Friday, January 20, 2017

Thoughts on President Obama's Last Day


It saddens me to have to write this, but today marks the end of Barack Obama's eight-year term as president of the United States. (You'll forgive me if I don't mention what else is going on today.) 

It also marks the eighth anniversary of this blog, Ramona's Voices. I started it in 2009, during the afternoon of Obama's first inauguration. I'd been playing with the idea of  launching a political blog for months before I actually did, but I had no idea when I woke up that morning that some time during the day an idea for a blog would come to me. 

I began taking notes and at some point the notes began to look like a blog post.  This wasn't my first blog so I knew how to set up Blogspot and buy a domain name.  I called it "Ramona's Voices", first because it was getting late and I couldn't think of anything else, but second because I knew I couldn't carry an entire political blog all by myself and so would be relying on pulling in quotes and links from people who actually knew what they were talking about and could put words together in ways that looked pretty good.

 It was Obama's energy, his promise of hope, his call for citizen duty. It set millions of us on a path we thought would surely pull us out of the muck left behind by the previous administration. In some ways it did, but the disappointments built up early: Obama's cabinet choices leaned toward Wall Street and more of the same. The Democrats held the House and the Senate for two full years and squandered their power by capitulating to Republican demands and ignoring the rising threat of outside influences like the Tea Party, the NRA, and the Religious Right.

Looking back at my blog posts over the years, I see I wasn't especially tough on either Obama or the Democrats. I'm okay with that. There were plenty of other writers who relished going on the attack against everything they did. I chose to see them as family members who needed some guidance, a push, a nudge, a smack upside the head.

That wasn't always popular, and I admit there were times I was too easy on them, but I chose, instead, to concentrate on the Republicans--something I sorely wish the press had done more often. I saw the Democrats as the good guys--and still do. I saw the Republicans as a scourge against humanity--and still do. I had no idea how bad they could get, and now the proof is before us:  Donald J. Trump, a purported billionaire with a penchant for lying, for cheating, for vendettas, a man with no knowledge of the workings of government and no interest in learning, a man who sees the highest office in the land not as the ultimate in public service but as the ultimate in power, is about to become our 45th president.

I'll miss President Obama, but until recently I had no feel for exactly how much. At some point during the last few months Obama's star power changed from shine to dazzle. His appearances drew breathless crowds. His speeches rose to such oratorical heights he left us cheering while dripping with tears. Did he change, finally becoming the leader we thought we were getting eight years ago, or is the contrast between President Obama and the prospect of a President Donald Trump so stark he couldn't help but come out the better man?

I think, during this past year and especially after that shocking November loss, Barack Obama woke up to the fact that millions of people across the country still lived in fear and desperation. His dream, it seemed, had all but died. Whether is was racism, classism, or the years of lies and ruthless interference, the job did not get done. It wasn't that he didn't try--it wasn't that he hadn't pushed for equity and unity and economic stability--it's that he didn't push hard enough, and the demagogic rise of Donald Trump, the most unlikely, unlikable presidential candidate in our history, proved it.

I'm not suggesting the Republicans had no blame in all of this. In fact, much of the blame falls on them. Wages remain low, social programs have been gutted, health insurance has descended into chaos, and our middle class is still far behind--mainly because of them. So how did they win? They won by promising to fix it all--all that they have broken will now be fixed--by them.  They talk a good game, they play on fears, they push the right buttons, they lie, cheat, and gerrymander. They win.

Obama made mistakes. He didn't seem to understand the need for economic populism, he ignored the plight of unions, he did nothing about off-shoring and outsourcing, he advocated for unpopular trade agreements, he pushed a flawed health care system that often caused more problems than it solved. In that sense, he may have opened the door to demagoguery.

Still, Barack Obama's presidency was not in any realm a failure, and may even be a greater success than we even realize. It may not have lived up to its promise, but I doubt any presidency does. His ideas, if not bold, were positive and honorable. He worked hard, he brought us eight scandal-free years, he gained respect throughout the world.  He was forced to work with the most adversarial congress in modern history. From the start they announced there would be no bipartisan teamwork. Their mission was to thwart him at every turn and they didn't disappoint.

To the president's credit, he was never vindictive, never appeared bitter. He believes in hope. He believes we can do this. What role he'll play now as a private citizen is anybody's guess, but he'll be with us. His voice will be heard. He's a man who believes in tradition and in obligation and in country. He may no longer be president but his presidential mantle will forever be with him.  We can count on that.

So thank you for your years of service, Mr. President, and for your amazing grace.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

First Things First: If You Want to be One of the Good Guys, Act Like It


First we have to accept that Donald J. Trump will become the president of the United States on January 20, 2017. Against our better judgement, and in spite of our many protests, members of the Electoral College signed off on it and now it's a done deal. While we might call it many things--and we have--we haven't been able to prove enough hanky panky to make it illegal or even illegitimate.  It's going to happen.

So, okay, we hate the idea with a passion so rabid it's almost to the point of destroying us, of killing us, of making us eat and drink stuff that's bad for us late into the night when we can't sleep because we know that unbelievable excuse for a human being is going to be president and we can't do anything about it.

As Democrats, liberals, progressives--whatever--we should be used to not having control over anything coming out of Washington, but because we're Democrats, liberals, progressives, we live on hope. We think it WILL happen because it SHOULD happen. Because we're the Good Guys.

I can't stress enough that we're the good guys. We're going to need to keep repeating that to get us through the days ahead, and I'm going to be here doing just that, making a pest of myself, because I believe it so strongly. I have faith in us. We want what's best for the country--even for those clueless Americans who voted for Trump and keep supporting him as if he's just a normal guy who isn't really going to do all those bad things it looks like he's planning to do, by God.

The Trump presidency will be every bit as bad as we think it will be. Maybe even worse. But first things first: We've spent the last 18 months trying like hell to counter the attacks against everything we hold sacred. The things we hold sacred are still there, except now they're even more vulnerable, even more in need of our undivided attention.  So no wimps allowed. No whining. No carrying on about how it should have been, could have been, if only we had. . .

Got that?  Good. So let's get something else straight: The attacks on Hillary, Bernie, and anyone else who doesn't fit your idea of political perfection--they have to stop.  Hillary and Bill are going to the inauguration: get over it. Bernie is about to hold a rally: get over it. Chuck Schumer is going to be a pit-bull against the Republicans but there's that thing about Israel: get over it.

This isn't about your disapproval or your disappointment, it's about our survival.  We have bigger fish to fry, and they don't include the people in the trenches beside us. We're not all going to agree on strategy and some of us may even stink up the place, but if we don't fight this madness together the whole country will suffer. Keep that in mind the next time you want to sniff about some inane item wafting up to your pristine pedestal, forcing you to post or tweet in all caps ABOUT HOW AWFUL IT IS!!

What's awful is that Donald Trump is about to become the president, the Republicans are about to own everything from the House to the Senate to the Supreme Court to the majority of the states, and everyone from the Russians to the Religious ultra-right to the NRA to the KKK are gloating about their own part in making it happen.

What's awful is that we haven't yet convinced the press that they have a responsibility to report the unvarnished truth; that it's cowardice to hide behind ratings or paychecks or popularity while the country suffers from their silence.

What's awful is that millions of people will choose to go along and will fight us every step of the way. They'll work to undermine even those programs designed to help them and their own families. They'll choose to blame us when things go wrong because it must be our fault. Their propaganda machines say it's our fault, so it's our fault.

So first things first: Accept that Trump will be president. Accept that our ideas will be displaced, our goals will be postponed, our fears will be realized. Then recognize our true enemies, remember that we're the good guys, and let the battles begin.

Friday, December 23, 2016

In the Battle for America, the Internet is our War Room



It's been a while, I know, but I'm back in the saddle, ready to do my thing, hoping I can do it without an overabundance of whining or spitting at people. (Not that that's what I've been doing.) But first I need to say this up front and out loud:

I despise everything Donald Trump says and does and what he stands for (whatever that might be at any given moment), and I'll never accept that he is anything close to what a half-way decent president of the United States ought to be.

This is my personal status-quo: Donald Trump is my enemy and I am his. But after weeks of hand-wringing and consternation I've finally figured out that I can't funnel my entire existence into taking him down. I'm just me and I'm too little. I'll leave the heavy artillery to bigger voices having the know-how and the wherewithal to wage the battle ahead.

While I was away from my desk, dozens of writers--journalists, essayists, bloggers, novelists, comedians--said everything I might have said if I had been here, all of them doing it way, way better.  So here's the plan: I'll be their biggest cheerleader. I'll be right there retweeting, and sharing on Facebook, and spreading their brilliance to the farthest reaches. (I'll be blogging, too, in my tiny corner, but they'll have the podiums, the platforms, the soapboxes, and they'll take the most risks. I want them to know I've got their backs.)

All I ask is, no more postmortems. I don't want to rehash how or why Trump won. I don't want to hear that it was all Hillary's and the DNC's fault, or that anti-government voters wanted massive change, or that the racists won the day, or that Vladimir Putin and the Koch Brothers caused enough of a sneaky upheaval to cause half of America to go crazy and vote for an unqualified, ruthless carnival barker who lies with every breath he takes. I've read and heard it all.

I do want promises that we will never consider Trump normal, no matter how much good it appears he might be doing. (Because he will do good now and then, either inadvertently or as part of a larger, more malicious plan.)

I want those of us who would rather have had all four limbs severed than vote for that man to show the world that not everyone in America saw the election as an edge-of-your-seat reality show with fake winners and fake losers.

I want apologies and mea culpas from the press and the power brokers who encouraged and promoted that slimy circus, and then I want to see them all scurry to get on top of, then get to the bottom of, right down to the bones, every hint of the inevitable scandals that will be emanating from Trump headquarters.

I want to see resistance and, if necessary, revolt. I want it to be high-minded but ruthless, smart but calculating--consistent, insistent, persistent. I want to see us fight fire with pyrotechnics of volcanic proportions.

We need leaders. This movement won't survive without savvy, charismatic leaders who are brave beyond belief. Who are they? Haven't a clue. But they're out there. Somewhere.

Until they appear, it'll have to be up to us to keep this thing going. Yes, us. Who are we? It doesn't matter. We have voices, we have digital devices, we have the ability to blog and tweet and share on multiple networks. The internet is our headquarters, our virtual War Room.

We unify, we build up our numbers, we have one goal: To stop Trump and the GOP from doing our country harm. So, no fighting allowed among the ranks; no dissing or dismissing or one-upping. Trolls will be summarily banished. Preaching to the choir is the only way to fly.

We did a good job of blabbering all over the place during those months when we thought we were going to win, so it shouldn't be hard to keep it up now. (Yes, I know we lost. Your point?)

If someone you know is about to give up, shame them!  Shame them good!

Hysterical? A virtual slap upside the head. 

And if anybody has a plan, good lord, share it! We're brainstorming here!

Until the reinforcements arrive, it's up to us. I'm repeating myself, I know, but seriously--it's up to you and me and all the other bigmouths on our side. We're not afraid. We won't back down. We've got nothing to lose and maybe some little thing to gain.

Fingers at the ready. . .

Give it all you've. . .

. . . Hey, you!  Over here!  NOW!

(Oh, and Happy Holidays. Sincerely.)


(Cross-posted at Dagblog and Crooks & Liars)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Trump is Trump, But Who Are We?


Nearly three weeks in and Donald Trump is still the president-elect. Never mind how we feel; it's how he feels that counts. Just ask him. He has remained the man he always was, and why not? Good God, the man loves who he is!  His adoration for himself is dazzling. The scope of his self-love is breathtaking. In his eyes he is a commanding figure, a smooth operator, just what the world has been waiting for--a man with a colossal brain, a dick to die for, and no double chin AT ALL!

But about the rest of us: For at least the next four years, if all goes as awry as we fear it will, Donald Trump and his partners in crime will be free to make foolish and dangerous decisions affecting every single one of us.  In order to stop them, or even to slow them down, we have to figure out who we are.  We're not the same people we were before all this.  We've been rocked to our core. 

Are we bitter?  Damn right.  Are we weak?  Weakened, maybe. Are we strong? As strong as we were a few weeks ago, when we thought our strength, our mission, our remarkably good sense, would put an end to this Trump guy and all he stands for.

We were wrong. It hurts. It's awful. But we're at a place now where we can't afford to make foolish mistakes. We're divided. We've splintered into factions.  We're still muttering over how this happened and who was to blame, and we're inclined to blame each other.  We're going to have to get over that.

Still, there is no question the Democrats made some terrible blunders.  We're still hashing out what all they were, but the biggest blunder was in not addressing the real, everyday needs of the lower and middle classes.  The very people who were waiting for signs that help is on the way. It was easy to go after Trump. Every day brought something new and even more outrageous. But the needs of the people took a back seat to every shocking disclosure, until every speech, every TV ad, began to sound the same. Trump is bad. He's soooo bad. Let us count the ways. . .

It's done now, and we can either go on blaming or we can recognize that the presidency of Donald J. Trump will be anything but normal. He is and always will be a spiteful, foul-mouthed, reckless egotist--a verifiable loose cannon--only now he'll have the backing of an equally reckless GOP leadership and the aid of a cadre of dangerous characters with shady pasts and presents.

Instead of advancing our causes, we'll be fighting to keep them from disappearing entirely.  We know going in it won't be a fair fight, so the first thing we need to do is to abandon all wishful thinking. It's exactly what it appears to be.

Donald Trump will never anything but an embarrassing, privileged low-life who will spend the next four years disrespecting the office of the president and irritating the hell out of us in the process.

He'll be up at all hours tweeting silly, snotty stuff in order to draw a snarl or a laugh.  He'll be the first president in history to be accused of blatant overuse of exclamation points.

 And that's just be in his off-hours.  God knows what he'll do when he gets down to business.

So the second thing we need to do is to shake hands and make a pact:  As crazy as it's going to get, we have to be the sane ones. We're the good guys.  No matter how hard they work to beat us down, we're the good guys. And, even knowing the honor the presidency should bring, Trump will always be Trump.

As Charles Blow wrote in his column gone viral, "No, Trump, We Can't Get Along":
You are a fraud and a charlatan. Yes, you will be president, but you will not get any breaks just because one branch of your forked tongue is silver.

I am not easily duped by dopes.

I have not only an ethical and professional duty to call out how obscene your very existence is at the top of American government; I have a moral obligation to do so.
I, too, see it as my duty. And then there's that moral obligation.  I'm ready.  We're ready. 

All together now.

(Cross-posted at Dagblog and Crooks and Liars)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

America, What Have You Done?


Last night, against all odds, against everything that's holy, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States.  A vile, cruel man who flaunts his fame and fortune, who exacts revenge in the form of name-calling and slander, a man who has a history of lying, cheating, and ruthlessly attempting to destroy anyone who goes against him, will be, as of January 20, 2017, the most powerful man in the world.

He beat out Hillary Clinton, a woman who carries her own baggage--none of it nearly as heavy or as dirty as Trump's--yet who is inordinately qualified to be president, a woman who couldn't match him in bombast and showmanship but rose above him in matters of the heart, of commitment, and of intellect. 

It wasn't a glass ceiling that was shattered last night, it was our country.  The Republicans--those very same menaces who, through their obstruction and disdain for anyone other than the rich and powerful, caused most of the economic problems plaguing the voters--still came out smelling like roses. They won over the Democrats and held their majority in Congress. Those voters who felt so threatened by the government of their choosing have now willingly bought into an outrageously ludicrous line of demagogic fear-mongering and turned to someone outside of politics for solace and succor. Or revenge.

The postmortems will be coming fast and furious in the days ahead, but the die is cast, our bed is made, our new president is a nasty narcissistic loose cannon who will be in a position to fill his cabinet with his equally slimy agenda-driven cronies, to fill the Supreme Court with Scalia clones, to shut down needed social services, to rape our public lands, to deny climate change, to end the Affordable Care Act, to send packing anyone whose skin color, religion, or ethnic background, doesn't match his idea of a pure America.

He has threatened to send his opponent, Hillary Clinton, to jail.  He has threatened to take away the freedom of the press. He has threatened to "bomb the shit" out of Isis. He has aligned himself with the ugliest elements in our society, including the gun toting militias, the KKK, the NRA, and the religious right.

Vladimir Putin has already sent his congratulations.

And I'm stunned, angry, depressed, mortified, and embarrassed for my country.  I didn't create Trump, I didn't promote him, I didn't vote for him, but I'll have to live with what comes next and so will everyone I hold dear.  Some of them voted for this man, along with the millions of others who saw this inconceivable win as payback of some sort, a punch in the gut to wake us the hell up.

I'll leave it to them to figure out how they'll live in the America they've now created.  And I won't feel an ounce of pity for them when all of their wishes don't come true.

(Cross-posted at Dagblog and Crooks & Liars)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hillary, You Need To Stop Attacking Trump

Dear Hillary,

In only a few days we'll finally know which of our nation's two candidates has won the presidency.  No secret that I'm rooting for you, and that I have no earthly use for Donald Trump, but I'm begging you to stop talking about him. Right now.

We know what he is. We know how you feel about him. He's vile, he's an opportunist, he's so far from being a logical choice for a viable candidate we can't stop thinking, you and I and everyone in our camp, about how impossible, how improbable his rise to being this close to the presidency really is. We're shocked.  Okay, we're shocked.  But there it is, and the next million words about it and a million words after that won't change a thing.

Stop obsessing over him.  Forget about him altogether. You need to spend the rest of  your valuable time convincing voters you feel their pain and, what's more, you've got pretty good ideas about how to heal.

Hillary at Dartmouth - Dartmouth News

We want to know exactly what you plan to do about trade, joblessness, poverty, health care, education, infrastructure, the military, the environment and everything else that impacts our daily lives. We need to feel comfortable with handing you the keys to the highest office in the land, and it's obvious a whole lot of us are not there yet. 

We are a country so afraid, so on edge, so wary of our future, we've allowed a hate-filled, utterly ill-equipped demagogue to take over and build a ridiculously flawed case for his leadership.  The crowds his hateful taunting has been drawing for many long months should have sent shock-waves all over every single campaign throughout the land, both Democrat and Republican. He's pushing buttons you all can't seem to dismantle and it's working for him.

I don't mean to pile on you. Lord knows you get that enough of that, but if you want to get those young people, those undecideds to vote for you, you'll have to give them reason to believe in you.  Right now, less than a week before the election, they still don't. They're beginning to think your repetitive attacks on Trump are a way of sidestepping the real issues. That can't be good.

Do I need to bring up Bernie Sanders?  Do I need to remind you that he built a huge following by addressing real-world issues wholly abandoned by the Republicans and seemingly abandoned by our party, the Democrats? While I've always been your loyal supporter, I can't help but love Bernie's message.  Who wouldn't? It was, in a nutshell, "I care more about the have-nots than about the haves."  The undecideds need to believe that's your message, too. Bernie is now working to get you elected, but you'll remember that he was able to climb half way up the mountain by making his followers believe you weren't with them. It's your job to make them believe otherwise.

Let's remember, too, that Donald Trump rose to astonishing prominence by demagoguing his followers into believing he was the only one who could ease them out of their misery--an existence forced on them by a corrupt, uncaring government of, by, and for the establishment.  (Not unlike Bernie's populist message, it should be noted.)

So let's pretend Donald Trump is out of the picture.  Let's pretend your opponent is someone who knows something about politics  He or she is a Republican, a member of the same party that set out to ruin Barack Obama's--and the nation's--chances at any kind of social or economic success, simply because they couldn't stand the thought of watching our first black president get credit for a win.  These are the people working to take us down, and they'll go on working at it until we pull the rug out from under them.

Your-opponent-who-is-not-Trump understands government and policy as well as you do, and can go head-to-head over what our future will look like under either regime. They know a little something about demagoguing themselves. You need to get your game on.  You need to push the Democratic platform, which, as you know, is stronger on equity, equality and opportunity for all.  You need to ask favors of every blue collar leader you know and get them to push our agenda--the one where we win and the other side loses and the country is the better for it.  You need to energize our young voters by giving them a reason to dream.

We are a country of hard workers.  We need good paying jobs, we need good benefits, we need good retirement packages.  We need good, low-cost health care, we need education packages that build learning and literacy. We need to get back to building a solid middle class. We need more of what we used to have.

We can only get those things if you and the Dems win. If you want those things, too, then tell us.  For God's sake, tell us!  The script is there; we've written it before.  Now go out there and deliver it.  You only have a few more days.  You're wasting your time on Trump.  Leave him in the gutter. The country and its citizens are far more important.
_______________________

(Cross-posted at Dagblog and Crooks & Liars)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Women and Donald Trump: Watch Us Take Him Down


Photo credit: AP/Fortune

Every woman alive knows personally or knows about those puffy-chested, foul-mouthed, egotistical bullies who hike up their big, bad britches and talk trash about having loads of fun with our private parts.  Until now, not a single one of them ended up being a major party's candidate for President of the United States.  That's a new one.

Ever since Donald Trump swept the primaries in June and stepped up his awesomely awful reign of terror, I've been doing a lot of hand-wringing, mainly on Facebook, admitting for all the world to see that this guy Trump, a nothingburger in ways too many to count, was scaring the bejeesus out of me.  I've been horrified, terrified, scarified and very nearly petrified.

Silly me.

I'm a woman who came of age in the 1950s. My looks were nothing extraordinary but I've had my share of "accidental" brushes against my breasts, unwelcome nuzzles and attempts at kisses, and, yes, of outright gropes.

Countless times I've heard the kinds of suggestive words clueless, stupid men and boys apparently believe are all it takes to turn us on.

I doubt there are many women who have been lucky enough to sidestep any of it. It happens. But I think it's safe to say this is the first time in our history a known serial groper and admitted sexual predator has come this close to becoming President of the United States.  (Okay, stop. Don't even go there. Bill Clinton may have been a low-life serial philanderer in his younger days but he didn't mic up and brag about it; he didn't make it an essential part of who he is. He was impeached. He paid a price, and for all I know it cured him.)

But back to Trump: As of this day and yesterday and the day before, he's hemorrhaging voters and donors and party leaders as fast as the slime will flow.  He has taken to sniffing and stalking and threatening to jail his opponent as soon as he dons his robes and takes the throne. He's threatening to sue the growing numbers of women who are accusing him of gross indecency.  He's threatening to sue the New York Times for using his own actions to condemn him.  He's making noises against the First Amendment, trying to scare off the press.

He blames everyone, but he mainly blames women, and for once he's right.  We are working to take him down. No mystery. Oh, he still has his female followers--those women who will stand next to a guy wearing a tee shirt that says "She's a Cunt" and smile at the camera, those women who wear the title "Trump supporter" and, no matter what, will defend him with a grin. But, thank Hera, they're in the minority.  The rest of us are working to take Donald Trump down. To take him down.

Just before Donald Trump was seen last week stalking around the stage channeling Benito Mussolini, conjuring up New World Order conspiracies, calling out his accusers, our First Lady, Michelle Obama, gave the speech of her life, talking in exquisitely painful language about sexual predation (without mentioning names), and the effect it has on women:
This is not something that we can ignore. It's not something we can just sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season. Because this was not just a "lewd conversation." This wasn't just locker-room banter. This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior, and actually bragging about kissing and groping women, using language so obscene that many of us were worried about our children hearing it when we turn on the TV.

And to make matters worse, it now seems very clear that this isn't an isolated incident. It's one of countless examples of how he has treated women his whole life. And I have to tell you that I listen to all of this and I feel it so personally, and I'm sure that many of you do too, particularly the women. The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman.

It is cruel. It's frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts. It's like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you're walking down the street minding your own business and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares a little too long, and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin.

It's that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them, or forced himself on them and they've said no but he didn't listen — something that we know happens on college campuses and countless other places every single day. It reminds us of stories we heard from our mothers and grandmothers about how, back in their day, the boss could say and do whatever he pleased to the women in the office, and even though they worked so hard, jumped over every hurdle to prove themselves, it was never enough.
 It happens. And it's not just Donald Trump, it's every man who sees a woman's body as a mindless, soulless playground; it's every man who goes into government believing a woman's body is his to legislate.

But I can't leave this page without acknowledging the millions of men who get it, who are outraged by Donald Trump's words and actions, and who are speaking out.  You are our greatest allies, our heroes, the loves of our lives. You are our husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, friends. You energize us. It's our fight but we couldn't do this without you.


(Click here to watch Michelle Obama's remarkable speech in its entirety.)

(Cross-posted at Dagblog and Crooks and Liars)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Donald Trump is Not Redeemable. He Cannot Be President.


The first debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is behind us now and, except for the usual tiresome trolls, the racists, the bigots, the misogynists, and a few souls who genuinely want to believe a cruel, crass billionaire will be their saving Messiah, the consensus is that Hillary whomped The Donald, slammed him to the ground, and wiped the floor with him. Like a rag mop.

There's a reason for that. She knew what she was doing up there and he didn't. She's running for president and he's not. She's concerned about America while he's concerned about Donald Trump.

He cannot be president. Even in the most alternative of universes (alt-uni), Donald Trump cannot be president. By now there isn't a person in this country who hasn't seen firsthand how little he knows or cares about the presidency, about the awesome responsibilities placed on the shoulders of the Commander-in-Chief.

He thinks he can stop the presses if journalists keep being mean to him.

He thinks he can shut down regulatory departments because he's a businessman and he doesn't like regulations.

He foments mistrust and hatred for people whose color and religion don't match his.

He thinks he'll own NATO and can force world leaders to bend to his will.

If despots praise him, he'll praise them.

He has to be told the world might end if we use nuclear weapons.

He lies.

And on the personal side:

He dodged the draft and calls John McCain a loser because he was a POW.

He brags about forcing a sitting president to produce his birth certificate.

He calls women "fat pigs" and "Miss Piggy" and defends his reasons.

He thinks women who have abortions should be punished by the law.

He mimics a disabled reporter and makes fun of anyone who doesn't get his sarcasm.

He eggs on his crowds to physically attack protestors and offers to pay their fines.

He stiffs people who work for him and blames them for their own misery.

He slimes anyone who goes against him and brags about his insults.

He warns there is nowhere he won't go, nothing he won't do if he feels threatened.

He lies.

He cannot be president.


(Cross-posted at Dagblog and Crooks and Liars)

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Deplorable Thought: Trump Could Win

I was standing in line at the grocery store yesterday looking at this National Enquirer cover, trying to convince myself I'm too old to be horrified by these things anymore. It made me queasy and a little breathless but I managed to get past it and move my groceries from my cart to the belt.


When I heard a woman behind the guy behind me gasp and say, "Oh, my!" I knew without a doubt she was looking at that same tabloid cover. She was an older woman.  An "Oh, my!" sort of woman. Tiny, a little stout, a puff ball of snow white hair surrounding a sweet rosy face.  I couldn't quite hear what she was saying but I heard "Hillary".  She laughed then. She said something to the people behind her and they laughed, too.  Then she said, loudly but nicely,  "I would never vote for her, anyway!"

Well, okay. I live in Red Country.  Blood red. So red I'm not just surprised, I'm shocked whenever I meet someone who can admit out loud they'll vote for Hillary.  The Democrats up here don't flaunt their political preferences, they whisper them.  It's as if we're members of a secret cult, never letting on who we really are unless we know we're on safe ground, in the company of others like us.  Putting up yard signs for Democrats is an act of courage.

But the sweet lady in line behind me wasn't quite finished. She said something else to make the people behind her nod and laugh, and then turned back to where I could hear and threw this out: "I guess I'll just go on being deplorable."

She wasn't talking to me, of course, but it was a direct hit, a punch in the gut. The cashier handed me my change. I moved a few steps away and stood there. For many seconds. What could I say to change the mind of this woman who, I just knew, brought dishes to sick people and sent greeting cards? Okay, she may gossip a bit and look down her nose at people who get food stamps, but a Trump voter?  Inconceivable.

I left, of course, without saying anything. No magic words. What could I tell her that wasn't already out there? But I'm haunted by that woman. In another time she would be as appalled by that man as I am. Our politics might always be opposing, but on this we could agree: Never Trump.

What changed?  Do these people, nice as they may be in their private lives, really think Donald Trump would make a good or even an adequate president? Is Hillary hatred all it takes to make the thought of four years of a Trump presidency acceptable? Can't they hear him?  Don't they see he's fueled by power and hate and it consumes him?

Or is this all it takes?


For all the watching and reading I've done during this presidential campaign, trying to make sense of the rise of Trump so we could finally figure out how to fight him effectively, it took a brief encounter in a grocery line for me to finally get the message:  He could win.

Donald Trump could win.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

How Hillary Can Appease The Press


The press is rightfully annoyed. She's a presidential candidate, and she should have disclosed the pneumonia diagnosis as soon as she got it. Those aren't the rules for ordinary people, but they are the rules for presidential candidates, and once again Clinton is trying to slide by them.

So why did Clinton's people try to hide her condition? That's pretty easy: After months of baseless health speculation by Donald Trump's rumor machine, she figured the press would go full National Enquirer over this. She didn't trust them to handle it in a normal, level-headed way.

So that's that. There's a gulf of distrust between Clinton and the media that appears unbridgeable. Clinton doesn't trust the press to treat her fairly, so she adopts a hyper-guarded attitude toward everything she does. The press doesn't trust her to honestly disclose anything, so they adopt a hyper-skeptical attitude toward everything she says. Rinse and repeat.

Kevin Drum, September 12, 2016


I've been thinking for a long time about the ways Hillary Clinton might possibly appease the press and get them to look at her as a living, breathing whole person and not just Bad Hillary. I think I've finally got it.

She needs to stop being who she is and be someone else.  She could change her name to--I don't know--Mother Teresa or Mother Jones or Jo Schmo from Kokomo.  It's clear she can't go on as Hillary Clinton.

The Hillary she has lived with all her life has to go. The private Hillary can no longer compete with the public Hillary whose persona, crafted over more than 25 years by people who don't even know her, has now become a caricature. It's incredibly difficult to run for president as a caricature, even with an opponent as cartoonish as Donald Trump.

(Here I could say a few thousand words about Donald The Deplorable and never take a breath, but enough about him. I mean. Seriously. Enough.)

So here, for what it's worth, is my suggestion to members of our esteemed Fourth Estate: How about pretending the woman running for president isn't named Hillary Clinton?  How about taking a long, thorough look at that woman's record--whoever she is--to see if there is anything, any little thing, that might qualify her for the highest job in the land?

It's on you to be honest about both the pros and cons of this woman who, for this exercise, is not named Hillary Clinton. This woman has been in public service nearly all of her adult life.  She was a lawyer first and then she married a man who became the governor of Arkansas and then became the President of the United States.

She was a First Lady twice but nobody knew anything more about her than they knew about Laura Bush or Michelle Obama. She was a senator in the state of New York but nobody knew anything more about her than they knew about her colleague, Chuck Schumer. She ran for president against Barack Obama and lost, which brought her some attention but no more than any other losing candidate.  President Obama chose her for Secretary of State but nobody knew any more about her than they knew about Colin Powell or John Kerry.

This woman who isn't named Hillary Clinton has indefatigable energy but doesn't brag about her accomplishments. She's not the best at public speaking but aces it one-on-one and in small groups. She laughs a lot, sometimes even at herself.  She's pretty damned popular both here and around the planet.

There are people who hate her but the numbers are lower for her because her name doesn't carry the stigma created and maintained by a real, honest-to-goodness vast Right Wing conspiracy.  She makes mistakes, some of them true head-scratchers.  She says dumb things she often has to take back.  She has been known to consort with filthy rich people who probably want favors from her, and with celebrities who are known Liberals. But she's just one among hundreds of other politicians who don't have to answer for their every waking moment, so it'll be okay. Since she's not Hillary Clinton, she'll be able to concentrate on talking about her dreams, her wishes, her goals for the country.

(She may even be able to struggle through a bout with pneumonia without several days of full-bore "breaking news", not so much about her prognosis but about her lack of due diligence when reporting it to the hovering, stalking press.)

There is a real Hillary Clinton, almost identical to this woman, but if you, as members of our venerable press, want us to believe you've been looking for her, you're going to have to work harder at convincing us. Put away your magnifiers and look at the whole woman before you. Analyze controversies, don't create them. Report truthfully about what you observe. Include context. Let molehills be molehills.

It's not on us, it's not on Hillary, it's on you. Now let's see who you are.

(Cross-posted at Dagblog and Crooks and Liars)