bookmark_borderMorgan Freeman is a bully and a bigot

I recently stumbled across a disturbing tweet by Morgan Freeman, in which he demands that the hotel that hosted CPAC denounce the event because its stage was shaped like a rune. If that sounds absolutely ridiculous, that’s because it is. 

The one good thing about this situation is that the Morgan Freeman in question is not the famous actor, but just a despicable excuse for a human being who happens to share the actor’s name. 

Freeman’s tweet is below:

In case it is not immediately apparent how ridiculous this is, allow me to explain. First of all, there is no proof whatsoever that the stage was designed to look like the odal rune. The CPAC stage looks like a pretty typical stage shape to me, and it is entirely plausible that the resemblance to the rune was coincidental. Second, even if the stage was intended to look like the rune, why is that bad? Runes are Viking letters. The fact that the Nazis happened to use this rune does not make the rune a Nazi symbol; it is a Viking symbol that happened to be used by Nazis. There is no rule that if a symbol has ever been used by Nazis, then no one is allowed to use it ever again. 

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bookmark_borderDiscrimination shouldn’t be part of Covid relief package

One idea that has been proposed as part of the latest Covid economic relief package is issuing payments of $3,000 and up to people who have children. Specifically, a bill proposed by Rep. Richard Neal would pay families $3,600 for each child under age 6 and $3,000 for each child between 6 and 17. Sen. Mitt Romney introduced a similar proposal that would give even more money to people with children. Even worse, some Democrats in Congress and White House officials want to make the policy permanent, meaning that people will continue to get free money from the government every year for no other reason than the fact that they have children. 

This is a terrible idea, which anyone who believes in equality and justice should oppose. Giving a benefit to people with children, but not to people without children, is discriminatory. Any Covid relief or stimulus package should give the same amount of money to everyone, regardless of family status. Unfortunately, discrimination against people without children is pervasive in our society and is rarely even recognized as discrimination. This unjust state of affairs is demonstrated by the fact that political leaders from both parties have introduced these discriminatory economic plans and that no one in the media (as far as I have seen or heard) has raised the idea that these policies might be discriminatory.

“Biden’s proposed child benefit has quickly emerged as a potentially defining feature of his administration’s economic agenda – one that could make a lasting imprint on American welfare policy,” gushes the Washington Post. The Post’s article details the various options with regards to how the payments would be administered, whether they would be sent every month or every year, what the income limits would be, and whether they would be based on the current or previous year’s tax returns, but does not even mention the possibility that the entire idea of giving money only to people with children might be unjust. The article also mentions the fact that some conservatives oppose these benefits because they provide money to both working and non-working people, but ignores the most significant reason for objecting to the benefits: the fact that they exclude people who do not have children.

“This pandemic is driving families deeper and deeper into poverty, and it’s devastating,” said Rep. Neal. “This money is going to be the difference in a roof over someone’s head or food on their table. This is how the tax code is supposed to work for those who need it most.” 

Sen. Cory Booker called the policy “the biggest impact we can make for economic justice in our country.” 

These comments completely miss the point. People without children need a roof over their head and food on their table as well, and it’s just as devastating for someone without children to be driven into poverty (if not more so, because the stress of living in poverty is compounded by the stress of living in a society that systematically discriminates against you). Discriminating against people based on their family status is exactly how the tax code is not supposed to work. And contrary to Booker’s claim, discriminatory policies like these constitute economic injustice.

From taking away everyone’s Second Amendment rights, to essentially sentencing the entire population to house arrest because of the existence of a novel virus, to obliterating the works of art that give cities and states their identities, this is just another example of how those in power are attempting to make the United States as bad a place as possible. To use a Covid relief bill to further entrench discrimination into our society is exactly what our country does not need.

bookmark_borderOcasio-Cortez has it backwards: government is the real abuser

“The reason I’m getting emotional in this moment is because these folks who tell us to move on, that it’s not a big deal, that we should forget what’s happened, or even telling us to apologize, these are the same tactics of abusers… These are the tactics of abusers, this is not about a difference of political opinion, this is about basic humanity.”

These are the words of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about the protest that took place at the Capitol building on January 6. AOC is comparing the group of pro-Trump protesters who entered the Capitol building, and politicians who either minimize or defend the actions of the protesters, to abusers. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

The government, of which AOC is a part, is trampling on the rights of the people. This has been the case for decades and has gotten worse and worse. When a government tramples on people’s rights, the people have a right to overthrow it. That is exactly what the protesters on January 6 were doing. And they were completely justified in doing so. 

As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence (emphasis mine): 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

After a completely justified, yet futile, attempt to overthrow a tyrannical, authoritarian, and oppressive government, a member of that oppressive government had the indecency to compare the rebels to “abusers.” In reality, Ocasio-Cortez and her colleagues are the abusers. The American people are the victims, and the protesters at the Capitol were those victims who, after decades of being abused, had the courage to finally fight back. AOC is in the wrong, she is the one lacking basic humanity, and she is the one who needs to apologize. 

bookmark_borderClassless Cuomo ridicules those who disagree with him

In addition to being a bully who does not care about freedom of speech (or any other type of freedom for that matter), New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also apparently enjoys ridiculing those who hold different views than he does. He posted the following meme on Facebook making fun of those who disagree with him on the issue of the government requiring people to wear masks to stop the spread of Covid-19:

This is completely classless. First of all, there is no such thing as “anti-maskers.” I suspect that Cuomo meant “people who don’t wear masks” or “people who disagree with mask mandates.” More importantly, it is unacceptable for any person, let alone a governor, to personally insult and ridicule those with whom they disagree. It is disturbing that someone who is in charge of governing a state would act in such an unprofessional manner. I assume that Cuomo was attempting to show off his cleverness and wit, but all that he is demonstrating is nastiness and contempt towards people who are different from him. There is nothing funny about that. 

Here is my attempt at a meme:

bookmark_borderMarkey calls Trump “racist scum”

During last night’s chaos-filled debate, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) called Donald Trump “racist scum.”

This, in my opinion, is more offensive than anything that Trump said during the debate, or ever, for that matter. If Markey believes that one or more of Trump’s comments or policy positions is racist, there’s nothing wrong with tweeting, “that comment is racist” or “that policy position is racist” and (ideally) explaining why. But to call a person “scum” is completely unprofessional and completely inappropriate for someone who holds public office. This type of personal attack is something I would expect an anonymous, illiterate troll to write, not a United States senator. Shame on Senator Markey. Trump is often accused of being a bully, but the real bully here is Markey, as well as anyone who uses this type of insulting, ad hominem discourse against those with whom they disagree. 

bookmark_borderDemocratic senators demand flag discrimination

A group of 34 Democratic Congressmen and Congresswomen are demanding that Defense Secretary Mark Esper explicitly ban the Confederate flag while allowing other flags, such as the Pride flag and Native Nation flags. Earlier this month, in response to intolerant bullies’ demands, Esper issued a policy banning the Confederate flag from being displayed on property controlled by the Department of Defense, including ships, aircraft, office buildings, porches of military housing, and common areas of barracks. But instead of singling out that flag, the language of the policy simply lists which flags are allowed, a category that includes state flags, the POW/MIA flag, military flags, and the flags of allied countries, effectively banning all other flags. Left off the list were not only the Confederate flag but also the Pride flag, Native Nation flags, the Jolly Roger, and sports teams’ flags.

“While we applaud the department for taking steps to remove the Confederate battle flag from our military bases, the action unnecessarily avoids a clear rebuke of this oppressive symbol while simultaneously limiting how service members can freely express themselves in line with our values,” the Representatives wrote. “We ask that you immediately revise the new policy on flag display, explicitly ban the Confederate battle flag, and ensure that service members can express support for diversity and inclusion through the display of sovereign Native Nations and LGBTQ Pride flags… The department must have the strength and courage to be able to simultaneously stand against a symbol of hate and oppression in the Confederate battle flag while allowing the display of support for civil rights, equity and justice. We do not honor or display the Parteiflagge of Nazi Germany on our military bases, and any decision on the Confederate battle flag must likewise be unequivocal: it must be banned outright.”

Contrary to what is claimed in the letter, the Confederate flag is not a symbol of hate or oppression. It is simply a symbol of the Confederate States of America. Some people fly it as an expression of Southern heritage and some people fly it as a symbol of individuality, freedom, and resistance to government authority. There’s nothing hateful or oppressive about that.

Ironically, banning the Confederate flag is hateful and oppressive. The letter expresses support for diversity and inclusion, but banning one flag while allowing others is the exact opposite of diversity and inclusion. It is particularly disturbing that the Representatives want soldiers to be able to “freely express themselves in line with our values.” The letter appears to be stating that soldiers should only be able to express themselves if their values are the same as those of the letter’s authors. That is not freedom of expression. True freedom of expression means having the right to express one’s views regardless of whether those who hold political power approve of them. Truly supporting diversity and inclusion means not only embracing differences in sexual orientation, gender identity, and race; it also means embracing differences in culture as well as in ideology. We cannot have an inclusive society when Native Americans are able to honor their heritage with flags while Southerners are not. We cannot have diversity without the Confederate flag.

These Democratic Representatives are demanding that only flags that are in line with their values should be allowed. This is the epitome of intolerance and bigotry, and to use the language of diversity and inclusion in the service of such a non-inclusive cause is a perversion of these words. To unequivocally condemn the flag of a small, agricultural nation that existed for four years in the 19th century and happens to be frowned upon by today’s political establishment, as the letter demands of Secretary Esper, is the exact opposite of “strength and courage.” It is bullying.

I believe that soldiers should be able to display any flag that they want, including the U.S. flag, the Confederate flag, the Gadsden flag, the flag of any nation, state, or city, the Pride flag, the pirate flag, or the flag of any sports team. But if the Confederate flag is going to be banned, it is only fair to ban flags favored by those on the left-hand side of the political spectrum as well. Let’s hope that Esper displays true strength and courage by standing up to the Democrats’ intolerant demands.

bookmark_borderFacebook employees stage walkout over lack of discrimination

Dozens of employees at Facebook refused to work on Monday in protest of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision not to censor posts by President Trump. Employees have circulated petitions, threatened to quit, and publicly criticized the company, all because of the company’s decision to…allow freedom of expression and not discriminate against people based on their political views.

The offending post by President Trump is as follows:

“The hateful rhetoric advocating violence against black demonstrators by the US President does not warrant defense under the guise of freedom of expression,” wrote one employee on an internal message board. “Along with Black employees in the company, and all persons with a moral conscience, I am calling for Mark to immediately take down the President’s post advocating violence, murder and imminent threat against Black people.”

Twitter added a warning label to the equivalent Trump tweet and a fact-check label to a different Trump tweet, but Facebook opted to leave the post alone, stating that it does not violate Facebook’s rules prohibiting incitement of violence.

In my opinion, Zuckerberg was completely correct not to censor the post, because it does not incite or advocate violence. It simply states that if protests become violent, and people loot businesses, law enforcement will respond with lethal force. In other words, Trump is not advocating for initiating violence against anyone; he is advocating responding in kind to those who initiate violence. What is wrong with that? Does advocating enforcement of very reasonable laws protecting private property now constitute a threat of violence? Is the president required to allow people to engage in rioting and looting without doing anything about it? As for the employee who posted on the message board, how can Trump’s post be interpreted as “advocating violence, murder and imminent threat against Black people” if it does not even mention race?

Venture capitalist Roger McNamee criticized Facebook, saying: “In the U.S., Facebook has consistently ignored or altered its terms of service to the benefit of Trump. Until last week, Twitter did the same thing.”

According to the New York Times article, Zuckerberg is planning to hold a call with civil rights leaders who have criticized “Facebook’s protection of Mr. Trump’s posts.”

But there has been no protection of Trump’s posts. Facebook has not ignored or altered its terms of service to the benefit of Trump. It has simply enforced its terms of service consistently, treating Trump the same as it treats everyone else. Twitter, on the other hand, went out of its way to censor Trump, and the employees staging the walkout are demanding that Facebook do the same. They are demanding that their company take down posts that do not violate its rules, merely because they dislike the individual who made the posts and disagree with his political views. In other words, they are demanding that Facebook discriminate against Trump and treat his posts more harshly than the posts of someone on the opposite side of the political spectrum would be treated.

Now that is something that any person with a moral conscience should be against.

bookmark_borderMassGOP gets it right on re-opening plan

In my home state of Massachusetts, the state Republican Party has been speaking out against excessive government restrictions to fight the coronavirus. Governor Charlie Baker has begun gradually allowing businesses to open (as if the government had a right to order businesses to close to begin with), and dismayingly but unsurprisingly, numerous politicians have been criticizing even this as too risky.

The Massachusetts Republican Party has come out on the side of individual liberty on this issue. On May 26, they and numerous supporters sent a letter to Gov. Baker urging him to stay the course on re-opening the state. The letter reads in part:

By now, it should be clear: the shutdown of private businesses, large and small, has given the Democratic Party — the party of government overreach — a political boost. This disastrous pandemic has led to unconstitutional decrees being set in stone almost overnight, creating what is unquestionably a dream scenario for the Democrats — stifle independence, entrepreneurship, and personal responsibility, and you create a world dependent upon the state.

We write to you today to urge you to push back, publicly, on the Democrats’ demands to keep Massachusetts shuttered.

We write to you today to remind you that the most regulated businesses in the Commonwealth, our nursing homes, also happen to account for more than 61 percent of all COVID-19-related deaths.

We write to you today to convey the frustrations of small business owners, who have had to padlock their doors while their big-box competitors across the street are allowed to remain open. We write to you today to remind you that the Massachusetts business community lives and breathes on the ambitions, creativity, and dreams of its residents, but will die a painful death if it succumbs to the whims of an unelected bureaucracy. These business owners realize the importance of maintaining a hygienic environment — if the public does not trust them and their products, no amount of government intervention will keep them afloat….

Democrats like to talk about fatalities associated with this virus, but still unknown yet just as tragic are the deaths that will occur due to alcoholism, drug use, and suicide, all of which will be on the increase as long as residents are forced to lock themselves away.
 
Ten weeks of lockdowns have been enough. We’ve flattened the curve, prevented our hospitals from being overwhelmed, and sacrificed our liberties. We’ve watched as a hyper-partisan media has misfired on their forecasts of doom.

The full letter can be read here.

Additionally, the MassGOP issued a statement against a letter by 91 economists calling for – it makes me sick to even write this – new taxes to cover any budget shortfall resulting from the pandemic and associated shutdown. “Incredibly, these economists are calling for an income tax increase at the absolute worst possible time, when mandated business shutdowns have people struggling to make any income at all,” said MassGOP chairman Jim Lyons. I couldn’t have said it any better.

The MassGOP also has a petition to re-open the state, which can be signed here.

bookmark_borderIn defense of Patriots kicker Justin Rohrwasser’s tattoos and political views

With almost no sports happening at the moment, the NFL draft last month was a huge story. In New England, a large amount of attention has focused on kicker Justin Rohrwasser from Marshall University, who was drafted by the Pats in the fifth round.

According to a profile in the Boston Globe, Rohrwasser has numerous tattoos, including an American flag, one that reads “don’t tread on me,” another that reads “liberty or death,” and another that resembles the logo of a group called the Three Percenters. This group advocates for small government, freedom of speech, and gun rights. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Three Percenters are an “anti-government group,” meaning that they “advocate or adhere to extreme anti-government doctrines.” The Three Percenters, however, have characterized themselves as “very pro-government, so long as the government abides by the Constitution.”

Additionally, on Twitter, Rohrwasser has expressed support for President Trump, Ayn Rand, and psychologist Jordan Peterson. According to one of his college coaches, Jim Fleming, Rohrwasser wore a red “MAGA” hat at school and expressed conservative beliefs, particularly about economic policies, in conversations.

What is wrong with this, you may ask? In my opinion… absolutely nothing!

Yet because of his political beliefs, Rohrwasser has been inundated with criticism online, accused of being a racist and a bigot. This is an example of self-proclaimed “liberals” displaying qualities that are the very opposite of the tolerance they pretend to espouse. Rohrwasser has done nothing wrong by having, and expressing, conservative (or libertarian, or however one wishes to characterize them) beliefs. He has every right to get a Three Percenters tattoo. He has every right to “like” and retweet whatever tweets he wants to. There is no rule that every person must have moderate, mainstream, middle-of-the-road, politically correct views. To condemn someone for having non-traditional views is the true bigotry here. This is bullying, plain and simple.

As Rohrwasser’s high school coach, John Barber, put it: “For him to be called a racist thug and a Nazi and Hitler, it just turns my stomach, because that’s not who he is. They don’t understand the full story of who he is, just want to take something out of context and destroy a kid, which wasn’t called for.”

Continue reading “In defense of Patriots kicker Justin Rohrwasser’s tattoos and political views”

bookmark_borderProtests spread as Trump voices support

Protests against coronavirus-related restrictions on individual liberty are continuing to spread.

On Thursday, hundreds of demonstrators flooded the capitol building in Lansing, Michigan. Some displayed a large sign reading “freedom” on the capitol steps, while others gathered in the public gallery of the building. The protest was organized by the organization Michigan United for Liberty.

“The solution is worse than the problem,” protester Ryan Kelley said of the state’s stay-at-home orders banning most businesses from operating and people from leaving their homes for all but essential reasons.

One of the protesters, Karen Kirkpatrick Hoop, called the demonstration “an incredibly beautiful and freedom-invoking vision… This is an international movement of people that are fed up with an increase in government control.”

Authoritarian politicians, unsurprisingly, were not so positive. “Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us,” complained State Senator Dayna Polehanki. “Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today.”

“Yesterday’s scene at the capitol was disturbing, to be quite honest,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Swastikas and Confederate flags, nooses and automatic rifles do not represent who we are as Michiganders. This state has a history of people coming together in times of crisis.”

My response to these criticisms of the protest is: if you don’t want people to protest against you, maybe you shouldn’t take away their fundamental rights. Whitmer might have a point about swastikas – although I did not see any of those in any photos or videos of the protest – but there is nothing wrong with Confederate flags or guns. As for the nooses, Whitmer seems to be referring to signs that said, “Tyrants get the rope.” To which I would respond, if you don’t want to see such signs, perhaps you should stop being a tyrant. Also, there is nothing honorable about “coming together in times of crisis” if coming together means complying with authoritarian policies. The protesters should be praised for their courage, not criticized.

President Trump voiced his support for the protests, tweeting, “The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.”

More protests took place today in Chicago, Raleigh, Los Angeles, and Sacramento.

“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful tyranny,” read one protester’s sign outside the California State Capitol in Sacramento.

And even more protests all over the country are scheduled for this weekend.