Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for the ‘United States Politics’ Category

Memo to Trump: Please Do Not Shame Sexual Assault Victims

with 10 comments

Folks, over the past week-plus, I’ve watched in horrified fascination as Donald Trump’s own words have come back to haunt him.

It’s appalling that someone as high-profile as Donald Trump, a nominee for the high office of President of the United States of America, would say things about trying to pick up a married woman, much less saying he could grab someone by her privates (by the use of another “p-word”) and no one would care, because he’s a celebrity. (This courtesy of the 2005 “hot mic” tape recorded during an Access Hollywood shoot years ago; the conversation was with AH’s then-anchor, Billy Bush.)

But it keeps getting worse. As woman after woman have come out to speak about how Donald Trump treated them years ago (all similar to what Trump’s words said, that Trump made moves without their consent and did not back off even when the women said, “Please stop” or worse), Mr. Trump’s response has basically been to shame the women who’ve made the accusations.

Before I go on, I will note that Donald Trump has not been convicted of any crimes. (Being an obnoxious boor is not a crime, after all.) However, I find it extremely disquieting that rather than saying, “I would not do that. I have daughters, and I’d never want anyone doing that to them,” Mr. Trump has made comments such as, “She’d not be my first choice” (during today’s speech in North Carolina, according to MSNBC), in order to try to discredit his most recent accuser.


Because comments like that make it sound like the only reason to sexually assault someone is because she is too attractive for the man to resist.

That’s absurd. So absurd, I am surprised I even have to comment on it, considering it’s 2016.

Mind, in case you’re wondering, this isn’t the only comment Mr. Trump has made along those lines by a mile. He’s talked about how thirty-five-year-old women are not worth his time; he’s called his own daughter, Ivanka, a “piece of ass;” and he’s bragged about cheating on his wives during marriages one and two.

Obviously, Mr. Trump sees women as commodities. Not as people. Or at least, in the past, he has…we can always hope he’s had a consciousness-raising since 2007 (the latest year any of the various women who say they’ve been victimized by Mr. Trump has reported).

Speaking about sexual assault in terms of women’s attractiveness alone is obnoxious. Rude. Disrespectful. Not to mention extremely inaccurate.

And saying that it shouldn’t take years for a woman to report what happened is also wrong.

The simple fact is, many women are disbelieved when they tell the Powers that Be about what’s happened to them.** They wait for days, weeks, months, and sometimes years or even decades, because they expect they won’t be believed.

And most of the time, unfortunately, their first instincts have been correct.

I sincerely hope that Mr. Trump did not do anything to any of these women. And that his “locker-room talk” (as he himself has characterized his extremely vulgar words during that 2005 tape) was just that: talk.

But I remain extremely upset by all of this. And I know I’m not alone.


**Note: I know I was, years ago. I was nineteen. No one wanted to believe it, especially during a high-profile summer internship. (Yes, I did report it within a couple of weeks…not that it did me any good whatsoever.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 14, 2016 at 5:14 pm

2016 Vice Presidential Debate: My Assessment

leave a comment »

Last night (October 4, 2016), I watched the vice presidential debate between Democratic VP candidate Tim Kaine and Republican VP candidate Mike Pence. It was a contentious affair, where both candidates interrupted each other over and over again…but who did better, and why?

My thought process tends to go like this:

If you are a regular member of the GOP, you probably liked how Mike Pence behaved last night. Pence seemed thoughtful in certain respects, and certainly came off as a far more serious candidate than his running mate, Donald Trump. Pence understood enough about national security that he didn’t have a “what is Aleppo?” moment (a la Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson), and his domestic policy credentials are sound.

However, if you are a Democrat or left-leaning Independent, you probably did not like what Pence had to say. While Pence is undoubtedly more serious-minded than Trump, most of Pence’s domestic policy relies on two things: Cut taxes, and anti-abortion rhetoric. Both of these have been hallmarks of the GOP for years, and Pence is no different in this regard. Pence did make a case for his faith informing his public policy that seemed authentic, and I’ll give him points for that; however, the fact that his faith seems to tell him that LGBT individuals don’t seem to have the same rights as straight ones, and that women can’t choose what to do with their own bodies with regards to making the toughest choices of all — staying with a tough pregnancy or terminating it — is definitely antithetical to most D or left-leaning Indy voters.

Now, if you are a member of the GOP or a right-leaning Indy, you probably did not like much of what Tim Kaine had to say. Kaine was much more fiery than I’ve ever seen him, and seemed almost apoplectic at the thought of a Trump Presidency. (For which, to be honest, I cannot blame him whatsoever.) The policies Kaine discussed — immigration, for example, where he believes we must find a solution to the millions of undocumented immigrants (otherwise known by the GOP as illegal aliens) — are not ones you’re likely to rally around, even if you admire his Christian faith and moral values.

Though small-c conservatives may indeed admire Kaine’s passionate advocacy for upholding the law, even when Kaine’s faith has led him elsewhere. (Kaine used the example of the death penalty in Virginia. He does not like the death penalty at all, but as Governor, he upheld its use, as that’s the law of his state.) Kaine said it’s important to remember that we’re a country that separates Church and State for a reason, and implied that we must use our brains and hearts to make better public policy all the way around. (This is something that perhaps small-c conservatives and mainline Ds or left-leaning Indys can agree with, or use to find common ground.)

Kaine didn’t talk much about what he’d do, beyond supporting Hillary Clinton; then again, Pence didn’t talk much about what he’d do, either. (Then again, how much can you do as a VP? Joe Biden and Dick Cheney aside, most VPs just don’t do much.)

But from a D or left-leaning Indy perspective, what Kaine did was outstanding. Kaine did not take what Trump has said lying down; instead, Kaine used Trump’s own words to make the case as to just how bad a President Donald Trump would be. (Mike Pence did not do this as well, to my mind, in trying to show how bad a President Hillary Clinton would be from Pence’s perspective.) Kaine’s stance on immigration reform is up-to-the-minute, compassionate, and careful. Best of all, Kaine regularly challenged Pence’s assertions, even though in doing that he interrupted over and over again; fact-checkers at MSNBC and CNN today have said that Kaine’s assertions were factual, whereas Pence (like his running mate, Trump) often said things that made absolutely no sense. (Such as this whopper: “We’ve never said Vladimir Putin is a strong leader,” when both Pence and Trump have said just that.)

To my mind, the winner of the night, on facts, was Kaine. But the winner of the night as far as style was Pence.

In other words, it was a draw, of sorts…which is par for the course for these VP debates.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 5, 2016 at 10:43 am

Why I Stand with Trek Against Trump…and for Hillary Clinton

with 2 comments

Folks, most of you know that I have been firmly in Hillary Clinton’s corner since 2008. I supported her then, I support her now, and I am voting for her for President.

But the reason I’m writing this post today is because of the actors, directors, producers, and writers of STAR TREK (various versions) who’ve identified themselves as Trek Against Trump, and have come out with a statement thereby.

Why is this so important to me? Well, early in my life, I learned to love the original STAR TREK series. That was the first time I saw a racially diverse crew take on all comers, survive and thrive, and live in harmony with each other. Even though there were setbacks, and the humans of the 23rd Century  (and later, 24th) were not perfect people by any means, they were hard-working, dedicated to self-improvement and a belief that scientific knowledge along with good common sense could get us anywhere — even the stars.

People could be of different backgrounds, different ethnicities, different gender-flavors, and still get along. Different races such as the Vulcans, Klingons, Andorians, and more could meet with human beings and find some common ground.

I took that knowledge and internalized it. And it certainly gave me more of a belief that I, too, could change the world…or at least myself, if I tried hard enough. It showed me that SF&F stories could make a positive difference, which was enormously important to me, especially as I grew up to become a SF&F writer (no matter how little-known).

One of the things I truly admired about STAR TREK from the get-go is that the crew of the Enterprise (or Deep Space Nine, or Voyager, etc.) were not afraid to stand up for what they believed in, even when it wasn’t popular and even when it was far ahead of its time. The various crews over the years always tried to do the best they possibly could, and learn from their mistakes, too — something more of us, even now, need to have reinforced from time to time.

At any rate, I’m very pleased to stand with Trek Against Trump, because I believe Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to the United States.**

That Donald Trump can fire off a series of Tweets at a former contestant of one of his beauty pageants because he felt she was “too fat” when he, himself, is far from svelte is distracting enough, and shows completely unPresidential character. But that he says he wants to “Make America Great Again” by “knowing more about ISIS than the generals do” and consult mostly with himself (as he’s said over and over again in speeches) is profoundly disturbing.

As a student of history, I am appalled that Donald Trump has a legitimate chance to be the next President of the United States. He has the potential to be someone akin to Mussolini, Stalin, or Hitler — and those are not the personages the next POTUS should wish to emulate.

To those who believe that Hillary Clinton would be just as bad or worse in office, and who live in the United States, I must say this: What are you smoking?

No, she’s not perfect. Yes, there are things I wish she’d have done differently, like never having the private e-mail server.

But she’s a smart, tough, and tenacious woman, and she can work with anyone. If people hate her, she doesn’t care about that; she still goes in there and tries to get the best deal she can.

I also believe Hillary Clinton would work for all the people, even those who refuse to vote for her, even those misanthropic types who call her the “c-word,” even those who just don’t seem to get that this is the most important election in the United States that we’ve possibly ever had.

We have two major party candidates, folks. Chances are one of ’em is going to be the next POTUS…and for the sake of sanity, that person should not be Donald J. Trump.

I know full well that many of my friends can’t abide Hillary Clinton. I also know that most of those same friends can’t abide Donald Trump, either, even though they’re mostly for wildly different reasons. But those of you who aren’t scared to death at the possibility of a Donald Trump Presidency are lying to yourselves.


Note: I thought long and hard about writing this, too, but it needed to be said. I could not sit silent on this one, even though CHANGING FACES continues to hang fire. I know perfectly well that a big, beautiful woman who writes SF&F stories (including a story with two transgender protagonists like CF) is not someone Trump would even want in his conception of America. That is the main reason I spoke up now.

Second note: I am not quite as worried about people voting for Gary Johnson as the Trek Against Trump folks are for one reason. I think if you’ve always voted GOP or Lib, providing you vote against Trump, that’s a vote he’s expecting to get that he will not get. And a vote for Johnson is still a vote Trump does not get…thank the Deity Above.

**Third Note: The Cincinnati Enquirer said this before I did, last week, in this editorial where they endorsed Hillary Clinton after many years of only endorsing GOP candidates. I read that editorial after writing this blog post.

A New Low: NC Law Legalizes Discrimination Against LGBT Individuals

with 12 comments

Folks, I am really steamed right now.

A few days ago (March 23, 2016, to be exact), the Governor of North Carolina, Republican Pat McCrory, signed into law a bill that’s so widespread in its ability to legally discriminate against LGBT people, it defies belief.


Here’s what this bill, called HB 2, allows for in North Carolina according to the Huffington Post:

North Carolina’s General Assembly voted Wednesday to block cities and counties from passing protections against LGBT discrimination in a wide-ranging bill that could have enormous implications for the state.

HB 2, which passed in a special session, would set a statewide anti-discrimination policy, banning employers and businesses from discriminating against employees or customers based on their race, color, country of origin, religion, age or “biological sex.” The bill offers no protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and prevents local governments from passing any nondiscrimination policy that goes beyond the statewide standard.

The bill also pre-empts local employment ordinances governing wages, benefits, employee protections and leave policies. It would prevent schools from allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

OK. So, it’s now legal in North Carolina to discriminate against LGBT people.

Have they all lost their flippin’ minds?

“But Barb,” you say. “This happened over a week ago. Why are you only talking about it now?”

Well, remember my last post? About how I was dealing with an illness in the family, and the whole “temporary lapse of blogging” thing?

“Yeah, I do. So what? Why bring it up now?”

Aside from the fact that this law deeply offends me as a human being, news broke yesterday (March 30, 2016) that there is a sports league that could be potentially affected by this law — and that league is the National Basketball Association. Next year, Charlotte is supposed to host the NBA All-Star Game, and has been looking forward to doing so for quite some time.

But now, because of this terrible new law, the NBA might have to pull their All-Star Game out of Charlotte. That means much revenue could potentially be lost, and some people will probably lose their jobs — all because of the idiots in the NC Legislature who thought it was a good idea to pass the terribly offensive law, HB 2.

You see, the NBA has perhaps been the most proactive league in professional sports on behalf of LGBT rights. They are acutely aware of this for several reasons: Jason Collins came out as gay while still an active NBA player a few years ago (he’s since retired), a referee has recently come out as gay, several teams have made supportive videos on behalf of LGBT youth, and at least one team, the Boston Celtics, has already condemned the actions of the North Carolina Legislature (save for all the Democratic state Senators, who walked out, and most of the Democrats in the NC lower house, who voted against HB 2).

By all accounts, the NBA is taking a good, long, hard look at North Carolina right now, even though Charlotte — the city — had passed anti-discrimination laws that HB 2 wiped off the books. And even though Charlotte is steamed, and North Carolina’s own Attorney General says he’s going to refuse to enforce HB 2 (good for him!), the NBA is not at all happy with what Gov. McCrory has done by refusing to veto this bill.

Because that’s exactly what Gov. McCrory should’ve done — veto this piece of trash. There is no legitimate excuse for discrimination against anyone. Period.

At all. Ever.

And lest you think the Governor of North Carolina was only doing his job, think again: Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, also a Republican, vetoed a similar law only two days ago.

And Democrat Terry McAuliffe, Governor of Virginia, vetoed an anti-LGBT bill this week as well, calling it “nothing but an attempt to stigmatize” the LGBT community.

So, it is possible for a public servant — which is exactly what a duly-elected Governor of any state is supposed to be — to do the right thing, and stand against discrimination.

So, why didn’t Gov. McCrory do what Gov. Deal did, or Gov. McAuliffe? Simple. Gov. McCrory appears to be pandering to the hard-right. Either that, or he actually believes that allowing transgender women into ladies’ bathrooms is tantamount to allowing pedophilia. (No. Really. This was an argument I heard on CNBC the other day from the state’s Lieutenant Governor, a pipsqueak of a man whose name escapes me.)

Look. I’m a woman. I’ve been one all my life. I have no problems with allowing transgender women into the ladies’ room right along with me. I don’t think they’re going to do anything except use the facilities, touch up their hair, maybe their makeup (if they’re wearing any; maybe they’re like me and don’t care for it much), wash their hands and get out of there.

Or to put it another, more emphatic way: Whether you’re a straight woman, like me, a lesbian woman, or a transgender woman, when you’re in a bathroom, all you want to do is take care of your business and get the Hell out of there.

As I said in my title, this horrible bill, North Carolina’s HB 2, is a new low in American politics. Gov. McCrory should be ashamed of himself for signing this travesty of a bill.

Discrimination should not be tolerated. Ever. Period!

End rant.


Edited to add: There already is a lawsuit underway in North Carolina against this bill. I hope HB 2 gets struck down very quickly, and that Charlotte can re-institute its anti-discrimination bill ASAP.

Two Articles of Interest to Share…

with 6 comments

Folks, I’ve been reading a number of interesting things lately, and today seems like a good time to share two of the most thought-provoking posts.

First, from the world of publishing, is an interview my friend Chris Nuttall did for the Observer. Chris talks about his career path as an indie writer, and discusses the insights he’s learned along the way — including the importance of cover art.

Do take a look at this interview, will you? (Mind, if you’re an author or editor or have anything to do with publishing, you’ll enjoy it a lot more…but even if you aren’t, you should find something that rivets your attention.)

Next, while I was rooting around the Observer, I found this post about the 2016 United States presidential election cycle, and about how it’s being actively shaped by corporate media interests to drive business interests. It is the author Ryan Holiday’s contention that neither Bernie Sanders nor Donald Trump would be doing anywhere near as well if they weren’t being propped up, de facto, by the media because the media wants drama with a capital D. And the more serious candidates (like Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush) just don’t give them “dirty laundry” the way they want and need (to misquote Don Henley’s old song).

Worse, because Clinton and Bush don’t give the media DRAMA, they aren’t getting covered in a substantial/substantive way.

Look. I love reality TV, in its place. But United States elections are not the time for reality TV.

As Mr. Holiday says in his article:

…atypical candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are effectively subsidized by the media in order to provide the story lines those outlets require to create the compelling spectacles they need to keep the cycle going and audiences hooked.

It is in this last area that we see the highest manipulation. In Donald Trump we have a candidate who has received so much  media coverage that he did not need to run his first TV campaign ad until January—some seven months after entering the race and five months after the first televised debate. Has anyone in history gotten as much free media coverage as Donald Trump?

Mr. Holiday’s article is a must-read, especially if you’re wondering just how and why it is that we’re stuck in a poisonous, destructive election cycle with very little focus on issues that matter and way too much focus on style and DRAMA.  (Note that “drama” is Mr. Holiday’s word, but it fits so well, I had to use it, too.)

Then, after you’ve read it, ask yourself this — is this any way to run a democracy?

Support LGBT Rights: Why the Fight over Indiana’s RFRA Is Important to non-Indianans

with 2 comments

Since Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) signed into law the Indiana Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA for short), there has been a firestorm of controversy. Those on the right don’t seem to understand why people are so upset, while those on the left can’t understand why those on the right are so clueless (yes, I’m being polite in my characterization).

So I thought I’d try to break it down for you all as to why I, personally, believe the fight over Indiana’s RFRA bill is so very, very important for everyone.

It’s simple, folks: LGBT rights matter. And the RFRA that the Indiana Legislature passed not only grants individuals and businesses the right to deny anyone anything under the law unless there is a specific reason in the governmental interest as to why the individuals or businesses shouldn’t do it. But gender discrimination apparently isn’t in the “governmental interest.”

What does that mean, exactly? In not-so-veiled language, it means the RFRA as passed by the state of Indiana didn’t give any protection whatsoever to same-sex couples or transgendered individuals. So if you happen to be gay, and you walk into a pizza parlor with your boyfriend in Indiana, you could be denied service with no repercussions (other than most of the rest of the neighborhood shunning you for your utter stupidity, of course).

The reason that business leaders in Indiana, including the Chamber of Commerce and the NCAA (headquartered in Indianapolis), were against the RFRA is because it will keep business away from Indiana. Most people believe that LGBT people are people like anyone else and should be allowed to love whomever they please without anyone giving them problems over it. And the businesses are aware of this.

Or to put it in even plainer terms than this: Refusing to serve anyone anything for any reason in Indiana (or anywhere else) is bad for business. Period.

It’s a sad day when it takes businesses and corporate leaders to tell politicians that something is a bad move for their state. But in this case, their ruthless pragmatism happens to match the growing sentiment that LGBT rights are of profound importance. Most people have at least one LGBT relative or friend. Some, like me, have more than one (I have several, including a transgendered cousin; in addition, my late brother-in-law was gay). And none of them — not one — should be denied service simply because of who they love.

Much less exalting such discrimination under the guise of “religious freedom.”

But I’d rather go back to ruthless pragmatism, here. I want you to consider this from a business perspective. If you are allowed, as a businessperson, to discriminate on the basis of gender, does that mean if I go into a business with my sister, you’re going to deny me service? Or if I go into a restaurant with a friend who’s a retired nun, you’re going to deny me service?

How can you tell what my gender is just because I walk into a restaurant with another woman?

By the way, if my brother goes into a restaurant with a friend who happens to be a Catholic priest (but isn’t wearing his clerical collar), are you’re going to deny him service, too?

Let’s get real. There’s no reason for any business to deny any of us — straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, or Martian — service. Not if that business wants to make a profit. And the businesses know this if they’re smart. Which is why most of them have come out firmly against the RFRA.

I’ve had some friends on the right tell me that much of the hoopla over the RFRA is overblown. There are legitimate religious liberty concerns. There needs to be a way for someone who’s Muslim and wearing a headscarf to not be denied service because of her religion. And there needs to be a way for a Sikh child to not be prevented from wearing his religious dagger (blunted) next to his body when he goes to the public school.

But Indiana’s version of the RFRA goes way too far. It doesn’t just protect people of faith from being able to safely and freely partake in their religion. Instead, it looks as if it’s meant to discriminate against certain classes of people, most especially the LGBT community, on the basis of gender identity alone. And whether it actually will allow discrimination under the law is now irrelevant, as the perception has grown so large that it will that it’s become well-nigh irrefutable.

Or in even plainer, starker language: The belief is that it will hurt LGBT people because it’s OK under the law to do so. Which has de facto created a second-class citizen approach for the LGBT community, or anyone believed to be a part of that community…and that is deeply destructive to the social covenant, at absolute best.

And that, my friends, is why this RFRA is so divisive. It hurts my LGBT friends and family members just by its existence.

And that’s why so many are protesting Indiana’s RFRA.

But it’s law in the state of Indiana, at least for now. Which is why so many people across the United States are vowing not to spend one dime in Indiana until this law is either fixed or repealed.

How any politician can’t understand that’s exactly what would happen before he signed a controversial bill like this into law, as Gov. Pence did last Friday, is beyond my comprehension.

* * * Edited to add:

As of this hour (5:30 a.m. CDT), according to the Indiana Star, a revised version of the RFRA has been drafted. The Star says:

The compromise legislation specifies that the new religious freedom law cannot be used as a legal defense to discriminate against patrons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The proposal goes much further than a “preamble” that was proposed earlier in the week, and, if it stands, would be the first time any protections against discrimination have been extended to gays and lesbians in state law. But it doesn’t go as far as establishing gays and lesbians as a protected class of citizens statewide or repealing the law outright, both things that Republican leaders have said they could not support.

So it’s one tiny step forward. But it’s not likely, as the Star says elsewhere in its article, to make anyone happy on the left or the right, and more battles loom over LGBT rights in the not-so-distant future in the state of Indiana.

Stay tuned.

Do Your Civic Duty — Get Out And Vote!

leave a comment »

Folks, it’s Election Day. I’m proud to say that I voted over an hour ago.

And even though it’s nearly 5:30 PM in the Central Time Zone, there’s still time for you to get out and do your civic duty by voting if you haven’t done it already.

Now why should you do this? It’s simple. Since we live in a democratic republic, the best way we have to affect the outcome is by voting.

Now, you might be saying, “Hey, Barb. I know I should vote, but I haven’t a clue who to vote for. Can you help me out a little?”

Well, sure. Here’s a quick-and-dirty summation of how and why I vote.

If I like what’s going on in my state, I tend to vote for incumbents.

If I do not like what’s going on — and I think I’ve made it clear over the past four years that I do not — I vote against the incumbents.

(Or in plain language: Yes, I proudly voted against Scott Walker for the third time. Let’s hope the third time is the charm.)

In the other races, I used the same strategy unless there was someone I truly wanted to vote for. (In this case, as I like John Lehman and Rob Zerban, I voted in their favor for Lieutenant Governor and U.S. Representative accordingly.)

And in the referendums, I used my best judgment.

As Robert A. Heinlein once put it (this being my best paraphrase), it’s better to go vote against than not to vote at all. So please, do go out and vote.

Voting matters, you see. Even if you vote against what I think — or used what I just said as a primer in how not to vote (which is another thing RAH said, long ago) — it’s still important.

Thus concludes tonight’s public service announcement.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 4, 2014 at 6:23 pm