I really liked being a teacher. I mean, I really, really liked it. As in, I loved the hell out of being in charge of a group of ten year olds.
I loved helping them to grow and learn in the most important ways.
If you’ve been reading this blog for any time at all, you know that I was pushed out of teaching by a cranky old guy who resented my ideas. You know that I miss teaching every single day.
I loved those kids. I really, truly did.
Even when they were making me CRAZY because they couldn’t manage to find a way to compromise with their classmates.
Oh, holy headache. I remember long, long, long, long classroom meetings where I repeatedly told two groups of kids, “Yes, you can find a way to compromise.”
I worked so hard to show them that if Team A gave up the idea of football at every recess, Team B might respond by saying they would accept football every day for those who wanted to play.
There were days when I felt like all I did was repeat the idea that ‘If you get one thing that you want, the other guys can get one thing that they want.”
I remember sitting at my deks, waiting for the two groups to come to some compromise.
I remember telling the kids, “If you can compromise, we can go outside to play. If you keep arguing we will miss our recess.”
We did miss a couple of recess breaks. We did. I clearly remember the absolute shock of both sides of the classroom argument as they realized that EVERYONE LOSES when nobody can compromise and come to agreement.
I thought it was wonderful when my ten year old charges understood that compromise was the only way to have the whole community move forward. I was so so proud of those children when they came to that incredibly powerful realization.
So you can see why I wish that Congress and the Executive could be brought under the control of a really good fifth grade teacher.
Until then? I am completely disgusted with every single person in Congress and the Executive Branch who draws a paycheck out of my tax payments.
I would be absolutely delighted if a fifth grade class could address the government shutdown in its morning meeting.
I’d really love to see some of the grownups in our government (assuming that there are a few), come right out and address this giant pile of steaming bull shit that we are currently calling our “partial government shut down.”
I would love, more than I can say, for the Democrats to come right out in public and say this:
“We recognize the fact that the President of the United States is having a giant temper tantrum over his ridiculous wall. We know, because we actually look at facts, that the crimes committed by undocumented immigrants are far fewer than those committed by American citizens. Nevertheless, we are willing to overlook the President’s hysteria and panic.
We also know that there is no emergency at the border. We have spoken to the mayor of El Paso, whose city has found itself responsible for thousands of unexpected immigrant families. We get it. Our immigration system needs a major overhaul. We need some laws, some fences, some plans in place for how to help asylum seekers.
But we know that there is no “crisis” calling for emergency powers or sending troops or any of the other hoopla that the Pres is demanding.
Most of all, we Democrats understand that we are wasting way too much time and energy on President Trump’s ridiculous fantasy of a “big beautiful wall that Mexico will pay for.” We recognize the fact that this is all just a big made up pile of nothingburger designed to make Trump feel powerful.
So. Because we have a whole lot of actual governing to do, and we have a boatoad of investigations to start, we are going to give the big baby his 5 billion dollars. We want the American voter to understand that we are giving in to a tyrant and agreeing to waste a bunch of your money. We apologize.
But we’re doing it because time is a-wasting. We need to start governing. We need to deal with a few actual crises. Things like guns and endless wars and climate change. You know, serious issues that are beyond the comprehension of the Clown in Chief.
We are doing this because we understand that you guys elected us so that we’d actually run the country. You don’t care who ‘wins’ in a stupid bullshit made up fight over a big fat nothing.
Wouldn’t you love that?
Let the Democrats finally act like grownups. Let them very publicly roll their eyes, make the “crazy” finger twirl next to their ears, and pat Trumpy on his big fat orange butt. Let them end this entire stupid embarrassing spectacle and let him go play with his little orange bricks and build his pointless wall.
Somebody out there needs to finally start running things around here.
It is so difficult to watch as a loved one shows changes in thinking and language. When we watch someone struggle to find the correct word, or when we ourselves can’t follow their train of thought, our hearts sink.
I spent a couple of decades working as a speech/language pathologist, so I have a pretty good body of knowledge when it comes to how language is organized in our brains. I’ve seen all kinds of language disorders and deficits, and I recognize them when I run into people who are exhibiting the symptoms.
I’m pretty familiar with the language of dementia, too, having watched a few loved ones progress into old age. I recognize the signs when someone begins to jump from one topic to the next as if every conversation is simply a stream of consciousness. Each comment triggers the next, with a diminishing connection to the original idea.
Here is an example of what I firmly believe is a language/cognitive disorder. Try to follow the thread and see if you notice what I mean.
Q: “Is there a number below five billion that you might be willing to accept in order to reopen the government? A: Right.Well I’d rather not say it, ah, could we do it for a little bit less, it’s so insignificant compared to what we’re talking about. You know I’ve heard numbers as high as 275 billion dollars we lose in illegal immigration and here we have a wall that you’re talking about, to complete, because, again a lot has already been done because we’ve been getting money in…somebody said that we didn’t spend the money, well, we have spent it but we don’t paycontractors before they finish the job, that’s one of the other things that Pat and I sort of instituted. We like to have people do the work, so if we’re building a wall, we’re paying as they build it, we pay it when it’s finished. So they do a good job.This way if they don’t do a good job, we don’t pay them. So not all of the money has beenpaid, but the money has been used. So maybe you guys could remember that we you say that I haven’t spent the money, we’ve spent the money. We wanna finish it up. The five billion, five point six billion approved by the House is such a small amount compared to the level of the problem. When you see that the democrats want to give away twelve billion extra, and we’re giving away 54 billion in foreign aid. So we give money to countries but we don’t give money to our own country, which is another thing that I’ve been complaining about, and we’re cutting that back. It’s very unfair. When we give money to Guatemala and to Honduras, and to El Salvador, and they do nothing for us. When we give money to Pakistan, one point three billion dollars, I ended that, a lot of people don’t know it, because they haven’t been fair to us. We wanna have a great relationship with Pakistan. But they house the enemy, they take care of the enemy, we just can’t do that. So I look forward to meeting with the folks from, and the new leadership in Pakistan, we’ll be doing that in the not too distant future, but I ended the one point three billion that we paid, like it was water, we just pay it. To Pakistan. And I ended that. And we ended a lot of other money that’s being sent out on a monthly basis, and a yearly basis, to countries that don’t even vote for us in the United Nations. We give them billions of dollars, they don’t even vote for us in the United Nations. When we want something, to help certain countries…..and you know it’s not all about the rich countries, cuz the rich countries really do take advantage of us cuz they pay a very small percentage of their military….and they cheat on trade. They take advantage of us on trade. Other than that, they’re wonderful, OK? But there are countries that are poor, that we will com…we don’t want anything from them! We want to help them. There are some horrible things going on in the world. And we wanna help those people, we don’t want money from them. We don’t want that. We’re not looking for that.But when you have massively wealthy countries, that have very low military costs because the United States subsidizes them, so they take advantage of us on military…they could easily pay us, the full amounts. And they also take advantage of us on trade. So when I speak up, I mean, that’s why I got elected, issues like that. Issues like the border and it would be so easy not to do anything. When they say I’m not popular in Europe, I shouldn’t be popular in Europe! If I was popular in Europe, I wouldn’t be doing my job. Because I want Europe to pay. Germany pays one percent. They should be paying four percent.They pay one percent. They should be paying even more than that. Other countries pay a small percentage of what they should be paying. So when I say, ‘I’m sorry, folks, you have to pay up’, I shouldn’t be popular in Europe. They do a poll, I was at 88 percent and now I’m at, you know, a very low number. And Europe, I don’t care about Europe. I’m not elected by Europeans, I’m elected by Americans. And by American taxpayers, frankly. So, I think my relationship, I will tell you, with the leaders is very good. A lot of them don’t even understand how they got away with it for so many years. I’ll say to….Angela, and I’ll say to many of the other leaders, I’m friends with all of them, I’ll say, ‘How did this ever happen?’ And they sorta go, like ‘I can’t believe it either.’ They can’t believe it! You know why, cuz their Presidents and other people within their administrations, in the past, they allowed them to get away. Like some of them would say, ‘Well no one ever asked us to pay.’ We have negotiations going on with numerous countries right now to pay a lot of money to the United States for what we’re doing for them. I wouldn’t say they’re thrilled. Because they’ve had many many years where they didn’t have to pay. So now they’re gonna have to pay. And if that makes me unpopular in those countries, that’s OK. But we’re doing tremendous service to those countries, and they should at least respect us. They didn’t respect us, and that was the problem.”
I assume that you noticed a few disturbing things about this “response” to a simple question. Hopefully, you saw that the question was never answered or even addressed. The speaker went on for four minutes and forty five seconds without pause, but never even tried to answer the question.
You may also have seen that each idea lead fluidly to the next, with the speaker never realizing that he had strayed completely off the path of the original question. That lack of self awareness is another hallmark of disordered thinking.
The speaker (pretend it’s your Uncle Pete) also assumed that his listeners were following his internal thoughts. The speaker refers to the Democrats hoping to “give away twelve billion extra,” but never explains what he means. Extra in what way? Beyond what amount? Given to whom?
When he says that “Germany pays one percent,” he doesn’t explain. He seems to believe that we already know, because he does. One percent of what? Why?
I also think that in spite of his ability to recall exact dollar amounts, this man shows signs of a word finding problem. Note the pause before he pulls out the name “Angela” when thinking about European leaders. Note the use of phrases like “certain countries” and “many leaders.” Few specific labels are found anywhere in this response.
Please watch the video that I’ve put at the end of this post. I ask you to turn off your partisan reactions, and pretend that this language and this thinking is coming from your elderly relative.
Then reach out to our members of Congress, no matter which party they represent. Reach out to the media. Ask why in the world nobody is willing to stand up and say that Uncle Pete needs a neuropsych evaluation as soon as possible.
The entire world is put in danger by a US President with this kind of disordered thinking, no matter what its’ cause.
Welp. Here we are in January of 2019. The 116th Congress of the United States has just been sworn in. There’s been a whole of news about this group of Congress people, especially the incoming “Freshman” class.
I’ve seen the group photos. I’ve read the biographies and the position statements and all I can say is this:
This Congress does NOT look anything like me.
I mean, I’m 62 years old, white, Christian and heterosexual.
They don’t look or sound like me.
But you know what?
That’s what makes me so excited and so hopeful for the future of this nation.
I mean, let’s be honest here, OK? For the last two centuries or so, the country has been run by older white Christians. Sure, they were almost all men, but they still were pretty much my descriptive demographic.
And I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that’s really done a whole lot of good.
I don’t mean to be ageist, racist, sexist or anything else-ist, but I am more than thrilled to see a new House of Representatives that actually seems to be representative. I am filled with hope and excitement when I see women of color, Muslims, Hindus, gays, transgender folks and lots and lots of young people taking up the mantle of leadership.
The United States is no longer all white, all Christian, all straight. Our leaders shouldn’t be either. My generation has had plenty of time to wield its influence.
Chalk it up to my decades of bleeding heart liberalism, but I am so excited to see what the bold, brash, unashamed young multicultural crew will bring us in the next few years.
They have my full support.
It’s way past time for somebody to shake up the power elite around here.
I am finding it difficult not to jump up and dance when I see the actions and words of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and some of her colleagues. I find myself smiling behind my hand when I read her tweets about her introduction to Congress.
I love her posts that show the hypocrisy and the nepotism and the overt money grubbing that goes on the hallowed halls of our most esteemed centers of power.
But more than anything else, you know what has me doing the happy dance these days?
It’s the number of women who will now be representing our national interests in Congress.
I am ecstatic when I see all of those female warriors lining up to take the reigns of power.
You see, I am the mother of a woman. I am the mother who watched CNN relentlessly during the Iran-Contra hearing way back in 1988. I can remember it so clearly and so perfectly.
I was a young mother of one little girl. We lived in an old rented house that needed quite a bit of work. I remember the day when I was removing old paint from the bannisters that lead from our first floor up to our second. I remember that the TV was on, and that my little girl was sitting beside me with a paint scraper in her hand as the hearings were shown.
The talking heads were opining about the seriousness of the events. The camera panned across the hearing room. My little girl saw the people who were assembled, knowing that they were our national leaders.
I will never forget the moment when she looked up at me with her deep brown eyes, a frown on her innocent face. “Mommy”, she asked, “where are all the ladies?”
In that moment, I had no answer for her. I didn’t know where all the “ladies” were. I didn’t know what to tell my girl about the powers that ruled our country, our lives, our world.
Now that little girl is a woman. She is a teacher, an activist, and a mother of her own little girl.
A little girl who I love more with every breath I take.
And that is why, when I see the incoming freshmen in Congress, and note the rows of powerful young women, I have to rejoice. I have to stand up, raise my arms, sing praises to the goddess and to all of the powerful women figures who have lead us to this moment.
This time, when I sit with a little girl and watch the actions of the Congress of the United States, I rejoice in the fact that I will not be asked, “Where are all the ladies?”
As we all squirm, worry and heart palpitate our way through today’s national vote count, I have a few questions for my conservative friends and family.
I just can’t quite figure out the logic behind some of conservative, GOP talking points. I’m trying to use simple, basic reasoning to make sense of some things.
For example, I don’t understand the sudden panicked hysteria about immigration. As some on the right keep screaming, “Illegal immigrants are ruining the country! They are stealing jobs!!!!”
But, if that’s true, how can they also be boasting about the fabulous economy and very low unemployment numbers? If A is true, B can’t be true at the same time.
I can’t figure out the fixation on voter fraud, either. I mean, Trump and the GOP have been ranting about the “rigged” election since before it happened. They keep trying to convince us that millions of people voted fraudulently.
I mean, OK. So the election was somehow completely inaccurate, false, rigged, tainted.
If that’s true, then wasn’t the WINNER of the election the beneficiary of those failures? Then why do those on the right keep claiming that it is the Democrats who refuse to accept the legitimacy of the Presidency? You’ve heard those claims, I’m sure. “The Dems just refuse to accept that they lost!”
But it’s the R’s who keep telling us that the election was a mess, full of illegal votes.
I used to be a teacher. For many years, I was one of those people charged with keeping our children educated, safe, confident and skilled. One of the many charges that I took so seriously during those years was the charge to prevent children from bullying each other.
I was a fifth grade teacher. My students were ten and eleven years old. I was told that if they bullied each other, part of the fault was mine.
I understood. My classroom spent time every single day talking about how to interact with civility, with kindness, with generosity. I remember talking to them about the fact that they did NOT have to be friends. They did NOT have to like each other.
“But, here’s the thing,” I would tell them, “You are all members of this very same classroom community. You must treat each other with respect and care. If you don’t, our entire community will suffer. We will not achieve our goal of learning what we are supposed to learn if you are mean to each other and if you fail to support each other.”
And I taught them that if anyone of them became a bully, they all had a moral obligation to stand up to that bully and to protect the victim. I taught them not to be bystanders. I taught them not to let the bully get away with intimidating the weaker members of our community.
Those children understood what I taught. More importantly, they carried out those lessons every single day. To quote one of my students, some five years after he had left my classroom: “We learned that we were all really friends. In Karen’s classroom, everyone stood up for each other.”
So here I am. Four years after my retirement. Wondering how it is that we expect ten year olds to understand and carry out lessons that our actual highly paid, internationally renowned leaders fail to grasp.
How is it that we ask our fifth graders to stop being bullies, to stop intimidating each other, to stop calling each other names, but we let the most powerful people in the country do exactly that? How is it that we expect our youngest children to act in ways that we don’t demand of our so called “leaders”?
When Donald Trump calls his adversaries names, when he labels them as “enemies”, when he asks his followers to attack them, he is behaving in all of the ways that we won’t allow our children to do. He is the absolute epitome of the ignorant, hateful bully on the playground.
The bully that every public school teacher is expected to stop in his tracks.
Where is Congress in this current bullying situation? Where are the leaders of the GOP? Where are the people who we expect to protect us from the ignorant, hateful bully on the national stage?
Why are they acting as bystanders, those silent observers who encourage the bully by not stepping in?
If we can demand that our public school teachers stop bullies, we can damn well demand that our members of Congress do the same. We can demand that our nation’s governors stand up the bully. We can demand that our media outlets stand up to that bully, and that they label his lies as lies.
If you all can ask the average classroom teacher to do it, then you better be absolutely sure that on Nov 6 you will be voting for people who will do the very same thing in Washington.
Bullying is wrong. It’s wrong on the elementary school playground and it’s wrong when it happens on the national stage in front of hundreds of people at a political rally.
Our leaders should be held, at the very least, to the same standards as our public school employees.
Here we are, in 2018, in the United States of America.
We have a President who got elected in spite of bragging about sexually assaulting women. He has been married three times, and cheated on a pregnant wife with a porn star. He has made fun of a woman who came forward to state that she’d been sexually assaulted.
As a woman, this doesn’t make me feel particularly protected.
We have a Congress that is made up of people who are only worried about getting reelected. Other than possibly Heidi Heitkamp, they don’t care about who did what to whom, who supports equal rights for the Americans who actually pay their salaries, or who is totally biased against half of us.
Appoint an accused sexual predator to the Supreme Court, even though he just went on national TV to scream about his promise to strike back against half of the country and half of Congress? No worries. As long as you get reelected, who cares?
As a woman, this doesn’t make me feel particularly protected.
And now we have a Supreme Court that includes not one but TWO credibly accused sexual predators.
As a woman, this doesn’t make me feel particularly protected.
In fact, as a grandmother who has lived through my own widely accepted and lightly dismissed sexual harassment, I’m pissed.
As the mother of a young woman who escaped rape only because she wasn’t at the bar alone when her drink was poisoned, I am beyond outraged.
As the grandmother of a beautiful little girl who has had to learn at the tender age of three to say, “Don’t play with my braids. It’s my body and I get to choose,” I am enraged. I am furious. I am disgusted.
But what is worse is that I have lost what little bit of faith I had left in my country and in my government.
No matter what happens, I will never ever ever believe that the Supreme Court has an unbiased view of the cases before it. I will never ever ever believe that my members of Congress have my needs or my protections in view.
And until the current President, the man who is so proud of his sexual predator past, is taken away and replaced by someone with a shred of integrity, I will not be able to believe that the Executive Branch of this country has the interests of any women in mind.
I am not only not feeling patriotic tonight, I am feeling an absolute disgust in my government. I am not proud of my country. I am not happy to be an American.
In fact, if some other country would take me and mine, I’d be there tomorrow.
We are living in horrible times. We are witnessing the destruction of all that two generations of women have worked to achieve.
As far as I am concerned, we are seeing the complete collapse of the two party system in the US. I’m pretty sure that 90% of us would vote of “None of the above” if they were on any ballot.
What’s a sad, angry, anxious old Italian lady to do?
I’ll cook my way to relative sanity. l have bone broth on the stove. There’s a nice sourdough starter on my counter. I have canned tomatoes for sauce and locally sourced ground beef and pork for the meatballs.
I can’t make Mitch McConnell go up in a puff of smoke for his hypocritical bullshit. I can’t save the Supreme Court of the US from becoming infected with a total and complete lack of impartiality.
I can’t make Mueller hurry the freak up and get that awful, ugly, ignorant, hateful, nasty egomaniac out of office.
I can make ravioli and roasted peppers and maybe a nice ricotta pie.
If there is a Heaven, I will still be at least relatively sane when this insanity comes to its inevitable end.
I thought that the Supreme Court was made of lifetime appointees because avoiding the need to be elected or re-elected would them to be impartial.
Aren’t judges supposed to interpret the law without political bias? Aren’t they supposed to be free of political influence and political pressure?
Wouldn’t you want all judges to approach their jobs with an open mind?
Now, I’m not completely naive. I understand that we all have our core beliefs and that we all come to our work with our own personal histories and experiences.
A person who expects to be appointed to a lifetime position on the highest court in the United States of American had better be able to demonstrate that open mind in public. He damn well better show his impartiality to the duly elected men and women who will be doing the hiring.
Read these words from the opening statement of Judge Brett Kavanaugh in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee:
As I told this Committee the last time I appeared before you, a federal judge must be independent, not swayed by public or political pressure.
I agree with him.
Now read his testimony in front of that very Committee:
This confirmation process has become a national disgrace. The Constitution gives the Senate an important role in the confirmation process, but you have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy.
Since my nomination in July, there’s been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything to block my confirmation. Shortly after I was nominated, the Democratic Senate leader said he would, quote, “oppose me with everything he’s got.” A Democratic senator on this committee publicly — publicly referred to me as evil — evil. Think about that word. It’s said that those who supported me were, quote, “complicit in evil.” Another Democratic senator on this committee said, quote, “Judge Kavanaugh is your worst nightmare.” A former head of the Democratic National Committee said, quote, “Judge Kavanaugh will threaten the lives of millions of Americans for decades to come.”
You sowed the wind for decades to come. I fear that the whole country will reap the whirlwind.
The behavior of several of the Democratic members of this committee at my hearing a few weeks ago was an embarrassment. But at least it was just a good old-fashioned attempt at Borking.
Those efforts didn’t work. When I did at least OK enough at the hearings that it looked like I might actually get confirmed, a new tactic was needed.
Some of you were lying in wait and had it ready. This first allegation was held in secret for weeks by a Democratic member of this committee, and by staff. It would be needed only if you couldn’t take me out on the merits.
When it was needed, this allegation was unleashed and publicly deployed over Dr. Ford’s wishes. And then — and then as no doubt was expected — if not planned — came a long series of false last-minute smears designed to scare me and drive me out of the process before any hearing occurred.
This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election. Fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record. Revenge on behalf of the Clintons. and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.
The man has shown his extreme bias.
He isn’t open minded or impartial.
He is unfit to serve on the US Supreme Court.
Whether or not he was a high school drunk, whether or not he sexually assaulted a young woman, this man is NOT FIT TO SERVE AT ANY LEVEL ON THE FEDERAL BENCH.
He spoke the words above after taking an oath to tell the truth. Let’s believe him.