Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Thanks, Obama – to a point, anyway (riding the calm before the shitstorm)

January 19, 2017


Today, my social-media universe is a little bit quieter than usual. I’m guessing it’s just most of us riding out the calm before the shitstorm that officially hits us at noon tomorrow. (That would be Jan. 20.) Every bit of corruption and ignorance and stupidity and heartlessness that has been brewing beneath the surface of our country’s veneer of decency and fairness is set to officially explode in our face. If I don’t end up on the streets and/or dead between now and the end of this administration, it’ll be a miracle. And that’s not hyperbole or drama, as you’ll read.

So today, I pause and reflect on the man who has led the country the last eight years. The most important president in my lifetime. Barack Obama 2009 and Barack Obama 2017 have been the bookends of the most turbulent time of my life – some ways certainly for better, some ways most definitely for worse.


A little presidential parlor game

November 8, 2011

I should preface this with a lawyer-like disclaimer: My opinions are truly my own and are not the opinions of any employer past, present or future …

Okay, the 2012 presidential election takes place 52 weeks from today. And since shit is being stirred on both sides of the political debate — Occupy on one side, the surreal circus that is the Republican Debate Tour on the other — it’s time to address a question that’s been bothering me for a long while now.

And maybe it starts some healthy debate. And maybe it starts something bigger.

It’s no secret that many of us to the left of the radical right are disappointed, disillusioned and/or pissed off at the man currently in the White House. The man who had the audacity to make so many people hope, then tossed them aside once he took office in order to follow a course of appeasement — with the wrong people.

And there are a lot of other things about him that I won’t get into now, both for brevity’s sake and for risk of veering off-course.

So now he’s coming back to us — taking his too-little, too-late-for-many job bill show on the road, trying to “energize the base,” as they so call it in D.C., with that smug, arrogant, look-down-his-nose pose of his, and speaking eloquently and slickly (with the aid of a teleprompter), because that’s what he does best. And he won’t do much else.

Why? Because all he and his handlers have to do, really, is point at the Republican side show and say, “Do you want our guy or these clowns?”

Any why’s that? Because people have been cowed into thinking they don’t have any other choice.

I’ve had too many friends tell me, both in conversation and on Facebook posts, “Well, who do you want to run for president?” As if we don’t have any other choice. Maybe they’re still haunted by visions of Ralph Nader; maybe they believe the two-party system is mandated by the Constitution. or something outlandish like that.

I’ll tell you what I tell everyone: 310 million people in this country and this is the best we can do?

This is really the best we can do? Two people who are gonna be in the pockets of Wall Street, who will say whatever it takes to win, then do what Wall Street damn well pleases?


So here’s the parlor game:

Pretend that you have no choice but to vote for someone else for president. Pretend Obama’s a lame duck, or he’s decided to step down to take part-ownership of Da Bulls or something. You have to pick a new president.

Okay — who’s the best person, or persons, for the job?

Think of a name or two. Could be a Democrat; could be an independent,  Republican, Libertarian, Green, whatever. Doesn’t matter. Just someone who hasn’t been announced as a candidate up to this point who you think would give us the leadership and strength we need to get out of one hell of a mess.

You don’t have to articulate your reasoning beyond a sentence or two — besides, every candidate is gonna be run through the Central Scrutinizer at some point, so all the laundry, clean and dirty, will eventually be wrung out. The whole point of this parlor game is to get some names out in the Webosphere — to get the country thinking that we don’t have to settle for the status quo. Hell, most of us have been screwed by the status quo every way to Sunday.

In short, do you want a say in choosing the next president at an extremely crucial time in our history — or are you just gonna lazily leave the choice up to them? Whatever them is?

So get your thinking caps on. And please share this with your friends — play the parlor game with your circles and see what happens. Let’s see if we can actually find a good president among the 310 million people in this damned country. Here goes …


Bagging a piece of semantics that bothers me

March 1, 2011

You should know up front that I’m certainly no fan of what passes for the right wing of American politics. Never have been.

If you want to place me somewhere in the spectrum of political views — well, by the definitions of the era in which I grew up, the ’60s and ’70s, I would probably be considered a moderate, leaning toward the left. But in the radical paradigm shift that’s taken place since the start of the “Reagan” “Revolution,” I’m practically the caricature of the bomb-throwing anarchist, right down to the little derby, brushy mustache and sparking, globe-shaped bomb in my hand.

And I see American politics, and political discourse, unraveling at a speed short of unnerving right now. And I see the silly signs and the misplaced anger of Tea Party protesters, and I recoil at the possibility of violence from the fringe of the fringe.

And to tell you, I believe many of the people who fly under the Tea Party flag mean just as well for our country as the rest of us — they’re just not smart enough to realize that we’re ALL being screwed by the same cabal of ultra-wealthy up top. These monsters who would dismantle our Constitution piece by subtle piece, as they’ve done the past 30 years, and transform America from a beacon-for-all-the-world democracy into the industrialized version of a medieval serf state — and they’re pitting us against each other, “right” vs. “left,” in a grand version of the divide-and-conquer game that has gone on for generations under different guises (immigrant vs. “native,” black vs. white, gay vs. “straight,” anti-abortion vs. pro-choice, rich vs. poor).

But I’m no knee-jerk with my liberalism. I also see some things on the left that I don’t like.

Like, at the moment, one tiny bit of semantics with a hint of hypocrisy to it. A slur against one group of people that takes a second group of people with it.


My comment to Krugman in The New York Times about extending the tax cuts

December 6, 2010

So, what most people would call the work week begins with something that wasn’t on my radar when I went to sleep. Actually, define “sleep.” It was one of the most restless nights I’ve had in some time.

Paul Krugman’s new column in The New York Times went up overnight, in which he made the argument against extending the Cheney/Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest percentage of Americans. He laid out the argument that letting the tax cuts lapse would be the lesser of two evils.

It prompted me to post a comment.


So am I really screwed this time?

November 17, 2010

Not as if 20 months of unemployment hasn’t been stressful enough, or done a number on the old self-worth, but now it seems I, and millions like me, are in deep shit again.

And this time I’m afraid I’m not getting out.

And just in time for Christmas.

The time for giving. The time for remembering the Jesus that so many right-wingers wave in our faces as if they own him.

Federal emergency unemployment benefit extensions run out Nov. 30, the Monday after Thanksgiving. And, as in August, debate over extensions is being held up in the Senate by Republicans and a few Democrats.

And thanks to the recent election results, the Senate Democrats in this lame-duck period don’t have the muscle to reopen the debate.

And Congress adjourns for Thanksgiving week at the end of Friday. Meaning that unless a miracle occurs this week, which won’t happen, the chance of debate on the matter won’t be open again until Monday, Nov. 29 — the day before the end of the current extension.

And the newly emboldened Republicans, with all their deficit-cutting rhetoric — all the while protecting the Cheney/Bush tax cuts for their true constituents, the ultra-rich — don’t seem to want to talk about it.

We’re screwed.

Brother, can you spare a job?


On their own merits

October 29, 2010

Brittany Novotny is the Democratic candidate for Oklahoma's 84th District state representative; an attorney who had sexual reassignment surgery three years ago, she's up against an anti-gay Republican incumbent.

Now that I’ve gotten past the legal part of my gender transition, wherever I go with my life — and I sure as hell would like to just make something out of my life, which doesn’t look very likely after you’ve been sharing a bed with unemployment for over a year and a half — I hope for one thing:

That the word “transgender” doesn’t become anyone’s shorthand description of me. And I’ll tell you now that I won’t accept it.

I just won’t stand for it. I’m not gonna be “Transgender best-selling author Fran Fried,” “Transgender ‘Jeopardy!’ champ Fran Fried” or “Transgender chief cook and bottle washer Fran Fried,” or whatever I might make of myself. It’s gonna be “Best-selling author Fran Fried,” etc., or nothing, though if someone feels compelled to point out the gender trip on second or third reference, then fine. After all, no one would say “Black basketball star LeBron James.” How you’re born shouldn’t be what defines you.

As I’ve maintained all along, 1) I hate the word “transgender,” because it sounds so damned clinical; and 2) My gender identity is only a facet of what defines me — a big, honking facet at the moment, of course, but certainly not the only thing. And my friends and family already know that very well.

I’m already seeing the day when life becomes “normal,” whatever that means. Being out for well over a year in Fresno, hanging out in local restaurants, coffee shops and bars, shopping around town — I’m just doing what I was doing all along, only I look and feel much better doing it. As far as I’m concerned, save for the lingering joblessness, my life is normal, with intermittent bursts of very interesting.

While being out might indeed open some doors for me someday, that won’t last. Judging by the way I’ve been able to work my way into the general population so far, there will be a day, sooner than later, when no one even gives me a second glance. If they do give me a second look, it’ll be as an afterthought.

And as we come up on Tuesday, the fact that there are so relatively many political candidates across the country this year who are trans — and not confined to one area of the political spectrum — can’t be anything but a huge help on this level. Whatever their political beliefs, the candidates, who by chance all happen to be male-to-females, are running on their own merits, which is how it should be. And one day soon, it won’t even be a topic of discussion.


Prop 8, Target and the politics of shopping

August 5, 2010

The decision by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco yesterday afternoon in favor of the plaintiffs in Perry v. Schwarzenegger — the ruling that decisively overturned Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage — is indeed a happy occasion. Not unexpected — after all, the defense in this case was as weak as a Pop Warner secondary trying to cover the Saints’ receivers — but still, potentially a landmark moment in American civil rights.

Unless, of course, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals — or, worse yet, the Roberts Supreme Court — decides to reverse it.

But there’s a lot of work to be done. Walker stayed his own ruling until at least Friday to decide whether to suspend his ruling while it’s being appealed. Further up the line, the “protectors” of marriage will most probably come up with a better set of lawyers to argue their case against the bipartisan tag team of David Boies and Ted Olson. The case stands the chance of winding through the legal system for a year or two more.

And yesterday’s decision dovetails nicely with a story that has taken a week in some quarters — surprisingly — to gain traction: a story about the right of same-sex couples to marry, the right of a corporation to use our money to oppose it, and our right to stop supporting such corporations.

If you haven’t heard much about the Target boycott yet, read on.


ARCHIVES: I SO want things to work out with him …

May 30, 2010

This pre-Franorama World post is from my MySpace blog Jan. 20, 2009, 5 a.m. — still wired after a drive home from San Francisco and four hours before Obama’s inauguration:

I’m talking about Obama! What did you think? (Made you look …)


ARCHIVES: It’s everything; it’s no big thing … and now what?

May 30, 2010

This pre-Franorama World post is from my MySpace blog Nov. 5, 2008, 8:36 a.m. PST — the morning after Barack Obama’s election:

(Disclaimer: My opinions are mine alone and not any reflection of any friends, relatives, enemies or employers past or present, except by sheer coincidence.)

I was born two months to the day before Barack Obama. Albeit through quite different (and quite unique) lenses, he’s pretty much seen the same American history I have — the space race, Nam, MLK, RFK, Nixon, the Carter malaise, the Reagan Revolution, Iraq, the Clinton legacy that could have been, the radical “religious” “right,” 9/11, Iraq, the ravages of the Bushes and Cheney and their pals, racial equality, gender equality, sexual preference equality, the decline of our economy and our place in the world.

And probably like Obama, I’ve spent my entire adult voting life forced to choose the lesser of two evils rather than the best person for the job. And I’ll be the first to admit that I was not thrilled with the prospect of having to vote for him in the primary. He seemed too slick, and we remember all too well the last slick Democrat to become president. (I still insist calling Clinton a “liberal” is a stretch.)

His health care proposals were shaky at best, Republican at worst, and, post-primary, his waffling on the FISA bill over the summer deeply troubled me. California allows independents such as me to vote in the primary of my choice, and again in June I was forced to choose the lesser of evils: a contest between two senators for the right to do battle with another senator — all the while Chuck D blaring in my ears “Corrupt as a senator!” and the voice in my head telling many of my friends, “300 million people and this is the best we can do?” So again, I was forced to hold my nose as I voted for Obama.

Like Obama, I remember the enthusiasm surrounding the last presidential election before we were eligible to vote — the ascension of Jimmy Carter and the brief period of bliss when we thought the gust of a new and positive and different era was about to take hold. Carter might be one of the most decent men to have ever held the office, but we all know he sure as hell wasn’t a great president. So in spite of what I’ve been seeing the past three months, I’ve withheld any sense of optimism about the election, even though Obama started pulling ahead in the polls.

However, over the past three months, I did begin to see a man who actually might not merely be the lesser of two evils, but maybe, just maybe — finally, for the first time in my 47 years — the right person for the job. A man who took all the shit and the mud that the once-righteous McCain and that yahoo from Moosedung, Alaska, flung at him, let it slide off him like a true Teflon president and flicked it back like a quick wrist pass on a break.

And he was not only unflappable, but could speak wisely and intelligently without a cue card. (Granted, eight years of a mentally deficient chimp lowered the bar to historic lows, but Obama still did the high jump as if the bar were at 8 feet.) And he really seemed to care on some level. I couldn’t give a fuck if I couldn’t have a beer or at least a cup of coffee with him (and truth is, none of us were gonna have a beer with Shrub, either; it was just an illusion) — I just needed to know he was someone who got it, and cared enough to take on the problems Cheneybush dug us into, and that if he couldn’t do it himself, he might get the best people available to help him do it, regardless of party affiliation. And as the campaign drew closer to tonight, the more I felt that maybe he’d be able to do something to move the country back to the greatness everyone expects.

And at 8 tonight, when the polls here closed — and Charlie Gibson announced in the other room that California was projected for Obama, and “Barack Obama will be elected the 44th president of the United States. Barack Obama has been elected president” — all I could do was smile, and all I could say was “Fucking cool!”

Just how fucking cool is that?

ARCHIVES: Whom I’m NOT voting for

May 30, 2010

This pre-Franorama World post is from my MySpace blog Oct. 31, 2008, 2:58 a.m. PST:

(Disclaimer: My opinions are mine alone and not any reflection of any friends, relatives, enemies or employers past or present, except by sheer coincidence.)

Well, right off, this is not a partisan message. If you know me, you know I hate both parties equally — the Republicans for a million things they’ve done in my lifetime, the Democrats for standing by and doing nothing for most of that time, especially when they’ve had the power to do so. (Also because I’ve seen up-close what a one-party system can do and not do — in New Haven, the Democrats outnumber the Republicans about 13-1 and a Democratic machine has run the city for 56 years. Talk about a major poli sci case study …)

Enough with that rant. On to the real rant. Here’s whom I’m not voting for:

Any asshole who robocalls me.