A Tale of Two Cities

What happened to George Floyd on Memorial Day in Minneapolis, Minnesota would not have happened in Atlanta, Georgia.

I know this like I know I’m a 63 year old, white woman who has lived in both places.  Technically, I live in St. Paul, but I can see Minneapolis from my front yard and the Twin Cities are called that for a reason.

Georgia has been in the news a lot lately and not in a good way.  I don’t want this blog to devolve into a critique of Brian Kemp, so I’ll assume you’ve been paying attention to all the news out of Georgia, including the murder of Ahmud Aubrey.

What Georgia doesn’t get enough credit for, however, are all the right things that happened as a result of desegregation in the 60’s.  My family moved to Atlanta in 1966 right smack dab in the middle of the civil rights movement.  We rented a house in SW Atlanta off of Cascade Road.  White flight was just getting started in that neighborhood and more and more black families were moving into the middle-class homes on beautiful, tree lined streets.

Our neighbors included both Hank Aaron and Martin Luther King, Jr.  My playmates included the daughters of Atlanta Braves left fielder Mack Jones.  For the first time in my short life I went to school with black children.  And even at the young age of nine, I recognized that all of this was somehow new and different.

I was invited to a slumber party.  I overheard my mother on the phone and later talking to my dad about it.  The mother hosting the party called my mother to let her know that a black girl from my class, Marilyn, would be attending.  She just wanted my parents to know in case they had an issue with it.  Apparently, another girl’s parents wouldn’t let her come when they found out Marilyn was going to be there.  My parents, thankfully, didn’t see an issue with it at all and let me go.  It was my first sleepover and I had a blast.  Marilyn did too.  We became good friends over that year that we lived in SW Atlanta.

My parents were smart people.  And they didn’t tolerate bad behavior.  Over and over throughout my childhood I recall a simple but clear message.  We are not better or worse than anyone else.  Treat all people with kindness and respect.  Do not tolerate bullies or racists.  We are all equal.  And never, ever, ever let us catch you using the “n” word.  Ever.

I lived in and around Atlanta until 2016 when I packed up and relocated to the progressive bastion of the Twin Cities, Minnesota.  The differences between the two regions are too many to name.

But one of the first and the most stark things I noticed was the inequities between white people and people of color.  African Americans in the Twin Cities are in no way equal to their white counterparts.  In it’s defense, Minnesota is a pretty white state.  It was settled by Scandinavians and it shows up everywhere.

I came from one of the most diverse cities in the country.  I came from a place where black people had fought hard to advance in every way.  I came from a place where African Americans held the highest positions in city government and could control the narrative as it pertains to social and criminal justice.

African Americans in Atlanta live in nice neighborhoods, drive nice cars, attend good schools and are able to get good jobs.  The middle class is full of every shade of skin color.  It is so prevalent that you take it for granted.

Until you come to the Twin Cities.  Where people of color still live in the poorest neighborhoods and whose prospects of scraping their way into the middle class are pretty dim.

And where city governments and police departments are still run, for the most part, by white people.  Melvin Carter, Mayor of St. Paul, being a welcome and somewhat recent exception to that rule.

What Atlanta has shown us is that once people of color are in positions of power and influence, they are able to make their way out of poverty and oppression.  Atlanta isn’t perfect.  Racism is alive and well throughout the region.  There is still wide spread poverty among the black communities.  But what Atlanta seems to have that the Twin Cities doesn’t is hope.

A young, poor, black man in Atlanta can look to the police officers and political leaders of that city, the upwardly mobile friends and relatives who were able to get an education and a good job and he can see a way out.  While getting stopped by the cops would still be a scary experience, he is more than likely going to be stopped by another black man who might not be as eager to show him who has the power.

That same black man in Minneapolis or St. Paul does not have that same hope.  When he looks around he sees very few opportunities for advancement.  And very few role models to emulate.  And when he has contact with law enforcement he knows that his chances of equitable justice are sketchy at best.

I don’t know what George Floyd did or didn’t do on Monday that led to the police being called to the scene.  But I do know this – if he had been in Atlanta, he’d still be alive.

On Being Expendable

We sure have fallen fast.  We Americans really are the world’s most impatient people.

We’ve all been self-isolating for what, 10 days?  It’s all a blur but here at my house we have been officially home-bound for exactly one week.  And I’ll be honest with you, it really hasn’t been that awful.  We’re retired so staying home most of the day is our lifestyle.

So, just for the sake of argument let’s say it’s been 10 days.  For 10 days many Americans have been working from home and schools have been closed.  We’re still buying groceries and beer.  We’re still mailing stuff.  We’re still ordering take-out.  And we’re all keeping Jeff Bezos at the top of the food chain.

I am not at all downplaying the extreme effect that Covid 19 is having on the economy.  It has actually kept me awake at night thinking of all the people I know who own small businesses or work for small businesses who are losing their livelihood.  It’s damn scary.  It will be extremely difficult to come back from this the longer it goes on.

But at 10 days in – 10 fucking days – I have found out that anyone over the age of 60 is apparently expendable.  And not only are we expendable but we should happily put our lives on the line as a patriotic gesture to the United States economy.

I am 63.  My spousal equivalent is 70.  We are both ridiculously healthy.  And active.  In June we rode our Yamaha FJR motorcycle almost 11,000 miles in 11 days across America in an event called the Iron Butt Rally.  We usually rode 20 hours a day and slept for 4.  We went through massive downpours (one that almost killed us), ice, snow, and oppressive heat.  We do this for fun.  Try that.  Most people I know can’t handle an 8 hour car trip with air-conditioning and a DVD player for entertainment.

But we are expendable.  After 10 fucking days of self isolation and the shutdown of only SOME of our businesses.  All of the larger businesses are still going.  I know more people who are doing their jobs from home than people who are out of work.  But the people who are out of work are the ones who can least afford it.  Waitstaff, bartenders, cooks, retail workers, fitness instructors, etc.  They are the ones needing a stimulus package.

So, apparently, if I were a true patriot, I’d happily agree to have all aspects of life opened up, let the virus have its way with us and if I’m one of the ones sacrificed then I’ll be remembered as a hero.  An unselfish warrior in the battle of Covid 19.  I am sure there will be monuments built in honor of our sacrifice some day.

This is where we are?  The United States of America can’t do any better than this?  If the Dow Jones is tumbling, let’s sacrifice some senior citizens?

I have known for a very long time that selfishness and self-interest have taken over our country.  I have watched as the most famous grifter of all time has taken every single beautiful thing about this country and ground it under the heel of his cheap shoes.

And I have watched in horror as people I love have cheered him on as if they are spectators at the cheesiest pro-wrestling match ever.  I have seen the effects of “I have mine. Screw you.”  I have seen greed up close and personal and it is God Damned depressing.  They talk about “bad choices” and “bootstraps” but we all know what it really is.

I’ll be the first one to say that the Boomers have screwed up a lot of things in this country.  And if you want to throw us out to the Covid 19 wolves, then I only have one favor to ask.

Since it was conservatives who came up with this idea, let them go first.

__________________________________________________________

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/03/24/covid-19-texas-official-suggests-elderly-willing-die-economy/2905990001/

https://www.newsweek.com/britt-hume-dan-patrick-tucker-carlson-fox-older-people-1494107

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/03/25/coronavirus-glenn-beck-trump/

Strange Times

I’ve been gone for a while.  I’m one of those writers who does her best work under dire circumstances.

The Trump election seemed pretty dire to me which is when I started this particular blog site.  However, it became impossible to maintain that level of “direness” over the long haul.  I just couldn’t keep up that level of rage.  It’s unhealthy both for me and my relationships.  So I walked away from the keyboard and focused on the occasional snarky Facebook post and yelling at the TV.

I have watched, as we all have, as Covid 19 has taken over the world.  That isn’t an exaggeration, is it?  We are all now holed up in our homes wondering how in the hell our lives could be so upended in the space of a week.

I won’t rehash all that has transpired since we first heard of Coronavirus in December.  I won’t even rehash all of the missteps along the way by many governments across the globe.  I won’t turn this into a rant on the mind-blowing ineptitude of the man sitting in the Oval Office and those who stand behind him at every press conference bobbing their heads in agreement while he blathers on incoherently adding lie upon lie to his mountain of lies.

I will admit that in the early stages of all this I thought perhaps it might be overblown.  But as we watched the spread I allowed myself to re-calibrate my level of concern.  Even now I’m not panicked.  I have a full refrigerator and a fully stocked bar.  I can stay like this for a few weeks.  I am retired and my income will continue – although I refuse to even look at my investment accounts.  So, yes, there is some denial going on here.

But the dire part is out there – I don’t want to see people get sick and perhaps die.  And I don’t want to think about the effect this has on small business owners and the self-employed whose businesses have been shut down.  All of the restaurant and bar workers who are now out of work.  Hair stylists, fitness trainers, etc.  All of those people whose livelihood depends on the rest of us being OUT there.  We’re IN here and they can’t work.

The rate of change is now in minutes rather than days.  Remember when the NBA cancelled their season and we were all in shock?  That was exactly one week ago.  It seems like a year.  That began the landslide of sporting events to follow their lead.

And now here we are.  One week later.  Huddled in our homes, watching social media, binge watching anything that will take our minds off of this situation.

And wondering how it will all end.  When will it end?  And how many of us will come out on the other side completely healthy and financially secure?

So now I’ll turn it back to the reason I started this blog in the first place.   I would be so much more comfortable with all of this if I had even one iota of confidence in the leadership of the United States of America.  If ever we needed a strong person of character to help guide us through this crisis it is now.

The United States has always managed to steer its way through bad times in the past.  Whether you like the policies of the person in the White House or not, you knew, deep down, they all truly had our interests at the forefront of their decisions during a national crisis.

We cannot say that now.  We have a man in control of our very lives who has no moral compass at all.  To paraphrase Maya Angelou – He has shown us many times exactly who he is and we should believe him.  He is so far out of his league and he has no one with him other than the “D” team, if that.  All of the good ones have been fired or resigned.

I could attempt to end this post on a happy note but it simply isn’t possible.  The situation is much too dire.

And I’m back at the keyboard.

 

It’s None of Your Business

I never discuss abortion.  Well, until now.

I never discussed abortion in the past because it was none of my business.  It is a legal procedure for any woman who must come to terms with making the excruciating decision to end a pregnancy.

Her reasons for ending that pregnancy are none of my business.

I don’t live her life.  I don’t know about her finances.  I don’t know about her relationships.  I don’t know about her health.  I don’t know about her capacity or resources to raise a child.  I don’t know if she has been raped or abused.

I know nothing of her heartache or pain.  So, it is none of my business.

But thanks to the Republicans in many state legislators, it has now become my business.  And yours.  Now we all have to weigh in and share our opinions about what a woman should or should not be allowed to do about her own body and her own life.

I was sixteen years old when the Supreme Court made it legal for a woman to get an abortion.  I am now sixty two.  I have never had to think about what it would be like if abortions were illegal again.  Through the child bearing years of me and my friend’s lives, abortion has been a legal option for those who needed it.  I have never had to contemplate this decision.  But I know plenty of people who have.

And not once, not one single time did I judge those who had this procedure done.  Because it was their decision to make.  Not mine.

No one is pro-abortion.  No one wants to end a pregnancy.  No one is using abortion as birth control.  But extenuating circumstances that are not easy, black and white issues, make it imperative that women have this as a legal and safe option.

By making it illegal, you won’t stop abortions from happening.  You will simply create a black market for the procedure and turn women and doctors into criminals.  Women will be relegated to the dark corners to secretly find a way.  And they will be harmed by this.  Both physically and mentally.

So, why now?  Forty three years has passed.  And all this legal wrangling to make getting an abortion a crime has been in the works for all of those forty three years.  Finally, all that hard work is paying off.

All of the stars have lined up perfectly for the pro-birth crowd.  Through gerrymandering and voter suppression, they have been able to get themselves elected to political office.  They have had the help of the Senate Majority Leader who, in my mind, is the most dangerous man in America.  But, boy, is he smart.  By not allowing the Senate to vote on Merrick Garland and through the election of Individual-1, SML was able to push through not one but two Supreme Court justices and countless other conservative judges who can help move things along as the lawsuits make their way up the judicial line.

“It can’t happen here.”

Well, yes it can.  And it is happening.  You can sit there all comfy if you like.  But make no mistake – our democracy, our freedom and our American government, as laid out by the founders, is being dismantled right before our eyes.

The abortion issue is just one piece of it.

Are you going to wait it out some more?  First we were waiting on the Mueller Report.  Then we were waiting on the mid-term elections.  Now we are waiting on the 2020 elections.

Meanwhile, the minority Christian right is hard at work.  Making America in their image.  It matters not that the majority of us are against their agenda.  They have that all figured out.  And their plan is working perfectly.

Do I sound paranoid to you?  I bet I do.  I bet the good people of Germany in the 30’s thought some were paranoid.  And probably many in Afghanistan and Iran.  And the Philippines.  Hungary.  Venezuela.  And all the other countries where authoritarian regimes took over.

What comes next?  Once abortions are outlawed?  Will they reverse gay marriage? Of course they will.  Why wouldn’t they?  And it won’t end there.

Your decision to get an abortion is none of my damn business.  Just as it should be.  And I’m pissed off that I even have to type that.  It’s 2019 and it is inconceivable to me that we have to fight this battle again.

But, we do.  We need to fight it tooth and nail.

Dear Bill

Dear Bill,

I wanted to write to thank you for your quick response to the Special Counsel’s report on Russian interference in our elections.  You obviously worked very hard over the weekend to make sure the American people could rest easy knowing you’re working for us to get the truth out there.

In less than 48 hours you were able to digest all of the details that took two years to compile.  That’s impressive.

Your letter to Congress, all four pages of it, tells a great story.  The first section is titled  “Russian Interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election”.  You wrote:

“The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks. Based on these activities, the Special Counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian military officers for conspiring to hack into computers in the United States for purposes of influencing the election. But as noted above, the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”

I realize that in order to appease your boss, it was important for you to focus your summary on his and his campaign’s lack of criminal wrongdoing.  After all, that is exactly why you were hired.

But in your haste to focus on that aspect of Mr. Mueller’s report you kind of left us hanging on the more important issue facing our country.

“The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks.”

Sure, Mueller has brought charges against those actors.  But we all know they will never see a US courtroom.  So, the most important question, for me anyway, is this.

As the lead law enforcement official in the United States, what is now being done or what plans are being made to keep Russia from continuing to influence and undermine our democracy?  What hope do any Americans have that their vote and our election process is working without unlawful tampering from a foreign adversary?

It would seem to my untrained eye, that since both Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump got exactly what they wanted out of the previous election interference that there is no reason not to continue with it.

So what will the Department of Justice, the FBI and the CIA (along with all of the rest of our national security organizations) be doing about this?  How will you insure that this never happens again?  What are you doing to stop it?

Given how fast you were able to summarize the Mueller report I have no doubt you’ll be able to answer these pressing questions just as quickly.

On behalf of those of us paying attention, thank you.

Outrage Overload

Happy New Year.  I’ve been otherwise occupied since early December so writing about Donald Trump hasn’t been at the top of my to-do list.

And frankly, I’m just exhausted.  Maintaining the level of outrage required during this time in our history just takes a lot out of you.  Right?  It really makes me understand how people in countries where this stuff is the norm, just plug along without raising too much of a ruckus.  They can’t maintain the level of intensity to fight over it.

I suppose that is the goal of the dictators and authoritarians.  They don’t have to beat us into submission.  All they have to do is keep at it until we all succumb over time because we’re just too tired from the non-stop drama.

For all his faults, Trump is masterful at it.  He crams so many outrageous and dangerous acts into a week that we just can’t absorb all of it.  Being upset, angry, outraged and engaged is a full time job.

Two years ago we had so much energy.  There were marches and demonstrations.  We were all calling our representatives on a daily basis to let them know how angry we were.  There were people camped out at the offices of absent legislators.  New activist groups grew up over night.  I had a steady supply of poster board and colored markers so I could make signs for whatever topic was needed that week.  Women’s March, March for Science, March for Our Lives.  One of my favorite signs was “Protesting is the new brunch”.

I joined Women’s March Minnesota and was promptly given the job of co-event-planner.  I was pretty psyched about it.  But it quickly became too much.  I had a full time job, a huge motorcycle event to plan and just the stuff you do to keep your life going.  I finally had to back away.

So, here we are.  Two years into this national nightmare.  Trump is bolder than ever and tearing away at our democracy and our standing in the world every single day.  It is almost impossible to be surprised anymore.

I fully believe he is capable of anything.  And there are only two things that will stop him, short of death.

  1. Republican leaders finally stop enabling him and stand against him.
  2. He loses re-election.

Notice I didn’t mention Robert Mueller?

I believe Mueller has so much stuff on Trump, his company, his children, his supporters and Putin that it will warrant immediate indictment (stuff it DOJ memo) and impeachment, followed by jail time.  Yes, I do.

But it won’t matter if the Republicans don’t turn against him publicly.   Mitch McConnell has shown us time and time again that he will not stand up to Trump.  And while I’m thinking about it – Gee thanks, Kentucky.  What did the rest of us ever do to you that you felt the need to keep electing this horribly divisive man to represent your state and thus, able to terrorize the rest of us?

So, are we stuck with Trump?  Are we helpless?  Do we have to keep waiting for something big to happen?

Or do we make something big happen first?

We have to get our collective outrage back.  This is our country.  Despite the corruption, cronyism, gerrymandering, voter suppression, greed, power grabbing and back room shenanigans that led us to this point in history – We, the people, still matter.

And while the partial Blue Wave was nice, it wasn’t enough.  Nancy Pelosi and her band of cussing, dancing congresswomen can only do so much.  And poor old RBG is hanging on with all she’s got.  That woman shouldn’t be carrying the load brought about by our lack of attention and laziness.

The Evil Doers can’t take our country away from us unless we let them.  And so far, we have just barely been vocal enough.  These days we manage to give into our outrage between carpool and yoga class.  Between our commute home and the start of Rachel Maddow.

That isn’t cutting it.

We all need to get back to that level of OUTRAGE we felt in January 2017.

Take to the streets.

Call your legislators every single day.  Make it a habit, like brushing your teeth.

Stand up to the enemy whoever and wherever you find them.  Quit trying to be nice to your crazy, Trump-loving relatives.  They don’t deserve your kindness.  They should feel shame for what they have wrought and we need to quit giving them a pass as if supporting this dangerous man is the same as supporting Bush (either) or Reagan.  It isn’t even close.

Volunteer for something, anything that may help get our government back.

Be loud and outrageous and angry and obnoxious.

This is serious business folks.  We can’t wait for Mueller, Nancy or RBG to fix this problem for us.

This is on us.

Stay hydrated and let the outrage commence.

 

Fighting For Freedom

I grew up in a military family.  My father served in the Army for 32 years, fought in the Pacific during World War II and retired as a Lt. Colonel.  My brother graduated from West Point and is a highly decorated Viet Nam veteran.  I am deeply proud of both of them and the sacrifices they made serving in the military.

I often wonder what my father would think of all that is going on now in our country and around the world.  Daddy did not attend college but he was probably one of the most intelligent and well-informed people I have ever known.  He read voraciously and was always up to date on all current events.  Our dinner table conversations usually centered on the news of the day and the historical implications and connections to those events.  My siblings and I have joked that our education came more from those dinner conversations with our father than anything we learned in school.   Interestingly, he didn’t spend much time on his own opinions but focused on the facts.

He was proud of his career in the military and was extremely patriotic. I share his patriotism. But the United States military can only do so much.

We Americans are taught to believe that our military is there to fight for our freedoms.  And we have gotten to a place where we have elevated the military to a point of idolization.  I think even my father would agree that that level of hero worship can be dangerous.

At its most basic, the military is there to protect our sovereignty and to protect us in the case of invasion of a hostile power.  Over our history, the military sometimes works preemptively on foreign land to stem those threats.  On occasions, our military has been used in situations that didn’t quite fit into the traditional context of their purpose.

When we talk about the military fighting for our freedom, what does that mean exactly?

I assume we mean all of the freedoms laid out in the Constitution, right?  They are supposed to be protecting our freedom of speech, freedom of religion and our right to pursue life, liberty and happiness.  And we should probably throw in the freedom to vote in open elections too.  I could go on but these basic freedoms will cover it for now.

In my lifetime, the military has been deployed mostly in the Middle East and Asia.  After two World Wars the United States joined with our allies in NATO and the UN to form coalitions to fight as a multi-national group against threats to democracy around the world.  So, while our military wasn’t fighting battles on our soil, they were deployed around the world to promote and protect the ideals of those democratic nations who knew it made more sense to work together than as separate entities.

That’s all well and good.  But what about the fight here at home?  How do we protect those same freedoms when they are being attacked here by our very own elected officials?

As I type there are concerted efforts to squash the freedom of the press, freedom to protest, freedom to vote, freedom to end a pregnancy and freedom to marry who you choose.  This isn’t histrionics.  Each one of these freedoms has been under increasing pressure.  There has been recent legislation in many states to curb protests, end abortion rights and so-called “religious freedom” bills that ultimately lead to discrimination against vast segments of our population.

The attack on voting was a huge issue in this past mid-term election.  Legalized gerrymandering is the go-to fix to make sure the minority gets the majority of state legislative seats.  Voter roles were purged in record numbers.  ID laws were created to make it difficult for certain segments of the population to vote.  The list goes on.

If we can’t get free and fair elections – what I would argue is one of the most basic and fundamental rights – then how do we call ourselves a democracy?  And who is supposed to fight so that we keep that basic freedom?

The United Nations?  The ACLU?  The military?

So when I hear someone say or post on social media something along the line of “Thank a veteran for your right to vote – or insert any freedom here”  I always kind of wonder what they mean by that.

How is the military helping to fight the forces right here in our own government who are attempting to curb our freedom?

They aren’t.  It wasn’t designed that way.

So, while I support our military and am proud of the military lineage in my own family, I really wish everyone would stop thanking them for protecting our freedom.

Yes, our freedom is under attack.  There are foreign leaders who want our democracy to fail.  But, technically, we aren’t militarily at war with those people.

The biggest attacks on our freedom are coming from within.  And I’m not sure the military can do very much about that.  I, for one, don’t want it to get so bad that they have to become involved in that fight.

Not all wars are fought with bombs, tanks and guns with troops on the ground and fighter jets in the air.

The war on our American freedoms is raging but the military soldiers aren’t the ones who can save us.

The fight for freedom right here in the United States of  America needs to be fought by each one of us.  Whether we wear a uniform or not.

Let’s Be Thankful

I’ve just returned from Down Under.  My spousal equivalent and I spent two wonderful weeks with friends exploring Queensland, Australia.  Thanks to a great deal from Qantas we found ourselves out of the country and 16 hours ahead of our normal time zone on Election Day.  Upside down and a different day.

As the returns began to come in, our hostess was nice enough to keep a running dialog going on what was happening via her phone and Google.  You see, they care about such things as the US elections in far flung places like Queensland.  Our host put it this way, “What happens in the United States effects all of us.”

Gee.  No pressure America.

Now we are back and the jet lag has subsided.  Mostly.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I am determined to be THANKFUL, dammit!  But before I get to that we need to cover the things I am not thankful for.

Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered and the CIA has determined that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia planned it.  Trump doesn’t care.  He has put a price tag on what is acceptable.  So, this makes it ok, I guess?  That’s where we are now?  Ok, well, keep that in mind as we move forward.  Murder of journalists who speak out against totalitarian regimes is now totally acceptable according to the President of the United States.  As long as we get some money from the perpetrators it’s all ok.  So, where does that end?

Meanwhile, Jeff Sessions was asked to resign as Attorney General almost as fast as the polls closed.  Whether you like Sessions or not, he did seem to be acting as somewhat of a buffer at the Department of Justice from a President who believes the DOJ is “his”.  And now, it pretty much is.  He installed an inexperienced, political ally to oversee the department and, more importantly, the Mueller investigation.  He did so unlawfully, without confirmation by the Senate.  And you haven’t heard a peep out of McConnell on this.  Of course not.  So, I guess now that the precedent has been set we won’t need to have the Senate confirm any cabinet members anymore?  If not acting AG, then why not Secretary of State or CIA?  Just let the President pick any guy off his golf course to sit in the most powerful positions in our government.  Well, then if that is how this will now work, then judges shouldn’t have to be confirmed either.  Why did we go through that painful episode with Brett Kavanaugh if we’re just going to let the President fill positions at will with no oversight?

But wait, that isn’t all that happened while I was cuddling koala bears at the Australia Zoo.  The military was deployed to the southern border of the US to protect us from a dangerous invasion.  Yep.  A couple thousand asylum seekers, walking from Central America, nowhere near our border, was such a horrendous threat that it required our soldiers be down there to protect us all.  The caravan continues but as of this writing the troops on the border are being withdrawn.  Why is that?  Because the election is over, that’s why.  The President of the United States used the military to affect an election.  So, yet another precedent has been set.

But wait, there’s more.  It was reported this week that he attempted to get the Justice Department to “prosecute” political enemies Hillary Clinton and James Comey.  In the case of Hillary, he wants her prosecuted for using a private email server when she was Secretary of State.  You remember that, right?  “LOCK HER UP!”  They still chant it at his rallies.  But it has also been reported that First Daughter, Ivanka Trump, basically did the exact same thing in the early days of this administration.  Ok, so, we will attempt to prosecute and lock up his enemies but for the same “crime” committed by his staff/family members, it’s all good.

Donald Trump does not follow norms, rules, laws or the Constitution.  He pretty much does what ever he wants in order to get what he wants.  Don’t think for one minute that any of this is for us.  For the citizens of the United States.  America First, my ass.

Each of these events on their own are dangerous to our democracy.  Put them all together and it looks more and more like we’ve already lost our democracy.

If one person can simply throw out the rules we’ve lived by since our country’s inception, then what have we been fighting to preserve during our history?

I don’t know what we stand for anymore.  Murder?  Corruption?  Graft?  Nepotism?

Those are the negative terms we’ve always used to describe regimes that we were fighting against.  But now, that is us.  That is what the United States of America stands for now.  We are no longer that shining city on the hill.  We are right down there in the mud with every third world dictatorship we’ve spent the last 250 years condemning.  And look how fast it happened.

The examples I show above are just what happened in the last WEEK.  I can’t even remember everything I’m outraged about from the last two years of Trump.  And I don’t want to think about how much more damage he will do in the next two years if left unchecked.

And now to the optimistic, thankful part of this blog post:

The Blue Wave was kind of what I expected.  Congress went to the Democrats, as did some statewide elections.  But there were still millions of people who went out and voted for Republicans in spite of the shenanigans of Trump.  Or because of, which is even worse.

So, I am thankful that Congress will at least challenge this man.  They may not be able to stop him in his quest to tear apart our democracy for his own gain, but they can, hopefully, slow him down.

I am thankful for the brave journalists who continue to report on this administration and show Trump for what he is.  A small time, lying, con artist.  That is all he is.  And history will remember him that way.

I am thankful for every single person who went out and voted for Democrats in the mid-term elections.  I have never held any party up as the savior of the United States but as of right now, the ONLY way to save our country is to elect people who oppose Donald Trump.  It really is that simple.

I personally have much to be thankful for.  I have a nice life.  I have a job that pays well and provides health insurance.  I have money saved for retirement and enough disposable income that I can afford to go on nice vacations.  I live in a place that probably won’t be ravaged by wild fires or hurricanes.

I am thankful that I still enjoy the freedom to express myself in this blog and elsewhere.

If only Jamal Khashoggi was still alive and free to do the same.

To My Republican Friends

Hi.  It’s me.  Lisa.  Your friend, sister, aunt, extended relative, co-worker, motorcycling buddy.

For those of you who have been around a long time, you know I am a former Republican.

Now I am part of the angry, liberal mob who wants to take away your guns, open the borders, and provide free stuff to illegal aliens all while allowing anyone with a pulse the ability to vote illegally.  And while we’re at it, let’s open all the prisons and let those criminals come into our neighborhoods to rape and pillage.  I get a monthly check from George Soros and get all my information and talking points by attending the Deep State weekly conference calls, directly from Hillary Clinton.  Oh, and those bombs that got mailed to Trump’s top-12 list of enemies? Yeah, we did that too.  Just to start a war with all those patriotic Christians who believe Trump was sent here by God to save America.

Yep.  That’s me all right.

Remember when we were all smarter than to believe such crazy stuff as that?  Remember when you went to the grocery store and right there at the check-out counter was the National Enquirer and The Weekly World News (always with a space alien on the cover).  And you would laugh at the ridiculous headlines and shake your head and wonder how anyone could believe such garbage?

Well, I feel like I’m in that grocery line every minute of the day.  Except it’s not funny anymore.  It’s scary as hell.

You know me.  And I know you too.  I know where you come from, what struggles you’ve had and what came easily for you.  And because I know you, that is why it is so hard for me to accept that you have signed up to be a passenger on the crazy train that is the Trump Administration.

I wonder about it constantly.  How did we come to a place in this world where we stand on opposite sides of a ravine and can’t meet in the middle anymore?  Our conversations are stilted and tense.  We work hard to avoid any mention of current events.  Hell – we can’t even talk about the weather anymore.  Weather is a controversial subject.

Simple policy differences are not the problem here.  You are lined up with a corrupt liar who does everything he can to divide us.  He can’t even pretend to try to unite us.  He doesn’t want to.  He wants to keep us divided and mad at each other.

Wars used to be so simple.  One country would go to war against another country.  You knew where they were, what they looked like and they even wore uniforms, so you could tell the good guys from the bad guys.  The battlefields were drawn, and the carnage was carried out in a fairly efficient manner.  Sure, there was collateral damage, there always is.  But it was managed.

Oh, wait, why did I bring up “War,” you ask?  Well, because we are in one.  This war has been brewing for a long time, long before Trump took over.

White versus black.  Rich versus poor.  Immigrants versus citizens.  Gay versus straight.  Christians versus everyone else.  Liberals versus conservatives.  Do you think we got here by accident?

Unfortunately, in this war we all lose.  We lose our friends, our family, our co-workers, our motorcycling buddies.  

Make America Great Again.  That is what you voted for, right?  You had some idea that we had become less great and God Damn It that swamp needed draining.  And it’s all because those Snowflake Liberals want to take all your money and give it to those low-lifes who won’t get out and work for a living.  They want to turn us into a bunch of Socialists with affordable health care, free-and-open elections and a clean environment.  

Two years ago, America was actually pretty great.   Right now, I barely recognize my country.  And I barely recognize you.  My friends, my family, my co-workers, my motorcycling buddies.

What happened to you?  When did you quit caring about common decency?  When did you quit caring about men who cheat on their wives with porn actresses?  When did you quit caring about a President’s finances and taxes?  When did you quit caring about children taken from their parents?  When did you quit caring about every single vote being fairly cast and counted?  When did you quit caring about people going bankrupt because someone in their family got cancer?  When did you decide that science isn’t real and neither is the truth?  When did you decide that journalism was fake and that it’s ok to body slam or even murder reporters?  When did you start supporting the likes of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un?  When did you decide that Canada, Mexico, Germany and the UK were no longer our allies?  When did you decide that an assassination attempt of TWO Presidents, a Vice President, a Secretary of State, a Congresswoman, a Senator, a CIA Director and others all in the same week in the same manner was no big deal?  

In a little over a week votes will be tabulated.  And we’ll find out if Americans want a check on this President or if they are totally fine with having one party in control of every single aspect of our lives.  We don’t know if all the votes will be counted or if our election systems have been hacked because our President and Congress don’t think we need to spend the money to ensure their security.  We don’t know how many votes will be thrown out or how many people will attempt to vote but will be turned away.  But I guarantee you that if there is this Blue Wave everyone is talking about, Trump will tell you the whole thing was rigged.  Further dividing us.

This is the America we live in now.  We now must doubt the very sanctity of our elections.  Again, this is no accident.  We are meant to doubt it because we are at war.

A war none of us common citizens wanted but through lies and manipulation we now find ourselves in.

Yes, I am out of the closet and I am liberal.  And I know you – because I once was you.  And I am certain you are rolling your eyes and scoffing at me at this very moment.  But I don’t care about that.  I care about what is good and moral about America.  I care about stupid patriotic things like equal rights for every single person.  I care about the words on the Statue of Liberty and how this country allowed my ancestors to flee their homes to start a new life here.  I care about my father fighting fascism in World War II and what he would think about the man sitting in the Oval Office.  I am certain he would not approve.  I care about having a Commander-In-Chief who uses complete sentences and proper grammar.  Someone who can be a true leader and unifier.  Every single past President in my lifetime was able to be that for us.  Even Nixon could be presidential.  But not this one.  

It’s not too late to shake off the stench of Trump and all the anger and corruption he has wrought on us.

Which side of history do you want to be on?  Despite our differences – I still love and care about you.  And I’m worried for all of us.

 

The Value of Fear

We all feel fear.  It is a natural impulse that helps get us out of situations where we may meet our demise.  We needed to feel fear in those early days when we were not at the top of the food chain.  Fear can be good.  But fear is also used as a weapon against us.

It is my opinion that all religions were born out of fear.  The fear of the unknown laid the groundwork for organized religions.  Oh sure, there is talk of deeper spirituality and enlightenment but at their core, keeping folks fearful of that one unanswerable question – what happens when we die – is what keeps many of us humans in line.

Images of burning in hell for eternity were enough to keep the majority of folks on the straight and narrow.  And that would be fine if that was the only thing feared by humans.

Meanwhile, there has always been those who figured out pretty quickly how easy it is to take advantage of other’s fears.  Control the fear, control the person.  Bullies do it, dictators do it, autocrats do it, religious leaders do it.  Politicians do it.  It has gone on since we humans developed cognitive thinking.

What do we fear?  Well, of course we fear for our survival.  At the most basic level, we are wired to survive at all costs.  But as we’ve evolved and the need to keep from being dinner for another species has all but disappeared, the need for that level of survival has diminished a good bit.

But that afterlife thing?  The fear of that continues.  I mean, really, who wants to spend eternity burning in hell?  Anyone?  I didn’t think so.  So, if you believe in that kind of thing, well, it is understandable that you would fear it.

So, if you were told that you had to act a certain way and believe certain things to keep that from happening?  Well, even if you were a bit skeptical about it, you would maybe hedge your bets and do what you’re told in order to avoid that fate.  Seems like the safe thing to do since none of us actually know the truth, right?

And that would be just fine as long as the behavior you have been instructed to emulate was nothing more than following that wonderful Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I love that.  I really, really do.  I make every attempt every single day to live by this one, simple rule.  I don’t read the Bible anymore.  I haven’t regularly attended church since high school.  I don’t identify with any religious organization.  But I believe in that Golden Rule.

I have a lot of Christian friends who believe in the Golden Rule too.  And if I were to ask them right now if they follow this rule they would surely say “Yes!  Of course I do!”  

But let’s dissect that simple sentence and focus on the word “others”.  Which “others” is that referring to?

Other living beings?  Other human beings?  Other Christians?  Other people of my race?  Other people of my gender?  Other people in my town?  Other people who share my political ideology?  What about all the “others” who I fear?

Through human evolution, those folks I mentioned above, those fear mongers?  Well, they figured out that if they could make us fear any who were different from us, then controlling us was that much easier.

And human conflict was born.  It’s one thing to fear the guy in the cave next door from stealing your dinner, forcing you to go hungry.  Sure, you’re gonna fight that guy to keep your dinner.

But we grew from that basic fear of survival into fearing anyone who might take anything we had of value.  Our food, our home, our land.  Our money in the form of tax dollars.  Our ideals.  Our values.  

As we evolved, this concept of human values became something that needed protection.  Protection from the “others” who we were told didn’t share those values.

And so we had to fear those people too.  The ones who wanted to steal our freedom and force us to live in a way that made us uncomfortable.  So we lined up with those like us.  Those who thought like us, believed in the same God, and would stand with us when it was time to protect our “values”.

Every culture on earth has these perceived values.  When it comes down to it, they aren’t even that different.  They are all based on the same simple rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Except that in most cultures, the “others” were clearly defined.

The “others” were us.  As long as the “other” looked like us, worshiped like us, loved like us, and voted like us, then we would show them kindness, compassion and respect.

But if they were part of those other “others”.  Well, no.  Not so much.  Those others should be feared.  

Why?  Because we were told to fear them.  They want to take what is ours.  Change the way we live.  And force their beliefs on us.  We must fear that.  And we must fight it with everything we have.

Why?  Because they are different.

Why?  Well…

Why?

If you fear someone because they don’t look like you or their gender/sexuality doesn’t fit into a easy box on a form.  If you fear someone who is fleeing a horrible life in hopes of finding a decent one.  If you fear equal rights for all human beings.

Ask yourself why.  Ask yourself where that fear came from.  Does your very survival depend on how you treat those “others”?

Or does your fear of the “others” provide value to those who capitalize on it?

If all that fear dissipates what happens to those who use fear to control?

They lose power.  And they fear that more than anything else.