Thursday, August 25, 2016

What to Do about the Women

In South Carolina, women don't fare very well.  Whether it is health care, employment, violence, education, reproductive rights... you know what I mean.  And in spite of all the anti-abortion verbiage about protecting women, pregnant women, babies and children remain vulnerable.

On Thursday, September 1, Charleston County Democratic Women will hold its first meeting after the summer hiatus.  The featured speaker will be Jane Perdue of the Center for Women, founded in 1990, and which mission is "Dedicated to empowering and enriching women in their private and public lives."

The end goal is to increase the presence of women professionally and in elected office.  But to get there, so many things have to change.  Our daughters need to be healthy, well-fed and well educated.  They need to live in homes and walk through neighborhoods that are safe.  As they grow older, they need to have the same opportunities for higher education, employment and economic growth as men, and all those criteria need to cut across race as well.

In South Carolina, preterm birth rate is 4th highest in the nation; while the infant mortality rate has declined, there is a dramatic racial divide.  With the state's continued refusal to expand Medicaid, women and children continue to experience the harmful results.  Last year, attacks on Planned Parenthood threatened to shut down a valuable source of women's health care.  Control of our reproductive health means control of emotional and economic well-being.  South Carolina ranks #1 in violence against women.  We are still debating whether or not to allow our schools to provide medically accurate sex education to students.

What all the above means is that here in South Carolina, girls and women are faced with constant hurdles to living a good life.

The Center for Women addresses each of these issues with education and advocacy.

The year of our first woman president should be the year we move the girls and women of South Carolina into the 21st century.

Please go to the Charleston County Democratic Women Facebook page and say you will attend this important meeting on Thursday, September 1, at the Holiday Inn.  Men are welcome, because what improves the lives of women improves all our lives.  Registration is at 6, the buffet dinner is $20.00.  And please take the opportunity to become a member.

I look forward to seeing you there.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Lies and Lying Liars

It's those damn emails again.  If it wasn't the emails, it would be Benghazi.

Let me take a moment to be politically incorrect.  Just because you had a son who was killed serving his country does not mean you have a handle on the truth.  It turns out that Patricia Smith, who was one of the premier speakers at the republican hate-fest in July, had help from the republican party in composing her barn-burner of a speech, that accused Hillary Clinton of killing her son -- in those words -- and lying to the families about the attack.  Also turns out that the speech writer, Richard Cross, has come around to realizing that he cannot in good conscience vote for Donald Trump, and may end up voting for Hillary.

So Cross is able to walk away from a speech wherein he called the Democratic nominee for president a liar and a "killer."  Nice that he was able to at least make the public statement I guess.  How many republicans are going to make that switch, knowing just what damage a Donald Trump presidency would do to our democracy, and yet keep it a secret so as not to jeopardize their place in the party?  Isn't that a lie, a most egregious lie?

That brings me to Colin Powell, who has just covered his ass by denying that he advised Clinton to use a private server for her emails.  You may recall Colin Powell.  He is the much respected republican in whom Americans placed their trust by bringing out charts and graphs to justify our war in Iraq.

It was a dramatic presentation, that included an actual vial of something that we believed could wipe us all out, and leaving us quaking and convinced.

What we knew about Powell was that he was a smart man, and a moral man.  He could not possible lie to us.  But his very belief in his own goodness has made him vulnerable.  He may not have consciously lied about WMD, but he sure as hell convinced himself of things that were not facts.

Colin Powell, whose testimony may have been the most persuasive argument for the war in Iraq, ten years later, apologized for getting it wrong.  And despite the agony the nation has endured because of his goof, we all said, "How about that honesty?  What a good guy."  And he was off the hook. 

So when he steps up to deny that he had advised Hillary to use a personal email server, I would like us all to take this with a grain of salt.  Because although he has made comments indicating that he is opposed to Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric, he continues to protest that he is still a republican.  He is a man who is tormented by his own belief that he must always do the right and moral thing.  Meaning that if he does something, it must be right and moral.  You see, I can get tangled up just trying to explain poor Colin Powell's moral pretzel.

If we were to wander into the dark, dark days of the Bush administration, we would find lies buried under lies, lies of omission, lies of self-deceit, outright lies.  All committed in the name of patriotism and keeping the homeland safe.  And there is Colin Powell, trying to keep up with the evil Cheney and his minions, and the gullible and persistent Bush.  How does a moral person live in these twisted corridors of power?  Apparently, he convinced himself that because they were so certain, they were right.  And the proof of how powerful was that self-deception is in the power of the false presentation Powell made to the United Nations, and the world.

So as far as emails go, I would wonder about something like this:    

while former Secretary Powell used a personal email account during his tenure as Secretary of State, he did not retain those emails or make printed copies.”

I would imagine that there is a great deal that Powell is not telling us about his email practices, and much that we have not been privy to regarding those actual emails.  A lot has been buried about the Bush/Cheney administration.  Based on what we do know, a lot was covered up under the smoke and destruction of two towers.

Unlike a Congress that did not want to make waves and a subsequent administration that wanted to put a very bad eight years behind us, republicans realize that they gain power by making war.  The symbols, the chants, the repeated accusations, they have all made for a very successful republican party.  Trump appears to be planning his next enterprise from the ruins of his presidential race, just as each failure in his life has led to greater profit.  But the republicans have their sights set on keeping Congress and controlling the states, and they can only do that by minimizing the very powerful Clinton candidacy.

So while whatever oversights Colin Powell may have made, whatever lies he may have told, or truths he may have omitted, will never be questioned, Hillary Clinton continues to be stuck under a magnifying glass turned up so high that flaws become facts.  Meanwhile, Trump courts Vladimir Putin, his lies about every business dealing he has ever had are glossed over, and he polishes a debate style that amounts to, "No, YOU are!"  And the dirtbags on the right continue to raise questions that have already been answered, and that have never been asked of a person holding public office before.

Bush and Cheney's neglect led to the loss of 3,000 lives, and 6,000 injured.  Their bad judgment led to 4,500 American deaths in Iraq (as of 2014).  Trump mocks Obama for saying "ISIL" instead of "ISIS."  Rudy Giuliani, whose neglect of recommended safety implementations after the Twin Tower bombing in 1993 left the towers more vulnerable and harder to evacuate, and police and firefighters with inadequate communication networks -- yes, THAT Rudy Giuliani -- incredibly, unbelievably, is now saying that in the eight years prior to Obama's presidency, we "didn't have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States."  Well, except for the one.

And even though Donald Trump, under new management, is only just learning how to say hateful things without having to own them, the republican party continues their drumbeat of lies and attacks.  And Colin Powell, not having had the experience of being under that magnifying glass, treated with respect after making the case for the costliest mistake in American history, is standing with his party, denying any wrongdoing, and denying any part in Hillary's email fiasco.  Did he do what she said?  I'm going to guess that between the two accounts, there is the truth, and that in the end it is no more important than any of this email nonsense.  Powell could help by saying he doesn't recall, but there is the need to cover his ass, and to justify his own behavior.

Let us not give credence to someone who was part of the most deceitful and destructive administration since Richard Nixon.  And let us demand that attention is paid to the lies and the liars that would see Donald Trump be president in order to maintain their own grip on power at the risk of the country. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Living with Tim Scott's Bad Choices

Up till now, the secret to Tim Scott's success has been knowing what side his bread is buttered on.  And that side is not the side he grew up on, but that of the well-heeled capitalists who have found the perfect African-American republican.  Little white haired southern ladies love him, and all those rich old white guys know he will fight for them, from the right to bear arms to the right to run roughshod over the environment.

Scott isn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but unlike the republican candidate for president, he takes instruction well.  He believes in the republican dream, because it has worked for him.  So he can't see why it can't work for any black man in America.  All you have to do is work hard and suck up to the right... well, the right.  He jumped on the Tea Party bandwagon and it took him right to Washington, and then he sidled up to Nikki Haley, and sure enough, it took him out of the House of Representatives and into the Senate.

He was fortunate in that he did not have big intellectual shoes to fill in the Senate.  Jim duh-Mint may not have had anything going on as far as critical thinking skills, but like Tim, he knew where the power lay, and he learned the words to their song.  DeMint and Scott can recite the lines to the Tea Party Manifesto and they believe every word of it.  Because fortune has, as the Reagan bunch promised in 1980, trickled down to them.

Like, DeMint, Scott talks a good story about his hardscrabble childhood, and for Tim it really was;  no Andy Griffith's Mayberry for Tim Scott.  And as with so many who have worked hard and succeeded, they believe that those who don't succeed have no one to blame but themselves and the government.  In their minds, the government that gave DeMint and Scott an awfully good wage and benefits package is preventing the poor from finding success by helping them survive.

Scott doesn't come out too often and say that the poor should be dropped on their heads and left to fend for themselves.  Instead, he has succeeded by using the right-wing trick of attacking those who are trying to help.  Make Obama the bad guy and nobody will see those members of Congress who have been blocking any attempt to move the country forward.  Blame the president for Guantanamo Bay while Scott helped prevent any reasonable solution from finding its way into the debate.  And of course, make his constituents afraid and angry.

Remember ebola?  Tim Scott was front and center demanding that the government ban travel from affected countries.  No so much in the lead when it came to research and aid.  And, as with every other message from Scott regarding any problem anywhere in the country, he blamed the Obama administration for the government's response, whatever it would be.

Now, with the Zika virus, Scott and his hare-brained right-wing colleagues offer up a bill to provide funds for research.  Really???  Check it out.  Carefully.  Because when right-wing politicians tell you the government is going to help, it is really is time to lock up your valuables.  Because first of all, that bill would waive the Clean Water Act to allow for spraying -- when your kids get sick from the chemicals Scott will blame the president, by the time cancer rates have risen he will be on some private corporate payroll.  And here is the capper:  sandwiched in the middle of his description of the bill are the words:  "Offset this spending."  What he fails to mention is that Zika spending will be offset by ebola funds.

Pretty slick, and certainly not dreamed up in Tim Scott's small brain.  He is merely barfing up republican talking points.  The way our current republican presidential nominee has been forced from time to time to regurgitate words dictated by his republican colleagues.

And while politicians like Senate colleague Lindsey Graham who are more secure in their own shoes are speaking out against the diseased mind of Donald Trump, Tim Scott is all in.  He will support Trump in spite of racist attacks and unconstitutional proposals, because Tim Scott can't say no to the republican party.  That is where his bread has been buttered, and he hasn't noticed that when buttered bread lands on the floor, it always lands face down.

This is a really good time for South Carolinians to take a look at Scott's Democratic opponent, Thomas Dixon.

Video thanks to Elaine Cooper

Dixon understands what we need from our government because, as he says,

"I was part of the problem for a long time.  I was the person who was so wrapped around me and caught up in me that whatever hurt anybody else didn't matter to me. 
But one day I woke up."
 Dixon woke up.  And that is why today he fights for human rights.  The right to be safe from gun violence.  The right to earn a living wage.  The right to love whom you choose.  A woman's right to make her own reproductive choices, privately.  The right of veterans and seniors to live in security.  The right to healthcare for all.

Tim Scott may have had it rough when he was young.  But he was bought out with promises of success, and every time he votes against those who need his help he realizes that success.  So he is not going to wake up.

And that is why we need to support Thomas Dixon for Senate.  His supporters don't have deep pockets like those of Tim Scott, but that is exactly why we need him to represent us.  And we may not have a fortune, but we can send him our small donations, and we can vote just as well as the well-heeled.

So please spread the word about Thomas Dixon, and help elect him to the Senate in November.  Tim Scott, like Jim DeMint, will do just fine in the private sector.  And we will do just fine with him gone, and Thomas Dixon taking that seat.

Thomas Dixon
U.S. Senate

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Guns Don't Kill People; Idiots with Guns Kill People

There was something off about the report of the father who accidentally killed his son at a shooting range in Florida in July.  For one thing it was a very freaky freak accident.  Apparently the bullet casing from the shot the father had fired flew down the back of his shirt, and in reaching to get it out, his gun fired, KILLING HIS SON, who was standing right behind him.  With no irony whatsoever, Brumby reported that he had taken his kids to the gun range so that they would be "comfortable" with guns.  According to him, he spent "two days" accounting to himself for his actions, and then made the comment that has been oft quoted by our deadpanned media:

"The gun didn't kill my boy.  I did."

I did not hear the man say it, but in print it almost sounds like it is accompanied by a swagger.

Forgive me for being harsh, but this "passionate" Christian, then proceeded to create a GoFundMe page and actually profited to the tune of nearly $20,000 from the 14-year-old's death.  On the other hand, he is sure he will see his boy on the other side.

And he plans to continue to keep guns around the house "for self-defense."

My point being, how on earth does this man walk away from this incident without a thorough investigation?  Yes, it certainly does seem to be a freak accident, but there is also a serious question about his ability to handle firearms responsibly.  Around his family.  And the fact that he continues to keep guns around for self-defense just screams out poor judgment, since he and his gun KILLED HIS SON.

On another front, here in South Carolina, the baby sitter of a four-year-old was arrested after she left a gun on the table, went out to her car for groceries, and came back to find that the child had shot himself.  While this is wrong on so many levels, the fact that she was arrested and the old Christian dude continues to live with his family amongst his firearms just makes me wonder.  After all, Brumby killed his son, while the four-year-old was wounded.  And the sitter immediately called 911 to report the incident and get help.  Not that I am excusing her, but she appears to be no more of an idiot than shooting range guy, but she is a young woman.

In fact, the whole stand-your-ground nonsense falls apart when you look at how easily cops and white guys who shoot other people are excused, and how women and African Americans are treated when they have a weapon.  If the sitter had been a young man, my guess is: slap on the wrist, or maybe even a sympathetic pat on the back for what he must be going through.

The callousness with which law enforcement deals with white men with guns is astounding.  Whether it is on a shooting range, at home or on the street, the right to bear arms without proof of an ounce of good judgment (and in spite of lack thereof) or mental health is purely granted to white men.

Let me say it again.  A 14-year-old was killed.  The father not only continues to have guns in the home, he profited greatly from his son's death.  There was no inquiry, no counseling -- counseling about responsible gun ownership is NOT DONE in this country -- no mental health check, as it were.

A person involved in a motor vehicle accident is held more accountable than someone who kills someone with a firearm.

So I was glad to see today that there have been 15 lawsuits filed by families and survivors of the Emanuel AME shooting in Charleston.  They are suing the FBI for failing to do a background check on Dylan Roof.

Because until we start holding people responsible for the deaths of innocent people we will continue to have the extraordinary episodes of gun violence that have torn this country apart.

We need to hold people accountable, even when it is an accident.  We need to make the shooter at the very least undergo evaluation and counseling.  We need to be sure that shooters, and those that have shown poor judgment in their gun ownership that have caused others to be injured or killed, understand their role in the gun incident, and that the gun incident is indeed gun violence.

The man made $20,000 in donations after he shot his son.

And even though she was arrested, I would not be surprised if when all is said and done, the baby sitter goes back to carrying her gun, for self-defense of course.

Congress refuses to pass laws that make guns less accessible to dangerous people, much less people with poor judgment.  Our own state legislatures continue to fly in the face of reality by trying to put more guns on the streets, and in schools and churches and bars, rather than make our lives safer.  And by the way, gun laws would make the streets safer for cops as well.

Imagine if we could hold our lawmakers responsible.  Lawsuits when there is a shooting in a bar because it is now legal to have a gun in a bar.

Maybe at the very least we should insist that if guns be allowed on the streets and in public places, they should also be allowed in the State House, and in the House of Representatives.  Because, goes the illogic, if there is a bad guy with a gun that gets into the chamber, wouldn't you want a good guy with a gun in there?  I personally would like to see a gunfight at high noon between Lindsey Graham and, say, Ted Cruz.

Dark humor aside, we now have a presidential candidate who baits his followers with violent images and taunts.  I would hope that most of the wackos who are so intellectually limited and/or emotionally disturbed that they enjoy his tirades would never cross the line to violence.  But we have seen in his rallies the fans that have risen to the occasion with their fists.  It only takes one lunatic with paranoid delusions, combined with a gun culture that urges people to "exercise their 2nd Amendment rights" and a candidate that creates the hysteria that pushes that lunatic over the edge.

Since Obama's candidacy, our Secret Service and FBI have been aware of the potential for violence toward the African American, and now, toward the woman candidate.  While we stare, open-mouth, at the Trump circus, we know that he did not invent the insanity around firearms or the paranoia about minorities and liberals.  It has been festering for a few decades now.

All we can do is continue to fight for gun control, fearlessly.  And vote. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Trashing Hillary

It worked with John Kerry.  Remember him, the decorated Vietnam War veteran who was trashed in '04 by the creepily named "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth?"  They ran ads and had a best selling book:

They even dusted it off and ran with it again when President Obama nominated Kerry for Secretary of State.

It worked so well in 2004, with Kerry being all naive and honorable, and too slow to fight back, that it was inevitable that Trump's minions would hurry up and turn over those rocks to find someone who would do the same to Hillary.

It wasn't hard to find one.  Gary Byrne has cooked up an instant best seller full of lies and innuendo called "Crisis of Character."  He is a former uniformed Secret Service agent, and has been spouting this nonsense since the Bill Clinton years.  His book has most recently been promoted by -- no surprise -- Donald Trump, during his campaign rallies.  And, sadly, it is currently No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller List.  Erroneously, I must add, in the non-fiction category.

The book has been trashed -- I mean, fact-checked -- by David Brock of Media Matters, who has been fighting the good fight ever since he jumped ship on the republican dirty tricks gang.  Gail Collins' review in the New York Times is an entertaining read, and serves the same purpose.  Basically, Byrne, based on his rank with the Secret Service, could not have been anywhere near where he claims to have seen incidents with both Bill and Hillary.  His claims have been debunked by none other than the Association of Former Agents of the U.S. Secret Service.  In fact, Byrne even contradicts his own testimony regarding tissues and towels.

Unfortunately, every right wing-nut who has been jerking off to Donald Trump's witticisms for the past year has run out to get a copy of the book.  And I can't tell you how much I hate to say this:  Charleston County Public Library (which took several months and repeated requests to get Michael D'Antonio's well reviewed Trump biography, Never Enough, and has still not purchased Michael Moore's Where to Invade Next) has 62 holds on its nine copies of the book.

You will be hearing whackos spewing the old lies and rumors as though they themselves witnessed it.  Don't waste your time reading the book, life is way too short, but do read one of the reviews and articles that debunk this piece of garbage, so you can defend yourself from the onslaught.  My guess is that Hillary and her team are already all over it.