Hoisted by their own Petards

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Their self-inflicted foolishness based on the conscious choice not to learn facts would be comical if it didn’t have serious consequences to so many.

Rather than understand what “Transgender” actually means, many people stubbornly want to hold that it is merely a man wearing dress, and because of that, they do not want a man wearing a dress going into the ladies’ room looking for sexual prey.

They do not understand that a Transgender person doesn’t want that either.

There are states that have passed, or are attempting to pass, a “Bathroom bill”, an action whose name displays their lack of understanding and their desire to keep the decision as simple as possible because a toilet is easier to understand and takes no effort to, than it does to take the time to learn what Transgender is and that it has been around as long as there have been people.

Donald Trump, pandering to the bigotry based on chosen ignorance, has decided that the safety of Transgender students should be at the whim of the personal, religious, and political beliefs of the people in the legislatures of the individual states.

And, of course, he too has reduced it all down to where a high school kid pees.

Those who actively and openly oppose science, have decided that a person is what is on their birth certificate, and that a person must be identified as what is on there, and all their life’s actions must be based on that.

But recently, an example of how this simplistic approach can trip up even their own argument came up recently in Texas.

Mack Beggs, a 17 year old high school wrestler was designated “female” according to his birth certificate, but it became obvious as he was growing, that that was wrong.  To be truly himself, he began transitioning to male over the past two years.

If people took the time to learn, they would know this was not his getting up one morning because he “felt like a girl that day”, but it is a long and serious process.

To transition from who it appeared he was to who he truly is, part of his process is to take testosterone, he male hormone, to help with his transition.

A Texas rule says he must wrestle in the category that matches the gender on his birth certificate, and the rule was upheld by 95% of Texas superintendents.

Mr. Beggs, therefore, has to wrestle as a female wrestler.

Parents weren’t happy with this, a thing many Texans support, because they see his testosterone regimen as enhancements that are not allowed in sports.

But to me, if they thought a little, this is like a person taking post-op pain killers. This is not done to make the person super pain free, but to keep them from feeling pain, to bring hm to a level of normalcy. If they have no pain, taking the pain pills is an “enhancement” commonly known as opioid abuse.

This kid is not taking testosterone to become a super man, but to transition to the man he is.

On Saturday, Mack Beggs won the girls 6A state wrestling title in the 110-pound weight class giving him a 56-0 record.

He was booed when he won his championship match.

Although they reject his reality, in this case people do not think a boy should wrestle girls, but they still think he should use the ladies’ room at school.

In a bit or uninformed irony, remember, Mack Beggs knows he is male and it was not his choice to be kept on the girls’ team, a parent complained,

 “She’s standing there holding her head high like she’s the winner. She’s not winning. She’s cheating. If you want to play the games, you have to play it fair. I don’t care what sex you are. Don’t go on the mat with enhancement if my kid can’t.”

But let’s redo that quote so, perhaps, even this parent  can see why knowledge is important.

“She’s He’s standing there holding her his head high like she’s he’s the winner. She’s he’s not winning. She’s he’s cheating.”

Actually ma’am the blame goes to those who refuse to accept he is a male.

Beggs prefers to wrestle boys, but hasn’t tried challenging the rules out of fear that he could end up being barred from wrestling, an easier decision to make than for those making the decision to take the time to learn

“I would rather have a chance to compete than not compete at all,” he said.

This controversy should get people thinking, and perhaps learning.

If not, you are simply reaping what your willful ignorance has sown.

They weren’t lying.

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It’s not like you can jump into your car and get away from it if you live on Cape Cod. If an accident happens at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant, you have to drive into the danger zone to get away from the Cape, and the Atlantic Ocean pretty much keeps you from driving in the opposite direction.

The chances something could go wrong is increased by the plant having passed it expiration date a number of year ago so it is operating on borrowed time, and it’s being plagued by one problem after another.

In spite of its many problems, the plant is being allowed to stay in operation until 2019.

That gives it a two year window to have an accident. And it only takes one accident to do great damage.

I have driven my car on some very long trips. I used it constantly when I lived on Cape Cod, and any drive to get to anything was a long one. Eventually in spite of the youth of my car and the good mechanical condition of all other parts, the brakes began to give out.

The longer I drove the car the better the chance that at some time when I really did not want them to, the brakes would fail. They never might have, even between when I realized they could, and some future chosen date to have them fixed, I thought I would avoid the possible accident, and get them taken care of.

If my car was an old one, the whole thing could have fallen apart and become useless before the brakes gave completely, but even then, the possibility of a brake failure before I decided to just get rid of the car was there.

And one brake failure could be very harmful not only to me, but whomever or whatever I might have rammed into.

I had attended many meetings at which the problems of the power plant were presented as proof it should be closed down now, but, people could have always dismissed that as alarmist, and the information second hand or exaggerated for self-serving purposes.

But that dismissal loses out when the dangers are presented by those whose opinion cannot be so easily dismissed.

An in-house email was sent recently to Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials in which the leader of a federal inspection team said inspectors are having a hard time interpreting just what they are seeing at the troubled plant.

Donald Jackson, chief of operations at the NRC’s Northeast region and team leader, wrote that while employees might be showing  positive energy,

“it appears many staff across the site may not have the standards to know what ‘good’ actually is. The plant seems overwhelmed just trying to run the station.”

Let me point out that the exposure of the email did not come about from a leak by a disgruntled employee with questionable credentials, but it had been mistakenly sent in an email blast with one of the recipients being the co-founder of the activist group Cape Downwinders, a group that has been active in exposing the problems with the plant and demanding its immediate shut down.

Problems listed in the email are the failure of plant workers to follow established industry procedures, a lack of required expertise among plant experts, broken equipment that never gets properly fixed, the failure of some staff to understand their roles and responsibilities, and a team of employees who appear to be struggling with keeping the nuclear plant running, all things spoken about by those who have been monitoring the plant, including a state senator.

What could have been dismissed as selective and exaggerated criticism has now become an official assessment.

The email includes that:

Plant operators are “very disjointed in their ability to populate meetings and answer questions. Staffing problems seem to impact how fast the licensee can respond.”

“The engineering group appears unprepared to answer all of the questions being posed by the [inspection] team.”

“The corrective actions in the recovery plan seem to have been hastily developed and implemented, and some have been circumvented as they were deemed too hard to complete. We are observing current indications of a safety culture problem that a bunch of talking probably won’t fix.”

Recurring problems with the emergency diesel generators at the plant highlight “poor engineering expertise, no communication with the shift manager and poor corrective action.”

According to Diane Turco of the Cape Downwinders,

“The email preliminary report proves the NRC goal to ‘arrest declining performance’ is not happening at all. Mr. Jackson deserves credit for his candor on the documented dangers the continued operation of Pilgrim presents. Now he needs to lead the way to revoke the operating license.”

Patrick O’Brien, spokesman for Entergy Corp., Pilgrim’s owner-operator, wrote

“We have worked hard to address the issues that led to station performance decline and look forward to demonstrating to the NRC that we have made significant progress in these areas through the inspection process. Until the results of the 95003 Phase “C” inspection and the confirmatory action letter are released, we will not comment on the inspection.”

Translation: Crap. We got caught.

They lost their cover.

The inspection that resulted in the mail was done because of Pilgrim’s standing as one of the worst performing plants in the nation, and the problems it has faced over the years have been dealt with by using band-aid and duct-tape.

For those who want the primary source, here is the email.

Folks,

The following is a brief (or maybe not so brief) update of inspection activities associated with the ongoing Pilgrim 95003 Phase C

 Activities:

The Safety Culture Group conducted additional focus groups today, bringing the total number of people interviewed so far to over 130. This group plans to conduct 1 on 1 chance interviews in plant next week to validate observations from the group discussions 

The Operations NRC inspector observed pre-job briefings and maintenance and operations evolutions in plant 

Many Engineering discussions over the status of the EDGs 

Many team field activity observations 

Issues/PDs:

(Update) The station performed an apparent cause evaluation for an ‘A’ EDG issue that occurred in September of this year, which involved oil leakage from the ‘A’ EDG blower gear box relief valve fitting. We are still inspecting this issue, but items that we are currently following include: 

Pilgrim only performed a visual inspection of the gear box following the event, even though there are indications that the gear box was potentially run with little or no oil. There are two bearings and a pump in this gear box. We provided this issue as an operability concern to the control room this afternoon. The initial operability determination was “operable” based on the fact that they ran the ’A’ EDG successfully this morning. The NRC Engineering, Maintenance, and Programs group lead does not now have an immediate operability concern, but numerous questions are still being addressed by Pilgrim 

The 50.59 that was performed to install this type of gear box appears to be inadequate, in that it did not account for a new failure mode (i.e., introduction of a relief valve to the gear box) 

Inadequate causal evaluation of the issue (Pilgrim classified the cause as “indeterminate” and missed similar operating experience from North Anna)

Questions on the pre-startup checks for the EDG were resolved by Carey and Erin, as they walked down pre-start up checks with Non Licensed Operators 

Missed reportability call is likely 

The team further questioned the extent of condition of this issue related to the same gear box on the ‘B’ EDG. We believe that there is a current operability question on the ‘B’ EDG related to the same relief valve failure mechanism and leakage. The Pilgrim Systems Engineering Manager stated to the team that the site did not want to remove the EDG from service to investigate this concern as it would result in unavailability time that could place the EDG in Maintenance Rule A.1. Later in the day the Engineering Director and Site VP tried to backtrack on this statement, but the team believes that it was a genuine thought by this senior station manager and is an insight on Safety Culture. Pilgrim is conducting an inspection of this ‘B’ EDG Gear Box this evening. 

The licensee analyzed oil from both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ EDG Blower gear boxes and determined that no component degradation occurred. 

The licensee removed the ‘B’ EDG Gear Box RV, and determined that adequate thread engagement existed, and a common mode failure was unlikely. The reset and reinstalled the RV 

The licensee also ‘staked’ the threads on the ‘B’ EDG Gear Box RV to prevent recurrence of the failure…..However, it appears that the licensee did not perform a 50.59 screening for this modification to SR equipment which is an additional example of 50.59 process performance deficiencies. 

(Update) We are observing evidence of some weaknesses in the use of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) as a CAPR in the corrective action program area. Specifically, the roles and responsibilities of the SMEs do not appear to be clearly defined (i.e., we are hearing different things from station personnel, the lead CAP SME, and the support CAP SMEs about what their role is). At this point, we do not know if this extends to the other areas or not. The PIR Group is developing examples to support the teams belief that the CAPRs for the Root Cause for the Corrective Action Program may not be fully effective. The plant has completed 123 of 134 corrective actions in this area, yet we have identified CAP problems through this week. Preliminarily, CAPRs 1 and 2 involving the use of SMEs and Use of Performance Indicators appear to be ineffective. 

(No Change) The Engineering, Maintenance, and Programs group is looking at several examples where well established programs have not been followed. There was a circuit breaker replacement (swap) involving 52 circuit breakers covering a wide variety of plant equipment that was not screened under 50.59 as the licensee believed that they were exact, “like for like” replacements. The NRC has determined that lugs used inside of the breakers were a different size, and should have been evaluated accordingly. Other items that may also support this issue (though the mods are very dated): 

The EDG gearbox issue described above 

During a walkdown, an inspector noted that the EDG exhaust didn’t appear to be missile-protected. The exhaust was moved as part of a modification 

Plant Computer modification that impacted the heat balance calculation 

(No Change) The Engineering, Maintenance, and Programs group is looking into several examples of corrective actions that may not have been properly addressed. One involves a 2011 Internal Flooding issue that was raised, and has not yet been fully addressed. 

(No Change) The Engineering, Maintenance, and Programs group is inspecting an issue associated with lack of clearance between grating/ pipe supports and the primary containment liner. The design requires 1/16 “ clearance and in some cases there is no clearance. The licensee wrote and closed 4 CRS without properly evaluating the issue or reviewing extent of condition. We did brief a 10CFR50 AppB Criterion XVI performance deficiency that we are developing 

(Update) We receive a revised Root Cause Evaluation for the 95001 SRV sample on Monday. The teams preliminary review of the document appears to provide an inadequate Root Cause Evaluation and corrective actions that will not prevent recurrence. Essentially, this revised root cause blames Operations Management and an inadequate post trip review. The inspector believes that these may be contributing causes, but the root cause is more aligned to a failure to properly implement the corrective action process. Frank Arner reviewed Doug Dodson’s work and has aligned with Doug’s view that the Root Cause is not adequate. However, there is a possibility, when you evaluate all of the corrective actions taken to date on the issue, that they have taken adequate corrective actions. Doug believes that the Root Cause is an inadequate Operability Determination for the 2013 SRV Failure, and poor corrective actions for what they did put in the CAP. Since ODs and CAP are issues that have had recent actions, we think that they may have taken adequate corrective action. That being said, it is likely that the licensee did not adequately complete the 95001 in that they got the Root Cause wrong. 

(New) Pilgrim has a longstanding (30+Years) issue where the ‘B’ RHR Heat Exchanger bottom flange has been leaking. The have conducted three non-code furminite repairs over the years. The last injection was 2007, and the leakage has reinitiated at 30 drops per minute. Entergy cannot find the paperwork for the first injection, and does not know the type or the amount of material injected. This appears to be a non-code repair of a code system that either needed to be resolved at the next outage, or code relief provided by the NRC. Neither has been done. Additionally, there is current leakage (120 drops/min at 50 psig) outside of the drywell that has not been appropriately evaluated. More to follow on this issue. 

(New) The ECP Manager has not completed the Entergy qualification program. This seems strange for a Column 4 plant where Safety Culture is a fundamental problem area. 

Common Causal Insights:

(No Change) The Safety Culture Group is hearing that people are happy and working to improve the site (Exception- Security). The observation of actual performance however is somewhat disjointed. It appears that many staff across the site may not have the standards to know what “good” actually is. There is a lot of positive energy, but no one seems to know what to do with it, to improve performance, leading to procedural non compliances, poor maintenance, poor engineering practices, and equipment reliability problems. Example- Jeff Josey questioned operability of ‘A’ EDG Wednesday around 10 AM with a well-developed set of questions, and a direct statement questioning operability. By 4pm, we were aware that the Shift Manager was not made aware of this challenge, and no CR was written. The NRC then approached the Shift Manager with the Operability challenge. We are still waiting for the answers to our operability questions (but as mentioned previously, we don’t think there is now an immediate concern). Additionally, while observing an IC surveillance, the worker stated that this test would take him much longer since the NRC was watching. In fact, the channel that we watched took 2.5 hours to complete, and the other 3 Channels took 2 hours total to complete when we were not observing. 

(Update) We became aware today that corrective actions associated with the Recovery Plan are being “kicked back” to the organization by the external contracted review folks after completion by Pilgrim because the closure actions do not match the required actions. In several cases that we have reviewed, station management then changes the recovery action on the CA to match what was actually done, such that the external contracted review group agrees with issue closure. We are capturing examples of this to prove our point. The licensee was in disbelief when we mentioned this issue. One example that we found today is that the Recovery Plan calls for all Supervisors and above to have a “Targeted Performance Improvement Plan” which is tailored to the individual, have milestones, and due dates for specific actions. Apparently the plans are not tailored to the individual and are nearly all the same, and we found that some folks just recently found out that they were on a TPIP, and were surprised. It does not appear that they met the spirit of the recovery action. 

(No Change) Overall, we are beginning to see a picture where the people seem to be willing and happy/excited about change, but actions seem to be marginalized during implementation. Some of this marginalization seems to be due to not understanding what the end state should look like, and frankly some of it seems to be due to a lack of resources across many groups. We will be probing this further, as it is a key to making a recommendation whether or not the plan will be effective/ sustainable.

(New) A licensee oversight contractor informed me that the licensee is actively working a further revision to the Recovery Plan to address the issues that we have found in the last week. They plan to present this to the NRC later this week. I will likely need to discuss this with NRR to figure out the rules on reviewing this. 

Level of Cooperation:

In general, the licensee is being responsive, but very disjointed in their ability to populate meetings and answer questions, staffing problems seem to impact how fast the licensee can respond. For example- We attempted to conduct a safety culture focus group with Security and no one showed up, because the security supervisor “forgot” he needed to support it. The plant seems overwhelmed by just trying to run the station. An RP person wrote a CR last evening that the NRC inspection was significantly impacting getting her work done, and that we should spread out requests over the whole 3 weeks….seemed very frustrated. We have been very clear that we are flexible, and that we are sensitive to impact on plant activities.

The licensee engineering group appears unprepared to address all of the questions being posed by the team. I am couching this by questioning their overall Engineering Acumen. 

My thoughts:

The team is really struggling to figure out what all of this means. The licensee staff seems to say the right things, and they are genuinely energized about improving. We believe that there are some incremental improvements that look bigger than they actually are to the licensee staff. The corrective actions in the recovery plan seem to have been hastily developed and implemented, and some have been circumvented as they were deemed too hard to complete. We are observing current indications of a safety culture problem that a bunch of talking probably won’t fix. We did see a paired supervisory observation that uncovered procedure usage problems that were not directly identified by the workers supervisor. If the 95001 SRV review is truly UNSAT after almost 2 years, my confidence will not be very high, and I reiterate we received a revision dated 4 days ago. The dance associated with EDG operability this week is also disturbing on many levels- Poor Engineering Expertise, no communication with the shift manager, Poor original corrective action, and a Senior Manager stating a reluctance to assure operability due to a negative impact on maintenance rule status. Carey, Frank, and met early on Sunday, and discussed several “themes” that we plan to further develop, namely: Safety Culture, Ineffective CAP, Conduct of Operations/OPS Standards, Engineering Acumen, and Work Management. The challenge will be to determine if Corrective Actions already taken in all of these areas has been effective or not. On the plus side, we have not identified performance deficiencies at the same rate as ANO, and the team believes that procedures are in good shape.

 Very Respectfully

Don Jackson- Team Lead

Legal then, but not now. What changed?

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On Saturday I joined about 200 people for a volunteer-led rally in Fall River MA (we were not paid) whose purpose was to ensure that our Representatives and Senators know the American people won’t sit idly by as Congress sells out working class America.

It was one of many held throughout the United State.

I knew a number of people, but I did not know most. I assumed we were all on the same page, and did not anticipate anything going wrong.

There was to be no yelling. There wasn’t.

We were to stay on the sidewalk. We did.

We were not to react to anything aggressive that we might encounter from a passer-by. We didn’t have to worry about that.

At the end of the two hours we departed.

Last week I was at a rally in downtown Boston; the week before I stood with others in a Wall pf Peace and Compassion outside the mosque in Boston; and before that, I as at the Boston Women’s March.

Just as in all the past such events I have attended, the crowd had intended to be peaceful and was.

But, not knowing everyone, it was a hope filled assumption that everyone would remain calm and peaceful and would cooperate with the proscription toward violence.

But people being people, and people having their own issues and various levels of self-control, there was always the possibility someone could act stupid in the excitement of the moment.

I have been at events where people with opposite viewpoints have approached rally participants attempting to get people riled by yelling things, but the rule of “don’t engage” usually kept things from escalating.

I have also been at events where security has prevented people not involved with the sponsoring group from starting trouble either because they thought that would be funny, or they wanted the group to look bad.

Most standouts and demonstrations have a message they do not want to get lost in something unrelated.

It has been obvious since Trump became president that people are not happy with his diarrhea of executive orders, his rolling back of people’ rights and the appointment to the position of heads of a departments people with a history of working against those very departments.

So it is a given that people will continue to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and express their opposition to things being done.

The First Amendment, which is just as important as the Second says.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.

Rather than taking the steps to ensure that executive orders are based on the Constitution, ending the stream of attacks on people’s rights, and thinking more carefully about who gets to be in charge of what, Republican lawmakers in at least 18 states have introduced or voted on legislation to curb mass protests.

Now it may be reasonable to act against protests that purposely block traffic or set out from the get-go to destroy something, but it goes a little too far when a law allows for the seizure of assets of people who are involved in a protest that later turns violent even if the group holding the protest is not the instigator of any violence, and those whose assets are seized are merely present and not involved in the violence.

Want to squash people’s expression? Just send some plants to a peaceful protest, have them act up, and the protest is shut down and the organizers are theoretically dissuaded for any future action.

The justification for the laws?

 “You now have a situation where you have full-time, quasi-professional agent-provocateurs that attempt to create public disorder,”

according to State Senator John Kavanagh of Arizona.

Ignoring that people have something to say, Kavanagh wants people to believe there would be no protests if people weren’t hired to participate in them, basing this claim on nothing more than his saying it. If this were true, what was the cost to whoever it was who paid all those people who attended all those Women’s Marches.

 “The Supreme Court has gone out of its way on multiple occasions to point out that streets, sidewalks and public parks are places where [First Amendment] protections are at their most robust,” said Lee Rowland, a senior attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

When he was at the African-American Heritage Museum Trump said he likes all those states that voted for him with double double digits. They are Southern ones, and it is interesting that laws, such as these latest ones came up there before when people rallied for rights and redress of government wrongs.

As Douglas McAdam, a Stanford sociology professor who studies protest movements. Explained,

 “For instance, southern legislatures — especially in the Deep South — responded to the Montgomery Bus Boycott (and the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education) with dozens and dozens of new bills outlawing civil rights groups, limiting the rights of assembly, etc. all in an effort to make civil rights organizing more difficult.”

“Similarly,” he added, “laws designed to limit or outlaw labor organizing or limit labor rights were common in the late 19th/early 20th century.”

The overriding purpose of the latest round of proposed laws is to create self-censorship among protesters who have every intention of obeying existing laws.

Even Trump’s accusations of “paid” or “professional” agitators, have been leveled at protesters before.

“This is standard operating procedure for movement opponents,” McAdam said. “Civil rights workers were said to be ‘outside agitators, and the tea party was dismissed as an ‘AstroTurf’ phenomenon — funded from on high by the Koch brothers and others — rather than a legitimate ‘grass roots’ movement. In all these cases, including the present, the charges are generally bogus, with the vast majority of protesters principled individuals motivated by the force of deeply held values and strong emotion.”

This is a list of states proposing these new, mostly unnecessary laws:

Arizona would open up protests to anti-racketeering legislation, targeting protesters with the same laws used to combat organized crime syndicates. Police could seize the assets of anyone involved in a protest that at some point becomes violent.

Colorado would strengthen penalties for “tampering” with oil and gas equipment.

Florida Republican and state senator George Gainer wants to provide criminal penalties for protesters obstructing traffic and exempt drivers from liability if they struck a protester under certain conditions. A form of vehicular Stand Your Ground with the similarly convenient defense for harming another.

The Georgia Senate wants to increase penalties for blocking “any highway, street, sidewalk or other public passage.”

Iowa wants to make protesters who intentionally block highways subject to felony charges and up to five years in prison.

Indiana originally wanted to allow police to shut down highway protests using “any means necessary”, but a Senate committee toned that down a bit to police issuing fines for such behavior.

Michigan wants to increase fines for certain “mass picketing” behavior, and made it easier for courts to shut down such demonstrations.

Minnesota would increase fines for protesters blocking highways and airports with a separate measure holding the protesters to the costs of policing the protests.

Missouri wants to make it illegal for protesters to wear masks, robes or other disguises during protests deemed to be illegal. This would not go over too well with the Klan, I’m sure.

Mississippi would make obstruction of traffic a felony punishable by a $10,000 fine and five years in prison.

A North Carolina Republican has said he wants to introduce legislation making it a crime to “threaten, intimidate or retaliate against” current or former state officials.

North Dakota is considering a few bills that would remove penalties for motorists who hit a protester with a car in some circumstances. These bills are in response to the long-standing protests there against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Oklahoma legislature is considering a bill that would increase penalties for trespassing on certain pieces of “critical infrastructure” like pipelines and railways.

Oregon would require public community colleges and universities to expel any student convicted of participating in a violent riot.

Because of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, a senate panel in South Dakota approved a bill that would increase penalties for certain acts of trespassing and blocking highways, and included the potential for similar protests in South Dakota if the Keystone XL Pipeline goes forward.

A Tennessee Republican also wants to protect drivers if they inadvertently strike a protester who is blocking a roadway. Now you can say you felt threatened if you run a protester down.

Virginia wanted to increase penalties for people who refused to leave the scene of a riot or unlawful protest, but that idea died in the state senate last month.

Washington state lawmakers, claiming it Is “Economic Terrorism” (the use of terrorism makes an action seem more threatening that it is) want to increase penalties for people blocking highways and railways.

Reactionary laws are not actually good ones.

And it is interesting that the Republicans proposing these law were put in power by the Tea Party and now seem to forget what the Tea Party was.

 

And then the children all gathered around Schroeder and the toy piano and began to sing softly

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This was a very momentous week in Washington DC.

First, as if their History weren’t rich enough, Black people in the United States became even more enriched when President Trump took a field trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

He was accompanied by Ben Carson, but was somewhat disappointed that Frederick Douglass had not been able to be with him. It was thought that perhaps Mr. Douglass’s schedule of doing those things he is finally getting recognition for doing kept him otherwise occupied.

He had time to mention some great African-Americans who made up that history before he reminded all those present that

“Senator Tim Scott for joining us today.  Friend of mine — a great, great senator from South Carolina.  I like the state of South Carolina.  I like all those states where I won by double, double, double digits.  You know, those states.”

Most people in attendance do know those states as they were the slave holding ones who then became the Jim Crow ones.

He was glad that Martin Luther King Jr. was included in the museum,

“I also want to profoundly thank Alveda King for being here, and as we saw her uncle’s wonderful exhibit, and he certainly deserves that.”

He then praised Alveda King because he watches her all the time, “and she is a tremendous fighter for justice”.  

And he illustrated her tremendous fight for justice by offering only one example, when he continued,

“I have been watching you for so long, and you are so incredible.  And I wanted to thank you for all the nice things you say about me”.

But besides finding ways to praise himself and be his center of attention, he turned to Ben Carson pointing out that,

“We’re going to do great things in our African American communities together.  Ben is going to work with me very, very closely.  And HUD has a meaning far beyond housing.  If properly done, it’s a meaning that’s as big as anything there is, and Ben will be able to find that true meaning and the true meaning of HUD as its Secretary.  So I just look forward to that.  I look forward to watching that.  He’ll do things that nobody ever thought of”.  

I truly hope he finds the true meaning of HUD, and I am extremely curious to see those things he does that no one ever thought of.  I just hope they are related to Housing, especially the fair and nondiscriminatory kind.

Ewwwww! It’s educational. It must go!

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We know from posted pictures that the Trump family is enamored with killing large animals for sport.

There is that famous picture of Junior posing with the tail he had cut off of an elephant he had shot, or at least claims to have shot, so there shouldn’t be any surprise that one of the Trump family’s large game target should be a big, yellow bird.

Donald Trump wants to reduce the federal budget, but his plan is beyond odd.

While he plans to further cut taxes for corporations and the 1%, and also wants to increase military spending that even the military is saying is not necessary, he is going after the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities because its whopping 0.0625% of the projected $4 trillion budget is taking the country down.

He, being obviously against education, as proven by his appointment of Betty DeVos as head of the Department of Education, probably assumes the NEA is that evil teacher organization and that it is a waste of money to save huge manatees.

He wants to end funding for PBS and NPR, both of which are not answerable to special interest groups and are educational.

As Steve Bell of the Bipartisan Policy Center told the New York Times,

“It’s sad in a way because those programs aren’t causing the deficit. These programs don’t amount to a hill of beans.”

He wants to make an example of government waste. So he chose a program that betters people’s lives through art.

Robert L. Lynch, head of Americans for the Arts, told the new York times,

“The public wants to see agencies like the N.E.A. continue. There is always a debate, but there has been agreement among Republicans and Democrats that funding for the arts is a good thing, and it has been kept in place.”

If you do the math, the part of the budget he wants to cut comes to $500 million.

Perhaps he could save that $500 million by having his wife move into the White House so we have a First Family in the party of family values and not a split household, stop his weekend trips to Florida, and when his children go to foreign countries on Trump Organization business, they could stay in cheaper, closer to the people who elected him hotels saving on the room rental of their security details..

Security at the Tower in NYC calls for renting a whole floor that will cost millions so his un-elected wife and son will be safe.

Perhaps he could cut that first before his cuts educational things.

 

 

Removing a person’s dignity is not a state’s right

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We are the UNITED States of America, and one of the important features of the country is in its name, UNITED.

When people argue about the Pledge of Allegiance, as if it is an official document or some kind of incantation, they stress the “under God” part, the part added 60 years after it was first published, mainly to counteract “godless Communism”, and at least 20 years after the Bellamy Salute that looked too Nazi was replaced with the hand over the heart, they seem more concerned with the God part and few with the “One nation” part.

The importance of the One Nation part is that, as citizens, we have had a history of moving from one place to another, and when doing so we remain citizens with a Constitution that guarantees our rights in every place we move to or from.  If we need to move in order to be employed, or to live with the person we love, part of that choice should not be to assess what rights we will retain or have to give up with the move.

And, although adults have a better chance of exercising the appropriate choice, their children don’t. That is why the laws that deal with education and the protection of students while at school should not be dependent on which states their parents bring them to, but the safety and well being of all students should be country wide and a given, and not be up to the individual attitudes of each state, attitudes that are generally influenced by the personal, political, and religious beliefs of those who happen to be in power at any given time.

States require students to be in school on a daily basis, so since they have no choice on where they are to be every day of their minority, the states must have protections in place equally in all of them.

Whether or not any student should be protected should not be left up to the individual states.

Those who claim to be Pro-life should be as concerned for the safety and well being of the post natal child as they are for the fetus.

And, if politicians are going to claim that states individually have the right to determine which students should be protected, then the legislators must be well versed in all things dealing with children as opposed acting solely on political considerations.

We have seen in our history where the attitudes of individual states toward the humanity of man had resulted in slavery with the willingness to die to keep men subjugated being renamed to fighting for State’s right so it took on the veneer of patriotism. And when that ended, in came the Jim Crow laws. The state right so vehemently defended was the right to choose to which of its citizens the constitution applied.

Although Transgender people have always been here, the fact that they have come out of the shadows demanding their rights as citizens, and with many being minors who know who they are, some adults are assuming Transgender people are a new thing, perhaps coming from another world or some mythological realm that only religion can combat. They believe that their just knowing and becoming aware of them also instills some intuitive knowledge that does not need investigation or exposure to facts.

They insist that their lack of knowledge should determine whether these Americans should have rights, and the excuses for denying them those rights clearly illuminate their ignorance.

They are comfortable in their ignorance because learning new things is work, and who wants to work if they can control people while being comfortable in the lack of knowledge that came without exertion.

Call someone a bigot, and you will get a time consuming lecture about why they are not, and they will take the time to inform you of the facts that support them. Mention Transgender, and when they respond with a glaringly uninformed response, good luck getting them to give you equal time explaining the facts. Whereas they resent your holding to your misperceptions about them, they will resent your attempting to present facts and will insist on maintaining their original limited view.

Recognizing the need for universal protection for all students, President Obama’s Department of Education and Department of Justice released guidelines stating that schools need to respect transgender students’ gender, including when it comes to names and pronouns, dress codes, and restrooms. The Obama administration maintained that Title IX protects transgender students.

Of course, instead of realizing that Transgender people have been using the appropriate restrooms without incident of predation for ever, suddenly people act as if they had come out of nowhere and are intent on sexual perversion over peeing in restrooms. Having never had to fear before, suddenly people have decided, at the instigation of politicians who will save them from a nonexistent enemy and tithe collectors from imagined anti-Christs, these people now have something new to fear, and refuse to accept the fact that they do not.

They have a new enemy, and no one, not even a president, not even science and fact, is going to take that from them.

At my age, unless I had looked down their pants or up their dresses, I have never been aware if the person next to me in a stall or at a urinal was anything other than what I saw.

We all know the awkwardness of youth, the fear in high school that we will be categorized somehow, even be given some less than complimentary nickname that will stay with us and determine what our school experience would be until we graduated. If we stayed in the home town, our future could be greatly influenced by how we were perceived and what role our peers had assigned us. Just look at the jock in high school who lived as that jock until the day he died, the head cheerleader too, for that matter, and the so-called easy girl who, no matter how innocent she had actually been is still looked on as the class slut, even if that reputation was based on nothing more than some other girl’s jealousy and self-serving gossip spreading.

It is bad enough when peers negatively assess us, but it is worse, and much more cruel if the school administration established that upon which our negative school experience would be controlled.

Peer on peer initiated stigmatizing is one thing; school system stigmatizing is a much more horrible thing.

We had White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer saying that the Panderer in Chief, Trump, would be issuing “further guidance” on the Obama directive aimed at protecting the rights of transgender students.

“The president has maintained for a long time that this is a states’ rights issue and not one for the federal government. So while we have further guidance coming out on this, I think that all you have to do is look at what the president’s view has been for a long time, that this is not something the federal government should be involved in, that this is a states’ rights issue.”

What Trump decided to do wasn’t to issue any new executive order, but to simply remove guidelines so schools can simply ignore Title IX when it comes to Transgender students, and the Department of Justice will not enforce it when it comes to transgender children.

As LAMBDA Legal put it,

“Trump’s actions do not change the law itself—transgender students remain protected by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972—but abandoning the guidance intentionally creates confusion about what federal law requires. The law bars discrimination – the new administration invites it.”

I was once told by a school district administration that although GLBT students weren’t named in school policies, while other groups of students were, they were still included in the district’s protective student policies by inference. That left it up to  individual students and employees to figure that out, but with no established recourse if harm came to any GLBT student from either, they could face bullying, harassment and discrimination with no consequences.

The result of this was obvious and predictable. Student safety for GLBT students was at the mercy of the adults’ and the students’ personal, political, and religious beliefs, something other students were protected from.

Now states and municipalities can choose to protect or not protect.

With Jeff Sessions as our Attorney General, it is predictable that any violations will be given little if any attention by the Department of Justice.

In light of the Declaration of Independence and the first three words of the Preamble to the Constitution, it is not a state right to determine who has dignity and worth, and who does or who does not deserve respect especially if we are talking about students who have to attend school and have no control over their environment.

It’s exhausting

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“Don’t be a sore loser. Unlike our outrage and demeaning, racist responses to the election of President Obama, those of you who voted for Hillary in the majority, need to give Trump a chance”.

We’ve heard that repeatedly as if he wasn’t given a chance.

A friend sent me a list of chances he has been given, and they are:

The chance to rectify his having defrauded students in his fake university, Trump University;

The chance to pay numerous contractors, but instead made them and their families suffer;

The chance to rescind his racist birther lies about President Obama our president;

The chance to explain his relentless and fact checkable lies during the campaign;

The chance to apologize for calling women fat pigs and Miss Piggy, and for that pussy grabbing boast;

The chance to rake back his claims that all Mexican immigrants are murderers and rapists;

The chance to reverse his claim that he wants to bring back waterboarding and much much worse;

The chance to cancel his plan to deport 11 million people including children;

The chance to reverse his pledge to register Muslims and ban Muslims from entering the United States;

The chance to lave marriage equality alone;

The chance to admit he was wrong about thousands of Muslims in New Jersey openly celebrating the Twin Towers falling;

The chance to apologize to all handicapped people for mocking a reporter with a physical disability;

The chance to apologize for insulting a Gold Star mother and father;

The chance to take back that a Viet Nam War POW was a failure for having been captured and tortured;

The chance to rescind his threat to jail his political opponent;

The chance to acknowledge that the First Amendment freedoms of speech and of the press are as equal in importance to owning a gun;

The chance to stop praising Putin while condemning a president and members of the intelligence agencies;

The chance tell supporters at rallies to stop assaulting people who did not agree with him, and that he would not pay the legal fees for people who beat up protesters;

The chance to remove a white nationalist as his Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor in the White House;

The chance not to select a person deemed too racist to be confirmed as a federal judge to be his Attorney General;

The chance not to assign a climate science denier to be lead the transition process at the Environmental Protection Agency;

The chance not to nominate an ant-public school  campaign donor as head of the Department of Education;

The chance not to dismiss the Native Americans by ignoring them and reinstating the Dakota Access pipeline;

The chance to stop skipping intelligence briefings and getting his world news from Fox News;

The chance to actually do something for the working class instead of rewarding those who gave him campaign donations and in whose businesses he has a stake;

and

The chance to stop dividing the country by claiming those who hold him accountable and want him and his administration to be honest and stop lying, are the enemy.

Giving him any more chances will kill us and the county.

A sad passing

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When I first arrived in Oklahoma City, I knew no one. I had a friend in California whose grandmother lived there, so I introduced myself, and ended up staying in a room in her house. As convenient as this was in the beginning, and as conveniently located as it was to the school where I was a substitute teacher, I felt confined and looked for the opportunity to move out. I felt uncomfortable and a little restrained living in someone else’s house, and Dorothy was a force in spite of her good intentions.

I got a permanent teaching position at a school further away, and this was the motivation to look elsewhere. Not having saved enough yet to rent an apartment, and not thinking I would stay beyond a second year, I rented a room in a hotel/resort in the middle of the Gayborhood conveniently close to the school to which I could walk if need be, and on the edge of the Strip on 39th Street where the Gay bars, other Gay owned businesses, and the community center were.

On many nights I would walk around the corner to the bar Tramps, and sit quietly and read a book. The music was good and the drinks were big, free pour ones whose strength depended on how good you were as a patron. I socialized on the weekend nights, but during the week Tramps was like my study with a great stereo system and a good bar set up.

One night it was snowing heavily and traffic was light. I walked to the bar, took a stool, and got my drink. There were only four other people in the bar, the bartender, John-Girl; Eddie, who was like the guardian and guru of the young Black men who filled the bar on Saturday nights; Danae Daniels, a very popular female impersonator with a biting wit that sometimes got so close to the line of acceptability/unacceptability, that a sudden breeze could nudge it over the line; and, sitting at the south end of the bar in the seat he often took, was Tony Sinclair.

I knew Mr. Sinclair was an historic person in the Oklahoma City Gay Community, and that he had quite the story to tell, if you could get him to tell it, but I had never spoken to him, perhaps merely nodded a hello occasionally, because I did not think I was “worthy” enough to talk to him.

He was waiting for his partner, and eventual part owner of the bar, Hayden, to come give him a ride home, but as the snow fell, it was obvious from no one else coming in that this was going to be a long wait.

As usually happens in a bar where the people present have agreed not to talk about religion or politics, the main topic, that eventually became the only one, was about people and the dirt associated with them. The other four people knew many of the same people and the dirt they could exchange about them, but they were not cruel. It was more a good natured story told, followed by a few juicy extra wink-wink, nudge-nudge details and some commentary.

I listened for a while, and then when I thought it appropriate, I threw in a bit of commentary. Danae and Tony were a little surprised not by what I said, but that I, who sat quietly reading and seemed in a world of my own would know the dirt I did.

I explained to the others that it was apparent that while I was sitting at the back of the bar reading, people had made certain assumptions, the biggest one being that, while reading I was so into the book, I could not hear. Often, when someone had something to say about someone else that they did not want to be overheard saying, they would bring their audience over and stand next to, or near enough to me so that I could hear them. The other assumption seemed to be that I was so wrapped up in my reading, I never looked away from the book, so they would freely point out the person about whom they were gossiping, and I would look. I had become the mailman who was there every day, but was never noticed.

I was, therefore, very well informed.

From that night on I had new friends, one of whom was Mr. Tony Sinclair with whom over the years I had many conversations. But no matter what we talked about, the one topic that was always brushed aside, was Tony’s past. He had a story to tell, but did not see why people would be interested in it. In spite of my insistence, he never gave in, at least to me.

One night during GLBT Pride Month I attended a lecture where a professor from a local college was presenting his doctoral paper about the History of Gay men in Oklahoma City, and Tony Sinclair, and the past he thought no one would be interested in came up.

Most of the information is probably already known by people who knew him better than I did, but this is for those who may not have known him at all.

Tony Sinclair was Oklahoma’s most well-known female impersonator. He would be the first to tell you he was not a Drag Queen but a man who impersonated females on stage and chose not only to keep his male name even when performing, always being introduced either as “Mr. Tony Sinclair” or “Mr. Tony Sinclair as…..”, but only wore female attire when performing, unlike many Drag Queens who might dress up for a night on the town.

As a young man Tony toured the United States as a member of a drag troupe, and when he arrived in Oklahoma City is not commonly known. In keeping with his reluctance to give details about his life he acknowledged arriving in the city around 1965, although there is a record of his involvement in one of the city’s Gay clubs in the 1950’s.  Besides making specialized outfits for striptease artists and showgirls in Oklahoma City and the southwest, he made a living for years performing at straight clubs all over the United States and in downtown Oklahoma City.

When I asked once about his performing a strip-tease routine at straight clubs without them realizing he was actually male, he told me that he never took it all off, but led the audience to believe he was going to. That way by building the suspense he could build the excitement, and as the old theater adage goes, “always leave them wanting more”.

Tony is said to be the finest female impersonator ever to perform in Oklahoma City, with a reputation that stretches from coast to coast. I know this to be true as, one afternoon after moving back to Massachusetts and having a drink in a bar in Boston after a day of political meetings, I saw pictures of Drag Queens hanging on the wall behind the bar, and noticed one that looked like Tony. When I asked the bartender who it was, he told me that it was Tony Sinclair out of Oklahoma City.

He was known for impersonating a wide range of celebrities, his best known was Diana Ross. As the story goes, he once performed as her opening act in Oklahoma, and while receiving applause from the audience, the real Diana Ross came out on stage to begin her show and reveal the trick that had been played on the audience.

He was a perfectionist with a sharp tongue who trained other female impersonators to be total professionals. He started his own troupe of performers, Les Girls,that appeared in Oklahoma and Texas.

Female impersonation was an important source of information dissemination and subculture formation.

By the time I got to Oklahoma City, Tony Sinclair was like the Grand Dame .

Besides being a female impersonator, among other things, Tony worked with his partner, Hayden Allen, at Allen’s Place, Hayden’s downtown restaurant. When the Oklahoma City Bombing took place, the restaurant was within the damage zone which meant they would automatically receive funds. Tony and Hayden turned down any such funds because they had not received enough damage to warrant taking money that would best help those who really needed it. Sadly this is notable as very few did likewise and too many took money only because they were within the zone.

Mentioning this to Tony only got you a disapproving side eye.

In my time in Oklahoma City, besides his regular Wednesday and Sunday shows, Tony seemed always involved with fundraisers for various Community causes. One such fundraiser, although the performers he had on stage were doing great performances that the packed bar cheered for, money was not getting into the collection bowl. Tony came out for his next number, but before beginning he stepped forward and reminded the audience it was a fundraiser, and if they could clap and cheer, the audience could also put money in the collection bowl. People may not have been too happy with the dressing down, but the bowl kept filling as the night went on.

By the time I had left town, Tony Sinclair’s performances started to become a rarity. Gay bars are the smokiest places I have ever been in, so I just assumed that after years of performing in them, the second hand smoke might have just become too much to deal with on a regular basis.

I have often spoken of him to people I have met in Massachusetts. He is one of those people who, while we were not close friends, added something to my life experience and has become one of the people in the stories I tend to tell.

Tony passed away over the weekend. He will be missed by the Oklahoma GLBT Community especially the various performers who worked with him often in shows and fundraisers and the many female impersonators he has taught over the years and brought that training to cities all over the country.

For me, he is the last of the four people who have now passed on who made Tramps a home away from home for me and so many others. With them it wasn’t just a bar.

Larry Crosby, one of the owners of the club and an extremely generous person passed away a few years ago. Chuck, who was the general factotum of the bar with whom I had many interesting conversations as he checked IDs at the door was next with Hayden Following him. And now, Tony.

I feel lucky to have been there when these people were there, and I feel bad that people coming up now will not have known them and the history they were.