T.A. Barnhart's blog

Trump is not an exception

I want to be honest about what men (and boys) say about women (and girls), and it’s not very from what Trump was recorded saying in 2005. Here’s what we talk about:

their tits

their asses

their legs

their faces

having sex with them

how much they want to have sex with us

how awesome we are having sex with one of them

how hard I’m going to bang the next one

how pleased chicks are to see how awesome my junk is

And that’s just to summarize in a way that I can still publish.

And of course: Not all guys; not all situations; and not with the kind of macho crudity Trump seems to get high on. But most guys, at some point, do engage in such talk. (Or in my case, keep silent and implicitly condone such talk.) What we heard from Trump and Billy Bush was just the nastiest version of “locker room” talk. But it’s not uncommon.

Far from it.

But, by the time we get out of high school or college, most of us leave most of that behind. After all, much of the energy for that talk is puberty wishing that instead of having to talk about sex, we could actually be having and enjoying sex. (Side note: the more a guy talks about sex, the less sex he is probably having.) But the nasty objectification, and the concomitant belief that women exist to serve as sex toys for men, is learned young and rarely extricated fully from men’s minds.

Part of the reaction to the release of this video is men denouncing the remarks; lots of high dudgeon going around. Good, let’s denounce. Not a tough thing to do, denouncing depravity. But I’m also seeing men stating that “I don’t...

I am white. w00t!

I am white; anyone who knows me knows that to be true. There’s some indigenous blood in there, but not a lot, not enough to make a meaningful difference. And despite the problems a lot of white people seem to have coming to grips with their own whiteness, I don’t find it a problem.

I’m white, male, hetero, and that’s just the way it is. I was born that way, and I’m fine with it. I was also born with eyesight that started out poor and has gotten worse. My hair turned silver at a young age and is now pretty thin (if I were to stop shaving my head). I have strong legs and weak arms. I’m smart when it comes to ideas and concepts; I’m dumb when it comes to linear thinking, mechanical cognition, and common sense.

To quote Popeye, I yam what I yam.

Being white hasn’t done me a lot of good. It didn’t stop the bullying when I was younger. My parents’ were not better parents because I was white. Depression hasn’t given me a pass. Being white didn’t make up for turning 50 in this economy; I still couldn’t get a decent job, not even temp work. Old is old. No one has walked up to me and said, You’re a white hetero male; let me offer you a great job for $250,000 a year. Being white has been no protection against the inherent suckiness of much of life in a world ruled by money as much as by fear and prejudice.

Of course, I have yet to be stopped by the cops for the crime of being a white person. I have only once been picked up by the cops for wandering around a neighborhood, but I was lost,...

Get in line?

So Bernie’s conceded and is now on Team Hillary. Most of his supporters got there first because they don’t hate Clinton as much as some uber-partisans want them to, not to mention they are smart people who know “President Trump” would make us long for the good old days of Bush/Cheney. Bernie is there, too; he ran a great race, came in second, and is now doing what he has to do as a responsible, conscientious politician.

But just because he and most of his supporters are now with her doesn’t mean everyone has to be. That’s not how democracy works. Just because “we” believe we are right does not mean we are. In politics, what is right or wrong is a matter of what we decide as a polity. This is why we have elections.

In this election, supporting Clinton for president is a “wrong” for a lot of people. Apart from my point that they have every right to hold that position, I’d like to make two other points I think are important.

One, there was always a large portion of Sanders’ base that was never going to vote for Hillary Clinton. Never. Many Democrats and Dem-voting independents joined him with great passion but were always open, to varying degrees, to voting for the winner of the primary. But a lot of those who were part of the campaign were not Democrats and never will be.

That’s why when the Clinton-v-Trump polls are expanded to include third-party candidates, she loses about 5% of her lead. This has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton. This happens every cycle: a small chunk of voters go for the Greens, the Libertarians, etc. What was unusual this time is that so many of those...

When did this become ok?

The cops blew up the suspect with a robot.

Think about that. Dallas cops had one of the shooting suspects cornered, and, when he did not surrender, they sent in a robot armed with a bomb. And they blew the man up.

This isn’t science fiction or a bad Robocop movie. This is real-life in Dallas, Texas, a state with no qualms about executing mentally incapacitated people, the state where Gov Rick Perry was proud of his record of executing criminals. Now their MO becomes: Uncooperative suspect? And he’s not white? Send in the robot and blow his ass up.

Executing cops, as was done in Dallas last night, may be understandable – and I’m only surprised it’s been this long for it to happen, I’m sorry to say – but it’s no more excusable than any other murder. And I understand that cops get especially angry when their own are killed; that’s human nature, and it’s exacerbated when a tribe, like a police force, feels itself under what they consider unfair scrutiny.

But at some point, outside the emotion and drama of protests and videos of innocent black men being slaughtered by racist cops, a decision was made by the Dallas police department to prepare to use robots to blow up human beings. I want to know: Who signed off on this? Did the Mayor give the okay to prepare to use robots to blow up dangerous suspects? Did the DA?

Who argued that police lives matter so much that a suspect – not an active shooter putting innocent lives in danger, but a suspect cornered and incapable of attacking the public any further – should be blown up, like a piece of luggage left suspiciously on the sidewalk?

What was the...

CA Dreamin'

Yes, California has nearly 2.5M votes left to count, almost all of them vote-by-mail. (County elections departments there should contact Multnomah County to learn how to do this right.) If you compare the county-by-county outstanding ballots to the current results, you’ll come to this conclusion: Clinton still wins the state, and handily.

Here’s a comparison of the counties with the most outstanding ballots to count:

county outstanding HRC margin
Alameda 151,853 +8
Contra Costa 75,000 +17
Fresno 38,000 +19
Kern 53,856 +17
Los Angeles 556,319 +16
Orange 206,285 +10
Riverside 128,415 +20
Sacramento 107,291 +16
San Bernardino 56,049 +14
San Diego 285,000 +8
San Francisco 54,000 +11
San Joaquin 49,608 +21
San Mateo 62,687 +23
Santa Barbara 20,947 -0.2
Santa Clara 87,900 +20
Santa Cruz 37,500 -11
Sonoma 43,324 +2
Stanislaus 39,400 +8
Ventura 38,696 +7

Every one of these counties but two, she won; most by dominant margins. These are not numbers that lend themselves to a half-million vote swing. Sanders would have to win the oustanding ballots by a million, or 70% of the remaining votes. And that’s just to tie.

The current numbers, taken in conjunction with pre-primary polling and exit polls, tells us it ain’t gonna happen.

This is not the kind of outcome that will cause Sen Jeff Merkley to return to the fold, cause a panic of super-delegates, or persuade committed delegates to renege their commitment to the voters. Sanders is not going to win California on these outstanding ballots. He knows it, which is why he’s entering end-of-campaign mode.

Check the data yourself

Statewide returns, county-by-county
Outstanding ballots, county-by-county...

questions, no answers

Ten years ago, no one was paying attention to lead in drinking fountains. When the fountains at Corvallis High School were turned off due to safety concerns, the implications of that slid by. After all, Corvallis voters had approved the construction of a new high school, so the kids were getting out of that building anyway.

But now, ten years down the road, those of us with kids who went to the old CHS – and I had two – have no idea what our kids were exposed to. We can also wonder about the old Highland Middle School, demolished and replaced by Linus Pauling MS. Or all the other schools in Corvallis, most of which needed extensive fixing.

What happened to our kids during those years at those schools? I don't even know if the water got tested back then. I see what's going on in Portland, and I see testing (albeit late), accountability (way too late), and I see that parents at least have some knowledge of what their kids might have been exposed to.

All I have, and the thousands of Corvallis parents in the years before these recent upgrades, are questions. And the hope that my kids were not poisoned by their school drinking fountains. But I do not know.

Money: a review of the Portland mayoral race

Oregon’s primary election is in the rear view mirror, so let’s look at the role money played in the Portland mayoral campaign. Or, in some cases, the role a lack of money played.

Bailey: The high road?

Jules Bailey made a pledge at the beginning of his campaign to cap contributions at $250 and to take no PAC money. Of course, he was counting on support from groups like OLCV and the police union to give time and energy that he would not have to count as money. Bailey may have felt this was an ethical stand, but it didn’t do his campaign any good, especially considering he started several months after Ted Wheeler, who put no such limit on his contributions.

The question arises, given that he raised $160,000 (and ended $15,000 in the red) compared to Wheeler’s $634,000 (and that was just this year): was this a mistake? Did he regret the choice? No doubt Wheeler’s huge advantage in cash made Bailey’s task much more difficult, undermining all the things necessary to win an election.

Did he regret the choice? I don’t know, but here’s what he Tweeted when Chloe Eudaly asked Steve Novick to limit contributions in their City Council run-off:

Wheeler: Overwhelming advantage

Ted Wheeler was not shy about fundraising, and his campaign kicked major ass: $633,646 – in 2016 alone. In 2015, he raised over $324,000. That’s almost $1 million for this campaign. And it worked. He blew away all competition, winning handily (not easily, however: he, his team, and his volunteers worked like hell). He was able to buy all...

Ageism and Portland hipster progressivism

Being a woman in politics is a tough gig. No matter what side of the political divide, what office you’re seeking, what your background, you’re going to get hammered in ways men never have to worry about (cf: Hillary Clinton). Sexism in politics is rampant, disgusting, and destructive.

So is ageism. And we’re seeing that in play in the 2016 Portland mayoral primary.

The leading woman candidate is Sarah Iannarone. Her bio is a strong one: single-mom, started her own business, a leader in a program at PSU that allows her a wide range of international contacts, relentless volunteer, full-time bicyclist. This is a background that makes for a good politician, especially in Portland. Varied, full of struggle, full of opportunities taken.

As a result, even though few Portland voters know of her and she has no chance of becoming Portland’s next mayor, she’s earned a lot of respect and support. She says a lot of things progressive leaders need to say, and she says them with the conviction and detail that lets you know this comes from a strong combination of heart and brains. Many progressive activists in Portland are supporting her, especially younger ones and those with a dislike for the political establishment (and rich white men).

Fortunately for Iannarone, she’s young enough and not-rich enough that these younger activists are willing to give her a fair chance. Four years ago, the same people had a woman candidate with an even stronger background but never gave her the fair chance they are giving Iannarone.

I’m talking about Eileen Brady, of course. I worked on her campaign and got to know her quite well. She and her family made me a friend, and I learned what wonderful people they are. I...

An old white guy talks about Béyonce

Not gonna happen. Not here. I may be an old white guy, but I’m not a stupid old white guy.

I’m also not a black woman in 21st Century USA. I’m not any kind of black person, much less a female one. The life experiences of Béyonce – the life experiences of black women and women in general – are not something I have shared. Yes, I have gone through shitty things in life, so empathy is no problem. I “get” a lot of this: the anger, the fear, the burning desire to tell the world to fuck off, and so on. Any human who has been stomped on can know these feelings.

But I can never know that lived experience because I am an old white guy living in a different kind of skin, one that gets automatic respect and privilege because, well, I’m a white male. A straight white male. Poor? Yes, but since I am a straight white male, my “poor” is a whole lot better than that of women, of people of color, etc. For example —

I do not stand a one-in-three chance of sexual assault.

I’m probably never going to be stopped by the cops for the crime of being white.

I will be taken at face value where women and people of color will not.

So, me? Talk about Béyonce? Like I said, I’m not stupid. I just wanted to get your attention. I’m not a fan of her music, but that’s about the music. I don’t care for much pop music these days (cf: “old” guy). I don’t care for hip-hop and its many commercial variants. I grew in the 60s; I like melody more than pounding rhythms and thundering bass. I can enjoy these...

Why Wapato may be a bad idea

Setting up a homeless refuge at the Wapato Jail is a tempting but problematic idea. The key phrase to bear in mind is: “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Check the map; I’m guessing most people aren’t aware just how far from downtown Wapato is: Eleven miles by car. By TriMet, over an hour-and-a-half (the 1:13 trip includes the last 1.3 miles on foot). This is a facility that was put in a distant locale for a simple reason: they wanted to keep the criminals away from the rest of us. When you are locking people up for crimes, easy access to the jail is the opposite of what’s desired.

Access for those experiencing homelessness, on the other hand, is critical: access to employment assistance, SNAP and other benefits, child care, training, medical care, and so on. Those who do not have a place to live should not be punished further by making access to vital services and opportuities difficult. Our goals in dealing with this issue has to be more than just giving people a roof over their heads and a place to escape bad weather. If that was the only goal, Wapato might be great. But a place to spend the night is just the beginning of what the homeless need.

Unless the multitude of agencies and organizations people dealing with homelessness and related issues set up branch offices inside Wapato, we’re looking at a major transportation issue for these folks. For a single person, the hassle and time needed to get back and forth is manageable; for families, it can become a daily trauma. Getting the help needed to move out of homelessness becomes much more difficult from the far end of NoPo....


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