Monthly Archives: November 2013

Edward Snowden is the person of the year

White House, lawmakers: no clemency for Snowden

Associated Press image

Whistleblower and protester Edward Snowden is shown in a video grab from September in Moscow, where he had to flee in order to avoid political persecution and prosecution in the lawless United States of America. You can vote for Snowden for TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2013 by clicking here.

So TIME magazine is taking online votes for its next “Person of the Year.” You have 42 candidates to choose from (giving the candidates only a “yes” or “no” vote), knowing that TIME’s editors will make the final decision, regardless of how the online polling goes — of which I’m glad, since Miley Cyrus leads the online polling as I type this sentence. (Whether people sincerely want her or whether the votes for her are part of a campaign, as a joke, I’m not certain.)

The 42 candidates include the famous and the infamous, including (in no certain order) Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pope Francis, the Koch brothers, the Tsarnaev brothers (the brothers accused of having perpetrated the Boston Marathon bombing), Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Angelina Jolie, and, of course, Barack Obama.

(Historically, the president of the United States has been named TIME’s “Person of the Year” about once every three years on average, for fuck’s sake. With the sole exception of Gerald Ford, every U.S. president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was named “Person of the Year” three times, has been named “Person of the Year” at least once. Two-term presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama all were named “Personal of the Year” twice, so pretty much if you are the U.S. president, you’re named TIME’s “Person of the Year” at least once a term [as long as you’re not Gerald Ford…].)

TIME’s “Person of the Year” is to go to the individual who was most influential on the world stage (or at least on the American stage…), for good or for ill.

My vote for 2013’s “Person of the Year,” hands down, is for patriot Edward Snowden, who revealed to the world how much we have been spied upon illegally by the U.S. government. As I type this sentence, Snowden is the third-most popular candidate for “Person of the Year” in TIME’s online polling.

My other favorites for 2013’s “Person of the Year” include Texas pol (and, hopefully, future Texas governor) Wendy Davis (who thus far is at No. 5 in the online polling) and Edith Windsor, whose lawsuit brought about the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (“DOMA”) is unconstitutional (since it is — or was, anyway).

However, Edward Snowden has had truly global significance and influence. Indeed, the United Nations next month is to consider a resolution that states “that surveillance and data interception by governments and companies ‘may violate or abuse human rights.’”

Snowden’s “crime” is that he has embarrassed the elites who unconstitutionally and illegally have spied upon Americans and others — they have directly spied illegally or they have aided and abetted such illegal spying — but which is worse: committing the crimes in the first fucking place or exposing the crimes that others have committed?

Um, yeah: The later is called “whistleblowing,” and since 2002’s “Person[s] of the Year” were “The Whistleblowers,” and since 2011’s “Person of the Year” was “The Protester,” there certainly is precedent for Edward Snowden being named TIME’s “Person of the Year” for 2013.

P.S. Since I composed the above, I read on the Los Angeles Times’ website that “A team of hackers claims it found a way to rig the [TIME magazine “Person of the Year”] poll (users are required to vote through Twitter or Facebook),” but the Times charitably adds immediately: “But Cyrus has spent the better part of the year leading the chatter on the place that matters most these days: the Internet.”

My guess is that hackers indeed were involved in putting Cyrus at No. 1, which gives me more hope for the nation…

If hackers indeed put Cyrus at No. 1, then maybe Snowden actually is in the top two, although I would think that hackers might have the desire to help Snowden out, too…

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Warren-vs.-Walker deathmatch in 2016?

The release of this book yesterday can only fuel speculation that Repugnican Tea Party Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has presidential aspirations. While I loathe the man (who is a man only in the strict, dictionary-definition sense of the word), a presidential match-up between progressive Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and the pro-plutocratic Walker would, I surmise, be awesome.

Many if not most say that it’s way too early to start speculating about the November 2016 presidential election.

I mostly disagree with that.

Especially if you haven’t been anointed by the D.C. establishment, as, say, Republicrat Billary Clinton has been, you probably need all of the campaigning time that you can get between now and November 2016.

And if Barack Obama had delivered substantively on the “hope” and “change” that he relentlessly and ubiquitously had promised during his campaign for 2008, and if we hadn’t all given up on him already because as president he’s been so fucking lazy and worthless (at best), we (especially us progressives) probably wouldn’t already be looking past Obama and forward to 2016.

All of that said, the latest 2016 presidential speculation is that Repugnican Tea Party Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker might run for his party’s presidential nomination.

The release of Walker’s (probably ghost-written) book — Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge (reminiscent to me of the smug, pseudo-triumphant title of Mittens Romney’s No Apologies) — yesterday should only fuel speculation that he’ll be a 2016 contender.

(Walker reportedly says that “his new book … is not a campaign book [right…] but that he’s not ruling out a run for president in 2016 or promising that if re-elected [as Wisconsin governor] next year he’ll serve out his term.”

Walker also reportedly stated recently that the 2016 Repugnican Tea Party presidential nominee must “be an outsider,” adding, “I think both the presidential and the vice presidential nominee should either be a former or current governor — people who have done successful things in their states, who have taken on big reforms, who are ready to move America forward.”

Walker just coinky-dinkily, in his mind, anyway, matches that description.

So there you go.)

Could Walker win the White House?

My guess is that no, he could not, but the fact that Walker was elected governor in 2010 and survived a gubernatorial recall election in June 2012 in a state whose denizens cast the most number of votes for the Democratic presidential candidate in every election since at least 1988 suggests, at least on the face of it, that the smug, heartless, union-busting, Koch-brother-loving/pro-plutocratic Walker might be a stronger 2016 contender than many if not most realize.

I can’t really see Walker doing well in the national forum, as I don’t detect a milligram of charisma in him, but he is a masterful liar, doing the bidding of the billionaires who fund him while pretending that he does everything in the best interests of the commoner.

That is, of course, how the “tea party” operates: excuse the “hard-working” billionaires who have been dismantling the middle class for some decades now — and blame and punish instead the working class and what’s left of the middle class for all of our socioeconomic ills.

Pathetically, that shit actually sells, especially among right-wing and right-leaning stupid (by definition) white men, the Joe the Plumber types, and other similar types (most of them, though, poor, white trash) who think that it’s a great idea for the chickens to support Colonel Sanders, and who apparently are too fucking stupid to realize the simple, basic, obvious fact that they, too, are chickens.

A Elizabeth-Warren-vs.-Scott-Walker 2016 presidential contest would be, to say the least, interesting.

It would be a battle by proxy between us progressives and the “tea-party” dipshits, a battle between us progressives, who fully realize that it’s the Wall Street weasels and other assorted plutocrats and their supporters (like Scott Walker) who have been destroying the nation (many of us found a voice in the Occupy movement), and the teatards, who are too fucking stupid to realize that we of the working class and the middle class are not actually the enemy, but are the victims of our plutocratic overlords.

Such a battle would have my full engagement.

If the uniquely uninspiring and uncharismatic and waaay-overrated Billary Clinton actually got the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, however, you pretty much could count me out.

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Billary’s ‘inevitability’ is not inevitable

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	U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responds forcefully to intense questioniing on the September attacks on U.S. diplomatic sites in Benghazi, Libya, during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington January 23, 2013.  

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Reuters photos

Billary Clinton appears to be going through the last four of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief as she answers the Repugnican Tea Party traitors’ bullshit charges on Benghazi in Washington, D.C., in January — charges that the traitors (including Mittens Romney) couldn’t make stick to President Barack Obama but sure the fuck are trying to make stick to Billary, even though war criminals George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, et. al. remain free. I, for one, don’t want to hear even more Benghazi bullshit for months and months to come, and would much rather see another, actually progressive Democrat win the party’s 2016 presidential nomination, male or female. (Go, Elizabeth Warren!) I reject Billary’s “inevitability,” and I hope that she has to go through Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief where the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination is concerned.

Too many people were bored over the long holiday weekend, because the “buzz” was over Billary Clinton: Will Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren run in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary?

A writer for the New Republic says yes (or, at least, says probably); the smug, center-right political columnist for Slate.com David Weigel, in response, among other things has proclaimed that “The professional left [an apparent insult, since progressives, myself included, were quite insulted when a mouthpiece of the Obama regime dismissively referred to us as “the professional left,” when the more correct term for us would be “the Democratic Party’s base”] doesn’t know how to win” and asks (rhetorically?) of “the professional left”: “if the Obama experience hasn’t taught them that a dreamy presidential candidate won’t bring about paradise, what will?”

Weigel could have summarized his inevitability-of-Billary screed in two words: Surrender, Dorothy!

It’s fun to pick on “the professional left,” I’m sure. And it’s fun to knock down an argument that your (presumed) opponent never even fucking made. I mean, I know of no progressive who ever has described Elizabeth Warren as a “dreamy” candidate who will usher in “paradise.”

I do believe, in fact, that “the Obama experience” has taught us progressives an important lesson. (If nothing else, Obama has utterly ruined the words “hope” and “change” for all Democratic campaigns to come.) But Weigel, who apparently doesn’t actually associate with any of the progressives whom he so smugly disdains, wouldn’t know that; if he knew that, he wouldn’t need to ask, rhetorically or not.

Weigel’s assertion — not to pick only on Weigel, although he can be a real asshole — essentially seems to be that because “Billary Clinton is more popular than ever,” we might as well just skip the 2016 Democratic primary season and declare her the victor already.

I remember when the Deaniacs were basically, sometimes even literally, saying the same thing about Howard Dean during the 2004 presidential election cycle. Even progressive columnist and political cartoonist Ted Rall, with whom I agree more than 90 percent of the time, once actually wrote a column suggesting that states save money by skipping the caucuses and primaries altogether, since Howard Dean undoubtedly was going to win the nomination anyway.

Of course, when people actually voted in the primaries and attended the caucuses that Rall had recommended be scrapped, it turned out very differently: The candidate whom I’d supported all along, John Kerry, like Lazarus, arose from the dead and got the nomination. (Kerry, admittedly, has been a shitty, or at least a disappointing, secretary of state, but I still believe that he did much better against George W. Bush in 2004 than Howard Dean would have done had he won the nomination.)

So I reject similar assertions of Billary Clinton’s inevitability. Will she run for president again in 2016? Very most likely, as she is widely seen, as Mittens Romney apparently was seen in 2012, as her party’s heir apparent for 2016.

But is her primary-season win inevitable?

No. No more so than was Howard Dean’s.

Sure, polls right now show Billary as the undisputed leader for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, but doesn’t the fact that the likes of David Weigel basically are telling Americans that Billary Is Inevitable lead a great number of them to believe that Billary is their only real choice?

Elizabeth Warren shows in the top three in the 2016 Democratic presidential field in the latest polling, which suggests to me that she has a real shot.

I’d support Elizabeth Warren or another actually progressive Democratic candidate (female or male) hands down over Billary. I’m fine with a woman as our next president; I’m not fine with that woman being the center-right Billary Clinton.

I require more than the mere possession of the XX chromosomes in a presidential candidate. I wouldn’t want Sarah Palin to be president (or even vice president), either.

Ted Rall, in his forthcoming column on Billary Clinton and how she never should be president, among other things, notes:

… Hillary’s admirers have conflated her impressive list of jobs with actually having gotten things done. When you scratch the surface, however, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the woman has done little more than warm a series of comfy leather desk chairs. How has this career politician changed Americans’ lives? Not in the least.

No doubt, Hillary knows her way around the corridors of power: first lady, senator from New York, presidential candidate, secretary of state. Nice resume, but what did she do with all her jobs? Not much. …

Rall reminds us of Billary’s years in the U.S. Senate:

… After sleazing her way into the Capitol as an out-of-state carpetbagger — New Yorkers still remember — Senator Clinton wiled away the early 2000s as a slacker senator. This, remember, was while Bush was pushing through his radical right agenda: the Patriot Act, wars, coups, drones, torture, renditions and so on.

While Bush was running roughshod, Hillary was meek and acquiescent. …

[Update: Rall’s full column is here.]

Indeed, Obama also accomplished little to nothing during his (four) years in the U.S. Senate. Indeed, perhaps progressives have learned that you look beyond a candidate’s campaign rhetoric and instead look at that candidate’s record, and Billary’s record of accomplishment is no more impressive than was Obama’s when he won the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

“Since 2009 we’ve seen what happens when we elect a president with charisma but minus a resume,” Rall notes. But Billary doesn’t even have the charisma.

And, as Rall notes, “At least with Obama, 2008 voters saw potential. Hillary has had 20 years to shine. If she hasn’t gotten anything accomplished in all that time, with all that power, why should we think she’ll make a great president?”

Yup.

Elizabeth Warren at least has consistently stood up to Wall Street — Warren at least shows potential — while the Clinton machine has made Wall Street its engine.

Would Warren use the hopey-changey bait and switch that Obama did? I doubt it. It wouldn’t be impossible, but I find it unlikely. And it would be difficult to find a lazier president than Obama has been. Recall that when he had both houses of Congress in his party’s control in 2009 and in 2010, he squandered his political capital, something that even the fucktarded George W. Bush never did.

In his column, Rall also correctly points out that although “A woman president is two centuries overdue,” by having ridden her husband’s coattails, Billary is “a terrible role model for women,” and that Billary royally fucked up in October 2002 when, in “the most important vote of her life,” as a U.S. senator she voted to allow the unelected Bush regime to launch its Vietraq War.

While I don’t know that I agree with Rall’s assertion that Billary lost to Obama in 2008 “primarily due to that vote,” it was a significant factor. (The charisma factor was larger, though, I surmise.) I, for one, still hold it against my U.S. senator, the nauseating DINO Dianne Feinstein, for having voted for the Vietraq War in October 2002 (the traitor nonetheless keeps getting re-elected here in California, though; that she’s a millionaire helps, I guess), and I still like my other, for-the-most-part-actually Democratic U.S. senator, Barbara Boxer, in no small part because she voted against it.

But John Kerry also had stupidly voted for the Vietraq War in October 2002 yet still won the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination.

True, the Vietraq War still raged then, and we didn’t have the hindsight on it that we did when Billary ran in 2008, but here in the United States of Amnesia, I can’t see her vote for the Vietraq War hurting Billary much in a 2016 campaign.

Still, though, her vote for the Vietraq War demonstrates that if she isn’t a self-serving coward who will do what’s politically expedient over what is right, she exhibited, in Rall’s words, breathtakingly “poor political calculus,” which makes her “kind of dumb.” (“Kind of” is generous.)

I’ll offer yet another, perhaps selfish reason to reject the “inevitability” of Billary Clinton: I really, really, really don’t want to keep hearing, for months on end, about Benghazi from the very same right-wing traitors who have had no problem whatsofuckingever with the pointless deaths of more than 4,000 of our troops in the unelected Bush regime’s illegal, immoral, unprovoked, unjust and thus bogus — and thus treasonous — Vietraq War, but who claim to care sooo much about four Americans who died in the Middle East last year.

But then again, perhaps with the Repugnican Tea Party traitors so fucking focused on trying to take down Billary with the Benghazi bullshit, they wouldn’t see someone like Elizabeth Warren coming…

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‘12 Years a Slave’ is a grueling antidote to the comparatively toothless ‘Lincoln’

Film review

Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is “counseled” at knife point by cotton-plantation owner Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender) in director Steve McQueen’s grueling film “12 Years a Slave.”

I finally got around to watching “12 Years a Slave,” and while it perhaps has been a little over-hyped — I hate it when a good film is diminished because it can’t possibly be as great as so many claim that it is — it’s going to win a bunch of Oscars, and I consider it to be an antidote to Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” of which I noted at the time that it came out (a year ago) that “the evil of slavery itself is barely portrayed in ‘Lincoln’ … and blacks are only supporting (and mostly subservient) characters in ‘Lincoln,’ which gives the viewer … the unfortunate impression that perhaps the film is asserting that slavery was more of a burden for liberal whites than it was for the actual slaves.”

Indeed, in “12 Years a Slave” the “saviors” still are white men, but, given the fact that at the time white men held virtually all of the political power, what other “savior” could a black person have had at that time? The best that most black Americans, especially enslaved black Americans, could hope for at that time, it seems to me, was to have the fortune to have the mercy of white men who had power to make their lives less miserable.*

Indeed, in “12 Years a Slave” we see at least two grown black men run to their white-male protectors and embrace them as a child would embrace his parent. But, given the circumstances, one could hardly blame them.

I wrote of “Lincoln” that “The Southerners (and their sympathizers) in ‘Lincoln’ aren’t portrayed flatteringly, which probably will mean that the film won’t appeal to the ‘tea-party’ dipshits, since the slavery- and treason-loving Southerners depicted in ‘Lincoln’ are their true founding fathers.”

Ditto for “12 Years a Slave” (and Quentin Tarantino’s “Django,” too, of course).

Michael Fassbender and Paul Dano couldn’t have done a much better job of portraying what probably was the typical Southern white male of the era, and Brad Pitt, perhaps because he was one of the producers, got what to me is the plum role of the liberal, abolitionist Canadian whose action finally frees our hero.

Our hero, of course, is the real-life historical figure Solomon Northup, who in 1841 was a free man (well, “free” as in “not a slave,” “not someone’s property”) who was lured from his home in New York state to Washington, D.C., where he was promised well-paying work but instead was kidnapped and forced into slavery in Louisiana for a dozen years.

And the star of “12 Years a Slave” is Chiwetel Ejiofor, who no doubt will be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his harrowing portrayal of Solomon Northup.

The other star of “12 Years” is Lupita Nyong’o, who plays the slave Patsey, and who also very most likely will be nominated for an acting Oscar.

“12 Years a Slave,” based upon Northup’s autobiography of the same name and penned by American screenwriter John Ridley, is, first and foremost, the story of the slaves, and its portrayal of their trials and tribulations by comparison makes “Lincoln” look like it portrays slavery as a mere inconvenience to black Americans.

“12 Years,” among other things, portrays free blacks in the North being abducted and sold into slavery, slaves stripped nude and bathed for auction like livestock, a mother being separated permanently from her two children at auction, and the character of Patsey being serially raped by the cotton-plantation owner Edwin Epps (played by Fassbender) and, to add injury to injury, being hated by and thus violently attacked by the plantation owner’s wife (Sarah Paulson) because her husband is sexually predating upon her. We also witness one of our protagonists being quasi-lynched and the other one being brutally whipped.

“12 Years a Slave” does as probably a good job as a film could do to bring us into Solomon Northup’s world. You’re supposed to feel Northup’s struggle and large degree of helplessness, given how utterly disempowered he is. His spirit not only is violated repeatedly by the wrongs that are done to him, but also by the multitude of wrongs that he has to witness done to others, probably especially to Patsey.

“12 Years a Slave” is directed by Steve McQueen, a writer-director who, I surmise, because he is black and British, wasn’t overly worried about not offending white Americans in his portrayal of Southern slavery. (Of course, Quentin Tarantino wasn’t worried about that, either, with “Django,” but bad boy Tarantino can make just about any film that he wishes. Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” by contrast, suffers because the “upright” and apparently uptight Spielberg apparently didn’t want to offend white Americans too much.)

I wasn’t impressed with McQueen’s over-hyped 2011 “Shame,” which also starred Michael Fassbender, but after “12 Years,” which draws you into Solomon Northup’s grueling world so well that when he finally is reunited with his family you will, if you have any empathy at all, have tears in your eyes, I look forward to more projects by McQueen, and after having watched “12 Years” I’ll probably catch McQueen’s other project starring Fassbender, 2008’s “Hunger.”

My grade: A

*Indeed, we are told at the end of “12 Years a Slave,” as Wikipedia puts it:

Northup sued the slave traders in Washington, D.C., [who had kidnapped him and sold him into slavery], but [Northup] lost in the local court. District of Columbia law prohibited him, as a black man, from testifying against whites, and, without his testimony, he was unable to sue for civil damages. The two men were charged with the crime of kidnapping and remanded into custody on $5,000 bail, but without Northup’s testimony, a conviction could not be secured and [so] the men were released.

So, even in the North, which in Northup’s day was quite progressive compared to the South, Northup, as a “free” man, because he was a black man, did not have equal rights, and white men still could commit grievous crimes against black Americans with impunity.

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Haters’ minds are in the toilet, as usual

Updated below (on Saturday, November 9, 2013) 

This is what it’s about — not about horny heterosexual boys trying to get at the heterosexual girls in the girls’ bathrooms, as the wingnuts blatantly are lying about a California law that protects transgender public-school students. But even that said, the law is about a lot more than the bathroom, anyway.

In July, the California state Legislature passed a piece of legislation titled AB (Assembly Bill) 1266, which California Gov. Jerry Brown signed on August 12.

AB 1266, which is not long, can be read in its entirety here.

AB does at least a few things where the biological sex and the gender identification of public-school students are concerned.

To me, perhaps the biggest substantive change that the new law makes is that it mandates that “A school district may not require a pupil of one sex to enroll in a particular class or course, unless the same class or course is also required of a pupil of the opposite sex.”

If I understand English correctly, that means that public schools in California may not have sex-segregated and sex-specific courses. When I was in junior high school (in Arizona), for instance, all seventh-grade male students were required to take shop, but no female students ever were required to take shop, and all seventh-grade female students were required to take home economics, but no male students ever were required to take home ec.

At my junior high school, which was comprised only of seventh- and eighth-graders, eighth-graders could take shop or home ec, regardless of their sex. Seventh-graders, though, had no choice, but were funneled into shop or into home ec solely based upon their sex.

Under AB 1266, in California, such sex-segregated class requirements — boys must take shop and girls must take home ec — are no longer allowed (again, if I understand English correctly).

AB 1266 also proclaims that “Any school personnel acting in a career counseling or course selection capacity to a pupil shall affirmatively explore with the pupil the possibility of careers, or courses leading to careers, that are nontraditional for that pupil’s sex.”

I remember the principal of my junior high school summoning a bunch of us seventh-grade boys into his office after we’d signed up to take home economics the next year. We’d already taken our required one year of shop,  and, not wanting to take a second year of shop in eighth grade, we signed up to take home economics instead.

I remember the principal trying to talk us out of taking home ec. A few of us boys caved in to his pressure, but most of us (including myself) took home ec anyway. (I am gay, but most of the other boys who also decided to take home ec instead of another year of shop were not, to my knowledge, also gay.)

I don’t remember the principal’s exact “argument” (this was in the early 1980s…), but, in retrospect, my guess is that it was his personal belief that boys shouldn’t take home ec, and so he was going to try to dissuade us from doing so. (No, taking home ec did not “make” me gay. That was a pre-existing condition, so to speak.)

Had AB 1266 been the law of Arizona at that time, it would have been illegal for the principal to try to dissuade me and the other boys from taking home ec; he wouldn’t legally have been able to try to shove his own backasswards gender-role biases down our throats. (And had AB 1266 been the law of Arizona at the time, of course, I wouldn’t have been forced to take shop, which I hated, unless the girls were forced to take it, too.)

So I’m happy that today’s public-school students in California are set not to have to experience what I did, which was having backasswards/conservative/wingnutty gender roles shoved down my fucking throat.

I write “are set” because AB 1266 is set to go into effect on January 1, 2014.

But not if the haters get their way.

They’re in the middle of a campaign to gather enough petition signatures to put AB 1266 up for a “yes” or “no” vote before California’s voters in November 2014 (this process of reversing a piece of legislation at the ballot box is called a referendum).

The haters’ deadline to turn in the required number of signatures (more than half a million of them) is within less than a week. If, after their signatures are examined, they meet the signature requirement, AB 1266 will not go into effect on January 1, but will be suspended until after the voters of the state weigh in on it in November 2014, a year from now.

The intended effect of AB 1266, that I can discern, is to make public-school students feel like it’s OK to be themselves. The intended effect of AB 1266, that I can discern, is to cut down on such problems in our public schools as gender-identification-related (and sexual-orientation-related) bullying (including, of course, physical violence), ostracism, depression, drop-outs, and yes, suicide. It’s to help make every public-school student feel safe to be who he or she is, regardless of whether he or she possesses the XY or XX chromosomes and regardless of whether he or she identifies with the gender associated with his or her chromosomes.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

In that same spirit, it does no one any injury for his or her peer to identify as a male or as a female, regardless of whether his or her peer possesses the XY or XX chromosomes. (There are some rare variants of the XY or XX chromosomal set-up, but let’s please keep this simple…) It neither picks anyone’s pocket nor breaks anyone’s leg, so to speak. (Ditto for same-sex marriage, of course.)

But this is the portion of AB 1266, the very last sentence of AB 1266, that the wingnuts have focused upon like a hate-and-ignorance-filled laser: “A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.” (Emphasis mine.)

The wording is, admittedly, vague. “Facilities” can encompass a lot. Presumably, “facilities” includes restrooms and locker rooms.

However, sexual activity isn’t supposed to be going on inside of school or public restrooms and locker rooms anyway.

You’re not supposed to be exposing yourself to others in restrooms. The last time that some male apparently exposed himself to me (he proudly displayed his erection to me, to which I did not outwardly react at all) in a men’s restroom was many years ago, and he did it at a urinal, so that he could have plausible deniability, apparently. My point is that other males just aren’t showing me their junk in men’s restrooms (whether I’d want them to or not), and I assume that in women’s restrooms, too, women aren’t exposing themselves to each other.

So I don’t understand how it hurts anyone should a transgender student use the restroom of the gender the student identifies with. I can, however, see a problem with, say, forcing a male-to-female transgender student to use a restroom that is restricted for use only by biological males. Maybe this student will avoid using the boys’ restroom like the plague in order to avoid being beaten up.

I can see that because, unlike the wingnuts, I possess a degree of fucking empathy.

Communal (versus individual) showers in public schools are, in my opinion, a bad idea (the film versions of “Carrie” aside) — we should afford our students their privacy, just as we adults want our privacy — and so that shouldn’t be an issue anyway, but, on that note, let me say that I recall, in junior-high-school P.E., being rather aroused by my naked male classmates, with whom I was forced to take communal showers. (Luckily, I never got an erection, if memory serves. [Yeah, that’s something that I think that I’d remember, given the homophobia of that time and place…])

The wingtards who falsely paint AB 1266 as allowing horny (straight) boys to take showers with girls and to use their restrooms overlook the fact that gay male students and lesbian students routinely take showers with and share restrooms with members of the sex to which they are attracted. Indeed, non-heterosexual students don’t have the option of showering with or using the restroom of the sex to which they are not attracted. And this has been the case forever. Duh.

AB 1266, if it stands — if it is not overturned by the voters (who tend to be significantly more trans-phobic than homophobic) — does have details to be worked out. For instance, what would be the criteria for a public school to have to acknowledge that a student is transgender? Would the student have to dress as and act as the gender the student claims? Or would the student’s word be enough? Would a psychological evaluation have to be done to determine that yes, indeed, this student is transgender?

And, of course, how would post-P.E. showers be worked out in schools that for some reason still have communal showers?

But these details are worth working out, because no student should experience discrimination that makes his or her getting a decent education difficult to even impossible.

AB 1266 is about much, much more than (presumably straight, horny) boys using the girls’ bathrooms (for sexual kicks), but, just as the wingnuts lie through their venom-filled fangs about same-sex marriage, which neither picks anyone’s pocket nor breaks anyone’s leg, the wingnuts lie about AB 1266.

Wingnut Randy Thomasson, for instance, of the Campaign for Children and Families (which sure sounds nice, like the Campaign for Puppies and Kittens), proclaims, on his hate group’s website (yes, the Southern Poverty Law Center says that Thomasson’s organization is a hate group), SaveCalifornia.com:

If you’re like me, you’re angry about the Democrats’ new law requiring transsexual school bathrooms on every public school campus.

As you know, AB 1266 — cobbled together by homosexual-bisexual-transsexual activists, the immoral teachers’ unions, and their Democrat [sic] state representatives, who control California state government — forces all K-12 government schools to permit biological boys into girls’ restrooms, showers, clubs, and sports teams, and biological girls into boys’ restrooms, showers, clubs, and sports teams. …

That is, of course, a wildly gross exaggeration of AB 1266’s actual intent, “to permit biological boys into girls’ restrooms, showers,” etc., and to permit “biological girls into boys’ restrooms, showers,” etc.

Thomasson’s manipulative, lying rhetoric Orwellianly doesn’t even allow you to consider the fact, the reality, that there are biological females who consider themselves to be males and vice-versa. No, the “Democrat” Party, you see, just wants to turn our public schools into sex orgies! After all, we all know how “immoral” those teachers’ unions are!

Yes, this is hate speech. This is language that, as the Southern Poverty Law Center correctly states, increases the likelihood of hate crimes being directed at a certain group (in this case, non-gender-conforming individuals [and non-heterosexuals, too]).

I hope that the haters don’t get enough valid signatures on their hateful referendum. If they do, just as was the case with Proposition Hate (which Thomasson supported also, of course), at the minimum, millions of dollars will be blown on the ballot-measure campaigning.

And while I’d love to think that a majority of California’s voters would uphold AB 1266 if it went to the November 2014 ballot, as I have noted, the typical American these days unfortunately is more accepting of a gender-conforming non-heterosexual than he or she is of a non-gender-conforming individual, especially a transgender individual.

“Gay is the new black,” left-wing radio show host Randi Rhodes was saying almost a decade ago, when George W. Bush used same-sex marriage as a huge wedge issue in his 2004 “re”-election campaign (even though his campaign manager at that time, Ken Mehlman, is gay [Mehlman, whose treason I will never forgive, came out in 2010]).

We’ve come a considerable way on equality for gay men and lesbians since then. Illinois just this week became the 15th state (in addition to the District of Columbia and some other jurisdictions within states) to legalize same-sex marriage, and ding, dong, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) is dead, and so is the euphemistically named “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA).

But in most jurisdictions of the United States it’s still wide-open season on transgender individuals, and AB 1266 is a step toward the realization of actual liberty and actual justice for all — an idea and an ideal that the wingnutty, treasonous haters always have hated.

Update (Saturday, November 9, 2013):

In case you doubt anything that I wrote, above know that yesterday, in front of a local store, I saw a stupid white man, a “tea-party”-looking type, collecting anti-AB 1266 petition signatures. His hand-drawn sign, which he’d affixed to his table, called for “no co-ed bathrooms,” which is not, of course, the heart and soul of AB 1266, and hilariously, he also had written on his sign, “boys in boys and girls in girls,” which sure looked like an advocacy of homosexuality to me, but which meant “boys in boys’ bathrooms and girls in girls’ bathrooms.” (These are the same fucktards, of course, who didn’t know what “teabagging” means…)

Anyway, this asshole, of course, was totally misrepresenting AB 1266, and so when he shouted to me and my same-sex partner as we passed by his table, “All you have to do is sign [the petition]!”, I remarked to him, “I have read the law. You are totally misrepresenting it.”

To this he had no response, which is not a surprise, since the use of words isn’t his strong suit. (Lying and hating are his talents.)

If you think that non-gender-conforming students don’t have any significant problems in our public schools, know that in Oakland this past week, a 16-year-old thug set fire to the skirt that an 18-year-old was wearing while the latter was riding a public bus. The 18-year-old, whose birth name is Luke Fleischman, reportedly considers him-/herself neither male nor female, but “agender” or of “nonbinary gender,” and goes by the name Sasha.

Sasha now is in a burn unit in San Francisco with second- and third-degree burns. (I would contribute to Sasha’s recovery fund, but they’ve met their goal and aren’t accepting any more donations right now.)

This shit happened right here in California, and it’s exactly this kind of shit that AB 1266 was meant to stop.

But the “tea-party” traitors and their ilk are perfectly OK with gender-conformity-related persecution, even such persecution of minors, continuing. (Because Jesus and God want it that way!)

But probably more common that such attacks as the one on Sasha are such incidents as the eighth-grader in Kansas who recently was suspended from school for carrying a purse. Reports a local news outlet:

A 13-year-old Kansas eighth grader says he was suspended from school for carrying a purse.

Skylar Davis says the Vera Bradley purse is his form of expression. He adds that girls carry purses, so he should be able to do the same. Skylar’s vice-principal disagreed and told him to stop carrying the bag.

When Skylar refused, he was suspended. His mother questions the suspension because she found no mention of bags or purses in the school handbook.  She also questions the timing since Skylar has been carrying the bag since August.

The school has not commented on the suspension.

So fuck, not only do our non-gender-conforming students have to take prejudice, discrimination and abuse from their peers, who at least perhaps can be at least partially excused for their actions because of their immaturity, but our non-gender-conforming students have to experience such treatment even from the so-called “adults” whose duty it is to foster their well-being. (This news story, by the way, leads me to believe that very little has changed in many if not most American public schools since my bigoted asshole of a principal in junior high school tried to talk me out of taking home economics.)

I hope that Skylar’s family sues the school for the suspension that was based upon prejudice, discrimination and bigotry. And the chauvinistic vice principal needs to be reprimanded at the very least, and such suspensions need to cease and desist.

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On ENDA: Haters gonna hate

Boehner pauses between answers to questions during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington

Reuters photo

Repugnican Tea Party House Speaker John Boehner, apparently pulling a Miley Cyrus in the photo above, refuses to even allow the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to come up for a vote in the House of Representatives, even though a solid majority of Americans oppose discrimination against non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming employees in the workplace.

Repugnican Tea Party House Speaker John Boehner gives a novel “reason” for his refusal to even allow the House of Representatives to vote on a federal prohibition of discrimination against non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming employees, which just passed the filibuster hurdle in the U.S. Senate, with 61 votes: “The speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” Boehner’s spokesweasel proclaimed.

So much for the kinder and gentler, more inclusive Repugnican (Tea) Party that we were going to see after November 2012, when presidential wannabe Mittens Romney went down in flames.

“Current federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race and national origin,” notes The Associated Press, adding, “But it doesn’t stop an employer from firing or refusing to hire workers because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.”

So, presumably, the Repugnican Tea Party is perfectly A-OK with an employee being fired primarily or even solely because he or she is not heterosexual or gender-conforming.

And, presumably, the Repugnican Tea Party also views the current federal prohibitions against discrimination in the workplace based upon sex, race and national origin as equally bothersome — you know, “increasing frivolous litigation and costing American jobs, especially small business jobs.”

Wow.

Of course, it’s not about jobs, which benefit the working class, what’s left of the middle class, and the poor; it’s about profiteering, which benefits only the rich.

Civil rights? Equality? Fairness? Liberty and justice for all?

Fuck that shit!

To the Mittens Romney/Richie Rich wing of the Repugnican Tea Party, all that matters is the ability of profiteers to profiteer. And to the Repugnican Tea Party traitors, an employer should be able to treat his or her employees however he or she wishes. (This is, I think — in all seriousness — a remnant from the days of slavery, in which the owners, the masters, had all of the power; the former slave states, of course, are all red states today.)

But it’s not all about profiteering. The likes of John Boehner also want to keep the “religious”-whackjob wing of the Repugnican Tea Party happy, too, and the “religious” whackjobs love to believe that God (very conveniently) hates everyone whom they hate, which includes, of course, the queers.

Yet here are 61 of our 100 U.S. senators voting that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) at least should come up for a vote in the Senate, where it is expected to come up for a vote and to pass soon.

While the Senate is more progressive than is the backasswards, Repugnican-Tea-Party-controlled House, the current Senate isn’t exactly known for being radical (except to our farthest-gone wingnuts, of course).

ENDA, in fact, doesn’t go far enough. The AP notes: “The bill would bar employers with 15 or more workers from using a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for making employment decisions, including hiring, firing, compensation or promotion. The bill would exempt religious institutions and the military.”

Fifteen employees is an awfully arbitrary number, as though it were perfectly OK to fire someone (or otherwise discriminate against him or her in his or her employment) for being non-heterosexual or non-gender-conforming if there are 14 employees, but not OK if there are 16 employees. Really?

And while perhaps I could hold my nose and accept an exemption for “religious” institutions (which are, in this case, just hate groups), I wholeheartedly disagree with a military exemption. Our tax dollars should fund discrimination? I don’t fucking think so!

A poll by the Public Religion Research Institute conducted not that long ago (in May) found that more than 70 percent of Americans favor or strongly favor laws that protect non-heterosexuals from job discrimination. (Sadly, Americans are significantly less accepting of the non-gender-conforming, especially transgender individuals, than they are of non-heterosexuals who more or less are gender-conforming.)

And Reuters notes that “Nearly 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies now extend workplace protections based on sexual orientation and more than a third on the basis of gender identity, said supporters of [ENDA] in the Senate.”

The AP similarly notes that “About 88 percent of Fortune 500 companies have adopted non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation, according to the Human Rights Campaign. About 57 percent of those companies include gender identity.”

If non-discrimination against non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming employees is so damned detrimental to profits, then why do the vast majority of the Fortune 500 companies support it?

I hope that John Boehner doesn’t give up drinking any day soon.

His incredibly shitty, short-sighted judgment, which includes, of course, his stance on ENDA, which is wildly out of step with the beliefs and the wishes of the solid majority of Americans, is only driving his pathetic, uber-dysfunctional party to extinction all that much faster.

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You SLAY me, Barack!

At a time when the “Democratic” White House administration and the “Democratic” Party believe that the Bill of Rights are negotiable, the Million Mask March comes not a day too late.

So it can come as no surprise to learn that President Barack Obama — winner of the Nobel Peace Prize — reportedly bragged that with the use of killer drones, he has become “really good at killing people.”

This news comes after I just watched Jeremy Scahill’s important documentary “Dirty Wars” on Netflix.

In the documentary, Scahill (among many other things) points out how far the United States of America has fallen that its president can act as judge, jury and executioner and order the assassination of even American citizens. Indeed, the killer drones that Obama brags so much about have snuffed out at least two U.S. citizens.*

This is, to put it mildly, not the “hope” and “change” that I voted for in November 2008.

Once we make it acceptable for the president of the United States of America to target certain U.S. citizens as “terrorists” ripe for unilateral, extrajudicial assassination, what’s to stop a president’s mere political opponents from being branded as “terrorists,” as “enemies of the state” who “must” be eliminated?

Americans’ collective deafening silence on the blatantly illegal, immoral, unethical and unconstitutional presidential (or other governmental) use of killer drones only pushes us further toward that scenario.

For his cowardly, illegal, and yes, evil, use of killer drones alone I could not cast a second vote for Barack Hussein Obama in November 2012.

Americans also haven’t made nearly enough noise about the mind-blowing abuses of the National Security Agency and other eavesdropping branches of government, who shit and piss all over the U.S. Constitution and its guarantees, especially the Fourth Amendment’s establishment of “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” which “shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The Fourth Amendment’s guarantees are not negotiable, yet both parties of our broken, insanely unrepresentative, pro-corporate duopolistic system say that the law of the land is whatever they say it is — just as they say that the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee that a U.S. citizen will not be executed without first having had a fair trial is negotiable.

(The Sixth Amendment reads: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”)

The U.S. Constitution doesn’t belong just to the “tea-party” fucktards. It belongs to all of us Americans, and its protections stem from historical gross abuses of power by those who hold such power — abuses of power that always have been foreseeable, and that thus have been proscribed in the document that is the supreme law of the land, of which no person is above.

Therefore, to point out that something or someone blatantly and unacceptably violates the U.S. Constitution doesn’t make one a crackpot. It makes one a patriot.

And one who calls him- or herself a “Democrat” yet makes excuses for such unconstitutional — and thus treasonous — actions by Barack Obama is not a patriot, but is a worthless fucking party hack, no better than the party hacks on the right who have made all kinds of excuses for the treasonous, anti-constitutional actions by the unelected Bush-Cheney regime.

Barack Obama not only is good at killing people, but he’s been great at killing his party.

After having watched Obama follow up his ubiquitous, relentless promises of “hope” and “change” only by using the U.S. Constitution as his own personal toilet paper — and after having watched the likes of right-wing millionaire “Democratic” U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein call brave, patriotic whistle-blower Edward Snowden a “traitor” when she, in fact, is the fucking Constitution-trampling traitor — I am done with the “Democratic” Party. And I’m not alone.

I hope that tomorrow’s Million Mask March goes well, and that it spawns many more public demonstrations against the treasonous elite in D.C. who long ago forgot who serves whom.

I have the feeling that it won’t be long before I am donning a mask of my own and taking it to the streets.

It’s long past time to burn it all down and start over again.

*Don’t get me wrong. It’s not only a crime only when it’s committed against a U.S. citizen. The U.S. government, as Scahill and others have pointed out, is perpetrating war crimes against people abroad on pretty much a daily basis — war crimes that guarantee that we’ll always have a fresh supply of “terrorists” so that those who treasonously profiteer from keeping us “safe” from the “terrorists” that they treasonously create will have a steady income of our tax dollars.

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