The End?

There was a brief, shining moment:

In the beginning, the President (a Republican) sought to preserve public lands and break up monopolies which were oppressing the people. During this time, citizens, acting through their townships and states, established and spread free public education for all American children.

Another President (a Democrat) sought to secure the basic welfare of the people with Social Security.

Another President and Congress welcomed our GIs home from a war that saved the world from fascism by giving them help to attend college, buy homes, and healthcare for life.

Another President (a Republican) enforced desegregation of our schools and connected our country with a great interstate highway system.

Another President (a Democrat) guaranteed healthcare for the elderly and extended health care to the poor while also enforcing voting rights and nondiscrimination in the commercial sphere.

Another President (a Republican) signed laws to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Another President (Republican) signed a law to bring the disabled into fuller participation in our society.

All of that took place over about 90 years.

More recently, for a briefer moment (not 17 years, but 8), another President (a Democrat) extended health care to millions, starting with children and then even more recently to adults.

But to some of our citizens, all of these are simply “costs” not moral imperatives. The power of this minority of citizens has grown while the indifference of the majority has swelled. It’s not clear to me that the majority can be rallied to continue the greatness of 20th Century America. The crass minority has been very good at providing circuses while getting slowly more miserly with the bread they provide. The majority needs to rally or one day they will wake up to find barely enough to live, and many of them will find death.

America is at a crossroads, do we go back to paying for public goods because this is the moral thing to do. Or, do we follow a false slogan? #MAGA is a lie.

Inspired by: The End of the American Experiment

March On

The Women’s March(es) last Saturday were fabulous. Over three million Americans marched in opposition to Donald Trump, and millions more around the world. What are those people doing today?

The Women’s March should not become the new Occupy Wall Street. Instead, it must grow if we are to rescue ourselves from Trumpism. Peaceful revolutions take time, but they are more likely to be successful than violent ones. (Engler and Engler, This Is an Uprising.) To be successful, however, we must recruit many more to join us. Three million marchers (some say it was four) is an impressive number; however, we need 11 million activists to achieve a successful uprising, according to Engler and Engler’s historical research. (3.5% of a nation’s population.) That’s what it took in India and Serbia. Don’t be discouraged by this. Be challenged. If each Marcher enlists just four more people, we’re there.

And, we Marchers must be patient. The first wave of feminists fought for more than 70 years before they won the right to vote; their original standard-bearers — Anthony and Stanton — were dead. African-Americans fought for generations to achieve what they have. And both groups are still fighting to obtain true equality. LGBT citizens fought for decades for the right to marry, but they still don’t have the right to work in most places. We must be patient, but we must act.

So, do you think the first of the March Sponsors’ “Ten Actions for the First 100 Days” — sending postcards — is enough? I certainly don’t. The March webpage devotes many beautiful graphics to urge March participants to buy postcards from iTunes for this first “action.” They will tell us about the second action in 10 more days.

The group “Indivisible” seems to off to a more aggressive start. Tuesday, January 24, is deemed a National Day of Action where Indivisible and MoveOn followers are urged to visit their senators’ offices and demand that Trump’s cabinet appointees be rejected. Indivisible also has three actions listed for the week — all involving keeping the pressure on Congress with phone calls and emails.

Phone calls, emails, and even postcards and tweets are important — note how the destruction of the Ethics Office was called off under pressure and how the confirmation hearings for Sessions and DeVos have been postponed. But these actions do very little toward recruiting more activists to join and work for the cause. People may notice a demonstration and decide to join, but the very best way to recruit more people to our cause is to ask them, directly, in person.

I know that’s hard and that’s scary, but you do want to be effective, don’t you? You can start by talking with your friends and neighbors. Don’t assume everyone is as attuned to the blitzkrieg of horrors that are issuing daily from the Trump Administration. The first step to fighting tyranny is disseminating correct information. Friends don’t let friends succumb to lies. We’ve let too much of that go by in the last campaign.

The next step is getting your recruit to act, to join in the emailing and postcard sending and marching. And, most importantly, voting. Until we turn out the Republicans who control Congress, the White House, and most of our State Houses and Governorships, the country is under threat.

Did you know that it takes three-quarters of the State Legislatures to amend the U.S. Constitution and the Republicans are just one state shy of that number? Imagine an amendment removing The Right to Free Speech from the First Amendment and limiting Freedom of Religion to State-Approved Churches? Does that sound extreme? Did you think it would be too extreme for an Administration to order the EPA and the USDA to stop issuing public health warnings? That happened on Day 1 of the Trump Presidency, we discovered it on Day 4.

The Election of 2018 can’t come soon enough, but we must be ready for it. The Republicans control the U.S. House of Representatives today because of work they did in 2009 in reaction to the election of Barak Obama. If we want to control the House of Representatives in two years and the Presidency four years from now, we must do the work beginning now. We must not only register voters, we must convince them to vote. Trump won with only about 25% of the eligible voters. Most people didn’t vote against Clinton, they just didn’t vote. If we let that happen in 2018, much less 2020, our country as we’ve known it will be gone. I really believe this is not hyperbole.

Did you hear Michael Moore’s speech at the Women’s March on Washington? He said everyone can run for office, “Shy people, there is an office for you. Precinct delegate. Run for precinct delegate.”  In Arizona, the “delegate” is called “committeeperson.” We have a lot of open slots for precinct committee persons in Coconino County. We’re training new committee persons now. March on over and join us. It may seem like a long way to 2018, but compared to the 70 years the first wave of feminists waited for the 19th Amendment, it’s no time at all.

 

womens-march-oliver-contreras-photo
Oliver Contreras/WaPo

 

 

Blitzkrieg

The Republican-controlled Congress, in conjunction with Mike Pence and Donald Trump, plan to execute Blitzkrieg next week. Blitzkrieg means “lightning war,” a term from German military tactics in World War II. The object was to disorient and disorganize the enemy with overpowering multiple and simultaneous attacks. The Republicans are about to execute Blitzkrieg politics.  To help sports fans understand, the Washington Post has described the plan as the “no-huddle offense.”

As a prelude to the Blitzkrieg coming next week, this week we have a mini-Blitzkrieg going on:

  • Revival of the “Holman Rule,” which allows Congress and the President to reduce the pay of any federal worker to $1.00. Thus, if any federal employee attempts to abide by a law that Trump disagrees with, his pay gets slashed. (Perhaps we now understand the Transition Team’s request for specific names of employees involved in enforcing certain policies.)
  • Congress made it easier to sell off federal lands, a boon to anti-environmentalists.
  • These were part of a package of Standing Rules for the upcoming Congress that can’t be changed for the next two years. Initially, they included eliminating the independent House Ethics panel — and that drew all the fire and press attention so other ugly things slipped through.
  • Trump’s battle with Lindsey Graham and John McCain over credibility of the U.S. Intelligence Service. In what world does a President-Elect side with Julian Assange over the combined opinion of the Defense Intelligence Agency, CIA, and FBI? In Trump World, that’s where. “Every American should be alarmed by Russia’s attacks on our nation. There is no national security interest more vital to the United States of America than the ability to hold free and fair elections without foreign interference,” McCain said in his opening statement at Thursday’s hearing.
  • Speaker Ryan announced the Republicans will defund Planned Parenthood as part of the budget process they are using to dismantle Obamacare.
mcconnell-tillerson
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Secretary of State Nominee Rex Tillerson

Next week will be this week on steroids, as the Washington Post laid out in Thursday’s “202” column. Wednesday will be Blitzkrieg Day:

  • Trump gives his first press conference since last summer. This is distraction, period.
  • Mitch McConnell has scheduled a “vote-a-rama” on budget bills, including bills related to the repeal of Obamacare (it’s a complicated law, they can’t repeal it in one vote).
  • The Senate Hearing to confirm Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (racist, homophobe, misogynist, liar) is set to start. Here’s a handy, more diplomatic summary of his history: https://www.aclu.org/report/report-confirmation-sessions  This is the guy who said in November that he wouldn’t characterize grabbing women “by the pussy” as sexual assault; “I think that’s a stretch,” he said.
  • The same day, Secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, with his ties to Vladimir Putin and long tenure as CEO of ExxonMobil, will appear before the Foreign Relations Committee to begin his hearing for confirmation as Secretary of State.
  • Trump’s nominee for CIA director, Mike Pompeo, appears before the Senate Intelligence Committee to begin the confirmation process. How much media scrutiny can this confirmation hearing get, with important questions about slashing CIA staff numbers and, perhaps, reducing the pay of analysts who criticize Putin (see Holmes Rule, above) on the table?
  • The Senate Education Committee will kick off hearings on the confirmation of Elizabeth DeVos, even though she hasn’t yet returned the committee’s written questionnaire or submitted financial disclosures — usually grounds for delaying a confirmation hearing.
  • John Kelly’s confirmation hearing to run the Department of Homeland Security, which will have jurisdiction over Trump’s proposed deportation force and crackdown on illegal immigration, begins before the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee.
  • Wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Elaine Chao, will appear before the Senate Transportation Committee to begin her hearing as Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Transportation.

In the face of all this activity in one day, it’s hard to imagine that Sessions, Tillerson, and DeVos will get the scrutiny the country deserves based upon their shabby (should I say despicable?) records. Much less will Senators have the opportunity to pin down Pompeo’s plans for disarming the CIA in the face of Putin’s threat. Or John Kelly’s plans for building walls and private prisons.

It’s likely that the process of dismantling Obamacare will begin unnoticed. Once people start getting notices that their insurance is canceled or premiums skyrocket, Trump, Ryan, and McConnell will have free-rein to blame the Democrats for creating the system in the first place.

The night before the Blitzkrieg begins, President Obama will deliver his Farewell Address to the Nation at McCormick Place in Chicago. We can hope he’ll have something useful to say. Perhaps something along the lines of Ike’s warning against the coming “military-industrial complex,” though that hasn’t done us much good. Perhaps he will issue a call to arms that will inspire protests on Blitzkrieg Day.  I’m not betting on it. The danger of Obama’s timing is that news coverage of his address will further clog the airwaves and headlines the next morning, distracting the nation from the takeover that is going on.

What can we do? Remain vigilant, remain focused. Read and quote credible news sources rather than inflammatory, discreditable ones. Organize, protest. Demand that your Senators and Congresspeople represent YOU, not the oligarchs. Note that this week that when Congress was flooded with calls and emails about their action to get rid of the House Ethics Office, they reversed course.

Now would be a good time to start composing your phone and email messages to be part of the flood that, I hope, will overwhelm Mitch McConnell’s Leader Office and Kentucky home state offices next Wednesday, Blitzkrieg Day.

In World War II, Blitzkrieg caused shock and disorganization among the Germans’ enemies, enabling the Germans to defeat the opposing forces with minimal resources. Let’s not become shocked or disorganized.

 

Surviving Trump. Defeating Trumpism.

“When the levers of power are seized by the small hands of hateful men, you work hard, you stand with those who are most vulnerable, and you don’t give up until it’s morning again. The rest is commentary.” — Liel Leibovitz, Tablet Magazine

Donald Trump will be our next President. Let’s not give him a chance. Because we already know he’s up to no good. If I’ve lost you already, that’s fine because you are of little use to the future of America right now.  Perhaps you’ll save this for future reference.

What we face is not normal. (Here’s a handy list of the radical, abnormal things DT had already done by November 15 if you need convincing. The list grows exponentially  every day.) The most dangerous aspect of the dangerous abnormality is the plunge into no agreed-on version of reality. Perhaps naively, I am grasping at this familiar thought from Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

Most living Americans have never lived in extraordinary times. The elderly may remember the gathering storms in Europe before World War II and the internment camps in this country when war was declared. The somewhat less elderly will remember the turmoil of the civil rights era and the Vietnam War, but there were checks and balances in place, effective court systems and a free press with credibility. How long we will have such checks and balances now is seriously in doubt. The decay of these institutions which protect us will not happen overnight, but they will slip away quickly enough if we normalize the transfer of power that is currently underway. I speak not of armed rebellion, but of the full exercise of Free Speech and Due Process.

Rather than sit in despair and let the United States of America turn into an authoritarian oligarchy, I think it’s useful to do two things:

First, REMEMBER that Trump is a Minority President. He’s a Loser — he lost the popular vote by over 2.8 million votes (larger than the winning margins of ten Presidents who served). It’s only the unfortunate distribution of 80,000 votes across three states that place him in the White House. Perhaps he had an illegal assist from the Russians. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives, the People’s House, while still in Republican hands thanks to corrupt gerrymandering, gained more Democrats. Trump does NOT have a mandate from the American people. The Trump transition team and its affiliated media are touting a mandate they do not have. Remembering the facts is important. The mind is a pliable thing, and repetition of lies will make the best of us forget.

Second, RESIST. Let’s not go quietly into darkness. Let’s not give up the progress made in the 20th Century and over the last eight years. Because that is what is at stake; don’t doubt it. We’re talking not only about losing Obamacare and gay marriage (although losing those will be wildly important). At stake are Medicare (enacted 1965), Social Security (enacted 1935), the rights to equal access to housing, to employment, to lunch counters and other public accommodations (enacted 1964), food stamps, WIC, Head Start, school lunches, and the national minimum wage. Respect for women as equal human beings is at stake, and with it, access to contraception, much less to abortion. Our institution of Free Press is at stake. Climate change deserves its own blog post but just a note in passing: I remember the rivers and lakes and the air before the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts — they were not pretty.

“Rising diversity isn’t going away. Income inequality isn’t going away. Support for redistribution isn’t going away.” Those cats are out of the bag and no chanting of “Make America Great Again” is going to put them back. The only issue is how we choose to manage them. Trump’s version of management will be authoritarian with a PR overcoat that could effectively disguise the corruption and profiteering at the core of his plan. He can’t make America white again, but he can appeal to white supremacists as cover for his profiteering. He can tweet bizarre ideas about flag-burning to distract from his plan to transfer public administration of social security and Medicare to Wall Street profiteers. He has and he will keep doing these things. Our job is to resist; to call him out; to expose the truth.

We should analyze what went wrong in the Democrats’ election strategy. More importantly, we should look for examples of what went right, as in Governor-Elect McCrory’s victory in North Carolina. But these are relatively long-term projects. We have an urgent need for leadership and strategies to resist as the Trump Administration takes over our government. This is my attempt to provide a stab at leadership and offer a few tactics and resources.

Michelle Obama admonished us, “When they go low, we go high.” Indeed, but working with Trump or failing to refute his propaganda is not “going high.” There are two fine pieces already written about this, so I won’t elaborate here. See Robin Alperstein, Resistance Is Not Futile; Jamelle Bouie, The Democrats Are Screwing Up the Resistance to Donald Trump. Some brave members of Congress, including our own Arizona Representative, Congressman Ruben Gallego, have stood up to Trump. We must, too.

As James Fallows recently explicated in The Atlantic, society is suffering from both a chronic and an acute version of a public information crisis. The chronic version, which has been building for nearly thirty years, has given rise to “separate fact-universes” into which “segments of society silo themselves.” We need a long-term strategy for dealing with this.  But we will not have the freedom to implement a long-term strategy if we do not deal with the acute version of the public information crisis.

The acute version is personified by our President-Elect and his trumpeters: Steve Bannon, Mike Flynn, and Kellyanne Conway. As Fallows writes, “Most people would hesitate before telling easily disprovable lies like these, much as shoplifters would hesitate if the store owner is looking at them. Most people are fazed if caught in an outright lie.” Trump and his crew are not fazed. As one rather benign example, Fallows reminds us that on a single day during the campaign, “Trump claimed that the National Football League had sent him a letter complaining that the presidential-debate schedule conflicted with NFL games (which the NFL immediately denied), and then he said the Koch brothers had begged him to accept their donations (which they also flat-out denied).” (Of course, the Koch Brothers themselves are not above lying so who knows about that one.) As Fallows points out, our news media, until now, has not been built to deal with something like this. We’ve seen some examples of adjustments, but they are minor. The New York Times, apparently, cannot bring itself to use the word “lie” or “liar” in the same headline with reference to the President-Elect. It should, and it must.

What can we, mere citizens, do? Many suggestions for resistance have been made. I’ll put a list of citations at the end of this article. Here are some thoughts for immediate action:

  • Don’t let a lie go unchallenged. You don’t have to be mean about it, but when someone states an untruth about Trump or one of his minions, correct them. If you’re accused of attacking them or Trump, simply say, “I was just pointing out a fact,” and move on.
  • We have an obligation to be active on social media. “Trump is a social media politician. It is the heart and soul of how he campaigned, how he floats his racist and tyrannical ideas, and how he communicates with his constituents.” Meet the enemy where he and his audience are.
  • Write letters to your local paper, too. Some people still read it.
  • Trump is going to be on a continuous campaign for the next four years. His rallies may not be as large as they were during the campaign, but they will garner the same high-level of media coverage. If there is a rally in your town, turn-out and protest. Put yourself in front of the cameras with a sign that says “#Resistance, #NotNormal,” or something else of your own
  • Object to every crazy cabinet appointment Trump is making. Write and call (both) your Senators. They keep count of the calls and letters and pay more attention to those communications than they do to online petition numbers (but I sign those, too). Send notes to the Democratic Leadership as well. Bookmark this site: http://whoismyrepresentative.com/
  • Demand that Congress investigate Russian interference in our election as much as they investigated Benghazi.
  • Make monthly, recurring donations to the ACLU or one of the other fine resistance organizations named in this article.
  • Get paid subscriptions to credible news sources like the Washington Post, New York Times, The Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, and your local and statewide papers. They need your support; buy subscriptions — as many as you can afford.
  • Attend the Day to Defend Democracy, December 19 demonstration in your state capital.
  • Attend the Women’s March on Washington on January 21. If you can’t go to D.C., satellite demonstrations are being organized around the country, including in my hometown of Flagstaff, AZ.
  • Organize or join a supportive group of friends (old or new) who want to be part of the Resistance. The purpose is to organize and support each other. What happens will develop.
  • Encourage and harass Democrats to oppose Trump at every turn. The Trump Administration is #NotNormal; therefore, cooperating with it is a bad thing to do. This is not sour grapes, it’s protecting our country.
  • Support Senator Gillibrand’s call to filibuster the repeal of the law blocking retired military from being Secretaries of Defense until they have been out of the military for seven years. We need to block this move, or try with everything we’ve got to block it, not only because separating the military from civilian government is a bedrock of our democracy, but also because it is one of the first moves of the Trump Administration to yank us away from normal government.
  • Don’t give up on the two-party system. This institution is nearly as old as the Republic and while parties have risen and fallen and morphed, their power works when the people are involved. Trump didn’t win because of Citizen’s United; he won because the people did not vote in sufficient numbers to defeat him in three Midwestern states.
  • Connect with your fellow citizens, and protect them. If you see someone being harassed, call the police but also take the hand of the victim and speak to him or her. Ignore the attacker. In the ten days following the election, there were almost 900 reports of harassment and intimidation from across the nation. Many harassers invoked Trump’s name during assaults, making it clear that the outbreak of hate stemmed in large part from his electoral success. This is an outrage; we must stop it. Thank Delta Airlines for joining this fight.

Look for more action items. Resolve to take an action every day: Make a phone call, click a link, register a voter, talk with a stranger, march in a protest, write a letter.  Our goal is to blockade as much of the Trump agenda as possible, to protect our fellow citizens, and to win elections in 2018 and 2020. In sum, the goal is to preserve our Republic.

Resources and Reading:

Host a community action meeting

Ten Ways to Fight Hate

Five Ways To Be A Silent Trump Protestor

Notes from the Resistance: A Column on Language and Power

The 14 Characteristics of Fascism

What Justice Scalia said about flag-burning (Trump should watch this)

Masha Gessen, Autocracy: Rules of Survival

What We Do Now: How to Preserve the Ideals of Liberal Democracy in the Face of  a Trump PresidencySlate

James Fallows, How to Deal with the Lies of Donald Trump: Guidelines for the Media

Wall-Of-Us — Weekly Acts of Resistance delivered to your email

The Danger of Deconsolidation – Journal of Democracy

Barbara Kingsolver, Trump Changed Everything. Now Everything Counts

Frank Bruni, Paul Ryan’s Dangerous Silence on Donald Trump

Roger Cohen, The Rage of 2016

New Pro-Trump Group Takes Form  — Washington Post

Joshua Foust, Don’t Ignore Twitter and Why Outrage Is So Important

Jennifer Finney Boylan, Really, You’re Blaming Transgender People for Trump?

Robin Alperstein, Resistance Is Not Futile

Patrick Thornton, I’m a Coastal Elite from the Midwest: The Real Bubble Is Rural America

Heather C. McGhee, I’m Prejudiced, he said. Then We Kept Talking.

Welcome to Donald Trump’s Post-Fact AmericaRolling Stone

Charles M. Blow, Agents of Idiocracy

Michael Arnovitz, Faking a Mandate

An Alt-Right Makeover Shrouds the SwastikasNY Times

Donald Trump Lost Most of the American Economy in This Election Washington Post

The Increasingly Diverse United States of America Washington Post

Gersh Kuntzman, We Liberals Need to Win, Not Whine

Andy Borowitz, Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans (sarcasm)

Donald Trump’s Plan to Purge the NationNY Times Editorial Board

Protecting Reproductive Rights Under Donald TrumpNY Times Editorial Board

Jonathan Chait, Collaborating with Donald Trump Is Doomed To Fail

Luigi Zingales, The Right Way to  Resist Trump

Arizona Democrat: ‘We have a duty to treat Trump like the threat he is’ (That’s a summary, the full CSpan video is worth a watch.)

Praise for Reince Priebus is another sign of how we’re lowering the bar for Trump  — Vox

Harold Pollack, There’s No Silver Lining to Trump’s Win: Cheer up Progressives, and let’s get to work.

Paul Krugman, Trump Slump Coming? — Be prepared that good things will happen to bad people, at least for a while.

Tegu Cole, A Time for Refusal

Kurt Eichenwald, The Myths Democrats Swallowed That Cost Them the Election

Dan Rather, Forget Talking About The Trump Administration

Paul Krugman, The Tainted Election

We’re About to See States’ Rights Used Defensively Against Trump — Vox

A Savvy News Consumer’s Guide: How Not To Get Duped

Battle for Modernity

HourglassRecently, Linda Greenhouse wrote commentary about two pending Supreme Court cases: Sex After 50 in the Supreme Court, November 26, 2015. Along the way, she paid homage to Justice Stevens’ 1989 statement, “Our jurisprudence, however, has consistently required a secular basis for valid legislation.” Her conclusion:

Yes, there is a fight over birth control that has never really ended, and a battle over abortion that erupts anew in every election cycle. But what the Supreme Court may or may not grasp is that it has on its hands something deeper yet: a struggle over modernity, a battle for the secular state in which women can make their choices and design what Justice Ginsburg calls their life course, free of obstacles erected by those who would impose their religious views on others and who find in recent Supreme Court decisions encouragement that this time they might get their way.

It is indeed amazing that 50 years after Griswald vs. Connecticut established that American citizens may have access to birth control and forty-two years after Roe v. Wade, the State of Texas has forced its women back to self-induced abortions and secular employers are allowed to deny insurance coverage for birth control prescriptions. Both of these are “theologically based” and, thus wrongfully law.

This struggle for modernity is political, not simply legal. One of our major political parties has been captured by religious political extremists who are fighting to impose their will on their fellow citizens. A politician of that party saw this coming decades ago when he said in a speech on the U.S. Senate floor:

I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?
And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of “conservatism.”

— Barry Goldwater, September 16, 1981

But the Republican party gave in. Apparently in its greed to hold power, the Republican Party does allow the “preachers” to dictate its votes in Congress, in the State legislatures, and in the selection of judges. The power it has gained is inherently limited by the depth of the religious base. Unless extreme measures are taken, that religious base will wither with age and the repulsion of the majority. But extreme measures have been taken in the gerrymandering of our legislative and Congressional Districts. At least one of their leading candidates seems to advocate a police state with special IDs for suspects. It seems unlikely that the most extreme measures will come about, but in the early-1990s, who would have thought we would see states which are in control of these extremists closing abortion clinics and owners of secular enterprises allowed to impose their religious beliefs on their employees (Hobby Lobby). We must be active and not passive in the face of the “preachers” push.

I find it sadly ironic that a political party that was born of the progressive notion that the U.S. Constitution should not protect slavery has been captured by such oppressors. The emergence of the Republican Party elected Lincoln and led to the enactment of three major Amendments to the U.S. Constitution that have evolved to guarantee freedom and equality for many. Yet, somehow, one hundred years later, the party was captured by opponents of this arc of history.

Reagan did not overtly preach most of the time, but he caved to the preachers in all of his judicial appointments after Sandra Day O’Conner. We are just now beginning to see the restoration of a secular judiciary.  Control of the judges at all levels of the federal system and control of state governments must be the battle cry of Democrats in the next election. It’s easy to win a Presidential race in the current climate; convincing voters to care about the down-ballot races is harder.

Political discussion these days often uses the words “progressive” vs. “conservative.” I think it more appropriate to call the sides “Modernists” vs. “Regressives.” The Modernists seek to preserve society’s progress and make further advances for the general welfare. The Regressives are simply twisted: They have a vision of an ideal past that never was and wish to return to it – an impossibility. A return to the past is a return to oppression not freedom.

I’m an optimist and believe that the struggle for modernity will ultimately prevail. But the road is tragically long with too many victims.

On Mistakes — and one in particular

April 1865  book coverThe historian, Jay Winik, in his book April 1865 argues that the manner in which Grant and Lincoln allowed Lee to surrender “saved America” — at least from several years of guerrilla warfare.

Unfortunately, by giving the Confederate States the illusion that their cause was honorable — when it was, in fact, traitorous and immoral, the way the war ended has led to 150-plus years of murder and hate. Yes, it’s easy to look back at the leaders in history and say they shouldn’t have done what they did. That their short-term vision cost us too much.

But, let’s not just blame them. Let’s now take the hard step and call the Confederate cause what it truly was: A traitorous rebellion against the United States of America, which was fought to preserve an immoral institution. There is no honor there. That must be repeated over and over for a few decades — at least a generation. Just as Hitler’s flag and the cause of Nazism were degraded after the 2d World War, so must the Confederate cause and flag be dishonored — even at this late date.

The leaders in 1865 may have made a mistake. We don’t need to keep perpetuating it.

Read: WHAT THIS CRUEL WAR WAS OVER — THE ATLANTIC.

Memorial to Decoration Day

Roses in CemeteryWhen I was young, Memorial Day was quite different. This was after the days when everyone walked 10 miles to school no matter what the weather, but we were still in the era of black and white TV where the test pattern came on after the 10 o’clock news. Though I now live in Flagstaff, Arizona, my recollections are from Iowa, where I grew up. Somehow, I think the way things were observed in Iowa were not much different from in Flagstaff in the 1950s.

One way in which Memorial Day was different is that every adult called it Decoration Day.  Another difference is that it was not always on Monday as part of a three day weekend. It was on May 30, no matter what day of the week that happened to be. (The change to the last Monday in May happened in 1969.)  May 30 came at a convenient time of year to take a day off in Iowa since the crops were in (meaning corn and soybeans were planted) and it was usually before the first round of hay baling (farmers tried to get three in each summer/fall in order to keep the cattle in hay during the winter).

So, everyone dressed up as though it were Sunday and got in the car and visited cemeteries. Sometimes, someone would go out to a nearby cemetery the Sunday before the actual holiday so the graves would be decorated before anyone arrived on Memorial Day – there was often a little competition about the most elaborate decoration.

In our family, Decoration Day had little to do with military honors. It was a day to remember the grandparents and others who had died by decorating their graves. By the time we finished the circuit of graveyards (first picking up an aunt and uncle or two to ride along), we may have put over 200 miles on the car at an average of 40 miles per hour on the narrow two-lane roads. We started early and got home long after dark.

Along the way, we looked forward to each cemetery to come because it meant getting out of the hot (no auto air-conditioning then!) car to run around under the shade of the big old trees surrounding the graves. We also learned a lot about our families. All the grandfathers had come directly from Germany to Iowa to claim and farm new land, and to avoid the Kaiser’s military draft. One of them had been born in New York harbor and was thus a U.S. citizen though no one else in his family was. The origin of the grandmothers was a bit less clear, but at least one of them was German since that’s the language she spoke at home. There were also a few of their children buried nearby – still-born babies and victims of life on the plains without the miracle of antibiotics. That sort of thing was much more common in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, and the evidence and history lesson was evident on the ground around us on those Memorial Days.

I was off to college by the time Congress changed Memorial Day to just one of those Uniform Holidays conveniently always located on a Monday to make a nice three-day weekend. Somehow, I think we’ve lost something important to gain these mini-vacations.

©Ann Heitland 2007, then published in the Arizona Daily Sun as Coconino Voices and on Active Rain.