Tag Archives: Democrats

45 Fatigue: The Struggle Is Real

30 Jul

Somehow I thought for sure this alone would have prevented 45 from moving forward, that his mocking a person with a disability would have been enough. Then I thought his bragging about “grabbing a woman by the pussy” would have been enough to stop him. Sadly, this is who we are stuck with currently and who is destroying Democracy on a daily basis. I do wonder how on earth are people able to live with themselves for voting for such a monster.

As I mentioned in my last article, I believe most of the nation is currently experiencing some serious 45 Fatigue — most of us in the nation are currently on edge, pugnacious, unsettled, anxious, depressed, angry, or any combination of the above. And it is not just those of us who identify as progressives who are feeling the pain. I am experiencing people all over the political spectrum who are struggling — as Ru Paul’s Kennedy Davenport said: “The struggle is real.”

I have some friends/family in Georgia who have been lifelong Republicans who are feeling the pain and disappointment. I suspect many Republicans are in mourning, for they are now realizing the party they believed in has been obliterated by 45, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell.

One can’t even keep up with the daily barrage of bizarre goings on and the continued human rights violations that we are kept abreast of via Twitter, because that is now the way the President of the United States communicates with us. First, 45 and his administration came for our Muslim friends and family, then they came for the Latino community, then 45 came after the journalists, and scientists, then he came after the poor and tried to strip away health care for millions, then he came after all of us in the LGBT community. I hardly know how to cope. What’s more, I have daily reminders that my family members who supported and still support 45 are responsible for this destruction.

Apparently, there is and will always be approximately 25% of the population that will always support 45 regardles. This population is implacable and also sadly misinformed and guided by fear, racism, misogyny, and homophobia.  Sadly, 45 and his followers have only proven they are, in fact, deplorable. Of course, this hurts my heart more than I can express. It hurts my heart that the behavior we witness daily could be acceptable to anyone. 45’s appointment of Scaramucci is nothing less than appalling and only helps to normalize a vulgar society. I’m sure Scaramucci is only too happy to be 45’s work wife, or is he the Mini-Me for 45?

As I said, I can’t even recount all of what has happened in just the past week. Do I start with his inappropriate behavior with his speech to the Boy Scouts, whom he apparently thought were his Trumpenjugend? Do I address the transphobia? Do I focus on his encouraging police to increase brutality? How about bullying his loyal attack dog, Jeff Sessions or firing Reince Priebus? Blindsiding military commanders in hateful tweets that led them to believe we might be headed for war? I am having difficulty coping, as I know the rest of the 75% of the nation is right now. It is clear Scaramucci is an echo chamber for 45 and is helping to normalize vulgarity, as though this were some how Presidential? Yes, national television and radio are broadcasting Scaramucci’s speeches: “What I want to do is fucking kill all of the leakers…I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock.”  This from the new Director of Communications, sanctioned by 45. Wow! I have no words.

What is helping me endure this nightmare is watching television shows like: The Good Fight, Daytime Divas, Ru Paul’s Dragrace, and Samantha Bee. What are you doing to cope? How can we support each other? How can we be loving of ourselves, and of each other? I am going to work hard to invite joy into my life. I hope all of you find ways of creating and sustaining joy. Peace, Michael.

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Hero of the Week: May 17, Pablo Pantoja

17 May
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

The Republican National Committee was very happy to have Pablo Pantoja on its payroll. Energetic, savvy, a decorated National Guardsman — what could be better? As a Latino in Florida, a state the GOP needs to win or steal to have a shot at the White House, he was well positioned to represent the hypothetical rebranding the party rolled out earlier this year. As the RNC Hispanic Outreach Director, his role was very important.

Sadly for the GOP, Pantoja also possesses a heart and a mind. Reflecting on the corrosive failure of the GOP’s fake embrace of minorities after their loss in November, he decided he’d had enough. In a powerful statement, he left his position and switched parties, becoming a vocal Democrat.

Yes, I have changed my political affiliation to the Democratic Party. It doesn’t take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today. I have wondered before about the seemingly harsh undertones about immigrants and others. Look no further […]

The complete disregard of those who are in disadvantage is also palpable. We are not looking at an isolated incident of rhetoric or research. … I think you get the idea. When the political discourse resorts to intolerance and hate, we all lose in what makes America great and the progress made in society.

It’s a scathing indictment of the othering done by the GOP as it attacks immigrants and minorities at every turn while callously courting their votes. Coming from an informed insider, it is particularly damning. As a nice parting shot, Pantoja also made a contribution to the ACLU for efforts to protect immigrant rights. Well done, sir, and welcome.

Nepotist Newscaster Needlessly Nasty to Nancy

15 Nov

The face of experience and the face of, well, Luke Russert

Demonstrating unmitigated gall, NBC reporter Luke Russert managed to be both insulting and condescending at Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) press conference yesterday. After Pelosi indicated her intention to run for another two years as the House Minority Leader in the new Congress, Russert asked

Colleagues privately say that your decision to stay on prohibits the party from having a younger leadership and hurts the party in the long term. What’s your response?

Simultaneously hiding behind anonymous “colleagues” and displaying shocking ageism, Russert prompted a quick reply from the insightful former Speaker.

You’ve always asked that question, but not to Mitch McConnell.

It’s a fair point. The Senate minority leader is 70, barely two years younger than Pelosi. Harry Reid is 72; John Boehner is hardly a spring chicken at 62. Pelosi is not only the first woman to serve as U.S. House Speaker — one of the most important and powerful positions in the Federal government — she is routinely considered by scholars as one of the finest Speakers in history. If house Democrats need to groom new leaders, giving up that experience and authority in a still acrimoniously divided chamber hardly seems sensible. Perhaps her #2, Steny Hoyer should consider stepping aside; his Blue Dog leanings are hardly appropriate for an increasingly diverse and progressive caucus. (He’s also one year Pelosi’s senior, but Russert doesn’t seem to care about that…)

Unlike all those men in positions of power, Nancy Pelosi actually took the time to consider her options and discuss them with the press. That shows real class — and leadership. Those are qualities we really need. Perhaps the reporter who got a big break right out of college because of who his father was should consider his words more carefully.

Hero of the Week Award: August 24, Bob Kerrey

24 Aug

Hero of the Week

In light of some of the awful excuses for humanity who are running for the Senate this year, it’s a pleasure to celebrate a quiet, determined hero who hopes to recapture his Senate seat. Bob Kerrey was Senator from Nebraska from 1989 to 2001. A centrist on many issues from a bright red state, he’s an unlikely champion for gay rights. Nonetheless, he has been a staunch supporter of LGBT equality throughout his career. He was one of only 14 Senators to vote against DOMA in 1996 and one of the few who truly risked his re-election by doing so.

Kerrey retired from politics in 2001. When Sen. Ben Nelson (who won Kerrey’s old seat) announced his retirement this year, Kerrey decided to use his statewide reputation and clout to return to the Senate and hold the seat for the Democrats. With his success far from certain, it might make sense for him to at least keep his pro-gay opinions to himself while campaigning. But he doesn’t. Not only that, he usually brings up the issue himself. Kerrey was recently profiled in the New York Times for his steadfast support.

He brings up gay marriage anyway. Not every day, but on many of them. Not in response to voters’ questions, but at the prodding of his own conscience. I got the feeling that his advisers would like him to stop — and that he knows he’d probably be wise to. But here’s the thing: he’s 68. This race to reclaim [his] Senate seat … could be his last. And if he’s going to go down, he told me, he wants to go down fighting for what’s right and for what he truly believes. That means making a pitch for gay marriage.

“What I usually say is, ‘Let me talk to you about the issue of homosexuality,’ ” Kerrey said over a drink here Saturday night. And then he indeed talks to voters about it, telling them that people are born the way they are and deserve a full complement of civil rights, including the right to marry. It’s that simple. “People who are opposed to it are going to have to be explaining to their grandkids: why, why, why was that the rationale?” he said. “We’re going to be embarrassed in 25 years.”

What delightful insight, courage, and integrity. Let’s hope this unassuming champion is rewarded with a return to the Senate and a chance to help keep moving gay rights forward. With the party platform finally conforming to his vision, this could be his year.

Hero of the Week: August 3, DNC Platform Drafting Committee

3 Aug

Hero of the Week

This week the Democratic party took a major step toward endorsing full marriage equality. The Platform Drafting Committee is responsible for crafting the planks of the party’s platform for the convention in September. They met last week to debate which things to add or change in the platform. The 15-member committee voted unanimously to include marriage equality for LGBT American’s in the party platform. It’s been a long time coming. The draft platform will go to the full platform committee next week for approval and finalization for adoption at the conference.

Openly gay Rep. Barney Frank (D, MA) serves on the committee and made the announcement on Monday. While the exact language is not yet available, reports indicate that the plank not only supports marriage equality but specifically calls for repealing DOMA and adds support for a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). This would be the first time either major party weighed in positively on any of these issues–nice to see a party actually moving toward civil rights!

Blunt as always, the recently married Frank later expressed his surprise that the announcement got so much attention.

I was surprised that this got the attention that it did, because in this instance, it is not even a promise or a prediction of what the Democrats will do. It is an after-the-fact statement of what we have already done. President Obama has already stated his support for marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. […] Equally important (as an exercise of presidential authority) is the president’s refusal to defend DOMA in court because it is so blatantly unconstitutional, as well as his articulation that any government action discriminating against LGBT Americans must meet a higher standard than the simple “rational basis” test. […] Governor Romney, of course, opposes the president on every one of these points.

While it’s true that the President and the party have made great strides in recent years, codifying these principles into the platform is more than symbolic. It signals a great step forward for LGBT-inclusive equality, and sends the message that we are not subhuman.  We are full citizens entitled to the exact same rights as our heterosexual brothers and sisters.

Bigot of the Week Award: August 3, House Democrats Opposing Tax Fairness

3 Aug

Bigot of the Week

This week 19 House Democrats put self-interest ahead of leadership and bailed on a key piece of legislation. Last week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid exceeded all expectations and crafted a brilliant deal that allowed a great tax cut compromise to pass the Senate. The bill extended the cuts for taxpayers making less than $250,000 a year, protecting the middle class during the fragile economic recovery. By ending the cuts for those with higher incomes, it also introduced greater fairness into the tax system–truly a broken clock moment for our Harry Reid.

The bill was unlikely to pass in the House, of course, but it sent a strong message. The Republicans in the House shot it down on Wednesday — big shock. Sadly, 19 Democrats voted against the bill, joining the Republican chorus of class warfare. The majority of the 19 Representatives who crossed the aisle were so-called Blue Dog Democrats (or what I like to call Tea Bag Democrats), a loose caucus of “moderate and conservative” Democrats. Many are also in tight re-election contests or in badly gerrymandered new districts. These are not sufficient excuses.

It is a given that most Republicans will not vote for the Democrat. It is also true that the Senate approach to the tax cuts is very popular (polling at or above 60%), especially with independent voters and in swing states. What these 19 cowards have done is sold out the middle class and the most vulnerable for a callous political calculation. Why should Democratic voters in their districts care about showing up at the polls if they are offered a choice between two people who vote against them? Why should independent voters prefer a Democrat if that person voted against their preferences? Shame on you, Representatives! Bad dogs!

Personally, I am sad to see Rep. Kurt Schrader from Oregon’s 5th District on this list and grateful that the recent redistricting moved me into Rep. Blumenauer’s district. Oregonians are hurting, Rep. Schrader; why did you vote against 98% of them?

Hero of the Week Award: June 8, Jason Alexander

8 Jun

Hero of the Week

Actor and comedian Jason Alexander made a spectacular transition from Bigot of the Week nominee to HWA winner. The former Seinfeld star appeared on Craig Ferguson’s The Late Late Show on CBS last week. During a conversation about British and American sports, Alexander made a number of disparaging comments about the sport of cricket. The bulk of his jokes had to do with cricket being “gay” and “queer” with an emphasis on things he found effeminate.

After many in the gay community took offense at his comments, Alexander resisted making a knee-jerk response, instead taking the time to consider what he had said and why he said it.

…a few of my Twitter followers made me aware that they were both gay and offended by the joke. And truthfully, I could not understand why. I do know that humor always points to the peccadillos or absurdities or glaring generalities of some kind of group or another – short, fat, bald, blonde, ethnic, smart, dumb, rich, poor, etc. It is hard to tell any kind of joke that couldn’t be seen as offensive to someone. But I truly did not understand why a gay person would be particularly offended by this routine. However, troubled by the reaction of some, I asked a few of my gay friends about it…As we explored it, we began to realize what was implied under the humor.

Based on this reflection, Alexander offered a sincere, complex, and thoughtful apology via Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAAD). The entire apology is worth reading, but two parts are especially powerful.

It is not that we can’t laugh at and with each other. It is not a question of oversensitivity. The problem is that today, as I write this, young men and women whose behaviors, choices or attitudes are not deemed “man enough” or “normal” are being subjected to all kinds of abuse from verbal to physical to societal. They are being demeaned and threatened because they don’t fit the group’s idea of what a “real man” or a “real woman” are supposed to look like, act like and feel like. For these people, my building a joke upon the premise I did added to the pejorative stereotype that they are forced to deal with everyday. It is at the very heart of this whole ugly world of bullying that has been getting rightful and overdue attention in the media. And with my well-intentioned comedy bit, I played right into those hurtful assumptions and diminishments.

So, I would like to say – I now get it. And to the extent that these jokes made anyone feel even more isolated or misunderstood or just plain hurt – please know that was not my intention, at all or ever. I hope we will someday live in a society where we are so accepting of each other that we can all laugh at jokes like these and know that there is no malice or diminishment intended. But we are not there yet. So, I can only apologize and I do. In comedy, timing is everything. And when a group of people are still fighting so hard for understanding, acceptance, dignity and essential rights – the time for some kinds of laughs has not yet come.

Given how many celebrity missteps go viral, it is heartening to see Alexander acknowledge that he should have known better from the outset. Even more significantly, he refuses to rely on the standard non-apologies offered by many (like Tracy Morgan) that consist of a feeble “I’m sorry you were offended.” Instead, he took the time to reflect on his words and actions, realize his mistake, and offer a sincere apology. Let’s hope both the realization and the apology can serve as models for other celebrities.

Honorable mention this week goes to Democrats in Wisconsin. Although they lost the effort to recall their loathsome governor, Scott Walker, their efforts should be applauded. Despite spending barely 10% of what Walker did, they managed to come close to victory. Given how many voters indicated that they oppose recalls on principle, this is impressive. Even more impressive was the turnout, with Madison having 119% of registered voters appear at the polls. (Wisconsin allows same-day registration.) The loss is bitter, but the effort was valiant.

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