Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Meanwhile in Donald Trump's America

If you Voted for Donald Trump you are Standing with THESE people. You say you are not a Racist, but YOU Trump Voter, voted to make racism, bigotry and hatred acceptable in the American Mainstream.

You cannot hide your culpability in allowing ... THIS to claim a legitimate place in our American civic discourse... You say you never would approve of mobs giving the Nazi salute, but YOU Trump Voter, have made it OK for others to do so, YOU Trump Voter, did this.. YOU Trump voter, OWN this...


Spare me any pathetic attempts at self justification for your role in leaving this .... rancid Shit stain on American Democracy. Don't bother posting it here.

There is NO excusing this.. or excusing ANY actions that have enabled it.

Friday, November 18, 2016

When you don't know whether to laugh or cry...

The amazing, and gifted writer/satirist R. McDougal shared this with me today...  It isn't often you find a perfect blend of  brilliant satire and all too cogent political commentary.
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"Look, just because we disagree politically, it's unfair to call me racist, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic and all that. Yes, I know what has been said, but you shouldn't assume that I agree with EVERYTHING that's said. I don't have anything against those groups, but you know, this isn't about individuals and their special interests, it's about a revolution against big, global government that is overstepping it's bounds. It's just time for a major change...

I mean, the last eight years have been devastating to my home economically - well, we're not starving, but we could be doing SO much better, and I'm tired of watching the poor get handouts from Obama and the United Nations. For me this is mostly about our economy, but I also agree that what we need is a strong military force, to get rid of these people who aren't even citizens, and a government that will get back to our nation's true religious morals and values.

So don't overreact and assume I'm a bad person just because I'm a White person who supports Trump.

I just personally see Him as the lesser of two evils."
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"Look, just because we disagree politically, it's unfair to call me racist, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic and all that. Yes, I know what has been said, but you shouldn't assume that I agree with EVERYTHING that's said. I don't have anything against those groups, but you know, this isn't about individuals and their special interests, it's about a revolution against big, global government that is overstepping it's bounds. It's just time for a major change...

I mean, the last eight years have been devastating to my home economically - well, we're not starving, but we could be doing SO much better, and I'm tired of watching the poor get handouts from Obama and the United Nations. For me this is mostly about our economy, but I also agree that what we need is a strong military force, to get rid of these people who aren't even citizens, and a government that will get back to our nation's true religious morals and values.

So don't overreact and assume I'm a bad person just because I'm an Iraqi that supports ISIS .

I just personally see it as the lesser of two evils.“

Monday, November 14, 2016

To My friends, who voted for Donald Trump....

Over the past few days. I have gotten a number of comments on Facebook claiming I am being unfair to Trump Voters by saying they voted for things like Racism, Sexism, Xenophobia, Homophobia and White Nationalism.

 Some folks have even expressed downright anger at being "accused" of being  all those terrible things.    Sigh,...   Lets be clear,  In no way am I accusing you of being racists etc.etc..  Yet the fact remains you voted FOR those things. 

A few of you have come back with very thoughtful responses,  detailing your outrage at Secretary Clinton's lack of trustworthiness, and her litany of "scandals" , as justifcation for your vote for Donald Trump;  Who you say you dont actually like, but you just coudn't support "Crooked Hillary".  
Ok then, ... lets examine some painful facts...

1) Your moral outrage at Hillary Clinton's emails would reek less of partisan hypocrisy if you had been equally outraged at Condi Rice and Colin Powell who did the same thing,

2) Your indignation at 15,000 (supposedly) missing emails from Hillary Clinton's private server would reek less of partisan hypocrisy if you were equally concerned over 33,000,000 emails deliberately deleted by the GW Bush Administration. Emails that deal ...directly with decisions that took America into two wars.

3) .Your moral outrage at completely debunked claims about the Clinton Foundation would reek less of partisan hypocrisy if you were as concerned about actual violations of the laws governing 501c3 charities committed by the utterly bogus Trump Foundation.

4) Your outrage at the tragic loss of four American diplomats in Benghazi would reek less of partisan hypocrisy if you had demanded the Republican Congress that cut funding for consular security had been equally concerned about the 60 American deaths in the 13 different attacks on embassies and consulates that happened from 2000-2009.

No my friends (and yes, I DO mean friends) you are NOT racists, or sexists or white nationalists.. But you for voted FOR all those things.

I speak as someone who hoped in my heart of hearts that the Republican Party (a party, that I can confidently say, my credentials of past support for are equal to, and even far out weigh any of yours..) would turn aside from this madness and step forward to credibly seek to lead our nation. Instead it has embraced the darkest demons of our nature.  

30 years ago I stood in a crowd in Berlin and heard the American President, MY President, demand that walls be torn down. Now we have a reality tv personality with a world view predicated on the lie,  that building walls is somehow an answer to America's problems.

I love you all, but the idea that a vote for Donald Trump was anything but a vote FOR racism , sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, islamophobia and rank hypocrisy on an epic scale is to be simultaneously engaged in self delusion and self justification,  on a level as to boggle the mind.

Friday, November 11, 2016

It's the End of the World!!.... Or is it?

Ok… deep breath.

I have been struggling for the past couple of days since the election, to process what just happened. Donald Trump is President Elect of the United States. I am sure some you have had Trump supporting friends/acquaintances gleefully telling you how we all have to come together and support the new President.

When I point out to these people how when in 2008, we asked the same of them, what we got was an eight year long torrent of racism , obstructionism, blatant disrespect and outright hate;  When presented with that little historical fact, some of these people have actually replied; “So what? You always said you were better than us, here is your chance to prove it!”

Seriously? Shut the hell up. You own this. The next four years are all yours.

You got your wish. It looks as if You elected the least intelligent, least self aware, most emotionally unstable person in the country as our next President. Oh… and all you disgruntled Bernie Sanders voters who flocked to Jill Stein in a fit of pique, thus handing Florida to Donald Trump, You are just as much a part of this as anyone whooping in joy, wearing a (made in china) “Make America Great Again” cap.

It has created fear and, here in London as well as around the world  there is mass uncertainty  as to whether or not America can be trusted as rational sane and dependable  international partner.

Or....  Just like with the  all the election polls,  are we all making another totally wrong prediction?

Now this is going to sound really weird…. But hear me out. There is another possibility here. Remote, but interestingly enough, one that hard core Trumpers are not going be happy with. It is entirely possible that Donald Trump, the great con man, just played us all.

There is a school of thought that says , the President Elect honestly never thought he would win. Now faced with the mind numbing responsibility of being the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump may well be having a serious “Oh Shit!! What do I do now??” moment.

His meeting yesterday with President Obama was originally scheduled to last less than half an hour, and ended up running more than an hour and a half. Afterwards the President Elect even said he would be calling upon President Obama for advice and counsel, even after he assumes the Presidency. Gone is all talk of the infamous “Muslim Ban” (as of this posting all reference to it had been scrubbed from the Trump Campaign website). Gone also is any mention of “locking up” Hillary Clinton.

Which creates an interesting fork the road we as a nation have just started down. If there is one thing you can say about Donald Trump it is, he is always thinking about his “Brand”. It is foremost in his mind. How he can expand it, how he can protect it. Never before have we had a President who is so motivated by not just public opinion about him, but public perception of him. 

During the campaign, Trump would drop everything to respond to even the smallest perceived slight or criticism of him on Social Media. On January 20th he is assuming dead center of the biggest target for public criticism there is, the American Presidency.

The voters who made Donald Trump the Republican Nominee are not the voters who won him the Presidency. The GOP base expects Trump to deliver on all the nutty stuff he promised during the Primaries and tried (unsuccessfully for the most part) to pivot away from during the General Election. The Voters who have put Trump in the White House, were not voting for Trump, they were voting against pretty much… well, everything.

The overwhelming majority of Americans support a women’s right to make her own reproductive choices, they support marriage equality and they want some form of Universal Health Care , and comprehensive immigration reform. If President Trump takes the path of trying to turn back rights for women, LGBT Americans and people of color, it is safe to say he will be most disliked, and openly and publicly criticized President in American history. Something which (to put it mildly) he would have a very, very VERY hard time dealing with.

So it’s not crazy to think President Trump could just… pivot again. Acting as if all that crazy stuff he promised the right wing nuttosphere never actually happened. During the campaign he did it all the time, with problematic things he said, or positions he held in the past.

It could well be, that Donald Trump knows that right now, Democrats would love nothing more than for him to give them reasons to treat him, the same way his Party treated President Obama for the last eight years. Progressive activist groups like the ACLU have already said they are geared up to file endless lawsuits against the new administration should Trump try to follow through on precisely the far right proposals that the GOP base who made him the nominee, are counting on him to deliver for them.

All those gleeful facebook posters saying “all those liberals are going to get it now, just you wait and see!”; May soon find themselves even more angry with Donald Trump, if it turns out the he isn’t willing to write his own political and cultural obituary by delivering on their thirst for insanity, and instead quickly “pivots away” from all those things the majority of Americans want nothing to do with.

A famous saying goes; “We campaign in poetry, but govern in prose”. It will be interesting to see if Donald Trump governs answering first and foremost to the constituency he has represented his whole life; Himself.   Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and their assorted interests and backers may find that President Trump isn’t willing to go along with them , if it means his “ratings” (i.e. approval numbers) would take a hit.

An optimistic scenario I know. Highly improbable, but hardly impossible. Barack Obama aptly said that the Presidency doesn’t change who you are, it magnifies who you are. Donald Trump’s life has always been about what is best for Donald Trump.   Oddly enough that character flaw, may well turn out be America’s best hope for surviving the next four years.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Post Election Thoughts...

So last night, this happened...


Please don't tell me to take a deep breath, or recommit to working for progressive causes. Maybe in a couple weeks, but for today. Just zip it. I accept the outcome of the election as any decent American would. But don't tell me not to be angry.

If you voted for Donald Trump for President, you voted to attack me and my family directly. You made as clear a statement as possible that you feel I am less of an American, and less of a human being than you are, and the power of Government should be brought to bear to treat me as such.

Here is why: Last night America didn't elect Donald Trump President. They elected him American Reality show host. What really happened is they elected Mike Pence President of The United States . Donald Trump has already indicated he cant be bothered with the day to day aspects of being President. All that stuff he plans to farm out to the Vice President, while he is busy “Making American Great Again”

From the New York Times:
One day this past May, Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., reached out to a senior adviser to Gov. John Kasich of Ohio… according to the Kasich adviser (who spoke only under the condition that he not be named), Donald Jr. wanted to make him an offer: Did he have any interest in being the most powerful vice president in history?
When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.
Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?
“Making America great again” was the casual reply.

You thought Cheney was scary... you haven't seen anything yet.


It will be Vice President, Mike Pence who will picking who fills any vacancies on not just the Nation’s highest court, but up down the federal judiciary. Where you may like to think Trump doesn’t really believe the nutty right wing stuff in the GOP Platform , you can be sure Pence is a true believer, and he will want the populate the federal bench with like-minded gargoyles.

Pence believes that His God, wants him to use the power of Government to attack Women's right to control their own bodies, to attack the basic civil rights of LGBT Americans, and to make our nation a less diverse, and more fearful place.

Oh, and to any Democrat who voted for Jill Stein.... well done. You did nothing to advance third party viability in the US, and did everything to enable at least two years, if not four, of relentless damage to all the causes you claim to hold dear.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Dear Wisconsin- It's time to take Our Grand Old Party Back.

Many of my friends are shocked  when they learn that I,  used to be a Republican.  How could I,  a good progressive Gay man ever have been a member of the GOP?    The answer is found in a conversation I had  one afternoon when I was thirteen years old.

 I was attending an event hosted at Vilas Hall, on the University of Wisconsin Madison Campus.    The event was to promote a media literacy and education  organization I was heavily involved with at the time    Like many such events I attended, I spoke fairly early in the program and was the youngest speaker. I would then have to sit there while speaker after speaker began to blur together and my 13 year old mind began to wander. Realizing. I was in danger of nodding off, I quietly excused myself, and  ducked out into the adjacent "green room" to get a drink of water.

As I walked into the lounge area I heard the sound of a Television, and saw someone sitting on the couch watching the University of Wisconsin Football game. With his curly white hair and trademark red vest, I instantly recognized former Wisconsin Governor Lee Sherman Dreyfus. I had met Governor Dreyfus a few times previously and was friends with his daughter Susan. With whom I worked  with on media literacy and education projects.

 He saw me, motioned me over (remembered my name), and cheerfully announced that the Badgers were up by 7. I sat down next to him, and we watched the game for a few minutes in companionable silence. He then turned to me and asked me how I was doing. I. talked briefly about the Media education project I was there to help promote.

Then I got up my courage and asked if I could ask him a personal question. Governor Dreyfus smiled and said; "So is this an interview Dave?"  I assured him we were off the record, he laughed and gestured for me continue.   "Why did you want to be Governor?", I asked. Dreyfus had recently finished a very successful term, then not run for re-election. A move that had surprised most, and frustrated many inside the Wisconsin Republican Party, as the conventional wisdom was, had he run again, he would have won re-election. Quite easily.

Looking back at the television to check the score, he reached over and turned the sound down  and then asked me if I had ever noticed  the murals in the rotunda of the. State Capitol building, just a few a blocks away.      I proudly replied that I had,  and eager to demonstrate my knowledge, rattled off the names of the four murals that form the base of the rotunda.   Government,  Justice, Legislation, and Liberty. 

The former Governor of my home state then went on to give me the best civics lesson I have ever had. He explained that he had benefited from the education system and professional and economic opportunities that living in Wisconsin had provided.  Consequently he felt an obligation to "do his part" to ensure that those opportunities and advantages he had enjoyed,  were protected and expanded.

He went on to say that our system  was set up to make that possible.   The executive branch (Government)  worked with the Legislature and the State Senate  to craft and pass the laws (Legislation) that were then interpreted by the courts (Justice).  Combined, this system of checks, balances and cooperation between all three entities,  ensured freedom and opportunity for everyone (Liberty).

It was at this point his daughter poked her head into the room and chided us both for. "hiding out" and said we should re-join the event next door.   I shook Governor Dreyfus' hand and thanked him for taking the time to talk with  me.   "My pleasure Dave", he said, and we went back into the next room.

With WI Governor Tommy Thompson
It would be a conversation that would stay with me for years, and it was that day that at the ripe old age of 13,  I. decided that I , like  Lee Dreyfus,  was a Republican.   I would join the Young  Republicans campaigning for Ronald Reagan in 1984,  and two years later,  I would cast my first vote.  While  studying in West Germany in 1986, I proudly walked into the. American Consulate in Munich,  filled out my absentee ballot and cast my first ever vote,  for Republican Tommy Thompson for Wisconsin Governor.

I would go in to become an active member and officer of the College Republicans,  even chairing the CR election efforts on campus for  Bush-Quayle '88 and '92.  My reasons were clear.   It was a Republican who had showed me the power of our system of government to make the lives of Americans better,  and by extension,  the world a better and safer place. In June of the following year,  I stood at the Berlin Wall in the crowd as President Ronald Reagan challenged Mikhail Gorbachev  to "tear down this wall!"  Feeling proud to be both an American AND a Republican.

So what happened?   Why did I leave the GOP?    The most concise way to answer that question to simply say the GOP left me.   Or more accurately the GOP left me, Lee Dreyfus, Tommy Thompson, George HW Bush, Bob Dole and yes,  even left Ronald Reagan.

Ripon, Wisconsin was the birthplace of the Republican Party.   I used live there,  and would regularly go past the landmark where the GOP had its creation.  The Republican Party on the ballot next Tuesday in Wisconsin and every other state, bears no resemblance to the that party.  Let alone party of Lee Dreyfus.

The Party of Donald Trump  sees our great system of cooperative branches of government, with its checks and balance, as an obstacle not an asset.  Donald Trump is an emotionally and mentally unstable narcissistic sociopath who Russia considers to be a " useful fool".  He is  a con man and grifter.  He couldn't care less about the people of the great state of Wisconsin,  to him you are at best a nuisance to be tolerated,  and after the election quickly forgotten.

The Republican Party is addicted crazy.  It has embraced the darker politics of division and fear in place of  faith in our system and public service to our citizens.    Like many addicts the GOP doesn't want to get better.  The only way for the GOP to stop digging the deep  dank dark hole  it as been wallowing in since 1992,  is to finally hit rock bottom.   To lose, and lose completely.

This isn't just an election.  It's an intervention.    For  the GOP,  it's time for tough love.  A vote for Donald Trump  and the GOP is a vote  to return to the days of 50 million Americans with out access to health insurance.  It is a vote  to turn the stunning natural beauty of the state of  Wisconsin into a strip mined, fracked up toxic wasteland,  where water catches fire when it comes out of the Tap.

A vote for Donald Trump  and the GOP is to hand the public purse over to people who game the system, make millions and even billions of  dollars,   on which they then  pay NO taxes.  All the while demanding  public services be gutted to  pay  their for their excesses.  It is to sacrifice Wisconsin's place as American's Dairy Land in favor of becoming the Mississippi of the North.  An under-educated, under-employed, over polluted gilded swamp of the very very rich,  the very very poor and nothing in between.

Trump Supporters like to scream about how they "want their country back", which is nothing more than code for not wanting to to admit they never were able to accept that a Black man sat in the Oval Office.   Well I want  my Party back.  I want  a Republican Party that  believes in the synergy of Government, Justice , Legislation  and Liberty.

I am not a big fan of  Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom".  His preachy follow up to his brilliant "The West Wing", but in this scene, he perfectly explains everything that as gone wrong with the Republican Party.




It;s time  to give the GOP a time out.   It's for the people of Wisconsin to step up and save the Republican Party.   How?  By voting  for Hillary Clinton, Russ Feingold   and voting for the Democratic Party.  

Monday, October 17, 2016

Remembering a different life...

The following is a updated repost of  one of the first blog entries I ever wrote, back in  October, 2006.   
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I was bouncing around the web a couple of weeks back and stumbled on zabasearch.com. It is a site than helps you locate addresses of people. So out of curiosity I typed in the name of my best friend from High School. Sure enough a result for his name came up. Not sure if it was the right person rather than call, I sent a note with my business card attached saying, if this was who I thought it was, to please write back.

A couple of weeks went by... and I forgot about it. I honestly didn't expect to hear anything back. Then the other day I got an email and it was indeed from him. It is an interesting experience in a way. I really have not heard from him since I attended his wedding. At the time I really envied him. He was marrying a wonderful gal and starting to build a life. They now have a five year old son with a daughter on the way due in December. He said it was amazing to hear from me couldn't wait to hear all about what I have been doing over the past few years.

I will confess, I have mixed feelings about that.

For the most part, I have not kept in touch with anyone from my High School days. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed High School, had great friends and good memories. Yet it really was a whole different life. Like many LGBT kids in the mid to late 80's I was closeted and terrified of coming out. On some level every day had some undercurrent of fear of my "secret" being discovered. The ultimate put-down was to say something was "gay" or to be called a "fag". You saw the kids who were even slightly effeminate or "different" getting tormented on a daily basis.

So you kept your mouth shut and your eyes closed. When you watched those 80's brat-pack movies, while your friends oggled Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy, you didnt admit to anyone, not even to yourself that you thought Rob Lowe and Emilo Estavez were really hot.

Add to that, the media was full of stories of this new "gay disease" called AIDS, and the Reagan and first Bush Administrations were not interested in getting any information about it out to the public. So like a lot of gay kids I didn't know what to think. Could I get AIDS by coming out? By even holding hands or kissing a guy? Was it really God's way of getting rid of homosexuals? The fear you felt was this huge cloud that hung over you every day. You really did wonder if you were destined to be miserable and alone for your entire life.

And of course at time I thought I was the ONLY gay kid on earth. Now I know that there were in fact more than a few. Even at my own school. But at the time, the sense of isolation was overwhelming. But then, time moved on. I left and in many ways never looked back.

I moved to Europe, studied there, came back to WI and went to college, after graduation worked, traveled back to Europe, then even moved to Asia. Eventually, I came back to the US and settled in Chicago, and then I came out.

Like many people, for me coming out was a frightening and painful process of self-discovery and acceptance. I think back on the fear I felt in those days and it seems like I am watching a movie of someone else's life. A life that I would not ever want to revisit. Yet in truth it was MY issue, not my friends. They had no way of knowing what I felt. The whole traditional High School experience of the first date, first dance , first kiss, first umm... "whatever", while a given for everyone else, was just not possible for a lesbian or Gay kid in South Central Wisconsin in the 1980's. Or at least not for me.

Many Gays and Lesbians who should be my age never lived to see today. The statistics on suicide for LGBT youth in the 1980's and 90's will give you nightmares. I am so amazingly fortunate to have the family that I do. My parents are the two most incredible, supportive and amazing people in the whole world. Coming out to them while scary as hell, was truly the end of an old life and the beginning of a new much brighter and happier one.

( Just in case I haven't told you - Thanks Mom & Dad.)

I marvel at many of today's LGBT kids with "Gay Straight Alliances" and alternative proms. When I read about kids taking their same sex partner to a high school dance, I can only smile and be amazed at how, at least in some places how far we have come. Though certainly for thousands of LGBT youth in America the reality has not changed from the one I knew .

Over the years I didn't stay in touch with people back from "back home". One wedding, an occasional Christmas Card was pretty much the limit of my contact , and even that soon stopped. Someone recently asked me why I didn't keep in touch with people from those days, and honestly I didn't really have a good answer. Hence my card to my friend.

I know what you are wondering. Will I tell my old friend (s) that I am gay? Will I open up my life now to those people from my life "then"? Does it even matter?

Honestly? I don't know. I'll keep you posted...
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FLASH FORWARD  Ten years...  October 11, 2016

It is worth noting,  the friend I wrote about  in  2006 , like so many other  amazing friends from my life  have shown me  in words and deeds  what I have always suspected,  my friends are in general, a lot wiser than I am.   As  I mark today's  National Coming Out Day there are straight allies in my life who  I still cannot thank enough,  

From the friend who answered that  letter in 2006,  and reminded me  why were friends in the first place, and  still today  reminds me to laugh at life  more than  30 years on.  Then there is  the Lawyer in Dallas who challenged my own  stereotypes of how I thought friends  would react to my coming out,  and instead ended up teaching me invaluable lessons about  acceptance and true friendship, traveling half way around the world to surprise me at my wedding.

There is the couple in Georgia whose friendship has literally spanned two oceans and three decades, who always knew, didn't care, and have always loved me for who I am.  The Career Air Force officer and his wife in Germany, who I had the honour of being a Groomsmen at their wedding, and years later are still sharing their adventures with me. To the School Teacher from Boston, who lived a remarkable  life of  always seeking the best in people, taught me to do the same  and  whose passing has left me  missing him every day.   All these amazing people, along with so many others I am blessed to call my friends.

And as always, my incredible family who just by being themselves  encouraged me,  and gave me strength  to just .... be myself.

And yes,  to those who,  for reasons political,  social,  and religious  felt they could not  continue our friendship,  I thank you as well.  Not because  I don't miss you,  for believe, me,  I  do miss you , every day. Yet  I owe you my thanks for  showing me that the choice to live authentically does not come without cost, and therefore must not, ever be taken for granted.  

Lastly,  to my amazing husband  Eric.   Who without even trying,  provides me with  living proof every day  that taking those steps to come out of the closet were by far, the best ones I have ever made.