Fun petition: Disbar Jeff Sessions!

[CONTENT NOTE: white supremacy.]

No, of course it won’t accomplish much of anything. Does anyone really believe the good ol’ boys of the Alabama Bar see any problems whatsoever with a white supremacist lying liar who lies as attorney general? Hahaha no I think not. But if this petition gathers just enough signatures to make a little noise, it will piss off the rabid racist asshole currently in charge of the U.S. Department of Injustice! FUN!

celebrationmojis

Conservatives, and particularly conservative men, are notoriously thin-skinned. If the numbers are big enough, maybe it’ll even yield some hot conservative tears – and, well. You all know how much I looooove those! Let’s doooo eeeet!

[via Color of Change]

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is Too Racist to Be a Lawyer #DisbarSessions

Jeff Sessions is a liar, a racist, and a white supremacist. Last week, Sessions testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and one thing is clear — enough is enough. Sessions’ entire political career has been to undo major progress hard fought and won from decades-long work by Black people and communities of color. And he continues to spread so many untruths just to maintain power that keeps him in close proximity to the ugliest and most dangerous White House administration. Sessions does not represent and never will represent any symbol of fairness and justice.

Jeff Sessions holds a prominent law license from the state of Alabama that gives him the power to be Attorney General. He should not be the Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice and he has no place in this country to practice law.It is long overdue to finally shut down his power and access as well as stop the harm that he continues to inflict. And the way we’re going to do it is by getting him disbarred from the Alabama State Bar. Bar associations are responsible for issuing licenses for lawyers to practice but just as importantly ensuring that the integrity of how lawyers use their role is upheld.

The Alabama State Bar should not allow Jeff Sessions to keep a license to practice law. He is dishonest and corrupt. It’s time to disbar him today.

Jeff Sessions has spearheaded Trump’s entire Law and Order agenda. As Attorney General, Sessions has built a false, racist narrative that crime has exponentially increased across the U.S. Right after being sworn in as Attorney General, Sessions said national crime rates were the highest they’d ever been–but it was a lie. According to FBI data, the national rate was decreasing.1 Sessions is following the eerie and distorted words of Trump who said, “In many of our biggest cities, 2016 brought an increase in the number of homicides, rapes, assaults, and shootings.”2 This in and of itself is a violation of the Alabama Bar Code of Ethics — Sessions is actively engaging in dishonesty as a chief law enforcer. This ignites fears and sets up a big platform for ruthless policies that directly impact Black people and many other marginalized groups.

This white supremacist narrative of Black people and immigrants as violent and dangerous has led to extreme changes and further violates another ethics code of being prejudice and bias. Sessions was determined to bring back the war on Black people by restarting the “War on Drugs.” This includes pushing prosecutors to issue the most severe punishment against people who commit drug offenses, giving local police departments more power to arrest and surveil with access to militarized equipment. He’s against any form of police accountability and has eliminated consent decrees. Sessions even went after Sanctuary cities by threatening to withhold federal funding for refusing to comply with harsh immigration laws. And Jeff Sessions reversed the ban on federal private prisons. Sessions said, “the ban on private prisons hurt the prison system’s ability to meet the future needs for housing.”3 This, of course, is all code for locking up more people for profit. This list goes on and on, and it will continue as long as Sessions has the power to keep his license.

Jeff Sessions does not represent the people. His job is to only target and criminalize our people. Alabama State Bar must take away his license now.

We already know who Jeff Sessions is. It is not just lies — but he is unapologetic in wanting to dismantle democracy and destroy the rights of all our communities. Plain and simple he is a White man with a lot of privilege and power he doesn’t deserve. He is incapable of upholding the integrity of his position in the U.S. Department of Justice. Jeff Sessions has abused his power long enough.

Sign the petition.

Until justice is real,

Scott, Rashad, Arisha, Scott, Anay, Clarise, Enchanta, Malaya, Kristen, Katrese, and the rest of the Color Of Change team

References:

1. “The ACLU says Trump’s executive order on crime aims to “stop national trends that don’t exist”,” Quartz, 02-09-2017 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/9697?t=9&akid=8090%2E2505660%2ErziDSw

2. “Sessions calls rise in crime a ‘dangerous permanent trend,’ but FBI data shows rate consistently falling,” Yahoo News, 02-09-2017 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/9698?t=11&akid=8090%2E2505660%2ErziDSw

3. “Justice Department Keeps For-Profit Prisons, Scrapping an Obama Plan,” New York Times, 02-23-2016 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/7973?t=13&akid=8090%2E2505660%2ErziDSw

__________
Color Of Change is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change. Help keep our movement strong.

__________

Sign the petition! Forward it! Blast it on your social media! Share far and wide the joy of imagining Jeff Sessions’ epic CBF* as he reads all about it in his morning paper.

__________
* Cat Butt Face.

BREAKING: I might be terrible.

Readers, I am more than a little disturbed at myself. You see, I have an affinity (<-hi Caine!) for some very dark humor, by which I mean the kind I feel terrible about for finding funny, because it is either rooted in harmful stereotypes, or taboo subjects, or punching down instead of up, that sort of thing. And yet! I still find myself laughing nonetheless.

This laughter, mind you, is inevitably followed by overwhelming feelings of shame, embarrassment and self-admonishment. That is NOT funny, Iris! I will exhort internally. Get a hold of yourself, woman! You should NOT be laughing at this!

Alas, as anyone who has ever commanded themselves to STOP THAT LAUGHING RIGHT NOW! can attest, this exercise is utterly, fatally doomed.

Continue reading

Defense against Carrier SLAPP Suit.

silencedstatue

Richard Carrier is suing the Freethought Blogs network, of which I am a part, as well as other groups and individuals (see below). Please help us cover costs and legal fees if you can, and share this post or the GoFundMe link on social media. Every dollar helps.

Thank you.

Dr. Richard Carrier is suing us for reporting  on his well-known allegations of misconduct. These allegations were widely reported on throughout the community, including by third-parties critical and sympathetic to him who are not themselves defendants.

This lawsuit has all the hallmarks of a SLAPP suit — a lawsuit filed to stifle legitimate criticism and commentary. The named defendants are Skepticon, The Orbit, and Freethought Blogs – as well as individuals Lauren Lane, the lead organizer of Skepticon; Stephanie Zvan, a blogger for The Orbit; PZ Myers, a blogger for Freethought Blogs; and Amy Frank-Skiba, who publicly posted her first-hand allegations against Carrier.

We need your help to keep our voices alive. All the defendants are represented by the same attorney, First Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza. Randazza is providing his services at a significant discount, but we are not asking him to work for free. Plus, there are thousands of dollars in “costs” for the case that don’t include legal bills, and there is no way to discount those. In order to continue fighting this lawsuit, we, the defendants of this case, have put together this campaign to raise money to defray our costs, some of which is outstanding. Donations will be used only for this case. In the event that the funds raised exceed our legal bills, they will be donated to Planned Parenthood .

We are pooling our defense costs with Skepticon, however as a 501(c)3 non-profit Skepticon is also conducting its own fundraiser where donations may be tax-deductible (ask your tax advisor). Skepticon cannot use donations it receives to help pay the shares of other individuals or organizations, though, and any excess funds raised via their campaign will go to the Skepticon conference fund.

We are confident that the court will uphold our First Amendment rights. But, through time, stress, and of course financial expense, every case like this has a chilling effect. Your support enables us to fight, and creates a warmer environment – not just for us but for others in the future.

Thank you for your support of freedom of speech, and may your new year be powerful and effective!

-Amy Frank-Skiba
-Lauren Lane
-PZ Myers
-Stephanie Zvan

Click here to donate.

Jerry Coyne at BHA 2016—Part 2: NOPE.

(Part 1 is here.)

[CONTENT NOTE: While this post contains no graphic descriptions or images of violence, it does contain discussion of: child sexual assault, abuse and death; suicide; hostility to consent, bodily autonomy and agency; homophobia; sex- and gender-based discrimination.]

Just a reminder: in the intro to Part 1, I noted that while atheist Big Willie Dr. Coyne may communicate some very useful and interesting things in this lecture (and elsewhere) that readers here may find worthwhile, he is exasperatingly prone to poo flinging, and I fully respect the decision of anyone who decides to pay him no attention whatsoever on this basis alone. As I said, FWIW I do not allow Coyne’s poo flinging in the remaining portions of the transcript to go unrebutted.

Continue reading

IRIS ♥ BARRETT BROWN.

barrettbrown2

I vaguely knew of Barrett Brown. If you had asked me about him I would have suggested he’s someone tangentially related to Anonymous? Or maybe it was Wikileaks.

I could picture him from clips in documentaries, and I knew he had been prosecuted and imprisoned; for what, though, was never entirely clear to me. It turns out it was never entirely clear to the state either, but regardless, rather than face a Texas jury and a potential sentence of over 100 years [?!] for “crimes” that had journalists from all over the world shrieking in horror, Brown took a plea deal on lesser charges and is currently serving 63 months in prison.

Lucky for me (and now for you), I recently stumbled across some of his writing at The Intercept, and decided to dig a little deeper. Brown is an accomplished journalist, satirist and author; he co-wrote Flock of Dodos: Behind Modern Creationism, Intelligent Design and the Easter Bunny, a book comically skewering anti-evolutionists. He has written for the Daily Beast, Vanity Fair, The Guardian and other publications, and most recently The Intercept.

Also, this might be of particular interest to mah fellow godless heathens:

Brown served as the Director of Communications for Enlighten the Vote, an atheist PAC that provides financial and strategic assistance to political candidates that advocate strict enforcement of the Establishment Clause.

But while none of that was of particular interest to the agents in charge of protecting our Free Country™—with the exception of reviewing for The Guardian some rather revealing leaked emails— this most certainly was:

[Brown] founded Project PM, a research collaboration and wiki, to facilitate analysis of the troves of hacked emails and other leaked information concerning the inner workings of the cyber-military-industrial complex. Project PM aims to operate a wiki in order to provide a centralized, actionable data set regarding the intelligence contracting industry, the public relations industry’s interface with governments, the infosec cybersecurity industry, and other issues constituting what the project’s members regard as threats to human rights, civic transparency, individual privacy, and the health of democratic institutions.

Uh-oh.

As I noted recently, believing that “freedom of speech” is a cherished principle in these United States, or that the rule of law operates here, or that the US is a democracy, or that the permanent power factions in DC  (i.e. the deep state) even value the concept of democracy for anything other than the ease with which they can exploit it, is a mistake. A really big mistake. And in fact, I doubt Barrett Brown believes any of that himself. But I’ve come to believe that he very much values those principles, even if America’s Owners demonstrably do not.

That alone would be a very good reason to read his writing of course, but there are better ones: he is brilliant, fearless and really fucking funny.

Brown’s official statement following his sentencing will give you some idea of his smart-ass wit:

“Good news! — The U.S. government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex. For the next 35 months, I’ll be provided with free food, clothes, and housing as I seek to expose wrongdoing by Bureau of Prisons officials and staff and otherwise report on news and culture in the world’s greatest prison system. I want to thank the Department of Justice for having put so much time and energy into advocating on my behalf; rather than holding a grudge against me for the two years of work I put into in bringing attention to a DOJ-linked campaign to harass and discredit journalists like Glenn Greenwald, the agency instead labored tirelessly to ensure that I received this very prestigious assignment. — Wish me luck!”

And some assignment it has turned out to be. Throughout his incarceration Brown has produced a series of hilarious and eloquent missives documenting the lawless shenanigans, petty tyrannies and farcical buffoonery presently manifest in every facet of our injustice system. He pulls no punches on the judge, prosecutors, FBI investigators, prison guards, wardens, DOJ officials, or indeed any agent of the state involved in his case or imprisonment. Brown doesn’t entirely spare himself, either. He is candid about his neurotic foibles and quixotic obsessions, his history of drug addicion and mental health problems, and the explicitly non-violent though “admittedly ill-conceived” threat he made in a YouTube video to investigate and dox the FBI agent who, in an attempt to coerce Brown into cooperating with the Feds against Anonymous, threatened to indict Brown’s mother for obstruction of justice (and eventually did).

Of another charge related to the video, Brown said:

A separate declaration I made to the effect that I’d defend my family from any illegal armed raids by the government, while silly and bombastic, was not actually illegal under the threats statutes. To judge from similar comments made by Senator Joni Ernst, it would not even have necessarily precluded me from delivering the G.O.P.’s recent response to the State of the Union address.

Hahaha.

But Brown isn’t quite as tough on himself as his critics are—and I don’t mean the DOJ.

Brown is a complex and problematic figure. He is not accepted by traditional journalists who don’t agree with the lines he blurred by participating in digital activism. Nor was he ever fully recognized by some members of Anonymous who resented his attention-grabbing public persona. They called him a “famewhore” more often than not, and Gawker’s Adrian Chen has called him a “a megalomaniacal troll.”

Unlike the Aaron Swartzes of the world, Brown is not a sympathetic character. It is difficult to martyr him. He’s been accused of being egomaniacal, paranoid, and stubborn. He is a recovering heroin addict. He chain-smokes more than the average Russian Bond villain. He’s unapologetic.

But if Brown is convicted, the ramifications for digital journalism and information sharing could be significant. The case raises serious questions about what we can legally share in the digital space, and where the government is willing to draw a line in the sand. Brown’s case could also set a precedent criminalizing actions like linking, which the New York Times, The Guardian, the Washington Post, and any other outlet that links to stolen files would be guilty of as well.

Even Chen, one of Brown’s most outspoken critics has said, “the charges against Brown give me shivers as a journalist.”

Of course it is not necessary to like the guy personally to appreciate his work and the sacrifices he has made on behalf of it, willingly and otherwise. Frankly, the fact that “traditional journalists” renounce someone is nothing short of a resounding endorsement, given what passes for our esteemed Fourth Estate these days. But even his most dedicated haters agree that Brown’s prosecution should be terrifying—and not just to media types either, but to all citizens of the Free World™. And to hear Brown tell it (and you should, you should definitely go hear Brown tell it), we don’t even have the whole picture.

But what should worry Americans most is not that the various frightening aspects of this case can fill a rather wordy article. What should worry them is that this is not even that article. The great bulk of the government’s demonstrable lies, contradictions, and instances of perjury are still sealed and thus unavailable to the public. Other matters are just now coming to light, such as the revelation, two days before my sentencing, that the D.O.J. had withheld from my defense team sealed chat transcripts from the Jeremy Hammond hacking case which contradicted its key claim that I was a co-conspirator in the Stratfor hack. And there are still other aspects of all this, such as the F.B.I.’s seizure of my copy of the Declaration of Independence as evidence of my criminal activity, that I blush to even commit to print, lest I not be believed, even despite the F.B.I. itself having now confirmed it.

One might wonder, as I do, whether Barrett Brown is either exceedingly foolish, or principled and, you know, brave. Truth be told, I have often wondered where that line exists, assuming it even exists at all. Maybe he is a megalomaniacal attention-seeker, and none of us could stand being in the same room with him for ten seconds. But even that would not preclude him from being exactly what he appears to be: an extraordinarily gifted writer and observer whose sole aim is to provide the rest of us with edifying dispatches from the darkest crevices of the sick and dying empire in which we find ourselves. (Lard knows Tom Friedman ain’t gonna do it, people.) Maybe it’s so exceedingly rare any more that we encounter the kind of adversarial journalism necessary to sustain a functioning democracy that Brown’s work stands out like a blinding beacon (if you’re like me and would prefer to know the truth about the state), or a big red bulls eye (if you’re the state and would prefer that no one know these truths). Either way, reading him is such a delicious pleasure that I have collected links to much of his work here, for the infotainment of us all.

The Guardian (Dec. 2010 – Jul. 2013)

Vice (Aug. 2013 – Dec. 2013)

D Magazine (Jan. 2014 – Jun. 2015)

Daily Beast (Jan. 2015: one article, immediately post-sentencing)

The Intercept (Jul. 2015 – present) Incidentally, Brown just won the National Magazine Award for his column in The Intercept. On February 1 when the award was announced, he was being held in solitary confinement, and not for the first time.

__________

For more about Brown’s case and/or to contribute to his legal defense fund, go to freebarrettbrown.org. You can also write to him:

Barrett Brown #45047-177
FCI Three Rivers
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 4200
Three Rivers, TX 78071

If you’d be inclined to send him a book his Amazon wish list is here (though it doesn’t appear to be updated as of this writing). But for fuck’s sake people, whatever you do, do not send him any Jonathan Franzen novels.

IRIS BARRETT BROWN.

The banishment of John, Part 3.

[CONTENT NOTE: xenophobia, bigotry, Islamophobia, eliminationism, misogyny and a whole bunch of other horrible shit.]

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

This is the last installment.

Part 2 left off in the middle of my meticulous dismemberment of John Miller’s final, terrible comment, at which point he had finished addressing commenter khms (who responded to him beautifully here, as did Rotary Wing here). John now turns to address Your Humble Monarch™ directly. But before I finishing dissecting this specimen, please allow me to reiterate some important points to bear in mind.

NOTE 1: There is virtually never any point in deploying reason and evidence to argue with conservatives. They are by definition not terribly rational people, and thus neither reason nor facts are likely to penetrate their reality distortion fields enough to sway them in the direction of understanding or accepting reality—and in fact, a backfire effect may occur. There are, however, at least two reasons to make an exception to this rule. The first is for the infotainment of others, such as lurkers, bystanders, captive dinner guests, fellow bar flies, Loyal Readers™, young and impressionable children, etc. The second exception is for the pleasure to be found in the sharpening of one’s (rhetorical) fangs, whether in preparation for the aforementioned audiences or for the sheer enjoyment of it in its own right. I leave it to Loyal Readers™ to discern under which caveat(s) this particular exercise falls.

NOTE 2: Because I quote from John’s final comment in addition to material from elsewhere, in order to avoid any (highly unlikely) confusion as to who is doing the talking here I have taken the liberty of making all quotes from John’s text the color of shit.

Shall we?

__________

Iris, I would have described the core values of Western culture as democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech, equality for women and girls coupled the right to an education and the right to marry who they choose, freedom from institutionalized paedophilia and genital mutilation, the separation of powers …

It is absolutely adorable that John thinks the US is a democracy, or that the permanent power factions in DC  (i.e. the deep state) value the concept of democracy for anything other than the ease with which they can exploit it.

It is super sweet that John thinks the rule of law operates here.

It is positively precious that John thinks “freedom of speech” is a cherished principle in these United States.

It is particularly priceless that John thinks equality for women and girls is now,
or has ever been, a defining feature of Western society.

It is deliciously delightful that John sees Western civilization as a beacon of freedom from institutionalized paedophilia, rather than practically being defined by it.

It is seriously stunning that John believes routine genital mutilation is somehow unique to Muslim cultures.

And it is really remarkable that John views the separation of powers as A Thing That Exists—except, of course, in the sense of powers being separated from We, the People.

__________

These values need to be cherished and protected.

I seem to recall “freedom of religion” being a cherished and protected value of this much-touted Western culture. I guess I must have made that up, because it’s missing from John’s list of “core values of Western culture.”

__________

I don’t know why you’d continue to live in a society that was ‘patriarchal, imperialist, racist, colonialist’.

Really? Aww, come on! That’s an easy one! TO MAKE IT BETTER. Funny thing about that, though: the biggest obstacle to making progress on any of these fronts is people like John, whose willful ignorance magically allows them to see themselves, their uninformed and toxic views and the evil that results as somehow benevolent, despite all evidence to the contrary.

A real conundrum.

__________

Come to Australia, we don’t have many patriarchs, imperialists, racists or colonists, we’re more laid back here.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Good one! See, e.g., the entire fucking history of Australia. [h/t Rotary Wing.]

On a related note, I now wish to demonstrate for Loyal Readers™ my astonishing psychic abilities: without having ever met John, interviewed him (or others about him), researched into his background, seen a picture of him, or indeed learned anything at all about him except through his comments here, I am willing to bet the entire Palace Treasury that in addition to being a (cisgender) male, John is also white, straight and Australian-born.

TA-DA!  My mad clairvoyant skillz simply cannot be explained away by guessing that:

  • John doesn’t see racism in Australia, because he has never been, and likely will never be, oppressed in any way because of his race.

I AM FUCKING AMAZING AMIRITE.

__________

We’re more interested in football, cricket and tennis.

How nice for John and his friends. Some people would loooooove to be interested in those things, but they’re kinda busy with other things. Things like fleeing violent conflicts and keeping themselves and their children alive.

By the way, it turns out that the Aussies are interested in a few other things, too.

__________

If you come to Canberra I’ll show you around.

I appreciate the offer, but…

You’ll meet some fair dinkum, true blue, dinky di, fun-loving Aussies.

I have no idea what any of that means. But if it means “people who are like John,” I (dis)respectfully decline.

__________

When people come to Australia they don’t have to sign up to a set of values that those born her are inculcated with from birth. We take our way of life for granted, until we see how Muslims come in, live in enclaves and start to run their own societies.

Wow, it sure is a mystery why Muslims immigrants to Australia might wish to live in enclaves.

SPOILER ALERT! It’s… people like John.

__________

It’s costing Australian governments billions of dollars beefing up security arrangements to second guess would be terrorists. Yep, welcome to the new Australia.

It’s a real shame the Australian government is so cash-strapped and has nothing better to spend money on. Besides directly creating the conditions that lead to Islamic terrorism and mass migrations of Muslims in the first place, OBVIOUSLY.

__________

I believe Western nations need to have a document that sets out some of the cultural rules.

Gosh, I wonder what exactly these “cultural rules” might be, how they might be enforced in a diverse society, and who will enforce them. Are they anything like, you know, “laws”?

If people don’t like them they can go somewhere else.

For example, to prison? I must be off my game, because I sort of agree with John here.*

*Except we all know that by “cultural rules” John doesn’t mean laws. He means something else entirely, more along the lines of an Official Real Australian™ Dress Code For Women, as we shall see.

__________

People then have a choice, fit in or ship out. Wearing headgear is the ultimate symbol of not wanting to fit in to the society that’s welcomed them. In the 1920’s Kemal Ataturk got rid of the head gear, thus liberating Muslim women.

That John thinks he can simultaneously write comments like the one we’re addressing here, and also claim to be part of a society that welcomes Muslims, is…um, interesting. And by now it will surprise no one that John is just as WRONG about Atatürk getting rid of “the head gear” as he is about everything else:

Even though he personally promoted modern dress for women, Mustafa Kemal [Atatürk] never made specific reference to women’s clothing in the law, as he believed that women would adapt to the new clothing styles of their own free will. He was frequently photographed on public business with his wife Lâtife Uşaklıgil, who covered her head in accordance with Islamic tradition. He was also frequently photographed on public business with women wearing modern Western clothes. But it was Atatürk’s adopted daughters, Sabiha Gökçen and Afet İnan, who provided the real role model for the Turkish women of the future. He wrote: “The religious covering of women will not cause difficultyThis simple style [of headcovering] is not in conflict with the morals and manners of our society.

[emphasis mine.]

Yes, John is oddly obsessed with superficial conformity to (arbitrary) local dress codes, especially for women. I was momentarily curious as to whether John would have similar objections to Orthodox Jewish men in black hats and curls. Or to nuns wearing habits. Or to Sikhs wearing turbans. Or to Hindus wearing bindis on their foreheads and other traditional garb. Or ooh! OOH! To priests wearing collars! Now I personally think priest collars should not just be permitted but actively encouraged, because (a) it makes them stand out such that I can easily avoid or engage with priests as I see fit, and (b) I’ve always had a serious fetish for hawt priests. WIN-WIN.

australianorthodoxjews

Australian Orthodox Jewish men with the head gear.”
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, JEWS!

carmelitenunsaustralia

Australian Carmelite nuns with “the head gear,”
plus some d00ds.
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, NUNS!

australiansikhsprayervigil

Australian Sikhs, some with “the head gear,”at a prayer vigil for a mass murder at a Sikh temple by a white supremacist in Oak Creek, Wisconsin (USA).
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, SIKHS!

australianhindus

Australian Hindus.
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, HINDUS!

robgaleaaustralianpriest

Fr. Rob Galea, Catholic priest in Australia.
OMFG *swoon*
Don’t worry, sweetheart! If mean old John tells you to “FIT IN OR SHIP OUT!” you just come right over here and sit by me. :D

But then suddenly I remembered that I don’t give a fuck what John thinks, as long as he thinks it somewhere else.

However for the record: the people pictured here are just as “Australian” as John is. Whatever that even means.

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These days the sisterhood thinks it’s smart to encourage Muslim women to wear what ever they like – not recognising the symbolism.

Okay, I’ve been around the Interwebz a time or two, so please allow me to translate John’s drivel for you. By “the sisterhood,” John means his warped caricature of feminists, i.e., a group of humans which (a) includes no men and no Muslims, (b) has no understanding of misogyny, especially Islamic-flavored misogyny, and (c) lacks John’s in-depth and comprehensive understanding of culture and symbolism.

… as opposed to, say, John having no fucking clue what women in virtually every culture in the world including his own must navigate just to survive.

Interestingly, actual feminists want a world where everyone—and yes, “everyone” even includes Muslim women!— is free and encouraged to wear whatever the fuck they want.

And, until it is safe for everyone to choose to wear whatever the fuck they want without oppression resulting, everyone needs to STFU about whether, when and where it is appropriate for Muslim women to wear “the head gearbecause we do not live in that fucking world goddammit.

Seriously, do people even think for one second about the choice they want some of the most oppressed people in the world—immigrant Muslim women of color—to make here? Be shunned by your family and everyone you know in the religious community to which you belong, or, apparently, be judged and demonized by the Johns of the (supposedly “free”…) wider society?

palacefuckyou

Please accept this hearty Palace FUCK YOU.

__________

When ever you see a woman wearing a burka, hijab or scarf you know they’re both the victim and perpetrator of misogyny on a grand scale.

OMG YOU GUYS! John has figured out the solution to misogyny! And it’s so simple, I cannot believe we didn’t think of it before! It’s… people like John policing what women wear! Fit in or ship out, bitchez! And for good measure, blaming the women of a persecuted religious minority—many of whom are also women of color in predominately white (and white supremacist) societies—for perpetrating their own oppression, if for whatever reason they do not conform strictly to local, provincial standards of dress. (Hey, I wonder if the dress standards John espouses are gender neutral. I’m just kidding! LOL! I crack myself up.)

____________

Incidentally, this is how I picture John dressing:

johnswear

Note in particular the lack of “the head gear,” such lack being customary and characteristic of Real Australians™.

All of this^ he is (and damn well ought to be) 100% free to wear, no matter how repulsive I or anyone else may find his personal style or reasons for presenting himself the way he does.

Everyone should have that freedom.

THE END.

__________

Wherefore, and in Due Consideration of All of the Foregoing Acts of Unrepentant Conservatism, Which Having Been Finally Exhausted of All Explanatory and/or Entertainment Value, Let It Be Known Throughout the Land That

John Miller

is Hereby Forever Banished to

All of the Other Places on the Internet
(Most of Which By the Way are Generally Not as Reality-Based and Fun as This One.)

__________

banishmentjohnmiller

__________

Let us rejoice, for John Miller’s odious stench shall ne’er again befoul this Palace!

CHEERS.

red&amp;whitewinecheers

The banishment of John, Part 2.

[CONTENT NOTE: xenophobia, bigotry, Islamophobia and a whole bunch of other horrible shit.]

Part 1 is here.

We last left off in November, at the point in our story where commenter khms and I responded to (yet another one of) John Miller’s terrible comments. Having thought—nay, hoped—this was the end of it, I was surprised to see that John recently responded to us. And now khms has responded to him beautifully, and you should go read that; as has Rotary Wing, and you should go read that too, if for no other reason than to see two sparkling specimens of civil, mockery-free, reality-based rebuttals to John’s bigoted, vicious, fact-free conservative noise.

But now it’s my turn. And I plan to relish dismembering the horrifying shitshow that is the mind of John Miller, conservative—for the very last time.

NOTE: It is always worth remembering that there is virtually never any point in deploying reason and evidence to argue with conservatives. They are by definition not terribly rational people, and thus neither facts nor reason will sway them in the direction of accepting reality—in fact, the opposite effect is just as likely to occur. There are, however, two important exceptions to the utter pointlessness of engaging with conservatives. The first is for the infotainment of other people, such as lurkers, bystanders, captive dinner guests, fellow bar flies, beloved Loyal Readers™, etc. The second is for the pleasure to be found in sharpening one’s own rhetorical fangs, either to prepare for the aforementioned audience, or for the sheer enjoyment of it in its own right. I leave it to Loyal Readers™ to determine under which caveat(s) this particular exercise falls.

NOTE 2: Because I quote from John’s final comment as well as material from elsewhere, in order to avoid any (highly unlikely) confusion as to who is doing the talking, I have taken the liberty of making all quotes from John’s text the color of shit.

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First, let us all behold with awe and wonder John’s retort in its entirety:

KHMS, been to Marseilles, Paris, London or Bradford recently? Watched TV or read a newspaper? Half the children born in France and Britain are born as Muslims – despite them being (around) 5% of the population. The second language in Marseilles? French. The first, Arabic.

Many of the Muslims in these communities have little respect for the cultures to which they have chosen to live. They want to destroy them and turn them into the shitholes from whence they have come.

They have high levels of welfare dependence, they breed like rabbits. If they don’t take over countries with the Kalashnikov or the suicide bomb they’ll certainly do it with the pork sword.

The freedoms that have attracted these people to Europe are the very freedoms that are under threat. America seems to have missed out on the Muslim onslaught. Australia hasn’t, having excepted anyone and everyone who chose to come her by boat over the last five years.

KHMS, go spend a week In Marseilles, London, Paris and Bradford, then report back.

Iris, I would have described the core values of Western culture as democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech, equality for women and girls coupled the right to an education and the right to marry who they choose, freedom from institutionalized paedophilia and genital mutilation, the separation of powers … These values need to be cherished and protected. I don’t know why you’d continue to live in a society that was ‘patriarchal, imperialist, racist, colonialist’. Come to Australia, we don’t have many patriarchs, imperialists, racists or colonists, we’re more laid back here. We’re more interested in football, cricket and tennis. If you come to Canberra I’ll show you around. You’ll meet some fair dinkum, true blue, dinky di, fun-loving Aussies.

When people come to Australia they don’t have to sign up to a set of values that those born her are inculcated with from birth. We take our way of life for granted, until we see how Muslims come in, live in enclaves and start to run their own societies. It’s costing Australian governments billions of dollars beefing up security arrangements to second guess would be terrorists. Yep, welcome to the new Australia.

I believe Western nations need to have a document that sets out some of the cultural rules. If people don’t like them they can go somewhere else. People then have a choice, fit in or ship out.

Wearing headgear is the ultimate symbol of not wanting to fit in to the society that’s welcomed them. In the 1920’s Kemal Ataturk got rid of the head gear, thus liberating Muslim women. These days the sisterhood thinks it’s smart to encourage Muslim women to wear what ever they like – not recognising the symbolism.

When ever you see a woman wearing a burka, hijab or scarf you know they’re both the victim and perpetrator of misogyny on a grand scale.

Well then. Shall we begin?

KHMS, been to Marseilles, Paris, London or Bradford recently? Watched TV or read a newspaper? Half the children born in France and Britain are born as Muslims – despite them being (around) 5% of the population.

BZZZT. I don’t know what TV John’s watching or newspapers he’s reading (though I have my suspicions!), but these birthrate claims are simply false. As in, WRONG:

Around the world, the global average Muslim family size has fallen from 4.3 children per family in 1995 to 2.9 in 2010, and is expected to fall below the population-growth rate, and converge with Western family sizes, by mid-century.

Muslims in France and Germany are now having only 2.2 children per family, barely above the national average. And while Pakistani immigrants in Britain have 3.5 children each, their British-born daughters have only 2.5. Across Europe, the difference between the Muslim and non-Muslim fertility rate has fallen from 0.7 to 0.4, and is headed toward a continent-wide convergence.

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The second language in Marseilles? French. The first, Arabic.

OMG THESE MUSLIM IMMIGRANTS SPEAK A FOREIGN LANGUAGE!!!11!!!! Even if this is true, it is not the slightest bit alarming in any way. You know how I know? I know because there are many, many cities and towns in the United States where the primary language spoken is not English. In the state of California, 43.8% of people over 5 years old speak a language other than English at home, and that figure rises to over 90% in cities and towns across that state. (And that’s to say nothing of enormous, heavily populated ethnic-minority and immigrant neighborhoods that make up large swaths of California’s major cities, like Los Angeles and San Francisco.) And guess what? No one except conservatives gives a shit. Well, the rest of us care because we want non-English speaking immigrants and their children to have access to the resources they need to learn basic English proficiency. And unlike John, we all understand that immigrant populations acquire English fluency by the second generation (frequently accompanied by the loss of fluency in their family language, unfortunately).

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Many of the Muslims in these communities have little respect for the cultures to which they have chosen to live. They want to destroy them and turn them into the shitholes from whence they have come.

WRONG:

Actually, Muslims change their cultural views dramatically when they emigrate. For example, 62% of American Muslims say that “a way can be found for the state of Israel to exist so that the rights of Palestinians are addressed” — a rate barely lower than that of average Americans (67%), and vastly ahead of the miniscule response among Middle Eastern Muslims — for whom between 20% and 40% agreed with that statement.

Similarly, 39% of American Muslims and 47% of German Muslims say they tolerate homosexuality, compared to single-figure responses in most Islamic countries — and those rates are rising with each immigrant generation. On these important questions, Muslim immigrants are converging with Western values fast.

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They have high levels of welfare dependence,

Actually, it is true that immigrants generally have significantly higher levels of welfare use than native-born US citizens. Much of that gap is accounted for by lower education levels, language barriers and other factors leading to lower pay among some of our largest immigrant populations. But! It is also true that immigrant households generally are significantly more likely to have workers than native households:

Of legal immigrant households, 85 percent had one or more workers, as did 95 percent of illegal immigrant households and 76 percent of native households.

If those two facts seem contradictory, consider that welfare as it currently exists in the US is designed to supplement low-wage workers, among whom there is a disproportionate share of immigrants.

But we were talking about Muslims specifically. It is much more difficult to find data on US welfare use and religious affiliation—at least if we discount sources like Breitbart, World News Daily, Eagle Forum and other right-wing propaganda outlets best known for distortion levels that would have made Jimi Hendrix scream in pain and then set himself on fire instead of his guitar. Also, the US census does not ask questions about religion, so it is difficult to determine how many Muslims there are and where. But there are some things we do know that have a bearing on Muslims and their (alleged) uniquely high levels of welfare dependence.

Muslim Americans have income levels that match the US public. Immigrant Muslims are slightly more affluent than native-born Muslims: 41% of all Muslim Americans and 45% of immigrant Muslims report annual household income levels of $50,000 or higher, compared to the national average of 44%. Among high-income earners, 19% of immigrant Muslims claim annual household incomes of $100,000 or higher, compared to the U.S. average of 17 %. This is likely due to the strong concentration of Muslims in professional, managerial, and technical fields, especially in information technology, education, medicine, law, and the corporate world.*
*[Text excerpted from Strengthening America: The Civic and Political Integration of Muslim Americans, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, © 2007; Statistical data excerpted from Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream, Pew Research Center, May 22, 2007; via the U.S. State Department.]

Muslim Americans are highly educated. “[40%] of Muslims say they have a college degree, making them the second most highly educated religious group surveyed after Jews (61 percent), compared with 29 percent of Americans overall who say they have a college degree, according to Gallup [PDF]. That carries across gender lines, with Muslim females being the second-most educated religious group in the country, after Jewish females.”

Sadly, because he is a proud, card-carrying math illiterate, John will not understand any of that.

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they breed like rabbits.

WRONG.

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If they don’t take over countries with the Kalashnikov or the suicide bomb

If that’s their plan, they really better step up their game over here.

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they’ll certainly do it with the pork sword.

WRONG.

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The freedoms that have attracted these people to Europe are the very freedoms that are under threat.

Perhaps Muslim immigrants are attracted to the “freedom” of living in a place that isn’t being occupied, bombed, destroyed, exploited and/or otherwise destabilized by Western governments and their agents? Or “freedom” from violent Islamists created, armed and empowered by the West? I mean, even John can probably grok the fact that by far, most victims of Muslim terrorism are other Muslims.

Or maybe not.  :|

The freedoms under threat in Europe are the same freedoms under threat in the US—not from Muslims, mind you, but from conservatives, who currently allow Muslims to be used as a convenient pretext for radically undermining democracy, civil rights and the rule of law—a.k.a. freedom. See, e.g., mass surveillance, mass incarceration, police militarization, illegal wars, press freedom erosion, lawless drone assassinations and elite immunity from large-scale crimes, just off the top of my head.

But somehow I doubt those are the freedoms John worries about. No, apparently there are other, Very Important FREEDOMS™ under imminent threat from small and politically powerless populations of Muslims.

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America seems to have missed out on the Muslim onslaught.

Not for long: they’re among the fastest growing immigrant groups to the US. And, once again, no one cares except conservatives. Because the rest of us know we are a nation with a long history of immigration (and colonization—a topic for another time), and we know that immigrants assimilate within a few generations. But more to the point, there isn’t exactly an “onslaught” in Europe, either:

In fact, we now have several large-scale projections based on population-growth trends and immigration rates which show that the Muslim populations of Europe are growing increasingly slowly and that by the middle of this century — even if immigration rates are not reduced — the proportion of Muslims in Europe will probably peak somewhere short of 10% (it is currently around 7%). By that point, Muslims will have family sizes and age profiles not that different from Europe in general.

And what if it’s even double that? Say, 20%? Immigrants assimilate—unless shitweasels like John see to it that they cannot, of course.

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Australia hasn’t, having excepted [sic] anyone and everyone who chose to come her  [sic] by boat over the last five years.

WRONG. And that’s a real bang-up job you guys are doing over there, too. Goddamn paragons of human rights, to which we can all only hope to aspire!

Jeezus.

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KHMS, go spend a week In Marseilles, London, Paris and Bradford, then report back.

Sounds fantastic! Hey khms, if you go let me know when and where you’ll be and I’ll try to come meet up with you. And while we’re having a ball touring around some of the great cities of Europe, John will go spend a week investigating Australian immigration policy (including its history of white European immigration and its present-day immigrant detention centres) and report back to us.

I AM SURE.

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Stay tuned for Part 3.

palacehappyface

Ask Iris: Should Anti-Abortion Activists Be Allowed to Harass Preschoolers?

[CONTENT NOTE: harassment.]

Q: Should Anti-Abortion Activists Be Allowed to Harass Preschoolers?

A: No.

THE END.

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This really should require no further explanation whatsoever. But since I’m snowed in because of a motherfucker of a blizzard, and my WIFI still seems to be working (so far…), I think I’ll spend a few minutes expounding upon “No.”

Anti-abortion activists should not be allowed to harass preschoolers.

Anti-abortion activists should not be allowed to harass anyone, and no one should be allowed to harass preschoolers.

No one should be allowed to harass anyone.

THE END.

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Jeezus, those winds are howling, and the view from my window is a complete whiteout:

whiteoutview

LIVE! FROM NEW YORK! IT’S…WINTER STORM JONAS!

I have a nice hot pot of coffee and a temporarily content kitty (is there any other kind?) so…hey, what the hell?

Some background.

A new Planned Parenthood clinic is currently under construction in Northeast DC, right next door to a school.

Over the past several months activists opposed to the clinic’s construction have been “purposely and aggressively menacing” school children as young as 3 years old with graphic images and language, causing “severe emotional stress,” according to a lawsuit filed in DC Superior Court by the school in December. Teachers have had to keep students inside at recess, and…with a larger crowd and a number of prominent antiabortion figures expected on account of the annual March for Life [sic], administrators decided to cancel school altogether.

The school closure cost [Bill Harper, parent of a 5- and  7-year-old students] $80 in extra childcare fees, but he was most angry about how the recurring demonstrations have disrupted the day-to-day educational experience for the students. “The whole school is focused on preventing the children from being terrorized. They’ve had to redesign the community,” he said, gesturing to black cloth draped across a fence to hide a playground. He told me that teachers sometimes have to take students on a long detour to reach the gymnasium across the street without encountering protesters. To Harper, they aren’t just a nuisance but a safety concern: One of the defendants named in the lawsuit, Robert Weiler Jr., was previously convicted of plotting to bomb an abortion clinic and shoot doctors in nearby Greenbelt, Maryland.

Why this particular terrorist wasn’t locked up for lifetime is perhaps a subject for another post, but I would be remiss if I did not make a few points about the d00d here.

“From all indications, it appears he was acting alone,” said Gregory K. Gant, the special agent in charge of the ATF’s Baltimore field division.

He’s a white terrorist, you see. And as we all know, white terrorists operate in a cultural void, and in any event they are uniquely impervious to violent rhetoric and ideologies. Also, we must be careful not to implicate a white terrorist’s race, nationality and/or religion in producing such terrorists: he is simply “Lone Wolf” No. 194,801.

Agent Gant also said this:

“In some ways, it could have been a bigger threat because it wasn’t something we were tracking, and we didn’t see it coming.”

Surveillance state: FAIL. While the state is quite keen on deploying counterterrorism tactics to infiltrate and monitor citizens opposed to U.S. economic policy, immigration policy, harmful trade agreements, union-busting, racial profiling, the death penalty, Israeli violence against Palestinians, endless wars, etc., white terrorists operating on US soil just aren’t people law enforcement would ever thinks to track. I mean, gosh, how could anyone possibly ever see anything like this coming?

But I digress. Back to the Forced Birth Bozo Brigades.

The lawsuit describes the protests as a form of coercion, intended to draft parents and administrators into a campaign to block the clinic from opening next door. The antiabortion activists “have promised they will ‘be back every week’ if the students and parents do not take action against the Planned Parenthood health center,” the complaint alleges. Protesters have shouted at children to “Tell your parents they kill kids next door.” In November, an activist named Jonathan Darnel sent an e-mail to school administrators that read, “I am not threatening you. Nevertheless, if you are failing to challenge Planned Parenthood, I feel a moral obligation to alert the community (including the parents of your students) myself…. I’m sure you don’t want to see me, my antiabortion friends and our graphic images any more than we want to be in your neighborhood.”

Defendant Larry Cirignano was at the protest on Thursday, wearing a banana-yellow tie stamped with the words “choose life.” I asked him if he was at all concerned for students who were disturbed by the images and messages he and other demonstrators present to them. “I’m worried more about the kids who are in the pictures,” he responded. “It’s sad that the school and parents didn’t think they should get involved.” Gesturing at the group waiting to hear [David Daleiden, the shitweasel behind the recent deceptive video campaign intended to take down Planned Parenthood] speak, he said, “Most of these people aren’t from around here.” Cirignano said he’s being represented by Mat Staver of Liberty Council, who also represents Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis.

These are just fantastic people: respectful, kind, informed, tolerant, exactly the kind of community exemplars you would definitely want to have around small children.

What to do about it.

As the lawsuit winds its way through the courts, it is worth remembering that the US Supreme court struck down a Massachusetts buffer zone law around women’s clinics—ones that were already open and operating, not construction sites. The justices so ruled from the safety and sanctity of their very own buffer-zone protected place of work.

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As I noted at the time, that decision was unanimous—thus rendering the entire Supreme Court as currently constituted not just a bunch of flaming hypocritical @$$holes, but complicit in providing material support to terrorists.

As that’s how the state of affairs stands, I propose a simple strategy of tit-for-tat. To wit: picket the schools where the protesters’ children attend. Hold up giant posters picturing women killed and imprisoned as a result of anti-choicers—most prominently the photo of Geraldine Santoro taken at the scene of her death from a self-abortion attempt.[WARNING: extremely graphic violent image, NSFW.] Shout in the kids’ faces “Your parents want to kill mommies!” “Your parents like killing poor mommies!” “Your parents want to put poor mommies in jail!”

Stop when they stop.

Why no one will do this.

Because it’s fucking horrible, that’s why—even though it is, apparently, legal. Pro-abortion activists like to think of ourselves as better people than our enemies. And of course we are, demonstrably so: you don’t see us going around firebombing right-wing churches and shooting anti-abortion ringleaders, do you? We are certainly “above” directing such reprehensible tactics at innocent children, or frankly at anyone at all.

And therein lies our dilemma. Just think for a moment about what it actually takes for conservatives to change their minds, and not just about this issue but about anything. Global warming, for-profit healthcare, creationism, gun access, immigration, the unbroken record of failure of right-wing economic policy and governance, take your pick. Evidence is not enough. Epic calamities are not enough. Personal calamities are not enough. Experts who know what they’re talking about are not enough. These people cannot be reasoned with, and yet they are winning. There is no denying that their tactics, however reprehensible, are nonetheless effective.

It’s quite the conundrum, no? It certainly leaves me contemplating whether I ought to rethink that “No.”

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I hope this edition of Ask Iris has been helpful.

Have a nice day.

This poor man has suffered ENOUGH.

Speaking of high-ranking military officials who cannot keep their pants on despite choosing careers that require this elusive skill, now comes “news” that the US Army has decided retired general David Petraeus will face no consequences for his crimes. In case you get confused between Gen. Petraeus and Pvt. Chelsea Manning—I know I sure do—Petraeus is the one who gave eight notebooks full of highly classified material to his mistress and biographer before leaving the Army to head the CIA. The general maintained the notebooks in 2010 and 2011 while serving as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan: they “contained code words, war strategy, the names of covert officers and other sensitive information” and “outlined deliberative discussions with the National Security Council and President Obama.”

Petraeus also admitted to lying to the FBI, which I think I heard somewhere is a big no-no?

Anyway, as part of a plea deal during federal criminal court proceedings earlier this year, Petraeus pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified materials, for which he received two years probation and fine of $100,000. Instead of subjecting him to a court-martial for his crimes and risking a reduction in rank that would cost the general tens of thousands of dollars every year in pension payments, Army brass has wisely decided that this poor man has clearly suffered enough.

petraeustearsChelsea Manning on the other hand is the one who provided evidence of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan to Wikileaks, and was sentenced after a court-martial to 35 years in prison, reduction in rank to private, forfeiture of all pay and a dishonorable discharge.

I CANNOT KEEP THESE TWO PEOPLE STRAIGHT IT’S SO CONFUSING.

Maybe I’ll write to Chelsea Manning at the prison in Fort Leavenworth and ask her what she thinks about the Army’s treatment of Petraeus. I’ll be sending her a holiday card anyway.

snowdenmanning2016

This is what journalism looks like.

Oddly enough, it does not look Fair-‘n-Balanced®. It turns out that when facts speak for themselves, we really have no pressing need to hear from pants-pissing right-wing berserkers shrieking about jihadis hiding around every corner—or worse, government officials ‘splaining how state violence and human rights violations Keep Us Safe™.

Will Potter: The secret US prisons you’ve never heard of before
TED Fellows Retreat, August 2015

My message for you today is that we must bear witness to what is being done to these prisoners. Their treatment is a reflection of the values held beyond prison walls. This story is not just about prisoners, it is about us. It is about our own commitment to human rights. It is about whether we will choose to stop repeating the mistakes of our past. If we don’t listen to what Father Berrigan described as the stories of the dead, they will soon become the stories of ourselves.

Feel the Safe™.