15

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Fifteen.

Fifteen years ago, I decided enough was enough, in regard to drink and drugs. One witness concurred. Others didn’t, but they’re all gone now, one way or another.

I married the one who did.

There was a woman in the rooms when I first went, in my hometown, who was extra badass. A nurse.

We often had conversations outside meetings, especially during those first weeks, when I was a blank slate. She’d talk about feeling pride rather than gratitude. She told me to look for my pride every day.

Find what you’re proud of, she’d say, and feel good about it. It’s yours.

Ugh, there was so little, at first. Thank god that’s over.

Fifteen years. I’m so proud now of the changes I’ve made, and the chances I’ve taken. The little ways life just keeps getting better. That my pace has slowed down just enough to help me see the big picture more often, and that it’s usually not about me. That finally I’ve let yoga teach me things like, “balance happens when ease and effort are equal.” Man, I love that one. So much is good in my life. I’ve worked hard for that.

But today, on this day…I’m most proud of my beautiful daughter, and the way she gets up every day and goes back after it, using her creative and brilliant mind to try to figure out the puzzle of the world.

That’s never easy for any of us.

But damn, her persistence is inspiring. I’m so proud of her.

I’m proud of both of us.

Never Trump: Day 17

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Jorge Ramos: Judgment Day Is Coming For Those Who Stay Silent on Donald Trump

Jorge Ramos, a TIME 100 honoree, is the author of the upcoming book Take A Stand and a news anchor for Univision and Fusion.

This essay was posted on Time.com today. 

It doesn’t matter who you are—a journalist, a politician or a voter—we’ll all be judged by how we responded to Donald Trump. Like it or not, this election is a plebiscite on the most divisive, polarizing and disrupting figure in American politics in decades. And neutrality is not an option.

The day after the election will be too late. It was too late when we realized that there were no weapons of mass destruction after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. That horrible error of judgment by the Bush administration—and the lack of strength by those opposing the war—cost thousands of American and Iraqi lives. And nobody can even say that we won the war. But hopefully we can learn something from it.

Regardless of whether Donald Trump wins or loses, we will be asked on November 9th: What did you do? Did you support him? Were you brave enough, ethical enough, to challenge him when he insulted immigrants, Muslims, women, war heroes and people with disabilities? Are you on the record correcting his lies? Did you discuss with your friends and family that in a democracy like ours there is no room for racism and discrimination? Or did you just seat idly, silently, allowing others to decide the future of the United States?

Because you will be asked.

Trump has forced journalists to revisit rules of objectivity and fairness. Just providing both points of view is not enough in the current presidential campaign. If a candidate is making racist and sexist remarks, we cannot hide in the principle of neutrality. That’s a false equivalence.

Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite were right; sometimes you have to take a stand. They did it against the dangerous persecutions of Senator Joe McCarthy and in denouncing the pernicious official spin during the worst years of the Vietnam War.

Donald Trump’s candidacy has created the same moral dilemma and sense of urgency. So, yes, when it comes to racism, discrimination, corruption, public lies, dictatorships and the violation of human rights, we have to take a stand.

Politicians have the same responsibility. It is no coincidence that, as the election nears, more and more Republicans are deserting Trump, disavowing his extremist ideas and publicly stating that they will not vote for him.

There have been two crucial moments in which even Trump supporters couldn’t defend their own candidate: when he questioned judge Gonzalo Curiel’s capacity to rule in a case in which he was involved simply because of his Hispanic ethnicity and when he criticized the silence of a Muslim-American woman, Ghazala Khan, who had lost her son, a U.S. soldier, in the Iraq war. Those moments proved to be too much even for the most loyal party members.

Fifty prominent Republicans, who worked with Ronald Reagan and both Presidents Bush, wrote a letter recently saying that Trump’s candidacy was “dangerous.” Others, like Wadi Gaitan with the Republican Party of Florida and Ruth Guerra with the RNC, have quit their jobs because they couldn’t ask Latinos to vote for Trump. And Rosario Marin, a life-long Republican who served as Treasurer with George W. Bush, decided that Trump was too “tyrannical” and decided to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Many Republicans are going through the same process with a broken heart. They clearly dislike Hillary Clinton. Her continuous problems with the e-mails, and the questions about how the Clinton Foundation has operated, only reinforce their belief that she is not trustworthy. But how can they support Trump when he makes irrational and insensitive statements?

Even Trump’s jokes aren’t funny. He suggested that “Second Amendment people” do something about Hillary Clinton (which he later insisted was an attempt to motivate them to the polls, not assassinate her). He claimed his multiple comments accusing President Barack Obama of founding ISIS were “sarcastic.”

Trump, really, is no laughing matter. But he could be the next president. That’s how democracy works.

Judgment day is coming. Will you have peace of mind come November 9th?

Never Trump: Day 16

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Conversation overheard in Mexican restaurant in Iowa:

“Ok, we gotta keep THESE PEOPLE here when they build the wall. I need my margaritas.” (Big laugh.)

In Iowa, Trump is verrrrrry close in the polls to Hillary.

This amazes me. And saddens me.

Here’s what I’m over.

People in Iowa ranting that we must “take back our country.”

As they live in serially-remodeled expensive homes.

As they buy new cars that cost as much as a house that would work comfortably for most people.

As the unemployment rate in their state remains low. 

As they buy new boats and lake homes.

As they travel wherever they want, because they have the kind of discretionary income that could build a school in a starving nation.

As they buy new clothes just because it’s Tuesday, and they want something new to wear on Wednesday, when they go to the party at a friend’s house who’s selling stuff no one needs, stuff most likely made in China.

As they whine about welfare, but have no idea who’s actually ON welfare in their own community, or why. And quantify who deserves their “help” when they deign to dole it out.

As they rant about people who should be drug tested at jobs…but…oh, let’s just not go there.

As they yell, “Kill the bitch!” and “Lock her up!” then tsk tsk about disrespectful kids these days.

As they scream about Hillary’s lies, while their man Babyhands pulls stunts like this.

So, Iowans, I’m asking:

Take back our country, from what, exactly?

From the black president you hate because he’s black?

You have it all. What do you possibly need to take back, that you don’t already have?

I see you. I’m so over you.

Never Trump: Day 15

In which a focus group of Trump supporters are asked to give their opinion on a series of increasingly crazy campaign promise videos. The thing is, all the videos are fake.

OMG. 

Never Trump: Day 14

Today’s post is from Mary Shannon Little, a criminal lawyer and private investigator. Mary wrote the essay below after watching an interview between Chris Cuomo and former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani.

And It comes on the heels of Rudy Giuliani’s comments today, during his travels with Trump. He claims terrorists failed to successfully strike the United States in the eight years before President Obama and former secretary of State Hillary Clinton took office. Um, what? 

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Apologist-in-Chief by Mary Shannon Little

Rudy Giuliani is Trump’s latest apologist-in-chief. Arguably, the only smart thing Donald Trump has done since starting his latest reality TV show, also known as the Presidential election 2016. Mainly, because Giuliani speaks in sentences and isn’t ostensibly nuts. Although Giuliani more than adequately completed the Trump as Hitler metaphor by doing his best Mussolini impersonation during the Republican Convention.

Lately Giuliani has been scrambling from network to network waving bright, shiny hyperboles in an effort to distract the country from Trump’s horrifying suggestion that militiamen assassinate Clinton. Giuliani says that what Trump says doesn’t matter because Hillary Clinton is a criminal and the Clinton Global Initiative is racketeering enterprise. “I could indict her in three weeks,” he boasted to Chris Matthews. And then in his most lawyer-like voice named 18 U.S.C. Section 701 as the statute under which he would do it. That statute makes it a crime to misuse a federal insignia. It’s been a while since former US Attorney Giuliani read the United States Code. And judging from his escalating Trump-love, the US Constitution, too.

Giuliani doubled down in an interview with Chris Cuomo on August 11th when he criticized FBI Director Jim Comey’s conclusions about Hillary Clinton’s emails. “[Comey] worked for me,” Giuliani said. “And he was wrong.” And then stringing together a series of events that seemed to begin with the Lindbergh kidnapping and ended with Attorney General Loretta Lynch engaging in Martha Mitchell-esque telephone calls the night before Comey’s press conference, said there was no plausible explanation for Comey’s wrong-headed decision, except corruption in the White House and those racketeering Clintons. “I worked in the White House,” Giuliani explained as the basis for his assertion that Comey had been improperly influenced. America’s Mayor has held many distinguished posts, but he never worked in the White House. He was number three at the Justice Department during the Reagan administration. But perhaps like his friend Trump, Giuliani tells the truth when he doesn’t mean to. Because by saying he worked in the White House when he did not, he was suggesting that President Reagan’s Department of Justice answered to the West Wing. He obviously assumes all Attorneys General and FBI Directors, in the Nixonian tradition, report to the West Wing and that prosecutorial decisions should be based on political expediency. That’s the only plausible explanation for why he accuses Republican Jim Comey of playing Democratic politics.

I worked for Rudy Giuliani as a federal prosecutor in New York City from 1985 through 1988. I spent three of those years in the Public Corruption Unit. I began my tenure with the investigation of the NYC Parking Violations Bureau, which culminated in Giuliani himself trying Bronx Democratic Party boss Stanley Friedman. I then oversaw a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional investigation of Wedtech, a federal government defense contractor that paid bribes to over fifty federal, state, and local officials, including New York Congressmen Mario Biaggi and Robert Garcia. As part of the Wedtech investigation, I conducted the preliminary investigation of Attorney General Ed Meese. After an independent counsel was appointed to continue the investigation, Meese was forced to resign.

I admired Rudy Giuliani then. He said it was my job to throw the full weight of the federal law at every bad pol I found. Politics was to play no role. Even when my target was Rudy’s boss and one of President Reagan’s oldest friends. (Although, Rudy the Republican didn’t mind watching Koch the Democrat swing while we tore his administration apart borough by borough, agency by agency.) But Rudy was young, barely 42 years old. He didn’t need votes or campaign donations to put people in jail. Only hard-working lawyers, decent federal judges, and twelve men and women in a jury box.

Maybe he was an idealist back then. He told me my most important job was to tell the truth. When I stood up in a courtroom, he said I was speaking not just for the victims of crimes, but for the United States of America and its Constitution, too. My job was to defend that Constitution, and to maintain its and my integrity while doing so. I’m sure Giuliani told Director Comey, former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, former Chicago US Attorney Pat Fitzgerald, former New York US Attorney David Kelley, former Homeland Security Advisor Fran Fragos Townsend, former Iran-Contra prosecutor Michael Bromwich, current Counsel to the President Neil Eggleston, and the countless other superstars with whom I worked, the same thing. Only, we believed it. If Rudy believed what he said then, he certainly doesn’t now.

Donald Trump is the kind of guy I used to put in jail. I don’t need Mayor Bloomberg or a letter from 50 GOP officials to explain how dangerous he is. I only need to listen to him on any day in any city. He never disappoints. And now, I have to listen to Rudy Giuliani lie, obfuscate and attempt to con me too.

I am embarrassed to have served under Rudy Giuliani. When he finishes apologizing for Trump, he owes me an apology, too.

Follow Mary on Twitter. 

Never Trump: Day 12

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THE TRUMP TOP 10

© 2016, Jim Mendrinos

Follow him at: https://twitter.com/JimMendrinos

From the home office in beautiful downtown Patterson, NJ comes…

THE TOP 10 REASONS YOU SHOULDN’T VOTE FOR TRUMP

10) Do you really want to spend the next 4 years explaining to your children why he pronounces “Huge” with a “Y” in it?

9) How will we ever ban Red Dye #2 from food if he insists on putting Orange Dye in his hair.

8) I’m fairly certain he doesn’t understand that he can’t fire a Supreme Court Justice.

7) Do we want a generation of children who can Google the First Lady’s nipples?

6) I like vagina too much to vote for someone who is that afraid of it.

5) He’ll never be able to swear and uphold the Constitution until he’s actually read it.

4) Between his affection for Putin and his Eastern European wife I’m still not sure he isn’t the Manchurian Candidate.

3) If he builds the wall to Mexico I’ll never be able to get takeout food in NYC again.

2) I’m still waiting for him to release the proof that Obama wasn’t born in America, and I think he should finish that before he starts his new job.

And the #1 reason you shouldn’t vote for Trump:

1) You need someone with bigger hands to push the red button!

Never Trump: Day 11

Happy Birthday to our President.

This wonderful essay was published today by Glamour.

Glamour Exclusive:

 This Is What a Feminist Looks Like
by BARACK OBAMA

There are a lot of tough aspects to being President. But there are some perks too. Meeting extraordinary people across the country. Holding an office where you get to make a difference in the life of our nation. Air Force One.

But perhaps the greatest unexpected gift of this job has been living above the store. For many years my life was consumed by long commutes­—from my home in Chicago to Springfield, Illinois, as a state senator, and then to Washington, D.C., as a United States senator. It’s often meant I had to work even harder to be the kind of husband and father I want to be.

But for the past seven and a half years, that commute has been reduced to 45 seconds—the time it takes to walk from my living room to the Oval Office. As a result, I’ve been able to spend a lot more time watching my daughters grow up into smart, funny, kind, wonderful young women.

That isn’t always easy, either—watching them prepare to leave the nest. But one thing that makes me optimistic for them is that this is an extraordinary time to be a woman. The progress we’ve made in the past 100 years, 50 years, and, yes, even the past eight years has made life significantly better for my daughters than it was for my grandmothers. And I say that not just as President but also as a feminist.

In my lifetime we’ve gone from a job market that basically confined women to a handful of often poorly paid positions to a moment when women not only make up roughly half the workforce but are leading in every sector, from sports to space, from Hollywood to the Supreme Court. I’ve witnessed how women have won the freedom to make your own choices about how you’ll live your lives—about your bodies, your educations, your careers, your finances. Gone are the days when you needed a husband to get a credit card. In fact, more women than ever, married or single, are financially independent.

So we shouldn’t downplay how far we’ve come. That would do a disservice to all those who spent their lives fighting for justice. At the same time, there’s still a lot of work we need to do to improve the prospects of women and girls here and around the world. And while I’ll keep working on good policies—from equal pay for equal work to protecting reproductive rights—there are some changes that have nothing to do with passing new laws.

In fact, the most important change may be the toughest of all—and that’s changing ourselves.

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The Perk of a “45-Second Commute” The President has spent “a lot more time” watching Sasha and Malia (here, meeting Mac the Turkey in 2014) grow into women.

OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY PETE SOUZA

This is something I spoke about at length in June at the first-ever White House Summit on the United State of Women. As far as we’ve come, all too often we are still boxed in by stereotypes about how men and women should behave. One of my heroines is Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, who was the first African American to run for a major party’s presidential nomination. She once said, “The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, ‘It’s a girl.’ ” We know that these stereotypes affect how girls see themselves starting at a very young age, making them feel that if they don’t look or act a certain way, they are somehow less worthy. In fact, gender stereotypes affect all of us, regardless of our gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Now, the most important people in my life have always been women. I was raised by a single mom, who spent much of her career working to empower women in developing countries. I watched as my grandmother, who helped raise me, worked her way up at a bank only to hit a glass ceiling. I’ve seen how Michelle has balanced the demands of a busy career and raising a family. Like many working mothers, she worried about the expectations and judgments of how she should handle the trade-offs, knowing that few people would question my choices. And the reality was that when our girls were young, I was often away from home serving in the state legislature, while also juggling my teaching responsibilities as a law professor. I can look back now and see that, while I helped out, it was usually on my schedule and on my terms. The burden disproportionately and unfairly fell on Michelle.

So I’d like to think that I’ve been pretty aware of the unique challenges women face—it’s what has shaped my own feminism. But I also have to admit that when you’re the father of two daughters, you become even more aware of how gender stereotypes pervade our society. You see the subtle and not-so-subtle social cues transmitted through culture. You feel the enormous pressure girls are under to look and behave and even think a certain way.

And those same stereotypes affected my own consciousness as a young man. Growing up without a dad, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who I was, how the world perceived me, and what kind of man I wanted to be. It’s easy to absorb all kinds of messages from society about masculinity and come to believe that there’s a right way and a wrong way to be a man. But as I got older, I realized that my ideas about being a tough guy or cool guy just weren’t me. They were a manifestation of my youth and insecurity. Life became a lot easier when I simply started being myself.

So we need to break through these limitations. We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure and our boys to be assertive, that criticizes our daughters for speaking out and our sons for shedding a tear. We need to keep changing the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality and rewards men for theirs.

We need to keep changing the attitude that permits the routine harassment of women, whether they’re walking down the street or daring to go online. We need to keep changing the attitude that teaches men to feel threatened by the presence and success of women.

We need to keep changing the attitude that congratulates men for changing a diaper, stigmatizes full-time dads, and penalizes working mothers. We need to keep changing the attitude that values being confident, competitive, and ambitious in the workplace—unless you’re a woman. Then you’re being too bossy, and suddenly the very qualities you thought were necessary for success end up holding you back.

We need to keep changing a culture that shines a particularly unforgiving light on women and girls of color. Michelle has often spoken about this. Even after achieving success in her own right, she still held doubts; she had to worry about whether she looked the right way or was acting the right way—whether she was being too assertive or too “angry.”

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As a parent, helping your kids to rise above these constraints is a constant learning process. Michelle and I have raised our daughters to speak up when they see a double standard or feel unfairly judged based on their gender or race—or when they notice that happening to someone else. It’s important for them to see role models out in the world who climb to the highest levels of whatever field they choose. And yes, it’s important that their dad is a feminist, because now that’s what they expect of all men.

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Ladies First “Michelle and I have raised our daughters to speak up when they see a double standard,” says the President (here with his family at a 2016 U.S. state dinner).

OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY PETE SOUZA

It is absolutely men’s responsibility to fight sexism too. And as spouses and partners and boyfriends, we need to work hard and be deliberate about creating truly equal relationships.

The good news is that everywhere I go across the country, and around the world, I see people pushing back against dated assumptions about gender roles. From the young men who’ve joined our It’s On Us campaign to end campus sexual assault, to the young women who became the first female Army Rangers in our nation’s history, your generation refuses to be bound by old ways of thinking. And you’re helping all of us understand that forcing people to adhere to outmoded, rigid notions of identity isn’t good for anybody—men, women, gay, straight, transgender, or otherwise. These stereotypes limit our ability to simply be ourselves.

This fall we enter a historic election. Two hundred and forty years after our nation’s founding, and almost a century after women finally won the right to vote, for the first time ever, a woman is a major political party’s presidential nominee. No matter your political views, this is a historic moment for America. And it’s just one more example of how far women have come on the long journey toward equality.

I want all of our daughters and sons to see that this, too, is their inheritance. I want them to know that it’s never been just about the Benjamins; it’s about the Tubmans too. And I want them to help do their part to ensure that America is a place where every single child can make of her life what she will.

That’s what twenty-first century feminism is about: the idea that when everybody is equal, we are all more free.

Never Trump: Day 10

When I was a teacher, my least favorite topic was the Holocaust. There were always students whose eyes let me know this was the first they’d heard about such a thing.

And always, a student would ask me, “Why didn’t anyone stop this? How could this happen?”

I never quite knew how to answer.

The answer is playing itself out now, in our country.

What are you going to say when a child — maybe your child, maybe your grandchild –asks you, “What did you do to stop Donald Trump?”

Scenes from America, 2016, below.

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Never Trump: Day 9

A tweet from Chris Kelly, writer for Saturday Night Live, Broad City, and writer/director of upcoming movie, Other People.

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