The Constant Unending Misogyny [Many] Men Don't Even Know They Use: Clinton Edition

>> Friday, August 19, 2016

I have read quite a few political posts recently, like more than the rest of my life combined. I started out this election not sure how I felt about Hillary Clinton and growing to respect and admire her the more I educated myself. I will not pretend I'm anything but a dedicated supporter.

But, in addition to all I learned about her dedication and commitment and intelligence and experience and fortitude that I respect about her, nearly as compelling has been the opening of my eyes to her heinous treatment by media (yes even women) and almost everyone else that gets a voice. I found myself getting hot around the collar (and identifying with it from my own history and my own friends during this election) as people felt perfectly comfortable putting the ugliest possible spin on the most trivial and inconsequential items, beating her up, not just once or twice but at every mention for decisions that other people had made: her husband, Congress, other Dem Presidents even Republican Presidents. Even "pro-Hillary" pieces were filled with apologetic comments and praise for Bernie (if written by women) and filled with "of course she's got tons of issues and here they are again but she's better than total insanity" pieces often by men. And those are most of the pro-Hillary pieces. The anti-Hillary pieces are disgusting, beating the same dead horses, spinning everything from her clothes, her tone to the New York Times criticizing her for putting her hand over her heart when she talked. Seriously? Same week Trump is tearing into Gold Star families.

But one I read yesterday, a piece ostensibly praising Hillary, sent me over the edge. I mean I was and am so livid I wrote the bulk of this at 4 am because I couldn't go back to sleep. That's how much it pissed me off. The piece was called "Understanding Hillary: Why the Clinton America Sees Isn't the Clinton Colleagues Know" in Vox by Ezra Klein and it was the absolute pinnacle of self-congratulatory patronizing misogyny I have ever read, masquerading as an apology piece. And it's clear the author had absolutely no self-awareness of it.

Let's start by that title. Let's start by the premise that, though she had more votes than any other candidate (Trump [by nearly 3 million] or Sanders [by nearly 4 million]) this primary, we have to hear again how America can't see the real Hillary, with no awareness that, hey, maybe media's complicit in that.

In case that didn't come through, he makes sure to remind us the first four paragraphs that (a) he's not going to talk (just like every other journalist) about any of her policies or achievements, (b) will remind us (again) of her many failings we need to mention whenever her name comes up, and (c) let's not forget the focus is on why she's so unlikable that everyone's talking about and, of course, (d) she proves the media's point by being everything the media insists she is even if everyone who knows her says she's not like that. Oh, and people that meet her. And people that have studied her history. Why? Because it *has* to be her. It couldn't possibly be that *he's* prejudiced or that *he's* refusing to see her clearly. Nope, we all know, she did it herself even if those that have known her for years say differently.

He spends two paragraphs acknowledging that those that actually know her, have worked with her, think that perception is totally whacked and were angered at how people treated and perceived her that way. Of course, since he's interviewing her, let's not miss the opportunity (again) to confront her with how much people don't like her because that's not rude or unkind or in any way attacky. He actually uses this line to describe his interview with her: "As you watch this clip, remember this is a real human being — a human being who really believes she’s dedicated her adult life to helping others — trying to understand why most Americans say they don’t like her." [My emphasis]

Really? I need you to remind me that she's a real human being? That she has the effrontery to think she's dedicated her adult life to helping others just because she has? And has to be confronted in every exchange with the media on why people don't like her? 

Her response is hey people love the work I do and I get very high approval ratings when I do the job [which is absolutely and objectively true] and that she thinks, if the media constantly pounds away at someone indefinitely for years it might affect people's perception of her [as has also been shown repeatedly by studies]. His response? "I don’t buy it. Other politicians find themselves under continuous assault, but their poll numbers strengthen amid campaigns."

Yeah? Welcome to the world of women. And, hey, thanks for being part of the very process you insist isn't behind it. Since he's decided it couldn't possibly be on his side of things (and, in fact, dismisses it as absurd), let's ask the staff and colleagues and confidentes and coworkers what is it about Hillary that doesn't come through on the campaign trail.

He was amazed they all had the same answer, and it was also the same answer that argued she'd be great at governance  She listens.

Now listen to his response to this:

The first few times I heard someone praise Clinton’s listening, I discounted it. After hearing it five, six, seven times, I got annoyed by it. What a gendered compliment: “She listens.” It sounds like a caricature of what we would say about a female politician.

But after hearing it 11, 12, 15 times, I began to take it seriously, ask more questions about it. And as I did, the Gap began to make more sense.
He spends a paragraph reminding us that presidents [all men, by the way] are supposed to be great orators first and foremost, then spends three paragraphs explaining how the media scoffed at her listening tours when she was running for senator as if that was perfectly reasonable (although she won). Who would have guessed people appreciate being heard instead of just talked at? You'd think a journalist of all people would appreciate that, but then, apparently not.

Then, when he got to this part, I just about lost it.
Clinton began her 2016 campaign with a listening tour, as well, and it is worth considering the possibility that these tours are not simply bullshit. This is, to be honest, a possibility I had not really considered until speaking with past and present Clinton aides who have been forced to take their boss’s process seriously.
Take a moment and, whether you hate Clinton or not, just think about the prejudice, the patronizing in that paragraph as if a listening tour was (a) strictly a gimmick with no meaning (even though, I reiterate, she won the election for Senate with it) and (b) had any bearing on a person's ability to, I don't know, look out for the best interests of the populace because she bothered to find out what people thought. Take a minute and let that sink in. He's not apologizing for thinking they were bullshit, folks, he's implying you should be as amazed as he was that they they weren't. Who would have thought giving a shit about the actual people would be important. Damn!

He could have stopped it right there, really, on the gap. Asked and answered as well as demonstrating how it was communicated to the public by, hey, his and his media's brethren's doing it again. Their insistence giving their own preconceptions precedence over what she says and does can explain the gap right damn there.

Then he noted how she actually took those notes and comments and local articles she'd gathered from listening to people and had her staff follow through on them, actually try to get some issues resolved, actually see if there was a way to address it in her work. Unbelievable! It may sound like I'm being flippant, but his reaction comes across that way, as if the notion that real people would influence Hillary Clinton's policies and actions is beyond belief.

Then he says, "Let’s stop and state the obvious: There are gender dynamics at play here."

Y'think?

He goes on for several paragraphs on how women work vs. how men work (stereotypical but not entirely untrue either) with no apparent awareness of how everything he said before this followed exactly the same pattern. Then, of course, the obligatory praise of Sanders oratory but that Hillary was better at building coalitions (I could write a blog post on that alone, but I won't; the primary's over). In fact, after noting that her listening/coalition building skills won her the primary, he adds the also obligatory:
I want to be very clear here. I’m not saying that anyone who opposed Clinton was sexist. Nor am I saying Clinton should have won. What I’m saying is that presidential campaigns are built to showcase the stereotypically male trait of standing in front of a room speaking confidently — and in ways that are pretty deep, that’s what we expect out of our presidential candidates. Campaigns built on charismatic oration feel legitimate in a way that campaigns built on deep relationships do not.
That's right folks, just because she had far and away the most votes and most delegates, that doesn't mean she should have won. He certainly wouldn't want to credit her with it.And his perception that her campaign felt less legitimate is, he's sure, universal. What we expect. And that couldn't, in any way, be y'know, sexist. [Rolls eyes]

He then notes, surprisingly, that hey, listening might actually be a useful skill when it comes to governance. He noted that her contemporaries marveled that she listened, that she took the time and effort to learn about who they were and what they were about before they spoke (he seemed to think this was at least somewhat a gimmick, too, but an effective one instead of, hey, maybe genuine). That she learned and absorbed. Then he pointed out examples where people had come to her with legitimate concerns, she listened and enacted changes to address those concerns, not just a few times but repeatedly, impressing people who, y'know, actually cared about those issues. 

But heaven forbid we keep giving her credit for something unique she does that few if any other politicians do without telling us what's wrong with it.  This was followed up quickly by a condemnation of its effectiveness despite, of course, his unfamiliarity with it (since he didn't even think it existed before now) or the fact she's never actually been governing anyone.

He begins by noting there's a downside (which while likely true; most things have a downside), I just don't think he's qualified to say that. He says she's rarely taken tough stands as a result (which is utter bullshit. Remember universal healthcare she wanted to push through? Going to China and telling them to treat women better? Standing up against the NRA when most won't? Give me a frickin' break!) He blamed this listening on the failure of the healthcare she tried to get enacted rather than the tough fight she, as a non-legislator, had against people who resented her because of that and her gender and, let's not forget, the huge lobbying effort by the same folks that fought ACA and are still fighting it. But, sure, let's blame it on her listening. Then, of course, he brings up the Iraq war vote (which wasn't a vote for war) that 76 Senators voted for but is constantly levied against her and her alone despite the fact it wasn't an authorization for war.

But, hey, no prejudice here. No bias. Just the facts, folks.

Then, of all things, we have to go again into why she lost in 2008, all the mistakes she made to win nearly 18 million votes, at least as many as Obama did. It couldn't be that she was up against someone good (a masterful orator, for instance), whose race fired up the minority base, whose youth and idealism inspired many and made him a media darling in the primary. She won nearly as many votes by herself as the entire votes cast in the Republican primary that year for all four top contenders, but she's somehow a failure.

Just like, even now, after having won the primary, she still is. What is she doing wrong?

(Because it couldn't be us, right? It couldn't be the spin we're always putting on it. It's got to be her, right?)

She's slammed because her vision isn't sharper - so many interests represented. Because it's somehow a bad thing to incorporate support for as many different people and issues as possible instead of brushing off everything but a few pet items? Really?  He notes Robert Reich saying, "It is hard to say what she stands for because she has not singled out a few very large, very ambitious ideas on which she would like a mandate to govern." Why is that so? Why do I need a few sound bite ideas to govern well instead of nuance and understanding the intricacy, of realizing that many issues are interconnected and you can't effectively deal with one without addressing all the aspects that intersect with it. What if, I'm just throwing that out there, that's just a perception men have that, gasp, isn't actually true? What if the world is actually complex?

But Ezra Klein's ready to predict Clinton's failure as a result of it already (surprise!):
It is easy to imagine reading an article, in the third year of Clinton’s presidency, that sees this process as the root of her presidency’s failures. She could run a White House weighted down by endless meetings, fractured between too many competing priorities, riven between different advisers constantly fighting for her favor, and paralyzed by a search for common ground that Republicans won’t let her find.
Guys, I don't think you've been paying attention to women. Multitasking and addressing the subtleties, big picture and detail, is one of our strengths. But, hey, let's not forget to couch her strength in the form of a weakness (as he decried the media for doing earlier while, um, doing it himself).

Then, after explaining at length how he ignored what she said (which was absolutely accurate) and what she said she did (which was just as accurate) and what her close supporters said until (after dozens said the exact same thing) it occurred to him that maybe it was the truth, he's going to give us the skinny on why she has a problem with the press. Really, Sherlock? I'm pretty sure I can figure it out myself from your own prime example.


And he'll start off by making it all about Hillary's hatred of the press. He'll tell us what she thinks and what she feels because, apparently, as he was busy ignoring the absolute and obvious truth she and her folks were saying, he can totally read her mind. We women call that mansplaining, when men feel like they have a better handle on your motivations and thoughts than you do yourself. And it's no less charming when you see it as an intro to why Hillary and the press are often at odds. Because it primes the pump to dump it all on Hillary. Again. Of course. Couldn't possibly take responsibility for our inability to take her words and actions at face value. She's obviously a bitch for telling us stuff we refused to believe so she thinks we don't trust her. You know, 'cause we say she's untrustworthy. But, I'm jumping the gun. Perhaps he's about to present a mea culpa (ten bucks I'm right, though).

He accuses her of carelessness. Other people give speeches when they're not in office and use personal servers to get their jobs done when no other alternate exists so she foolishly does so, too. Because, hey, it's not like the press treats her with a different standard or that she thinks she should get the same damn yardstick as every-damn-body else. The nerve! After all, Trump, who talked about running in previous elections, also has given speeches at much higher price tags (which is mind-boggling in and of itself having seen his speech making), but no one has demanded an explanation or a transcript or that he prostrate himself on the altar of public opinion.

But, of course, it's all Hillary's doing, not the bloody double standard.

He's nice enough to ask her, give her the opportunity to shoulder the blame as women are supposed to do but, no, she says the media has given up being gatekeepers of the truth and are focused on what's outrageous. And it doesn't matter that what she's saying is absolutely and obviously true. He's not only disbelieving, he patronizes her that she believes it:
It comes in response to a question about her favorite books. She really does believe this.
 He gives her another chance. She gives him more absolute truth:
At another point, I asked her why trust in so many major institutions in public life — politicians, the business, the media — had fallen in recent decades. She turned immediately to the media. “I really believe that none of us have done what we should have done in being really straightforward about what we know and what we don’t know,” she said, “in being willing to say, ‘We reported that story last week; it turns out we were wrong.’”

She's absolutely right again. Story after story of inflated nonsense (as, again, he noted earlier, so much written that turned out to have no substance) across stories with tiny little retractions buried weeks later than no one talks about. His response is that there's "some of that" but she's used it as an excuse to play fast and loose with the public trust herself. Does he explain how? In what way? What's the basis for that (or in fact any of the beliefs and emotions he's ascribed to her)? Nope. We just get to assume he knows all and she's deluded herself into betraying our trust in some unknown fashion, perhaps by telling us the truth. She's a politician. Can't expect that, can you? How canny.

But, no, not sexist at all.

Then, of course, we have to go into why Republicans hate her (it can't be because she actually gets shit done and won't be cowed and stay quietly at home like they prefer or nothing. It's got to be her). They can chant "Lock her up" in their actual convention but if she says she's good at making enemies of Republicans, she's the bitch.

He sneers at her partisanship, at the fact she believes she can still get stuff done with the Republicans and then admits, when she was Senator in a very similar situation, that's exactly what she did. She (gasp!) listens to what they say, finds out what's important to them, uses it to her advantage, refuses to play grudge matches. You know, exactly what they hell she says she does. But we get to be shocked it might be true because, y'know, Hillary. Mr. Klein, while marveling at it, makes sure we know this unique ability to let bygones go by and do the work they were hired to do is somehow unhealthy. Reminds me of a Molly Ivins quote.
As they say around the Texas Legislature, if you can't drink their whiskey, screw their women, take their money, and vote against 'em anyway, you don't belong in office.
Gee, maybe Hillary just doesn't think like a male politician. It's almost like she's, y'know, a woman.

Mr. Klein, confounded (and apparently blind) to the honesty he's been shown seems clueless how acting like a woman would work for a female politician. When she's so hated.

And never once seems to notice his own fingerprint on that particular conundrum.

He might not get it. I do. The road she's paving is going to be hell, but I can't think of anyone more capable of puttin' it down. And folks like Mr. Klein will likely be the last to notice, despite the political acumen they seem so proud they have. Too bad it doesn't come with a little self-awareness.

Ezra, if you're reading, Sandy wanted you to know "Sandy Knauer Morgan approves this message"

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Busted - Bernie or Bust, what now?

>> Friday, June 10, 2016

Blank or Bust movements sound noble, don't they? I'm all in! I won't settle for anything less than it all! That's how much it means to me.

In reality, they're not so noble. I can say that. I worked as a safety engineer for years at NASA and, though I had one of the most pure jobs on site, where I got to focus on safety and nothing else (Screw cost and schedule! And science! Bring 'em back safely!), I was well aware that the people I brought my concerns to did not have it so simple. They weren't allowed to screw everything to suit me because, hey, the safest place for a rocket is on the ground, but it's not what they're for. That meant I sometimes got some of what I wanted (no, really!) and sometimes I didn't. Some times were easier to accept than others. But that's how we get stuff done. Because, if we're all safety all the time, we never leave our homes, and if we're all flying, screw safety, our program is doomed as we're pelted with broken rocket parts.

So, what does that have to do with this election? Well, it means many very passionate people and some pretty passionate people just woke up with an election bender hangover to face the reality that Bernie was not getting the nomination (if you still think that's up in the air, you're not ready for this and probably are too detached from reality to swallow it anyway). The great revolution was over or, at least, the dream of Bernie leading the Dems into a new world order was not happening this year.

Some Bernie supporters, likely those who saw the handwriting on the wall for a while, were prepared to vote Blue no matter who and, though disappointed, will be comfortable enough especially comparing Hillary to Trump (though, to be honest, there wasn't a GOP contender I could imagine swallowing - Yikes! You know the milk is rancid when Trump comes to the top). Some, while more reluctant, already can guess they'll take a shot of whiskey, stumble to the polls, and vote Hillary for the good of the world. All honor to you guys. You get the big picture and, while I understand it didn't make you happy, I appreciate you voting against the racist sexist buffoon anyway. (And a shout out to the conservatives out there who ALSO aren't willing to bring back the Third Reich and who will make the same decision. Good for you.)


Not going to address Trump's followers and the soulless GOPers who will blindly follow in lockstep. I think we've heard from them enough already.

No, today I want to address the Bernie or Bust group and I'm going to separate you into two camps.

1) Those who hate Hillary as a long list of female related expletives and violent threats - these folks are probably beyond help and should stop reading now.

2) And those who feel that Hillary can't be trusted, is too dangerous, to allow to have power. I get you hate her. I get you are sure she's crooked and willing to send young men to die in wars and stuff.

Take a moment and indulge in your hate. And then, if you can get it to cool, I want you to engage your brain.

Before I begin, I want to ask you, why is trust so important, or, in this case, MORE important for Hillary than anyone else? There's never been a politician who was able to accomplish all they promised. There has never been a president (particularly a good one) that hasn't had to compromise some of what he wanted to get something he wanted. Never do it, you get nothing. Always do it, you're a doormat. What we need is someone in between. Hillary's got a lot of baggage. Some of it one could argue she earned. Some of it was bestowed on her through the auspices of Karl Rove's clever slime machine that doesn't let little things like exoneration or debunking get in the way of churning out the same stories endlessly or planting them in heads of people who should know better. You're probably not ready to believe that, but I do want you to ask yourself something by way of motivation.

Hillary has been breaking ground for women all her life. She's been an advocate for women and children (and if you don't believe that, do some research) her entire career. She has asked this country to make her the first female president. You may not think that's a big deal, but women do, and, most importantly, SHE does. She knows also (having been under the microscope before) that every eyelash flutter, every brushing off of a GOP Benghazi-spewing cretin from her shoulder, every word, every decision will be watched with eager eyes by supporter and hater alike, that media (and the unending Rovian slime machine) will grab it, spin it, tell people what to think about it and THEIR judgements of what she does is what she'll have to live with. People don't actually judge by reality most of the time. Given that, given that she cares about her party (and the country, believe it or not), given that she cares about her gender, do you honestly think Hillary is going to get the single most powerful position in the country, perhaps the world, and turn around and prove every naysayer right for a few bucks? This woman (and her husband) gave tens of millions to charity. She could be as rich as she wanted without putting her through this hell. You think she's going to suffer for all that, just to make some fatcats happy in Wall Street? Seriously?

Still not convinced? Still think it's a tossup between Hillary and (shudder) Trump?

Okay, here are some key issues for me (and the country, even the world): what do you think Hillary will do?

Trump will add people (likely 3-4) to the Supreme Court. You think the justices he'll choose will support Roe vs. Wade? Marriage equality? Eliminating Citizen's United? Undoing gerrymandering? Civil rights? Universal healthcare? The environment? What about Hillary? Bill Clinton gave us Ginsberg and Breyer. Obama chose Sotomayer and Kagan. Those are Hillary's closest contemporaries. Do I have to remind you who Ronald Reagan chose? The Bushes? And that's not a point in time issue - that will last us for the next generation.

Trump has told us of his admiration for foreign tyrants and his intent to make friendly with them but (possibly) nuke ISIS (or Europe inexplicably) where ever it may be, torture survivors and then, of course, go out of his way to bomb the families of those ISIS folks. Do you really think Hillary is on the same plane as that? Say she's more hawkish that you are (okay, more than I as well, but I'm really pacifist), do you think she'd act as rashly as that? Hillary was, hands down, the most knowledgeable about foreign policy of any candidate. The item held against her (which was not a vote for war, by the way), was an error in judgement, not for advocating war (which she wasn't) but for trusting George W. Bush to behave honorably. Not quite the same thing. But, do you think she could possibly be as clueless and irresponsible as Trump? Really? Stop. Think. Really?

Trump has said he wants to gather up all the Muslims and separate them, maybe have them wear badges. You really think Hillary would do that, to that group or ANY religious group? Who's next, Atheists? Hindis? Quakers?

Trump has laid out a lot of nasty judgements on Latinos, Blacks, disabled people, has been endorsed by groups that target blacks and Jews and LGBT people. Do you think Hillary will support legislation that actively discriminates against them? I think that kind of legislation would get a total pass from Trump who wouldn't lift one finger to stop it, if his rhetoric is any indication. But Hillary? No, of course you don't. Not only would that be stupid but, if you'd done your homework, you'd know she'd been working against that kind of thing her entire adult life including going undercover to identify private schools that were excluding black children. Calling the mayor of Flint and asking her, "What can I do to help?"

Trump's idea for infrastructure improvement is a big wall as opposed to something useful (and hey, he's planning to use Mexican labor for that anyway). And, as for climate change, he doesn't buy it so you can bet NOTHING WILL HAPPEN on his watch, except perhaps dismantling what we've already done. Do you think Hillary will refuse to support infrastructure improvement and advances in renewable power sources? That she'll support the unsupportable practices for coal and drilling in the Arctic?  She's worked for helping people who's jobs were disappearing when she was Senator of New York; I don't see any reason to think she'd want to let the job creation trend disappear that Obama started (and Bill had going during his tenure, too). Both presidencies created far more jobs than they lost and I hope we never find out about Trump's. And what about the planet? Hillary helped Obama work with governments around the world on a climate accord.

Trump has said he will dismantle social security. Trump wants to reduce taxes for the rich. Trump has said he thinks women who get abortions should be punished. And should be judged by their looks (and put money behind that, even). Trump wants to send every immigrant back "home." Hillary was a cosponsor of the DREAM act. Trump wants to eliminate gun free zones. Well, really, the list goes on indefinitely.

Pick an issue that matters to you. Any one. And ask yourself. "What would Trump do about this?" and then ask yourself, honestly, what would Hillary do about this? And remember, a red congress would try to stop Hillary but they won't stop Trump (and vice versa).

If you can live with notion of Trump in the White House, given a totally free rein by Congress, no matter what ridiculous excess, and SCOTUS, now PICKED by Trump, giving it a free pass, not just for the next four years but for the next generation, of a President who lets that Red Congress pass laws that penalize pregnant women and minorities and immigrants, that take away school lunches and hamstring education, that eradicate healthcare, that undo marriages, that leave the most vulnerable people in this country at the mercy of Donald Trump and his brigade of haters, you can do that.

You can not vote, but then that's one less to stand against Trump. Or worse you can vote for Trump. Either way, you helped put him into office.

Just don't think you're not culpable. That's not on Hillary. That's on you.

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Hillary vs. Trump

>> Sunday, June 5, 2016

I am a Hillary supporter. I've mentioned this before and I still am. I said I would vote her for her in the primary (and I did) and naturally, I'll vote for her again in November.

(If you think the choice might be Bernie, you have been misled. The primary is over to all but the most delusional. Wait, let me rephrase that. The primary is over and, when they go to the convention, Hillary will have the most votes, the most pledged delegates, and the most superdelegates. That is reality and thinking otherwise, no matter how fervently, will not change that. Bernie had a good run; that will have to satisfy you.)

When it comes to the general election, does it occur to anyone that, especially with Trump as a competitor, the GOP has very little leverage against Hillary?

Bernie they could have attacked whole-heartedly as a "Commie bastard" out to increase EVERYONE'S taxes and a thousand other things I haven't even thought of yet and, as always, it wouldn't really matter if it were true. GOP is not bound by honesty. By the time the flood was largely debunked, Bernie would be ruined, at least for this election. I'm not a Bernie fan, and this is not an attack on Bernie; this is reality just like the delegate math. They have no limits on him as effectively fresh meat. He wasn't vetted during the primary, so they can paint him however they want and he'll have very little time to recover. We've seen the feeding frenzy before. The best thing that could have happened to his career was losing the election and saving himself the pain that goes with this kind of thing.

But Hillary's different. They've been attacking Hillary so consistently and so long, she eats their attacks for breakfast, spits 'em out and climbs on them to the next level. Most of the old stuff is so thoroughly debunked only the fanatical far-lefties and the GOP die-hards think it's true (or will at least pretend it is), the people who would do anything for an excuse not to vote for her, no matter her qualifications or opponent. And there's also that contingent (mostly male but including some misguided women) who think women just can't be President under any circumstances. For Hillary to try to get those votes is a waste of her time (and I bet she knows it), so the GOP doesn't have to do anything for that contingent.

But, they're not the majority. People point to her unfavorability rating as proof she "can't win" but there's a world of difference between wanting her to die a fiery death and maybe wondering if there might not be truth to some of the deluge of accusations against her. It's this last bunch the GOP definitely wants to keep from voting for her. They can't touch her devoted followers. They probably can't do much with the devoted "Vote Blue No Matter Who" crowd, which means the pools of voters they need to sway are moderate (of independent, liberal or conservative persuasion), the Bernie supporters and other liberals that weren't sold on her during the primary but aren't rabidly anti-Hillary, and the GOP crowd who finds themselves frightened or nauseated by Trump.

But how to sway them?

IF she hadn't been battling it out with Bernie Sanders this primary, where he and his supporters were painting her as a corporate shill and a social moderate (with the active participation of the GOP slime machine), the GOP could use the same tactic they used with Obama on her - she's too left, she's going to destroy us with her socialist ways. Under other circumstances, they could gain ground there since she's proudly said she's building on President Obama's legacy. Her very public, very detailed agenda is definitely progressive. But they can't because reminding everyone that she's really a progressive (and always has been) could bring more of Bernie's supporters to her corner.

And Bernie's attacks have likely helped sway many of the moderates to her corner that are unlikely to be unswayed when faced with Donald Trump as an alternate. Probably will get a few of the most moderate conservatives that way as well since, while progressive, none of her proposals are so extreme they'll be desperately painful in the short time. And, let's face it, many people have learned to appreciate President Obama if they're not consumed with his race.

They could try Bernie's tactic, reminding everyone she's pretty wealthy and hobnobs with the rich and famous, not a friend of the poor and middle class and corrupt because she gave speeches for $250 thousand a pop. IF she wasn't up against Trump who is a bald-faced liar (demonstrably so), hobnobs with the rich and famous since he was born that way (and loves to remind people) and hey, gave speeches for $1 M a pop (and the mind boggles at why that was a going rate given his vocabulary). Plus, of course, she's not a flaming racist misogynist buffoon. And has nicer hair if crap like that matters to you. Try taking that tactic to the debate stage, Don the Con, and you're gonna need mops for your own blood.

And that leaves the other Sander's tactic that she's too Republican, especially when it comes to defense, to be President. But, then, that didn't even work on Dems, for whom that's a bad thing, largely because it hinged on one vote that was not actually for war (however it was characterized) and a number of decisions when she was Secretary of State (made ultimately by President Obama however she saw it) that people regard as too hawkish. They might have been, but then, we'll never know if the alternatives weren't just as bad or even more destructive so it's hardly black and white. She was actively involved in an accord in Ireland, between Hamas and Israel, and the accord with Iran, which argues against the war now and under any circumstances paint they'd like to paint. Hillary calls it smart power and that's a key element and also argues something she has that absolutely no other candidate had here: in depth knowledge of these foreign circumstances. I'm not the only person who would rather, if we're going to have to have hard decisions made in volatile places in the world, have someone level-headed who understands the nuances to be making them.  But that perception, how's that going to fly with a whole heaping help of Republicans, some of them not actually insane, who have, as an alternative, Trump? Many of these people care deeply about national security (which is why they've been voting for Republicans even though the Republicans have moved further and further into crazytown on social issues). When looking at the potential nightmare of Trump at the helm of the nation's defense (and noting his bombastic insanity on those issues and cozying up to tyrants), they'll be desperate for some sanity on the subject. And Hillary has it.

The GOP can give Hillary the votes from Bernie's camp or their own, but can't attack her and avoid either. They've painted themselves into a corner.

Meanwhile, Trump, the political gift that keeps on giving, can't seem to stop himself from saying stupid, hateful or stupidly hateful things almost 24/7, giving her an endless supply of ammo for attack ads and speeches like her one on 6/2. And she doesn't have to hold back. Her worst accusations pale against his actual words. He's arguing FOR her.


At least, that's how I see it.

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New Story Published!

>> Tuesday, May 24, 2016

My new story, "Second Life," is out in the e-zine "Just a Minor Malfunction" available now for a limited time at $0.99!

My story, "Second Life," is set aboard a space station so I get to use actual rocket science expertise and I allow a little bit of sleuthing for the biologically minded. With people trapped forever in space, finding yourself confronted with what might be an epidemic has got to be terrifying, especially since insanity comes with it. I hope you'll check it out

Chuck Larlham
is in there, too, and a number of other awesome science fiction stories. In fact, it's one of the best collections of hard science fiction I've read in a long long time, so I'm proud to be part of it. Something for everyone, folks!

It's a steal right now. If you like science fiction or just being entertained, well worth your dollar.

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Single Parent Appreciation on Mother's Day

>> Wednesday, May 4, 2016



So I was talking to my sister several states away and she was telling me about some of her Mother's Day plans, doing stuff that's good for her (which I applaud) and she said, "So, what are you doing?"

"Me? I'm likely hanging at home with the kids, mothering. What day is it even on?"

Now, don't think I'm complaining about my sister—I'm all for her having fun. She works hard with her kids (homeschooling) and does a jillion other things besides. She totally earns her fun. And, while I'm a single mother, I have a good salary and a job that is very flexible so that I can take care of them without serious hardship.

But it got me to thinking. Because it's different for single mothers, especially those with younger children you can't just leave the kids hanging around the house while you get your nails done. That's not anyone's fault, but, having spent some years being part of a pair of parents and some years being a single mother, the difference is easy to forget (I didn't think about it when I was married). And it's always a good time to remember.

So, that's what this is, a reminder for those of us who do have someone to share the burden with and even those, like me, that have it relatively cushy: single parents have it rough.


There are few jobs more thankless than being a parent. When she has a partner, he (or she) might appreciate what she does. Someday (probably far in the future) her kids might, as well. But, for single parents (and I include both mothers and fathers since they both have to do double duty) now, it's all hustle and bustle and jostling and rearranging priorities as challenges come her way and often she, herself, is perpetually at the bottom of the list.

When one is a single parent, there's no one else to load the dishwasher or clean up the cat puke or fold the laundry or run to the store. And, if she has to do the latter, she has to take the kids with her if she can't do it while they're in school. If one of her kids is sick, there's no one to take care of the other ones. Or if she is. She's a living breathing single point failure waiting to happen and no one knows it more than she does. When my son was in the hospital, I was in a world of hurt dragging friends in to help so someone could watch my daughter while my son was in the ER. And then the hospital.

Scary doesn't even begin to describe it.

A single parent is on duty or on call 24/7 and for many of you working minimum wage or with crazy shuffling hours, my heart truly bleeds for you. I literally can't imagine how you do it because it's all I can manage and I have it easy.

So, what's my point? First to say, thank you guys, for all of you single parents doing your damnedest with half the resources you need. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for those things you just can't do.

But, secondly, to those of you who *aren't* single parents but know someone who is, whether it looks like a struggle or not, this is a great time to help them out (actually any time is). Doesn't have to be money or expensive. Flowers are nice, candy, a card. By all means. But, if you really want to give her (or him) something that won't cost you much but will be more precious than you can imagine, donate the thing they need most. TIME.

Want to take her to get her nails done? Have your teenage niece watch the kids or stay and let her have the afternoon to herself.

Get her a massage and watch the kids while she's gone. Send her to the movies. Let her take a damn nap. Give her a few hours uninterrupted.

Take her kids to the zoo. Wear 'em out while she does her taxes or reads a novel or sits by the pool without kids around.

For those of you who have generally had someone else around to help (or never had kids) you literally can't imagine what a boon that is, what it means, what it's worth. Date night is often important for married couples—they need that alone time—we forget single parents need it, too.

If time is in short supply, drop by with a dinner she doesn't have to cook. Swing by for a half hour of adult conversation she hasn't had. Tell her what a good job she's doing.

Because, chances are, she often has a hard time believing it. Too many of us only see our flaws, especially when there's no one to point out our strengths.

So, this mother's day, if you know someone struggling alone, take a minute to remind them. And, hey, why not make it a habit all year round?

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So, I sold a short story to a new e-zine of hard science fiction

>> Saturday, April 30, 2016

That's independent to an unusual degree. But, you know, I'm pretty avant garde myself. Looks like I'll be in the first issue of Just A Minor Malfunction along with my good writing buddy, R. C. Larlham. So, fun will be had for everyone.

I'm actually rather excited as it's set in a science fiction setting I'd been planning (and am still planning) to write a novel in, only this is more a prequel. Thing is, I'm so in love with my characters in this new short story, Second Life, I may have to make room for them in the novel.

But then, I do love a challenge. If you're interested in reading my story, Chuck's or any of the other stories gathered, check it out.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/just-a-minor-malfunction-sci-fi-short-stories--2#/

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Why I'm Voting for Hillary in the Primaries

>> Sunday, February 7, 2016


Photo courtesy of Hillary for Iowa
 

Before I get started on a political topic (which is always touchy), let me remind you of a few things: (a) this is my opinion and not a condemnation of anyone else's views, (b) favoring Hillary is not an attack on Bernie, (c) if you favor a GOP candidate, there's really nothing for you here, and (d) this a blog, not a democracy so if your comment isn't contributing to the discussion reasonably, I'll delete it without apologies. That includes bashing candidates in ways that accomplish nothing and bringing forth any conservative propaganda talking points. Be as naive as you want, but not on my blog. If you want to talk issues or my specific points, by all means, but I'm not going to take abuse, dish it out, or allow it to go on in my comments unchecked. This is not kindergarten. Grow up.

Before I get started, let me explain who I am and where I'm coming from. I am 48 years old. I have a background in science, rocket science, engineering and writing. Politics has been something I ignored far too long. I have long had liberal views on a number of issues, but I was never much of one for labels (I'm still not). When it came to voting (at a much later age than it should have), I didn't pay very much attention. That changed after I ignorantly and thoughtlessly voted for George W. Bush. It hadn't even warmed here in Houston before I was aghast at what we had wrought. My vote wouldn't have changed anything here in Texas, but I hadn't done research, hadn't thought it through, hadn't cared enough to pay attention and vote appropriately. I was part of the problem. I would not be part of the problem again.

What that means is, when people who have been working these issues (on the left) for decades, marching and caucusing and speaking out and making calls for what they believe in, say I haven't been there like they have, they're not wrong. And I respect that. It also means that I'm far more careful to pay attention and do my homework before I form opinions about issues and about candidates. Also, the argument that one can learn from even the most heinous mistakes of the past resonates with me because I've been there. More than once.

So, what do I like about Bernie Sanders? Lots of stuff. He's fighting for many issues that matter to me and he always has. Not all of them, mind you, but several. He's something of a purist and somewhat passionate and I'm cool with that. I totally agree that money and politics is a bad mix and I appreciate that, at least with intent, that's what he tried to do and tried to keep the focus on issues. I believe he genuinely joined in to get his message out without the intent to torpedo his own pet issues or jeopardize having someone liberal in the White House (and there are many who feel differently, but it doesn't change my vote either way). He appears generally true to his beliefs in many ways, even if he isn't the saint that some would have us believe.

But there are things I don't like. Some of the issues that matter a great deal to me appear to be low priority to Bernie (and won't be fixed with his inequality plans). I know he thinks those measures to improve the world for the middle class will fix it all given he tends to describe the post WWII years as if it was a utopia as the middle class grew in power and influence, but women and minorities saw very little of those benefits; they were, in fact, left all but behind until they took action themselves in the sixties. He may have forgotten that rather egregious oversight; they have not. I don't like his slow response on guns or his lack of expertise on foreign affairs (a substantial portion of the President's responsibility). Foreign policy is something a clever President can really use to our advantage as President Obama has demonstrated.

I don't like demonizing any group of people, even the filthy rich. There are clearly greedy assholes out there who care nothing for regular people but that is not true of all of them and it's misleading to do so. When people get passionate on the basis of hate, it makes me uncomfortable.  That's dangerous.

He has not been vetted and the very fact that he hasn't been raked across the coals at this point tells me two things: (1) we have no idea how he'll react to the kind of pressure and nastiness that both President Obama and, for far longer, Hillary Clinton have withstood (with poise, I might add) and (2) that the Republican slime machine either thinks he has no chance or is positive they can take him out without trouble else they'd have started in already. I hope we never find out, but, if we do, I hope their confidence is misplaced. I've noted, that, if I were a hard core Bernie supporter, I'd be very unnerved by the silence because the purer and more perfect he's seen to be (and some are already saying no one's attacked him because there's nothing to attack - which is desperately naive and almost certainly wrong), the harder he will fall if someone uses the right spin. Look how they swift-boated Kerry, using his own heroics to attack him. Substance is not necessary. After all, the GOP hasn't been a big one for substance for the past few decades, preferring inference, innuendo and boldfaced lying.

I am also disturbed by his tendency to act as though he's the only person who's been fighting for the issues he cares about, in government, in the legislature, anywhere. It's not like he's been alone in this, but you'd never know it to listen to him. And he's been pretty dismissive to the others fighting the same fight he has, including our current President and many Democrats that are his colleagues. Despite the executive nature of the Presidency, it really isn't a one person show and anyone who hasn't learned that from watching President Obama the past eight years really hasn't been paying attention. And, Bernie's agenda is almost exclusively legislative, which argues where he is (and has been) in a much better place to put it into action. If he could rally his fellow legislators. Instead, only two legislators have endorsed him, and that's a pretty telling marker to me on how well he will be able to able to push them to back his more extreme plans.    

None of this makes him a monster. But these are legitimate concerns about anyone who strives to be President.

I will admit also that, people of the liberal variety who are dismissive of what President Obama has done, distance themselves from him, and, most tellingly, show no sign of having learned anything from his presidency are unlikely to convince me their ideas will succeed where his efforts did not.

Which brings us to Hillary Clinton, a woman I was aware of but only peripherally prior to 2008. Most of what I'd heard, I'd heard through the media so, as you might expect, it was almost entirely mud. And, in 2008, I still wasn't digging in deep. I liked Obama almost from the start and never really looked past that (and I can't say I'm sorry I voted for him, though, again, it made no difference here in Texas). But, it was also the first contest where I saw the GOP slime machine in full swing first at Hillary and then at President Obama, not only during the election but afterwards, for what started as months and turned into years, never letting up. The insinuations and sneering were everywhere, but without anyone hating on him being able to come up with concrete reasons, just flimsy allegations of wrongdoing that I could debunk with a few minutes of research. I came to really respect President Obama, not just because of his tremendous accomplishments against non-stop ugliness and obstructionism, but because of how he never seemed to lose his love for this country or lose sight of what mattered most to him, how he remained true to himself, though I'm sure there are decisions he wished he hadn't had to make.

I learned.

So, when Hillary came in again, I realized that I didn't know much about her except the mud I'd seen, but, here she was, still strong. President Obama had trusted her in his cabinet and she had gone to help him, even after a tough and undoubtedly disheartening primary. Both those facts  mattered to me. So, I started slogging through the mud, finding out what, if anything had substance and I found out very little except a few votes she either regretted or I wouldn't have chosen (Obama and Bernie have them, too) and some choices her husband made that she gets dinged for. But I could understand how those decisions were made at the time. I tell my kids all the time, "You can't always get what you want." I don't know why anyone thinks it's different in the White House, especially after watching our President have to compromise again and again to get things done (with his own side, too, I might add. Dems aren't sheep or soldiers walking in lockstep).   

I watched her poise and good temper when the Republicans (who never really retired her slime machine), cranked it to full speed. It's not because I think she "deserves" the White House for all she's been through (I think the Presidency is a hell job, myself), but it says something about her that she can withstand it without losing herself or her principles. Many people (like Obama) we never saw tested. I read about her accomplishments, not just from her supporters, but by unbiased sources like votesmart and others. And I recognized many of the mannerisms required to succeed by strong women in her just as I've cultivated them in myself and other women of accomplishment in my field (where I don't think women take near the pounding they take in politics).  I've seen her take pride in President Obama's accomplishments, some done with her, and promise to build on them, a plan I admire. I've read about her crusades from before they were popular, when they only hurt her politically, that she never flinched from, and those that scarred her, but didn't stop her. Looking objectively at her past, I've seen her grow, change tactics, learn from her friends and her enemies, learn from President Obama (and probably taught him a bit). Fight smarter. I'm all about that, let me tell you.

I find it telling that, while many are cool and grudging on her public persona, the people who most admire her are the people who really know her. It's not always that way (as I discovered when reading about Bernie) and I think that says a great deal on who you really are.

She's not perfect. She's supported things, particularly in the past, I wish she hadn't. Made mistakes, changed her views on things, cozied up to banks and big business, made a show at least of being hawkish, and I'm pretty pacifist. But very few of those things are black and white. Being able to work with big business is far from a bad thing; it's being owned that's bad and that I haven't seen that. Some people are certain that she is, but I'm not convinced. And I won't be without hard data and I mean more than one or two data points, because there's a pretty impressive voting record that backs her and says she is more than all talk.  As for those data points, I know damn well I've made mistakes and learned from them. I'm not about to tell anyone else they can't. And it's pretty frickin' clear to me she's never stopped learning. I respect the hell out of that, too.

She gets that she's going to need legislative Dems on her side (and have locked up a large number of their endorsements as well as many governors'). She's also shared some of her campaign funding to help in other Dem races and that's damn crucial for whoever ends up in the White House. On the foreign policy side, we have no one anywhere running for President with a fraction of her expertise (not just experience, expertise). And it does matter that she's a woman, not just because women are under-represented (badly) in government but because women of accomplishment have an inkling of what it takes for women to get and keep power in a cutthroat world.

And I've seen that stigma that still haunts women, in people insisting she must be dishonest or unlikable based on her "tone." On Bernie getting tons of credit for not going negative and sticking with issues while she gets none at all for doing exactly the same thing and continuing to do so even when some of his troops and even he got a bit personal. Now that I'm looking for it, it's not hard to spot.

I will vote for either one that gets the nomination. I truly believe that either will try to do the right thing from that position whereas I'm confident that no one on the GOP side will do anything but amp up the rape and pillaging of our country and any other country that strikes them. The mind boggles as the potential harm.

But I'm voting for Hillary in the primary. For reasons I noted, but really because, in some ways I identify with both Bernie and Hillary, but not the same way. I identify with Hillary as a human being who cares, who has made mistakes and has learned from them, who is held to a different standard but still excels in her chosen field.  Bernie, I identify with as a purist because I'm rather one myself.  I am someone who, in the human space industry, distinguished herself as a safety engineer. And safety engineers are purists, focused ideally on safety and willing to stop everything else if it's just not safe enough. We have the luxury of not having to juggle schedule and cost and performance, and goals and crew time and limitations, etc. We get to focus on just safety and the program needs us to do that because safety can get lost when you're juggling so many things.

But.

You don't put us in charge because the safest place for a rocket is on the ground. And if you want to accomplish something, if you want to actually conquer space, you have to take some chances. You've got to juggle priorities and necessities, you gotta get your hands dirty and make tough choices, accept some risks, let some things go. You've got to hold tight to your goals, try to always work to the good while never letting all those important balls you're juggling drop.

The Presidency is not a purist's job.

So, with no regrets and no hesitation, I'll be voting for Hillary.
   

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