Democracy Has Prevailed.

January 26, 2023

Some Clues As To WHY Bucks County Might NEED An LGBTQ+ Safe Space

Well, there's this:

Pride symbols and “safe space” stickers once decorated many classrooms and doors in Pennridge High School. Now, they’re gone.

“It’s like being queer was erased from Pennridge,” said Silas Nathan, a transgender and pansexual junior at the school in Upper Bucks County, in a recent interview.

At the start of the school year, the district adopted a new policy that prohibits staff from engaging in “advocacy activities” on school grounds. It bans teachers from displaying materials and “advocating” to students about “religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, social, political and geo-political matters” when not “applicable to the curriculum.”

“Everything feels way less safe,” Nathan said. “They’re trying to hide us in a way… they don’t want any LGBTQ representation anywhere.” 

Yea, read the whole thing.

And then there's this

A new Pennridge School District policy limiting student access to books and educational resources related to gender identity has ignited a battle over civil rights and safety in the Bucks County community.

The conflict came into public view this week when District leaders removed at least one book about LGBTQ identities, “Heather Has Two Mommies,” from all district elementary school libraries and sent an email notifying school officials that all books about gender identity should be removed from the shelves. 

 A few paragraphs later there's this:

Dr. Cheri Derr, director of pupil services for Pennridge, also sent new guidelines for school guidance counselors, social workers, and nurses on Dec. 15.

The new instructions discuss policies relating to LGBTQ issues, student pregnancies, and mental health, including directions for elementary school faculty to not  “discuss or use terms related to LGBTQ.”

And then finally there's this. After noting that the book bans were tied to recent updates in school board policy, WHYY points out:

Recent updates to the policy were reviewed by a conservative Christian law firm, Independence Law Center, as first reported by the Bucks County Courier Times. The Independence Law Center is the legal arm of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which is a statewide branch of the national organization Family Research Council, an anti-LGBTQ Christian nationalist group designated as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

And a few paragraphs later there's this:

Rich Ting, an attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania said that, based on the policy, Superintendent Abe Lucabaugh “has unilateral power to just remove a book,” and the regulations were designed to allow the board majority “to control whatever content they want to get out.”  

Followed a few paragraphs later by this:

The ACLU’s Ting said the list of challenged books “just confirms that the purpose of the policy was to target LGBTQ content.” 

So there may well be some very good reasons why Bucks County needs a "safe space" for it's LGBTQ+ youth. 

Ya think?




January 25, 2023

St Sen. Steve Santarsiero Responds To St Sen Mastriano!

Yea, this is continuing the story from yesterday's blog post.

While my "NO SHAKESPEARE FOR YOU" (with its Seinfeldian echoes) was a humorous take on a very serious issue, St Sen Steve Santarsiero responded to Sen Mastriano's anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry with great humanity.

His response can be found here in the Bucks County Herald.

He starts:

After receiving the gentleman from Franklin County’s memo late yesterday regarding “drag events,” I felt compelled to respond.

While I disagree with the gentleman’s proposal as a matter of policy, I take particular exception to his distorted characterization of the Rainbow Room’s Queer Prom, a dance specifically arranged for LGBTQ+ youth in Bucks County.

And explains what The Rainbow Room means:

The Rainbow Room, which Planned Parenthood established over 20 years ago to be a safe place for LGBTQ+ youth to come together and build self-esteem, first held the prom in February 2020.  


Many of these students do not feel accepted by their peers. Indeed, the Central Bucks School District, where many of these students attend school, is presently led by a board majority that has created an educational environment that is openly hostile to LBGTQ+ youth. So, having an organization like the Rainbow Room and an event like the Queer Prom can very literally save the lives of kids who otherwise experience feelings of depression and isolation.

 And so:

With this background, I hope you can appreciate why I was saddened and indeed angered when I read the gentleman’s co-sponsorship memo, which described the 2022 prom as “a sexually charged [sic] drag show.” I can only assume that this distortion, written by someone who was not present, is based on the fact that one student and one recent alum of the Rainbow Room dressed in drag and danced at the request of the prom committee. That can hardly be grounds for describing the hours-long prom as a “drag show.”

Not that the facts matter to Doug's slice of the MAGA crowd.

Will Sen Mastriano be correcting his factual error anytime soon?

Yea, silly question.

I'll let Sen Santarsiero have the last word. After pointing out that he'd received hate mail as a response to Doug's memo, he writes:

While no one likes ad hominem attacks, I have long ago learned that they are a sad part of public life in this era. But no LGBTQ+ child in this country should have to live with the hate that has been unleashed here. I only hope that as members of our State Senate, we can rise above ignorance and remember that we have a special obligation to stand up for the most vulnerable members of our society. [Emphasis added.]

January 24, 2023

St Sen Doug Mastriano on LGBT+ Youth: NO SHAKESPEARE FOR YOU!!!

When I wore a younger man's clothes, I remember hearing this:

When you ban something, you also ban the thing right next to it.

With that in mind, take a look at this:

This is how Doug defines "drag performance"

A drag performance is one where a performer "exhibits" gender identity that is not of the performer's birth origin and includes the use of clothing, makeup, or accessories to further embellish the gender identity of the performer's opposite sex.

In his next tweet, Caruso points out: 

Such a law would ban minors from drag shows; require they only be held on premises with specific lighting and layout requirements; and that the AG, DA, or a municipal solicitor could ask for a court to shutdown a show if in violation of any provision.

Huh. So I guess Shakespeare is out. Twelfth Night, specifically:

On the seventeenth century stage, with female roles taken by boys, the play was even more giddily fluid in its gender dynamics: Viola is in fact a boy playing a girl playing a boy for most of the play, indistinguishable from a boy playing a boy (Sebastian) and surrounded by boys playing women (Olivia and Maria) as well as men playing men. In Twelfth Night gender really is what a person makes of it, no matter the story beneath the petticoat or hose.

No Shakespeare for kids. Especially not since William Shakespeare wrote this for a man:

A woman's face with nature's own hand painted,
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;

Oh, the horror! The HORROR!

But I also wanted to take a closer look at Doug's memo. This part, in fact:

In October 2022, a sexually charged drag show for audience members as young as 13 was performed at the Rainbow Room in Bucks County and sponsored by local and state officials.
So what is this "Rainbow Room" in Bucks County?

This is:

The Rainbow Room is an LGBTQIA youth program that provides a supportive and empowering environment for youth ages 14-21. Weekly meetings are a free and confidential place where you can learn, build support networks, and have fun. 
And where is this room?

A program of Planned Parenthood Keystone, located at Salem United Church of Christ.

It's a program that provides a safe space for LGBT+ youth and its run out of a church.

Does Doug Mastriano really want to give the guv'ment the authority to restrict meetings (for whatever reason) at churches simply because the guv'ment doesn't like what's going on in there? 


January 23, 2023

Meanwhile, Outside

Some climate science from the climate scientists at NOAA:

December 2022 ranked as the eighth-warmest December in NOAA's 143-year record. The December global surface temperature was 1.44°F (0.80°C) above the 20th-century average of 54.0°F (12.2°C). December 2022 marked the 46th consecutive December and the 456th consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th-century average.

And of course, the visuals:

That was for the month of December, 2022.

NOAA also has a report out for the the entire 2022:

The year 2022 was the sixth warmest year since global records began in 1880 at 0.86°C (1.55°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F). This value is 0.13°C (0.23°F) less than the record set in 2016 and it is only 0.02°C (0.04°F) higher than the last year's (2021) value, which now ranks as the seventh highest. The 10 warmest years in the 143-year record have all occurred since 2010, with the last nine years (2014–2022) ranking as the nine warmest years on record. Of note, the year 2005, which was the first year to set a new global temperature record in the 21st century, currently ties with 2013 as the 11th-warmest year on record. The year 2010, which had surpassed 2005 at the time, now ranks as the 10th-warmest year on record.

And now the chart for 2022:

Hey, you remember when local Pennsylvania right-wing nutjob Wendy Bell tried to use a snippet of the data (like the last decade or so) to show it's all a hoax?

That was only last week.

Meanwhile, it's getting warmer out there - no matter what Wendy Bell says.

January 20, 2023

Doug Mastriano Is Lying About Gov. Wolf And Covid. Again.

We're going wa-a-a-ay back to July of 2022.

This was well before St Sen Doug Mastriano lost the Pennsylvania Governor race by nearly 800,000 votes to the just inaugurated Josh Shapiro

On July 5 of 2022, Mark Levy, of the AP, published this:

Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania’s Republican nominee for governor, has made a campaign staple out of the allegation that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s policy of readmitting COVID-19 patients from hospitals to nursing homes caused thousands of deaths — a baseless claim for which no investigator or researcher has provided any evidence.

In fact, layers of inspections by researchers have pointed to entirely something different — nursing home employees ushering in the virus every day — while investigators found administrators flouting staffing requirements or infection-control procedures.

Further, no Pennsylvania nursing home has leveled any such claim like Mastriano’s, and a national nursing home trade association has agreed with the findings of researchers who say the spread of the virus in nursing homes directly correlated to community spread.

And this is what the researchers showed:

In the past two years, new research has piled up on how COVID-19 penetrated nursing homes.

The virus was largely introduced by asymptomatic workers in areas where the virus was heavily transmitted, researchers say. [Emphasis added.]

 And yet, this is what Doug published only yesterday:

On March 18, 2020, the Wolf administration issued the now famous directive to long-term care facilities to accept COVID-positive residents after release from hospitals. The ensuing fallout from the March 18 directive was predictable and tragic. This exposed our commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents to severe illness and death. By May, cases of the virus in nursing homes spread like wildfire. Roughly two-thirds of COVID deaths then were residents of long-term care facilities. In several counties, 100% of all COVID deaths at the time were in these very facilities.

So since the spread in nursing homes was traced back to the "asymptomatic workers" bringing the virus into the facilities - and not the returning patients - all of Doug's argument about Wolf's directive is, um, irrelevant, right?

And since it's been months since the AP article it's exceedingly fair to say that Doug is lying about COVID.



January 19, 2023

St Sen Doug Mastriano - Skipped Town To Avoid Winner's Inauguration Speech

From WESA:

Josh Shapiro was sworn in as governor on Tuesday before a crowd that included both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. Notably absent was the man he defeated for the job: State Sen. Doug Mastriano.

Mastriano, who lost the 2022 election for governor by about 800,000 votes, took a personal day.

Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman announced Mastriano’s absence on the Senate floor. Mastriano was the only Senator who did not show up Tuesday.

While there's no legal expectation for a 790,000 vote loser to attend the inauguration of the candidate who won (by 790,000 votes), WESA quotes a GOP strategist who said:

“The difference here is that he is still a sitting member of the legislature. We haven’t had a situation like this,” Chen said. “And without further information, the seeming gist is that he may have missed votes because he didn’t want to be in Harrisburg the day that Josh Shapiro’s inaugurated. And that would just come off a little bit petty.”

So while there's nothing binding that says that Doug had to have been in Harrisburg that day (a patriot and someone who respects the process would've showed) Doug missed votes because he was a sore loser?  

Aw, Doug. How petty.

OTOH, perhaps it was a good thing (for Doug's fragile ego, at least) for him to skip Gov. Shapiro's inauguration speech.

Had be been there he would have heard Gov Shapiro speeching this:

Governor Wolf has led our Commonwealth and our residents through some of the most challenging times in our history — and he has done so with integrity, acumen, and an unwavering commitment to service.

Governor Wolf expanded health care to nearly 1 million Pennsylvanians, invested record amounts in our public schools, and modernized state government.

Thanks to his leadership we now find ourselves in the strongest financial shape in the history of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, allowing us to make critical investments for tomorrow.

And this:

Because ultimately, in a functioning democracy, it’s your voices that should be heard in the halls of government.

The voices of people like Danielle, who has bravely told us her own story about her decision to have an abortion to save her life and who I’m honored to have on this stage with me today.

The voice of the grandma in Lawrence County who I met over 15 months ago in the first week of our campaign. She came up to me, grabbed me by my lapels, pulled me close, and in that stern voice that only comes from a grandma, looked me in the eye and said do not let us go back to what it was like before Roe.

And thanks to so many of you, we won’t.

And then finally this:

This work is more important now than ever, because over the last several years, we have been reminded of the fragility of our democracy. How we have to keep working at it, keep fighting to protect it.

Here in Pennsylvania, we didn’t allow the extremists who peddle lies drown out the truth. We showed that our system works and that our elections are free and fair, safe and secure.

Yea, I'm sure Snowflake Doug would not have been comfortable to hear any of that. Those had to sting.

But that wasn't the shadiest of the shade Shapiro threw. No, no, no.

This is:

From God’s Country to Gettysburg, I heard you when you said you want good schools for our kids, safe communities, and an economy that gives people a shot and lifts them up.

You also sent a clear message — Democrats, Republicans and Independents – when you came together to resoundingly reject extremism.

Together, hope defeated fear.

Um,  Gov Shapiro had to know that ├╝ber-Christian Doug Mastriano's legislative district includes (now wait for it) Gettysburg, right?


January 17, 2023

Wendy Bell, Science Denier


Yesterday, St Sen Mastriano was peddling anti-vaccine BS (usually Wendy Bell's milieu) and now Wendy Bell is spreading climate science denial. What's the world coming to when you can't count on your favorite wingnuts to stay in their own wingnutty lanes?

Take a look:

Wendy is quoting from Steven Milloy, a well known Climate Science denier. So yea let's drop a few good facts into this discussion.

This is the image that Milloy is using as proof:

If you look up in the upper right hand corner, you'll see this:

So he's limiting his analysis to the last 7-8 years or so. Red flag right there. So easy to spot, too!

My guess is that he generated this image here - where you can load in the starting and ending points for the data.

For example, if I were to, say, go all the way back a century, this is what the graph would look like:


By limiting the data to the last few years, Milloy is committing what's known as a "lie by omission." He's not giving the full range of facts and so his audience will come away with an inaccurate picture of the truth. And by retweeting it, Wendy's participating in the lie.

Um, Wendy? Do you really want to retweet something so obviously inaccurate in an attempt to convince your audience that something that's not true is actually true?

Ha. I made a funny.

Of course she would. She's Wendy frickin' Bell, Angel of Death.