Tag Archives: Georgia

Mississippi is still burning

AFP/Getty Images news photo

“President” Pussygrabber appears with appointed Repugnican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith at a rally in Mississippi in October. He stands behind her not only literally but also figuratively.

Some who have read my rants against identity politics might conclude that I don’t take racism and sexism (and other bad -isms) seriously. I do, which is why I have a problem with identity politics, which too often devolves into anti-white racism and misandry, but right now we’re talking about white racism.

We’re talking about Repugnican Cindy Hyde-Smith, who on Tuesday will vie in a run-off election in Mississippi to finish out the U.S. Senate term of Repugnican Thad Cochran, who retired on April 1, citing health issues, and whose unfinished term ends in January 2021.

Upon Cochran’s resignation Hyde-Smith was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Mississippi’s Repugnican governor in April, but she had to face the voters earlier this month in order to keep the seat until it comes up for election again in November 2020. Because no candidate won more than 50 percent in this month’s election, the run-off is on Tuesday.

First, Hyde-Smith drew attention to herself when she said of a political supporter, on video, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

Mississippi had more lynchings than any other state, according to the NAACP, which puts Georgia at No. 2 and Texas at No. 3. Yet Hyde-Smith claimed that “this comment was twisted and it was turned into a weapon to be used against me.” It’s interesting how quickly wingnuts turn from casual victimizers to “the victimized.”

Then came the revelation from the Jackson Free Press, a Mississippi newspaper, that as a high-schooler Hyde-Smith had attended an all-white “segregation academy” whose yearbook was called The Rebel.

The newspaper reports:

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith attended and graduated from a segregation academy that was set up so that white parents could avoid having to send their children to schools with black students, a yearbook reveals.

A group photo in the 1975 edition of The Rebel — the Lawrence County Academy yearbook — illustrates the point. High-school cheerleaders smile at the camera as they lie on the ground in front of their pom-poms, fists supporting their heads. In the center, the mascot, dressed in what appears to be an outfit designed to mimic that of a Confederate general, offers a salute as she holds up a large Confederate flag.

[Here is the yearbook photo the newspaper published:

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith appears third from the right in a 1975 yearbook photo of cheerleaders at Lawrence County Academy. The mascot appears in the middle dressed as a Confederate colonel holding a rebel flag.

Apparently the high-schoolers called themselves “the rebels.” Nice.]

Third from the right on the ground is a sophomore girl with short hair, identified in the caption as Cindy Hyde.

The photo, and the recently appointed Republican senator’s attendance at one of the many private schools that was set up to bypass integration, adds historic context to comments she made in recent weeks about a “public hanging” that drew condemnations from across the political spectrum.

Lawrence County Academy opened in the small town of Monticello, Miss., about 60 miles south of Jackson, in 1970. That same year, another segregation school, Brookhaven Academy, opened in nearby Lincoln County. Years later, Hyde-Smith would send her daughter, Anna-Michael, to that academy.

Hyde-Smith graduated from Lawrence County Academy in 1977, meaning she would have already been in school elsewhere at the time the academy opened.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court ordered public schools to desegregate in 1954 and again in 1955 to do so with “all deliberate speed,” Mississippi slow-walked the integration of its schools as long as possible, trying a variety of “school choice” schemes, state legislation and court cases to stop full integration, including arguing that white kids should not go to school with so-called “genetically inferior” black students. …

The [Lawrence County Academy] yearbook, provided to the Jackson Free Press by a former student who asked not to be named, is one of very few pieces of evidence still available that identify the segregation academy as the recently appointed senator’s alma mater.

While Hyde-Smith regularly touts her subsequent education at Copiah-Lincoln Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi, her high school has been conspicuously absent from the senator’s official statements, speeches and public biographies. Even her Facebook account suggests her education began with community college. …

Lawrence County Academy shut down in the late 1980s due to dwindling attendance — one of the now-defunct early [segregated] schools that sprang up in response to integration. Among those that survived, though, was Brookhaven Academy, where Hyde-Smith chose to send her daughter, Anna-Michael. …

As many have pointed out, Hyde-Smith might not have had a choice if her parents sent her to the segregation academy, but Hyde-Smith certainly knew what she was doing when she sent her daughter to a segregation academy.

And if there were no shame about having attended the segregation academy, then why does Hyde-Smith never divulge where she went to high school?

Tomorrow, “President” Pussygrabber, who has campaigned for Hyde-Smith before, is to headline two rallies for her in Mississippi.

Andd the Repugnicans complain that their party is so unfairly painted as racist and white supremacist.

No, it simply is that we judge you by the company that you keep.

One of the many reasons that I never vote for a Repugnican is that the party is the party of the former slave states that committed treason when they seceded after the election of Abraham Lincoln (my favorite U.S. president, I’ll add).

Of course, treason wasn’t the slave states’ largest crime; what they did to the black slaves — awful crimes against humanity — was their largest crime.

Any political candidate who associates himself or herself with the Repugnican Party cannot credibly dissociate himself or herself from the stances that the party has taken, which include white racism and white supremacism, anti-labor unionism and pro-plutocracy, misogyny and patriarchy, homophobia, xenophobia, anti-semitism, anti-environmentalism, etc., etc.

The Civil War never really ended, obviously, and we Northerners (literal and philosophical Northerners) must continue to fight it.

In the meantime, on Tuesday Hyde-Smith faces former Democrat Mike Espy, who is a black, and the Mississippi Clarion Ledger notes:

… National Democratic fundraising groups and leaders believe [that Espy] has a chance, especially after recent comments by Hyde-Smith talking about voter suppression and attending a “public hanging.”

They are pumping last-minute cash into the race, as prominent names such as Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker visited to drum up excitement for the former U.S. representative and U.S. agriculture secretary.

The last time a Democrat from Mississippi was elected to the Senate was 1982; the last time a black senator represented Mississippi was shortly after the Civil War.

An Espy win won’t give Democrats control in the Senate, but it could signal a larger political shift in the historically conservative South. Yet Espy often downplays the historic nature of his run.

“I’m proud of that but I’m not dwelling on it,” he said in another recent interview. “I want to be a senator for everyone. I’m trying to get votes from everyone, regardless of race, or age, or gender, or sexual orientation, or disability — or even party. I’m going to Republicans and Democrats talking about the issues that concern them.”

Despite a long-shot bid for any Democrat — Trump won Mississippi by 18 points in 2016 and has endorsed Hyde-Smith — Espy has generated several bursts of national attention and excitement on the campaign trail in recent weeks. Sometimes, they have been thanks to his opponent’s mistakes. …

Yes, but we’re still dealing with the South. In Florida, the purplest of the Southern states, Repugnican Ron DeSantis, running for governor against Democrat Andrew Gillum, who is black, infamously warned the state’s voters not to “monkey this up” by electing Gillum, and DeSantis still won (“won”?).

This Civil War has been a long, hard slog.

P.S. Peter Berkowitz is on the right, but I do agree with this take of his on identity politics (you knew that I couldn’t resist):

… Identity politics … directs students [and everyone else, I’d argue] to think of themselves as members of a race, class, or gender first and primarily, and then to define their virtue in terms of the degree of oppression that they believe the group with which they identify has suffered.

It demotes the individual rights shared equally by all that undergird American constitutional government, while distributing group rights based on its self-proclaimed hierarchy of grievances. It imperiously pronounces collective guilt and summarily rejects appeals. It nurtures a sense of victimhood in those it purports to protect and empower.

In the guise of fighting domination, it aims to impose its will on all. In these ways and more, identity politics trains students [and, again, everyone else] to turn up the heat of the tribalism that threatens to engulf the nation. …

The sister doctrine of intersectionality adds that all crimes and sins committed by the unjustly privileged oppressors — typically white men — are indissolubly connected while righteousness inheres exclusively in the oppressed, comprising people of color and women. … [I]dentity politics affirms that victims are neatly distinguishable from, morally superior to, and entitled to greater political power than, the villains. …

None of this is to minimize what historically oppressed groups — including mine (gay men) — have suffered throughout way-too-often-ugly American history. And I agree with only some of what Berkowitz has to say in his column to which I linked (his advocacy for home-schooling and for charter schools, for instance, I disagree with); and even though I agree with some of his points, which are logical and which jibe with my own observations and experiences, I do question his overall motives, frankly.

But this is to point out that it’s very, very easy, if we let them, for the victims (and the “victims” — that is, those who aren’t actually victimized today but who nonetheless cravenly falsely claim victimization for personal and political gain) to become the victimizers.

When we say that human beings shouldn’t be treated based upon their race or biological sex (or upon other demographics/traits), but upon the content of their character, we mean it or we don’t.

If we oppose oppression only when it’s our own group that’s being oppressed, then we are in the grip of toxic identity politics. And that is worlds apart from the true spirits of diversity and of liberty and justice for all.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

For too many, their main problem with Bernie Sanders remains that he is white

Updated below (on Monday, November 12, 2018)

Bernie Sanders and Andrew Gillum.

Associated Press photo

Bernie Sanders campaigned relentlessly for Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, but for too many, Bernie remains unacceptable as a Democratic Party presidential nominee because he is a white man, whether they’ll come out and say that or not.

The 2020 Democratic Party primary fight has begun, because already it’s being declared yet once again that Bernie Sanders isn’t good enough on black issues.

Before I delve into that, let me make a point: We’ve never had a Latino U.S. president (and Latinos comprise the largest non-white racial group in the United States). Or a Native American president. Or an Asian president. Or an openly non-heterosexual and/or non-gender-conforming president. Or, for fuck’s sake, even a biologically female president. We haven’t even had an openly non-“Christian” U.S. president; claiming to be a Christian, as even Pussygrabber has, always has been a prerequisite to sit in the Oval Office.

Yet many so-called Democratic voters, if the next Democratic Party presidential nominee isn’t black, are going to scoop up their marbles and go home. (Not that that is racist or black supremacist or anything…)

So the latest “controversy” that “proves” that Bernie Sanders actually is a crypto-white supremacist is a recent remark attributed to him by The Daily Beast, which reported three days ago:

Democratic officials woke Wednesday morning searching for answers as to why the party was unable to win several marquee Senate and gubernatorial races the night before.

But for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the explanation was simple. The candidates who under-performed weren’t progressive enough; those who didn’t shy away from progressivism were undone, in part, by “racist” attacks.

“I think you know there are a lot of white folks out there who are not necessarily racist who felt uncomfortable for the first time in their lives about whether or not they wanted to vote for an African-American,” Sanders told The Daily Beast, referencing the close contests involving Andrew Gillum in Florida and Stacey Abrams in Georgia and ads run against the two. “I think next time around, by the way, it will be a lot easier for them to do that.”

Sanders wasn’t speaking as a mere observer but, rather, as someone who had invested time and reputation on many of the midterm contests. The Vermonter, who is potentially considering another bid for the presidency in 2020, mounted an aggressive campaign travel schedule over the past few months and endorsed both Abrams and Gillum. He also has a personal political investment in the notion that unapologetic, authentic progressive populism can be sold throughout the country and not just in states and districts that lean left.

Surveying the victories and the carnage of Tuesday’s results, Sanders framed it as a vindication of that vision. The candidates who performed well even though they lost, he said, offered positive progressive views for the future of their states, including Gillum, Abrams, and Texas Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke. Those who were heavily defeated, Sanders said, didn’t galvanize young voters, people of color, and typically non-active voters.

“I think you got to contrast that to the votes of conservative Democrats who did not generate a great deal of excitement within the Democratic Party,” Sanders said, alluding to a host of Senate Democrats who lost re-election on Tuesday night. “[They] did not bring the kind of new people, new energy that they needed and ended up doing quite poorly. In admittedly difficult states. Missouri and Indiana are not easy states, but neither is Florida or Georgia or Texas.” …

Sanders … credited Abrams with a “brilliant campaign” for her efforts to bring non-active Democratic voters into the electoral process. He marveled at O’Rourke’s fundraising prowess, which allowed the Texas Democrat to raise $38 million in the third quarter of this year — the largest of any Senate candidate in history — and earn more than 48 percent of the vote against incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). And he noted that Gillum helped generate turnout that led to the successful passing of Amendment 4, which will restore voting rights to 1.5 million convicted felons in Florida. [This is great news that would warrant a blog post on its own, but I can do only so much…]

“I think he’s a fantastic politician in the best sense of the word,” Sanders said of Gillum. “He stuck to his guns in terms of a progressive agenda. I think he ran a great campaign. And he had to take on some of the most blatant and ugly racism that we have seen in many, many years. And yet he came within a whisker of winning.” …

Of course the anti-Berners ignore the second paragraph (and, well, every other paragraph as well) and focus like a laser on the third, which contains the juicy quote, “I think you know there are a lot of white folks out there who are not necessarily racist who felt uncomfortable for the first time in their lives about whether or not they wanted to vote for an African-American.”

On the bare face of that, of course I disagree with it. If you are a white voter who feels uncomfortable voting for a candidate primarily or solely because the candidate is not white, then you are racist, whether you’re fully conscious of it or not. Even just an “innocent” belief that elected officials “should” be white because that’s what you are accustomed to is, of course, deeply rooted in racism.

But I don’t know exactly what Bernie meant by his statement, and therefore I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Did Bernie mean that some white Democratic primary voters, knowing how racist their states are, hesitated to vote for black candidates because they figured that they’d only lose in the general election because of the racism in their states? Not wanting to lose an election because of racism doesn’t make you racist yourself, and it seems to me that there is a good chance that this is what Bernie was trying to say, albeit woefully inartfully.

What about white voters in Georgia and Florida who didn’t vote for either Abrams or Gillum primarily because they believe that Abrams and Gillum are “socialist” and they won’t vote for a “socialist”? Or primarily because their political tribalism precludes them from voting for anyone outside of the Repugnican Party (even if they wouldn’t brand Abrams or Gillum a “socialist,” although they probably would)?

“Socialist” Bernie Sanders campaigned for Abrams and Gillum relentlessly, not just in person, but in many, many e-mails (including, of course, fundraising e-mails for them) that I received myself over the course of months. Wouldn’t that be enough to brand Abrams and Gillum “socialist” at least by association?

Is it always simply about race? Always?

It’s also possible, it seems to me, that Bernie Sanders, if he was quoted accurately by The Daily Beast, was trying to be overly diplomatic in trying to win over some white voters who tend to vote only for whites by giving them an out on the charge that they are racist — believing that if you label them as racists, of course they’ll never consider voting for you.

That’s certainly not a tack that I would take, but if that’s what Bernie was trying to do (not likely but not impossible, from what I can tell), was it unforgivable? No. I’d call it rather stupid and inadvisable, as well as unnecessary (I don’t believe in coddling racists, or that it’s politically necessary to do so), but not evil. 

Full disclosure: I am a gay white male progressive and I have given both Abrams and Gillum campaign contributions ($30 each, if you must know; how much did you give to either of them?), and I hope that they ultimately win; Florida started a recount of its gubernatorial, U.S. Senate and some other races yesterday, and in Georgia, if the finalized vote count puts Abrams’ despicable Repugnican opponent below 50.0 percent, then there will be a runoff election early next month.

I gave to Abrams and Gillum in part because they’re black in that I believe in a truly representative democracy. How soul-crushing it must be to live in Georgia, for instance, which is about a third black, and never see yourself represented in the governor’s mansion or in the U.S. Senate for your state. That’s some fucked-up shit.

But I wouldn’t have given a penny to Gillum or Abrams if they were Repugnicans (I judge you by the company that you keep!) or if they didn’t espouse progressivism but instead espoused the stand-for-nothing, do-nothing, pro-corporate centrism that the likes of DINO Claire McCaskill still espouses even though her sorry arse just got tossed from the U.S. Senate for being a worthless, milquetoast piece of shit.

I have supported Abrams and Gillum primarily because they are progressive; that they have stood a chance of making our democracy (what’s left of it, anyway) more representative of all of the people has been the icing on the cake, but not the cake itself.

That’s why I find it disturbing that so many so-called Democrats don’t care how progressive a (so-called) Democratic candidate is or is not; all that they care about is that he or she is black and calls him- or herself a Democrat.

I don’t support Kamala Harris for the White House for 2020 because as attorney general of California she was rather unremarkable and because she hasn’t been in the U.S. Senate for even two full years yet. Her getting cheeky in some Senate hearings, while laudable (and at least somewhat entertaining or at least gratifying if not entertaining), is not enough to vote for her for president in 2020.

And Cory “I Am Spartacus” Booker is just another corporate whore. As one black commentator put it early last year:

… The Democrats leading the charge against Trump must meet exacting qualifications. They have to be loyal servants of the one-percenters, of banksters, hedge funds, charter school sugar daddies and privatizers of all kinds. They must be dependable supporters of apartheid Israel, of military contractors, drone warfare and U.S. military interventions of all kinds around the world.

To boost their party’s fortunes in this new era, Democratic party spokespeople need to be gifted hypocrites willing to pose as advocates of immigrants and champions of civil liberties going forward, even though they unflinchingly supported the biggest deportation and mass surveillance regimes in history implemented by the Democrat who just left the White House. They must focus narrowly on the handful of issues on which corporate Dems actually disagree with Republicans like abortion rights, and not stray to areas which might indict their own party along with Republicans.

And they must absolve their party of responsibility for running an incompetent campaign by blaming the Russians. Hillary is history, but her big stinking tent is still there, and Democrats are crying for a “united front” against Trump, led by spokespeople who can stick to the corporate script.

Cory Booker is a great fit. …

Yup. We were punk’d by Barack Obama, who barely lifted a finger to push through a progressive agenda and who accomplished little outside of some spiffy speeches. He was dignified, sure, but he actually did next to nothing. Shame on us if we’re punk’d again by an Obama 2.0, such as Cory Booker and probably such as Kamala Harris.

On that note, The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake is out with his quasi-quarterly rankings of the competitors for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential candidates. Here are his top five now, from one to five: Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden and Cory Booker.

I find Harris’ spot at No. 3 inexplicable. She hasn’t even been well known here in my home state of California, so how she could win a presidential election eludes me entirely. I did vote in November 2016 to send her to the U.S. Senate, but she hasn’t proven herself there, as it hasn’t even been two fucking years yet.

Obama had been in the U.S. Senate for only four years of his first six-year term before he ascended to the White House (his naivete of the “Game of Thrones”-like workings of D.C. was glaring) and that was a huge mistake, one in which I won’t participate again.

For a long time, if not always, Aaron Blake had put Bernie Sanders at No. 1, so Bernie’s slippage to No. 2 on Blake’s rankings to me indicates that perhaps Warren is seen by the Beltway establishment as the perfect fusion/hybrid of an establishment candidate like Billary Clinton and a populist candidate like Bernie Sanders; she’s to be a parting gift for us Berners. But that’s the coward’s way out.

I can support Warren if she fairly and democratically emerges as the presidential nominee, as she is my second choice behind Bernie, but I still have serious concerns about her ability to win a presidential election. I’ve said it a million times before, but I’ll say it again: I would expect her to get labeled as just another weak egghead from Massachusetts; I would expect her to get Michael Dukakis’d or John Kerry’d. (You heard it here, perhaps first.)

In the meantime, I expect Bernie Sanders to continue to be attacked as not good enough for blacks, even though as president the black front runners Kamala Harris and Cory Booker probably would do no more for black Americans than Obama did, but would be, like Obama was, mostly just symbolic — and even though it would be great, if we must apply affirmative action to our electoral politics, that we don’t demand only a white or a black president and continue to shut out all of the other groups that never have been represented in the White House.

And I expect Bernie’s continued support for black progressives like Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum to be dismissed cynically as just Bernie’s dishonest attempt to shore up his pro-black bona fides — this from actual racists and racial supremacists whose main problem with Bernie Sanders, today as it was the case in 2016, is that he is white (and of Jewish heritage).

These hypocrites must continue to call Bernie Sanders a racist in order to try to obscure their own racism and racial supremacism and their own rank, racist political motivations.

P.S. This is interesting: The Washington Post reports that just more than 2,000 voters (Democrats, Repugnicans and independents) in 69 battleground U.S. House districts were polled on November 5 and 6, and that those who reported that they supported a Democratic candidate (33 percent of the total number of those polled) were asked to give their preferences for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nominee.

The poll found that Joe Biden was their No. 1 choice, with 35 percent; Bernie Sanders was at No. 2, with 15 percent; Kamala Harris at No. 3, with 12 percent; Elizabeth Warren at No. 4, with 10 percent; and Cory Booker at No. 5, with 7 percent.

I don’t see Cory Booker winning (the vice presidential slot maybe), that’s for sure, and while I think that Aaron Blake probably accurately captured the top five candidates, I don’t agree with the order in which he ranked them.

For instance, while he put Warren at No. 1, the poll put her at No. 4.

Also, while Biden looks strong in the poll, what really matters to me, it seems, is which candidate, Biden or Bernie, if both of them run, inherits most of the support of the other candidates who drop out over time. For instance, if Warren were to drop out while Bernie and Biden were still in the running, I do believe that Bernie would inherit most of her supporters.

Also, of course, if Biden doesn’t run and Bernie does, I have to wonder how much of Biden’s support Bernie would get. (My best guess is that most of Biden’s support would go to the other much more establishmentarian candidates rather than to Bernie.)

All of that said, I’m not sure if polling voters in certain battleground districts is reflective of the field of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters as a whole, but, again, I do believe that with a high degree of accuracy, we can state that the top five contenders for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination (alphabetically) are Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

I am a little tempted by such dark-horse candidates as California U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell or lawyer Michael Avenatti, but if you haven’t been at least a governor or a U.S. senator, you’re probably never going to make it to the White House. I can’t say that I want to support a presidential candidate who has little to no chance of winning.

Bernie Sanders, as long as he runs, of course, remains and probably will remain my No. 1 choice until the final nominee emerges.

And yes, while I could not bring myself to vote for Repugnican Lite Billary Clinton in 2016, I’m most likely to vote for the Democratic nominee, even if it is not Bernie, over Pussygrabber in November 2020.

P.P.S. OK, I just stumbled upon a CNN poll taken early last month. The poll of Dems and Dem leaners put Biden at 33 percent, Bernie at 13 percent, and Harris at 9 percent. (Warren comes in just behind Harris, with 8 percent, and behind Warren comes Cory Booker, tied with John Kerry at 5 percent.)

I’m thinking that it’s probably safe to say that the top three are Biden, Bernie and Harris.

Biden, methinks, would represent the old-guard/establishmentarian vote (as well as a good chunk of the Obama-by-association/black vote, from which Billary benefited in 2016), Bernie would represent the progressive-regardless-of-race-or-sex vote, and Harris mostly would represent the non-white/identity-politics vote, and it might also help her that she’s a woman (speaking of identity politics, as taboo as that might be [rank tribalism over ideology in electoral politics is a fact]).

I don’t put Warren in the top three. In the top five, yes, but not in the top three. I think that the Beltway pundits overestimate her popularity among actual Dems and Dem leaners, many of whom, myself included, like her enough as an individual but just don’t see her beating Pussygrabber in 2020.

Update (Monday, November 12, 2018): I don’t want to do another P.S., so here’s some more discussion on this topic:

CNN inexplicably puts Kamala Harris at the front-runner for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, as though Beltway wishful thinking were fact (maybe there is something to that “fake news” charge…).

Seriously, though, here is CNN’s Beltway-wishful-thinking-filled ranking, in this order: Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar(!), Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders (at No. 6!), et. al.

Right.

The polls — you know, surveys of the voters who actually will decide this thing (not CNN’s “analysts”) — show something quite different. Another poll, this one from Politico/Morning Consult of 733 Dem and Dem-leaning registered voters taken from Wednesday through Friday, shows Joe Biden with 26 percent, Bernie with 19 percent, Beto O’Rourke with 8 percent, Elizabeth Warren with 5 percent, Kamala Harris with only 4 percent, and Cory Booker with only 3 percent.

So while CNN dreams of Kamala Harris — its “analysts” fantasize that the “2018 election convinced us that Harris seems to be exactly what Democratic voters are telling the party and its politicians they want representing them going forward,” Politico reports something else:

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) enter the 2020 election cycle as the leaders for the Democratic presidential nomination to take on President Donald Trump, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted in the immediate aftermath of last week’s midterms.

More than a quarter of Democratic voters, 26 percent, say Biden is their first choice to be the Democratic nominee. Another one-in-five, 19 percent, would pick Sanders, the runner-up for the nomination in 2016.

The two septuagenarians — Biden will be 77 on Election Day, 2020, and Sanders will be 79 — are the only two prospective candidates to garner double-digit support. The third-place candidate is Rep. Beto O’Rourke (R-Texas), who built national name-recognition through his losing Senate bid last week, with 8 percent. …

I surmise that O’Rourke will flame out as a presidential contender for 2020, and that he came in at third place in the poll only because of the immediacy of the midterm election (and he did do well for Texas), but all (or at least almost all) of the reputable recent nationwide polls consistently put Biden at No. 1 and Bernie at No. 2.

Because CNN puts Bernie at a laughable No. 6, I surmise that we can expect CNN to attack Bernie throughout the entire process, because CNN’s “woke” “analysts” don’t want Bernie to win. 

Don’t get me wrong; I certainly right now don’t count Kamala Harris out (I pretty much count Booker out, and I’m on the verge of counting Warren out if her polling doesn’t improve), but, again, the polls of Dem and Dem-leaning voters thus far show that the top two front-runners are Biden and Bernie, whether the identity politicians like it or not.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

We are at the beginning of the end of our long national nightmare

Updated below (on Wednesday, November 7, 2018)

As I type this sentence, Politico reports that the Democrats are projected to take back the U.S. House of Representatives.

That is the one and only thing that I really, really wanted to happen in today’s elections, if nothing else good happened.

If a Democratic U.S. House and a Repugnican U.S. Senate results in gridlock for at least the next two years, then so fucking be it. The Repugnicans stymied President Barack Obama when they took back the House in November 2010 and held it for the rest of his presidency. (Not that Obama was an ambitious progressive anyway, but still…) Payback is a bitch.

Just as the unelected, illegitimate “President” Pussygrabber ramps up his fascism, including sending troops to the southern border to “protect” us from impoverished, desperate human beings (just like Jesus would do!), talking about shooting any rock-throwing immigrants (er, “illegals”), and talking about unilaterally altering the U.S. Constitution by executive order, it’s time to rein in his sorry, orange, tinpot-dictator ass.

The American system works. It takes time, but it works.

We are on a course correction, and we are at the beginning of the end of our long national nightmare.

Update (Wednesday, November 7, 2018): Other good news from last night includes Democrat Tony Evers’ victory over piece-of-shit Repugnican (redundant) Scott Walker for the governorship of Wisconsin. Woo hoo!

Also, I’m delighted that Democrat Jacky Rosen beat incumbent Repugnican Dean Heller for the U.S. Senate seat in Nevada, the state in which I plan to retire. Also, the Democratic candidate also won the state’s governorship, so as of January, Nevada will, like California, have two Democratic U.S. senators and a Democratic governor. I hope that Nevada keeps getting bluer before I finally move there.

And in neighboring Arizona, the race between Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Repugnican Martha McSally for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jeff Flake is too close to call, The Arizona Republic’s website reports right now.

Arizona is still pretty fucking red, but I hope that it, too, becomes more and more blue over the years, and I’m thinking that Democratic powerhouse California is having a blue-ing effect on its neighbors.

My biggest disappointment from yesterday’s election is that actual Democrat Kevin de León did not beat DINO Dianne “Cryptkeeper” Feinstein for the U.S. Senate seat for my great state of California, but thus far in the initial returns, De León has done better than the polls had suggested he would. Polls had Cryptkeeper ahead by double digits, but as I type this sentence, Cryptkeeper is ahead of De León by 8.8 percentage points, 54.4 percent to 45.6 percent.

A lot of Californians obviously want progressive change, but I don’t expect the crusty Cryptkeeper to be humbled by the fact that for an very-long-term incumbent she didn’t do nearly as well as she should have.

I’m also disappointed that Andrew Gillum didn’t win the governorship of Florida, but it was damned close (49.7 percent to 49 percent as of right now, per The New York Times).

I’m thinking and hoping that those progressives who did well but didn’t win yesterday, such as Gillum and De León — and such as gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, to whom I also gave a donation (but it’s Georgia) — will run again and will win next time.

P.S. Oops. Apparently Stacey Abrams still might pull out a win, despite the fact that her Repugnican opponent, Brian Kemp, is Georgia’s chief elections official who won’t recuse himself from overseeing the election in which he’s the Repugnican candidate for governor.

The votes in Georgia have yet to be finalized, and should Kemp’s final total fall below 50.0 percent, a runoff would be required in December, as for the governorship in Georgia, the winner must garner at least a simple majority, not just a plurality.

I hope that a runoff happens.

Finally, The Arizona Republic right now reports that the race between Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally still is too close to call and might take days or longer to be settled. Shit, for red Arizona, it’s good news even that the race is too close to call.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Adieu, Landrieu; it’s long past time for Democrats to stop kissing red-state ass

Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigns with Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., in New Orleans. (Gerald Herbert, AP)

Associated Press photo

Gee, maybe her very own country-Western song would have saved “Democratic” U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana from being denied a fourth term in the Deep-South state. A campaign appearance by Billary Clinton (who does have her very own country-Western song) apparently wasn’t enough.

“Dems, It’s Time to Dump Dixie,” proclaims the headline of a column by a Michael Tomasky (whom I’d never heard of until today) that will be interpreted as fairly sound advice for the Democratic Party or, perhaps, as a false-flag attempt to give Dems poor advice meant to harm them (the column does appear, after all, on the center-right website The Daily Beast). But probably, it’s more of the former than of the latter.

The occasion of the column is the double-digit defeat of Democrat-in-name-only U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana to her Repugnican Tea Party opponent this past weekend. Landrieu was the last remaining “Democratic” U.S. senator of the Deep South. (Wikipedia defines the “Deep South” as Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina – and sometimes at least portions of Texas and Florida, too. These seven states, Wikipedia notes, were the first to secede from the Union.)

The advice that Tomasky gives to the Democratic Party – to “dump Dixie” – seems to be the advice that the party perhaps already has taken to heart; well before this past weekend’s election in Louisiana, the national party wisely decided to stop funneling campaign cash to Landrieu and to let her languish, dry up and blow away.

Tomasky concludes his column by proclaiming that “the Democratic Party shouldn’t bother trying [to win congressional seats in the Deep South ]. If they [the Dems] get no votes from the region, they will in turn owe it nothing, and in time the South, which is the biggest welfare moocher in the world in terms of the largesse it gets from the more advanced and innovative states, will be on its own, which is what Southerners always say they want anyway.” (The link there is my own, of course, not Tomasky’s.)

Absolutely.

The likes of Repugnican Lite Landrieu – whose last-ditch, self-serving, desperate attempt to shove the Keystone XL oil pipeline down Americans’ throats for the deep pockets of the fat cats of Big Oil in order to save her Senate seat was incredibly pathetic (as was her defense of Big Oil even as British Petroleum was filling the Gulf of Mexico with millions of gallons of crude oil) – have only harmed, not helped, the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party’s lurch to the right, which started no later than during Bill Clinton’s reign (Wikipedia also notes that the Clintons’ home state of Arkansas sometimes also is included in the list of the states that make up the Deep South) and has continued during Barack Obama’s, doesn’t capture nearly as many Repugnican-leaning voters (who most often simply vote Repugnican instead of Repugnican Lite) as it turns off the Democratic Party’s base. And a party that stands for everything, that tries to please all people, in the end, stands for nothing.

Obama squandered too much of his presidency trying to sing “Kumbaya” with the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in D.C. He tried to negotiate with these terrorists, but you don’t negotiate with terrorists. Obama instead should have taken care of his base and not given a flying fuck what the enemy thought, since politically, he didn’t really have to. Had he done that, I surmise, he wouldn’t be spending his last two years in the Oval Office with both houses of Congress controlled by the enemy. Obama started off in 2009 with both houses of Congress controlled by his own party, and, had he played his cards right – instead of having wasted his political capital in trying to placate the implacable wingnuts – he could have maintained that political advantage to this day.

It’s long past time for the Democratic Party to start tending to its base. Obama’s failed experiment of “bipartisanship”* should have made this abundantly clear by now, but waiting in the wings, of course, is Billary Clinton, whose jaw-droppingly awful proxy country-Western music video on You Tube titled “Stand with Hillary” makes you wonder whether Billary approves of the video or not.

The New York Times’ Frank Bruni notes that “The video wasn’t produced by Clinton or her aides. But the people who did put it together [a “super-PAC” called, of course, “Stand with Hillary”] clearly followed the cues that they felt they were getting, and they read her intentions right.” I more or less concur, from what we know of Billary and the way she rolls.

I mean, the country-Western style of the video definitely seems to be geared toward the same shit-kicking voters to whom Billary apparently was trying to appeal when, as her 2008 effort to best Obama for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination grew more and more desperate, Billary (right along with the John McCainosaurus campaign) denounced Obama as “elitist and out of touch with the values and the lives of millions of Americans” for having accurately described the mindset of rednecks (who, Obama correctly had asserted, “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations”**).

Because Billary wants to be Queen of the Rednecks, you see. But the majority of the rednecks don’t and won’t buy that a Democrat – especially one of the caliber of Billary Clinton – is truly One of Them (replete with her own country-Western anthem!), and true Democrats are put off by those who (like Billary) call themselves Democrats but who court rednecks more than they court the members of the traditional Democratic Party base (who simply are taken for granted, year after year after year).

I should note that the guy in cowboy garb in the “Stand with Hillary” video, who was lip-synching someone else’s vocals, calls himself apolitical and says that the video was just another paying gig, that he may or may not vote for Billary for president should she be on the ballot in November 2016.

Is it that Team Billary could find only someone who would be pro-Billary for pay? At any rate, that the guy in the video is a fake cowboy, a fake country-Western singer and a fake Billary supporter speaks volumes about Team Billary, methinks, including how insubstantial the candidate is herself.

I don’t assert that the 2016 Democratic presidential campaign should not be populist. Of course it should be. The party hasn’t done nearly enough for what remains of the middle class and the working class for many years now and desperately needs to return to its roots of socioeconomic equality and justice. Therefore, I’d love to see the likes of Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders run for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. But wasting resources trying to convert those who never are going to support you anyway (as the desperate Billary tried to do in the spring of 2008, as the White House was slipping from her talons) is – well, a waste of limited resources.

The cultural stuff – such as country-Western music (for fuck’s sake), God, guns and gays – can, and should, take a back seat this next Democratic presidential cycle, in which populism should be the centerpiece, but should be limited to the discussion of socioeconomic issues that affect the common American, regardless of where he or she lives (and regardless of whether he or she likes country-western music or supports same-sex marriage).

If Billary indeed is on a trajectory to act, once again, like she’s Queen of the Rednecks, and the Democrats actually let this pass and allow her to become the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, then, it will be, I think, just as Harry S. Truman warned us: “If it’s a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time.”

We just saw the wisdom of Truman’s words in action this past weekend in Louisiana. We don’t have to see the truth of his words again in November 2016.

*In the speech that made Obama a political rock star at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Obama proclaimed that “The pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. … We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.”

Really? One people? Even those who say that he shouldn’t be allowed to give the State of the Union address?

I mean, does Obama, six years into his presidency, still believe his feel-good, fluffy words from 2004?

**To be fair, this infamous comment of Obama’s should be taken within its larger context of his preceding remarks, which you can find here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

In defense of Paula Deen

“He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her.”

— Jesus Christ, talking to the fucking hypocrites of his day (John 8:7)

Food Network won't renew Paula Deen's contract

Associated Press image

I’m not big on baby boomers or Southerners — hell, I’m not big on many if not most of my fellow whiteys — but I am big on fairness and justice, and I don’t see that celebrity cook Paula Deen, who renounces racism today, thus far has been shown much fairness and justice for her admission that back in the day she used the word “nigger.”

First off, let me get my own biases on the table: I don’t like baby boomers and I don’t like Southerners, especially those with the Southern drawl. Both groups remind me of what’s so wrong with the United States of America. And Paula Deen is both a baby boomer and a Southerner, having been born in 1947 (making her 66 years old) and being a resident of Savannah, Georgia. (Indeed, the portrait of her above doesn’t warm my heart, but gives me the willies.)

That said, regardless of your demographics, you are entitled to fairness and justice.

When asked if she’d ever uttered the slur “nigger,” Southern-cooking queen Deen reportedly admitted in a recent court deposition, “Yes, of course,” adding, “It’s been a very long time.”

How long ago it was that Deen last used “the ‘n’-word” (I favor spelling it out, frankly; why candy-coat racism?) I’m not certain. Was it five years ago? Ten? Twenty? Thirty?

If Deen used it last week or last month or last year or even five years ago, then I could see reason for the outrage, which has culminated in Food Network terminating her cooking-show contract, but if Deen truly last used “nigger” many years ago and truly regrets it, and if her views on race and race relations have changed, then the dog-piling upon her now serves no useful purpose.

Seriously — the woman was truthful in a deposition and now she faces a firestorm for her truthfulness? Why should anyone else be truthful, then, in a similar situation?

And if we won’t accept that any person who previously had racist views could have changed and evolved, but must wear a big, red letter “R” for the rest of his or her life, what does that mean? Does that mean that we want racism to linger, to be a permanent condition?

Does that mean that we’re so smug and so small and so petty and so hypocritical, that, in order to feel so fucking superior, we periodically must publicly burn someone like Paula Deen at the stake? (That was a rhetorical question, but I’ll answer it anyway: Yes, yes, yes, it does.)

Maybe it was the casualness with which Deen admitted her past use of “nigger”: “Yes, of course” I used the word “nigger,” she reportedly testified.

My guess is that that was her world, the world in which she grew up: That in her day and place (apparently, she has lived in Georgia her entire life), “nigger” was tossed around quite casually by the whiteys who surrounded her. If that’s just historical fact, then why are we lynching Paula Deen for the racism of so many, many others?

I’ll tell you what I find offensive: The fact that in his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama — whose sphere of influence is much, much vaster than is Paula Deen’s — told “Christo”fascist “pastor” Prick Warren: “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman” — “a sacred union,” he added, adding, “God’s in the mix.”

I find that very offensive not only as a gay man, but as an atheist who wants no elected official to shove his or her belief (or stated belief) in a non-existent entity (let’s fucking face it: “God” is just a Santa-Claus figure on crack, knowing whether you’ve been “bad” or “good” and rewarding you or punishing you thusly) down my fucking throat.

Obama also in his 2008 remarks to Prick Warren also made the “states’ rights” argument where same-sex marriage is concerned (the same argument that the white supremacists have made where discrimination against blacks has been concerned), and Obama stated that he supported the “separate-but-equal” (my words, not his) civil union for same-sex couples, but not same-sex marriage. (The video clip of those remarks is right here.)

Now, 2008 wasn’t very long ago — my guess is that Paula Deen last used “nigger” before 2008 — but I don’t see what good it would do to lambast Obama, who supposedly finally “evolved” and stated in May 2012 that he now supports same-sex marriage — as a permanent homophobe for what his stance was in 2008.

True, Obama didn’t publicly use a slur such as “fag” or “queer” or “dyke,” but let me tell you something: I don’t fucking care what words you use or don’t use. Obama in 2008 (and before and beyond) publicly espoused such deeply unfair and unjust and unconstitutional ideas as the idea of “states’ rights” where equal human and civil rights are concerned and the idea that the “separate-but-equal” civil union in lieu of actual marriage for same-sex couples is A-OK, even though the civil union in lieu of actual marriage essentially forces non-heterosexual couples to drink from a different drinking fountain.

I find these dangerous, harmful, blatantly unjust and unconstitutional ideas to be at least as offensive as the use of the word “nigger.” I don’t care that Obama used “nice” words to express his right-wing, discriminatory, heterosexist, bigoted ideas in his little chat with Prick Warren in 2008. The ideas themselves are ugly enough, and only morons to whom words are magic! get tripped up by “bad” words such as “nigger” while allowing the expression of absofuckinglutely unconscionably oppressive ideas a free fucking pass because the utterer of those ideas didn’t use any “bad” words to express them, but used only “nice” words. (So-called “Christians” love to believe that it’s perfectly fine to express Nazi-like ideas — just as long as you don’t use any profanity. Jesus himself would have told these fucking hypocrites to go fuck themselves. [Truly — read the New Testament and see what Jesus said to and about the “religious” hypocrites of his day. It’s there in black and white.])

Further, do I believe that Barack Obama truly gives a shit about non-heterosexuals?

Fuck no.

Obama has no moral compass, but is a political weather vane, facing whichever direction the weather vane is facing.

Obama is a human calculator. He calculated in 2008 that for maximum political gain he should tell “Christo”fascist Prick Warren that he opposed same-sex marriage. (Really, watch the clip — Warren’s audience applauds much of what Obama has to say.) In May of last year, Obama calculated differently, calculated that now he should announce that he finally has “evolved” on the issue of same-sex marriage. (To my knowledge, however, Obama has yet to drop his “states’ rights” stance, that is, to my knowledge, to this day, Obama still believes, or at least still publicly states that he believes, that each of the 50 states should be able to decide whether or not to honor non-heterosexuals’ equal human and civil rights that are guaranteed to them by the Constitution of the United States of America. That’s fucking sick.)

Obama certainly had calculated differently on same-sex marriage back in 1996. In 1996, when he still was involved in Illinois state politics, Obama responded, in writing, to a gay and lesbian newspaper’s questionnaire: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”

He proclaimed that back in 1996, when he was first elected to the Illinois legislature. Today, he shouts, “States’ rights”! So much for Obama’s promise that he would fight efforts to prohibit same-sex marriage!

Obama is an opportunistic bag of slime, but I don’t see what good it would do to burn former (or supposedly former) homophobes at the stake for their former (or supposedly former) homophobia. Even if these individuals still interiorly were homophobic but at least publicly took an anti-homophobic stance, hey, that’s better than someone who publicly is taking a homophobic stance.

It wouldn’t advance equal human and civil rights for non-heterosexuals to hang a big red letter “H” on former (or supposedly former) homophobes, so I don’t see how it advances equal human and civil rights for non-whites for us to hang a big red letter “R” on Paula Deen.

I don’t know whether or not Paula Deen interiorly is significantly racist. Probably only she knows that.

It’s good enough for me that whatever word or words she uttered back in the day, today she rebukes racism and racist expression.

If you believe otherwise, then perhaps you emotionally and cognitively and egoistically are invested in the continuation of racism, as evidenced by the apparent fact that you apparently fucking refuse to allow anyone to reform — which makes you just as fucking sick as the actual racists whom you castigate.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Magical Elves, sparkleponies and other assorted gay shit

Pro-gay ally NFL player Chris Kluwe’s colorfully titled book is due out next month. Kluwe earlier this month was dropped by the Minnesota Vikings but was picked up by the Oakland Raiders. I’m glad and proud to have him as a fellow Californian; Minnesota’s loss is California’s gain.

I usually comment on gay-rights issues in the news in a timely fashion, but I’ve been slacking as of late. So here I’ll try to catch up:

It was great to see basketball player Jason Collins, the first active player from one of the “Big Four” sports organizations (the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League ), come out late last month, even if there is at least a grain of truth to gay writer Bret Easton Ellis’ criticism that Collins’ treatment by the media “as some kind of baby panda who needed to be honored and praised and consoled and — yes — infantilized by his coming out on the cover of Sports Illustrated” also made Collins a “Gay Man as Magical Elf, who whenever he comes out appears before us as some kind of saintly E.T. whose sole purpose is to be put in the position of reminding us only about Tolerance and Our Own Prejudices and To Feel Good About Ourselves and to be a symbol instead of just being a gay dude.”

And I also was happy to hear the news that pro-gay ally NFL player Chris Kluwe, who was dropped by the Minnesota Vikings earlier this month (perhaps at least in part due to his vocal pro-gay-and-pro-gay-marriage stance), shortly thereafter was picked up by the Oakland Raiders.

If Minnesota didn’t appreciate Kluwe, I’m happy to have him here in California, where Kluwe already has done us some good: Kluwe and another pro-gay ally, NFL player Brendon Ayanbadejo, per Wikipedia, “filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on February 28, 2013, regarding Hollingsworth v. Perry, in which they expressed their support of the challenge to California Proposition 8,” which in 2008 amended California’s Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, a right that California’s Supreme Court had ruled was guaranteed to Californians by the state’s Constitution before the haters later amended it with Prop H8.

I admire the very apparently heterosexual Kluwe, who is heterosexually married and has two children. According to Wikipedia, Kluwe wrote a blog called “Out of Bounds” for a Minnesota newspaper before he quit the blog last year in protest of the newspaper’s having run an editorial in support of the euphemistically titled “Minnesota Marriage Amendment,” which, just as Prop H8 did in California, would have amended the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. (That amendment failed at the ballot box in November, with the haters losing by just more than 5 percentage points, and subsequently the Minnesota Legislature legalized same-sex marriage this month.)

It takes balls and selflessness to fight for a historically discriminated against and oppressed group of people of whom you apparently aren’t a member. Kluwe did the right thing by boycotting the anti-gay newspaper.

Kluwe also has been outspoken about the facts that not all athletes are dumb jocks and that there is more to life than football, even for an NFL player.

And yeah, I’ll probably buy his upcoming book, Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities, which is due out next month.

Also this month, three states approved same-sex marriage: Delaware, Rhode Island, and, as I mentioned, Minnesota. (I find it ironic that just after the Minnesota Vikings dropped Kluwe, very possibly at least in part due to his advocacy for same-sex marriage, the state’s Legislature enacted same-sex marriage.)

True, Rhode Island and Delaware are only our 43rd and 45th most populous states, respectively, but Minnesota is our 21st most populous state, and it joins Iowa as another Midwestern state with same-sex marriage. Once the Midwest goes, how far behind can the rest of the nation be?

Finally, I found it to be a pleasant surprise to learn that President Barack Obama, this past weekend in his commencement speech to the graduates of the all-male, historically African-American Morehouse College, remarked, “… and that’s what I’m asking all of you to do: keep setting an example for what it means to be a man. Be the best husband to your wife or your boyfriend or your partner. Be the best father you can be to your children. Because nothing is more important.”

True, Obama’s wording was inelegant.* If you were a man who had married your boyfriend, he would be your “husband” or your “spouse” or your “partner” or however else you chose to refer to him (hell, call him your “wife” if you want to and if he is OK with that; it’s your marriage, not mine). But if you had married him, you probably wouldn’t still be referring to him as your “boyfriend.”

Still, I found it at least a bit encouraging for the president of the United States of America, whatever his other many flaws and missteps might be, basically state in a college commencement address before an all-male audience that marrying a member of the same sex is perfectly fine if that is what is right for the individual.

You never would have heard George W. Bush, or even Bill Clinton, utter those words at a commencement ceremony.

I noted above that Chris Kluwe is “heterosexually married.” I did that on purpose; married” no longer should automatically mean heterosexually married; “married” should include the possibility of being homosexually married — in all 50 states and in every nation on the planet that recognizes marriage between heterosexuals.

And one day, it won’t matter; “married” will just be married, and no one will much care, if he or she cares at all, whether it’s a same-sex marriage or an opposite-sex marriage.

But it still matters now, and we Magical Elves and our allies have a lot of work to do between today and the day that it no longer matters because everyone (or at least almost everyone) realizes that each and every one of us is a beautifully unique sparklepony.

*Slate.com’s William Saletan reports that Obama’s prepared remark was “Be the best husband to your wife or boyfriend to your partner or father to your children that you can be,” but, again, what Obama actually said was, “Be the best husband to your wife or your boyfriend or your partner.”

Saletan writes:

… But this time, the speech didn’t go according to script. Literally. Obama changed the “boyfriend” line from hetero boilerplate to explicitly gay-inclusive. He ad-libbed. And this was a heck of a time to do it. The speech was about what it means to be a man. The president of the United States, who until a year ago didn’t support same-sex marriage, has just put an official stamp of masculinity on male homosexuality. …

That’s certainly a possibility; it’s a valid interpretation, and it would be my interpretation, too, more or less, but, in my viewing of the clip of the remark, it appears to me as though Obama does stumble and/or hesitate a bit in getting the words out, with a nervous-and-unsure-of-himself-sounding inflection on the final word of that sentence, “partner,” and it’s not 100 percent clear to me whether he stumbles over these words because he’s messing them up or because he’s not sure how what he is saying — that it’s perfectly OK for a man to marry a man — is going to be received by his audience (Morehouse College, after all, is in Georgia, a state that isn’t exactly known as a gay-friendly state).

Indeed, sadly, if you also watch the clip, you will hear and see that after Obama asks his audience to “keep setting an example for what it means to be a man,” he has to pause for applause, but then, after he says next, “Be the best husband to your wife or your boyfriend or your partner,” very apparently his audience at first is silent in momentary confusion but then breaks out in some derisive laughter and mumbling and grumbling.

Indeed, in response to this very apparent derision over his remark that a man may marry a man, Obama puts his index finger up to his audience in apparent admonishment over their apparent homophobia.

As I said, we still have a way to go.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Documentary ‘Bully’ flawed but spurs vital conversation

Film review

review-bully-movie-image-alex

Kelby is one of the bullied students who had a strong family and friend support system in "Bully."

Alex and Kelby, above, are two of the victims of school bullying who are featured in The Weinstein Company’s documentary “Bully.” Alex, who was born prematurely, in the documentary is portrayed as being called “Fishface” and routinely physically assaulted at school and on the school bus, and Kelby left her school because of very apparently coordinated anti-lesbian discrimination. Below is 18-year-old Sawyer Rosenstein (who is not featured in “Bully”), whose school bully put him in a wheelchair when he was 12 years old. Sawyer and his family just settled with the board of the New Jersey school district for more than $4 million. In the settlement the school board denies that the school failed to protect Sawyer, even though its failure to protect him is quite fucking obvious.

The documentary “Bully” should be required viewing for every American, even those who, like me (a gay man), don’t have a son or daughter in a public school and (most likely) never will.

“Bully” is not only about how cruel and abusive some students can be toward other students, but it’s about how chronically victimized students routinely are failed by the adults in their lives who are supposed to foster and to protect them — not just by school teachers and school administrators, but also by their parents.

An assistant principal featured in “Bully” especially is clueless and worthless — she’s a baby boomer, and it’s all about the baby boomers, so there you go.

In one scene, the assistant principal forces the victim to shake the victimizer’s hand, as though that superficial action were any true solution to the long-term problem of the one student chronically bullying the other. The assistant principal in this incident apparently makes the common, unthinking person’s error in basically asserting that whenever there is a conflict, both sides must be equally guilty. (Actually, that bullshit belief just comes out of the sheer laziness to actually sort it all out and see who truly is at fault, but instead to just try to sweep it all under the carpet.)

In another scene, when a couple of parents come to the assistant principal after having viewed actual video footage of their child’s being seriously, violently bullied on the school bus, the assistant principal (again, a baby boomer) surreally manages to make it all about herself, even whipping out a photo of her grandbaby, stating that of course she cares about all of our babies (of course, the student who is being bullied is not an infant).

The assistant principal also declares that she has ridden that bus herself and that there is no problem whatsoever on the bus. Never mind the facts that there is video footage of the serious problems with violent bullying on that bus and that of course the students are going to behave themselves on the bus when the assistant principal is on board.

What the fuck? With brazenly incompetent, self-interested school administrators like these in our schools, administrators who are more interested in playing politics and in portraying a false portrait of how things are rather than actually being responsible to the students in their care, no fucking wonder bullying is such a problem.

It’s not just the school administrators, of course. The United States of America’s number one spending priority is not its schools, but is the bloated-beyond-belief military-industrial complex.

If enough Americans truly cared about what was going on inside our schools, our schools would be much, much better — including being adequately staffed so that incidents of bullying would be reduced significantly. We have the resources to greatly improve our students’ lives; it’s not a lack of resources, but it’s a lack of caring, including a nationwide public apathy that just allows the powers that be to steal our tax dollars and spend them not on what we need, such as good, safe schools, health care and environmental protection, and to take care of the least among us, but to blow our tax dollars on the military-industrial complex, which is not about defense, but which is about making filthy, treasonously rich swine even richer than they already are through such avenues as colossal military contracting waste and waging bogus wars for corporate expansion, such as how Iraq has been opened to the profiteering of Big Oil via the illegal and immoral Vietraq War.

“Bully” raises these important issues, at least indirectly, but as a documentary is flawed.

“Bully” focuses on bullying that has occurred in public schools in the Southern and Midwestern states of Iowa, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Georgia, and ignores bullying that happens elsewhere in the nation. Bullying is a national problem. My guess is that it’s significantly worse in the red states than it is in the blue states, but it happens eveywhere.

“Bully” probably focuses too much on one child, the 12-year-old Alex, who was born prematurely and who, while he’s an affable kid, is different from the others (who call him “Fishface”) and who thus is bullied. That said, Alex’s life is an excellent example of a child who has been failed by most of the adults in his life, not only by his bus driver and his draw-droppingly awful assistant principal, but even by his own father, who advises him to just fight back, even though Alex is fairly slight and probably can’t effectively fight back physically.

Alex’s father tells him that if he doesn’t fight back, his younger sister will be bullied, too — and that’s putting way too much pressure and responsibility upon a minor, and letting the adults continue in their dereliction of duty.

Even Alex’s mother, who apparently is the most genuinely concerned about him, probably should have concerned herself more about what was happening to him at school and on the school bus before she found out through the documentarians’ film footage.

Another flaw of “Bully” is that while we don’t need grotesque details, it sure would be nice to be told in more detail why, exactly, some of the victims of bullying-induced suicide took their own lives. The young man named Tyler, for example. Why was he bullied? Was he gay or suspected to be gay? In “Bully” we are told a lot about Tyler, who hanged himself in his bedroom closet at age 17, but we’re not really told about why he was bullied.

For the most part, “Bully” doesn’t tell us what to think, but lets us come to our own conclusions. The story of Ja’Maya, a black teen who says that she only brought her mother’s handgun with her on her school bus because she wanted to scare the kids who had been bullying her, reeks of racism/white supremacism as we watch yet another stupid white male, baby-boomer sheriff — who perhaps never has been a victim of bullying himself, but perhaps has been a bully his entire life (bullies are, after all, drawn to law enforcement) — declare that no amount of bullying could justify what Ja’Maya did, and we are left with the sense that if Ja’Maya were, say, a white male jock instead of a 14-year-old black female, the “criminal” “justice” system where she lives would have treated her very differently.

Kelby, the 16-year-old lesbian who is featured in “Bully” is eloquent and intelligent and strong, but “Bully” probably doesn’t say enough about the bullying that happens to gay and lesbian and non-gender-conforming students, who comprise probably the most-bullied group of students.

“Bully” should be an invitation for us not only to declare jihad upon bullying in our public schools, but to tackle the bullying that happens in our workplaces as well. In many if not even most workplaces, bullying occurs on a regular basis. The belief that adulthood in and of itself automatically erases the dynamics that we saw in our public school days is a fucking myth.

The perpetrators of bullying in the workplace know better than to get physically abusive/violent in most cases, but verbal abuse/harassment, sexual harassment/sexual abuse and the abuse of power can make the workplace just as hostile as a public school. And just like bullies in school are careful about bullying when no one in authority is present, workplace bullies most often do their deeds when there is no one who might do something about their bullying is around.

Hopefully more documentaries about bullying will be made, although after “Bully,” school administrators might be much less willing to appear on camera.

Stories of bullying abound, such as the current news story about Sawyer Rosenstein, who became paralyzed from the waist down when a bully at school punched him when he was 12 years old. Sawyer, now 18, is in a wheelchair and just settled with the board of the New Jersey public school district for $4.2 million.

Admittedly, most individuals who are punched don’t become paralyzed — Sawyer apparently was the unfortunate victim of a freak medical event (a blood clot) — but Sawyer’s case illustrates how seriously dangerous bullying can be.

At least three months before his bully put him in a wheelchair Sawyer had informed his school’s administrators that he was being bullied, but even after Sawyer’s life-changing injury at the hands of his bully, msnbc.com reports,

The [New Jersey public school district’s] board denied [in its settlement statement] allegations that it or its employees had “failed or compromised its responsibility to develop and to implement effective policies and procedures to protect the safety and rights” of the school community, … noting that the district “prides itself for the role which it has played in recognizing and developing an awareness of the dangers of bullying, intimidation and harassment in the school setting.”

Bullying can’t be addressed if school administrators, in order to save their own skins, won’t even fucking acknowledge it.

It’s our own collective fault, however, that brazenly incompetent and self-interested school administrators like these remain in power and that our schools don’t have more resources, such as adequate staffing to supervise students, to combat bullying.

And until school administrators and teachers stop saying that it’s the parents’ responsibility, and parents stop saying that it’s the schools’ responsibility, and school administrators stop saying that it’s law enforcement’s reponsibility, and law enforcement stops saying that it’s the schools’ responsibility — and all of us (even those of us without children of our own) take responsibility for the well-being of our young people — our public schools will continue to be more like prisons than like places of learning and personal growth.

My grade: B-

17 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized