Friday, January 12, 2018

Make a Difference on January 16!

Last year we marched.  This year we vote.

And we can start to turn the tide in our state legislature on Tuesday, January 16.  Cindy Boatwright is running for South Carolina House District 99.

District 99: From Hanahan and Goose Creek to Mount Pleasant

You can find out if you are in District 99, and where you should go to vote here.

This is a great opportunity to start to move our legislature, and our state, forward.  2018 is going to be a year that Democrats can go from almost winning to moving from red to blue.

And why is this important?

2020 will be the next census year.  Republicans knew in 2010 that control of state legislatures was critical to controlling Congress, because that is typically who determines district lines after the census.  By turning a few key races red, republicans were able to create district maps to favor their own party.  This is done by packing a few districts with Democrats, and spreading out republicans across more districts.

This is how my own District 1 became District 6, so that my vote would be cast for the overwhelmingly elected Jim Clyburn, and I would not be able to vote in a potentially more contested District 1 (against Mark Sanford).  Here is how the 2012 gerrymandering in South Carolina is explained by Daily Kos:

  Proposed South Carolina non-partisan congressional map.
Interactive version • District summary stats
Drawn by: Republican governor and legislature
Intended to Favor: Republicans
Delegation: 1 Democrat, 6 Republicans
2012 Vote: Obama 44, Romney 55
Summary: Republicans effectively maximized their seats
Net Change: Democrats gain one seat
There is no need for the VRA 6th District to contain parts of both Charleston and Columbia, as this was solely done to pack Democrats. By dropping Columbia from the 6th, the metro area fits neatly into the 2nd District. It is possible to draw the 6th without any part of Charleston in it, but this causes the 7th District to become quite ugly. Furthermore, the 1st would still lean Republican even with all of Charleston.
The impact of this map is that the 6th remains strongly Democratic, while the party gains the 2nd District. Republican Rep. Joe Wilson had a relatively poor performance even in 2010 in his gerrymandered district after the incident where he shouted "You lie!" at the president during a speech before Congress. It is highly unlikely that Wilson would have been able to win a seat Obama carried by 3.2 percent. All five of the other seats would remain strongly Republican.

(from Daily Kos, June 17, 2015) 

But that is only one reason to get out and vote on Tuesday.  The other important reason is the candidate and where she stands on the issues.

Cindy Boatwright has specific plans to correct the problems in our state.  From fighting corruption in state government to taking on the opioid epidemic, from improving education to making our streets, homes and schools safe from gun violence, from protecting our environment while creating incentives for small businesses, Cindy knows what will work and what will improve our lives in South Carolina.

By comparison, Nancy Mace, who unsuccessfully primaried Lindsey Graham in 2014, actually ran against President Obama.  In other words, she is a right-wing republican who will say whatever it takes to win.  On actual issues, she really doesn't have any new ideas.  Scratch the surface of her concerns about issues from environment to education and you will find Donald Trump and the republican party:  deregulation and low taxes, while cutting protections for workers and safety nets for seniors and the poor.

While her statements on the issues remain vague, one thing is certain:  Nancy Mace will work hard to get ahead in the republican party.

If you are thinking about not going out to vote, let me assure you, your vote counts.  In Virginia, a house seat was lost by one vote, resulting in continued control of the House by republicans.

Let us not be shaking out heads and saying to one another on Wednesday, "So close...."

There will be lots of people who you know who have no idea there is an important election on Tuesday.  There will be others who don't know the candidates or the issues.  This is your chance to make a difference here in South Carolina, and in your community.  Spread the word, and get out and vote.



SC House District 99

Tuesday, January 16

Last Year We Marched.  This Year We Vote!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Bigger Than Yours

Yesterday and today the twitter world, as well as major media like The New York Times, is all abuzz with the words of a really stupid, sexually inadequate bully.  The fact that those words have the power of the presidency of the United States behind it is shameful.

Despite the media's vows after the 2016 election to be more responsible in their reporting, it is impossible to tune into any media outlet, social or otherwise, without be overwhelmed with the obsession with Donald Trump.  And it's not that they are uncovering anything new.  It is the same crap with different names, the same strutting with different symbols for the same miniscule body part.

Yesterday he was demanding an investigation of Huma Abedin.  He continues to insist on investigating James Comey and Hillary Clinton, just as shortly after being sworn in he insisted that Barack Obama be investigated for wiretapping White House phones.  These insane accusations are not just the rants of an insane world leader -- which they are.  They are also the kind of attacks a bully makes when he is most afraid of being caught.

Sadly, this bullshit has had the effect of capturing headlines and focusing editorials and panels on the absurd tweets and ruminations on what this all means.  We have spent hours going over whether Donald Trump has deep motives and intentions, whether there is something going on in the big head that houses that tiny reptilian brain other than diverting attention away from his own crimes and the fear of being caught.

Donald Trump did not start attacking innocent people with ridiculous accusations when he took that escalator on June 16, 2015.  He has spent his entire life deflecting questions about his own adequacy by attacking others, at times seemingly at random.  This year we have seen it in all its absurdity as he has flattered, then attacked allies like Michael Flynn and Jefferson Sessions, and attacked, then flattered opponents like Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney.  People like James Comey and Robert Mueller have been in and out the swinging door of Donald Trump's good graces so many times they must have to check the headlines on a daily basis to see where they stand.

Anyone who has the power to come close to exposing him gets the full force of his abuse of presidential power, beginning with Sally Yates and currently with Robert Mueller.  He has used the legal system in this country to threaten lawsuits to keep at bay prosecution of his own illegal activity, from dirty business dealings to sexual harassment. 

I am feeling like I have already fed into his narcissism by going on about what we have been witnessing for far too long.  The fact is that people like Steve Bannon and Paul Ryan have been steering this presidency and the course of our country while we have been watching Trump have tantrums.  We have a judiciary that is being taken over by radical right-wing extremists.  We have environmental safeguards and worker rights being dismantled by deregulation.  And we have the rich getting richer on the backs of the rest of us, who were already struggling as health care and education deteriorated.

The man who is incapable of telling the truth has led us to a state of exhaustion.  The kind of exhaustion that leads us to want to escape or to attack.  Where the leader lies non-stop by indiscriminately calling others liars, we may wonder why we should be so concerned with facts.  In 2018, election season may see us attacking each other rather than those who are truly the enemies of our democracy.  Where emails and Facebook posts may come from white nationalists or Russian trolls, where republicans determined to push through their long dreamed of right wing agenda send sincerely deceptive messages, we may end up slugging each other and spreading misinformation.

My hope for 2018 is that those of us who hunger for a return to democratic government stay true to our values.  That we think before we tweet.  That we debate our opponents with passion, but also with facts and that we argue issues rather than fire off attacks on personality or innuendo.  That we don't hide behind safe positions that in the end will hurt the weaker among us.

Let us not pit those of us with democratic values one against the other with cruel and meaningless argument.  Let us support candidates who will fight for us all.  The fascism of the Trump administration has brought us together in ways we did not think possible a year ago.  We have seen it happen with elections in Alabama and Virginia.  If we can continue to fight together against greed and tyranny, we can win back our democracy.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Creepy Congress

Corrupt, sleazy liars.  We could all go on and on.  It has reached a point these days, between sexual harassment and blatantly stealing from the American people to add millions to their donors' wealth, that words fail me and I have had to resort to verbal emoticons:

Ugh.  Yuch.  Blech.  Euwww.

It is really inconceivable that Mitch McConnell has been able to get away with bending and breaking rules so flagrantly.  But it is happening.  Congress is now made up of salivating dogs that haven't even swallowed their tax cuts and are already sniffing for the next meals, Social Security and Medicare.

Gross.  Disgusting.  Sick.

And as if raping our country wasn't enough to turn our insides, we have lately been forced to confront what every-damn-body knows about men's scorn for women.  And Democrats, no surprise, are complicit.

So let me just vent a little about what we have all known as acceptable behavior until now, and just how STUPID it is.

Men continue to treat women nursing babies as though they are committing a dirty act, and don't allow it in public.  That asshole contaminating our White House actually made a point of being grossed out because Hillary needed a bathroom break during a debate.  But apparently it is a THING for men to lounge around their offices without their pants on.  After all, LBJ lowered that bar by insisting that staff talk to him while he was on the toilet, with the door opened.  Although, to my knowledge, it was just male staff to whom he was giving the benefit of his full perspective.

What the fuck are they thinking?

It's funny -- not haha funny but sad, pathetic funny -- that I heard no one during the debates about John Conyers and his need to allow his private parts to breathe, wonder why the hell he didn't lock his damn door.

African Americans have known all along that white folk behaved as though they were inconsequential, invisible.  And that that behavior was intended to put them in their place.  Women, we need to recognize that men have been doing that to us.

From the coining of the words mansplaining to manspreading, the younger generation of women has been letting us know that they have caught on.  Panels of old white men making laws about our genitals and reproductive systems is obscene.  More important, it reinforces the message that they know better than us, and reminds us in no uncertain terms that they are in charge.

So it really shouldn't have come as a surprise that Trent Franks had asked female staff about inseminating them, offering money for the service.  What IS surprising is that it was only when the women were concerned that he was talking about sex, not artificial insemination, that they decided to go to the House Ethics Committee.  Because, after all, asking a member of your staff to impregnate themselves for you without sex would have been okay.

What the #MeToo movement has done is shown in more ways than we could have ever comprehended, how not just overtly sexual but also ridiculously inappropriate behaviors have shamed and stifled women.

We have indeed only scratched the surface of the sexism that kept Hillary out of the White House.  I am glad that the accusations of sexual harassment by creepy Matt Lauer led to us all taking a second long look at his condescension and bullying of Hillary Clinton during a candidates' forum.  But what of Chuck Todd, who could not say a critical word about Donald Trump without stating that Trump and Hillary were the most disliked candidates in history; of course, much of the distrust of Hillary came not from any proof ("I don't know why; I just don't trust her") but from comments like those of Chuck Todd.

And, women, we have to stop making excuses.

I had a really hard time with Al Franken.  My excuse: the incident happened before he was senator, and his whole schtick had been pushing the edge.  In fact, Leeann Tweeden accepted Franken's apology as sincere and stated it had not been her wish to have him removed from office.  And, except for the stupid and gross behavior that he sees as comic and women see as, well, stupid and gross, he is an amazing progressive senator who has stood strong for women's rights.

That's where all this gets tough.  We have lost Franken in the Senate and may well end up with the homophobic pervert Roy Moore.  And let us not forget the sexual predator that is contaminating the White House.

So I suggest that:

1.  We keep talking.  There are no right and wrong answers.  Not yet.  There will always be fuzzy lines, but there can be a lot more clarity, as long as we keep insisting on being heard.  As long as we are not afraid to argue; the differences will lead to clarity in time.

2.  We learn to say NO.  The saddest thing about Leeann Tweeden's experience was that a professional woman was unable to immediately and unequivocally tell Franken to knock it off.  Women need to learn to do it.  And we need to make sure our daughters are able to do it.  Without fear of repercussion.

3.  We insist on real consequences.  Right this very minute, while Paul Ryan is having wet dreams at the thought of killing Social Security and Medicare, Mitch McConnell is chuckling over the fact that the Dems have lost two strong progressive voices in Congress and he is about to gain one demented sexual predator, who, like the other one he supported, will endorse any piece of shit bill the republicans push through.  And, for that matter, it is time to get rid of the Congressional slush fund that pays, through our tax dollars, for findings of misconduct.

Yes, that's right.  Congress has its own special deal with the US Treasury that fines levied due to findings of misconduct will be paid with tax dollars.  WHAT THE HELL IS THAT???

A few weeks ago, Saturday Night Live had an hilarious sketch featuring "Claire from HR."  Laugh your ass off, and then listen to it again, because, absurdly, this is reality.

There is so much misogyny in all workplaces, yet it seems fitting that we begin by shining the light on the swamp creatures in Congress.  After all, by being charged with making the laws that we live by, they have come to see themselves as above the law.  Their behavior has become more egregious, their stated intent to ignore our needs more blatant, as this sick Trump administration blunders forward.

It is fitting that on January 21, women led the way to resistance, and we will continue to fight for what is right.  Respect for women should be our top priority.

Because as Hillary Clinton said, "Women's rights are human rights."   

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Thanks, Obama

The Ironic Cherry reads...

Thanks, Obama:
My Hopey, Changey
White House Years
by David Litt

This is a hopey, changey kind of book.  It comes out just when we need the smiles, the chuckles, and yes, the hope.

David Litt began campaigning for Barack Obama in 2008.  From there he moved on to speechwriting for the President.  He began at the bottom, and takes us along on his wild, bumpy, sometimes scary, sometimes hilarious ride.  It is partly about his growing up, partly about the maturing of Obama's presidency, and partly about the transformation of America.

The personal anecdotes are hysterically funny; he is brutally honest about the workings of the West Wing and also about himself.  He doesn't let himself get too carried away with his own importance, but he doesn't mind telling us when he feels damn good about his accomplishments.  His periodic meetings with President Obama are priceless, and tell us as much about the President as about Litt.

It turns out that it is a wonderful review of Obama's eight years, just as we are sometimes feeling as if they didn't actually happen.  He takes us from the campaigns to the fights over Obamacare and the budget.  We witness presidential approval ratings sink as he struggles to first work with and then hold back a Congress determined to do damage to his promises to the American people, and then we watch them skyrocket when, in 2015, he decides it is time to do his work with or without Congress.

We also get behind the scenes of the amazing Correspondents' Dinner speeches, and the moods of the writers and the President as they are developed, including the critical edit the day before the Bin Laden raid.  And the "bucket" list.  And of course, the development of the skit with "Luther, Obama's Anger Translator."

And then there was that week in June of 2015, with two great Supreme Court victories and the horrific shooting at the Mother Emanuel Church here in Charleston.  And Barack Obama gave a moving and eloquent speech, ending with him singing Amazing Grace.

Litt says, "In less than two days, Barack Obama had secured his place in history....  I now lived in a country where health care was a right and not a privilege; where you could marry who you loved; where a black president could go to the heart of the old Confederacy and take all of us, every color and creed, to church."

And around about that time in Litt's book, he brought me back around from despair to hope.  Because, as we saw in last week's election, when women, African Americans, Hispanics, Muslim and transgender Americans ran for office against hate and bigotry and won, Obama's legacy can't be erased.  The American people have come together to prove that we stand for liberty and justice.  We will continue to fight for the gun legislation that Obama was unable to see in his terms in office, and for the women and minorities that are being victimized by the current administration.

Or, as POTUS says, "We haven't won every battle.  We've still got a lot more work to do.  But when the cynics told us we couldn't change our country for the better, they were wrong."

Thanks, David Litt, for reminding us of that.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Taking a Deep (Cleansing) Breath

I was a bit depressed last night, after having checked in on the three local newscasts to see what they had to say about Bannon's creep into South Carolina last night.  It is not so much what they said, but the fact that he was here, infecting our air and our youth, that had me down.  There was a great peaceful protest, and it was well-covered by the media.  But still.

And then I woke up.  The sun was shining bright and the air was crisper than I like it, and clear.  And I realized what had been wrong about my assessment of last night's events.

Bannon wasn't talking about taking back the country anymore, so much as taking back the republican party.  It was young, naive republicans that had invited him to speak.  In light of the Women's Movement, Indivisible, and Tuesday's election results, they are worried.  They are worried about their identity and their place.  They are so worried that they are turning to the loudest voice in the room for the answer.  We should be glad about that.

Remember Karl Rove?  Otherwise known as "Bush's Brain?"  Wasn't so long ago that he had us cowering in fear of his power.  True, they did horrible things to our democracy while in power, but these days we are seeing Bush as a softer, gentler version of Trump, someone who could be stupid but laugh at himself as well.  And Rove?  Rove is one of the vocal anti-Trumpers.  And Bush junior and senior supported Hillary.  Who could have seen that coming?

So we all need to calm down.  If one of Bannon's goals is to scare the shit out of his -- and I do mean "his" -- opponents, he is doing it in an attempt to ward off failure, not merely to assure success.  More than Rove to Bush, Bannon is Trump's alter ego, the guy in control that has a brain.  But, as did Rove, he has become so entangled in the need for his own victory that he is going to fail to see what will turn Americans against him.  He is going to make faulty assumptions about his infallibility, and he is going to assume that Americans care more about him than about ourselves, our families, and the future of our democracy.

He is going to assume that we are all stupid, and willing to be led.  But he is wrong.

In the light of day, it is indeed comical to reflect on the republican patsies who are running for governor showing up last night for the purpose of seeking his favor.  It was sad to see our young republicans looking to him for solutions.  But make no mistake:  if they do buy Bannon's sales pitch, they may in fact take back the republican party, but Americans will walk away, in droves.

Tuesdays victories across the country proved that the majority of Americans reject hate.  We are not so terrified of change that we will sign on to harm innocents because they are different than us.

The Women's March said it all.  We are all in this together, and united we do not need to be afraid.  We come together for each of us, and coming together we will defend American values.

The counter-protesters in Charlottesville tell that story as well.  There are more of us than there are of Bannon's paranoid haters.  We will show up.  And our power will be in our numbers, and our message.  Eight weeks after the initial rally, there was a second rally.  Forty white nationalists showed up, stayed for ten minutes, and went home.

So let us all be proud of our power, and our purpose.  Keep showing up.  And continue to stand together.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Women Hauling Off

At my tennis clinic, the instructor told a relatively new player to just haul off, hit the ball as hard as you can.  Then she explained that men and boys had no problem doing that; she never had to tell them to let go and hit it as hard as they can.  Women and girls were more tentative, so she would tell us not to worry about getting it right, but to just wallop it.  It worked.  The young woman hit some amazing shots after that advice.

I recently went to the Charleston launch party for Emerge America, a wonderful group created to encourage and assist women to step up and run for office.  I was told that whereas men will get involved confident that they can do a better job than others, extremely competent women all too often hold back because they don't feel competent enough to run for office.

I admire women who have great confidence.  I grew up in a blue collar family with an immigrant father.  As the oldest, even as a girl, my parents had high hopes for me.  They thought, as smart as I was, I should become a teacher.  They didn't tell me about it, but I heard that they were proud of me for going to college, but it was rough going.  And yet, I did make it through, and ended up getting all the way through to a Ph.D.  My father's reaction when I told him I was going back to school for a doctorate could best be described as confused derision.  "You already went to school.  Why do you have to go back?"

In a nutshell, my relationship with my father began with him telling me, as a child, how smart I was.  And then, when I began to have opinions that were different from his, I became someone who "thought I was so smart."  So, no confidence building there.

Hillary Rodham Clinton had a father who could not imagine her not being able to do anything a man could do, and do it better.  Same for Elizabeth Warren.  Women who grew up with fathers who saw them as equal to men, and able to compete and excel tend to do that.  Here in my later years, when I catch myself criticizing myself or worrying over some social anxiety or other nonsense, I mutter, "Thanks, Dad," and then get on with it.

But those insecurities that most women incorporate from childhood are reinforced in society:  lower pay, sexual stereotypes and harassment, lower expectations despite greater responsibility, and so many more subtle social forces.  The attack on reproductive rights is one of the more critical fronts intended to keep women from having the same control over their lives as have men.

The good news is, the backlash is here.

I am thrilled at the generation of younger women who are moving women forward today.  They have been, over the years, more visible in the arts, in the media, in finance and in politics.  But the Women's March on January 21 was the explosion that caused us to look around and see that we were the ones that would change the sad course that history had been taking.  We were the ones that weren't getting tangled up in questionable arguments and slippery slopes.  United, we stood for everyone.

So, as the 2018 midterms approach, thousands of women across the country are stepping up.  And groups like Emerge America and WREN -- Women's Rights and Empowerment Network -- are there to help.  Because we know what the country needs, but may not have the tools to get through the man-made maze of red tape to get there.

You won't be surprised to hear that women attempting to run for office experience a bias that excludes, ignores or minimizes their candidacy.  In a South Carolina special election primary a few short months ago, an older white businessman ran against a young black woman.  People from in and out of state eagerly signed up to help in his campaign, some fairly big names with the national party, bombarding Facebook and email in-boxes.  The State ran an article headlined:  "In SC Congress Race, Goldman Sachs Executive Faces Student."  The "student" was a woman who had spent six years in the military, working as a paralegal in an Army JAG legal affairs office.  Hard to imagine a headline written for a man that did not include "military veteran."

And yet, with little to no help from state or national party, she ended the primary with 22 percent of the vote.

I am also discerning a subtle and dangerous pattern as people enter 2018 races.  A woman enters a race.  Then, seeing no great risk, a man jumps in.  And then more well-known men jump in to support him.  And then the woman gets ignored or minimized.

Gods, I hope I am wrong.  But I am writing today to alert all you women and the men who are strong and confident enough to support us, because we will need to be aware of the biases and fight harder to be heard as we run for office.  When we see something like that ridiculous headline in The State, or a primary being held as though the male candidate's win was a given, we need to not just speak up, but yell.  We need to support the great and talented women that have stepped up with all we've got.

We need to "haul off." 

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Fear and Trashing of Hillary Rodham Clinton

The Ironic Cherry reads...

What Happened
Hillary Rodham Clinton

A few years ago, as I began to listen to the audiobook of Hillary's years as Secretary of State, Hard Choices, I became aware that I was listening for signs of duplicity.  I have been an admirer of Clinton's since It Takes a Village way back in 1996, and actually from the time she became First Lady.  But sad as this may be, the doubts creep back whenever I have lost touch with her.  As I read, I found not any trace of duplicity.  Rather, she spoke as she always does, from her heart, and with a great deal of knowledge.  She spoke with self-awareness and even a touch of self-deprecation.  Her words were measured and intelligent.  She is, was, and will continue to be, a masterful writer, and one with a lot to say.

So I was discouraged, but not entirely surprised, when the reaction I heard to her new book from way too many women was: the election is over, and Hillary should just go away.  That is the tragedy of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

She has been trashed mercilessly, and quite stupidly, for decades.  Politicians and the media were tickled to put her in the headlights over Bill's sexual indiscretions.  Men were more than happy to attack her victimhood, and saddest of all, women joined in to critique her behavior during this most personal of difficult times.

And so it goes.  We have heard about her hair and her pantsuits ad nauseum.  Before she was First Lady, she had had to deal with Bill's inability to get re-elected in Arkansas with a wife who practiced law and went by her given name.  And then, when she reached the White House, there was the national incident over her comment that she chose not to stay home and have teas and bake cookies.  If you recall, that was such a focus of our attention that she ended up sharing her mother's chocolate chip cookie recipe with the world, to prove she actually could bake.

Then things got serious, as republicans decided that the Clintons were too popular.  The road to the Clintons' demise, began with Bill's womanizing; those headlines were such a hit, that the mudslingers at the republican party turned over every damn leaf to find dirt to aim at them.  They hit the mother lode with investigations over the business venture Whitewater.  Those of you who wheel and deal in business know that there are way too many grey lines in big deals.  And even though Bill and Hillary were never found guilty of misconduct, some were, and that, my friend, is all you need to fuel the fires of suspicion.

Headlines.  That is all most of us have time for.  And when there was no proof, allegations and innuendo were enough.  And since Bill and Hillary ended up with a fair amount of wealth, it is even easier to stoke the fires.

Add to that the internet, and we have gone from rumors that Bill had murdered his friend Vince Foster, which keeps popping up like rats in sludge, to the absurd near tragedy of last year's Pizzagate.  Fact is, when there are no facts to denigrate Hillary Clinton, a lie will always do.

And add to that the absolute cruelty of those who hate Hillary, armed with Facebook and Twitter.  And the sad, sad fact that the news media can NOT turn away from potential scandal, the uglier the better, but if ugly isn't available, stupid will do, as proven by video loops of her falling.

There we were, then, in 2016, with smart women shaking their heads and saying, "I just don't trust her."

Why don't you trust her?  Either we don't know enough about her or we know too much about her.  She shows too much emotion or not enough.

Fact is, we probably know more about Hillary than we do of any candidate who has ever run for president.  We know more personal stuff about her than we have any right to know.  We know more about her finances than any other president (I don't even need to mention the secretive crook that is skulking around the White House these days).  For all the millions of dollars that have been spent to try to dig up financial irregularities about Hillary and Bill, you might think there would be something to show for it.

The republicans may not be able to get the dollar signs out of their eyes in order to see how their financial fantasies erode our economy, but they do know how to spread contention and distrust.  Let us not give Trump all the credit; the republican party spread manure over the soil to make it fertile ground in which to grow all of Trump's hate.

We liberals like to talk with disdain about the uninformed American, but there are levels of being uninformed.  As I said earlier, most of us don't have time for more than headlines.  Some of us, who work too hard and struggle to raise families, don't even have time for that.  But if you are going to make an informed decision about a candidate, you just have to go underneath the headlines.  To the source.  And the source is out there.

From the time that reality show host rode down the escalator, the media was a captive audience.  Every ugly word was captured in prime time, every day.

But Hillary's campaign wasn't about invective.  It was about policies.  And she had plans, lots of them.  That is what Hillary does.  She looks at a problem and figures out how to make it better.  And she doesn't let anything slip by.

We don't know that because while we were watching the republican car wreck, Hillary was making speeches about the economy and women's rights, education and technology.  I watched a couple of her speeches, so few because I had to actually remember to take the time to find them on C-Span or the internet.  But let me tell you, they were wonderful.  Those of you who think she neglected the middle class, the white middle class, didn't focus enough on jobs, focused too much on "identity politics," you weren't there.  You were listening to her campaign through pundits, who were obediently repeating rumors about emails.

And we women, myself very much included, have the quality which makes our daughters strong and smart and determined:  we are incredibly hard on women, ourselves, our friends, our daughters.  We had criticisms for Hillary that were ridiculous in comparison to all the others who ran for president in 2016.  And we also had the cloud that had been polluting her space for thirty years.

As with all things Hillary, in talking about her book pre-publication, the media highlighted two of the most tantalizing tidbits:  1) James Comey's part in her defeat; and 2) Trump stalking her at the town hall debate.  Which led us to believe that the book would be an obsessive rant about her defeat.

I would not have blamed her if that was what it had been.  After having to take more crap than any other politician ever, she certainly would have been entitled.  But that is not at all what this memoir is about.

The content of What Happened is much like the title, which is much like Hillary herself.  In the book she explores the state of women in politics, her relationship with Putin as Secretary of State and the involvement of Russia in derailing an already dysfunctional political system, and yes, the email nonsense.  She does it in a down-to-earth and objective way, while also honestly acknowledging her feelings and perceptions throughout and since.  She also tells us about a day on the trail, because she gets asked about it a lot.  She tells us about her grandchildren and her friends, and how they have helped her heal and given her hope.

Except she has always had hope.  The thing that I love about Hillary, besides her intelligence and morality, is that she always has hope.  She is always going to get up and fight again, and it infuriates her enemies.  I believe her willingness to look at herself critically and admit mistakes also drives her enemies crazy, because you have got to be tough to admit to your faults and come away better.

Since publication, Hillary has given some great interviews, the latest with Fareed Zakaria on Sunday.

What Happened provides so much more important and fascinating detail about, yes, what happened.  Most important, as Hillary has said in the book and in interviews, we need to truly understand what went on so that it won't happen again.  In this book, she talks about it as though she were sitting in the room with us, sharing her ideas and experience.

After all these years, we owe it to ourselves to get to know Hillary Rodham Clinton, who I believe will go down as one of the greatest and most influential women in American history.