Tag Archives: politics

Still Can’t Get into the Dance!

“I checked my watch. Yep, it was 2020. We were supposed to have flying cars by now. Instead, gay Republicans can’t even get a booth at their own convention.”

Marco Roberts, secretary of the Texas Log Cabin Republicans, lamenting how the Texas Republican Party has – once again – refused to grant the Texas LCR (an openly GLBT group) a booth at this year’s state convention.

Damnit!  They paid for their tickets, but they still can’t get in through those steel doors!  They wear the red, white and blue; display their guns; mock affirmative action; and say they hate immigrants.  But, the ballroom guards just won’t let them get beyond the entrance threshold.  What’s a queer Republican have to do to get noticed in the state of Texas?

Apparently, nothing.  Once again, the Texas GOP has locked out their smidgen of homosexual brethren; refusing to acknowledge they even exist, much less grant them any speaking privileges.  As the Texas Republican Party continues along its rightward path, that’s not surprising.  Recently they rejected – yet again – the Log Cabin Republicans’ request for a booth at the state convention, denouncing the group as “perverted”.  LCR is a political organization that advocates equality for the queer community; essentially a political home for conservative gays and lesbians.  They admire Ronald Reagan and oppose the usual “liberal agenda”: big government, taxes, affirmative action, abortion, Mexicans, Muslims and Bill Clinton.  One aspect of the liberal agenda they can’t bring themselves to oppose is…well, themselves!  Homos, queers, fags, dikes…you know – perverted folks.  It’s the oddest of all symbiotic relationships.  From the national level on down, the Republican Party has not hidden its animosity towards the queer community.  They despise homosexuals more than agnostics and uppity (meaning educated) Latinos and Negroes.

Conservative queers often mirror the general conservative population: mostly White and male.  I’ve known a few conservative queers – emphasis on “few”.  Literally just one woman and a handful of men.  Queer conservatives are a little like snow leopards – rare and practically endangered.  The major difference of course is that snow leopards are stunningly beautiful and more deserving of their niche in the world.

Two queer conservatives I knew had been good friends of mine nearly 20 years ago.  One was Jewish and a native Texan; the other was Native American from Arkansas and an Army veteran with cheek bones high enough to set Jell-O shots.  Together they owned a chain of men’s clothing stores throughout Texas and were, therefore, staunchly pro-business.  They eagerly supported Republican Party ideology of low business taxes and few regulations.  They didn’t care very much about the environment and – more astonishingly – they didn’t worry how fellow conservatives viewed them.  The Jewish guy literally told me that one day!  “I don’t really care how they look at me,” he stated nonchalantly.  He and his partner were more concerned about the overall welfare of the nation; they stood alongside the party’s general message without hesitation or regret.  Their business acumen was so intense that the Jewish guy once dismissed my unemployment status around 2002 in that “you only represent about 6% of the population.”  In an interview with the “Dallas Voice” several years later, the Jewish guy openly declared his opposition to diversity in the workplace; admitting he believed businesses should have the right NOT to hire people of a certain race, ethnicity or religion simply because they didn’t like the people within that group.  I noticed he didn’t include sexuality in that group of undesirables.  I remember thinking, ‘How could someone hate themselves THAT much?’

Indeed, how could anyone with at least half a brain and some semblance of a conscious willingly accept the bigoted philosophy of others among them?  Of course, some Republicans didn’t mind if queers loiter among them; as long as they kept quiet and vocalize their support for the party’s agenda.  After all, there were some Native Americans in the ranks of the U.S. Army and Jews among the Nazi guard.  My two aforementioned friends noted change often comes from within.   But, I realized after listening to them, so does support.

Among the many items on the Texas GOP agenda, one in particular has gained national notoriety: support of “reparative therapy” for gays and lesbians.  Reparative or conversion therapy is a concerted psychological attempt to change someone’s sexuality from homosexual to heterosexual.  (There’s no such thing as reverse therapy, unless you count visiting a gay bar.)   Doctors, clerics and various others have tried to “cure” queer people of their “affliction” for centuries, usually through religious means.  But, in its present form, conversion therapy has existed since the 1960s.  Early attempts often used electroshock therapy; the same kind previously used on the mentally ill.  And, of course, queer folks have always been considered mentally ill by many in both the general population and the medical community.  Some in both camps still hold that assessment.  But, contemporary reparative therapy is generally more psychological in its approach, with a good dose of theological rigor thrown into the cocktail.

Response to the inclusion of conversion therapy has been met with the usual vitriol from gay rights groups and medical professionals.  No concrete proof exists that such methods actually succeed, even though there are plenty of people willing to testify otherwise.  If anything, the process can be deadly.  People who undergo such treatments usually don’t notice a change in their same-gender attractions and – feeling like utter failures – sometimes hurt themselves, often fatally.  I don’t think it bothers the likes of Texas Governor Greg Abbott or Senator Ted Cruz that a depressed queer kills themselves.  To them, that’s one less degenerate off the streets.

That the Texas GOP should include this mess in their agenda shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with the party, or with the antagonism queer folks feel when confronted by them.  But, what of gay Republicans?  How exactly do they regard this mess?  Well, for starters, Log Cain Republicans has officially denounced the reparative therapy.  In that regard, they’re in line with the general queer community.

LCR’s battle with their Republican brethren in Texas is not new.  They’ve tried unsuccessfully to become part of the mainstream Republican dialogue.  In 1996, when Bob Dole ran for president on the Republican ticket, the national GOP created ruckus within its own ranks when it initially refused to accept a $1,000 donation from LCR.  Then, it changed course and asked LCR to resubmit the money, which LCR did.  But, responding to internal pressure, the GOP returned the donation.  After the very public squabble, LCR officially declared itself neutral in that year’s presidential campaign.  They damn well couldn’t support incumbent Bill Clinton.  That would – as one LCR official declared – “undermine our credibility.”  But, it still couldn’t bring itself to support Dole.  It was left holding that $1,000 check and its support, like a teenage boy left holding a pair of tickets and box of Trojans outside the prom venue.  And, it’s been that way ever since.

Change may come from within a particular group, but at what point do you finally get it that some folks within that group just won’t change?  Steven Hotze, the leader of an anti-LGBTQ religious organization and Republican kingmaker, sent emails to board members decrying the “immoral and perverted sexual proclivities” of gay people.

State Sen. Rob Hall (R) accused the group’s members of promoting “unnatural sex.”  Speaking of Log Cabin Republicans, he added, “They don’t have the basic belief in the God of the Bible that we are founded on.  I could not find anywhere on their website an expression of their faith in God like you will find on a Republican website.”

Not to be defeated or deterred, a representative from LCR tried to remake the vitriolic rhetoric by saying the number of people who spoke in support of accepting the group’s money to buy booth space was encouraging.  Relatively speaking, it was a huge win.

Yes, a win for the party at a state and even a national level.  But when will the queers in the trenches finally get it that they’re really not wanted?  When will they understand that, no matter how much they try, they still won’t be allowed into the dance hall?

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Best Quote of the Week – January 10, 2020

“Climate change shouldn’t be fodder for commentators who represent the interests of the fossil fuel industry by muddying the science.  As a human and a scientist, this focus on controversy is frustrating.  A thermometer is not liberal or conservative.”

Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University

Photo by Randal Ford.

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Worst Quote of the Week – December 6, 2019

“We have got to go back to what we did back in the ’60s and ’70s, back to a moral basis.  We had abortion laws in our state.  We did not have same-sex marriage.  We did not have transgender rights.  Sodomy was illegal.  These things were just not around when my classmates and I went to West Point and Vietnam.”

– U.S. Senate candidate and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, during a recent campaign stop

To put things in greater perspective – and remind anyone who might have forgotten – Moore is the same cantankerous leech who was actually banned from a shopping mall in Alabama for approaching too many teenage girls.  Then again, the photo above with Moore holding his little pistol, might explain one reason for his angst.

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Best Quote of the Week – October 25, 2019

“We want people to know that it exists, and they can join it.”

Pastor Doug Pagitt, founder of a left-leaning religious organization called “Vote Common Good”, about obliterating the myth that leftist or liberal-minded people can’t also be religious.

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PEN America in Dallas

Dallas author and co-founder of PEN Dallas/Fort Worth Sanderia Faye.

I’m excited to announce that a global literary and free speech organization, PEN International, has established a new chapter in Dallas, Texas.  Founded in London in 1921, PEN International has a very simple mission: preserve literature in all its forms and ensure everyone can engage in free speech and freedom of expression.  These are core elements in any truly democratic society, but they are constantly being challenged and even threatened by self-appointed guardians of writing, journalism and speech; people who seem to think they have the right and the power to determine what the rest of us can say and read.  It’s a never-ending battle and, sadly, it never will be won.  Those of us who advocate for a free press and free speech will always have to confront the oligarchical bullies who feel they – and only they – are blessed with inalienable rights to speech and literature.

Pen International felt the need to establish the Dallas / Fort Worth chapter in the wake of the fraudulent 2016 U.S. presidential election, which has given us an arrogant, foul-mouthed, womanizing, reality TV star in the White House.

“At a time of exceptional threats to free expression and open discourse, our chapters will bring years of mobilization, activism and organizing among writing communities across the country to the next level,” PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.  The Dallas/Fort Worth chapter, as well as others around the U.S. will be vehicles for “pushing back against the breakdown of civil discourse, the marginalization of vital voices, and encroachments on press freedom.”

This shouldn’t be a surprised to anyone familiar with U.S. politics.  I’ve noticed over the years that, any time a conservative Republican lands in the White House, free speech and freedom of the press come under attack.  They have no problems loosening gun laws and sending our military to fight stupid wars (as if there’s such a thing as a “smart” war).  But, when it comes to education, health care and even voting, conservatives suddenly feel the need to debate the matter.

Regardless of how hard we have to fight to ensure the rights to free speech and freedom of the press, we will always take up the torch of liberty and justice.

Everyone has a story and everyone needs to be heard.

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Worst Quote of the Week – October 18, 2019

“Get over it.  There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.”

Mick Mulvaney, Acting White House Chief of Staff, admitting Faux-President Trump expected concessions from Ukraine in exchange for financial aid

I’m starting to realize it’s actually possible Trump’s own staff will make the impeachment inquiry proceed more quickly, as the rest of us watch in shock and awe.

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Marionette Presidency

Jester-vk028

In his 1979 novel, Shibumi, author Trevanian (Rodney William Whitaker) told the tale of the fictitious Nicholai Hel, a Shanghai-born spy of Russian – German heritage who is the world’s most accomplished assassin.  After surviving the carnage of the Hiroshima bombing, Hel retreats to a lavish and isolated mountain citadel with his beautiful Eurasian mistress.  Everything is grand and everyone is gorgeous in this story!  But, Hel is coaxed back into the netherworld of international espionage by an attractive young woman.  Hel soon learns, however, that he’s being tracked by a mysterious and omnipotent global entity known simply as the “Mother Company.”  The “Company” is a composite of corporate giants that installs leaders in key nations – even those in the developed world – manipulates the markets for such necessities as food and oil and incites wars whenever it deems appropriate.  The conflict between Hel and the “Mother Company” becomes something akin to a board game, where millions of lives are used as toys for the benefit of a few powerful elitists.  I first read Shibumi about a year after its publication and still find it one of the most fascinating works of fiction I’ve ever encountered.  I’m surprised – and disappointed – that it hasn’t been made into a film yet.

The recent opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas made me think about the novel.  No, I don’t believe Bush is an American version of Nicholai Hel.  Hel is a polyglot and a skilled chess player.  Bush can barely pronounce such complicated words as ‘nuclear’ and looks more comfortable holding a chain saw.  It’s the notion of a “Mother Company” – a massive and ruthless international organization – that captures my attention.  It’s easy to criticize Bush, or any president, for his domestic and foreign policies.  But, in a true democracy, that one person isn’t completely in charge of the nation’s affairs.  He simply represents the totality of the country’s population, as well as the nation’s successes and failures.  And in the face of that reality, I don’t feel George W. Bush really wanted to be in that position.

I honestly believe Bush would have been content to serve two, perhaps three, terms as Texas governor and be done with public life.  But, after gaining control of both houses of the U.S. Congress in 1994, the Republican National Party was determined to take back the Oval Office, too.  They didn’t seem to have many viable candidates, so they zeroed in on Bush and – in my analytical opinion – virtually forced him into running.  He formally announced his candidacy in June of 1999, well after all of the others.  But, I surmise it was Dick Cheney – who had served as Chief of Staff for Gerald R. Ford and as Secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush – who wanted to be president, or more importantly, wanted to have the kind of power that comes with it.  Yet, with a personality less fluid than a chessboard, Cheney wouldn’t have stood a chance.

The fiasco that was the 2000 presidential elections certainly caught the nation off guard.  But, its roots go back a mere three years; when Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld (Secretary of Defense under Bush, Jr.), Paul Wolfowitz (Deputy Secretary of Defense, 2001 – 2005, and President of the World Bank, 2005 – 2007) and several others formed the Project for the New American Century.  PNAC had a simple mission: the United States needed to reassert itself as a global superpower, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.

In its “Statement of Principles,” PNAC declared:

“As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world’s most preeminent power.  Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievement of past decades?  Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?

“[What we require is] a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States’ global responsibilities.”

It’s obvious PNAC wanted the world to look and behave like the United States.  The U.S. is often viewed as the beacon of democracy, and its president labeled “Leader of the Free World.”  But, in this case, that noble brand of leadership was twisted to conform to a narrow viewpoint.  For me, proof comes in the Iraq War and the oil gleaned from the bloody aftermath.

In February 1998, Kenneth Derr, then CEO of Chevron, said, “Iraq possesses huge reserves of oil and gas-reserves I’d love Chevron to have access to.”  In May of 2000, Dick Cheney abruptly resigned his position as CEO of Halliburton and moved from Dallas with his wife back to his native Wyoming.  There, the couple registered to vote, and just a few months later, Bush selected Dick Cheney as his running mate.  Federal law prohibits presidential and vice-presidential candidates from having residencies in the same state.  In 2001, Derr became CEO of Halliburton.  Halliburton was among a handful of companies that were awarded no-bid contracts to assist with rebuilding Iraq.  The U.S. Army awarded the first no-bid contract to Halliburton in March of 2003 (the same month the U.S. invaded Iraq) to rebuild Iraq’s oil infrastructure.  The move generated enough outrage that the Pentagon cancelled that particular contract and opened up bidding to other companies.  But, Halliburton was never shoved out of the loop and eventually earned $39.5 billion from the Iraq War.

Everyone has moments of self-doubt in their chosen profession; those sad times when the pressure of doing the job right makes you question everything.  But, Bush always looked like he didn’t want to be there.  Some say his facial expressions bestowed his arrogance, while others claim it was merely self-confidence.  I think it was just frustration and – to some extent – cluelessness.  Liberals and even some moderates joked that Cheney was the real power in the Oval Office and that Bush was just a figurehead – a puppet.  But, there’s nothing mirthful about it – especially when you consider misinformation about the Iraq War was fed to the media and the American public.  The results are 4,488 U.S. military personnel casualties and 1.5 million Iraqi dead.

After leaving Washington in January 2009, Bush moved to Dallas and has pretty much stayed out of the limelight; an unusual reaction upon vacating the highest office in the land.  In contrast, Jimmy Carter made up for his dismal tenure in the Oval Office by working with Habitat for Humanity and overseeing elections in countries striving for the same brand of democracy Americans enjoy.  Bill Clinton stayed front and center of the public eye.  The Clinton Foundation works to improve global welfare through education and individual health.  Clinton even joined with his predecessor, George H.W. Bush, to provide aid to nations affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunamiRonald Reagan probably would have done more after his presidency, had he not become hobbled by Alzheimer’s.

But, Bush, Jr.?  He’s virtually been incognito.  Even after publishing his memoir, Decision Points, it’s like he slipped into the Witness Protection Program.  In a May 2009 speech to students graduating from a high school in Roswell, New México, Bush said, “I no longer feel that great sense of responsibility that I had when I was in the Oval Office.  And frankly, it’s a liberating feeling.”

I don’t fault him for that!  There’s no job like President of the United States.  As with any national leadership role, the individual is president every hour of every day during his time in office.  His movements and his words are tightly controlled and meticulously documented.  He doesn’t really get weekends off, and vacations aren’t real vacations where he could get away and relax without a care in the world.  It’s just the nature of the job; it’s impossible for the President of the United States to rest completely while in office.  It is, without a doubt, one of the most prestigious roles in the world, but also one of the most dangerous.  Presidents have to be self-confident – even a little arrogant – for sure, but it comes at great personal costs.  I recall Jimmy Carter saying several years ago that he wouldn’t take the presidency again if it was given to him.

I’m not a conspiracy addict.  I don’t see evil machinations lurking around every street corner.  I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he shot President John F. Kennedy and I don’t think Elvis Presley is living on a remote South Pacific island next door to Jim Morrison.  But, I do believe the integrity of the 2000 presidential elections was subverted and George W. Bush was placed (forced) into office at the hands of a few corrupt, but very powerful individuals and corporations.

Usually the brightest and most ambitious of individuals lead nations and form policies that impact the global population.  That’s just the way it is; the way it has to be.  Those things can’t be left to chance.  They don’t happen by coincidence.

But, if there is a “Mother Company” running this nation – or this planet – what is it?  The aforementioned World Bank?  The United Nations?  The International Monetary Fund?  All of them?  Or, something else.  Former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura has speculated it’s the Bilderberg Group, a Dutch-based organization formed in 1954 to encourage collaboration between the world’s great democracies.  People have debated this matter for years.

History is often written by the victors.  But, the history of George W. Bush’s presidency isn’t carved into stone.

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