Monday, May 21, 2018

I get it now... It's hard to admit a mistake.

I think I have it figured out...

Like many people I have wondered how any American with any sort of conscience or common sense could still be defending Donald Trump Yet all you need do is surf over to fox news dot com and scroll through  the comment threads to find Trump Supporters who are desperate to talk about ANYthing but the core issues surrounding this President. 

President Trump said multiple times that he "had no deals with anyone in Russia".  That was a LIE he did.    President Trump said no one in his campaign ever met with Russians or people connected to Russia, That was also a LIE, there were multiple contacts on multiple levels.    The President says the Special Council investigation is run by Democrats, that is also a LIE Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein are both Republicans.
and... and... and... 

But Ok , I get it. They can't ever face those facts because it means admitting they got conned.  Like the little old lady who gives her bank details to the "Nigerian Prince" who emailed her for help, They fell for the scam hook  line and sinker. 
  • They voted to drain the swamp. President Trump filled it instead. 
  • They voted for America First, and President Trump has instead lost  Billions of dollars in Trade (specifically agricultural trade) to China and Russia. 
  • They voted for a POTUS who said  he'd  be too busy working to play Golf, and instead they got one who is too busy golfing to actually work. 
 So yeah, I can see why they feel so defensive.

Hey! I feel their pain! I voted for Barack Obama. TWICE, thinking I was getting passionate progressive, and instead I got a moderate corporate centrist who squandered his majority and mandate trying to appease people who were never going to work with him, even on things they had thought of, (like the Health Insurance Individual mandate - which was a GOP idea.)

The Republican Party was once a beacon of rational and inspired patriotism. Now it is addicted to crazy. And like most addicts the hardest thing is admitting you have problem. So I get it, Trump voters log online, rail and rant about the "libs" and "Fake News" but we all know the real issue is, they cannot bring themselves to admit they were duped.

 But admitting you made a mistake is the first step to fixing it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

I Hate It When I'm Right...

When you are a kid, of the best moments was always getting to say “I told you so!”. There was an infantile schadenfreude at having been proved right, (usually at the expense of someone else…) For the most part these moments for me, tended to be harmless and involved Northside Elementary School playground dares , like “bet you can’t fit 50 grasshoppers into one hand!” (For the record you can, but it gets kinda messy. But the scream you get from the playground teacher when she asks you to show her what’s in your hand, is totally worth it…)

As an adult however, often we find that moment can be a double-edged sword.  Especially when being proved right involves decisions and mistakes that have very real consequences.

Critics of what we will generously call Donald Trump’s “foreign policy”, might be tempted this morning to do a little “I told you so dance” over the news that North Korea did exactly what anyone with even basic knowledge of the reality on the Korean Peninsula said they would do.

CNBC Reports:

North Korea abruptly canceled talks with South Korea scheduled for Wednesday and threatened to walk away from talks with the U.S., according to media reports.
North Korea's state-run Central News Agency said the ongoing joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea are a "provocation" and a preparation for an invasion, according to a Reuters report that cites South Korean news outlet Yonhap.
South Korea's Unification Ministry said it received a fax Wednesday from the head of the North Korean delegation for the high-level talks, who said his country is "indefinitely canceling the planned high-level inter-Korean talks" due to the military exercises.
The regime of Kim Jong Un  just yanked the football away from Charlie Brown Trump as he lumbered forward to kick it through the goal posts of the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Which is exactly what  North Korea always does.  The basic reality of the unresolved Korean Conflict  boils down to a simple premise; The Kim family dictatorship doesn’t want any sort of deal.  They want things to stay pretty much as they are.  The whole purpose of pursuing Nuclear weapons was to have the ultimate safeguard against any sort of change.

For North Korea,  talks are never about agreements.  They are about time and concessions.  Dangle the prospect of a deal and get temporary sanctions relief and buy  time to  strengthen those safeguards against regime change.    As far as Donald Trump goes… Let’s be honest.  This whole push for a summit and deal with North Korea isn’t about world peace, or even peace on the Korean Peninsula.   

This is about  Barack Obama.

Yeah… This is STILL all about Trump’s  desperate need to “beat” President Obama.  To show that HE, Donald Trump could do Obama one better.  You have seen it on all the usual comment threads by Trumpsters online;     “ Hey Libs!  Obama won the Nobel Prize?  Well look!  Trump will too!  But Trump will actually DESERVE IT!  #MAGA!!”

How soon we forget, the whole reason Trump decided to run for President was because Barack Obama and Seth Myers made fun of him at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

Which brings us to the real danger of Trump’s desperation to strike a deal with Kim Jong Un.  A brutal dictator guilty of untold numbers of human rights atrocities, who leads a regime with horrific labor camps where entire families are sent to instill terror and submission in a population that is literally starving to death to pay for the dictator’s lavish lifestyle.     

But none of that matters, as long as Trump can tweet about how he beat Barack Obama. This insecure manbaby in the White House is willing to abandon our nation’s core values and principles and ensure the continued long term survival of one the of the world’s most repressive regimes if doing so strokes his own ego.

In the days to come we will see the Trump Administration offer massive trade concessions to China in exchange for their help coaxing North Korea back to the table so Donald Trump can get his Photo Op. Trump will undoubtedly even  offer to ease or lift Sanctions.

 All the while, North Korea will be using the time to move their Nuclear program to new sites so they can show off the old empty old ones as “proof” of their willingness to join the rational international community.

Something that in reality, will never happen, as any  meaningful agreement is NOT in Kim's interest. Something that Trump doesn't get, but North Korea holding the football and smiling sweetly, offering the chance to kick it through the “See I beat Obama!" goal posts, will be irresistible to Donald Trump.

And North Korea and China both know it. So, yes, I told you so.   But being right in this case isn’t a win, for any of us.

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Gospel According to Paul Ryan

One Monday, November 6th, 2017 Congress was debating the Trump/GOP tax plan. U.S. House of Representatives Chaplin, Father Pat Conroy opened the session with the following invocation.

(From the congressional record...)

The Chaplain, the Reverend Patrick J. Conroy, offered the following prayer:

God of the universe, we give You thanks for giving us another day. Bless the Members  of this assembly as they set upon the work of these hours, of these days.

Help them to make wise decisions in a good manner and to carry their responsibilities  steadily, with high hopes for a better future for our great Nation.

As legislation on taxes continues to be debated this week and next, may all Members  be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great Nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue  to struggle.

May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under  new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans. May Your blessing,  O God, be with them and with us all this day and every day to come, and may all we  do be done for Your greater honor and glory. Amen.

That  prayer apparently was just too much hippie leftist socialism for some Republicans who complained to  House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Mordor), who in turned fired Conroy for having to much of a  "tilt to the left".    Yeah...  you read that right,  Just  to be clear;  A prayer that simply called for lawmakers to have a sense of compassion for the poor and to work to ensure all Americans benefit from their actions,  was considered to be offensive and partisan by Congressional Republicans.

Additionally  there are rumblings that  Ryan also was trying to placate conservative evangelical members of the GOP Caucus who  may have anti-catholic sentiments. Something Catholic television network EWTN broadly hinted at:

The fact that  the Republican Party, and the broader American Conservative movement has had a decidedly revisionist approach to their "christian" faith is nothing new.   Comedian Will Ferrell was joking about it  over a decade ago..

In the 1980's the GOP ran against the threat of Soviet Communism. In the 1990's the GOP ran against the threat of Gay people. After 9-11 it was the threat of "Islamo fascist terrorism" and then in 2004 it was both Islamic terrorists AND the Gays. 2008 and 2012 saw the GOP come full circle and run campaigns that all but screamed "Vote against the SCARY Black Man! (Who was probably a Muslim too!)".

With this week's debacle over the firing of Conry , we have seen how clearly the GOP has created it's own religion, aligned to a warped fundamentalist extremism and the Golden Calf of the worship and protection of extreme wealth. Blessed are the top 1% and cursed be the poor for pulling resources away from the all deserving rich. in 2018 we have a GOP that is utterly disconnected from actual Christianity, while at the same time still claiming America is under dire threat from non-Christian extremism.

All the while carefully redesigning Christ into an image that fit their Grover Norquist/Koch Brothers talking points. Where poor people are lazy "takers" and it is wealthy or "job creators" as they were dubbed,  who were truly doing the Lord's good work and therefore needed all the support and protection Government could offer. 

One can't help but wonder how Evangelical Conservatives, having already sold their Souls to support Donald Trump. (A thrice-married serial lying adulterer, who pays off porn stars and centerfolds, and brags about being able to commit sexual assault because he is a "celebrity"); will spin their justification for the firing of a Christian minister for praying for compassion for the poor.

Then again, "blessed are the Rich"  has always been the Gospel According to Paul Ryan.  Who has spent his entire career in public life trying to destroy the Social Safety net of the United States and  turn it into tax cuts and benefits for the wealthiest of Americans.   For Ryan, killing any and all  programs that provide health care to poor Americans has been his most cherished dream since  his carefree college days.

Ryan's gospel doesn't just  insist (despite all evidence to the contrary), that  such redistribution would ultimately leave the poor better off, in part by improving the economy as a whole. But also he claims that his agenda was a moral one.  Saying  that the rich were the worthy "Makers” and the poor were the evil  “Takers”,  lazy people who subsist on government handouts.  Often citing  Ayn Rand, the libertarian philosopher, as one of his  major influences. 

Now we see this warped perversion of faith coming full circle.  Where even hearing in a prayer that they should be caring as much for the least of these, as they do for the wealthiest of these, was too much for Republicans  to take.   Faith as become  just another  GOP "alternative fact" .   One that elevates hypocrisy to the level of doctrine.     By their works shall Ye know them...

Here endeth the lesson.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Joining the League of Ordinary Nations...

This past week has been one of great historical and political contrasts.

The passing of former First Lady, Barbara Pierce Bush, provided a stark comparison between the comportment of the American Presidency past and present. I was reminded of my own small role in the Bush Campaign in 1988, as a College Republican campaign coordinator at the University of Wisconsin.  The Bush/Quayle campaign was the first time I was actively involved in a Presidential campaign.

I have vivid memories of meeting both President Bush and Barbara Bush and how I was struck by their sense of duty over self-interest.  History has, and will continue to debate the Bush legacy but that is a different discussion. 

Even those who take strong issue with the actions of the George HW Bush Administration can admire the way he and the first lady conducted themselves and the dignity they brought to the White House.

There was a fundamental doctrine of Presidential stewardship, that was clearly articulated by Bush in his inaugural address in 1989;

"Great nations like great men must keep their word. When America says something, America means it, whether a treaty or an agreement or a vow made on marble steps."

For most of the 20th century, an abiding belief most Americans have had is that we, the United States stood for freedom, and for fundamental human rights. Even when that belief was imperfect in its expression or application. At the end of the day. The United States was the force that stood against tyrants. Be they Imperialists, Fascists, Communists behind the Iron Curtain, drug kingpins and the corrupt politicians they controlled in Central and South America, or Terrorists in the Middle East.

We were (or at least honesty tried to be,) the good guys. Putting the collective interest of Humanity ahead of our own domestic politics, and backing it up with our national will and when needed, our military might.

How things have changed.

I have watched the Trump Administration's approach to dealing with the issue of North Korea with a growing mixture of dismay and alarm. Alarm at the eagerness that many in the Administration have expressed for military conflict on Korean Peninsula, and dismay with the extent to which Donald Trump is willing to completely abdicate American moral leadership, in a desperate attempt to score what he sees as a foreign policy "win" that he can boast about on Twitter.

The regime that rules North Korea is a brutal, viscous tyrannical dictatorship on par with Stalinist Russia in terms of human rights atrocities. The rule of three generations of the Kim Family, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and now Kim Jong Un, has resulted in the murder of countless North Koreans. The Torture and imprisonment of countless more, and a web international crime that boggles the mind.

Those few defectors who do make it out, tell of the horrors of life inside North Korea and their extraordinary journeys to escape the country.

In addition North Korea is the number one global source for counterfeit US currency, mass producing fake $100 Dollar bills to finance both the North Korean military and the Kim Family's personal lifestyle. This current reality is, no country or bank will lend North Korea money. Because that the last time anyone did, they just refused to pay it back. So North Korea is a country that is desperate for hard currency to finance the regime's ambitions, and ensure its survival.

Which brings us to Donald Trump. Less than two years into his Presidency Trump is desperate for a "win". He couldn't kill the Affordable Care Act, his tax cuts are exploding the US Budget Deficit and National Debt. and his entire administration is mired in massive scandal involving Russian meddling in the 2016 Election.

At first Trump saw North Korea as a potential way to shift focus away from his own problems Tweet a few insults at the North Korean leader, threaten a preemptive nuclear strike and voila! You have changed the news cycle, at least for a few days.

One side effect of that, is China decided enough was enough. Faced with a President of the United States who did not seem to understand the basic truth that any military conflict on the Korean Peninsula would be catastrophic for everyone involved, earlier this month, China summoned Kim to Beijing, and made it clear that it was time cool things down.

Suddenly we all are talking about a Kim-Trump Summit. Giving Trump the chance to Tweet gleefully about it. Implying that he, the great negotiator, was on the verge of achieving what none of his predecessors have been able to. The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. All it will take is for him to sit down with Kim face to face and Trump the dealmaker will get it done.

I wouldn't hold your breath... Oh, you can safely bet that North Korea is serious about wanting to sit down and talk. Not change, not disarm, just talk.

Christopher Hill, the former US ambassador who led the negotiations in George W. Bush‘s second term, said at the time, ”The idea that North Korea will abandon its weapons programs in exchange for the promise of security and regime survival has failed whenever it has been tested.“

If you remember, the previous North Korean Leader, Kim Jong-il made a very similar offer. Making the US think we could woo North Korea into a deal by giving back frozen assets and removing the regime from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. It was all just a show. In the end, North Korean balked at even basic verifications to prove they had disarmed. And just like every other time before, Pyongyang pocketed the up-front concessions and used the talks to stall for time.

What IS different this time around, is North Korea knows Trump is desperate to use this situation to shift focus from his domestic problems. Donald Trump will put domestic political distraction ahead America's national interest, and that of our allies.

Donald Trump is right about one thing, he certainly is on track to do something none of his predecessors have; That is, to give the North Korean regime the international legitimacy it has craved, and up until now, has rightly been denied by every American President since Harry Truman.

By meeting with Kim, Trump is putting a petty murderous thug, guilty of heinous human rights crimes, on par with President of the United States. All because he thinks it gives him a "one up" on Barack Obama. Donald Trump has demonstrated a total lack of understanding of why that is bad, and what it would mean. Even going so far as to say that the Dictator of North Korea is an honorable guy.

The only nation that has ANY real influence with North Korea, is China. North Korea is completely dependent on China who for the most part, has been happy to let North Korea get away with being a thorn in the side of the United States. This is because that is something that benefits China.

China is quite happy to have North Korea keep Trump (and the U.S). focused on the Korean peninsula, instead of  China’s aggressive militarization of pretty much the entire South China Sea. The only way North Korea is really going to give up their nuclear weapons is if China makes them do so. And right now, China has no incentive to do that..

North Korea is never going to nuke South Korea or attack Japan, and no, North Korea is not going to launch an ICBM at the US. China would never allow a military conflict on their back porch. The real threat is that North Korea will SELL a nuke, or parts of a nuke to somebody who would use it.  ISIS, Al-Qaeda , Hezbollah, Boko Haram or who knows who else. THAT is the real risk, one that only China is in a position to mitigate.

Meeting with Kim, does nothing. but give him legitimacy. More sanctions on North Korea does nothing but make them ramp up their counterfeiting operations. It is China that needs to feel the pressure to fix this.

But to achieve that, America needs influence, and in year two of the Trump Presidency the United States has next to none. Trump is seen as a toddler to be managed and re-directed. American soft power (diplomatic, strategic and economic) has been decimated by this Administration.

The United States no longer has sufficient influence with our Allies let alone our adversaries, to exert the kind of diplomatic pressure on China needed to truly move the ball in terms of North Korea.

 The majority of the ASEAN countries are still without a current US ambassador. American influence in the Region is now clearly second to that of China.

Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and even Australia, New Zealand and South Korea are all looking to China for  leadership, in terms of the stability of the region.   Who can blame them?  It is region that The United States, as a pacific rim nation is part of, but is no longer sitting at the table. Our voice, and our influence have been muted, by the Trump Administration itself.

An administration led by a President who thinks he is going to win a Poker game with people who are clearly playing Chess.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Love Simon.... I'd like to, but...

I am trying to like “Love Simon”.

Really I am. From all indications the movie is the Gay high school Rom-Com that we have all wanted to see for so long. Granted there have been others. But all were smaller indie-type movies. Great movies like Love Seventeen, Trick, Jeffery, The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green, and Broken Hearts Club. All wonderful films but not major Hollywood releases.

Now comes “Love Simon” which is basically the Gay version of all those John Hughes high school romantic comedies I grew up watching when I was that age. A gay “Sixteen Candles” or “Pretty in Pink”. Finally right?

Time Magazine recently stole my thunder by asking the very question I did when I first saw the trailer for this movie “Do Today’s Teens Really Need it?” In the film our hero Simon, a good looking popular kid with a loving and supportive family never really faces any serious risk in coming out. Not that having such risks would make it a better movie. It wouldn’t. This is fantasy. Just like the nerdy freshman girl getting the senior hunk of her dreams in Sixteen Candles this movie also (quite rightly) glosses over the reality of the American High School experience. Creating a wonderful fantasy where boy meets boy and after some endearing ups and downs gets his guy, and goes to the happily ever after-prom.

I went to a pretty good High School. It was ( and still is) an outstanding public school with dedicated and talented Teachers, decent facilities great extra-curricular programs and overall I received a very good education there. It was however, like most American High Schools, ridiculously stratified to the point that makes the Caste system in India look like outtakes from the Breakfast Club..

As much as my classmates at the time would never admit it today. In the 80’s if a student had come out, the reaction quite simply would have been to bully him or her to death., and no, that is by no means an exaggeration.

There was no such thing a Gay-Straight alliances, or “Safe Spaces” for LGBT youth. My Junior year When I was one of the editors of the school newspaper an organization called “The United” which was a ground breaking non profit support and counseling organization that served Gay and Lesbian teens in South Central Wisconsin, contacted us, and wanted to buy an ad our school paper advertising their crisis counseling line for Gay teens. It was the biggest drama you could possibly imagine where teachers that I had thought to be open minded and progressive were suddenly “seriously concerned” that we might be “promoting the homosexual lifestyle”, and even potentially pushing some poor confused soul into it, just by running this ad.

As a young gay teen terrified of coming out the conversations that were had, the opinions that both friends and teachers alike expressed, all taught me a lot. Mainly that my school was a very dangerous place for me, There would never be a date, a dance or a kiss stolen at a locker in between classes for someone like me. And to even attempt such a thing would be suicide. Literally.

So yes, Love Simon is the sweet, and wonderfully ground breaking film that I always hoped would be made some day. But it also has severed as painful reminder of what I, and many like me, never had. So maybe my feelings stem from a place of envy. Or maybe the good news is , a Gay kid today at my High School really does have it a lot better than I did, and this movie is just art imitating life.

That certainly is good news. Even if that life wasn’t mine.

Friday, March 09, 2018

A Trump-Kim Summit? (with Chinese Subtitles…)

A few excited Trump supporting friends of mine, (yes I do have friends who are Trump supporters, I consider it a form of missionary work .) gleefully messaged me today lauding the announcement that President Trump would be meeting with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un this Spring. “See Obama never achieved that!! #MAGA!”


Ok then… since they seemed truly interested in what I thought of this latest development, fine. Lets set aside for the moment the massive, glaring flashing bright neon sign of  hypocrisy, where these very same people lost their freaking minds when in 2008 Barack Obama merely suggested that he would “Willing to meet” with the North Korean Leader.

Apparently when the Black guy just talks about it, it is giving support to America’s enemies, but when the Orange guy  actually does it, it’s a triumph of statesmanship. OK….Whatever.

The popular take on the political Right is that it was Trump’s tough guy stance and willingness to use military force that brought Kim to the table. Or at least Trump's willingness to say things that gave that impression. And to be fair, there may be some truth in that. The North Korean regime has made a career out of being the “Crazy” one in the room. The unpredictable one. They were accustomed to dealing with a US Administration that always followed the rules of international diplomacy.

North Korean provocations were always met with ‘strongly worded” statements and watered down sanctions from the UN. (Sanctions that China would never quite fall in line with fully implementing.) The worst thing that would usually happen would be stepped up joint military exercises between the US And South Korea. Which in turn provided the North with great PR at home being able to claim the US was the clear aggressor and all North Korea was doing is ensuring its own security.
Lather, rinse, repeat.

Then suddenly you have a US President who is threatening a nuclear first strike on Twitter. Referring to the North Korean Leader by insulting nick names and not giving a rip how his comments and behavior is viewed around the world. North Korea has always counted on the US belief that war on the Korean Peninsula was unthinkable. Suddenly, that was no longer a given,

Add to this, the fact that is has become clear that you have an American Administration that was more than willing to escalate tensions with North Korea as a way to shift the news cycle away from its political problems and scandals at home. Suddenly, North Korea wasn’t the most unpredictable one in the room, and Kim had to factor in the very real possibility of an actual military conflict, that he couldn’t possibly survive on his own.

Which is where the Trump is so smart narrative runs into trouble. Yes the actions by Donald Trump may have had an impact here, but not on North Korea. What is clear, is the Adult in the room finally decided that things were getting out of hand. The reason North Korea is suddenly singing “Give peace a chance”, is because China decided enough was enough.

North Korea is completely dependent on China who for the most part, is happy to let  North Korea get away with being a thorn in the side of the United States,  because that is something that actually benefits China. That being said, the LAST thing China wants is a REAL  military conflict on its back porch.

The only way the North Korean regime could possibly survive any military conflict with the US, is if China went to war on its behalf. Like it did on November 25th 1950, during the Korean War. Something China is not at all about to do In 2018. But what China has done is actually implement many ( not all) of the latest batch of economic sanctions against its unruly little neighbor. Sending a very loud and clear message to Kim that Nuclear playtime was over and it was time to sit down and talk.

Not change, not disarm, just talk.

If the latest round of diplomacy  is feeling somewhat familiar,  it is because we have been down this road more than a few times before. Back during the George W Bush administration the North Koreans made basically the same offer they did this week. They will sit down and talk about disarmament in exchange for security guarantees and lifting of sanctions

Christopher Hill, the former US ambassador who led the negotiations in George W. Bush‘s second term, said at the time, ”The idea that North Korea will abandon its weapons programs in exchange for the promise of security and regime survival has failed whenever it has been tested.“

If you remember, the previous North Korean Leader, Kim Jong-il made a very similar offer. The US then tried to woo North Korea to the negotiating table by giving back frozen assets and removing the regime from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. It was all show. In the end, North Korean balked at even basic verification to prove they had disarmed. And just like every other  time before, Pyongyang pocketed the up-front concessions and used the talks to stall for time.

As long as China sees the threat of conflict (not actual conflict) on the Korean Peninsula as something that works in China’s favor, keeping the US focused on the DMZ instead of China’s massive military build up in other parts of Asia, or the expansion of China’s strategic and economic influence in other parts of the world, like Africa and South America , there is no reason whatsoever to believe this latest diplomatic thaw will be any different.

By meeting with Kim Jong-un as an equal Head of State. Trump is actually doing what conservatives hysterically accused Obama of being willing to do.  Giving a petty violent little dictator the standing on the world stage that only the American Presidency can bestow.

But then again, that’s totally fine, because……?   Oh yeah, it’s the Orange guy who’s doing it.

Anything to distract from Russia,  right? 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Mixed Legacy of Rev. Billy Graham (1919-2018)

From the New York TImes:

The Rev. Billy Graham, a North Carolina farmer’s son who preached to millions in stadium events he called crusades, becoming a pastor to presidents and the nation’s best-known Christian evangelist for more than 60 years, died on Wednesday at his home in Montreat, N.C. He was 99.

His death was confirmed by Jeremy Blume, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Mr. Graham had dealt with a number of illnesses in his last years, including prostate cancer, hydrocephalus (a buildup of fluid in the brain) and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Mr. Graham spread his influence across the country and around the world through a combination of religious conviction, commanding stage presence and shrewd use of radio, television and advanced communication technologies.

A central achievement was his encouraging evangelical Protestants to regain the social influence they had once wielded, reversing a retreat from public life that had begun when their efforts to challenge evolution theory were defeated in the Scopes trial in 1925.

But in his later years, Mr. Graham kept his distance from the evangelical political movement he had helped engender, refusing to endorse candidates and avoiding the volatile issues dear to religious conservatives.


For many Americans, Graham's legacy will always be a mixed one.  Graham liked to claim he had far more vocal detractors on the right than he did on the left. Yet carefully tucked into Graham's ecumenicalism was a subtle and at times not so subtle message of bigotry and exclusion. Graham, claimed in 1993 that AIDS was a “judgement from God”, yet in his view other Chronic illnesses like Cancer, and Diabetes were not.

In a 2015 interview with a Russian newspaper, Graham praised Vladimir Putin’s support for anti-gay laws – and repeated Putin's stance that homosexuals “take people’s children”. and the Billy Graham Evangelical Association continues to advocate gay ‘cure’ therapy,, (which every reputable medical entity has rightly defined as torture.), on its website.

It is also worth noting that Billy Graham’s daughter Anne Graham Lotz,and Son Frankin Graham both suggested that God let 9/11 happen because God was upset about transgender people

Billy Graham invented modern televangelism. And by wrapping a conservative theology in a outer shell of ecumenical outreach was able to be true cultural force in America. Whether that force was a good or bad thing is a very valid point of debate.

As a young gay kid growing up I remember being confused by Graham's messages. On one hand he said God loved me and people shouldn't judge others, and in the next breath said I was a demon possessed abomination, who was a threat to kids, and was going to burn in hell.  (Wait…what?? Geez man, make up your mind!)

You can't deny his influence and impact, but what is clear today is, despite how sweetly Graham may have couched his message in "the good news" his passing means there is one less voice of hatred and homophobia in the world,