If you were here, having coffee in my living room, you’d notice that the air is warm and moist. Almost tropic feeling this morning. Outside my door, daffodils and crocus have opened, and my little squill bulbs have pushed up their tiny blue blossoms.
You would think I’d be happy, wouldn’t you? There are two cuddly dogs asleep at our feet and the coffee that I’ve brewed for us is hot and rich. We have slices of banana bread balanced on our knees, too, and the cinnamon smell is wonderful.
I want to be filled with joyful spring feelings, but I’m struggling today.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t bring myself to understand how my government has become so totally corrupt.
I used to be a fifth grade teacher. I loved teaching the kids about the formation of the government. I taught them about the “great experiment” in the US, in which a people’s government would be saved from corruption through it’s system of checks and balances.
We don’t seem to have either checks of balances. Mueller’s report shows us that our President got help in the campaign from the Russians. Might not have been his idea (is anything?) but he surely benefitted and welcomed that help. Then he tried to get in the way of the investigation into that help.
He did everything he could to thwart it. He lied in public. He fired the head of the FBI. He hinted at pardons for the multitude of friends, hirelings and administration officials who’ve been indicted. He threatened those who thought of testifying.
So where’s the check on this?
The House of Representatives, according to it’s overly pragmatic leader, won’t impeach the President. Oh, sure, he’s committed all kinds of inappropriate and possibly illegal actions. But the Senate is in the hands of the Republics, so impeachment would fail to bring a conviction. So we won’t bother.
What do teachers tell kids now?
“There is a system of checks and balances but it’s really only about the two big parties. A corrupt President will be just fine as long as he’s protected by a corrupt Congress.”
I need more coffee.
I found this little weekend coffee klatch through Eclectic Alli. Check it out. Most people were more upbeat than me this week.
I’ve never been here before. Never seen the battlefields or the gravestones. Never stood in the place where Lincoln made his eloquent speech.
But I’ve always wanted to come to Gettysburg, to see this historic place and to feel my feet stepping on the earth that has absorbed so much death.
Lately I’ve wanted to come to try to make sense of what happened. As I watch the anger and bitterness rising between Americans these days, I’m afraid that it may be too late for us to learn history’s lessons.
So here I am, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I came with my husband and two friends. We read the books and watched the movies and documentaries. And now we have toured the battlefields.
I have been left with so many questions, and so many emotions.
I know that this happened.
But I can’t understand it.
I mean, I know the economic reasons for the war. I understand the political forces.
But I don’t know how actual human beings could have ever believed that it was the right thing to do to murder each other for a political cause.
I stood there on the beautiful hillsides of Cemetery Ridge and Seminary Ridge, where thousands of young Americans faced each other across the green fields, each side waiting for the other to attack.
I stood on Little Round Top and Big Round Top, and put my hands on the stones and the trees that must have stood there on that terrible day in July of 1863. I thought about the blood that had soaked into that ground. I thought about the trees that had been torn up by mortar fire, and the animals that must have run desperately for safety.
But mostly I thought about all of those young men. All of those boys.
I thought about them dying in the very spot where I stood.
Gettysburg is a wonderful place to visit. It is so well preserved. It is beautiful. There are great restaurants and little shops and lots of fun ways to tour the site.
You can go to the Visitors Center and tour the museum. You can watch a movie and view a gorgeous 360 degree painting. You will learn a lot and you will have fun.
But you know what?
I wish, so much, that you could see fewer images of the glory of the battle. I wish that you could hear less about the “great deeds of great men” who “alter the course of history.”
I wish that when you go to see Big and Little Roundtop, you would hear less about the courage of the men who ran barefoot and desperate up the slopes, and less about the bravery of those who withstood them.
Here is what I wish you would learn at Gettysburg.
I wish that you, and all of us, would see the faces of the boys who were exhausted, and sick and hungry. I wish that you could hear their thoughts as they huddled in the trees, waiting for death. I wish that you could learn the stories of their wives, grieving and anxious and waiting at home with babies in their arms.
I wish that we could all be encouraged to look at the face of every slaughtered young American, and to think about the mothers and fathers they left behind. To think about the children unborn, and lives never lived, the dreams never known.
I wish that we could all be taught that in the National Cemetery, where a monument to Lincoln and his famous address now stands, there are rows and rows and rows of grave markers. Each of them marked with the tragic word “unknown”.
We should think about how it felt to the wives, the sweethearts, the parents and grandparents, the children of all of those fallen men who were never even identified.
What was the meaning of all of that death? All of that fear and horror and pain and loss?
Couldn’t our national course have been shaped without that violence, without war?
As I watch the news today, in our newly divided and bitter and anger country, I think about Gettysburg.
I wish that the lessons taught there were less about the glory of war and more about the pointless destruction of an entire generation of Americans.
I’m trying to find something funny in the situation. I swear I am.
See, here’s the thing. I’m a lefty. A progressive. A bleeding heart liberal. A pinko. The leftiest of Democrats stands to my right.
I hate, loathe, detest, deplore Donald J. Trump and everything that he represents.
I hate the lies, the greed, the bloated sense of self-worth and self-promotion. I am sickened by his vile hatred and ignorance.
It makes me physically ill to even hear his voice. The way he whines, distorts reality, sniffs between words, abuses and debases the English language itself.
Even the way he breathes makes me nauseous.
So what do I do with the Mueller non-finding? What do I do with the feeling of betrayal that I’m left with after the desperately awaited report has come out?
I’ve been eating chocolate. Drinking. Binge watching “Mrs. Maisel” and baking bread.
I’ve also cried, tweeted, Facebook posted, written letters to the editor and now blogged.
It still hurts.
How strange and discomfiting it is to realize that I have so lost my sense of balance that I’m actually upset to find that the country will not be put through a torturous impeachment battle.
Like my liberal friends, and even many of my conservative friends and family, I really honestly expected Mr. Mueller to find a direct link between Trump and Vladimir Putin. I thought there’d be a letter or something. You know, “Dear Volodya. I enjoyed the emails that you and your pals dug up on Crooked Hillary. I’m working hard to help you get all your money freed up from that stupid Magnitsky thing. Thanks, by the way, for the Deutsche Bank loan! Once the millions are all scoured and shiny clean, I’ll be sending along your share. Love, Donnie.”
I thought there’d be a photo. I fingerprint. Something. Anything.
I fully and totally expected Trump to be found guilty of obstruction of justice at the very least. I sort of assumed that Mueller would have believed Trump himself when he said publicly that he was firing Comey because of the Russian “witch hunt”.
So what do I do with my emotions today?
I’m trying to channel my inner Italian. I’m thinking of Pagliacci and his famous clown.
I remember my grandpa singing the song to me in Italian.
Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto! Ridi del duol, che t’avvelena il cor!
Laugh, clown, laugh.
I’m trying. I’m really trying to laugh.
I’m also waiting impatiently for the Southern District of New York to conclude its investigation.
One dozen is only twelve donuts. One dozen is only a handful of m&ms.
A dozen years is merely the time it takes for a newborn to get to the sixth grade. Ask any parent on earth and they will assure you that twelve short years go by unbelievably quickly.
A dozen years ago, George H. Dubya Bush was President. The housing bubble was just beginning to burst. General Petraeus was coming under fire for his failure to maintain security in the face of an affair.
You remember all of this, don’t you?
It wasn’t very long ago.
In fact, to some of us it seems like just last week.
A dozen years is not very long. I’m 62 years old, and I figure I’ll still be around in twelve short years.
So why am I writing about a dozen years? I’ll tell you why.
Because as unbelievable as it seems, climate scientists are telling us that if we don’t manage to stop and reverse global warming within that very very short period of time, we will most likely be looking at the end of the world we know. Coastlines will flood, Droughts will intensify. Our efforts to feed the population of the world will be further stressed.
In other words, we have twelve very very short years to try to make things on this earth a little bit less catastrophic.
I don’t know about you, but that seems like a pretty big deal to me. Twelve years? To try to save our current civilization?
Gulp. And gulp again.
Seems to me that given this information, our entire focus should be on changing that terrible prospect for the future. Seems to me that every single city in the world should be looking at ways to reduce the use of fossil fuels. Every state should be looking at ways to increase the presence of trees, grasses and native plants.
Call me crazy, but it sure seems to me that every single country on this spinning blue planet should be working together to reduce greenhouse gasses, increase oxygen production and focus on environmental policies.
Why are we all in a sweat about a freaking wall? Build it, don’t build it, whatever…..Can we talk about stopping climate change yet?
Why are we focused on trading petroleum based products back and forth instead of working together to find some green products that could replace them?
Twelve short, short years to try to turn around the probable destruction of the entire planet.
Call me crazy, but I’m ready to vote for any candidate who steps up and demands that climate preservation is the first order of business and all the rest is just noise.
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.