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Posts Tagged ‘democracy’

Have you ever heard strange sounds in the middle of the night? Not like squirrels in the chimney, or mice in the walls. And not like thunder and lightning followed by a deranged dog trying to crawl under your bed. More like footsteps out on your porch at 4 am?

Well, that’s how our weekend began. Someone was clomping around on our porch – but let’s start from the very beginning.

On Friday I really wanted to see the Groom. We’d called, texted and Zoomed and Facetimed, but he was finally out of the Tower and back in the bosom of his family. I had to make sure he was doing well and warn the Bride not to expect too much; he needed to rest after all. Covid can take a lot out of a person. I mean just walking to the mailbox could be exhausting.

But you can’t keep a good man down for long because on Friday he had already been teaching the Love Bug how to ride a bike, setting up their “tiny school” at home, and then he took the dogs on a 30 minute walk! So I rewarded my Son-in-Law’s enthusiasm with a big plate of chicken parmigiana that night. As we were leaving, the Bride began to take the Grands blood for a study at the university.

We have at-home kits to take blood, but not to test for this virus?

As we drove home from our socially distanced dinner on their front porch, we passed a long Catholic parade on the streets of Germantown. An official Bishop-type led dozens of priests and altar boys carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary adorned with flowers, there were at least a hundred people following the procession – the Assumption of Mary. Many of the women wore a lacey head covering, but virtually nobody wore a mask. Everyone was singing!

As I opened the car window and looked on adoringly, thinking about all those years at a Catholic camp singing with nuns in the woods on our way to a grotto, Bob yelled, “Wear a damn mask!” breaking the spell.

And that was the night, or actually early the next morning, we heard the intruder on our porch. Bob immediately went downstairs and I immediately thought to myself, “My phone is plugged in downstairs, what if I need to call 911…”

Then I heard Bob’s voice, he was talking to somebody. Prompting Ms Bean to leave her cozy bed, she led the way downstairs; so much for our little guard dog, she never uttered a peep, not a growl or a bark! Bob had already locked the door and sent a young man, who was surely a drunk tourist, on his way.

“What did you say?” I asked him.

“I asked him what he thought he was doing here,” Bob said. Sometimes the NJ vibe just cannot be contained. I was stunned. What if he had a gun? What if What if What if…..

Once before, in the Blue Ridge, a large van pulled up to our house at around midnight. Bob got up and looked out the window to see an elderly man standing there, putting on a jacket. We opened the front door and the man said, “We’re here for Mr Young.” Now Mr Young was actually an older gentleman farmer and former UVA professor who lived down our country road a piece, and he had died in his sleep. The van was from the Cremation Society of Virginia.

Would it be wrong to say how relieved we were – that the van wasn’t coming for us? We were living on 14 acres in the middle of a forest, still Bob wasn’t scared. And he had no fear in the wee hours before daybreak on Saturday, in fact, he went back to sleep! While I stayed up replaying all the different scenarios in my head. Maybe we should move out of the city? Should we start looking for a beach house, again?

When in doubt, cook! Yesterday I sent Bob to Whole Foods for tahini because the Insta people voted on Baba Ganoush as an appetizer. Although zucchini season was done, Bob’s elegant Japanese eggplants were just getting started. I haven’t made this yummy hummus-like spread since the 70s and it was a major hit at our party for two.

How many lives do we humans get? I survived a car accident in 1949, the Groom survived Covid in 2020. I wonder if our democracy will survive this political pandemic season.

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Like the phases of the moon, our country has slowly moved from embracing conservative, anti- (big)-government ideology toward a more socialist democracy, and back again. In the 18th Century, we threw off the mantle of a king, and instituted checks and balances with our elected leaders in Congress. It was working pretty well for awhile and our political ship was trending toward starboard.

Then in 1994, Newt Gingrich happened.

Wanting to bring back orphanages was actually not a part of Newt’s “Contract with America,” he was just “thinking aloud.” Wanting to build more prisons and give tax breaks to millionaires was! He started complaining about “big media,” and comparing Democrats to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sound familiar?

“The states’ main fear is that if the federal government could not legally run a deficit, it would simply pass on safety, environmental, health, and other obligations to the states, without giving them the money to pay for new programs. Congress’s habit of enacting “unfunded mandates” has been the major strain on state budgets in the last decade. A federal balanced-budget amendment would likely make it worse.”

His nightmare scenario has come true, Mr T passes on everything, including his responsibility, in this public health emergency to the states. When I watched Gov Andrew Cuomo in his  daily presser, complain about having to get in a bidding war with other states just to acquire life-saving PPE and ventilators, I thought we were deranged… and when he said FEMA would jump in and UP the price even more, I knew we were deranged and possibly doomed.

I remembered reporting on Rumson Borough Council meetings in the 90s, how this Republican group of mostly old, white men waxed on about unfunded federal mandates. They choked at the idea. And just the other day, Mitch McConnell (a modern day Newt) told states to declare bankruptcy??

This morning I found this article about a billionaire enlightening in a creepy way. How does American capitalism work, how should business work; for the greater good, or for their investors’ greater bank accounts?  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/28/business/coronavirus-marc-benioff-salesforce.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage

In a nutshell, The Chancellor of the University of California San Francisco could see the writing on the wall in early March. Cases of Covid were starting to skyrocket and he knew his medical center’s supply of PPE was low. So he called his buddy, the billionaire and “hyper-connected” donor, Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce.

“…that phone call set off a frenzied effort by Mr. Benioff and his team that drew in major companies like FedEx, Walmart, Uber and Alibaba. In a matter of weeks, Mr. Benioff’s team spent more than $25 million to procure more than 50 million pieces of protective equipment. Fifteen million units have already been delivered to hospitals, medical facilities and states, and more are on the way.

The relative ease with which Salesforce acquired so much protective gear stands in sharp contrast to the often chaotic government efforts. While states have had to compete against each other for scarce supplies and the strategic national stockpile of protective gear is depleted, Mr. Benioff and his team simply called up their business partners in China and started writing checks.”

 

Some might call Mr Benioff a saint, but while I found his actions altruistic, I was concerned that our country had to depend on his beneficence. Do we live in a democracy with a small “d” or is this an oligarchy, or a kleptocracy?

I sent a box of Lysol wipes and Formula 409 out to the Rocker and Aunt Kiki in LA last week, and somebody stole most of the contents en route. We are making masks in our kitchen and we can’t find disinfectant wipes, but Benioff can find a warehouse full of N95 masks from China in LA? To make matters worse, Republicans are still trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/03/republicans-could-kill-obamacare-in-the-middle-of-coronavirus-recovery

As our quarantine wanes piecemeal, state by state, we must remember this time in history when governors had to beg to save peoples’ lives.

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It’s been a busy week: I started physical therapy; Great Grandma Ada had a visiting  friend from New Jersey, so I took her to a drag brunch; and Ada also regaled her JCC Book Club with a look back on her life… which will have to be continued since 95 years cannot possibly be distilled into an hour!

We did learn something new though – Ada was voted “Most Charming” by her Brooklyn high school class.

Since I’ve found the Senate Impeachment Trial of Mr T most distressing, and not charming at all, I refuse to watch it. Relying on the occasional Tweet to keep me up to date, especially of my favorite Senator Amy Klobuchar, it would seem that only Justice Roberts is taking this trial seriously. I’m glad he admonished both sides to keep it civil and behave with the gravitas the Senate chamber deserves.

A trial with no witnesses and no documents is still a trial worthy of respect. Right?

I was served a subpoena twice. Once a long, long time ago when I was working at Head Start in Jersey City I accidentally hit a homeless woman illegally crossing the street. Just as the sun came up over the skyline of Manhattan, I was blinded turning a corner and didn’t see her. My insurance company kept me in good hands and settled for the maximum amount on my policy.

The second time I was served we had just moved from NJ, and I had left my old car behind, it was a green Ford Explorer that the Rocker had inherited and drove to high school every day. But he wasn’t allowed a car on his college campus in Trenton, so we sold it. Or I should say, Bob sold it to a young man while I was in VA.

Long story short, he was arrested the next day for having marijuana in the car, my old Ford Explorer, and somehow or another I was still listed as the registered owner. Hence, a guy shows up at my door in Virginia ordering me to appear for a trial in New Jersey.  Again, a lawyer was deployed, money was exchanged, and a calamity was averted.

Isn’t it strange that I’ve never been called for jury duty, something I’ve actually wanted to do all my life, but I’ve been served TWO subpoenas! What if I didn’t have car insurance or the money to pay for a good defense? I was recently talking to a friend about Jane Fonda getting arrested for her Climate inspired Fire Drill Friday demonstrations.

I mean with all the protesting I’ve done over the years for women/human rights, why haven’t I been arrested? It’s almost a badge of honor today.

Congress should have subpoenaed Ambassador Bolton, sure, and he would have every right to hire a lawyer and fight it, if the Senate had the guts to call on him. It sounds like he’s willing to talk, and he might even lend some decorum to the proceedings, but his Republican cronies are afraid of the truth. They can’t handle the truth! 

Here is Amy Klobuchar’s early morning Tweet:

 “At 1:30 a.m. after a bunch of votes to stifle key witnesses the Republicans just voted down having Justice Roberts decide the witnesses! Why have this job if you’re not going to protect the Constitution? We are sworn to protect our democracy, not serve the President’s interests.”

Can you handle this cuteness?

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Yesterday, Bob and I had a scheduled morning meeting to learn all about cohousing in Nashville. We met lovely people of different ages, and I was schooled in the latest feminist lingo; when I asked if a woman’s husband was babysitting, she said, “Oh no, he’s Daddying.” (smile) I made a note to myself to remember that term!

But my heart wasn’t in that room. I had silenced my cell but wanted to check Twitter every few minutes. I didn’t. But I follow a young newspaper reporter, Lauren Berg @laurenbergk who writes for The Daily Progress in Cville. And I knew she was in the thick of it, the Unite the Right rally was just getting underway and I had no idea what would happen.

Now we all know the deadly consequences of hate speech writ large and accompanied by Nazi symbolism, cloaked in national pride. My friend, Lynne Goldman, owns a unique jewelry store on the Downtown Mall. She and I were Planned Parenthood bus mates over the years, and we traveled to the Women’s March together this year in sisterhood. She and her husband came to our Seder in April.

At the cohousing meeting, people spoke of building community. Of planning this in, by designing a parking lot behind the condos so you are forced to walk into a courtyard and pass your neighbors every day. No more driving into a garage and disappearing. Two families do communal dinners once a week, they pay for everything together (roof repair, utilities, etc), and they manage by “consensus” not by our typical way of voting, when the “Ayes” have it!.

Consensus 

noun, plural consensuses.
1.
majority of opinion:
The consensus of the group was that they should meet twice a month.
2.
general agreement or concord; harmony.

I couldn’t stop thinking about Lynne. Everyone else I knew back in my adopted hometown was present and accounted for, but I had seen on Twitter that somebody sprayed Lauren with a chemical and that riot police were staging near the Paramount Theatre. And then the unthinkable happened. A home-grown, white supremacist Nazi thug terrorist drove into a crowd of peaceful counter-protestors… right on the corner of Lynne’s store.

It has come to this. Racism only needs an excuse to spread its evil, twisted ideology, like tearing down a monument to General Robert E Lee. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/13/us/charlottesville-rally-protest-statue.html

In Emancipation Park, a few steps from the Bride and Groom’s first home. In my serene and peaceful burg, a blue dot that is rapidly turning the state of VA purple; at the seat of democracy itself, Monticello, built by Slaves and saved and refurbished by Jews. http://www.isjl.org/virginia-charlottesville-encyclopedia.html

Lynne and her husband Steve arrived home safe and sound last night. Lauren is busy Tweeting this morning, gathering facts about the day, reminding us that two VA State Troopers are dead as a result of this tragedy. And Mr T has no plans for the day according to his White House Communications Director, standing by his statement against violence on “many sides.”

This extreme Neo-Nazi side is not my side Mr T, in fact my Father-in-Law Hudson fought in a war so that scum of the earth would never rise again. Stop blustering about nuclear war, and study Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This may indeed be a turning point for our country, and it may be time for all of us to pray and #resist.

Here we were at one of our favorite French restaurants on the Downtown Mall for our last Wedding Anniversary in June. You can see the incomplete Tyvek hotel in the background, just as it was for the Bride’s wedding. Our democracy is incomplete, there is much left to do. Reconciliation and forgiveness will take time, but we must start now. We must listen to each other, and build consensus.

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“As a rule, men worry more about what they can’t
see than about what they can.” Julius Caesar

Of all the senses we humans rely on from day to day, our sense of sight is for me, paramount. I love looking out at the patchwork slate Blue Mountain range after the sun strikes them and clouds are rolling over them. I love opening the sleeping porch door on these warm Spring days and watching the sun stream through the screens; seeing the tall oaks sway while hearing the March wind whip around the house. Living in the country is like being in a kaleidoscope of color with contiguous shades of yellow buds and green moss fighting for attention.

This week I went to the eye doctor for one of my very long appointments. He likes to keep track of my blind spot, also tenderly known as my “blonde spot.” You know the one, that horrible Homonymous Hemianopsia (the Bride’s fav medical term) I experienced after my bout with West Nile. It’s pretty common for me to become startled by someone approaching from the right, because I don’t see them coming until they are right in front of me. http://www.hemianopsia.net

To test my visual field, I stick my head inside a globe and hold onto a buzzer. The trick is to only look at the central light and buzz when I see a flash of light in my periphery. Sometimes I go for long periods seeing nothing, desperately wanting to push the buzzer, and knowing the flashes of light must be over there, somewhere on my right. I want to cheat and glance to the right, I blink a few times, and suddenly I see the light again.

Lots of things go through my mind in the eye doctor’s office. “Why did I forget my glasses at the Rocker’s wedding?” “Will I be able to drive at night?” “What’s going on with that old lady who wants to talk about the art work on the walls?” “Will that be me in a few more years?” “Who buys their glasses online?”

The news was good. My blonde spot is actually getting a little smaller. The problem is the “Real News” is bad. Everybody saw, with their own eyes, Jeff Sessions tell Congress that he DID NOT have anything to do with any Russians in the lead-up to the election. Then he began to qualify that, pleading poor memory. But if he’s getting some dementia why can he remember that he didn’t talk about the election…and why hasn’t he resigned already?

Our Attorney General lied UNDER OATH!

After the Oscars, a friend of mine created a hashtag #moonlighting. It’s when you think you lost, but you didn’t. The envelope was wrong, poor Warren Beatty was left standing, humiliated by someone else’s mistake. Or maybe he forgot to read the “Best Actress” part before he started talking…or maybe he needs glasses too? Who knew. But I immediately thought:

#moonlighting is like the opposite of #gaslighting

Gaslighting is what Mr T and his cronies love to do with us, the American people. He will say one thing , and then KellyAnne will curl up on a couch and get us all talking about something else. We never know what to believe. His administration treats the truth like it’s surreal art, to be fractured and deconstructed until it resembles something entirely different. And even after he uses a Navy Seal’s wife as a political empath for bi-partisan patriotism, he turns around and signs legislation to allow the mentally ill to buy guns while calling the attacks on his Attorney General Sessions a “total witch hunt!”

Remember his followers chanting “Lock her up?”

Mr T is telling us not to believe what we saw on TV with our own eyes, the Sessions’ big lie about Russia. And for more Dr Strangelove news, Russian media is advising Mr T to stay the course with Sessions. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-39157854

Recusing himself from an investigation into Russian interference in our election is not enough, and I predict by Monday Jeff Sessions will be gone. This house of cards is just waiting for that March wind to come in and sweep up the liars and the lobbyists. Maybe we will all wake from this nightmare that Mr T won the election, by a “landslide.” Maybe the moonlight will cast its shadow on our democracy, and our would-be King, with his jester Bannon, will have to see the folly he has created.

Then we can all dance like nobody’s watching.

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