Monday, November 28, 2016

My Last Post about Politics for Awhile

I'm going to write one last post about the election and its aftermath, and then move on to other topics for awhile. I'm moving on mostly because I want to write about other things as part of my effort to find and embrace the light and joy in my life. But no matter what I'm posting here, know that I'm calling congresspeople every Wednesday, writing letters, donating money, and generally trying to act in accordance with my beliefs and values. If you're ever curious what I'm doing, send me an email. And the offer still stands for anyone who might have voted differently than I did and wonders why I'm so freaked out right now: send me an email, and I will explain. As I've said before: I've lost elections before. I have never been this worried about the outcome before. I would not have been this worried about the outcome with any of the other Republican candidates. Not even Ted Cruz. My worries are less about policy (although I disagree with many Republican policy goals) and more about our democratic institutions and ideals.

So anyway, to the post. I'm going to divide it into three sections: the politicians who give me hope for the future, non-partisan acts I'm taking (and think others should consider taking), and partisan acts I'm taking (and think other Democrats should consider taking).

1. Politicians to watch

There is a lot of hand-wringing on Twitter about the lack of organized response to Trump by other politicians in either party. I would love to see more organized resistance to protect our Constitution and political norms, but I think it is too early to despair. No one expected this outcome, and so there was no pre-planned resistance. But some congresspeople are speaking up, and giving signs that they take their role as a check and balance on executive power seriously. I am by no means a professional political observer, and I haven't made a thorough review, but here is what I have noticed:

Among Republicans, Senator Sasse of Nebraska published a piece on Medium emphasizing that his first duty is to the Constitution.

And a congressman from Michigan tweeted this:

That's it on the elected Republican officials, but please tell me about any others I should watch in the comments. I genuinely hope that Republicans stand up to Trump, for the country, but also for their party. (Ezra Klein's post on this is good.)

Evan McMullin continues to speak up. Here's a recent tweet thread about the similarities between Trump's lies about the popular vote count and how authoritarians behave:

I will be curious to see what he does next and whether he manages to become a useful force for good with the Republican party or not.

A lot more Democrats are speaking up, which is not surprising. My new senator Kamala Harris has been outspoken. Harry Reid has been outspoken, too. The Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are signaling they plan to fight Sessions' appointment as Attorney General.

The Democratic members of the House Oversight Committee are continuing to call on their committee to investigate Trump's conflicts of interest.

Representative Kathryn Clark (MA) has introduced a bill requiring Presidents and Vice-Presidents to put their holdings into a true blind trust or to notify the public and the Office of Government Ethics whenever they make a decision affecting their finances.

And I'm really liking Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ). Here's an example of why:

Again, let me know if there are any other Democrats whose efforts I should be watching.

2. Non-partisan actions I'm taking

I plan to call the House Oversight Committee every week until they exercise oversight of Trump's conflicts of interests or he resolves those conflicts. Here's their phone number: 202-225-5074. If I can't get through, I'll try calling the chair, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz. If I can't get through to him, I'll start working my way through the other members.

I plan to call the House Foreign Affairs Committee to ask them to investigate the involvement of Russian hacking and disinformation in our election. Their phone number: 202-225-5021.

I'm gearing up to write long shot letters to various Republican congresspeople. Since they are not my representatives and are not chairs of key committees, I doubt they'll listen to what I say, so I'm not wasting my limited energy for making phone calls on them. Plus, writing a letter lets me present more of an argument. My most likely best case scenario is that I reach whatever staffer has to open the mail, but I'll take what I can get. Stamps are cheap.

I am going to donate to the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan law group that has long focused on voting rights (among other things).

I am going to donate to the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose work in fighting intolerance and hate I've always admired (and occasionally supported with money in the past).

If I find an organization working to bring non-partisan district drawing to more states, I'll donate to them. I've found some potential organizations (e.g., Fair Vote), but need to do more research.

3. Partisan actions I'm taking

I think the actions in section 2 might be appealing to any American worried about what the Trump presidency is going to mean. I'm also taking a couple of steps as a Democrat:

I have donated to Foster Campbell's campaign for the Louisiana Senate seat. It is a long shot, but every seat is worth fighting for.

I will donate to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, because we need to strongly contest seats in every district, and that takes money.

I will donate to the Democratic Governor's Association, because I think we need Democrats at the state level to block voter suppression laws and gerrymandering, because states can blunt the effect of national policies, and because we need to grow our "bench" of Democratic leaders.

So that's what I'm up to. Feel free to add suggestions or ask questions in the comments. Keep it civil, though! And remember, that I often can't answer comments during the day.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Weekend Reading: The Looking Ahead Edition

I hope everyone who celebrates it had a Happy Thanksgiving. And I hope those of you who don't had a nice Thursday!

We had a very nice Thanksgiving here. We hosted it, and my parents, my sister, and two of our best friends came over. We decided not to talk politics. None of us voted for Trump, so that wasn't a peace-keeping decision. More of a mood-boosting decision. And it worked. We had a very nice day, with entertainment that included a gymnastics show organized by Petunia and a raucous (and long!) game of Uno organized by Pumpkin.

So that was nice. Whether prompted by my last post about what I am thankful for or just the passing of time, my own mental fog about this election had lifted a bit in time for me to focus on enjoying Thanksgiving.

I wish I had only warm and fuzzy links for you, but that is not the world we're in right now. Here's what I do have:

The Washington Post has a write up about the way Russian propaganda influenced this election. I had understood this in real time, mostly because I was reading Talking Points Memo and they were reporting on it.

Speaking of Talking Points Memo, here's a short post about the topic, which points out that the Germans are apparently now trying to figure out how to prevent the same shenanigans in their election.

As much as I enjoy Twitter (and know that many people enjoy Facebook), I think the engineers who run those companies need to do some introspection. The "move fast and break things" ethos of Silicon Valley may very well be in the process of breaking democracy, at least in the short term. There are smart people in non-engineering fields who have been warning about some of the Twitter troll and Facebook bubble problems for awhile, but they were mostly ignored. Both Facebook and Twitter are now taking steps to address their respective weaknesses, but I think they should also commit to hiring people to be on the look out for the next exploit. To do so, though, they need to change their self-conception and basically grow up as businesses. I do not know if they can do this.

So anyway, our election happened. I would support an audit, because I think all elections should be audited (that is different from a full recount), because humans and machines make errors. I doubt an audit or a recount would change the outcome, though.

And one thing we need to remember is that Trump and the Republicans won this election, but they do not represent a majority viewpoint. The majority of Americans who voted, voted for Hillary Clinton. This is not a one time thing, either. The Republican candidate has lost the popular vote in 4 of the last 5 elections. As Ezra Klein argues, Democrats are the opposition party right now, but they are not really the minority party, and perhaps they should act like that.

And if people who favor Democratic ideas for running this country want to see those ideas actually enacted, we need to change our behavior. We focus too much on the presidency and not enough on down ballot elections. We underrate our chances of winning seats in "red states." In fact, there aren't really red states and blue states. All of our states are purple.  If we believe that Republican policies are hurting the states in which they hold power (and I do: look at what happened in Kansas and Louisiana), then the right thing to do is to field strong candidates in those states to make the case to those voters.

By the way, there's a Senate race going on in Louisiana right now. Here's the Democratic candidate's web site.

As Greg Sargent argues, there are several good reasons for Democrats to focus on the upcoming governor's races.

So, if you're a Democrat fired up to try to do something, those are a couple of ideas.

I also think we need to learn how to hold true to our values and beliefs while also recognizing that people with different values and beliefs feel strongly, too. We need to do it for strategic reasons, but also because it is the right thing to do. There's a lot of talk about people "voting against their self-interest" but I find that condescending. People's self-interest does not just include economic matters. If you look on purely economic matters, I routinely vote against my own self-interest. I vote to give myself higher taxes all the time. I do that because I don't see that as actually being against my self-interest, because my self-interest includes more than just short term financial concerns.

I assume the rural voters who vote for people whose economic policies do not actually help them have concerns beyond the financial ones, too. We can respect those concerns and look for areas in which we can address them. I do not mean we should give up on our commitment to our ideals. I mean we should look for instances where we can honor our ideals and also find common ground with people who see the world differently than we do.

Anyway, for all the focus on the white working class, there is a case to be made it was actually college-educated white people who decided this election. So maybe it is all about financial policy. We're the ones getting that tax cut, after all. But I suspect a lot of these people voted for reasons that weren't purely financial.

Finally, if you read only one link today, make it this one from Rebecca Traister, which gets at how insulting all of this talk about Democrats focusing too much on "identity politics" is. It is telling that this argument is coming almost exclusively from people who have the option to forget about "identity" if they want. I rarely get to forget about the ways in which being a woman influence how my life is lived. And I am aware I get off easy in this regard. It is insulting to tell Black people that the reason we lost this election is that they cared too much about their friends and family being shot by police officers. It is insulting to tell Muslims that they need to care less about the harassment they face.

I have not patience for those arguments. We should not stop pushing for more equal treatment for everyone, because that is a core ideal.

But we also need to think strategically. And if you're wanting to think about what we can realistically hope to achieve right now, this piece from Josh Barro is short and to the point.

And here's an interesting, well-informed look at Trump's conflict of interest problems, and what remedies are available.

That was a lot of politics. Apologies to my readers whose interests lie elsewhere. I do plan to write about other things more in the coming weeks. But I will also be writing about politics, because I care deeply about what is about to happen in my country. I will try to avoid fear-mongering and demonizing people who voted differently than me, because that doing so is not consistent with my beliefs. And I am always open to respectful discussion with people with opposing views. If you don't want to do it in my comments section, feel free to email me.

And now, I'm going to log off and go get ready to enjoy a beautiful San Diego day with my family.

But first, have a couple of bunnes:

Monday, November 21, 2016


Thanksgiving has long been my favorite of our holidays. I know that the actual history of it is not the whitewashed one we learn in school. My love for it has nothing to do with its role in our national origin myths. I love it because it is a holiday that is about friends, family, and being grateful for the good things in our lives. It is a celebration of love without any involvement of money (in the form of gifts). Don't get me wrong: I enjoy Christmas, too, and particularly enjoy the part of Christmas that involves spreading love and joy. But Thanksgiving is my favorite.

This year, I've been struggling to find the Thanksgiving spirit. Obviously, this is related to the election, but regardless of why it has gone missing, I want to find my Thanksgiving spirit. My daughters, who share my love of Thanksgiving, have drawn Thanksgiving pictures on my whiteboard and put up decorations in our living room. Pumpkin created a system for us to write what we're thankful for on cards and have it displayed for all to see.

At the same time, thinking about what would prompt us to move to New Zealand has made me more aware of what I love about our life here. We're not seriously considering moving yet, but one of the promises I made to myself was that if Trump won, I'd force myself to think about when we should leave, and that I'd insist that my husband and I discuss this. So we've started doing that, and the things on my "would make me leave" list seem so surreal, but then so do a lot of things right now. And the things that pop into my head as counterpoint, the things I'd lose if we left, seem so real. But of course, this is why I insisted we do this exercise.

So anyway, in the interests of both honoring the counterpoints screaming in my head and searching for my Thanksgiving spirit, I am going to write an incomplete list of things I'm thankful for.

My kids. Obviously. They are the best. They bring me so much joy. Petunia's hugs are a tonic for my soul. Pumpkin's complicated play schemes delight me. I have such good kids.

Let's skip the other obvious ones, not because I'm not thankful for my husband, my family, my friends, and my health, but because I don't want to bore you or nauseate you. But I don't take any of those things for granted.

And where things get interesting is in the smaller details.

I'm grateful for the hammock my family got me for my birthday this year. Just climbing into it relaxes me. And hammock naps are the best naps.

I discovered I love my backyard avocado tree. I was not a big avocado fan when we moved in, and I'm still not. But I have come to love guacamole, particularly when homemade with avocados picked from our tree. And I just love the tree. It is a big, old tree. A neighbor told us that the original owner of the house planted it from a pit in the year they moved in, which would make it more than 50 years old.

I'm grateful for our house. Now that we've done the addition, it feels like it is just the right size. There are still things I'd like to fix, but it is a good house, and I'm glad we bought it.

I'm grateful for the view from the corner of my street. I see this view whenever I walk to my kids' school. It is a view out to Mission Bay and then the ocean. It is particularly lovely in the fall, at sunset.

My Friday afternoon rollerblade by the bay is one of the best parts of my week. I am so thankful that my current work arrangement allows me the flexibility to do this. (For what it is worth, my husband does something similar with bike rides, and he has a full time job, so while being my own boss makes this easier, it is not the only way to get this flexibility. We should remember that, and work to make this flexibility available to everyone. We could do that.)

I am thankful I've been able to travel and see so much of the world. Every place I've gone has added something to my life.

I am grateful for art, and music, and books, which all bring joy and richness to my life.

I am glad I took up crocheting this year. All those people who go on and on about how nice it is to make something physical with your own hands... yeah, I see their point.

My kids have so many great friends. They have friends from day care and friends from school and friends from their extracurricular activities. They are all wonderful. It makes me happy to see my kids enjoying their friends so much.

My kids love their school. They love what they're learning, and they feel welcome and happy at school.

My kids have also found activities they really love. Petunia likes art class, Pumpkin likes playing the piano. They both love gymnastics.

I am grateful for this blog and for Twitter. Through them, I have found friends, learned from people from different backgrounds and with different areas of expertise, and found opportunities I never imagined. People like to talk about social media as a meaningless time sink, but that hasn't been my experience at all.

I could probably go on if I tried. But it is time for me to go make dinner for those awesome kids of mine. So I'll stop here. Tell me what little things you're thankful for in my comments, if you want.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Weekend Reading: Looking for Light in Dark Times Edition

I'm still oscillating between hope and despair, and I imagine I will be for quite awhile. I'm working on how to be OK in this new way of things. And, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, I'm working through some personal emotions of what this election was like to experience as an ambitious woman.

I'm sifting through what news I need to care about and follow and what I can filter out in the interest of my own sanity. I've decided I will not read any analysis or punditry about "what went wrong." I will not read any article arguing about what strategy Democrats in Congress should take now. I don't care which groups Trump did well with or why. He did not hide what he planned to do, and as we're seeing with his first picks for his administration, he's following through on what he said his administration would be like. I'll leave it to other people to analyze why people signed up for this. I don't care.

I will stay informed about how the Trump administration is taking shape, mostly so I can know which elected officials I should be contacting to remind of their Constitutional duty, and why. I may call or fax the House Oversight committee weekly until either they provide some oversight on Trump's conflicts of interest or Trump himself acts to resolve those conflicts. As I wrote yesterday, the situation Trump has created is unprecedented and his current plan seems to be to just ignore the problems this creates. Here's another summary of the issue, if you need one. This is the one little bit of strategy in which I am indulging. I suspect that if something takes Trump down, it will be this, similar to how it was tax evasion that brought down Al Capone. Also, I fear that if we allow this situation to continue, we will corrupt our republic in a way that it will take generations to repair.

I will keep speaking out about the rise in hate speech and crimes and the appointments of unacceptably and openly bigoted people to the Trump administration. I think that people of color are going to suffer profoundly under this administration, and that is a moral blot on all of us. Hard won protections are going to be stripped away and we already know that preventing this is not a priority for the majority of white people, because Trump's campaign was not subtle on this point and they voted for him anyway. This breaks my heart more than anything else in this post-election mess.  All I know is that I cannot be a silent witness to this, so I will keep speaking out.

Beyond that, I don't know. I'm working to build my own source of light to keep next to my moral compass and my panic "flee now" button.

So anyway, some links.

If you read only one link this week, I'd say read Liel Libovitz on the lessons of his grandfather about Trump.

If you want more advice on how to approach the age of Trump, Sarah Kendzior's advice comes from a unique intersection of knowledge or authoritarianism and of Trump's base. Her advice to write a list of things you won't do rings true to me.

If you're looking for something to give you a bit of hope we'll come through OK, Heather Cox Richardson's history of the late 1800s might be what you want to read.

But then Matt Yglesias' article about the risk of systemic corruption will probably crush that hope.

Baratunde Thurston tries to explain that empathy needs to go both ways.

If you're still trying to understand that nice people can do racist things, this thread might help:

This interview with a man who has made a fortune off of fake news makes me want to scream. He has built his company off of lying to people. That is wrong, and was always wrong, even when the only effect was making people feel bad about being duped. That he recognizes he might have influenced the election to elect a President he says he hates and then says that he's going to keep publishing fake news anyway is pretty amazing. He is hurting people for money. Surely he can find a better way to pay his bills.

This essay about talking to our daughters now made me cry. I am so grateful for all the heroines I can point out to my daughters.

How about some happy news: remember Batkid? He's doing great.

One of the things I'm doing to hold on to my own source of light right now is appreciating art more. Look at the motion in this beautiful painting.

And of course, there are the bunnies:

Bunnies always bring light.

Now I'm off to rollerblade. Wishing you all a great weekend.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fundamental Values and Talking to Kids about Religion

First, in election response news: 

There's an effort underway to get the House Oversight committee to have a bipartisan review of Trump's plans for resolving his many conflicts of interest. Apparently, they're tabulating the calls they get and plan to decide before the Thanksgiving break, so call now if you're interested. This should, in my opinion, be a fairly non-controversial and bipartisan thing. It won't be, but it should. One of the great tragedies of our current political temper is that we've lost the ability to remember what values we truly share across the political spectrum. Unsurprisingly, we don't even agree on what has led us to this sad state of affairs. I don't know, but I'm going to keep acting as if it really were still possible to have bipartisan consensus on things pertaining to my government, hence this note at the opening of this post.

Trump's plan to pass control over his companies to his kids and then have his kids still involved in his Presidency is... unprecedented and really problematic. Presidents and Vice-Presidents usually handle the potential conflict of interest caused by their financial holdings by putting the holdings into a blind trust. Trump has called his proposed arrangement a blind trust, but it is not one. The people running the company won't be blind to what the government is up to (heck, so far, they've been in the meetings!) and I have serious doubts that Trump will be blind to what his business holdings are up to. I won't go into more detail here, if you're curious, the NY Times has a short opinion piece on the matter. The ranking Democrat (Elijah Cummings) has already requested a hearing, but that needs agreement from some Republicans on the committee to go anywhere. I don't know what Trump should do with his business holdings, but I do know he shouldn't be allowed to wave away the question. The job of the Oversight committee is to prevent members of the executive branch from waving away questions like this.

So anyway, if that is something you're concerned about, too, the phone number for the House Oversight committee is 202-225-5074. People are reporting trouble getting through, so you can also consider calling one of the members, particularly if that member is your representative.

But I don't really want to talk about the election right now. I've come to realize I need to do some healing over what this entire election- not just the result- did to me. I am going to take a little time to do that. I may blog about it, I may not. 

For tonight, I want to tell you a story, and then ask for your help.

Last Friday, Petunia called me into the bathroom as she was drying off after her shower to tell me that on New Year's Day she would say happy birthday to the Earth, because it would be 2017 years old. I laughed and explained that no, the earth was much, much older than 2017 years. She wanted to know why we said it was 2016, then. So I explained about how we count years from the year in which we think Jesus Christ was born. And then she wanted to know more about why we'd pick his birth year as our Year 1. 

So I tried to explain... and somehow we ended up with me trying to explain about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I did my best, but I am afraid that the main things she got from that discussion were the names of the houses of worship and the days of worship.

I'd like to do better. I can do a decent job of explaining the history of each religion. The course I took for my "Civilizations" requirement in college was called Near Eastern Civilizations, and covered the rise of all three of those religions, and then some. I really enjoyed that course, and amazingly, a fair amount of what I learned has stuck. But she wasn't really asking about the history.

One of my fundamental values is that we should respect everyone's religious beliefs, no matter what we ourselves believe. I am on the atheist-leaning end of agnosticism. My husband is an atheist. But I still try to teach my kids about religions, and I expect them to respect their friends' beliefs.

So, here's my request for help: If you practice a religion, use the comments to tell me what you'd want my kids to know about your religion. 

It is only fair that I go first. I'll tell you what I'd want your kids to know about agnostics and atheists: That not believing in a religion doesn't mean not believing in a value system, and that it doesn't even mean not believing in meaning higher than yourself. What I do believe in is respect for all people and for our earth. I believe that humans can create things of transcendent beauty, and that when they do we should revel in that. I believe it is our duty to try to help our fellow people, not because that is what any god commands, but because that is what our humanity commands. And I believe in the Golden Rule.

So, now: your turn, if you'd like. What should I tell my kids about your religion?

Update: The post is about "peoples of the Book" because that is where the questions came from. But I'd like to talk to my kids about all religions, so if you are Buddhist, Hindu, or any other religion, please feel free to answer!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Next Steps

My husband has been telling me that perhaps I should get off social media, because it is making me sad. I told him that the facts of the situation we're in are what are making me sad. Social media right now is helping me more than it is hurting me, because it is helping me clarify my thinking about how I am going to respond. I need to respond, both to be able to live with  myself in the future and to be able to feel less hopeless now.

I will admit that immediately after the election, my social media feeds were pretty grim. OK, they're still pretty grim. But over the weekend, people started posting things that were more helpful than despairing.

There are three specific things that gave me real hope yesterday. If you're still feeling hopeless, maybe these will help you, too.

First, Josh Marshall, the publisher of Talking Points Memo, published a post about TPM turning 16, which included his pledge as publisher:

"No journalism can be worth its name without basic fairness and fundamental honesty. Balance is the handmaiden of normalization and deception.

So this is our pledge. We will be fair and we will be focused. Our values, as they've always been but now with a renewed and more urgent focus, are the rule of law, open government and democracy. "

In that post, he also wrote:

"But the President is not the state. The President is not the law. We have over two centuries of tradition of open and free government, very imperfect at first in all the ways we know about and improved over time, and still imperfect. Those traditions have been handed down more or less intact over more than two centuries. Donald Trump is merely a temporary and transient power in this long tradition. He is legitimate only as long as he operates within it. To my mind, what is important is that this is my republic. Trump is my President. But the first fact is infinitely more important than the second. Indeed, the latter is irrelevant outside the context of the former.

A republic is far, far stronger than any one leader. But it cannot be any stronger than the people who make it up. We will need to get back to what is normal as quickly as we can as a country. But we also need to remember and mark what is normal and acceptable as a reference point to return to, perhaps a reinvigorated normal. There's no way of knowing how much these two things will come into conflict. But we don't need to. Our republic and its traditions are our guide star regardless."

I think this is a good thing to keep in mind as we go forward as members of the loyal opposition. We are loyal to our republic, and our republic is made up of us. How we treat each other matters now more than ever. That is why I feel so strongly that leaders of all sorts need to speak out against the hate speech and racially motivated incidents that are occurring. We, the people, need to make it clear that this is not what we want in our republic.

But Marshall's post was a reminder that I am part of that republic, too. I can speak up on my own and try to combat the isolation I suspect many people in marginalized communities are feeling right now. I can speak up on social media, but that is not really reaching the people who need to hear what I want to say. So, I've decided to write a letter to my local mosque (and it is local: I drive past it every time I drive to my main client site) to tell their community that I am glad they are a part of my community.

I will need to do more later. I may even find myself in a situation where I need to intervene against hate speech or worse in person. But right now, I can write a letter. That is simple.

Then, I came across two things reminding me that Donald Trump is the head of an extremely unstable coalition. Their interests are at times directly opposed. We can exploit that.

Jonathan Chait wrote about the instability in the Trump coalition, with some ideas for how to respond to it.

Jeet Heer tweeted out a strategy idea to use Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare as a wedge issue to both cause cracks in the Trump coalition and to help build Democratic strength in down ballot elections. I was going to insert the tweets, but he has helpfully turned this into an article now.

And here's another Jeet Heer twitter thread about picking which fights to focus on:

I sincerely hope that the Democrats don't devolve into their usual in-fighting. I have zero influence there, but if someone asked me, I'd say pick Keith Ellison as the new DNC chair ASAP and be done with it. He's progressive, from the midwest, and by all accounts very smart.  Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two of our most popular senators, are behind him. Make Dean the head of some special "50 state strategy" committee or something and MOVE ON.

I can't really influence what happens at the DNC, but I've been thinking about how to make my actions also work to push on the cracks in the Trump coalition. Sure, I'll call my congresspeople (it has to wait until Wednesday, when I'm home during the day). But... my congresspeople are all Democrats and already persuaded to fight like hell.

I don't normally think it does much good to contact other congresspeople: they don't represent me. But these are not normal times. And I think there might be some value in reminding Paul Ryan that everyone is watching. So I'll write him a letter. I think Mitch McConnell is too far gone to craven partisanship to care, but while I'm writing, I might write to him, too. My current plan is also to donate to the ACLU in honor of Paul Ryan, so he gets a letter from them to remind him of the Constitution he has sworn to uphold.

And there is someone else I can write to. Someone who was just elected to represent all of us. No, not Donald Trump. I don't think he cares about anything except himself and the adulation of crowds. I'm going to write to Mike Pence, who has portrayed himself as a deeply moral man. I disagree with a lot of what his morals tell him, but I will take him at his word on his religious beliefs. On Twitter, I asked for help in coming up with Bible verses to quote to him to help remind him of the immorality of the racial hatred his new colleagues are promoting.

I got great responses. I am reading them, and will incorporate at least a couple into my letter to Mike Pence. I've been asked to share that letter when I write it. I will do so. I've got some ideas bouncing around in my head now, but haven't drafted it yet.

If you live in a state or district with Republican representatives or senators, your voice can be particularly powerful, particularly on the Bannon issue. I suspect many congresspeople are disgusted by him, but they are probably also afraid of the Trump voters. Speak up and let them know they should fear you, too.

On the Medicare issue, Josh Marshall is collecting answers from people's reps. They're mostly dodging. As a former Arizonan, I think Senators Flake and McCain are particularly vulnerable here. Arizona has a sizable AARP contingent, which is famously powerful in local elections. And they may not be inclined to fall in line here: Flake was a vocal Never Trumper and McCain reportedly loathes Trump, who mocked his war service. I might write to them on the basis of my former link - McCain was my Senator when I was growing up - but it won't be a focus for me, because I doubt they care what a Californian thinks of them.

Another issue that might be a good wedge is the likely corruption we are about to witness. Once again, TPM has a good summary of the issue. Vox's Matt Yglesias has been talking about this, too. Here is his article about how the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee has called for hearings.  This is a textbook case of why the House has oversight responsibilities. This is no drummed up scandal, but a real break from norms. Interestingly, the chair of the committee is Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican who struggled with his vote. I suspect the Utah contingent in general is a good one to target to splinter the Trump coalition. Trump is not even that popular with Republicans in their state. Committee membership might get shuffled in the new session, but if your congressperson is on the committee now, you might consider contacting them about this, too.

And that's all I have right now. I'm feeling a bit more hopeful. We'll need to fight, but we aren't beaten yet.

Share more ideas in the comments, if you'd like.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Getting Out of My Head

I've taken some action, which makes me feel a little better. I finished sending money to all the news organizations I'd identified to send money to. Some of them got more than I initially planned, which maybe makes up a bit for my delay in finishing that task.

I haven't started making donations yet, because I want to think and do some research to figure out where to send my money.  For instance, I only learned about the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee today, and I think I'll end up giving to them. I need to do some research. I've also seen the people posting that they've donated to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence's name. I'm thinking my eventual donation to the ACLU will be in the name of Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell, hoping to remind them that their duty is to the country and the Constitution, not their party. I don't expect them to change their political beliefs and not try to repeal Obamacare or anything like that. But I do expect them to speak up to denounce racist intimidation of people.

I also want to find ways to use my time, too. One thing I plan to do is write letters to Congressional leaders asking them to repudiate the increase in hate speech and racist attacks. My own elected leaders have already done this, but I expect our national leaders to do so as well. This should not be controversial. They should have no fear in saying something like "Swastikas are symbols of hatred, and have no place in our country." I'd like to remind them of that. I'll let you know if I get any responses.

Beyond that, I haven't decided what to do. I'd like to volunteer with a group, but haven't figured out which one.

But mostly, I've been thinking about how I'm going to get out of my head a bit, so that I can sleep better and eat better again. Tonight's dinner was the first meal that really tasted good since Tuesday night. I keep waking up earlier than normal, remembering what we've done to our country, and starting to cry. Obviously, I need to get a grip.

So today, I started to make a plan to get out of my head. I spent some time reading. I finished the sleeping bag I have been making for Petunia's teddy bear. I took my daughter to one of our favorite parks by Mission Bay and spent some time staring at the water and the birds.

I also realized I have been remiss in telling you guys about a couple of publishing related things:

I can vouch for how nice it is to escape into a good book, so check those out!

Also, I keep recommending the novella An Etiquette Guide for the End Times, by Maia Sepp. It is not one of the books I've published, but it is lot of fun, and might give you some comfort about getting through the end times.

What are you "get a grip" recommendations? Good escapist books to read? Tell me in the comments, or talk about whatever you want, really.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Weekend Reading: The Onward Edition

I broke my cardinal rule of Facebook and posted something that wasn't a picture of my kids or about our travels. I posted something about the election result, and wanting to make sure hate speech doesn't become normal. So far, so good. The only slight argument was from exactly who I expected it to be from. I have said I won't engage in argument except in private messages, because the examples of actual real people for whom I worry are not mine to share in public. We'll see if she contacts me. I'm going to try to explain the worry if she does. I want the "it will be OK" folks to understand why a lot of us don't trust in that.

Anyway, on to the links.

First some perspective on how amazing it is that Hillary got as far as she did:

Dr. Jen Gunter on not giving up, because most of our advances don't happen on the first try.

Christina Wolbrecht on the historical context of Hillary's run.

She won the popular vote. By a substantial margin.

Some news that apparently doesn't bother any Republican leaders much:

Russia acknowledges they were in contact with the Trump campaign.

Trump is already breaking long held democratic norms, and why it matters.

Racist emails at Penn, apparently sent from a group in Oklahoma.

I haven't heard any Republican leader say anything about the hate speech and scattered racist attacks that are being reported. If I had a Republican representing me in Congress, I'd consider writing to ask why. As it is, I wish a reporter or two would take it upon themselves to call every single Republican in elected office in this country until they can find someone willing to denounce this. Report back to us what they say. Contact Trump's staff after every single reported incident to ask for comment, and let us know what they say.

(Speaking of the press: the press outlets we respect need our support right now. They are gearing up for legal battles, too. I've started back in on my list of press outlets to support. I hope you'll all make your own lists and support how you can. We need our free press more than ever.)

Trump's "blind trust" is not blind:

Everything we know about how Trump has behaved to date tells us he is going to try to extract as much money as he can from being President. This is not normal, and it definitely is not OK.

And who knows? Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell may get screwed over by Trump, too. He's all over the place about Obamacare.

If someone tells you we just need more empathy for the white rural voter, here are a couple of things to send them:

Patrick Thornton, who grew up in rural Ohio and now lives in DC, writes persuasively that the people in the bubble are his friends back home.

Still, I'm happy to learn more about the problems whites in rural America face. In return, I'd like them to think about how hard it is to explain this election result to a child who is brown. I'm sending this link to everyone who sends me those Cracked articles from now on. I have struggled to answer my children's questions. My kids are two privileged white kids who are at no increased risk for teasing (or worse) because of this election result, and I have struggled. Spare a thought for our fellow parents who have a much harder explanation to navigate.

On moving forward:

A letter from Leslie Knope, written by one of the writers on Parks and Rec.

The SPLC's post about responding to everyday bigotry.

David Frum asks if the Republican party can contain Trump. It doesn't look to me like they're trying, to be honest. Which means Democrats in Congress will have to be very smart about how they work with what power they have to contain him. This is why I hope we don't get into a stupid drawn out fight over who should be the next DNC chair. We have more important tasks at hand.

Speaking of the Democrats: Kamala Harris (my new senator) puts Trump on notice.

California's state legislative leaders are ready for a fight to protect all Californians.

Surviving in an autocracy. (This one you might want to read with a good stiff drink, if that is your sort of thing. That it is the "freedom isn't free" crowd who brought us here will be hilariously ironic to future historians, I'm sure.)

Ken White of Popehat on what we do now.

Brian Beutler's comparison to a hurricane is a good one. We don't really know how bad it will be, but we should still prepare.

Charles M. Blow signs up for the resistance.

Facebook is facing criticism for its problem with fake news. Mark Zuckerberg's case that it doesn't spread fake news is perhaps undermined by the fact that today, Facebook declared a lot of very much alive people dead. It is impossible not to laugh at this. Here are my favorite jokes:

Hold onto and share the good response stories, to remind us that we can do this:

And finally, we need some fun to replenish us for our fight. Here, have a rap about Homo floresiensis:

And a bunny, ready to fight:

Coincidentally, that is my new pinned tweet, too.

Wishing us all luck and as much happiness as we can create in the days ahead.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Report from Day Two: Consulting My Moral Compass

My report from day two is that I only cried a few times and I ate better. It was my first day in an office: Wednesdays, I work from home, mostly on my own projects. Thursdays, I'm onsite at a client. Even today, faces were pinched. Smiles were rare and hard won. One of my colleagues told me that yesterday was surreal. People were dazed.

Another colleague told me that there were racially-motivated incidents at both of her kids' schools yesterday. It was relatively minor: some jerk saying mean, racist things. She said the high schoolers shut it down on their own, with no adult help. The middle schoolers needed help. I was both sickened and encouraged by her story. Her kids go to school in one of the suburbs people move to if they worry about the "rough" schools like ours (which, for the record, is not "rough"). On one hand, it sucks that this happened. On the other hand, it was shut down immediately and decisively, by white kids, their teachers, and their parents.

A third colleague tried to tell us that the world had not changed that much. He meant to help. He was not a Trump voter. But I still felt I had to push back. I told him I am worried for some of my daughter's friends. (I named them, but their story is not mine to tell, so won't describe it here.) He was taken aback, but I think we need to do that, as much as we are able. Put specifics on why we're worried.

When I wrote yesterday that I thought we all needed to consult our inner moral compasses, I meant it. I've been consulting mine.

I've been thinking about which battles are essential, and which battles are winnable. I've been thinking about what I can stand to see used as a bargaining chip, and what I think we can not bend on. It has not been happy thinking.

I want to be clear here: this is the result of consulting MY inner moral compass. YOUR inner moral compass may tell you differently, and I think that is right and good (unless your inner moral compass tells you that racism is OK and can be appeased- if it does that, it needs a tune up). From all of our different priorities and approaches, we will save as much as we can, maybe even more than any of us think we can.

Anyway, my inner moral compass is a bit depressed, but here is what it tells me right now.

I have resigned myself to the loss of all Supreme Court rulings we depend on. I do not think we can save them. If some are saved, it will be because of John Roberts' conscience and the specific lines of his legal reasoning, and there is nothing much we can do, I think, unless we're a lawyer called to argue a case.

That is a hard loss to take, but it can be mitigated. Losing the rulings will mostly revert decisions on things like abortion and same-sex marriage to the states. This is not at all my ideal, but there is a lot of room for mitigation there. Travel funds can be set up to help people travel for abortions. Local action can be taken to preserve the right to an abortion as broadly as possible. Most people, even among the most single-issue voting abortion opponents, favor allowing abortion to save the life of the mother. A lot of people favor allowing it in cases of rape and incest. More than you suspect, even in red states, are OK with "safe, legal, and rare." We have room to work, and we must take up that work, or women will die. We also need to work to spread information about birth control in states where it is not as easily available. I hope to see some creative ideas on this, since the internet provides lots of avenues to get the message out. But I also know Planned Parenthood is gearing up for the effort.

Similarly, on LGBTQ rights, it will still be illegal to beat someone up. We need to work to make sure that is enforced. There are legal funds we can donate to to help with that. I do not know which are the best groups here, but I plan to find out. Similarly, legal defense funds can help people who need help getting the legal paperwork in place to mimic the rights provided by marriage. Same-sex marriages will remain legal and recognized in many states. All of us can vow to treat people as married if they are married, no matter what the law in our particular state says. In the time since same-sex marriage was a fiercely contested culture war issue, public opinion on it has changed. It is more broadly favored. If we take this fight to the states, we might find we win in places we did not expect to. Again, FAR from my ideal, but there is room to work.

I think we came to rely too much on the court, and not enough on elected offices, particularly in "red states," and that was a mistake. I've actually thought that for awhile: change handed down from a group of Supreme Court justices is always going to be harder to accept than change that comes from your own elected representatives. I don't disparage the good those rulings did, but there are other ways, and we may find that those other ways actually get us farther. 

For instance, I know of a few single-issue voters who I suspect might be persuaded to vote Democrat once Roe v. Wade is no longer their sole focus. We might gain some allies in other fights that we did not expect. 

On the environment, well, we're screwed for awhile in terms of the federal government. But state and local governments can be pushed to act. Non-profits are acting, and can use our money. We can talk to our friends and family about making changes where they can. We face more global warming than we would have under a Clinton administration, but again, there is room to work.

Our safety net is likely to be eviscerated. This is going to hurt a lot of people. I am not exaggerating when I say I think people will die. This is where most of my financial mitigation is going. I am going to be a hell of a soft touch for medical GoFundMe campaigns. I'll be increasing our donation to the food bank and the local group that helps families in crisis. I need to look for where my money will be most helpful in other places. Trump, Ryan, and McConnell plan to give me a tax cut.  I do not need a tax cut. I am determined to use as much of it as I can to help those who actually needed it. 

Where I come up short is on mitigation ideas is on immigration and racism. 

You cannot mitigate "your parents are being deported," not really. Sadly, I also think this is one of the fights that will be hardest to win. It was Trump's signature issue. There is no disputing that many people are in this country without legal status. The ACLU will fight where there is legal room. Perhaps our representatives in congress can find scope for negotiation here, and soften the blow. Since I live in a border city, I will be looking for local groups who might be able to soften the impact as well.

The rise of racism is already apparent. Paul Ryan's unfortunate decision to call this a time for "redemption" was horrifying. I literally gasped when I read that quote. The best case scenario is that he did not realize the implications of that choice of words. Even that is unforgivable, because it betrays who he thinks US history is about. But what if he knew and did it on purpose? Then we cannot count on him to help check the newly energized Breitbart wing of the Republican party at all. That is horrifying. We need everyone who is willing to push back on the racism and targeting of ethnic and religious groups. Everyone, no matter what they did during the election. 

There is no mitigation for racial violence, either. World history provides us many examples of just how bad this can get. Hell, US history provides us plenty of horrifying examples. Lynching is not that far in our past. We must fight with all our might to stop the rise of racial violence. I do not know what that fight is going to look like, but we white people can start with contradicting racist speech whenever we encounter it. We can refuse to tolerate it, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us. We must continue to insist that it is unacceptable even as Trump and the people he puts in his administration accept and affirm it. 

While I don't have ideas for how to fight this hate, the people at the Southern Poverty Law Center have been doing this for a long time. They have ideas, and they can use money. They probably have resources on their site, too. I'll be looking for them.

We must not allow hate speech to be normalized, because that dehumanizes the targets of it, and makes it easier to convince people to sign on to terrible policies that hurt them.

Beyond that, I don't know. I am open to hearing ideas. Feel free to add ideas in my comments below.

I put racism (and even that word seems to gentle for what I fear) last, but it is actually my top priority. It is where I think we have to resist most strongly. And yet, it is where I have the fewest ideas. 

I have been encouraged by the robust response from the ACLU and the SPLC, from Senators Warren and Sanders, and from other Democratic leaders. I feel they will fight as hard as they can, but we cannot rely on them alone. We all must find our way to resist this, especially white people who are least at risk. We must fight the racism and hate from the start, or we will find that it is too late to do so. Trump has openly admired strongman, undemocratic leaders. It is not alarmist to worry for our civil liberties, and if we let those be curtailed, the fight for everything else will be much harder. The ACLU is clearly ready for this fight, and we must support them.

I told a friend in email today that I do not feel like I've lost my country, and that is true. This ugly racism was always here. I do feel like we have been conned by people within our country and by a foreign power into turning away from our better natures. Or, I should say, I feel like some portion of us have. I fight not to regain my country, but to turn us back to our better nature. I fight to protect my fellow citizens, and yes, my country.

I am not particularly interested in participating in the arguments about what caused Trump to win. There were many factors, and the question I think is whether each thing identified is harmful now or not. If it is harmful, we should work to change it. If it is no longer a risk, we should learn what lessons it offers and then move on. I don't care if someone didn't vote, voted a protest candidate, or even voted for Trump. If they want to help push back against any of the harmful things I think are coming, I personally will be glad to have their help. If someone looks at the list of what I think is at risk and does not agree with all of it, I don't care. I'll take their help on the parts they agree with. We have too much at risk to indulge in pointless recriminations or refuse to accept allies.

One thing I will not bend on, though: that all people are inherently equal and worthy of respect and deserve the chance to live their life in an authentic way. If you don't agree with me on that, we probably won't find much common ground. 

So, that's what my moral compass is telling me. I find it helpful to think of what we might do to fight, but I'm not yet ready to actively engage. I need a bit more time to grieve that this fight is necessary. And I think I need to also consider where I will put my time and energy, and where I will have to be content with putting only money. There is too much here for me to do, so I must prioritize and trust that others will prioritize differently and that in doing so, we will cover it all.  I need to think about how I will maintain the rest of my life and continue to find joy, because I must. I have to think about how I will help my children understand the coming years, because I must. That will come first, and I may or may not be more quiet here than I planned while I do that. 

But soon, I will be ready to engage and fight. Because I must.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Well, This Sucks

It goes without saying that I was surprised and disappointed in the outcome of the election. I am sad that come January, we'll have President Trump. I am not interested in dissecting what went wrong for Hillary Clinton, and to be honest, I may never be. I had hoped to see her win for many reasons bigger than myself. But I had come to realize that her winning would help me expel some of the poison I absorbed during the 90s, which were, as I noted on Twitter yesterday, a very tough decade for ambitious women. That was not to be, but that I'll need to find a different way to move past the crap I internalized is not the tragedy of the night. I am heartbroken that a new generation of women has just learned what I learned from the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings in 90s: that in fact, men often really can get away with treating us terribly and still advance to the highest peaks of their professions.

But honestly, even that is less heartbreaking to me than the message this election sends to Black people, Muslims, Latinos, and really all people of color. My husband, ever the optimist, believes that a lot of people voting for Trump did not intend to send a racist message. If that is true, I hope those Trump supporters will join the rest of us in repudiating the rise in racism that seems to surely be coming, because the racist message was indeed received, not just by the people of color but by hate groups like the KKK.

I think voter suppression in Wisconsin and North Carolina played a role yesterday, and I think Republicans should be ashamed of the fact that they are turning to voter suppression to win. But I also think this election shouldn't have come down to the votes of people of color. A majority of white people decided to elect Donald Trump, and we will need to reckon with that to find our path forward to the better country I think we can become. No, I don't know how we reckon with that. Waiting out the inevitable demographic change is too slow for me, and the number of white millennials who voted for Trump reinforces the message that racism and sexism are self-propagating. If we want to overcome them, we will have to work for it, not wait for it.

I want us to find a way to reach across the divide so that next time (and make no mistake, there will be a next time), more white people recognize the racist message of their vote and refuse to send it. Awhile back, I tweeted that I thought the people from "Trump country" explaining those voters to the rest of us would be more useful doing the reverse: explaining us and our reality to the Trump voters. I hope some of them take up that work. Somehow, I want to find a way to contribute to that, although the only attribute I have that would recommend me to a Trump voter is my white skin.

But those are thoughts for another day, a few weeks from now maybe, when the reality has settled in and no longer churns my stomach.

For today, I am hoping for the best as Trump builds his transition team and then his cabinet. I am celebrating the growth in the number of women in color in the Senate. They will fight hard for what is right. I know that some will want the Democrats in the Senate to turn the filibuster against Trump as the Republicans used it against Obama, but I would prefer they save it for the egregious cases. Save its power to block appointees from the Breitbart wing of the party. In other cases, negotiate and try to find a way to protect what we can of the Obama legacy.

We need to get used to the idea that large portions of that legacy will be rolled back, and we need to decide which portions we will try to save. My heart also breaks for the people worrying about whether they'll have health insurance this time next year. I will be interested to see what the Republicans propose in place of the things they want to roll back. So far, all I know is that they want to cut my taxes. I've heard Trump wants to start with an investment in infrastructure, and I actually agree with that (and so did Hillary Clinton), so I'll be happy for it if it comes to pass.

I still believe Trump is a threat to our democracy. If any of the worst of the things he promised on the campaign trail come to pass, I think history will be a harsh judge for the Republicans who saw the danger but did nothing to stop it. But I don't hope for that outcome. I hope for the best: an incompetent, embarrassing President who does some damage but who leaves office when his time comes. You can be sure I'll be working to elect Democrats to congress in 2018 and to make Trump's time in office end in 2020.

But that, too, is work for another day. For today, I will fall back on what I learned from my years growing up as a Democrat in a very Republican area of Arizona. In those days, I learned to accept that I would often be on the losing side, but that it was worth speaking up for and working for what you believe in, anyway. Have a good cry, and then get back to work.

I learned that one of the best things to do when the policy decisions don't go your way is to look for ways to mitigate the harm you think they will do. You'll feel better, and you'll do some good in the process.

And I started to learn the value of a strong internal moral compass, although I was too young then to really know how it would be tested. I hope everyone in this country spends some time today locating their internal moral compass, and thinking about what beliefs are up for temporary compromise for the greater good and what values cannot be bent. I especially hope that everyone in government thinks about that today. We have given them a heavy burden to bear, I fear.  The rest of us need to have their backs if they have to stand up to any egregious orders.

And yes, as I wrote earlier this year, I'll be staying here and working to make this right. I still think there is a center to hold. But my husband and I have started talking about when we would leave.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Beach Walking

I went for a walk on the beach on Wednesday. I was in Pacific Beach to drop off my mail ballot, and I was owed a celebratory walk from publishing Small and Spooky... so I took a walk.

My shell haul wasn't that great.

But it was a beautiful day and as usual, walking near the ocean just felt good. I could feel my shoulder muscles unknotting, and my sense of joy returning. It made me wonder just how much I'd give up to live close enough to the beach to be able to walk on it every morning. My backyard? Definitely, particularly once the kids are older. At least 500 square feet off my house size? Ummm.... that might need to wait until the kids are out of the house. The ability to walk to my kids' school? No way.

So, I'll just make the drive (admittedly a short one) and visit the beach occasionally, instead of starting every day there.

I should try to swing more frequent walks there, too. My kids like walking on the beach almost as much as I do. Maybe we can go more often on the weekends. I could go walk on the beach instead of going for a rollerblade by the bay on Friday afternoons, but I like my rollerblade routine a lot, too. When it isn't crowded, there are lots of birds. And I like the motion of rollerblading.

Clearly, the only answer is that I need to meet more goals so that I can take celebratory walks more often. The next Annorlunda Book release isn't until January 4. I could meet some sales goals with other books, but that is likely to be a stretch. The most likely goal I could meet before the next book release relates to the growth of the Tungsten Hippo mailing list. As it happens, I've decided to start running monthly giveaways on Tungsten Hippo, and maybe that will help build the list. I posted the first giveaway, for Justin Fox's Unspotted, today.

Of course, I have some thinking to do about my strategy and goals for next year. Walking on the beach is good for strategic thinking, too....

Friday, November 04, 2016

Weekend Reading: The Short on Time Edition

I went for my rollerblade early today, because I had to be back early, to take the kids to get their hair trimmed. So I'm short on time for this post, but as it happens, I don't have that many links, anyway.

My only political link: Chimamanda Adichie on what Hillary Clinton's fans love about her.

This article from Andie Fox about domestic violence is gut-wrenching and at the same time beautifully written. Here's the bit to remember most:

"Because every step of escape is a miracle – the pull of love, history and fear can be that strong. Because if your path crosses that of a woman, man or child fleeing violence, whether you are the police, the neighbours, or their boss, you want to hope that if you cannot actively assist, you at least are not an obstacle. Because escape is that fragile, that vital, that life-changing. Because children remember."

Lab safety at universities should be better. There is no excuse. (Warning, this article contains pictures from the University of Hawaii explosion scene.)

This old post from Paul Ford about being polite came across my feed today, and it was just what I needed.

It made me think of this quote from what may be my favorite dystopia novella ever. It would be a good thing to read to distract yourself from the election. Or, if you want something non-dystopic, this week's Tungsten Hippo recommendation did a nice job of distracting me for an hour or two last weekend.

Time vs. money, and a study finding that people who value the former more are happier. (I may have already shared this one. If so, apologies for the duplication!)

For the Cubs fans who weren't here to see the Cubs finally win. My Twitter feed during the final 30 minutes or so of that game was everything that is wonderful about Twitter. The nervous fans, the spouses of nervous fans, the rest of us just following along. It was glorious.

On Beyoncé and the Dixie Chicks at the CMA... with a video of the performance if you want to see it.

Let's end with a cute bunny:

Or two.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Leota Dress Report

I promised awhile back to give a proper report on the free dress the nice folks at Leota sent me, and since I've voted and made my final round of donations, tonight seems like a good night to tune out the election and talk about something less momentous, namely my search for work clothes.

For those who don't want to click back and read the whole story, the short version is: I decided I wanted to get a couple of work-appropriate dresses and I posted about the sartorial problems that led to that decision and also the solutions I was considering. I mentioned Leota as a brand of dress I was looking at. Apparently someone at Leota saw that post, and I got an email offering me a free dress to try.

I took them up on the offer. I used their size chart to figure my size, and determined I was a 1L in their sizing. This limited my options for a dress a bit, but they do have a nice line of "full figure" styles, so I still had some choices. I selected one of their wrap dresses with a little bit of trepidation, because wrap styles often gap on me, requiring me to wear a tank top underneath. But I had heard good things about Leota, and it was a full a figure line... so I took a chance.

And I'm happy to say, that chance paid off. I love my Leota dress. The wrap does not gap, and the dress is a flattering cut.

Here it is on me:

Obviously, my modeling skills aren't the best, and maybe I should find a place without an ugly rug behind me to take my pictures.... but I'm pretty pleased with this dress.

I chose a long day to wear it: I had a full day at a client site, and then I picked Petunia up and took her to her art lesson, during which I sat at a nearby coffee shop doing some reading for one of the projects I'm working on. Amazingly, I never had to adjust that wrap cross-over, not even once, not even as I curled up a bit in the coffee shop chair. And the dress was a very comfortable throughout the entire day. The fabric is a a matte jersey polyester, with some spandex for a little stretch. It is definitely a synthetic, but it is soft and not at all itchy.

(Incidentally, the tights were really comfortable, too. After reading everyone's recommendations, I bought some We Love Colors tights. I was on the border between M/L and 1X-3X. My usual rule when I'm on the boundary of two sizes with hosiery is to pick the larger size, and that is what I did. Having worn these, I am now pretty sure I could have gone with the M/L, but the 1X-3X did not sag or puddle, at least not in this first wearing. We'll see how they do over time.)

Back to the dress: It is machine washable, and yes I've washed it. I draped it flattish over a drying rack to dry, and the dress retained its shape beautifully. I think this dress will do particularly well for occasions where I need to travel with work clothes, because it does not wrinkle. The only downside about the dress, really, is that it doesn't have pockets. Still, I'm impressed with the brand and will probably buy more from them in the future, particularly if they bring more styles and fabrics to their full figure line.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016


I filled out my mail in ballot today. I will take it to a drop off location tomorrow, primarily to get my "I voted" sticker and because the closest drop of location is in Pacific Beach and I may use it as an excuse to go for a walk on the beach. Walking on the beach always clears my head and unknots the muscles in my shoulders, and that seems like a good thing to do after handing in my ballot and declaring myself done with this election.

I live in California, so the disposition of my state's Electoral College votes is not in question. But, as I've noted before, I live in a tight district. It went to Democrat Scott Peters by just 3 points in 2014. It is not likely to be so close this year, because the Republican is not as well known as the Republican in 2014 was. But it is not generally a safe seat.

I am a registered Democrat, and almost always vote for the Democrat, but in the past,  I have always at least looked up some information about the Republican, and checked that yes, indeed, my views do still align more closely with the Democrat. In fact, San Diego city politics are such that on occasion, I've voted for a Republican for a city office. And I sure as hell signed a petition to recall Bob Filner, the Democrat we recently elected as mayor only to learn he is a serial sexual harasser. I did that knowing that it was likely a Republican would take his place in the special election that followed, and that indeed is what came to pass. And I feel good about that decision.

Basically, I'm a partisan-leaning voter, but I try to give the other party a fair hearing.

Except this year, I didn't. I didn't learn a single thing about the Republican challenging Scott Peters. I think Peters has done a decent job, and I was a little proud when he was the congressman who knew how to use Periscope to broadcast the sit in over gun control laws when Paul Ryan cut the official TV feed. But that isn't why I didn't bother to learn about his challenger. I didn't bother to learn about his challenger because I have gotten to the point where there is no way I'd vote for a Republican for a national office, no matter who they ran.

I am just fed up with the obstruction and the mean-spiritedness of the Republican leaders in Congress. I'm sick of pointless Congressional hearings into anything and everything. I'm sick of the refusal to approve reasonable appointees and judges. I'm sick of the refusal to negotiate on policy. I'm sick of the high stakes threats to shut down government if they don't get their way. I'm sick of the active and unabashed attempts to shrink the electorate and make it harder for people to vote. I'm sick of the lies about why they're doing these things. I'm sick of the alternate reality they help support, one that allows large numbers of my fellow citizens to believe astoundingly untrue things and feeds dangerous conspiracy theories.

This election has taken all of the things I'm sick of and exploded them all over the news along with nauseating levels of racism and misogyny. And I've watched the leaders of the congressional Republicans not only refuse to condemn this crap, but double down on some of it.  I've watched them twist themselves into pretzels, presumably because they fear Trump's voters.

And then this, today:

A party that will sign onto this statement does not deserve any power. Losing an election is not grounds for grinding government to a halt. It just isn't. I will not consider their candidates any more.

So that made me think, what would it take for me to consider them again? I started a list, but realized it boiled down to just three things:

1. Rejoin the real world. 
Stop denying climate change. Stop shrugging at conspiracy theories and Birtherism and crap like that. Stop pretending they can just invent new facts when the ones in the real world are too inconvenient.

(And yeah, we have some fantasists on the Democratic side, too, but they aren't generally the ones in charge. If the Democrats ever embrace anti-vaxxers the way the Republicans have embraced climate change deniers, then I'll have a problem.)

2. Stop trying to disenfranchise people
This is not an acceptable thing to be doing in a democracy, and until they stop trying to disenfranchise people of color, I won't believe that they are ready to stop relying on pandering to white supremacists to win. And until they can stop doing that, I don't want them in power.

3. Start negotiating
Stop tantruming and threatening to burn it all down when they don't get everything exactly their way, and come to the table and negotiate with the rest of us like opposing parties used to do.

Now, if they do these three things, I'm probably still not going to vote for them. Like I said, my views currently align more with the Democrats. But if they do those three things, I will start reading about their candidates again. I'll go back to trying to give them a fair hearing.

And you know what? I really, truly hope that the Republicans can do this. Because the current situation is not healthy for our democracy. If the Republicans can't reform themselves, then I'm rooting for the Never Trumpers to break ranks and start a new party, and leave the Republicans to wither into irrelevance. They will have thoroughly earned that fate.