Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for the ‘United States Presidents’ Category

Bridges, Walls, and Transgender Rights

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This past week was a very frustrating one in many senses, folks.

First, we had the “announcement” of a transgender ban from military service by the President of the United States, Donald Trump, via a Tweet. (Something the Joint Chiefs of Staff had no idea was coming, much less the ordinary rank and file.)

Next, we had utter chaos at the White House as one of the new staffers (a guy I won’t name) decided to go on a profane rant. And rather than be fired, as anyone else would’ve been from any job anywhere, this particular new staffer was more or less praised by the President. (Or at least excused by him.)

Look. I believe in building bridges, not walls. I think we need to learn more about each other, in order to become more compassionate, much less wiser, people. And trying to understand the other person’s point of view is essential, or you can’t get anything done in that regard.

But I don’t understand the President’s point of view at all, here.

Donald Trump, in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, talked about how he was for LGBTQ rights. And the T in that stands for “transgender.”

Granted, if you had to ask me to ask one person whether the sun was rising in the East and setting in the West, I would pick anyone instead of Donald Trump. (I might even pick my dog, Trouble. He’d not be able to answer me, but at least he’d look cute.)

Still. Since transgender soldiers were allowed to serve openly in the military, they’ve done a fine job. No one’s seemed to have any trouble with them. They’re soldiers, like anyone else. They do their jobs, like anyone else. And no one’s ever questioned the fact that the United States military contains some of the best trained fighters ever seen.

(And make no mistake about it: I fully expected this to be the case. A trans person is a person like anyone else. And trans soldiers want to serve their country like anyone else does, too; give them credit for that fact, Mr. President. Please?)

I would’ve rather seen a bridge built here, rather than the wall of Donald Trump’s Tweet. I’d rather Mr. Trump had spoken to the transgender soldier retired from Seal Team Six, who could’ve given Mr. Trump a very solid education on the entire subject. I’d rather Mr. Trump had spoken to any soldiers, including Senators Lindsay Graham and Joni Ernst, who would’ve told him that soldiers of any persuasion, creed, color, sexuality or gender preference are worthy of care and will do the professional, thorough job that soldiers of the U.S. military are known for.

I tried to say that myself on my little-used Twitter account, but I was immediately given short shrift by a few of Mr. Trump’s more rabid followers. They believe that Mr. Trump was right to do this, because supposedly being trans is a “mental disease.” Or that it really is too expensive to give trans soldiers the care they need, which is absurd considering the immense amount of the military’s budget. (Supposedly, the military spends more on Viagra for male soldiers’ impotence than they do on the care for their trans soldiers. I wouldn’t doubt that for a minute.)

I know, myself, that as a writer and as a human being, I want to know more about people who feel marginalized and misunderstood in order to give them hope that someday, they will feel completely accepted and fully understood. That’s why I wrote my book, CHANGING FACES, and it’s why I believe firmly that we need to build a bridge to the trans community, and learn more from them, rather than exclude them out of hand as if they don’t matter — or worse, pretend that they don’t exist.

The Deity must have a reason for people coming in all sorts, shapes, creeds, sexes, genders, and yes, even differing political philosophies like Mr. Trump’s. But I don’t understand why anyone needs to be obnoxious in spreading his or her own political philosophy, especially if he hasn’t studied the subject at all, as it appears Mr. Trump has not.

For someone who said he was for LGBTQ rights, Mr. Trump had a horrible week.

But the trans soldiers had a worse one. Because they realized, perhaps for the first time, that this President does not have their back. And that is a very sad, even shameful, thing.

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Unsettled Times

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Folks, the times, they are unsettled. (OK, Bob Dylan, it isn’t. But it does happen to be true.)

We have unrest here in Wisconsin, as there’s an important trial going on in Milwaukee that, depending on its outcome, may set off another round of riots and looting and fires. (Last year, I wrote a post called “Milwaukee Burning” about that, I believe.)

We have unrest throughout the United States for various reasons. Some comes down to how our politicians continue to make the same mistakes, whether they’re Republicans or Democrats (right now, the GOP is in the barrel over their mishandling of Trumpcare, otherwise known as the AHCA), some because of the bombastic nature of our current President, Donald Trump (a man Hillary Clinton quite correctly called “unfit” due to Trump’s willingness to shoot from the Tweet at any hour of the day or night). Some is because we’ve possibly forgotten we have more in common with each other than not…

But I think a lot of it is because too many people are working jobs that are below their ability levels. They’re not making the money they need to pay their bills, much less have any sort of decent quality of life. Way too many people work so many hours, they barely see their children, spouses, or any of their friends, all because they’re trying hard to stay ahead of their bills.

This is called “income instability.” It is not easy to deal with. At all.

Historically, when things like this happen — too many people either out of work entirely or working too many hours for too little money — we end up with a great deal of unrest.

Or, as I put it above, unsettled times.

It’s not easy to live in such times. There’s a lot of inequality out there, whether it’s income inequality, racial inequality, the fight for LGBTQ rights…and then, so many people are so very, very exhausted, they come home, aren’t able to think as well as they would if they had enough time to see their family and friends and decompress a little.

I’m wondering if this — the overarching inequity people can’t help but see —  is why the folks in our society seemingly are more likely to get angry and stay angry.

And then, we have a media that likes to push sensationalism, and only rarely talks about what binds us together. (That does not sell papers. Or buy ads for TV programs, either.)

So we hear only that people don’t agree. That they don’t get along. That maybe we shouldn’t, that our “tribe” doesn’t get along with theirs…that only Democrats/Republicans/Libertarians/Independents/fill-in-the-blank are worth talking to, and no one else need apply.

What I know, though, is different.

I have friends from all walks of life. They are all interesting, funny, special people, who have something worthwhile to say, and worthwhile to share.

Yeah, to some of them, I’m a “token liberal,” one of the few they can tolerate. And to some, I’m too conservative for them, not nearly liberal enough.

But I’m always, always myself.

That got me to thinking…if I can handle all these different people doing different things, saying many different interesting things, why is it that we can’t get it together as a society? Are we too big, too monolithic, to admit to individuality any longer?

I don’t know.

What I do know is, whether we live in unsettled times or not, we have to keep doing our best. And since we’re here on this Earth for some reason, we may as well try to learn from one another rather than insist ours is the “one, true way” (hat tip to author Mercedes Lackey).

So, this week, try hard to listen to someone you don’t normally think is worthwhile. See if there’s even one grain of anything you can agree with, and then talk civilly and with amity about the rest.

Who knows? You may make a new friend.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 20, 2017 at 7:27 pm

Quick Wednesday Thoughts

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Folks, I continue to deal with hand issues, and I also have a number of projects hanging fire…so this will be a quick “hit-and-run” type blog, where I tell you what’s on my mind in blurb form.

Ready? Set?

First…what in the world is up with President Donald Trump? I mean, every day, there seems to be a new scandal, something worse happening than the day before. He seems to have come into the office completely unprepared, and due to his impulsivity and other issues, he seems to enjoy scaring the Hell out of people, at home and abroad.

My primary thought here is, “Please stop doing this, Mr. President.” (And that I have to call him Mr. President still irks me something fierce. What did we ever do to get this guy?)

And my secondary thought is, “If there have been criminal — or worse, treasonous — acts committed, the Republican-dominated Congress has to grow a spine or some testicular fortitude. Because we can’t have this happening in the ‘land of the free and home of the brave,’ at all.”

Second, the weather in Wisconsin has been all over the place lately. We’ve had cold weather, hot weather, not too much medium-range weather, and it either is raining in buckets or it’s dry as a bone. I can’t figure it out.

Except for one thing…as weather forecasters can seemingly be wrong every day of the year and still get paid, why didn’t I sign up for that gig? (Yeah, they need more math and science than I had, but I’m sure I could’ve learned it. Ah, well.)

Third, I wonder sometimes about relationships. Why is it that we can try so hard, and get nowhere in them?

I was very fortunate in finding my late husband Michael, but before him I made a couple of bad mistakes. (Of course, what is the definition of a “good” mistake, anyway? One that leads you to the New World when you’re looking for China?)

All I know is, if you’re the only one trying in a relationship, it’s not a relationship. It’s you talking to yourself, and pretending like fire someone else cares when he or she really doesn’t. (Or doesn’t care enough to be useful to you.)

Learn from my mistakes.

And learn from my lone success, too…there is someone out there who will get you, completely, even if you don’t know who that is right now. Refuse to settle for anything less.

Fourth and last…I refuse to give up. I will keep trying.

I just wish I could get a small break in the action where something completely positive happens for a change, that’s all.

Anyway, that’s about it.

What’s going on with you, and what are your thoughts? (What annoys you, or makes you smile, or anything?) Tell me in the comments!

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 17, 2017 at 1:20 pm

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.

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.