Saturday, December 24, 2016
What do trees have to do with Christmas? What does Jesus have to do with Christmas? What does Santa have to do with Christmas? What do presents have to do with Christmas?
The answer is: they are all part of this joyous conglomeration of rituals we celebrate as Christmas. The holiday does not belong to any one religion. It is free for everyone who wants to join in its spirit of love.
If Christ is the reason for your season, that's wonderful. Pray for your loved ones' happiness. Put up a manger scene. Go to church. But be pleased for anyone else who gets pleasure from this holiday even if their ways are not your ways. We don't all have to do it the same.
When my son was in elementary school, there was one little Jewish girl in his class (maybe the whole school). Yes, she got the holiday off. What would expect her to do? Go to school by herself? And yes, her family had a Christmas tree and she came back to school excited to tell about the presents she received.
So Ms. Christian, she may not have believed the same as you but she still entered into the loving spirit of the season. Hurray for her family.
It doesn't matter how people greet you. You're taking exactly the wrong thing from what Christmas is supposed to represent if you get offended by someone telling you Happy Holidays. Just be grateful someone cared enough to give you a wish for happiness at all. You people who complain about Happy Holidays remind me of that old saying - "he'd bitch if they hung him with a new rope."
If God is real, who do you think he will judge most harshly - the person who takes a moment to wish another Season's Greetings or the person who snarls at them in return?
So, please, let's just all appreciate Christmas in whatever way is most meaningful for us and let others do the same.
Monday, December 19, 2016
Somewhere along the line, Republicans got so caught up in their own sense of self-righteousness that they quit believing in democracy and began, instead, to believe that America belonged to them by divine right.
I think it began with Bill Clinton. Republicans were so incensed that Americans would choose someone they considered white trash from Arkansas (the very same kinds of people, ironically enough, who now make up a large part of their base) that they began to try to destroy him from Day One. The Clinton's weren't Washingtonian elites and therefore, weren't fit to live in the White House.
So Republicans obstructed and investigated and prevaricated. The list of -gates they came up with was endless - Whitewatergate and Travelgate and RoseLawFirmgate and CattleFuturesgate and, well, there were so many, I can't remember them all. And the media was complicit. They didn't like the Clintons either. The New York Times was one of the prime purveyors of breathless accusations about Whitewater, all of which proved to be nothing.
In case, you've forgotten, we had fake news back then too. Groups like Judicial Watch started the whole thing in the early days. Men like David Bosse (now part of Donald Trump's cabinet) made their careers on scurrilous allegations against the Clintons (Hillary Killed Vince Foster! The Clintons Are Involved In Drug Dealing Out Of Mena, Arkansas!) There was a whole cottage industry devoted to making life miserable (and costly) for the Clintons and their friends. Was there a "vast right-wing conspiracy"? You bet your ass there was!
And then along came Linda Tripp and Lucianne Goldberg and her son, Jonah, and poor Monica Lewinsky. And they finally had a real thing. Granted, it was a small thing - far from constituting a high crime or misdemeanor but it was enough. So they hired a special prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, with the mission to hang Clinton out to dry and that they did. It wasn't even enough to impeach him, they put every lascivious detail on the internet to further humiliate the president. Because, they so strongly believed in the "public's right to know". Uh huh.
I expect it was David Bosse who was able to get back in touch with the Clinton women to bring them to the Trump/Hillary debate since he'd been their mentor and payee during the glory years of the Clinton scandals. Once you've accused someone of murder and drug dealing, can rape be far behind?
In the meantime, just for fun, they shut down the government. That was the first time but it wouldn't be the last because everything is fair in love, war and politics, don't you know?
That whole "disagreement ends at the water's edge" philosophy American politicians used to honor went by the wayside early on. They accused Clinton of "wag the dog" when he tried to bomb Osama bin Laden (you remember bin Laden, don't you?) The right-wing media and Republican representatives were on cable news and radio calling him out constantly. Any respect they once had for the office of the presidency was gone.
So, then we had the election of 2000, in which Al Gore won the popular vote. The Republicans who now preach to Democrats to "suck it up, Buttercup" and accept Donald Trump as our president, weren't quite so accepting themselves in 2000. When the results seemed in doubt, they immediately hired every lawyer on their side who knew election and constitutional law. They fought their case all the way to the Supreme Court until that august body decided George Bush should be declared the winner. After which, in the spirit of a united country, Al Gore gave a gracious concession speech.
So, then we had 8 years of Bush and the Republicans were deficit hawks no more. They positively reveled in spending money. Dick Cheney said deficits didn't matter so they fought two wars without paying for them and they passed a new entitlement, Medicare Part D, without paying for it. And they handed out tax breaks like there was no tomorrow. And 2 + 2 still equaling 4, the deficit soared but they didn't care....until, that is, Barack Obama became president, of course, when they all became super-hawks again.
They treated Obama every bit as badly as they had Clinton, promising on the day he was inaugurated that they would stonewall everything he tried to do and then proceeded to do exactly that for 8 years. They again shut down the government. They threatened to default on our nation's bills (earning us a lowered credit rating). They walked us up to fiscal cliffs. They refused to confirm his nominees. They set new records for using the filibuster. Their contempt dripped from their voices as they called him weak and feckless. Gee, they said, wouldn't it be great to have a strong leader like Vladimir Putin? They wrote letters to our friends (Israel) and enemies (Iran) deliberately undermining their own president.
I'm sure they would have impeached him too had he given them even the slightest grounds but he didn't. He has been honest and faithful and gracious and rational through his eight years as president, as have Michelle and his daughters.
That didn't prevent them from calling him a Muslim. It didn't prevent them from declaring that he isn't an American. It didn't prevent them from yelling out "liar!" at the State of the Union address. And that's the mild stuff. If you want to hear the rest, listen to Rush or Sean or Breitbart or InfoWars. If you want to see vile renderings of the First Family, mosey around on Facebook sometime.
And in the last 8 years, they have become more overt and more bold. In the states, they've engaged in voter suppression of all kinds - demanding often difficult to obtain photo i.d., closing polling places where Democrats (read: African-Americans) are the majority so that people have to stand in long lines to exercise their franchise, taking away early voting hours. In Florida, they refused to let people hold their place in line so they could go to the bathroom.
When the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, the Republicans refused to update it. They opening laughed about the new regulations they would put in place since they were now free to do so.
And on a separate track, the Supreme Court (this was once again David Bosse's group) gave us Citizens United which declared that corporations were people and money was free speech.
In various states, Republicans have enacted undemocratic legislation to benefit themselves. In Michigan, many towns are ruled by Town Managers appointed by the government to supercede duly elected representatives. They pass bills by voice vote with the Speaker declaring the winner though it is far from obvious that their side had the votes to prevail. Republicans have had sessions on holidays or in the dead of night to work their will. They don't allow Democrat minorities to call witnesses or even sometimes to attend hearings. In Ohio, the Republicans put abortion restrictions in their budget, something that had never been done before and couldn't be repealed.
Kansas tried to remove power from its judiciary when they didn't approve what the governor wanted. In Indiana, when the citizens elected a Democratic Secretary of Education, the Republican legislation simply took away the power of that office.
The latest and most extreme example that the Republicans have given up on democracy in favor of "to the victors go the spoils" is North Carolina. The voters in that state had nerve enough to elect a Democratic governor to replace the sleazy, corrupt Pat McCrory. First, McCrory fought tooth and nail to try to declare the results invalid, alleging voter fraud and demanding recounts. (So much for "suck it up, buttercup") He finally had to give up but in the most blatant power grab in modern times, the Republicans introduced bills a) requiring Senate confirmation of the new governor's appointees (something that had never been required before), b) cutting the number of employees who report to the governor from 1,500 to only 300, c) giving themselves more power on the Board of Elections which sets the rules for balloting in North Carolina. (Republicans will be in charge on election years; Democrats will be in charge on non-election years. Clever, huh?)
So now, we come to Donald Trump, who lost the popular vote by almost 3 million. But yet, those paragons of propriety, the Republicans, caution us not to buck the system but to be good Americans and give him a chance.
I can tell you one thing - in light of what I've watched from the Republicans for the last 30 years, I'm fucking sick and tired of being a gracious loser.
Monday, December 12, 2016
I am so freaking sick and tired of hearing gutless Democrats and milk toast media people blaming Hillary for her own defeat.
One of the statements I often hear Republicans make, particularly Kellyanne Conway, political spinner par excellence, a statement that is then echoed by pundits and pols, is that Hillary didn't have a message. She just didn't reach those white disaffected unemployed workers in Middle America. She should have stuck more with "it's the economy, stupid".
Really? Were all of you so busy talking about her emails that you didn't have time to listen to her speeches or read her policy papers? Was there not enough pizazz in her talks about what she intended to do as president to deserve as much coverage as Don the Con, Mr Shoot-From-The-Hip Showman?
Because I did pay attention and I knew exactly what her message was. She wanted to make college more affordable for young people. She wanted to strengthen and expand Medicare and Medicaid. She wanted to raise the minimum wage. She wanted tighten restrictions on the way the rich protect their money. She wanted to make equal pay for equal work the standard for women. She wanted to make sure Roe v Wade remained in effect. She wanted to keep but improve Obamacare. She wanted to make gay rights even more inclusive. She wanted to pass comprehensive immigration reform while also embracing the DACA Dreamers and their families. She wanted to empower alternative energy sources in order to minimize climate change and create the job of the future. All those positions sound pretty positive to me....for all Americans, including the white working class.
I could go on but what difference, at this point, does it make?
I've heard some analysts say those white Americans who feel victimized by the global economy didn't think she related to them enough. She stood with gays and Black Lives Matter too much. She embraced identity politics too much.
But, if that's the case, what would you have had her do? We are all Americans - black, white, brown, gay, straight, Christian, Muslim, male, female, transgender. Would you have have admired her more if she'd faced the reality of division in America by tossing everyone but white Christians overboard as Donald Trump did? Is that the honorable way to find political success? Did you really want a president who picked a "chosen people" and let everyone else go by the wayside?
A friend of mine told me, "face it, Vic, she wasn't a good candidate. People just didn't like her?"
But evidently 2.7 million more Americans liked Hillary than liked Donald Trump.
No, the problem was the insurmountable obstacles that were placed in her path. The media that practically canonized Bernie Sanders while giving Hillary nothing but grief. The media that ignored her actual positions while they harped day after endless day on e-mails. The media enthralled with the man who perfected the inflammatory tweet, the man who would say anything and reporters following after him like panting dogs, hanging on his every disgusting word. Waiting for the next dump of Hillary's e-mails to see if there was anything juicy and scandalous in them. (There wasn't). Doing Russia's dirty work for it.
The problem was a hostile foreign nation mucking around in our election with, we now know, the precise intent of handing our presidency to Putin's buddy, Don. Hacking the Democrats e-mails and giving them over to Wikileaks to spew into the middle of the campaign. Putting out fake news stories about payments to ISIS and suspicious deaths and child pornography rings run out of a pizza joint.
We have also discovered recently that the Obama administration gave briefings to Congress regarding Russia's nefarious actions but the Republicans (those Benghazi-investigating maniacs) met the situation with a big "ho hum".
The problem was a hostile F.B.I. director willing to step right in the middle of an election with a bombshell announcement that more of Hillary's e-mails had been found, possibly requiring further investigation. Nine days before the election with a further announcement seven days later - "oops, sorry, nothing there after all". So, of course the question is: if they could check them so quickly, why didn't they? Before the first statement?
But one thing they were right about - the people who hate Hillary hate her with a virulently purple passion. That's why they'll gladly latch onto the most ridiculous conspiracy theories and run with them. That's why they willingly believe that she's a murderous traitor. That's why fake news landed right in their wheel house.
And now they've stuck us with a man who may be the worst president in our history. An arrogant man with no intellectual curiosity, who acknowledges no rules or traditions, whose business practices are the very illustration of conflict of interest.
Thank you, Republicans. Thank you, Media. Thank you, Republicans. Thank you, Trump voters.
Thank you for nothing.
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
My grandmother had an abortion in the 20's and almost bled to death.
My mother, who worked for the Department of Defense, took a class with military elites. She got the highest grade in the class but the honchos called her in and said she would certainly understand that they couldn't admit that a female civilian outscored their officers. When the press release came out, they gave a general credit for the highest score.
In my teenage years, us girls knew where to go for an abortion. A friend's mother did it with a knitting needle.
I worked as interim Personnel Manager for six months when my boss quit. Everything went smoothly so I asked the Plant Manager if I could have the job permanently (it paid exactly twice as much as I made) but he said, "oh, no, our people would never accept a woman in that position."
I could go on.....and on....and on.
Since the election, I've received faux sympathy from right-wing Facebook friends who advised me to get a coloring book and some crayons to take to my "safe place". They've asked me if I wanted cheese with my "whine". They've offered to send tissues to dry my tears.
But they have it wrong. I'm not sad, I'm angry.
It seems to me as if God or fate or whoever you want to blame said directly to us women - "you think you've made such progress toward equality. Well, I'm going to show you just how far you haven't come. I'm going to find the most accomplished woman I can, a woman who has spent her whole life in public service, a woman who works her butt off, a woman who is is exceedingly bright. She will campaign on loving one another and bringing people together.
To run against her, I will find a completely inexperienced man, a blowhard, a man whose never done anything that wouldn't benefit himself, a liar, a corrupt man who cheats everyone he comes in contact with. A man whose campaign pushes hatred and division.
Could ever a competition be more stark than this one? But hide and watch, bitches, and see who wins, proving that the best woman isn't as good as the worst man. And to add insult to injury, it will be your "sisters" (ha!ha!) who will pound the final nail in her coffin.
So, yes, Little Girl, you should be mad at all of us who betrayed you. Maybe by the time you grow up, things will have changed but don't bet on it. We seem to be going backwards rather than forward.
Saturday, December 3, 2016
Well, let's see what we have so far. Trump has been our president-elect for only 25 days and it already seems like forever.
We have some of his picks for his cabinet. Steve Bannon, who as the Breitbart editor, bragged about providing the platform for what they like to call the Alt-Right but is really a White Nationalist movement. We have Betsy DeVos, who never attended public schools, never sent her kids to public schools, never taught at public schools, and would like to see funding for public schools transferred to Christian schools for Secretary of Education. We have Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, who was unable to be confirmed for a judgeship because of his racist attitudes. We have Steve Mnuchen, a former Goldman Sachs guy for Economic Secretary (one who made a fortune in foreclosures during the recession) and his deputy will be another Goldman Sachs guy. You remember Goldman Sachs surely? It was giving speeches to them that caused Trump to call Hillary Crooked Hillary because they were a big part of that swamp he told us he was going to drain. We'll have Pompeo for CIA Director. He could never accept no for an answer on Benghazi no matter how many investigations found nothing nefarious on Hillary's part. We have a Health and Human Services guy who hates Obamacare and hates Medicare and Medicaid as well. He vows to get started on repealing the first and privatizing the second as soon as Trump takes office, which makes him a man after Paul Ryan's own heart. (Of course, the Republicans always felt safe voting to repeal Obamacare while Obama was president because they knew he'd veto it. In other words, all the money they wasted repealing it 60 times was a big farce. Now they have to actually do it and they're talking about phasing the repeal in over three years.) We have the foolish society matron who ran against Hillary for Senator from New York and lied about her resume. I can't remember what she's going to be. It doesn't really matter.
There are others I won't bother mentioning. What a motley collection of billionaires and millionaires and lobbyists and politicians and Fox New "analysts". Most of them have no experience in what they are going to be doing, like Ben Carson for HUD (I'm not sure he's accepted yet). Seriously? These people are going to pull the plug on the scummy hot tub they themselves play in?
There are two with whom I have no quarrel. The first is Nikki Hailey. She doesn't have any experience with foreign policy either but she seems to have a likeable, commonsense personality that should serve her well at the U.N. And General "Mad Dog" Mattis. I trust his judgement although I wonder if he has the temperament to put up with Trump if Trump doesn't listen to him. (And does Trump listen to anyone?)
I hate these games Trump seems to like to play with people's lives and their pride, parading them publicly to Trump Tower or one of his other resorts. Does he just get off on forcing people to come to him on bended knee, do you think? Does it make him feel all-powerful?
Choose your goddamed Secretary of State for God's sake and let the ones you don't choose off the hook. My preference would actually be for David Petraus even though to pick someone still on probation for giving out classified information to his mistress would be rich indeed after all the grief Trump gave Hillary got for unintentionally using an insecure server.
And he needs a wise Secretary of State as soon as possible after all the blunders he's made on the foreign relations front. Inviting a Philippine dictator accused of killing thousands of his citizens without evidence or trial to the White House. Taking a call from the Taiwanese president, a country with whom we haven't had diplomatic relations in 40 years....to the great piss off of the Chinese. Having a more than friendly conversation with the head of Pakistan, offering to do whatever Pakistan wants him to do. Uh, hate to tell you Donald but it is India that is our ally, not Pakistan. Pakistan is the one that harbored Bin Laden and other members of Al Qaida, remember?
He passes on the briefings he could get from the intelligence agencies regarding what is going on in the world and talks on an unsecure private phone. He mingles his business with diplomacy, inviting his children into meetings with foreign leaders. He asks leaders of other countries for help in lowering the road blocks to building a hotel or not allowing a wind farm close to his gold course. His conflicts of interest are many. At least the ones we know about. Since he's never released his taxes we're not really aware of the extent of his foreign financial entanglements. But never fear - on December 15, he's going to have a press conference (his first since July) to tell us how he's going to handle the conflict problem. So far, his plan seems to be to let his kids "control" the business while they all promise not to share information with one another.
It appears that he is going to by-pass the press as much as possible and communicate with the people directly through rallies and tweets. Whether you like the professional media or not, they are crucial to holding a president's feet to the fire. But hey, he told us up front that he wasn't a "go by the rules" kind of guy so we've got no right to be surprised.
And so far, I haven't been surprised by anything he's done. His choices for his cabinet are about the level I would have expected because I never bought his "drain the swamp" promise. It doesn't surprise me that he is a bull-in-the-china shop on foreign policy or that he won't even bother to learn the essentials of diplomacy because he never actually seemed interested in anything very deep or time-consuming. It doesn't surprise me that his first "deal" allowed Carrier Corp. to fire only half its people whiling paying them $7 million to leave the other half in the U.S. Yeah, that was a hell of a deal, all right. It doesn't surprise me that he still seems petty and venal and vindictive because after 16 months of campaigning, that's all I ever saw from him.
It going to be a long, ugly four years.
Friday, November 25, 2016
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.