And Here We Are…

The U.S. presidential election stunned a lot of my friends.  It stunned me.  There was no way I could see an openly xenophobic, racist, and misogynistic candidate actually being elected the President of the United States.  Indeed, that is exactly what has happened.  It is a small salve, to me, that he did not win the popular vote.  But it is equally sobering that the vote shows a very polarized nation.  And now we have to wait and see what happens, like the rest of the world.

I pondered this election for many a sleepless night and have a few thoughts I’d like to share with you.  I’ve been voting since 1972.  I’ve watched a lot of elections.  I actually remember elections as far back as Johnson vs. Goldwater in ’64.  But this has been one of the craziest elections I’ve ever seen. Being an armchair amateur of U.S. politics and elections, I will attempt to write about what I see, in retrospect, that might help explain what we’ve all just witnessed.  Perhaps it will bring solace and hope.  Perhaps not.  Either way, take it with a grain of salt.

Without further adieu, here are my thoughts:

  1. Hillary (and her hubby Bill) couldn’t escape the baggage of the now forgotten Democratic Leadership Council which proposed a “Third Way” of mixing conservative and liberal ideas together to create a new economy that would offer benefits to business and workers back in the late 80’s to early 90’s. This was the beginning of the Corporate-Friendly Democratic Party.
  2. The move toward corporations for support of Democratic goals changed the Democratic goals, as evidenced first by NAFTA, and the embracing of free trade agreements.
  3. The move toward big money for funding campaigns made the corporations, celebrities, and other rich folks much more influential in setting priorities for the Democratic party. Worse still, the voices of the working class were eventually ignored while the leadership chased dollars of the rich and famous.
  4. The free trade agreements decimated factories, which decimated the working class.
  5. The free trade agreements required concessions from labor to keep their factories open, which again decimated the working class.
  6. The rise of automation had an incalculable effect on the working class.
  7. And the love of money, celebrity, and status became the Democratic Party’s, the Clinton’s, and Obama’s eventual downfall due in large part to the plight of the working class not being addressed.
  8. Have we all forgotten that Obama, when in the Rust Belt some years ago, mentioned how the folks there, the working class who were no longer working, “cling” to their guns and their bibles? Well, what else did they have?
  9. And no one can forget Hillary’s “deplorables” statement because, while partially true, it also was aimed, again, squarely at working class whites. (Nothing like kicking ‘em while they’re down.)
  10. The Democratic Party leaders embraced corporate crony capitalism with the goal of bettering all citizens. I have no doubt they believed this was the best way.
  11. But in so doing, the Party left its roots behind: the working class.
  12. Working class whites rebelled. They gave into fear and hate of that which is different. For they had 35 years of continued economic erosion.
  13. Working class people of color are rebelling due to the Democratic Party not keeping it’s promises to create better lives for all people who have not known economic opportunity.

And here we are.

Hillary, who makes more in a speech than I do in several years, trying to convince voters, and the working class, that she cares about them. I believe she does. But her ties to corporate influence, celebrities, and rich folk appeared more important than issues of the working class.

Obama tried. But he too was consumed by his own “celebrity” status and loved coming to my city, Los Angeles, for fundraisers. Gawd, he and Hillary and myriad other Democratic leaders flew in to L.A. so often to raise money from the rich and famous that it became a running joke every time traffic was jammed on the 405 freeway!

Would that they had spent more time flying in to Pennsylvania, Alabama, Mississippi, and Ohio to commiserate with the working class as often as they went to fundraisers. Just to let them know they care and they are trying.

I’m sure Democratic leadership cares. But then again, I think Republican leadership cares. But I’m also sure they didn’t try very hard to address the issues of the working class.

To me that’s the lesson. Jettison the corporate fundraising, the corporate approach to influence, and get back to your roots, the Working Class, now!

If not, we’re all in for a very rough ride from a charlatan who took advantage of human suffering without having a lick of sense on how to alleviate it.

But hope is not lost.  Perseverance and patience are the order of the day.  Human kindness is still the biggest salve on the planet for bettering ourselves and resolving issues.  Don’t forget, behind all these phobias that are now being expressed; behind the bullying and the hate speech are people who are basically fearful, not knowing their place in society, and in the future.  They’d rather “burn it down” than face an unknown future.  That’s what they’ve told us, in my opinion.  Give them hope.  Give them an economy that does allow them to provide for themselves and those they love.  And, finally, give them compassion even when it is very difficult to do so.  It is our only way forward.

(Clarification: I am not a member of any political party)

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101 Facts About 101 Women of the House and Senate [jezebel.com]

by Erin Gloria Ryan / jezebel.com

Yesterday, a record 101 women were sworn in as members of the US House of Representatives and Senate, which means that now, a mere 80% of federal elected officials are male. Woo! Girl power! It’s the end of men! But before we get ahead of ourselves celebrating women’s total 20% domination of the legislative branch, let’s take a minute to get to know a cocktail party fact about each of the 101 women who will be spending at least the next several weeks pretending to usher in a new era of bipartisanship in Washington.

Glowing, hopeful writeups of the 113th Congress describe the lawmakers sworn into office as the most diverse group in the history of the country. Still, 19 states — Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia — didn’t send any women to the House of Representatives this time around and all of those states except Alaska, Louisiana, Nebraska, and North Dakota are without female Senate representation as well. Still, both of California’s Senators are female and the entirety of New Hampshire’s Washington legislative delegation are women. So, progress. Kind of.

And now, without further ado, here are some fascinatingly share-able tidbits about the ladies who legislate, from Allyson Schwartz to Zoe Lofgren.

1. Allyson Y. Schwartz (D) PA Schwartz served as the executive director of a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood clinic from 1975 until 1988.
2. Amy Klobuchar (D) MN Sen. Klobuchar’s senior thesis at Yale was about the politicking around the building of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, ex-home of the Minnesota Twins and the world’s crappiest place to watch a sporting event.
3. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) AZ Kirkpatrick was raised on an Apache Indian reservation.
4. Ann McLane Kuster (D) NH Her great-grandfather was elected Governor of New Hampshire in 1904.
5. Ann Wagner (R) MO Wagner is the former ambassador to Luxembourg and currently occupies Todd Akin’s old House seat.
6. Anna G. Eshoo (D) CA Eshoo has served in Congress since 1993, and has never won with less than 57% of the vote.
7. Barbara Boxer (D) CA When she ran for a seat in the House of Representatives in 1982, the future Senator Boxer won with the campaign slogan “Barbara Boxer Gives a Damn.”
8. Barbara Lee (D) CA Lee was the only member of either house of Congress to vote against authorizing use of force after the September 11th attacks.
9. Barbara Mikulski (D) MD Rumor has it that Bill Clinton wanted Al Gore to choose Mikulski as his running mate during the 2000 elections rather than Sen. Joe Lieberman.
10. Betty McCollum (D) MN McCollum has caused conservatives to flip their shit twice in the last couple of years — once when she supported an amendment to a bill that would have stopped military sponsorship of NASCAR teams and once when she was recorded on video omitting the phrase “Under God” from the pledge of allegiance. SOMEONE FETCH ME THE FOX NEWS SMELLING SALTS!
11. Candice Miller (R) MI Candice Miller did not graduate from college.
12. Carol Shea-Porter (D) NH Volunteered in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina and was so disgusted by the federal government’s slow response to the disaster that she ran for Congress.
13. Carolyn Maloney (D) NY This tough-ass broad is the one who asked “Where are the women?!” during that infamous all-male panel on birth control last year.

Click to Read the Rest of the Story…

A Barrier Drops for Military Women [nytimes.com]

A small but important provision of the military budget bill just signed by President Obama ends a longstanding act of discrimination against women who serve in America’s military.

Offered by Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, the provision lifts a statutory ban on giving female service members insurance coverage for abortions in cases of rape and incest. Since 1988, military health plans have paid for abortions only when a pregnancy endangers a women’s life.

That policy was all the more unjustifiable given the serious and continuing problem of sexual assault among service members, and in light of the more respectful treatment accorded civilians who work for the federal government or rely on Medicaid. These nonsoldiers are allowed to use their government insurance to pay for abortions in cases of rape as well as in life-threatening situations.

The new provision does not end the difficulty that military women have in accessing safe abortion care. Next, Congress and the administration must end another longstanding restriction that prevents servicewomen from obtaining abortions at military hospitals and clinics, even if the women pay the bill. Current law bans abortions at military facilities, except in instances of rape or incest, or when a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life.

The rule is a special hardship for servicewomen stationed in foreign countries, particularly in a war zone like Afghanistan. Women serving overseas should have the same basic health care that other American women enjoy and should not have to risk their health, privacy or future career advancement in order to exercise a constitutionally protected right.

Two New York Democrats, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Louise Slaughter, will soon be reintroducing legislation to allow women to obtain abortions on military bases with private funds. It asks members of Congress to stop burdening soldiers with ideological restrictions on their health care.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/05/opinion/a-barrier-drops-for-military-women.html?_r=0