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When the Rocker was in Middle School, we hopped a train into NYC to see Chicago. He brought a friend along and we had exceptional seats in one of the side boxes next to the stage. We could see the sweat on the dancers’ faces. And when they broke into the Cell Block Tango song “He Had it Comin,” I laughed till I cried.

Well this morning I just wanna cry in my coffee.

Though jet lag is behind me, the American news has been assaulting me daily. Mr T was a little too chummy with a Russian diplomat named Lavrov, the same guy Flynn resigned over, and the one guy left on the Hill with any credibility at all, HR MacMaster, is trotted out to deny any classified information was leaked – even though Mr T admitted/tweeted he had every right to do it, which he may have done, though who cares, right?

He had it comin so to speak…

He had it coming
He only had himself to blame.
If you’d have been there
If you’d have seen it
I betcha you would have done
The same!

Our President has been playing at his role, learning on the job, and demonizing the press. But this news today, allowing only Russian media into the Oval and then handing them classified information on ISIS, like a child showing his buddy the cute frog he just caught, is not only just damning, it’s possibly treasonous. To put it into Broadway lingo, he didn’t just break a leg, he shot himself in the foot. And he only …”had himself to blame.”

“This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-revealed-highly-classified-information-to-russian-foreign-minister-and-ambassador/2017/05/15/530c172a-3960-11e7-9e48-c4f199710b69_story.html?utm_term=.804daaaa5484

When will the GOP wake up and realize what is happening? When will they appoint an independent prosecutor? What about his Taxes?? Is anybody listening? We heard all about Hillary’s emails to Huma regarding creme brulee, but Mr T can fire his FBI Director for dubious reasons and keep playing at a reality show/game of How. Friggin. Much. Can. I. Get. Away. With…

In the musical Chicago, there was a guy named Alvin Lipschitz. He was very artistic and went out every night to “find himself.” Mona, one of the dancers in the cell block tango, didn’t take too kindly to all the women and men he found himself with, so she broke up with him, in the worst possible way. Her defense was artistic differences, and she swore he had it comin!

A free press will not be barred or barricaded away from this White House. We the people deserve an investigation into how Russia colluded with Mr T’s campaign to swing our election. He also has it comin – he should be facing impeachment hearings for his pure and utter incompetence.

Let’s just say we have irreconcilable artistic and public policy differences.

And just as a welcome back to Cville, this past weekend found a “white heritage group” bearing torches and chanting Nazi-like slogans at Robert E lee Park. Lots of guys in khaki and white button-down shirts with Confederate flags. We have some stylist differences as well. Hate speech has a free hand today, disguising itself as freedom.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/14/528363829/richard-spencer-leads-group-protesting-sale-of-confederate-statue

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I’m living in a small sky blue speck, in a sea of blood red.

The Old Dominion voted for Hillary Clinton, as did most of the big cities and states on both coasts. But Trump’s clarion call swayed the majority of our electoral college, surprising my Democratic family and friends. Shocking me into a dystopian fugue state. Yesterday I actually felt like a zombie, which is to say I didn’t feel much. Great Grandma Ada asked me to explain it, and I had no words. My niece Lucia asked me what she should tell her daughters, and I had no words.

Whenever I am at a loss for words, I look to poetry, and so Bob Dylan came to mind given his recent Nobel Prize. I want to buy all his albums, in vinyl, and play them on an old fashioned record player, with a needle that gets stuck sometimes so you have to pick it up and put it down again. Because he spoke of the great divide, of the power elite who could send our boys to a swamp in Asia because our government, our country, thought we had God on our side. He called attention to the swath of red states, to the working class who today are called the vanishing middle class.

All those White people with no college degree, going nowhere, feeling left behind in the Rust Belt. One third of the Latinos who voted the GOP line, because they didn’t want anymore workers coming over here for free, taking their jobs. All those Evangelical Christians, who voted for the least Christ-like candidate our country ever saw fit to nominate. All those old men who could just never trust a woman to do a so-called man’s job protecting this country. All that free-floating fear and anger, don’t matter if he pops some Tic Tacs and kisses the hell outta you.

Many are brandishing their firearms, wishing the liberal elites take the next plane to Canada. Making false distinctions between love of country and government. I wonder how long it will take them to hate the new GOP government. Feeling self-righteous, they know not what they have done. But while our country is divided, the power players are smiling and gracious, talking about our democracy.

You don’t need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows.

Only time will tell what this “Historic” election means for Women, for the Undocumented, for Muslims, for the Climate. Our system isn’t rigged when a despot can win 279 electoral votes but not the popular vote, right; and the gerrymandering that flooded both houses on the Hill with red shall never be undone. Lobbyists are fleeing DC like rats from a ship.

But hark, the Dow is going up folks, because the Market hates uncertainty, so Wall Street must think they have a friend in this lustful Billionaire. After all, he could shoot someone and get away with it, he’s got God on his side! When President Obama shakes his hand on the White House porch today, I just may lose my lunch.

In a many dark hour
I’ve been thinkin’ about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can’t think for you
You’ll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.

The Groom told the Love Bug that, “Everybody gets a turn.” And even though we all thought this was Hillary’s turn, the people voted so now it’s Trump’s turn. And I would add the  biggest, loudest bully on the block will need to face Pocahontas, aka Senator Elizabeth Warren in four years, so we better get busy. The Boston Globe reported Warren saying: “I’m intensely frustrated by the apparent likelihood that, for the second time in five elections, a Democratic nominee will have won the popular vote but lost the presidency in the electoral college.” 

And just like Gore, I’m devastated. Just like McGovern and Humphrey, I’m feeling left behind. The wind is blowing brown oak leaves past my aviary window, circling and bobbing to their death, they are being tracked into the house. But the sun came up this morning. And my fingers found words again. img_5313

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Yesterday was surreal. We heard helicopters flying around our house as if we lived in LA. A small news station in Roanoke, WDBJ, just an hour away from Cville had been broadcasting a fluff early morning piece at Smith Mountain Lake, when a lone gunman murdered the beautiful, young reporter and her photo journalist, live. It was an unthinkable act. They don’t kill journalists in America, do they? And while I was following the car chase via Twitter and a local news anchor, the killer posted his own video of the crime to social media. My oatmeal was getting cold, I’d lost my appetite.

This morning we are learning more about the victims, Alison Parker and Adam Ward. Two talented, rising stars in TV news who didn’t deserve to die yesterday while doing their job. And we’ve learned that the shooter (I refuse to use his name) was a disgruntled, ex-employee of the station. He’d been fired for basically not playing well with others at many different news outlets. He’d been encouraged to seek medical help. Let the chorus begin…mental health vs gun control. Only like most things in life, it’s not that simple; and it’s not really a political issue.

The ease of obtaining a gun, and the sheer abundance of guns in this country is a public health issue. Period.

The state of Virginia rates a “D” in the gun law scorecard of the Law center to Prevent Gun Violence. You can go to their website to rate your own state http://smartgunlaws.org/search-gun-law-by-state/  Here is what Virginia does not have on the books, some of our very own loopholes for people intent on gun ownership: We DO NOT

  • Require a background check prior to the transfer of a firearm between unlicensed individuals;
    Require firearms dealers to obtain a state license;
    Regulate the transfer or possession of 50 caliber rifles or large capacity ammunition magazines;
    Require firearm owners to report lost or stolen firearms;
    Impose a waiting period prior to purchase of a firearm; or
    Regulate unsafe handguns (“junk guns” or “Saturday night specials”).

Why are we blind to this? How can we walk away from VA Tech and Sandy Hook without confronting our national sin. Or the countless times guns are used in a suicide – or in a domestic dispute – or in an “accident” involving a child – are seemingly overlooked by the media frenzy for a mass shooting incident at a mall or a movie theatre. It’s easy to say, oh he was crazy, he was over the edge; because it’s always a “he” and it always involves a gun.

I knew a teenager at the height of the Iraq war, who was circling her bedroom with a crown moulding of names – the names of the soldiers who were dying there and in Afghanistan. I was breathless when I first saw this memorial border, and I thought how so much is ignored or buried or covered up in the news. At the time, only PBS was broadcasting the names of the dead. Remember we were not allowed to see the flag covered caskets returning to our shore, as if we are children who need to be shielded from the sight of dead soldiers. Maybe we need to start a long border of names, or a quilt of the US citizens who have been killed by guns in the past year. The children, the wives and mothers, the fathers and yes, the young people just going to work in Virginia at daybreak.

Every day on average 290 people are shot in this country. We have three times as many gun homicides as European nations. Three Times

Our review of the academic literature found that a broad array of evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for homicide, both in the United States and across high-income countries,” according to the Harvard School of Public Health. “Case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the US, where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/06/18/you-have-to-see-how-many-more-people-are-killed-by-guns-in-america-to-really-believe-it/

God help us all if we have come to a point where we can continue to eat breakfast and accept this kind of news as normal. cover_chamberguide_2014_final-page-001

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I woke up this morning to this picture IMG_2376

And just as I was getting ready to meet Anita for another great Book Festival event http://vabook.org, Bob asked me if I heard the news…

“What, is another girl gone  missing?” I asked Bob. No, thank God, but it’s the good ole Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) running amok once more. Remember those Keystone Cops of a few years ago, cornering some UVA sorority sisters in the parking lot of Harris Teeter for buying seltzer water? https://mountainmornings.net/2013/06/29/about-that-glowing-marble/ The ABC just last year payed out a whooping six figure settlement to Virginia Daly, the girl driving the car that was pursued by these gun-waving hooligans, thereby avoiding a court case.

Well, this time the ABC agents picked on the wrong student yet again. It seems a 3rd Year Honor student at the U, who just so happens to be Black, was wrestled to the ground outside a bar on the Corner (the small strip of bars and stores right across the street from the university). Martese Johnson’s head was smashed on the concrete sidewalk, and a picture of this bloody scene was circulated everywhere thanks to social media. His injury required ten sutures to the scalp!

Last night, over a thousand protesters marched from the campus to the Police Department on the Historic Downtown Mall, even though the City Police had nothing to do with this; these are plain clothes ABC agents who must just lie in wait to catch underage drinkers.

When I first moved here from the North, I was surprised to find wine and beer being sold in grocery stores and gas stations. And I learned about ABC stores, when you needed the hard stuff for parties, which we never do. Cocktails are not my thing, but back in the day I might have gone to one for some Bailey’s Irish Cream on St Pat’s day. Johnson was out in the wee hours of St Patrick’s Day and was denied admission to Trinity Irish Pub. http://news.yahoo.com/virginia-gov-calls-investigation-students-arrest-205040028.html

Now in our day, a bouncer would have confiscated a fake ID, and that would be that. But is that why Johnson was singled out and wrestled to the ground?

Returning from our trip, I was singled out for a “random” security search. even though Bob and I went to the trouble to get Global Entry clearance, I was patted down and got my carry-on up-ended. Then after going through customs in Charlotte, NC, I refused to go into one of those X-ray machines. The agent asked me, “Do you have a cell phone?” and proceeded to tell me that I get more radiation from the phone than I do from the machine. I gave him my best “Well bless your heart” look. As y’all know I hate those things. So I was sent to sit and wait for a TSA agent, for another pat down, until somebody opened up a metal detector since the wait was getting too long, and I strolled through it with the rest of the crowd. Thanks Global Entry, for nothing.

It’s an age old question, how much of our liberty are we willing to give up for our security? Maybe the ABC should stick with storefronts, after all, we have enough cowboys with guns on our streets as it is.

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…or Cannabis. Whatever you happen to call it, weed is on the rise.

I wanted to see Venice when I was visiting the Rocker and Ms Cait in LA before Thanksgiving. Did I tell you they moved from the Jersey Shore? A career in composing music for the film industry compelled their cross-country caravan. The https://www.walkscore.com number is high in their charming neighborhood of Silver Lake. But I just had to see Venice Beach, and the boardwalk wasn’t what I had imagined. Granted it was a Saturday so everybody was out enjoying the weather, the non-stop beautiful weather of Southern California.

Along with skate boarders, roller bladers, and sightseers, were bright green signs for weed clinics with guys in green scrubs hawking their wares. It was like a carnival side-show. The Rocker told me it’s fairly easy to get an Rx for cannabis, you can walk right in, and I could say maybe my arthritis was acting up, and voila. Of course if I did, and tried to carry said package back home to VA, I could have been thrown in a federal prison!

Which illustrates how paradoxical our laws are about this substance. Anyone can tell you that weed is actually safer than alcohol, or tobacco, although there’s not much evidence-based science out there in this country. We have a President who wrote about his younger pot-head days, and I dare you to ask anyone between 18 and 70 if they ever lit up a joint.

Now we have Sanjay Gupta,MD who might as well be our Surgeon General, exposing how weed is used for intractable seizure disorder in children on CNN. And today, even in VA, a legislator would like to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use. I came across this proposal in the House on my Twitter feed:
http://www.nbc29.com/story/11854265/morgan-pushes-to-decriminalize-marijuana

“I really don’t care. I mean, I’ve been here a long time,” he said. “If my constituents want me to retire, it’s okay with me. I’m not saying I want to; I didn’t say that at all. But I think what I’m doing is the right thing and I think that’s why they sent me here.” Delegate Harvey Morgan (R)
“Morgan’s Republican colleagues say they will quickly kill the measure.”

Maybe it’s because he’s been in the thick of politics for so long that he realizes a conviction on a drug charge can change the whole trajectory of a person’s life. That we are wasting our country’s youngest citizens by throwing them in jail for non-violent offenses that his own peer’s children can circumvent because they have money and privilege.

Maybe some measure of wisdom really does happen with age, even in the GOP.

It may be awhile before we see weed clinics popping up in Virginia Beach. Medicinal, recreational or otherwise, it’s been a long time coming. I’ve said it before, solving the drug problem in this country is a public and health policy issue, it’s not a war to be won. IMG_1817

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Bob alerted me to an article in November’s Atlantic magazine, “Remember the sexting scandal in Louisa this Spring?”

In fact, I didn’t, but I was all over our town’s famous crime novelist, John Grisham’s blow-up on Twitter about his interview with a British magazine. The one where he said our prisons are too full (true!) with normal, old, white guys downloading child porn (what?). Then he steps in it further by differentiating between 16 year old girls and 9 year old boys…

But that’s not the hot button issue Bob was talking about. He had listened to an NPR interview http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/10/15/356393531/why-kids-sext-describes-nude-photos-as-social-currency-among-teens

…on his ride to the hospital yesterday with the author, Hanna Rosin, of the Atlantic piece on teen sexting: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/11/why-kids-sext/380798/

Now we all know that teenagers do crazy things, and every generation has to prove their worth by totally rebelling against their parents – with their music, with their language, with a scathing look, or the ubiquitous word of dismissal, “Fine!” Sheer insolence has no better bedfellow than a teenage girl. Still, it’s one thing to grow your hair long and straight, shorten your skirts to the mini-mum, and listen to the Rolling Stones. Or as the Flapper did, bind her breasts, cut and bob her hair, and go out the window to dance to the Jimmy Dorsey Band.

“You come from a long line of rebels,” Mother told me more than once. But of course, we didn’t have smart phones.

Louisa is a sleepy country county, between my edge of the Shenandoah and the big city of Richmond, a mere 10 minute drive. Think Friday night lights on football fields, and the occasional DUI. So it was baffling to local law enforcement to find out A) that they were collecting more and more cell phones because each kid knew 5-10 kids with naked pix on their phones, it was non-ending, and B) that the kids didn’t seem to care at. all.

For the most part, the laws do not concern themselves with whether a sext was voluntarily shared between two people who had been dating for a year or was sent under pressure: a sext is a sext. So as it stands now, in most states it is perfectly legal for two 16-year-olds to have sex. But if they take pictures, it’s a matter for the police.

There is no easy takeaway from this article. Girls take great care in posing for their pix, like Kim Kardashian and her selfie book saga. Boys just point and shoot. And there are those who feel pressured by boys to send sexts, and those who are in a relationship and this just seems to be a part of the mating ritual, no.big.deal. For some boys, the number of naked pictures on their phones is akin to “social currency,” like collecting Pokemon cards.

But for some girls, the less confident, more marginalized girls, their pix are shared without their consent and humiliation follows; certainly setting up an Instagram account on the web takes this into felony territory. But even here, law enforcement wanted to know was this just two brothers playing a prank, or did they have a more salacious motive?

When we over-schedule our teens, when their only free time is spent texting their friends in the middle of the night, then we know something is wrong. Romancing in high school, while no longer done at the corner drug store sharing an ice cream soda, should not be done alone, after midnight, with a cell phone. Parents, teach your children well.

Love is Love but sexting is stupid

Love is Love but sexting is stupid

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Morning All. Today is National Voter Registration Day so do yourself yourself a favor and check to see if the rules have been changed in your state. And if so, become acquainted with said new rules – like picture ID and/or your original stamped birth certificate, along with your energy bill and a library card maybe? Maybe you moved? Or maybe you got divorced this year and changed your name back to your birth name, or maybe you got married and adopted his name, you’ll need those papers…And if you don’t have one of those things you will now need to show at the voting booth in November, today is the day to get them together and register people! http://nationalvoterregistrationday.org

The deadline to register is usually 21 days before an election, which would make this year’s date for a November 4 election to the  US Senate and House of Representatives October 14th in VA SO we have 15 weekdays to get everybody registered. Remember Nate Silver has said that the GOP has a good chance of taking over the Senate.

As of July 1 of this year voters in VA need to present a valid photo ID card at their polling place, and it could be one of the following:

  • Valid Virginia driver’s license or DMV-issued photo identification card
  • Valid Virginia DMV-issued Veteran’s ID card
  • Valid U.S. Passport
  • Employee photo identification card issued by employer in the ordinary course of business
  • Other government-issued photo ID card (issued by the U.S. Government, the Commonwealth of Virginia, or a political subdivision of the Commonwealth)
  • Virginia College or university student photo ID card
  • Virginia Voter Photo ID card issued by any local general registrar’s office

  Another change this year for VA’s voters is Gov McAullife’s initiative to restore voting rights to convicted felons who have served their time in prison. “Nine months of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration so far has restored voting rights to 3,200 ex-felons, Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney said enthusiastically to members of the Lynchburg Voter’s League Thursday. That total, which he said is three times more than any previous governor, is only an appetizer…His office helped secure a change in the criteria for drug offenses to nonviolent offenses, which drew applause.” http://www.newsadvance.com/news/local/restoring-voting-rights-to-ex-felons-the-topic-of-state/article_dec5ea20-3fa3-11e4-9e28-001a4bcf6878.html

The kickoff for voter registration will be all afternoon on the Historic Downtown Mall, near the Post Office and Free Speech Wall. If you have not yet registered to vote, remember that your vote is your voice. On the day after our President has started bombing Syria without a vote from the House, we should all be enraged engaged with this upcoming election.

The question on this year’s Albemarle County ballot is:

Question: Shall Section 6A of Article X (Taxation and Finance) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to allow the general Assembly to exempt from taxation the real property of the survivng spouse of any member of the amed forces of the United States who was killed in action, where the surviving spouse occupies the real property as his or her principal place of residence and has not remarried?    tumblr_nbyk9pjnfn1qz8q0ho1_500

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