Saturday, November 23, 2019

I Would Make a Better President Than Donald Trump

Man, that guy in the White House is quite the amateur, isn’t he? What a screw-up! Hire professionals, I always say, especially when the job is the absolute highest in the whole damn land.

But if you just can’t bring yourself to trust a seasoned, professional politician, next time try me.

First off, if I came to the White House through some fluke (which is how it would have to be), I would know, without anyone having to tell me, that I was an amateur. I would be looking to the experts even before I went out into the Rose Garden to congratulate myself for getting to that place women hardly ever even dream of anymore.

I would admit that, at 82, I may be missing a few marbles, but not to worry — my BS-Meter is still working overtime. I would take a few questions, and if I didn’t know the answer, I would say, truthfully, “I don’t know.”

I’m not good at small talk or bullshitting but I would make a few jokes, just to get the press corps laughing again. (Because, lord knows…) They would be self -deprecating, but not so awful that I look really bad. Then, when someone gave me the secret signal to wrap things up, I would toddle off, waving, promising it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life…

Right after lunch (in the White House!!!) I would call my cabinet together and we would get to work. My cabinet would be mostly made up of experts in their field, but might include both Jon Stewart and George Takei. That’s still up in the air, but I feel like I’ll need them.

I would take my cue from FDR and hire people who wouldn’t shrink from the words “constitution” or “common good” as if they were inscribed on wooden stakes aimed directly at their hearts.
If I didn’t understand them, I would say, “I don’t understand. Can you talk down to me, please?”, and they would, because, as I’ve said, I know nothing.

I would leave the big money talk to the experts, and if they couldn’t agree among themselves, I would call in Robert Reich to settle the matter.

I would ask Rachel Maddow to become my Chief of Staff, and anything else she wanted to be.
I would hire Lawrence O’Donnell to be my speech writer.

Dan Rather would be in charge of Communications.

We would reinstate the press briefings and Connie Schultz would be Press Secretary. Jim Acosta and April Ryan would get reserved front row seats.

I would make Chelsea Clinton our Good Will Ambassador.

I would ask Christiane Amanpour to be my Secretary of State.

Merrick Garland would be Attorney General.

The Secretary of Education would be a public school educator.

The Secretary of the Interior would be an environmentalist.

The Secretary of Commerce would send shivers through big business.

I would beg Dolores Huerta to be my Secretary of Labor.

Malcolm Nance would head Homeland Security.

I would put Beto O’Rourke in charge of gun control.

I would reopen every closed Planned Parenthood clinic and make plans to open more.

Eric Swalwell would take over the investigation into the refugee crisis on the border. Heads would roll down there until those families are reunited.

I would create a Citizen’s Committee on Congressional Oversight and put Al Franken in charge of it.

I would make few demands, but one of them would be that Ruth Bader Ginsburg must live forever.

And lastly, I would never, ever do anything to make Nancy Pelosi mad at me.

(Did I forget to say Maxine Waters would be my Vice President?)

So now that you’ve seen my hypotheticals, I hope you’ll think about them. Think hard. But don’t, whatever you do, write me in as a candidate! I mean it! Don’t do it! Don’t you dare write in R-a-m-o-n-a G-r-i-g-g.


(Cross-posted at Medium/Indelible Ink.)

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Please Note: There is no comment section until I can figure out what went wrong. If you would like to comment, you can do it at the cross-posted link or write me at ramonasvoices@gmail.com. Thanks.

Friday, November 22, 2019

What If We Can't Fix This?

Is Dystopia All There Is?

Image by Enrique Meseguer for Pixabay


I’ve been dreaming about lost children. In one, I’m in a tall building looking down at a lone child on a beach, a child around six or seven walking slowly along the water’s edge, up and down, up and down, looking over at our building, possibly looking at me, or looking for me. It’s getting dark and I’m worried. I run to the door, and suddenly I’m on the sand, but the child is gone. Nowhere to be seen. I wake up.


In another there’s a child scurrying among garbage cans in an alley. In this one, it’s a little girl, no more than three. I’m at the entrance of the alley. Lights are shining behind me but it’s dark in the alley except for a single light above a door illuminating the spot where I see her. She disappears and reappears, disappears and reappears, but she doesn’t seem to see me. I call out but she doesn’t turn her head. I’m moving slowly toward her, willing my feet to move faster. She’s looking for something, throwing trash aside, until finally she stops, sits on the ground, lowers her head into her arms and wails. I rush toward her. And I wake up


During my waking hours I worry, too. I worry about the lost children everywhere, but now I'm an American living in a country that forcibly takes children away from their parents.

Did you read the piece I wrote in June, 2018 called “The Children are Lost and Someone Must Pay”? No, I’m sure you didn’t. I cried as I wrote it. I cried because the story horrified me, but I cried, too, because I knew no matter what I said, no matter how terrible it was, life for most Americans would go on while life for those refugee families would be intolerable.


I wrote:

No other way to put this: our government has been kidnapping refugee children and hiding them all across the country.

They move them in the dead of night and won’t say where they’ve gone.

They refuse to open detention center doors to concerned government officials — the ones who haven’t gone over to the dark side and show no signs of budging.

They won’t allow outside cameras or recording devices, releasing instead their own sanitized versions of nice places to incarcerate terrified children.

They hang “Dear Leader” posters on the walls, showing a smirking Donald Trump alongside a bizarre, irrelevant quote from his book, “The Art of the Deal”. (“Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war”, in both English and Spanish.)




And this:
It’s as if the plan to forcibly remove children from their refugee parents ended at “forcibly remove”, followed by TO BE DETERMINED...

It’s as if they thought nothing bad would happen if they forcibly removed small, helpless human beings from the people who love them and care for them.

It’s as if they thought…

You know where I’m going with this, right?

They didn’t think.

They didn’t keep accurate records. They know where some of the children are, but not all of them. They sent them off to dozens of locations across the country without a fool-proof paper trail or electronic trail or any other kind of trail, and now that the cockamamie plan to steal kids away from their parents has been whomped to bits by millions of furious, vocal Americans, along with hundreds of members of the press, the clergy, and by God, Congress — all clamoring to know where the kids are — they’ve been forced to admit they just don’t know.


Nothing has changed. The children are still missing. For each child they reunite — to much fanfare — dozens more have disappeared. They’re gone.

The children they’re still holding are crying out, begging to be heard. We know hundreds if not thousands of them are being abused. We know this for a fact, but most Americans refuse to believe it.

We know their parents will never stop looking for them, and if that doesn’t break hearts, nothing ever will.


We’re at a point, as a country, where we either choose democracy and the rule of law or we give in to fascistic authoritarianism. We still have a choice. But we have to ask ourselves hard questions:

What if nobody goes to jail for kidnapping refugee children?

What if we never find those missing children?

What if we can’t bring drug prices and health costs down?

What if we never come up with the money to help Puerto Rico?

What if Flint never has clean water?

What if bigger and bigger guns kill more and more Americans?

What if abortions become illegal and contraceptives become contraband?

What if “The Handmaid’s Tale” becomes a handbook for certain powerful men?

What if the LGBT community never achieves equality?

What if people of color are in even more danger?

What if those promoting a corrupted version of Christianity get to make our nation’s moral rules?

What if Fox News and Sinclair Broadcasting join together and become state TV?

What if public education disappears and an unregulated, agenda-driven charter school system becomes our only route to learning?

What if Right Wing judges with terms for life keep taking away our freedoms?

What if certain corrupt leaders dissolve our government and form their own?

What if the Russians win?

What if, when we all wake up and pay attention, it’s too late?

I’m a casual student of history but I’ve studied it enough to understand what happens to human beings under authoritarian, fascistic regimes. I understand that the transition from a democratic society to a dictatorship comes, not because of weakness or ignorance, but because it’s far easier to be oblivious and complacent.

The power-mongers take advantage of our insistence that it can’t happen here. They seduce us with personalities and entertainment, with audacity, with promises to take away the regulatory power of government and let us live our own lives.

And when we believe their promises and give them power, when they do the things they said they wouldn’t do — the things every expert in political history warned us they would do — we can’t bring ourselves to believe we were hoodwinked.

Nobody could be that bad. Nothing could be that terrible. Not here in America.

Too many of us still don’t believe it’s happening. But ask anyone who comes from an authoritarian society and they’ll tell you this is how it happens. It happens slowly, with disbelief at first that a demagogue is on the rise, then it changes to belief that the entire legitimate government is against us and one person has the power to save us.

The demagogue takes over the airwaves, denounces the press, demands allegiance, expects subservience, insists that self-serving lies are the truth, and rises to power, even in places where attributes like intelligence and decency are celebrated.

No demagogue, no dictator has ever done it alone. He has accomplices in high places who have their own agendas, who see riding on the coattails of someone with that much power as a journey they’re willing to take in order to feel even a touch of that kind of exaltation.

And always, in every instance, there is money to be made.

The demagogue is admired for getting there, for battling the forces trying to vanquish him, for winning. It makes him a hero, even when those forces against him are forces for good.

And once the demagogue becomes dictator he makes the rules. He throws out constitutions. He packs the courts with his own accomplices. He holds mock elections where only he can win.

And always, in every instance, the masses suffer.

But the dictator reigns for life, or until a coup takes him down. And democracy becomes that quaint thing, that grandiose experiment that never could have worked forever.

That’s how it happens in other places.

How long before it happens here?

Monday, November 4, 2019

Stop the Madness! Sign this Petition!




Hello, fellow outraged citizen. Are you as outraged as we are? Have you had enough? Are you one of those astute, sentient, breathing persons who has noticed that things are all topsy-turvy and upside down and going over a cliff and getting really bad?

They would like you to think that they've won and there is no hope and you're just a little pea in a pumpkin patch, but you're not! NO, YOU'RE NOT!! You can do something about it!! Yes, you!

Please sign petition to let everybody know you've we've had enough!! This kind of thing can't go on!!! Together we can make this happen!!!! We can slap the snot out of those monsters!!! Maybe not literally, but by tapping the keyboard really hard RIGHT NOW, we can get ourselves all het up and--who knows?--maybe even virtually yell loud enough to get through to those crazy characters, who will pretend they can't hear us and will virtually yell back, "I can't hear you!"

But we will have spoken. Yes, WE. Because we can do this!

After you've typed your name and have checked to make sure it has magically appeared on a line provided for just that purpose, you'll be directed to another page where you can cement your outrage for all time by putting your money where your mouth is.

Here, even though you don't know us from a hill of beans, you will give us your real name, your real address, your real phone number, your real credit card number, the amount you would like to donate to our cause (don't be chintzy now, we know who you are), and proof of citizenship (See Below).

(Below) Proof of citizenship requires these three things: An apple pie recipe (no strudel!), a notarized letter from your particular Pastor Person stating he/she has seen you in a place of worship at least 52 times in the past year, and John Wayne's real name, place of birth, and secret location of body mole.


***Sign here if you agree that things can't go on this way and firmly believe in your heart of hearts that you can actually change those things that can't go on by signing your name to an internet petition and giving us money so we can serve you even better by creating more petitions. (Be assured that we will save your name, address, phone number and credit card information for future petitions, saving you all kinds of time when you come back. You're welcome.)


X___________________________________________________ (Your honest and true signature, okay?)


 


(NOTE: Astute readers may feel they've seen this before. They would be right. I wrote this more than seven years ago. It's been calling to me. What can I say?)