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Spilled Milk: Homo’s Odyssey

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This post is the fourth in a series of Spilled Milk columns by Emmy Award-winning writer and producer William Lucas Walker that chronicle his journey through parenthood. Spilled Milk, which originates in The Huffington Post, appears on these pages every Saturday.


Not too long ago, our little clan took a road trip from Los Angeles to Portland, Ore. Road trips are one of those mysterious things families feel compelled to do but no one knows why, like camping in the Mojave Desert or supporting the career of Miley Cyrus. I predict in the end it won’t be gay marriage that brings about the destruction of the American family. It will be the road trip.

After getting the kids settled into the back seat of our Honda Odyssey with their DVD players and movies, we hit the freeway. Once out of L.A., I was finally able to sit back, pop open my laptop, and begin jotting down a few ideas for this column. That’s when Kelly woke from his nap and grabbed the steering wheel from me, babbling some nonsense about “safety” and not using my computer while driving. So we switched seats.

Relocated to the passenger side, “safely,” I narrowed my list of possible topics to two: “Surviving Your Child’s K-Mart Taste” and “Parents I Hate.” Then suddenly — at 70 miles per hour — the transmission on our car blew out. And a column was born.

I’m an American, a proud gay American who was raised to believe that bad things don’t happen to Hondas. Yet ours has blown two transmissions in five years.

As we decelerated, the plume of smoke belching from underneath our hood began to panic my unflappable daughter. I tried to calm her as Kelly looked for a place to get off the road. “Think of it as an adventure, honey! We’re inside a fire-breathing dragon who just lost a leg!” She began to cry.

Somehow we managed to limp across four lanes of traffic to the next exit and turn down a hill into the welcoming parking lot of a visitors center that overlooked a picturesque lake. A visitors center with bathrooms and vending machines and other kids to play with. A visitors center we soon noticed had a chain-link fence around it and a propped-up sign gloating, “Closed for Renovations.”

“Look, an abandoned castle!” I tried, failing.

We called AAA Roadside Assistance and waited. Turkeys cook faster. An hour and 40 minutes passed as my iPod faded from Gaga to gone and the sun sank deep into the lake. The battery on our cell phone now dead, our world turned pitch black and eerie quiet.

When our Triple-A savior finally arrived on the scene, I could have jumped for joy. Instead, I froze. The white knight who showed up for our rescue turned out to be a physical composite of every high school bully I ever suffered: a tattooed skinhead-type, complete with soul-deadening stare and missing front tooth.

I hesitantly approached the massive flatbed tow truck idling before me and handed up my membership card through the cab window. Barely looking up, he grunted, “You know we only tow free for seven miles. After that it’s 10 bucks a mile. You got about 15 miles to the next town.” I asked if he could fit a family of four in his cab. His shrug said he’d manage.

After finishing his paperwork in silence, he finally lumbered down from his cab and stopped, getting his first, long look at my family. He stared at Kelly, then at me, then at our kids, finally speaking in the slow, guttural tones of a wife beater:

“These kids y’all’s?”

We answered that yes, they were.

Traveling as a two-dad family can have its challenges. Twice a year we visit my parents in South Carolina, a state so welcoming that its constitution bans not only same-sex marriage and civil unions but birth control and bagels. On its face, California might seem an improvement, until you find yourself stranded in the dark off I-5 in one of those counties where Prop 8 passed with 98 percent of the vote.

This man, whom I had now cast as the bastard love child of Ned Beatty and his horny hillbilly in the sequel to Deliverance, stared at us for what seemed a heart-thumping forever. Then he moved off. He spent the next few minutes hauling out huge, heavy chains with giant metal hooks. In my mind I pictured him encircling them around Kelly and me after he’d shot us, to more easily sink us to the bottom of that all-too-convenient lake.

After attaching the giant hooks to our Odyssey — of course, to complete our family portrait and ensure our suspect status, we were two men driving a minivan — he moved to the side of his flatbed and began pulling mysterious levers that caused his vehicle to groan as it slowly tipped its flatbed to meet our homosexual automobile.

This was too much for our youngest, James, a boy so Bam-Bam butch that for years we’ve referred to him as God’s joke on the gay daddies. By now he truly was jacked up by the adventure of it all. Biologically drawn to the smell of metal and grease like a moth to a blowtorch, James pushed forward and started peppering our AAA guy with questions: “Is our car dead?” “Do you have a bathroom in your truck?” “Who knocked out your tooth? Was it Batman?”

At this point Kelly intervened: “James, stay back so he can do his work.” Mr. Triple-A stopped what he was doing and looked at us. “His name’s James? I got a boy named James.” He had six kids, he informed us, all named after famous people in the Bible. Of course you do, I thought. A home movie began unspooling in my mind, starring a toddler Moses and barefoot Bathsheba helping their brother Goliath blow up frogs by sticking firecrackers up their butts.

Then he did something unexpected, something… perfect. This man whose menacing silence and sidelong glances had me rattled took off his work gloves and asked James to hold out his hands. He then began to gently pull the huge, oil-stained gloves over our son’s tiny fingers. Next he asked if James wanted to help him work the levers on the side of the flatbed so that he could haul our minivan up onto the truck. Mute with awe, James could only nod. As the chains grew taut and our car began to make its slow ascent up the ramp, James’ eyes widened to the size of the moon that had finally peeked through the clouds overhead.

Before long we were all crowded into the cab of the tow truck for the ride to the nearest town. I never would have thought it possible, but somehow the five of us fit. My family was safe. Jesse — he had a Biblical name, too — pulled out his phone and handed it to us so we could see pictures of his family. As the glow from the faces of his wife and kids lit up the inside of the truck, he looked at Kelly and me and said, “So… did you guys get married when y’all had that little window a few years back, before the Prop 8 thing?”

We said that we did. “That’s good,” he said. “My mom did, too,” he said. “She called up me and my brother and sister and told us, ‘Me and Maggie’s gonna have a wedding. You got a week and a half to figure out a way to get here.'”

From there on out, this man I was so sure I had pegged continued to upend my preconceived notions. When he learned we live in Hollywood, he told us that as a teenager he’d been bused in from the suburbs, commuting 20 hours a week to attend the Hollywood High magnet program in theater arts. Theater arts?

“Yep, it was great. For P.E. we took dance. Spent English readin’ Shakespeare. Instead of shop, we built sets for musicals. I loved it.”

He never charged us the $80 he should have for the extra mileage. Instead, he directed us to the one motel in that truck-stop town that had a swimming pool for the kids. Then he advised us which mechanic to see the next morning and which taco stands to avoid. And before lowering our big, gay minivan into the parking lot of the auto shop, he stopped to put his gloves on our daughter so she could work the levers this time, sending her into a spiral of rapture. After that he offered to drive us to our motel.

After we’d said our goodbyes and settled into our room, we made sure to sit the kids down and tell them how lucky our family had been that Jesse was the one sent to help us. Being kids, they got it: somehow the five of us fit.

After Kelly and the kids fell asleep, I got curious and Googled the name Jesse. Turns out it’s Hebrew for “God’s gift.”

 

* * * * *

William Lucas Walker is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer whose television credits include Frasier, Will & Grace and Roseanne. He co-created the critically-acclaimed Showtime comedy The Chris Isaak Show. Bill and his husband Kelly are the parents of Elizabeth and James, born in 2001 and 2005. The children were gratified by the legal marriage of their parents in 2008, an event that rescued them from a life of ruinous bastardry.

Spilled Milk chronicles Bill’s misadventures in Daddyland. The first recurring humor column by a gay parent to appear in a mainstream American publication, Spilled Milk has regularly landed on the front page of The Huffington Post.

Follow William Lucas Walker on Twitter: @WmLucasWalker, @SpilledMilkWLW or Facebook: “Spilled Milk” by William Lucas Walker.       

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OPINION

SCOTUS Justices Appear to Want to Toss Obstruction Charges Against Some J6 Defendants: Experts

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Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court appeared skeptical of a law used to prosecute over 300 January 6 defendants, and Donald Trump, as they heard oral arguments Tuesday.

“A decision rejecting the government’s interpretation of the law could not only disrupt those prosecutions but also eliminate two of the federal charges against former President Donald J. Trump in the case accusing him of plotting to subvert the 2020 election,” The New York Times reports.

“January 6 insurrectionists had a great day in the Supreme Court today,” Vox‘s Ian Millhiser reported. “Most of the justices seem to want to make it harder to prosecute January 6 rioters.”

Millhiser on social media put it this way: “On Monday, the Supreme Court effectively eliminated the right to hold a Black Lives Matter protest in three US states. On Tuesday, the same justices were very, very afraid that January 6 insurrectionists are being treated unfairly.”

READ MORE: ‘Scared to Death’: GOP Ex-Congressman Brings Hammer Down on ‘Weak’ Trump

Right-wing justices on the Supreme Court suggested the law, which makes it a crime to obstruct an official proceeding, could be used too broadly.

“Would a sit-in that disrupts a trial or access to a federal courthouse qualify?” Justice Neil Gorsuch asked, as NBC News reported. “Would a heckler in today’s audience qualify, or at the State of the Union address? Would pulling a fire alarm before a vote, qualify for 20 years in federal prison?”

Some legal experts appeared stunned and disappointed by the right-wing justices’ remarks.

“In oral argument today, Justice [Clarence] Thomas is minimizing the severity of the 1/6 insurrection at the Capitol. Perhaps that’s because his wife was part of the conspiracy. What a disgrace that he’s sitting on this case,” attorney and frequent CNN guest Jeffrey Toobin commented.

READ MORE: ‘I Have a Bucket of Water’: Dems to Save Johnson’s Job Over GOPer Who Wants ‘World to Burn

“The text of the obstruction law the Supreme Court is considering today pretty clearly applies to January 6 defendants. Will the purportedly textualist conservative majority, as in Trump v. Anderson, once again bypass text to avoid accountability for Trump and his supporters?” asked former federal corruption prosecutor Noah Bookbinder, who is now president of the government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

“Supreme Court expressed concern that Jan 6 prosecutions could chill violent insurrections against democracy,” wrote Scott Shapiro, a Yale Law School professor of law and professor of philosophy.

Elie Mystal, The Nation’s justice correspondent, did not hold back.

“The six conservative justices are absolutely trying to figure out how to throw out the obstruction charges against their cousins and wives and pledge brothers who attacked the Capitol on January 6,” he wrote.

Similar to Millhiser’s comparison, Mystal remarked, “If you think that trash you just heard from the Supreme Court about protecting J6 rioters will *ever* be applied to peaceful Black protesters, think again.”

READ MORE: ‘Something’s Fishy Here’: Trump’s Latest $175 Million Bond Filings Questioned by Experts

 

Image via Shutterstock

 

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‘I Have a Bucket of Water’: Dems to Save Johnson’s Job Over GOPer Who Wants ‘World to Burn’

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Mike Johnson can count on at least some Democrats to save his job after a second Republican announced he supports U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene‘s efforts to remove the embattled GOP Speaker of the House. Weeks ago Greene filed a motion to “vacate the chair,” which she can call up at any time to force a vote that could lead to Johnson losing his gavel.

“I just told Mike Johnson in conference that I’m cosponsoring the Motion to Vacate,” U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) declared late Tuesday morning. “He should pre-announce his resignation (as Boehner did), so we can pick a new Speaker without ever being without a GOP Speaker.”

“You’re not going to be the speaker much longer,” Massie directly told Speaker Johnson, Politico reports, citing two lawmakers in the room.

Asked by a social media user, “What was the straw that broke the Camel’s Back? FISA? Foreign War Funding? Spending more than Nancy Pelosi? All of the above?” Massie replied: “All of the above. This camel has a pallet of bricks.”

Like many far-right House Republicans, Massie is furious Speaker Johnson plans to put on the floor foreign aid and national security legislation to support Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan this week, only after Iran’s attack on Israel over the weekend forced his hand.

“Friday, we have one less Republican in the majority as Rep Gallagher leaves instead of finishing his term,” Massie wrote earlier Tuesday morning, referring to exiting U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI). “As a going away gift, Speaker Johnson plans to force the senate to take up Gallagher’s bill to ban tiktok and give Presidential power to ban websites.”

READ MORE: ‘Something’s Fishy Here’: Trump’s Latest $175 Million Bond Filings Questioned by Experts

“But still no border,” Massie lamented, referring to Republicans’ top priority after Donald Trump made clear he will campaign on an anti-immigrant platform and urged Republicans to block bipartisan legislation to fund additional border security.

(President Joe Biden and Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer supported the Senate’s bipartisan bill, which would have provided aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, humanitarian assistance to Gaza, and a massive increase in border security. It was killed in the Senate after Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pulled his support in response to Trump’s remarks.)

Congresswoman Greene, who was accused by U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz last week of not having enough votes to “rename a post office,” much less unseat Speaker Johnson, responded to Massie’s remarks:

“Johnson is the Deep State Speaker of the House funding the Democrat’s agenda in an omnibus, blocking warrant requirements for FISA, this week ramming through billions for Ukraine, and now this after allowing Gallagher to leave his district without representation. Can’t continue.”

She also posted Massie’s signature signing onto her Motion to Vacate.

In a show of support for Johnson, last week Donald Trump held a joint press conference with the embattled Speaker, during which both attacked immigrants and Johnson vowed legislation to ban non-citizens from voting. It is already a federal felony for non-citizens to vote.

CNN’s Manu Raju reports, “after Gallagher resigns — Johnson would almost certainly need Democrats to save his job if the motion to oust him comes up for a vote. Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz says he would save Mike Johnson’s job if MTG [Marjorie Taylor Greene] brings motion to oust him.  Others like Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi also said they would vote to save Johnson  ‘Democrats don’t even let her rename post offices, I’m not gonna let her make a motion to vacate,’ Moskowitz told me.”

Moskowitz responded, saying: “My position hasn’t changed. Massie wants the world to burn, I won’t stand by and watch. I have a bucket of water.”

READ MORE: ‘Scared to Death’: GOP Ex-Congressman Brings Hammer Down on ‘Weak’ Trump
 

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‘Something’s Fishy Here’: Trump’s Latest $175 Million Bond Filings Questioned by Experts

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Attorneys for Donald Trump waited until less than two hours before midnight Monday to file revisions to the ex-president’s $175 million bond for the judgment in his civil fraud case after New York State Attorney General Letitia James questioned the validity of his first bond. Legal experts are now questioning details of the new bond filings. Some suggest a portion of the $175 million might also currently be in use to secure other debts or obligations.

After Trump was found liable for manipulation of his net worth in the civil business fraud case and ordered to pay a $354.9 million penalty plus interest, he was required to post bond to ensure the people of the State of New York would receive $454.2 million if his appeal is unsuccessful.

“The judge said that the former president’s ‘complete lack of contrition’ bordered on pathological,” The New York Times reported two months ago.

Trump’s attorneys later declared it impossible for him to come up with a bond of that amount, and an appeals court drastically reduced the required bond amount to $175 million.

READ MORE: ‘Your Client Is a Criminal Defendant’: Judge Denies Trump Request to Skip Trial for SCOTUS

After 10 PM Monday night, ahead of the midnight deadline, attorneys for Donald Trump in court filings said the $175 million bond is secured, and is tied to a Trump account at Charles Schwab that has over $175 million in cash, CNN reports. The filing states the California company securing the bond, Knight Specialty Insurance Company (KSIC),  has administrative access to it and can pay out the $175 million if needed.

Trump’s attorneys “asked the judge to set aside the attorney general’s challenge to the bond and award him costs and fees.”

Professor of law Andrew Weissmann, a frequent MSNBC legal analyst and former Dept. of Justice official, is raising questions.

“Something’s fishy here,” he wrote late Monday night. “If Trump has $175M free and clear, why not just directly post it and not pay a fee for a surety bond? And the agreement does not give Knight a lien on the account as collateral and seems to afford Trump a two-day window to dissipate the account.”

A screenshot of a portion of the filing, posted by MSNBC’s Lisa Rubin, states, “Schwab, as custodian of the account, has acknowledged KSIC’s right to exercise control over the account within two business days of receiving notice from KSIC of KSIC’s intent to activate the control.”

Attorney and journalist Seth Abramson in a series of posts on social media claimed, “so this is looking very bad for Donald Trump. He says in his Monday night filing that the Schwab account has $175.3 million *in total*, so *if* Axos Bank is depending on that same account for a (semi-)liquid $100M in collateral on another loan, this bond filing is DOA.”

After asking, “Is Trump double-dipping?” Abramson posted more details.

NCRM has not verified those claims.

Attorney Lupe B. Luppen adds, “it took about ten seconds from opening the account security agreement to find a significant drafting error, which makes the signature page look like it belongs to a different agreement (DJT Jr’s attestation identifies the wrong secured party—a Chubb co.).”

READ MORE: ‘Scared to Death’: GOP Ex-Congressman Brings Hammer Down on ‘Weak’ Trump

Late Monday night on MSNBC Weissmann “expressed incredulity,” as Mediaite reported, saying of Trump and his bond: “It is just so remarkable. This is somebody who has been found by two juries to have defamed somebody, who has been found to have sexually assaulted somebody – the company of which has been found criminally liable for a decade-long tax conspiracy, criminally, and has been found to have committed fraud, has to post a bond of $175 million, is on trial starting today for a criminal case involving 34 felonies.”

“And he can’t find a frigging company that is registered in New York? Meaning, that they are licensed to do business here, which it appears they are not, and that has the wherewithal to pay the money because remember, the whole point is that you either have to put up the money now or you have to find a bond company that is sufficiently liquid that the plaintiff can look to that bond company if at the end of the day the judgment is affirmed.”

Attorney General Letitia James earlier had alleged KSIC, the company that secured the bond, was not registered to do so in New York. Experts questioned the language of that filing, claiming it did not require the company that secured the bond to actually pay out $175 million should Trump lose his appeal and be ordered to pay the full amount.

Calling it a “bizarre contract,” earlier this month The Daily Beast reported, “the legal document from Knight Specialty Insurance Company doesn’t actually promise it will pay the money if the former president loses his $464 million bank fraud case on appeal. Instead, it says Trump will pay, negating the whole point of an insurance company guarantee.”

READ MORE: ‘Not a Good Start’: Judge Slams Trump’s ‘Offensive’ Recusal Claims as a ‘Loose End’

 

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