Desensitizing the USA – Trumplandia

Photo credit: Geoff Livingston on / CC BY-NC-ND

I have a confession. I used to respect the office of the president, no matter who held it. I no longer do. Respect must be earned. Even worse, I used to believe our checks and balances would get us through anything. I am questioning this now. Our Constitution is only as good as the voters who choose people to uphold it, and they seem too easily swayed by fame and “fortune,” too easily conned by an adulterous cheat who claims to uphold Christian values.

We have undergone a year-long desensitization in the U.S. toward all things ugly and mean. There is no longer any shock value to what our president says about anyone or anything, regardless of what those in the media would have us believe. For me, the shock came during the race for the presidency, where he mocked a disabled man and, in true middle-school bully manner, gave ugly nicknames to his opponents. He apparently, through his wealth and power, quashed stories of his philandering and sexual predation, but we knew. I thought right would prevail and people would choose decency. I was wrong.

Now my reaction is only sadness.

How low have we sunk as a country that we are willing to push all this man’s indecencies to the side and accept him as our leader? He’s not even a good leader. He doesn’t inspire or pull people together. His vitriolic speech and tweets divide and anger the many who disagree with his gated-community vision of the world, and guess what – they are not all people of color. He pulls on a trucker cap and speaks in an uneducated slurry of superlatives, the con man who tells us to trust him. Is this a good sell for people?

I don’t understand.

Sometimes I see Donald Trump with the eyes of a parent or a teacher. I am both. I have seen these behaviors before. Kids who are starved for attention will try with any means possible to get it, and if they are not noticed for good behavior, they will pour on the bad. I don’t think our president ever got the tough love response of ignoring the temper tantrums that would have helped him develop a deeper character. He’s a paper cutout, a simplistic, greedy man who, like a child, is all about himself. His willingness to “help” our country is only insofar as it helps or boosts him. He is not one of us, no matter how many red hats he puts on.

I long for the day when I can respect the office of the presidency once again. May that day come soon.

For my evangelical friends who believe this wolf in sheep’s clothing, let me leave this here for you. Wake up.

When wealth is lost, nothing is lost;
When health is lost, something is lost;
When character is lost, all is lost.
~Billy Graham


Almost There

It’s been a year unlike any other I’ve experienced in my lifetime, a year of uncertainty mixed with sadness at people of faith trampling the values I’ve held so dear for most of that lifetime – humility, kindness toward others, community-mindedness, selflessness. It’s been a year of selfishness and greed, a year where stewards of the land circle the wagons against an imposing army of extraction industries. It’s been a year of vindictiveness and anger toward people who are content with letting others live as they see fit (pursuit of happiness, anyone?) and dredging the rivers of cash to more fully fund the well-funded. It’s been a year of statues over people, of incompetency at the highest levels, of America’s dirty laundry flying for the world to see.

And I’ve been hiding.

A good friend of mine, a sensitive, caring woman who would raid her pantry to feed anyone, was beset with a auto-immune malady after the election of Donald Trump. Her system couldn’t take the stress. She has finally found balance and peace through nature, and after about six months her rash went away, allowing her to re-enter her social circles. I didn’t have an auto-immune response, but I do feel like a turtle who has pulled into her shell of self-preservation. No writing to speak of; no words were there. Just stress and more stress. Instead I turned to my photography – visualizing the world I want to surround myself with, a world carefully created and preserved by dedicated conservationists.

The year is almost over, and this funk I’ve been in, this fog, is lifting. I still wake every day with the stress of not knowing how my world might be upended. I fear war for the first time in ages. I have a constant finger on the pulse of our institutions, whose failure might affect my mixed Hispanic-American family. I wonder daily if 1930s Germany could happen here.

But a shell is a confining place to be, and my creative muse is pushing at the boundaries. It’s lean, starving, hungry – and the muse must be fed.

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls, Oregon

I am heartbroken, along with much of Oregon. A group of young people were hiking in an area to the east of Multnomah Falls, and apparently one of them thought it would be funny to throw a smoke bomb from a trail down into a ravine. Fireworks. Into the dry forest. In August. Now this whole area is a raging inferno, zero percent contained.

The earth is resilient. It will recover, but it will never be the same in my lifetime. I am grateful for the many times we braved the crowds and headed to this beautiful, popular location, most recently after the ice storm, when it was the coldest cold I’ve ever experienced, and again last May when I took my car to Portland to be serviced. That last time was a spontaneous decision to drive over after my appointment just to take a few pictures and drink in the forest beauty before heading home. It may have been the last time I will ever see it like this.

Sometimes it only takes one person to ruin it for everyone. Treasure that which you hold dear.

Blocking the Opponent

Let me start off by admitting that I’ve never been much of an athlete. I tried track in high school and got 4th out of 4 by hanging back to encourage a teammate during the mile. (She had the nerve to sprint ahead of me at the finish!) I was the kid shooting granny-shots in middle school basketball during the last 5 minutes of a winning game. So maybe my view is skewed, and maybe I have this wrong, but allow me an attempt at an analogy.

I remember during that middle-school basketball experience learning how to plant my body in front of my opponent to impede his progress. I don’t remember the name of the move, but I do remember that it was risky. Placing yourself in front of a charging, basketball-wielding player intent on hitting the goal might cause you, upon contact, to go flying across the court. It was also tricky. Not fully planting your feet would cause a foul call upon you. Your job as defense was to plant your feet firmly and road-block your opponent.

Progressives are now playing defense. Not only that, but we are playing against the team that is known for playing dirty, and they’ve probably bought the refs. But we can use and must use this play.

It’s time to dig in our heels and not chase down the players. It’s time to plant ourselves firmly in front of the player with the ball and not move. He may, and probably will, get around us, but hopefully we’ve given the blockers time to move into position to successfully throw the ball back to us. The opposition may score a few points, but this is a game we must win. Our democracy depends upon it.


There’s a whisper growing louder
(Have you heard?) –
Voices lost now being found
Sweeping up the scattered words,

Whipped by robust winds –
They are landing in the streets.
Upon people of all walks of life
They’ve found a pulsing beat

The heartbeat of America
A promise to deliver
As immigrants and native souls
Create a human river.

Words splatter over painted signs,
And rise from voices strong
Of dedicated people
Who sing their country’s song –

They sing of lofty principles
Inscribed on fragile paper,
By men of foresight long ago
Lest they dissipate like vapor.

These words are seared upon the hearts
Of freedom loving folk,
We are all created equal
And won’t accept the yoke

Of stubborn inequality,
Of silencing our voices.
Remember soon the season comes
When we renew our choices.

Until then we claim these words,
We use them as our tools,
Of building our foundation
That precludes your silly rules.

We stand together strong and proud
And raise collective fists
Declaring our autonomy
And pledging to resist.

Join us.


Photo credit: marcn via / CC BY

When confronted with the Holocaust, one question many of us have is why didn’t the German people see this coming and stop it? Sane people recognize that Hitler was a madman. He somehow managed to pull people into his cause, to harness the energy of darkness and squelch the light. He was given license to commit atrocities against millions of people in a dark cloud of torture and killing that hangs over humanity to this day. So why didn’t the German people stop it?

Maybe they didn’t see it coming.

I remember as a child playing outside all afternoon. The sun would be going down and twilight descending over the land, but we could still see, so we remained outside. Only after coming into the light and looking out did we realize how dark it had actually become. This is what is happening to my America right now. Twilight is descending in the form of bans and firing of the acting A.G. It is enveloping us with the inclusion of an avowed white nationalist as a major player on the security council. Darkness is encroaching with attacks on our free press. For the moment, we can still see, but for how much longer.

Someone recently told me she couldn’t understand why people are protesting. She made a comment that good people had jobs and couldn’t be leaving their jobs to spend their lives protesting, insinuating that protesters are not working people. I pointed out that when a cause is sufficiently important, even working people make the time to protest. I live too far away from a major airport, or I would contribute one of my days off to joining in to protest the Muslim ban (or travel ban, or whatever alternative reality label you want to slap on it). I recognize the injustice of the EO, and I will add it to my ever-growing list of things to stand up against, policies that are not reflective of our American identity of leadership in the world and inclusion (ultimately) of our immigrants.

May we learn from Hilter’s Germany. Resistance begins with us.

As I finished typing this I got a notification that the senate had approved Mnuchin and Price without Democrats present by suspending the rules. Welcome to your new America. I encourage you to support your free press. Subscribe to a newspaper. Support the ACLU. Above all, resist.

A New Day

It’s a new day, America.

I watched our new president’s inauguration speech this morning on YouTube/PBS. Being the stubborn person I am, I refused to watch it live and increase any potential ratings. As I watched, and you must watch to get the full effect, I started hearing ominous background music in my head, the kind that comes at the start of The Hunger Games or any other movie where you know the politician in charge is up to no good and you’re all going to be screwed.

The gist? We’re going to make America great again, damn it. How are we going to do it? Well, with police and military, protectionism and patriotism (read nationalism). In this speech we found out that the blood of all patriots is the same color regardless of the color of their skin. (Do I need to add that the blood of everyone else in the world is also the same color? Such rhetoric.) We’re going to end the “carnage” of inner city drugs and gangs and make sure Americans are first.

I don’t know about you, but I found the use blood and carnage in an inauguration speech horrifying, especially given the tone. This is not your Obama hope and inclusion speech.

America, I fear there are dark days ahead. Women will march tomorrow in solidarity, sending a message that our voices count to a man who claims to be for us, the people, but has a penchant for sexual assault and misogyny. And it won’t just be women marching, but the men in our lives who support us. We won’t be silenced.

But I imagine they will try.

One part of the president’s speech rankled me.

At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.

I consider myself a patriotic person. I am not a flag-waver, singing “Proud to be and American” at the top of my lungs. I’m a quiet patriot. If you come after my country, I will be there to defend it through words or whatever implement I have on hand. But I understand that in our country, there is room for dissenting views. That’s the essence of the First Amendment. What will constitute a “total allegiance” to the USA, and who will decide what loyalty to our country means? For example, to me, loyalty to our country means honoring the free press and the constitutional amendments. It also means working with the system and not refusing to even hear a supreme court nomination. It means listening to our intelligence community and giving credence to the work they risk their lives to provide. I imagine under the Trump administration, “total allegiance” will take on a more sinister tone of agreement with the powers that be. I hope I’m wrong.

Our allegiance is to the United States of America, to its institutions and its Constitution, an ideal put to paper that we must defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Yet we must be very clear about what that threat is. Burning a flag is deplorable, but not a threat to the greatness of the United States. Clamping down free speech is.

It’s a new day, America, a day to ask yourself if you are willing to risk exposure and speak up against any and all attempts to destroy our freedoms? Stand up. Speak up. Don’t risk losing those rights.

They’re Here

Mercilessly they came,
Gnashing their teeth,
War whoops televised over broadcast news.

Slyly they came,
With a wink and a nod,
Manipulating words and ideas through the airwaves.

Smugly they came,
Tweeting their way into power,
Lambasting the good and worthy throughout the internet.

Slowly they rose,
Climbing on the willing backs
Of those already bent from daily pressures none of them would ever face.

And a chant rang out,
“Lock her up” and “Build that wall,”
Inoculations activating a hard shell of resistance…

To ideas…

To community…

To differences.

Joyfully they came,
Looting and pillaging their aim,
As the shining city on the hill sat vacuously waiting.

In response to The Daily Post’s prompt: Pillage

Happy Holidays

I have to keep reminding myself that it’s the Christmas season. It could be the insanity of the past few weeks of planning, preparing, and packing, the 1,250 mile road trip, a graduation, a wedding, and/or anxiety over what I view as a disastrous election result that have stripped me of my usual Christmas cheer. Whatever the reason, I am caught off guard when someone wishes me best wishes of the season.

I’m oblivious to the lights lining the street, winding up trees and framing unfamiliar shop windows. I don’t see the happy shoppers bustling through stores on their mission to find the perfect gifts. I look back at the pictures of my son’s wedding and suddenly realize there’s a Christmas tree there.

Christmas. The season of cheer. Of generosity.

On my Facebook feed amid the sweet personal stories of grandchildren and funny memes reminding us of the bigger things in life, there was a comment related to Governor Kate Brown calling for a French revolution and bringing back the guillotine. This was yesterday. Happy Holidays. Twitter is full of vicious reminders that their guy won, that I should just get over it. Merry Christmas. Exit polls tell us that 80% of Evangelicals voted for a man thrice married, a man who has demeaned women, who has defrauded people of their hard-earned money, who lies constantly, a man who is stirring the pot of world instability before he even takes office. Have a blessed holiday season.

Don’t get me wrong. I am happy. Thrilled. Proud. My eldest graduated with honors… in science! He now holds a degree in physics and astronomy. I also have a new lovely and intelligent daughter-in-law who loves that son. At this moment my close little family surrounds me, and I am grateful for their warmth.


But outside my little bubble the world has ominous clouds building on the horizon.

And I have to keep reminding myself that it is Christmas.



Seeping In

We’ve had a week to percolate
A thousand words to navigate,
It’s up to us to find the truth
That’s hidden in the voting booth;
Cryptic meetings, cracking code
May lead us down a dark, dark road
A small machine that stands alone
While Sally goes to get the phone,
A small adjustment, just a smidge
Is all it takes to burn that bridge.
Now exit polls don’t match results,
But we can take this; we’re adults.
Concessions speech that asks for peace,
And hope, and for a wide release.
We split, and while a segment cheers
Others must confront their fears,
Voices raised in deep despair,
Asking, how can this be fair?
How can a campaign run on blame
By a man who gained his fame
Through TV shows and business fails
Be asked to hoist the country’s sails?
A man who counsels with our foe.
Who knows where this whole thing may go?
But wait! you cry, Hold up! It’s good.
He’s our president. You should
Accept him now. Give him a chance.
To nothing give a backward glance,
Not to the stories where he proclaimed
Our president moot; a crowd inflamed.
Where’s that form?” He asked for years,
A plea that fell on willing ears
Of people who’d been trained to follow
News” that to the rest rang hollow.
Words we’d never heard before
Came crashing through that campaign door,
Pussy grabbing; at fever pitch
Lock her up,” and Trump that Bitch
If we don’t like the way this goes
It’s rigged, the 2A folks will show
The rest of you. We’ll right a wrong
With a seething, stewing, angry throng
Those emails proved that she was bad,
He takes to Twitter, says it’s sad.
You listened, voted, made your choice
And now the people raise their voice.
Which at present they are guaranteed,
As to the future, we shall see.
Appointments from the alt-right crowd –
Don’t normalize. We must get loud.
A son-in-law who must know all,
Now give your congressman a call.
Your civic duty doesn’t stop
Once you make your ballot drop.
Make donations, join a group,
By all means stay within the loop,
Democracy means do your part
And fight for your rights with all your heart.

Here’s a throwback to a great speech by a great American.

Hope. Change. Unity.

Good words. Let’s not forget them, though the times seem dark.