Harriet Tubman – Reflection and Opinion (Cash Value: $20)

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Harriet Tubman postage stamp, 1978. Public Domain. (c)2019

I had intended to share a post about my attendance at the new Tubman-Seward statue dedication in upstate New York, and I will do that later in the week. But then with the announcement that the Tubman twenty dollar bill was postponed, I wanted ot share some of my thoughts o that, and that will follow, however these last two weeks have been noting short of coincidences if there really are such things.

Harriet Tubman was one of those historical figures remembered from childhood, the elementary grade lesson watered down and never addressed again.

When I saw the opportunity to attend the statue dedication, I took it, and I was moved beyond what I could have expected. So much so that the next day, I drove my family there. While we were there we met a woman and I got to share some information with her about Harriet and William Seward. She in turn told us about a food truck gathering with proceeds going to ARC. We went over, had a good lunch, and helped a great coase.

Then, yesterday I attended the last of a four week series at a retreat center. This one was called A Dreamer’s Mind, and the presenter began with the story of Harriet Tubman! I leaned even more than I’d learned at the dedication, and after all of these meetings with Harriet throughout the last few weeks, I know quite a bit more and I feel as though I’m carrying a small piece of her with me. Not a bad companion.

This was what I wrote at the first reflective time:

“Well, well, well, we meet again! LOL!

She’s everywhere for me recently. I have two blog posts that I’m preparing for and having just been to her statue at the library, she’s on my mind quite a lot in the last two weeks.”

And I think this is why when the decision to put Harriet on the $20 was reversed, or postponed or whatever the Secretary of the Treasury called it, it hit me a little harder than it normally would have. In fact, Harriet’s appearance on the $20 bill came up in the group conversation, and no one else had heard about the postponement except for me. It isn’t the same as others’, but sometimes I feel as though being so aware of what’s going on in the world is my cross to bear. It’s one anyway. A topic comes up, and I know something. Do I speak out? Or stay quiet as if this public information is a secret because I’m the only one in the room who’s heard it?

In this case, I spoke up. I usually speak up. I will admit to being snarky and just a little petty where the President’s involvement was concerned, and I apologized to the two women I was speaking to (although they didn’t disagree with my sentiment) and was able to say what I wanted to in a more diplomatic, all audience inclusive way.

I think the President’s a racist; at a minimum a bigot who believes every negative stereotype about minorities. I also think that since the President admires Andrew Jackson, he doesn’t want to replace him with a black woman. It’s really that simple. He could have taken the high road and said, ‘you know what, I didn’t make this decision, it was already set in motion, let it continue,’ but this President’s pettiness knows no bounds.

It’s not just that President Jackson was also a racist or even that he wasn’t a great president or stand out human being, but the fact that he perpetuated the genocide of millions of Native Americans by force marching them west, and not providing for them as promised in the treaties of the Grant Administration should be enough to keep him off the bill in the first place. White Europeans took this land. }That is our legacy. It doesn’t determine our future, but we need to acknowledge it, and at the same time acknowledge the Native Americans, not as a collective, but as individual tribes with different cultural and religious practices. They were here first, and it is our obligation as Americans to never forget their sacrifice. Despite being involuntary, it was still a sacrifice that every American should know.

What does this have to do with Harriet Tubman?

We acknowledge her existence in the way we water down what we deem too controversial. I’ve learned things in the past two weeks that I’ve never heard of about her, and she is taught in every school in America. She lived and died and is buried in my home state of New York. How did I not know these details of her life?

One thing that Harriet Tubman’s face on our money is a step towards recognizing who built this country. Our monies, for the most part represent our founding; our history. We need and should know our history, and having it represented on our money is wholly appropriate. But slaves also built this country. They sacrificed their families and their lives. Once freed, they build their lives from nothing. The pioneered the west. The raised crops. They’ve done everything free Europeans did except they did it under much worse conditions that are still seen in many ways today.

I look forward to Harriet Tubman (and other women and people of color) being included in our country’s public representation, on money, naming streets and buildings, and other ways we express our gratitude for our historical counterparts.

I want to share this conversation on Nicolle Wallace’s show, Deadline: White House about the change in the status of the $20 bill.

For anyone who wishes to have their own (legal tender) Tubman Twenty, here is a link for the stamp. I have not ordered one, so I do not know anything about this seller.

Where Are My Bootstraps?

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​Unless you live in Massachusetts where it’s Patriot Day, today is Tax Day. If you’re just filing your taxes now, you’ve realized just how much the Republican Tax Scam screwed you over. Sure they raised the standard deduction, but they’ve taken away most of your itemizations through limits. We somehow managed to do okay despite our taxes rising by over one thousand dollars. In fact, married filing joint is only $100 less tax due than a single person making nearly the same amount. I believe the only reason we didn’t owe was because we were already having too much withheld. Our motto is live on less, so we can repair our house and car in the spring.

We reached our health insurance’s maximum out of pocket in 2018, and we still couldn’t deduct our medical. Or our taxes, mortgage interest, or the little we give to charity. Good thing we don’t give to charity for the tax deduction; we give because it’s the right thing to do when you have more than someone else (even if it’s not that much more).

We have two kids at home and in school and one out on his own, and while he’s been pitching in with his own expenses for quite some time now, his moving out didn’t lower our expenses. He is still on our phone plan, our automatic toll payments, our AAA, our health insurance, and we don’t begrudge or judge him for any of those things. One, it’s cheaper for all of us, and two, it’s what a family does. One day I’m sure I’ll be on his phone plan.

The main point isn’t that I don’t want to pay taxes; I do. It’s my responsibility as an American citizen to pay my share. What I don’t understand is how we allow the wealthy to avoid paying their taxes. I don’t understand how teacher are not allowed to claim school supplies on their taxes, but if you have a private jet, the gas is deductible. It’s absurd that we continue to allow this to happen.

So that’s my rant. Despite it, my taxes were mailed last week, and with no savings, now we’ll struggle until our refund comes and I can pay back the private loan I took out, maybe I can get a pair of glasses that I’ve needed for over a year, pay for half of my hearing aids before they decide to send those to collection, but there will be no new roof (again, this is year 3 of waiting), no smooth driveway (which isn’t as luxurious as it seems – the more it sinks, the muddier it gets, the icier in the winter), no toilet in our upstairs bathroom (a necessity in a family of five), no oven for another six months to a year, no fridge which should have been replaced when we moved in and were lied to about its age.

We have it good, but it still hurts to say no to your kids for something as innocuous as a trip to McDonald’s or a candy bar for no special occasion. I don’t want to spoil them with European vacations, but it might be nice to take a long weekend to Niagara Falls or Washington, DC.

I truly am grateful for what we do have, and appreciate how lucky we are, but sometimes it’s important to let the people who don’t understand “real life” know what is going on in most of America – your neighbors, your friends, your kids’ classmates. I wish the Republicans in Congress would see this, but I’m not sure they’d care to be honest.

I’d like to close this with a link to a 2014 article that is still relevant today about how the realities of living inn bootstrap America and how most daily annoyances are catastrophic for many people living paycheck to paycheck.

Everything is Fodder for Writing

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Including arguing about whether the writiing is relevant to the non-writing and whether the argument about whether the writing is relevant to the non-writing is relevant fodder for a third party’s writing. Or none of those things.. 

This, posted at 6:17pm EST on the 15th of February, 2019 was the tweet heard ’round the world. At least the world of food blogs everywhere. Before historian Kevin M. Kruse tweeted this, innocence had hung over the Twitter world, that global place for the polite exchange of ideas, but after… after, the cacophony that some wanted to laugh at while others were weeping shook even the most innocent of bystanders.

I don’t know who I’m making fun of, although I include myself in that. Never have I felt the both sides of an issue as I did with this tweet and the responses that followed.

Having “enjoyed” Twitter since 2009, I laughed at the original tweet. Not a haha good one laugh, but a what have you done FTLOG laugh. I could see what was next a mile away and it didn’t take long for my foreknowledge to be realized.

I’m paraphrasing here, but the gist of it was mostly how fucking dare you?!?!

I saw this storm form quickly as the clouds darkened and the winds gathered. As I said, I can see both sides because I am both sides.

I’m a writer. I want people to read my writing and with most writing, every word has its place, its function. I want it all read.

I also blog about food, share recipes, and post food pics here and on Instagram. It’s one of my, let’s call it niches. 

I also search for recipes online.

There are days, like last week. In the middle of cooking dinner, our oven broke. I needed to finish baking the cornbread. I searched online and when I found a microwave recipe, I skipped over everything to get to the very end of the directions for how long to microwave it. It took a little longer than stated because our microwave is older and smaller than the average microwave available today.

Other times I read the narrative to get clues as to taste and texture; what needs to be followed perfectly; what can be tweaked.

And there are times when I post a recipe that I post a narrative alongside it. Some kind of how I discovered this or my daughter came up with this or some other family story or anecdote that I find relevant.

For Christmas, in fact, I wrote a ten recipe cookbook for my church’s food pantry/Christmas basket program. One of the most often compliments that I’ve received about the booklets was about the accompanying narrative that I included for some of the recipes. These included origins, where some were adapted from, links. Next time, I’ll add photos, but the narrative was received just as well as the recipe itself. In fact, one of the gentlemen who I’ve always thought of as dour, smiled, thanked me, and informed me that he sent copies to his two daughters. This was high praise indeed.

So while it would have been easy to be pulled into a Twitter fight between (favorite) historian and a band of incensed food bloggers, I stayed far away, but still checking in to see how both sides held up and where the argument would end. I mean, it is Twitter after all. I did leave one tweet, and I’m sure that I didn’t help anyone on either side.

Susan B. Anthony: Suffrage and Equality, and How Far We Still Need To Go

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​One hundred ninety-nine years ago today, Susan B. Anthony was born into a Quaker family in Adams, Massachusetts. Her activism began early at her family’s hearth as the entire clan was involved in the anti-slavery movement as well as temperance movements all throughout their lives.

Her birth year of 1820 was coincidentally one hundred years before the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was ratified.

In 1868, she, and her longtime close friend and women’s rights collaborator Elizabeth Cady Stanton published a weekly newspaper called The Revolution, focusing on women’s rights and calling for women’s suffrage as well as highlighting other opinion and discussion pieces in relation to suffrage as well as politics and finance. It’s motto was: “Men, their rights and nothing more: women, their rights and nothing less.”

I think we’re seeing a resurgence of this attitude if not the outright message. Coming to a head in 2017 with the #metoo movement, women are finding their voices and speaking out when they feel ignored or condescended to, which happens in all walks of personal and professional life.

When the 15th Amendment was proposed and ratified (giving former male slaves the right to vote), Anthony was firmly against it, feeling that African Americans and women should receive voting rights simultaneously rather than continue to give men, regardless of race more rights than women.

In 1872, she brought her Declaration of Rights for Women to the nation’s centennial in Philadelphia, wanting to share it at the official celebrations. Permission was denied, but Susan B. Anthony, leading a group of five women interrupted the speaker and handed the Declaration to the him. Leaving, she handed out copies to the crowd, and then found a public space nearby and read it to the crowd that had formed around her.

1872 was also the year in which Susan B. Anthony cast her vote. In doing so, she was arrested and brought to trial. Prior to the trial, she went around the county doing speaking engagements. Her speech was titled, “Is it a crime for a US citizen to vote?” At her trial, she was found guilty and ordered to pay a fine. She refused. Instead of the judge holding her in contempt, he declined any further action, and the fine has never been paid.

‘Failure is impossible’ quickly became the watchword for the women’s movement” according to her Wikipedia article. Those three words were taken from comments made by Susan B. Anthony at her eighty-sixth birthday celebration a few weeks before her death:

“There have been others also just as true and devoted to the cause — I wish I could name every one — but with such women consecrating their lives, failure is impossible!”

She and Stanton were the first to lead the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the organization’s name was changed to the League of Women Voters, still a formidable voice for voting rights.

In addition to her house in Rochester, NY named as an historic landmark and her gravesite visited on many Election Days, most especially in 2016 when Democrat Hillary Clinton ran as the first woman nominated by a major party, she was also commemorated on a US postal stamp in 1936 and is the first woman to have her likeness on a US coin when her image was depicted on the dollar coin, first minted and released in 1979.

Commemorative Stamp 1936, US Postal Service. Public Domain. (c)2019

Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coin, 1979. Public Domain. (c)2019

In reading the title of her speech: Is it a crime for a US citizen to vote? it made me realize that as far as we’ve come, we still haven’t come all that far. We saw in 2016, an amount of voter suppression that many didn’t recognize in prior years. Some of it was so obvious as to be racist and sexist that it boggles my mind that it was allowed by officials and ignored by the media. The questions asked of Secretary Clinton, and the ridiculously higher expectations and almost impossible to meet standards expected of her in relation to her male opponents was embarrassing. 

Even more embarrassing is the way the media is currently treating the four women candidates for the Democratic nomination. I hear about Sherrod Brown’s ties to working class families, and reflection on Joe Biden’s status as elder statesman, and they haven’t even decided if they are running for 2020. However, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobucher are being lambasted for listening to rap music, eating fried chicken, mocked for family lore, and treatment of her subordinates instead of where they stand on the issues. Is the idea that Amy Klobucher expects her staff to live up to her expectations more problematic than a President who lies constantly about everything, even the insignificant? Bill Clinton played the saxophone on television, Mitt Romney has a car elevator in one of his houses, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is in jail for sexual misconduct, but no, let’s find out if Amy raises her voice trying to get things done. Journalism is in a tailspin, and I thought we were, if not past this sexism then at least pretending to be fair in public.

Also standing out significantly is the Georgia governor’s race in 2018, the Voter ID laws that disproportionately affected the Native American population in North Dakota, also in 2018, closing polling places, shortening voting times, which thereby increased lines and eliminated the working class who can’t afford to leave work early or go in late. Deciding that polling places didn’t meet accessibility requirements for the general election even though there were no problems during the primaries, and those polling places that didn’t meet the requirements were in primarily African-American districts (in Georgia, where the Secretary of State who is in charge of those things was also running for governor. He won. Big surprise there.) There is still a congressional seat in North Carolina that has not been certified because of blatant fraud.

So, how do we combat this?

Should Election Day be a national holiday so more people can vote without losing time and money from work? Why do certain segments of political partisanship want less people to vote, not more despite their being eligible and wanting to vote?

Should we have a standard set of questions to address to each office-seeker when they’re being introduced as a presidential candidate?

Why do we continue to allow the Senate Majority Leader to lie about what the American people want (as shown in poll after poll), and allow him to not bring bills to the floor that have passed the House?

Why do we allow the White House and the President’s enablers in Congress to block investigations into the Russian interference in the 2016 and 2018 elections? I would hope that no one wants a foreign power controlling our votes and who is elected to our national offices, but it seems that some of those politicians blocking access and investigatory avenues are dominated by their monetary reliance on that same foreign power. This is wrong. When will they come to their senses? When will their patriotism extend to real American sovereignty and equal rights instead of their false flag patriotism?

How do we also encourage voting participation?

Why do some from one side think it should be harder to vote, whether because of economics or transportation or accessibility?

This needs to be addressed before the 2020 election. 2020 will celebrate the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. We should come together for a comprehensive overhaul of the registration and voting process to make it accessible to all eligible voters. If we wait much longer, we won’t have anything worth voting for.

George Herbert Walker Bush (1924 – 2018)

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​Not sure if this is going to be longer later, but – I’m sad that George Bush 41 passed away. I’ve been listening to both the hagiographies and the realistic assessments of his presidency and public service career. Whatever else he was, he was a kind and decent person who cared about and loved his family and his country deeply. He had faith and beliefs that he kept in his heart throughout his life. He had a good sense of humor, and he made it okay for us to not like broccoli.

He signed the Americans with Disabillities Act and when he was asked to intervene in pushing back the Iraqi regime out from their invasion of Kuwait, he acted. He forrmed a multi-national coalition including Middle Eastern/Muslim countries, and when their objective was done (Hussein going back to Baghdad), he didn’t push an imperialistic doctrine.

He saw, and contributed, to the peaceful end of the Cold War after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, including the reunification of Germany, which is likely one reason that Chancellor Merkel came to pay her respects.

I didn’t vote for him, but I worked for him…kind of. I was a civilian in the Navy’s child development program. In addition to our regular group of military children under five, we were also joined by a couple of displaced kids when their parents were called up and their reserve units were activated during the Gulf War. Oddly, I was less politically active and vocal during Bush’s Presidency than just prior when I was in college and studying political science.

When he pledged not to raise taxes, then got into office, and saw the reality of the economy, he took a leap (and it probably cost him a second term), and for the good of the country, he raised taxes. For the good of the country.

He also closed military bases, which included my being laid off.

At 17, after Pearl Harbor, he enlisted, volunteering for the Navy and was the youngest aviator. He was shot down over the Pacific. He then went to college, and over the span of decades was Congressman, ambasasador, director of the CIA, Vice President and President of the United States. A lifetime of service. A good man.

He should be admired.

This eulogized more than I had originally intended.

The point I wanted to make is that if you’re waiting for someone who is unproblematic in order to eulogize them and offer condolences and respects upon their death after a lifetime of service, you may as well stop now. There is no such person. There will never be any such person. Even Saint Mother Theresa didn’t always believe in G-d, and she’s a saint. The point being that take a forward glance towards the future of state funerals and name the one, unproblematic one that we’re allowed to feel bad for, to admire, to want to emulate aspects of. They are all problematic to someone.

That doesn’t dismiss the valid feelings they invoke, but it may need some additional perspective. 

George HW Bush was a decent man, with morals and he attempted to be better, not better than anyone or any of us or anyone around him, but just better.

And in this world of Wisconsin Republicans overthrowing the duly elected incoming state government (is this the tyranny the NRA has warned us about? But that’s another discussion, isn’t it?), we could all use a little bit more decent.

Dr. Ford and Justice for All

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​I’ve spent a lot more time thinking about these past two weeks than I normally would for a political rant, so maybe this isn’t exactly a rant or a venting, although the smoke is spiraling out of my ears, nostrils, and hair follicles and just like in the cartoons, I can hear the whistling.
To start, I want to state unequivocally that I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s Judiciary Committee testimony in its entirety. Anyone who doubts her memory didn’t watch the testimony. She was incredibly careful and was clear to clarify her statements, and to say she didn’t know or didn’t remember if that was the case. She didn’t lose her temper or her composure despite the biased, some stupid questions from the Arizona prosecutor that the Judiciary Republicans hired (Senate Majority Leader McConnell called her a female assistant) because they couldn’t be human or decent to Dr. Ford.

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This is Not Normal

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​Everytime I sit down and try to write about the ongoing crisis in this country, I choke up. I get sad. I get furious, and I can’t write or even think about it. I try to avoid the pundits, but this week, everyone sounds like a pundit.

My aim with this post has been to provide places to find out information apart from Fox News and dog whistle sites that stoke the fires of fury and hatred.

Everyday, a friend on my Facebook shares lies and misinformation, not because he wants to create dissention, but because he truly believes the nonsense. This isn’t just one person’s opinion. We all have opinions, but as the saying goes, you’re not entitled to your own facts.

I will not abide the both sides argument. 

Fox News and the right wing media are so far gone it’s moved beyond false equivalency. Whenever the left is told to meet in the middle and compromise, the right forgets that we’ve moved so far right to get along, to meet in the “middle”, to compromise that center is right, and it’s still not good enough for the right wing.

In 2009, during the health care reform debate, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan said, no compromise. Now, with a Republican President, they’re all about compromise.. They don’t care how hypocritical they are or how their ignoring more than half the country feels. And to be honest, they don’t care. They want what they want, like a child having a tantrum, and they don’t care who they have to bulldoze to get it.

Democrats are inclusive. We don’t always agree on everything because we are so diverse. We want to, and always try to include conservative priorities, but it’s hard when the GOP continually changes it’s mind and the goal posts. President Obama’s health care reform was originally a Republican idea that was admired by the most conservative of Republicans until Obama adopted it.

They, Mitch McConnell, and his complicit Congress, refused to seat President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, refused to even vote on him, but now, with a President, who just two days ago, on international television put, not only a foreign government, but a hostile foreign government who attacked our country over our country, they’re moving ahead with the least popular Supreme Court nominee ever. The President defended the Russian election interference, and disparaged our intelligence agencies. I would have never thought I’d see the day that the Republicans would side with Russia over the United States of America. And after seeing his lukewarm “clarification” a day later, it only confirms many of our worse fears.

We are the majority in this country; why are we the one who are always expected to compromise? The right should move left to meet where the country actually is.

The rest of this post is a list of recommended readings and Twitter/social media followings that you should try to check out. It is important to each one of us to gather the information from reliable sources, and extrapolate our own opinions.

Later in the week, I will share the recommendation portion of this post for anyone who wants to share it without my above opinions. After all, I can tell you what I think, and where I got my information from; I can debunk and correct, but I can’t make you think. I can’t force the truth upon you. That is up to you to accept, but I also don’t have to listen to the lies and I won’t accept half-truths as truth.

The first section are political books that I’ve read this year and last that I would recommend. Some are very current as to the Trump Administration, what’s going on right now, and since the 2016 Election, and where we go from here. 

After that, I’ve included the sources I read, primarily on Twitter, including some pundits from both sides of the aisle to check out to get the full story of what’s going on in our country right now. I think it’s telling that most of the news shows I watched today included significant video of Fox News sounding remarkably like MSNBC.

If you look at a resource on this list, and think they are too liberal or too conservative, take a look anyway. Give them a few days to get a feel for how they address issues, and what they say, and then decide who you want to follow to get your information.

For a daily wrap-up, MSNBC’s The 11th Hour with Brian Williams does a nice roundup of the day’s news so you can catch up and hit Google after or in the morning for more in-depth information.

Lastly, I would highly suggest that you read, or re-read George Orwell’s 1984. I re-read it at the end of 2016, and I had forgotten most of the story. It was eye-opening, and chilling.

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