Category Archives: Politics

outrage is lacking

Where’s the outrage?

As of right now — 2:38 pm on May 26, 2020, about 99,162 Americans have been killed by Covid-19. This should make people outraged but it isn’t. That is nearly 100,000 people killed in approximately three months. For perspective, that is more than 33 9/11s or 25,000 Benghazi attacks. President Donald Trumps’ inability to face reality or care about anyone has meant tens of thousands of people died who didn’t have to. Think that is hyperbole? Columbia University looked into this and found that 36,000 people would still be alive if we stated social distancing a mere seven days earlier. Yet, the response has been muted. I live in New York, the epicenter of the pandemic and a state Trump no longer cares for. Wherever I look, I see how damaging this pandemic has been.

If you were angry about Benghazi, why are you complacent now?

Between September 11 and 12, 2012, militants in Libya attacked two American compounds and killed four U.S. officials and contractors. At first the attacks were blamed on a protest but then that was changed to premeditated attacks by a militant group in the country. For people on the right, “Benghazi” turned into a dog whistle for people who hate Hillary Clinton. It remains such today. T-shirts, bumper sticker, and more were made with the claim, “Hillary lied, people died.”

A flurry of investigations followed. None unearthed any evidence of wrongdoing. The Republican-led Congress put together six investigations. They went so far as to convene the United States House Select Committee on Benghazi, which was chaired by then-Congressman Trey Goudy (R-SC) and would go on to clear the,-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. After two years of investigating these events, he told FOX News that nothing could have saved these four people. When asked if the U.S. military could have been deployed to arrive in time to make a difference, he said, “Whether or not they could have gotten there in time, I don’t think there is any issue with respect to that — they couldn’t.”

Where are the “Trump lied, people died” signs?

Since it struck China in December 2019, President Trump has made a number of misleading statements (aka lies in any other reality). CBS News has a great timeline of what Trump has made up, when he lied, and what the actual situation was. Their list goes through April but the lies have continued through today.

To recap, Trump denied the virus was a problem or threat to the country for months. When it was too real to deny, he switched to “I always said this was a pandemic.” When people started looking into how his administration responded to the crisis, he switched to talking up the job he has done and fell back on his normal pattern of blaming and bashing everyone who disagrees with him or anyone he thinks is vulnerable. I can’t think of anyone who thinks Columbia University is not a venerable institution but after they reported on Trump’s ineptitude, he called them “discredited.” (Don’t take my word, you can Google this and find it yourself.)

Despite all of this, there are no calls for hearings or investigations. The Republican Party is so fully up Trump’s ass, they no longer can see the harm this dangerous man is doing to the nation.

This revolution will be televised and Tweeted.

Maybe the most disheartening part of the Trump response has been the way he, his party and his news network (FOX News if you have not been paying attention) have turned this into the ultimate culture war. When Trump was busy denying the impending crisis, so were the anchors on his favorite network. More than one survey came out showing that people who relied on FOX News were less concerned (if they cared at all) about Covid-19 than people who relied on other sources for their news. The NY Times wrote this about the pro-Trump media response. In it, they note:

Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing commentators turned a pandemic into a battle of us vs. them — the kind of battle President Trump has waged for much of his life.

The NY Times

I have talked to people at FOX News who dispute the reports about its viewers by saying no one outside of the network have access to data about them. That may be true but anecdotal evidence I have collected supports the general thesis that people who support Trump and pay attention to right-wing “news” are less likely to care as much about the pandemic.

More than just convince FOX News viewers and their ilk not to worry, the Trump message to get back to work and not wear a mask has also found support in the anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theory communities around the country. And the worst part? Conspiracy theorists are winning the communications game. New polling suggests that 40 percent of Republicans and 20 percent of Democrats think Bill Gates is going to use any vaccine against Covid-19 to implant microchips into people to track their movements. (Side note: those smartphones we all love already do that. Where’s the outrage about that?) Groups that support opening the nation back up talk about “government oppression” (wearing masks violates some right they think they have) and an “upcoming rebellion.” Again, this is anecdotal but people I know say a revolution is going to start if states do not open up and stop asking people to wear masks.

For these people, who think the government is always up to no good (yet many support Trump, head of the government, go figure), vaccines are inherently shady and bad for you, and that Bill Gates works for Satan (I KNEW CLIPPY WAS EVIL), any efforts to slow the spread or flatten the curve of the pandemic really want to control the American people. Note: Many of these Trump supporters and rebels also do not see any racism in U.S. police departments (again, go figure). They feel all of the outrage but not at Trump. It’s the corrupt/evil/larger-than-life system!

But where’s the anger about the death toll?

Way back in 1996, Bob Dole (presidential candidate and U.S. Senator from Kansas) had a meltdown of sorts. At a rally in Texas, he listed off all of the problems he attributed to Bill Clinton’s unscrupulous behavior and questionable moral character (his opinion, not mine) and asked, “Where is the outrage?” I pose that same question today.

People I know and respect who were outraged about the attacks in Benghazi, Libya say their anger is not at the number of people who died but the coverup that followed. To that argument, I call bullshit. The GOP has become of the party of gaslighting. In claiming to look into a coverup for political purposes, they launched investigation after investigation to hurt Hillary Clinton. Gowdy called his hearings “a failure” but Kevin McCarthy admitted they hurt Hillary and that was the reason they were hell-bent on investigating. He told FOX News:

“Everybody though Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.”

FOX News

PS, Congress spent more money investigating Benghazi than they did looking into 9/11. Apparently, national security only matters when you can prove nefariousness on the part of Democrats.

Trump is incompetent and needs to go.

No one can say for sure if the nation should open up. Will more people get and die from Covid-19? Will there be a second wave in the fall? Other waves after? Will the outrage come then? (The 1918 flu had between four and five waves, the second was worse than the first.) One thing we do know is Donald Trump’s incompetence killed Americans. If 100,000 people dead in under three months is not enough to convince you he needs to go, what will?

PS. People have asked me “were you worried about pandemics before this?” Yes, yes I was. In fact I wrote this in 2013. And, while at least three people died in February from the coronavirus, people didn’t really start dying until March so that is why I say it is nearly 100,000 over three months and not four is because that is more accurate.

Me and the #MeToo movement

I would like to think that my opinion about the #MeToo movement is barely solely on the fact that I don’t think anyone should be assaulted or abused. I would like to think that my experience with the matter has nothing to do with how I feel. That would be dishonest.

This is a post that I have been trying to write for the longest time. I have had the hardest time organizing my thoughts. This may not be the most succinct way to do this but I am going to give my experiences and then what I think. This is not to engender sympathy. The time is long past for that.

I am one of the four and more

My mother and I took a trip through Mexico by train after I graduated high school. I was sleeping and woke up because I felt something hot on the inside of my thigh. High up. The man next to me had his hand under my skirt and almost to my panties. I whipped my leg away and gave him a look that said, “Back the fuck off.” This was the first time that the real estate that is my body needed to be guarded.

When I was in college, the stat was that one in four female undergrads would be raped at some point. It happened to me when I was 18. It was a friend of a friend. When I cried, the guys (there were two) said they were “sorry.” “We didn’t mean to make you cry.” When I talked to the police, they told me not to report this because “it will only ruin your life.”

When I entered the workforce, I asked a man I worked with (well, he was a staffer and I was an intern but in a different department) for advice about finding a job. We met after work. He was married, I assumed this was just to talk about job stuff. I was wrong. He hit on me and I rebuffed him. We never talked again. Yeah, I was young and naive.

At one job, I looked over at my boss in the cube next to mine and he was looking at porn. Not only that but he had downloaded a trove of it to the network. He and his boss would walk through with their male friends and point out which women they wanted to screw. I complained. Later that year, I left the company for totally other reasons.

These are a few of my experiences. Not all, by any means. Not all the times I have been looked over, talked to as if my being female made me less likely to understand things (at a meeting about increased security at my college campus, one university staffer asked how a woman could be helpful with such matters), or just subjected to unwanted touching. Whether or not it came from a sexual place, unwanted is unwanted.

The right to be believed is not absolute

This is obvious and everywhere. In my life, I have been raped, mugged, beaten, and almost killed. In each instance, I was told either to keep it to myself. I reported the last time I was beaten by my dad and the cops had the same attitude as when I was raped. When I was mugged, I had to practically beg the cop to take my report. This experience has led to me to believe people when they say they have been assaulted.

This could be the most random analogy I have ever made. In Heller vs DC, Justice Antonin Scalia found that while he supported Mr. Heller’s right to bears arms per the second amendment but, “The right protected by the Second Amendment is not absolute.”

People lie. People make mistakes. I have read that eyewitness testimony is often incredibly unreliable because memory is subjective and not set in stone. People deserve to be heard but when making allegations against someone about serious things like crimes committed, they need more than their word. There are few acts that I detest more than lying about being a victim of any crime. It makes it that much harder for real victims to be heard.

Last year, two acquaintances of mine had consensual sex. The problem was that she had a boyfriend who found out. To not ruin that relationship, she claimed she had been raped. It all worked out and she recanted but the damage to the man could have been substantial. I am grateful that the #MeToo movement happened but that does not give women carte balance to say whatever they want.

Nuance has left the building

This is all too true today. We have no taste for subtlety. That is unfortunate because when we treat all crimes as the same, we lose the ability to provide justice to anyone. When it comes to sexual assault, there seems to be no difference between a bad joke (Al Franken) and rape (Justice Brett Kavanaugh, I know it was an alleged rape, I will get to that). We also seem to have no appetite for forgiveness.

After I was raped, I helped start a women’s center on campus and we had support groups for survivors. One guy friend I had told me that rape was worse than murder. No, it’s not, I am not dead and that is a good thing. Each experience I had was very different and deserved a different response. I don’t think the guys who raped me deserved the same punishment as the guy who put his hand up my skirt. Looking at porn is not the same as expecting sex for help with a job search.

Moreover, if we are to really make progress with the #MeToo movement, we need to have some forgiveness. If the only response to an admission of wrongdoing is expulsion from society, no one is going to come forward. Redemption has to be on the table.

What about…?

If it hasn’t been clear, the #MeToo movement needs more nuance, open minds (on all sides) and a healthy dose of forgiveness.

Senator Al Franken (D-MN) should have had the ethics inquiry he wanted and not been forced to resign. That bad joke photo was not proof of a predator, just a bad impulse by a comedian.

Brett Kavanaugh should not have been put on the Supreme Court because he lacks the right temperament. I don’t know what happened way back in the day but I also believe that acts done at that age should not preclude adult advancement at work. There is a reason rental car companies have different prices for people under 25. I don’t think the guys who raped me so long ago are the same men today. I hope not.

Tara Reade deserves to be heard. I think whatever documents are out there should be thoroughly searched. Mr. Biden should comply with any inquiries. I think he is doing that. Everything I have read about this case and everything I know of the former VP makes me believe him. When I cast my vote for him, it will not be just a vote against President Trump but a vote FOR Joe Biden.

Hate and anger can’t defeat hate and anger

For too long, women have been treated as property. We have been abused and when we talked about it, we were called liars. Rape was a “he said, she said” kind of thing. We were told to watch what we wore and that “boys will be boys.”

As pendulums are apt to do, the #MeToo pendulum has swung a bit too far. When I see the president, who has bragged about committing sexual assault, watching underage girls get dressed and treat women like objects with no consequences, I am angry and sad. Then I see men who do really bad things, ask for forgiveness and not get it, I think we are sending the wrong message here. Repent and be cast out. Double down on your actions and be rewarded. What is wrong with that picture?

I worry about the president’s words because people take them seriously and they act on them. Mark Halperin is a journalist who admitted to sexual wrongdoing when he was at ABC News. This was a long time ago but he was cast off of TV because of it. He has since apologized and done all the things we hope someone in his position would do. It’s time to bring him back. If he is an example, it needs to be of what not to do when someone admits to wrongdoing.

At the end of the day, every time anyone says they have been assaulted or harassed, they deserve to have their allegations looked into and proven or disproven. We need to stop equating small crimes with larger ones. We need to remember, while there are similarities, all cases are unique and should be treated that way. I know this isn’t a popular position now but we need more nuance.

PS. This was a bit rambly and less sourced than other things I have written. No, I do not speak for all women or all anything. These are only my thoughts on the matter.

Help us, Kentucky voters, you are our only hope

I just finished writing a post about Mitch McConnell on the Daily Kos.  In it, I implore the voters of Kentucky to vote out the current Senate Majority Leader. I hope you will check it out. The caption that you cannot read says, “I would love to do more but I want to be reelected and I have to do what President Trump wants. It is impossible to know what he wants so I do nothing.”

While we do need to get rid of McConnell, it would also help for some GOP Senators to grow a spine. If you live in a state with a GOP senator, you can call 202-224-3121 or text “resist” to 50409.

It is time to take back Congress from the Trumpers.