Squirrels and birds have taken over the neighborhood. Sitting on my porch just now I saw two squirrels running headlong down the street, and I wonder if these are the same two who burst through my yard yesterday upsetting my reverie. It's good to watch the animals get on as they always do. They are not troubled by the vicissitudes of modern life. They just squabbling over food, singing songs of love and chasing down a would-be mate. The large cedar tree in the corner of the yard endures -- through drought and freezing temperatures. A home for said creatures and a witness, albeit a silent one.
I started watching the second season of the show Man in the High Castle. It's grim, but no worse than our current political scene. Well, that's an exaggeration of course, it's worse because the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese have taken over the United States. I watched the last season before the election of our Nazi King and the show didn't have quite the impact it has now. I've also been watching Black Mirror, which is a series of individual stories about our modern obsession with tiny screens and the remote connections. What makes both of these series so disquieting is that they have a large kernel of truth in them. They express the final and worst scenarios of what we are currently building in our culture.
I've given up viewing the news on TV except for the PBS NewsHour. I suppose I've traded one nightmare for another. It's like a bloody car crash alongside the highway -- you don't want to look but you do. Such is human nature.
"Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull." George Orwell, 1984
What a grand holiday season for us. The last guests have left, and we have a quiet home once again. We entertained steadily from Christmas eve day until this afternoon. All welcomed guests, all loved, all seemed to enjoy themselves.
Love, kisses, hugs and laughter all around. Plus the antics of a 5 year old boy who is a sneaky and cheeky lil' monkey. He and I had a couple of soaks in the hot tub together, which was quite the challenge because we have had some seriously cold weather. Once in the tub, of course, all was fine and dandy. But getting out was agony. I love him a lot.
A couple of days before Christmas, we received this tin of homemade cookies from a friend in France. We spent time with her husband while in Paris this year, but we have yet to met her. And yet, she, the most thoughtful one, put together a wonderful package of tea towels, hand painted mugs, treats and these cookies she made herself.
That's a stellar woman right there.
Christmas eve and the first night of Hanukka happened to coincide this year, so we lit the menorah while a friend of ours said prayers. I haven't done this ritual since my daughter was a toddler and we were living with friends who are Jewish. My husband has had our menorah all his life, and it is a treasure. My husband is not observant, and I'm not Jewish, but I always appreciate customs and rituals.
Here's our cheeky monkey writing a thank you note for Santa. He put it next to the cookies and milk. We were tracking Santa on the NORAD site and it was pretty exciting. When the sleigh got to the United States, we hustled him off to bed so Santa wouldn't skip our home.
Christmas is so much fun when you've got believers in your company!
I have skipped some post as of late, as the general tenor of the country has me worn down. So our wonderful holiday visitors were just what I needed and wanted. After my nomadic and erratic life fades into my background, I am often aware of how lucky I am to have a home, a life partner, a daughter (and her family) and good friends. I have everything I could possibly want. I cling to that these crazy days.
the past few weeks, a number of anguished friends and acquaintances,
and even some strangers, have got in touch with me to ask what they
might do to oppose Donald Trump. Being a fellow sufferer from OATS—Obsessing
About Trump Syndrome—my first instinct has been to tell people to get
off social media and take a long walk. It won’t do anybody much good,
except possibly Trump, if large numbers of people who voted against him
send themselves mad by constantly reading about him, cursing him, and
recirculating his latest outrages.
of course, taking a mental-health break is only a first step toward
preserving the Republic. As a daily columnist, I see my role as trying
to analyze and critique the Trump program, while also trying to
understand some of the phenomena that allowed him to blag his way to the
verge of the White House. But for those who want to take a more direct
approach, here are some suggestions, starting with something you can do
1. Go to change.org and join the 4.9 million people who have signed a petition calling on members of the Electoral College to reject Trump. Then contact the electors for your state directly and tell them your concerns. On Monday, the five hundred and thirty eight electors will choose a new President. According to
the Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, between twenty and thirty
Republican electors are ready to vote against Trump. To deny him a
majority, the number would need to reach thirty-seven. Most observers
think that won’t happen, and, even if it did, the task of electing a
President would pass to the Republican-dominated House of
Representatives, which would almost certainly vote for Trump. But a big
protest vote in the Electoral College could still have great deal of
A central part
of the self-serving Trump narrative is that he won an electoral
landslide. That is nonsense, of course. He got about forty-six per cent
of the vote, he carried several states by less than one per cent, and
Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.7 million votes. But how to
manifest these figures? There is no modern precedent for a large-scale
revolt against a President-elect in the Electoral College. If one
emerges this time, it will send a powerful message to the world that a
majority of Americans don’t want Trump as their President.
2. Attend the Women’s March on Washington, which will take place on Saturday, January 21st. What
better way to demonstrate the scale of the opposition to Trump than to
stage a huge protest on his new doorstep the very day after his
Inauguration? On Thursday, the Washington, D.C., police department
confirmed that it has issued a permit for the march, which will start at
Independence Avenue and Third Street Southwest, right in front of the
Capitol. From there, the demonstrators will march west along
Independence Avenue, which is on the southern edge of the National
Mall. Despite the fact that the marchers won’t be allowed near the
Lincoln Memorial, which the National Park Service has cordoned off at
the request of the Trump Inauguration committee, they will be clearly
visible from the White House.
On Thursday afternoon, a hundred and forty seven thousand people had indicated on Facebook that
they intend to be there, but the actual numbers could be much larger.
And, despite the name of the march, it is definitely not restricted to
people with two X chromosomes. According to its organizers, “any
person, regardless of gender or gender identity, who believes women’s
rights are human rights” is welcome to attend. Effectively, the march is
an opportunity for anybody who opposes Trump to get out there and be
3. Contribute to organizations that will oppose Trump and the Republican agenda. In
the wake of Trump’s victory on November 8th, a number of well-known
liberal groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the
Anti-Defamation League, the Sierra Club, and Planned Parenthood,
reported that they had seen a surge in donations and volunteers. That
was encouraging news for opponents of Trump, but it was only a start.
Given his illiberal instincts, the nature of his Cabinet picks, and the
scale of the Republican Party’s ambitions in rolling back the welfare
and regulatory state, the battle ahead is likely to be long and bitter,
waged on local, regional, and national fronts.
this contest of words and wills, all sorts of different groups will be
in need of financial support, from national organizations like the
Council on American-Islamic Relations, to the political-action funds of
the labor unions that will be targeted by Republican governors and their
corporate allies, to local groups of lawyers trying to help
undocumented immigrants who could be targeted for deportation. You can
find lists of organizations opposed to Trump here, here, and here.
4. Support independent journalism.Trump
is clearly obsessed with the media, and for good reason. Like all
skilled propagandists, he knows that journalists represent a potential
threat to him and his shameless efforts to traduce the truth. With his
popular social-media feeds, and the support of an upstart right-wing
press, he has found a way to go around the mainstream media and, when he
deems necessary, to confront it head-on. But, for all the power of
Twitter, fake news, and the social-media echo chamber, real news can
still break through all the noise.
Witness the past week’s revelations in the Washington Post and the New York Times about
Russian efforts to interfere in the American election. For once, Trump
was put on the defensive. For months, he has claimed that nobody knows
who carried out the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and other
targets: at one point, he suggested it could have been a
“four-hundred-pound guy” lying in bed. Last weekend, he called a C.I.A.
assessment that Moscow had tried to help him win the election
But this week Trump
was powerless to prevent leading Republicans, including John McCain and
Mitch McConnell, from calling for congressional hearings on the extent
and origins of the Russian cyberattacks. Many Presidents in the past
have to come to fear getting caught inside the Bermuda triangle of
prying journalists, official leakers, and congressional committees. But
for the oversight process to work there needs to be a thriving and
5. Get engaged on a personal level. Giving
money is one thing, but making a donation to help someone else oppose
Trump is no substitute for individual and collective mobilization. In
any liberal democracy, the ultimate guardian of decency and civil
liberties is an active civil society, which can push back against
efforts to mislead the public, flout accepted norms, and centralize
power. That’s why, usually, one of the first thing that would-be
autocrats do when they take power is attack civil society.
what is civil society? In addition to big national organizations, such
as labor unions, the A.C.L.U., and the N.A.A.C.P., civil society
comprises countless local groups, including charities, environmental
activists, church groups, think tanks, reading groups, peace
campaigners, parents’ associations, and youth groups. It encompasses any
group that mediates between the individual, the government, and the
market, and whose goal is promoting the common good. The thing to do is
to pick an organization that reflects your personal interests or an
issue that motivates you, get involved, and stick with it.
6. Contact your congressman and senator and tell them to stand up to Trump. For
good or ill, the first line of defense against Trumpian erosion of
democracy will be the U.S. Capitol. As the Trump Administration moves
forward with its reactionary agenda, it will be up to legislators in
both parties not to cut deals that target the weak, encroach upon civil
rights, or enrich the new first family. Thanks to the Internet and a growing number of apps, it is now very simple to find your elected representatives and let them know what you think.
as it may be to some skeptics, elected officials do listen to their
constituents, especially when they get in touch with them personally in
large numbers. I relearned this lesson when I was reporting on the
Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, to
which many powerful financial interests were staunchly opposed. Barney
Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who co-sponsored the legislation, told
me that the only reason he and his allies managed to overcome
Republican opposition, and Wall Street’s efforts to win over some
Democrats, was that they managed to mobilize enough ordinary people to
exert pressure on their elected representatives. In this case, the
public will need to be vigilant and involved across a broad range of
7. Support local initiatives to resist the Trump and the Republican agenda. Last
week, Democratic lawmakers in Sacramento, California, put forward a
series of measures designed to protect undocumented immigrants in the
state from deportation. “We are telling the next Administration and
Congress: if you want to get to them, you have to go through us,”
Anthony Rendon, the speaker of the State Assembly, said.
And earlier this week Jerry Brown, California’s governor, vowed to
fight any efforts from the incoming Administration to row back efforts
to tackle climate change. Reacting to a suggestion from one of Trump’s
advisers that he could eliminate NASA‘s earth-science programs, which have done much to illuminate the advance of global warming, Brown said,
“We’ve got the scientists, we’ve got the lawyers, and we’re ready to
fight. . . . If Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch
its own damn satellite.”
Democrat-dominated states, such as Massachusetts and New York, are
thinking along similar lines, particularly when it comes to mounting
legal challenges to some of Trump’s program. And, ironically, they are
taking a lead from Republican-run states, such as Oklahoma and Texas,
which have challenged many of President Obama’s initiatives in court,
such as his effort to use the Clean Air Act to reduce CO2 emissions.
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
8. Support electoral reform. Ultimately,
Trump’s win was enabled by America’s antiquated electoral system, which
was designed to prevent each vote from counting equally. In still
relying on the Electoral College and the rule that says each state has
two seats in the U.S. Senate, we are beholden to the prejudices and
interests of an eighteenth-century ruling class that was white, landed,
and dedicated to preserving the prerogatives of their individual states.
the winner of the popular vote having lost two of the last five
Presidential elections, you might think there would be a movement to
change the system—and there is. It’s called the National Popular Vote
Interstate Compact, and it’s an agreement among a group of states to
award all of their votes in the Electoral College to the candidate who
wins the popular vote. The beauty of this scheme is that it doesn’t
require a constitutional amendment to insure a truly democratic outcome.
But it does need the support of states with two hundred and seventy
electoral votes between them, and so far only ten states, representing a
hundred and sixty-five votes, have signed on.
asked my friend and colleague Hendrik Hertzberg, who is a longtime
advocate of reforming the electoral system at all levels of U.S.
government, what people could do to promote the cause. He wrote back,
“If you live in one of the forty states that have not yet signed on
to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact write—better, call—your
state legislators and ask them to get on with it. And send some love
(and some bucks) to FairVote.org, which just
helped Maine become the first state in the nation to adopt
ranked-choice voting, also known as instant-runoff voting, for all its
important offices, including its congressional delegation. Get up, stand
up, don’t give up the fight.”
9. Be smart: violence would only help Trump. Inevitably,
there are going to be many more protests after the women’s march. That
is as it should be. The right to protest is a fundamental tenet of
democracy, and Trump isn’t just another President: he’s a shameless
demagogue. But for now the onus is on the protest organizers and
participants to try and keep things peaceful, even if they are provoked
by counter-demonstrators or aggressive policing. Doing otherwise would
that violent political protests often produce a backlash from the public
at large—a fact that Richard Nixon, among others, exploited with
ruthless effectiveness. Trump, in his speech at the Republican National
Convention, has already portrayed himself as Nixon’s heir, and, should
things get ugly, he would revel in presenting himself as the upholder of
law and order. Genuine authoritarians welcome disorder as an excuse to
crack down on all forms of dissent. In many cases, they have fomented
incidents of violence for this purpose.
this stage, Trump is still a President in the making. Some of his
critics view him as a would-be authoritarian despot; others think he’s
more interested in lining his own pockets. (Of course, it is possible
that his ambition is both of these things.) Yet others think he lacks
the attention span to be a genuine menace, and that he will merely serve
as the front man for Republican ideologues like Mike Pence and Paul
Ryan. Before very long, we’ll find out. In the interim, there are lots
of ways to get involved and retain your sanity.
Things got even weirder over the weekend, didn't they? CIA reported to senior House and Senate members last September and shared classified information that positively linked known Russian players to the email hacks of the DNC and Clinton. Classified, so these elected representatives, who derive their power directly from the people via popular vote, could not say anything publicly. Now we know that GOP members refused to reach across the isle and present a united, bipartisan front to denounce the Russians back in September. Once again, President Obama thought he could find support with the GOP on such a serious national security issue. Once again, they fucked him, and all of America. They have no shame. Not one ounce of it. Not a fleck. Not a dust particle.
What happens now? Heck if I know. I trust there are people much smarter and more politically savvy than I am who are scrambling to right this wrong. The talk is, currently, that we need to find out to prevent any future occurrences. What I'd really like to know, is can this information be used to sway the electoral college to vote for Clinton? As if they didn't have enough reasons already.
Or is he going to be sworn in on January 20, 2017, and later be dragged down by what the investigation reveals? Jaysus Christ, while Clinton was being investigated and hauled before Congress over the Benghazi tragedy, this shit was going down.
The coup de gras however, is that Drumpf says he doesn't believe the assessment of the Central Intelligence Agency. What a clusterfuck. Will nothing take this demagogue down? (The term gets used a lot these days, and though I believed I knew what it means, I still looked it up: a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power.) "These are the times that try mens' souls." wrote Thomas Paine in December of 1776, in his paper entitled "The Crisis." We are in crisis, now, and how this country meets that crisis will determine if a tyrant, aided by another country, will hold the highest office in our land.
I was reading posts on FB yesterday, seeing that people are worn down and exhausted by the tweets by the President Elect (I just threw up a little in my mouth). The thought occurs to me: what if we all stopped engaging in conversations about his tweets? They are nothing more than infantile rants which hold no official sway, and he's using them to distract from the real news of his transition team and Carrier deals (so called). His tweets are causing loyalists to act out violently. Ok, so maybe that is newsworthy. But, still...So here's my draft to media outlets:
In the name of journalism worthy of our great nation, I implore you to stop printing and broadcasting news of the President Elect's "tweets" on his Twitter account.
His tweets have become a terrible distraction, diverting us from the real news of his transition and future presidency. My guess is that this is his strategy. My fear is that he will use tweets instead of press conferences and official statements, thus avoiding questions from the Fourth Estate. This should undoubtedly be your concern as well. Up to now I have found great humor and pathos in this form of communication from him, but I realize that the entertainment value is hollow and we must now focus on the real news at hand.
Furthermore, his tweets are stirring up frenzied emotions, which is the last thing our country needs now. It is the media's job to hold public officials' feet to the fire, especially in times like these. The citizenry require sober analysis of what is going on with our nation's highest office and administration. Not tabloid news. By all means, cover the news about his appointments. Investigate his every move, vigorously. But please, no more tweet drama.
So, please, do your job. Stop doing his job for him. Our nation is at stake.
Short and sweet, wouldn't you say? Please borrow it and send to the news outlets that you pay attention to.