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    Ann Rostow: Primary Colors

    By Ann Rostow–

    Primary Colors

    Never before in my voting life have I vacillated between so many candidates for such a long period of time. Most recently, you may recall that I flirted with Bloomberg for all of five minutes, seduced by his cash, his positive numbers in the African American community, and his apparent ability to beat Trump. Then came a raft of nasty videos from just a few years ago, his falling numbers in the African American community, and his absurdly bad debate performances. I was undecided for a time and finally decided to vote for Warren, because my beloved wife campaigned for her and I liked her a lot. Then, with days to go, Biden’s debate, his increasing popularity in South Carolina polls, and his ability to compete with Sanders pushed me over the edge.

    Readers, I voted for him.

    After ridiculing the man for months as an over-the-hill gaffe machine, he left me no choice. I can’t stand Sanders, and we must have a candidate with strong Black support in order to win in November; indeed, in order to deserve that win. Biden has that. Now if only he can get through the rest of the campaign without mentioning record players, ice boxes, telephone operators, or the time he took Nelson Mandela to the soda shop for a float and some penny candy, we might be okay. 

    As I write, Sanders is campaigning on the notion that Biden is bad on GLBT and women’s issues. You know, I’m not supporting him on those grounds, but he did author the Violence Against Women Act and spurred the Democratic embrace of same-sex marriage at a time when Obama and others were still publicly hedging their bets. True, he totally screwed Anita Hill. And he supported the Defense of Marriage Act while Bernie opposed it. Good for Sanders. And good for Vermont in general, the most gay-friendly state in the country at the time. But, as they say on my various BritBox shows, “needs must.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, but let’s move on.

    According to an NBC exit poll of 12 Super Tuesday states, the GLBT vote represented nine percent of the Democratic electorate. Some 40 percent voted of us for Sanders, 21 percent picked Warren and 19 percent joined me with Sleepy Joe. Another nine percent went for Pete, who had suspended his campaign by then, but who collected some early votes. 

    Statistics say we add up to about 4.5 percent of all registered voters, but we are a larger percentage of the Democratic Party, and we have historically voted at higher rates than other categories. 

    Last, while I have mixed feelings about Tom Perez, count me in as a fan of the “Democratic Party Establishment,” an amorphous cohort that would include Nancy Pelosi, the House majority, Barak and Michelle Obama, the vast numbers of voters, activists and volunteers who have deployed during this primary season, as well as lifelong yellow dog Democrats like me who—as the expression reflects—will vote for a yellow dog if such a candidate were to appear on a ballot with a “D” next to the name. 

    Anchors Aweigh!

    Some of us didn’t need the Me Too Movement in order to justify a profound exasperation with Chris Matthews, who got dumped by MSNBC, in part, after making “old school” flirtatious remarks to one of his female guests. Sorry, said the host of Hardball as he bowed out, acknowledging that this type of flattery is inappropriate. 

    That behavior was bad enough, but the man was also a blithering idiot, shouting over people and making anachronistic generalizations about politics that might have made sense in the 1980s, but had little to do with the modern world. No, Chris. The guys who take their lunch pails to work and talk politics over a beer at the bar in some small Pennsylvania mining town are not going to be the difference makers in 2020. And yes, Chris, you’re right. Things were different back in the day when you worked for Tip O’Neill. Because that was forty frigging years ago.

    Then there was his habit of slurring his words and speaking so quickly his speech dissolved into incoherent jabberwocky. He was so unwatchable we either turned off the TV or switched to Erin Burnett during his hour.  

    And speaking of anchors, I’ve been screaming at them lately for sloppy comments and casual number-crunching that culminated in this observation from Brian Williams.

    Quoting a tweet from journalist Mekita Rivas, Williams noted in Rivas’ words: “Bloomberg spent $500 million on ads. The U.S. population is 327 million. He could have given each American $1 million and still have money left over. I feel like a $1 million check would be life-changing for people. Yet he wasted it all on ads and STILL LOST.”

    Williams added: “It’s an incredible way of putting it.” Um, yes. Incredible is the word.

    Are there no editors or producers in the house? If Bloomberg gave each American one million dollars, it would not cost him $327 million. It would cost him $327 trillion. Are these people on autopilot? What explains this stupidity? It’s not just a lack of critical thinking, it’s a lack of thinking, period. Particularly since the tweeter actually spelled out the underlying numbers. 

    Rereading this, the anecdote is so stark that I have the urge to research a little more to make sure that this actually happened. I’m going to leave it as is, with the understanding that I will have to apologize in print if it’s not true. (There’s nothing worse than making snarky criticisms about accuracy, only to discover that you yourself are wrong.)

    Update. The original tweet was indeed accurate, but I see that I’m the zillionth person to complain about it. Mekita Rivas is now admitting, “I’m bad at math.” Hey, it happens to the best of us.

    The Guy Who Came in From the Cold

    Do you remember Aaron Schock, the Illinois Congressman who sent our gaydars off the charts by ticking all the gay male stereotype boxes one by one? For me, the final straw was the time he went to a White House picnic in 2010 wearing a pink checked shirt, white pants, and a turquoise belt. Schock, an anti-gay traditional values guy, made a show of burning the belt after a picture of him in this outfit went viral on Gawker. 

    The man was eventually forced to resign after misusing campaign funds on various elaborate office trappings, described in many press accounts as a Downton Abbey-style office renovation. Indicted for a felony, Schock was eventually allowed to avoid charges by paying back some $68,000 in misspent cash. Ding, ding, ding went our gaydar once again.

    Now finally, a year or so since the man was spotted snogging some hard body at the Coachella music festival, Schock has come out of the closet, telling the world that for those who know him, the revelation will come as no surprise.

    “In many ways I regret the time wasted in not having done so sooner,” he wrote. “Life is better with nothing to fear or hide.” Schock also said that he has been disowned by his deeply conservative religious family, members of the Apostolic Christian Church.

    “I understood that the teachings of my upbringing were pretty clear on the matter,” he explained. Elected to Congress under a conservative banner, Schock said he figured that coming out as a gay Congress member “would not go over well.”

    “I also, in retrospect, realize that I was just looking for more excuses to buy time and avoid being the person I’ve always been,” he said in his lengthy statement.

    So, here’s the thing. Schock has now been barraged by hate mail and mean tweets from unforgiving GLBT activists who feel it’s too little too late, and believe Schock is trying to position himself as some kind of hero for coming out of the closet. I don’t know, guys. I feel sorry for Schock and welcome him belatedly into our wild and wooly community. Have a heart. The guy is 38 and should know better. But he was raised in the Apostolic Christian Church! I don’t even have to look that up to know it sounds bad. 

    Indeed, the Church turns out to be a patriarchal faith that is based on a literal interpretation of the Bible. Most intriguing, however, is the enticingly vague description of the “holy kiss.” 

    “Five times in the New Testament, Christians are instructed to greet one another with a holy kiss,” the Church website sort of explains. “This was a practice common to all Christians for hundreds of years. Like several other Anabaptist groups, we have retained this practice at our church services, men greeting men and women greeting women. The kiss is only shared between the members of the church. The application of this biblical instruction varies somewhat in our congregations, especially in other countries.” 

    Sounds like fun! Especially in other countries I imagine.

    Make Grindr Great Again

    So, what else is new, you ask? We’re all going to die of coronavirus. But at least we don’t have to worry about our diminishing retirement funds, because we won’t be around to cash them out in the first place. 

    The Chinese owners of Grindr sold the company to a U.S.-based operation, San Vicente Acquisition Partners, for about $608 million, after being ordered to do so by the U.S. government for national security reasons. The Chinese company, Beijng Kunlun, bought the gay dating app for $93 million in 201, so I’d say they can’t complain. According to an article I’m reading on TechCrunch, “little is known” about San Vicente Acquisition Partners, so I’m not clear on exactly how our national security has been enhanced by this transaction. Our government had been wary of just how the Chinese might take advantage of Grindr’s 27 million users and their personal information. But I’m sure that since the mysterious San Vicente is American, they will be very cautious and respectful of everyone’s privacy. 

    You probably won’t care that golfer Scott Piercy is under fire for making a rude joke about Pete Buttigieg, retweeting something from QAnon that said, “Pete pulls out early from behind,” which included a picture of that nasty frog cartoon. He lost three sponsors for his troubles, and apologized “if any of my recent story posts have been offensive.” 

    “I promise to do better!” he added. I hope he four-putts.

    To close out this random category, many of my friends and family were encouraged to learn that up to 13 alcoholic drinks per week were linked to a reduced levels of beta amyloid, the bad stuff that causes Alzheimer’s Disease. Finally, some good news, although the study did add that additional cocktails were not particularly beneficial. Okay okay, we’re not supposed to drink more than two a day, but hell, who’s counting (other than the Alzheimer scientists)?

    Pass the Pasta

    I have a few more items on my list, including some head-spinning maneuvers from the powers that be at Brigham Young, who seemed to ease up on the “Honor Code” antigay rules and regulations, only to turn around and reemphasize the campus ban on same-sex relationships after questions were raised. 

    But I’m more concerned about the idea of a piece of fried chicken served like a sandwich between two glazed donuts. Are you kidding me? Who comes up with repellent offerings on such a scale? I can’t even watch the commercial. I’m also disturbed by the Olive Garden “all you can eat” promotion, indeed the very idea of “all you can eat” evokes nausea, bloating, physical and emotional discomfort, infused with the moral ambivalence that accompanies excessive self-indulgence. Readers, give me moderate self-indulgence. Give me an ounce of Beluga caviar, not all I can eat. Give me three glasses of Champagne, not an unending supply. A dozen oysters, not a hundred. A snifter of Calvados, not the whole bottle. You get the picture. Give me all I can appreciate, not all that I want. 

    And you can keep your chicken donut sandwich.

    Published on March 12, 2020