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August 10th, 2019

The Final Escape Hatch

I’m not saying it wasn’t arranged…those of us who came of age during the Nixon years understand perfectly well the futility of believing that there are limits to what powerful people in positions of power are capable of. They get that notion of godhood into their brains and it’s absolute power corrupting so on and so forth.

But consider Epstein until very recently had a life few people who have ever lived will ever grok. He had his own island, jets, a staff, socialized with billionaires and powerful men who considered him one of their own, lavish estates, and teenage girls at his beck and call. Also apparently well positioned people in the Administration, the Justice Department and the courts. He had more than enough reason to believe he was beyond the reach of the law. Until a few weeks ago.

Now he finds himself in a cell, looking at spending the rest of his life in prison, and so I’m told child molestors don’t do very well in prison. You might think of him all alone in a tiny cell where before he had his own island to enjoy, but he is not alone, and his companions are not the sort of people you find in the pages of The Robb Report or Elite Traveler. And he has to know it isn’t even rock bottom. Not yet. But rock bottom is coming.

It really isn’t surprising he would consider suicide as the only way forward. To assert it was impossible because he was on a suicide watch is to believe in a kind of prison bureaucratic infallibility I just can’t buy into. Say it would be very hard, sure. But Epstein was very smart, and so they say, affable. How do you think he got young girls to trust him? And…rich people with their money. He was a schemer and a manipulator and you don’t get to the heights he did without being good at it. Means and opportunity. A man like that could figure it out. After his near miss with the law last time he probably spent a lot of time thinking about it.

And knowing his suicide would throw grit into the machinery of justice, and even better, spawn a bazillion conspiracy theories to bedevil everyone who brought him down forever, might have actually given him some comfort on his way to oblivion.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Final Escape Hatch

August 5th, 2019

Lowest Common Denominator Politics

This came across my Twitter feed today…

Yeah…that. As a gay man having lived through the times I have, I’ve often read these manifestos to try and understand the mindset. But it always comes back to how stunningly alike they all are. You read the manifestos, the pamphlets, the long drawn out posts on various online social forums (I joke that I’ve done my time on USENET…) and such…even on their damn cars and trucks you can sometimes see the brain dump…and the one thing you’re struck by is their disturbing similarity, regardless of the specific target of hate.

Some years ago I was watching a documentary on the history of San Francisco’s Chinatown, beginning with the railroad’s importing large numbers of Chinese men to work on building the first transcontinental line. There was an editorial in one of the city newspapers concerning the “Chinese Problem”, and it recited a litany of things Chinese people did (so it claimed), that degraded city life. Drugs, crime, sexual predation, they were ignorant and lazy, but also clever and sly and took the jobs of decent white folk. What struck me about the editorial was how you could have replaced every usage of “Chinese” with a letter “X” and it could have been about any hated minority, then or now.

It’s as if this sort of blind reflexive hate is what you’re left with when you peel away the higher brain functions and we’re back to being east African plains apes that see everything that isn’t the tribe as either something to kill, something to fuck or something to eat. Australopithecus waving a gun, or a bible, howling into microphones on the TV, or throwing ink like it’s shit on the editorial page.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Lowest Common Denominator Politics

March 2nd, 2019

This Didn’t Just Happen Overnight

GOP’s anti-Muslim display likening Rep. Omar to a terrorist rocks W. Virginia capitol

Angry arguments broke out in the West Virginia statehouse on Friday after the state Republican Party allegedly set up an anti-Muslim display in the rotunda linking the 9/11 terror attacks to a freshman congresswoman from Minnesota.

One staff member was physically injured during the morning’s confrontations, and another official resigned after being accused of making anti-Muslim comments.

The display featured a picture of the World Trade Center in New York City as a fireball exploded from the one of the Twin Towers, set above a picture of Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, who is Muslim.

“‘Never forget’ – you said. . .” read a caption on the first picture. “I am the proof – you have forgotten,” read the caption under the picture of Omar, who is wearing a hijab.

The article is about how some West Virginian republicans put up a poster in their statehouse with a picture of one of the Twin Towers being hit on 9/11 and below it a picture of Omar with the caption that she is proof we’ve forgotten 9/11. Something else at the end of the article caught my eye…

Another Republican delegate, Eric Porterfield, was hit with calls to resign last month after he called LGBTQ groups “the closest thing to political terrorism in America” and “a modern day version of the Ku Klux Klan.”

“Let me (be) very clear with my statement,” Porterfield told NBC News then. “The LGBTQ — not homosexuals — are the modern day version of the Ku Klux Klan.”

Well I’m glad he cleared that up.

All this has been a long time coming. And don’t just be blaming talk radio and Fox/Sinclair and all the open sewers deep in the dark corners of the Internet. It is still fresh in my memory how Jimmy Carter called out the Reagan campaign’s racist dog whistles and our liberal news media nearly crucified him for being so rude. And even now they’re still hanging on to their he said/she said both sides boilerplate. The republican speaker of the West Virginia house said We have allowed national level politics to become a cancer on our state . . to invade our chamber in a way that makes me ashamed.” Cancer…maybe. Or a cesspool that nobody cared to shine a light on when it might have made a difference, because that would have been rude.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on This Didn’t Just Happen Overnight

February 24th, 2019

Still Discovering Our Past

I’ve written previously on this life blog of the importance of uncloseting gay people in the history books, and especially uncloseting the history of anti-gay bigotry and persecution. And I’ve asked anyone dropping by this blog and those posts to consider how many times they’ve heard comparisons of the struggles of gay Americans and black Americans denounced because gays never were sold into slavery, never had to ride the back of the bus, never were denied the right to vote. Or comparisons with antisemitism denounced because gays were never herded into extermination camps. How many times have you heard the struggle for gay equality dismissed as the pastime of privileged rich white men. How often have we heard, and still hear, that laws protecting gay people from discrimination are unnecessary, are really just about seeking social approval.

The naked fear among bigots isn’t that homosexuality will be normalized, but that their crimes against so many innocent people will at long last get put under the spotlight of history and they will finally be seen for what they are, not righteous defenders of decency and morality, but predators, proudly ignorant, stunningly immune to any reflex of human sympathy, hungry, ravenously hungry to fill the empty void within them where a heart should have been, with the hearts of others, and all their hopes and all their dreams.

If you don’t have a gay history bookshelf at home, I strongly recommend you start one. Find a little corner somewhere in your nest, get a nice little bookcase from Ikea or some such, and prowl the second hand book stores for titles like And The Band Played On, The Celluloid Closet, A Glimpse Of Hell, The Verdict of You All, Anything But Straight. Or look for some titles more recently published and still in print. Loosing Matt Shepard, The Lavender Scare, Sex Crime Panic, Hoover’s War On Gays. No matter how well you think you know our history, every corner of the gay chronicles has something in it to stun. How did I not know this?? And if it makes you angry, so much the better. Put that anger to use in the voting booth, and in activism to make sure it is never closeted again, along with all of us.

Today I learned something new, courtesy of Peter Thatchell

Sodomy at the time was already a crime in Britain. Labouchere’s amendment to the law criminalized any sexual activity between men. This man’s work is why Oscar Wilde, Alan Turing, and so many others went to prison. It has some resonance with one of the books I recommended above, The Verdict of You All by Rupert Croft-Cooke, who was arrested in his home in 1953 and charged with a “homosexual offense”.  

“Croft-Cooke was a homosexual, which brought him into conflict with the laws of his time. In 1953, at a time when the Home Office was seeking to clamp down on homosexuality, he was sent to prison for six months on conviction for acts of indecency. Croft-Cooke’s secretary and companion, Joseph Alexander, had met two Navy cooks, Harold Altoft and Ronald Charles Dennis, in the Fitzroy Tavern near Tottenham Court Road in London, and invited them to spend the weekend at Croft-Cooke’s house in Ticehurst, East Sussex. During the weekend, they consumed food and alcohol and had sex with both Croft-Cooke and his assistant. On their way home from the weekend, they got drunk and assaulted two men, one of whom was a policeman. They were arrested and agreed to testify against Croft-Cooke to get immunity from prosecution for the assault charges.” –Wikipedia

After Oscar Wilde was convicted, Labouchere expressed regret over the shortness of his two year sentence, which was actually the maximum but not the seven year maximum Labouchere had originally proposed.

This man’s evil remained on the books until 2003, and to this day remains on the books in many former British colonies around the world, where the U.S. religious right keeps itself busy inflaming religious passions against gay people who cannot speak out for themselves without risking a knock on the door and being disappeared. The sodomy laws not only erase us, and our history, they give bigots free rein to tell any filthy lie they can think of about us, without fear of the open sewer they call a conscience being exposed for what it is.

Those fears are now being realized, at least for some that still live. This is why they fight so fiercely against the teaching of this history in the schools, why they support maintaining sodomy laws still on the books, and dream of reestablishing them where they have been repealed. Labouchere is in the grave now, safe from the judgement of history, and one can wonder if karma ever came to visit him while he still lived. But that question is less meaningful for us today than how we remember the lives he managed to destroy for the sake of the emptiness within where a heart should have been, where their should have been kindness and sympathy and love, that no amount of feasting on the hopes and dreams of others can fill. Living our lives openly and proudly is only half the work. Our history must come out of the closet along with us. We must tell our stories, and also the stories of those who came before us, who could not speak openly of their lives while they lived.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Still Discovering Our Past

February 19th, 2019

Oh We’re Not Getting You Wrong Mr. Wayne…

The day Brokeback Mountain got an Oscar nomination, and the stately senior members of the Screen Actors Guild, appalled, said that John Wayne was rolling in his grave, they knew who it was they were talking about…

John Wayne’s Racist and Homophobic Playboy Interview Resurfaces, Twitter Reacts

At the top of the interview, the then 63-year-old is complaining about the “perverted” movies currently being produced, when the interviewer asks him which films he means.

“Oh, ‘Easy Rider,’ ‘Midnight Cowboy’ — that kind of thing,” he horrifyingly replies. “Wouldn’t you say that the wonderful love of those two men in ‘Midnight Cowboy,’ a story about two f–s, qualifies?

“But don’t get me wrong. As far as a man and a woman is concerned, I’m awfully happy there’s a thing called sex. It’s an extra something God gave us. I see no reason why it shouldn’t be in pictures. Healthy, lusty sex is wonderful.”…

Go read all of it. None of this would have surprised anyone the day that Playboy interview was published. Wayne’s hard core right wing kookery was an public joke even back then. Except of course among his fellow Hollywood nutcases like Reagan, Linkletter, DeMille and various studio heads to the right of McCarthy and Nixon. Scratch a homophobe, find a racist…

“I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.”

None of this would have been surprising or controversial to Wayne’s associates in the industry. They would have been nodding their heads in agreement reading it, and telling themselves it was the communists, the New York Jews and all those dirty fucking hippies who were causing trouble with the coloreds. And outside of there, everyone just about knew where Wayne stood. He never made any bones about it. 

None of that registered on me when I was a kid watching raptly whatever was playing in the theaters that week. Back then movie theaters were Palaces where a schoolboy’s dreams and adventures came to life. I used to make a bee line for every new John Wayne flick that hit the theaters. They were Fun. Lots of things were back in those days.

Then I got a bit older, puberty switched on my hormones, and one day I found myself completely twitterpated by a classmate, a junior with long hair, dark eyes to drown in, a smile that made my knees weak, and long legs that moved his hips in ways that made me shiver every time we crossed paths. One day as we walked together out of school he put an arm around my shoulders and I didn’t come back to earth for hours, and when I did I knew something about myself. And also that movie stars I watched raptly on the silver screen, and Science-Fiction writers whose books I devoured, and rockers whose albums I bought and listened to over and over until I wore the groves out…all of them probably thought I was disgusting human garbage.

But I was in teenage love, and nothing had ever felt so healthy and thrilling and wonderful. And if you asked me to trade the good graces of the entire fucking world for just one smile from the guy I was crushing on, I’d have done it in an instant. And perhaps I did, the moment I realized it.

I am in my middle sixties and looking back on that summer crush I am magnitudes more likely to make that trade now. Nothing I ever felt before or since was more pure. I would do it all again. Roll in your fucking graves…all of you.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Oh We’re Not Getting You Wrong Mr. Wayne…

February 14th, 2019

Who Is Normalizing Corruption? Not Trump.

This came across my Facebook news stream this morning…

Shameless Trump favor for donor threatens to normalize corruption

You can’t run that story about what Trump just did with the TVA and his donor and demanding that they use this donor’s coal plant -you can’t run that story as an expose of the president’s shocking behavior if the president is happy to commit things like this in public.

There is no way to embarrass somebody for doing something like this if they’re happy to be seen selling the government in exchange for cash.

If you can’t embarrass or shame anybody about it and you increasingly can’t shock anybody about it, then what do you do with it?

Something though to keep in mind every time you read about Trump, is that people voted for this man. Enough of them that he’s now sitting in the White House, occupying the highest executive office in our system of government. His voters, his base, are just as bad as he is. They feel no shame. They are who is normalizing corruption.

Trump is merely the instrument of the mob that has dogged this nation for decades. Their corruption is widespread. In their politics. In their churches. In their homes. In their souls. You can’t embarrass or shame them, they are in Wilde’s gutter mocking the stars, and have no vantage point from which to understand what shame and embarrassment even are.

But one thing the rest of us can do, whenever those voters, that political base, start babbling about righteousness and morality, is laugh in their faces.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Who Is Normalizing Corruption? Not Trump.

December 31st, 2018

The Gutter Laughs

This is flying across my news feed this morning from every which way…

Parkland Parents Slam Louis C.K. While Club Owner Calls Him a “Genius”

The father of a Parkland shooting victim slammed Louis C.K. as “pathetic, disgusting, vile and gross” after leaked audio revealed the disgraced comedian has been telling jokes about massacre survivors.

But the owner of the club that hosted Louis C.K. said it was an honor to have him on the stage and claimed he got a standing ovation.

I suspect this was the part of the routine that this father is objecting to:

“They testify in front of Congress, these kids? What are they doing?” he said. “You’re young, you should be crazy, you should be unhinged, not in a suit…you’re not interesting. Because you went to a high school where kids got shot? Why does that mean I have to listen to you? You didn’t got shot, you pushed some fat kid in the way, and now I’ve gotta listen to you talking?”

This is what gets a standing ovation in Donald Trump”s America. But it is neither comedy nor satire when it punches down, it is merely uncomplicated straight-up bullying.

So the Parkland survivors and families have become activists for gun control since the shootings. How is that unsurprising? And maybe some of us disagree with the policies they’re advocating, in part or whole. Fine. I’m a gun owner and I disagree with many things I hear from activists on both sides of the issue (and actually it does none of us any good to reduce it to binary positions either). But to mock the horror they went through, and the nightmare they are still living with, and will be for the rest of their lives, is depraved.

You who think this sort of thing is hilarious…you think I have a thin skin? I don’t think so. I’ve endured the homophobic taunts, the catcalls about my appearance, the mud routinely thrown at liberals, atheists, geeks and freaks, and it hasn’t beaten me down yet. But you…what happened to you? What shallow grave did you bury your human status in, because you thought it was making you weak?

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Gutter Laughs

November 10th, 2018

Why The Blue Wave Still Evokes Sadness

We did it. Yes, not every election fell our way, but we did it. A Blue Wave happened. Were it not for republican gerrymandering and voter suppression it would have been a tidal wave. But it was enough. And the victories are still coming in as the early votes and mail in ballots are being counted.

But…do you still feel a bit…anxious? Disturbed? Maybe even a little terrified…still? Ed over at Crooks and Liars gets why

You’re also not sad because Beto lost, or Andrew Gillum lost, or any other single candidate who got people excited this year fell short. They’re gonna be fine. They will be back. You haven’t seen the last of any of them. Winning a Senate race in Texas was never more than a long shot. Gillum had a realistic chance, but once again: It’s Florida.

No, you’re sad for the same reason you were so sad Wednesday morning after the 2016 Election. You’re sad because the results confirm that half of the electorate – a group that includes family, neighbors, friends, random fellow citizens – looked at the last two years and declared this is pretty much what they want. You’re sad because any Republican getting more than 1 vote in this election, let alone a majority of votes, forces us to recognize that a lot of this country is A-OK with undisguised white supremacy. You’re sad because once again you have been slapped across the face with the reality that a lot of Americans are, at their core, a lost cause. Willfully ignorant. Unpersuadable. Terrible people. Assholes, even.

Yeah. That. The 2016 election shouldn’t even have been close, let alone a Trump victory. And where was that women’s vote that was supposed to help sweep democrats into power in those deeply red states? This, from The Guardian, might help you with that…

White women’s identity places them in a curious position at the intersection of two vectors of privilege and oppression: they are granted structural power by their race, but excluded from it by their sex. In a political system where racism and sexism are both so deeply ingrained, white women must choose to be loyal to either the more powerful aspect of their identity, their race, or to the less powerful, their sex.

There’s something that democrats, liberals and progressives reliably fail to get about this country: There’s a hell of a lot of racist, sexist, bigoted fascist scum here. And while some of it may simply be opportunistic and persuadable, a lot more of it is the simple rotten to the core being of the voters. They vote for racists because they are racists. Nationalists, in the sense de Gaulle spoke of…

Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism,
when hate for people other than your own comes first

And it takes all of us pushing back against them to keep the American Dream alive. All of us. They win, by suppressing our votes, by any and all means available to them. And a big part of that, is convincing us that we are helpless, that our votes don’t matter, that the democrats are just as bad so why bother.

And as Ed over at Crooks and Liars says, these people are not just one intelligent, reasoned, conversation away from changing their votes. The America of liberty and justice for all was never their country. Many of them grew to adulthood before the civil rights movement made it possible for their black neighbors to drink from their water fountains, before wives could have their own bank accounts, before the gays could live their lives outside the closet. That was the America they feel they were promised. When you hear them speak of wanting their country back, that is the country they mean. They hate us for taking that America away from them. They hate us for taking the Dream of liberty and justice for all to heart, as an obligation of citizenship, not a slogan to paper over white supremacy. They will always hate us. Always. And there are a Lot of them.

So the next time you hear some pundit yap, yap, yapping about bipartisanship and reaching out across the isle…

Remember this feeling. Remember it every time someone tells you that the key to moving forward is to reach across the aisle, show the fine art of decorum in practice, and chat with right-wingers to find out what makes them tick…

And if that’s not enough, remember the damage they’ve done to this country. All the lives lost to their bar stool ignorant prejudices and hate. Jewish worshipers gunned down by a man driven mad by Fox News/Talk Radio hate propaganda. Unarmed black men and teenage boys gunned down in the streets, reporters tear gassed, arrested, jailed, for covering the protests. Remember the children separated from their parents at the border, many of whom will never see their mothers and fathers again. Remember all the broken hearts. Remember how the Trump voters laugh…their chants of Lock Her Up. Look at the faces in the crowds at Trump’s rallies. Happy faces. Exalted faces. Tomorrow belongs to them…

Remember when they speak of reaching out to the other side, as they surely will come January when the new congress is seated. There are times when reaching out isn’t respectful, it is depraved…

 

There’s a scene in the TV mini series The Winds of War, where Pug is with FDR in the president’s private rail car, discussing Pug’s recent trip to Germany. The president tells him he hopes there will be no war, but that the Germans are difficult to understand. And Pug replies “The only thing we need to understand about the Germans is how to beat them.”

That. About our homegrown fascists.

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Why The Blue Wave Still Evokes Sadness

June 4th, 2018

That Knife In Your Heart Is My Artistic Expression

It’s a profound misconception of artists, that we are by our very nature a humane and compassionate lot, understanding the human heart and soul in an intimate way, kind hearted and deeply reverent of the human status. In fact, we are simply ordinary people who have this urgent, consuming need to get out of us whatever feeling and emotion is within, however we can.

It boils within us…painters, musicians, writers, actors, dancers, sculptors, designers…chefs…

…flower arrangers…

…cake makers.

But we are just as human as anyone else, with every greatness and every cheapshit flaw known to humankind represented in the roll call of the famous and notorious. And all too often, all too often, what is deep within us that simply has to get out, is as brutish and ugly as human brutishness and ugliness can get. Yet, we can make it seem beautiful. We can make you believe.

We have served the angels, and we have served the dark demons deep in the human gutter, giving them everything within us we have to give as energetically and as passionately, because we can do no other. We have held high the human spirit, and we have praised the destroyers of civilization with equal passion. We can make the painful, bloody struggle for a better world seem not only worthwhile, but noble and awesomely beautiful, and we can with equal skill and artistry make the utter destruction of civilization also seem both noble and awesomely beautiful. Some of us gild the human heart in sublime light, while others of us stick knives in it, all with equal joy, each believing absolutely in the beauty of their work.

We are as human as anyone else. For better and for worse. Do not judge us by our talent. It does not make us special in any way.

Judge us by the muses we serve.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on That Knife In Your Heart Is My Artistic Expression

April 12th, 2018

Donald Trump Republicans

Stolen from Digby…Ron Brownstein assesses Paul Ryan’s pathetic legacy:

No one in the GOP was better equipped, by position and disposition alike, to resist Trump’s racially infused, insular nationalism, or to define a more inclusive competing vision for the party. Instead, Ryan chose to tolerate both Trump’s personal excesses and his racially polarizing words and deeds as the price worth paying to advance Ryan’s own top priorities: cutting spending; regulations; and above all, taxes. The result was that Ryan, more than any other prominent Republican, personified the devil’s bargain the GOP has signed with Trump. And his departure crystallizes the difficult choices Republicans face as Trump redefines the party in his belligerent image.

From the exhaustive reporting of Politico’s Tim Alberta, who was first to telegraph that Ryan was likely to retire, we know that the speaker, expecting a Trump defeat, planned to deliver a speech on Election Night in 2016. He intended to denounce Trump’s racially polarizing agenda as a political dead end and a betrayal of conservatism’s ideals. Instead, when Trump won, Ryan folded the speech back into his jacket pocket—where it has receded deeper ever since.

Throughout his career, Ryan has presented himself as a disciple of Kemp, the ebullient former pro-football player and Reagan-era Republican congressman who sought to expand the party’s appeal to non-white communities. Ryan idolized Kemp and even worked for him: The future speaker was a young staffer at Kemp’s think tank, Empower America, in the early 1990s.

But after Trump took office, Ryan blinked at confronting the president’s appeals to white racial resentments. Pressed for reaction to comments like Trump’s reported description of African nations as “shithole” countries, Ryan managed to mumble the bare minimum of plausible criticism: “The first thing that came to my mind was very unfortunate, unhelpful.” For most people genuinely distressed by Trump’s remarks, “unfortunate” and “unhelpful” were probably not the first words that came to mind; “racist” and “xenophobic” were.

Even more consequential was Ryan’s refusal to challenge Trump on behalf of the young undocumented immigrants included in former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Though the speaker repeatedly promised the “Dreamers” that Congress would protect them, he has allowed the legislation that would have preserved their legal status to wither, after Trump and House Republican hardliners insisted on linking it to poison-pill provisions that would slash legal immigration.

“I worked with him back in his days of working for Jack Kemp at Empower America,” Frank Sharry, the executive director of the pro-immigrant advocacy group America’s Voice, told me Wednesday. “He was one of the most committed pro-immigrant, pro-immigration libertarians I’ve encountered in my three decades in D.C. Then, after ascending to one of the most powerful positions in the nation, he talked a good game and did nothing—except front for Trump’s nativism.”

On Trump’s excesses, Ryan followed a similar pattern of denial. Those who imagined he would defend the law-enforcement institutions that Trump has subjected to unprecedented attacks were invariably disappointed. At a critical moment in the standoff between the Justice Department and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes—over access to highly classified surveillance warrants—Ryan intervened to support Nunes. He was, by extension, supporting Trump, whom Nunes was hoping to assist by raising doubts about the initial justification for the investigation into Russian election interference. On Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation itself, Ryan has mouthed the right sentiments about allowing the inquiry to proceed without intervention. But he’s resolutely refused to consider legislation to ensure that it could.

Month after month, Ryan signaled that as long as Trump provided a vehicle for advancing the speaker’s own goals of retrenching government—especially by cutting taxes—he would be willing to defend (or at least minimize) almost any presidential outrage. Ryan was hardly alone in broadcasting that message—every other major Republican congressional leader did, too. But it was especially powerful coming from a speaker who had fashioned himself as both a champion of inclusion and a policy wonk motivated more by ideas than partisan maneuvering.

The result of all this inaction has been the transformation of the GOP majorities into the see-no-evil Congress, with rank-and-file Republicans and their leaders repeating the same mantra: Move along folks, there’s nothing to see here.

Digby adds…

Ryan may be one of the best illustrations of just how supine the GOP has become in the face of a demagogic white nationalist the voters they’ve primed to respond to racist appeals love.  Some of them, like Ryan, may have been a tad uncomfortable with it. But not enough to try to save the country. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Donald Trump Republicans


Rupert Murdoch’s America

I was reading an article a few years back, about how the writer’s elderly father used to be someone pleasant and sunny to be around…until he started watching Fox News. Unfair as it is to pin our current national nightmare on any one individual (there is lots of credit to go around), if I had to pick one name as the icon of the American gutter now in power, and its hysterical babbling angry all the time grass roots, it would actually be an Australian. His name is Rupert Murdoch, and he became a citizen of our country just so he could own TV and radio stations here, and transform the American Dream into his personal sewer. Do not blame Donald Trump for the fire burning down our democratic institutions…

…the Reality Show President, like the writer’s father I mentioned above, is an avid follower of Murdoch’s venomous anti democratic propaganda mill. Here’s what Trump was applauding just last night…

Once upon a time feverish nutcases like this, moral runts who’d burn to ashes our democratic institutions rather than let their festering resentment at everything fine and noble that they could never be just stew in their own private sewer, were limited to late night public access channels, private shortwave stations and dial-a-nazi phone numbers (any of my Washington readers here remember “Let Freedom Ring“?). Murdoch gave them a national television network to spread their poison on. 

That’s led us directly here:

I say a lot of shit on TV defending him, even over this. But honestly, I wish the motherf*cker would just go away. We’re going to lose the House, lose the Senate, and lose a bunch of states because of him. All his supporters will blame us for what we have or have not done, but he hasn’t led. He wakes up in the morning, sh*ts all over Twitter, sh*ts all over us, sh*ts all over his staff, then hits golf balls. F*ck him. Of course, I can’t say that in public or I’d get run out of town.

That’s from a blog post by Eric Erickson, who runs the Redstate blog, which I will not link to here. Erickson is as hard right as they come, and he’s upset at the damage Trump is doing to the movement. The post is a conversation Erickson had with a “conservative” member of congress at the local Safeway grocery store and it is a stunningly blunt, profanity laced, diatribe that the congressman was grateful to Erickson for letting him finally get out of his system.

But look at that. Of course, I can’t say that in public or I’d get run out of town. This is Murdoch’s doing. And the idiots at Clear Channel who gave a nationwide radio network home to the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage. And now Sinclair Broadcasting, turning local TV stations into stealth rightwing propaganda media. All so the angry fathers of America can stay angry and fearful all the time because that gets them to the polls which is the only way Murdoch republicans can stay in power. And keep giving those lovely tax breaks and treasury money to the very rich and powerful, and gut the New Deal protections for workers and the elderly that they despise. And now republicans, even hard right republicans who would love nothing better than to take this country back to the 19th century, can’t stop an out of his depth manchild from destroying their party, let alone plunging the world into nuclear chaos, without losing their seats in congress because Murdoch’s angry old men would be livid if they so much as spoke a word against him. 

But…let it be said…they’re not any different in substance from those angry fearful Murdoch grass roots if they’d rather let America burn than losing elections to democrats.

And…let it be said…here’s the man who let Rupert Murdoch into our airwaves…

 

 

…the guy whose first act as president was busting a union. Who began his presidential run in 1980 with a speech about state’s rights seven miles from where three civil rights workers were kidnapped and murdered for registering black citizens to vote. Who laughed at the rededication of The Statue of Liberty when Bob Hope joked that she may have caught AIDS from the Staten Island Ferry (Fairy) or the mouth of the Hudson. He knew exactly what he was doing when he gave Murdoch our airwaves.

[Update]…Tom Sullivan over at Digby’s blog links the Hannity outburst of crazy with an upcoming ABC interview with Comey…

ABC plans to air an interview with former FBI director James Comey Sunday night. The promo spot above teases pretty hard what we might hear, including that Comey believes our sitting president operates like a mob boss (although George Stephanopoulos may be putting those words into Comey’s mouth). Axios claims a source present at the taping:

According to the source:

  • The Comey interview left people in the room stunned — he told George things that he’s never said before.
  • Some described the experience as surreal. The question will be how to fit it all into a one-hour show.
  • Comey answered every question.
  • If anyone wonders if Comey will go there, he goes there.

“There” being the question of whether Trump should be impeached, presumably. Comey’s book, “A Higher Loyalty,” arrives in stores on Tuesday.

So Hannity was prepping the kook pews on what to think about the Comey interview. We’re not a bunch of crooks, he’s the crook!  It’s like Al Capone accusing the FBI of being the mob, not him.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Rupert Murdoch’s America

January 29th, 2018

It Isn’t Spam Just Because Your Nazi Users Say It Is.

Apparently the neo nazi swamp thinks it can stifle discussion on Facebook by mass tagging posts it doesn’t like as spam, at which point some mindless algorithm takes over and removes the post. This is an endemic problem with both Facebook and Twitter that neither platform seems interested in fixing. 

Recently a friend on Facebook found his link to this People For The American Way article tagged as spam and removed. 

Separating Immigrant Families is Fundamentally Un-American

While we work hard to keep permanent protection for Dreamers at the top of Congress’s to-do list, immigration advocates are also keeping a watchful eye on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). On December 21, The New York Times reported that DHS is considering separating immigrant families who face deportation. Right now families in custody are held together, but children and their parents would be sent to different detention facilities under the potential new policy.

 

God forbid Americans know what their government is doing in their name. Go read the whole thing at the People For The American Way website blog.

Blog. That space people once made for themselves on the Internet. Like this one for example. Where you could speak your mind about any damn thing at all and put it out there for the world to see, and no letters page editor, let alone a mindless social media algorithm could decide whether it got published or not. This is why blogs…real actual personal blogs created and maintained by real actual personal persons are important. The friend who posted this isn’t the only one in my friends list who has had a recent posts containing a poem, a book review and a notice about an upcoming writer’s workshop marked as spam. And those posts simply vanished into the Orwellian mist. Once upon a time having your own blog was a thing. And there were “blogrolls” people shared among their visitors, and blog reader software that aggregated all your favorite blogs. Funny how that all just seemed to…disappear….

[Update…] Now Facebook is saying my friend’s post possibly violates “community standards”. I’m guessing that’s their fascist community they’re referring to.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on It Isn’t Spam Just Because Your Nazi Users Say It Is.

August 4th, 2017

That Empty Place Where A Heartbeat Should Be But Isn’t

I came out to myself in December of 1971. I’ve been in this struggle ever since. When I got my first dial up Internet account in the early 1990s, I discovered Usenet newsgroups and for almost a decade engaged a spectrum of homophobic bigots and just very confused individuals on topics of gay people and our place in this world. There are very predictable patterns that keep emerging, certain expressions, mindsets, tautologies, circumlocutions that you just come to expect to see when some event, some pop culture thing suddenly takes hold, and gay people are seen for a brief moment as fully realized human beings complete with recognizable human emotions and motivations. For a brief moment the gutter seems a bit stunned and speechless.

But not for long. And then the usual tropes, the usual slogans, usual bile comes pouring out. And in the bedrock there is always this one, absolutely unmovable conviction, that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.

My new exhibit ‘A’ is In A Heartbeat. For most of the week since its Monday general release on Vimeo and YouTube the gutter was amazingly silent. I say amazingly because the howls of outrage usually come pretty fast and furious whenever something positive about gay people takes hold in the pop culture. But for almost the entire week the gutter was mostly silent. But it’s finding its voice now. Just this morning an article on the film from the Facebook page of People Magazine showed up in my newsfeed. Clicking on the link took you to the Facebook post complete with all the comments on it. I’d been expecting this sort of thing ever since Monday…

 

people magazine IAH comments-6

people magazine IAH comments-7

Produce a sweet little film about that first romantic crush, something that would provoke a torrent of how sweets how cutes how adorables if it was an opposite sex couple, but make it about a same sex couple, and the criticisms immediately fixate on sex, and a floodgate of sewage straight from the human gutter opens up.

Why are you introducing sex into a children’s cartoon? Why are you pushing sex on children? Stop trying to sexualize our children! The only thing about this routine that I’ve seen change over the decades, is nowadays it’s occasionally bundled with a Some Of My Best Friends Are disclaimer. We really have nothing against gays we just don’t want them flaunting it in front of the children. ‘It’ being sex.

What…you say there wasn’t any sex in that film? Yes there was. It was about gays, so it was about sex.

That’s the mindset. They can’t or won’t see the people for the homosexuals. And there’s a word for someone like that. Bigot. It’s not an ad hominem, it’s not an insult hurled at people for disagreeing, it’s a good old fashion English word and it means something. And a bigot’s mind is like an eye: the more light you shine on it, the tighter it closes. This sweet little film shines a light on gay hearts. Now see the eyes close tightly…tightly…more tightly…

So much, so obvious. But I’m not sharing this so you can go read the comments and stare into Nietzsche’s abyss. There’s actually some lovely sunlight in there. Because not everyone is a bigot, this sweet little film is getting all the how sweets how cutes how adorables from a lot of heterosexuals, many of whom are just now encountering that immovable denial of the humanity of gay people, and more specifically gay kids, for the first time and they are stunned.

I came out to myself in December 1971. I’ve lived under the cold icy gaze of that denial of my humanity ever since. Glad to see some of the rest of you are noticing it now. Oh…And you’re seeing it in people you might have otherwise thought were decent moral human beings too! Surprised? Appalled? Don’t take it too much to heart. If the human race was made of people like that there would be no civilization.

This is actually good. Let the gutter howl at this film. This is how things get better.

At the end of The Wonder Years the narrator, little Kevin Arnold all grown up now, says…

“Once upon a time, there was a girl I knew, who lived across the street. Brown hair, brown eyes. When she smiled, I smiled. When she cried, I cried. Every single thing that ever happened to me that mattered, in some way had to do with her. That day, Winnie and I promised each other that no matter what, that we’d always be together. It was a promise full of passion and truth and wisdom. It was the kind of promise that can only come from the hearts of the very young.”

There are people who will never see, no matter how often it gets in front of their noses, that this is something gay kids feel too, for the one that stole their heart. There’s a word for people like that. It isn’t an insult, it’s a description.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on That Empty Place Where A Heartbeat Should Be But Isn’t

June 6th, 2017

Spared The Frying Pan…Fire…You’re Up Next!

Scott Lively will not stand trial in the United States for his crimes against humanity after all

Lively had faced  a crimes against humanity lawsuit from Ugandan LGBT activists, who allege he has acted in violation of international law, by seeking to promote the persecution of gay people.

However, the lawsuit was dismissed this week by the  United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, which ruled that there was no jurisdiction for the case.

There’s a line from poem going through my head as I read the entire article over at Pink News. It’s in the Penguin Greek Anthology, by the poet Palladas of Alexandria who was, “A Pagan in the age of the rise of Christianity, his verse is imbued with a deep-rooted, bitter pessimism and melancholy…” In the poem a murderer is spared sudden death by a dream from the god Serapis, warning him to jump for his life before a crumbling wall crashed upon his bed. The murderer thanks the god for saving his life. But the next night he gets another dream from Serapis who tells him that saving his life wasn’t exactly the plan…

Don’t think the gods have let you go
and connive at homicide.
We’ve spared you that quick crushing, so
we can get you crucified.

One can hope that’s the case here for Lively, because this was emphatically not exoneration. The judge’s decision should scare the hell out of him.

To summarize Lively: for decades he has made it his life’s work to actively incite violent passions toward gay people in other parts of the world. He does this, by visiting places where people have suffered horrific war crimes, mass murders, acts of genocide, and tells that that the agents of their suffering were homosexuals, that homosexuality was the  evil that befell them. And then he basically stands back and lets the rage of the mob run its course, later denying that he ever meant any actual violence toward homosexuals  to come of it.

It begins with his first book on the subject, “The Pink Swastika”, in which he asserts that German fascism was an almost exclusively homosexual creation, that the Nazi party was basically a homosexual network, and that the horrifically violent crimes perpetrated toward jews, slavs and others was the inevitable outcome of homosexual mental pathology.  The book has become the go-to piece of propaganda for the religious right, whenever gay civil rights activists point to the horrors of the Third Reich, the death camps and the pink triangles. And it’s instructive.  Lively makes  a good example of the sort of “fake news” and “junk science” your gay neighbors have had thrown at us by the religious and political right for decades. What we’re seeing now in the age of Donald Trump is nothing new to us.  Lively’s  book has been denounced over and over again as a near total fabrication by actual historians of world war two and the rise and fall of the Nazis, but it  is regarded as holy writ in the pews of the evangelical right and the republican gutter, where it does not matter that Lively is spreading lies so long as the lies are useful.

Not getting enough traction for his ideas beyond the U.S. bible belt, and failing abysmally in western Europe where the history of the Third Reich is perfectly well understood, he began in the 1990s to take his show to places elsewhere in the world, to where his campaign of hate mongering might have more success: to places where horrific war crimes were committed and memories were still raw. Places such as eastern Europe, Russia, and Africa, but also, and critically, where actual knowledge of those events is either sparse, or kept under tight government control for political uses. There he holds  rallies with local political and religious leaders and he tells the people who gather that the dead they mourn, their murdered parents, grandparents, all the loved ones they lost, or never even got to know, died at the hands of the homosexual menace. And he tells them that if they let homosexuality take root in their communities it will all happen again.

And unsurprisingly, after he leaves, laws are passed, gay people are arrested, tortured by police, disappeared, or killed at the hands of mobs. See Scott Lively’s hand in Russian persecution of gay people, and in Chechnya, Kyrgyzstan, Uganda, the list goes on and on. Wherever he goes, he gives the festering grief and anger over past war crimes, murder and genocide a scapegoat: homosexuals. It happened because of the homosexuals. It happened because of the homosexuals.

You know what to do…

So the case against Lively, brought by Ugandan LGBT activists who accused him of crimes against humanity by seeking to spread a legal and extra-legal reign of terror against homosexual people was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The crimes he was accused of did not occur on U.S. soil, and so could not be addressed in the U.S. courts. But this decision should scare the hell out of Lively, if he in fact has anything remotely resembling a conscience capable of fear left within him, because in it the judge gives a ringing affirmation that Lively did in fact commit crimes against humanity by the standards of international law…and conceivably could be prosecuted in an international court:

The question before the court is not whether Defendant’s actions in aiding and abetting efforts to demonize, intimidate, and injure LGBTI people in Uganda constitute violations of international law. They do…

…Discovery confirmed the nature of Defendant’s, on the one hand, vicious and, on the other hand, ludicrously extreme animus against LGBTI people and his determination to assist in persecuting them wherever they are, including Uganda.

The evidence of record demonstrates that Defendant aided and abetted efforts (1) to restrict freedom of expression by members of the LBGTI community in Uganda, (2) to suppress their civil rights, and (3) to make the very existence of LGBTI people in Uganda a crime.

 

Don’t think the gods have let you go and connive at homicide…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Spared The Frying Pan…Fire…You’re Up Next!

June 1st, 2017

Somewhere You Can Hear The Sound Of Dinosaurs Laughing

Depend on the ecologically minded Germans to react with alarm to Trump pulling us out of the Paris Accord. Bonus hilarity for when Trump babbled about being elected to represent Pittsburg not Paris, and the mayor of Pittsburg essentially told him to fuck off, his city is sticking to the Paris Accord. Today Der Spiegel reposted this cover from last November on its Facebook page. It was prescient, and yet so terribly obvious; everyone had to know what was coming next.  

 

der spiegel trump asteroid earth

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Somewhere You Can Hear The Sound Of Dinosaurs Laughing

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