Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What is AmeriNZ?

The video above explains where the name "AmeriNZ" comes from. I don't think I’ve ever explained all this on my podcast, but I did talk about it here on the blog a couple years ago. I wanted to make sure an explanation was available on YouTube itself.

I’m slowly starting to make more videos (and I’m always glad to get suggestions…), so I thought it would be good to explain the nickname—well, more of a brand, really—before I make too many more. Eventually, new videos will be a more or less weekly thing (I hope).

In any case, at least folks on YouTube will know where the name comes from, too.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Arthur Answers, Part 5 – A little gaiety

Lately, the posts in this series of “Ask Arthur” answers have been kind of serious. Which means it’s time to inject a little gaiety into this series. Even so, today's subjects are still serious—it's just there's a theme for this post.

Roger Green asked on Facebook:

“Does the foot dragging on marriage equality implementation, primarily in the US South surprise, or irritate you? Or do you think it's just an inevitable part of the process?”

Much, though certainly not all, of the foot-dragging has started to resolve itself since Roger first posted the question at the start of the month, but my answer to the question is, yes.

I wasn’t surprised, since the pro-discrimination crowd had fought so long and hard and invested so much energy and money into preserving discrimination that there was simply no way they could back down once they’d lost.

However, it’s always irritating when people grandstand for political, especially partisan, reasons, and this was that. Some of the grandstanding, like that infamous judge in Alabama, was just pandering (and fundraising), and along the line some officials were used by the radical right anti-gay industry to try and score points with the most frothing part of the USA’s Rightwing (to better raise money). All of that irritated me.

But the clerks and such who dug in their heels, many of whom were being used, are more objects of pity than scorn. It’s really sad when people use their prejudices as justification for denying equal treatment under law. The clerks’ refusal was never about “religious freedom”, and only ever about anti-gay animus. We know this because they didn’t refuse marriage licenses to people who were divorced and remarrying, people of different religious beliefs—or, especially, no religious belief, inter-racial marriages, etc., etc., etc. I’ve no doubt that some of the refuseniks really did believe it was about religious freedom, but it wasn’t. That was irritating, but more pitiable than actually angering.

So, because it was all expected, including the political posturing, and because the individuals who refused were worthy of pity, not scorn, on the whole I’d say it was all part of the process.

Roger also asked me to comment on the “controversy” around a picture of shirtless men raising the rainbow flag, looking much like the famous photo of the Iwo Jima flag raising (See: “Iwo Jima Marines, gay pride and a photo adaptation that spawns fury” in the Washington Post).

I absolutely hated the “controversy”. The photo was over a decade old and, as the photographer, Ed Freeman, pointed out, it only became widely known because of social media, which, as we all know, has a ready-made audience of people looking to be outraged over nothing very much at all.

Years ago (I have no idea how many), I saw the photo (I have no idea where) and thought nothing in particular about it (apart, maybe, from thinking the lads seemed rather attractive—maybe). The point is, it certainly didn’t outrage me at the time, probably because I’d seen the image appropriated dozens of times over the years, often to promote products, some of which might be viewed as disrespectful.

The main reason I hated the “controversy” wasn’t just because of how stupid it was, but also because the visceral reaction from SO many people was obviously because of its gay theme. I know people are quick to become outraged these days, but it seemed that too many were too quick to assume that gay people had done something just to insult them, and that insulted me.

Roger also asked me to comment on an anti-gay marriage ad made by a rightwing Roman Catholic group. The ad appropriated gay imagery and themes to make an anti-gay point, and it was a truly awful idea. AdWeek discussed it and posted the videos of the ad and the first parody. The AdWeek commentary is pretty much what I thought, too. Obviously, the Catholic group can be anti-gay if they want to be, and they’re free to oppose the freedom to marry if they must, but to do so by stealing the very imagery used by LGBT people for years is pretty crass, and using it to try and present themselves as “victims” and “oppressed” is actually pretty disgusting. Still, they’ve been roundly mocked for the ad, which is good. Again, the point here is not that they’re anti-gay (one of many religious groups), the point is that they deliberately insulted and mocked LGBT people in order to try and get people to oppress us, and that was despicable about it.

Finally (for today), Roger asked here on the blog:

“Matt Baume's book (Defining Marriage: Voices from a Forty-Year Labor of Love) – I'm about a quarter of the way through it – talks a lot about some gay folks believing that marriage as an institution was heterosexist hegemony, and they wanted to have nothing to do with it. Others (later) thought that a domestic partnership was "marriage-lite". What was your evolution on these issues?”

I well remember when I was an activist that some of my more Leftist colleagues were against the idea of marriage, because of the reasons you list, among others, but I wasn’t opposed: I just thought it wouldn’t happen for decades, possibly not in my lifetime. I supported marriage equality all along, I just didn’t see it as a winnable battle back then.

When things picked up speed this century, and some Leftists were still objecting, I became an advocate for marriage. My position was—as it has been for some 35 years—that it was wrong to exclude gay couples from marriage because LGBT people ought to be equal citizens and treated as such. I knew (and know) that many Leftist LGBT people were (and remain) opposed to marriage, to which my glib but sincere answer has been, “then don’t get married.” Their personal opposition to marriage wasn’t a legitimate reason why the rest of us should be denied, just as the fact that some rightwing religionists opposed it also wasn’t a legitimate reason to forbid it.

I also thought that the various separate and unequal marriage alternatives proposed for gay couples were never anything more than “marriage lite”. One of the few blog posts I permanently deleted was one in which I called New Zealand’s then still new Civil Unions “marriage lite”. The problem was that in this country, as in so many other places, civil unions, etc., were seen as a stepping-stone to marriage equality: Calling it “marriage lite” was counter-productive, while a steady campaign showing why that was the case was a strategy. Subtle, and a little too “don’t make no waves” for me, but probably true (and why I deleted that post).

The fact is, I’ve always been a pragmatist: Take what we can get now, even as we work toward full equality. So, civil unions, etc., were a means to an end, but—and this is what mattered to me—they gave at least some of the protection of marriage right then, even as we waited and worked for full equality. I’ve always felt it’s better to get a little civil rights and keep working, than it is to have no rights while we wait for the “someday” in which full equality arrives. This is also why Nigel and I got a civil union: We had no idea that marriage equality would arrive so quickly, and we wanted to protect our family. When marriage became possible, we got married, of course.

Thanks to Roger Green for the questions for today. I obviously grouped them because they all related to gay stuff, but the remaining questions don’t lend themselves to such easy grouping, so the rest of the posts in this series will probably be shorter—probably.

We’re nearing the end of this series, with some very interesting questions still to go, but there’s still time to ask questions! You can leave a comment on this post (anonymous comments are okay). You can also email me your question (and you can even tell me to keep your name secret, although, why not pick a nom du question?). And, for the first time, you can also ask questions on the AmeriNZ Facebook page.

2Political Podcast 109 is available

Episode 109 of the 2Political Podcast, recorded a few days ago, is now available from the podcast website. There, you can listen, download or subscribe to the podcast, or leave comments on the episode. The five most recent episodes are also listed with links in the right sidebar of this blog.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The ADA turns 25

Today (July 26 in the USA) is the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), one of the laws I lobbied Congress on when I was a grassroots LGBT activist. It was—and is—a good law, and one of the biggest domestic achievements of the presidential administration of the first George Bush.

The ADA expanded civil rights protections to people with mental and physical disabilities listed in regulations by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and it mandated reasonable accommodation of people with disabilities, while preventing discrimination against them. It mandated injunctive relief for successful lawsuits, just like with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This means that the situation is made right and the plaintiff may receive court costs and attorneys’ fees, but no financial damages are awarded. Some states, however, do award financial damages to plaintiffs, but that’s not part of the ADA itself

It was opposed by religious groups, including religious schools who argued that it placed an unusual burden on them to comply, and also by the national Association of Evangelicals who argued it abridged their “religious freedom”. Both were accustomed to being exempted from most civil rights laws, and didn’t like the change.

Conservative business lobbyists also opposed it. Of course.

When he signed the bill into law, President George H.W. Bush addressed critics of the ADA head on:
“I know there may have been concerns that the ADA may be too vague or too costly, or may lead endlessly to litigation. But I want to reassure you right now that my administration and the United States Congress have carefully crafted this Act. We've all been determined to ensure that it gives flexibility, particularly in terms of the timetable of implementation; and we've been committed to containing the costs that may be incurred.... Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.”
I was involved in the lobbying because the ADA outlawed discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS, and that was something that obviously impacted on the community our group represented. Both US Senators from Illinois at the time, Democrats Alan Dixon and Paul Simon, were co-sponsors of the ADA and voted against the inevitable anti-LGBT amendments. At that time, co-sponsorship of bills we wanted didn’t necessarily mean that members of Congress would vote against anti-LGBT amendments, so this was significant.

Several members of Illinois’ delegation in the US House of Representatives, including one Republican, co-sponsored the bill, including Dick Durbin, a Democrat who is now the senior US Senator from Illinois. I wrote letters in support of the ADA to the entire Illinois Congressional delegation on behalf of the group I was with.

When the bill became law, it created the ironic situation in which a gay man with HIV was protected from discrimination, but a gay man who was in an identical situation but did not have HIV could be discriminated against in most of the USA. That situation still exists, a quarter century later.

The ADA was a bill I always expected would pass. I spent more resources on other legislation that faced a harder road (like the Hate Crime Statistics Act) and in particular on preventing anti-LGBT amendments from being adopted always moved by Republicans in Congress, like the creepy bigot, William Dennemeyer, and the vicious and vile Jesse Helms.

But precisely because the ADA’s passage was expected, it was a bright spot in what was still an otherwise pretty dark time. The viciousness of the mostly Republican rightwing in the US Congress was breathtaking—all the more so since I was pretty sure that most of them were merely pandering as a way of winning votes and campaign contributions. Opportunistic politicians like that are still in Congress and state legislatures, but many (probably the majority) of the most bigoted among them are actually true believers in the promotion of anti-LGBT animus as a legitimate policy position.

On the other hand, we now have far more staunch defenders and allies than we did back then, even including a handful of Republicans. That was unimaginable in 1990.

Much has changed over the past 25 years, and we’ve definitely moved forward. The Second George Bush even signed a bill that actually strengthened the ADA. The ADA was a bright spot at the time, and continues to be one to this day. That’s definitely worth celebrating.

The photo above was taken on July 26, 1990, as President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law on the South Lawn of the White House. With him were (from left to right, sitting) Evan Kemp, Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and Justin Dart, Chairman of the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities; and (left to right, standing) Rev. Harold Wilke and Swift Parrino, Chairperson, National Council on Disability. (Image from the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. SOURCE).

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Arthur Answers, Part 4b: And furthermore

In yesterday’s “Arthur Answers” post, I answered several questions about candidates running for US President in the 2016 US elections. Commenting on that post, Roger Green had a further question. So, for the first time, this is an addendum “Arthur Answers” post.

Roger asked:

“If Hillary could NOT be the Democratic nominee, because of some legal problem, who would be? Who should be? Would it come out of the present collection? Or Clinton disciple Kirsten Gillibrand? Or would they exhume Al Gore from the crypt?”

The tl;dr version of what I said yesterday is that while it was possible that Bernie Sanders could defeat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, it was unlikely to happen. I mention that first because Hillary dropping out is one of the few ways Bernie might win the nomination, but I don’t think that's likely, either.

I think that what would be most likely to happen would be that either Martin O’Malley would emerge as the alternative for mainstream Democrats, or, more likely, someone else would enter the race. I don’t think that Senator Gillbrand would be that person (she’s too closely identified with Clinton), but Senator Elizabeth Warren could be.

Warren is in a unique position: She’s a definite Liberal, maybe not as far Left as Sanders, but further Left than Clinton. She doesn’t have the same “insider” association as either Clinton or Sanders (who’s a career politician, after all). She’s crusaded, like Sanders, against the Wall Street “Banksters”. And, obviously, she’s a woman, like Clinton. In some ways, Elizabeth Warren is combination of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but without their negatives. She even used to vote Republican.

There were a lot of Left-leaning Democrats hoping that Warren would run, and many of those same people now back Sanders. The “conventional wisdom” was that Warren didn’t run because Clinton was, and she had no interest in diminishing the chance for a woman to be the Democratic nominee. Maybe so, or maybe she just wasn’t interested, full stop. Does it matter? She didn’t run.

So, if Hillary Clinton was forced out of the race for whatever reason, I think the most likely replacement would be a candidacy by Elizabeth Warren, or else the party establishment might rally around Martin O’Malley.

However, I don’t think it matters who could be the replacement nominee: For this scenario to matter, Clinton would have been forced out of the race, and that would almost certainly mean that the Republican nominee would be elected, no matter who the replacement Democratic nominee was.

But, instead of unlikely legal issues, let’s suppose that it was simply a matter of Hillary losing the early contests. This is precisely the possible scenario that Stuart Stevens, former chief strategist for Mitt Romney, talked about in a recent (somewhat grumpy) piece for The Daily Beast. Stevens was giving “advice” to Clinton on how not to lose, but electoral defeat is the only likely reason why Democrats would be looking for a new person to rally around.

In that case, Warren would be the most likely to win the nomination, but if she chose not to enter the race, Sanders would be the most likely replacement. If Warren didn’t enter the race, O’Malley would probably pick up the support of centrist Democrats, but I’m not sure he could win the nomination: Sanders would have momentum on his side.

At the moment, none of the actual or possible replacement candidates have the name recognition of Hillary Clinton, so any late-entry candidate would have to somehow establish national awareness, and fast. It’s possible, but it wouldn’t be easy. Then, they’d have to take on the Republican nominee who by the time of the nomination will have been in the news for months. A big ask no matter the reason for the replacement.

So, depending on the circumstances, if Hillary Clinton was not the nominee, I’d expect the replacement to be either Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, or Martin O’Malley. Circumstances would determine who would try to be the replacement and, once chosen, how successful he or she would be.

But, at the moment, I’ve seen nothing so far that makes me think that anyone other than Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee.

There’s still time to ask questions! Like Roger did last time, you can leave a comment on this post (anonymous comments are okay). You can also email me your question (and you can even tell me to keep your name secret, although, why not pick a nom du question?). And, for the first time, you can also ask questions on the AmeriNZ Facebook page.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Arthur Answers, Part 4: Candidate questions

I got several questions about candidates running for US President in the 2016 US elections, so I thought I’d group them together. The questions were asked earlier this month, and my answers are based on the current situation.

First up, Roger asked a question on Facebook that was endorsed by Andy:

“The Donald's comments about Mexicans, along with being rejected by Comcast/NBCUnivision and Macy's, for two, has helped him in the polls. Are you SURE he can't win the GOP nomination?”

The short answer is yes, no, and maybe. Next? Seriously, Trump’s biggest enemy is himself, not because of what he says, or even how he says it, but because he gets bored. I’m not convinced he’ll go the distance because of that, or that he won’t decide to launch an independent bid.

But that’s about why Trump might choose to not get the Republican nomination. What’s certain is that the Republican establishment doesn’t want him as their party’s candidate, and neither do the oligarchs and plutocrats who bankroll the USA’s rightwing politics (they want Scott “Koch” Walker). So, the power and money for the party are against Trump, which is why he may yet be prevented from getting the nomination.

On the other hand, Trump in typical of the Republican Party’s base—the people who are certain to vote in primaries or turn up to caucuses. They’re xenophobic, often racist, and dead set against immigration reform (the teabaggers threatened to mount a primary challenge to their former darling, Marco Rubio, because of his limited support for immigration reform, but Rubio chose not to run for re-election to the US Senate). So, while Trump sounds batshit crazy to everyday Americans, what he says is music to the ears of the Republican base. That suggests he could win the nomination, despite the opposition of the bigwigs and mega-rich.

Trump’s biggest challenge could be that even Republicans are turning on their party. A new study by Pew Research found: “Positive views of the GOP among Republicans have declined 18 percentage points since January, from 86% to 68%.” This spells trouble for the more extreme Republicans if that decline is related to, as the same survey found, the fact that Americans in general see the Republican Party as more extreme and least likely to govern in “a more honest ethical way”.

So: Yes, I’m sure he won’t get the nomination because the party’s establishment and money men don’t want him, and because the party is losing the passionate support of it’s own partisans. No, I’m not sure he won’t because he is in lock-step with the Republicans most likely to participate in the selection process. Maybe, because that base may not be enough to overcome the other obstacles Trump faces.

Andy asked:

“In your opinion, Arthur, is Hillary Rodham Clinton the best qualified candidate for POTUS in all of the United States of America, or is there something about the selection process that precludes better qualified candidates from running for office?”

Hillary Clinton is as qualified as any/every candidate for US President because the qualifications are VERY specific. Article II, Section 1 of the US Constitution states:
“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”
That’s it—the only qualifications for US President.

What Andy’s actually getting at are qualities, the whole list of things that we personally think are important in a US president. This may include experience, positions on issues, temperament, age, gender, or any number of other things. One’s perception of what qualities are important is entirely subjective, based on the things that matter to us personally, things like ideology, partisanship, issues one is passionate about, prejudices—any number of possibilities.

So, obviously Hillary Clinton is qualified to be president—and so are all the other candidates. However, I also think she has the right qualities to be president, too, and not all the other candidates do.

The question then becomes, does Hillary have the best qualities of anyone in the USA who might run for president? That’s something I can’t possibly know. However, I’m sure that, theoretically, there are probably Americans whose qualities would make them better presidents, but those theoretical candidates aren’t running (see also my answer about Bernie Sanders below).

There is one thing that DOES preclude candidates with the best-possible qualities for president from being viable candidates: Money—specifically, corporate money and money from the oligarchs plutocrats. Ordinary people who would make brilliant presidents don’t have even the remotest chance because they can’t possibly raise enough money to be competitive.

Roger Green asks:

“And in the same vein, can Bernie Sanders win the Democratic nomination? He's getting big crowds, and frankly, is more in line with the liberal wing of the party than HRC.”

Yes, Sanders CAN win the nomination—he’s just not very likely to do so. He’s been drawing record crowds, and Bernie’s favourability is now polling ahead of Hillary Clinton is the latest Gallup Poll. Clinton’s also viewed more negatively than positively in that poll, which sounds good for Bernie. Well, not quite.

52% of the Americans surveyed have never even heard of Sanders. Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters—the people who will actually decide who wins the nomination—Hillary is viewed favourably by 74% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, while 39% view Bernie favourably. Clinton is viewed more favourably than Sanders by every single demographic, including Liberal Democrats, 81% of whom view her favourably, while only 53% of Liberal Democrats view him favourably.

This is only one poll, of course, though it’s also the most recent, so this may change. At the moment, this preference that Democrats have for Clinton over Sanders tends to reinforce what I’ve said several times, that Sanders’ main support is coming from Leftists who don’t usually participate in the Democratic Party’s selection process, and who often specifically reject the Democratic nominee because they’re not Left enough. Put another way, Hillary Clinton’s support is coming from within the party and Sanders support is coming from outside the party.

If Sanders keeps drawing large crowds and keeps raising money, then he could be a factor in the race. But even if all that happens, he faces an enormous uphill challenge unless he can get his supporters to participate in the Democratic Party’s selection process. At the moment, it would take an enormous influx of Leftist, but non-Democratic voters to overcome Hillary’s support among Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters.

In the interest of transparency, I should point out that while I’m still neutral in the race for the Democratic nomination, on most issues I’m more aligned with Bernie Sanders than I am with Hillary Clinton. However, I want the next US President to be a Democrat, so I’ll support the party’s nominee—whoever that is.

So, to sum up, it’s possible that Sanders could win the nomination, but at the moment, it doesn’t seem very likely.

Thanks to Roger and Andy for the questions!

There’s still time to ask questions! Here’s how: First, you can leave a comment on this post (anonymous comments are okay). You can also email me your question (and you can even tell me to keep your name secret, although, why not pick a nom du question?). And, for the first time, you can also ask questions on the AmeriNZ Facebook page.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Green water, too

The drinking water shared by our furbabies is now green, but it’s supposed to be that way. They don’t mind, and it’s supposed to be good for them. But it does look weird.

The green stuff is supposed to help prevent the bacteria that leads to plaque from sticking to their teeth. This is because dogs and cats don’t rinse and spit like people do, and it’s part of what the vet has recommended to help keep their teeth healthy (other parts include brushing the dogs’ teeth, if they allow it, and giving them food that helps clean their teeth).

The furbabies don’t seem to have noticed. Maybe it’s just us that thinks green water is weird.

Actually, that’s a small problem: We have very helpful friends and family who, seeing the green water, might change the water for us. We’ll need to make sure we tell the friends and family who visit the house that the water is supposed to be green.

Bella is pictured above, earlier this evening, right after I refilled the furbabies' shared water bowl. In reality, that bowl is much larger than her head; my phone just happened to be close to her head when I shot the photo.

At least Bella gets a photo—I still don’t post enough photos of her. I think this will be the only photo of green water, though.

Labour’s TPPA bottom line

I oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), currently being negotiated in secret, because of what it will do to the countries that sign it. Today the New Zealand Labour Party released what they call their “Bottom Lines”. It’s a really good start.

The TPPA started out as a free trade agreement among several Pacific nations, including New Zealand, but everything took a rather dark turn when the United States joined the negotiations. Everything about those negotiations is meant to be top secret, and anyone revealing what’s in it can be sent to jail. That’s clearly intended to frustrate democracy and democratic oversight, and to put a chill on people’s democratic rights to debate important political issues.

However, big corporations are allowed to see the negotiating text of the TPPA, even if ordinary people are forbidden to do so. That should ring major alarms for anyone who cherishes democracy.

“The lack of transparency around the Government’s negotiations with large foreign interests means Kiwis are in the dark about which of their sovereign rights are being gambled away by this Government in the hope of better trade conditions,” according to Labour Party Leader, Andrew Little. He’s exactly right.

The problem with the anti-democratic secrecy is that national legislatures will only get see the final agreement once the negotiations are concluded, and by then it will be too late. The NZ National Party, currently leading the government, will order its vassals to vote for it: The one-man parties of Peter Dunne (United Future “Party”) and David Seymour (ACT “Party”), as well as their allied party, the Maori Party.

So, the only way to make clear what’s unacceptable NOW is to release bottom lines, as Labour has done. They are:
  • Pharmac must be protected
  • Corporations cannot successfully sue the Government for regulating in the public interest
  • New Zealand maintains the right to restrict sales of farm land and housing to non-resident foreigner buyers
  • The Treaty of Waitangi must be upheld
  • Meaningful gains are made for our farmers in tariff reductions and market access
Under the parts that have been leaked, by Wikileaks or others, we know that none of these would have been met during the early stages of negotiation, but we cannot know if they’re still included or not—but they probably are, because that would benefit big US corporations.

The NZ Labour Party is not reflexively against free trade agreements. In fact, one of the last things it did when it was the previous government was to negotiate a free trade deal with China (which was not even remotely as contentious as this one). The argument with TPPA boils down to who will be telling New Zealand what to do? Will it be the people of New Zealand or foreign corporations ordering us to do what they demand?

Andrew Little is exactly right: “The bottom line for Labour is that New Zealand’s sovereign rights must be protected. Anything else is unacceptable.”

I agree. And Labour’s position makes it clear the high bar the TPPA would have to clear in order to win support, something I’d wager it cannot do. This also provides a good tool to organise opposition to the agreement while we still can.

Related: For now, the New Zealand group fighting the TPPA is It’s Our Future, which has information and resources for stopping the TPPA, though the website is awful and seldom updated.

The graphic above was shared on Facebook by the New Zealand Labour Party.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Jurassic Park: High Heels Edition

A lot of folks have been complaining about how Jurassic World character Claire (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) spent a lot of time running in high heels to get away from dinosaurs. A parody was inevitable, and this is it.

The video was made by YouTubers XVP Comedy, which says of it in the description: “You loved the endless running in high heels in Jurassic World... Now enjoy them in the entire Jurassic series!”

It IS pretty funny: “Footwear 65 million years in the making,” and “these styles aren’t going extinct.”

The last big clown

The 16th and last of the so-called “major” candidates has clambered aboard the overcrowded Republican Clown Bus. Despite his spin, this one’s really not much different from the other Republican clowns.

John Richard Kasich today announced that he, too, is a candidate for the Republican nomination for US President, raising the legitimate question, who ISN’T running? Kasich is 63, an age that puts him in the middle bunch of the Republican clowns candidates. On Inauguration Day, he’ll be 64 years, 253 days old. The oldest US President, Ronald Reagan, hallowed be his name, was 69 years, 349 days when he was sworn in.

Kasich is often called a “moderate”, but that’s only because he sometimes differs from his fellow Republican politicians. The reality is that Kasich is no moderate, and is actually quite conservative on most issues.

On LGBT issues, for example, like all the other Republican clowns candidates, he opposes marriage equality. He was also a big fan of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” which made open service by gay military personnel illegal. When I was a grassroots gay activist in the late 1980s and early 1990s, while Kasich was a US Representative from Ohio, I knew him as being a definite political adversary.

On the other hand, he’s more recently said he’d attend a same-gender wedding (something many of his rivals claimed they’d never do), and that he’d actually been invited to one he was planning on attending. He’s also couched his support for (some) welfare in Christian terms, while his fellow Republican politicians were touting their rightwing religious views AND cutting welfare support for poor people. His position is consistent with his claimed religious beliefs, which cannot be said about those fellow Republican politicians. See? I can say something positive about one of the Republican clowns candidates!

However, the seeming necessity for Republican politicians to promote their religious views at every opportunity—and that includes Kasich—ought to concern all Americans, of whatever religious bent. Article VI of the US Constitution is very clear: “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Yet to win the Republican nomination, politicians have to fall all over themselves to “prove” that they’re not just conservative, but VERY conservative Christians. Some of them are more convincing at that than others are, and Kasich has been using religious rhetoric for a very long time, so it seems he’s probably sincere, like Scott “Koch” Walker. But this de facto religious test for the Republican nomination troubles not just secularists, but also everyone who believes in that impregnable wall of separation between church and state, many of whom are deeply religious, and some of whom are conservative.

John Kasich is not the worst of the Republican clowns candidates, not by a long shot. But that doesn’t mean he’s a good candidate, either—none of them are. The longest of the Republican long shots, George Pataki, is the least odious, but in a truly awful field of candidates who offer nothing to true moderates, that’s really not saying anything positive about him or Kasich, the runner-up for least odious.

As of today’s poll averages, Kasich won’t make the cut for inclusion in the Fox “News” public performance next month (the graphic I posted last week has the current poll averages displayed). In fact, today, Rick Santorum is rating higher than him—and also out of the “debate”. Now that’s he’s an official candidate, Kasich will probably rise in the polls (most new candidates do). If he manages to rise high enough to make it onto the Fox “News” stage, it will likely be at the expense of Rick Perry, or possibly Chris Christie. But since both are better known than Kasich, it’s also possible he may just be the highest-polling of the Republican clowns candidates who don’t get to take part in the Fox “News” event.

Unfortunately, when the first of the candidates start dropping out, and assuming that the egomaniacal clown with the weird hair continues to do well in the polls, we could see some more Republican clowns candidates enter the bus to try and save their party. It’s still a long campaign yet to go.

Here’s the Human Rights Campaign video on Kasich:

As of today, there’s still 1 year, 3 months, and 18 days until the US presidential election.

Further Reading:
“Newest GOP Presidential Candidate Isn’t Afraid To Say He Supports Common Core” from ThinkProgress
“John Kasich Halted A Program That Saved Consumers $230 Million” from ThinkProgress
“Who Is This John Kasich Guy Running For President And Where Does He Stand On LGBT Rights?” from The New Civil Rights Movement
“Transcript: Read Full Text of Gov. John Kasich’s Campaign Launch” from TIME Magazine
“That time John Kasich tried to get his local Blockbuster to pull Fargo from its shelves” from Vox

The graphic up top is from a meme posted to the Facebook Page of ThinkProgress. The points it raises are in their post, “The Truth About John Kasich”, which is also linked to earlier in this post.

2Political Podcast 108 is available

Episode 108 of the 2Political Podcast, recorded a few weeks ago, right after the US Supreme Court marriage equality ruling (among others), is now available from the podcast website. There, you can listen, download or subscribe to the podcast, or leave comments on the episode. The five most recent episodes are also listed with links in the right sidebar of this blog.