I Agree With the WBC

For those of you souls fortunate enough not to recognize the acronym WBC, it stands for Westboro Baptist Church. For those of you who are still fortunate enough not to know what that is, I assume most of you are familiar with the KKK, the Klu Klux Klan. If you are somehow privleged enough not to know what that is, buckle up, buttercup. This post is gonna be a doozy.

I pretty much assume the readers of this blog are American and thus somewhat familiar with American history. For those of you, however, who slept through history class or just aren’t familiar with this particular story, let me take you back in time . . .through the mists. . . to the year 1619.

In the year 1619, econonmics really sucked for a lot of people. So much so that people were willing to become indentured servants. Basically, they worked for room and board working off a debt, typically the price of their ticket to come to America. If I remember correctly, the typical period was about 7 years of labor. But I don’t remember where I got that from, so feel free to correct me.

People noticed that that this was a really expensive way of doing things. And, since there were other people in the world already involved in an active slave trade, 1619 brought the first African slaves to the United States. This began several hundred years of people mistreating blacks because of the color of their skin, a problem that unfortunately continues to today.

There was a bit of a skirmish we Americans like to refer to as “the Civil War” as if it was the only one in history. It was very bloody and very divisive to the point that, yes, you can still see traces of that divide to today also. After the battles were over,  in a tiny little town in Tennessee, a group called the Klu Klux Klan was formed. They were most known for being truly delightful Caucasian fellows by day, then wearing white hoods  so they wouldn’t be recongized while burning crosses and/or lynching their black neighbors at night.


You’ll notice that I did not mention a date when the Klu Klux Klan dissolved; they still exist. (The first ammendment gives them the right to exist, sans burning crosses and lynching). I wish I could tell you that truth was going to be the most distatestful thing I ever have to write for this blog, but it’s not even the most distasteful thing I have to write for this post.

According to their own website (which I refuse to link to – not only do I find their ideology reprehensible in every sense of the word, but their website URL actually contains a slur against homosexuals; if you want to find it, which I cannot caution you enough against, you can Google it), the Westboro Baptist Church was founded in 1955. And instead of following in the grand tradition of many other Christian groups in America who selflessly and quietly serve their communities by doing things like creating tutoring centers for under-privileged children or having food pantries where all are welcome (both things I’ve personally witnessed churches in my communities doing), the WBC decided to take a  . . . different approach.

Specifically, they like to picket funerals. Of soldiers, usually. Sometimes children. With signs like this:


That was one of the tamer images I found. How bad did it get, really? Let me put it this way. It got to the point where the Klu Klux Klan came out and said the WBC might want to tone it down a bit. No, really. Allow me to suggest to you, dear reader, that when the Klu Klux Klan comes out and tells you that you are being too hateful, you may want to dial it down a notch/re-evaluate your life choices/throw yourself off a bridge.

Anyway. Where was I? Oh, yes. The title of this post.

Apparently, the Apocalypse is just around the corner or something, because the WBC is protesting Trump. No, REALLY.


And as much as I hate to say it, as much as I thought this day would never come, as much as I would rather cut out my tongue than say this, and I really, really, really hate hate hate saying this, but.

The WBC and I agree: Donald Trump has not proven he belongs in the White House.

The plagues of blood and boils may now commence.



Gag Me

I had a lovely post all planned out for today, then Trump went and did a thing that I have to talk about first. So, we will get to the loveliness that is Steve Bannon, but we will have to talk first about the gag order Trump has imposed.

Employees from the Enviromental Protection Agency (the EPA) and the Department of Agriculture are now blocked from communicating with the public or the press.

Allow me to repeat that sentence for you. Employees from the Enviromental Protection Agency (the EPA) and the Department of Agriculture are now blocked from communicating with the public or the press.

And one more time, just to make sure it sunk in. Employees from the Enviromental Protection Agency (the EPA) and the Department of Agriculture are now blocked from communicating with the public or the press.

Because the president disagrees with the findings of science regarding climate change.

Because the president disagrees with the findings of science regarding climate change.

Because the president disagrees with the findings of science regarding climate change.

Which, look, even if you think everything about climate change is totally bogus, how is this going to help? This stops two fairly important government agencies from doing important parts of their JOB. They can’t educate the public about ANYTHING. Like, oh, I don’t know, if say we had a crop blight in one part of the country that coud spread to another.

I’d like to give you a silly cartoon (this is silly civil liberties, after all), but I think it more important I give you this:

United States Constitution

Ammendment the First

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

You don’t get to gag people just because you disagree with them. There is, I feel it important to note, Constitutional provision for military secrets, stuff against throwing the country into anarchy, and sedition, etc. What about “wrong science” (if, indeed, it is that) qualifies?

The senior management officials of these agencies looked at each other and did two things: 1. Set up rogue Twitter accounts that they posted to anyway and 2. Resigned en masse. (Though now rumor has it that this was the normal overturn of administration and that they were fired. Make of that what you will).

If you’re in the United States or a citizen abroad, call, mail, e-mail, or send smoke signals and carrier pigeons to your representatives. You can find them here: Representatives. If you’re not a citizen, you can still send your opinion to the White House here: White House.

I warn you now, however. The time when sending an e-mail or letter may be sufficient is, I suspect, rapidly coming to a close. More action may soon be required. But for liberty, it is worth it to risk all, for without liberty, none of the other rights are worth the letters used to print them on paper.


Global Gag Order: A Ban on Abortions

You heard it folks: there is a ban on abortions.

Okay, okay, it only applies where federal money is going to international groups that perform or provide information on abortions. I.e. it only applies outside of USA borders. (This is still a major problem!).

Now this is not something new, for many a decade Republicans and Democrats have been going back and forth on this issue. Some might remember it as the Mexico City policy or the global gag order.* It started with Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1984 with stopping the funding for international groups which perform or provide information on abortion. The tug-o-war on this continued from Clinton, to Bush, to Obama. But just because it’s happened before does not mean that it is alright to take these rights away from women.

There are several things about this that get my blood boiling (and fill me with terror and sadness);

  1. This takes away a woman’s right to choose.
  2. This takes away a woman’s control over her own fertility.
  3. This takes away a woman’s right to complete and full advice on family planning.
  4. This in ways censors organisations from giving women all the information, and providing essential care.
  5. This will result in a rise in unsafe abortions, which could result in death.¹
  6. Trivially, why was there no woman in the photograph: Are men eminently qualified to make such decisions about women’s health care?¹

In the face of all of this, what brings tears to my eyes (because of the good in the world) is that the Dutch have stepped in (#ThankYouToTheDutch). They are stepping in to support an international abortion fund which will help to mitigate the some harmful effects of Trump’s atrocious, ogre-defining, uncivil global gag order. The fund, announced by Dutch Development Minister Lilianne Ploumen, will help those groups that wish to continue providing birth control and abortions to women who need it. I do hope other organisations and governments also step up, join the cause, and help provide this essential health care for women.

Population Action International (PAI) describes the ban well: “The only goal the policy will achieve is to punish women in already challenging circumstances by blocking access to essential care.”

And Ploumen’s words are one to remember: Speaking of the Netherland’s taking an independent stance, even if it sets the Dutch government against the Trump administration, she said: “I’m pro-choice and pro-women’s rights. It’s important to stand your ground…We respect the decisions of a democratically elected president, but we’re democratically elected too and we can make different decisions…This is also about millions of women and girls who often have no voice or live in countries where democracy is less deeply rooted, and when they speak up they need our support.”


¹ Activists say that Trump’s global gag order will lead to deaths: Read more here, and here, and here where there is also some talk of the new patriarchy.

² Many thanks to the Dutch Government for stepping in with their international abortion fund.

*P.s. we’re noticing a trend: gag-orders galore. For more gag-order related news watch out for Friday’s post by Bookpheonix.


Check, please!

You have to feel really low if Trump is chastising you.¹, ²,³

As the year began, behind closed doors the Republican Party voted to weaken the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. Now the story has, mostly, blown over with the Republicans walking off stage, tails between their legs.

If you did not know, the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) was established in the wake of a lobbying scandal in 2008. It was set up to investigate corruption allegations against members of Congress.

The secret vote had it come to fruition would have led to the OCE falling under control of a House committee – specifically there would have been a name change (the Office of Congressional Complaint Review was top pick), and it would have become a subordinate body to the House Ethics Committee, which in this political climate is ruled by the Republican majority. The proposed new body would not have allowed anonymous tips from members of Congress, and nor would it have made its findings from investigations public.

Had this made it through, with the Republicans controlling all three branches of government, another layer of constraint on their powers would have been removed as such a vote would have seriously restricted the power, and ultimately purpose, of the OCE. What this means is that another check would have been dismantled.

Checks and balances allow for the separation of power in government, thus ensuring that no one branch may have too much control. In most cases this divides the Government into three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial.

Checks and balances are essential to the security of liberty. John Adams phrases this more eloquently as he speaks of the balancing of these branches of government: “It is by balancing each of these powers against the other two, that the efforts in human nature toward tyranny can alone be checked and restrained, and any degree of freedom preserved in the constitution”.

Our governments need systems, entities, and bodies to question, investigate, and check the branches of power. Because in a world where bodies such as the OCE lose their power, we might be looking at a world where corruption and tyranny can run free.


¹By no means do we suggest that the Trumpster should be anyone’s moral compass, after all his concerns were based on what he perceived to be of greater value and not one on ethics: tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance…than the OCE which the Donald thought to be unfair

² I did try to find a link to the original tweet, but seven tweets into the Trumpster’s feed and I was starting to feel a tad queasy

³ Instead, here is Trevor Noah’s take, and here are some quick facts about the OCE



Back, Yay

So unless you’ve been living under a rock on Mars somewhere, I’m sure you’ve all heard that the United States managed to elect the 45th President and that, somehow, it was Donald Trump. (Hey, I can almost say it without throwing up in my mouth a little bit! Wait, no. Nevermind). If you have to ask why I don’t like him, well, he’s racist or, if he isn’t, he appoints people who are, doesn’t like women, or really, people who aren’t him (wealthy, white, males). His vice president, Mike Pence, has a record of wanting to shock people out of being gay.

It was not that Clinton was any better as a candidate, mind you. (I’ll go on record as stating I voted for a third party write in just because I couldn’t stand the thought of anyone else). But Trump? Huh?

Yeah. If you’re a person of faith, send prayers for the USA, eh?

So clearly, the blog which has wasted due to lack of energy, has now become seriously important (while still silly, mind you). Take, for example, this picture from The Week: 20150805edcmc-a_0

See? Silly, Civil, Liberties.

We’re coming BACK baby. Every Friday at 8:00 CA time and other times maybe sometimes!


2016: The year of whimsical hair pieces and a Key

Good morning. Or afternoon, evening, or noon where ever you all are.

My, my, did we ever have an entertaining year. Though I suspect many will have more colourful phrases to describe the year that was 2016. Below I briefly touch on only two of our shock moments in 2016: one which involves a whimsical hair piece on an orange head, and the man after Obama’s heart.

Mr Donald Trump, if you had not already heard¹, is all geared up as the 45th POTUS. This was ground-shaking news across the globe. Even days following the Trump victory people walked around the streets in a dazed disbelief. One of the great² things that the 2016 USA Presidential elections highlighted was how non-democratic the land of the free was. As you’ve already read elsewhere, Clinton had the popular vote but Trump snagged the electoral college (come back on January 13th to see more on this!).

In other news, with the wake of Mr Trump’s election victory, came Prime Minister (of New Zealand) John Key’s resignation. By no means am I suggesting that Mr Trump’s victory is the reason for Key’s resignation, but here Dr Bryce Edwards suggests that it, and Brexit, bring some additional stressors, so maybe it played a small part.

In my lifetime this has never happened before: a Prime Minister stepping down early. Strategically this works well for the National Party to trial out someone else in the top job and for the nation to gain some familiarity with a new leader before the general elections in 2017.

Key more or so says that he would not be able to give the job his all to complete his term and carry on into another term, and so he has chosen to leave. This is considerate, strategic but considerate. Though I wonder if we should we let a man who has put his hand up to serve the nation just step down because it’s gotten a bit hard? After all it is a hard job to be a leader to a nation. Aren’t our leaders expected to be made of harder stuff? To stand up and continue, to hold us up, and keep the nation going? But then again is it not right for a leader to step down should he or she feel that they are no longer able to give the nation their 100%? After all what use is a leader who cannot fully support the nation?

So what happens now for New Zealand? Do we have to put up with some replacement who we did not vote for? Ultimately, yes. Under our constitutional conventions the resignation of a Prime Minister between elections does not change the composition of the Government. Currently the New Zealand Government, whilst a representative government, is led by the National Party (the majority) and it is the leader of the National Party who serves as the Prime Minister. With Key’s resignation, the Party has  already selected a new leader for their Party who is now the 39th Prime Minister of New Zealand, as appointed by the Governor-General.

The New Zealand and American governments are built differently. Our politics are different, as are our needs as nation states. With the change in the air I look forward to seeing how New Zealand balances it’s relationship with Trump’s USA, in the face of a new Prime Minister and New Zealand’s growing economic relationship with China. Conversely what will Trump’s America look like as an ally to nations who are not Russia.³

¹ P.s. Please give us the address to that rock, we would much enjoy curling up under it too

² The definition of great used here is not to suggest that it was a good thing, but maybe more along the lines of a ridiculously crazy flaw in the system


Lithuanian mural depicts Trump and Putin in liplock

Lithuanian mural depicts Trump and Putin in liplock;  Source: CBS News