Archives for category: Bigotry

Did you know that the Trump Cabinet has its own Bible teacher?

His name is Ralph Drollinger, and he is bigoted and hard of hearts.

He wrote recently that the COVID-19 pandemic is an expression of God’s wrath.

Why is a God angry? Gays, environmentalists, and other groups that Drollinger doesn’t like.

He obviously thinks he knows what God thinks.

And he thinks he is God’s spokesman on earth.

This is a combination of bigotry and stupidity.

On January 23, the Orlando Sentinel published an investigative report that nearly 160 religious schools receiving public money for vouchers openly discriminated against LGBT students, families, and staff.

The Florida House just rejected a bill to make such discrimination in publicly funded schools illegal. To make it plain, the Florida House sent a message to religious schools that it is just fine to discriminate against gay students, families, and staff.

Leslie Postal and Annie Martin wrote:

The Florida House voted down a proposal to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ students in the state’s school voucher programs Friday as it moved to expand the number of state-financed scholarships available to send youngsters to private schools.
Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, urged his colleagues to “tackle the issue of LGBTQ discrimination,” with him and some other Democrats arguing private schools that take Florida scholarships shouldn’t be able to ban gay students any more than they could ban students based on their race.

But the measure was defeated in the Republican-controlled House, and Smith said he doubted he had any other legislative avenues to pursue the issue this year.

This will not disturb Secretary of Educatuon DeVos. Her family foundation has given large donations to anti-gay groups for years (e.g., the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family).

Teresa Hanafin writes the daily Fast Forward in the Boston Globe.

She writes today:

Trump heads home from India this morning, leaving behind his usual trail of exaggerations, misinformation, and dodgy answers. Prime Minister Narendra Modiplayed it smart, following the lead of other world leaders who have figured out that over-the-top flattery and ostentatious displays appeal to the man-child, who then will gushingly praise the host who put on the show for him.

Modi has centralized power in his office, reduced the authority of the judiciary, investigated organizations that criticize him (and charged some leaders with sedition), and cut funding for anti-poverty programs, health initiatives, and education.

No wonder that Trump called him “incredible,” “very calm,” “very strong” and “very tough.”

A few items:

Trump: Modi wants religious freedom in India and is working very hard on that.
Truth: Modi is actually working very hard on making life miserable for India’s 200 million Muslims, a move that’s popular with many of the country’s majority Hindus.

He stripped statehood and autonomy from Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim-majority state, arrested some of its leaders, and shut off Internet access. (Trump would like to do that in Massachusetts. Or New York. Or California.)

He pushed citizenship tests in the state of Assam, where the official government lists conveniently left off most Bengali Muslims (whom his home minister calls “termites”). Now he wants all Indians to prove they are Indians, and he’s building huge detention complexes to house those who can’t. And there will be many; it’s pretty difficult to track down a birth certificate when you can’t read. If you even had one to begin with.

Most recently, he got Parliament to enact a law that provides a fast-track path to citizenship for migrants from three countries: Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. There are two caveats, however: You have to have entered India before 2014, and you have to practice one of six religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism, and Zoroastrianism. Notice something missing? That’s right — Islam.

This has caused massive protests and riots in India. In fact, not far from where Trump was speaking in Delhi, a violent clash between Hindus and Muslims left 11 people dead.

Modi has even had history books rewritten to exclude Muslim leaders, and rarely punishes Hindu mobs who lynch Muslims.

Modi apparently has forgotten — actually, is deliberately ignoring — the expressed intent of founders Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru to build an India that is a secular and democratic republic, a country in which citizens are not defined by faith and civil liberties are extended to all.

Trump: “Under Prime Minister Modi, for the first time in history, every village in India now has access to electricity.”
Truth: Um, no. About 99 million people, or 7 percent of India’s population, still live in the dark.

Trump: “We have the greatest economy ever in the history of the United States.”
Truth: We don’t. GDP has been higher many times in the past, the proportion of Americans with a job has been higher in the past, and wages have risen faster in the past.

Same old, same old.

 

Peter Greene nails it here, in discussing how Trump and DeVos folded the federal Charter Schools Program into a big, fat block grant that states can spend however they wish. 

For decades, Republicans have been wanting to eliminate social programs by turning them into block grants to the states. Now, as Valerie Strauss reported, charter school advocates are outraged. Brought to the dance and abandoned.

Open the link and see the great image Greene posts to make the point.

I have known for many years that right-wingers went for charters only because they lay the groundwork for vouchers.

I learned that when I worked in rightwing think tanks like the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Koret Education Program at the Hoover Institution.

The true right-wingers don’t give a hoot about charter schools except as a way to condition the American public to give up on public schools and place their faith in consumerism.

Charters pave the way for vouchers. They turn citizens, invested in public institutions, into consumers, looking out only for their own child.

Now that the Trump administration has a chance to show what it really cares about, it is vouchers (aka “Education Freedom Scholarships” or some other deceptive name).

DeVos wants every American child in a religious school or some other private school.

Not the kind that costs $25,000-50,000 a year.

The kind that costs $4,800 a year.

The kind that scoffs at the common good.

The kind that employs high-school dropouts as teachers (as in Florida), the kind that decides which children are acceptable and which are not allowed. The kind that kicks out students, staff and families who are gay, knowing that Trump’s rightwing Supreme Court will back them up.

The kind that accepts only “our kind.”

The Trump-DeVos show and the return of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia as acceptable public policy.

To the shock and consternation of charter school advocates, the Trump budget proposal abandons the controversial federal Charter Schools Program, turning it into a state bloc program that turns the money over to the states. 

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools issued a scathing denunciation of the axing of the federal charter school programs, which has enriched the big corporate charter chains.

The Network for Public Education issued two reports on waste, fraud, and abuse in this program, showing that nearly 40% of the federal money was spent on charters that either never opened or closed soon after opening, with waste of nearly $1 billion. See the reports here and here.

Trump and DeVos are backing their chief priority: vouchers, which they prefer to call “education freedom scholarships,” at a proposed cost of $5 billion. They want America’s children to be “rescued” from public schools that hat have been burdened by harmful federal policies like high-stakes testing, and punishments attached to testing. They want them to attend religious schools that are low-cost and have no standards or accountability, and are free to discriminate against students, families, and staff they don’t like.

The erstwhile Center for American Progress lamented the proposal to cut federal spending on charter schools, even though Democratic support for them has substantially declined. Apparently, CAP is the last to know that school choice is a Republican Policy.

Chalkbeat reports:

The Trump administration wants to create a new stream of funding for disadvantaged students that would consolidate current spending on Title I — which gives money to schools serving low-income students — and 28 other programs.

This school year, the department spent $16.3 billion on Title I grants to states and districts and $7.8 billion on the other programs. Under the proposed budget, it would all become a $19.4 billion pot that would be distributed through the Title I formulas — a $4.7 billion cut, if the budget were enacted.

The individual programs on the chopping block include:

  • 21st Century Learning Centers, which supports after-school programs in places like Detroit and New York City ($1.25 billion)
  • Arts in Education ($30 million)
  • English Language Acquisition ($787 million)
  • Homeless Education ($102 million)
  • Neglected and Delinquent, which offers grants to states to educate incarcerated students ($48 million)
  • Magnet Schools, which offers grants some districts use for desegregation ($107 million)
  • Migrant Education ($375 million)
  • Rural Education ($186 million)
  • Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants, which is also known as Title II, Part A, which districts can use for teacher training and to reduce class sizes ($2.1 billion)

This move, the budget documents say, would reduce the federal government’s role in education and pave the way for less spending on department staff.

But the proposed elimination of these streams of funding raised alarms among civil rights advocates, who said this would enable states to spend less money on vulnerable groups like students who are English learners, homeless students, students involved in the juvenile justice system, or migrant students.

“History has shown us that … unless the federal government says you must serve migrant children, and here are funds to help you do that, migrant children are lost and forgotten,” said Liz King, the education equity program director at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “The purpose of the dedicated pots of money … is to make sure that the most powerless people in our country are not lost.”

Advocates for other programs expressed concern, too. During a question and answer session with education department officials, a member of the National Association for Gifted Children asked why the administration had proposed eliminating a $13 million program that supports gifted education.

Jim Blew, one of DeVos’s assistant secretaries, and a former official at the Walton Family Foundation, said that advocates for these programs should lobby the states to fund their favorite programs.

The Orlando Sentinel surveyed Florida’s voucher schools and found that nearly 160 of them openly discriminate against LGBT students, families, and staff. Democratic legislators object and have been meeting with the head of the state’s Step Up for Students, which transfers hundreds of millions of dollars (that would otherwise go to the state as taxes ) to voucher schools. Some major corporations have said they would no longer contribute to the program (in lieu of taxes), which undoubtedly encourages Step Up to talk.

Republican legislators indicate that anti-LGBT policies are not a problem for them.

Such bias is certainly not a problem for Betsy DeVos, whose family foundation has supported anti-gay causes for many years.

And it’s probably okay with the Supreme Court, which ruled that discrimination against a gay couple was acceptable if based on a sincere religious conviction. As you will see if you open the story, these evangelical schools sincerely and passionately detest gay people.

Which other groups is it okay to hate while funded by public dollars?

Teresa Hanafin writes the Fast Forward feature for the Boston Globe. Scroll down and learn how you can subscribe:

 

Three things to mull this morning:

Senate Republicans will acquit Trumpthis afternoon of charges that he abused the power of the presidency. Democrats cringe at the word “acquit” because, they say, the Senate didn’t actually hold a real trial since the GOP refused to call witnesses or hear new evidence.

Trump held a fact-challenged, divisive MAGA rally-meets-reality-TV last night in place of his State of the Union speech, with Republicans shouting “four more years” as though they were at an evangelical tent revival.

Trump gave the nation’s highest civilian award — bestowed in the past to people like Mother Teresa and Rosa Parks — to a guy whose racist and misogynistic rants on TV and talk radio have made him a darling of the right. And Trump brazenly did it in the people’s house.


So where to begin? The acquittal has been a foregone conclusion for months, so let’s move on to his MAGA rally. You knew the impeached Trump was going to be aggressively defiant as soon as he refused to shake the hand of Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House and second in line to the presidency.

News organizations’ fact-checkers say his subsequent speech was replete with misinformation and lies, many designed to portray himself as the best president in history. And his continued obsession with bettering Barack Obama is really sad. A few corrections:

Trump: “I am thrilled to report to you tonight that our economy is the best it has ever been.”
Truth: Sorry, bucko, it’s not. Trump’s annual economic growth rate hasn’t yet surpassed 3 percent, but there have been many, many years in the recent past when GDP grew more than that, including 1950, 1951, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1997, 1998, 1999 — well, you get the idea. The 3.5 percent unemployment rate is not the lowest in history; for example, it was 2.5 percent in 1953.

Trump: “Since my election, we have created 7 million new jobs.”
Truth: It’s actually 6.7 million jobs since he took office, but who’s counting? (Certainly not Trump.) In the last three years of the Obama administration, more than 8 million jobs were created.

Trump: “Thanks to our bold regulatory reduction campaign, the United States has become the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world.”
Truth: The US became the world’s top energy producer under Obama in 2012.

Trump: “From the instant I took office, I moved rapidly to revive the U.S. economy … enacting historic and record-setting tax cuts.”
Truth: Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations were not the largest in history; they were only the eighth-largest in the past century.

Trump: “This is a blue-collar boom.”
Truth: Manufacturing is officially in a recession, and job growth in transportation, construction, and mining has dropped. Oops!

Trump: “Everybody said that criminal justice reform couldn’t be done, but I got it done and the people in this room got it done.”
Truth: I guess he’s hearing voices again, because actually, nobody said that reform couldn’t get done, given that Obama kicked off the effort when he signed the Fair Sentencing Act in August 2010. That repealed the five-year mandatory sentence for first-time offenders and reduced the disparity between the sentences given to those who used powder cocaine (mostly white people) and the much harsher penalties for those who used crack cocaine (mostly Black people).

Trump’s First Step Act builds on that, shortening mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses and easing the federal “three strikes” rule. However, in his 2020 budget, Trump proposed just $14 million for the act, when the law calls for $75 million.

Okay, I’m done. And exhausted trying to keep up with his mendacious word salads. A disgusted Pelosi ripped up the speech at the end in full view of TV cameras, later saying that Trump “shredded the truth, so I shredded his speech.”

You can read more fact-checking by AP in the Globe, by CNN, by NBC, and by The Washington Post.


Trump’s reality TV showmanship was on full display when he announced that a young girl in the gallery was going to get a coveted school scholarship and reunited a soldier with his family.

But it was his awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh that caused the most uproar. (A smiling and clapping first lady Melania placed the medal around Limbaugh’s neck as Republicans cheered in approval.)

Limbaugh, a cigar smoker, announced the other day that he had advanced lung cancer, years after he repeatedly pooh-poohed the connection between tobacco and cancer, blaming the anti-tobacco “hysteria” on leftwing loons who were part of an anti-corporate conspiracy — similar to what he says today about climate change. Look, nobody wishes such a terrible diagnosis on anyone, and we hope he has either a full recovery or can be made as comfortable as possible if the disease progresses.

But cancer does not erase a lifetime of vile, vulgar, hateful speech.

As much as I dislike repeating any of his comments here, it’s important to know the type of person Trump values.

Limbaugh once told a Black female caller to “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.” He called Obama a “halfrican American” and liked to play a song on his radio show called “Barack the Magic Negro.” He called for segregated buses when Obama became president, and called Mexicans “stupid and unskilled.”

He said that when a gay person “turns his back on you, it is anything but an insult; it’s an invitation.”

After Michael J. Fox announced he had Parkinson’s disease, Limbaugh claimed the actor, who generally supports Democratic causes, was exaggerating the effects of the disease. “He’s moving all around and shaking and it’s purely an act … This is really shameless … Either he didn’t take his medication or he’s acting.”

When Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown, testified before Congress in favor of mandatory insurance coverage for contraceptives, Limbaugh called her a “slut” and a “prostitute.”

During the Clinton administration, he displayed a photo of 13-year-old Chelsea and called her “a dog.” (Remember the faux outrage from Republicans when an impeachment witness merely mentioned the name of Trump’s son Barron to illustrate the limits of presidential power?)

I wonder how all of the Black and Latino guests Trump publicly praised last night felt when he gave Limbaugh this nation’s highest honor.


Finally, my favorite tweet of today so far, from The Volatile Mermaid (@OhNoSheTwitnt):

Things that offend Democrats:
– treason
– racism
– misogyny
– bragging about sexual assault
– homophobia

Things that offend Republicans:
– Tearing a piece of paper
– Speaking out about climate change
– Saying Barron Trump’s name
– Black people voting
– Rainbows


Thanks for reading. February has been the longest year of my life. Send comments and suggestions to teresa.hanafin@globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @BostonTeresa. See you tomorrow.

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Leslie Postal and Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel identified nearly 160 religious schools that receive state funding but exclude gay students.

Some refuse to enroll students whose parents are gay or hire gay staff.

Discrimination is A-OK at these schools.

This would not be a problem for Betsy DeVos, whose family has contributed to anti-gay organizations for years. It would not be a problem for the current a Supreme Court, which ruled that a baker in Colorado need not sell  a cake to a gay couple if homosexuality offends his religious beliefs.

Postal and Martin wrote:

In the shadow of a nearly 200-foot cross, Central Florida Christian Academy enrolls students who live by the Bible’s commands and abstain from “sexual immorality” — meaning gay children aren’t welcome on the state-supported campus in west Orange County.

Calvary Christian High School in Clearwater denies admission to students if they, or someone in their home, are practicing a “homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity” or “promoting such practices.”

Wade Christian School in Melbourne keeps an “expulsion list,” with a “homosexual act” among the offenses, alongside bringing weapons to campus, distributing drugs and striking a staff member.

In Florida last year, 156 private Christian schools with these types of anti-gay views educated more than 20,800 students with tuition paid for by state scholarships, an Orlando Sentinel investigation found.

Florida’s scholarship programs, often referred to as school vouchers, sent more than $129 million to these religious institutions. That means at least 14 percent of Florida’s nearly 147,000 scholarship students last year attended private schools where homosexuality was condemned or, at a minimum, unwelcome.

Step by step, the Trump administration, Red states, and the Supreme Court are denying any civil rights to gay people.

Indiana blogger Steve Hinnefeld reports here that a Democratic legislator has proposed a bill that prevents voucher schools from discriminating against students, staff, or families based on their religion, race, sexual orientation, or disability.

Bill Phillis of Ohio has proposed that religious schools that get vouchers should be subject to the same laws and regulations as public schools and should be required to report their finances and take the same state tests as other publicly funded schools.

Will legislators in Ohio and Indiana tolerate any restrictions on voucher schools?

Will they too be required to be accountable in exchange for getting public money?

Or will the public be forced to pay for schools that discriminate and schools that indoctrinate their students into their religious world-view?

 

 

During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump spoke of his commitment to protect the rights of LGBT people.

He lied.

ProPublica released a report documenting the Trump administration’s step-by-step dismantling of federal protections of LGBT persons–in the military, in public housing, in schools, in health care, and in enforcement of civil rights in the courts.