Nel's New Day

April 17, 2017

Pence, A Scary Dude

The far-right and even a few liberal pundits had a meltdown a few weeks ago about ridicule and outrage directed toward VP Mike Pence. The subject was the “Billy Graham Rule” of 1948 that banned men from certain social and business situations. A man cannot have dinner alone with another woman: he must take his wife with him. In addition, a man cannot be without his wife if he is with other people where alcohol is served. I don’t know if a man can have coffee alone with a woman; I haven’t read the complete code.

In the 21st century, the United States vice president has a behavioral code that diminishes women to sluts who will all attack a man if they are alone with him at a dinner. And he’s not alone in this belief: females are frequently made responsible for all male transgressions toward them—infidelity, sexual assault, etc. Beyond demeaning women, the “rule” removes women from all professional interactions in networking, mentoring, and one-to-one time. An anonymous 2015 National Journal survey of female staffers in Congress showed that exclusion from one-on-one time with their male bosses was a “huge impediment to moving up.”

For centuries, women have been “protected” from opportunities in education and the job market. The discrimination starts early with school dress codes only for girls. For example, a dress code in a North Carolina public charter school requires girls to wear skirts and bans their wearing pants. The school’s founder, Baker Mitchell, explained that the mandate is “to preserve chivalry and respect among young women and men” and that a woman is “a fragile vessel that men are supposed to take care of and honor.” A school board supported the requirement as preparation for workplaces with gendered clothing, beginning with an example of the restaurant Hooters.

All school dress codes for girls follow Pence’s example—that they are a “distraction” to males: it’s the female responsibility to control men’s “baser urges.” Enforcement is then used to shame and victim-blame girls. Another solution in schools for “protection” is single-sex classrooms, following the Pence Plan. School officials reason that teenage boys are “distracted” from school work by the presence of girls. The program is not intended to teach young people to work together as equals because in a Pence World, there is no need.

A serious disadvantage of the Pence Plan for more secular people is that, as a far-right evangelical Christian, he thinks that everyone should behave in the way that he does. “Religious freedom” allows anyone to deny everyone else anything if the “religious” person disagrees with the beliefs or actions of the other person. If a Muslim, such as Keith Ellison, were to refuse to have dinner alone with a woman not his wife, evangelicals would be grabbing their petitions to prevent Sharia Law. The former CEO of the blog RedState agreed with the Pence Plan saying that his eating alone with woman not his spouse is acceptable only for “planning your spouse’s surprise party or funeral and that is it.” He is a strong supporter of the party that elected the man who rejoiced in his right to grab “pussy” whenever he wished.

Melania Trump, almost invisible in her role as First Lady, said in a speech at the state department’s International Women of Courage Awards:

“We must continue to fight injustice in all its forms, in whatever scale or shape it takes in our lives.”

Yet that same week during Women’s History Month, Press Secretary Sean Spicer ordered reporter April Ryan not to shake her head at him, and Fox host (maybe) Bill O’Reilly, known for his sexual assaults, ridiculed Rep. Maxine Walters’ (D-CA) hair. DDT asked a group of women if they had ever heard of Susan B. Anthony. In Iowa, a legislator wants a pregnant woman to carry her dead fetus to term because it “saves babies’ lives.”

The day after he addressed a “Women’s Empowerment Panel” at the White House, VP Mike Pence cast the 51st deciding vote to stop mandates for states to deliver family planning services to people with low income through Planned Parenthood—about four million patients across the nation. Spicer said that DDT “made women’s empowerment a priority,” but Pence took away women’s empowerment to get contraceptives, well-woman exams, and cancer screenings. Pence, like DDT, has meetings with no or few women present. Far-right males love this position because of their anger about losing their rightful superiority to women and minorities. Their ticket won with the biggest gender gap in a presidential election while men wore “Trump That Bitch” T-shirts. Pence has joined DDT in removing the ability of women to decide their futures—even when or if to have children. The game plan is to win the next election with male-domination.

Those who want to impeach DDT need to think about the fact that DDT is the only person blocking the United States from male Christian domination by the Family or the Fellowship, an evangelical cult with an office on Capitol Hill.  In his book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, Jeff Sharlett writes:

“The enemy, to them, is secularism. They want a God-led government. That’s the only legitimate government. So when they speak of business, they’re speaking not of something separate from God, but they’re speaking of what, in Mike Pence’s circles, would be called biblical capitalism, the idea that this economic system is God-ordained.”

An example of Pence’s determination to overcome government officials is his hiring a private law firm when Indiana’s attorney general refused to join a lawsuit to overturn President Obama’s executive order about immigrants, charging taxpayers for the cost, and then hiding information about it. When a citizen filed a public records request for the cost and other communications, Pence argued that the courts had no control over what he chose to reveal. An appeals court rejected Pence’s argument but agreed with Pence that the information was privileged attorney-client communication. The basis of the lawsuit, originated by Texas senior official Daniel Hodge, is its attempt to control executive orders—which should be embarrassing for a man who works for a president who constantly signs executive orders. Before DDT, Pence agreed that “the unchecked expansion of executive authority … threatens the constitutional balance of power.” That argument has disappeared with a Republican president. Another Pence problem is the scrutiny regarding his use of a private email account to conduct state business while he was Indiana’s governor. Pence frequently criticized Hillary Clinton for her private email server.

Pence’s issues go far deeper than the problems listed above. Following is my letter published in the Eugene Register Guard:

People who believe that the “scientific method … is in no danger from Vice President Mike Pence’s … religion” should consider his history. As governor of Indiana, he signed a bill into law forcing women to carry non-viable pregnancies to term. Not only anti-abortion in all cases, he also cosponsored legislation to ban common forms of contraception, stem-cell research, and in vitro fertilization. Believing that LGBT people can be made heterosexual, he supported electroshock therapy for LGBT children and fought marriage equality. His opposition to HIV/AIDS programs started a full-blown epidemic in his own state.

In his refusal to believe science, he said “global warming is a myth” and thinks that smoking isn’t harmful to health because only one-third of smokers die from a smoking-related illness. According to Pence, even the smallest quantity of cannabis possession should be a felony rather than a misdemeanor.

Pence refused to comply with federal rules to reduce prison rape, tried to ban state agencies from bringing Syrian refugees into his state, and defended the Iraq War, calling it a “victory.”

Mike Pence is anti-worker, anti-woman, anti-minority, anti-elders, anti-poor, anti-environment, anti-nonChristian, anti-media, anti-science, and pro-war. He is more dangerous than the current president because he is a religious zealot, determined to force everyone in the nation to follow his far-right non-scientific evangelical Christian view of the world. None of his beliefs have any connection with “the scientific method.”

More information about Pence is here and here.

Mike Pence is now playing president in Asia, claiming that “the era of strategic patience is over” with North Korea and that the bombing of Syria and Afghanistan shows our “strength and resolve.” No matter how tough Pence tries to look, he’ll have trouble out-bullying Kim Jong-Un. The result may be another war in Korea—if we don’t expire from nuclear weapons. But then Pence loves a good holy war. At least the military–not Pence or DDT–is making all decisions regarding strikes, bombings, and other warlike activities. Even with all the civilians who they have killed, the Pentagon may have more sense than the two men elected vice president and president.

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January 28, 2017

Women’s March Affects Entire World, All Ages

I couldn’t stop laughing! A poll shows that Republican males believe that their lives are harder than those of women. Men make more money for the same work, have a far less chance of rape, don’t have their reproductive rights attacked, and do far more housework than men while holding a full-time job, but white men are the “low people on the totem pole” and “everybody else is above the white man,” according to an 81-year-old retired police captain. He complained that “everything in general is in favor of a woman. No matter what happens in life, it seems like the man’s always at fault.”

In this survey taken after the election, only 41 percent of GOP men think now is a good time to be a man. Although one-third of women feel unsafe because of their gender, only 20 percent of men understand that women feel this way. Thirty percent of women frequently feel sexually objectified, but again only 20 percent of men think that women feel this way. Benevolent sexism–the “negative consequences of attitudes that idealize women as pure, moral, pedestal-worthy objects of men’s adoration, protection and provision”–is rampant among men. With their bias of gender roles, 69 percent of men think that women should be protected, and 47 percent believe that women are more ethical and moral. At least 43 percent of parents reported that the election made them teach their children about sexual assault and consent, something President Donald Trump (PDT) was evidently not taught.

One week ago, millions of people throughout the world marched for women’s rights, and some conservative males weren’t happy.

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel: “So a group of unhappy liberal women marched in Washington DC. We shouldn’t be surprised; almost all liberal women are unhappy. Perhaps there’s a correlation. But I do have a question: if they can afford all those piercings, tattoos, body paintings, signs, and plane tickets, then why do they want us to pay for their birth control?”

Indiana state Sen. Jack Sandlin: “In one day Trump got more fat women out walking than Michelle Obama did in 8 years.”

Nebraska state Sen. Bill Kintner: A retweeting of LA talk show host Larry Elder mocking a photo of three women with signs protesting PDT’s comments about his personal sexual assault was capped by Kintner’s statement, “Ladies, I think you’re safe.”

Texas state Rep. Tony Tinderholt: About his support to make abortion completely illegal, “Right now, it’s real easy. Right now, they don’t make it important to be personally responsible because they know that they have a backup of ‘oh, I can just go get an abortion.’ Now, we both know that consenting adults don’t always think smartly sometimes. But consenting adults need to also consider the repercussions of the sexual relationship that they’re gonna have, which is a child.”

Michael Flynn Jr., son of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to women: “What MORE do you want? Free mani/pedis?”

Atlantic County (NJ) GOP Freeholder John Carman: “Will the women’s protest be over in time for them to cook dinner?”

PDT: “Why didn’t these people vote?”

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According to the New York Times, the women’s January 21, 2017 march on Washington, D.C. had 470,000 people (above left), three times the 160,000 who attended PDT’s inauguration the day before (above right).

inauguration-comparison

Crowd scientists were comfortable with the number for the inauguration, but thought that the number of people attending women’s march could be much larger because it was more sprawling and fluid—maybe as many as one million. They explained that PDT might have assumed that his crowd was larger because he could see only the front third of the crowd. Scientists monitored seven life feeds all day from a variety of perspectives. President Obama’s 2009 inauguration audience (above left) will continue to be the largest history. (Below: women’s march in Washington, D.C.)

Texas-based Southwest Airlines illuminated some of their cabins with a glowing support of the Women’s March. Pink is the “unofficial” color worn and used in support of Planned Parenthood.

 

antarctica-protestThe protest went as far as Antarctica. (right)

march-childEven a four-year-old girl participated.

 

 

 

 

The women’s march was arguably the largest in U.S. history; numbers keep rising up to 5 million—over one percent of the country’s population—which doesn’t count many of the protesters from the hundreds of small cities and towns in every state across the nation.

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In Stanley, Idaho (population of 63), almost half the town—30 people—protested. I’m proud to say that my small town of 10,000 had at least 1,600 people turning out for its “Stronger Together March.”

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And of course, Portland (OR) did us proud. (Photo below by Ann Hubbard)

march-crowd

leaviing-melanie-behindJust as PDT leaves his wife behind, he plans to ignore the women in the United States.

 

Despite claims made by conservatives that women are fat and ugly and shallow, that they don’t need financial help, that white men are at the bottom of humanity, “this is what democracy looks like!” Keep in mind that women make up over half the population in the United States. We think, care, work, and vote.

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December 2, 2016

U.S. Suffers from White Male Entitlement

A virulent genetic disorder overwhelming the United States continues to pass from one generation to another. Supported by a male monotheistic religion, Christianity has increased the genetic white supremacy during the past half millennium through killing of women accused of being witches, Muslims starting with the crusades, heathens to reform them, etc. Although science identifies no racial differences, skin color has been vital to the control of the nation. “Red” Native Americans were slaughtered and still being persecuted, and “black” captives were and are enslaved and mistreated to create a fortune for the ruling—i.e., white—class. Yet columnist Charles Krauthammer mourns how “the white working class [is] left out in the cold, neglected and condescended to as both our social status and economic conditions decline.” The neglect is  no longer recognizing his “race” as being  superior.

The White Male Supremacy Violence Disease (WMSVD) controlling religion, government, education, media, military institutions, and income was threatened during the past election, and the WMSVDers fought back with a vengeance. The anger built since a black (actually biracial) man moved into the White House with his black wife and children. Hatred for him was commonly displayed in social media, emails, and tweets while the haters kept trying to convince the world that they could not possibly be racists.

Racism has permeated the country since its inception. Slaves were classified as three-fifths of a human in the U.S. Constitution, the persecution of Jim Crow started as soon as the Civil War was over, and Republicans developed the “Southern Strategy” in the late 1960s by appealing to racism in order to dominate the majority of the states in the Union. By the campaign of Donald Trump (DT), the white men’s terror that they were losing their superior entitlement guided the line of attack.

DT’s surrogates such as Rudy Guiliani and white supremacist Steve Bannon have compared his victory to that of Andrew Jackson, a wealthy slave owner nicknamed “Indian Killer”who  massacred thousands of Native Americans and killed more on a death march to clear their land for cotton plantations complete with slaves because, to Jackson, people of color weren’t human. He started the Seminole War and then fabricated “evidence” to get two British men executed in another violation of justice. Yet conservatives in the U.S. became furious when the Secretary of Treasury attempted to replace his image on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman.

The so-called “neglected” white men who had to put up with a black man in the White House for eight years weren’t about to a woman lead the country. By 2016, 52 percent held a “very unfavorable” view of Hillary Clinton, 20 points higher than their “very unfavorable” view of President Obama in 2012 and 32 points higher than the percentage for this rating of the president in 2008. They delighted in DT calling for shouts of “lock her up” at the GOP convention and ensuing DT rallies–even the one this past week. Journalist Peter Beinart found these messages on merchandise at the convention:

  • Don’t be a pussy; vote for Trump in 2016.
  • Trump 2016: finally someone with balls.
  • Trump that bitch.
  • Hillary sucks but not like Monica.
  • Life’s a bitch: don’t vote for one.
  • KFC Hillary Special: 2 fat thighs, 2 small breasts, left wing.

And more with highly disgusting visuals.

Research reveals that the emasculation that most feared by men  is subordination to women, and women who need traditional gender roles are also afraid of male subordination. Both genders judge women more harshly than powerful men. Males are prized for being ambitious, but ambitious women engender “feelings of moral outrage” such as contempt, anger, and disgust.

Jennifer Berdahl of the University of British Columbia found that women who “deviated from traditional gender roles—by occupying a ‘man’s’ job or having a ‘masculine’ personality” were disproportionately targeted for sexual harassment. The same harassment occurs when women even propose that she might violate traditional gender roles. In southern cities, locations where more men maintain traditional gender perspectives, higher rates of male-on-female murder occur with greater economic equality between men and women.

In the United States, people who “completely agree” that society is becoming “too soft and feminine” were more than four times as likely to have a “very unfavorable” view of Clinton as those who “completely disagree.” And DT’s supporters believed that the U.S. isn’t “tough” enough.

Clinton is highly popular when she isn’t campaigning, when she’s actually in an office. And she was most popular when she played the traditional role of “First Lady” and then serving a male president as Secretary of State. As a president, however, she would have been one of the “illegitimate authorities.” People attacked her for trying, and she became increasingly defensive. Past experience taught her than admitting a mistake armed her enemies, and she became paranoid—probably because people really were out to get her.

People blamed President Obama for increasing racism in the country, but his position gave whites “the perceived moral license to express more critical attitudes about minorities,” according to a study. With Clinton no longer a threat, white men will know that they have again achieved a greater level of superiority.

For 50 years, Clinton worked to achieve her goal to help people by complying with traditional gender norms—changing her last name to match her husband, changing her hair, being more submissive, etc., etc. Yet the media and their readers still focused on her glasses, her pantsuits, her increasing weight, her voice, etc. She worked across the aisle and forgave the criticism, moving forward.

The “common scold” laws punishing only women during the colonial days of America for quarreling have quietly continued into the 21st century. It continues with describing women’s mannerisms as scolding, shrill, slutty, weak—including DT’s references to women as a pig or dog. Any woman who asserts herself—especially when running for president—is too loud or ambitious or brash.

White male entitlement was obvious during the NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum earlier this year. Facilitator Matt Lauer interrupted Clinton far more than DT, asked her more challenging questions, and questioned her answers more often. This behavior follows studies about interruptions in conversations and other negative treatment of women.

Democrats have spent the past three weeks trying to analyze the reasons that Clinton lost—racism, need for jobs, a weak Democratic presidential candidate, problems such as Clinton’s emails, accepting money for speeches from Wall Street, supporting trade deals and the Iraq War in the past, etc. Their primary objections, however, were to her personality, blaming her for being arrogant and not friendly enough. Trump was overwhelmingly arrogant, not friendly, and obnoxious. But he’s a white man.

White males now want to take over the Democratic party because they think women cannot win. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio tried to oust California’s Nancy Pelosi as House Dem leader because he thinks she has the “wrong message.” He wants to concentrate on jobs “because we’re not talking about the kind of things that are on people’s minds.” Ryan says that no one cares about the Zika virus, possibly the next health epidemic, and accuses Pelosi of not being able to talk with the “beer-drinking” union members.

As of today, Hillary Clinton has won the popular vote by 2.5 million despite the constant battering from Congress, the media, and members of her own party. She is the only presidential candidate to be openly opposed by the FBI–the weeks immediately before the election–and the Russian government. She ran against a candidate with no moral compass who lied 80 percent of the time and made promises that he knew he wouldn’t keep the other 20 percent. And she ran in the first presidential election since the Supreme Court wiped out laws to stop voter suppression.

Across the country, GOP-controlled states stopped low-income voters from exercising their freedom to vote: North Carolina would have been hers if the GOP governor had not stopped minority voters in 18 of 100 counties from early voting; Wisconsin would have gone for her if officials had not illegally kept low-income voters from getting IDs; Florida would have been a Clinton state if minorities had not been kept from the polls by intimidation; Texas might have been competitive if officials had not lied to low-income people about their eligibility to vote; etc. And Democrats could have taken over the House if not for the gerrymandering after the 2010 GOP takeover.

Scottie Hughes, Trump surrogate, claims that facts are “an idea of an opinion,” that “there’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts.” During his campaign, DT continually promised that he would keep Carrier in the United States when the Indiana-based air conditioning and heating systems maker threatened to take 1,400- jobs to Mexico. People voted for DT because of his promises, but he said this week that he didn’t remember saying that. He also promised that he wouldn’t pay off companies to stay. Yet Carrier gets $7 million from Indiana’s taxpayers to keep 1,000 jobs—how long no one knows—while Carrier sends another 1,000 to Mexico. Yet DT said that he didn’t really make this promise, that it was “a euphemism.” People voted for DT because he made this “euphemism.”

The United States is a culture of white male entitlement. Those who put up with Barack Obama in the White House decided that they wouldn’t let a female take over when President Obama left. And now the white males of the Democratic party are deciding to throw women under the bus in hopes that they can take back the country.

October 4, 2016

Pence May Be Worse Than Trump, Can’t Defend Him

Democratic Tim Kaine and GOP Mike Pence, vice-presidential candidates, just squared off in the only VP debate of 2016, and the GOP blogged that Pence won—hours before the debate began. The blog soon disappeared, but it does leave all their other opinions open to question. [Photograph: Andrew Gombert/AFP/Getty Images]

debate

Both candidates have been in Congress and both have been elected to governor, but their future—if they don’t get elected—may follow a different path. Kaine would go back to the Senate if Trump succeeds. Pence jumped at the offer to be Trump’s running mate because he was unlikely to be re-elected for another gubernatorial term in Indiana. If he isn’t elected, Pence would be looking for another job—perhaps back to the U.S. House of Representatives. Reports from closed door meetings showed that Pence may not get a warm greeting from representatives because of Trump’s attitude toward women.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) said that his daughter had told him that “Trump hates women,” and Pence denied it, claiming that he was improving with women. In a private meeting with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Pence was pressed on his reluctance to denounce former KKK leader David Duke and the Alt-Right movement. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) rebuked Pence and called Russian president Vladimir V. Putin “a thug and a butcher,” referring to Trump’s acceptance of the dictator to be unacceptable.

Trump is well known for his sexist attitude toward women, but Pence has been in a position to make life much worse for women:

  • Pence repeatedly voted for a law to criminalize abortion with no exception for a woman’s health and puts doctors into prison for up to two years.
  • Pence repeatedly cosponsored legislation to not only make abortion illegal in almost all cases but also ban common forms of contraception, stem-cell research, and in vitro fertilization.
  • Pence repeatedly voted to allow hospitals to refuse to provide emergency abortion care, even when a woman’s life is in danger.
  • Pence signed a bill to force women to carry non-viable pregnancies to term.
  • Pence’s Department of Health gave a $3.5 million contract to a “pregnancy crisis center” that lies to pregnant women about their options.
  • Pence signed every anti-abortion bill, including one mandating funerals for aborted or miscarried fetuses. A judge overturned that law as unconstitutional.
  • Pence forced a Planned Parenthood clinic to close in Scott County which led to a huge outbreak of HIV.

In an argument supporting a state law against abortion, Pence claimed that women might get voluntarily raped hoping to get pregnant and avoid work:

“And it gets worse – when you get an abortion, you get several days off of work and whatnot to recover. And there are a lot of crazy people out there. What if women would go out and get raped on purpose just so they could get off work? I mean, Indiana’s economy is struggling as it is, and having thousands of women absent from their jobs would be horrific for the state, I’m telling you. I made the right call and that will be confirmed in the long run.”

Pence is also anti-worker:

  • Pence worked to keep Indiana a “right to work” state by forcing unions to provide grievance and bargaining services to non-members free of charge. Although two judges ruled the law unconstitutional, the state Supreme Court upheld Pence’s law.
  • Pence opposes increasing the minimum wage above $7.25 and signed a bill keeping local governments from raising this amount.
  • Pence signed a law repealing the state’s common construction wage, meaning that local boards cannot allocate wages for publicly-funded construction projects.
  • Pence also supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership because he thinks that his state would “enjoy increased market access and fairly compete on the world stage.” Unions—and Donald Trump—oppose TPP because it hurts manufacturing jobs.

Pence also opposes LGBT rights by signing a “right-to-discriminate” bill against LGBT people fighting the right of gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military. More Pence positions that make Trump proud.

The problem with running for an important office is that past peccadilloes sometimes come back to haunt a candidate. In 1990, Mike Pence, like Marco Rubio, used campaign funds to pay for personal items, in Pence’s case the mortgage on his house, his personal credit card bill, groceries, golf tournament fees, and car payments for his wife. Because it was not illegal, the FEC created rules preventing the use of campaign funds for personal needs. Pence lost his race for the House by 19 points. This fact needs to be pointed out when Pence falsely complains about Hillary Clinton’s expenditures.

Pence may get another black eye from his refusal to pardon an innocent man. A man convicted for an armed robbery served ten years before DNA indicated another man and eyewitnesses recanted their testimony. The new prosecutor in a retrial offered a plea deal for an immediate release, leaving the convicted man no choice but to admit to a crime he didn’t commit in other to keep his family from becoming homeless. Pence’s argument against pardoning the man is that no governor has ever pardoned an innocent man: he obviously knows the man is innocent and won’t pardon him. The prosecutor who got the plea agreement is running for Attorney General of Indiana as a Republican, and a pardon would hurt his campaign.

In the coming week, Pence may also suffer with everyone except far-right voters after his losing a court case. A panel of three conservative judges from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Pence cannot discriminate against Syrian refugees by withholding funding from refugee resettlement organizations promised aid by federal law. Judge Richard Posner, a Ronald Reagan appointee, said that Pence’s unfounded “fear of terrorist infiltration” is not a rationale for discrimination. He added that federal law forbids restricting settlement funding on the basis of national origin and compared it to forbidding black people to come to Indiana because Pence might be afraid of them. As an illustration of how conservative this panel was, another member of the unanimous panel, Diane Sykes, is on Trump’s short list for Supreme Court candidates.

People who watched tonight’s debate saw Kaine attacking Pence and frequently interrupting him. Pence stayed unflappable while making faces as Kaine delivered fact after fact of Trump’s egregious statements. The debate itself will probably be soon forgotten, but Kaine’s statements about Trump will most likely be frequently televised along with Pence’s facial expressions and his frequent shaking his head. For example, Pence claimed that he didn’t call Putin a “strong leader,” but video shows did exactly that. Kaine made points asking about Trump’s tax returns, his praise for Putin, his negative comments about women, and his refusal to apologize.

As Kaine pointed out, Pence couldn’t defend Trump—he could only pivot away from him most of the time. One of Pence’s mistakes was to accuse Hillary Clinton of taking money from the Clinton Foundation because Kaine took the opening to list the ways that Pence had abused the Trump Foundation. Another mistake was to blame Clinton for the Russian aggression in Ukraine because it led to the discussion of Trump’s support of Russia.

In one sense, tonight’s debate may be a prelude to the presidential campaign on October 9. Watch next Sunday for the complaint from Trump that Clinton has released an “avalanche of insults.”  If so, this accusation will come from the man who tweeted his own “avalanche of insults” tonight. Otherwise it was pretty much a non-event.

Bottom line: Confronted by Trump’s statements, Pence said that the candidate didn’t say things that he did, avoided the topic, or looked away.

September 15, 2016

Trump Loses with Blacks, Women

Donald Trump’s appearance at a black church in Flint (MI) yesterday drew a great deal of attention—but what’s new about that! The series of events:

  • After Trump gave Flint’s mayor Karen Weaver only one day notice that he planned to tour the closed water treatment plant because of the lead, she said it was not a good time because the city was still trying to deal with the problems. She was also out of town trying to get help from Congress after the total disaster that Michigan’s businessman turned governor had caused.
  • Trump went anyway, giving his usual “Hillary hate” trash talk in a black church.
  • The pastor of the church, Rev. Faith Green-Timmons, gently stopped him by saying, “Mr. Trump, I invited you here to thank us for what we’ve done for Flint, not to give a political speech,”
  • Trump said, “Oh, oh, OK, OK, OK. That’s good. Then I’m going to go back onto Flint, OK.” The pastor also stopped the heckling from his audience who were bringing up specific examples of Trump’s racial discrimination in housing and employment. Green-Timmons said that Trump “is a guest in my church and you will respect him.”

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A video shows Green-Timmons’ graciousness and Trump’s obsequiousness. Yet Trump lied about the event on Fox and Friends this morning, describing Timmons as being a “nervous mess” and the audience as shouting “Let him speak, let him speak.” He also claimed that Timmons had planned to ambush him.

Yesterday the Senate voted 94-3 to end debate on a bill that includes $220 million in emergency assistance for communities such as Flint as well as $4.9 billion over five years to repair systems related to drinking water. They also voted 85-12 to waive a budget rule complicating the Flint funding that would take money from the Energy Department’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program.

The problem now is the House. It has been suggested that Trump would better spend his time by calling his “friend” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to ask for this bill to be passed in that chamber. At this time, the House waterways bill doesn’t have Flint funding.

Former Michigan epidemiologist Corinne Miller has pled guilty to not reporting to the public dozens of Legionnaires’ disease at the same time that Flint changed its water source, also the cause of the high lead content in the drinking water. The water may have caused at least 91 Legionnaires’ cases, including 12 deaths. The plea deal of no contest on Wednesday to a misdemeanor of willful neglect of duty led to dismissal of felony misconduct and conspiracy charges. Eight people have been charged in the water crisis.

The day before his appearance in Flint, Trump opened up another can of worms showing his sexism. With the help of his daughter Ivanka, the GOP presidential candidate tried to woo women voters with vague promises of “maternity leave” and funding for child care. After people recovered that surprise that a Republican would endorse this action, they learned that his suggestions are not as generous as he promised. His programs favor the rich and target “well-off white women,” according to journalist Joan Walsh.

Trump introduced his program by saying in a high-pitched tone that his daughter told him, “Daddy, Daddy, we have to do this.” Ivanka Trump is under the impression that child care is a brand new idea in the United States, indicating that she hasn’t done her homework. Universal child care existed in the nation from 1943 to 1946 but disappeared until Congress passed a bill in 1971 that GOP President Richard Nixon vetoed.

A 1990 law to help subsidize child care failed during the early 21st century when GOP George W. Bush reduced its funding. Even if Republicans are willing to support child care—unlikely because they think that this increases the “nanny state”—they are always unwilling to pay for it. Parental leave has also been an issue for over two decades—always quashed by the GOP.

In Trump’s plan, “maternity leave”(not parental leave) is only for six weeks, only for women, and only through already cash-strapped unemployment insurance, thereby helping women only in the states where legislatures opt in and providing much less than most women’s salaries. Trump’s plan also requires women to quit their jobs for the “maternity leave” because of unemployment insurance guidelines.

Although Trump uses the term “tax credit” when discussing his policy, the policy on his website indicates that it is a “tax deduction,” a far different proposal. Credit means that people will get the full amount back. Salaries of the working poor are so low that they don’t itemize deductions, leaving them with nothing whereas the wealthy can deduct expensive nannies and private day-care facilities and get 15 to 30 percent return. Trump’s plan would also give stay-at-home mothers credits even if they didn’t need child care to have jobs.

An irony of Trump’s speech is that his business provides neither maternity nor child care. Although Trump and his daughter claimed that he did provide the latter, it was only for wealthy Trump hotel guests. The claim that Hillary Clinton has never had either a “maternity leave” or child care policy and “never will” is also a lie. The only maternity leave provided for Trump employees is the federally-mandated 12-week unpaid leave. Yesterday in a discussion on public radio, Trump’s economic advisor Steven Moore stated that people shouldn’t have children if they can’t afford them.

In the past, Trump has found pregnant women and mothers of newborns “an inconvenience” and more. He said that pregnancy is “an inconvenience for business” because employers get only 84% of their working moms’ brains, according to Trump. He added that women “should” feel like they will be replaced if they do not return to work quickly even if they will not necessarily be replaced. Trump also called an attorney “disgusting” when she needed a break from a deposition to pump breast milk and that working women are bad for marriages. Confronted by Trump’s statements about women in an interview with Cosmopolitan, Ivanka Trump complained about “a lot of negativity in these questions” and cut the interview short.

In contrast to Trump’s proposals, Clinton’s plan provides a paid 12-week “family leave” for fathers and family members caring for a sick relative. The costs would be covered by higher taxes on the wealthy—such as Donald Trump and his family members. Other Clinton suggestions include a wide variety of child-care and preschool programs with costs capped for the middle class at ten percent of their salaries.

No plan can be carried out without congressional legislation. Yet Trump’s plan is regressive and sexist, perhaps because his look on life is regressive and sexist. This is his perspective on men rearing their children:

“I won’t do anything to take care of [my children]. I’ll supply funds and she’ll take care of the kids. It’s not like I’m gonna be walking the kids down Central Park.”

The term “maternity leave” not only goes beyond outmoded language, but also its limits to females hold back women, lowering their wages and reducing their hiring. These policies also discriminate against men in gay couples, other men who want to take an active part in rearing newborns, and adoptive individuals and couples.

Basically, Trump is losing white college-educated women who have voted Republican, and he wants them back.

Even with the undesirability of Trump’s plan, Republicans are criticizing Trump’s plan as “an enormous new entitlement that will blow the debt,” as conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote. He further complained about “the government stepping in and telling private industry what to do.”

Be careful of all those headlines and lead paragraphs that Trump has finally admitted that Barack Obama was born in the United States. He still refuses to say those words although his campaign leaders and surrogates are swearing that this is what he believes. Asked if his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, is right when she says he has reversed his almost decade-long position that the president was born outside the U.S., Trump said, “It’s okay. She’s allowed to speak what she thinks. I want to focus on jobs. I want to focus on other things.” Before that, Trump had said, “I’ll answer that question at the right time. I just don’t want to answer it yet.”

Trump still hasn’t said that he believes President Obama meets the constitutional requirements to hold the office where he has been for almost two terms. I’m still waiting for Trump to answer the question.

[Update: Trump finally actually said the words! Late yesterday, he said, “President Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.” Trump is still falsely claiming that Hillary Clinton started the birther rumor that he pushed for the past eight years.]

September 8, 2016

‘Special Treatment’ for Hillary Clinton

Last night’s precursor of the presidential debates shows the importance of a good moderator. Matt Lauer isn’t one. He started by grilling Hillary Clinton on her emails—taking up a full one-third of her time—that he could have used for issues such as military strategy, leadership goals, policy positions, etc. When he finally got around to the subject of the townhall—national security and veterans issues—he hurried her through her answers by interrupting her, something he didn’t do once to Trump. She was limited in discussing policy while Trump was permitted to lie without confrontation and then spend much of his time in generalities such as defining his qualifications to be commander-in-chief as having “good judgment” and “common sense.” MSNBC should be embarrassed about this debacle; it felt much like a performance on the Fox network.

Trump’s major position in protecting the country is that it has bad generals, “reduced to rubble” to be specific. Trump’s plan to defeat ISIS: he already has a plan. But then he said he’ll tell his top generals to create a plan. Which is it? And he’ll do it in 30 days. George W. Bush said “Mission Accomplished” 40 days after he invaded Iraq, and the U.S. is still in a quagmire there. Trump is also under the misguided impression that he can change all the generals to those who agree with him, but he doesn’t appoint them. He may nominate them, but the Senate has to approve his appointments.

Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is better than Obama, Trump said, because Putin’s approval ratings are higher. Throughout the townhall Trump had nothing bad to say about Putin and nothing good to say about the U.S. president. Lauer also failed to point out that dictators typically have high approval ratings.

Trump claims that he’s studying policy but excuses himself from knowing anything by saying, “I’m campaigning, I’m running a business, I’ve got a lot of hats right now.” Trump doesn’t want to remove women from the military, but he blames the high number of sexual assaults in the military on the fact that men and women are serving again. Trump is unaware that 53 percent of these assaults in 2012 were of men and almost entirely by men. Over half the assaults in 2015 were still of men. Lauer appeared totally unaware of this information.

Lauer’s introductory question to Trump was what he had done to be commander-in-chief. He answered, “Well, I’ve built a great company. I’ve been all over the world.” Then he proceeded to lie about opposing the Iraq War from the beginning and the U.S. intervention in Libya that overturned late dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Lauer failed to point out that Trump initially supported the Iraq War and called on the U.S. to intervene—leaving the audience with the idea that Trump was being truthful. By the finish, Lauer had failed to ask Trump about his dodging the draft, ridiculing POW Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), smearing a Gold Star family, comparing experience in prep school to serving in the military, calling on Russia to hack Clinton’s email server, and bragging about getting a Purple Heart because a soldier gave Trump his medal. Nor did Lauer ask about the affect that a Muslim ban would have on potential ISIS terrorism in the U.S. This in a discussion about national security and veterans affairs in front of an audience of veterans.

In the past, journalists believed that the truth had value. Now their position is that political candidates lie however they want with no questioning. Chris Wallace, moderator of the October 19 presidential debate, said, “I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad.” Lauer also showed his inability to handle Trump. Although he told the candidates to not be negative, Trump spent over half his time attacking Clinton and President Obama—perhaps because he doesn’t know anything about being a commander-in-chief. Lauer also failed to gather any specifics from Trump.

Trump has spent several months saying that he can’t release his tax returns because he’s being audited, despite his statement that the years 2002-2008 are no longer being audited. (Of course, no one knows for sure that any of his tax returns are being audited.) Then he switched to saying that it would be “irresponsible” to do that. The most recent statement before last night was that “I think people don’t care. I don’t think anybody cares, except some members of the press.” Actually, the man who follows polls so closely should know that 74 percent of the people think he should release them—including 62 percent of the Republicans. Even his running mate, Mike Pence wants him to make the returns public.

Last night, Trump tried a different tack. He’ll release them “immediately” if Clinton makes public personal emails that were deleted years ago. He also said that no one in business would delete emails although that’s exactly what his business did several years ago when he brought a lawsuit ten years ago.

“If we would have taken the oil, you wouldn’t have ISIS,” Trump said last night. He suggested that the way to defeat ISIS is to “take the oil.” Asked how to do that, he said:

“Well, you—you just, you would leave a certain group behind. And you would take various sections where they have the oil. People don’t know this about Iraq, but they have among the largest oil reserves in the world.”

So Trump’s plan is to pillage a country of all resources after the U.S. idea has invaded it.

Trump has long valued Russia and Putin over the United States and President Obama, but he went over the edge in a townhall meeting on national security when he talked about his experiences at the his first classified briefing—after he talked about the dangers of Clinton’s emails. He said he was shocked by the way that the briefers disdained his political opponent and the current president and finished by saying, “Our leaders did not follow what they were recommending.” With this massive breach of ethics, concerns about giving Trump classified information were accurate. This is the first time that a presidential candidate has politicized these briefings.

Members of the Trump campaign staff also leaked information about the briefing. For example, it was reported that retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn interrupted the proceedings so much that Chris Christie, also invited by Trump, told him to shut up.

clinton-smileRNC Chair Reince Priebus couldn’t fault Clinton for her statements in last night’s townhall so he complained about—yes!—her not smiling. She answered, “Actually, that’s just what taking the office of President seriously looks like.” Priebus was also wrong: she did smile as this photo shows.

The male moderator at a townhall doesn’t allow the female candidate to address the issues and constantly interrupts her while telling her to hurry up. Then he gives the male candidate easy questions and fails to correct most of the candidate’s lies. The moderator also orders the female not to attack her opponent while asking the male candidate to “keep his attacks to a minimum.” The moderator didn’t limit the male candidate’s constant attacks in any way. And finally the leader of the Republican party complains because she won’t “smile” while talking about serious issues. Might this be called sexism?

Trump may have had a pitiful performance last night in the townhalls, but Gary Johnson, the Libertarian who disaffected Republicans consider as an alternative had a worse morning. When he was asked on Morning Joe about Aleppo, Johnson answered, “What is Aleppo”? The U.S. public may not need to know about Aleppo, but the President of the United States needs to know that Aleppo is the “epicenter” of the Syrian refugee crisis, as Mike Barnicle explained to Johnson. All of Hillary Clinton’s opponents are pathetic, and almost all the “journalists” focus on how she is perceived as not “likable.”

The bar is so low for Donald Trump that he’s admired if he doesn’t drool on his shoes—to quote Democrat Eugene Robinson and Republican Nicole Wallace. That means that Hillary Clinton definitely gets special treatment the way people claim—it’s just that she cannot achieve their high standards no matter the extent of her knowledge and preparation. Trump would have disappeared a year ago, if expectations for him were only one-fourth what they are for Hillary Clinton.

August 4, 2016

Clinton’s ‘Woman Card,’ Sexism

Filed under: Discrimination — trp2011 @ 7:45 PM
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Hillary Clinton has decided “to go all in as the woman-candidate,” according to conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg. As the “woman-candidate,” however, Clinton faces a tremendous level of sexism. People call her dishonest although her record finds her to be the most honest of all presidential candidates for the past three terms. Donald Trump is the most dishonest of all the candidates. Our culture teaches that girls and women lie—for example, rape victims are frequently accused of lying but rapists are believed. Women are less likely to be accepted as bosses or employees—and get paid less.

Life is harder for women who challenge gender norms—like running for president. Eleanor Roosevelt was frequently hated because she advocated for policies beyond the traditional First Lady role. Hillary Clinton’s favorability was shattered when she worked on health care reform during Bill Clinton’s early presidential years. As First Lady, she regained popularity when she was pictured holding babies as she traveled the world.

People repeat the myth that Clinton lied about her emails, but FBI Director James Comey, highly critical of Clinton, said, “We have no basis to believe she lied to the FBI.” He could find only three messages that might have been classified—all not properly marked classified when she received them. A video purporting to have 13 minutes of Clinton lying shows out-of-context statements and outdated viewpoints that Cliniton has since changed.

Overtly sexist remarks about Clinton are that her voice is too shrill—that she’s “nagging”—a common complaint for wives and mothers. She’s “too loud,” but Trump shouts and harangues. No one ever asks men to “smile,” but male pundits have called on Clinton to smile perhaps thinking they are being helpful.

If Clinton speaks firmly, she’s being aggressive—not assertive—but if she doesn’t, she’s not tough enough. When Bernie Sanders yells, he’s being “passionate,” but Clinton is criticized for yelling—and then criticized for not being passionate if she doesn’t yell. Jay Newton-Small, author of Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works, said:

“It is a subtle kind of sexism that exists that we don’t recognize. When women raise their voices, people tend to get their hackles up. People I talk to at Clinton events put her in a maternal role: ‘Why is she screaming at me? Am I in trouble?’”

Sanders tacitly encouraged his misogynist Bernie Bro followers when he criticized Clinton’s “drama” and her “shouting.” No one puts down Bernie Sanders for his wife’s economic mistakes while a college president, but Hillary Clinton is held responsible for all her husband’s perceived misbehavior.

Hillary Clinton has no charges against her for any of the scandals that the GOP have manufactured about her and her husband, but she is pursued by these scandals and the allegations that she’s too guarded or cautious. People who believe that Clinton is responsible for Benghazi or releasing classified emails refuse to accept exoneration from extensive investigations. The media even overlook a possible collusion between Trump and Russia. According to research, Clinton coverage has been far more negative than for Sanders or Trump perhaps because invented charges are far more acceptable against women than men.

Clinton has an 83.9 percent “liberal score,” a “F” rating from the NRA, and a calculation of “more liberal” than Barack Obama. Yet, the Progressive Left calls her a “neocon” who “was “bought by Wall Street,” thanks to repetition from the GOP and her opponent. No proof exists for these claims, but people want to believe that she must be guilty because no woman could have achieved her power without deception.

Donald Trump has now moved back to medieval times when he calls Clinton “the devil.” Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver told CNN over three months ago that Clinton “made a deal with the devil” in taking campaign funds from Wall Street, and Larry Nichols accused Clinton of engaging in Satan worship a year ago. Yet this is the first time that Trump made this accusation himself.

Referring to a female presidential candidate as the devil is not new: Victoria Woodhull, the first female presidential candidate in the U.S., was called “Mrs. Satan” and the devil almost 150 years ago. As usual, the pejorative is a way to discredit women. Sen. Orrin Hatch succeeded in getting Clarence Thomas approved as a justice of the Supreme Court by connecting Anita Hill to the devil through accusing her of taking her story from The Exorcist. Since that hearing 15 years ago, Hill’s claims of Thomas’ sexual harassment have been shown to be true, but Thomas still sits silent on the high court and consistently rules against human rights.

Three days before Election Day in 1872, Woodhull was arrested and sent to jail on trumped-up charges. At both conventions this year, Trump and Sanders delegates screamed “Lock her up” at Hillary Clinton—again on trumped-up charges. The fight against Clinton has frequently been referred to a witch hunt, a practice that targeted females, poor people, minorities, the disabled, and the old as “devil-worshippers.” The reason for calling women witches is to lower female status and create fear of women’s power. Killings in the U.S. for witchcraft have stopped, but people still compare feminism to witchcraft.

Sanders supporters love his bold masculine approach of vigorous rallies and strong independence in bucking the establishment, blaming it for everything. Clinton’s strength lies in what people perceive as “feminine”—listening, collaborating, evoking realism in not promising something that she thinks she can’t deliver. People who don’t complain about Clinton’s policies still call her boring and denigrate her approach to work. She’s rational, competent, detail-oriented, and hard-working, but revolutionaries want a big picture without giving a guide to achieving these goals.

David Brooks suggested that Hillary Clinton is unpopular because she’s a workaholic, caught up in her career. He wants her to have “fun” and be “intimate, personal, revealing, trusting and vulnerable.” Yet his political party incessantly complains about President Obama taking vacations and playing golf although he spends far less time doing this than George W. Bush did in cutting brush on his Texas ranch.

At this time, Congress is failing because members refuse to compromise. The current problems began on the night that Barack Obama was first elected as president: then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) vowed that the only goal for Republicans in Congress was to make sure that the president-elect would not get a second term. He lost for the next two years on some congressional decisions, and he lost the next presidential election. To accomplish this mission, GOP members of Congress started in 2010 to create total gridlock by refusing to cooperate with President Obama.

Research shows that compromise always occurs when a female is included among two decision makers or if both are women. The theory behind the failure of two men to compromise is that men need to prove their masculinity when they’re around other men. Because extremism is a more masculine trait, two male decision makers almost never strike a deal. Men are also far more willing than women to sacrifice ethics for money or job success. Women are less inclined to give up their ethics for bonuses, promotions, favors, and other career advancements.

Trump started the “woman card” fight in April by claiming that Clinton had nothing else going for her. When Trump is attacked, he gets mad, and he no doubt thought that would happen with Clinton. Another response to attack is get even. Clinton responded:

 “The other day, Mr. Trump accused me, of playing the, quote, ‘woman card.’ Well, if fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in.”

Since then, she used this as a rallying cry. Women who are paid less than men while working harder, who watch less qualified men get promotions over them identify with the “woman card.” They know that being female keeps women from deserved success, not giving them undeserved success. Alexandra Petri listed what she gets from her woman card: “a sizable discount on your earnings” from 9 to 37 percent; an increase of 11 percent over what men pay for the same products; commercials telling you how horrible you look; lectures from men; limits on reproductive rights; loss of personal space; constant negative judgment; and far more.

I’m voting for Hillary Clinton, not because she’s a woman but because she’s the most accomplished person for the U.S. presidency. Yet her abilities as a woman are a bonus for my decision.

Trump Watch:

  • Trump’s craziness may be his way to keep the press from addressing his close relationship to Russia.
  • The minutes of the RNC meeting when Trump supporters drastically changed the party’s platform to give Russia’s Vladimir Putin an advantage in attacking Ukraine have disappeared, but people who attended the meeting remember.
  • Trump has nothing to say about the growing problems of the deadly Zika virus, especially predominant in Florida.
  • Trump said that he met with Gold Star families.
  • Today’s big lie (confusion?) is that he watched a transfer of cash to Iran for ransom. It was repayment for a 1979 debt, and Fox network showed the release of three people released from a Tehran prison. Trump’s lie got four Pinocchios from the Washington Post.  

July 27, 2016

Hillary Wins, Bill’s Photo on Front Pages

Last night Hillary Clinton broke through a glass ceiling when she was nominated the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate–the first woman named by a major political party for a presidential candidate. The first crack in that ceiling, however, came 136 years ago when Victoria Woodhull ran for the presidency in 1872, almost 50 years before women could legally vote for the president. That didn’t happen until 1920 after the 19th Amendment was ratified. With a platform of women’s suffrage and equal rights for women, Woodhull ran for the Equal Rights Party. She was paired with Frederick Douglass, former escaped slave and abolitionist author and speaker, against GOP Ulysses S. Grant and Democrat Horace Greeley. Obviously she lost, and her party picked Belva Ann Lockwood for its candidate 12 years later. No woman appeared on the presidential ticket until Geraldine Ferro was the vice-presidential candidate in 1984 and Sarah Palin in 2008.

Since Woodhull, other women have tried for the presidency. The first one on the ballot was Sen. Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME) who got 22 delegate votes from four states in 1964. Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-NY), the first black person to run for the Democratic nomination, got 151.95 delegate votes from 26 states in 1972. The only other woman to receive delegate votes in a Democratic campaign, Ellen McCormack, got 27 delegate votes from five states in 1976. Women who did not run in the primaries for President have also got delegate votes at the Democratic Conventions: Barbara Jordan, 1 (1976); Koryne Horbal, 5 (1980); Martha Kirkland, 1 (1984); and Patricia Schroeder, 8 (1992).

The first women who appeared on the presidential ticket for a major political party were vice-presidential candidates—Geraldine Ferro in 1984 and Sarah Palin in 2008. Yesterday, however, Hillary Clinton garnered 2,842 delegate votes—2,205 of them pledged—compared to the 1,846 pledged delegates and 48 super delegates for Bernie Sanders. Fifty-five votes were abstentions. Clinton also Clinton won 16.8 million votes to 13.2 million for Sanders, about 55 percent of the vote to his 43 percent for a 12 percentage point gap.

Much was said from the Sanders’ side about the “rigged” election, but Sanders gained many of his delegate votes from caucuses, which do not represent the vote of these states. In fact, the two states that had both primaries and caucuses, Nebraska and Washington, showed that the majority of people voting in primaries supported Clinton although the Sanders picked up more votes from the caucuses in those states.

Clinton

Those who think that the mainstream media has lost its sexism, however, should look at the photos on the front pages of major newspapers from the Wall Street Journal in New York to San Diego—moving through Washington, Detroit, Wisconsin, Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco—on up to Alaska. These newspapers put photos of Bill Clinton instead of the new Democratic presidential nominee, evidently believing that a male visual is more important than one of a female. The Oregonian, the largest newspaper in my state, went safe with a photograph of a man taking a back flip off a tree trunk into the water.

Trump photos make the front pages of newspapers when he’s done nothing; Hillary Clinton is overlooked despite her phenomenal background of public service. This reporting is sexism at its greatest. The Wall Street Journal did finally figure out its mistake and changed later editions. The Dallas Morning News was one of the few newspapers that understood the significance of yesterday’s Democratic nomination for the presidential candidate.

Dallas Morning News

An interesting Wal-Mart story: In 1995, one of its Miramar (FL) stores pulled a popular T-shirt proclaiming “Someday a woman will be president” off its shelves. The store had sold about two-thirds of its 204 shirts before they were pulled , and a Wal-Mart spokeswoman explained that a customer had complained. Jane Bockholt said:

“It was determined the T-shirt was offensive to some people and so the decision was made to pull it from the sales floor.”

rubenAnn Moliver Ruben, a 70-year-old psychologist when she created the shirt, designed the shirt with the child character Margaret from the cartoon strip Dennis the Menace. The figure making the proclamation had a big smile and her arms spread wide. Ruben had purchased the rights to use the drawing of Margaret and sold the shirts to women’s groups for between $10 and $15 before approaching Wal-Mart.

Protests forced the shirt back on the shelves, but Wal-Mart didn’t carry it long, saying that it didn’t sell. Recently, Ruben wrote a letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette describing the similarities between Dennis the Menace to Donald Trump. Today, the day after Hillary Clinton has become the Democratic presidential candidate, her shirt and her letter are even more appropriate. Right now there are none of these shirts for sale, but they may reappear soon!

Here’s part of that letter with the accompanying visual.

trump“Take a look at Dennis. He says he doesn’t know what a crepe suzette is but he knows that 8-year-old Margaret is a creep. He tells Margaret that he was her valentine last year and “haven’t I suffered enough?” When Margaret tells him she wants to be a nurse, he tells her, “You’d have plenty of work … you make people sick.” Finally, as Margaret is shown playing the accordion, he tells his 3-year-old friend, Joey, “She is no good at makin’ cookies, either.” Can’t you hear Donald Trump telling — what’s her name — that her face would stop a clock?

“Only Donald Trump, acting like 5-year-old Dennis, would mimick a disabled journalist and propose banning Muslims from entering this country and building a wall that Mexico would pay for. Unfortunately, he is incapable of owning up to the problems his words and his behavior cause.”

Thanks, Ms. Ruben! Now make more of those shirts!

July 6, 2016

‘Political Correctness’ – Just Being Nice

“Political correctness” is a term initiated in the 1793 Supreme Court case Chisholm v. Virginia upholding the rights of people to sue states. Justice James Wilson wrote in his opinion that people, rather than states, hold the most authority which makes a toast given to the United States” is not “politically correct.” He preferred the greater accuracy of “People of the United States.”

For almost 200 years, the term was largely obscure until conservatives co-opted the term in the 1980s for their personal political gain by using the phrase for a leftist conspiracy that infiltrated the higher education system. For decades, people argued about being “politically correct” in teaching and language in university classes.

In the 2016 presidential campaign, political correctness was highlighted in the first GOP debate after Fox network Megyn Kelly asked Donald Trump about his verbal sexist attacks against women. He was ready with an answer:

“I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. I’ve been challenged by so many people, and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either.”

The audience applauded, and other GOP presidential candidates adopted the tactic. Erica Hellerstein and Judd Legum wrote:

“The term “political correctness,” particularly in the Republican presidential primary, does not have a specific definition. Rather it functions like a Swiss army knife—it is the answer to every kind of issue that a candidate might confront. It’s a “get out of jail free card” for bigotry, sexism and lying.”

Dr. Warren Blumenfeld wrote:

“The political Right coined the terms ‘political correctness,’ ‘politically correct,’ and ‘PC’ as pejorative rhetorical ploys to intimidate, discredit, and outright dismiss the statements, policies, and actions of the progressive Left generally, and more specifically, to inhibit anyone from thinking critically and challenging societal inequalities.”

Trump and his surrogates use the term the most. The candidate complains that he can’t even use the word “thug” without criticism. Corey Lewandowski has been fired from Trump’s campaign but still defends the candidate, describing the accusation of anti-Semitic content of Donald Trump’s tweet using the Star of David, Hillary Clinton, images of $100 bills, and the word corruption “political correctness run amok.”

In the past, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), former GOP presidential candidate, blamed political correctness on 9/11 and used it for collecting email addresses. Ben Carson tweeted that we should “#StoPP funding political correctness and Planned Parenthood.” Asked what they have in common, he said that “political correctness” is making people amoral. Carson also said tried to connect political correctness and his opposition to Obamacare and accepting Syrian refugees. Criticized for saying that a Muslim should not be president, a statement that violates the U.S. Constitution, Carson said, “Political correctness is ruining our country.”

The opposition to political correctness (aka civility) is supported by 68 percent of people in the U.S.—81 percent of Republicans. Even 62 percent agree that “a big problem this country is being politically correct.” GOP candidates know these high figures and play on them in order to avoid any difficult topics. It’s all in the repetition.

In today’s News-Times (Newport, OR), Gilbert Schramm provides his take on “political  correctness”:

Like most Americans, I was horrified by the shooting in Orlando—and by Trump’s response. He immediately tweeted, “We can’t afford to be politically correct anymore.” Wait, “political correctness” wasn’t the cause of the shooting; political incorrectness was the cause.

Obviously, if you subject any group to unrelenting bigotry and hate-speech, some unstable person will eventually act on the lies and hatred they have been fed. It doesn’t really matter whether the hatred in Orlando came from a radical Christian, Jew, or Muslim, extremist fundamentalists from all three religions can have equally ugly attitudes about the LGBT community.

To truly understand Orlando, you need to understand the systematic conservative attack on the term political correctness. Nothing defines what the modern Republican Party has become more clearly than its misuse and abuse of this term: Trump and his supporters take an obscene pride in mocking it.

This is truly puzzling. In general usage, “ correct” means right, and “incorrect” means wrong. Why do they reverse our traditional values and language and pretend that the term is an insult?

Through American history, as progressives fought for women, religious, ethnic and racial minorities, they developed new language that reflected their concern for equal rights. The whole idea of political correctness was to improve communication, to reduce conflict, and to be more civil. Not a bad idea.

In creating a better language to express American values, there was sometimes a silly notion that re-labeling problems simply made them go away. Some bigots may have used the new terms insincerely. Some good people may have been unfairly criticized for not keeping up with the changing language. But true progressives not only amended their language, they did other concrete things to rectify the scars caused by institutional racism.

Affirmative action was necessary to help correct the deep institutional disadvantages left by centuries of racism. The GOP has been attacking affirmative action for years by arguing that it constituted “reverse racism.” This is an absurd argument. Its very existence proves that those who use it don’t truly understand the lasting damage left by the real racism.

Then there is the term “colorblind.” Just recently, a Trump spokesman complimented Trump for being “colorblind.” Colorblindness is not vision enhancement; it is a vision deficit that removes a whole dimension of nuance.

So when you hear terms like political correctness, reverse racism, or color-blindness, you are hearing someone who doesn’t understand racism, bigotry, or gender bias at all, and who likely doesn’t care. Yet in spite of conservative efforts to turn the truth upside down, being politically correct (right) is better than being politically incorrect (i.e., just wrong and offensive).

The Trump attitude that “correctness is a bad thing has now spread from opinion to facts. His casual attitude towards facts is noteworthy—in most of what he says he just doesn’t have much use for the truth. For him, it’s right to be wrong.

Trump’s abuse of the term political correctness may have more to do with the “political” part than with correctness. After all, he has won so far by disclaiming any past experience as a politician. Republicans believe that the existence of governments is only excused by the fact that total anarchy is just a tad bit worse. Progressives, on the other hand, feel that government can play a positive role. History has repeatedly proven the progressives to be right.

If GOP conservatives don’t believe that government can make life better, they should leave governing to those who know it can do some good.

Meanwhile, they should stop turning the truth (and our very language) upside down. Corruption of language leads to corruption of thought. That corruption makes it possible to believe that suppressing the vote protects democracy, that there is something called “legitimate rape,” that more guns will make us safer, that gun-free zones attract violence, and other GOP nonsense.

Whatever mild annoyance has been caused by politically correct language, the carnage in Orlando is a stark example of the alternative.

Republicans brag that Donald Trump is honest because he says what he thinks. They seem to admire him for calling undocumented Mexicans “rapists” and stating that sex appeal is responsible for a woman’s success. Zeba Blay wrote:

“To yearn for the opposite of the ‘politically correct’ is simply to yearn for the ability to be comfortable, to maintain the right to trivialize issues that affect people’s lives…. Using “politically correct” as an insult or dismissal is emblematic of an inability to approach difficult conversations with the complexity they demand. Being uncomfortable or annoyed is not a good enough reason to dismiss every conversation that hinges on social justice, as if actual social justice were the worst thing in the world.”

Political correctness is accepting Spanish-language messages on service lines, not telling racist jokes at work, and being less demeaning to women. It’s a way of showing sensitivity toward others, especially those who have been invisible or expected to be submissive. Conservatives don’t like it because it’s hard work. They just want to say what they think—and what they think can be very unpleasant.

Noted author and illustrator Neil Gaiman said, “I started imagining a world in which we replaced the phrase ‘politically correct’ wherever we could with ‘treating other people with respect’, and it made me smile.” It makes me smile too.

April 24, 2016

Conservatives Use God as Justification

About going back into politics, Marco Rubio, failed GOP presidential candidate, said, “We’ll see if God offers us another opportunity in the future.” Let’s hope that God has more sense than Rubio. Below are other lawmakers that God should turn down.

Answering the question about funding a defense for Oklahoma’s latest unconstitutional attack on women, state Rep. David Brumbaugh said that God will pay all the legal expenses as well as fixing the state’s disintegrating economy. The state has a $1.3 billion deficit. Last week, the state House passed SB1552 that revokes the license of any doctor who performs an abortion other than for women who have miscarriages or have endangered lives. If the Senate passes House amendments to the bill, which looks likely, and Gov. Mary Fallin signs the bill, which looks likely, women can’t even get a legal abortion within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy when 90 percent of these surgeries are performed. Brumbaugh compared passing this bill to the abolition of slavery, the Civil Rights Act, and the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is a place where religious conservatives go to pat themselves on the back because they are better than the rest of the people in the United States. It’s also a place where they plan to make everyone in the nation believe the same way that they do. Many of their positions will be found in The Federalist. George W. Carey explained that its readers “would agree with Clinton Rossiter that it stands with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution among the “sacred writings of American political history.” One of these authors of “sacred writings,” Henry Scanlon, published a piece explaining how women who share his views are “incredibly attractive,” whereas the women on the left are manly. In one paragraph of his 2,000 word piece, he writes:

“The young women who attend CPAC are spectacular. No kidding: What’s up with this concentration of incredibly attractive young, conservative women? It’s noticeable and remarkable. They are beautiful and stylish in the way French women often are, which is to say in their own way, not in a conforming or predictable way. They all look like the girl the high school quarterback wants to date, and they are confident, relaxed, and smart, joking amongst themselves.”

He has an explanation for this incredible beauty: daring to read Ayn Rand makes young women “the prettiest, smartest girls” because they have an inner confidence. Scanlon’s wife told him that it’s because these women don’t act like boys which is ugly and they are willing to take fashion risks like Parisian trendsetters. In addition, Scanlon thinks that women get wrinkles from being “politically correct.” In essence, conservative women are “freer” because they don’t have to think. And of course, because God favors registered Republicans. Now we know what religious Republicans are thinking about at CPAC.

In addition to ogling young women at CPAC, Republicans are writing letters in support of former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and asking for leniency for the recently-convicted child molester. Among 40 letters of support for Hastert is one from Rep. Tom DeLay, the former House majority whip who helped make Hastert the speaker and wrote that he is a man of “strong faith” and “great integrity.” DeLay wrote:

“We all have our flaws, but Dennis Hastert has very few. He doesn’t deserve what he is going through. I ask that you consider the man that is before you and give him leniency where you can.”

Dennis HastertWhile part of the movement to impeach President Bill Clinton over an extramarital affair between consenting adults, Hastert covered up Rep. Mark Foley’s inappropriate relationships with young Congressional male pages. Legislators in southern states are in a panic about molesters in their women’s bathrooms. Lawmakers, here’s what a child molester looks like. The sentencing for the man who was two heartbeats away from the presidency for eight years is this coming Wednesday. It is not for his molesting children but instead for a financial crime. (More about Hastert here.)

Many fundamentalist Christians, finding Donald Trump too liberal, are turning toward Ted Cruz as a presidential candidate in November. Their question now is whether he’s the kind of fundamentalist that they want. Cruz’ father, foreign policy adviser Jerry Boykin, PAC leader David Barton—and possibly Cruz himself—are “Seven Mountains Dominionists” who want to take over seven cultures: family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business, and government. Those who say that Cruz is just a “constitutionalist” see Dominionism as an “elastic” concept and avoid talking about the Dominionist influence on Cruz.

Every year since 1952, the President of the United States has been forced to sign a proclamation declaring the observation of the National Day of Prayer despite the 7th Circuit Court ruling that Congress’s law is unconstitutional. Alabama state Rep. Mack Butler wants to push religion into government ever farther with his proposal of a resolution demanding that the United States become a Christian nation banning abortion and returning to “traditional values.” His proposal follows the first “whereas” that “God has blessed America, where freedom exists for all, regardless of belief or creed.”

God wanted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to make a fortune off securities fraud, according to the man who’s charged with an alleged kickback deal in which he persuaded people to invest in a company. After his friends put $840,000 in Servergy, Inc., Paxton, who failed to tell them his connection to the company, got 100,000 shares of stock. Paxton claims that the shares were a gift from Servergy’s CEO, William Mapp, because Mapp told him the shares were a gift while they were eating at a Dairy Queen.

Texas has many links to Christianity. The state Board of Education has managed to insert fundamentalist Christianity into the textbooks that then infiltrate the United States, and the Board’s new leader doesn’t believe in science. The woman assigned to head the state’s Board of Education is a home schooler who doesn’t believe in science. Mary Lou Bruner, a woman running for the Board of Education, thinks that the Middle East is forcing Islam content into the textbooks by buying the books. She also has some other bizarre claims, including her accusation that President Obama is a gay prostitute. With a Masters of Education degree from East Texas State University, Bruner has worked as a teacher and counselor in Texas public schools for 36 years. Last November, the board approved about 90 social studies textbooks deemed inaccurate, biased, and politicized.

Almost a year ago, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed a mental health bill on advice from Scientology lobbying. SB 359 would permit hospitals to detail potentially dangerous for several hours in order that they be evaluated. Scientology does not believe in mental illness and purports that the 9/11 attacks were spearheaded by Osama Bin Laden’s psychiatrist.

While engaged in child molesting, other crimes, demolition of the economy, sexism, and falsehoods through their attempts to put fundamentalist Christians into a secular government, Republicans move forward in their attempts to destroy women’s lives. South Dakota plans to be the third state after Arizona and Arkansas that forces doctors to lie about the pseudoscience that a pill will reverse abortions in progress. The theory is based on a physician’s anecdotal case report who tested something on about six patients who said they regretted swallowing the abortion pill. Dr. Daniel Grossman, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco, said that doctors offering to undo medical abortions are “essentially testing an unproven, experimental protocol on pregnant women.” Now legislators with no medical training are forcing doctors to do just that in at least three states.

Cecile Richards, director of Planned Parenthood, said, “A woman voting for Ted Cruz is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.” I would say that her statement holds true for the vast majority of Republicans now running for office.

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