Posts Tagged With: Politics

The Annual 4th of July Post

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I’m going to preface this entry by saying that I’m a closet rampant Christian.  Or, not closet exactly… I just believe that there’s many ways to reach God and that Christianity is a good one, but I know it doesn’t work for everyone as amazingly well as it works for me. So, I tend to keep quieter than some.  I mean, it’s not like you’re NOT gonna hear the message of Jesus in America today…

I’m putting in this preface because I’m going to get a little religious on you at the end.

I’ve been feeling like a big fuddy-duddy this year about the 4th of July, and if I’m feeling it you better believe it’s bad.  I’m usually all about breaking out the tricorn hat and ’76 flag while humming Stars and Stripes Forever and carrying a sparkler. But America IS NOT living up to what it should be in ways so profound that I’m not even sure we qualify as a democracy at this point.  A fascist oligarchy? Maybe.  Democracy?  I don’t know.  I’m hoping we can get back to a semblance of democracy soon.

I’ve always been a proponent of the fact that the 4th of July is a day to revel in the promise of America, the US that never actually can be because it’s an ideal.  It’s a day to party it up, think of freedom and founding fathers, listen to a little fife music, and gain stamina for the fight to make the actual US match the fantasy US.  If we bathe in the America that could be for a day, we can better work towards that actuality in the coming year. A little bit closer, the years bending toward justice.

I just didn’t want to do that this year.   I see the country standing for so much hatred to the point where we’re not even acknowledging the humanity of children.  Where do we even go from here? Is there a bottom lower than this one?  I don’t want there to be.  I didn’t want to ponder or celebrate America at all right now.

Still, in church this morning we had a little America celebration.  We sang My Country ‘Tis Of Thee and America The Beautiful among other things.  The sermon was on making apologies for deep wrongs.  I sat in that sanctuary, sang all the verses, and found that maybe I did feel okay about celebrating the 4th after all.  Because the Founding Fathers knew that this was a fraught experiment with potential for abuse, but they also knew their scrappy citizens who cling to liberty with both hands.

I want to point you to two verses in each of the songs from this morning:

O beautiful for heroes proved, in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee.
Till selfish gain no longer stain, the banner of the free!

Our fathers’ God to Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing. Long may our land be bright, With freedom’s holy light, Protect us by Thy might, Great God our King.

I think that this 4th is going to be more of a religious holiday for me this year.  I’ll be praying for everyone to be crowned with brotherhood, for selfish gain to no longer stain the banner of the free, for God to protect us with freedom’s holy light.  I’m hoping that the fireworks will shine like a benediction on these prayers on Wednesday night as they light up the firmament.

And then on the 5th, I’m going to fight like hell again to secure the blessings of liberty for myself and my posterity.

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On Virginia

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I just don’t even know what to say about Virginia this weekend.  I’m so tired of this stuff that I don’t know what to do at this point, nor do I really feel like doing something is going to help much.

I mean, I live in California.  I donate as much as I can afford to the ACLU.  I’m 100% against Nazism, as is everyone I know.  I don’t have hopes that anything I do will make the president denounce these people, or that by saying something I can make these folks feel ashamed of themselves.  I’m tired.  I just don’t want to do it anymore.

I will also say that I 100% realize that being tired so easily and being able to just give up is a function of my own white privilege.  I’m blonde and blue-eyed.  The Neo-Nazis are gonna leave me alone if I ignore them.  Not everyone can say that.

But I’m still at a loss.  I don’t know what I can do that will make a difference in a world where we have a president that is more outraged by Nordstrom’s refusal to carry his daughter’s handbag line than he is by alt-right terrorism.  I don’t know what to do in a world where that galvanizes his supporter base instead of alienating it. I don’t want that base to be my friends and neighbors, even though it often is.  Whatever we feel about him and his business sense, I would hope that we could at least agree that domestic terrorism isn’t okay.

I wish I had more to offer besides a refusal to be silent despite my strong desire to toss up my hands.  I don’t have any salient points, and I’ll admit it.

The whole episode makes me think of the time when Neo-Nazis protested in Claremont, oh – not quite 10 years ago now.  I read that it was happening in the Courier, and everyone was flummoxed.  There weren’t actually any Neo-Nazi groups in Claremont, but for some reason they had picked the city for their protest.

I’m not even sure if they were actually protesting anything so much as they were trying to be ornery in a city they knew wouldn’t be pleased.  There was an entire corner of counter-protestors that was bigger than the Neo-Nazi group.  I had thought about joining them several days before-hand, but I had to work that morning so that ended the ambivalence.

I did drive through the intersection on my way to work, though.  I was struck by how unhappy the Neo-Nazi’s seemed.  It wasn’t even an angry fervor.  The entire crowd of them had that pissed rebellious-child look that made me think they all REALLY didn’t want to be there.  They stood quietly behind their banner with those insolent looks on their face, using their laminated canvas like a shield, sulking.

It was the counter-protest corner that was alive.  Colorful homemade signs flew above the crowd, and the throng chanted and writhed on their corner, insisting that the Neo-Nazis weren’t welcome and shouting messages of peace.  The vibe was not at all what I would expect.  The Neo-Nazi’s looked back at them in silence, just giving them and the police the stink-eye.

Police directed the traffic through the intersection, and made sure that the two corners across from each other didn’t mingle.

It was non-violent.  I only had that 3-minute glimpse of it all before the policeman waved me through the intersection and I sped to the freeway ramp in the distance. It stuck in my mind, though.  Why would the Neo-Nazi’s purposefully go to a city to make them pissed and then just end up silently pissed themselves?

Like I said, I don’t have anything to offer really.  Just that small memory.

Maybe I should try and get up some patriotic gumption ala West Wing; that this country is remarkable because it seeks to protect even those who would destroy it.  People died, though, and I don’t think I can quite manage it right now.

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A Bad Week

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This week has been a hard one, and I’m not even quite sure why except for the obvious.  The things that are happening in this country make me sad and worried.

 

Social media isn’t making it any better.  I keep waiting for the world to implode into WWIII or Civil War Part II, and my feed just confirms it all.  Whatever it is you worry about, it’s right there happening.  There are glimmers of hope of course, but not enough of them.

Couple that with my Jury Duty experience, and the world seems extra-bleak right now.

Yup, I had Jury Duty that started last Thursday and went through to today, my first time having to appear at the courthouse. I was placed on a trial almost immediately after arriving with 100 other jurors.  about 40 were excused post-haste since the trial was supposed to last until mid-March and they had conflicts or their work wouldn’t pay that long.  I found out yesterday that it was a double shooting murder charge.  The defendant wasn’t trying to claim he didn’t shoot the guy, either.  He was just claiming it was self-defense.  I ultimately was excused after jury selection was finished – I wasn’t even questioned.  That means I can talk about it.

It was an experience unlike anything else, and very interesting.  The thing I keep thinking about is this:

The prosecutor kept asking the jury panel if they felt sympathy for the defendant, who was sitting right there.  She pointed at him.  He was young and might have been handsome if you could think of him as anything but a giant accusation, in a thick mans-man way.  He had a buzzed haircut and deep bags under his eyes. He wore the same thing all 3 days of the trial, too – khaki pants and a khaki dress shirt, green tie.  And I just kept thinking that the entire panel must have been lying whenever anyone coldly said “no” to her question.

Maybe I didn’t feel sympathy, exactly, but I felt compassion.  This had to be one of the worst days of that guy’s life, and I think it’s maybe even needful that we acknowledge that he’s a human and so were the people who died before we set all that aside and make a cold determination of fault based only on laws and evidence.

It’s probably a good thing I wasn’t questioned…

But it all seems death and destruction right now, between murder and mayhem.  It also seems impossible to pick things up and go to work tomorrow like normal, though I’m sure I’ll find comfort in the routine of it when it arrives.  I would just like something to hope for, I think.  Something that is entirely pure and gleeful, and not the lesser of two bad options.

I’ll just have to keep looking until I find it, I guess.

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Courage

I do not know what it is exactly, but in the 2 work days since Trump officially took office it feels like Facebook is burning down with politics and horribleness.  I know we expected this, but I didn’t expect it so soon, guys.  I had planned to write a blog post about the women’s march, but I feel like people are fighting over even that these days.  And that, to be honest, was more fun, communal, and inspiring than the militantly hostile or revolutionary event non-supporters seem to think it was.

So I will spare you the politics and plan to write about the march another time.

Then I thought I would just put a photo gallery up of some nice things I saw last year, to soothe.  But I realized that I didn’t post much on Instagram last year or even take many photos at all.  The photos I take with my good camera are so much better than the crap I get from my cell phone that I was feeling like I shouldn’t post unless they were the awesome and fancy ones.  I know… I’ve cured myself of that.  I cured myself by realizing the thing I like most about my Instagram feed is that it’s a little record of all the positive stuff that has happened in the year.  So I’m trying not to care about quality and just going for affection.  Quality is bonus.  But most of the nice things that happened last year? Undocumented.

I cannot tell you exactly why I feel this way, but this year seems to be one that is gearing up for a lot of change, and not just in the government.  Nothing definitive has happened yet, but I feel it in the air… the pause before the thunder, the crouch before the jump.  I’ve been reading a lot of Brene Brown in the new year, and I came across this quote of hers, below.  I intend to take it as a motto for this year.  And in this time of tribulation, I especially recommend Rising Strong if you’re looking for some Neosporin for those political wounds.  I read Brene and my path, in life in general, seems a lot easier to bear.

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Because It’s Important:

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I’m writing again today to talk to you about something VERY important, and that’s your vote.  Wait – don’t click away yet.  I’m not gonna launch into any spiels about the presidential candidates.  At this point, I think you’ve probably made up your mind about those two folks.  I’m hearing from a lot of people, though, that because both Clinton and Trump are terrible, they’re just not going to vote at all.  That’s what I’d like to talk about today.

Don’t do it!  Show up!

Here’s why: Elections are SO important, and arguably it’s the stuff happening in your state that is way more important to your daily life than whoever is currently shouting mean things on the TV about Washington.  I can’t speak for other states, but California is electing a new congresswoman for the first time in almost 25 years; the legislature is asking if they should pursue a repeal of Citizen’s United; and there are three (or more, if you want to count the legalization of marijuana one in there) propositions that will decide what our penal systems look like for the next decade or more.  That stuff is something you should weigh in on, that will impact you directly.

And, guess what?  You don’t have to vote for or against everything on your ballot.  Don’t like Hilary and don’t like Trump?  Leave the presidential question blank and vote wholeheartedly and gleefully for your senate candidate.  Don’t care at all about plastic bags?  Leave that one blank too.  It’s okay to vote for some things and not other things.

For example (I don’t want to tell you who to vote for or anything, but…) I’m a HUGE fan of Pete Aguilar, my state congressman.  He runs job fairs all over the place, supports Planned Parenthood, has written a lot of laws that help small local businesses, and sent me a very nice letter after I contacted him about gun control.  I mean, his mom helps him campaign.  I can fill the dot in next to his name without doom and gloom feelings that I’m picking the lesser of two evils.  I genuinely am so glad that man represents me.

There’s something to be excited about in this election.  Maybe it’s not the top of the ticket, but it’s not buried that far down.  I promise.

You still have the whole weekend to look at everything and make a decision on how you feel.  I urge you to at least give it a trial.  League of Women Voters and NPR both have non-partisan information on propositions and candidates if you just put in your address, which I always find is a good place to start.  Your work is required to give you time off to get to a polling place near you.  You can do this.  I believe in you.

And thank you.  This whole ‘having a democratic country’ thing works much better when all of us are participating.

That’s my two cents.

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Politics of the Supernatural Kind

I can’t even today.  Every time I think that a certain political candidate could not possibly make me angrier, I somehow get more incensed.  It’s at the point now where I know I have to disengage or give myself an aneurism from all the angstyness that people are STILL supporting this – I don’t even feel like there’s a word bad enough to call him – candidate.  My only consolation is that it will all be over in about 4 weeks (for better or worse).

I was thinking about doing a post about all the feminist reasons to abhor this man, but I realized that all that info is out there in spades on the internet.  And this isn’t a political blog, it’s a book/writing blog.

So, escapism it is!

I don’t know about you, but I prefer my politics with a heavy dose of magic and/or the supernatural.  So instead of a rant, I present to you 4 Fantasy books in which the government plays an active character. But don’t worry, it’s not anything like your government today.  Have at them and try and forget that America is such a mess right now.

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Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell: There’s a new big box store going into the sleepy hamlet of Lychford.  Local crank Judith doesn’t care a bit about jobs or modernization, but she does care about the site plan.  Lychford lies on the boundary of two worlds. If the supermarket is built it will destroy all wards forever, unleashing demonic destruction on the world.  Judith has to convince the town to stop construction, but she’ll need some unlikely allies to make it happen…

The book is spunky and hilarious, with a few serious moments to make it really a good book.  It’s a novella, which means it’s a quick read, and it’s everything you ever wanted in a Walmart fight, with actual demons, witches dancing under the moonlight, fae in the forests, and magic markings on the doors.

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Chalice by Robin McKinley: The last Master and Chalice died in a horrible fire after doing unspeakable things to the land. Now it is up to beekeeper Marisol (the new Chalice) and the old Master’s brother (a priest of fire who may not be quite human anymore) to heal the land and stabilize the country, before the Overlord can launch a coup for power that will certainly damage the land irreparably.

This book is one in which nothing happens and everything happens all at once, like McKinley does best.  It’s so internal, so based on looks and gestures, or subtle power plays.  But you still feel the seriousness of it as you fall in love with the land.  I never put this book down without wanting to move to the middle of nowhere and keep bees with the man I’m in love with.

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The Lives of Christopher Chant by Dianna Wynne Jones: Christopher’s parents are both powerful enchanters who hate each other.  But Christopher himself doesn’t appear to be magical at all, unless you count the marvelous lands he visits in his dreams.  His only friend is his Uncle Ralph, who sends him on missions to bring back things from those strange lands as a game.  But when Christopher is told that he’s supposed to train to become the next Chrestomanci, the president of all magic in the land, his loyalties are thrown out of whack and he isn’t sure who to trust anymore.  Or that he’ll even want to become the next Chrestomanci at all.

I just can’t say enough about this book.  It turns all fantasy tropes on its heels and features one of those perfect Dianna Wynne Jones plots where everything is absolutely nuts, random, and up in the air, but somehow it resolves into a plot that was always perfectly right and organized by the end.  You just didn’t know it. My favorite person in the book is the priestess Asheth.  She always wants Christopher to bring her “exotic” books featuring Millie and her boarding school adventures.  It’s technically a children’s book, but it’s definitely complex and fun for adults, too.

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Voices: Memer is a daughter of the Oracle House, a place the conquerors and occupiers of the town Ansul are sure is filled with demons.  Reading and writing are punishable by death, and Oracle House is the only place that books now exist in the town, locked up in a secret room.  When the famous traveling minstrel, Orrec, arrives with his wife Gry to tell stories to the soldiers, Memer begins to see how important story really is.  Important enough that it could give Ansul back it’s peace and freedom, could give the people enough bravery to rebel against their oppressors.

I don’t know why I’m in love with this book so much, because it’s a serious read that deals with grave topics that surround war.  Memer herself is the daughter of a rape. But Memer is so beloved, and the world so vibrant, that you root for the townsfolk and their freedom wholeheartedly.  It’s got a magic to it that’s hard to define, partly (I think) because it feels so real.  This could be a history of somewhere you’ve never heard of, and it ends with so much hope.

So that’s my recommendation.  As always, happy reading!  And together maybe we can avoid imploding from election drama… Maybe.

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Black and Blue

I sometimes feel like the tragedy never ends in these times.  I’ve been reading salacious romance novels all weekend for a little bit of escape.  That being said, I think there’s a time to process things, and then a time to act.  It’s time to act.

This is a warning that I’m about to get political on you.  Stop reading now if you don’t want any of my liberal political opinions.

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I’m getting to the point where I’m hating to do these things.  But I also feel like the blog is a place with an audience, and we should all be doing something if we can.  I’ve been sad all weekend about the latest African American deaths and the Dallas police shooting.  It feels like the world has been upended.

As always, history gives me a little bit of hope.  A friend of mine asked if this year was the worst we had ever seen.  While it’s the worst one I’ve experienced, your parents and mine were all around for 1963.  That’s when JFK was shot, riots sprang up all over the south about desegregating schools, Birmingham churches were bombed, and the Birmingham riots happened.  That’s the one you always see footage of when you’re looking at civil rights films: police called out the dogs on a peaceful protest (literally) and sprayed people with high power hoses, crushing them to death in a panicked crowd.

I don’t bring it up to pass the buck.  It’s just that sometimes I feel like there’s so much to do that it’s impossible to accomplish anything.  It feels hopeless that our current situation will ever get better, that race will ever be anything but deadly in this country.  It’s a bit helpful to know that, as bad as things are, it’s not rock bottom.  We’re making progress.  We can continue to make more.

The Dallas police were doing the right thing at that protest.  No one was wearing even a Kevlar vest, and they were walking with the protesting crowd, not positioning themselves as against it.  That, my friends, is a whole lot of progress.  It’s just sad that it had to end the way it did.

We only make progress by acting.  And, like it or not, we only make progress when the majority is convinced that things aren’t okay and need to be changed.  If you’re white, that puts the onus on you to stand with the black community.  Not to speak or advise, but to point a finger and say “this is important, listen to this.”

Blue Lives Matter?  Yes they do.  My post on what you can do to further gun control laws is here.  If mentally unstable people didn’t have easy access to weaponry, they couldn’t open-fire on crowds and target police.

Black Lives Matter?  Yes they really, really do.

First, you can read the BLM movement’s list of demands.  How best to help once you know what is needed?  Google your city council and your mayor.  Their names and email addresses should be easily accessible.  Write them that you want civilian oversight of police proceedings, and body cameras for everyone (if you don’t already have it – you should be able to check that on the web, too).

And I just want to point out one small thing in this whole debate that you can think about.  While I think we all support police and the courageous work they’re doing in our communities (for the most part), a blue uniform is something someone can take off.  A police officer can quit their job and/or dissolve back into regular society if they want to.  A black person cannot ever stop being black.

Alright, I’ll get off my soapbox now.

Have a happier week, please.

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Some Election Thoughts

I’m just gonna say that this is a warning that I’m writing about politics and not funny bookish/life/garden stuff.  If you don’t want to continue, that’s cool.

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Am I alone in the fact that the election results on Tuesday sent me reeling?  I mean, we went from probably a contested Republican convention to no other candidates in the race in a period of 24 hours.  It doesn’t help that my worst nightmare has come true.

I’m feeling very torn about it all.  I’m a huge believer in the democratic process and, although I usually have a candidate that I like, I support everyone’s right to their own convictions.  I don’t usually care who you vote for, as long as you vote.  Cancel me out, that’s cool.  Majority wins, and that’s how it should be in this political system.

Except that we are now facing the fact that Donald Trump is the official head of the Republican party.  He’s bad in ways that I don’t think anyone fully understands, not even me.  It’s frightening to see the people he’s surrounding himself with, his blatant disregard of the American constitution, his hatred toward minorities and women, and his own personal behavior (including the one where he’s like “we had no idea that was happening so it’s obviously not our fault.” Really, Trump? You have no idea what’s happening in your own organization and you think running a country is something you can do?)

Alright, rant over.  That wasn’t the point of this whole thing, anyway.

The point is, I’m not sure what I should be doing right now.  That’s the real issue.  I don’t think I should be telling you who to vote for, and I don’t usually think that “vote for x because she’s better than Y” is a good argument.

I also believe that social media functions as an escapist space for a lot of people.  I value  that my Facebook feed is all literary puns, cat videos, and stupidity.

On the other side, I am a firm believer in the fact that a person who is silent in the face of tyranny is complicit in it. And I deeply believe that Donald Trump is attempting to usher in a regime of tyranny and intolerance. Which means that there is responsibility there.

So… stupid Facebook or political Facebook?  Tell you who to vote for, or don’t? Does choosing to be silent make me a silent supporter of racist bigotry and idiocy?  Does choosing to post all the awful things I find make me an angry, vitriolic person?

I don’t know.  I’m still figuring out what is a reasonable course of action in an unreasonable time.  I’ll let you know if I come to any conclusions.

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