Monthly Archives: June 2016

Blame Bernie! is already taking shape

Associated Press photo

The Billarybots actually are arguing that Billary Clinton would be more progressive if only Bernie Sanders had endorsed her already. This ignores Billary’s entire political history, such as her calling herself “moderate and center” less than a year ago and her consistent center-right stance of incrementalism, since that’s what those who fund her want. This is just a precursor to the Billarybots/Democratic Party hacks blaming Bernie when Billary, a weak and widely despised presidential candidate, loses to Donald Trump in November. It wasn’t Billary’s fault! Blame Bernie!

Early in his campaign for the White house, left-wing naysayers said of Bernie Sanders that of course he would end up selling out, betraying the Democratic Party’s (arguably) progressive base and endorsing Billary Clinton.

Some even more or less accused him of intending to herd all of his duped lefty supporters into the center-right Clinton camp from Day One.

Now, Bernie is being criticized for not endorsing Billary soon enough.

Centrist Joan Walsh, who now inexplicably writes for the left-wing The Nation and whose every article should include the disclaimer that she’s been a staunch Billarybot for years now, opines that “Sanders risks weakening his negotiating position by delaying to endorse Clinton, while insisting she and the party accept his every campaign plank, including a single-payer health-care system, a fracking ban, and an aggressive promise by Democrats not to vote for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

Rightas soon as Bernie finally raises that white flag, Queen Billary and her courtiers are going to listen to him and give him much (or even most!) of what he wants. Right!

Because Billary’s polling against Donald Trump has been better as of late — the two had been statistically tied not long ago, but now the Huffington Post’s average of recent match-up polls has Billary at 7 percent ahead of Trump and Real Clear Politics’ average of those polls similarly shows Billary at 6.8 percent head of Trump (still way too close for my comfort) — Slate.com’s Jamelle Bouie recently concluded that “Sanders’ endorsement [of Billary] isn’t irrelevant, but it now carries less weight, and the leverage he held at the end of the primary just isn’t there anymore.”

Again: Oh, please.

Once it became clear that Billary was going to be the nominee (after the primary-election voting on June 7, in which Bernie lost the biggest prize, California), Bernie never was going to have a real voice or real leverage. Even before then he was well neutered by the party establishment.

Take the Democratic Party platform committee, for instance. As I have noted, Bernie got to pick five members of the committee, but Billary got to pick six and Billarybot Debbie Wasserman Schultz got to pick four, making Bernie’s influence just one-third of the 15-member committee and Billary’s two-thirds of the membership of the committee, since the corrupt, partial Wasserman Schultz is Billary’s conjoined twin. I mean, please. Billary quite effectively has 10 people on the platform-writing committee, so let’s cut the fucking bullshit.

Under a fair arrangement, Bernie would have received representation on the platform committee reflective of the percentage of the pledged delegates that he earned in the primaries and caucuses — 45.5 percent, which would be seven members on the 15-member platform committee. And this blatantly unfair arrangement was decided even before The Associated Press announced on June 6 that Billary had it all sewn up.

The platform committee is going as I had expected it to, given the way that the deck was stacked against Bernie (two-to-one). Environmentalist and activist Bill McKibben, one of Bernie’s picks on the committee, writes for Politico:

The Democratic platform process is finally underway, and the main issue is this: Did the campaign of Bernie Sanders really alter the Democratic Party? The answer is not yet entirely clear, but on many key issues so far the Hillary Clinton campaign has been unwilling to commit to delivering specifics about fundamental change in America, which have been at the heart of Sanders’ campaign.

I’ve had a front-row seat to the first round of the process, as one of five delegates Sanders named to draft the platform. (The Clinton campaign named six, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, added four more.) We spent two weeks listening to powerful testimony from citizens around the country, and then on Friday in St. Louis we started taking votes.

And it was there that the essential dynamic quickly emerged. The Clinton campaign was ready to acknowledge serious problems: We need fair trade policy, inequality is a horrible problem, and unchecked climate change will wreck the planet. But when it came to specific policy changes, they often balked. Amendments against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and backing Medicare for all failed, with all the Clinton delegates voting against.

At which point we got (about 11 p.m., in a half-deserted hotel ballroom) to the climate section of the platform, and that’s where things got particularly obvious. We all agreed that America should be operating on 100 percent clean energy by 2050, but then I proposed, in one amendment after another, a series of ways we might actually get there. A carbon tax? Voted down 7-6 (one of the DNC delegates voted with each side). A ban on fracking? Voted down 7-6. An effort to keep fossils in the ground, at least on federal land? Voted down 7-6. A measure to mandate that federal agencies weigh the climate impact of their decisions? Voted down 7-6. Even a plan to keep fossil fuel companies from taking private land by eminent domain, voted down 7-6. (We did, however, reach unanimous consent on more bike paths!)

In other words, the Clinton campaign is at this point rhetorically committed to taking on our worst problems, but not willing to say how. Which is the slightly cynical way politicians have addressed issues for too long — and just the kind of slickness that the straightforward Sanders campaign rejected.

Happily, the process is only one-third complete. And Team Sanders has claimed some victories: a strong stand against the death penalty, for instance, and remarkable in-depth language on Native American rights. Now the platform discussion heads to Orlando, where 187 delegates will weigh it in more depth. And the issues on which they still can’t agree can then be raised on the convention floor in Philadelphia.

To some, the point of the whole exercise is unclear. Platforms don’t matter, right? But this is a new kind of election: The Sanders campaign has been about issues, issues, issues. I mean, the guy gives 90-minute speeches every day that are entirely about actual things that need to change. It seems weird in an American political context, which is normally about posturing and spin, but for many of us it’s refreshing.

… We need unions and working people and environmentalists fully engaged this time around, backing the Democrats with passion and energy. Above all we need young people, who voted for Bernie by a 7-to-1 proportion.

Which is why we need not platitudes but a platform. Not aspirations but commitments. Not happy talk, but the fully adult conversation that Sanders engaged the country in for the past year. [Fellow platform committee member] Cornel West, with his usual succinct eloquence, said that in the end the platform debate came down to telling the truth. The truth is, we’re in a world of hurt. That hurt — economic, social, environmental — is driving the unsettling politics of our moment. That hurt needs to be addressed.

Orlando and Philly are the two places left where that can happen; I’m willing to bet the platform will get substantially stronger before all is said and done, because I think the Sanders run really has changed the party, and very much for the better.

McKibben weirdly makes it sound pretty dire — he makes it sound as though the Clinton hacks (redundant…) on the platform committee already have taken all of the Dalmation puppies for their boss (because they have) — but then he ends his screed on a note of hopefulness. (Yeah, sorry, but after years of President Hopey-Changey, I’m all outta hope. [And no, I’m not actually sorry.])

“On those points that are more contentious [on the platform committee], Team Sanders has lost out,” Bouie notes. “The platform committee has rejected Sanders’ language on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, his stance against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, his call for a carbon tax, and his total opposition to fracking.”

“Maybe this was inevitable,” Bouie follows up. “Maybe Sanders was never going to have the full stamp he clamored for simply on account of having lost.”

Gee, do ya think? (And maybe Sanders’ weakness on the platform committee has something to do with how it was set up? Maybe? Just maybe?)

With Repugnican Lite/Democrat in name only Billary Clinton in the White House, we’ve always known what we’d/we’ll get: We commoners get pandered to while the corporations get pampered. We commoners are to indulge in relatively petty identity politics (because that doesn’t cost the corporations and the plutocrats who own them and love them a single fucking dime — and, more importantly, when we commoners are at each others’ throats, we’re not finally coming after our plutocratic overlords with torches and pitchforks). And we commoners are to be “realistic” about what is and isn’t politically possible — while the planet broils and the rich get even richer and the poor get even poorer. Indeed, we are frogs being brought to a boil, and the Repugnican Tea Party traitors couldn’t boil us without the help of the DINOs like Barack Obama and the Clinton dynasty.

We won’t blame Billary & Co. for all of that, though; no, we’ll actually blame Bernie. Had Bernie just endorsed Billary earlier, she would have been the progressive president that she never, ever, ever was going to be in the first fucking place, you see.

Bouie makes the bizarre argument that “Had Sanders endorsed Clinton at the end of the primaries and recalibrated as an advocate for her campaign — in short, had he mimicked [Elizabeth] Warren — he would have gotten ahead of his voters.” And then everyone would have lived happily ever after.

WTF?

Had Sanders endorsed Clinton right at the end of the primaries, he would have been branded a fraud and a turncoat to the progressive movement and potentially would have turned off millions of young, progressive voters from participating in the political process ever again.

You don’t run as The Anti-Clinton and then just up and announce your 180. 

And Bouie praises Elizabeth Warren for now being on Team Billary (as does Walsh), but why has Warren been pretty quiet for most of the past year while Bernie was campaigning his heart out for progressive causes?

Warren very apparently waited until the winner finally emerged and then got on board with the winning team. Gee, that was risky! And courageous!

No, it was much more courageous of Bernie to go ahead and run against Billary, something that Warren wouldn’t have dared to do.

Billary indeed is polling a bit better against Trump these days no doubt in part because she has been able to peel off some of Bernie’s supporters once it was clear that he lost the primary race. (His loss isn’t official, and won’t be official until about a month from now at the convention, but come on; he lost.)

Billary’s doing better against Trump in the match-up polls was inevitable after Bernie didn’t win California on June 7 (probably at least in part because the AP had declared the whole thing over the day before).

The real questions are whether she has peeled off as many of Bernie’s supporters that she should have by now — and how many of Bernie’s supporters she ultimately successfully will have peeled off come Election Day. (As I’ve noted about a bizillion times, I won’t give her my vote or one red cent.)

It’s clear why the blame-Bernie “argument” is emerging now, though: When Billary loses to Donald Trump in November — if for no other reason than that Trump’s voters will be fired up and thus will turn out, while I truly don’t know anyone who is enthusiastic about Billary, and of course enthusiasm drives turnout (fear of Trump, alas, which is all that Team Billary has in its bag of tricks, probably won’t actually drive turnout as much as would actual enthusiasm for Billary) — we will need someone to blame and to scapegoat.

Surely Billary’s being a corrupt, self-serving, center-right sellout whose national favorability ratings still are upside down in the double digits will have nothing to do with her loss in November.

No, the story that will be told of Billary’s loss to Donald Trump in November 2016 is this one:

It was all Bernie’s fault!

P.S. Joan Walsh saved the best for last. She actually argues at the end of her screed that Bernie (not Billary!) must make his supporters love (the unlovable) Billary, and that if he doesn’t, and Billary is “forced” to tack right in the general election — which she was going to do all along anyway — then it’s Bernie’s fault:

… [I]f Clinton is forced to court “Never Trump” Republicans because Sanders delivers a late or half-hearted endorsement, he and his backers will lose some influence politically. There are many Republicans available to Clinton, particularly women, if she decides that’s her best audience.

As one Clinton supporter close to the platform negotiations told me: “It’s really up to him: He can determine if she does this with a progressive mandate, one that she has to be loyal to. But if his voters snub her, and she has to go to anti-Trump Republicans to get to 51 percent, they’ll have much less leverage.”

While I love the apparently unintended admission that Billary Clinton has no core principles but is a human(?) weather vane on crack who will do whatever she perceives to be the most politically expedient, this is stunning insight into the “thought” processes of a typical Billarybot, including the assertion that Billary can do no wrong and that whatever she does, it’s someone else’s fault.

The stunning “feminist” assertion here is that Billary actually has no agency, but that “It’s really up to [Bernie].”

Just: Wow.

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Anarchists and skinheads clash again in Sacramento — this time with stabbings

Updated below (on Monday, June 27, 2016)

Members of the group called ANTIFA Sacramento (Anti-Fascism Action) stage a counter-protest against the Traditionalist Worker's Party and the Golden State Skinheads at the State Capitol on Sunday, June 26, 2016 in Sacramento, Calif.

Members of the group called ANTIFA Sacramento (Anti-Fascism Action) walk onto west steps of the State Capitol as they stage a counter-protest against the Traditionalist Worker's Party and the Golden State Skinheads on Sunday, June 26, 2016 in Sacramento, Calif.

Sacbee.com photos

Above: Anarchists and other anti-fascists demonstrated against neo-Nazis at the California state Capitol in Sacramento today. I love the sign with the swastika with the dagger plunged into it, and I’m on board with stopping fascism, but we must spell correctly… Below: In a melee that was quite predictable but not prevented by law enforcement, five people (three of them shown here) were stabbed during the confrontation between the two groups at the state Capitol today. From what I can tell, most or all of those stabbed were anarchists or other anti-fascists stabbed by the neo-Nazis, and at least two of them were black.

Sean Moore, 23, of Sacramento waits for medics with a friends after being stabbed by neo-Nazi protesters at the State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on June 26, 2016. Medics later said it was a three inch incision.

A protestor is comforted after stabbed during a clash between members of the group called ANTIFA Sacramento (Anti-Fascism Action) against theTraditionalist Worker's Party and the Golden State Skinheads at the State Capitol on Sunday June 26, 2016 in Sacramento, Calif.

A victim is attended to by counter protesters after he was stabbed during a neo-Nazi rally at the State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on June 26, 2016.

Sacbee.com photos

So there was quite a ruckus here in Sacramento today.

Anarchists reportedly crashed a rally of white supremacists before the neo-Nazis could even begin their little pageant, and in the melee at least five people were stabbed.

We’ve had at least one anarchist-on-neo-Nazi clash at the state Capitol before; I wrote about it in February 2012, when it last happened, but at that time there weren’t any stabbings. Just anarchists (incorrectly identified not as anarchists but as members of the Occupy movement) throwing things at the retreating neo-Nazis.

More details of today’s melee will come out, at least in the local media, but have we really come to stabbings? Shootings can’t be far behind, can they?

Thing is, two of my co-workers had told me about the planned crashing of the white supremacist gathering by anarchists around two weeks ago. (No, these two co-workers aren’t anarchists, to my knowledge, but apparently are anarchist sympathizers, as I am, for the most part.*)

So the word was out there that the anarchists would confront the neo-Nazis at the Capitol today, and I knew immediately upon hearing that that would be a combustible mix, yet the state police (the California Highway Patrol) seemed ill-prepared for today’s violence.

I have to wonder if that’s because they’re OK with it.

Seriously — the one thing that the ne0-Nazis and the anarchists do have in common is that they tend to be younger and poorer and quite disgruntled over the sorry state of affairs here in the United States of America; they are quite anti-establishment (and, of course, law-enforcement officers are quite pro-establishment).

Of course, that’s where the similarities between the anarchists and the neo-Nazis end; the neo-Nazis blame all of the wrong people (non-whites, Jews and Muslims and other non-“Christians,” feminists, non-heterosexuals, socialists, et. al.) for all of our nation’s and world’s ills while the anarchists correctly identify our enemy: the plutocrats and the corporatocrats — and yes, the members of the right wing, including the neo-Nazis, who treasonously aid and abet the treasonous plutocrats and corporatocrats. (Indeed, the plutocrats and corporatocrats couldn’t commit their evil without the help of the right wing.)

Unshockingly, the neo-Nazis visited Sacramento today at least in part to show their support for Der Fuhrer Donald Trump, and indeed, the opposing camps of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are much like the opposing camps of the neo-Nazis and the anarchists: Both camps are comprised of justifiably disgruntled individuals, but, again, while the neo-Nazis and Trumpites have incredibly misidentified our true enemies, the Berners and the anarchists have identified them correctly.

Having been a Berner who refuses to cast a vote for pro-establishment sellout Billary Clinton, it’s difficult for me to criticize what the anarchists did today, although I do find it to be a bit disturbing that multiple stabbings occurred at the state Capitol today, where I have attended several protests myself (sans any stabbings) and which is within two blocks of my workplace.

(No, I was nowhere near the Capitol today, and nor would I have been, not with our triple-digit weather, which, I surmise, contributed to today’s heated tempers.)

I am of two minds on the recent spate of violence that we have seen between those on the left (anarchists, Berners and others) and those on the right (Trump supporters and other assorted neo-Nazis): Had the budding Nazis in Germany faced significant violent pushback from good Germans (were there any good Germans?), Nazi Germany might never have risen.

I don’t see why history couldn’t repeat itself today in the United States of America. If the American neo-Nazis of today didn’t get violent pushback, how far would they go? Are they not dipping their white-supremacist toes in the water to see how far they can go?

We just might have the anarchists to thank for keeping the treasonous skinheads in check.

On the other hand, I don’t know how much political power the neo-Nazis actually have and thus what actual threat they pose. For my entire life they haven’t had much power, not nationally, anyway — most Americans consider (correctly) the neo-Nazis to be maladjusted social fucktards, like Trekkies and fantasy gamers (although, of course, generally more armed and thus potentially dangerous) — and so I don’t know how important it was for the anarchists to confront them today.

Thing is, where it comes to fascism and the rise of Nazi Germany 2.0 here in the United States of America in the present, I would rather overestimate than underestimate the risk.

And I have the sentiment that it’s too bad that some young anarchists today were knifed by a domestic enemy that too many of the rest of us “good” Americans won’t significantly confront.

P.S. At this point I’d be fine with a ban on neo-Nazis appearing at the state Capitol, now that we’ve had stabbings, most or all of which appear to have been perpetrated by the neo-Nazis.

This isn’t free fucking speech anymore. This is just hate speech, and hate speech predictably ends up in violence — as I noted, today’s violence in Sacramento was completely predictable and thus probably preventable — and therefore, in my book, hate speech, which exists in order to deprive others of their constitutional rights, is not protected by the First Amendment.

And, of course, I hope that they catch the cowardly skinheads who stabbed the true patriots today and throw the scumbags into prison, where they belong — behind bars, like the animals that they are.

Update (Monday, June 27, 2016): The Los Angeles Times reports that seven people were stabbed during yesterday’s melee in Sacramento, and The Sacramento Bee reports today:

Protesters on both sides of [yesterday’s] bloody riot at the state Capitol say police intentionally held back from intervening as a planned neo-Nazi rally spun out of control and left 10 people injured, including at least five who were stabbed.

The claims come despite statements by Sacramento police and the California Highway Patrol that officers knew in advance of the potential for a confrontation and that more than 100 police and CHP officers were standing watch on the perimeter of the Capitol grounds.

The flurry of violence began before the scheduled start of the noon rally organized by the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker Party, which had fewer than 30 members set to hold their event on the west steps of the Capitol. Confrontations between the two groups began before the event. More than 350 anti-fascist protesters descended on the Capitol grounds, vastly outnumbering the others and police.

Sacramento police say at least 10 people were injured in a series of melees. A bystander later turned in a loaded pistol found on the Capitol grounds.

None of the injuries are considered life-threatening and no arrests have been made. …

Again, I wasn’t there, but as I noted yesterday, I have to wonder how quickly the cops intervened and how well they were prepared; after all, the probable combustibility of the situation indeed had been known well in advance.
That said, while I agree with the anarchists on much, such as their anti-fascist and anti-rascist philosophies, I can’t say that I condone all of their actions, and it seems pretty clear that at least some of them went to the neo-Nazis’ little public appearance wanting a fight.
Admittedly, the line between fighting (literally) for social justice and just thuggery can be thin and/or blurry.

*I wrote back in February 2012:

… I have nothing against the anarchists. Anyone who goes after white supremacists who dare to spew forth their filth in the public square is fine with me, and the imagery of a bunch of supposedly bad-ass white supremacists fleeing from a mob of Occupy/“Occupy” protesters (most if not all of them actually anarchists) — the way that blacks have had to flee from mobs of white supremacists — is gratifyingly amusing.

And who knows? When/if the shit really hits the fan, I might join the anarchists’ ranks. (Black is slimming anyway…) …

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Keep calm and carry on; we’ll probably thank the Brits for braking globalization

I’m not an expert on economics or on British history, but lack of expertise on a topic almost never stops us Americans from voicing our opinions on it anyway.

On the economics of the Brexit — the United Kingdom’s 52-percent-to-48-percent vote on Thursday to leave the European Union — I tend to trust the opinion of left-leaning economist Robert Reich, who recently wrote on Facebook:

Britain’s exit from Europe hit the stock market hard yesterday, with the largest decline in stock values since late August last year – wiping away all the year’s stock market gains.

Don’t panic. Brexit won’t take effect for a while, and its economic consequences won’t be fully known for years. In reality, the U.S. stock market has been overvalued, and traders have been looking for an excuse for a selloff.

What worries me most is the global economy is in deep doo-doo – not just Europe but also China and much of Asia, and the U.S. economy has basically stopped growing.

Big American corporations aren’t investing in research or plant and equipment. And the 401(k) plans and IRAs that boomers are counting on for the retirements aren’t going anywhere, just as their wages haven’t gone anywhere.

We’re in a big stall – which exacerbates the anxiety fueling nationalism, Trump, Brexit, and much else.

I have a major problem with the nationalist/far-right-wing/fascist/white supremacist/xenophobic elements of the United Kingdom who supported the Brexit for their own odious personal political reasons, but it seems to me that this isn’t the only element of the Brexit — and that it isn’t the largest element.

The Brexit, it seems to me, also involves questions of national sovereignty and the age-old debate of whether centralized control or local control is preferable; that is a debate that in my eyes is not essentially a left-wing or a right-wing debate and that has been raging in the United States since its founding, with “states’ rights” still being an “argument” today (it’s an “argument” that usually is made so that backasswards states may continue their wrongdoing, such as the violation of individuals’ civil rights and the despoliation of the environment for profiteers without interference from the federal government).

The United States never significantly would cede its sovereignty to a group of (neighboring) nations (there are even those, mostly on the right, who say that the United States’ involvement in the United Nations is too much), so Americans who criticize the Brits who voted for and won the Brexit might want to check themselves.

The U.S. and the UK also take a lot of criticism for not throwing their borders wide fucking open, when, in fact, they’re already in the top five nations with the most immigrants (the U.S. is No. 1 and the UK is No. 5) and when there are many developed nations that are much more restrictive on immigration than are the U.S. and the UK (such as China, Japan and Switzerland).

Why should the burden of world immigration fall on only a handful of developed nations? (Of course I understand and agree with the argument that those who have more can and should do more, but is there no limit, no breaking point?)

And the fact is that national sovereignty — national self-determination — gives a nation the right to have as draconian an immigration policy as it pleases. It’s up to that nation to determine its own immigration policy, no matter what other nations think of it.

Also, of course, there is the issue of globalization, of which the European Union is a part.

Globalization is just the argument of centralized vs. localized control writ large, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both localized control and centralized control.

Globalization helps many but at the same time the fact that it’s pushed for so hard by the plutocrats certainly indicates that it’s meant to benefit them much more than it’s meant to benefit us commoners.

Indeed, globalization as it is practiced makes it easier for transnational corporate weasels to rape, pillage and plunder the entire fucking planet with impunity, leaving their victims relatively powerless to fight back, as their own nations’ governments are weaker than are the transnational corporations, especially if their own nations’ governments are part of something like the European Union, which the transnational corporate weasels can hijack with relative ease.

While many if not most Westerners tend to see the Brexit as the result of xenophobic nationalism — and again, that’s an element of the Brexit, for sure — it strikes me that it’s probably more likely that the larger issue for most of those who voted for the Brexit is that they’ve had enough of globalization and its effects, especially its economic effects.

Hopefully the Brexit is not a harbinger of a President Donald Trump — I rather doubt that it is, as I see anti-globalization and national sovereignty (and not xenophobia and fascism) to be the largest elements within the successful Brexit — and it’s quite possible that we Americans will come to thank our British cousins for having put the brakes on globalization, which harms us commoners more than it helps us.

There’s a lot to be said for local control and national sovereignty.

P.S. Calls for a second vote on the Brexit are blatantly anti-democratic. You don’t keep forcing a vote until you finally get the result that you want. That’s not democratic. That’s tyrannical. (And yes, there is plenty of tyranny on the so-called “left.”)

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Bernie claims he’s voting for Billary, but you probably safely can choose not to

BUR201600301SANDERS3

Burlington Free Press photo

Bernie Sanders votes in Vermont’s presidential primary election on March 1 in Burlington. Bernie claims that in November he will/would vote for Billary Clinton — to help stop Donald Trump — but as Vermont is a solidly blue state that will go to Billary anyway, under the winner-takes-all Electoral College, Bernie’s vote for Billary won’t/wouldn’t actually stop Trump. And statistically and practically speaking, your vote for president in November won’t matter, either — unless you live in a swing or toss-up state.

Bernie Sanders today told MSNBC that in November he will/would vote for Billary Clinton – in order to help stop Donald Trump from occupying the Oval Office.

Reuters called it “a lukewarm show of support that his campaign said was not a formal endorsement [of Billary].”

It was rather lukewarm, true, but was even a lukewarm show of support necessary?

Politically, it probably was. Because democratic socialist U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (probably wisely) chose to run as a Democrat rather than as an independent or third-party candidate, he pretty much is bound by the code of conduct of the partisan duopoly, which is that if you don’t win the duopolistic party’s presidential nomination (and he very most likely won’t), you (at least more or less) endorse the candidate who does. You’re widely considered to be an asshole if you don’t.

So I forgive Sanders’ “lukewarm show of support” for Billary because I view it as fairly politically necessary; we’re still in Rome (or maybe it’s more like King’s Landing in Westeros…).

But I do take issue with Bernie for very apparently having reinforced the we-must-support-Billary-because-Donald-Trump! mindset, which is about all that the Democratic Party establishment has left to offer us commoners.

For many years now the Democratic Party has assumed that a huge swath of the American electorate – those of us who are left of center – have nowhere else to go and that therefore we’ll tolerate this “lesser”-of-two-evils bullshit indefinitely, and thus vote out of fear indefinitely.

When we commoners do nothing to stop this cycle, but instead go along with it obediently like bleating sheeple, we have only ourselves to blame over the fact that the Democratic Party doesn’t return to progressivism, but continues its corporatism.

Bernie promised to return the party to progressivism, and so that’s why it is disappointing to see him jump on the “What?-Do-you-want-Trump?” bandwagon.

Because the president of the United States is chosen by the Electoral College and not by the popular vote, even if Bernie does vote for Billary in November (and because we have a secret ballot, we probably never will know whether he actually voted for her or not, but will have only his word on the matter), it won’t hurt Trump. At all.

That’s because Sanders’ home state of Vermont hasn’t gone to a Repugnican presidential candidate since 1988; Barack Obama won Vermont by around two-thirds of the vote in 2008 and in 2012. Vermont is highly unlikely to go to Trump or to any other Repugnican presidential candidate in November. (And even if it did, Vermont has a whopping three electoral votes in the winner-takes-all(-except-for-Maine-and-Nebraska) Electoral College.)

So: Bernie can’t say this because of the political constraints that are upon him, but I can:

This is what I suggest you do if you are a true progressive:

If, like I do*, you live in a solidly blue state that Billary Clinton no doubt will win** (and thus will win all of its electoral votes anyway), then feel perfectly free to not vote for her if you don’t feel good about voting for her.

You can vote for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, as I probably will, or you can vote for another candidate – or you can vote for no one at all for president. If you live in a solidly blue state, you do have options. It’s not only Billary or Trump.

Similarly, if you live in a solidly red state that Donald Trump (or whomever the Repugnican Tea Party presidential candidate will be) no doubt will win**, under the woefully outdated Electoral College your vote for Billary Clinton wouldn’t change the electoral-vote outcome of your state anyway, so if you don’t feel good about voting for Billary, then why do it? Why do that to yourself? Again, you do have options – you can vote for someone else or you can choose not to vote for the office of the presidency at all.

If you live in a true swing or toss-up state**, of which there aren’t all that many, then you must leave it to your conscience.

If you can’t stand Billary like I can’t, but you live in, say, Ohio or Florida and you really are concerned that if you don’t vote for Billary then you truly could be helping Trump to win your swing state and thus perhaps the White House, then by all means, follow your conscience and vote for Billary; I couldn’t really be mad at you for that.

But voting for Billary when you don’t really want to and when it’s not a necessity with the way that the Electoral College works – yeah, that just makes you dumb or an asshole or a dumb asshole.

*I live in California, which President Hopey-Changey won by around 60 percent of the vote in 2008 and in 2012, and, like Vermont, California last went to a Repugnican presidential candidate in 1988.

**If you’re not sure of the political makeup and presidential voting history of your state, you can check it at 270towin.com. (The website gets its name from the fact that it takes at least 270 electoral votes out of the 538 electoral votes possible for a candidate to win the White House.) Just click on your state for your state’s information.

For your convenience, here is a list of states that 270towin.com says are “safe” Billary Clinton (that is, solidly blue) states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington state, and the District of Columbia (which is not a state, of course, but which has three electoral votes).

Here is a list of states that 270towin.com says are “safe” Donald Trump (and thus, solidly red) states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

So: If you live in one of the 34 states listed above (or in D.C.), there is little to almost zero chance that we don’t already know today whether Billary Clinton or Donald Trump will/would win your state in November. (Presuming, of course, that those two presumptive nominees are the duopolistic parties’ presidential candidates in November.) Therefore, if you live in one of the 34 states listed above (or in D.C.), your vote for president in November in a sense already doesn’t count, since the winner-takes-all Electoral College gives all of a state’s electoral votes to the victor of that state.

This is the short list of states that, per 270towin.com, truly are “toss-up” states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. Again, I can’t hate you if you live in one of these seven states and vote for Billary; your vote there would or at least could make a difference. (Indeed, one might argue that these are the only states whose presidential elections in November will matter in determining the national outcome…)

According to 270towin.com these states either are “likely” to be won by Billary or “lean” toward her: Minnesota, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin; and these states either are “likely” to be won by Trump or “lean” toward him: Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri.

Most of these nine “likely” or “leaning” states are purplish, so if you live in one of these states and vote for Billary out of fear that if you don’t then you’re possibly helping Trump, I probably could forgive you.

But, again: If you live in a solidly blue or solidly red state and it’s already clear that Billary or Trump will win your state, and you vote for Billary even though you don’t want to – yeah, hell has a spot waiting for you. (And you’ll have to spend eternity in the company of the doddering war criminal Madeleine Albright. Think about that.)

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Omar Mateen’s alleged lover: ‘He was looking for love’ in a homophobic world

The United States of America long has been like one big dysfunctional family, and like the gun massacres before it, the Orlando gun massacre has served much as a national Rorschach test.

American Islamophobes have called the Orlando massacre “radical Islamic terrorism” (or some close version of that) since this conveniently fits their (usually homophobic!) worldview, even though it apparently has been much more about homophobia than about Islam, and even though fundamentalist Christians and Jews are quite homophobic, too. (Less than a year ago, an “ultra-Orthodox” Jewish man stabbed six people at a gay pride event in Jerusalem. This was after he’d already similarly stabbed people in 2005 and served prison time for it. Um, yeah.)

Of course the Orlando massacre has resurrected the pro- and the anti-gun-control camps, who focus more on the weapons that were used to commit the violence more than they focus on the victims of the violence and on what drives unstable people (usually men) to violence.

And race hustlers — you know, self-serving, egomaniacal people of color who, ironically, are as obsessed with race as are white supremacists (and who, just like white supremacists, paradoxically, usually consider their own race to be superior to others) — have tried to make the Orlando massacre all about race. In (Only) Black Lives Matter style, some race hustlers even recently jaw-droppingly utterly shamelessly commandeered a vigil for the Orlando victims and proclaimed that the massacre actually was all about race (most of the 49 victims were Latino and some of them were black*:

).

It’s correct that race and sexual orientation (and age and gender and…) often intersect, but Jesus Fucking Christ, early on it was pretty crystal clear that Omar Mateen shot up the gay nightclub in Orlando on June 12 not because it was filled with brown-skinned people whom he hated for being brown-skinned, but because it was filled with non-heterosexual people (indeed, most of the dead in the carnage were gay men).

In fact, ironically, a gay Latino man who claims now to have been Mateen’s down-low lover has claimed that Mateen liked brown-skinned men.

The Spanish-language Univision reported yesterday:

Omar Mateen, the Muslim gunman who committed the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, was “100 percent” gay and bore a grudge against Latino men because he felt used by them, according to a man who says he was his lover for two months.

“I’ve cried like you have no idea. But the thing that makes me want to tell the truth is that he didn’t do it for terrorism. In my opinion he did it for revenge,” he told Univision Noticias anchor Maria Elena Salinas in an exclusive interview in English and Spanish [yesterday].

He said Mateen was angry and upset after a man he had sex with later revealed he was infected with the HIV virus [sic — “HIV virus” is redundant].

Asked why he decided to come forward with his story, he said: “It’s my responsibility as a citizen of the United States and a gay man.”

The man said he had approached the FBI and been interviewed three times in person by agents.

Univision was unable to independently verify his account. The FBI confirmed to Univision that it had met with him.

The man, who did not want his true identity revealed, agreed to an interview wearing a disguise and calling himself Miguel. Speaking in fluent Spanish and accented English, he said he met Mateen last year through a gay dating site and began a relationship soon after. He and Mateen were “friends with benefits,” he said.

He described Mateen as “a very sweet guy” who never showed a violent side. He loved to be cuddled. “He was looking for love,” he said.

When Miguel heard about the massacre on the news he said he was stunned. “My reaction was that can’t be the man I know. It’s impossible that the man I know could do that,” he said.

Mateen opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle during a Latin-themed night at Pulse in the early hours of June 12, killing 49 people and wounding dozens more. He was killed in a shootout with police hours later. Most of the dead were Hispanic.

Investigators are still looking into the motives for his rampage.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch told reporters [yesterday] that investigators may never be able to pinpoint a single motive and have not ruled out witness reports suggesting Mateen might have had gay interests. “While we know a lot more about him in terms of who he was and what he did, I do not want to definitively rule out any particular motivation here,” she said.

In a 911 call from the club, Mateen pledged solidarity with the Islamic State group, and officials say he had explored websites of armed Islamic extremists.

Miguel recalled on one occasion Mateen expressed his criticism of the U.S. war on terrorism and the killing of innocent [Muslim] women and children. “I told him, ‘You’re totally right,'” said Miguel.

Mateen never revealed his name to him, saying only that he was 35 years old and married with a son [at the time of his death Mateen was married and had a son, but was 29 years old], Miguel told Univision. He said they met 15 to 20 times, the last occasion in late December. He said he believed Mateen’s second wife knew he frequented gay bars and that his marriage was a smoke screen to hide that he was “100 percent” gay.

“He adored Latinos, gay Latinos, with brown skin [emphasis mine] — but he felt rejected. He felt used by them — there were moments in the Pulse nightclub that made him feel really bad. Guys used him. That really affected him,” Miguel said. “I believe this crazy horrible thing he did — that was revenge.”

Mateen, who liked to drink, expressed frustration over his father’s extreme views on homosexuality, which included a belief that “gay people [are] the devil and gay people have to die,” Miguel said.

Mateen was especially upset after a sexual encounter with two Puerto Rican men, one of whom later revealed he was HIV positive, he added.

“He [Omar] was terrified that he was infected,” he said. “I asked him, ‘Did you do a test?’ Yes. He went to the pharmacy and did the test. … It came out negative, but it [the virus] doesn’t [show up on a test] right away. It takes four, five months.”

“When I asked him what he was going to do now, his answer was ‘I’m going to make them pay for what they did to me.'”

As Univision noted, this new information has not been independently verified, and of course it’s possible that “Miguel” is an attention whore who has made some, most or even all of this new information up, but “Miguel’s” details are so specific that I surmise that he’s telling the truth, at least for the most part.

Lots of things have intersected here. It’s true that the United States and Israel have slaughtered far more Muslims than vice versa over the past many years, and while I’m not Muslim (I don’t believe in “God” any more than I believe in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy), I’ve long noted the nauseatingly disproportionate body count, perhaps especially between the Palestinians and the Israelis. If it pisses me off and I’m not even a Muslim, I can’t blame any Muslim for being pissed off at how Christians and Jews have slaughtered Muslims in far greater numbers than vice-versa.

And indeed, the continued slaughter of innocent Muslims by the West keeps the jihadists going. Of course, that’s what the war hawks (most of them chicken hawks) in the United States and Israel want.

And I don’t for a nanosecond believe that the Second Amendment covers military-grade assault rifles, for fucking fuck’s sake. Nope. It couldn’t have, not when the Second Amendment was written long before these killing machines even existed.

And I applaud those Senate and House Democrats who recently have stood up to the Repugnican Tea Party in Congress, most of them treasonous whores for the National Rifle Association, on the subject of gun control, but one wonders if the Congressional Dems would have done this if it weren’t a presidential election year and if it weren’t a safer subject to go after. (Big corporate money in politics, for instance, is something that even most so-called Democrats don’t want to seriously address, because most of the legislators in D.C. are shameless corporate whores. Being against gun violence is about as safe as being steadfastly against terminal cancer and baby raping. It’s not what I’d call a particularly courageous stance.)

I never said that I’m not subject to the national Rorschach test myself.

As a gay man, I can’t help seeing the No. 1 cause of the Orlando massacre as having been homophobia.

While we may never know exactly what happened, Omar Mateen apparently was a closet case who chose to shoot up the gay nightclub because most of its inhabitants were gay. (That apparently is the truth, whether or not his motivation at least in part was concern about possibly having contracted HIV from one of the brown-skinned men whom he loved to be with.)

How devout a Muslim could Mateen have been if he drank and partied so much, as has been widely reported? If he did claim that he was acting as a jihadist, as has been reported, it could have been part of his closetedness — he was using Islam and the macho, macho jihad as his beard, so to speak — and/or out of his reported anger at how Muslims have been treated on the world stage.

But my money on the No. 1 cause of the Orlando massacre is homophobia.

Had Omar Mateen not grown up and lived in a homophobic environment — reportedly his home life was homophobic (his father says that he hasn’t forgiven him for what he did, but his father probably should be asking us for our forgiveness for the way that he apparently raised his son), and of course the world remains homophobic — then his reported quest for love might have been fulfilled.

And those 49 people whom we lost on June 12 most likely still would be with us today.

P.S. Out.com has bios on all 49 victims of homophobia here.

P.P.S. to the race hustlers and other identity-politics Nazis: You’re not progressives. You’re not helping anyone. Ironically, you’re not even helping yourselves, but are harming yourselves, and you need to stop hijacking public gatherings and trying to make them all about you, you sanctimonious, self-righteous, hypocritical, whiny little bitches.

Your interest group is one of many interest groups, and E pluribus unum. It’s long past time for you to stop acting in your own selfish, narrow interests and start acting in the interests of the whole.

That means stepping back and letting other interest groups have the spotlight sometimes, you stupid fucking selfish assholes.

P.P.P.S.: If you think that the issue here isn’t homophobia, but Mateen’s concern that he might have had contracted HIV (and sought revenge), know that where homophobia thrives, such as in the black and Latino communities, the contraction of HIV in “MSM” — “men who have sex with men,” which often is a clinical euphemism for closet cases but also includes out gay and bisexual men  — is much higher than it is within the general population.

Homophobia kills. Every day.

*And many of the victims were Puerto Rican, and many Puerto Ricans are a mix of Spanish and African blood.

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Sick of Bernie? You’ll miss him when he’s gone and it’s only about Donald

27DARCY-SANDERS4.jpg

No, despite Slate.com’s recent snarky headline “Bernie Sanders Officially Announces He Will Run for President Forever,” he won’t actually run for president forever.

Bernie’s last chance to be able to sway the Democratic Party super-delegates to his side at the party convention in late July was to have a big win in California’s primary election on June 7, but he lost California (which, despite the conspiracy theorists’ angst, is not shocking, as Billary Clinton also beat Barack Obama in the 2008 California primary; I don’t know what’s wrong with Californians [well, I do have an inkling, actually, but that’s another post…]).

Even that plan (to win over the super-delegates after having won California) was a long shot for him, but now, Bernie’s only hope for the presidential nomination would be if Billary, say, had a major stroke or a major heart attack or died in a plane crash or bus crash or was indicted for some crime.

Bernie won’t win the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination unless one of those kinds of scenarios comes to pass, but he does have the right to continue through the convention. He has more than earned that. Against a deck stacked against him, he garnered 45 percent of the pledged delegates (the delegates more-or-less-democratically elected in the primary elections and caucuses).

Think about that: a 74-year-old self-described democratic socialist from Vermont with glasses, wild white hair and a Brooklyn accent whom most Americans have known for only about a year now garnered 45 percent of the vote against Billary Clinton, who has been around longer than has dirt, and whose resume includes first lady, U.S. senator, U.S. secretary of state, and two-time presidential contender. (She is great at holding titles, but interestingly, she sure doesn’t have any real accomplishments to list on her resume.)

The Democratic Party establishment didn’t go down this time, but next time, it certainly can (and probably will); from having blatantly ignored the needs and the desires of us, the people, because for decades now it has been too busy catering to the desires of the corporatists and the plutocrats, the Democratic Party establishment is weak and is ripe for toppling.

For Bernie to drop out now would be to forestall that long-past-due toppling, which he apparently recognizes. (See this pretty good piece on Vox.com on this topic.)

An associate of mine has the theory that Bernie won’t drop out between now and the Dem Party convention because he wants to prevent another Dem convention conflagration like we saw in 1968. Maybe, but perhaps such a conflagration is unavoidable anyway; it has, after all, been that kind of presidential election cycle.

Although this protracted primary battle has been a bit fatiguing, I’m not mad about Bernie taking it to the convention, and if you’re mad at him, reflect upon the fact that not even a year ago, Billary Clinton proudly publicly proclaimed that she is “moderate and center.”

Were Bernie to go away now, Billary would return to the center-right even more quickly than she most likely is going to do anyway. At the very least, Bernie can force her to have to at least pay lip service to progressive values, beliefs and ideas at least through the convention.

If Billary were trustworthy and had integrity and didn’t have a center-right, Democratic-in-name-only, Repugnican-Lite record, Bernie could have exited already, knowing that she’d keep any promises to be more progressive.

So blame Billary for being a DINO, and don’t blame Bernie, for his hanging in there for as long as possible.

If Bernie if nothing else successfully changes the party’s presidential nominating process, such as by eliminating super-delegates and requiring open primary elections in all of the states that hold primary elections (that is, allowing at least independents as well as registered Democrats to vote)** — as he is trying to do — then with his presidential campaign he will have achieved something significant.

Bernie Sanders has run a valiant campaign, and the nation owes him gratitude that he probably never will receive (Americans aren’t very good with the gratitude thing).

The weeks before and the months after the Dem Party convention are going to (continue to) be dismal. As the Democratic Party establishment has done next to fucking nothing for us commoners over the past many, many years, their only “message” will be a message of FEAR of DONALD TRUMP!!!

I’d say that we deserve better than that, but since we don’t fight for more than that (true, some of us do, but most of us don’t), it probably is exactly all that we deserve.

*California doesn’t certify its June 7 primary election until July 15, but as I type this sentence, Bernie has 44.5 percent of the vote that has been counted thus far in California, which is in line with how he has done nationwide.

Alas, California is a reliably blue state, but it isn’t as far to the left as are the other two Left Coast states (Oregon and Washington), both of which went to Bernie.

**The caucuses probably should go, too, as they are open to too much chicanery and don’t allow people who must be at work and people who can’t easily leave their homes to have their voice heard. The caucuses should be replaced with primary elections, and I’d rather that we have one nationwide primary election day rather than spreading the primary-season voting out over several months, but these two latter reforms are more unlikely to occur any election cycle soon than are the reforms that Bernie is suggesting now.

Also, of course, the Electoral College needs to be scrapped. We should have scrapped it long ago and replaced it with a simple popular vote. If it’s good enough that we choose our governors and U.S. senators by a popular vote, then it’s good enough that we choose our presidents with a popular vote, too.

If we chose our presidents by a popular vote, you could say with at least some credibility that when I don’t vote for Billary in November (I’ll probably vote for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein again) I have helped Trump, but since we have the winner-takes-all Electoral College, my not voting for Billary in November won’t matter at all, since I live in a solidly blue state and all of its 55 electoral votes already are assured to Billary.

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For gun massacres, it takes a village

<p>Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse night club, where as many as 20 people have been injured after a gunman opened fire, in Orlando, June 12, 2016. (REUTERS/Steve Nesius) </p>

Reuters photo

Distraught individuals comfort each other at the Orlando Police Department headquarters after the United States’ worst gun massacre in history at a gay nightclub early this morning in Orlando, Florida. Because most of the victims were gay men, whose lives are expendable, this latest gun massacre won’t be in the national discussion for very long, though, and this latest American massacre demonstrates that although same-sex couples’ constitutional right to marry finally was recognized a year ago this month, plenty of ignorance surrounding and hatred toward non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals remains.

What a quandary for American wingnuts and other homophobes! The largest slaughter of innocent Americans on American soil since 9/11 — perpetrated by a Muslim man, of course* — must be condemned, but at the same time, most if not all of the Muslim’s victims were queers!

Seriously — this is a conundrum, since most American haters of Muslims hate non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals, too; homophobia is something that fundamentalist Christians, Muslims and Jews all have in common.

I say this with confidence: Even though early this morning we saw the largest shooting massacre in American history (50 fatalities [including the gunman] at the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida), we won’t talk about this gun massacre for nearly as long as we talked about the last gun massacre, the one in San Bernardino, California, in which 14 people were slaughtered by a Muslim man and his Muslim wife in December.**

And that’s because heterosexual (and gender-conforming) lives still are valued much more than are non-heterosexual (and non-gender-conforming) lives in the United States of America.

I’m confident that just as millions of Americans (most of them self-identified “Christians”) believe that fags deserved to die of AIDS, millions of Americans (most of them self-identified “Christians”) believe that fags deserved to die in Orlando this morning. (These individuals of course would take issue with my use of the word “innocent” in the first paragraph.)

You know, though, even though I’m a gay man, I don’t feel a bunch of hatred toward the perpetrator, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, who was the son of immigrants from Afghanistan and a U.S. citizen (and who was shot dead by police after he’d committed his carnage).

Nor do I feel a generalized hatred toward Muslims, although I believe that their belief system, along with Christians’ and Jews’, is bullshit (with their “God” essentially being a Santa Claus figure on crack [He sees you when you’re sleeping/ He knows when you’re awake/ He knows if you’ve been bad or good/ So be good for goodness’ sake!]), and although I recognize that a relatively tiny percentage of them are capable of great evil (as is the case with all human beings).

I do, however, blame toxic, backasswards, patriarchal, misogynist and homophobic religion, with its hocus-pocus, bullshit beliefs, and I blame the fact that Omar Mateen was born and raised in a nation whose highest court not even a full year ago finally ruled that under the U.S. Constitution, non-heterosexual individuals have the same human and civil rights that heterosexuals do.

When it comes to massacres, it takes a village to make them happen, people.

We need to examine the village much more than we need to examine the perpetrators.*** They are the symptoms of the village that creates them.

*Actually, of course, it remains that case that a typical American is significantly more likely to be shot and killed in a mass shooting by a white person who considers himself to be a Christian than by a Muslim.

Um, yeah.

**The Los Angeles Times put out this graphic of past gun massacres in the United States:

Note that this latest gun massacre took a real leap in the body count from the previous record. The L.A. Times grimly keeps a growing, running roundup of gun massacres in the United States here.

***That said, I’m confident that Mateen was mentally ill (his ex-wife has said that he was) — you can’t massacre people unless you are mentally ill (and the mentally ill widely don’t get the help that they need in the United States) — spurred on by the ignorance and hatred within his environment (including, of course, the ignorance and hatred that routinely is spewed within religion in the name of “God”), and, of course, I have to wonder if he was battling with homosexual urges himself.

I mean, reportedly he went ballistic when he saw two men kissing in public in Miami recently.

Why? Why would that drive you to shoot up a gay nightclub, if you were heterosexual and comfortable with your heterosexuality?

It seems to me quite possible that the sick and twisted Mateen, by killing gay men who unabashedly were being who they are in public (at least in the nightclub), was trying to kill the homosexuality within himself.

Finally, I don’t wish to exclude lesbians from mention, but the official list of victims in the Orlando massacre that has been released thus far indicates that most of the victims were male and Latino. I don’t know if any lesbians were killed, too. I see one female name on the list, and I don’t know what her sexual orientation was, and of course not all of the males slaughtered there necessarily were gay, but, it being a gay nightclub, I’m guessing (safely, methinks) that most if not all of them were.

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