Just a Little Wicked releases today, and I'm in it!

>> Saturday, March 20, 2021



I signed up for a bunch of anthologies where stories (as long as novella length) will be bundled up with others. Some are for charity; some are for profit. All are fun.

This is the first, a collection of witchy tales for those of us who like to see the full gamut of witchy wonders. Here's an excerpt my story, "Best Witch in Town":  

Sylvia took another sip, grimaced, and slammed the cup back into the saucer. "You have to do something about that crazy cat. She knocked the card right out of my hand. My reading was ruined."

"Was it?"

"I did not tell him what he wanted to know. He needed reassurance."

May tsked. "Sometimes, you cannot give them what they want. They pay for truth."

Sylvia huffed and blew a perfect lock from her face. "What would they know about truth? You know nothing about business."

May's sunken lips twisted into a little smile. "True enough, Sylvia."

Sylvia stepped closer to a wavery mirror, ancient and made with blown glass, to admire herself. "This mirror is worthless."

May said nothing, though the ancient mirror was technically priceless and she'd been offered more than one fortune for it.

Pouting, Sylvia leaned on the counter and a huge black cat with tufted ears and long luxurious fur rubbed against her. She made a sound of disgust and pushed it away. "I don't know why you insist on filling my shop with all these fuzzy monsters when you know I'm—I'm –achoo!"

"You're not wearing the medicine bag I made you," May said, gathering up the huge cat in her arms and cooing to him.

"That pouch of herbs? I'm not wearing that. I told you. It's ugly and it smells funny."

May sighed. "And you needn't be mean to Beltane. He's the only one that likes you."

"More fool him." She glanced around the shop and nodded at the more obvious depleted stock, notably some soft cotton dresses in flowing fabrics imported from India, several nice silver jewelry pieces, and a statue of a dragon that had graced the entryway for nearly a year. May was already limping around the shop, pulling out additional dresses and jewelry from the cupboards behind the counter. "I see you sold that stupid dragon. I told you it would never sell. I can't believe someone bought it."

"You were right. I gave him to someone who needed him."

Sylvia shook her head with a tinkle of jewelry. "You gave it away? Who in the world needs a dragon statue?"

"Joe did. I knew someone would," May said placidly, hanging more of the dresses on the hangers.

"Whatever. I'm glad to be rid of the eyesore. This is the list of spells I was asked to cast. Write up the invoices after you restock. Did we sell anything expensive?"

May set down the box of jewelry and fished a notebook from behind the till. "A few things. I made a list," May said, handing her a notebook and taking the single sheet of paper Sylvia offered her. May looked over the list of spells and her skinny brows rose. "You didn't actually agree to a death hex? Spells like this have a karmic backlash that you can't just shrug off.".

"None of your business," Sylvia said. She looked over the notebook, snorted, and tossed it back. "Good thing I'm making money, or this place would go under in a week. And I heard you severely discount that necklace earlier."

"She needs it and only had enough to pay a hundred. She'll come back soon enough."

You can buy it right now for just 99 cents. http://smarturl.it/JustALittleWicked


Twice the Man is OUT!

>> Sunday, March 24, 2019

My Bete novels are among my best received. Not because they're sort of but not entirely YA while still appealing to adults (and I've had almost no one but adults read them). Not because they have adventure. And romance. And science. And magic. And a broken spaceship. And some of the best snarky banter in town, especially my bad-ass venomous snarky shipcats. Okay, maybe it is the shipcats.

And now, finally, I have finished the original intended trilogy with each of the original three best friends taking center stage in turn. Of course, none of the books were a one-man show, but the ensemble cast aspect, where half a dozen and more players have big parts, has become more pronounced with each successive book.  And I love it.

I may come back to my little world of castaways. We still have flooding there and a sentient arthropod out in the depths of the ocean not to mention that unexplained wormhole. But I tied up the most current stories, just like I promised. For a series that inspired by a manga/anime and written with my now adult daughter in mind (who never read it, ironically), I have  had a world of fun with the Bete series, and I hope you do, too. If you want to find them all, you can find them on my website. 

Here's an excerpt:
As if breathing in her essence woke her, Rem felt someone stir against his chest. How she always ended up curled on his chest, he didn't know. But he loved it. "How are you feeling?" he managed to ask, hoping he hadn't blasted her with death breath.
"Could you just kill me?"
"No can do, beautiful. And that was something I thought I'd never say."
"I am not beautiful, but, given what happened to me when I opened my eyes, I don't suggest you find out for yourself."
"I don't need my eyes to know you're beautiful," Rem said, chancing a little squeeze.
"I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but I don't feel up to flirting. Or fending off flirting. Or, in fact, breathing."
"Flirting is the best reason I've come up with since I woke up for breathing, though I have morning breath that could kill a badger-boar at ten paces."
"Not true," she said, stirring in a more determined way and levering herself into a sitting position. "You'd have to get, I don't know, within arm's length."
Rem chuckled and then used his freed arm to grab at his head. The pain had not abated one iota.
"Rem," Sinda said, lowering her voice to an intent whisper. "Try to teleport out of here. Now while no one's watching."
Rem, who had still not opened his eyes, used all of his consciousness to visualize Cil and will himself there. The pain neither abated nor increased. But he went nowhere. He willed himself to grow, to become his other form, but, if there was even the slightest change, he could not detect it.
"No joy, eh?"
"None at all," he whispered. "What now? I'd ask my talent, but I don't have one anymore."
He felt a slap on his arm, hard enough he opened his eyes without thinking, then reeled a couple of moments.
"Don't you ever," she hissed, "talk like that again. If you start moaning that you're worthless, I will totally lose my temper. I can't shift into anything and I haven't exhibited even one tiny talent, but you think I'm worthwhile. And you're right! Because I'm smart and capable and don't just curl up and die when challenged. And neither do you. Last time you had an impossible problem, you developed a new talent instantly. Not that I'd turn it away today but say that doesn't happen."
"You don't understand," he said.
"Yeah, boo-hoo. Grieve later, we got stuff to do. Gonna give up, let the bad guys win, fall all to pieces just because you're down to the same set of tools the rest of us humans have? If you do, I'll know your tolerance of humans was a lie from the beginning as well as every word of admiration you've ever given me."
"That's not fair!"
"I've heard you and Xander say that no one is superior to anyone else, that there isn't Prime and sub-Prime and, I presume, humans a step below that. If you truly believe that, you need to snap out of it. I get that losing a super-cool set of tools to play with is a bummer, but we don't have time for that. You have all the gifts of the smartest humans I know. Use 'em and let's figure out a way out of this mess, and, yes that may mean never getting your powers back. I promise, if you help find a way free, I'll let you wallow in your disappointment for two whole weeks, but only when we have the time to spare."
Rem had put his hand over his abused eyes, but he lifted it to regard Sinda through one eye. She really was wrong. She was still beautiful. "If I come up with a way out of this and it works, will you take my interest in you seriously? Treat me enough like a grownup that I have a chance to woo you?"
"Woo?" she went into a peal of laughter. "We're surrounded by hostiles who have purged the magic out of everyone, we are facing death, torment, or enslavement, and you want to woo me?"
"What better time will I ever have?"
"I'll tell you what, loverboy. You figure a way out of this and make it work, and I'll totally date, or go out, or whatever you kids call it these days. I'd seal it with a kiss right now, but I think the state of our mouths would kill us both."
Since they were both sitting, she was within delightful reach. "I'm willing to risk it."
He slid his hands up her arms, and, to his intense satisfaction, she blushed. But then she pushed his hands away. "C'mon, c'mon, woo later, solve problems now."
"Aww," Danai said, obviously enjoying the romance. Silly kid. Rem chuckled and given how protective Kert was of her, Rem figured she'd find out about romance first hand soon enough.
He sat back against the corner of the wagon, pleased that the horrific after-effects of the dart were starting to recede. Or maybe it was Sinda. Either way… "Well, we don't have the upper hand." Rem looked through the wagon sides, counting wagons and what people he could see of the natives and the exiles. "Looks like there are more of us. Everyone from the upper camp and most of the crew and teachers from the lower camp as well as the Bete that were there and the older teenagers.  Maybe two hundred of us versus a hundred or so of them, if there aren't more in hiding. Probably, half are sleeping while the rest keep watch, I don't think any are missing. Or not many."
"Looks like most of the exiles are here so they're about half native and half the guys we kicked out. But then there are the wolves and I think that's their biggest advantage. That makes escape challenging as well as being a physical threat.  Also, we have been drugged and are still disoriented from having our skills ripped away. They are armed and know the area, which we don't, so the advantage is still on their side. And, they can communicate whereas we can't."
"Plus, they're ruthless while we still have our humanity," Sinda added, a little grimly. It surprised Rem. She was usually pretty tolerant with different cultures, but she looked positively murderous. Perhaps the double dose of dart had seriously impaired her good nature. Most likely, her antagonism wouldn't last, but she had it now.
"That's not always an advantage," Rem said. "People who think like a sword tend to (a) think of things in terms of black and white and (b) think everyone else thinks the same. No nuance. Nuance can be useful."
Sinda took in a breath and released it carefully. "Sounds like something I would have said myself. You're too smart by half, loverboy."


Call for Submissions to a Charity Anthology

>> Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Call for Submissions for an anthology highlighting the capabilities and contributions of disabled people in science fiction. This will be a charity anthology with the proceeds and any royalties donated to the Special Olympics. We welcome involvement from disabled authors or those that would be interested in beta reading the final anthology.

Genre: is geared toward science fiction, however, science fantasy, urban fantasy, space opera, other types of fantasy and speculative fiction are  also acceptable as long as we're focused on now or the future instead of ancient history. Other planets and non-human characters are acceptable. Dark fantasy/SF and horror are also acceptable as long as disabled heroes are not turned into victims.

Theme: The main characters must be disabled and succeed through their own efforts and without normalizing (i.e. undoing their disabilities with technology). This book is about celebrating the people who exist today and making them represented in the future.

Age level: should be no racier than PG 13 and YA is not precluded but we will not be targeting a YA or underage audience.

Length: 1500-7500 words

Deadline: All submissions should be received no later than November 30, 2018 with expectation of a February 2019 publication date.

Send submissions to stephanieebarr at Dragonfaeriecreative dot org with the subject "Disabled Heroes"

Format: Word .doc/.docx file, 1" margins, 12-14pt Times (or other serif font), double-spaced, contact info and word count on first page, running header w/name, title, page #, etc. The usual stuff. And please include your name and the story title in the filename. I will accept reprints if you (a) have the rights and (b) it fits our criteria.

Please edit your story carefully. We're all busy indie authors and will not take the time to help you rewrite your work into something that works for us. Please make an effort to send something in finished form that meets the criteria we've set.

Title and cover are not yet finalized.

You can find out more on facebook by joining: https://www.facebook.com/groups/disabledheroes/


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.


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.


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.


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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