Giving Thanks Has Special Meaning Today; Celebrating Safely

I almost can’t believe it. Almost. I am going to visit friends, share a Thanksgiving, not virtually, not remote, but in person. Face to face. Maskless. We will be able to see each other’s lips move. We might even hug, not elbow bump. Might. Don’t know yet.

 

We are all boostered. All of us will do a home COVID test beforehand. New hoops to jump through to enable the celebration of a holiday, the first such celebration for us in almost two years.

 

And there is so much to be thankful for. We are alive despite the pandemic.

 

We are relatively sane now one year after suffering four years of a malignant, wanna-be dictator. A man who did his best to shock us into letting him destroy democracy right before our eyes. Who tried to destroy the rule of law as well as truth so we wouldn’t believe the obvious and the factual. Not only about what he was doing to our right to vote but the fact of the earth itself suffering and maybe dying.

 

I am so thankful that President Biden is in the White House, and not the white supremacists, who still disturb the halls of Congress and plot the overthrow of decency and democracy. But, at least for the moment, they don’t totally control things.

 

The tension in the nation has certainly lessened compared to two years ago but is still too high. President Biden has not been perfect by any measure, but he has pushed for more legislation to significantly help the mass of people in this country than I thought he would. He has restored relative rationality to international relations, to facing the climate crisis, as well as ending the pandemic.

 

I anticipated that it would be difficult to get anything done in Congress, due to the GOP’s new identity as the Destroy Democracy Party, and the Party of No, where almost every Republican tries to destroy almost anything Democrats try to pass, especially what would be most helpful to us the people. So I will be even more thankful when Biden and the Democrats end the filibuster, so voting rights legislation passes, along with legislation to promote better childcare, extend the Child Tax Credit, develop clean energy and other environmental legislation.

 

Considering the death threats and incitements to violence coming against him and several other Democrats even from GOP members of Congress, I am so thankful for those who agree to serve democracy.

 

I give thanks to the fact that I still have a voice. The smaller voice of my body and the bigger voice I try to join with, of all those who remember what compassion feels like.

 

And I want to give thanks that I have family and friends, wonderful people, who I’ve known for forty or even fifty plus years. Who care for me and yet aren’t afraid to speak their own truths. Who I can just relax with, be “myself.” Create a holiday with. A celebration.

 

That we also remember, on the fourth Thursday in November, the National Day of Mourning, or Native American Heritage Day. This day reminds us that the story that used to be told of the Thanksgiving holiday is a myth hurtful to Native American people ⎼ and to us if we celebrate and ignore such a painful lie.

 

I wish for all of us a wonderful day of thanksgiving. To remind ourselves of whatever we can be thankful for, to remember those we’ve lost, and what we could’ve lost during the regime of DJT. And of what needs to be done now so we can be safe and celebrate other holidays in the future.

 

*This blog was syndicated by The Good Men Project.

 

A Time to Fight for the Memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Our Rights and Our Lives: For DT, there is No Right to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” Except for Himself

Immediately after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, DT and Mitch McConnell were apparently plotting how to nominate and seat a loyal follower on the court. In fact, they had been plotting for months what to do when she died, and on Saturday announced they would speedily replace her. To them, her death did not mark the loss of a brave living being loved by many, but a craved opportunity to advance DT’s attempt at dictatorial power and secure the ability to possibly nullify the constitutional transition of power.

 

Even in the face of so many people grieving, they rush to fill her seat on the court, showing an unseemly greed, and revealing once again what this administration represents⎼ namely the attempted reduction of everyone from fellow human beings to pieces of equipment, machines to work, resources valued only as much as they, we can be used and manipulated. Anyone who works, fights, for the good of others is a “sucker” or a “loser”. The only beings seemingly free from this dehumanized transactional value are dictators and the super-rich, but even these people are fawned over as gods when they favor DT, and Satan himself when they oppose him.

 

Once again, DT’s actions show that for him there is no right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” as spelled out in the Declaration of Independence, no inalienable rights for anyone but DT himself and his close followers, no laws to limit his pursuit of power.

 

An article in Common Dreams makes clear what this moment, now, means to most of us. After our grief, we must act. The article quotes tweets by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “Our first, no. 1 priority is to do everything possible to secure electoral college victory in Nov. This is the fight of our lives. …Opponents of democracy need your resignation to succeed. Don’t give it to them.” And: “We can win, we can succeed, but we cannot do it alone. …We must get to work. Everyone matters. Everyone has something to give.”

 

Democrats are fighting and we must help them. Even some Republicans are saying out loud that the Senate must not rush to judgment, but carefully consider who should be added to this court. Others that the election is less than two months away and we must wait to hear who the voters think should nominate the next justice (as Senator Grassley and McConnell advocated in 2016 when President Obama had the opportunity to choose a new justice). This includes Lisa Murkowski, and, depending on the moment, Susan Collins.

 

So, whether it be demonstrating, writing letters, sharing information, helping get out the vote, voting for Biden and other Democratic candidates, and calling GOP Senators, we must stop DT’s attempt to use Justice Ginsburg’s death as an opportunity to turn the Supreme Court into a tool for domination, to assume complete power over the court and our government as a whole. And we must stop his attempt to win a second (and third) term in office.

 

**Here are numbers of some GOP Senators to call: Susan Collins: 202-224-2523, Cory Gardner: 202-224-5941, Chuck Grassley:  202-224-3744, Lisa Murkowski: 202-224-6665, Mitt Romney: 202-224-5251.

 

 

How Will Our Response to the Coronavirus Change Our Society? Will the Virus Bring Down This Administration?

So many changes are happening in our nation due to the coronavirus and our response to it that we can barely digest it. And this is on top of the three years of actions taken by DT to undermine the safety of our nation and shock our personal emotions, our collective mental health and our political and legal system. And now, every aspect of our society might be threatened along with the lives of many people.

 

DT is not responsible for the coronavirus. But he is responsible for the incompetence of his response to it and for prioritizing the state of the stock market and his own re-election over any concern for people’s lives.

 

DT set the stage for this crisis with his attitude toward public health, which at best could be called short-sighted, at worst idiotic, cruel, or vengeful (as he pointedly cut programs started by President Obama). He proposed cuts to the 2020 and 2021 budgets for the CDC. Cuts to the CDC began in 2018, when Obama-era health security funding was cut and the agency ran out of money. According to Fortune Magazine, “Overall in 2018, Trump called for $15 billion in reduced health spending that had previously been approved, …cutting the global disease-fighting budgets of the CDC, National Security Council (NSC), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Health and Human Services (HHS) in the process.” He dismantled the entire White House team in charge of global health security, also created by Obama.

 

DT’s choices for running the health agencies are also suspect. For example, his choice of Robert Redfield to chair the CDC was controversial. Redfield had once claimed the best way to stop the AIDS epidemic in Africa was through abstinence and monogamy and he was investigated for pushing an HIV vaccine as a huge breakthrough despite the lack of proof for its efficacy. DT appointed Alex Azar, former head of drug giant Eli Lilly, to head HHS. Azar had a record at Lilly for predatory price increases. It is debatable how someone with this record could be responsible for protecting the American people from such predatory practices.

 

As the New York Times reports, DT has continuously minimized the scale of the coronavirus crisis, treating it as a foreign threat you could build a wall to keep out. He has contradicted his own public health officials, by talking about going to work when sick, shaking hands with people on his travels (as if the warning by health officials to wash one’s hands was nonsense), and claiming a vaccine will be available soon when it will take a year or more to produce. He has politicized the crisis while blaming the Democrats for doing so, claiming that the media coverage is part of a political conspiracy to destroy his presidency. He focused more on creating his wall against the “foreign virus” then getting out the test kits that are needed to actually stem this crisis and find out who and how many people actually have the disease.

 

What will we see next? Some public schools and many colleges and universities are shut down. Concerts, sporting events, any large gatherings are being cancelled. Workers are being asked to work remotely. Many of us are sheltering at home, isolated from each other.  All this is understandable. But at the same time, our economy and quality of life is being undermined.

 

Besides our own and our neighbor’s health, we have to watch out for how DT might use the virus to serve his own interest. He has already isolated the US by banning travel to all of Europe except Britain. And why Britain? There are more cases of the virus in England than many other European countries.

 

What will he ask us to accept next in order to re-open schools, restore large gatherings, sporting and artistic events? Will he try to further hide information or gag officials so Americans can’t learn the truth? Will he try to undermine Social Security or other safety net programs in order to pay for treating people with the virus while protecting tax cuts or the safety net for the wealthy? Will he try to cancel or limit voting and political gatherings or protests or legal procedures? Will he further attack or eliminate voices opposed to, or who run against, him? Or, as The Guardian warns, blame immigrants for the virus?

 

Or will our response to the virus unite us, wake us up to the fact that we are all in this together, so health care will be improved? And an overwhelming majority of us, even some of DT’s supporters, will realize just how much he threatens our health, safety, rights and humanity and vote to remove him from office?

 

Update: DT just (on Friday, March 13) declared a state of emergency  to more adequately face the crisis posed by the coronavirus.  This state of emergency is actually justifiable and necessary, unlike his bogus one over the border wall. I agree with a New York Times opinion piece, which called for the emergency declaration while expressing trepidation about a President who is already assuming powers that he shouldn’t be granted and abusing them. I am hoping for the best, considering the dangers this crisis poses, but also watchful.

 

**Update March 21: DT might be appearing more serious about the crisis on televised appearances. But underneath it all, he is still undermining our nation.  Rolling Stone has an article on how DT’s DOJ has asked Congress for legislation giving judges the right to hold people indefinitely and suspend their constitutional rights during the coronavirus and other possible emergencies. Also, DT proposed a temporary suspension of payroll taxes. This cut in taxes could undermine SSI while doing nothing to help people who have lost their jobs or businesses due to the virus. If you have no paycheck, a suspension of the payroll tax does nothing for you. It predominantly helps the wealthy.

According to the New York Times, the GOP just proposed large corporate tax cuts, billions of dollars in loans to corporations, limits to paid sick leave, and a check of up to possibly $1200 to taxpayers, depending on income.