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

This is Not Normal, Resources

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Use this chart to help you determine if the news you’re getting is accurate and free of bias. That doesn’t mean that some sources shouldn’t be opinionated, but they do need to be clear on the difference between their opinion and reporting the facts as well as the tools they use for their analysis. MediaBiastChart (c)2018

Links below cut

Original Opinion and Resource List

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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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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