Election Connection – Supreme Court Edition

Standard
Click picture for Website.

I have been struggling as I know many people around the country are struggling, especially women, girls, and trans and non-binary people with uteruses. I can’t promise that my language will be consistently inclusive in this writing. I can promise to try. Not mentioning trans/NB people doesn’t mean that they are not part of the discussion or part of my thoughts and fears, but right now, I have two strong emotions at play: first, my daughter and millions like her and second, the Constitution.

For those of us who grew up with constitutional norms and the sentimentality as well as the reality of the rule of law, who grew up with William Brennan, Thurgood Marshall, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and for the people following now in the turmoil and unease of an activist court and are looking towards Ketanji Brown Jackson for similar inspiration, the death knell of the Constitution is heart-wrenching. Not as heart-wrenching as the forced birth of pubescent children or the forced trauma of losing a wanted pregnancy as well as the derailment of dreams, but it is still something to be mourned. I’m not sure we can come back. My eternal USA-USA optimism has been shaken to its core these last several years and this term of the Supreme Court has been the nail in the ever lowering coffin.

I studied law for half my college career and that came after a hobby of reading everything law related available, studying in my own way the law, knowing legal precedents and bathing in the light of the dreams of freedom. Re-reading that sentence now, it is so clear that I am speaking from a place of extreme privilege, my whiteness showing starker than the background of the screen I type on. Everything else, my Jewishness, my womanhood, my economic status – all of that is hidden under the whiteness that wrote that beloved Constitution. When I graduated from college, I got rid of most of my textbooks, but I kept ALL of my law books. Why? Well, they were historical. They set precedent with opinions from the greats, both before and during my lifetime. These books would continued to be studied for generations and while they would be added to, they would still be the basis for many rulings to come.

Little did I know.

The year I had jury duty was the year Justice William Brennan retired. I went to Brooklyn Federal Court, after driving over an hour and a half, parking underground, and walking across a public park to the courthouse, and I bought a Time magazine with his picture on the cover. I read it during my lunch before I was assigned to a case. I was excited. Until I listened to the case and discovered the weight of my civic duty. I was a hold-out for awhile, but we sorted it out and I was dismissed with the thanks of a grateful court. I couldn’t wait to do it again.

With one term, one swoop of Russian interference, Republican obstinance and recalcitrance, Senatorial and Presidential corruption, and let’s be honest, overt racism, and those books on my shelf have become obsolete.

Miranda – not required.

Engel v Vitale – coercive prayer

Roe v Wade – no bodily autonomy if you’re a woman, no privacy

MA v EPA – overturned – enjoy your brown air and water

Griswold, Casey, Oberfell – their futures in question

But Skokie? Skokie remains. Oh, unless you’re picketing the Supreme Court justices. In that case, no first amendment rights for you. Who cares about McCullen v Coakley?

This week in Akron, Ohio, a ten year old girl was forced to go to Indiana to obtain an abortion after her rape because a judge ruled that she was three days over the legal limit to get one in Ohio. Truly, the Lord’s work, amirite? During this same week and same town, a Black man (Jayland Walker) was shot in the back sixty times (ninety rounds fired) for running away from a traffic stop.

These two incidents, traumas on families and communities are only a microcosm of what is happening across this country.

It is only a matter of time before a rapist is granted joint custody with their victim for a forced birth baby. Who thinks that this is okay?

We (with SCOTUS leading the way) are dismantling the First Amendment. The most important amendment. So important it comes first, before anything else. I remind you that we are not a Christian nation. We are multicultural, interfaith, NO faith, multidimensional, and to stay free we must act free. All of us. Violating one person’s civil rights, their human rights is a stain for us all.

The First Amendment falls as fascism rises: little by little and then all at once. You are here in the timeline.

Yesterday morning, I attended my church online. I usually attend online. As the mass ended and the congregation was dismissed to relay the Good News, the priest and deacon processed from the altar to the music and singing of America the Beautiful. I can’t say what I would have done had I been there, but at home, online, I turned it off. I thought, and continue to think it’s inappropriate. I get that people want a patriotic song, and as far as patriotic songs go, this one isn’t bad, but as a recessional to mass?

No.

No. No. No.

The song on its own wasn’t the problem. Play it after the mass is actually over, while people are still congregating, but not as part of the closing.

I have two distinct memories of my father’s patriotism. We were at a professional baseball game (The Mets, of course), and I didn’t stand for the National Anthem. It wasn’t a protest. It was a lazy elementary school child. The look he gave me. The same for a school assembly when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I had no problem with the Pledge, but my sitting wasn’t an option. This look was accompanied by a whispered admonition. And I remember those moments with my dad. He wasn’t a nationalist; he wasn’t our country can do no wrong, but he knew the importance of that respect and I do too. I don’t think he would appreciate how I feel today and how I don’t want to celebrate Independence Day. Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States took away what little freedom my daughter and I had, and I can’t celebrate that. I hear Black and brown people asking what we’re celebrating in the first place, and I hear them.

I have four books to recommend to everyone and then one more thing:

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story created by Nikole Hannah-Jones
Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy by Adam Jentleson
Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution by Elie Mystal, which I am currently reading.

About six or seven years ago, maybe a bit longer, I was driving in the car with my daughter and she suddenly said through a tight throat and tiny tears that she didn’t want to have a baby. She hadn’t even gotten her period yet. She was under ten or was ten, I don’t remember. What I do remember was trying not to cry because she was so appalled about the idea of having a baby, not the idea of being a mom even though that was kind of foreign to her, but physically being forced to have a baby when she didn’t want one. I said to that she didn’t need to worry about that. No one was going to force her to have a baby. She wanted to know how I knew that. I told her I knew that because I would never let that happen. Never.

And I never will.

Not my daughter, and not yours, and not trans men or non-binary folks. No one.

We won’t go back.

Friday Food. June.

Standard

My family has made meatballs since I was small-ish. In time, I was expected to mix and cook the meatballs (and meatloaf) which my mother made with jar sauce. It’s okay – we’re not Italian. Her recipe is relatively simple (for either or both although I’ve changed up my meatloaf recipe cooking for my own family).

When I read Stanley Tucci’s 2021 book, Taste, I was a little astonished with how he described his family eating Friday night meatballs (his third favorite meal on Friday). In addition to his spices and bread, typical for his Southern Italian palate, they were rolled in bread crumbs, fried and eaten without sauce. That’s right. NO SAUCE. His family would add a green salad and crusty Italian bread with butter, and that was dinner.

Of course, they made many more meatballs than they needed for that dinner so they had plenty to add to Sunday’s sauce (ragu).

Fried meatballs with salad, no sauce, and Italian bread. Hmm. Okay, I thought to myself (and who else would I think to), maybe we’ll give that a try. And we did. My family wasn’t used to nude meatballs, as Stanley Tucci refers to them in his book, so we added a tiny, just a little bit of sauce for dipping, and they were happy. We’re planning on it again soon,

Our version of Stanley Tucci’s meatballs served with a small slice of leftover baked ziti. Delicious.
(c)2022

Other food things to enjoy:

The Kitchen Survival Guide by Lora Brody. I got this the first year I was married, and it was a lifesaver for someone who was a novice in the kitchen. Now that I’m a bit more advanced, I still use her recipes for perfect white rice, homemade cheesecake, cornbread, and other awesome and easy recipes. Ten out of ten would recommend.

Are You Hungry, Dear?: Life, Laughs, and Lasagna by Doris Roberts with Danelle Morton

And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend The Fresh Market‘s Big Little Meal. It is a full meal that feeds a family of four for $25. A great deal that we avail ourselves to often.

Summer Rec Lists, Featuring President Barack Obama

Standard

So, technically, President Obama isn’t a guest blogger here, but he has provided (through social media) the first two graphics of both his summer reading list and his playlist. It reminded me of some of the things I’ve been occupying my time with, and wanted to share with readers.

My current reading list includes:

  • Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore
  • 18 Tiny Deaths: The Untold Story of Frances Glessner Lee and the Invention of Modern Forensics by Bruce Goldfarb
  • A Stranger and You WElcomed Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle B by Jim Knipper, Richard Rohr, James Martin, Greg Boyle, and others
  • Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage by Anne Lamott

My Top 5 of Recently Read Books:

  1. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  2. wow, no thank you. Essays by Samantha Irby
  3. Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times by Joel Richard Paul
  4. Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and teh Crippling of American Democracy by Adam Jentleson
  5. His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope by Jon Meacham

Next in line to Read:

Presidents of War: The Epic Story, from 1807 to Modern Times by Michael R. Beschloss

Spotify Curation So Far:

<——————— Newest Link can be found by scrolling down on the sidebar.

All other Spotify links (so far):

Laudato Si’ Week Book Rec

Standard

In 2017, my friend Brother Mickey McGrath took Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si’ and created a wonderful visual meditation using the Pope’s words and Brother Mickey’s art. It is just breathtaking. I would highly recommend reading and exploring it, especially if you can do it outdoors with the breeze ruffling your hair and the leaves on the trees.

Our Common Home is published by World Library Publications. From the back cover:

Our Common Home invites us to slow down, look areound us, and remember that all we see has been granted to us and is in our care.

Cover (c)2017-2020

Back Cover (c) 2017-2020

Writing Advice – Bernard Cornwell

Standard

Bernard Cornwell is one of the foremost writers of historical fiction. His fictional travels have taken me from the Anglo-Saxon period through to the Revolutionary War. He has a brilliant way of describing the battles and creates the vision in your mind so you feel as though you were there.

For a long time, I resisted reading his Winter King trilogy that focused on King Arthur. I have had my own image of Arthur’s world of Camelot and Excalibur since my five page high school paper on Thomas Malory’s L’Morte D’Arthur that went on for over fifteen pages. My teacher was not thrilled. In addition to that being ingrained in my head and heart, I also had the John Boorman Excalibur movie with Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren, and Nicol Williamson that I was attached to. When I eventually gave in to my friend’s persistent recommendation, I could not put The Winter King down and it is now my headcanon. The next two books were equally enthralling and I highly recommend them and every other one of Cornwell’s books.

I’ve read his only historical (non-fiction) book, Waterloo is also brilliant.

Here is some of his writing advice for you to enjoy and incorporate.

World Book Day

Standard

World Book and Copyright Day is a celebration of books and the written word organized and proclaimed by the UN’s Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). On their page can be found information and resources on their programs and the reasoning behind the beginning of this observance and its choice of date.

Books I’ve Read So Far This Year:

January

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling (on the 1st)

Women of the Bible: A One Year Devotional Study – Ann Spangler and Jean E. Syswerda

The President is Missing – A Novel by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

The Last Good Heist: The Inside Story of the Single Biggest Payday in the Criminal History of the Northeast – Tim White, Randall Richard, and Wayne Worcester

The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction – Neil Gaiman

February

The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero – Timothy Egan

March

The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump – Andrew G. McCabe

Believe Me: a memoir of love, death, and jazz chickens – Eddie Izzard

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance – Barack Obama

April

A Holy Mosaic: Love, Diversity, and the Family: Inspiration from a Pope Francis – Michael O’Neill Mcgrath OSFS

Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law – Preet Bharara

Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus – James Martin, SJ

Not by Bread Alone: Daily Reflections for Lent 2019 – Mary DeTurris Poust

Lenten Reflections – Bishop Robert Barron


I’m currently reading these three books:

Rejoice and Be Glad: Daily Reflections for Easter 2019 by Michelle Francl-Donnay, Jerome Kodell, Rachelle Linner, Ronald Witherup, Catherine Upchurch, Jay Cormier, Genevieve Glen

A Year with Thomas Merton: Daily Meditations from His Journals – Selected and edited by Jonathan Montaldo

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson

I use my library’s ebook library extensively and I take advantage of deep discounts or sales through Book Bub on Facebook and through Email. My Kindle is never without one or two books that I read simultaneously.

Who are your favorite authors?
What are your favorite books?
Answer in comments.

Happy Reading!

Books Recs for Rosh Hashanah

Image

I’ve mentioned before that I always read on the Rosh Hashanah holiday. I am currently either in the middle of or just about to begin three books. I’ll also include ones that I’ve finished recently.

1776 – by David McCullough

1984 – by George Orwell

The Autobiography of Malcolm X – by Malcolm X with Alex Haley

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood – by Trevor Noah

The Children – by David Halberstam

Cronkite – by Douglas Brinkley

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention – by Manning Marable

Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet – by Lyndal Roper

Read my Pins – by Madeline Albright

The Handmaid’s Tale – by Margaret Atwood

The Princess Diarist – by Carrie Fisher

The Zookeeper’s Wife – by Diane Ackerman

Emma’s Book Club

Standard

Continuing the Monday book recommendations that I began a few weeks ago with President Obama, I’ve chosen Emma Watson’s book list for this next grouping of weeks. 

Most people probably know Emma from her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series of movies. She can currently be found on big screens as Belle in the live-action Beauty and the Beast.

She speaks out forcefully on feminism and equality, and whatever other issue comes to mind. She doesn’t hold back. She is the Global Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women as part of HeforShe which advocates for gender equality.

She seems to be a voracious reader, very  much like Hermione, and she shares that with the world through her social media accounts and public activities.

Not only did she have her own book club on Goodreads, she also hid books on the London Underground to encourage reading through an organization called Books on the Underground.

The first of the books on her recommended list is one that I just finished recently and one that fits into the crazy narrative that’s gripped US politics. Paranoia, wiretapping, fake news, and phony polls. When Mr.Trump became President Trump, people said we should re-read 1984. I graduated high school in 1984, and I know I read the book, but I couldn’t really remember it, so I re-read it, finishing it just last week.

The similarities are mind-boggling and frightening. One of the things that I am reminded of in both re-reading this book and watching current events play out is that history must be studied and learned and remembered or it is destined to repeat itself. In too many cases, we can’t let that happen. We must stand up for what we believe and what we see and hear with our own eyes and ears, respectively. I won’t get into specific politics other than to say it’s important to know what’s going on in the world and pay attention to it; to grasp facts and differentiate them from opinions and hyperbole. We still have time.

But first, read 1984 by George Orwell.

Obama Book Club

Standard

Continuing with our picks to the Obama Book Club, highlighted by this article from Entertainment Weekly, this week’s space goes to Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow.

I read this book right after reading his biography of Hamilton which was Lin-Manuel Miranda’s inspiration for his very popular Broadway msuical, Hamilton: An American Musical.

In both, I really enjoyed Chernow’s style and way of writing. Even as a fan of history, I sometimes find the reading of period writings to be a bit hard on the linguistics inside my head, but I didn’t find that in the Chernow books. In fact, it was strangely easy to imagine Hamilton and his contemporaries speaking and/or writing in hip-hop.

This biography of Founding Father, George Washington showed me a side of President Washington and his family that I hadn’t before seen or heard. It is by no means a simple read, but it is written in a way that is easy to understand. It held my interest throughout and I couldn’t put it down. It was one of those books that when finished, I wanted to read it again.

It has never been more important to recognize and know our history. Starting with the founding of our country as we look at our current global standing and the world around us.

Obama Book Club

Standard

As a writer, I am drawn to other writers and their processes. It is one of the main reasons that I follow pepole like Connie SchultzWil WheatonNeil Gaiman, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Another writer who I follow and get inspiration from was also recently the President of the United States, Barack Obama.

I’ve titled this based on Entertainment Weekly’s  article with a comprehensive list of Mr. Obama’s book recommendations.

Last week, he spoke to the New York Times about how reading and writing was his secret to surviving those White House years.

Beginning today, and for at least the next eight weeks, I will share one his book recommendations. I will also share if I’ve read it or if I plan to read it.

It was recently revealed that President Obama gave his oldest daughter, eighteen-year-old Malia a Kindle filled with books. I actually did this for my mother-in-law a couple of Christmases ago. It’s a wonderful gift for any avid reader. One of the books he put on it for her is The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing.

That is my first book suggesetion to you.
I have not read this book, but with my introduction about writers, and this book being about a writer and writing, I thought it a perfect initial choice. I have already added it to my reading list for when I get my next Amazon gift card.