Monthly Archives: June 2015

Still waiting for the national backlash

As apparently at least one editorial cartoonist (see above) and political commentator Bill Maher have noted, this past week the Confederate flag has been lowered and the rainbow flag has been raised. (Which, as Maher quipped, must have made for a very weird week for U.S. senator and presidential Repugnican Party presidential aspirant Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, whom pretty much everyone knows is a closet case.)

It’s a cute visual — one flag going down and another going up — but it’s not quite as simple as that.

We still have a long way to go in achieving equal human and civil rights for blacks and other racial minorities in the United States of America, and the image of the rainbow flag replacing the Confederate flag could send the message that we’re done with the racial thing, and so now we can celebrate the fact that we’re done with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender thing. But we’re not done with that, either, as I have just noted.

I am happy that the Confederate flag is imploding. Don’t get me wrong. Earlier this month I wrote that the public display of the flag should be banned legally throughout the United States, as Germany bans the Nazi flag, and I still believe that no one should have to see the flag, which I still liken to the Nazi flag, in public. The flag deeply unsettles me, and I’m a white man (albeit a gay white man), so I can only imagine how many if not most blacks feel when they see the Confederate flag — the flag of racist, white supremacist traitors and terrorists — displayed in public as a terrorist warning/threat in the guise of “heritage” or “history” or “culture.”

No, because the First Amendment is used as justification for continued hate speech (which in my book is not protected by the First Amendment since hate speech so often ends in violence against and harm to weaker, historically oppressed individuals), I don’t expect the public display of the Confederate flag to be made illegal throughout the United States any year soon — although it should be made illegal for the federal government or any of the state governments to display the flag in public (except in museums and the like), including, of course, on state-issued license plates — but public and political pressure is bringing the flag down everywhere.

Yes, Mississippi’s flag, which incorporates the Confederate flag in it, as a state-government-sanctioned image has got to go and be redesigned, but while we wait for that — and the illegality of all state-issued license plates bearing the Confederate flag — it’s heartening that in the meantime Walmart, Amazon, Sears, eBay and countless other businesses have decided that they will not sell anything with the Confederate flag on it (with the exception, of course, of such things as history books and DVDs of “Gone with the Wind”).

I can’t remember the last time that I saw any merchandise emblazoned with the Confederate flag here in California — where the Confederate flag does not fly — but it’s nice to know that it now is harder for white supremacists to buy their freak flags online now, and I’m guessing that Walmart’s Southern-state stores have offered merchandise containing the flag of the white-supremacist traitor, if not even the flag itself.

And let’s face it, since the United States is so hyper-capitalist and consumerist, when Big Business decides to do something, such as to ban the Confederate flag, it’s almost as good as the state legislatures and the U.S. Congress actually doing their job, and certainly the elected cowards who fill our chambers of power won’t be as scared now to follow what Big Business has started to do.*

I also was delighted to learn that a black woman in South Carolina yesterday skillfully scaled the flagpole on the state’s capitol grounds and temporarily took down the Confederate flag that mind-blowingly still flies there. Of course law enforcement was waiting for her at the bottom of the flagpole and the flag quickly was raised again. But the woman had made her point; she quite understandably doesn’t want to wait for the state’s legislature to take the matter up, because the time to do the right thing is always right now.

It’s a little complicated, though, I think, as she was spouting the whole time that “God” is on her side.

I’m on her side, but I have a problem with the “God” thing, since “God” is used to justify one’s actions and desires, whether they’re righteous or whether they’re evil. “God” always very conveniently wants whatever it is that the individual who is invoking “God,” the individual who is claiming to know the will of “God” (which to me, an atheist, is like claiming to know the will of Santa Claus), wants.

The religious right, for example, of course, tells us that the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, in declaring that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, violated the will of “God,” and that This! Will! Not! Stand!

Oh! Except that It! Will!

The right-wing haters always pitch a fit when the U.S. Supreme Court or the U.S. Congress advances equal human and civil rights, such as with Brown vs. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Loving vs. Virginia, and now, the newly minted Obergefell vs. Hodges.

Of course the hatred of and the discrimination and persecution against us non-heterosexuals and non-gender-conforming individuals will continue, but we continue to achieve full legal equality — equal human and civil rights.

The vast majority of us non-heterosexuals and non-gender-conforming individuals don’t give a flying fuck what heterosexuals and gender-conforming individuals think of us; we only care when heterosexuals persecute us, when heterosexuals make their own ignorance, bigotry and hatred our problem, when they stand in the way of our pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

And this persistent, pernicious, pathetic right-wing “argument” that the haters’ rights actually are violated when they don’t get to continue to oppress others — similarly, the slave owners’ “rights” were violated when the slaves were freed, you see — isn’t working outside of the wingnuts’ echo chamber. The U.S. Supreme Court certainly didn’t buy it, and neither did the many federal and state courts below it when the haters tried to demonstrate any actual harm to themselves or to society at large by same-sex marriage. That was the haters’ legal task in the courtrooms — to demonstrate actual harm, because you can’t deny a group of people a right unless you can demonstrate that the granting of that right would cause actual harm — and because same-sex marriage harms no one, they failed miserably repeatedly.

As Bill Maher quipped to the haters’ (especially the Repugnican Tea Party presidential aspirants’) response to same-sex marriage now being the law of the land: “Fellas, you do realize that this is not mandatory? You don’t have to have sex with another man — it’s just an option now. OK, I just wanted to make that clear,” he said, hilariously adding after a pause: “They’re such drama queens, aren’t they?”

Indeed, the haters have been acting as though Obergefell vs. Hodges makes same-sex marriage mandatory for everyone, which even they, as insane as they are, know is a fucking lie (because they’re telling the lie in order to scare others to try to get their way politically [which is called terrorism]).

It’s quite simple: As I have noted before, if you don’t want to marry someone of the same sex (even if you’re gay or lesbian), or if you don’t want to get an abortion, then don’t get an abortion or don’t marry someone of the same sex. You have the freedom to follow your own religious convictions, as backasswards as they are, as long as you aren’t acting like the Islamofascists who comprise ISIS, trying to force others to follow your bullshit, troglodytic religion.

Because then, you’re just a “Christo”fascist, and I am governed not by the Koran or the Old Testament or the New Testament, but by the U.S. Constitution (and by other founding documents and by the laws of land, including U.S. statutes and U.S. Supreme Court caselaw, including, of course, the delicious Obergefell vs. Hodges). And I would battle an attempted takeover of the nation by “Christo”fascists just as I would an attempted takeover by Islamofascists.

Haters, you still get to hate; Obergefell vs. Hodges did not strip you of your right to hate others based upon your non-existent “God,” who is like a Santa Claus on crack. But leave the rest of us the fuck alone to pursue our life, liberty and happiness as is guaranteed to us, as is our birthright.

There will be no big national backlash because of Obergefell vs. Hodges. The terrorists who comprised the right wing risibly tried to raise this specter to spook the U.S. Supreme Court from doing the right thing, but with around 60 percent of all Americans supporting same-sex marriage, of course the U.S. Supreme Court was perfectly safe in doing the right, long-overdue thing. (Indeed, as I noted, the court wouldn’t have done the right thing unless it had felt quite safe in doing so. As independent from public opinion as the nation’s court [or, arguably, any court] is supposed to be, at least on paper, the political reality as to how far a court safely can stray from public opinion is different.)

Oh, there might be a nutjob (or two or three) like a Dylann Storm Roof who goes off and commits domestic terrorism against actual and/or perceived non-heterosexual or non-gender-conforming victims — this can happen at any time anyway, and it does — but we won’t see a national backlash to Obergefell vs. Hodges because the nation already is significantly segregated into political blocs anyway, replete with blue states and red states and with blue areas and red regions within the red states and blue states. To a large degree, those on the left and on the right mix as little as is possible anyway.

And before Friday, 36 states had had same-sex marriage anyway; before Friday there were only 14 holdout states. So it’s not like there wasn’t same-sex marriage anywhere in the nation, but that the U.S. Supreme Court just up and in one fell swoop went from zero percent same-sex marriage to 100 percent same-sex marriage in the United States. (That said, things did go fairly quickly, I suppose; Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to start issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples in May 2004, and just a little more than 11 years later, all states must now do so.)

So again, no, there will be no national backlash. Talk of such a backlash is just what the self-serving, treasonous, backasswards wingnuts want, since their Bible-based worldview increasingly is being rejected and relegated to the dustbin of history, where it belongs.

Life will go on much as it has before. The years will pass. The old haters will die and take most of their hatred, bigotry and ignorance with them to their graves (and they have to have graves because they love unsustainability); fewer and fewer of us will be raised to be haters, and even those who do have some hatred in their hearts and minds will, because of the stigma attached to such hatred, for the most part keep their hatred to themselves.

The right-wing haters do their best to prevent progress, do their best to keep humankind bound in the rusted chains of the past, but with each passing day, their hatred is more and more unsustainable.

We progressives must continue to fight, as gains won can be threatened or lost later (look at voting rights and reproductive rights, for example), but, while we fight, we must keep in mind that, as Taylor Swift might put it, while the haters are gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, we must persevere and just shake, shake, shake, shake, shake it off, shake it off.

(If you’ve actually read this far, you kind of deserve a reference to Taylor Swift. Just sayin’.)

*Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that Big Business suddenly wuvs us. No, Big Business has calculated that the intangible and tangible costs of continuing to sell the Confederate flag outweigh any profits that they’ve been getting from selling it.

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We are the champions, my friends!

Supporters of gay marriage rally after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry

Reuters photo

Jubilant supporters of same-sex marriage celebrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court today. (The huge red flag in front of them is marked with a pink equality sign.) In a landmark decision (Obergefell vs. Hodges), the nation’s highest court ruled 5-4 today that no state may outlaw same-sex marriage.

It was only in 2004 that former “President” George W. Bush – whose campaign manager at that time is a gay manused same-sex marriage as a wedge issue to help him “win” “re”-election. And it was only in 2008 that while the nation historically elected its first non-white president on November 4, the anti-same-sex-marriage Proposition H8 passed, 52 percent to 48 percent, here in California, the most populous state and one of the bluest states in the nation.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a long-overdue landmark decision, ruled that all 50 states must allow same-sex couples to marry. The decision isn’t exactly a shocker, as only 14 backasswards states before today’s decision had been holdouts on same-sex marriage. Indeed, apparently the nation’s highest court, which almost always is behind the curve, with 36 states already ahead of it on the legalization of same-sex marriage, had found it politically safe to rule, correctly, that the U.S. Constitution (specifically, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment [and also the amendment’s Due Process Clause]) forbids any of the states from forbidding any two adults (who are consenting and who aren’t closely related to each other, of course…) from marrying each other.

I wish that today’s landmark decision had been greater than 5-4, but, of course, the wingnutty haters would argue that any decision by the U.S. Supreme Court affirming the constitutional right to same-sex marriage, even a unanimous one, somehow is tyrannical or undemocratic or oppressive or blah blah blah. (Just as elections are valid only when they go the wingnuts’ way, judges are “activist” only when they rule in a way that displeases the wingnuts, you see.)

However, recent nationwide polls unanimously show that a solid majority of Americans support same-sex marriage, with support anywhere from the upper 50s to low 60s.

I have no doubt that were the issue of same-sex marriage put up to a national vote – but let me emphasize that no one’s constitutionally guaranteed equal human and civil rights ever should be put up for a vote – a solid majority of Americans would vote “yes.” The U.S. Supreme Court today has not violated the will of the American people; it has only pissed off a minority of mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging fucktards.

My same-sex partner of more than seven years and I have yet to marry, even though legalized same-sex marriage was restored in California in late June 2013. I’d like to say that we have been waiting for same-sex marriage to be the law of the land before we get married, that we haven’t wanted to wed until everyone in the United States may wed, but it’s probably closer to the truth that we can be slow to act on things on which we don’t absolutely have to act immediately.

That said, today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling is a milestone, right up there with Loving vs. Virginia, the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision that made it illegal for any of the states to outlaw mixed-race marriage.

And today’s Supreme Court decision probably will speed up my marriage to my partner. So maybe we more or less were waiting for this day after all.

P.S. While we’ve had a big victory today, the fight for equal human and civil rights for everyone continues, of course; there are no federal protections for non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals in the the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for instance, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would protect non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals from being fired for being who they (we) are, repeatedly has been introduced in Congress since the 1990s but has yet to be passed.

But we’ll keep on fighting ’til the end.

P.P.S. Chief “Justice” John Roberts, in his dissent in Obergefell vs. Hodges, remarked, “The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent. … Just who do we think we are? It can be tempting for judges to confuse our own preferences with the requirements of the law. …”

Funny. Roberts wasn’t on the court at the time, but his remarks (especially “Just who do we [U.S. Supreme Court justices/“justices”] think we are?”) make me think of Bush vs. Gore, the 5-4 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision that put George W. Bush into the White House instead of the vote of the people.

(Al Gore won the popular vote by more than a half-million votes, and I’m confident that he won the pivotal state of Florida, where George W. Bush had a lot of help from his brother, then-Gov. Jeb Bush, and the state’s chief elections official, Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who wrongfully had purged likely Democratic voters from the state’s voter rolls.)

So legally flawed was Bush vs. Gore that the right-wing “justices” who elected George W. Bush to the White House explicitly stated in the ruling that the ruling applied only to the 2000 presidential election.

Again: A justice or judge is only “activist” if one disagrees with his or her ruling. Otherwise, the ruling was quite legally sound. Not that this is sore-loserism or anything.

And I find it awfully interesting that to the right wing it’s perfectly OK for the right-leaning U.S. Supreme Court to do such things as pick a Repugnican as president, allow corporations and plutocrats to buy elections, and gut the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Yet should the right-leaning U.S. Supreme Court actually do good instead of evil — such as by expanding freedom and civil rights to include everyone, which is in perfect line with such founding sentiments and declarations that “all men* are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (from the U.S. Declaration of Independence) and that we should “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” (from the preamble to the U.S. Constitution**) — the treasonous right wing cries bloody fucking murder.

P.P.P.S. Roberts also hatefully scribbled in his dissent that “however heartened the proponents of same-sex marriage might be on this day, it is worth acknowledging what they have lost, and lost forever: the opportunity to win the true acceptance that comes from persuading their fellow citizens of the justice of their cause. And they lose this just when the winds of change were freshening at their backs.”

Wow. What a colossal asshole. First of all, Roberts parrots the fascistic belief that we non-heterosexuals (and, to a greater extent, non-gender-conforming individuals) must beg and supplicate heterosexuals for our equal human and civil rights (which is our “cause” of which he speaks). Equal human and civil rights aren’t our birthright, you see; no, we are to be at the mercy of the heterosexual majority to deem us worthy or not.

This is sick, evil shit. Roberts is not fit to practice law as an ambulance chaser, much more sit as chief justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Moreover, as I noted, before today’s ruling, 36 states already had legalized same-sex marriage (without the nation subsequently imploding!), and nationwide polls consistently have shown solid-majority support for same-sex marriage.

Yet in Robert’s sick and fucking twisted, right-wing universe, we non-heterosexuals can’t win. Even when we actually are winning — actually, we already have won in the court of public opinion — he declares, against mountain ranges of reality, that we are losing public support just when we were on the cusp of winning it!

And when would Roberts ever have declared that we’d finally won this precious critical mass of support from the heterosexual majority? Never. It would have been a dream indefinitely deferred, of course.

It’s not the American public that is behind; it’s Roberts and his evil, fascistic ilk who are far, far behind.

*If the founders didn’t include women in their use of the word “men,” we include women now. That’s called progress, which, of course, is anathema to the retrogrades who comprise the right wing.

**Roberts concluded his mean-spirited dissent with this:

… If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.

I respectfully dissent. [What a fucking lie — his entire dissent is incredibly disrespectful.]

Again, not only does the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibit outlawing same-sex marriage because one finds it to be against the crap that is in the Bible (we’re not actually a fucking theocracy) or icky or whatever — rights can be denied only if actual harm can be demonstrated by the exercise of those rights (in which case they’re no longer actually rights, really), and the haters repeatedly have been unable in the courts of law to demonstrate any actual harm caused by same-sex marriage — but the preamble to the Constitution sets the tone and the intent of the entire document, methinks. And again, the preamble is this:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Key words there include “establish Justice,” “promote the general Welfare,” and “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and Posterity.” (Mention of concern for “Posterity” seems to indicate that the authors of the Constitution did have an eye to the future, that they didn’t intend for the Constitution to be Frozen In Time.) And, of course, “a more perfect Union” means that you continue to improvenot that you advocate that the U.S. remain stuck where it was at its founding.

The wingnuts on the U.S. Supreme Court and those who love them claim that the U.S. Constitution says nothing about expanding freedom and justice for all, yet isn’t it there in the opening of the Constitution? Doesn’t the idea and the ideal of continual progress actually foreshadow the entire fucking document? And where does the Constitution say that only heterosexual, white, conservative, “Christian” men are to have equal human and civil rights, while the rest of us are to grovel at their feet for our equal human and civil rights, as Roberts very apparently believes?

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It’s long past time to ban the treasonous Confederate flag throughout the U.S.

Dylann Storm - flag

White supremacist, mass murderer and nutjob Dylann Storm Roof burns an American flag in an image of himself he posted on the Internet. He much has preferred the Confederate flag, you see, from another such image. (Gotta love the Gold’s Gym shirt on such a cowardly pipsqueak…)

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The nation of Germany wisely bans the public display of the Nazi flag or any other Nazi symbol. (Germany, in fact, “prohibits the distribution or public use of [Nazi] … flags, insignia, uniforms, slogans and forms of greeting.”)

Despite its ban on communications espousing (neo-)Nazism, Germany is viewed as a democratic nation that is not oppressive to its people. Germany’s ban is wise; it apparently is meant to prevent the resurgence of a system of right-wing hatred and terrorism that forever will be a stain on that nation.

Similarly, the United States of America should ban the public display of the Confederate flag. Period. (Other such dangerous forms of treasonous, terrorist communication also should be banned, but banning the Confederate flag would be a good start.)

The Confederate flag should, of course, be allowed to remain in museums and in history books. (Its continued use in Civil War re-enactments is, in my book, gray area, since these public events can be rallying points for those whose allegiance is to the Confederate flag — these can be white-supremacist rallies under the guise of “history education” or the like.)

Fact is, most public displays of the Confederate flag are treasonous. They are meant to signify one’s allegiance to an illegal, treasonous, breakaway, illegitimate, deeply racially oppressive “government” that was crushed by the democratically elected government of the United States of America long ago — and more often than not also to signify one’s white supremacism.

The Confederate flag is not neutral. Its public display is meant to strike fear and terror in others — as are the Nazi flag and the flag of ISIS, for example. There is an apt word for this: terrorism.

This is so indisputable that the right-leaning U.S. Supreme Court just this past week ruled that the state of Texas did not act unconstitutionally when it refused to allow a specialty license plate displaying the Confederate flag. (Even wingnutty idiot “Justice” Clarence Thomas was on board with the 5-4 decision.)

Reuters notes in its reportage of the fresh U.S. Supreme Court decision: “During the oral argument in the case in March, a major concern for some justices was that if the state has no say over what messages to allow, it would pave the way for other potentially offensive messages, such as images of Nazi swastikas or statements promoting the Islamist militant group al Qaeda.”

Reuters also notes:

… The [Supreme Court] found that Texas did not infringe on the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment free speech guarantee when it turned away the application by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The group says it aims to preserve the “history and legacy” of soldiers who fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War.

“Free speech is a fundamental right to which all Americans are entitled, and today’s ruling upholds Texas’s specialty license plate program and confirms that citizens cannot compel the government to speak, just as the government cannot compel citizens to speak,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement.

States can generate revenue by allowing outside groups to propose specialty license plates that people then pay a fee to put on their vehicle.

“I hate that we were turned down,” said Gary Bray, commander of the Texas division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

“We deserve the rights like anyone else to honor our veterans,” added Bray, who said his group likely will submit a revised design.

The state declined in 2010 to approve the plate with the Confederate flag. The flag in question, a blue cross inlaid with white stars over a red background, was carried by Confederate troops in the Civil War. …

The “preserving history” and “honoring our veterans” “arguments” for the public display of the Confederate flag are bullshit.

The history of the Civil War isn’t going away. It’s there forever. It’s quite well chronicled and well preserved, in books (fiction as well as non-fiction), in films, in documentaries, in museums, in historical artifacts, in historical documents, in public monuments, in cemeteries, etc., etc. It’s not going to be forgotten if Jeb or Jethro or Zeke or Cooter or Skeeter can’t fly his freak Confederate flag in front of his trailer or on his monster truck.

And the “honoring our veterans” “argument” flies no better here in the United States than it does in Germany, if the neo-Nazis there were to claim that they only wish to “honor” Germany’s Nazi “veterans.”

You say Confederate “veterans”; I say traitors. Traitors don’t deserve to be honored publicly. At best, the Confederate war dead should be remembered only as actors in a dark time in U.S. history, actors who supported a treasonous, deeply racially oppressive, illegitimate “government” — which makes them far from “heroes.”

Speech is free until it becomes hate speech, which predictably can bring harm to others. Hate speech — which includes the display of hateful flags or other symbols — so often precedes unprovoked violence that is based in the hatred of what and/or how someone else is, not based upon anything wrongful and/or harmful that someone else actually has done.

Dylann Storm Roof of South Carolina is an abject nutjob, of which I have no doubt, but the environment in which he grew up — South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union after the democratic election of Abraham Lincoln as president and even before his inauguration — very apparently was instrumental in pushing him over the edge.

The environment in which Roof grew up included the widespread acceptance of the Confederate flag, which still flies on the grounds of the state’s capitol (to “honor” “veterans” of the illegal, illegitimate, treasonous and racially and otherwise oppressive Confederacy, you see). Even worse, Roof’s car sports a state-issued Confederate-flag license plate.

Even Repugnican presidential loser Mittens Romney has called upon the state of South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from its capitol grounds. (Unfortunately, he has not, to my knowledge, called for the eradication of the Confederate flag anywhere else in the state, such as on its license plates, for fuck’s sake.)

The widespread acceptance of the Confederate flag in the backasswards state of South Carolina no doubt contributed to the deaths — the murders — of the nine black Americans whom Dylann Storm Roof hatefully and cowardly gunned down in cold blood in their own historic church in Charleston on Wednesday night — after apparently having gained his victims’ trust.

Again, this is where free speech has become hate speech, and hate speech, because it so predictably can result in injury or murder, is not protected by the U.S. Constitution.

It is long past time to ban the public display of the Confederate flag, the terrorist symbol of the traitor and the white supremacist — the homegrown terrorist — everywhere in the United States of America (including, of course, on license plates, and yes, even on clothing), just as Germany similarly bans the public display of the Nazi flag.

The traitors who still pay allegiance to the long-defeated-and-defunct Confederacy would be lucky that we’re only eradicating their symbols. After all, the only good traitor and terrorist is a dead one.

The South — as the neo-Confederates think it should be — never will rise again. Not on the watch of those of us who are the true patriots, those of us who are ready for another civil war if the treasonous terrorists make another one necessary.

P.S. It’s rare, thank Goddess, that I ever see the Confederate flag here in Northern California. I still remember that some years ago, when I was at a demolition derby at a fair at a nearby Podunky town, a truck displaying the Confederate flag actually came out into the arena. My jaw dropped. (After the stomach-turning display of the Confederate flag on the truck, I sarcastically remarked to those whom I was with, because it looked like it might rain: “Oh, no! If it rains, how will we have the cross burning?”)

Minimally, the state governments and the federal government should be banned from the public display of, the sale of, or any other promotion of the Confederate flag, be it an actual flag or an image of the flag. (California, thankfully, already has such a statutory prohibition.)

You can sign this online petition to be delivered to the legislature and the governor of South Carolina demanding that the state remove the Confederate flag from all public places. It’s a start.

I also encourage you to make (as I have) a donation to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where the nine individuals were murdered in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday. You can do so by going to the church’s website and clicking on “Donate.”

I’m an atheist (who pretty much supports “Christian” churches only in that it’s churches’ First Amendment right to exist) and a gay man — and the black church historically has been pretty homophobic, with which I have a real problem — but this was some seriously fucked-up shit, and if we can restore this congregation to some of its former wholeness, we should.

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Why I’m on board with Bernie

Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders acknowledges the audience's applause at a campaign event in Des Moines

Reuters photo

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders waves to his audience at a packed Drake University auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday. Sanders has surged in recent New Hampshire polling but still has work to do in Iowa toward winning the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination. 

Americans apparently still are hungry for the hope and change that they ubiquitously were promised back in 2007 and 2008. That, I think, helps to explain why U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is doing better in his quest for the White House than even he ever had anticipated that he would.

Initially written off as a dark-horse candidate at best and a joke at worst (replete with mad-scientist-like flyaway hair), Sanders is in the news lately for polling quite competitively in New Hampshire, the first state to hold a presidential primary election (on February 9), right after Iowa’s caucuses (on February 1).

Sanders (who as of late has had his flyaway hair under remarkable control) reaps not only the allegiance of those of us (including yours truly) who still are waiting for that once-much-promised hope and change, but reaps also the anyone-but-Billary vote, since the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden very apparently aren’t running.

This is no poor reflection upon Sanders; you – or at least I – go with the most-progressive-yet-still-viable presidential candidate, and Sanders fits the bill. And kudos to Sanders for not being too timid to compete against Queen Billary, who deserves a coronation now no more than she did in 2008.

It is to Sanders’ credit that until now, with his presidential run, he has not identified with the Democratic Party, but has been an independent, a self-identified democratic socialist (I’ve seen “democratic” there capitalized by some, but that’s quite incorrect), ever since he joined Congress in 1991.

Not that this is good enough for everyone.

Fellow leftist Chris “Chicken Little” Hedges, with whom I agree on most things but whose frequent hysteria and hyperbole make me look quite tame by comparison, has remarked that Sanders “lacks [Ralph] Nader’s moral fortitude” and that Sanders “will, when it is all done, push his followers into the vampire-like embrace of Hillary Clinton. He is a Pied Piper leading a line of children or rats — take your pick — into political oblivion.”

Wow. Condescending and reductionist. (And again: hyperbolic and hysterical.) I support Sanders now (he’s a Democrat in name only, but in a good way, for once), but I won’t vote for or otherwise support Billary Clinton (who’s a Democrat in name only in a bad way) in any shape, way, manner or form. Sanders is not a gateway drug who will lead me into the Billary camp; he will not lead me, like a mindless child or rat, into “political oblivion,” as I’m quite capable of thinking for myself.

Sanders has stated that he had to decide whether to run for president as an independent, as Ralph Nader* has done, or to run as a Democrat, since it’s much harder for an independent to run for president than it is for someone who is aligned with one of the duopolistic parties. I don’t fault Sanders for deciding to run on the Democratic Party ticket, and while Ralph Nader, as much as we might want to vaunt him (and I do admire Nader quite a lot), never has won elected office**, Sanders has been in the U.S. House of Representatives (from 1991 to 2007) and in the U.S. Senate (from 2007 to present), at least pressing for progressive change (Sanders co-founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus his very first year in Congress and chaired it in its first eight years of existence), albeit with the constriction of being the only self-identified democratic socialist in Congress and more or less being able to caucus only with Democrats.

Chris Hedges proclaims that in November 2016 he most likely will vote for the Green Party presidential candidate, whomever that turns out to be, and that’s fine; that’s Hedges’ choice. I voted for Ralph Nader when he ran on the Green Party ticket in 2000, almost voted for Nader in 2008, and I voted for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein in 2012. (In 2004 I voted for John Kerry, as ousting George W. Bush from office was my No. 1 goal, and from the get-go I saw Kerry as the candidate best able to oust the incumbent [and ousting an incumbent president is usually quite difficult], and in 2008 I fell enough for the promises of “hope” and “change” to vote for Barack Obama.)

If Sanders doesn’t win the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination, there’s a good chance that, like Hedges, in November 2016 I’ll vote for the Green Party presidential candidate, of which I have a history.*** (I know that I won’t vote for Billary, no matter what. No, I never would vote for a Repugnican, but that doesn’t mean that I’d have to vote for Billary, because I don’t and I won’t.)

But let’s face it: the Green Party is incredibly politically weak. True, that’s in no small part because the duopolistic parties do their best to kill third parties and independent candidates (which is why the independent Sanders isn’t running for president as an independent or on a third-party ticket), but at the same time, Hedges and his ilk encourage us to tilt at windmills (such as by supporting the Green Party) to the point that it’s abusive.

It strikes me that the Green Party had an opportunity to grow since 2000, but has squandered the opportunity – in no small part, of course, because getting leftists on the same page is like herding cats on crack on a hot tin roof.

Chris Hedges calls for all-out revolution, and while an all-out revolution would be great (indeed, I’m reading Hedges’ current book, Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt, right now), it seems to me that we’re still fairly far away from the critical mass that is necessary for one. “Every action we take now must be directed at ripping down the structures of the corporate state. This means refusing to cooperate [such as in the duopolistic electoral process]. It means joining or building radical mass movements,” Hedges proclaims, and again, while I’d love a progressive revolution, and while I suppose that a revolution (a progressive or a regressive one) could erupt in the United States (revolutions often erupt taking everyone by surprise), the fizzle of the Occupy movement leads me to surmise that a progressive revolution isn’t going to happen in the United States soon.

And to paraphrase war criminal Donald Rumsfeld, you go to political war with the army that you have, not with the army that you wish you had. Just as I saw John Kerry as the best “army” to defeat incumbent George W. Bush in 2004, I see Bernie Sanders as the best shot for an actually progressive White House come January 2017.

Hedges, of course, disagrees. “Any further energy invested in these elections, including championing Bernie Sanders’ ill-advised decision to validate the Democratic Party by becoming one of its presidential candidates, is a waste of time,” Hedges, whose columns so often read like fatwas, proclaims, but real-world politics is about getting the most that you can get under the conditions that you actually have while doing your best to improve those conditions. Real-world politics is not about pouting and repeatedly supporting the Green Party candidate who has a snowball’s chance in hell of ever winning, which is tantamount to scooping up all of your marbles and storming home in a huff. (And isn’t supporting the Green Party candidate still participating in the system that needs to be overthrown?)

I don’t see that Bernie Sanders is “validating” the Democratic Party by having become one of its presidential candidates, especially when he has identified himself as an independent and a democratic socialist since at least 1991 and clearly has explained why he is running on the Democratic ticket (again, it’s a procedural thing, not his agreement, tacit or otherwise, with the direction in which the Democratic Party has gone). I see that Sanders apparently is trying to change the Democratic Party from within, which is much more likely to succeed than is the national electoral success of a progressive third party. (Again, the Green Party remains weak and will remain weak for some time; only under a parliamentarian system, it seems to me, could the Green Party flourish in the United States.)

Bernie Sanders might not succeed in winning the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination. While he obviously is politically stronger than he has been considered to be (even by himself, apparently) – he seems to have roused a sleepy giant, one that has been disappointed profoundly by Barack Obama – I concede that of course he might not succeed in his quest for the White House.

But it is a worthy quest to at least try to elect the most progressive president that we can, and while that’s still a possibility, I’m on board with Bernie Sanders.

P.S. I found it interesting to read that musician Neil Young, who has a problem with plutocratic jackass Donald Trump having used his song “Rockin’ in the Free World” without permission during his bogus presidential campaign rollout, supports Bernie Sanders…

*Nader ran for president on the Green Party ticket in 1996 and 2000 and as an independent in 2004 and 2008.

**That’s not a slam, and perhaps Nader has been most effective fighting from the outside. In any event, the fight can and should be fought from both within and from without the current corrupt system, it seems to me; this either-or, puritanical bullshit doesn’t sit well with me. Politics isn’t pure; it’s a dirty game.

***Having lived in the very blue state of California since 1998, it doesn’t matter whether I vote for the Democratic presidential candidate or not; the Democratic presidential candidate always wins California and all of its electoral votes in the winner-takes-call Electoral College, which needs to be scrapped for a simple popular vote of the U.S. president. (The last time that a Repugnican presidential candidate won California was in 1988.)

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Obama’s failure on NAFTA-like TPP spells potential doom for Billary

Hillary Clinton is joined onstage by her husband former President Clinton after delivering her

Reuters photo

Democrat in name only Billary Clinton is joined onstage by her DINO husband during her official presidential campaign kick-off in New York City yesterday. Billary refuses to say whether she supports the NAFTA-like, anti-middle-and-anti-working-class, pro-plutocratic Trans-Pacific Partnership, because of course she supports it, just as her husband brought us the North American Free Trade Agreement, but such treasonous support is unpopular with actual Democrats. DINO President Barack Obama’s lame-duck failure to get the TPP passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday indicates that the Clinton-Obama brand of politician — the DINO — is headed for long-overdue extinction. Actual progressive Bernie Sanders, who opposes the TPP, has my full support for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination.

The United States of America has been looking past President Barack Obama for some time now, with talk of who the next president will be having been going on for many months now. Obama is not just a lame duck; he’s a zombie duck.

This (the lame-duck syndrome) is not unique to Obama, of course, and so I am not picking only on Obama; in 2007 and 2008, those of us who are sane were looking far past the unelected and thus illegitimate “President” George W. Bush (to whom I must give credit for being my main inspiration to start blogging way back in 2002).

But one suspects that while even Gee Dubya at least dimly understood that he was a lame duck in his last two disastrous years in the White House, the perhaps-more-arrogant Obama hasn’t yet received the memo.

Obama’s delightfully stunning loss on the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Friday demonstrates that all of us, Democrats and non-Democrats alike, are looking past him. As TIME.com puts it:

President Obama suffered a stunning defeat Friday when fellow Democrats in the House hobbled his push for a legacy-defining Pacific Rim trade deal.

House Democrats used a tactical maneuver to deny Obama the fast-track negotiating authority he needs to finalize that pact, sinking a worker assistance program that’s become a precondition for Democratic support of such agreements. The vote was 126-302.

The path forward for Obama’s trade agenda, his top legislative priority, is hardly clear. “I don’t think anybody knows,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), a member of House Democratic leadership, said after the vote. …

It’s heart-warming that DINO Obama’s parting gift to us all was going to be another NAFTA-like, Clintonesque “trade” “deal” that further would decimate the working class and middle class. That Obama was depending on the Repugnican Tea Party traitors to help him push his pro-plutocratic, pro-corporate, anti-populist fast-track “trade” “deal” through the U.S. House of Representatives shines a blindingly bright spotlight on Obama’s dark heart and very apparently reveals, sickeningly, where his allegiances always have been.

But further shitting and pissing on the middle class and working class is not very popular right about now, which is why a President Billary would do that were she to win the Oval Office, I have no doubt, but is why she is promising, like Obama did in his first presidential campaign, hope and change.

Billary isn’t using the actual words “hope” and “change” — since it’s obvious to all of us how that turned out — but she’s essentially giving the same Obama-2008 bullshit message. As Reuters reports:

New York — Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton promised [yesterday] to fight for a fairer society for ordinary Americans, staking out a place on the left to cut off any budding challenge for the Democratic nomination.

In the first major rally of her campaign for the November 2016 presidential election, Clinton touched on many of the issues that energize liberal Democrats. She highlighted her support for gay marriage, women’s rights, income equality, clean energy and regulating Wall Street.

Speaking on New York’s Roosevelt Island, with Manhattan’s skyscrapers as a backdrop, Clinton promised to “make the economy work for everyday Americans, not just those at the top” if elected president. …

By far the front-runner to win the Democratic nomination for president, Clinton nevertheless faces some competition from the left, especially from liberal Bernie Sanders.

The independent senator from Vermont has drawn relatively large crowds at recent campaign events in Iowa, the state that kicks off the party’s nominating contests early next year. …

Well, yeah.

Anyone who has been paying even the slightest attention to Billary’s career of holding titles (first lady, U.S. senator, U.S. secretary of state, etc.) but having pretty much zero accomplishments knows that her sudden, new-found populism is compete and utter bullshit. Her presidency would be a continuation of the lackluster-at-best, center-right Obama administration — at best.

Was it long ago enough that we heard promises of “hope” and “change” to be able to believe Billary Clinton today?

I don’t think so, which might explain why a recent poll conducted by the Washington Post, ABC News and Quinnipiac University found that Bernie Sanders is regarded more favorably than unfavorably by Americans, but that Americans regard both Obama and Billary more unfavorably than favorably.*

I don’t know that Sanders can win the White House; wise men almost never do.

I have been a supporter of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who not only is progressive — an actual Democrat — but is tough and tenacious (a real pit bull with lipstick) and who would fit the bill of being both our first female president and a probably-great and an actually progressive president.

But Warren isn’t running for the White House for 2016, and the closest that we actual progressives have to Warren is Bernie Sanders, to whom I’ve been giving all of the support that I would be giving to Billary Clinton if she were an actual Democrat instead of a Repugnican Lite (and maybe not even Lite).

Again, I don’t know that Sanders could win the White House — it wasn’t nearly long ago enough that Americans allowed the likes of George W. Bush to steal the White House (Al Gore beat Bush by more than a half-million votes in November 2000) — but I am confident that Sanders might beat Billary for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination, especially if he wins in one or more of the earliest voting states.

When Sanders talks about standing up for the middle class and working class, he has his entire political career as a self-identified democratic socialist to back him up on that. (As there is no national socialist party in the United States, unfortunately, I don’t expect the “socialist” thing to be the problem for Sanders that so many say it would be, and socialism is looking better and better to millions of Americans right about now, especially for younger Americans, whose collective future treasonously runaway capitalism has severely jeopardized and for whom the Red Scare is just what it is: a pro-plutocratic, anti-populist propagandist relic of the paranoid, jingoistic 1950s.)

Billary Clinton’s background, by deep contrast, includes having been a “Goldwater girl” — yes, in her youth she supported wingnut Barry Goldwater (the “Goldwater girls” “got to wear cowboy hats,” Billary has said, perhaps while giggling. “We had a sash that said, you know, ‘I voted AUH2O.’ I mean, it was really a lot of fun”) — and having helped, with her husband and the now-thank-Goddess-defunct Democratic Leadership Council, to drag the Democratic Party so far to the right that year after year it becomes more and more indistinguishable from the pro-plutocratic, pro-corporate Repugnican Party to the point that I think of the two duopolistic parties as the Coke Party and the Pepsi Party.

I know my history, which is why I can’t, in anything remotely approaching good conscience, support Billary Clinton — who, of course, hasn’t made her stance on the Trans-Pacific Partership public** because of course she personally supports it (everything in her political history points to that fact) but knows that it’s politically unpopular (rightfully so) to come out in favor of it. Bernie Sanders, of course, publicly opposes the TPP.**

(Billary Clinton is nothing if not a human weather vane on crack; when she coldly calculated in the toxic, post-9/11 atmosphere that voting for the unelected Bush regime’s illegal, immoral, unjust and unprovoked Vietraq War in October 2002 would benefit her politically, she did so when she was in the U.S. Senate. [Bernie Sanders was in the U.S. House of Representatives at the time, and he wisely voted against the Vietraq War, as did 21 Democratic U.S. senators, so let’s not revise history to claim that Billary really had no choice; she did.]

When Billary coldly calculated that publicly supporting same-sex marriage would harm her politically, she did not publicly support it, and publicly supported it only after she had calculated that it was safe to do soshe waited until March 2013, for fuck’s sake.

This is a pattern of political behavior that amply demonstrates Billary’s character and that is plain to see once one gets past her bullshit use and co-option of the “Democratic” label.)

I was punk’d by Obama in 2008, when I truly believed that he might actually do his best to enact an actually progressive agenda.***

I wasn’t punk’d by DINO Obama again in 2012 — I voted for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein instead — and I won’t be punk’d by DINO Billary Clinton in 2016.

Instead, I’m on board with Bernie Sanders.

*The Washington Post thought that it was awfully cute to throw in another, online poll conducted by Google Consumer Surveys to add fictional movie villains to the poll, but not only was movie-villain poll an unscientific Internet poll, but the individuals who were polled on presidential wannabes obviously were not the same individuals who were polled online by Google on movie villains, so by smashing the two poll results together into one bogus poll, Washington Post shit and pissed not only all over journalism, but also on the art and science of polling, and further dumbed down public discourse by melding politics with entertainment.

Great job, WaPo!

**Reuters reports today:

Bernie Sanders, the outspoken progressive U.S. senator challenging Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, urged her [today] to take a stand on a big trade deal that has divided the Democratic Party.

Clinton aides appearing on Sunday television news shows said she would not weigh in until negotiations were complete.

Sanders, a vocal critic of free trade, called on Clinton to join labor unions, environmentalists and other opponents of the trade package before it is brought up for another vote this week. Clinton is the front-runner among candidates to be the Democratic Party nominee for the November 2016 election.

“Corporate America and Wall Street are going to bring that bill back,” Sanders said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “If she joins us, we could stop this disastrous deal once and for all.”

Democrats in Congress dealt a blow to President Barack Obama on Friday when they rejected related trade legislation that would have cleared the way for a sweeping Pacific Rim trade deal, despite his personal plea that it was crucial to bolstering ties with Asia.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is shaping up to be a significant test for Clinton as her party has grown more suspicious of the merits of free trade since her husband, Bill Clinton, signed the North American Free Trade Agreement into law as president in 1993.

Clinton has expressed reservations about free trade deals in the past, but she played a central role in trade talks with the 11 countries involved in the TPP as Obama’s secretary of state.

Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said she would render a judgment when the deal is final.

Gotta love that last sentence (the emphasis is mine, of course): Billary won’t lead on this important issue now, but will wait so see how it shakes out politically, and then, apparently, retroactively will announce that all along she had supported whichever position apparently emerges as the political victor.

And Queen Billary can’t even be bothered to tell us commoners this herself, but has her surrogates tell us this.

***When I walked into my polling place in November 2008, I still hadn’t decided whether I would vote for Barack Obama or for independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, for whom I’d voted in 2000. At rather the last minute, I cast my vote for Obama, knowing that he was going to win all of California’s electoral votes anyway, and feeling at least a little good about having voted for the nation’s first non-white president.

In 2009 and 2010, while I watched Obama jaw-droppingly squander his political capital by trying to sing “Kumbaya” with the treasonous Repugnicans in Congress — instead of enacting the actually progressive agenda that he’d promised to enact, and which he could have enacted, given that his party controlled both houses of Congress in 2009 and 2010 — I knew that my November 2008 vote for Obama had been a regrettable mistake.

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