Critique of Warren (or Clinton) isn’t always sexist

I don’t think I am sexist, but maybe I am and just don’t know that I am?

This issue arose as I exchanged messages with a few on twitter regarding the candidacy of Elizabeth Warren. I can comfortably say that when you engage in critical analysis of ideas, and the ideas are those of a woman, critique isn’t evidence of sexism or misogyny-it’s evidence of an ability to engage in critical thought.

If you are involved in public education, assessment and the analysis of data: it’s vital that you know what that type of cognitive engagement means and what qualifies as evidence of it happening. To suggest that a person’s ideas aren’t worthy of standing alone for analysis and must be defended simply because the thinker is a woman says more about you, your lack of objectivity and your feelings regarding a woman’s ability to think than the nature of the critic or the critique. 

But let’s just keep it about my analysis regarding candidates, not the self-congratulatory “gotcha” mindset of those who latch onto what’s in a candidate’s pants instead of what is in their platform.

If Warren had run against Clinton in 2016, I would have voted for her over Clinton in a heartbeat. Over Sanders too, to be honest. That move by Warren would have spoke to what is in her heart and to her drive to lead- and a belief that she would be better for this country than Hillary Clinton (which I believe is true). Even though I was inspired by the Sanders run, and am again, I knew (then and now) that the machine would rise up against him in a way it wouldn’t be able to against Warren. I had seen Warren speak about a First-Lady Clinton and read her words about what allegiances with the wealthy do to candidates and office-holders:

 “The bill was essentially the same, but Hillary Rodham Clinton was not,” she wrote. “Hillary Clinton could not afford such a principled position. Campaigns cost money, and that money wasn’t coming from families in financial trouble.” (from this 2016 Washington Post article)

I had also seen prior to that the February 2005 testimony given by Warren regarding consumer protection from bankruptcy. You know, the one where lifelong mansplainer Joe Biden sides with protecting the profits of creditors over consumers, and tells a then Professor Warren in a very paternalistic way “You’re very good, Professor”   when it becomes clear that he is intellectually and morally outmatched.

I actually thought back then: This woman could be president someday.

But Warren didn’t run for the 2016 election and my choice was Sanders or Clinton. Have you asked yourself why Warren didn’t run? The seeds of a potential run must have been germinating in her mind. She must have thought about it. Others besides me must have hoped she would.

Her unwillingness to step up to seek leadership was probably a result of her being told not to; being informed that it was Hillary’s turn; that this Hillary run was planned in 2008 after a humiliating defeat by Hope and Disappointment Obama. So Warren dutifully stepped aside, and actually endorsed Hillary-even though her self-styled persona would seemingly align more with Sanders. Ironic that the banker and Wall Street shamer sided with the candidate who refused to release the transcripts of her Wall Street speeches and not the candidate who made no such speeches. I was hoping then for a Sanders/Warren ticket when Warren didn’t run, so those hopes were dashed.

But let’s stick to the here and now. I am still inspired that two candidates who offer the potential for new directions are near the front of the pack. I am sad that the establishment and mainstream media have whipped a Biden candidacy with no other justifications than nostalgia, association with President Obama, and fear of the change we so desperately need. There are too many strikes against the man already, and he just keeps swinging his bat around like some kind of maniac who doesn’t even realize he’s not up to the plate. And there isn’t a pitch to swing at. And he’s not on a baseball field. Or talking to Corn Pop at the local pool.

Warren and Sanders. Neither are unintelligent, and both have a history of being on the better side of many issues, in my mind. So why wouldn’t they team up and sweep this mother? They would be an unstoppable force and it can’t be that I am the only one who knows it. “Alas” (as an expert on being passive-aggressive once wrote). It appears I won’t get that ticket and need to compare/contrast (common core literacy standard for that skill at the grade level I teach is here) . “No tears, please” (to quote a genius I know well). To adults and children who fear those CCLS performance indicators: we can do this.

They both agreed on about 90 some percent of the votes in the 115th Congress (2017 to 2018), and are seemingly pretty simpatico , which is why I am trying to send some psychic unity vibes their way. Honestly, I don’t care who is on top of that ticket.

But there are key differences between the two. One is her support of military budgets and U.S. militarism:

“While Warren is not on the far right of Democratic politics on war and peace, she also is not a progressive—nor a leader—and has failed to use her powerful position on the Senate Armed Services Committee to challenge the status quo. While she’s voted for military de-escalation on some issues, including ending the Yemen War, she’s gone along with some of the most belligerent acts that have occurred under her watch, cheerleading Israel’s devastating 2014 war on Gaza and vocalizing her support for sanctions against Venezuela.”

Another is her willingness to court the big money. It just doesn’t look good for a candidate who has positioned herself as a watchdog of the wealthy elite and big money interests to turn around and take the payoffs from them.

Didja take offense at me saying she “scolds” them while Sanders “fights” them? Huh…didja? Suck it up. Money buys allegiance and policy, everybody knows it. Sanders is clearly more aligned with the masses, and that is why the money is aligned against him, and that is why I would choose him first.

It’s unfortunate that people who pose as data-minded, objective thinkers ignore history and historical patterns, evidence, behaviors, and data when it comes to those we would choose as leaders and those that a “Citizens United” paradigm allows us access to . It is weak thinking, whether male or female, and the failure of those types of voters, a failure to demand a better type of candidate and leader, that brought us a Trump presidency. Yuuup.

So, from a man who owes who he is today to his wife; from a father of three brilliant daughters who won’t take crap from anyone and will one day rule the world: I blame you morons for us having a President Trump. Not any “bro’s”, not sexists or misogynists. Get over yourself and give up your sad scapegoats and excuses. Vote the way you want, but if you go public with accusations that avoid intellectual engagement and deflect attention from your weakness in character: expect return fire.

Republican leaders ’take shelter behind hypocrisy’

This first appeared as a letter to the editor in the Syracuse Post Standard. It can be seen online here.

For the Republican Party, religion seems more about branding, less about belief. Passing time brings less doubt. Make no mistake, I’ve been a political junkie since the day I turned 13 plus one week. That night, I watched 6-foot-something of Bryll Cream and B.S. say, “There you go again.” It was a smug, rehearsed response to another man’s observation that Republicans would gut social programs. The former would go on, as president, to pursue that exact agenda. The latter would go on to build houses for the homeless, bring medical care to the sick in impoverished nations, and serve to this day as an actual example of grace and morality.

I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time in church, though I could do with more — only for the fact that it could make me a better son. But there’s no religion I know of that allows you to take shelter behind hypocrisy and still claim the moral high ground. Sen. Mitch McConnell should just come out and say, “I am going to blame the Democrats for obstructing if I don’t get my way, and then I will proudly refuse to cooperate with anything they want to do. Amen.” Now their standard-bearer is either an embarrassment to silently endure, or champion they are ashamed to claim.

The true struggle, though? Overcoming the complicity of Democrat leaders. They have somehow turned “lesser evil” into an art form. No wonder new blood within their ranks has both sides worried.

What is wrong with this world

So what is wrong with this world?

My answer is “Nothing that the right people can’t fix”, and I believe it. But boy, it’s starting to approach a crisis situation. To begin with, I have been watching the DNC chair debates, and am now watching the nominations and votes for the next DNC chair-have it running on my phone as I type this. The saddest thing of it all is the unwillingness, both in the debates, in the media, and right now as I watch some of these pretenders talk about a fresh start; talk about reaching out and knocking on doors; talk  about unity… the unwillingness to change and bring a powerfully new and progressive message to the people is glaring. People are desperately waiting for something to vote for (as opposed to being told they have to vote against something), and the tone-deaf and entrenched establishment that had aligned itself stubbornly behind Hillary Clinton still refuses to own up to the error of it’s ways. It isn’t that they’re full of %$#@, god no…They just didn’t organize and unite enough to effectively spread that %$#@ far and wide enough. They didn’t reach out those crap covered hands wide enough to give a fake “I care about your plight” hug and spread the smelly promise of more neoliberalism and Wall Street funded perpetual poverty politics.

Are our leaders working for us? I mean really. Have they been? If you could say that there was something wrong with the world it would be that they are not. Trump is getting the blame for a lot of stuff because he’s an almost cartoonishly deplorable character, but it was Obama who spent his administration demeaning public education, growing income inequality, allowing war crimes to go unprosecuted, and in November, on his way out, microwaving Syrian women and children.

Whoa…what was that, you ask?

Depleted uranium is prized by the US military for exceptional toughness, which enables it to pierce heavy tank armor. However, airborne DU particles can contaminate nearby ground and water and pose a significant risk of toxicity, birth defects and cancer when inhaled or ingested by humans or animals. The coalition’s promise not to use DU munitions in Iraq was made after an estimated one million rounds were used during the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 invasion. Between Iraq and the Balkans, where they were also used in the 1990s, DU rounds have been blamed on a massive increase in cancer and birth defects.

Yeah, that was President smooth. “Microwaving” is a little specious, but the article that link takes you to describes our government’s willingness to blast some depleted uranium on the collateral damage of our foreign petroleum control conquests. I don’t think radiation hurts the oil, but wow is it bad for babies. But it’s only our leaders doing it to babies in other places. Is showering foreign innocents and babies with depleted uranium how we want our leaders to represent us? Who cares about the in-your-face evils of a Trump administration when our corporate shill Democrats in name only are covertly as evil, and still feel entitled the votes of the millions they have helped to ignore and suppress only because they’ll half-heartedly fight for some health coverage and  some labor rights and some minimum wage standards. If the DNC continues to support policies that fuel economic savagery and war-hawkishness-they will be spreading those %$#@-covered huggy-hands wide, but coming back with far less than they’d hoped for.

Questions for Sam Ronan

In the aftermath of the Hillary Clinton loss and transformation of our representative democracy to authoritarian rule under Donald Trump, I’ve been reflecting on the failures of the Democrats. Specifically, the missteps of establishment Democrat politicians and pundits, the machinations within the DNC, and the obvious bias in mainstream media-all of which combined their forces to bring us to where we are. I’m no Obama-zombie or Clinton fan, but neither did I want the keys to this great nation passed on to Donald Trump-who continually displays lack of grace, humility and common sense and also shows a lack of respect for others and for his own responsibility to the office. But a Trump presidency, if you view it negatively, is something that could easily have been avoided. I won’t say that a DNC nomination for Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton was the only way, but I am  saying that a major shift in the Democrat’s platform was needed but stubbornly resisted. As a registered Independent voter who has leaned to the “D” over 90% of the time I have had moments of regret, spread throughout my almost 32 years of voting, for how I chose to register. In New York, Independents cannot participate in voting in the primaries. The state saw a challenge to this closed primary approach  in this past season, and I hope to see something done about it in the near future-but for me it might be too late, spiritually speaking. Over the last decade my votes have been wandering into third party territory more and more. I will never vote strategically for any evil, even if it’s “the lesser” one. My vote will be earned by candidates who speak to my values and priorities.

And that’s how Trump won. I didn’t vote for him, but he certainly spoke for those who did. So I have to ask, who speaks for and represents my desires for the future of America? Looking for more, hoping to hear something…anything that might convince me there was some hope in this happening, I came across some video of recent DNC chair debates.

One of the most disappointing things was seeing that the Democrats looking to lead the party want to play their future strategy as a more careful and crafty version of what just lost them the 2016 race. But Sam Ronan, a virtual unknown (I mean, I had never heard of him before) shows up on stage, looking casual and comfortable…I have to admit when I saw the thumbnail image attached to the link I thought a practical joker had crashed the event and somehow taken a seat right next to Keith Ellison. My hope in clicking “play” was that I was going to see a clever smart-ass grab a seat, take a selfie, and then get bum-rushed and dragged off by event-security.

(Sorry Sam, but if it helps- I’m way happier with what I did see.)

Sam inspired me to believe that younger energy, a fresh perspective, and some honesty is making the stage in the debates and conversations regarding the priorities for our next DNC chairperson. It becomes tiresome listening to the cautious tap-dancing some of the “hopefuls” do in addressing the issue of a clearly rigged system meant to deflect needed reforms . This is what has kept the Democrats and Republicans on a steady course taking them further and further away from the will of the majority. Sam’s willingness to be honest about why Democrats lost, and about what needs to be done to bring that party back to its people (as opposed to how to trick people into voting Democrat without changing the party) demonstrates the kind of character lacking in our representatives and our leaders.

So I shot a few questions at Sam to help me figure out what he’s all about. As a teacher, my priority is education-but understand that to me, education encompasses a whole lot more than just what happens within the walls of our schools and our elected leaders bear a significant responsibility for it.

ME: Tell me your thoughts on “education reform”, public schools, and accountability in education.

SAM: What do we really need to do to improve outcomes for today’s students? It’s a necessity to reform our education, and not just University or College. Our education used to be the envy of the world from K – Doctorate school and now we are tailing nation’s that we would call under developed in some areas! This cannot be allowed to continue! We need to focus on improving the pedagogy of our nation’s teacher’s, funding our school’s adequately, paying our teachers much, much more, and in general making school not a grind that brow beats students with information to be regurgitated.

I go into a lot of detail in terms of mixing: Finnish, Japanese, and German educational programs into our own American version that emphasizes growth of the individual, and guides them on their path to adulthood!

ME: Do you see some value in “choice” schools or charter schools that operate under the conditions described in the NAACP moratorium statement? Do you think those conditions are too restrictive?

SAM: On principle I have nothing against Charter Schools, that being said they do not deserve a single cent of Taxpayer’s dollars, nor should they be able to crumble and fail and receive an insurance payout once again at the taxpayers’ expense. This exact scenario happened in Ohio and was called #CharterGate and for good reason! So with that being said Charter Schools that are held to a strict standard equal to or greater than Public Schools is fine in my book, but if they accept public dollars at all, then they will be beholden to the public, completely.

ME:  What message(s) and or platform items should the DNC be committing to? Not so much how the DNC should commit to self-managing, but what should the DNC be more committed to policy-wise? How do you feel about these?

Clean water and air

SAM:Number 1 priority

A higher minimum wage, more stable gainful employment available at sustainable wages for workers

SAM: -Number 1 priority

Sound public education, funded and supported effectively as if it is the priority that it should be.

SAM: -Number 1 priority

Corporate money out of politics, or at least full disclosure

SAM: -Number 1 priority

Notice how all of these things are a number 1 priority? They have to be if we are to ever regain the trust and respect of the American People!

This was just a brief contact and I hope to have more time to follow up with Sam myself. I will be sharing as much as I can here and on twitter (@dmaxmj)