Monday, January 30, 2017

How Long, How Long Has That Brain Train Been Gone?

He stood there and swore on not one, but TWO bibles that he would uphold the Constitution of the United States. 

In a single stroke of the pen, he trampled on the Constitution. He has instituted a ban on travel from 7 countries with Islamic majorities. That executive order had prevented green-card holders from returning and entering the US only because they were coming from one of those countries. That order has barred the door to Iraqi and Syrian nationals who put their own lives and the lives of their families on the line to work with American forces overseas.  

Cato Institute, 2016
The seven countries were initially targeted before Trump came to power. But it's interesting to note that the countries who have supplied the most terrorist attackers on US soil are the same countries Trump has business dealings in, and are not on the watch list.

But here's an interesting factoid: Foreign-Born Terrorist Country of Origin, 1975-2015

And for your amusement, here's a list of how Americans do die:

Freakonomics of Extreme Extreme Vetting - Huffington Post

I don't know about anyone else, but those armed toddlers scare the shit outta me. 

Jane and Sarah Savitsky
arrived New York from London
April 6,1908
This is not a game. The current executive order is NOT who we are as a country. Unless you are a card carrying member of an indigenous American nation, YOU are the result of immigration. The Siegfried clan arrived on these shores sometime around 1649, they fought in the Revolution, then in Civil War, in World War I, and World War II, and they are the result of immigration. The Schwaidelson, Savitsky, Sklar, and Simon families all arrived in the early years of the 20th immigrants passing the Statue of LIberty as they arrived at Ellis Island. We are all immigrants. And now, there is a president who would shut that golden door? What happened to giving us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free? 

Did we not learn from sending Jews back to Germany on the St. Louis? Did we not understand the Vietnamese struggling to get on the last helicopters leaving Saigon? Have we lost our humanity and well as our national conscience?

That the current American President is a toddler armed with nukes, has no bearing on our response. If you voted for him, you need only ask yourself: where is the line?

Is this the path to authoritarianism?

The discrediting of the press is a first step. By calling all news organs liars, and pushing to bar/ban certain members of the press from the pool because they had the temerity to question the president's actions is one step. Wednesday, Steve Bannon said,
The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while. I want you to quote this. The media here is the opposition party. 
In the same interview with the NY TImes, Bannon referred to himself as Darth Vader and the president was "elected by a surge of support from 'the working-class hobbits and deplorables.'”

Really? The press is the opposition? Not the Democrats. Not the Independents. The press. The same press that is specifically mentioned in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. 
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. 
Disenfranchisement of the military and intelligence community is the second step. Removing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense from the permanent NSC table is a remarkable step in that direction.The president has installed a man with extreme right-wing and white supremacist views in a position to exert control over the military. Policy making is moved away from those with experience and expertise and put into the hands of amateurs. The border debacle is a prime example of unpreparedness. 

Bullying and threatening world leaders doesn't do much for the US no matter what the president and his schoolmates think. The President of Mexico,  Enrique Peña Nieto, had the perfect response to the president's bullshit about the wall and a trade war: Fuck you. He cancelled the visit and if nothing else, won lots of global gold stars for doing just that. Of course, he managed to talk to the president over the weekend, but both men have agreed not to talk about it. ...which makes me think Mr. Peña Nieto reiterated his "Fuck you and the horse you rode in on," position. 

Okay. I can hope, can't I?

Today, the president spoke quite confidently about how pipelines are built and shipped:
Speaking to a group of small business leaders, Trump described a process that "hurts the pipe" — suggesting that many miles of America's pipelines contain substandard parts which presumably would have to be replaced. But he simultaneously indicated that he is not actually familiar with how pipelines are made, using a variation of "I imagine" three times and saying "I assume" as he explained the process.
"These are big pipes. Now, the only way I can imagine they [ship them] is they must have to cut them. Because they're so big, I can't imagine — they take up so much room — I can't imagine you could put that much pipe on ships. It's not enough. It's not long enough," he said.
"So I assume they have to fabricate and cut, which hurts the pipe, by the way," he said.
A spokesperson for the Association of Oil Pipe Lines said he had never heard of foreign pipe makers cutting segments into portions to send them overseas. Manufacturers create pipes in lengths that can be shipped rather than chopping up vast lengths of pipe.
TransCanada, the company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, also told CNBC that pipes it buys from overseas are not cut into smaller segments before being shipped.
The White House did not immediately return a CNBC request for further explanation.                                        CNBC  - January 30, 2017

Problem was, it was total bullshit and they guy knew less than nothing about pipelines, oil, or anything else for that matter.

Wanna talk about the president's staff all using private email servers not government provided servers? Or the chief of staff apparently tweeting his twitter password to the immediate world? Boy, if a democrat did that, they would be all over him or her. But I guess it's now okay. 

So here's the question to my GOP and politically conservative readers: where is the line for this guy? What's it gonna take for you all to wake up and smell the burning coffee? How much longer are you all gonna pretend this is normal for a world leader? 

We sit at the brink of civil war and a third world war. How much longer are you all gonna pretend this isn't happening?

Just curious.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Sick of watching the news? Watch old movies from the 30s.
You'll thank me for this. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Save Mellie, Save Yourself, Save Others

Mellie the Chattel
In some ways, Donny and Mellie remind me of Chuck and Di toward the end of their marriage. Both men show absolutely no regard for their wives, especially in public, both treated them abominably, and it's pretty clear neither wanted to endure their husband's touch. There's ample video of both couples. Every one remembers the polo non-kiss or the barely sheathed dagger-looks of the royals in Korea. But the shot of the the Trumps stepping from the plane, where he reaches for her hand and she shakes him off, was stellar. Or when they emerge from the limo at the White House where the HC Obamas are waiting,  and Donny proceeds up the step before Mellie even gets out of the car. This is not a happy couple.

Should we care?

Yes, actually, we should. 

I don't know much about Melania Trump. She doesn't come off as the sharpest spoon in the drawer. It could be her accent. It could be she's afraid of making a mistake. It could be that she's really terribly shy, although her modeling pictures tell another story. Or, it could be that she's in an abusive relationship and she is just plain terrified. Whatever it is, whatever the reason, Mellie should not be dismissed. Far from it: Mellie is a living, breathing metaphor for this presidency. 

She is wife #3, and if the stories filtering out of Manhattan are true, she was about to be set aside for the mistress o'the moment who is supposedly ensconced somewhere in Trump Tower. Perhaps her name is Rapunzel? It's unimportant. Just as he bankrupted his marriages, he bankrupted his businesses. Just as he refused to fulfill contractual agreements with his contractors, we should not hold our breath about him fulfilling his election promises to We, the People. But did we really think that might ever happen? Probably not. 

Melania bore him a male child. His manhood is once again satisfied...for a moment. But even a male child isn't enough penis for Donny. He told the Washington Post:
Being a great president has to do with a lot of things, but one of them is being a great cheerleader for the country. And we’re going to show the people as we build up our military, we’re going to display our military. That military may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military.
If he shows up to review the parade in a military costume/uniform, we are in deeper and more serious doo-doo than earlier suspected. Bigger guns mounted on bigger tanks? Yes, I know a cigar can just be a cigar...but these ain't cigars. 

But back to Mellie the Metaphor. She's kept a prisoner in her side of Trump Tower. We've all heard how Ivanka will be "acting first lady." Is Mellie unable to fulfill that role? Or is someone afraid she will misstep? And if she does...what happens to her? We have no way of knowing the answer. 

Everyone of us has known someone trapped in an abusive relationship. Deep in our hearts, every last one of us knows the signals. This is not a submissive in a contractual agreement. There is way too much visible rejection/revulsion from her, no adoration whatsoever. 

 © 2017, Steven G. Artley, ARTLEY CARTOONS 
Mellie is a hostage. She may have been complicit in her own hijacking, but she's clearly having buyer's remorse.  As caring, compassionate women, we cannot allow Donny to use Mellie as his whipping post. We are joining together to fight for access to health care, access to education, access to loving, let us not abandon Mellie Trump. Let us shout encouragement to her wherever she is. Let us stand beside and behind her...and let her know we have her back. 

Let her be our symbol for freedom. Here are the new rules:
  • No picking on Mellie. She has  enough on her plate just trying to maintain her composure. 
  • No picking on her kid, Barron. Bullying, cyber or otherwise. is evil. 
  • No matter what she says, remember she is being manipulated. 
Donny practices on Mellie, therefore Mellie is the stand-in for us. But she is also in the room. When she feels  safe,  Mellie can be an ally. Let's give her that chance.

My heart goes out to Melania Trump. She has to see him naked with that dangling Tootsie Roll he believes is Excalibur. She gets to smell his morning breath. She has to actually talk to him. She doesn't have to be our hero, she is not. She doesn't have to be our object of derision, she should not. But she is, indeed, our metaphor.

Mellie is on the inside. She can decide she doesn't have to be alone in there. She should figure out she is part of this sisterhood. She should know that, if she really needs to, she can reach out, even to Michelle, and get support.

We stand with you, Mellie. You, of all people, are not alone. We, the People, the Sisterhood, the Women of the know...the ones from Albany to Antarctica, the ones from Berkeley to Barcelona, the ones from Paris to Perth, the ones from Iraq to India to Indonesia, the ones from  St. Paul to Singapore....We, the Women, are ready.

Some people might think I'm being sarcastic or trying to be funny. I am not. I am dead serious when I say we need to reach out to Melania and let her know she has choices to make, and she is not a political prisoner. But damning her because her husband is a misogynistic, narcissistic, sleeze-bag scum-ball, it doesn't mean he is an extension of her. 

Let's choose life for Mellie. She deserves at least a shot.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
The march is only the beginning.
Now, you need to embrace activism.

Monday, January 16, 2017

We, the People Are Not Nice...Nor Should We Be.

The blog entry I just wrote was so angry I will not post it. 

I am terrified about what comes after Friday. 

Blacks, Muslims, LGBTQ, and Jews are being targeted across the country. Hate mail, graffiti, rock-throwing, bullying,'s all out there and it's all happening.

Hate, it would seem, has become acceptable. I hear it from both sides. 

People I respect are posting hate-filled things on social media that disgust me. It diminishes my perception of them. Both sides. 

President-elect Trump's behavior requires serious consideration...from both sides of the aisle. There is nothing normal about his behavior in this transfer of power, and it should not be normalized. His tweets are a window into him...and it's a scary one at that. 

The people selected to serve in the cabinet have questionable qualifications. That's not opinion, that's fact. In no way is Ben Carson qualified to head HUD. Surgeon General? Sure, why not? The nominated AG, Senator Jeff Sessions, was denied a Federal bench because of his racist and homophobic statements. The nominee for Education, Betsy DeVos is a business person with no education experience or credentials. She is a hardline advocate against civil rights for LGBTQ citizens. 

Almost all the cabinet nominees also have ethics and/or conflict-of-interest issues facing them. 

The incoming staff of the West Wing has proposed removing the press pool from the White House. Any reporter or network that criticizes Mr Trump has been threatened with exclusion. 

The spine of national security and intelligence have been publicly belittled by the President-elect. Whether or not they deserved it, that kind of laundry is not aired in public except at the peril of these here United States. 

Donald Trump will be sworn into office on Friday. How long he remains there is, quite frankly, up to him. 

Some people think it's unpatriotic to question, comment, or criticize the incoming POTUS. I would disagree with that statement. POTUS works for ALL of us. It is our job as citizens to hold him to his promises and pledges, and to tell him when we think he is wrong. Republican or Democrat, the obligation is the same. The Constitution of the United States guarantees our right to speak up and speak out. If we abrogate that right, we are damned, one and all. 

Here's something to consider:
Nice people made the best Nazis.
Or so I have been told. My mother was born in Munich in 1934, and spent her childhood in Nazi Germany surrounded by nice people who refused to make waves. When things got ugly, the people my mother lived alongside chose not to focus on “politics,” instead busying themselves with happier things. They were lovely, kind people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away.                                                                        Naomi Shulman
I don't want to be a nice person. I will not turn away or post puppies on Face Book. 

If Donald Trump and his minions continue in the direction they are currently heading, they will have to go through me and We, the People, to get to the Constitution. 

We are We, the People, and we are not nice. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If you need a break from a book. 
Try this out in paperback!

Dream Dancer by The WP 
How can you resist?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Hollywood. Foreign. Press.

I was already working on the blog when Meryl Streep delivered her Cecil B. DeMille award speech.  It was was her own opinion, something she has the right to have, but it was a textbook example if civility. Eloquent, elegant, and directed at a specific audience, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. That it was televised was inconsequential. That it was flawlessly delivered to an audience of artists and journalists was important. 

This is a transcript of her speech:
Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you. Please sit down. Please sit down. Thank you. I love you all. You'll have to forgive me. I've lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend. And I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year. So I have to read.
Thank you, Hollywood foreign press. Just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said. You and all of us in this room, really, belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Think about it. Hollywood, foreigners, and the press. But who are we? And, you know, what is Hollywood anyway? It's just a bunch of people from other places.
I was born and raised and created in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola [Davis] was born in a sharecropper's cabin in South Carolina, and grew up in Central falls, Long Island. Sarah Paulson was raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids from Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Italy. Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates? And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Ethiopia, raised in -- no, in Ireland, I do believe. And she's here nominated for playing a small town girl from Virginia. Ryan Gosling, like all the nicest people, is Canadian. And Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, is here for playing an Indian raised in Tasmania.
Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. If you kick 'em all out, you'll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts. They gave me three seconds to say this. An actor's only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that, breathtaking, passionate work.
There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can't get it out of my head because it wasn't in a movie. It was real life.
And this instinct to humiliate, when it's modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody's life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.
This brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage.That's why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists. Because we're going to need them going forward. And they'll need us to safeguard the truth.
One more thing. Once when I was standing around on the set one day whining about something, we were going to work through supper, or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, "Isn't it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor?" Yeah, it is. And we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be very proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.
As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, "Take your broken heart, make it into art."  Thank you.

To those readers who think this is whiny liberal screed, take a breath. It is not. It's not even about politics or the election. it's about something much more important.


Are you familiar with the word? Here, let me show you a dictionary definition.

·       [mass noun] Formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech:
  • 1.1civilities Polite remarks used in formal conversation:
Late Middle English: from Old French civilite, from Latin civilitas, from civilis relating to citizens (see civil).
In early use the term denoted the state of being a citizen and hence good citizenship or orderly behavior. The sense ‘politeness’ arose in the mid 16th century.
When people disagree, you need civility to take a conversation from beginning to end. Civility is the basis of civilization. Respectful discourse is the foundation. Civility is the package, the whole thing tied up with ribbons. You cannot have two sides of a productive argument without civility.

The response to Ms. Streep's speech by the  President Elect on Twitter was neither elegant nor eloquent. It was of the caliber of PeeWee Herman. Instead of "I know you are, but what am I?" he  tweeted, 
Overrated? Hmmm.  Everyone should be so overrated like Meryl Streep.

Every tweet tells Kim Jong-un a little more about who is behind the desk in the Oval Office. Every tweet reminds Vladimir Putin that the President-elect of the United States is too engrossed in his own cult of personality to notice what Russians are doing. Every tweet reminds We, the People, that we have a rank amateur in office. 

Running a country is not running a business. Nor is it running a fiefdom. And the United States is a sizable country with a very complex network of local and federal laws. This ship of state cannot turn on a dime, nor would anyone want it to.

Rather than continue showing the differences, let me ask you, gentle readers, a different question: How do you see the United States as a home to your children and grandchildren in 20 years? What are your wishes for that progeny? How do you envision their world?

To have a conversation of civility on any of the issues facing us, we need to figure out, as individuals, what we want this country to look like.

Yelling at each other, belittling each other, spewing hate at each other, and posting fake news and falsehoods (on both sides) are not going to allow that conversation to happen. We, the People are facing serious problems and this is not the time to be playing games. We have a lot of work to do.

People, it's time to  stop being assholes and start finding the common ground for civil discourse. And if there is no common ground, it's time to define our space. Either way, civility is NOT an optional element. It must be present and accounted for at all time. 

Seriously. I'm not kidding. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Stop being an asshole.