The Chosen Frozen

Screenshot of my blog, The Chosen Frozen

As you may or may not know, I am a blogger for The Jerusalem Post, which is the major daily English-language newspaper in Israel. My blog, The Chosen Frozen, appears on their website, JPost.com. I blog about Judaism, life as a convert, politics, diaspora issues and events, and much more. Check it out at http://www.jpost.com/Blogger/Ryan-Fagan

My take on the ‘Religious Freedom’ law in Indiana

I’m gonna use a bakery owner as an example:

Refusing to bake a damn cake for someone due to their sexual orientation is stupid… Aren’t you a businessperson? Don’t you want to make a damn profit?  You don’t agree with homosexuality?  Well, that is your own thought and you are entitled to it, but keep it to yourself.  You’re a twice divorced baker? If that is the case, on the same accord you should be refusing service to yourself… What do you think about that? Bake the damn cake… It doesn’t affect you in any negative way. You may be a bigot, but you’re making money.

Review: Gentleman’s Box

A new start-up company out of Detroit has launched something called the Gentleman’s Box.  Gentleman’s Box is a premier subscription box that for $25 per month sends you a uniquely themed box full of products for guys.  Each box contains 4-5 hand-selected items along with the latest issue of GQ magazine. 

I was intrigued so I signed up to receive the first ever box, which arrived today. 

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Gentleman's Box logo on top of box

I opened the box and was presented with instructions on how to “Unbox like a true gentleman.”

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Inside was a card with the month and theme on it and a breakdown of the items and retail prices of the items

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This first ever box contained the November issue of GQ, USB cufflinks (yes… Cufflinks with USB drives), stitched socks, facial cleanser, and a plaid skinny tie.  Total retail cost of this box’s items: $78.  Cost of box: $25. A good deal, right?

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I spent some time Googling the various items to try and see if the listed retail prices are legit, since only the GQ has a price listed on it.  For the most part, it seems like its not just a marketing ploy.  The tie lists for 26ish on various websites, the Billy Jealousy face cleanser checks out at $6 for a 2 oz bottle.  The socks are around $12.  The only thing I can’t find a price anywhere when Google searching for is the USB cufflinks.  The brand is unknown and I highly doubt they are the $100 pairs I see on Amazon.

Anyway, I am glad I tried out this service.  Its not bad for $25 per month.  I may occasionally subscribe to get some new guy things.  As for now, I cancelled.  I am taking a wait and see approach to see if the item quality improves or declines as the service takes off.

Scott Walker Might Be “Called” to Run for President

My take on this… And Scott Walker in general:

Scott Walker doesn’t have a chance in hell of even a serious run for the Presidency. His purpose is to be the new Newt Gingrich—constantly running for office/the Presidency—but simply fundraising for himself/living off donations— and the Right wing causes he espouses. Basically, he’ll live off of donations for the rest of his life—That’s Walker’s goal.

Walker is a classic Grifter/a complete Fraud.

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How to be a Cookie Cutter Conservative:

First and foremost you must have an unrealistic view of growing up American – In the conservative world you are automatically born into a loving family with zero moral or financial issues.  You live in a nice house with both parents present until you go off to college without worrying how to pay for it and move immediately into the job you deserve or better yet create your very successful small business.

Along the way there are certain things you absolutely have to be in favor of:

God – God must be the deciding factor in all things.  God has put you on a pre-determined path, and the choices you make are all a part of His plan.  Don’t worry, there is inevitably a passage in the bible somewhere that will support your actions and guide you through your next concern.

Guns – If you aren’t in favor of all things gun related you are un-American.  You will support the right of people to carry assault rifles through Home Depot and carry shotguns to the playground, all for the purpose of keeping people safe.  You oppose any kind of gun safety legislation because 14 people were killed in Chicago in a single weekend in a gun free zone.

The Constitution – Even though you’ve probably never read it, you have to support it.  You absolutely must be shocked and outraged every time a story comes across your newsfeed claiming President Obama has once again usurped this magnificent document you don’t understand by issuing an Executive Order that doesn’t apply to you.

Once you have those things covered you are well on your way to being conservative.  Next you must conform to a list of things you are against:

Freedom of Religion – This very important first item may at first seem confusing, because as a lover of the Constitution you are already in favor of Christianity, since it was written by people filled with the spirit of the Lord.  You are all for school prayer and “under God.”  You don’t need to be in favor of freedom of Christianity since our country is a Christian one by law.  You are opposed to freedom of all other religions or lack thereof.

Government assistance – Having grown up in the perfect home and moved into the perfect job you are fundamentally opposed to people who require any form of public assistance.  Those people are lazy and in need of an education.  If you’re one of the millions of conservatives who lives in a poverty-stricken red state and collects benefits you are still opposed to the poor people of the inner cities getting benefits because they are all committing fraud and eating steak with the taxes you don’t pay.

Women’s rights – You oppose abortion because all life is sacred unless you’re a Muslim or on death row.  You oppose fair pay for womenfolk because they spend less time building their “human capital,” a term you don’t feel the need to truly comprehend.  Women who dress provocatively are asking to get raped.

Illegal immigrants – All people with brown skin are illegal immigrants.  It doesn’t matter how long they’ve been here, whether or not they’ve obtained legal residency or become US citizens or were born on American soil, they should all go home.  They are taking all of the jobs and sucking up taxpayer money via welfare and food stamps.  You believe a 30 foot electrified fence should be built from one end of our southern border to the other.  Because it’s our only border.

Corporate taxation – You oppose the taxation of corporations…for some reason.  You have bought the “job creator” line that has led to the largest gap in wealth inequality in our history, and you support corporate personhood.  It matters not that these companies are essentially being paid to send factories overseas and hide their profits offshore because the Mexicans are taking all the jobs and the poor are taking all the money.

The environment – The EPA is nothing but a sham.  Global climate change is a hoax.  It’s important for big energy companies to continue fracking away the future of our planet because people need jobs.  Clean energy won’t get your ’72 Ford pickup from point A to point B any faster, therefore it’s unnecessary.

Gays and gay marriage – In case you don’t have enough things to hate you can always add this tiny demographic to the list. Gay people will teach children to be gay.  Gay marriage will destroy the foundation of our country because, well, it just will. These people must be stopped before pedophilia and bestiality run rampant in America. Also… AIDS.

There are of course many other factors that will assist in qualifying you as a modern conservative. You should be white and vocal about loving being white while at the same time blaming minorities for racism.  You should be male or subservient to one.  You should believe that all of your views are backed by facts because you read them on the internet or heard it on FOX News.

If you put it in perspective you’re basically a bigoted white male, ammosexual-regressive who wants to see our country revert to 1863 with no understanding of our founding fathers or of our laws.  That won’t matter to you, though, because that distinction was given to you by a lazy liberal whose only interest in life is wrapping their government assisted arms around useless trees.

Your parents will be so proud.

What if it was… Say… An Islamic Company??

The slide towards American theocracy was nudged one more step forward by yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in support of the “freedom” of corporations with “religious” beliefs to restrict the rights of their employees. In essence, religious “beliefs” trump the obligations, rights, and responsibilities that come with being members of the polity and a broader political community.

The NY Times details the logic of the theocrats as:

The 5-to-4 decision, which applied to two companies owned by Christian families, opened the door to challenges from other corporations to many laws that may be said to violate their religious liberty.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the court’s five more conservative justices, said a federal religious-freedom law applied to for-profit corporations controlled by religious families. He added that the requirement that the companies provide contraception coverage imposed a substantial burden on the companies’ religious liberty. He said the government could provide the coverage in other ways.

The dissent offers up this chilling observation:

On that point, Justice Ginsburg, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, said the court’s decision “is bound to have untoward effects” in other settings.

“The court’s expansive notion of corporate personhood,” Justice Ginsburg wrote, “invites for-profit entities to seek religion-based exemptions from regulations they deem offensive to their faiths.”

The corporateocracy and the 1 percent are using the tricks, smoke, and mirrors of “religious faith” to expand their power and protections from civil authority and the social compact.

The tactic is Orwellian and dystopian.

Alas, if corporations are indeed “people”–an insult to the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution which was put in place to protect the rights of newly freed black slaves–then their behavior is sociopathic. The sociopath will lie, dissemble, and exploit others for his or her own gain because that is their essential nature.

There are many complications that will arise from the Supreme Court’s “Hobby Lobby” decision.

The language of “religious liberty” and “free enterprise” are deified in American political culture and discourse. Those words are blinding and disorienting; therefore, they are also concepts that are not critically interrogated.

For example, “religious liberty” and “free enterprise” were used to justify slavery, as well as Jim and Jane Crow. The move towards privatized schools, “urban academies”, and publicly funded religiously based secondary and primary education are the direct heirs of the “freedom academies” that whites used as a means to resist integration and the Black Freedom Struggle in the South and elsewhere.

[I wonder how many African-Americans and others who support school privatization are aware of that ugly history and the intersection between neoliberalism and white supremacy in the present?]

In practice, the language of religious liberty and free enterprise are in many ways antithetical to a true and expansive view of freedom, liberty, and civil rights.

The Roberts and Scalia court is operating under an assumption that Christianity is the United States’ semi-official religion and that it should be legislated and protected in a way that other faiths are not. This is, of course, a misreading of the Constitution–despite what the deranged members of the Fox News Christian Evangelical Dominionist American public would like to believe.

Unintended consequences may lay bare the hypocrisy of the Right-wing and its agents on the Supreme Court.

How would conservatives and their agents respond if a company with Islamic beliefs (however defined) decided to impose its religious values on white, Christian, American employees?

Sharia hysteria would spread in such a way as to make the present day-to-day Islamophobia of the Right-wing echo chamber appear benign and muted by comparison.

What if a Black cultural nationalist organization such as the Nation of Islam or the Black Israelites claimed that they possessed a “religious freedom” to actively discriminate against white people in the workplace or elsewhere?

The White Right would explode with claims of “reverse discrimination” and “black racism”.

The end game of the Supreme Courts’ surrender to the theocrats and religious plutocrats could be the complete dismantlement of the liberal consensus politics of the post World War 2 era.

Consider the following questions.

Is there a “religious freedom” to practice housing discrimination if you are a member of a white supremacist “Christian” organization that leases or sells property? Does “religious freedom” for corporate entities trump anti-discrimination laws governing gender, sexuality, disability status, or race?

The beautiful thing about religious faith is its malleability and vagueness. “Faith” is a belief which cannot be proven by ordinary or empirical means: this trait makes religion dangerous and disruptive to a functioning democratic-liberal polity.

Religion can be anything to anyone.

The Framers understood this fact. Thus, their shrewd choice to separate church and state in the Constitution.

Movement conservatism is no longer a centrist force, one interested in stability or “tradition”. Its members are radicals who want to fundamentally destroy and transform the standing bargains and norms which have guided American society and politics for decades.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court, what was once the United States’ most respected political institution, is soiling itself by surrendering to the American Right’s radical agenda.

Breaking Down Gun Nuts

Ah, gun nuts… Everything with these people is guns. You see it with these open carry lunatics where they apparently feel the need to carry some kind of firearm with them 24 hours a day.  Not only that, they want it strapped to them in full display of the public.  Because nothing says “I’m sane” quite like believing that you need an AR-15 strapped to your back while you order a burger at a local fast food restaurant.

It’s just absurd. But these open carry clowns honestly aren’t about self defense and “the Second Amendment” – it’s about inadequacy and “looking tough.”  That’s why they stage events to show off their guns.  It’s not about being out somewhere that you feel you might need protection.  It’s all about telling the public, “F*ck you, I’m carrying this big gun wherever I want!” The way I look at it, although I’m not licensed as a medical practitioner, I just don’t see these people as mentally stable.  If they really believe that life is so terrifying that they need a semi-automatic weapon with them wherever they go – that’s mental illness as far as I’m concerned.  If you believe that strapping a rifle to your back to shop at your local Walmart is a “necessity,”

Here are 10 signs that I believe prove that someone is too mentally ill to own guns.  Again, this isn’t meant to be viewed as any sort of “official” guide to mental illness and I am not a doctor.  This is just my own personal opinion on the matter, so keep that in mind.

1) They believe that guns should be openly displayed in public – everywhere.

2) They hoard guns in anticipation of a possible overthrow of our federal government.

3) Even the slightest mention of a new gun regulation sends them into a paranoid rant about gun confiscation, bringing about references to Nazi Germany.

4) They honestly believe that the federal government can be overthrown.

5) Their answer to any kind of dispute between the government and a citizen is to show up in armed groups because they don’t like how a court ruled on a particular issue.

6) They’ve frequently rush out to buy guns an ammo in anticipation of some form of government ban on weapons that never – ever happens.

7) They honestly believe that easy access to guns has nothing to do with gun violence.

8) They believe that anytime they feel threatened, shooting anything that they feel threatened by is the first answer.

9) They own nearly a full wardrobe of shirts or hats depicting gun manufacturers or NRA logos.

10) They believe that it should be easier to buy a gun than cast a vote.

Check out my earlier post “Gun Nuttery is a Religion” for a nice graphic detailing more gun nut facts.