Life under Trump

I have been a casual observer of the American Politic. Brought up on the prairies of North Dakota and Montana, I love open spaces and open minds. I could not imagine in my wildest terrors the current American climate of tribal warfare. Words and epithets instead of bombs and rockets (so far, that is) are the weapons of destruction. I grew up in the glorious 50’s – which never seemed so wonderful at the time. Girls were relegated to Home Ec and literature, boys played rough and tumble while we waved pom-poms and screamed for the Home Team.

Simple times, at least for a white family in the northern plains. Indians were relegated to the Res outside of town, no people of color in my schools (I attended 15 different schools before 7th grade) and plenty of ruler thwacking to control any unruly behavior in the class room. I was always the new kid in class, so my main role was as of observer. We were gypsies, never belonging, never really trusted. So I studied hard to find approval from my teachers and parents. My peers were not interested in some skinny red-head who did her homework. Meanwhile, history grabbed me and would not let me go. I read voraciously, escaping into exploring with Lewis and Clark, examining the split nation of the Civil War era, struggling to find out why women had to fight so hard for the vote. This last one convinced me that not voting was a crime.

I also spent time with Orwell and his bleak world. 1984 really scared me or, scarred me, not sure which is more the appropriate description, when I first read it in 1960. I huddled in my room with that book, struck dumb by the double-speak and invasiveness of the State. I also read Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here. I was sure that it really could not happen here, that Mr Lewis had an over active imagination. The book was clearly taking it too far: we are Americans and would never treat our neighbors like that.

I was an early supporter of John Kennedy, mostly because I was young and so was he relative to the other candidates. I did not like Mr Nixon much – and I do wish I was basing my preferences on something other than looks. But I am afraid, I was a teen of my times: looks were paramount. Mr Nixon had a five o’clock shadow and unruly eyebrows. In other words, he was not a very nice guy. Besides he was a Republican, people who did not seem to care about us, the beleaguered blue collars of America. My parents had liked Ike, but were not Republicans but because he was fair-minded and a war hero. But they did not vote, so it did not matter much what they said or felt. So, it was my mission to be our family’s standard bearer for patriotism and political “savvy.” I did my bit as a high school student for Kennedy: volunteered at the local precincts to stuff envelopes, organize election materials for those who were out in the trenches, campaigning for our candidate. It was fun, made me feel part of something larger than myself. And, then we won. I was on the winning team for the first time in my life. The world seemed to welcome me.

But that was then, a life time ago. Jack was murdered. Martin Luther King Jr was murdered. Bobby was murdered. Vietnam raged in never-ending slaughter of Americans and Vietnamese. The consequences of that war robbed an entire generation of its innocence. But then, that is what war does.

I moved on with my life. I had children, moved to California, divorced, worked at all manner of menial jobs, went back to school to become the first of my family to obtain a Bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude. I started my own company. Re-married and began the process of blending a new family. It all seemed to work. It was also a good life, filled with hope and energy and love. And, I voted. Local, State and National elections were all important to me. I also did some electioneering for the Obama Administration.

But I should have done more. I really should have. Because now we live a life under Trump. And, I cannot stress the “under” enough. We are not in this together, Trump and me. He does not represent anything I believe in: diversity, helping those in need, strengthening education, providing healthcare for all, standing side by side to fight the tyranny of terror by being unafraid of the “Other”. He has spread divisiveness, encouraged violence on the on minorities, disabled and immigrants and generally been a huge embarrassment to us all with his tweets and bombast. What drives a man who is President of the United States of America to feel he needs to brag, and brag endlessly about how great he is? Yet, I have folks who up until recently, I thought had good judgement and hearts, who actually whole-heartedly voted for him. I tried so very hard to understand where they were coming from: they were not poor, they were not uneducated and they were not evil. And, yet, they wanted DJT to disrupt the government, reset it. Much like rebooting their computers: wake up to a fresh start, all the corrupted RAM zapped and the preferences reset to some cleaner, shinier time.

That does not seem to what we are experiencing at all. And, those self-same Trump voters are now concerned that we are on the brink of something dangerous at the worst and mind-numbing at the least. Congress is a do-nothing black hole. The SCOTUS is not going to save us either. Many states are working furiously to suppress the vote, so 2018 may not save us either. I began a scrap book of sorts using Google Keep as a repository of all things Trump. My first note was a copy and paste from comments I made on the White House website where we were supposed to select the Accomplishments of the Trump Administration that we liked the most. In that list, I could find nothing that I agreed with, NOTHING. So, here care my comments I posted instead:

Accepting each and every person as a full fledged human deserving of respect and kindness. I feel that the most important goal of any presidency is to do nothing in haste, but with careful deliberation, examining all the facts and weighing the consequences of all our actions and words. Our people deserve affordable health care free from fear of losing help because of partisan bickering. In fact, Medicare for All is the best option if you really care about ALL American lives.

Also, I think telling the truth about where jobs have gone due to technology and modernization is more important than promising coal miners that you will bring their jobs back. Rolling back regulations that protect our air and water are definitely not good for our children and future. I am a business owner for over 25 years. Regulations have never affected our bottom line: but the 2008 mortgage debacle certainly did. Dodd-Frank is trying to make sure that does not happen again. And, one of your goals is to undo that. Shame on you! We need to focus on creating new jobs, but not by damaging the environment. And, providing for those people who will not ever be employable because they do not have the skills or education to function in a modern society. Education focused on solid sciences, retraining where we can and taking care of those who cannot learn new skills for whatever reasons. I am shocked at your so-called priorities and fear for the future of our Great Nation. Your lists spell DOOM, not MAGA!

And, things have only gone down hill from there. I am 72 years old now. I am truly wondering if I will survive this Administration. I worry for my grandchildren, especially my very young granddaughters of 9 and 11. What kind of world have I bequeathed to them? Hopefully not something akin to Gilead from Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale.  Like I said, I did not do enough when I had influence. Or thought I had influence.

Please forgive.

3 AM and do you know where your mind is?

Sometimes when you are awakened in the middle of the night, it is a good thing. It saves you from ugly dreams, jolts your mind into new a hyper state. Sometimes when you are awakened in the middle of the night, it just means there is no more sleep for you and you may as well get up and get going.

Last night was of the first order. I awoke and wondered what I thought I was trying to prove: still going to work about 70 hours this week, and still not getting ahead of the game. Don’t get me wrong, I do love my work. After all, it is my own business, my own rules. It is just that when there is upheaval on the business front, I find myself less able to roll with it, less able to go the long hours with an alert mind. I do not want to have to get sick from the stress in order to know when to fall back. I do not want to keep on keeping on until the mind or the body says “Halt, you fool!” Because, then it will be too late.

The question is: how do I stop before it is too late?

And, the rains came down and the rains came…

Rain has come, great lovely splashes of rain. And more is on the way, so much more that there are warnings of floods and gale winds. Apparently, I did my rain dance one too many times.

Yet, I cannot find it within me to complain. I will have to make sure the garden is protected and the umbrellas of summer put away. That will keep me busy tomorrow, for it is on Wednesday the storm is due. Prepare, prepare, prepare to stay safe.

“Safe” is not a magic word, however. Despite our best efforts rising waters on freeways end in accidents and injuries, sliding hillsides bring destruction to pretty houses, rivers roll over their banks and drown lanes and boulevards alike. Trees are uprooted, crashing on sidewalks and walls. And, the California hills turn brilliant green. Lush and verdant.

I am looking forward to sitting in my favorite chair, sipping chamomile tea, taking it all in through the windows and staying dry. (That means, I really need to keep an eye on the storm drain on the back patio – it likes to stop up with debris and make a minor lake next to the back doors.) So, sitting by the fire, but remaining vigilant. Keeping safe, with my slicker and rain boots handy by.

Ah, it is the good life!

I am not MacArthur, but I have returned nonetheless

Years ago, when I did not know any better, I thought I could write. Intervening experience has taught me otherwise. And, now faced with a blank page and a keyboard, I experience the most profound loss for words. It is quite amazing actually.

So, I did what I always do, find a new tool to inspire me. Historically, new tools have not brought me new insight. But I do keep software developers in pin money. I am hoping now that I have moved into my 70th decade, perhaps I can show a little more focus. Maybe.

Scanners at the airport: I see live people!

In response to this article on The New Republic wherein the author, Amitai Etzioni, tries to convince me that virtual strip searches are good for me and you:

http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/78250/private-security-virtual-strip-search

I say, not so fast!

Having recently endured a virtual strip search by inadvertently stepping into a shorter security line, I can tell you that facts aside, one does not feel one bit safer because of this technology. I am a 66 year old grandmother with auburn hair and blue eyes. I am most likely not ever going to wear exploding underwear. As I stood under a black arc of metal in front of hundreds of other people and I raised my arms overhead and placed my feet wide apart so the machine could decode my body felt totally invasive.

Then I was instructed to take my place on a “holding” mat until some unseen Reader verified I was not a threat to my fellow passengers. All of this and I STILL had to remove my shoes, jacket and scarf before entering into the scanner! The process took at least twice as long as the normal security screening.

Despite all the indignity and delay, I am not convinced that some enterprising terrorist could not circumvent all this by simply going through a non-Xray security line. Or, by just being more clever than our technology. The issue is not privacy per se, but more of “Who do we think we are fooling?”

It just feels like more of the same: closing the barn door after the horses have all broken out and damaged the garden. Seriously, I am well aware of the risks hijackers and bombers pose. I have to ask myself are there any security measures we devise that are not subject to breaking by those who wish to harm us? Those who wish to will find a way: hijackers use box cutters so now you have to leave your nail clippers at home, explosives in shoes (make all passengers remove their foot ware), bombs in jockey shorts (x-ray everyone), bomb components in toothpaste tubes and shampoo bottles (toiletries all under 2 ounces and fit in a quart baggie), and so on and so on.

The world is not a safe place. Never has been, never wil be. Scanning grandmas will make us all “feel” safer, however. And, that is what is important, isn’t it?

State of the Union

At long last a Health Care Reform bill has been signed by the President. It is far weaker than I had hoped, but it is on the right path. It was a big relief after all the fear-mongering and hate talk across the Nation for many many months.

However, the spiteful rhetoric continues. Almost unabated, in fact. I am still struggling to understand how so much fear can be generated by trying to secure the common good for all Americans. As our Constitution preamble states we should provide for a: more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

I am positive our deist founding fathers would never intend for us to step over the dying bodies of our neighbors who cannot obtain health insurance on our way to the grocery store. They believed in conserving our planet, caring for the less fortunate and holding our freedoms dear, to the point of sacrificing our lives for the right. They were never spiteful and fearful in the face of change.

No where in our founding documents or in the twenty-seven amendments will you find any hint of “All for me and you get your own!” mentality. As a nation we have tried to “form a more perfect union” which implies a work in progress, not a static un-changing state that cares not for the tired, hungry and homeless. America’s core values are much ballyhooed these days. If we are such a great and powerful nation, someone needs to explain how the core values of hatefulness and selfishness have taken over the American heart.

Preachers teach that Christianity will bring you wealth on This Earth, that Christians are blessed above all others. Perhaps this where we have gone wrong: twisting Christ’s teachings on the Mount from the “meek shall inherit the earth” to “take all you want. God has chosen you to reap all the riches and let everyone else fend for themselves.”

Yikes.

At least that is the rhetoric I hear across the land. When sitting with a perfectly normal looking couple the other day, I was astonished to hear incredibly hateful invectives fired at anyone who dares to help families care for their children with “handouts” from the government. Everything that I believe in is anathema to them. As I watched the woman expound on dismantling the Social Security system because they should not have to pay a tax for something she didn’t want and only stupid lazy people would need, I actually gasped at the look on her face: sheer hatred. She was irate, full of righteous indignation. Amazing! I must confess I was struck dumb in the full force and fury of her ire. I realized I could not communicate with her or her husband. We do not share the same language!

A sorry state of affairs.

Last Night I Dreamed of an Old Lover

When I awoke, I shook the dream from my head, like shards of dried leaves. After coffee, the thought of him returned and would not go away.

So, I searched for him on the Web and found that he had died peacefully at home a couple months ago. His death hung there in front of me – hard, cold and irrevocable.

I stared at the page for long minutes remembering our times together. Fleeting moments in one’s life, not enough to mark on the calendar even. Just a few afternoons of playfulness and tender loving. He was a bear of a man – all tight curls and round belly. Laughter flowing out of him, enveloping me like a cloud, sheltering me from the world.

But in the end, his poetry touched me deeper than his sex. And, we quickly moved on from our physical entanglements. And, then we just moved on. But his poetry stayed in my head and heart. I thought he would always be there, creating and laughing.

It seems we do not live forever, not even laughing poets.