Friday, June 24, 2016

Who will take Charlie Rangel's place representing NY's 13th CD?


Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and the Rev. Martin
Luther King Jr.
 back in -- well, a very long time ago

"All politics is local."
-- former House Speaker Tip O'Neill (D-MA)

by Ken

It was, I think, a couple of weeks into the new year when the calendar arrived in my mailbox -- a really nice 2016 wall calendar produced by the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, "Commemorating the Year of 'The Endless Winter.' " So nice that it made me wish I actually use a wall calendar. It was from my congressman, and I didn't remember ever receiving such a thing from him before, in all the years he's been my congressman. And my immediate thought was, the son-of-a-gun is actually going to run again.

I was told that no, he's not running again. It turned out that he'd said when he ran the last time that that would be the last, but how sure can we ever be about such things? I think a lot of people, possibly including the congressman himself, realized that he's already run for a couple of terms too many. But that hadn't stopped him before, and he survived primary challenges those last two times, in 2012 and 2014.

Oh, the margin was surprisingly close in 2012 -- less than a thousand votes over State Sen. Adriano Espaillat (occupying the seat vacated by Eric Schneiderman in 2010 to make his successful run for NYS attorney general) -- but I really don't think that after those two brushes with political death he was going to be ousted by ballot. People talk about all the demographic changes and the changes in the makeup of the district, now with that chunk of the Bronx, and no longer a majority-black district. But Charlie Rangel has been a congressman from hereabouts since 1971. When you consider the modest turnout to be expected in a primary contest, and the sheer longevity and presence of the name of "Congressman Charlie Rangel," I just don't see that he was going to go out that way. I voted against him in both the 2012 and 2014 primarires, and came away persuaded that whatever he wants to do, it would remain his choice when to stay and when to go.

Now, finally, Charlie R has decided it's time to go. Leaving the obvious question: Who comes next?

I don't know who coined the phrase "is tantamount to election," referring to primary races that are, well, tantamount to election, but the phrase certainly covers the the primary we'll be having in my congressional district, New York's 13th, which includes much of Uppermost Manhattan plus a chunk of the Bronx, this coming Tuesday. Oh, I suppose it's possible that somebody could be elected to something up here in the far northern reaches of Manhattan from some party other than the Democratic one, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Howie has kept asking me to "explain" the primary race to succeed Charlie Rangel. I don't know that I can explain much, but I can venture that it's certainly a historic moment. Allowing for periodic changes in the shape and numbering of the CD, come January, when our new congressman takes his seat, the district will have been represented over the previous 72 years by just two individuals: since 1971, by Charlie Rangel; and before that, from January 1945, by the Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., whom we're about to see describedt as " the most powerful black politician in the country during the 1950s."
Adam Clayton Powell Jr., was the first person of African-American descent elected to Congress from New York. He was both a pastor and a politician and represented Harlem in Congress. In 1961, after sixteen years in the House, he became chairman of the Education and Labor Committee. As Chairman, he supported the passage of important social legislation but was removed from his seat by Democratic Representatives-elect of the 90th Congress following allegations of corruption.

Few people under 40 may know his name now, but Adam Clayton Powell was the most powerful black politician in the country during the 1950s, helping create landmark programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Head Start, and even contributing to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As Harlem's Congressman from 1945 until 1971, his legislative and personal efforts drove the desegregation of public schools, of the military, even of the U.S. Capitol itself. . . .

In 1941, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., became New York City's first African-American councilman. By 1944, he had won a seat in Congress. It was heady, but lonely as one of the only two African Americans in the U.S. House; particularly since the other, William Dawson of Chicago, was more seen than heard, careful to not upset the status quo. He went on to be a trailblazer in Congress, paving the way for the next generation of African-American politicians. After holding office for 25 years, he was ousted in the Democratic primary in 1970 by Charles Rangel.

Adam Powell didn't behave like most African-American politicians. "I'm the first bad Negro they've had in Congress," he bragged. He made more enemies on Capitol Hill than perhaps any legislator before or since.

Voters from Harlem elected Powell as their representative nearly two dozen times. With long service in Congress comes seniority and ultimately the chance to head one of the powerful committees that draft bills that the full House and Senate eventually vote on. After the election of 1960, Powell took over as chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.

Adam Powell was instrumental in passing legislation that made lynching a federal crime, as well as bills that desegregated public schools. He challenged the Southern practice of charging Blacks a poll tax to vote and stopped racist Congressmen from saying the word "nigger" in sessions of Congress.

However, by the mid-1960s, Powell was increasingly being criticized for mismanaging his committee's budget, taking trips abroad at public expense, and missing sittings of his committee. He was also under attack in his District, where his refusal to pay a slander judgment made him subject to arrest. He spent increasing amounts of time in Florida.

In January 1967, the House Democratic Caucus stripped Powell of his committee chairmanship. The full House refused to seat him until completion of the Judiciary Committee's investigation. Powell urged his supporters to "keep the faith, baby" while the investigation was under way. On March 1, the House voted 307 to 116 to exclude him. Powell said, "On this day, the day of March in my opinion, the end of the United States of America as the land of the free and the home of the brave."

Powell won the Special Election to fill the vacancy caused by his exclusion but did not take his seat. He sued in Powell v. McCormack to retain his seat. In November 1968, Powell was again elected. On January 3, 1969, he was seated as a member of the 91st Congress; but he was fined $25,000 and denied seniority. In June 1969, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the House had acted unconstitutionally when it excluded Powell, a duly elected member.

In June 1970, Adam Powell Jr. was defeated in the Democratic primary by Charles B. Rangel. That fall, he failed to get on the November ballot as an Independent; and he resigned as minister at the Abyssinian Baptist Church.
-- from the website Black History in America
(basically excerpted from Wikipedia)
I apologize for the length of the above quote, as noted apparently compressed from the Wikipedia entry, but as I read it I found myself fascinated, even though I have what I thought of as abundant and vivid memories of ACP Jr. Perhaps it's because those memories are overly weighted toward the later years, which on the congressman's part became so much about self-aggrandizement and then self-preservation; that makes it easier to forget the shape of the whole career, and just how important it was. This seems to me a useful time to remember that ACP Jr. knew a thing or two about the uses of power and getting things done.

Now you look at that 72-year run, January 1945 to January 2017, and you think maybe "dynasty." You may note in particular the resemblance in the shapes of the careers, from the rise to prominence and power to the engulfment in scandal, including the critical loss of the House committee chairmanship that carried with it so much influence. Of course you also note that in 1970 it was the crusading young Charlie Rangel who shoved his enfeebled predecessor out of the seat.

I believe that the young Charlie was motivated, in 1970, not just by opportunity but by genuine outrage over the disgraced Adam Powell's abuses of power. Which would make the shape of his own, much longer House career at the very least ironic. One hopes against hope that the lesson isn't the obvious one -- you know, about all power corrupting. But it's hard not to think that in the end it comes down to the money, all that money floating freely around the tables in the various houses of government. It would be easy to understand if even a relatively innocent young pol, once he becomes aware of all that moving money, takes to thinking, "Now just a dag-blamed minute here, didn't my people elect me to keep an eye on all that? Making sure it goes to, you know, the right kind of people?"

So in a lot of ways the race to succeed Charlie is like a lot of local contests around the country, having to do with who's going to take "a seat at the table." One wrinkle is that the tables at which Adam Powell and Charlie Rangel took their places, both the "little" local ones and the more magnificent ones where they set up shop in D.C., are table that aren't places where people like them are generally welcome to sit. (I might add that I don't expect whoever wins Tuesday to be a major player at the D.C. tables -- no Adam P or Charlie R on the national scene, in other words.)


That what every wants to know, right? Who's on deck? And the answer is: a whole bunch of people. Hey, it's an open congressional seat, here in NYC, which contains the highest concentration of political wannabes on the planet, right?

I suppose you could argue the demographics of the district, or minutely scrutinize the positions-on-the-issues staked out by each of the contenders, the way we usually do here at DWT. But it seems to me to come down to who comes to feel like the most comfortable fit for the distract, or at any rate can persuade enough constituents to think so.

For those who place great store by names, there's even an Adam Clayton Powell in the field: Adam Clayton Powell IV, or at any rate one of the Adam Clayton Powell IVs. (The other ACP IV is, as you would expect, the grandson of ACP Jr., being the son of ACP III. The candidate ACP IV, however, is a son of ACP Jr., being the 16-years-younger half-brother of ACP III.)

Charlie has endorsed Assemblyman Keith Wright to replace him.

But the candidates who seem best positioned to emerge from the field are Assemblyman Keith Wright, who on April 30 received the endorsement of Congressman Rangel himself, to go with an assorment of other local-pol endorsements, and State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who mounted primary challenges against the congressman in 2012 and 2014 -- and, as noted, came pretty darned close the first time.

Now Espaillat isn't a firebrand or crusader, and when he ran to hold on to his State Senate seat after losing in the 2014 congressional primary, former City Councilmember Robert Jackson scored some hitts on his Senate work record. But I kind of like that Adriano isn't a natural at being a glad-handing pol. I remember walking past him one morning trying rather forlornly to campaign outside one of the less-used local subway entrances, at the base of a cliff, looking like he'd rather be almost anywhere else. I also kind of like that he doesn't attract much enthusiasm from the people looking to attach themselves to a potential new political table-sitter.

I've never regretted voting for Adriano Espaillat for the NYS Assembly and Senate, or for Congress in his 2012 and 2014 races against Charlie R. So why wouldn't I vote for him now?

Mostly I think of Espaillat fighting good local-issue fights, usually on the side of the people who don't otherwise have much access to power. You may have noticed, for example, that the pols attached to the recent successful campaign to "save the supermarket" up on Hudson Heights were Senator Espaillat and the two local city councilmembers, Ydanis Rodriguez and Mark Levine.

I felt bad the other night when I cut off an Espaillat campaign phone caller, saying, "I wish him well. I'm voting for him." Well, I do and I am, and I didn't want to waste any more time listening to the phone spiel.

Now, does that explain everything? (Does it explain anything?)

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Bernie On The Campaign Trail Today-- For Eric Kingson In Syracuse


Long before DFA, MoveOn or the nurses' national union came to their courageous decisions to support Bernie over Hillary, Blue America had made it's first-ever presidential election. No one's ever been good enough before but, we'd followed Bernie career in the House and Senate closely and on the day he announced-- we endorsed him, not as a lesser of two or more evils but as a genuinely great candidate we would have liked to see become president, despite how very, very long that shot was. Nonetheless, 1,557 Blue America members gave $57,889.60 (plus thousands more in monthly recurring contributions)-- about $37 each.

But at no time did we ever expect perfection from Bernie; no of us are that politically immature. Personally I was disappointed that Bernie didn't do more for the down-ballot candidates who were backing him. Sure, he did far, far more than Hillary did, but he didn't really have the capacity to get behind the dozens of House and Senate candidates-- let alone state legislative candidates-- who were backing him and running on his platform. There were some bone-headed moves-- like having a Wall Street, anti-Social Security creep, Shawn O'Connor up on the stage with him in New Hampshire several times, despite O'Connor's opportunism and despite the fact that his opponent in the primary was Carol Shea-Porter, a tried and true progressive (who may have hurt Bernie's feelings by backing Clinton).

Worse, was when Bernie's enthusiasm for Florida Senate candidate Alan Grayson suddenly chilled-- after he called Grayson and asked him to fly to Miami to introduce him at a rally-- when Schumer threatened Bernie with the loss of his committee chairmanship if he did anything against Patrick Murphy (as well as Schumercrats Ted Strickland in Ohio and fracking lobbyist Katie McGuinty in Pennsylvania. I felt sad for the revolution-- and sad for what Bernie probably had to go through over this crap. Grayson, arriving at the rally, was prevented from getting onstage, a Bernie staffer saying only that there had been a change of plans.

But he did send out e-mail endorsements for several candidates, including the excellent Zephyr Teachout and Eric Kingson in New York and Pramila Jayapal in Washington, whose primaries are coming up. His efforts have helped them raise competitive money and Teachout and Jayapal look like sure bets. He helped Lucy Flores in the same way but she was wiped out by an arguably even more progressive candidate, Ruben Kihuen, in Nevada two weeks ago. Of all these candidates, though, Kingson has the most difficult race-- against two unaccomplished establishment hacks, one backed by former Blue Dog Kirsten Gillibrand and Schumer and one backed by former Blue Dog Steve Israel. And Kingson is the candidate who Bernie actually knows and has worked with. Kingson, co-founder of SocialSecurityWorks, has been a witness the Democrats call when the GOP and New Dems try to cut Social Security. He was one of the people who came up with the concept of expanding Social Security, which even Obama and Hillary have very grudgingly come around to accept.

Now that Bernie is no longer on the road campaigning for himself, the first candidate he is campaigning for is Kingson. He's joining him for a rally at the Oncenter Convention Center ballroom at 4 p.m. today!

"It would have been enough if he had given me a statement of support," Kingson said in an interview Wednesday night after learning of the Sanders visit. "The reality is I'm very grateful and I'm excited. I think it will be quite significant for my campaign and the underlying values that we share."

...Last week, Sanders appointed Kingson to a committee that will help write the platform for the Democratic National Convention in July. Kingson will be one of five New York representatives on the national committee.

Kingson has been considered an underdog in the Democratic primary on Tuesday. He faces Colleen Deacon, 39, of Syracuse, and Syracuse lawyer Steve Williams, 53, of Baldwinsville. The winner will face U.S. Rep. John Katko, R-Camillus, in the November election.
Too late for Dave-- but not for Eric Kingson in NY-24

This kind of thing would have won Oregon's 5th congressional district primary for Berniecrat Dave McTeague and ridden Congress of the odious reactionary head Blue Dog Kurt Schrader, the congressman who actually introduced an amendment to cut Social Security benefits. Bernie won every single county in his district, beating Hillary decisively-- but his voters didn't know to vote down-ticket and Schrader won 67,124 (72.6%) to 25,289 (27.4%). Democrats and independents cast ballots for Bernie and for one of the reactionaries working to cut Social Security and Medicare and to pass the TPP. That augured poorly for the political revolution. Bernie's visit today to Syracuse renews my hope. Please consider contributing to Kingson's get out the vote efforts for next week here at the BernieCongress thermometer:
Goal Thermometer

UPDATE: Bernie Pushing Hard In New York

Yesterday, Bernie's campaign sent this action alert to his supporters nationwide:
As Bernie has said many times, lasting progressive change can't come from the top down. It will require electing candidates up and down the ballot who aren't afraid to challenge the billionaire class and stand up for the rest of us.

We have a great opportunity to do just that with two Bernie-endorsed candidates running for Congress in New York-- but they're facing a critical primary election on Tuesday, June 28, and really need our help.

Can you get on the phone for an hour or two before Tuesday to make calls for Zephyr Teachout and Eric Kingson?

Zephyr Teachout literally wrote the book on political corruption. She understands better than anyone how special interests try to buy off politicians, and she's dedicated her career to fixing our broken political system. She stood up to the Albany establishment in 2014 when she ran for governor against an incumbent and got 35% of the vote. She also helped environmental advocates achieve a landmark victory with the statewide ban on fracking in New York.

Eric Kingson has been a leader in the fight to save and expand Social Security since day one. He's running for Congress because he's fed up with the wealthy and powerful interests that put profit ahead of the environment, ahead of investing in our nation's infrastructure, and ahead of supporting our public education system.

Zephyr and Eric's primaries both take place on Tuesday, and we need to make all the calls we can to help them win.

With your help, our political revolution will roll onwards. Fundamental changes to our entrenched political system will only be possible if we elect strong leaders at every level of our government who are ready to challenge the status quo. So we hope you can help out by making some calls for Zephyr Teachout or for Eric Kingson before Tuesday's primary.

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Why The Far Right's Brexit Win Makes Sense


European stock markets crashed this morning after the surprisingly strong 51.9-48.1% vote in the U.K. for that country to leave the European Union. The pound sank an astounding 10%-- to its lowest levels since 1985, from as high as $1.50 to $1.33. Gold shot up 5%. As the BBC explained to Brexit voters who might not understand what that means, "a weaker pound buys fewer dollars or other foreign currencies, which makes it more expensive to buy products from abroad." The pound was off 7% against the Euro and the Euro itself tumbled against the dollar (3.3% down, it's biggest one day fall in history").

Scotland wants to hold another referendum on leaving the U.K. so that it can remain part of the E.U. Meanwhile, the neo-Nazi parties in Europe all started howling for their own referendums. Votes weren't even fully counted when Dutch right-wing extremist (and Trump ally) Geert Wilders tweeted that he wanted Holland out next. (This morning on a promotional tour of a golf course he has a stake in in Scotland, Trump's interpretation of the worldwide financial turmoil caused by Brexit was that it would be good for his golf course business.)

France’s Front National (FN) saw it as a clear boost for Marine Le Pen’s presidential bid next year and momentum for the party’s anti-Europe and anti-immigration line.

Le Pen told RTL radio: “Like a lot of French people, I’m very happy that the British people held on and made the right choice. What we thought was impossible yesterday has now become possible.”

Florian Philippot, the party’s vice president, tweeted: “The freedom of the people always ends up winning! Bravo United Kingdom. Now it’s our turn!”

The Dutch far-right and anti-immigration leader Geert Wilders called on Friday for a referendum on the Netherlands’ membership of the European Union.

“We want be in charge of our own country, our own money, our own borders, and our own immigration policy,” he said in a statement.

In Germany, Beatrix von Storch, an MEP for rightwing populist party Alternative für Deutschland, who was recently expelled from the Tories’ party group in the European Parliament over her “shooting refugees” comments, welcomed the result.

“The 23 June is a historic day. It is Great Britain’s independence day. The people were asked-- and they decided. The European Union as a political union has failed.”

Le Pen, who is expected to comfortably reach the final round of next year’s French presidential election, had seized on the UK’s EU referendum to boost her own critical stance on the European Union. The anti-immigration and anti-Europe party has said that if Le Pen won the French presidency, it would within six months hold its own in-out referendum on France’s membership of the European Union and campaign for a French exit, or “Frexit.”

Although Le Pen ultimately decided against travelling to the UK to campaign for Brexit, she vocally backed the leave campaign.

She told French TV this week that the UK referendum was proof the EU was “decaying”, saying that France had “a thousand more reasons to leave than the UK because we have the euro and Schengen [passport-free zone].” She had warned that the “strategy of terror” by pro-EU campaigners in the UK no longer worked.

In a speech in Vienna last week at a meeting of rightwing, far-right and Eurosceptic parties convened under the motto “patriotic spring,” Le Pen said support for Brexit in the UK was one sign of a “new air” of patriotism sweeping Europe in what she called a "springtime of the people."

Polls suggest Le Pen could easily beat a mainstream candidate in next year’s presidential election to reach a second round run-off.

...Elsewhere, the leader of Italy’s far-right Northern League party was swift to celebrate the Brexit outcome. “Hurrah for the courage of free citizens! Heart, head and pride beat lies, threats and blackmail. THANKS UK, now it’s our turn,” said Matteo Salvini, whose popularity has increased in recent years on the back of an anti-EU, anti-immigration platform.
The vote in Britain wasn't entirely about racism, bigotry and xenophobia-- though that was certainly part of it. A lot of people who felt they had no stake in the status quo-- no stake in Britain's financial good times-- voted to smash he system. Many of Trump's supporters are what we've been referring to as "life's losers" and their motivations are not unlike many of the Brexit voters. "When you ain't got nothin', you ain't got nothin' to lose."

David Atkins got it right when he pointed out that we can "blame Brexit on racism and a lunatic fringe all [we] want. People are freaking pissed off and want to destroy the system they have because it's not working for them. A lot of people with conservative tendencies take it out on immigrants and 'the other.' But a whole lot of other people just want to get 'their' jobs and 'their' country back-- even if it means doing something patently stupid like Brexit or electing Donald Trump. Middle-class people forced into lower living standards do stuff like this. And the most shocked people about it are the centrists who clutch their pearls and tut tut over how untoward it all is."

Hillary and those around her are exactly who those tut-tutters are in our country. That's why Bernie outpolls her and outpolls Trump in every general election match-up. Trump knows exactly how to exploit this kind of toxic brew-- and count on him doing just that.

Cameron's office issued a statement saying he isn't resigning. Then he said he'd step down before October.

Let them eat austerity?

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Florida Senate Race Shouldn't Be About Little Marco vs Little Patrick


Lucky I didn't throw away any of my Marco Rubio art. Little Marco knows he can't get a good job in the real world so he's flip-flopped on his promises to move away from the taxpayers' trough get out of politics. Did anyone ever seriously think he wouldn't run again after Trump drove him out of the presidential primary with his tale between his legs? Little Marco...

Schumer's and Reid's (and, more importantly, Wall Street's) hand-picked candidate to go up against Rubio-- and lose-- is Patrick Murphy, who has ducked every single debate in his miserable career. That's right, the intellectually mediocre-- to be kind-- Murphy was too scared to debate Allen West and he's been too scared to debate alan Grayson in the current primary. Instead, he's blanketing the media with sewer money (from his mommy and daddy, from Wall Street, from the DSCC and from a wealthy and powerful Saudi family) ads and hoping no one notices. Rubio is a terrible debater but he would be able to gut and roast Murphy without breaking a sweat or drinking an Evian. Watching Grayson debate Rubio, on the other hand, would be an event for the entire country to focus on.

But Grayson has to get by the party bosses and their pathetic excuse for a candidate first, before he can get to Rubio. Yesterday he reminded his supporters that the party bosses are having a hard time propping Little Patrick up. When Corey Booker was sent down to Florida to save the day this week, hilarity ensued.
In a lengthy keynote speech, that Senator really had no choice but to try to say something-- anything-- good about my primary opponent. It was Mission Impossible. Here’s what he came up with:

(1) My opponent drove him from the airport to the event.

(2) My opponent has the same last name as someone already in the Senate. (They are unrelated.)

We really need to tell the DC Establishment to stick it where the sun don’t shine.

My opponent knows how to drive?? That’s it?? Are we electing a U.S. Senator, or a chauffeur? (Irony alert: my opponent is a trust fund baby, so he knows a lot about chauffeurs.)

Here are some things the bosses couldn’t say:
• “He has passed major legislation.” He hasn’t.
• “He has passed minor legislation.” He hasn’t.
• “He has organized major grassroots efforts.” He hasn’t.
• “He is an expert in a certain legislative domain.” He isn’t.
• “He has a lifelong history of helping people.” He doesn’t.
• Or even the lame “He was a success in the private sector.” He wasn’t

In fact, he has demonstrated only one major job skill: signing the back of PAC checks. Which actually gets you far in dirty, corrupt Washington, DC. In return, he hands over his voting card.

I’ve been listening to my opponent’s flacks and his “surrogates” all year now. They can’t even invent a reason why he should be a U.S. Senator. All they can say on his behalf is that he’s not me.

I would call him an empty suit, but the emperor has no clothes. No clothes at all.

But he’s exactly what the corrupt, arrogant, and malicious party bosses want. He’s obedient. He’s a callow tool. For them, that makes him perfect.

They’re forgetting one thing, though. They don’t decide who will be the Democratic nominee.

We do.

Sick and tired of the machinations and manipulations of the party politburo?
This morning Grayson's campaign manager, Mike Ceraso, responded to Rubio's announcement: "While Rep. Grayson is busy passing good, progressive legislation, he welcomes the chance to beat basically two Do Nothing Republicans in Patrick Murphy and No Show Marco this fall. But it’s shameful that Marco is trying to use the Orlando tragedy to further his 2020 presidential ambitions from a Senate seat that he’s barely sat in. Floridians will see through it. The Trump-Rubio ticket will fail." Have you ever clicked on one of the Blue America thermometers? This is the one that really could help make the U.S. Senate a far better place by keeping it free of Little Marcos and Little Patricks:
Goal Thermometer

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Chaos Everywhere-- And One Conservative Intellectual Blames A Century Of Reform


Jonathan Rauch's portrait of a dystopian America four years from now, includes complete government gridlock, multiple government shutdowns, 3 unfilled Supreme Court seats, a third Speaker after Ryan's resignation, a default, market collapse and economic downtown, utter governmental chaos and a President Hillary relieved to be ending her single term. The presidential field is shaping up to be Kanye West vs the especially repulsive Duck Dynasty guy, recently elected governor of Louisiana by refusing to ever trim his beard.

The lesson from 2016 was that Trump, Cruz and Bernie all demonstrated that "political parties no longer have either intelligible boundaries or enforceable norms, and, as a result, renegade political behavior pays... The very term party leaders has become an anachronism. Although Capitol Hill and the campaign trail are miles apart, the breakdown in order in both places reflects the underlying reality that there no longer is any such thing as a party leader. There are only individual actors, pursuing their own political interests and ideological missions willy-nilly, like excited gas molecules in an overheated balloon."
Chaos syndrome is a chronic decline in the political system’s capacity for self-organization. It begins with the weakening of the institutions and brokers-- political parties, career politicians, and congressional leaders and committees-- that have historically held politicians accountable to one another and prevented everyone in the system from pursuing naked self-interest all the time. As these intermediaries’ influence fades, politicians, activists, and voters all become more individualistic and unaccountable. The system atomizes. Chaos becomes the new normal-- both in campaigns and in the government itself.

Our intricate, informal system of political intermediation, which took many decades to build, did not commit suicide or die of old age; we reformed it to death. For decades, well-meaning political reformers have attacked intermediaries as corrupt, undemocratic, unnecessary, or (usually) all of the above. Americans have been busy demonizing and disempowering political professionals and parties... [C]haos syndrome is self-reinforcing. It causes governmental dysfunction, which fuels public anger, which incites political disruption, which causes yet more governmental dysfunction. Reversing the spiral will require understanding it.
Rauch is a twisted elitist who worships at the alter of Edmund Burke and his idea of reversing the spiral is to rescind all the pro-democracy reforms of the 19th and 20th century, although he doesn't advocate for the reinstitution of slavery for some reason. He pines for the iron first of party leaders, an independent electoral college that could do pretty much whatever it wanted, and for senators elected not by citizens but by (easily dominated) state legislatures. He seems to think things were be better if we could just get back to patronage machines, boss-controlled parties and congressional hierarchies that used rewards and the occasional punishment to encourage politicians to work together. These political middlemen, he seems to admire so, "could be undemocratic, high-handed, devious, secretive. But they had one great virtue: They brought order from chaos." He drools at the thought of lots and lots of "loyal, time-serving members of Congress," being bossed around by party bosses as an antidote to the "chaos" or anarchy he fears and loathes. He gets excited at the prospect of troublemakers (like Bernie and Cruz) facing "ostracism, marginalization, and difficulties with fund-raising." Oh, for the days of Tammany Hall!

"[O]verreacting to the threat of corruption," he asserted, "by stamping out influence-peddling (as distinct from bribery and extortion) is just as harmful." Who defines bribery and extortion? He may not have noticed that when politicians write the laws they define those practices to leave out their own behavior. "Political contributions," for example, look unseemly, but they play a vital role as political bonding agents," he insists. He admires the idea that "When a party raised a soft-money donation from a millionaire and used it to support a candidate’s campaign (a common practice until the 2002 McCain-Feingold law banned it in federal elections), the exchange of favors tied a knot of mutual accountability that linked candidate, party, and donor together and forced each to think about the interests of the others. Such transactions may not have comported with the Platonic ideal of democracy, but in the real world they did much to stabilize the system and discourage selfish behavior."

His heroes are the Establishment. The villains in his scenario are, of course, reformers and the public that turned against every aspect of insider politics: "professional politicians, closed-door negotiations, personal favors, party bosses, financial ties, all of it. Progressives accused middlemen of subverting the public interest; populists accused them of obstructing the people’s will; conservatives accused them of protecting and expanding big government." Picking candidates in primaries, rather than bosses chosing candidates, are just wrong for Rauch. He uses the example of Prescott Bush, a Nazi sympathizer, and progenitor of the wretched Bush political dynasty as an example of the fabulousness of the good old days.

In Rauch's universe the Working Families Party is the same evil as the Tea Party; Yale education of not, he doesn't seem capable of seeing the difference. They are both threats to his cherished establishment. Holding politicians accountable is a sin. The failure of the Grand Bargain-- cutting Social Security and Medicare-- was a tragedy.

Rauch contributed to Hillary's campaign and he wrote that "Trump, Sanders, and Ted Cruz have in common that they are political sociopaths-- meaning not that they are crazy, but that they don’t care what other politicians think about their behavior and they don’t need to care. That three of the four final presidential contenders in 2016 were political sociopaths is a sign of how far chaos syndrome has gone. The old, mediated system selected such people out. The new, disintermediated system seems to be selecting them in."

It's never bad leaders in Rauch's world-- just bad followers and bad voters. It doesn't seem like its dawned on him that many "leaders" have no "right" to be leaders but were just vomited up from the corrupt system he believes needs to be more-- not less-- corrupt. John Boehner and Paul Ryan may seem like grand statesmen to Rauch, but they are extremely mediocre hacks lacking fundamental leadership capacities. He chastises technology for allowing Trump to reach millions through Twitter without needing to pass network‑TV gatekeepers or spend a dime and Bernie for his ability to use the Internet to reach millions of donors without recourse to traditional fund-raising sources. He seems to rue the "atomization and cacophony" technology brings to a sclerotic-- to use of his his own favorite phrases-- political establishment. Awwww. "Finding no precedent," he whined, "for what he called Trump’s hijacking of an entire political party, Jon Meacham went so far as to tell Joe Scarborough in the Washington Post that George W. Bush might prove to be the last Republican president." Awwww again.

Instead of recognizing the inherent incapacity and mediocrity of the Ryans and Boehners and McCains and Romneys, he blames reform for the rise of Trump: "Nearly everyone panned party regulars for not stopping Trump much earlier, but no one explained just how the party regulars were supposed to have done that. Stopping an insurgency requires organizing a coalition against it, but an incapacity to organize is the whole problem. The reality is that the levers and buttons parties and political professionals might once have pulled and pushed had long since been disconnected."

Rauch wants to see corrupt and autocratic political bosses like Reid, Schumer, Emanuel, Hoyer and Wasserman Schultz strengthened, the opposite of what any democrat (or even Democrat) should be striving for. "Restrictions inhibiting the parties from coordinating with their own candidates serve to encourage political wildcatting, so repeal them. Limits on donations to the parties drive money to unaccountable outsiders, so lift them. Restoring the earmarks that help grease legislative success requires nothing more than a change in congressional rules. And there are all kinds of ways the parties could move insiders back to the center of the nomination process. If they wanted to, they could require would-be candidates to get petition signatures from elected officials and county party chairs, or they could send unbound delegates to their conventions (as several state parties are doing this year), or they could enhance the role of middlemen in a host of other ways... The biggest obstacle, I think, is the general public’s reflexive, unreasoning hostility to politicians and the process of politics. Neurotic hatred of the political class is the country’s last universally acceptable form of bigotry. Because that problem is mental, not mechanical, it really is hard to remedy." Thank God!

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What Would It Take For The GOP To Actually Deny Trump The Nomination?


You may have heard a rising star in the Georgia Republican Party, first vice chairman Michael McNeely, was unceremoniously kicked out of a Donald Trump event in Atlanta. He's a Trump supporter and a convention delegate. What the media has been shy about discussing is that party status is trumped by race: no negroes welcome anywhere near Mr. Trump.

Trump, who claimed-- another lie-- that he's willing to self-fund his campaign (when he's been using it to make a profit for himself), was on Fox & Friends Tuesday whining about how Republicans are giving him enough support: "I need support from the Republicans. I mean, in some ways I get more support from the Democrats than I do the Republicans." He was bitching about not having the full support of Republican governors, senators and congressmen, many of whom are worried that he's so toxic that their own careers will be damaged by association with him in the minds of voters.

The desperate movement among Republican convention delegates to deny him the nomination is growing, but is unlikely to succeed. You've heard the complaints: "he peppers his rallies with condemnations of fellow Republicans, recounts how he defeated his GOP primary opponents and spouts controversial rhetoric and positions popular with his core base but suspect among the more politically diverse November electorate. Said one delegate: "If he keeps sinking and sinking and sinking-- if he keeps attacking Republicans, I'd be interested in dumping him."

The right-wing website, Washington Examiner reported that just the existence of the insurgency reveals the extent of Trump's problems.
At a time when he should be unifying the GOP for the fight ahead against Democrat Hillary Clinton, Trump is instead attempting to put out fires of dissension that he is mostly responsible for fanning.

The situation has left the Republican Party paralyzed.

"Most Republican leaders are resigned to sleeping in the bed voters have made, believing the long-term damage will be made far worse by ousting Trump," a Republican National Committee member told the Washington Examiner on Monday.

Specifically regarding the prospects for an insurgency, this RNC member added: "It's an absolute pipe dream unless [House Speaker] Paul Ryan or [RNC Chairman] Reince Priebus are on board."

The backlash comes just four weeks before Republicans are set to gather in Cleveland to crown Trump their 2016 nominee. It's being spearheaded by members of the "#NeverTrump" crowd inside the GOP, as well as Republicans who supported Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the primary.

...The conspiring convention delegates have in recent days participated in a series of conference calls to flesh out a cohesive strategy.

Their initial goal is to push for changes to the convention rules that would make it easier for delegates to sidestep rules binding the vote of the delegates on first ballot on the convention floor to the candidate that won the cause or primary in their state, and vote their conscience. Doing so could make it easier to block Trump.
Look at this meme that was sent out by Doug Applegate, the Democratic candidate running against the wealthiest Republican in Congress, Darrell Issa in what was thought to be a safely red San Diego County congressional district (CA-49):

About 26% Hispanic-- and with voter registration growing rapidly in that community-- Issa is beginning to feel there might be a price to pay for his support for Trump. McCain won the district with 53% and Romney won it with 52.4%. Both Meg Whitman (56.5%) and Carly Fiorina (59.3%) won there and Issa has won re-election with 58% in 2012 and with 60% in 2014. As of May 18 Applegate had spent $39,636 to Issa's $637,148. Issa has $3,772,228 in his warchest and Applegate has $13,809. That a poll shows them tied is stunning and if results like that begin to show up around the country for entrenched Republicans... well, that would be the only way I can see the convention denying Trump the nomination. Get the popcorn ready.

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Was The Orlando Shooter Gay?


I just got back from my from my first visit to Azerbaijan. Corruption is rife and the government is authoritarian but those aren't aspects tourists notice. The country is beautiful, everything is inexpensive and the people are absolutely wonderful. Aerbaijan was the first Muslim-majority state that was dedicated to secularism. A parliamentary democracy, it started worked on social reform decades ago. It shows today in the way men and women interact with each other on all levels. The role of women in Azerbaijan seems to have far more in common with Europe than it does with other Muslim-majority states I've spent time in, from fairly westernized Morocco, through Arab heartland countries like Egypt, Palestine and the UAE to disparate countries like Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Azerbaijan is the polar opposite of Afghanistan in the societal role of women. It could hardly be more different. And that role of women in society profoundly impacts what we in the west call homosexuality.

A few years ago I wrote about Afghanistan's unique and pervasive bacha bazi subculture. That isn't part of the Omar Mateen story, although the New York-born, Florida-raised Mateen comes from a traditional Afghan family where Pashtunwali-- the Pashtun Code-- was the basic foundation of life for the immigrant family. It's impossible to talk intelligently about Mateen's sexuality without reference to Pashtunwali, which, of course, has been completely left out of the discussion by the American media.

The code is an oral tradition that governs the lives of Pashtun males and goes back thousands of years, long before Islam came to Afghanistan or Pakistanand although Afs tend to not differentiate between Pashtunwali and Islam, the two are often at odds-- and Pashtunwali takes precedence, even among the most conservative and fundamentalist Muslim society in the world. (I've read that Pashtunwali is widely followed by the Pashtun diaspora.)

"Women are for children, boys are for pleasure" is an Afghan (Pashtun) aphorism that flows from Pashtunwali but is unrelated to the Koran. Keep in mind and then remember that in Afghan society only the label of homosexuality causes social discomfort, never the practice, not even the open practice. When people in the West study the code, what they learn about Pashtunwali is first and foremost courage (tora), revenge (badal), hospitality (melmestia), and generosity to the defeated. It promotes self-respect, independence, justice, love, forgiveness (as well as revenge) and tolerance toward all. I found Afghanistan to be one of the best of the over 100 countries I've visited. I've been there twice-- first in 1969 when I was still a kid-- and I know, and regret, that I can never go back.

I want to lay out a few tenets of Pashtunwali that seem to have played a role in the sad tale of Omar Mateen. First Nyaw aw Badal (justice and revenge), which compels Afghan men to seek justice or take revenge against a perceived wrongdoer. No time limit restricts the period in which revenge can be taken. Justice in Pashtun lore includes even a mere taunt which "counts" as an insult and which usually can only be redressed by shedding the taunter's blood. If he is out of reach, his closest male relation must suffer the penalty instead. Badal may lead to blood feuds that can last generations and involve whole tribes with the loss of hundreds of lives. And then comes Turah (bravery), compelling a Pashtun male to defend his property, honor and family from incursions. He must always stand bravely against tyranny and be able to defend what he sees as his "honor." Death can follow if anyone offends this principle. Combine this with Sabat (loyalty), which mandates that Pashtun men owe loyalty to their family, friends and tribe members. Pashtuns can never become disloyal as this would be a matter of shame for their families and themselves.

This first hand account by a man who had sex with Marteen multiple times fits the pattern you might expect. Mateen, he said wasn't interested in terrorism as much as he was in revenge, angry and upset after a man he had sex with later revealed he was HIV positive.

Friday, Kevin Sullivan and William Wan wrote a piece for the Washington Post, Troubled. Quiet. Macho. Angry. The volatile life of the Orlando shooter. It isn't worthless because it gives some of the details of Mateen's life but analysis is utterly lacking.

Right off the bat, they write about Mateen's "lifetime of angst and embarrassment." He was humiliated, bullied and disrespected all through his childhood and school years. Acquaintances recall him as "unpredictable, angry and sometimes threatening." On a superficial level, he reacted by becoming a bulked-up bodybuilder who learned how to shoot guns. He worked at a Gold's Gym and at a GNC. Sometimes he denied being a Muslim; other times he claimed kinship to Osama bin-Laden.
Mateen appeared conflicted about his religion and his sexuality, according to dozens of interviews with those who knew him. He married twice, each time to a woman he had met online, even though he also seemed drawn to gay life and culture.

...But over the years, Mateen’s inner conflict seemed to explode again and again-- not only at the [police] training academy but also toward classmates, toward co-workers, toward his first wife and finally toward the 49 strangers he left massacred on the bloody floor of the Pulse nightclub.

...William Winkler, 30, of Orlando was a classmate of Mateen’s at Mariposa Elementary, where his mother taught Mateen in fourth and fifth grades.

Winkler recalled Mateen taking other kids’ toys and acting like a bully, especially toward girls. Winkler said that Mateen acted superior to others and that teachers had great difficulty with him.

“I do remember the teachers at the school wanting to get him help desperately, as he was just such an angry kid,” said Winkler, who remembered Mateen having few friends. He was not sure whether Mateen was ever diagnosed with any learning difficulties but remembers him frequently requiring one-on-one tutoring with teachers.

...Mateen’s father dropped his son off at school every day, Winkler said, and he had a reputation for being disrespectful of female teachers and dismissive of complaints about his son.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Mateen was 14 and a sophomore at the Spectrum alternative school, a campus in Stuart, Fla., for students with behavioral issues.

Months earlier, he had been expelled from Martin County High School for a fight with another student in math class, public records show. He was charged with battery and disturbing school functions. Officials declined to prosecute, but Mateen later listed the incident on job applications as an adult.

On the morning of the 9/11 attacks, one former classmate recalled a teacher turning on a television and the students watching as the second plane hit.

“[Mateen] was smiling. It was almost like surreal how happy he was about what had happened to us,” said the former classmate, who did not want his name used, because he did not want people to know he attended a school for poorly behaved students.

After watching the second tower get hit on a classroom TV, Mateen stood up and claimed that Osama bin Laden was his uncle, said the classmate, whose account was corroborated by others.

“Back then, we didn’t even really know who Osama bin Laden was,” he said. “But he talked about shooting AK-47s... He said he shot them and his uncle taught him how to shoot them.”

The classmate recalled other students becoming angry. “The teacher could tell we wanted to hurt him, so the teacher grabbed him” and sent him to the dean’s office, he said.

Mateen’s father was called and came to pick him up. “I remember his dad walking up,” the classmate said. “And in the courtyard in front of everyone, the dad slapped him right across the face.”

Other classmates described Mateen as disruptive, but some said he was more of a class clown than a troublemaker. Several said that Mateen, who was overweight, often got picked on.

“He was brutally bullied,” said Justin Delancy, who said he rode the school bus with Mateen for several years. “He was a chubby kid and got bullied about his weight. He was probably one of the only kids of [Afghan] descent. That made him stand out a bit as well.”

“He was eccentric,” Delancy said. “He was just one of those guys that people wanted to bully because he was a pushover. He’d try to get a seat [on the bus]. Couldn’t get a seat. Someone would slap him on back of head. He’d try to joke and laugh and make fun of himself to get the attention off of himself. But it didn’t work.”

...The elder Mateen said in an interview this week his son was “a very respectful person.”

“He respected his family,” he said, “especially the parents.”

...Friends and co-workers gave conflicting reports about Mateen’s religiosity and personality at the time. Some said he was extremely pious and serious, but others described him chasing girls, going to parties and drinking.

“He was fun,” said Ryan Jones, 27, who said he often hung out with Mateen.

Mateen hung out at the mall with an openly gay former classmate, Samuel King, and many of King’s gay friends.

“He had to know [we were gay], but I never got any sense of homophobia or aggression from him,” King said.

Mateen was also quickly starting to transform himself physically.

Friends at the time said the chubby teenager, who stood just under 6 feet tall, was working out constantly and starting to add massive amounts of muscle-- with a little help from chemical “juice.”

Margaret Barone, a former manager of the GNC where Mateen worked in 2006, recalled Mateen as a sweet young employee who always called her “Miss Margaret.” She said she and other employees always assumed Mateen was gay.

She remembered Mateen and other employees talking about drugs they had taken and Mateen saying that he had taken ecstasy. Barone recalled another employee, an assistant manager who was also Muslim, becoming upset after going out with Mateen a few times and seeing him drink to the point of blacking out.

“He said he didn’t like the things Omar was doing,” she said. “He says to me: ‘He gets too crazy. He blacks out. He starts fighting. He didn’t care whether he got beat up or killed, the way he was acting.’”

Barone also remembered Mateen’s outward transformation.

“If his arms were 20 inches, he had them over 40,” she said. “He was doing massive steroids that he said he was getting through the mail. He’d come in and buy $50 or $60 worth of protein powders, and also the supplements we sold.”

...“This kid bulked up so fast and so quick that he had stretch marks on his skin,” Barone said. “When I tell you he bulked up, oh my Lord, it was like seeing a puny little kid turn into the Hulk.”

...Once an overweight kid who’d been bullied on the school bus, Mateen was now a hulking bodybuilder packing a gun.

He wasn’t quite a police officer, but nobody was pushing him around anymore.

Mateen also found a wife.

In April 2009 in Port St. Lucie, he married Sitora Yusifiy, a New Jersey real estate agent who said she met Mateen through an online dating service.

At first, she said, they lived with his parents and he seemed “normal,” but then the physical and emotional abuse started.

“He was not a stable person,” she said. “He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn’t finished or something like that.”

She said he would slap her with an open hand and pull her hair.

Yusifiy said Mateen was not a devout Muslim and preferred spending his free time working out at the gym. She said she never saw signs that he held radical beliefs.

They separated after just nine months.

In September 2011, three months after his divorce was final, Mateen remarried, to another woman he met online.

...From as early as his days at Indian River Community College, some friends and co-workers wondered whether Mateen was gay. Some simply assumed it.

One former classmate at the college told the Palm Beach Post that he believed Mateen was gay and that Mateen once tried to pick him up at a bar.

The classmate, who is gay but was not out yet in 2006, said he and Mateen and other classmates would sometimes go to gay nightclubs after classes. On one such evening, the classmate said, Mateen asked him whether he was gay, which he denied.

“He said, ‘Well if you were gay, you would be my type.’ I said okay and just went on with the night,” said the classmate, who was not identified by the newspaper. “It was not anything too crazy, but I take that as a pickup line.”

David Gonzalez, 34, a gay man who lives next door to Mateen’s parents, remembers how Mateen used to look at him “in a certain way like he wanted me to approach him. He knew I was gay.”

If Mateen were interested in men, it would have been difficult to tell his father.

The elder Mateen has expressed strict conservative views about homosexuality, posting a video on his Facebook page saying that “God himself will punish those involved in homosexuality. This is not for the servants” of God.

Seddique Mateen said he didn’t believe his son was gay, telling reporters, “I don’t believe he was a whatever-you-call-it.”

He said his son Mateen had become enraged a few months earlier at the sight of a pair of gay men being affectionate with each other.

“We were in downtown Miami, Bayside, people were playing music. And he saw two men kissing each other in front of his wife and kid and he got very angry,” he told reporters. “They were kissing each other and touching each other and he said: ‘Look at that. In front of my son they are doing that.’”

But a number of men have told media outlets in the past week that they traded messages with Mateen on gay dating apps such as Jack’d.

...One Orlando man, Cord Cedeno, 23, told The Post that Mateen reached out to him on Grindr, another gay dating app. Cedeno said Mateen tried to flirt with him but he was not interested. “It was the picture of him wearing a tie,” Cedeno said. “I blocked him.”

...Investigators tracing the ­often-conflicting details of Mateen’s life are still struggling with the “why” of his rampage Sunday. Was he a radicalized Islamist militant, or was that just bravado? Was it Islamic State ideology or some personal demon that drove him to target gay people? Was it something else entirely that snapped in Mateen’s troubled mind?

The “why” is elusive, but investigators have learned a few key details about the final days of his life:

Mateen purchased an assault-style rifle and a handgun at a Port St. Lucie gun shop in the first week of June.

At some point, Salman [his second wife] accompanied Mateen on a shopping trip to buy ammunition.

Between June 5 and 9, Mateen and Salman traveled to Orlando and visited Pulse, the popular gay nightclub, for “reconnaissance.”

Last Friday, June 10, Mateen went to the Fort Pierce mosque to pray and spent more than an hour there with his 3-year-old son.

On Saturday, Mateen posted messages on Facebook pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr ­al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State terrorist group.

“America and Russia stop bombing the Islamic state,” he wrote. “I pledge my alliance to abu bakr al Baghdadi... may Allah accept me.”

He added: “The real muslims will never accept the filthy ways of the west,” and, “You kill innocent women and children by doing us airstrikes... now taste the Islamic state vengeance.”

That evening, as Mateen was preparing to leave their Fort Pierce home, Salman warned him against anything he might be planning.

Then Omar Mateen got into his car, drove to Orlando, and walked into the nightclub.

The U.S. military has a tremendous amount of experience in and knowledge of Afghan society. After all, our occupation of that country is America's longest war. These observations about what we call homosexuality in Afghanistan  are all unclassified
Some of its root causes lie in the severe segregation of women, the prohibitive cost of marriage within Pashtun tribal codes, and the depressed economic situation into which young Pashtun men are placed.

Other root causes include a long-standing cultural tradition in which boys are appreciated for physical beauty and apprenticed to older men for their sexual initiation. The fallout of this pattern of behavior over generations has a profound impact on Pashtun society and culture.

Homosexuality is strictly prohibited in Islam, but cultural interpretations of Islamic teaching prevalent in Pashtun areas of southern Afghanistan tacitly condone it in comparison to heterosexual relationships in several contexts.

Pashtun men are freer with companionship, affection, emotional and artistic expression, and the trust bred of familiarity with other men. They often lack the experience of these aspects of life with women.

This usurping of the female role may contribute to the alienation of women over generations, and their eventual relegation to extreme segregation and abuse.

One of the primary and obvious causes of this cultural tendency toward sexual expression between males is Pashtun society's extremely limited access to women. Heterosexual relationships are only allowable within the bounds of marriage, and Pashtun honor demands that a man be able to demonstrate his ability to support a wife and family, as well as produce abundant wedding-gifts for the bride and her parents, before he is allowed to marry. Therefore, given the economic situation of most young Pashtun men and the current state of employment and agriculture within the Pashtun regions of Afghanistan, marriage becomes a nearly unattainable possibility for many. A controversial Los Angeles Times article highlighted this issue and featured an interview with a young Afgan man whose situation was typical of this circumstance: In his 29 years, Mohammed Daud has seen the faces of perhaps 200 women. A few dozen were family members. The rest were glimpses stolen when he should not have been looking and the women were caught without their face-shrouding burkas. "How can you fall in love with a girl if you can't see her face?" he asks.

Daud is unmarried and has sex only with men and boys. But he does not consider himself homosexual, at least not in the Western sense. "I like boys, but I like girls better," he says. "It's just that we can't see the women to see if they are beautiful. But we can see the boys, and so we can tell which of them is beautiful."

Daud's insistence that his behavior should not label him as homosexual is the next important point in understanding the nature of this dynamic, and opens the doors to a complex interrelationship between Islam and its cultural interpretations. Even men who practice homosexuality exclusively are not labeled by themselves or their counterparts as homosexual.

...[U]sing another man for sexual gratification would be regarded as a foible--undesirable but far preferable to sex with a ineligible woman, which in the context of Pashtun honor, would likely result in issues of revenge and honor killings. These killings are a Pashtun, not Islamic requirement, although the two tend to become inexorably bound in the minds of rural villagers.
So, was Mateen "gay?" Is that why he murdered dozens of people in Orlando. Within hours of hearing about the crime, I mentioned here at DWT that he was "sexually repressed." I should have said his parents' culture is. Not dealing with it isn't the way to handle it.

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