Category Archives: Education

Tell the Republican Party What You Think of Trump!

Calling anyone and everyone who opposes the current President, the Republican agenda and the destruction of the democratic government of the United States of America.

Here’s your chance. Get your courage on and tell the Republican party what you really think of what’s going on in the White House and Washington DC.

Calling all Democrats, Independents, Senators (Bernie SandersElizabeth WarrenBob Casey) Congressmen, fathers, mothers, soldiers, sisters, brothers, blacks, whites, Indians, Muslims. Come on members of MoveOn.orgIndivisiblethe Democratic Party , NAACPthe ACLU and all other activists and activist groups in America.

If you have any thoughts or feelings about the takeover of our government and ultimately our country by a group of elitist, white men, now is the time to gird up your loins and unleash your pen.

The survey covers everything from dismantling the Department of Education to the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines, to immigration, Israel and the end of the EPA.

This is a GOP survey. I think the Republican Party actually feels that we, the people, want this type of government. The survey asks questions about actions, ideas and movements that are truly an anathema to any thinking and feeling human being as though they are proud of what is going on or think it’s just what should be happening.

If I were interested in a patriarchy for my government or an autocracy or an oligarchy, then maybe the current Administration would be just what I was looking for. But I am not and it’s not. In fact, what’s going on in our government frightens me, especially the short-term plan to grab all 3 branches of government (they have 2 and are angling for the Supreme Court).

The survey takes about 20 minutes if you include comments, which I did because I found it truly easy to give them a piece of my mind. This man and his cabal MUST GO. Before bankers and businessmen seize the Judiciary and take over our country…which they are doing, folks. Right now.

I gave them my comments. And I didn’t give them a dime at the end. I fully expect someone to ring the doorbell in the next few weeks and carry me off in cuffs. I was polite but really, I told the truth. Let’s see what happens next.

Please, take a few minutes and make your voice heard. It may be the last time they ask.

 

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Filed under arm wresting, Death & Dying, Education, Healthcare, Life & Death, Politics, Religion, Uncategorized, World Changing Ideas

Fighting the Trump Agenda In Pennsylvania

Like millions of other Americans, I have been struggling for several weeks now, trying to figure out what political and human rights issues I really want to focus on, determining just what I can do to make a difference.

I’ve cruised through Meet Up, looking for a group that I wanted to join. I was looking for a group that was established and actively engaged in doing things that would have an effect, that might help gain some ground on this slippery and dangerous slope of the Republican run on our civil and legal rights. I found plenty of groups but none that seemed, from the outside, to be poised for success in this arena.

In the course of these weeks, I did join a start-up Indivisible chapter in a nearby town, an interesting experience but too young in its life to know what it is going to do and how it’s going to do it.

So, instead of looking for groups to join, I decided to study the issues, of which there are many, and find those that I really wanted to go after. I found them.

Gerrymandering

If you live in Pennsylvania, you live in one of the states where voting districts were drawn for political purposes, not to ensure that your vote counts in an election outcome.

It’s called gerrymandering. When districts are gerrymandered, politicians are picking their voters, not the other way around. Many districts are no longer competitive. A growing number of candidates run unopposed. Voters like me feel their votes don’t count and, frankly, we are NOT be represented by the likes of Toomey, Meehan and Smucker.

Fair Districts, PA is working with state senators and representatives to take redistricting out of the hands of politicians and put it into the hands of an independent commission just the way the state legislature did in California in 2012.

So why join this fight? Because bipartisan legislation establishing an independent commission to draw up Pennsylvania’s congressional and state legislative district maps has been introduced in Harrisburg. But it needs our support.

Every township in the state is getting citizens to sign petitions asking local governing bodies for resolutions of support for Senate Bill 22. These resolutions will go to our state representatives as will a demand for passage.

Pennsylvania’s window of opportunity to affect redistricting is closing fast – the bill must be voted on and passed by state legislators this year and next year then be on the referendum in 2018 for voters – you and I — to pass. So redistricting is one issue I want to work on.

Re-elect US Senator Bob Casey

We have two Senators in Pennsylvania who are supposed to represent our views, our politics and our stand on issues in Washington, D.C. ONLY Bob Casey is doing that. The Republican party wants Pennsylvania because it’s a swing state. It also wants PA because Bob Casey is not following the Trump agenda and is not simply mouthing platitudes delivered by other DC politicians.

So what? The Republican party and all of its financial resources are gunning for Casey in the 2018 election.

When it comes to Cabinet nominations, the Russian interference in US government, La Donald’s attacks on programs like Affordable Care and Medicaid and executive orders affecting immigrants, Bob Casey has stood tall. Senator Casey’s statements reflect some thought and insight — they are not party platitudes. They are honest assessments of the people and policies the Republican majority would like to install in government and implement across the country.

U.S. Senator Bob Casey must be re-elected in 2018.

Toppling Toomey

Pat Toomey is the poster child for what a bad politician looks and acts like. He refuses to hold face-to face meetings with his constituents but has plenty of time to meet with donors and political advisers.

In my search for issues to tackle, I went to a Tuesdays with Toomey rally in Philadelphia and was surrounded by about 400 people holding signs, clapping and shouting in response to a line up of good speakers and terrifying issues like demolishing the EPA, destroying ACA and unleashing ICE on people least able to defend themselves.

Toomey did not meet with this group; that’s no surprise – the Senator from Pennsylvania has not been seen by his constituents for days. He held a town meeting on the phone – pre-screened questions and scripted responses, most of which were actually insulting. I know because I attended Toomey’s virtual town meeting and blogged about what a joke this exercise really was.

His so-called statements on everything from the confirmations of Jeff Sessions and Betsey DeVos to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court are either rehashed versions of the official Republican statement or verbatim quotes from La Donald. If Toomey had a brain, he parked it at the front door of the Senate Chamber 6 weeks ago and hasn’t bothered to check to see if it’s still there.

 

Toomey has to go.

My Action Plan

As disappointed as I was with the DNC,I am becoming active in the local Democratic party. It has the established infrastructure and contacts to hit the ground running and help effect change.

I am going to start working to ensure redistricting is taken out of the hands of Harrisburg politicians, gerrymandering comes to an end, Senator Bob Casey gets re-elected and, Pat Toomey is ousted from the Senate…in priority order! If we don’t get our government back at a state level and rip out the Republican cartel, we will continue to lose elections and lose ground. PA is a swing state folks. This is important!

Mr. Trump, you are not going to divide us up by gender, by race, by who we love. Your bigotry is bringing us together in a progressive movement. We are not going to retreat on women’s rights, immigration rights, workers’ rights, health care rights, racial justice or climate change.

And guess what La Donald? If we work together, we shall overcome!

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Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation

Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation is the title of a book I just read, a book I felt compelled to read in light of the current situation in Washington, D.C.

Radical Hope is about the Crow Indian Tribe

Radical Hope may help.

Like many people, I am dumbfounded that our government could be taken over and co-opted so quickly and so thoroughly by people who do NOT, in any way or shape, represent what I believe in, what I love about this country, what I love about the people who live here.

I am also afraid — for myself in the short-term — but for my child, my grandchildren, my nieces and nephews — and what their lives will be like in a country where you only count if you are white, male and rich.

So, I found and read this small but powerful book. Written by Jonathan Lear, it is an exploration of how the Crow Indian tribe managed to survive in the face of total cultural collapse.

So, what does this slim volume have to say to me, to you, to any of us that could help us out in a country where Donald Trump is President?

Plenty.

Chief Plenty Coups vision saved his tribe

Chief Plenty Coups radical vision saved his tribe

The Crow were the only indigenous people who kept their land. They were the only tribe not defeated by the US Army. Their entire strategy for surviving a total and utter cultural collapse was driven by the vision of a 9-year-old child named Plenty Coups.

In his vision, the child who was to become one of the last great Chiefs of this Indian tribe, witnessed the loss of the buffalo, the end of the warrior as the center of the tribe’s life, and the destruction of hundreds of years of nomadic life.

Plenty Coups saw the Four Winds begin a war against the forest, witnessing the loss of all but one tree, the tree housing the lodge of the Chickadee.

The Man-person in Plenty Coups’ dream tells him that the Chickadee is least in strength but has the strongest mind of its kind. It listens. Nothing escapes its ears. The Chickadee never intrudes, never speaks in strange company but also, never misses a chance to learn from others – to gain success and avoid failure. Plenty Coups is to model himself on the Chickadee, to develop his body but not neglect his mind. “It is the mind that leads a man to power…”

From these two visions, the elders of the tribe recognized that the white man would take and hold the plains, their land, but if the Crow listened, as the Chickadee listened, the tribe might escape the fate of all other tribes, defeat, loss of life, loss of land.

The Crow joined forces with the white man, waged war against its own mortal enemies, the Sioux, the Blackfeet and the Cheyenne. This was a radical strategy but it was true to the vision. To survive when you are living your life at the very horizon of your understanding, when you can see no future, nothing of your way of life surviving, nothing of your culture as it has been known to you and your ancestors since the beginning of time, this was the only way.

Crow Indian Chief Plenty Coups

Chief Plenty Coups

What Plenty Coups did in the face of cultural destruction was to look to, “…future goodness that transcends the current ability to understand what it is.” Some might call it blind faith but it was anything but that. It was radical; it was hopeful. It was informed. It was courageous.

Our country, our culture, founded on inclusion, freedom of religion, free speech, is under attack. What can we hope, legitimately, when the very sense of purpose and meaning given to us by our culture is collapsing?

I turn to what I learned when I read Radical Hope.

Working together at Women's March in DC

Crescent Dragonwagon marching in DC

We must join together. We must work together even if, in the past, we were on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

We must convert our anger and angst into action as millions of people did in January of 2017 – marching in Washington, DC, across the United States and around the world to protest the Republican President’s campaign of hatred, bigotry and bullying.

We must have hope, like Plenty Coups, like the Crow, but it must be informed hope – not hope that permits self-deception, not hope that waits for someone else to step in and fix the devastation.

It must be hope that looks the monster square in the eye and does not back down or equivocate. It sees precisely what it is looking at but holds on to the hope that we can find a new path that works for all of us.

We must have courage. We cannot avert our gaze from the reality standing right in front of us – the wholesale destruction of our Constitution, our laws and our country.

We cannot balk at the risk of speaking out or of acting. We must collaborate. We must fight back. But we must start by listening to the enemy, observing how he works, what he does, learning his methods, not to employ them but to turn them to our uses.

Adapting his tactics, countering his moves. we take the high road. Make phone calls to your Senators and Congressmen. Demand that they be accountable for both actions taken and failure to take action. Standing by while our country is torn apart is just as unacceptable as supporting policies that ban a particular religious group or attack people because of their ethnicity, beliefs or gender.

Become an activist. Join a local group that is fighting for our freedom. Wage a battle against the divisive, misogynistic and hate-filled world that the current crop of politicians — people who are supposed to represent us but surely and certainly do not — is creating.

We must have radical hope. We must work together, ethically, raise up a new culture from the bones of the one being destroyed by the Republican party and its monied interests.

NOTE:

The photos of Chief Plenty Coups reproduced with permission from Little Big Horn College, a 1994 Land Grant Institution, is the Crow higher education and cultural center.

The photo of writer and author Crescent Dragonwagon in DC is courtesy of Dida Gazoli and is reproduced with the permission of both women.

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TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY-Let’s Start The Revolution

Where are all of you?

Where are the baby boomers who took this country by storm in the 60’s and 70’s – the activists who said no to war, no to discrimination, no to inequality?

We forced passage of the Civil Rights Amendment. We demanded equality for women and forced Congress to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). We helped stop the Vietnam War and brought our young men home.

This is OUR COUNTRY. OUR GOVERNMENT WORKS FOR US.

Now is the time to stand up again, to stop the wholesale destruction of the very laws and institutions that have made it possible for everyone to have a fair chance at a decent life.

Social Security – a program we have paid our hard-earned money into for more than 50 years, is under attack. Affordable health care for ALL citizens is being dismantled. Medicare and Medicaid are on the chopping block.

Funding for the arts, education, and the environment have been cut. The EPA, the National Park Service, and the USDA have officially been gagged – ordered not to communicate at all with the public either via social media or the press.

Step up to the plate, folks. This time, we aren’t fighting for ourselves; we are fighting for our sons and our daughters and our grandchildren.

The current disregard for the law, for the Constitution, for our rights as citizens of the United States signals the beginning of the end of America as we know it…unless we begin to fight back.

Do something as simple as joining the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which has already filed suit against Donald Trump for his failure to disclose his finances and tax returns – a clear conflict of interest and a violation of Constitutional law.

Call your SenatorsCall your Representatives. Choose your battle – whether it’s education, the environment, equal rights under the law, Social Security, affordable health care. Have 1 or 2 points you want to make and make them. If you need scripts to help you get started, check out sites like Indivisible Austin.

Then call again, tomorrow and the next day and next week.

Fight back! Take just one step every week.

Let an activity like the women’s march on Washington be more than a moment; let it become a movement, to quote Cory Booker.

Don’t give in to your fear and frustration, to the sense of being overwhelmed. That’s how they will win. And we cannot let them win, not for our sake but for the sake of the generations following us.

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10 Ideas for Living a Good Life in Bad Times

Face it. We live in a very uncomfortable time with some very uncomfortable realities.

Donald Trump is actually a viable candidate for President. The alternative, Hillary Clinton, is no better than La Donald, just a different shape and different background. On November 8th, 2016, the American public gets to choose between a male bully with megalomania and  no morals or a female cobra with ever-changing ethics and situational morals.

Can you say Hobson’s choice?

Whoever wins this election, these United States are in for a rough ride, facing international sanctions and national crises — all of our own making and all born of greed and the overweening desire for power and control.

I can’t change any of this. All I can do is live my small life. You can’t change any of this either. So, this morning, I offer a way for you and I and anyone else who is tired of the trash talk, afraid of the looming future and worried about their loved ones, some insights from  one of my very favorite intellectuals, writers, and muses.

Maria Popova offers 10 core values which, she has gleaned over the 10 years of writing her amazing blog – Brain Pickings

My Sunday mornings are spent with a cup of coffee and her newsletter – my break, my solitude, my weekly dose of philosophy, culture, insight, learning and being.

I offer Popova as an antidote to the idiocy we see all around us. I offer her as peace in a world fraught with panic. I hope she brings you the same joy that she brings me.

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Non-Violent Protests Work

The next time you are feeling helpless in the face of crooked elections and even more crooked politicians, think about employing some non-violent actions to start making the change you want.

The next time you are angry at mega corporations like Monsanto for polluting the food chain and our drinking water, but don’t think you can make a difference, think about boycotting the business.

Those are just 2 of the ways you can make a difference. One of the TED Talk presenters in this week’s newsletter offers 196 other ways to force change where it’s needed.

Those of you who know me, know I love TED Talks for all kinds of reasons. Here’s another one I love. Jamila Raqib , Executive Director of the Albert Einstein Institution, focuses on how non-violent protests have worked, around the world, and how they might just work for you….for us.

Raqib calls this movement a type of non-violent arms race.  She shares a document created by her mentor, Gene Sharp, that lists 198 methods of non-violent protest. Raqib also points out that a unified strategy helps boycotts to win the fight.

My biggest concern this Father’s Day morning is how to stop big money and big power from stealing the election out of the hands of the very people who really are supposed to be the ones who elect people to office.

Donald Trump may just implode on his own or be helped out the door by his fellow Republicans. It’s unlikely that Hillary Clinton and her mega-donors will as she represents many of the largest donors of political history.

Also, Clinton wants to win at any cost and has proven that by using bully tactics and what, in any other context would be considered bribery, to keep trying to silence those of us who support Bernie Sanders.

Unless we, the people, unite and engage in a unified, strategic and non-violent fight, we will watch Bernie Sanders, his ideals, his ethics and his desire to help his country be washed away in a tidal wave of political maneuvering and back room brokering.

Here’s hoping that Bernie Sander’s team is planning some non-violent protests at the nominating convention in Philadelphia. Let’s join in and make a difference.

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Amazing Thinking & Amazing Insights from BrainPickings

My Osteopath introduced me to Brain Pickings.

It’s hard to put this eclectic, philosophical, introspective and intriguing site into words but founder, collator, researcher, writer and bottle washer, Maria Popova offers this description:

“Brain Pickings is my one-woman labor of love — a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why. Mostly, it’s a record of my own becoming as a person — intellectually, creatively, spiritually — and an inquiry into how to live and what it means to lead a good life.”

Every week, when I click through a link in Popova’s newsletter, I feel like I imagine Alice felt when she fell down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland. But this Wonderland is more of a literary and intellectual salon — a place of good food, good wine, good conversation and always, good insights.

In one of these rabbit holes, I discovered why I did what I did for a living despite the fact that it was mind numbing and simultaneously self important.  I worked in corporations. I know how much there is to do, how good it feels to cross off items on your list of work.

I could never articulate just how intellectually and spiritually deadening my work environment was.  Then Popova shared a passage written almost 70 years ago by writer Willa Cather who was writing in response to her long time companion, Sarah Jewitt:

My Dear, Dear Miss Jewett;

Such a kind and earnest and friendly letter as you sent me! I have read it over many times. I have been in deep perplexity these last few years, and troubles that concern only one’s habits of mind are such personal things that they are hard to talk about. You see I was not made to have to do with affairs — what Mr. McClure calls “men and measures.”

If I get on at that kind of work it is by going at it with the sort of energy most people have to exert only on rare occasions. Consequently I live just about as much during the day as a trapeze performer does when he is on the bars — it’s catch the right bar at the right minute, or into the net you go. I feel all the time so dispossessed and bereft of myself.

My mind is off doing trapeze work all day long and only comes back to me when it is dog tired and wants to creep into my body and sleep. I really do stand and look at it sometimes and threaten not to take it in at all — I get to hating it so for not being any more good to me. Then reading so much poorly written matter as I have to read has a kind of deadening effect on me somehow.

I know that many great and wise people have been able to do that, but I am neither large enough nor wise enough to do it without getting a kind of dread of everything that is made out of words. I feel diluted and weakened by it all the time — relaxed, as if I had lived in a tepid bath until I shrink from either heat or cold.

Popova finishes these observations with this very salient quote from Parker Palmer, “… “the tighter we cling to the norm of effectiveness the smaller the tasks we’ll take on.”

That was my life; don’t let it be yours.

 

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