Tag Archives: Wizard of Oz

Congressional GOP Gets Lost in Oz

16 Oct

ScareBoehner copyToday’s post will be greatly enhanced if you start humming the wishful tunes of Dorothy’s stalwart companions. The Shutdown has already cost close to 5 Billion Dollars thus far. As the government shutdown enters its third week and the debt ceiling looms, Republicans in the House and Senate seem to be searching for a brain, a heart, and some courage.

IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN! Sadly, the longer the shutdown continues, the more absurd the claims of individual GOP Congresscritters gets. Initially, the refusal to fund the government was presented as a “principled” stand against the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare.”) When their bullying demands were met with stern resistance by Senate Democrats and President Obama, the House GOP got confused very quickly. They still stand for something, they assure us, and they’ll be sure to let us know what it is… as soon as they figure it out.

Almost daily, Speaker John Boehner hints at a new plan, lets a few details leak, holds a short press conference, and fails to bring anything to the floor. Apparently he left the shared brain with Mitch McConnell, who needed it to try to reason out a compromise that might pass the Senate. In the meantime, the usual crew — Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann, Louis Gohmert, Mike Lee, and all the rest of the lollipop guild — keep changing their off-kilter tune. The fight isn’t really about health care (except when it is), it’s about the size of government (except when it isn’t). Forced to abandon their thinly-veiled racist rants against the president’s signature accomplishment, they just don’t know what to do.

IF I ONLY HAD A HEART! Members of Congress continue to draw their salaries while hundreds of thousands of federal workers go without. There’s still no guarantee that retroactive pay will be part of any deal. Even more dramatically, nearly SEVEN MILLION FTE worth of government contractors are without work during the shutdown and have no chance of retroactive pay. All this ignores the thousands of kids turned away from Head Start, the millions deprived of food, medical, and housing care, the thousands more who are just waiting for funds to run out one program at a time. If the shutdown continues to the end of the month, there will be no money to pay out Social Security or Veterans’ Benefits. And, just to prove how heartless they are, GOP leaders in both chambers of Congress are proposing to strip health benefits from their staff, driving them (ironically) to the ACA exchanges without an employer subsidy. You can bet all those staffers would like to drop a house on the leaders of the House.

IF I ONLY HAD THE NERVE! The media still spin this as a problem coming from the far right of the GOP (when they aren’t falsely laying blame on the President). It may be that the loudest voices from the fringe started the shouting, but in every vote so far the Republicans have voted as a tight bloc, more evidence of the GOP sharing one brain. All the so-called moderates have refused to stand up for what’s best for the country. In the Senate, the GOP managed to filibuster a clean debt ceiling bill. If there are voices of reason in the party, they refuse to speak. Sadly, the Gerrymandering of House districts leaves too many representatives sheltered from reality. GOP ratings in polls are dropping like the Wizard’s balloon but most House members can rely on at least a slim majority to return them to office.

CALL TO ACTION: We live in the United States, not Oz. We need elected officials who take their responsibilities as civil servants seriously and who govern with compassion, reason, and courage. Republicans should look seriously at their Representatives and find ways to support new voices in Congress that will bring true compromise and balance. Democrats should take courage and support challenges to GOP folks that seemed undefeatable. The people are paying attention, and the next election should be a clear message about what we really need.

Celebrating LGBTQ History Month: June 10, Judy Garland

10 Jun

Today would have been Judy Garland’s 90th birthday. We take the opportunity to celebrate one of the first and biggest icons of the gay community. Born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, MI, she only lived 47 years and spent 45 of them singing, dancing and acting. She received a Juvenile Academy Award and won a Golden Globe Award, Grammy Awards, and a Special Tony Award. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the remake of A Star is Born and for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the 1961 film, Judgment at Nuremberg. She was the youngest recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in motion pictures at the age of 39.

Judy performed vaudeville with her sisters in an act billed as the Gumm Sisters. They changed it to Garland (after a prominent critic) for more pizzazz. She was signed to MGM at the age of 13, getting her first big break working opposite Mickey Rooney in several Andy Hardy films. At 17, she starred in one of her most famous films, The Wizard of Oz. She continued in a number of musicals in the 40s, finding stardom but also facing weight problems and depression. She also married twice that decade, including  Vincente Minelli, father of her daughter Liza. She suffered her first major breakdown in 1947 and attempted suicide soon after.

She made her first comeback in 1954 with the help of third husband Sid Luft. She returned to the stage and starred in another iconic role in the remake of A Star Is Born. She acted in a number of other movies into the early 60s. Her biggest triumph in her (relatively) later life was her 1961 show at Carnegie Hall, considered one of the finest performances in the venue. She married twice more after Luft and continued to battle depression and addiction. On June 22, 1969 she was found dead in her London apartment, apparently of an accidental overdose of barbiturates and alcohol.

Judy Garland is iconic in gay culture. Her performance as Dorothy is so pitch perfect and so resonates with people who feel trapped (read Kansas as closet), that Friend of Dorothy has been code for gay for decades. Her status is so significant that Wikipedia has an entire entry on Judy Garland as Gay Icon. She was larger than life, glamorous and tragic, married gay men, and loved spending time in gay bars. While never actively courting the gay community (such as it was before her death), she was accepting of gay men simply for who they were, something very rare in her generation. Legend also associates Garland with the Stonewall Riots which kicked off the gay rights movement. According to some stories, the gathering at the Stonewall Inn on June 27, 1969 was to watch her funeral on television. While some dispute this claim, it is just one more thread weaving the bright and tragic life of the legendary Judy into the rainbow flag.

Today is also the birthday of Maurice Sendak, who died last month at the age of 83.

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