Friday Night Party Open Thread

And while you’re at it, thank all the gods and your parents that you’re smart enough to understand towels:

…DudeRobe isn’t just a robe, though there is one of those. It’s an entire lineup of towel-lined loungewear—from robes and hoodies to shorts and pants—designed for bros. Because apparently normal robes are just too ladylike for true dudes. No, seriously: The brand’s Kickstarter ad actually says, point blank, “Bathrobes are too girly.” Wow….

And yet, almost five hundred aspiring idiots signed up for this on Kickstarter. What percentage do you wanna bet have used the phrase ‘No homo’ un-ironically?

Happy Pride Month

When I am most displeased with my country’s current trajectory, when I feel inclined to toss in the towel and move to a mythical Scandinavian country with a moderate climate that is willing to take in old crabby Americans with few marketable skills, when I despair of moving forward and feel ready to surrender to the forces of darkness, I remind myself of the remarkable progress we’ve made on gay rights, just during my lifetime.

We’ve still got a long way to go. The legal progress we’ve made is under attack, and prominent recipient of stolen goods (in)Justice Gorsuch shows eagerness to once again give force of law to the bigotry and intolerance that reigned for centuries.

But we’ve come a long way, baby. We’ve seen the White House lit up in rainbow colors to celebrate marriage equality as the law of the land. (Thank you, President Obama!) A new generation of young adults rightly believes that love is love.

It wasn’t that way when I came of age in the 80s, during the plague years. The president at that time wouldn’t speak the name of the disease that was killing my friends in their youth. Degenerate, money-grubbing preachers gained political ascendency by telling us AIDS was God’s judgment.

Closer to home during those dark times, I tried to be wing-woman to a beloved gay sister and had a ring-side seat to witness her struggles for acceptance within the family, and in the world. Through her bravery, and the bravery of millions of people who refused to accept second-class citizenship, refused to pretend to be someone other than who they are, the world changed.

A couple for nearly as long as myself and the mister, my sister and her spouse are now legally married, as of a few years back (I was allowed to marry when the Macarena was the hot new dance craze hereabouts). It’s a recurring joke between my sister and me: how easy it is for kids today, especially my gay kid, who never felt pressure — from her family, anyway — to hide her own beautiful self nor conform to someone else’s definition of “normal.”

I could write a “War and Peace”-length account of her struggles, a shame-filled treatise on my fuck-ups as a parent, an angry tirade on how schools and laws and institutions and society failed and still fail LGBTQ kids and adults. I in no way want to minimize the obstacles and injustices they face.

But yes, progress has been made, and Pride celebrations throughout the land have marked the occasion, even if the current clown in the White House and his beady-eyed, homophobic VP fail to do so. I recall the chant repeated in an ACT UP demonstration I attended so many years ago: “We’re here, we’re queer, we’re fabulous! Get used to it!”

And for the most part, America, to its credit, did get used to it. Not everyone. It’ll never be everyone. But enough of us to form a critical mass, I think. We’ll guard our progress and push it forward every day. But there’s plenty to be proud of, even in this shitty epoch. So, Happy Pride!

Good News — If We Can Keep It

According to the Washington Post:

The White House said late Monday night that it will keep the Obama administration protections extended to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers, responding to reports that the orders would be reversed.

“President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of L.G.B.T.Q. rights, just as he was throughout the election,” the White House said in a statement. “The president is proud to have been the first ever G.O.P. nominee to mention the L.G.B.T.Q. community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression.”…

The executive order Obama signed in 2014 had two parts. It expanded protections in federal hiring, which already barred discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, to also include gender identity. And it required all companies doing business with the federal government to have explicit policies barring discrimination against gay and transgender workers.

The move was significant because it applied to 24,000 companies that collectively employed about 28 million workers — representing about a fifth of the U.S. workforce…

Status will probably change — possibly more than once! — before most of you get to read this, but I’m kinda hoping Trump’s angry enough at his Talibangelical allies-of-convenience for falsely assuring him that everybody would lurve his #MuslimBan that he’ll refuse to grant them their dearest domestic-sadism wish out of pure spite. Trump seems to have no more animus towards LGBTQ people than he does the rest of us humans; as long as they’ve got something he wants (like Peter Thiel’s money) he’s a universalist. And with the ongoing normalisation of “unChristian” gender values — the Boy Scouts now allow transgender children to join their local troops! — there’s just not sufficient positive publicity for the President-Asterisk to risk any more popularity points just to make Mike Pence shut up for a few days.

And Now for the Gay Bashing

We’ll see. Part of me is wondering if this is a mole hunt inside the WH and this leak is just a chance for Bannon to find the source of leaks, because this would be so unpopular and cause such a shitstorm that it would be mind blowing. Not to mention, Trump was not openly an anti-gay bigot, not that his word amounts to anything.

Then again, another theory is that Trump really does have Alzheimers or mental issues and the Pence/Sessions bible thumper section is just pushing as much through as they can while Trump is still in office.

Fuck these motherfuckers either way.

Jeff Sessions: Not A Good Man, or An Honest Legislator

Nor are his fellow Republicans, no matter how “nice” they may appear to the Media Village Idiots. Per the Washington Post:

Sen. Cory Booker testified Wednesday that Sen. Jeff Sessions is the wrong man to lead the Justice Department, saying the Alabama Republican’s lengthy record in Congress exposed views that are inconsistent with the venerated job he is seeking.

“If confirmed, Senator Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won’t,” Booker said. “He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian and transgender Americans, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but the record indicates that he won’t.”

The remarks marked the first time a sitting senator has testified against a colleague’s nomination for a Cabinet post, and they were among the most notable in Sessions’s two-day confirmation hearing.

In total, legislators heard testimony from 15 supporters and detractors, and Sessions answered questions over more than 101/2 hours. Nothing that was said was likely to stop the Republican-controlled Senate from confirming him, with Democrats failing to land anything close to a fatal blow during the hearing…

Sessions is generally well liked in the Senate, despite views that draw polarized responses. To those in law enforcement and conservative legal circles, he is an honorable man, dedicated to enforcing the law no matter his personal feelings. To civil rights advocates, immigrant advocates and others, his record makes him a troubling selection to lead the Justice Department…

Charles P. Pierce, at Esquire:

As far as a political tactic for attaining a government job that makes sensible people blanch at the very thought of your assuming it, unremitting banality in the face of questioning, harsh or otherwise, has served people very, very well. This was why, on the first day of the hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee as to his nomination to be Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions wielded unremitting banality so masterfully that butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth and, even if it did, he would be polite and not mention in polite society that he had a mouthful of melted butter, nor spit it into the ashtrays, either. I’m not kidding. If you bought what he was selling, Sessions made Atticus Finch sound like James K. Vardaman.

You know all that really bad stuff he said when he was a senator, and when he was out on the stump pitching for El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago? Forget about all of that, because he’s going to be the Attorney General now, so none of that counts, no backsies. When he called the NAACP and the ACLU “un-American” organizations back during the 1980s, he only meant in the context of their opposition to the various excellent Reagan Administration adventures in Central America, and then only because he thought their opposition to our proxy death squads would damage the “historic” record of achievement enjoyed by both organizations…

The “good” news, FWIW, is that Sessions and his defenders at least feel themselves compelled to lie about his history and his beliefs. Dave Weigel got assigned to look for the pony in the pile:

Noteworthy, too, is the way Sessions and the Trump transition team decided to handle his confirmation hearing. Sessions didn’t mention Trump in his opening statement other than to thank him for the nomination. And even before senators questioned him about the allegations of racism that led the GOP-controlled Judiciary Committee to reject his nomination to the federal bench in 1986, Sessions preemptively defended himself against “damnably false charges.”

The guest seats were filled by the likes of Al Sharpton, Khizr Khan, members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), now the top Democrat on the panel, noted that “there is so much fear in this country . . . particularly in the African American community.”

Sessions said the “caricature of me in 1986” was wrong. “I did not harbor the kind of animosities and race-based discrimination ideas that I was accused of. I did not.”…

Sessions said it was “very painful” to be identified as a racist. He said he saw “systematic and powerful” racism in the South. “I know we need to do better,” Sessions said. “We can never go back.”

Does he believe that? We’ll see…

Much more below the fold — including a few quotes from Sessions’ defenders, at the very end.

From Politico, “Sessions faces decision on politicizing Justice Department“:

Donald Trump suggested on the campaign trail that he could use the Justice Department to fulfill his political agenda, taunting Hillary Clinton by threatening to throw her in jail over her email scandal.

Now, Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, will have to decide whether to follow his predecessors by vowing to not let politics drive the DOJ’s decision-making.

The idea that the Justice Department should be free from political interference is not rooted in any statute or explicit constitutional provision. Instead, it evolved through a series of internal policy memos and letters issued by past Justice Department officials from both parties, according to a POLITICO review of historical records.

Sessions, as attorney general, could decide to abandon or overhaul those policies, a concern heightened by Trump’s suggestions during the campaign that he could pursue politically motivated prosecutions.

Notably, Sessions’ nomination is now in the hands of some of the same Republicans who pushed for tougher firewalls between the White House and the Justice Department during the Clinton administration. Those senators, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Orrin Hatch of Utah, have not raised the issue in throwing their support behind Sessions, who faces his first day of confirmation hearings on Tuesday.

“This is the biggest question Jeff Sessions has to answer,” said Matt Miller, a former spokesman for Attorney General Eric Holder, who left office in 2015. “Attorneys general have always established it’s not appropriate for the White House to influence prosecutorial or investigative decisions. But there’s no law or regulation. If they want to change it, they can change it.”…


If Only Democrats Would Stop It with the Identity Politics

Hate merchants:

Earlier this month, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Mike Lee of Utah, through his spokesperson, told Buzzfeed they plan to reintroduce an embattled bill that barely gained a House hearing in 2015. But this time around, they said, the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) was likely to succeed due to a Republican-controlled House and the backing of President-elect Donald Trump.

FADA would prohibit the federal government from taking “discriminatory action” against any business or person that discriminates against LGBTQ people. The act distinctly aims to protect the right of all entities to refuse service to LGBTQ people based on two sets of beliefs: “(1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”

Ironically, the language of the bill positions the right to discriminate against one class of Americans as a “first amendment” right, and bans the government from taking any form of action to curb such discrimination—including withholding federal funds from institutions that discriminate. FADA allows individuals and businesses to sue the federal government for interfering in their right to discriminate against LGBTQ people and would mandate the Attorney General defend the businesses.

On December 9, Sen. Lee’s spokesperson, Conn Carroll, told Buzzfeed the election of Trump had cleared a path for the passage of FADA.

“Hopefully November’s results will give us the momentum we need to get this done next year,” Carroll said. “We do plan to reintroduce FADA next Congress and we welcome Trump’s positive words about the bill.”

It’s time for us to revisit something.

Friday Evening Open Thread: Canvassing Social Notes


Apart from GOTV, what’s on the agenda as we start the weekend?


Join Democrats Abroad for our fifth Global Town Hall of 2016 with special guest George Takei

Monday, October 24,

8:00 AM EDT (Washington DC time) by video-conference

Our very own Martha McDevitt-Pugh, DNC Member, Vice-Chair in the Netherlands, and Chair of the LGBT Caucus, will start things off by discussing the Democrats Abroad LGBT Caucus and Advocacy Work.

George Takei will be sharing his thoughts with DA about what really makes America great, why he supports Hillary for President — and why we must win the White House and Take Back Congress.