Tag Archives: Politics

Where Comes the National Anthem?

Brent Staples writes a perspective in the New York Times that offers information the average American probably doesn’t know about our national anthem. Maybe you knew already about “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and its history and reason for existence. I’ve never heard of it.

Most of us know at least a little about “The Star-Spangled Banner,” how Francis Scott Key wrote it after seeing the flag still waving over the fort after a bitter battle. Stirs the soul, yes.

Most of us know Key was a slave-owner. In general, I’m willing to allow historical figures their triumphs even if they held views we now consider vile. “Men of their time” and that kind of thing, but I add the caveat that there were a LOT of other men (and women) of “that time” who understood those views were wrong. So no one gets a complete pass in my book. But I only recently found out about the despicable third verse of Key’s song:

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave…

This is probably a reference to the slaves who fought with the British in return for the promise of freedom, assuming the British won the war. I can practically see Key’s as an incarnation of Emperor Palpatine, licking his lips and rubbing his hands in gleeful disdain as he cackles over the cowering humans he owns. “You lost and you are doomed forever! Ha!”

So maybe we should not have used that song as a national anthem. Can’t we be better than that?

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” is better – you can read the lyrics here – although it’s still  not perfect IMO. Personally, I don’t think we can have an anthem that does not acknowledge and honor the native people we slaughtered as we stole their land from them. But the history of this song is a clear tribute to real freedom because that freedom applies to all Americans.

Which is the whole darn point.

Advertisements

American Women Die in Childbirth

As a natural childbirth teacher and doula, I know all this already. But this article in Quartz is a credible and accurate summation of the seriousness of America’s problem.

This post is not intended as a scare tactic for women. I simply want to point out that it’s a serious issue that has not been exposed enough.

I’m going give you one quote from the article, that says all the important points beautifully:

Jennie Joseph, a British-trained nurse midwife who has been practicing in the US for the past 26 years and runs Commonsense Childbirth, a birth center which offers midwifery prenatal care in Orlando, Florida, sums it all up effectively: “It’s racism, it’s classism, it’s sexism: All of these things are at play and […] the intersection with capitalism and power,” she told Quartz. “[Women] are dying of a system that’s broken.”  (I added the bold).

Americans – especially American politicians, along with the religious right – want a country where women have no access to birth control, no access to abortion, no access to adequate pre-natal care and even less access to post-partum care, no societal support in the form of visiting nurses, doulas, lactation consultants, no help in raising the children they give birth to, and NO RIGHT TO COMPLAIN ABOUT ANY OF IT.

Women are not heard in American medicine. This is a real and known problem. Reproduction is just one part of it, but it’s a huge part. Please read the article.

 

 

National Service?

This article in the NYT was interesting. Mind you, I have nothing but derision for Kelly’s attitude toward the American people he’s supposed to be serving, but he’s got the right idea with a national service.

I agree. I think we should have a national service in which all Americans, except for the most seriously disabled, should be required to participate. Not just – or even primarily – military service. We should not live our lives or run our country in devotion to war. There are a thousand other things people could do during their service: build homes, schools, or other public areas, teach, feed, care for elderly or children, serve on juries, pick up litter, serve as emergency responders… we could consistently build and maintain a highly functional society whose people understand they depend on each other.

Timing and length of service is debatable. Immediately after high school? Or after college? Or perhaps there could be alternatives people could choose. Some tasks will require skills or education, so people who go into one of those areas might wait until after college or other training. Some tasks just need a few weeks of OJT, so they might be for new high school graduates.

Like the military, people should be paid for this time in service. Health care is a given, as are a regulated work week, time off, etc. It’s a job, but the work is devoted to something the country needs to have done. There should be a basic training period like the military has, although it may not need to be so physically rigorous. That will depend on the unit’s assigned task (MOS in military terms). But the point of it is to build community among the cohort, and this is something that is sorely needed among Americans today. We are too fragmented and too disposed to ignore each other. Basic training and a couple of years in community service will at least be a time in our lives when we knew what it was to work with others toward a common goal.

And we’ll get things done that need doing. We’ll finally be able to maintain our infrastructure and we’ll have access to bright minds and nimble ideas to improve on the old and build the new. And with the training and skills people get during this time, they’ll be able to go out and find or create jobs that will support them and continue to contribute to society as productive citizens. Who knows, maybe we’ll reduce homelessness, too.

And just maybe, we won’t hate each other so much.

 

Charles M. Blow: War as Political Weapon

From the NY Times: https://nyti.ms/2oQuaL8

Like everyone else, I reacted with rage and horror at another chemical attack in Syria. I felt desperate for action – this has got to stop. We need to do something.

I still feel that way. Part of me cheers the American attack. The rest of me is deeply suspicious of DT’s motives. He doesn’t give a damn about those “beautiful babies,” but this was great for distraction from serious investigations and for propping up ratings. And an even better excuse to increase the war budget.

What I really wish the world would do, is put an end to idea of “sovereign nation.” It is always used as an excuse to let violent men destroy innocent people. “Oh my, no… we CAN’T interfere. It’s THEIR country!”

Bull-shit.

We need hard-and-fast rules that all countries and all monarchs and all politicians must adhere to, and that are enforceable by a strong central body made up with representatives from all countries.

Sort of like the U.N.

For most purposes, there’s no reason for interference in any country’s operations. But when violence is happening, when people are fleeing their homes to escape imprisonment, torture, death…, that is the time for interference. No regime, in any country anywhere, has the right to create such a situation within its borders. If they do, the world steps in, with unity and force. Such a ruler must be deposed immediately. We can’t leave a vacuum – new leaders must be established with constant supervision. A clear method must be in place for the people of that country to replace the temporary government with one they establish. And it has to be the government the PEOPLE choose, which may not be the one we would prefer. It just cannot be another government that will incite new violence.

I know this is vague and idealistic. If humans ever decide they want real peace and prosperity, I’ll be happy to help work out the details.

A Guest Post: #Voice for the Voiceless, 1

For this post, I’m starting something different. There is someone I know whose life is a testament to struggle, bad choices, and pain. It is not pretty. It is not easy. But I want to give her a voice. So as often as she can write something, I’m going to post it here. These posts will always appear under the heading you see above: #Voice for the Voiceless.

I will not edit the posts unless she asks me to. This is her life and I don’t want my edits to add or detract from that. For her safety – and frankly, for mine, too – she will remain anonymous.

There is no order or reason to the posts. These are her thoughts. Her life. My blog is simply a vehicle.

_______________________________________________________

#Voice for the Voiceless, 1

Thank you for the listings. I contacted them myself, as well as many others. Also, the woman has done this as well and is on many waiting lists.  As she puts it, the funding is there but the actual services never come through. In fact Alameda County has a homeless information system they us to streamline homeless services and homeless clients. If they contact one program, they contact them all. Yet the agencies are simply not meeting the needs. In Berkeley alone there are over 300 homeless Families. Not singles. Families. Yet Berkeley has shut down almost all of its family shelters. I believe as of January there is only one shelter that accepts mothers and children. And they only have room for 4 of that family type. Berkeley recieved more bulk grants and funds than any other city in Alameda County. For families.
The numbers in Oakland are even higher. Sadly, the few places that take children do not take both parents as well. None take fathers and children. Or thebshelters are in communities where you might as well give up living unless you have a car a job a house and retirement package. So if you get blessed with a shelter spot, and you have a whole family unit, that unit either separates or stays on the streets.
According to the Federal government, Alameda County failed to disperse services to homeless that YOUR TAX DOLLARS paid for. Quite simply, those funds went to alameda county paychecks instead of where they were supposed to. As of January 2017 our county was ORDERED TO CORRECTLY DISTRIBUTE THOSE FUNDS TO THOSE IN NEED. They were told to literally go find the homeless and give them exactly what they shouldve already recieved. Real help.
This woman in particular has been severely traumatized, both physically and emotionally. She was assaulted in our city of Oakland, and then left to survive on the streets with her baby. Not one of the city, county, state or federally ran services aided her. I asked for evidence of this and she gave it to me. That homeless information system, has her listed as an automatic denial for services. Her and 800 other homeless people. Automatically denied aid. No reason. Services get the tax money, and pay themselves or put in “trust funds for the future”. What right do they have, not spending the money on the exact things its given to them for, at the exact time its given to them?
Honestly I believe that this woman was so severely wronged by society, that, we her society owe her an apology, among other things. Not every homeless person on the steeets is choosing to be there. Not all of them are junkies and indigents. In reality there are hundreds that quietly hide in the shadows and try to blend in with us, hoping to one day return to being, us. She is one of the few I have found that does not hide and is not quietly hiding from our eyes.
Her sign says it and when her child is out there with her, you hear it even more loudly. Alameda County, Oakland, Berkeley, if we dont like the homeless problem, we need to start fixing it now. She doesntbneed shelter information. She needs a home. A stable solid building that her son can believe he belongs in. Studio apartments, small single level homes with a yard. Not expensive. Not hard to build. Easily self maintained by the tenant. Lived by the family in it.thats what my hometown streets should look like. My tax dollars got used up by somebodys greedy budget. Now my streets have a partially blind mother with a very young little child, living among the needles and trash of all the others that were ignored. If each of us takes a small personal stance and a bigger public stance to help her and others like her, things might someday calm down. Ignore her and read her or her childs obituary someday soon. Or worse step over that pile of trash and realize its not trash. It might end up being them.
I hope that when you read this, you dont take offense. Just understand that reality isnt what it seems. Its more sick and sad and almost always, the chaos is caused by greed.
At least acknowledge her with gentleness.

 

Healthcare: How to Get There from Here

This article, We all Want Healthcare to Cost Much Less – But We are Asking the Wrong Questions, by Joe Flower, is just about perfect in its analysis of the problem. I encourage everyone to read it.

I have always believed that we need health CARE, as opposed to health INSURANCE. This has led me to advocate for a single-payer system that does away with insurance companies. Mr. Flowers does not quite go there in his argument, but it’s not really his point, anyway. He goes a step further: how to go from a profit-driven and highly wasteful, inefficient system, to one that promotes the best health of each individual? What are the steps we take? What happens in the transition?

In short: what do we pay for?

Therein lies the rub, folks.

Comments? What do you think?

 

Pardon My Moment of Despair

I’m awake in the dark night and this time, it’s fear that’s keeping me up. I feel foolish admitting it, but I am sick with worry about our future. The new administration and the extreme politicians that have been given control of our country are wasting no time in implementing their plans to destroy us. We will soon have no good schools for our children, no health care, no way for our daughters to prevent unwanted sex, no way to protect themselves from pregnancy, no way to save themselves when pregnancies go wrong.

Jobs will pay only slave wages, with no protection regarding overwork or unsafe conditions. Our water and air will become dirty and unsafe. Extreme weather, warming and rising oceans, and our newly unregulated industrial pollutants will combine to destroy our societies. Hopelessness will be the spirit of our lives, and we will no longer have a government that represents us, giving us no way to change things.

Most of this will not affect you if you are rich, but “rich” will have to be very rich. Even those of us who are “well off” will not have enough money to live well. Everything – schools, health care, adequate food, public services, government representation –  will be for sale to the highest bidder.

The people doing this are filled with hatred. They blame us for our own struggles and mock us for our despair. They have all the power now, and they want more of both power and money. They will not stop until they have it.

Perhaps I am losing my mind. I am angry and afraid and weak. But I don’t see a way back from this. People think things will be okay, or even better, but they are wrong. The men in power have no care for people, only control. The changes they are implementing will lead to a dark age for this country, and possibly the world.

I know that my despair is not the answer. I don’t plan on just giving up. But I am so afraid.

 

Week 10: Amy Siskind Lists Subtle Changes Toward Tyranny

Here’s your link for the most recent list of subtle changes taking place in our world, right before our eyes.

I am reminded of “Shock and Awe.” Only this time it’s being used against us. These lists are frequent and they are long. We are being lambasted daily, indeed hourly, with changes that in many cases, offer real threat to our existence. It is impossible to remember them all. It is impossible to maintain the outrage each one deserves.

Please don’t mock me by saying I’m a timid old woman afraid of change. People who know me will laugh you out of the room. I agitate for many changes to our lifestyles and politics and economy. So much is wrong, from the laws on the books, to the common practices, to the philosophies behind them.

But I will fight against change that sets up authoritarianism in our country. Yes, I’m afraid of those changes. They will destroy us.

 

So It Begins

The first announcement by the new press secretary begins the official pull-the-wool-over-their-eyes of the new administration: http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/wh-spokesman-gave-alternative-facts-inauguration-crowd-n710466. It’s pretty sad that it had to be about a silly, unimportant non-issue. The size of the inauguration crowd? That’s your first official lie? Seriously?

Please note: lies are now called “alternative facts.”

From now on, news will be what Trump says it is. Facts are only facts if he approves them. Legitimacy only exists at his say-so. His followers will loudly insist his truth is truly true, and the rest of us only hate and envy him.

Okay.

I do not see how a democratic country can survive this. When truth and lies switch places, and trust no longer exists, there is no recovery.

Perhaps the next generation, or the one after that, will be able to rise above it and bring the country back to sanity. I’m sure people despaired of life ever recovering from the destruction of WWII, yet the following generations worked and scraped and built a better world.

The new world never did come close to perfection, and now we’ve lost much of it, with the rest of it ready to fall to Europe’s new nationalism. But for a while there was real hope and real progress.

We need to tell that to our children and grandchildren. I’ve even got a great-grandchild who needs to know that truth is not what the new language says it is. They need to know that their elders screwed up their world and that if falls to them to fix it.

I don’t mean to say that we elders can just sit back and let the liars hang on to the golden ring. Not at all. We must never stop declaring the facts that are actually facts, and we must prove to our progeny that we will fight alongside them until we are dead.

But it will be up to a new generation to forge trust with each other, at a time when the pain and anger has faded somewhat.

Ours is lost.