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    RNC Attendee Is DTF [UPDATED]

    While others announced their readiness for Trump at the Republican National Convention Tuesday night, one attendee* advertised his readiness for something else, appearing on live television with a hat reading “DTF.”

    UPDATE 8:19 P.M.: It’s Kimmel, of course. Reader Lance Roberts and others identified the man who is down to fuck as Jimmy Kimmel Live character “Jake Byrd,” portrayed by writer Tony Barbieri. He is not, as this post earlier stated, a Wyoming delegate.

    UPDATE 8:50 P.M.: Reader Justin Smallbridge writes that Barbieri’s shirt reads “Git Her Don!” presumably “a clever paraphrasing of bloated, gaseous, redneck ‘comedian’ Larry The Cable Guy’s catchphrase, ‘git ’er done.’”

    [h/t Graham Holdings]

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    Armed Agents of the State Escort Alex Jones Away From Shouty Communists
    Photo: Gawker

    CLEVELAND — It’s getting warmer here at the Republican National Convention, and tensions are rising. On Tuesday afternoon, right-wing conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones strode into a crowd gathered in Cleveland’s Public Square, drawing the attention of Trump supporters, the media, and members of the Revolutionary Communist Party, who screamed in his face: “Off our streets, Nazi scum.” Caught in a scuffle on the stone steps leading up to the speaker podium at the south end of the square, Jones was quickly and unceremoniously ushered out of the scrum by police.

    Jones wasn’t under arrest. “For safety reasons, we escorted Mr. Jones away from the situation,” a very tired-sounding spokesman for the Cleveland Police Department told Gawker. “Cooler heads prevailed.”

    “COMMUNISTS ATTACK ALEX JONES OUTSIDE RNC,” blared the headline on later on Tuesday. “It looks like the communists started to attack Alex,” a videographer narrated, “and he defended himself.” A representative for the site did not respond to a request from Gawker. In another video, Jones says he shoved a demonstrator away who had been throwing punches.

    The CPD spokesman said no one else involved in the incident was arrested or detained, and that Jones was the only one escorted out of the square.

    In any case, it didn’t take long before the battle lines were redrawn: Communists, anarchists, members of the Industrial Workers of the World, and Black Lives Matter activists screamed across a line of implacable police at religious fundamentalists bearing very tall and wordy signs, demanding that the leftists—and everyone else, presumably—repent.

    “America,” a man wearing a shirt emblazoned with a Gospel verse said, “It’s time to build walls—walls against sin, walls against wickedness, walls against inequity.” A black man who was, according to his t-shirt, “Proud to Be an Infidel,” snarled at the protesters, “We know you hate white people. We know you’re racist. We know who you are.”

    “Smash the state / smash the state / America was never great,” the anarchists replied.

    Periodically, lines of police officers would sprint through the crowd, forming human barriers—sometimes supplemented with bicycles, which were used as improvised shields—breaking groups of demonstrators down into smaller and smaller units.

    One IWW member, Pat Mahoney, told Gawker that the Wobblies had held a kind of salon in the square on Monday, engaging with individual Trump supporters on the issues, working to repurpose their political alienation from aimless, xenophobic Trumpism to the international union’s revolutionary industrial unionism.

    “But this,” Mahoney said, referring to the people yelling at each other around the square, “you’re not gonna change anybody’s mind with this. This is just a show of force.”

    “Individual Trump supporters you can engage with, but when they’re in a big group, surrounded by racists—well, they’re gonna be racist,” he said. “And when Alex Jones shows up and starts shoving, we’re gonna hold our ground. We’re not pacifists.”

    As the police took over more and more of the square, the anarchists and other leftists retreated, chanting, “Fuck the pigs, we don’t need ‘em; all we want is total freedom!”

    An older, gray-haired man watching the demonstrations shook his head. “You can’t have ‘total freedom,’” he said, half under his breath and half to two passing anarchists, black bandanas covering their faces. “People would be killing everyone!”

    “Maybe you shouldn’t have total freedom,” one replied, “if you have murderous tendencies.”

    “You’re right,” the old man said.

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    Liveblogging Tiffany Trump's First Brave Steps Into the Outside World

    Welcome to evening two of the Republican National Convention, where Ben Carson will be sewing Chris Christie’s head onto Mike Pence’s body and Tiffany Trump is allowed the rare opportunity to be seen with the rest of her family as she delivers her very first campaign speech. We’ll be coming to you live from Cleveland for prime time at the RNC.

    Who is Tiffany Trump, you ask? Great question! She’s the daughter of second Trump wife Marla Maples. She loves Snapchat. And I have been waiting for this night for weeks.

    So join us (with special guest Gizmodo teen blogger William Turton) as we watch Tiffany read from Barack Obama’s Dreams of My Father. It’s going to be great.

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    Tuesday evening, chief NRA lobbyist Chris Cox appeared at the Republican National Convention to speak about guns, guns and guns, which was kind of strange, really, given the night’s official theme was “Make America Work Again.”

    A paper schedule handed out by the party Tuesday morning may offer some insight: It, like the convention’s official app, lists an entirely different Chris Cox, the former congressman who once chaired the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

    Did the GOP Invite the Wrong Chris Cox to Their Convention?

    Did the Republican Party mis-schedule Chris Cox, gun friend, believing him to be Chris Cox, former Chairman of the SEC? Did they intend to invite Stocks Cox and invite Gun Cox instead? Well, stranger things have happened.…

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    Guy in Elephant Hat Finds Hillary Clinton Guilty of Treason

    On Tuesday, Chris Christie took the RNC stage to conduct a witch trial in absentia of Hillary Clinton, which, like all fair and just tribunals, involved one party making their case and a crowd of thousands chanting for blood.

    “We’re gonna present the facts to you, you sitting as a jury of her peers,” said Christie. “Since the Justice Department refuses to allow you to render a verdict, I’m going to present the case now, on the facts, against Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

    Unsurprisingly, the audience returned a verdict of “LOCK HER UP” on a variety of charges relating to her actions and email habits as Secretary of State.

    Of particular note was a stylish juror in an elephant hat who looked suspiciously like a former President of the United States. In May, a spokesperson for George W. Bush said he would not be attending the convention. Maybe he just needed the perfect disguise.

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    Code Pink Co-Founder Covered With American Flag at RNC While Holding Anti-Racist Sign

    One day after a two members of the women-led anti-war grassroots organization Code Pink were kicked out of the 2016 Republican National Convention shortly after a male attendee tried to rip a banner reading “Refugees Welcome” out of one of their hands, yet another activist was affronted by GOP supporters while holding an anti-racist sign.

    The woman, who was identified on Twitter as activist and Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans, was caught on camera by C-SPAN during an address given by former GOP primary hopeful and tepid Eeyore impersonator Ben Carson. While a musical interlude played, Evans held a sign which read “No Racism. No Hatred.” while standing in the seats of Cleveland’s noticeably half-empty Quicken Loans Arena.

    Evans was then approached by a group of disgruntled RNC spectators—most of whom were men—holding full-size American flags; they proceeded to surround Evans and attempted to block her from view by covering her with said flags.

    One of the attendants could be seen throwing a flag around her face, completely enveloping her head, and forcing it back while pulling the cloth towards his chest.

    Code Pink Co-Founder Covered With American Flag at RNC While Holding Anti-Racist Sign

    Accompanying the counter-protesters were three security guards, who stood by and watched without immediately intervening.

    Footage surfaced on Twitter of another member of the audience—an elderly woman—tugging at Evans’ banner, in an attempt to take it away from her. (It is unclear whether this happened before or after she was covered in flags.)

    As The Wall Street Journal noted, many were quick to point out the inherent irony in using a symbol of national freedom to quell and deter the freedom of speech, a basic American right. Others took to social media to point out how the actions of the GOP supporters encroached upon Evans’ personal space.

    After the incident occurred, Evans was escorted off the premises by security.

    Image via screengrab.

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    Tonight, shortly after the conclusion of the second night of the Republican National Convention, the Twitter account of noted political satire program The Daily Show pointed out what appeared to be evidence of Donald Trump Jr. lifting a portion of his speech from an article published in the American Conservative, just one night after his stepmother Melania was caught plagiarizing part of her speech from one given by Michelle Obama at the 2008 Democratic Convention:

    Fourteen minutes after that, Frank H. Buckley, the author of that American Conservative story, implied in a Twitter post that he had in fact helped baby Don write his speech:

    He then affirmed that implication in statements given to the press:

    But Trump Jr.’s speech did not reuse just one passage of Buckley’s work. As the video above shows, there were at least three instances of Trump directly parroting Buckley quoting himself. The first two come from Buckley’s book The Way Back: Restoring the Promise of America (from which his American Conservative article was adapted), and the third is from a column published on Real Clear Politics on June 2.

    Here are the passages/phrases in question:

    Trump: Our schools used to be an elevator to the middle class. Now, they’re stalled on the ground floor. They’re like Soviet era department stores that are run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers.

    Buckley: What should be an elevator to the upper class is stalled on the ground floor. Part of the fault for this may be laid at the feet of the system’s entrenched interests: the teachers’ unions and the higher-education professoriate. Our schools and universities are like the old Soviet department stores whose mission was to serve the interests of the sales clerks and not the customers.

    Trump: The other party gave us a regulatory state on steroids.

    Buckley: He might recognize that the promise of income equality gave Obama a winning hand, and that this gave the country things he hates: Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and a regulatory state on steroids.

    Trump: We’ve produced the thickest network of patronage of any country at any time in world history.

    Buckley: And yet we’ve spawned the thickest network of patronage and influence of any country at any time, and this imposes an enormous cost on the economy.

    Of course, this sort of self-recycling poses a different and less serious ethical question than Melania Trump’s wholesale and uncredited use of phrases from an old Michelle Obama speech. But speechwriters don’t generally cherrypick phrases from their previously published work, says Jon Lovett, who served as a speechwriter to both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

    “No, it’s not standard practice for a speechwriter to copy his favorite lines from his own columns to pad a speech for a national convention,” he wrote in an email to Gawker. “This really isn’t that hard.”

    The Trump campaign would probably be proud to know they are bucking Washington’s standard practices, but their willingness to cut corners on things as basic as their stated beliefs calls into question whether they actually have any beliefs. And it boggles the mind that, in the wake of Melania Trump’s humiliation last night, no one in the Trump campaign bothered to perform a simple plagiarism check (there is software!) on the speeches prepared for the next family members hitting the stage.

    It’s even more baffling that Buckley—who was presumably aware that the speech he served up to Don Jr. contained previously owned sentences—didn’t raise an alarm in the wake of the first night’s unpleasantness. Buckley told NBC that he simply didn’t think to notify Trump Jr. or his father’s campaign that he had re-used phrases from his old work:

    Video by Tim Burke

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    There Should Be Movie Theaters In Airports
    Illustration by Sam Woolley. Image via YouTube.

    I have a good idea that you can NOT steal, but which you may hear. Are you ready? Here it goes:

    They should put movie theaters in airports.

    If you steal this idea you are LEGALLY bound to pay me.

    I was in an airport not long ago and my flight was delayed. Not just a tiny delay, but four, five, six hours, the kind of widespread delays that have people sprawled out asleep on the floor of the LaGuardia terminal like refugees. You know what would have been a great thing to have right then to pass the time? A movie theater. Flight delayed? Watch a movie. Pass the time. Nice.

    I would have even watched a crappy movie like The Purge: Election Year at that point, and I bet that the average member of the general public would as well.

    If you build a movie theater in an airport you are setting yourself up for a world of success. First of all all of your customers are delayed in an airport with nothing to do. They’ll flock to your silver screens because their only alternative is sitting in an airport bar for hours on end which is significantly more expensive than any movie or Broadway play up to and including “Hamilton.” Second of all they’ll watch any old crap because what the hell else are they gonna watch? You can buy the world’s cheapest movies and sell em like the world’s best movies. You can play Back to the Future every day and the people will tolerate it without a peep. Not just because it’s an iconic vision of our youth but because if they don’t watch it then they don’t get to come in the airport movie theater. And where will they be then? Just in an airport—without popcorn.

    Sometimes you go to a movie theater that’s in a small town, or is a little old, and there’s not any more than a handful of people in there. If you own such a movie theater, I urge you in the strongest possible terms to shut it down, pack it up, and relocate to a major “hub” airport that is beset by frequent travel delays due to our nation’s underfunded infrastructure and the monopolistic nature of the national air travel industry. Once there, you needn’t even make a “schedule” or show “previews” or live according to someone else’s “rules.” You just lay back until a bunch of flights get canceled, toss open the doors, and show Back to the Future. Twenty bucks a head? A bargain by airport standards. Less than the cost of four bags of snack chips from Hudson News. Ten bucks for popcorn? A good deal for the stranded traveler desperate to make time pass by putting food into his mouth, for hours.

    A movie theater in the airport would be very successful. Don’t say there are no good business ideas on the internet. There are. This idea, and becoming a Rubio’s Fish Taco franchisee.

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    Day 3 of the Republican National Convention: Everything's Fine! 

    Welcome to ConBag, a daily roundup of gossip from the Republican National Convention, which we are attending for four very long days.

    CLEVELAND—My colleague Stassa Edwards and I continue to be at the RNC, and it’s fine. Everything’s fine. Last night we entered the Quicken Loans Arena, where the main convention action is. We immediately beheld a small, hobbit-like man in a Brooks Brothers suit, being greeted enthusiastically by many taut-faced, tanned rich people. It was Karl Rove.

    “I can’t stop to talk,” Rove told Stassa and me as we enthusiastically ran up on him. He intimated that he was very busy, but— between us—he didn’t really look busy.

    “How woke are you?” we asked him.

    “I don’t know what that is,” he said, a little irritably as he speed-walked away from us.

    Well, OK! That’s just fine.

    Second-youngest Trump scion Tiffany Trump is also fine. She took her first, faltering, baby deer-like steps into the outside world, delivering a speech in which she opined that her dad is great.

    Controversial, and frankly a tough position to really defend at length, but fine.

    Melania Trump is, perhaps, not so fine today. The Trump campaign responded to her plagiarism scandal by fully throwing her to the wolves, implying that she edited her speech without their knowledge to include all that plagiarism.

    • The Westboro Baptist Church is also here. So are some delightful counter-protesters, and they will tell you what is truly not fine.
    Day 3 of the Republican National Convention: Everything's Fine! 
    • Ben Carson took the stage last night to accuse Hillary Clinton of being a disciple of Saul Alinsky, who is, in turn, a disciple of Satan. [Baltimore Sun]
    • The Washington Post, like several other media outlets, has rented out an entire restaurant to serve as their office for the duration of the RNC. Which is mostly just disappointing a lot of hungry people who walk by: “Washington Post? Is that the name of the restaurant? Why is it so empty?”
    • I saw Fox News ambush aficionado Jesse Watters and asked how woke he is. He had no idea what I was talking about. [Twitter]
    • Radio host and head conspiracy theorist Alex Jones had dinner at a Mexican restaurant last night, surrounded by several InfoWars staffers who are all extremely jacked-looking dudes with beards. They look like they run around in homegrown militias on the weekend, or perhaps do eight straight hours of Crossfit while slamming Monster energy drinks until their eyeballs bleed. Jones is, he tell us, “100% woke.” [Twitter]
    • Stassa saw Jorge Ramos interviewing a white supremacist. Everyone’s fine!

    Photos by Stassa Edwards

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    Millennials' Bra Choices Attract Attention of the Media
    Photo: Flickr

    Though your modern media is faced with the demands of covering wars, terrorism, a presidential election, and Pokemon, please trust that we, the hardworking American journalists, will never fail to inform you about the latest trends in hot teen bra usage—or lack thereof.

    That is correct, gentle reader—news comes today that female members of the “Millennial” generation, the despicable layabouts best known for being young and attractive, are sometimes choosing not to enclose their breasts in bras. USA Today, the newspaper of angels and millennials, reports that “Buying a first bra has long been considered a rite of passage for young women. These days, however, it’s the ditching of the undergarment (or wearing wire-free versions) that’s empowering female Millennials.” Several discrete data points are offered in support of this assertion, including references to widely viewed Youtube videos from millennial women discussing their choice to go bra-less.

    By being a diligent consumer of the modern media, you have the opportunity to learn that many people will tune in to watch Hot Sexxxy Teens talk bras. Should Hot Sexxxy Teens choose to one day publicly discuss their choices about other forms of underwear, you may rest assured that the media will not let that story slip past our ever-vigilant eyes either.

    We, the media, hope that you, the average American who professes to dislike the Millennial generation but also very much enjoys Hot Sexxxy Teens, feel that you are now better informed about the decisions that young women today are making regarding bras. Are they wearing them? Or not? Have no doubt that reporters will stay closely attuned to this trend as it shifts in unpredictable and interesting ways.

    In other news, millennials like quinoa. Boring.

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    The Life of Texas Death Row Inmate Teddrick Batiste
    Image by Jim Cooke

    We periodically publish letters from death row inmates. Today we hear from a 29-year-old Texas inmate who describes his life and horrific upbringing, and offers a look behind the walls of a prison from which he will never emerge.

    Teddrick Batiste was convicted of the 2009 shooting and killing a Houston man during an attempted robbery. Batiste, a Houston native, was a member of the Crips at the time of his crime. He has been on death row in Texas since 2011.

    Last month, Batiste wrote to me to share his memories of Ray Jasper, a fellow Texas death row inmate who was executed in 2014. Shortly before his death, Jasper wrote us a letter that was viewed more than two million times, becoming the most widely read ever in our “Letters from Death Row” series. Batiste told of his close friendship with Jasper, and of Jasper’s fierce physical resistance on the day of his execution, forcing a riot team to remove him from his cell.

    I wrote back to Batiste asking for any further memories of Ray Jasper, and sent him a standard set of questions about his life on death row and his thoughts on the justice system. His letter in response is below.

    Batiste recounts his relationship with Ray Jasper and his recollections of the time leading up to Ray Jasper’s execution. “He decided to not cater to a person smiling in your face to get you to hurry up and sign a piece of paper saying that your going to willingly let them kill you.”

    The Life of Texas Death Row Inmate Teddrick Batiste

    Batiste describes the chaos surround Ray Jasper’s last days. “He told me that he didn’t care if they put his body on top of another inmate that has been killed by the state, he was going to fight for his life no matter what.”

    The Life of Texas Death Row Inmate Teddrick Batiste

    Final thoughts on Jasper, and Batiste begins responding to our questions about his case and the burdens of life on death row. “You can spend your time being mad at the world, but you have to look in the mirror and not out the window.”

    The Life of Texas Death Row Inmate Teddrick Batiste

    Batiste discusses his past and his life inside. “I had a real dark childhood and fear was taken from me when I was young.”

    The Life of Texas Death Row Inmate Teddrick Batiste

    Batiste describes his daily routine in prison. “I aint had no physical contact since April 2009. Any contact I have had since then has been me fighting with the riot team here. No touch of my son, no family, a woman, no friends, no hand shakes, no high fives, no nothing at all.”

    The Life of Texas Death Row Inmate Teddrick Batiste

    Batiste talks about his childhood and growing up in Houston. “My mom had me when she was 15 years old in the bathroom of my grandmother’s house on the floor... I saw people break and fall every day. I saw people speak of endless pain and defeat in life.”

    The Life of Texas Death Row Inmate Teddrick Batiste

    More on Batiste’s youth. “This guy would physically abuse [my mom and me] and when she fought or cried I was right there with her. We were face to face tear to tear. You ever tasted a tear? I have.”

    The Life of Texas Death Row Inmate Teddrick Batiste

    More on Batiste’s past and his thoughts on religion. “I felt like nothing bad happens at church so why did god allow this or do this to my grandmother... That was the last time I ever went to church.”

    The Life of Texas Death Row Inmate Teddrick Batiste

    Further thoughts from Batiste on religion and on the media. “I got tired of saying I pray and he don’t talk to me, my knees bleed because I pray so much.”

    The Life of Texas Death Row Inmate Teddrick Batiste

    Batiste contrasts media perception and reality of his neighborhood and prisons. “There is no media when the aid centers are over packed and things like that, only crime brings the media where I’m from.”

    The Life of Texas Death Row Inmate Teddrick Batiste

    Batiste’s final thoughts. “As a man I’m always willing to deal with what comes my way, but I also know that I would like to not have what came my way as my identity.”

    The Life of Texas Death Row Inmate Teddrick Batiste


    All of our Letters from Death Row can be found here.

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    In Tamir Rice's Cleveland, Donald Trump and the RNC Are a World Away
    Photo: Andy Cush

    CLEVELAND—Take a 15 minute ride on Cleveland’s RTA Red Line, westbound from the hubbub of downtown and the Republican National Convention, and get off at the West Boulevard station. Go up a flight of stairs, step outside, and cross Detroit Avenue, turn left at the Palazzo, an Italian restaurant that looks like it was pretty cozy and romantic before it closed down. Walk about a half a block, and you’ve reached the border of the Cudell Commons and Recreation Center, where a Cleveland police officer shot and killed Tamir Rice seven months before Rice’s thirteenth birthday, in November 2014.

    The park was breezy and warm on Tuesday afternoon, with dozens of children frolicking in a public fountain and others playing basketball and riding the swings. If it weren’t for a pile of stuffed animals left on a picnic table near where Rice was killed, it would be difficult to identify it as the scene of a tragedy. Under the pavilion where Rice played with an airsoft gun before officer Timothy Loehmann shot him in the torso, a group of leftist activists strung up a banner bearing Rice’s name and urging passersby to “Rebel Against KKKapitalism.”

    Just outside the pavilion, a 67-year-old black resident of Rice’s neighborhood named Robert Hargrove sat on a park bench, wearing a Coogi baseball cap atop his bushy white hair, watching his grandchildren as they cautiously poked around the table where the activists worked. At one point, a granddaughter brought Hargrove a cup of popcorn and veggie chips that an activist had evidently given her. “Veggie chips?” he asked her with a laugh, feigning indignation at the thought. “What is that? Isn’t a potato already a vegetable?”

    Hargrove grew up in Alabama, during the height of the Jim Crow era, and arrived in Cleveland about a decade ago. He lives in a townhouse about a block away from Cudell Commons, where, he says, “the front yard is small and the back yard is small.” Every day over the summer, he takes his grandkids to the park to enjoy the green space.

    “Until this thing happened, I didn’t think there was racism here,” he said. “If you go back to the water fountain, you’ll see black and white kids playing together. You’ll see them playing and laughing.”

    “Police around here are very good,” he went on, before interrupting himself. “They’re very good now. They come around to the park two or three times a day. I imagine they’re reflecting about what they shouldn’t do again.”

    Rice’s death, and the subsequent grand jury decision not to charge Loehmann with a crime for killing him, was one of a string of similar incidents in 2014 that prompted nationwide protests against police violence and solidified the profile of the Black Lives Matter movement, which had launched in its most formal iteration a year before. Today, that movement has reached an inflection point. The killing of black men by police officers continues unabated: Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge and Philando Castile of St. Paul were shot and killed by officers in their respective cities within two days of each other this month. But the movement has been complicated, through no fault of the vast majority of its supporters, by the subsequent killings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, the first by a man who apparently told police that he was upset about Black Lives Matter and the recent police shootings, the second by a man whom opponents will likely link to the movement, despite the extreme separatist ideology to which he evidently subscribed.

    Black Lives Matter has faced intense backlash from the political right since its inception, and these killings of officers have only intensified the criticism against it. At Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, the evening before I met Hargrove, a sheriff from Milwaukee opened his remarks to the RNC by celebrating the recent acquittal of Brian Rice, one of the Baltimore police officers charged in the 2015 killing of Freddie Gray. The room erupted into raucous applause. After I returned downtown from Cudell Tuesday afternoon, I saw a white Trump supporter berating black activists through a megaphone outside Cleveland’s Public Square: “You’re criticizing police, and yet the police are here protecting you.”

    Hargrove told me that after the shooting in Dallas, he was worried his neighborhood would erupt into protest and disorder, as it did after Rice was killed. He went so far as to ask his grandchildren to sleep on the floor for one night, in case of a shooting on the street outside. Fortunately, there was none.

    “Police have an idea about what we’re like, instead of coming to find out what we’re really like. I think they’re quicker to violence with us. I think they more readily shoot us,” he said.

    “Not all of them are bad, but it’s dangerous when people are afraid of the police, because the people will arm themselves against the police. Now they’re pointing guns at each other. All it takes is guns. It doesn’t have to be a war, doesn’t have to be an argument. Just point guns at each each other, and somebody’s going to shoot, and somebody’s going to die. Then, after one shot, a million people might start shooting.”

    In the days after Rice’s killing, the Cleveland Plain Dealer published a story detailing the “history of gangs and violence” in Cudell. A month after that, a journalist named Susan Zimmerman published an op-ed in the same paper, taking issue with its previous assessment of the area, which she also calls home. “It’s an urban neighborhood: Yes, there is crime; yes, we’ve had break-ins and a stolen car,” she wrote. But the focus on crime painted an incomplete picture: “The homes are big: Most are two-story, 1920s-era singles and doubles – stucco, brick and wood in tones of peach, sage green, slate blue and white. My neighbors are great. A dozen of us have lived here 20 years or more. People have raised kids here; one family has five children younger than 10. We look out for each other; in nice weather, we hang out on each other’s porches and gather in backyards for special events.”

    I spent only a few hours in Cudell on Tuesday, but I’m inclined to agree with Zimmerman. Black and white families mingled on the playgrounds; a woman in a hijab herded her children down the sidewalk. The residents I spoke to were mostly friendly. They were united in their frustration with the arrival of the Trump circus this week, which was sold on the positive economic impact it would have on the region. Karen Smith, who lives three blocks from Cudell Commons, doesn’t believe that impact will reach her neighborhood. “It’s all about money,” she said while cooling herself by the fountain with her sister. “What is that going to do for us? No way I would go downtown this week. I drive for Uber, and I took the week off.”

    Smith said that she was worried about violent protests damaging the city, but that “if the police stopped stereotyping, that wouldn’t happen.” Smith’s sister, Lisa Lacey, lives in nearby Warrenville Heights. She pointed to a police officer in her city named Nakia Jones, who recorded a viral video expressing her outrage at the killings of Sterling and Castile, as an example of the kind of officers she believes are needed to help police departments ease tensions with the communities they are tasked with protecting.

    Back at the pavilion, Hargrave spoke to me expressively and at length about his neighborhood, and on topics like race and education. “College education should be free if you want it, for two years at least. I agree with the communists about that,” he said. “Of course, brilliant kids get in for free. But the brilliant ones are usually rich. They have a good education growing up. Then they get older and have more rich, brilliant kids, and they get into college free too.”

    He was able to attend college himself only through numerous grants and scholarships, and the bills still saddled him with debt, he said. He reflected on an essay he wrote during his time as a student, about the marketing of Chevrolet cars, the thrust of which wouldn’t sound out of place at a Trump rally. “Chevy used to have this slogan, where they called themselves ‘The Heartbeat of America,’” he said. “Well look at it now. The heartbeat’s not too good, is it? Half of General Motors is now out of the country. All it takes is one heart attack.”

    Hargrove understands Trump’s rise as a byproduct of the decline of American industries like auto manufacturing, but Trump himself, he says, is a hateful clown: “He’s racist. He’s anti-women’s liberation. The things he’s saying are so bad. For kids to hear it is bad.” He is wary of empty calls for racial unity—he criticized President Obama’s recent town hall interview on race and policing for “asking us to kiss and hug and be friends,” without placing enough emphasis on the underlying causes of police violence—but believes a solution might be found right here, in his own neighborhood.

    “I have a friend who’s Iranian. He likes it here. I’ve got another friend who’s Puerto Rican—he’s Hispanic, he doesn’t like me to call him Puerto Rican for some reason. He gets along. We stay in the same neighborhood. I’ve got white friends, quite a few of them, and they get along,” he said. “We play cards, we drink beer together, and we get along fine. But I guess the rest of the world can’t do that.”

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    A Brief And Ugly History of the GOP's Anti-LGBT Platform
    Illustration: Jim Cooke

    “It’s the most anti-LGBT platform in history,” said Gregory T. Angelo of the 2016 Republican Platform, which was released in its entirety on Monday. That’s quite an admission coming from the president of the best known gay conservative group in the country, the Log Cabin Republicans. Indeed, this year’s platform—which, it bears noting, Donald Trump is under no obligation to uphold as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee—is totally gay for anti-LGBT legislation.

    The platform condemns “redefining sex discrimination to include sexual orientation or other categories,” which is a reference to the increased visibility of trans Americans since the Republicans last wrote a party platform. The agenda of Obama and liberal lawmakers “has nothing to do with individual rights; it has everything to do with power,” according to the GOP.

    The platform tips its hat to gay conversion therapy in a section reportedly drafted by Tony Perkins, an RNC delegate and president of the Family Research Council, a group which the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled “extremist” and describes “its real specialty” as “defaming gays and lesbians.” “We support the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children,” reads the section in question. (Time reports that the language was initially more explicit in regard to conversion therapy.)

    The party platform also calls for the overturning of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which made same-sex marriage legal in all states:

    The data and the facts lead to an inescapable conclusion: Every child deserves a married mom and dad. The reality remains that millions of American families do not have the advantages that come with that structure. We honor the courageous efforts of those who bear the burdens of parenting alone and embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with dignity and respect. But respect is not enough. Our laws and our government’s regulations should recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman and actively promote married family life as the basis of a stable and prosperous society. For that reason, as explained elsewhere in this platform, we do not accept the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage and we urge its reversal, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states. We oppose government discrimination against businesses or entities which decline to sell items or services to individuals for activities that go again.

    All of this is, on its face, absurd. We’ve had marriage equality in this country now for over a year and civilization has not collapsed. In fact, the major outcomes are an estimated $1.5 billion in national and state revenue generated by same sex marriages, (and here I was thinking money to Republicans was like dick to gay men), and some hostile resistance on the part of straight business owners. Perkins’s flirtation with conversion therapy is also hypocritical—for years, the anti-gay bigot cried loudly to “Save our children,” and yet we have piles of evidence regarding the damage caused by conversion/reparative therapy, including the American Psychological Association’s rejection of it. Save our children by letting them be who they are.

    Much has been made by the right over the years of the so-called “gay agenda,” as though LGBT people are crusading for sport or more nefarious purposes (such as, I suppose, the right to molest children). This is nothing but hate-mongering, devoid of underlying facts, which if you haven’t noticed, is an effective way to win support. This is agenda for agenda’s sake.

    This agenda comes after decades of a theoretically flimsy, if grand tradition of anti-LGBT Republican sentiment. Prior to 1992, the GOP party platform tended to make only vague reference to “family values,” without explicitly acknowledging the existence of queer or trans people.

    Then, in 1992, the GOP asserted that it did not think that LGBT people should be a protected minority:

    We also stand united with those private organizations, such as the Boy Scouts of America, who are defending decency in fulfillment of their own moral responsibilities. We reject the irresponsible position of those corporations that have cut off contributions to such organizations because of their courageous stand for family values. Moreover, we oppose efforts by the Democrat Party to include sexual preference as a protected minority receiving preferential status under civil rights statutes at the federal, State, and local level.

    Also in ‘92:

    We oppose any legislation or law which legally recognizes same-sex marriages and allows such couples to adopt children or provide foster care.


    Unlike the Democrat Party and its candidate, we support the continued exclusion of homosexuals from the military as a matter of good order and discipline.

    By 1996, the phrase “sexual preference” entered the platform. The writing argued against protecting it under anti-discrimination statutes:

    We oppose discrimination based on sex, race, age, creed, or national origin and will vigorously enforce anti-discrimination statutes. We reject the distortion of those laws to cover sexual preference, and we endorse the Defense of Marriage Act to prevent states from being forced to recognize same-sex unions. Because we believe rights inhere in individuals, not in groups, we will attain our nation’s goal of equal rights without quotas or other forms of preferential treatment. We scorn Bill Clinton’s notion that any person should be denied a job, promotion, contract or a chance at higher education because of their race or gender.

    The 2000 platform used similar language regarding one-man-one-woman arrangements and also said: “...We do not believe sexual preference should be given special legal protection or standing in law.”

    The 2004 platform went on at length regarding the vague potential hazards of allowing gays to marry:

    We strongly support President Bush’s call for a Constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage, and we believe that neither federal nor state judges nor bureaucrats should force states to recognize other living arrangements as equivalent to marriage. We believe, and the social science confirms, that the well-being of children is best accomplished in the environment of the home, nurtured by their mother and father anchored by the bonds of marriage. We further believe that legal recognition and the accompanying benefits afforded couples should be preserved for that unique and special union of one man and one woman which has historically been called marriage. After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence, and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization, the union of a man and a woman in marriage. Attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country, and anything less than a Constitutional amendment, passed by the Congress and ratified by the states, is vulnerable to being overturned by activist judges. On a matter of such importance, the voice of the people must be heard.

    2008's rhetoric came with condescending square quotes around “marriage” when used to describe how it might be applied to gays:

    A Republican Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of states not to recognize same-sex “marriages” licensed in other state.

    That was before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed and still a major concern for those on either side of the political divide. “To protect our servicemen and women and ensure that America’s Armed Forces remain the best in the world, we affirm the timelessness of those values, the benefits of traditional military culture, and the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service.” The 1996, 2000, and 2004 platforms all contained the same line regarding gays in the military: “We affirm that homosexuality is incompatible with military service.” The six years after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell have proved the GOP incorrect.

    The 2012 Republican Platform had plenty of spite to go around. It sought to defend “marriage against an activist judiciary,” fight for DOMA, support the Boy Scouts’ discriminatory policies. “We condemn the hate campaigns, threats of violence, and vandalism by proponents of same-sex marriage against advocates of traditional marriage and call for a federal investigation into attempts to deny religious believers their civil rights,” it said. “The effectiveness of our foreign aid has been limited by the cultural agenda of the current Administration, attempting to impose on foreign countries, especially the peoples of Africa, legalized abortion and the homosexual rights agenda,” it claimed.

    This year’s platform does, point for point, make it the most anti-LGBT platform in history. For one thing, it’s expanded to include anti-trans rhetoric, which makes sense in that transgender people are more visible in culture than ever and thus a threat to the GOP’s monoculture fantasy. Trans people, of course, are more likely to be hungry-hungry than power-hungry, and when it comes to bathrooms, they just want a place to piss. According to Giovanni Cicione, the Rhode Island delegate who petitioned against the 2016 platform, “The RNC is not interested in having floor debates on anything this year.” Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who co-chaired the platform committee, defended it by telling CNN, “There were gay people on the platform committee themselves.” ThinkProgress pointed out, however, that there was actually a gay person on the committee: Rachel Hoff who is also the first openly gay Republican to ever serve on the platform committee.

    Surely, for gay Republicans, it must be getting more difficult to remain with the party. Milo Yiannopoulos stood outside the RNC yesterday arguing for a gay-Trump alliance based on the common ground of Islamaphobia. He referenced Omar Mateen’s massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in June, which is at least more complicated than a Muslim-shoots-gays scenario. Among the questions about Mateen about which we can still mostly speculate: Was Mateen queer himself? Were his ties to ISIS merely aspirational? Was he just a maniac despite his upbringing and sexuality? Yiannopoulous also ignored the existence of gay Muslims, but what else is new in America? In the wake of Orlando, Trump attempted to position himself as a friend to “the gays,” only to, weeks later, voice support of North Carolina’s hotly debated HB2 “bathroom bill,” and then choose as his running mate Mike Pence, who has a long history of opposing LGBT rights.

    Trump’s discourse is fueled by inconsistency, while the GOP has been reliably anti-gay since gay became a thing to fear. Strange bedfellows they may seem, but they’re also logical allies.

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    Undocumented and Unafraid, Immigration Activists Give Trump His Wall
    Photo: Gawker

    CLEVELAND — On Wednesday, a coalition of leftist groups, led by organizers from the Latinx group Mijente, raised a handmade wall—a series of long, spray-painted, cloth signs held aloft, stretching, in segments, several hundred (and maybe thousands) of feet across—in front of the Republican National Convention. This made life very difficult for delegates trying to get in or out of the Quicken Loans Arena.

    The demonstrators were there to protest not just Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, but the attendant rhetoric he has used to justify this ludicrous proposal.

    Eva Cardenas, an activist with the non-profit Ruckus Society, explained that the idea was to build a symbolic wall around the presumptive Republican nominee. “We’re giving Trump his wall,” Cardenas said at an earlier press conference, as demonstrators gathered in Cleveland’s Public Square. “This is a message to anyone who would use xenophobia as a means to power.”

    An unfriendly reporter whose initial question regarding “illegal immigrants” not paying taxes was summarily dismissed asked Cardenas whether she was worried about protestors being arrested. “We’re more concerned about people not stepping up to stop Trump,” she snapped.

    Father Jose Landaverde stood to the side, looking on quietly. “The United States does not belong to any particular ethnicity,” he told Gawker. “We are all immigrants.”

    “Trump,” the priest said, “is a heretic.”

    Eventually, the demonstration marched the short distance from the public square to the Quicken Loans Arena. Delegates hurried to get wherever they were going. “We are here, and we’re not leaving,” an older woman cried into a megaphone. “And if they send us away, we’re coming back.”

    “Undocumented, unafraid!” the people chanted. “¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!” Members of Food Not Bombs handed out cups of water and orange slices.

    Most of the media, protestors, and police were clustered in front of the entrance to the convention area, but activists sweating and shouting in the sun held up the wall farther down the block, away from the crush before the police checkpoint. “Politicians only care about immigration when it’s time for an election,” Huelmely Dejesus, an activist with United We Dream, told Gawker. “Obama is the deporter-in-chief. Promises that were made have not been fulfilled. This is about holding them all accountable.”

    An organizer with Mijente told Gawker to “keep an eye out” for similar actions at the DNC in Philadelphia next week.

    Only one Trump supporter appeared to have made any kind of effort at a counter-demonstration. Janine Wilson, from Des Moines, Iowa, held her own sign aloft: “Build the Wall!” it read. “I’m out here all by myself, apparently,” she said.

    “I don’t think that they’re bad people,” Wilson told Gawker, referring to the protestors. “I just think they’re wrong. We need to be protected.” From who? “From terrorists. From criminals. They’re just coming over the border.”

    Meanwhile, this idiot looked very pleased with himself:

    Undocumented and Unafraid, Immigration Activists Give Trump His Wall

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    One of the more surreal elements of the RNC in Cleveland is the array of state and law enforcement agencies that have traveled from around the country to be here. Mass Appeal has a photo spread of 20 or so different uniforms from around town, to give you an idea of what it’s like.

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    Was Cecil the Lion's Murderer in the Trump VIP Box Last Night?

    Last night, as CNN’s cameras panned to Eric and Ivanka Trump, who were sitting together in a VIP box watching their half-sister Tiffany give a touching speech about a man who’s been like a father to her, a familiar-looking pate flashed by. Was it Walter Palmer, the dentist who murdered Cecil the Lion, or someone else entirely?

    Let’s take a closer look:

    Was Cecil the Lion's Murderer in the Trump VIP Box Last Night?


    I’ll tell you who it wasn’t: former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was barred from entering the box.

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    This week, Republicans descended on Cleveland, and so did tons of strippers. I am one of them. It’s well known that Republicans make it rain, and girls like me make the quadrennial pilgrimage to the Republican National Convention anticipating a big haul. As the city’s police shored up jail cells and fenced in containment zones, and the local judges put all hands on deck for 10-hour shifts, the strip clubs, too, extended their operating hours and liquor service, to ready themselves for the RNC. This week, I’ll be bringing you news from the poles—Cleveland’s last refuge from actual news—and meeting members of the porn-fearing party who stuff taxpayer dollars into g-strings while the world burns down.

    Friday, July 15

    For the time being, the club is dead. The Convention hasn’t actually started. Girls are checking their phones and lazily swinging the pole for a few 20-somethings who wandered in after a bar crawl. They don’t tip. The staff is nervously reassuring themselves that the club will fill up next week.

    A seasoned employee worries about traffic congestion because of the “hate people” whom he defines as “the KKK and the Black Panthers.” Staffers make abundant coded references to “the police and the people who hate the police.”

    Later, I’m mulling around the smoking section with the regulars. A helicopter flies overhead, and one regular remarks that the white supremacists are already in town. He’s heard that the Black Panthers are at a local chain motel. Downtown is “caged off”; apparently they’ve blocked the roads to contain possible violence. One customer tells me, “You’d be fine, you’re white. White girls don’t get shot.” The helicopter passes, and we turn back to making hand-job jokes.

    A dancer gives me a piece of fashion advice as I’m peeling off nipple tape in the dressing room at four in the morning. “You might want to wear something more flashy and shorter,” she says. “But simple. I’m going to wear something plain, not that much makeup, like a girl-next-door look. Because, you know, they’re Republicans.”

    The state of Ohio defines “nudity” as exposure of pubic area, buttocks, and any part of the female areola. A 2008 law mandates that businesses serving alcohol may not do so in the presence of people in a “state of nudity,” so everybody has to wear pasties. This only leaves me with more questions. What if an areola is more like a gradient? Where do buttocks end? Sometimes life is more nuanced than the law.

    What I think the dancer was talking about is giving the appearance of having gotten lost on our way home and wandered into the strip club, which, I guess, is how one sells sexuality to a demographic that stands behind a platform that calls porn a “public health crisis.” I am meant to exude accidental, innocent sexuality. Like a fuckable child.

    Saturday, July 16

    On a run for a conservative-slutty outfit, the Uber driver and I politely attempt to suss out each other’s political leanings with benign questions like “So what do you do?” and “Are you excited?” We avoid talk radio. A truck drives by with large video sidings broadcasting the message: “Tell the Senate: #DoYourJob.”

    Everybody in the city walks on eggshells to avoid revealing our political leanings, but even the Republican Party itself is divided. Statements in the party platform such as, “Pornography, with its harmful effects, especially on children, has become a public health crisis that is destroying the life of millions” don’t exactly square with the lifestyle of a thrice-married billionaire who’s appeared on the cover of Playboy and struggles with Biblical references.

    So on the outfit issue, I’m torn. Do I go for Nancy Reagan’s film actress poise in a floor-length stripper gown? Or should I be shooting for a non-speaking luxury product in see-through lace vibe, a la Melania? Or naughty Christian schoolgirl—would a Tony Perkins-type go for that? I land on something red, white, blue and inoffensively nonpartisan: A stock slut that all of America can agree on.

    Every time I turn a corner into a bathroom, I hear a mixture of murmurs about the military “copters” constantly overhead, worries about “all that stuff in France”, and reassurances that it would never happen in Cleveland.

    A handful of customers begin to trickle in. The average Trump supporter who comes to the club appears to be a middle aged, non-threatening, slightly disheveled man who could be a cartoonist or a stay-at-home programmer, or even an intro film professor. He supported Ross Perot in ‘92, and wants another independent businessman who won’t blow the budget (as in Cleveland, where Democrats spent $50 million on the park in Public Square). He likes Trump’s plan to reduce the number of tax brackets. He sees veterans, who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, wasting away on the streets while Obama’s spending all this money to let in people in who have no business being here in the first place. His main concern is national security, and he would vote for Trump because he’s “better than the alternative,” and somebody needs to “shake things up” because “look at where Obama has gotten us.” When asked about the homophobic party platform, he responds that “that’s annoying, that stuff was just slipped in there.”

    So far, by my back of the hand calculation, the typical Trump supporter buys an average of 0.5 lap dances.

    Sunday, July 17

    Downtown, Anderson Cooper strides purposefully through a listless crowd of press scrum, and traffic is horrible thanks to road closures. The city’s still relatively empty, though, aside from handfuls of people selling Trump merchandise, many of whom claim no political affiliation, and intend to do the same thing in Philly next week. There are Hillary and Trump cereal boxes for sale, with “Trump Flakes” (“Really, really, really rich in nutrients”) written on the boxes, and “Clinton Crunch” (“Healthy for America!”) available, plus a Trump air freshener mysteriously branded “Away.”

    A zealot with a mic is screaming outside the MSNBC booth about how “sex is temporary” because when you’re ninety, all you’ll need is a God-fearing woman; the destructive nature of the Internet and media; the cultural damages of seventies love; that porn stars are swine.

    I consider heading back to the club, but it is the Lord’s Day.

    Monday, July 18

    The fears about the presence of “hate people” keeping customers away are vindicated. The club is dead. I’m later told that even locals are afraid to come down here because of the constantly-circling SWAT teams and herds of mounted police. Half a dozen new girls, who’d all “happened to move to Cleveland this week” from major US cities hunch over their phones, smoke, drink, and hunch again, bored out of their skulls.

    A handsome, muscular pimp with tasteful accents of diamond-encrusted jewelry summons me and buys me a glass of wine. Later, over flirting and life stories, he says he runs an escort service and one of his girls makes $25,000 meeting some guy two weekends in a month. He drops in a story about another girl he once tried to “rescue,” one of the Eastern European aspiring models being shuttled in vans between strip clubs and small houses where their traffickers imprison them. Have I heard about that kind of thing? Yes, I have heard about them. He says his business isn’t like that. He has “infrastructure around it.” He makes a proposal about working with “like-minded business people.” He’s clearly not interested in a lap dance, so the conversation ends when I see a couple dudes in suits walk in. I say I have to make my money now.

    Meanwhile, a beautiful Slovenian immigrant model—who landed a lifetime non-speaking role as sentient proof of Donald Trump’s virility—reintroduces herself to the world on national TV. We’re watching it in the club. Melania’s face is obscured by the ass-twerking onstage, and her voice drowned out by the maddening din of club music on repeat, but it looks like she’s getting a fabulous reception. Minutes later, we learn that the speech was plagiarized from Michelle Obama, resulting in a kerfuffle over how much input she’d had in the speechwriting process, if any. Melania could be us, I think: beautiful, compliant, shepherded up to the mic to cutely recite feeder lines, on the occasion that it’s optically favorable to be seen and not heard. Like a child.

    A girl debates leaving the club to sell freelance pussy, since business is slow. One dude wants to do bareback, so that would be $300 right there.

    “Hillary is a bitch,” says a young man with a Southern accent, downing energy drinks at the bar, while absently gazing at a row of baseball games on overhead TVs. He claims to be working with the RNC in some capacity, but he says he’d “rather not go into that.” He says he enjoys the South because he wants to live in a place that he feels a connection to and knows well, unlike a big city where people have hair gel and flip you off.

    The ratio of girls to men is a depressing 3-1. The DJ reminds everyone over the PA that lap dances are very available.

    I ask the young man from the South to elaborate on his position on Hillary.

    She’s scheming, she’s fraudulent, she changes her positions to whatever people want to hear, and she and her husband think they’re royalty, he says. I point out that all of those attributes could apply to her opponent. Really, it’s a free speech issue, he says, and explains how “political correctness” is a threat to his First Amendment right to make racist generalizations without being called a racist. If he boards a plane with a person “in robes praying to Mecca,” he says, then he should have a right to worry about that. He adds, “the Democrats need to take notice, because they’re scaring off people like me who would normally be on the left.”

    He just keeps talking. I say nothing. “I’m really enjoying our conversation,” he says.

    Tuesday, July 19

    The pole is empty.

    When the dancer finally totters up in heels late for her set, two men wearing lanyards rise, soldier-like, to the sound of Sia, and emotionlessly perform a dollar-bill salute. It’s late. Hours earlier, Donald J. Trump had officially clinched the Republican party nomination for President of the United States. The crowd has changed since Friday; the atmosphere is heavy with somber expressions on the faces of out-of-towners with amphibiously smooth skin and expensive suits, which stand out amongst the usual rawhide-faced trolls.

    A generically handsome medical lobbyist miserably nurses his beer long after his pack has left. “It’s the worst convention I’ve ever seen,” he sighs. Attendance is low and most of his friends didn’t show up. He’ll be flying out tomorrow.

    A guy who says he’s a secret service officer soberly watches one girl humping off-rhythm in no particular direction. He can’t drink because he’s on call, though he claims to have just finished detail for Ted Cruz—who certainly doesn’t have a Secret Service detail any more, if he ever did.*

    I gravitate to a Polish journalist lounging with a beer who’s hoping to spot delegates in the club for a little bit of color commentary for his work. He seems disappointed.

    I take home the lowest sum I have ever earned for removing my clothes.

    Editor’s note: This post has been updated to more clearly reflect the fact that the man claiming to be a Secret Service agent was not telling the truth.

    Illustration: Jim Cooke for Gawker. Ivana Wall is not the author’s real name. She is blogging about the RNC while working as a dancer at a Cleveland strip club this week.

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    How Does Caitlyn Jenner Reconcile Being Trans and Being a Republican? Messily
    Photo: Getty

    “It was easy to come out as trans, it was harder to come out as a Republican,” said Caitlyn Jenner, earlier today, at the RNC’s “Big Tent” LGBT brunch held by the American Unity Fund. No shit, Shirley.

    This isn’t the first time Jenner has expressed this sentiment—in February, she told an audience at UPenn, “I have gotten more flak for being a conservative Republican than I have for being trans.” She initially came out as trans and came out as Republican at the same time, during last year’s sit-down with ABC’s Diane Sawyer. While it would be interesting to see Jenner try, it seems that it would be impossible for her to untangle the coming-out processes, which intertwined to form a confusing public profile. What initially rubbed people the wrong way about Jenner’s dual coming-out was its apparent conflict—here was a trans woman aligning herself with a political party that has been, at best, ignorant of transgender people, and at worst, outright hostile toward them.…

    The cognitive dissonance that comes from being a conservative queer, or perhaps the willful ignorance it takes to be one, has resulted in Jenner making some wildly ill-considered political statements. “Every conservative guy out there believes in everybody’s rights,” she said during the second season of her reality show, I Am Cait. Back when Ted Cruz had slightly more than a snowball’s chance in hell of becoming president, Jenner voiced interest in becoming Ted Cruz’s “trans ambassador.” Jenner changed her mind after Cruz gave public support to North Carolina’s hotly debated bathroom bill, HB2, and in solidarity with Donald Trump, she took a performative piss in a Trump Tower restroom. She capped the video footage of it by saying, “And by the way, Ted, nobody got molested.”

    Jenner was taking Trump up on the offer he made in April on a Today show interview, when he said that Jenner could use whatever bathroom in a Trump facility that she wanted. At the time, Trump said he believed that any trans person should do so. He said that creating separate trans bathrooms would be discriminatory, that there had been “little trouble” when it came to public restroom use, and that North Carolina should, “Leave it the way it is.”

    In June, Trump backpedaled, saying, “I’m going with the state,” whose Republican governor, Pat McCrory, has ardently defended HB2. Since then, Trump selected Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate. Last year, Pence signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law and has also vociferously defended it since. The RFRA was essentially a license for businesses to discriminate against queer people (among others) on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs, before it was amended with another bill to provide protections for LGBT customers.

    Additionally, this year’s Republican platform has this to say about Jenner’s tribe:

    We emphatically support the original, authentic meaning of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. It affirmed that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” That language opened up for girls and women a world of opportunities that had too often been denied to them. That same provision of law is now being used by bureaucrats — and by the current President of the United States — to impose a social and cultural revolution upon the American people by wrongly redefining sex discrimination to include sexual orientation or other categories. Their agenda has nothing to do with individual rights; it has everything to do with power. They are determined to reshape our schools — and our entire society — to fit the mold of an ideology alien to America’s history and traditions. Their edict to the states concerning restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities is at once illegal, dangerous, and ignores privacy issues. We salute the several states which have filed suit against it.

    And just yesterday, at the Florida delegation breakfast near the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ben Carson mocked identifying transgender as “the height of absurdity.”

    Some friends Jenner has in that political party of hers!

    Jenner finally seems to realize as much. During today’s brunch, she framed herself as potentially useful for persuading Republicans out of their bigotry. She spoke passionately against the GOP-supported bathroom bills and even admitted that “the Democratic party does a better job when it comes to the LBGT [sic] community, the trans community, all that kinda stuff, and Obama actually has been very good from that standpoint.” Regarding the GOP’s own record on LGBT rights, she said, “I have to admit I’ve been very disappointed for the last five, ten years, but I won’t give up hope on it.” Even optimism can function as willful ignorance.

    As to whether she is really a Republican, Jenner rambled unhelpfully:

    My father was in the 5th Ranger Battalion. Landed on Omaha Beach. He’s buried at Arlington. He was a real good man. And actually, I went to his site a few years ago and realized that the plane that went into the Pentagon went right over my dad’s…where he’s buried. Thinking if my dad knew what was going on with this country when he fought so hard, and so many people died around him, and he’s seeing what’s happening with our country, I think he’d be very disappointed. Because of that, I feel like our best hope to get back to a Constitutional government with 18 enumerated powers is in the Republican Party.

    Some things, you see, defy reason.

    [h/t Towleroad]

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