, and we meet John Bolton and his wife — it’s not really John Bolton, the former national security adviser to President Trump, but he looks just like a slightly younger version of him: bushy white hair and what they call a walrus mustache. Mr. Bolton’s relaxed-­fit jeans, golf shirt and white Reeboks (sneakers that are back in fashion, though I doubt he knows this) make him indistinguishable from all the other 50-­something white men we have seen pulling off the Interstate. He sees me get out of the car with a bottle of small-batch bourbon. He and his wife are pulling pillows and sleeping bags from their Hyundai, as if they are on a camping trip. They have done this drive before.

“Hey,” he says, smiling. “Don’t be partying it up too loud tonight. We have to pull out of here early tomorrow. You a Cubs fan?”

“Yeah,” I reply, “since birth. Grew up in Indiana, and we don’t have our own baseball team.”

“No kidding. We’re from Noblesville, about 45 minutes out of Indy. You know it?”

“You bet I do. They had a pretty good basketball team when I was in high school. I’m from Elkhart.”

The conversation continues the next morning at breakfast. We’re all heading out early. Lynette and I learn that Mr. Bolton and his wife have been on four cruises, all to the Caribbean. “Cruises are the only way to vacation,” he tells us. “You have to try one.” The local Fox affiliate is blaring in the room with the free breakfast buffet, airing the story of two black men who were arrested after sitting at a Starbucks for a few minutes without ordering while they waited for another man. There are two other white couples eating waffles and boxed eggs, and we all look at the screen. Then everyone around us quickly looks away.

Mrs. Bolton starts to choke on her bagel. Mr. Bolton stands behind her and says, “You need me to hit you in the back?” He looks at me. “I like to have an excuse to hit her.” He thinks he’s funny. I see Lynette grimace. How many times have I heard my father make these “jokes” about my mom? When she needed some dental work done in her early 70s, he told her, “You don’t need teeth in the grave,” and refused to pay for it. He couldn’t wait to tell Lynette and me this joke during one of our visits, repeating it 50 times to emphasize his clever humor. Lynette and I left my mom a check for $1,200 on our way out the door.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/21/magazine/becoming-a-man.html

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Catholic Bishops Urge Parents To Reject Transgender Children.

Reform Judaism is welcoming.

From Occupy The Vatican:  https://occupythevatican.com/2020/02/04/catholic-bishops-urge-parents-to-reject-transgender-children/
February 4, 2020

by Hemley Gonzalez
February 4, 2020

An open letter by The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is urging parents to reject transgender children. What did the letter say? “We acknowledge and affirm that all human beings are created by God and thereby have an inherent dignity. We also believe that God created each person male or female; therefore, sexual difference is not an accident or a flaw—it is a gift from God that helps draw us closer to each other and to God. What God has created is good.”

The letter continues, “Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can “change” their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults. Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of “first, do no harm.” Gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt. The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it. . . The movement today to enforce the false idea—that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa—is deeply troubling. It compels people to either go against reason—that is, to agree with something that is not true—or face ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation. . .{[w]e call for policies that uphold the truth of a person’s sexual identity as male or female, and the privacy and safety of all. . . “

The letter was co-signed by various United States-based religious leaders, including members of the Lutheran Church, the Islamic Society, the Southern Baptist Church, the Anglican Church, and the Orthodox Greek Church. The sentiments of the letter echo what Pope Francis said back in 2016, calling the increasing acceptance of transgender people “terrible.” Studies have found that Trans children who are rejected by their families are more likely to abuse substances and attempt suicide. On the other hand, transgender kids who are accepted by their families often have better mental health.

Source: http://bit.ly/39apsLo

See Also: Catholic Bishops Tell Parents to Stop Children Transitioning

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Houston-based Transgender Minor Sues NY State Over Birth Certificate Corrections

From Houston Style Magazine:  http://stylemagazine.com/news/2020/jan/07/houston-based-transgender-minor-sues-ny-state-over/

Style Magazine Newswire
1/7/2020

Today Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit challenging New York State’s policy categorically prohibiting transgender minors from correcting the sex designation on their birth certificates – a critically important document for transgender people seeking to navigate through life with accurate government documents.

The minor challenging the policy – identified anonymously by his initials M.H.W. – is a 14-year-old transgender boy born in Ithaca, New York, currently residing in Houston, Texas.

“I am a boy. It’s frustrating to see New York State deny me the opportunity to correct my birth certificate, which I need for so many important facets of my life. My birth certificate incorrectly says I’m female, but that’s not who I am and I need the state to correct that error and respect my identity,” said M.H.W., who identifies as a boy and uses he/him pronouns. “I’m a teenager in high school living in Texas. Having an inaccurate birth certificate can cause the disclosure of my transgender status when I enroll in college classes or when I get my driver’s license, and expose me to possible harm.”

“As parents, we only want what is best for our son. Our son is a boy, but New York State refuses to recognize him as such.” said M.H.W’s mother, Jennifer Wingard. “We have been able to update our son’s other identity documents, such as his passport and social security records. So we were shocked when the only remaining roadblock came from New York State.”

In 2014, New York began permitting people 18 years of age or older to correct the sex designation on their birth certificates without the need for surgery, but the State categorically prohibits minors from correcting the sex designation on their birth certificates.

“We are afraid that as a result of New York’s policy our son will be exposed to extra scrutiny, humiliation or harassment whenever he has to present his inaccurate and inconsistent birth certificate, such as when he applies for his driver’s license. No person should be forced to identify in a manner inconsistent with who they are,” said M.H.W’s father, Michael Sicinski.

Continue reading at:  http://stylemagazine.com/news/2020/jan/07/houston-based-transgender-minor-sues-ny-state-over/

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