Katie Halper

# MSNBC’s anti-Sanders bias is getting truly ridiculous

When MSNBC legal analyst Mimi Rocah (7/21/19) said that Bernie Sanders “made [her] skin crawl,” though she “can’t even identify for you what exactly it is,” she was just expressing more overtly the anti-Sanders bias that pervades the network.

The hostility is so entrenched, in fact, it seems to have corrupted MSNBC’s mathematical reasoning and created a new system of arithmetic. The cable news network has repeatedly made on-air and online mistakes about Sanders’ polling and other numbers—always to his detriment, and never with any official correction.

Here are some new rules MSNBC seems to follow when it comes to math and Bernie Sanders.

### 1. 49 < 48

Result: Sanders goes from second to “fourth” place.

MSNBC made a handy graphic for a poll on July 7 that showed 2020 match-ups against Trump among Democratic voters. The list was in descending order of candidates’ polling numbers—except for Bernie Sanders, whose name is placed under Warren’s and Harris’s, though he polls higher than both of them. (If the list is ordered by the margin between the candidate and Trump, Sanders would be in third place, behind Harris.)

### 2. 5 >7

Result: Sanders goes from second to “third” place.

Lest you think this was an isolated incident, MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki placed Sanders’ name below Warren’s on July 15, when he was “reporting” on a poll put out by the Washington Post and NBC (MSNBC’s parent company.) Once again, the order of the names is descending by poll numbers—except for Bernie Sanders’, which is, once again, placed below where it should be. This time, Sanders is placed below Warren, though he polls higher than she does (both in the percentage who say they would vote for each candidate and the spread over Trump). This same order is used in the online story’s headline (7/14/19), which says, “Trump Trails Biden, Warren and Sanders in New NBC News/Wall Stree Journal Poll.”

But it gets worse. It was misleading to have Sanders’ name after Warren’s in the graphic, but an absolute error or lie to say Warren was second, which Kornacki, who was talking about a poll conducted by his own company, did. I had to re-watch the video to make sure I wasn’t missing something, but Kornacki does indeed say (at 1:09): “Elizabeth Warren, she’s been running second place, she is running second place on the Democratic side. She leads Trump by 5 points.” Then Kornacki shows the person who is actually in second place and says, “Bernie Sanders, he leads by 7 points.”

### 3. +5 = -5.

Result: Sanders “loses” ten points.

Meet the Press’s Chuck Todd (5/24/19) showed a graphic claiming that Sanders had gone down 5 points in a Quinnipiac poll. Todd got the absolute value right, he just got the value sign wrong: Sanders didn’t go down by 5 in the poll, he went up by 5 — a 10-point difference.

### 4. 25 = 28

Result: Sanders goes from first to “second” place.

After an April Monmouth poll showed Sanders polling at 27 percent among non-white voters and Biden polling at 25 percent, Velshe and Ruhle (4/29/19) showed a graphic which somehow added three points to Biden’s numbers, putting him in “first” place.

### 5. Less than \$200 = 0

Result: Sanders goes from a candidate with one of the best records with female donors to one of the “worst.”

Rachel Maddow on April 29 did a segment (and tweeted) about a study on the gender of campaign donors. Unfortunately, she forgot to say the study she cited only looked at donors who gave \$200 or more. After praising Gillibrand for “doing the best in terms of targeting female donors,” Maddow urged her viewers to

look at the other end of the spectrum! Just strikes me as unsustainable. Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg…. Look at them! Both of them are raising twice as much money from male donors as they are from female donors. 66 and 67 percent of your donations are from dudes? Dude!

The same Open Secrets report Maddow was citing explained that its results were skewed: Since

Sanders has the  highest amount of money coming from small donors…at 74 percent…[and] generally only donations above \$200 are itemized…the gender landscape of small donations are absent.

In fact, according to Sanders’ communications director, 46 percent of the 525,000 people who contributed to Sanders’ campaign during the first quarter were women. “It is virtually certain,” she tweeted, “that more women have donated to our campaign than any other.”

Rachel Maddow: You’re a Rhodes scholar, have a nightly news show, earn \$7 million a year, and missed or failed to disclose that the study only looked at wealthier dudes and dudettes? Dude!

### 6. 23 minutes = 5 minutes

Result: Sanders goes from highlighting his opposition to racism and sexism  to “not mentioning” them.

In March, MSNBC’s Alex Whit hosted a panel to discuss Bernie Sanders’ March 2 campaign kickoff speech.  Panelist and MSNBC political analyst Zerlina Maxwell said: “I clocked it. He [Bernie Sanders] did not mention race or gender until 23 minutes into the speech.”

As Sanders surrogates, journalists, organizers, activists and people on Twitter pointed out, Sanders most definitely mentioned race and gender  five minutes into his speech, when he said “the underlying principles of our government” will “not be racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and religious bigotry.” Sanders starts his speech 31 seconds after he gets on stage so, to be charitable to his critics, he doesn’t mention gender or race until 5:31.

Maxwell, a former Hillary Clinton staffer, though MSNBC didn’t mention that when they introduced her, did delete a tweet which had said, “OK 23 minutes in Bernie finally mentions race and gender.” But she was far from contrite:

I’ve rewatched since yesterday and while I can acknowledge that I missed the passing line at 6 minutes I stand by my point since talking about criminal justice is not the same thing as talking about race and gender and if you don’t get why Bernie won’t win….again.

Sanders spoke about race and gender outside of the context of criminal justice, which anyone who watched or rewatched the speech would know. But accuracy seems not seem not to be the point so much as it is putting down a candidate who makes your “skin crawl,” for reasons that you can’t quite explain. Citizens, including the ones MSNBC claims to speak for, deserve better.

# Journalists Matt Taibbi and Aaron Maté explain how the Russiagate narrative helped Trump

The claim that President Trump engaged in collusion with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election was so pervasive and unquestioned that only a handful of journalists demonstrated the healthy skepticism required by their profession. Last week, special counsel Robert Mueller delivered his report on the Trump-Russia investigation to the Justice Department, which then released a four-page summary written by Attorney General William Barr. While the full report is over 300 pages, and Mueller punted on the question of obstruction, he found no evidence of collusion. Despite this, the “Russiagate” truthers, if you will, are doubling down on the Russiagate narrative, moving the goalposts to focus on the possibility of obstruction of justice and conveniently ignoring that the collusion that was so central to their theory has not been established.

A sad irony is that the Russiagate narrative, which so many people clung to in an attempt to bring down Trump, only helped him. Actual occurrences that could have undermined Trump’s authority and damaged his reputation were ignored as much of the media and political class focused almost exclusively on a literal conspiracy theory that does not resonate with the voter base that stayed home on Election Day or the Obama-to-Trump voters. Surely, Trump has done awful things, coverage of which could get out the vote and galvanize opposition. But the Russiagate obsession perpetuated Trump’s narrative about being picked-on by a media that peddles fake news and a political elite that represents the status quo. Trump was able to come off, once again, as the outsider who takes on the establishment, which in turn persecutes him. And now that the Mueller report has said he didn’t collude with Russia, he’s celebrating.

In a recent episode of my podcast, I spoke with two journalists who pushed back on the Russiagate narrative: Aaron Maté, contributor to The Nation and former host and producer for “The Real News” and “Democracy Now!,” and Matt Taibbi, the award-winning Rolling Stone journalist and author of four New York Times best-sellers. They weighed in on the way Russiagate benefited Trump, undermined journalistic integrity and thwarted a real resistance.

Editor’s note: A transcript, lightly edited for clarity, follows the podcast player embedded below.

Katie Halper: Congratulations, by the way, to both of you, on your skepticism.

Matt Taibbi: Well, this is going to continue for years and years and years, so it’s a little early to be doing a touchdown spike, I think.

Aaron Maté: The only actual victory here is Trump’s. Because, as we’ve been warning for two years, focusing on this conspiracy theory was only setting up the resistance for failure, because the evidence wasn’t there. And eventually the facts had to come out. Mueller just did that with his verdict, and now, of course, Trump is understandably, and as we predicted, using this for his re-election campaign. So the only possible victory here for politics and journalism is if there’s accountability: on the journalism front, if we learn how to follow the facts, not a narrative that benefits ratings and gets us clicks; and in politics, it would be to actually learn to start becoming a real resistance, mounting opposition to Trump based on opposing his policies, not based on believing in this fairy tale.

KH: Where are we right now in the Russiagate investigation?

AM: Where we are is that the conspiracy theory has collapsed. For two years, the dominant narrative has been that Trump is in cahoots with Russia, engaged in a conspiracy with them, is compromised by them, and that Robert Mueller was going to uncover it. He was going to uncover the smoking gun. And Robert Mueller has just rendered his verdict, and he didn’t. He found no evidence of a Trump-Russia conspiracy. That’s no surprise to those of us who looked at the available evidence, which is what journalism is supposed to do. You go based not on where your imagination takes you but what the actual facts tell you. And the facts from the beginning told us a very clear story: that the case for this Trump-Russia collusion theory was just not there.

AM: This result was not a surprise at all, based on the available facts and just the plausibility of the underlying theory to begin with—that this reality-TV show host who didn’t even look like he thought he was going to win [the 2016 presidential election] engaged in a conspiracy with Russia or that he was compromised by Russia. It just wasn’t there. It didn’t make sense as an idea, and it didn’t make sense based on the facts we knew. So my prediction was always that there would be zero indictments for the claims of a Trump-Russia conspiracy but that Mueller might throw those who were hanging onto that idea a bone, especially because there was so much put on his shoulders. He was turned into such a revered thing. And he does come from the D.C. establishment, who does resent Trump, not for the reasons you and I do, and listeners might, based on his actual harmful policies, but because they think he’s a crude representative of the establishment.

KH: Given that Mueller found no evidence of collusion, can we still even revere him? Can we still even believe that he wears Brooks Brothers suits?

AM: That was part of the PR campaign to revere Mueller and paint him as this saintly figure and talk about what clothes he wears and his background. And that was at a time when everybody thought he was going to deliver a verdict that Trump had committed treason. Now that Mueller has delivered the opposite verdict, now that he’s not being glorified in this way, there’s even an article in The New York Times saying that some Democrats are reconsidering their act of putting him on a pedestal.

But my prediction was Mueller would throw them a bone. And I think—this is my theory here—that that’s what Mueller’s decision was when it comes to obstruction, because he didn’t make a decision on that. He basically left it open, which then leaves it open to speculation. It’s strange for a prosecutor to defer like this after a two-year investigation. I think that punting on obstruction was Mueller’s way of leaving something open that people could hang on to while still not giving them anything. Because, of course, if Mueller actually thought that Trump had committed obstruction, he could have alleged it.

KH: Some people think that if you question the Russiagate narrative, you’re somehow helping Trump or are trying to cover for Trump or to downplay how destructive he is.

MT: In March 2017, I wrote an article saying this story is a minefield for the Democratic Party and particularly for journalists, because Trump had made it such an important part of his message that journalists were out to get him, that they were representatives of the elite who would stop at nothing to undermine this presidency. And to me it seemed the only way we could possibly lose with the public in a contest with someone like Trump is if we completely abdicated the standards of the profession and did what he accused us of doing, which would be politicizing our jobs and using trumped-up evidence to try to make him look bad. That was the one option out of an infinite number of ways we could have pursued covering his presidency. That was the one thing that could have really helped him. And we did it. Not only did we do it, but we did it, basically, to the exclusion of everything else, for years.

KH: What were some of the important stories the public was deprived of?

AM: Literally everything. I remember watching Rachel Maddow the day that Congress had taken a huge step forward toward taking away the health insurance of millions of Americans. I think she gave it around 30 seconds and then moved onto some element of the conspiracy theory that ended up being debunked. MNSBC didn’t mention Yemen for I think about a year.

KH: Where in Russia is Yemen?

AM: At a time when the U.S. was taking part in a genocide and killing tens of thousands of people through the Saudi bombing campaign and the famine that that campaign was causing. And one of the most crucial things it ignored was the serious escalation of tensions between the U.S. and Russia that Trump was overseeing through carrying out policies that were far more hawkish than Obama, which we haven’t focused on, partly because they’re supported by the bipartisan foreign consensus in Washington, which the media generally goes along with, but also because to acknowledge those policies, to look at them seriously, would undercut this idea that everybody bought into that Trump was doing Putin’s bidding.

MT: There was a very telling story for me. Every year the Pentagon is responsible, under each year’s National Defense Authorization, to submit a memo that’s usually not made public on which countries we have active combat operations in. And I believe it was in early 2017 that they released one that said we had active operations in seven countries. So I did a little story basically saying, hey does anybody notice we’re at war in Niger and Somalia and Yemen and Syria and Afghanistan? Just the idea that we’ve started new military campaigns, and that this can fly completely under the radar with the public because of the Russiagate story, just speaks to the enormity of the story and how much oxygen it took up. It took up everything. We didn’t have time for anything else.

KH: There was a lot of goading and mocking of Trump by Democrats who claimed he was in bed with Putin politically or even his boyfriend. How much did this provide cover or even incentive for Trump to be more hawkish?

MT: One of the things I said in one of these pieces was that in terms of activism in the next four years, the most important thing is to keep Donald Trump away from any kind of decision that would involve nuclear combat. That would be the number one consideration that anyone should make. Even though Trump likes to think of himself as great at war, he does have this sort of natural reluctance to get into military conflicts politically.

So, he talked about getting out of Syria, and we should have been encouraging that. No matter what you think about Syria or what you think our policies should be there, the reality is that the commander in chief that we have is not the person you want to be sending troops into a combat zone where there are Russians on the other side. The Russian-American troops are sitting across the Euphrates River from each other, and a couple of bad drunken incidents could trigger nuclear combat.

KH: You have people saying that Trump is a megalomaniac with dementia who’s erratic. And the same people say that Putin is a megalomaniac and evil. And they both have their finger on the button. And these people want Trump to ratchet things up with Putin. So what is the endgame that they imagine?

AM: They imagine no endgame. This whole thing is incoherent. They were accusing Trump of doing Putin’s bidding while he consistently does the opposite: tries to overthrow Putin’s ally in Venezuela; bombs Putin’s ally in Syria twice; pulls out of the [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] Treaty, basically setting off a whole new nuclear arms race. So basically, the actual endgame in real life is existential peril, because we are risking nuclear accidents and the threat of war based on these hawkish policies. But that doesn’t matter to those who profited off of the Russiagate narrative, like the failed neoliberal, Democratic elites, who needed an excuse to cover for the fact that they lost to Donald Trump; FBI intelligence officials who opened up this investigation on very specious grounds and who suspected Trump, in part, because he was saying nice things about Vladimir Putin. And whether you agree with that or not, to lay that as a predicate for a counterintelligence investigation is just extraordinary. Then there was the media, which, of course, got a lot of ratings and clicks by spinning this spy thriller.

MT: I think there was an element of Russiagate, and still is, that does have a logic to it. it’s a very dark logic. If you saw what happened in 2016, the political situation was that the ruling neoliberal consensus was under fire from all sides, from radical right movements both in the United States and in Europe; from leftist movements, both in the United States and Europe. The overwhelming voter sentiment everywhere had to do with the rejection of the international global consensus. You saw votes like Brexit, a complete repudiation of a number of things. But Russiagate as a political solution, as a response to that electoral phenomenon, has been extraordinarily effective. Because what it’s done is it’s completely changed the attitude of a huge portion of the population, which now sees the international security services, the global consensus, as the only saviors who are going to rescue them from the evil Trump. And therefore, we have to pursue this case and celebrate authoritarianism and celebrate the FBI and CIA and their heroism, and the European Union and NATO. This story has had some benefit from a propaganda perspective as well.

KH: So, is the idea that the intelligence community will act as the adults in the room and stop Trump from getting his finger on the button?

AM: Well, that was part of this narrative—that we’re supposed to revere and trust in these intelligence officials, forgetting their actual record, which includes giving us one of the biggest crimes in recent memory—the Iraq War. They’re the ones who spun the phony intel about [weapons of mass destruction]. And also promoting this notion that fundamentally undermines the idea of democratic government, where it’s the elected president, whether you like that person or not, who’s supposed to make the decision, not unelected intelligence bureaucrats.

And to illustrate Matt’s point about how this diverted liberal energy, let’s look at one of the biggest protests of the Trump era. It was not over Trump taking away health care, it was not over Trump and the GOP pushing through this tax cut that was, I think, the biggest upwards transfer of wealth in U.S. history. It was to protect Robert Mueller. We had marches in Times Square and D.C. and all over the country about protecting Mueller. Protecting Robert Mueller from this threat people perceived him to be under. That, all of a sudden, was one of the biggest causes for a massive national rally, instead of what Trump was actually doing?

Compare that to what we saw in the very first days of the Trump administration. We saw the Muslim ban. That was before Russiagate totally took over. We saw people going to airports, standing up to this very cruel Trump policy and doing something about it. Where was the energy ever since then? There’s a strong correlation between the rise of #RussiaGate throughout the resistance and the decline of the activism we saw right before Russiagate fully exploded.

KH: Who were the worst Russiagate players in the media?

AM: There are too many to name.

KH: We could have a 24-hour marathon where we go through all of them.

MT: The central figure is Rachel [Maddow], unfortunately. I knew Rachel going back [to] the Air America days. We used to be friends. I always thought she was smart, funny, skeptical. We had some things that we disagreed about, especially on things affecting the military. I’m more of a pacifist that she is. But this transformation where she became this character on television—it’s like something out of this Andy Griffith movie, “A Face in the Crowd,” like a modern-day Glenn Beck act. It’s been shocking to watch her embrace that role in the way that she has. It’s been very scary to me. I don’t know what you think, Aaron.

AM: I wrote a piece two years ago at The Intercept about how she covered Russiagate above everything else, in a way that was ignoring all the countervailing evidence that undercut her conspiracy theory. I noted what a tragedy it was, because I’ve always thought she’s a really gifted journalist. She was dubbed the smartest person on TV, and I think there was a time when I probably found that plausible. I used to be a fan of hers.

But you can’t ignore the reality that she’s become, which is just a straight-up propagandist who has not interviewed a single dissenting voice and not acknowledged any of the countervailing facts. I actually tuned into her show Monday night, her first show since the summary of Mueller’s findings were released, and after more than two years of promoting this idea of a Trump-Russia conspiracy, she gave the Mueller finding that there was no Trump-Russia conspiracy 30 seconds, and then she moved on to obstruction for the rest of the hour. Now, of course, obstruction is a thing that Maddow and everyone else who promoted the Russia conspiracy are going to cling to now in an attempt to cover up the fact that their conspiracy theory failed.

MT: The cable stations have played a very particular role in this, which has been to scare people. All propaganda works on multiple levels, but there has to be an emotional component in order for it to really sell. You have to be able to turn people’s minds off when it comes to this stuff. So the combination at work here was the emotional devastation of liberal audiences. People were crushed when Trump was elected. People likened it to 9/11 or losing a family member. It was a combination of that plus being told over and over again, “We are under attack … there are Russians in our midst … you may not even be aware of them … they may be working in your office … they may turn off your heat in the middle of the winter.” People on some level register this stuff, and it turns their minds off to alternative possibilities. And that is a particularly low form of media activity. And they didn’t just indulge in it; they turned it into an art form with this story. And that was shocking to watch, too.

AM: I’ll never forget Maddow did a segment where she’s talking about some alleged Russian trolls interfering on Bernie Sanders’ fan club page, and she called it international warfare against our country, and so on. And I’ll never forget Rob Reiner, who helped set up this neocon Hollywood group called the Committee to Investigate Russia. Rob Reiner on MSNBC said that the Russians are in our bloodstream. So there’s a huge psychological damage.

MT: The New York Times did an infographic online, and they expanded on that theme and described the Russian threat as a virus that was literally taking over your body at the cellular level and changing your body chemistry. It’s a very elaborate graphic. And even intelligent people will be moved by this stuff.

AM: This didn’t start in 2016. Russophobia is in the bloodstream of American political culture. For decades, it’s been the Russians invading us and manipulating us and turning our young people into dupes, planting propaganda in our heads. That’s why this Russiagate thing could not have happened with any other country. There’s a reason we don’t hear about “Israelgate” or “Saudigate”. It survives on this very entrenched Cold War mindset that way predates 2016.

MT: Which is another reason why there was a lot of conscious conflation of the Russian Federation and the Soviet Union that went on. You can still today go on the Mother Jones website and see images of Vladimir Putin, but it will have a hammer and sickle next to it. The Jonathan Chait story that claims that he’s been an agent since 1987, when it was a different country. Donna Brazile talking about how the communists are dictating the debate. They want us to forget the distinction, because they want us to remember those archaic fears we had back in the days when the day after was the big scare story.

KH: As if the problem is that Trump is being influenced by a communist, as we can see from the redistribution of wealth.

AM: It was actually a Jonathan Chait-Chris Hayes story. Because after Chait came out with his story about whether Trump  wasa Russian military intelligence agent, then Hayes put Chait on his program that night, and they discussed it as if this was a serious prospect.

KH: Aaron, you’ve never been on MSNBC. Matt, when’s the last time you were on MSNBC?

MT: You know what’s funny? The last time I was on MSNBC was with Malcolm Nance to talk about this issue on Chris Hayes. I said something that I thought was a completely anodyne conservative comment, but which was that there’s multiple versions of this story. There’s a scenario where there’s some kind of foreign interference that went on. There’s another scenario where it went on and Donald Trump was involved with it. And I said those two stories—and I didn’t really get into the fact that it hadn’t really been established that the Russians had done it, but I said those two stories are orders of magnitude different. And the media has to make an important distinction between the two—that one doesn’t prove the other. And I was never invited on again after that.

AM: And when was that, Matt?

MT: That was in, I think, January of 2017.

AM: If that’s the date, that means that January 2017, basically right as Trump was taking office, was the last time someone who was skeptical of Russiagate from the left was allowed on MSNBC, because in December of 2016, I remember Ari Melber interviewed Glenn Greenwald. But that was the last time for Glenn. And if that was the last time for Matt, then that means that basically, throughout this entire affair, throughout Trump’s presidency, MSNBC has not allowed on a single dissenting voice. That’s extraordinary.

KH: That we know of. Because, since it’s in our blood, we could have had some Manchurian candidates on without even knowing it.

MT: The group that has publicly talked about this is so small that you can count us on basically two hands. We all know each other. We’re in constant contact with each other because we have to be. And nobody’s going to invite us on television.

AM: And what does that say about a political media culture, that it’s somehow a fringe position to question the conspiracy between the president and Russia, that that position is so fringe that you can count it on one or two hands?

MT: The press is like wildebeests. If 51 percent of the wildebeests decide to go one way, they’ll all go that way. That’s why you see those seamless transitions from thinking one thing one day, and then the next day, the new point of emphasis is going to be we need to see the entire report from Mueller. Then, once the report’s in, the new point of emphasis will be, “Why is there no obstruction charge, despite the fact that Mueller says there was no underlying crime?” And then there are going to be calls for a new investigation. They’re not going to let this go. It’s going to continue in perpetuity.

AM: Yeah. These people have invested so much into it that they’re forced to double down, and they’re already doing it. They can’t claim to be taken seriously as journalists. They’re basically, at this point, propagandists on this issue. Hopefully they can have time to focus on real issues. But they’ve painted themselves into a real corner, and it’s going to be kind of both sad and hilarious to watch how they continue to try to wiggle out of it.

KH: I feel gaslit. You must feel especially gaslit. I just interview people like you, but you guys are actually doing all the research and you guys are dismissed as conspiracy theorists, which is really ironic because you guys are skeptical of the conspiracy theory. How does it feel doing the work that you’re doing?

MT: I had it pretty easy compared to others—what the people who work at RT have gone through, for instance, is horrible. I can’t even tell most of the stories I’ve heard. But, for instance, I know one very talented person who worked at RT briefly years ago, long before any of this, and now can’t get work because of that one blip on the resumé. For me, these last three years for sure have been the most unpleasant of my career. I was regularly accused of being a foreign agent. Threats are normal in this business, but there were some especially weird things with this. I had somebody from one of these self-described Russia-watching websites call me up—on my unpublished landline number, on a Sunday—and offer to escort me to the FBI so I could give my confession. I think my experience was probably a little different from Aaron’s, because I work for a massive corporate organization, where I had the support of editors, at least. Still, it was difficult operating within those parameters, because I’m pretty sure everyone assumed I was crazy.

One thing that I felt pretty clearly was that even people I knew pretty well seemed to suspect I’d become a secret Trump supporter and this was how I was expressing it. So suddenly I was like the kid with lice. All of this stuff drove me a little bit crazy, to be honest. Again, I can’t stress enough: Other people went through things that were a lot worse: losing work, being condemned by colleagues—the academic, Stephen Cohen, went through a very tough time for instance, being removed from internet platforms—I’m talking especially about small websites that in many cases were family businesses where people had invested their life’s savings into their sites. Some I talked to had paid tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote their businesses on platforms like Facebook, only to be removed abruptly one day for “coordinated inauthentic activity.”

Again, all of this is small beans compared to problems people face in the real world, and under this administration, where immigrant families were separated. I wouldn’t want to even begin to compare. But in the press, when everyone feels the same pressure to avoid saying certain things, the tragedy there isn’t necessarily how hard it is for the individuals, but what it does to the business overall. You’ll end up with a landscape where everyone is saying the same thing and audiences are only hearing one thing, which is totally dysfunctional.

AM: Ultimately, what matters in journalism are the facts, and the facts were always on our side. My feelings don’t matter. Even though all these people are trying to attack you and marginalize you, I never took them seriously. As Matt said, it was so unpleasant, but it also was kind of amusing. And I felt sorry for them—that they were so in it. And I have been surprised that even after Mueller collapsed the conspiracy theory—I mean, it’s one thing if you don’t want to acknowledge people who got it right—but I saw leftist pundits who I respect coming out of nowhere to take shots at me and my colleagues and disingenuously accuse us of helping Trump and saying we were the ones fixated on this issue. And meanwhile, not coincidentally, these were some of the same people who got the story wrong. As Matt said, there are incentives to going along with this and conforming. And I just really respect Matt and others who never thought twice about doing their jobs: being real journalists and following the facts.

KH: I get that you’re saying it’s just feelings, Aaron, and that feelings don’t matter as much as facts. But I think it’s important for people to know, when they’re assessing the media, that there are all these incentives against doing what you’re doing and all these incentives to do what the Rachel Maddows are doing. So we’d have a lot more people speaking and writing the way you both are if there weren’t these incentives.

Thank you, guys, so much for being so relentless and fearless.

# Bible: 6 Ways Jewish Bernie Sanders Is More Like Christ, Christian Donald Trump More Like Anti-Christ

The following first appeared on RawStory.

Jewish Bernie Sanders is actually more Christian than Donald Trump, say several sources, including the Bible.

According to a North Carolina pastor, Bernie Sanders needs to schedule a meeting with Jesus Christ, some people’s lord and savior. When introducing Trump at a rally, televangelist Mark Burns the crowd, “Bernie Sanders… doesn’t believe in God, how in the world (are) we going to let Bernie — I mean, really?”

Burns then warned the senator, “Bernie’s got to get saved, Bernie’s got to meet Jesus. He’s got to have a coming-to-Jesus meeting.”

It is unlikely that Senator Sanders will have time in his busy campaigning schedule to fit in a Jesus meeting. But the good pastor can rest assured. Bernie Sanders, a secular Jew, is way more Christian than Donald Trump, an avowed Christian. I know what you’re thinking: how can anyone be more Christian than the Donald, who has faced persecution over his faith? Or why should the secular Jewess who is Katie Halper judge people’s Jesus-like status? What Christian cred does she have? Good questions.

But this is not, dear readers, my assessment. Bernie’s Christian behavior and Trump’s anti-Christlike behavior is the official judgement of the most authoritative Christian source out there, the Bible.  Let’s review the actual text and see where the three men fall on the issues, shall we?

1. Peace

Jesus Christ: I love it!

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” [Matthew 5:44]

Bernie Sanders: It’s the best.

How does it happen that we have a trillion dollars available to expand our nuclear arsenal, but we don’t have the money to take care of the children in this country? What that’s about … What all of this is about is our national priorities. Who are we as a people? Does Congress listen to the military-industrial complex who has never seen a war that they didn’t like? Or do we listen to the people of this country who are hurting?

Donald Trump: No thanks. As he bragged in his first TV ad, “he’ll quickly cut the head off ISIS and take their oil.” And here’s his plan for ISIL and its oil, which sounds pretty hard to achieve without major civilian casualties, lest you think his violence is limited to ISIL:

They have some in Syria, some in Iraq. I would bomb the s— out of ’em. I would just bomb those suckers. That’s right. I’d blow up the pipes. … I’d blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left. And you know what, you’ll get Exxon to come in there and in two months, you ever see these guys, how good they are, the great oil companies? They’ll rebuild that sucker, brand new — it’ll be beautiful.

2. Violence

Jesus: Turn the other cheek.

Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. [Matthew 5:39] I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despite-fully use you, and persecute you; [Matthew 5:44]

Sanders: Turn the other cheek and only respond as a last resort:

While we must be relentless in combating terrorists who would do us harm, we cannot and should not be policeman of the world, nor bear the burden of fighting terrorism alone. The United States should be part of an international coalition, led and sustained by nations in the region that have the means to protect themselves. That is the only way to defeat ISIS and to begin the process of creating the conditions for a lasting peace in the region.

Trump: Punch both cheeks! Torture and sucker-punching highly recommended. When a protester at a Nevada rally was escorted out, Trump said:

“Oh, I love the old days, you know? You know what I hate? There’s a guy, totally disruptive, throwing punches, we’re not allowed to punch back anymore. I love the old days, you know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out in a stretcher, folks. Oh, it’s true… the guards are very gentle with him… I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you.”

More recently, Trump actually offered to subsidize violence, telling his fans,

“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them… I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”

And Trump doesn’t support the use of water-boarding because it’s not violent enough.

“I would bring back waterboarding and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding… we should go much stronger than waterboarding. That’s the way I feel. Don’t tell me it doesn’t work — torture works.. . Okay, folks? Believe me, it works. Okay?”

3. Killing

Jesus: One of my biggest no-nos and against the death penalty.

Thou shalt not kill [Matthew 5:21]

Sanders: against the death penalty.

I am against capital punishment in general. I understand, and certainly for people who are mentally incapacitated who don’t know what they’re doing or what’s happening to them—I think people have been executed who were not even aware of what was going on, and that’s not something that a civilized nation should be engaged in. But in general, this is what I think. Look, there are people who commit horrendous, horrendous, horrendous crimes: we all know that. And we are furious at them, we can’t understand their barbarity. But I think, as with so much violence in this world today, I just don’t think the state itself, whether it’s the state government or federal government, should be in the business of killing people. So when you have people who have done terrible, terrible things they’re gonna spend the rest of their lives in jail, and that’s a pretty harsh punishment. But I’m against capital punishment.

Trump: More more more!

After the rape of a jogger in New York’s Central Park  Trump took out a full-page ad in four New York City newspapers saying,

“BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY!”

The men convicted for the crime wound up being exonerated, so had Trump had his way, that would have been five innocent men executed. Luckily, Trump hasn’t lost his faith in the need for capital punishment, let alone its morality. He promised a crowd,

One of the first things I’d do in terms of executive order if I win would be to sign a strong, strong statement that will go out to the country, out to the world, that anybody caught killing a policeman, policewoman, police officer, anybody killing a police officer: death penalty. It’s gonna happen. OK? We can’t let this go.

Also, he’s really into killing the family members of those he deems terrorists.  When asked, “How would intentionally killing innocent civilians set us apart from ISIS?” Trump said,

You look at the attack in California the other day — numerous people, including the mother that knew what was going on. They saw a pipe bomb sitting all over the floor. They saw ammunition all over the place. They knew exactly what was going on. I would be very, very firm with families. Frankly, that will make people think, because they may not care much about their lives, but they do care, believe it or not, about their families’ lives.

4. Greed

Jesus: Bad and give your money away if you want to get into heaven.

Truly, I say unto you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 19:23] You cannot serve both God and Money. [Matthew 6:24.] Paying Taxes and Separation of Church & State: Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. [Matthew 22:21]

Sanders: Bad, and though you don’t have to give all your money away, there needs to be a fairer distribution of wealth.

Teachers did not cause this recession. Firefighters and police officers who are being attacked daily by governors all over this country did not cause this recession. Construction workers did not cause this recession. This recession… was caused by the greed, the recklessness and illegal behavior of the people on Wall Street… It is not a radical idea to say that if somebody works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty.

And

It doesn’t mean to say everybody has the same income, everybody has the same kind of house, drives the same kind of car,” he said. “But what it does mean is that we’re a society based on justice, based on equality, based on fairness.

Trump: I’m very greedy.

I like money. I’m very greedy. I’m a greedy person. I shouldn’t tell you that, I’m a greedy – I’ve always been greedy. I love money, right?

5. Equality & Justice

Jesus: Pretty big deal.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. [Matthew 5:6] Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy [Matthew 5:7] But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. [Matthew 6:15]  But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just. [Luke 14:13 &14.] Public

Sanders: Very important.

We must pursue policies to transform this country into a nation that affirms the value of its people of color. That starts with addressing the five central types of violence waged against black, brown and indigenous Americans: physical, political, legal, economic and environmental.

Trump: All non-white U.S. citizens are equally undesirable, well, some are especially bad. Namely, Mexicans because,

the Mexican government is sending rapists, drug dealers, and criminals across the border… The fact is, since then, many killings, murders, crimes, money going out, drugs coming in — and I said, ‘We need to build a wall.’ And it has to be built quickly. I don’t mind having a big beautiful door in that wall so that people can come in legally, but we need Jeb to build a wall to keep illegals out.

and Muslims, who will be banned:

Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.

6. On Religion.

Jesus: I don’t practice Judaism, but I’m ethnically and culturally Jewish and I’m guided by one basic principle.

So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you. [Matthew 7:12]

Sanders: I don’t practice Judaism, but I’m ethnically and culturally Jewish and I’m guided by one basic principle.

Every great religion in the world — Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism — essentially comes down to: “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.” What I have believed in my whole life — I believed it when I was a 22-year-old kid getting arrested in Chicago fighting segregation — I’ve believed it in my whole life.

That we are in this together — not just, not words. The truth is at some level when you hurt, when your children hurt, I hurt. I hurt. And when my kids hurt, you hurt. And it’s very easy to turn our backs on kids who are hungry, or veterans who are sleeping out on the street, and we can develop a psyche, a psychology which is “I don’t have to worry about them; all I’m gonna worry about is myself; I need to make another 5 billion dollars.

But I believe that what human nature is about is that everybody in this room impacts everybody else in all kinds of ways that we can’t even understand. It’s beyond intellect. It’s a spiritual, emotional thing. So I believe that when we do the right thing, when we try to treat people with respect and dignity, when we say that that child who is hungry is my child, I think we are more human when we do that, than when we say “hey, this whole world is me, I need more and more, I don’t care about anyone else.” That’s my religion. That’s what I believe in.

And I think most people around the world — whatever their religion, their color — share that belief. That we are in it together as human beings. And it becomes more and more practical. If we destroy the planet because we don’t deal with climate change. Trust me, we are all in it together… and that is what my spirituality is about.

Trump: I’m so Christian I’m persecuted for it, but my daughter married a Jew and I negotiate like one. Addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition, Trump said,

I’m a negotiator, like you folks… Is there anyone in this room who doesn’t negotiate deals? Probably more than any room I’ve ever spoken.

Despite his strong finagling abilities, Trump is actually so strongly Christian, he faces even more persecution and discrimination than your average white Anglo Saxon Protestant living in the United States. Asked why he wouldn’t make his tax returns public, Trump explained he was being picked on (AKA audited) by the IRS. Why was he the victim of this accounting hate crime?

...maybe because of the fact that I’m a strong Christian.

If that doesn’t sound plausible to you, maybe you don’t know what it’s like to be a Christian and maybe you need to check your non-Christian privilege. But whatever you do, don’t judge the Donald too harshly. Ask yourself, WWJOBD? What would Jesus or Bernie do? To others as you would have them do to you.

# 12 'Memorable' Quotes From Antonin Scalia

Conservative Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, who spent decades warning the nation about the flagpole-sitting nature of homosexuality, died of natural causes on Friday at a luxury resort in Texas. He was 79.

Death is always sad. I feel bad for his family. And it’s not time to talk about politics. (Unless you’re a Republican who really wants to honor Scalia’s memory by using his death to push for a totally unheard of postponement of his replacement so it happens after Obama leaves office.)

But it might be time to memorialize the man through rounding up some of the most memorable things he ever said or wrote.

1.Homosexuality: It’s a lot like murder!  Romer v. Evans challenged a Colorado amendment which banned outlawing anti-gay discrimination (I know, I have a headache, too) in 1993. Justice Scalia expressed his sympathy for the people of Colorado, who wanted nothing more than to protect themselves from gay sex like they would from murder:

The Court’s opinion contains… hints that Coloradans have been guilty of ‘animus’ or ‘animosity’ toward homosexuality, as though that has been established as Unamerican. . . . I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible–murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals–and could exhibit even ‘animus’ toward such conduct.

2. Homosexuality: it’s a lot  like incest! The Supreme Court struck down a Texas ban on sodomy in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas. Amazingly, Scalia’s murder comparison had not convinced his colleagues of the danger posed by the gays. So he tried again. Only this time, with a different analogy.

States continue to prosecute all sorts of crimes by adults “in matters pertaining to sex”: prostitution, adult incest, adultery, obscenity, and child pornography

3. Homosexuality: it’s a lot like flagpole sitting! To his credit, Scalia would try, time and time again, to use the power of simile to enlighten his colleagues. Within the same dissent, he pointed out that not everything was a right just because it had once been illegal. The act he chose to use to demonstrate is a great American pastime:

Suppose that all the states had laws against flagpole sitting at one time [which they then overturned].Does that make flagpole sitting a fundamental right?

4. Legalizing same-sex marriage: nothing more than ‘fortune cookie justice.’  When the Court legalized same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, Scalia lamented that,

The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.

5. Legalizing same-sex marriage: nothing more than pretentious, egomaniacal ‘fortune cookie justice.’ In the same dissent, he described the majority opinion as being,

couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic.

6. ladies: not protected by the Constitution. Scalia didn’t limit himself to reactionary ideologies based on sexual orientation. Ironically, his bigotry embraced the diversity and equality that, he claimed, the Constitution lacked. During a 2011 interview with California Lawyer, Scalia said,

Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws.

7. Women: can’t live with em, can’t stand having to sit on The Supreme Court with them because they’re hysterical, shrieking, fetus-viability redefining banshees. Sandra Day O’Connor had already made the mistake of becoming the first woman on the United States Supreme Court. Then, adding insult to injury, she refused to join Scalia’s effort to overturn Roe v. Wade in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 1989. Always a gentleman, Scalia offered O’Conner some subtle and respectful constructive criticism, describing her reasoning as

“irrational,” and not to “be taken seriously.”

8. Blacks: better off in slower schools? During oral arguments in the still pending Affirmative Action case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, Scalia said, out loud,

There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.

9. Mexicans: Tequila-drinkers. When an attorney argued that his client didn’t have to be deported because he was already on parole, Scalia responded,

No one thinks your client is abstaining from tequila for fear of being deported. This is an ingenious exercise of the conceivable.

10. Voting rights: the result of peer pressure and popularity contests. During the oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, 2013, Scalia referred to voting rights as “perpetual racial entitlements,” the passage of which is,

very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.

I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act.

11. Executing intellectually disabled people: kosher. Interestingly, when it came to the death penalty, Scalia wasn’t as critical of  the kind of group think that tricks people into supporting voting rights. In his dissent in Atkins v. Virginia, 2002, which barred executing people with mental disabilities, Scalia defended sentencing retarded people to death because everyone is doing it!

The fact that juries continue to sentence mentally retarded offenders to death for extreme crimes shows that society’s moral outrage sometimes demands execution of retarded offenders.

12.  Executing innocent people: also kosher. Scalia he went so far as to argue that executing the innocent didn’t even violate the Constitution:

[t]his court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent.

So, if you’re feeling conflicted about Scalia’s death, don’t lose too much sleep over it. You probably feel guiltier over his natural death, than he ever did about the government-sanctioned killing he so enthusiastically supported.

# 8 Most Wildly Creative Responses to Donald Trump Insanity

It seems like every politician and countless celebrities have felt compelled to respond to Donald Trump's absurd and offensive statements about women, immigrants and Mexicans. But Trump may have also unwittingly caused an anti-Trump creative renaissance by inspiring artists to express their outrage through their media of choice. And there is certainly a market for it.

This month, Funny or Die and George Lopez released a video called Mexican Donald Trump, which has already gotten over 850,000 hits on YouTube and FOD alone. And over the past week, Trump piÃ±atas have been created and bashed all over the country.

Here are some the best creative and artistic responses to Trump to date.

1. The parody rap music video. The New York-based Latino comedy troupe Room 28 joined forces with the nonprofit organization Voto Latino Action Network to create a rap video which turns Big Sean’s hit “I Don’t F--- With You,” into an anti-Trump anthem called “I Won’t Vote for You.”  In the video, Trump (Jacob Berger) calls his chauffeur, (Jerry Diaz) by the wrong name and orders him to keep his “beady Mexican eyes on the road.” The chauffeur spends the rest of the video explaining, “I won’t vote for you. You keep saying stupid things, I ain’t voting for you. Your running isn’t funny anymore, I ain’t voting for you. There’s millions of Latino voices, Trump you’re through.”

2. The Trump piÃ±ata. At a piÃ±ata store in the border city of Reynosa, Dalton Avalos Ramirez created a papier-mache piÃ±ata of Trump. Ramirez, who displayed his first model in June, explained that the idea was inspired by “the hatred Trump expressed for the Mexican people.” And the feeling seems to be mutual, given that “people want to burn the piÃ±atas, they want to break them.” Various other artists have taken up the craft of the Trump piÃ±ata. A quick look at eBay reveals at least 10 different Trump piÃ±atas, ranging in price from from \$13.99 to \$205. St. Louis celebrated Mexican Independence Day by beating “El Trumpo” over the weekend and Trump piÃ±atas were selling like hotcakes in LA ahead of Wednesday’s GOP debate. And sure enough, a protester showed up outside the Reagan Library with a piÃ±ata.

3. The Donald Trump punching bag. For Trump haters with attachment issues, there is a great alternative to the use-once, wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am piÃ±ata: the Donald Trump punching bag. As Mexican-born 3D artist Fernando Sosa writes of his creation, “unlike pinatas, this guy collapses for portability and is re-usable unless you puncture him with something sharp.” The punching bags are selling at \$59.99.

4. The way-ahead-of-its-time Sesame Street video. Sesame Street has always been at the vanguard of pedagogy and education, so it comes as no surprise that the program was mocking Trump way before it was cool to do so. Back in 2005, the show skewered the real estate tycoon with the character Donald Grump, in an episode called “Grouch Apprentice." Oscar the Grouch’s “Grump! Grump! Grump!” cheer even foreshadows the cheering crowds that meet the Donald today at his political events. Donald Grump appears from out of a garbage can with bright orange hair and introduces himself as, “'Donald Grump, and I have more trash than any of yous so, na na na na na.” Within less than a minute he cans (pun intended) two characters with his signature, “you’re fired!” line.

5. The Donald Trump circus peanut. Showing his signature empathy, humility and firm grasp on reality, Donald Trump stated, “It's very hard for them [his female critics] to attack me on looks, because I'm so good-looking." So, it’s fair to say that Donald would describe himself as looking “good enough to eat.” And he’s not the only one to think that. Brooklyn-based Lauren Garfinkel included Trump in her edible government collection, which she describes as, “a culinary exploration of people and events that shape American politics, and a nod to the old adage, you are what you eat."

6. The piece of poop mural. Street artist Hanksy explained the process and inspiration behind the Trump mural he painted on Orchard Street in Manhattan in late August, by tweeting: “okay. so I started with the fact that Trump kinda rhymes with dump. but I think I'm just gonna paint him as a giant pile of s***.” And do he did, toupee and all.

7. The Donald Trump butt plug. To be fair, Trump wasn’t Fernando Sosa’s first butt plug muse. As he explained to me in an interview“The first one I did was of Putin…  wanted to ridicule Putin for his homophobic views. And since then I’ve been doing like Kim Jong-Un, George Bush, Marco Rubio, mostly homophobes, politicians and dictators.” So, what are you waiting for? Grab your butt plug now. Or, if that’s not your thing, check out the Donald Trump Poop Toupee, for \$29.99. This fun toy lets you play hair dress up with the Donald so you can see him bald, with his regular toupee, or with his Poopee.

8. The Trump porn. Back full circle and back to parody, there is Donald Tramp: The XXX Parody, which was released online by WoodRocket.com. In this film Dick Chibbles portrays Tramp and Trinity St. Clair plays a moderator. The Trump lines are fairly realistic:  “Welcome to one of my many homes built on poor people’s torn-down homes.” Asked about his alleged sexism, Tramp says, “I love women—except for the fat and ugly ones.” And he describes Bernie Sanders as looking “like an elderly Rick Moranis... He wants everybody to be healthy. He wants everybody to be educated. He wants everybody to have a decent wage. What a loser!”

Lee Roy Myers, who wrote and directed the porn parody, told the Daily Beast, “[Trump] can’t back up his statements with a point....The fact is that if a pornographer is calling him out on dumbing things down, I think people that support him probably need to take a second look.” Maybe Donald Tramp will move people to take that second look.

# Houston Cops Shoot Unarmed Black Patient in Hospital - and Then Charge Him With Assault

Alan Pean is a 26-year-old biology student with no criminal record or history of violence. But on August 27th, he was shot in the chest by an off-duty Houston police officer working as a security guard at the St. Joseph Medical Center. The police are claiming that Alan became combative and that they followed standard operating procedure. It’s Alan, they say, who is as fault, and they have charged with two counts of aggravated assault against a public servant. He was arraigned today.

According to the Houston Police Department’s statement,

Officers Ortega and Law were working extra jobs as security at St. Joseph Medical Center at the above address when they were summoned to the eighth floor to help nurses subdue a combative patient.  Once the officers arrived, the patient continued to refuse to comply with the nurses and officers’ demands.  The patient suddenly physically assaulted Officer Ortega, striking him in the head, causing a laceration.  At that time, Officer Law deployed his conducted energy device, which had no apparent effect on the suspect who continued to assault the officers.  Officer Ortega, fearing for his and his partner’s safety, then discharged his duty weapon, striking the suspect one time.

But the family and medical professionals are disturbed by the handling of Alan’s case and what looks like a failure on many levels. Alan had driven himself to the hospital the night of August 26, during an acute mental health crisis. When he got there, he crashed his car and was treated for those injuries. But the mental health issues, which were what brought Alan to the hospital in the first place, were ignored, according to the Pean family. Alan’s father, himself a physician, begged the hospital to get his son a psychiatric evaluation given that Alan had suffered a similar episode in 2009. But the hospital decided he was ready to be discharged, clearing him a mere minutes before the shooting. How did he go from being cleared to leave to so combative that only a bullet could protect two officers?

Medical neglect followed by the use of excessive force led to what could have very easily been a fatal shooting. Health care professionals have started a petition condemning the presence of guns in hospitals and the criminalization of patients and mental health patients in particular. It reads

Personally, we stand in outrage for every time he is referred to as “combative” without sub-clause or context, we stand in outrage for every time he is called a “suspect” instead of a patient, we stand in outrage for every time he, one empty-handed, help-seeking man, is painted as a threat to two officers, able bodied and armed, in a hospital.

Professionally, we have been trained in truth seeking and healing. As doctors and medical students, as nurses and care partners, we are trained in how to safely restrain and tranquilize patients, no matter how aggressive, or irritable, or anxious, or threatening they may be. Never is it appropriate or warranted for a patient to be tazed, never is it appropriate for a patient to be struck, never, never, never is it appropriate for a patient seeking care, to have their life threatened in our arms.

Personally and professionally, we are shaken by the reality of this epidemic of police brutality, in which no one– no son of a doctor, no college student, no tender-hearted soul of color remains immune. We stand with shaken hearts and rooted conviction, to speak our collective outrage for Alan Christopher Pean, our gentle friend, a 26 year old who was inexcusably shot in the chest by a police officer, while seeking care as a patient.”

Alan’s family is focusing on making sure this never happens again. Alan’s attitude is particularly inspiring and generous. He wrote on his Facebook page,

The anguish caused by trying to understand why (according to the hospital) this had to happen to me has only started. Is it because I look a bit different that I had to be shot without a second thought about my life or my personhood? I try not to think that’s the case, but I seem to find myself at that conclusion as I delve deeper into my case, as well as those similar to mine. I pray with all my heart that people change, and I have faith that we can for the better. I love myself, and I love humanity, but I don’t believe that humanity or American society willfully wants things to be this way…

So I will fight until I know every person seeking medical help will have his or her right to pursue a better life protected. Keep guns out of places of healing. Help stop this madness, and let’s make our society a better place. Where love and understanding falters, confusion and hate breeds.

Alan’s older brother, Christian, a 27-year old in his last year of year medical student at New York’s Mt Sinai School of Medicine, is concerned about Alan’s suffering and at the same time determined to protect others from a similar neglect and abuse. I spoke to him today after his brother was arraigned and he said,

This entire ordeal has been an absolute nightmare for Alan and our family. We’re trying to trust the system and hope that truth prevails, though the reality is that the system has failed us miserably at every conceivable juncture in this matter thus far. Our main focus is just making sure Alan doesn’t go to prison right now. From my perspective and my father’s perspective as healthcare professionals, the entire thing still has us completely beside ourselves.

However, at this time, all we can do is hope that Alan’s supporters continue to send love and compassion his way, and that we have more answers to how this could have happened, and how it can be considered appropriate in anyone’s eyes. We are of the belief that this should never happen to anyone again.

I also spoke to Christian on my radio show last week about guns in hospitals, how patients are usually dealt with (spoiler alert: not with guns) and the role of race and bias. Listen to the entire interview below. It starts at 5:56.

# ï»¿Comedians Debate: Is Amy Schumer’s ‘Trainwreck’ Sexist, or the New Feminism?

It’s hard to watch TV, go online, or even leave the house without encountering the deceptively cherubic face of comedian and filmmaker Amy Schumer. Sketches from her Comedy Central show, Inside Amy Schumer, are viral sensations; her HBO standup special, directed by Chris Rock, will air in October. She wrote and stars in the critically-acclaimed film Trainwreck, directed by Judd Apatow, which is raking it in at the box office. On Monday night, she appeared as one of Jon Stewart’s final Daily Show guests; earlier that day, Schumer held a press conference to announce her support for a plan championed by her distant cousin, Senator Chuck Schumer, to make it harder for criminals and the mentally ill to obtain guns. This comes on the heels of the July shooting at a Louisiana movie theater during a screening of Trainwreck, in which two women were killed and nine people were injured.

Amy Schumer’s stand-up and sketches tackle issues like birth control, abortion, rape, sexism, and warped female beauty standards with humor and fearlessness, positioning her as a feminist icon. And indeed, some critics and fans have hailed Trainwreck as a clever subversion of the typical romantic comedy plot. But others complain that it reinforces the rom-com narrative more than it challenges it. Schumer has also come in for criticism over her handling of race issues, both in Trainwreck and in her sketches and stand-up.

I talked about Amy Schumer’s comedy and its presentation of gender and race with writers and performers who themselves engage with these themes in a funny and thoughtful way. Laura Swisher is a stand-up comedian who worked as a producer for Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell and now works for The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. Gabe Pacheco is a stand-up comedian who co-hosts and co-produces Funhouse Comedy, a weekly stand-up comedy show in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and is a co-host on The Katie Halper Show on WBAI. Rae Sanni is a comedian and writer who co-hosts the It’s About Us podcast. Samhita Mukhopadhyay is the author of Outdated: Why Dating Is Ruining Your Love Life. Kate Levin is a writer of fiction and creative non-fiction, and faculty member of the University of Southern California, whose most recent piece, for The Boston Globe, reflects on being a teenage prank call addict.

Katie Halper: Let’s start with the argument that some of Amy Schumer’s jokes are racist. What do you think of that criticism—and Schumer’s response?

Laura Swisher: There are comics whose material I loathe and find offensive, and often times it’s because their material is racist and/or sexist and utterly lacking in craft. But if a comic can make me laugh, or surprise me, I give them a lot more leeway, even if individual jokes might be offensive. I’d put Schumer in the “give her more leeway” category.

Kate Levin: The most salient thing for me when I think about Schumer and race is the response she gave after a Guardian writer called her out for having a blind spot around this subject. In response to criticism of the joke, “I used to date Hispanic guys, but now I prefer consensual,” she replied, “It is a joke and it is funny. I know that because people laugh at it…. Trust me. I am not racist.” I like Schumer—some of the stuff on her show I like a lot—but her response doesn’t hold up to the tiniest bit of scrutiny. She knows what she said wasn’t racist because… it was funny and people laughed at it? People laugh at racist jokes all the time! She knows that. (People also laugh at stuff that isn’t funny all the time, which she knows, too.) So what could land a smart person in such a swamp of illogic?

Katie: I too was disappointed that Schumer’s response to being called racist was basically that a racist joke isn’t racist if it makes people laugh. But I was also disappointed, though not shocked, with how her critics have reacted. I don’t know why, but very nuanced and insightful people are often incapable of bringing that same nuance and insight to their analysis of comedy. All jokes that deal with race or racism are put into the same category, regardless of the comedian’s perspective. It’s as absurd as lumping together Schindler’s List and Triumph of the Will.

“Now I prefer consensual”—Latino men are the butt of that joke. She’s not highlighting an injustice. She’s not being subversive. But here’s another joke her critics call racist: “Nothing works 100% of the time. Except Mexicans.” Here, I don’t agree. One could argue that Schumer is trivializing the exploitation of Mexicans. But it seems to me a critique of the exploitation of Mexicans and our willingness to be ignore it. It’s Colbert-esque in the way it uses a lighthearted voice to draw attention to something serious.

Katie: What do you think about the way Trainwreck dealt with race and racism?

Rae Sanni: Trainwreck seems to try to “deal with” race, most obviously by including a character, Amy’s father, who casually makes racist jokes, and, more interestingly, through scenes like the one wherein we learn that Amy herself doesn’t have any black friends. Schumer plays with this quite a bit in her material, often making fun of clueless white women for their failure to acknowledge racial privilege. It feels hollow here, though, because while Trainwreck points out racism, it doesn’t actually do anything about it, and most of the racism we see from the characters goes unaddressed. The character Amy offers a photo of herself with a black waiter as proof of an interracial friendship, but she faces no real consequences for it. The handsome doctor she’s interested in mocks her, briefly, but his interest in her does not wane.

Samhita Mukhopadhyay: What frustrated me most about the depiction of race in Trainwreck wasn’t so much the lack of main characters of color as much as that the film ­went over the top being self-aware that there were no people of color. Does being self aware that you are bad at inclusion make the lack of inclusion any better? I left the theater thinking no.

Gabe Pacheco: First I want to heap on the praise. Trainwreck has cameos from stellar stand-ups Keith Robinson and Marina Franklin; Tim Meadows and Method Man are also in the film; LeBron James steals scenes as Bill Hader’s best friend. All these performers are examples of black excellence. But they are severely under-utilized. These fantastic artists and personalities are window dressing. Each of these roles could have been more fleshed out.

Worse is that fact that Schumer’s character is benignly racist.  She would never judge a black person negatively, but she doesn’t associate with black people. And her work buddy and confidant, played by Vanessa Bayer, fetishizes black men as sex objects.  Both these privileged white women live happily without ever having to examine their racism in any real way. Also, where are the Latinos in this movie? Let’s get a Danny Trejo in there, or Michael PeÃ±a.

Katie: Yas! More Michael PeÃ±a. In everything. But what I found most shocking was that in the scene where there is a very jump-cut heavy montage of all these men that Amy’s character is kicking out of her house, there wasn’t a single black man. I was surprised that casting didn’t have at least one black man in the mix. Not because that would show Amy the character or the writer to be a champion of racial justice, but because statistically, sleeping with that many men would likely involve sleeping with at least one black man.

Samhita: There is only one thing that needs to be said here: Give LeBron more acting roles. That might have been this movie’s most solid contribution to the rom-com cannon.

Rae: LeBron James is great in the film, though he’s relegated to the dude version of the Sassy Black Friend™ that exists solely to assist the white protagonist Aaron in identifying and accomplishing his goals. It’s also somewhat disappointing that Aaron’s black friends are all just athletes. No disrespect to athletes, but there aren’t any black doctors running in Aaron’s circles?

Katie: How do you view Trainwreck in relation to the conventional rom-com formula? And what do you make of the film’s depiction of Amy’s outlook on relationships, dating and sex?

Laura: Trainwreck is a feminist take on the rom-com. The traditional roles are reversed; the audience roots for the girl to pursue the guy. It’s Amy who must overcome her fear of intimacy or risk losing the love of her life. Plus, she has sexual agency, and verbalizes what she wants in bed. “Talk dirty to me,” she tells John Cena’s flustered Steven, who can only utter off-topic bromides like, “There’s no I in team.”

Katie: There is something subversive about letting the Matthew McConaughey role go to a woman!

Gabe: Amy is the pursuer; she has the power. We now get to see a female character objectify men. Could it be more progressive? Sure. Character Amy is not a sex-positive, self-actualized person having awesome and healthy sex with a bunch of people. Her encounters are alcohol fueled, one-sided, and don’t seem to be much fun for anyone involved. The content of the story is not progressive. Trainwreck is the story of a woman with a traumatic childhood and a dysfunctional family who finds a strait-laced successful guy and learns to be vulnerable with him. The narrative isn’t a radical departure from other romances. This is no roadmap to radical feminist liberation.

Kate: I agree: Amy’s character has more sexual agency and power than female characters are usually afforded in rom-coms. We see her being a player, invoking the “no sleepover” rule that’s more typically invoked by male characters (like Jon Hamm in Bridesmaids). I don’t see this as feminist but rather a pretty straightforward inversion. And as Gabe noted, these aren’t sex-positive, self-actualized people. But I didn’t walk into the theater looking for that.

Samhita: In portraying an exaggerated vision of the modern woman who is not just trying to settle down, but is busy and career focused, Amy’s character is relatable to a lot of women. It was nice to see the ambivalence a lot of women feel about love and dating given voice on the big screen. That said, what I didn’t love was that the suggestion that she was like that because she’s bruised on the inside. I think it perpetuates the idea that women who have sex outside of relationships just haven’t met the right man yet!

Gabe: Amy is portrayed as damaged, and the sex she has is depicted as empty. But it would be a shallow reading of the character to say her problem is the amount of sex she is having. The character’s problem is an inability to be intimate and vulnerable and to form meaningful relationships with her partners. Maybe I’m a utopian dreamer, but I believe that a world exists where people can have multiple sex partners and not be seen as a “trainwrecks.”

Laura: I think I’d like the film less if Amy’s character had a series of healthy, sex-positive one night stands. What impressed me was simply the fact that we got to see a woman on screen that wants and expects to be sexually satisfied by her partners. If this were any other rom-com, Amy’s character would be the slutty drunk girl. She’d be the girl that’s way less hot in the sober light of day, and the guy she slept with would have to find a hilarious way to ditch her. In Trainwreck we learn that the slutty drunk girl is actually more interesting than the guy who’s bummed he didn’t wake up to a super model.

Rae: I really liked the film, but it isn’t particularly subversive in its treatment of gender and sex and sexuality. Amy is a promiscuous alcoholic who eschews intimacy, and the movie is titled Trainwreck to ensure that the audience isn’t confused about how we are meant to see Amy and her choices. I mean, the opening scene frames Amy’s lifestyle as a manifestation of her daddy issues. There’s nothing new about the slut with daddy issues narrative. Trainwreck is ultimately the standard romantic comedy, though the gender role reversals make it a little more fun than a lot of other rom-coms. Scenes in which men immersed in the hypermasculine world of sports engage with their feelings are interesting, but they don’t necessarily mean Trainwreck is feminist or progressive.  After acknowledging that she is “broken,” Amy, who initially did not want a family, praises her sister’s domesticity, and chooses to be in a monogamous relationship with a man who has expressed his desire to have children in the near future. Traditional ideas about love and happiness prevail.

Laura: “Inside Amy Schumer” is one of the smartest sketch shows there is, and I hope its success prompts TV execs to seek out other strong, female comedians. And although I wouldn’t say Trainwreck is as groundbreaking as Schumer’s show, I thought she gave us an original take on the rom-com, if only because Schumer herself is original. So, no, she didn’t reinvent the genre with Trainwreck, but for audiences seeking a two-hour escape from reality, it delivers.

Katie: Some of you find the film not feminist or not that progressive. Would we ever ask a male comedian filmmaker to take on as much as we’re asking Schumer? Sure, she has a reputation as a feminist, so it makes sense for us to expect a more progressive movie from her than we would from your average rom-com star. But are we placing unrealistic demands on female artists that we wouldn’t make on male ones?

Rae: Some feminists and progressives place unrealistic and unreasonable demands on people. But Schumer has been praised for her feminism and she has embraced this role. So I don’t feel especially bad for her. On the other hand, she’s an individual and artist and entitled to self-expression.

Kate: I don’t think I am holding Amy Schumer to unrealistically high standards (comedically, politically, whatever) because she’s a woman. I expected more from her movie because her show can be so damn good. If Key and Peele’s Judd Apatow collaboration is as flat and predictable as Trainwreck, that will be a bummer, too. Same goes if Louis CK were to make a film that was just okay. That’s just how it is with artists who show you that they can be great—when they’re less great, you notice.

Samhita: No, I don’t think it’s unfair. Her whole thing is to be feminist and excoriate expectations around gender and male desire.

Gabe: I’m happy to see a smart, hard-working stand-up spread her wings and make a movie. Trainwreck is a solid first film. How fun would life be if we watched every single film and gave it the “Is it racist, is it homophobic, is it sexist,” test? Judging Trainwreck as a comedy, I’m more interested in, “Did it make me laugh?” For the most part, yes. The lines and performances worked. Usually rom-coms affect me like a couple pills of melatonin and a spoonful of Benadryl. I’d like to see Amy tackle another genre.

On [the hip hop podcast] Juan Epstein, co-host Peter Rosenberg said, “It’s the best comedic film debut since 48 Hours.” What I took from that is that Eddie Murphy got dropped into an action movie and made it sizzle. He brought comedy to a gritty, racially charged and threadbare plot. Amy is dropped into a genre film and by the end of Trainwreck she has established herself as a crisp writer, comedian and actor. A triple threat.

Katie: She dropped herself in, since she wrote it. Or she jumped in. Don’t deny her agency, Gabe!

# 13 Times It Sure Seemed Like Rick Perry Was High as a Kite on Drugs

Ah, Ricky Perry. It’s so nice to have him in the race! Perry is probably the most entertaining of all the terrible people fighting for the nomination, though it’s hard to keep track because there are so many and odds are another person will have signed up by the time I’ve published this post.

But here are some moments when Perry’s statements or affect were so off, it was hard to believe he wasn’t on drugs. And, this isn’t just hyperbole. One 2011 speech in particular provoked speculation that the Texas governor was taking pain medication, since he had undergone back surgery. As The San Francisco Chronicle reported, one clip captured on video,

described by some as bizarre and incoherent, shows Perry mugging, joking and playing with the audience as he describes New Hampshire’s motto, “Live Free or Die” as “cool” and appears to collapse in giggles over a gift of maple syrup.

Perry shrugged off the criticism and appeared flummoxed by the attention to the address.

“I’ve probably given 1,000 speeches. There are some that have been probably boring, some that have been animated, some that have been in between,” he said.

Responding to the suggestions by some political observers that the animated Perry may have been on pain medication for his past back surgery, the governor said: “No. I was just giving a speech.”

And he wasn’t drunk either!

“Asked about “The Daily Show” comedian Jon Stewart‘s suggestion that Perry looked like he had been drinking, the governor said, “It wasn’t that either.”

“It’s not that I wouldn’t love to sit down with Jon and have a glass of wine,” he said with a laugh, adding “if he’ll buy.”

I’m sure Jon would be down.

Without further ado, here  is Rick Perry appearing high as a kite on drugs, getting the voting age wrong, thinking Woodrow Wilson was alive ten years ago, and seemingly impersonating an effeminate gay man.

# How to Get a Vagina High: 4 Things We Learned About Sex This Week

From why we have sex in the first place, to marijuana lube for your lady parts, here's what we learned about sex this week.

1. If you have to cheat on a straight man....

David Frederick, an assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. wanted to look at the different ways people respond to sexual infidelity, which he defines as having sex but not falling in love, as opposed to emotional infidelity, or falling in love but not having sex. For the study, 64,000 Americans expressed via an online survey how they would respond to sexual and emotional infidelity. The participants also indicated their gender and sexual orientation (straight, bisexual, gay/ lesbian). Only one of the groups was more upset by sexual cheating than by emotional cheating. And that was...straight men! Fifty-four percent percent of heterosexual men were more upset by sexual infidelity, compared to 35 percent of heterosexual women. Sixty-five percent of straight women and 46% of straight men said they would be more upset by emotional cheating. For bisexual men and women as well lesbians and gay men, only around 30% would be more upset by sexual infidelity than emotional infidelity.

2. The mystery of why we have sex, solved at last.

As you may have noticed, humans reproduce sexually, while other species like jellyfish or plants can create offspring asexually. And for a while, scientists had a theoretical understanding of why. Fun factor aside, combining genetic information from two individuals is less efficient than doing it solo, but it’s healthier because as Jesse Hollister, a former University of Toronto post-doc fellow, puts it, "Asexual reproduction leads to a buildup of deleterious mutations over time; it's called Muller's Ratchet.” Of course! Muller’s Ratchet! Hollister explains, "The species' average fitness is reduced and they are less able to compete in the ecological arena than sexual species, so they have an increased probability of extinction."

But as any scientist knows, theories are great, but they don’t hold a candle to data. Thanks to Hollister we have empirical evidence backing the theory and the evening primrose. The evening primrose! Some evening primroses, or EPs as I like to call them, have evolved to reproduce sexually, while others reproduce asexually. In a totally incomprehensible process, Hollister and his colleagues were able to document that the EPs which produced sexually were healthier.

Ladies, the world is full of lubes and other products that promise to improve your orgasms and your sex life. And the world is also full of pot, which can relax you and thereby also improve your orgasms and your sex life. But how about a product that’s a lube, and gets your vagina high?

Enter Foria, an edible, coconut oil-based spray, which contains marijuana extract that can apparently “create the relaxation needed for sensual experience.” Just spritz some Foria on your lady parts 30 minutes before having sex. So far, the product is only available in California, but next week, it hits shelves in Colorado, thanks to the state’s legalization of pot.

Men can use it, but it won’t really do anything because they don’t have the vaginal membrane necessary for it to work. As Foria creator Matthew Gerson explains, the product draws on a long and rich tradition of vaginally introduced drug-taking: “Introducing medicines, compounds and different drugs through the vagina is something that both modern doctors and doctors throughout history have done.”

But Foria doesn’t get you high through your vagina; it gets your actual vagina high. Foria user and writer Amelia McDonell-Parry explains, “Your vagina will feel stoned. Just your vagina though....the best way I can describe it is the feeling you get when you take a hit, hold it in and then exhale, and then that warm, tingly, vaguely lightheaded feeling washes over you — imagine that feeling, but more subtle and constant, just in and around your vag.”

If vaginas could talk, they would probably tell Foria, “I love you, man.”

4. Men seeking relationships.

A new study shatters the myth that men are hardwired to prefer wham-bam thank-you ma’am. According to conventional wisdom, men are more interested in sex and women are more interested in relationships. According to conventional evolutionary psychology wisdom, this behavior is the result of biology: women have to be pickier about whom they sleep with because pregnancy and childbirth is kind of a big-deal investment, whereas ejaculating isn’t quite as much commitment.

But researchers from the University of Utah found some interesting results when they lived among the 13,000 Makushi people near the southwest border of Guyana with Brazil, who are expected to engage in premarital sex and then marry monogamously. Makushi live in villages of between 160 and 750, but the male-to-female ratios vary based on migration patterns. In urban areas, for example, the women outnumber the men, while men outnumber the women in mining, farming and logging areas. Anthropologists Ryan and Jacque Schacht studied the typical patterns of one-night-stand-seeking men and relationship-seeking women in areas with balanced male-to female-ratios and compared them to places where women outnumber men. It turns out that when women are scarce, men look for long-term commitment. Or, as Schacht says: "Commitment to a relationship is influenced by the availability of partners. So we can think of the number of men and women in a population as a potential mating market where the principles of supply and demand hold sway… when women are difficult to find, they become valued resources, so men will attempt to attract and maintain a single partner because it is costly to lose a partner when partners are rare."

So, ladies. If you’re finding that a good man is hard to find, get thee to a loggery.

# 45 Examples of Muslim Outrage About Charlie Hebdo Attack That Fox News Missed

Every time an extremist who is Muslim commits an act of terrorism, people ask where the moderate Muslim voices condemning violence are. (Interestingly, as a Jew, I don’t usually get asked to condemn extremism when it is perpetuated by Jewish fundamentalists like Baruch Goldstein, who shot 29 praying Muslims do death, and injured 125, at the Cave of the Patriarchs, or Yigal Amir, who killed Israeli Prime MinisterYitzhak Rabin.) And the same thing is happening following this week’s deplorable, pathetic, and tragic killing of 12 people at the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Not surprisingly, much of the “where is the Muslim outrage” outrage is coming from… Fox News, as Media Matters notes. Fox’s own Monica Crowley, for example, said that Muslims “should be condemning” the attack and that she hadn’t “heard any condemnation… from any groups.” Fox News’ America’s Newsroom guest Steve Emerson complained, “you don’t see denunciations of radical Islam, by name, by mainstream Islamic groups.” Bob Beckel, a host of Fox News’ The Five host said Muslims were “being quiet” about the shooting and accused the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) of keeping “their mouth shut when things happen.”

To be fair, it’s not all Fox News. Here’s CNN’s Don “why didn’t you just bite Bill Cosby’s penis” Lemon asking Arsalan Iftikhar, a Human Rights attorney and the  founder of The Muslim Guy website,  “Do you support ISIS?” on Wednesday.

So, allow me to do some of the legwork for the media… And present examples of Muslim outrage about the Paris shooting.

Let’s start with organizations, like CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has, according to Fox, kept its mouth shut. Somehow they managed to get out this statement.

1. CAIR,

We strongly condemn this brutal and cowardly attack and reiterate our repudiation of any such assault on freedom of speech, even speech that mocks faiths and religious figures. The proper response to such attacks on the freedoms we hold dear is not to vilify any faith, but instead to marginalize extremists of all backgrounds who seek to stifle freedom and to create or widen societal divisions.

We offer sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed or injured in this attack. We also call for the swift apprehension of the perpetrators, who should be punished to the full extent of the law.

2. Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA Spokesperson Qasim

When we study Islam, we see clearly that the Quran condemns this kind of violence categorically. That Prophet Muhammad said that a Muslim is one from whom all others are safe…. This is not about religion. This is about political power, this is about uneducated, ignorant youth who are being manipulated by clerics and extremists. And this is why it’s all the more important for us, as the moderates, regardless of faith, to stay united and combat this.

3. Muslim Council of Britain:

The Muslim Council of Britain condemns this attack. Whomever the attackers are, and whatever the cause may be, nothing justifies the taking of life…. Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said: “Nothing justifies the taking of life. Those who have killed in the name of our religion today claim to be avenging the insults made against Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace. But nothing is more immoral, offensive and insulting against our beloved Prophet than such a callous act of murder.  Our thoughts, prayers and solidarity go to  the families of the victims and the people of France.”

4. French Muslim Council (CFCM)“This extremely grave barbaric action is also an attack against democracy and the freedom of the press.” It also called on “all those committed to the values of the Republic and democracy to avoid provocations that only serve to throw oil on the fire,” and on French Muslims to “exercise the utmost vigilance against possible manipulations from extremist groups.”

5. Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF)“The UOIF condemns in the strongest terms possible these criminal attacks and horrible deaths. The UOIF offers its condolences to the families and all employees of Charlie Hebdo.”

6. Arab League [a regional organization representing 22 Arab countries, all of which have a majority Muslim population]: “Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi strongly condemns the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris.”

7. Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association: “The sanctity of human life is central to our faith. That lives could taken in this manner for any cause is appalling and unjustifiable.”

8. Muslim Advisory Council to the NYPD:

Regardless of motive or rationalization or evidence or excuse, killing twelve innocent people to avenge Prophet Muhammad has no justification and must be condemned without citing any victimhood. At this moment of national grief we ask the French people not to allow this senseless violence perpetrated by three terrorists to put a wedge between peaceful French Muslims and the broader public. We call upon the authorities to swiftly apprehend the perpetrators who should be punished to the full extent of the French law.

This attack in no way represents the teachings of our beloved prophet Muhammad. There are many examples from the life of prophet where he could have responded physically to those who mocked him. On the contrary, he wished them well and prayed for them. Our heart goes out to those who were brutally murdered in this cowardice terrorist attack by the so called defenders of Islam.

10. Dalil Boubakeur, imam at the mosque of Paris: “This is a thunderous declaration of war. The times have changed. We’re entering a new phase of this confrontation… we are horrified by the brutality and the savagery.”

11. Hassen Chalghoumi, imam of the Drancy mosque in Paris’s Seine-Saint-Denis suburb: “These are criminals, barbarians. They have sold their soul to hell. This is not freedom. This is not Islam and I hope the French will come out united at the end of this.”

12. The Islamic Cooperation Organization (ICO): “OIC hopes that the culprits would soon be apprehended and presented to justice in France, conveying condolences to the families of the victims, the French government and people and wishing the injured quick recovery.”

13. The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM):

We are absolutely shocked and horrified by what happened. It is an absolute tragedy and it is a crime….We are shaken up by what happened in Paris today. Our hearts and thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and the injured. We are hoping that whoever did this – the perpetrators of this crime – are quickly brought to justice.

14. Dr. Mohammad Iqbal AlNadvi, chairman of the Canadian Council of Imams. “We denounce [the attacks], and we don’t think it is the right away to express anything… We hope all groups will maintain order and allow proper authorities to deal with it and that no violent action will be taken against Muslims.”

15. Farhan Khokhar, vice president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Canada:

I was literally horrified and shocked. It was beyond disbelief to see such carnage and killing of the innocents…. [O]ur hearts went out to the innocents — people who died and their families… [L]oss of innocent life is always tragic… always brings tears to people’s eyes. Just as you’re starting the New Year, this is not how you want to start the New Year…. [W]e want every perpetrator not only to be caught as quickly as possible, but that the full force of law should be laid against these people. Not only those that perpetrated the act, but people behind them as well, or people who supported them.

16. Muslim Canadian Congress: “MCC condemns barbaric Islamist attack in Paris on Freedom of Expression.”

17. Al-Azhar [a thousand-year-old seat of religious learning respected by Muslims around the world]:  “Islam denounces any violence.”

In addition to organizations, At least 10 Muslim leaders of governments of largely Muslim countries have condemned the attacks.

18. Saudi Arabia: The country expressed “deep sorry” in response to “this cowardly terrorist attack which is incompatible with Islam religion.”

19. Qatar’s Foreign Ministry: “these actions that targets civilians contravene all values and principles, moral and humanitarian.”

20. United Arab Emirates Foreign Ministry: “such appalling criminal acts require cooperation and solidarity at all levels to eradicate this menace.”

21. Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak: “Malaysia condemns in the strongest terms all acts of violence. We stand in unity with the French people. We must fight extremism with moderation.”

22. Morroco’s King Mohammed: [He], ‘‘strongly condemned the odious, cowardly terrorist attack.”

23. Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry:  [Indonesia] “condemns the attack” and “sends condolences to the government and people of France.

24. Egypt’s Foreign Minister: “Egypt stands by France in confronting terrorism, an international phenomenon that targets the world’s security and stability and which requires coordinated international efforts to eradicate.”

25. Turkey’s Foreign Minister: “We, as Turkey, condemn with hatred any kind of terror… We are against any form of terror regardless of where it comes from and what its motives are.”

26. Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry: It expressed its “sympathies and full solidarity with the French government and people in their fight against terrorism,” and urged international cooperation against terrorism so “its shrapnel won’t hit the innocent anywhere else in the world.”

27. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham:

Such actions are a continuation of radical waves and physical aggressions which have spread throughout the world in the past decade, and incorrect policies and double standards in confronting extremism and violence have unfortunately given way to a spreading of such undertakings.

And Muslim individuals took to social media to denounce the violence:

As a Muslim, killing innocent people in the name of Islam is much, much more offensive to me than any cartoon can ever be. #CharlieHebdo

29. Mustafa Akyol

30.   Sabbiyah Pervez

31. Ali Gokal

32.  Mirnes Kovac

33. #NotInMyName

34.  Arsh Mirzary

— Arsh Mirza (@ArshMirza2) January 7, 2015

35.   Sarah Mushir

36.  Almis A. Amanry

37.  Memz Dogi

39.  Arbaaz khanar

As a #muslim and #human i condemn the killing of #innocents in #CharlieHebdo attack of paris

40.  Hend

41. Bilal Lashari

42.  Farran Nehmery

43.  Asma

44. Mohammed Al-Binateej

45. Sabina

# The Endless March of Police Brutality - 7 Stories From Just This Week

From Ferguson, Missouri to Staten Island, New York, it seems like a new story about police brutality breaks every day. Here are some recent incidents of police violence from around the nation that you may not have heard about. Because honestly, who can keep up?

1. 22-year-old black man police claim they shot in self-defense was actually shot from behind

The two officers who shot and killed 22-year-old Darrien Hunt in Saratoga Springs, Utah, claimed that they acted in self-defense after the young man lunged at them with a samurai sword. This week, the family’s lawyer announced that Hunt’s parents had a private autopsy performed, which determined that Hunt had actually been shot in the back six times from a distance of 100 yards. Witnesses also say Hunt was shot as he was running away from the cops. As the family’s lawyer said, “The shot that killed Darrien, which was straight in the back, did not have an exit wound…. It raises the question as to how you can lunge at someone and be shot in the back at the same time.” Hunt’s mother, who is white, explained why she thinks this happened to her son, who is bi-racial: “They killed my son because he’s black. No white boy with a little sword would they shoot while he’s running away.” Less than 5% of the population of Saratoga Springs, a wealthy community 30 minutes south of Salt Lake City, is non-white.

2. 17-year-old is in critical condition after being tased, stepped on and allowed to fall

Last Sunday, 17-year-old Bryce Masters, of Independence, Missouri, was driving to a friend’s house to play video games, when the police pulled him over for driving a vehicle for which they had a warrant. According to the police, Masters, the son of a Kansas City Police officer, “became uncooperative, physically resistitive [sic] to exiting the car, and an altercation ensued leading the officer to deploying his Taser." According to witnesses, however, when the police officer asked Masters to roll down his window, he explained that he couldn’t because the window was broken. So, the police officer did what anyone would do when faced with a slight teenager who had made no physical threat whatsoever: tase him in the chest against department policy, pull him from the car, handcuff him and allow him to fall face first onto the concrete. And then, for good measure, put his foot on his back. The Independence Police Department only permits tasering if the subject is an immediate threat to an officer or another person, uses force to resist arrest, flees or attempts to hurt himself. Sitting in a car does not meet any of these requirements. As a result of the totally unnecessary tasing, Masters went into cardiac arrest, stopped breathing, had to be resuscitated, was hospitalized and put into a medically induced coma. Doctors began to bring him out of the coma on Monday and, as of Tuesday, he was in critical but stable condition and was being treated for acute oxygen deprivation to the brain during his cardiac arrest.

3. Milwaukee police officer won’t be punished for lying about witnessing an illegal strip and cavity search

In August, a jury awarded Leo Hardy half a million dollars in damages after determining that Milwaukee police had illegally, “maliciously,” and with “reckless disregard” for civil rights, strip and cavity searched him. Officer Stephanie Seitz, who is either forgetful or legally blind, told investigators she was unaware of these searches. The only problem is that the prosecutor’s office recovered a surveillance video in which Seitz “clearly observes” the anal search. They determined that she had had been “clearly untruthful” and committed perjury. But, she won’t be charged with anything. Because, what’s the big deal? I mean, lying, perjury, probing? They kind of cancel each other out, right?

4. Officer caught beating a suspect on video is suspended…two months later.

It only took the Baltimore, MD police commissioner two months to get around to suspending an officer who was caught on video beating up a suspect at a bus stop back in June. Officer Vincent E. Cosom claimed that Kollin Truss had assaulted his girlfriend and then assumed a position of attack. What makes this version of events so fascinating is that it is contradicted not only by Truss’s girlfriend but by videotape footage. Tuss doesn’t do anything more than get attacked. Officer Cosom not only punches Tuss several times, but does so while another officer restrains the alleged attacker (who didn’t actually attack anyone). Among the members of the community outraged that Cosom had continued to be on active duty for so long is Councilman Carl Stokes, who said the attack "looked unprovoked…. It seems apparent that the officer wrote a dishonest report…. The citizen wasn't in a fighting position…. The more proper thing would have been for the second officer to get between his colleague and this citizen, and say, 'Stop this. Don't do this. This is not what we do, no matter how angry we are.'"

The great news is that even while suspended, Cosum will continue to get paid.

5. Police department famous for police brutality hosts NRA-sponsored law enforcement shooting competition

In a way, it makes a lot of sense. I mean, why not host an NRA-sponsored law enforcement shooting competition in the very city famous for its shoot-first policing policies? Albuquerque is doing just that, hosting the NRA's National Police Shooting Championships, during which any and all law enforcement is allowed to shoot in "just one match or fire in all of the Championship match events."

So what makes Albuquerque such a great fit for this shoot-off tournament, which had its opening ceremony on Monday and will go until Saturday? If anything, the city is overqualified. Since 2009, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD)  has been involved in 47 shootings, 23 of which were fatal. Lest you think Albuquerque just has a really high number of dangerous people who police were forced to kill in self-defense, a Justice Department review found that "the department engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force during the course of arrests and other detentions in violation of the Fourth Amendment."

6. Police commander and Renaissance man of brutality is finally indicted

On Thursday, Cook County, Chicago prosecutors announced the indictment of Chicago police commander Glenn Evans, who has been charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct. His attorney claims Evans, who is pleading not guilty, will “not only be exonerated but vindicated.” It will be interesting to see how exactly he’ll be vindicated, given that during his 28 years on the police force, he’s been suspended at least 11 times. Evans has been put on leave for behavior including “domestic altercations,” missing court appearances, and the excessive use of force. In one particularly charming incident, Evans is accused of forcibly removing a mother who was trying to visit her daughter in he hospital, slamming her against police cars, punching her and giving her a black eye. On another occasion, Evans responded to a man he suspected of having stolen something from his car trunk by handcuffing him to a porch rail and beating him with a gun, leaving him with a three-inch laceration of his head and a concussion. According to a report by a former chief epidemiologist, city agencies filed 45 excessive-force complaints against Evans between 1988 and 2008. An industrious abuser, Evans has continued to provoke complaints of excessive force and cost the city hundreds of thousands in federal lawsuits in the last few years. His most recent hits include allegedly putting his gun in a suspect’s mouth and a taser against his crotch, threatening to kill him. And yet Evans had received the staunch support of Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy.

7. Police threaten to brutalize man if he reports that they brutalized him

Now for some good news: a judge ruled that people aren’t at fault for not filing a lawsuit on time if the reason for the holdup is the threat of police brutality. Back in 2002, Chicago police officers entered the home of firefighter Robert Cook, threw him to the ground, and beat him over the course of an hour. They threatened that they would plant evidence on him and have him fired if he reported the abuse. When Cook did so anyway, the sergeant assigned to investigate the case called Cook a liar and, once again, threatened to have Cook fired if he pursued the complain. And, surprisingly enough, the allegations were deemed “unfounded.” Ultimately the same officers who brutalized Cook were arrested for, among other things, home invasion, armed violence, kidnapping and more. The officers did what any officers guilty of abuse and police brutality would do: attempt to block a civil rights lawsuit on the technicality that Cook didn’t file it on time. But U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman decided in favor of common sense rather than sociopathy, ruling that the lawsuit could move forward. "Threatening a victim of police brutally to ensure he does not reveal what transpired is clearly wrongful… When such threats are made with the clear intent to prevent a plaintiff from seeking redress for the underlying wrong, the threats constitute active steps distinct from that underlying wrong." The police shamelessly argued that if Cook had really feared for his life, he would have moved away. But Judge Gettleman wasn’t buying that excuse either: "If crooked cops threaten an individual's livelihood and safety, it is not clear that changing his address would offer much protection," Gettleman said. "Even if this were the case, it would be unjust and unreasonable to require that a victim of police misconduct uproot his life.”

# 8 Worst Things Urban Outfitters Has Done

On Monday, Urban Outfitters made headlines when it posted for sale on its website a Kent State sweatshirt. There's nothing controversial about selling a college sweatshirt, but selling a sweatshirt that appears to be stained with blood at a college where the National Guard killed four students and injured an additional 10 in 1970 is truly disgusting.

Urban Outfitters apologized, but claimed it was a total coincidence that what looked like a bloodstained sweatshirt happened to bear the name of the college that became a “bloodstained symbol of the rising student rebellion against the Nixon Administration and the war in Southeast Asia,” as Time Magazine put it weeks after the shooting. Urban Outfitters was so contrite it actually took to Twitter to issue its apology. It used twitlonger, since 140 characters just doesn’t cut it when apologizing for making light of a historically significant national tragedy.

Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.

It is possible that nobody at Urban Outfitters who reviewed the sweatshirt thought the discoloration looked like a piece of evidence from a Dexter episode. It’s also possible that nobody who worked at Urban Outfitters knew the bloody history of Kent State. But here’s a question. If Urban Outfitters were so torn up about it, wouldn’t it remove the “vintage Kent State Sweatshirt,” which was going for a mere \$130, from its website? As of Tuesday night, the company had the item listed as sold out. There is no image, but it seems like a better PR, damage-control and moral move would be removing the whole page.

For arguments sake, let's give Urban Outfitters the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say they didn’t see the blood imagery, didn’t know about Kent state, didn’t have the IT power to remove the page and were forced to leave it listed as sold out. One big problem remains: Urban Outfitter’s extremely bad track record of selling offensive products. Even the store admits its history makes its actions pretty hard to forgive. In another apology released Tuesday, Urban Outfitters continued to claim ignorance, but conceded,

this truth does not excuse us from our failure to identify potential controversial products head on. We, as a company who caters to a college-age demographic, have a responsibility to uphold to our customers. Given our history of controversial issues, we understand how our sincerity may be questioned.

Let’s review the previous eight controversial issues Urban Outfitters has been involved with.

1. The anorexia-encouraging must-have T-shirt. Back in June 2010, Urban Outfitters offered its “Eat Less” gray V-neck T-shirt. The order to consume fewer calories was written in white cursive letters across the front. But don’t worry. The official description of the shirt, which nobody will ever see, is totally not eating disorder-inducing: "Eat less or more or however much you'd like in this seriously soft knit tee cut long and topped with a v-neck.” See? The description on the website isn’t judgemental at all. You can eat whatever you want! Starve, binge, purge, just for god’s sake BUY!

When news of this shirt came out, the store, very responsibly, removed it from the website, but kept selling it at its stores. But only, it should be noted, in large sizes.

2. The shirt available in white or Obama/black. 2010 was a great year for offensive Urban Outfitters products, because that is when it offered a “buttoned BDG Burnout Henley” in White/ Charcoal or Obama/ Black. The store stopped selling the shirt and offered a totally reasonable explanation.

Many customers have brought to our attention one of the color names listed for our BDG Burnout Henley, and rightfully so. We screwed up, and are sincerely sorry. The burnout pattern on this shirt is comprised of two colors—one is an internally developed color we called "Obama Blue" and the other is "Black." Unfortunately our website database truncated this combination to read "Obama/Black." We should have caught the error, and apologize for offending anyone.

I mean, we’ve all been there, right?

3. The cultural appropriation trademark violation clothing line. In 2011, Sasha Houston Brown of the Dakota Santee Sioux Nation slammed Urban Outfitters in an open letter to the company published in Racialicious. In Houston Brown's words:

I had the unfortunate experience of visiting a local Urban Outfitters store in Minneapolis. It appeared as though the recording “artist” Ke\$ha had violently exploded in the store, leaving behind a cheap, vulgar and culturally offensive retail collection. Plastic dreamcatchers wrapped in pleather hung next to an indistinguishable mass of artificial feather jewelry and hyper sexualized clothing featuring an abundance of suede, fringe and inauthentic tribal patterns….

…. There is nothing honorable or historically appreciative in selling items such as the Navajo Print Fabric Wrapped Flask, Peace Treaty Feather Necklace, Staring at Stars Skull Native Headdress T-shirt or the Navajo Hipster Panty. These and the dozens of other tacky products you are currently selling referencing Native America make a mockery of our identity and unique cultures.

I was expecting Urban Outfitters to make the convincing argument that the Navajo Hipster Panty pays homage to authentic Navajo culture. Instead, a spokesman responded with this string of platitudes: "Like many other fashion brands, we interpret trends and will continue to do so for years to come," he said. "The Native American-inspired trend and specifically the term 'Navajo' have been cycling thru fashion, fine art and design for the last few years."

4. The Everybody Loves a JAPy, Materialistic, Shopaholic Jewess T-shirt. In January 2014 Urban Outfitters started selling T-shirts that said “Everybody loves a Jewish girl.” Given that the store also offered “Everybody loves an Irish girl,” “Everybody loves a German girl,” and “Everybody loves an Italian girl,” T-shirts, it would have almost been anti-semitic to leave Jewish girls out of the fun. The only problem was the imagery accompanying the Jewish girl shirt: dollar signs and shopping bags. Of course, the other shirts played on stereotypes as well, featuring a shamrock, beer stein and pizza respectively. But somehow, saying that shamrocks are Irish, beer is German and pizza is Italian isn’t exactly the same as saying shopaholic, materialistic girls are Jewish. As Sarah Lefton, the founder of the Jewish-themed apparel company, Jewish Fashion Conspiracy said, "That's pretty bad....With a shamrock for the Irish and pizza for Italians, you'd sort of expect a bagel for the Jewish T-shirt. And they come up with a shopping bag and money. That kind of stereotype isn't even funny when Jews make it on each other."

The store felt terrible! Ted Marlow, president of Urban Outfitters, explained “bias, sacrilege and ridicule were not our intention.” But he also said, "If you have been in our stores, you'll notice fun, humor, irony and irreverence are not topics foreign to us.” Demonstrating remarkable sensitivity and tact, Marlow added, "We got a call from a rabbi who is in Montreal [who was in the store with his daughter]. Our director of stores is Jewish and from Montreal, so she called him. But we're not merchandising for the rabbi father. Our core customer is 24, 25 years old."

5. The Dirty MexicanO. In 2005, Urban outfitters made linguistic-racist history with its “New Mexico: cleaner than regular Mexico” T-shirt. This clever article of clothing takes the traditional and contrived “dirty Mexican” racist slur and transforms it into a new and improved racist turn of phrase.

6. Ghettopology: The hilarious ghetto board game the whole family will love! Urban Outfitters doesn’t limit itself to offensive garb; it also trailblazes into the uncharted waters of racist board games. Ghettopoly, which Urban Outfitters offered in 2003, is just like Monopoly except racist! The game features cards which say, "You got yo whole neighborhood addicted to crack. Collect \$50." You can land on properties like Cheap Trick Avenue,  Smitty's XXX Peep Show, Westside Liquor, Tyron's Gun Shop, and Weinstein's Gold and Platinum, which is especially clever because it combines racism and anti-Semitism. The game hilariously presents African Americans as uneducated, with characters named "Malcum X" and "Martin Luthor King Jr."

This racism-themed board game provoked African American clergy and organizations around the country to threaten a boycott unless the store stopped selling the product. Rev. Glenn Wilson, pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, said: "This is beyond making fun, to use the caricature of Dr. King in this regard….There’s no way that game could be taken in any way other than that this man had racist intent in marketing it."

Ghettopoly’s creator, David Chang, explained that the game was actually a social justice initiative: "It draws on stereotypes not as a means to degrade, but as a medium to bring together in laughter... If we can't laugh at ourselves ... we'll continue to live in blame and bitterness." Chang was practially channeling Dr. Martin Luther King, who famously dreamed of a day when men of all colors could play board games together.

7. The marriage equality shirt that had to be pulled, obvs. Just as Urban Outfitters sells, and often refuses to remove, offensive products, it also insists on removing good products for offensive reasons. In 2008, the store sold T-shirts saying "I Support Same Sex Marriage," which were created by Tara Littman of Support Shirts. A week after the shirts went on sale, they disappeared. The reason According to a buyer, it was “bad press.” As Littman discovered, however, this bad press consisted of a single blog entry critical of the T-shirt.

8. Rick Santorum-funding Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Hayne. Perhaps the reason the store pulled the marriage- equality T-shirt had less to do with fictitious bad PR than with the guy who runs the company, Richard Hayne, who is, as of 2008, the 262nd richest American, according to Forbes. In addition to the Urban Outfitters brand, his retail empire includes Free People and Anthropologie.

In a 2003 interview with Philadelphia Weekly, Hayne tried to deny that he had ever contributed to Rick Santorum, who had recently made statements equating homosexuality with bestiality. But then the interviewer presented him with a printout that showed Urban Outfitters had contributed \$4,650 to Santorum’s campaign. Forced to face reality, Hayne said, “I’ll have to look into this. I don’t think this is right.” In a sense, Hayne was right; he and his wife had actually contributed \$13,150 to Santorum's campaign. When the interviewer asked Hayne about his own position on homosexuality, Hayne replied, "I'm not going to comment on it. I have my own opinion, but I am not going to share it. Our job as a business is not to promote a political agenda.”

Given how transparent Hayne has been in the past, he’ll have to forgive us for not taking him at his word. He’s a lot like Urban Outfitters in that way.

# 8 Most Homophobic Religious Protest Signs

These hateful homophobic church signs are made not by clergy, but rather the flocks they shepherd: Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. Enjoy!

1. Loophole for lesbians? This sign focuses on the solution to the "problem" of gay marriage. And that solution is hanging. The sign, on display at an Indianapolis rally during the National Organization for Marriage’s Summer for Marriage tour, is based on the book of Leviticus: “If a man also lie with mankind the way he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” Sure, this open call for executing gay men is way harsh. But it is surprisingly promising for lesbian women. Guess they can lie with women however they want. Also, where are the signs for enforcing the other punishments laid out in Leviticus, like killing people who curse their parents; shunning people who shave or cut their hair; wearing clothes made of mixed fabrics; having sex with menstruating women; and banning flat-nosed, “lame” or “blind” people from entering the altar of god.

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2. GAY: Gay-related acronyms for Yahweh. If you’ve ever wished you had a mnemonic device for bigotry, you’re in luck! You’ll never forget why you hate the homos, thanks to this helpful and clever sign, which was held at a rally attended by 2,000 people in support of a North Carolina pastor who was under attack. What was his crime? He offended people during a Mother’s Day sermon when he quoted the Bible verbatim and said, "I figured a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers….Build a great big large fence—50 or 100 miles long—put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can't get out. And you know what, in a few years, they'll die out. Do you know why? They can't reproduce!"

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3. If these anuses could talk. This sign is from an anti-gay protest organized by religious groups in Kampala, Uganda in 2007. It gets right to the orifice of the matter: “Anus 4 defication.” The tagline, “A spoon is a spoon & a spade is a spade,” reminds us that an anus is an anus. And it’s for defecation. Nothing more. Nothing less.

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4. God loves “God Hates Fags” apparel for kids! This isn’t a sign, per se, but it is an effective and kid-friendly way to spread the homophobic and hateful word of god. Kids love shirts that say God Hates Fags (I mean, just look at how happy the little girl is)! And God Loves Parents who use their children as ideological props and dress them in propaganda expressing something kids definitely don’t understand! With these Westboro Baptist Church motto shirts, you can really wear your lack of heart on your children’s sleeve.

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5. Men at devious work. Sometimes, a picture speaks 1,000 words. And when the words are in Serbian, it’s especially helpful. This is another kid-friendly and accessible way to say, “I’m really insecure.”

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6. Don’t think I forgot about Jews! (One of the greatest benefits of being Jewish is being able to make corny you/Jew puns.) I would be remiss to overlook the way some Orthodox Jews have contributed to this wonderful tradition of clever, homophobia-inspired signs. This ominous sign was held by ultra-Orthodox men protesting a 2010 gay pride march in Jerusalem. I’m sure it caused lots of marchers to question their homosexuality.

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7. Giraffe-curious. This ultra Orthodox Jew, protesting in New York, is clearly inspired by a rabbinical, dialectical, questioning tradition as well as a strong sexual attraction to animals. He provides two examples of how homosexuality is just one slippery slope away from bestiality.

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8. Homosexuality causes baldness. I recognize the word “Transeksual,” at the bottom of the banner. And kriminal looks like criminal. So, I’m going to have to assume that the sign says something along the lines of, “Homosexuality is criminal and linked to baldness.” Actually, I just checked. And it means, “Forbidden, Crime and Disgusting.” Lovely! The faithful had gathered to protest against the planned International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association's regional conference in East Java, which wound up being canceled because of security concerns.

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# 9 Most Homophobic Church Signs

Texan televangelist John Hagee called same-sex marriage supporters “counterfeit Christians.” A pastor in Tampa, Florida refused to perform a funeral service when he learned the deceased man had been gay, because that would have been “blasphemous.” And Pastor Steve Washburn of First Baptist Pflugerville, Texas, is warning that pastors will be imprisoned for speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage. And that was just this week.

Certain church leaders certainly seem to be re-prioritizing Jesus’ to-do list. They’ve decided to ignore the Bible’s minor points, like turn the other cheek and that whole Golden Rule thing. Also, they’re not going to worry so much about the poor. These shepherds, instead, demonstrate their love for Jesus Christ by hating on homosexuality. They instruct their flock by broadcasting messages of homophobia—literally—on church signs and marquees. Here are some of the worst church signs preaching against brotherly love.

1. MÃ©nage a trois with God. This sign, which was placed in front of the Devon Park United Methodist Church polling site in Wilmington, North Carolina, may go down in history for being the first, and probably only, religious sign to push a threesome as an alternative to same-sex marriage. The sign’s message is so urgent, no time or plastic could be spared for punctuation: “A true marriage male and female and god.” The takeaway? Marriage exists between one man and one woman and the omnipresent voyeur known as god.

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2. God good, gays bad! In this sign, on display at the Santa Clara Jesus Is Lord Baptist Church in California, the beauty is in its simplicity: “God is good/Gays are bad/vote Yes on Prop Eight.” If only all get-out-the-vote initiatives were this straightforward and Manichean, voting rates would go through the roof. Prop 8, the statewide ballot proposition in California to ban same-sex marriage, brought together churches, synagogues, Mormons, Catholics, evangelicals and Orthodox Jews, who were able to put aside their religious differences and come together in a beautiful interfaith collaborative effort to strip people of their civil rights. Because, at the end of the day, we may call him different names, but we all believe in the same god, who happens to be very homophobic.

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3. Homophobic haiku. This short and catchy “Gay Is not Okay” sign appeared outside of Fort Des Moines Church of Christ in South Des Moines, Iowa. Pastor Mike DeMastus was merely using the church’s illuminated marquee to advertise the theme of his upcoming Sunday sermon, something he does for every sermon every week. Besides being an effective promotional tool, the minimalist text is just 12 syllables shy of being a homophobic haiku.

Lest you fear DeMastus is intolerant, he’s the victim of intolerance from gay people who don’t want to accept his rejection of their lifestyle. Calling out the alleged hypocrisy, the pastor said, “This is the community that cries wanting us to be tolerant and I said gay is not okay, I didn't say gays are not okay.” For DeMastus, homosexuals are no worse than other people who commit sins and must repent: “They are no different than an adulterer, or cheater, or liar. They’re sinners, just like me…that was the intention of the message, but it got muddied up real quick.” In other words, gays aren’t an abomination. But what they do is. So, what’s the big deal? These LGBT bullies even organized a protest at the church, and demonstrated their intolerance of hatred, homophobia, bullying, and suicide.

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4. Some of my best friends are sinning gays. This sign, gracing the front the Seagate Chapel Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, says, "God loves gays but he hates a perverted life style—turn or burn." If you can’t find the phrase in Romans 1-26-27, that’s probably because it isn’t there. Anna Benson, who made the sign, must have taken some liberties paraphrasing. But before you cry homophobe, you should know that Benson is a total LOG (Lover of Gays). She defended the sign, saying, “I love the gays.” Regardless of your feelings, I think we can all agree that the “turn or burn” rhyme is pretty brilliant. This is yet another example of the church trying to cozy up to the state, since this sign was part of the successful effort to pass the North Carolina Same-Sex Marriage Amendment, which limited not only marriage, but domestic partnerships, to between one man and one woman.

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5. What would Jesus do? Stone the homos! This “Jesus would stone homos” sign, which was outside a church in… NEW YORK CITY, merely puts some Old Testament teachings into plain language. I didn’t think it was possible, but Pastor James David Manning seems to love the gays even more than Anna Benson. He explained, “I never said that I would stone homos. I never said that. I never said that I would ask anyone else to stone homos. I never said that. What I did say is what the Bible says, and I gave several verses within the word of God that would demonstrate why I believe that Jesus would stone homos." And what verses does this biblical scholar cite? Leviticus, obviously. But he shows major skills in breaking down John 8:7. Here Jesus is asked whether an adulteress should be stoned, and he responds, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her." Now most people take that to mean, “don’t be a judgmental hypocrite.” But Manning’s exegesis of the text reveals that Christ is actually saying, “don’t be a judgmental hypocrite. Allow me, instead, to stone her, since I’m sinless!” I guess, under this reading, Jesus was about to stone her when something came up.

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6. Teach a man to be your friend and he’ll never be your husband. This sign, brought to you by St. Xavier Church in Acushnet, Massachusetts may be one of the straightest, most boring, same-sex marriage-opposing sign ever. It observes that two men are friends, not spouses. It’s unclear if they are aware that there are two-husband households.

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7. Math hates equality. This sign, seen at the Glasgow Church in New Castle County, Delaware, is not at all formulaic. To sum up, this sign says that same-sex marriage just shouldn’t be part of the equation. In case you’ve forgotten everything you learned in arithmetic, allow me to translate: The cross (Christianity) is greater than equality (for the gays).

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8. Lemonade won’t save you from hell. Sadly, you’ve probably heard about the vile Westboro Baptist Church. The congregation pickets the funerals of U.S. soldiers and victims of the Sandy Hook shooting and other high-profile tragedies, and attributes these deaths to god’s hating America and “fags.” Their deranged view doesn’t discriminate and the sexual orientation of the deceased person is irrelevant. Planting Peace decided to open the “Equality House” across the street from WBC. When a five-year old girl saw the rainbow-painted house, she decided to set up shop in front of it to sell lemonade and raise money for what she considered to be “the most beautiful house in the world.” The despicable WBC folks responded by calling her a “Satanic liar” and creating this personalized marquee.

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9. Don’t say the Bible didn’t warn you about HIV! This is another gem from Pastor James Manning. I didn’t think it was possible, but he manages to outdo his earlier work with this sign, which “cites” Corinthians, specifically the part saying, “All churches & members that support homos cursed be thou with cancer syphillus HIV stroke madness itch then hell.” I can’t really add anything to this. It speaks for itself.

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# 6 Holocaust Survivors Who Fight Against Israel's Treatment of Palestinians

The Israeli government draws on the experience of the Holocaust to justify many of its policies, especially those relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many of the people who defend Israel cite the Holocaust as one of the justifications for the founding and aggressive militarism of the Jewish state. For these people, the Holocaust serves as both a reminder of Jewish history and a cautionary tale for the future. When the Jewish people had neither a nation nor a military of their own, they were nearly exterminated; now anything the Israeli state and army does is acceptable because extermination could threaten Jews again.

But some Holocaust survivors cite the Holocaust as the very reason they oppose Israeli policy; specifically, its treatment of Palestinians. These people see that oppressing Palestinians is not just unnecessary and wrong, but hypocritical for a nation founded to provide people with a refuge from oppression. For them, the lesson of the Holocaust isn't "never again" for Jews. It's never again for anyone, including Palestinians.

1. Hajo Meyer. Born in Bielefeld, Germany, in 1924, Meyer fled Germany for the Netherlands at age 14, where he went into hiding when the Nazis invaded a year later. Captured in 1944, he was sent to Auschwitz. His parents died after being deported from Germany. When the war ended, Meyer returned to the Netherlands and studied theoretical physics, eventually becoming the director of the Philips Physics Laboratory. He has written several books, including The End of Judaism. In 2011, Meyer went on a 13-city speaking tour throughout the U.S. and Canada called "Never Again for Anyone."

Although initially supportive of the founding of Israel, Meyer grew not only to reject Zionism but to see it as antithetical to Judaism. Meyer rejects the way the Israeli government exploits the Holocaust and survivors to achieve its ultimate goal of “the maximum territory with a minimum number of Palestinians....They use the Holocaust to implant paranoia in their children."

Meyer criticizes Prime Minister Netanyahu for using the Holocaust to further Zionism: “And like Netanyahu did the other day in the General Assembly of the United Nations, he used the number on my arm—or the number on our arms—to defend a coming attack on Iran. They have nothing to do with each other… The Zionists have not any right whatsoever to use the Holocaust for any purpose.”

Meyer likens the experience of the Palestinians to that of Eastern European Jews during the Holocaust, “in that they are very often held up at checkpoints, or they are not allowed to move from one place to another." To Meyer, Israel's mentality bears comparison to National Socialism; he believes Israel has "given up everything that has to do with humanity, with empathy, for one thing: the state. The ‘blood and soil,’ just like the Nazis. I learned in school about blood and soil, and that’s exactly their idea, too.”

2. Hedy Epstein. Born in 1924 in Freiburg, Germany, Hedy Epstein was sent to England at 14 via the Kindertransport, which brought nearly 10,000 children from Nazi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland to England during the months between Kristallnacht and the onset of WWII. After the war, Hedy returned to Germany. Her parents had perished in Auschwitz and Hedy worked on the Nuremberg medical trial. In 1948, she joined her only living relatives, an aunt and uncle, in the United States.

Epstein has been to Palestine five times since 2003, taking part in demonstrations against the Occupation, the wall, and the demolition of Palestinian homes and olive orchards. Epstein’s autobiography, Remembering Is Not Enough was published in 1999.

Epstein’s parents were anti-Zionist. Speaking about her parents’ attempt to flee Germany, Epstein said, “They were willing to go anywhere in the world, but one place they were not willing to go to was Palestine -- they were anti-Zionists.” Epstein recalls having “mixed feelings” about the founding of Israel, but eventually became staunchly opposed to Israel’s policies: “In 1982, I heard about the massacres in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon -- I wanted to know who was responsible for this, what had happened between 1948 and 1982. As I learned more, I became increasingly disturbed by the policies of Israel and its military.”

Epstein rejects the criticism lodged against her by the "mainstream, organized Jewish community." "I'm not anti-Israel, but you're not allowed to criticize Israel or else you're anti-Semitic, and if you're Jewish you're a self-hating Jew. I don't hate myself.” And she wonders why criticism of other countries is permissible while speaking about Israel is not: “You're allowed to criticize every other country, including the U.S., but not Israel, why is that?”

In a recent op-ed published in the St. Louis Dispatch, Epstein and two other members of St. Louis Jewish Voice for Peace wrote that their Jewish values required them to speak out against Israel’s recent actions and occupation of Gaza:

“As Jews, many of us were raised with values of social justice, standing up to oppression and for the 'little guy,' and remembering anti-Semitism and pledging to stop it. That is why we are calling on the St. Louis Jewish community to join us and speak out against the Israeli government’s occupation and bombing of Gaza.”

Like Meyer, Epstein rejects the way Judaism is used in the name of Zionism: “The Israeli government’s actions happen far too often in the name of protecting Judaism, thereby conflating Zionism with Judaism. As Jews, we must not let the Israeli government use our heritage to excuse its morally unexcusable actions. Our Jewish values will not let us.”

3. Suzanne Weiss. Born in Paris during the Nazi occupation, Weiss was sent by a resistance organization to Auvergne, where she lived in hiding with a peasant family. Her parents did not survive, and after the war, Weiss left France. She now lives in Canada, and is a member of Not In Our Name: Jewish Voices Against Zionism and of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid.

The solidarity that saved Weiss’ life inspires her solidarity with Palestinians:

“As a child in France, I survived the Holocaust because a strong resistance was organised. Thousands of people – Christians, Jews and Muslims – joined the fight for freedom against the French fascist Vichy government. They struck powerful blows against racism, whose impact endures in France today. They organised a network to save Jewish people. That's why I am here today…. For me, as for many Jews today, the memory of the Holocaust inspires us not to support war and oppression but to work for solidarity and freedom – in this case, freedom for the Palestinians.”

She sees those who risked their lives to save Jews as descendants of a “tradition of universalism — a spirit of solidarity with all humanity. This is a proud Jewish tradition — the tradition of my family.” And this universalism, this lesson of the Holocaust, requires speaking out against Israel’s policies: “In terms of Hitler’s Holocaust, its meaning is ‘never again’ — but not just with regard to Jews. It means ‘never again for humankind.'”

Weiss sees both differences and similarities between Nazism and Israeli policies: “The tragedy of Palestine is, of course, different from the Holocaust. Israel has no gas chambers. Its government does not strive to kill all the Palestinians. Israel's intention is, instead, to take the Palestinians' homeland and property and to deprive them of civil and human rights.”

But, Weiss says, “Like the Nazis, the Israel government enforces collective punishment. It aims to kill enough Palestinians, to punish them sufficiently, drive them out of their homeland, so they will disappear as a people. Israel seeks to remove Palestine from the world's family of nations. That too is a form of genocide…. Every case of oppression is unique, but the struggle for justice is indivisible. As we then fought for freedom for European Jews, we now call for freedom for the Palestinians....For me, as a survivor of the Holocaust, the tragic situation in Gaza awakens memories of what I and my family experienced under Hitler – the ghetto walls, the killings, the systematic starvation and deprivation, the daily humiliations.”

She refuses to have her name and her history used to justify the very policies she opposes: “The Israel government claims its wars are waged on our behalf. That's a lie. We say, 'Not in our name.' And in increasing numbers, Jewish people join with our Palestinian brothers and sisters to demand justice for Palestine.”

4. Alfred Grosser. Born in Frankfurt in 1925, at age eight, Grosser fled Nazi Germany with his parents for Paris. His aunt and uncle died in Auschwitz. After the war, Grosser remained in Paris where he studied political science and German studies. He is considered one of the architects of French-German reconciliation after the war. Grosser won the Peace Prize of the German book trade, the Grand Prix de  l’AcadÃ¨mie des Sciences morales et politiques, and the Federal Republic of Germany’s “Highest Order of Merit.” Grosser has written several books, including From Auschwitz to Jerusalem, which examines how the legacy of the Holocaust has muted criticism of Israel in Germany.

Grosser does not deny that anti-Semitism exists. He publicly criticized the Pope in 2006 “for not having spoken about Christian anti-Semitism, about prosecutions, ghettos, and burnings at the stake. His silence was the same when he spoke at Auschwitz.”

Yet Grosser objects to equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism: “Criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism have nothing to do with each other. It is rather Israel’s policies that promote anti-Semitism globally.”

Grosser sees Israel’s treatment of Palestine as illogical and a betrayal, given the history of Jewish suffering: “I was despised as a Jew by the Germans—nevertheless, after Auschwitz I believed in our common future. I do not understand how Jews today can despise others and pursue merciless policies in Israel in the name of self-defense.” Just as there were brave Germans who risked their lives to save Jews, Jews must speak out to save the lives of Palestinians: “Precisely because there had been courageous help for Jews in Germany, is it not an obligation of today’s Jews to think of the fate of other repressed and despised people?"

5. Chava Folman Raban. Born in 1924 in Kielce, Poland, Chava grew up in Warsaw, where she was active in the Zionist youth organization and in the underground anti-Nazi resistance. With blond hair, blue eyes, a perfect Polish accent, and a pseudonym, Folman Raban was able to pass as Ewa Marczinek, a Catholic, and served as a courier and liaison, smuggling weapons, money, documents, and people in and out of ghettos. In 1943, she was arrested and sent to Auschwitz, and then to Ravensbrueck. Folman Raban’s father and brothers died but her mother survived and the two of them moved to Mandate Palestine in 1947. Folman Raban founded a kibbutz, Beit Lohamey Ha-Getaot (the Ghetto-Fighters House), became a teacher and had three children. She died in January 2013.

An avid Israeli patriot, Folman Raban objected to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. At an event marking the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, she delivered a speech urging young Israelis to apply the lessons of the rebellion to the present, and specifically, fight to end the occupation:

“Leave in your hearts and memories a place for them [deceased resistance fighters], younger generations. For the beautiful and bold, so young, who fell in the last battle. I wish for the thousands of you before me, lives enriched with love, beauty, laughter, and meaning.

Continue the rebellion. A different rebellion of the here and now against evil, even the evil befalling our own and only beloved country. Rebel against racism and violence and hatred of those who are different.  Against inequality, economic gaps, poverty, greed and corruption….

…. Rebel against the Occupation. No, it is forbidden for us to rule over another people, to oppress another [people]. The most important thing is to achieve peace and an end to the cycle of blood[letting]."

6. Stephane Hessel was born in Berlin in 1927. When he was 8 he moved with his family to France. He joined the resistance against the Nazis and the collaborationist Vichy government in France and escaped to London, where he met Charles de Gaulle. He returned to France to complete a mission for the resistance but was captured by the Gestapo, which tortured him.

Hessel was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp, where he narrowly escaped execution by switching identities with a French soldier who died of typhoid fever. He escaped from Buchenwald, but was recaptured and made to do slave labor at Dora, the giant underground plant. Hessel escaped again from a train bound for Belsen. After the war Hessel returned to France, helped draft the Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and became an honorary Ambassador of France.

In 2010, Hessel’s book Time for Outrage (Indignez-vous), which had helped inspire the French resistance, was republished, sold 4.5 million copies in 35 countries and helped inspire Occupy Wall Street and protest movements in Greece, Spain and Israel. Hessel died in February 2013 at the age of 86.

As he explained on Democracy Now!, the stability and survival of Israel depends on peace with the Palestinians: “The future of Israel depends, in my mind, on finding a way to have a neighbor with the Palestinians who can be a good and pleasant neighbor with whom one can work.” He viewed the occupation not as a violation of Jewish values but self-destructive: “as long as one occupies that country, that makes this terrible business of Cast Lead on Gaza—those things are horrifying to my mind. And leadership in Israel by people like Netanyahu and Lieberman is just against all basic Jewish and democratic value.” When asked during a PBS News Hour interview for an example of a modern state "violating the ideals that World War II was fought around," Hessel responded: “To me, what brings my outrage to one particular spot of this world is, of course, the way the Israeli government treats the Palestinians. I consider that as a violation of international law.”

# 7 Best Jon Stewart Clips on Israel

Last week, Jon Stewart addressed how hard it is to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in a sketch called “we need to talk about Israel.” Though he mocked both sides, to a certain extent, the bulk of the sketch went after those who see themselves as “pro-Israel” and see Jon Stewart as a self-loathing Jew.

Now, from what I can tell, having been called a self-loathing Jew myself, the term applies to people who make any criticism whatsoever of the Israeli government. One can easily make the case that more diplomatic solutions, dovish approaches if you will, are more helpful for the state of Israel and Israelis than more military or hawkish ones. That makes some of the self-loathers more “pro-Israel” than the ones who blindly support the government.

Stewart is one of the few public mainstream Jews with the chutzpah to say anything critical of Israel’s policies. And as a Jew, I appreciate the way he’s been doing this ever since he took over the Daily Show. So, without further ado, I present 7 great Daily Show skits on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

1. West Bank Story - Challahfax vs. Halalifax

09/22/11

John Oliver and Aasif Mandvi debate whether Halifax belongs to Muslims Halalifax or to Jews, Challahfax.

2. The Matzorian Candidate

12/08/11

Stewart covers the Republican Jewish Coalition forum, AKA “The Great Tuchus Kiss Off,” where “incredibly religious Christian presidential candidates” are “fighting over who loves Jews more.”

3. Donors Unchained - Quid Pro Quo

04/03/14

In this episode Stewart is particularly fearless, as he goes after Sheldon Adelson’s ability to not only sway politics, but sway Israel-related politics. We learn that Chris Christies apologized to Adelson for daring to call the West Bank “Occupied Territories.” Stewart responds by asking the audience a rhetorical question: “Still don’t think money has a more general corrupting influence on politics? Cause I can tell you this. My family is full of 80 year old Jews who would very much like to tell poiticians what words they can and cannot use to describe Israel. But as of this taping no presidential hopefuls have flown to their house to solicit that opinion.”

4. Crazies of Summer

7/14/14

Here Stewart pretends to me touched by the IDF’s charitable policy of giving Palestians advance warning (10 minutes) before bombing their houses. He then asks, “What are the Gazans supposed to do? Evacuate to where? Have you fucking seen Gaza?! Israel blocked this border and Egypt blocked this border. What are they supposed to do? Swim for it?!

5. Crazies of Summer

7/14/14

In the same segment, Stewart goes on to explain how the outfits of the reporters in Gaza and Israel capture the asymmetry of the conflict: “The Gaza reporter looks like an extra from the hurt locker. While the reporter in Israel looks like he’s gonna bang out his stand up and then head to a jimmy buffet concert. They’re a living political cartoon for the war in the Middle East. “

6. Let's Break a Deal

01/15/14

In this segment, Stewart mocks the politicians who were undermining President Obama’s negotiations with Iran by pushing for the Iran “Nuclear Weapon Free Act.” Stewart feigns confusion over why Democrats would oppose Obama’s nuclear diplomacy and then cuts to former democratic Congresswoman lobbyist Jane Harmon, who says, “big parts of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States being against it, the country of Israel being against that’s ah a stiff hill to climb.” Stewart then continues with fake calm, “ Oh well that makes sense The senators from the Great State of Israel are against it and we don’t want to go against the senators from the Great Sta.. wait a minute that’s not in our country that’s a whole other country entirely. Why do we have to listen to them?”

He then pretends to explain why Israel’s special treatment makes sense. “I mean Israel is our ally and I guess Iran is pretty provocative….” Stewart then cuts to a Fox News reporter who says there were “Some outrageous comments from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the recent nuclear deal between the U.S. and other Western powers.” Stewart then adds, “Ooh, outrageous comments from Rouhani. Ooh, I have them right here, actually. Here's what he said. ‘Secretary of State John Kerry turned up here, acting out of misplaced obsession and messianic fervor. ... The American security plan ... is not worth the paper it's printed on.’ You can't talk smack about America and not get hit hard, Iran! That shit don't... (listens to earpiece) wait, I'm sorry, I'm being told... I'm sorry, that statement wasn't from the Iranian President Rouhani, it was from the Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon. I apologize. I'm sorry, I apologize. He was talking about the Palestinian peace talks situation, and his lack of interest in a two-state solution. That's my bad.

7. How do you solve a problem like Sharia

March 8, 2011

Here, Stewart not only goes after Islamophobia but the Israeli settlers in the West Bank. We learn that Congressman Peter King is holding hearings on radicalization of American Muslims, because these Muslims are not doing enough to stop homegrown terrorism. Stewart says, “Wow. It’s not enough for US Muslims to be law-abiding. To avoid Congressional investigation, they have to be actively stopping terror plots.” Then he adds, “Oh my God. Wait until they find out I’ve done nothing to stop the West Bank settlements!”

# 5 Atheist and Muslim Billboards That Really Pissed Off Right-Wing Christians

In weeks past, we’ve brought you some outrageous signs and billboards posted by right-wing Christian churches. It turns out certain people can dish it out a lot better than they can take it. Here are some signs posted by people of other beliefs that caused major upset among conservative Christians.

1. Come out of the Christian Closet!

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The organization American Atheists doesn't hate Christmas. They believe in celebrating the holiday season. They just don’t think the religious stuff makes sense.  Or, as they put it on a billboard in Manhattan’s Time Square, “Keep the MERRY. Dump the MYTH.” Now, it may look at first glance like these American Atheists are themselves confused. They don't buy the whole son of god thing, but they're OK with Santa Claus? Seems pretty gullible to me. What they're saying, of course, is that they enjoy the Christmas festivities without needing it to be Christian. As the organization’s president David Silverman explained, “If you know god is a myth, you do not have to lie and call yourself ‘Christian’ in order to have a festive holiday season. You can be merry without the myth, and indeed, you should…. We encourage people to be honest with themselves and their families this year. If you don’t believe in God, tell your family — honesty is the greatest gift, and they deserve it.

The billboard inspired not only honesty but some major wit from Answers in Genesis, the multimillion-dollar Christian ministry behind the Creation Museum outside Cincinnati. They responded by spending \$200,000 on their own Time Square ad, which read, "To all of our atheist friends: Thank God you're wrong." As Answers in Genesis president Ken Ham explained, "We're not trying to attack them personally, but we do believe they're wrong. From an atheist's perspective, they believe when they die, they cease to exist. And we say no, you're not going to cease to exist; you're going to spend eternity with God or without God. And if you're an atheist, you're going to be spending it without God." Sounds pretty Christian to me.

2. Merry Xmas and Happy Holocaust!

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Lest you think American Atheists limit themselves to flat graphic art, they also posted a video on a digital billboard in Time Square. Guess they like the neighborhood. “Who needs Christ during Christmas?” asked the 40' x 40' installation last December. According to American Atheists president David Silverman, Christmas isn’t just for Christians: “We all love this time of year…Christianity has been trying to claim ownership of the season for hundreds of years. But the winter solstice came first and so did its traditions. The season belongs to everybody.”

But not everyone was so happy about this Happy Holiday billboard. State Senator Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) called the billboard an “expression of hatred,” saying, “Just as millions of Americans are preparing to celebrate Christmas, the American Atheists organization has ridiculed the solemn beliefs of millions of New Yorkers.” What’s worse, this billboard, like so many other things that have absolutely nothing to do with the Holocaust, will lead to the holocaust: “Religious persecution of the kind that similarly led to the Holocaust began with small baby steps of ridicule and hatred of the religious beliefs of others.”

3. 1-800-MUSLIMM (leave on the last M for Mohamet)

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As an anchor from the Christian-Right friendly My Fox News ominously states, “While most billboards you drive by on the New Jersey Turnpike advertise things like hotels or cars, the billboards getting attention recently advertise a certain religion and are stirring up controversy.” Why the controversy? Because the certain religion is… wait for it… Islam!

One billboard placed by the Islamic Circle of North America has an American flag in the background and the words “Islam, Get the facts.” As if that invitation to learn is not sufficiently incendiary and provocative, another reads, “Ramadan—1.57 billion celebrating—find out why.” My Fox News isn’t the only one concerned. So are some of the people they interview. One concerned citizen says, “I don’t think they should be up there.” Why? Because of 9/11: “Everyone believes that that group did it, religious or not.” I’m not sure what he means, since Muslims are, by definition, religious. He may be suffering from that Muslim/terrorist/Arab confusion syndrome.

4.  Guess who's Muslim and has two opposable thumbs and walks on water? THIS guy (Jesus Christ)

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Unfortunately, these weren’t the only Muslims trying to terrorize people by suggesting their religion has any validity. Ask a Muslim, an Ohio-based educational website about Islam, decided to teach a little bit about Jesus Christ through billboards, which read, "Jesus is Muslim" and "Muslims love Jesus too." These signs were less than kosher to certain Christians, like Dave Daubenmire of the very holy Pass the Salt Ministry, who responded with a "Jesus Is Lord" prayer vigil and protest. As he explained in a press release, he doesn’t oppose free speech unless it’s free speech with which he disagrees: “Although we support the Islamic community's right to free speech, as well as their right to post messages on billboards, we do not support the hijacking of the name of Jesus Christ in their attempt to lure uninformed Christians into their religion."

He also objected to the way the signs hurt Christian feelings by even suggesting an alternative interpretation of Jesus: "During this most Holy Lenten Season we find the messages on the billboards to be insensitive, dishonest and deserving of a response from concerned Christians. We will be on the streets to proclaim Jesus is NOT Muslim but Jesus is Lord!!”

5. The existence of Atheism is a LIE!

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The American Atheists wanted to advertise their convention in Salt Lake City with a billboard which played on an “I’m a Mormon” campaign, and substituted the word atheist for Mormon. But not a single Utah company would sell AA any ad space. Perhaps crossing out the word Mormon was a little too Mormon-insensitive. Fine. But the following signs were also rejected.

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Why were billboards daring to acknowledge the existence of atheist students, families and senior citizens deemed unacceptable? The company YESCO explained that, “In rare instances, we reject advertisements that we find to be misleading, deceptive or offensive to the moral standards of the community." I guess there really isn’t a single member of the three populations who is an atheist. Or AA isn’t really having a convention? Or it’s not really in April? Unclear. But somehow, the signs are misleading and deceptive.

# 10 Most Un-Christian Church Signs

Last month, we rounded up up some of the most absurd right-wing Christian billboards that accost drivers with messages of fire and brimstone. But the billboards are dwarfed by the seemingly countless number of offensive plain old church signs. Apparently, creativity flows when there are fewer financial constraints. So, without further ado, here are 10 cringe-inducing signs deemed appropriate to place in front of houses of worship.

1. Offensive and illiterate. To make this sign, just take the Obama/Osama classic and add three pinches of stupidity. First assume that parents give their sons the same name, minus one letter. Then misspell "hmmm" or "hmm." And finally, omit all punctuation. The genius behind the sign, Pastor Roger Byrd of the Jonesville Church of God in Jonesville, South Carolina, explained his process as well as the deep meaning not immediately evident: “See, it asks a question: Are they brothers? In other words, is he Muslim? I don’t know. He says he’s not. I hope he’s not. But I don’t know." Byrd was going for totally non-offensive fear-mongering, Muslim-baiting: “And it’s just something to try to stir people’s minds. It was never intended to hurt feelings or to offend anybody… It’s simply to cause people to realize and to see what possibly could happen if we were to get someone in there that does not believe in Jesus Christ.”

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2. The meek shall NOT inherit the earth. Contrary to Jesus Christ's consistent and unequivocal "I'm with team poor" teachings, this church thought a good way to honor the son of God would be to adorn his house with a sign saying, "laziness and poverty are cousins.” The saying is so catchy, it has graced church signs from Sylva, North Carolina to Portland, Oregon.

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3. A three-word poem. This "Turn Or Burn" sign gives haiku a run for its money. In a mere three syllables, it gets right to the point, which is that you should embrace God or suffer eternal damnation. The fact that the poem rhymes is another reason it should be studied by all those interested in concise fear-based conversion poetry. The sign pictured is from the First Baptist Church Main St. of Little Rock, Arkansas. In addition to its poetic virtues, the message is extremely customizable! For example, it was adapted for homophobic purposes in Wilmington, North Carolina, to read, "God loves gays but hates a perverted life style. Turn or burn." Tammy Heuring, the wife of the Seagate Community Chapel pastor explains the medicinal powers of the hurtful sign: “It's kind of like salt in a wound… However, salt does heal a wound. It just hurts really bad at first.” Hurt so good!

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4. Short and not so sweet. This is another sign that doesn't waste any time, though it lacks poetry or rhyme and is more specific in its bigotry than the sign discussed above. The Islamophobia expressed in this sign is based, apparently, on a time-travel sect of Christianity which allows Jesus, who died nearly six centuries before Mohammed was born, to travel to the future, observe Islam and declare it diabolical. This sign was from the Florida church of Pastor Terry Jones, who was arrested on his way to burn 2,998 Qur'ans, one for every victim of the 2001 attacks.

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5. Blame the Jews! It’s pretty obvious that the sign below was not created with the aim of converting Jews to Christianity. But just to be sure, I checked to see what motivated the Reverend Maurice Gordon of Lovingway United Pentecostal Church, Denver, Colorado. Gordon explains that the sign isn’t hateful because the particular Jews who have the blood of Jesus Christ lord and savior on their hands aren’t alive anymore: "It would be hateful if it pointed at anybody alive today…. But this has been part of the record for 2,000 years." So, the sign isn’t about recruiting Jews or spreading hate. What, then, is its aim? According to Gordon, it was to encourage people to read the Bible. Because nothing makes me want to read a book more than an anti-Semitic excerpt.

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6. Vote for the lesser of two infidels. Pastor Ray Miller, who put up this sign in front of his church in Leakey, Texas, isn’t a big believer in separation between church and state or the IRS, which prohibits non-profit organizations from endorsing candidates. So, with this VOTE FOR THE MORMON, NOT THE MUSLIM. THE CAPITALIST, NOT THE COMMUNIST, Miller combines an explicit illegal intervention in electoral politics with an ad-hominen and inaccurate (if only Obama were less of a capitalist) attack.

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7. White on black crime (against God). Interestingly, the church boasting this sign isn’t located in the bible belt. It is actually the Atlah Worldwide Missionary Church in New York City. There’s a lot to unpack in this sign. Although it’s not exactly clear how, Obama’s stance on same-sex marriage has dire demon-based implications for black men. Specifically, white demons, suffering a double jungle-homo-fever, will wreak havoc on the black nuclear family.

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8. Shut your pie hole for God. I would think that people who believed in God and heard him speak, would imagine or hear a very commanding voice. Apparently, however, God is a close talker. So his words of wisdom are easy to miss. Or as Pastor Ricky Patterson of the Valiant Church of God in Cleveland, Tennessee put it rather grouchily, IF YOU WOULD SHUT UP, YOU COULD HEAR GOD’S VOICE. I’m pretty sure that isn’t in the Bible. Or if it is, it’s not a very good translation.

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9. A Katy Perry-based cautionary tale. Katy Perry may be the daughter of a preacherman. And he may say things like “You know how to make the Jew jealous? Have some money, honey." But even those Christian Right bona fides won’t get the pop singer a get-out-of-hell (or jail, depending on where you live) free card for singing about locking lips with a lady in her hit "I Kissed a Girl (and I liked it)." Reverend Dave Allison, of Havens Corners Church in Blacklick, Ohio describes the loving intentions behind a sign that says "I KISSED A GIRL AND I LIKED IT THEN I WENT TO HELL: We meant that as a loving warning to teens.” I can feel the love.

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10. Sex isn't church. If I were a member of the Catholic clergy, I'd probably stay away from any joke involving sex and the church. And I certainly wouldn’t make a sex-church joke to try to guilt people into anything, like showing up. But, luckily for us, the person behind this Catholic church sign showed no signs of awareness or sensitivity toward the victims of the Church's sexual abuse epidemic. In that way, theSt Cyril of Alexandria Church, located in Houston, Texas does a good job representing the Vatican. So, good job, signmaker!

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# 5 Conservatives Who Are Still Mad That Women Have the Right to Vote

Misogynists say the darndest things. Take, for example, the claim, verbatim, that "women's suffrage destroyed western civilization." It sounds like something Stephen Colbert would say, but it's something a real live blogger and YouTube sensation actually wrote... on the Internet... on purpose... in the 21st century.

For your enjoyment, we've rounded up some of the people who are freaking out that women are enfranchised, and some of the reasons female enfranchisement is freaking some people out.

1. Women's suffrage: Responsible for the evil that is Cam and Mitchell, the gay parents on "Modern Family."

Earlier this month, David Barton explained the origins of women’s disenfranchisement in the United States. Now, Barton isn’t just the founder of WallBuilders, an organization whose mission is "educating the nation concerning the Godly foundation of our country." Barton also fancies himself a historian and has not only a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oral Roberts University but an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Pensacola Christian College. Barton is responsible for… discovering the (non-existent) causal correlation between banning school prayer and an increased rates of crime and alcoholism. So, we must take his historical analysis seriously. And his analysis reveals that our Founding Fathers' decision to deny women the vote in the Constitution had nothing to do with bigotry and everything to do with... you guessed it... god!

As Barton explains: “The bigotry we're told they held back then, they didn't hold.” Bigotry? What bigotry? Certainly no bigotry was coming from the framers of the Constitution, committed as they were to justice, equality, and turning black people into fractions. No. These slave-holding men weren’t anti-anyone. They were just pro-family: “And what they did was they put the family unit higher than the government unit and they tried to work hard to keep the family together.” Just as removing prayer from public school (and, you know, recognizing that whole separation of church and state thing) took away our livers and lives, bestowing women with the vote has ruined the family: “And, as we can show in two or three hundred studies since then, the more you weaken the family, the more it hurts the entire culture and society.”

Barton is that rare breed of historian who is so talented and expert he doesn’t need to look at history or provide evidence. Though he does provide some data: “We've moved into more of a family anarchy kind of thing, the 'Modern Family' kind of portrayal.” You want evidence? Turn on ABC every Wednesday at 9pm.

2. Women can’t be trusted, trust me! I’m a woman.

Feminists will be thrilled to learn that women are just as capable of sexism as men. Take Janis Lane, a Central Mississippi Tea Party president, who rues the day the vote was granted to… well… her: “Our country might have been better off if it was still just men voting.” Why would our country benefit from the disenfranchisement of women? Because of the devil.

“There is nothing worse than a bunch of mean, hateful women. They are diabolical in how they can skewer a person.” These females are not to be trusted: “The whole time I worked, I'd much rather have a male boss than a female boss. Double-minded, you never can trust them.” And if you can’t trust a female boss, how can you trust a female politician? Surely, women should be excluded from the entire political system, right? Well, not exactly. Lane has an explanation for her simultaneous participation in politics and contempt from women in politics: “Because women have the right to vote, I am active, because I want to make sure there is some sanity for women in the political world. It is up to the Christian rednecks and patriots to stand up for our country. Everyone has the right to vote now that's 18 or over (who is) a legal citizen, and every person that's 18 and over and a legal citizen should be active in local politics so they can make a change locally, make a change on the state level and make a change in Washington, D.C.”

In other words, though it is lamentable that women have political rights, because they do, Lane will do her best to fight for a world in which, one day, they won’t.

3. I have a dream! That one day this nation will rise up and repeal voting rights for women.

One of the best thinkers/bigots of the right is John Derbyshire, who got fired from the National Review for his racist guide on how to keep yourself safe from black people. You know you’re despicable when the National Review cans you for what it describes as "outlandish, nasty and indefensible" writing. Because he likes to state the obvious, Derbyshire has described himself as a homophobe and a racist. But he is being humble by omitting his sexist bona fides. For example, the homophobic, racist, sexist triple threat waxed poetic about his dreams and hopes for disenfranchisement during an interview with Alan Colmes: “Among the hopes that I do not realistically nurse is the hope that female suffrage will be repealed. But I’ll say this—if it were to be, I wouldn’t lose a minute’s sleep.”

When an incredulous Colmes clarified, “We would be a better country? John Derbyshire making the statement, we would be a better country if women did not vote,” Derbyshire responded, “Yeah, probably.”

4. "How female suffrage destroyed civilization.”

Sometimes conservatives say something so inane, so obviously based on emotion and not reality, I find it hard to believe it’s not a liberal plant pretending to be conservative to discredit the movement. But, no, Ramzpaul was being serious when he wrote his blog post “How Female Suffrage Destroyed Western Civilization.” Ramzpaul, aka Paul Ray Ramsey, is a YouTube sensation, whose wit is evident in his website’s motto: “ram this.” The Southern Poverty Law Center writes, “with a small camera and a big grin, the lanky, bespectacled, 50-year-old father of two from suburban Tulsa, Okla., has emerged as the hottest right-wing video blogger this side of former Klansman David Duke.”

The particular blog post and video denouncing female suffrage was sparked by Google’s outrageous decision to honor the 90th anniversary of the 19th amendment, by posting the following radical tag on its website: “Celebrating 90 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote.” An incensed Ramzpaul wrote “people opposed to female suffrage proved to be right beyond their wildest predictions. As Google was celebrating the 19th amendment, a British newspaper detailed the boasting of a 26-year-old woman who claims to have had sex with 5,000 different men. Single mothers, rampant divorce, abortion and falling birth rates are part of the cancer that is destroying what is left of Western Civilization. But very few people (even conservatives) fail to realize that the inception of this cancer can be found in the passage of the 19th amendment.”

He must be schooled in the same historical methods as David Barton.

5. Rights for women is wrong for Republicans.

Ann Coulter is a glass-ceiling-shattering sexist. During an interview, Coulter opined, “If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democrat president. It's kind of a pipe dream, it's a personal fantasy of mine, but I don't think it's going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women.”

It’s not just that Coulter opposes women voting because she opposes the party they tend to vote into office. It’s because to this self-loathing lady, women are just embarrassing: “It is kind of embarrassing, the Democratic Party ought to be hanging its head in shame, that it has so much difficulty getting men to vote for it. I mean, you do see it's the party of women and 'We'll pay for healthcare and tuition and daycare—and here, what else can we give you, soccer moms?'”

By the way Ann, thanks for proving the point by showing and telling that the right is indeed launching a war on women and the Democrats are, more or less, on women’s sides. That’s something the right tries to deny. So, I appreciate your honesty. How does your foot taste? Probably metallic, because you keep shooting yourself there.

Bonus: Texas’ equal opportunity disenfranchisement.

If voter ID laws are intended to disenfranchise people of color and poor people, and they obviously are, then Texas should be very proud of itself. The Voter ID laws passed in Texas were racist enough to be initially struck down by a federal panel for violating the Voting Rights Act. As the judges explained, this particular ID law “imposes strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor” and that “a disproportionately high percentage of African Americans and Hispanics in Texas live in poverty.” But then, thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision that racism is over and key provisions of the Voting Rights Act were unnecessary, Texas was able to pass the racist law in a totally legal way. People who try to vote without one of the six forms of valid ID will be turned away on the spot. What counts as a valid ID? If you’re a gun enthusiast, you’re in luck. Whip out a gun permit and you’re in. But if you’re a non-gun-owning senior or student, neither a social security nor student ID card counts. But those without acceptable IDs should, of course, feel free to travel and often pay in order to obtain an ID and exercise their constitutional vote.

Texas is just as happy to deny women their rights as it is people of color and poorer people. And if you are a woman and/or poor or of color, you are really in for a treat. Because Texas also requires that a voter ID be “substantially similar” to their name on the voter registration rolls. As Ari Berman points out, a study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that a third of all women have citizenship documents that don’t match their current legal name. So, if you have changed or hyphenated your last name, ladies, it’s a problem.

# 10 Most Absurd Right-Wing Christian Billboards

Apparently, when some conservative Christians ask themselves, "What would Jesus do?" the answer they come up with is, "Put up absurd, offensive billboards, preferably reminding passersby they're going to hell."

We've rounded up some of the more controversial billboards that have grabbed headlines lately.

1. Jesus hates tolerance almost as much as he hates you! billboard in the small town of Clyde, North Carolina doesn't seem to get the difference between verbs and nouns. It asks Coexist (verb)? Tolerate (verb)? Sexual perversion (adjective and noun). But it sure knows what God would say about all three and that's "NO!" Like mortals, God uses all caps when he's angry. This billboard doesn't hide behind that "hate the sin, love the sinner" stuff. This is straight-up, "hate the sin, and refuse to coexist with and tolerate sexual perverts." It's not clear how one goes about doing that. Stoning?
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Image via WLOS

2. Jesus is (at least trying) to watch you: Just this past Easter Sunday, the fire department of Farmington, New Mexico, responded to an act of vandalism. The Roman Catholic Churches of San Juan County had decided to place a billboard with Jesus’ face right outside of an adult book store. Eschewing the cryptic tradition of the parables, the billboard had a more direct message: “Jesus is watching you.” On Sunday, passersby noticed something lodged between Jesus’s disapproving eyes: an arrow. Police have still not discovered the identity of the bow and arrow owner. But even if he's not found on this earth, there will be hell to pay later.

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Image via KOB 4

3. Atheism creates war: E.F. Briggs, a reverend, and as you’ll see, amateur logician, put up this billboard in West Virginia. Briggs makes his intended audience crystal-clear: “Attention: Lunatics Atheists & Their Lawyers.” Then he makes some totally unfounded and nonsensical claims, which he presents as if he were Rene Descartes: “Anti-God is Anti-American. Anti-American is Treason. Traitors Lead to Civil War.” So, basically, if you don’t believe in God, you have the blood of a civil war on your hands. I wonder if Briggs considered the secessionists in the Civil War godless traitors. Something tells me he didn’t.

Interestingly, the company which placed the billboard, Lamar Billboard Company, refused to sell billboard space to the DNC. After Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) called decorated veteran and former marine John Murtha (D-PA) a “coward,” the DNC prepared a sign which said, "Shame on You Jean Schmidt.  Stop Attacking Veterans. Keep Your Eye on the Ball—We Need a Real Plan for Iraq." Lamar refused to run the DNC sign because the company doesn’t run “negative ads.” If only the DNC had followed the positive example of Briggs’ kindler and gentler treason-convicting billboard.

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Image via CafeMom

4. From God’s lips to our… billboard. It looks like lots of Christians are comfortable speaking for God these days. Take this Fort Lauderdale ad campaign funded by an anonymous donor, which consisted entirely of billboards with quotes that God never uttered in the Bible.  Turns out God isn't a big fan of the whole Big Bang Theory. You'd think he'd want to take credit for it. But apparently not.

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Image via MarkDraught.com

5. Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there was the magical thing called evolution: God's not the only one totally not impressed by the Big Bang Theory or the whole evolution thing. According to this billboard in Kansas City, "Evolution is a fairy tale for grownups." Except that it's based on fossils, facts and science, not fantasy. But, yeah. Kinda.

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6. Keep Christ in Christmas! This is a fairly straightforward billboard brought to us by the Knights of "ColumbusLong." I think they mean "Knights of Columbus Long Branch," which is in New Jersey, a state that needs all the Christ it can get given its proximity to the atheists, gays and other followers of the Anti-Christ who populate New York.

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Image via Beliefnet

7. Keep... baby Jesus fetus in Christmas? This sign, however, is a little less clear. According to this anti-choice Cleveland organization, Christmas starts with Christ, so we should keep Christ in it. And it also starts with baby Jesus as a halo-rocking fetus, so I guess we should keep him around too? So, no aborting baby Jesus on Christmas. Which sucks for atheists because that's apparently how they celebrate the holiday.

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Image via Patheos

8. Atheism will literally shoot you in the face: That's funny. I always thought there was an extraordinary amount of violence based on religious conflict, not atheism.

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Image via cafemom

9. You can't masturbate with one hand: This ad applies to people who either have one hand or require two hands to masturbate.

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Image via Christian Pundit

10. Are you confusing apes with monkeys? These billboards were put up by the organization, Who Is Your Creator, which aims to "raise awareness of the serious misrepresentations and lack of empirical science for the Theory of Evolution and its creation story for the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and common descent." They'd probably have a lot more credibility if they didn't conflate monkeys with apes, since we are more closely related to apes, not monkeys. And we didn't actually evolve from apes, we evolved from a shared ancestor. But one thing at a time.

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Image via patheos

# 10 Weirdest Things the Christian Right Thinks Will Turn Your Kids Gay

According to some, the Oscar-winning animated kids’ film Frozen is not the charming, comedic musical critics have universally praised, but rather Hollywood's latest sinister venture in gay propaganda. Moreover, Disney's latest blockbuster, based on a Hans Christian Anderson story, is not an isolated assault on the civilized world's core principle of heterosexuality, but one of the countless (10, if we’re counting) examples of seemingly child-friendly cultural and social entities that are actually gay conversion tools. Let's take a look at the dangers the Christian Right has alerted us to.

1. Frozen: Let it go gay. Let’s start with the most recent discovery. The gay agenda was spotted by Kathryn Skaggs, who blogs at A Well Behaved Mormon Woman. What makes Skaggs’ investigation so brave, besides the righteous headline, “'Frozen': Not Gonna Let It Go When Movie Advocates Gay Agenda,” is that Skaggs actually enjoyed the film. So, it wasn’t easy for her to write about how “the gay agenda to normalize homosexuality is woven into....Frozen not just as an underlying message—it is the movie.”

In her post of over 4,000 words, Skaggs fails to actually prove her point, but she does make creative leaps. She writes that “Elsa has a great power that she has been taught by her parents from the time she was a child, is not publicly acceptable and that she must fear its expression, at all cost, thus hide it from people, even her own sister who could be hurt by it—even killed. Shame is at the core of Elsa's feelings about her magical powers: same-sex attraction.”

So, whenever you feel something that isn’t socially acceptable, that something is your gayness. I’m not sure exactly how homosexuality could kill relatives, like Elsa's sister, but apparently it does. Heart attack from shock, I guess? Death by dehydration following non-stop vomiting? But anyway...

Right-wing radio hosts by day, culture studies critics by night Kevin Swanson and Steve Vaughn go even further, wondering if the film, and Disney as a whole, isn’t the work of the devil: “If I was the Devil,” asked Swanson, “what would I do to really foul up an entire social system and do something really, really, really evil to 5- and 6- and 7-year-olds in Christian families around America?... I would buy Disney.” Vaughn agreed, saying, “Then you would start making all these nice little movies that throw little things in there that make sin look enticing.”

2. Hot for Harry Potter. If only Frozen were the only kids' entertainment attempting to turn your kids gay. But, alas, Harry Potter was making gay cool long before Frozen was even a twinkle in Satan's eye. Now, you probably already know that the books, written by J.K. Rowlings, were pro-satanic and advocated all sorts of witchcraft. But you may have missed that’s it’s also propaGAYnda. Though the gays are notoriously sneaky in their messaging—one of the many things that make them so dangerous—the Harry Potter campaign was unique because author J.K. Rowling was atypically straightforward and honest when she officially announced "Dumbledore is gay."

Berit Kjos, a Christian author who rejects Rowling and the Christians who read her, was ecstatic about this smoking gun: "My first response was, `Thank you, Lord,' because this helps us show others that these books should not be used in the churches to illustrate Christianity. Because Dumbledore has been revealed as a homosexual, it helps me communicate my message… It helps Christians who are concerned about the use of Harry Potter books in churches, because it makes it very clear that these books are not intended to be Christian, that Rowling isn't speaking as a Christian. She has introduced values that are contrary to the biblical message."

Kjos wasn’t the only one praying that the outing of Dumbledore would serve as a wakeup call. Laura Mallory, a mother of four from Georgia who worked to get Harry Potter banned from school libraries said, "My prayer is that parents would wake up, that the subtle way this is presented as harmless fantasy would be exposed for what it really is: a subtle indoctrination into anti-Christian values…. A homosexual lifestyle is a harmful one. That's proven, medically."

Putting aside the lack of medical proof suggesting homosexuality is harmful, let’s look at the proof that the books are, indeed, gay propaganda. As someone wrote on Kuro5hin.org, “a community of people who like to think,” Harry Potter is “about a boy who lives in a cupboard (i.e. ‘in the closet’). His Aunt and Uncle are ashamed of him because his parents were quite eccentric (i.e. ‘flaming’) and they are deeply concerned and afraid that he will turn out just like them.”

So, Harry was the spawn of a flaming homosexual-heterosexual union. Interesting. That’s not all: ”On his 11th birthday (i.e. roughly at the onset of puberty), the boy discovers that he is actually a ‘wizard’, different in both style and substance from normal people, or ‘muggles’ (i.e. ‘breeders’). The boy is groomed into his new existence by a large, hairy bear of a man who shows Harry a hidden underground community of ‘wizards’ living right under the noses of the general population (i.e. the gay subculture). Harry's first trip to this subculture involves traveling through ‘Diagon Alley’, a play on the word diagonally (i.e. not straight).” If the last sentence doesn’t prove how diagonal Harry’s character is and how pro-diagonal the books are, I don’t know what will.

Perhaps this? In her understated plea “Christian Parents: Stop Trusting Harry Potter” Linda Harvey, the president of “Mission America, which monitors both the homosexual agenda directed at children as well as paganism among American youth” writes, “But Dumbledore is a made-up figure, and as such, he’s up for critique, review and remodeling. Why make him ‘gay,’ one wonders? Why now? An agenda seems to be lurking. The link between pagan/occult spirituality and outlaw sexuality has always been strong, one more reason to keep impressionable kids away from the increasingly weird genre of ‘fantasy’ books and movies. These spirits are real and seek to intrigue, deceive and sidetrack the children handed to them. And that’s exactly what we are doing—handing them our precious children, believing there’s no harm.”

3. Penguins. The gay agenda folks do not limit themselves to film or television. One of their most dangerous recruitment tools is a children’s book (with a pretty racy title): And Tango Makes Three. The book is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap (I don’t know what this is, but it sounds pretty gay to me) penguins, who lived in the Central Park Zoo in the very gay city of New York. Zookeepers observed that Roy and Silo had made a nest together and were seemingly trying to hatch a rock, which looked like a penguin egg. So, what did these zookeepers do after observing this deviant behavior? Did they separate the two? Did they initiate ex-gay-conversion therapy? No. They enabled the behavior by giving them the egg of another penguin couple, Porkey and Betty, who had two eggs they could not hatch at once. Roy and Silo took turns sitting on top of the egg until it hatched a female chick, which the zookeepers named Tango, after the very hedonist, sexual dance.

Co-writer and senior penguin keeper Rob Gramzay claims, “We wrote the book to help parents teach children about same-sex parent families. It's no more an argument in favor of human gay relationships than it is a call for children to swallow their fish whole or sleep on rocks.” But, conveniently, the writers failed to follow up on what ultimately happened to Roy and Silo. After a six-year-long sinful relationship with Roy, Silo was able to come around to the light side. He left Roy for Scrappy, a female penguin. The two forged a healthy heterosexual union, as god designed.

Candi Cushman, education analyst for Focus on the Family Action, calls the book, “very misleading”: “it’s a very disingenuous, inaccurate way to promote a political agenda to little kids.” The breakup did occur after the book was published. But surely, responsible children’s book writers would have written a sequel like And Scrappy Makes God Happy. Sadly, Tango was obviously damaged by being raised by two penguin daddies and she entered into an unhealthy lesbian-penguin relationship with another female named Tanuzi.

Luckily, this outrageous attempt at indoctrination was met with protest from the right. Between 2006 and 2010 Tango Makes Three was number one on the American Library Association’s “Ten Most Challenged Books” list. Across the nation, righteous parents have attempted to ban the book.

4. Fox News!? Though not all children watch Fox News, many of their parents do. A report  called “Unfair, Unbalanced and Afraid: Fox News’ Growing Pro-Homosexual Bias and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA),” released by the just-as-loony-as-it-sounds website America’s Survival, Inc. explains how the media company is endangering our children: “With pro-‘gay’ attitudes dominating newsrooms, few journalists seem willing to pursue stories that might offend America’s powerful and well-funded homosexual activist lobby. This would include investigating how escalating ‘gay power’ represented by pro-LGBT ‘nondiscrimination’ laws subject even very young children to inappropriate pro-homosexual ‘lessons’ in school, thus undermining both children’s innocence and parental rights.”

Fox News is a particularly dangerous harbor of homosexual propaganda because people expect so much more from it: “Why concentrate on Fox? Because Fox News has inordinate influence with conservative Americans and with the Republican Party—which is also retrenching its opposition to 'gay rights.' And because Fox holds itself to a high standard of being 'Fair and Balanced'— i.e., not sharing the notorious bias of the dominant liberal media.”

How do we know the homosexual agenda has managed to infiltrate Fox News? The dearth of coverage of ex-gays who were converted into straightdom is one telltale sign: “Homosexual activists are desperate to keep happy FORMER homosexuals out of the media. Why doesn’t Fox’s Sean Hannity or 'Fox & Friends' do a segment on happy ex-‘gays’?” Answer: because they are taking orders from these desperate Homosexual activists. More proof? "Pushing Sean Hannity out of the 9:00 p.m. slot, to make way for pro-homosexual advocate Megyn Kelly, is another sign of the channel's left-ward drift and decline."

I guess Hannity, who caves to gay pressure by not having at least one ex-gay guest per episode, is better than FOG (Friend of Gays) Megyn Kelly, who once actually used the phrase “marriage equality” (instead of gay marriage) on LIVE NATIONAL TV! Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly claims that the whole gay marriage "thing" will cause unions with a “goat," "duck," "turtle," and "dolphin." And Fox News Radio’s Todd Starnes is obsessed with President Obama’s alleged homosexual relationship with Reggie Love. And Shannon Bream had a special segment called “The Fight for Faith” in which she warned that anti-discrimination ordinances were "reverse discrimination" and a “First Amendment rights issue.” And Tucker Carlson does consider laws mandating that businesses serve gay customers “fascism.” And Megyn Kelly herself does fear that if businesses can’t discriminate against gay people, Catholic Churches will be forced to perform gay weddings. But none of that can outweigh the pro-gay bias of Fox News. It’s that bad.

5. T&A TSA. Not surprisingly, the government is part of the gay recruitment agenda. Now, many conservatives are hip to the way the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) combines scanning, pat-downs and non-discrimination policies to subject travelers to homosexual inspection. For instance, Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), asked, “Is it fair to travelers who may end up getting ‘groped’ by homosexual TSA agents who are secretly getting turned on through the process….The reality is, most traveling men would not want Barney Frank to pat them down at the airport security checkpoint.”

But Eugene Delgaudio (R), who represents Louden County, Virginia, on the Board of Supervisors, was one of the first people to spot the special effect it would have on children. He explains himself and his mission in this fundraising letter he sent to his supporters:

I took a stand against the TSA and their "porno scanners" and blatant groping. And I took a stand against their policy of "non-discrimination" which subjects you and me to humiliation and dehumanization at the hands of practicing homosexuals. How it exposes those most precious to us—our children—to being photographed by naked scanners or explicit sexual touching by practicing homosexuals…. These TSA policies force terrified parents to choose between salivating radical homosexual employees viewing pornographic images of their child or a full-on molestation.

So… there’s that.

6. Homosexuality-fostering foster care. California’s (AB-1856) Bill requires that the existing training programs mandated for foster parents and caregivers include “instruction on cultural competency and sensitivity relating to, and best practices for, providing adequate care” to LGBT youth. Focus on the Family was concerned that the bill would “drive Christian couples away.” If this happens, how many children will be denied the gift of unloving and homophobic foster parents who would opt out of foster care before undergoing sensitivity training?

But it’s much worse than that.

As Dale O'Leary, author of The Gender Agenda and One Man, One Woman explains, “A child who’s been sexually abused by a person of the same sex, (particularly if the child is a boy), is going to have doubts about his identity. And he needs help to get through that. If we push homosexuality on him, or these gender-identity ideas, it’s just going to confuse him… One of the outcomes of sexual child abuse is concern about one’s sexual attractions and identity.”

Luckily, Dale isn’t the only one with a good head on her shoulders. Phil Burress, president of the Ohio-based anti-gay group Citizens for Community Values, says, “This is the way the homosexual activists continue to build their numbers — is to get people confused about their gender identity and start acting out….”

Every time someone goes through sensitivity training countless otherwise straight youth become confused into being gay.

7. Anti bullying-bullying. Of course the gay agenda targets schools, where they can directly indoctrinate children by teaching tolerance and, even worse, discouraging bullying. Self-described “historian” David Barton argues that bullying of LGBT kids is a figment of the liberal imagination and that the bullies are in fact gay agitators who lob spitballs of tolerance at the schools: “It’s not the schools that are doing bullying, it’s the people from outside the schools coming in and saying ‘oh you got a bullying problem and we need to teach a course for you.’ The people living there didn’t see any problem.”

Liberty Counsel’s public policy analyst Shawn Akers calls out anti-bullying education for what it really is: “a form of indoctrination and reeducation that smacks of socialist and communist countries.” And for Matt Barber, director of cultural affairs with Liberty Counsel, anti bullying is nothing less than a “homo-fascist tactic.” One of the tools these homo-fascist-bullies-in-anti-bullies’-clothing use is the Day of Silence, “a day of action in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.”

But such efforts to call attention to the physical and emotional abuse of LGBT youth is too much for many Christians to bear. So, some right-wing organizations like Save California, Liberty Council and American Family Association are speaking truth to… silence, by organizing "Day Of Silence Walkouts,” in which kids are encouraged to stay home from if their school participates in the anti-bullying day. An anti-bullying message is clearly radical sexual propaganda. According to Liberty Council, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which organizes the National Day of Silence, “promotes a radical sexualized agenda, including the promotion of books that encourage sex between adults and minors. The Day of Silence has been turned into a homosexual and transsexual promotion agenda. The Day of Silence is not about tolerance or bullying. It is about pushing a sexual agenda. Students and staff who disagree with a radical sexualized agenda are demonized and made to feel like outsiders.”

Save California’s Randy Thomasson describes the Day of Silence as "another day of brainwashing for children. To have an entire academic day to be hijacked and disrupted is just a wasted school day… They should be taken into detention. They shouldn't be allowed to make a school day a day of sexual political activism.”

As for the whole higher depression and suicide rates among youth bullied over their perceived sexual orientation thing, that just goes with the territory of homosexuality, according to Barber: “Kids who are engaging in homosexual behavior often look inward and know that what they are doing is unnatural, is wrong, is immoral, and so they become depressed and the instances of suicide can rise there as well.” In other words, it’s the homosexuality, not the homophobia and the bullying that are at fault.

8. Public miseducation. The indoctrination doesn’t stop with the anti-bullying or the Day of Silence. It seeps into the very school curriculum. As David Barton warns, "I guarantee you [your kids] are getting homosexual indoctrination…. I don't care whether you're in a rural area or not, because this is so much a part of textbooks, so much a part of curricular stuff, so much a part of what goes on with other kids."

California’s SB 48 Bill mandates that curricula and textbooks include “the role and contributions of both men and women, Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, European Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups” to California and society, in general. It’s bad enough to be forced to recognize women and minorities. But talking about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans is just un-American! Before the bill was passed, Save California's Thomasson warned it "would mandate new role models— homosexual, bisexual, transsexual role models," who "kids as young as kindergarten would have to admire.” Thomasson was particularly worried that children would be forced to learn about Elton John. Thomasson predicted, "This is the kind of garbage that will be taught to kids” as the kids are led "like lambs to the slaughter.”

9. SpongeBob NOT so SquarePants. Sea sponges may reproduce asexually. So a show whose main character is a sponge is the perfect cover for a homosexual agenda. The animated series "SpongeBob SquarePants," about a sponge who spends an awful lot of time holding hands with his starfish “friend” Patrick, proves this. James C. Dobson, the founder of the conservative evangelical organization Focus on the Family, outed the sea creature for appearing in what he called a "pro-homosexual video." It turns out, SpongeBob, along with Barney and Jimmy Neutron, and other creations, were in a video that promoted… hold on... tolerance.

According to Dobson, the tolerance-peddlers behind this project were going to send copies of the video to thousands of children’s schools, where children would be forced to take a “tolerance pledge” that included tolerating "sexual identity." Actually, and shockingly, Dobson got the facts wrong. The video featuring SpongeBob was made by the We Are Family Foundation, which Nile Rodgers (who wrote the disco anthem "We Are Family,") founded after 9/11 to teach children about cultural tolerance. There is no pledge mentioned in the video. Rodgers assumes that Dobson confused his foundation, which doesn’t bring up sexual orientation, with "We Are Family," a group supporting LGBT youth.

But Dobson would not be swayed by facts. As his assistant Paul Batura explained, "We see the video as an insidious means by which the organization is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids....It is a classic bait and switch."

10. Teletubby TWINKy Winky. The Teletubbies who star in the show aimed at pre-schoolers may be adorable. But they are far from innocent. In a not-so-subtle article called “Parents Alert: Tinky Winky Comes Out of the Closet,” the late Jerry Falwell, of Moral Majority and Liberty College, exposed the show’s "subtle depictions" of homesexualism. Falwell analyzed the visual cues found in the particular character of Tinky Winky: "He is purple—the gay-pride color; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle—the gay-pride symbol."

Falwell must have been too busy suppressing his gag reflex to mention that the character also rubs his sexuality in the face of innocent pre-schoolers who have no idea what sexuality is by wearing a bag. But he did state, "As a Christian I feel that role modeling the gay lifestyle is damaging to the moral lives of children."

# 10 Insane History Lessons that Private, Religious Voucher Schools Are Teaching America’s Kids

School voucher programs are being debated everywhere you turn — in courtrooms, in state governments, and even in popular culture. Just Thursday, Republicans in Florida tried and failed to expand their state’s voucher program. On Friday, Arizona’s Supreme Court ruled that using state funds to pay for children’s education at religious and private schools was constitutional. And perhaps most importantly, “True Detective,” which was already one of the best shows ever to be on TV, became the best show ever to go after vouchers when a villain explained his desire to use the school voucher system to achieve his nefarious ends:

The whole idea was to provide an alternative to the kind of secular globalized education that our public schools were promoting. When we get the school voucher program instituted we’ll reintroduce the idea. People should have a choice in education, like anything else.
So why are vouchers so justifiably vilified? Where to start! As I have written previously, school voucher programs, which allow parents to use public dollars to pay for private education, are not only ineffective but they fail to address the rampant inequality that plagues our nation’s schools and weaken the public school system as a whole. Despite these facts, voucher schools are on the rise — and many of them are religious schools using public money to teach a distorted version of reality, which I had thought only existed 50 years ago or in over the top parodies of the right wing.

Where do these religious voucher schools get their so-called “facts”? One place is Christian publisher A Beka Book. Founded in 1972 by Arlin and Rebekah (aka, “Beka”) Horton, A Beka churns out a significant number of the textbooks used by such schools. Forty-three percent of the religious voucher schools that responded to a 2003 Palm Beach Post survey based their curricula on texts published by either A Beka Books or Bob Jones University Publishing. A Beka Book estimates that around 9,000 schools utilize their books.

And just what does A Beka Book — which in 1998 paid a \$44.5 million fine to the IRS for masquerading as a non-profit while reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in profits — teach students about, say, the creation of the world, or modern American history?
In an article I wrote for AlterNet late last month, I highlighted the “ 7 Most Absurd Things America's Kids Are Learning Thanks to the Conservative Gutting of Public Education.” But these 7 examples didn’t even begin to do justice to the way textbooks published by A Beka Book empower religious schools engaged in voucher programs to distort the truth in order to further an extremist political agenda. And I would be remiss if I failed to include additional disinformation campaigns being launched in schools around the nation.
So here are 10 further examples of totally dishonest lessons brought to you by "school choice" (aka, your tax dollars). This time I focus on five of the scariest history lessons kids are learning thanks to the popular A Beka Book title, America: Land I Love In Christian Perspective, plus five of the publisher’s most notable profiles of historical figures, taken from a variety of its books.

In a section titled "More Rumors," America: Land I Love In Christian Perspective takes on the origins of the Great Depression. The book explains that,

"Some people wanted to create an imaginary crisis in order to move the country toward socialism. They spread rumors of bank mortgage foreclosures and mass evictions from farms, homes and apartments. But local banks did all in their power to keep their present tenants. The number of people out of work in the 1930s averaged about 15 percent of the work force; thus 85 percent continued to work. Most had to take a pay cut, but prices also declined during the Depression, enabling people to buy more for their money."

See! The Great Depression was really a great hoax!

In the “Propaganda” section, under the subhead “Exaggerated Fiction,” students learn that,

"In 1939, John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath. This novel described the plight of the Okies, farm families from Western Oklahoma who went to California in search of jobs. Most families who went west did not experience the hardships that Steinbeck presented in his novel. Steinbeck openly supported labor violence and strikes instigated by socialist groups to keep the Okies from earning a living as migrant farm laborer in California.... Socialist photographers and artists produced misleading pictures of the... mountaineers of Appalachia. These mountaineers did not have the modern conveniences of homes in the town or cities but they did not consider themselves to be poor. The Depression actually had little effect on their lives.”

So, the Great Depression was a figment of the liberal, socialist, artistic imagination... a figment that happens to be supported by indisputable empirical evidence of a severe economic crisis.

2. Nazis: Brought to you by Karl Marx and Charles Darwin

The book also teaches students that "as a socialist, Hitler believed that the government should own the nation's industries and take responsibility for its people." Through socialism, the book tells us, Hitler became “the absolute dictator of Germany. By embracing socialism, the German people lost their freedoms to a tyrant."

Not to mention the role evolution played in selling the Germans on the whole Holocaust thing: "Hitler combined Marxist socialist thought with Darwin's theory of evolution. Because many Germans believed the notion of evolution, they accepted Hitler's ideas."

So in short, we have Charles and Karl to thank for the massacre of 9 million people.

3. The Post-WWII Era: A Time of Crusades and Constant Praying

According to the book’s authors, preceding the 1960s, the “moral values of biblical Christianity provided a just standard of law, order, and mutual respect, which in turn increased material prosperity…. School days often began with prayer and Bible reading, and parent-teacher meetings and civil organizations usually opened with prayer."

Furthermore, "families were strong during the 1950s. Most couples considered divorce a tragedy and made every effort to stay together and work through their difficulties.... in the larger cities, crime was primarily restricted to back alleys. People considered the occult, illegal drugs, pornography, homosexuality, and other immorality to be disgraceful sins."

It is during this exciting time in our national history that so-called “crusades” (as in, military campaigns launched by the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages, and apparently, by evangelicals in the middle of the 20th century) are carried out. As a result, evangelist Billy Graham becomes the world’s biggest superstar ever: "Evangelists conducted crusades through the nation....Graham received national news coverage, which led to large televised crusades, making him one of the best known and respected persons in America and the world."

In other words, Billy Graham was the Kim Kardashian of the 1950s. But with a smaller butt.

4. The '60s and '70s: Everything Goes to S***, Mainly Because the State Stops Killing Born People and Starts Killing Pre-Born Babies and... Freud.

We also learn from America: Land I Love In Christian Perspective that when the death penalty was suspended in 1972, “crime began to increase across the nation. In 1973, just one year later, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of abortion, the killing of babies before birth."

Coincidence? More likely God’s plan: "A lesson taught continually throughout history is that, as prosperity and new found enjoyments increase, people ‘forget’ God. As morals lessen, culture will definitely take a turn for the worst [sic]."

Which it did, according to A Beka, with an “increase in white-collar crime [and] the legalization of gambling….” But the worst part? “Many psychologists,” the authors note, began advocating “the teachings of Sigmund Freud.”

Just like it says in the scriptures: the suspension of capital punishment will be followed by the legalization of abortion, and then the return of Freud.

5. Freedom of Speech: Gateway to Porn

Though freedom of speech may sound good, it is in fact a dangerousgateway freedom. As the authors of America: Land I Love point out: "Pornographic films and books were legalized under the guise of 'freedom of speech’.”

I’m sure if PornHub had existed in the 18th century, the Founding Fathers would have nixed that whole freedom of speech thing.

A Beka Book also offers a great who’s who of American History throughout its catalogue.

1. Clarence Thomas: Greatest Example of Black American Achievement Yet

The History of Our United States, Teacher Edition instructs us that,

"By the 1990s, black Americans had made many significant political and economic gains. One great example of Black-American achievement was the appointment of Justice Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court by President George Bush in 1992. Thomas was born to poor sharecroppers in the hills of Georgia. Through his own hard work and God-given ability, he earned a law degree and achieved several important government positions."

I’m sure if the authors had more room they would have included a note on Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice and a champion of civil rights. But since they only had room for one example of “Black-American Achievement,” A Beka decided to go with the black Supreme Court justice whose success stems from (where else?) bootstrapping and god.

2. Ronald Reagan: Finally! A Non-Loser Patriot for President

America: Land I Love In Christian Perspective teaches, with extreme objectivity, that, "President Carter had failed both in foreign and domestic affairs, and the nation was ready for a change."

Luckily, Ronald Reagan was there to assume the presidency, to deliver the nation "a return to peace through strength" and "a patriotic revival.” And best of all: “He expressed a special concern for the problem of abortion."

Bonus!

3. The Clintons: Draft-Dodging, Economic-Crisis-Creating, Joint Presidents

A Beka Book teaches students that “The Liberal Media,” Bill Clinton, Ross Perot and the... economy joined forces in the 90s to create the myth of an economic crisis:

“President Bush sought reelection in 1992 on a platform of traditional values, free enterprise, patriotism and a strong military defense. He also promised to lower taxes if re-elected. Democratic candidate William Clinton... and independent candidate Ross Perot, a billionaire from Texas, campaigned on an imaginary economic crisis. In reality, the economy was strong and healthy, but the liberal media helped Clinton and Perot create a ‘climate of economic crisis,’ warning the American people that only a major change in leadership could save the nation from economic disaster."

(Sounds a lot like that fake Great Depression.)

As for the Clintons themselves: “Bill Clinton had dodged military service and participated in anti-war demonstration in Great Britain. His wife Hillary was an outspoken advocate of feminism and abortion rights.” As if that’s not enough, Hillary was also one uppity woman: "Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had campaigned with her husband, declared that she intended to share the responsibilities of the presidency with him. She promised to be as influential as Eleanor Roosevelt, who helped bring about FDR's New Deal.”

As far as the folks at A Beka are concerned, the Clintons’ victory sounded the death-knell of everything that was good: “With the election of Bill Clinton, the children of the rebellious 60s came to political power, and their values began to influence the lives of many Americans."

We still haven’t recovered.

4. George W. Bush: Awesome President Invades Iraq and Saves Mid-Born Babies

A Beka has much love for President George W. Bush and his efforts to keep America safe from harm. According to America: Land I Love, after launching a bombing campaign in Afghanistan and failing to capture Osama Bin Laden,

"the Bush administration turned to another nation known to have harbored and supported Islamic terrorists—Iraq. Governed by dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraq had been under suspicion since it was discovered in the early 1880s to be stockpiling weapons of mass destruction....By March 2003, the White House, convinced that Saddam Hussein was still hiding weapons of mass destruction, launched Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

Notably, the book omits the fact that no WMD were ever found in Iraq. But, again, there were more important things to include—like a “pro-life victory” section, which states:

“Of particular concern to pro-life Americans was the barbaric abortion method known as partial birth abortion, in which the abortionist kills the baby as it is being delivered. In November 2003, pro-life groups rejoiced as President Bush signed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban of 2003.”

In other words, Bush was as thorough at wiping out non-existent WMD as he was at wiping out non-existent abortion practices.

5. Barack Obama: Great for the Homosexuals

Finally, America: Land I Love pinpoints 2008 as a particularly bad year for American tradition, though it’s unclear precisely why. It’s probably because Barack Obama, a Marxist-Nazi-Muslim-atheist-homosexuality-approving Kenyan, was elected president:

“In 2008, the American culture stressed tolerance for people who choose to live an alternative lifestyle, a ‘lifestyle’ the Bible calls sin.”

Speaking of sin, I wonder what Jesus would have to say about taking funds intended for public use and using them for private purposes. I guess A Beka Book forgot to ask itself: What Would Jesus Do?

# 7 Most Absurd Things America's Kids Are Learning Thanks to the Conservative Gutting of Public Education

Conservatives are masters at using distortion and subterfuge to sell people on things they would never buy if properly labeled. Nowhere is this more evident than in the arena of “school choice” -- a conservative euphemism for "gutting public education from the inside out."

According to its major proponents, like the late Milton “Pinochet es mi amigo” Friedman, “school choice gives parents the freedom to choose their children’s education, while encouraging healthy competition among schools to better serve families' needs.” Sounds lovely! But, it turns out, there are plenty of well-documented problems with school choice, especially when it comes to the school voucher system, which provides families with public funds to send their children to private -- often religious -- schools.

Voucher programs in particular have been proven to be largely ineffective; they weaken the public school system, and fail to address inequality, which may be why their supporters, like the Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity and Dick Morris, love them. Through their concerted efforts, vouchers are on the rise: In 2013, 15 states started or expanded their voucher programs.

Though supported with public funds, private schools engaged in voucher programs lack the accountability and oversight applicable to public schools, so they’re not subject to the whole separation of church and state thing that forms the backbone of of American democracy. Given that, it seems fair to wonder: What kinds of lessons are our tax dollars supporting at these schools spared the scrutiny of Big Government and the burdens of the Constitution?

To find the answer, I dug into the catalog of one of the biggest publishers used by religious voucher schools: a company called A Beka Book. A Beka Book is one of the three most widely used Protestant fundamentalist textbook publishers in the country, along with Bob Jones University Publishing, published in Greenville South Carolina, and Accelerated Christian Education, published in Lewisville, Texas. Forty-three percent of the religous voucher schools that responded to a 2003 Palm Beach Post survey based their curricula on either A Beka or Bob Jones. A Beka Book estimates that 9,000 schools use its books in the classroom.

Founded by Arlin and Rebekah (Beka) Horton in 1972, A Beka Book provides “excellence in education from a Christian perspective.” Since 1977, A Beka Book has operated out of the unaccredited Arlin-founded Pensacola Christian College (PCC) in Florida. Among other rules, PCC has a zero tolerance policy for “optical intercourse” or staring too intently into the eyes of a member of the opposite sex (also known as “making eye babies”).

Though the publisher won’t reveal its finances, over the years, sales from A Beka Book have paid for PCC’s construction projects (\$300 million) and annual scholarships (\$2 million). Though the publisher used to enjoy a tax-exempt status, that privilege was revoked in 1995 because the company was (surprise!) found to be a profit-making entity. In 1998, A Beka Book paid the IRS an estimated \$44.5 million to “remove any question as to our Christian responsibility in the matter of back taxes."

The Hortons are as rigorous intellectually as they are ethically and fiscally. Here are seven invaluable lessons children learn from their A Beka Book texts, thanks in part to your tax dollars.

1. Mathematics: The Devil’s Playground

The publishing company boasts that, “Unlike the ‘modern math’ theorists, who believe that mathematics is a creation of man and thus arbitrary and relative, A Beka Book texts teach that the laws of mathematics are a creation of God and thus absolute.”

The great news for people like me who don’t really enjoy math is that A Beka Book provides “traditional mathematics texts that are not burdened with modern theories such as set theory.“ It’s unclear why the branch of mathematical logic that studies sets and is considered to be a foundational system for mathematics is so anathema to God. I assume focusing on the “union of sets” encourages too much premarital coupling and promiscuity.

2. Critical Thinking: There’s a Mnemonic Device For That

A Beka Book’s Health in Christian Perspective textbook makes it extremely clear that there is one and only one “Christian World View.” In that view, abortion—defined as "the killing of babies before birth”— for example, is a sin. But A Beka Book doesn’t just tell students what to think, it empowers them to think for themselves by employing the all-important "Biblical Discernment" method.

Like so many of  Beka’s critical thinking tools, this one comes in the form of a mnemonic device: “Use the DISCERN method,” Beka instructs, “to determine whether abortion is biblical.” The method allows students to make an informed godly choice around any issue, not just abortion. Once they've figured out whether something is biblical or not, they can engage in it and praise it, or refrain from doing it and condemn it. Here’s how DISCERN works:

• Inquire of God through prayer

• Search the scriptures

• Consider godly counsel.

• Eliminate worldly thinking.

• Never compromise the truth.

This handy mnemonic is great for moralizing and judging on the run!

3. Science: Yahweh or the Highway

Health in Christian Perspective also explains that,

“A non-Christian world view is any one that is based on the belief that there is something more reliable than the bible. The belief may come from church traditions scientific conclusions, or various theories. The most important teachings to be found in a  Christian World View are... God made the world and everything in it; The world has fallen into a tragic state because of sin; and God is working to redeem this world to Himself.”

Science that contradicts these notions, the people at A Beka Book explain, is just plain wrong. “These three teachings should influence your interpretation of any facts you study,” they note. “And if you are serious about being a Christian, they must color your view of scientific thinking.”

Also crucial is the instruction not to stray from God’s path by using science to help people. “Others may be curious about the world of nature simply because they want to improve the lives of other humans. Although Christians should also be interested in that, they should mainly be interested in loving God through the study of nature." I wonder if the Hortons want their doctors to prioritize loving God over helping their patients?

4. Guns: Our Only Protection from Nazism and Globalism

Beka’s United States History—Heritage of Freedom In Christian Perspective reminds us that the men who founded this great nation would totally oppose background checks: "The founding fathers... understood that unarmed citizens would not be able to stand against a tyrannical government.” Gun control, according to this text, is simply a "gateway to tyranny." The book’s exhaustive analysis of world history backs up this brilliant assertion: "A study of Hitler's, Stalin's and Mao's ideas on disarming their citizens shows... they were well aware of the concept that control thrives when people are unarmed."

As an added bonus, guns are also a way for America to fight against creeping... globalism: "Armed citizens could also play a major role in thwarting Globalism, the idea to bring the world together under 'one global government.' making the constitution null and void." This really speaks to America’s youth, who are nothing if not extremely concerned about globalism.

5. The Death Penalty: The Sanctity of Life Manifested

America: Land I Love In Christian Perspective laments that the death penalty, and thus the sanctity of life, have become less hip. Back in the good old days, “because people believed in the sanctity of human life, most states practiced capital punishment.”

A Beka Book knows what God was thinking when he killed people for crimes like prostitution, bearing false witness, and not crying out while being raped (if you are betrothed): “Most people believed God instituted capital punishment to discourage murder and to teach mankind the value of human life.”

Of course, “most people” doesn’t include people who opposed the death penalty. Like Jesus Christ.

6. STDs: What Happens When you Disobey God

Beka’s Health In Christian Perspective text also teaches that sexually transmitted diseases are caused by sacrilegious behavior: “Disobedience to God’s Word in the area of sexual purity can also lead to disease.” And statistically speaking, A Beka Book tells us, it is almost impossible to contract diseases from a spouse:

“Some infections, known as... STDs,  are almost always spread by direct bodily contact during illicit sexual relations (sexual relations outside God’s institution of marriage). People who live according to God’s standards of waiting until marriage to have sexual relations are very unlikely to acquire venereal diseases.”

There is no correlation, in the Beka world view, between “sex education” and preventing STDs, because such diseases aren’t caused by “a lack of scientific information or ‘sex education’ but a lack of morality and righteousness.” While A Beka Book neither believes in nor provides any “sex education,” they do offer a lifesaving “Personal Checkup” checklist, encouraging students to check boxes for things like, “I wash my hands thoroughly on a regular basis” and “I obey biblical principles regarding morality, self-control, attitude, and anxiety.”

“Unchecked boxes” the book warns, “identify conditions of risk.”

7. Homosexuality: Cultural Decay

Homosexuality is listed under United States History—Heritage of Freedom In Christian Perspective’s  “Cultural Decay” section: “Traditional American family values have dramatically declined....When [the family] comes under attack, all of society suffers.”

Though it’s not clear how, the media have emboldened homosexuality by showing violence and attacking fathers and husbands: “The media has increasingly belittled fathers and husbands, portrayed blatant violence, and laughed at immorality. One result has been the increased acceptance of homosexuality.”

In other words: Every time there is violence on the screen, or a man is mocked by a feminist, or a heathen cracks up over sin, a homosexual is recruited and a family is attacked. But you already knew that.

This is but a mere sampling of A Beka’s righteous lessons. Check back soon for more.

# 10 Worst Sex and Relationship Tips From the Christian Right

We may have survived yet another war on Christmas. But we must remain vigilant. For the very same secularist, Muslim, homosexualist, communist, atheist freedom-haters who try to take the Christ out of Christmas (and put the melanin into Santa and Jesus) are attacking the very nexus of our entire 2,000-year-old (give or take) Earth: the relationship between man and wife. But have no fear. Below are some handy and holy tips on love, relationships, dating and marriage, which allow you to please yourself (not that way), your mate and your Lord.

1. Girls: shut up. Justin Lookadoo (how sexy is that name!) is a faith-based dating coach, motivational speaker and former juvenile probation officer (killer combo). His books include Dateable: Are You? Are They?The Dateable Rules and The Dirt on Sex. Lookadoo's website offers the following gems:

• “Dateable girls know how to shut up. They don’t monopolize the conversation. They don’t tell everyone everything about themselves.”
• Shutting up also prevents girls from doing undateable things like asking boys out.
• “God made guys as leaders. Dateable girls get that and let him do guy things, get a door, open a ketchup bottle [never thought of that one]. They... let guys be guys. Which means they don't ask him out!!!!!”

Also, a dateable girl "isn't Miss independent."

2. Boys: be wild, but godly, and cover up your ladies. Lookadoo says dateable boys "bring God into it." But that's more fun than it sounds, since "men of God are wild, not domesticated. Dateable guys aren't tamed." But that doesn't mean being too wild: God's dateable guys know "porn is bad for the spirit and the mind. They keep women covered up."

3. Share an eating disorder. The Christian Broadcast Network has some (101, to be exact) ideas for "Creative Dates." A few of my favorites are nutrition-related: “Make up a fun diet together,” or “Eat creatively one whole day for \$1.18.”

4. Engage in strange, antisocial and alienating behavior. Among the CBN's date ideas are, why not "Kidnap a friend for breakfast ... visit the library and ask the librarian a bizarre question ... develop a new laugh together ... survey the neighborhood with a self-made, bizarre questionnaire ... go to the airport and watch people ... run your own neighborhood day camp for one day."

5. Pretend to be senior citizens. The 101 dating tips above are so fun you'll probably run through them in no time. But don't despair. Focus on the Family has even more great suggestions, including, “Date like you're from the generation older or younger than you actually are. Eat ice cream cones and rollerblade in the park for a date fit for teenagers. If you prefer senior-style fun, eat applesauce, play bingo and watch a black-and-white movie.” While you’re at it, rock some Depends underwear, blast Fox News, and complain about having to keep up with the latest terms for black people.

6. Transcribe the Bible together. If you want to bring religion directly into your date, try out the following Focus on the Family idea: "Find a flat piece of scrap wood and use a permanent marker to write out your favorite Bible verses. Take it to a nearby beach, river or lake and toss it in the water. This may be of great encouragement to whoever finds it later on." Fun for you, fun for your date, and totally creepy for the random person who finds it! What’s not to like?

7. Wives: keep the devil out by submitting. Karen Blake, the author of Do You Hear the Battle Cry? An Essential Handbook for the Wives of Christian Men, has a lot to say about marriage. The bad news is that, "Satan is out to kill your marriage and destroy your ministry." (But we already knew that.) The good news is that "God has given you the tools to defeat him." One of the best Satan-defeating tools is submission: "The devil has worked for centuries to set up a world system that says a strong woman must never submit to a man. It says, "Submission means getting walked on." God clearly commands, "Wives, be subject—be submissive and adapt yourselves—to your own husbands" (Eph. 5:22, Amplified)." As usual, Michele Bachmann is right.

8. Put out so your husband behaves. In her Christian.com-published book No More Headaches: Enjoying Sex & Intimacy in Marriage, Julianna Slattery offers some great tips on how women can help their helpless husbands resist temptation. Take the story of Sheila and Mark:

“While Sheila seemed content to put their sexual relationship on hold for the time being, Mark responded by initiating more frequently. If he was a deer panting for water, she was a camel who seemed capable of walking through the desert for months at a time without a water break. [powerful imagery!]

Over time, Mark began to direct his sexual needs through masturbation and light pornography. A few nights a week, he would stay up late, surfing channels, hoping to catch a glimpse of something sexual. The guilt and shame he felt only intensified the rift of intimacy in their marriage.... More than anything else, he longed to be pure, to share his sexuality only with Sheila. But life was too busy, his desire too strong, his will too weak, and the gulf between them too great.

Like Mark, your husband depends on you to be his partner in his battle against sexual temptation.... you are a key component in his victory. You're the only woman in the world whom your husband can look at sexually without compromising his integrity!”

9. Dump your Muslim girlfriend. Pat Robertson has much good advice for relationships. A Christian (duh) viewer of Pat Robertson's 700 Club asked the holy host if he should marry his Muslim girlfriend of three years. Pat's answer: “No way.... She wants to do her Muslim thing....Walk away.” Worried that walking out on a girlfriend isn’t the Christian thing to do? Don’t worry. It totally is. Robertson explains, Christ is “not gentle Jesus, meek and mild, he really isn’t.” Like so many men, Jesus Christ is merely misunderstood.

10. Stay married to your husband who sexually abuses your kids. In her surprisingly not very forward-thinking book, Created To Be His Help Meet: Discover How God Can Make Your Marriage Glorious, Debi Pearl literally tells women to stay with their abusive husbands:

“But if your husband has sexually molested the children, you should approach him with it. If he is truly repentant (not just exposed) and is willing to seek counseling, you may feel comfortable giving him an opportunity to prove himself…. Stick by him, but testify against him in court. Have him do about 10 to 20 years, and by the time he gets out, you will have raised the kids, and you can be waiting for him with open arms of forgiveness and restitution. Will this glorify God? Forever. You ask, “What if he doesn’t repent even then?” Then you will be rewarded in heaven equal to the martyrs, and God will have something to rub in the Devil’s face. God hates divorce — always, forever, regardless, without exception.”

God totally hates divorce. But he hearts abuse!

# The Top 10 Right-Wing Stocking Stuffers: Gifts for the Hardcore Conservative People in Your Life

Though the right-wing says bah humbug to multiculturalism and diversity,  the right wing is, in fact,  a surprisingly diverse group. Not every right wing gift is suitable for every right wing person. So here are some different gifts that will appeal the different kind of right wingers in your life.

1. For Your Fitness-Conscious Friends: Pat Robertson's Diet Shake. This gift is perfect for your fuller-figured friends or people who want to get into shape so they can fight against the War on Christmas more effectively. Pat's Diet Shake "is proven to promote an increase in lean muscles, significant weight loss and an overall improvement in heart health." The 720,000 people who've bought it can't be wrong. And Pat attributes his unbelievable ability to leg press 2,000 pounds to his shake. You can order it in Creamy Vanilla or Double Chocolate for only \$21!
2. For Your More Literary Friends: Sarah Palin's Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas. Your more literary friends will love this opus. It's not only a great read, but a practical guide. And, according to the book's own author: "It might just change your life." In her typically astute and eloquent style, Palin presents an even-handed critique of the Christmasphobes, whose "vision is a secular winter festival, which launches on Black Friday and ends sometime afterKwanzaa. People who hold Christmas in contempt believe the holiday can be 'saved' from its religious heritage. The secular vision wants the 'peace' and the 'goodwill toward men' without the miracle of the Virgin Birth—forgetting, of course, that there is no ultimate peace apart from Christ, and it is Christ who empowers every act of 'goodwill toward men' in our otherwise fallen hearts." Silly secularists and followers of other faiths! They actually think people who don't believe in Christ are capable of good will!
3. For Your Hard-To-Shop-For Friends: Hobby Lobby Gift Card. Having trouble picking out a gift for that picky person? Well, let them pick out their own gift at a store which shares their values and opposition to "death of an embryo" or what the radical left calls birth control. They'll love the Rosie the Riveter-inspired "I Can Do All Things Because of Christ" t-shirt or Hobby Lobby CEO David Green's book More Than a Hobby, which shares Green's "cutting-edge ideas," like "keep[ing] God and family first."
4. For Your Daughter and Other Virgins: A Christmas-Themed Purity Ring. Want to know what's even more effective than abstinence only? Abstinence only and a purity ring! As PurityRing.com explains, "A Purity Ring is the most important piece of jewelry that a teen or single adult can wear." The rings "encourage purity, abstinence and chastity." I'm partial to the Protected Heart and the Georgia O'Keeffe-esque "Purity Petals" purity rings. Plus, each ring comes with a Covenant of Purity Certificate & Pledge Card!
5. For Your Gun-Toting Friends: An NRA Christmas Ornament. Nothing says Merry Christmas like decorations supporting corporate-sponsored gun lobbyists. So, check out this Christmas ornament, which the NRA wittily and punnily describes: "In 2013, the NRA played a starring role in the preservation of all Americans’ Second Amendment freedoms. So, it’s fitting that this year’s ornament is built upon a bold, ornate five-pointed star base. Constructed in three dimensional splendor, the focal point of this three-dimensional, 3” x 3” keepsake is a multi-colored NRA eagle, perched on two crossed rifles and a star spangled shield."
6. For Your Historian Friends: Bill O'Reilly's Killing Jesus. Though it seems paradoxical, gifting and reading the book Killing Jesus is a great way to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It's also the perfect way to support the War on Christmas by supporting one of the earliest and most avid defenders of CHRISTmas: Bill O'Reilly. O'Reilly was a true pioneer and saw early on the dangers posed by the War on Christmas, saying, "I think it's all part of the secular progressive agenda...to get Christianity and spirituality out of the public square.... Because if you look at what happened in Western Europe and Canada, if you can get religion out, then you can pass secular progressive programs like legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will, gay marriage." In this book, O'Reilly looks at "the events leading up to the murder of the most influential man in history: Jesus of Nazareth. Nearly two thousand years after this beloved and controversial young revolutionary was brutally killed by Roman soldiers, more than 2.2 billion human beings attempt to follow his teachings and believe he is God. Killing Jesus will take readers inside Jesus's life, recounting the seismic political and historical events that made his death inevitable - and changed the world forever." If you liked O'Reilly's Killing Kennedy or Killing Lincoln or his erotic thriller Those who Trespass, you'll love Killing Jesus
7. For Your Current Events and News Junky Friends: Fox News TV Blanket. To be fair, Bill O'Reilly isn't the only Fox News Chanel presenter who has fought to protect Christmas from countercultural attack. After all, Megyn Kelly fought to make sure children knew that Santa was undoubtedly white, as white, in fact, as Jesus Christ! In fact, the whole network contributes to making sure everyone is aware of the Nation's  biggest threat. So give the Fox News TV blanket, which allows you to "watch all your favorite FOX News Channel shows in this cozy blanket." After all, your brain will be exhausted from all the intellectual stimulation from Fox. Your body deserves to be relaxed, comfortable and cozy.
8. For Your Artistic Friends: Ted Cruz to the Future - Comic Coloring Activity Book.  Another major warrior rallying to defend this sacred holiday is Ted Cruz. First, sign the Senator's End the War on Christmas petition. Then buy this great book Ted Cruz to the Future-Comic Coloring Activity Book which "is a non-partisan, fact-driven view of how Texas Sen. Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz became a U.S. senator and details, through his quotes and public information his ideas for what he believes will help America grow. Cruz has openly identifies with the Tea Party and garners support from the Republican Liberty Caucus and many independents including democrats." It's for any age, so you don't need to be a kid to enjoy it. The books are selling like hot cakes, so If it's sold out, try buying another book in the same series, like The Tea Party Coloring Book or, if your artistic friend already has that one The Tea Party II: Why America Loves You! Coloring Book
9. For Your Movie Watching Friends: Christmas with a Capital C. If you thought the least successful and most right wing Baldwin brother was Stephen Baldwin, you'd be close but wrong. Turns out even less successful is Daniel Baldwin. But you can see him the film Christmas with a Capital C a 2010 movie about "An attorney returns to his small home town in Alaska and quickly rocks the boat by getting an injunction against the nativity display tradition and attacking Christmas."
10. For people Who Love The 2nd Amendment: World Net Daily Christmas Stocking. This is the ideal gift. Don't be fooled. This gift isn't just about the 2nd Amendment. And it's not just a stocking. It's "Stuffed with knowledge, patriotism, inspiration and joy of the season! Brighten up the life of your family members and friends with the latest thing from WND, these sensational, thoughtfully assembled – and deeply discounted – WND Christmas Stockings!" Inside, you will find:
• Say Merry Christmas (Bracelet)
• a savior is born (Bracelet)
• a savior is born (Pin)
• Say Merry Christmas (Pin)
• LOL - Pin
• WND.com Logo Easy-Off Adhesive Bumper Sticker
• Chamber Indicator Safety Device
• Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self Defense - (Paperback)
• Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-Defense (DVD)
• The Second Amendment (Paperback)
• Handguns 101: A Guide for New Shooters (DVD)
• America was Founded by Right-Wing Extremists Bumper Sticker
• Legalize the Constitution Bumper Sticker
• Whistleblower Single Issue - May 2007 (FIREARMS & FREEDOM)

# Black Woman Gets 20 Years for Firing Shot at Wall; White Man Gets 0 Years for Shooting Man in the Back 3 Times, Killing Him

A man in Florida shoots a man he finds having sex with his wife, killing him.  A woman in Florida shoots the wall to scare off an abusive husband, harming nobody. Guess which one was acquitted? Guess which one was convicted?

On March 10 of this year, around midnight, Ralph Wald, 70, of Brandon Florida, got out of bed  to get a drink and found Walter Conley, 32, having sex his wife, Johanna Lynn Flores, 41, in the living room. He immediately went back into his bedroom, grabbed his gun and shot Conley three times. Conley died. Wald claims that he thought Conley was a stranger who had broken in and was raping his wife – despite the fact that Conley lived next door, had been his wife’s roommate and lover, and had his wife’s name tattooed onto his neck and arm. During a 911 call, when the dispatcher asked Wald if the man he shot was dead, Wald responded, “I hope so!” Wald never used the word rape in later reports to police, opting instead for “fornicate.” And while the fact that the two were lovers doesn’t imply consent, Flores has never accused Conley of rape — nor do prosecutors buy that that’s what Wald actually thought was happening. They say that Wald, who suffers from erectile dysfunction, killed Conley in a jealous rage. Flores admits that she and Conley had sex regularly before and after her marriage to Wald. While testifying, Wald explained that his erectile dysfunction and his wife’s reluctance to have sex with him made them compatible: “In fact, she would joke a lot with me … that we were a perfect couple… She didn’t want to do it, and I couldn’t do it.” On May 30, after deliberating for two hours, a jury found Wald not guilty. After the verdict was announced, Wald continued to show no remorse: “If the same thing happened again, I would do the same thing.”

On Aug. 1, 2010, Marissa Alexander, a 31-year-old mother of three, with a Master’s degree and no criminal record, was working for a payroll software company in Jacksonville. She was estranged from her abusive husband, Rico Gray, and had a restraining order against him. Thinking he was not at home, she went to their former house to get some belongings. The two got into an argument. Alexander says that Gray threatened her and she feared for her life. Gray corroborates Alexander’s story: “I was in a rage. I called her a whore and bitch and . . . I told her… if I can’t have you, nobody going to have you,” he said, in a deposition. When Alexander retreated into the bathroom, Gray tried to break the door. She ran into the garage, but couldn’t leave because it was locked.  She came back, he said, with a registered gun, which she legally owned, and yelled at him to leave.  Gray recalls, “I told her… I ain’t going nowhere, and so I started walking toward her…I was cursing and all that… and she shot in the air.” Even Gray understands why Alexander fired the warning shot: “If my kids wouldn’t have been there, I probably would have put my hand on her. Probably hit her. I got five baby mommas and I put my hands on every last one of them, except for one …. I honestly think she just didn’t want me to put my hands on her anymore so she did what she feel like she have to do to make sure she wouldn’t get hurt, you know. You know, she did what she had to do.” And Gray admits Alexander was acting in self-defense, intending to scare and stop but not harm him: “The gun was never actually pointed at me… The fact is, you know . . . she never been violent toward me. I was always the one starting it.” Ultimately nobody was hurt. Nobody died. On May 12, 2012, it took a jury 12 minutes to find Alexander guilty of aggravated assault. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Both defendants used the defense of “Stand your Ground,” a Florida law that holds that a person has “no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm.” The man who shot his wife’s lover to death was successful and walks free. The woman who shot at a wall to scare an abusive husband failed and sits in jail.

These disparity between these outcomes should be shocking. But, sadly, it’s not, once you take into account the fact that Wald is white and Alexander is black. The Stand Your Ground law is notorious for being applied in a biased and inconsistent way. The Tampa Bay Times found that defendants claiming “stand your ground” are more successful if the victim is black. Seventy-three percent of those who killed a black person faced no penalty. Only 59 percent of those who killed a white person got off. The Urban Institute determined that in Stand Your Ground states, when white shooters kill black victims, 34 percent of the resulting homicides are deemed justifiable. When black shooters kill white victims only 3 percent of the deaths are ruled justifiable.

In light of these trends, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights voted to investigate whether “Stand Your Ground” laws are racially biased. Twenty-four states have Stand Your Ground laws. The statutes, which are backed by the National Rifle Association and the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, garnered national attention in February 2012 after George Zimmerman shot the unarmed African American teenager Trayvon Martin to death, in Sanford, Florida. The police decided not to arrest Zimmerman, citing Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. After this impunity sparked a pubic outcry, the police charged Zimmerman — now he’s sitting in court on trial for murder. Zimmerman waived his right to a Stand Your Ground pretrial hearing, during which a judge could have dismissed the case under the statute. (Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Trayvon Martin’s family,believes Zimmerman did this to avoid taking the stand.) But it is likely that Stand Your Ground will come up during the actual trial. If it does, we will have to see whether the defense is successful. Will Zimmerman end up a free man, like Wald? Or in jail, like Alexander?

# Top General's Unbelievably Idiotic Comment About Rape in the Middle of Military Rape Epidemic

This has not been a great PR week for the military. On Sunday a serviceman was arrested for sexual assault. And in what sounds like an Onion headline, the sexual assaulter really was the chief of the Air Force's sexual assault prevention unit. Tuesday, a Pentagon report revealed that sexual assault had jumped from 19,000 cases in 2010 to 26,000 in 2012. That's an increase of 35%! Another highlight of Tuesday was testimony from the Air Force's top commander, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Welsh managed to trivialize sexual assault both by emphasizing how common it was in society outside of the military and comparing it to consensual sexual interactions. Welsh noted that 20% of women report they had been sexually assaulted,

“before they came into the military…. So they come in from a society where this occurs…. Some of it is the hookup mentality of junior high even and high school students now, which my children can tell you about from watching their friends and being frustrated by it.”

Wow. Welsh is a true renaissance man. A general and a social scientist who studies sexual behavior. Somehow, however, he fails to grasp that really subtle distinction between sex between consenting adults and rape. In all fairness, he's doing a great job representing the military, which is unable to recognize or respond to sexual assault and rape.

Sexual assault in the military is systemic and rampant, not an isolated incident. In fact, a woman serving in Iraq or Afghanistan is more likely to be raped by a fellow service member than to be killed in the line of fire. Since 2006, more than 95,000 service members have been sexually assaulted in the U.S. military. More than 86% of service members do not report their assault. Less than five percent of all sexual assaults are prosecuted, and less than a third of those cases result in imprisonment. There are an estimated 13,000 homeless female veterans in the U.S. and 40% of them reported experiencing sexual assault. An Air force brochure on sexual assault advises women how to respond to rape: “It may be advisable to submit [rather] than resist,” As Spencer Ackerman writes, "it does not offer instruction to servicemembers on not committing sexual assault. Prevention is treated as the responsibility of potential victims."

Instead of shifting the blame and responsibility onto victims, attributing the epidemic to the prevalence of sexual assault outside the military, or to  so-called "hook up" mentality, the military needs to take responsibility and enact policy changes.

# The Top 10 Movies to Inspire GOP Insanity During the Debt Ceiling Vote

Last week, Republican Representative Kevin McCarthy attempted to unify his party behind Speaker Boehner's "cut, snip and slash" bill by showing them an inspiring scene from the film The Town, which contains the following exchange between two criminals:

Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck): I need your help. I can't tell you what it is. You can never ask me about it later. And we're going to hurt some people.

James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner): Whose car are we going to take?

It turns out the thing MacRay needs help with is beating and shooting a man. And apparently the screening was successful, inspiring Rep. Allen West to say "I'm ready to drive the car."

Now the Republicans must once again unite and pass a new debt ceiling bill. But they shouldn't compromise! Their way-- all spending cuts, no taxing the wealthy-- or the debt default highway! Here are the top 10 movie scenes the GOP should be required to watch before they vote on any bill!

1) Animal House: When John Blutarsky (John Belushi) rallies his own frat brothers, saying, "Did you say 'over'? Nothing's over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"

2)

Network:

When

Arthur Jensen (played by Ned Beatty), the chairman of a media conglomerate, explains,

"There are no nations. There are no peoples.... There is only one holistic system of systems. One vast, interwoven, interacting, multi-varied, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rands, rubles, pounds and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today."

3) Trading Places: All the scenes showing how the owners of a stock brokerage firm (Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy) screw over their managing director (Dan Ackroyd) by framing him, freezing his bank accounts, shunning him and turning a successful wealthy businessman into a poor, suicidal, semi-homeless man taken in by a prostitute (Jamie Lee Curtis).

4) Red Dawn: The scene in which the gung-ho, overly confident and overly zealous Robert Robert Morris (C. Thomas Howell),  armed with nothing but one AK-47, tries to take on several Soviet (read socialist) helicopters. He winds up getting killed but that doesn't need to be shown or known. That's what the pause button is for.

5) Aliens: When Pvt. Hudson (Bill Paxton) responds to the ship crash by saying:

Well that's great, that's just fuckin' great, man. Now what the fuck are we supposed to do? We're in some real pretty shit now man... That's it man, game over man, game over! What the fuck are we gonna do now? What are we gonna do?

(This is more of a warning of what is to come than a pep talk, but it's part of the preparation.)

6) The Grapes of Wrath: When Tom Joad (Henry Fonda) delivers his memorable speech:
I'll be all around in the dark. I'll be ever'-where - wherever you can look. Wherever there's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there.

The Republicans will not be inspired by Joad's commitment to justice but they will be inspired by the dark, people going hungry, and social upheaval and violence.

7) Thelma and Louise: The scene in which Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) drive their car into the Grand Canyon. President Obama can be seen in the character Detective Hal Slocumb (Harvey Keitel), who is reasonable and sympathetic, and runs after the car in a failed attempt to stop them from driving over the edge.

8) The Wicker Man: The final scene, when Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) is sacrificed by being placed inside a huge wicker figure, which is set on fire. As the wicker man burns, the locals surround it and sing the Middle English folk-song "Sumer Is a'cumen In." Howie can be seen as entitlements or even the American people who are not billionaires, the locals as the Tea Party Republicans, and the folk song they sing as the Grover Norquist pledge.

9) Rebel Without a Cause: The scene in which Jim Stark (James Dean) and Buzz Gunderson (Corey Allen) play a game of chicken, which ends badly when Buzz, whose jacket gets caught on the door handle, drives to his death. But imagine that all the people who look over the cliff to see what happened jump in as well.

10) Born into Brothels: The scenes about the children who do NOT make it out of the red light district. Since the Tea Party Republicans are staunchly opposed to Pell Grants, need-based grants given to people who couldn't otherwise afford college, they will be thrilled to see these moving stories of social immobility and abject poverty!

# Will 2011 Bring the End of the Israeli State as We Know It?

I first heard of Jeff Halper at Israel-Palestine-related events, where people would ask me if I was related to him. It took me 30 seconds of Googling to realize that I’d love to be related to this Minnesotan anthropologist, activist, writer, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and founder and coordinator of Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions (ICAHD).

Though kindred spirits, we don’t seem to come from the same Halper stock. But we are Facebook friends, and it was through a Facebook message that Jeff informed me he’d be coming to the U.S. to raise awareness and money for ICAHD and conduct research on his next book on the Israeli arms industry. During our Halper-on-Halper interview, the non-Zionist explained why he had to move to Israel, how the most hawkish Israeli politicians are the biggest anti-Zionists, and how the recent events in Egypt are fulfilling his prediction that 2011 will be the end of Israel as we know it.

Katie Halper: What does ICAHD do?

Jeff Halper: I’ve lived in Israel now for 40-something years by now and I’ve  been involved in the peace movement from the very beginning. We started the ICAHD in the middle of the 1990s, in the context of Netanyahu’s first election. Most of us knew there was no peace process anyway, but now it was really clear. Netanyahu’s election was the wake-up call. So a number of us from different organizations got together to think about how to re-engage resistance to the occupation. And we went and talked to Palestinians and asked them what their priorities were. We asked them what they would like us to work on, what they’d like to work with us on. And the issue of house demolitions always came up.

So we took up that issue. It’s a powerful approach for a number of reasons. It’s very visual. The occupation can become very abstract. But here’s a family, here’s a bulldozer, this is their story. It’s something people can relate to. It’s also a very important source of solidarity with the Palestinians. And it’s a vehicle to show how the occupation works and to re-frame the conflict, which is really important. Israel has succeeded in capturing the public discussion, the discourse. The Israeli case can be put out in three seconds: it is a small Western democracy (read white), besieged by Arab Muslim terrorists.

That’s it, you got every buzzword in there. it’s clear--even Glenn Beck can get it--and it's compelling. It fits into the clash of the civilizations theory, the idea of the us versus them, the good guys against the bad guys, the white people against everyone else. It reduces the entire conflict to terrorism, which itself is such a loaded term. So it effectively cuts off every type of discussion because if we get into a discussion on the basis of Israeli framing, you lose. The minute  somebody says, “We're defending ourselves against terrorism,” what are you going to say to that?

It’s a trap and, of course, it deflects all attempts to get at what the conflict is really about and holding Israel accountable.

What’s left out of Israel’s framing is the word “occupation.” Israel denies it has an occupation. So you've got to re-frame the conflict. Out of the 25,000 homes that have been demolished, almost none of them have been demolished over security. Here in these photos, are men in front of demolished houses.  If these were terrorists they wouldn't be there. They’d be in jail or they'd be dead. They wouldn't be just hanging around.  The knee-jerk reaction if you’re coming from Israeli framing is these are houses of terrorists.

But the demolitions are for other reasons for the most part. One is because since 1967, Israel has refused to grant building permits to Palestinians. So, you’re a Palestinian--you have children, you have grandchildren, you have to live somewhere. And so you build, which is illegal to do without a permit, and then you get your house demolished.

So then the question is...if this isn't for security, then why did Israel demolish this house? Now you've got a real question here that the so-called pro-Israel people can't answer because they're framing is 100-percent based on security and terrorism. They start hemming and hawing because they don't want to talk about occupation; they don’t want to hold Israel accountable. And then we go on and say, you know, you can’t use security to explain most of what Israel does: you can’t use security to explain the settlements (Israel never claims a security justification for settlements); you can't use it to justify the expropriation of land; or the economic closure; or the impoverishment of the Palestinian population. It’s not security, it’s all part of a proactive policy of taking over an entire country.

KH: You wrote an article in December 2010, saying that 2011 was going to be the breakout year for the conflict in the Middle East. Has anything over the past few weeks since then changed or reinforced that view?

JH: Yeah, the Palestine Papers have come out that show how weak the Palestinian leaders are. I don't know if they're going to be able to survive it. I think the Palestinian Authority is going to collapse. Of course, in any other country, this situation would have ended already. But Israel has this special status of being immune not just because America protects it but Europe does too. Israel can do whatever it wants to do with impunity and it never faces any sanctions. I think that's going to change because the Palestinians are at the end of their tether; the PA is at the end of its tether; the geopolitics is changing.

KH: How does the situation in Egypt now fit into your prediction?

JH: The Egyptian revolution changes the dynamic in that part of the world. First of all, it isolates Israel in the Middle East. And if Egypt goes, which it will, then Jordan's going to go, and Israel will be completely isolated. One of the reasons the Egyptians are up in arms -- and Americans don't really understand this -- is because Zionism has really become associated with neocolonialism. And the U.S. is seen as part of that. And Egypt is seen is part of it, too.

Obama, in his State of the Union address, kept talking about the United States being a world leader of democracy, but look at its response to Egypt. Egypt is our big ally, and all of a sudden we see Egypt is not a democracy, so what are we supporting there? Not democracy, not the people--our only contribution is military. The situation in Egypt really exposed this.

The United States really has egg on its face over Egypt. I think the United States is beginning to realize how isolated it is in the Middle East. The American people don't see that because we don't give a shit, but the government is beginning to really see it. The only to break out of that isolation is to end the occupation. Because for the Muslim world, it all boils down to occupation in a way.

KH: So what will become of Israel?

JH: If the occupation goes, I think Israel goes as a discrete country. The only hope for Israel being a state would have been if Palestine were a state alongside it. But Israel eliminated that possibility. In a way, Ariel Sharon's probably the biggest anti-Zionist in Israeli history because he eliminated the possibility of maintaining a Jewish state by creating so many settlements and incorporating so many Palestinians and creating an irreversible reality. That's the irony. I’ve been in Israel since ‘67. I've been involved in the peace movement for 30-some-odd years. We've met with every prime minister, in one way or another, and we’ve asked  them the same question: “Where are you going with this?” And they don't know. I think the idea for them is it's an open-ended process, it will never end. So the only way out, as far as the Israeli government sees it, is permanent warfare.

This is how I explain how unsustainable Israel is. And this is perfect when I get a hostile audience and I know I'm not getting through to them. I say, OK, let’s try to figure this out together. Israel wants to be a Jewish country, and Israel wants to be a democracy, and Israel wants the whole country. All right, you tell me how they can do this. The problem is you can have two out of the three. You can be Jewish and a democracy but then you can't have all of the land. Then you can be Jewish and have the whole land of Israel but you're not a democracy. You can be a democracy and have the whole land of Israel but not be Jewish. So, this is the essence of the problem.

KH: So Israel is self-destructive? And the United States is the enabling parent.

JH: That's right and that's how it's protected because the United States gives it an umbrella.

KH: Has U.S. treatment of Israel already become incompatible with U.S. interests?

JH: Yes. Israel’s become a domestic issue in the United States. So you've got this situation where members of Congress feel they won't get elected if they don't support Israel. There’s a joke: why doesn't Israel want to be the 51st state? Because then it would only have two senators.

Seventy percent of the Jews in the United States are not part of the organized Jewish community, they don't go to synagogue. But the 30 percent that are organized are very vocal and very organized. Jews contribute more money to members of political parties than corporations do in the United States. And 80 percent are Democratic. If you want to get elected you're not going to piss off the Jewish community. The Republican party does the same thing with the fundamentalists. And then you get that unholy alliance with the Christian Zionists.

Sarah Palin, when she was governor of Alaska, had an Israeli flag. She’s the governor of Alaska. There have to be around six Jews living there. A New York governor, I could understand, but Alaska? You have fanatical pro-Israel people in places with no Jews, like Utah.

KH: And these Christian Zionists want us to go back to Israel, to bring back the messiah and bring on the rapture? And we’ll have the choice of accepting Jesus or burning in hell?

JH: Well, apparently, during the rapture only 144,000 Jews survive. But not more. So you and I probably are not part of that.

KH: Darn! What other players are there in addition to AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] and the Christian Zionists?

JH: There are the defense contractors. I think they’re a stronger influence than AIPAC. The United States, over the next 10 years, will be sending \$125 billion in arms to the Middle East; \$30 billion to Israel and the rest to the other countries. So obviously the defense contractors are going to be pretty pro-conflict. They certainly don’t want an end to the conflict.

KH: Getting back to Israel and Palestine, is there any chance for a peaceful solution?

JH: ICHAD doesn’t advocate a particular solution. Not a two-state, not a one-state solution, not bi-national, because first of all we say it's the Palestinians’ prerogative to tell us, it's their national struggle.

KH: Knowing what you do, why did you move to Israel?

JH: First of all, I didn't completely understand all of this. I’ve learned a lot over the last 40 years. To me there was a push and a pull. The push was I don’t like the States--there's nothing transcendent. So where am I going to go? I'm an anthropologist, so I wanted to work in a developing country, which I’d done. But I couldn't go to Kenya, I'm not a Kenyan, I can't go criticize the president. If I wanted to be politically active in a way, there was one other place I could go and that was Israel.

KH: So, ironically, the place you could be an activist without being an imperialist was Israel?

JH: Yeah, that's right. And back then, we thought the revolution was going to happen. We'd put flowers in the barrels of their guns. So I wasn't running away from the problems by going to Israel, I was never a Zionist. But I was going to a place that I thought where I could be maybe more meaningful. I knew there was an occupation, so instead of fighting racism here as part of the Civil Rights movement, I'd go to another front and I’d fight the occupation. In other words, I never gave up the commitment to change. It was just another place I could do it in, another place where I had a certain legitimacy.

KH: It's easier for me to be critical of the United States where I feel like the empire's fall is further away.  I probably won't live to see it, but you are living somewhere that could cease to exist while you’re living there.

JH: You could live to see it in the U.S. It happens suddenly. These things collapse more quickly than you think.

KH: I guess I should pack my suitcase. But what's going to happen in Israel?

JH: Well, that's the problem. Look, I'm not a Zionist, but there is an Israel. It doesn't have to be a state. I make the analogy to when apartheid collapsed and ended. the Afrikaaners didn't disappear...they didn’t leave...they weren’t even asked to leave. They became a part of another kind of South Africa. So we could become part of one state.

There will still be Israeli people, Israeli culture. There could be an Israeli university. There will still be an Israel in a cultural social sense. It will simply be part of a wider, more pluralistic society.

KH: Which in a way, is much more Jewish.

JH: Yes, ironically. And ironically, more Zionist. Zionism was Jews going back to the root of their civilization; it was coming home. You don't come home by building walls and kicking people out. You come home by becoming a part of the place, by living with a people, by becoming a part of a landscape.

KH: It's hard to talk about Israel without sounding like a raging anti-Semite. Israel does things that, when you describe them, make you sound like you’re talking about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And I want to say to Israel, can you please stop doing that so I don't have to sound like an anti-Semite (or a self-loathing Jew)?

JH: That's the scary thing. Israel does all of this in the name of the Jewish people. They're demolishing Palestinian homes in the name of Jews. And some American Jews say, wait a minute...you're a foreign country. I'm not Israeli. Israel does things in the name of Holocaust survivors. I mean, they co-opt people, including dead people who can't speak for themselves and I think that's really outrageous.

And it endangers Jews. Jews used to be associated with human rights. Rafael Lemkin coined the term genocide and he passed it through the UN. The Jews were so active in human rights, civil rights, in the States, in South Africa. You know when Mandela set up his first government he named five white ministers--all Jewish. So Jews used to be associated with human rights. And then Israel denigrates human rights. They say it doesn't apply. You got a Jewish state that's against human rights and that actively works to undermine the Geneva Convention, and international law!

The only answer to anti-Semitism is getting rid of all racism, and upholding human rights. The only hope for Jews is a world based on human rights.

# Ted Stevens Declares Himself Unfit to Stand Trial

Ted Stevens, the senator facing indictments on seven counts of criminal charges, is clearly unfit to stand trial, due to the clinical depression he admits to suffering from. Perhaps Stevens' earliest sign of psychopathology was in 1997 when he diagnosed himself as a mean miserable son of a bitch. Ted's 28 years of tirelessly protecting the American people from the polar bears who hate us for our freedoms, by defending our right to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, has taken a toll on the senator.

Stevens first exhibited signs of post-arctic depression, when the senate voted against his bill to open ANWAR up to more drilling. A candid Stevens said "I'm really depressed. As a matter of fact, I'm seriously -- I'm seriously depressed. Unfortunately, clinically depressed. I've been told that because I've just been at this too long."

# A Laughing Liberally Look at Netroots Nation

(Written in satire. A literal translation for the tonally impaired is available upon request.)

This weekend I went to Austin, Texas, to attend the third annual Netroots [Aryan] Nation, the convention formerly known as Yearly Kos and recently called a "Klan gathering" by Bill O'Reilly.

I agree with O'Reilly that "including the Nazis and the Klan... there is not a more hateful group in the country than the Daily Kos People." I too hate this hateful conference, which encourages democracy, open politics, participatory democracy, grass roots organizing and other Nazi-ish thing. But I attend each year, under the guise of a Laughing Liberally comic and Living Liberally leader, in order to counter the lies of the liberal media, who receive their talking points and marching orders directly from Subcomandante Markos [Moulitsas].

I go because somebody needs to document the atrocities that are ignored by the appeasement era press and distorted by the Netroots deniers. I go to show the world the truth. I go to say Never Again.

So, here are some of the things you won't hear from the liberal media about the four-day gathering of over 2,000 progressive bloggers, journalists, politicians and activists.

1. The netroots are so vicious that Obama was forced to flee to the relative safety of Afghanistan.

2. The netroots are reconsidering their position on FISA. Although they were disappointed with Obama's vote and his absence from the conference, they have now realized that thanks to the new FISA law, Obama could hear everything they said.

3. The surprise guest was no surpirse. Everyone knew the surprise guest would be Al Gore. Duh! He is the inventor of the series of tubes known as the internets.

4. Al Gore proved global warming is real, beyond the shadow of a doubt. I'll admit it, I was a skeptic about global warming. But that was before I saw Al Gore speak live. Because what An Inconvenient Truth doesn't capture, is Gore's presence, energy, and sweat. After watching Gore sweat in an air-conditioned convention hall, it is impossible not to believe in global warming.
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