A Woman's Place Is In the House -- 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

Her Name Is Dickerson

Well, this mid-term election season is turning out to be another lukewarm exercise in democracy.  The big money is on the pols that work for big money.  Here in South Carolina, most of us don't even know who is running against Tim Scott.  In fact, I just googled "Tim Scott opponent" and the first six hits were about the primary; number seven finally mentions Joyce Dickerson, but it is a summary of the upcoming primary, and only lists Dickerson with the other Democratic primary candidates.

Tim Scott was appointed by Nikki Haley, herself a proud cheerleader for the moneyed and powerful.  Scott was sure to follow quietly in the footsteps of Jim DeMint, who presided in the Senate as the king of negative and stupid for eight years.  Apparently DeMint couldn't handle the mockery and the limited financial reward of being a bought senator, so he bailed to the Heritage Institute, belying its identity as a "think tank."  At Heritage, DeMint can hide behind his title, needs not speak to non-believers, and doesn't have to pretend not to be bought.  No doubt, Scott would like to continue to follow the path of DeMint, and I will not be surprised when he resigns to be a wealthy right-wing figurehead with government connections.

With all the money flowing to Scott, it took a great deal of courage for someone to step up to oppose him, and Joyce Dickerson appears to have that courage.  She has actually spoken out against anti-abortion legislation, stating unequivocally that the government does not have the right to step in to determine a woman's reproductive decisions.  She will fight for veterans, unlike Scott, who never fails to send out flowery emails on military holidays and then votes against every bill that would improve the life of those veterans he claims to revere.  She is not afraid to fight for immigrants or for the poor, in other words, those of us who will not make her rich but deserve a better life.

Joyce understands that big money has corrupted our system of government.  The unfortunate irony is that that big money controls our elections, so that candidates like Dickerson have to fight to be heard, and are overshadowed by the millions of dollars going into keeping Tim Scott in Congress, where he will turn that investment into bigger bucks for his true constituent, big business.

It feels hopeless.  But Joyce Dickerson has taken the challenge.  So we need to do what we can to spread the word.  We need to let people know that she is running against someone who has consistently voted against the people of South Carolina.  Her web page includes Scott's voting record, which provides undeniable proof of who he is working for.  Don't be afraid to ask friends and family if they know who is running against Scott, and then tell them a little about our -- the people's -- candidate.

Share information, her website, this blog, any other information you might have, on Facebook and Twitter, because that is the low-budget way to get out the word.  And it does work.  But it takes work.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Women Who Run

Let's all do an experiment.

Tell us about your childhood.  Were your parents around often enough?  Too often?  And when you were a teenager, did you have a lot of friends?   Did you follow the rules?  Were your mom and dad too strict?  Now tell us about dating -- how many partners?  How serious?  Did you "fool around?"  When you got married, whose idea was it?  Who was in charge?  Who paid the bills?  Who made decisions about the kids?

Now part two of this experiment is to find a bunch of snoopy journalists with nothing better to do.  They will take way too much time to contact everyone you knew way back when and compare notes.  Then, when they find inaccuracies, for example, about how many partners you had, they will publish it.  And then there will be lots of debate and accusations about whether you are a liar.

This is the boilerplate for women who run for office.

Wendy Davis, who has been unassailable in what she has accomplished as a state senator, now has to quibble about how often she saw her daughters when they were in Texas and she was at Harvard, and whether her husband paid for her education.

I could swear that when I moved away from my home state at age 26 I drove the eight hours to visit my parents every two months.  But I'll bet someone out there can prove me wrong.  And just ask my kids if I was around enough when they were growing up.

But this nonsense doesn't happen when it's a man running for office.  Rand Paul, not a brilliant or motivated student, was a prankster who abducted a woman because he and his buddies thought it would be a riot.  Yet last week he went after Hillary for Bill Clinton's misbehavior with women.  He never had to mention Hillary, just had to say that a candidate who took money from Bill was against women.  How twisted is that???

What is amazing is just how much play the debate over Wendy Davis' history has gotten.  Really???  Do we really have nothing better to do than research how many weeks Davis lived in a trailer park?  Or whether she herself earned the paycheck that paid the Harvard tuition versus was married and had joint funds that paid for her education while she -- imagine this -- commuted from her Texas family to Boston and did the work of getting a law degree from Harvard.  Those of us who have also done this, and even those of us who have not, understand that all that time she was hanging out with friends in Boston was not spent planning pranks.

Wonder why we aren't hearing from the media about the issues?  I for one am tired of women being subjected to family values critiques from the media, and from voters being quite happy ringing in on women candidates' personal decisions.

Now I don't know if Greg Abbott, Wendy's opponent for governor of Texas, is even married, what kind of husband or father he might be, because, after all, he is a man and nobody in the media has thought it relevant.  We do know, however, that he is wheelchair bound.  This happened when a tree fell on him as he was jogging some thirty years ago.  Now this in itself is not a character or political issue.  What is relevant however, is that, although Abbott has benefited from  Americans with Disabilities Act laws that require ramps and other means of accessibility, he has as Texas attorney general, repeatedly blocked handicapped people from suing the state for violations of the ADA.

Wendy will no doubt bring this up, because it is an important aspect of Abbott's political philosophy and how he would implement his beliefs as governor.  The question is, will the media pursue issues like this anywhere near as passionately and persistently as they have explored Wendy Davis' parenting decisions and ability?

It depends, in large part, on whether we citizens will continue to allow these distractions to occur.  It is up to us to force the candidates to address the issues that will determine their paths in office, and force the media to report on those stances.  Until we do, the messages of good women like Wendy Davis will be suppressed, and we will be stuck with yet another election cycle dominated by gossip and irrelevance. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Raimondo in Rhode Island

I was pleasantly surprised when I learned about Gina Raimondo, who is running for Governor in my home state of Rhode Island.  She's smart, innovative, and compassionate.  She understands just how Rhode Island has been hit by this tough economy and as treasurer, she knew just what needed to be done to fix it.  She has also served the community, on boards that work to fund homeless shelters for women and other non-profits.

So it comes as no surprise that she is popular.  And also that her opponents are taking potshots at her.

Yesterday I learned of a smear campaign, both ridiculous and ugly, that had been making its way around You Tube, brought to you by your friends at the gun lobby, comparing Raimondo to Hitler because of her strong position for gun control.

And today the big buzz is about millionaires who live out of state and have contributed to Gina's campaign.  Not just any out-of-stater, but an "ex-Enron trader."

What we have going on in the country is a situation where the Supreme Court has given the nod-and-a-wink to big money to speak in campaigns.  The purpose of that big money is to keep the status quo -- the wealthy and powerful -- in power.  When someone comes in who is not going to play that game, she's not supposed to get that big money.  And when she does, those hypocrites swoop down for the attack.

Since we're talking Rhode Island and not South Carolina, it looks like the candidates are all willing to agree to limit the amount of out-of-state money.  And since we're talking Rhode Island, there's a pretty good chance the people will have their say and Gina Raimondo will get elected.

But meanwhile, I'm just going to wait and see what they come up with next.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Attacking Wendy with the Same Old Dogs

You may not be surprised to hear that the mud is already flying down in Texas, and being directed at Wendy Davis.

We can thank our media for being watchdogs of every little scrap of meat, stinking or otherwise, that campaigns toss at them.  In fact, the stinkier the better.  In this case, Politico ran a story about all the holes in Wendy Davis' biographical narrative, wherein the burning questions were whether she left her husband at 19 or 21 and that she got financial help getting through Harvard from her second husband.

Frankly, I expected better of Politico.  You don't have to sniff too closely to learn that the article was actually written by conservative Rich Lowry of the National Review.  Wendy's campaign fought back with the facts, and the critical assertion that trying to find dirt is what a campaign will do when it can't attack on the issues.

This nonsense reminds me of another campaign that fought successfully against the attempt to divert attention from issues to petty, irrelevant, and fallacious details.  I'm thinking about Elizabeth Warren, and Scott Brown's silly insistence on spending time talking about whether Warren ever claimed to be American Indian.

In both cases, on one side, we have really smart and gutsy women who know the issues, and know what's wrong and what needs to be done.  They are unafraid to stand up for what's right, and they know how to talk to the American people.  It terrifies their opponents.

Mitch McConnell is a typical bully -- mean spirited and whiny.  Last year his attacks on his presumed opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, came early and ugly.  McConnell is finding out that Grimes is unafraid to stand up to his nonsense.  He's also going to find out that the voters have had it with those games.

Just as Elizabeth Warren took the Senate seat from Scott Brown, Wendy Davis is going to win the governorship of Texas from her opponent, Greg Abbott, and Alison Lundergan Grimes will take on and beat McConnell.

As the season progresses, we voters need to look beneath the headlines, ask the right questions, confront the lies and keep returning to the real issues.

Myself, I'm looking forward to some smart tough women here in South Carolina to take on those bullies, the ones who won't spend a penny to provide health care to an infant but bleat about the need to control women in order to save a fetus.  I know those women are out there.

You know who you are.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Catherine LaFond and Me

A few nights ago I sat next to Catherine LaFond at dinner.  She introduced herself and we began to talk a little about ourselves.  I knew she was running for Water Commissioner, whatever that is, in the City of Charleston. She had just come in first in stage one of what seems to be South Carolina's attempt to draw elections out forever:  the run-off.  That means that there will be yet another election with the person who came in #2, so voters will have to get out yet again to show their determination to participate in the democratic process of voting.

But I digress.

Catherine is the kind of woman that you can't help but pay attention to.  She is energetic, and smart, and involved in whatever she is doing at the moment, which on Thursday night was talking to me.  I learned she is an attorney, working in real estate, and currently in elder law (I think that's what it's called).  She works with the elderly and with veterans, two underserved groups here in the Lowcountry.

I actually learned a little about what a Water Commissioner does, and why it is important to elect the most knowledgeable and committed candidate.

And then, as we talked, I realized that, not only did I know Catherine, but she had been one of my first contacts here in Charleston fifteen years ago.  She had been my real estate attorney.  At the time I remember that she had been amazing:  caring and professional, willing to answer any dumb question and walk me through all that legal stuff that had to be agreed to in order to buy a house.

Some four years ago, when all things financial were hitting the fan, and interests rates were low, I decided to refinance.  I couldn't remember Catherine's name, just knew that she was no longer in the building on Johns Island that she had been in back in '99.  So I went with another attorney.  What happened in not too many words was that the bank proceeded to give me the runaround for several months, claiming that my residential area was zoned agricultural, that my credit report didn't have my address on it, that I needed to list some person as being responsible for maintaining the dirt road I lived on.

My lawyer did his best, but when we got down to dirt roads, he didn't know what to do.  So I looked up my old records and found Catherine's name and called.  She quickly found my records and explained what I needed to do to satisfy this ridiculous demand.  Not only was she knowledgeable, she was reassuring at a time when I was pulling my hair out in frustration.

Sadly, I can't vote for Catherine on the 19th, because I am not a resident of the City of Charleston.  But I now know what a Water Commissioner does, and that Catherine should be that person.

Here in Charleston it is critical that the water we drink is good, and what we send back out is properly treated.  That is common sense.  We can't be cutting corners with drinking water and pollution.  So it just makes sense to have someone who is smart and dedicated, committed to environmentally sound practices.  That person is Catherine LaFond.

I know it seems silly to have to go out to vote again, but it's this one last effort that will count.  If you've made the effort to do it once, it is well worth the effort to do it again.  And find a friend, neighbor, family member, coworker who didn't get out last week and take them with you.  Send this around to as many people as you know that may live in the City of Charleston.

Visit Catherine's website.  If you know her, you know she's the best.  If you don't know her, her website will convince you.  And pledge to vote while you're there.

The election is Tuesday, November 19.  For a list of polling places go to the county website (they are the same locations as for the election on November 5th).  If you're not sure you're eligible to vote, go to SC Votes to find out.

Vote for
City of Charleston
Water Commissioner
Tuesday, November 19

Monday, November 4, 2013

What's the Matter with Nikki?

Nikki Haley has it all:  she's smart, poised and really manipulative.  She had just as much fun flirting with Stephen Colbert as she does doing, well, just about anything she does.  And did I mention that she is manipulative?

When it comes to appearing to be warm, friendly, happy to see you and in love with life, Nikki is the best.  And she knows how to flip a tough question to her advantage, and make it sound like asking that tough question was all her idea, and at the same time, she is really glad you had the brilliant idea to ask it.

Nikki is on all the time.

She knows how to appeal to moms, businessmen, military, children, friends and enemies, the latter which she treats as warmly as her friends.

In an article in USA Today, Nikki pulls out all the stops.  She is not only a powerhouse of a governor, she is a woman that yearns for the support of her husband (who, by the way is serving in Afghanistan), eats ice cream with her kids and takes them trick or treating even though they would rather go with their dad (who, by the way is serving in Afghanistan), and because of course she is fallible just like us she locked herself out of the house -- which happens to be the Governor's Mansion.  Unlike us, she locked herself out of the house when she ran outside in her bathrobe to get a state trooper to help her figure out how to put a clip-on tie on her son.  And then she added that her husband's response was, "Really, Nikki?" (by the way, he responded via Facebook from Afghanistan where he is deployed).

I agree.  I am a single parent who had to get instructions from the internet the first time my son had to tie a tie (the trooper wasn't around), but you want me to believe you couldn't do a clip-on?

This superhuman yet feminine and fallible mom-wife-and-governor has one piece missing.  And that is what makes her the exception to the rule, you know, about women being able to run things better than men?

Nikki lacks empathy.  She has the psychopath's ability to be charming and appear caring, but if you look to her actions as governor, it is obvious that she is as shallow as, let's say, her good friend Tim Scott.

You don't have to be a mother to understand that it is wrong for children to go hungry.  Nikki's solution to the problem of hunger in South Carolina has been to try to ban sweets for food stamp recipients.  And she had no problem sending out those notices a couple of weeks ago cutting the dollar amount of food stamps because President Obama's stimulus money for the program had run out.

You don't have to have children to not want children to be needlessly sick, or die because of inadequate -- or no -- health care.  Yet Nikki Haley is proud of that fact that she is among those governors who refused three years of federally funded expanded Medicaid.  You might think she herself was making the sacrifice, and not thousands of poor women and children.  For goodness sake, Nikki, even Arizona's Jan Brewer, no fan of President Obama,

wasn't hardass enough to say no to providing federally funded Medicaid to low income uninsured residents of her state.

But, you see, Nikki has thrown in her fortunes with the powerful men who she truly admires.  She believes as purely as any old rich republican man that wealth begets wealth, and therefore it is the wealthy that require the strong protective arms of the government.

Mothers and children who don't live in the Governor's Mansion can certainly fend for themselves.  After all, they aren't the "job creators."  And by that I mean those rich folk who have created Nikki Haley and her job.  And a very nice future as well.

I feel for Vince Sheheen.  He is so totally clueless about what he is up against.  She will put him down with irresistible giggles, slay him with that sexy smile, make him look like a fool for trying to show her for her corruption.

What do we take away from all this?

A woman can do anything better than a man, including psychopathy.

It's a sad thing for all us good women, who work hard and try to do the right thing, raise our children without the taxpayer funded chefs and troopers -- oh, and health care -- that Nikki has at her disposal.  We worry when our children are sick, but we also worry when another woman's child needs food, shelter, medical care.

The only hope we have, really, is for one of those good women to step up to take Nikki on and hold her accountable.  Maybe not as her political opponent, not this time around, but in marches, on Youtube, in letters and articles.  We may not be able to fight her dollar-for-dollar, but we have values on our side.


Friday, November 1, 2013

It Takes a Woman

Something amazing is going on.  In the election of 2012 more women were elected to office than ever before.  Voters knew that pretty faces like Scott Brown of Massachusetts masked more of the same white-men-in-power style politics.

In 2012, the voters replaced Brown in the Senate with Elizabeth Warren, who will clean up the financial mess those rich white guys have made, and Tammy Duckworth handily beat Tea Party candidate Joe Walsh, the first Asian-American woman, and first female disabled veteran to serve in Illinois and then in the US House.  Then there is Tammy Baldwin, first openly gay person to serve in the Senate.

Women like these are not just crashing a lot of glass ceilings, they are fighting for those of us who have been out-numbered and out-spent.  They have looked at the horrific quality of life that greed and ignorance have brought to bear in our country and said, "Uh-uh, no more."  They are fighting for pay equity, a living wage, and food stamps and health care.  They are fighting to regain losses in women's reproductive freedom and privacy and protections from violence.

We have another election cycle coming up, and those republican men are still trying to take away our health care, food stamps, birth control, public radio and public schools.  Despite the crazy-quilt of gerrymandering, we have some great women running for office, and we are not going to be defeated.

And I'm hoping to write about as much of it as I can.

Some of you may not remember her name, but Wendy Davis recently became a hero when she stood her ground on the floor of the Texas State Legislature filibustering the medieval abortion regulations being proposed.  In true Texas fashion, men first created tough filibuster rules and then tried to break the filibuster anyway, followed by creating new rules so that they could pass the bill at a later date.

So Wendy Davis is running for governor.

We'll move this country forward and take the old white men with us.  We're on our feet and we're not going anywhere but up.