Hail to the Twit in Chief

I’ve never been much of a Tweeter. When Twitter took wing, I couldn’t see the use of a 140-character missive other than to broadcast the location of my favorite food truck. If I had a favorite food truck.

But then hash tags began perverting the course of normal sentence structure and no event could take place without an army of tweeters ready to reduce the most complex ideas into a condensed version that makes Readers Digest look like Moby Dick.

Who could ever have predicted that the miracle of opposable thumbs would be reduced to the ignoble occupation of typing mostly banal one-liners on a tiny keyboard?

Twitter is a great platform for simple concepts.  Or as George Will responded after being targeted by a Trump Twitter attack: “He has an advantage over me because he can say everything he knows about a subject in 140 characters and I can’t.”

The first and last time I decided to use my Twitter account was at a national meeting, I found myself spending all my time taking pictures, trying to nail down pithy one-liners,  keying them in and then fumbling around with my phone to post the damn things. In the meantime, I missed 90% of what was being said and had no time to reflect upon or synthesize any of it.

Presidents go gray in office and it’s not because they’re worrying about who dissed them on SNL. It’s because it’s a dangerous world out there and they feel its weight on their shoulders.

But let’s face it, President-Elect Trump may be different. As long as he keeps avoiding those security briefings, his motto is likely to be #whyworry?

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The Morning After

Authors Note: After two years of not blogging, the 2016 election has motivated me to start anew. 

As soon as my arm breached the comforter, my puppy dog pounced, as she does every morning, wagging her tail, licking my face and welcoming me to another day of chasing balls, earning treats and having her tummy scratched. Oh, to be a border collie.

I started November 8th anticipating that it would be an historic day capped with a celebration. I ended it feeling as if a member of my family had died. Dow Futures were already down over 700 points and I was sure that my retirement account was about to take a body blow from which it would never recover. At least not in my lifetime.

The fact that Wall Street is not experiencing  a massive bloodletting on the morning after is some consolation, but not enough.

By nature, I’m an optimist. If I weren’t, I wouldn’t have devoted 36 years of my life – my entire career – to achieving gender equality and economic justice for women. Tuesday, I was hoping for confirmation that we had, finally, come a long way. What I learned instead, was that we still have a long way to go; that we are not one nation, indivisible.

We are a divided nation, looking at the world from opposite sides of the abyss. When Red America says they want to “take our country back.” Blue America hears “take our country backward.” Take our country back to those days when women and brown people and LGBTQ people and disabled people knew their place and didn’t challenge the power structure that white men considered their birthright. Back to the days when American manufacturers blithely polluted our soil, our water and our air with impunity. Back to the days when women died at the hands of back alley abortionists, black men were lynched simply for being black, and a good education was a privilege reserved for the wealthy.

After running the most divisive campaign in my lifetime and perhaps in history, Donald Trump, in his acceptance speech, promised to be the President of everybody. And just like that, we’re supposed to be reassured? You’ll  forgive my skepticism.

If you are truly about change, Mr. Trump, the best way to prove it will be: 1) to reassure us that you were “being sarcastic” (or whatever you call your alleged sense of humor) when you suggested that you would appoint a special prosecutor to jail your opponent; and 2) to avoid filling your cabinet with sycophantic Republican retreads like Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, and alt-right, bomb-throwing conspiracy theorists like Steve Bannon.

Mr. Trump, Blue America is terrified of you because you exhibit no respect for American institutions, for science, or for Americans who dare to expose your hypocrisies or criticize your motives. Blue Americans are terrified because we know that America is great, not because we build walls, but because we open doors.

The Democratic Party needs to unite in a common goal to be a vocal, organized and loyal opposition; loyal to the institutions and values that made our country great. But, Mr. Trump, we owe you no loyalty. That is something you must earn. As Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech, we need to be open-minded and give you a chance to prove yourself.

Because I’m an optimist, I’ll give you that chance.

Don’t blow it.

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The Cheaters We Punish

Cheating is wrong.

But a white judge sentencing three black educators  to seven years in prison because he was frustrated that they wouldn’t fess up to changing answers on student tests? That sounds like the principal deciding to teach an intractable fifth grader a lesson.

But then Judge Jerry Baxter went home, gave it a think, and decided he’d been wrong and reduced the Atlanta educators’ sentences to three years. Their sentences also include seven years on probation, a $10,000 fine and 2,000 hours of community service.

I guess I understand now why our prisons are overcrowded. What I don’t understand is why George Bush and crew aren’t on the next cell block. But hey, if we put every cheater in jail, it would be overflowing with war profiteers, Wall Street financiers and politicians who lied on their resumes.

The 35 educators involved in the Atlanta cheating scandal have lost their jobs. Sentences that include probation, fines and community service are more than sufficient punishment. Putting them in jail is ridiculous.

So here’s a lesson. If you want to avoid jail time, stick to causing an international financial crisis or starting a war.


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Czars and the English Language

Who started this habit of calling government employees in charge of special initiatives “czars”?  I speak of our most recently appointed – or anointed – “Ebola Czar,” Ron Klain.

Am I the only one who has a problem using a word which is a remnant of the Feudal age in Russia to define someone in a leadership position in a modern Democracy?  Whatever happened to the plain old word  “chief?”  Perhaps, in our ignorance, we’ve cast that one into the bin of political correctness, mistakenly believing that it is somehow insulting to Native Americans.

“Chief” is derived from the French, meaning the person with the highest rank, whose modern usage is the word “chef.”

Voilà!  A clue!  Perhaps our declining use of the word chief is tied to the rise of “freedom fries” and the scrubbing of all references to the French from our vocabulary.  Which reminds me of the time when President George W. Bush, in lamenting the lack of hustle displayed by the French, said “They don’t even have a word for entrepreneur!”

Actually, they do – entrepreneur.  And we have a word, better words, than the word czar.


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Rick Perry’s Abuse of Power

According to Rick Perry, “We don’t settle political differences with indictments in this country.”

No.  We settle them with personal vendettas, vetoes and cronyism.

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The Anti-Feminist Female Impersonators Rise Again

Michelle Bachmann, in her opposition to appointing a bi-partisan commission to study the feasibility of creating a women’s museum on the national mall said it would “enshrine the radical feminist movement that stands against the pro-life movement, the pro-family movement and pro-traditional marriage movement.”

How dare we pay homage to the women’s movement that gave 51% of U.S. citizens the vote and allowed idiots like Michelle Bachmann to be elected to the United States Congress. Why should we enshrine the leadership and accomplishments of individual women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Amelia Bloomer, Alice Paul, Elizabeth Blackwell, Marie Curie, Madam C. J. Walker, Margaret Sanger, Barbara Chisholm, Sally Ride? Women who worked to abolish slavery, obtain suffrage, give women control over their own reproductive systems. Women who led the way in science, medicine, business, politics, space exploration. Women who dared to be first. Women whose lives demonstrated that females are not the weaker sex – that they can be anything and do anything.

What is Ms. Bachmann afraid of? That women might get ideas? That they might think they can change things? Bachmann’s statement, with all its “pros” is really just an anti-woman, anti-change screed. Anti-self-determination for women, anti-gay, anti-any lifestyle that doesn’t look like Father Knows Best.

And then there’s Phyllis Schlafly, who isn’t dead yet, who thinks that the gender pay gap is just fine because if women make as much money as men, they won’t be able to find husbands. I remind you that Phyllis Schlafly’s central argument against the Equal Rights Amendment was that women and men would have to use the same public restrooms. Both Schlafly and Bachmann have law degrees. Scary. Guess logic wasn’t a required subject.

Museums, if done properly, enshrine the truth of the past. A national women’s museum can and should document both feminist and anti-feminist history. The viewers can draw their own conclusions. But perhaps that’s what Bachmann and Schlafly are afraid of: that women might actually think for themselves.

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Huckabee’s Twisted Logic

And another oxymoron is born: Republican Logic. I’m still trying to wrap my head around why Mike Huckabee thinks it’s insulting to women to have their birth control pills covered by their insurance plan. Not to mention the fact that he thinks the pill controls a woman’s libido. Perhaps that’s the story his wife told him. “Honey, I’m just not in the mood. You know, those birth control pills really put the kibosh on my sex drive.”

Here’s what Huckabee said: “(I)f the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it. Let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be. And women across America need to stand up and say, “Enough of that nonsense.”

First the obvious. Remember “family planning?” That’s what birth control pills are all about. The ability to plan if and when you’re ready to have children. In Huckabee’s world, I guess women only have sex when they want to procreate. He doesn’t say anything about men’s libido. To resurrect an old joke, the sheep must be nervous.

But even more bizarre is the notion that wanting the government to ensure and protect your rights makes you a helpless victim.

If that’s what Huckabee really believes, the logical extension of his argument is that we should encourage everybody to go out and buy a Bushmaster and then get rid of the Department of Defense.

Think of the savings. The 2014 DOD budget is $830.9 billion. That’s $2,628 for every man, woman and child in America or $10,512 for a family of four. The maximum annual food stamp allotment for a family of four is $7,584. The food stamp (SNAP) program’s total budget, at $80 billion is less than one tenth of the military budget.

If we divided up the savings from closing down the military and sent every family a check, we could eliminate the whole SNAP program and so much more.  We might actually win America’s longest running war.  The 50-year war on poverty.

Mike Huckabee might be on to something. Or on something…

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Certainty and the Republican Party

Remember how Republicans told us that the reason businesses haven’t been hiring for the past five years is because of uncertainty?  Uncertainty over how much their taxes were going to be, they said.  Then it was uncertainty about how the ACA (affectionately known as Obamacare) was going to impact their business. 

Demand shemand.  Nothing to do with demand, they said. Nothing to do with the growing gap between the rich and the poor, the fact that more people have less money to spend, that unemployment is still too high, that government has laid off close to a million people.  (Don’t forget, government doesn’t create jobs.)

So what does the Republican Party do to instill confidence?  They shut down the government and threaten to default on our debt.  Remember our debt?  That was supposed to be the biggest problem we have here in the good ole U-S-of-A.  And what would be guaranteed to increase our debt?  Well, if our political system looks so unstable that U.S. Treasuries no longer look like a safe bet.  Then, investors start demanding higher interest rates to compensate for the increased risk.  Then the costs of our debt starts to skyrocket. (Read more about the effects of the shutdown here.)

The only thing the Republican Party is certain about is that they’re right.  That they’re the true Americans — white, wealthy, weligious (Okay, so I couldn’t come up with a third “w” – pretend I’m Elmer Fudd.)

It’s time to dispel the myth that the Republican Party is the fiscally responsible party and Democrats are the profligate, spendthrift children who never saw a social program they didn’t like. Mythology aside, what, I ask, is wrong with social programs?  Isn’t the well-being of its people the primary mission of any government?


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Let the Rebranding Begin

The Republicans are at it again.  They think all they have to do is change their “brand” to get people to vote for them.  I offer a brief history of the Republican “Brand.”

The Lincoln Brand:  Ended slavery, kept the union together.  Considered by many to be the most distinguished of all Presidents. … And you know how it ended.

Quote:  “At what point, then, is the approach of danger [to the United States] to be expected?  I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad.  If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher.  As a nation of freemen we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” (Speech to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, IL, January 27, 1838)

The Eisenhower Brand:  WWII General, married to Mamie of the notoriously short bangs.  Significantly invested in infrastructure by building the Interstate Highway system.

Quote:  “We pray that… all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.” (Speech made upon leaving office.)

The Nixon Brand:  Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean nobody’s out to get me.

Quote: (Speaking of the Truman Administration as a Senator) “This administration has proved that it is utterly incapable of cleaning out the corruption which has completely eroded it and reestablishing the confidence and faith of the American people in the morality and honesty of their government employees.”

The Reagan Brand:  Morning in America: (watch out for “pre-dawn vertical insertions[1]”)

Quote: “Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders.”  California Governor Ronald Reagan, Sacramento Bee, April 28, 1966

The Bush Sr. Brand:  If you don’t like me, there’s plenty more where I came from.

Quote: “Read my lips – no new taxes.”  (He did raise taxes, but they were old taxes.)

The Bush Jr. Brand:  Don’t confuse me with the facts.

Quote: “Mission accomplished.”

The Gingrich Brand: Contract on America.

The Boehner Brand: It’s my Party and I’ll cry if I want to.

The Tea Party Brand: This is a Democracy – mean and stupid people deserve representation too!

Quote:  “We don’t care how many times we shoot ourselves in the foot, we’re not giving up our guns!” (Okay, I made that one up.)

[1] A military euphemism used to describe an early morning drop of equipment and personnel in the invasion of Grenada.

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Congress Approval Rating at 10%

I only have one thing to say: That high?

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