Bernie's Mistake

Bernie Sanders isn’t alone in wondering if a woman can be elected president of the United States. I’ve wondered the same thing. I’ve said the same thing: I don’t think a woman can be elected president.

I think Hillary Clinton’s loss had an enormous amount to do with her being a woman, with the sexism from the right and the left so thick sometimes it made my eyes water. Her defeat depressed me so much that it called into question what might be a fundamental truth about my fellow Americans – they can’t bring themselves to vote for a woman. Oh, they hide it pretty well. But those of us who grew up in the swamp of sexism can smell all the creatures who live there from 5,000 miles away.

So Elizabeth Warren says that Bernie expressed his view that a woman couldn’t be elected president. And then ensued a media happy dance about Bernie’s apparent sexism which I thought was nuts because I have thought the same thing. Such a statement can represent astute political judgment – like mine and Bernie’s – as much as sexist determinism.

So I was ready to let Bernie off the hook.

But then he said it never happened. He stood right next to Elizabeth Warren last night on the debate stage and he said he never said it. He didn’t say he was misunderstood. He didn’t apologize if anyone was offended. He flat out said it didn’t happen. He basically called Elizabeth Warren a liar or, more accurately, a hyper-sensitive, overly emotional girl who got herself riled up over an imaginary slight. Nothing she said was true. Only what he said was true.

It was a master class in marginalizing a woman. But in this case, the woman was his longstanding friend, a fellow United States Senator, a woman of substance and character. But it didn’t matter. He couldn’t apologize, couldn’t acknowledge, no. He had to be right.

Bernie Sanders reminded us that the sexism he denies having is just as robust as it ever was, it’s just hidden until he’s poked. And he got poked last night and the sexist bullshit came flowing out of him like pus from an abscess. No wonder she wouldn’t shake his hand.

The Joy of Showing Up

Every day there is a choice between going and not going. The going seems extra and uncomfortable and so that is what is often chosen. Not tonight. I chose to go. Two pairs of socks, Street Angels hoodie, my parka, and my sign. You can’t go to a demo without a sign. I have a great one – big, red, durable, and with a big statement. A joyful sign, I’d say.

It was grand to be with hundreds of people protesting Trump’s weird rally in our town and chanting until I was hoarse. Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Donald Trump has got to go! And even grander to walk through Milwaukee’s downtown and see the inflatable Trumpy with the gold hair waiting for us, our beautiful County Courthouse in the background. We also chanted: Whose Street? Our Street! when cops made us squeeze on to the sidewalk. It felt great to talk back.

Across from the arena where Trump was speaking, there was a thick row of Milwaukee police officers. I recognized one of them right away – Chad, the cop who is also a nurse, who trains people to do homeless outreach. “I forgot my jacket,” he said, laughing, “Now I know how our friends feel.” He was referring to our homeless friends, not everyone would know that, but I did. It made me feel like we were comrades. It was that kind of night.

So, if you are offered the choice of going or not going, of bringing your sign or leaving it in the closet, yelling chants or looking down at your boots, you know what to do. You won’t be sorry.


It took putting a blanket on the floor and sweet talking him for five minutes to get Punchy to hang out with me in my office. It’s a first, him laying there while I type.

He’s a very tentative dog. Sort of like a guest who’s not sure he should use the good towels. So he hangs back in his uncertainty until he is completely convinced that it is okay for him to do something new. He seems to want a ‘new dog in the house’ handbook so he can get things right and not offend.

I love his utter lack of entitlement, his unassumingness, his patient waiting while his friend dog, Swirl, chews on a bone, only getting up to investigate the bone after Swirl leaves it. He would no more insist or growl or fuss over the bone than he would knit a sweater. It’s not my place, I can hear him saying in his head.

You have to love a dog like that. I’m working on it. Just now I gave him a kiss on the head. He was surprised but stood still. Maybe he’s thinking it’s okay to get a kiss, just like it’s okay to lay on the blanket in my office.

The Mystery of Punchy's Rankness

We’ve been puzzling over it, Punchy’s rankness, figuring at first that it was the accumulation of eleven years in the dog yard with all the spit and mud and rolled-in dead things that might have fallen from the trees or been passed dog to dog down the line, but then we took him to a fancy groomer who gave him a bath and sent him home with a bow, and, yes, he does still smell lovely, depending on where you’re standing but every now and then a whiff of something unlovely catches you in the face like the deep sick odor of the inside of the trash can when you look in it right after the garbagemen come, but it wasn’t until today when my husband saw Punchy’s footprints in pile after pile of his leavings in the backyard that we solved the mystery of Punchy’s rankness.

Jan's Little Book Starring Two Talking Mutts

They’re gone now but the fascinating conversations of Minnie and BowWow live on.

Yes, after overwhelming popular demand (by my husband and one other person), I’ve published a compilation of Minnie and BowWow’s remarkable conversations. Who would’ve thought two ordinary-looking dogs could have such extraordinary wit and political acumen?

It’s a short book but very sweet and extremely funny. It also has a lot of profanity so don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s a book for the kiddos just because it’s got talking dogs.

Minnie and BowWow is available right now on Amazon.

If you like it, please take a few minutes to write a review on Amazon. If you think it’s folderol, go read War and Peace and see if you can get a chuckle that way. Just kidding. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. Even Minnie and BowWow – which you will see if you buy the book.


Swirl has taken his role as mentor very seriously. He’s introduced Punchy to several dog parks, shown him the ways of the urban world, and how to shake off all that old sled dog yard stand on the roof of your doghouse culture.

So there are some lovely scenes from this beautiful new friendship.

There’s this. So handsome.

And this. So sweet. Isn’t the light lovely?

And then there’s this. Swirl loves having an apprentice. We think Punchy has made his life complete.