Protests Only Work When It Hurts…

It’s funny the things that will come up when you’re in the process of moving. During me and my wife’s latest move from the foothills of North Carolina to the Gulf Coast of Florida, I happened across probably one of the more disappointing moments from this year (at least until possibly the election in November)…

Springsteen.png

Now, the seats weren’t fantastic – in fact, they were at the other end of the arena from where the stage was situated. But they were square on with the stage and would have offered a great opportunity to see much of the crowd enjoying the show from Bruce, one of the legendary performers in rock history (I could tell stories about seeing him in 1980 for a six-plus hour show, but we’ll save that for another time). My wife and I were eagerly anticipating the show as it had been many years since either of us had been able to see “The Boss” in action.

Then the North Carolina General Assembly and asswipe Governor Pat McCrory got their panties in a bunch.

In February, the Charlotte City Council passed an ordinance extending protections to the lesbian/bisexual/gay/transgender (LGBT) community. A part of this ordinance – and the issue that sparked the most controversy – was the provision for allowing people to use the restroom of their gender identity, rather than that of whichever sex they were born. In essence, the ordinance allowed those who were in the process of shifting from one sex to another to use the restroom of that other sex (male transgendered individuals could use female restrooms and vice versa).

The response by McCrory and the GOP-dominated North Carolina legislature (which has been gerrymandered to make it virtually impossible for a balanced legislature to occur – witness the THREE TIMES that the federal government has called the state’s legislative districts unconstitutional) was immediate. Convening a special session of the General Assembly (one outside the normal working times of the legislative body), McCrory and his henchmen pushed through HB2, a bill that was so overreaching in its aim it was destined for the “unconstitutional” bin almost from the start.

Not only did that bill immediately set that “all people” had to use the restroom of the birth sex, but it also removed the right for minorities and the LGBT community to sue through the state court system for discrimination. It included a provision that prevented individual cities from enacting their own laws that differentiated from state statutes. With many Democratic representatives protesting by leaving the voting floor, the statute passed through the General Assembly with only about 12 HOURS of overall discussion.

This was the end of March and, within days, the impact was felt. Several local productions in theaters around the Tar Heel State reported that the rights holders to significant stage productions (plays) were pulling their approval for performance over the bill. The streaming provider Hulu pulled the production of a program they had set for airing out of North Carolina over the bill and PayPal suspended expansion of its operations center in the state. This was but the tip of the iceberg, however.

allstarcanceled

Many entertainment artists have also pulled out of shows that they were scheduled to perform, including “The Boss,” Pearl Jam, Boston, Bryan Adams, Ani DiFranco, Ringo Starr, Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato and Cirque du Soleil. The real thunder came down, however, over the past couple of months, first with the National Basketball Association’s removal of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game from Charlotte. Then, just yesterday, the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) removed SEVEN championship games or playoff sites from the state, citing the law as the reason. All totaled, the loss of business regarding all of these repercussions could total to as much as half a billion dollars by the year anniversary of HB2’s passage, with the NBA All-Star Game accounting for about $100 million of that total, and could even impact future business in the state.

The reason this came back to me was not only a result of the move. Finding that ticket stub for an unused concert was simply the catalyst for a reply to model Kate Upton’s Twitter hissy fit over athletes not standing for the National Anthem. Of course, over the weekend was the opening weekend of the National Football League season (and the 15th anniversary of 9/11, just coincidentally) and, following in the footsteps of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s continuing protest against inequality in the United States, some players either did not stand for, knelt in protest or displayed the “Black Power” salute as the National Anthem played. This bunched Upton’s panties, who stated, “This is unacceptable. You should be proud to be an American. Especially on 9/11 when we should support each other.”

The continued attention being drawn to what has now become a movement (hey, if a subject catches the nation’s attention for more than two years – yes, it’s been that long since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, widely considered the spur – it is a movement) is only done when a protest has an impact. Kaepernick has been vocal in the past regarding the issues of black people in the United States and their treatment at the hands of law enforcement, but no one was paying any attention to what he was saying. It wasn’t until his act of defiance of not standing for the National Anthem – and attention was drawn to the fact that he was doing it – that there became a national conversation (admittedly sometimes not about what Kaepernick wanted to talk about, as with Upton’s attempt at using her First Amendment rights by silencing Kaepernick’s, but still there was discussion).

nflprotest

For a protest to have an impact, there are a couple of things that it should have. It has to have some financial teeth, some fiscal bite, that pushes some to reconsider their positions (it also has to have a side that understands those fiscal implications – apparently North Carolina Republicans are morons if they issue this response). Along with that, it should have some emotional impact on people. There were plenty that were upset over Springsteen’s decision to not perform in North Carolina, just as there are more than likely many upset that Demi Lovato didn’t come to North Carolina or that LeBron James won’t be making an appearance during the NBA All-Star Game in the state. A protest only works when it hurts, either physically or emotionally. That is what makes a protest enact the change that comes about (eventually) with issues.

I’m putting those unused Bruce Springsteen tickets back in the desk as a reminder to myself for a couple of reasons. One, something has to be lost (in some cases) for a protest to have its desired effect, and Two, there is the ability to protest at all levels, from the richest of us all to the poorest. It will be some time before the protests of the actions in North Carolina and the national discussion of inequality are adequately addressed, but hopefully it is sooner than later.

Advertisements

The GOP: Ready to Party Like It’s 1799

GOPConvention

Despite the fact that more than half of their constituency would rather there be a raging dumpster fire in the middle of Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH, instead of the coronation of a dipshit as the party leader, the Republican Party will open its 2016 National Convention on Monday night. Yes, the Grand Old Party, the Party of such legendary statesmen as Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, will (from appearances) nominate a fascist in Donald Drumpf, devoid of any actual governmental leadership, and his almost-as-fanatical henchman Mike Pence (we’ll get to him in a moment) come Thursday night. What will go on between Monday and then? That promises to be the intriguing question.

Political conventions, by tradition, are about as exciting as having your wisdom teeth removed, but they are also almost as old as the country itself. The first political convention was held back in 1831, when the Anti-Masonic Party (if you can’t guess, they were against the Masonic Order and its influence on politics – and we think we created some of those conspiracy theories!) met in Philadelphia to nominate William Wirt as its candidate for President. The National Republican Party (not today’s brand) also held its first convention in 1831 in Baltimore (nominating Henry Clay for President) and the Democratic Party held their first convention in 1832, also in Baltimore (nominating Martin Van Buren). The eventual winner of that 1832 election? Incumbent President Andrew Jackson, who crushed the opposition in getting 54% of the popular vote and obliterated the opposition in racking up 219 electoral votes (his closest competitor, Clay, received 49).

Since that time, the major parties in U. S. politics have met every four years to go through the process of nominating their candidate for the Presidency. As the years have gone on, these conventions have become a way for the individual parties to put on their best look for the citizens of the United States by showing off their up-and-coming leaders and portraying their ideals as the “future of America.” They have also shown the major problems that can occur inside a political organization, from outrage over the leaders chosen to actual physical battles on the floor of the convention and outside the convention hall.

RepublicanClownCar

In 2016, the GOP didn’t even wait until the convention to fuck things up. They did that from the start following the 2014 midterm elections with a clown car assortment of 17 Presidential primary candidates that basically ensured that whoever emerged from the nomination process would be doing so without even a majority of the votes from PEOPLE IN THE PARTY. For all his crowing about drawing the most votes in the GOP primary, the Orangutan Mutant didn’t get more votes that the three men who followed him – Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich (who will not attend the convention of his party BEING HELD IN HIS STATE). This isn’t even counting the votes that went to other candidates, such as former Governor Jeb Bush, current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham or “whatever the hell they do” candidates such as Carly Fiorina and Dr. Ben Carson (and this is just a part of the clown car), prior to their departure from the race.

Faced with the potential for a xenophobic, misogynistic and fascist candidate taking the helm of their party, many in the GOP have been looking for ways to get FAR away from Der Drumpf. Adding an intriguing possibility of the proverbial monkey wrench into the engine’s inner workings, these “Never Trump” people are fighting a battle on the platform and probably will stage some sort of demonstration on the convention floor at least one night of the gathering (and hopefully every night). Perhaps they can do it well enough that it will hide the embarrassment of the party for the way they are putting on their very own convention.

Because the convention has been beset with organizations and groups leaving it like rats evacuating a sinking ship, the GOP hasn’t got enough money to be able to pay for the week’s stay in Cleveland. The organizers for the Republican National Convention are groveling at the feet of conservative mega donor Sheldon Adelson for an influx of cash – about $6 million worth – to offset the costs for the convention. As of two days prior to the start of the “great celebration of conservatism,” Adelson has yet to respond to the letter.

Then there’s the actual platform that the GOP has pushed through. Instead of taking the approach that the party discussed in 2013 following the crushing defeat they took at the hands of President Barack Obama – including attempting to reach out to minorities, adjusting their stance on immigration and following a pro-trade path with the international community – the 2016 version of the GOP has decided to follow Drumpf in jackboot step. Some of the planks that have been put into the GOP platform make it look like they’re ready to party like its 1799, let alone 1999.

NYDailyNewsPrick

First off is the idiotic suggestion from Mr. Oompah Loompah to erect a blockade wall on the southern border of the U. S. The GOP ACTUALLY IS ENDORSING this idea, although they don’t call it a “wall” but a “physical barrier” to be erected. This “wall,” which would cost upwards of $25 BILLION to build (and would never stand to Constitutional review, as Der Drumpf would have to take land rights from their legal owners to do it), is just the tip of the draconian immigration policy that would be pushed by the GOP (including deportation of 11 million people, as Drumpf has desired).

Next is the continued drive by the Republican Party to roll back LGBT rights, in particular marriage equality. This is despite the fact that their VERY OWN CANDIDATE said he would be “the best candidate” for the LGBT community. Also working its way into the platform was the GOP insistence on “bathroom bills” such as the one that passed in North Carolina, HB2, that mandates a person use the facilities of their birth sex. I personally want to see actress Laverne Cox of “Orange is the New Black” looking Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in the eye when they both enter the men’s room at Quicken Loans Arena – I’d bet that platform plank would be removed before the end of the night.

On international trade, the GOP has sucked up to the teats of Drumpf again, calling for “renegotiation of trade pacts” so as to “not allow foreign governments to limit access to their markets while stealing our designs, patents…and technology.” Guess who that little tidbit is aimed at? This is despite the factor that the trade pacts – such as NAFTA (now entering its third decade of existence) and the yet-to-be-ratified Trans-Pacific Pact, which has the support of both Democrats and Republicans – normally help to keep prices down (this isn’t to say they are entirely outstanding; a side effect is manufacturing jobs moving to areas that pay employees less).

The GOP and Drumpf have stated that the Convention with be a cavalcade of stars, including a “Winner’s Night” leading up to Der Drumpf being named commandant…err, I mean, the GOP Presidential nominee. This cavalcade of stars includes such names as Natalie Gulbis, the 484th best woman golfer on the planet (and, if you didn’t notice by the ranking, she hasn’t won much lately), actor Antonio Sabato, Jr. and actress Kimberlin Brown (and if you can name anything they’ve done, you have way too much time on your hands), not exactly the “star power” that you might like to help unveil your highly disliked candidate. Toss in his kids – who’ll be afraid to say anything remotely bad about Herr Father lest he disinherit them – and people Drumpf has been walking on for at least a year now (Christie, Carson and Scott Walker, for example) and it becomes a “who gives a rat’s ass” gathering of nothingness. (The four demon spawn of Drumpf equal the same number of sitting Senators who’ll speak at the convention.)

Then there’s the jewel that is Pence (told you we’d get back to him). Pence has shown himself to be just to the right of Genghis Khan in his ruling abilities. As Governor of Indiana, he led the drive for a religious segregation law that allowed people to discriminate on the basis of their religious beliefs. But when queried about it by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Pence could not say that the new law wouldn’t prevent people from using it to discriminate against LGBT persons and that it was wrong to discriminate against them. EIGHT TIMES Pence was given the opportunity to say LGBT people shouldn’t be discriminated against and EIGHT TIMES he couldn’t bring himself to say those words. (Pence later signed a law that explicitly said the religious freedoms law could not be used to discriminate against anyone “regardless of race, gender or sexual proclivities”…but only after facing the withdrawal of a significant amount of business from the state.)

MikePence

Second, Representative Pence (member of Congress, 2001-13) was into shutting the government down over Planned Parenthood while Cruz was still handling the “dildo case” documents in Texas. Furthermore, during his tenure as Indiana governor, Pence pushed through the most heinous anti-abortion laws in the nation, including a law that made it mandatory that the aborted fetus had to have full funeral or cremation rights performed. Fortunately for anyone that is sane, the courts struck down that and other provisions of the Indiana law passed in March of this year before they went into effect.

You wonder why the “Trump/Pence” logo was fucking the United States? That’s what they’d do if they were elected. (They have since switched to just the names of the candidates and the idiotic “Make America Great Again” statement.)

The entirety of the Republican National Convention should be a train wreck, played out over national television as the GOP embarrasses themselves even further. With their unwanted leaders in Drumpf and Pence to their unwanted hangers-on in Christie and whatever D-list actor or politician wants to put their two cents in as to how great Der Drumpf is, it will be another week of embarrassment for the Republican Party. But that’s their standard they are bearing for the 2016 election…perhaps they’ll be ready the next time around, if they haven’t splintered into warring factions by the next election.

GOPLogoBroke