Posted in Uncategorized

Four Dead in Oh-Hi-Oh.

I miss the days when I could just relax and write about walks through gardens, snow monuments and dinner plans. So much has changed, so fast, that I can barely keep up with it. Russian election interference, unbelievable corruption in DC, the exposure of sexism and violence against women and – now – the deaths of even more children carried out by unstable people with no apparent protections against their purchase of weapons more suitable for a battlefield than for a city street or building. I’m glad to see that the victims of this violence, the children themselves, are leading a renewed charge against gun violence. At the same time, I’m horrified to realize that the victims themselves are the only ones willing to take a stand against the prospect of their own eventual murder.

Die in by teens at White House
Sale on bump stocks this President’s Day!

I welcome this new demographic to the Resistance, but am appalled that teenagers and not adults are the ones having to carry this torch. I live in a state with very strict gun laws – Massachusetts. After this, our legislators are debating making them even more strict. There have been no mass shootings in my state. There are gun deaths, but nothing on the scale of what’s been happening in places like Florida or Texas.

Until now we’d all become used to the regular reports of shootings in this place or that place. Like many, I sighed and shook my head. I hoped things would start to change in November, at the commencement of mid-term elections. Then these teenagers stepped onto the scene, crying enough! even as tears ran down their cheeks.  I watched Emma Gonzales, one of the survivors of the recent Florida high school shooting, giving a speech at an anti-gun rally. I suddenly realized that this time was different. This time people were standing up to the NRA and to the politicians who placed their lives in danger every single school day. She called out Trump especially, as a major recipient of NRA funding and as someone who’s doing nothing to address the overwhelming prevalence of guns in this country. Nobody wrote that speech for her. It came from her gut and she had to step several times during its presentation to wipe tears from her eyes.

Emma Gonzalez

Kids shouldn’t have to do this. They shouldn’t be facing possible execution every time they enter a classroom at school. The gun industry and their supporters, the NRA and gun-friendly legislators in DC and in the states where these things happen are responsible for this.

Boston will have a rally on Saturday, March 24 to stand against gun violence. I plan to go. I feel it’s necessary, in the same way I felt that attending the Women’s March last January was necessary.

Baby boomers may remember the demonstrations and sit-ins of the 1960s and early 1970s. This moment in time reminds me of those days, only these days are deadlier. A few days ago I assembled a playlist of songs from that time. I was a teenager in those days and a very different person. One of the songs, “Ohio,” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young resonates on a number of levels. Look up the Kent State shootings on Google. The Ohio National Guard opened fire on a group of unarmed anti-war protesters, killing four and wounding others. On the one hand, its a catchy song by a band whose music I still really like. On the other hand, my first reaction to hearing it for the first time after all these decades was, “only four? Wow. That wouldn’t headline the news these days.”

Listen to this song and substitute teenage bodies on the ground. Or elementary school students. Or college kids. Replace the soldiers with alienated and angry shooters, armed to the teeth with legally-obtained weapons. Then, with the protesters, raise your fist and say, “No!”

And march. Students are organizing marches throughout the country. Do your goddamned duty, grown-up America, and stand with them.

Four dead in Ohio. 17 dead in South Florida. 20 dead at Sandy Hook. 58 dead in Las Vegas. 27 dead in Sutherland Springs. Do I need to list them all?

Trump and NRA Banner
Accessories to Murder
Posted in Black Lives Matter, DACA/Dreamers, Donald Trump, immigration, Politics

The Mother of Exiles

Illegal sign
If so, then why not me?

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This is the entire statue of liberty poem, written by Emma Lazarus. It basically tells the rich to stay home and the poor, “the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore,” to come here. Come to America. The poem was written by Emma Lazarus, as part of an overall effort to raise money for a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. the “mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name MOTHER OF EXILES.”

In those days, we stretched an open hand to immigrants, now we’ve turned that hand into a fist to exile our own people – the children of immigrants who came to the US as children and who grew up and thrived here. Now they’re people from “shithole” countries, according to the President, who’d prefer rich, white Europeans like Norwegians. They’ve shut down the government over it – leadership by a 5-year-old having a temper tantrum.

I cringe at Trump’s words, rage as his vacillation as he changes his mind from hour to hour, blowing up one bipartisan funding plan after another. First he says yes, I’ll sign a bill that protects dreamers if you give me funding for the wall. A few hours later, he says no, he doesn’t want more people from those shithole countries. What he really means is pretty obvious. I’ll take white people, but black and brown people can suck the air for all he cares. Racism. Our President is an open, hostile racist and the entire country is paying the price for his attitude and behavior.

Trump as an anti-immigration baby
Me, me, me first!

I’m appalled by our current political situation, in ways that I haven’t been before. At the same time, I feel an obligation as an American citizen – the granddaughter of immigrants myself – to clean up the mess the President and his spineless and greedy Republican majority are making. Talk about shit. All they did this year was vote themselves a tax cut, all the while under-staffing critical government positions, packing the courts with right-wing judges, trying to rescind access to health care and blame our problems on illegal immigrants trying to make a living by picking our vegetables and taking the worst jobs at the lowest level of pay. And that’s just skimming the surface. I could list the damage the Republicans have done for another hour. And now we don’t have a government. And they’re blaming the Democrats (who are finally showing some spine, thank you very much) when the Republican party controls all three branches of government.

Statue of Liberty
She weeps

I feel very strongly about the dreamers, maybe because of my own immigrant background. These are folks who grew up in this country and who have little – or no – ties to the countries their parents came from. They’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. They grew up here. They fucking grew up here. Same as me. English is their native language, the US is their home. Some of them didn’t even know they were “illegal” until they tried to get a driver’s license or go to college. They’re in the military. They own businesses. And even if they don’t, even if they’re truck drivers or meat packers, they’re one of us and we take care of our own. Or we should. Maybe that’s a white, middle-class perspective. It doesn’t look to me like communities of color get the same treatment. Black Lives do Matter and don’t give me that crap about how all lives matter. Some lives seem to matter more than others and immigrant lives matter even less than that. I’m furious but I’m also in pain, because I happen to love this country – despite its faults. I am angry at the people who are, basically, taking a dump on it. We’re better than this. I am an American and we’re not that way. I’m not that way. I would have to deny everything that I am to be that way.

We are all immigrants. Mine came from Poland. They came here for the same reasons immigrants have always come here, to step out of poverty and avoid the violence killing everybody else. I’m proud of my heritage, but I am an American. How would I feel if the government suddenly decided that I was illegal and had to leave? I don’t speak Polish, I’ve only been there once. It’s not my home and it’s not my culture. I carry threads of it throughout my life, particularly during holidays. I’m proud of my Polish heritage, but I am not Polish. I am an American. And so are the dreamers.

Posted in Music, Politics, Songs of the Resistance

Soundtrack for the Resistance – (2) Despair is Not an Option

Despair is not an option (Bernie Sanders)

Hope is the one seat they have not already taken (Margy, author of this blog)

Trump is busy de-funding Planned Parenthood and I’m getting ready for a tax protest march on the Cambridge Common  this Saturday. We still don’t know where Trump is getting his money and how much of it he’s paying his taxes. Is Russia his overlord? We have no idea. Everyone else in Trump’s camp seems to be on the Kremlin’s payroll.

We will not crawl into a corner and blow away. We will show up at town halls, make calls, find new progressive candidates to run against the Koch machine and – eventually – we will prevail. Tiny steps, yes. Incremental advances, but the push is on.

And we will sing. In this interconnected world, the voices are coming from around the world, but the message is the same. We will not accept this. Our setbacks are only that. Like some crazy political whack-a-mole, one protest that’s put down leads to several more in other places. The Dakota Access Pipeline may have been rammed through a nation’s sovereign borders, but other nations-within-a-nation are taking up the struggle.

Ever hear of the Pilgrim pipeline in New York and New Jersey? How about the Sabal Pipeline for natural gas in Florida? Nobody’s giving in to this.

The New Dakota Pipeline?

By the way, in my research I found out that indigenous people from throughout the US and the world came to support the protesters at Standing Rock. We all remember the military folks who came to apologize for their part in earlier massacres and land theft, but did you know that the New Zealand Maori and the Australian aborigines also sang and danced in their honor? Did you know other US and Canadian tribes came to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux? This journey has led to my own education and a feeling that Native Americans may just be starting to feel their oats once again. About time we treated native Americans like human beings.

Like the song says, stand up. Be strong and don’t let the current right wing wave wash you out to sea. Stay rested, take breaks from social media, love like there’s no tomorrow. If we don’t, there will NOT be a tomorrow.

I’ll wind this screed up with another trip down memory lane because, yeah, I’m a baby boomer and so are a lot of the women marching at the head of the crowd:

Watch out now, take care
Beware of falling swingers
Dropping all around you
The pain that often mingles
In your fingertips
Beware of darkness

Watch out now, take care
Beware of the thoughts that linger
Winding up inside your head
The hopelessness around you
In the dead of night

Beware of sadness
It can hit you
It can hurt you
Make you sore and what is more
That is not what you are here for

Watch out now, take care
Beware of soft shoe shufflers
Dancing down the sidewalks
As each unconscious sufferer
Wanders aimlessly
Beware of Maya

Watch out now, take care
Beware of greedy leaders
They take you where you should not go
While Weeping Atlas Cedars
They just want to grow, grow and grow
Beware of darkness (beware of darkness)

Song and Lyrics by George Harrison

Stand up. Stay on your feet. Don’t succumb to inertia, fear or cynicism. We have to do this.

#resistancesoundtrack

Posted in Black Lives Matter, Donald Trump, Elizabeth Warren, Occupy-Wall-Street, Politics, Womens March

Add One More Activist

I’ve participated in American democracy primarily by voting, at least up until now. I voted when I turned 18 and still show up for every election in the many, many years since. Like many of us, the election of Donald Trump has suddenly turned me into an honest-to-God activist. I’m calling my representatives in congress, writing letters to the paper and will be meeting a member of my Congresswoman’s staff this Friday. My Congresswoman will still be in DC. Otherwise I’d be meeting with her in person. I’ve been watching videos of town meetings in other parts of the country, where hundreds or thousands of people have been turning up to protest and let their elected reps know they’re on notice.

Republicans, alas, control both houses of Congress so there have been setbacks. We have a Secretary of Education who knows nothing about public schools or college education. We have a Secretary of State (Jeff Sessions) who was condemned by Coretta Scott King back in the 1980s for his support of racism and segregation. My Senator, Elizabeth Warren, was shut down by Republicans before she could conclude her testimony against Sessions. As a result, #she persisted is now a viral meme on the internet.

The Supreme Court nomination process worries me. These are lifetime appointments and we have a split court. It’s been rightward-tilting up until the death of one of the judges and the Republicans held up Obama’s nominee for an entire year. Right now we have four liberals and four conservatives. Another conservative could set progress back for generations. Trump’s nominee will need 60 votes to pass, which means some Democrats will have to vote for him. At the very least, there’s a great deal of pressure on them to delay or defer that vote. A lot of people are saying that the seat was stolen by the Republicans’ refusal to consider Obama’s candidate for so long. Maybe we’ll just have to wait, at least until 2018 when we might be able to get the Senate back, this time with forward-thinking, progressive Democratic candidates.

It’s been an amazing time. Massive demonstrations and mass actions everywhere. It feels different, like we’re on the verge of a revolution. All the energy that went into the Occupy, Black Lives Matter and other movements feel like they’ve come together into one, huge, uproar.

And maybe the women will lead. The Womens March, Elizabeth Warren and the rest may be at the head of the line this time, leading us to change.

 

Posted in Boston, Massachusetts, Politics, Womens March, Wow!

Making History

Boston Globe article
A Second American Revolution?

I made history yesterday, along with several  million people all over the world. I participated in the Boston Women’s March for America. We were 175,000 people strong. By the time we got to the Boston Common, the area was so crowded that we couldn’t hear the speakers, only clapping and roars from the crowd closer in. It took us over two hours just to get from where were stood at the center-rear of the Common to the street where the march commenced. I was surrounded by energy, love, diversity and hope.

I came with 16 other people, organized by my good friend Michele. She gathered family and friends, many of whom came in from other New England states to participate in the march. Some of those same folks left that same night. I applaud their energy and enthusiasm. We represented all ages. Michele (as well as many of us) is in her 60s. She was joined by siblings, nieces, friends of nieces and more. We had a family tree on its way to Boston Common!

It was an amazing day. Our numbers were far higher than anyone had expected. The same was true of marches in other parts of the country. We were a sea of pink pussy hats yesterday and we sent a message, whether or not our new “president” deigned to hear it. Everyone else did.

I’m still floating today. Every news source was full of stories and pictures of millions of people demonstrating and marching. There were marches in Antarctica, Europe, Asia and Africa. The DC event was the largest protest march in history. Our election put our own people as well as people in the rest of the world in danger. As an American, I have a responsibility to rectify that. Donald Trump was not elected by a majority, but by an antiquated electoral system that did not serve the interests of the American people in November.

I feel empowered, for the first time in months. And, I don’t intend to stop here. The marches were just the first volley in our second American revolution.