Tuesday, January 19, 2021

One Last Day

It's been four full years since he started talking about American carnage.  

That's all it took to bring our democracy perilously close to its knees.  Members of Congress did not vote to certify the election of the next President of the United States.  One of those votes they wanted to discount was mine.  

I take umbrage with this.  

I've always been willing to do some of the heavy lifting required to maintain our democratic norms.  I've protested and voted and written and recruited and advocated and made my presence and my opinions known.  Nobody elected by someone in Nebraska has the right to say that my vote does not matter.  I've done the work (and even if I hadn't); I get to speak 

Of course, by saying that I am assuming that we are dealing with the same set of facts.  Living here in the real world, I often forget that there are a disturbingly large number of individuals who barely believe that the earth is round.  

And, they get to vote.  Some of them get to vote in Congress.  

And then there are the Jamie Raskins of the world, who are unwilling to lose our republic and who are willing to put personal grief aside to work toward that end.  That's where I'm focusing my energy today, on the content of his character to stiffen my spine and strengthen my resolve to keep the pressure on, to hold those responsible accountable for their actions, to do what I can to insure than this will not happen again.

That's a fitting way to spend the last day of the worst presidency in our history.

Monday, January 18, 2021

MLK

My children memorized I Have a Dream the way my classmates and I memorized The Gettysburg Address.  

They are both passionate defenses of the American dream - one nation, with liberty and justice for all.  That's the dream.  It's never been realized, though every once in a while our better natures shine through and we do something right.  

It's never been tried across such a large, heterogenous conglomeration of individual fiefdoms - religious, cultural, political, economic bubbles refusing to share or bump into one another without a confrontation.  It's never been easy, or conflict free.  

In the Spring of 1970 we drove from Ithaca, NY to Washington, DC for the Mobilization Against the War.  We passed cars filled with people our age, who looked like us, who shared peace signs through the windows as we journeyed together, part of a caravan of young people who were part of a movement that followed Dr. King's notion of peaceful protest.

We had bandanas to protect our faces from tear gas.  We stayed away from the center of things, avoiding arrest by listening when the police told us that wading in the fountain bordering the FTC building was frowned upon.  Thousands of protestors were herded into RFK Stadium, some held for days, some charged, some released without paperwork being filed.  

I don't remember anyone arrested for a gun violation.... and we were protesting a war.

The images on the Edmund Pettis Bridge are shocking not only for the brutality, but for the non-violent reaction of those being beaten and hosed and bitten by dogs.  It's hard to call them instigators or agitators.  

It's a shame that the right wingnuts who stormed the Capitol don't believe in facts or pay much attention to history.  If they did, they might have learned something.  Equally terrifying would have been a weeks long silent sit in, surrounding the Capitol, allowing access but forcing the Congress to pass by and notice that there was something amiss.

Instead, they are being turned in by relatives who are furious, who have been waiting for the chance to stop their own personal connection to the madness.  And madness it is.  It's the same fight we've been waging since the Founding Fathers kicked the can down the road, forcing the country to deal with slavery and race and opportunity and advantage over and over and over again.

Was there a better way?  Did they hope that we would have evolved to the point where the solution would be obvious?  We'll never know.  

What I do know is that this democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.  Lauren Boebert and Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley may try to besmirch it, but, thus far, they have been held at bay.

I'm going to go around judging people by the content of their character today.

Friday, January 15, 2021

To My Grandchildren, Part Two

I feel marginally safer right now, although the country still feels like it's going to hell in a handbasket.  Order was restored, the people's business is receiving attention, and it looks as if the information that was provided to those who were responsible for the safety of Congress was accurate and timely.

Why there was such a lapse between insurrection and control remains an open issue.  So many balls were dropped.  So many calls were not taken.  So many helping hands were refused.  It will take a while to sort it all out, but I have confidence that the work will get done.

Why? Because now that the shooting has stopped what's left is the fear, and fear is a great motivator.  
Staffs are threatening mass resignations if something is not done - and that something includes voting to impeach the instigator in chief.

There are 10 Republican members of the House of Representatives who voted with all the Democrats.  Only 10.  Of the rest, many say they are afraid for their lives and the lives of their families if they vote to impeach.  

Remember that oath, the one about protecting and defending the Constitution?  Did they think that meant only when it wasn't scary to do so?  

The political machinations are ongoing.  Joe Biden will be sworn in before another week passes.  There is a massive military buildup prior to the inauguration, an inauguration that very few will attend, given COVID and security and the fact that it's January in Washington DC and likely to be really cold, and the world moves on.

I just didn't want you to have to worry too much about me right now.  It feels as if our institutions have held, for now, and that's information I wanted you to have.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Peace

There's nothing I can say that you don't expect me to say. I need to vent and this is my forum so I'll apologize in advance if this is old news or the same-old-same-old.  It's weighing on my chest and my brain and my heart.  I have to get it out

There are conspirators amongst our elected officials, giving tours to terrorists.

Two impeachments in one term, both foreign and domestic, just like the enemies he was sworn to protect us from..... and don't get me started on the virus, which has slipped from our consciousness as the numbers rise and vaccine distribution remains a mystery to all but a privileged few... and they don't seem to want to share.

I could go on, but why?  I feel better having typed just that much.

I'd really like to post about the unexpected bounty of late season tomatoes off a plant that's three years old, some popped warm from the sun into my mouth, the rest nestled comfortably in the pocket of the softest sweater I've ever owned.
I took that thought into the kitchen, trying to hold on to the warmth in my soul, when I turned around and saw this:
And so the sun sets on a dinner prepared by Big Cuter, leaving me in peace until Rachel and Anderson started reminding me of the reality of the day......... sigh.....  just a few more days........
Until then, I wish you as much peace as is reasonable to expect.  
I'm aiming for that, myself.

 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

It Was There - We Didn't See It

In the early 2000's Big Cuter walked down the Capitol steps, fuming.  He phoned home from those steps, bemoaning the fact that his interview in the office of  Republican Representative Darryl Issa had devolved into a How could you have worked for this radical leftist last summer (San Francisco Supervisor Mark Leno) rather than an exploration of what he could offer this man's constituents. 

He went in for a job interview and found himself skewered on the spit of partisan politics.  It was surprising, odd, out of the ordinary, not at all what he (or his parents or the mutual friend who arranged the meeting) thought would happen.  

"He didn't listen, Mom.  He just kept shoving more and more paper in front of me, trying to prove his point."

We didn't recognize it then, but in retrospect it seems like a very early and very clear sign of the American divide.  I'm right, you're wrong, and there's nothing we can gain by sharing a space.  

It's frightening.  

I have a dear friend on the other side of the political spectrum.  We disagree about everything except kindness and respect.  As she often says, "I'm a Republican.  I'm not crazy."  

I yearn for the days when that statement was not met with skepticism, when it was acceptable for people of good will and kind hearts to be members of the GOP.   I wonder when those days were.  They obviously weren't there when my kid wanted to do constituent service for all the voters, not just the ones whose views aligned with Issa's.  

This is America.  Maybe it's always been 74 million Americans looking for a cult leader to show them the way to the Promised Land.  It certainly was this American at the dawn of the century in an office in the Capitol.  My son was there.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Sad

I started out scared, went through fury, and now I'm just sad.  Anybody else out there feeling that way, too?  

It's hard to tell from the talking heads or the letters to the editor or the articles online and in the paper (yes, the hard copy, newsprint all over my fingers, actual newspaper.  I'll do anything I can to support local journalism.).

I see "leaders" inciting violence and no armed, shielded, baton wielding law enforcement officers holding them in place.  I see one Capitol policeman luring a mob of white guys up the stairs and away from the open door to the Senate floor and I cry.... for his bravery, for his quick thinking, and for the sheer awfulness of these thugs roaming the people's halls.

For they are our halls.  They embody everything that's wonderful about this country, everything that my parents drilled into my head with almost yearly visits to DC, to our Senator's office (so Daddooooo could thank Mr. D'Amato for the skating rink and fishing pier and swimming pool he funded and named for himself).  The doors were open - to the building, to the hallways, to the Senator's office itself.

It didn't seem foolish or unsafe or unusual to me.  Not then, not now.  Our open democracy made me happy, made me feel as important as the people behind the desks, made it obvious that we were all in this together.

We.  

We, the people. 

Does America have a We now?  It used to be that We could at least agree on some facts.  

Mr. Trump (I agree with Michael McFaul that the orange menace has lost the right to the title) has done that in.  Lawmakers who don't live or vote in my state took the stage to demand that my vote be uncounted, thrown out, discarded, based on lies and misrepresentation of the facts.  

The Arizona legislature's contribution to this situation, Mark Finchem, represents the District just north of us.  The proximity makes my skin crawl.  Our State Rep,  Dr. Randy Friese, was called to service after a right wing wingnut opened fire on our US Representative.  He saw guns and violence and incivility as issues to be addressed through governing.

He did not opt to raise an impromptu army and storm the Capitol

Driving home from the bagel store  (one of the two establishments I allow myself to enter these days) I decided to avoid NPR and more angst.  I switched to KXCI, our community station, and smiled... the first one in a long while.  I turned the volume way up and sang along, loudly, lustily, with feeling, lots and lots of feeling, to this
 the Brockington Ensemble's rendition of God Bless America.

Try it..... we're all isolated and no one can hear you... and if someone can, perhaps they'll join in.  

Monday, January 11, 2021

To My Grandchildren

Jan 10, 2021 (the weekend after the Capitol was breached)

It's important that you know how it feels to be alive right now, in the midst of an insurrection, the first battle of which was fought in our Capitol - inside the actual building - on January 6, 2021.   Right now, domestic terrorists are mobilizing for another battle on January 17th, and another on Inauguration Day, January 20th.

Why, you may wonder, would the insurgents announce their plans in advance?  It seems kind of silly.  If the people in charge know you are coming, won't they be prepared to rebuff you, to repel you, to arrest and imprison you for violating the laws of the land?  But these terrorists knew that the main man in charge was on their side.  They could see no security presence, the way BLM marchers saw it when a photo op seemed the correct response to a nation in pain.

They were unprepared.  They were absent.  I couldn't understand it.

I kept saying, "Where are the police?"  (Okay, I was screaming..... until Grampa told me to tone it down..... he agreed, but I was hurting his ears.) 

It was impossible (for me, at least) to conjure up any scenario that did not include an immediate police presence once those sworn to serve and protect noticed that thousands of lunatics were racing up the Capitol steps.  It was hard to watch those in charge of safety and security allowing this to go on without mounting a response.   

The National Guards of neighboring states could have been called up by the sitting president, but he and his family were having fun watching the show on television. 

No, that is not what he should have been doing.  

Nor should he have called them patriots.  

Nor should he have said that we love you.  

The hole this created in my heart is expanding, days later.  The American Presidency is a sacred space and this man is defiling it.  His supporters are trying to make this about free speech (the social media platforms that pandered to his excesses finally permanently banned him) and unity and reconciliation, but I'm not interested in that.

I and those who agree with me have been in pain for four years.  We never staged a coup.

These are not patriots.  They and he are fomenting and participating in a civil war.  The flag of the secessionist states was carried up the stairway and flew in the United States' Capitol.  The more video we watched the more terrified I became.  These and their ilk showed up on the steps of the Michigan state capital, with no consequences.  They plotted to kidnap and kill a governor.  They left bombs in their wake on Wednesday.

I feel no desire or need or compulsion or sense of duty pushing me to accepting these folk back into the fold.  They must be identified and punished, not, as they were, escorted peacefully out the door.  Behaviors have consequences; your parents taught you that when you were very small.  If there are no consequences for these actions then what will stop them from happening again and again and again.

If you drew on the wallpaper and no one cared, how many unadorned spaces would there be in your house right now?  If your parents said no more cookies but watched you put them in your mouth, how long would it take for your siblings to join your fun?  

Allowing this to stand without repercussions can only harm our democracy.

The Capitol Steps..... the phrase itself has majesty and dignity. A reporter holds a microphone and says "I'm standing on the steps of our nation's capital" and I get a little frisson of connection to our Republic.  It's the home of democracy in action.   It's unruly and amusing and ponderous but it's often profound.  Barbara Jordan speaking at Richard Nixon's impeachment is an example of that.

There are those who say that impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment are not necessary; the man leaves the building in a few days.  

There are those of us who remember Hugo Chavez, who was removed then ran again and won and then created a dictatorship. There are those of us who believe that you don't hand a 4 year old the nuclear codes.  There are those of us who think that inciting insurrection must have been somewhere in the framers' minds when they wrote about removing an unfit person from the highest office in the land, and who are absolutely horrified that any elected official could disagree.

And I am so sad, so despondent, so disheartened when I hear members of the Congress finding room to wiggle away from doing their duty.

Yet they do, despite the fact that they swore an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.  I took that oath, solemnly and seriously, twenty some years ago, on the local level, in a job that served less than 15,000 souls.  The fact that men and women who have risen to the highest ranks of our governance can be so cavalier with the truth, with their responsibilities, with their obligations to you and your children and your grandchildren.... well, that just makes me want to....

yell

cry

tremble with fear.

And then I remember that this is a democracy.  My voice can and should be heard.  So I will call my representatives.  I'll write a letter to the editor of the local paper.  I'll call out those who equate terrorism with protest. I will not be silent.  I will not let them win.... not without knowing how I stand.

Actions like these will make me marginally less anxious.  I'm still very worried.  The political ramifications are just beginning to be played out.  Tomorrow is Monday.  I don't know how I'll feel then.

Friday, January 8, 2021

I Thought I Was Done With This

I am unprepared for the full onslaught of Trump-is-the-President angst I thought I'd put behind me.  I was used to breathing freely, confident that change was possible.  With control of the Senate, real progress was on the horizon.

I was a happy girl.
*****
I can't believe it took anyone this long to realize that he's not going to get any better, that as the time comes for that-which-is-untenable-for-his-brain-to-comprehend, he will explode or implode and the rest of us will pay the price for a long long time.
*****
Susan Collins was right - he learned the same lesson from his impeachment that he learned every time Daddy bailed him out, or he sued his foes into submission.  There are no consequences when you are Donald J Trump.  
*****
Cabinet members are resigning and leaving us with this mess.  

Invoke the 25th Amendment and then walk away,  if you think that meaningless gesture will do anything to polish your reputation.
*****
I woke TBG up with my whimpering last night.  He patted and rubbed and reassured.  "It's okay.  It's okay..." 
....... even though we both knew that it wasn't anywhere close to okay.
*****
10 years ago tonight I took myself to IHOP for 10 o'clock pancakes.  I paid for dinner for a young couple and her abuela because they were just wonderful to watch, as I sat alone with my book, smiling at the good fortune that was my life.  

12 hours later, I was bleeding on the sidewalk, holding the hand of a blameless little girl whose love of politics and people and me got her killed.  
*****
Tomorrow is not promised, denizens.  Tell those you love all the things you want them to know.  Don't put it off; who knows what tomorrow will bring.
























Thursday, January 7, 2021

I Woke Up So Happy

Georgia has two Democratic Senators, one of whom sets a new bar for nice, Jewish boys.  Queen T had a good thing happen at work.  Virtual Garden Club with the 5th grade was a rousing success. TBG and I settled down to watch the Joint Session of Congress do the people's business.

And then all hell broke loose.

Nothing I wrote yesterday seems relevant. My memories, my clean closets, by generalized angst are small change compared to what streamed across my television screen all day.  

My plaintive "Where are the police?" was met with my son's "C'mon, Mom, these are white people."

I've been scared all day.  My house has never been cleaner..... it was the only thing I could think to do with myself as I watched and listened and fretted and ranted.

I felt less anxious when the Senate and the House announced that they would convene tonight.  I relaxed even further when the Leaders said they would stay all night and finish the people's business.

I felt a bit of surprise when Kelly Loeffler withdrew her objection to Georgia's electors; I smiled when her colleagues applauded.  Cory Booker's passion raised goose bumps.  Big Cuter's Twitter feed tells him that some Cabinet members are discussing the 25th Amendment.

I don't know how I feel.  

It's a lot like when I got shot.  One moment I was laughing about accessories. The next there was blood dripping down the front of my favorite jeans.  It's a lot to absorb all at once.  


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Having Trouble Getting Started

It's Tuesday.  There's an election in Georgia, there's an attempt by the Arizona GOP Chair to throw out my ballot, and the anniversary of my perforation is coming up.  There should be lots for me to write about.  

There should be.  But I'm having a hard time getting fired up about any of it.

I wrote my postcards and letters to Georgia Democrat leaning voters.  Watching the televised nonsense isn't moving Ossof or Warnock closer to the finish line, so I've given that up entirely.  I've done what I can and I'm moving on, in keeping with my resolution to find peace and enjoy it.

The radio isn't helping much in this endeavor.  I can avoid the talking heads on tv by leaving the room, but my car radio and NPR are inseparable; I have to remember to change to KXCI, our community radio station, before I am bombarded with voices purporting to know the unknowable.  Once the thought is put into my head, I'm doomed.

Kelli Ward lost an election, got herself selected to the top of the AZ GOP pyramid, and has proceeded to quash any hope that her party will be seen as anything more or less than obstructionist goons.  There is no valid argument, and yet she persists.  My fury is unabated; my vote should count whether she likes the result or not.  The nerve, the arrogance, the temerity, the audacity --- this, too, is getting in the way of my inner peace.

January 8th could have slipped by unnoticed this year, and I wouldn't have minded a bit.  There's no Stroll and Roll on CTG's path due to pandemic precautions.  There's no ringing the fire station bell downtown, either.  There's a memorial dedication, but I was always planning to skip that.  Scarlet offered to stand 6' away from me at the Safeway, showering virtual hugs on my standing alone self as I placed a stone on the memorial they erected one year after the bullets flew.  I demurred.  Without a physical hug, she'd be just another reminder of all we've lost this year.  I'll be sad enough without adding COVID 19 to the pile.

That Safeway memorial is the only part of typing this post which made me smile.  It cost very little, it happened quickly, it's in the right spot, and it conveys the right message.  There are 6 big rocks for those who died, and 13 stars for those who took bullets sit below the explanatory plaque on the largest boulder of all.  Stuffies and candles and prayer cards and flowers adorn the site over the course of the year; I've stopped there every anniversary to do my commemorating and my crying.

This is the 10th anniversary.  The local paper is doing a podcast and running some articles.  I'm grateful that the pandemic has kept the national newshounds away from my door; I've been dreading rehashing the experience since last year.

Getting started on 2021 has been difficult not only because of the sorrow, but because it really doesn't feel any different than 2020.  Even this post is more of a retrospective than an expansive view of the new year.  I ought to have some thoughts that look in that direction.  Unfortunately, I don't.