ON Our Un-Civil War

Comments on the social media have become so inflammatory one wonders what has happened to civilized discourse. Most disturbing are those on the far right threatening civil war, essentially stating they have armaments and would not hesitate to attack fellow citizens in order to rule the country their way. On the opposite plain are the far left, answering that they also are armed and prepared to fight back. All this testosterone may sound strong, macho and “romantic”, but it also points out our ignorance of the ramifications of war. Good lord, we have seen the results of genocidal wars, religious wars, our own civil war….which, unfortunately,

American-Civil-War
Brother against brother in our Civil War

only those interested in history and how it affected the common person have a clue regarding the cost to our citizenry. War, to repeat a famous iteration, is hell. Children are killed, women are raped and killed, the so called soldiers seem to enjoy torturing those they capture, and your very nice, human neighbor becomes an inhumane killing machine.

The majority of our citizens, whether leaning left or right, want a pleasant life: housing, groceries, security, a good job, and the ability to assure their families are well cared for.

Mayhem during WWII
WWII death and destruction

After WWII we seemed to have learned the lesson of helping surviving states to rebuild and help their citizenry prosper, seeing that as a road to peace and a pleasant life for all world citizens.

Along the way there were many missteps, including the McCarthy witch hunts, unnecessary wars (or police actions), and ignoring the needs of our own underclasses. Nevertheless we made progress, finally separate but equal was addressed as the false equivalence it was, women were making incremental advances in the work force, females were given more control over their lives and their bodies.

As a young child I was taught civility, politeness and respect for others. I loved studying our history, good and bad.  I was aware of some of the arguably evil things our forefathers accomplished, but saw how those actions were balanced by moving forward toward more humane policies and better understanding of our neighbors, those on our block and those across the water.  After learning about the holocaust Holocaust Victimsand how thousands of innocent people suffered torture and brutal death it was hard to imagine how an entire nation could allow that.  The unimaginable is becoming more imaginable, and one can see the depth of the rot within. Over and over I have read or heard that our country could not, would not, be overturned by outside attack. We could only lose our freedom from forces within. Those inner forces are what turned Germany into the dark nation the world had to overcome, those same inner forces are evident today, dimming the light of our once bright land. I can only pray that Lady Liberty’s torch will one day be the brilliant symbol of hope that it once was.

Lady Liberty

“And how can we ever get back from this dark place? From this childish, binary way of engaging with and talking about those we disagree with? How do we live with those who have embraced this breakdown of civil society to such an extent they feel free – emboldened even – to express their racism and anti-Semitism, their misogyny and homophobia, their angry, righteous ignorance publicly and with impunity? I really grieve for what has been so carelessly and thoughtless thrown away. For all those carefully constructed bridges between people, communities, countries, ways of life and thought, which have been burned, or are about to be burned, down. So when I look to the future my question is; will it ever again be possible for us not to be angry all the time?”

From an article in The Irish Times

Eimear McBride is the author of A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing and The Lesser Bohemians. She has won the Goldsmiths Prize, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, Desmond Elliott Prize and James Tait Black Memorial Prizee.

The “Squad”

The media creates “a star”, the public embraces the concept, and here we go again. The news hawks realized after 2016 that there were many missteps in their coverage of our presidential election, not the least in giving Donald Trump a load of free advertising during the primaries while screaming about Secretary Clinton’s e-mails from day one until the final defeat of political norms and civil discourse. Many claimed to have learned their lesson and would take more care…not happening. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tugged at news people’s heartstrings when such a relatively inexperienced young woman unseated a long standing (male) democratic Representative. I was one of her applauders, happy for all the women who won, therefor upping the percentage of female representatives in Congress. She was lucky to be in a very blue district, which was not true of other freshmen elected on the Democratic ticket.  This made theirs a harder fight and a more tenuous seat to hold at the next go round.

So here she is, a freshman congresswoman meeting other freshmen for the first time. Lo and behold, she meets 3 women with like minds, and, similar to girls entering high school, forms an in group which she proudly calls the squad. All of that Four Freshmenis fine, if a bit girly and immature. Hopefully the squad will listen and learn?…not happening. Centrism is anathema to the squad, and best to bulldoze it to the ground immediately and force the house to bend to their agenda.

When I was in graduate school one of the lessons that came across loud and clear was “learn the norms, the boundaries, the rules first, then find out how far, in which direction, you can stretch them and carefully expand the territory”. Those who went in with a meat cleaver generally created a mess, kind of similar to what the Tea Party ended up accomplishing with the GOP!

Representative Ocasio-Cortez started her new job by misspeaking numerous times. Just one example is her statement that the constitution was amended to “make sure Roosevelt did not get re-elected”. The amendment was proposed and passed two years after Roosevelt died in office! There were other incorrect statements, they can be found in fact checks on line. To give her credit, after running for office with a somewhat anti Speaker Pelosi attitude, she did vote for her in the house vote. But somehow she then expected Speaker Pelosi to bend to the “squad’s” agenda and ignore the concerns of their peers who overturned (for the moment) solid red districts!

The Speaker has been accused, by members of the “squad”, of disrespecting them merely because she pointed out that they were only four votes out of 435 total members or 235 Democratic members. One of the insinuations indicated it was because they were women of color. Never mind the other House Members of color who have been there for years, never mind her backing Obama and his legislation, never mind she is from one of the most diverse cities in the country.

Trump was elected because his followers felt Washington was “broken” and not working for them, look what that has done to the country. You claim the four of you were elected in order to upend the broken system, tearing it apart and beginning again.  Shouldn’t repairing the system be the goal? If you cause chaos you are a mirror image of the Tea Party, and look what they have done to the GOP. Freshman are there to learn, offer ideas, stand up for their constituents, and mature into theirThe Squad important (but not dictatorial) roles. Power does corrupt, please don’t allow the heady elixir of being elevated to a seat in Congress cause the four of you to feel the House needs to follow blindly where you lead. You are not Trump, and Democrats do not subscribe to cults and dictators. Visualize your perfect solutions, by all means, but for all our sakes listen to experience, and learn how to move the lines in your direction without hurting your fellow members abilities to maintain the majority, and without causing total destruction of our society….that is apparently Mr. Donald Trump’s job!

On Bernie and Joe

I am an eighty year old female, which may give the “valiant warriors” among us  reason to pull up the witch word, or worse. Such is the depths to which our societal discourse  has fallen when it comes to politics. I am eighty and have voted from the day of my twenty first birthday…you read it right, in those ancient times a person could not vote until they turned twenty one.  Looking forward to 2020 I am approaching an election wherein I may abstain from voting.

For the life of this flawed, sometimes misguided and hurtful, nevertheless wonderful country, we have been guided and legislated by white, generally middle aged or older, male citizens.  At least partially because of the threat to this norm we became saddled flag hugwith a sexist, corrupt, clumsy bully who wishes to be our dictator in chief, instead of the highly qualified, empathetic and knowledgeable woman who ran against him. Fast forward to today.

Who are the front runners for the Democratic nomination next year? Two very old white males. Mind you, I have nothing against the elderly since that is now my community, but we are talking about a person who will have to make instantaneous, strategic and well thought out decisions in a world that has totally changed in the last three decades. Nor do I have anything against white men so long as they park their egos and patriarchal tendencies (not their fault, society’s) under wraps and out of sight. I do have a problem with such entities grasping at their last chance to catch that golden ring and move into the White House.

Take Joe Biden. A very nice man who has caused mirth as VP with his misspeak, caused uneasiness with his personal space invasion issues, has sympathies for pro-life advocates with past discussions and policy decisions attesting to that fact.  After affirming his bidenfeelings on abortion he suddenly switched those views the following day because of backlash. He is “evolving” and plans to change with the changing times and norms. As an octogenarian I say if he has not evolved by now he is not ready to be in a position to govern this wide and diverse country. We don’t need someone planning to change the habits of 70 odd years as he moves into the presidency, we need someone already attuned to the times. We don’t even need someone taking us back the way were, we need someone who will pull us out of the quagmire and move the country forward.

Then there is Bernie, who promises free everything at no cost to the average citizen. Promises, promises. Listen well to his rhetoric, he is in fact the left side’s version of Donald Trump. Not as corrupt perhaps, but rather hypocritical since he presents himself as the common man. This common man owns three houses, with his vacation home on Lake Champlain reported to be worth six hundred thousand big bucks. In Bernie-Sanders-San-Diego-14fighting against the extension of Bush era tax breaks he stated “how many homes can you own?”  Apparently at least three. His actual wealth was not generally known until his last run for the presidency, when he tried to explain away that it was his wife’s money (he is officially a millionaire, based upon book sales).  His knowledge of foreign policy has always been suspect. Yes, he has studied our foreign relationships recently in order to be prepared for this run, but it argues that his in depth knowledge is lacking to a large extent. Aside from the nuts and bolts, he is old. He is three years my junior, and would hit 80 before being sworn in.

Trump is in his seventies and sometimes I could swear he is either entering dementia or on drugs the way he presents himself, the things he says. Reagan was in his  seventies while in office and aside from multiple operations and a cancer scare, one could see the early signs of Alzheimer’s before his presidency ended just by watching him give speeches recorded for television. I can say that with certainty because my daughter and I discussed that very possibility every time he came on during his last term in office.  We do not need another old man trying to lead this nation and often being led by unelected persons whispering in his ear.

As an octogenarian I ride my horse and do barn chores every day, but I am also much 20190121_162717more tired than at a younger age, take naps, walk more slowly on bad days, and find I have to work harder at some tasks than previously. Granted my mind is still working decently, as are the minds of these old men. However, the responsibility of helping our vast nation through ongoing crisis and trying to get legislation passed through diverse groups with opposite agendas has proved draining to even our younger presidents.

“Uncle Joe” may be comforting to some, “feel the burn” Bernie may sound like a great future to others. Bear in mind that nothing is free, everything comes at a cost, and as the saying goes be careful what you wish for. Personally, I wish for a president who is smart, practical, knowledgeable, presents well to our allies and is a formidable force against our adversaries. I would also like to see that person be something other than a middle aged (or older), white male. Our country needs to move forward, not backward, in order to reach the greatness that Trump has stolen from us. If someone of that ilk is chosen as the Democratic nominee, I will happily vote and spend the night holding my breath and crossing my fingers that our beautiful country will have that chance to move forward and prosper. If we go with the old white men, this old lady will give up and let the chips fall without her. Let America rise again, and be the leader this world needs and for which it hungers.

On Politics Today

I am very close to giving up on my beloved country and finding a cave somewhere into which I can disappear. It has always been a given that there was an underground Mafia, some individuals were corrupt, occasionally employees would take a pen or note pad home from work.  No country is free of criminals, even murderers, all of which we try to control and adjudicate fairly in this country. But the United States has entered the brotherhood of autocracies. Our president is utilizing the office for his monetary gain, has a history of commerce with mafia types, and is, in essence, quietly condoning the gruesome murder of a US permanent resident, a journalist, by his friends the Saudis. After all, the journalist was not a citizen! Even worse, they are now attempting to turn that respected journalist into a terrorist in order to justify his murder.

We now have two members of the Supreme court who have, at the least, harassed young women in earlier years, and in the latest case proven his unfitness andKavanaugh disdain for others during his hearings. We had an individual run for office who controlled the voting apparatus in his state wiping thousands of voter registrations from the roles. We have conservative candidates running adds lying about their opponents in egregious manners, attempting to make them seem like part of a conspiracy to ruin the United States. Of course we are seeing names that are not quite “American” so they must be terrorists, right?

The atmosphere in our country is so broken and dark that some white citizens seem to feel it is appropriate to call the police whenever they see a person of color in “their” space…couldn’t possibly live in my nice apartment building, shouldn’t be talking in another language, doesn’t belong in this private club’s pool, wearing a hijab (oh my!) and on and on.

Today winning is the only goal, however it can be done. Cheat, lie, mock, encourage violence…and don’t try to push that on the dems, they are trying to do peaceful protests or just tell their (highly emotional) stories to those in the seats of power. It is the president who applauded a journalist being slammed to the ground, and now appears to be condoning murder of the most gruesome. But he and his cohorts are winning, andflag hug lording it over the majority of the citizenry who are dismayed, startled and appalled by the direction we are taking as a country. That, apparently, is all that matters, not the lives that are lost, the families that have been broken, and the individuals who have been hurt by the actions taken by our law makers and the policies of this administration.

It has been recently in the news that the separation of children from their families is still happening.  By leaving these children rudderless this administration is helping to create a generation of terrorists. How would you feel about a country that tore you away from your family as an infant, a toddler, or a pre-teen?

It is the administrations job to govern, alongside it’s equal partners the legislative and judicial branches. It is up to this governing body to make decisions on rules, regulations, policies, and how different departments operate. Any and all of those decisions will help some individuals, and hurt some individuals, that is the inevitability of choosing the road for a large population rather than one, or possibly a few, individuals. The trick is to help the majority of the citizenry while causing as little pain as possible to as few as possible.  Good governing also includes enabling those on the bottom to find a road up towards hope for a better life.  There are always compromises in life, why should there not be room for compromises in governing? There should be no room  in government however for corruption, hate, bigotry, or waging war against the fourth estate. We, the people, come in different colors, religions, ideology, genders, and life experiences. We all want a certain amount of safety, housing, nourishment, and, yes, entertainment. What the majority do not desire is our government becoming the entertainment and turning our leadership into a circus, or a reality show.

There are a few signs of hope and a dim light showing at the end of the tunnel.  The citizenry shouted their opinion at the mid-terms, more investigations are underway,constitution fragment and the GOP show signs of possible splits and disagreements on presidential over-reach. I am hopeful, but wary.  If there is no sea change in the near future the impact on myself will be minimal if at all.  My concern is for all of the children, the babies yet to make their entrance into the world. My concern is for the slow death of a country that grew through the vision of our forefathers, and the blood, sweat and tears of myriads of diverse inhabitants who fought together, fought each other, and ultimately helped save Europe and created a safety net for our citizenry. My concern is for the big globe we live on that still has a small contingent insisting it is a flat disc and too many believing the great expansion of the human footprint could not possibly be damaging to the earth. My future is in the past, when the time comes I will go “gentle into that good night” and grateful for the peace, but at the same time with a burning “rage, rage against the dying of the light” that once was the country I loved and will be leaving behind.

On Cheating to Win

During my growing years through the forties and fifties I was raised with the mantra do as I say, not as I do. This came from my father who was an inveterate cheater in so many ways. Family card and board games could be fun, but they included a scattering of Cheatsseemingly innocent incidents of cheating, almost as a male prerogative. They also were often stressful since it seemed that being the winner was the most important goal, and those who did not win were losers. He loved golf, and while I do not know if he cheated while playing the game, I do know when he played with my father-in-law,  who could play with the pros, he quit golf entirely. Being able to win was that important to him. Then there was the truly egregious cheating on my mother with other women. Once, during a family dinner, my father complained about the then governor of the state being involved in an affair.  This became too much for me, and I made some comment about people who did such things should not complain about others, which opened up a diatribe about the politicians needing to set the example and being better than the common man. This conversation was over 50 years ago, and here we are today with a far more egregious cheater than my father in charge of the destiny of our once great country.

Full disclosure, I did cheat once during my high school years. Ironically it was in a class I aced anyway. Looking for something in the class locker I happened on our test coming the following day. On a lark I read and memorized the questions, and ended up with a score of 100. This did not alarm the teacher, since I always was in the high 90s in history. CheaterI ended up regretting having read the test simply because it was wrong. There have been other temptations, when people do you wrong it seems okay to take something, say something, act in a way injurious to that person…except it truly is not okay because in many nuanced ways it will hurt you more than the person you attempt to hurt.  We should also always remember that cheating or bullying in order to win demeans not only the cheater/bully but anyone enabling that person.

We now have a body politic that believes constant lying, constant cheating,  power grabs will make them winners. If they cannot actually win then hamstringing those who are replacing them or their replacement choice is the next best thing, as witness the desire of one state’s legislative body to make the incoming Democratic Governor powerless. If the majority of citizens want health care (or Hillary Clinton), for instance, gerrymander the states, suppress the votes, to the point that the opposing party cannot win and let the minority rule. Cheat to win. Since when has our lovely USA turned into a win at any cost, let the populace stew and cry, let the scientific community dwindle and die, let the experts go unheard, kind of country?

Please give me a doctor, a dentist, a vet, a teacher who is a learned expert in their profession or field. Why should we want less in those entities who will be dealing with the world leaders? Handling our countries money? Making health or environmental policies that will affect all of our citizens? Sending our young people across the globe to fight our wars? Being educated and versed in the kind of tasks and communication required in any of those jobs should be a given.

It truly does not matter what high morals you believe in, or what deity you worship. What matters are the deeds you do, your attitude towards all other inhabitants of our ailing planet, and the actions you take to make our world a better place. I watched my father cheat to get what he wanted from life, I saw my mothers distress, I know the damage he did to my life. Now I am forced to watch our president take over one of our two main political parties, encourage cheating at all levels, making policies injurious to the very people who love him, and bullying his way through life over the bodies of anyone in his way. Sadly, it is not all on him.  The Republican Congress abdicated their job of acting as a check and balance to the president and making him accountable. Their mantra is the public and the opposition should follow moral and judicial laws but the Republicans have the right to cheat if necessary in order to win,  and they should have the ability to make the majority live as they decree.cheating in a duel

I have always heard “cheaters never prosper”, yet in my lifetime I have seen an abundance of cheaters who skate through life on the backs and lives of those they cheat. Is this how our once proud country sinks into the sea, or do we, the people, have the will and the stamina to fight for a kinder, gentler, more inclusive nation that illuminates those “thousand points of light?” Only time will tell.

 

 

 

On Our Loss of Decency

This is simply a rant with no graphics as they are difficult for my eighty year old mind! It is about our loss of decency, empathy and, yes, “kind hearts and gentle people”. One does not have to be Christian to adhere to those ideals, but Christians should be ahead of the line in those attributes if, indeed, they believe in Christ’s teachings. The internet has promoted our loss of civility, and the great uptick in crass and truly egregious, vindictive, vitriolic exchanges. I was taught in theatre classes that if you are having a problem getting angry enough for the character, pound on the desk, jump up and down, actions will help illuminate the feeling of anger. That is what is happening to our country.

That brings me to my sick stomach feeling at the moment. I cannot imagine that a huge auditorium of my fellow citizens would stand up and applaud the death of a war hero who had been imprisoned and tortured, lifetime public servant, who leaves a surviving family still grieving his passing. Trump had no problem eliciting that response at CPAC while feeling “the love” for him (and his bone spurs).

It was quite awful enough to see him with a really comical expression on his face denigrating our flag by hugging it and waiting for the applause. This is what all you people with flags flying from your vehicles like to see? Our forefathers would be disgusted, and rightly so! That flag has been tattered and torn with the winds of war, carried to other countries in the name of freedom, occasionally making mistakes in judgement, but always trying to be on the side of justice and equal opportunity. To treat it like a puppy you love so much you have to squeeze and squeeze…until it ceases to breathe… is an abomination (check out Lennie in Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck). It seems there is a large segment of our population (although not the majority) that is quite comfortable with our wonderful experiment in governance going the way of the Roman Empire. According to one historian on NPR it is a long, slow process, hardly noticeable as the norms and laws decay incrementally. One more reason I am happy to be leaving this earth within the next decade or two, I have no interest in seeing the kind of chaos the Roman Empire faced as the decay increased and politicians split the populace and created anger, hatred, suspicion…sound familiar?

I am not a historian, I do not claim expertise in politics or anything else. I do believe in civility, empathy, that dirty word compromise, ethics, and truthfulness. Our erstwhile leader fails on all of the above and has carried the once respected Republican party into his corrupt idea of “service to the country”. I will no longer lower myself to argue the fact that he lies, it is proven by listening to his own words…on tape! I will no longer argue his morals or ethics…he has had three wives and two mistresses (at least), and multiple contractors he has refused to pay. There is more, so much more, proven and known by the world, but hardly worth reiterating since many either believe he is a messenger from God or an arm of Satan. In actuality he is simply a highly flawed, self-indulgent human being who managed to sell his snake oil to a large segment of our voters and now seems to believe, and has convinced them, that he is the greatest president of all time.

I have news for him and all of his followers, not one president from our historic past…not one…would have encouraged their audience to applaud the death of a national hero with the kind of life Senator McCain lived and the service he rendered. He, too, was human and therefore flawed, as we all are, but he was brave, heroic and lived his life in service to this country. Be assured, Senator, that whether or not we agreed with all of your votes or actions, the vast majority of your beloved country honors your life and grieved your death. Rest in peace, and if it is possible pray for this beleaguered country you loved.

On One Nation Divisible

An article on the bombing attempts was recently shared to my page by a friend who is a Trump supporter. The comments were somewhat appalling, considering the subject. They ranged from cheering the bomber on, to snarky remarks regarding the wall around one of the victims domiciles. The latter comment was rather amusing, since I can look down any street where I live (semi rural and mixed lower to upper middle class} and see privacy walls in abundance. I have no quarrel with those who have different political leanings than myself, but I find my psyche in a fight between anger and sorrow that many in our society now believe it is “fun” to throw out crass comments and hate messages over a national emergency that could easily have turned into tragedy.tattered-flag

Do I scream or weep when people do not seem to care that a postal worker, a housekeeper, a nurse, or an apolitical bystander could have been killed? Does it matter that you did not agree with an ex-president, is that disagreement worthy of killing said president? He no longer holds power. Most ex-presidents from either party are working on projects to help the nation or the world. When the Republicans suffered an attack while playing baseball everyone was appalled and democrats reached out to their republican compatriots with sadness and compassion. When Gabby Gifford was shot the entire legislative body was hoping and praying for her survival. Today we cannot see past our red haze of hate. For what? Why do you hate so ferociously? What is happening.. TO YOU…that justifies such hatred for people you only know through the news and talk show bubbles? I cannot find such hate in myself. Disgust for some of the dialogue, yes. Dislike of the lying, of course. Uneasiness at the direction the politicians are taking us, absolutely. But hate? So much hate that I would feel gleeful at certain individuals death by violence? Sorry, that is not in my DNA.

Immediately following the realization that bombs were in the mail to Democrats the alt right theorized that the Democratic party was sending them to their own in order to anger their base. It turned out that the perpetrator was a middle aged white Republican male with a van covered in love Trump hate Dems posters. He was, according to some conspiracy wonks, a plant. The posters adorning the van were “obviously” new, and he was really a registered Democrat. Never mind that there are pictures of his van, covered in said posters, from last year. Never mind that there are videos of the alleged bomber at Trump rallies. Never mind all the hate posts they have found in his social media participation. Never mind that he is actually a registered Republican.

The truth is his party of choice, and/or his belief system, really is not the issue. There are some great Republicans who do not view the “loyal opposition” as enemies and want to work together. This is one man, who found someone he could agree with, who enjoyed common “enemies”, and his badly wired brain short circuited.

My daughter used to train aspiring equestriennes, she is still busy training our horses. Her mantra for both activities is balance. She has also been a trainer at her place of work, same message. Listen to motivational speakers, it is often about life balance. Our country is now in deep distress because we have lost the kind of balance necessary for politics, and society, to flourish in a positive way. I am unsure that we will ever find that balance again short of a war or depression so devastating that it wakes us up and brings people together. We are seeing an uptick in violence against the “other” unprecedented in recent history.

We are a diverse citizenry and that horse has left the barn, we will continue to be diverse which is not a tragedy, or even a negative for the country. If you can’t find it in yourself to embrace diversity and opposing ideas, please at least accept them. Non-acceptance leads to hate, hate leads to social media vitriol, vitriol…on line or from the White House…leads to angry, somewhat unhinged individuals taking  action in ways that lead to death and tragedy. In one week one such individual tried to assassinate the most visible Democrats, another tried to get into a black church to murder the congregation, and a third murdered members of the Jewish community. Please ask yourself, is this the kind of country you want to live in? Does this make America great? No, among other things, it makes America sad.

“Anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering”   Matthew Dowd (ABC Political Analyst)