What Does the 4th of July Really Mean?

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We celebrate our independence, just before the Revolution, and that was the first step, the birth of this American Experiment. And so today, with so much of our norms being obliterated, and our patriotism being co-opted, our country changing, for the worse, right before our eyes, I thought I would do something different than previous Fourth of Julys. No grilling, no fireworks, no parades.

I started today by sitting quietly and reading the Constitution. It’s not very long. It made my heart smile as the language changed from British Colonial to more modern day parlance, as rights were enshrined and bestowed on those without access to them previously. I say it that way, because rights cannot be given, only recognized. In the reading, I remembered some familiar phrases, some amendments that I’ve read more than a few times, some I’ve never read. I interpreted some a little differently than I had previously.

I share my art and an immigrant’s podcast and a destination that opens up the world to you.

Happy 4th, but more importantly, Happy 243rd Birthday America. I know you’ve got a few more in you. Now, get to work!

I had this in my head for a few days before sitting down to art it. As I wrote it, and as I read the preamble to the Constitution this morning, I sang it Schoolhouse Rock style; it is the only way I remember it even if I’m only singing in my head. Original Art. (c)2019

Podcast: Stay Tuned with Preet (Bharara): What Patriotism Means to You (with Heidi Schreck)   

National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, PA

The United States Constitution 

Direct download of the Constitution 

President Obama’s Speech on the 50th Anniversary of the Selma March, 2015: 

September – Back to School – Photo/Art

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Clockwise: Flag and Fireworks, Preamble to the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson quote about freedom of the press, Scales of Justice. (c)2018

In honor of last week’s Constitution Day as well as attempting to counter the current narrative in this country that the press are the enemy of the people and wrong is right. I have faith in our country, but more importantly its people that we can turn this crazy train around and get back on the right track.

Happy Constitution Day

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Last week, I drew a little sketch about the free press and the scales of justice, and I still need to color it, but I’m happy with the first draft (or whatever you call the first art of a piece).

So, quite randomly, I just searched for Constitution Day so I could get the sketch colored and posted by then.

Well, surprise, surprise, it’s TODAY!

It was also a coincidence that this morning’s writing prompt was Civics. I set that up last week.

I guess my brain must know something the rest of me doesn’t.

Here’s a preview of that sketch. (c)2018

World Free Press Day

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​Today is World Free Press Day. Many of us know that included in the First Amendment is our sacred freedom of the press, but because this document is two hundred thirty-one years old we don’t always give it the respect and attention it deserves. In fact, a free press in the United States is something that i think many of us take for granted. We assume that if we need to know it, CNN or MSNBC or The Washington Post, etc. will let us know in big twenty point headlines and short, pithy, decible-breaking sound bites.

For Halloween in 2016, I dressed as a journalist with a notebook, 1940s hat, and press pass. I quoted Thomas Jefferson. I got a few nods and nice costumes, but it wasn’t just a cosplay or costume. I had been watching the 2016 election for more than a year, and what was happening from the Trump campaign was was distressing to me.

I can’t have been the only one to see what was happening in this country, but I felt as though I was screaming into the void.

After two years of this Administration’s trampling of journalists and the press, they’ve erased mention of a free press in the Department of Justice’s internal manual. This country was founded on basic tenets, none more basic than the First Amendment, and a free press to keep the government accountable.

Now, Trump’s Justice Department was chipping away at those basic tenets with a sledgehammer.

There are journalists around the world, trying to get the truth out, who are kidnapped, tortured, and killed. We need to shine a light on this epidemic, and the United States needs to go back to leading the way for the press to be free.

The Committee to Protect Journalists is one organization who shines the light and keeps the rest of us aware of what’s happening around the world.

Press Freedom is under threat – press release

Press Freedom is under threat – Mission Report. This includes a link to download the full report. I urge you to read it.

Free the Press: 2018 Campaign to Free Imprisoned Journalists:

Election Reflection – Civics 101 or Dear Mr. President

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Civics 101 is not something I would have expected to write for a President of the United States, but here we are – through the looking glass.
First, not receiving calls directly about citizens against DAPL doesn’t mean that everyone in the country is for it. In fact, I would hazard to guess that the President’s aides are not giving him the full picture of what’s going on in this country. More people are against it than are for it. In fact, this is the epitome of an example to show the President why we have conflict of interest laws. He should not be pushing forward on a pipeline that he will directly benefit from once it’s in place.

Second, you won’t receive phone calls if the phones at the White House switchboard are disconnected or turned off as has been reported.

Third, President Obama doesn’t like you. He’s just too polite to say it. You called him horrible things, said horrible things about his parents and his birth. He may forgive you, but I can guarantee he will not forget.

Fourth, and more importantly, there are Three Branches of Government. Three. There is a reason for that. It’s called checks and balances. They are co-equal. The Legislative Branch, ie. Congress, makes the laws. Watch Schoolhouse Rock’s How a Bill Becomes a Law. It will break it down into bite sized pieces for you. It can’t be more than three minutes. And they sing.

The Executive Branch signs the laws. He or she makes suggestions, and sets the agenda, the priorities for the country. The whole country. Not just the rich, white folks.

The Judicial Branch keeps it all in order. They determine what is and isn’t Constitutional. Yes, they can overrule the President. In fact, that’s kind of their job.

You’re not the boss anymore.

We the people are.

I’d recommend brushing up on this handy document in its original or a transcript.

Or the interactive version.

Election Reflection – Executive Orders

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Wow. Where do I begin?

Actually, I should begin with what’s got everyone up in an uproar at the airports.

Immigration.

Refugees.

Five Year Old Terrorists.

And seventy-five year old grandmothers who’ve had a green card since 1997.

One of the worst things I’ve noticed about this Administration isn’t the blatant racism, the showy signings of Executive Orders without regard to real people, it’s the lack of discussion and basic knowledge of how things get done. Legally.

I don’t even mean discussion with me or the rest of the American people, although that would be nice. I’m talking about discussion with the appropriate departments who oversee these issues. The President comes and goes. There’s a reason that the civil servants who serve all Administrations are called Lifers. They’re not appointees. They’re not political hacks. They’re experts in their field.

And the President and his people ignored them to make headlines; to give us a false sense of security while making our lives and our world more dangerous.

I have no words for Steve Bannon. He’s said himself that he wants chaos. He wants to see the world burn. And now, with him on the NSC, we’re halfway there. He has no place there, not to mention no place in the White House.

I can’t think of anyone in this Administration who President Trump listens to who is a professional. Not one.

They’re all defensive.

They’re all dismissive of the American people, especially those of us in the actual majority.

Representative Ryan is spineless. As is Senator Rubio. Senator McConnell wrote the playbook on obstruction. He won’t like that we were taking notes. Moderate Republicans need to stand up and speak out.

We’re relying on Senators McCain and Graham to take care of the Russians and the refugees. They need allies.

Name calling has no place in the White House.

And a religous test goes against the tenets of our society and our Constitution.

No Muslim ban.

Block the actual terrrorists.

Ways You Can Help:

You can find resources on my page, We the People.

Follow the ACLU on Facebook.

Follow the Women’s March on Facebook.

They both have actionable recommendations that everyone can do regardless of their levels of involvement. Most importantly, speak out. Don’t get complacent. Rise up.

Election Reflection – The New Administration and Accountability

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​I know that for a long time I didn’t write about politics. I’ve always been a political junkie. I can’t get enough of the news shows. I was on a first name basis (in my mind) with the likes of Peter Jennings, David Brinkley, Brian Williams. I would shout out comments at the television, ask questions, and generally need to know everything.

That  changed at the end of 2012. I was tired of the stress, of the politics, of the partisanship that came from the GOP. I know that there are some who say that the Democrats are just as partisan, but that’s just not true. We compromise. We compromise because the prize that we eye is the greater good. We do what’s best for the country. Take a quick look at the last eight years and especially the last year of President Obama’s term and how disrespectful Senator Mitch McConnell was. Even today, as Democrats are taking pages from his playbook, he, and his cronies whine about how we need to respect and unify with the President, despite the way they treated President Obama. I wouldn’t treat my dog that way, and now they have the nerve to ask of us what they were unwilling to do?

I’m not an obstructionist, but I won’t sit idly by and watch those hypocrites tear this country apart.

That said, I hope everyone is watching this first week of President Trump’s Administration. His staff is parading him out like a circus animal and he’s letting them. I do understand that each new Administration has its own priorities and executive orders are the beginning. They certainly were with Presidents Bush and Obama, but I don’t recall there being multiple ones daily. His base is cheering, but it is us, the opposition who are rising up and protesting. We’re saying NO MORE.

And it’s working.

Somewhat.

They tried to gut the ethics committee. We said NO. We used our voices. We. The. People.

They tried to silence the science community in the government. We said NO. They rescinded the gag order.

Senator John McCain has said no torture. We’re with him on that.

Senator Schumer said no rubber stamps on the Supreme Court. If they’re not  bipartisan, they should vote no. Replacing Scalia isn’t the problem; it’s the rest of the retiring justices.

I am trying not to rant. I will continue to try not to rant. It’s not easy.

How many things has President Trump gone back on from his campaign so far this first week?

How can we let him reinstate DAPL when he’s an investor? This is a direct benefit to him. He is not divested in his business. That can’t go on.

Canceling the National Endowment for the Arts? It’s pennies.

Voter Fraud? The only voter fraud I’ve heard of was the Republican who tried to vote twice and the President’s advisor, Steve Bannon, who is registered in two states.

Banning Muslims when most of our terrorists recently are homegrown?

Forget causation; it’s not even correlation.

Scientists are planning on a protest at the nation’s capital. We’re arguing about science. Science.

There is no such thing as alternative facts. Facts are facts are facts are facts. The alternative is a lie. How can we teach our children right from wrong when this is the example they’re seeing.

My daughter asked me before the election about being forced to have a baby. She was ten. I told her the truth. No one would force her to have a baby if she doesn’t want one as long as I’m alive. Her response? What about when you’re gone?

She asked about World War III two nights ago.

My twelve-year-old son asked about 1984. I told him I think we have it in the basement, and he should check and read it. If not, we can get it for him to read. He’s not quite sure what it means, but he knows that people are talking about it and it is something to think about and ask about.

Last night, while we were getting ready for bed, watching Brian Williams’ The 11th Hour, she commented that she couldn’t understand or believe that girls were still fighting to be equal to boys. She doesn’t get it.

Frankly, neither do I.

We can’t belittle the President. We can’t pick on his spelling errors. We absolutely can’t disparage his youngest son who didn’t ask for this. We need to pick our battles. We need to pick the right ones, and we need to keep his feet to the fire.

We must hold him and his administration accountable. When they violate the Constitution as they’ve done this past week, we must call it out.

We must.

We will not go back. Not any of us.

Stand up. Speak out. Rise up.

This is everyone’s fight because it is everyone’s country.

If there are things happening that you simply do not understand, which I get; it’s a lot to ask for people to pay attention to the nitty-gritty of this daily, I would recommend Vox.com. They have a very good way of explaining what’s going on. Try them out. I find them fair.