Jennie Orvino’s Blog: Piece of Mind
Since I was a teen, I thought having a summer birthday was the coolest. Looking forward to a midsummer party that included music, dancing and a hint of romance kept me going for the entire month of July. As an adult, the July 29s that marked the decades are the ones I most vividly recall.
At age 40, I was still married, lived in a condo in Rohnert Park, and the party happened poolside. Photo documentation shows I wore black lace, had a hairstyle very short at the neck and curly on top, and served champagne to my crushes of the moment—my Rolfer (hurts so good) and my karate teacher.
At age 50, I was freshly divorced, my parents had just passed away, and I had published a new book of my poems from which I read at the party. This half-century marker was catered by a local celebrity chef with live music provided by the Dave MacNab trio. My brother and sister-in-law were visiting from Chicago, I think it may have been their only visit to me here in California. A friend had allowed me to use her Sebastopol home (large deck, large living room) for the occasion. I repaid her the next day by dumping charcoal that was not quite doused… and burned up her garden shed before an alert neighbor called the fire department.
At age 55, my at-home party was progressing pleasantly to cake cutting when I spilled boiling water from an unstable coffee filter onto the front of my body, causing a second-degree burn on my belly (scar visible to this day). Photos show me lying on the floor, my midsection covered with ice from the party drink chest. I felt fine but friends insisted I go to the emergency room; all the guests departed, too quickly and most without cake. I sadly and reluctantly (nothing hurt) allowed Peter to drive me to Petaluma Valley Hospital where I got salve, a bandage, and pain killers I never took. Medical personnel complimented us on the quick application of ice.
“Sexy Sixty” birthday was a grand affair, with a top-notch party committee and enough money spent to cover a modest wedding. It was held at a local synagogue that was a dance hall when I first moved to Sonoma County, and we made it a dance hall again, with my Argentine tango friends making a positive contribution. My birthday performance, documented by then-primitive video, was a tango valse with friend Maurice as my teacher-partner. One of my oldest friends, Ashbolt Stewart visiting from Portland, gathered musicians to play rock and roll. Many of my gifts were entertainments provided by those in attendance, including a lap dance from Catherine Rose which I enjoyed thoroughly.
Five years ago, I celebrated the beginning of my “Spectacular Seventy” decade as a combo of birthday and first-time home ownership. We were blessed with great weather and my daughter helped host so I was able to relax and visit with the dozens of folks who blessed the property by showing up with love. Best present was a salsa lesson from Rafael and Isa, and subsequent bootie shaking on the cement patio dance floor.
And now approaches the “diamond anniversary” of my birth. No trip to Italy as I had envisioned. No party grandly produced. Despite the many good things on which I focus, namely being alive and healthy as many of my generation are not, there is exhaustion. With years of Trump disaster and disgrace turning into Trumpism running rampant through the body politic, and vaccine resistance that threatens to erase all our sacrifice and gains of the past 16 months, I am feeling tense and sleepless. I want to be upbeat, and I’m finding it more difficult than I had anticipated.
For the fourth year in a row, my dear Bethrenae is taking me to the beach for a long walk to inhale ocean air. I am anticipating a feeling of appreciation and solace, hoping for a sense of inner peace. At this moment, it’s the birthday gift I want most.
Last night I watched The Mauritanian for the second time. In light of the recent death of war criminal, torture advocate and former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, this beautifully made film reminds us of what we’d like to forget. Yet Guantanamo prison is still not closed after 20 years.
Director Kevin Macdonald uses flashbacks and parallel layers to show the evolution of the interlocking lives in a story that contains little fabrication. It doesn’t need it.
Stars Jodie Foster and Benedict Cumberbatch do justice to the courageous Americans they portray and the amazing actor Tahar Rahim captures the indomitable spirit of this young man who was plucked from his home in the northwest African country of Mauritania and sent to “Gitmo” via prisons in Jordan and at Bagram Air Base in Afganistan.
As Mohamedou Ould Slahi says in a post-film conversation with the director, “As much as Kevin tried to make this movie dramatic, the reality was more dramatic.” He chuckles after making this statement, sitting next to his friend and attorney Nancy Hollander who finally secured her client’s release, more than seven years after the film closes with the notification that he had “won his case.”
Some reviews criticize the story for being more of a legal drama than truly exploring this most compassionate (and innocent) human being who was confined for 14 years without charge. (His lawyer says passing a lie detector twice had no relevance).
Perhaps because I had seen the Democracy Now interviews with all the principals and had read Guantanamo Diary when it was published in 2015—albeit riddled with redactions—that I felt I knew Mohamedou quite well through his writings. In fact, it was his handwritten pages taken out of confinement through official channels that formed the basic testimony of this legal battle.
Check out the interviews with award-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald, the tenacious attorneys and award-winning actors Foster, Cumberbatch and Shaylene Woodley. Listen to Mohamedou himself asking President Joe Biden to close the military prison that is such a horrid contrast to the beautiful island on which it is located.
It is only through a rare, three-inch hole in the canvas covering the cyclone fences that the detainee gets a glimpse of crashing waves on a beach that resembles the beloved coast of his birthplace. If you see only one 2021 release, this should be it.
Here is the trailer. (Unfortunately, you have to skip the initial ads)
“Testosterone Posse” is the term I’ve coined for male friends who serve as my support system and do some of those things that a male life partner might have done—or I could do for myself if I didn’t crave some yang to balance my yin.
The Posse was vital during the 15 months of coronavirus shutdown. Now that California is on the verge of fully reopening, it’s the right time to give props to some of these special guys.
First there is Kelly Kline, my hair stylist since the early eighties, and always a friend. (I may have tried another salon once or twice but was never happy with the results.) Kelly has listened like a therapist through my divorce and job losses and gains. In the years he was creating outdoor metal sculpture, I attended his exhibits and display one of his pieces in my front yard. He was also the real estate agent who helped me navigate my first home purchase. A renaissance man!
Kelly and I used to talk a lot about sex in the early years of our cut-and-color sessions, excavating topics like stylists whose expertise is shaving pubic hair. From him I learned the word “merkin” which, according to the Urban Dictionary, was a toupee for the pubic area (from a time when hair loss on the genitals was a side effect from using mercury to treat syphilis). That kind of conversation between us has calmed down as we have aged, and now we mostly converse about politics and the state of the world.
The year I bought my house, Kelly introduced me to Gordon Smith. A jack-of-all-trades, Gordon has been mostly at my beck and call for handyman chores for the past five years. Recently described by my tenant as “a tall white guy with a big belly,” he has a heavy New Jersey accent and greets me with “Hi Beautiful,” and “Honey I’m home” when he comes over to work.
Gordon has completed jobs little and big, from sealing unused cat doors to replacing the sink in my back house and miscellaneous repairs in my rental. He power-washed and stained my front deck and helped remove the wood stove in my living room, which required breaking up the stone slab it rested on, pulling the stovepipe up through the roof and sealing the chimney. This Spring, he installed kitchen fixtures and rebuilt two rotted out garden beds. Most embarrassing, and telling, I suppose, was his stopping by to assist when I telephoned an SOS as I struggled with the seemingly simple task of changing a vacuum cleaner bag! He set me straight with a laugh and then was off.
I suspect Gordon and I might not see eye to eye on some things, but my affection for him, and his for me, make me believe that bipartisanship is possible.
A third indispensable cohort is Geo Howard, a friend since the early 1990s when he was a guitarist/percussionist in my ex-husband’s spoken word band. Geo is a fine songwriter, dedicated musician and works as the operations and IT manager for Santa Rosa’s Community Matters, a safe-schools and anti-bullying advocacy and training nonprofit.
Geo was the first person I allowed to enter my house, albeit masked, in March 2020, to help me update my iMac’s operating system and coach me in the new world of Zoom meetings and other technical necessities—all this has made viable my freelance career as a “well-fed writer.” I so appreciate his unending patience when things take longer than expected, his help in formatting my new laptop, his troubleshooting and problem-solving expertise, his many, many hours spent (I must thank his partner, Margie, for her tolerance of his absence on weekend afternoons) and his calm response to the panicked texts I send when my computer stops working.
Geo has also been a long-time supporter of my poetry-performing career, acting as a sound man at the release party for my book, Poetry, Politics and Passion, and being a non-stop booster when I’ve felt my creativity flagging.
The Testosterone Posse has expanded and contracted as good, kind men have passed through and enriched my life for short or longer periods of time. My dance instructors (Zach Crawford, Nate Anderson, Rafael Candelas, Jasper Oudemans, Mark Novak and John Ross) are special individuals whose unique talents changed me for the better. Will Wade, who lived in my granny unit for only six weeks and helped me believe I could succeed as a landlord, christened me “Wonder Woman” for my s/heroic efforts to make the yard and garden beautiful.
Now that I’ve written this overdue acknowledgement, it seems the list of eligible gentlemen is endless!
With apologies to my writing teacher and mental health ally Dan Cochnear, as well as the multi-talented “wrecking ball with heart” David Brownstein, following are four Honorable Mentions — unwitting members of Jennie’s Testosterone Posse who supported my well-being during Covid-19.
Johnny Jones, built my new front yard fence and made many a trip to the dump to help me clear out the last of the debris at the back of my property. He also bravely crawled through my attic to complete the stovepipe removal process and plastered the ceiling to conceal its scar. He was there to rescue me when I had a car radiator breakdown in Oliver’s parking lot and teases me with promises to ride in his new boat when there is enough water in our lakes to float it.
Chris Young, of Christopher Young Financial Services, secured the loan for my first home in 2016, helped me re-finance in 2021, and “loves” my 1991 Honda Accord Wagon.
Dr. Les Shipley has kept my eyes healthy, my contact lenses clear, and provided fashion-forward (and necessary) sunglasses for me since 1980.
Dr. James O’Neal, my chiropractor for 23 years with whom I have an easy rapport, never fails to comment on any interesting socks I wear. I have deep appreciation for his healing skills and caring attitude.
Females are not absent from my support community, but my sisters are not so much “other” as part of my own body and soul. To thank them would be like thanking my breath, my blood, my eyes and ears. A catalogue of women who influenced me, living and the dead, would take many pages.
I’m pleased to say I’m one of 96 contributors to The Sitting Room’s 2021 anthology of art and stories. Each piece was limited to one page on the topic of “home.” I share mine with you here.
I had been a renter all my adult life until February of 2016 when I was able, through a miracle of timing and connections, to purchase the Santa Rosa house where I lived for nine years. My landladies resided on the property in their individual tiny houses for most of that time. We formed a community of three humans, one black cat with white paws named Sylvester, fruit trees (pear, apple, peach and fig), and an assortment of birds and pollinators.
I made pumpkin soup from the sugar pies Mattie raised, and invited her and Margie to summer salad lunches of fresh arugula, feta cheese and watermelon. Our first years were a time of contentment when I did my best to learn from Mattie how to be a good steward of the land. She, who was in her 70s when I moved in, built the garden beds, planted the vegetables, dug out the invasive bamboo, strung the clothes lines, and started to lay a path, one brick at a time, from her door to mine. She constructed a flashy blue chicken coop and populated it with the most entertaining “girls.” The yolks of their eggs were bright orange, like the California poppies that ran wild in the yard until I learned to confine them to a spot easily viewed from my kitchen window.
The chickens departed and their roosts were demolished after Margie moved away to live with a new love and Mattie died of cancer. Mattie was the first person I knew who allowed the disease to take its course without treatment, who made the choice to transition “before the money runs out.” The last time we talked, she held my hand and reminded me that my topless sunbathing had been her “favorite eye candy.”
I had just announced my retirement from full time employment when Margie told me that she was planning to sell. First came panic, then determination to remain in the house I’d lived in and cherished for so long. Friends introduced me to a broker who secured a loan I could manage, and I tapped my 401K for a 20% down payment. The 844 square foot, two-bedroom bungalow, built in the year I was born, was mine before it was listed for sale. The remodeled former garage became a granny unit that would provide rental income to help pay the mortgage.
In July of that year, my Spectacular 70 birthday and my late-bloomer home ownership were celebrated together. Amid a backyard array of umbrella tables and a lively stream of old and new friends, a spontaneous combo entertained with guitar, drums, accordion and flute. The solar-powered fountain burbled, hummingbirds swooped at the feeders, and ripe Sun Gold cherry tomatoes invited all to pick and eat. At least half the attending guests enjoyed a Salsa lesson on the patio and my grandson, then eight years old, performed a break dance as his gift to me.
“Your house and garden are YOU,” someone remarked. “The way they say people come to resemble their dogs.” Taking slight offense at that characterization, I pressed for further clarification. “What I meant was: welcoming, expansive, sensual, organized, elegant and vibrant.” Right. That’s how I want my environment to be.
I probably spend fewer hours in bed than in my kitchen. I love its wood floors, the black-and-white octagonal tile counter tops, the window seat where visitors used to sip Chardonnay as I prepared clam spaghetti—following the recipe my grandmother taught me, but substituting fresh parsley and garlic from my own plantings for the dried versions Gram bought at the A&P.
At home, I am the hostess, the impresario, the boss. The mess is mine and the sparkle is mine to enjoy. Home is my unending creative project, my hideout, my comfort and rest. It’s the place I haven’t minded sheltering-in-place since March of 2020.
Even before the wildfires and coronavirus pandemic upended everything, I often found myself clicking ruby heels together and reciting Dorothy’s incantation.
Home. There’s no place like it.
The Sitting Room has been in existence in Cotati in some form since before I moved to Sonoma County in 1978. It is a non-profit archive of women’s literature, a library, a venue for author readings, lectures, book clubs, workshops and writing classes of all sorts. The physical location is currently closed due to the pandemic but check the website and get on the mailing list. To get a copy of the 2021 anthology ($10 plus $3.50 postage) email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have followed the story of Israel’s colonization of Palestine and subsequent apartheid since I was a freshman at the College of Saint Teresa in the mid 1960s. At an international education conference, I met Palestinian students who filled me in on their history after the formation of the state of Israel. (I find Phyllis Bennis’s book, “Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer,” extremely helpful background.) This is not “an ancient animosity.” It had a good start when indigenous people were expelled and their villages destroyed, creating generations of Palestinian refugees.
In the early 2000’s, I hosted Peace Potlucks with video screening at my home on the subject of settlements, the “apartheid wall” and the non-stop demolishing of Palestinian homes. I watched again (the last time was 2014, and before that 2008) when my tax money was used for unrelenting Israeli Defense Forces bombing the occupied Gaza strip, seeing then, as now, huge high rise apartment buildings collapsing. As of today’s count, 40,000 Gaza residents have been made homeless, nearly 200 dead, including 60 children.
Now the mainstream media speaks of “de-escalation on both sides” as if the sides were equal. This the most famous false equivalency in politics. Headlines also refer to Israel vs. Hamas. Israel is a country. Hamas is an elected political party. The two entities in conflict are a country and an occupied people.
Are the Palestinians occupying the state of Israel? No. Israel is occupying the land it acquired by war and controls the Palestinians in all ways, controlling their borders and their freedom of movement.
Is the United State government supporting a Palestinian state with 3.8 billion dollars of military aid each year? No. First, there is no Palestinian state. The U.S. attacks and prevents recognition even of “the territories” in the United Nations. Second, even humanitarian aid to the Palestinians was cut off by Trump.
Biden spouts the cliché, Israel has a right to defend itself.” Do the Palestinians have a right to defend themselves from occupation, oppression, illegal settlements that steal farmland and water (West Bank) and blockade (Gaza). Israel has prevented flotillas of aid from many nations from reaching Gaza, even killing those who attempted (In 2010, 9 Greek and Turkish activists killed by Israeli forces boarding their boat).
Do the Palestinians have a fleet of bombers and high-tech weapons, including a so-called “Iron Dome” missile shield to protect their civilians? No. In just the last 20 years, if you take a tally of Palestinian women and children killed by Israeli forces compared to Jewish women and children killed there is no comparison. This is the first week I’ve heard of any Jewish children killed by rockets…
Do the Palestinians have thousands of Israeli men, women and teens in their prisons? No.
Do Palestinians come into Israeli homes and take up residence? If they can’t take over, do they bulldoze the homes? No. Land is constantly being appropriated by settlement building and the horribly high “security wall” (Have you seen photos of it? Even worse than Trump’s border wall), and just this week, you can see viral videos of occupiers from Brooklyn going into Palestinian homes claiming residence.
Do the Palestinians cut off electricity to Jewish homes for hours a day? Create roads that only Palestinians can travel on? Practice collective punishment on families of Jewish soldiers and assassinate their politicians? No. No. And No.
False equivalency. Which brings me to language. IDF members are soldiers. Palestinian fighters are militants and terrorists. Just in this current war, what happened first, the rockets fired at Israel or IDF firing rubber bullets and teargas into the Al-Aqsa mosque during prayers?
Several analysts have noted that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—under indictment for corruption, and like Trump, is fighting to keep himself in office to avoid going to jail—has undertaken these attacks to increase support for his right wing governance with no regard for what the international community has to say. There are even demonstrations within Israel against their government’s handling of the pandemic and the erosion of democracy (they are now having a fourth election to try to get stability).
Resolution after resolution in the United Nations on Israel’s building of settlements on occupied Palestinian land (totally illegal) have condemned this abuse, yet it continues. This week, the U.S. has prevented the UN Security Council from issuing any statement on the current situation, as it has always done. The U.S. has been the outlier supporting Israel, even when every other country has voted the other way.
I have been trying to write this for days, so must stop and post. I know my distress is tiny compared to what is being suffered by Palestinians right now.
Below are some of my sources in addition to the Facebook posts taken from Democracy Now.
Covid-19 has only hit one member of my family, a cousin who lives in the Midwest. He is finally, blessedly, on the mend after being hospitalized and in the ICU for many weeks. At the Spring equinox, I get my first vaccine jab, and the second appointment is already set. I am grateful for all this and for my continued good health as a woman who has been eligible for grocery store senior discount day for nearly a decade.
This post is a shout-out to another of my Illinois first cousins, Kym Frankovelgia. A cabaret singer in the style of Streisand, Kym has spent much of her recent career working at elder communities. During the pandemic shutdown, she offered to create virtual mini-concerts for families who could not visit their loved ones in quarantine. I dare you not to get a lump in your throat listening to a daughter’s misty-eyed introduction to the birthday gift of “happy songs” performed by Kym.
In mid-March, Kym had her first in-person gig in a year, singing at Belmont Village Senior Living. There was one way that this appearance differed from the past. In addition to the pizazz, joy and affection that Kym always bestows upon her audiences, she brought along her canine-rescue sidekick, Roxy, to boost the star power.
Kym travelled by car from Illinois to Utah to pick up her “Roxy Star”— a five-year-old Cockerpoo—who had some health issues but whose profile, like the perfect date, checked off all the boxes. That was in December 2020; they have been a duo ever since.
PHOTOS: In the midst of a spell of sub-zero weather, and with the advice and consent of a vet and hip dog groomers, Kym did a bit of color and styling for herself and Roxy.
I remember when Kym, now 66, performed with her sisters in family talent shows before she was even in school. Her mother, my dear Auntie Ange, had been a dancer and teacher who infused wit and big fun into everything she did. Kym inherited her mom’s talent, and more, developed those childhood entertainments into a successful singing career.
Although her website describes her as an “internationally unknown recording artist,” Kym has five professional albums and a history that includes working in night clubs and on cruise ships with the likes of The Ink Spots, The Four Lads, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and Glen Miller Band, and many years’ worth of performing at private and public events. She typically does 500 gigs per year!
And while I am bragging on my family… What I have found the most inspiring and useful of Kym’s pandemic ventures is her Uncensored Food website and YouTube channel.What else was an Italian woman from a big family to do “when the music got taken away”?
I think her kitchen bits rival those of the Italian Grandma. I adore Kym’s casual sense of humor and spontaneous salty language when things go a bit amiss. And her cooking attire is a bit flashier than grandma’s, with nary an apron worn. Recipes for “Marry Me Chicken”and “Crispy Brown Butter Pasta” are her YouTube’s latest.
Please enjoy these photos, Kym’s music, and video recipes. Get the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible and keep wearing your mask as an act of love. If everyone does their part, we will soon be together again, eating yummy food, hearing great music, and maybe even spreading good vibes in the company of a fashionable doggie.
I’ve been waiting too long to write commentary of my own, thus my blog languished. I’m determined to be better, even though this is my first entry in 2021. I’ve used a lot of my energy not lapsing into loneliness and frustration, but I’ll save feeling sorry for myself for another post.
Here I want to share an op ed by Leonard Pitts, Jr. a columnist for the Miami Herald whom I admire. This dovetails with watching last night, a Frontline documentary “A Thousand Cuts” about how democracy is being eroded in the Philippines under the Trump-like Rodrigo Duterte. That crude, murderous president has succeeded where his counterpart in the USA did not (barely). You can see the film online here. Then also check out “Truth Matters: The State of Democracy and Press Freedom” a web event that was live early this morning with Maria Ressa and the mostly female Rappler reporters.
With that introduction, here is “When facts don’t matter, consequences won’t either” by Leonard Pitts Jr.
“My brother-in-law died of hogwash.
“Another brother-in-law, a sister-in-law, two daughters-in-law, two cousins and several grandchildren are all recovering from hogwash. My wife spent a week in the hospital with hogwash. I tested positive for hogwash, but had few symptoms.
” ‘Hogwash,’ you may recall, was the word a grocery-store owner in Naples, Florida, used last month in dismissing the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic. This, after a viral video showing his patrons and employees going about their business without facial coverings, as if they had time-traveled here from 2019.
” ‘I know that the masks don’t work,’ Alfie Oakes told NBC News with the serene confidence of the profoundly ignorant.
“As we observe our first — and, Lord willing, our last — anniversary of life in a pandemic, many of us are taking stock of the various ways we have been affected. The most obvious, of course, is the human toll: One American in every 11 has tested positive, one in every 628 has died. But even those who’ve escaped that fate haven’t escaped the virus’s touch. It has transformed virtually every field of endeavor: sports, education, entertainment, the environment, the economy, eldercare, worship, justice, journalism, protest and politics, to name a few.
“Its effects have also been felt in an arena you may not have considered, though here it has not so much changed something as revealed it. Meaning: it has shown us the high cost of living in a facts-optional — indeed, an anti-fact — society.
“Actually, two events have done that. One was the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by a zealot army drunk on conspiracy theories as laughable as they were deadly. The other is this pandemic, which, though it has killed 525,000 Americans, is still regarded by some as “hogwash.” That apparently includes the governors of Texas and Mississippi, who just lifted mask mandates.
“Because of them, people will die. But when facts cease to matter, consequences do too. Troublingly, the power of anti-fact will soon increase exponentially as more so-called deepfakes come online: seamless, utterly convincing videos that show people doing things they never did and saying things they never said.
“Think about it: If some of us are willing to throw out our masks in defiance of stern warnings from respected epidemiologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, what happens when a false video seems to show Fauci himself ripping off his mask and declaring it time to party? Now extrapolate that beyond the current crisis. The picture that emerges is terrifying.
“When everybody has their own truth and no two truths look alike, we will become — as we are becoming — a society unable to effectively mobilize itself even to save its own life. If we are to avoid that fate, journalists must disenthrall themselves from false equivalence and stop signal-boosting entertaining liars, voters must extract a penalty at the ballot box from politicians who embrace the anti-fact ethos, social media must be more aggressive in denying platforms to anti-fact superspreaders and educators must make a priority of teaching critical thinking, civics and media literacy.
“Or else be ready for more of this: more than half a million Americans dead. ‘Hogwash,’ the man says.
“The pandemic has changed many things. But it has also given us a harsh gift, showing us what it means to live in an anti-fact nation. Let’s hope we absorb the lesson. Because in the absence of common truths, our future is chaos. Believe it or not.” (Published March 11, 2021)
Like, perhaps, many of you in the past week or so, I’ve been able to finally turn away from the antics of the totally unhinged occupant of the White House and his reality-denying enablers in the Republican establishment. (Except for reading headlines about his countless courtroom defeats).
With rains now tamping down our local fire season, attention might be turned to, what, new coronavirus shutdown, and the largest number of cases in the USA to date? What’s a person to do… besides take refuge in that novel sitting for weeks on the table beside the bed, or enjoy a chuckle from tuning in to the late-night comedians Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and Seth Meyers? [I learned that at least for Colbert, the majority of his clever writers are women.]
I’ve been only half hearing how P-elect Biden is retreading the Obama administration personnel for cabinet posts (ignoring Bernie and Elizabeth to his peril). I don’t see the merit of “diversity” via skin color only in the cabinet; what about diversity of ideas?
What about choosing (maybe younger) people with progressive policy plans, rather than “back to the future” tip toeing when boldness is required? And when that is exactly what the majority (yes, majority!) of our country’s people demand? George Bush chose Condoleezza Rice and the now-ashamed Colin Powell as his secretaries of state. How did that work out?
There may be a place, however, for those who exhibit good old-fashioned decency and a desperately needed sense of public service. Here’s an idea that cheered me up when I opened my daily Press Democrat to the Letters and Op Ed pages (often the first place I look after the weather). Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. makes the case for Merrick Garland as the next attorney general.
It would be the one “revenge” the Democrats could take in the face of Mitch McConnell’s shameful and disgusting scuttling of even a hearing for Judge Garland, President Obama’s most diplomatic choice for the Supreme Court.
I remember at the time that I was dumfounded when the lily-livered Democrats didn’t raise a big stink. I guess those clueless corporatists had so much confidence in Hillary Clinton’s ascendance to the presidency that they didn’t want to make a fuss. I suppose I could say the same about the Brett Cavanaugh hearings, but by that time, the Dems were already pretty weak and still afraid to fight dirty. Young women had to verbally (and tearfully) upbraid their representatives in Capitol Hill elevators not to let another Supreme Court outrage happen…to no avail.
It was the first of many outrages in the Trump years to follow, and somehow the decrepit Mitch was involved in all of them (except when it was William Barr undermining the Justice Department). McConnell knew that if Garland had a hearing, he would surely be confirmed. Many Republicans had spoken of Garland as a wise choice; it would be hard to make a case against him on his record.
From the article: “…one of Biden’s essential tasks in the wake of President Trump’s self-aggrandizing, self-referential presidency is to make clear that the Justice Department works for every American. It should never be reduced to being a mere tool of a president’s will.”
I urge you to read Dionne’s argument for Garland as the next A.G, maybe even write to the president elect and suggest it. I wonder if Biden and his team read the Washington Post?
One month to the day after the forever-awaited presidential election, ****p is still gaslighting the American people and declaring himself the winner. (Credit goes Stephen Colbert’s Late Show for the typographical depiction of the soon-to-be-former POTUS).
As the coronavirus rages in the USA with more daily cases ever and the highest death toll in the world, and while food bank lines of cars stretch for miles, he spends the time he isn’t golfing inciting his followers with conspiracy theories and abject denial of reality.
Bill Clinton was impeached (and acquitted) not for his sexual relationship with a White House intern 27 years his junior, but for lying and obstruction of justice. That pales beside the four-year onslaught of untruths numbering past 20,000 by the current occupant of the White House.
And now ****p is gathering mounds of cash to pay his campaign debt by continuing to fund-raise for his bogus legal fights. You may or may not believe that the erstwhile presidential lawyer and co-liar is being paid $20K per day to prolong this losing battle (perhaps to bank some cash for his possible prosecution?)
I think it is important to note that in order to pardon someone, the president has to admit within the pardon document that the person has committed a crime. Considering yesterday’s report of possible pre-emptive pardons, (dubbed by Brian Edwards-Tiekert of KPFA “pardonpalooza”), will ****p say what crimes Rudy Guiliani has committed, or what crimes his children and son-in-law should be pardoned for?
President Obama did many things I did not condone (the drone kill program, letting Wall Street execs go scott-free for their role in the 2008 financial crisis, his role as “deporter in chief”) but at least his first lady cared, and did much more than walk down staircases clutching his arm (or vise-versa). Obama’s daughters were not sued by the New York Attorney General for abusing funds from their charitable foundation.
Even Republican officials are past the breaking point — at least a year too late (I’m counting from the impeachment trial in far-away January 2020.) On December 2, Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling pleaded with the ****p camp to stop stoking election fraud claims which have brought intimidation and death threats to poll workers. “Someone is going to get hurt, someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed and it’s not right.”
And not only poll workers. There have been death threats to the employees of Dominion Voting Sytems, one of whom had to go into hiding after his address was published. In Georgia, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he had been the target of multiple death threats. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs released a statement on Wednesday reacting to “ongoing and escalating threats of violence directed at her family and her office.”
Come on people! Are we a third world country? How can we allow a tin-pot dictator wannabe to keep this up for an entire month?
I had a miserable day Tuesday, with frustrating computer issues, brain fog from several sleepless nights in a row and the stress everyone is experiencing from isolation, fear for our health, and the daily struggle to just go on with our lives in light of economic challenges.
I’m writing this to get it out of my head, and to bless the help and comfort I received from friends and family which helped me get almost a full 8 hours of rest last night. When I woke up, I felt the fire to get back to my blog.
Immense credit must go to my 12-year-old grandson for his “Joke of the Day” videos; he has sent me 18 so far, “because I love you so much, Gramma.” Not sure how to link videos sent to my phone here (if you know, tell me). Theo shares baseball jokes because playing catch and doing batting practice are fave things we do together.
Q. What happens when you cross a tree with a famous baseball player?
A. Babe Root
Q. What do you call a haunted baseball stadium?
A. Field of Screams.
Q. Did you know Chewbacca played baseball?
A. He won “Wookie of the Year.”
There, now don’t you feel better?
Yesterday afternoon about 6 p.m. the light was otherworldly orange; this morning, at 9 a.m. the sky is otherworldly orange but also oddly dark, like a storm coming, definitely not as it should be. I admit, I feel extremely uneasy. Writing helps.
What came to mind was the phrase I learned in the 80s: “nuclear winter,” which was hypothesized as the result of widespread firestorms following a nuclear war. The soot injected into the stratosphere would block sunlight, resulting in darkness and cooling that would cause, among other things, crop failure and famine. That’s what the air/sky looks like. Our California Governor Newsom is saying he has no patience with people who deny global climate change now…Well, yes, for decades we have been warned. Unfortunately, the Gov is still awarding a tremendous number of oil and gas leases, keeping the fossil fuel industry thriving in our state.
It’s official; the William Barr Justice Department has become Donald J. Trump’s personal law firm. In addition to misrepresenting the Mueller Report, reversing Roger Stone’s jail sentence, and firing prosecutors unfriendly to “the orange man” (I took note that in a speech, following his son’s being shot in the back by police seven times at point blank range, Jacob Blake’s father referred to Trump as “orange man” casually, as if that were his name), now the Justice Department wants to make us, American citizens, pay if a lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll succeeds.
Yes, the woman who accused Trump of raping her in the dressing room of a swank department store 20 years ago has a defamation suit in process. This maneuver by the Justice Department wants to move the case to federal court, which would make the U.S. government, rather than Trump himself, the defendant in the case. (See article in the Washington Post). As if we are not already paying in lives and treasure for the crimes of this – I’m running out of adjectives for the mendacious, vile, cruel, misogynistic—man, here’s yet another example.
Well, enough on that. On the side of comic relief, but also insight, let me recommend once again Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert, who are using their platforms of late night comedy to educate citizens about democracy…and history. On a recent show, Noah did a terrific comparison of the current pandemic and the 1918 influenza pandemic. And still they make us laugh through our tears.
Finally, let me recommend Roy Zimmerman
If you have never heard this wonderful singer/songwriter/political satirist, you are in for a treat, and again, a much-needed chuckle. I heard him perform in Occidental a couple of years ago and last night scrolling through Facebook at bedtime, I came upon his “Live from the Left Coast.” I urge you to check him out and contribute for the music. He said he’s doing a new Facebook Live mini concert every Tuesday. Right on his home page you can click and hear “Vote Him Away (the Liar Tweets Tonight).” I’ll admit he had me singing along, right there from my pillow.By the way, the address for his Metaphor Records is in Lakeport, CA.