A survivalist approach to safety pins.

An uncle of mine was a survivalist in the truest sense of the word. Not survival like a home bomb-shelter bunker filled with SPAM in the backyard, but the survivalist of the Jack London “To Build a Fire” variety.  A winter coat had to have buttons.  A coat could have a zipper AND buttons; a zipper is optional.  At -20 Fº, if a zipper breaks, there is no mechanical closure against the elements — the freezing temps, the rain, the snow, the wind chill.  However!  Buttons and buttonholes.  Now you have options.  If you lose a button, there are 1) other buttons, and 2) the vacated buttonhole provides a natural opening to McGyver up a working alternative fastener using a safety pin.

Metaphorically, the zipper on our democracy has always been stressed, but in the last presidential election, it may have finally separated.  And I’m grasping for any straw of hope, but maybe zipper failure is a good thing.  The bloated political partisanship has grown too big and is now bared for us to see.  Politics, politicians are in an on-going racket that isn’t about governing, justice, or holding our imperfect union together.  It is not about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  It’s about elections.  It’s about getting elected over and over. It’s about party allegiance regardless of policies either harmful or helpful.  It is fealty and obeisance to the political machine whichever machine you happen to be on.  It is sacrifice of the many to the few at the tower of power built with dollars.

It is not about us or even the U.S.  Zipper be damned.

Maybe our safety pins are the best armor we have for holding our remaining buttons together, holding us together, acknowledging that you have as much right to be here as I do. My safety pin is as vested in your survival as mine.

And it’s cold out there. We need all the safety pins.

Post-post-racial America.

When Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, many declared that we were entering a post-racial time.  I didn’t believe it.  The persons stating we had entered a post-racial era were white.

So with the Washington Post news headlines, a small town in Georgia is contending with a KKK flag, I state with confidence that we are post-post-racial.  Or not-not-racial, a double negative.  We took two steps back.  Racism is alive and well among us.  The hateful ugly among us feel or maybe they are, empowered.

And of the many reactions of the locals cataloged in the article, the one that cut to my quick was “a young black man who stood there crying.”  He was looking at a sign celebrating a homegrown old-timey US terrorist organization, the KKK.  Homegrown terrorists who terrorize people who look just.like.him.  Let that sink in.  This is 2017.

In an attempt to end on a more positive note, while cleaning up a kitchen at a writer’s retreat, I asked, “How will we know when we are post-racial?”

The answer came from a beautiful, thoughtful, wise woman with lots of life experience:

“If you were born today and you could choose your skin color

with no impact on your future outcomes.”

Let that sink in.

That time it’s good to be no one …

Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released their analysis of the savings of Trumpcare (AHCA) over Obamacare (ACA) covering the next 10 years.  $337 Billion,  or an average savings of 33.7 billion dollars a year!

And no one will lose their insurance, but by ‘no one’, we mean ‘some one’.  In fact, the CBO estimates 24 million ‘some ones’ lose their health insurance in 10 years.

By 2026, the annual savings to the republic will be $1404/uninsured some one.

And the important things we can do with those AHCA savings?  Military spending is slated to go up 10% or about $54B/year.  That’s 1.6 times the annual savings of the AHCA. The wall at our southern border? $21.6B over 3.5 years    With all the savings from the AHCA, we could build 5.4 walls in 3.5 years! Whoa. Let’s not go too wild.  Priorities.

Affordable healthcare:affordable healthcare insurance?  These are not priorities.  So it may interest you to know that a Google of  ‘2016 average funeral costs’ turns up $7K to $10K. Maybe we can get a group rate …


Fearless Girl, Charging Bull

As a child raised in Wisconsin farm country, I tip-toed past the pasture of a working farm where a snorting bull complete with a ring in his nose, a short tether and fire in his belly would pound the ground if he caught wind of me. He was behind a barbed wire fence outlined around the top with an electric fence. I was absolutely terrified of him. I couldn’t get past him, get home, fast enough.

In commemoration of the International Women’s Day on March 08, 2017, a sculpture, Fearless Girl was put in opposition to the Charging Bull on Wall Street. The point being “There’s a dearth of women on the boards of the largest U.S. corporations.”

Sweet. The contrast, the juxtaposition is stark. A point is made. But like any good art, there are layers to unpack and as the day went on, I revisited the layer with the real life mis-en-scéne of a fearful little girl and an angry bull.

And so, the sculpture ‘Fearless Girl’ was a blast from the past. Like me, she doesn’t have much to fend off a riled bull.  I made it. Her? She is in front of an angry, raging bull that has no nose ring, has no tether, has no barbed wire and electric fence. And she is too close to that bull to have any chance of escape.

So my second reaction to the installation of Fearless Girl is “Get her out of there!”  Tout suite. Shoot the bull. Be quick. Save her!

But, maybe in another layer, Fearless Girl isn’t standing up for breaking the glass ceiling and more representation in the boardroom.  Maybe she is the stand-in for all of us. All.of.us. She is standing up for everything about the United States, about us, about our freedoms, about the functioning of our imperfect union, about our national treasures, about our ideas of what it means to be American, that is priceless.  She is facing down the altar of capitalism and the concept that a free market at all costs is worth it at all costs. She is staring down our very own Golden Calf in the form of the ‘Charging Bull’, taking a stand. When our politicians are not only excited, but energized by sacrificing health care, education, the environment, general welfare, and on and on at the altar of big business, privatization, granting the wealthy more wealth, we need her. Fearless Girl should remain right where she is.

She represents the future. And I hope she makes it but she needs help.


Update:  Over the weekend photos were posted of ‘douchebag’, and ‘douchebag’ is a tad too polite, humping ‘Fearless Girl’. Who is raising these narcissistic entitled assholes?  What little switch in their little brains says this is acceptable behavior?

Let’s move along NOW!

So the web of contacts between Russia and members of the Trump administration is pretty thick. (See Chicago Trib – 2017.03.03, New York Times – 2017.03.03 )

And the focus seems to be communications between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Can we move along please?  Campaigns are so last year.  The election is over. The inauguration?  Over.  Depending on who you ask, and be careful who you ask, the US has either installed a terrific guy or an unhinged narcissist in the White House.  Opinions of President Trump run the gamut.  But they are opinions.

So let’s get to the facts.  How much is #45, Donald Trump – US President, owned by foreign interests?  And specifically, how much is Donald Trump owned by the Russians?  The campaign staff, the members of the administration might just be providing cover.  The Secret Service might just be providing an extra layer of security.

How much is THE PRESIDENT indebted to foreign interests?  We should:

  • Insist that he release his income taxes.  Or resign.
  • Insist that he divest himself of any business interests while President.  Or resign.
  • Insist that he disclose information consistent with his 44 predecessors.  Or resign.

Continuing to focus on past digressions distracts from the now.  And now Trump is doing so much to distract us from what is really important in the now.  (See also gaslighting –  Lauren Duca – Donald Trump is Gaslighting America)

We, the American people, regardless of political affiliation, deserve a President who is not driven by, or beholden to, any foreign interests or business associates.  If he wants to remain POTUS, prove it.  NOW.



Jeff Sessions: White Lies

The Google definition of a white lie:

          “a harmless or trivial lie, especially one told to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.”

In honor of the recent verbal gymnastics performed by Jeff Sessions while under oath and in a televised press conference, I would like to propose an alternate definition of ‘White Lie’ (caps for emphasis):

         “a harmful, non-trivial word construction expertly formed and delivered such as to avoid hurting one’s own political aspirations.” (See transcripts – Jeff Sessions Attorney General confirmation hearing, and Jeff Sessions’ press conference March 2, 2017.*)

Given his racist past, his lying present, and his just-crawled-out-from-under-a-rock-white visage, Jeff Sessions is the poster boy for “White Lies”. And the fallout for his privilege of lying under oath while White?  A month from now he will STILL be the US Attorney General.

Let us hope not.


*The Washington Post beautifully parses:annotates Jeff Sessions confirmation hearing answers and the words he used to defend himself in the press conference March 2, 2017: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/03/02/transcript-of-jeff-sessionss-recusal-press-conference-annotated/?utm_term=.c3333388eaeb