Making Smart Use of Our Microphone (aka, Don't Be Stupid)

>> Friday, November 17, 2017

For at least a few weeks now, women have had the microphone in a way they haven't had perhaps ever. They've been talking about a culture we've mentioned many times before, but not to much response. A world where women are  objects, where they are taught their value is in the eyes of men (often by both parents) or where, even if they don't see themselves that way, they have to put up with others who see them that way to survive. And that the pervasive culture that goes with it makes real predators among the men hard to bring to justice because, instead of being believed, we are dismissed, marginalized, blamed.

This is the world women live in. And one reason we're quiet is for survival. And one reason is because we get attacked for telling the truth. But, for a window, that's starting to change in part because we got angry and started talking. And part is because a few someones started listening, not only when we talked about predators but when we talked about good guys who were part of the dehumanizing that enables the predators.

And responded. The #MeToo campaign helped make it clear how pervasive it is. How ingrained it is. This is about that effort, but I'm going to take a side trip.

I grew up watching M*A*S*H. It was and remains one of my favorite shows, not because it encompasses the feminine ideal--oh, hell no, plenty of misogyny which I didn't notice at the time and still don't think eliminates the value of the show--but it does address many concerns about how people are and are treated, how a culture can make decent people do indecent things and still sleep at night, how some people are monsters hidden among them, and about how some people, despite the culture around them, strive to still hold on to decency.

Now real life (and even the show) wasn't that clear cut: [a] people who strived to live above the difficult culture they were stuck with (war), [b] decent people pushed/felt compelled to do things no decent person should have to do, and [c] monsters who let the war be a cover for greater monstrosities. In truth, there's plenty of folks between b and c--people who, when push came to shove, weren't nearly as decent as they thought they were, for instance.

But the tools for dealing with b and c were totally different for good reason. You don't destroy a [b], who is driven by some outside force (often patriotism and propaganda and the force of the culture around him); you do your best to educate them, teach them why it's wrong and you do so knowing many won't really get it. Not because they're evil but because the culture is too ingrained.

And the monsters, the [c] folks, you try to take out of the game as cleanly as possible because they are beyond saving.

Now I bring this up because I think this has a useful life lesson. When we did #MeToo, we included both sexual harassment as well as sexual assault. While I understand, I think that might have been a mistake, especially if we didn't clarify the kind of sexual harassment we're talking about.

There are two kinds of harassment (both illegal but how you prosecute them is different). One is making an uncomfortable work environment: touchy-feely (non groping), dirty jokes, sexist statements [culture] and one is using power to threaten a woman to comply or hamper/crucify her career [predatory]. Both aren't good and I'm not, in any way, trying to argue that former kind is good, shouldn't be talked about, shouldn't be brought up. We definitely need to so people understand that that kind of environment is painful, stifling, oppressive, and dangerous. It needs to change not just because it's all those things but because it also provides cover for the more predatory folks.

But the way you handle a "cultural" infraction isn't the same way you handle a predator and what I'm seeing right now is mixing those two up. If I'm a guy telling a dirty joke at work and someone hears me and reports it, I will not likely be fired for it. What I will be told is that it's not appropriate, I'll likely get training, I may have to apologize. I'd have to establish a pattern of continuing it despite many warnings before I'm likely to be fired and the reason is, usually the warning is enough. For decent folks.

Predators are different.

So, now, after being dismissed and marginalized, even blamed, for generations, we have the microphone and we're being heard. I'll say it again. We need to call out the cultural problems and call out the predators. Absolutely.

But we need to treat them differently. Someone (who isn't a teenager) who stalks shopping malls hoping to pick up teenagers  is not the same as someone teasing a coworker or making stupid jokes at her expense. Someone who grabs a woman's nether region because he can get away with it because of his personal power is not the same as a man who kisses you as part of a performance in a way you hadn't expected (and was in very poor taste). A scripted kiss you agreed to perform isn't assault, even if you didn't like how he kissed. Absolutely, you are within your rights to object to his method or change your mind afterwards. Tell him not to do it again and you do have a problem if he doesn't. But it's not the same thing as being groped or raped without recourse of choice and pretending it is the same diminishes real assault victims who weren't asked and had no chance to refuse.

Plenty of actresses have horror stories about kissing they did for roles, most of which they never talked about until much later. Shall we destroy the lives of every man who's ever given a screen kiss? I've been kissed by ten different men in my lifetime. I don't recall any of them asking before the first time and, while some I wanted, others not so much. Is it reasonable for me to track the men who gave me the ones I didn't want, get them fired from their jobs and make them pariahs?

Of course not. Because most of that is cultural. Stupid. Thoughtless. Selfish. Things that should change, but it was the culture they (and I) lived in at the time. I want the culture to change, absolutely, but I can't see the logic in trying to apply it retroactively. Ideally, what I can do is explain what was wrong with what they did, its affect on me, and hope they realize it was a mistake and strive to do better. Because if they work at it and I work at it, that's how cultures change.

If I get acknowledgement, if they listen to me without blame, if they appreciate my position, and agree they need to do better, that should be my goal.

Because I will totally kill my own credibility if I lump cultural transgressors with the predators. Because, if I'm out to destroy the same people who could help me change the culture, I'm not out to change it. I'm out for revenge.

It's the fear that women would do that, would use their newfound voice to destroy not just the ones who preyed on women but those who unwittingly covered for them, who made jokes or got pushy, who got angry or defensive when a guy was being accused. Men wanted to believe the predators were few and far between. If you tell them they're all monsters, why would they listen to you any more? Why admit you were right and make an effort to change if a dumb mistake (no I'm not talking rape or assault or having sex with a passed out drunk girl) can cost them their entire future? Potential allies in changing the world for the better will get lost. That's not just stupid. It's suicidal.

Because, if they don't help us change the culture, it won't change and the predators will still be hard to uncover because no one will be listening.

If your intent for #MeToo was to send the signal that every man is basically scum, and they should live the rest of their lives suffering as a result, well, you lost me.

Because I thought it was so we could change this toxic culture so our daughters--and our sons--could have a healthier environment, one where no one would be afraid to out a predator or be blamed for the predator's transgressions. One where men wouldn't be uncomfortable stopping ugly talk or women wouldn't be afraid to speak up sooner and perhaps avoid miscommunications that hurt everyone.

However you feel about Ms. Tweeden and Al Franken, we have a woman who brought forward what I consider to be cultural issues - her own story, I'm talking about. A kiss she consented to, teasing afterwards (whether pointed or mean-spirited, there's no way to know; I doubt they remember it the same), and a picture that does not prove any groping took place but was in definite poor taste. I agree with Al Franken. The behavior was not acceptable, but there is nothing there that proves malice on his part, or predation. She says she hated the kiss and told him never to kiss her like that again--and he didn't. Exactly the reaction one would want when someone makes an honest mistake. Everything else can be readily explained (not excused) by a culture that makes dehumanizing jokes and behavior mainstream. Wrong, absolutely. But not predatory.

And Al Franken's response is exactly what I look for in someone who has contributed to a toxic culture and has it brought to his attention. He has, in no way, attacked Ms. Tweeden. He has validated her feelings and apologized for his behavior with a vow to do more. He has asked for any and all investigation. And he has reminded all of us that he thinks the issues women are dealing with are bigger than just his own vindication:  "And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them."

That, boys and girls, is how you change culture, by making your case, getting heard, and those who made mistakes making an effort to correct them. What you don't do is treat them like a predator, or try to destroy them when they could be your ally.

If you want to keep that microphone, if you want to take out the most dangerous threats you have, you better use that power for good and not revenge.

Or you won't have it much longer. And you'll have no one to blame but yourself.

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Why Do I Even Have to Frickin' Say: Let Her Speak?

>> Monday, September 11, 2017

By now, I shouldn't be surprised. Be warned, there is cursing coming. That's not an apology, by the way.

I've been at a loss for the past 10 months on why the aging, limited, angry, financially-opaque, losing candidate for the Democratic candidacy (and not just barely lost, mind you, but crushed) who has yet to take one iota of responsibility for his part in Trump's presidency, has been anointed by far too many of the people who didn't even vote for the Democratic candidate as the only future for the Democratic party.

I'm not mentioning Trump because he's a total disasster, a Trumpster fire, but, if you didn't get that before the election, you are literally too stupid to read this blog post. Getting Dems to take this back should be a no brainer but this guy, Bernie, is going to do his damnedest to keep that from happening.

The notion that Sanders is our only hope should be laughable and would be, I'd hope, so those of us who understood how important this was, how vital, and essential this election was, wouldn't get suicidal at that kind of nerve. But, unfortunately the DNC leadership has hooked their wagon to that stupidity and are doing their best to alienate their hard-working, still-suffering base. People are upset about the poor campaign contributions. Gee, imagine dissing the heart of your own party for someone who stabbed it in the back and continues to dismiss and mistreat it every time he gets on camera (and why he's on camera  so often I couldn't guess. But then I feel that way about all the Trump talking heads, as well).

And that doesn't make them open their wallets to you? Go figure.

They say it's in the name of healing, but I would like to know the blockhead who thought a constant diet of ignoring the same devoted followers who voted for Hillary in the election (more than any previous white male candidate, I might add) and rubbing salt in their wounds would be the best possible game plan for taking the country back from the morons who have the reins today. Sounds like Putin's planted game plan to me and--I might have mentioned this a few times--we should be smarter than to keep falling for it.

So, yeah, I've been flabbergasted at the soul-searching I've been seeing by talking heads with pointing their fingers at Hillary as the one and only cause and not a one of the people--who has verifiable evidence of their own stabbing her in the back during the election--is willing to take a single whiff of blame. I've heard smart people tell me all about her shortcomings and, in the same breath, tell me we need to let the election behind us while we learn from our past mistakes (which they seem to translate as to preclude more Hillary or POC or women).


Fuck. That. Shit.

If the lesson you learned from this past election is we have to pander to the slime machine, that we get to ignore substance and actual capabilities if the media tells us to, that we can ignore talented capable people because they just aren't slick enough to sell snake oil, well, Trump is only the beginning of the total decline of this country. 

If we really want to learn from our past mistakes, isn't that examining the past election? And really--and many of these folks are in the media--you can't think of anything you might have had to do with this incredible result? Berniebots? People who pouted at home because they got tired of politics?

And why the hell are the folks who think they should be running the Democratic party, now that their losing candidate is still out there campaigning, given credence even though these are the same damn folks we couldn't count on in the election and the same damn folks that Putin's trolls played like high-end violins? I don't know. Maybe we'd do better with some folks a little less gullible, perhaps someone who doesn't paste purity on a candidate who won't reveal his taxes or even his required financial statements for his job as Senator.

Sorry, I still can't get over it and it bothers me that I can't. I should have been able to forget Sanders as he went back to being totally irrelevant, just like he was before. Instead, I've had him shoved down my neck so I can't heal. You know, for unity.

Meanwhile, this incredible, noble, patient woman, hampered with rules and expectations NO ONE else had, who still did well despite the unending onslaught of negative views and backhanded compliments but lost to a total buffoon, a woman with all kinds of expertise particularly needful now (foreign policy, economic policy, etc), a woman who was constantly shouted down and talked over by rivals and foreign trolls during the election, is now, apparently, by her own party she's dedicated decades to, told to cease and desist in telling her side of the story unless, of course, she just wants to say it's all her fault and she's as bad as everyone says she is. You know, for unity.

Fuck. That. Shit.

You argue no one wants to hear her. Bullshit. There are sixty million plus people still traumatized by the election and being screwed by our own party that desperately needs to hear someone tell them they didn't imagine it all. There are literally millions of fans--that's right fans--who need to know we weren't alone, that she won't be party to the gaslighting the GOP is working on, the media's helping them with, and Bernie (and DNC leadership) is actively aiding and abetting.The one where we're told we're not good enough to be Democrats and we need to make way for "honest" white men to tell us what we really need.

She says she won't run any more. I don't blame her. I thought she was a saint for putting up with it the last two times. But you know what that means, you assholes screaming against her? She's got nothing else to lose. She can say any damn thing she wants until the day she dies.

And I hope she does. I hope she reminds you losers who were so anxious to set the country aflame rather than give her an honest shake despite her credentials and character, exactly what you bought with your misogyny and bigotry. I hope she never lets you forget that she, and the sixty-six million people who voted for her, have the only clean hands in the country--that all the blood and pain still to come is on the rest of you. You break it, you bought it. It's all on you.

I, for one, will not let you forget it. Nice to know, neither will Hillary.

And the thing is, until you guys get it, until you folks pointing finger start doing some real self-examination, we are doomed not to be able to save this country. Because you're the problem. And, really, she's the only one with the guts to come out and say it.

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So, What's a Dem to Do?

>> Sunday, May 7, 2017

Last time I argued against letting outside radicals come in and tear the Democratic party apart in the name of unity. After all, they don't know jack about governance and the examples of full up socialism here in the Americas back that up. Extremists regimes end up corrupt. Alt-right is proving that right now with our own government.

But doing nothing won't work. We played by all the rules, took the high road, went high when they went low, showed them hard data, pointing out the issues and hatred on the other side, provided (on Hillary's part) reams of data on exactly what she wanted to do on a whole myriad of issues. And lost (though there were definitely some dark forces involved in that: the embrace of the Sanders' campaign of GOP and Russian misinformation, Russian misinformation bots throughout the campaign, the media gleefully pounding on perceived or trivial issues with Hillary while sexual molestation and criminal fraud were shrugged off on the Trump side, and, of course, Comey's poorly explained torpedoing of one campaign while silently deep in investigation of the other).

There are other factors outside the Dems and Hillary's control that were likely factors that don't get much play by pundits or the populace: name recognition (which is an amazingly big factor in voting and Trump made his name big among people who aren't politically savvy long before this election), the tendency of the dissatisfied populace to change leadership at least every eight years (even if they're better off than they were - they're rarely as well off as they'd like to be), and the fact that Hillary was (and the alt-left won't like this) one of the most left leaning candidates for president we ever had and far leftists don't do well in Presidential elections, per available data.

What the Dems are talking about includes courting the racists and sexists of this country (tossing aside the championship of civil rights) in the interest of winning (which I talked about last time), and rehashing the mistakes Hillary made: not going to enough states at the end, not a good enough ground game, not having a good message on economic issues, not having a catchy simple way of explaining the answers to complex problems (Apparently "Stronger Together" isn't unifying enough for some people).

But the truth is, none of this is really enough. Even with the dark forces in play, this election would have been something of a squeaker even though it should have been a landslide. The WORST they could come up with Hillary was that she used poor judgment setting up her server, but had an exemplary record of public service, including several key achievements like ChIPS, support for disabled students in schools, her acclaimed work as Secretary of State cleaning up after W, and a surprisingly transparent charity credited with helping people around the world. Trump was active in suits involving fraud, racketeering, and child rape, had a history of bankruptcy and destroying small businesses by not paying them, and bragged about assaulting women.  That's not even counting the ugly, hateful, malicious rhetoric of his campaign. Unless you were painfully naive, a Republican who wanted a free hand to rape and pillage the country for other wealthy bastards, or you wanted any possible excuse to not to vote for a woman, this was a no brainer. But, for someone who wasn't with him ideologically, there was no excuse, whether Hillary came to hold a rally in your town or someone came to knock on your door and beg you to vote for her pretty please.

People still bring up the email, and that shouldn't have even lasted through a 24 hour news cycle instead of being pounded daily for a year and a half.  It certainly shouldn't have been a factor that weighed anything next to what Trump stood for and his past. And I know that's true because Trump and half his staff do exactly the same thing now and the news on it didn't even make a 24 hours news cycle (nor should it) considering the heinous streak of horrible things they've done since coming into power. Which were entirely predictable.


Because tearing apart Hillary and the campaign again isn't going to address the problem. That was a solid campaign swimming upstream against a media onslaught of epic proportions and much of what people said she didn't say, she did say, in detail and at length. The problem was, no one was listening. Well, those of us staunchly behind her were listening, but we had to search it out between all the attack pieces.


I wish you folks could hear how it sounds from my perspective. Before you explain how it's not sexism, kindly find the footage where Bernie, who lost fair and square to Hillary by a huge margin by every metric, came on television and went painstakingly through every one of his missteps.


I saw this in 2008. Even though she had a MUCH closer loss with Obama, I heard for years a long litany of all her campaign failures. When McCain lost, other than his idiotic choice for VP, I didn't hear news and Republicans going on and on about his many failings that brought this to happen, even though they considered (and I saw this on actual campaign posters) Obama the anti-Christ. Maybe if he'd lost, they'd have done the same thing with him.

Hillary, unlike every other loser in the history of politics, will go into great detail again (and apologize) for her missteps because she knows that's a step required for her and her alone. She will acknowledge them just as she acknowledged mistakes during the campaign (and no one else did). And she'll be hounded for them forever anyway, because anything less than perfection must be castigated until the end of time, no matter how abjectly she acknowledges them or detailed her own analysis.

And not one other person will look closely at all the other missteps or take responsibility for them. All so we can pretend that the simplest Occam's razor answer isn't true, that as racist as this country is, it's even more sexist.

Bottom line, not just the right but the left was played, too. And, until we can convince us, the voters, not to be so easily played, until we can convince liberal voters that the rules have to be the same for everyone, the standards the same, not one set for the right and one for us or for blacks or for women (don't get me started on the brouhaha on President Obama's speeches - I wouldn't begrudge him if he'd demanded his weight in gold from the country as several for all the ugliness we put him through while he worked his heart out for us), we will lose over and over again.

Let me put it another way, even if you voted for her, if you're analyzing and the first and last answer to everything wrong has to do with some flaw in Clinton, step back and ask yourself, would you do the same, put 100% of the blame on another candidate the same way? If you're saying, "How dare she do anything less than take 100% of the blame for Trump being in the White House, I'll never respect her again," you've got more sexism in you than you thought.

We already know the conservatives will treat her differently because she's a woman. If you are using a different yardstick for Hillary Clinton than anyone else, it's sexist. And, if it's just as true on the left, that is probably the real problem.  But, by joining with them to flay Hillary again, we're reinforcing their wrong thinking, not correcting it. And we have to correct it, because the key to winning isn't to look like the other side but to note why we're different.


One reason the conservatives have so much power right now is that they've dominated the narrative. They first told us Hillary (and Obama) were the evil communists among their own adherents while feeding stories to leftist outlets that they were both closet Republicans indistinguishable from the Republicans (no matter how that was belied by facts). But the majority that put Obama in the White House, the majority that voted for Hillary, the tens of millions that believed in them, didn't scream about it. The screaming has been done by the extremists, such that Dem contenders in the midterms didn't embrace the good work that Obama was doing, but disavowed it (thereby losing and making Congress red), by not standing forward and shouting their love of Hillary (instead going into secret groups where they wouldn't be attacked). They aren't the ones who lost the election, but they seem to be the only ones doing the soul searching, wondering what they could do better.


What they need to do is educate those who are smugly proud of not voting or their third party vote or even voting for Trump while turning around and blaming Hillary (and company) for Trump's actions. That's the kind of nonsense that must be fought against. That's the narrative we need to kill right here and right now. Probably can't do it for the deeply red folks, but there are a lot of other people who are going to be facing some real appreciable harm who need to listen if they want the situation to get better. If you didn't vote for Hillary and you're bitching about Trump, you need to do some soul searching because YOU are a big part of the problem. And thinking the Dems need to change to fix it ain't the answer, because they aren't the problem. They voted for the answer. You didn't.

But what can the Democrats do? Well, you're doing it. You're reminding the Republican reps out there that you're watching and you hate what they're doing. Wish I could say that will stop 'em--it won't; they don't care what we think and they haven't for some time--but it does hearten the Dems. We need to back and support the Dems that are working for us. They did a great job trimming the worst of Trump's proposals for the budget and holding firm on that. They were staunch against the AHCA. Some of the Democratic Reps have offered to come to the town halls the Republicans are afraid to hold. That's a brilliant idea. Let the voters know who is really throwing them under the bus, who is standing for their rights and who isn't.

We need to change the narrative. Facts matter. Reality matters. People matter. The rules need to be the same for everyone or they are meaningless. We need to call out lies and keep calling them out. We need to mock the insane proposals as the garbage they are. We have to be noisy and scream that we're not going to be attacked without standing our ground, that we're proud of the people, often maligned and dismissed, who have been fighting for us for the past half century. We need to be the noisy majority and make the media do better, make the narrative truthful again.

We need to use that to build a better, smarter, less gullible electorate. In my opinion, that's the only way we win.

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How to Destroy the Democratic Party and the Country

>> Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I know, I know, I was supposed to write more of these but I was unexpectedly sucked into more book stuff and then ended up in the hospital...well, you know how it can go. And I was all psyched, gonna write something that isn't politics.

Well, so much for that.

There's been a big debate, when people aren't going on and on and on about how horrible Hillary is, even in the face of the monstrosity we have in the White House, about how to "fix" the DNC. What can we do after this calamity?

Here's my short answer: Don't fix it. That's not what's broken. Well, it wasn't.

Could use a bit more spine, of course, but that plays into why it's struggling so much now while the GOP is circling the drain. This should be when the DNC has it made. Unfortunately, we're so convinced we suck that we're going to throw away what makes us great out of fear. That's stupid. I need a state-sized hand to smack this country a couple times. Snap you out of it.

Now, here's my long answer: What the hell is wrong with you people? The biggest problem the DNC and people who are sympathetic to the DNC have is that they've been told no one agrees with them, so they are constantly second-guessing themselves. Too often, they are unwilling to make a stand in case it upsets some group of voters because, if they're not in power, they can't get anything done (especially with the current state of the GOP). That's whacked thinking of course, but slightly less whacked than the alt-left and the alt-right/now mainstream GOP which has been told everyone agrees with them (and they believe it) and think they walk on water because that's insane. These folks think they can do anything and it won't come back to bite 'em in the butt, that they can espouse any horrific notion and there will never be repercussions. They believe their own lunacy. They forgot they were even lying.

There are a couple things everyone who isn't currently part of the Trumpian mind meld (and I use the term "mind" loosely) or part of the Sanders mind meld keep forgetting.

For the past 60-70 years, all the good governance, all the recovery from fiascoes and blatant government corruption, all the sound economic policies and civil rights, all the improvements that so many have had in the past seventy years have had Democratic fingerprints all over it, even some of what happened on a Republican president's watch. All the unnecessary wars, the slicing back of safety nets, the fiscal irresponsibility, the deregulation, the environmental looting, that's GOP.

The Republican party hasn't had a clue how to govern in decades, which is why their presidents do so much damage but not as much as they might because they rarely have had a Republican Congress at the same time, and they've made their total inability to accomplish anything but catastrophe a point of pride. They not only willingly but gleefully picked up the ugly mantle of bigotry when the Dems (who had it first) began to realize how totally unsavory it was. They wear it unabashedly while telling us that bigotry doesn't even exist and probably never did.

Part of the Dem's good governance--and this is important--is that they never forgot the Republicans were part of the citizenry, too. That they looked at the big picture, were willing to wheel back their wants and wishes at times, accept half a loaf, often finding out the half a loaf was too much at once and adjusting. They LEARNED. The DNC wasn't just about winning, it was making the country greater, more inclusive, better for everyone and they would have gotten a lot further on that if they hadn't spent so much of their time cleaning up after GOP messes and, honestly, trying to make it work with difficult people who kept saying the opposite of the truth as if that could make it reality.

Someone's got to be the grownup in the room, got to do the grunt work, and make the sacrifices required for making this country function. And, more and more as decades progress, that was falling into the hands of solely the Dems instead of being something at least a few Republicans were trying.

What about the communists and stuff, the independents? I'll get there. The alt left has a bit in here, too, but it's not what you think it is and it's got nothing to do with governance.

Now, since the GOP was busy forgetting anything they might ever have known about leadership, they had nothing to do but line their pockets by passing out favors (and, yes, there are Dems guilty of this, too, and--gasp!--independents, but for blatant self-serving corruption, the GOP are masters. They don't even pretend they're not profiting off their legislation anymore) and figure out how to win. Because that's all they got. And winning, it turns out, is much easier than governance because no (self) sacrifice is required, no truth, no accountability, no thought. It's all about emotional manipulation and, since they've got the evangelicals in their fold now, they know just how to manipulate with hatred and fear, rage, all the things that have led to the ugliest chapters in human history. It works because emotional responses turn off thinking (literally) and outrage (for real events or false) becomes the catalyst to convince people to constantly subvert their own best interests.

Is it doomed if we don't stop it? Absolutely. And they'll take a lot of good people with them. The damage could go from years of recovery to total annihilation, and not just because our Trumpian toddler wants to play with the big red button. No way, unchecked, this ends in a pretty way. It never has.

So, Bernie's and other alt-left icons are the answer, right? I mean, obviously, he knows how to counter the GOP's winning strategy and can bring brightness and light into all the dark recesses of the DNC. Ugh, I just threw up a little in my mouth. Where's that state-sized hand again? We need another smack.

The alt-left is not without its uses. Historically, here and there, they have pointed out abuses no one notices and stirred up outrage that prods the DNC and other to stand up and address.  But occasional screaming is not the same damn thing as governance.

The LAST damn thing the DNC needs is to hand over the controls to ANOTHER group that's never had ANY experience governing (except in several Latin American countries riddled with poverty, violence, and corruption). Or assume a man who couldn't even win a contest among lefties can win over a whole country of everyones, even using the same tactics as the GOP (which he did). And still lost. He's not even good at it. Oh, sure, he tried the divisiveness and the "us vs. them" rhetoric, the hate-the-rich mantra, then moved on to the smear the one with governance experience by insisting that there's nothing worse for the country than knowledge and experience. That was quite the logical fallacy. And he failed conclusively so that everyone knew it (but him and his most rabid followers).

Now, personally, I'd love to forget about Bernie. Not only has he lost all relevance sometime in April, but he's a never been, rather than a has-been, and knows diddly poo about leading because, if he did, he wouldn't be tearing the DNC apart under the guise of "unity." But, sometimes, even someone not worth one's time says something that just can't go unchallenged, and this is especially so now that the DNC has (idiotically) embraced them as their messiah: tossing away civil rights as if it's something we can pick up later, no problem, once the "real" problems are dealt with.

That's total horseshit. Not just because those civil rights for immigrants, Muslims (and Jews, too), blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, women, LGBTQ, disabled people, the elderly, are all on the chopping block while Bernie whines about corruption, though they are, but also because this is what separates us from everyone else. Not just the GOP. If the DNC decides, "Oh, we're not going to even try on this stuff now. We'll get back to it," there will be nothing to stop the wholesale dismantling of more than a half-century of hard-won progress because there is no one else defending it, no one else standing up for it, no one else who gives a shit.

As soon as you make the human rights of any citizen of this nation negotiable, something we can live without, no one is safe. As soon as you take away a woman's autonomy over her own body, she is less than human, not even able to decide her own life. As soon as you tell a black man, "Suck it up, the new minimum wage (which will never happen) will help you, too," without any cognizance that he can't get a good education without improvements, will find himself in jail on trumped up charges, or otherwise marginalized from the potential he might otherwise have had, you have become complacent that he'll never be treated as a full human being, deserving human decency

And that's the thing. Bigotry isn't just cruel and mean-spirited. It's STUPID.

Let me repeat that in case you missed it. It's STUPID. You can't marginalize half and more of your population without the country, as a whole, suffering for it. That potential, the minds and ideas and breakthroughs and culture and classics and everything that will never come to pass make the world that much darker. For what? So some fat cat somewhere can get a second yacht?

Stupid. Bad governance.

And suicide for the DNC because, right now, the blocks that come out, year after year to help them in the voting booth are women and minorities. Not because the Dems have always given them all they want, but because they'll at least try, because everything different between now and when "colored only" was a common sign, happened because the Dems fought for it.

If the Dems tell them, "Hey, you're really not worth it," not only will these still-marginalized people have no one to protect them, but the Dems will have lost the people who were most loyal to them.

And we'll have deserved it.

This whole notion is so illogical and asinine, so utterly self-destructive, it stinks to high heaven of GOP anti-logic and manipulation. I don't know about you but I'm sick to death of being manipulated by the stupid party. So, DNC, stop it. It's embarrassing.

So, what do we do?

Guess that will have to do with the next post.

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Screw the Gimmicks; We Need to be Fighting for Substance

>> Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Facebook, if nothing else, often provides me food for thought. Not because I'm dealing with idiots--because I don't deal with idiots any more; fresh out of patience for that nonsense--but from people I like, admire, appreciate who say something that, the more I think about it, the less I agree.

As one might guess, a good portion of the thinking public is trying to wrack their brains to figure out how they can (a) minimize the damage from the Trumpster Fire currently in office and (b) change the dynamic drastically in the next election so we can limit it further and perhaps even start on the long ugly slog of cleanup.

Of course, that means hashing and rehashing "what Hillary did wrong" but, hey, "we're not attacking her." And I get the rationale for trying to find ways of dumbing down our complex messages and weighty dreams into palatable chunks for the electorate so they feel special this time. I totally get why they're doing it. I even applaud the intent.

I just think it's wrong. It's not only wrong to do, it's going in the wrong direction and we've done too much of that already.

This past election was a war between actual meaningful verifiable substance and celebrity hateful garbage that didn't even pretend it was real. And the latter won, not by much, but by enough.

It's not the first time I've heard this cry: it's the same battle between climate change scientists and deluded deniers, healthcare practitioners vs. the rabid and totally debunked antivaxxers who insist that killing your child is better than autism, economic realists begging us not to once again try tactics that always end in abysmal ugly failure but sound good to the people who will get no benefits ("Lower taxes!"), those who realize that vilifying a religion is not how you get rid of terrorists, it's how you make 'em, etc, etc, etc.

These battles shouldn't be battles at all because the war between substance and empty rhetoric should be a shoo-in for substance, especially with the overwhelming data for any culture that wants, hey, a future of any kind.

And yet...

And that's why, finding the right gimmick, the right tagline, the right front man even if he (always a he) has got no depth is the wrong direction to pursue. Because, as soon as we become the party that says gimmicks are better than substance, we're no different than the other party. Once substance doesn't matter, once the truth doesn't matter, once the reality of governance becomes less importance than someone with snappy lines at the podium, it's only a matter of time and no one will be defending substance. 

Sound extreme? It's not. I come from a scientific background. That's why I know the "scientists can't be trusted" nonsense is just that. If you're smart enough to be a scientist, believe me you could get rich quicker in many other fields if you were willing to compromise your integrity. Science is all about finding the truth, the how and why, the substance in the laws of nature that rule our existence so we can manipulate them or use them to the best effect. You can't go looking for the truth by ignoring it in favor of glam. Unlike politics, in the world of science, a single fudged study or manipulated result gets you exiled forever. You can have wild theories and hypothesis, but fake thedata and pretend it's real: you're outa there. Because every lie, every misrepresentation of the truth hides the substance and makes openings for more falsity to come and obscure reality and delegitimizes the good hard work they do.

Climate science doesn't need to find a new more straightforward way of explaining what's happening. What's happening is pretty straightforward: our crazy energy usage (primarily fossil fuels) is dumping shitloads of CO2 into the environment which makes the environment not only hotter but more volatile and chaotic, kills ecosystems in the water and, even worse, threatens Disneyworld. The specifics are complicated, but the general message: burning oil, coal and natural gas (at least that we don't make ourselves) is killing us off and we need to stop doing so. It's not that the layman can't grasp that message, it's that he's been offered an alternative and we've let that be acceptable. "It's fine. Nothing to worry about. The earth does this all the time. Let's dig some more wells, and, hey, don't lift a finger to find ways to save yourself money, reduce your energy usage, change sources, etc."

Well, no worries, then. All such a man needed was a viable alternative to believe and its complete lack of substance doesn't matter because there's no penalty for things that have no substance. They get the same  (or more) air time so it must be legit.


We don't need to dumb down our message. We shouldn't dumb down the message. Governance is a hard task. We shouldn't have stupid people in positions of power. We shouldn't have people that are bought and paid for in positions of power. We shouldn't have people who ignore science and reality and substance to convince their constituents to elect them in a position of power.

And the reason they are there is because too many of us have stopped defending substance, have been all accommodating when someone trots out something that's demonstrably false instead of blasting them or laughing them off the stage, off the screen, off the newspaper. If I'm coming on a news show to explain the established facts of climate change, I don't need some paid shill up there tossing a snowball around like that means anything and we shouldn't continue to support shows that do so, we shouldn't read papers that do so, we shouldn't take as serious contenders anyone who does so.

And that's a much harder task because the celebrity depthless crap has become established as reality, that's why people can still talk about how Obama was a bad president or Reagan was a good one.

Tens of millions of people supported Hillary because they knew she had the chops to do the job. The background, the experience, the fortitude to withstand the horrific elements that come with the job, the understanding that answers are rarely simple binary yes or no's when we come face to face with complex problems that have short term and long term implecations. She was substance and this country repudiated her.

We have to change that, not find someone who will impress the same idgets that repudiated her but make them see that substance matters, that truth matters, that reality matters. Trump should help with that, he and his Congressional phalanxes of soulless jerks rubbing their hands with glee at the notion of taking away food from school children and old folks. We have the opportunity to say: "This is what you get when substance doesn't matter. When the truth doesn't matter. When reality doesn't matter. Suffering and damage that may take generations to recover from, if, in fact we do." And that's what we should say. Not that we'll try our own version of bullshit to see if we can compete.


We can't. They've been doing bullshit way longer and know how to tweak our bullshit to favor themselves. They've got a pipeline that stinks around the world. As they did in this last election.

Instead, we have to staunchly defend capability and know-how, science and reality, facts and humanity. Even if it isn't easy because that's what makes us different. That's what makes real progress. That's what makes change. Fighting for reality and walking the walk.

And the only way to do that is to eschew anyone who humors the bullshit. Anyone who gets all even-handed with lies instead of reality. Anyone who gives equal credence to nonsense, especially harmful nonsense, but really any nonsense. Turn off their shows. Write in to the papers. Make them back claims. Challenge when they misrepresent scientific studies. Don't back down when stereotypes against this group or that group get trotted out. We're all one people and we only succeed if we all succeed. Every other methods always ends ugly. That's historically factual. Some haven't ended yet, but you can see it coming.

And it will be coming for us, because a country that refuses to govern itself on substance deserves to fail. And will. If we don't want it to, we, as the electorate have got to change or we'll have the end we deserve.

Oh, and speaking of reality, can we stop pretending Hillary didn't win the primary? Let's be on the side of truth, shall we?

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Dems Need to Drop the Double Standard

>> Monday, March 27, 2017

Yeah, yeah, it's late. Take it up with management.

So, wait, you may be thinking, weren't you just talking about double standards last blog post. (If you think I was nagging, go back and read it again. It clearly didn't sink in). Yes and no. Obviously the double standard that comes with misogyny is a big part of what helped put Trump in the White House.

But that's only part of the problem.

Dems/liberals/progressives have a serious problem. Not just that much of the country, whether we like it or not, is apparently hateful, ignorant or both--though that's pretty frustrating. No, we're also our own worst enemy.

Despite the abysmal failure of Republican policies when implemented, despite the historical failure of Republican policies, particularly economically, despite the overt cruelty inherent in many of the Republican policies and their fingerprints on several of the huge problems Obama inherited that people hated, they've managed to win a large foothold in local, state, and federal governments while they've been failing. That's absolutely mind-boggling to a thinking person as myself, especially with the heinous results seen to date. And then they get more power. How is that possible?

Propaganda is part of it, but there's something else that's key. When Republicans have a candidate, even one that tips their scales in sleaze, corruption or stupidity, they will still get plenty of support if they agree with one of several "pet" positions that have next to nothing to do with actually doing a decent job: abortion, gun regulation, gay rights. Those supporters don't expect perfection or even a modicum of humanity, which might explain the slippery slope of buffoon/psychopath/freaking criminal their candidates have taken over the years until we have the morass of incompetent cruelty we have now. That's insane.

But, no matter how we pretend it was all them, part of it was us, because liberals, too often, are the opposite of conservatives in terms of how we vote. We can agree with almost everything someone stands for, but one vote we don't like, one position we don't agree with, one decision that didn't pan out, and we turn our backs on our own candidates.

Think I'm talking about Hillary? Well, she fits, too, but it's much bigger than that.

Let's talk about Obama, handed two horrific failures of wars, (and the terrorist organizations growing as a result), the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and a concerted campaign aided and abetted by MSM to treat him like the anti-Christ. In amazingly short order, the worst of his crises had begun to reverse themselves and he managed to pull off as close to universal healthcare as our Congress would let him. He is not only intelligent, thoughtful, level-headed, strategic, and compassionate, as well as a hard worker (all key components for someone in his position), he is an expert in the Constitution, articulate, a great speaker, handsome, and an unabashedly devoted family man. Babies love him to an unprecedented level.

How did we reward this amazing man who took us from very maw of extreme failure and even gave us some key accomplishments? We freaking elected a red Congress. So, the many other accomplishments of his Presidency: gay marriage, drastically reducing our dependence on foreign oil, drastically increasing our efforts into green energy, putting some backbone into environmental regulations, imposing restrictions on banking to help preclude another collapse, Iran peace deal, Environmental accord, mending some very broken fences with allies around the world, even (gasp!) the TPP to help keep China from undercutting our future (but, hey, brainiacs, congrats on ruining that. Guess y'all want to be fry cooks) all had to be done without support. And, thanks to a grateful nation making his Congress increasingly red so that he couldn't even fill a SCOTUS seat (as if that was reasonable), he did it all almost single-handedly.

He should be treated as a bloody miracle, at least by the left, especially given the level of vilification on the right. The treatment he received, not just by the extremist "conservative" (racist) media, but tacitly accepted and reinforced my main stream media, down-played his incredible strengths and magnified even the tiniest misstep as if it were malicious, corrupt, or inept. And much of the left totally bought into that. The longest streak of job growth in history was blown off. Not good enough. More people insured than ever before and people with preexisting conditions, completely excluded from health care options before, could now find coverage. Not good enough.


Even his strongest supporters felt they had to make caveats, "He's a great president if only..." Does that mean I agree with all his choices? Why should I? I don't agree with all of anyone's choices, not my ex-husband's, not my mother's, not my daughters'. We're individuals. That's how things get worked out among grownups, we use our differences and our bits of commonness to work for the common good. That's how real people get things done, whether it's a craft club, a family, or any other organization. Dissenters are not tossed out the window summarily. We don't have to agree with everything. We're people.

Folks, that's what will keep us from being successful. Good men, good women will suddenly face a huge wave of truly amazing hatred by their fellow liberals if they don't agree on every topic, if they use their actual experience, knowledge, or judgment to do things they think best and others don't agree. That is also insane.

It's not just the far right that insists on perfection in liberal politicians but still have the warm fuzzies for their own even if they turn out to be pedophiles. The left also insists on perfection and gives the same pass to the right by normalizing monsters to the same level as devoted and capable people.

People aren't perfect. They make mistakes and the smart ones learn from them. As long as we insist on someone who pretends to be perfect, we'll be split from those who notice the lack of perfection and therefore reject, and those who understand that wanting perfection is stupid (and doomed to disappointment). How about competence and integrity instead? Because the other side not only is willing to vote for the woefully incompetent, they're apparently willing to keep doing so in the hopes that eventually pans out.

Someone has got to be smarter than that. I'd like it to be the people who care about the future and many of the most vulnerable groups in this nation.

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Stop Telling Me Hillary Gave Us Trump

>> Saturday, March 18, 2017

I've mostly stepped off the politics for a while, not just because the current administration not only makes me physically ill with their hateful callousness and cluelessness, not just because I feel helpless at this stage to do anything about it, but because I feel like this country literally kicked me in the gut with their choice for top executive, me and every capable, talented, hard-working, meticulous woman who has ever tried to meet every impossible standard and been deemed lacking while some know-nothing moron with the "right" plumbing took the job. Nor was it just a slap in the face for accomplished women everywhere (and, no, I don't think it's any better than many of the women slapped themselves) but also a direct attack on poor people, LGBT, Muslims, Jews, blacks, Latinos, immigrants in general (including those here legally) and disabled people. I felt like my own country, which I loved, had repudiated me, had repudiated all of us. I have never felt so betrayed.

So, if you intend to tell me to get over it, you're on the wrong page. I won't delete your comment, but I will make you wish you hadn't made it. You've been warned. 


However, as the real horror, the implications of having a hateful, self-serving, corrupt idiot in the most important job in the government tied with a Congress that has proven itself just as hateful, self-serving, and corrupt in the only position to provide a check to him letting him have a free hand, sinks in, even to the people who supported him (well some of them), the great finger-pointing mess has begun. Far too many folks, especially those who should know better, are rushing to point the finger at Hillary for not being good enough. 

Oh, no, that's not what happened. I've been the smart one in the room. I've been at the table where everyone agreed that my data was best and my conclusions were logical but, hey, we weren't going to do that anyway. I saw this election as a repudiation by my country of everything *I* am, not just Hillary. I watched her every step. She did everything right, and, had every step second-guessed by phalanxes of noisy pundits telling her (and more importantly us) what she ought to be doing - often insisting on completely opposite advice. And usually wanting her to do what someone else was doing and failing.

The supreme irony of blaming her is that the very same people who undercut her, refused to explain her many many strengths, in fact deliberately kept them hidden, are the same folks whining that she didn't do enough. So, not only for every Trump voter, but for every voter who stayed home, every idget who piously threw their votes away on equally know-nothing but possibly less hateful third party candidates, to every newspaper and, especially, news show who peed yourselves in glee to go on endlessly about Hillary's every perceived imperfection while ignoring Trump's total dishonesty, greed and deviancy and equally ignoring Hillary's impressive resume of real verifiable accomplishments and detailed plans to do more, but also those folks, even if you voted for Hillary, who couldn't keep yourself from making a dig at her at every opportunity, let me just say:


Fuck you.

I mean, I could say it more kindly and cleverly and try to cut you down with logic and reason, but, y'know, you weren't listening before the election. I don't expect it would make an impression on you now.

You might think that's too harsh, but I don't think it's harsh enough considering the pain you'll be inflicting on the most vulnerable in this country. The children whose educations you've destroyed. The old people you'll be starving. The sick people you've left to die unnecessarily. The environment you've murdered irretrievably in the forlorn and dangerous hope that your son can also become a coal miner. Every black man who knows no one will be standing up for his rights when he gets hurt. Every little girl in the country who just learned, firsthand, that no matter what she does, how accomplished she becomes, how intelligent she is, how perfectly she dots every i or crosses every t, she'll be passed over to suit the whims of the total and unabashed asshole with no accomplishments, skills or human decency. Every Muslim child who is treated like a monster.  Every Jew who sees his synagogue defaced or left burning. Every immigrant child or child with a Latino name who is treated like a criminal. Every gay teen left beaten and battered because the hateful feel vindicated in their hatred.

You have used your freedom to potentially destroy these peoples' dreams and possibly their lives. Yeah, you'll suffer, too, but that's not quite enough for justice.Your choice; your responsibility. That's the real price of freedom.

But one thing I won't stand for is you pretending Hillary was the problem when this nightmare is one you brought on yourselves. You media being belittled and squashed. You poor people finding out your only lifelines are being eliminated because you had to vote with your worst instincts. The GOP and the media have spent twenty-five years vilifying a woman who has done more good than most people in the world. This is all on you.

And spare me how she could have handled it better, that she lost "bigly".

Just the notion is absurd, and I noticed this in 2008, when Hillary had nearly as many votes as President Obama in the primary. For months--years--all I could hear was how she totally flubbed it.

No one says that about Sanders this race, even though he lost by a relative mile. No one said it about Romney or McCain (well, except noting his VP choice) when they lost to Obama - how they totally flubbed it, even though they both lost, er, bigly.

But when Hillary loses, even if it's spurious, even if she does so well she's a hair breadth's away, it's all about how she totally failed, flubbed it, screwed up. Even during the most winningest moments in the campaign, primary and general, every article about her went into a long litany of what was wrong with her and why people hated her.

Didn't seem to occur to anyone that constantly being told how hated she was might have been an eensy teensy factor.

To be frank, given the constant bombardment of bad press, backhanded compliments, even pro-pieces, filled with caveats and subtle digs, it's probably more amazing how she continually did so well, connected, without fanfare, to so many millions of people while everyone was busy not noticing. Amazing. But, since we insisted on perfection for women, still not good enough.

That's how I see it. I am not alone in this thinking. There are a few other voices in the wilderness who get it, like here and here.

So, why is this important? Why harp on it? Because if we don't recognize the real criminals in this, the real reason why this country will be brought to the brink of ruin (if not tipped over), we can never do better. It wasn't Hillary. It's us. Trump is the president this country deserves. We deserved him because we refused to educate ourselves and let our blind hatred do our talking for us. Don't give me your sob story about how Hillary should have wooed you specifically or how disheartened you are that immigrants are taking your jobs (they're not). You brought this on yourselves and, if you want this country to be the great country it could be, you're going to have to take a look in the mirror and change your ways.

Trump won, at least in part because his hatefulness resonated with a large part of the populace. Partly because he's cultivated a persona of being smart and wealthy, no matter how belied by facts, and partly because the folks in this country, including plenty of women, are willing to believe the worst of a woman and the best of a man, no matter the evidence. I wish that wasn't so, but it clearly is.


If we survive this, it will be because we learned something. Because, if we don't, we don't deserve to survive.

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