Tag Archives: Georgia

Nancy Pelosi, Really?

3 Dec

As the Democrats prepare to take over the House in January, there is much ado about who should be the Speaker of the House. While I’m exceedingly grateful we are kicking Fascist Paul Ryan to the curb, should Nancy Pelosi resume her role as Speaker?

In a word, I offer an emphatic YES! I have been deeply troubled, disturbed, saddened, and pissed off at the manifestation yet again of misogyny. Again, it is painfully clear that the United States cannot tolerate a strong, smart, powerful, woman. While I agree with those who want a new guard ushered in, Pelosi has already demonstrated her commitment to succession planning and ensuring that women are being set up to succeed. I also applaud the mindfulness and strategic thinking of leaders like Maxine Waters, who said her efforts are best used as the Chair of the Financial Services Committee. I also applaud Marcia Fudge of Ohio who supported Pelosi and said where her efforts would be best used. Fudge was a name thrown into the bid for Speaker, and frankly, I would love to see her in that position, and again we see strategy and mindfulness at play, as Fudge will be the Chair of the House Administration sub-committee on Elections–fantastic! Please help Georgia and Florida. If we are to dismantle the autocratic/fascist government that 45 has laid the groundwork for, we must be strategic. But we must also resist buying into a misogynistic narrative.

Sadly, 32 Democrats voted against Pelosi (one should note that is 11 fewer than the number of Republicans that did not support Ayn Rand– oops, I mean Paul Ryan — for Speaker). Of course, one of those voices against Pelosi was Republican Kurt Schrader of Oregon–oops, I mean Democrat Kurt Schrader; it is exceedingly difficult to see where his loyalties lie. He reminds me of Zell Miller of Georgia, who purported to be a Democrat, but those of us paying attention were not fooled or surprised when he showed up as the keynote at the 2004 Republican National Convention throwing his support for George W. Bush–the good ole days when we thought there could be no one worse than Bush.

This mid-term election is sending the most diverse Democratic caucus ever to Washington, largely elected on a progressive, pro-health-care platform. As Speaker, Nancy Pelosi must recognize these facts and continue her commitment to progressive policies and new leadership opportunities for a broader spectrum of Democrats. In return, her caucus must recognize her strong, smart leadership; her clear focus and strong voice is one of the reasons that the Democrats flipped more seats than any time since Watergate. 45’s administration demands seasoned opposition leadership, which Pelosi can clearly supply. Over the next two years, let’s groom those who can move into leadership and help advance progressive causes that allow for greater equity for all people in the United States.

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How Dare You Kate Brown!

1 Oct

Watching the myriad Knute Buehler commercials on every network seems to address how truly systemic, institutional, and ubiquitous misogyny is, even here in “progressive” Oregon. How dare you, Kate Brown for being an effective, smart, and strong woman. Don’t you know that here in the United States we don’t want to see or hear smart and strong women? Watching the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas hearings 27 years ago to watching the Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh hearings this week, it is painfully clear that we don’t want women’s voices in government. So who is going to save the country? Who will save Oregon? It looks to me like some angry women in elevators (true heroes, Maria Gallagher and Ana Maria Archila) will save the country, and I think Kate Brown is the woman to lead Oregon and who will remove barriers for all who carry targeted identities.

It is particularly difficult to watch the almost comical lies Buehler is spreading about Governor Brown. His lies range from the outrageous to the insane. I’m waiting for Buehler to blame Brown for the Scotts Mills earthquake that hit Oregon in 1993, or that she orchestrated the tsunami that just hit Indonesia–my she is powerful. Let us unpack some of the lies, so that we can all be better informed–granted this is for people who are concerned with facts, since facts have now become passè with Buehler and the Republican party. Let’s address the big ole lie regarding his blaming Brown for Oregon ranking number 48 in public schools. The fact is that, sadly, we already held that ranking before Brown became governor. Moreover, I need to underscore that Herr Buehler voted against creating smaller class sizes and voted against increasing teacher wages; this behavior/voting record only contributes to weakening our public schools. Buehler also lays the problem of homelessness at the feet of Brown–wow! Really? This attack is so unseemly and categorically false, yet I fear people will believe him because he is using the GOP method of lying: “just keep repeating it and people will eventually think it is true.” What is also disturbing is that Buehler has no realistic plan to address the system of poverty and homelessness. Whereas Governor Brown has been working to address poverty and remove barriers from people experiencing homelessness. It is also nice to see that President Obama endorsed Governor Brown.

Rep. Buehler’s website contains many “issues” pages with one common theme: start with a rant against Gov. Brown with no facts or substance, then spout lofty, vague platitudes about “working together” and “solving problems”. How committed is he to addressing Oregon’s problems? According to his voting record, not very. Over the past five years, he has voted against all of the following: statewide access to healthcare, requiring coverage for abortions and contraception, extending gun purchase background checks, prohibiting immigration status requirements, protecting tenants from capricious evictions (thus increasing the population experiencing homelessness), increasing the minimum wage, requiring employers to provide paid sick leave, and establishing seamless voter registration (one of Gov. Brown’s signature accomplishments, by the way). He has a 0% rating from the SEIU and a 93% rating from the NRA. The ACLU gives him a 33% and the Oregon Education Association a dismal 31%. Business and corporate groups consistently rate him in the 90s while environmental groups all rate him 40% or lower.

Knute Buehler is really good at finding marginalized and targeted people who are legitimately frustrated and spinning their stories into his web of lies. What he isn’t good at is actually identifying solutions to Oregon’s problems. He attacks PERS because it’s convenient, ignoring the fact that PERS security and education funding would both be solved by fixing our state’s ridiculous tax laws.

Gov. Brown is a dedicated, creative, passionate public servant. She’s actually interested in putting in the work to solve Oregon’s problems. Rep. Buehler is a self-serving, self-identified “moderate” who cares more about being Governor than being honest. His legislative record shows a callow conservative who votes against women, immigrants, victims of violence, the poor, and the disenfranchised. For all his talk about “fixing education”, he votes against schools.

Don’t be fooled. Knute Buehler may not be a raving lunatic like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R – SC, aka Gollum serving his dark lord 45), but his calm demeanor hides a corporate agenda that will do nothing to make Oregon better.

I also want to give a shout out to the brilliant Stacey Abrams, who is running for Governor of Georgia. Like Brown, she is enduring false attacks from the very racist, homophobic, misogynist, Brian Kemp. Again, we see a woman, and a woman of color who is being attacked for being smart, a woman, and being black–definitely a common theme in the United States.

Call to action: VOTE! Call your senators. Campaign for candidates that support all people, not just white, heterosexual, cis, able bodied men.

In an attempt to be fair to Knute Buehler, I tried repeatedly to call his office and his campaign staff, only to get a voice recording. I left messages, but Mr. Buehler, nor anyone from his campaign got back to me.

Dr. Monica Wehby, the Hollow Candidate

22 Aug

Monica WehbyThe 2014 mid-term elections have conservatives salivating, and the Tea Party holds out hope they can gets folks to drink their rancid brew. With many Congressional Democrats retiring and a handful of red-state Democrats seen as highly vulnerable, the GOP is working hard to retake the Senate. If they succeed, President Obama’s final two years in office will make his first six look like a productive picnic. Despite the friendly playing field, conservative operatives are trying not to take anything for granted, noting the many deeply flawed candidates that have cost them probable seats in the past two cycles. (Remember these charm free folks: Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle?) To hedge their bets, they’re looking at less likely pickups and dumping huge amounts of money on some long-shots. The amount of money being poured into GOP hopeful Monica Wehby’s campaign is disturbing. I suspect there are many countries that run on budgets that are much less than what the Koch brothers are pouring into campaigns such as Wehby’s.

The support for Wehby is perplexing. She’s running against Senator Jeff Merkley, the first man to receive the Marilyn Epstein Pro-Choice Champion Award from the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, who is finishing his first term. He’s popular, effective, and honest, but as a Freshman may be vulnerable. Despite the conventional wisdom, Oregon is NOT a blue state, but rather a very purple state with a slight Democratic edge in statewide races. The Koch Brothers and their ilk (The top 1%) have decided that this makes Oregon a potential pickup, so they found themselves a candidate.

Sadly, they did a worse job of vetting their pick than Sen. John McCain (R – Angrytown) did when he chose half-term half-wit Sarah Palin as a running mate. Dr. Monica Wehby is a surgeon and a political newcomer. In a “throw the bums out” year with Congressional approval ratings at an all-time low, this telegenic candidate seems promising. Until she tries to pick a position on, well, anything. Sadly, a number of advertisements against Senator Merkley  are already in full swing.

Before winning the GOP primary, Wehby made headlines for her history of stalking ex-boyfriends. She spun that as proof that she’s a determined person who would work hard to get what she wants in the Senate. The two different and independent stalking cases are pretty serious and my first thought was: “Oy! I only hope she does not have a gun on her.”  She also gained some notoriety for fleeing press conferences and debates once she’d used up her carefully crafted talking points. When pressed about LGBT rights in a TV interview, she kept talking about marriage equality, even though the question was about anti-discrimination laws. She says she’s pro-life but would support a woman’s right to choose while celebrating laws like “partial birth” abortion bans. She says she supports equal pay for women while saying that laws that actually enforce equal pay are bad because they would make employers hire more men to avoid lawsuits. Really. Stammering, stunned, and wide-eyed, she clearly isn’t comfortable taking a position that hasn’t been fed to her by the Kochs and their cronies. Again, I am reminded of Charles Durning’s performance of Dance A Little Sidestep from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

Suddenly that Koch money is showing up on the airwaves. Wehby’s new ads are everywhere, trying to make her sound like a smart fiscal conservative. She attacks Sen. Merkley for voting to raise the debt ceiling and for opposing a balanced budget amendment. With a homey but deeply flawed analogy between the Federal budget and household money management, she manages to avoid any real fiscal facts. Raising the debt ceiling was critical to avoiding another, worse financial meltdown if the US were seen to ignore its obligations. The debt that Sen. Merkley wisely voted to keep paying is mostly the result of the fiscal ineptitude of George W. Bush and two pointless, costly wars. The balanced budget amendment is a nightmarish concoction that would hamstring the government. Economists both liberal and conservative decry it as a disaster that should be avoided at all costs. As an experienced legislator, Sen. Merkley knows this. I continue to be shocked and mortified that such falsehoods are allowed to be aired!  I know that in Georgia the Koch money is spreading lies and attacking Democrat hopeful Michelle Nunn. Koch money is fueling elections across the entire country.

It’s clear that Dr. Wehby is intended to be the anti-Merkley. That’s certainly true. Sen Merkley is an experienced, talented legislator with a deep understanding of the issues and a true passion for the needs of Oregon’s citizens. Monica Wehby is a shallow political puppet pursuing a Senate seat just because. Oregon’s choice this November is clear.

Update: Wow! I’m rather appalled and nonplussed to see Ben West doing a commercial supporting Wehby. Mr. West, I’m curious as to how you would support Wehby when she was NOT pro-marriage equality until after it was a fait accompli?  I’m also curious that she was not at Gay Pride nor has she attended a Basic Rights Oregon function?  In the commercial you assert that she is for all families, but it seems rather obvious that she is only for white wealthy families, and now you her token gay friend.

Bigot of the Week, April 25: Earl Bullard

25 Apr
Boss Hogg or Earl Bullard?

Boss Hogg or Earl Bullard?

I want to thank my friend and LGBT ally, Jennifer Carey for inspiring me to address this week’s BWA.  Apparently, Earl Bullard and his cronies would prefer drunk drivers in the state of South Carolina to having LGBT folk, specifically Crystal Moore as the openly lesbian police chief of Latta, South Carolina.

Sadly, South Carolina is just one of 29 states that has no legal protection for LGBT folks.  Consequently, one can be denied employment for membership in the LGBT community.  Bullard seems more like a caricature after he spews his homophobic venom:

I would much rather have.. and I will say this to anybody’s face… somebody who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children.

Because that ain’t the damn way it’s supposed to be. You know.. you got people out there — I’m telling you buddy — I don’t agree with some of the lifestyles that I see portrayed and I don’t say anything because that is the way they want to live, but I am not going to let my child be around…I’m not going to let 2 women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it. And I’m not going to see them do it with 2 men neither.

My goodness. So according to Mayor Earl Bullard children are far safer riding in a car with a drunk driver than a sober lesbian police chief? I must confess, I am having some difficulty grasping the logic here.  I suspect our Bullard also believes there is a Big Gay Agenda trying to take over the world — bwah-ha-haah!

CALL TO ACTION: Bullard’s behavior only proves how desperately we need to pass ENDA and protect the LGBT community from discrimination. Currently, it is legal under federal law to fire someone for being gay. Under state and local law, it depends on each state and municipality whether gay people are protected in employment. Act locally AND nationally — if you have local protection laws, ensure they are enforced; if not, work to get them passed. This year’s midterm elections are a great opportunity to ensure that the next Congress will be ENDA supporting.

DISHONORABLE MENTION this week goes to Georgia’s legislature and Gov. Nathan Deal. In their infinite wisdom, they have passed the most generous concealed carry law in the nation, allowing guns in schools, libraries and numerous other public places. The law also starkly reduces penalties for being caught with a firearm in an airport making the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, one of the most dangerous.

Hero of the Week Award, August 23: Antoinette Tuff

23 Aug
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

This week, tragedy was averted; this week, children did not die. Credit for the peaceful resolution to a potentially devastating situation goes to one person: Antoinette Tuff.

When Michael Brandon Hill  walked into Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, GA with an AK47 style rifle, anything could have happened. Fortunately, he encountered Tuff, a clerk and bookkeeper at the school. Hill said he was off his medication and wanted her to call a probation officer. She called 911 and began to quietly and calmly reassure Hill that everything could work out fine. Even as Hill fired his weapon into the floor, she kept the line open and kept talking to him. While 870 students — Pre-K to 5th Grade — were evacuated, she was a model of courage and compassion.

The 911 recordings show a woman dedicated to humanity. She shares her own struggles, telling Hill about her husband leaving her and her disabled son, making herself a real person to him in the tense moment. She offered him encouragement.

It’s going to be all right, sweetie. I just want you to know I love you, though, OK?… We all go through something in life…You going to be OK.

It was building relationship with words of love and support and understanding, not armed guards or concealed pistols in teachers’ desks, that helped Hill make the right decision. Even after a brief exchange of gunfire with police, he was able to hear Tuff’s message and surrender. As things came to a close, what did this heroic woman say?

We not going to hate you, baby. It’s a good thing that you’re giving up, so we’re not going to hate you.

In the face of potential violence, she expressed compassion. She allowed Hill to retain his humanity, dignity, and that human chose to seek more help rather than be another horrifying statistic.

Thank you, Antoinette Tuff, for doing all the right things. Not just calling 911 as procedure demanded, but for seeing a person in pain and doing everything you could to help. Dozens of lives may have been spared, and millions have seen the power of a caring word triumph over the threat of a weapon.  Would that we had more Antoinette Tuffs in the world that answer violence with love and compassion rather than hate and more violence. Brava, Ms. Tuff!

Bigot of the Week Award: April 12, Brad Paisley and LL Cool J

12 Apr
Bigots of the Week

Bigots of the Week

The musical merging of Brad Paisley and LL Cool J is strange enough as a concept. Sadly, it also results in a horrific song. The title, Accidental Racist, is bad enough, demonstrating a blatant race to innocence and ignorance of privilege. The lyrics are even worse. Paisley defends wearing the Confederate battle flag as a simple expression of “southern pride” while implying that the way people may look down on Southern whites is somehow comparable to centuries of institutionalized racism.

I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done
And it ain’t like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn’t start this nation
We’re still pickin’ up the pieces, walkin’ on eggshells, fightin’ over yesterday
And caught between southern pride and southern blame

Paisley doubles down by name-checking Lynyrd Skynyrd, the band whose Sweet Home Alabama famously celebrates George Wallace.

We’ve noted Paisley’s behavior previously, notably his overt homophobia. More surprising is hip hop star LL Cool J joining in the song. He engages in some tragic overidentification with the oppressor, rapping

If you don’t judge my do-rag
I won’t judge your red flag.
If you don’t judge my gold chains
I’ll forget the iron chains.

So trendy street bling somehow neutralizes militant defense of human slavery and a long history of racist laws that were designed to define “whiteness” and oppress black folk? That’s a seriously offensive and dangerous message. Even in the controversy, however, both artists continue to defend the song, with Paisley stating, “I wouldn’t change a thing.” I’m sure you wouldn’t, Brad.  I’m sure “some of your best friends are black, or gay.”  Wow, his obliviousness to his own unearned power and privilege make me rather ill.  While, I don’t expect any better from Paisley, I am rather disappointed in L L Cool J–who is not so cool!

Dishonorable mention this week goes to Rep. Paul Broun (R – GA). The arch-conservative, who is running to replace retiring bigot Saxby Chambliss in the Senate next year, was responding to a proposal (currently shelved, by the way) to include gender reassignment surgery in Medicare and Medicaid coverage. The ever-delightful Broun commented:

I don’t want to pay for a sex change operation. I’m not interested. I like being a boy.

Apparently he also likes being a bigot and an idiot. Don’t want a sex change, Rep. Broun? DON’T HAVE ONE! But don’t use your power to prevent others from receiving reasonable medical care.

Black History Month 2013: Julian Bond

18 Feb

Julian_BondToday we honor and celebrate an outspoken pioneer for civil rights and social justice and one of my personal heroes. Horace Julian Bond was born in Nashville in 1940. He grew up in rural Fort Valley, GA, where his father was president of the university. He enrolled in Morehouse College, where he helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He became its communications director and helped organize protests against segregation in public facilities in Georgia. He left school to spend more time as an activist; he would return to Morehouse and complete his BA in English at the age of 31–yay for English majors!

After the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, Bond was one of eight African Americans elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. The House refused to seat him, citing his vocal opposition to the Vietnam War. He lost an initial court case but appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices ruled unanimously that Bond’s freedom of speech was being denied and compelled the Georgia House to seat him. He served in the Georgia house until 1975 and then in the Georgia Senate until 1987.

While still serving in Georgia politics, he co-founded the Southern Poverty Law Center with Morris Dees in 1971 and served as its president for eight years. He also worked in education, teaching at a number of universities until 1998. That year he was selected as chairman of the NAACP, a role he held for 11 years. He helped create the 100th anniversary celebrations for the organization in 2009.

Julian Bond is an amazing voice for social justice and truly understands the intersections of oppression. He reluctantly boycotted the funeral of his friend Coretta Scott King because it was held in a viciously anti-gay megachurch. He shares King’s support of the LGBT community and has been a vocal advocate throughout his career.

African Americans […] were the only Americans who were enslaved for two centuries, but we were far from the only Americans suffering discrimination then and now. Sexual disposition parallels race. I was born this way. I have no choice. I wouldn’t change it if I could. Sexuality is unchangeable.

He has also recorded a marriage equality spot for the Human Rights Campaign and has notably observed, “If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married.”

Bond is currently a Distinguished Professor in Residence at American University in Washington, D.C. and a faculty member in the history department at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, where he teaches history of the Civil Rights Movement. He also finds time to advocate for responsible legislation to address climate change. What an amazing and inspirational figure!  Bond is a national treasure!

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