Monday, November 28, 2016

Let Us Recount Together

I heard the wonderful Joy Reid say yesterday, with passion, that people who are donating toward recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania should instead send their money to Democrat Foster Campbell, towards a yet undecided senate race in Louisiana.  It is a long shot indeed, but boy wouldn't it be nice to have another Democratic senator.

Well, the recount is certainly a long shot, but wouldn't it be great to have T. Rump's "presidency" overturned before the cast of The Deplorables takes over and all we can do is damage control.

So why not donate to both?

I am surprised, as always, by my fellow Democrats' willingness to fight over just about anything.  I even heard some trash talk about Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate who has spearheaded the move to recount, and her possible involvement with Russia, based on television interviews on Russian TV network, RT.  Come on folks, can we not throw out the baby with the dirty bath water here?  Faux president T. Rump has more than enough ties to Russia to keep us paranoid.

I don't know why Stein is on Russian TV.  Maybe she believes we can all be friends, maybe she secretly owns a hotel there.  But let us stop being yanked around by those who have been silent about the T. Rump Russia connection and are now trumpeting the news that Stein has ties to Russia.

I for one, am glad that Stein has taken up this cause.  There were so very many raised eyebrows over how Hillary could lose those three states, that had been in her column for months, and lose by so very little.  Whether it is fraud or the kind of callousness that happens when those in charge are being pressured to come up with definitive results, that small margin in those three states certainly makes a recount reasonable.

I'm wondering why we should go quietly.  Just look at the hissy-fit the madman has been having over Twitter since the recount actually became a thing.  Shouldn't we be tired of being beaten about with lies, threats and braggadocio by this small-minded bully?  We still, for awhile, live in the strongest democracy in the world; now would be the time to push our rights to the limit.

Don't forget, it was T. Rump who on election day, attempted through a lawsuit to force Nevada to omit certain votes obtained during early voting in high Latino areas.  He falsely claimed voters were let into polling places after hours; in fact, it was voters who were already in line when the polls closed that were allowed to vote.    Even if it didn't work, it may have kept a few people from exercising their rights, so, to T. Rump, it was a win-win.

And how about North Carolina soon-to-be-unemployed governor Pat McCrory and his expensive and time-consuming tantrum over his losing tally?   Democrat Roy Cooper is ahead by nearly 8,000 votes, but McCrory just can't believe that this is happening.  And for good reason.  He and his minions in the state legislature have worked hard to rig the election to prevent Democrats from voting.  He is like the Grinch when he hears the Whos in Whoville singing even after he has stolen their Christmas.  How can this be???

If you are still wondering why we should be backing this recount effort, convinced that it will not change results, you may be right about the latter.  But there are so many reasons we should be behind this.  The one that smacks me in the head every time is all the various dirty tricks that have been played during this election season, from lies to the actual republican woman who was caught trying to vote twice for the Rump.  There were the repeated calls during rallies for supporters to "watch" suspect polling places -- "because of you know what I'm talking about."  Then there is the Crosscheck software program, ever popular when you want to purge the voter rolls.  And don't forget the Russians: spies, hackers and fake news.

Here is the greatest reason of all.  We now more than ever need to ask the questions.  We need to insist on facts, not tweets and tantrums.  We need to insist that we see what is going on in our government.  There is nothing wrong with demanding an audit of our voting process, especially now.  Especially when there has been so much proof that the other side will stoop to whatever it takes to win.  If we believe that our democracy is important, and I'm hearing from a lot of us that they -- we -- are fearing its loss, we need to stand up for transparency.  Our voting process has been under attack for far too long, while we have had too few defenders.

Maybe Pat McCrory will win back the governorship, fair and square.  I hope not, but it could happen.  He is not going to leave any stone unturned in his quest for victory.  And we should not leave any stone unturned either.  Because our quest is not just for victory; it is to stand up for our democracy, and for our right for our votes to be counted.

So, Jill, I'm all in.  And thanks for stepping up.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

ACLU -- Now More Than Ever

On October 3, I wrote about the American Civil Liberties Union, and their upcoming visit to Charleston County Democratic Women.  Then along came Hurricane Matthew, and the meeting was postponed.  And then, along came the presidential election, and the world truly shifted.  So that the rescheduled presentation by the ACLU at CCDW seems even more relevant than it was two short months ago.

It is obvious that during the upcoming administration, the only people whose rights will not be violated are those of the Trump family.  Now, don't get me wrong, Mike Pence is the religious right's version of Dick Cheney, and he deserves whatever he gets.  But I am betting he has had to compromise every day since he has accepted that unholy deal for power.

There is already a line of supplicants who have or are in the process of being humiliated by Trump.  In true godfather fashion, he publicly banished Chris Christie as a favor to the hideous Jared Kushner, his son-in-law.  He has forced Rudy Giuliani to scrape and bow while keeping him in the wings waiting for the announcement regarding his choice for secretary of state.  And the media is all over the rumor that Mitt Romney will have to publicly apologized to Trump for his (truly justified) attacks during the campaign.

But those are his friends, those with political power and status, ethically questionable though it may be.

Trump loves to push the powerful around.  But he also has a special place for the rest of us.  Donald Trump likes us to be there to work for him, to flatter him, to need him, to be at his mercy.  He doesn't see us as individuals, not even the ones who stood out at his rallies: "Look at my African-American over there."  Of course he usually has a hard time distinguishing all but our dominant characteristics, so at another rally he called another black supporter a "thug" and had him thrown out.

Donald Trump will go after pretty much all of us in the end.  We once, just a couple of months ago, could talk about groups that are getting discriminated against and vilified.  In this new America, there is not anyone outside of the Trump family that is not at risk.  I have been losing sleep over the thought of mass deportations and internment camps, journalists and Hillary Clinton being imprisoned for being considered threats.  I have worried about workers who will lose their admittedly shaky claim to wages and benefits, and those who have been covered by Obamacare, as well as the poor who have relied on what little Medicaid had to offer.  I have thought about the increased risk that union leaders and peaceful protesters will now face.  I have worried about those whose skin is darker, who already feared walking down the street or wearing a hijab, those whose sexual identities make them vulnerable to bullying and violence.

Last night, though, I lost sleep because I heard that Paul Ryan is salivating at the thought of putting social security and medicare on the chopping block.

So, we are all truly in this mess together.

Yes, there are more of us.  But the others have power, and money, and too often even the law and lawyers on their side.  Before Trump, cops killed innocent people with impunity, and resented having their actions called into question, even if more often than not, they were not made to pay.  And Trump has bragged that he will be "the law and order president."

What we need right now are the organizations who have stood by us in the past, and fought for us.  Groups like the ACLU.

On Thursday, Executive Director Shaundra Scott and Legal Director Susan Dunn will be the speakers at the Charleston County Democratic Women monthly meeting.  It will be held at the  Riverview Holiday Inn at 6:00.  The cost of the dinner buffet is $20.  If you can, please donate to both the ACLU and Charleston County Democratic Women.  These organizations will continue to exist and be strong as long as we stand behind them.

I am looking forward to this meeting, even more than I was in October.  I hope to see you there.

(RSVP to Jan Leonard, or at the Charleston County Democratic Women Facebook page, under events.)


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Know Your Enemy

The Ironic Cherry reads...

Trump Revealed
by Michael Kranish & Marc Fisher

In its wisdom, The Charleston County Library acquired Trump Revealed one week before the election.  I was first on the waiting list, but happy to see that they had at least ordered several copies.  It is an easy read.  As it turns out, there is absolutely nothing about Donald Trump that is complicated.  But it was still hard for me to swallow, so I paced myself at thirty pages a day, after which I still felt I needed a shower.

Then came election day, and I decided to set it aside, and finish it after a few days, when the need was no longer so pressing.  As if.

Please, please, please read this book.  It is written by two Washington Post journalists, with the contributions of many more Post writers.  Each took a topic from Trump's life and thoroughly researched it.  So we have good insights and information on Trump's father, Fred, and his immigration to America through his real estate career.  Donald at his side, learning the family business, and then to military academy, and then branching off into his own career.

Though we have learned a great deal of Trump history over the past year and a half there is detail in this book that adds much important information, both in understanding the personality and in all the controversies we have heard about.

It was Donald Trump's father that went through the Depression, but Trump retains that penny-pinching need to accrue ever greater wealth that we associate with survivors of that depression.  The authors describe the Spy Magazine prank in which they sent celebrities checks for miniscule amounts to see who would cash them -- Trump cashed a check for 13 cents.  On a grander scale, it explains his lack of charitable giving, and his use of Trump Foundation funds for personal acquisitions.

On the other hand, while he is truly cheap, Trump has a strong need to be perceived as "rich."  He has sued publications for asserting that he is not as wealthy as he claims.  His denials of help from his father are vehement, and false.

Which leads to his lies.  And Donald Trump is a compulsive liar.  He lies even when he has nothing to gain from it.  He lies unflinchingly when he senses opportunity, either to win someone over or knock someone down.

The authors describe an aspect of Trump's manipulation of people that I found particularly interesting and clarifying.  If he perceives someone as threatening to him (and yes, we all know about his thin skin), he will attack.  Attack with insults, threats and lawsuits.  But quite often, after some time has passed, he will reach out to that person, complimenting him for example on what a talented individual he is, and inviting him to partner with him.

We look on in puzzled horror as Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz and all the other spineless members of the republican party have caved.  Trump has perfected this type of manipulation in his life in business, and weak-kneed politicians who are concerned only with self-preservation are proving to be easily sucked in.

He is NOT smart, but he has the narcissistic fine tuning of the successful bully that picks up weaknesses, twists arguments, throws his weight around, pits people against each other to his advantage, and when the time is right, uses sweet talk to seal the deal.

I am watching the manipulations with members of Congress unfold, and while it is not rocket science, Trump's tactics work.

Our liberal defenders need to understand what is happening.  And we need to understand as well, because we are the ones who will be in a position to explain to other Americans what is happening.  The better to defend ourselves from the onslaught of the what Paul Ryan yesterday gleefully referred to as the unified republican party.

So please make time to read this important book...

...even if you can only stomach a few pages at a time.  And even if you have to set it face down -- as I did -- when you aren't reading.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Silver Lining

It occurs to me that Silver Lining is the color of the roofing tiles I am having installed this very minute, with great noise and fanfare, thanks to Hurricane Matthew.  There have been a few Hispanic men hammering away since minutes after seven, no coffee break, no stopping to talk, just hard, physical work.  I don't know if they are legal immigrants or not, and, honestly, nobody really cares if it keeps the price of their new roof lower.  All the protests are bullshit and dog whistles, shamefully attacking and victimizing good people.

But other than the coincidental title of this post, that is not what I need to talk about today.  Today I'm not quite through my period of mourning, for Hillary, for our country, for all the mean and ignorant or just naive and foolish voters who hammered their own nails into all our coffins on Tuesday.  But I have been commiserating with friends, and posting on facebook, and talking to my kids, and just as with George W. Bush in 2000, there is a day after this one too.

In fact, I have started to compile a list of all the things we have to look forward to during the "presidency" of He-Who-Just-Cannot-Be-Named.

For one thing, once they have worked through their own mourning, our wonderful comedians will have far better fuel than they would have had with Hillary in the White House.  I imagine Samantha Bee has only just been getting warmed up during the election season.  And Alec Baldwin, after working so hard to nail Trump, surely will be willing to show up (or call in) to SNL from time to time.  After all, we did miss Tina Fey's Sarah Palin once we didn't have the original around anymore.

I am also thinking that, given Trump's failure to grasp economics and his need to continue to be adored by those undereducated and underpaid workers, it is just possible that those of us liberals who work hard for too little will also reap the benefits, at least till the crash.  And as long as Donald doesn't insist on an ideological test for us white Americans, I should be okay for awhile.  It occurs to me with some relief that when the Bush years started I was on the low end of the wage scale, so when they ended I hadn't lost anything.  And now that I am attempting to live on Paul Ryan's social security, it seems not that much has changed.

Let's be honest, Donald Trump is a hoot.  He is every bit as stupid as W., but without the charm.  I am looking forward to those 365 day calendars of Trumpisms, and for a couple of reasons.  Not only were those idiotic gems ("More of our imports come from overseas.") something to brighten the dark days, but at the end of the Bush years I had stacks of scrap paper, perfect for phone messages and grocery lists.  And I am running low.

The younger generation, those we have been falsely accusing of being disinterested in politics, are infuriated.  They have truly had it with people trying to legislate their bodies, and sexual and marital choices.  They are sick to death of big corporations getting handouts from the government while they are spending their young lives trying to pay back student loans while failing to get a job that pays what they are worth.  They are not going to tolerate intolerance of race or religious choice.  The riots and protests over racism aren't going to stop, and women are not going to be forced to choose between an unwanted  pregnancy or a backroom abortion.  My son, who could be safely ensconced in his Ph.D. program, has told me that as he has become an activist, he knows he may someday be arrested, and it is a risk he is willing to take, a sentiment that fills me with pride even more than fear.

It will be fun to see the reaction of Trump supporters when Congress finally succeeds in repealing Obamacare.  They apparently had forgotten that before the ACA insurance premiums rose precipitously each year.  That will be a happy thing to watch, for me anyway.  As long as the Democrats are ready to yell loud and long when the right wingnuts try to blame it on Obama -- and probably Hillary as well.

And while they are targeting others for their failures, let us also remember that our new "president" gets bored with people when they have outlived their usefulness.  I can only imagine that it won't take long for the smugly pious Mike Pence to get under Donald's skin.  Imagine the name calling, followed eventually by the inevitable tweets.  And wouldn't it be fun at some point to hear that Pence has been "fired."

Of course, once Pence is gone it will be safe to impeach Trump.  And wasn't that clever of whichever brains-behind-the-boss manipulated Trump into choosing the white-haired Satan for his running mate?  Anyway, point being, nothing lasts forever in Trumpworld.

Along the way, it isn't going to take long for these characters to put the economy into the toilet.  And once it is there, I would say by 2018, the voters will be ready to appeal to a Democratic Congress to get us out of the toilet.

Again, though, let us not forget the Bush years.  And Trump's reigning philosophy.  When some lose, others win.  For a couple of years I had been able to afford amazing timeshare rental vacations, weeklong getaways at resorts for $500 a week, the cost of the annual maintenance fee for those who needed to recoup the cost more than take the vacation.  That ended with the resurgence of the economy (thanks, Obama).  Now, the vacations that went for $60 a night are up over $300 a night.  But when the economy tanks, and until they take away my social security, I'll be able to get in on a couple of weeks a year of vacations on the beach once again.

I honestly can't believe that here we are, doing the Bush years over again.  But our electorate truly does have a short memory.  And they are gullible, easily manipulated.  It takes the pain of an interminable war and the tanking of the economy to the point of loss of jobs and homes before they realize that those sugar-spun fantasies of cutting taxes in order to make us rich are just fantasies.

On Tuesday afternoon, before the end, it occurred to me that this race was more like Nixon than Bush.  The Trump crowd that adopted "lying Hillary" as their mantra and made excuses for Trump's blatantly illegal and immoral behaviors could have been the same hardhats that chanted that they would rather have a crook in the White House than Hubert Humphrey.

It is hilarious that in retrospect, Nixon doesn't look that bad.  It is criminal though, that our memories have been so thoroughly wiped of all the damage done in the Reagan years that Democratic and republican politicians alike would no sooner fail to mention Ronald Reagan than walk onto a stage without a flag pin.

And then there were the Bush years, as we went from a growing economy to the brink of disaster.  Bad choices made by a gullible president at the behest of the evil Dick Cheney.  And surrounded by a cabinet of ideological idiots.

And finally, here we are again, with a growing economy, a strong military, better foreign relations than we have had for quite a while, more jobs and even wages slowly rising.   Instead of Bill Clinton, we have the most admirable couple to grace the White House maybe in my memory.  And instead of Al Gore, we have Hillary Clinton.

Instead of the evil capitalist Dick Cheney behind the wheel, we have the evil religious fanatic Mike Pence.  And then we have the proposed cabinet of deplorables:  Chris Christie, the guy who claims he didn't know about "bridge-gate;" Newt Gingrich, the man who ended his marriage at his wife's hospital bed, and last but truly least, Rudy Giuliani, whose contact with reality is so completely shot that he believes the US was not attacked on George W. Bush's watch.  That same Giuliani by the way, who giggled like a madman a couple of weeks ago when he alluded to his knowledge of the FBI re-opening the investigation into Hillary's emails as another surprise.  Yeah, he's going to be the next attorney general.

So, lots of reasons to weep, and hopefully lots of comedy potential as well.  And lots of reasons to get fired up to fight.  It is true that we will be fighting two branches of government rather than just congress.  But with a cast of characters as shady and corrupt as this bunch, as long as we fight as fearlessly as did Bernie and Hillary for what is right, as long as we don't let the bullies intimidate us, we can not only survive but win this thing.  And by "this thing" I pretty much mean our country and our freedoms. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Final Insult

When it comes to presidential debates, I tend to lose patience with the word games and turn them off after a few minutes.  This year I watched all three debates, and realized around the time of the third, that I was there because I needed to believe I was giving Hillary moral support.  She didn't need it, but I needed to give it.

Watching Donald Trump vomit on everything and everyone we hold dear for the past year and a half has made me feel as though I am caught in an abusive relationship.  I must listen, every time I turn on the t.v. or internet, to more lies and assaults by a man who has used his inherited wealth to bully American into giving this idiot the voice of authority.

I have heard commenters lately ruminate about whether it was inevitable that it would be the biggest pig on the planet who would run against the first possible woman president -- I am paraphrasing in the interest of accuracy.  The road that led to Donald Trump running for the presidency is a long one, even longer than Hillary's path.  Unlike Hillary, though, Trump's quest has been fueled by bigotry and greed.  Misinformation and outright lie.  Right wing eyes on the prize, the prize being ever more power and wealth.

Some trace it to the Reagan machine, those capitalists and warmongers who craved power and who were smart enough to take advantage of Reagan's fuzzy-headed good nature and evangelical Christians' need to prove their righteousness by making their beliefs the law of the land.  This is certainly when the right-wing took over the American language and turned it on its head, with Orwellian flights of fancy like "trickle-down economics" and "death tax."  And it worked.

The other thing that worked was taking advantage of the insecurity and desires of the average American, i.e. me and you.  When Reagan handed out millions in tax breaks for the wealthy, he made sure he doled out a few dollars to the rest of us.  When he talked about that welfare queen who drove up to pick up her check in her limo, he was talking to those of us who worried about making ends meet now, and in the future; he didn't need to say that people like her were taking our hard-earned money away from us.  Unlike Trump, Reagan actually had a political philosophy, and he really, really, believed it.  He had a smooth style and winning smile, much like... the evil Mike Pence.  But we'll worry about that in four years.

With people like Reagan, Bush 1 and Bush 2, that "conservative" philosophy -- nothing conservative, really, about giving money away to big corporations and allowing the wealthy and powerful to rape the planet -- had been ground through think-tanks and forced into logical-sounding sausages of policy.  It is that very same policy that Paul Ryan is trying to force down our throats today.

Which leads to the end of this dreadful road.  That would be where everybody from Putin to Ryan believe that, once in office, Trump will be happy to do their bidding.  Even though each time he has been pressured to read a coherent sentence from a teleprompter, he ends up combusting into rants at rallies and in 3 a.m. tweets.

If you guys, Paul Ryan and Rubio and all those others who slice and dice reality by saying they don't support Trump but they will vote for him, if you guys paid attention, it would be obvious to you that Trump is merely playing the game so that he can win all the marbles.  And once he's got them, he won't need to pretend to listen to you.

Donald and his sleazy sons, Uday and Qusay, can't wait to get into the Oval Office.  If Trump has been able to make money from bankruptcies, suck dollars out of the Trump Foundation and pinch pennies by denying his workers wages due, you can bet that his main goal as president will be to expand his power and his profit.  Just as with the high powered financial and legal experts he has at his disposal, he will use the republican lackeys that have been afraid to stand up to him to further his megalomaniacal agenda.  And, as he has in his life so far, he will unceremoniously rid himself of anyone who attempts to block his desires, or who no longer serves his purpose -- "You're fired."

As I was sitting in MacDonald's this morning over my senior coffee and egg mcmuffin, I was actually -- I swear -- wondering just how drunk I was going to need to get next Tuesday night while waiting for the election to be determined.  It was then, this morning, after a year and a half of insults and abuse, I was mistaken for a Trump supporter.

This is what happened.

An average looking older white man, on his way out the door, stopped and said to me, "Have you voted yet?  You HAVE to vote!"  I quickly used those powers of perception that I have honed in these years living in this red state to ascertain that this was not a passionate Hillary fan.  And so I slowly and calmly said, "You are voting for Hillary?"  And he proceeded to begin the Trump rant, the one about how he is going to fix everything that is wrong with the country.  I said, "Have you listened to the words he is saying?"  And he said he sure has, and he would "never in a million years" vote for Hillary.  Because she's a liar."  As he walked out the door I added that that wasn't true, that it was thirty years of people accusing her of lying.  But it didn't matter, because he and his ignorance were out the door.

"Damned right I'm voting," I muttered.

But that experience left me about as unsettled as I get these days.  How on earth could I be mistaken for a Trump supporter?  Of course, he hadn't seen my car regaled with lefty bumper stickers, and I wasn't wearing a tee-shirt advertising my political beliefs.  Was he making that ugly assumption because I was an overweight badly dressed white woman eating by myself at MacDonald's?  Or was he just suffering from that mania fueled by the FBI and seesawing polls in this last stretch?

To be honest, there is my own mania with which I am trying to cope.  Suffering the awareness of the sane, I wonder if I am being paranoid in thinking that there is a mole in the FBI, getting under Comey's skin with implied threats.  After all, why would a smart person like Huma Abedin leave emails on a computer being investigated by the FBI?  She has said she had no idea they were there.  How hard would it be for someone in the pocket of Putin to copy a whole grunch of those Hillary emails and put them on Weiner's computer?  And maybe throw in a few of his own invention?  And for some partisan agents to pressure Comey to notify Congress about them -- or else???

With all the internet malfeasance coming out of Russia, I'm wondering why that isn't being considered.

Anyway, as insulted as I am feeling about being mistaken for a Trump wacko, I am sure that there is still time for more bizarre events.  If Hillary wins, and she should, she will have beaten the dirtiest, most corrupt, anti-American, foulest human being to have ever run for the presidency.  Along with the basketful of deplorables that are cheering him on.

Wish us all luck.  My MacDonald's encounter is unlikely to be the final insult.