Thursday, September 19, 2019

Why Beto's Long Game Just Might Work

 "We're coming for your guns" may be what we need to hear.



Of all the candidates running for president on the Democratic side, Beto O’Rourke stands out as the maverick, the rebel, the “I don’t give a Flying F” guy who doesn’t pander and doesn’t cower. He’s got a mouth like a drunken pirate and he revels in it. (His campaign is selling tee shirts that say, over and over, “This is F — ked up”.)

Beto is the guy who almost took down Ted Cruz in 2018. That was big. He’s a Texan who speaks perfect Spanish, who waves his arms and bounces around to the point of distraction, but can handle comparisons to the Energizer Bunny because, well, he’s energized.


By rights he should be a force to be reckoned with — he’s young, earnest, charismatic, Kennedyesque— but so far there have been no real poll surges. Nothing that would suggest he might have a chance. It’s a crowded field and there are other, more adept stars who tend to dominate the stage.

But Beto is a force. He shows up on the border, near tears as he reports on the conditions in the refugee camps. He boldly rails against white supremacists from his perch in Texas, a state known for its love of guns and rage, and he minces no words when he talks against Donald Trump. (Tell us how you really feel, Beto.)

He made it clear just days after the August 3 shooting massacre in El Paso, where 22 people died in the district Beto represented in congress for six years, that he had no interest in running for the senate. It’s the presidency or nothing, because he knows only the power of the presidency will allow him to make radical change.

The shootings hit him hard. He took a two-week break from campaigning so he could be with his people in Texas. He went to funerals and visited victims still hospitalized. He gave blood. He listened to horrific stories told to him by victims and survivors, as well as the doctors trying to repair bodies savagely shredded by bullets meant only as the ultimate deterrents on a battle field.

It changed him. He’d had enough. And, as usual, he was going to say so.
In every public appearance, his fury was palpable, his tears near the surface, as he zeroed in on the proliferation of weapons of war in a culture so fearful of “others”, reports of armed white madmen going on deadly rampages have become commonplace.

Beto made a wrenching decision: He could no longer ignore the need to get those weapons out of the hands of anyone who wanted one. No more “We don’t want to take your guns away from you”, as he had earlier promised, however reluctantly. Now, without equivocation, his message is laser-beamed on the absolute removal of military-style weapons from the hands of private citizens.

In an August 22 editorial, he startled everyone by putting in writing what no politician had ever dared. He wrote,
On Aug. 3, my hometown of El Paso, Texas — one of the safest cities in America — was attacked in one of the deadliest mass shootings in our country’s modern history. This was an act of white nationalist terror, and one we could have prevented.
All countries have video games. All countries struggle with mental health. All countries deal with hatred. But only America has more guns than human beings — 390 million firearms in a country of 329 million people — which kill nearly 40,000 people every year.
Some of the nurses, surgeons and doctors heroically treating victims at Del Sol and University Medical Center in El Paso told me they hadn’t seen such horrific wounds since they were deployed abroad in our armed forces, saving the lives of soldiers on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq…
… That’s why, as president, I would institute a mandatory buyback of every assault weapon in America.
He didn’t say “every gun”, he said “every assault weapon” and he’s careful to make that distinction every time he repeats his promise. On August 31 he was in Charlottesville when a reporter asked him how he would address the fears of people who were afraid he really would take away their assault weapons. He said without hesitation:

“I want to be really clear that that’s exactly what we are going to do. Americans who own AR-15s, AK-47s, will have to sell them to the government. We’re not going to allow them to stay on our streets, to show up in our communities, to be used against us in our synagogues, our churches, our mosques, our Walmarts, our public places.”

And at the presidential debate held on Thursday, September 12, he said again, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47, and we’re not going to allow it to be used against your fellow Americans anymore.”

It’s clear he means it. He may, in fact, have blown any chance at the presidency, but he has accomplished what he set out to do. He's establishing a radical idea, and radical ideas have to start somewhere.

He has started a dialogue that will build momentum, and as it builds, the idea of an all-out ban on assault weapons will become less radical and more accepted. Millions of us want to see it happen. None of us knows how it would be possible. That’s the next step: figuring out how it can be done.

But first things first. A political leader has said out loud what hundreds of political leaders are saying behind closed doors — we must get assault weapons out of the hands of ordinary citizens. We can’t rely on licensing, or background checks, or even statewide bans, as in California, when gun purchasing is so accepted, so easy, that any restrictions can be readily sidestepped. Literally anyone can buy a gun. Sellers are waiting to accommodate. Enough of them are willing to look the other way. The only solution, as far-fetched as it seems, is an outright ban.

The blowback to Beto’s insistence on an assault weapon ban is fierce, as he might have expected. Members of his own party are praising his honesty while not quite getting there yet. Both Kamala Harris and Corey Booker have plans to do away with assault weapon sales but they’re swimming in red tape, trying to be all things to all people. They aren’t nearly as convincing as Beto. Yet.

Some colleagues, like Delaware Senator Chris Coons, are afraid he’s playing right into the NRA’s hands. He told CNN’s Poppy Harlow he’s worried about Beto’s debate comments:
I frankly think that that clip will be played for years at Second Amendment rallies with organizations that try to scare people by saying that Democrats are coming for your guns.
And, as expected in this culture now, Beto is getting death threats, like the one from a Texas state legislator who tweet-warned, “My AR is ready, Robert Francis”, invoking Beto’s real name, doubling as a reminder of what happened to Robert Francis “Bobby” Kennedy.

But the message is indelible now: If we want to end the massacres we have to ban military-style assault weapons. Beto O’Rourke did this for us and, while we may not reward him with the presidency, this is how he will be remembered. As the leader who finally cut through the bullshit and gave it to us straight. He opened the floodgates and, as with every radical idea, we’ll need to get used to it. Already Adam Schiff is calling for petition signatures to reinstate the assault weapons ban. (kuuuuu)

Joe Biden is reminding voters in a tweet that he worked on banning assault weapons before and he’ll do it again as president:
25 years ago this week, Senator Feinstein and I led the charge to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. We beat the @NRA and got it done. As president, I’ll do it once again. We will get these military-style weapons off our streets.
Kamala Harris is pushing a red flag law that will allow the temporary seizure of guns in the hands of White Supremacists showing signs of acting on their threats. (Key word: temporary.)

So, if we’re lucky, Beto’s Democratic colleagues will get braver. They’ll test the waters to see if they can survive the onslaught. They’ll waffle until it seems safe. They’ll yell as if they mean it, and then they’ll add exceptions to keep voters happy. But all the while Beto will be howling to be heard and his message will stay the same.

In time, the notion of an assault weapons ban will become not just acceptable, but necessary.

In time, the howling will be coming from the other side. And when the ban is in place, when military guns in the hands of private citizens becomes a painful memory, when statistics show the number of lives we’ve saved — by the thousands — we’ll wonder what took us so long.

. . .

(Cross-posted at Crooks & Liars)

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Eighteen Years After: We Remember 9/11



Today marks the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.  Eighteen years have passed -- more than a decade and a half -- but for those closest to the terror, for those whose loved ones were caught in that unimaginable rage storm, for those who trained for this, who mobilized and fought so hard to try and save the lives already lost to them, we pay tribute by refusing to forget.

The pictures are all that is left.  They stay with us and resonate as terrible, beautiful works of art.


The agony of the men and women who could do nothing but stand by and watch the towers fall reflected and drove home our own agony -- even those of us in the hinterlands who watched the horrific events unfold on our TV screens, helpless to do anything but gasp and moan and rock with a kind of psychic pain most of us had never felt in our entire lifetimes.

 

As painful as the dredging up of the images of that terrible day is to us, there is no sense of dread as the annual anniversaries approach.  Every year, on September 11, we want to remember.  9/11 has become a watchword.  Nobody in America has to be told what those numbers represent.  

  Every year on this anniversary, in a ceremony to honor the dead, family members gather for the recitation of the names of the men and women lost to us on September 11, 2001.  The names are being read alphabetically.  For one brief moment the people live again.  We do this for their families and for us.  They're not just numbers or actors in an unimaginable event that became the catalyst for change, altering our lives forever.  We need to keep their memories alive in order to recognize their humanity, and possibly our own.


We remember.

We remember.

We will always remember.

Monday, September 9, 2019

The President’s Mission: Let Him Entertain You

Trump loves schlock, shock, and chaos, especially when the theater is on fire.

Image: Reuters
Remember that day in mid-June, 2015, when Donald Trump rode his golden escalator down into the depths, digging deep into a Chaplinesque version of Benito Mussolini as he announced he was going to run for president and not only save a dying America but build a great wall and make Mexico pay for it ? Remember how we laughed? 

I wasn’t the only one who saw his imperious ride down the escalator as tongue-in-cheek performance art, a bid to push that crazy idea he’d been tossing around for years — a run for the presidency — and,what the hell, give it another shot. He drew the cameras and the crowds, and his addiction for attention got the hit of all hits.

Remember his nonsensical attacks on President Obama, pretending he had proof Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii but in Africa, where Trump’s agents were already scouring the countryside, talking to people who, he said, swore they remembered his birth, swore they saw the future president in swaddling clothes? Remember when he promised to reveal all? Soon?

He knew he had nothing. WE knew he had nothing. But he got the attention he craved and he rewarded us by giving us something to talk about.

Getting attention is everything to Donald Trump. He craves attention and it’s an addiction that consumes him. He ran for president, not because he and he alone had to chops to get the job done, but because he craves attention. (It’s clear he never expected to win. It was never his intention.)

When he saw he would be just one of 12 other candidates on the debate stage, he knew he couldn’t compete politically so he chose to do the thing he does best: He went all entertainer. He built an act around teasing and tormenting his fellow candidates. He called them silly names. He made airy promises that nobody in their right mind believed. When he wasn’t painting the government as weak and inept, he was sloshing bright red MAGA paint all over a government he portrayed as dark and sinister.

People — even those who saw right through him — sat up and took notice. The press loved him. The deplorables loved him. And he loved that he finally found something that would make them love him.
Nothing excites Trump’s Vaudevillian brain more than a rapt audience. So to that eternal question, “Is he serious?” — no, he’s not serious. This is what he lives for.

When he uses the words “beautiful” and “fun” in totally inappropriate sentences, (“Kim Jong Un writes me the most beautiful letters”. “Are you having fun? This is fun. Right?”)he wants us to be entertained. It keeps us from looking beyond his carefully built caricature to see how ugly his ugly side really is.

But he’s a weak man, a pretender, and he can’t go on hiding his weaknesses behind a clown face forever. He is not a president. He’s not even a comic example of a president. He’s a menace because he isn’t serious, and he isn’t serious because that would require studying and contemplation — two things this president works overtime avoiding.

His only function is to keep the Trump legend alive. We knew before he was president that he’d go to any lengths to promote himself. We knew, for example, that he became “John Barron” and sometimes “David Dennison”, pretending to be his own press agent. We heard the tapes of his phone calls and recognized not just his voice but his distinctive speech patterns. We knew it was him. He denies it.

We knew he was dishonest and corrupt and given to fits of red hot revenge, but if we thought we could shame him by exposing him, we learned early on it was a lost cause. He feels no shame, no remorse, no regret, no guilt. Any human feelings were long ago replaced by his need to build the character he plays into someone the world would see as heroic.

We’ve suspected there’s something more — that he’s not all there —but we keep waiting for the constitutional checks and balances to kick in. It stops being funny when this president uses his formidable powers to attack and destroy at will, and counts on his popularity to keep the madness going.

Under his watch real people, including refugee families held at the border and often separated from their children, are suffering in ways so horrific we want not to believe it.
Under his watch the economic and military experts, the scientists, the teachers — the country’s caretakers — have been labeled inept and rendered useless.
Under his watch our infrastructure and our safety nets are disappearing.
Under his watch thousands of brown-skinned hurricane victims have been left to die.

We’re in deep trouble, but in order for Trump to keep it from seeming as impossibly awful as it is, he has learned to go for the giggle. How bad can he be if he can make people laugh?

So when he says he wants to buy Greenland, or be president forever, or maybe even be God’s chosen one, he anticipates the deliciously satisfying fuss and he can forget for that moment that he may someday be indicted for various criminal activities, that history will not be kind to him, that the stage lights will dim and the crowds will disappear and he’ll go back to being that Donald Trump that nobody liked, that Donald Trump that everyone saw as a joke.

It’s those last laughs that will finally get him.

. . . 

(Cross-posted at Indelible Ink

Saturday, August 31, 2019

How Unions Gave Us Labor Day

In praise of a movement battered and bruised but not down




JFK at Detroit Labor Day Parade, 1960 — Photo: Walter Reuther Library


I come from a union family and I married into one. My father-in-law sat in the 44-day sit-down strike in Flint, Michigan, when General Motors refused to recognize union rights for workers.

When I was a little girl I remember standing in a long line with my dad so he could vote for a union contract after a strike. I remember the Labor Day parades along Woodward Avenue in Detroit — union members marching, thousands strong, the parades lasting for hours and hours. (Like the one above with JFK.)

Strikes were hard on our families. They knew, going in, there would be hardships — no end in sight, no money coming in — but the goal was for better wages, better conditions,and for a sense of dignity that every working person deserved.

I remember being scared because I saw my parents were scared. I remember feeling relief when the ordeal was over and even small concessions were considered wins.

America was strong when unions were strong. Over the years their clout has diminished and there is no doubt workers are the worse for it. Wages are down and so are protections. Dignity and a sense of purpose is long gone. We were building a country and we were proud of our efforts. Now we aren’t.

I’m a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981/AFL-CIO (NWU). I pay my union dues gladly, knowing as a freelancer they’ll have my back if I ever have a dispute I can’t handle. (Because that’s what unions do. They advocate for workers.)

The NWU works with publications on contracts for freelance writers, negotiating for reasonable rates and conditions. (This is their agreement with The Nation.) They issue press passes and provide legitimacy to writers who find themselves trying to navigate a system set up to take, and only rarely give.

In 2018 my union took on Ebony Magazine and won an $80,000 settlement for 45 freelancers who hadn’t been paid for their work. There’s little chance those writers would ever have seen money due them without the clout of a strong union behind them.

But just yesterday, news came that The Arizona Republic is getting tough on staffers who are looking into union representation. They’ve gone from assuring them they don’t need a union to threatening lawsuits over what they call “surveilling” other staff members in an effort to coerce them into joining. The workers say it isn’t true.

Gannett, their parent company, is notorious for working against unions, which nobody but me seems to consider odd: Newspapers, those bastions of free speech, keep working to muffle voices pushing for representation. But there it is. That’s where we are now.

Every year around Labor Day I grow nostalgic for those days when labor was strong and management had respect for them — if even reluctantly. I think about those early labor advocates and marvel at their efforts, when the prospect of good wages or protections or even dignity seemed foolish and misguided, considering the good will of the businesses who were kind enough to hire them. (I’m kidding.)

So in case you missed them, I give you some quotes I’ve shared over the years on Labor Day:
Labor is the great producer of wealth: it moves all other causes.
Congressman Daniel Webster, 4/2/1824
“The first thing is to raise hell,” says I. “That’s always the first thing to do when you’re faced with an injustice and you feel powerless. That’s what I do in my fight for the working class.”
 Mother Jones
With all their faults, trade unions have done more for humanity than any other organization that ever existed. They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the developing of character in man, than the other association of men.
 Clarence Darrow, The Railroad Trainman, 1909
The history of America has been largely created by the deeds of its working people and their organizations. Nor has this contribution been confined to raising wages and bettering work conditions; it has been fundamental to almost every effort to extend and strengthen our democracy.
William Cahn, labor authority and historian
We insist that labor is entitled to as much respect as property. But our workers with hand and brain deserve more than respect for their labor. They deserve practical protection in the opportunity to use their labor at a return adequate to support them at a decent and constantly rising standard of living, and to accumulate a margin of security against the inevitable vicissitudes of life.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, fireside chat, 1936
If I were a worker in a factory, the first thing I would do would be to join a union.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
The first thing a dictator does is abolish the free press. Next he abolishes the right of labor to go on strike. Strikes have been labor’s weapon of progress in the century of our industrial civilization. Where the strike has been abolished … labor is reduced to a state of medieval peonage, the standard of living lowered, the nation falls to subsistence level.
George Seldes, Freedom of the Press, 1935
The right to join a union of one’s choice is unquestioned today and is sanctioned and protected by law.
President Harry S. Truman
Only a fool would try to deprive working men and women of the right to join the union of their choice.
President Dwight Eisenhower
There’s s a direct relationship between the ballot box and the bread box, and what the union fights for and wins at the bargaining table can be taken away in the legislative halls.
Walter Reuther
In light of this fundamental structure of all work… in light of the fact that, labor and capital are indispensable in any social system … it is clear that even if it is because of production in any social system … it is clear that even if it is because of their work needs that people unite to secure their rights, their union remains a constructive factor of social order and solidarity, and it is impossible to ignore it.
Pope John Paul II
The history of the labor movements needs to be taught in every school in this land. America is a living testimonial to what free men and women, organized in free democratic trade unions can do to make a better life. … We ought to be proud of it!
Vice President Hubert Humphrey
Our labor unions are not narrow, self-seeking groups. They have raised wages, shortened hours, and provided supplemental benefits. Through collective bargaining and grievance procedures, they have brought justice and democracy to the shop floor.
President John F. Kennedy, 1962
The AFL-CIO has done more good for more people than any (other) group in America in its legislative efforts. It doesn’t just try to do something about wages and hours for its own people. No group in the country works harder in the interests of everyone.
President Lyndon Johnson, 1965
Without a union, the people are always cheated, and they are so innocent. Cesar Chavez, United Farm Workers Union

Labor Day is an American holiday created by labor unions.  It became a national holiday in 1894, and since then it has been celebrated on the first Monday in September, without fail.   We celebrate the labor movement on Labor Day each year because working hard and playing by the rules (whose rules?) was not and never has been a ticket to success in America.  It took the labor movement to gather enough strength to make sure hard working, rules-playing workers got a fair shake in the workplace.

Click here for the history of Labor Day.




And I leave you with the song that says it all:





Happy Labor Day weekend.  Remember who we were when we were at our best.

(Cross-posted at Indelible Ink)



Friday, August 30, 2019

I didn’t Leave Bernie, He Left Me


How I can agree with Bernie Sanders’ ideas and still not want to vote for him.

Jim Young — Reuters

I’m a liberal and Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist. Both of us have our roots in good old FDR blue collar pragmatism. I thought, way back in 2011, when I wrote glowingly about him, that if he ever decided to run for president I would be first in line to cheer him on.

I wrote:
Sen. Bernie Sanders, Independent from Vermont, held the senate floor for 90 minutes yesterday, talking directly to President Obama, pleading, cajoling, scolding — begging the president to take the lead on obvious things like lifting the poor and the downtrodden out of the depths, protecting them from any more grief, and demanding that the rich pay their fair share of U.S. taxes.

He was voicing everything I believed and he was one of the very few. I wanted to go on liking him. I wanted it so much I went on pretending I did long after I had grown squeamish about what I was seeing from him.

I wanted to believe his shouting and his finger-wagging was simply because he was that immersed in wanting to do the right thing, but his haughty smirk when his audience reacted to his many accusations seemed out of place for someone calling for solidarity. In time it became clear that his idea of doing the right thing was to build himself up by attacking any Democrat who wasn’t willing to go along.

He latched onto “corporate Democrats” and kept it up long after the 2016 primaries, when he should have joined the Dems in supporting not only Hillary Clinton but every Democrat working to get elected in every city, county, state, or federal battleground. He didn’t do that. He balked at everything, including handing the primary vote over to Hillary when it was clearly long past time. He talked up “revolution”, pushing his followers to stick with him long after the space between the primaries and the general election had closed behind him. He tolerated chaos from his own ranks when what we needed desperately was unity.

It comes down to this: Bernie is my first choice as revolutionary leader. As revolutionary leaders go, Bernie ranks right up there at the top. But if Bernie should win the presidency, his days as a radical revolutionary leader are over. He wouldn’t in a million years be able to accomplish as much as he might if he stays on the outside pressing for the goals he has outlined during his campaign…

 …A president has to be all things to all people. The leader of a revolution has to stay focused on the cause. Bernie, if he wins, won’t be able to do that and he’ll disappoint the people who are counting on him to make radical change. They’ll start a revolution without him, or in spite of him, or against him.
I haven’t changed my mind. Donald Trump may have shown us what the true Dark Side looks like when it gains ultimate power, but the Democratic presidential candidate can’t be a frothing revolutionary. Some would like to think we’ve moved that far to the left, but we haven’t. And we shouldn’t.

I’ve never been convinced that Democrats shine as a party when they move away from wanting to be allies to all Americans, and not just some Americans. We’re not the party of dividers. We’re at our best when we’re lifting each other up, not dragging each other down.
I submit that Barack Obama’s popularity stayed constant mainly because he refused to get down in the mud. He refused to attack his allies or to get vicious when he was going after his enemies. He understood the honor and the obligations of his office, and he’ll be remembered for that, long after Donald Trump disappears into the twilight.

I am a Democrat. I’ve been a Democrat for more than 60 years and I’ll never be anything else, no matter how frustrated or disappointed I am in my political family. There are ways of doing battle without digging in the dirt. I’ll always believe the Democrats must take the high road. It doesn’t make us weak, it makes us right.

We take the high road by showing what we’ve learned over the years — that we can and must help others while helping ourselves. We don’t see kindness as weakness. We can be revolutionaries without losing our way. Our eyes are on the prize and our prize is a country working toward the common good.

Bernie Sanders never became that Democrat. He relished the chaos in 2016 and did nothing to calm the waters. His talking points never became action. His talk of being a champion of women or people of color, for example, is still more fluff than substance.

His followers have built a long-lasting cult around him, and he’s using them again to rise to the top. I sincerely hoped he wouldn’t do that, but since he has, I’m out. I haven’t decided on a candidate yet — it’s much too early — but I do know Bernie Sanders won’t be my choice for the primaries. (If he wins the primaries, I’ll deal with it and support him. Because that’s what Democrats have to do.)

The defeat of Donald Trump is essential if we’re ever going to get those programs that both the left and the moderates agree need fixing. We can only defeat him if we work together. When Bernie shows signs of wanting to work together, I’ll come back and write a different story. But until then, this one will have to stand.

. . . 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Why I Need to Be Here. And There. And Everywhere



The last time I wrote here was in April, when I announced I was leaving and probably wouldn't be back. Well, here I am. The truth is, I missed this place. I spent more than 10 years here, so it's hard not to come back to see how it's doing.  I come back often to read the stories in my "Necessary Voices" sidebar, and I sometimes grab an old story from my archives to revise for my Medium pages (See below). I love coming back here. It's like home, even though it's no longer my office.

I'm writing almost exclusively on Medium now, and it's pretty satisfying. I'm building a readership there, which is what every writer wants, and it's almost like having my own blog. Almost.

I've started my own Medium publication, Indelible Ink, and I'm editing and publishing stories by other writers, as well as my own.

I publish a periodic newsletter promoting those great writers who honor me by writing in my pub. It's here if you want to take a look.

The increased attention at Medium has given me the confidence to push further and start sending things out to paying venues again. I hadn't done that in years. (I'm working with an editor at Huffington Post this week on a non-political piece that requires some editing but will be published soon. I can't tell you how excited that little triumph makes me. It's really kind of pathetic. )

I don't write as much about politics, and that's by design. I  needed that break after so many years of trying to save us from ourselves without making even a tiny dent. When the realization hit, it hit hard--I was wasting my time, and nobody even noticed.

So, yes, I'm whining a bit, but I'll get over it. I can't see myself ever going back to a 24-hour-a-day concentration on Trump and the failings of America. But I have to say something. Terrible things are happening, and I can't avoid them. I know me. I just can't.

It feels good writing here again. I missed the old place. But I haven't left the neighborhood. I'm just up the street, so how about coming to visit me there?  I'll be back here now and then, just for old time's sake.



Monday, April 22, 2019

It's Spring and I'm Blossoming Somewhere Else

Spring comes to our yard


Hi, loyal readers, it's me. (You still there?  Hello??)  I know. I haven't been spending much time here and so neither have you. I don't blame you. The truth is, I've found another place.

A place where writers gather, along with readers. Because after all this time of going it alone I'm finding I miss my community. I need that interaction, that commiseration when things go wrong, that cheering on when things go well. I need them.

But I need readers even more.

So it's time to move on.


Cut River Bridge


Oh, you've all been nothing but kind, but the truth is, I don't always know you're here. I needed to get away from the Trump nightmare for a while and I did that. I'm writing about other things now,  including writing about writing--my first, my own true love. Writing.

I won't say I'll never write about politics again. Who would I be kidding? I sweat politics, even when I'm not talking about it. But if I do it, I probably won't be doing it from here. This door is closing.

I'm sad about that. This has been my headquarters for more than 10 years and it served its purpose, but it's a house, not a home. The life has gone out of it, just as the oomph has gone out of me when it comes to politics. I started this blog to talk about politics and now I no longer want to do that.

For those of you who come here for the sidebar links at Necessary Voices, you'll still find them here. They're all pretty great. I'll be reading them, too.

I'm temporarily headquartered over at Medium now, but I'm spreading my wings, sending out pieces to other places and not relying on any one blog, on any one website. I'm excited and I hope you'll come along with me.

I'm keeping my other blog, Constant Commoner, open for a while, but mainly I'll be at Medium.

This blog will be my archives now, unless I can't stand it and I change my mind and open the doors again. (Which could happen. I'm only closing it, I'm not locking it.)


Ready to fly

You can also follow me on Twitter and on Facebook. I'll always be there. I think.

I'm thinking about starting a newsletter but it's at the very beginning stages. In the  meantime, you can write me at ramonasvoices dot com. I love mail! Keep in touch!

So here I go. Wish me luck. And thanks again. 💘



Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Political PTSD is Real. I'm Living Proof

It has come to this: I can no longer call myself a writer. Trump has broken me down. I'm a basket case trying to follow the illogical, the stupid, the crazy, the nonsensical, the sheer volume of lies and strutting and demagoging and denying and. . .

I can't do it. I can't. For months now I've been reduced to 280 character bleatings on Twitter--when I'm not annoying my friends and family all to hell with my spitting and sputtering and useless hollering, trying to explain how I'm FEELING throughout all of this.

You want to know how I'm feeling? (I know you didn't ask and you're just here because you saw that title and you're curious, but this is about ME now. Okay? And yes, I used ellipses separated by spaces in that first paragraph. Stop the damn judging!)

Well get in line, because I don't know how I'm feeling and until I do, anything I write here is gibberish, likely to change as the seconds change on that clock on the wall mocking me for wasting so much time trying to make sense of feelings when any feelings of a powerless old liberal woman are laughable in this new America whizzing along, leaving me so far behind I might as well be a speck on the horizon, a dust mote, a dot at the end of a sentence nobody wants to read.

Did that sound like I'm feeling sorry for myself?  Damn right I am. When I started this thing 10 years ago I thought you people would listen to me. I thought if I put words into somewhat complete sentences that didn't always suck at punctuation and grammar you would pay attention. I thought I had something to say.

I did have something to say but it turns out Donald Trump was elected anyway. I was on the side that lost the battle and I hate that. Anything I've written since then has been in protest to Donald Trump. A total waste of time. He's still president, and I'm still sitting here wondering where I went wrong. Why couldn't I make a difference?  Was it something I said? Or didn't say?

So now you're thinking, who the hell does she think she is? Nobody could make a difference. Not Eugene Robinson, not Sarah Kendzior, Not Steve Schmidt, not Robert Reich, not Elizabeth Warren, not Hillary Clinton, not Bernie Sanders, not Rachel Maddow, not any of those other people whose names escape me right now, since I'm in the throes of a PTSD flare-up. Fill in the blanks. There were literally hundreds of voices out there warning against a Trump presidency, using the American language for all it's worth--smart, elegant, forceful, jeering, demanding, begging. Using facts as cudgels, as swords, as bright beams of light--all for nothing.

Now we're in the midst of a government shutdown, in effect for over a month, and real people are in real pain, trying to stay safe while the monster is still at large, still out there breathing fire, still creating such chaos nobody knows what to do.

And that's the least of what's happened over the past two years. They tore kids from their parents' arms and put them in cages. They "lost" some of them. They're sending people back to countries where their deaths are inevitable. We're on the verge of forgetting that. That's how bad things are.

It's as if we're at that point in a horror novel where the village is under attack and everybody is still at the hand-wringing stage. They're all yelling, getting out their torches and pitchforks, but nobody has a real plan.

 He's out there breathing fire and nobody has a plan.

Because they've never seen anything like it and they didn't prepare for this. And on top of everything else, they have to fight those few crazy citizens who think the monster is a good guy and everyone else is over-reacting.

 If this were fiction, this is where it would start to get interesting.



 So okay, that's it then. Gotta go. I'm scaring myself again. And besides that, I'm not a writer anymore.


(Cross-posted at Medium, where you can clap as many times as you want. So please clap. Thank you.)






Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Hello Civility, Goodbye Rage

I'm sick to death of having to see, hear, and worry about Donald Trump.  I'm sick of having to wonder how we got here, living in a country where a ludicrous, ignorant madman is in power, where the party in power is turning a blind eye, and where midterm elections are only days away and we're still not sure the good guys will win.

We're living through times so crazy we couldn't even imagine them three short years ago. We were different people before Trump crashed through seemingly impenetrable barriers to get to the White House. We were nicer. Now even the best of us have become loud-mouthed name-callers. We use F-bombs and C-words as safety valves. We look to settle arguments by twisting knives in already gaping wounds. We work hard at it, to the point of neglecting real issues.


 We spend hours on Facebook and Twitter savoring the need to turn the air blue. We can't get through the day without using CAPS and exclamations (!!!!!!), posting links and memes intended to satisfy our rage--as if that's even possible.

We gladly follow people whose strength lies in clever insults, expressing the kind of vitriol we say we're working against. When they insult fellow followers who dare to disagree with them we give them a pass, hoping against hope we never say anything they might take wrong. (You know who you are, Twitter denizens.)

I don't want that anymore. I don't want to do it anymore. (Because, yes, I have.) I want to be among people who fight for decency by being civil. I want to go back to being strong without being cruel. There's enough cruelty out there without it stinking up my own circles.

On both Facebook and Twitter, I'm dropping or blocking people who use rage as their only tool. I don't want to be around them anymore. Rage is contagious, it's exhausting, it's meaningless in the long run.

Rage is a catalyst. It's never a solution.

I'm not going to drop either Facebook or Twitter. Wouldn't think of it. In times when we need more than smoke signals to get to the truth, both sites become useful war rooms.

But I'm tired of fighting the good fight through muck and mire. Starting today, I'm looking for civil warriors. No name-callers, no body-shamers, no sniffy moralists with axes to grind.

I'll see how it goes.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Kavanaugh Didn't Have to Happen

I'm sickened by the vote to make Brett Kavanaugh the new Supreme Court justice. I know you are, too. The Republicans clinched it, and they want us to know there is no action, no protest strong enough against them. We can't win. They hold all the power and they're looking for more.

Nothing humanly possible can stop them when they're on a mission. They own us. Lock, stock, and barrel. The thought of making us miserable comforts them.



Millions of people protested this vote. Thousands of lawyers warned against it. Twenty four hundred law professors warned against him. An ex-Supreme Court justice, John Paul Stevens, warned against him, citing Kavanaugh's temperament, if nothing else. Judges, senators, representatives, governors, mayors, women's groups, the ACLU, dozens of newspaper editorial pages--all begged the Senate to vote no on Kavanaugh.

Every Republican in the Senate gave them no heed, including Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Jeff Flake, who all pretended it was a decision most wrenching for them. In the end, two of the three did what they were always going to do--they gave him their vote. Murkowski voted "present" in order to protect the "yes" vote of an absent Senator.  They weren't cowards, they were collaborators.

In doing their dirty work, they twisted the knife already long embedded into Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford's gut by publicly scolding her for causing so much trouble.

In the end, with no proof of his innocence, with still unchallenged money problems, with only a handful of requested documents provided to the Democrats, with hair-raising real-time public rages, with biases against anyone not leaning to the Right, all while waving his entitlement like a huge red flag, the Republicans, to a person, opted to push through Brett Kavanaugh.

He lied under oath, behaved like a child, battered the committee with preppie privilege, and snarled at anyone who asked him something he didn't want to answer. And none of it mattered.

Trump got to put through TWO Supreme Court justices, one of whom was clearly unfit and unqualified, the other one almost sure to go along with killing off Roe v Wade.

So, yes, I'm going there, and to hell with anyone who feels offended: None of this would have happened if Hillary Clinton were President. None of this would have happened it the Democrats had taken hold of Congress. The Republicans are gloating while we, their opposition, are pained and embarrassed and scared.

Terrified children separated from their parents wouldn't be crying in cages.

Insidious Russian influence would have been nipped in the bud.

The vicious Religious Right would be mere voices in the wilderness.

We would be kinder, gentler, more inclined to work on essentials like health, welfare, foreign relations, and infrastructure.

Corruption in our government wouldn't be rampant.

And Donald Trump would go on being a buffoon, but without an ounce of power.

This is wrong. So wrong. Everything about Trump's regime is wrong, but our fight against him gets us nowhere.

We'll have a chance at fixing some of this in November. All that's required of us is to vote.

We have to vote Democratic.

If you just can't do it, and the Republicans win again, they won't thank you. When they're done with you, you'll be right back where you were before. Or worse.

Right back with the rest of us.

And we won't be happy to see you.

If you're still not convinced, take a look at this message from our "president":


This is what absolute power without care or conscience looks like. We have the power to change this.  It starts in the voting booth. Vote as if this is our last chance.  It just might be.

(Cross-posted at Crooks & Liars)