Tag Archives: GOP

The Entitled Homeless

16 Apr

The number of people experiencing homelessness is growing exponentially as we watch and witness homeless camps popping up in both urban and rural areas across the United States. The entitlement I see with this community is astonishing! I’ve noticed that people experiencing homelessness have the audacity to want to be treated as human beings and want access to food, shelter, clothing, and access to hygiene and the ability to just go to the bathroom. There is an expectation that they be recognized, seen as human beings, perhaps even deign to make eye contact.

Sadly, the culture that is well established here is that we have created a narrative that not only vilifies people who are homeless, but we have managed to vilify poverty and to create insurmountable barriers for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. I also want to acknowledge the disproportionality of targeted communities that intersect with being homeless–the overrepresentation of the LGBTQ community and people of color.

What prompted me to write this article was a string of recent events I witnessed. On my way back from Medford, Oregon where I was doing an equity and inclusion workshop, I stopped at the Burger King to grab a bite to eat before heading back to Portland. While sitting in the restaurant eating my lunch, I saw a young man enter the building and go directly to the bathroom. (I had just used the bathroom and it only accommodates one person at a time, so one has to lock the door) Behind me, there was a man that I would guess was in his mid 50’s, white, heterosexual, cisgender, with a shirt that said “Jesus loves me.” This man threw a fit that the young man got to the bathroom before him. He threw such a tantrum that he started banging on the bathroom door and demanded the young man get out. He then proceeded to demand to see the manager of the restaurant where he went into a rage that was so loud everyone could hear him. He screamed at the manager: “There’s some homeless kid that ran into the bathroom and now he has locked himself in there–he has no business being in there and you need to get him out!”

Of course, this sparked my own rage and the need to intercede. As I watched the manager and now two other employees banging on the bathroom door, I approached the manager and explained that first, the man throwing the tantrum does not know if the young man is homeless or not, and that secondly and more importantly, he has the right to use the bathroom regardless. Homeless people have the right to go to the bathroom! I would love to say that the manager and the two employees heard me and backed away to allow this person to use the bathroom with a modicum of dignity. Most unfortunately, they did not.

Last week, I was doing an equity workshop in downtown Eugene, Oregon. I went to get a coffee at the Starbucks. There are a critical number of homeless people around this particular Starbucks. I needed to use the bathroom and — quite disturbing to me — one has to have a code to use the bathroom. It is very clear that this now common practice of putting coded locks on bathroom facilities is to prevent people who are homeless from having access. I must confess, this whole absurd barrier is more than just mind boggling for me, for it speaks to the ugliness of just how awful humans can be. Even more tragically, these painful examples relate to just one key challenge faced by those experiencing homelessness. Our nation’s apparent intent to dehumanize them fully adds burden after burden.

More disturbing is that because of the recent overhaul of the social structuring of the United States in the grotesque guise called the Tax Cuts, we can certainly expect the homeless population to increase. All of this begs the question of how do we care for our communities? How do we address systems that create such horrific disparities in wealth and the hoarding of wealth? How painfully ironic that Paul Ryan, one of the chief architects of the Tax Cuts/Reform, has announced that he will retire at the age of 48 after stealing safe retirement from millions, compounding the homelessness crisis. Until we can purge the inhumane from the halls of government, how can we hope to treat all people with humanity? How do we assert our individual and collective voices to remind those who work in government are civil servants–just a side note–the ship has sailed on Scott Pruitt, Paul Ryan, and most of the GOP in their understanding the notion what it means to be a civil servant.

Take Action: There are things all of us can do. Find a way to get involved with a shelter that provides services without conditions. Donate money to some of the following organizations: Sisters of the Road, Street Roots, and Central City Concern.

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GOP Tax Plan: A Complete Social Restructuring of the United States

4 Dec

Welcome to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, 500 pages of far-right dreams smashed together in two weeks and rushed to a vote in the middle of the night. While there is an enormous amount of this plan that we should all be mortified about — specifically how it hoards wealth for the top 20% of Americans and steals money from the poor and middle class — there is far more going on here, much of which has little to do with tax “reform.”  I worry that most people are not paying attention to everything it does over time, as evidenced by the fact that most of the people who voted to rush this through have not even read the whole plan, nor have there been any substantive hearings or analysis provided. This massive document is also difficult to read because much of the marginalia is hand written scribbles, eliminating even concerned senators’ ability to read and understand the implication of the entire document before voting on it.

In addition to the sociopathic maldistribution of wealth this plan secures, the social ramifications are profound and are antithetical to what we have worked so hard to accomplish in the ways of equity in the past 100 years.  For example, this plan includes Medicare reductions that will end cancer treatment for people on Medicare. Yes, you read that correctly. This sounds like a death panel to me, and it should not come as a surprise, given that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have been working to dismantle Medicare for years now. Oh, and as an added bonus it eliminates the Individual Mandate from the Affordable Care Act, basically robbing 13 MILLION Americans of coverage.

As outlined in the Chronicle of Higher Education, this bill creates even more barriers for people who are not in the top 20% of Americans to afford a college education. For example, this bill puts additional taxes on charitable donations to colleges that allow for financial aid. Small liberal arts colleges are heavily dependent on charitable gifts to survive. The message is quite clear, the GOP does not value education, as further evidence that Betsy DeVos is the secretary of Education. People do your homework here! Obviously, the lack of access to eduction benefits the GOP, as it encourages ignorance and precludes critical thinking skills: skills that would allow people to ask questions of the government, the people that are supposed to be public servants.

Another alarming part of this bill — so alarming I needed to get my smelling salts just to be able to write this — is the reversal of The Johnson Amendment. Yes, this is part of the Religious Freedom Act (specifically Christian agenda freedom) coming from the far right wing, which now controls our government. The Johnson Amendment, created by LBJ in 1954, prohibits all non-profits, or what is called a 501 (c) (3) from making any type of political endorsement or stand to lose their tax exempt status. Trump and his henchmen are now about to reverse this in this tax plan, but ONLY for churches, allowing them to become tax-free lobbying organizations. So much for separation of church and state.

The bill slashes the corporate tax rate, eliminates the bulk of the estate tax, and changes “pass-through” business taxation in a way that benefits only the wealthiest of business owners. These changes are PERMANENT. The tweaks that MIGHT make a small change for poor and middle class taxpayers expire within the first three years. At the end of ten years, the vast majority of households making $75,000 or less will see their taxes rise, often by 20% or more.

Many deductions are eliminated or severely curtailed including bike-to-work incentives, moving expenses, most mortgage and home sale deductions, tax preparation deductions, and disaster relief deductions. State and local tax deductions are greatly reduced, penalizing blue states that fund federal programs for red states.

The bill will increase the deficit by at LEAST $1 TRILLION. So much for the party of fiscal responsibility. Deficit hawks like Sen. Flake and Sen McCain (the Arizona Stooges) believe that wealth will trickle down as businesses have more revenue, even though EVERY major corporation interviewed has indicated that the vast majority of this revenue will be used to pay bonuses and reward stockholders, giving no benefit to the average American. Sen. Murkowski sold out her constituents in exchange for getting drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Yeah, that’s a tax issue… Sen. Collins accepted a fig leaf promise for a vote someday on an ACA bill that won’t come close to solving the problems caused by the loss of the individual mandate. Sens. Johnson and Daines pretended that minor changes to the pass-through rules would help small business owners. Overall, over 20% of Republican Senators had major objections to the bill but voted for it with vague changes and vaguer promises.

The most nefarious impact is yet to come. As that big deficit hole comes into reality, Republicans will certainly use it to insist on austerity measures. This is a feature, not a bug. As the deficit grows, they will insist that Social Security, medicaid, and medicare be slashed to balance the budget.

Our only hope for derailing this monstrosity is putting pressure on the conference process that will reconcile the House bill (awful in many different ways) with the Senate abomination. Getting the House to accept all the little tweaks and odditities may be difficult, and losing them may make the final bill impossible to pass again in the Senate.

TAKE ACTION: Contact your Representative and Senators and demand that they stop this horrible bill. It’s not tax “reform”, it won’t serve the middle class, it crushes the poor, and it includes elements that will reshape the social network and basic protections that we rely on today into something mean, nasty, and unrecognizable.

Difficulty Feeling Bad For John McCain: The Point Of No Return

26 Jul

Yesterday marks a very sad day in the history of the United States, albeit we have had too many sad days since 45 was elected. Yesterday was particularly unconscionable, in that we witnessed 50 senators and the Vice President actively taking steps to take away health insurance for millions of Americans — a new low, even for the GOP. Yes, the Republicans are moving forward on Trumpcare when it does not even exist yet.

Another exceedingly problematic part to this equation is that Senator John McCain (who has been on the wrong side of history for at least the past two decades) showed up to Washington, DC only to vote the wrong way. The irony is more than just heavy, given his recent diagnosis of a brain tumor while he has the best healthcare plan possible in this country, paid by taxpayer dollars. Yes, while McCain and all of Congress don’t have to worry about healthcare, Mr. Maverick voted to take away health insurance for over 20 million Americans. I am having a very difficult time trying to have compassion for the homophobic, misogynistic, racist, John McCain. While he frothed at the mouth about how ridiculous this whole process has been, he nevertheless decided to participate and is part of the ridiculousness and he is a part of the problem. I’m quite nonplussed as to how this is “Making America Great Again,” a quote by 45 that has always felt like coded racist language to me, for “Making America White Again.” McCain’s hypocrisy is emblematic of the hypocrisy that is the Republican party.

It has been difficult to keep up with the blog in the past six months, as I find it more than a little bit depressing to keep up with how destructive 45 and this administration have been. I seem to get at least two or three new stories from the New York Times every day about how 45 has embarrassed the nation yet again. For those that are holding hope that he will be impeached, it is not going to happen, as much as I would love to get rid of this entire administration. The sociopathic duo known as Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are not going to bring 45 up for impeachment. Let us instead take action and prepare for the 2018 midterm election.

For those experiencing great 45 Fatigue ( a new diagnosis that I am introducing and should be in the DSM), I would offer this: finds ways of taking care. For me, I have to cut off any news after an hour. I am also watching a lot of good television. I highly recommend watching Daytime Divas with Vanessa Williams and Tichina Arnold.

Updated July 28, 2017

While McCain eventually voted the right way, why did he not vote earlier NOT to proceed? Why participate in the drama and waste of tax dollars? I also feel the need to underscore that McCain is NOT a hero here. In fact, I want to applaud Senator Lisa Murkowski, rare that I applaud a Republican. Murkowski was threatened by 45 and his administration and she refused the bribes from McConnell.

When Will Integrity Become Fashionable Again?

5 Jun

The GOP On The Wrong Side of History

The past 134 days, 10 hours, and 8 minutes have been far more excruciating than I would have ever thought. 45 has managed to encourage and  celebrate racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and misogyny in unprecedented ways. We seem to wake up everyday to discover yet another way in which 45 has trashed the Constitution of the United States and found ways to install himself as dictator.  According to NBC News, CBS News, Slate.com, and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s collected data, Hate Crimes have risen exponentially — specifically crimes against the LGBT community, Jews, women, people of color, and Muslims.

Here in Portland, Oregon the White Supremacist group/pro-Trump rally will march on Sunday, in the wake of the murders of Ricky Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche. These murders were committed by White Supremacist, Jeremy Joseph Christian. Sadly, despite the efforts of Mayor Ted Wheeler to ask the group not to march on Sunday, the response was: “if you don’t let us march, we can’t guarantee there won’t be violence.”

Violence seems to be the language of the Republican party today. The GOP encourage it, reward it, and celebrate it. We have no further to look at last week’s debacle with Greg Gianforte. Gianforte was approached by a journalist from the Guardian, Ben Jacobs. After Jacobs asked a question about healthcare, the multi-millionaire Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands, body slammed him, and threw him to the ground breaking his glasses. Sadly and disgustingly, the GOP rallied around the millionaire and vilified the journalist. It does not take much to connect the dots here.

When the President of the United States vilifies the free press by declaring that “the free press is the enemy of the state,” it is not a surprise that Gianforte and the other GOP bullies feel emboldened to become physically violent. I thought people who are leaders and in positions of power were supposed to model how to be in community and how to use our words. Rather, what is being modeled is physical violence and an inability to be honest and honor the First Amendment. Maybe it is just me, but I don’t believe Gianforte should be allowed to hold public office.  Lest we forget another obnoxious example of Republican violence against the press: New York Republican Michael Grimm. Grimm threatened a reporter and said: “Let me be clear to you. If you ever do that to me again I will throw you off this fucking balcony.”  Sorry, that just does not seem like leadership qualities to me. Fortunately, Grimm is now in prison — not for assault against people in the press, but for the breaking of tax laws. Speaking of which, where are 45’s tax returns? Oh, right. We have not seen them.

The bigger picture for me and what I find most profoundly disturbing, is there does not seem to be one member in the Republican party who has just a shred of integrity or human decency. There is no one willing to come forward and call out bad, illegal, and unethical behavior.  Unlike Watergate, there is no one willing to stand up to 45. Where is our John Dean? 45 continues to lie to the American people and to the press and not one Republican officeholder finds this problematic. The new Trumpcare health plan will deny 23 million people access to health care, including me and my family, and Ayn Rand’s response, oops, I mean Paul Ryan’s response was: (my computer always does auto-correct from Paul Ryan to Ayn Rand) “We are keeping our promise.” It is very difficult not to hear the racism here as, “We promise to undo everything that black man did.”

Sadly, every day just seems to get worse and worse. I wake up each morning waiting  to learn what human rights will this administration violate, what more supports will be put in place that dismantle democracy and firmly establish an authoritarian government. Is there anyone who can put this man and his administration in check? I grow exhausted with the tagline being pushed over at Fox and by 45’s team that he is “working for America.”  What America are y’all talking about? I, too, live in America, as does my husband, my black friends and family members, my queer Muslim family members, my Latino friends and family. 45 is not working to help us!

The one place where 45 told the truth was when he declared “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and not lose any voters.”  Apparently, that has now turned out to be true. I am more than just a little sad about what this says about our country. Trump is not just shooting somebody, he is hurting over two thirds of the population of the United States, not to mention all of the people on the earth he is harming because of his delusional beliefs around climate change. Where are the GOP voices that will shout out “Enough!”? There must be one of you that has a modicum of integrity.

I can only hope that “Covfefe” means Impeachment.

Feeling Grateful in Time of Great Despair: Happy New Year

1 Jan
2017:Organize

2017:Organize

2016 has been an exceedingly painful, turbulent, and awful year. Since turning 50 three weeks ago, I have been deeply troubled by the current course of the United States under what can only be called a Fascist regime, under Trump and his merry band of racists, misogynists, and homophobic collectibles, who seem to want to dismantle all of the agencies that serve people in the United States. Their collective efforts will ensure that the top 20% of Americans not only keep their wealth but will build on it exponentially — a wet dream for Paul Ryan. Sadly,  author Thomas Pynchon  captures the philosophy of the 21st century GOP:

Back when I was getting into the business, all ‘being Republican’ meant really was sort of principled greed. You arranged things so that you and your friends would come out nicely, you behaved professionally, above all you put in the work and took the money only after you’d earned it. Well, the party, I fear, has fallen on evil days. This generation — it’s almost a religious thing now. The millennium, the end days, no need to be responsible anymore to the future. A burden has been lifted from them. The Baby Jesus is managing the portfolio of earthy affairs, and nobody begrudges Him the carried interest…

There is no sense of paying it forward — no sense of leaving the earth a better place for future generations. No, the rules have changed and now it is about getting all you can and getting more than you need, regardless if others have to go without, and future generations have to suffer for it.

As I have turned 50, I am witnessing our country turn backwards and turn its back on all targeted individuals and communities. For those predicting an economic windfall under TrumpPutin, I worry you are a bit delusional. I am most regrettably predicting a recession that will be just as traumatic as the one George W paved the way for during his administration.

While it has been most challenging not to give into a misanthropic abyss, or The Princess Bride’s “Pit of Despair,”  I have also had to do some serious reflection as we are about to usher in 2017. While I am terrified of what the next four years have in store, I have to also be exceedingly grateful for the life I have.

Here is what I have that makes me share tears of joy: A life partner whom I love and adore and who loves me as we get to travel this journey of life together; such amazing family and friends who make my heart swell with love — friends who constantly make me work to be a better person. These two things alone give me hope and make me so extraordinarily grateful! I know I am strong enough to persevere and resist a fascist regime.

I know how to engage in community organizing, how to stand in solidarity for human rights and social justice. I know how to keep vigilant and NOT normalize our current condition. I also know I do not do this work alone, for I do this work with my brilliant family and friends! To all of you: I say thank you! Happy New Year. I wish you all peace and that you each are surrounded by love.

National Coming Out Day 2016: Supporting Each Other

11 Oct

coming-outGrab your smelling salts, clutch your pearls: I have big news. I am gay, queer, a homosexual. Yes, it is true. October 11 is National Coming Out Day. Why do we need this day? Why do we need to celebrate this day?

I cannot underscore enough the importance of being out and visible.  The more visible we are as a community, the more difficult it is to target us and treat us as sub-human or second class citizens. And here is where the messiness lives.

I cannot underscore enough how being able to be “out” is a privilege I have. I am painfully aware that many people in the United States are not able to “come out,” as the level of risk is too great.  Sadly, we know there are many in the LGBTQ community that the physical and emotional toll would be too great in coming out. Let us stand in solidarity and work to change the entire system that shames and denigrates the queer community. Right now that means to do whatever we can to defeat the horrifically homophobic and misogynistic deplorable duo that is Trump and Pence.

Currently there are 29 states — over half of the US — where it is still legal to actively discriminate against LGBT folk.  Look at this map provided by the ACLU to see where your state stands on protecting rights of LGBTQ people. Yes, in 29 states one can be fired for being gay. Not a big surprise that no state in the South has the slightest protection for the LGBT community. (There do exist individual cities that provide limited protection, but of course look what happened when Charlotte, NC tried to create a safe city — Republican legislators slammed the whole state with the loathsome HB2.)  I guess that wacky Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision from 2003 meant nothing.

Sadly, in this election year, we have only seen venom coming from each GOP candidate regarding LGBTQ rights. Not only are Pence and Trump working to hurt our community, but the reinforcements from the GOP platform are nothing less than embarrassing.  Speaking of embarrassing, the exceedingly ignorant Gary Johnson is not an ally to our community, although a white heterosexual man tried to convince me he is. When you are pro-states rights around LGBTQ issues, you are NOT an ally.

It is imperative that people see this as political! Sadly, we continue to see the numbers rise in homicides and attacks on LGBTQ community; and we know these numbers are not accurate because people are too fearful to identify, or authorities misidentify people.  We need to vote for people who will support LGBTQ rights.

And I  hold out great hope for the future. I also want to thank all of the LGBTQ allies, for there are a great many of you. Let us support one another and stand in solidarity. Come out, come out, where ever you are!

John Boehner and the Implosion of the Republican Party

29 Apr

cruz-devilIf you have followed this blog at all, you already know I have worked hard to expose how awful former Speaker of the House, John Boehner is, which makes it just that more delicious when even Boehner compares Ted Cruz to Satan. To be fair, I suspect Satan looks at Cruz and says: “Gosh, you are kinda mean.”  Boehner’s exact words in describing Cruz were: ““Lucifer in the flesh… I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

My own bias is that yes, Cruz is an awful human being. He is explicitly anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-immigration, in fact, I’m not certain there are actually any people he likes, save for white Christian men–OY! Of course, given the wide berth his colleagues give him, the feeling seems to be mutual. I wonder if we need to ban Cruz from using public bathrooms.

This most recent trouble with Cruz is indicative of something greater at work–the implosion of the Republican party. The wave of Tea Party (right wing extremists) have pulled the GOP into a direction that makes a train wreck look like a lovely afternoon outing. I submit all of the GOP presidential debates as evidence. Cruz’ bizarre attempt at courting Indiana primary voters by trotting out Carly Fiorina as his running mate seems desperate but also exceedingly ignorant, as it holds no weight. If this becomes a contested convention, then the delegates pick the VP candidate. The implosion of this party manifests itself by working to hurt most United States citizens.  The rise of this hateful state has also emboldened the Chief Obstructionist and Racist, Mitch McConnell.

While it becomes more apparent everyday that Cruz needs to be sent to Guantanamo Bay, sadly, that would make him the only person currently that should be there. Let us not forget how equally awful John Kasich is, despite that “Golly Gosh” grin of his.

GOP leaders seem shocked that decades of discrimination and obstruction have left them with these yahoos as their candidates. Many congresscritters running in tight races have even said they won’t show up at the convention. Sorry, folks, but you built this — walking away won’t change a single fact, for you all have created a dirt that just won’t wash clean.

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