Conservatives and political correctness

Here’s how the NY Times frames the complaint against Starbuck’s holiday cups (bold added):

Controversy over the design of seasonal Starbucks cups is just one front in an annual culture war over the role of religion and liberalism in the five-week period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, a period that people inclined toward interfaith outreach might call “the holiday season.”

Like many divisive cultural debates, arguments over the Christian bona fides of seasonal Starbucks cups appear to have intensified during the 2016 presidential campaign as political and social tensions heightened in many areas of American life.

In 2015, Starbucks announced it would remove traditional holiday symbols, like reindeer and Christmas trees, from its holiday cups in favor of a more minimalist red design.

In a statement released at the time, the company said it wanted to “create a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity” and meant the cups as an invitation for “customers to tell their Christmas stories in their own way, with a red cup that mimics a blank canvas.”

That decision was met with an angry online backlash from conservatives and others who saw it as an example of political correctness run amok. Joshua Feuerstein, a conservative Christian activist with a robust social media presence, urged a boycott in a Facebook video that has been viewed over 17 million times.

If you think about it, this is exactly backwards. The conservatives are saying there is only one way to celebrate Christmas and they cry out if anyone dares to do it differently. Starbucks isn’t being politically correct here, the conservatives are.

Hobby Lobby only wants others to follow its religious views

You remember Hobby Lobby, it’s the corporation that was so upset that the ACA forced them to sell insurance that paid for contraception that they took it to the Supreme Court. They claimed, and the Supreme Court agreed, that a corporation could have religious views and couldn’t be forced to do something that went against its religion. It seems they don’t exactly practice what they preach:

Prosecutors said in the complaint that Hobby Lobby, whose evangelical Christian owners have long maintained an interest in the biblical Middle East, began in 2009 to assemble a collection of cultural artifacts from the Fertile Crescent. The company went so far as to send its president and an antiquities consultant to the United Arab Emirates to inspect a large number of rare cuneiform tablets — traditional clay slabs with wedge-shaped writing that originated in Mesopotamia thousands of years ago.

Hobby Lobby’s purchase of the artifacts in December 2010 was fraught with “red flags,” according to the prosecutors. Not only did the company get conflicting information about the origin of the pieces, its representatives never met or spoke with the dealer who supposedly owned them, according to the complaint.

Instead, on the instructions of a second dealer, Hobby Lobby wired payments to seven separate personal bank accounts, the prosecutors said. The first dealer then shipped the items marked as clay or ceramic tiles to three Hobby Lobby sites in Oklahoma. All the packages had labels falsely identifying their country of origin as Turkey, prosecutors said.

So, they lied to the government so they could have the antiques smuggled out of Iraq where they may have been looted. Last I checked, Christians considered lying bad but I guess it’s ok for the owners not to follow their religious precepts.

There’s more here.

Trump: don’t worry about right-wing terrorism

So, President Obama had set up a program to counter violent ideologies. I wonder what Trump will do with that? Shocking:

The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.

Wonderful, if we ignore right-wing terrorists I’m sure they’ll go away.

And remember how Trump claimed only 109 people were affected by his immigration ban? It seems it might be a touch more than that:

Over 100,000 visas have been revoked as a result of President Trump’s ban on travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, an attorney for the government revealed in Alexandria federal court Friday.

The number came out during a hearing in a lawsuit filed by attorneys for two Yemeni brothers who arrived at Dulles International Airport last Saturday. They were coerced into giving up their immigrant visas, they argue, and quickly put on a return flight to Ethiopia.

That figure was immediately disputed by the State Department, which said the number of visas revoked was roughly 60,000. Virginia Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the State Department, said the revocation has no impact on the legal status of people already in the United States. If those people were to leave U.S. soil and try to return, the visas would no longer be valid.

And this was done in secret so it would be harder for judges to help the people trying to get into the US. The article also talks about the possible contempt of court:

Brinkema declined to hold government officials in contempt for the way they handled travelers from the seven banned countries over the weekend, saying she did not know enough Friday to make that determination. Virginia had cited news reports and affidavits from lawmakers that, contrary to an order Brinkema issued last weekend, Customs and Border Protection officers denied immigrants access to lawyers.

“There were so many lawyers there willing to help, and not a single one got access,” Raphael said.

Reuveni said that security at Dulles bars lawyers from anything but telephone access to people in screening.

That sounds pretty cut and dried to me.

Trump: let’s be nasty and make the US less safe

So, President Trump has decided to go the anti-life route:

President Trump signed an order Friday to suspend admission of all refugees for 120 days while a new system is put in place to tighten vetting for those from predominantly Muslim countries and give preference to religious minorities. Trump said that the goal is to screen out “radical Islamic terrorists” and that priority for admission would be given to Christians.

People are given refugee status if there is a danger to staying in their country, so it’s almost certain that people will die because of this order.

Also, Trump he wants to give priority to Christians, but Kevin Drum notices that the country that sent the most refugees to the US last year was the Democratic Republic of the Congo which is a majority Christian country. He can’t even discriminate against Muslims right.

The order went into affect immediately so even people who were in the air when it was signed have been blocked. Let’s look at some:

The lawyers said that one of the Iraqis detained at Kennedy Airport, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, had worked on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq for 10 years. The other, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, was coming to the United States to join his wife, who had worked for a U.S. contractor, and young son, the lawyers said. They said both men had been detained at the airport Friday night after arriving on separate flights.

So, Iraqis who had helped US troops and had been given permission to enter the US after a long screening process were blocked. Given they were targeted because they helped the US, I wonder how many Iraqis will be willing to help US troops in the future? If fewer Iraqis are willing to help, that will make the job more dangerous for US troops. Thanks Donald.

As an aside, a coincidence has been noticed:

The order would place a 30-day stop to visas for immigrant and visitor visas for travelers from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia, all Muslim-majority countries whose citizens the order says “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.” But it would not affect travelers from all Muslim countries — the ban does not apply to Egypt, Turkey, Azerbaijan, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, which by complete coincidence are all countries where the Trump Organization has business interests.
If this was anyone other than Trump, everyone would know it really was a coincidence but with Trump you never know.
Note: The ACLU has filed suit on the behalf of the refugees that were blocked. It might be a good time to support the ACLU.

Math and the American Heritage Education Foundation

Like everyone else, I get a lot of spam in my email boxes. Sometimes they can be fun. Case in point:

Dear Teachers and Citizens,
A unique Social Studies/U.S. History reference text book is now available!
The American Heritage Education Foundation (AHEF) announces a new resource/text that reveals the connection between America’s historical founding ideas and the Bible..
The Miracle of America: The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief
By Angela E. Kamrath, American Heritage Education Foundation
This would be the group that wrote a history book for Houston strongly based on a work by W. Cleon Skousen, a far right crazy in the mold of the John Birch Society (for example, he believed Eisenhower was a Communist dupe).
It seems their mailing list is about as accurate as their history: they send an email about a high school history book to a college math teacher. Hey, maybe I’ll use it for a probability course?

Supreme court says no to Texas abortion restrictions

The Supreme Court has struck down abortion restrictions in Texas:

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down Texas abortion restrictions that have been widely duplicated in other states, a resounding win for abortion rights advocates in the court’s most important consideration of the controversial issue in 25 years.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joined the court’s liberals in the 5 to 3 decision, which said Texas’s arguments that the clinic restrictions were to protect women’s health were cover for making it more difficult to obtain an abortion.

The challenged Texas provisions required doctors who perform abortions at clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and said that clinics must meet hospital-like standards of surgical centers.

Similar restrictions have been passed in other states, and officials say they protect patients. But the court’s majority sided with abortion providers and medical associations who said the rules are unnecessary and so expensive or hard to satisfy that they force clinics to close.

“The decision erodes states’ lawmaking authority to safeguard the health and safety of women and subjects more innocent life to being lost,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said in a statement. “Texas’ goal is to protect innocent life, while ensuring the highest health and safety standards for women.”

The Post has an article that looks at that last statement:

A key study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology estimated that the risk of a woman dying after childbirth was 10 times greater than after an abortion. The study estimated that between 1998 and 2005, one woman died in childbirth for every 11,000 babies born. That compares with one in 167,000 women who died of abortion complications. Doctors who perform abortions say the most common complications are not bladder issues or problems with reproductive organs — as some abortion opponents like to emphasize — but mild infection that can be easily treated.

So if Texas makes more women continue their pregnancy more women will die. Even if they just delay the abortion more women will die.

Let’s throw in some data (scroll down to tables 7 or 8):

Among the 38 areas that reported gestational age at the time of abortion for 2012 (Table 7), two-thirds (65.8%) of abortions were performed by ≤8 weeks’ gestation, and 91.4% were performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation.

and according to here:

The risk of death associated with abortion increases with the length of pregnancy, from 0.3 for every 100,000 abortions at or before eight weeks to 6.7 per 100,000 at 18 weeks or later.

A first-trimester abortion is one of the safest medical procedures and carries minimal risk—less than 0.05%—of major complications that might need hospital care.

The Supreme Court easily figured out that these laws were not about the safety of women and all about restricting abortion.

Not a terrorist

Via here, we get this:

Federal prosecutors say a Tooele County man placed a pipe bomb against the door of a BLM cabin and pushed the button on a remote detonator multiple times, with no result.

His mistake? He’d unwittingly assigned an undercover FBI agent to build the bomb.

William Keebler, 57, of Stockton, was arrested early Wednesday morning in Nephi and appeared Thursday in U.S. District Court, charged by federal prosecutors with attempting to blow up federal property at an Arizona Strip BLM facility that he had allegedly scouted with Robert LaVoy Finicum.

Charging documents say Keebler is the commander of a citizen militia group headquartered in Stockton. He was present at the April 2014 standoff with federal land administrators near the Bunkerville, Nev., ranch of Cliven Bundy, and he was an associate of Finicum, who was killed in late January by Oregon state police after he tried to avoid their roadblock in eastern Oregon amid an occupation of a federal wildlife refuge. The Tribune wrote about Keebler in December 2011, when he worked as an outfitter guiding coyote sport hunters.

Undercover FBI employees became members of Keebler’s “Patriots Defense Force,” charging documents say, and trained for an “anti-government action” where, Keebler told members, they would be “going on the offensive.”

Keebler’s group scouted the BLM office in the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City as a potential target, but found it unsuitable due to the commercial and homeless activity, charging documents state.

Prosecutors allege that Keebler told the group it would target BLM facilities in “the middle of nowhere,” damaging vehicles and buildings. He asked a militia member — who happened to be an undercover FBI employee — to build an explosive device.

and this links to the Federal complaint. He didn’t want to hurt anyone … this time, but felt he might have to in the future and had the FBI agent build two pipe bombs with the second one to be used against law enforcement if needed.

So, this guy was at one armed insurrection against the US government, worked with a man who was at another armed insurrection against the US government, and was now preparing to go on the offensive against the US government. But somehow this isn’t front page news at any of the major news outlets. The Washington Post has a small article … with no comments. The Boston Globe has no articles. The NY Times has a slightly longer article, but it was just taken off the wire. the LA Times has nothing. CNN has nothing. Gee, I wonder if he’s white and Christian (Mormon)? That was a rhetorical question.

As an aside, the end of the Salt Lake Tribune article has this:

In 2001, the BLM worked with Bundy descendants to rebuild the town’s iconic white schoolhouse after it had been destroyed by arsonists.

See, we can all get along–at least the Bundy’s can get along with the BLM if the BLM is doing exactly what they want. Here’s a story:

Clay Bundy, Orvel Bundy’s son and a builder in St. George, has been among the dozens of volunteers who have been helping employees from the Bureau of Land Management to restore the school since October. The BLM owns the land the school sits on.

“Someone totally wiped away our history with one match,” said Clay Bundy.

“It’s been phenomenal participation,” he said. “We got most of the outside done on two Saturdays. We had 50, 60 people and their kids, and it was just like an old-fashioned barn raising. When you do something yourself, with your own hands, there’s a pride there.”

The schoolhouse’s walls, roof, windows and insulation have all been finished. An electrician set up a generator, which will provide electricity for the first time, and a new concrete base will anchor the building.

Clay Bundy estimates the volunteers will finish the inside of the schoolhouse by the end of spring.

BLM spokeswoman Bette Arial, who has called the schoolhouse an “oasis” where people visiting the strip can stop, reminisce and learn the region’s history, said the community will continue to keep the schoolhouse doors open to the public.

For his part, Orvel Bundy is glad to see the school being restored.

“It’s a symbol that there were people here once,” he said. “If the schoolhouse was gone, people might think that there never was a community in Mount Trumbull.”

Oh my god, one of the original pieces of Bundyville is owned by the BLM. We need to protest this. What does Clay have to say about his cousins?

Even some in the extended Bundy family have mixed feelings. Clay Bundy, a cousin of Cliven Bundy, still grazes cattle on the harsh northern Arizona land that once held the settlement commonly called Bundyville. (Officially it was Mount Trumbull.) He said he supported his cousin’s yearslong fight over grazing, and wanted to see Western states take control of the federal land in their borders. But he said Ammon Bundy should end the occupation.

“In my idea, he should pack his bags and come home,” Clay Bundy said.

See Clay is a moderate. Shouldn’t he be protesting about the BLM owning Bundyville though?

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