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    Ann Rostow: OK Boomers

    By Ann Rostow–

    OK Boomers

    I admit to being a boomer, which is becoming kind of embarrassing as the years go by. But hey, I have long looked forward to the time when the President of the United States is younger than me. It’s kind of a benchmark in life. A sign that those of your generation, or even just your birth decade, can pour a cocktail for themselves and wish everyone luck. 

    And sure enough, it all worked out just as I would have hoped. My group is younger than Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, but at last we danced the night away in 2008 when Obama came on the scene and we happily passed the torch to a slightly younger cohort for the first time. 

    Then, in the blink of an eye, the torch was wrenched back and now a slew of old timers have returned for another grab at power. Trump, even Hillary, Biden, Warren, Sanders, and now damn Michael Bloomberg. What the hell? These aren’t even all boomers. Several of them are from the Silent Generation or whatever those guys are called. Is Bob Dole still alive? Why doesn’t he throw his hat in the ring? Low T maybe?

    I know that Sanders in particular, who I think at 78 is the oldest candidate in the running, does well with young voters. This is because (as I’ve pointed out to you youngsters several times already) everyone in the AARP files knows very well that age weighs on you. I don’t have to be pushing 80 personally to know that it’s too old to be running the United States. I guess if you’re in your mid-twenties you might think age is “just a number.” Hmmm. Here’s news. It’s not. Just watch Joe Biden “jog” to the podium in his dark glasses. He’s not fooling anyone. As for Bloomberg, he looks like he left his teeth in a glass on his bedside table.

    Quite frankly, I don’t know whom I support any longer. Warren’s health care plan is too cumbersome for me (and the rest of the electorate). Kamala doesn’t seem to have traction. Biden’s too frail. I can’t forgive Klobuchar for dehumanizing her staff. This leaves me with Pete Buttigieg, whom I like but who seems not quite ready for prime time. Can he really beat Trump? What about the gay factor? He has beautiful shiny thick hair, but isn’t he too young? Who else is out there? Who will rid us of this troublesome president? Deval Patrick?

    What’s in a Word?

    Mel came back from the grocery store with a jumbo box of microwave popcorn in anticipation of public impeachment testimony. I can’t imagine that Trump will be convicted in the Senate, but I think that he will be damaged. Interestingly, as noted by Harvard Law’s Laurence Tribe in the Washington Post, a president (or anyone) can be convicted, not by two-thirds of the Senate, but by a two-thirds majority of those Senators present at the impeachment vote. 

    To reemphasize, Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution, gives the Senate the responsibility to try impeachments, and: “no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present.”

    Depending on how things go, if I’m a Republican senator, I might have the flu that day. If 20 GOP senators simply didn’t show up, you’d need only 54 votes to convict; 47 Democrats (and Independents) plus seven of the remaining Republicans. Given that the mood of the country would have to be dark indeed in order to send 20 senators into hiding to begin with, that’s not an impossible number. You can play with the math yourself. For example, 10 absent GOP senators means you would need 13 of the remaining 43 Republicans voting to convict.  

    I’m not suggesting this is a likely possibility. I’m just puzzled that no one is discussing these scenarios, given that the pundits and anchors and talking heads are spending hours repeating themselves like broken records and making ponderous announcements about information that has been in the public domain for days. Yet here’s a fascinating topic that everyone ignores. Pourquoi? Am I missing something? Surely not.

    O Come All Ye Faithful

    It’s the holiday season again, have you noticed? It’s not just around the corner. It’s here! Complete with the be-ribboned car advertisements that now serve as the harbinger of Christmas cheer. I actually like the holiday season, although I was once somewhat Grinch-like about the stressful shopping and relentless joie de vivre. Back in the day, we had no real choice but to hunt for presents in large crowds at the horrible shopping mall, time winding down and pressure building up until the glittery earrings at the kiosk next to the Gap suddenly looked like a great gift for the fashionable sister who rarely wore jewelry. Cross Sally off the list and keep on moving. 

    Once when I was shopping with my mother as a kid, she sent me off on a side mission to find presents for my cousins. I bought my seven-year-old cousin Ronnie a whiskey flask, which became a source of family amusement for many years even though looking back, it was my mother who actually paid for it and sent it. At any rate, the selection reflected my earliest attitudes towards Christmas, shopping, and department stores. We all need a drink.

    I do have more news, by the way. For example, the Kentucky Supreme Court dropped the case about the T-shirt company that refused to make shirts for Lexington Pride in violation of the city’s non-discrimination ordinance. The T-shirt company won its lawsuit before a lower court and the state appellate court, and the Kentucky Supremes decided that the GLBT group lacked standing to appeal since the ordinance only applied to individuals. What. Ever.

    And a federal judge in New York has struck one of the Trump administration’s more insidious policy devolutions, to wit a “conscience rule” that allows health care workers to refuse treatment on religious grounds. I did not read the 147-page decision by Judge Paul Engelmayer, but I gather Engelmayer ruled that the proposal violated the Administrative Procedures Act, a once tedious sounding statute that now seems to ensnarl many of the Trump initiatives. I like it! (For example, the APA, if I may be so familiar, is a key part of the attack on Trump’s breezy attempt to end the Dreamer program, as well as one of the foundations on which Chief Justice Roberts kept the Commerce Department from using the Census to ask about citizenship.)

    That conscience rule, by the way, was justified by Trump and company based on a sharp rise in complaints of religious “discrimination” in the medical system. As the judge noted during oral arguments, however, 80 percent of that rise involved objections to vaccines (not covered by the policy to begin with) while most of the other new complaints were duplicates or unrelated to the subject. Thanks New York Times.

    Careful What You Wish For

    I’m trying to avoid entire columns devoted to legal news, or weighted heavily in that direction, but I have to point out something. Have you been reading that Congress is trying to reopen the ratification window for the Equal Rights Amendment? As you know, the Constitution cannot be amended without a corresponding vote by three fourths of the state legislatures. The ERA, which would ban sex discrimination in the Constitution, was approved by Congress in 1972 and ratified by 35 states, three short of passage, by the 1982 deadline. But the deadline was not written in stone, advocates say. Indeed, Congress arguably has the power to simply pass a bill to extend the ratification deadline for the 1972 amendment and/or remove the deadline altogether. 

    Since 1982, two more states have ratified the ERA, while five states claim to have taken back their ratification (which is probably illegal under the rules). Now that Virginia has turned its legislature blue, a 38th state looms on the horizon so the ERA is back in the headlines. 

    Sounds good, right? 

    I have some fears. Our legal status as GLBTs is hanging by a thread as the High Court decides whether or not discrimination “because of sex” under federal law includes sexual orientation and/or transgender status. 

    At oral arguments, we watched Justice Gorsuch furrow his brow over whether the courts should take into account the “drastic social upheaval” that would accompany a ruling in our favor. Even though courts have been extending sex discrimination protections to gay plaintiffs for years, and even though two dozen states protect us against bias as do the majority of Fortune 500 companies, there’s still a feeling that America isn’t quite ready for gay equality, let alone trans rights.

    But come on, we argue! We’re just talking about protecting hard working Americans against pure prejudice in the workplace and maybe elsewhere. We say “maybe elsewhere” because we understand that a ruling to expand the definition of sex discrimination in Title VII, the workplace law under consideration by the Court, would effectively expand that definition throughout federal law. 

    And if the ERA resurfaces and becomes the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? 

    Well, um, logically, that would mean that a ruling in our favor in these two big sex bias cases would enshrine gay rights and/or transgender rights into the text of the Constitution under the umbrella of the new Amendment that states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Don’t misunderstand me, I think that would be terrific. But I also think the prospect of such a profound and permanent decision for gay rights would be too scary for the Court majority, who would not only screech to a full stop short of the Title VII workplace decisions, but would also make sure that a harsh ruling moved them far away from the edge of the cliff that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. You see the dilemma?

    Tales from The Candy Planet Pet Cafe

    By the way, speaking of the High Court, did you see that Justices Alito and Kavanaugh had a meeting the other day with Brian Brown, president of the antigay National Organization for Marriage, along with two other far right kooks who are hoping to oust the pope? That’s from Mother Jones, which featured a photo of the conclave in what looks to be a Court dining room. 

    Alito doesn’t surprise me. But aside from his beer drinking and sexual assaults, Kavanaugh is something of a blank slate. And how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln? At any rate, news bits like this one dirty things up.

    Finally, my cousin (for whose brother I selected the Christmas flask) has alerted us to the news that—for a price—you can dye your dog to look like a panda. The service is available at a pet cafe in southwest China, where you can have your dog transformed to his or her ultimate cuteness for about $212.00. 

    Entrepreneur Lu Yunning, 21, owner of the Candy Planet Pet Cafe in Chengdu, tells Reuters that his cafe is now attracting 80 customers a day, although not all of them take the panda treatment. His cafe also offers washes and hotel services.

    Spoilsports at PETA have decried the panda pet process, warning that the dyes can cause allergic reactions and that the process is stressful for the dogs. Ah yes, but what’s the old saying, “in pain, beauty and beauty pain?” 

    Oh, and finally finally finally, I was seduced by an irresistible piece of clickbait the other day, featuring what looked like the crew of an ice-breaker or some other northern vessel, playing fetch with a sweet beluga whale. The guys would throw a rugby ball into the sea, and the whale would gleefully race to get it, and nose it back 50 yards or so to the boat where the whale’s new friends would retrieve it and throw it back. 

    It turns out that, of course, the touching video masked a darker reality. The whale’s friendliness reflected the fact that it was a trained animal, formerly a Russian spy whale who trusted humans and had at some point become dangerously dependent on human interaction. Scientists had worked hard to get this whale to survive as an independent creature in the wild, so the interference of the guys in the boat was a setback for him. 

    Can’t someone just adopt this little guy and feed him and play with him and keep him safe? Does he really have to fend for himself? What happened to his Russian handlers? Do you think he would like to be dyed like a panda?

    arostow@aol.com

    Published on November 14, 2019