We are Trump

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January 16, 2017 – by Gregory Franklyn

You will very rarely hear me use the term “America” when referring to The United States of America. There’s a reason for that. In reality, (not the type of reality that President Elect Donald Trump comes to us from, but the quantifiable reality that exists before it’s stars get fed a bunch of alcohol and are pitted against one another, and before the resulting entertainment gets turned over video editors) in reality, the US is not America, it’s a PART of the American continent . America refers to a continent located in the western hemisphere which includes South America, Mexico, The US and Canada.

But isn’t it just like us to claim the whole thing and refer to ourselves as if we’re the only country represented by the term? In sort of a nationalistic egocentric braggadocio? And, isn’t that just the kind of thing that Donald Trump would try to sell you? I mean, right now, Trump is taking credit for companies that are NOT moving certain parts of their manufacturing operations to foreign countries, as if he had something to do with it; as if they were actually going to move the operations to begin with.

“Make America Great Again”, he says. Kick all the Mexicans out of America! Um, Mexico is located on America! How are we supposed to transport an entire country to another continent?

But it goes far beyond just claiming that we are “America”. How about our claim of being #1. I guess we COULD say that if the measure of the #1 country in the world is by military size and weight alone. But what about education, we’re not #1. Health care? We’re #37! Infant Mortality, Nope! Happiness? Nope. Wages? #13. Economy? China and probably a few others. I admit that there WAS a time when we were #1, but aside from Military Strength, that’s no longer true.

I’m not trying to denigrate my own country, but we DO have some things to work out, and they are pretty deeply rooted in our cultural inability to accept reality. Just like Donald Trump. Here’s an example of what I mean. “American Cheese”. It’s a little thing that points to a much larger issue, but American Cheese is not cheese and it’s not American. It’s a product developed in The US and it’s,, it’s,,, OK, I don’t know WHAT it is, but it’s NOT cheese. You will notice that on your little pack of American “Cheese” slices, you will not find the word “Cheese”.

There’s a reason for that. It ISN’T cheese. It does not contain enough dairy products to legally be referred to as cheese. There are dairy derivatives in it, but the term used on the package is something like “Processed Cheese Food Product” or something. You will, however, find a glass of milk, and a round of cheese with a wedge cut out of it to give the IMPRESSION that what you’re buying is a dairy product. It’s even displayed next to actual cheese in your grocery store. It’s deceptive, and it’s just like something Donald Trump would try to sell you. While I’m thinking about it, Trump is kind of cheesy and kind of has the color and consistency of Kraft Singles,,, OMG, I’ve just made an argument for Donald Trump being “Processed Cheese Food Product”!

How about “The Patriot Act” I wrote about that in 2011. Here’s what I said:

“‘The Patriot Act’ is another good example of what I mean. This particular package of laws circumvents huge swaths of the civil rights granted to citizens of the US by The US Constitution. It is to say that denying and/or violating Constitutional rights is, in some way,  “Patriotic”. Of course that’s absurd, but it IS very American to refer to it like that. That’s how we roll! I think we should be legally compelled to stop referring to the act as “The Patriot Act” because it does not contain at least 36% acts of patriotism.” – Gregory Franklyn

We call ourselves “The Land of the Free” while we incarcerate more of our citizens than any other country in the world. We maintain a prison at Guantanamo Bay Cuba where we have incarcerated over 100 people for over a decade without so much as charging them with a crime, let alone due process of law. We say our police forces “Serve and Protect” while stopping citizens from exercising their right to protest and assemble, and brutalizing, and sometimes even killing, unarmed citizens for such heinous crimes as driving, walking or standing while black, and showing up to peaceful protests dressed and equipped for war. In all fairness, I guess, TECHNICALLY, it’s not an out-n-out LIE. They didn’t exactly specify WHOM they are sworn to serve and protect.

My point this morning is that we, the citizens of The United States of America are living in a state of delusion about ourselves, just like Donald Trump is. It is often said that “We have the government we deserve” and due to the similarities between what we say we are, who we’ve elected and HOW we’ve elected him, when you think about it, he’s perfect for the job. We have become, after all, Donald Trump, and we are in denial about it. Just like him! Yes, we have some issues to work. Not the least of which is that denial is not a river in Egypt at all. It’s the state of our current affairs.

Much Love,

Gregory

Post Truth

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Post Truth

12/18/16 – By Gregory Franklyn

On November 9th we, here in the US, woke up to a new world whether we realized it or not. This new world is dramatically different than the world we lived in just two days before. In this new world, many things we have known to be true, are no longer so. Truth, for example. Truth is not that same thing it was last week. This week it is being described as “Post Truth” meaning, I guess, “Beyond Truth” or “After Truth”, and I admit some confusion about it. However, Donald Trump is a practitioner of “Post Truth” according to political analysts and pundits on TV.

Here’s what I know. Donald Trump says things that do NOT dovetail with reality as we know it, on a 3 to 1 basis. He has actually been clocked by, among others, Politifact.com. Whose job it is to fact-check what politicians and prominent people say. He clocks in at around 3 things that are NOT true to every 1 thing he says that IS. So, Roughly 75% of what Donald Trump says is based in some other reality.

This reminds me of the Bush/Cheney Regime. One of the principles guiding that Regime was that you can create your own reality by occurring in the world as if your viewpoint was accepted fact, regardless of whether it matches anyone else’s reality or not. In a sense, you can materialize your own reality into manifestation by force of will, or your use of language.

But this Conservative Republican ideal is nothing new. It goes back as far as Richard Nixon, that I know of. You’ll remember that Nixon resigned from the Presidency in shame for having broken a substantial handful of laws, including illegal wiretapping, bribery and burglary. As time passed, he was approached by British Journalist David Frost to do a series of interviews and he agreed to do it. President Nixon, in one of those interviews, absolutely blew the world’s mind when he admitted that he believed that, “If the President does it, it’s NOT illegal!” This was Nixon’s “Post Truth” in that he was willing into existence the concept that the Presidency IS the Law, rather than subject to it. You’ll be seeing more of this as the Trump Administration slowly materializes.

There are a couple of things that are going on here. 1st is the war going on between sophistication and Down Home Folksiness. Intelligence is seen as threatening/untrustworthy to people who feel like they don’t have it. The election pointed this out pretty clearly in 2016. When looking at voting precincts, those in urban areas went for Hillary and precincts in rural areas went for Trump. It has been like that in the last several elections. People in urban areas have more access to the types of things that would enhance intelligence and sophistication like higher education institutions, arts galleries, music venues, Libraries, museums, live theater, opera, orchestras and ballet. Some rural areas also have some of these amenities, but not all of them and not to the extent found in more urban settings.

Donald Trump is in the anti-intelligence demographic. He has publicly professed his love for the Uneducated. Here’s a quote from a speech in Nevada during the election:

“We won the evangelicals,” Trump said. “We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.”

That was a dog whistle to people who disdain education, who mistrust it. People who believe that sophistication is just people thinking they’re better than everyone else. That’s a complaint I get a lot in my life because I speak English as if I had paid attention in class. I was under the impression that I was SUPPOSED to pay attention in class, and now I guess I’m on an ego trip because I did? I know there are a lot of people in the US who are not white who will recognize that statement and it’s a tragedy.

Rather than support people who are educated, many want to bring them down to a less educated level for a variety of reasons. Some of it is ego. Isaac Asimov once said:

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’

It isn’t, of course, but that should not be the measure of the value of a person. It is, however, a measure of a person’s worth when it is used as a weapon, rather than an inspiration. This very common idea is part of the cornucopia of reasons we are facing 4-8 years of Donald Trump. He is seem as a “Regular Guy” despite being a member of a special class of Americans who exist in a world to which precious few ever get admitted. His “Regular Guy” image is based on his use of language and it is an illusion.

This is all part of a conglomerated monolith of “Post Truth”. One of the most powerful individuals pushing “Post Truth” is a Conservative Operative named Frank Luntz. Luntz is a linguist that conults for the Republican Party. He helps them change the language used in politics to create a new reality based on a vision of the United States favored by republicans.

For example, when you hear ANY Republican talk about business, they always use the same word preceding it, and I mean ALWAYS! They use “Small Business” as if it were one word. That creates the illusion that they are talking about Bob & Alice’s Tavern, or the Maple Leaf Cafe. Those are small businesses. They are actually talking about “Big Business”, the multinational corporations that run the world right now. And, their use of it is SO consistent that even MSNBC and CNN routinely use it now.

Another good example is what is ecologically happening to the planet right now, and this is an especially slick one. The Scientific Community refers to is as Global Warming. Republicans only use that term when they are denying it’s existence. “Just look outside we are experiencing the coldest winter temperatures ever recorded this year. Where is this “Global Warming” you speak of?” But when they are talking about it as something that DOES exist you will hear them use the term “Climate Change”, which sounds a lot less like what is actually happening than the more accurate term used by scientists. This is all “Post Truth” and we, in the US, are DEEP in it. If you hear enough people say it enough times, you can make people believe it’s true, even though it is clearly NOT. Most of these language changes can be traced back to Frank Luntz.

Aaron Sorkin, in his TV series “The NewsRoom” had a couple of his characters arguing about what’s true in TV journalism. Will McAvoy, the anchor of the News Program the show is about, said:

“People get to choose their own facts, now!”

That’s the territory of “Post Truth” where we are, now.

Conservatives aren’t the only ones who do it though. Liberals and progressives no longer use the term, “Illegal Aliens” to describe people who enter the country illegally. The new term is “Undocumented Workers”. See what just happened. The question of legality, just vanished. Entry into the US without proper documentation is no longer a matter of what is LEGAL. Poof, It’s gone. Now we’re having a different discussion. The end result of these changes in our use of language is that we are creating New lies to cover up the truth as we had previously come to know it.

This is has all been growing slowly into our use of language for a long time. Since about the time of the Nixon Administration where we began to let politicians change the language we use to describe issues we face, based on their own political world view. In its earlier incarnation, we called it “California Speak”. Now, we are living in a New Reality where we have moved beyond truth into something else. WHAT that “Something Else” will be, will eventually be decided by whomever wins the fight to inject into our common use of language, the terms that we use to describe it. Like “Post Truth” for example.

I leave you with this little sound byte most commonly attributed to President Abraham Lincoln:

“You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

Much Love,

Gregory

World AIDS Day

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worldaidsday-december

December 1st was “World AIDS Day” and as a commentator who happens to be gay, I felt tremendous pressure to write something about HIV to mark the occasion. I decided not to! But if I had written something about HIV I would have said something about my own experiences related to the disease.

I would have talked about how I was introduced to it back in 1981 through reading in “The Advocate” about a medical phenomenon that, at the time, was known as GRID or Gay Related Immune Deficiency. It was a frightening prospect that was being studied by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and was believed to have originated with a German Flight Attendant with a penchant for having a lot of sex with a lot of men. Soon the CDC had discovered that the disease had already stricken a few villages in Africa and the race to understand GRID was on.

But there was a problem with the name of the phenomenon. In Africa the syndrome affected heterosexuals so GRID was no longer an appropriate moniker. There were investigations that blamed monkeys in the wilds of the African Continent for the spread of the dreaded condition, but they were unable to come up with a method of how the disease jumped species from Monkeys to Man. The new designation for HIV evolved into Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS. Medical professionals wanted to distance the syndrome from being a “Gay” disease because they feared what they believed would happen if people thought that only gay men could get it. Sure enough, their fears materialized right before their eyes.

Unfortunately, the original name of the disease attached a stigma to the condition that remains today. The damage, not only to gay rights, but also to efforts to eradicate the disease, had already been done. Heterosexuals in Europe and the US believed that GRID was a “GAY” disease and therefore they were immunized by the mere fact that they were not Gay. And. Of course, the militant religious right wing morality thugs had a very frightening axe to swing at Gay & Lesbian people who were embroiled in a fight for equal rights.

I would have talked about the evolution of the syndrome from GRID to AIDS and eventually to HIV and how the awakening of our government took so long to accomplish. I would have mentioned that Ronald Reagan never so much as uttered the word AIDS until over a million people, worldwide, had already died from it. Up until that moment, no federal funds were allocated to research, or even treat, the disease other than the normal budget the CDC was already working with.

I would have talked about what happened here in Oregon as AIDS turned 10 years old. The Civil Rights battle came to a head with a statewide ballot measure called “Measure 9” in which a group of those religious morality thugs I mentioned tried to get the voters to approve an amendment to the state’s constitution that would lump Gay & Lesbian people with child molesters, rapists and sociopathic criminals. Their argument centered upon their insistence that AIDS was God’s wrath against those sexually deviant Homosexuals who were dedicated to recruiting your children into a tragic life of self-destruction. The ballot measure failed by a whisper of a margin in the 1992 election, but I recall that NO ONE considered it a victory. It was a street level demonstration of the worst elements of humanity and we all knew it. Even those religious morality thugs, that had considered it a life and death issue during the election, were ashamed that night!

I would have talked about 1993 when I sat in my little studio apartment in Portland Oregon feeling somewhat shell-shocked over the loss of no less than 5 personal friends who had died from AIDS so far that year, and it was only March! I would have showed you a series of poems I wrote to try and make sense of what was happening to me, and to my community, because I had to do SOMETHING with the overwhelming feeling of helplessness against this monster we still didn’t fully understand.

Of Course, I would have also talked about “Act-Up”. Act-Up was a radical group of men and women who were justifiably outraged at the lack of support and attention to the devastation the disease was causing in the lives of their friends and families and took their anger to the streets with civil disobedience actions and demonstrations. I would have talked about how Gay Pride Events all over the country were mobilizing hundreds of thousands of Gay & Lesbian people into the streets to make a stand for their personhood and their citizenship amidst a virtual ocean of resistance from mainstream America.

I likely would have ended up talking about how that research money that eventually, though far too late, grew from a trickle to a somewhat reasonable flow, made some headway in treatments for those who were infected. Today, unlike for most of my life, HIV is no longer a death sentence! There are effective treatments that are managing the disease, often for decades. But, a cure is still forthcoming. I would have said that I’m grateful for the progress, although still gun-shy from long hard winter that finally brought it to us. But I decided not to write about HIV because it always brings up such sadness in me that it didn’t have to play out like that! We could have done much better!

Much Love,

Gregory

Moral Character

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October 2011 – By Gregory Franklyn

The first Presidential Race I can remember was JFK v Richard Nixon. I was no more than knee-high to a grasshopper at the time and my primary motivation for campaigning for JFK was that he was much better looking than Nixon. Looking back, I was absolutely right about my choice albeit for the wrong reasons. I’ve carefully observed every Presidential Election since.

But, this primary season was the thrill ride of a political lifetime. Almost every Tuesday I was glued to the TV, channel flipping between MSNBC and CNN, and my fingernails are shorter than they have EVER been. What is striking to me as I look back at the whole process is how Democrats are, philosophically, more unified than I’ve ever known us to be.

One by one our candidates pushed for their particular flavor of universal health care, an end to the war in Iraq, an economic policy that could rescue American families from slavery 2.0, filing “No Child Left Behind” where it belonged in the first place, addressing Global Warming in a meaningful way and repairing what’s left of the tattered image of the US on the world stage.

You have to admit, being that unified in purpose is pretty rare for the Democratic Party. So my big question as the dust settles on the first phase of this election is, Why are we so divided? I’d like to have a go at that question and my answer is simple. Hillary Clinton.

The choices we had as Democrats this primary season wasn’t about policy at all. Barrack and Hillary are on the same page on almost EVERYTHING! This primary was about personality and character and the differences there are absolutely polar. Our choice was between hope and faith on one hand and pragmatism on the other! The fact that the contest came down to the very last voter is somewhat disturbing to me.

I blame Hillary for division in the party because she is a lightening rod for drawing fire. I don’t see it as having anything to do with her gender either. This woman is smart! Way smarter than me. By comparison, her cocktail napkin is a LITTLE smarter than me, but she’s a “take-no-prisoners” kind of leader.

I believe we don’t have universal health care right now because Hillary is a “Fighter” and fighters either win or lose, that’s what a fight is! But fighting doesn’t solve problems. I would hope that a man or woman as smart as Hillary would be able to see that. Barrack was able to see that a LONG time ago and he has built a movement that recognizes that dismissing opposition out of hand is what brought us here.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton has changed America for the better. She’s right about the fact that women have waited too long for a real chance at the White House. So have African Americans! I sincerely hope that this uniquely American experience has settled the question of race and gender in leadership once and for all.

I believe that we made the right choice out of the options we were given because what the US needs most at this point in history is faith in our character as a nation. We need that even more than universal health care, more than education reform, more than,,,go down the list. All of that will naturally follow once we heal our minds, hearts and souls from the sickness of greed that has drawn us off course.

We once had pride in our moral judgment because our judgment was deeply rooted in strong moral values. We have lost that over the last four decades of leadership because our leadership has abandoned the moral compass that brought this unlikely experiment in Democracy from a fledgling handful of disgruntled English countrymen, to the greatest power on the planet in a little over 200 years.

Barrack and Michele Obama have shown us the character needed to lead this nation back to itself. They are leading us to a place where we respect that we are not perfect, we are not always right, and we are a much better people than we appear to ourselves AND the rest of the world. We are risk-taking pioneers who dream of a better world and set out to create it with our courage and our strength. We are a morally strong and resilient people who have, only momentarily, lost our way and this IS our moment in history to break out that map and get back on course. There are those who will say that we have gone to far to turn back now. To them, Barrack, Michele, Hillary and I say “Yes, We Can!”

Much Love,

Gregory

Language Matters

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July 7, 2015 – by Gregory Franklyn

Republican pollster Frank Luntz entertains a largely conservative Mississippi business crowd in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008, with politically incorrect jokes about John McCain's age and speaking style. However, he told the largely McCain-friendly audience that he does not see at this point any way GOP presidential candidate could win, noting McCain has failed to connect with young voters and that, "Stevie Wonder reads a teleprompter better than John McCain." (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Republican pollster Frank Luntz

In 2010 the Republican Party was able to do a pretty convincing sweep of local governments across the country, in addition to taking over the House of Representatives. They were able to do that through a maze of deceptive changes to the language we use in debating issues facing us in our civic lives. A perfect example of what I mean is the new term the Republican Party has been able to interject into our daily language. When you say words like, “Rich People”, “The Elite”, “The 1%” or “The Wealthy” you are using words that accurately describe to whom you are referring. Because our economy is in the midst of a serious problem, accurate words are carrying a negative connotation.

So, if you, like the Republican Party, have an agenda that is unpopular, you have to figure out new words to use to soften or distract attention from that unpopularity. In our national discourse, we’ve taken the bait!

You will never hear a Republican say the words Rich or Wealthy. They will universally use “Job Creators” in its place. Job Creators refers to Rich People! It’s not an accurate descriptor either. Rich People do not create jobs. Consumers do. Rich people only hire people when they absolutely HAVE to, and then, only at the lowest rate possible. Wages and benefits, for most companies big or small, are their biggest expense. The interests of corporations is to do the most possible with the fewest amount of people that have to be paid wages and benefits. Corporations resist hiring more people whenever possible. They, rather, train what employees they already have, to work harder and smarter so that they don’t have to pay additional people. The only time a company or corporation hires new employees is when the demand for their products or services outpaces their ability to provide them. Thus, the only way to create jobs is to create enough demand so as to require companies to hire more people. No consumers = No Jobs!

A weak middle class is an economic downward spiral. If there isn’t enough money flowing through the economy, demand is reduced and companies lay-off employees. Which, in turn reduces even further the amount of money that is flowing through the economy, which leads to further cutbacks and so on. Add to that, the money flowing through Wall Street that doesn’t produce a product or service. Like Derivatives, for example. That money is being horded, so it’s not flowing through the economy. I don’t think that Republicans and Rich People understand how large economies work.

When big corporations pay CEOs and Industry leaders huge fortunes whether they succeed or fail, that money has to come from consumers. The more money spent on CEOs, the less is available to hire workers. The less money workers have, the less they can spend. The less workers can spend, the less demand there is for the products and services provided.

Another thing Republicans do to manipulate your thoughts with language is to distract your attention from the people who are not paying their fair share of taxes (Big Businesses) and focus your attention on the guy who owns the hardware store or bar/restaurant over there on the corner. In my neighborhood, it’s Alice, who owns Bob and Alice’s about a half a block down the street from me. Bob is gone now and Alice, who is the most beautiful little sweetheart of a woman you’d ever want to meet, is selling the bar so she can retire. When it comes to taxes on business, Republicans will ALWAYS, without exception, use language to try and get you to think of your neighborhood’s “Bob and Alice’s” instead of the people you are actually talking about. You will never, ever, hear a Republican talk about business taxes without using the term “Small Business” as if the two words are actually one. Conversley, you will never hear them utter the word combination “Big Business”, which is what they are actually referring to. The idea behind that is to manipulate you into thinking about the Alice and not the Exxon-Mobiles, Bain Capitals, Halibutrons and Koch Industries whenever the subject of “Business” comes up.

The truth is that the small businesses Republicans want you to think about will not be effected by the White House’s Tax plan. The taxes proposed on businesses only refer to the PROFITS the company makes, not it’s gross. Even THEN, we’re only talking about the profits that EXCEED $250,000, not the Gross $250,000. You’d have to be at least a regional franchise or a high ticket retailer to profit enough to be impacted in any way. By an overwhelming margin, businesses that have only 1 location, like the ones Republicans want you to think about, would never be affected. They profit more in the range of $80,000 to $200,000, that would put them below the bar.

Republicans make no secret about advocating for less regulation on businesses. Without proper supervision, businesses tend to pollute the natural environment with toxic waste. It’s a byproduct of doing business for most. Global Warming is one of the results of not enough supervision so it’s an inconvenient truth that gets in the way of business.

Which brings us to another language trick Republicans are using; You will never hear a Republican say the words “Global Warming” because Global Warming accurately describes what is actually taking place. They have changed the term to “Climate Change” based on a belief that it sounds much less like what it actually is. So, they pay some “Experts”, who are available for purchase, to say it’s a hoax, to give it the veneer of even less credibility as a problem we need to address! Yet another language trick used by Republicans is “Job Killing” used as an adjective which is attached to anything they don’t fancy. Like for instance, anything suggested by the President or anything that might involve the Growth of Government.

Conservatives know that voters are generally concerned that so many of us are unemployed so they need some language to attach to anything that might involve you getting a job created by your tax dollars. So, they simply attach the “Job Killing” tag on to any such thing that might rise to the surface.

Republicans have a vested interest in the failure of Government in general. Which would explain their resistance to infrastructure repair. They know we need it. They know it will be more expensive the longer we kick the can down the road. But if they support it, the Government will have to do it. That will certainly stimulate growth in the economy and put more people back to work and that would be disastrous to their core principle that “Big Government is not the solution, It’s the problem.” It will also throw a wrench into the Republican viewpoint that Barack Obama is a failure as a President and that Government can do no good thing.

What puzzles me most about this is that Republicans, in their obsessive compulsion to destroy Barack Obama, tend to forget that the Government of the United States doesn’t have a “Department of Construction”. The money that will be used to repair and update our infrastructure is going to have to be given to private sector businesses that do construction work. Wouldn’t that HELP the very people they represent?

Republicans apply the “Job Killing” adjective to Obama Care too. That gets pretty deep and reaches pretty far into the territory of illusionary language. First of all, the actual name of the bill they are referring to is “The Affordable Care Act”! Republicans have successfully changed the words we use for it to “Obama Care” as a pejorative term; an insult! Even Democrats are using it now. It also serves to distract the attention from what the law actually does. It makes Health Care more affordable. By changing the name to “Obama Care”, not only do they denigrate what it is by using what they intended to be a condescending remark, it also removes the word “Affordable” from the discussion, which is the whole intent of the bill to begin with. This particular trick has been SO effective that most people familiar with term “Obama Care” do not recognize that the term refers to the Affordable Care Act. Which gives the late night comedy/talk show circuit some good material to illustrate how illiterate so many American voters are.

Secondly, the bill doesn’t kill jobs. The Government doesn’t have a “Department of Medical Insurance”! There will be something like 30 Million new customers for private sector insurance companies and HMOs. How are they going to be able to handle such an influx of customers without hiring more workers is beyond my understanding. How are Doctors, Nurses and Health Industry Administrators going to be able to handle all the new people who are now going to have access to preventive care alone. These are all private sector jobs!

Everyone, by now, has noticed that lower voter turnouts tend to favor Republican candidates more than Democratic ones. Republicans tend to vote more consistently even though there are fewer of them. Less than 30% of American Voters consider themselves Republicans. About 60% consider themselves Democratic or Independent and the rest are voters for other 3rd Parties like Pacific Green, Socialist and Constitution.

Newly elected Republican State Governments like Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and so on, have been passing laws since the 2010 Republican Sweep, to protect “The Sanctity of the Vote”! Despite scant little evidence that voter fraud accounts for an entire one, one hundredth of one percent of the votes cast anywhere in the country, they imagine that voter fraud is rampant and that voter fraud changes the outcomes of elections. I fear electronic voting machines a lot more than I fear your grand father rigging the vote. A computer that can’t print out the information you just put into it??? The effect, and intent, of these laws is to reduce the amount of people who vote in elections, which, as I mentioned, tends to favor Republican Candidates.

But these new laws themselves tend to surgically eliminate precise voting demographics, like college students, from being able to vote. By disallowing College Identification that they all have, in favor of types of identification that fewer of them have, they are able to keep them from voting. Like Driver Licenses and ID cards issued by the State where they attend college, for example. Which is not, ordinarily, the State where they live. Those types of ID cost money to students who are notoriously short on cash for a variety of legitimate reasons. It’s an intentional roadblock, a poll tax. College students tend to vote Democratic.

Another demographic category is race. People of a non-white race have less of a tendency to own property, drive a car, or have bills in their own names. Also, for a cornucopia of legitimate reasons. These voters are less likely to have the only types of ID that these new laws require. Thereby limiting their participation in elections based on a desire to protect a The Sanctity of a Vote that is not under attack. But, it does limit the amount of voters who tend to vote for Democrats. While I‘m on the subject, when did “The Democratic Party” become “The Democrat Party”?. (OK, I actually know this one. It was changed by the Republican Party as a dig against Democrats around 2000 when Bush was appointed President.) You will not find any Republican references to the Democratic Party after that election. They universally call us “The Democrat Party” now.

Where did all of these language changes come from? Well, I’m glad you asked because I happen to know this one too. His name is Frank Luntz and he’s a Republican operative and author who specializes in linguistics. His main business is language consulting with political campaigns and the marketing of products and services. To give you an idea of what this guy is thinking, here’s a few quotes:

A compelling story, even if factually inaccurate, can be more emotionally compelling than a dry recitation of the truth!” (I’m pretty sure you can tell that one of his clients is FOX Views)

How I say it, has as much of an impact on what people think, as what I say.”

I have seen how effective language, attached to policies that are mainstream and delivered by people who are passionate and effective, can change the course of history.” – Frank Luntz

With the able assistance of one Mr. Frank Luntz, the Republican Party has succeeded in changing the language of the national discourse to favor their own world view and we, you and I, have bought into the premise by using that language as they direct us to. Here’s another example of what I mean. Everybody knows that Republicans are fiscally responsible. We also know that Democrats tax and spend, right? According to quantifiable record, neither of those statements has been true since the Administration of Richard Nixon. But it DOES illustrate the well known communication technique that if you can get enough influential people with a microphone to say it enough times it will take on a truth of its own, completely divorced from reality.

Frank Luntz comes from the industry that brought you the Michelin Tire Commercial with the Baby sitting in the center of a tire with the tag line, “Because so much is riding on your tires” and the people who brought you “Choosy Mothers Choose Jiff”. I find both commercials offensive in that they insinuate that you don’t love your children unless you buy those specific products. Both manipulate what you already feel at a gut level to motivate you to take the specific actions that the advertisers direct you to take. And, now, Frank Luntz is selling you The Republican Party!

The way NOT to buy into the hype, is to practice care in the words you use. If you want what you are referring to to be accurate, use accurate terms regardless of whether others do or not. Push back against the tide of these language changes. Use the words you know to be true regardless of what Frank Luntz or the Republican Party tell you to do. Frank Luntz in not your boss, OR your English teacher!

Much Love,

Gregory

The Radical Activist Supreme Court

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The Radical Activist Supreme Court

July 2, 2012 by Gregory Franklyn

The front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

The front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

There is so much to consider about the Supreme Court of The United States from the last week that my head is still spinning about what it all means. One thing has not changed and I guess that’s a good place to start. The Supreme Court is still a radical Right Wing activist court just like it was last month. Another thing that has not changed is that rulings from this court continue to be suspect due to the political and financial alliances of some of its Conservative Republican Justices.

Justices Thomas and Scalia are both close associates of the Koch Brothers and have been featured guests at invitation only Right Wing political retreats (plural) while at the same time, ruling on the Citizens United case which lifted any restrictions on the amount of money the Koch Brothers Foundations and PACs can contribute to political campaigns. Justice Thomas’ wife, Virginia, founded, fund-raised for, and chaired a Conservative Political Action Committee which advocates repealing the Affordable Care Act while her husband is sitting on the court deciding the constitutionality of key parts of it. He ultimately ruled congruent to his wife’s position.

Justice Scalia, a close personal friend of Vice President Dick Chaney, went hunting with him while ruling on a challenge to the Vice President’s Energy Task Force and ended up ruling in the Vice President’s favor. How these relationships, particularly the timing of these relationships, are not considered conflicts of interest is well beyond most people’s ability to reason. One of two things are true here. Either we, the people, are just too dim witted to understand the legal nuances of Conflict of Interest, or we have a Supreme Court that has them and nothing of any consequence is being done to address it.

Which brings me to my first question about the Supreme Authority on the Constitution of the United States. Isn’t it a conflict of interest that the very people who sit on the court are the same people who decide what constitutes a conflict of interest for a Supreme Court Justice? Wouldn’t they ALL have to recuse themselves as having a conflict of interests? But, even more important to me, is why this is permitted to continue as if nothing were wrong with it? In both cases I mentioned, the offending Justice ruled in favor of their allegiances and both rulings stand as I write this.

Interestingly enough, no corresponding controversies about political relationships are being leveled at liberal justices on the same court. Perhaps they, alone, understand the concept of objectivity in jurisprudence and carefully avoid the appearance of impropriety. That matches up pretty well with what we estimate the foundation of The Supreme Court was intended to produce when it was decided that they would be appointed for life. Justices who are above partisan allegiances and have graduated into an elite college of legal minds that guide the progress of our nation without such petty influences.

This specific court has ruled on strict political lines, with precious few exceptions, in nearly every case since Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justice Alito were sworn in. Being a 5 to 4 majority, gives this Court the color of an arm of the Republican Party nearly equal to FOX Views.

Granted, we’re imperfect and incomplete, but surely we can agree that Justices of The Supreme Court should not be representing partisan Political views with such regularity. We had better hope that a challenge to Roe v Wade doesn’t get presented to THIS Court. This Court has already disregarded 100 year old precedents in Citizen’s United and Montana’s challenge to it. And, let’s not forget that the foundation of this Court’s ruling on Citizen’s United hinged on a sentence that was inserted by a clerk after the fact of the ruling on anti-trust law over 100 years ago. It was a well known typo, for crying out loud!

This week, the Supremes rule, on party lines as usual, that Montana’s 100 year old elections law, designed to counteract corporate interests in electoral politics, is unconstitutional on the basis that they had just ruled that Corporations are people for the purposes of free speech and that money is speech! In Montana there were 2 Copper Barons around the turn of the 18th Century that had corrupted the political environment, there, to the point where a Congressman, who had been elected by that corrupt system, was denied a seat in that Congress because the seat had been, effectively, purchased for him by a company. The House of Representatives simply refused to seat him. The people of Montana responded by enacting laws that prevent a company or Corporation from dominating electoral politics in Montana. It worked,,, for 100 years,,, that is until this past week when the Supreme Court told Montana, and 23 other States who have similar restrictions on Corporate contributions to political candidates, that they are required to open up the political process to what effectively amounts to hostile corporate take-overs of local and State elections in the same way Citizen’s United does for National ones. They doubled down on Citizens United!

It’s clear that this Court, along with their Conservative Republican counterparts, wants the United States to be run by big business. That wouldn’t be such a problem if it weren’t accompanied by a concomitant wave of Republican Governors and State Legislatures pushing a huge, nationwide effort to suppress voting by enacting regulations that make it harder for a voter to identify him/herself at the poles, and purging voter rolls to fix a problem that doesn’t appear to exist, but does eliminate a lot of minority voters, mostly Black, who also have a tendency to vote Democrat.

Rick Scott in Florida is the most aggressive purge in the nation and he’s currently under pressure from the Department of Justice, to knock it off. Those restrictions unfairly affect students and minorities, both of which tend to vote Democrat. This ruling plays right into the Republican strategy for dominating electoral politics with huge amounts of money, just like Montana 100 years ago, and eliminating voters who might vote for a Democrat. But, that’s a discussion for another day.

Add to that, the spate of newly elected Tea Party Republicans in both Governor’s offices and Legislatures that are enacting laws to eliminate Unions and the power of the people to defend themselves against the worst abuses by big business. Unions are the People’s version of a Corporation. It’s the only vehicle working people have for any hope of matching the money big business can use to dominate electoral politics. Taken together, all of this is a serious blow to the concept of social equality professed by our Constitution. And, this Court seems to be OK with that!

Next, we have the Arizona Bill 1070 Immigration Law which the Court struck down on the basis that Immigration Law Enforcement is not for the States to decide, but is the jurisdiction of the Federal Government. But it did leave the Racial Profiling element of the law alone to be considered later when someone objects to it and brings a case against it. Which seems weird when you consider another ruling that was handed down that same week. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act but not on the basis on which it was argued. The court held that the Mandate to buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act was NOT Constitutional on the grounds of the Interstate Commerce Clause, but Chief Justice John Roberts searched the Constitution for another reason to uphold it, unlike in the Arizona 1070 case. Here, Roberts found that the Mandate can be considered a TAX, which the federal Government DOES have the power to enact and enforce. It’s a good ruling, but unlike this Court, and with the exception of the Chief Justice, it was decided on Party lines as usual

I think that Chief Justice Brown was signaling that he recognizes how polarized on party lines his Court really is and recognized how much trouble his Court is in, in the minds of the citizens on the subject of Constitutional objectivity. This Court is the most politically activist court in my lifetime and, possibly, much much longer than that. You can tell because Republicans aren’t complaining much. That speaks louder than words ever could that the Court is acting to their liking.

In stark contrast, Democrats are rightly hurling charges of judicial activism with vigor over such rulings as Citizen’s United and the Montana Elections case. Perhaps chief Justice Roberts wanted to hand one over to the Liberals in an attempt to, at least, put up some window dressing of constitutional objectivity. That remains to be seen, but there is no question that the Supreme Court of the United States is heavily colored by Conservative Republican Political Activism despite the Affordable Care Act ruling. How they rule on voter suppression and Roe v Wade in the cases that are surely headed their way, will tell us everything we need to know about that!

Republicans were so confident that this Court would uphold Republican Policy like they have in so many cases before it. We Liberals were sitting on the edge of our chairs, biting our nails waiting for the ruling to be handed down. We were equally sure this Court would rule like it usually has. I have enjoyed myself watching Republicans across the board lose their frigging minds over this ruling. They were so counting on this being Obama’s Waterloo. This could have been the last nail in the coffin of what the Republican Party has been dedicated to burying since January 20, 2009! I feel vindicated, as I waltz into my July 4th vacation, that the Republican Party knows a little bit more, today, about what it usually feels like to be a Liberal Democrat and I have no shame about enjoying what it usually feels like to be a Republican. Both are kind of nice to experience, actually!

Much Love,

Gregory

The Last One to Know

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10/15/2012 – By Gregory Franklyn

October 11th was National Coming Out Day and it got me to thinking about my own coming out story. That, and a friend sent me an article she had read about a new book coming out this month by a straight conservative bible-belt Christian fellow who went undercover as a gay man to try and get a view of what life is like for gay people in the United States.
I haven ‘t read the book, but based on the article, I would recommend it to every heterosexual, or person who thinks they might be. The book is called “A Cross in the Closet” and here ‘s a YouTube Trailer about it.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=4R6qIIvYEqs

Every gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, trans-gender and/or questioning person who has ever made the journey, has a coming out story. I have one too. I came out in 1980 when I was 28 years old but the story begins in Detroit Michigan before I was old enough recognize what an “Age” was. A little background is in order.

I’m an orphan and was given up at birth. I ‘m told that for the first two years of life I was raised by whomever was on duty, at the time, at a Catholic Orphanage in Detroit. I was adopted at just over 2 years, by a family that was having marital trouble and believed that having Children might save the marriage. Evidently, it didn’t! By the time I was 6, my also adopted older brother Mike and I, sat outside a courtroom in St Clair County Michigan while both parents, now both re-married, decided that it was best for everyone to go their separate ways. Mike and I became wards of the State were separated on the spot. We didn’t see one another again until after I had graduated from High School. He’s pretty much a stranger to me, a childhood friend with closer than usual ties, I’d guess.

This chain of events, evidently affected me pretty deeply because I got tossed around from living situation to living situation until I was 14. Up until I was accepted to the famous Fr Flanagan’s BoysTown (immortalized in the movie “BoysTown” with Spencer Davis and Mickey Rooney), I had never completed 2 grades in the same school. I was in therapy through most of that period because I was an “Odd” little boy.

Here ‘s what one Doctor said in his psychological evaluation of me at 11:

“During the interview, Dr. Locket found Greg to have average or better intelligence; to be proper and distant but cooperative; he showed little anxiety. He uses extremely strong defenses of: denial, intellectualization and rationalization. Denial is mostly on the conscious level and may be a denial of being male on the subconscious level. This denial started early, thus forming a personality pattern of which his overt feminine character pattern is only a part.

Dr Locket suggested that initial rejection led to lack of involvement with others for which Greg developed a survival pattern. Greg has a basic personality problem in relating to others. Although it’s not definitely known, one could say that there’s a distortion in Greg’s relationship to his mother and a lack of involvement with his father. Greg relates on a superficial level and one wonders what he really feels.

Dr Locket diagnosed him as having a passive, receptive, feminine personality pattern. He further described Greg as being; narcissistic (involved more with self than with others); masochistic (as evidence in his passivity in the face of scapegoating); relatively un-relating, unmotivated and markedly defensive. He probably has overwhelming anger, but good defenses.

Greg ‘s future depends on how much anxiety can be aroused. As he becomes older he may become anxious and do something. Dr. Locket recommended long term placement in a total care environment for all his childhood.”

Now, I didn’t repeat all that to put my business in the street, so to speak, but to show how gay people were thought of by the psychological community at the time. Remember, that in the big picture, psychotherapy, at the time, was barely older then I was. Boys who were effeminate, were thought of in these terms, in general society, because of the profound and dramatic lack of understanding of homosexuality. So much so that in the last sentence in the evaluation, the good Dr. recommends that I be sent to a mental institution.

I was 35 when I came out to my brother Mike. It wasn’t like I was hiding it by that time, it ‘s just that I was out of contact with him until then. When I told him, he said, “Hell, I knew that the day you were brought home from the orphanage!” (he was a few years older than me so I tend not to doubt it).

When it comes to my sexuality, I really WAS the last one to figure it out. When I read that evaluation today, I see a little gay kid trying to make his way in a very rigidly straight world, on his own, mind you. They didn’t like gay kids at the time. I had been rejected by 4 sets of parents by that time, very likely BECAUSE I was gay. My original birth parents, my adopted parents and 2 foster families. I ‘m not surprised that there may have been a little trauma there. Of course, I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about because I had always been like I was. I didn’t have anything to compare it to.

Along with the family dysfunction, there was also the Catholic Church. That’s were I grew up, most of the time. Catholic schools are pretty rigid to begin with, but when you actually LIVE there too, it ‘s even more intense. Your parent figures are nuns, brothers and priests. So, as any good boy might want to do, I clung to my religion to help me through it.

I didn’t know that a person could normally be gay because I was taught that “The Devil Made Me Do It” and that I was just morally weak. So I tried to become stronger in my resistance to myself believing that I was doing what I was supposed to do. I did pretty well too! I think it took me so long to settle with who I am, because of my intent to be Good.

Around the mid 70s, that would be in my mid 20s, I began to seriously question whether what I was being told about being gay, by people I looked up to for spiritual guidance and direction, may have been being less than honest with me about it. It turns out that, well intentioned as they may or may not have been, they didn’t know what they were talking about and I had to spend nearly half of my life figuring it out on my own. I had struggled with this “demon” for my entire life and I was getting pretty weary of the struggle, mainly because I, Like everyone else at that age, was raging with sexual urges and I finally couldn’t take it anymore.

I remember the day clearly, even 32 years later. I was sitting in a house I had bought, but couldn’t afford, (predatory Mortgage lending is nothing new), and I had my feet propped up on the window sill, casually kicked back in my lounger when I just “Gave Up”. It was clear that I couldn’t go on like this, always fighting myself over what I was feeling inside. Linda, a girl I almost married, had just left to return home to California, realizing what I couldn’t be what she wanted, needed and clearly deserved in a husband. We had both just dodged a bullet.

I had had a few girlfriends before her and I did enjoy their company, a lot. I just couldn’t figure out a way to enjoy having sex with them. That’s why we would always break up. I must have made them feel like they weren’t attractive or sexy, and no one deserves to feel like THAT! Least of all, those girls! So if any of you happen to be reading this can I just say I ‘m so sorry for how I made you feel. That was never my intent. I was with you because I dug you and I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. You got that far into my heart because you are THAT much of a woman.

Anyway, back to the story. I just gave up! It was that simple. I determined that if I was going to hell and would never be whole as a person anyway, then, Screw It, I ‘m going to go ahead and be what I am and let the chips fall where they may. Because being what I was taught I was supposed to be was just not working out for anyone anymore, including me.

I only reconsidered that decision once in my life.

A few days later, embarking on my new life for the first time, I went to a gay bar in Phoenix called “Hisco-Disco”. I had read about it in a gay magazine I had found at a porno bookstore. Back then that’s where you had to go to find information about your culture if you were gay. It was still being oppressed everywhere else. It’s kind of sad when I think about it today. In order to find the door to a peaceful inner life, you had to go to the one place in the world where furtive sexual frustration and repressed emotions are the most prominent energies.

My first exposure to Gay culture was a life changing experience for me, to say the least. I have never before, or since, felt as intense feelings of conflicting emotions as I did that night. I walked in, and ordered a drink and sat at a table as out of the way as I could and just watched for a while. One part of me was disgusted and repulsed at what I was seeing and the other part of me was instinctively jumping for joy at having found a place in the world, for the first time in my life, where I was seeing my own imagination displayed before me in real time!

These guys were kissing each other and holding one another like there was nothing wrong with it, right there in front of everybody in the place and no one was reacting in horror. What a beautiful world, I thought. I feel like that too! I didn’t talk to anyone that night, because I was too overwhelmed with these conflicting emotions. It took me a few days to digest what I had just experienced.

A few days later, I went to this porno theater called the   “WhereHouse” because I thought that that’s what gay guys do. Remember, all I knew about gay people, up to that point, I learned from Priests, nuns and materials I had seen at a porno bookstore.

I parked my car in the back lot so no one could see it, pulled up my collar so I’d be less likely to be recognized and sheepishly walked in. I paid for my ticket and the helpful clerk pointed me to the door to the theater. In hindsight, he was probably so helpful because I’m sure he could tell I had never been to one before. I opened these ornate double doors and was about to walk in when I saw what was on this huge movie screen. I mean, the screen was much taller than me and I’m 6 Feet tall in bare feet. I saw a man in a bathroom with two other men on their knees facing away from us. The man had both of his hands, up to mid-forearm, INSIDE the other two men ‘s rectums and he was working them with a vengence.

I turned and ran in horror back to the sanctity of my own home, in another state of extreme, though this time NOT conflicting, emotions. I can only imagine the knowing smile on that clerk’s face as I went running out. I felt lost in the world again because if that’s what I have to do to be gay, I ‘m ready to reconsider my decision right now!

That stuff was WAY too adult for me! It still is, come to think of it.     I never went back to the theater, but I did go back to Hisco-Disco. I went frequently until my conflicting emotions gave way to a kind of sanity that was pretty new to me. I met and dated a charming but much too aggressive black guy named Eric Revallion. We dated for a while, but it never went any further. But I will always be grateful to Eric for 2 things. One, he was my first date as a gay man, and two, he gave me a cat that I named “Disco”, both because that’s where I met Eric and so that I could say “Disco, get down!” when he jumped up on the counter. (True Story)

Hisco Disco was the place where I was when I first recognized that there really wasn’t anything wrong with me and that I wasn’t as alone as I had always felt like I was. The place where, for the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged. I never saw Eric again, but Disco was a good friend for many years. He eventually stayed at a house that I had to move out of because he didn’t like the new place. Besides, the house I moved out of was a community garden. LOTS of mice and birds. It must have been heaven for him!

I have never looked back to the days when I was struggling with myself over who I am. Well, except that time in the porno theater. There has never been a reason to. Granted, I still had to endure the slurs about sexuality that I had always had to deal with since I could remember. My Nicknames on school playgrounds were things like, “Honey”, “Oddy” and, “Pussy Galore” (after the James Bond Character in Goldfinger) along with the standards, “Queer” (which I still find offensive today), “Fag & Faggot”, “Poofter”, “Light in the Loafers”, “Candy-Ass”, “Fudge-Packer”,,, There ‘s a whole dictionary of them and I ‘m pretty sure I’ve been called all of them at one time or another. But the fact is that it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as it did back when I was completely alone.

But, now it’s possible to have a peaceful inner life. A life of knowing what this straight conservative Christian guy learned from his experience that I hope you read about. The gay community he refers to, interestingly enough, is the same gay community (Portland Oregon) that  has embraced me and I, it, in way that has made it possible for me to have a sense of peace within myself and focus my energies on things that really matter.

Like Homelessness, for example. I work at a Men’s Homelessness to Housing Program here and it’s the hardest job I’ve ever loved. I’m gay, and most of the men at the shelter know it, but I almost universally get the respect I give and there has been barely a ripple of discomfort about it because of that! They let me be me because they see me letting everyone else be themselves too. It’s almost like I give them permission not to be judgmental by not being judgmental of them.

In any Gay Community you will find a lot of hugging and kissing and touching, a lot of emotional support, and a lot of acceptance. It is because every gay person you know has done his, or her, own “Vision Quest” to get where they are today. That takes a deep and fierce courage and determination to be REAL. It seems kind of ironic when you consider that the most visible elements of our culture are our Drag Queens and our Leather Folks. They are the real leaders of our community because they have traveled even further then most of us have into their Vision Quest. Expert enough to play with the illusions of masculinity and femininity without getting burned.

But what brings my culture together at our core is stories like the one I’m telling you here. We share the experience of rejection and we KNOW how much that hurts the human spirit. That’s why we are, MOSTLY, accepting of others. We have a ways to go in that department, but not NEARLY as far as Straight people do. And, it’s because we have had to challenge our entire existence in ways that straight people have rarely had to think about. Why WOULD they? Straight people are not strangers in a strange land. They live in their own house.

That’s why I ‘m so impressed with this Timothy Kurek fellow. He didn’t HAVE to do that, but he did it anyway because he wanted to really experience what it’s like. That says a lot about his character.

My culture is expert at illusion and superficiality because we all, at some point or another, before our personal Vision Quest, have had to LIVE a superficial illusion to survive. We have been pushed out to the edge of our survival and found a way to come back and live here anyway.

I have the cultural confidence to be able to recognize Window Dressing at 4 blocks! Any time you want to know what the next big hit song on the radio is going to be, all you have to do is go to a gay dance club tonight and listen for a few minutes. See? You didn’t know you were psychic, did you!

Homosexuality is a culture. So much so that when I ‘m filling out forms that ask what race I am, if there’s an option for “Other”  that’s what I check, because of all the options listed on those forms, that one is the closest to what I am.

I’m glad that Timothy Kurek infiltrated my community and experienced what he experienced and I’m glad that he wants you to know about it. I wish more brave heterosexual souls would do that. After all, it’s only fair, we have experienced their world from birth. Been there, done that, moved on! It just wasn’t for me.

Much Love,

Gregory

PS: As an aside to any GLBTQ person who has not seen it already, check out a movie called “Before Stonewall”. It changed my life and my understanding of myself. We have a long and rich cultural history that I didn’t even know existed until I saw it. Maybe it will help you figure some things out.

Getting Elemental

Published by:

June 15, 2012

When things get a little out of hand in my life, as I’m sure things do in yours, I have a tendency to “Get Elemental”, as I call it. Another way of putting it is in a concept a wise young friend of mine said to me in my youth. “When you shake a tree vigorously, some of the leaves will fall off. The ones that remain are the ones that really matter to the tree”. While watching the Republican Party absolutely and positively lose their frigging minds like they are right now, I have a tendency to want to get elemental about what a Republican is,,, or more like, what a Republican SHOULD be.

A definition, if you will, to try and figure out what has gone all cattywampus. (I’ll give you a moment to look that up.)

Republicans are conservative. Let’s examine that term for a moment. Dictionary.Com defines the word thus:

“Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc. or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change”. The World English Dictionary says: “Favoring the preservation of existing customs, values etc., and opposing innovation”.

I don’t find any of those things threatening. I think “Opposing Innovation” to be a bit sluggish if you have a vision of something better, but there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the viewpoint. That doesn’t mean that Republicans favor standing still for all eternity. It means that they favor change in slow incremental steps that preserve what we have, while gently and carefully reaching for what we imagine we could have. A sense of building on what exists as a foundation, to make the big picture more, or better. I find no fault with that reasoning.

But that’s not what Conservatism is today. Here’s a few quotes from a few famous Republicans from decades ago:

“We’re going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share. In theory, some of those loopholes were understandable, but in practice they sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying ten percent of his salary, and that’s crazy. Do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver, or less?” — President Ronald Reagan, June 1985

When I first read that quote it was in an article in Rolling Stone Magazine that was brought to my attention earlier this year by a co-worker who was surfing the net. I was truly shocked when I got to the part where the person quoted was identified. I thought it was a democrat or a progressive, like President Obama or Senator Bernie Sanders or something. A few years ago I read another quote that shocked me as well. Here’s what I read and I had the same reaction when learning who said it:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.“ — President Dwight Eisenhower, 1961

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. — President Abraham Lincoln

In all fairness, Lincoln, though a Republican, was considered a liberal. In his day, the attitudes of the two political Parties were reversed. Democrats were thought of as the stodgy business oriented folks and Republicans were the wild radical bleeding hearts on the political landscape of the United States.

My point here is to draw a comparison between the Conservatism of the first half of the last century and what a frightening and deranged thing Republican Ideology  have morphed into, today. The Republican Conservative mindset used to have some sort of integrity, some deep thought and introspection about what could make the United States a stronger, more powerful force in the world that carried with it a sense of moral character.

Contrast those quotes with what passes for Conservatism today:

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one term President.”– Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

“This president I think has exposed himself over and over again as a guy who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture….I\’m not saying he doesn’t like white people, I’m saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist. — Radio and Television Spokes-model Glen Beck

“Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans; The House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.“ — Republican Political Operative Grover Norquist 2102

Of course, these aren’t the deepest thoughts or loftiest ideals that Conservative Republicans hold today and you and I both know it. But, they ARE indicative of what the Republican Party has been reduced to by money and radical fear of change. In the 2012 election, they have chosen as their champion, a compulsive liar with a demonstrated lack of moral compass. Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney has been accurately described as a “Well Oiled Weather Vane” by members of his own Party.

Republicans appear to have given up all hope of developing an attractive message or any sense of moral character that might attract voters to a vision of the future. They have instead become angry bullies bent on destroying anything that isn’t Republican, including the very country they claim to love.

2 years ago they created a fiscal crisis by refusing to allow the debt ceiling to be raised as it has traditionally been done, for as long as we can remember, in order to stimulate the economy into some meaningful form of recovery from the worst financial disaster in our lifetimes. As a direct result, for the first time in our history, the world’s faith in our ability to govern ourselves appropriately was called into question and our nation’s credit rating was damaged. That is not principled behavior. That’s juvenile schoolyard bullying!

I believe that Conservatism and what used to be the Republican Party is a much needed “Check and Balance” of the more esoteric excesses of liberalism. But, at present, that balance is dysfunctional as the Republican Party races radically and irresponsibly further and further to the right, causing the political landscape to change so rapidly and so dramatically that these quotes from Republicans as recently as 1985 (the Reagan Quote) now sound like the radical socialism they are accusing Democrats of.

We are in trouble in the United States as I write this and I am clear that blame and accountability can be assigned for it. It is only our fear that prevents us from recognizing that the Republican Party has most certainly lost their frigging minds and are terrorizing the citizenry of the United States and damaging our good name across the globe. Blame can also be assigned to the media for not calling a lie a lie, and for not exercising a sense of duty to the American People, to tell the truth, because of their fear of retribution from their employers; Conservative Republicans, nearly to a person. They have slowly and carefully orchestrated the infiltration of conservative political action into the Supreme Court of the United States to the point where over 100 years of Constitutional Law has recently been ignored in order to allow elections to be sold to the highest bidders; also Conservative Republicans nearly to a person!

Though to a lesser degree, the Democratic Party is not blameless either. Beholden to the same financial interests for their very electoral survival, they have, in a large part, abdicated their own integrity and responsibility to the American People to stand for the truth they know. This is not principled behavior either. It is cowardice.

The good people of the United States ARE better than this and we deserve better from our leaders. It is clearly up to us, you and I, to restore the principled behavior, that guides our own lives, back upward into the political landscape of our country because it will certainly not come trickling down from above!

Much Love,

Gregory

In Belated Memorium For Billy Preston 1946-2006

Published by:

September 5, 2011 – by Gregory Franklyn

I was out looking for things to take pictures of with my new camera yesterday and I was driving up Martin Luther King Boulevard when I spotted a dear friend with whom I had fallen deeply in love about a decade ago. He was hot and sweaty because it was about 90 degrees out and was carrying a rubber trash can over his shoulder, which seemed strangely fitting. You see, my friend suffers from Crack Addiction. One of the most severe cases of the disease I’ve seen so far.

Legend has it, the last time he was well was in High School. He was quite the BMOC at the time and married early. No surprise there, he was a magnificent sight even in the deteriorated condition he was in when I met him. Any young girl, or boy for that matter, would have fallen all over themselves trying to get with him. He ‘s a tall emaciated string of knots now, but in the day I hear he was a mountain of graceful sculpture. He’s intelligent, observant, and makes friends easily with a charm that makes him seem even bigger than he is. He has always lit up any room I was in, at least in part because of the love I feel for him.

He didn’t notice me as I waved so I pulled over to the curb nearly 2 blocks behind him. I was going to speak with him because I missed him and hadn’t seen him in a while. But I stopped myself because as I sat there watching him walk away I realized how sick he is and how miserably I failed to help him out of his unfortunate life a decade ago.

At that moment, sitting there in my car, I felt sad for both of us. Him, for the life he has to live because of the politics of addiction, and me because, try as I might, I was never enough to him to be of any real help. To his credit, and mine I suppose, when we were together he was making some real effort to deal with his disease. But, that was 10 years, of sucking on that glass dick, ago. Among the many things I love about this guy is his work ethic and his integrity. Even in the face of what a crack head has to go through to keep feeding that beast, he was still able to maintain some dignity about himself.

His character as a man has always amazed me and I wish I had known him before he got sick. It’s kind of sad that had he not been sick, we probably never would have met. As I hear it, he was way way up there on the “A List” of the cool kids and I was, clearly, not!

Later that night I was flipping through channels when I came upon a documentary about Billy Preston. Those of you who were born Post-Beatles will probably not remember him, but he has a huge impact on my growth and development with an album he did called “I Wrote a Simple Song”. His claim to fame was his moniker of being the 5th Beatle. He played keyboards on their last two albums and was likely the reason they stayed together long enough to finish them. He also toured with the Rolling Stones as a sideman and was in Ray Charles’ and Little Richards’ bands for years. At 9 years old, he was a guest on Nat King Cole’s TV show and played piano FOR Nat, while Nat sang. NINE YEARS OLD!

The Album I’m referring to, “I Wrote a Simple Song”

I was 20 years old and living in Phoenix Arizona with about 6 others in a little 70s drug commune type of arrangement on Solano Drive. I had just been to the record store and was clutching my prize close to my chest on my way home. I put the record on and dropped a hit of particularly good LSD and laid down on my waterbed to listen.

Somewhere near 9 hours later my room-mates burst into my room and demanded that I change the record. I fell in love with Billy Preston that day. What I felt, and still feel, when I listen to that record is a kind of fun, joy, excitement and not a little bit of stirring down in my nether regions.

I’ll spare you the intimate details, but let’s just say that it’s possible to have an orgasm without touching yourself. To this day I’m grateful that didn’t happen while my house-mates were storming into my room to demand that I play something else for a while. It was one of those records like Brenda Russell’s  “Piano In The Dark” that once I heard it, I couldn’t bear the sound of anything else for WEEKS on end.

What I didn’t know until last evening is that my hero, in addition to being a genius musician who played with the A List of people of his time and whom we now consider legendary geniuses, was also gay! Not many people talk about that and it’s unfortunate. Partly because guys like me, and it turns out Billy Preston himself, had to struggle so deeply with our sexuality and self esteem because no one was talking about it. We had to make it on our own, mostly without help.

Looking back on that experience I can ‘t help but think that Billy Preston reached me so deeply because he was able to communicate through his genius in music that what I was feeling inside was not just OK, but an actual gift that not everyone gets to have. He was a kindred spirit even though I didn’t know it at the time. It’s clear that he didn’t know what he was saying at the time either. I learned from the documentary that he struggled with being gay for his whole life because of his upbringing in the church. Wow, me too!

As you know, God is said to look down on the idea of same gender relationships that include sex. God is SAID to look down on such, by people who don’t understand homosexuality, or are struggling with it themselves. The documentary talked about Billy’s struggle with the same disease my friend from earlier yesterday had, as well! Same one I have, too. With my cigarettes!

However, I am here to testify that somewhere inside of Billy Preston, coming out through his music, was the knowledge of how much of a gift being selected to go through this life as a gay person really is and I will always hold a special place in my soul for his trying to tell me that on his album “I Wrote a Simple Song” way back then. Maybe he was trying to tell himself too, but it changed what I felt about myself on an subconscious level, if not a conscious one. I hope it had the same effect on him.

Looking back, it was around that time in my life when I stopped doing drugs and started looking at my life as if there were a future for me in addition to a past that I’d rather not revisit, and I believe to this day that album had some part in that discovery. I may not have realized it at the time, but another like soul was reaching out to mine. I learned from the documentary that he eventually, if too late, did settle with his sexuality and recovered from his illness with crack shortly before his unfortunate demise in 2006.

I thought it was strange, and maybe a bit of a signal, about what had happened to me earlier that day while sitting in my car thinking about speaking with my friend who was sick, and then seeing this documentary about one of my personal heroes who suffered from the same disease. Here’s what came up for me:

I don ‘t like Crack! It ‘s nothing personal, I just don ‘t like it and I’ve never held bad feelings about people who think they DO like it. I have some friends who have been doing it for years and they’re still my friends and I still love them. I love them from a bit of a distance now because of some of the more unsavory symptoms of the disease but I do love them still.

I also have some friends who have done it and have been able to leave it behind and I cheer for them, inside. I consider it a blessing to have been there to see that happen for them. I just don ‘t want it in my life because you don’t even have to suck that glass dick for it to ruin big swaths of your life. Just being an innocent bystander is enough. If you’re nearby, you’re going to feel the effects of the symptoms of addiction.

BUT, addiction is not a criminal justice issue. It is a MEDICAL one. These people are sick, not criminal. In every case I’ve seen, criminal activity is a symptom of the disease, not a cause. People who are sick commit crimes BECAUSE they are sick, not because they are criminals.

We are fighting a war with crimes we have created by misunderstanding the nature of illness in general and the disease of addiction in particular. I favor legalizing ALL of it even though I have little personal interest in doing drugs anymore (aside from my cigarettes, of course).

We should be putting our money into treatment for a medical disease that is eating my friend alive. Our response to drugs destroys way more families and individual lives than any drug every dreamed of. It’s like our War on Terror. We’ve done most of the destruction to our country ourselves by acting out our fears instead of our vision for peace or healing.

What also came up for me is this: Religion is the single most powerful force of evil in the lives of my fellow GLBT folks, probably everyone else too, but that ‘s a discussion for another day. I can testify, personally, to that truth and I can point to Billy Preston and any number of other heroes right here in my life who live tragic lives of self doubt because someone in the church, that they looked up to for guidance and direction in times of confusion, told them that who they are as a person is wrong in the eyes of God, and they believed it because they thought they were SUPPOSED to! That is the single biggest, most destructive, lie I have ever heard and it is STILL being told by people who SAY they are speaking in the name of a loving creator, in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

And lastly, What came up for me is that maybe my judgment was a little off yesterday when I let my friend with the trash can on his shoulder keep walking without stopping him to speak for a while. He’s worth it as a human being and I still love him and miss him so much. Maybe I should have stopped him and tried again. It’s 10 years later, he’s surely been through a lot in that time. Maybe now, after all that, I might be enough to reach his soul like Billy Preston was able to do for me at what turned out to be a critical juncture in my life… Maybe….and while I ‘m thinking of it; (Aside to Billy Preston) Happy Trails my brother, and thank you for everything! Will It Go Round In Circles? I certainly hope so, Billy!

With Much Love From Gregory Leon Franklyn, A kid you helped become a man!

Mother Theresa V God

Published by:

5/6/2009 By Gregory Franklyn

I don’t know if I ‘m alone here or not, but the passing of Mother Theresa last month coupled with the release of some of her letters and other writings brings up a couple of significant points that I HOPE is making people think a little differently about religious teaching in general and (because it ‘s the tradition I ‘m most familiar with) Christianity in particular.

I feel like I need to mention that I am not an Atheist even though a legitimate argument can be made that I often sound like one! I do share a disdain for “Religion” with Atheists and agree wholeheartedly with the lion ‘s share of what they say about the worship of God. It appears, from Mother Theresa ‘s writings, that I ‘m in pretty good company on this Sunday Morning!

This remarkable woman was a GLOBAL Icon of FAITH in God! She won a Nobel Prize for it, for Christ ‘s sake! (Literally!) She personified proper adherence to the “Religious” teachings of Christianity. She followed the Christian playbook so closely that she became the Icon, the living example, of how it should be done. Not even the POPE, ANY Pope, has had the Christian “Street Cred” that Mother Theresa had!

Because of these writings I have a LOT more respect for Mother Theresa now than I ever had while she was alive. I had pretty much written her off as a religious robot. A woman who responded with near perfection to what Christianity teaches right down to the last letter in the playbook. I could recognize it in her because I had spent the bulk of my youth doing the same thing! Not NEARLY as well, mind you, but that was my intent and I was good enough at it to have to spend the rest of my life, so far, recovering from the damage caused by it!

What I never suspected of her was that she was a living breathing THINKING human being underneath all that Christian propaganda. She got screwed by what I call “The Romantic Christian Fantasy”. Every religion has it ‘s own version of it. The trappings of religion, that being, what the proponents of that particular religion created around it to recruit for the religion and advance its worldly cause. You might equate it to the platform of a political party. At its core, that is what a religion IS, after all. A man made political platform for a world view.

I believe her very heart was in what she was reflecting to the world. However, it was all based on a story and a socio-spiritual structure that had been twisted, molded, reconfigured and manipulated over two millennia into a grotesque assault on the core of what the story was really about. I ‘m so delighted that she recognized that before she left! It ‘s had a tremendous impact on me to know that. I feel a little bit less alone this Sunday because I had a sister all these years and didn’t even know it.

Mother Theresa became so totally disillusioned about the Christianity that she was taught by the Church that she decided that she didn’t believe in God at all. Having gone through much of the same training, I agree with her. The way God is portrayed by religions is unbelievable for a very good reason! IT ‘S NOT TRUE! That ‘s why all religions rely on the concept of “Faith” to keep folks in the fold. If they didn’t push the “Faith” button all the time, people would realize that they are being fed a political agenda about a particular world view and likely start looking for truth. Truth is not a very good thing for religions. It challenges their political platform.

God Bless you Mother Theresa, for recognizing that you had been screwed before you left. I think more of you because you trusted yourself, and had enough strength of character to even consider the possibility that the church may have been wrong about God all along. But, my dear sister, you were not screwed by God, you were screwed by an organization that presents itself as representative of God. You were screwed by PEOPLE with a political agenda for a world view.

The fact that Mother Theresa did NOT stop doing what she was doing because of her epiphany about the existence of God, is equally important to me. It brings up an issue that all religions push as part of their agenda. “Without faith in God there would be no reason to do good works and the entire planet would descend into selfish chaos and bloodshed!” All religions teach that if you do not believe in God then you are automatically a homicidal sociopath.

Also not true and Mother Theresa came to my rescue on that point too! There ARE Natural laws at work in the world that CAN be proven. Karma is a law that states that what you create, or bring forth in the world will, at some point return to you. Good will and bad will are both included. Charles Manson is getting his and Mother Theresa is getting hers too!

Mother Theresa put love, care and work into the world and she is now at peace and her memory is loved, appreciated and imitated by uncountable people the world over (today, including me) and Charles Manson suffers the fate of existing in his own twisted mind for the rest of his life followed by a memory of disrespect and abhorrence.

Mother Theresa found a reason OTHER than God to continue a life of service to her fellow inhabitants of earth. Who knows what that reason may have been, but it disproves the teaching of ALL religions that I mentioned. If you do good works, you create a more loving place to exist. That can be proven. If you do bad works you create a more hostile environment in which to exist. That, also, can be proven and the existence or absence of God is not central to its truth.   Let the debate begin!

Much Love,

Gregory