Dec. 27, 2016
From the moment he joined, 8-year-old Joe Maldonado eagerly looked forward to camping trips and science projects as a member of the Cub Scouts. But his expectations were dashed after his mother said she received a phone call from a Scouting official who told her that Joe would no longer be allowed to participate because he was born a girl.
Kristie Maldonado said she was stunned because her son had been a member of Cub Scout Pack 87 in Secaucus for about a month and his transgender status had not been a secret. But some parents complained, an official from the Northern New Jersey Council of Boy Scouts told her — even though her son had been living as a boy for more than a year and was accepted as a boy at school, she said.
“Not one of the kids said, ‘You don’t belong here,’” Maldonado said of the Scouts in the pack.
“It made me mad,” Joe, said. “I had a sad face, but I wasn’t crying. I’m way more angry than sad. My identity is a boy. If I was them, I would let every person in the world go in. It’s right to do.”
Joe’s case could be the first time someone has been barred from participating in Scouting because of transgender identity, said members of the LGBT community. And it comes as the Boy Scouts of America appeared to be emerging from a period of turmoil involving sexual-orientation issues, reversing long-standing bans against gay Scouts and gay Scouting leaders over the past few years. Those policy changes were made amid an internal debate that saw at least one local council defy national Scouting decrees by hiring a gay camp counselor and pressure brought from corporations that withheld donations from the organization.
The Boy Scouts did not address the transgender issue at the time, LGBT advocates said, perhaps because the organization had no written policy related to gender identity. Transgender rights only recently emerged as a national issue, often focusing on the use of restrooms based on gender identity. Dozens of North Jersey school districts, including Secaucus, have granted that right, among others, to transgender students.
David A. Graham
Jan. 9, 2017
In North Carolina, the lessons of H.B. 2, last year’s controversial transgender “bathroom bill,” seem clear. The law states, among other things, that transgender people must use bathrooms corresponding to the biological sex on their birth certificates when using public accommodations.
The law inspired huge boycotts, cost the state an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars in lost economic growth, drew a lawsuit from the Department of Justice, and was a central cause of Republican ex-Governor Pat McCrory’s defeat in his reelection bid. In late December, an attempt to repeal the law failed amid partisan acrimony—but over how to repeal the bill, not whether to repeal it.
But in several states, legislators have taken a different lesson: They’ve seen what happened in North Carolina and decided that their states need something like it. Lawmakers in Texas, Virginia, and Kentucky have all filed similar bills, reflecting an alternative political calculus on transgender rights. While the language is slightly different across the bills, they share several essential characteristics: They define biological sex based on an individual’s birth certificate, and then say that people must use public accommodations—especially in public schools—corresponding to that sex.
The legislation comes at a dramatic political moment, when the future of transgender law is in flux. The Obama administration reacted fiercely to North Carolina’s law, filing suit against the state and then issuing guidance saying that all schools should allow students to use bathrooms corresponding to the gender with which they identify, saying Title IX mandated it. But a federal judge blocked that law in August. Backlash to the administration’s order, combined with the expectation that a Trump Justice Department will take a far different tack on transgender issues and interpretation of Title IX, seem to have inspired legislators to push their own legislation, even at the risk of incurring the harsh business backlash that accompanied H.B. 2. In fact, part of the strategy behind the new wave of bills is a calculation that while boycotts may be effective on a state-by-state scale, they will fall apart if many states enact such legislation.
The Texas bill, styled S.B. 6, is perhaps the most viable of the bills proposed so far, given GOP majorities in the legislature and Governor Greg Abbott’s previous positive statements about bathroom bills. It covers school districts, open-enrollment charter schools, state agencies, and some other districts. Like North Carolina’s H.B. 2, the bill is designed to preempt local governments from passing their own ordinances governing transgender restrooms, and like that law, it does not affect private businesses. The bill was filed by Senator Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham, but its big booster is Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. (Kolkhorst’s staff declined to make her available to speak on it.)
“We know it’s going to be a tough fight,” Patrick said at a news conference in Austin on Thursday. “The forces of fear and misinformation will pull out all the stops, both in Texas and nationally. But we know we’re on the right side of the issue, and we’re on the right side of history.”
It’s difficult to forecast the fate of proposals like these. A bathroom bill in South Dakota last year appeared to be on a fast-track to enactment before Governor Dennis Daugaard, a Republican, surprised some observers by vetoing the bill after meeting with transgender people. Still, the other two bills proposed this year seem to face serious hurdles.
Kentucky’s bill is similar to Texas’s. The bill in sponsored by Representative Rick Nelson, a Democrat from Southeastern Kentucky. Nelson did not respond to a request for comment, but he told the Louisville Courier-Journal, “I just want to make sure those bills are out there in case the other side decides not to do them. I support them and think they’re pretty good.” He appeared to be alluding to the dearth of support among Bluegrass State Republican leaders for such a bill.
From Bill Moyers: http://billmoyers.com/story/none-dare-call-treason/
By Marty Kaplan
December 13, 2016
This post originally appeared at Jewish Journal.
In 1964, when Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon Johnson, a man named John A. Stormer self-published a book called None Dare Call It Treason. It accused America’s left-leaning elites of paving the way for a Soviet victory in the Cold War. The book sold 7 million copies, but Johnson crushed Goldwater in the election.
Now that the CIA has determined that the Russians intervened in the presidential election to help Trump win, the Cold War politics of left and right have been flipped. If Stormer rewrote his book for 2016, its thesis might go like this:
Beware of Donald Trump. Witlessly or willfully, he’s doing the Kremlin’s bidding. Anyone who enables him — on his payroll or in the press, by sucking up or by silence, out of good will or cowardice — is Vladimir Putin’s useful idiot. This is a national emergency, and treating it like normal is criminally negligent of our duty to American democracy.
Trump as traitor: I can just imagine the reaction from the Tower penthouse. Lying media. Paranoid hyperbole. Partisan libel. Sour grapes. A pathetic bid for clicks. A desperate assault on the will of the people. Sad! (Note to the tweeter-in-chief: You’re welcome.)
As a kid in a New Jersey household where Adlai Stevenson was worshipped, I thought Stormer was a nut job, so I won’t pretend that accepting the modern inverse of his case is a no-brainer. I’m also not trying to recast my political differences with the president-elect as a national security crisis. Trump won. Elections have consequences. I get that.
I may not like it, but I’m not surprised that Trump tapped Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a crusading climate change denier and an advocate of dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency, to run the EPA, presumably into the ground. Anyone who interpreted Al Gore’s meeting with Trump as a sign of his open-mindedness on climate change got played, just like Gore got played.
Similarly, I’m cynical but not shocked that Trump’s picks for treasury secretary, National Economic Council and chief adviser – Steven Mnuchin, Gary Cohn and Steve Bannon – are alumni of Goldman Sachs. A billionaire managed to hijack Bernie Sanders’ indictment of Wall Street and brand Hillary Clinton as the stooge of Goldman Sachs. The success of that impersonation isn’t on Trump, it’s on us.
I’m infuriated, but not startled that Trump refuses to disclose his tax returns, divest his assets, create a credible blind trust, obey the constitutional prohibition of foreign emoluments or eliminate the conflict between fattening his family fortune and advancing American interests. That’s not draining the swamp, it’s drinking it.
Continue reading at: http://billmoyers.com/story/none-dare-call-treason/
Every day brings a foreboding sense of having studied what is happening in the pages of the books of William Shirer and Richard Evans. Alt-Right might as well come out as the Hitler loving Nazis that they are.
How long will it be before they try to pass the equivalent of the Nuremberg Laws regarding LGBT People?
November 23, 2016
I wrote this piece back in July of 2016, and circulated it to a few folks for feedback before declining to publish it. It just seemed a bit too crazypants and tinfoil-hatty, with all its talk of totalitarianism and dystopia. In light of recent events, it suddenly seems a lot less out-there.
Over the course of my years-long engagement with smart people on all sides of America’s gun debate — from coffee shops in San Francisco to private suites off the floor of the gun industry’s annual Las Vegas trade show — I’ve come to believe that there are really only two broader ideological camps that people fall into when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms.
No, the two camps aren’t “blame the shooter” vs. “blame the gun” — that whole discourse is a sad sideshow, and I think both sides are probably tired of swatting each other with the same limp bromides (“the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” vs. “here’s what every entry in this catalog of otherwise unrelated horrors has in common: guns!”).
Rather, the real divide between the pro- and anti-gun camps is much deeper, and is rooted in their sharply divergent readings of the history of human relations. To use a ten-dollar word from my years as a humanities grad student, what we have here is a clash of hermeneutics.
Not only do both camps reason about the present and future on the basis of different interpretations of a shared past, but the gun control argument is so exhausting for everyone involved because it ultimately forces each side into the uncomfortable position of arguing for the truth of grand propositions that it actually hopes are false.
Despite all of this, I do believe there’s a faint glimmer of hope for finding common ground. But before we can discover what we have in common, we have to understand where and how we truly differ.
Any given gun control discussion may work its way through topics like hunting and other hobbies, or delve into theoretical questions of individual liberty and its limits, or cover the practical nuts-and-bolts of who really needs what type of firearm for which hypothetical use-of-force scenario, but all arguments over Americans and their firearms ultimately end up in one place: a dispute about the usefulness and legitimacy of the constitutional right of private citizens to keep in their homes the tools of violence as a last bulwark against tyranny.
How you view the Second Amendment — as an embarrassing relic of a barbarous past, or as a last-ditch deterrent against the rise of domestic tyranny — depends on the shape you see when you look at history: an arc or a circle.
Folks in the anti-gun camp tend to believe, with Martin Luther King Jr., that, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” These are people who have faith in Progress and Perfectibility, and who will warn you in all earnestness that there is a “right side of history” and you had better get on it. These folks aren’t having any talk of a hypothetical fascist dystopia in the US; to them, that’s paranoid fantasy from a bygone era, and meanwhile there are real lives being lost to gun violence right now.
The other camp, which I confess to being a lifetime member of, sees history as cyclical, with no real long-term trajectory. We take it as self-evident that there is nothing new under the sun; human nature doesn’t change; and humans keep re-learning the same painful lessons as species. To those of us who are members of the “human relations go ‘round in a vicious, bloody circle” tribe, the concept of any sort of long-term positive trend in the way we relate to one another is not only lunatic, but actively dangerous.
In this respect, despite the fact that I’m a Christian, I find myself sympathizing with the atheists who look on in frustrated wonderment as otherwise rational people bend the knee and send their petitions up to an invisible man in the sky, as if that would solve a single pressing problem faced by humanity.
Whenever my liberal friends bring up the magical Moral Arc to buttress their argument on some issue or other, I think to myself, “how could someone so smart be so stupid? Are they really willing to put their trust in this smug, secular eschatology? How can they believe, on the basis of a few paltry decades of mostly mixed evidence, that the great Moral Arc of the Universe will eventually, over the very long term, ensure that their ‘right side of history’ wins out in the end?”
Maybe if Hillary Clinton had spent a bit more energy addressing how globalization is destroying the middle and working class in this country we might not be stuck with Trumphole.
Brexit should have been seen as an omen foreshadowing the rise of nationalism as a force to counteract the destructive forces of globalization.
Ordinary people around the world have been failed by globalisation, Justin Trudeau has told the Guardian, as he sought to explain a turbulent year marked by the election of Donald Trump, the Brexit vote and the rise of anti-establishment, nation-first parties around the world.
“What we’re facing right now – in terms of the rise of populism and divisive and fearful narratives around the world – it’s based around the fact that globalisation doesn’t seem to be working for the middle class, for ordinary people,” the Canadian prime minister said in an interview at his oak-panelled office in the country’s parliament. “And this is something that we identified years ago and built an entire platform and agenda for governing on.”
Last year, at a time when Trump was being described as a long shot for president and the threat of Brexit seemed a distant possibility, Trudeau, 44, swept to a majority government on an ambitious platform that included addressing growing inequality and creating real change for the country’s middle class.
One year on, what has emerged is a government that seems to go against the political tide around the world; open to trade, immigration and diversity and led by a social media star whose views on feminism, Syrian refugees and LGBT rights have provoked delight among progressives.
But as he enters his second year in power, Trudeau – a former high school teacher and snowboarding instructor – is under pressure to show the world that his government has found an alternative means of tackling the concerns of those who feel they’ve been left behind.
“We were able to sign free trade agreement with Europe at a time when people tend to be closing off,” he said. “We’re actually able to approve pipelines at a time when everyone wants protection of the environment. We’re being able to show that we get people’s fears and there are constructive ways of allaying them – and not just ways to lash out and give a big kick to the system.”