Category Archives: American Politics

A Letter to my Grandchildren: The responsibility of democracy

October 5, 2016

Dear Grandsons and Granddaughter,

By the time you read this, history will have been made and my part in it will be just a tiny pebble in a huge river of politics.  One of the greatest things about our democracy is that it allows each of us to believe we make a difference.  I love that about our country.

But like so many memorable times in our history, it seems this time our presidential election has the power to shift the direction of our country, and the weight of it feels more like a burden than a gift.

I could itemize all the costs and benefits of each candidate.  I’ve certainly considered it.  But a politician’s character, experiences, and policy platforms often fade when compared to a system that: rewards the attainment of wealth at the expense of another person’s well-being, dismisses serial marriages and infidelity by saying “everyone” does it, and uses their religious beliefs to judge, punish and minimize the freedoms of others.

I will be voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton because I believe that she represents the safest course for our family.  I will trust her to negotiate our foreign policy based on her sound judgments and comportment as Secretary of State.  I will trust her to advocate for an affordable option for attending college.  I will trust her to negotiate and amend a health care policy that still leaves people financially ruined or without coverage.  I will trust her with leveraging her power to mediate Wall Street and Main Street.  I will trust her to protect the rights of women, Latinos, Black Americans and the LGBTQ community. I will trust her to help us with mental health parity and reasonable gun legislation that is reflective of our constitutional right to bare arms. I believe she is our best shot at an America we can be proud of.

I did not come to this decision easily.  The decision was not informed by television, political pundits, memes or well-meaning family and friends.  I studied Mrs. Clinton’s life and career through written works for and against her.  This is the responsibility of democracy.  This is my responsibility to you, my grandchildren.

With all my love & hope for a bright future,

Grandma

157-hrc-books

An Partial Reading List:

Hard Choices, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2014

The Case Against Hillary Clinton, Peggy Noonan, 2000

Americans’ Views of women as political leaders differ by gender, Pew Research Center, May, 2016

Ways of Looking at Hillary, Reflections by Women Writers, edited by Susan Morrison, 2008

It Takes a Village, Hillary Rodham Clinton, 1996

Any aggregated article containing the name Hillary or Hillary Clinton, The Drudge Report, September 2016

10 Most Powerful Women in the World, Tech Story, Jan. 4, 2015

Hillary Clinton’s Worst Week in Washington, the Washington Post, by Chris Cillizza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“As American as Apple Pie” unless You’re a woman

Thousands and thousands of letters scribbled across college-lined paper in an attempt to find out the truth about Hillary.  For and against, hate-filled and complimentary, everyone seems to be scared shit-less about a woman who will or will not become President.  Me? I’m just drowning in information: books, on-line articles, insights, comments, television talking heads.  Before you call me a “fucking liberal”, (I’m actually becoming more & more desensitized to it), you should know that I haven’t decided to vote for her yet.  The white-collar Republican thug presented this election won’t be getting my vote.  He’s a creep.  Wouldn’t want to explain that one to my children & grandchildren.

But let’s talk about Hillary Rodham Clinton.  God, even I’m sick of her.  But is it “her” or is it the social media’s relentless degradation of the only woman to ever ascend the last hold-out of the male bastion of dominance.  (44-0 male presidential terms of office.)

I am not here to give her a “Pass” on anything (all the accusations included: lying, cheating, pay for play, murder) or to encourage you to vote for her. If the GOP hadn’t been held hostage,  if they had given me ANY alternative, I would have seriously considered their candidate.  But they didn’t so I am taking a closer look at HRC and the accusations being leveled at her.

 1.  LYING 

Donald Trump is denying his “Birther” history.  Hello!  We’ve heard this accusation for 5 years, at least.  There are videos, interviews, etc. of him that substantiate his conspiracy theory.  So he’s a liar.  No surprise there.

Chris Christie denied he knew anything about the bridge closures.  (And today there is an article in the NY Times stating that he did in fact know.  So he’s a liar.  No surprise there.Feds Say Christie Knew    

President John F. Kennedy lied about the invasion of the Bay of Pigs.  He lived a lying life with his many extra-marital affairs.  So he was a liar too.Lying Presidents

Lying is a political currency.  Should we give any politicians a PASS?  NO! but if we are going to castigate a woman, this time Hillary Clinton, then we better damn well hold powerful men accountable too.  Donald Trump supports Christie’s denial of knowledge about Bridgegate.

2.  QUID PRO QUO (Pay for Play)

From what I can learn, the underlying problem in politics, not just the Clinton Candidacy, but ALL active and aspiring politicians,  is that it is a campaign financing issue.   All political aspirations require big amounts of money.  So for example, the Koch Brothers;  are two billionaire brothers who want to use their money to propel and accelerate their ideals and belief systems.  This is as American as apple pie  and they have the money, so what’s the problem?  Simply put, unequal access to policy making and “makers” because of their monetary support.  It’s a simple equation:

politicians need $$ + billionaires have $$ to give = campaign financing  $$

  When you receive all this cash though do you listen differently?  act differently?  add meetings to your calendar?  The Koch Brothers  are very secretive by all accounts and disperse their actions from the Americans for Prosperity network.  So it’s not easy to track down.  This election cycle they have offered $900 million for endorsement of GOP Candidates.  That must be pretty tempting.  But do they get  “enhanced” access?  That’s as difficult to discern as say, did people who asked for meetings with Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, get penciled in?  But these were foreigners she was dealing with, heads of state, you say.  Do you think for one minute that billionaires aren’t dealing with and advocating for foreign heads of state?  Trump’s Foreign Business Ties a Threat to US Security       The Koch Brothers, Israel and Foreign Affairs

3.  TRUST

We’ve all lost trust in our candidates haven’t we?  I think Bernie was so appealing because he was a plan talker and had so little history in the public eye.  But even he was a “player” on some level.  I was very surprised to find out he was Jewish.  Not that I minded, but why didn’t he ever talk about it?

Everywhere I look there is an issue of “trust”.  For me, my political mistrust started when I found out John F. Kennedy, my families hero,  was a philanderer.  Certainly not unusual (especially for that time period)  but we expect something different from our president.  And remember the conspiracy theory that he had something to do with Marilyn Monroe’s “suicide”?  And then there was the Vietnam War.  And then Nixon, and Regan, Clinton & George W.  All of them liars, some of them employing a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” quid pro quo.   And all of them in the end disappointing most of us and weakening the fabric of the idea of a democratic government and our fantasy of politicians who would be perfect.

It takes every bit of self discipline I have not to be disrespectful to anyone whose lack of good judgement contributes to the instability in our country, Hillary Clinton included.

Each and every one of us has baggage.  Accusations  about lying, cheating, and even murdering have been documented and investigated with special committees, inquiries and juries paid for by the American People to find Hillary guilty.   Absolutely little to no judicial consequences or outcomes have been delivered.

I am NOT endorsing an acceptance of her behavior or a withdrawal from critical evaluation. However, at some point each of us must ask ourselves, how much the targeted attacks on Hillary are warranted and how much of her behavior and actions are criticized because  1.) we have no clear idea of how we think an ambitious, determined, powerful woman should behave and  2.)  our political system clearly favors men.

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The Bitch is Back: Hillary & Misogyny

I am NOT a “vagina voter”.  I wouldn’t vote for say, Sarah Palin, vagina or not.  The people I vote for are evaluated and judged by me as though they were applying for the job of President of the United States. I  consider their job experience, their character, and their temperament.  I don’t have to necessarily “like” a candidate because  I’m pretty sure we won’t be hanging out.  As I’ve researched HRC and her relationship to misogyny I have been appalled, surprised, disgusted and entertained by the verbal barrage of insults and commentary about her person.  If she is nothing else, she is a woman who is thick-skinned.

If we want to just consider the words that Mrs. Clinton has endured, there are plenty of examples,  “…angry bull dyke womyn president“, (Robert Morrow F.B. 12/11/12), “that buck-toothed witch, Satan“, Don Imus, “the Antichrist” Glenn Beck  “the woman with the testicle lock box” Rush Limbaugh, and “Pond scum, White Trash“, Ann Colter (quoted from the book, “Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary, Reflections by Women Writers“).  She’s definitely been called a “bitch” more than once.  It is the one thing she and I share.  Among other choices, I’ve  been called a bitch.  I’ve also been called a “nympho” – an interesting word that is defined as an “uncontrollable or excessive sexual desire in a woman”.  Men are expected to have uncontrollable or excessive sexual desires.  This is the language of sexism.

If you’re looking for specifics about misogyny in politics, and what a female leader has to endure, the Guardian does a nice job of laying out the details. Hillary and other women leaders around the globe are considered.   The Top 10 Sexist Moments in Politics

Questioning the status quo is not making excuses for Mrs. Clinton.  It is an act of curiosity, reflection and thought. Why do we hate her? dislike her?  Is she held to a different standard than her male opponents?  (I guarantee you that you don’t have to do much research to find out that she is.)   Does she behave in a way that is unfamiliar to what we understand a woman should be? and does that behavior make us uncomfortable?  In the end we still might not vote for her but it will be for reasons that would disqualify any candidate to represent us and not because she is a woman.

The escalation of a woman to power, particularly in a male domain, charts a parallel course of increased misogyny and sexism.  And if a girl is lucky, her family will have prepared her. Simone Biles wasn’t just prepared to win or lose.  She was prepared for the predictable sexist questions by the media.  Simone Biles replies to sexist comments  Every woman accepts it as the ancillary cost to achievement.  We cope and endure and sometimes we have fun with it.   Bitch is the New Black

 

This Ain’t No Football Game

I took my books by and about Hillary Clinton and thought I might find some moments for study while vacationing in Lake Tahoe, California with our family. But my children and grandchildren were too irresistible and I chose spending time with them instead.  They are amazing people and how I vote is heavily weighted in their favor.

The constellation of our family is brilliantly unique and we are the richer for it.  Some of us are white, some of us are black, some of us are Mexican, some of us are Japanese and all of us are awesome.  We’re married, single, divorced and living together.  We are represented by many belief systems including Christianity and Atheism.  Our ages range from 6 months to 67 yrs old.  We are heterosexual, bisexual, transsexual, lesbian and chaste.  Some of us love baseball, some of us love Salsa Dancing & Zumba, some of us love M.M.A. and all of us love bocce ball.  And this weekend we ate spaghetti one night and hamburgers the next.  We are blue-collar and white-collar workers and my husband and I are retired.  The adults all find truth in both the Democrat and Republican Platforms and some of us voted for Bernie Sanders in the Primary. We respect our President and love our country.

I told them about my blogs about “finding” out about the real Hillary,  (Finding Hillary  ) and one of my children was interested.  This small level of interest made me realize that many Americans are reluctant to research or take in any new information and some just don’t think they have the time.   It’s also easier to go with the pundits on T.V., hate radio and the brief written word that corresponds to what they already “know”.   Pick a team and go with it, kinda like a football game, except it’s not.  And this “game” has lasting effects for the people we love.

There were four young boys at this gathering and watching them I couldn’t help but wonder which one might decide to join the service and perhaps see combat. Several of our family members have served.   I’ve already lost one grandson to gun violence so if the gun laws don’t change will I lose another?  And the baby girl sitting on our laps and crying to be breast-fed and cuddled, will she be assaulted and her perpetrator given a sentence typical of a first offense DUI?  Brock Turner Freed in Sexual Assault Case.  And what if crisis takes away a mother or father, will it be a campaign season where helping the needy doesn’t sell? It makes me shudder.

The love I have for my family and the challenge of the breadth of our diversity has given me a lot to consider. I’ll pick up my pen and consolidate my note taking in my search to find the truth about Hillary.  It’s a lot of time and dedication, but my family is worth it. And my vote is precious to me.  I won’t surrender it for anyone.

 

Diplomacy, Democracy and an American Cry of Deception

Hillary Clinton was adept in the role of Secretary of State.

Before I go on and lose many of you who want to remind me about Bengazi,  I want you to know that I know;  Bengazi was horrifying.  We lost 4 American lives.  These people were doing what most of us would never do.  They took on a mission to improve our relationships in an often times hostile land for our government.  They died during that mission.  Her hollow commentary about the lives lost, left me cold.

“I often think about the families who lost loved ones serving our country… The truest way to honor them is to improve our ability to protect those who carry on their work and prevent future losses.”  H.C. (from her book Hard Choices)

It’s that lack of empathy that turns us away.  That “moving on” attitude without regard for our feelings that makes us want to scream.  But I do not believe she is guilty of culpable negligence for this loss.  She’s a part of the scheme, that web of responsibility, decision-making, and denial that we call American Government.  And the really sad thing in the Bengazi Tragedy, is that no one person is ultimately at fault.  There is NO one to hang or execute.  We must grieve without the benefit of vengeance.

When I state that she was “adept” in her role, I want you to know that I’m not just listening to smarmy television pundits or hate radio, I’m actually studying books, papers, and other materials both for and against her.  I approached it like a her job interview for her next job, President of the United States.  (Job description for the  U. S. Secretary of State).  I even pushed myself to include readings from the Drudge Report. (an aggregated news source)  The following is a sample of the distillation from my study of Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, 2009 – 2013.  It supports my opinion that as the executive in charge of US Diplomacy and an advisor to the President, she did a good job.

  • Instituted a concept of “Smart Power”, a combination of diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal and cultural “tools” to maintain US national and international power.
  • Worked well with her peers including:  Robert Gates, Leon Pannetta and David Petraeus
  • Reportedly initiated the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.  This comprehensive strategy for U.S. Diplomacy focuses on advancing America’s interests in global security, inclusive economic growth, climate change, accountable governance and freedom for all.QDDR. 
  • Improved the workings of the department, also referred to as “Foggy Bottom” including: Increasing the annual budget by 7%, (it was admittedly underfunded by both sides of the aisle) and  improving social media networking with Facebook and Twitter account increases
  • Initiated the Clinton Global Initiative to fight world hunger and create food security.  Clinton Global Initiative
  • Re-calibrated her relationship with her President, a campaign rival.
  • Initiated the T.P.P. as a means to balance China’s power and improve relationships and trading in a strategic international waters conflict. Trans Pacific Partnership
  • Participated in the decision-making to dismantle Al Qaeda by  killing the leader, Osama bin Laden. (Operation Neptune Spear)
  • Moved the issues of civilian power, women’s rights and the violence perpetrated against women to the forefront of global conversation.

Her participation and performance during these years is comprehensively documented.  I believe her speech in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, articulates one of the necessary tenets  for representing the United States in international negotiations.

“…democracy actually fosters stability.  It is true that clamping down on political expression and maintaining a tight grip on what people read or say or see can create the illusion of security, but illusions  fade, while people’s yearning for liberty does not.  By contrast, democracy provides critical safety valves for societies.  It allows people to select their leaders, gives those leaders legitimacy  to make difficult and necessary decisions for the national good, and lets minorities express their views.”  

She believes in these ideals.  She works towards them.  She adapts to extreme political landscapes and adjusts to them with tolerance.  She accepts modest gains but doesn’t give up on visionary goals.  Her experience as the Secretary of State could only benefit our country if she were to become President.

But often she is working from the shadows of her own mistakes and missteps.  And I continue to consider deception and it’s role in the works of the Clinton Family.  The journey to “find” Hillary continues.  Finding Hillary