Thursday, October 17, 2019

A Most Sublime Presidency: What If Amy Klobuchar Should Win?

I’ll start this off by saying though I’m leaning toward someone who isn’t Amy Klobuchar, I’m not endorsing anyone for the 2020 presidential election yet. It’s way too early for me. But I’ve been watching Sen. Klobuchar and what I’m seeing is a compassionate, pragmatic Midwesterner wearing her decency on her sleeve. 

She’s quiet-spoken and without guile. She’s uncomfortable bragging about her own accomplishments but doesn’t hesitate to share her resumé when it’s necessary to remind people of her bona fides. She lurks and waits and then pounces with surprisingly tough precision whenever she sees an opening. She’s a force. Not a tornado, but a steady wind driving us toward safety.

I like her. I really, really like her. I like many of the other candidates, too, but Klobuchar eases my heart. I relax when she speaks. I calm down. I hear what she’s saying and I can picture her in the Oval Office, sitting at the Resolute desk, speaking the plain truth with ease and clarity.

She’s funny the way Barack Obama is funny. Her sense of humor doesn’t lean toward snark. If she uses it to skewer she wraps it in velvet first. I could be comfortable with Amy in the White House, and right now comfort is not a word that readily comes up in politics.

I know, even as I write this, that there will be pushback to what I’m saying here. Someone will dig up a quote or an action that will attempt to prove me wrong. So here — I’ll save them the trouble on this one point: I didn’t like what she did to Al Franken. He was her Senate colleague in Minnesota and she knew him as well as anybody, but, when the time came, she joined the others and urged him to “do the right thing” and resign.

Her rush to tell him to resign was infuriating, considering they were supposed friends, and considering his entire female staff came to his defense. I didn’t think I would ever forgive her for that. But I have. She made me forgive her. She has that ability.

So, yes, I could see Amy Klobuchar as the antidote to Donald Trump. She is everything he is not. But how would she be with foreign policy? With the Republicans who won’t be happy when Donald loses? With the aggrieved Trumpsters who will see her as a weak woman they can easily topple? With the fake churchies who thought they were on their way to a theocracy, if not the rapture?

She’d be just fine. She would surround herself with experts and with people who care about this country’s mental and physical health as much as we all do. She would recruit the best of the best and she would listen. She wouldn’t embarrass us in her trips abroad and she would NEVER shove another world leader out of the way in order to get up front. (Not that any of the others would, either. They wouldn’t.)

But don’t let her Minnesota Nice fool you. She was a prosecutor once. She grew up blue collar tough.Her staff says she can be fearsome. She’s been known to make some of them cry. (Okay, I’m not okay with that. Just so you know.) But there’s something about her that says, “Don’t worry. I’ve got this. We’re going to be okay.”

Look, I’m tired. We’re all tired. And this is just thinking out loud — maybe this is what we’re going to need after the madness. But who knows? By the time you read this she may have already dropped out. She’s not all that high on the Popular list. Here’s all I’m saying: With Klobuchar there would be no unnecessary drama. It wouldn’t get personal. Chaos would give in to calm. She’s steady. As a rock. She’s forthright. She would hold us together. When this Trump thing is finally over she would work at healing us. I might even sleep the whole night through. That would be nice.


(Cross-posted at Medium/Indelible Ink.)

Friday, October 11, 2019

Elizabeth Warren was Fired for Being Pregnant

It was common practice to punish women for being mothers while holding a job. It still is.

Photo by Ryan Franco on Unsplash
Because we’re the only gender with wombs, women hold an odd place, even in modern-day culture. We’re expected, if not required, to bring children into the world above all else, even when pregnancy isn’t wanted, is inconvenient, or is dangerous. But once we’re pregnant, or mothers — or even women of child-bearing age — we become suspect in the workplace.

Suppose we have children whose needs might come first? What then? How does that jibe in a profit-motivated system where worker bees are required to work their asses off in order for their employers to make buckets full of money? What has to come first, the job or the kid? In this system, it’s the job. It’s always been the job.

I have no idea if Elizabeth Warren planned her pregnancy way back when she was a teacher, but I do know for a fact that she could be fired once her pregnancy began to show. I also know for a fact the reason for the firing would never be listed on paper as “pregnancy”.

The ignorance of those GOP “fact-checkers” looking for a record of Sen. Warren’s claims — that she was fired for having a child — is astounding. There is no record. Of course there is no record.

When I was a kid in school in the 1940s and 1950s, our female teachers were always known as “Miss”. If they were married, we couldn’t know it. If they became pregnant, we couldn’t know it. Why not? Because, while male teachers could have families and could even talk about them, female teachers had to appear asexual. No one wanted impressionable children to be thinking about female teachers having sex.

They had dress codes. They were walking, talking text books with no life outside the classroom. When one of them suddenly disappeared in the middle of a semester, we weren’t told they were on maternity leave, we were simply told a new teacher would be taking their place.

When I was in high school in the early 1950s, two of our teachers were married to each other. That was so unheard of we never stopped talking about it. To us it was kind of…delicious. And subversive.

But it wasn’t just teachers. Women with children were discriminated against in every work place. Women with children were a liability. Their loyalties would never lie with their jobs as long as there were children at home. Children get sick, they need care, they need nurturing. They are a distraction when the clock is ticking, the work piles up, and their employer makes demands that require a Hobson’s choice.

It’s never easy for mothers to put their best into outside jobs. Women with good paying jobs can afford good child care. Women with crap jobs paying too little aren’t so lucky. But every mother faces those days when their jobs demand their attention but their children need them even more.

Women need to be mothers first. That’s a fact. It’s also the excuse employers make to keep women down. Women have always been behind men in work pay, and the reason, often spoken out loud, is because women can’t devote as much time or attention to their jobs. Never mind that not all women are mothers, or that not all women still have children at home. They’re shoved into the same box because it’s convenient — because god forbid men ever have to acquiesce to the notion that women might be their equals.

You may have noticed that no woman has ever been President. It’s a big deal every time a woman wins a job over a man, no matter the title. Being a woman in a “man’s job” is a liability that we should have gotten over long ago, but there are still far fewer women in government than there are men. That isn’t going to change until attitudes change, and as long as the GOP holds the cards, that’s not likely.

When it comes to motherhood, America is a bastion of hypocrisy. Half the people in our country think there’s nothing wrong with forcing women to carry a fetus to term, sending the message loud and clear that their own ambitions will always have to take a back seat to motherhood.

At the same time, there are forces working inside our government to take away any protections families, including single mothers, might need to care for their children. Cuts in everything from health care to food stamps to housing allowances makes the children of those struggling families vulnerable. Our government refuses to take care of the children born to women who have few or no resources. Our government refuses to even see them.

But that will all change if a woman becomes President. Can Elizabeth Warren break that glass ceiling? Or Kamala Harris? Or Amy Klobuchar? The question now is, are we ready for a woman president?

I know. It’s a silly question. Of course we’re ready. We’re long past ready.

~ ~ ~

(Cross-posted at Medium/Indelible Ink)

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Twitter: The Essential Battleground for The Resistance

Public Domain - Pixabay

Last week, after Donald Trump, the purported President of the United States, learned the Democratic-dominated House of Representatives would, in fact, begin impeachment inquiries, he took to Twitter to tweet more than 100 times in a single day.  He went from whining, to bragging, to threatening a whistle-blower, to predicting civil war if we didn't stop messing with him.

Trump has latched onto Twitter like a leech on the jugular and uses it as an unseemly venue for official policy, as his own personal PR firm, and as the delivery system for threats and intimidation against anyone or any organization threatening to expose or topple him.

It's because he understands the power of Twitter better than almost anybody.

Almost anybody.

There are Trump acolytes, there are trolls, there are bots, there are masters of disinformation everywhere, but I'm here to talk about those of us working against Trump, using Twitter to do it.

We are the #Resistance and we never sleep. We're out there and our numbers are growing. For us, Twitter is a battleground, it's a staging area, it's headquarters for those leading the charge against the tyranny that is Trumpism.

We're the witnesses, the couriers, the voices of the opposition. We follow the good guys and shed light on the disinformation coming from the bad guys, and, if nothing else comes of it, we take satisfaction where we can get it: We know we're getting to Trump when he has to tweet more than 100 times in a single day.

Through Twitter, we get real-time updates on the battles raging on every front, and we send them on, like smoke signals, to the resistance pods all around the country.

Is there a protest coming up? We know about it. Is there a March in the works? We pass along the info, right down to where to catch the buses.

When this rogue administration abuses citizens or foreigners or refugees, we've read the first hand accounts from the victims or their families and we send out tweets to lawyers or scholars or social justice warriors who are known to us now and are ready to help.

When someone fights the system and is in danger of being harmed, we expose the abuses. We know who to tweet to give them a hand. Millions of us retweet the information to give it more visibility.

Twitter is a morass of bad information but it's also a funnel for good journalism.  When the press and/or the pundits get it right, we send their stories into the viralsphere. When they get it wrong, we show them the error of their ways--and we often win. We win because they can't ignore the Twitter warriors coming down on them, forcing them to look again.

Because the other side Tweets, too, we know their thoughts and see right through them. In mere minutes we can counter and dilute their lies. In mere minutes.

As with any war zone, there is a dark side. You may have noticed. There are forces working against the resistance, and they're experts at obfuscating and gaslighting. They're ruthless and formidable and sometimes terrifying. They come from every corner of the planet. Sometimes they're real and sometimes they're not.  It's easy to get caught up in a whirlwind attack meant to intimidate and shut the resister down, but the Twitter Resistance community knows the difference and spreads the word.

That's where courage comes in, and we're bravest when we're not alone. The list below is my own personal list of people to follow on Twitter. I look to them for expertise, for analysis, for inspiration. I trust them. I know they've done their homework, and I know if they make a mistake they'll own up to it.

If you're new to Twitter, don't be intimidated by its uniqueness. Embrace it. When you follow any of these people, be sure to retweet their tweets. Retweeting begets retweeting and, if it begets often enough, it sends a viral message to the opposition. There are more of us than there are of them, and we're real. Don't buy into the lie that retweeting does no good. Getting our message out is part of being a community. This is how we do it.  Commenting helps, too, even if you disagree. This is a dialogue, a conversation, a convention. Be a part of it.

These are our people and they're preaching to the choir, they're using their bullhorns to yell it loud, they're showing us by their light that ethics and decency are not dead. (Some of them are hilariously entertaining, but we need that, too.)

If Trump wants a digital civil war, we're way ahead of him. We're already at the battlements. New recruits are coming in every day. We're an all-volunteer army and we won't stop until we've stopped the madness.

Some of our Twitter buddies, in first name alphabetical order. (Because it just looks better.)
Check them out. This isn't a complete list, by any means, and I've left off politicians and publications (because they're easy to find and I needed to save space), but it's a start. I'll be adding to the list so come back often. Let me know if I've missed someone you think should be here:

Adam Parkhomenko
Alyssa Milano
Amy Siskind
Andrea Chalupa
Andy Lassner
Ana Navarro-Cardenas
Asha Rangappa
Aunt Crabby Calls Bullshit

Barbara Malmet
Barb McQuade
Bob Cesca
Brian Beutler
Brian J. Karem 
Bryce Tache

Charles Blow
Charles P. Pierce
Charlotte Clymer
Connie Schultz
Chris Savage - Eclectablog

Dan Froomkin
Dan Rather
Daniel Dale
David Corn
David Rothkopf
David Weissman
Dean Obeidallah
Debra Messing
Dr. Dena Grayson

Elie Mystal
Eric Boehlert 
Eugene Robinson

Glenn Kirschner
Greg Sargent

Heidi N. Moore
Howard Dean

Ian Millhiser

Jacob Soboroff
Jason Johnson
Jason Karsh
Jay Rosen
Jed Shugerman
Jennifer Rubin
Jill Wine Banks
Jim Acosta
Joan Walsh
John Fugelsang
John Pavlovitz
Josh Marshall
Joshua Holland
Joy Reid
Joyce Alene (Joyce White Vance)
Judd Legum

Kurt Eichenwald 
Kyle Griffin

Larry Sabato
Laurence Tribe
Lawrence O'Donnell

Malcolm Nance
Margaret Sullivan
Mark Hamill
Maya Wiley
Michael McFaul
Mimi Rocah 
Molly Jong-Fast

Natasha Bertrand
Neal Katyal
Neera Tanden
Nicolle Wallace
Norman Goldman

Patton Oswalt
Preet Bharara
Prof Helen
Paul Krugman

Rabbi Jill Zimmerman
Rachel Maddow
Renato Mariotti
Rob Reiner
Roland Scahill