Barb Caffrey's Blog

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Presidential Recount in WI — History in the Making

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During the last couple of weeks, as I recuperated from the move (and all the sturm und drang thereby), I’ve been watching the United States and its politics with more than my usual share of bemusement.

Why is that? Well, we had a Presidential election where one person, Hillary Clinton, was fully expected to win. Yet she was not the winner; instead, Donald Trump somehow came out of nowhere and took the election away from her.

(Yes, I’m phrasing that precisely. Give me time, please.)

Because of the many statements Mr. Trump gave over the past eighteen or so months, (he confessed to disliking and mistrusting Muslims, to name just one example), many ordinary Americans were concerned at his election to the Presidency of the United States. Marches ensued, most of them peaceful, to show Mr. Trump and those who stand with him that the United States is not a racist, sexist, misogynistic, or LGBTQ-hating country.

Now, to Mr. Trump’s supporters, these marches seem nonsensical. Why protest something that hasn’t happened yet? We’re supposed to give every new President-elect time to show his or her true colors, and we usually do as a nation.

And yet, this was far from an ordinary election. Mr. Trump said many incendiary things. And people are already concerned about Mr. Trump’s apparent lack of impulse control…plus, when you add in all the statements Mr. Trump made about the election being “rigged,” that gave many a cause for concern.

Including Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein, of all people, who was one of two people to file for a Presidential recount in the state of Wisconsin after raising millions of dollars in just a few days to do so. The Green Party has said they don’t expect to find many improprieties, but they do want to know what happened in Wisconsin.

As a Wisconsin voter, so do I.

I don’t know what happened in Wisconsin, but I would’ve bet money — a lot of it, if I had it — that Donald Trump could not win this state. Considering Democrats were highly motivated to vote, and there was and remains a sizable #NeverTrump faction as well, I don’t understand at all how he won here.

A recount should answer that question, once and for all.

And lest you think I’m only asking for this as an avowed Hillary Clinton voter, think again. I am all for recounts. I’ve even taken part in one before as a neutral observer — the recount of the state Supreme Court race between Justice David Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg. What that recount found was that there were uncounted votes out there, and it did narrow the gap between Prosser and Kloppenburg slightly — not enough to swing that election, mind you, but enough to show that there were indeed some additional votes that hadn’t been properly tallied the first time around.

This time, though, may turn out to be different.

Already, in three Wisconsin counties, votes have been taken away from Mr. Trump — enough of them that Mr. Trump’s lead over Mrs. Clinton has shrunk by 5,000 votes. (And when you only win by 27,000 votes to begin with — less than 1% difference — that’s a sizable difference right there.) This is before the recount; this is what county clerks have found on their own, without prompting — errors much bigger than any found during the Prosser-Kloppenburg recount.

So, if the county clerks are already finding problems before the recount, just how many other problems are they going to find during it?

Before you ask, I fully believe that the county clerks of the state of Wisconsin are reliable, sober professionals. Regardless of their party affiliation, they want to do a good job. (Kathy Nickolaus, former county clerk of Waukesha County, did not seem to know what she was doing. But thankfully, she’s out of office now.) They certainly don’t want anyone to believe that the vote was tampered with — or if it was, they want to know about it first, and figure out how to stop it from happening ever again.

But something odd happened here. Something that does not sit right with me. I am a long-time political observer who’s called at least 25 elections successfully, and yet this one, somehow, I didn’t? When there was no raw data to suggest silent Trump voters before the fact? (And considering how loud and proud some of those Trump voters have proven to be nationwide, the whole idea of silent Trump voters seems like an oxymoron anyway. Just sayin’.)

So I’m happy we’re going to have a recount of the 2016 Presidential election.

No, I don’t expect it to flip the state of Wisconsin for Hillary Clinton. But if it does, I’d not be entirely surprised, either…because it’s been that sort of year, hasn’t it?

Anyway, expect more posts on this subject, as I am vitally interested in the results. (And I do intend to be a neutral observer, again, if I can. Why not?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 26, 2016 at 9:18 pm

Election 2016: My Personal Essay

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Folks, I’m going to try to do something that right now is hard for me, but necessary.

If you’ve followed my blog for awhile, you know I am a left-leaning Independent voter, and that I’ve supported Hillary Clinton’s life and career for years. I believe she’s an honest, hard-working, capable, and extremely intelligent woman who’s been badly misunderstood over the course of her lifetime. I was proud to vote for her in 2008 in the primaries, and again this year in both the primaries and in the general election.

I am deeply saddened that we will not have Hillary Clinton as our next President.

There is much about Donald J. Trump that scares the willies out of me. That he has no experience at all running a government is the main objection; that he can say intemperate, rude, vulgar, sexist, and bigoted things are my main secondary objections. I did not believe he was fit to be President. I also believed the American people would reject him.

They did not.

Instead, they have largely embraced him. Which to me feels utterly alien, because I had thought we’d gotten past much of what Mr. Trump embodied already.

But we obviously haven’t.

At this point, I hope that Donald J. Trump will prove to be a far better person than he’s ever shown, and that he will somehow become a better President than I fear.

I admit that I am scared. I am a low-income, disabled, widowed woman writer, already without much in the way of a safety net. Trump by the words he’s mouthed over the course of the primaries and general election will take what little safety net I have and rend it asunder.

He does not appear to care about people like me, at all. I’ve known that all along. That’s why I opposed him, strongly.

Instead, I believed in Hillary Clinton and her promise of incremental change. Change usually does come by increments; you have to work hard for change, for improvement, for anything at all.

As a writer I know that; I start out with a blank page, and by the end of my efforts, I have something brand-new. But it takes time, thought, effort, more time, thought, and effort; write, rewrite, edit, rewrite, edit, write, edit, etc., until the final product is in and done.

I understood how hard it is to make any positive changes whatsoever. I thought the United States, as a country, understood that as well.

Either they didn’t, or the hatred of Hillary Clinton was a much bigger factor than anyone ever thought.

Anyway, Donald J. Trump is a very wealthy man. He has never stood in my shoes. (Hillary Clinton hasn’t, either, but I at least felt she could empathize.) He does not know how hard it is to get from day to day, what happens when you have only one car and it has a major repair you can’t pay for (thank you to all who backed me in 2014 so I could get my car repaired, BTW; without GoFundMe and some very good friends, I’d have been completely out of luck then). He doesn’t have any idea what it’s like to lose a home to foreclosure, or to lose your whole retirement because of the 2008 stock market crash (as many did), or to have to struggle and scramble and fight, day after day after day, so you can continue to do what you believe you were born to do.

So, my analysis is simple: I’m going to keep doing what I need to do. I’ll create, and write, and hope for the best. I will continue to do my best to spread optimism, light, and help to all I can, because that’s how I’m made.

I realize even a President Hillary Clinton wouldn’t have been able to help me with much of that. But her policies would’ve led to a more optimistic country, by and large; I firmly believe that.

Now, all bets are off.

This is not what I’d hoped for, and I am afraid.

But I will keep going.

My late husband Michael and my late best friend Jeff would not expect any less.

 

On Pins and Needles

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Folks, like many of you, I’m waiting on pins and needles for tonight’s election returns. And it’s not just for the results of the Presidential election, as we also have an election in Wisconsin for the United States Senate that’s been hotly contested from the start.

Why?

Well, it’s not every day that you have a former U.S. Senator in Russ Feingold (D) running against a current U.S. Senator in Ron Johnson (R).

As you might expect, voter turnout in Wisconsin is incredibly high. I heard yesterday, while listening to WTMJ-AM radio, that 800,000 people voted early/absentee. (I was one of them, by the way.)

I’m glad that so many people are voting in Wisconsin, and all over the nation. We need voters to be heard, unequivocally, so no one can doubt that the vote is “rigged.”

My view is simple: We need Hillary Clinton as our next President, because she’s competent, qualified, responsible, and will govern well.

But I don’t insist that everyone vote the way I did, as that would be both silly and stupid. I know other friends of mine are voting for Gary Johnson, Donald Trump, and Evan McMullen, and I respect that.

So long as you have made an informed choice, that’s all anyone can ask.

Anyway, if you haven’t voted yet, make sure you do. Don’t sit this election out — granted, you should not sit any election out — only to complain later.

‘Nuff said.

Memo to Trump: Please Do Not Shame Sexual Assault Victims

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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.

Why?

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

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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

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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

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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.

Why?

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.