Why We Need the Electoral College

This conversation happens every election season. We look at the Electoral College – 538 people chosen to cast our votes for president – and wonder, “Why? Why can’t we all just cast our ballots, count ’em up, and declare a winner?”

There’s one big reason: our founders were smart enough to prevent the tyranny of the majority.

This isn’t about protecting slaveowners’ rights, this isn’t about protecting a buffoon from becoming president, this isn’t about preventing an uneducated populace from making a stupid decision. This is all about the protection of our freedom.

Let’s think about what would happen if the popular vote decided the election.

First, candidates would only bother campaigning in highly populated areas, getting the most bang for their buck. They’d be all over California and New York…but what about Iowa? Rhode Island? A few rallies in California might turn out more potential voters than all of the people who vote in Montana. Suddenly, low-population areas have no voice.

But they don’t have a voice now! you say. Untrue. 538 is an even number, and it’s possible, though unlikely, for the electoral votes to be tied between two candidates. Even one electoral vote can make a difference. And swing states change with every election. Hillary Clinton thought she had Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin tied up this time around. Wisconsin hadn’t voted Republican since 1984! Candidates ignore states, even small ones, at their peril.

Two, each state has its own election laws. I can vote by mail in California, some states allow early voting, some ban felons from voting. To get rid of the Electoral College, you are asking all the states to come to an agreement about one voting process. But the states base their laws on what the local population wants, what works best for them. You are asking states to give up that freedom, and for everyone to bow to the pressure of the majority.

Or the states keep their different election laws…and suddenly, you have endless opportunities for lawsuits. If everyone’s vote counts in one big election, why should a felon in California get to vote, but a felon elsewhere be denied? Why should someone be allowed to vote early in Florida but not in Nevada? Obviously, this wouldn’t work.

And what about voter fraud? Fake ballots, or not counting proper ballots, would have a direct effect on a popular vote. It would be very easy to game the system. But it’s very difficult to affect the outcome of the election with fraud using the Electoral College. You would have to have a coordinated effort in the right combination of states, and this is very hard to anticipate. Just look at this election. Hillary Clinton thought she had the blue wall sewn up. Even if she had the will and the means to try to commit mass fraud, those efforts likely would have been in the wrong states.

Our founders never intended for the US to be a pure democracy. A pure democracy ignores the voices of the minority. The Electoral College is an ingenious system that gives every state, and every voter, a voice. A popular national vote does not.

Why Clinton Lost, and Why the Left is Bewildered

A few weeks before the election, one of my childhood friends on Facebook posted a rant saying that if you support Trump, you are no longer her friend. She doesn’t want to know you.

I tried to engage her. I wrote that her statement was strong, and could we talk about the issues before she turned her back on people she had loved and admired all her life.

Her response was to basically spit in my face. And she wasn’t alone in her attacks.

So at the polls, Trump supporters spit back.

The left looks at Trump and wonders how the hell this happened. How anyone could support him. The irony is, I think a lot of people who voted for him don’t support him. They are simply tired of all the self-righteous people on the left spitting in their faces.

The left touts itself as the party of inclusion. Of open-mindedness. Of equality. But it has morphed into that which it despises.

Take racism. Racism is treating someone differently based on race. Once, the left wanted a color-blind society. Now, I am supposed to be ashamed of being white. I am supposed to apologize for my accident of birth and call out my white privilege.

White women are supposed to be ashamed for betraying “their people” and voting for Trump. Huh? Since when do my interests and beliefs align with all other white women in the country? Why do we even keep track of who votes for who based on race? Isn’t that racist?

Voting should have nothing to do with race. We should be voting based on economics, our values, how we view foreign policy. Race should be like hair color – a genetic legacy, separate from character and behavior. Should blonds vote in blocks?  Should the tall rule over the short? It’s a ridiculous concept.

But it’s an ingenious strategy – instead of focusing on the issues, just cry, “Racism!” whenever someone disagrees with you. That shuts them up real fast.

That’s why all the polling was wrong. Trump supporters were shut up. But that’s the great thing about the polling booth – you can vote for whoever you want, and no one is shouting you down.

I also find it incredible that so many people were able to overlook Hillary’s flaws (read: crimes) just because she was a woman. That wanted to break that glass ceiling. But that in itself is sexist – voting for a candidate just because of her gender! I don’t give a shit what gender my leaders are – I just want them to be capable, honest, upstanding. Hillary is none of those things, and if she were a man, she still wouldn’t have gotten my vote.

But I’ve been told that I hate women if I didn’t vote for her. Huh? Couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m a woman, and I love myself. I just didn’t want someone so corrupt and beholden to the elite representing me.

So the left is racist, and the left is sexist. They’ve also become bullies.

Shame on you. You reap that which you sow. I hope you can take a good look in the mirror and change the way you interact with the other side, because there are worthy values on the left. Unfortunately, they’ve become twisted.

But I’ll extend the offer to anyone on the left that I made to my former friend on Facebook: engage. Let’s talk about the issues. Let’s refrain from bullying. That’s the only way we can come together and move forward.



Do You Want To Be Judged On What You Say In Private?

We are taught at a very early age that what we do in private is not always appropriate to do in public. Picking our nose. Farting. Pointing at the fat person. Using the f-word. Yet all of us have done these things in private, and I don’t think they’re a testament to poor character. We’re human.

Now imagine if you had to censor yourself when you are with your spouse, or even when alone. You’re being watched. You’re being judged. That California rolling stop always results in a ticket. That comment whispered under your breath – “Damn women drivers!” – labels you as a misogynist for the rest of your life. That time you got drunk at your sister’s wedding…the state is sending you to rehab.

All of that may sound crazy, but it’s not. That’s what the left is doing to America. It’s forcing it’s narrow belief systems on you. And it starts out as heart-felt and well-meaning – no one should run through a stop sign! – and it starts out as simple shaming…and then it turns into law. A mistake becomes a felony.

That’s not the world I want to live in.

I’m not without character and conscience, and I’m not without compassion. I will never point at the fat person and laugh out loud. But if I want to take my children aside and explain the dangers of obesity, or the consequences of wearing those short shorts, or why immigrants from Asian cultures excel far beyond those from other cultures, I’m gonna do it. And I’m not a fat-shamer, or a slut-shamer, or a racist.

This goes for both parties, by the way. This isn’t a defense of Donald Trump. If Hillary is musing in an email about how to knock Sanders out of the race, we shouldn’t judge the words. That’s all they are. We should all be able to have private conversations and vent and talk things out. Sometimes that’s what leads us to the right path – proposing something crazy, saying stupid shit, and then realizing just how stupid the thought is.

We don’t want to venture down this road, folks. The Thought Police were once a horror in a science fiction novel, but today, they’re at our door. Keep us all free. Judge us on our actions, and not our words.


Persevering in the Face of Negativity

For years, I sat in my comfortable bubble and wrote stories from my heart. I didn’t worry about sales or marketing, and if I got a review (or a sale), it made my day. I was fulfilling an inner need, relieving stress, taking some time for myself. I didn’t really care what people thought of my writing.

And then I got to the point where I wanted to write full time. But I couldn’t do that unless I could also generate a decent income. Which meant sales. Reader interaction. Providing a product that others actually want to pay for.

I’d never written to market, and my stories didn’t fit neatly in genre categories. NERVOUS SYSTEM is about a six-year-old boy who can control his autonomic nervous system. Is this science fiction? Fantasy? He explores religion, because when you’re born with an ability that’s not “natural,” you wonder why. Did God make me this way? Does God even exist? So there are elements of religious fiction, even if the message is to question and not to preach. How do you sell such a book?

I did one marketing campaign back in October 2015 for NERVOUS SYSTEM. Spent almost $1000, and tripled my money in less than a week, even though I gave 40,000 copies of the book away. Readers went on to buy the rest of the series. I was grateful, and in awe. But I was still only working on my writing in stolen moments, and I didn’t really have a long-term plan. I needed one.

My mom is a huge reader. She reads widely but has a soft spot for funny, clever, steamy romance. Romance is a hot genre, and I wanted to write something for her. So I came up with the String Serial.

But you see the flaw in my plan, don’t you?

How do you sell steamy romance to readers who found you based on an out-of-the-box speculative fiction series? My current readers were less than enthused.

So I’ve had to start over, in a sense. Find a new audience. But true to my nature, the String Serial does not fit neatly into the current contemporary romance genre. No naked men on the cover. No scantily clad women. No best friends calling each other “bitch” (do real women actually speak to their friends like this???). Cliffhangers with every episode (it’s a serial, not a series). And the main character thinks and speaks as real women do, especially during sex – she uses real words for body parts, with no “love rod,” no “hot beef injection,” no “steel manhood penetrating my quivering womb.”

And I’m already getting negativity for it.

And that’s okay. The negativity is not gonna stop me.

When you create something where the value is wholly subjective, you expect some people not to like it. You have to love what you do, have faith in it, and have a thick skin. And I do. I continue to get pushback about my covers, and I already have a disheartening review on Part Two on Goodreads. But that’s part of the gig. I believe in my stories, and I just have to keep going.

Three things have helped me do just that.

One, I’ve cut down my online interaction. People seem to be the nastiest version of themselves when they can hide behind their computers, and I don’t need that. While social media can be a wonderful way to connect, it can also breed hate and jealousy and misunderstandings. And I don’t know if you’re experiencing this, but half my feeds are filled with ads and requests to join people’s marketing schemes and buy their products, books included. If I want a book, I’ll go looking for one. I don’t need to be bombarded with this crap. And if I feel this way, I imagine others are feeling this way, too.

Two, I count my blessings. Supportive, healthy family? Check. Roof over our heads? Check. Food in the pantry? Check. Nothing else really matters.

And three, I’m keeping the people who love and support me close. Recently, I was thinking about cutting back on some of my extra-curricular activities to focus more on the business of writing. But the people I interact with in these activities are a positive influence. They support me and believe in me. Why would I give that up?

I’m hoping that the String Serial finds an audience and allows me to continue doing what I love. If it doesn’t, then I put my head down and write the next story. I’m going to do this. I’m going to succeed. And no amount of negativity is going to stop me.

FIRST STRING – A Look Behind the Scenes

First String - The String Serial Ebook CoverMy new steamy romance serial launches on September 16 with Parts 1-3, FIRST STRING, SECOND STRING, and STRUNG OUT. I’m thrilled with the project and excited to share the story with my readers!

You know that all my books contain love stories, but this series is actually categorized as romance, and I have to say, this is something I wrestled with. Yes, it will end happily and with the romance wrapped up, but it’s in large part about the journey: accepting your past, making peace with who you are, finding your voice, and loving yourself enough to believe you’re worthy of someone else’s love. I think these are universal struggles, and we all can relate, no matter if we had a happy, supportive childhood or not.

The heroine of this serial did not. So she faces some not-so-nice memories, and deals with not-so-nice repercussions, but I tried to balance the serious with the lighthearted. In short, I tried to make it realistic.

Realism is not the reason people generally read romance novels, though. They want escape and entertainment and heat. But I’ve never been a write-to-market kind of writer. Nothing wrong with that, but my characters speak to me, and I have to tell their story as faithfully as I can, warts and all.

And in keeping with that goal, I had a specific look for the covers in mind. We played with dozens of images and designs before deciding on one, and I love it. I think the image of Hope on the cover hearkens back to Lucille Ball. And I didn’t want a naked man on the cover. Nothing wrong with naked men, but that’s not the focus of the story, just a part.

So will this serial sell? I have no idea. It’s not typical, it’s not following the tropes (much), it has a completely different kind of cover. But it also has my signature – deep characters and emotion. A love story. And it’s a fun read. I hope you fall in love with Hope just like I have.

I Got in An Argument on Facebook, And It Makes Me Sad

We all have those connections on Facebook – people we knew once upon a time, maybe in childhood, but who we don’t really know anymore except on social media. I like to see these people’s posts, watch their children grow and their careers soar, and most of the time, the interaction is supportive: “You look great!” “Congratulations!” “Hope your day gets better!”

But I had one of these connections, a friend from elementary school, post something rather extreme.


So I commented. Three days of posts, two separate threads. I was told throughout to “grow a brain and fuck myself” for asking how the above comment helps and that we should talk about it; that Trump wants to exterminate Mexicans, this is the pre-cursor to another Holocaust, and that they don’t need to waste their time proving this – I should go out and find the info myself; if it has to be explained to me, I’m hopeless and they don’t feel its their job to educate a 40+-year-old woman of means; that the OP should just “rule out the white people”; that California is “occupied territory”; that the “motherfuckers” who were Columbus’s crew were undocumented, there’s no European legitimacy for being on this soil, and I am an interloper. It all comes down to the fact that my very existence is offensive because I don’t believe in open borders.

First, there’s a lot I could say about the politics and actual issues of the discussion (which was mostly by me – these people who piled on generally did not add to the discussion substantively, although a few did, and I tried to acknowledge those as the thread grew), but frankly, that’s not what bothered me. We all have different opinions. I’m open to hearing about those and exploring ideas. That’s why I engaged.

What bothers me is how the discussion was handled. The OP had a perfect opportunity – she was obviously upset, emotional, and frustrated, and I was willing to listen. Why not take that opportunity and try to change my mind? After all, she claimed that Trump wants to EXTERMINATE her and all people from Mexico! If she really felt that way, wouldn’t she want my vote and support?

Sadly, no. She didn’t care to change my mind. She just wanted to tell me how ignorant I was and that she didn’t want to be friends with anyone who didn’t think exactly the way she does.

And then her friends chimed in. Some added arguments, one linked to a video of Rachel Maddow (drink the Kool-Aid much?), they said how I put my foot in my mouth and can’t stand the heat and blah, blah, blah.

I think the fact that I stuck it out so long is proof that I can stand the heat. I remained respectful. I continued to try to address the issues. This former friend of mine…she did not.

I took screen shots of both entire threads, and my first thought was that I would post them here. Maybe someday I will, but right now, I’m too disheartened. In one of her posts, the OP alluded to the fact that 20 people had messaged her asking her to back off me. I appreciate that, and while I didn’t feel I needed help, per se, even having one person stand up and say, “This is not how we have a civil dialog and advance our cause,” would have been golden. We have many mutual friends on Facebook, and not one of them actually engaged, but some of them had to read the discussion. And nobody spoke out.

To sum it up, I don’t feel offended at any of the exchange. I just feel sad. If this is the way the OP treats a friend, I would hate to be her enemy.

I Found Quora…and I Like It

Social media has always been tough for me. I love interacting with people, but I’m not inclined to share my every thought. I don’t take selfies – heck, I don’t like taking pictures of myself period. And I’d rather have a deep, philosophical discussion about the meaning of life than tell everyone what I ate for breakfast.

But knowing this was my Achilles’ Heel in the marketing-driven world of writing and selling books, I attended an IWOSC marketing seminar. I knew they wouldn’t tell me what I wanted to hear – “You don’t need a social media presence!” – but I was hoping for some nuggets of wisdom that would make it a bit easier to put myself out there.

One of the presenters mentioned a site called Quora. People ask questions, and other people answer. You can have a dialog with others in the comments. I thought, “Who knows? Maybe my obscure knowledge of metrology and statistics and philosophy can actually help someone.”

So I registered on Quora and started to browse. A question about Donald Trump caught my eye, and I was drawn to answer because…why not?

I got some views. Some Likes. A few comments. Not all the comments were positive, but the engagement was. The discussion was respectful and productive.

So I answered some more questions. Other people started requesting my answers! This was awesome!

Two months later, it’s still awesome. I’ve met some great people, I’ve honed my answering skills, and I recently became a Most Viewed Writer in Teaching. You can read my content here: Andrea Ring’s Quora Profile

I encourage everyone to check out Quora. It’s a great way to share what you know and engage with people from all around the world. Thank goodness, I’ve finally found a social media site I’m comfortable with!

Why Hugh Howey is Misguided

On June 25, Hugh Howey published a controversial blog post in response to Brexit. According to Howey in his response to comments, he doesn’t really care what others think and writes only for himself, but his post angered me enough that I’d like to address it.

Note, I respect Howey for both his writing success and the way he has championed the indie writing movement.

Here’s Howey’s post with my comments in red.

A Crushing Defeat

Immigration reciprocity is nasty business. If you’ve ever been to Brazil as an American, you’ve seen this in action. It works like this: However difficult country A makes it for citizens of country B to visit, country B then enacts the same rules for country A. Which means going through an insane amount of work and sending off your passport just to get into Brazil, because we do the same thing to Brazilians. They adopt our rules to show us how punitive those rules feel.

Make no mistake: The fault is ours. It shouldn’t be this difficult to visit another country. Ever. You should be able to show up, present your documents, and your lack of outstanding criminal warrants — and agreement to follow local laws and pay local taxes — allows you entry.

In a perfect world where everyone follows the rules, Hugh has the right idea. It would be nice to just show up, spend your tourist dollars, and go home. But this is not reality.

First, in 2010, Brazil ranked 5th in number of tourists visiting the US. Fifth! Doesn’t seem all that difficult to get here.

Second, the US makes it “difficult” because of the number of Brazilians who try to stay illegally. This isn’t about not liking Brazilians, or not wanting Brazilian immigrants – it’s about illegal immigration. Clinton tried allowing Argentina into the Visa Waiver Program in the 90s, and it was a disaster – illegals flooded the US, and Argentina’s no longer in the program.

The fault is not ours, Hugh. It’s the fault of the Brazilian government. If they eliminated corruption, had an organized government, and extended economic freedom and opportunity, their people would not want to leave permanently.

If the same xenophobia that led to the Brexit also leads to harsher immigration policies and procedures, British citizens will likely suffer reciprocity from other EU members. Right now, you can drive the chunnel and go from England to France without stopping. Just like you can currently drive from Texas to California without having to get bureaucrats involved (not counting the produce police on the way into New Mexico). That ease of access will likely cease. Which is absolutely terrible, not just for human freedom, but for economic growth.

First, Hugh makes a huge error in logic by saying xenophobia led to the Brexit, and that xenophobia leads to harsher immigration policy. More on that later.

Second, Texas and California are part of the same country. You can’t compare England and France to Texas and California.

Third, he’s made this leap that “ease of access” is a positive thing.

Imagine natural gas exploration taking off in North Dakota and not being able to get enough people through the red tape to take the jobs. Once again comparing immigration policy (something dictated by a COUNTRY) to imagined travel restrictions WITHIN a country. A poor comparison. The private sector is more flexible and swifter to pivot than law-makers. Agreed. Hardening borders is terrible for economic growth. Not necessarily. Hugh continues to make broad statements without discussing particulars. But it’s not just economics; imagine only being able to date someone in your home state because of the complexities of job requirements and immigration woes (I’ve recently gone through this with a girlfriend from the UK). These are the real-world consequences of protectionism and xenophobia. Umm…what are the real-world consequences? Lovers separated until their visas are approved? Natural gas exploration companies having to increase pay to attract local workers?

And again…the only motivation to having borders is xenophobia and protectionism! Could there be other reasons?

What’s disgusting is that older voters lead the way with their intolerance, and they aren’t as greatly affected by their actions. They are moving out of the workforce. They’ve already married and settled with their loved ones. Geographic isolation is less harmful to those who have settled down; it’s terrible for those still looking for their place in the world. Which is why voters under 30 overwhelmingly chose to stay in the EU. It’s also a matter of subsequent generations being more tolerant and less hate-ridden than those who came before. Progress, as they say, happens one funeral at a time.

Wow. This is where things go off the rails. So everyone who voted to leave the EU is hate-ridden and intolerant? And old. ‘Cause those under 30 GET it. The people who’ve lived twice as long as they have, and have actually experienced living both in the EU and out, couldn’t possibly have any wisdom to share. They’re just bigoted, set it their ways, and can’t stand the idea of foreigners moving into their country.

How dismissive. Condescending. “Progress…happens one funeral at a time.” Yep, the world will be a better place when all those old people die.

And I love this term: geographic isolation. As if where you were born is where you’re stuck forever. Alone. ‘Cause that’s what isolation is – alone-ness. Sounds so menacing and anti-freedom.

The Brexit has its parallels around the globe. Nationalism and isolationism are on the rise. What’s really amazing about the racism and xenophobia here in the US is that it’s completely unfounded. Another false correlation between racism and nationalism. Between 2009 and 2014, the net flow between Mexico and the US was 140,000 Mexicans LEAVING this country. Hugh, did you actually read this report? It says, “Measuring migration flows between Mexico and the U.S. is challenging because there are no official counts of how many Mexican immigrants enter and leave the U.S. each year.” The numbers they DID report are from the US Census Bureau – which has NO REAL DATA on illegal immigrants. I live in Southern California. Trust me, they’re not leaving. AND that doesn’t include immigrants from other countries. Immigrants from Mexico are only one part of the equation. Our economic stagnation, Mexico’s meager economic progress, and family reunification, were all factors. Perhaps it’s fitting that the hero of this movement here in the States, Donald Trump, got his facts exactly backwards when he celebrated Scotland voting to leave the EU. Perhaps Hugh didn’t listen to what Trump said and only listened to Rachel Maddow (yikes). Trump never said that Scotland voted to leave the EU – he simply said that leaving is a good thing, and that he saw people celebrating. Almost 40% of the Scottish people did vote to leave, so yes, there were some people there celebrating. His adherents get the facts exactly backwards as well. Opening borders with the rest of the world would not result in a stampede. It would result in a natural flow in both directions. So if we have completely open borders with Mexico (actually…we kind of do), then there will be a natural flow in both directions, with as many people moving to Mexico as there are to the US?

The only people I know who even consider moving to Mexico full time are those running from the law, those bankrupt in the US, or millionaires (Sammy Hagar) who can keep the Mexican government at arms’ length.

Racism is the root of this nationalism, plain and simple. If it weren’t, we’d see people picketing high school and college graduation ceremonies for all the looming jobs about to be stolen. We’d see intolerance toward pregnant women and kids in strollers for all the jobs these new Americans are going to steal. We’d hear more about these dastardly Canadians.

Racism must be the reason we don’t want illegal immigration, because otherwise we’d hate all newborns for taking future jobs? This is the most ridiculous argument yet. CITIZENS and LEGAL immigrants pay taxes and abide by our laws. No one has a problem with this. I don’t care if you’re red, green, purple, or polka dot, if you want to come here, do it LEGALLY.

The xenophobes are not worried about population growth, not really. Population growth leads to economic growth. A newborn child and an immigrant are both going to consume and trade just as much as they work (more so, with debt accumulating over time). That means every new body is more jobs created through more spending. When you see an immigrant, see a shopper, an eater, a renter. Just like you do a newborn. The fact that we don’t see it this way says it all.

Who says we don’t see it this way? This is exactly how I see it. But I don’t want people coming here ILLEGALLY.

Look, borders are a dumb fucking idea. Sigh. Did you have to insult everyone who doesn’t think like you? Lines on maps are necessary to a point, but not when it comes to immigration, the free flow of people, or the free flow of trade. I’d love to know where that point lies for you. Because if immigration and trade are flowing with zero restrictions, what would be the point of a border? These bureaucratic walls are only beloved by those who fear that the makeup of the populace will change (usually by growing darker). No. Please stop calling everyone racist who doesn’t agree with you. But it’s the next generation that has to live with the consequences of these protectionist schemes. Consequences you still have yet to demonstrate.

Let’s take the idea of Brexit a bit further and liken it to the United States fracturing. Imagine a different currency in all 50 states. Different rules and regulations. Our political leaders would waste more and more of their time debating trade deals, which would mean more lobbying from special interest groups who try to get import duties on everything they make, while reducing duties on the raw materials they need, with everyone else fighting for the exact opposite. He who provides the nicest steak (pick your bribe) wins. Apples and oranges. The US is a collection of states who believe in the same basic principles. Who have a shared history. Not so with the COUNTRIES that make up the EU.

It’s ironic to me that the small-government side of the political spectrum is all about the proliferation of governments. I have heard this argument that bureaucrats in Brussels are corrupt and self-serving, as if bureaucrats anywhere, at any time, have been anything less.The only way to achieve smaller governments, so that private sector initiative can move the world forward rather than backward, is to have fewer governments, not a lot more of them with smaller borders. To argue that the United States would benefit by being 50 separate countries is absolute lunacy. Just look at Germany before and after Bismark. Or Italy of the city states. Yet this is what the pro-Brexit crowd is applauding, especially once Scotland votes for independence and the EU breaks up further. They’re applauding the equivalent of the dissolution of the United States. That’s how fucking dumb their stance is.

There’s so much wrong with this paragraph I don’t know where to start.

The United States works so well because of states’ rights. Our Constitution specifically grants as many rights to states as possible so that people can locally govern themselves. A monster Federal government is exactly what our founders’ feared, and exactly what you’re advocating for. The LARGER the government, the more removed from the local people, the greater the tyranny. Fewer governments does not mean SMALLER governments – exactly the opposite.

And again, you call me “fucking dumb.” Good one.

The end goal should be open borders around the world. A single currency, and people free to live wherever they want, not imprisoned by where they are born. This is a long way off, but baby steps must be made. Every free trade pact and loosening of immigration policies is a move in the right direction. Will stronger economies have to buttress weaker economies for a while? Of course. California and Texas already pay an outsized proportion of our collective defense fund than Alabama or Rhode Island. Part of this is population numbers and part is economic vitality and tax revenues. Just as Germany helps Portugal, so too does Florida help South Dakota. This is a good thing. It’s how it should work.

I’ve lived in California all my life, and I’ve never heard anyone here protest the fact that our taxes help pay for the defense of Rhode Island.

But have you been following the economic situation in Greece? They’ve been helped…and helped…and still the Greeks are out in the streets protesting austerity measures! They want everyone else in the EU to work so they don’t have to. Or they think money grows on trees.

The only way socialism works is if everyone contributes exactly the same. And that is impossible once you reach a certain scale. I mean, if I can get healthcare for free whether I work or not…why the hell would I go to work? If my neighborhood is going to put streetlights in whether or not I pay my share…why should I pay? And make no mistake, there will always be people who won’t go to work and who will refuse to pay. So the only answer for these people is to put them in jail. Not contributing is against the law, right? And bam, you’re living in a totalitarian state with no say over your own life.

The reason it works in the United States is that we have a collective identity which overrides (most) of our tribalism. Yes, there is still a lot of regional pride and rancor, (Really? There’s nothing wrong with regional pride, and I don’t know what rancor you’re talking about.) but we stand together where it counts. The fix for our world economy will be to train ourselves to do the same. We need to SEE each other as humans first and foremost. We need to feel it. Believe it. Let it pervade us.

You’re working from a false premise – that a world economy would have difficulty only because we see each other as “other.”

Nope. I see every human being as a human being. Every life is equal in my eyes. But here’s the problem: not all people share the same ideals and values. There are some people who want to pay $70% of their income to taxes so the government can provide healthcare and education. There are others who want to keep 70% of their income and choose their own healthcare and education. Why do you want to fit us into the same shoebox? Why can’t you do you, and I can do me? We can still get along, still visit each other, still make trade deals that benefit us both. But don’t force me to live with your values.

The reflex to be protectionist with our trade must be countered by the knowledge that any rise in wealth abroad pays dividends to everyone. China developing a middle class means more spending and tourism. It means more growth for US companies. It will also lead to the movement of jobs back to the US as wages go up, and also to the next areas of the world to rise out of poverty, like Africa. There is no way you can make the argument that an impoverished and uneducated California or North Carolina would ever be a good thing for this country, so how can anyone think an impoverished and uneducated country would ever be good for the world?

Who thinks an impoverished Africa is good for the world? What are you talking about?

Africa is held back by AFRICA. Many of the countries there are controlled by warlords who don’t give a shit about the people, and you think that by letting our borders down or by freely trading with African nations that somehow these warlords will step aside and say, “Hugh Howey has the right of it. What were we thinking?”

My husband was in Somalia as part of the Navy SEAL teams when the Black Hawk Down incident took place. The US was there trying to bring down the government and bring food and aid to the starving Somalian people. The rest of the world has tried, and continues to try, to help Africa, but the situation is extremely complex, and reducing it to “free trade” is insulting to the African people. Better human beings than you have yet to come up with a viable solution for helping Africa.

What we are seeing around the world right now is an ugly spasm of hate in response to a recent wave of globalization. It has happened several times before in human history, as greater enmeshing results in an almost immunological response. The body rejects the transplanted. Still can’t figure out what you’re talking about. I’m not motivated by hate in any way. But it’ll get better. Progress comes one generation at a time. The real lesson here is that the hopeful and optimistic youth need to be as motivated as the angry and the hateful who tend to be older. Anger motivates people to vote more than hope does. You can’t sleep in and trust that the right outcome will just happen. You’ve got to get out and make it happen. Amen. Everyone should be informed and vote.

This November, I would love to see a crushing defeat of hatred and racism and xenophobia. The only one who’s been expressing hatred is you. A crushing defeat. I don’t think it will happen, because the fearful will get riled up and will go stand in line to vote, stamping their feet and harumphing. Those with a positive outlook will trust the polls, that a narrow victory is inevitable, that their friends will do the heavy lifting for them, and that all will be okay. Trump and those who support his brand of xenophobia will likely lose by percentage points (even if the electoral math is much wider).  But it shouldn’t be this way. It shouldn’t be close. This should be a crushing defeat.

It should be a crushing defeat…of Hillary. But that’s another blog post.

We should announce to the rest of the world — just like the colonies did over two hundred years ago — that the people here stand for the future and not for the past. We’ve been laggards on many social issues of late, losing our global leadership when it comes to ethical progress. I would take the US’s brand of ethics over any other nation any day of the week. Too slow to embrace marriage freedoms. Perhaps. Too slow to decriminalize marijuana. Have you been to Colorado lately? Not exactly a rousing endorsement for legalizing pot. Too slow to reduce the number of guns on the streets. Yes, let’s enact Mexico’s gun laws, which are among the strictest in the world. Those laws are extremely effective. It would be great to set an example again. Even better if older voters had a change of heart and defied their fears by voting with compassion. Greater still if the Christian coalition voted as Jesus would. Imagine the man who embraced lepers confronting his followers who would loathe to hug someone with darker skin. But that’s where we stand. It doesn’t mean we have to. Again…this is just nonsense. Older voters are loathe to hug someone with darker skin? Where do you get off calling these people, and those who vote with them, racist?

Look, if you are reading this and you are offended, welcome to the club. I’m offended by myself and my prejudices. We are all racist to some degree. It requires fighting off inborn and genetic tendencies to not be xenophobic, just as it’s damn hard not to overeat and over-consume. There are very clever experiments that can measure this, and one of the shocking results is that people who like to think — who truly believe — that they aren’t prejudiced actually are. So anyone saying “I’m not racist” is lying to themselves. That goes for all of us. It’s a question of degree. It’s also a question of intellectual honesty. But mostly, it’s a question of what we’re going to do about it.

Slick. Call yourself racist. Call those who claim they’re not racist, crazy. This isn’t an argument – this is a tactic used by the left to shut down the opposition.

We are not all racist. Yes, we all have prejudices and experiences and preferences, but racism is actually treating someone different purely based on race. Sorry to burst your bubble, but not everyone is racist.

This November, I’m going to vote for a career politician that I’ve never been fond of. To me, this is an even greater rebuke of Trump’s xenophobia than it would be if I voted for a politician that I’m in love with. This is not quite me hugging a leper (I think Hillary will make a great president), but you get the idea. If you didn’t have to overcome your revulsion, you aren’t proving anything. That’s why, the more you disagree with Hillary, the more you’ve held against her over the years, the more meaningful your vote against Trump becomes.

And yes, it’s okay to vote against something. You can’t vote against something without also voting for something. This November, I get to vote for the United States to be an example again. An example of inclusion. Of liberty. No one has liberty if they’re working hard while others dictate what happens with the fruits of their labor. Of trust. Where does trust come into play? The fact that I’ll be voting for someone I disagree with is just ever sweeter. Kind of makes me want to vomit, but maybe that’s just me. Standing up for what you believe in is more powerful when there’s something you have to overcome. This will be a chance to shout down bigots with my vote. And I’m not going to rely on the rest of the country to do that for me. I’m not going to take it for granted. I’m not going to fear the lines. I’m not going to wait for the day after to Google what any of this is about, or research what the fuck is going on. I want a landslide of love. ‘Cause love overcomes all. Even facts. I’m even willing to forgive all of you who want the exact opposite. How big of you.

After we politely and democratically kick your motherfucking hate-filled asses in November.


For the left, this is all about compassion. About love. About human beings and understanding and inclusion. These are wonderful ideals. We’re in agreement there. But I look at human nature as it truly is, not as I wish it would be.

The left wants their utopia so badly that they ignore the facts. It’s not hatred and xenophobia that drove Brexit. It’s liberty. The people of the UK want to determine their own future. They want control over their own lives. Did you know the EU banned high-powered vacuums, and was about to ban high-powered kettles, irons, mowers, and smartphones, too (they decided to wait on these until after the referendum vote – too little, too late)? The EU was meant to be a trade group, but it morphed into something larger, something more intrusive, something uncontrollable. This is the lesson.

For true liberty, people need local control. True globalism is dangerous. Vote for Hillary at your peril.


It’s been a rough month.

First, our youngest comes down with a life-threatening asthma attack. Out of the blue. Never had asthma before. And while we’re dealing with his health, we’re trying to figure out the source of his problem.

One thing came to mind pretty quick – our house is under construction, and we’ve been living with plywood floors, and our son’s room happens to have some pretty big gaps where the awful air from under the house seeps through.

It’s heart-wrenching to realize that our living conditions were making him ill.

So floors. Picked some gorgeous wide-plank oak stained a beautiful gray. Had to get it ordered, acclimated, then schedule installers. Check. Meanwhile, the poor kid is staying next door at my mom’s (thank GOD my mom lives next door!), but he feels seriously displaced. We took everything out of his room and washed it. Scrubbed the walls and ceilings. Check.

So we have this awful old kitchen. Our plan is to move it to a different place in the house, and we’ve already got the new kitchen plumbed and wired and layed out. We’ve been trying to pay cash for everything and do a little at a time. But as the installers are laying out the new wood floor, they run right into the old kitchen island. We can cut off all the planks here, they say. But it will mess up the pattern of the floor.

So we decide to gut the old kitchen. Without having a new kitchen, mind you. We’ve been here before. In one of our previous homes, I lived without a kitchen for eight months as my husband built it in his spare time. We washed dishes in the tub or with garden hose. Not fun.

We tried to save the old Corian countertop and sink, with the idea of using it temporarily in the new space so we wouldn’t be without a sink. No dice. The old counters snapped into pieces. We thought we could just put a garbage disposal on the sink we have out on the patio – but, no, the sink hole is too small for a disposal. We thought we could replace that sink…but the previous owners grouted it in place, and now our patio kitchen needs new countertops.

And I still don’t have a proper sink. But what does it matter when I can’t cook?

And THEN…you know, since we went ahead and gutted the old kitchen, and our plan is to turn it into a library with a fireplace and board up a door and add new windows…the old door and windows had to go, right? I have gaping holes in the exterior walls of our house, and of course it had to be the hottest day of the year…110 degrees. With the heat billowing in, and the air conditioning being sucked right out…and man, does taking out windows surrounded by stucco create a lot of dust. If my child didn’t have asthma before this, he most certainly would have had it after.

The good news is, the kid’s bedroom is done. Clean with a brand new HEPA filter. Beautiful floors. He moved back in two days ago and is happy as a clam, with no breathing issues for a week. And beautiful floors throughout the house that I can actually sweep and mop properly!

Almost throughout the house, I should say. They’re still working on the new kitchen area. We have boxes of dishes and appliances and food all over the house. And did I mention the dust? But we’re getting there. Slowly but surely.

Once upon a time we had a dream. Patiently remodel our home. Take on no debt and pay for it as we go. Be smart. Only start projects we can finish.

That dream just got blown to hell. Okay, we haven’t succumbed to the Home Depot credit card yet, but I can feel it coming. I’m too old to live without a kitchen sink.

Political Rants Comin’ This Way

I host the Orange County Satellite for IWOSC, the Independent Writers of Southern California. As a group, we’ve been working on professionalism, taking our careers seriously and viewing our writing as just that – as a career, and not as a single writing project. And as part of that, we’ve been working on branding ourselves and figuring out how we want to present ourselves and be perceived.

So we were talking tonight about blogging, providing valuable content, and a question came up about politics: do we dare to go there?

And the answer from our PR maven was…yes. Go there. Better to be controversial – as long as it’s done in a professional way – than to go unrecognized.

I struggle with this. Ninety-five percent of the blogs I want to write, and several of the books on my writing to-do list, are political in nature. I love to challenge myself to make a logical, coherent argument. I’ve been blogging so infrequently since I started my new website because I’ve been censoring myself, afraid to ruffle feathers. I don’t like actors who blurt out political rants, so why should I tolerate it with writers?

Well…I’m a political animal. I have opinions. And since I’m a writer, I think I can at least present my thoughts logically. You might not agree with them, and that’s great – disagree away! I want to learn new things, and I want to hear the other side. Make me see the world in a different way, open my mind, and I will try to do the same for you.

So I’m going there. I hope you’ll go with me.