IS TRUMP BANNON’S BITCH?

On Friday January 27th, two events collided in a rather ignoble moment for America and the Trump administration.

Breaking tradition with prior White House Proclamations demarking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Trump White House issued a statement, silent on the Final Solution and the genocide of European Jews.  Instead, the WH referred to suffering of all those who died during the reign of the Third Reich.

Amazing.

Remembering  suffering of myriad groups  marked for death by the Third Reich and their collaborators is neither problematic nor a distortion of history.    What is problematic is the White House’s deliberate eradication of the Final Solution which explicitly targeted every European Jew regardless of age, gender or country of origin. 

The WH engaged in a rather old and tired tactic used by Holocaust deniers from Richard Irving to members of the Renaissance Movement including Richard Spencer and presidential advisor, Steven Bannon.  Indeed, the ” alt-right’s” fingerprints are all over this proclamation as well as the seven country ban.

Following Bannon’s lead, Trump took the first step to obliterate  historical memory;  and it  was neither accidental nor inconsequential. 

The Final Solution marked Jews as less than, initially placed outside the ambit of civilized society via  Nuremberg Laws and then exterminated in camps run by the SS and their collaborators.  At least six million children, women and men from every occupied country were senselessly murdered because of who they were, Jews.  This was  a systematic and calculated attempt at the de-Judification of Europe.

At the same time the Proclamation was penned, the President issued  an Executive order which targeted  Muslims for exclusion from entering the United States.  If your country of origin was Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Sudan or  Somalia, you were not getting in.  The door was slammed shut.    And, the  WH made no  distinction between lawful permanent residents, H visa holders, vetted refugees, or holders of a vacation, travel or diplomatic visa.

We know what happened and continues to happen.

What has not been discussed in any depth however is the connection between the anti-Semitic proclamation and the Executive Order.  That connection is Steven Bannon, provocateur in chief.

Steven Bannon is the infamous editor of Breitbart, the uber-right rag which has demeaned women, Jews, people of color and the LGBTQI community.  Bannon is no friend to liberal principles of equality and liberty-cultural imperatives foundational not only to our law but our aspirations as a People.

Bannon is a white supremacist, plain and simple.  His views are consonant with the architects of the 1924 Immigration Act which excluded Jews from Eastern Europe and people from Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece (Southern Europe) and eugenicists and politicians who supported sterilisation of women, who, by an accident of birth, were Catholic and not of Yankee Stock.  Indeed, if Bannon was alive during the 18th & 19th Century he most likely would have supported the Chinese &  Japanese Exclusion laws.

Bannon is not only toxic he is diametrically opposed to the values that demark Americanism.  And he has Trump’s ear.

Knowing what we know about Bannon and Trump, it is clear that Bannon provided the impetus codified by Trump into an Executive Order.

There really is no difference between the failure of the Proclamation and the dystopian provisions of  the Trump/Bannon Executive Order.

Alice through the Looking Glass?  No.  American reality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMMIGRANTS 

My grandmothers and grandfathers came  to Ellis Island before the door slammed shut -to all Italians and Eastern European Jews -due to the Immigration Act of 1926.

My grandmother, 12 years of age, survived the Triangle Shirt Waste Factory Fire because she jumped through smashed windows, landing on her sisters’ bodies who jumped before her.  Women and children from teeming shores.

I am the granddaughter of a woman who worked in sweat shops, sewed till her fingers bled so her children could dream the dream of America.  

I am the daughter of first generation Americans, Union organizers who taught there is no justice without compassion.

I am an Italian-American working class kid  from the Bronx. Where elders words-Italian staccato -mixed with opera, Dylan, Leonard Bernstein, and the score from Fiddler. 


I am thevdaughter

of a feminist 

mother 

who

never went to college 

Yet,

devoured 

books 

made 

music 

believed

in justice

gave 

me

strength 

To be 

A nasty woman 

When nasty women are needed.


They are me.  

Known and 

unknown 

ancestors 


Italian

Spanish

Lebanese

Syrian

Iranian 

Irish


I am

Your

Catholic

Sephardic 

Jew

Agnostic


We are

the brave,

courageous,

Seeker

indentured 

shackled  

Minions

crossed oceans,

left 

with memories

of home

from the other side


We are here

because

of them.  


We fight

on 

because

of them. 


We

are

because

of them.


Our

door 

open

always.


there 

are no 

strangers

here.

-February 4 2017

 

EEOC FILES FEDERAL GENDER DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT v DU LAW SCHOOL

On the last day of September, the EEOC filed a federal lawsuit against the University of Denver Law School, alleging that the school had discriminated against women faculty in pay.  The suit claims the law school violated a plethora of civil rights laws when it knowingly and willfully paid ALL female full professors less than male full professors.

A law school violating the law?  The old expression, “the shoemaker’s kids go barefoot,” seems to apply.  It appears that Sturm College of Law engaged in discriminatory conduct for decades.  It wasn’t until one brave professor, Lucy Marsh, challenged systemic misogyny, whose tentacles of discrimination proved to run deep and wide.  Indeed every female full professor at the law school made less than their male counterparts.  All ten!  According to law school and university officials, there wasn’t one woman full professor who either equaled or surpassed the men.

Not one.

This gaggle of substandard members of the female sex includes a Fulbright Scholar, an internationally recognized scholar on reproductive justice, a scholar and NIS awardee on sustainability, an international expert and social scientist on gender discrimination, a recipient of the Irish Law Society Life-Time Achievement Award-shared by such other “substandards” as Presidents Clinton, Mary Robinson & Michael Higgins, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Nobel Poet Seamus Heaney and linguist/public intellectual Noam Chomsky. This recitation reflects only four of the ten “aggrieved parties,”and doesn’t even begin to list their accomplishments in teaching, scholarship and service.

What makes this lawsuit fascinating isn’t the claim of deep and abiding sexism; rather it is its timing.  We are in the midst of a Presidential campaign where false equivalents are drawn between Clinton and Trump; where the bar is lowered beyond low for the male candidate whilst the female candidate is surrounded by a cacophony of claims of incompetence notable not only for its sexism  but utter falsehood.

What is happening to Hillary Clinton is remarkably similar to practices at DU.  The ten women faculty members were characterised as below par or substandard by the Dean and Chancellor. Indeed, as a form of self protection or subtrafuge, the Dean released a school wide email where, in an attempt to taint the ten, he reiterated the substandard claim given to the press.

Why?

Because systemic sexism, like racism, is so embedded in the University, it passes as normative.  Fulbrights, International awards for scholarship and advocacy on behalf of human rights, million dollar grants for sustainability projects and the countless hours working with students and in the community, locally and globally, are not merely dismissed but invisible.

This time it may be different.  The EEOC has validated what countless female professors have known-gender discrimination is thriving on University campuses.  On the last day of September, however, DU was put on notice that a courageous group of women will not remain invisible.

And, as my mother once said, “Let them pay for their prejudice.”

And pay, they shall.

 

WHY GLOBAL IS LOCAL-OR WHY COLORADO MEDIA IS MISSING REAL NEWS

Not being a native Coloradan I am constantly amazed at the dearth of in-depth articles or analysis of national and international events that impact local as well as global economics and politics. The BREXIT vote was felt by investors and pensioners from New York to Los Angeles. The Obergefell decision last June lifted the stay in Colorado on execution of same-sex marriages enabling scores of gay and lesbian Coloradans to walk down the aisle and legally marry. The recent TX abortion case will undoubtedly negatively impact introduction of anti-reproductive justice legislation in the State Legislature and strategies of the RTL movement in the state.

So why a limited inquiry or, as one publisher noted, restrict articles or op-eds to those pieces that are “intensely local,” a standard that is as much stultifying as it is mystifying.

Let me be clear, I believe that news focused on specific Colorado issues such as the Stock Show, Pot and TABOR are at once interesting and worthy of note; yet there are national and international subjects that are not only as interesting as pot, cows and property taxes, but of critical import.

I propose that we break out of the insular and isolating box that we find ourselves and join the discourse percolating throughout the States and the globe.

Why not start with the rhetoric of the Presidential election. I bet we can find something that will peak our interest as well as raise issues that affect Colorado’s economy, as well as its political and legal posture.

First, HRC’s emails.

We now know that Clinton will not be prosecuted. The Chief of the FBI stated, after careful analysis and study of the findings, “no reasonable prosecutor” would prosecute this case. The operative and important word uttered by Comey was “reasonable.”

Why did he use this term? Because prosecutors must follow the law. Plain and simple. The evidence failed to establish that Clinton possessed the requisite statutory mental state-either intentional or gross negligence. The former requires that the actor engage in the prohibited conduct with the intent to violate security; the latter obliges actual knowledge that she will be compromising security and then even with such knowledge she engages in the prohibited conduct.

After one year, evaluating 30,000 emails and interviewing numerous individuals, including Clinton, the FBI made a reasoned determination that no prosecutor could or should prosecute Clinton for violating federal law. The Federal government did not have a case, even though the Republicans wished it did.

Do I think that HRC used bad judgment? You bet. But I defer to the FBI as to criminal conduct, because it collected and analyzed the evidence-documentary, digital and witness accounts. Moreover, lawyers in the Federal Legislature know (or should know) legal standards are not synonymous with common parlance or lexicon; thus whilst “gross” may mean “bad,” on the street, it does not hold the same meaning in the law. I suspect that Paul Ryan is aware of the distinction-and if he does not-he needs to retake first year criminal law.

What is Ryan’s response? Hold another hearing-which Coloradans will pay for-just as we did for the 7 million dollar Benghazi hearing which turned-up nil, nada, niente; exactly zero facts to link Clinton to any nefarious or criminal conduct.

Should we be concerned with such wasteful spending?

Absolutely.

Take education.

Colorado barely made it above 50% in the best schools rankings, with only 13.1% of Colorado K-12 schools in the Gold, Silver or Bronze category. The highly respected Education Week study gave Colorado a C for K-12 achievement and a D+ for financing education and equity in spending across districts. Federal funds as well as state property taxes fund education. But in a State like Colorado, federal funds do more. They help to make up the financial gap created by TABOR, a piece of legislation that has contributed to one of the lowest per pupil outlay among the states.

The plethora of Congressional hearings conducted in the past three years has a cost, harming not only Colorado but Colorado’s children.

And then there are Trump “isms.”

Just recently Trump used Twitter and the Star of David to raise questions about HRC’s financial dealings. The Star was juxtaposed onto a background littered with images of USD currency. What, pray-tell, could The Donald have meant by such a Twitter? Money + universally recognised Magen David (Star of David) = the tired, age-old stereotype of Jews aka Shyster.

Trump backpedaled faster than you could say,” New York values.” He re-Tweeted changing the Star to a circle. And his CNN surrogate, Cory Lewandowski informed us that the star was really a sheriff’s badge. Lewandowski commented that those critical of Trump were engaging in “political correctness.” Political correctness, the new bon mot of the Republican Party which, levels blame upon the constituency denigrated or disparaged.

So how does this impact Coloradans?

Tweets such as Trump’s give comfort to those anti-Semites who not only use words but engage in racist conduct. According to reports from the Colorado ADL, anti-Semitic acts more than doubled in 2015 and increased in 2016. Scott Levin, mountain states director, commented that after years of decline, “People have been emboldened in their bigotry and hate by the level of discourse that’s going on, especially at the national level.”

The cause, national; the effect, local; the impact, devastating.

A problem arises when the majority of the news we read, hear and opine is within the four corners of the state. Moreover, an embargo on national news, accompanied by deep analysis, debate and commentary contributes to the creation of not only an uninformed but ill-informed public. Cows, pot and TABOR are important to be sure-but don’t you think spending some column and digital space on national concerns is in fact “intensely local?” Certainly this Coloradan does, and I would wager you do too.

Cory Gardner: NRA’s Bitch

On June 12, 2016, a man walked into the Pulse Bar in Orlando Florida and opened fire on patrons there just to enjoy  life.  Some of the folks were members of the LGBTQ community and some were not.  Yet, what they had in common was an expectation to wake up late Sunday morning ready to enjoy life.

We know how this ended. Just as we know how it ended in San Bernadino, Sandy  Hook and our own theater in Aurora and Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs.

Colorado is all too familiar with mass shootings; just mentioning Columbine triggers horrific memories of two boys gunning down students and teachers –  classmates, who, twenty four hours earlier, had eaten in the cafeteria where bodies now lay in contorted positions beside overturn tables and chairs.

All of America mourned with us after Columbine, then again after Aurora and following Colorado Springs.  And we grieved with the parent of Noah & Dylan and the families of the twenty other first graders from Connecticut.

This ritual of death is performed more times then I care to remember.  And yet, we do nothing to stem the tide of guns in the US.  Indeed two Colorado politicians were ousted from the State House for the temerity of challenging the NRA and Coloradogun owners.  It is as if the wrath of Cain fell upon them.

Two days ago, Senator Cory Gardner voted no on a bill that would have removed guns from the hands of folks on the terrorist watch list.  That’s right, he voted against a bill which would have blocked suspected terrorists from purchasing a Glock  9 mm, an AR15 or the Sig Sauer semi automatic used in the Orlando Massacre.

Why?  Why would Cory Gardner refuse to support closing loopholes on gunchecks and gun sales to suspected terrorists?

Gardner received over $ 3.8 million dollars from the NRA.  He is one of the leading Republican depositories of the mega gun lobby.  He is owned, lock stock and barrel, by LaPierre.  Thus, Gardner’s votes against bills which would have put a few more teeth in gun regulation is not surprising.   

Gardner and the gun lobby in Colorado believe the 2nd Amendment functions as no other amendment within the Bill of Rights.  They hold the mistaken belief that any regulation is tantamount to obliteration of the right. Nothing could be further from the truth; and unless Gardner was asleep in his Constitutional Law class, he knows this too.  

No right is absolute.  Not a one.  The right to free speech has its limits-as to time, place and manner; thus, the famous admonition, “You cannot yell fire in a crowded theater.”  Even freedom of religion can hit a wall, although that wall is cracking in Mississippi & North Carolina.  There are a plethora of cases where parents have withheld medical attention, needed drugs or used only prayer in relation to their child’s illness.  Courts have restricted such parental choice, even where religious conscience or freedom is alleged.  The U.S.  has libel and defamation laws which curb unfettered discretion in relation to free speech.

So why should Corey Gardner, the NRA and their acolytes think the 2nd Amendment trumps the most fundamental of rights-life and bodily integrity?  

Because there is a payoff for each part of this Triangle of Death.  Gardner gets the money, the NRA gets the power and the acolytes get the guns-regardless of whether shooting skeet or shooting to kill.

It’s true what they say-political whoring has its price; Cory Gardner is the NRA’s bitch.  

And Coloradans?   Perpetual victims of the gun lobby.  

Orlando

I try to understand.    I cannot.

I try to find peace.     I cannot

I try to find love.         I must

I try to find forgiveness.  In whose name? 

There are so many

Names of murdered

children

theater goers

students 

Mothers, 

Fathers

Sisters, 

Brothers

Husbands, 

Wives

Black, 

White, 

Latina

Latino

Asian

Indian

Christian

Jew

Muslim

Atheist

Agnostic

Gay

Lesbian

Bi

Transgender

Intersex

Straight.

I try 

To find 

My voice

To find

Forgiveness
I try.

And weep.

Donald Trump is Clueless…About the LGBTI Community

Since the Orlando massacre, the Donald’s statements are breathtaking, and not in a good way. Trump claims he is the better ally for our community.  Really!  Did I hear that correctly? Have I suddenly been transported to a parallel planet?

First, who does Donald think makes up the LGBTI community?  Does he not know we are Muslims and Mexicans, Chinese, Korean, Italian, Jewish, Irish and all shades of black, brown, red, white and yellow?  Does the Donald believe that we-a vulnerable minority -shall be lulled into acquiescence by cheap compliments or crocodile tears.  Does he not know, we shall not sign onto his campaign; a campaign riddled with invective, punctuated by assaults upon the human dignity of Muslim, Mexican, immigrants and women.

It is clear that Donald is clueless about oppression, especially oppression against the LGBTI community.  We are cautious when it comes to Republicans.  Very circumspect, indeed.  We remember Reagan and his silence as AIDS killed thousands.  We remember the hate speech of candidates whose last names are Santorum, Huckabee, Cruz.  We have taken note of hate legislation rammed through the legislatures of Texas, North Carolina, Indiana, and Kansas by Republicans.  Such speech and legislation direct attacks upon our dignity.  

So Donald, when you align with a political party that characterizes our marriages as the source for the demise of Western Civilisation or stigmatizes our families by labeling them as fertile ground for pedophilia, you do not deserve either approbation or support. 

You have mastered well the Republican ideology.

Thus, our message to you is:

You will not exploit the pain of June 12, 2016.  You will not appropriate our deaths or our names for political expediency or gain
Not now-Not ever.

12 June 2016

When Harvey Milk and George Mascone were murdered, there was a candle light march through the streets of San Francisco. A young man was standing along the route as the mourners silently walked past. This young man cried out “Where is your rage! Where is your rage!”

I thought of that moment and this question, whilst watching the vigils which stretched across the US and the world.  


Where is our rage?  

It is transformed into a fierce love; of ourselves, our significant others, our children and our LGBTI community and community of allies.  


Where is our rage?  

It is channeled into political action that will hold to account the purveyors of hate, whether cleric, politician, city clerk or members of Westboro or the Faith in Word Baptist Church.


Where is our rage? It shaped the work we do, the solidarity that defines us and the love we hold deeply in our hearts.


Where is our rage?


It is here

it is now, 

and tomorrow, 

and the tomorrow after that.  


We are the rage. 

 We are the rage that has become radical love and amazement.


And our rage? It shall not be defeated.

We Stand With Our LGBTI Sisters & Brothers

Another massacre.  Another man enters a Pub and, taking aim, unleashes a fusillade of hatred, each bullet at time.  Fifty dead; fifty-three wounded.

The hatred espoused by right wing fundamentalist Christians, incubated and nurtured this violence.  It is not about Islam; rather it is part and parcel of all Abrahamic religious traditions.  The moral paucity of the teachings extolled  by fundamentalist  Christians, Jews and Islamists, is the cannon fodder that contributes to explosions of this kind.

My fear is that the rhetoric of hate will escalate.  Indeed Trump has already begun social media tweets with a rather Byzantine message. It won’t be long before the anti-Muslim sentiment will crescendo into a fever pitch.  With Trump leading the troops.

This was however the type of hatred marked by the lexicon of the right-here in the States.  And this hatred is disguised as an expression of conscience or religious liberty.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  Queer bashing, murder, beatings are overt symbols of violence v the LGBTI community.  Yet, refusal of service, denial of public accommodation and the most recent anti-trans laws are a subtle form of violence which denies gay men, lesbians and transgender people human dignity and respect.  And this contempt is fertile ground where such hatred grows.   

It is time to reject and confront ALL those who hold contempt against our community.  It is time to call out the Mateens as well as the Trumps, McConnells, Cruzs, and the sponsors of hate legislation in Texas and North Carolina.   As Hillel said, “…if not now ? When?”  Let never again mean-never again!

It Takes a Woman

Cruz, Rubio, Walker, Rand, Kasich, Huckabee and Santorum couldn’t do it.  None of the men running against The  Donald could bring him down.  Quite the opposite, Donald threw each one-like a piece of cheap wood – onto the political pyre.  And burn they did.

It wasn’t until Hillary Clinton wielded humor and adroit political commentary like a dagger that blood was finally drawn. A river of blood as she slashed through Donald’s racist rhetoric and shredded  his “I am the greatest,” platitudes; laying bare a hull with neither substance nor form.  

Yet, it was Elizabeth Warren who delivered the final blow; driving a stake in the heart of a political misanthrope, the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party.  The genius of the Warren critique was her connection of Trump to the Republican leadership and its hit job upon the Judiciary.    Warren’s  speech clearly articulated that the Republican Senators ravaged the federal bench by blocking every federal court nominee from the Obama White House; their strategy culminated in obstructing Senate consideration of  Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the United States Supreme Court. 

Warren entoned a litany of invective used by the Right to impune the reputation of nominees to the federal district, circuit and Supreme Court.  The Republican Right not only disfavors but disdains an independent judiciary- one that will not bend the law to accommodate the greed of a bloated economic aristocracy.  Indeed, the Republican attack is waged against judicial nominee as well as upon the integrity of the Court, integral to preservation of our Constitutional  Republic.  

Trump is an extension of this cabal and strategy.  He is neither an accident nor a mistaken coincidence, rather he is a direct consequence of the politics of intimidation perfected  by the Republican Right.   Thus, Trump’s racist rant about the objectivity and judicial temperament of Judge Curiel flows from the invective and ad hominem attacks engaged in by McConnell, Cruz, Sessions et al.  This acorn did not fall far from the tree. 

It took two women to pull back the curtain and reveal that Trump is merely a marionette, dancing to the tune of the GOP.  Warren and Clinton made an important connection between the reprehensible conduct of the Republican nominee and the Party he represents. McConnell et al cannot claim shock or surprise at Trump’s words, conduct or subsequent rise to power.  They scripted, nurtured, and incubated this organism that devolved into Donald Trump-Republican Candidate for President.