“…Put My Tears In Your Bottle…”

“Are they not in Your book?”
Psalms 56:9

Every day I think maybe it will be better than yesterday.

It is a very hopeful attitude considering we will soon hit 100,000 U.S. residents dead in not quite 3 months.  That is 3% of the nearly 1.7 million U.S. infected, which itself is 30% of the infections world-wide.

Our total deaths are 30% of deaths of ALL countries. Almost 1/3.  Including countries that are considered Third World on every metric.

And for those saying “well annually we lose this many from flu, accidents, etc.,“ isn’t the better question, “Why are we still losing so many people in these other, more easily preventable areas as well?”

One number really does not make the other more acceptable. That is public relations “magic” to make something unpalatable appear as if it is of little importance in the larger scheme of things.

I know.  I used statistical information to make favorable points as a media rep for PG&E in the 1980s about the dangers of nuclear power versus flying. I know the tricks of the trade.

So if our death rate is also currently 30% that of the rest of the world’s, clearly we have not done as good a job of stopping this virus as Donald Trump would wish the “base” to think.  Or even having the necessary federal coordination to help effectively test, trace and treat it.

You want a test?  You still can’t get one.  Even then, it is only good for as long as you test negative.

Yet people were out at pools and other entertainment venues this weekend as if their lives depended on it, when in fact the opposite was true.

Of course, perhaps life could be worse.  You could be a Black man lying on the pavement as a police officer’s knee on your neck chokes the life out of you for the world to view.  I viewed it.  The entire video.  And I saw a murder happen before my eyes from those whose mission is to “protect and serve.”

To protect whom and serve them how?

Even the easy things to do don’t seem easy anymore. 

How hard is it really for Jack Dorsey to take Trump’s conspiracy theory about the death of Lori Klausutus off Twitter?

Not very.  He is the CEO.  He has a right to do so.  He has the moral obligation to do so.  But morality is evidently not Dorsey’s imperative, despite pleas from the widower to take down the tweet.

I originally joined Twitter for fun and met a couple of women with whom I looked forward to live tweeting about Thursday night’s airing of a new “Scandal” episode, not to be a political warrior against Trump, the GOP or on behalf of other social issues.

But when Trump became the Republican nominee, I couldn’t look away.  I had been a GOP voter from Reagan through Romney.  Trump did not even begin to represent the values for which I thought I had been voting: country, family, the moral fabric of our lives.

I had to speak out.  Because of Trump.  Because of the way he has made me re-evaluate the party I once supported. Re-evaluate myself, my faith.  And Twitter became the platform for my voice.

God knows I don’t want to keep doing this.  I am so physically, mentally, emotionally tired of doing this.

I have lived the better part of my life.  The rest was supposed to be peaceful, full of family and friends and the little joys.

But until we vote in November 2020, I have committed myself to continue being a Twitter warrior as part of the #Resistance.

After that, whether Trump wins or loses, I will be done with social media except for my blog.

Which was never, ever meant to write about Trump at all.

selective focus photo of bottle with cork lid
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“Contagion” Redux

So watching the 2012 movie “Contagion” while “Social Distancing” during the Memorial Day 2020 weekend may sound like a depressing thing to do.

Yet I actually enjoyed it once I got past the Kate Winslet death scene.  It was a little too real until then.

I will skip to the ending which explains the beginning  first.

Gwyneth Paltrow, who plays U.S. patient zero, got the virus by shaking hands with the chef who prepared her meal in a Hong Kong hotel. The chef, who was in the midst of preparing a pig for roasting just prior, didn’t wash his hands beforehand, merely wiped them on his dirty apron.  He then clasped her hands while taking the photo.

Of course the pig had been purchased live at a pork farm. It had also been infected by a virus found in bat guano.  The bats had been turned out of their natural ecosystem when the company Paltrow works for ironically mowed down trees in which the bats had once made their homes in an Asian forest.  The bats fly over the pig farm.

You get the drift.

We are still the cause of our own destruction through our desire to mine every resource, grab every bit of land we can, to turn a profit.  Environmental consequences be damned.

The human misery we experience is generally of our own making.

There are also other elements of what we are currently experiencing in the COVID19 pandemic. The exponential rapidity (R naught) with which the virus is spread through coughing, sneezing, touching something an infected person has touched.  Contact tracing. Using large structures constructed for other reasons to set up huge federal field hospital operations. The lag time and inadequacy of government intervention to aid people struggling to survive in an economy that is closed.  The rush to find a vaccine.

The societal breakdown was more rapid and widespread than we have experienced.  In our life, essential workers have not stopped working, and rioting and looting in the streets has not occurred.  Despite the social media posts showing people going berserk and getting themselves tased because they refuse to sign for a traffic stop violation, we have been marginally civil to one another.

(Okay, except for the people in Michigan trying to intimidate Governor Gretchen Whitmer with their AR-15s on the Capitol steps in Lansing.)

There is even an anti-vaxxer narrative.  Of course the web site provocateur with 12 million followers (Jude Law) pushing it has no problem making money off the fear and suspicion of the government he is promoting.  Celebrity capitalism at its finest, right?

There is even a dollop of hope thrown in.  A vaccine is found when a brave researcher (Jennifer Ehle) uses herself as a human Guinée pig to skip over controlled clinical trials. The vaccine is quickly scaled to dole out to the world based on your birthday month and day in a lottery system reversal of the Shirley Jackson short-story.

And Matt Damon, who played Paltrow’s naturally immune husband, throws a belated at home Prom Night party for his daughter and her boyfriend at the end. (Although why CDC researchers never study Damon’s immunity to see what it is that protects him from the virus remains an unsolved mystery, given the focus on anti-body studies as in our own current situation.)

But hey, it’s only a two hour movie to document a world-wide pandemic from start to finish.  Would that COVID19 would have passed on so quickly.

Strangely the movie made me feel better about being home, alone, staying in on a Memorial Day weekend.  No family barbecue.  No walking on a beach somewhere.  An afternoon nap the only novelty in the “Groundhog Day” of my coronavirus experience.

Because re-watching the movie convinced me I am doing the right thing, no matter how much I am dying to get to the beauty shop and have my hair – which is now three different lengths and four different colors – more stylishly coiffed as I am used to having it.

It’s not worth it to me to risk my life for something a box of L’Oreal off Amazon, a couple of hair ties, and barrettes can temporarily cure.

Because right now there IS no cure for this virus. I don’t care how much hydroxychloroquine Donald Trump allegedly takes.

And if real life follows the script, that two hour movie was about a year-and-a-half minimum outside an air conditioned theater.

Just about in line with everything Dr. Anthony Fauci has told us as our real-life contagion continues to unfold.

Real life.  As strange as fiction, it turns out.



The Lies of COVID

The lies of the world have not changed

Midst the violence of the virus, 

The pandemic that could end us

The one that does so tire us, 

In so many different ways

Through all the deaths and losses.

The lying cries of liberationists

Who think they are free to choose

How the rest of us should die:

“I will breathe and spit on you

As I desire,

While I cling in fear to my gun.”

As if they could shoot the virus down

With a bullet, not a vaccine or a drug.

“I will open my store, lie it is safe and lure you

To fill my wallet:

My breath I’ll blow upon you

As I snip, or file, or tattoo your wounds away.

Your money will take away my longing

For treasure, possession and place.”

As if the virus were an inconvenient fact,

And not an incontrovertible truth.

“I, POTUS, will lie to you that the U.S. is best

At testing, PPE and PPP:

That those jobs lost to you by immigrants

Will come back greater than before; the stock

market even more!” 

When those jobs were long past gone

To innovation, cheaper resource, just in time to store.

“But please, vote for me once more.”

Illusions, all, in the face of nature

We noisily shut out with

Our cars, trains and planes;

With our desire to go farther, faster

While the world goes up in flames

We create.

The Amazon will be no more.

We believe we will tame the virus,

Until the next one comes along

And scientists recalculate

How to make us strong,

As fewer of us go on.

Reaching always outward

Never deep within,

To weigh the sins that plague us:

They also the viruses that mutate us

Until our self is them.

Dear God do not deplore us

For failing to sing Adoremus te Deus

And kneeling before thee

As Christus Redemptoris:

Hail Mary and Amen.

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Breaking News

My heart is broken.

After three months of sheltering mostly at home during COVID_19, it seems my blood pressure – which withstood three years of the Trump Presidency on a beta blocker alone – now also requires a “calcium channel blocker” to prevent me from stroking out (a major risk factor for me as my maternal grandmother and my birth mother both died that way).

Yesterday was nearly an ER trip for me when I had gotten done talking to my cardiologist’s nurse. Fortunately we settled on some anxiety and pain meds for pounding headache and a way to maybe lower my diastolic and systolic numbers.

As you can see, I made it through the night. Hooray for me!

And today brings a new pill into my life to increase the flow of blood into my brain by relaxing blood vessels.

I guess I should have started this out with my head is broken.  But those who know me best could have told you that. (Insert 😉 winky emoji with tongue 👅 hanging out here.)

So I began my morning in serious spiritual contemplation, reading the book “The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective,” by Richard Rohr, OFM, a Franciscan friar from New Mexico, and Andreas Ebert, a German theologian.

(Rohr runs the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, NM; he is of course controversial to conservative bishops and priests because his idea of ecumenism extends beyond the Lutheran and Episcopal churches, and he is rather Jungian in his writing.) (He is also as likely to quote Rainer Maria Rilke as Blessed Julian of Norwich).

Of the nine personality types that comprise The Enneagram, I have read about the first three and what their “root sin” may be. Of course I am convinced I am the type I just read about, until I read about the next type.

I imagine we each have a little of all nine in us, but one is supposed to be our dominent archetype, and by working through the “root sin” of that type through prayer, meditation, and contemplation, we get to the Fruit of the Spirit that helps us rid – or at least control – our personality of that sin.

For example, the “root sin” of a Three is untruthfulness and deceit. Its pitfall is Vanity and the Fruit of the Spirit is Honesty. But you have to put in some very serious self-examination to be reborn from deceit into honesty.

This is a very simplistic explanation, and there is also a modicum of symbology that goes with each type. There are also diagrams based on pythagorean geometry and the spiritual wholeness of certain numbers, but I kind of looked at it, went uh huh, and moved on.

Moving on to the pharmacy was my next task. I garbed myself with visored hat, mask, sunglasses, gloves and hand sanitizer. Yet I still felt very uncomfortable about the older woman not wearing a mask and pressing her face to the plexiglass supposed to protect the pharmacy workers as she screamed at them about the cost of a medication.

I over social distanced from the woman directly in front of me who, though wearing a mask, let out a dry cough as she handed in her prescription, and was uncomfortable that – though he was exceedingly polite – a young man walked within three feet of me sans mask.

I held my gas points card and the two packages of paper towels I had scored far away from the plexiglass as the pharmacy tech zapped their codes into the cash register and entered my prescription cost.

Scurry is an apt word for how I left the building, although I did get a chance to socially distance a “hello” to one of my Church Deacons and his wife somewhere within this experience.

My biggest mistake was turning on the car radio, though. It was still on MSNBC. I heard enough of the Rick Bright testimony before Congress to make my BP start to rise after hearing a Republican say “there is plenty of blame to go around,” but then try to squarely put that blame on Barack Obama’s shoulders.  I quickly turned it off.

So for now it is good-bye Andrea Mitchell, Nicole Wallace and Ari Melber.  Thank you, Governor Andrew Cuomo, (D-NY) for helping me handle the facts of quarantine, social distancing and hand washing so much better than my own Governor, Brian Kemp (R-GA), ever could.

I will not miss Trump and his insane lies, one piled upon the other in a jumble that looks like a tower of unbalanced Jenga blocks.  They should completely fall over and crash when each one is pulled away; yet by some evil magic they don’t.

To my Twitter friends and fellow members of The Resistance and other voter promotion groups to which I belong, I need a break until I see how this new medication works.

Meanwhile, I will be figuring out my Enneagram type, working on contemplative prayer and yoga, and going back to watching as many versions of “Pride and Prejudice” as I can find. (I include the “Bridget Jones” canon  in this category; after all, they have Colin Firth in them, the penultimate Mr. Darcy.)

Hopefully see ya all next week!

gray animal plush toy
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Perchance to Dream

In the time of CoronaVirus, I am sure I am not the only person having strange dreams.

Funnily, they so far don’t involve having the virus itself, per se.  But they are dreams about safety.

Many of them involve my now 40-something son.  Except he isn’t that age in my dreams. He’s anywhere from toddler to teen.  The dream itself is about struggling to find a job so I can safely get him back home to some unidentified place in California, where he spent his formative years.

I know this is anxiety for his safety now, mostly because he is my son, but also because he is a healthcare worker.  It is being expressed in the economic anxiety I lived with for so many years as a single working mother, trying to provide a more secure “middle class” home for him than the one in which I grew up.

Also, as I have lived in Georgia for more than 20 years in retirement, I am REALLY missing California right now.  Georgia may offer more house for the money, but California isn’t opening up tattoo parlors today when the state hasn’t hit its peak viral rate yet, either.

I am dreaming about my parents who raised me and my Uncle Dick and Aunt Norma.  They somehow figure into my dreams about  getting my son to safety by finding a job.  I am not sure why, since they lived in Indiana and Michigan, respectively, during my California years.

Perhaps an underlying gnawing about not returning to my own family when I divorced after six years of marriage?  But had I done that, my son would have grown up not knowing his father.  As I am unsure who my birth father was, it was, again, something I didn’t want for him.

People I loved early in my life have also shown up.  My summer neighbor, Tom, for example.

I grew up in a community that was small, rural farming in the fall through spring months, and a summer lake-side resort Memorial Day to Labor Day.  We lived in our modest cottage home year round.  Our neighbors in summer were the more well-to-do from larger cities in the northeast triangle of Indiana-Ohio-Michigan.  Bankers.  Telephone company executives.  Insurance agency owners.  Construction company owners.

I adored Tom, though considering he spent one July 4th throwing cherry bombs in my general direction, you might wonder why.

I think it was because of the night he pounded on our screen door when my parents were having a drunken argument heard throughout the neighborhood.  He grabbed me, took me a distance away from the house, and made sure I was safe among other adults until my parents calmed down.

For that and many other reasons, he was my hero.

I have also had dreams of my junior high school crush, Jimmy.  They are dreams of what kind of relationship might have formed had my parents not moved to Ohio just as I started freshman year.

When I see my friends sitting at Church holding hands with the sweethearts they married right out of high school 40, 50, 60 years later, I always think of Jimmy and what mighta, coulda, shoulda? been.

So far, there have been no dreams of my earliest college days at Indiana University studying Comparative Literature before I joined the Navy and ended up in California for 20 years.  No dreams about being the professor one of my therapists always said I should have been, the books I should have written.

But we can only go back in time in our dreams, whatever they may be.

Whether to search for safety for those we most love or for ourselves from those we once loved, the nightmarish reality of COVID-19 in our lives has turned our sweet dreams into something we reach out for but can no longer grasp.

selective focus photo of dreamcatcher
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The Saddest I Have Ever Been

Yesterday I wrote of someone else’s deepest sadness.

Today I write of my own.

The rain that fell with its staccato sound on my rooftop has given way to blue sky I can see through the thickness of the pines that dot my backyard here in Georgia.  The yellow pine flowers that drop their dust everywhere this time of year are turning a deep gold. I can hear the birds chirping in the yard but the squirrels today are so far quiet, not scampering about the deck railing as they are wont to do.

I have never seen as many cardinals as I have this spring. The favorite bird of an elderly friend now ten years passed, I have wondered in a year filled with so much other death if she has been signaling to me somehow, channeling her spirit in heaven upon the landscape of my life.

I wrote yesterday of two other losses I suffered in this past year: my sister and my closest friend of 46 years. But those deaths aren’t what sadden me now.

Nor are the death totals I see daily from COVID_19; for them the sadnesses rushes over me in that moment, as does the grief I have felt for all those on Twitter who have announced the deaths of their loved ones. The ones to whom they couldn’t say a proper good-bye.  Couldn’t be there with to hold their hand as they slipped from this world to the next.

No, my deepest sadness is that I no longer recognize my country.  These past three years and three months it was becoming slowly more incomprehensible to me.  But now I see it not at all.

I don’t see it in photos and video of people walking down the Michigan streets carrying AR-15s and Nazi or Confederate flags, demanding their “freedom;” or those sitting in their cars, honking their horns and bemoaning to reporters they can’t get to the beauty shop to get their roots done.

As if that were the greatest threat to liberty we have ever known.  As if that were the end of the world.

I don’t see it in Constitutional scholars who spoke so movingly about our rights during Mueller but who now tweet that “herd immunity” is the only way out of this pandemic, and we must accept that some people will just have to die for it.

None of this is who I thought we were as a country.  None of it.

I was raised by my maternal grandfather and his second wife; to me, however, they were my Dad and Mom.

Both born in the second decade of the 1900s, they lived through the Great Depression and the Second World War. They knew what it was like to have food rationing, to do without sugar and flour and meat.  To have gas rationed.  To not be able to wear nylon stockings. To afford only the most basic things needed for survival.  To raise children in a time of want.

They knew what it was like to work during real war time production demands; Dad as a plating supervisor at a Studebaker plant in South Bend, Indiana, while Mom worked as an Indiana Bell operator.  I still have her employee pin she was given then; it was meaningful to her for so many different reasons.

They didn’t do these things for a few months and then say “Phooey, I am done with this.  Germany isn’t ours to fight; yeah, so some more people will die.  But we want our pantries to be fuller, to wear nylons again. As long as I am not the one who dies.”

But that is basically what some of us are saying.  “Give me back my stadium seats at the [insert your sports team arena here]. I will never know whose Grandma died so I could get my seat back, so what do I care.”

“Herd immunity.” Such an antiseptic sounding term. So data driven, so mathematical and precise.  An exercise in risk versus reward for a country that has been on staggered shutdowns for a grand total of four to six weeks and some change.

The Dow plunged. We’ve lost all our gains, however shall we go on? Yet when it happened in 2008, we found a way. When it crashed in 1929 we found a way.

Am I poorer than I would have been had 2008 never happened? Most assuredly.  My home value dropped by $50,000 and has never made it back. Plus the money down.

But I still have it.  It’s a great deal more house than my parents had when I was growing up. I have a son I love fiercely and a daughter-in-law I adore.  I have good friends, a Church community and a cat who super-glues herself to my body wherever I sit or lay down.

I am blessed.  We are blessed.

Because there is other science called testing.  We can test for who has had this virus already, for who is an asymptotic carrier, for who is still vulnerable.  And in a year to 18 months from now, we can have a vaccine to protect us all.

Meanwhile we can use that testing data and the contact tracing that goes with it to crunch new data that will allow us to re-open the country in a way that protects the most vulnerable and hopefully costs as little life as possible.

We don’t have to slaughter a vast portion of the herd to make our way back to better than it was.

But we do have to have the patience of Job to do it.  Or even of those who lived through the Great Depression and turned around to then defeat fascism and save Europe and the U.S.

But that will take time.  And in a country of greed and instant gratification – which is what we seem to have become – we aren’t willing to save a life if we can have a nano-second of more time to pursue our individual “liberty,” whatever that means.

Realizing this attitude is starting to take hold in the very best of people makes this the saddest day of my life.  I had hoped for so much more.

I had hoped for an attitude of “when all of us are safe, we each of us are safe.”

A play on the thought that unless all of us are free, none of us are.

For those who think thoughts of “culling the herd,” it might save you and a few dollars for now.

But what will you do when this, or something worse, happens again? Who will you be in that time if you don’t have the moral courage and the willingness to be patient in this one?

Because you see, when one dies, we all die, sooner or later.  And when we start saying it is acceptable to choose who lives and who dies, we all die piece by piece each day.

Are you willing to pick and choose who dies sooner so you can live a little later?

I’m just not.

red cardinal bird on tree branch
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Sad in the Time of Coronavirus

Read a very interesting “Washington Post” article today by Caroline Kitchener about women sheltering alone during the COVID_19 pandemic here in the U.S.

While I am sure we each feel like we are in it pretty much alone, the article stated there are about 23 million women sheltering alone, or about 7% of the roughly 328 million people that make up this country.

Oh sure, we have choices to stay socially connected: FaceTime, Google Duo, Zoom, not to mention the old standbys of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. We can talk, we can text or, if you have an I-phone and an I-pad, talk and compose a text at the same time.  So many ways to juggle connection in such a solitary time.

Usually being alone is my preferred state of being, but it was always with the idea that whenever I chose, I could pick up my car keys and just go, wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

I have always been like that.

After leaving home to join the Navy, whenever I had leave, the first thing Daddy always did was hand me his car keys.  The car was mine to command for the duration of my stay, and use it to full advantage I did.

When I divorced and we were selling our home, I could choose between our furnishings or a car.  I took the car.

When I visit the larger, more boisterous Texas side of my family, I always have a rental.  Part of it is because neither Houston nor Dallas-Fort Worth is especially convenient to where they live, and Delta doesn’t fly into Abilene.

But really I couldn’t stay without a car of my own.  It is a control issue; it is how I know I am free, independent, and liberated.

It’s a lot like being a cowboy without his horse, this shelter in place thing.

Again, I don’t usually mind being alone in my solitary “saloon;” I have always been the girl on the sidelines of every dance I ever attended.  I am very adept at watching the world while not being part of it.

Maybe that made me a good journalist.  I can’t say for sure.

But I do get anxious as the day draws on, sometimes to the point of having to down a fast acting anxiety med before my blood pressure rises too high.

Early on in the pandemic, I watched news morning to night.  I tweeted about many things, but mostly the incompetence of Donald Trump’s handling of this national emergency.

”I take no responsibility,” he claims, while blaming anyone and everyone he can possibly think of.  Anyone but him.

Thank God for the governors. Like many people, I find Andrew Cuomo quite soothing.  And it’s not like he is saying joyful things.  But he has facts, and figures, and creates a game plan as he goes.  Is it necessarily right? I don’t know. But he is trying. He is willing to say “the buck stops with me.”

What an enormous task he and Mayor DeBlasio have taken on, as New York has seen the highest rates of infection and mortality.

I don’t even want to think about all the things our Southern governors haven’t done with all the time they have had to prepare.  And we haven’t hit our peak yet.

Someone famous I follow said in a tweet today she has never felt so sad.  I get that.  Sometimes I am sad too and just curl up on the couch in a ball. 

There have been days that have drained me of emotion as I sent tweet after tweet of condolence to those who have lost loved ones.  These have been a continuation of my “year of death” that started with my sister’s untimely death in March last year, and my friend’s of 46-years in August.

I am tired of death.

Sometimes I am angry, frustrated and fed-up that the richest nation on earth can be this incompetent in using our tax dollars unwisely to benefit the 1% so it cannot protect the rest of us in a pandemic scientists have told us was coming for years.

But sometimes I am hopeful. Wisconsin voters who took their lives in their hands to go out in a pandemic and exercise their right to vote made me hopeful our democratic ideals remain and our country will go on.

I am hopeful when I see doctors and nurses cheering on the patients who have recovered and are being sent home.  It is like their mutual victory is also ours.

I am hopeful when I hear a story about a little girl who has made over 700 masks for donation to her local hospital.

And I want to be as resourceful and resolute as that child, each and every day. Even when I am gripped by sadness that paralyzes me.

I know we will come through this – pained, changed, scarred.  But we will come through this.

I only hope it will be to make a more just and equal society where basic needs of shelter, food, healthcare and education are more prized than loopholes in the tax code that allow carry thru so people like Trump don’t contribute to the tax base, don’t get to use their real estate wealth for bailouts they aren’t supposed to get.

I hope for a world where the Steve Mnuchins have to live their lifestyles on just $1,200 for ten weeks and see how far they get.  Where the Ivanka Trumps don’t get to pretend to be noble by encouraging us to “stay home” while she gets Secret Service protection to travel to New Jersey to have Passover with her family while the rest of us missed Easter with ours.

I hope for an end of the hypocrisy, the ineptitude, the grafting and double dealing of the Trump Administration.

I hope Team Biden and his Avengers beat Trump at the polls so resoundingly in November that the win shakes the world.

I hope I live that long to see it, and my need to control my car keys and go where I please doesn’t overcome me and inadvertently expose me to a deathly virus I don’t know whether or not my body can handle.

Even if it means I have to sit here awhile longer and sometimes be sad.

woman standing on volkswagen beetle
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Pinky Swear

She wasn’t my first choice as a candidate, nor was she my second.

But I constantly watched and waited for Elizabeth Warren to say or do that thing that would make me go “Yes! She’s my choice!”  Perhaps she did say it and I missed it.

Now I will never know.

The woman I am wanted her to be my candidate. I could more closely identify with her on a personal level than I ever could with Hillary Clinton.  Warren was so personable and vulnerable as a human being in ways Clinton perhaps never had the luxury to be.

I identified with her struggle from poverty to become highly educated, to be a mother trying to also make her personal dreams come true.

Even her evolution from Republican to Democrat is a journey I understand.  I suspect, like me, there came a point when her moral values bumped up against the realities of the way the GOP ideology did not match the actions of the party and its leaders.

I loved Warren’s motto of “I have a plan,” even if I questioned whether or not some were practicable.  There was rarely a time she showed up unprepared to fight for what she believed in.

One area I wish she had spoken more about was her foreign policy/DOD expertise.  I did not know until recently that she sat on the Senate Armed Services Committee since 2016.

After Beto O’Rourke dropped out, I watched and waited for whom I would vote in my upcoming Georgia primary.

My decision got made when Trump decided to assassinate  Iran’s Soleimani and nearly brought us to the brink of an all-out Mid-East war.  I felt Joe Biden was the only candidate who could quickly deal with a foreign crisis because of his time as VP and the years of relationships he has already built here and abroad.

I do hope debate moderators pose more foreign policy and climate change questions in upcoming debates. My opinion is these have been sorely missing from the conversation.

Today someone posted the historic picture of five of six of the women candidates who first began this historic 2020 campaign to be the Democratic nominee. It was a reminder when this started there was not just Elizabeth Warren, but Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Tulsi Gabbard – all members of Congress – from which to choose, as well as Marianne Williamson.

As each one dropped out, so did the hope we women had this year that maybe – just maybe – this would be our time.

Yet I feel a peculiar sadness for Warren’s departure.  There was a secret part of me that wanted her to win.

I had hoped to see in my lifetime the highest glass ceiling facing women finally shatter so we were free to fly above it, doing whatever we were best suited for without being crowded out by a mediocre male. In the 2016 race, an exceptional woman lost to a man who doesn’t even rise to the level of mediocre.

And I guess I lost hope.  So perhaps Liz and Amy and Kamala and Kirsten and Tulsi and Marianne never had a chance with me.

Maybe next time…pinky swear?

adult affection beads blur
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From Democrat to GOP and Back Again

My first political argument came at the age of ten with my school friend, Dawn Walters.

As I argued fervently for LBJ, she did the same for Barry Goldwater.  Neither of us knew a thing about the underlying issues that grounded their candidacies.  We just knew who our parents favored and argued accordingly.

Indiana has always been a conventional and conservative state, at least in my recall.  But my Mom loved JFK and Jackie, and his assassination was one of those “seminal” moments that marked my childhood and Johnson had been his VP.  So my political trajectory at ten was consistent.

Bobby Kennedy I loved all by myself.  I was just getting up and dressing while listening to the transistor radio when I learned of his death.  My anguish was deep and real…or as deep and real as one feels at 15 when their heroes are gunned down.

Whatever political self I had died with him that day. As I moved on toward 18 and the 26th Amendment rushed into place right before my birthday, I know I engaged in the privilege of voting the next election year.  I honestly don’t remember voting for Nixon, but I probably did.  It was more the act of being able to vote that was meaningful to me than for whom I was casting the vote, as well as the historical importance of being among the first group under 21 to vote in a Presidential election.

I was also by then in the Navy to earn the G.I. Bill to pay my way through college.  So I probably voted for Nixon as “Commander in Chief.”  So let me take this moment to apologize for helping to enable that whole Watergate thing.

A much better reader of politics and history now than then, I didn’t realize how deeply disturbed and drowning in alcohol Nixon was.  As someone who would later become a California reporter, my admiration for Woodward and Bernstein is off the charts.

My 1976 vote went to Jimmy Carter.  The old Democrat in me rose up.  But it wasn’t a political renaissance for me; just distrust left over from Watergate and Nixon’s pardon. I was disillusioned my first vote had ended badly.  So Carter was likely a protest vote, and he seemed a decent person. (At least history has proven me right about Jimmy Carter’s character.)

From 1976-80, I was busy being a wife, mother to a toddler, Cal Poly SLO college student and newspaper intern for the then “Five Cities Times-Press-Recorder.” The internship turned into a job offer and I became involved with the politics of nuclear power, education, California agriculture and small town government.

I also covered state and national politicians: California Governor Pete Wilson (R); then Congressman Leon Panetta (D); the first, young iteration of Governor Jerry Brown (D).  I knew and was known by City Council members in Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and Grover City, as well as Avila Beach Harbor Commissioners and members of the Arroyo Grande Board of Education.

Surprisingly I seemed to be respected and trusted by both the anti-nuclear protestors known as Mothers for Peace, and the representatives of their foe, Pacific Gas and Electric Company in its bid to bring Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant on line.

As a then single parent, after 6 years with the paper, I went to work at PG&E to give my son a better quality of life than my newspaper salary afforded me.  I worked for them first as a media rep in the Salinas-Monterey area, away from Diablo Canyon.  I did not want to rep the company in the San Luis Obispo area when I had been a neutral arbiter in that media market vis a vis Diablo Canyon.

I joined the local Monterey League of Women voters as a company rep, and I once saw then Carmel Mayor Clint Eastwood coming with Sandra Locke out of a movie as my date and I waited to get in.

But it was as a Public Affairs rep for the company in the San Jose regional office that I started to get a better look at how the PG&E folks on the political side did their work. While my own duties became more focused on internal employee communications and special projects, we were a small office and my boss came from the political side of the corporate headquarters.  I got to see how the rest of the sausage got made within a corporate structure that relied on political support for its plans to come to fruition.

While they happily worked both sides of the aisle, the preference was decidedly in favor of Republicans at that time.  It was while working for PG&E that I first started thinking of my own self as a “Republican.” (Though shout out to John Kerry – I was part of a group of PG&Ers that had a drink with you in the mid-80s in a San Francisco hotel bar!)

As I moved to Atlanta and continued to work in environments that skewed Republican, my own voting record continued along the same spectrum.  I was never a “rebel” of the 60s and 70s, even all those years I lived in California.  I was an Indiana girl born and bred and still am to this day.

But then came Trump. And all the values I thought the Republican Party believed in got turned on their head. The decency whooshed out of the party like air from an over-blown balloon.  And I knew a Hillary Clinton vote was the only one I could cast in good conscience for democracy’s  sake.

As a Catholic in the South, most of those with whom I attend Church do not understand my choice to disengage as a Republican supporter and go back to being a Democratic one.  They care passionately about right-to-life issues and vote that way.

Even though I believe with them that life begins at conception, there are a whole host of social justice issues addressed by Jesus in the Bible, and I cannot ignore them to the favor of one.  Just like a whole-hearted belief in Christ, his commands to feed the poor, take care of the elderly, the orphan, the stranger…they all bear equal weight.  I cannot suborn all these for the sake of one of them, however important it might be.  There is no “ranked choice” voting in his command.

And as I have said, I have become a much better reader of history and politics than I was when I was younger and more busy with working and mothering than other things. Had John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, along with HBO, had the prescience to put out “Game Change” BEFORE the 2008 election, my horror at Sarah Palin’s general ignorance and intemperance would have had me cast my vote for Barack Obama over John McCain.

In fact, as the years have passed, my lack of votes for Obama are my greatest political shame.  I have much to atone for there.  Not that he turned out to be a radically liberal leader.  But he was all those things the Republicans had started to just pretend to be: decent, honorable, kind, a man of true family values.  That he was brilliant and managed – with Nancy Pelosi’s help – to pass the ACA despite Republican blockades to it – was icing on the cake.

For the first time in years, my sister had health care and could have preventive female check-ups she had long skipped.

The ACA was a first step toward a proclamation that health care is a human right. It didn’t pave the superhighway wanted by current supporters of Bernie Sanders, but it was an achievement I believe they do not understand how hard it was to claim.

So there you have my political story from Democrat to Republican to Democrat again.  In 2020, my first candidate of choice was Beto O’Rourke, for he did inspire me the way Bobby Kennedy once inspired my 15-year-old self.

When Beto left the race, I didn’t have a preferred candidate.  Like others I was watching, listening, reading and waiting.  Then Trump recklessly assassinated Soleimani and nearly brought us to the edge of all out Mid-East war.

At that point, I realized Joe Biden was the only candidate with the requisite domestic AND foreign policy experience who could quickly form a government for the many challenges we face here and abroad.

I have been #TeamBiden ever since.

I can’t promise how the consequences of my vote will turn out.

Just that it is one of the more thoughtful ones I will have made.

people holding banner near building


Waiting for the Next POTUS

I can’t speak for all moderate Democrats, but I was sorely disappointed by the Nevada debate performance of all six candidates on stage last night.

I was hoping for more clarity on who would claim the moderate mantel. It wasn’t there by debate’s end.

If I wanted to watch people rip flesh off one another, I would have turned to one of the Bravo Housewives programs.

Okay, I get Elizabeth Warren was using Mike Bloomberg as a stand in for Donald Trump and the billionaire class in general. And she took a good bit of flesh in the process.

But for each bad thing you can say about Bloomberg as a businessman or politician, you can say something equally good about him as a philanthropist and donor. There is Everytown, the 2013 gun control group he created.

There is the fact that Democrats flipped the House in 2018 on Bloomberg’s dime. And his pledge to spend lots of those dimes supporting whomever is the eventual nominee if it turns out not to be him. 

When the enemy of your enemy has become your friend (even temporarily), you don’t publicly flay him as opposed to comparing your policy differences or settling for pointing out his flaws.

Especially when the real enemy is sitting on a campaign war chest that has barely been used yet.

Bernie was just Bernie to me.  He raged away, his face turning various shades of red depending on how loudly he was yelling at the time.  Even the palms of his hands turned red.  And when I watched this, and realized this guy just had a heart attack a few months ago, it made me wonder how far off the next one will be.

I just don’t see Bernie and his “my way or the highway” style as able to unify Democrats when all is said and done, let alone the country.  The fact he isn’t transparent about the price tag on his programs makes it hard to argue the case on his behalf to your friends.

A Medicare option that the general public or companies can buy is something I can support.  I think it is political malpractice by both parties that they haven’t figured out a way to do this before now, as well as adjust Medicaid requirements to ensure those who cannot afford healthcare have access to preventative, urgent care and hospitalization.

A healthy public is a productive public, to put it in terms you would THINK the Republicans could understand, if they can’t support healthcare as a human right.

(Along the same lines, so is a well-educated public…a horse of nearly the same color.)

Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar were all disappointing in their own ways.  Biden on a debate stage is not the same as Biden the retail politician whose genuine ability to connect with people in real life lights up a room.

Mayor Pete pulling on Klobuchar’s pigtails and making sure we all remember she couldn’t remember the name of the Mexican President seemed overdone, as did her exasperation that he held her to account for it.

(I admit at the time I was a little aghast by this, but her answer for it was reasonable.) 

I was into the Girl Power moment of Warren speaking up on Klobuchar’s behalf.  This is something I don’t think men would do for one another when competing for the same “prize.”

I had expected Bloomberg to be “dry” and “technocratic,” as he has been described.  But I didn’t expect him to be wooden, too.

His best moment was when he asked who else on the stage had ever started a business.  Because like billionaires or not, they create the jobs that the rest of us need, whether that business is privately or corporately held. 

Most disappointing, no one talked about the crumbling of our democracy all around us.  There was no outcry about Trump’s takeover of the Justice Department and decriminalization of white collar crime that is occurring because to Trump, white collar crime is just business as usual.  

There was also no discussion about immigration and DREAMERS, though kids in cages got a brief mention.  And they were debating in Las Vegas!!!

Coronavirus and how that, on top of Trump’s disastrous trade war with China, is going to affect us both medically and in consumer terms…not a whisper.

My preferred candidate…Beto O’Rourke…dropped out. My back-up candidate…Joe Biden…is not doing well.

If I am supposed to coalesce behind someone else, right now I don’t know who that is.

Perhaps Warren, whose foreign policy background is better than I knew, will end up being it.  I don’t know though.  She has been uneven in her presentation, and sometimes overly passionate about her “fight.”

Because to go back to the beginning, anyone close to moderate hasn’t even talked that much about foreign policy…or any other policy and how it will make my life better for me and my fellow citizens.

At least not last night.

person dropping paper on box

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