Google +1

Saturday, September 19, 2020

We Cry. We Mourn. We Fight.

I've never been one to cry a lot.

But now, I cry. I cry because of the death of a legendary jurist, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, known to her fans and followers as RBG. This tiny woman, who became the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, courageously battled cancer multiple times. She held it off and continued her work on the court. But as it so often does, cancer finally won. RBG carried the torch for women's equality, for LGBTQ equality, and for so many other rights that we now take for granted. 

When I was a young woman, I could not get a credit card in my own name. I had to have my husband or father cosign for me. I couldn’t get a car loan in my own name. I couldn’t get a mortgage in my own name. RBG helped make these repressive practices things of the past. And as predicted, her body wasn't even cold when Moscow Mitch McConnell vowed to ram through her replacement. If the court gets a 6 to 3 conservative majority, we will certainly see the erosion of many of our civil rights.

I cry because of my own personal pain resulting from kidney stones and three rounds of treatment. But really, that pain is nothing -- a mosquito bite -- compared with the pain I and millions of other Americans feel as we watch the demise of our nation.  

We cry collectively as we watch this administration no longer even attempt to hide its corruption. We cry as we watch 200,000 Americans die because the president* refused to take the steps necessary to contain spread of the virus. We cry as we watch businesses close permanently and people lose their homes and their life savings because the "chosen one" thinks he knows better than the public health experts, the epidemiologists and the scientists. We cry as the attorney general of the United States turns the Department of Justice into the president's* personal attorneys. We cry as the president* encourages violence, division and racial hatred. 

We cry as the president* encourages his voters to try to vote twice. We cry as we watch him shamelessly try to buy the votes of the people of Puerto Rico, the island territory destroyed by Hurricane Maria 3 years ago. Then, he tossed them rolls of paper towels while refusing to send real aid. Now, suddenly, he wants to send money to the islanders.

We cry as the hand-picked postmaster general, a political appointee and major Rethuglican donor, destroys the US Postal Service months before an election in which record numbers of people are expected to vote by mail to minimize their exposure to the coronavirus. 

There is so much about which to cry. Death. Permanent disability. Graft. Corruption. Cheating. Lies. So many lies. Threats to our very system of government. But after we finish crying, we mourn. And then we fight. We fight as if our lives depend on it. Because, after all, they do. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

I Am In Tears

I am in tears.

I am in tears as I see photographs and videos of California, where I lived for 28 years, in flames, the air unfit to breathe and a strange yellow-orange color. 

I am in tears as I watch this beautiful country go up in flames, its people left homeless, its wildlife fleeing for (and often losing) their lives. More than 80 wildfires are tearing across not only California, but Oregon, Washing, Colorado and Idaho as well.

I am in tears as I see the devastation caused by twin hurricanes that hit the same part of the US within days, causing untold loss and suffering.

I am in tears as I learn that the president* of the United States admits that he knew ... he knew ... how deadly and how easily spread the coronavirus is as early as January. And yet he did NOTHING to warn the American public. He refused to warn us about this virus. He dismissed it. He said it would go away when the weather warmed up. He refused (and still refuses) to tell people they must wear masks and distance themselves from others. He knew that people of all ages can die from this virus, yet he lied, time and again, about how young people "are almost immune" to the virus. He dismissed the pandemic task force established by his predecessor, Barack Obama. He refused to heed the advice of infectious disease specialists and public health officials. He doled out ventilators and protective equipment to rethuglican-led states, while states led by Democrats scrambled and competed against each other to purchase critical supplies. He lied, and he stood by and watched as nearly 200,000 Americans died. a number that would have been so much smaller had he not refused to act.

I am in tears as I watch this evil, corrupt administration proceed with plans to allow oil drilling in the very fragile Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,.

I am in tears as I watch this administration proceed with plans to allow hunters to murder hibernating bears and wolves in their dens with their pups.

I am in tears as this president* calls our military 'losers and suckers' for serving, and in many cases, dying, in defense of this country.

I am in tears as this president* does NOTHING since learning that the Russian president has promised bounties to Afghan insurgents for each American soldier killed.

I am in tears as I watch the rethuglican party systematically destroy America, if not by its overt actions, then by sitting by and allowing the president* and his minions to destroy it. I grew up in a Republican household, although I have voted for Republican (the old GOP) candidates only three times in my life. And that was decades ago, before the GOP became a cult.

I am in tears as I watch heavily armed 'patriots' (their term, certainly not mine) march around with assault rifles, threatening anyone with whom they disagree and anyone who doesn't praise the president's* agenda 

I am in tears as I see stories about business owners who have lost their businesses due to the economic shutdown that has resulted from the president's* incompetent handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

I am in tears as I hear about people losing their homes, their jobs, their dignity, their ability to care for their families -- impacts that should have, and would have, been so much less had this country had a government that actually cared.
I only hope that come Nov. 3 I can shed tears of joy that the nightmare of the past 4 years will at last come to an end.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Never Forget

Nineteen years ago today, Americans were stunned by the worst terror attack ever on our country. September 11 is one of those days when everyone remembers where they were when they heard news of the attacks. 

My car radio carried a report that an airplane had hit one of New York City's Twin Towers. It must have been a terrible accident, I thought. Then came news that a second airplane had hit the other tower. This was no accident.
I was numb and in disbelief. And I was worried, as I worked for a federal agency in the San Francisco Bay area.

My agency shared property with the military. Traffic on the highway was at a standstill. I soon learned why. Immediately after the attacks, all the access gates were closed, with only the main gate remaining open. Every vehicle was searched inside and out and underneath for explosives as it approached the gate, and our IDs were carefully checked. We also were quizzed about where we were going. Which building was I going to?

As I waited in my car, I called my parents in Illinois so they wouldn't worry about me. They weren't home, and as I later learned, hadn't yet heard the news. But I left a message on their answering machine.

I was among a few employees designated as essential personnel who stayed at work to handle the deluge of requests from local news media wanting to interview our senior managers for their thoughts and 'reactions.' I still wonder exactly what kind of 'reaction' reporters were expecting. So I and a couple of other people in my office arranged interviews, coordinated our efforts with headquarters in Washington, D.C., and developed talking points for our designated respondents.

This went on for several days, with little time to mourn the horrendous loss of life. I worked long days and was exhausted when I got home. Finally, on a day off work, I had time to process what had happened. As I sat in my favorite chair in the living room, watching the endless replays of the airplanes striking the Twin Towers, and listening to the non-stop news media coverage, the tears started. And they would not stop.

I went for a walk every day during my lunch hour. One day, as I walked near a fence that separated my agency's property from the military side, I heard an airplane approaching. This sound filled me with fear, as all flights over the US were still grounded. It was a US Air Force plane bringing a high-ranking person to the military base. But my nerves were so on edge that just the sound of a small aircraft sent my heart racing.

Life has changed in so many ways since that day, when cowards perverted their Muslim faith and used it as justification to kill innocent people. Now we must remove our shoes, coats, belts and sometimes our watches before we can board an airplane. We go through multiple document checks and are subject to patdowns, scanning and swabs for explosives. We are advised that if we "See something, say something." Security has been drastically increased at federal buildings, airports, stadiums and other places where large numbers of people gather.

The would-be terrorists continue to change their approaches to killing innocent people. , They have hit 'soft' targets such as airports, subways, restaurants and other unprotected facilities. They kidnap, torture and murder innocent people. But American and other intelligence agencies and police departments, along with private citizens who are quick to report anything or anyone suspicious, are fighting back. Terror leaders have been captured or killed, terror cells and plots have been interrupted, and people are willing to get involved in the fight against terrorism on land and in the skies.

I believe that Sept. 11 should be a national holiday. It should join other days of remembrance such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Cancel Columbus Day, which is a minor holiday celebrated by the federal government, but not by anyone else. And it is a growing source of irritation to Native Americans who resent having to honor a man who enslaved and killed so many of their ancestors.

Let us instead honor the nearly 3,000 innocent people who died on that beautiful autumn day in 2001. Let us also honor those first responders -- police, firefighters and paramedics -- who rushed in to help the victims. And let us honor the survivors who will forever carry the physical and emotional scars of that day. Let us honor all who were forever scarred by the memories of Sept. 11, 2001. Let us work to regain the sense of a common humanity, a nation united, that we experienced in the aftermath of this horrible day.

Above all, let us never forget.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Be Kind. Don't Be Snarky

Why can't we just be nice to each other?

People are stressed. People are frustrated. People are worried. Some people are grieving. Some have lost their jobs, or are about to lose their homes.

Please spare us all your snarkiness. Remember what our mothers used to say: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

Snarkiness is not a good trait at any time. When people are stressed and on edge because of the pandemic, or for any other reason, somebody being snarky is the last thing they want to deal with. If somebody comments or makes a post on Facebook or some other social media platform and you don’t like it or you don’t agree with it, that’s fine. You are entitled to your opinion. But don’t leave a snarky comment. That’s not cool, and I would guess nobody appreciates it.

People used to be able to disagree without resorting to name calling, hurling insults or otherwise being nasty. That seems to be a thing of the past, a trend exacerbated by the president*. I can state that I prefer this brand over that brand, and the reasons why, without being snarky or rude.

I have seen people get snarky because they don't like that somebody shops at a pro-Chump store. They don't like an opinion someone posted. They don't like a new product and feel they need to respond in a snarky way to someone who likes the product. When one of my dogs had to be euthanized a few years ago due to an inoperable brain tumor that caused uncontrollable seizures, someone commented that I 'killed' my dog. This dog was my daughter's best friend. I spent thousands of dollars at a veterinary neurologist diagnosing the source of the seizures and running a variety of tests, and hundreds more on anti-seizure medications. We were devastated when we were told the tumor could not be removed. So how dare someone -- who doesn't know me -- accuse me of killing my dog, as if it was something I did because I was tired of dealing with the seizures. I responded with a cutting comment of my own. Sometimes a snarky comment deserves a snarky comment in return.

I blame social media in part for the increase in cruelty and snarkiness. People seem to be downright rude these days. I guess they feel safe in their anonymity as they hide behind their computer. Too many seem to feel they have to share their opinions about everything, even if they have no idea what they are talking about. Here's a case in point: Beyond Burgers, a plant-based meat alternative, is very popular with many people. I think they are the best 'burger' I have had. I don't eat them for their health benefits, but because no cows are killed to make them, and they are better for the environment. But there are always some people who have to comment that "these are crap", "it's highly processed junk food," etc. OK. Fine. Those statements are nothing but opinions. They add to the discussion. If someone doesn't like the taste or the texture or the price, fine. Those are legitimate reasons not to like something. Anything else is just throwing cold water on an excellent product that is extremely popular.

Some people simply are unhappy, negative souls. If that is the case, I wish they would keep their negativity to themselves. What does it gain them to subject others to their negativity?

How we respond to others is a choice -- our choice. We can choose to keep our negative, snarky comments to ourselves. We can choose to offer objections and opinions in a non-snarky way. Or we can choose to spread our negativity and snarkiness to others. 

Personally, I think there is more than enough stress and negativity in this world. So if you can't be kind, just be quiet.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

The Death of America

Are we watching the death of America?

It seems that we are indeed watching the end of this great experiment in democracy after 244 years. This once great nation, a constitutional republic founded, as Lincoln said "of the people, by the people, for the people," is not the America in which I have lived for decades.  

The federal government, which is supposed to serve all the people, now serves only the wealthiest 1 percent and those who blindly follow the cult leader in the White House. The current administration is hell bent on destroying some of the keystone programs of the government -- the postal service, Social Security and Medicare, among others. It is actively working to foment violence and division rather than doing what other administrations have done: trying to unite us as citizens with more in common beliefs than differences. Its legal system has been usurped by political henchmen in the US Department of Justice. The courts have been packed with ultraconservative judges.

White nationalism, hatred and racism are growing by leaps and bounds, encouraged by the orange buffoon in the White House. Our country, unless we act quickly and decisively, will die just as surely as did other civilizations, including the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Babylonians and Romans. America is, I fear, following in their footsteps. But their civilizations lasted thousands of years by comparison.

How sad and pathetic it is when the president* of the United States refers to those who serve in the military as "suckers" and to those who lose their lives in service to this country as "losers." How disgusting to realize that this president* is incapable of honoring and appreciating the sacrifices of anyone who does anything that is not a direct benefit to him/herself. He clearly has never done anything for anybody unless he benefited from it. This is a man who refused to pay contractors hired to put up a building. This is a man who stole money from a charity for children with cancer.

I am watching the demise of my country with a mixture of sadness, anger and shame. I do not recognize what America has become. Yes, there has always been racism and misogyny, but it has now come out of the shadows and is on full display, its adherents emboldened by the president's* rhetoric. Now white police officers kneel on the neck of a black man as he struggles to breathe. They shoot a black paramedic as she sleeps in her bed. They shoot an unarmed black man seven times in the back, leaving him permanently paralyzed. A heavily armed 17-year-old has his mother drive him across state lines so he can shoot three protesters, killing two and injuring one. Then he is praised for his 'patriotism' by right wing pundits. And the US president refuses to condemn this act of murder, just as he refused to call out the president of Russia for paying bounties for the death of American soldiers in Afghanistan. Strong women are attacked as "nasty" and called derogatory names.

We are living in a complete moral breakdown. Immigrant children languish in cages along the southwestern border. The ruling elites govern not in the best interests of the country at large, but only in the self-interest of themselves and their cronies. Our most cherished beliefs -- equality, freedom, service to others, true patriotism, caring for the sick, the elderly and the poor -- have gone the way of the dodo bird. Now the only thing that matters is accumulating still more wealth and playing to one's "base" -- a term whose multiple meanings seem incredibly appropriate now. Now the ruling elite works ceaselessly to destroy the country's safety net on which millions rely for their very survival -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And how about working to strip tens of millions of Americans of their health insurance, especially in the midst of the worst pandemic in more than a century?

The long-held theory of American exceptionalism -- the belief that America is somehow different from other nations as it arose from the American Revolution -- appears dead. America is not exceptional is so many ways. The United States is no longer a beacon of hope and promise and leadership. Other countries no longer look to the United States to lead the way, whether in the fight against Covid-19 or in any other area. We no longer participate with other nations, having withdrawn from a variety of international accords and efforts.

I think America has often been an arrogant country. We have the natural resources, the military might and the large population to make us naturally strong. And until the current administration came along, we also had the desire to be part of the global community, to work with other nations to defeat tyrants and to help other nations at times of need. Now, we're still arrogant, but in the worst possible way.

These days, we are little better than tin-pot nations ruled over by tyrants (or in our case, a president who clearly wants to be a dictator). We are a country where the wealthy get wealthier as others become poorer. Where so-called tax cuts benefit only the wealthy and big corporations. Where people cannot afford medical care. We now are a country where a warped idea of 'rugged individualism' has superceded the idea of working together for the common good.

I hope I am wrong. I desperately want this country to get back on track, to resume its position of leadership and hope. I want to no longer be embarassed by what this country stands for.

I want to be proud to be an American, not ashamed.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

How Can I Help?

Every day we are bombarded with news about the coronavirus, how our state is doing, how many people have died, and on and on.

I, along with so many others, am suffering from coronavirus fatigue. We are tired of hearing about it. We are tired of having our lives upended because of this virus and the federal government's bungling of steps to contain it. We are tired of having a public health crisis turned into a political battle.

So I want to do something positive. ""How can I help?" is the question that came to mind recently.

I started to think about what I, as an individual, can do to make things even a tiny bit better during this never-ending pandemic. I'm not a scientist or a public health official or a nurse or a physician. I can't work on a new anti-coronavirus vaccine. I can't make people wear masks or not go to parties. But surely there is something I can do. I think each of us needs to do whatever we can to help.

What I can do is be kind. People are incredibly stressed these days. Tempers are short. People need kindness and compassion. So yesterday morning as I stood in a slow-moving line at the grocery store, I let someone with just a few items go ahead of me. I remained patient despite how slowly the first person in line was moving. I remained patient as I waited several minutes to get a flu shot. I refused to let myself get stressed or irritable. Kindness to others begins with kindness to oneself.

I can, and do, greet fellow walkers I encounter in my neighborhood. With only a couple of exceptions, people return my wave or my greeting.

I chat with store clerks and employees gathering up shopping carts to sanitize them before they are reused. These are dangerous jobs that often go unrecognized. And I will add that as an introvert not prone to greeting strangers, this isn't really a difficult thing to do. Living with this pandemic has made me a friendlier person.

When I was in the hospital recently (both as an in-patient and as an out-patient), I made a point of being kind to my nurses, transport staff, cleaning lady and others with whom I dealt. I even was nice to the respiratory therapist who woke me out of a sound sleep at 2 a.m., although it would have been very easy to be unkind. 

I have donated money to the local food bank (twice) and to Meals on Wheels. It is unconscionable to think that people in America in 2020 are going hungry either because they can't afford food or because they are unable to go shopping. Because so many people have lost their jobs during this pandemic when businesses had to close, the need for food is so much greater than it was just a year ago.

I try to brighten my Facebook page with a beautiful photograph each morning, so my friends can enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature's world. I need beauty, even if only on a computer screen, in this ugly, hate-filled, violent world.

What can you do to help? Can you check on a neighbor? Drive someone to the grocery store or appointment? Check up on friends who live alone (I use e-mail to check on friends who live in Europe)?

Doing something -- anything -- to help another benefits not only the recipient, but the giver as well. Everybody wins.

We can't make this pandemic go away. We can't make people wear masks or act responsibly. But maybe our bit of kindness can make the world a little less sad for someone. And I would bet it will make us feel a bit better, too.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Hating and Hoping

There are so very many things I hate about the current administration.

If I made a list, it would probably take up at least a full page. But one of the things I really hate is what this administration, its corruption and its self-serving policies, have done to me.

Living for the past 3 1/2 years under this administration has made me hate. I was raised not to hate anybody. But, do you know what? I hate Trump. I hate his voice. I hate his bleached fake hair. I hate his orange skin. I hate the white rings around his eyes. I hate his baggy suits. I hate his exceedingly long red tie. I hate his constant whining. I hate his constant complaints about how unfair to him the entire world is. I hate his constant lies. I hate his insults of politicians or, for that matter, anybody who doesn’t bow down in slavish obeisance to him. I hate what he has done to this country‘s reputation around the world. I hate how he has insulted and alienated our allies. I hate how he has sucked up to some of the worst dictators in the world. I hate that he has stood by, idle and silent, as his good friend Putin has paid Afghan insurgents a bounty for each American soldier they kill. I hate that his response to any credible report of misdoing by him and his fellow miscreants is to call it a hoax. I hate that he has bungled America's response to the coronavirus pandemic so badly that more than 183,000 Americans have died -- many unnecessarily -- of this virus. I hate that he and his fellow rethuglicans continue to put a greater value on money than on human lives. I hate his arrogance that has grown to the point where he and his fellow mobsters no longer pretend to do the right thing. I hate his defense of white supremacists and the Confederate flag -- a symbol of a failed attempt to destroy the union and continue the enslavement of millions of people.

So yeah, this administration has driven me to hate. I refuse to watch or listen to any news story that includes him. I am astounded that current voter polls show that far too many voters still support this illiterate, corrupt, incompetent buffoon. I pray that our country will survive until this chump is voted out of office. I hope that those who voted for him in 2016 will open their eyes and come to their senses. Far from making America great, he has cost thousands of people their lives, millions their jobs, and made this country a pitiable laughingstock to the world.

I believe that once he is gone (preferably behind bars), my need to hate will disappear. Hating is not a thing I want to do. Hating doesn't affect the object of one's hate, but it does hurt the hater. For that reason, and that reason alone, I am trying not to hate him and all that he stands for.

But it is an uphill battle.