Nel's New Day

May 14, 2017

DDT: Religion, Mother’s Day

Evangelicals may not be as supportive of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) as in the past, but the far right Christian nationalists (aka white supremacists) are still clinging to him. Their heritage is creating an extensive private school system after Brown v. Board of Education (1954) ordered desegregation. Because of that, Jerry Falwell, Sr. developed his fame in founding and defending the “segregation academies.” When the federal government blocked tax-exempt status for private segregated schools in 1971, religious schools burgeoned throughout the South with the sole goal of preventing racial mixing. At the same time, the evangelicals fought to keep sex discrimination by opposing the ERA and then developed a strong political stance against legal abortion, sex education, and contraceptive access. Collaboration of corporations, that wanted a government that gave them money, and religion, that oppose civil and voting rights, made a strong voting bloc. The evangelicals ignored DDT’s sexual assaults and multiple divorces as long he used virulent racist rhetoric.

Another evangelical argument in support of DDT is their belief in the rapture. DDT believes in chaos, and evangelicals think that he is God’s weapon to bring the righteous closer to the event that will destroy the world and raise the believers to Heaven. They began to worship DDT when he pushed the conspiracy theory that President Obama was born in a foreign country and that he is secretly a Muslim. An international capitalist with investments in over 20 countries, DDT became a symbol for anti-globalism to conspiracy theorists. As a result, DDT is in the center of racist, anti-woman conspiracy theorists. He alone can make the United States into an all-white nation. Their solution is to burn down the country, and DDT is willing to carry out their plans.

As Valerie Tarico  points out, DDT supporters view him as a kind of god, with great similarity to the one in the Old Testament. He incessantly tries to prove his power to people, even rigging his microphone so that his voice sounds powerful. As an insatiable attention seeker, he displays the same characteristics that the bible demands that people grovel before him and prove their loyalty, just like DDT demanded of former FBI Director James Comey before he fired him. Like the Old Testament god, DDT is cruel and sadistic as well as racist and prejudiced. They both reject the handicapped and demean women. Revenge is also a strong characteristic of both DDT and the evangelical god, and the bible is as contradictory as DDT. Science in the bible is garbage, but both of them promise riches for following them. Biologist Richard Dawkins summed up Jehovah in a sentence: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Yup, that’s DDT. Except for the fiction.

Evangelicals have used the bible to justify DDT’s actions such as extreme vetting. A panel at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) conference was titled: “If Heaven Has a Gate, a Wall, and Extreme Vetting, Why Can’t America?” In The Guardian, Arwa Mahdawi provided other suggestions for following the bible:

  • Marry your rib: Conservatives used the myth of Adam marrying Eve, made from Adam’s rib, to prevent marriage equality so they could take the story to its logical conclusion.
  • Pay taxes with magic fish: Peter did it after Jesus told him to catch a fish that would have money for taxes in its mouth. 
  • Offer up virgin daughters to be raped as in Sodom: Enough said.

Today Mother’s Day is celebrated in 40 countries around the world. Most people see the day as just another commercial enterprise and don’t realize that it began in the 1850s when a women formed clubs to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination. During the Civil War commemorated the day to mourn their fallen soldiers. They also tended wounded soldiers and worked for peace. In 1870, Julia Ward Howe, composer of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” issued a widely read “Mother’s Day Proclamation” calling for women to take an active political role in promoting peace.  [More history here.]

Before speaking at great length about football during his graduation address at the evangelical Liberty University, founded by Jerry Falwell and now operated by his son, DDT spoke briefly about today’s celebration:

“And especially this weekend, let’s make sure we give a really extra special thanks to the moms. But in all of this excitement don’t forget that tomorrow is Mother’s Day, right? I had a great mother, she’s looking down, now but I had a great mother. I always loved Mother’s Day.”

The man of family values, representing the party of family values, didn’t see his wife, the mother of his son, or his son on Mother’s Day. DDT was busy golfing with his buddies at the Trump National Golf Course in Virginia, four states away from his wife and son, on his 21st golf excursion in 112 days since he was inaugurated. He did tweet:

 

“Wishing @FLOTUS Melania and all of the great mothers out there a wonderful day ahead with family and friends!”

He picked “friends” over family.

Melania Trump tweeted this photo of her and Barron, her son with DDT, with the message: Happy Mother’s Day!

May 7, 2016

Help Moms on Mother’s Day

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. On this one day a year, mothers are given corsages, given breakfast in bed, and taken out to dinner and then ignored on the other 364 days.  If you really care about mothers, here are some ways to help them:

Access to quality, affordable childcare: From 2000 to 2012, child care costs for a typical middle class family grew by 30 percent, and child care costs more than media rent in all 50 states. In 31 states and DC, child care costs more than college. The High Quality Child Care Tax Credit would help low-income and middle class families afford quality child care.

Equal pay for equal work: Mothers are the primary, sole, or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of families but earn less than men. Latinas and black women suffer the sharpest pay disparities. Congressional conservatives continue to fight action to uncover discriminatory pay practices, create greater pay transparency, and ensure that the law works fairly for everyone. Tell them to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Paid sick days: Almost 40 million U.S. employees, or about 40 percent of the nation’s private-sector workforce, lack access to paid sick days. Low-income workers, the ones least likely to have paid sick days, suffer the greatest when forced to take unpaid time off to recover from an illness or care for a sick family member.

Paid family leave: Almost all U.S. workers are forced to choose between staying on the job or dealing with serious personal or family illness. This nation is the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee workers any paid time off, and only 12 percent of private sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employers.

Women’s access to affordable health care and contraception: About 61 percent of abortions are obtained by women who are already mothers, frequently because of the constantly worsening economy in the United States. Many other women have little access to any quality health care, largely because Republican states have refused to accept government funding for Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Texas’ banning all except nine women’s clinics for its 5,400,000+ women of reproductive age, more restrictive measures limiting reproductive care for more millions of women will be passed through the U.S. Comprehensive health care must include supports to help women plan when to start, and grow, their families.

Helping mothers—and that means helping all women—would greatly improve the economy.

On another note, don’t give guns to moms on Mother’s Day. Some men think that giving the women in their lives firearms will make them safer, but many of those misguided men then use the same guns to shoot and kill women in their lives. More than 1,600 women were killed by men in 2013, most of them by guns. The vast majority–94 percent–of female murder victims are killed by someone they knew and with a handgun. The laxer the gun laws in a state, the higher the rate of women shot and killed by men. http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/10/22/south-carolina-gun-rights-domestic-violence.html    In South Carolina, ranked as the deadliest in the U.S. for women killed (mostly with guns) by men, state lawmaker and victim advocate Gilda Cobb-Hunter has found it easier to get court-ordered protections for family pets than to take guns away from domestic abusers. Keep mothers alive by legislating strict laws against domestic abusers owning guns.

Protect small children from killing themselves, siblings, or adults—including their mothers—with guns. Toddlers shot at least 23 people in the United States during the first four months of 2016 by toddlers. There may be more, but conservatives have blocked the government from making an accurate count of deaths by firearms—probably lawmakers don’t want to know the exact number. That number is up over 25 percent from last year’s “head count” of toddler-caused gun shootings during the same time period last year. In 18 cases, children accidentally shot themselves, and half of them died. Four of these deaths were within one week.

Map-of-Toddler-Shootings

The map above shows the states where these deaths have occurred. More shootings by toddlers have happened in Georgia since 2015 than the other states with Texas and Missouri tying for second place. Florida and Michigan are fourth. Population doesn’t appear to be a factor because California and New York, the second and third highest population states in the country, had three shootings between them. Illinois hasn’t seen one since 2015. A comment on the Washington Post article about toddler shooting: it’s only 23 kids.

cell phone gunThe number of shootings by toddlers may grow in the future because gun makers are making deadly weapons look like innocent toys. Gun manufacturers are designing brightly-colored guns, Glock pistols, that look like the Nintendo Zapper used to blast virtual ducks and targets. Beyond that is the new gun that looks like a cellphone—same size and shape. This one is a .380 derringer that holds two bullets.

The NRA insists that its Eddie Eagle program, educating children about guns, makes children so safe that the nation doesn’t need gun safety laws to protect children. Other parents are so satisfied with their parenting skills that their children would never be unsafe around firearms. The Charlotte (NC) Fox46 tested these theories by leaving unsupervised children ages 6-8 alone in a playroom with toys, games, and a realistic-looking BB gun. Before Mecklenburg County Sheriff Irwin Carmichael left the room he said, “So if you find a gun do you touch it? No. No, what should you do? Tell and adult…go tell an adult.”

Some of the seven parents were positive that their children would leave the gun alone; others said that they’d never talked to the children about gun safety. Within 60 seconds, a toddler discovered the gun, and a few minutes later half the children were firing the gun at each other. The video of this experiment is available here.

For mothers on Mother’s Day, follow strict rules about gun safety. One of the mothers was shot by a gun that her boyfriend left under a seat in the car. Make sure the car is gun-free before driving a child in it. Another mother was shot last year when her toddler got a gun out of a purse while they were shopping. (Unless you think that 23 shootings by toddlers in four months isn’t important.)

Brennan WeikelIn mid-April, Brennan Weikel’s stepfather took him out in the middle of the night for a hog-hunting trip just five days after the 17-year-old had finished his school gun safety course giving him the legal right to hunt. Weikel won’t be fulfilling his dream of playing football in college after accidentally shooting himself in the head with his rifle. The killing will be classified as “accidental,” but one Texas mother (below) won’t be celebrating Mother’s Day with her high school son.

Brennan Weikel's mother

Near this killing, other mothers no longer have their sons because of the fatal shootings of a nine-year-old by his grandfather last year and the shooting of a teenager by his best friend in 2013 who received five years probation after pleading guilty to criminally negligent homicide.

Sometimes parents shoot their toddlers. A two-year-old is lucky to be alive after he “startled” his mother in St. Louis. In Philadelphia, a four-year-old girl isn’t as fortunate, after her father was playing with his gun and “accidentally” shot the girl in the head. She died at their home. The father later confessed after first hitting another of his children, a five-year-old, in the face with his closed fist and wiped blood onto her shirt to make it appear that she had killed her sister.

Many state laws allow guns in bars, airports, daycare centers, churches, classrooms—everywhere except where the legislators are making these laws. One group opposing the laxity of gun ownership is law enforcement. Local police are objecting to these measures in over a dozen states where they had previously not complained. Their position is that the new laws put officers in greater danger and keep them from effective doing their jobs.

A big problem is that in some states, including West Virginia and Idaho, people can carry concealed handguns without permits or training—or even a background check. Texans can open carry handguns, and Oklahoma is considering the same permission. Police departments are now asking for people with violent histories be blocked from buying guns because they are more likely to have problems with the police. Law enforcement also says that new exceptions to gun regulations impede investigations by taking away the option of probable cause to conduct searches after the discovery of an unpermitted firearm.

Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal may have started to recognize the problem of unfettered gun carrying: he vetoed legislation that would have allowed college students to carry concealed guns onto campuses because it won’t “increase safety of students on college campuses,” according to Deal. The law would have permitted loaded guns anywhere on college campuses—fraternities, dormitories, etc. http://www.vox.com/2016/4/29/11530874/georgia-campus-carry-guns   Texas does have this law despite evidence that the law puts people at harm. More mothers without that corsage in the future.

May 11, 2013

Take Action for Mother’s Day

As I write my blog almost daily, I wonder how I can improve the dire situation that the people of the United States suffer. I sign tons of petitions, donate to causes, write occasional letters to the newspaper, talk politics with people, attend meetings, and, in the past, marched in protests in our small town.

Over a year ago, I cheered on the fighters in Wisconsin who tried to protect their unions and mourned their losses, especially the return of Gov. Scott Walker to his post despite his illegal actions. After that, conservatives popped up everywhere like superbugs that spread throughout hospitals, sickening everyone who objects to the GOP’s goal of eradicating the middle class.

Occupy Wall Street—and many other places—gave some hope, but people can live in a park only so long. Across the country now, however, people are acting in opposition to legislation and corporations to create move toward a better world.

Students in NYC occupying Cooper Union are demanding that their education remain free. And spare me the conservative attitude that students should pay a fortune for their education. If we want a skilled workforce, we need to educate them like countries around the world including Europe and the Middle East do.  Students in Philadelphia walked out in protest of budget cuts that are cheapening their education. Chicago students and teachers are protesting against the closing of schools that define their communities.

A massive student-led movement over 400 campuses is pressuring university administrations to divest their school endowments from the fossil fuel industry, with growing success at the Rhode Island School of Design. In Madison (WI) students occupied their chancellor’s office demanding the school cut their contract with a food vendor known for willfully abusing its employees.

Fast food workers have been on strike in St. Louis, demanding their employers treat them like human beings and pay them a living wage.

This weekend, activists in Baltimore are celebrating the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign by marching the 150 miles to Washington to protest the cruel, intertwined systems of mass incarceration, police brutality, and private prisons.

On May 25, people in over 30 countries will participate in the March against Monsanto, showing their opposition to the corporation that has poisoned food supplies, bribed politicians to keep quiet about their crimes, and caused an epidemic of poverty and suicide among thousands of farmers around the world.

In North Carolina, doctors, preachers, lawyers, raging grannies, students, and others are willing to be arrested as they protest the GOP control of the entire state government that has attacked voters’ rights, health care policies, welfare management, and public education. Their weekly gatherings at the state legislature for “Moral Mondays” has resulted in 50 arrests, but they’re not stopping.

Dr. Charles Dr. van der Horst, 61, was arrested during his protest against the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid with federal funding, limiting health care access for almost one-half million people. He also opposes legislation which requires photo ID to vote and decreases the number of days in voting.  Van der Horst also fights legislation from people who claim to be “pro-life” who then cut early childhood education programs and access to Medicare.

Rev. William Barber, head of the state chapter of the NAACP, said that this fight will move to the courts and raise money for candidates and awareness about the legislators’ actions. He said they had already talked to legislators and the governor who ignored them. Barber was also part of the protests in Wake County (NC), arrested for refusing to leave school property, when he acted with dissenters against the GOP-controlled return to school segregation.

North Carolina’s latest outrageous bill is to mandate fiction to be taught to seventh graders as fact. The past week, the state Senate Health Committee passed a bill requiring all these students be taught that abortion is one of significant risk factors causing a woman to have pre-mature deliveries later in life. An impressive set of health organizations agree that this is not true.

Another protest movement garnering success is boycotting Rush Limbaugh’s advertisers. Within the year starting with Limbaugh’s statements about Sandra Fluke being a “slut,” the vast majority of Cumulus radio network advertisers have left Limbaugh, and the company has lost $5.5 million. Forty-eight out of 50 major network advertisers have excluded not only Sean Hannity but also Limbaugh.

The courts may also take care of his hate speech. According to Dick Armey, former chair of Freedomworks, that organization and Heritage Foundation have been paying Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to promote their right-wing agendas. Yes, it’s free speech, but FCC rules mandate that the recipients of the money make this public:

“Any broadcast station employee who has accepted or agreed to accept payment for the airing of program material, and the person making or promising to make the payment, must disclose this information to the station prior to the airing of the program.”

The boycott continues. Here is a petition that you can sign.

You can also help stop the Koch brothers from buying the Tribune newspaper group. After extensive lobbying and messaging in the media, the Koch brothers have decided to go directly to the newspapers to publish their message of taking over all the country’s net wealth and eradicating the middle class. The Tribune papers include eight major publications in the United States: the Los Angeles Times, the Allentown Daily Call, the Chicago Tribune, the Orlando Sentinel, the Baltimore Sun, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Hartford Courant, the Daily Press of Hampton Roads, Virginia, and Hoy, the nation’s second-largest Spanish-language paper.

The Koch brothers bankrolled Scott Walker’s anti-union movement in Wisconsin and went on to take aim at public unions, lobbying, and pensions across the country, spending $4 million in California alone to restrict unions’ political activity. Two major Tribune stakeholders are the investment management firms managing billions of dollars in public pension funds. If Koch buys the Tribune group, public employees will be forced to support their anti-union attacks.

So eager to purchase themselves several of the nation’s major newspapers, the Koch brothers are allegedly prepared to submit a bid of $1 billion over the current value of $600 million to $700 million. Conservatives are already mentally watching the evacuation of journalists: Chicago Tribune’s Cal Thomas is waxing ecstatic over the day when his office is rid of the “liberal quitters” and full of “unbiased” people like him. Thomas wrote that the Koch brothers could provide “ideologically balanced coverage”—sort of like Fox News.

Public sector employees have some control over the purchase. They can require their investment managers to choose between them or the Koch brothers. You can help keep the eight newspapers more independent from right-wing ideology by signing this petition or searching the Internet for others.

Fortunately, people in the Congress like Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) continue to fight against corporations. We need to support them. And we can do this by celebrating Mother’s Day tomorrow, not with the commercial, corporation-driven belief that it’s a day for eating out and flowers but with its original meaning.

After the Civil War, Julia Ward Howe, author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” issued a proclamation asking women to form peaceful resolutions to international conflicts and avoid war. Most casualties of wars, whether the current ones in the Middle East and the ones imposed by conservatives and corporations, are women and children.

In her proclamation, Howe wrote, “We will not have urgent questions decided by irrelevant agencies.” We need to stop “irrelevant agencies” from undermining our quality of life.

May 13, 2012

Happy Mother’s Day to All Unmarried Parents

This column is dedicated to my partner of almost 43 years who was as much, if not more than, a mother to my biological son and to all the unsung parents, LGBT and heterosexual, who lack recognition for their parenting by the federal government.

Today is Mother’s Day. After almost a century and a half of its celebration in the country, the day has become the second most expensive one, following only the Christmas/Hanukah holidays in midwinter. Few now know that Julia Ward Howe proclaimed the first United States Mother’s day as an international day to celebrate peace and motherhood, calling on mothers to protest the futility of war. Now the day, which grosses retailers above $16 billion, mostly means flowers and brunches and maybe breakfast in bed for the woman who works hard the rest of the year.

Because of federal law, many parents cannot be considered as mothers and fathers because they are not married. According to estimates, between 2 million and 2.8 million children under the age of 18 in this country are being reared by lesbian and gay couples. Twenty-four percent of female same-sex couples and 11 percent of male same-sex couples are raising children, and 38 percent of transgenders in this country identify as parents. Millions of heterosexual couples with children are not married. The percentage of children born to unmarried parents who live together, both same-sex and different-sex, jumped 83 percent since 2002.

The lack of federal marriage equality means that same-sex couples cannot be married even if they want to make this choice. After President Obama’s statement last week that he approved of marriage equality, the Respect for Marriage Act, which would nullify the Defense of Marriage Act banning marriage, may get some impetus but will take a long time to pass with the current political climate.

Until 1996,  the United States recognized legal marriages conducted in any state. After Hawaii considered marriage equality in 1996, the U.S. Congress passed DOMA, which forbids the United States from recognizing same-sex marriage. The Respect for Marriage Act was first introduced in the House of Representatives almost three years ago and then debated in the Senate Judiciary Committee last fall.

At that time Huffington Post published this letter by Alan Shayne, co-author of Double Life with his partner of more than 50 years, Norman Sunshine:

I’ve been with my friend, partner, lover, comrade, spouse (I don’t like the word “husband,” because it seems to imply that I’m his wife, and that is hardly our story) for over 50 years. We’re told that only 50 percent of all marriages last that long, so we’re among the lucky ones. We were married in 2008, when Massachusetts made it a legal option — and our home state of Connecticut now recognizes it. If the federal government recognized same-sex marriage, when one of us died, the other would get health benefits, his partner’s social security and a big break on inheritance taxes. But we undoubtedly won’t be alive when the country finally endorses same-sex marriage, even though everyone seems to think that that is an eventuality. At the moment our recognition as a married couple in our state has benefitted us only in reducing our AAA dues.

None of us, except the people who’ve caused the situation, can be unaware of the confusion and misery that young people are going through today. Not only is the economy rotten, but the moral standard of our once-great country seems to be on the skids. How can any of our young people be expected to believe in meaningful, productive, loving lifetime relationships when 50 percent of all first marriages end up in divorce? Add to this the fact that gay couples are treated as lesser citizens, and they might be tempted to ask, why not whoop it up and never grow old? As long as we are not allowed to marry, we will not be equal to the rest of our compatriots and will be regarded as less than they, or, in some cases, as freaks. This is the reason for bullying and teenage suicide — we are being looked down on with the endorsement of the federal government.

It is bad enough that same-sex couples who have been together for years have no tax advantages, still may have to show powers of attorney to accompany their partners into hospitals, cannot keep their lovers from being deported if they are undocumented and won’t inherit without losing half of the money they may have saved together. But the moral issue is worse. Until same-sex couples can be married legally, they will never be given the equal respect and treatment that our country promised its people and which our founding fathers hammered into the Constitution. We have to remember that we should all be given the same advantages and rights regardless of race, religion or sexual preference. It’s just one of the building blocks that will show the world that we’re a great, just, free, democracy where all people have an equal share in government.

There’s one other very serious aspect to defeating DOMA. As it stands, setting homosexuals apart encourages homophobia and all the people who would like to get rid of gays, whom they consider sick or degenerate, or, worse, a danger to their communities. If people are equal, it’s more difficult to turn some of them into scapegoats. Everything should be done to stop the uneducated hate in our country. Think for a moment what would happen if everything created by homosexuals in the history of the world were removed by the delete button on that great computer in the sky. Do we want to live in such a world? Then for God’s sake, get rid of the Defense of Marriage Act, which is already declared unconstitutional, and let us all be equal and free in “the land of the free.”

Double Life shows the changes that same-sex relationships have changed in the past half century from the belief that homosexuality is a disease to the present time when over 77 percent know someone in the LGBT community, a percentage that is almost double that of 20 years ago.

Shayne and Sunshine’s autobiography describe how Shayne first tried to “cure” himself through analysis and then stayed closeted from public knowledge during his career which culminated in becoming the president of Warner Brothers Television.

Starting his career as a freelance illustrator in New York, Sunshine evolved into a painter, media consultant, and Emmy Award winner. Their reflections of working to maintain a relationship through the changes of bigotry since 1958 is poignant yet entertaining.

Over 40 years ago, a friend said she wondered what old LGBT people look like. Double Life gives that view. Although Shayne and Sunshine didn’t have children, they are a family—like millions of the rest of us.

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