Friday, November 25, 2016

Why Did They Vote For Him?

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Ah, how the media loves to engage in post-mortems after elections, especially the ones that didn't turn out the way they prophesied. One theory is that Democrats had simply lost touch with the white rural working class in middle America. I call bullshit on that. I live in the heart of white rural working class America. Most of these Trump voters didn't have a clue themselves why they voted for Donald Trump. I know because I asked them.

Some mentioned that they liked him because he wasn't beholden to billionaire donors. But, of course, now that his cabinet is beginning to take shape, we see that so far, they are all billionaire donors. They are the very same lobbyists and bankers and politicians we thought we hated so much.

Meanwhile, Hillary had policies that actually would have helped the white rural working class but the media didn't want to talk about policies. They wanted to talk about e-mails. And, evidently, the voters here in Indiana where I live didn't want to talk about policies either. They didn't care about raising the minimum wage or a program that would assist them to afford college for their kids or equal pay for equal work or improving, not repealing, Obamacare. Instead, they thrilled to the sounds of "Lock Her Up!" and "Build That Wall!", like those things would have any impact on their lives whatsoever.

They loved when Donald talked dirty to them. The very same Republicans and Evangelicals who were in such high dudgeon about Bill Clinton's moral failings that they impeached him, no longer care about such minor failings as adultery and serial wives and "grab her by the pussy."

I guess they just think that's all part of being a great leader and a manly man, like Vladimir Putin, who has become one of their heroes since Trump likes him so much. Does it bother them that a foreign government hacked American systems in an effort to manipulate our elections? Does it bother them that the supposedly-neutral F.B.I. put it finger on the scales of an election in an attempt to influence the outcome? Does it bother them that much of what they read about Hillary on Facebook were flat-out lies deliberately put out by fake websites? Nope and nope and nope. They'll take their dirt wherever they can get it. Of course, listen to them scream bloody murder if it ever happens to them.

So far, Trump's choices have been disasters. Seriously, a woman who has never attended a public school, who never sent her children to public schools, whose tried to filter money from public to religious schools, is our new Secretary of Education? Tom Pompeo, a man so caught up in Hillary hate that he refused to accept the outcome even when the 7th investigation on Benghazi found no deliberate wrong-doing on her part, as the C.I.A. director? Jeff Sessions, as attorney general - a man who has about as much interest in racial healing as Jesse Helms? General Flynn, a right-leaning Muslim hater, as National Security Advisor? A climate change denier leading the EPA? I actually like Nikki Haley but she has no experience whatsoever in foreign policy. which makes exactly like her new fellow cabinet members and indeed, like our president and vice-president elect themselves.

It's as if we just handed the reins of power to a bunch of 4th graders out of curiosity to see what would happen. "Just wing it," we've told them, "how could you do worse than those who came before you?" The answer to that is: they could be lots, lots worse.

Trump already seems to be backing down on many of his promises but who can trust him? The kinder, gentler rhetoric doesn't match with the people he's put in place so which ones are the lies and which is the truth? With the Donald it is impossible to tell. Is he going to try to lock up Hillary? Is he going to build a wall? Is he going to initiate a Muslim registry? Is he going to start deporting illegal immigrants? We don't really know.

Meanwhile, it looks like the gravy train that is the presidency will be flowing directly into the coffers of Trump Enterprises. He says he "can't" have a conflict of interest so his kids sit in on meetings with heads of state one day and meet with business people from foreign countries the next. Both Trump and the Argentinian president denied that Donald asked for a favor but low and behold, a couple of days later, his long-held-up plan for a luxury hotel in Buenos Aires was approved. Trump has already let it be known that he'd "appreciate" it if dignitaries with business at the White House would stay at his Old Post Office Hotel (the luxury suites, if you please). And we just learned today that the U.S. Secret Service will be renting two floors of Trump Tower to the direct benefit of landlord Trump. I didn't hear how much the cost of two floors of Trump Tower rents for but I expect it is quite expensive, don't you?

And while the Trump Traveling Medicine Show keeps us all entertained, the congressional Republicans are trying to figure out how to "reform" entitlements and if you're one of the white rural working class Trump voters (or even if you're not), you might want to figure on working a few years longer before Medicare kicks in and hoping you can find health insurance for the amount of the voucher they allot you. And if you're young, you'll most likely see Social Security privatized altogether. We gave the Republicans complete control and I'm sure they'll take full advantage of it.

A good friend of mine, who is gay, voted for Trump in what seems to me the ultimate in self-destructiveness, especially considering the v.p.-elect is our very own gay-bashing governor. He says he thinks Donald will put people back to work and kick those lazy-ass welfare people off the dole. That bothers him more than anything.

So everyone had their reasons for voting for Trump though they could hardly ever articulate what those reasons actually were. One woman told me that they prayed and prayed and God answered their prayers and now we have a good Christian man in the White House. God must be pulling his hair out, hearing that. "Are you people crazy?"

So, what should the Democrats have done to reach the white rural working class if that was our problem? Did we have to be meaner? Did we have to promise to "bomb the shit out of them"? Did we have side with the WRWC against the Blacks and Latinos and Muslims? Did we have to cozy up to Putin? Did we not hate on the media enough? Should we have threatened to put our opponents in jail?

Or maybe it wasn't our fault. Maybe it was Jim Comey's fault. And maybe it was Julian Assange's fault. And maybe it was Vladimir Putin's fault. And maybe it was the fault of the fake story writers on Facebook. Maybe it was the fault of state Republicans who pulled every possible trick in the book the suppress the vote. Maybe it was the fault of gerrymandering districts for partisan benefit. Maybe it was the fault of the media for seeing Trump as a ratings bonanza rather than a serious contender for President of the United States or for covering Hillary's e-mails for 600 days in a row instead of having any policy discussions whatsoever.

Or maybe it was the fault of the voters who either couldn't, or chose not to, see through all of this.




Saturday, November 19, 2016

Handle It, Handle It.

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This is how I feel about politics today. There's no guarantee I'll continue to have this attitude but it feels pretty permanent right now. I'm 70 and I've been in the political arena for decades. I never missed voting, for candidates of both parties. I've worked the polls. I've had political jobs and had both Democrat and Republican bosses (and loved them both). I walked the streets passing out literature. I've written ads. I've endorsed candidates. I've worked in fair booths in the blazing heat of an Indiana summer. I've attended endless campaign meetings. I've donated money. I was the head of the Chamber of Commerce's legislative affairs committee and as such, I organized State of the City addresses and candidate debates and legislative breakfasts. I've worked at campaign fundraisers, making pancakes or breaded tenderloins. I've made cookies and cakes and pies for bake sales. I've run for office myself and lost. After every election, even my own, no matter how they turned out, I was instantly ready to jump back on board for the next one.

I've had my heart broken before by politics (being a mostly Democrat in Indiana will do that to you) but it never dissuaded me from fighting on. The Supreme Court-mandated election of 2000. Hillary losing to Obama in 2008. They were both painful but they were, in the end, temporary setbacks. I've never been afraid for the very soul of my country before. I didn't care for George Bush but I didn't feel he was an imminent threat to the U.S. I was glad Romney lost but I wouldn't have been terror-stricken if he had won.

Now I am. I think Donald Trump will be a completely different kind of president....and not in a good way. He doesn't play by any accepted rules or protocols for high level leaders. No one has ever threatened to put his opponent in jail before, at least in my lifetime. No one has ever admitted to sexually assaulting women in the most crude and vulgar terms. No one has ever accused the sitting president of not being an American before...and Trump held to this allegation until almost the very last. No one has ever threatened to round up and deport millions of people or to put people on a registry based on their religion or to surveil churches.  No one has ever lied with the frequency and abandon that Trump does. He lies and when he's confronted, he lies again. He denies making statements even if there is tape of him saying it and ignores the proof. (And yet Hillary was the one we didn't trust).

He's the first candidate in modern times to refuse to reveal his taxes. He's the first to refuse to put his holdings in a blind trust. He's the first to bring his children into high level briefings even though they will be the controllers of his vast business network in many foreign countries.

For instance, his newest hotel, the Old Post Office in Washington D.C., sits on land owned by the General Services Administration, which means that agency is Trump's landlord but he will control the agency through his appointee. If ever there was a direct conflict of interest, it is this one but oh, well. Does anyone think that visiting VIPs to Washington will be inclined to stay at Trump's hotel to curry favor with the president?

But even that isn't what bothers me the most. It's that a majority (of electoral college voters) knew all this and just didn't care. They preferred the fake news about Obama and Hillary. He's a Muslim. He's not a citizen. He's gay. Hillary has people killed. She deliberately refused help to the Benghazi victims. Michelle is a transvestite. Blah, blah, blah. I guess that was all more exciting than actually talking about the policies of two competing candidates. It upsets me that I have lost so much respect for people I (still) love, people I thought would have seen through Trump's bullshit.

Trump's first picks of advisors have done nothing to quell my alarm. A white nationalist (and purveyor of the stories above via Breitbart "News") will have a seat beside our new president in the White House. Jeff Sessions, Trump's choice for attorney general, who was once turned down by Republicans for a federal judgeship due to his racist tendencies will certainly not calm the fears of African Americans.  His strident calls more deportation will only drive the stress level of Latinos higher. A harsh anti-Muslim National Security Advisor like General Michael Flynn will only make American Muslims more anxious about their future. Our new C.I.A. director comes from the home district of the Koch Brothers and they are his biggest donors. The people on Trump's transition team are mostly politicians and lobbyists and bankers. His EPA guy doesn't believe in climate change. He's a fossil fuel man. So much for draining the swamp.

I will admit that it has been rather amusing to watch men like Mitt Romney and Ted Cruz grovel. I wonder if they had to kiss Trump's ring? Is there even an half an inch of backbone between the two of them? It doesn't appear so.

Yes, it pisses me off to see this same scenario play out over and over whereby the Republicans tank the economy (1928, 1989, 2008) and the Democrats have to come in and haul us back to recovery. Eight or so years later, the Republicans, who have meanwhile done every possible thing they could to keep anything positive from happening, are clamoring - "let us try trickle down again". And damned if we don't buy into it every time. You'd think we'd eventually catch on.

But I'm too old to worry about it this time.  I've done my part so it's up to the rest of you now. I'm not going to do as my President (for now) and candidate recommend. I'm not going to give the new president a chance. I doubt if Obama and Hillary really feel that way either but, unlike Trump, they do respect the courtesy and traditions of our system. But they can go ahead without me.

I'll just sit back and watch because I really think the travesty of President Trump has killed off my heart for politics. So, it's all yours, Kids. You did it. Now deal with it.






Friday, November 11, 2016

Thanks for Nothing, Female Trump Voters

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I will admit to being devastated by this election. I thought we were farther along than this but sexism, racism, bigotry and hate ruled the day.

Of course, as a woman, perhaps I'm especially focused on the sexism part of the equation. I feel betrayed by my fellow females who voted for Donald Trump even though I don't know why I should be surprised. I've known for decades that women are their own worst enemies. They are often the first to shove the shiv into a sister's back.

Sometimes I wonder if this is simply part of our genetic DNA. Have we seen men as the rulers, the protectors, the bosses for so many generations that we simply feel safer aligning ourselves with them and can't conceive of trusting women in that role? All we all part of a giant harem, fighting amongst ourselves for the favor of the sultan? Have we watched the rewards go to the women who pleased men for so long that we think it is the only way? The Melania Trumps of the world who, through beauty and subservience, gets the big kahuna and lives in the spotlight of second-hand prestige. If she were a man, we would probably look askance at her past as a porn star but as a bauble for a rich man, it is perfectly acceptable.

I bitched about this in 2008. I was for Hillary then too. The woman who worked her ass off and paid her dues. The nerdy girl who studied and got all A's and knew her stuff. But she was overtaken by the hip and handsome young man without nearly her qualifications. I followed her lead and did as she requested and supported him. And I'm glad I did. He turned out to be an excellent president.

But then comes 2016. Hillary was far above Donald Trump in every possible way. Smart, experienced, dedicated, steady. She won the money game. She won all the debates. Her convention was positive and energetic compared to his dystopian view of America, the failing basketcase. He was hateful to everyone he came in contact with - his fellow Republican candidates, Latinos, blacks, the disabled, Muslims, veterans, women themselves. Tweeting out nasty tweets all through the night.

But you Trump voters bought into all the Hillary paranoia. You thought she was a liar but he wasn't? You thought she was a cheat but he wasn't? You thought she was self-centered but he wasn't?

And in the end, you thought that no matter how bad he was, he was better than a woman and who put him over the top? A majority of white women? Is there a name for white female Uncle Toms? Well, actually the evangelicals helped too. In one of the most evil bargains of all time, they justified voting for this horrifyingly vicious man because WWJD?

How will the mothers of Trump voters explain their choice to their daughters? Will they say, "try as hard as you like, Honey, but you'll never be given the same consideration and respect as even the grossest man". He can tell us with his own mouth about how satisfying it is to be able to grab a woman by the pussy and get away with it because he's a celebrity but he's still preferable to you, Little Girl.

Once again, my president and my candidate have asked me to support him, to give him a chance. It's the American way but sorry, this time I can't, I just can't. If what I feel for Donald Trump isn't quite as strong as hate, it is at least intense disgust, it is at least total contempt.

If I was younger, I might be with the people protesting in the streets. At 70, probably all my protest will amount to is words on a computer screen. I know how ineffectual that is. Probably they will give me more relief than anyone else.

But Don the Con will get no chances from me. I'll simply sit back and watch the aftermath and poke a small stick in the spokes if I get the opportunity. I will treat him the same way the Republicans have treated Obama for the last 8 years.

The Republicans have it all so now it is up to them to do with us as they will.

Thank you, my fellow women who voted Trump, thanks a lot. I probably won't matter much to an older woman like me but I think you just made your daughter's lives much worse than they would have been under a President Clinton. I'm not sure I can ever forgive you for it.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

How Will We Ever Move On?

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This will be the last blog I write until after election day. (I think so, anyway, barring some catastrophic event, which the way things have been going, could happen.) Thank God...because I feel as if I'm running on empty when it comes to politics these days.

The fact is, I'm exhausted by it. I already voted for Hillary and now it is just a matter of waiting for it to be over. I've made a conscious decision to watch less news and spend less time on Facebook. I refuse to believe any screaming headlines I read, on either side, for the duration.  If you haven't heard enough about and from both candidates to make up your mind by now, then you are hopeless and your vote probably won't matter much one way or the other.

I'm 70 and I've never experienced an election like this one. The nastiness of all previous elections were Sunday School compared to 2016. It's been like standing out in a sludge fall until you're covered with slime and stink.

Awful accusations rain down - sexual predators and racists and White Nationalists and Klansmen and pedophile rings and rape and murder. (The latest count I saw for Hillary was 121 "suspicious deaths" attributed to her). And beyond all that, are allegations of treason and potential indictments and arrests and playing hanky pank with Vladimir Putin. And we've had to deal with charges of Russian hacking and gushers of WikiLeaks. Can we really put our faith in Russia and/or Julian Assange? I guess it all depends on who your favored candidate is. We're told our elections are "rigged" so we won't be able to trust the results even when its over.

Then at the last, the F.B.I. gets itself involved in putting its thumb on the political scale. I'm just struck dumb by this. I never especially liked James Comey. I thought he found a way to make Hillary look bad even without filing charges by having his press conference but it wasn't so obvious, he couldn't get away with it. "My integrity made me do it". Uh huh. But his cryptic letter last week to Congress regarding more e-mails on Anthony Weiner's computer was ridiculous considering he didn't really have anything enlightening to report. Now, he's exonerated her two days before the election when half the country has already voted. Thanks, a lot, Director. So much for F.B.I. neutrality.

In the meantime, Trump and Giuliani have been out running their mouths in the most reckless way imaginable with no evidence whatsoever.

It all just makes me want to hang my head for my country. I'm not sure how we'll ever get over this. We're going to left with a residue of hate for one another that will take a very long time to overcome.
















    

Monday, October 24, 2016

What Does Breitbart America Look Like?

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The longer this campaign goes on, the more of a disconnect there seems to be between the right and the left. The polls, for instance. The legit polls, at least the ones I think of as legitimate although Trumps fans believe they are rigged in Hillary's favor, all agree that she currently has a huge lead nationally. This would be the mainstream media - the main networks, the top newspapers, respected polling groups like 538, Quinnipiac, Marist, etc. - known as the lamestream media to conservatives. Yet, if you go to Breitbart and some of the other right-leaning sites, it is a completely different story. They show maps that indicate Donald Trump's total domination of the electoral college. Instead of losing or even being close in the swing states, they show Trump crushing Hillary.

And their followers believe it with all their hearts. I'm on the Hillary side but I'm still careful not to be overly complacent. I almost never predict, not just in politics but in anything else. I'm afraid I'll jinx my team so I'm cautious even when all signs point to a victory. I never cheer until the last lap or the last batter is out or the last election results are in.

Not the Trump people. They have not the tiniest hint of a doubt. Are they so enclosed in their bubble, they don't even realize the polls are so divergent? Is it a strategy on the part of the alt-right so that when Donald loses, his fans won't believe it? It is a planned tactic to cause conservative Americans to lose even what bit of faith they still have in our system? And why would anyone want to accomplish this?

And while this is going on, the allegations about Hillary become more and more fantastical. She had Antonin Scalia killed (I can't even keep track of how many deaths they think she is responsible for). She literally funded ISIS. She is going to institute Sharia law as soon as she takes all our guns. She going to jail as soon as.....well, whatever. But maybe she won't even live to be put behind bars because she has a brain tumors, Parkinson's and a host of other debilitating and/or terminal ailments. All these come in the way of breathless, screaming headlines as if they are some new revelation we haven't heard before. (BENGHAZI!!!!!) Right-wing evangelical ministers prostitute themselves by urging us to believe that God himself wants Trump to win.

The purveyors of this nonsense have to know that what they are writing isn't the truth so why do they do it? Do they want to stoke the anger that is bound to come when all these fervently-hoped-for predictions don't pan out? Will the Trump folks turn on those that lied to them or will they believe they've been screwed out of what was rightfully theirs once again? Unfortunately, my guess is the latter.

What I don't understand is what their end game is. I've always thought of myself as a Democrat-leaning moderate (although conservative friends now tell me I'm a bleeding heart, koolaid-drinking liberal). I'm in the mold of Hillary Clinton. I think we need improvements but I also believe you have to be willing to compromise to achieve progress (that's assuming your opponents will compromise with you and considering the obstruction President Obama has faced, I have my doubts about that).

So, I truly don't understand what the other side wants. I don't know what the America they see after they "take it back" looks like.






Monday, October 17, 2016

Agent Orange

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I hardly even know what to say about this election any more. I start to write about something, the last debate for instance, and before I can compose my thoughts, they are overtaken by the latest round of events.

At this point, I simply think of Donald Trump as Agent Orange, a poisonous herbicide meant to defoliate vast sections of America's entire democracy. Our system of government only works if the great majority of citizens respect it's tenets - the will of the people, the honesty of our elections, the integrity of most of its leaders, the truth of our media, the honor of our scientists, the decency of our businesses - the superiority of our system depend on the strength of these foundation posts. One by one, Donald Trump is undermining all of them.

Are there charlatans and liars and cheaters among us? Of course, we can always find those few examples but are they a small minority of the whole? Yes, I truly believe they are. I think most Americans are good people, be they democrats or republicans. I think most of our politicians try to live up to their campaign promises. I think most journalists try to write the truth. I think most businesses try to give value to their customers. I don't think our elections are rigged.

Donald Trump didn't start this. It started with Obama....or maybe even Clinton. Somehow people on the other side came to believe that if they couldn't win by voting, it was their right to win by other means - impeachment or weakening a president who gave them no cause. Claiming he was not an American or not a Christian, accusing him of treason. It was more than simple disagreement - they fed on loathing and it grew and grew. At the same time, they decided their own government was evil.

It all came to a head with Trump. The ultimate weapon against what America had always been, spraying his enraged venom in all directions, infecting millions of his fellow citizens with the virus of hate.

And win or lose, what will the aftermath be?  Land denuded by Agent Orange doesn't come back in a season. I don't think America will come back from the toxicity of Donald Trump for a long time.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Boys Will Be Boys - "Boys" Being the Key Word

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My husband was a Vietnam veteran and so were most of his closest friends. They could be, and often were, rude and crude and lewd. Those boys used all the words that Donald Trump said in his latest recording and probably some he'd never heard of. They rarely spoke a sentence that didn't contain the ever-utilitarian "f" word - noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc, etc. Sometimes, it was just there for the sake of being there. "Fuck, yes," or "fuck, no". Among their buddies, being called a cocksucker or a motherfucker was a term of endearment.

And they certainly weren't above being raging sexists, especially when they were drinking. They'd smack their lips when a pretty girl went by and say, "Jesus, I'd like to tear me off a piece of that." Or, ask, "I wonder if her pussy is as blonde as the hair on her head?" Or, moaning, "oh, Cunt, come here to Papa!" Yep, they were boorish and coarse, no getting around it.

But, here's the difference between them and Donald Trump. With them, it was all fantasy. It really was boisterous bragging, or locker room talk, if you will. They never acted on it. They had no power or glamour or celebrity to make any of those desires happen, so the only women they would ever "screw" or "fuck" or "get a piece of ass from" were those who were willing. And even then, the gross talk in front of their buddies was probably not at all the approach they would use face-to-face with a female.

And here's the second thing, most of them were in their 20's when I first knew them and not long back from war. By the time, they were in their 30's and 40's and beyond, the filthy talk had begun to abate. Most of them were married by then and had kids. I'm not saying they gave up the "f" word altogether or that they didn't still make sexual innuendos about a woman among their friends but mostly, they grew up and got over it.

The young men in this picture did what they did to support Prince Harry of England, who himself is somewhat prone to scandal, like allowing nude pictures of himself to show up in the tabloids. But Harry is young and handsome and buff and still sowing his wild oats so perhaps we can forgive him his lapses in judgment.

And you know what else? Some in Britain may disapprove but they can't do anything about it 'cause Harry is a prince. They have no choice in the matter because you don't elect a prince. Prince's don't need votes but presidential candidates do.