Monday, May 29, 2023

Music and Memorial Day

I have a summer cold.  Hope you had a good Memorial Day weekend.  We had a nice one.

Sunday, we went to a flea market and the kids found some stuff they liked while Cedric and I found some vinyl albums we wanted:

1) The Commdore's Greatest Hits

2) Laura Nyro's Christmas and the Beads of Sweat

3) The 5th Dimension's Individually & Collectively

4) The Four Tops' Still Waters Run Deep

5) Diana Ross' Swept Away

6) Janet Jackson's Control

7) Lionel Richie's Can't Slow Down

8) Pretenders' Get Close

9) Rod Stewart's Atlantic Crossing

We only found nine we liked.  There was a Mamas and the Papas album (Deliver) that we almost got but it had a huge scratch across the b-side.  

Anyway.  I just got up to have some water.  We were at a friend's BBQ from about 11 until 3.  Then we got home and the kids wanted dinner in the backyard.  (Because of having the BBQ earlier.)  So Cedric grilled some hamburger patties and some hot dogs (we hadn't shopped for grilling and hadn't planned on it).  We were out there from about f until 8:30 and I had the worst headache so I came in and, after getting the kids down, fell out on the bed.  I'm dehydrated and woke up to drink some water and figured I'd do a quick blog post.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Friday, May 26, 2023.  The American Taliban continues their war on democracy and on the United States, a royal visits Iraq, and much more.

The American Taliban is out to destroy democracy and freedom.  They lie and pretend they're "doing it for the kids" but they're no Robbie and Kylie.

And their not "doing it for the kids."  Their actions and their remarks make clear that's not the case.  

What they are doing is damaging children.  Beth Hawkins (THE 74) reports:

In the opening weeks of the 2023 legislative season alone, more than 400 pieces of legislation aimed at LGBTQ people— most of them targeting schools — were introduced throughout the country. 
It’s no surprise that queer students in Republican-dominated states where these laws have passed are profoundly impacted. But less visible is the dramatic effect the steady drumbeat of headlines has had on youth in places with even strong anti-discrimination laws. Newly released data from the advocacy groups GLSEN and The Trevor Project show increases in hostility, victimization and discrimination experienced by students in blue states as well as red.

The effects are devastating. Nearly half of LGBTQ 13- to 17-year-olds considered suicide last year, as opposed to some 19% of high school students overall, according to The Trevor Project. Eighteen percent actually attempted it. Seventy percent report anxiety, and 57% experienced depression.

Strong in-school relationships are a well-known protective factor. LGBTQ students who say their teachers care a lot about them are 37% less likely to consider suicide and 43% less likely to be depressed than those who don’t feel cared for, according to The Trevor Project. 

Rates of self-harm are much lower among students who feel affirmed in school, and acceptance of LGBTQ students had risen steadily — if unevenly — following legal recognition of same-sex marriage. But the number of youth who see their schools as affirming has fallen dramatically over the last four years. 

In California — where the first gay couples married in 2008 and schools began teaching LGBTQ history a decade ago — a statewide survey of students found that the number who reported hearing homophobic remarks from adults in school rose from 12% in 2019 to 49% in 2021. That’s an increase of 408%.

In Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage has been recognized for almost 20 years, the number of youth exposed to anti-LGBT remarks is up 686% over the same time frame.

Yeah, but, hate merchants, keep pretending that your concern is for the kids.  Scarface Tulsi Gabbard might try having kids -- before it's too late, she's 42 -- since she's so obsessed with other people's children.  Or is Tulsi too manly for pregnancy?    The report notes:

A new data analysis by The 74 shows how this political wedge issue, aimed at a relatively small population of students, is having an outsize effect. The number of youth who identify as something other than cisgender is growing, but it’s still a tiny number of children. 

Of the approximately 16 million high school students in the United States, an estimated 1.8 million, or 11.6%, identify as LGBTQ. Just 300,000 are gender-nonconforming. 

Ten years after same-sex marriage became widely recognized, a sizeable majority of Americans are comfortable with gay, lesbian and bisexual co-workers and neighbors. Experts say it’s harder to attempt to undo LGBT rights overall than to capitalize on confusion about the experiences of a very small subset of people.     

And unlike past campaigns to vilify LGBTQ people, this time, the rhetoric targets kids, not adults. Even though some of the new policies take aim at bathrooms and gymnasiums, the impact spills over to classrooms, hallways and libraries, affecting a much larger number of children.

They are bullied and assaulted; subjected to increasingly negative remarks even from teachers who are supposed to protect them; silenced from raising LGBTQ topics — even talking about their families during class discussions; discouraged from participating in sports or other activities; forbidden from wearing clothing with supportive messages or forming gay-straight alliances or other affirming student clubs; disciplined for identifying as LGBTQ and for wearing clothes deemed “inappropriate” for their gender.

It's like the 70s all over again. As I've noted before, not long ago, a group of gay adult malea at one group we were speaking to in the last 12 months, brought up what life was really like for them in high school and middle school.  Teachers and principals mocked them and made fun of them, publicly ridiculed them.  My response was sue.  I don't care if it gets kicked out for whatever reason.  Get on the record so that these failures do not get to enjoy their retirement but instead everyone grasps that these failures weren't just intolerant, they were actively betraying their legal obligations.  

I would recommend the same to the families of any children currently in school and experiencing this.  File immediately.  Let's identify these people who think they can abuse their jobs and harass students.  

That's the only way this will stop.  

The American Taliban is brave when egged on by a bunch of hate merchants but when they find out it's not Tulsi Gabbard that's having to pay for the actions, but themselves, they'll learn to conduct themselves as educators are supposed to.     

Rowan Johnson learned what it meant to be transgender not from a parent or a teacher, but from Jerry Springer.

Home from school one day when they were about 8 years old, Johnson caught Springer’s often-raucous daytime talk show. “There are girls here to tell their parents they want to be boys,” Johnson recalls hearing at the top of the hour.

That’s something a person can do? Johnson thought. They had sensed already that something was different about their own gender identity but didn’t know what. “I didn’t have the words for ‘transgender’ or ‘nonbinary’ or any of this.”

Most trans adults went to school at a time when there was little or no discussion of gender identity. If the subject came up, it was on tabloid television or in schoolyard taunts rather than in conversation with caring adults. Now, as Americans debate policies that affect trans Americans, there’s disagreement over how — or whether — to broach these issues in schools.

For transgender children, this question can be urgent. A Washington Post-KFF poll conducted in late 2022 found that about 1 in 3 transgender adults was 10 years old or younger when they began to understand that their gender was different from their sex assigned at birth. Forty-five percent of them said they felt unsafe at school, the place where they spent most of their time and where acceptance or rejection can make a deep impression. The isolation and discrimination that many trans people experience can lead to depressionsubstance abuse, self harm and suicide, experts say.

[. . .]

In other words, what trans Americans say is needed appears at odds with what many Americans appear comfortable providing. That’s unsettling to the trans community at a time when gender identity has taken center stage in the culture wars and Republican lawmakers have attacked the very existence of trans people.

“If I had had the opportunity," said Johnson, "to learn that it’s normal and common to question your gender identity and to want to experiment and explore your gender identity, I think it would have saved a lot of emotional pain.”

The poll found support for teaching these issues in high school, with more than 6 in 10 saying it was appropriate. Americans were divided when asked about middle school. But at the same time, nearly 7 in 10 Americans supported laws that would bar discrimination against trans people in K-12 schools.

The American Taliban is in the minority -- just as they are on abortion.  But what the people want doesn't matter to these authoritarians.  They want to destroy the country and destroy democracy.  The right to privacy got shredded in DOBBS and they planned and conspired for years to get to that point.  They're coming after every right and you're insane -- or married to Max Blumenthal (which may be the same thing) -- if you can't see that.

Target on Wednesday said it was removing some products that celebrate Pride Month after the company and its employes became the focus of a “volatile” anti-LGBTQ campaign.

The company said threats against employees impacted their sense of safety and well-being, but Target did not specify which products it was removing, the nature of the threats, or where they occurred. Target said it removed from shelves “items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”

For a decade, Target has celebrated Pride Month in and around June. The company runs advertisements to appeal to LGBTQ customers and employees, and it sells t-shirts, coffee mugs and merchandise with rainbow flags and other symbols of gay rights.

“Pride Month at Target is a time of affirmation and solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community,” the company says on its website.

A few things.  Openly homophobic people?  They can't afford Target and don't shop there regularly.  Threats against employees?  Those need to be reported to legal authorities and done so immediately.  Isn't it interesting that Jonathan Turley is no where to be found yet again.

He's like FOX "NEWS" -- emphasizing everything that will scare the elderly but nothing that will enlighten or educate.  He's an old whore slinging it for FOX "NEWS." 

The backward and inbred homophobes who study online with Professor Turley pretend to care about democracy.  But it's not really a democracy, is it, if you're threatening violence because you don't want people to have the option of buying clothing?  That's reality and it's not an angle Turley is going to share with his cult or, for that matter, that FOX "NEWS" plans to share.  Target clearly noted threats of violence to the staff.  But here's FOX BUSINESS "NEWS" 'covering' the topic and leaving that threat out.  CNN could -- and did -- note the threats.  USA TODAY did as wellAP did as wellBLOOMBERG NEWS did it.    But not FOX "NEWS."  This is how FOX "NEWS" lies -- they don't present most stories and when they do present a story they lie and they leave out significant details.  A half-wit could park themselves in front of the TV, watch six hours straight of FOX "NEWS" and still be a half-wit when they turned the TV off.

A right-wing outlet (tiny and we're not promoting it) wants you to know that conservatives are "successfully" boycotting Target.  Homophobic conservatives don't shop there.  Try the Dollar General.  This is the same crowd -- small and vocal -- that Nancy Reagan sneered at (they were focused on ending abortion when she was First Lady) and this crowd buys beers and Fritos but, as demographics make very clear, they don't have the income to spend at Target.  Walmart is a big treat for them.  So, no, they're not "successfully" boycotting a store that they don't actually shop at.  If they did shop there, they would have noticed, years ago, that Target celebrates Pride every June.  Bad news for them, Walmart did last year too.  May have done so before last year but last year Walmart even offered a Pride ice cream. For this crowd, Dollar General and Dollar Tree and Dollar whatever are their go-tos. Again, that's demographics. This is the group that loved FOX "NEWS" but couldn't find it in their budget to pay for the streamer FOX NEWS NATION.  

This is a war on freedom carried out by the American Taliban.  They are not patriotic and they do not believe in democracy.  They're for tyranny and oppression.  

California Governor Gavin Newsom called out the war on the LBGTQ+ and hate merchant Marjorie Taylor thought her response was called for.

Good for Gavin.  As for Marjorie?  Yes, she is the space laser person.  Let's again note Chelsea Handler on MTG. 


Marjorie Taylor Greene: I have people come up to me and say crazy things to me out of the blue in public places that they believe because they read it on the internet.

Chelsea Handler:  Well if that's not the pot calling the kettle QAnon.  This woman thought 9/11 was a hoax, that the Clintons killed JFK Jr. and that Jews are in charge of space lasers.  But please, don't come at her with some crazy ideas -- she might believe them. 

Crazy Marjorie will continue attempting to destroy this country.   Paul Rudnick noted Crazy Marjorie this week.

This is not about helping the kids.  It's not helping children, first of all, but that's just their cover story. 

Amid recent, highly publicized conservative backlash to several corporations partnering with LGBTQ+ artists and activists, two far-right commentators are saying the quiet part loud: Their goal is to make support for the LGBTQ+ community “toxic” to brands.

On Wednesday, Matt Walsh, a host for far-right media outlet The Daily Wire and one of the most virulently anti-trans voices in the country, kicked off a tweet storm about recent calls to boycott brands like Bud Light and Target by explicitly outlining what he says has been the goal from the start.

“The goal is to make ‘pride’ toxic for brands,” Walsh tweeted. “If they decide to shove this garbage in our face, they should now that they’ll pay a price. It won’t be worth whatever they think they’ll gain. First Bud Light and now Target. Our campaign is making progress. Let’s keep going.”

On his own Daily Wire show, host Michael Knowles reiterated Walsh’s point. “This has been the point that has been building for months now, which is we need to make that symbol toxic, the Pride flag symbol, we need to make that toxic,” Knowles said. “We need to have companies think twice about it.”

“Everyone was talking about the Dylan Mulvaney incident as being harmful to the Bud Light brand,” he continued. “That’s true. But more importantly, it was harmful to the Dylan Mulvaney brand. Now, other companies are going to think twice before sponsoring Dylan Mulvaney because they don’t want to lose $6 billion in market cap in two days. That’s what we got to do. And then once we make these things culturally toxic or as we’re making these symbols culturally toxic, we’ve got to bring in the cavalry, we’ve got to come back in with more political force to ban some of this stuff and to say no.”

The Bud Light debacle started in early April, when the beer brand partnered with Mulvaney, a trans influencer and popular target for anti-trans trolls, sending her a one-off commemorative beer can with an image of her face on it. Transphobes both online and in the media quickly called for a boycott of parent company Anheuser-Busch’s products. The corporation’s lackluster response to the backlash drew criticism from the LGBTQ+ community and led the Human Rights Campaign to downgrade Anheuser-Busch’s previous 100 percent rating on the organization’s corporate equality index.

On Wednesday, Walsh also tweeted that, “The Bud Light boycott will prove to be one of the most significant conservative victories of this decade. It was never just about Bud Light. It was about sending a message.”

This is a war declared by the American Taliban.  

Acceptance of gays and lesbians has increased and most Americans grasp that.  So these hate merchants seized upon the "T" and worked overtime to lie and scare the easily frightened over transgender persons and pretend that there are all these five-year-olds having gender surgery.  

They lied -- and they were helped by THE NEW YORK TIMES and other outlets -- and they've scared a country.  

And on the left we get idiots like Max Blumenthal's wife offering smears on transgendered person because the left doesn't want to her February event which was putting a convicted pedophile on stage.  Grasp that Mrs. Blumenthal can't defend transgender people (and has a pinned Tweet attacking them at the top of her feed since February) but she will gladly share the stage with a convicted pedophile who was sent to prison.  

And, of course, Marjorie had the pro-pedophile working for her.  These anti-Trans people are the ones hanging around with child molestors.  

This war is doing great harm.  Applause for Gavin and everyone who is standing up right now.  Shame on those -- especially if you claim to be left -- who are silent or, even worse, encouraging this war.  Daniel Villareal (LGBTQ NATION) reports:

A cisgender mother helping her cis disabled son use the restroom was prevented from entering a Kansas library’s women’s restroom with him, even though they’ve done that for years. The mother thinks that the state’s recently passed anti-transgender bathroom bill is to blame, but the library has called the incident “a mishandled customer service moment.”

On May 20, Karen Wild entered a women’s bathroom in the Wichita Public Library’s central branch with her son, Ellis Dunville. She was assisting her son, who is on the autism spectrum, has a seizure disorder, and is nonverbal, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

A male security guard told her that her son couldn’t enter the restroom. Wild said they had used the women’s restroom together for years without any issues. However, she also noted that another person in the women’s restroom objected to her son’s presence.

Shortly after, a female library employee entered, said the library had policies regulating restroom use, and asked Wild if she and her son could use the building’s gender-neutral family restroom, which Wild never knew existed.

Wild told the aforementioned publication that she suspected the incident might have occurred because the legislature recently passed S.B. 180, a law that bans trans people from using bathrooms and other facilities matching their gender identity.

“There isn’t anything I can think of that has changed except that they heard about that law and decided they needed to be emboldened by it somehow,” she said. “I can’t explain it any other way.”

Let's turn to Iraq.  BBC NEWS notes:

The Duchess of Edinburgh has become the first UK royal to visit Baghdad - as part of her work to support survivors of sexual violence in conflict.

Buckingham Palace said Sophie had spent two days in Iraq's capital to learn of the challenges women and girls face.

She visited a girls' school to hear from pupils about their education.

After meeting Iraq's women young and old, Sophie visited President Abdul Latif Rashid and prime minister Mohammad Shia Al Sudani.

She was praised for being the first member of the Royal Family to visit Baghdad by the UK's ambassador to the country, Mark Bryson-Richardson, whom she spent most of the trip with.

Sophie, who gained the title of Duchess of Edinburgh when her husband Prince Edward took on a new role in March after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, has said in the past that she is passionate about supporting women and gender equality around the world.  

Really not sure what to say here.  First, Sophie's visit brings attention to Iraq and that is a good thing.

But there's more than just that.

Why are we supposed to be enthused?  The current king of England visited Basra in 2009.  

More the point, England destroyed Iraq as much as the United States did.  Are we ignoring that as we rush to celebrate a ruling class figure visiting the country they destroyed?

+ As most readers of Roaming Charges know, I’ve been skeptical of Seymour Hersh’s reporting on the sabotage of the Nordstream pipelines. Some of his initial assertions were easily disproved and others seemed highly speculative and thinly, very thinly, sourced.  Hersh’s narrative was problematic and antiquated. One of the most glaring issues to me was: why use scuba divers, like something out of a 70s Bond movie, which require decompression tanks and conspicuous naval support, when you could deploy the weapon de jour: underwater drones controlled by a joystick and a laptop? Now comes James Bamford, an intelligence reporter whose credentials are at least as accomplished as Hersh’s (and somewhat less tarnished), with a detailed and persuasive account in The Nation that explains how it’s much more likely that Ukrainian intelligence operatives, trained in underwater demolition techniques by the Brits and the US, blew up the pipelines using submersible drones, with the probable assistance of Poland.  Where Hersh is vague, Bamford is specific. Where Hersh relies on a sole anonymous source, Bamford meticulously builds his piece from documents. Bamford explains in compelling detail how it was done, the kind of drones used and why both Ukraine and Poland wanted to take the pipelines out. Bamford also suggests that both Russian and US intelligence knew that a plot in was the works and that the US kept quiet because the sabotage had been committed by its allies. This is deeply informed journalism and also a terrific read.

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