The most powerful people in The White House.
First posted here on September 10, 2014
How We Have Failed since September 11
Tonight President Obama will address the nation about ISIS and any actions that we may take in response to the horrific murders of Americans and innocent civilians at the hands of terrorists.
Tomorrow there will be an observance in my community, and many others, to honor the thousands of lives lost to hate and terrorism, and to support the families and friends who knew someone they loved would never return home again.
Since September 11, 2001 we as a country have talked a lot about being kinder to one another and being a better country. Yet 13 years later this is what consumes us as a country:
- fighting about allowing two consenting adults of the same-sex to legally marry each
- failing to take care of the thousands of veterans who have defended our country, many of whom returned with horrible wounds from the Middle East since September 2001
- allowing private corporations to decided which forms of legal birth control they will cover for employees through company based health insurance because some corporations should have the same privileges as churches
- granting corporations the same rights as citizens so businesses can pour money into elections and our representatives’ pockets
- making it harder for citizens to exercise their right to vote
- subsidizing corporations with huge tax breaks while their employees working full-time never earn enough to break the poverty barrier
- denying the hard facts of science because profits should come before cleaning up the mess we’ve made of the entire planet
- deporting children
- complaining about failing schools while slashing teacher pay and testing our children to death
- sitting by silently while racism and sexism are displayed proudly
- being sure we can take our assault rifles into the grocery store
- we pay for and support violence on playing fields, in the movies we watch, video games we buy, music we listen to, and television shows we watch, but we react with horror when students are sprayed with bullets in their classrooms, women are drug from elevators by their hair, students are bullied, children and women are raped as well as being forced into prostitution
- too many among us are convinced that their brand of faith should be followed above all others, and if necessary the rights of other citizens should be denied because they choose to worship differently, or not at all
We absolutely should remember and honor the victims of September 11th’s violence. I’m just not convinced we are a country that is a better reflection of the democratic values and freedoms which terrorists intended to destroy 13 years ago.
There are two things I’ve thought before the election and remain committed to as we wait for more votes to be counted.
1. Georgia needs to change our Constitution to require a Secretary of State to resign if running for a different office. Changing the Constitution shouldn’t be the path to solving every problem, but it is the only way to address the less than above-board election this year, and protect future contests.
2. Yes, Nancy Pelosi has raised lots of money for Democrats, and yes, she corralled Democrats during difficult issues (Democrats say Pelosi has eyes in the back of her head, knows who is in the room, and how they will vote at any given moment). When do we make room for a new leader like this if not now? Could Pelosi be an interim Speaker with a transition plan to pass the gavel, as suggested by my friend and former Congressional candidate Carol Miller of New Mexico? With a wave of newly elected “firsts” across the country, it is time to pass the role of Speaker to someone with solid knowledge of the House and Congress. There is a role for Pelosi, but it shouldn’t be as Speaker of the House.
Early voting is underway across Georgia with hotly contested races for Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Insurance Commissioner, and of course Congressional districts. Being an informed voter requires doing the homework, and one of the best ways to do that is to listen to the candidates themselves. I love political pundits and editorial columns more than most people, but someone else’s coverage of what a candidate says isn’t the same as hearing them yourself (or reading their policy positions on their web sites).
Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Atlanta Press Club are hosting multiple candidate debates that are free and easy for the public to access online. Watch live or find them later on demand, or do both to go back and make sure you are clear on what was said, or just as important, what wasn’t said.
Whether you’ve made up your mind or not, these debates are good opportunities to learn more about the candidates. Time consuming? Sure.
But Georgia state senate and house members, and US House members, have a total of 17,520 hours on the clock during the two years as your representative. Four year representatives are in for 35,040 hours. Invest a little of your time over the next few days to know the candidates better.
Earlier this week I found this nifty tool for comparing the healthcare plan proposed by the Republicans (Trumpcare) to the current plan in place (Obamacare). Let’s call the plans what they are, since the Republicans considered attaching the former President’s name to the health care plan he championed, which provided affordable insurance to over 20Million more Americans, as a negative way to tag the plan and policies.
I also shared the Kaiser Family Foundation’s tool in a FaceBook group that was put together to support the hospital in my rural county. All I did was compare the differences in costs for a 60 year-old making $40,000 per year. I used the names Affordable Care Act and Affordable Health Care for America, not Obamacare and Trumpcare, respectively. I didn’t even mention either President or member of Congress by name.
Yesterday a local man took issue with posting the tool and providing the difference in coverage costs as criticism of the plan and the hospital. I responded today:
I am sharing the data. The tool allows people to use it themselves if they choose to do that. Both plans impact the access to care, and affordability of that care for local residents. Both plans also directly impact our hospital.
I’m smart enough to look at the numbers myself and work through the differences- I don’t have to wait for someone to explain it to me.
Have a good day and weekend.
What’s so scary about a an easy-to-use data tool with information that is readily available and verifiable? What’s to get “stirred up for no reason” about looking at information yourself? And perhaps worse, why does anyone think that we ought to, “wait for all the data to be processed.’? Even though this in a complex problem, it isn’t rocket science.
Why are Trump supporters so unhappy about comparing Trumpcare data to Obamacare data?
The mansplaining and “don’t you worry missy, wait until someone can explain it all to you” is another problem. If you look at the provisions for women’s health care in the Trumpcare plan, and the lack of respect for women and our ability to make information decisions about our health and bodies, well, no wonder this man thought I needed to just sit down and be quiet.
Clearly I didn’t take his words to heart.
The Friday Photo
January 27, 2016
Heeding the observation a wise friend shared with me the day after last year’s election, I am making a concerted effort to desegregate what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the most segregated hour” in our country. In November I visited the church just a block down the street from my house, a congregation established by former slaves not too many years after the end of the Civil War.
Last Friday, along with my husband and a friend, I attended the monthly community dinner at the Islamic Center of Macon. All three of us were warmly greeted and welcomed for the evening. My friend and I joined the women on their side of the partitioned room, where younger children played and roamed freely from our side to the one where the men gathered. . There were prayers, a practice round for a children’s quiz competition, and wonderful food.
Environmental advocacy connected all of us during dinner conversations. Our concerns ranged from food resources, clean water, and ways that the women we shared a meal with could be active in stewardship. In turn, we were invited to participate and support an interfaith women’s organization in Macon, and of course, to return again to join them.
The mosque where we gathered was vandalized in December 2015. When funds are secured they will relocated to a larger facility better suited for their needs. For now, on the edge of a neighborhood in the early stages of gentrification, just blocks from larger affluent Christian churches, faithful and peace-loving Muslims gather every week to worship, and when visitors appear, they open their arms to hug them as most welcome guests.
The Friday Photo
January 20, 2017
reposted with permission from my daughter McKinsey Cummings
An Open Letter to My Children on MLK Day
4 days prior to the inauguration of He Who Must Not Be Named: I’m sorry. Sorry that the world you were born into is about to change. Sorry that the value I raise you with: honesty, kindness, and fairness to all will not be the values reflected by the head of government in this country. When all this is over you will be teenagers and trying to find your place in the world. You will have heard and witnessed things I would have never thought possible for your generation. I promise I will show you the path of generosity of spirit and deed. And that the little voice in your heart must guide you in the face of overwhelming animosity that is sure to come. #notmypresident #bluedot #notthis
This saying has been circulating since the election, and I understand the thinking behind it.
It also reminds me of the passenger-heroes of Flight 93, who overtook hijackers on their September 11, 2001 flight, forcing the plane to crash in a Pennsylvania field instead of its intended metropolitan target.
If your plane has been hijacked, and you know it is on a suicide mission, do you sit by idly? Or, do you organize and try to regain control of the plane, putting it on its right course?
The Friday Photo
January 13, 2017
I did some checking on definitions last night. Carl Bernstein, who, with fellow reporter Bob Woodward, earned a Pulitzer Prize for the Washington Post after uncovering and reporting the Watergate break-in and resulting coverup, tagged Donald Trump’s campaign manager and staffer Kellyanne Conway, as the incoming administration’s Propaganda Minister. Bernstein bestowed that title following her complex and unsuccessful verbal gymnastic routine with Anderson Cooper over Trump’s media event on Wednesday.
I googled Propaganda Minister and the second listing was:
Jospeh Goebbels served Adolf Hitler as the Reich Minister of Propaganda of the Third Reich.
Another word getting lots of use in recent months is gaslighting. Wikipedia definition: Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of manipulation through persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying in an attempt to destabilize and delegitimize a target. The online resource goes on to offer examples: Sociopaths and narcissists frequently use gaslighting tactics. Sociopaths consistently transgress social mores, break laws, and exploit others, but typically are also convincing liars, sometimes charming ones, who consistently deny wrongdoing. Thus, some who have been victimized by sociopaths may doubt their own perceptions. Some physically abusive spouses may gaslight their partners by flatly denying that they have been violent.
Gaslighting may occur in parent–child relationships, with either parent, child, or both, lying to each other and attempting to undermine perceptions. Gaslighting also occurs in examples of school bullying. The word gaslighting is often used to describe the tactics of the President-elect. Teenvogue, of all places, had an excellent editorial on Trump’s tactics.
Kellyanne Conway, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, told CNN that people should stop judging the President-elect by his words, and instead judge him by his heart.
OK. Let’s use his actions as a measure of his heart.
Trump mocked a reporter who is physically disabled.
Beauty pageant contestants said he would walk into dressing rooms while they were nude and not excuse himself immediately.
The President-elect has been taken to court by contractors he refuses to pay.
He agreed to a settlement of $25M in lawsuits brought against the defunct Trump University including a penalty due to the state of New York for claiming to operate a “university” when it wasn’t one.
Trump cheated on his first wife, Ivana Trump, with the woman who became his second wife, Marla Maples.
Although he has five children, Trump refuses to do any of the physical care of his children.
Trump picked a fight with Khizi and Ghazala Kahn, whose son was killed in military action.
If we let Trump’s actions serve as the measure of his heart, that isn’t any more encouraging than his words or Tweets.
The weekend’s news was filled with the glitter and fluff of New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world. According to several reports, the criticism of Mariah Carey’s appearance Saturday night on national TV quickly dissolved into trashing Carey, her plea to the audience to sing, and barbs between Carey and the show’s producer over sound systems and lip-syncing gone bad.
I was reminded of the incredible grace that Patti Smith displayed, and received from the audience, when she performed on behalf of Bob Dylan’s recognition as the 2016 recipient for the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Smith lost her way in Dylan’s winding second verse of A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall. When she realized she was repeating words, tried to find her place, and had to pause again, Smith told the audience,“I’m sorry, I’m so nervous.”
The audience, filled with dignitaries, responded with grace and kindness by offering applause. Smith regained her composure, the musicians helped her return to the song, and Smith finished the song.
The audience at Times Square on New Year’s Eve isn’t there to be somber and sit still. It is due professional respect, the same kind that Smith extended to her audience in Sweden last month, and that she received in return.
The Friday Photo
December 2, 2016
Wear, wash, repeat.
Since the wee hours of last Wednesday morning I have wondered how long I would leave the Clinton/Kaine sign up in my yard. Over the weekend, my cousin in California, parked in their driveway within sight of their Clinton/Kaine sign, had a car window smashed. Someone with a Trump/Pence sticker on their car leaned on their horn and sped past me last Thursday afternoon outside Atlanta. Violence and rudeness (never mind safety on an interstate road with cars driving at 65+ mph) don’t win any points for Trump/Pence supporters.
With the announcement that Steve Bannon, a candidate for the Mr Anti-Semitic Lifetime Achievement Award, to serve as Trump’s chief strategist, I decided to Sit Shiva with my yard sign, as many Jewish people do following a death (although, to be clear, last week’s election outcome was not a death sentence for diversity and greater equality, but instead a wake-up call). The sign will be put away tomorrow, a full seven days after the election, even though Clinton/Kaine did receive more votes.
Jehovah Witnesses wearing safety pins
This morning I heard someone knock on our front door, and since we are “come to the back door” folks, I knew a stranger must be knocking. I stepped outside to keep the dogs from making a racket, and was greeted by two black women, one maybe in her mid-late 50s and another in her 60s. They were holding Bibles and Jehovah Witness’s pamphlets, dressed in skirts and shoes intended for walking most of the day.
Before I could say anything I realized this was a chance to practice some patience and tolerance, which is in short supply in our country. We all said hello, and then I asked them as politely as possible, to not come back, and that I have asked others who came before them to strike us from their list. They said they were new here, our house wasn’t marked to be skipped, they repeated the house number, said they would take care of it.
The older of the two women had a safety pin on her scarf, and I said, “I see your safety pin, and I forgot to put mine on. We’re Quakers here, and you are always welcome if you need to find a bathroom or want a glass of water, but we’re fine.”
The younger woman said, “We all want peace.” They made note again of the house number, we all smiled, and I came back inside feeling a little better about where we can be if we are willing to try. It isn’t about wearing a safety pin; it is about being ready to do my part.
Last Thursday I drove to Hendersonville, North Carolina for an annual event called Life Is A Verb Camp. On the way home Sunday afternoon I opted for less interstate and more two lane roads.
In addition to the fall-colored leaves I saw lots of Trump/Pence signs, which really didn’t surprise me as a fellow Southern rural citizen. What had been floating around in the back of mind for a long time began to move more to the front of my thoughts; how are the polls capturing the rural voter? Are they getting to us at all? Am I underestimating the urban turnout?
Last week Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight polling and punditry kept setting aside the poll numbers at a certain point in his figuring, which dogged me about who people say they will vote for and what they will do in the privacy of the voting booth.
Last night Van Jones put his finger on what I was thinking: white-lash. It has been a large and unspoken element in the room on top of the anti-Muslim, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Semitic, anti-woman, my version of Christianity is the only one, anti-choice, denying access to affordable health care, putting profits before our natural resources, loosening gun control laws, and the list goes on and on.
I live among the voters who showed up in force at the polls and elected Donald Trump and Mike Pence; white rural Americans.
It should not be a surprise to readers of Rural and Progressive that I write from a perspective that there are two Americas, an urban and a rural America. Many rural Americans harbor some level of racism. I’ve heard it and seen it. For some people that has been the unspoken driver behind opposition to all-things Obama. And it brought people out in force to elect a TV personality whose favorite line is, “You’re fired.”
Yesterday white rural America told Donald Trump and Mike Pence, “You’re hired.”
I may live in rural America, but the not so subtle racism and divisive values espoused by Trump and Pence are not my values. And they aren’t the values of every rural American.
I’m no less proud of being a Hillary supporter today than I was yesterday, because I believe in a country where diversity is valued and celebrated. That’s the country I will continue to help build.
Trump supporters, male and yes, female, are burning up Twitter with the hashtag #repealthe19th. The 19th Amendment gave women the vote. Multiple polls show that if only women voted in November, the slam-dunk for Clinton/ Kaine, and probably most Democratic Congressional candidates, would be deafening.
I have a suggestion for men and women who think repealing the 19th Amendment is a good idea: sit this election out and see how that feels.
Get out the Twister mats! Donald Trump supporters will have to contort themselves into world-class Twister champions to defend their candidate’s comments revealing that he is a perpetrator of sexual assault.
Donald Trump, the standard-bearer of the party President Dwight D. Eisenhower represented, told reporter Billy Bush that he sexually assaults women he considers beautiful (and we already know that Trump describes women he considers to be unattractive as “disgusting,” “pigs,” “fat,” and “slobs.”). As Trump and Bush departed a tour bus, Donald Trump, the man Republicans chose as their nominee for President of the United States said,
“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]. I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait,”
That’s right. The man who aspires to be President of the United States said he kisses women if he feels like kissing them.
And that’s not all he’s said about how he treats women. Trump also told Bush,
“And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Grab them by the pussy. The Republican nominee for President says he grabs women by the pussy if he wants to, because, “You can do anything.”
That’s not so veiled code for, “I sexually assault women because I feel like it.”
Can anyone imagine a President Trump breaking ranks and grabbing Kate Middleton’s pussy in a receiving line because he thinks she is beautiful? Would he walk past Queen Elizabeth in the process?
If you think it is offensive to write about the Duchess of Cambridge’s pussy, instead of choosing the word crotch, then why is it ok for Trump to volunteer that he grabs a woman’s pussy if he wants to?
It isn’t ok for any man to do that to any woman.
And it is never ok to elect that man to be the President of the United States.
What started after the 2008 election with the election of a black man to the White House, threatens to come full circle to a full-on “take back the government” uprising if Hillary Clinton is elected. Jimmy Arno of Georgia is just one of many who say they will be, I don’t know, marching to Washington, D.C., to lead some type of revolution if the election doesn’t go their way. Militia member Charles Keith Cobble claims they screen their fanatic members to make sure they aren’t KKK folks, but really, this type of “background check,” as Cobble calls it, is a farce.
In his conversation with Ryan Lentz of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, Adam Ragusea of GPB rightly makes note that white people carrying guns are usually called militia members, and brown people are called terrorists.
The fear gripping white people, primarily poorly educated, lower-income men (I am making a broad statement and I am not going to go down a rabbit hole with anyone on it), started with racism, and now it has expanded to include women. Donald Trump fed this type of mindset. He started with birtherism, and has woven in a complete and utter disrespect for women into his mixture of hatred and fear.
It bears repeating: we withstood the resignation of one President, and a 5-4 Supreme Court vote for another one. Electing Hillary Clinton will not be the worst thing to happen to this country. And it certainly won’t be worth starting a civil war over.
As a historian, I am a believer in hearing things for yourself and reading primary documents. Ezra Klein has excerpts from last night’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Ford Motor Company had to fact check Trump on September 15th (below),
followed by some of the greatest hits from the debate:
And perhaps my favorite
Reposted with permission from Grace Kelley. The original post appeared on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 on The Millennial Falcon, All the list-icles that are fit to print.
The Truth About Interracial Marriage in 2016
Yesterday, when the shooting of Terence Crutcher started going viral, I posted this as my Facebook status:
“All my Facebook memories are about how [husband] and I were going to get married in a week this time last year, or how we were about to celebrate our one-year anniversary six years ago, but all I can think about is how I’ll have to hold him a little tighter tonight.”
I was hoping to give people a little glimpse into my reality, but I’m not sure everyone got it. So let me spell it out for you: I have to hug my husband a little tighter because he’s Black.
I have admittedly not been in an intra-racial marriage but I am constantly trying to show people that my marriage and theirs are not terribly different. My husband and I bicker about the normal things: chores, his front seat driving, whose responsibility dinner was on that particular day. We were asked about our biggest, most recent fight in pre-marital counseling and my husband said, truthfully, that it was about Sansa Stark’s character growth, or lack thereof, on Game of Thrones.
But the differences are pointed—notice how I said “front seat” driving earlier? That’s because I drive us everywhere. On paper he is the better driver; I have a few fender-benders on my record, and my husband will tell you that he has witnessed us almost get into many fender benders in the duration of our relationship. The short answer for why I drive everywhere is because he has terrible car anxiety. The long answer is I have terrible car anxiety, for him.
We are fortunate enough to say that we only have one sour experience with law enforcement. When we were sophomores in college, my husband was pulled over. We were running late for a play because the local Chinese restaurant had taken an hour and a half to make our food for pickup. He legally passed someone on the dotted yellow line, not going above the speed limit to pass. (And this was a small state road, so the speed limit was 35. For my husband to pass someone while still managing to go that slowly means the person he passed was going REALLY slowly.) We drove to outside the theater on the college campus, he put his hazards on, and I dashed back to my dorm room to get the tickets to the play.
When I got back, there was a cop car with blue lights flashing. The cop and my husband were arguing, benignly but bitterly, that my husband had been speeding. I sat down in the passenger’s seat and in my sweetest, most innocent Southern belle voice said, “What seems to be the problem, Officer?”
The officer said that my husband had been speeding. I said I was there and I had not seen the speedometer go above 35. The officer looked between us and let my husband go with a warning dripping with racist contempt, even using the word “boy.”
Some people I tell this story to ask me with dramatic wonder if I think my presence saved my husband’s life that night. It’s one of those questions that reveals more about the asker than the answerer. I’m his wife, not his white savior, but I digress. I don’t think it would have come to that, but a dark voice in the recess of my mind says, “So did all the victims of recent police shootings. They didn’t think stopping their car on the side of the road because it broke down or reading a book while waiting for someone would ‘come to that’ either.”
And that’s what makes my bones feel like concrete when these stories come out. My husband and I got the same degree from the same prestigious university. We were both on the dean’s list. We got the same academic awards. He was an RA all four years in school—yes, even as a freshman—and former bosses, from Taco Bell in high school to his current position, consistently say he’s the best employee they’ve ever had. He is a son, a brother, an uncle, a husband, a human being. He loves video games. He is an excellent, inventive cook. He sings as frequently as you or I might breathe. He’s not even aware he’s doing it most of the time. Where there is air, he must fill it with song.
But if the wrong cop feels the wrong sort of way, all of that won’t matter, and my husband could answer for it with his life. All that we have worked for and will work for could be gone in an instant. Marriages that don’t end in divorce end by one of the partners dying before the other, and I am frankly tired of feeling like my days with him are numbered.
It hurts to see friends and family champion “family values” and then go on to use the hashtag “#BlueLivesMatter” or “#AllLivesMatter.” They write about how police officers have spouses and children who worry that their loved one might not make it home tonight, and I want to scream that I have the SAME EXACT FEAR for my family, but no, my fear is “unfounded paranoia” despite hours upon hours of cell phone footage that says otherwise, I and my husband have nothing to be afraid of if we really haven’t done anything wrong.
It’s not that I don’t respect and admire cops. Far from it. I’d say 90% of my interactions with them have been positive despite the fact that cops, like doctors, often see people during the worst moments of their lives. It’s just that people bristle when I demand that cops treat me and my family with the same respect and that seems . . . off.
It would save us all a lot of time if these “family values” people would just come out and admit that my little fledgling family doesn’t have value to them.
On Saturday, my husband and I leave for our honeymoon. I will drive. We are visiting relatives in Selma, where the Edmund Pettus Bridge is, and then we will get to the beach. We’ll agree that he should stay in the car if I have to get gas in rural south Alabama. He doesn’t need me to “save” him like the person I wrote about before seems to think, but my white bullshit-tolerance is higher than his.
A couple of months ago, I had a dream about our son. We don’t have kids yet but there was no mistaking that this child was half mine, half his. He had dark ringlets the size of pencils. Big brown eyes that will just make you melt. A dimple in his left cheek like his father and I both have.
I woke up in pain, not normal-stiffness but those concrete bones. Something has to change before we meet this kid. Something.
Our country withstood the resignation of a President, and nine judges holding the fate of an election in their hands. Kentucky’s Governor, Matt Bevin, calls for violence if voters choose Hillary Clinton as the next President.
This is not ok. Ever. Jay Bookman spells it out in his column today.