Michigan

A Murmur Before the Buzz

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks to the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church during their annual convention at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 8 July 2016. (Photo: Charles Mostoller/Reuters)

Of course this feels inevitable:

Hillary Clinton is being urged by a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers to call for a recount in three swing states won by Donald Trump, New York has learned. The group, which includes voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, believes they’ve found persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked. The group is so far not speaking on the record about their findings and is focused on lobbying the Clinton team in private.

(Sherman)

Two important caveats from New York magazine:

• It would take overturning the results in both Wisconsin (10 Electoral College votes) and Pennsylvania (20 votes), in addition to winning Michigan’s 16, for Clinton to win the Electoral College.

• The academics so far have only a circumstantial case that would require not just a recount but a forensic audit of voting machines.

There is a reason this feels inevitable. Still, though, neither are these signals that should be raising or dashing hopes, nor sounding alarms from sea to shining sea that the Russians have finally won.

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Image note: Photo by Charles Mostoller/Reuters

Sherman, Gabriel. “Experts Urge Clinton Campaign to Challenge Election Results in 3 Swing States”. New York. 22 November 2016.

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An Echo of Freedom (Just About Right)

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet'.

Speaking of just another day in America:

A 3-year-old boy is dead after being shot in Ypsilanti Township on Sunday, Nov. 13.

The incident is under investigation, but police believe the incident may have been an accident, said Derrick Jackson of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office.

Police believe another child was playing with a gun when it went off, fatally striking the 3-year-old boy, he said.

(Moran)

The problem with saying that sounds just about right is that it should be possible―merely possible―to say such a thing.

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Image note: Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, “Brittle Bullet”.

Moran, Darcie. “3-year-old shot, killed by child playing with gun, police say”. MLive. 13 November 2016.

Just Another Day in America (Rise Again)

#trumpswindle | #MakeTheConfederacyGreatAgain

D City Rock: Detail of frame from "Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt", 'Help! We Are Angels', by TeddyLoin featuring Debra Zeer.

Who: Tanda Gmiter (MLive)
What: “Police officer under investigation after flying Confederate flag at Trump protest rally”
When: 12 November 2016

Via MLive

The Traverse City police chief says the department will launch an internal investigation after a longtime officer was seen revving the engine of his pickup truck and flying a Confederate flag, as he drove past a black family participating in a rally at a city park.

Marshall Collins Jr. and his relatives were at Friday’s gathering where people were protesting Donald Trump’s election when he said the truck’s driver came by once, then sped back past where his family was standing.

“As he came back by, I kind of stood out and I held up my fist very quietly. For me, that’s a sign of solidarity and black pride. So that’s what I did,” said Collins, a father of two and an instructional services health coordinator for the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District.

He said the officer made a show of grabbing a beer and joining a small pro-Trump group in a parking area. That’s when Collins said he decided to address the issue.

―and with a tip o’the hat, or pint salute, or simply a quiet, thankful nod unto the one and only Michael Moore, who reminds that not every Like is likeable, nor every note appreciated itself appreciable. Welcome to America. This is actually how it’s always been; it’s just going to be a little more apparent for a while.

Ah! the luxury of being glib.

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Image note: Help! ― Anarchy Panty. Click for Anarchy.

Gmiter, Tanda. “Police officer under investigation after flying Confederate flag at Trump protest rally”. MLive. 12 November 2016.

Moore, Michael. “Where I live in Michigan”. Twitter. 13 November 2016.

Hatred (Beehive Betrayal)

Foster parents April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce of Carbon County say the baby they've fostered, loved, and raised for the last three months will be removed from their home and sent to heterosexual foster parents because a judge said the baby would be better-off. Hoagland and Peirce, who are legally married, were interviewed in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, November 11, 2015. (Source photo: Steve Griffin/Salt Lake Tribune)

This is a fair question: Why do angry grown-ups take it out on children?

No, really, after all these years of hearing homophobes wailing, “What about the children! Won’t someone please think of the children!” just what are we to think about the astounding temper tantrums in which allegedly responsible, sober adults―judges, legislators, governors, whole churches―aim to harm children in order to make some sort of stupid point? To the one, by the time we get back to Utah, we’re not surprised. To the other―

A married Carbon County couple says they plan to fight a judge’s order that would force them to give up their infant foster daughter simply because they are lesbians.

(Dobner)

―oh, come on!Say what?

You are not ....

What? What can I possibly say?

(more…)

The One About the Guy Waving the Confederate Flag and Wanting to Arrest a U.S. Senator for Treason

Jon Ritzheimer at a 2015 pro-Confederate flag demonstration.  (Photo: Miriam Wasser/Phoenix New Times)

It’s just one of those little things you file away for future reference. Hanna Hess of Roll Call mulls militia mutterings in Michigan:

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) speaks after a vote on legislation for funding the Department of Homeland Security on Capitol Hill in Washington March 2, 2015.  (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)If Jon Ritzheimer travels to Michigan trying to arrest Sen. Debbie Stabenow for treason because of her support for the Iran nuclear deal, he may find a line of volunteer militia men guarding the Michigan Democrat.

“This is wrong. It sounds like mob rule to me,” said Lou Vondette, of the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia, one of the oldest active militias in the state. “We have no idea what this guy has on his mind,” Vondette said in a phone interview. The threats sound “just as terrifying to [us], as to anyone reading the story.”

Additionally, Mr. Vondette told Roll Call he had been in communication with several other Michigan militia groups and, “We know of no militia in Michigan that is participating in these actions”. He also rebuked out-of-state influences that would claim association.

Jon Ritzheimer, meanwhile, is an Arizona activist with something approaching terrible luck; his imitation “Draw Muhammad” protest was a bust compared to the counterprotest; calling himself an “Oathkeeper”, Mr. Ritzheimer’s latest scheme for attention is to threaten to arrest Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), claiming her support for the P5+1 nuclear accord with Iran constitutes some manner of treason. Judging by Ms. Hess’ earlier report on the desperate menace―

Jon Ritzheimer, the Arizona resident who reportedly attracted FBI attention when he organized an anti-Muslim protest rally and “draw Muhammad” cartoon contest at a Phoenix mosque, shared his plan to organize with fellow U.S. Marines in an open letter posted online Monday.

“We are planning on arresting Senator Debbie Stabenow, who voted yes to the Iran Nuke Deal. She will be arrested for treason under Article 3 Section 3 of the Constitution,” states the letter. “We have chosen her as our first target due to our strong ties with the Michigan State Militia and their lax gun laws that will allow us to operate in a manner necessary for an operation like this.”

Ritzheimer, 31, claims that after successfully detaining the Michigan Democrat, he and his armed militia “will continue to move across the country and arrest everyone involved with the Iran Nuke Deal” including the president.

―we need not wonder why the militias in the Great Lakes State want nothing to do with him.

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Image notes: Top ― Jon Ritzheimer at a 2015 pro-Confederate flag demonstration. (Photo: Miriam Wasser/Phoenix New Times) Left ― Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) speaks after a vote on legislation for funding the Department of Homeland Security on Capitol Hill in Washington March 2, 2015. (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

Hess, Hannah. “Militia Organizer Threatens to Arrest Stabenow Over Iran Deal”. Roll Call. 22 September 2015.

—————. “Michigan Militia Group Disavows Threat to Stabenow”. Roll Call. 23 September 2015.

An Exercise in Contrasts

Garterbelt's head explodes. (Detail of frame from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, episode 3, 'Pulp Addiction')

Michelangelo Signorile, on a looming spectre in the tale of equality, liberty and justice for all, and other such Americana such as virtue and citizenship:

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has finally lifted its ban on gay adults―except for those groups that still want to discriminate. Sure, it’s cause for optimism that the BSA is not enforcing the ban on every chapter and group. But by allowing some to discriminate by choice―at this particular juncture in American politics―the BSA is setting a dangerous precedent. By allowing the religiously-affiliated troops to still ban gay adults, the BSA is making a religious exemption seem like a reasonable compromise when in fact it is allowing the very people who would discriminate to keep discriminating.

(Boldface accent added)

That last is a particular point of Signorile’s; he raised it last week in a piece about the 2016 Republican presidential candidates we had cause to note for our own reasons. His point isn’t merely valid, it is important. This is the ostensible point of these religious freedom arguments conservatives keep asserting.

We would also remind that this is about more than gay marriage; this is about more, even than the Gay Fray itself.

This is dangerous.

But there is another recurring theme, as well; as Signorile noted, “The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has finally lifted its ban on gay adults―except for those groups that still want to discriminate”.

We would remind a point from our recent misfortune to consider Gov. Scott Walker’s response to the idea that the Boy Scouts of America would reinvest discriminatory authority in local leaders … er … ah … right. That’s the point. While the BSA has lifted its official national gay ban, they have simply chosen to reinvest discriminatory authority in local Boy Scout leaders.

Mr. Walker responded to the mere proposition by considering the “larger political and cultural debate” juxtaposed with “camping and citizenship and merit badge and service awards”, and therein we find the true measure of what the Boy Scouts of America has done: We won’t force you to discriminate, but, hey, you know, if you want to demonstrate citizenship and merit and service by going out of your way to be cruel and harmful to others, that’s just fine with us.

Downstream reinvestment seems to be the new trend for conservative resistance against equality. It’s hardly anything new; in 2012 we saw Republicans try to reinvest authority to deny contraception in employers. Then again, that’s not so far downstream as it used to be, when a woman needed her husband’s permission to do any number of things.

In the end, it is a poisonous formula. The whole point is to present a compromise in which, okay, discrimination is wrong and shouldn’t be allowed unless you want to discriminate. Downstream reinvestment might fit well into anti-institutional appeal to local sentiment, but its entire purpose is to ensure authority to discriminate is invested somewhere, with someone. The whole point is to protect the discrimination itself.

And perhaps the larger political spectacle of disruptive empowerment demands greater attention, but it really is important to remember what the Boy Scouts of America has done. Protecting bigotry stands among their virtues of proper citizenship.

This is problematic, to say the least.

It is almost enough to obscure the fact of even greater stupidity.

No, really, we promised a contrast. Kyle Mantyla tries to explain:

Today, the Boy Scouts National Executive Board is expected to lift the organization’s ban on gay scout leaders and Colorado state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt is not happy about it, warning parents on his “Pray In Jesus Name” program today to remove their sons from the organization before they are molested.Say what?

“If your boy is in one of those organizations, you need to get the out of there,” Klingenschmitt said, “because what they’re going to do is promote homosexual men to mentoring and camping with your boys in the woods and it will lead to child abuse.”

Thanks, Gordon. We … really needed to know what was on your mind.

No, really, with everything else going on ....

Actually, it’s probably a better tack than trying to explain the whole discrimination thing. But there is also apparent irony in the idea of the traditional bigoted appeal about how the homosexuals are coming for the children.

Still, though, the contrast only begs the question: We take these people seriously … why?

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Image note: A preacher’s torment ― Garterbelt’s head explodes. Don’t ask. Detail of frame from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, episode 3, “Pulp Addiction”.

Mantyla, Kyle. “Klingenschmitt: Remove Your Sons From The Boy Scouts Before They Are Abused By Gay Child Molesters”. Right Wing Watch. 27 July 2015.

Signorile, Michelangelo. “Why the Boy Scouts New Policy on Gays Sets A Dangerous Precedent”. The Huffington Post. 28 July 2015.

—————. “The GOP Plan to Stoke Anti-Gay Bigotry in 2016”. The Huffington Post. 23 July 2015.

Tomorrow, Today

Detail of frame from Sekirei.

I should be embarrassed. Or, you know, maybe not.

Really, I thought the right wing would have taken the hint and moved on to the next front. That is to say, my prognostication somehow failed to account for just how stubborn is this conservative desperation:

There have been predictions for several years that gay-bashing by GOP presidential candidates would be dead by 2016, some of it wishful thinking by gay advocates. Back in 2012, Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign, for example, commenting on the lack of discussion of gay issues in the three debates between President Obama and Mitt Romney, said, “What we’re seeing is proof positive that gay issues aren’t the wedge they used to be.” The public, he said, has “moved on.”

Fast forward to 2015: Ted Cruz, Scott Walker and Rick Perry have expressed blatant anti-gay positions, from banning gay scout leaders to supporting yet another marriage amendment. Some pundits believe this to be politically dangerous, certainly in a general election, and they’re right when it comes to the more overt bigotry. As I noted last week, Scott Walker clearly crossed a line — and walked back — when he said the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay adults “protected children.”

But new polling underscores that covert messaging — the dog whistle — could do the trick for the GOP, just as it has worked for the party on race and gender for decades now. Jeb Bush has defended “religious liberty” — the new code words for anti-gay positions — even while saying gay couples deserved “respect” for their relationships. And just last week, Bush said he supported the idea of anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people, though he thought they should be handled “state-by-state” (contrary to a comprehensive federal bill introduced by Democrats in Congress today that would protect LGBT people nationally).

But in comments that directly followed, Bush said that he believes there should be an exception for people with religious objections to allowing gays and lesbians to marry, such as a florist who refused to sell flowers to a gay couple for their wedding. In other words, those who would discriminate in the first place should be exempt from laws banning discrimination. This will in fact be the more subtle — but no less vile and discriminatory — gay-bashing of the 2016 election.

The one and only Michelangelo Signorile recalls predictions “for several years that gay-bashing by GOP presidential candidates would be dead by 2016”, and appropriately notes at least some of it was wishful thinking. And perhaps we might simply be considering a different perspective on the question of gay-bashing, but it seems unclear just how any of that wishful thinking would have worked. We would not fault Mr. Signorile for his recollection; he isn’t wrong. But it has never been clear quite how that relief should work.

(more…)

Justice

People celebrate inside the Stonewall Inn, an iconic gay bar recently granted historic landmark status, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Today.

This is our honor.

• There is, of course, the decision itself: Obergefell v. Hodges (14-556)

• Or perhaps a headline: “Gay Marriage Supporters Win Supreme Court Victory”

• The author: “Kennedy: The Gay Marriage Justice”

• Another headline, this one somewhat overstated: “Texas Pastor Says He Will Set Himself On Fire In Protest Over Gay Marriage”

• Dissents or temper tantrums? “‘Ask the nearest hippie’: The conservative SCOTUS justices’ opinions on marriage equality are hilariously bitter”

• And why not ask a hippie? “We Asked the Nearest Hippie About Scalia: It Was David Crosby”

• Unfit for duty: “To avoid marrying gay couples, some Alabama counties have stopped marrying everyone”

• GOP presidential timber, part one: “Constitutional Remedies to a Lawless Supreme Court”

• Fifty-four years, cookie dough, and Stonewall celebrations: “From Ice Cream To Ian McKellen: Reactions To Same-Sex Marriage Ruling”

• GOP presidential timber, part two: “Jindal: ‘Let’s just get rid of the court'”

• GOP presidential timber, part three: “Scott Walker calls for Constitutional amendment to let states define marriage”

• What a real President of the United States sounds like: “Remarks by the President on the Supreme Court Decision on Marriage Equality”

I would at this time raise a glass to homophobic traditionalists from Sea to Shining Sea; without your dedicated, horrifying zeal, we might never have come this far. Indeed, your own cruelty and hatred shepherded this day.

Drink up, dreamers of hatred and supremacism; you’re running dry.

Then again, we also know you’re nowhere near finished, at least in your own minds. We’re here. We will hold the line. We know you’re targeting children, now, and we will hold the line.

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Image note: People celebrate inside the Stonewall Inn, an iconic gay bar recently granted historic landmark status, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Evil (Snyder Michi-Mix)

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R), ca. 2015, in Associated Press photo.

God save the children of the Great Lake Beast.

The Michigan Legislature is playing a dangerous game of chicken with the children in its care — and now Gov. Rick Snyder has exacerbated the danger by signing cynical legislation into law.

On Wednesday, Republican majorities in both chambers approved a bill that would allow faith-based adoption agencies — including those who take taxpayer dollars to place children who are in the state’s custody — to discriminate in the practice of their work. They can deny services to families that violate the agency’s religious beliefs, including unmarried couples, same-sex couples and those who hold different religious beliefs.

The legislation is a craven attempt to cloak discrimination in faith, and it leaves the best interests of the 13,000 children in the state’s care — entirely out of the equation.

Even worse, it sends Michigan in the exact wrong direction just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court could invalidate all legislative or constitutional provisions that permit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Should that happen, this statute, along with bigoted laws in states around the country, would fall like their predecessors — Jim Crow-era laws and regulations — after landmark rulings in the 1960s.

(Detroit Free Press)

Nothing hurts.

Actually, that’s wrong.

Something hurts.

Perhaps this is why people believe in souls. Because sometimes something hurts and it is hard to explain just what.

No, I cannot tell you where it hurts.

It just does.

(more…)

The Red Balloon

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R), ca. 2015, in Associated Press photo.

This is a question:

As recently as Tuesday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) sounded very much like he was moving towards the 2016 presidential race. Just one day later, however, Politico reported that the Republican governor had decided to bow out ....

.... So, that settles that? Oddly enough, no. Late last night, the MLive Media Group that covers Michigan news confirmed with the governor’s spokesperson that Snyder “has not made any decisions” about the presidential race, pushing back against the Politico report, which cited unnamed sources.

The governor’s press secretary specifically said that when it comes to Snyder’s possible national plans, nothing has changed. “On 2016, he’s watching the presidential race closely and hoping a common sense problem-solver emerges,” press secretary Sara Wurfel said. “He has not made any decisions about entering the field at this time.”

What’s left is a confusing picture.

(Benen)

Why doesn’t everyone just say, “trial balloon”, and get on with it?

(more…)