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Resistance Hero: Beth Fukumoto

Hawaii’s Republicans responded on one of their leaders participating in the recent Women’s March in Honolulu by stripping one of their best and brightest, State House of Representatives Minority Leader Beth Fukumoto. Fukumoto, who maintains her seat, also critcized President Donald Trump during the March–an action that “party-first” Republicians just could not abide.

fukumotoThe 33-year old Fukumoto was confronted by members of the Republican Caucus who demanded that she commit to not criticizing Donald Trump under any circumstances. When she refused, she was ousted from her leadership role.

“What ended up being very problematic for me was that my caucus and others said, ‘If you want to stay in leadership, then you need to make a commitment to not criticize the president for the remainder of his term,'” Fukumoto said. “And with what we’ve been seeing in the news with the different executive orders coming out every day, I didn’t believe I could make that commitment.”

During an ensuing House floor session, she stated. “I believe it is our job as Americans and as leaders of this body to criticize power when power is wrong,”

In the aftermath, Fukumoto is considering joining the Democratic Party. Conscious of her responsibility to those who voted for her, she has contacted her constituents in order to hear their input and opinions.

“In the last couple years, I’ve watched leaders in the Republican Party become less and less tolerant of diverse opinions and dissenting voices,” Fukumoto said today in a news release. “Today, I’m facing demands for my resignation from leadership and possible censure because I raised concerns about our President’s treatment of women and minorities. I’ve been asked by both my party and my caucus to commit to not criticizing the president for the remainder of his term and to take a more partisan approach to working in the Legislature. That is not a commitment I can make. As a representative of my community, it is my job to hold leaders accountable and to work with anyone, regardless of party, to make Hawaii a better place for our families.”

“This morning, I sent a letter to my district explaining that I would like to leave the Republican Party and seek membership in the Democratic Party,” Fukumoto said. “When I was re-elected in November, I was elected as a Republican, and I want to honor my community’s choice by consulting them before any decision is made. As I articulated in my letter, I encourage my constituents to contact me with input and provide feedback. I was elected by the people of Mililani, and I am here to represent them.”

Predictably, Republican leaders resent Fukumoto’s putting morals above Party loyalty.  Hawaii Republican Party Chair Fritz Rohlfing demanded that if Fukumoto chooses to leave the party three months after being re-elected as a Republican, she must immediately resign from her seat entirely so the GOP could have time to propose replacements to Gov. David Ige.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/hawaii-republican-leader-vocal-trump-opposition-ready-leave-gop-n716071?cid=sm_fb

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Commentary

I Don’t Care. I’m With Hope.

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Lots of schadenfreude in the op ed pages and comment sections since Hope Solo, bitter and disappointed in Team USA’s unexpected loss to Sweden in the Olympics, stepped in it on the world stage. Facing the athletically superior Americans, Sweden used a strategy of slow down and keep-away to maintain a slim lead, and hung on to win. After the game, Solo, the American goalkeeper, frustrated and heartbroken, lashed out, calling the Swedes “a bunch of cowards” for their tactical unwillingness to engage the Americans straight up.

To be clear, Solo shouldn’t have done that. It not only reflected poorly on her and on the team, but it gave the Sweden’s snarky coach (who once upon a time coached the American team, and knew them well) on opportunity to gloat.

The recriminations against the larger-than-life Solo, who has been no stranger to controversy, were as swift and merciless as they were gleeful. Writing in the Washington Post, columnist Sally Jenkins wrote against Solo as if gunning for some sort of personal retribution, her petty screed so tangible I swear I could see the ink running where here spittle-flying assault speckled the text. I had no idea so many people hated a woman who has, by her own admissions, has had some troubled moments and suffered from some serious lapses in judgement off the field, while possibly being the all-time best American to ever play.

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Today, it was reported that Solo has had her contract cancelled as well as receiving a 6-month suspension from the national team. I expected Solo to face discipline, but I’m not sure that stripping one the great athletes of her generation of her livelihood in the waning years of her career is commensurate to her transgression.

The thing that I keep coming back to is that Solo’s remarks–and once again I’ll tell you that she was wrong to make them–were made in the moments following a devastating and unexpected loss. I couldn’t help but think of the press pillorying Cam Newton after the most recent Super Bowl when the player seemed withdrawn and unemotional after his gut-wrenching loss. I thought at the time: do you  want the guy who seems utterly destroyed by a super bowl loss on your team, or the guy who is glibly yakking it up with the media, smiling and barking “we’ll get ’em next year” platitudes? I’ll take the destroyed guy every time, the guy who is aching.

It is no different with Hope Solo. I want the players who are broken up or, yes, mad as hell, about losing. I don’t want sheep. I want lions, and whatever Hope Solo may be she is, first and foremost, a lion.

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sheer awesomeness

The Black Swallow of Death

I know, you’ve missed me–I’ve been buried in real-world work again–but I’m swimming towards the surface.  In the meantime, here’s a transcript, with some additions, from a Facebook post that’s making the rounds–a story too fascinating, exciting, and (sadly) unsurprising to not share with you.

Eugene_Jacques_Bullard,_first_African_American_combat_pilot_in_uniform,_First_World_War Do you know who this is a photo of? Chances are you don’t, but don’t feel bad because probably not one American in one million does, and that is a National tragedy. His name is Eugene Jacques Bullard, and he is the first African-American fighter pilot in history. But he is also much more then that: He’s also a national hero, and his story is so incredible that I bet if you wrote a movie script based on it Hollywood would reject it as being too far-fetched.

Bullard was an expat living in France, and when World War 1 broke out he joined the French Infantry. He was seriously wounded, and France awarded him the Croix de Guerre and Medaille Militaire. In 1916 he joined the French air service and he first trained as a gunner but later he trained as a pilot. When American pilots volunteered to help France and formed the famous Lafayette Escadrille, he asked to join but by the time he became a qualified pilot they were no longer accepting new recruits, so he joined the Lafayette Flying Corps instead. He served with French flying units and he completed 20 combat missions.

Eugene Jacques Bullard. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Eugene Jacques Bullard. (U.S. Air Force photo)

When the United States finally joined the war, Bullard was the only member of the Escadrille or the French Flying Corps who was NOT invited to join the US Air Service. The reason? At that time the Air Service only accepted white men.

Now here is the part that almost sounds like a sequel to ‘Casablanca’: After WWI Bullard became a jazz musician in Paris and he eventually owned a nightclub called ‘L’Escadrille’. When the Germans invaded France and conquered it in WW2, his Club, and Bullard, became hugely popular with German officers, but what they DIDN’T know was that Bullard, who spoke fluent German, was actually working for the Free French as a spy. He eventually joined a French infantry unit, but he was badly wounded and had to leave the service.

Bullard became known as "The Black Swallow of Death," a pretty awesome nickname by any accounting.
Bullard became known as “The Black Swallow of Death,” a pretty awesome nickname by any accounting.

By the end of the war, Bullard had become a national hero in France, but he later moved back to the U.S. where he was of course completely unknown. Practically no one in the United States was aware of it when, in 1959, the French government named him a national Chevalier, or Knight.

In 1960, the President of France, Charles DeGaulle, paid a state visit to the United States and when he arrived he said that one of the first things he wanted to do was to meet Bullard. That sent the White House staff scrambling because most of them, of course, had never even heard of him. They finally located him in New York City, and DeGaulle traveled there to meet him personally. At the time, Eugene Bullard was working as … An elevator operator.

Not long after Eugene Bullard met with the President of France, he passed away, and today very, very few Americans, and especially African-Americans, even know who he is. But, now YOU do, don’t you? And I hope you’ll be able to find opportunities to tell other people about this great American hero that probably only 1 American in 1 Million has ever heard of.

Postscript: It’s worth noting that I also discovered this photo of Bullard being beaten by police in the famous anti-black, anti-communist, anti-Semitic Peekskill Riots of 1949. God bless America–the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Peekskill--Eugene Bullard attacked

515f1qwGj6L._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_The italicized text above arrived in my hands attributed to someone named Terry Dunn, via Facebook. I’m unsure of its provenance.

A more complete biography of Corporal Bullard appears here.
His wikipedia page is here.  (link repaired)

And there is even a book. It is amazing how much there is that we don’t know.

 

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A Snowy Sunday Morning

Before you read further and get all indignant, let me remind you I’m a big fan of Jesus–my upbringing in the bosom of the Methodist Church formed the framework for much of my morality–and, of course, my cynicism, my expectations of inevitable hypocracy and, ironically enough, my deeply sentimental conviction that there is good in the world (maybe not a lot, maybe not enough, but enough to be foolishly hopeful.)  The thing I would have liked to hear more about in church was Badass Jesus, Defiant Jesus, Superhero Jesus, Jesus tearing up the temple and putting the crooks on their asses, Jesus the Original Left-Wing Troublemaker,balage_jesus_and_the_money_changers-t1 Jesus sticking it to The Man, Jesus fighting the system like Robin Hood, like the Dukes of Hazard and, ultimately, Jesus taking a metaphorical bullet for talking too much and shaking up the power class, like Bobby Kennedy, MLK, Malcolm X. I’m pretty sure Jesus would have been a cool guy to sit down with, have a beer, and talk about those crazy Occupy kids and our favorite episode of My Name Is Earl–I mean, Jesus was a tradesman, at the end of the day, a carpenter. And a guy like that, you can bet he had a sense of humor.