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Morning Jew

15 Mar

This week comics Heather Gold (@heathr) and Katie Halper (@kthalps) look at new anti-gay Jim Crow style laws, crypto-Jews in New Mexico (Spain offers citizenship to Sephardi Jews in an interesting 500 year old “oops I made a mistake”) and delight in Olympic figure skater and commentator Johnny Weir’s new Jewish husband and the sobbing from his mishpocheh around their wedding. And as always they finding out if it was good for the Jews. Plus they debut a new regular feature: mishpocheh messages. Send us your messages from your family.

True Detective’s Rust Cohle Eviscerates Matthew McConaughey

14 Mar

Watch Rust Cohle respond to Matthew McConaughey with utter Rustian contempt. The only thing that I could think of when I watched Matthew McConaughey’s self-congratulating, god-thanking Oscars speech was how much Rust Cohle would hate it. I tried to block it out so I could enjoy True Detective in which McConaughey is brilliant. But I couldn’t. So instead, I thought I would have Rust Cohle explain to Matt why his speech was so ridiculously aggrandizing and delusional. So, here is what Rost has to say about it… in his righteous own words

Morning Jew: Voicemails from Bubby, Woody Allen & Abe Foxman 2/14/14

13 Mar

On this week’s Morning Jew, comedians Katie Halper & Heather Gold analyze a voicemail from a grandmother worried her gay grandchild will go to Russia for The Olympics, read Woody Allen’s letter in Woody’s voice, discuss the retirement of the ADL’s Abe Foxman. Plus we have a huge announcement about who will be replacing him. It’s not who you think. As always, we determine whether the news is good or bad for the Jews. Enjoy! And Happy Valentines Day!

The Senate thinks they’ve done enough to stop military rape

10 Mar
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image via Kristen Gillibrand / Via servicewomen.org

In case you’re disappointed that Kirsten Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act got filibustered yesterday, I have great news: the senate, according to senators, has already done enough to stop military rape and the commanders who are unable to stop the epidemic of sexual assault are totes trust-worthy! Phew!   We have been covering the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA), which would move the decision to prosecute cases of sexual assault from the chain of command to an independent prosecutor, for some time now. And Yesterday we urged readers to call their senators to push them to vote that it go forward. Sadly, the bill, sponsored by Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was blocked by the senate. What makes this particularly frustrating is that the bill received more votes for it (55) than against it (45). But it fell five votes shy of the 60 votes needed to override a fillibuster. And so, on March 6, 2014, the a bill that would have dared to challenge the status quo and actually advocate for survivors of sexual assault, was shut down by a procedural vote that stopped it from even moving to the senate floor.

The need for the MJIA is painfully obvious. As I wrote yesterday,

This bill is extremely important and would challenge the status quo culture of rape and impunity ravaging our armed forces…. the MJIA is a very sensible bill that would move the decision to prosecute out of the hands of the Chain of Command and into the hands of an independent military prosecutor. Given that over a quarter of people sexually assaulted are assaulted by someone in the chain of command, the current system, which requires survivors to report their assault to their superior within said chain of command, is counterproductive an dangerous. The military is creating a system in which rape survivors must report their rapes to people who are friends with the rapists, or the rapists themselves. This obviously inhibits reporting. Logic tells us this. And so does the fact that 62% of those who did report perceived some retaliation for doing so.

The senate voted to let a competing bill, the Victims Protection Act, move forward to a vote. This bill, sponsored by Claire McCaskill (D-MO), one of the only three women to vote against the MJIA, would make some modest reforms but would keep decision-making in response to a report of violence within the chain of command.

The statements of the senators opposing the MJIA reveal blind obedience of the army, expectations that defy logic and the historical record, and a glaring and infuriating disregard for the people who are raped and assaulted in the armed forces. The fact that these statements and votes against the MJIA were made on the same day it was revealed that the top Army prosecutor for sexual assault cases has been suspended for sexual assault, makes this even more disturbing.

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) actually said (out loud!) that enough has been done about the whole military rape thing:

We have been working on the problem of sexual assault, and the reality is that Congress has been aggressive in instituting reforms to tackle sexual assault in the military…These reforms have strengthened the protections and the care of the victims while preserving the rights of the accused. These historic reforms are vital to ensuring a sound, effective, and fair military justice system.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) explained he trusts the commanders, even though they are part of the culture and system which which fails to punish rapists but inhibits, intimidates and re-traumatizes rape victims:

 Will we hold those commanders responsible for everything that happens under their command, or will we take that responsibility and shift it to a lawyer? That’s what this is really all about…I trust these commanders. I trust them.

McCain may not care about the victims but he really doesn’t want to hurt the commander’s feelings. So sensitive.

The always lovely Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was eager to criticize Gillibrand on a personal level and attribute the bill, which has received by partisan support from people including RAND PAUL AND TED CRUZ, to a liberal agenda conspiracy:

What Senator Gillibrand is doing is way off base. It will not get us to the promised land of having a more victim friendly system to report sexual assaults…. This is about liberal people [like TED CRUZ AND RAND PAUL?] wanting to gut the military justice system– social engineering run amok. I want to help victims, but I also want a fair trial… It is only 3 percent who make these decisions. They are our wing commanders, our squadron commanders, our fleet commanders, our brigade commanders the people we entrust and hold accountable for fighting and winning the war.

We have had some bad commanders. However, to those who command the military, I have confidence in you. You will take this system to a new level. You have to up your game, but I am not going to fire you. Thank you for commanding the finest military in the world. I will do nothing to say you are morally bankrupt, because I don’t believe that.

In case you missed it, the people who support the MJIA are not concerned with empowering survivors of sexual assault, according to Graham. They just hate the army and consider each and every commander morally bankrupt. They’re not just liberal… they’re unamerican.

What is so amazing about this debate is that it did not fall neatly along partisan lines, as mentioned above,. I never thought I’d write the following words, but Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) made an excellent case for the MJIA, highlighting the logic of the bill and the absurdity and cruelty of opposing it.

the definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. We have known that sexual assault in the military has been a problem decade after decade. I think it is time we tried something new….
To me it is as simple as this: Should you have to report your assault to your boss? This is what we are talking about. What if your boss goes drinking with the person who assaulted you, who is friends with them? Wouldn’t we want the person you complained to completely outside the chain of command? Wouldn’t we want to have lawyers involved whose specialty is this type of situation?
Yesterday, the United States Senate voted that the men and women serving in our armed forces should be forced to report their sexual assaults to their bosses, to the friends of their assaulters or even their very assaulters.

Related:

Watch now: Senate to vote on military sexual assault bill

GOP Congressman says Senator Gillibrand’s bill is for attention, not about military sexual assault
An infographic and a way to tweet against rape in the military now!
Senator Gillibrand’s attempt to improve military sexual assault protocol blocked
Air Force chief in charge of sexual assault prevention arrested for sexual assault
Is the military labeling rape survivors as “crazy” to get rid of them?

Watch now: Senate to vote on military sexual assault bill

7 Mar

Today, after much delay and opposition, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) will be finally be debated and voted on by the Senate. This bill is extremely important and would challenge the status quo culture of rape and impunity ravaging our armed forces. This seems like an obvious solution. But sadly, it has been, and still is, an uphill battle.

As I write this blog post, the Senate is debating the MJIA. As we’ve covered before, the MJIA is a very sensible bill that would move the decision to prosecute out of the hands of the Chain of Command and into the hands of an independent military prosecutor. Given that over a quarter of people sexually assaulted are assaulted by someone in the chain of command, the current system, which requires survivors to report their assault to their superior within said chain of command, is counterproductive an dangerous. The military is creating a system in which rape survivors must report their rapes to people who are friends with the rapists, or the rapists themselves. This obviously inhibits reporting. Logic tells us this. And so does the fact that 62% of those who did report perceived some retaliation for doing so.

You can watch the vote at 2PM on CSPAN2. Follow along on Twitter using #passMJIA and make some noise in support of this important bill.

Related:

GOP Congressman says Senator Gillibrand’s bill is for attention, not about military sexual assault
An infographic and a way to tweet against rape in the military now!
Senator Gillibrand’s attempt to improve military sexual assault protocol blocked
Air Force chief in charge of sexual assault prevention arrested for sexual assault
Is the military labeling rape survivors as “crazy” to get rid of them?

Image

Because I know how to prioritize & Love True Detective

24 Feb

Because I know how to prioritize & Love True Detective

This is my first installation of my very bad screen shot something or other of True Detective. But, I have a lot more coming. Don’t worry.

Obama is just as racist as Ted Nugent, according to statutory rapist, self-defecating, draft dodger Nugent

23 Feb

ImageSo, it only took statutory rapist, self-defecating, draft dodger Ted Nugent a month to find the quote he thinks vindicates him for having called his president a subhuman mongrel. Drumroll please…. “So Obama called blacks mongrels on the View. Well well well” tweeted a comma-shy Nugent. So, what’s the deal? Did President Obama indeed call “blacks” mongrels? Well, it turns out he did, indeed, say, “We are sort of a mongrel people…. I mean we’re all kinds of mixed up.” So, now the question becomes, did Obama call “blacks” mongrels? Yes and no. He was referring to African Americans initially, but Obama explicitly said the same applied to white people: “That’s actually true of white people as well, but we just know more about it.” But let’s, for argument’s sake, say Obama had really been speaking exclusively about Black people. Would that legitimize Ted Nugent’s use of the word. Not at all. First of all, there is the whole question of the identity of the speaker. But I’m not going to focus on this because I’m sure anyone dense or dishonest enough to think this is a gotcha moment for Obama is incapable of or unwilling to recognize the difference between a Black person using the N word, and a non-Black person using it; the difference between a gay man using the f word and a straight person using it etc.

What is undeniable and not up for debate is the fact that Obama and Nugent meant profoundly different things when they used the mongrel. Ted Nugent is a proud Obama-hater, who vowed that he would be dead or in jail if Obama won re-election. (I thought you were a man of your word, Ted.) When he called Obama “mongrel” he was being overtly and unmistakably critical (for argument’s sake, I’ll use the word “critical” as opposed to hateful, racist, derogatory, offensive etc). How do we know? Well, besides his record of Obama-victory-based death or prison threats (or teases, to me), the immediate context of the quote makes Nugent’s perspective crystal clear: “I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist raised communist educated communist nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America.” So, he’s lamenting that Obama has not be voted out (or worse), calling him a gangster and, here’s the big kicker, subhuman. There’s an unspoken rule which governs the world that says that any word directly preceded by “subhuman” is not being used in a nice way. Now, compare this to Barack Obama’s use of the word. The only way for Obama’s use of the word to be at all comparable, would be if Obama had openly stated his opposition to African Americans previously or at the same point. If he had lamented being unable to galvanize people against African Americans and kick them out of the country. This is even more far fetched when we take into account that Obama was talking about white people, too. Now, for Nugent to have any leg to stand on, Obama would have had to have expressed a hatred of black people and white people and actually all people, since almost all people are mixes. Please note, Obama does not use the word “subhuman” or any other Hitlerian nomenclature in his appearance on the View. So there’s that, too.

I’m performing Fri 2/21 in Laughing Liberally!

21 Feb

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 5.22.02 PMJoin us for a night of laughter from the left as NYC’s top progressive performers and pundits deliver comedy and commentary with political punch.

Featuring: John Fugelsang Katie Halper Scott Blakeman Frank Conniff Ken Schultz and Julianna Forlano

FREE admission. Great bar and menu. An audience of like-minded lefties.

Doors at 7:30pm

@ Jimmy’s No. 43 (43 east 7th)

We’ll be joined by our friends at Downtown East for Progress, who will share information about their current campaigns related to affordable healthcare, immigration reform, gun control and climate change.

GOP Congressman says Senator Gillibrand’s bill is for attention, not about military sexual assault

21 Feb
image via Facebook

image via Facebook

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has worked long and hard–and faced daunting opposition–fighting against the military’s sexual assault epidemic and culture of impunity. But, according to one Republican Congressman, Sen. Gillibrand’s plan is “certainly not an issue of sexual assault,” but rather a combination of sour grapes and a desire for attention.

Some of you may recall that Sen. Gillibrand tried to pass the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) of 2013, which would have removed the decision to prosecute sexual assault and rape from the chain of command and put it into the hands of an impartial military lawyer. Unfortunately for Gillibrand, all amendments to the 2014 defense spending were dropped, due to annoying “partisan politics” or Republican intransigence and Democratic foldability.

Gillibrand’s MJIA, however, will have another chance when it comes to the Senate floor this March.

But there’s tons of opposition from both parties. Because Kirsten Gillibrand seriously needs to just calm down, am I right? I mean, she is getting way too emotional and hysterical and subjective when it comes to the whole rape in the military thing. Yes, the Pentagon itself estimated that there were 26,000 cases of sexual assault in 2012. Fine, that does seem like a lot. And the Pentagon also found that only 3,374 cases of sexual assault were reported. So, OK, there’s some under-reporting going on. And, yes, maybe something should be done. But Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act plan is just absurd! Her critics argue that the plan is unnecessary, too “extreme” and won’t be effective.

The MJIA, in fact, isn’t even about sexual assault. It’s all about Kirsten. Rep. Michael Turner, an Ohio Republican and co-chairman of the Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus, said:

She seriously misrepresents the circumstances of the Defense Department, because she ignores the legislation that was passed…. I think at this point, it’s certainly not an issue of sexual assault, it’s just an issue of the senator wanting to promote her solution that has already lost. I think she’s getting a whole lot of attention for a debate that’s over.

Seriously, Kirsten. Turner is over it. Shouldn’t you be? What is so important about the chain of command any way? Well, under the chain of command status quo, a victim of rape or sexual assault reports the crime to his her or superior. This means the person deciding how to proceed with the case will know the person reporting the crime. If the perpetrator of the crime is in the same unit, which is the case for 25% of women and 27% of men who are victims of sexual assault, that means that the superior will know the perpetrator or, even worse, will actually be the perpetrator. In other words the current system makes it so you may have to report your rape to your rapist. And if you think the system doesn’t exactly encourage people to come forward, you’re right. It silences them. According to the Department of Defense, among the women who did not report experiencing unwanted sexual contact,  “47% said fear of retaliation or reprisal prevented them from reporting. 43% heard about negative experiences from other victims who had reported. 50% thought nothing would be done.” And their fears were well-founded; 62% of the women who did report their assault experienced retaliation. So, an overwhelming majority of victims decide to stay silent. And the majority of those who make the brave and painful decision to report their rape or assault are punished for doing so. This system encourages silence at best–and revenge at worst.

Critics of the MJIA including, disappointingly, Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is even threatening to filibuster it, claim that it won’t help those who experience sexual assault in this military. That’s an interesting argument. But I think I’ll trust the opinions of the actual survivors of military sexual assault. Like Paula Coughlin, US Navy, who said:

It has to come out of the chain of command, because the chain of command has really become impotent. The chain of command is vested in protecting itself, and so often, the perpetrator of the assault is in the chain of command.

Or Sarah Plummer, US Marine:

Having someone within your direct chain of command handling the case, it just doesn’t make sense. It`s like your brother raping you and having your dad decide the case.

Or Trina McDonald, US Navy:

The people that were involved in my assaults were police personnel, security personnel, higher-ranking officers, the people that I would have gone to and reported.

Unsurprisingly, the MJIA has also been endorsed by several organizations consisting of and representing people who have actually served in the military, like Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Service Women’s Action Network, and Protect Our Defenders. But what is surprising is that even some military high-ups admit systemic failure. Like Commandant of the Marine Corps General James F. Amos who said, “Why wouldn’t female Marines come forward? Because they don’t trust us. They don’t trust the command. They don’t trust the leadership.”

As for the drastic and extreme nature of the bill–because, you know, a sexual assault epidemic should be met with mild solutions–somehow the plan is moderate, logical, obvious and sensible enough that it has garnered support from Senators from both parties. Get ready for this… Republicans Rand Paul and Ted Cruz actually agree with Gillibrand on this one. You may feel weird agreeing with people like Rand and Ted, I know I do. But politics makes strange bedfellows. So, let’s do what we can to push for the MJIA. You can sign this petition. And look here to see if your Senator is on board and if not, tweet them and call them and tell them to vote for the Military Justice Improvement Act!

Related:
An infographic and a way to tweet against rape in the military now!
Senator Gillibrand’s attempt to improve military sexual assault protocol blocked
Air Force chief in charge of sexual assault prevention arrested for sexual assault
Is the military labeling rape survivors as “crazy” to get rid of them?

“Girls Chase Boys” updates iconic sexist ’80s music video

15 Feb

Does this video look familiar? If it does, you’re either 100 years old, like me, and remember seeing Robert Palmer’s “Simply Irresistible” on the TV, or it’s become a kitsch throwback. This video, however, by Ingrid Michaelson, for her catchy  new “Girls Chase Boys“ song makes some major improvements; is a lot less white and a lot less gender-binaried, lucky for us. But you don’t need to have lived through the 1980s to enjoy the video and all its hotness.

Lyrics after the jump.

New York-born and raised and based indie-pop singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson explains that her song started out about a break but became something more:

Girls Chase Boys started out as a break up song but took on a deeper meaning as I continued writing. More than just being about my experience, its focus shifted to include the idea that, no matter who or how we love, we are all the same. The video takes that idea one step further, and attempts to turn stereotypical gender roles on their head. Girls don’t exclusively chase boys. We all know this! We all chase each other and in the end we are all chasing after the same thing: love. I hope you enjoy it! AHHH!

It’s a heartwarming statement about how regardless of gender or sexuality, we’re all miserable.

Lyrics

All the broken hearts in the world still beat
Lets not make it harder than it has to be
Ooooooh it’s all the same thing
Girls chase boys chase girls

All the broken hearts in the world still beat
Lets not make it harder than it has to be
Ooooooh it’s all the same thing
Girls chase boys chase girls

I’m a little let down, but I’m not dead
There’s a little bit more that has to be said
oh oooh
you play me, now I play you, too
Lets just call it over

All the broken hearts in the world still beat
Lets not make it harder than it has to be
Oooooh its all the same thing
Girls chase boys chase girls (x2)
Chase girls chase boys chase boys chase girls

Im a little bit home, but I’m not there yet
Its one to forgive but its hard to forget
Don’t call me, I won’t call you, too
Lets just call it over

All the broken hearts in the world still beat
Lets not make it harder than it has to be
Oooooh it’s all the same thing
Girls chase boys chase girls (x2)
chase girls chase boys chase boys chase girls

I got two hands one beating heart
And I’ll be alright I’m gonna be alright

Yeah I got two hands one beating heart
And I’ll be alright, I’m gonna be alright
Gonna be alright

All the broken hearts in the world still beat
Lets not make it harder than it has to be
Oooooh it’s all the same thing
Girls chase boys chase girls (x4)

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