Tragic Nations

Soapbox LogoThe United States of America might be a classic tragedy if we saw it from a historical perspective. The American people would either be victims or villains, no middle ground this time around. Full disclosure, I have always been in the middle, always an Independent who thought both sides had valid points of view and legitimate ideas. In the forty-five years I have been registered to vote, I have missed two Presidential elections. I have voted for Democrats, Republicans and third-party candidates over the years at both a national and local level. I have voted in person and by absentee ballot. This year is the first year I believe every single vote matters. We are voting for the very soul of America; one outcome means the end of our nation as we understand it, the other the potential for something better.

There have been other great nations that have risen and fallen throughout human history; two come to mind as I watch the tragedy this past three-year debacle;

The once-great Roman Empire was brought low by the rise of Christianity, political corruption, monetary devaluation and economic problems, water and food shortages and Imperial incompetence.

The jewel of Asia from 1299 to 1922, The Ottoman Empire was a bastion of religious tolerance, economic stability, arts and architecture. The empire was dismantled by infighting, political intrigue,  conspiracy, and European trade competition, WWI’s final devastating blow.

The tragedy is that those who would lead us are wholly disinterested in history and make no connection to the similarities. I could weave a tapestry with the parallels, the threads of catastrophic human error, ineffectivenesssinglemask and ultimately ego in each. It can’t be just me that sees a trend. Unless we force a change, it will be too late. We will simply be a footnote in history.

We come now to why I have looked at other lost empires and why I think of tragedy when I think of our nation. Truthfully, I believe there is much to learn from history and there is only one word that fully encompasses the state of our nation today, tragic. We started with hopes, grand dreams and obviously many nightmarish problems that would eventually tear us apart. We started with men who wrote the future yet ignored they were building upon the backs of enslaved and disenfranchised people. Today many rise up, they march in the streets and demand justice for the terrible and the terror of not just current indignity, but all that has led to this moment in time. Are they correct in their fury? I have no answer; I am not them and do not have their lived experiences. What I know is we have collectively enabled the roots to rot, we have encouraged the worst of us to rise to the top and have failed to prune the branches to allow the freedom and opportunity to shine equally across all within our diverse nation.  We have continued to deny the truth of our beginnings and maybe hoped someone else would come along and fix our collective problem.

I often think I might be a masochist; I can frequently be found spending more time than I should talking to people across all political alignments. I say I might be a masochist because, at this moment in time, it is difficult to have civil conversations with those who feel so strongly about a subject they are willing to go to war. Yes, I said it and it wasn’t hyperbole or rhetoric; there are those on both sides of the aisle ready to go to war over ideology or, in some cases, insults to their candidate. Frankly, it is sometimes terrifying to engage in conversations, even if it is nothing more than a question of why; nevermind a discussion of differences.

As we draw closer to election day and with many states having kicked-off early voting, the stakes grow ever higher for both sides.  Thus far, record turnouts indicate a tidal wave is building, one that will potentially sweep from high to low through the Administration, Senate and even statehouses and other elected offices. The nation is tired and may perhaps be rising up in a tangible way to demand a real opportunity to right terrible wrongs and potentially avoid a tragic outcome.

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There is still a long road ahead of us, much work to be done, and no guarantees of this election’s outcome. Once before we were fooled into complacency. That complacency was the end of a long game played by the GOP; Donald Trump is the personification of everything that brought down the Roman and Ottoman Empires in one ignorant, egotistical, narcissistic, bloviating package. Mitch McConnell, the real power behind the throne, has seen his dream of a packed federal court system come to fruition under this Administration.

The Trump machine of 2016 convinced enough angry White folk in key states he was one of them. Despite his golden penthouse, his utter disdain for their poverty and their lack of education, their Christianity or their middleclass morals; he hated the same people they hated and acted like they acted, bullied the weak and made fun of those who could not or would not fight back. Over time, he continued to do the same and 38% of those same voters stuck with him, going so far as declaring themselves ready to start a civil war if he failed to win re-election. It didn’t matter what he said or did; there was always an excuse. When I say I speak to those on the other side, some are friends of decades and some are family. Oddly, they will tell me excuse anything, any act, any statement; direct quotes are “Left-Wing Lies” because their news stations are not reporting them. One of my recent favorites was from a New York Times interview, asked what his policy would be should he win:

But so I think, I think it would be, I think it would be very, very, I think we’d have a very, very solid, we would continue what we’re doing. Donald J Trump

If this doesn’t scare you, nothing will. My friends on the Right think this is the best policy; just keep doing what you have been doing; good job.

We have all the makings of a failed nation. No country is ever perfect and we surely have a long ways to go to make right what is wrong today. There is much that must be addressed with clear eyes and a willingness to come to the table prepared to listen first and then begin the real work of fixing what is broken. We all have to acknowledge there is no possible way to fix the a-frame-of-trusthistorical evils this nation was built upon, no reparations that can repair all the harm done. The only real fix is one of progress and future remediation. As a nation, we can address the evil of ‘isims’ in only one way, by making them anathema to all but the very lowest in society, those who have no place and must be rejected.

When we begin to stand up and say no to traitors flags on public buildings and at political rallies as signs of heritage and not for what they are, signs of racist intimidation, then we move our country forward. When we stand up to bullies in our courthouses, our town squares, our media and our highest offices, then we can move our nation forward. Only when we stand up and demand those we elect to our highest office serve us rather than themselves will we move our country forward rather than backward.

Now is the time, do we progress or regress? Do they win, or do we prove we are the people who will save the promise of the United States of America.

Vote because your life depends upon it.

Notorious

The Kaddish Prayer

May His great name be exalted and sanctified. In the world which He created according to His will! May He establish His kingdom during your lifetime and during your days and during the lifetimes of all the House of Israel, speedily and very soon! And say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever, and to all eternity!

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, above and beyond all the blessings, hymns, praises and consolations that are uttered in the world! And say, Amen.

May the prayers and supplications of all Israel be accepted by their Father who is in Heaven; And say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life upon us and upon all Israel; And say, Amen.
May He who makes peace in His high places grant peace upon us and upon all Israel; And say, Amen.

Justice Bader Ginsberg: March 15, 1933 – September 18, 2020

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Ruth Bader Ginsberg spent her life giving, as a fighter for our rights, as a mother and wife, as a Judge and finally as a Justice on the Supreme Court. She was our shining light, our hero and an asset to our nation. With her passing, we are left with nothing but gratitude. May her memory be a blessing.

We lost a titan, an American Treasure. When the news of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s passing rolled across my screen on that Friday night, my first thought was, please let this be not true. Then, as it became clear she had finally found her rest, I contemplated the tragedy for her family, the courts and us, the nation she so loved. I considered what it would mean in the coming days and wondered how long after she was laid to rest it would take before the battle for her coveted seat would commence.

I scrolled social media and news for reactions, allowing this loss to sink in. I was heartened and dismayed in equal measure. I was stunned, though I should not have been, when without twenty-four passing, without letting her body cool or her family and friends to process her loss, Mitch McConnell announced to the nation he would fill her seat on the highest court before the next election cycle. To say I and many others were dumbfounded would be an understatement, to find more proof of how far we have fallen saddened and angered me. I was engulfed by fury, just as so many others were at this proof we were not only living with bipartisanship but something on the verge of far worse.

So now we come to the battle for her seat, the battle for the heart and soul of our nation’s future. The President decided to throw all decorum aside and have a party in the Rose Garden. He invited close ‘friends’ and associates and family to attend his introduction of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his pick to replace Justice Ginsberg. As is the norm at gatherings hosted rose-garden1-gty-ml-201002_1601659831186_hpMain_2_16x9_992by this President, masks were optional and social distancing was not observed. While it may not be factual, the Rose Garden event is suspected of being the epicenter of an ever-broadening circle of COVID-19 infections beginning with the President, though currently, the blame is being placed elsewhere. The one clear thing, ignoring even basic safety protocols, has caused a tsunami of infection throughout the upper echelon of the GOP and those closest to the President.

What else do we know?

We know there are several attendees to the Rose Garden party who have tested positive. We know several people within the Presidents inner circle who were not in attendance have also tested positive. We also know, this man has a complete lack of empathy and an utter lack of concern for any other person but himself and thus continues to put other people at risk. Finally, we know the President continued to move around the country, without precautions and without telling others who may come into contact with him for anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after his first positive test result. Donald J. Trump is a regular Typhoid Mary of the twenty-first century; what should we call him? COVID Potus has a nice ring, but maybe too pompous. Well, something to think about when we have more time to consider the total body count to lay at his feet.

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In the meantime, we have just under thirty (30) days before the election. The current President is pumped up on steroids and telling us to not fear the reaper. Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham are driving hard to approve Amy Coney Barrett through the Senate Judicial Committee and onto a full Senate floor vote before November 3. The problem with this? Two members of the Judicial Committee are down with Coronavirus thanks to COVID POTUS and his Garden Party, Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina). Added to this, Mitch McConnell has delayed the full Senate’s return until October 19, although vowing to move ahead with Judge Barrett’s confirmation hearings despite having three senators out with Coronavirus.

For Mitch, there is nothing more vital than stacking the court, nothing.  On this subject, Mitch McConnell and the President are 100% aligned. Stacking the court may mean their future if the vote isn’t a landslide to remove them on November 3, they will use SCOTUS to declare themselves winners. Neither of them can afford anything less than a stacked court.  This nation’s future depends on a landslide to remove them both from power and save us from future disaster.

In the coming days, so close to the election of a lifetime, there will be many battles to fight. We will see masks come off and we will see the true nature of those who would be kings and kingmakers. Our friends may become angrier, and our neighborhoods more dangerous as we navigate this terrible time in our history. Now is the time where every vote counts. We have to remember no matter the obstacles placed before us, we must not rely on any other person but ourselves to cast the vote that matters. We might lose battles between now and November 3, including the battle for the open SCOTUS seat. We should not be silent; we should not be discouraged.

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Go Vote. Vote early, if possible. Vote in person, if possible. Do whatever you have to do, but Vote as if your life and the lives of your family and friends depend on it.

The D.C. Quagmire

I am sickened by our elected officials, truly to the point now where I simply want to put my cowboy boots on and stomp some azz. The problem is, as someone recently pointed out, whose?

Just Like Mine – Perfect to Kick a Little

Is it those who are so comfortable in their offices in Washington, failing to do the people’s business who require azz stomping? Or alternatively, is it those who continue to put them there either through their failure to exercise their right to vote or worse by actually voting to return these dinosaurs back time and again. These are questions that are weighing on my mind, they trouble me deeply.

In 2008, after the election and swearing in of President Barack Obama, Mitch McConnell (R) Minority Leader said in an interview to the National Journal (available only to subscribers):

The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.

Since that time, the GOP in both the House and Senate have their marching orders and have done nothing but obstruct. Do not get me wrong, they are often assisted by their opponents on the other side of the aisle who fail to lay clear terms and draw clear lines. The problem is, no one is working toward common ground that is in the people’s best interest. Each and every elected official we send to do our business in Washington is beholden to some entity that is not us, not the people. They seem to forget they are there to do the peoples business, that it is us that foot the bill with our tax dollars, they forget us once they have attached themselves to the golden teat that is the public fund.

Let’s take a look at recent events and recent legislation (pass or fail).

House votes to repeal Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), not once, not twice but 33 times in all. Hope springs eternal says Speaker of the House, John Boehner. The cost of this wasted time, it is good question and here is the answer; $71,225,000,000.00 in real terms, I could buy a lot of school lunches and back to school books with what John Boehner and the House Republicans wasted with symbolic debates and repeal votes to

John Boehner
Official Portrait Wikipedia

pacifying the Tea Party.

Since 2008 there has been a war waged against women and their reproductive privacy and rights. This war is at every level, State and Federal. It is waged on Senate floors and on the airwaves. No low is too low and no insult to ugly. No fewer than 1,000 pieces of legislation have been introduced to restrict women’s access to health care services, birth control and abortion. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice is irrelevant at this point, these are just two at a national level.

  • Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA) introduced a HR 358 – the “Protect Life Act” allowing states to deny insurance coverage for abortion including transport to a facility that would provide a woman with an abortion even if failure to provide an abortion would mean the death of the woman. The “Let Women Die Act” passed the House on 10/13/11.
  • Finally, last but not least is HR 3803, introduced by Rep Trent Franks (Rep), this lovely piece of trash had no less than 220 co-sponsors. Named the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, it is a nothing more or less than another end run around Roe v. Wade, another clear message to women everywhere, ‘you have no value.’ This Bill clearly says, save the ‘fetus’ first, never mind the pregnant woman. Thankfully, it failed despite the 17 Yea votes by Democrats under Suspension of Rules.

So what is really happening, these days? We have a few Democrats walking off the farm, they do this consistently. Take a look at them, where they are from and you have to ask yourself why do they even bother to call themselves Democrats, why not call themselves Moderate Republicans, centrists? But then, they would face a Tea Party challenge and like Dewhurst in Texas last week, they would lose, they would be

Mitch McConnell
Official Portrait Wikipedia

unemployed faster than they could spend their own money in their campaign.

The world of politics is changing, in truth it is getting damned ugly. Members of the GOP are walking away from their seats, simply walking away. They are leaving us with these thoughts on the state of politics and government in Washington.

Rep. Richard Hanna (R) has announced his retirement two days ago with these words:

I have to say that I’m frustrated by how much we — I mean the Republican Party — are willing to give deferential treatment to our extremes in this moment in history.”

Rep. Steve LaTourette (R) has announced his retirement this week as well, here is what he had to say:

“The time has come for not only good politics, but good policy and I have reached a conclusion that the atmosphere today and the reality that exists in the House of Representatives no longer encourages the finding of common ground.”

Earlier this year Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) announced she would not seek re-election, here is what she had to say:

As I have long said, what motivates me is producing results for those who have entrusted me to be their voice and their champion, and I am filled with that same sense of responsibility today as I was on my first

Olympia Snowe
Official Portrait Wikipedia

day in the Maine House of Representatives.  I do find it frustrating, however, that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.

We have lost some of our Democratic stalwarts as well, Barney Frank and Charlie Gonzalez, just two among the nine who have announced their retirement in the past year. The field is changing. Nothing is certain and we will see shifts in both houses of Congress with the next election. The problem though, if we don’t see a Congress that is willing and capable of compromise, willing to seek common ground we will continue to be mired in the muck. Our nation will continue to flounder. If we do not elect to Congress public servants capable and competent to govern, we as a nation will continue to degrade in the eyes of the world and as a player on the world stage.

If we don’t seek excellence over a good sound bite, statesmanship over single-issue we fail our today and all our tomorrows. I am sick to death of being afraid of having a discussion about politics for fear of losing a friend. I want to shine a light on our very real need to have those discussions, join those debates and not be afraid of disagreement. We can disagree and still be friends that is what makes us great the ability to debate our ideas without killing each other, at least that is what use to make us great.

These days though, the debate isn’t so pleasant people are afraid to add their voice to add their comments. There is only three ways it is either the vicious attack dog style, the ‘I love you but disagree’, or ‘I agree’. In the first there is never a good ending. In the second there is never a discussion and in the last we already agree.

What comes next? Where do we go from here? I certainly have my own ideas of what needs to happen. Clearly some of the GOP are beginning to feel the same way I do, put on their boots and wade out of the quagmire, but that doesn’t fix the problem does it?

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