Tuesday, February 21, 2017

News Tidbits

Christian Post: Public Decries Christian Men's Conference for Featuring Speakers Accused of Rape, Sexual Abuse Cover-Up

Washington Blade: Anti-LGBT legal organization designated a hate group

The Hill: Washington court rules against florist who refused flowers for gay wedding

ABC 33/40: Alabama: Briarwood Presbyterian Church seeks lawmakers’ approval to establish police force

Huffington Post: Creationist Ken Ham’s Giant ‘Noah’s Ark’ To Feature Dinosaurs vs. Giants Diorama

Gay Star News: New Mexico Senate votes to ban anti-LGBT conversion therapy

Pink News: Christian radio host Bryan Fischer says homosexuals are ‘literally’ Nazi stormtroopers

Washington Post: Influential conservative group: Trump, DeVos should dismantle Education Department and bring God into classrooms

The Independent: UK: Children at faith school 'ordered by teachers to ignore classmate because her parent is transgender'

Commentary Tidbits

Broadly: I Went to a Pro-Islamophobia Rally Hosted by Canada's Breitbart in My Hijab

Daylight Atheism: Some Right-Wing Christians Enthusiastically Promoting a Form of Genocide

The Guardian: Trump's 'global gag rule' could endanger millions of women and children, ​Bill and Melinda Gates​ warn

Mic: 5 times white students invoked Trump to taunt minority students

The Inquisitr: Ark Encounter: City Warned, Drops Trip Plans for Controversial Religious Site

BBC News: Anna LeBaron: How I escaped my father's murderous polygamous cult

Monday, February 20, 2017

Lou Engle: Shut Up and Stop Complaining

New Apostolic Reformation preacher Lou Engle took to Twitter to comment on the recent surge in protesting and political dissent. In a February 9th tweet, Engle wrote that "To protest is an American privilege. Yet to protest with a bitter spirit defiles many." In another Tweet that day, Engle claimed that "If people would pray for their leaders instead of complaining about them the kingdom would more speedily advance." Engle's tweets are problematic for several reasons.

First, protest is an American right, not a privilege. The rights of citizens to exercise freedom of speech, to assemble in a peaceful manner, and to petition the government for redress of grievances are protected by the Bill of Rights. Furthermore, democracy thrives when citizens hold leaders accountable and communicate their will to all levels of government. It is not only the right but the duty of Americans to offer dissent when leaders propose unsound policies. Contrary to what Engle writes, protest is an important American tradition, not a privilege.

For citizens to hold their government accountable, they must speak. They must identify what is wrong with a leader's decisions and make their thoughts known. Engle frowns on this as "complaining", but in reality, it is an expression of free speech that is essential to healthy democracy. Speech and action, not prayer, bring about results in the real world.

Engle's comment about protesting with a "bitter spirit" is revealing. First, it suggests that Engle sees rancor in the protests of the past few weeks, instead of righteous anger, courage, humor, and solidarity with the marginalized. Second, "bitter" is a epithet that some Christian fundamentalists hurl at those who criticize persons in power or demand justice for wrongdoers. Is it easier for Engle to dismiss the anti-Trump protests as outpourings of "bitterness" than to listen to the grievances of the protesters?

With Donald Trump in the White House, unsuitable figures rising to cabinet positions, alarming executive orders flying off the president's desk, and so much at stake, Americans can't afford to be passive. We can't afford to stay silent for fear of appearing "bitter", and we can't wait for a cosmic white knight to fix our problems. Now is the time for constructive action, not passivity.

Today's Orange Horrors, and Glimmers of Hope

PBS News Hour: Draft DHS guidelines seek to aggressively detain immigrants

The Hill: Trump signs repeal of transparency rule for oil companies

Politico: Panetta warns Trump's National Security Council is 'dysfunctional'

Associated Press: Religious freedom could top Sessions civil rights priorities

BBC News: Sweden to Trump: What happened last night?

Washington Post: DeVos: Critics want to ‘make my life a living hell’

UPI: Senate confirms McMahon to lead Small Business Administration

CNN: GOP Senate Intel Member: Exhaustive investigation into Trump-Russia connections needed following Flynn resignation

New York Times: Michael Flynn Resigns as National Security Adviser 

New York Times: Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence

New York Times: Trump Chooses H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser

Other events from the past week will lift your spirits!

Washington Post: Thousands of demonstrators across US say ‘Not My President’

The Independent: Thousands of protesters across the UK demonstrate against US President as MPs debate state visit

Boston Globe: Photos from Boston’s ‘Stand Up for Science’ rally

Huffington Post: The Resistance Calendar lists upcoming rallies across the country

2017 CPAC Will Take Place February 22-25

The 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of right-wing politicians and activists, will take place on February 22-25 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Oxon Hill, MD. Sponsored by Heritage Foundation, Liberty Health Share, and the National Rifle Association, this year's CPAC will feature multiple members of the Trump administration as speakers, including President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Stephen Bannon, and Reince Priebus. To everyone's relief, the gathering will not feature Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos.

I always find amusement in the workshop listings of right-wing conferences, which blatantly give away a conference's agenda. This year's CPAC will feature the following workshops and panel discussions:

  • If Heaven Has a Gate, a Wall, and Extreme Vetting, Why Can't America?

  • Trigger Warnings & Safe Spaces: Campus Activism in a PC Age

  • Facts, Not Feelings: Snowflakes, Safe Spaces and Trigger Warnings

  • When Did WWIII Begin? Threats At Home

  • Is BDS BS? The Left's Attack on Israel

  • Implications of the Energy Renaissance Given to Us by Hydraulic Fracturing in America

  • Hush: Abortion's Effects on Women the Pro-Choice Lobby Doesn't Want You To Know

  • How Did the Left Capture Education and How Do We Get It Back?

Let's not ignore the book signings! The titles alone are good for a snicker.

  • Book Signing: Burgess Owens, Liberalism or How to Turn Good Men Into Whiners, Weenies and Wimps

  • Book Signing: Michael Medved, The American Miracle: Divine Providence in the Rise of the Republic

  • Book Signing: Ashley McGuire, Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female

  • Book Signing: Matt Margolis, The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama

I was surprised to see a workshop on the agenda entitled "The Alt Right Ain't Right at All", hosted by Dan Schneider of the American Conservative Union. Given that the former chairman of Breitbart News is scheduled to speak at CPAC, and the conference agenda features multiple Breitbart contributors, isn't such a workshop incongruent with the rest of the conference's content? Does the presence of this workshop indicate internal division among right-wing leaders over the increased visibility of the alt-right in their movement? Is it an attempt by some conservatives to distance themselves from the alt-right? Until we know more about its content, it's difficult to say.

On one hand, the content of 2017 CPAC matches that of previous CPACs, in that its workshops and books reflect the usual anti-liberal, anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ themes. With Trump and company headlining the conference, and with deep political divisions growing deeper in America, what fresh ugliness can we expect from this week's event?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Today's Orange Horrors, and Glimmers of Hope

Associated Press: Justice warned White House about Flynn contacts

New York Times: Trump Drops Defense of Obama Guidelines on Transgender Students

New York Times: Turmoil at the National Security Council, From the Top Down

Washington Post: As Flynn falls under growing pressure over Russia contacts, Trump remains silent

Washington Post: Trump undertakes most ambitious regulatory rollback since Reagan

Reuters: Labor nominee Puzder faces uncertainty as confirmation hearing looms

Today brought good news as well. Stay hopeful.

WTSP 10 News: Anti-Trump protesters spell out "RESIST!!" on San Francisco beach

Associated Press: Massive North Carolina crowd protests Trump, anti-LGBT law

Deutsche Welle: Mexico protesters call for respect from US President Trump 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: 'Day Without Latinos' protesters march to Milwaukee County Courthouse

CBS St. Louis: Some 200 Protesters Demonstrate Outside Former Hardee’s Headquarters in Downtown St. Louis

News Tidbits

New York Times: For Religious Conservatives, Success and Access at the Trump White House

Pink News: UK: Former barrister accused of telling teenager boy to self harm to rid himself of gay ‘sin’

LGBTQ Nation: Judge rules Orlando bakery didn’t discriminate against anti-gay customer

The Guardian: Australia: LGBTI groups condemn homophobic comments at far-right Q Society meeting

Commentary Tidbits

The Conversation: Trump’s vow to ‘destroy’ Johnson Amendment could wreak havoc on charitable world

The Atlantic: These Conservative Christians Are Opposed to Trump—and Suffering the Consequences

Washington Post: A blueprint for resistance to Trump has emerged. Here’s what it looks like.

New York Times: Taboo Italian Thinker Is Enigma to Many, but Not to Bannon

HIV Plus: How Long Before the Muslim Ban Becomes a Brown Ban?

Huffington Post: Betsy DeVos Poses Immediate Danger To LGBT Students

Huffington Post: Frank Worthen, the ‘Father’ of Ex-gay Ministry Love in Action, Dies at Age 87

Santa Fe New Mexican: Conversion therapy created self-hatred, self-destruction

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Pro-Choice Demonstrators Stand Up to Anti-Planned Parenthood Protests

As I discussed in an earlier post, anti-abortion protesters staged protests outside of Planned Parenthood clinics across the U.S. on February 11th, calling for the federal government to defund the reproductive health service provider.

Pro-choice people were having none of it.

At many clinic locations, both anti-abortion and pro-choice demonstrators were present in healthy numbers. For your viewing pleasure, here are tweets from pro-choice protesters at Saturday's events.

Today's Orange Horrors, and Glimmers of Hope

New York Times: Court Refuses to Reinstate Travel Ban, Dealing Trump Another Legal Loss

BBC News: Trump travel ban: Policy adviser attacks US federal appeals court

Washington Post: National security adviser Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials, officials say

The Guardian: Democrats call for Michael Flynn's dismissal after reported Russia talks

Christian Science Monitor: Is the FBI taking the Russian dossier about Trump more seriously?

Politico: Senate confirms Obamacare opponent Price to lead health department

Politico: CIA Freezes Out Top Flynn Aide

USA Today: Bannon, Flynn and Sessions: How Trump's top advisers view Muslims, in their own words

Human Rights Watch: Arizona Mother’s Arrest May Signal Start of Trump’s Deportation Machine

NPR: EPA Halves Staff Attending Environmental Conference In Alaska

Here are a few headlines to hearten you!

Chicago Tribune: 'We fight back!': Protesters in DC rally outside DeVos's first public school visit

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Eight countries sign up to counter Trump's global anti-abortion move

Newsday: Hundreds rally in NYC to protest against immigration raids

CBS New York: Protest Held Outside ICE Headquarters Over Trump’s Immigration Policies