2020 Election: Money, Racism, Misogyny, Brutality

Today, 1.13.2020, Cory Booker dropped out of the 2020 race. America lost out on Kamala Harris. And Julian Castro. The press is pointing out the ironies of a “big tent” party, a party that would like to back so-called “minorities” like Americans of African descent and Americans of Spanish descent and women (not a minority at all but still classified as such). In fact any Democratic candidate who is trying to run a grassroots-funded campaign will continue to be in trouble in the race for office in 2020.

Democrats are strong opponents of the Citizens United decision which, in a sense, gave votes to corporations, to money (not an organic life form) and to wealthy Americans (they can buy votes with ads and deeply-strategized ground games). If you saw Rachel Maddow’s wall graph showing the campaign war chest for each Democrat in the 2020 presidential race (except Mr. Deval) then you saw the enormous funds backing the billionaires and you saw the puny amounts raised from individual voters. Our donations are small and they still impact our personal budgets. It begins to seem ridiculous to even bother sending in our ones, tens and fifties. We are each a David fighting a Goliath and it is becoming clear to us that even hundreds of thousands of us are unable to make even a dent in what the Goliaths can come up with. And, although they may feel pained by their enormous expenditures, we know they will not be poor when this is all done.

So it is interesting to note that there is not a pool of Americans of African Descent who can run as billionaire candidates even though African Americans have been in American longer than most of our ancestors. Racism and its effects on black fortunes couldn’t require any clearer evidence than this. Nor is there a pool, or big enough pool, of billionaires of Spanish descent, or billionaire women to try to buy the Presidency. This election looks difficult enough without trying to inject financial purity into it.

There is also the Trump factor infecting all of our decisions about the perfect 2020 candidate, and it is hardly inconsequential. Trump has the charisma that Jack Nicholson displayed as the Devil in the film Witches of Eastwick, which some of you probably did not see because you are too young. For a while that devil charmed us all, until he didn’t. (The analogy seems to fall apart because some of us have never been charmed by Donald Trump, but it is apt in many ways.) Time marches on and we have now seen many sides of Donald that never bothered us much as long as he wasn’t our President. One of his worst sides is his belief in white supremacy and another is his misogyny. Lying of course, and cheating are also sins that have served him well in getting elected.

Because Trump runs a very duplicitous, alpha male, white-Europeans-rule kind of race Democrats realize that he would, most likely, have greater success demonizing minority candidates than he would against white male candidates, although they have not proven better at standing up to Trump’s patter (which should not work). We worry that with all the racist undercurrents being called forth once again in America and all the anti-immigrant feelings being whipped up and with the fact that Trump empowers white men (who knew they needed to be more empowered) a “minority candidate” could be brutalized in the 2020 election and that however hard they punched, Trump’s long years of practice with counterpunching and his lessons from expert counterpunchers like Roy Cohn and his dad, would leave these opponents bloodied and would give us four more years of a ruinous Trump presidency. Perhaps we are simply being protective of the members of our party most likely to be obliterated by the meanest old man we have ever encountered who isn’t spending his senior years in a recliner.

I’m still reading David Blight’s biography of Frederick Douglass (it’s a long one). Mr. Douglass’s long career as a warrior who used words to fight slavery, which he understood intimately having been a slave himself, made him feel a bit despondent at the actual unfolding of the Reconstruction which was bloody and deadly for freed slaves in the south. But he immediately recognized that many white slave owners feared reprisals. He also recognized that the South never had to feel the real sting of losing the Civil War. These slave states were welcomed almost immediately back into the Union and as soon as the war was over many southerners returned to serve in the Senate and the House. By then Douglass could see that being set free did not mean that southern hearts had been changed. They still saw black folks as inferior to whites and they certainly did not want them to vote or own land or amass fortunes. Douglass would be saddened to know that these racist elements still exist in America, and be appalled by the amount of time that has passed, as time should have changed such prejudices far more than it has. He rejoiced when the 15th amendment gave freed slaves the vote, but despaired at the horrific backlash in some southern states.

It is such a sad commentary on American progress with respect to acceptance and tolerance, that in what could be America’s  “space age” (if we aren’t too engrossed in simply trying to survive), we are still fighting the Civil War and battling for equal rights for Americans of color and for women (who achieved the right to vote last).

Don’t be too hard on the Democrats right now because we can only conjecture, run the numbers, employ a great ground game and accept what a tough road it could be to beat this bad man who is still an incumbent and who has both the Republicans and the Fundamentalist vote-getting machinery behind him.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Big Blue Tent – Travel Wisconsin

Women, Trump, Religion, Money


EB Evangelicals filmstr

You may wonder why Evangelicals don’t oppose 45, whose “sins” are coming home to roost and lowering the tone of our national discourse. But you don’t have to travel too far in your thinking to understand that Trump’s misogyny is tailor-made for furthering the policies of fundamentalist Christians. Iowa just passed a law that makes it a crime to have an abortion after 6 weeks. So far no one has overturned this law which violates the intent of Roe v Wade, a law with Supreme Court clout behind it. Perhaps this is true because Trump is packing Federal courts with conservatives as quickly as Congress can confirm them.

Evangelicals and Trump seem to agree that women are the root of much of the evil in American society. When women went to work families fell apart, they claim. Many conservatives feel that the demise of the nuclear family changed the entire tenor of American society and not for the better. They blame the disruptions to the nuclear family on educating women for careers that take their focus away from preserving close families. They also blame this statistical piece of data about fewer nuclear families on women’s liberation and feminism, birth control and legal abortion. But the true roots of this story, at least for these originalists, are in the Garden of Eden. Women led men into the original sin.

Some Evangelicals tend to also be white supremacists (these days) who bemoan the lack of large white families, the dearth of women who are baby factories turning out white infants to keep America white. I don’t know if you have been reading David Brooks in the NYT’s. While I would never identify Brooks as a white supremacist, he does feel that American values and our whole national psyche suffered as families lost strength. He places a lot of the blame on technology but behind his Luddite arguments are the missing elements that supposedly gave America, once upon a time, it’s sense of community. Those missing elements are moms and religion (the role of the church in community life). When women went to work, white women stopped having babies, that is the crux of the matter for Evangelicals, for white supremacists, and perhaps, in a different way, even for David Brooks.

Beyond that there is, of course, a religious belief that abortion is wrong, that God doesn’t like it and that it is probably a mortal sin, even though mortal sin is more a Catholic thing than an evangelical thing. Many believe that if they let women abort babies they are dooming their immortal soul and will never be accepted in Paradise when they leave this life. So they dictate what others can do because they feel they must for both reasons of faith and to insure their passage into heaven.

Lately Evangelicals have decided that life is so sacred that it is wrong to use birth control. Just as some schools are moving back to preaching abstinence; women are being burdened with a message that links abortion and birth control. Evangelicals seem to be saying to women, if you don’t want babies don’t be promiscuous; if you get pregnant, regardless of the circumstances, have the baby. Most of this enormous burden of judgmental religiosity is coming from men, who are responsible for every baby ever born and for the circumstances under which they are conceived (at least most of the time). Allowing this message to have power over women’s lives sends them spiraling backwards to pre-contraception days.

Donald Trump lives deep in the old Madonna-whore complex. Wives are placed on a pedestal and treated like queens (for a while at least) and other women who like their sexuality, or who exploit their sexuality, or who are exploited for their sexuality are Donald’s whores. He may also treat them well for a while, but they are not supposed to have children by him and they are definitely not squired about for public consumption. If they did get pregnant, which could happen because his pleasure comes without protection, I assume an abortion would suddenly gain favor.

And so, not totally by surprise we find this article at salon.com


“The slow drip-drip of revelations about exactly how deep Donald Trump was in with the Russians comes out on top of a veritable sea of corruption stories flooding out of the White House. But one scandal that’s getting less attention might end up having more dramatic impacts in the long run. It could end up drastically undermining women’s rights to get abortions, to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, and even to protect themselves from cancer. New evidence suggests that Trump is, in effect, selling off women’s rights to religious fundamentalists, and personally profiting from doing so.”

It is certainly true that women’s rights have moved far down on the list of media priorities. There are so many attacks on various aspects of American traditions, laws, and practices that we mostly feel like victims of whiplash. Sleaze sells better than outrage. With hush money changing hands and Stormy Daniels piquing interest or moral judgment, and lawyers dominating our news cycles women’s issues, never of great interest to anyone other than women, have fallen by the wayside. (Although, of course, the treatment of Stormy Daniels, et al, is a women’s issue.)

“It’s not unusual, especially in the era of dark money, for special interests to buy off candidates by spending lavishly on campaigns. But with the SBA List’s hotel choice and questions about the Trump-inauguration money’s final destination, there’s strong reason to worry that Trump is simply profiting directly from influence-peddling. What anti-choice activists appear to be getting in exchange is terrifying: An all-out assault on legal abortion and affordable contraception that could roll back decades of progress for women’s autonomy and reproductive health,” says Amanda Marcotte, the author of the article.

Not all women enjoy child-rearing, at least not if it is all they are allowed to do. Women tend to be born with brains as functional as those of men. When women’s brains are solely concerned with healthy baby meals and children’s literature, songs and play activities it can make a grown human woman feel brain dead. I am not saying women don’t love their children. It would be great if all of the women who thrive on child-rearing could concentrate on that pleasure. I am saying that there are women who do not find fulfillment in raising children as their sole profession. In fact there are women who become depressed if they do not have a job to do out in the world away from their family for at least part of the day. There are women who go mad if they cannot create and study and read and exercise their minds just as they exercise their bodies. Much of Freud’s oeuvrewas based on the mental states of women who were suppressed in one way or another. Limiting human endeavors can have profound effects on anyone. There is scientific data about this if only these people valued science.

What will women’s lives be like when 45 is finished with us all? Will we be under the supervision of fundamentalist religious leaders as we see in other parts of the world? We can certainly see the relevance of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and why it has returned as a popular mini-series on TV. The battle was already lost for at least 4 years when Trump was elected. We resist but we worry. Will that be enough? And 45 is being handsomely paid to help take rights away from women? That just adds insult to injury.

See new developments 5/18/2018:












Hillary Clinton, Up Against Misogyny, is a Fight Girl



I am looking forward to having our first Madam President. But there are a few things to say about the explosions of misogyny that have characterized a lot of the media coverage of the 2016 election.  You would expect this to be a normal election even though it could end in a landmark historical moment, but it has been anything but normal. At this point many may put a finger (not that finger) in the air to signify “wait a minute” or “I have just one point” and they would say, “if only that first woman wasn’t Hillary Rodham Clinton”. But it is, and despite all the cries of “fixed elections” and “rigged systems” and email and Benghazi and the Clinton Foundation she has wended her way through our complex and overheated election process to be where she is now, and I would say that she did not use the system in any way that it has not been used by men. Even if you are one of those who argue that the system needs reform, it has not been reformed yet and she has had to understand and compete within our election process as it currently is configured, flaws and all.

Psychologists tell us we all have a fight/flight instinct. We need both because there are times to flee and times to fight. But often one impulse is stronger depending on the individual. Women have fight or flight wiring too. Hillary is a fight girl. She doesn’t knuckle under, not even in her personal life. When women succumb to her husband’s charms she attacks. She is a fight girl. Women understand this and applaud it in movies, in commercials, on the internet, and when Carrie Underwood sings about it. Why do they expect Hillary to hold back when her career could be on the line?

Perhaps women resent a woman so focused on success and career. But women have had enough oppression, conscious and unconscious from men; you would think other women would understand Hillary’s ambitions. Do you think Hillary would be running as the first major party candidate for the Presidency of the United States if she hadn’t been pretty single-minded, and perhaps even a bit ruthless? We still expect women to be nice. We all like “nice” people. But there is some proverbial wisdom about this – “nice guys finish last” – and even though it has the word guys in it, the sentiment is generic. Whenever I get a load of her opponent I am glad that this is a strong woman with a well-developed fight response.

I don’t even know if it was by chance or by design that this first and very prepared woman candidate did not get to trade ideas with a real politician but instead had to take part in the Donald Trump side show, which was on the media day and night because no serious talk was interesting enough to compete. The media even replaced women commentators with men who they believed had more gravitas and could get higher ratings, which of course they did. So the only women we got to listen to were the “expert” journalists and campaign people who joined the round tables, and since someone like Kellyanne Conway pulled in higher ratings than any of the Clinton surrogates or supporters the female voices we heard most often were anti-Hillary. How did it happen that Republican men were able to make Hillary the key “monster” exhibited in the DT side show while the really freaky show stopper got away with being treated as nearly normal?

I heard the media people express some guilt about covering Trump events day after day. It is true that he held big rallies and Hillary tended to favor smaller and less spectacular events which did not qualify as “good TV”. Still the media clearly understood that Trump was using them and saving lots of ad money in the process. I suppose their jobs were on the line. But while Hillary slogged it out in a real political campaign the Trump show assailed us all nonstop. Some may not see any misogyny in this but just the fact that a ridiculous and dangerous man like DT was treated better in the media than the woman who had spent her life learning how to be a political leader suggests otherwise. After the displays men have been putting on lately I can’t wait to have a woman in the White House and as many women in the Congress as we can elect. I hope it happens in 2016. After all, Hillary Clinton is a fight girl.


Donald Trump is a Misogynist; Bill Clinton is Not

Bill Clinton may have once been a hound, but I always get the
impression that he genuinely likes women. Donald Trump says he respects women
but he is actually a misogynist.
It is true that Bill Clinton seems to have cheated on his
marriage on more than one occasion. He was “busted” for his infidelity very
publicly and I bet it was pretty humiliating and painful, although he kept an
exterior demeanor of male deniability. And it is possible that Monica Lewinsky,
although young, was involved in a scheme to entrap the then President Bill
Clinton, which meant that he had a reputation. But of course, we know of no
other male politician who used his charisma and power to attract women, young
and old, do we?
Bill Clinton never blamed Lewinsky, although he split hairs in
order to technically avoid lying when he said “I never had sex with that
woman.” He and Hillary have already gone through whatever public and private
hell they had to get through. Hillary must have expected to go through this
again when she decided to run for the Presidency. But this is old news and Bill
Clinton has also shown compassion when it comes to the plight of the women and
children around the world who live without hope. 
I’m guessing that Bill Clinton
still carries a good deal of charm and charisma with him. While I’m not sure
that he is the lady-killer he once was, he never, ever says anything, at least
I can’t think of anything he has said, that degrades women, either as a group
or individually.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, has told us that he finds
women who confront us, in any public way as biological entities to be
disgusting. He says he loves women and that he respects women, but apparently
he only really loves “Barbie”. Real women don’t all come with nipped waists,
long locks, perfect features, and exotic accents. Apparently Trump wives don’t
have to use the bathroom.
At least when speaking about his wives or his daughters  he would never give just enough fictional and
generic detail to hook into our bathroom schema and make us imagine Hillary
sitting in a place that no truly civilized person of this century would call
attention to. He did this to degrade her, to make her seem like an animal, a
peasant, to strip away any elegance she might portray. Hillary may not have
even been in the ladies room. She could have been getting a last minute
refresher in make-up.
Who is disgusting – Hillary for possibly doing something we
all have to do, or Donald Trump for painting a just-graphic-enough picture of
something he only made up. How low can you go, Mr. Trump? This has nothing to
do with political correctness, this has to do with acting civilized.
As if this were not gross enough we get treated to a trifecta
of intolerance when Trump told the crowd he was addressing about Hillary
getting “schlonged” by Obama. A “schlong” in Yiddish is a penis. Schlonged is
not a real verb although the word can be used as an adjective as in
long-schlonged. Here is anti-Semitism (cultural appropriation), Racism (if you
don’t know I just can’t tell you), and Sexism all in one handy dandy, Freudian,
ungrammatical package (oops, double-entendre). Have we ever been treated to
such a trashy display, such a bonanza of male-degrading-female schlonging in
our whole lives? We can all do gross and disgusting I suspect; we just don’t.
It makes life seem too savage, animalistic, primitive, and mean. 
Why would we elect a President who takes us to those places? We want a real
grown-up with good social skills and someone who genuinely wants to bring about
our visions of a future where people live well and where basic needs are met or
exceeded. We would like a life to perhaps include something that makes that
life seem meaningful, even if on a very simple scale. 
Donald Trump doesn’t make
me feel that any of these goals are important to him, a man who seems to wish
to leave his opponents naked and shivering in a grimy corner somewhere stripped
of all the accouterments that give our lives a veneer of progress. I just never
hear him paint a rosy picture of the America and the world he would like to
leave for those who come after. He thinks that wealth and power are the only
things that matter on this earth. Poor Donald. Poor us if we fall for this huckster.
By Nancy Brisson

Where is the Male Suppport for Roe v. Wade?

I understand why people have religious beliefs which
make overturning Roe v. Wade a matter of faith. These Americans find it
impossible to separate their religion from their politics, although most
Americans are able to link a more generalized and secular philosophical
morality to governance. However, we must resist this religious pressure and
protect our hard-won freedom because the whole issue of abortion is indeed an
issue of women’s health and women have the right to call the shots here. Women
are responsible for their own moral view; they can bear the weight of their own
sin if it is their view that not continuing an unwanted pregnancy is a sin.
Women should not have to bear the burden of other religious Americans who feel
that they are being forced to sin each time an American woman has an abortion. In
this view, if even one American has religious strictures against abortion, no
American woman should be allowed to have an abortion. But no one forces a woman
to have an abortion against her will (unless some domineering sexual partner
bullies a woman until she is intimidated to abort). This religious crusade to
root out sin is about taking away a freedom. It is a much greater “nanny state”
intrusion into our privacy and autonomy than any of the government programs so
many warn us about. Is America a brave experiment in freedom or a
fundamentalist religious state where women will be placed, once again, under
the dominion of men? [I find it more difficult to understand why anyone (even
the Catholic church) would oppose birth control when the population on our tiny
planet spinning all alone in this isolated arm of the galaxy will approach nine
billion by 2050.]

But what I have a huge problem with is the total
disconnect between men and unwanted pregnancies, as if men were not there when
the act of union took place. After all, women usually do not get pregnant by
themselves. As I understand the process, sperm and an egg must be involved. As
far as I am concerned the choice of whether or not to end a pregnancy always
rests with the woman. She is the one whose womb will be the incubator, whose life
will be turned upside down for at least nine months, whose career path may be
interrupted at great disadvantage, whose sanity may be challenged by being
forced to accept an unintended additional child, or whose very life may be
challenged by some medical aspect of the pregnancy.  But, since men often father children and then
disappear, I would think men would be supportive of the rights of women to
control the decision about whether or not to allow the rapidly multiplying
cells in her womb to turn into a human being. Being an absent progenitor can
cause lifelong guilt and expensive child support payments or complicated
continuing relationships between two people sharing a child, but not sharing a

Yesterday, in a newsletter that arrives in my email
from the Daily Kos, an admittedly lefty publication, I was treated to a report
summarizing the things Rush Limbaugh has to say about women. This man has no filter,
of course, and can spout misogynist crap just to be shocking, but his meanness
finds an audience and his arrows sometimes find a home in the hearts of those
he skewers. He has a number of nasty things to say about women who are not born
beautiful. Apparently he believes that only pretty women have a right to appear
in public, to flirt, to wish for love and marriage. He says that feminism is not
really a movement by women to gain rights to control their own lives, but is a
movement by ugly women, women who will never find a man or get married or have
a family. He calls feminists, “femin-nazis”. He says single women are “semen
receptacles” (an image that makes us wish to deny sexual relations to all men
forever) and that ugly women should wear burqas so men (especially men as
handsome as Rush Limbaugh, the old coot) don’t have to look at them.

Limbaugh on
“Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access
to the mainstream of society.”

Limbaugh on
sexual harassment
“Some of these babes, I’m telling you, like the sexual harassment crowd.
They’re out there protesting what they actually wish would happen to them

Limbaugh on the
women’s movement
“I love the women’s movement — especially when walking behind it.”

Limbaugh on
“Women still live longer than men because their lives are easier.”

Limbaugh on
breasts and intelligence
“The larger the bra size, the smaller the IQ.”

Limbaugh on
“We’re not sexists, we’re chauvinists — we’re male chauvinist pigs, and
we’re happy to be because we think that’s what men were destined to be. We
think that’s what women want.”

Limbaugh on
women’s clothing
“I’ll tell you, you women. Why don’t you just make it official, put on
some burkas and I’ll guaran-damn-tee you nobody’ll touch you. You put on a
burka, and everybody’ll leave you alone if that’s what you want.”

Limbaugh on
overweight women
“Female politicians get a pass on every aspect of their appearance. You
would never have stories about how some female politican’s fat… There
are plenty of lard-ass women in politics, and they get a total pass on

Limbaugh on
“So Ms. Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are
going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want
something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all

Here’s the link:

I did not quote the part about “semen receptacles”
because it is part of a longish rant against Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat
recently elected as governor of Virginia, but you can see the context if you
follow the link.

This is all part of the rudeness and incivility that
these radio ranters have brought to modern American discourse and I shouldn’t
even give this man a thought, except that he has an audience of “worshipers”
out there who agree with every word he says and every opinion he opines.

What I am trying to say here is that there are quite
a few men out there in America who should be a lot more active in supporting
women’s freedom to control their own reproductive health choices. It is a manly
thing to do and women, faced with the many laws that state governments are
passing to make it more  difficult (or
impossible) to have an abortion, could use their help in this matter, which we
don’t want to abdicate control over, but which does also affect you, the men in
our lives. We don’t want you to express your opinion on this issue; we want you
to fight for this right along with us and help us stop the attacks of the GOP
on women’s reproductive health issues. Help preserve Roe v. Wade and the rights
that go along with this law.

The photo is from Business Week.

This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com