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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 18,906

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The Long Arc: No Quick Fixes

I think part of the reason I wept so painfully and so long, in the small hours of November 9th, 2016, was the realization that there is no "quick fix" for the mess America's worked itself into (with plenty of Russian help, certainly...)

Impeachment will not "fix" the mess, for impeachment doesn't guarantee removal from office, and the possibility of the GOP participating in an effort to remove >Redacted< from office is a fantasy at best.

Resignation will not "fix" the mess, for the replacement for >Redacted< will be as bad, if not worse, than >Redacted<'s own bumbling ignorant greed and cruelty. At least his incompetence and obvious malice leaves cracks for public servants with conscience and intelligence to work within, salvaging small bits of the commons where they can.

The election of 2018 will not "fix" the mess, for even in the doubtful event that the Democratic Party ekes out a small majority in both houses of the Legislative Branch, the Judiciary and the Executive remain hostile territory, and the divisions among Americans will continue to be exploited by Russian disinformation and cyberwarfare.

Indeed, in some way an inconclusive 'victory' in 2018 may compound the damage, as expectations we can't fulfill are raised.

The things that need to happen to fix the mess ARE underway, but they will not happen quickly, and even if/when they happen, they will not take effect very quickly. We're in for a long, slow fight back.

Even so, I have hope. I believe we ARE making progress.

The Special Counsel's office, if allowed to continue its work, gives me hope. Mueller does not appear to be working on any kind of quick fix. Rather, it looks like he is doing a slow, meticulous, and very deep dive into the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is international wealth and its manipulative oligarchs, with the purpose of unequivocally exposing how they have worked to subvert America's democracy.

We need that information. We need it public, we need it bolstered by incontrovertible (by all but MAGAts, of course) evidence. We need it exposed slowly, deliberately, with time to sink in and be reinforced by each new revelation.

We need state houses and state legislatures. We need the next redistricting to be focused on undoing decades of gerrymandering, among other state roles. We need women to infiltrate elected government at all levels, we need the demand for campaign finance reform to become an unstoppable grassroots revolution. We need enough states well-governed, financially resilient, compassionate and supportive of real change to influence a Constitutional convention, should that become the Oligarchy's next attempt at subversion.

We need, in some ways, for things to, yes, GET WORSE before they get better. And to do so while the GOP is undeniably "in charge".

We need time for the Democratic Party to come to terms with the level of internal trollery and disruption, overcome the attempts to divide us from within and articulate a compelling shared vision. We need to identify mature, compassionate, experienced leaders who can look beyond demagoguery and incitement to rage-voting and tit-for-tat who-can-you-piss-off petty triumphs.

We need every day between now and 2020, and maybe even between now and 2024.

Yes, the clock is ticking.

Yes, the climate is changing.

Yes, people are dying.

And we have to do what we can, as much as we can, each and every one of us, to go against those tides. We need to march in the streets, we need to give what we can to support the work, we need to volunteer and share information, and above all we need to VOTE. In every election, every referendum, every mill levy and bond issue and primary.

But we also need to stay aware that short-term victories will not necessarily serve the long-term ends that are the final, absolute necessity to save our democracy and our children's future.

We need to endure the vicious, nasty, constant drumbeat of mean, petty triumphs and divisive attacks from the Russian trolls and their American dupes. Endure them without hatred, and refrain from retaliations that simply serve to sustain the divisions. Let the yammering of the Breitbarts and the Murdoch shills and the Oligarch-funded propaganda slide over the surface while we put the real energy into pursuing the real, long-term goals.

This is hard. This is depressing. This is dispiriting, in a culture addicted to the magic bullet, the quick fix, the happy-ending-in-43-minute-episodes.

It's a war of attrition, but it's a war we cannot afford to lose.

So we have to be here for each other. And that's why I'm feeling especially grateful for Democratic Underground and our community, this holiday season.

May universal blessings find us, each and every one.


The Curious Reluctance of the GOP Congress to Leave A Sinking Ship...

Turn the clock back two years, to December of 2015.

How many of the GOP Senators and Representatives were on the >Redacted< bandwagon?

Oh, please... you might as well have invited them to an all-you-can-eat Fried Garbage Feed down at the landfill.

It didn't get a whole lot better as the primaries wore on, and remarks like "I like people who weren't captured" and "They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people" and "...I will have Mexico pay for that wall!" made headlines. The juvenile name-calling of rivals and showboating at the debates didn't win him a whole lotta Party pals, either.

The committed conservatives were wary of his blatant opportunism, willingness to say anything to get applause, and long history of association with New York-based democratic powerbrokers.

The moderates were appalled at the rhetorical bomb-throwing, pandering to the Teeper extremist groups, and vindictive, childish behavior on the campaign trail.

It did not improve a whole lot when he was the last one standing at the Convention, and left with the nomination in the pocket of his ill-fitting and overpriced suit.

More remarks "...blood coming out of her wherever", “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails", "If we would have taken the oil, you wouldn't have ISIS" etc., etc., etc., won him no friends and influenced virtually no Congressional support. As the campaign wound on through rivers of hypocrisy, bombast, shameful misogyny, racism, and hatemongering, a few of the Teeper gang hitched up, unsurprisingly. A long shot is better than no shot at all, and there might have been ways to spin the loss as a win for their "outsider" agenda.

And since America's Day of Shame (11/8/2016), the "relationship" between 1600 and the Hill has been... rocky, at best. >Redacted<'s determined refusal to learn how government is actually supposed to work, his Imperial approach to the Executive Branch, his chops as the ultimate Loose Nuke on Twitter, impulsive unilateral policy 180s, and apparently endless stream of easily-refuted "alternate facts", not to mention the apocalyptic personnel disaster that is the Office of the President have left GOP Congressional leaders seething with rage. They didn't sign up for the job of trailing around after their "standard bearer" with industrial-sized brooms and major firefighting equipment.

It was easy enough to see why they were reluctant to jump ship initially. They haven't had control of all three branches of government in a long, long time. It looked like the perfect opportunity to pull off a whole list of smash-and-grab raids for their donors, who doubtless have been telling them to "hang in there, dammit" until they get ALL the goodies.

But even so, the long-term prognosis is looking SO bleak, and the risk/return ratio must surely have flipped by now, as a string of special elections and ominous rumblings from once solid-red suburbs have been sifting plaster dust and dropping debris about their ears. They look up, and see the cracks widening, day by day.

So why don't they jump?

What could POSSIBLY be keeping them in line?

I'm gonna go out on a limb here, but I don't think it's too far-out a speculation.

What tipped me off was the most recent round of pearl-clutching and hyperventilation over the Mueller investigation. I suspect some of them have realized that Mueller is sitting on a LOT MORE INFORMATION about Russia, election meddling, banking transactions, trolls, shills, and ::koff:: campaign contributions that can be traced back to Russian sources, than they ever imagined. And some of them are as worried about what information about their own re-election funds might be floating around in that pool as they are about those staffers they got handsy with back in the day.

If I recall correctly, Mueller's scope of work was, more or less, to follow the trail of Russia-connected criminal chicanery wherever it leads.

What if it leads back to the Hill?

They may have no choice but to stick with >Redacted< and hope that together they can scupper the Mueller probe.

Or... turn.

It's like a big, long game of "chicken."


I remember the Internet back in the early 1990s.

Actually, even before that, in the late 1980s, when the place I worked installed a modem for me so that I could use "crawlers" to search for references from government and higher education databases accessible online. But in the early 90s, there were basically three "Online Providers" available in our area: Prodigy, CompuServ, and (a bit later) America Online.

Prodigy and CompuServ were similar in that they would, for a monthly fee, allow you to access email and other services. CompuServ offered a command line and more-or-less direct access, and Prodigy gave you a "Services" diskette that enabled a primitive content portal where you could subscribe to games, restaurant reviews and other stuff. I had direct access via work, so I subscribed to Prodigy for home/personal use, largely because back then it was a monthly flat-fee charge.

I don't remember much about it other than getting hooked into a couple of music message boards and text-based games. I found myself spending a fair amount of time on that stuff, probably 6-8 hours a week, arguing passionately about metal bands, the evolution of the blues, how to drive a permanent stake through the heart of disco, and how to add inline die-roll macros to various game elements.

Back then, IIRC, a one-month *P (as we called it) subscription was $7.95. At one point they added "premium" services that used a richer content interface and I think those were billed at an hourly rate with various access packages. So if you wanted to play 8-bit games online, or see websites with a lot of graphic content, or do certain kinds of online shopping, etc., you paid extra.

In about 1994, I think it was, I switched over to AOL, which at that time had a basic fee structure of $5.95 for a certain number of hours a month (might have been 10? not sure I remember correctly) and after that, a per-minute charge. You could also buy, for a larger monthly fee, more 'basic' hours and a slightly lower per-minute premium charge. I knew I was a heavy user so I opted for that, but even so, between then and 1996, I maxed out some credit cards and got into serious financial trouble.

So many people got into serious issues with those per-minute charges that it was a real issue. I knew people who (back then, in the 90s!) were seeing $400-500/month AOL charges on their credit cards. As soon as you could afford to, you upgraded your modem to the fastest available, so that your mail loaded faster, your chat hit the screen faster, you maximized those minutes as much as you could.

I learned to jump on, save to offline storage, jump off, read stuff, compose replies in text files, jump back on, cut and paste and send, in order to have the most time available for real-time chatting and game playing. I did all my searching at work, staying late to use their interface. Even so, personal access to the Internet got expensive. I was damn' glad when they went to the flat-fee structure in 1996. Shortly after that I discovered IRC and largely left AOL behind. A couple of years later, internal high-speed modems and local ISPs were offering browser-based access with almost everything I needed.

But I remember having to calculate every minute of use, every strategem to maximize access to the stuff I wanted while keeping costs down.

I guess it's a set of skills I'll find new uses for, now.

Thanks, Ajit Pai, you rancid pile of refuse.


Standing in the henhouse... hearing the flutter of wings...

I was just a little girl when four girls only a little older than me were blown to bits in a Birmingham Church.

It took two years to investigate that crime of hate and rage and white privilege. It took another TWELVE YEARS for the known perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Today, the families, friends, and neighbors touched by that crime turned out to acknowledge the commitment of one of those who helped bring those perpetrators to justice, by electing him to the United States Senate.

In Alabama.

Where they said it couldn't be done.

Wings flutter here, in the henhouse.

Listen closely.

They're fluttering louder... as women who've reached the point of "NO MORE" expose the powerful men who've abused and betrayed them.

I'm standing here, waiting... too focused to smile, but with hope in my heart.

I have to believe that those wings are going to become a thunder.

A thunder that will deafen the Greedy Oligarchs of Privilege.

The chickens are coming to roost.


What is "Moral Character" and How Important Is It?

Disclaimer: This is a 'thinking about it' bit of writing that reflects the current state of my opinions, and (perhaps to some extent) their evolution over time.

When I wasn't old enough to vote yet, "scandal" had two different definitions: In the case of Democrats, it usually involved some form of illicit fornication, and in the GOP, it usually involved some form of financial chicanery.

Or, as one uncle used to put it: "Democrats are horndogs and Republicans are thieves."

My, those were simpler days, weren't they?

Both sides used to use the term "moral character" to explain the sins of the Other Side, and justify why no one should vote for their sinners.

The argument from the GOP side went something like this: "If a man (it was almost always men, back then) can't be faithful to his marriage vows, you can't trust him to keep ANY of his promises. He's a sleazy hack who'll do whatever pleases him, regardless of the welfare of the citizens."

The Democratic argument was along these lines: "If a man (see above) will take bribes or route contracts to family members, he's obviously out for what he can get. He's a dishonest hack who'll always put his/his family's/his donors' pocketbook above the welfare of the citizens."

Each side also had its response to those arguments: The Dems basically saying that personal sexual pecadillos don't necessarily reflect on honesty in public service or dedication to the citizens' good, and the GOPpies essentially saying "but at least he's a good husband and regular churchgoer and doesn't that prove he's basically got moral character which of course the Democrats don't?"

And the term "moral character" gets tossed indiscriminately around with a fervor that would lead anyone to believe there's an agreed-upon definition of a measurable quality, here.

But there ain't.

Moral character is a real quality. And an important one, to many of us.

But "measurable?"

Who's measuring, with what tool?

"Agreed-upon definition?" Hahahahahahahahah!! It's to laugh.

Here's what I know about moral character:

Unlike what all too many American voters seem to think it doesn't equate to "moral purity", in part because there ain't no such thing in the human race, to date (barring various Divine-Avatars-Manifesting-As-Human claimed by religious believers).

We all love heroes and we certainly all seem to want to vote for them. But there's the problem: If a hero's image can be tarnished, it will be, and there goes her/his "moral character".

Because apparently we've left out some key elements of a workable definition of "moral character".

Like "learns from their mistakes". And "evolves as new information and experiences occur". And "humility". And "willingness to admit they're wrong, and change". Among other elements.

I'm quite annoyed with a good many Democratic elected officials right now, for obvious reasons. But I don't necessarily equate that with lack of, or loss of, moral character.

I equate it with "making mistakes" which is human.

At some point, those elected officials may evaluate the larger picture of information flooding in, the ongoing experiences happening to them, and say, "Well, I made a mistake, and I regret it. Here's what I've learned, and here's the standard I'll try to live up to in the future."

And of course, they'll promptly get primaried and/or voted out of office, not to mention roundly trashed on social media, because all too many voters are still using the "moral character = moral purity".

Even legislators I like very much don't agree with me on every issue. Yes, I have a "hard line" or two, but I don't expect everyone to share them. It's an assessment of the whole that really matters. And, yes... that includes moral character, the way I understand it.

I've voted knowingly for candidates whose moral character seemed a bit lacking to me. But I have not, and will not, vote for a candidate who exhibits no moral character at all.

I don't live in Alabama, though.


Six tips for men about "Compliments"

Our culture is based on, and shaped by, patriarchal, misogynistic institutions, traditions, and norms. They're baked into everything, so completely that even those of us most constantly and negatively affected by them aren't always aware of how pervasively they've shaped everything about human interaction.

And yes, the laws have changed, but culture takes a LONG time to catch up with laws. And culture still shapes attitudes and expectations of all kinds of human interactions.

And it's complicated. There are layers and layers of stuff. So this is a necessary caveat here: I'm gonna oversimplify a bit, and I know I'm oversimplifying. Yeah, there are exceptions, and #notallmen, #notallwomen, #notallsituations, #notallwhatever applies.

That said:

Patriarchy assigns full human status, with all its implications of agency, control, dominance, etc., to people with a Y chromosome. Men. People without that chromosome (women) are by definition 'different' from that full human status. Things like agency, control, etc. have only been assigned to women in the context of their relationship to men. Value is assigned to women in the context of their existing or potential relationship to men.

Yes, women notice dreamboat eyes and nice buns, too. Finding people attractive physiologically isn't gender-specific, all humans are affected by it. But women are acculturated to regard men as fully human, powerful, potentially dangerous, multi-faceted beings whose opinion of us and actions in regard to us carries weight and importance. ALL men. Yes, even the pimply git behind the counter at the convenience store. Maybe he's not got the same potential significance as the guy in the three-piece suit behind the fancy desk, but he's a man all the same.

And for millennia, our survival and success has depended on how well we read those cues, assigned the right levels of importance to various men, and engaged in the right kind of interactions in every situation. And that included hyper-awareness of protecting and enhancing our own value based on their assessments of us. We have always had to walk the line between 'desirable' and 'available', and calculate the costs of being sexy enough to attract (i.e., be 'valuable') without DEvaluing ourselves as too available to maintain higher status.

Which is how we KNOW that men "complimenting" us on our appearance, particularly in public contexts, and particularly where those "compliments" are based on the value of specific body parts presumed to be sexually attractive, are not actually "complimenting" us in any real sense at all. They are objectifying us, attempting to define us as more "available" to them by the nature of our "sexiness." To lower our status by reaffirming that our appearance and sexual attributes are what matter about us. To cement our status as less-human than the males making the "compliments."

So here's a simple guide to "complimenting" female human beings, guys:

1. If you're in public, in a workspace, gym, public transit vehicle, restaurant, etc., and you have no personal acquaintance with or knowledge of a woman in proximity to you or providing some kind of professional service to you, DON'T COMPLIMENT HER APPEARANCE AT ALL. Compliments on her professional competence or expertise are fine, as long as they don't reference physical characteristics ("She moves pretty fast with those trays for someone with short legs"- no, no, no. Grow the fuck UP.)

2. If you're in public, workspace, etc., with women you have personal acquaintance with, in any degree of intimacy, keep compliments on her appearance to general observations without either implicit or explicit relation to sexual attractiveness. As in "you look great," or "nice color jacket" or "new haircut looks good" etc. (An exception to this would be if you have a close relationship and have specifically discussed it with each other that this particular woman welcomes more detailed commentary on her appearance for some reason.)

3. If you're NOT in public, with a woman you have little or no personal acquaintance with, do not reference her appearance at all, in any way. It's scary. You may not intend that, you might want to "flirt" with her, but don't. Just... DON'T. Being alone with, or in a very private context with, a strange guy is one of those situations where women feel at risk no matter how nice and unthreatening the guy in question appears.

4. If you're NOT in public, with a woman you know as a close acquaintance or even a friend, see rule 2. Generic observations on appearance. And-- and this is important!-- if she says "thank you!" SHE IS NOT flirting with you or inviting you to up your game to flirtation. She's being polite. Move on. Get to know her better in other ways. Eventually you might get an explicit invitation to flirt. Or you might not. You're not entitled, either way.

5. If you're NOT in public, with a woman who's a fairly close friend, and you feel just compelled to comment on her appearance (maybe for a reason that has nothing to do with the whole 'sexy' thing- you're just really delighted by her new hairdo, or noticed that she's lost weight, or whatever) ask her whether comments about appearance bother her, first. It may seem awkward, but it'll get you points, I promise. "umm... Would it make you uncomfortable if I say something nice about how you look? I know some people don't like that even when it's positive."

6. If you're NOT in public, with a woman you're intimate with, go to town. THAT'S when she wants to hear that watching her walk across the room gives you URGES.

So there ya go, guys.

Six hot tips on the "compliments" thing.



"I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing-- as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it's on booze or women or movies."

The number of ways this statement is beyond nauseatingly misogynist, patriarchal and condescending are too numerous to count.

But let's start with the notion that "women" are pleasure baubles to be purchased, upgraded, accessorized, etcetera, with the disposable income of the feckless non-wealthy (presumably male-- although it would be amusing if he was thinking 'lesbian' here, wouldn't it..? naaaah...) schlubs who spend it all rather than investing in assets that can be passed along to their heirs tax-free, thus solidifying a hereditary oligarchy in what remains of our "democracy."

Then let's examine the assumption that the schlubs doing the spending are (again, barring the amusing but highly unlikely notion that he's acknowledging the existence/legitimacy of lesbian relationships) mostly like to spend on "booze, women, movies" BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY'RE ALL MALE.

They're, like "breadwinners" yanno. "Heads of household" which of course means guy-persons, fully human, endowed with the sacred patriarchal Y chromosome and all that bestows, and entitled to earn and spend their pittances to the benefit of the bottom lines of the consumer economy Overlords.

Not women. Hell, no. They get, maybe, "dress allowances" or something, but they don't actually make significant financial decisions, earn wages or salaries, support their families, require credit, invest in assets or any of that complicated man-stuff.

Speaking of "stuff"...

...go stuff yourself, Chuck.


They are "Evangelical Voters"

The root of the term "evangelical" is Greek, εὐαγγέλιον ('euangelion'), translating roughly to "glad announcement" or "good news." While sharing the gospels and proselytizing have been part of Christianity since the beginning, the "evangelical" movement in Protestant Christianity is fairly recent, subsequent to the spread of Methodism in the early nineteenth century CE. The term "evangelize" reached its first real prominence in the English language in about 1850, declined somewhat in prominence by the end of the century, revived a bit with the revivalist movements of the early 20th century, then declined steadily until the post-WWII era in America, when it began another meteoric rise.

In its broadest sense, "Evangelical" is simply 'sharing/announcing good news'-- with the implication that by so doing, the one sharing/announcing is doing the recipients a service, opening the door to faith, inviting them to join in belief. Gamers evangelize the latest game fad. Fashionistas evangelize the new trouser leg width. Food faddists evangelize the crusade against Demon Gluten.

In that sense, evangelism is annoying, but essentially harmless.

As it was in the early days of Evangelical Christianity.

You know who demanded a "wall of separation" between Church and State?


Because mainstream Protestant denominations- predominantly Episcopalian and Presbyterian- tended to dominate lawmaking, government regulation, etc., and the burgeoning Evangelical movements worried that the State might enact laws or regulations to force them to conform, or interfere with their liberty of conscience. They were supported by older Christian nonconformist traditions such as Quakers and Mennonites, and by America's Jewish and Catholic leadership, who'd had more than a bellyful of experience with discrimination by the powerful Anglo-American establishment.

It's hard for me to understand on any level deeper than intellectual awareness why some human beings are so strongly drawn to authoritarianism. I'm not in any sense a libertarian, certainly not an anarchist. I believe a social contract that includes norms and laws is necessary to provide incentives and disincentives that enable peaceful coexistence in diverse communities.

But the key phrase is "diverse communities." Norms and laws focused on enabling diverse groups to negotiate and enforce coexistence are very different from the kind of authoritarian norms and laws designed to eliminate diversity altogether.

People of authoritarian mindset are predisposed to accept the exegesis of those who assume and/or project authority. Combine the irrational nature of religious belief with the vulnerability to having those beliefs interpreted for them by authority that assumes a "divinely appointed" mantle.

Then tell the believers they're "oppressed" by a powerful "them" outside their elite belief group.

Thus the Evangelical Voter. Perfectly poised to support with perfervid rigidity a patriarchal authoritarian agenda defined by their leadership. To evangelize that agenda, regardless of any theological disconnect with the actual teachings of Christ or the New Testament.

And what matters to the Evangelical Voter is, first and foremost, political power and influence. Because that's what matters to their leaders.

It's more important to them to "win" politically, than to accept human imperfections and live the love for those different from themselves that Christ preached.

So of COURSE they see no problem with the condemnation of a man who beat "their" candidate, based on extramarital affairs with adult women making him "unfit to hold public office". And of COURSE they see no problem with supporting a serial adulterer who proudly boasts of sexual assault, and a man with a history of preying on vulnerable women half his age (including legally underage girls), as long as those men are "their" candidates, as anointed by the leaders.

And they think you and everyone else in America should vote exactly the same. And they'll tell you so on Facebook, and around the Thanksgiving dinner table, and in every possible public forum. Because they're evangelizing. Evangelical Voters.



"Holy crap! Where did THAT come from?"

Various forms of this question have been asked by a good many guys in my life recently. Some of them are guys whom I'm pretty sure have never skeeved on women, maybe never told anything more sexist than the odd PMS joke. Some who've done what they can, as allies, to be sure other guys in the workplace or social environment don't get away with 'locker room talk' among themselves, even.

I've heard it again and again. "Wait, what? Why now? Why so MUCH? WTF??" It reminds me of people walking along the street at the foot of a 50-story skyscraper, chatting about where to have lunch and not paying much more attention to what's around them than they have to, to avoid the idiots with their noses in their mobile phones. Lovely day, nice breeze, and then...


A couple of yards in front of them, a monstrous body hits the sidewalk, narrowly missing another pedestrian and grossing EVERYBODY out. It's hideous. It was hideous even before it connected with the pavement, a grotesque, barely-human fiend.

"Holy crap! Where did THAT come from?"

Dudes... it's the Patriarchy. You're only surprised because you haven't seen the women who've been dragging it up the stairs, all fifty stories, one flight at a time, as it's struggled and fought, lived on every time they pounded a stake into its heart, yanked it onto the next flight and plodded upward again.

Fifty fucking stories. It's been kicking and screaming, every flight, but you never heard. You didn't pay any attention to those noises coming from the stairwell.

You know nothing of the women killed, crippled, left for dead on the landings, as their sisters grimly pounded in another stake and heaved it onto the next stair upward. Sometimes losing their grip and letting the revolting thing bump-bump-bump back down to the landing below.

Every staircase, every floor, more women have arrived to join the task, because this is one effing HUGE monster, this patriarchy, this sleazy predator that regards half of the human race as domestic animals for its own consumption.

Many have died. Many. Hauling that monster up the narrow, dark, smelly stairwell is not for the faint of heart.

But we got it up there, onto the roof. A tag-team effort. Finally, finally...

WE knew.

Women have seen every moment of the fight. We've all had a hand dragging it, we've all got the scars to show for that. We know that monster.

And with a massive heave, we got it over, and let it drop.

THAT'S where it came from.

If you're shocked, it's because you haven't been paying attention.

I have no idea if that thing is dead. Probably not.

But it's seriously damaged, and I thank every one of my sisters, and the occasional brother who's joined in the effort, too.

It's been worth it.


Making it Whole: The (Bill) Clinton Problem

As ever when I'm trying to organize my thinking on a complicated issue fraught with controversy, some caveats first:

1. I was a Harkin supporter in 1991-92. I never had much liking for Bill Clinton as a national Democratic candidate.

2. I never much cared for a number of his policy initiatives and I detested his economic approaches and his attempts to pander to the Oligarchy by dismantling the safety net.

3. I had great respect for a number of his executive actions, particularly his appointments to the Federal judiciary, his empowerment of Al Gore to begin the process of assessing and revamping government process, and his work on post-Cold War security, including nuclear arms reduction and the Middle East peace process.

4. As a person, I thought he was intelligent, politically shrewd, essentially kind, and pragmatic. Also emotionally needy, arrogant, and prone to self-delusion.

5. Overall, in respect to policy and the economy, I rated his Presidency a success. In respect to political capability, I rated it a triumph. In respect to long-term impact on the Democratic Party, I rated it an unparalleled disaster.

I met the man exactly once, backstage at a campaign event on the handshake line. Even while I recognized his enormous personal charisma and likability, a tiny little alarm went off in the back of my consciousness. I won't claim prescience or omniscience and say I identified that alarm with skeevitude. I knew nothing about his adventures in the Arkansas governor's office and his misuse of the State Police to further his extramarital shenanigans, then. No, I just put it down to "this guy may have a grasp of legal and constitutional boundaries and professional ethics, but he's got some serious personal 'end-will-justify-the-means' boundary issues, too."

But that certainly didn't disqualify him from political office, it's something that can fairly be said of 90% or more of America's elected officials. Not all of whom act on it, or act on it in any way more damaging than getting a big donor into a basketball game, or maybe accepting some introductions or post-office job offers that are a bit iffy. So I voted for him.

And then the stories started surfacing. You can read a pretty good retrospective from the late, truly great Marjorie Williams, written in 1998 when the wounds were still raw.

And I was one of those women she wrote about, who was willing to give the ol' Big Dog a pass on so many rationalizations and denials, who was skeeved out by his skeeviness, but who LOVED how much the GOPpies hated him. I'd voted for him reluctantly in 1992. In 1996 in the trenches with the bombs from Gingrich, Starr et al bursting in air he became MY GUY, because the value of their hatred totally outweighed the mild nausea I was trying not to experience.

You may or may not agree with me, but my capsule assessment is thus:

1. He skeeved on women.

2. He used the power of his office to skeeve on women.

3. He used taxpayer resources to skeeve on woman.

4. He exploited the power differential, he preyed on younger women, he let the gratification of his own skeeviness take precedent over any consideration for his prey as human beings, vulnerable human beings by reason of historical cultural oppression and conditioning as well as the power differential.

5. And then he lied about it. A lot. A WHOLE lot.

6. And all of the above did deep and lasting damage, not only to the human beings directly involved, but to the public trust, the dignity of his office, the reputation of his Party, and the credibility of the party's platform relative to feminism and our pursuit of legal, social, economic, and cultural equity for women in America.

Now, let's also look at mitigation:

1. While he skeeved on younger women, he at least kept it legal, and he doesn't seem to have done any teenybopper ass-grabbing. For the most part they seemed to be above the age of consent.

2. While the legality of several of his actions with respect to the use of taxpayer resources and lying to cover his tracks is questionable (at best) in civil law (more probably culpable or even illegal), he seems to have avoided the most egregious kinds of criminal offenses.

He did all this shit twenty years or so back. He may or may not have changed in that period of time. It looks like he has, but how the hell can I tell? And why the hell should it matter?

There's no statute of limitations on skeevery, in moral and ethical terms (see Moore, Roy).

It would certainly please the same people who've spent the last three decades attempting to annihilate anything Clinton to bring it all up now, and that's a lovely argument for holding it to some kind of statute of limitations and/or relevancy in the current public discourse.

But I don't think we can legitimately do that. It IS relevant, and there is no statute of limitations.

So what DO we do with this smelly mess we've been effectively ignoring for twenty years?

I go back to the legal term, "making it whole." That is the goal of the legal process in a situation where guilt has been determined, referring not just to punishing the guilty party, but redressing the losses and suffering of those harmed by the actions of the perpetrator.

And here, I believe, is where we can draw a line.

Because what the rabid Clinton-haters want more than anything is crushing, humiliating devastating, Final Solution PUNISHMENT of Clinton, not for skeeving on women, but for the awful crime of winning an election from an incumbent GOP office holder, then being very successful at the job, and getting re-elected in spite of everything they could do to stop him. That's the rat in their throats and NO punishment can ever be sufficient for those crimes.

But focusing on a "make this whole" agenda solely related to Clinton's skeevery is a positive and measured response that focuses on the actual damage, and opens a window for positive progress: How should such cases be handled?

I'm not entirely sure what it would look like, but I suspect it would have at least three parts:

One would address the actual civil damages, reimbursing the State of Arkansas for the cost of state trooper resources, etc. in a cash settlement, ditto for any expenses that could be linked to taxpayer funding during his Presidential administration.

Two would address the damages to the women involved, and would probably involve arbitration to work out acceptable "make whole" settlements. This may involve apologies and public statements, repudiation of past lies, potential additional liability to prosecution which might be waived in respect to those individuals if they feel so inclined. If not, they may proceed to litigation and negotiate cash settlements as well.

Three would address the damages to the public trust, the Democratic Party, etc. I believe a lot of this has already been accomplished, with respect to Clinton's own actions as Chief Executive (read the Williams article for details on the many accomplishments of his Administration to advance women's rights, equality in the workplace, etc.) But public discussion thereof among leadership might go a long way to both pointing out the irreversable nature of some damage as well as the tangible possibilities of restitution in public policy.

Yanno what?

I still actually LIKE the guy, for all his skeeviness. He's a damaged human, as are we all, and on the whole I think his positives do outweigh the negatives, especially in the past couple of decades. But pretending the negatives aren't there, and that they didn't do enormous and lasting damage, doesn't help much right now.

We are poised on a cusp, foot raised to take a solid step away from the patriarchal culture of oppression, if we don't trip over our own feet in our eagerness to portray everything in us vs. them, all-good vs. all-evil over-simplification.

This shouldn't be allowed to distract from the very real and very current issues. But it is part of the larger pattern and it's a Teachable Moment, so to speak. It can harm us or help us. Either way it won't be pleasant. But we have a choice.


::reads this over... corrects a coupla typos... dons asbestos undergarments... hits "Post my thread!"::
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