Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Scapegoating KellyAnne

Far be it from me to come to the defense of KellyAnne Conway as she finds herself in a major shitstorm over her sales pitch for Ivanka’s clothing line.  Conway is a mean bitch who hungers for power in a man’s world, and will tell any lie to prove her loyalty.  Her enthusiastic promotion for her boss’s daughter was just that, a stupid misstep in a world where she has been able to say anything without penalty.

But come on, is this really worth a headline in the New York Times?  Is this anything more than a quick laugh on a late night show?

After all, this has been the most corrupt presidency in the history of the country.  What we got when we elected a failing businessman and reality show star was a con man who proceeded to show us in no uncertain terms how he came to his wealth and fame.

This is the president who became, on January 20, his own landlord, violating federal law.  Where, at the Trump Hotel, he trades rooms for favors to world leaders at a profit.

This is the president who pretends to have separated his business affairs from affairs of state, while no one really believes he does not talk freely with daughter and sons about both.  And while the US government – read, your tax dollars – pay for Eric’s security detail when he travels abroad to develop more Trump enterprises, enterprises that now come with the US president's seal of approval.

This is the president who has just named his Mar-a-Lago Resort the “winter White House,” where he can hide from the press and public as he had when he was a private criminal and entitled to hide.  Where he has just doubled the resort’s initiation fees.  Where it is estimated that his weekend jaunts will cost taxpayers $3million.  And where he feels at home making his shady deals.

And Melania, who has wisely chosen to keep her distance from her husband’s swamp, will be staying at Trump Tower, a place she likes to call “home,” with son Barron.  The estimated cost to taxpayers:  $2 million/day.  Not to mention the disruption and cost to the City of New York and its other residents.

But let us not dwell on money.  Let’s talk security violations. Beginning with use of unsecured phones and right on to meeting at a public place with a foreign leader while they talked about security issues regarding North Korea’s latest blast.  Tweets about Ivanka and Nordstrom during a security briefing for gods’ sake.  Flagrant violations of security protocols by Trump and his cast of characters occur daily, so many that the press struggles to keep up with leaks, videos and selfies.

Wondering where all those Congress creeps who targeted Hillary Clinton for the same use of a private email server that had been done by her predecessors?  You know, the partisan witch hunt by Representative Jason Chaffetz, who vowed to impeach Clinton the day she became president.  And South Carolina’s own Trey Gowdy, who never knew when he was embarrassing himself over his obsession over Benghazi.  And by the way, I wonder if he has noticed the disastrous raid in Yemen, the one that was impulsively planned during dinner in an attempt to out-bin Laden our outgoing president.  The one that cost an American life and several others wounded, not to mention deaths and injury to innocent Yemenis.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and head weasel of the Senate Mitch McConnell have been pretty quiet as this third world dictator destroys our standing in the world.  Could it be because they are busy dismantling Americans’ social safety net and programs that would protect us from corporate greed?  Or maybe they are even relieved that the shitstorm is taking attention away from their dirty deeds, like setting up rules to make their ugly laws permanent, dismantling healthcare and environmental and financial protections while shoving through bills that would deny Americans their Constitutional freedoms.

I chuckled when I heard that Ryan gave his seal of approval to the firing of Michael Flynn.  I’ll bet he was nervously waiting for the news that the president had made his decision so he could publicly announce that it was a good one, whatever it was.  Of course he does not endorse any further investigation of ties to Russia because, well, gee, what you find under that rock might interfere with the victory party they are having in Congress.

But KellyAnne, she appears to be fair game.  It sounds like her head may be on the chopping block for her impulsive sales pitch for Ivanka.  Even Ivanka may be pissed off at her.  The “White House,” which I assume means Trump, is angry about it.  Some republican members of Congress may even be stirring out of their mid-orgy lethargy to speak out about “ethics violations.”

And this is where I wonder, like Elizabeth Warren who was last week told to sit down and shut up for insulting the eminent Jeff Sessions, if KellyAnne is fair game because she is the woman on the team.

Like Elizabeth Warren, KellyAnne is really, really smart.  Unlike Warren, she has absolutely no moral compass.  She will say anything about anyone if it suits her purpose.  And she is driven, not to do the right thing as is Warren, but to get ahead.

I am looking forward to all hell breaking loose if Trump decides to let her go.  It may be that fear of the wrath of KellyAnne may be her job security, but if he is advised that seeing her head roll is the way to distract from other far more severe breaches, I will be on the sidelines cheering her on.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Where Are the Democrats? - Special Election Edition

I've been wondering, as I often do these days, when the Democratic National Committee is going to get their act together and start helping out in the struggle to save democracy.  Actually, we really should be wondering when they are going to take charge, not just help out.

Look at the republicans.  They had a new chair weeks ago.  When there was a race for a Senate seat in December, both Pence and Trump showed up.  The Democratic Party was nowhere to be found.

They are still fighting among themselves to determine who should chair the damn party.  Progressives are squabbling over who is the more progressive.  They are even fighting over who failed the team by supporting Hillary.  Somewhere in the back of their minds, they must be aware that Trump is attacking the Constitution from one side while congressional republicans are ripping out the throat of our individual rights on the other.

Apparently, the battle for party chair is coming down to two contenders.  Keith Ellison has been in the US House of Representatives since 2007, and is backed by John Lewis, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  He truly is progressive, on the side of minorities, farmers, women, unions... need I go on?  On the other hand, and I really believe this is the elephant in the room (there is always an elephant in the room, striking fear into the hearts of Democrats and causing them to crawl back to the center), Ellison is not just African American but a Muslim.  Oh my gods.

On the other hand, Tom Perez, while also progressive, could be considered a safer minority.  He is also a safer Democrat, having come from the beloved Barack Obama's cabinet as Secretary of Labor.  He, too, checks off all the right boxes when it comes to his stand on issues.  But, again, this is my opinion, he might be less scary, being a Catholic and all.

Part of my frustration, besides Democrats who are afraid to be exposed for supporting a democratic agenda, is that Ellison threw his hat into the ring months before Perez.  We actually may have had a strong consensus candidate. Then, in mid-December, along comes Perez.  Because we couldn't just go with a strong national figure, get the election over with, and then proceed to fight the real war.

This election, that nobody but the Democratic Party gives a damn about, will be happening in two weeks.  But there is another, more important election coming up on April 18.

When Tom Price became the Trump cabinet deplorable running the HHS, he left vacant his seat in the House of Representatives for District 6, an Atlanta suburb.  This district, conservative and traditionally republican, voted for Romney in 2012 with a 24% margin.  But in 2016, the anti-Trump vote brought the lead to one percent:  48-47.

The strategically placed republican running for this seat is African American Trump surrogate Bruce LeVell.

That's right, the republican party chose LeVell hoping that black voters wouldn't notice that he is a Trump-man.  Well, that is the Trump campaign, isn't it?  Assuming African Americans would vote the color and ignore the racist policies behind the candidate.

But on the Democratic side is Jon Ossoff.  Jon has been fighting for justice and civil liberties throughout his professional life.  He has investigated and uncovered corruption and crime, and worked in national security as a senior staffer.  Jon has been protesting the unAmerican policies of the Trump administration...

...and he has the endorsement of Civil Rights leader John Lewis:

“Jon is committed to progress and justice and he knows how to fight the good fight. We should unite behind Jon and send a clear message that Donald Trump doesn’t represent our values.”

– Congressman John Lewis

I know those of us reading this blog care passionately about the travesties that the Trump administration is committing and the republicans in Congress who are aiding and abetting his crimes.  We understand that this election in Atlanta is critical, and not just in moving Congress closer to representing our values.  The turnout in this election will send a message to the rest of the country -- that we are here and we are fighting for them.  It will tell the republicans who are trammeling our democracy with abandon that they are, as Trump likes to put it, "on notice."

The Trump cabal knows this election is important.  I guarantee they will be throwing buckets of money into ads, and they will be showing up.

Our Democratic Party needs to be there.  We need their commitment, their money, their bodies, their voices.

Here in SC, we need US Representative Jim Clyburn to get out and shout with John Lewis.  And we need Jamie Harrison and our state Democratic Party to extend a hand to our partners and friends in Georgia.  This is not a time to be self-absorbed, to be concerned with the party.  America is watching.

And Democrats are marching, are writing, are going to town halls, are shouting.  This is truly the time for the party to stand up and lead, without fear.  Put a good Muslim progressive at the helm on February 23, and send out a real message of fearlessness and belief in our values to the rest of the country.  And then get out and fight like you mean it for Jon Ossoff on April 18.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Unstoppable Elizabeth Warren

As despised as the Affordable Care Act has been is the Consumer Financial Protection Agency .  And as despised as Obama for getting away with the ACA, Senator Elizabeth Warren is despised by Congressional republicans for taking on the powerful banks.  And when it comes to dastardly villains, hell bent on power and revenge, there is none like Mitch McConnell.  Oh, sure, he may duck into his shell whenever a controversy arises,

but when the coast is clear and he is surrounded by his own kind, he is a true leader.

Let us remember that it was Mitch who first stated his primary purpose after President Obama's 2008 election was to make him a one-term president.  He may have a weak chin, but he has balls that even Donald Trump must admire.  Under McConnell, republican senators have stood firmly on the right to oppose Obama's every act as president -- even when he was making a proposal that had been strongly endorsed, even suggested, by republicans.

Perhaps the most absurd act of obstruction by McConnell was last year's refusal to hear testimony on the nomination of Merrick Garland for Supreme Court Justice.  It was not only unprecedented and undemocratic, the rationale given for this militant act against the president's authority was ridiculous.  As everyone from pundits to legal experts to late night talk show hosts pointed out.

His outrageous gambit appears to have won.  We may soon have a supreme court justice that moves to the right of right-wingnut Antonin Scalia.

And now he has his sights on Elizabeth Warren.

It is easy to understand why he wants Warren neutralized.  She was the voice that led to the creation -- her creation -- of the Consumers Financial Protection Agency.  Following the Wall Street fiasco that led to the Great Recession, right wingers couldn't figure out fast enough how to stop the call for regulation and monitoring of Wall Street.  And Warren is smart and persistent.  She can't be outargued, and she won't be manipulated.  She thrives on challenges and attacks; she knows she has facts and the moral high ground on her side.

She also has the American people on her side.

And, as they used to say at Ronco,

When it was learned last year that Wells Fargo executives had pressured employees to set up millions of fake accounts in customers' names, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau pursued the complaints and fined Wells Fargo $185 million dollars.  During the Senate hearing, Elizabeth Warren told Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, 
"This is about accountability.  You should resign.  You should give back the money that you took while this scam was going on, and you should be criminally investigated."
The plot thickens, because Donald Trump in his effort to keep his swamp full to capacity, nominated Elaine Chao to be transportation secretary.  Elaine Chao, since 2011, has sat at the board of Wells Fargo.  And... wait for it... Elaine Chao is Mitch McConnell's wife.

So I guess we could say there is history here between Warren and McConnell.  Or we could say, follow the money and the special interests.

McConnell had a rare opportunity to really stick his foot in it two days ago, when Warren was on the floor speaking against the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be attorney general.  She was reading a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King to the Senate opposing Sessions' appointment to a federal judgeship.  Thinking this was the moment he had been waiting for, he had Warren stopped and told to sit down.  There was then a vote as to whether to rebuke Warren for "impugning" Sessions' character, which of course fell on party lines.

If you haven't already been immersed in this story, your head may be spinning, you may be saying "Wh-What???"  But it is true.  There is a rule -- Rule XIX -- that was created in 1902, back when Mitch McConnell was just a boy.  It came about because a couple of South Carolina senators engaged in fisticuffs on the floor of the Senate.  And -- this could only happen in Congress -- the rule does not just ban fights on the Senate floor, but any disparagement of a sitting Senator.  This odd and arcane rule has not been used in some forty years, and apparently did not apply when Ted Cruz accused Mitch McConnell of lying. So Warren's crime was that she read a letter stating that Jeff Sessions -- a racist -- is a racist.  And maybe that she is a woman.  A powerful woman.

(In a wonderful act of unity and defiance, a number of Democratic Senators, all male, took their turn to read the same letter for which Warren had been censured.)

More important, Mitch McConnell has once again put Warren front and center of the fight for honest government.  And she relishes that fight.  We can all scoff at the rule that allows unsavory senators like Jeff Sessions to hide the truth.  And we will.  We are fighting on the internet.  "Nevertheless, she persisted" has become yet another battle cry against the tyranny of Trump's right-wing.

And you can catch Elizabeth Warren on talk shows and on the internet spreading the good word.  Fighting for us all.

Thanks for the inspiration, Elizabeth.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Loving Boeing

Well, Valentine's Day is just around the corner.  And so is another union vote at the Boeing factory in North Charleston.  I know this because, in the way good ole employers have of helping us figure out how to think, Boeing has rolled out some shiny new ads.  Not only that, I saw them during Saturday Night Live, so I'm assuming they especially want to help all their young employees make this tough decision.  And at great expense, I might add.

Here in South Carolina, the people in charge don't want us to waste our money on unions.  Boeing explained that they are just the greatest place to work, they have good jobs with good pay and are just swell bosses.  In one of the ads a very nice looking older man named Scott Hibbs was playing the guitar, and then he told us what a great place Boeing is to work.  And at the end of that commercial, there was the following disclaimer:

The appearance of any individual employee in this video is not intended to, and does not, indicate whether that individual employee supports or opposes union representation.  Nothing in this video should suggest that any individual appearing therein holds a particular opinion either way regarding union representation.

So, in case you didn't stop the ad so you could read the fine print, Boeing wants you to know that that nice guy Scott Hibbs wasn't saying he was for or against unions.  If you didn't stop the ad, though, what you mostly saw was "VOTE NO."

I just have to ask myself why a smart employer like Boeing would decide to spend a whole lot of money just to tell its employers they shouldn't waste their money on union dues.  Of course, it did that last time the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers tried to get up a vote for the union.  With Nikki Haley's able pro-big-business, union-busting assistance, Boeing was able to generate enough animosity that the union had to postpone its vote.

Again, why?  If Boeing is such a swell employer, why would they even care if an employee was a union member?  In fact, there are some really great employers out there who are happy to have the union to mediate contracts.

It seems to me that I had heard at some point that Boeing was making employees work consecutive Saturdays.  It seemed that employees with families or even those who wanted to have a weekend off just had no choice.  Just like at McDonald's.

The other thing I heard is a bunch of those great jobs Haley bragged about when she gave Boeing all those tax incentives to come exploit our workers may not be as secure as we would have thought.  According to the Post & Courier, Boeing will be making "job and other financial cuts."  The way I think this might play out is that management might insinuate that joining a union might create an environment in which Boeing might have to let more people go.  And then after the vote they will let them go anyway.  Just sayin'.

In my many years, I've held a few union jobs, and a few non-union jobs.  Without doubt, the best pay and the best benefits came with union membership.  Which is really why Boeing is going to hard-sell their anti-union message.  Don't forget, they moved to South Carolina not just because Nikki Haley gave away the store to score political points getting them here, but also because they were able to take advantage of the absence of a union and pay lower wages than at their Seattle location.

Here in Charleston, the Chamber of Commerce and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance are spreading the anti-union word that a union at Boeing would be bad for Charleston.  Note that besides cheer-leading for Boeing and other big businesses and telling us that a "yes" vote could very well be bad for all of us, Chamber CEO Bryan Derreberry adds, "A 'no' vote doesn't guarantee continued growth in South Carolina."

So I would encourage anyone at Boeing who is wondering whether they should vote to unionize on February 15, don't ask the employer that holds all the cards whether they think you should have some of that control.  Ask a union member.

From time to time I have union members doing some work at my home:  AT&T, UPS and others.  They have all been proud union members.  They understand that whatever they pay in union dues, they get it back in job security, good wages, benefits, and working conditions.  A union means it is not each employee standing alone against management.  It means that management can't change the rules of the game without input from employees.

Boeing is spending a lot of money right now to convince its employees that they don't need to have that input.  "Trust us" may not be the argument you want to bank on. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sacrificing Women

I see that the New York Times has rated Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court as just a bit more conservative than Antonin Scalia.  That is no surprise.  This has been Trump's promise to his republican Congress all along.  This, along with his promise to unthinkingly sign any bill passed by Congress, has been the reason that all the jackals, from Paul Ryan, who is salivating over destroying health care, to Mike Pence, who is looking forward to overseeing the governance of every woman's vagina for the next four years.

Speaking of women's vaginas, it seems to me that now is the time to keep a close watch on Democrats in Congress.  Because whenever members of our party, like Chuck Schumer, want to appear reasonable, they tend to compromise our rights.  Especially our right to govern what happens inside our bodies.  And the right to do so privately.  For some reason, the right to abortion can always be manipulated and minimized in the name of bi-partisanship.

We have watched frustrated and helpless as the anti-abortion movement has obsessed and torn apart our right to medical privacy, our right to the best medical practice, our right to govern the path of our bodies and our lives.  The fact that the same group of radicals goes ballistic when there is any chance that a law might infringe on the right to carry a weapon of death anywhere they damn please despite all the proof of gun deaths never seems to enter into this debate.

Since our amazing march on tyranny on January 21, I have heard a couple of abortion obsessed women argue their outrage at their groups being excluded from participating in our march.  They believed in all the rights and freedoms we all were marching for, it seems, except the right to govern our bodies.  They couldn't understand why they were not welcome.  Apparently, being accepting of the rights of others does not include the rights of other women.

As we are beginning the debate about Neil Gorsuch, there are three really important points that we need to state, restate, repeat, and shout.

The first, which I just posted on my Facebook wall, is that Trump's nominee deserves the same consideration that President Obama's nominee received from Congress.  That is, none.  This country went a year without an appointment, without even a debate in Congress.  That after Obama made sure to nominate as inoffensive a candidate as possible.  Now, the same republicans will be whining and squawking about how the Democrats are not giving Trump the right to have his chosen candidate join the Supremes.  Convenient memories or alternative facts?  What it amounts to is this:  Obama had the constitutional right to appoint and have a hearing and a vote on his nominee, Merritt Garland.  Mitch McConnell chose not to allow that to happen.  Therefore, the current president does not have the right to have his nominee be heard.  Anticipating a victory by Hillary, republicans were talking about maybe never having that ninth justice.  So Garland or nobody would be the most reasonable argument.

Second, absolutely no Democrat should be willing to vote for a candidate who opposes women's reproductive freedom.  Absolutely not.  And I would like to remind our elected officials of the millions of women who marched for our freedoms in Washington and across the country just weeks ago.  We haven't gotten quiet, we can't be pacified, we are demanding our rights.  While Democrats scratch their heads over their continued failure to win Congress, they should consider what Bernie's run demonstrated:  they need to stop compromising.  "Hell no" won us the absolute worst (and most despised) Congress in our history.  Maybe people are looking for Democrats to take a stand this time around.

And finally, and please let us not forget this:  Donald Trump is an illegitimate president.  He won by lying, by using Russian hackers, through our own FBI manipulating a false case against Hillary, with states' derailing of voting rights.  He has failed to prove he has no ties to Russia, he has laughed at the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, he has breached security protocols and threatens our freedom of the press and our religious freedom.  We have already lost lives overseas by virtue of a careless military operation.  He is using our country as a means to further power and riches.  Our members of Congress should be demanding impeachment hearings with the same kind of energy with which they pursued Hillary Clinton for bogus cause.  Whether to hear Neil Gorsuch?  How about whether to bring forward impeachment hearings?

I have been left since January 20 with my mouth hanging open, appalled, outraged, disbelieving.  But that should not be so.  We knew what Trump wanted.  We knew what the leaders in Congress wanted.  They have done what Trump always does.  This has been the art of the dirty deal.  And it has to stop.

Women are going to dictate the path of this presidency.  So Democrats need to understand we are watching this Supreme Court battle, and we will not be sacrificed this time.

Rep. Barbara Lee has just introduced in the US House of Representatives the EACH Woman Act, which would lift bans like the Hyde Amendment that restrict women's right to abortion.  We are marching.  We are speaking up.  Now is the time to fight, not for some rights to some types of abortion for some women, but for the right of all women to have access to this procedure.  Let your members of Congress, let your state representatives, let all elected officials know that they will not be allowed to trample on women's rights any more.  Beginning with NO to Neil Gorsuch and YES to the EACH Woman Act.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Searching for the Democratic Party

If you haven't thrown your hat in the ring for the position of Chair of the Democratic Party, apparently it is not too late.  Yesterday I saw yet another candidate being interviewed on MSNBC and I yelled at the television, "And who the hell are YOU?"

While puppet Donald Trump is turning our government over to Vladimir Putin and Steve Bannon, while Americans are protesting the horrors of the promised anti-immigration decrees, our Democratic Party is still debating who will run it.

You may not recall that in Florida, the National Democratic Party last year chose not to waste its time throwing support behind Patrick Murphy, even though Marco Rubio had been scalded during his run for president, and Murphy was a solid candidate.  Had they put some energy into that campaign, it might have given us another senator; it might also have helped Hillary win Florida.  Just sayin'.

Then, after the election, when the country was shocked at the "victory" of Donald Trump and looking for a way out, the Democrats were nowhere to be found in Louisiana's December runoff for Senate between republican John Kennedy and Democrat Foster Campbell.  Unlike a game of Where's Waldo? the Democratic Party wasn't even hiding in the crowd; meanwhile both Trump and Pence were out stumping for what was pretty much an assured win.  Here's the thing:  it may not have resulted in a win for Campbell, but it would have proven that the Democratic Party wasn't going down without a fight.  BECAUSE IT WAS JUST THAT IMPORTANT.

And in Georgia, we now have Rep. Tom Price who is likely to be confirmed for Secretary of Health and Human Services on Tuesday.  Two issues here:  Price is an animal.  He is a physician who wants physicians and pharmaceutical companies to be able to set prices for services under Medicare until, that is, he takes down Medicare.  And by the way, he is determined to rid us of the Affordable Care Act once and for all.  With Donald Trump's blessing he will fulfill the dream of Speaker Paul Ryan.  Number two is that he is leaving an opening on the House of Representatives.

In a district where Donald Trump won by only one percent, there will be a special election for a House seat.

As a Democrat I can barely conceal my excitement.  This is an opportunity we surely can't pass up.  Can we?

At a time in our country when Americans are more dissatisfied and suspicious of their president then they have been since the end of the Nixon years, and for good reason, the Democratic Party should be front and center of this fight.  Instead, I heard one Democrat saying that the people were taking care of things with their protests.  WHAT???

Democrats RIGHT NOW have the opportunity to save the country.  They should be educating and confronting the media constantly about the freedoms that are at stake in the abomination that is called the Trump administration.  There should not be a day when there is not a pronouncement by members of the Democratic Party in our major newspapers and our nightly news.

This is not a time to try to appear reasonable.  There are enough reasons for outrage over the actions of this illegitimate president.  The author of that uncompromising assessment, John Lewis, is a true leader of the party and the country.  But after his comments about Trump's legitimacy, he was invited to meet with Trump.  As he answered questions about that upcoming meeting, I was horrified to hear caution instead of outrage, if not actual walking back, a measured, "we'll see."  Which, by the way, is how the Trump power game works.

I don't believe I have ever had a criticism about Elizabeth Warren, until now.  Apparently, being incompetent is not a reason for a no vote for a cabinet position.  She defended her vote for idiot savant Ben Carson in something that sounded like, "at least he hasn't said he wants to get rid of the department he has been appointed to lead."  She didn't actually say that, but I am hearing what I've never heard from Warren, compromise and a willingness to accept the low bar of the Trump administration.

Again, to all the Democrats that are trying to appear reasonable by voting for Trump appointees that are not total Nazis:  it is not about whether they could be trusted to not destroy the department they will be heading.  It is not even about competence.  It is about the fact that they are being appointed by a president who is indeed illegitimate.

At this time, Democrats should be refusing to cooperate with republicans until there is "extreme vetting" of this clown president and his minions.  Steve Bannon is now running the Oval Office.  And in the latest move to privatize and take over the White House, Trump has given Bannon the power to reorganize the National Security Council.  The first of these measures will be to remove the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, among others, from NSC meetings. The excuses given are the intention to reduce the bloated council and to free up principals' time.  We can also look at it as the logical conclusion by a man who gets bored at Daily Briefings.  But this actually represents the consolidating of control of Trump's White House under Steve Bannon, the brains behind the bully.  And the exclusion of any members of the security team that might present arguments or opposing views.  Or who might feel the need to inform members of Congress or the American people when something is going very wrong.

Democrats, it is absurd that you are still fighting over control of the party when our democratic process is being dismantled.  Now is the time to get in the face of the republican Congress and challenge them to investigate -- immediately -- if not impeach -- Trump.  This is the time to hound the media constantly about what is going on behind closed doors.

Members of Congress have taken to leaving their mailboxes full and sneaking away from angry constituents.  Bernie Sanders, who is no longer a Democrat but an Independent, has sent out the following message:

If you're getting a full voice mailbox when calling your senator or congressman, Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to know about it. His office is tracking these, as it appears that some of these full mailboxes remain that way intentionally. Reach his D.C. office at 202-224-5141.

Why are the Democrats not all over this?  Perhaps it is because they are still spinning over what is wrong with the Party?  Let me suggest that this, in fact, is the answer.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Save Yourself!

I am proud to be part of a group of the most empathic, caring, generous people in the country.  They are my friends and my political allies.  They have been on guard with me since November 9 as our country became a radical, right-wing dictatorship run by a madman.

We have put aside our personal pleasures and responsibilities to try to slow the tide of hatred and power mongering that has completely altered our country's path in just one short week.  We worry, we have trouble sleeping, we feel anxiety and outright fear for ourselves, our loved ones, and those who are more vulnerable than we are.

From time to time, we enjoy the feeling of unity that comes when we march, when we speak out, when those of us who are on the inside of this now closed group of leaders leak information about those who hold the power, when those with voices more powerful than ours speak publicly.

But then we return to the reality of the rights that are being taken away from us all every day -- every moment -- of this corrupt presidency.  We have seen a Congress that has blocked progress for eight years and has salivated at the thought of complete control jump into lawmaking with a vengeance, and stand silent as the appointed leader of the country makes insane claims followed by bizarre and totally undemocratic executive orders.  He damaged our country's image and stoked fear throughout America and the world before he took office; since then he has confirmed our worst fears.

Yet we continue to reach out to each other as we attempt to persuade our leaders to stop this insanity, all the while trying to ease the fears of our children and calm our own anxieties.

What we need right now is to learn ways to survive this nightmare.  We need to regain our faith in ourselves, we need to find again some joy in our lives.

In December, overwhelmed, I went incommunicado for two weeks.  Up until then I hadn't been able to turn off the news; I woke in the middle of the night with obsessive thoughts of what was happening to our country; it had been difficult for this voracious reader to sit and read with pleasure or even concentration.  Those two weeks may not have changed reality, but they brought me back to myself.

As we try to fight what may be the greatest evil we have seen in our country's short history and in our even shorter lives, we need to walk away from time to time.  We need to shift our perspectives and rethink our goals.  Here are a few ways to accomplish that.

Let's all accept that we cannot fight all the battles.  We can support all the groups that are under attack without signing every petition and reading every link we are sent.

Take some time to focus on what is most important to you.  If you are most worried about Trump's immigration decrees, stay on top of that and make it the focus of your energies.

Learn what you can about what is happening in the areas you are most concerned about.  And let others know what you learn.

Unite.  Don't stay home and worry.  Use social media, form lunch groups, get together and protest.

Play to your strengths.  If what you do (what I do) is write, then write:  blog, email, letters to the editor, letters to congress.  If you find it easier to call, call your local TV station, call your representatives.  When you can't reach the White House comment line, follow Bernie Sanders' direction and contact one of Trump's hotels.  If you like the idea of confronting your member of congress face to face, do it, and if you can, do it with a friend or a group.  Don't get angry at yourself for not doing it all.

On the other hand, try something new.  I went on my first march since 1969 last week, thanks to the invitation and urging of a good friend in Maryland.  Others have described that wonderful experience far better than I could.  In short, it gave me energy and hope.  Phone calls may not be as difficult as you think.  I have learned in the past couple of years that it is far easier to talk to politicians than I once feared.  Do it, and whether you decide to do it again or not, feel good about it.

Reaffirm your family and friends.  It may take energy you don't think you have to make that phone call or go to a movie.  Don't think too much about it; just pick up the phone or put on your coat and do it.  If you are concerned about someone who seems to have become more isolated, reach out.  Call, email, get together.  And next week, do it again.

For gods' sake, remember how to laugh.  When I am close to the edge, humor is what brings me back to life.  We owe a debt to our country's comedians, from Alec Baldwin to John Oliver to the great Samantha Bee.  But we also need to laugh with our family and friends.  Silly things are still happening.  And our government is now funnier than it has ever been.  Minimize the power it has over you by laughing at the ignorance.  The Orwellian creepiness of "alternative facts" was diffused not just because it was wrong, but because it was hysterically funny.  As funny as KellyAnne's inauguration dress.

And, by the way, since KellyAnne told us about those "alternative facts," Orwell's 1984 is back on the best-seller list.  And since Trump went all ballistic on the media that day after the inauguration, even people like Chuck Todd (not my idea of an objective and righteous reporter) finally confronted the newspeak we have been hearing from Trump and his minions for two years.

Which brings me to my last thought.  We need to hold on to what is right and good.  The things that make us smile and laugh.  By all means talk to your kids about the things that are going on that are wrong, but make sure to step away from it all and play a game or watch a movie.  Have a glass of wine with friends and get silly.

They can't take that away from me.

Speaking of which, watch some Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers.

Or go out dancing.

And if there is anything that will put this shitshow in perspective, it is a few words of wisdom from Monty Python.

Writing this has picked me up a bit.  I hope it helps you as well.  We need to be there for each other, and we need to remember why this fight is so important.

America has been in some bad places in the past, and we have come back and gone forward, as recently as 2008.  We may not have wanted to fight those fights again, but here we are, and we aren't going to back down.  And whenever we can, we are going to enjoy this fight, and especially the victories.