Friday, August 18, 2017

Curated Random Thoughts on Recent Events

This morning, I thanked Little Cuter for sharing her family with us last night and before I could finish she sighed and said she understood, that she walked into her house and took a deep cleansing breath,, leaving Recent Events outside.

It was easier for me to do that when FlapJilly and SIR and my daughter were there to distract me.
Valerie Plame Wilson, one of my heroes,  posted this on Facebook, citing @CelesteHeadlee:
Want to make sure you all saw this photo.
It's the line of people in Durham waiting to turn themselves in for toppling the Confed statue.

Only 9 of them were answering warrants, the rest were channeling Bible stories... you know... I am Spartacus! ... I am Spartacus!.... I am Spartacus.
Neither Robert E. Lee then nor Robert E. Lee V now, neither the great-great-something grandsons of Stonewall Jackson nor the direct descendants of Jefferson Davis think the statues of their relatives should remain standing in public spaces.  A museum is where these anachronistic pieces should reside; they don't represent us or our parents, said the Jackson kid on CNN.

I think family should trump anybody else when it comes to a physical representative of a relative. Drape them with weatherproof cloth tonight, and make plans to move them tomorrow.  The kids are against them, and their views are dispositive.
Can the Republican Party expel the President?   I bet Sen. Bob Corker wishes it were so. 

USA TODAY's headline says it all: Republican Sen. Bob Corker: Trump has not shown 'competence' needed to lead.  TBG says that's not an impeachable offense; it's neither a high crime nor a misdemeanor.  There's the 25th Amendment, but President Pence makes me nauseous as I look at those pixels.  I'm heartened by the separate and equally disgusted individual statements made by each of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; they understand the character of this nation, using Sen. Corker's words.
The Jewish Daily Forward was a staple of my Bubba and Zada's kitchen table.  They were Wobblies, Socialists, refugees, new Americans with ideals who marched and had opinions; this was their  newspaper. It was a big deal when it began to be published in English, leaving the original Yiddish behind.  

In the 21st Century, its great-great-something offspring,, is an interesting place to visit.  Today, Yael Reisman restored my faith in humanity.  She describes the response of the organizers of the March for Racial Justice, who did not realize that September 30 was Yom Kippur when we were factoring in these and other considerations and applying for permits.

They went on to demonstrate how to write a real apology:
Choosing this date, we now know, was a grave and hurtful oversight on our part. It was unintentional and we are sorry for this pain as well as for the time it has taken for us to respond. Our mistake highlights the need for our communities to form stronger relationships.

We made a mistake.  We didn't think.  It's on us. We should have apologized sooner.  Let's work together so this doesn't happen again.  

As she titles her post, The March For Racial Justice Just Welcomed Jews Back Into The Left.  My grandparents are smiling down on us right now.
I can't even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen or terrorists.  

I'm giggling as I watch snippets of this week's SNL Weekend Update.  In true Second City fashion, former cast members are reappearing.  You must stream it.

I have to stop watching and typing and obsessing because I'm losing my giggle.  Anyway, I have my own personal commentator right here on Douglas the Couch.  Hours before Michael Beschloss referenced it on CNN, TBG was talking about Seven Days in May.

Feeling smug. We're done.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Today's Terrifying Thoughts

The day started with the best business people dropping out of Councils that had been disbanded because who wants to host a party that no one will attend?

I watched Nicole Wallace, Communications Director for George Bush and McCain/Palin, wonder who resigns over this?

I found out that there is a uniform for white supremacists: a white polo shirt, tan khaki pants, and a red ball cap, aping Donald Trump's leisure wear.  I found out that the Nazis and the Klan (and the other groups whose names and websites I don't want to know about or promote) are recruiting on college campuses, looking for clean cut youngsters who are willing to climb into the clown car.

I began to compose this ad:
Very Nice People
who participated in the Unite The Right rally in C'ville.  
You know, the one whose poster featured all those white nationalists, Klansmen, Nazis.
(Added bonus if you can articulate a nice reason for associating with assholes.)
My President tells me that you exist.
Please bring your unicorn to confirm your identity.

I began editing aloud.  I watched TBG laugh, then pause, then frown, before begging me to avoid attending any counter-demonstrations in the near future, That tipped the scales; now we were both terrified. 

I turned off my brain and delivered a nice long dose of this
and this
via FaceTime.

It was a much better place to be.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

It's Nazis, For Crying Out Loud

I thought there was one thing everyone could agree upon - Nazis have no place in the USofA.

It seemed like a gimme, a simple thing, say Nazis are Bad and move on.

Instead, our President invented an entire movement and accused them of attacking those peacefully protesting white guys who really really cared about a statute of Robert E. Lee.

I'm waiting for the Republican Party to disassociate itself from this man.  I'm wondering what the Kushners' rabbi has to say about all this.  I wonder how my Breitbart reading friend can justify the false moral equivalencies his President draws.

But mostly, I was really confused about the whole alt-left thing, never having been asked to join and wondering who amongst us had the secret password to this hitherto unknown cohort.  All became clear when Big Cuter shared this tweet from @Scott_Gilmore

Alt-left, violently coming at the alt-right, circa 1944.

'Nuf said.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Sorbet

I've spent two days thinking about Nazis.

It's an ugly place to be.  I don't do ugly any more.  I take care of my little piece of the world, and I try not to dwell on the terrifying, the horrifying, the grotesque.  They'll be there whether I obsess about them or not.

So, this morning, I snuggled into a comfy chair with my fully charged Kindle, and picked up Killing Grounds, number 8 of the 22 Kate Shugak novels I downloaded as a present for myself a few Christmases ago.  There's a 23rd one out now, after a long hiatus, and in its honor I'm rereading them all, from the beginning.

Alaska is as much a character in the series as are The Handsome State Trooper and the half husky half wolf house-companion and the salmon and the mountains. They are much better company than the talking heads.  They are, by magnitudes unfathomable, better company than Donald Trump.

Monday, August 14, 2017


This has nothing to do with liberals or conservatives, as far as I'm concerned. It has to do with hate.

The  Charlottesville driver is to blame, just as the fool who opened fire on the Republican baseball players is to blame, and the mentally ill young man who shot us is to blame.

The Nazis, the KKK, and the white supremacists who organized and attended the event in Charlottesville are to blame, and so is everyone who remains silent in the face of this assault on the very basis if what makes America America.

It's larger than ideology.  It's about who are as Americans.  It's about how we respond when things get out of hand.

Words matter because words lead to action.

Our shooter was fueled by alt-right white supremacist talk radio.  Steve Scalise's shooter was very very very angry at them. The young man who killed Heather Heyer left a massive gathering of gun-carrying, torch bearing, angry people who looked just like him, his ears filled with their shouted epithets.... epithets which are illegal in Germany, where they know a thing or two about Nazi propaganda.  

They may rally and they may sow hatred to their hearts' content, but their right to free speech ends as their bullet goes through me, or you.  But, I know you know that.  This is about more than the violent acts themselves.  This is about the heart and soul of our country.

Spreading hate, fueling racism, and inspiring bigotry should never be tolerated in our country.

I went to public schools.  Over and over again, year after year, I learned about the founding of America.  I learned about Roger Williams and James Oglethorpe and William Penn and Peter Minuit, about putting aside religious disputes to form a more perfect union, one where all are created equal, one where all has expanded and grown as we have expanded and grown.  

Sometimes the change is hard.  Sometimes it makes us anxious.  Sometimes it makes us furious enough to march down the streets, shouting and ranting and railing against those who have wronged us.  But we are Americans, and there are certain expectations.  We go to the ballot box, not the gun shelf.  We don't drive our cars into our opponents, we vote them and their ideas into and out of office.

Public figures have a further obligation. They have a platform.  They speak for America.   Senator McCain made me proud, releasing his statement almost immediately: 
“White supremacists and neo-Nazis are, by definition, opposed to American patriotism and the ideals that define us as a people and make our nation special. 
“As we mourn the tragedy that has occurred in Charlottesville, American patriots of all colors and creeds must come together to defy those who raise the flag of hatred and bigotry.” 
The fact that my Congresswoman and my President have to be coaxed to speak at all, either unable or uninterested in understanding the nuance of the situation, is terrifying.  Without false equivalencies, without hesitation, I'd like to hear them say that we are not the Klan or white supremacy or Naziism. 

Fight back with kindness. Show love for your neighbors. 
Prove that what happened in #Charlottesville is not a representation of who we are.

Personally, the fact that my Representative and my President have to be nudged toward explicitly denouncing Nazis, without reservation or false equivalencies, is terrifying.  I hope you'll stand beside me when the putsch begins. 

My heart is with everyone who is hurting, their families, 
and everyone who was made to feel unsafe in our country.

The italicized words are from Gabby Giffords' statement on Facebook.  As always, she continues to inspire. As always, I am reminded of why I wanted to bring a bright eyed nine year old to shake her hand.

We were on the receiving end of the kind of hatred that ends in violence, hatred that interfered with that most American activity - speaking to our elected official, seeking redress of grievances, propounding a cause, urging action, with words. Words matter.

Moreover, our elected officials are supposed to be the grown ups in the room.  They are supposed to remind us of our better angels, of who we know we are, deep down, as American patriots.  It's not about liberal versus conservative, about left versus right, about Democrat or Republican or Green.

It's about what's right.  The Klan is not right.  The Nazi Party is not right.  It shouldn't be that hard to say.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Back to School Love Fest 2017

It started on Monday, with a Costco run.  Two sheet cakes later, I was driving my propped open cooler across town to Prince Elementary School and Amphi Middle School, the places where I hang my hat.  They were busy getting settled; I left the cakes in the refrigerators, with a love note pinned to the long long tables that are characteristic of faculty lounges nationwide.
I've given up on providing knives and plates and napkins; this is an eat and run environment which comes equipped with all the tools necessary to dig in and get out fast.  I spend GRIN's money on the food itself and everyone is happy.

Tuesday found me at Albertsons, watching the bakery clerk fill a shopping cart with goodies. 
Each and every year a young woman smiles at me from behind that same counter as she fills my basket to the brim with goodies that Vera, my favorite manager, is glad to share.  Vera says it makes her happy to provide the donuts and crullers and layer cakes and muffins and cookies and chocolate fudge squares and I know that the schools are happy to receive them.
This is what I started GRIN to do - to bring together those who have with who need, to connect the generous with the wanting, to share the love.  I spent all morning doing just that.  
I visited nine more schools, waving to busy principals I've known for years, hugging those who were free to reminisce about their starts at Prince and Amphi, whose principal, Tassi Call, after having seeded the District with those she trained, is now in the Administration Building, sharing her knowledge with everyone.  

I stopped in to see her, too.  Yes, this is the 7th year I've done this project.  Yes, time flies.  She helped me with some business for another volunteer, and I left to finish my rounds.  There was so much love to be shared.  

I remember you! 

Christina-Taylor's picture on the wall of the school she attended, surrounded by American flags and a bronze plaque, sparked another conversation about the little girl whose death sparked all these good deeds.  I told our story to a young teacher from Utah, who was stunned to realize that everyone who walked by knew the tale.  This happened to all of us had never been clearer.  

Four hours later, I was home, nursing my exhausted body.  Two days later I spent the morning at Prince, giving stickers to little ones who were just a little bit anxious about the first day of school.  See that sticker on Mommy's shirt?  She's going to miss you today, and when she does she'll rub her sticker and feel like you are with her.  And that sticker on your shirt?  It can do the same thing.  It's like a little hug around your heart, and it helps, a lot.

And, as one Mommy added, maybe you'll be rubbing it at the exact same time that I am!

Those are the connections that make my heart sing.  It's a wonderful adventure, the start of a new school year.  Especially when you are greeted by this, on your classroom door:

Thursday, August 10, 2017

I was Rolfed this afternoon.  This was my second appointment, and I liked it even more than the first one.  I'd resisted the gift certificate for nearly a year; I went, the first time, to assuage my guilt over an un-used gift from a woman I see every week.  By the middle of the session, I was hooked.

Talking about it is confusing; it's been done with me, on me, to me, but never at me.  The practitioner finds my psoas and follows it along its merry path, while I breathe and move my knees to one side and my head to the other.  It's not a process for amateurs.  The sensations are deep and unusual and sometimes require sending the breath to the part that is talking the loudest.

And that's the part I like the most of it - talking to my body and having it talk back.

A massage therapist in Marin insisted that TBG learn to love his basketball damaged knee.  She encouraged him to speak of it kindly, to rub the soreness with kindness, to think of it as a valued part of his body.  He snickered and continued to be pissed at it.

Twenty years later I heard the same thing from a physical therapist at the Rehab Institute urging me to embrace the mended bones, the regenerating nerves, the muscles strengthening even as I galumphed across the floor.

Twenty years before Marin I'd heard the same thing from a friend who was powering through an aerobics class as I gasped for air beside her.  Put a smile on your face and tell yourself you're having fun was the secret, so I did and I did.

And so, leaving my second Rolf inspired experience today, I was not surprised to be given these instructions:  Talk to your psoas; touch it here and here and here.  Remind it about lengthening.

Being an obedient client, I leave you now to commune with my psoas in that epsom salts bath I never got to last night.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Channeling My 10 Year Old Self

Fire and Fury.

That's what our President is threatening.  Fire and Fury..... 45's version of Shock and Awe? 

This is my nightmare scenario.  Two unstable, egomaniacal, powerful leaders tossing the threat of nuclear war around like they are calling out a death metal band.

Miniaturized nuclear weapons... and I don't care how well they can be aimed because almost counts in horse-shoes and in atomic blasts.

When President Kennedy took to the black and white tv in the living room to warn us of an imminent danger just 90 miles off the coast of Florida, I locked myself in my parents' stall shower.  I stood there, writing my will in the fog on the walls, thinking that I might never take another shower because the world would be blown to bits.

I'm having those same worries right now.

I'm going to take a bath.  Do you think Epsom Salts can cure what ails me?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Boots on the Ground

The President thinks that the generals are doing a lousy job.  He thinks that policy should be driven from the ground up.  That is, why not ask the people who are actually doing the job what they think should be done?  He saw that the management driven renovation of 21, his favorite NY restaurant, was a failure because the busboys and the waiters were not consulted.  He seems to think that the same might work in Afghanistan.

Setting aside the feelings of the generals, is there merit to his idea?  I can't believe I am typing this, but I'm leaning toward a yes.

Ask a school teacher if administrative decrees make a positive difference in their classrooms.  It might have made sense to the District Office to place all the non-English speaking kindergarteners in one room, but it left the teacher unable to communicate with a third of her students.  Since few of the children had attended pre-school, they were unprepared to sit on their own colored square, to line up quietly, to face front when the teacher was speaking.  Without enough English to understand the directions, chaos ensued.

Ask a sales rep if Corporate's changes - made in the middle of the day, in the middle of the month,  in the middle of a call, without any warning - are helpful.  .

Ask the lunch room ladies if pre-cooked foodstuffs are delivered lukewarm, rendering the veggies soggy and unappetizing.  Wonder with them if the small savings in cost outweigh the waste of the inedible.

Ask the cyclists in spin class where the mirrors ought to be before Corporate decides they should be behind you.

True, those at the top can see the bigger picture.  True, there is a different skill set needed to create policy than to implement it.  True, individual needs often skew judgments.  But sometimes those small voices need to be heard.

I'm not certain that every soldier knows the right way to succeed in Afghanistan.  In fact, I am certain that success is unobtainable. Even Alexander the Great, who conquered the known world between Macedonia and India, turned his back on the area.  If we are not nation building any more, why are we there?  Is a military solution the path we should be following?  For an administration which has devastated the State Department's budget, which is pulling back from the soft power pieces of diplomacy, this is a true conundrum.

But, perhaps, it might be wise to ask for suggestions from the bottom up.  We can't do any worse than we are doing now.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Stoking the Base

OFA invited me to a public event on a sunny Saturday morning.  I debated taking Amster's boys, but got caught up in the fact that they are now older than CTG will ever be, and so I went on my own.  That took some courage, a prophylactic email to the organizer affirming that there would be security, and the ability to stand for an hour or two.  I had it covered, but I was still anxious.

But Topher Spiro, policy wonk hero, was driving a bus across the USofA,
and he chose to stop in Tucson. 
Civic pride and curiosity about his message to exhausted members of the choir (after a resounding victory on healthcare) combined to propel me across town.  I knew I'd made the right decision when I saw his shirt.
Big Cuter wore the same shirt  last week in Indiana.  Explaining it to me, he called it his stealth shirt, the message arcane enough to be safe in any political environment.

Veterans for Peace were there to keep us safe, but there wasn't any danger.  I wandered through the crowd, commiserating with other women of a certain age who were holding I Stand with Planned Parenthood signs; feeling disgusted by having to fight this battle all over again lent a certain poignance to the event. We were crones, fighting for others, as we fought for ourselves decades ago.

   There were opportunities to thank Senator McCain for his vote
and to use Sen. Flake's face as a blank canvas
which felt oddly appropriate.

The media was out, 
and so were the Mayor
Gabby's trauma surgeon and my State Legislator.

Gabby and Mark were the headliners, and their words, written together but delivered by everyone's favorite Navy flier, left me inspired and moved and proud.
But Steve and little Anthony, 
stole the show. This big guy, a self-described fixer, wasn't looking for a hand out.  He was just looking for affordable insurance coverage for his little boy, who will, over time, need another heart transplant.  Yes, another.  Anthony's big brother was prouder of his own brand new big boy underwear than he was of anything else, and that made the story more immediate.  It can happen to anyone was the theme of the morning, and the urgency was reinforced by moms and foster moms and students who were going along just fine until medical emergencies shattered their worlds. 
The humans staring down at us from the side of the bus overshadowed it all. 
The message is simple. 
Thank those who do the right thing.
Chastise those who don't, who say one thing but vote another.
Speak out at town halls, if you have them, and demand answers from those who are silent.
Be armed with the facts to dispute the Obamacare is failing meme.
Be proud but continue to be vigilant.  

And then it was over.  One hour and fifteen minutes and we were dismissed.  
People lined up around Mark and Gabby as I walked away.  I was inspired, as always, by Gabby's resilience and exuberance and strength, and now by Anthony and Topher and OFA.  And I was feeling inordinately proud of my new t-shirt, bestowed upon me by our OFA organizer.  
I'll be part of the delegation dropping off Thank You postcards at Sen. McCain's office on Wednesday.  I have to keep up the fight, to continue to deserve my shirt.


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