Wednesday, October 17, 2018

WHAT KIND OF A REPRESENTATIVE DO WE WANT?

When an American president pussyfoots around a (likely) grisly murder (likely) ordered and orchestrated by his let's-make-a-profit Saudi buddy, wouldn't you want a congressional representative with the guts to stand up and make a public statement of his/her outrage? When you have an American president who expresses constant praise and support of the world's worst authoritarians, and acts upon it, wouldn't you want to hear a word in defense of democracy--let alone decency--from the person who purports to represent you? (Our current "congressman", alas, is himself a notorious pal of the most notorious of those despots).

Or, closer to home, when you have an American president who publicly calls a woman a "horseface" and later defends his remark by telling us to take it as we will (in other words, f.y.), would you not want someone in the House of Representatives who'd have the guts--not to mention the sense of decency--to stand up and say, This will not stand?

Wouldn't you want a congressional representative who models integrity, reason, compassion, courage, and a sense of fairness? So please don't vote for the incumbent, who shall be nameless because his name, to me at least, has become unmentionable. But no matter your prior political affiliation, please vote. Your citizenship demands it. And your good sense demands that you vote, this time around, for the Democratic candidate. Our nation will not survive, unharmed, another two years with a Republican House, a Republican Senate, and a "president" who poses as a Republican--with the vocal or tacit support of the ENTIRE Republican Congress. No questions asked.

ANGER

The incident I witnessed recently at LAX is surely one that is repeated countless times on a daily basis throughout the United States. We are an angry people, and there are those who are willing to cross the line from anger into physical violence.

Here's what happened. A woman wearing a scarlet "Make America Great Again" baseball cap boarded our plane at JFK. Ellie and I reacted as you might expect--with anger and disgust--but chose to watch in silence as she took her seat alongside her husband. She had the right to advertise her political opinions.

She was still proudly displaying those opinions when we deplaned at LAX, where we saw her waiting at the luggage carousel. It was here that a young woman of color could not contain her fury, and started yelling the displeasure that many of us, surely, felt, but did not express. The husband responded protectively--as was appropriate--but with the kind of brute display of male physical superiority we see at televised Trump rallies. He confronted the protesting woman, his big chest thrust out, drowning out her shouts with his own and backing her, step by step, away, with the sheer bulk of his presence.

Alert to the potential danger, I shouted out to him to leave the woman alone, but neither one of them heard. Eventually, the silent disparagement of the gathering crowd put an end to the confrontation until, a few moments later, it resumed out on the curb. This time, at least, there was a distance that separated the couple from the young woman's fury as they climbed into a waiting car. And I was surprised to hear a couple of other distant voices join in to support them.

The young woman was wrong, of course. And right. I admired the courage with which she vented the anger that I myself chose to keep concealed. And I think that women have earned the right to shout, after centuries in which they have been constrained to whisper protest against the privilege and power of men. By the same token, though, that "deplorable" woman had earned the right to wear that vile symbol of everything Trump.

Is this what we have come to, as a country? What a sad, sad tale.

STOP AT NOTHING

It seems Republicans will stop at nothing to achieve and hold on to power. I watched last night as Rachel Maddow recounted in excruciating detail how Lee Atwater cleverly conspired, all those years ago, to set up Gary Hart in the "Monkey Business" trap--an operation successful enough to remove Hart from presidential contention and a real chance of defeating George H.W.Bush that year. Since then, of course, we have had the Bush-Gore fiasco and the 2016 "election" of the present pretender who occupies the White House.

Poll after poll shows that America is at heart democratic--even Democratic with a capital D. Poll after poll shows that Republicans in power are hell bent on implementing goals that are at odds with the wishes of the majority of Americans. They achieve power by chicanery: voter suppression, obscene misuse of wealth, gerrymandering, manipulation of the Supreme Court, the absurdity of the Electoral College and the long outdated tradition of two senators per state... And wield it ruthlessly. With shameless lies and propaganda, they manage to enforce the ovine obedience of a good part of the American electorate, the only check and balance that could exercise some semblance of control.

If we, the majority of American voters, fail to get of our rear ends and make our voices heard in two weeks time, we will have thrown our noble experiment in democracy to the wolves. We must not simply speak with our votes. We must shout.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

KAVANAUGH: A TARDY REVIEW

I have been gone these past couple of weeks--not the best time to be away, in view of the upcoming election, but plans were made long ago...

I return to find Brett Kavanaugh appointed to the US Supreme Court after an insultingly skimpy "investigation"--an appointment for which we shall all be paying dearly for decades to come. That he was the wrong man was evident not because he had behaved badly as a teenager, but because he was unable to acknowledge even the possibility of having behaved badly when confronted with compelling testimony to the contrary. Instead, he chose to play the irate victim, lie before the Senate Judiciary Committee and the American people, prevaricate, fulminate, and blame everyone but himself--especially the real victim--for his bad behavior.

What could a man worthy of that elevated seat have said, had he had the dignity and integrity required of that position? He could have acknowledged openly that, as a teenager, he drank too much; that, in a state of inebriation he might well have committed acts of which he had no memory; that he might well have been responsible for the long suffering of his accuser, and that he was profoundly distressed to hear of it today; that he would wish, if it were possible, to make it up to her in some way and, failing that, to regain his integrity by proving himself to be honest and compassionate in this moment of real challenge.

He might even have wished to withdraw from his nomination and commit himself to righting such wrongs in his further work as a judge.

The real disgrace is that Republican Senators were so desperate to confirm the appointment of another reliably right-wing Supreme Court Justice that they were willing to overlook what were serious character flaws and rush to confirm the lifetime appointment of a man so obviously lacking in integrity.

It is imperative that Republicans learn, in the coming days, that they cannot get away with such behavior with impunity; that there is a cost to ruthless partisanship and riding roughshod over the express wishes of their constituents; and that voters still have the ability to exercise the ultimate power they were given by the Constitution.

Our "Congressman" is no exception. I am not yet up to date with the state of politics in the district in which I vote, but I trust the Harley Rouda is roaring forward to defeat the deplorable Rohrabacher.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

NECK AND NECK

45% to 45%, according to a message put out this morning by Harley Rouda!

Had I known the election would be this close, I might not have chosen to be traveling abroad for the next two weeks, but those plans were made months ago. So I'll be watching from afar.

I did send in another donation to the Rouda campaign this morning, before leaving. I hope you'll join me, to the best of your ability.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

JEKYLL AND HYDE

Regardless of the outcome of the FBI investigation, Kavanaugh disqualified himself in public with his ranting, misogynist, partisan performance on Thursday.

He was all boy scout do-gooder in his first appearance. But is that raging Trumpiac we saw on Thursday the kind of person we want sitting on the bench of the US Supreme Court?

I say, No!

(I say No to all bad-faith Republicans, too--and there are many of them!)

Friday, September 28, 2018

MY ANGER. HOW ABOUT YOURS?

My anger knows no bounds. I watched yesterday as cowardly, bullying Republican senators hid behind the skirts of a special "prosecutor"--a woman brought in to do their dirty work, whose questions entirely failed to budge Dr. Ford from her compelling testimony. Once spared the dignified spectacle of their victim, they began to vent their spleen against her and heap praise on her attacker.

Yes, I'm quite clear in my own mind that he was her attacker. The difference between the two could not have been more stark. A modest, calm (though "terrified") and clear minded woman answering every question put to her with consideration and care, and a raging, belligerent bully who answered not one single question of importance and showed appalling disrespect for the senators who asked perfectly reasonable questions--especially, I have to note, the women.

It seems, from this morning's reports, that craven Republicans are lining up with their "yes" vote for a man who lied blatantly in front of them. If he is confirmed, the Supreme Court of the United States will be disgraced for decades by his presence.

In addition to my anger, I feel genuine frustration at my own impotence to prevent this shameless, public atrocity. I can only hope that November will prove the occasion when Americans come together to reject this corrupt, unseemly administration and the party that supports it.

It also came to my attention yesterday that the man who is supposed to "represent" me in the US Congress, Dana Rohrabacher, is an enthusiastic supporter not only of Trump but of Trump's undeserving nominee. We must depose him, run him out of office, and elect a man who can show some common human decency, Harley Rouda, to the US Congress.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

KAVANAUGH

I watched a good deal of yesterday's hearings. In the morning I saw a modest, thoughtful, truthful woman answering questions to the best of her ability. Her story was compelling and convincing. In the afternoon I saw and aggressive, bullying, bellicose man--in fact, a posse of aggressive, bullying, bellicose men--but I watched the one who was the center of attention as he dodged and ducked, never answering a single question with a straight and honest answer.

At the end of it all, the Republicans seemed to be celebrating what they thought to be a victory. I hope they will not have one. I hope there will be enough fair-minded Americans--men as well as women--who were as appalled as I was by this travesty and who will make their displeasure loudly known. I hope they will put the fear of G*d in enough Republican senators to provide the votes needed to defeat this outlandish nomination.

Kavanaugh revealed his true colors at the hearings, showing himself for the belligerent man who is entirely capable of the act he stands accused of.

Please join me in registering your protest.

RIVETING TV

I'm watching Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony on television this morning. Totally compelling viewing. Dr. Blasey Ford is proving 100 percent believable and 100 percent sympathetic. Is there now a chance that one likely sexual predator nominated for the Supreme Court by another admitted sexual predator will be rejected for this lifetime appointment to the highest court in the country? I sincerely hope so!

I hope, too, that the repercussions of this event will be registered in voter disgust with Republicans in November.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

ON ANOTHER NOTE...

Does anyone else find it odd that the man who is supposed to be representing us in the US Congress seems to have settled on a burning issue as his new pet project...? Airport noise!

Well, I agree that noise pollution is pernicious. I'm no big fan of the sound of jets taking off and landing. But what disturbs me far more than their noise, quite frankly, is their contribution to the much more serious air pollution that threatens the very future of our planet.

To be obsessed with the comfort of the (mostly) affluent folk who live in the (mostly) affluent flight path of those jetliners that carry them off on business trips (hopefully profitable: I wish them well) or nice vacations is all very well... but at the same time to deny the effects of climate change on the planet and our entire species is, in my view, to have some very misplaced priorities.

Perhaps you disagree with me. If you live near the airport, you have my sympathies. But still, we surely need a congressman who listens to what science has to say and believes it. And is willing to take action based on scientific fact.

In other words... vote for Harley Rouda in November. And persuade others to vote for him, too. Particularly Republicans. And Independents. Vote Democratic. That's the ticket.

Monday, September 24, 2018

RISE UP!

Last week I posted a couple of entries in solidarity with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. I hope you read them. I now catch wind of the fact that other women assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are stepping forward. Will their voices be heard? In their rush to confirm a nomination by a "president" who is himself an admitted predator on women, I suspect that those white male Republicans will try to find some way of blocking them--without, they hope, losing the support of women nationwide.

I, in my turn, hope they will not succeed. I hope that women everywhere will rise up, appalled by the spectacle of the last bastion of male domination defending itself against the steady march of time. The #MeToo movement is a powerful one because its multitude of voices is passionate and true. Those in denial of the truth they tell will suffer its consequences, and it's my hope that November will prove the turning point.

Dana Rohrabacher is NOT on the side of the angels, in this or any other matter. I believe that sufficient numbers of enlightened women in his district will join those (well, semi-!) enlightened men who support them in their effort, and properly send this one Republican packing in November, with his tail between his legs.

Friday, September 21, 2018

BUNKERED

(My entry today is cross-posted, verbatim, from my other blog, The Buddha Diaries).

From what I read and hear, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been bunkered in the White House for the past three days. (I like the pun, evoking the memory of that arch bigot, Archie!) I suspect he has not been engaged in the kind of self-reflection and self-examination that is called for at a moment of personal crisis, but rather plotting ways in which he can exculpate and extricate himself from the threat to his candidacy brought about by the accusation of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

Here's what I'd want to see from a man I could vote for, were I in a position to do so, to serve for a lifetime on the Supreme Court of the United States: rather than deny, blame, and attack, I'd like to see a man chastened and humbled by the story of a woman that so obviously has not only the ring of truth but the evidentiary support of at least three witnesses. I'd like to see him ask her to confront him with the story in as much detail as she can muster, listen attentively and without defensive reaction to the events as she remembers them, and repeat back to her what he has heard, to be sure that he has fully understood and registered the facts.

I'd like him then to acknowledge that, if he himself has no memory of the event, it is likely because he was too drunk at the time of its occurrence--but that this is no excuse, and is not offered as such; or that his conscious mind repressed it as being too onerous to bear--again, no excuse! I'd like him to accept the truth of her experience and to ask, in all humility, if there is anything he can do to make up for a past he is unable to change and for the pain and suffering his action caused. Should she reject his offer, I would like him to publicly propose his own act of compensatory service, proportionate to circumstance, and commit to its completion.

That, in my view, would be a man who might yet be worthy of confirmation, no matter how despicable the action of his youth. Instead, he is bunkered in the White House--the very place that has become the epitome of intrigue, calumny and lies--presumably plotting out a course for enough exculpation and justification to gain the minimum of votes needed for "success." There is no place on the Supreme Court for one who follows this course. Nominated by a man whose legitimacy as president is in serious question and supported by a band of shameless co-conspirators in the subversion of the laws upon which we have stood for centuries, Judge Kavanaugh could possibly redeem himself with an unsparing and impartial search for the truth. Otherwise, we shall all be witness to a monumental travesty of the justice he is privileged to serve.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

ME TOO, CONT'D

Reflecting on the story of sexual assault that I told yesterday in the context of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's dilemma, I realize...

... that while I have a clear and detailed memory of the incident, my assailant might have wiped it from his memory bank;

... that I do not remember the name of a single one of the several witnesses; but if it had happened here in the US, the FBI would have no trouble in locating some of them;

... that I did not tell anyone about the incident--not the housemaster, who would have been the responsible authority, nor my parents; nor have I mentioned to anyone else since; that I chose, out of embarrassment and humiliation, to remain silent;

... that it was painful and embarrassing to recall the incident, even in the public forum of my blog and Facebook; to be subjected to a grilling about it before a Senate committee and a national television audience would be intimidating indeed.

In short, it is not hard for me to understand Dr. Ford's long silence on this private matter, not her reluctance to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, absent a thorough, impartial investigation by the FBI. To use her reluctance to question the truth she has to tell is a cruel reminder of the easy abuse of power by men who wish to undermine her for their own political purposes.

I do not trust these men half as much as I trust Dr. Ford.