Sunday, October 30, 2016

I really need to move

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

WELL, well, well. Once again my state makes the news, but not in a good way.  But then again, what can you expect from a state that has elected Steve King to Congress over and over again. From NBC News.

The Iowa Outlier, Where Obama Voters Go Trump

By Dante Chinni

October 30, 2016

In an election where a dominant narrative is Hillary Clinton trying to expand the Democratic electoral map, Iowa is a noteworthy outlier.

The Hawkeye State voted for Barack Obama for president in 2008 and 2012 by good margins, and yet most polls show Donald Trump with a slight lead there - even as Hillary Clinton continues to lead in national surveys.

Why does Iowa look different in 2016? One big reason is demographics. While analysts tend to lump states in the Midwest and Industrial Midwest into one category, the individual states are very different. And Iowa in particular stands out for having a large population of whites without a college degree.

Consider the numbers below, which show the 2012 electorates in battlegrounds around the Great Lakes in three categories: whites without a college degree, whites with a college degree and minority/other ("other" refers to the few voters who did not fully answer the demographic detail questions).

Out of those six Great Lakes battlegrounds, Iowa stands out as the one where "whites without a college degree" made up a majority of all the votes cast, according to exit polls. Of those six states, Iowa also had the fewest votes cast by minorities/other in 2012. In the 2016 election those numbers have special meaning.

Polls show Trump struggling with college-educated white voters. Clinton is currently on track to win that group and that would be the first time a Democrat won them since there was reliable polling. Polls also show Trump is struggling with minority voters, as Republican candidates often do.

But Trump's one bright spot in surveys consistently has been whites without a bachelor's degree.

In the mid-October the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Clinton led Trump overall by 10 points - 47% to 37%. But among whites without a college degree Trump led Clinton by 19 points - 50% to 31%.

In other words, Iowa seems to be made for Trump. That's the good news for him and the GOP. The bad news for Republican nominee and his party is there are other states - places with more diverse voter pools and better-educated populations - where there seems to be an opposite effect.

Consider Virginia and North Carolina, where Clinton seems to be doing as well or better than Obama did in 2012. In 2012, Obama won Virginia by four points. Polls show Clinton ahead there solidly. And Obama narrowly lost North Carolina, but most polls show Clinton ahead by two to four points.

Is there a broader meaning? Not a positive one for Trump or the GOP. Appealing to whites voters without a college degree might be good if a candidate's goal is to win Iowa, but it seems a less useful strategy nationwide.

Whites without a college degree are declining as a percentage of the population at large as the country diversifies and more young people attend college. And exit poll data suggest they are also steadily declining as a force in the electorate.

The point is Donald Trump has brought a different kind of energy and appeal to the 2016 presidential race, built upon populism and blue-collar support. That means Iowa could indeed flip to Republican Red on the electoral map on Election Night. But it also means that if Iowa flips it probably says more about the Iowa electorate than the direction of the country.

Friday, October 28, 2016

If only their mothers had resisted the urge

“If there is consent on both or all three or all four, however many are involved in the sex act, it’s perfectly fine. But if the left ever senses and smells that there’s no consent in part of the equation then here come the rape police.” — Rush Limbaugh

UNBELIEVABLE. Absolutely, unimaginably unbelievable that Rush Limbaugh lampoons those who believe that consent is necessary before sex, and if it's absent, it's rape! 

My wish for him is that he will be the future recipient of several rounds of non-consensual sex. I don't care how whatever that may sound, but some people only learn from experience. I wish him many, many learning experiences. 

I'm hard-pressed to choose which one of these three, Donny, the aforementioned Scumbag or the Salamader, I loathe the most. And don't bother getting up in my grill about my use of the word 'loathe.' 

It's a perfectly fine word, as well as perfectly descriptive of my feelings for these three who are proof that three million years of evolution haven't taken us far. And FYI, it's not a newly arrived opinion on my part about this trio of air, water and space-wasters.

(Click on any of these links for a trip down memory lane.)

That Slithery Salamander

Go Away

Newt Inc.

Running for President: A Money-making Proposition

But now to a luscious bit of observation by Anna North who is a member of The New York Times editorial board. 

Newt Gingrich’s Strange Fascination With Sex

By Anna North

October 26, 2016

If you’re concerned about the assault allegations against Donald Trump, are you “fascinated with sex”?

That’s the claim Newt Gingrich seemed to make on Tuesday night, when he accused Megyn Kelly and Fox News of covering the allegations too aggressively and ignoring the issue of Hillary Clinton’s speeches.

“You want to go back through the tapes of your show recently?” he asked. “You are fascinated with sex and you don’t care about public policy.”

Mr. Gingrich tried to deflect Ms. Kelly’s questions by casting them as part of a prurient obsession, rather than a serious attempt to find out whether Mr. Trump used his position of power to harass and assault women.

Mr. Gingrich wasn’t the first to use accusations of sex obsession as a distraction technique. Ted Cruz did the same last year when asked about his opposition to same-sex marriage. “Is there something about the left — and I am going to put the media in this category — that is obsessed with sex?” Mr. Cruz asked after taking questions on gay rights from reporters in Beaumont, Tex. For both Mr. Cruz and Mr. Gingrich, painting opponents as perverts is a way to avoid discussing same-sex marriage or the allegations against Mr. Trump.

Someone who seems to take a different tack is, oddly enough, Rush Limbaugh. He responded to the accusations against Mr. Trump earlier this month, saying, “The left will promote and understand and tolerate anything, as long as there is one element. Do you know what it is? Consent.”

“If there is consent on both or all three or all four, however many are involved in the sex act, it’s perfectly fine,” he went on. “But if the left ever senses and smells that there’s no consent in part of the equation then here come the rape police.”

Think about that — for Mr. Limbaugh, the problem with the left is a focus on consent. Well, he’s right. Many on the left are obsessed with consent when it comes to sex. Many believe that if someone commits a sex act that’s non-consensual, that’s a crime — possibly a matter for the “rape police,” or, you know, the police.

Voters, too, appear pretty concerned about consent. Mr. Trump’s poll numbers have dropped significantly since the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape earlier this month. And for many Americans, it’s not Mr. Trump’s “locker room talk” that’s the problem — it’s the way he described grabbing and kissing women apparently without their consent.

Though he claimed on Tuesday night not to believe the polls, Mr. Gingrich knows exactly how badly Mr. Trump’s taped comments and the accusations by women over the last few weeks have hurt the candidate. Maybe that’s why he quickly shifted gears to talk about Bill Clinton’s history with women — because he knows that Americans do, in fact, care whether their leaders assault women.

It’s worth asking whether voters should have responded differently to harassment and assault allegations against Mr. Clinton when they first came to light. But as Ms. Kelly pointed out, Mr. Clinton isn’t running for president right now — Donald Trump is. And he’s running in a country where, perhaps more so than ever, the public understands that consent matters.

Trump’s surrogates understand this, which is why they’re all trying to minimize the allegations against their candidate the best they can.

There’s one person, however, who really doesn’t get it. “Congratulations, Newt, on last night,” said Donald Trump at an event on Wednesday. “That was an amazing interview.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Amanda Hess is brilliant

“The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: "It's a girl.” ― Shirley Chisholm, former US Representative and the first black woman elected to Congress.

THE SEXISM and misogyny in the United States and worldwide makes me so crazy-mad that it paralyzes me. I feel mute. The stereotyping, controlling, possessing and oppressing of women is so pervasive, so long-standing, so accepted that trying to write about it feels like trying to drain the contents of the ocean with a straw.

I admire this New York Times Magazine piece by Amanda Hess so much that it leaves me almost breathless. And if you're a woman, especially one over 50, you will empathize and relate so strongly that you just may have to paint a sign and flood the streets. 

What’s Really Behind Trump’s Obsession With Clinton’s ‘Stamina’?

By Amanda Hess
October 11, 2016

To Donald Trump, everything is negotiable, even getting old. At 70 — about 16 months older than Hillary Clinton — he would be the oldest person ever to step into the presidency, a fact he’s determined to talk his way around. “Here’s a woman — she’s supposed to fight all of these different things, and she can’t make it 15 feet to her car,” he told supporters at a recent rally in Pennsylvania. “She’s home resting right now.” He slackened his jaw and feigned stumbling across the stage, a dramatic re-enactment of the video that showed Clinton nearly collapsing from pneumonia in September. “Folks,” Trump announced, “we need stamina.”

Vim and vigor have always featured prominently in Trump’s self-image. In his 2009 book “Think Like a Champion,” he called “positive stamina” a “necessary ingredient for success.” His Twitter feed is, accordingly, a constant stamina-evaluation zone: He has rated the vitality not only of Clinton (“zero imagination and even less stamina”) but also of Joan Rivers (“truly amazing stamina”), the world’s “many losers and haters” (“never have the brains or stamina to become truly successful”) and, of course, himself (“one of my greatest assets”). During the first presidential debate, he attacked Clinton’s stamina in four consecutive sentences: “She doesn’t have the stamina. I said she doesn’t have the stamina. And I don’t believe she does have the stamina. To be president of this country, you need tremendous stamina.”

Over the course of his career, Trump has amassed a vast verbal arsenal to wield against women — pig, dog, slob, bimbo, disgusting, neurotic, ugly — but when it comes to Clinton, it’s all stamina, stamina, stamina. The word implies everything Trump has been told he’s no longer allowed to say outright. It strikes a glancing blow at Clinton’s sex without his ever having to call her an old lady.

Growing older, Susan Sontag wrote, in a 1972 essay called “The Double Standard of Aging,” is “much more a social judgment than a biological eventuality” — an “ordeal of the imagination” that “afflicts women much more than men.” This is precisely what “stamina” pokes at: an American subconscious that stereotypes older women as sick, weak, unattractive and useless. It’s a nominally civil version of the sexist internet memes that cast Clinton as “America’s nasty mother-in-law,” and a prime-time nod to right-wing conspiracy theories that place her on the precipice of death.

For his own part, Trump presents himself as ageless — a bit older than Clinton, but only in man years, which don’t really count. He told the TV doctor Mehmet Oz that he looks in the mirror and sees “a person who is 35 years old,” like a fairy-tale villain with a charmed looking glass. He gets his exercise, he said, by gesticulating at rallies. The bizarre doctor’s note he released concluded that he’d be the “healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,” then added, “His physical strength and stamina are extraordinary.” His wives get younger with every marriage — the third, Melania, is 24 years his junior — and their youth, Trump says, only makes him more powerful. “You know,” he told Esquire in 1991, “it doesn’t really matter what they write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”

Stamina is a guy thing, and guys know it. In September, when McClatchy-Marist polled likely voters on which candidate “has the stamina to be president,” it was responses from men that put Trump on top. Stamina is a sex thing too. (Just ask the adult film actor Simon Stamina.) The word shares a Latin root with “stamen,” the long, pollen-bearing organ that protrudes from a flower. On some deep, etymological level, Trump seems to be accusing Hillary of not having a penis.

“Stamina” may have a masculine sheen, but its underlying claim — superior mental and physical endurance — has long been associated with women. As the 14th-century poet Giovanni Boccaccio wrote: “Right so can women suffer patiently,/ And all wrongs womanly endure.” In Christian theology, women aren’t typically seen as leaders, but they appear frequently as martyrs. In sports, they’re dismissed as physically inferior — except in extreme endurance contests, where they’re catching up to and sometimes beating men. (Think of Diana Nyad, who became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida, at 64.) Childbirth is a saga. And in the ultimate endurance contest — life — women survive longer than men.

Despite all the stigmas applied to aging women, the transition of menopause imparts its own strange cultural power. In 2006, Sharon Stone shared a theory about presidential politics: “A woman should be past her sexuality when she runs,” she said. “Hillary still has sexual power, and I don’t think people will accept that.” Last year, in Time magazine, Dr. Julie Holland, the author of a guide to emotional wellness called “Moody Bitches,” argued that Clinton’s body was newly primed to reach its full political potential. During perimenopause, she wrote, estrogen levels go through spikes and crashes, “but afterward, there is a hormonal ebbing that creates a moment of great possibility,” meaning that “postmenopausal women are ideal candidates for leadership.” If the double standard of aging is, as Sontag had it, a work of cultural “imagination,” then this almost-mystical approach to menopause offers an alternative fantasy, one in which women gain strength with age.

Clinton stoked all of these associations when she swiped back at Trump during the first presidential debate: “As soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world, or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina,” she said. To many observers, it was Trump who couldn’t seem to get through a 90-minute debate without losing steam — and it’s no coincidence that he has intensified his attack on Clinton’s stamina as his own has come into question. Men have always had complicated feelings about women’s capacity for suffering, a mix of admiration at the fulfillment of the feminine role and anxiousness at the special power it affords. Men have made women suffer, then envied how well they’ve managed it.

So even as women have been valorized for their endurance, structures have emerged to rein it in. In 1852, Ohio passed a law limiting the work day to 10 hours — but only for women and children. By 1917, all but nine states passed similar laws. “Women are fundamentally weaker than men in all that makes for endurance: in muscular strength, in nervous energy, in the powers of persistent attention and application,” Louis Brandeis argued in front of the Supreme Court in 1908. He framed women as not only physically but somehow metaphysically incapable of working like men: Their “special physical organization,” he claimed, meant excessive work could engender a “laxity of moral fibre.” All this paternalistic concern helped alleviate a deeper fear: If women were barred from working long hours like men, they couldn’t take men’s jobs. The laws, predictably, did not apply to domestic service.

Women who compete in male territory have always had to prove themselves to be twice as good. In the face of these hypercompetent, superqualified women, who have surmounted every barrier set before them, the sexist backlash has been forced to retreat, regroup and adapt. Sure, women can perform like men, this critique says now. But maybe they can keep up the act for only so long. Maybe they can rise to a certain level, and no further. The House? Sure. The Senate? O.K. Secretary of State? I guess. But the presidency?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Stop smoking; it's even worse than you thought

"Even decades after cessation, cigarette smoking confers long-term risk of diseases including some cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and stroke." — Dr. Stephanie London, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

I DON'T know many people who still smoke, but there's at least one I love who does. It's not Paul, BTW. 

When we met almost 25 years ago, Paul was a light smoker. Although he didn't smoke in the house or the car or around me, quitting was a non-negotiable demand on my part. 

Not trying to sound like Spock or something here, but it was just entirely illogical. Paul was extremely asthmatic as a child, he needs full lung capacity to play the trombone . . . and most of all, of course, the odds were high that smoking would not just impair his overall health but also shorten his life. Neither thing was okay with me.

Below are two articles containing recent data about smoking. The first is from ABC News and the second from NBC News.

FYI: Highest rate of smoking among men is in Arkansas and among women, Kentucky. The lowest for both men and women is Utah.

One-Fourth of US Cancer Deaths Linked With One Thing: Smoking

By Lindsey Tanner, AP Medical Writer

October 24, 2016

Cigarettes contribute to more than 1 in 4 cancer deaths in the U.S. The rate is highest among men in Southern states where smoking is more common and the rules against it are not as strict.

The American Cancer Society study found the highest rate among men in Arkansas, where 40 percent of cancer deaths were linked to cigarette smoking. Kentucky had the highest rate among women — 29 percent.

The lowest rates were in Utah, where 22 percent of cancer deaths in men and 11 percent in women were linked with smoking.

"The human costs of cigarette smoking are high in all states, regardless of ranking," the authors said.

They analyzed 2014 health surveys and government data on smoking rates and deaths from about a dozen smoking-linked cancers. Lung, throat, stomach, liver, colon, pancreas and kidney cancers were among those included, along with leukemia. The researchers estimated how many cancer deaths were likely attributable to smoking, and compared that with deaths from all cancers.

Results were published Monday in the JAMA Internal Medicine.

While U.S. smoking rates have been falling, 40 million U.S. adults are cigarette smokers and smoking is the top cause of preventable deaths, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


The study found that at least 167,000 cancer deaths in 2014 — about 29 percent of all U.S. cancer deaths — were attributable to smoking. A government estimate based on different methods says 1 in 3 U.S. cancer deaths are linked with smoking, and the study authors acknowledge they may have underestimated the true burden posed by cigarettes.

Most of the 10 states with the highest rates of smoking-attributable cancer deaths were in the South, while most of the 10 states with the lowest rates were in the North or West.

Among men, where smoking is generally more common, the cigarette-linked cancer death rate was highest in blacks at 35 percent, compared with 30 percent for whites and 27 percent for Hispanics. Among women, whites had the highest cigarette-linked cancer death rate — 21 percent, compared 19 percent for blacks and 12 percent for Hispanics.


The researchers say nine of 14 states with the least comprehensive smoke-free indoor air policies are in the South. The average cigarette excise tax in major tobacco states, mostly in the South, is 49 cents, compared with $1.80 elsewhere. The tobacco industry heavily influences these policies and most of the U.S. tobacco crop is grown in the South, the researchers said. The region also has relatively high levels of poverty, which is also linked with smoking.


Dr. Hilary Tindle of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, said the results reflect what she sees as a tobacco researcher and internal medicine specialist in the South. She was not involved in the study.

Smoking is more of a social norm there, and while her medical center has an indoor smoking ban, she said it's not unusual to walk through cloud of cigarette smoke outside the entrance.

Tindle said the study results highlight the need for stronger tobacco control measures and show why doctors should discuss smoking at every patient visit, encourage smokers to quit and inform them about effective ways to do so.

Smoking Permanently Damages Your DNA, Study Finds

By Maggie Fox

September 21, 2016

Smoking scars DNA in clear patterns, researchers reported Tuesday. Most of the damage fades over time, they found — but not all of it.

Their study of 16,000 people found that while most of the disease-causing genetic footprints left by smoking fade after five years if people quit, some appear to stay there forever.

The marks are made in a process called methylation, which is an alteration of DNA that can inactivate a gene or change how it functions -- often causing cancer and other diseases.

"Our study has found compelling evidence that smoking has a long-lasting impact on our molecular machinery, an impact that can last more than 30 years," said Roby Joehanes of Hebrew SeniorLife and Harvard Medical School.

Heart disease and cancer are both caused by genetic damage -- some of it inherited, but most of it caused by day-to-day living. Smoking is one of the biggest culprits.

The team examined blood samples given by 16,000 people taking part in various studies going back to 1971. In all the studies, people have given blood samples and filled out questionnaires about smoking, diet, lifestyle and their health histories.

They found smokers had a pattern of methylation changes affecting more than 7,000 genes, or one-third of known human genes. Many of the genes had known links to heart disease and cancers known to be caused by smoking.

Among quitters, most of these changes reverted to the patterns seen in people who never smoked after about five years, the team reported in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics.

But smoking-related changes in 19 genes, including the TIAM2 gene linked to lymphoma, lasted 30 years, the team found.

"These results are important because methylation, as one of the mechanisms of the regulation of gene expression, affects what genes are turned on, which has implications for the development of smoking-related diseases," said Dr. Stephanie London of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, who directed the team.

"Equally important is our finding that even after someone stops smoking, we still see the effects of smoking on their DNA," London said.

Some of the affected genes had not been associated with the damage caused by smoking before. It might be possible to use them as "markers" to see who is at risk of smoke-related diseases in the future.

They might also be targets for new drugs to treat the damage done by cigarette smoke, the researchers said.

Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable illness, killing more than 480,000 Americans every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Globally, it kills about 6 million people a year through cancer, heart disease, lung disease and other illnesses.

Smoking rates have plummeted in the U.S. and now only about 15 percent of U.S. adults smoke — and just 11 percent of high school students smoke.

Quitting has clear benefits, even late in life. But it doesn't wipe the slate clean.

"Even decades after cessation, cigarette smoking confers long-term risk of diseases including some cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and stroke," London's team wrote. "The mechanisms for these long-term effects are not well understood. DNA methylation changes have been proposed as one possible explanation." 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Useful advice and wishful thinking


WORDS FAIL, n'est–ce pas? And since they have, let me instead share some useful advise 
reposted from her Facebook page about dealing with sexual harassment and assault from another of my heroes, the stellar attorney and champion of the abused and disenfranchised, Roxanne Conlin. 

"One of the things I always tell people who are experiencing discrimination or harassment is document document document. If you use your home computer, it will record the date you enter the material. You may need, at some point, to be able to prove when things happened and when you recorded it. It is also advisable to tell someone outside of your employment who you can trust and ask that person to write it down too. The reason should be clear if you have been watching tv recently, Trump's victim at People told people at the time what had happened but didnt want to have her life ruined by him.He is still trying to ruin her, but the fact that she told colleagues and friends is important to prove it is not just a recent invention because he is running for President. Most predators dont do what they do in public, so this is often the only proof of what happened. Vote now for Hillary. We dont want a sexual predator in the WH."

And now to cheer us all up, let's indulge in a little wishful thinking. Thank you Terry Tate!!! He delivers the kind of 'locker room talk' . . . well, not so much talk as purposeful action . . . I enthusiastically support.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

News shorts + Madeleine and me

“I have to tell you, my seven-year-old granddaughter said to my daughter, her mother, 'So what's the big deal about Grandma Maddy having been Secretary of State? Only girls are Secretaries of State.' Most of her lifetime, it's true. But at the time it really was a big deal.” — Madeleine Albright, former United State Secretary of State

I NEVER imagined I would have the opportunity to sit eight feet away from Madeleine Albright, shake her hand and get my picture taken with her. I'll be honest, I was a complete fan-girl in the process. 

Madeleine is genuinely one of my heroes and has been since her days as Secretary of State. She spoke in Ames earlier this afternoon and then came to the Democratic field office in Ankeny about a mile from our house. How could I miss that?!

The headline on a story today by Nate Silver on his FiveThirtyEight website . . . he's the founder of the remarkably accurate polling engine by the same name . . . reads: Clinton Probably Finished Off Trump Last Night. He's referring of course to last night's third and final debate between Donny Trump and Hillary Clinton

While Hillary was pillorying Don, Paul was playing his usual Wednesday night gig at Noce. There's a front room where the band plays and a back room that can be used simultaneously for other events, and last night there was a debate-watch party in the back for 30 or 40 people. When the debate wrapped up, most of them filtered in to listen to the band. Paul overheard one woman say, "Yup, Hillary ripped his dick off and then slapped him around with it."

Last but not least, another woman — the tenth — has come forward with assertions of being accosted by Don. To those who discount these (multiple) women's accounts by accusing them of making things up in order to garner, as Trump called it, "their 15 minutes of fame," I can only say that clearly they've never had anything like that happen to them. 

I have. And if they had, they'd know how debasing it is and how mute it makes you feel because you can't 'prove' what happened. That was even more true 18 . . . or 20 . . . or 30 years ago. We kept our humiliations to ourselves because no one was going to believe us anyway or think that it mattered. But we don't forget, and eventually we get mad enough and brave enough to start talking.

Karena Virginia Becomes 10th Woman to Accuse Trump of Sexual Misconduct

By Elizabeth Chuck at NBC News

October 20, 2016

A yoga instructor and lifestyle coach came forward Thursday with claims that Donald Trump had inappropriate sexual contact with her, becoming at least the 10th woman to make such allegations against the GOP nominee.

Flanked by women's rights attorney Gloria Allred, a Hillary Clinton supporter who has represented other women with sexual misconduct claims against Trump, Karena Virginia shared her story, tears streaming down her cheeks.

She said she first encountered Donald Trump in 1998, as she was waiting for a car service to pick her up after the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Queens, New York.

"I knew who he was, but I had never met him. He was with a few other men," she said at a press conference in New York Thursday. "I was quite surprised when I overheard him talking to the other men about me. He said, 'Hey, look at this one, we haven't seen her before. Look at those legs.' As though I was an object, rather than a person."

"He then walked up to me and reached his right arm and grabbed my right arm, then his hand touched the right inside of my breast. I was in shock. I flinched," she continued.

Trump then asked her, "Don't you know who I am? Don't you know who I am?" she said.

After she got into her car, the "shock turned to shame," Virginia said. She said that for years she felt she was to blame for the incident because she was wearing a short dress and high heels at the time.

"I have been fearful of bringing unwanted attention to my loving family and me," Virginia said. "But in the end, I feel that it is my duty as a woman, as a mother, a human being and as an American citizen to speak out and tell the truth."

Virginia is "not considering a lawsuit at this time," Allred said, but wanted to speak out in response to Trump's "ludicrous" denial of the allegations against him. Allred served as an elected delegate during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia for Clinton in July.

"About five years ago, I saw Mr. Trump once again. This time, we were at a business setting and there were many people around. He looked me up and down a few times. This time, mixed in with the feelings of shame, I felt disgust," she said.

Her claim is the latest in a string from accusers against Trump. Trump has fervently denied the accusations, in some cases going so far as to joke that the women accusing him aren't attractive enough for his taste.

Many Republicans have distanced themselves from the candidate amid the allegations, particularly following the unearthing of a 2005 tape in which Trump used lewd language to describe grabbing women.

Virginia said many people had advised her not to come forward, fearing she would be attacked by the Republican nominee. But she said Trump revealed "his true character in his own words" on the tape.

"I now understand that I was not to blame. Mr. Trump, perhaps you do not remember me or what you did to me so many years ago, but I can assure you that I remember you and what you did to me as though it was yesterday," she said. "Your random moment of sexual pleasure came at my expense and affected me greatly." 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

No, he should not

“The question is no longer whether Donald Trump should be President. The question is whether he should be free to roam among us.” — Andy Borowitz

DID YOU hear what Donny said tonight in the "debate"? He's not sure if he'll accept the results of the election. 

And people thought we (you and I and anyone with any sense) were engaging in hyperbole when we said Don has an affinity for fascism. What is he proposing? A splinter government? A coup d'etat? 

Here are two takes on tonight's rout from a pair of New York Times opinion writers.

Election? We Don't Need No Stinking Election

By Andrew Rosenthal
October 19, 2016

Remember when people, including me, thought that Donald Trump’s invitation for Russian hackers to invade Hillary Clinton’s emails was one of the most breathtakingly undemocratic things ever said by a presidential candidate? We were so na├»ve.

On the debate stage in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Donald Trump flatly refused, twice, to say that he would accept the results of the election.

Asked by the moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, whether he would make the same commitment to respect democracy made by his running mate, Mike Pence, and his daughter Ivanka, Trump gave us one of smug looks. “I will look at it at the time,” he said.

I don’t take much of what Trump says seriously. He’s not going to build a wall on the Mexican border, just for starters, unless his own company gets the contracts. But there is nothing more precious to American democracy than the peaceful transfer of power according to the will of the voters. It’s the founding principle of our country.

Not, apparently, to Donald Trump, who earlier in the debate claimed to be a great champion of judges who applied the Constitution literally as it was written. (Which, of course, would mean that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton could never have voted, never mind become president.)

He blamed Hillary Clinton personally for inciting violence at his rallies. (A lie.) And said that the news media are colluding with the Democratic nominee to poison the minds of voters, which is also untrue unless quoting his own words counts as poisoning. Trump then went on to talk about the “millions” of people who are falsely registered to vote. Another lie.

Wallace asked Trump again to simply say he would honor the election results. Trump’s reply: “What I am saying is that I will tell you at the time. I will keep you in suspense.”

Clinton responded with a huge understatement. “That’s horrifying,” she said.

Trump won’t commit to honoring the election results. He is encouraging people to go to voting places to “monitor” voter fraud — a dog whistle for intimidating minority voters. And now he says he won’t stand by the American people’s judgment.

I don’t believe Trump is going to lead a popular uprising after Election Day. He’s not the leader of a movement, as he says. He’s a narcissist. If he loses, he’ll probably go back where he came from, to the haze of reality TV and shady business dealings.

But it was still terrifying to see someone in an American presidential debate implying that he did not respect the democratic system.

Donald Trump's Civics Class

By Mark Schmitt
October 19, 2016

Donald Trump “denigrates democracy,” as Hillary Clinton said, when he suggests that the election is rigged, or will be rigged, or that his opponent “shouldn’t have been allowed to run.” But he also shows a bizarre disregard for the idea that democracy is a collaborative enterprise, that it’s not a system in which a single individual exercises total power. That’s evident in his repeated claims that Clinton, as a senator, could have “changed the law” on, for example, the tax breaks he’s taken. It’s evident on his own side as well, with the idea that he can build a wall or single-handedly impose tariffs or taxes on companies that move jobs abroad.

Trump doesn’t understand the basics about how American government works, but beyond all the technicalities, he also shows a staggering lack of regard — or even acknowledgment of — democracy as a joint enterprise rather than a sole proprietorship.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Iowa Law Enforcement Academy helps DV survivors

“Recently a former client brought us three new pairs of pajamas. She told us that for her the most precious thing was the pair of pajamas she got that first night here at New Beginnings. She has put that pair in her drawer and wears them only one week a year because she doesn’t want them to wear out too quickly. She wears them on the anniversary of what she calls, ‘my first dream.’ We would never have stumbled on such a good thing for those we serve if it hadn’t been for Helen’s Pajama Party. Please party on!” — Sister Charla, retired Executive Director of New Beginnings shelter in Dubuque, Iowa

SOME OF you know that in addition to writing Hey Look Something Shiny and, with Paul, managing Turner Center Jazz Orchestra and owning Brainstorm Iowa, I started a charitable non-profit ten years ago called Helen's Pajama Party that collects and distributes new pajamas to domestic violence shelters.

More than 10 million women (and men) are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States every year, and on average more than 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines each day!

Those who escape an abusive household are often literally running for their lives and have nothing but the clothes on their backs when they flee. The goal of Helen's Pajama Party is to have a pair of new pajamas ready and waiting for every survivor who seeks refuge at a domestic violence shelter.

Since its inception, Helen's has provided thousands of pajamas to shelters in Iowa; I've also held drives for shelters in Arkansas, North Dakota and Nevada.

But it's really not me. Granted, it wasn't a bad middle-of-the-night idea, but it's the collective effort of everyone who has given pajamas or money, hosted a pajama party, donated goods or services, wrapped pajama packages at Christmas, made deliveries to shelters or helped me in any other way — as well as the media coverage local newspapers, radio and TV stations have provided — who in actuality supply the pajamas.

October 11 was an example of diverse community resources coming together to provide for domestic violence survivors in Iowa. Tiffany Allison, founder of Soaring Hearts and survivor-advocate extraordinaire, mentioned Helen's Pajama Party to I
owa Law Enforcement Academy instructor Molly Jansen and chaplain Judy Wadding who then proposed that two current classes, #270 and #271, engage in a competition to see which class can collect the most pajamas, and that the classes also help sort, tag and pack pajamas for Helen's.

Eighty officers-in-training made for a lot of able-bodied help. Previous places we've held Helen's Pajama Party working events were too small or impractical for other reasons, so I asked for help from Professor Ronn Newby at DMACC, and he arranged for us to use space in a brand new building on the Ankeny campus. Ronn also provided student volunteers from Phi Theta Kappa honor society to help unload the truck that Paul rented to cart all the stored pajamas to the event for processing, and assist in other ways.

Ronn also happens to be the deserving 2016 Helen's Pajama Party Volunteer of the Year award for organizing Phi Theta Kappa pajama drives the last two years that yielded more than 600 pairs of new pajamas.

Karl Schilling, president of the Iowa Organization for Victim Assistancegraciously attended to take the pictures you see. But please note that none of this would have happened without Paul. We had a crew to unload the pajamas from the truck, to sort, tag and pack them and reload the truck, but Paul loaded the truck to begin with all by himself, and spent many days beforehand helping me plan and organize and redesign the Helen's Pajama Party website.

So as usual, Paul is my hero.

We're still short 60 women's size 1X, 210 2X, 67 3X and probably 100 kids pajamas needed to complete the orders for all the Iowa shelters, but we were able to completely fill Council Bluff's Phoenix House needs just in time for Iowa Senate Majority Leader, Michael Gronstal to deliver them October 18. 

Senator Gronstal and me at our office before he and Paul somehow managed to get all of these boxes and at least one more into his Prius!

And as a reminder as to why Paul and I do this, here's another letter from Sister Charla who has always been, and remains, an inspiration to me.

"The first night a woman comes to stay with us, we invite her upstairs to what we call Pajama Dreamland to browse and choose a pair of pajamas that fit her best. We explain that by 'fit' we aren't just talking about the size. We mean her dreams and hopes for a new life.

​Today I took a newly arrived victim upstairs to pick out her pair. With eyes sparkling for the first time since walking through our door, she told me that if it were just the fit in terms of size, it would be easy, but considering what we asked she said, 'Suddenly I have so many possibilities. Pajamas with flowers — I can plant my own, and no one will stomp them dead. Pajamas with soft colors — I can dream and know my dreams have a chance. Pajamas with puppies — I've always wanted my own dog, and now I could have one. Pajamas with lace and bows — I'm a woman and maybe I can learn to be proud of that. Pajamas with clouds — I can go to sleep and not be afraid.'

With so many choices, I asked her if one pair would be enough. She said, 'To have one sweet dream is more than anything I have ever known. One is enough.'"

Sister Charla

Executive Director of New Beginnings, Dubuque.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Michelle Obama stands up to a misogynist

"This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable. And it doesn't matter what party you belong to — Democrat, Republican, independent — no woman deserves to be treated this way. None of us deserves this kind of abuse." — Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States of America, October 13, 2016

EVEN Glenn Beck, who's never been known for being unbiased, reasonable or even rational at times, called the speech Michelle Obama gave October 13 in New Hampshire, "the most effective political speech I have heard since Ronald Reagan."

Below is an opinion piece from CNN by Errol Louis.

Photo from the Concord Monitor and the AP.
Michelle Obama's devastating speech

By Errol Louis
October 14, 2016

In the course of attacking Donald Trump on the campaign trail Thursday, first lady Michelle Obama created a watershed moment in the national conversation about gender equality -- one with effects that will surely last long after the votes are counted on November 8.

Michelle Obama, stumping for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, launched a devastating attack on the brazen, scandalous words and behavior of Donald Trump, especially his foul-mouthed boasts about sexually attacking women.

The speech will be remembered for its powerful condemnation of the abuse and harassment that women endure on streets and in the workplace -- in a speech delivered, fittingly, almost exactly 25 years from the date another talented black attorney, Anita Hill, testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about having been harassed by Clarence Thomas, who had been nominated for the Supreme Court.

"This is not normal. This is not politics as usual," Michelle Obama said, her voice breaking with emotion. "This is disgraceful. It is intolerable. And it doesn't matter what party you belong to -- Democrat, Republican, independent -- no woman deserves to be treated this way. None of us deserves this kind of abuse." She implored the crowd to "stop this madness" by voting for Hillary Clinton.

Madness is an apt term for the torrent of insults, lies, conspiracy theories and hopeless rage that Trump bellows from every podium as his campaign implodes.

But Obama went beyond the politics of the moment. "I know it's a campaign, but this isn't about politics. It's about basic human decency. It's about right and wrong," she said. "And we simply cannot endure this, or expose our children to this any longer -- not for another minute, and let alone for four years. Now is the time for all of us to stand up and say enough is enough."

Something similar happened in 1991, when Hill, a law professor, told a panel of white, male senators about allegedly being subjected to lewd comments and behavior by Thomas -- only to encounter hostile, skeptical questioning. Hill endured the ordeal with grace... and Thomas got confirmed. But the nation was never the same.

The spectacle of disbelieving male senators badgering Hill galvanized the country. Congress swiftly passed a law making it easier for women to sue for damages in harassment cases, and the 1992 elections saw 24 women elected to Congress and four to the Senate -- including the first-ever black woman senator, Carol Moseley-Braun, one of several freshman lawmakers who cited the Hill hearings as their inspiration for running.

Women everywhere became less reluctant to speak up about harassment: in the year after Hill testified, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which tracks claims of sexual harassment, got 10,578 such complaints -- a 72% increase from the 6,126 received the year before Hill testified.

Fast-forward 25 years. In an op-ed in the Boston Globe, Hill reflected on Trump's coarse and vulgar taped remarks and concluded: "Trump's language, which he and others have tried to minimize as "locker room banter," is predatory and hostile. To excuse it as that or as youthful indiscretion or overzealous romantic interest normalizes male sexual violence."

It's safe to predict that in the months and years to come, young girls and women leaders in politics, business, science and the arts will cite Michelle Obama's speech as a touchstone that inspired them to reject abuse and demand respect. That will rank among the best outcomes of a campaign that has been petty, disappointing and increasingly bitter.