Category Archives: democracy

Opinion fact and doubt – a personal issue

We don’t go out much anymore but did last night. It was lovely. The hosts are terrific cooks (always such a treat!) and another neighbor couple that we enjoy attended. We used to see these people more. There is abiding affection and we really welcomed the chance to catch up.

But here’s the thing. Self-doubt mucks up the works for me.

I rocket between bombast and feeling silenced. I interrupt. I’m curious but impatient. I want to know what people really think but I don’t want it to take forever. I want them to know what I think but sometimes have trouble inserting myself. So I launch grenades. Abbreviate myself to the point of inscrutability.

ADD has a role in this. Irish word drama, too. But self-doubt might be the MOST operative factor.

I want to be believed and failing that, I want to believe myself. At least, when I’m pretty certain of a thing. Instead, I reflexively grant my questioner more authority than I grant myself.

I do excruciating post-mortems. Just ask K. Or, read on.

There I was in bed last night ranting and googling. Googling and ranting. SEE? Roxane Gay DOES live in LA! Of course I know this. I’ve followed her forever on Instagram and am a little star struck, and so why did I question myself? Why?

SEE? It says right there: Ayanna Pressley co-chair of Warren’s campaign. I’ve been carefully following how Warren is trying redress her “lack of receipts” in the black community, so of course I know this, knew it in real time, celebrated it, so why did I question myself.

Soon after the appointment, I took the time to watch a fraught moment of EW’s at an arena in Atlanta and scanned enough black Twitter to get a sense of why it was controversial (Pressley took the mic when black protestors interrupted — EW using a black woman as a shield?!) Seen challenges at how the three co-chairs were depicted in the announcing photo (racial stereotype much?) I mean, we’re talking a granular level of attention here. So why didn’t my assertion carry more weight?

Did it carry weight?

(On the point of close attention, I was the only one at the table who’d listened to EW’s New Year’s Day address and noted with approval, therefore, her use of the term “enslaved” when referring to our first black poet, Phyllis Wheatley. Applauded out loud how artfully EW wove facts about the poet’s life into her remarks. Not at all facile. It’s an inspiring speech not just because of how thoroughly EW seems to be integrating lessons about race, but for everything else she says, too).

What’s with all the doubt?

(Another relevant example: how the #KHive on twitter practically ruined Warren for me. Together with the whole “unelectable” thing, I’ve been in pretty full retreat. Is this realism or doubt?)

Gay and Pressley were the easy issues. Verifiable.

But what about Bernies’s terrible record on guns or his faux “outsider status” and what exactly is black opinion on Kamala’s prosecutorial record?

So yes I misspoke (for effect!?) about sex trafficking and Robert Kraft, but immediately joined in the correction because of course I knew that the questionable trumpian Chinese proprietor no longer owned the place at the time of the incident.

Oh, do you see?

I want to occupy my sit bones and speak from a place of quiet authority. To listen better, too.

To end, let me reference a very upsetting dream from last night (talk about doubt!)

I am being questioned by a black woman about what I have actually done to promote justice or to inform my writing about black characters and slavery. I lamely answer, “I read a lot?” She nods as if to say ‘that’s not nothing,’ but… Another black woman has stolen ALL my sewing needles. I take some of them back. Somewhere on the wall, a quote of mine is posted. It’s old and unevolved and embarrassing. I can’t remember now what it said.

A word about optimism

From a Medium article entitled, How to stay sane if Trump is driving you insane: Advice from a therapist.

“There are times when optimism is not appropriate or possible, and this is one of those times. Our President is delusional, lying, or ignorant; disastrous climate change and war with North Korea loom; marginalized people in our society are suffering. Faced with these calamities, catastrophic thinking is a rational response.”

She recommends:

  1. Radical acceptance. Clear eyed acceptance. Seeing things as they are now.
  2. Feeling the inevitable grief.
  3. Practicing mindfulness, in particular countering bad news with good (because pessimism is not useful either).

“You may object, “But I can’t just forget all the terrible things going on!” You are right. Mindfulness is not about forgetting. It is about shifting focus to what is most immediate and most helpful. We help no one by staying in our anguish for long. Bernie Sanders said it best: ‘Despair is not an option.‘”

These are digital collages that I made at four this morning. They incorporate quilts and photos of collages, so the layers are numerous, sometimes past counting.

The images speak for themselves but to name a few: the virgin atop a cathedral near Assisi as well as an Italian stone archway, an antique bird cage for sale in Essex, Mass. Quilts on the line in the backyard, a woven cloth painting, and another close up of patchwork. A SoulCollage (r) card made from magazine pictures.

As usual, I used Diana photo app for double exposures and Prisma app to create mosaics.

Fragile

Can I just say, yesterday I got spooked. It wasn’t just the fear of falling on black ice, it was also the hearings with all that gaslighting, inverting of sense and fact. How the lying seems to work. By now, too, I know that I always feel terrible after trump has been abroad. The embarrassment and the visible costs of his corrupt incompetence are harsh to note.

How fragile it all seems! I know people say it all the time, but yesterday I felt it in my body. How we might not make it. As a republic or a planet.

Prompt after writing prompt produces articulations of rage and despair about climate deniers and about the damage itself. After teaching Tuesday’s class (on Zoom because of the snow emergency), I thought, why does this keep coming up? Then yesterday: why doesn’t it come up more?

In fact, how can we talk about anything else?

Tomorrow there’s a climate strike in Copley Square. I’m not planning to go. It’s been a long week with K in China and back to back snowstorms. But I laud the young people skipping school to protest — getting their priorities right.

The first thing I listened to this morning was the inspiring, intelligent, beautiful Naomi Klein. She and Rebecca Solnit keep trying to remind us that climate denial is violence. Abuse. Part of a pattern of corporate greed.

It’s worth the six minute listen.

PS A few weeks ago, I read Maddow’s book about ‘the world’s most destructive industry on earth’ — the fossil fuel industry. Amazing how much is about Russia.

What counts as good news

Maddow on pause because I just can’t take anymore right now. And you know, it’s not just the onslaught of breaking, awful news, it’s also (and this happens frequently), the disorientation that arises when a big scoop turns out to be something we’ve heard before, maybe even more than once and often over a year ago (recent example, David Farenthold’s Washington Post story on trump’s hypocritical dependence on immigrants without legal status at his various businesses).*

Before pausing the news just now, I learned the identity of this MAGA-hat guy that I used on a SoulCollage card as a stand-in for the rot that trump has exposed. Turns out he’s the worst of the worst. He’s Andrew Anglin, founder of the Daily Stormer website, terrorist extraordinaire. He was one of the organizers of the Charlottesville protest two years ago. He’s a Holocaust denier who advocates Jewish genocide and has an army of like-minded white nationalists at his disposal. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls him “a prolific Internet troll and serial harasser.”

Well — judges in three recent high profile cases have awarded Anglin’s victims damages.

If you remember, these are the kinds of law suits that the Southern Poverty Law Center filed to good effect against klansman years ago.

The imposition of damages on white nationalists and their organizations counts as GOOD NEWS, particularly since we now know that the Department of Justice cannot be relied upon any longer to do the right thing (the legal, moral thing). As long as these cases come before judges appointed in the pre-trump era, we can hope for more satisfying outcomes.

* in reading the Washington Post piece this morning, I can appreciate what’s hopeful there, too, actually.

In a world where Democrats are slow-walking the impeachment process, we can look to state courts for interim justice. They have to be courts out of the reach of AG Barr, of course, but since they are, they’re also courts not bound by the OLC memo prohibiting indictment of a sitting president AND their judgments cannot be subject to presidential pardon power. Surely state laws are being broken by not only hiring undocumented immigrants but in instructing them in where and how to get fake papers.

Meanwhile K arrived home from his 49th trip to China last night and I’m off to Western Mass. tomorrow for a writing retreat. I kinda wish I was staying home honestly.

Lastly, what good news have you to report? I’ll start: CBD oil seems to be helping with my joints!

Indivisible phone call — voices of reason

So who’s going to Pride?
I am! Yes, can’t wait.
It’s the 50th.
Who’s driving? Taking the T? Is it noon — 12:45?

There’s this dedication in Medford. To mark the graves of the enslaved. Going there instead.

Did you see Gillette’s trans shaving ad? So great! So great!

Did you see Kushner — disgusting. Axios? Australian interviewer. Three times saying about birtherism, “I didn’t have anything to do with that.” Wouldn’t say it was racist.

CNBC: Trump baby blimp

London?  The baby in diapers blimp! McCain hat projected on building.
The Brits know how to protest! Feed him to the corgis.

He fell asleep during Queen’s remarks.
This long twitter thread on dementia. Quite advanced. Slurring, body twitches, wide-legged walk.Can progress rapidly. Only question is: what KIND of dementia?

Would we know the difference?

I called my rep: ‘take a stand on impeachment.’
What IS his stand on impeachment?
He says everything’s on the table. Like Pelosi.

Back and forth.

Argument against impeachment

  • what might happen in 2020.

Arguments for impeachment

  • political speculation has been wrong;
  • his base is already fired up (and what about the Dem base, BTW);
  • polls based on static view are bound to change after weeks of televised hearings (look what 9 minutes of Mueller did) (or is this Pollyanna-ish — after all he’s already an unindicted co-conspirator);
  • failure by the Senate to convict will be taken as a triumph, yes, but so will the failure to impeach. At least a trial in the Senate would put every Senator who votes with trump on the record.
  • It’s about the long game. If democracy collapses, it won’t matter that impeachment failed and if democracy survives, the record will damn trump-enablers eventually.

And then this:

“If you think the president has committed high crimes and misdemeanors and you move toward impeachment, that’s constitutional. If you think he’s committed impeachable offenses and you don’t hold impeachment hearings, THAT’s political.”

Why did Pelosi say, “Do you want me to send Elijah Cummings home?” WOULD the other investigations have to end?

What makes us think a ‘turbo-charged impeachment subpoena’ will fare better than a regular one, especially since the White House is now defying COURT ORDERS (Flynn disclosure ruling). Holy Christ!

He’ll start a war. That’s his fallback.

“If you think impeachment is political, then so is upholding the 14th Amendment.”

Ending on a high note? Today’s New York Times OpEd by David Brooks (gag), yeah, but his views are evolving. “The Coming GOP Apocalypse.”

“The generation gap is even more powerful when it comes to Republicans. To put it bluntly, young adults hate them.”

“The difference is ideological. According to Pew, 57 percent of millennials call themselves consistently liberal or mostly liberal. Only 12 percent call themselves consistently conservative or mostly conservative. This is the most important statistic in American politics right now.”

Well, this would’ve been more evident by now if it weren’t for gerrymandering.

What happened to our high note?

The court’s ruling on the census case soon.

 

Indictments and coffee: a swell combo!

Who knew that reading indictments would become something like a hobby? Seven counts goes well with coffee!

You can read Stone’s here.

(This is the dog Stone threatened). And below is one of the first podcasts I’ll listen to once it’s up. Meanwhile, @renato_mariotti on twitter features a meaty long thread this morning.

The wind yesterday felt retributive.