Tag Archives: 2016 presidential election

Dilma, Cristina, Michelle and Hillary

Women Presidents of the AmericasIf there are any contemporaries to whom Hillary Clinton can be compared, they would be Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina and Michelle Bachelet of Chile.

They all succeeded their immediate male partisan predecessors: in Dilma’s case, the hugely consequential Lula da Silva of Brazil, both of the Workers’ Party; in CFK’s case, her husband Nestor Kirchner, both of the Peronist Justicialist Party; in Michelle’s first case, her predecessor Ricardo Lagos, both from the Coalition of Parties for Democracy. Hillary is on course to do the same with Barack Obama, both of the Democratic Party.

Dilma, Michelle and CFK, all left-leaning but much too economically-neoliberal-leaning to those further to the left, led problematic administrations and made fateful decisions which have inspired free-market-liberal backlash, and were the first, first and second female heads of state for their countries, respectively.

The decisions of Dilma, a social progressive who tacks to the free market, happened during a steep economic decline for Brazil but also tamped down on World Cup-related working-class protest, which did not endear her to the Workers Party’s base or target demographic. She has now been suspended awaiting impeachment for unclarified, politicized charges of corruption (which also await the majority of the Brazilian Congress) and sits under house arrest, and her ambitious former VP from a different, further-right party (the PMDB) now faces his own protests for corruption, racism and the ongoing recession in the America’s “sleeping giant”.

Meanwhile CFK’s decisions tacked harder to the populist left, particularly on Argentina’s long-running default to foreign investors. She was socially progressive, especially on LGBT rights. She herself faced scrutiny for an ability to play political, Louisiana-style hardball with her opponents in very problematic, colorful ways. She saw many political enemies, and faced criticism for corruption, poor relations with the press, and a face off with the agricultural sector. She was also suspected of being “controlled” by her husband until he himself died from cancer in 2010. CFK’s administration lasted much longer than the first woman to hold such office, Isabel Peron; Isabel, who was Juan Peron’s third wife and was the first female republican head of state in the world from 1974 to 1976, inherited a very problematic, economically-undermined administration which resulted in the coup of 1976 and her ongoing exile to Spain.

And Michelle Bachelet, a social progressive who is currently serving her second non-consecutive term as president (as per the constitution), is currently facing a low popularity level due to both an ongoing economic recession as well as a corruption scandal involving her family members (but not herself). Pro-LGBT, pro-women’s equality, openly identifying herself as a socialist in a country which was once ran by Augusto Pinochet and, like Brazil and Argentina, subjected to the bloody Plan Condor/La Guerra Sucia, Michelle came into office with an equal number of women and men in her cabinet.

Dilma, CFK, Michelle. All the few or first women to hold a presidency in the Americas. All center-left and progressive. All complicated, consequential, recent republican heads of state in the Americas who eventually get blamed for recession and/or corruption. All partisan inheritors of their highly-popular immediate male predecessors in office who end up defining themselves and striking it big for women’s equality in government. All held up to standards which demand less of men than of women.

Hillary, as president, may find herself in company populated by recent presidents of the other large nations of the Americas.

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Hillary Clinton Flubs on Reagans’ AIDS Legacy; Issues Two Apologies

While attending the funeral of Nancy Reagan in Simi Valley, California, Clinton made the following comment to NBC News:

“It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about H.I.V./AIDS back in the 1980s. And because of both President and Mrs. Reagan – in particular, Mrs. Reagan – we started a national conversation, when before nobody would talk about it. Nobody wanted anything to do with it, and that, too, is something that I really appreciate. With her very effective, low-key advocacy … it penetrated the public conscience and people began to say: ‘Hey, we have to do something about this too.’”

Almost immediately, the fallout began. Criticism came swiftly from various quarters, not just LGBT organizations but news organizations such as Gawker; even Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (who have endorsed Clinton’s campaign), stated on Twitter that “Nancy Reagan was, sadly, no hero in the fight against H.I.V./AIDS.” A few came to her defense, such as this post at The Peoples’ View, a pro-Obama blog.

Within hours, Clinton’s campaign issued the following apology:

“While the Reagans were strong advocates for stem cell research and finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, I misspoke about her record on HIV and AIDS. For that, I’m sorry.”

Today, Clinton issued a second, much longer apology on Medium.com, which is below in full:

Yesterday, at Nancy Reagan’s funeral, I said something inaccurate when speaking about the Reagans’ record on HIV and AIDS. Since then, I’ve heard from countless people who were devastated by the loss of friends and loved ones, and hurt and disappointed by what I said. As someone who has also lost friends and loved ones to AIDS, I understand why. I made a mistake, plain and simple.

I want to use this opportunity to talk not only about where we’ve come from, but where we must go in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

To be clear, the Reagans did not start a national conversation about HIV and AIDS. That distinction belongs to generations of brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, along with straight allies, who started not just a conversation but a movement that continues to this day.

The AIDS crisis in America began as a quiet, deadly epidemic. Because of discrimination and disregard, it remained that way for far too long. When many in positions of power turned a blind eye, it was groups like ACT UP, Gay Men’s Health Crisis and others that came forward to shatter the silence — because as they reminded us again and again, Silence = Death. They organized and marched, held die-ins on the steps of city halls and vigils in the streets. They fought alongside a few courageous voices in Washington, like U.S. Representative Henry Waxman, who spoke out from the floor of Congress.

Then there were all the people whose names we don’t often hear today — the unsung heroes who fought on the front lines of the crisis, from hospital wards and bedsides, some with their last breath. Slowly, too slowly, ignorance was crowded out by information. People who had once closed their eyes opened their hearts.

If not for those advocates, activists, and ordinary, heroic people, we would not be where we are in preventing and treating HIV and AIDS. Their courage — and their refusal to accept silence as the status quo — saved lives.

We’ve come a long way. But we still have work to do to eradicate this disease for good and to erase the stigma that is an echo of a shameful and painful period in our country’s history.

This issue matters to me deeply. And I’ve always tried to do my part in the fight against this disease, and the stigma and pain that accompanies it. At the 1992 Democratic National Convention, when my husband accepted the nomination for president, we marked a break with the past by having two HIV-positive speakers — the first time that ever happened at a national convention. As First Lady, I brought together world leaders to strategize and coordinate efforts to take on HIV and AIDS around the world. In the Senate, I put forward legislation to expand global AIDS research and assistance and to increase prevention and education, and I proudly voted for the creation of PEPFAR and to defend and protect the Ryan White Act. And as secretary of state, I launched a campaign to usher in an AIDS-free generation through prevention and treatment, targeting the populations at greatest risk of contracting HIV.

The AIDS crisis looks very different today. There are more options for treatment and prevention than ever before. More people with HIV are leading full and happy lives. But HIV and AIDS are still with us. They continue to disproportionately impact communities of color, transgender people, young people and gay and bisexual men. There are still 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States today, with about 50,000 people newly diagnosed each year. In Sub-Saharan Africa, almost 60 percent of people with HIV are women and girls. Even though the tools exist to end this epidemic once and for all, there are still far too many people dying today.

That is absolutely inexcusable.

I believe there’s even more we can — and must — do together. For starters, let’s continue to increase HIV and AIDS research and invest in the promising innovations that research is producing. Medications like PrEP are proving effective in preventing HIV infection; we should expand access to that drug for everyone, including at-risk populations. We should call on Republican governors to put people’s health and well-being ahead of politics and extend Medicaid, which would provide health care to those with HIV and AIDS.

We should call on states to reform outdated and stigmatizing HIV criminalization laws. We should increase global funding for HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment. And we should cap out-of-pocket expenses and drug costs—and hold companies like Turing and Valeant accountable when they attempt to gouge patients by jacking up the price of lifesaving medications.

We’re still surrounded by memories of loved ones lost and lives cut short. But we’re also surrounded by survivors who are fighting harder than ever. We owe it to them and to future generations to continue that fight together. For the first time, an AIDS-free generation is in sight. As president, I promise you that I will not let up until we reach that goal. We will not leave anyone behind.

In summation, the apology/essay is replete with homages and references to the history of the epidemic and the fierce activists who fought against it.

One of the questions which are now being raised to this essay, and to the whole controversy sparked by her words, is “what was she thinking when she lauded the Reagans?”

Anyone can read about how Ronald Reagan didn’t utter the word “AIDS” until at least 5 years into the plague and over 20,000 people died from it in the United States; when the word was uttered by his press secretary, it was done so in jest with a homophobic crank propagandist named Les Kinsolving.

Anyone can read about the desolation in neighborhoods across the country, how it went beyond being a so-called “gay-related immunodeficiency syndrome” to becoming a “Black” disease around which conspiracy theories (on par with the Reagans’ alleged flooding of Black neighborhoods with cocaine) hover to this day. More recent knowledge shows how the Reagans did not help their “dear friend”, Hollywood actor Rock Hudson, as he suffered from AIDS and languished without a more advanced French hospital to spend his last days.

Clinton, as she stated in her essay, lived through the crisis and saw many people in her life suffer and die from the disease in the 1980s and 1990s. She was personally affected by the plague’s devastation, and I have no doubt that she was affected. She freaking went with her husband to visit AIDS quilt memorial on the National Mall.

But was she, at the time she spoke those words to Andrea Mitchell, not as knowledgeable about the deep politics and mistrust regarding the Reagan administration’s comparative lack of a response to AIDS? And if so, did she read up on that history (a la the late Randy Shilts’ powerful 1987 history book And the Band Played On, or the Cliff’s Notes version) between the first and second apologies? Even more cynical queries abound regarding this incident and the aftermath.

But given that she only mentioned the word HIV/AIDS once in that paragraph of words, my money is on her first apology’s claim of misspeaking on the Reagans’ legacy on Alzheimer’s disease. The Reagans did start a national conversation on Alzheimer’s after Reagan left office, similar to how both Michael J. Fox and radio host Ron Reagan (son of Ronald and Nancy) started the modern national conversation on Parkinson’s disease being treatable through stem cell research.

I accept this claim because the following speech at the convention which brought her spouse to power helped further raise the profile of AIDS victims to political levels.

I accept it because her spouse’s administration dramatically raised federal funding for HIV prevention and treatment, and because the Clinton Foundation has been a leading funder for HIV/AIDS research, treatment and prevention.

I don’t think there is any way that she or anyone could deliberately credit the Reagans with starting anything resembling a national conversation on, or even a timely response to, the AIDS plague.

Well, there are some who would, and they’re pretty weird:

Pink Peach News’ Voter Guide to #SuperTuesday

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Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/24101702220

So Today is Tuesday, and not just ANY Tuesday, but #SuperTuesday!

Why is it #super? What makes it much bigger than most other days throughout the American calendar?

Well, it’s one of the most important days in electoral politics, when the two big tents of American politics – the Democratic and Republican parties – hold their separate primaries in 13 states and 1 territory to decide their nominees for president. It tends to have a big impact on the decisions made by both parties later on in the year at their national conventions.

Why this election matters

This year is historic for both parties:

Democrats have an opportunity to pull a hat trick which has eluded them since the foundation of the party: succeed a two-term Democratic president with another Democratic president. The last attempt to do such was in 2000, when Vice President Al Gore made a bid to succeed two-term President Bill Clinton, but lost to Texas Governor George W. Bush under highly-controversial circumstances which ended in a Supreme Court decision handing the election to Bush. This time, either of the major Democratic candidates – Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton – are trying to succeed a two-term Democratic President, Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, Republicans face a civil war of endorsements and social media accusations between more orthodox social conservative candidates – Rubio, Cruz, Kasich and Carson – and the winner of 3/4 of Republican primaries this cycle, Donald Trump. Trump is explicitly nationalist, regularly breaks Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment (“Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican”), and has drawn a large fanbase of assorted nativists, racists and aggrieved unemployed people, both from inside and outside the party. Trump has gone from being embraced within the party for his accusations regarding President Obama’s place of birth to reviled within a large constituency of the party for his using the same tactic against Cruz and Rubio, both of Cuban descent. Trump has also cast himself as solidly against causes for racial justice and integration of immigrants.

Democrats

Pink Peach News’ preliminary decision?

Vote for a Democrat. 

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Sen. Bernie Sanders

That’s right. Both individuals have stellar records in the last few years on LGBT and women’s rights (both, in their separate careers in the Senate, voted for and co-sponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA), have had their own courses of political evolution (up til a few years ago, both were in favor of civil unions for same-sex couples rather than full marriage equality, but as elected officials, voted against anti-marriage equality bills like DOMA and the Federal Marriage Amendment), and have helped to increase the profile of LGBT people, rights and issues in the Democratic Party and progressive-liberal politics.

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Both are challenging each other on not just their evolutions, but also on issues of economic justice. Both have tactics which clash in their passion with each other: Clinton’s pragmatic reforms vs. Sanders’ revolutionary shakeup. Both can go a long way: Clinton’s experience as Secretary of State is a major plus for why she should be our next President, while Sanders’ long-running protest of our political and economic system is a useful critique for America to be better in our conduct than our past.

Warts and all, both candidates have offered much to LGBT people, to women, and to people of color in their own times as elected officials.

Republicans

The Republicans in this cycle have offered nothing to the advancement of LGBT people, and are currently legislating to make us second-class citizens. All GOP candidates for president – Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Carson and Kasich – have pledged to roll back marriage rights for same-sex couples. This negatively affects ALL LGBT people in Georgia and around the country.

In my capacity as editor of Pink Peach News, I make no endorsement for Republicans in this election. Either Democratic candidate this cycle is more advantageous to LGBT people than any Republican candidate. The GOP way is a no-go for this cycle.

Readers, after you check your registration status and find your voting station, please vote for a Democrat today. Your rights and posterity depend on it.

Columbus Activist Patricia Lassiter is Covered in Washington Blade Story

Local activist Patricia Lassiter, a tireless advocate for LGBT and liberal causes in Columbus (and a friend who I’ve worked with since 2014), was interviewed by the Washington Blade in D.C. for a story on Black LGBT voters supporting Hillary Clinton’s run for president:

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Patricia Lassiter. Photo (c) Patricia Lassiter. 

Patricia Lassiter, a 52-year-old black lesbian in Columbus, Ga., said she’s casting her vote for Clinton on Super Tuesday because the candidate “going to hit the ground running” once she occupies the White House.
“We need a strong, unified party, and with Hillary, we’ll have a unified party, we’ll have a person who has so much experience — not just domestically, but foreign policy — and she thinks on her feet, and she’s not afraid of anything,” Lassiter said.
A member of the Georgia Democratic Party LGBT caucus as well as Georgia Equality and Georgia Unites, Lassiter said she’s making phone calls into all caucus states, walking neighborhoods and attending rallies for Clinton.

Go Patricia!

via Black LGBT voters on why they back Clinton.

That Video of then-Sen. Clinton Supporting a Ban on Same-sex Marriage? Out of Context

The Democratic presidential nomination race has heated up considerably in the last several months. January saw a particular eruption happen when both Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for the presidency. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has the better lifetime grade on his voting record from the HRC (Sanders: 100%, Clinton 89%) and ties with Clinton for a full 100% rating from PP, controversially derided the endorsements, saying “some of these groups are part of the Democratic establishment”, which elicited critical reactions from PP, HRC and the Clinton campaign via social media:

On social media, many pro-LGBT supporters of Sanders (example), and even some anti-LGBT and anti-Clinton partisans, have frequently trafficked the following clip from then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-New York) speaking in defense of keeping marriage to a “sacred bond between a man and a woman” in July 2004:

Now enter the Log Cabin Republicans, the organization of LGBT-identifying GOP members, using the clip in a new ad to slam Clinton’s record on LGBT issues:

However as she spoke in the earlier part of the 2000s against legalizing same-sex marriage while senator, the clip of the Senate floor speech as shown in the first YouTube video is out of context, as noted today by The Advocate. The longer 17-minute video, from C-SPAN, shows Clinton speaking against a proposed constitutional amendment, the Federal Marriage Amendment.

In the full video (which can’t be embedded here due to WordPress.com’s restrictions), Clinton defends the so-called 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as a statutory preservation of the “sacred bond”, but criticizes the focus of the GOP on same-sex marriage as a greater malady to the institution of marriage than the growing divorce rate.

From the transcript, via The Advocate:

“Is it really marriage that we’re protecting here? I believe that marriage should be protected. I believe that marriage is essential, but I don’t for the life of me understand how amending the Constitution of the United States with respect to same-gender marriages really gets to the root of the problem of marriage in America,” said Clinton, after calling out the growing divorce rate.

Clinton’s point was that opposing a ban doesn’t mean she’s less committed to the “traditional” role of marriage, but she called on Republicans to take more care in considering any amendment to the Constitution, which she called “one of the greatest documents in the history of humanity.”

She implored them to spend more time finding ways to combat al Qaeda, especially since everyone knew the marriage amendment lacked enough votes to pass.

As noted in the linked Wikipedia article, after being filibustered by Clinton and others, the legislation went on to be denied a hearing in the Senate and was withdrawn. It was then refiled in the House (in which Sanders was a member), going on to fall short of the required 290 votes for passage in the GOP-majority House (227 yea, 180 nay). The following session (2005-2006), the bill faced a similar fate, failing the Senate cloture vote, being refiled in the House, and falling short of the 290 votes (two-thirds) required for passage (237 yea-187 nay). The FMA has never seen another floor vote in either chamber of Congress since 2006.

Finally, it must be noted that the Log Cabin Republicans’ critique of Clinton comes from a very problematic place, as plainly noted by Joe Jervis:

In 2012 the Log Cabin Republicans endorsed Mitt Romney after he signed NOM’s hate pledge to support placing a ban on same-sex marriage into to the US Constitution. Today they have a problem with Hillary Clinton on the same issue.

It is understandable as the Log Cabin Republicans are what they say they are (Republicans), but why didn’t the LCR exercise to FMA-supporter Romney in 2012 the sort of discretion that they exercised to FMA-supporter George W. Bush in 2004?

The national board of directors of Log Cabin Republicans voted 22 to 2 not to endorse the reelection of President George W. Bush at a meeting on Sept. 7.

[…]”Certain moments in history require that a belief in fairness and equality not be sacrificed in the name of partisan politics; this is one of those moments,” Patrick Guerriero, executive director of LCR said in a conference call with reporters. The decision not to endorse “empowers Log Cabin to maintain its integrity while furthering our goal of building a more inclusive Republican Party.”

“There is a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party, and that fight is bigger than one platform, one convention, or even one President,” he said. “We have made it clear that we can either be the party of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani or we can be the party of Alan Keyes and Rick Santorum.”

“Some will accuse us of being disloyal,” Guerriero continued. “However, it was actually the White House who was disloyal to the 1,000,000 gay and lesbian Americans who supported him four years ago.” He castigated the President’s support of the Federal Marriage Amendment. “Using gays and lesbians as wedge issue in an election year is unacceptable to Log Cabin.”

“It is impossible to overstate the depth of anger and disappointment caused by the President’s support for an anti-family Constitutional Amendment. This amendment would not only ban gay marriage, it would also jeopardize civil unions and domestic partnerships,” said Chris Barron, political director of LCR.

And how can one expect the Log Cabins to endorse a candidate this election cycle given that even the least anti-LGBT and most-currently-gaining GOP candidate, Donald Trump, opposes marriage equality AND civil unions?

Human Rights Campaign Endorses Hillary Clinton for President (w/ Video)

Via Press Release:

The Human Rights Campaign, (HRC) the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today announced its endorsement of Hillary Clinton for President. HRC’s Board of Directors, comprised of 32 community leaders from across the nation, unanimously voted to endorse Secretary Clinton — an endorsement she will accept next Sunday, January 24 at an event in Des Moines, Iowa with HRC President Chad Griffin and the organization’s members and supporters.

Today’s endorsement comes at a time when the stakes could not be higher for the LGBT community. Over the last seven years under President Obama’s leadership, the nation has made substantial progress on LGBT equality — from the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” to his Executive Order protecting LGBT employees of federal contractors from discrimination, to his historic support for nationwide marriage equality, to signing landmark hate crimes legislation, speaking out against so-called “conversion therapy,” and working to protect LGBT students. Despite the fact that a majority of Republican and Independent voters today support federal protections for LGBT Americans, the leading Republican candidates for president have threatened to halt progress as well as revoke, repeal, and overturn the gains made during President Obama’s two terms.

HRC President Chad Griffin said, “All the progress we have made as a nation on LGBT equality — and all the progress we have yet to make — is at stake in November. In most states, LGBT people are still at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services simply because of who they are. Today, 63 percent of LGBT Americans report having experienced such discrimination, and we are seeing other troubling trends, from the onslaught of state and local anti-LGBT measures to the national scourge of anti-transgender violence to backsliding on HIV/AIDS prevention and youth homelessness. Against this backdrop, we’ve heard the leading Republican presidential candidates repeatedly threaten to block our progress, and to revoke, repeal, and overturn the gains we’ve made during President Obama’s two terms.

“While they fight to take us backwards, Hillary Clinton is fighting to advance LGBT equality across our nation and throughout the world. We are proud to endorse Hillary Clinton for president, and believe that she is the champion we can count on in November — and every day she occupies the Oval Office.”