Saturday, October 14, 2017

I Don't Think We're In Kansas Anymore, Toto.




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I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto. Our wee wizard behind the curtain seems to have picked up our entire country and transported it to Oz.

Here are some of the things that have disappeared during the Trump administration. Science. Truth. Empathy. Compromise. Equality for African Americans. Equality for Muslims. Equality for gays and transgenders. Equality for women. Equality for Hispanics (especially if they are Puerto Rican). Civility. Peace. Concern for the environment. The integrity of American elections. The First Amendment. Competence in government. Healthcare. Good free public education. Regulations in food, medicine, labor that made life safer and better for working Americans. 

Our president represents all the OZ characters - he lacks the brains of the Straw Man, the Heart of the Tin Man and the Courage of the Cowardly Lion. Corruption is rampant with cabinet and family members darting about on chartered jets hither, thither and yon while Trump himself bankrupts the secret service while making money for his resorts. Cabinet members built private $25,000 telephone booths in their office and make members of their staff go to the roof to put up a flag and take it down when they arrive and leave. Would you call those examples of the swamp? 

They want to privatize Indian reservations and national parks. They took away the regulation that prevents coal mines from shoving their hazardous tailings into creeks and rivers. Even his own party members worry that he has us on a path to world war III. The estimate is that if we ever got into a war with North Korea, 1,000,000 people would die on the first day! Your president (I don't claim him as mine) cheated his way into the White House with help from Russia and he still loves him some Putin. 

What a sad place we have come to. Someone tell me it's all a nightmare.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

One Thing In Common

Image result for donald trump                 Image result for harvey weinstein                     Image result for bill o'reilly



Image result for catholic priest             Image result for bill cosby              Image result for bill clinton

Donald Trump, Bill O'Reilly, Bill Cosby, Bill Clinton, a Catholic priest, Harvey Weinstein.

The latest case of a serial harasser is Harvey Weinstein and we're getting all twisted up about politics as we do about everything, even though politics has nothing to do with it. The right accuses the left and the media of not covering the story although it has been all over the print media and cable stations, including MSNBC, usually considered the most liberal network by conservatives.

Same thing with dear old Bill O'Reilly. The left said Fox and the right protected him and made excuses for him. In the end, both men lost their jobs.

Do you notice anything about these men? They are black and white, Democrat and Republican, religious and non-religious. What is it that they have in common? It's power.

There are a certain percentage of men who, given enough power, will harass and abuse women (and maybe children). I have no idea what that percentage is but is is significant. They are predators and they know how to make their stealthy way through the jungle of their professions though blackmail and intimidation.

Why don't the women tell sooner? Are you kidding me? Do you know what it feels like to be completely powerless before a powerful man who holds your future in his hands, especially when you are young and he's been through this same movie 1,000 time and knows all the right things to say and do? Want a career as an actress, better play ball with old Harv.

Do you know what kind of shit a woman gets who tells on an important man? She's accused of lying. She's called names like slut and tramp. She wanted it, don't you know? Do you know how much courage it took to be the first one to accuse Beloved Old Bill Cosby? Or a freaking president? Or a billionaire real estate developer? Or a cable news star? Or the moral arbiter of your church?

Why didn't other people tell if they knew what was going on? If you're going to call a rich, famous man a predator, you'd better make damn sure you have the goods on him. You can't simply go to the other honchos or the prosecutor and say, "I've heard rumors." They'd laugh you out the door.

Some people tell on themselves and we still don't want to listen. Trump told us in front of God and everybody that he was a serial assaulter but the very women who are now raising hell about Harvey Weinstein's victims not telling, chose to disbelieve Trump's own words as just boastful locker room talk. We knew and we elected him president so forgive me if I can excuse the women who think it is safer to shut the fuck up when they are dealing with a powerful man.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Blue Collar White Men Used To Be Tough

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This is usually a political blog but I have to take a break from Trump et al for a while. America in 2017 is just too depressing for constant consumption. I'm backing off on watching so much news and spending so much time on Facebook. When I was working, I had Sirius radio in my car and it was always on NASCAR or news programs. I cancelled it when I retired since I'm not in the car that much.

I listened to AM and FM for a while but yuck, their song choices are mostly awful and the reception fades in and out.

So finally I dug out some of my old CDs, some of which I haven't listened to for years. The first one I made because it brought back such good memories of my youth and included Beer Barrel Polka and Twelfth Street Rag.

As soon as I heard the rinky tink piano of Twelfth Street Rag, it took me back to the Logansport Eagles in the 50's when Big Tiny Little and his band played.  My family was a dancing family...all of them (they were also a gambling family and a drinking family). We'd go down to the Eagles on a Saturday night and there would usually be 20 or so of us - parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends. Everybody would dance with everybody. Mom's with boyfriends and uncles with us little girls. My two cousins and I were preteens then and that's where we learned to dance - dances like the Jitterbug and the Charleston. My Grammie always told us girls, "don't get hooked up with a man who won't dance."

That CD went on to play Elvis. He was us girls' first experience with having a crush on a movie star. (Before him, there was Kookie in 77 Sunset Strip but that wasn't quite so serious). We three saw Love Me Tender together at the Logansport State Theater. Besides the money for our ticket, the folks always gave us an extra 15 cents - a nickel for a Coke, a nickel for a bag of popcorn and a nickel for a candy bar. Sometimes, they popped for a chocolate soda at the Blue Front Drug Store afterwards.

The older generations in my family had it rough. During the depression my widowed grandmother got a job as a housekeeper but the lady of the house wouldn't let her bring her children so she gave over my two aunts (who were in the neighborhood of 10 or 11 years old) to a Catholic hospital. They worked in return for room and board and a small stipend. My Uncle Jim was about 6. They hid him in their bedroom and sneaked part of their food back to him.

Meanwhile my Dad, who was a teenager, took a train to Detroit and got a job in a steel mill. The men on the line were supposed to get bathroom breaks but when Dad asked the foreman for someone to take his place, the man poked him in the back with the cattle prod he carried and said, "piss in your pants, you son-of-a-bitch, there are 25,000 men waiting for your job". And Dad said there really were lines of men outside just hoping someone would collapse or get fired or simply walk away and leave an opening for them.

You know what though, I remember my whole family as being jolly. They'd play poker all night or roll back the rug and dance. There were often feuds going on. My Grandma's maiden name was Nussbaum and she said her family feuded too but they were so nibby about what was going on with the others, that someone would finally say, "I wonder what the Nussbaum schmact," which meant I wonder what the Nussbaum's are up to and their curiosity would drive them to resolve their difference.

There was no welfare back then and Grammie's iron-clad rule was that family's took care of their own. She kept a "kitty" in the pantry and everyone was supposed to donate whatever they could and when anyone found themselves "in a crack" as she called it, they were welcome to take some money out. Anyone who came into the family stayed - ex-husbands and wives, ex-fiances. Grammie incorporated them into the group. The more members the stronger was the unit, she thought.

They were gamblers in another way too. None of them ever stayed very long in one spot or in one job. They sold insurance or worked in machine shops or on the railroad or owned bars. They were always ready to leave what they had behind to head to California or Arizona or Florida to see what was going on there.

Hard lives or not, I don't remember that our fathers and uncles and brothers being part of the Angry White Man Syndrome like we have today. They didn't expect much from government. They pretty much took responsibility for themselves. If the steel mills closed in East Chicago, they went somewhere else and found another job.

The right-wing calls people like me snowflakes because we have compassion for others but I think it is them that are so delicate, they whine at the slightest sign of hardship. I get sick of hearing them.  That's why I'm listening to The Twelfth Street Rag instead of talk radio.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Go, Tom Brady!

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Well, hell, I guess I'm going to have to start watching the NFL in a show of support for football players taking a knee during the national anthem.

In the meantime, all the boycotters should switch their loyalty to NASCAR, several team owners having issued statements saying any driver who didn't stand during the anthem would be fired. Of course, since we have no black drivers in the Cup series, I guess no one minds too much. Except our most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Junior, who tweeted his support for the protesters. Dale is retiring this year and is rich as Croesus so he is probably the only driver rich enough and gutty enough and self-confident enough to jump into this controversy. Go, Dale!

One of the things I've heard people say about the protesters is that they are millionaire athletes so what do they have to protest about? And I can see how Trump and the Trumpsters would feel this way. In fact, the their attitude seems to be, "I've got mine, so screw you," so I guess it is difficult for them to understand that maybe the players care about those back in the neighborhood who haven't been so lucky. Those are the people who are stopped by the cops or beaten up or even killed for being black.

And no, I don't think all cops are bad. I worked for law enforcement for many years and I loved my deputies but some cops are bad. They're racist, they are violent. And the good cops often either cover for them or keep their mouths shut. And the legal system does the same. So do you really think the attitude black athletes should take is: "I got out, fuck you"?

And I've heard they should be grateful. Grateful for what? That we let them use their talent to succeed? Every superior athlete does the same: perseveres, works their butt off to get to the top and keeps fit to maintain their skill. They do what we all do. They use their ability in their profession and they get paid a lot because they can do something most people can't do.

I was a secretary, an excellent secretary, I think, but millions of people can be excellent secretaries. I never made a lot of money. Millions of people can't become quarterbacks so the select few are rewarded for it.

The arrogance of someone implying that these people should kiss our feet because we allowed them to succeed irritates the hell out of me.

And many conservatives accuse leftist protesters like Antifa and Black Lives Matter of being violent. That the part they hate, doancha know? If they would just peacefully protest and not loot and burn, it would all be fine (forgetting their own right-wing looters and burners, of course) but how much more peaceful can a protest be than taking a knee at a football game?

Since I've probably already made several of my friends mad, I guess I'll root for the Patriots and make them even madder. Tom Brady is pretty cute.












Monday, September 18, 2017

There's a Mountain Straight Ahead

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This is how I feel talking to Trump supporters. I say, "wow, look at that mountain right in front of us!" and they say, "what mountain. I don't see any mountain."

I'm flabbergasted. "Huh, it's right there ahead of us. If we keep going forward, we'll run right into it..

And they say, "nope, no mountain there."

"But its got trees partway up the sides and there snow is on the peak."

"You're spreading false news about a mountain that isn't there.

And at that point you might as well give up. They will never admit to the presence of a mountain.

I'm talking about a mountain of evidence, of course. Evidence regarding the myriad conflicts of interest that allow Trump to turn the White House into his own personal gravy train. The millions he makes off Mar-a-Lago (which doubled its membership fees from $100,000 to $200,000 when he became president). We pay him for the rooms, the food, the golf carts.the security, the travel. And he won't release his list of visitors even though, we the taxpayers are paying for them.

And his golf resort at Westminster. And Trump Tower and the way he parlays the Old Postal Hotel in Washington into the in place for politicians and diplomats who want to curry favor with the president.

And the mountain of evidence about the Trump campaign and administration that show he cheated on the American people with his paramour, Vladimir Putin. The hundreds of time they all lied about contacts with the Russians. Jared's meetings with a Russian banker. The meeting that they first said included only Jared, Don Jr, Paul Manafort and two Russians who only talked about Russian adoptions. Later, when the emails were released, it was made clear that it was the Trump three plus five Russians, all with connections to the Putin regime, and that the meeting was called to share dirt on Hillary in Russia's effort to help Trump win the election. - to which Don Jr responded: "I love it!"

And the evidence of hiring a foreign agent collecting money from several foreign entities as the National Security Adviser, then allowing  him to stay on for 16 days, attending classified meetings, after they'd been warned that he had been compromised by the Russians. (This is a situation the Vice-President lied  and lied about).

And the secret meeting in the Oval Office at which only a Russian photographer was present as Trump revealed classified information we'd received from Israel and called James Comey a nutjob.

And Trump's efforts to shut down the Russia investigation by first asking Comey to let it go and then, firing him when he wouldn't, even going so far as to admit his rationale on television.

I could pile up an actual mountain of paperwork describing all of Trump's transgressions but what good would it do. His supporters would look at it and say, "what mountain. I don't see any mountain."


Monday, September 11, 2017

United We Stand. Sure thing.

                            Image result for 911 memorial

I know this won't be a very popular attitude but to tell the truth, I'm a little sick of the way we wallow in 911 every year. Of course, I believe in honoring the courage and dedication we saw on that day and many days after but, honestly I think we took all the wrong lessons from the tragedy of 911. What is carved on this rock is all that needs to be remembered - United We Stand. That didn't last very long, did it? We hate each other more than we ever did before.

I have said practically from the beginning that 911 turned us into a nation of cowards. Yes, Al Qaida pulled off a coup because we weren't expecting it but it wasn't one they'd be likely to be able to repeat. We canceled our vacations and ran around looking for duct tape and our deputies here in my county were hired by to stand guard over our water system....in Wabash, Indiana! Yeah, I bet the terrorists had their plans all made to strike Wabash.

We went to war in Afghanistan and stayed even after we knew Bin Laden wasn't there and even after we knew Bin Laden was dead and 16 years later we are still there with no end in sight. We went to war in Iraq for no good reason that anyone but the Bush administration could ever explain. We were killed by the thousands and we killed many more thousands and there we still are.

We created an expensive and secretive new agency, the Department of Homeland Security, that can listen to our phone calls and read our e-mails and God knows what else. That agency sent us in Wabash semi-loads of hazmat suits and gloves and masks. They probably eventually went in the landfill. God knows, we never used them.

We upgraded Guantanamo 'cause, you know, we were too frightened to even have the terrorists in prison on our shores. Ooh, that was too scary. And there Gitmo still sits today, still being used although their record of military tribunals has been much less successful than civil courts as far as meting out punishment.

We tortured and engaged in extreme rendition. We call ourselves exceptional but Abu Ghraib will forever be a blot on our reputation for exceptionalism. We abandoned everything we once stood for out of fear. "We doan need no steenken' principles." Acts that were against international law that we huffed and puffed about when other countries performed them were suddenly not so bad because it was us, the United States, that had been attacked!

I think 911 led the way to a Trump presidency with his lies about seeing Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the towers coming down. And his paranoia about immigrants and his Muslim ban. His division of Americans into tribal groups. Look at Muslims with suspicion. They are probably terrorists. Look at Mexicans with suspicion. They are probably rapists. Look at African-Americans with suspicion. They are probably thugs. He even thought that one underhanded Black man sneaked in from Africa to become our president.

We forgot the most important thing we should have learned in 911 - United We Stand - and remembered all the things we should have forgot.






Thursday, August 24, 2017

Facing Rather Than Defacing the Truth

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I remember my Grandma telling us how her mother-in-law, Lutie, would order anyone to leave her house if they so much as mentioned Abraham Lincoln's name. Lutie came from a wealthy Virginia family and never reconciled herself to the outcome of the Civil War.  Grammie was from Illinois and some of her family fought on the Union side. We asked Grammie how she managed to get along with Lutie. She said, "I bit my tongue."

When I lived in Charleston, South Carolina, a grande dame from Boston took the tour of the city in a carriage. A grande dame of Charleston was her tour guide. The gentlewoman from Charleston referred to the Civil War as the War of Northern Aggression. The Boston matron took serious offense and demanded to be let out of the carriage immediately.

The two women carried on a scorching correspondence in letters to the editor of the Boston Globe and the Charleston News and Courier, respectively. It was rather amusing to us readers but they were dead serious. This would have been in the middle 70's but evidently attitudes hadn't changed much since my great-grandmother's day.

I was all about the south when I was a little girl. This was because I was a huge fan of the Little Colonel. She was my ideal. I read the Little Colonel books over an over and saw all the movies. (My other idol was Billy the Kid - I don't know what that combination says about me). When we moved from Indiana to California, I practiced speaking with a southern accent so I could tell everyone I was from Kentucky.

As I got older, my favorite state was Louisiana. I read every book that had ever been written with Louisiana as a backdrop. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I think I must have lived there once.

When I was young, I never gave much thought to the whys and wherefores of the Civil War. As far as I can recall, out history textbooks didn't dwell on it much. There was slavery; there was a war over it; the north won; the slaves were freed via the Emancipation Proclamation. Abraham Lincoln was a great president. End of story.

It wasn't until much later that I began to seriously think about the ugly brutality of slavery. In Charleston, we visited the old slave auction where human beings were bought and sold, families separated, carried off in chains. We visited the little wooden cabins in the slave quarters behind the magnificent plantation mansions. I think it was really only then, surrounded by the actuality of it,  that I had a visceral reaction to the horror that was slavery.

I still have mixed emotions about the statues and the Confederate flag and what they stood for. I don't think either statues or flag should be on any property owned by the government. It has to be bitter for African-Americans to have to support such galling reminders of our hateful history as it pertains to them.

On the other hand, I don't think they should be done away with completely either but instead used as teaching tools. Some of them are beautifully constructed as art works. Many of them were paid for by the Daughters of the Confederacy, not as defiant symbols but rather sad recognition of their lost loved ones. They should be accompanies by explanations, truthful explanation.

Germany is dead honest about the Holocaust. They don't try to sugar-coat what they did but rather they face it with stark honesty in hopes of preventing it from ever happening again by means of museums and pictures, artifacts and textbooks. I think we should do the same with slavery and the Civil War. You can do away with the symbols of history but that doesn't make it not have happened.

And while we're at it, we might acknowledge our genocide of Native Americans as well.