Lots and Lots of Wild Cards

So Tor has a special on a Wild Cards book bundle.  If you’re interested to jump in here’s a way to start.  Wild Cards Book Bundle.  There is a new Youtube interview up where a number of us talk about Wild Cards.  Wild Cards Interviews.  And finally here is the cover for Tor’s reissue of ACE IN THE HOLE.  The amazing and really creepy cover is by the very talented Michael Komarck.

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Some Wild Cards Goodness

We have a Wild Cards Website, and every so often various writers who play in our shared sandbox write blog posts.  Stephen Leigh who has been with us since the beginning of the series has done a blog post about one of our most iconic villain — Senator Gregg Hartmann.  It certainly feels relevant at this particular moment.  You can read it here:

Pulling Strings; the Saga of Gregg Hartmann aka Puppetman

Reflections on Lord of the Rings

I’m re-reading Tolkien’s brilliant Lord of the Rings trilogy for, I think, the eighth time.  I first read the books when I was a kid visiting Los Angeles with my father.  My dad had business meetings and in an effort to keep me amused, Rodney Pantages’s wife, Lois, took me off to a bookstore and said, “Pick any book you want.”  I fixated on those amazing covers and cajoled until Lois agreed to buy me all four books, The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.  I then vanished into the upstairs bedroom at the house in the Hollywood Hills and devoured all four books over four days.  As I recall I emerged for meals and the occasional swim or hike up to the Griffith Park Observatory.  When I finished I realized I had just gobbled these books so I started all over again, this time taking my time.  When I was a child I had been obsessed with Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom and wanted to go there.  Now on the cusp of being a teenager I wanted to go to Middle Earth and ride with the Rohirrim.

I’ve written on this blog how I didn’t fully appreciate the books until I was a great deal older.  I thought all that Scouring of the Shire was really boring.  What did it matter after Aragorn became king and married Arwen?  With age came wisdom and I realized that those final chapters are the entire point of the books.

On this re-read I was struck by the fact that Tolkien is the only writer who ever made a committee meeting interesting.  The Council of Elrond is an amazing chapter and it’s just a committee meeting.  On this reading I stopped to consider why the scene worked when so often they don’t.  Too often writers use a committee meeting to rehash events they’ve already dramatized.  It’s almost a mental throat clearing, a way to vamp while you try to figure out what to do next.  And often the decision reached at the committee meeting plays out exactly as planned when the writer finally gets around to dramatizing the plans that were agreed upon at the meeting.  My advice — pick either the meeting or the caper/battle/campaign.  Or if you must do both make sure that whatever plan is concocted it goes completely pear shaped when they try to execute it.

So why did the Council of Elrond work so well?  A few reasons.  First Tolkien introduces new and major characters in that chapter — Boromir in particular though Legolas is also present.  He skates very lightly and very quickly over the events that have proceeded the meeting and instead focuses on giving us new information — tracking Gollum and his subsequent escape, Gandalf’s capture by Saruman, what’s been happening in Gondor, Strider/Aragorn is revealed as the rightful king, we learn how the sword was broken, etc. etc.  Finally it’s a major turning point for a main character.  Frodo is forced to make a decision he fears and loathes, but he accepts the burden.

Next time I find I have to include a meeting I’m going to try and remember how Tolkien did it and follow suit.

You Want to Take Action?

So January 20th looms and for many people it’s a terrifying prospect.  People don’t know how to stand for the things we support and cherish in this republic.  So here’s a suggestion.  Join the ACLU. Here is but a sample of the litigation and advocacy they have undertaken:
The Scopes trial – the right to teach evolution in public science classrooms
Supreme Court Cases:
Korematsu — challenging Japanese American internment
Miranda — the right to remain silent
Griswold — the right to contraception
Loving — the right of interracial couples to marry
Gideon — the right to a court-appointed attorney if you can’t afford one
Windsor — striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act
Obergefell — the right of same sex couples to marry.
 
This is but a small sample and with thanks to the organization for the full page ad they ran in the New York Times on November 11, 2016 detailing these cases.
 
To quote President Andrew Shepard from The American President — “For the record, yes, I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU, but the more important question is: ‘Why aren’t you, Bob?’ Now this is an organization whose sole purpose is to defend the Bill of Rights, so it naturally begs the question, ‘Why would a Senator, his party’s most powerful spokesman and a candidate for President, choose to reject upholding the Constitution?”…
‘You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.’ You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest.”
And for the record I am also a card carrying member of the ACLU.  Because our Constitution as brilliant and wonderful as it might be is in the final analysis only paper.  What we do as citizens is the only way to see its promises made manifest and move us toward that more perfect union.

When Reality Intrudes

So I’m working on the fourth EDGE book — tentatively titled THE EDGE OF INFINITY.  I’m writing on the plane coming home to New Mexico and I suddenly realize that this book is set about fourteen years after the events in THE EDGE OF DAWN.

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All three of these books have been very closely tied to the real world, and real world events and I suddenly realized that Donald Trump will be president and that is going to have a profound effect on the state of the world in 2031.  Advances in science will no doubt suffer.  The rights of minorities may well be in jeopardy.  Women’s rights may be curtailed.  The fight against climate change will have been delayed and perhaps derailed.  Which given Lumina Enterprises stated purpose to increase knowledge and understanding of the universe and the world we inhabit a real headache.  It means my paladins have been fighting a rear guard action.  That’s going to change a lot of the tone of the book, and perhaps change the emotional content of the final scene.  It might be less triumphant and more the act of people striving to find a better way on a planet far, far away.

Or in the words of Peter Diamandis  —

                           “The meek shall inherit the earth. The rest of us are going to the stars.”

New Wild Cards Story

Carrie Vaughn, one of our amazing writers has given us a terrific story about the character she created for Fort Freak.  This is all about Rikki before she became a cop, and it’s a lovely slice of life about Jokertown.  Not everything in a superhero universe has to be about saving New York, or the world, or the universe.

Here’s the link The Thing About Growing Up in Jokertown  Enjoy.406734_900

Reflections on H.L. Mencken in the Age of Trump

Last night I finished reading a terrific short story by my friend Connie Willis.  She is a wonderful writer, and also a terrific human being.  I’m not generally a reader of short fiction.  I love novels where I can wallow and spend a lot of time with the characters, but Connie is one of the masters of the short form.  Right now I’m reading a collection called The Best of Connie Willis, and I hit the story “Inside Job”.  It’s about a skeptic writer dealing with a “channeler”  and H.L. Mencken figures large in the story.

Which made me realize that we really need Mencken now.  Yes, there are clever people sounding the alarm and pointing out the absurd on numerous platforms, but in this age of scattered news it’s hard to have that one defining voice shouting at us not to be imbeciles and listen to “infernal gabble”.  But here we are where a president elect can stand on a stage uttering falsehood after falsehood.  Where idiotic conspiracy theories take hold — Jade Helm, where the governor of a state actually took seriously the idea that a military exercise was an attempt to conquer Texas, as if Texas wasn’t already part of the United States.  And Pizzagate that led to a moron ending up in a pizza parlor in Washington D.C. brandishing a gun because “think of the children”.  Or birtherism that pernicious, racist theory that the president of the United States was born in Kenya.

Mencken had a quick wit and a vicious tongue that could flay an opponent.  Not like the exchange of profane laced insults that one sees thrown about on social media.  He pointed up the absurd with laser-like precision that left his opponents bloodied and humiliated.  He is quoted frequently.  Here’s one that is especially relevant today:

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

And this, which I think is going to become the new signature tag on my emails.  I had been quoting Craig Ferguson musing about Dr. Who, but I think this works better for the indefinite future.

“In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for.  As for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.”

 

A Not So Gentle Reminder

If you visit my website and come to my blog and post a comment, and it attacks my friends — one in particular — you know who I am talking about so pay attention trolls.  I will file your comment in a round file called trash.  You do again and I’ll block you.  I moderate all comments so you aren’t going to have an opportunity to spread your nastiness on my site.  Because it’s my site.  My rules.  My friend.  My best friend.

So take your entitled little self off someplace else to bitch and moan and pretend you’re clever, and you can brag to your troll friends “how you really told him”, but deep down inside you’ll know you’re just pathetic and nobody ever saw your post.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

What can you say about a movie that is kind and sweet?  I say hooray and what a pleasant change from CGI violence and redemptive violence as the solution to every problem, and manufacturing conflict between friends and natural allies.  (I’m looking at you Captain America: Civil War and Batman versus Superman.)

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First the few quibbles I did have with the film.  I don’t think the flashing newspaper articles effectively set up the ultimate villain.  It was too quick and there was no context to the rest of the story.  Perhaps if Gellert Grindelwald had been tied in some fashion to Newt it would have worked better.  For me that eventual twist and reveal wasn’t set up well enough and hints dropped gracefully enough to make it seem integrated.

I love Eddie Redmayne and he portrayed a shy, on the autism spectrum figure very well.  He did tend to mumble so i missed some of his dialog.  I want to see the film again to see what I missed.  I also wanted a little better set up to the idea that wizards generally just destroy the magical creatures as heedlessly as humans drove the passenger pigeon to extinction and are well on the way to doing that to tigers, elephants, rhinos, giraffes — I’ll stop, it’s too depressing.

What I liked.  A lot.  Rowling in her screenplay managed to gracefully talk about anti-miscegenation laws, gay reparative therapy (otherwise known as torture), the dangers of fundamentalism, the problems faced by a smart, ambitious woman who steps out of line as exemplified by our heroine, Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein.  How the system is stacked against the “little guy”.

There is also a lovely little B story was about the muggle/no mag Kowalski and Queenie, Tina’s sister.  It’s a gentle love story.  It’s about a good man with a dream that instead of being nurtured and assisted is thwarted by greed and bureaucracy.  it’s about hard choices when Kowalski walks away from the woman he loves because to do otherwise would endanger her.  And he’s doing more then just walking away.  He’s consigning her to oblivion as he is forced to forget her and the magic he has experienced.

There’s a great deal of poignancy in this movie. Rowling leaves us with hope that things will get better, lovers will be reunited, but the adult knowledge that sometimes when evil is done its effects can’t be totally washed away.

Accountants, Arrivals and Other Strangeness

I got caught up on a few movies the past couple of weeks.  I thought I’d try to gather my thoughts about all of them in one place rather then single posts about each.  YES, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.

THE ACCOUNTANT — this was almost a good movie.  it wasn’t horrible, but it went completely sideways in the final third.  When it was about an autistic child then man trying to cope in the world, and when it was about forensic accounting it was really interesting and well done.

And then it became a study in studio notes.  I felt like I could hear every script meeting that took place and I expect some of them occurred while they were actually shooting the film.  They kept pasting things on in the hope they would stick.  The geeky girl — maybe they can have a romance?  Whoops, no, that isn’t working.  Forget her.  Abusive dad?  Or maybe he really loves his sons and they love him?  We could never decide you, audience, try to figure it out.  The treasury department agents — woman with dark secrets, boss who is a bad guy, or maybe a good guy.

I was okay with our hero not only being a math savant, but also a bad ass with a gun and in physical combat.  Dad was a crazy military dude so okay, but when they had his nemesis be his brother?  That was when the shark was well and truly jumped.  They couldn’t even figure out that relationship.  Did they hate each other?  Love each other?  Brother blamed our autistic hero for dad’s death, but it seemed like dad wanted to go to mom’s funeral.  And if the brother was going to be a big deal then he needed to be feathered in a lot more gracefully than he was.

There was one nice surprise at the end of the film, but that relationship was also short changed so they could try to make the abortive romance work.  Ben Affleck did some nice work, but it ultimately ended up feeling desperate.

DR. STRANGE —  It’s a Marvel movie.  Upper middle of the pack I’d say.  Enjoyable.  I liked it better the second time.  I am struck by how these lesser known titles are turning out to be really charming movies — Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy which I adore, and now Dr. Strange.  Cumberbatch is very appealing and seems to be having fun which meant the audience had fun too.  I also quite liked the fact they took the curse off the cloak (cloaks always look silly in modern day) by making the silly thing a character.

My biggest problem is that I share the arrogant doctor’s attitude about mystic mumbo jumbo.  Start offering to balance my aura or telling me about Uri Geller and I’m likely to get a blank stare and a polite but frozen smile.  I like the Marvel universe when it’s about aliens and infinity stones.  They dealt with the Asgardians by saying they seem like gods, but their not really gods.  Now we have magical powers.  I share Thor’s desire to drown his woes in beer.

THE ARRIVAL — What can I say?  It’s elegiac.  A science fiction movie built around linguistics.  A theme that life, no matter what tragedies it may hold, is worth living to the fullest.  It’s also a beautiful celebration of smart people doing smart things.  You know… the elites using their education and their brains to solve complex issues as opposed to people setting off a bomb to fix a perceived problem.  I want to see it again so I can really study the structure and the nuance.

Small Things That Might Help

I have been living in fear for months and last night my fears were realized.  Here’s what I fear is coming:

The climate change accord rejected.

Planned Parenthood defunded so no more cancer screenings and birth control for low income women.

The ACA repealed.  Millions without health care once again.

The nuclear agreement with Iran revoked.

A new Supreme Court that may well overturn Obergefell granting gay people the right to marry.  What happens to those couples and their children?  And will they finally get their wish to criminalize abortion?  There was a girl in my high school who died from a botched back street abortion.  Is that again in our future?

An abandonment of NATO, an organization that has kept relative peace in Europe for seventy years.  Putin has been massing troops and supplies on the borders of eastern European countries.  Will he move on them?  And what will we do it he does?

Families torn apart if this deportation force is actually created and sent into the streets.

Stop and frisk being used against minorities.

All morning people keep asking me what can we do? I don’t have a lot suggestions, but here are a few. Make donations to Planned Parenthood so they can keep the doors open. Think seriously about the candidates for House and Senate for 2018 and give them early support. If we can retake at least one branch of government perhaps we can mitigate some of what will come. And in a very small, personal way we can protect vulnerable people in public places– religious minorities, LBGTQ individuals, Hispanics and African-Americans.

And here’s a guide on how we can do that.  Protecting Against an Aggressor  While it was created to primarily deal with Islamophobia it can be used in any situation where a person is being threatened and abused.

What Trump’s Misogyny Really Says

This is long so I apologize for that.  It’s also a post that I hesitated to write because I’m very private person, and I’m telling you a lot about myself.  But I think this election is just that important that I’m willing to open up.  So here goes —

I’m younger than Secretary Clinton, but I want to give you a look at how the world appeared and still often appears to a woman.  Especially a woman who is driven, ambitious, smart and educated.  I’ve talked about being a child and my frustration over adults constantly telling me what I couldn’t be because I was a girl — astronaut, jockey, President of the United States.

Let’s move forward a few years.  I’m 17 and I’ve just started college.  I enrolled in a geology class.  There weren’t a lot of women in that introductory course, but I found it fascinating.  Seated behind me was a very cute boy.  We began chatting and he proposed a contest.  Which one of us would get the best grade.  The loser buys coffee or lunch.  After all these years I don’t remember the exact terms of the bet.  I’m sure he thought he had a sucker’s bet.  I was a girl how could I possibly do well in a science class?  Clearly I was in college to earn my MRS. 

I might not remember the stakes, but I clearly remember what happened next.  First exam I had the highest test score in the very large class — A+ 100%.  I show my grade to the cute boy, and begin teasing him — I think he pulled a “C”.  I remember his eyes narrowing into slits and the words.  “Shut up you fucking cunt!” spewing from his mouth.  I was shattered and shaken.  I moved to a distant part of the lecture hall after that.

I loved geology so much that I talked to my advisor about making it my major.  The man dismissed the idea out of hand.  I didn’t want to do that, he said with a head shake.  That’s not the right thing for a woman to study.  Maybe English or get a teaching degree until I got married.  The sad thing is — I listened to him.

In due course and after a side trip to Austria to study opera I went on to graduate with a major in history, Magna cum laude, and a minor in music.  I enter law school.  I was part of the first really large wave of women entering law school and in the first week the male students made it very clear that they expected the women to type their papers for them.  Some of us refused.  Others didn’t, they knuckled under maybe to avoid being called fucking cunts.  The dean found out and to his credit it put a stop to that nonsense.

At the end of three years I graduate in the top 10% of my class, pass the bar and go looking for a job.  Eventually I end up in a corporate law firm.  Literally the first day I’m at work I’m in my small office in the back when I hear loud male voices in the outer office.  “I hear Charlie went and hired himself a girl!”  “Lets go see the girl.”   And then standing in the door of my office are six or seven men all staring at me.  I had that sick feeling I’d experienced back in college, but I was older and tougher so I made Oook oook noises and pretended to scratch under my arm like a chimpanzee in the zoo.  They got the message and vanished out of my doorway.

In that office working on a brief in the library late one night the son-in-law of the owner of the firm tells me to get him a cup of coffee.  I told him I liked mine with a lot of milk.  We never got along very well after that.

I quit practicing law and become a science fiction writer.  Overall I found the community to be welcoming and encouraging.  I only had one editor indicate that a visit to his hotel room at world con might land me a book contract.  I declined his offer.

Then I hit Hollywood.  It was here that I discovered that apparently for creepers and gropers grabbing a woman by the pussy is a thing with them.  I had already endured “notes” meetings with a particular boss that started at nine at night after all of the staff had gone home and the notes were frequently interspersed with sexually explicit comments.  I tried to avoid him, but at one meeting he made me sit beside him.  There were over 20 people in this meeting, and I had this man’s hand reaching under my skirt to grab…. well you know the rest.  I sat there schooling my face to impassivity and weighing my job against the pleasure of hitting him.  I also knew if I reacted the humiliation I was already feeling would only be amplified by making a scene in front of so many other people.

Thankfully I haven’t faced anything that overt in the years since.  Getting older and meaner — or being a nasty woman as Mr. Trump would phrase it has some benefits.  If you’re wondering why I made this walk down memory lane it’s to say that, yeah, I think that sexism is at the base of a lot of the crap that gets thrown at Secretary Clinton.  How dare a woman be ambitious, driven, intelligent, well educated, older and no longer meeting the standards of beauty that society forces on women?  Here’s a link to an article about the correlation between supporting Mr. Trump and hostility toward woman. The Correlation between Trump Support & Sexism.

Which brings me to the campaign.  I’ve seen all the ads that show us Donald Trump in his own words.  Particularly the words he has directed at women.  The usual summation is that Donald Trump doesn’t “respect” women. Paul Ryan even said that “Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified.”  Which is itself a demeaning of women implying that we are fragile, weak and must be protected by men instead of accepting us as equals and fully realized human beings.

But I think that analysis is too simplistic.  All the experiences I described and the attitudes displayed by Mr. Trump aren’t about sex, or sexual harassment, or respecting women.  This is about power and the exercise of power over others.  Remember, rape isn’t a sexual act — it’s a violent assault.  And the same goes for sexual harassment — it is also about power, putting women in their place.  When you realized that what drives Mr. Trump is his almost pathological need to dominate other then the dangers of a Trump presidency become horribly clear.

There are many things that frighten me about the Trump candidacy — the racism, the lies, the threats to jail a political opponent, the lack of understanding of the most basic fundamentals of our democratic republic — but it is his glib discussion of sexual assault, the fact that many woman have come forward to attest to this behavior on the part of Mr. Trump that show me who who he is.  To touch a person without their consent is less about an out of control libido than it is  about raw power, an attempt to dominate and exert control.  How Mr. Trump behaves toward women gives me a chilling picture of how he might behave should he have the powers of the Executive Branch of government under his control. 

Just think of the power and dominance he could exert over anyone who has slighted or challenged him.  The I.R.S. could be used against businessmen who mocked him or even declined to support him.  The freedom of the press could be curtailed by the loosening of libel laws.  Investigation could be launched against citizens using the F.B.I.  People will be profiled based on their ethnic backgrounds or their religious beliefs.  We’re already seeing glimmers of this future in the behavior of the F.B.I. in these final days of the election.  And once an investigation, justified or not, is begun a President Trump could have his hand picked Attorney General bring charges through the Department of Justice.

I understand it’s probably easier to make the ads about respect for women, but again, I think that is too simple.  Because it isn’t about sex, it’s about power.

If You Can Keep It”

I recently posted on Facebook a link to a story out of Texas about students walking out of an anthropology class over the discussion that modern humans evolved in Africa.  I got push back that this was unfair to Texas, on overblown story because only a small number of students walked out of a class of 390, etc.  Then I realized that what disturbed me about the story is that there is a percentage of our American citizenry who is truculent, ill informed, proud of that lack, and suspicious of “elites”.  Elites which include not only the people who work in our institutions of government, and those institutions, but scientists and the facts that science discovers and explains.  To quote Neil DeGrasse Tyson

“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

Which brought me to the discussions I shared with George R.R. Martin over dinner last night.  We enjoyed one of our wide ranging talks — everything from Wild Cards, writing — what it means to us, TV shows we are watching, and of course the election which has both of us obsessed. We talked about the fall of the Roman republic and what was really behind the collapse.  (We were in a role playing game run by Walter Jon Williams for a number of years and ended up reading a lot of history about the period.)

Point being —  it wasn’t the orgies. It was the concentration of vast wealth in the hands of an elite few which sent citizen farmers to Rome once they lost their land, and the most profound gridlock created by an insane political structure. Two consuls serving on alternate days, often with incompatible ideas, and ten tribunes any one of whom could veto any legislation passed by the senate.

That brought me back to a fascinating interview with former Supreme Court Justice David Souter about the dangers of an uninformed electorate. Here’s a link to what was said and clips from the Maddow show where she highlighted this interview.  Souter Warning.  Here is a portion of what the retired Justice said:

“I don’t worry about our losing republican government in the United States because I’m afraid of a foreign invasion. I don’t worry about it because I think there is going to be a coup by the military as has happened in some of other places. What I worry about is that when problems are not addressed, people will not know who is responsible. And when the problems get bad enough, as they might do, for example, with another serious terrorist attack, as they might do with another financial meltdown, some one person will come forward and say, ‘Give me total power and I will solve this problem.’

It’s this that makes me worry for the country, and why my linking to the story about students objecting to anthropological facts is relevant.   In 2014 a Gallup poll found that 42% of Americans believe in creationism rather than evolution.  In these complex times we need a well educated populace.  We have to understand the dangers of climate change, how monetary policy really works, how tariffs help fuel the financial collapse in 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression, the concept of herd immunity and the efficacy of vaccines, etc. etc. etc.

Let us contemplate the words of Benjamin Franklin at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention when asked by a lady… “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

 

 

Drama Versus Reality

Reality is so damn unforgiving.  I’m working on the third book of the IMPERIALS Saga, and one of my main character is the heir to the throne. Her aides aren’t going to let her go into actual combat unless it’s absolutely unavoidable, and she’s not stupid enough to lead the charge.  She’s also now an admiral in command of a large battle group that’s going in to rescue some captured soldiers.  So, she’s on the bridge, giving orders and others are carrying out those orders.  They’re going to be the bullet magnets, not La Infanta.

But I’m a TV writer and a very visual writer so this is making me crazy.  All the exciting stuff is going to be happening on this orphan moon, and my view point character is on a ship far removed from the action, just watching through the helmet cameras worn by her troops.  But if I put her in the thick of the action she looks like an idiot, and I look like an idiot for making that choice.

So I’m balancing the frustration of readers who might feel dissatisfied by the lack of a big action sequence versus the readers who will decide I’m an idiot if I let the freaking heir to the throne lead a party of marines staging a rescue, and thus give up on reading my books.

Okay, back to the Word Mines.

Too Little and Way Too Late

“Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.” Edmund Burke (1729-1797).

I first heard this quote while watching a performance of the musical 1776.  The representative from Georgia, Dr. Lyman Hall, was sent to the Continental Congress with the instruction not to vote for independence.  After listening to John Adams passionate cry of “Is Anybody There?” he quotes the line from Burke and changes his vote to aye.  That quote has been much on my mind over the past 48 hours since the revelations of Donal Trump’s sexual predation.  As a result over the ensuing two days large numbers of Republican senators, representatives, former office holders, etc. have begun running for the exits.

Really?  Now?  This is the thing that made you abandon a man so clearly unqualified for the office he seeks?  What about his mainstreaming the racist “Birther” conspiracy?  You all winked at that.  What about his false claim that “thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated after 9/11”?  What about his mocking of a reporter with disabilities?  The unconstitutional statement that he would use a religious test to ban people from this country?  The accusation that undocumented Mexican immigrants were rapist and murders?  The degrading of respect for the judiciary with claims that a judge of Mexican/American heritage could not fairly judge him?  The demeaning of a veteran and war hero?  The attacks on the grieving parents of a fallen soldier?  The incitements to violence at his rallies?

This is but a small sample of the grotesque statements and stances taken by the Republican candidate for president.  So forgive me Republican leaders if I’m unimpressed with your road to Damascus moment and your sudden conversion.   Frankly your cries of shocked outrage carry as much weight as Captain Renault’s in Casablanca — “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

Donald Trump never hid what he was.  You all knew.  You’ve known for five years when he began the racist Birther movement but you stayed silent.  Sadly the Republican party began its dance on the edge of the abyss long before the rise of Donald Trump.  It began with Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy”, with Ronald Reagan giving a speech about states rights in Philadelphia Mississippi the site of the brutal murder of three civil rights workers in 1964, with Willie Horton; please listen to the statement by Lee Atwater on how to use racism to win elections and be warned there is offensive language in this audio recording.  Lee Atwater Southern Strategy.

Everyone is shocked with Donald Trump’s calm discussion of using his status, wealth and power to grope and fondle women without their consent (and yes, that is sexual assault.  I say this as a women who has endured exactly what he described doing — and I don’t mean the kissing.)  Yet this is a party that has been unrelenting in its efforts to control women’s bodies and choices.  All of these men un-endorsing Mr. Trump talk about how they have daughters.  Well you could start to protect and honor your daughters by not treating women like children or chattel.

So how does this all relate back to Mr. Burke?  If establishment Republicans had heeded the advice of the man often credited with being the founder of modern conservatism they would have stopped Mr. Trump at the Republican convention.  Yes, millions of people voted for him, but that was a terrible choice and these elected figures in the Republican party knew that.  But instead of using their judgment they acquiesced to the opinion of angry, low information voters who are unwilling to accept that this is becoming a minority-majority country.  The brave thing would have been to set aside Mr. Trump and select a normal candidate.  I probably wouldn’t have agreed with the policy positions of a John Kasich or Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, but I wouldn’t have been embarrassed to be an American in the eyes of the world.  Yes it would have angered those primary voters and the Republicans probably would have lost the election, but they would have maintained their dignity and honor while they lost.  Now it appears they are going to lose anyway, and they are left without even a shred of dignity and decency.  They bear the stain of Donald Trump — his racism, his misogyny, his authoritarian attitudes.

Did I say that Republicans were running for the exits?  That’s too kind.  This is rats abandoning a sinking ship; a ship they should never have boarded in the first place.  I hope they can tread water for a long time.

Appearances

  • Boskone, February 19th - 21st. Boston MA.
  • MidAmericacon August 17th - 21st, Kansas City MO
  • Bubonicon August 26th -28th, Albuquerque, NM

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