Friday Reads: Nasty Women and Bad Hombres Unite

Good Morning!

We continue to learn how resilient and fragile our form of democracy can be. Yes, Benjamin Franklin! We have a Republic and most of us are trying to keep it!   However, there is vast anger, ignorance, and hatred coming from the hearts of a segment of our population that is threatening our rule of law and government.  Here’s a great explanation of the situation from retired Justice David Souter who spoke on this very topic several years ago. We’re not seeing a discussion of ideologies. We’re seeing bigots throwing hate bombs. These folks have forgotten both their civics courses and their civility.

nasty-womanThis video and analysis comes from the Rachel Maddow news broadcast.

Here is that amazing clip of former Supreme Court Justice David Souter being frighteningly prescient about the decline of civic knowledge in America and the effect of that decline on the state of our democracy.

It’s hard to see how we can keep our Republic when we’re regaled with the autocratic leanings of extremely stupid, angry, and mean people that are our neighbors.  It’s manifest in what they send to our Congress and it’s manifested in the last eight years of absolute politically-mandated gridlock by one of our major parties who has an entire constituency made up of an ignorant people that are proving they do not want to be free people no matter how much they scream ‘liberty’.  They want white male privilege from years past. They want promises that no one can possibly deliver or keep. They’re losing because they want to stop change.

Republican Rep. Brian Babin on Thursday defended Donald Trump calling Hillary Clinton “a nasty woman” at the final presidential debate, saying “sometimes a lady needs to be told when she’s being nasty.”

Near the end of the debate Wednesday, Trump called Clinton “such a nasty woman” while she was answering a question on Social Security and Medicare. Trump’s comment elicited a strong rebuke online, where the #nastywoman went viral.

Appearing on the “Alan Colmes Show” on Thursday evening, Babin, a Trump supporter, was asked if he thought Trump’s comment was appropriate.

“You know what, she’s saying some nasty things,” the Texas congressman answered.

Colmes asked again if the comment was appropriate, to which Babin responded, “Well, I’m a genteel Southerner, Alan.”

“So that means no?” Colmes asked.

“No, I think sometimes a lady needs to be told when she’s being nasty,” Babin replied. “I do.”

“My assessment is that Mrs. Clinton has got so much baggage–” Babin added. “I think she’s done some nasty things.”

After Colmes repeatedly pressed the Texas congressman, he said he agreed with Trump’s assessment of Clinton as a “nasty woman.”

bad-hombreThis is the mindset of the putrid form of patriarchy held up by the worst forms of American-styled christianity. It’s the one that has totally poisoned the Republican party. This crazy Congressman is the same form of “genteel southerner” that would prefer racial minorities be “put in their place” and any member of the GLBT that tries to live openly and authentically be put to death.

In his long career as an accomplished journalist working across the American South, Steve Crump has come face-to-face with hatred and bigotry.

The Emmy-winning journalist spent time reporting on the Ku Klux Klan in which he, a black man, interviewed members of the organization, people who by their very membership profess to hate him due to the color of his skin.

For all that, though, Crump, 59, told The Washington Post that he’s never felt the blunt hatred he did in Charleston, S.C., on Oct. 8.

Crump, who works for WBTV in Charlotte, was in Charleston working on a story about cleanup following Hurricane Matthew. Along with his camera crew, he was filming near the southern tip of the peninsula when he came across a young white man, he and later police identified as 21-year-old Brian Eybers, holding an iPad, apparently producing some sort of “citizen journalism,” as Crump put it.

The man, watching the WBTV crew, was narrating his story into the tablet when Crump caught wind of what he was saying.

“He basically said, ‘There’s a black guy here. No, wait a minute, he’s a slave. No wait a minute, he’s a ‘n-word,’ ” Crump told The Post.

Added Crump, “I went from 0 to 60 in an instant, just like that. I just turned to [my cameraman] and said, ‘We need to get this guy on tape.’” (The result can be viewed above, with offensive language bleeped.)

We have people that want all their problems solved by the government.  They are not Democrats asking for Social Nets or investments in education.  They are people that think if the government would just get rid of people not like them, they’d have everything. They are authoritiarians. They want people punished for nearly anything they deem offensive. They want women to stay home and be slaves to their husbands. They want nothing of folks who practice religions other than theirs and folks that have any kind of cultural or physical difference unlike theirs.

They believe absolute shit like abortions occur in the ninth month. They are illiterate of science and human physiology. They are part and parcel of the Trump cult. They are extremist Republicans. They are enabled by every Republican that won’t stand up to them or has quit standing up to them.  The Republican party put together the FrankenTrumpers.screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-11-27-14-am

Donald Trump painted a picture of abortion in America in which doctors are “rip(ping) the baby out of the womb” the day before a baby is due to be born. However, medical experts have refuted that claim.

Trump said the following at the debate:

I think it’s terrible if you go with what Hillary is saying in the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.

Now, you can say that that’s okay, and Hillary can say that that’s okay, but it’s not okay with me. Because based on what she’s saying and based on where she’s going and where she’s been, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day. And that’s not acceptable.

An estimate by the federal government reveals that 91.4% of abortions in the United States occur within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. Only 1.3% of abortions occur later than 21 weeks into pregnancy. Zero occur on “the final day,” which by definition would not be an abortion, it would be classified as an infanticide.

imagesThe right wing’s appalling lack of knowledge about basic human reproduction and physiology continues to assert itself into the lives of woman and their families. It’s a government intrusion in to the decisions of doctors and patients and it stops the use of live saving and pregnancy preventing methodology.  It is all because of a bunch of gullible religious lunatics follow a political and powergrabbing group of evil ministers we have roaming this country. The Farewells are one of many examples. It’s never been about life.  It’s about white men controlling the lives of women and children.  Here’s a great breakdown of what was right and what was wrong about that abortion discussion from the last debate by Dr. Jennifer Gunter.

First of all, we don’t “rip” anything in OB/GYN. In surgery, we use sharp dissection and blunt dissection, but we don’t rip. Some women do tear during a vaginal delivery, but that’s not a doctor ripping the baby out. Even with a forceps delivery, I wouldn’t call it ripping. We also don’t rip tissues during c-sections.

Perhaps we can forgive Donald Trump for not knowing this as it is hard to believe that a man who bragged that he doesn’t change diapers and said he wouldn’t have had a baby if his wife had wanted him to actually physically participate in its care would have attended the birth of his own children. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart as there is, after all, lots of blood coming out the “wherever.”

Trump’s statement, as incorrect as it may be, supports the fallacy of the due-date abortion. It is a common anti-choice narrative that women come in at 39 weeks and have some kind of abortion for fun or out of boredom and that we doctors are only to happy to comply. I’m sure some people think there are Groupons. The more graphic the description of the procedure, the better as it helps to distract from the facts.

Talking about abortion from a medical perspective is challenging when you are not a health care provider. Even someone familiar with the laws can get confused. For example, Mrs. Clinton made an error speaking about late-term abortion when she said it was a health of the mother issue. Typically, it is not (it’s almost always fetal anomalies). However, this error on Clinton’s part only underscores how important it is for politicians to not practice medicine.

To put it in perspective, 1.3 percent of abortions happen at or after 21 weeks and 80 percent are for birth defects. Put another way, 1 percent of abortions that are at or after 21 weeks and are for birth defects and 0.3 percent of abortions are at or after 21 weeks and are not for birth defects (some of these will be health of the mother and a very few will be for other indications)

Trump’s writers for his speech last night continued to show how mean-spirited, lying, and ignorant this section of the Republican Party has become.  The Alt-Right and its minions show no civility in any instance.  They can’t even hold it together for a speech for children’s charities in front of a Cardinal, a roomful of clergy, and plutocrats and politicians.  Trump was booed quite a few times for jokes that were not jokes or funny. Many of his remarks were just outright horrible barbs at one of the nation’s leading public servants. You may not agree with Hillary Clinton on the issues, but you cannot deny her life of public service to this country and to its children without being seriously misled, wrong, ignorant or evil.  Trump actually had a good joke or two but couldn’t restrain himself to just jokes.

Ever the entertainer, Trump was probably responsible for the biggest laugh of the night but also the event’s loudest boos — until this year, booing was unheard of at the dinner.

The high point of Trump’s remarks started as a comment on media bias. Complaining about why the media is so much harder on the Trumps, Trump brought up how the media loved Michelle Obama’s recent speech but then “my wife gives the exact same speech and people get on her case. And I don’t get it. I don’t know why.

cjones10222016-e1476982148865That was a joke.  It was not out of line and it got his point of media bias across to the audience.  Then he degenerated into just calling Clinton corrupt then saying she had no business being here because she’s anti-catholic.  The booing ensued. It would be shocking under normal circumstances.  It is no longer shocking with Trump and the current crop of Alt-Right wing nuts in charge of the Republican Party.

Never before have we seen anything like this since right before the Civil War. Look how that turned out.

Trump’s announced many times now that he’s reserving judgement on the outcome of this national election. Meanwhile, the polls show him losing much ground.  He never held the high ground but even the swamps are turning on him.  Obama has never been more popular. The margins of the polls in many states indicate that the Democrats will take the Senate and are closing in on taking the House. If this happens, we will know our Republic is still working.

But, what will we do with the losers?  It doesn’t appear like they want to wake up to the fact that they are seriously out of step with the majority of the American people.  It’s a relief to know that most of us are not like them in anyway.  But we know one thing. They have guns. They have anger.  They’ve been enabled and babied for too damn long.

Have a great day!  Let us know what’s on your reading and blogging list today!!!

Live Blog: Alfred E Neuman errr Alfred E Smith Dinner

Good Evening!

article-2212029-155179de000005dc-760_634x817Thought we’d see if any one is going to watch the annual Alfred E Smith Dinner tonight. Any bets any which way to see if Donald Dumpf has any kind of sense of humor?  Will Hillary come in looking like Joan Arc with a sword, shield, armor and a tightly surrounded by secret service?

Rumor has it, his inability to take a joke or seven about him uttered by President Obama at the 2011 Alfred E Smith dinner caused him to hoist himself this year on the American people.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have some tough shoes to fill — could either of them take over President Obama’s role as comedian in chief?

With 19 days left until the election, they’ll have their chance to try out Thursday night at the 71st annual Alfred E. Smith charity dinner, where many presidential candidates in the past have taken a break from the vitriol of the campaign and make fun of themselves.

It will be the last time the two will share a stage before Americans head to the polls on Nov. 8.

Both nominees are slated to attend the 9 p.m. ET white-tie event at the Waldorf Astoria, which will air live on CBSN, that benefits Catholic charities and some of the neediest children in New York. The fundraiser honors former New York governor Al Smith, who ran for president in 1928 and became the first Catholic nominee of a major party.

mad3n-1-web We’re undoubtedly going to see some awkward moments.  What will the jokes actually be like at Cardinal Dolan’s little soiree?  The dinner has not always been friendly or neutral politically.

A charitable foundation that takes his name was launched in 1946, two years after Smith’s death, and over the years its annual dinner has become “a ritual of American politics,” as historian Theodore H. White put it, where candidates of opposing parties would come together for a few hours of comic relief at the height of an intense campaign battle.

But the white-tie dinner itself has not been free of controversy, especially for its host. Cardinal Dolan, for example, was excoriated by conservative Catholics in 2012 when he continued the tradition by inviting President Obama, whose stance in support of abortion rights and other issues outraged some.

There was some precedent for Dolan to punt on an invitation to Obama: In 1996, then-Cardinal John O’Connor did not invite either of that year’s candidates because he did not want to give President Bill Clinton, an abortion rights supporter who was running for re-election, a church-sponsored platform that tends to show the candidates in a flattering light.

And in 2004, then-Cardinal Edward Egan did not invite either candidate, President George W. Bush or his challenger Democratic nominee, John Kerry, a Catholic who supports abortion rights.

But, what goes down tonight is kind’ve a big secret.  Join us if you’re up for yucks and YUCK!!!!!Z

The dinner is such a ritual that it has its own episode of The West Wingdedicated to it. But there have been breaks in the tradition. In 1996, neither presidential candidate was invited. The official explanation was that the candidates were not able to confirm attendance, but it was widely reported that the Catholic leadership was dismayed by then-president Bill Clinton’s veto of a bill that would have outlawed late-term abortions. In 2004, the two candidates were not invited and there was speculation that it was Democratic nominee John Kerry’s pro-choice stance that was the issue.

 Trump and Clinton, however, are both expected to attend tonight, though neither campaign has shared details about what the candidates will say. A statement from the foundation confirming the candidates’ attendance promised that the two would “deliver the evening’s keynote speeches in the spirit of collegiality and good-humor that has become a hallmark of the gala.”
 In an election season filled with unusually harsh and spiteful rhetoric, some good-natured humor might be just the antidote the American people need.

We can only hope the secret service keeps Donald in a corner some where.2d77da7800000578-3276056-image-a-8_1445011722885

Are you ready?  Grab the popcorn and your sense of humor, irony, and patriotism!!!


Live Blog Three: He said WHAT?

14705733_10154121300228512_1700554752428959349_n-1I cannot believe what Trump said about Secretary Clinton. I am speechless about what he thinks about our nationwide elections brought to you by every state and county across this country to include many many many Republican elected official.

He actually said that Secretary Clinton was “such a nasty woman”.

He also just said that he may or may not abide by the results of our elections which he considers ‘rigged’ somehow.

All my children wanted to watch this debate tonight!  We wound up at the New Orleans Hillary Watch party!.

I’m now listening to the pundits being flabbergasted by the idea that Trump says he’s going to keep every one in suspense about Hillary’s winning the election.

We know that Pence said no to that. Even daughter Ivanka think it’s nuts.

He’s gone full throttle Conspiracy theorist now and shaken our democracy to  it’s root.

The best thing is he couldn’t physically intimate her this time.  She may reel in this election in a complete rout!


Monday Reads: In Other News …


Good Afternoon!

I’m fighting a horrible, terrible, very awful sinus infection that I really wouldn’t wish on any one. You’re just fortunate you can’t hear my voice right now.  I sound truly diabolical.  Of course, nothing could be as diabolical as a Trump Rally or Trump surrogate rationalizing Trump’s descent into madness and our descent into yet a lower level of the inferno he’s created for the nation.   That’s why I’m going to take yet another day for anything but Trump-related reads.

Remember, we have another debate coming up on Wednesday and a live blog.  I’m shuddering with either fever or the thought of another Trump Horror show.  I’m supposed to be at a pre-wedding thing for youngest daughter but I really hate to share this illness with any one but the ex. We’ll be here as your usual safe zone.   Either way, I will have wine.

The news has been so overtaken with the general election craziness that it distracts from other important things.  This is a truly great time of the year and it’s closing in on Halloween.  Indulge me while I indulge one of my favorite things.  Yup.  It’s an ancient grave yard, a classic scary book, and travelling Transylvania armed with only Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” as your guide.  What more could you want than to start your day with monsters that come from one’s imagination instead of the Republican Party?  I think you’ll delight in the photos and words of Luke Spencer at Atlas Obscura.  Go check it out!!!

Nighttime in Transylvania is as atmospherically spooky as you would hope it would be. During the winter, a thick, low-lying mist covers thick forests of pine trees and firs. Above the fog, you can see the silhouetted turrets and spires of ancient castles and fortified churches. Many of the old homes there still burn wood fires, adding to the smoky air, while the towns are filled with gothic and baroque buildings that were once beautiful, but are now marked by peeling paint and crumbling facades.

It is common at night to hear howling in the forests, either from stray dogs or wolves. It’s easy to see why Bram Stoker chose this part of Romania to be a setting for his most chilling creation, Dracula.

The first section of Stoker’s gothic horror masterpiece takes the form of a travel journal, written in shorthand by a young English solicitor, Jonathan Harker, who is traveling across Europe to help conduct a land purchase on behalf of a noble client. Harker keeps a detailed diary of his journey from Munich to Transylvania, where he plans to meet the mysterious Count Dracula in his castle.

My plan was to follow in the footsteps of the fictional Harker, taking the same train routes—where possible staying in the same cities, towns and hotels—and ending my journey at the home of Vlad the Impaler, the real-life inspiration for Dracula. Partly encircled by the Carpathian mountains, Transylvania is still largely unexplored, despite its beauty and wealth of fascinating, centuries-old sites.

03057ca9ae30dc6b7fb4c3ec0c8fd8a9Some Brits are worried that we may be terribly distracted by the election.  I know that Biden spoke about a possible cyber attack on Russia and that we essentially can’t sustain attacks on both Mosul and Aleppo which is why we’re focusing on the Iraqi attack on Mosul which we’re facilitating.  John Kerry is planted in Europe right now trying to get our allies to consider some economic sanctions on Russia.  So, there’s a lot in the air right now in foreign affairs which makes me even more glad we will have a President Hillary Clinton smoothly transitioning from the Obama administration.

The assault on the Iraqi city of Mosul that began this week underlines the fact that the next three months will be a perilous period in international politics. Fighting is intensifying in the Middle East. Tensions are rising between Russia and the west. And relations between China and its Asian neighbours are getting edgier. All this is happening while the US is diverted by the Trump-Clinton melodrama and the transition to a new president.

For Russia and China — two countries that are openly unhappy with the US-dominated world order — a distracted America will look like an opportunity. Both Moscow and Beijing regard Hillary Clinton with suspicion and believe that her probable arrival in the Oval Office would herald a more hawkish US foreign policy. They may be tempted to act swiftly, before she has a chance to settle into the White House.

A temporarily preoccupied America might not matter much in normal times. But big and dangerous decisions are looming. In the Middle East, the bombardment of Aleppo by Russian and Syrian government forces has led to a near-breakdown in relations between Moscow and the west. Without a common diplomatic project to hold them together, the two sides may slide into outright confrontation in Syria. Further sanctions on Russia are in the offing and the west’s military options are also being reviewed.

President Vladimir Putin may calculate that a US administration that has refused to take military action against the Assad regime since 2011 is unlikely to reverse course in President Barack Obama’s last few months in office. But if the Russians push too hard, they could miscalculate and provoke an American reaction. That is particularly the case because the Obama administration is angered by Russian cyber warfare, aimed at influencing the US presidential election. Joe Biden, the vice-president, has already signalled that America intends to retaliate in cyber space.

Even without a worsening of the situation in Syria, fighting in the Middle East will intensify in the coming weeks. The Iraqi government, backed by the air power of a US-led coalition, has begun a major push to retake Mosul from Isis. With one eye on his legacy and another on the presidential election, Mr Obama would be delighted to notch up a significant victory against Isis in the coming weeks.

I’d be really interested in seeing more of this on TV news but I’m usually greeted by some unhinged screed of some unhinged Trump surrogate instead.   As you may know, I’m trying to make ends meet as a sharecropper University professor right now.  Here’s a read at AltNet on a book about the sharing economy and university professors.  It’s an interesting read.0e3a4e08a2bd55d2f49c82bacc769ae4

My book, The Uberfication of the University, explores what neoliberalism’s further weakening of the social is likely to mean for the future organization of labor by examining data and information companies associated with the emergence of the corporate sharing economy. It focuses on the sharing economy because it is here that the implications for workers of such a shift to a postwelfare capitalist society are most apparent today. This is a society in which we are encouraged to become not just what Michel Foucault calls entrepreneurs of the self but micro-entrepreneurs of the self, acting as if we are our own, precarious, freelance microenterprises in a context in which we are being steadily deprived of employment rights, public services, and welfare support. Witness the description one futurologist gives of how the nature of work will change, given that 30 to 80 percent of all jobs are predicted to disappear in the next twenty years as a result of developments in automation and advanced robotics: “You might be driving Uber part of the day, renting out your spare bedroom on Airbnb a little bit, renting out space in your closet as storage for Amazon or housing the drone that does delivery for Amazon.”

Talk about being careful what you wish for: a recent survey of university vice-chancellors in the United Kingdom identifies a number of areas of innovation with the potential to reshape higher education. Among them are “uses of student data analytics for personalized services” (the number one innovation priority for 90 percent of vice-chancellors); “uses of technology to transform learning experiences” (massive open online courses [MOOCs]; mobile virtual learning environments [VLEs]; “anytime-anywhere learning” (leading to the demise of lectures and timetables); and “student-driven flexible study modes” (“multiple entry points” into programs, bringing about an end to the traditional academic year). Responding to this survey, an editorial in the academic press laments that “the UK has world-leading research universities, but what it doesn’t have is a higher education equivalent of Amazon or Google, with global reach and an aggressive online strategy.” Yet one wonders whether any of those proclaiming the merits of such disruptive innovation have ever stopped to consider what a higher education institution emulating the expansionist ambitions of U.S. companies like Amazon and Google would actually mean for those currently employed in universities.

10-1024x676Science illiteracy in this country is truly reaching epic proportions.  Lisa Ryan writes on the STATE OF THE UTERUS and has found a letter to the enditor where a “Pennsylvania Man Wonders What Will Happen to America If Hillary Clinton Has Her Period.”

We have many things to fear in today’s world. There’s terrorism, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and sexual assault, to name a few. Yet one concerned citizen has finally alerted us to the greatest threat of all: a female president who has her period.

In a letter to the editor of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, Carl Unger of Montgomery, Pennsylvania, pointed out that, while the “liberals and Obama are calling for social justice,” everyone is ignoring the bigger problem here. That, of course, is Hillary Clinton’s uterus.

“They call us sexist just because we are critical of Hillary Clinton and her health,” Unger wrote. “What if that time of the month comes and she is sick at the same time?”

And this is the point where I wonder if men understand women’s reproductive cycle and the concept of menopause at all.  This article comes with a h/t to Delphyne.1-7-fairyIt appears that a “state actor” may have cut of Assange’s internet access. Wikileaks has been in the new recently for hacking what is claimed to be Podesta’s email.  None have been officially recognized as real.

Wikileaks says an unidentified “state actor” has shut down internet access for its founder Julian Assange.

The transparency activist has been claiming asylum at London’s Ecuadorean embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition over sex assault allegations.

There was no way to immediately verify if he had been knocked offline, and if so, how a state actor was suspected.

Wikileaks has recently been releasing emails from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The anti-secrecy organisation did not return calls and emails on Monday, though it said in a tweet: “We have activated the appropriate contingency plans.”

A woman who picked up the phone at the Ecuadorean embassy said: “I cannot disclose any information.”

I personally have not found anything to get hysterical about concerning the leaked emails but many of them seemed to be highly edited and coming from Russia.  Maybe this is what Biden alluded to this week.  The link leads to the MTP interview with Chuck Todd that aired yesterday morning.

866c2809c0fdc10f535346042815160bDid you know that Bob Dylan is not the only lyricist to have won the Nobel Prize in Lit?  I’ve read Tagore, have you?  My son-in-law’s Bengali family is quite proud of this really talented and brilliant man.  He was not only a poet but a prolific fiction writer and musician.

There’s been a great deal of excitement over Bob Dylan winning the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature. It’s rare for artists who have achieved widespread, mainstream popularity to win. And although Nobels often go to Americans, the last literature prize to go to one was Toni Morrison in 1993. Furthermore, according to The New York Times, “It is the first time the honor has gone to a musician.”

But as Bob Dylan might croon, “the Times they are mistaken.”

A Bengali literary giant who probably wrote even more songs preceded Dylan’s win by over a century. Rabindranath Tagore, a wildly talented Indian poet, painter and musician, took the prize in 1913.

The first musician (and first non-European) to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, Tagore possessed an artistry – and lasting influence – that mirrored Dylan’s.

Here’s an interesting read on a medical secretary who wanted to be a muse from The New Yorker. This article indicates that she was anything but a muse.

Mège began her project in 1986, when she was twenty years old. She had just moved to Paris from the province of Auvergne, not far from Lyon, where her father was the manager of an automobile-equipment shop and her mother stayed home. When asked about her childhood and adolescence, she uses words like “fine” and “calm” and “French.” At the time she came to Paris, she had never met an artist, and had been to few museum shows, but she collected record covers and postcards of images that appealed to her. One Saturday in mid-July, she went alone to an exhibition by the portrait photographer Jeanloup Sieff at the Musée d’Art Moderne. Stunned by the images, which depicted anonymous and ordinary, as well as famous, subjects, she wrote to Sieff, telling him that she liked his work. To her surprise, he telephoned her a few days later. She wrote in her diary, which she kept from 1986 until 2008, “He calls me, I’m extremely moved, surprised, I feel drunk.” She asked him if he would consider making a picture of her.

So, this is my humble offering today in the hope we can get our minds on the future challenges of the world with Madam President!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Friday Reads

Good Morning!

I usually enjoy this time of year.  I also usually enjoy the political season even though there are candidates here and there that make me very mad.  Usually, one weird state or another in the great outback sends a Senator or a Congressman to Washington that should be in Bizarro World instead.  I’ve lived in states most of my life that send complete morons and the occasional shining star to DC. I’m used to that.  This isn’t the usual at all.   The President and First Lady pointed that out eloquently yesterday.

They should know.
They’ve been under attack since they won their race. Michelle Obama knows what it’s like to be under attack for physical features you cannot change and others use to define you in unkind ways.  Her speech yesterday as well as her speech at the DNC will be the defining moments of US politics for some time when history gets around to sorting us out.  The lows have been very low and she went high.  She defined what we should be as a society and a country.  Some time during her tenure as FLOTUS, she found a powerful political voice and we are better off for it. She’s had every racist and sexist attack thrown at her for 8 years. She can preach it from a place of knowing.  This is from VOX.

Obama’s speech was emotional, and that makes sense. She knows firsthand that Trump’s infamous remarks, and the underlying views of women they reflect, are all too common.

When she talks about “vulgar words” and “shameful comments” that equate women’s value with their physical appearances, she could just as easily be referring to things that have been said about her, often with a dose of racism mixed in to increase the insults. Just a few examples:

  • In 2010, discussing the first lady’s promotion of breastfeeding, radio host Rush Limbaugh said he wasn’t surprised to see her “encouraging people to get on that teat.”
  • In 2012, a California comedian joked that “Playboy is offering Ann Romney $250,000 to pose in the magazine, and the White House is upset about it because National Geographic only offered Michelle Obama $50 to pose for them.”
  • In 2013, a Richmond, Virginia, school board member’s email captioned a photo of traditionally dressed African women with bare breasts “Michelle Obama’s high school reunion.”
  • In July 2015, Patrick Rushing, the mayor of Airway Heights, Washington, referred to her as “monkey man” and “gorilla face” in a Facebook post.
  • Just in July, a loan officer lost her job after calling the first lady an “ugly black bitch” on Twitter.

Obama didn’t speak out in response to any of these attacks, but it’s not hard to read her speech as partly catharsis about the pain she’s endured and what it says about how women — and black women in particular — are demeaned in this country.

Michelle Obama–like her husband–has grown in office. Her passion is children.  She is the mother of daughters. She wants a bright and happy future for all children.  She has this in common with many women and with Hillary Clinton.  This passion is the root and soul of her heartfelt speeches.

Her legacy at the White House will include this beautiful kitchen garden.

First Lady Michelle Obama announced on Wednesday a $2.5 million donation on behalf of the Burpee Foundation towards her beloved White House kitchen garden long after she leaves the grounds.

At the event that kicked off her final fall harvest, Mrs. Obama spoke emotionally and nostalgically as she recounted the effort and passion of those who helped the White House kitchen garden blossom into what it is today –a “refuge,” “symbol” of healthy living, and a “labor of love” to many.

“This garden has taught us that if we have the courage to plant a seed–to be brave enough to plant it, then take care of it, water it, tend to it, invite friends to help us take care of it, weather the storms that inevitably come… if we have the courage to do that, then we never know what might grow,” she said at a dedication ceremony. “Now, that’s what this garden has taught me, to be fearless in those efforts, to try new things, to not be afraid to mess up–things we tell our kids all the time.”

The White House kitchen garden and the “Let’s Move” initiative, Mrs Obama added, created a cultural movement, inspiring future generations from all industries to transform the American way of life

“After an era of everything being supersized, who would have thought that major companies would be racing to market smaller, lower calorie versions of their snacks and beverages, from half sized candy bars to little mini soda cans? We see it everywhere we go,” she said. “Who would have thought that chain restaurants focused solely on salad would be the hottest new trend, or that those fitness bracelets would become so common that we wouldn’t even notice them any longer?”

I have a few other reads to suggest today. I’m making this short because my struggle continues here.  My car is acting up terribly. My computer is being completely unreliable.  It has the same problem that BB’s Computer has. We’ve both had it since we bought these.  I finally got my third phone to replace the first one that quit charging itself.  It’s working at the moment.  My youngest gets married next Saturday.  I am the proverbial basket case.  I’m tossing down Valerian root like candy and meditating frequently.  I’ve found poverty in old age to be the most challenging thing I’ve ever faced.

There’s an interview with the author–Robert P. Jones–on a new book on the end of White American Christian hegemony. You can watch it at The Atlantic.

The United States is no longer a majority white, Christian country, and that is already beginning to have profound social and political implications. At 45 percent of the population, white Christians are a shrinking demographic—and the backlash from many members of the group against the increasing diversification of America has been swift and bitter. “People fight like that when they are losing a sense of place, a sense of belonging, and a sense of the country that they understand and love,” says Robert P. Jones, the author of The End of White Christian America, in this animated interview. “How do they reengage in public life when they can’t be the majority?”

Many American Lawmakers from major US Cities are joining Elizabeth Warren’s fight against AirBnB.  This is a good feature article from The Guardian.

Airbnb is facing renewed calls for a federal investigation from more than a dozen US cities, boosting senator Elizabeth Warren’s efforts to force the popular home-sharing startup to release data on its affordable housing impact.

A coalition of American lawmakers, including leaders from New York, San Francisco, Seattle, St Louis and Portland, urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Thursday to “help cities to protect consumers” and “study the extent to which the [short-term rental] industry is facilitating commercial operations”.

The joint letter, first reported by the Guardian, marks an escalation of a growing national campaign to force Airbnb to eliminate illegal hotels and large-scale commercial businesses that city leaders say are contributing to affordable housing shortages and urban displacement.

The push comes months after Warren – the progressive senator from Massachusetts and a high-profile Hillary Clinton supporterurged the FTC to examine Airbnb, an unprecedented step in US lawmakers’ scrutiny of the booming “sharing economy”.

The San Francisco-based startup is currently engaged in contentious legal battleswith city governments across the country, and has become one of the most high-profile California tech companies to dramatically disrupt a longstanding industry, raising complex challenges for regulators.

Opponents have increasingly pushed for tighter restrictions on the $30bncompany, which allows hosts to rent their homes to strangers. Although the firm markets itself as a third-party “sharing” platform for “short-term” rentals, reports have suggested that many are using the site for hotel-like businesses and long-term leases – taking much-needed affordable housing off the market

BBC News has a beautiful video up  showing prehistoric Chauvet Cave .  This actually an wp-1476475917497.jpgolder story from April 2015 but I really feel like we all could use some beauty.  (It’s also why I have used pictures of the White House Kitchen Garden with happy kids.)

It’s locked away behind a thick metal door, hidden halfway up a towering limestone cliff-face.

Few people have ever been allowed inside, but BBC Newsnight has been granted rare access by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.

We slide through a metal passageway on our backsides, and then tentatively descend a ladder.

It takes a few moments to adjust to the darkness, but our head torches soon reveal that we’ve entered into a vast cave system of geological beauty.

We weave along the narrow metal walkways; stalactites and stalagmites glimmer in the light, sparkling curtains of calcite hang down from above and the floor is awash with the bones of long-dead animals.

Until recently, the last people to set eyes on this place were our Palaeolithic ancestors, before a rock fall cut it off from the outside world.

This exquisitely preserved time-capsule was sealed shut for more than 20,000 years, until it was discovered by three cavers – Eliette Brunel-Deschamps, Christian Hillaire and Jean-Marie Chauvet, after whom it is now named – on the 18th December 1994.

At first they thought they had uncovered a network of spectacular caverns.

But as they ventured deeper inside, they realised this was the discovery of a lifetime – the cave held some of the oldest art ever found.

It’s breathtaking when we get our first glimpse of it.

The walls are adorned with hundreds of paintings.

Most of them are animals – woolly rhinos, mammoths, lions and bears intermingle with horses, aurochs and ibex.

Some are isolated images: we wander past a small rhino, a single, lonely creature daubed on the rock. But there are also huge, complex compositions, a menagerie of beasts jostling for space on great swathes of the cavern wall.

Take care every one!  Guard what can go into your mind!  Things on TV are very toxic these days. Try to surround yourself with beauty and the love of family and friends.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Monday Reads: Hillary Clinton is Every Woman

Good Afternoon!

Donald Trump should come with trigger warnings.  I believe that every person I know whose experience includes abuse from the archetypal domineering abusive boss, family member or love interest spent last evening into this morning with PTSD anxiety. While a few men believe that Trump held his own during the debate, the supermajority of women saw Hillary Clinton experiencing interaction with every awful man that’s ever crossed their path. 

He was the unwanted sexual predator that stalks you and violates your personal space to intimidate you.  He was that boss that mansplains and lies on topics he knows nothing about to you while completely ignoring your credentials and experience.  He was that teacher, that clerk, that waiter, that person who insists you’re crazy when you correct his lies and errors.  He’s the one that wants you institutionalized just because you inconvenience him.

I am still anxious and shaking this morning.  Jessica Samikow summed up a series of tweets from women during the debate with this pithy analysis.molly-ringwald-fuck-off

Clinton showed up prepared to act how women are taught we need to in order to prove ourselves in male-dominated space: She came armed with facts, kept her composure as to not seem emotional, and forced a smile when there was nothing to smile about. The democratic nominee was met by a man (if you could call him that) who interrupted her constantly to mansplain topics he knows nothing about, lost his temper when his ego was bruised, made light of his own rape-y comments, and lurked behind her intimidatingly as to imply: This is a man’s world, you’re just livin’ in it.

Last night, she was us in our continual struggle to be seen as moral agents, something other than property, and intelligent respect-worthy human beings.  Women’s tweets weren’t the only ones crying out for respect to humanity.  #MuslimReportStuff was highly enlightening.

Asked about the issue of Islamophobia, Trump said that while it is an issue, he said Muslims who come into the country must “report when they see something going on.”

The FBI says Muslims already do report what they see. This summer, the FBI’s director said “some of our most productive relationships are with people who see things and tell us things who happen to be Muslim,” according to Reuters.

In response to Trump’s suggestion that Muslims report what’s going on, several Muslims began to follow his suggestion. First, the following tweet went viral:

Those of us that watched were horrified.  First there was a parade of women that had accused Bill Clinton decades ago of some form of sexual harassment or assault.  The three women’s cases had been investigated and dealt with during his presidency. They were used like a human shield at the debate to intimidate and shame Hillary Clinton.  It was positively inhumane on all fronts. 

There’s an episode of the dystopian TV series Black Mirror in which terrorists force the British prime minister to fuck a pig on live television. As people gather to gawk at the spectacle, rambunctious prurience gives way to funereal sadness; the humiliation soils everyone who watches it. That’s what it felt like going into the second presidential debate on Sunday. Before it even started, Donald Trump had held a press conference with three women who’ve accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault and one woman, Kathy Shelton, who loathes Hillary Clinton because, as a young attorney, Clinton was assigned to defend Shelton’s indigent alleged rapist. Apparently hoping to get under Clinton’s skin, Trump put the women in the debate audience, and his campaign signaled that he intended to go nuclear on the Clintons’ marriage. In the moments before the debate started, the camera panned the members of the two candidates’ families, their faces strained and sad. There was a sense that something unprecedented and unspeakable was about to happen.

Clinton, despite rumors to the contrary, is a human being. She had to speak fluently about policy while being flayed for her husband’s sins before an audience of tens of millions. She had to appear unruffled while Trump, stewing and pacing, loomed behind her, physically menacing her with his bulk. He threatened to have her imprisoned if elected; she betrayed not a hint of rage or shock. She made, I think, a strategic decision not to fully engage with him, even if that meant letting some of his outrageous assertions hang there unchallenged. To me, she seemed a model of grace and poise, smiling through a disgusting ordeal.

b7ba8b22b57ea500b71bbf9ca43741e4Trump’s goal was to publicly humiliate Hillary Clinton. There are those that are saying that he failed including Greg Sargent at the Plum Line (WAPO).

It’s obvious that the Clinton campaign grasped that Trump’s paramount goal here was to drag Hillary down into the pig slop with him. Thus, she declined to respond directly to the claims about the 1990s, and instead immediately pivoted to a discussion of all of the other targets of Trump’s abuse and bigotry (she referenced his birtherism, his ridicule of a disabled reporter, his attacks on the Khan family and the Mexican-American judge, and his affection for belittling women). The message was that this isn’t about Clinton herself; it’s just another piece of evidence in the broader case that someone who is so bigoted, misogynist, hateful, and pathologically abusive is unfit for the presidency.


Perhaps the most ground breaking event was when the autocratic Trump suggested he’d order his AG to arrest Clinton.  This was something one sees in the Democratic Republic of Congo, not the United States Of America.  While women are focused on all the overt brutal misogyny of last night, the men seem focused on the clear and present threat to the rule of law, the Constitution, and to U.S. Democracy as we know it.

There is no way to sugarcoat this: At Sunday night’s presidential debate, Donald Trump threatened to throw Hillary Clinton in jail if he wins the presidency. This — threatening to jail one’s political opponents — is how democratic norms die.

The exchange happened during a discussion of the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Trump began by decrying Clinton’s conduct — which, according to the FBI, was quite bad but not illegal. He then proposed appointing a special prosecutor to investigate her, and warned Clinton that, if he were president now, “you’d be in jail”:

TRUMP: I’ll tell you what. I didn’t think I’d say this, and I’m going to say it, and hate to say it: If I win, I’m going to instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there’s never been so many lies, so much deception … A very expensive process, so we’re going to get a special prosecutor because people have been, their lives have been destroyed for doing one-fifth of what you’ve done. And it’s a disgrace, and honestly, you ought to be ashamed.

CLINTON: Let me just talk about emails, because everything he just said is absolutely false. But I’m not surprised … It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law of our country.

DT: Because you’d be in jail.

This is so far beyond normal that it’s hard to even know where to start.

In democracies, we respect people’s rights to disagree with each other. When one candidate wins a presidential election, the loser returns to private life or another government position. In some cases, former rivals become close friends. George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who defeated Bush in the 1992 election, travel together and have spent decades jointly raising money to aid the victims of natural disasters.

They don’t get sent to jail, because we believe that political disagreement should be legal.

Donald Trump doesn’t seem to care about all that.

In his last line — “you’d be in jail” — he is outright saying that he would imprison Hillary Clinton in office (if he could). This comes despite the fact that there is no evidence Clinton committed a crime in her handling of the email servers, despite lengthy investigations that found evidence of carelessness and dishonesty. That would be a politically motivated prosecution — retribution for daring to run against Trump and attack him during the campaign.

 A fact checked transcript is available from WBUR.  Trump spewed an avalanche of lies last night.  Hillary Clinton noted it9b5d636ff417660f0b304a870686c4e6 seemed beyond his usual 70% rate and fact-checkers assured us it was.  He spent an inordinate amount of time last night sniffing and yelling at Martha Radditz about how every one was unfair to him on the time.  Yet, at the end of the time count, he came out ahead by almost two minutes.

Still, the interesting thing was that the media appeared reading to declare Trump as having held his own or “winning” the debate until the female correspondents–like Joy Reid–pointed out the appalling visual of Trump stalking and intimidating Clinton around the stage.  I’m not sure how that Trump debate performance exceeded any one’s expectations.  It was like watching something from the Hunger Games to me it was so dark and dystopian. It included a run on advertisement for a Trump Hotel at the old DC Post office.  The content was straight out of Alt-Right fever dreams.

Here’s David Gergen’s take for what it’s worth.  It includes one of the few scientific post-debate poll results.

Whatever chance Donald Trump still had of capturing the White House largely evaporated Sunday night in his second debate with Hillary Clinton.

Coming off the worst 10 days of any campaign in recent history, Trump desperately needed a win in order to reverse his slide in the polls. He was indeed better than in the first debate and she was not as commanding. Even so, he blew his opportunity for victory in the first 20 minutes and could never fully recover. CNN’s poll found that by 57-34%, a majority of voters watching them thought she got the best of him.

His loss came through a series of bizarre moments. The first was his surprise pre-debate appearance with four female accusers of Bill Clinton. While a case can be made for re-hearing their claims of long ago, the event seemed like a stunt and Trump never made real use of it in the debate.

But more damning still was the way he handled the disgusting video from 11 years ago in which he made vulgar sexual remarks. Trump could possibly have achieved a measure of forgiveness if he had issued a sincere, thoughtful apology about his past as well as some ugly incidents in this campaign. But his apology was limited in scope, seemed slightly dismissive, and went off track when he mixed ISIS into the conversation.

On behalf of women every where …   b5f1b6a6fa66dc803802c1046cbca62c

and Delete your Damn Life.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Friday Reads: Madly Truly Deeply Deplorable

161006121216-01-hurricane-matthew-haiti-1006-large-169Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I found a series of reads this week on what makes Donald Trump supporters tick. It’s an interesting combination of things that dives into the deplorables. The primary focus of these studies are white, uneducated working class men along with a few women because the main demographics of Trump Voters are old, white, and not well-educated. There’s even one article with some tie in with similar right wing white angst movements in place like the UK and Scandinavia where white right wingers are getting increasingly xenophobic and sounding a lot more like their authoritarian counterparts from the 1930s.  I thought I’d highlight a few of these pieces today.

Don’t think these articles and writers heap wicked judgement. Many of these reads are conciliatory and sympathetic. Like us, they are just trying to get it figured out. The pictures today are of damage done by the still threatening Hurricane Matthew when it caused death and destruction in Haiti. Tumult rules our current time line.

Project Syndicate has two interesting pieces up.  The first is by Dr. Ian Buruma and is called “Trump’s Deplorables.”

The Trump supporters are showing a similar animus against symbols of the elite, such as Wall Street bankers, “mainstream” media, and Washington insiders. But their xenophobia is directed against poor Mexican immigrants, blacks, or Middle Eastern refugees, who are perceived as freeloaders depriving honest (read white) Americans of their rightful place in the social pecking order. It is a question of relatively underprivileged people in a globalizing, increasingly multi-cultural world, resenting those who are even less privileged.

In the US today, as in the Weimar Republic, the resentful and the fearful have so little trust in prevailing political and economic institutions that they follow a leader who promises maximum disruption. By cleaning out the stables, it is hoped, greatness will return. In Hitler’s Germany, this hope existed among all classes, whether elite or plebeian. In Trump’s America, it thrives mostly among the latter.

In the US and Europe, today’s world looks less scary to more affluent and better educated voters, who benefit from open borders, cheap migrant labor, information technology, and a rich mixture of cultural influences. Likewise, immigrants and ethnic minorities who seek to improve their lot have no interest in joining a populist rebellion directed mainly against them, which is why they will vote for Clinton.

Trump must thus rely on disaffected white Americans who feel that they are being left behind. The fact that enough people feel that way to sustain such an unsuitable presidential candidate is an indictment of US society. This does have something to do with education – not because well-educated people are immune to demagogy, but because a broken education system leaves too many people at a disadvantage.

1475727537346The second must-read is by Professor Joseph Nye who puts the populist revolt into perspective and into its “place”.

In the US, polls show that Trump’s supporters are skewed toward older, less-educated white males. Young people, women, and minorities are under-represented in his coalition. More than 40% of the electorate backs Trump, but with low unemployment nationally, only a small part of that can be explained primarily by his support in economically depressed areas.

On the contrary, in America, too, there is more to the resurgence of populism than just economics. AYouGov poll commissioned by The Economist found strong racial resentment among supporters of Trump, whose use of the “birther” issue (questioning the validity of the birth certificate of Barack Obama, America’s first black president) helped put him on the path to his current campaign. And opposition to immigration, including the idea of building a wall and making Mexico pay for it, was an early plank in his nativist platform.

And yet a recent Pew survey shows growing pro-immigrant sentiment in the US, with 51% of adults saying that newcomers strengthen the country, while 41% believe they are a burden, down from 50% in mid-2010, when the effects of the Great Recession were still acutely felt. In Europe, by contrast, sudden large influxes of political and economic refugees from the Middle East and Africa have had stronger political effects, with many experts speculating that Brexit was more about migration to Britain than about bureaucracy in Brussels.

Antipathy toward elites can be caused by both economic and cultural resentments. The New York Times identified a major indicator of Trump-leaning districts: a white-majority working-class population whose livelihoods had been negatively affected throughout the decades in which the US economy shed manufacturing capacity. But even if there had been no economic globalization, cultural and demographic change would have created some degree of populism.

But it is an overstatement to say that the 2016 election highlights an isolationist trend that will end the era of globalization. Instead, policy elites who support globalization and an open economy will have to be seen to be addressing economic inequality and adjustment assistance for those disrupted by change. Policies that stimulate growth, such as infrastructure investment, will also be important.

Writers for the Canadian Newspaper The Globe and Mail believe that Trump will lose but that his coalition of voter will continue to vex U.S. “elites”.05571399

The accommodation between left and right started unravelling in the 1980s. The Bork confirmation. The Thomas confirmation. Contract with America. Impeaching Bill Clinton. Iraq. Obama. The Tea Party. Gay marriage. And now the Democrats want to replace a black president with a woman? A CLINTON?

Meanwhile, Peoria is hurting. The city is home to Caterpillar. But the heavy-equipment giant has outsourced most of its work force overseas or to so-called right-to-work states.

But what does Washington care? The left worries more about combatting global warming than about blue-collar workers with bad backs and no jobs. The right promises to retrain them, but somehow never gets around to it.

The laid-off boys in the bars of Peoria blame the illegals, the only ones even more voiceless than themselves. They seethe at the Wall Street suits who destroyed the economy and got off scot-free. And what the hell is transgender, anyway? They look at their daughter’s report card. She’s only getting Cs. What future is there for anyone who’s only getting Cs?

I will be your voice, Donald Trump promises. I will get your job back, or at least wreak revenge on the company that gave it away to a guy in Bangladesh. I will send the Mexicans back and keep the Muslims out and build a wall around our country. And you’ll have a man, a real man, a white man, your kind of guy, in the White House. We’ll be back in charge, folks, you and me. It’ll be great again. And they’ll never take it away from us.

There are probably enough people left who understand that this is a lie to keep Donald Trump from becoming president. But this is last-chance time. And not just for America, for all of us.

The rage that created Donald Trump voted for Brexit and is wreaking havoc on the continent. It’s Marine Le Pen in France and Norbert Hofer in Austria. It’s the Law and Justice party in Poland and Jobbik in Hungary and Alternative for Germany.

Don’t be smug. In politics, Canada is often the United States, only five years behind. We must heal this breach. It’s getting serious, now. The next Congress and the next U.S. administration must reach out to each other. They don’t have to get all kumbaya about it, but Americans of all persuasions can surely find ways to bring hope to Middle America, to working white America, to the old America that must never be dismissed, even if it is on the wane.

There were several articles that actually focused on individual Trump voters and the kinds of lives they lead.  We’ve posted some of them down thread but I thought I’d excerpt and repost them 172702here since we really need to read about these folk and understand that they hate  us. Sociologist ARLIE RUSSELL HOCHSCHILD wrote an incredible long form peace for Mother Jones. What struck me about the woman Sharon she followed as she lived life in Lake Charles, Lousiana is that Sharon doesn’t seem to realize she’s a parasite.  She makes living basically selling scammy insurance products to poor working class men that really can’t afford them and in a different state with better worker protections, wouldn’t even be necessary.  Yet, these folks do not seem to think about blaming the real causes of their life’s distress

“Hey Miss Sharon, how ya’ doin’?” A fiftysomething man I’ll call Albert led us through the warehouse, where sheet metal had been laid out on large tables. “Want to come over Saturday, help us make sausage?” he called over the eeeeech of an unseen electrical saw. “I’m seasoning it different this year.” The year before, Sharon had taken her 11-year-old daughter along to help stuff the spicy smoked-pork-and-rice sausage, to which Albert added ground deer meat. “I’ll bring Alyson,” Sharon said, referring to her daughter. Some days they’d have 400 pounds of deer meat and offer her some. “They’re really good to me. And I’m there for them too when they need something.”

These men had little shelter from bad news. “If you die, who’s going to bury you?” Sharon would ask on such calls. “Do you have $10,000 sitting around? Will your parents have to borrow money to bury you or your wife or girlfriend? For $1.44 a week, you get $20,000 of life insurance.”

Louisiana is the country’s third-poorest state; 1 in 5 residents live in poverty. It ranks third in the proportion of residents who go hungry each year, and dead last in overall health. A quarter of the state’s students drop out from high school or don’t graduate on time. Partly as a result, Louisiana leads the nation in its proportion of “disconnected youth“—20 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds in 2013 were neither in school nor at work. (Nationally, the figure is 14 percent.) Only 6 percent of Louisiana workers are members of labor unions, about half the rate nationwide.

Louisiana is also home to vast pollution, especially along Cancer Alley, the 85-mile strip along the lower Mississippi between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, with some 150 industrial plants where once there were sugar and cotton plantations. According to the American Cancer Society, Louisiana had the nation’s second-highest incidence of cancer for men and the fifth-highest rate of male deaths from cancer. “When I make a presentation, if I say, ‘How many of you know someone that has had cancer?’ every hand is going to go up. Just the other day I was in Lafayette doing my enrollments for the insurance, and I was talking to this one guy. And he said, ‘My brother-in-law just died. He was 29 or 30.’ He’s the third person working for his company that’s been in their early 30s that’s died of cancer in the last three years. I file tons and tons of cancer claims.”

Sharon also faced economic uncertainty. A divorced mother of two, she supported herself and two children on an ample but erratic income, all from commission on her Aflac sales. “If you’re starting out, you might get 99 ‘noes’ for every one ‘yes.’ After 16 years on the job, I get 50 percent ‘yeses.'” This put her at the top among Aflac salespeople; still, she added, “If it’s a slow month, we eat peanut butter.”

694940094001_5159318623001_100616-hn-haiti-1280There’s an interview with the author up at Democracy Now! that looks into what drive Trump supporters.  Hers is just one book trying to figure out what’s going on with this segment of America.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, after all of those interviews in that time span, you decided on the title Strangers in Their Own Land. Why?

ARLIE RUSSELL HOCHSCHILD: Yes. Well, here’s the thing. I decided on that title because, in the end, it described how a lot of them felt. I talk about a deep story, because, at the end of the day, I keep asking, “Why do you hate the government, you know, all the things the government does?” And they would say—there were many answers to that, but one was this. It was the deep story. What is a deep story? It’s a story that feels true to you. You take the facts out, you take judgment out. It’s as felt.

You’re on a—waiting in line for something you really want at the end: the American dream. You feel a sense of great deserving. You’ve worked very hard. A lot of these guys were plant workers, pipefitters in the petrochemical—you know, it’s tough work. So you’ve worked really hard. And the line isn’t moving. It’s like a pilgrimage up, up to the top. It’s not moving.

Then you see some people cut in line. Well, who were they? They are affirmative action women who would go for formerly all-men’s jobs, or affirmative action blacks who have been sponsored and now have access to formerly all-white jobs. It’s immigrants. It’s refugees. And from—as felt, the line’s moving back.

Then they see Barack Hussein Obama, who should impartially be monitoring the line, wave to the line cutters. And then you think, “Oh, he’s their president and not mine. And, in fact, he’s a line cutter. How did he get to Harvard? How did he get to Columbia? Where did he get the money? His mom was a single mom. Wait a minute.”

And then they begin to feel like strangers in their own land. They feel like the government has become a giant marginalization machine. It’s not theirs. In fact, it’s putting them back. And then someone in front of the line turns around and says, “Oh, you redneck,” you know. And that feels insult to injury. It’s just the tipping point at which they feel not only estranged—I mean, demographically they’re getting smaller. They feel like they’re religious in an increasingly secular culture. Their attitudes are denigrated, and so they’re culturally denigrated. And then the economy begins to shake. And then they feel, “I need another leader.”

TOPSHOT - A woman walks on October 5, 2016 along a coastal road between Guantanamo and Baracoa which was left covered in rocks and severely damaged after the passage of Hurricane Matthew through the eastern tip of Cuba on Tuesday afternoon. Hurricane Matthew, the Caribbean's worst storm in nearly a decade, barreled towards the Bahamas Wednesday morning after killing nine people and pummeling Haiti and Cuba. / AFP / Yamil LAGE        (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

TOPSHOT – A woman walks on October 5, 2016 along a coastal road between Guantanamo and Baracoa which was left covered in rocks and severely damaged after the passage of Hurricane Matthew through the eastern tip of Cuba on Tuesday afternoon.
Hurricane Matthew, the Caribbean’s worst storm in nearly a decade, barreled towards the Bahamas Wednesday morning after killing nine people and pummeling Haiti and Cuba. / AFP / Yamil LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

Two other articles that are worth reading, if you haven’t done so yet, are one from The Guardian which takes a more global perspective and one that’s very specific from WAPO.  The WAPO features a woman who finds that Trump thinks like her. We’ve discussed it a little here this week.  It seems like a very close look at some one grappling with mental illness which made me uncomfortable. I’m excerpting here from The Guardian piece which focuses on the link between education and Trump/Right Alt voting.

But it is not simply a question of demographics. The gap has been amplified by certain forms of social mobility, which have reinforced the education divide by enabling the better-educated to start congregating together: socially, geographically, romantically. In a previous generation, graduates often married non-graduates, because their choices tended to be driven by where they happened to live or work. As the cliché has it: bosses used to marry their secretaries. Not any more, and not just because there are fewer secretaries. If you went to university, ask yourself: how many of your friends didn’t go to university? And among your friends, how many of those who did are married to people who didn’t? Greater freedom of movement produces greater freedom of choice. But that does not produce more social diversity, it produces more social stratification.

Social media now enhances these patterns. Friendship groups of like-minded individuals reinforce each other’s worldviews. Facebook’s news feed is designed to deliver information that users are more inclined to “like”. Much of the shock that followed the Brexit result in educated circles came from the fact that few people had been exposed to arguments that did not match their preferences. Education does not provide any protection against these social media effects. It reinforces them.

The growing political divide between the educated and the less educated can be seen across Europe. It is most pronounced in Scandinavian countries, where university attendance is high and levels of education are an increasing driver of voting habits. It is less visible in southern and eastern Europe – in places such as Portugal and Poland – where participation in higher education is lower, and other social factors, including family and religion, still exert a strong grip.

I’m closing today with a great article written by Joy-Ann Reid who dissects Donald’s focused hatred towards women.  She argues that Trump hates women more than any other group he debases.

Even without the euphoria of “yes we can,” Hillary Clinton is to white women what Barack Obama was to African-Americans. She represents the opportunity to see a like image in the Oval Office for the first time. That has to be tempting even for Republican women who would never support a Democrat, let alone a Clinton, and Trump’s demeanor and debate performance is  making it easier for white independent and even Republican women to cross over.

And Trump is uniquely vulnerable because his record of insulting and demeaning women is as long as his love of Putin’s Russia is deep. According to the documentary Trump: What’s the Deal, he verbally harassed first wife Ivana, before dumping her for Marla Maples, whom he resisted marrying in a most public and embarrassing way, only to dump her and marry Melania before reportedly berating her for not losing her baby weight fast enough after giving birth to their now-10-year-old son Baron. The most effective Clinton ads this season have been the ones showing women and girls listening to Trump’s cruel words in his own voice.

Trump is at further risk due to his almost limbic inability to control himself when attacked, particularly by a woman. Consider that there’s no one who gets under his thin skin the way Elizabeth Warren does. She and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd have shared the sobriquet “goofy” as stars of Trump’s infamous Twitter tirades—though Warren has the smear “Pocahontas” all to herself.

During the campaign, Trump has gone after white women, Latinas (Machado and Susana Martinez, the governor of Mexico), Asian-American and Muslim women (Gold Star Mother Ghazala Khan). His Fox News chest thumping at a black Flint, Michigan pastor, Faith Green Timmons, came a day after he sheepishly backed down when she stopped him from politicking in her pulpit. Interestingly, he has yet to have a go at Michelle Obama, who just cut a national ad for Hillary Clinton. One can only imagine how that might go.

We frequently discuss how being around the TV when Pence or Trump or any one of his supporters is speaking out is a lot like reliving the trauma of an abusive relationship.  They give me PTSD flashbacks from every emotionally abusive person I’ve ever met. They are angry, hostile, and use the language of attack.  We are their enemy. They label us hateful names. We women. We African Americans.  We of Mexican and Latin descent.  We who practice something other than the right brand of Christianity. Yet, it is they who feel under attack and not given their due.  As the Canadian writers said, these folk have such palpable emotional turmoil that they are not likely going away with the Trump candidacy.  They are also firmly seated in the Republican Party Grassroots.

I like that we’re beginning to understand and see more of these folks even though I frankly approach each article with wide open eyes and a dropping mouth.  We don’t exist in the same narrow space. We exist at odds and at an arm’s length.  We talk past and at each other.  We don’t get each other’s lives or choices at all.

Something here has to change.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?