CVIndependent

Tue01162018

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

In the beginning, it isn’t clear if Donald Trump will even make it inside.

It’s around 10 a.m., April 29, on Burlingame’s Old Bayshore Highway—just south of the San Francisco International Airport—and protesters have just finished forming the second of two human fences that they hope will block access to the only road entrances to the adjacent Hyatt Regency, site of the 2016 California GOP Convention.

The protesters forming the fence sit cross-legged across the road, their arms joined through sections of plastic tubes that are penned with slogans such as “Stop Hate,” “Capitalism Kills” and “Love Trumps Hate.”

Trump, the leading GOP candidate, is slated to speak at a 12:30 p.m. luncheon, and Burlingame police officers line the sidewalk nearby, their eyes fixed on the protesters.

About 100 yards north up the road, closer to the hotel lobby, the crowd of activists surrounding the other human fence is far larger. There, dozens of anti-Trump protesters hold signs that read, among other things, “Make America Hate Again” and “Californians Against Trump/Hate.”

A brass band snakes through the crowd, lending an air of festivity to an otherwise tense scene. Tania Kappner, a Bay Area activist, directs much of the action through a megaphone.

“I need about half of you to go support the folks locked down on the other side. Not everybody, just half!” she says. “We need to shut this entire road all the way the fuck down!”

Inside the Hyatt, past the line of police, the mood is expectant, almost giddy. The line to see Trump speak stretches more than 100 feet long, and because he has a Secret Service detail, it moves slowly—aside from a bag check, attendees must pass through a metal detector.

Inside the banquet ballroom, after it is announced Trump made it into the building, albeit a bit late (he was secreted in through the rear), he is introduced by State Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, who hails Trump as “our next president,” and then gets the crowd involved. “To all the lobbyists who think they can buy our freedom,” he says, and then the crowd joins in, “you’re fired!”

When Trump finally enters, the mood is electric.

“That was not the easiest entrance I’ve ever made,” he says, drawing laughter. “It felt like I was crossing the border.”

Trump then goes on a rambling account of his campaign thus far, how he’s proven his doubters wrong, and how he’s more popular than the other candidates. (Just days later, the other two remaining Republicans would suspend their campaigns, clearing Trump’s path to the GOP nomination.) True to form, he calls Ted Cruz “Lyin’ Ted” and Hillary Clinton “Crooked Hillary.” He mocks John Kasich for eating during news conferences.

Trump says he will be heading to Indiana soon to hang out with coach Bobby Knight.

“He’s a winner,” Trump says. “That’s what we need now, we need winners.”

Aside from trade deals and immigration, Trump avoids talking about the issues, and mostly praises those who support him. He mentions an endorsement he received from 16,500 members of the U.S. Border Patrol, and refers to them as “phenomenal,” “great-looking,” “strong” and “in-shape.”

He also assures the crowd he will have no trouble building the wall he’s promised on the Mexican border.

“It’s so easy,” he brags. “I can just see that beautiful pre-cast plank, good solid foundations, nice and high … ”

One can barely hear his words through the applause.

When Trump finishes, the hotel is on lockdown, with police holding the line against an increasingly riled-up group of protesters. The only way out is a side door leading to the parking garage, and broken eggshells—from raw eggs thrown by protesters—line the walkway as luncheon attendees shuffle uneasily to their cars.

Back inside, the Monterey County Republican Party is the only county party with a booth, as was the case at the state GOP convention last fall. And once again, the table is set up with a “Delete Hillary” cornhole game that aims to bring light to Clinton’s so-called scandals. The game is in keeping with the wireless password for convention attendees: “hillarycantbetrusted.”

Monterey County GOP shotcaller Paul Bruno, the Central Coast regional chair for the Ted Cruz campaign, is sipping a cocktail near the table later in the day.

“We’ve been deleting Hillary, and we’re going to continue deleting Hillary,” he says. Bruno adds that he just got back from a Cruz rally in Indiana, and praises Cruz for being “somewhat of a maverick.” But, he says, all the GOP candidates “bring a lot to the table.”

The evening brings a speech by Kasich, the most moderate of the GOP candidates, who was trailing heavily in the polls. His tone is wistful, as if he already knew that his defeat was sealed.

“I’ve been endorsed by over 70 newspapers,” he says. “Wish it mattered.”

Kasich ended his campaign several days later.


The next morning, the Hyatt is packed with attendees wearing “Team Cruz” stickers. Cruz will be giving a speech at a 12:30 p.m. luncheon. For Cruz, the most conservative of the candidates, it’s been a tough week: On April 26, Trump swept Cruz in five states, and on April 28, former House Speaker John Boehner referred to him as “Lucifer in the flesh.” It would get even tougher in the week that followed: On May 3, Cruz suspended his campaign after getting trounced in the Indiana primary.

But on this day, the excitement in the banquet room is palpable, and Cruz is introduced by former Gov. Pete Wilson, a surprise guest who recently endorsed Cruz.

“Never has the California Republican primary election been so critical to the future of our nation,” he says.

When Cruz finally takes the stage, he is welcomed by rousing applause. “God bless the great state of California!” he says, drawing cheers. After thanking some people, he begins praising Carly Fiorina, who he named as his running mate April 27.

“Carly terrifies Hillary Clinton. I picture Hillary thinking about Carly, tossing and turning, and tossing and turning—in her jail cell,” he says.

He then goes on to describe his platform: Abolish the IRS, rein in the EPA, end Common Core education, “rip to shreds” the Iranian nuclear deal, and repeal Obamacare.

Shortly after Cruz’s speech is a seminar about the Republican National Convention, and the complex set of possibilities that would play out if Trump didn’t win 1,237 delegates—an outright majority that would secure the nomination.

After the seminar, in a men’s room across the hall, a 50-something man tells an elderly man that he didn’t know it cost $900 to become a delegate.

“You know what they say in Poland?” the elderly man says.

“I should let you know I’m Polish,” the other man responds.

“Tough shit-ski. You know what they in southern Poland?”

“I don’t know.”

“Tough shit-ski, y’all.”

Trump, who could barely make his way into his own party’s convention, may actually find his way into the White House.

This piece originally appeared in the Monterey County Weekly.

Published in Politics

On this week's beautiful Independent comics page: Red Meat decides to avoid the criminal underbelly; Jen Sorenson examines Republican feminism; The K Chronicles binges on football; and This Modern World looks at the false equivalency of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Published in Comics

Every woman I know was thrilled by Carly Fiorina’s response at the second Republican debate to Donald Trump’s denigrating comment about her looks. Whether you agree with her policies or believe she is qualified to be president, her confident and direct hit at Trump was the standout moment.

“Look at that face!” Trump had proclaimed to a Rolling Stone reporter. “Who would vote for that?” When pushed to explain his denigrating comment, Trump claimed he was only talking about Fiorina’s “persona.”

During the debate, after Trump confronted Jeb Bush on his awkward comments about women’s health funding (which Bush claimed was a “mis-speak”), Fiorina was asked about Trump’s comments regarding her looks. With a calm, deliberate tone, she responded, “Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly and what Mr. Bush said. I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.” Bam!

Trump then followed with what every woman knows is the equivalent of a pat on the head: “She’s got a beautiful face, and she’s a beautiful woman.”

Sorry, Donald. Too little, too late.

Why were women so pleased with Fiorina’s response? Too few of us ever feel that confident to respond effectively to a man belittling us based on our looks. Having someone say, “You look nice today,” is always welcome. But when you’re in the boardroom, or the planning meeting, or a presidential debate, your looks are the last attribute you want noticed. It’s one of the small but persistent things that diminish women in public and private venues. When comments are made like, “That dress makes you look really sexy,” or, “Why would anyone vote for someone who looks like that?” it’s not only not OK; it should be socially unacceptable.

Statistics and analyses frequently illustrate the disparity between women and men in salaries and career opportunities, including the 85 percent dominance by men in Silicon Valley; the recently successful book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg; and disappointing numbers of women in creative leadership roles, such as those in movies and television (with a few notable exceptions like Tina Fey, the Amys—Schumer and Poehler, and Shonda Rhimes, used to refute the complaints: “Hey, they made it, so what are you complaining about?”).

All of this came to mind as I was reading Palm Springs resident Carlynne McDonnell’s book, The Every Woman’s Guide to Equality, which contains helpful advice for women on how to respond to situations in which they are treated with less than the full measure of respect they deserve.

McDonnell has been in the Coachella Valley for about three years. Her background includes a degree in humanities and a master’s in public policy. She has always been involved in writing, but professionally, it was usually of the technical variety, involving contracts, specifications, policies and procedures. Carlynne worked primarily in what she describes as “male-centric industries”—on the docks in Houston, and with the railroad in New Jersey. She felt compelled to write about the basics for women’s equality, particularly in the workplace.

“I felt I had not done enough to help other women,” she said. “Just listen to the way women are described, and the way women are talked about publicly. We’ve been desensitized to it, and it doesn’t seem like anyone stands up and says, ‘Stop it!’ It reaches the point where there is so much negativity, it can become overwhelming.”

Last year, McDonnell decided it was time to speak up and make a difference.

“I started the book last April, because I wanted to address how women can come together to have the greatest impact,” she says. “Women need to stop being so divided and talk in terms of our most-common factor: We are all women. Although we are not encouraged to speak our minds, we must do something instead of nothing. We can effect change as a group with the power of our voices and our dollars, but we need a continuous effort. We can and must change the world.”

For McDonnell, individual activism is a key component of the change she sees as necessary: “We need to demand a culture of success where the most qualified, regardless of gender or race or any other factor, is the one hired to do the job.”

She sees too much reliance on old ways of doing things, or people wanting to hire people just like themselves, or policies that don’t make a conscious effort to overcome old biases.

“I have a problem with the idea of ‘unconscious bias,’” she said. “On some level, it becomes conscious exclusion, and that’s what policies have to overcome. These things should not have to be legislated—they’re just good policies. But ultimately, the long-term message must be, ‘You can pay me now, or it will cost you a lot more later.’”

McDonnell also focuses on violence against women, as she sees a shifting view of responsibility: “People don’t realize how many women are killed every year. We call it ‘domestic’ violence, but the way we view women in crisis is often that the onus falls on the woman. Even women will say, ‘Why didn’t she just leave?’”

McDonnell’s book includes a chapter on health-care bias, where the emphasis is too often on diseases that get the most financial profile and support, such as breast cancer, compared to those that have higher death rates for women, like heart disease or stroke.

She also highlights the role of men and the need for them to have raised consciousness about the often subtle ways in which women are publicly disrespected. Her husband “has walked out of car dealer showrooms and declined to move forward with contractors who showed disrespect for me. He not only gets it; he acts on it.”

How can women learn to respond, like Fiorina, when their efforts are trivialized or disrespected? McDonnell includes many helpful suggestions that women can incorporate into their everyday lives. If you’re treated inappropriately at a store or restaurant, speak to someone in charge, and let them know why you will no longer spend your money in their establishment. Ask questions of your health-care providers about whether their recommended treatment is specific to women, or whether the testing and protocols were only researched with men. Stand up for women whose voices may not be heard. Get angry and vocal with police departments and elected officials who do not make safety, security and equality for women high priorities. Speak up when people use trivializing language about women and girls: “Don’t let ‘like a girl’ be anything more than an empowering battle cry to strive and succeed.”

McDonnell’s bottom-line message is that women must stand up and be heard, be role models, mentor others and educate without intimidating. “We allow our power to be diminished by not responding. Every time you stand up for yourself, you stand up for those who cannot do so. ”

Carly Fiorina gave us a good model of how to do that. Carlynne McDonnell is attempting to empower us all to do the same.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal,” and her radio show airs Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on KNews Radio 94.3 FM. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors