Sunday, January 27, 2019


Took this from Janis Ian

When I wrote this song, I'd been off the road and away from recording for more than a decade. I realized no one else would ever record it, and that decided me to "get back in the game." It was eventually chosen by the government of Holland to represent that country in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the end of WW II. I was presented to the (then) Queen, thanked by thousands, and congratulated by Elie Wiesel. Just goes to show, you never know where things will end up. To this day it's one of my proudest moments, writing this song.
(Janis Ian)
Her new name was tattooed to her wrist
It was longer than the old one
Sealed in the silence with a fist
This night will be a cold one
Centuries live in her eyes
Destiny laughs over jack-booted thighs
“Work makes us free” says the sign
Nothing leaves here alive
She steps out of line to the left,
and her father to the right
One sides a cold, clean death
The other is an endless night
Gold from a grandmother’s tooth
Mountains of jewelry and toys
piled in the corners, mailed across the borders
Presents for the girls and boys
Presents for the girls and boys
It gets darker every night
Spread-eagled out among the stars, she says
Somewhere in this tunnel lives a light
Still, my beating heart
I have never known a man
What man will want me now?
Am I still alive, somehow?
If I can survive, somehow
Soldiers from the other side
liberated them at dawn
Gave her water, gave her life
She still had all her clothes on
She lived until she died
Empty as the autumn leaves that fly
Surgeons took the mark
but they could not take it far
It was written on her heart
Written on her empty heart

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Wall and another Wall

As for Trump's emergency, most people know it is a political power move, not related to anything substantial at all, other than to let Trump show his base how tough he is. Private landowners in Texas are not ready to give up their property without a lengthy court fight. If the Supreme Court has the slightest respect for legalities they would step in to tell the man he has no case to call an emergency.

My feeling is that we have to push as hard as we can, just to get back to the New Deal gains we once had so that they can be built upon to make the system work for everybody - but modified to fit the needs of right now, such as a form of universal health care. How stupid do you have to be if you don't know the immediate adoption of Paygo is a way to thwart Democrats, a way to keep it all static - advanced on themselves by themselves? To what suicidal end? To fill the coffers of both parties and all greedy individuals endlessly.

LAST WEEK, MY experience, and that of some of my female co-workers, became the focus of a New York Times story on the sexual harassment and sexism that took place in the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign. I told my story to bring attention to the sexist environment that is unfortunately endemic to most workspaces, including political campaigns. However, I was disheartened to discover that the takeaway by many pundits was not that sexism and harassment is pervasive, but that Sanders was somehow uniquely culpable. I was also struck by some of the messages and tweets calling into question the character of the women who spoke out.

As was the case throughout the 2016 campaign season, my personal experiences as a woman of color were sublimated to serve an establishment media narrative that pretends the progressive movement is all white, all male, and runs counter to the interests of women and people of color.

But my story should not be taken to confirm the “Bernie bro” mythology. It should be taken to confirm the pervasiveness of sexism in professional life and distill the hard truths that all campaigns should learn from.

It’s not as if the Sanders campaign alone is nursing the last vestiges of sexism and sexual harassment in the political sphere. Both were reportedly features of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. During her first run at the White House, Clinton’s campaign chose to retain a senior adviser who reportedly harassed a young woman repeatedly rather than fire him. And just last month, an aide for Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., resigned after it was reported that he settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for $400,000.

Politics reflect society’s general problem with sexism, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.
Politics reflect society’s general problem with sexism, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. As a whole, our country does not believe, respect, or even like women as much as men. Our president has bragged about sexually assaulting women and made countless demeaning comments about their physical appearances. Two out of 9 Supreme Court justices have been accused of sexual misconduct. One in 3 women have experienced some form sexual violence. A nonprofit administered an online survey last January and found that 81 percent of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment. The numbers and stakes are even higher for women of color and transgender women.

It’s not surprising, then, that these systemic problems infect political campaigns — especially since those calling the shots are mostly male, white, and disconnected from the working class. In my experience, women hired as strategists or managers are frequently treated like assistants and translators. Men often pass off our ideas as their own and “put us in our place” if we are too assertive.

It’s the classic double-bind: We are not smart enough or too smart; not attractive enough or too attractive; not dressed appropriately or dressed too nicely; not poor enough or too poor; not confident enough or too arrogant; not likable or too female. To be a woman in politics is to be held to an unattainable standard of perfection. To be a woman of color is even harder. When we see women like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez overcome the odds against her, set these expectations on fire, and score impressive accomplishments like getting the media and Democratic leadership to take a Green New Deal seriously, we should rejoice. But even she’s not immune. 

AFTER THE NEW York Times story, I was hoping to see a more productive discussion about the insidiousness of sexual harassment and sexism in politics. In sharing my experiences, I was hoping to highlight this issue for all future campaigns and celebrate the power of women organizers who worked together and successfully got the attention of Sanders and his team. But that’s not what happened.

For one, the corporate media unfairly focused on Sanders — casting the harassment that happened within his campaign much differently than similar cases with other campaigns — implicating his personal ethics in a way that they’ve declined to do with other politicians.

Sanders recently apologized and acknowledged that his 2016 campaign could have handled sexual harassment and sexism claims better, and in his 2018 re-election campaign, he reportedly instituted sharper protocols like better hiring, training, and designating an independent firm that staff could utilize to report sexism and harassment. But new allegations of sexual harassment in his 2016 campaign have since surfaced, indicating the depth of the problem was likely deeper than most knew. Now, Sanders should take the rare step of setting up an independent investigation into the 2016 allegations. 

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At the same time, I was deeply disappointed by the feedback I received from some on the left. Both myself and other women who spoke on the record about our experiences on Sanders’s campaign received messages and tweets from Sanders supporters accusing us of lying and wanting to purposefully attack the Vermont senator. I was told to “enjoy my 15 minutes of fame” and was mocked while the sexual harassment I endured was normalized. Neoliberals and corporate media are unfair to Sanders and his supporters because our movement threatens their supremacy. But to dismiss our claims as mere bias is at best disingenuous and at worst cruel.

By blindly attacking anyone who raises valid concerns about sexism because it’s “not a good look” for the senator, they are actually making him look worse. Ironically, in their defense of Sanders’s campaign, these individuals are behaving as if acknowledging the presence of sexism and sexual harassment in his campaign is akin to calling Sanders a sexist — the implication that the establishment media seems keen to draw.

Accusations of sexual misconduct during a political campaign should not be weaponized to serve a political agenda. Nor should claims be ignored to protect a beloved candidate — doing so only adds to the cycle of shame and punishment that makes sexism so hard to tackle.

Sexism will persist if women are discouraged from openly talking about our experiences. I sincerely hope that neither fear of political exploitation nor personal attacks discourage other women from speaking out against sexism or any abuse they’ve suffered.