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“Our Time Is Now”: We Are Waiting No More, Ladies: From Abigail to Hillary

We are ladies in waiting no more, gentlemen. Tired of traveling third class to the revolution.

Heroines Harriet Tubman, Lucretia Mott, Alice Paul and Eleanor Roosevelt on the money herald the start of something big.

And by we I mean American women here now in 2016, voters from 18 to 98. Heck, count girls and babies; they inherit the new world being born and they can campaign, too. April brings Hillary Clinton as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

How sweet it is. A victory from sea to shining sea. Long time coming.

Dial back to 2008, the bittersweet spring when Clinton lost to Barack Obama in the Democratic primary, though she was far better seasoned. But who said the world was fair? Witnessing an American president break the color barrier one wintry day at high noon was breathtaking.

To be clear, Obama’s victory over Clinton turned a page in our oldest story. The historical theme is clear. Women are often expected to wait for their rights. Wait their turn for political power.

In 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to husband John a famous letter saying, “Remember the ladies” in the new republic. Did he listen to her? No. Though she warned, ladies might “foment a rebellion.”

In Philadelphia in 1776, Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence signers in that hall completely cut us out of their revolution’s documents. “All men are created equal” means what it says. Fourscore and seven years later, Abraham Lincoln expanded the phrase to mean black men. The founding fathers didn’t remember us.

As the Broadway hit musical, “Hamilton,” puts it, we weren’t in the room where it happened. Only one man in the Revolutionary generation believed in the rights of women: the truly talented Aaron Burr, Jefferson’s vice president. The man who dueled and slew Hamilton at sunrise on July 11, 1804. If not for the tragic duel, Burr might have become president and our struggle, our story, might have been different. Nobody knows.

The “Negro’s Hour” episode, however, could not be clearer. After working for the abolition of slavery for 30 years (1833-1863) women in the anti-slavery movement also created the women’s rights movement in 1848.

The first convention was held in Seneca Fall, New York, now a national historic site. It is to women what Philadelphia in 1776 was for men. Lucretia Mott, the Philadelphia Quaker champion of rights for slaves and women, was the main speaker. Frederick Douglass, abolitionist orator and publisher, was among hundreds in the throng. He urged Mott to make the vote one of the demands.

Hillary Clinton has visited Seneca Falls, as first lady and as senator from New York. She’s pretty perfect to take the past to present and future. The sisterhood’s fight for our rights is the march she’s on — and it’s not over.

Not Mott, not Susan B. Anthony, nor Elizabeth Cady Stanton — the three depicted in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda suffrage statue — lived to see the day women won the vote.

Here is where the earth shattered: In 1865, the Civil War’s political settlement extended voting rights and citizenship to black men only, excluding women.

The cut happened after women had worked for abolition and their own rights together. Republicans told women to wait, this was the “Negro’s Hour.” (Except Lincoln, who had died.) Even great Douglass sided with that political refrain.

The vote is the passport to democracy. Trouble was, history’s major change trains run only so often, and you have to catch one if you can. Here was the chance.

Suffrage took a long time coming, from 1865 to 1920. That’s two generations. The vote was never given, but taken over years from a grudging Southerner with three daughters — Woodrow Wilson.

Spirited Alice Paul changed the game by moving it from private to public, out on the streets of Washington. In vivid vigils and parades, “go ahead, arrest us,” was the template of her nonviolent resistance — and the police did, in the public eye. So much for ladylike. Like Mott, Paul was a “birthright” Quaker. She arrested national attention and sympathy for suffrage.

Anna Quindlen, the luminous novelist and journalist, stated that since serving as secretary of state since 2008, Clinton’s vast experience puts her at the top of the class of candidates — ever.

Our time is now. Ladies, we are waiting no more. There’s a train to catch to Philadelphia in July.

 

By: Jamie Stiehm, The National Memo, April 29, 2016

April 30, 2016 Posted by | American Women, Hillary Clinton, Womens Rights | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Settling The Issues Of Honor At 40 Paces”: Forget Debates; The Republicans Should Have A Duel

The possibility of fisticuffs breaking out at Wednesday’s GOP debate is not an entirely fanciful one. (Indeed, it could be the solution for Jeb Bush’s flailing campaign.) The Republican presidential campaign has focused all along on matters of honor more than matters of policy. Sure, all the major candidates are offering right-wing fantasies of one sort or another, ranging from Jeb Bush’s promise of 4 percent growth to Donald Trump’s huge border wall to be paid for by the Mexican government. But thanks to Trump, even farcical policy proposals have taken a backseat to a much more personal contest to prove who is the toughest hombre in town.

The Republicans desperately need a way to resolve these disputes so they can talk about something else. I’m here to make a suggestion: Why not resolve the personalized differences by fighting old-style duels? Otherwise, as long as Trump’s in the race, the insults will continue to fly—and threaten to suck up all the oxygen in the debates.

Trump is a master of the schoolyard taunt, and many of his jibes carry with them the suggestion that his opponents are less than virile. Trump’s jeers that Jeb Bush and Ben Carson are “low-energy” and “super low-energy,” respectively, have certainly carried that connotation. While Trump’s male rivals have been stung by these rebukes, the only time the real-estate magnate has been dented is when he’s challenged women—most notably Megyn Kelly and Carly Fiorina—with a different set of insults, focused on menstruation and personal appearances. Those attacks backfired, suggesting that that the front-runner is at a loss when an argument isn’t about comparative manliness.

Trump’s male competitors have tried to answer in kind, with little luck. Before he dropped out, Rick Perry challenged Trump to a gym contest: “Let’s get a pull-up bar out here and see who can do more pull-ups,” said the former Texas governor. On Sunday’s Meet the Press, Carson implicitly responded by calling attention to how tough he was before he became a surgeon and politician. “As a teenager, I would go after people with rocks, and bricks, and baseball bats, and hammers,” Carson told Chuck Todd. “And, of course, many people know the story when I was 14 and I tried to stab someone.” (If you don’t know the story, read here.)

But pull-up bars and tales of youthful brawls won’t hack it. The Republican candidates need a more formal way of settling the issues of honor that Trump has placed at the center of GOP politics. They should look back at the history of Europe and the United States. Traditionally, matters of honor have been settled not by discussion but by a contest of arms. When someone insults your family, as Trump has with his snide comments about Jeb Bush’s brother and wife, the normal response isn’t to continue politely debating, but rather to ask the creep making the remarks if he wants to step outside.

Duels are the ideal solution. It’s true that duelling fell out of fashion after the end of the Civil War, because the slave South was the last place in the United States where the institution was valued. Still, duelling has a venerable place in American political history. Most famously, Alexander Hamilton was killed by Vice-President Aaron Burr in a duel. Andrew Jackson loved challenging men to duels, and survived at least 13 of them. When a famous marksman named Charles Dickinson insulted Jackson’s wife in 1806, for instance, the future president had no choice but to challenge him to a duel. The battle left a bullet permanent lodged in Jackson’s chest, causing persistent pain for the rest of his life, but he was still glad for the outcome. “If he had shot me through the brain, sir, I should still have killed him,” Jackson averred. If Bush had responded to Trump’s gibe about having Mexican wife in the same manner, we’d already have a very different nomination race for 2016.

As Globe and Mail editor Gerald Owen noted in an informative 1989 essay for The Idler magazine, duels were not mindless displays of violence but helped regulate disagreement. “The duel is not, as its enemies have often said, a mediaeval remnant, but a fashion from the Italian Renaissance, and no older than the protests against it,” Owen noted. “It is not to be confused with several related institutions. It is not the same as single combat in the course of war, for it is concerned with personal honour. It is not a sport like jousting; only in the Southern United States were spectators permitted. It is not a feud or vendetta; it is between individuals, not families; instead of festering, it settles disputes finally, giving rise to what lawyers call res judicator. It is not a spontaneous brawl, as in a bar or hockey game, for it has its rituals and conventions.”

As Owen’s remarks suggest, the duel has much to recommend it for precisely the type of disputes that are tearing up the Republican Party. As the main candidates are divided primarily along issues of honor, the ritualistic combat to decide who is the better man (or in Fiorina’s case, the better woman) is the best way to go. And surely a party as firmly committed to NRA dogma would have no objections.

A modest proposal, then, for the remaining GOP debates: Make them open-carry. And if (or when) Trump insults Jeb or any of the others, settle the dispute at once at 40 paces. The two combatants would of course have to agree on weapons and seconds, but this could be arranged through the same negotiations that go into making up the rules for the debates. (As a bonus, this would also provide a test for Trump’s self-proclaimed mastery of the art of the deal.) Depending on how good a shot he proves to be, this might be the only way that Trump can be defeated on his own terms, allowing the reminder of the debates to edge into actual policy arenas.

 

By: Jeet Heer, Senior Editor at the New Republic, October 26, 2015

October 27, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Jeb Bush | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“His Own Epitaph”: Edward Snowden, A Man Without A Country

We woke this morning to find that Edward Snowden (Mr. Around the World in Rrrrrrrrrrr! [sound of a screeching stop]) has been offered asylum first in Venezuela, and then in Nicaragua. Perhaps the only person entirely happy about this result may be John Logan, author of the next two James Bond films, who may now be inspired to include a scene of a world-famous leaker meeting an untimely fate at the end of a bejeweled thong on the sun-struck beaches of Playa El Agua.

If Snowden can make his way to the Americas (hardly a given), we may learn the answer to one of the burning questions of the moment: what have you been doing all day, Ed? The possibilities of his treatment at Sheremetyevo airport range from detention-lite to a pleasant sterility, the sort of environment that George Clooney might have appreciated in Up in the Air. After almost two weeks, one might expect Snowden to have cleaned up his email folder, finished everything he’s downloaded to his e-reader, and finally got his fill of Diamond Mine.

Should he be scrounging for something else to read, he could do worse than to locate The Man Without A Country, a short story that was published in The Atlantic in December 1863. Written by Edward Everett Hale, the author and clergyman (and not his uncle Edward Everett, the author and orator, or Edward Everett Horton, the comic actor), The Man Without a Country tells the story of a young Army lieutenant Philip Nolan, who becomes friends with the nefarious Aaron Burr. When Burr is indicted for treason for ham-handedly trying to seize part of the Louisiana Territory for himself, Nolan is tried for treason. During the proceedings, he loses his temper, and renounces America. “I wish I may never hear of the United States again!” he shouts, and the judge sentences Nolan to his wish: he is to spend the rest of his life aboard United States Navy warships, in exile, with no right ever again to set foot on U.S. soil, and with explicit orders that no one shall ever mention his country to him again.

And so it happens. Nolan spends approximately fifty years aboard various vessels, never allowed to return to US soil. No one is allowed to speak to him about the United States, nor is he allowed to read anything about the country. Over the years, he repents his angry comments, and one day advices a young sailor to avoid his mistake: “Remember, boy, that behind all these men … behind officers and government, and people even, there is the Country Herself, your Country, and that you belong to her as you belong to your own mother. Stand by her, boy, as you would stand by your mother … !” At the end of the story, a dying Nolan invites an officer named Danforth to his room. It has become a patriotic shrine, with a flag, pictures of George Washington and a bald eagle. Danforth tells Nolan everything that happened to America since his sentence was imposed; the narrator confesses, however, that “I could not make up my mouth to tell him a word about this infernal rebellion,’’—the Civil War. When Nolan is found dead later that day, they find that he has written his own epitaph:

In memory of PHILIP NOLAN, Lieutenant in the army of the United States. He loved his country as no other man has loved her; but no man deserved less at her hands

Treacly stuff, in a way, yet quite moving in its sentimental power. The story was a Civil War story, designed to use sentiment and argument to show what the country as a whole, as opposed to the individual states, had achieved. I’d love to hear what Snowden thinks of the tale a few years from now, although generally speaking, those who possess the audacity to commit a great deed seldom have the audacity to reconsider it.

 

By: Jamie Malanowski, Washington Monthly Political Animal, July 6, 2013

July 7, 2013 Posted by | National Security | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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