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Four Decades Along the Rainbow Road

A look back at my work with the LGBTQ community. I first became active in the gay rights movement in 1980 when I launched my LGBTQ jo...

Sunday, January 31, 2021

We the Jury

The case for Trump's conviction must be directed more for the public than the Senate.


D
onald Trump spewed the biggest of all his many lies when he claimed he actually won the November 3 election by a landslide no less had not the Democrats stole it from him through fraudulent means. Trump’s loyal base of support that includes notably white supremacists, violent militia groups, QAnon conspiracy nuts and other far right extremists bought into that lie.

So when Trump tweeted that there will be a “wild” rally on January 6 to protest the “steal” and pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to violate the Constitution by overturning the election results that day, thousands of enraged, amped-up supporters—many of them armed—gathered at the Ellipse near the White House.

They listened to the likes of Donald Trump, Jr., Senator Ted Cruz and Rudy Giuliani who decried the stolen election and urged the angry mob to take action. Then they heard from President Trump himself.

“We’re going to walk down. Anyone you want, but I think right here, we’re going to walk down to the Capitol…Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong,” Trump said in the midst of a rambling speech dominated by lies about individual states’ voting results and other false grievances. The crowd had been whipped up to a state of frenzy and was frothing with a desire to take action.

As just about everyone in the world witnessed on that horrific January 6, the rabid mob attacked, desecrated and looted the Capitol. Five people lost their lives including a police officer who was bludgeoned to death. Members of Congress and Senate who were going through the process of putting their stamp of approval of the Electoral College results had to be escorted out of their respective chambers into a safe haven as their lives were in jeopardy. And for good measure, some of the mob were out to kill Mike Pence with a makeshift gallows erected outside.

From even before the election through January 6, Trump laid the foundation for the insurrection on our government by violent domestic terrorists with his false and ridiculous claim that the election was rigged against him. During the siege of the Capitol, Trump, his family as well as others watched the proceedings on TV (his major activity during any day of his presidency when he’s not out golfing) and yucked it up celebrating Trump banners replacing American flags and the numerous violent acts taking place during the riot. He also did nothing to stop it.

But here’s the sad upshot of this event: Trump will avoid conviction at his impeachment trial next week for inciting an insurrection because the overwhelming majority of Republican senators remain terrified of Trump and his supporters and the votes they represent.

The able Democratic House managers who will lead the impeachment trial against Trump will lay out all the evidence in great detail—Trump’s lies about the election results, his attempts to pressure state election officials to “find votes,” the footage from Trump’s inciting speech, the acts of violence perpetrated by the mob, and the on-camera comments from the rioters claiming Trump put them up to it. This damning evidence should not be directed towards the senators who will be serving as jurors, witnesses and victims. They have already made up their minds.

The case, in excruciating and dramatic detail, must be brought to the American citizens who witnessed in horror an attack on our Capitol—the people’s house—not seen since the War of 1812.

While Republicans argue dubiously that the trial itself is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president, they are merely seeking an off ramp so they don’t have to judge him on the merits of the case. They want to “move on” unlike the way these folks moved past Benghazi.

Let them cower to the inciter-in-chief. The American people—heck, most of the world—witnessed what happened and understand that the violence was stoked by Trump with his lies about the election. The American people will ultimately be the jury.

Every Republican congressman who objected to the election results even after the riot and every senator who votes to acquit Trump should be branded as supporting sedition. The images from this manifestation of domestic terrorism, already seared into the souls of most Americans, must be included in every campaign ad against these Republicans up for election in 2022. The Republican Sedition Party, I call it.

It’s been said that Democrats tend to bring a ladle to a gunfight. The events of January 6 should be a millstone around the necks of those seditionists. If they do not punish those Republicans who put the party of Trump before our country then it would be clear political malpractice.

Friday, January 22, 2021

The Republicans' Idea of Unity

I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new.—President Joe Biden from his Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 2021

As a candidate Joe Biden made unity the centerpiece of his campaign to the chagrin of the left wing of the Democratic Party. It helped win over Trump-opposing Republicans, independents and suburban women in his quest to get elected. Though so many have been skeptical of the prospect of unifying such a divided country especially after the past four years, the concept of unity was the principal theme in Mr. Biden’s inaugural address.

Merely hours after the inaugural festivities, truncated as they were due to the pandemic and security concerns, Republicans across the board demonstrated they are not having any of it. A reporter from a right wing media outlet asked the new and refreshingly competent press secretary Jen Psaki if the Democrats are ready to extend an olive branch to the Republicans in the name of unity.The Democrats need to offer an olive branch to Republicans? What a joke!

Maybe if the overwhelming majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives and a handful of senators would acknowledge that Joe Biden won the election fair and square (which he did), that would be a good first step in unifying the country. Recall how over 150 of these legislators objected to the certified election results in several states and that was AFTER the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.

Let’s also look at sore loser Trump’s behavior following the election. Through the moment he fled to Florida on January 20 as a disgraced twice impeached president, he never publicly mentioned Joe Biden’s name, never acknowledged he lost to Biden, delayed the crucial transition period, failed to cooperate during the transition and in fact, created unnecessary barriers, didn’t welcome Biden in the White House to confer as has been a long standing tradition, and refused to attend the inauguration. What an example of sportsmanship Trump sets for our young people!

Then there’s that pesky matter of a Trump-incited insurrection on our government with the express intent to thwart the peaceful transfer of power and to harm or even kill the first and second persons in the succession. That’s called sedition.

This incitement by urging a frothing, violent, angry mob of white supremacists and other pro-Trump believers to “take back our country” whereby they stormed and ransacked the Capitol earned Trump his second impeachment. Now Republicans, such as Trump supplicant Lindsey Graham, are pleading for the Senate to not try Trump on this article of impeachment if the Democrats want to truly unify.

Yes, Democrats should look the other way and not hold Trump accountable for his attempt to overthrow the government. They should move on. Republicans who advocate this dereliction of duty should be reminded that 5 people lost their lives as a result of the riot.

That’s one more life lost than the Benghazi raid that killed 4 Americans in Libya. Republicans didn’t move on. They held some 10 hearings on the incident and dragged then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify at one of these for 11 hours. For years, obsessed Republicans screamed Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! over and over. But a violent attempted coup? Not so much. Let’s just move on.

We should never forget January 6. It should forever be memorialized as 9/11 has been. But this tragedy, this national disgrace, was perpetrated not by foreign jihadists but by misinformed and conspiracy theory-obsessed American citizens who were provoked by a deranged, lying and unpatriotic president, aided by his kooky attorney and two rogue overly ambitious senators and a number of equally seditious representatives.

Within hours of the inauguration, Republicans and their agents on right wing media mocked Biden’s call for unity. The hashtag #ImpeachBidenNow trended on Twitter. Mitch McConnell already began playing games to hold off on finalizing his minority leader status and jeopardizing COVID relief legislation. Unity appears to be an elusive goal especially if it is not in the political interests of Republicans.

It’s a no-brainer for an incoming president especially from a different political party who had previously occupied the White House to ask for unity. And like he said, it could be seen as a foolish fantasy.

A degree of unity could only work if both sides are willing to pull together. One would think that the pandemic that kills Americans regardless of political affiliation would finally bring us collectively to fight the disease as a matter of patriotism.

President Biden’s realistic idea of unity is at least lowering the temperature of the rhetoric. The Republican idea of unity, however, is for Democrats to capitulate to their whims and take no actions to offend that perennially angry Republican base, who for the most part see Mr. Biden as an illegitimate president.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The False Equivalence of 'Whataboutism'

On January 12, 2021, President Donald Trump was impeached for the second time in a year. On this occasion it was for inciting an insurrection. By becoming the only president to have been impeached twice, Trump has cemented his place in history as the worst president ever. Regardless of the outcome in the Senate, this action makes it official.

The capturing of 10 Republican votes in the House vote on the single article of impeachment renders it the most bi-partisan impeachment ever. But to listen to the other Republicans oppose the action, they were unable or unwilling to defend the president on the merits but offered an absurd dose of “whataboutism.”

Some Republicans used the Black Lives Matter marches and disturbances from this past summer as an equivalent of the violence Trump incited. Several days earlier Marco Rubio noted, “The events that we saw this week should sicken every single one of us ... Riots should be rejected by everyone, every single time,” he said. “Now, are the left hypocrites? Absolutely. I remember what they now are calling ‘insurrection,’ they were justifying just this summer.”  

Let’s look at some of the differences.

The BLM marches crossed racial lines andwere a reaction to the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. He held his knee on the throat of the unarmed Floyd for 8 minutes and 46 seconds as the victim begged him to stop. At the time this was the most graphic incident of a police officer killing an unarmed Black person as footage later released provided the horrors of the act.

Similar incidents have occurred for decades around the country. The means to carry out the deaths may be different but not the results.

In cities all over the U.S. and countries around the world, people demonstrated peacefully by marching to demand police reform and justice. Yes, some criminal elements broke ranks and burned and looted property. But contrary to the assertions made by congressional Republicans during the impeachment debate, Democrats did condemn the violence associated with these marches, especially Joe Biden who did so emphatically on multiple occasions.

Unlike the domestic terrorists spurred on by Donald Trump, the protesters during the BLM marches did not attempt to illegally breach and destroy the Capitol building in Washington. They did not target lawmakers or any individuals during the demonstrations. They did not come armed to the teeth to include pipe bombs, guns of all types, poles, bats, pipes, hockey sticks, knives, zip ties and other weaponry.  They did not dress in military-style uniforms and head gear looking for combat. And if they had, I doubt the BLM would have been treated by police with the same deference as Trump’s mob.

Unlike the mostly white, anti-Semitic and racist insurrectionists, the BLM protesters did not try to overthrow the government by attempting to prevent the orderly and peaceful certification of -the Electoral College results. Unlike Trump’s frothing-at-the-mouth rabid followers, the BLM protesters did not go headhunting for Vice President Pence and Speaker Pelosi. They did not chant “Hang Mike Pence” and erect a gallows in front of the Capitol to finish the job.

Moreover, the BLM protesters did not bludgeon a policeman to death as was done by those who push the Blue Lives Matter mantra.

The biggest difference of all is that the BLM protesters were reacting to systemic racism present in our cities’ police forces while the Trump insurrectionists were acting on the big lie that the election was stolen. So remorseful was Trump that he was enjoying all the action at the Capitol with a smirk and satisfied that people were fighting for him.

Republicans are desperate not to leave the good graces of Trump and his cult-like followers to even try to compare these two events. Someone tell me how a seditious coup attempt that resulted in five deaths and much destruction to the citadel of democracy is equivalent to stealing a box of Pampers from a store.

Thursday, January 07, 2021

King Insane

Full disclosure: I am not a psychiatrist or a trained psychologist, but I did fairly well in my Psych courses in college. One of those was Abnormal Psychology, and I can pretty much say that had there been a President Donald Trump then, his case studies would have appeared on many of the pages of those text books.

We are all too familiar with his pathological lying, extreme narcissism and need to command attention. Yet, Trump’s problems go beyond these character disorders. To use New York parlance, this man is sick in da head. Or using the more medical  NY term, Meshuggeneh.

Throughout his life, whether he loses a lawsuit or an election, whatever it is, it must have been rigged. He was saying this ahead of the 2016 election and, of course, the recent 2020 election. When it became clear he had indeed lost in November and Joe Biden was deemed to be the President-elect, Trump’s nuttiness when into high gear.

Breaking with traditional norms, he refused to concede the election though Biden’s Electoral College votes matched Trump’s from 2016 and won the popular vote by 7 million. (If you’re a Trump supporter and do not believe 7 million is a significant total, start counting from 1 to 7 million and when you’re finished, you may resume reading this.)

Throughout these past two months, Trump refused to accept the reality that he lost. His claims of widespread voter fraud, irregularities, voting machines tampering, ballot shredding, ballot dumping, and dead people voting were baseless and without evidence. Undaunted, his crack legal team, headed by Rudy “Colludy” Giuliani, tried to litigate these false allegations and failed miserably to make the case in court some 60 times (including the Supreme Court twice) involving 90 judges with many having been appointed by Republicans and Trump himself.

The problem is Trump actually believed his delusional alternate reality. He has convinced himself that he actually won the election in a landslide (“Everybody knows it”), and it was stolen from him.

The past several days revealed how psychotic Trump is. Using the same unfounded claims, a recorded rambling phone call with Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger revealed that Trump most likely broke the law by threatening the Republican official to conjure up additional votes to overturn the state’s already certified tallies and call it a “recalculation.”

“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state,” Trump said.  He was asking this official to come up with new totals to give him the edge and reminded him by not reporting the “voting irregularities” he was subjecting himself to criminal exposure.

Except the one who has criminal exposure for this election interference and tampering is Trump. It will be up to the District Attorney of Fulton County to pursue this.

If that wasn’t enough, Trump held a rally in D.C. on January 6 where he espoused the same falsehoods. This ego-satisfying event had been announced weeks before and he predicted it would be “wild.” Thousands listened to the likes of Trump, Rudy Colludy Giuliani, Donald, Jr. Ivanka and others as they worked the crowd up to a boiling point.

They received their marching orders. “We are going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, congressmen and women. And we are probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you will never take back our country with weakness.”

Frothing at the mouth from the Trump lies and his attacking his sycophant-in-chief VP Mike Pence for not breaking the law in his behalf, this mob of terrorists, illegally breached the U.S. Capitol, defaced and desecrated offices and statues, looted and forced the members of Congress and senators to shelter in place or be evacuated for hours until the late-arriving security squads cleaned out the buildings from these scumbags and the stain they left on America’s democracy and reputation.

What I personally found egregious was a Trump supporter replacing an American flag with a Trump flag on one of the balconies.  Taking down the American flag and replacing it with a Trump flag.  Let that sink in. These are the same people who went nuts when pro football players took a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest social injustice.  America First? Not so much in this case. Trump First instead. What a disgrace!

And look at the way these right-wing thugs were treated so deferentially by law enforcement compared to the way Black Lives Matter protesters were handled.

Seeing that the media coverage was not too favorable to Trump for his inciting the rioters and under pressure from advisors, the smirking psycho president released a video whereby he asked the terrorists to go home but reminded them that their actions were justified because the election was stolen. One Trump supporter had been killed by gunfire inside the Capitol while three others died from health-related matters. Therefore, this horrible incident was deadly as well as disgusting.

Trump eventually issued a statement that there will be a peaceful transfer of power after Congress finally finished tabulating the electoral votes. Take that with a good dose of skepticism. The next two weeks will keep us on edge wondering what this lunatic will do next.

Unhinged would not be a sufficient characterization of his mercurial behavior. I’ll go with deranged. And so would many others. A movement albeit delayed is underway to see Trump's removal from office via impeachment or the 25th Amendment. He is unfit to continue.