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.

Resist

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. https://www.indivisibleguide.com/

Resist


Photo credit: marcn via Foter.com / 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.

Marching Forward

What a year! What an election! My recent posts make no secret of where I stand on Donald Trump’s presidency. If you voted for him, I hope you can reconcile the damage he is going to do to this country. If you voted for him and have buyer’s remorse, join us. It’s not too late. (Hey, it happens. My vote for GWB was followed by immediate regret.) If you didn’t vote for anyone, shame on you. If you voted for Hillary… or Gary…or even Jill, we have a lot of work ahead of us. Our marching orders have arrived, and they are pink.

I’m sad to say, I didn’t get a hat. I know I can still knit one. It may come in handy in the future. I’m relatively sure there wasn’t a run on pink yarn in my conservative town. Fortunately the color of my rain jacket happens to be the color of the resistance.

My original plan was to march in Portland with a friend, but her plans changed. Her husband would be joining her, and they were making a weekend of it. Figuring out the logistics of parking and meet-ups was too daunting. Then the Portland inauguration day protests took a violent turn (damn anarchists), which made me reluctant to head into the masses solo. I would go to Eugene instead.

After spending all of Friday cooped up and feeling powerless, binging on chocolate and watching news shows, I woke up Saturday refreshed and with a clear focus. I turned on a live stream of the DC march and was immediately infused with hope. I made one last plea for companions to join me and got no takers. My male support system doesn’t do pink. (I’m still working on that.) No biggie. I might go alone, but I sure wouldn’t be alone.

I was early and went directly to the parking garage suggested on the Facebook page. I found myself in a line of cars circling in vain up and around the structure. I finally found a parking spot blocks away from downtown, pitying the people who arrived later.

The meet-up area in front of the courthouse was packed. The crowd had overflowed into the still-active road by the time I got there. People of all ages, ethnicities, and genders were packed like sardines. I normally avoid crowds at all costs, but sometimes you have to make a sacrifice for the cause. I couldn’t hear any speakers, so at that point it was a matter of waiting, of lending my presence to a movement, of giving substance to my voice.

Marching orders were slow in coming. People around me were getting impatient. We didn’t know if it was a lack of organization/communication or if there were that many people who had filled in behind us. A drone hovered overhead and all eyes looked up and pointed signs. Finally a group to the side of me decided to peel away and walk down the next street, and slowly but surely, we began to move, a long, slow parade of people with hand-made signs touting different agendas who all came together as a statement that differing ideas were okay, but dividing us was not.

There were chants of not my president. I couldn’t lend my voice to that one. For better or worse, he is my president, but that doesn’t give him license to do whatever he wants. As America Fererra said, the president isn’t America; we are America. Lest anyone forget that, there were chants of this is what democracy looks like. That one I can get behind, and that one I will defend with everything at my disposal.

And so I marched. I marched with young and old. I marched with gay people and straight. I marched with mothers and children, fathers and sons. I marched for the future, for inclusion, for justice. I marched for the world I want my children to live in.

There is strength in numbers. We’ve shown we are strong. We must resist. Failure is not an option.

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Yes!
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Did I mention I don’t do crowds?

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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

Build-Up Economics

I’ve been a news junkie lately. I can’t help it. It’s the election, and the subsequent insecurity about what changes will take place in my beloved country. I live on the edge of fear and a feeling of being activated, and I have oh, so many questions.

Today, for example, I was watching a segment of Morning Joe in which they were discussing the future of manufacturing in America. They were talking about the loss of jobs to cheaper labor in Mexico and China, about how $35/hr wages were being replaced with $15/hr wages here in my country, and that was compared to $5/hr in Mexico and $2.5/hr in China. If you listen to the pundits, the vast midwest was a deciding force in our election, and it’s full of people who lost good-paying jobs due to trade deals. So what’s the solution?

On this segment of the program, they discussed the realities of these jobs returning. The prospect was bleak. Automation is geared to replace workers, despite a return of manufacturing. My husband is the warehouse manager of a seed production warehouse. Even here they have automated, increasing production and making a backbreaking job much easier. Fifty pound bags of seed travel by conveyor belt instead of being hoisted from seed filler to pallet, as was the case when he started working there. Still, when he comes home complaining about the attitudes of the guys who work for him, their complaints about the hard work and long hours, I hear in his voice the frustration of dealing with actual human beings. On occasion he’s expressed the desire to fully automate. So where does that leave the American worker?

The issues are real. I can’t imagine right now stressing about my family’s future, but I’ve been in that position. I understand the desire to change, to find something else, something that might work, anything that might work. I can even kind of understand the nostalgia of going back to a time of production and employment that benefitted everyone.

Then my scientific mind kicks into gear and I think of osmosis. For those of you who are not scientifically inclined, osmosis is the process in which a solution is striving for equilibrium. If you put water that has salt water next to fresh water, separated by a semi-permeable membrane that only lets water molecules through, the water will migrate to the salt water space seeking equilibrium. I’ve often thought of this with regard to Mexico and illegal immigration. I used to wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to help Mexico improve its economy and standard of living for its own people. After all, who wants to uproot his or her life, travel to a country where you don’t speak the language, live in crowded conditions, and save as much as possible to send home? It’s a cost/benefit scenario. Osmosis. People who have little in the way of resources migrate to a place of greater resources because the resources can’t get through the membrane in the opposite direction. Societies, like solutions, striving for equilibrium.

Now we have an imbalance in economy. Wages in the U.S. are high, though still not a living wage for many. It’s still cheaper to ship supplies across the Pacific, assemble them, and ship them back than to make them locally.

I live in a small, conservative area that was hit hard by a decline in logging. People are budget minded, I get it. Still, the people of my town who probably voted for Donald Trump are the ones who support the king of low-cost shopping, Wal-Mart. They eat at Taco Bell and were excited when the new, expanded McDonald’s opened up. I know this because I watch it unfold on a daily basis over social media.

So here’s my question: Why do we look toward one person for solutions to this issue when there’s really a lot we can do for ourselves?

Personally, I choose not to shop at Wal-Mart if I can avoid it.If I do end up at Wal-Mart, I will stand in line and avoid the self-checker at all costs. I don’t want to see jobs replaced with automation. I don’t mind spending a little extra for human contact and the knowledge that people in my town have a chance to bring home a paycheck, however small it may be. I will buy the same products from employee-owned Bi-Mart, often for the same price or slightly cheaper. But those products are still mass produced overseas. Some things I have little control over. I’m hoping that my daily decisions have an impact, however small. I’ve heard that within a few years, most products will be distributed using self-driving trucks, putting many, many people out of work.

It’s all about choice. Do we want cheap and mass produced, or do we want a sense of community and national pride at being able to say we produced it ourselves? We live in the time of kickstarters, where a good idea and some people who believe enough in the idea to provide a little backing can transform the lives of whoever is associated with that supply chain. I’ve always thought that my little town could easily set up a small production of a specialized product, a quality apparel item, a craft food product, or sporting good. Small and specialized might be the way of the future. Of course you have to be in a good financial spot to even consider this, and that’s what many people in my country are struggling for right now.

We need to make some tough decisions. I realize that I’m at a good place in my life right now to be able to say I’d take quality over quantity or economy. It took time to get here. It took a vision of a scaled back life, where a smaller home and years of used cars allowed for freedom of financial choices. I think this is something to aspire to. We used to eat in all of the time. Now I’d rather pay a couple dollars more to eat at a local restaurant than to funnel my money up through a chain restaurant to an executive at the top. I’d rather buy my kids bottled soda on rare occasions than boxes of Coke that are on sale at the local Safeway. Even produce can be procured at local farmer’s markets, beautiful, sometimes unique foods that are fresh and support local people. (Though I noticed that local markets often buy local produce.) Those of us who can, should support this local economy.

Committing ourselves to each other needs to be a part of the national discussion. Billionaires are stingy folk. That’s how they got and kept their money. Trickle down economics don’t work. We need to take care of each other.


Photo credit: Tom Simpson via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Table Talk

A table dressed
In Autumn red and gold,
Flickering tapers beckon –
Come,
Eat,
Share.

The feast awaits –
An amber bird, trussed and tied,
Overflowing with succulent stuffing,
Rests in a fragrant cloud of scent,
Next to humble mashed potatoes
And glistening candied yams,
Sensible salad and unassuming rolls.
A hush of appreciation falls
As the finely dressed are seated
Before the best china and crystal,
Spreading linen cloths across their laps.

Hand in hand,
A mumbled prayer of thanks
For goodness given,
Is all too soon
Drowned out by pungent words
As battle lines are drawn.

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.

 

Look to our Leaders

Dear Middle America,

I know your heart. I live on an arteriole of your productive farming and logging community. I am surrounded by people whose families are still reeling from mill shutdowns and farmers who scoff at the idea of a 40 hour workweek. I feel your pain. My community has been hurt by changes in our world. Spotted owl stew is still being offered up on the metaphorical menu. I hear your voice. You feel drowned out. You want the country of your grandparents back. Nostalgia is a sweet feeling. It’s the feeling I get when I look back on pictures of my kids and smile at the good old day. But we can’t go back. What we had is gone, morphed, changed, and its up to us to morph and change with it.

Sincerely,
A Fellow American

Maybe in the America of today we identify with the wrong metaphor. The idea of our country being a melting pot originated with a play of the same name in 1908. But it’s a flawed metaphor. It creates the illusion that our identities can be melted down and fused with others. That doesn’t accurately define what this country is. Maybe our country could be better described as a tapestry of rich, intertwined threads. We should exercise care in tugging on those threads, lest the whole fabric of America unravel.

We are a country of immigrants. Some of us came here by choice, some by force. Some of us were original inhabitants of this land and must be wearing a very ironic smile at the talk of taking our country back. Yet here we are, all converging on this point in time together. In light of all of this, maybe it’s time for a little history lesson.

Throughout our short history we have accepted many to our shores. In the early days of our country, citizenship was granted to “free white people” of “good moral character” with a two year residency requirement. That was changed under Adams to fifteen years and back to five under Jefferson. It’s important to remember that during this time forced immigration was occurring due to the slave trade with no prospect of citizenship to this addition to the American population.

As the years passes, our United States was flooded with wave after wave of immigrants fleeing crop failures, social unrest, industrialization, religious intolerance, pogroms, and poverty. Laws were created to admit some and deny admittance to others. Fears that our country would be undermined and taken over by the Germans, the Catholics, and the Eastern Europeans were very real. But has this happened? Have we become an arm of Germany? Has the Pope wrested control of our nation? Or have we have taken these immigrants in and incorporated them into the tapestry of America? Today the descendents of such immigrants are our professors and policemen, judges and farmers, inventors and data entry clerks, though many of their grandparents and great-grandparents began as laborers and domestics who themselves endured the ire of the citizenry. Immigration laws have changed over the years, but what hasn’t changed is the vision of America as a place where people go to belong, where their thread can be woven into history, where their children have a chance to join the great American experiment. (And who among us in not included in the “they?”)

This election has brought a lot of ugliness to the surface. People who don’t look like that handful of pilgrims fleeing religious persecution who landed at Plymouth Rock so long ago, people who are second or third generation Americans are left reeling as they are told to go back where they came from. Even in my relatively sheltered existence, the truth of the Trump effect is hitting home. People who just days ago fit into the American tapestry are looking around, wondering just who they can trust, and it’s up to many of us to hold the fabric of our collective identity together with safety pins. Just try searching the hashtag #Trumpeffect on Twitter to see what many of the people who share this country are experiencing after this election. It’s vile. The KKK is having an outright victory parade. These are dark days. How far have we sunk as a country that any of this would be okay?

News outlets are reporting that this past election had the lowest voter turnout in two decades. The nature of the election may have caused some to sit it out thinking they couldn’t stomach their choices. I’ve heard people say they couldn’t vote for Hillary because she sounded shrill or because they didn’t want to see a woman in charge. This saddens me to no end. I cringe to think that Trump’s speeches inspired the hateful supporters who were shouting “lock her up” and who threatened to exercise their second amendment rights if their candidate was not elected. Some of those people are the ones decrying the current exercise of the first.

For those of you who are watching the #notmypresident protests unfold and are crying foul, those of you who, like me, believe in the peaceful transfer of power, look at who you’ve elected. Look closely. Play devil’s advocate for a moment and consider the arguments of the other side. Think of the possibility that you’ve been hoodwinked, that maybe the version of reality that’s been trotted out before you is not what you’re going to get.

If you are one of the many who wanted to be heard, to whom this was a protest vote in and of itself, we hear you. Let me offer this: Instead of a man who has a history of lies and evasion, who has manipulated the election, who will probably never again be seen wearing a baseball cap, who hasn’t released his tax returns… instead of this man, look to the true leaders of the common man. Bernie Sanders has a history of standing up for us, the people. Look it up. He’s still here, fighting for us. Look to Michael Moore, who predicted this win not because he supports Trump, but because he’s had his finger on the pulse of downtrodden middle America for a long, long time. I’m going to argue that we can’t have a top-down approach at this point in our country. The top has been compromised, including Donald Trump.

We are shaking the tapestry of America by exercising our first amendment right to protest. Like the flag unfurling in a tempest, it ripples and roils. When the storm dies down, we must ensure it remains intact.

I’ll leave you with the whole sonnet written by Emma Lazarus that graces the base of the Statue of Liberty:

New Colossus

statue of liberty poem

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Let’s not let it come to this:


Photo credit: On Location in Los Angeles via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND