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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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:

The Grouchy Historian

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​One of the things I loved about The Grouchy Historian, besides the grouchy historian was how timely it was. It made reference to things that had barely concluded in Washington. I hadn’t heard of this book before I found it in the online library I use, and it was very current.

Which was kind of ironic considering the entirety of the book is looking at and analyzing the intent of the framers, something that today’s Republicans and Conservative justices claim to honor and admire, worship even but don’t often put into practice.

Two disclaimers:

1. Ed Asner is an angry old-time lefty, who in this book, defends our Constitution against right-wing hypocrites and nutjobs, who seem to be crawling out of the woodwork multiple times daily, not even having the courage of their convictions anymore. (See Senate candidate, Roy Moore and who is openly supporting him.)

2. If you are a second amendment proponent I ask you to ignore the snark and facetiousness of the chapter on Guns. Look past his opinions and read what the framers wrote about guns and the second amendment. Please.

Conservative scion, Antonin Scalia even said that there are limits on the second amendment. I think that when you have lifelong conservatives like Scalia and Clarence Thomas talking about the framers’ intent and strict constructionism, but then not actually following what they claim are their own beliefs there comes the time to call out the hypocrisy.

You can’t really say the Constitution is to be literally taken and also call it a living document. Madison called it a living document, so we know how it was intended: to grow and change with the times.

At least as a Democrat I have my convictions, which are really quite simple: equality for all, all means all, medicare for all, and do good for everyone. We lift each other up.

In reading what the framers and founders had to say about the Constitution as it was being written and developed and amended, it is interesting to hear their arguments for and against certain things. What I found really amusing with this (and Ron Chernow’s Hamilton) is how similar their arguments are to today’s arguments in Washington politics.

I laugh when I hear that the founders wanted strong states when it’s clear (in this book and the original writings of the framers) that they wanted a strong central government. With a standing army. Collecting taxes. And forming a bank to put those taxes.

Now you have my opinion as well.

Read this book, and if you’re lucky you’ll hear it in your head with Ed Asner’s voice. Can’t beat that!

The Grouchy Historian: An Angry Old-Time Lefty Defends Our Constitution Against Right-Wing Hypocrites and Nutjobs by Ed Asner and Ed. Weinberger

Election Reflection – A Political Eruption

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​I originally wrote this eight months ago for a memoir workshop prompt, which was ironic because we were told, both for the fall before and this spring to avoid politics. I am easily the most liberal person in our writing group and the most conservative is a couple who I actually know from my church. Everyone else falls somewhere between us, and with the 2016 election and the Inauguration still very fresh on our minds any talk of politics was like pulling the band-aid off a cut. For some of us it was like, well, just to avoid a graphic example let’s leave it at pulling off a band-aid.

This prompt was interesting because it was a writing exercise from Bill Roorbach’s book, Writing Life Stories. It is the Chinese Food Menu Exercise – choose one from column A and one from column B and write for ten minutes.

I think if I was starting this project today instead of editing it for you, I would use a rhyming scheme just so I could write about the eruption of corruption in the Trump Administration.

What rhymes with incompetence?

Ignorant?

Intolerable?

Suffice it to say, we’ve come a long way in the past eight months, down a darkening path that frightened me, and continues to frighten me.

Late night comedians and twenty-four hour internet opinionators called this a dumpster fire around February. If February was a dumpster fire, then what in G-d’s name is this?

I’m in a mirror universe where up is down, truth are lies, news is fake, Russia is good and Congress is indifferent.

Originally, this was written with hopelessness. I still feel it, but I’m also opening myself up to hope and to take action. I’m also going to link to Peter MacDonald’s speech at the White House. He is a Navajo Code Talker, and if he can have hope, I can also.

———-

The prompt for this was choose one from column A and one from column B. My two words were politics and eruptions.
Politics is calling out to me, I think since my inner (and outer) (political) junkie has reawakened. A little wiser, a little calmer, a little more cackling at the chaos and fearful of the mongering.

For several years politics is more than policy; it is life. Corporate lay-offs equal will my husband have a job? Health care increases and higher deductibles equal medical care or lunch? Decisions no one should have to make.

But last year…last year was beyond the pale. This can’t be what anyone wanted, but here it is. And last year also brought politics to a boiling point, a volcanic spewing, a series of eruptions. As the silent majority rose in the 80s, a new majority erupted from the ashes right below the glass ceiling, tiny pieces of glass tinkling on the floor, balloons popping and children crying as well as their stunned parents.

The slow boil began, the lava beginning its ascent higher and hotter until it could be contained no longer.

Boom!

Not crybabies.

Not sore losers.

Tired, tired people.

Tired of hypocrisy and broken promises.

Tired of silence and complacency.

I drew political art. i attended my first protest. 

The political eruption like the Hawaiian volcano will continue to echo and build and staggered ground shaking spew. Once it erupts, it can not be re-contained.

Not the silent majority.

There are more of us and we will not be silent.

We are the majority.

42/52 – Read My Pins by Madeleine Albright

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Madeleine Albright was born in 1937 in Prague, Czechoslovakia and after living in the United Kingdom and Yugoslavia, her family applied for asylum and emigrated to the United States in 1948, becoming a US citizen in 1957.

She received a Bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College and a PhD from Columbia University. In 1993, she was the UN Ambassador to the United Nations, and in 1997 became the first woman to serve as Secretary of State, continuing until 2001.

In 2012, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

As many women in government and the political fields, she is often judged or at the very least has had her fashion sense scrutinized by the public and the media. Does anyone remember conversations about Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits?

For Secretary Albright, she was often seen wearing pins. So many pins of all shapes and sizes, colors and styles. I can relate. I have my own collection of pins, ranging from plastic holiday pins to show off as a teacher to fandom as well as pewter pieces and place name souvenirs from trips I’ve made.

Unlike mine, her pin collection was put on display and she wrote an accompanying book to go along with the collection’s display. I’ve recently read it, and was fortunate to see many of Secretary Albright’s pins, at least in picture form. I enjoy sharing this with her.

Below the cut, I have included many of photos of my own pins in a variety of groupings.The photos are in no particular order of importance. It’s just how they were imported onto the site.

Every time I went to post this since Tuesday, I came across more pins that I wanted to share, so instead of editing this again, I think I will post pictures of more pins next week in its own post.

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