Apr 25, 2017

Regarding Chelsea, Part II: Because you guys still don't get it

It was just a few days ago, following a few vodka and sodas, that I felt compelled to defend Chelsea Clinton against her various bullies (mostly male, but not always) in the media. I figured that would be the first and last time I wrote about Chelsea.

Alas, that was not to be. At some time during the night while I slumbered -- something I haven't been able to do much since January 20, 2017 -- all the bros of Twitter erupted in a frazzled mania at once, as if their testosterone cycles had finally synchronized after months of complaining in close quarters.
Clinton has said repeatedly that she has no plans to run. I present to you Exhibit A:
Just for reinforcement, I present to you Exhibit B:
But that's not enough. Brocialist Twitter is convinced that she's going to run for Nita Lowey's seat in 2018. And they will not have that, dammit!
(Note: I realize that the above tweet is snark. But it's snark that pokes fun at an actual fear that brocialist Twitter has and frequently expresses.)

Apparently the issue here is that she hasn't promised to run for anything, ever, and they cannot sleep until they're certain that they'll never have to see her name on a campaign sign for a school board election. In addition to that, they'd also like signed statements from her children, Charlotte and Aidan, that they also will not run. That, and only that, will finally lull them into a sweet, sweet slumber.

Chelsea Clinton running for office is what keeps them awake at night. Meanwhile, my current nighttime regimen is to chase 2 Ambien with a double-shot of Vladimir vodka with the slim hope of getting a few hours of sleep before being jolted awake from my nightmares of nuclear bombs and rapey post-apocalyptic hellscapes.

We are, as a country, facing actual danger. We are led by an incompetent narcissist with obvious mental impairments who uses the office of the president to fill his family's coffers. Surrounding him are Russian sympathizers, opportunistic white supremacists who want to "deconstruct government" -- whatever the hell that means --and two family members, both of whom have vastly superior cognitive functioning, but who are just as shallow and self-serving as the president.

And none of these people care enough stop him from tweeting threats to North Korea from his toilet in the middle of the night.

This whacked obsession the media has with Chelsea Clinton running for office scares me because it's evidence that the media has learned nothing from the clusterfuck of coverage that led us to where we are right now. The media still refuses to take a woman at her word while refusing to take a very dangerous man at his.

This has to stop.

Apr 23, 2017

The One Where 2017!Kara Catches Up with 2008!Kara

I was looking through old blog posts and found this one that I wrote in 2008. There's even a small reference to the '08 primary.

Life has changed for me in the 9 years since I wrote this. I've gone through multiple jobs. I upgraded from a used Chevy Cavalier to a used Honda Civic. I bought a house. The boyfriend I mentioned here -- later, my fiance -- is out of my life, having gone from dead-to-me to being quite literally dead. And yet the external circumstances that led to this essay still remain.


I floated through much of my life unaware that my having a vagina put me at a disadvantage in the world. I'm not even sure if I knew that my gender was considered by anyone until a few years ago when I started dating my boyfriend and his combat-boot-wearing sister expressed dismay at his dating such a "girly girl". And even then I shook it off as an insult by someone hell-bent on hating me.

That being said, I was still insulted. I wasn't a "girly girl". I grew up in an all-male household where I was taught to love computer games and Roger Corman horror flicks - I even watched sci-fi, dammit! Sure I caked on the makeup and lined my eyes with a charcoal black eyeliner, but I didn't even wear skirts and not one item of pink could be found in my wardrobe. It was all blue jeans and black skirts for this gender-neutral girl. Fuck that bitch for thinking otherwise.

And fuck me for being just like her and thinking there was something wrong with being feminine.

I've always tried to be as masculine as possible because I thought there was something wrong with being a woman. I knew that sexism existed but didn't think it applied to me. I thought that if I could throw away all of the things associated with being womanly - the cooking, the cleaning, the pink, and the skirts - and adopt male-oriented hobbies, I would be viewed as an equal.

But I'm still not viewed as an equal. My encyclopedic knowledge of the Star Wars universe doesn't make me one of the guys. At most, it makes me "pretty cool for a chick."

My workplace is a boys' club. Every day at noon, my male boss takes my male co-workers out to lunch. No girls allowed. The rule is written in the atmosphere. When a new guy is hired, he's invited to this lunch on his first day; no woman has ever been invited. The same is true of their smoking club, which they've dubbed the Fresh Air Club. During my first week of employment, an unknowing male invited me, a chronic chain-smoker, to join this exclusive club. After a week of awkward smoke break silences, another guy pulled me aside and said, "Don't take this the wrong way - I mean, you're a really cool girl and all - but we've discussed it, and you can't be a part of the club anymore because we can't talk about 'guy stuff' around you. We wouldn't want to offend you."

But in that statement, he managed to fart out the one thing that was offensive to me.

I was offended in a way that was much different than how I was offended when my boyfriend's sister called me a girly-girl. This time, I wasn't offended because I'd failed in my quest to become genderless, I was offended because someone had discounted me on the basis of my gender. I'm not worthy of talking to at lunch or on a smoke break just because I have two X chromosomes. If I had an X and a Y chromosome, my personality would be acceptable.

It's akin to how two presidential candidates can run on nearly identical platforms, yet the one with less experience gets the nod because he fits the XY qualification. The XX candidate can put on a pantsuit and pick up a rifle, but she's still a woman with a gun. The macho guys will be threatened by her power, the girly-girls will laugh at the color of her pantsuit, and the hardcore feminists will say that she's wearing too much eyeliner.

Many feminists have been going about this the wrong way. It's fine to wear combat boots, watch sci-fi, and shoot a gun if that's the kind of gal you are, but doing it just because you think it will make men see you as equal isn't going to work. And telling other women that they can't curl their hair, bake cookies, or watch soap operas because such things are "girly" makes you an asshole. When a woman derides another woman for being too feminine, she's only feeding the belief that feminine is bad.

Feminism should be about choice. It should be about women being able to choose their own paths in life instead of being forced onto a path by an external force by anyone - and that includes men and women. And, yes, that choice even extends to the woman who wants to stay at home with her kids.

Take a moment to bitch about the woman who uses her kids as an excuse to make you do her work - letting off steam is healthy - but try to be more forgiving of the woman in the cubicle next to you whose only fault is wearing passion pink lipstick. She's not the reason your male boss hasn't given you a promotion in two years.

Apr 21, 2017

Regarding Chelsea

We need to have a talk about Chelsea Clinton. More to the point, we need to have a talk about how the media talks about Chelsea Clinton.

Look, I’d prefer to not have to write this. I am not what Annie Karni of Politico derisively calls a "Chelsea lover." Unlike T.A. Frank stated in his rambling Vanity Fair piece about why Chelsea Clinton annoys him so much that he just has to write 1,300 words about it, I don't believe that the "love of Chelsea correlates closely with love of Hillary." 

I'm not a Chelsea hater. I am, in fact, Chelsea agnostic -- something that is becoming as rare as a winged hippopotamus in the irritable bowels of political Twitter. The truth is that I've never thought about Chelsea Clinton much. And I've always gotten the impression that she prefers it that way. And I've never gotten the impression that anyone is trying to push Chelsea Clinton on us as so many journalists seem to believe. 

In 1993, when Bill Clinton was inaugurated, I thought that it was pretty spiffy that he had a daughter who was just a year older than me. I felt for the awkward pre-teen who was suddenly shoved into public view, and, as she aged in that public light, occasionally felt pangs of sympathy when she was teased by perverted grown men who should've known better than to comment on a teenager's journey into puberty. Past that -- past those things that were reflections of my own insecurity with my changing body -- I had no opinion of her, bad or good. I certainly didn't have bitchy takes about her smiling on magazine covers.

I don't know Chelsea Clinton. I don't know her parents either, but I know a lot about them having seen them on the public stage for 25 years, as well as having read their autobiographies and various biographies written about them. I admire her folks. And unlike many Americans, I like most of what I know about Bill and Hillary Clinton, separately and together, and like them enough that I can accept their various warts and imperfections as part of the package. I don't know enough about Chelsea Clinton, good or bad, to form an opinion. What I do know is that this is bullshit:

Chelsea Clinton is not a political figure. Chelsea Clinton is a woman who has political figures as parents. There is a difference. Ivanka Trump is a political figure. Jared Kushner is a political figure. They, respectively, work in their father and father-in-law's administration, and that's political. Chelsea served as a surrogate for her mother. Now you can criticize her for things she said while serving as a surrogate for her mother -- that is fair -- but she is not a political figure.

But I understand where one would get that impression. For example:

This, of course, has no basis in reality. Clinton herself has said that she is not running for public office. And yet the idea of Chelsea Victoria Clinton running for House, Senate -- oh my god, perhaps even president! -- is a fear that keeps dudebros of these United States up at the darkest hours of the night. It's so galling that it turns into recurring nightmares that yank them out of bed before dawn, drenched in sweat, terrified for their lives, forcing them to spill their greatest fear out into the endless void of fucking ridiculous political tweets. 

No, no I've never had that "unsettling feeling". What's unsettling to me is that Josh Barro spends what many would consider an unhealthy amount of time thinking about some dreamt up hypothetical that Chelsea may run for office, and that he spends the rest of his time fretting over the idea that Chelsea would get an award from Lifetime Television Network.

The World is Being Run by Irresponsible Spoiled Brats (and You're One of Them). 

There's a part of me that could come to understand this resentment. As I mentioned earlier, I'm around the same age as Chelsea. Unlike Chelsea, however, I was raised by a single father who, when he wasn't laid off and delivering pizzas for Dominos, worked as a machinist. I had to scratch and claw my way to my current position in life. My position in life isn't all that great, not even with the chipped, bloodied, dirt-encrusted nails I have to show for my minor achievements in life. I can understand being a little pissed off.

But Josh Barro has no reason to feel that way. His father is Robert Barro, the famous Professor of Economics at Harvard University, who no doubt greased the wheels for his son's entry into the college and into an internship for Grover Norquist. I've seen little about Josh Barro that convinces me he'd have advanced to his current stature without having the boost of well-to-do parents.

Matt Yglesias's father is the one and only Rafael Yglesias -- you might remember him as the screenwriter credit on Death and the Maiden, directed by Roman Polanski and starring (my hero) Sigourney Weaver, and From Hell, starring Johnny Depp. His grandfather, Jose Yglesias, was also a writer -- albeit not as recognized as he should have been, especially for his beautiful, eye-opening "A Wake in Ybor City." But I digress: Matt came from a background of well-established writers. Chelsea's privilege should not rankle him.

Olivia Nuzzi? I know nothing about her. But at 24, she either has great connection, luck, or talent that I haven't seen demonstrated yet. Regardless, she should not, with all her success, have a reservoir of resentment for Chelsea Clinton.

What's Your Damage, Heather? 

So what causes that resentment towards Chelsea?

I'd love to chalk it all down to simple misogyny. It would make writing about it much easier, because then I could combine it with the obvious misogyny her mother faced in 2016.

But not all female offspring of politicians get this. Let me present to you an example from T.A. Frank's article "PLEASE, GOD, STOP CHELSEA CLINTON FROM WHATEVER SHE IS DOING," which I linked to earlier:
But let’s have a reality check. No one bothers George W. Bush’s daughter, Barbara Bush, who quietly works on her nonprofit, Global Health Corps. On the other hand, if you’re posing for magazine covers, granting interviews, doing book tours, placing your name on your parents’ multi-million-dollar foundation, and tweeting out daily to 1.6 million people, then—guess what—you’re a public figure. And if you’ve openly entertained the possibility of running for office if “it was something I felt called to do,” then assurances to the contrary aren’t quite good enough. You’re a public hazard.
He conveniently left out Jenna Bush, who is very much in the public eye. Why did he do that? He explains that below.

He also leaves out that Barbara Bush has put herself out there. Barbara not only attended a Hillary Clinton fundraiser in Paris, but she also served as a keynote speaker at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser.

Jenna's obvious life as a public persona and Barbara's obvious political stances didn't make it into Frank's article. They didn't fit into his preferred narrative.

I haven't looked that far into his other writings, but a quick scroll through his Twitter feed shows propensity to retweet The Young Turks and Michael Tracey. And while that certainly indicates latent misogyny, it also indicates an unhealthy case of Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

Clinton Derangement Syndrome: Candidate for the DSM 6

There was always a part of me that thought that CDS was bullshit, even after years of sitting through my grandparents' Nazarene church services where I was shown videos about Bill Clinton supposedly trafficking drugs through a podunk airport in Arkansas while Hillary Clinton, who was obviously a lesbian, shot her supposed lover -- a man -- in the head and then dragged his body to a public park in Virginia.

No one actually believed that shit -- right?

But they did. And people believed other equally batshit insane things, such as the idea that Bill and Hillary married and made some pact about being joint POTUSes for 16 years straight.

I never considered any of that. When I learned that Bill Clinton brought his brilliant, educated Yankee girlfriend down to Arkansas and that she left great career options to do so, I thought, "Woah, that was stupid. Love is fucking stupid." I made a similar choice, only it ended with me leaving a really great opportunity in writing to work as a corporate peon and spending far too many years with a dude who, as it turned out, was a heroin addict. (Pro tip: Sometimes moving to be with your man won't work out for you. Other times, he becomes POTUS.)

But a lot of people saw all of this as suspect. And a lot of those people were in the media.

Bullying is About the Bully

In 1992, the New York Times published an article by Jeff Gerth about what came to be known as the "Whitewater Scandal." The article got most of the facts wrong, and years of investigation on the matter would prove that, only coming up with an unrelated scandal regarding an affair that Bill Clinton had with an intern.

The New York Times never wanted to accept culpability for this story and its aftermath, not even upon realizing the reporting was bad. Rather than publicly admitting their mistakes and moving on, they made it their goal to prove that the Clintons were as corrupt as they had claimed. None of their reporting of fumes ever came to anything resembling smoke or fire, but, heck, it saved some face and gave them bi-partisan credibility.

It also created a divide between the Clintons and the press that exists to this day. The Clintons, quite understandably, were wary of the press. The press (most of whom were obviously not the NYT), also understandably, became wary of the Clintons because they pushed back on their availability.

Hating TheClintons -- and pushing that together wasn't a typo -- became de rigueur amongst journalists. It became the fashionable thing to do, especially when it became clear to people in the then-establishment DC circles that TheClintons would decline party invitations and nights at the opera to stay home with their kid. They thought it was a rejection. It was considered an insult.

Politically -- at least outside of Arkansas -- Bill and Hillary Clinton were tone deaf. They paid for that. They continue to pay for that.

The New York Times hunts them down because the New York Times is insecure about fucking up so hard 25 years ago. They don't want to admit to having been wrong, so they seek to find the wrongdoing, even if it means paying for rights to the Breitbart-funded "Clinton Cash", talking endlessly about "shadows and optics", and putting numerous stories about Comey's October surprise letter above the fold when there was no "there" there. 

Bullying is Generational

You've seen the Back to the Future series, right? Of course you have. If you haven't, watch it.

If you've watched it, like a proper American, then you know that bullying has a tendency to be passed from one generation to another. And we all know we can trust in the wisdom of the Back to the Future series because it predicted the rise of Donald Trump

And so my hypothesis -- and I believe it is a solid one -- is that journalists have projected their negative feelings about Bill and/or Hillary Clinton onto the one thing is undoubtedly their accomplishment: their daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

There is no other reason to hate their daughter, whom they've taken such care to guard against public scrutiny, to the degree that journalists seem to hate her.

At some point, it became "cool" amongst journalists to shit on the Clintons. Junior staffers sensed that and adopted it as a way to insert themselves into the cool crowd. And with the results of the 2016 election, there are no Clintons in politics to openly shit upon, and they feel aimless and in danger of losing their Cool Kids Club cred. That's why you see random tweets like this:

Chelsea has certainly not earned such vitriol on her own. Her forays into public life -- even her Twitter presence -- has been focused on pushing issues she cares about, not about promoting herself. 

I've known this woman's name for 24 years and still have no idea what her favorite ice cream flavor is. Your snarky tweets and (for whatever reason) published hot takes have very little to do with her and a lot to do about you.

Grow the Fuck Up

It's time to get past your weird Chelsea Clinton obsession and face the reality of what faces us right now, which is a fight for the very soul of our country. What we do -- what we write -- over the next few years is what will define our history. I hope that what we have to say is more important than snarky takes on Chelsea Clinton's children's books. 

Apr 3, 2017

Democrats: Shape Up or Ship Out

This message should not have to be coming to you from some insignificant nothing in Western Pennsylvania. I am not paid to do this. This is why I donate money to you. You're supposed to keep your eye on the ball for me. And you have taken your eye off of it.

While I sat in a cold office watching as my co-workers were taken into an office, one by one, and told that they no longer had jobs -- as I waited for my own time to come to be taken into that office, which thankfully, in this round, did not -- my attention kept slipping from my current predicament to the state of the world and, by extension, the state of the Democratic Party, which is something I shouldn't have to be worried about at such a moment.

You're probably thinking right now that I'm pissed off at The Man, and that I'm upset that you didn't protect me and my co-workers from The Man. You're wrong; that's not it. My situation, unlike a lot of other people's, wasn't brought upon by greed; my co-workers and I are here because of poor management and a lack of insight into the future. We're here because the people who led us spent so much time trying to stay afloat that they grabbed on to every bit of detritus in the general area while failing to look out for the obstacles they faced upriver.

My company was bogged down because we grasped at the weeds. Weeds don't grow to support; weeds grow to take advantage.

Bernie Sanders is a Weed

Bernie Sanders isn't a Democrat. Whether or not you think that is a positive is a matter of view, but my point is that he isn't one. Bernie only ran as a Democrat for media coverage. Again, some of you reading this may think of that as a bonus. If you're looking for an essay that celebrates that, this isn't the one for you. I'm writing this for Democrats.

And Democrats should recognize Bernie Sanders for what he is. And Bernie Sanders is an invasive weed that that needs to be removed from the garden before he causes even more damage to us.

The Weed has Already Done Damage

Blah, blah, blah. Hillary ran a bad campaign. Blah, blah, blah. It really wasn't that bad of a campaign. Mistakes were made, as they are in all campaigns. She shouldn't have spread out to Arizona and Texas. She maybe should've spent more time in WI and MI (though, to be clear, the campaign *did* spend time in both of those states).

And I'm not at this point going to blame Bernie Sanders for her loss. Any number of factors could've gone into it. Hell, she would've won without Comey's intervention; the data makes that obvious.

But Bernie doesn't get a pass. Dragging out the primaries as long as he did, well past his date of expiration, made an impact. Dragging them out whilst still painting Hillary Clinton as the pinnacle of government corruption did even more damage. Bernie's failure to give a full-throated endorsement of her did even more damage. Bernie's sour puss at the convention -- and his unwillingness to help get his delegates in line -- did even more damage. And Bernie's several month absence, even with his half-hearted "don't vote Trump" calls at the end, did nothing to help. His wife's tweet reminding people to not necessarily vote as Bernie told them later did not help.

Bernie did nothing to help us. 

The Democratic Party has always been, for the most part of the last half century, a party of collaboration. It's been a large tent full of ideas. It's been a place where blacks, Latinos, Latinas, women (of all colors), atheists, Muslims, Jews, and whites (even those elusive working-class ones!) who hold similar views of civil rights will come together and do their best not fuck each other over. Sometimes someone does get fucked over, but we make a deal not to fuck the others over regardless -- to protect each other. It's an unwritten pact that we keep.

That pact was broken when people like Sanders and Susan Sarandon told us that our suffering was good for some cause, which apparently is all about free college (that many of us won't ever get to) and something about punishing banks.

Our Revolution, Democratic Socialists of America, and Justice Democrats: Salting the Earth

None of these organizations want to work with Democrats to enact change. If they did, that might be a worthy cause.

But they don't want to work with us. All three of these organizations are aimed at overtaking the Democratic party. They want to push a(n overwhelmingly white) vision of socialism forward without doing the work that it takes to build a party from the ground up. They want to use the existing infrastructure of the Democratic Party to push forth their views.

This has been obvious to everyone who has been on social media for the past year. And the narrative has been pushed by Russian bots. Get ahead of it now.

Don't Be Fucking Idiots

You may think it's savvy to let them in now -- I'm addressing you, Chuck Schumer -- but they will do with all of you what they did with Hillary Clinton. You will all be tarred and feathered as corporate establishment whores. They've already started in on Cory Booker just for not backing a nonsensical pharmaceutical bill that was lesser than what he'd signed onto previously. They'll continue to do that. They'll do it to anyone who has decent 2020 prospects. 

And I should add that most Democrats, while you may not have some of Hillary Clinton's baggage, also don't have the 40 years of verifiable social justice work behind you. Almost all of you can be smeared (rightly or wrongly) with banking donations by overzealous populists, but so very few of you have a record like Hillary Clinton's of verifiable social justice work to counter it. That'll make you all the more fucked. You won't be able to win your new 'progressive' friends or your old liberal ones.

Such a shame.

The Enemy of the Enemy: Not Always the Friend

I give you money. Even when I've been at my poorest, I've given you money. A lot of it, because I've believed in you to do the right thing.

The moment you stop protecting my reproductive rights, you get nothing. No money. No volunteering. No support.

And because this is not just about me, you don't get any money or support when you "soften" your views on anything that Our Revolution, DSA, or Justice Democrats derisively term "identity politics."

What they derisively call "identity politics" are civil rights, and they are non-negotiable. 

I'm Serious. We're Serious. 

Civil rights aren't a matter of negotiation as far as our support of the Democratic Party goes. The majority of us have been around the block on this, and we know that submitting our "identity politics" in sacrifice of pure economic advancement gives white dudes happiness and puts the rest of us at a disadvantage.

I, for one, am not going back to a place where I have to live with an abusive, neck-bearded dick in order to not worry about where my next meal is coming from. If I wanted to live in a world like that, I'd have voted for fucking Trump.

Bernie Fucking Lost. Bigly.

Bernie Sanders lost by 4 million votes. It wasn't even close. This wasn't like '08 where Obama had clearly won in delegates but Hillary was hella-close in the popular vote. (And where she, y'know, did 100+ events to get him elected.)

Bernie lost. Handily. He fucking lost.

You're trying to sell out your goddamn base to a guy who lost the primary by 4 million votes just because his voters were louder than Hillary's.


In Conclusion

Yinz haven't thought this through nearly as hard as I have. I can tell, because you put someone who hates Democrats in charge of Democratic outreach.

Ignore, for a moment, all those New York Times articles on Trump voters. Actually, y'know what? Think about those articles.

Four years from now, those voters you're trying to reach -- the ones who, let's be clear, voted for Trump because they don't like brown people -- will realize they've been fucked and will move towards you as long as your arms are out. You don't have to do anything special; you just have to wait and say, "I will try to help you."

Once a quarter of white people in Appalachia realize they have just as little shit as black people in Detroit or Cleveland do, they're ripe for the picking. And they will realize that soon enough.

You don't have to do anything special for that. You don't have to give up civil rights for that. You just wait until the tipping point, and then you exploit.

These are just my views as a lowly peon who lives in Western Pennsylvania and may not even be employed in a month. But I hope a few people will read it, do some research, and take heed, because I don't think I am entirely off base here.