Monday, September 24, 2018

Those Insufferable Old Bastards

Image result for senate judiciary committee Kavanaugh cartoons

I remember watching the Anita Hill hearings as the old white male senators, two of them the same as today, demeaned her and diminished her. Remember "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty"? They accused her and abused her. It was obvious they didn't have a clue and didn't want a clue. They were content living in their privileged male dominated world with women as wives and secretaries and waitresses, not to be trusted with the truth.

That was in 1991 and here we are again, all these decades later, and nothing has changed, not even the people.

Of course, the next year was the Year of Woman. We thought we'd made progress toward becoming a more equal society.

But by now, we know the more things change the more they stay the same. The white male patriarchy will never give up its authority willingly.

America has always had a pecking order of importance. From the very beginning, it was white elite males, then black men, then women. African-American men got the right to vote via the 15th Amendment in 1870 - not that it did them much good as they were often denied the ability to exercise their franchise.

Women were not deemed worthy to vote until 1919, almost 50 years later! And that was after marching and protesting and being beaten and being jailed and being denigrated.

Presidential politics followed the same path. Forty-three white male presidents, then one black man Many of us truly saw Barack Obama's election as a sign of hope and change but what it actually did (especially when he was followedby Donald Trump) was give the racists among us permission to come out of the closet and take off their masks.

The level of virulent hatred against Obama was shocking, even though he was a good president who'd done exactly nothing to deserve it. Michelle was treated with the same nastiness despite the grace and beauty she brought to being our First Lady.

My conservative debaters tell me he was the worst president ever but they can never explain what he did to make them feel that way. But, oddly, they knew it before he ever took office, before they knew what he would do. I can see no other explanation but racism, pure and simple.

In the following presidential election, we had our first female candidate of one of the major parties and oh, my, God, the only thing that could be worse than a black man is a woman! Hillary was immediately vilified. She was every awfulness you could imagine wrapped up in one. She was a thief, a lesbian, a murderess, a traitor. With no evidence whatsoever, the right wing was convinced that at the least, she should be "locked up" but burning at the stake would be even better.

Now the old white elites are kicking it into gear again. Brett Kavanaugh is their perfect candidate. Product of affluence, arrogance and the entitlement mentality. Schooled in ivy league educational institutions that encourage men like him to believe they are the best of the best and should be able to have it all, whether that includes women or a place on the Supreme Court. It is owed to them as a kind of divine right.

Republicans and the President himself question why it took Doctor Ford so long to tell her story but all you have to do is look at the way Anita Hill was humiliated to know why women don't speak up. And now we are going to watch the old bastards destroy Doctor Ford as well. Why didn't she come forward sooner, indeed?

I was the victim of an attempted rape when I was 15. I was told afterwards that if I got their friend in trouble, the boys in high school would make sure no one ever spoke to me again. I would be shunned as a pariah, maybe I would even be attacked physically. I was terrified and didn't open my mouth for years, until long after we'd moved from that town.

When I was the Women's Outreach Director, women felt comfortable telling me their stories because they didn't think I'd judge them. I was stunned by how prevalent sexual assault, domestic violence and incest were. Most women then felt absolutely helpless to do anything about it. Police, prosecutors, judges were all men and most of them believed crimes against women belonged in a lesser category. Many of the women ended up recanting because with no support in the legal system, they believed it was the safest action they could take.

So, these old men, who seem not to have a drop of empathy in their souls think she must be doing it for money or glory or politics. They can't believe women would put themselves through this torture for love of country, not wanting a man they see as having no honor getting a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

They don't understand it because of course, they would never have the integrity to do it. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

It's Our Democracy, Stupid

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Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign was famous for its motto: “it’s the economy, Stupid.”

In 2018, the operative mantra should be: “it’s our democracy, Stupid.” The economy is beside the point. Not that the economy is ever irrelevant but compared to the far more important question regarding whether we will let our democracy slip through our fingers after two and a half centuries, it should be by far the lesser of our concerns.

Instead, of thinking about the stock market or unemployment, our passions should be dedicated to preserving the Rule of Law, Due Process, Equal Justice, Freedom of the Press, our system of Checks and Balances and Civil Rights for all Americans.

All those elemental principles of the United States of America are in grave danger thanks to the venal narcissist we elected to the White House in conjunction with a cowardly Republican Congress that refuses to accept its responsibility for being a co-equal branch of government.

What are some of the most common words used about this administration? Unprecedented, not-normal, never done before, unheard of. We don’t have laws against much of what he does because no president ever did them before.

No, previous president ever called our FBI and Justice Department liars and thugs and a cancer on our society. No previous president ever defied our intelligence agencies in favor of his own alternate universe of unreality. No previous president ever showed such contempt for our allies and consideration for our enemies. No previous president demeaned and derided his own staff, including his attorney general. No previous president called women fat pigs and crazed dogs.

No previous president ever invited Russian representatives to the Oval Office and blatantly shared intelligence with them (intelligence we had received from the Israelis). No previous president ever ordered his intelligence agencies to give up classified information on an on-going investigation (into himself) . Just this week we learned that he has declassified information on the Russian probe and FISA court.

Even Richard Nixon bowed to the Rule of Law in the end. He didn’t say, as Trump has, that he could pardon himself, defy the courts, stop any investigation, deny a subpoena....

What has Trump accomplished except to up-end the accepted order of things? He pulled us out of the Paris Accords, an agreement every country but ours had signed onto to counter climate change. There is no alternative plan to take its place because Trump would rather listen to right-wing conspiracy theorists than scientists. He pulled us out of the Iran Nuclear Agreement with no alternative plan to take its place, an agreement most of the major nations of the world worked on for years. He’s bolixed up the North American Free Trade Agreement, which made the U.S., Canada and Mexico more prosperous for decades with nothing to take its place. He ended our cooperation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership with no comprehensive plan to take its place. He turned our immigration policies into inhumane brutality with no reform except caging children and demonizing people fleeing from violence as rapists and murderers. He’s arbitrarily ordered citizens from entire countries banned as if they were all terrorists. He doesn’t trust any men but white men and no women at all. He’s denied free trade and inserted tariffs into our economy, risking the jobs of farmers and auto workers as well as other manufacturing that depends on parts made of steel and aluminum.

He’s made us a laughingstock to the citizens of other nations by electing him but we can live through that. What the nation can’t endure is watching our democracy disappear into the feckless, reckless maw of an autocrat.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Castration Complex and Negative Choices

                                                    Image result for castration meme

Our news cycles move so fast these days that it is almost impossible to write a compact blog about one subject without missing tons of equally important issues. So this one is just a series of thoughts about what is going on in our world.

* I honestly always believed men feared castration more than death itself but now I have watched Republican male politicians and male Trump followers willingly neuter themselves for his sake. They have become Eunuchs For Trump. Very strange phenomena.

* My favorite Democratic prospects for 2020 so far are Kamala Harris and Cory Booker but even more than them, I'm excited about Michael Avenatti. I think we need someone as willing to go for the throat in the political arena as Trump himself. The difference being that Avenatti is about 100 times smarter than Trump.

* Today, as I write this, it is the 17th anniversary of 911. Since then, we've had some relatively minor cases of terrorism in comparison to the massive scale of 911 and we've had several attempted cases that were stopped before the terrorists accomplished their mission. Why is that, do you suppose? Well, I believe it is because the dedicated men and women of our intelligence agencies and FBI have worked diligently to prevent terrorist attacks in the U.S. Yes, these would be the same people your president excoriates every day as lying Nazi thugs and traitors.

* It was so satisfying to watch Barack Obama and remember with fondness when we used to have a president that was judicious, intelligent, gracious, truthful, unifying and articulate compared to the president we have now, who is none of those things.

 * As Hurricane Florence roars toward the Southeast coast of the U.S., we've got to wonder if the Trump administration is anymore prepared to deal with the aftermath than it was in Puerto Rico. Hope the White House is stocking up on paper towels.

* Once again, my former church is taking a beating on the issue of child molestation and its attendant dishonest cover ups. It is not natural for human beings to be celibate. Even a promise to God cannot for long defy human nature.

* All our choices seem to be bad ones. Brett Kavanaugh, for instance. Should he be confirmed? No. No Judge who was found to have lied in previous confirmation hearings should be put on the Supreme Court. But are we under any illusions that the next one nominated would be any better?

Trump. Should he be impeached. There is certainly more than enough evidence that he not worthy to be president but then we'd end up with Pence, who, as a radically right religionist, would be every bit as bad in his own way.

Only answer to all this - vote, vote, vote! Blue!!!.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Reader Alert - Rant


Reader Alert - Rant - if you don't like that kind of thing, you might want to click off now.

Someone on another blog told me they admired me because I didn't have pity parties for myself but that isn't strictly true. Sometimes, I feel sorry for myself and that is the case right now.

I have had my checking account at First Merchant's Bank since long before they were First Merchant's. I never was one of their most affluent customers but for the most part, I think I was solid and played by the rules.

That all changed when I got sick and had to retire. My new financial strategy turned out to be of the "borrow off Peter to pay Paul" variety. That became even more so when I got Salmonella and thought I might be dying. I was so sick I couldn't summon the energy to care about anything.

I overdrew my checking account and that turns out to be a vicious cycle. When your social security check comes in, the bank takes their overdraft fees first which leaves you even less money to pay your bills. It is rather like borrowing from one of the check-cashing places. You borrow, have to pay them back, aren't left with enough to pay your bills and have to borrow again at extremely high interest rates. (I've never actually gotten money from one of them).

I never whined or complained about any of this. I usually just take my lumps when I deserve them. I certainly understand that banks can't allow customers to be overdrawn every month and that there is a price to pay for that. They have their rules after all.

But then my cousin sent me $1,000 to get my finances caught up. It was to get current with the bank and pay some things I needed to pay. I was so grateful and relieved - back in the black!

The clerk took my check, entered it in their system, then came back and told me they've have to put a seven working day hold on it because my account was overdrawn although much of the money was to go to become NOT overdrawn.

First, there is no such thing as a 7 working day hold because no matter when you deposit, you will run into a weekend which makes it 9 days. In my case, with the Labor Day holiday, it turned out to be 13 days.

"You're telling me in this era of modern day electronic communications, when Amazon can tell me if my payment went through in 30 seconds, it takes you 13 days to process a check? What, are you still using the Pony Express?"

She shrugged and said, "those are our rules?"

I asked, "and will you be charging me overdraft fees for every day that you have my check on hold?"

She shrugged. "Those are our rules."

I waited. By the time, my check was deposited, I still had $329 left out of my $1,000 but I was current with the bank.

I went down to First Merchants and asked to speak to a manager but none were available. I spoke to the same clerk that had taken my check. She said she was the "Acting Manager" when no managers were there.

"Do you have any authority?"

"I'm the Acting Manager. I'm sure I can help you."

"And you want to do this right here at the counter instead of taking me into a private room?" (The bank was pretty busy). She shrugged.

"Okay, then," I said and launched into my story (which, of course she already knew) but the rest of the curious customers didn't. I didn't bother to keep my voice down.

"I think if you put an asterisk beside my check, you should have also put a hold on overdraft fees and then forgive them when the check clears."

She shrugged, "those are our rules."

"And in my opinion, your rules are simply a scam to get undeserved money out of your customers."

She shrugged and said, "I'll talk to my manager when she gets back and someone will respond.

(This wasn't the whole conversation but you get the gist.)

Nothing I could do at that point except leave.

A couple of hours later, the manager called.

"I'm calling to inform you there is nothing we can do to rescind your overdraft fees," she said shortly, "is there anything else I can do to help you"

"Anything else? You haven't done anything to help me yet."

My cousin was also furious from his end of this transaction. He called his bank.  His check cleared his bank on August 23. First Merchant's didn't credit my account until September 4 while the fees continued to add up.

I think it is legalized thievery and it stinks.

So, there - I feel sorry for myself. If you read this, you can decide for yourself if I'm a whiner or if I have a valid point.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

But I Loooooove Him!


We used to have women come into the jail with broken bones and black eyes to leave money in their batterer's commissary account. If you questioned them about it, they said, "but I looove him." He could have busted her nose or thrown her children down the stairs but still, she loved him. I've said it before but I believe it even more strongly as time passes - Trump groupies are like victims of Domestic Violence. Nothing can change their love of that man.

During the course of my career, I went to many Domestic Violence conferences in which we were advised to be patient, to be non-judgmental, to continue to help even if it was the fifth time you'd tken her to a shelter.

I never did understand the pathology of loving someone who mistreats you over and over. In time, my patience, non-judgmentalism, willingness to help burned completely out (especially when children were involved) and I gave up my position as Women's Advocate.

When they broke the inviolate rule of revealing the location of the safe house, calling him to come get her, so anxious to get back to him so that I had to take her farther away each time she called me. When she felt no remorse about asking me to risk my own life, fleeing to safety and wondering if a man with a sawed off shotgun was following me. They may be soybean farmers, lobstermen, nail makers or Harley Davidson employees at risk of losing their incomes thanks to Trump's trade war idiocy but they looooove him.

They can be women who shrug off being called fat pigs and liars and crazed dogs. They laugh when Trump says that they'll tolerate anything from a celebrity, including being grabbed by the pussy - ha!ha! They still proudly wear their Women for Trump teeshirts.

They can be black Uncle Tom ministers who kiss the butt of a president who has not one African American working in the West Wing of his White House.

They think climate change is a farce and the Russian probe is a witch hunt because he says so despite a mountain of evidence that has accumulated to prove otherwise in both cases
.. They believe he is draining the swamp even though more of his staff and supporters have left his employ or been charged or convicted of ethics violations than any other president.

If he does it, it must be good - breaking up families and locking children in baby prisons. Hey, that's cool because we know all Muslims are terrorists and all Mexicans are rapists and murderers and all Haitians have AIDS and all Africans come from shithole nations.

Meanwhile, he adores Nazis, dictators and White Nationalists. Real Americans are white

They cheer at his lies and his cruelty and his corruption and his many conflicts of interest.

Our battered women would call the police to rescue them in the desperation of the moment, then swear that the officers  coerced them to say he'd beaten her when she'd really fallen down the stairs. When reminded that lying to the authorities was perjury, she'd take the  blame herself in an attempt to get the prosecutor to withdraw the charges against him.

I think Trump supporters would do the same....because they looooove him.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Examples of Strength and Weakness


John McCain has died. He was the last of his breed. Brave, honorable, outspoken, unbiased about his friends. Although I often didn't agree with him politically, I admired him immensely. I don't have to agree with my leaders to honor them. All I expect from my political representatives is integrity. It is in short supply these days.

Most of the vicious criticism of John McCain I've heard has come from conservative Republicans. They've called him a traitor and a collaborator, despite being tortured in Vietnam for five years. He could have left because he was the son of an admiral but he refused to go without his men. He suffered beatings, broken bones, starvation, isolation. But, yet, the right wing can find no mercy in their hearts even in his death. A few weeks ago, Trump refused to say his name though the Defense Bill he was signing was named for McCain. What a petty, weak little man your president is compared to McCain.

When did the Republicans get so mean? They didn't used to be decades ago. They were just a slightly different version of us - a little more hawkish, a little more frugal, but we cared about the same things. Nixon signed the EPA into law. George the Elder signed the Americans With Disabilities Act. Both the Bushes were pro immigration reform. Reagan signed a gun control bill. We all cared about American children getting a good start in life and having enough to eat. We all wanted our representatives to set aside politics and work together to solve the county's problems.

These were the Republicans I knew when I was young.

And then they changed. They became the party of winning at all costs. They became the party of the smear. They became the party that put politics ahead of patriotism. They impeached Bill Clinton because "character counts" but their behavior of today proves that was a hypocrite's lie. They swift-boated John Kerry, a man who spent his life serving his country. It was sad and ugly to watch. They have always had a scorched earth policy toward Hillary, accusing her of the most lunatic conspiracy theories, from being responsible for myriad murders to being a lesbian to operating a children porn ring in a pizza parlor to embezzling million of dollars through the Clinton Foundation, a social service charity with an A rating. The viciousness of the way they treated the Obamas was despicable - Obama as a witch doctor, Michelle as a bull dog. Michelle accused of being a transvestite. Obama was accused of being a non-American Muslim (and, of course, these malicious theories were helped along by the self-righteous Mr Trump).

The Republicans have become the party of not giving a damn if babies are taken from their mothers and locked up in cages. They are the party of giving gigantic tax breaks to the rich while defunding programs for the poor (although they totally disregard the deficit these days. They are the party of white nationalists and Nazis and wanting to pitch anyone who isn't white out of "their" country. They are the party of calling teens who are devastated by a school shooting, skinhead lesbians and professional actors and no-nothing children. They are the party of censorship wanting The View taken off the air because it offends them.

And, my goodness, it doesn't take much to offend them. Obama wearing a tan suit and Michelle wearing a sleeveless dress is like a knife through their self-pitying hearts. They are professional victims. Even their Christian base, supposedly the religion of peace and kindness and Jesus, has turned cruel. Instead of 40 pieces of silver, they sold their souls for a couple of Supreme Court justices.

If meanness is weakness, the right wing is one of the weakest groups of people we've ever had in America.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Of Such Things Are Dictatorships Created


Here's what I don't understand about rabid Trump supporters - they have done a 180 on their views about government and politics since Trump took over from Obama. It's as if they are not even the same people they were before the election.

Honestly, you can go back and read my blogs for years and except for some minor changes of mind, my views have remained the same - from Kennedy on - no matter who was in the White House. I hated the Vietnam War and I hated the Iraq War. I've been on the side of civil liberties, whether for minorities, women or gays. I've been pro-choice since I was a teenager and its anti-women stance on so many issues is the main reason I left the Catholic Church long ago. I lean toward helping the vulnerable and I never minded paying taxes to do it. I think government needs to be regulated because when it's not, the power people have all the power and working people and the poor get screwed, i.e. Betsy DeVos' yacht which she sails under the flag of a foreign country to avoid American taxes even as she makes it more difficult for lower and middle-class American kids to receive a genuine college education without an intolerable burden of debt. Yes, I'm for conferring citizenship on DACA kids and people who have lived here for a long time, worked hard and have no criminal background, especially those who joined the military to fight for their country. Trump believes not standing for the national anthem is a dishonor to our vets. I say kicking out vets who've served is a dishonor to our country. The environment has always been one of my issues. Now Trump is considering allowing states to make their own rules about coal emissions, as if pollutants respect state lines. Keep that coal dust and pollution in West Virginia, please! The Trump administration's entire attitude is: "fuck science".

I have friends with whom I debate politics and I've been stunned by their ability to turn on a dime. They would have been horrified (at least, faux-horrified) if Obama and done and said the things Trump has done and said.

Now, they believe, in fact, that the president (this particular president at least), is above the law. He can deny clearances without the due process that is in place for that procedure. He can fire any investigator investigating him. He is incapable of obstructing justice. He cannot be indicted. He can pardon anyone without explanation. He can issue executive orders, some against the express wishes of Congress. Would the right have agreed with all these stances when Obama was president? Hell, no, they wouldn't! Trump thinks Omarosa should be arrested though he cannot articulate a crime she committed. He can express his opinion about any court proceeding without regard to how it might affect the outcome. He can call the press the "enemy of the people". He can engage in trying to effect the profit and loss of private business (such as threatening to raise postal rates on Amazon because Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post, which has been critical of him. The right no longer believe the deficit is a problem. Spend away, Trump! They evidently no longer believe in "limited government" the way they used to say they did either. Being pro-states right is a thing of the past for them. Trump and Trump alone shall decide if coastal drilling should be allowed off all our coastlines (except Florida, of course).

That's if how Trump rolls. All decisions are his. His advisors are just so many puppets whom he ignores if their advice doesn't suit him. Trump against our entire intelligence community. Why we must believe Trump, naturally.

He has undermined every institution of our democracy - the FBI, the CIA, the entire Justice system, all our intelligence specialists, the EPA, the Center for Disease control, our entire environmental system, the free press, even the military although they don't seem to recognize it. One by one, the people we used to trust most are toppling. The Trump cult seems to hate America, except for Trump himself. They are convinced the Deep State is trying to take him down when, actually, he is trying to take our democratic government down. They say he will make America great again but they never say when that wonderful time was when America was great and when it quit being great.

Most of their attitudes revolve around hate - hate for minorities (which is what primarily dominates their views on immigration), hate for liberals, even moderates. You must be in ALL THE WAY! You must parrot every word Trump says or you are unworthy to be an American in their eyes.

Of such stuff are dictatorships made. Trump is overseeing the dismantling of our way of life and governance. Is hatred of the "other" enough excuse to give away your country?