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Why I’m still a Democrat


I have friends who hate the Democratic Party. Frankly there are aspects of it that annoy the hell out of me, too. The wokeness is such a turnoff, with its intellectual narrowness, smug superiority and obsession with race. At its most ridiculous extreme you get a situation like the one in San Francisco, where a woke school board decided to rename schools named after George Washington and Abraham Lincoln because they were deemed to be “racists.” Even in ultra-liberal San Francisco, that shocked a lot of people, and it looks like those school board members will be recalled.

I can’t really blame people who leave the Democratic Party, although I do think that because of Trump, the Republican Party is an even worse choice. Some of my friends would never admit to being Trumpers, nor would I ask because it’s none of my business, but I suspect they are. I admit to being a never-Trumper and a never-Republican. But my loathing of the Republican Party preceded Trump and will last after he’s gone, and for a very simple reason: As a gay man, I’ve been aware for the last 40 years that the Republican Party wants to kill me.

Hyperbole? No. Fueling the Republican Party since the 1970s has been the odious, dangerous conservative-Christian movement in America. That includes evangelicals, Pentecostals and extreme Catholics. These people peddle the pathological lie that gay people are (fill in the blank: satanic, going to hell, depraved, hated by God). There are elements within this lunatic cult that believe God sent AIDS as punishment for gays (which always makes me giggle: Does God send tornadoes to trailer parks because she hates evangelicals?). These sociopaths make no secret of the fact that they would like to eliminate gay people from America. They may not come out and call for the murder of gay people, although some of them do call for our forced incarceration or segregation. But at the root of their rhetoric lies the simple, atavistic desire to rub out gay people, and as we’ve seen in Hitler’s Germany and anyplace that ISIS controlled, such a desire, if unopposed, leads inevitably to genocide.

I don’t expect non-gay people to understand this. We gays have been hunted down by the straight majority our entire lives. We’ve been ostracized and made to feel demonized even when we know we’re good people. This hatred of gays is accurately called “homophobia” but it’s been systematically organized into a movement called the Republican Party that is the party of hatred and death. I truly believe that, at the heart of every homophobe is a kernel of pure evil.

This is why I remain a Democrat and not a Republican. For all the complaining I do about the Democratic Party, I never forget the many blessings it has given us: an end to child labor, labor unions, Social Security, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Endangered Species Act, the environmental movement, the minimum wage, women’s rights, gay marriage, fighting climate change, supporting trans rights—the list goes on and on. Republicans opposed every single one of those initiatives because of the evil that has putrefied their souls.

This is why I’m proud to be a Democrat. I call myself a “moderate” Democrat because I believe in the moderately left-of-center ideals propounded by Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Harry Truman, JFK, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and President Biden. But make no mistake, I loathe the woke people as much as the Republicans loathe them. We need to reform our party by bringing it closer to the center, and the way to do that is by rejecting the reverse-racism and arrogance of the wokes.

The ugly truth about evangelicals


The Kaiser Family Foundation took a poll of Americans about getting the COVID shot. The lowest percentage of those who said they would never, ever get vaccinated was Democrats (less than 2%) and Americans over 65 (8%). The highest percentage? Rural residents (24%), Republicans (23%) and white evangelical Christians (22%). Never in a thousand years, they insisted, would they get inoculated…and these three categories are, of course, actually a single category: white evangelicals who live in rural areas and consistently vote Republican.

They tend to believe what their preachers say more than what science and the news say (unless the “news” is from Fox), which is why President Biden has been leaning so heavily on “local ministers and preachers” to convince “MAGA folks…to get that vaccine.” Sadly, that well-meaning tactic isn’t working. “If I put forth effort to push [the vaccine], I’d be wasting my breath,” Nathan White, a pastor at the late Jerry Falwell’s church, Liberty Baptist, told Politico.

So indoctrinated have White’s rural parishioners become by decades of evangelical propaganda that they no longer have the capacity to think straight. These are the people who believe the Rapture is at hand. In many cases, Rev. White’s churchgoers are the same ones who sat in the same pews when Falwell told them, “Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions.”

This is the same Falwell who told them Sept. 11 was caused by “the abortionists, feminists and gays.” The credulous evangelicals who listened to him believed every word of it, not because they didn’t possess God-given brains, but because they chose not to use those brains. They chose to be good Christians and “ask no questions.”

A few evangelical leaders have had the courage to stand up to their colleagues and urge churchgoers to get inoculated. Two of them, Curtis Chang and Kris Carter, recently published an op-ed in the New York Times in which they blamed “conspiracy movements such as QAnon and antivaccine campaigns” for stirring up “outright fear and hostility” toward science. Chang and Carter referred to the widespread evangelical belief that “the vaccines contain a microchip or that they are ‘the mark of the beast.” They begged “local churches and individual Christians [to] take the lead in convincing fellow evangelicals to get vaccinated.”

But their words are falling on deaf ears.

There’s one word that hasn’t yet arisen in this conversation: Trump. The same white, rural evangelical Republicans who won’t get a COVID shot because it’s the mark of the beast are the ones who voted for Trump. They continue to love and support him, even though his entire life stands in violent contradiction to the Christian values and morals they profess to cherish. Frankly, it’s no use preaching facts or science to them. It’s pointless to argue with them. They’re a lost cause. Certainly, many of them are about to succumb to COVID and its variants, but even when they’re sick and in hospital, on ventilators, they will clutch their Bibles and look forward to seeing Jesus in Heaven, and bless Him for killing them; and they will never accept that their deaths are, in reality, suicides.

It’s a hideous lie to say Republicans are more gay-friendly because of Trump


I don’t particularly like the San Francisco Chronicle’s political columnist, Joe Garofoli, because he’s always taking cheap shots at Gov. Newsom, whom I admire. I suspect he’s secretly a crypto-trumper.

Especially obnoxious was his headline yesterday: “GOP gets gay-friendlier—thanks to, yes, Trump.”

You read that right: Donald Trump, protector of LGBTQ people, is making the homophobic Republican-Evangelical Party gay-friendly!

Now, I have to say Garofoli may not have written the headline; his editor might have been the culprit. And Garofoli wasn’t actually responsible for the subject of his column, whom he quoted: Charles Moran, managing director of the Log Cabin Republicans.

The LCRs are a rather queer (in the old sense) group of gay rightwingers. For all their 40-plus years of existence, they’ve puzzled and infuriated the vast majority of gays, who wonder why anyone gay would support an outfit that wants to obliterate LGBTQ people.

The weirdo headline was based on Garofoli’s interview with Moran. It stemmed from his statement that “One of the best things about [Trump] is that he helped get the Republican Party beyond the hang-up around LGBT equality issues.”

Now you, Dear Reader, might be scratching your head in wonderment about how Trump moved his party beyond their gay hang-up. Well, Moran’s thesis is that Trump wasn’t as horrible toward LGBTQ people as most Republicans might have been. And so, in Moran’s fever dream, because he wasn’t as Hitleresque as other Republicans, he actually helped the Republican Party toward gay acceptance.

There’s so much wrong and dishonest about this that it’s hard to know where to begin, starting with Trump’s alleged gay-friendliness. To set the record straight, the Trump regime “gutted LGBTQ+ rights,” says the decidedly conservative-leaning USA Today newspaper. The article details some of the more homophobic things the Trump regime did, including

  • Removing all mention of LGBTQ people and issues from the White House website
  • Barring transgendered people from the military
  • Pushed for exemptions that would allow health care providers to refuse care to transgender people and those with HIV/AIDS
  • Banned U.S. embassies from flying the rainbow flag to mark global Pride Month
  • Outlawed the words “transgender” and “diversity” in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports
  • Stopped data collection for LGBTQ+ kids in foster care
  • And, of course, appointed some of the most rightwing, homophobic fanatics to the Supreme Court—justices whose anti-gay rulings will turn back the clock on LGBTQ rights for decades to come.

Do you remember that scene from The Caine Mutiny when the Jose Ferrer character tosses a glass of water into the face of the Fred MacMurray character? That’s what I’ll do if I ever have the non-pleasure of meeting Charles Moran. The guy is a tool, a liar, and a self-professed apologist for the infamies of the homophobic Trump Party, which are legion. Mr. Moran may say to himself that he’s not a single-issue voter, and that the mere fact that he’s gay doesn’t prevent him from voting Republican. I can accept that, although it rubs me the wrong way.

But for Moran to claim that Trump pushed the Republican Party in a gay-friendly way is appallingly dishonest spin. It’s the kind of propaganda we’ve come to expect from Republican extremists, and it’s sad that San Francisco’s paper of record, the Chronicle, has chosen to plaster those rightwing lies on its own pages.

Guest editorial: Bill Bratton on “defund the police”

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(Bill Bratton served as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, chief of the New York City Transit Police, and commissioner of the Boston Police Department and the New York City Police Department. This piece has been adapted from “THE PROFESSION: A Memoir of Community, Race, and the Arc of Policing in America” by Bill Bratton and Peter Knobler. Published by arrangement with Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2021 by William Bratton.)

You can’t defund an institution to punish it and think that this action is going to make it better!

Like Black Lives Matter, Defund the Police is a political hashtag that means different things to different people. Some want to abolish the police altogether; others want to take money out of police budgets and give it to social‐service agencies to be used for community needs and activities, particularly focused on minorities. Still others want to, as they put it, redesign or reimagine policing. 

All are centered around the idea of taking from law enforcement organizations of the responsibilities and associated funding that have become flash points—dealing with the mentally ill, the homeless, the addicted—and putting them in other hands.

But there’s a reason those responsibilities have fallen to the police over the years: society in general, and the state in particular, decided it did not have the willpower or the funds to run programs that would handle them successfully. Mental institutions closed; shelters became unwelcoming and unsafe; addiction services became underprioritized and overwhelmed. 

So who ended up as the dumping ground for the homeless in the 1970s? The police. The drug addicts of the ’70s and ’80s? The police. 

Who is having to deal with the issues of today? The police. 

Police departments around the country would be pleased to pass along many of these responsibilities and focus on more traditional policing concerns, but they cannot do that until some other fully capable entity is prepared to step into the breach.

Replacing the police as government caregivers is a great concept; its advocates just have it backward. We saw how small‐government representatives sucked funding out of most social programs since the Kennedy administration. Neutered them, starved them, and then tried to eliminate them. And we saw that the only one standing at the bottom of all society’s safety nets, when people fall through the holes because they are frayed and worn down or purposely ripped open, is the cop. And the country got very comfortable with that.

Shall we invest money in developing more care for emotionally disturbed people? Shall we increase hospital beds and institutions for the mentally ill? Shall we adjust the insurance laws so their needs actually get covered? Or should we just say, “Ahh, screw it. The cops will handle it”? 

Society had made that choice already, now they were rethinking it. Should we deal with the homeless with treatment and housing? Or should we tell the cops to tell them, “Keep moving it along”?

Again, we’ve done that before; that’s how the cops became the enemy of the homeless. Should we deal with drug addiction and rehab and programs on a national basis, or should we just say to the cops, “Try to arrest your way through this and make it better”?

You can’t defund the police before you make those investments. You can’t withdraw police services until you have sustained and secured those services in other ways. You can’t take the money from the cops and throw it to failed agencies that don’t know what they’re doing. 

You have to make those investments, and then over time, as these specifically trained organizations get into gear and respond successfully to the responsibilities being given, the police can relinquish their role and defund themselves. The NYPD goes on an emotionally disturbed person call every 4 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If it was not the department’s responsibility, think of all the time that would be available to reduce disorder and prevent crime.

The money must be reinvested first, and then one day police departments across America should be able to wake up and say,

“Wow, we don’t need that many cops. We don’t have that many calls, we don’t have as big a drug problem, we don’t have a serious homeless problem, we are not affected as seriously by mentally ill people who are neither being cared for in a hospital nor supported on the outside.” At that point the departments themselves can say, “You know, we’ve got lots of cops who don’t have that much to do. You can have a few thousand of them back.”

You can’t defund an institution to punish it and think that this action is going to make it better.

But we are not there; we’re nowhere near. And we can’t possibly get there by taking a billion dollars out of the police budget, as has been proposed for the NYPD, including 60% of overtime funding, which is the department’s go‐to tool during a crime wave.

It seems to me that a formidable portion of the effort to defund the police, abolish the police, f*ck the police is just punitive. People are angry and hateful and spiteful. It doesn’t make sense, it’s not well thought out. 

You can’t defund an institution to punish it and think that this action is going to make it better. Under normal circumstances, you have to pour more money into an institution with needs, not less. 

So “Defund the Police” has never made sense to me. “Defund the police and send the money elsewhere” is at least rational, but that money isn’t being sent anywhere else, and the government and/or private agencies in line for those funds didn’t become any smarter or more efficient in the meantime. Those agencies must be rebuilt. Meanwhile, we are going to see exactly what we’re seeing, which is the police doing the job that every other agency has failed to do.

If you defund the police and tell them to stop doing those jobs—to disengage from the homeless, to walk by the mentally ill—the streets will not be pretty. 

As funds are being withdrawn and no replacements are being put in place, nothing is working. In June 2020, the 60% cut in overtime pay resulted in thousands of New York City cops being taken off the streets. The crime rate, particularly shootings, went through the roof. NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea equates it to turning off the hoses while a fire in a building is raging. He asks, “What did you expect would happen?” 

#DefundThePolice was a catchy hashtag driving policy. However, policy needs to be based on facts, figures and an understanding of the issues. Defund, redesign, reimagine, abolish the police all had their moments.

The worst idea is that somehow America should simply abolish the police, yet you can hear that call emanating from any number of protest podiums. There is an active opposition to the entire concept of policing that is using this upheaval as a shovel at a grave, saying, “We can abolish this!” What could they be thinking?!

Anytime police are absent, society degenerates. When the powerful but sociopathic decide they are going to take what’s not theirs, who is best trained and able to prevent bad actors from preying upon the community? Cops. With no cops in the streets, lawlessness prevails. Robbery, rape, casual violence, horrendous murder rates. 

Who’s going to stop them? Social workers? Self‐appointed citizen vigilantes? Who are those people and who sets their agenda? It’s not pretty, armed anarchy. 

So, please, that is not going to happen. Forget about abolishing the police.

Celebrating Gay Pride Month


Those of us of a certain age who were born gay have special reason to celebrate this Gay Pride Month of June. It represents our release from the Babylonian Captivity of the homophobic hysteria that gripped the world for millennia.

A young gay boy or girl growing up in America today can have no idea what life was like prior to the Gay Liberation Movement of the last 40 years. This isn’t a criticism of them. Thank God they have no idea. Born free, they can look forward to living full, productive lives, knowing that here in America, at least, a majority of people happily accept the LGBTQ rainbow.

For me, discovering I was gay at the age of about 8 or 9 was one of the most awful things I’ve ever experienced. I’d had no way of knowing there was anything wrong with my natural desires, which were attracted to my male friends. It was beautiful to mess around with them. But one day, I was hanging out with some of the older boys, guys who were 14 and 15. One of them—let’s call him Larry–told a story about how he’d been flunking one of his classes, so he went to see the teacher and asked if there was anything he could do to pass. As it turned out, there was. Larry proceeded to tell his friends that the teacher, an older man, said if Larry let him perform oral sex on him (actually, Larry used the more common vulgarity for the act), then the teacher would pass him. And that’s what happened.

As Larry reached this point in the story, the other guys groaned and made various expressions of disgust. “Oh my God!” they said. “That’s disgusting.” Larry said, “Yeah. There’s people like that around. They’re called ‘fags.’ They like other guys, not girls.”

As I took all this in, my head began to spin, my heart pounded and my stomach sank into my bowels. “That’s what I am,” I thought to myself. “A fag. And, judging from the reaction of these guys, that’s a terrible, awful, horrible thing to be. I have to keep it secret for the rest of my life.”

That was the moment I disappeared into the closet. I didn’t come out for nearly 30 years, when, in 1982, living in San Francisco and leading an active gay life, I finally decided to overcome my fears and let everyone know I was gay.

This June of 2021 also marks the 40th anniversary (if that’s the right word) of the appearance of AIDS in the world. In San Francisco, of course, we were at Ground Zero of the epidemic. For a while, it seemed like we were all going to die. Many of us did. I did not. Those of us who survived made it through, which is another reason to celebrate.

After the AIDS pandemic broke out, I volunteered for a nonprofit called The Shanti Project. They assigned me clients who were very, very sick, and I helped them out a few times a week with chores like laundry, dishwashing, food shopping, vacuuming and dusting and the like. It was my privilege to do so. I’d not been a particularly compassionate or caring person in my life, and it gave me a great deal of satisfaction to do something, little as it was. Every one of my clients died during my service to them.

The gay struggle, however, isn’t over. Nations around the world still arrest, torture and murder gay men and women. Even here in our country, the so-called City on a Hill, there are millions of benighted people—primarily conservative Christians—who hate gay people and would do terrible things to us, if they had the power. They say, “Oh, I hate the sin, not the sinner,” but that’s a lie. I can imagine some Nazi pig in the 1930s in Germany saying, “Oh, I don’t hate the Jews. But we must do something about them.” I have nothing but contempt for homophobes.

To all who are gay who read this – to all who are not gay but who support LGTBQ rights – bless you and keep you in this summer season. Be healthy, continue to do right as you perceive the right. May we all succeed in the continuing struggle for human rights.

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