Nel's New Day

March 7, 2019

House Democrats: Get Back to Work

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

A claim about Fox network is that it’s the far-right against everyone else. The same is true with the existing rank and file GOP, leaving lots of “everyone else” in the Democratic party, a diverse batch of people known in the past for many internal differences. One of these emerged when Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) said that the strong support for Israel, despite its genocidal behavior, came from the dollars poured into paying politicians. In an initial knee jerk reaction, Democratic leadership talked about a resolution to condemn her. The Republicans were all for the idea, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) demanded that she be taken off the Foreign Policy Committee.

An assumption to silence any debate about Israel was the anti-Semitic accusation of any suggestion that U.S. fails to support equal rights for Palestinians with one-sided support for Israel. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) addressed the narrowness of the proposed resolution when she asked why “no one seeks this level of reprimand when members make statements about Latinx + other communities (during the shutdown, a GOP member yelled “Go back to Puerto Rico!” on the floor).” Later she added, “Where are the resolutions against homophobic statements? For anti-blackness? For xenophobia? For a member saying he’ll ‘send Obama home to Kenya?’” Jeremy Cahill, editor of The Intercept, tweeted:

“If we lived in a sane society, those politicians who promote the Israeli government even as it slaughters Palestinians and cozy up to its lobbyists would be the focus of investigation and condemnation. Instead, they attack the woman, @IlhanMN, who bravely calls it out.”

When some representatives and the public protested a resolution rebuking Omar, it got softened to condemning anti-Semitism and then moved to including a condemnation of anti-Muslim positions. By now the resolution may have disappeared after many House Democrats want to go farther in condemning all religious hatred. In a caucus session, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) said, “Why are we doing this?” After the meeting, she said:

“We’ve individually and collectively already responded to the fact that we oppose all ‘-isms’ that do not treat people in this country fairly and justly. To continue to engage in this discussion is simply an opportunity to give both the media and Republicans distractions from our agenda. We’ve got important work to do.”

Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA) demonstrates how biased some representatives are over the issue when he tweeted that “questioning support for the U.S.-Israeli relationship is unacceptable.” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) advised her Democratic colleagues: “Everyone stop tweeting.” It’s a start. Thanks, ladies!

A sampling of the GOP representatives who stay in Congress but smeared Omar and/or threatened to take action against her:

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA): Accused three Jewish billionaires of trying to “buy” the midterms the day before one of them got a pipe bomb at his New York home. McCarthy refused to apologize for the anti-Semitic tweet but deleted it. McCarthy also funded attack ads in which Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) called his Mexican-Palestinian opponent a “terrorist.”

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (LA): Attended and spoke at a white supremacist convention by a group founded by David Duke, Holocaust-denying former grand wizard of the KKK and described by the Anti-Defamation League as “perhaps America’s most well-known racist and anti-Semite.”

Louie Gohmert (TX): Attacked a Jewish billionaire on the Fox Business channel with this falsehood, “George Soros is supposed to be Jewish but you wouldn’t know it from the damage he inflicted on Israel and the fact that he turned on fellow Jews and helped take the property that they owned.” Host Stuart Varney had to clarify that Gohmert’s views to represent those of Fox—and Fox’s views tend to be fairly far out.

Matt Gaetz (FL): Invited notorious Holocaust denier Chuck Johnson to be his guest at the State of the Union, suggested that the George Soros funded the immigrant caravan to “storm the U.S. border,” and appeared on Alex Jones Infowars when Jones said that “it’s not that Jews are bad, it’s just they are the head of the Jewish mafia in the United States. They run Uber, they run the health care, they’re going to scam you, they’re going to hurt you.” (DDT called Gaeta “one of the finest and most talented people in Congress.”)

Steve King (IA): Re-tweeted a neo-Nazi, sat on a panel with white supremacists, praised both German and Austrian neo-Nazis, and finished by defending white supremacy and many more racist statements. [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pointed out that Republicans didn’t notice King’s offensive remarks for 13 years.]

Paul Gosar (AZ): Claimed that the Charlottesville (VA) rally where marchers chanted “Jews will not replace us” was “created by the left” and funded by Soros, repeating Gohmert’s lie about Soros.

DDT has used Jewish stereotypes since he began his presidential campaign. Most recently he labeled Adam Schiff, the Jewish Democrat from California who leads the House Intelligence Committee, “shifty”—a stereotypical remark for “crafty” Jewish people. DDT’s cozying up to white supremacists has also led to far more hate crimes against Jewish people than in the past. Anti-Semitic crimes rose 37 percent in 2017.

In his push to remove Ilhan from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, DDT cited a letter from organizations that he called “Jewish groups.” The coalition, also called “leading Jewish organizations” by conservative media included those who spread anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, and one has ties to a longtime neo-Nazi. The anti-Muslim groups have ties to DDT’s administration and favor military intervention in the Muslim world, raising questions about why DDT wants Omar removed. One of the hate groups, ACT for America, calls State Secretary Mike Pompeo a “steadfast ally” in its publicity and presented him with its National Security Eagle Award in 2016. Frank Gaffney Jr., founder of another anti-Omar group called the Center for Security Policy, has called for U.S. war in the Middle East since 9/11 and makes Islamophobic and xenophobic comments, including those against Somalian immigrants. Omar is a Somali refugee. The group is now led by Fred Fleitz, former chief of staff to DDT’s national security adviser John Bolton.

Omar made a statement about how her being Muslim automatically leads to accusation of anti-Semitism, a useful method of shutting down debate:

“What I’m fearful of—because Rashida [Tlaib] and I are Muslim—that a lot of our Jewish colleagues, a lot of our constituents, a lot of our allies, go to thinking that everything we say about Israel to be anti-Semitic because we are Muslim. And so to me, it’s something that becomes designed to end the debate because you get in this space of—yes, I know what intolerance looks like and I’m sensitive when someone says, ‘The words you used, Ilhan, are resemblance [sic] of intolerance.’ And I am cautious of that and I feel pained by that.

“But it’s almost as if, every single time we say something regardless of what it is we say that is supposed to be about foreign policy or engagement or advocacy about ending oppression or the freeing of every human life and wanting dignity, we get to be labeled something, and that ends the discussion. Because we end up defending that and nobody ever gets to have the broader debate of what is happening with Palestine. So for me, I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

If the House decides to propose any “anti” resolution about religious and ethnic bigotry should be inclusive, not an attack. In the meantime, Watson Coleman got it right: “Everybody stop tweeting.” And get back to work.

November 15, 2015

From Red Cups to Paris

starbucks_red_holiday_cups_2015What a difference a day makes! Media during the last two days has been consumed by the attacks in Paris, but for several days last week, a religious argument in the nation surrounded the red cups that Starbucks uses for the winter season. For those who missed the brouhaha, Starbucks decided to use only its logo on the cups for the “holiday season” instead of snowflakes and snowmen. An Arizona “pastor” known for hateful videos carried his gun into Starbucks and made a video claiming that their red cups are not Christmas enough and that the coffee chain “hates Jesus.” He also brought his gun into Starbucks when he made the video. His production went viral in a “War on Christmas.”

The main character in the fiasco, self-proclaimed evangelist Joshua Feuerstein, gained fame in the past by protesting an Orlando bakery that wouldn’t fill a fake order for an anti-LGBT cake. Facebook posts lead to death threats for the bakery owners until clients raised cash for the business’s losses and found new customers.  Feuerstein, who receives money from his wealthy parents, raises money on the net for things that he never buys. He also has a website where he charges $50 a month to help people not commit suicide.

The next farcical figure to enter the scene was Bristol Palin, who complained about the “liberal media” making a big deal about Feuerstein’s video. She accused the mainstream media of using “one small group’s opinion about the cups” and “attributing it to all conservative Christians.” The first announcement actually came from Breitbart with this headline:


Conservatives shared the Breitbart article over 40,000 times on Facebook and retweeted it over 1,500 times before the “mainstream” Fox network picked it up.

Unhappy that he wasn’t getting enough attention, Feuerstein came out with another video in which he asserted that the bitter flavor and high prices of Starbucks’ coffee is connected to Planned Parenthood. He called it the “taste of abortion” and maintained that the costs to toward the “murder of innocent babies.” His conclusion:

“Starbucks stands against pretty much everything that Jesus stood for…. Then again, Christians today aren’t worried about pleasing Jesus.”

Feuerstein must have been so busy waving his gun and making his video that he missed the chance to buy Starbucks Christmas Blend Coffee, Starbucks Advent Calendar, Starbucks ‘Merry Christmas’ Gift Card, Starbucks Christmas Tree Ornament, and Starbucks Christmas Blend K-Cup Packs.

dunkin1The next piece of the red cup story came from Dunkin Donuts that released its  “Christmas cup,” much to the delight of “War on Christmas” announcers. The warriors evidently associate “Joy” with “Jesus.”

A real pastor, Jim Rigby at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Austin (TX), had his say about the Starbucks’ red cup.

“The message of Christmas is already lost on much of the church whether or not the season has “Merry Christmas” stamped on it. At this point, the birth of a poor child in the cold darkness is celebrated by lights, glaring music and by the biggest shopping season of the year. Nothing could silence the message of Christmas more than how it is already celebrated.

“Let’s be clear, if the spirit of Christmas is under attack this year, it is by capitalism which has turned the holiday into a commodity like it does everything else; and by selfish Christians who refuse to obey Jesus’ command to be a good neighbor to those who walk different paths.

“As we wander through the mockeries of this holiday season, this Christian is lifting a holiday cup to honor my atheist, Jewish, Muslim, pagan as well as Christian neighbors who share the same hope of “peace on earth and goodwill to all.””

“There is no war on Christmas. Unless someone is personally coming into your home or church and preventing you from worshiping in the way you want to, then you really need to cool your jets and focus on the bigger picture.”

Ellen DeGeneres has solved the problem for people who want to see Christmas everywhere. For the low, low price of $99, which, according to Ellen, is less than a venti frappuccino, you can see Christmas everywhere you look. This pair of glasses has all the snowflakes and other parts of the Bible that Starbucks won’t put on its cup. DeGeneres did say, however:

“Remember: Don’t wear them when you’re driving. If you do, let Jesus take the wheel.”

ellen glasses

Starbucks is actually celebrating the holiday season by helping people.

In Seattle, the coffee chain is partnering with the city’s police department’s Safe Place Program (SPD) by training 2,000 Starbucks’ employees on how to respond to and engage with LGBT victims of violence and report hate crimes to police. Among homeless teens, 40 percent identify as LGBT, usually because their parents reject them on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and 21 to 40 percent of homeless youth are sexually abused, compared to 1 to 3 percent of the general youth population.

Last year, Starbucks offered all their workers two years of free undergraduate college tuition and then extended it to a four-year college degree for everyone working at least 20 hours a week. Now, these educational benefits are extended to the spouse or child of any veteran or active military reservist employed for 20 or more hours a week. Starbucks also pays up to 80 hours per year for service obligations of employees who are active duty or reservists in the U.S. Armed Forces or National Guard. The company is almost halfway to its goal of hiring 10,000 veterans by 2018, and on Veterans Day, the chain gave a free tall Starbucks coffee to all veterans.

The so-called Christians involved in claiming a war against them at Christmas—or any other time—are participating in the culture of victimization to get pity for something that isn’t a problem. The real war on religion happens in places where people are actually persecuted for their religion when they are beaten, imprisoned, or murdered because they are a religious minority and cannot defend themselves. Muslims suffer this in the United States because of profiling—not looking at a person but at a stereotype of the U.S. culture.

In 1625, Francis Bacon said, “There is nothing makes a man suspect much, more than to know little.” This is still true today. Among our “paranoid politics” is the belief that Shariah religious law will take over legal proceedings in the United States. Basically, Shariah is an Islam code of ethics for living morally to achieve salvation used just as Christian or Jews use codes for private contracts.

The bills preventing Shariah law that have been presented to almost three dozen states come from David Yerushalmi, a 59-year-old Hasidic Jew and lawyer, “with a record of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black bigotry,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.  He works with Pamela Geller to demonize the Islamic faith.

The bigotry continues through Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain into today’s presidential campaign when Ben Carson declares that no Muslim should be president and Carly Fiorina ignores a man who called President Obama who called President Obama a “dictator” and a “black Muslim.” In 2012, Ted Cruz described Shariah as “an enormous problem.”

Eight states have actually passed useless measures to prevent Shariah law from being used in U.S. courts, but no states have prevented Christian-Judeo guidelines from being the basis for laws. Supposedly religious law could not supersede U.S. law, but Christians are working hard to change this by basing law on the Bible.

In another religion, the love of guns, many members of the John Birch Society and the NRA believe that the government  is coming to grab their guns that they need to fight off government tyranny. Without those guns, so says the gun religion, any resisters will be put away in secret government-run concentration camps built by FEMA. They even claim that some of these have gas chambers, and railroad boxcars are ready to ship people to camp or mass graves.

To those following the religion, every mass shooting is set up to terrify people into gun control measures that will take all their guns. They fabricate the myth that Hitler imposed gun control to become dictator, but his 1938 German Weapons Act dramatically loosened a gun control regime forced on the country after Versailles—except for Jews who represented less than 1 percent of the population of 67 million. In 2013, Rand Paul said that President Obama was working with the UN that was plotting a U.S. gun confiscation.

And so it goes. It starts with red cups and ends with killing the Muslims.

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