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‘Great Government’ gets goosed going into 2014

Longtime public opposition to bigger bureaucracy now at historic high

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bureaucracy, big government, speech, gay news, Washington Blade
bureaucracy, big government, speech, gay news, Washington Blade

Continuing a long-term trend, a record number of Americans view “big government” as a greater threat to the country’s future than “big business” or labor unions. (Image by Bigstock)

We’ve re-learned a lesson the hard way of late.

The greatest barrier to building small and corporate business success, encouraging economic vitality and broadening employment opportunities is the lumbering hulk of blunt interference that is “Great Government.” The goals may be laudable, but the results are too often otherwise.

Whether as close as a local legislative assemblage or tucked away in one of the massive federal wrens of regulatory over-think, the counterintuitive and counterproductive obstacles to growth and prosperity emblematic of old-school and obstinate bureaucracies were on full display as the year came to an end.

The public humiliation that has befallen both the administration and federal agencies over an inability to ably manage almost any aspect of a controversial health care reform scheme of its own design has illustrated that in a singularly devastating manner. The debacle has played out as an endless-loop real-time infomercial on the limits of government and the perils of too much of it.

Any ultimate legacy of this presidency is destined to prominently include the failure of faith in big and bossy and supposedly beneficent overlords. Setting aside the lost opportunities to move an ailing country and languishing economy forward – a sad and unfortunate result – re-learning that lesson is a good thing.

And re-learn it we did.

Continuing a long-term trend, a record number of Americans view “big government” as a greater threat to the country’s future than “big business” or labor unions. Nearly 3-in-4, or 72 percent, now share that view. Large majorities of all political persuasions – including 71 percent of independents and 56 percent of Democrats — agree. A large majority has held this position since the early 1980s, declining only slightly and briefly following terrorist attacks in 2001 and the Enron scandal in 2002. Government has always been seen as the “greatest threat” in the 48 years of Gallup polling on the question.

With the White House a true believer in ever-bigger government, and a prolific promoter and prodigious promulgator of an all-powerful Wizard-of-Oz bureaucracy, it is no surprise that disapproval of that notion has climbed 17 points during the past five years. In contrast, business is viewed as the greater threat by only 21 percent – the lowest Gallup has measured since 1983.

And our patience is running out.

Presidents rarely recover from the type of plummeting approval numbers and trust deficits of recent months. And with a national leader who seems increasingly hapless and helpless – and mostly proffers apologies and excuses and convoluted explanations designed to fool the gullible or trick-the-truth – expectations that a political recovery is ahead are low. Even political party partisans have largely moved on in embarrassment, shifting to an unseemly early next-election effort. It may be a long three years of uninspired inertia looming.

The foibles and failures of a national administration offer important lessons for local politicians and governments. Not only does stuff-get-done at the city, county and state level unlikely to find fruition in Washington, it is there that practical solutions and sensible approaches are slowly taking root. Lowering taxes, loosening cumbersome regulations and reducing private sector obstacles are increasingly the story of success.

Even the District’s elected officials are tenuously evolving. Never fast or far enough, and with one step forward often followed by two in the opposite direction. Improving enterprise conditions, however, is finally on the agenda, if low on the list. Reducing taxes is increasingly of focus, regulatory reform is under review and a nascent appreciation for a less-fettered business environment as the source of economic development is ascendant.

This measure of progress, more awkward first steps than strides, offers marginal hope for near-term improvement. Given how far and low D.C. has sunk over the years in its nanny-state proclivities and disreputable treatment of job-creators, revenue-producers and urban living-enhancers, even a modest shift in attitude is welcomed.

Let’s hope that the coming year brings more positive change in a new direction.

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at [email protected].

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Erica Cook

    January 1, 2014 at 12:47 am

    Republican BS. You are not against big government, you're against government doing anything to help people who actually need it.

    • James Lytle

      January 1, 2014 at 11:11 am

      Agreed!!!! Thank you Erica!!!! What Mr. Lee writes here is just as jejune as if he had written, “We need a Nanny State.” I urge the Blade to cut all its jingoistic and simplistic editorializing, period. I for one am tired of all the posturing and bluster we get from editorial pages these days. Mr. Lee offers us no concrete examples of how regulation hurts our economy and our small businesses; but I can point to the way that lack of regulation of our residential developers in this city, namely the fact that our city does no inspections of newly constructed buildings, leads to losses for the consumers who buy those newly built homes and apartments. I now live in a home that on paper should have made my financial future secure; but because DC government allows developers to put poorly constructed buildings on the market, and get away with selling defective properties to consumers, my financial future is seriously imperiled. Good regulations help us all. Bad regulations hurts us all. Truism! Now, Mr. Lee, offer us concrete examples of how bad regulation can be corrected or removed to make life better for consumers. “Washington Blade” editors, stop publishing this kind of garbage, whether it comes from the so-called right or so-called left. Treat your readers with some respect, and stop insulting their collective intelligence.

  2. Bruce Majors

    January 3, 2014 at 7:37 am

    Thanks for speaking the truth. It s amazing how many people in DC enjoy 6 figure salaries stolen from the rest of the country, running idiotic programs that fund Wall Street, educrat cartels, agribusiness, insurance companies, and third world tyrants, while pretending that they are “doing good” and “helping people.”

  3. Bruce P. Majors

    January 3, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Thanks for speaking the truth. It s amazing how many people in DC enjoy 6 figure salaries stolen from the rest of the country, running idiotic programs that fund Wall Street, educrat cartels, agribusiness, insurance companies, and third world tyrants, while pretending that they are “doing good” and “helping people.”

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Opinions

The future of lesbian bars

Resolve to support our queer spaces in 2022

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lockdown zone, gay news, Washington Blade

This New Year, I hope you wish for more lesbian bars across the country. The story of lesbian bars in the U.S. has been slightly tragic of late: as of January 2021, there were only 15 clubs or bars dedicated to queer women across the country. 

That’s right—only 15. Across all 50 states. 

In Washington, D.C., my hometown, A League of Her Own stands out as the only lesbian bar in the city, dedicated to queer women. Located in Adams Morgan, A League of Her Own, also known as ALOHO, is a small mecca for queer ladies to pass through, socialize, and flirt. ALOHO is a chic gathering point for all queer folk, with posters of softball players dotting the walls and gender neutral signs lying about. 

Several years ago, another lesbian bar called Phase 1 existed in Southeast, where queer women could slam eight balls in pool games and engage in raunchy yet ever-so-hot jello wrestling competitions. 

Unfortunately, Phase 1 shut its doors in 2016. 

So what explains the closure of so many lesbian bars, while bars for gay men continue to flourish? Perhaps many queer women view gay bars as a space for their own as well, whereas gay men view lesbian bars as less of a place for them to socialize. 

Either way, we need to give support to lesbian bars now more than ever. Tokens of support can take many forms. 

For one, make sure to socialize in spaces dedicated to queer ladies. There are three lesbian bars in New York City: Cubbyhole (281 W. 12th St.), Gingers in Brooklyn (363 5th Ave.), and Henrietta Hudson (438 Hudson St.). Next time you visit the Big Apple, make sure to give these three spots some love. Maybe drag your experimenting bi friend to these locations. Or your pansexual roommate. 

Back in D.C., you can buy unisex shirts in A League of Her Own’s merchandise store, available online. 

Proceeds will go toward funding the bar, and making sure it stays afloat, especially during this COVID economy. 

Most of all, I hope you encourage your queer lady friends to keep on frequenting queer lady destinations. After all, there is only one thing that will keep lesbian bars afloat—and that is attendance. 

I, for one, will be frequenting many lesbian destinations this new year.  

Isaac Amend is a Yale graduate and participated in National Geographic’s ‘Gender Revolution’ documentary. He also is a member of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia, and contributes regularly to the Blade. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @isaacamend.

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Breaking barriers as an out trans ‘Jeopardy’ champion

Amy Schneider’s run inspires us all

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Amy Schneider (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Television)

“When was the last time anybody said ‘wow!’” a friend asked me.

I couldn’t remember the last time anyone I know (including me) had any “Wow!” moments. Until I heard about trans woman and software engineering manager Amy Schneider’s 29-game winning streak on “Jeopardy.”

You wouldn’t think anything could dispel our COVID exhaustion and political divisiveness. Yet, news about a champion on “Jeopardy,” a quiz show that has been on TV since 1964, has broken through our gloom.

In our culture, there are few things that everyone loves. But, “Jeopardy” is beloved by many, from theater geeks to 80-year-old sports nuts. A progressive friend was over the moon when his brother was a “Jeopardy” contestant. A buddy, a hetero (non-Trump) Republican, is a “Jeopardy” fanatic and a gay librarian pal is a “Jeopardy” freak.

Many of us daydream about being on “Jeopardy.” But we know that we wouldn’t have a chance on this legendary quiz show with its deceptively simple format: You give the answer to the (often incredibly hard) clues in the form of a question. You have to have a strategic military commander’s and a world-class athlete’s coordination: so you can press the buzzer to answer the clue.

The game’s categories run the gamut from opera to mountain ranges. Most of us, mere mortals, would be lucky to know even one category in the first round of the game. Let alone in the “Double Jeopardy” round or the “Final Jeopardy” clue. I might jump on clues about Katharine Hepburn movies or M&Ms. But that would be it for me.

It’s exciting to watch a “Jeopardy” contestant become a long-running champion. You marvel at the player’s intelligence, endurance, and nerve. It’s thrilling when the contestant on a winning-streak is part of your community.

Many of us LGBTQ “Jeopardy” fans are thrilled by Schneider’s record-setting winning streak. As I write this, Schneider has won more than $1 million in 29 games of “Jeopardy.” She is the fifth millionaire in “Jeopardy” history, and only the fourth player to reach this milestone in the regular season. She has won more than any other female “Jeopardy” contestant.

Schneider, like so many of us, doesn’t want to be defined by her gender identity or sexuality. Schneider’s life is multi-faceted; she has many interests. Schneider lives with her girlfriend Genevieve. They have a cat named Meep.

Yet, Schneider doesn’t want to hide that she’s trans. On “Jeopardy,” Schneider brilliantly dealt with this dilemma. She didn’t make a big deal about being out. She just wore the trans Pride flag pin.

“It was something that I wanted to get out there and to show my pride in while not making it the focus of what I was doing there,” Schneider told the New York Times. “Because I was just there to answer trivia questions and win money.”

As a cisgender lesbian, I can’t speak to how Schneider’s record-setting “Jeopardy” streak feels to transgender people.

But, as a trans ally, I’m cheering for Schneider. Kudos for her bravery! At a time when many states are passing anti-trans laws, it takes guts to be out on TV and the Internet.

Few things are as mainstream as “Jeopardy.” I bet that many “Jeopardy” viewers who are frightened at the idea of trans people, will become more comfortable with transgender people after watching Schneider on the popular quiz show. Because folks on TV come into our living and bedrooms and we feel as if we know them after watching them for a while.

“Amy looks like everybody else,” my neighbor said when I told her Schneider was trans. “She doesn’t act odd. She’s not strange.”

Transgender people encounter violence and discrimination in everything from housing to health care to employment.

I know Schneider’s “Jeopardy” triumph won’t end transphobia. But her winning streak will go a long way toward jumpstarting a change in hearts and minds.

Kathi Wolfe, a writer and a poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.

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SCARY: Tucker Carlson now the conscience of GOP

Cruz bows down, kisses ring of Fox host

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Tucker Carlson (Screen capture via Fox on YouTube)

The Republican Party has sunk to a new low, hard to do, when a sleazebag like Tucker Carlson is now their conscience. Seeing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) groveling before him is laughable, disgusting, and frightening all at the same time. 

As reported in Rolling Stone, Cruz said, “We are approaching a solemn anniversary this week. It is an anniversary of a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol where we saw the men and women of law enforcement demonstrate incredible courage, incredible bravery, risk their lives to defend the men and women who serve in this Capitol.” Then “Cruz was lambasted by Tucker Carlson that night, prompting him to hop on Carlson’s show Thursday and beg for forgiveness. “The way I phrased things yesterday, it was sloppy and it was frankly dumb,” Cruz said before Carlson cut him off and said he didn’t believe him. Cruz took it up a notch, stammering through an absurd bit about how he wasn’t talking about the “patriots across the country supporting President Trump,” only those who assaulted police officers, and that he’s always described anyone who assaults a cop as a terrorist.

Carlson has made a career of being a pompous commentator. Interestingly he worked at CNN, PBS, and MSNBC, before finally landing at Fox in 2009. According to his Wikipedia page he went to Trinity College where he earned a bachelor’s degree and Carlson’s Trinity yearbook describes him as a member of the “Dan White Society,” an apparent reference to the American political assassin who murdered San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. After college, Carlson tried to join the CIA, but his application was denied, after which he decided to pursue a career in journalism with the encouragement of his father, who advised him that “they’ll take anybody.” Reading this clearly raised my opinion of the CIA and based on what we see in some media today I agree with Carlson’s father on his view of journalism. 

When you have a moment of silence in the House of Representatives to honor those who lost their lives on Jan. 6 and only two Republicans show up, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and her father Dick Cheney, the former vice president, one understands the influence Carlson has on the GOP. The rest were afraid of being criticized on-air by him or lambasted by Trump. 

Dick Cheney remarked on the GOP, “It’s not a leadership that resembles any of the folks I knew when I was here for 10 years.” He spoke to ABC News saying, “I’m deeply disappointed we don’t have better leadership in the Republican Party to restore the Constitution.” 

There is a leadership void in the Republican Party today. Their so-called leaders are afraid to say what they think if it differs in any way from Trumpism or Carlson’s view of the world, which requires total fealty to Trump. He found a home on Fox where he can lie with impunity and have millions believe his lies. 

President Biden said, in what many think was the best speech of his presidency so far, these people are “holding a dagger to the neck of democracy.” He went on to say, “For the first time in our history, a president not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol.” 

Tucker Carlson and his ilk have never bothered to answer a question the president threw at them, which is how they can accept all their down ballot victories, governors, and members of Congress, which occurred on the same ballots, cast by the same people, on the same day, as those for president. Of course, Carlson has no need to make sense, tell the truth, or speak rationally because of his platform on Fox, which doesn’t require that.

My question is whether Carlson is as dumb as he makes himself sound or is he brilliant and this is all a big act? Either way the acolytes that follow Trump don’t seem to care and are bowing down to Carlson’s big audience. It’s as if he can tell any Republican senator or congressperson, or Republican candidate for those jobs, to just ‘bend over and take it’ and they do. All we can do is mourn for the GOP of Lincoln and Eisenhower. Non-Trumpers will have to work hard and speak out if they ever want to resurrect a GOP that can be respected.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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