Saturday, March 17, 2018

The "president" is a middle school Mean Girl

You called down the thunder.
Well, now you've got it!

~~ Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp in "Tombstone"

The current occupant of the Oval Office is gloating about the firing of Andrew McCabe, the FBI Deputy Director who was going to retire tomorrow, a guy who spent over twenty years serving his country with the FBI. This puts McCabe's pension in jeopardy.

I cannot begin to convey how much this infuriates and sickens me. The "president" has been bitching about McCabe for months, flat-out saying that he's partisan and part of some stupid deep state conspiracy to take him down. This is such a petty and vindictive action that it boggles my mind. 

Listen, I haven't seen the internal FBI report that recommended that McCabe be fired, so I don't know the whole story. But the timing of this absolutely smacks of attempting to silence a member of the intelligence community. Under normal circumstances, I don't doubt for a second that the FBI and DOJ would have said, "Hey, the guy is retiring, let's just let him retire and then issue a report saying that disciplinary action would have been taken if he had stayed on." 

But no. The "president" decided that McCabe had to go and pressured the spineless Attorney General Sessions to do the dirty deed. Sessions decided to toady up and try to save his own hide by doing the bidding of his boss. Woe to all who associate themselves with this toxic "president." You will be tainted forever and history will not be kind to you. 

There are bigger implications here. First, I don't think this will play well with anyone other than the "president's" rabid base. Most people will see someone who served his country honorably for over two decades and think that he got a raw deal. 

Second, the men and women of the FBI have seen some of the worst things and worst people in the world. They pursue them doggedly and do not rest until they see that justice is done. Does the "president" really think that they are scared of him? 

Finally, and this is related to the second item, piss off the FBI at your own peril. The "president" has repeatedly questioned their integrity and honesty and seems to think that they owe him their loyalty. That's not how it works, idiot. These attacks against well-liked and well-respected members of the Bureau like James Comey and Andrew McCabe are going to backfire. The FBI will close ranks and protect each other and they will not let their reputation as the best law enforcement agency in the world be besmirched. Just like Comey, McCabe has memos and has turned them over to Robert Mueller. 

My BF in an alternate universe was none too happy and tweeted his response. 

But Wyatt Earp said it best.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Stormy Eyes

And Windy has stormy eyes
That flash at the sound of lies

~~ "Windy" by The Association

What an exhausting week. 

It's not that I've been physically stressed, or sick, or partying every night, or anything like that. I'm exhausted by the news cycle. While I'm heartened by the sight of hundreds of thousands of young people marching to protest gun violence (and look forward to marching with them on March 24th), I find myself tired of the constant drama coming from the White House. 

I miss No Drama Obama. So much. 

So I feel absolutely zero guilt in finding a sort of disgusted glee in the story of the "President" and the Porn Star, and I am cheering on Stormy Daniels every step of the way.

A few things:

1. I'm no fan of the porn industry and I think it demeans women and causes a skewed concept of sexuality that often genuinely harms women. But I'm not going to be super judgmental about it because whatever floats people's boats is okay with me, as long as it doesn't harm others. I don't think that is the case with the porn industry and I do think that it causes harm to others, but that is an ongoing debate and I'm not going to try to hash it out here. 

2. Having said that, I like what I hear from Ms. Daniels. She knows who she is, she is comfortable with herself, she has a thick skin, and she is not taking crap from anybody. I don't know what her game is, whether she is looking to cash in, or what, but I say more power to her. She has been quite successful in her chosen field, and while it's not one that I would wish on any woman, it seems that she is a savvy businesswoman and I admire that. Kudos to her and her lawyer for keeping this story in the news. A masterclass in media manipulation.

3. I don't give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut if the "president" has had affairs in the past. It is common knowledge that he has. It's not the most admirable trait in the world, but that's between him and his wife. What I DO care about is that he and his flunkies have actively worked to pay off, cover up, and sweep this under the rug. Such activities have left him open to extortion and blackmail, and I suspect that is what is behind much of the weirdness about Russia's influence. 

Finally, I care about the complete and utter hypocrisy of those people who said that Bill Clinton was incapable of doing a decent job because of his affairs. I was no fan of all of that but at least he was competent at what he did and he had the intellectual capacity to learn about what he didn't know. 

I am disgusted by those evangelicals who have embraced this "president" and give him a pass for this stuff. I dealt with years of guilt because of things I was taught to believe would send me on a one-way ticket to hell. Lying, cheating, cussing, drinking, stealing, smoking, dancing, premarital sex, gambling, listening to rock and roll...every freakin' thing that is halfway fun, and it was all hell-worthy. And here comes this happy asshole with his affairs and bankruptcies and shittiness towards POWs and the disabled and his cussing and they're like, "Oh, we LOVE you!" 

[flipping table over]

It kind of makes me crazy. Hypocrites make me crazy. 

All I can say is, go Team Mueller and go Team Stormy! 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Shift

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're going through

~~ "Changes" by David Bowie

Since the shooting in Parkland on Friday, I have been very emotional. Ken would say, "How is that different from every day?" Fair enough. I've been more emotional than I usually am. 

The shooting itself was obviously horrific and worthy of tears. But you know what is really getting to me?

Seeing these kids speak up and speak out. Their words are powerful. Their resolve is powerful. 

THEY are powerful. 

I honestly don't know what will happen. The Florida state legislature refused to take up a ban on assault weapons today. But I don't think these remarkable young people are done yet. 

And doesn't something feel different this time? I think it does. 

After Sandy Hook, it felt different, too. I submitted a petition to the White House site (this is back when the White House cared about people) to ban assault rifles and high-capacity clips. I got some support but not enough to generate a response from the White House. I thought for sure that after 20 kids were gunned down, our Congress would act. 

I was wrong. 

This feels different. This feels like a seismic shift in this debate, much like the MeToo movement felt like a seismic shift in our culture about how we treat women. 

It was dismaying today to see the attacks on these kids, often from Russian bots and trolls, but also from the "president's" idiot son, Junior. Accusing them of being deep state shills and other such nonsense. How utterly disgusting, and utterly unsurprising, to see these people dismiss and discount these kids' genuine horror, rage, and sorrow at seeing their friends and classmates gunned down in cold blood. 

The "president" blamed the FBI for devoting too much time on the Russian investigation. Sure, because the FBI has only one investigation and only a handful of employees. Over 12,000 agents and over 35,000 employees can multitask, asshole. A pox on you and your horrible family.

On April 20th, the twentieth anniversary of the Columbine shooting, kids are planning a nationwide walk-out. On March 24th, they are planning a march on Washington, D.C., and I am hopeful that there will be marches all across the country, including in my own city. I will be proud to join them. 

Again, I have no idea what will happen. But this really does feel different. I think people have had it with the NRA, which used to be an organization that taught gun safety for hunters and advocated for responsible gun ownership. They've turned into shills for the gun manufacturers and the gun lobby and as far as I'm concerned, they are a terrorist organization. Fuck you, NRA, and fuck you, Wayne LaPierre. There is so much blood on your hands that you will never erase the stain. 

A ch-ch-ch-change is coming. 

Beth's Books: A Political Two-fer

I'm a little consumed with politics right now and the two books I've read so far have both been political books. Why only two books so far? Especially when I have a goal of 52 every year? I'll explain in a moment.

But I'll say now that I realize that I need to step away from political books for a bit and get back into reading for sheer pleasure. Something that takes me away rather than depositing me directly in the midst of the current shitshow that is American politics.
I probably read a short book every day with all the political stories I read. It is probably time to get back to reading some fiction, some science books, and even political books, but maybe from a historical viewpoint. I have a copy of All the President's Men to read.
Not that that has anything to do with what is happening now.
The first book I read this year was Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win by Luke Harding.
My initial thought after reading this book was that this entire administration is rotten to the core. It is a well-researched book that provides all the sordid details of the questionable Russian dealings of people like Paul Manafort and Carter Page. It is no surprise that Robert Mueller has charged Manafort with multiple counts. I suspect that there will be more to come.
I was also struck by the sheer arrogance of people like Manafort who seem to think that they won't be caught. I look forward to watching Mueller reduce him to mincemeat.
The second book is the current NYT nonfiction #1, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff.
I've often thought about how much I would love to talk to certain politicians or people in that arena. The Obamas. The Clintons. The Bidens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, even. People like James Comey and Robert Mueller. People who are intelligent, informed, thoughtful, have interesting viewpoints and interesting stories, even if I don't necessarily agree with their viewpoints.
I've been fortunate enough to talk to a few here and there. My Mayor, Pete Buttigieg, is a super smart, great guy. I've had a chance to talk with the former Speaker of the House of the Indiana state legislature, Pat Bauer. I've gotten to say hello to one of my Senators, Joe Donnelly. I even had a nice conversation with Martin O'Malley, who was smart and engaging and asked me and Ken about some Indiana political issues.
It took me forever to read this book because I realized how completely boring the "president" is. He is not smart. He is not informed. He doesn't have a thought in his head other than how something relates to him. He has no idea how to engage or connect with others.
He's the guy who, if I were talking to him at a party, I'd figure out a way to extricate myself because I'd be rolling my eyes at his complete and utter self-absorption and lack of intellect.
The only enjoyable parts of this book were the ones about James Comey and Robert Mueller because they seemed to be the only ones in the whole thing with a shred of decency and integrity. (Also because of my Comey Crush.)
I can't NOT recommend it but I can say that it was not a particularly edifying read.
If you had to pick between the two, choose the former. There is a lot more research and detail there.
Happy (sort of) reading and remember to vote in your primaries and in November. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Pussy Grabs Back

All my life I've never seen
A woman so damn mean

~~ "All Day And Night" by Shake Before Us

Even dummies are woke
Well, it's been quite a year. 

I'm not going to get into the government shutdown because there is just too much to write about that. We'll see what happens tonight and early Monday morning. 

I want to write about the Women's March of this weekend. I was truly bummed that we didn't have a local one this year. Matt and I would absolutely have gone! (Ken was out of town and Shane was working.) I still remember the energy, positivity, and hope that I felt when we marched a year ago today. I saw all my posts from last year show up in my memories on Facebook and it was a great reminder of how this movement started. It was very much a backlash to an admitted sexual predator being inaugurated as our 45th president. We all felt disgusted and dismayed, but one day after the inauguration, we marched and raised our voices and said, "We are a force to be reckoned with." 

How wonderful and empowering to see that we have not lost that energy. In fact, it has only picked up. More women than ever are running for political office all over the country, from local township offices to Governor to Congresswoman to Senator to (probably) President. Shit's about to get real. 

A friend and local operative with the Democrats reached out to me and asked me if I'd be interested in running for a local office. He said he thought I'd be a great campaigner and candidate, and I found that incredibly flattering. Just the fact that he thought I have a good grasp of the issues, you know? I thanked him but said that I am way too much of an introvert to be able to do that. I can engage with people for a limited time and then I am done. Push me beyond that limit and I'm the one rolling my eyes and saying, "That's a really dumb question." Ha! He understood and said that that is why HE doesn't run and instead works behind the scenes to recruit people. I do wish that I could be more engaging with others, but I know my limits.

The happy ending here is that I have two friends who are running for local office, Cassie and Jennica. They both have been heavily involved with the healthcare debate as they are both mothers of preemies (triplets in Jennica's case) and have faced numerous hurdles as they try to navigate and find the best care for their kids. I couldn't be prouder of them and for them and I look forward to helping them as we move into this next election. 

Make no mistake about it. Women are pissed off and we are ready to fight and make our voices heard. 

2018 is the year that pussy grabs back. Buckle up!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Kind of a Drag

I got home from work and my first order of business was to head upstairs and change out of my scrubs and get into comfy clothes. 

I went back downstairs and turned on the TV and watched the latest about the OJ trial. Some of the reporters were saying that the DNA evidence was going to be disputed. I snorted. Who wouldn't believe that evidence?

I called my boyfriend up at work and we chatted a bit. He was pretty busy so we couldn't talk long. I heard someone else talking to him, a woman, and I couldn't really hear what he said to her. Something like, "Hang on." Or maybe it was, "Come on in." 

He got back to me on the phone. "I'll be over after I get off work, okay?"

"Okay, sounds good. See you then." 

We hung up and I sat there for a moment. Something didn't seem quite right but I didn't feel like thinking about it too much at the moment. 

I made myself a microwave dinner and sat down and watched a movie I'd rented. 

Then I worked on the mixtape I was making for my cousin. I added up all the minutes of the songs and figured out how to max out the space on the tape. I wrote down all the songs in my notebook and after about three hours, the tape was finished. I closed my notebook and heaved a sigh. It was a good tape and I was pretty sure my cousin would like it. But I'd write up the insert tomorrow. 

Besides, my boyfriend would be off work before too long and he'd be coming over. I made a fire in the fireplace and settled down on the couch to read. It was cozy and warm and I had started to doze off when the phone rang. I got up and went over to answer it. 

"I'm running a little late, but I'll be there as soon as I can, okay? If you want to go up to bed, I'll let myself in." 


I hung up the phone. I looked over at the fire, which was dying out. It was low enough that I didn't need to tend to it anymore.

I grabbed my book and headed upstairs. I brushed my teeth and got into bed and read for another hour. Where was he? He should have been here by now. I went back to my book and after a few minutes, I put in my bookmark and turned out the light. I laid there wondering what was going on. I picked up the phone and punched in his pager number. I laid back and looked at the ceiling for a while. The phone finally rang, the light from it brightening the dark bedroom. 

I answered it with, "Hey." No one else called me this late at night. 

"Hey. I can't come over tonight. I went out to my car and someone stole one of my tires." 


"Yeah, they just took it off of my car."




"Listen, I'll call you tomorrow, okay?"




I hung up the phone and looked at the ceiling again. What was going on here? What was I doing? Why was I putting up with this? 

My mind was racing and I decided to turn on the radio and listen to some quiet, soothing music. It was set on the oldies station and I listened to a couple of quiet songs. The DJ came on and said, "I'll take requests if you're out there listening." 

I rolled onto my side and looked at the light coming around the blinds. I looked at the phone. I picked up the handset and punched in the number of the station. The phone rang and the DJ picked up. "Hey. What do you want to hear?"

"Can you play 'Kind of a Drag' by The Buckinghams?"

"Sure. Why do you want to hear that song?"

"That seems to be what I'm feeling right now." 

"You okay?"

"Oh, yeah."

"You sure?"

"Really, I am. I've just always loved this song, and I'm feeling a little jilted tonight. This song really fits my mood right now."

"And you're sure you're okay?"

"I am. Thanks for talking to me and thanks for playing it, if you do."

"No need to thank me, and I will. Hey, what's your name?"

I told him and he said, "So hang tight and listen."

"I will. Thank you." 

I hung up the phone and burrowed into my pillow. I was on the verge of dozing off when I heard my name on the radio. The DJ said that this was going out to me and I heard "Kind of a Drag" start to play. The DJ interrupted the song and said, "To the young lady I talked to a moment're going to be okay. Tonight might be kind of a drag, but that doesn't mean the rest of your life will be. Rest well." 

I listened to the song and before it was done, my phone lit up and rang. I picked it up and I heard my supposed boyfriend's voice, asking if I was okay. I hung up the phone without saying anything. It rang again a moment later. The light lit up the corner of my bedroom.

I turned away and let it ring. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

NPR's Top Political Story of the Year Bracket

NPR had a fun story today about the top political story of 2017. What made it fun was that they treated it like an NCAA tournament bracket, even seeding the stories in each division! (If you're unfamiliar with NCAA brackets, each division has 16 teams. The favored team in each division gets the Number 1 seed, on down to the 16th seed. In the early rounds, the #1 seed faces the #16, the #2 faces the #15, and so forth. That's a really simplified explanation, but I think you get the gist.)

Since I'm both a sports fan and a political junkie, I was all over that! I printed out my bracket and filled it out a moment ago. I think NPR did a good job with the seeds, giving the most significant stories the higher rankings. When I filled mine out, I tried to think about the long-term significance of each story, the impact it had, and the repercussions. I tried to focus on what happened in 2017 and not what will happen as we move into 2018 (and that has major significance when it comes to my pick for the winner, as you will see). I had a couple of lower seeds make it to the second round, but by the time I got to the Elite 8, I had nothing lower than a #5 seed, so NPR did a good job. 

I will freely admit that I am biased in some of my choices, but I really did try to evaluate in the terms of impact rather than my feelings. I'll explain my choices as I get into the Elite 8. You can click the pic to embiggenate and the original NPR story is "Pick The Biggest Political Story Of 2017."

My Sweet 16

1 Trump inaugurated vs 4 Women's March
3 Natural disasters vs 2 Undermine democratic institutions

1 Mueller probe vs 5 McCain thumbs down
3 Gutting Obamacare vs 2 Charlottesville

1 Sexual harassment fallout vs 8 Bannon out
3 Gun violence vs 2 "Alternative facts"

1 Comey fired vs 5 Paris deal withdrawal
3 Gorsuch to SCOTUS vs 2 Tax overhaul passes

My Elite 8

4 Women's March vs 2 Undermine democratic institutions
1 Mueller probe vs 2 Charlottesville
1 Sexual harassment fallout vs 2 "Alternative facts"
1 Comey fired vs 2 Tax overhaul passes

Now I'll start my commentary. I chose Undermine democratic institutions over the Women's March, although the latter was a personal favorite. While I feel that the Women's March the day after the inauguration was an energizing and important moment that galvanized us and made us realize that we had a powerful voice when raised with that of others, I think the undermining of democratic institutions is going to have a lingering and damaging effect on our democracy. We continue to see our judicial system, our law enforcement agencies, and our free press attacked. This is a major problem going forward even after we get rid of the orange stain that is marring our country. 

While Charlottesville was a big deal indeed, showing exactly where the "president's" sympathies lie, the Mueller probe has to be the winner here. It really has been a cloud over this administration and has hampered his ability to get anything done. This is also an ongoing issue, one that is not, as some people have deluded themselves into believing, going to "wrap up soon."

While "alternative facts" are significant in the same way that the undermining of democratic institutions is, I picked Sexual harassment fallout as the winner here. This represents a significant cultural change in how women are treated in our society and we've already seen political changes because of it. 

The passing of the tax bill was significant in that it was the first major legislative win for this administration, and while there will be repercussions that affect millions, this can be changed to be more progressive when we're back in the driver's seat. So Comey's firing was the obvious choice for me here. More about that as we move forward. 

My Final Four

2 Undermining democratic institutions vs 1 Mueller probe
1 Sexual harassment fallout vs 1 Comey fired

Gotta go with the Mueller probe in the first match-up. I mean, we're talking about an investigation of Russia's involvement in our presidential election and whether or not one of the campaigns colluded with the Russians. As Joe Biden would say, that's a big fucking deal. It also is touching on whether or not the "president" obstructed justice in firing James Comey, which could be an impeachable offense. 

So for the second match-up, I had to go with the firing of James Comey. Even Steve Bannon has said that firing Comey was probably the biggest political blunder in recent history. Since Comey didn't just fall off the turnip truck, he did a little maneuvering, which resulted in the appointment of a special counsel, one Robert Mueller.

That means that my championship game is...

#1 seed Mueller probe vs
#1 seed Comey fired

Wow! What a tournament finale! Two worthy stories that are woven together in significant ways. Two stoic, professional prosecutors, both former Directors of the FBI. Two cool customers who know their way around a courtroom and know how to get a conviction. I'd tailgate the hell out of that game! 

Okay, you guys probably know the story I'm going to pick as the winner. Yes, it's the firing of James Comey. However, it's not because of my Comey crush, and it does come with a caveat. Or an asterisk, if I want to continue with the sports metaphors. 

I chose it because I think it is the story that had the most impact and most significant repercussions for 2017. When you-know-who fired Comey, events were set into motion like a weird political Rube Goldberg machine. The intricacies of it fascinate me. Comey was directing the FBI probe into possible Yampaign collusion with the Russians, Comey knew that Jeff Sessions was going to recuse himself from that investigation, Comey knew something was seriously hinky with the way the "president" was acting and documented it all, Comey got fired, the "president" wouldn't shut up about it on Twitter, and when he mentioned possible tapes of the meeting with Comey, Comey strategically released one of the memos he'd written (in a deliberate manner so that it was unclassified) to a friend and asked him to contact a reporter, hoping that it would result in the appointment of a special counsel to investigate. 

And that is exactly what happened and how Mueller was appointed. Man, if that isn't some Zen master-level maneuvering, I don't know what is. The investigation hasn't just continued, it has ramped up and is going to get even more heated in 2018, in my opinion. I think there is plenty of shady stuff going on for Mueller to dig into and he's going to turn up a lot. 

Which brings me to my asterisk. While the firing of Comey is my pick for the political story of 2017, I think the Mueller investigation could very well be the political story of 2018. I tried to evaluate based on the impact in the current year rather than what might happen down the road. So if Mueller really does turn up some damning stuff on the "president," that wouldn't just be the political story of 2018...that would be the biggest political story since Clinton's impeachment hearings. 

I think the moral of this story would have to be: Piss off the Intelligence Community at your own risk.