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What ARE Words For?

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Images Of The Great Divide

The past few months, as I’ve said to a few folks recently, have been the perfect time to be a writer writing about gay issues. Never in our history has the gay community been at the center of so much attention, and never in our history has the gay community had so many allies – and enemies. (Of course, except during the Holocaust.)

I read so many blogs and stories and newspapers and tweets every day. My eyes are always tired, my brain is never off, and all these months I’ve been looking for new ways to communicate what’s in my head, what’s going on, what people are thinking and feeling, saying, and doing. Today, I thought I’d take a different approach. After I wrote, “Only In America: Double-Plus Good?” I got a lot of folks asking me who these organizations were, and what were they really about. (Surely a sign that I was on the right track!)

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, let me share with you a week’s worth of information in a few images. Here are the tag clouds of six of the most rabidly anti-gay blogs around, surprisingly, beautifully rendered with the help of Wordle, “a toy for generating ‘word clouds’ from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.” To be fair, I used the main blog address of each of these right-wing organizations, on the same day (today) and used the same parameters: maximum word count, language, no numbers, etc. I selected visually interesting, random image generations.

Honestly, I assumed that I’d find pictures filled with hate and anger and anti-gay messages. Instead, I was surprised, and I realized something: all of us, all of us who write about civil rights, news, politics, marriage equality, family, freedom, all of us often use the same words, often surprisingly with the same frequency. It’s the meaning of those words, what those words mean when we read them, and the meaning the authors impose on us when they write them, that makes all the difference. It’s not our words that separate us; indeed, it’s our words that link us, that, in a way, unite us. It’s what we do with them that is the great divide.

Click on images for larger size. Click again for full size. Left to right, top to bottom: Beetle Blogger, National Organization For Marriage, United Families International, Family Research Council, American Family Association, Protect Marriage.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Thinly-Veiled Incitement to Violence and Overt Racism’: Trump’s Truth Social Post Sparks Outrage

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Donald Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” but on Friday night took his social media approach to his Truth Social website.

Trump accused Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of having a “death wish” after a government shutdown was averted.

“Must immediately seek help and advise (sic) from his China loving wife, Coco Chow!” he said of Elaine Chao, who served in his cabinet for four years as Secretary of Transportation.

Trump’s post generated outrage online.

“Nothing to see here,” conservative lawyer George Conway tweeted. “Just a former president of the United States seeking to incite violence against the minority leader of the United States Senate and launching a racist verbal attack on the leader’s wife.”

Former federal prosecutor Shanlon Wu wrote, “Donald Trump using blatant racist tactics in his desperate attacks on McConnell by trying to ridicule Asian American former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao’s name calling her ‘Coco Chow’ — [McConnell] and [GOP] should call him out and reject his racist hate — will they do it?”

“Hardly shocking that Trump would threaten Mitch McConnell by capitalizing the words ‘death wish’ — dog whistle invitation to Trump’s extremist supporters — same Trump who believed his own VP Pence deserved to be lynched by the angry Jan. 6 mob Trump incited to violence,” Wu added.

Janai Nelson, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, wrote, “I double dare all major media outlets to call this what it is: thinly-veiled incitement to violence and overt racism.”

Podcaster Fred Wellman said, “Elaine Chao was Trump’s Secretary of Transportation for 4 years and he just called her the ridiculously racist nickname ‘Coco Chow.’ Yes…you are a racist if you still support this broken *sshole.”

Jonah Goldberg, the editor-in-chief of The Dispatch, wrote, “Look, I think the gross bigotry, stupidity, dishonesty, and demagoguery of this is obvious on so many levels and I’m embarrassed for the country. But, because no one else will, I feel I have to point out he also misspelled advice.”

 

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News

Republicans suggest defunding Veteran Affairs even though it helps 9 million vets

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Republican legislators are starting to suggest defunding the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the office founded in 1989 to assist with veteran needs. The VA assists with getting veterans mental and physical healthcare, educational opportunities, community support, and other everyday housing and living needs.

An Arizona legislator, captured on video participating in a mock congressional hearing, said he supported shutting down the department.

“That’s sort of what I’m thinking because … I hear no good stories. I had zero in my district,” the legislator said in a video posted by the far-right watchdog group Patriot Takes. “So I guess it’s a matter of us leading the fight to defund it.”

A second video, posted by the same account, showed Republican Florida Representative Matt Gaetz advocating for defunding the VA while speaking at an event held by FreedomWorks, a conservative and libertarian advocacy group.

“This is my question to the group. Is it savable? Why not abolish the VA, take all of the money that we are otherwise spending and go to an any willing provider system inside of our communities?” Gaetz says in the video. “And then, if people get bad care, they can vote with their feet and you don’t have a two-tier system of healthcare in this country with our veterans and then with everyone else.”

Generally speaking, Republican policies favor the privatization of all government functions, thinking that a “small government,” “free-market,” “for-profit” privatization provided by a corporation can solve any market ill.

In reality, if entire communities are deprived of VA access, U.S. military veterans will be left largely on their own to get their life needs met after military service. Those who lack money or transportation won’t be able to “vote with their feet” and find a local care provider to handle their specific issues… they’ll either have to spend massive amounts to get such essential care or just go without.

In late July, 41 Senate Republicans voted against a bill aimed at protecting veterans exposed to toxic materials during their military service. The legislation would have expanded care to 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic burn pits. It would have also added 23 toxic and burn pit exposure-related illnesses to the VA database, Newsweek reported.

After massive blowback, Senate Republicans re-voted on the bill and helped it pass.

Patriot Takes posted the video hoping that it would encourage veterans and military members to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections.

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'PRIORITIES'

Red states are lining up to stop Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan

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Six red states — Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Carolina — are suing the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden over Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for individuals making less than $125,000 a year.

The Biden administration based its plan on a 2003 law. According to the Justice Department, the law, initially meant to help military members, says that Biden can reduce or erase student loan debts during times of national emergency.

The red states’ lawsuit, filed Thursday in Missouri, said that Biden’s plan was “not remotely tailored to address the effects of the pandemic on federal student loan borrowers.” The lawsuit adds that, since Biden recently declared the COVID-19 pandemic as over, he can’t use it as a justification for his wide-scale debt relief plan, ABC News reported.

“It’s patently unfair to saddle hard-working Americans with the loan debt of those who chose to go to college,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said of her state’s lawsuit. “The Department of Education is required, under the law, to collect the balance due on loans. And President Biden does not have the authority to override that.”

The states argued that Biden’s plan inflicted a “number of ongoing financial harms” to student loan providers and also “will ultimately disrupt revenue to state coffers.” They also argued that Biden’s plan violates the Administrative Procedure Act, a law regulating how federal agencies ensure that presidential policies are well-reasoned and explained, the aforementioned publication reported.

Despite these claims, the White House has said it will continue with its plan, confident it can survive a court challenge.

“Republican officials from these six states are standing with special interests, and fighting to stop relief for borrowers buried under mountains of debt,” White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan said Thursday. “The president and his administration are lawfully giving working and middle class families breathing room as they recover from the pandemic and prepare to resume loan payments in January.”

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