cosa nostra

HRC: Why not.

I don’t usually use this weblog for political statements, but in this particular instance there’s nowhere else to post this in its entirely, with intact links. So feel free to ignore it, I won’t be offended. 

Foreword.  Please remember that information about any and every presidential candidate — information that you should be able to find — may not be as accessible as you think it is. Nor is information necessary reliable, no matter how creditable the source may seem. According to the World Press Freedom Index the U.S. is no higher than 49th in terms of freedom of press. Remember too that television networks and newspapers are owned by for-profit corporations, and corporations have a vested interested in what news you hear.

The following are the issues that concern me. Taken together they add up to a simple fact: I cannot support HRC’s bid for the presidency. These issues are not all equal; they are not presented in any particular order, and most important, there is better documentation for some than others. Some allegations are just that — suspicions that have yet to be proven. I only include those allegations which I believe to be creditable enough to raise serious doubts. Where I have a link to what I consider a good source of information/documentation on a particular subject I have included it.

Edited to add: If I had to point to one thing that turned me against HRC, it is her unwillingness to take responsibility for the Honduras coup in 2009 and its horrific aftermath.  From The Nation: “Cáceres was a vocal and brave indigenous leader, an opponent of the 2009 Honduran coup that Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, made possible. In The Nation, Dana Frank and I covered that coup as it unfolded. Later, as Clinton’s emails were released, others, such as Robert Naiman, Mark Weisbrot, and Alex Main, revealed the central role she played in undercutting Manuel Zelaya, the deposed president, and undercutting the opposition movement demanding his restoration. In so doing, Clinton allied with the worst sectors of Honduran society.”

  • HRC both claims credit for  her husband’s presidency and rejects responsibility, depending on the impression she wants to make. She promoted Bill Clinton’s punitive crime bill and disastrous ‘three strike’ legislation; supported his Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act which gutted welfare and aid to dependent families; referred  callously to gang-related youth as ‘super-predators’ and used racist imagery to describe black youth as unruly dogs that need to be ‘brought to heel’  (video). See Michelle Alexanders’s “Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote: From the crime bill to welfare reform, policies Bill Clinton enacted—and Hillary Clinton supported—decimated black America.” and Cornel West’s editorial on her effects on the African American community. The New Jim Crow
  • When HRC was Secretary of State there was a pattern of arms sales to countries who also made large contributions to the Clinton Foundation. State Department favors and Clinton Foundation scandal “…. the unethical mixing of Mrs. Clinton’s public work and her personal fundraising/speech-giving/favor-doing. The more evidence that comes out, the more it looks as if that server was set up to provide an off-the-grid means for those two worlds to interact.”  From Salon: “As the International Business Times (IBT) reported, under Clinton the State Department signed off on $316 billion in arms sales to countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation. Now the Clinton campaign has received vastly more support from arms manufacturers than any other candidate of either party.” The Washington Post.
  • HRC said she would release transcripts of her speeches to the big banks, but still has not. If there is nothing to be worried about, she should do as promised and release them. Her refusal signals either a counter-productive, paranoid and frightening inflexibility or fear of repercussions.
  • Campaign Finance. Wasserman-Schultz rather sneakily rolled back Obama’s DNC ban on unlimited campaign contributions from lobbyist and super PACs; Hillary remained (and still remains) quiet on this. The Nation.
  • There are also questions about how much of the money she raises for the DNC actually goes to the DNC
  • She has  abandoned the pursuit of single payer health care and takes large contributions from the insurance industry — according to public disclosures, from 2013 to 2015,  she made $2,847,000 from 13 paid speeches to the health industry. She claims that at the time she did not intend to run for president. I find this to be less than plausible.
  • A disconcertingly close relationship to the banking industry and her insistence that billions of dollars of contributions from that sector do not mean that she is beholden to them is something I find both suspect and patronizing. (See in particular this interview with Elizabeth Warren in which she describes the way Clinton changed her view on the bankruptcy bill after Wall Street money got her elected to the Senate.) More on this
  • Example: HRC has many business relationships with big banks that are ethically very suspect, for example, with UBS.  The Atlantic 
  •  Opposition to the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall act,  
  • The same is true of the financial contributions she has accepted from the pharmaceutical, oil (her position and history on fracking is especially troubling as is her continued acceptance of support from that industry), and prison industries. 
  • She has repeatedly and forcefully argued for TPP. Her sudden turn around is more than slightly suspect. See The Washington Post on the objections to TPP and Jake Tapper/CNN on HRC’s support of it. Her  constant hedging on these issues is less than convincing.
  • In the slow emergence of information from the Panama Papers, questions about her own finances.
  • Her ridiculously late and unconvincing reversal on LGBTQ rights. 
  • Her support/voting for the Patriot Act, and for renewal of the Patriot Act, and her enthusiasm for domestic spying.
  • What I find most disturbing, the thing that solidifies my strong opinion that she is not fit for office is her hawkishness. Note: I would not claim that she alone is responsible for anything mentioned here. But she has been the designer, advocate and executioner of  many interventions that were unnecessary. It might be enough to say that she considers Henry Kissinger a role model, but then there’s the hard evidence of how seriously she means that.  Failures as Secretary of State (in particular)  LibyaSyriaenthusiasm for military intervention and a militaristic stance on Israel/Palestine (as a senator defended Israel’s effort to establish colonies on the West Bank and criticized the UN when it attempted to enforce international humanitarian law.) See also Salon;  NYT.
  • Example of a specific intervention with long-term tragic repercussions:  Honduras; the denial of any responsibility for the resulting human rights violations. The Nation, Alternet, Democracy Now
  • She publicly condemns over-incarceration while playing a significant role in promoting it, and taking financial donations from the private prison industry.
  • She continues to support the death penalty.
  • Her stance on immigration and exportation are destructive and anything but humanitarian. Latin Times.
  • She has supported faith-based initiatives
  • She has shown a remarkable lack of concern about evidence of election tampering and voter suppression. 
  • In addition to questions about contribution to the Clinton Foundation that may be linked to her role as Secretary of State, her emails have raised questions about her ties to the controversial for-profit colleges. As an academic and former professor I consider these institutions to be fraudulent, and in the majority of cases, designed to do nothing more than extort money from vulnerable students.

Please note that in all of this I have not addressed the primary season in any detail, though I believe that there is good reason to question the way voting has been conducted and tallied.  

These are most (but not all) of the reasons I do not and will not support HRC. Please don’t comment just to tell me that by not voting for Hillary I will be supporting Trump. If Hillary is the nominee and she loses, she alone is responsible for that loss. She has conducted a terrible campaign hampered by lies, misdirection, and disdain for those who disagree with her.


Why Anna and Sophie? On Creative Process.

I had an email from a reader not so long ago with an interesting question. Of all the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren descended from Nathaniel Bonner, why did I chose to focus on Anna and Sophie? The reader wasn’t upset about this, as I read it. Just curious. Curiosity is catching, in my experience and the question got me to thinking. Except there’s no easy answer: creative process is a complicated thing.

The result is that I am about tell the story of 2010-2013.  This is summarized and truncated to the extreme, but it is necessary to answering the actual question.

Back Backstory

The Mathematician’s job disappeared about a year after the 2008 crash — or at least, he was reduced to less than 50 percent, so all our benefits disappeared. And we have some chronic conditions in the family, so this was a big deal.  At the same time publishing was in free-fall, and two novel proposals were turned down flat by publishers who had been really happy with my work to that point.

The logical conclusion was that I should go on the job market and so for the next three years I focused on writing not fiction, but job applications (pretty much a full time occupation in itself). Now, I didn’t think it would be easy, and I knew that I had to be ready to do things I wouldn’t have considered ten years earlier, but health insurance was so important (we were paying a huge amount in monthly premiums for just average coverage at this point, on much reduced income), I went ahead and started applying for jobs. In the first year I applied only for jobs within driving distance of where we are now. I’ve got all of this recorded, but to be honest, I have no interest in revisiting that data, so I can say only approximately that I applied for about 200 jobs in that first year, had three phone interviews, and no offers.

It’s possible I could have found work if I was willing to accept something with no benefits, but the whole reason I was giving up writing had to do with health insurance. To take a job at $12 an hour — without benefits — made no sense. 

Umbridge outrate and the creative process.

Someday I will tell this story.

So in the second year I did two things: I started applying for jobs further away, in places where we could realistically live. I also took a whole series of courses at the local technical college in medical coding, which required courses in everything from anatomy and physiology to the actual coding process Here I digress:

Did you know that there is an official International Classification of Disease code for misanthropy?  ICD9 301.7. Really, you can see for yourself.

So the plain truth is, I loved the material — I really did — and it wasn’t a hardship to take these classes. If not for Dolores, I think it might have all worked out. Sometime I have to write about the experience, because the one person who taught all the coding classes was a Dolores Umbridge clone, minus about 3o IQ points. Let’s just say that we did not get along.

I was still applying for jobs while I took classes. Still not getting anywhere. Through some former colleagues I checked to make sure that my letters of rec weren’t the problem, and after consulting with lots of professional HR types and showing them my cover letters, etc., etc., I gave myself a pep talk and set out again.

I know you’re wondering about my many years in higher education, but there was no way to get back into academia. I had lots of encouragement from former colleagues, but encouragement is a long way from a job offer. University jobs were not within reach, because (1) there weren’t any within reasonable distance; (3) there weren’t any within any distance at all and (3) I had been away for ten years at that point. So even if (1) and (2) weren’t the case, the odds were not in my favor. Wait, I almost forgot (4):  Age is an issue. Not one I could prove, but it was definitely a strike against me. 

So the idea was the with retraining I could find a job in a local hospital, where the benefits were pretty good. My wildest dream (and this shows you how worried I was): I could find a 60 percent position, qualify for benefits, and be able to start writing again.

And of course none of that happened. There is more to this, of course, but I’ll spare you (and me) the details. It had little to with the creative process, and a lot to do with frustration.

In the third year I paid lots of money to a HR consultant, restyled everything, and started applying for jobs that would have meant moving far away. Some of the jobs really interested me, but nothing happened. For example: a job with the National Endowment for the Humanities, and another, in D.C. with the Peace Corp, for a writer/editor.

Have you ever looked at what goes into applying for a job with the federal government? Don’t, is my advice. It took me three days to get the application together (17 pages in all), which included a whole range of questionnaires and long essay questions. After you submit the application, if your score is high enough (they quantify everything) you’ll be notified that your application has been forwarded to the selecting official.  On this particular application I got a score of 98% — and I still did not get even a phone interview. This probably had to do with the fact that veterans (very deservedly) get a ten point boost when they apply for a job. I do not begrudge veterans those ten points, but to score a 98% and never hear a word from them, not even a letter of rejection — that was dispiriting. Shortly after that point I realized I was not going to get anywhere, and I turned back to writing. Which meant turning the creative process back on. And that’s a lot like priming a pump.

So I sat there in front of my computer and debated about where to start. I made lists and notes and argued with myself. I considered multiple approaches, all the time keeping in mind that whatever I wrote, I had to be able to sell it. And that it would be at least two years before I saw any money. I was still pretty outraged about Umbridge, and one day it occurred to me that I could put all those courses to use anyway, if I had a medical theme. 

Bottom Line

Umbridge was the first step toward Anna and Sophie. They ended up in Manhattan in 1883 because I have always been interested in New York city history of that period, and it was chock-full of potential storylines, medical and otherwise.  I did consider writing Birdie’s story, set in New Orleans, but in the end Anna and Sophie and Manhattan just worked better for me.  I may, someday, write Birdie’s story. But don’t hold your breath, please.



On Turning 60

About this birthday

see this.


What follows is a list of things, good and bad, I have learned or come to accept about myself or life more generally.

I put this together primarily for posterity (that is, my daughter), but I decided to post it here, too. Tucked under James Taylor, so you might miss it altogether, and that’s fine, too.

Above all things I admire and respect generosity of spirit, thoughtfulness, and integrity.

Things I will never learn to appreciate and have given up on (note that these are not things I hate. That would be a different listing altogether): lima beans, kale, oysters, marshmallows, beets, chess, the mystery genre, Monopoly, William Faulkner,  South Park, Family Guy, football.

I am impatient with the incompetent, and intolerant of the willfully ignorant. Delusional people and magical thinkers bring out my misanthropy. The other way to look at this is that I have completed my training to be a cranky old woman. With honors.

Hypocrisy, moral cowardice, arrogant and prideful ignorance make me retreat in disgust. This often makes me look insensitive, superior and condescending when what I am, primarily, is frustrated. With the less fortunate I can and will gladly curb both impatience and intolerance.

I have no talent for music.

OCD runs my life, much of the time.

The older I get, the more I avoid meeting new people.  I am uncomfortable at parties, even when I know and love everyone there.

I would like to believe in karma. However, I see no evidence for this actually being the way things work in the world.

Paisley is too ugly to tolerate. 

I am convinced that Cheney faked needing a wheelchair so he wouldn’t be obliged to stand when President Obama was sworn into office. 

The quickest way to offend and possibly make an enemy of me:   to underestimate my intelligence; placate or condescend to me;  betray my trust, maliciously hurt or cause harm to someone I care about, brag and claim credit where none is due.

Some things that make me happy: dogs, good weather, peonies, hazelnut meringue, a well written or told story, fruit, New England, New York, New Jersey, history, libraries.

I don’t belong in the countryside. I should live in a city.

A life lesson that still shocks me when it happens: There are people who choose to declare you to be a bad or negative person so they can escape feeling guilty about the things they do or the way they treat you.  Pokey.

At the same time: If you are willing to look at another person’s behavior toward you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time, cease to react at all. (via Yogi Bhajan)

Things I regret: the time and effort I put into launching Quilting Arts Magazine, not getting my father to talk to me about his childhood in Italy, majoring in linguistics rather than anthropology, leaving Michigan.

Everybody needs a tribe.  And a dog. Because dogs are the most perfect of creatures under the sun.

Never, ever will I be able to play (let alone win) a timed word game  I freeze.  Thus: I vow to Boggle no more: 

True extroverts amaze and disconcert me.

Housekeeping and cleaning: not for me. At the same time: I feel terribly guilty about a less than clean and tidy house.

I have only ten years to be in my sixties.

Lots of money really does make life easier. If you come by it in a way you don’t have to be embarrassed about. Still unclear to me if I can make  that happen.

From about twenty-five to forty I lived on the periphery of pretty. In part because my inescapable genetic fate is to be a little old round Italian lady, I will never live in that neighborhood again. The lack-of-pretty has always caused me discomfort, and that will not go away with age.

I have never earned and will probably never learn how to accept flattery; it makes me both uncomfortable and suspicious. 

The secret of life really is enjoying the passage of time.

In Which the Mathematician Fractures his hip

femoralneckYesterday evening the Mathematician was tooling around logging roads on Chuckanut Mountain, when his mountain bike hit a rock and dumped him, really, really hard, on his left hip.  In true Mathematician fashion, he walked home. Took him about forty minutes.

At the ER they said, wow, that’s a great hematoma. It will go away on its own, but let’s get a film, first.

Then they said, wow, broken hip. Didn’t see that coming. 

It’s the neck of the femur, to be exact. And he walked home on that. So sometime today he’s headed into surgery. I won’t be around much, but I’ll post when I can with updates.