Is Trump More Predictable than we Think?

Among many of the things I've lamented over the last few months is how unpredictable life has become.  There's no five-year planning in my future--shoot, there's not even any six-month planning when it feels like nuclear war or a race war are staring me down.  Trump and the chaotic world he has created is just so unpredictable it's thrown me into a day-to-day existence as if the future doesn't exist.  

While there are some good things about this mentality--why diet?  You could be dead tomorrow.  Eat that cupcake today--overall, I have found that it increases my anxiety and my stress levels are already through the roof.  

But Jared Yates Sexton postulates in this article that Trump is far more predictable than we give him credit and the bottom line is:  he's insecure.  So what will the most insecure person you've ever encountered do next?  

If you think like that, it may be a lot easier to predict what Trump's next plan may be and begin to understand why so many people voted for him.  

Then maybe we can get to work at solving the real issues facing our future.  

Free at Last . . .

My heart is heavy today with the weight of what occurred in Charlottesville yesterday and with the knowledge that this act of hate is not an isolated event—not today and not over the long span of history.  At moments, this knowledge has felt like something I can no longer carry, much less fight against. 

And yet fight we must.  Today we grieve for those killed and injured in Charlottesville and around the world who battle injustice in its many forms. 

And tomorrow we take back up the banner and reaffirm our solidarity with our brothers and sisters—all those who are dispossessed, hungry, and poor.  We reaffirm our unity with all peoples—no matter their color, gender, or religion.  I do not care if they have papers or are undocumented.  They are my brothers and my sisters, and I will defend them. 

Most of you are familiar with the words of Martin Luther King’s speech where he said that “he had a dream that one day . . . the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners would be able to sit down at the table of brotherhood together” and while that dream may still be unfulfilled, we have moved closer to its reality.  Do not despair but rather let us get back to work. 

Freedom is a constant struggle but it is the right of all peoples.  Let us join hands together andfight together until we are all able to sing out, “free at last, free at last, great God-almighty, we are free at last.” 

Stop Saying the Republicans Failed

Stop saying the Republicans failed.  Every time I hear or read that line I cringe.  I get it--it makes us who have been working so hard to defend the ACA feel good--like we've succeeded in this shit storm that is the Trump presidency but stop.  Just stop. 

Saying the Republicans failed may make us feel good for a few minutes but further ostracizes all those moderate, sane Republicans and continues this dichotomy of "us versus them." 

It was never "us versus them" and that's the kind of attitude that has gotten us into this mess we are in. 

It is and always was just "us."  I am that truck driver illegally driving eighty hours a week to try and pay off medical bills for my little girl.  I am that waitress working double shifts and another job on the side and sometimes selling marijuana to try and pay for my sixteen year old daughter who got pregnant--who increased the mouths in our house to four:  me, a single mom, a sixteen year old, a five year old, and now a newborn.  I am that man who is retirement age but bagging groceries at the local store because my full-time job didn't include retirement and once I was let go from that, I was too old to get another decent paying job.  Now I'm sixty-five and carrying groceries to the car for young mothers.  I am that fifteen year old singing on a stage downtown on Friday night hoping to get out this shit-hole town and sing for a living.  If I just believe hard enough and get lucky, maybe that will be me on the radio. 

It was always "us"--we are all these people and more.  Maybe your life has been a little easier than the average.  You were born into a white, middle-class family that expected you to go to college.  You got a good job and advanced.  You weren't rich but you were comfortable.  But how much of that could change based on the toss of a dime? 

Yes, I'm a liberal progressive.  But I know a great many good, honest, caring conservatives who want all people to have access to affordable healthcare.  These people didn't "fail" because their party wasn't able to pass a vote last week--the people, "us," won a brief respite in this war we are waging with the top one percent. 

Those are the people in power, the oligarchy controlling Congress, and they lost round one.  But it's a long fight, and they've got plenty of resources to insure an eventual victory, and if we keep talking about how Republicans "lost," they'll win even faster and more easily.

There's no us versus them in this fight.  There's the American people against some kind of hidden ruling class that is pulling strings we can't even begin to imagine, much less see.  So just stop with the talk about Republicans losing.  Instead, let's bond together all us regular folks who work for a living and take our government away from the ultra-rich and make it accountable to everyone, for everyone--the liberals and the conservatives because we are all Americans and when it comes down to it--we all want the same thing:  to be able to live freely, strive for happiness, and fulfill our dreams. 

Ghandi's advise on changing the World

Ghandi offers advice on how to change the world, advice which we can all embrace right now when the world feels to be tilting in even crazier directions than usual.  

Here's a summary:

1. Change yourself.

2. You are in control.

3. Forgive and let it go.

4. Without action you aren’t going anywhere.

5. Take care of this moment.

6. Everyone is human.

7. Persist.

8. See the good in people and help them.

9. Be congruent, be authentic, be your true self.

10. Continue to grow and evolve.

Read the whole article here.

Power to the People! Down with the Man!

We've been doing our best to ignore and avoid a "land" guy who represents a pipeline company who has decided to build a pipeline across our property.  I figure we already have five pipelines that criss-cross our acreage, can't someone else have a chance at one? 

But no.  They pulled the imminent domain card this week, demanding to survey and threatening a court order.  I called the Railroad Commission to make sure that they were a common carrier--they are--then called my lawyer. 

He said we could fight it but we'd lose.  Best to let them survey and then get ornery later when they start to build. 

It's frustrating.  They get 50 feet of right away and will take a huge swath of trees, a creek, and destroy the water flow to our largest pond and there's not a thing we can do about it.  Not only does it hurt our land and our sensibilities, it goes against everything we believe in about the future of energy.  I assure you, pulling liquid natural gas out of the ground and shipping it across Texas is short-term thinking.  But I guess these guys think they'll get richer while they can and the rest of us can go to hell. 

Capitalism is the root of the problem but most Americans have been brainwashed into believing it's a great thing, even those who are working two and three jobs and suffering under its effects.  Take a quick google of "capitalism is the problem."  You'll find some interesting reading. 

At what point will greed reach the tipping point and crash in on itself?  When millions die for lack of healthcare?  When the oceans reach an acidity point that no one can go for a swim?  When Wall Street is underwater?  Seems like it will be too late by that point and the rich will be high-and-dry in their luxury bunkers swimming in their underground pools. 

I was pretty depressed by this thought until I remembered all those crazy survivalists.  I can't wait to see how they invade those bunkers and take back America.

"Power to the People!  Down with the man!"

Listening is the way Forward

image from the Art of Listening

image from the Art of Listening

Two University of Texas graduate students spent the last ten days with me.  They are conducting a study in a nearby town of why poor and/or minority voters went against their interests and voted for Trump in the 2016 election. 

They couldn't say much about the interviews they conducted because of research protocol but they seemed surprised by the level of passion they encountered from people who live in a dying community with a water situation worse than that in Flint, Michigan, but because so few people live there, the town hasn't gotten much national media coverage

What struck me about the study is that these sociologists are going out into the field to do one thing, which is to listen. 

I hadn't thought much about purposefully engaging with my Red neighbors until this last week.  Hearing a little about this study's process and then receiving my next assignment from MoveOn's Summer of Resistance, which is to conduct a "Neighborhood Listening Project," I'm starting to realize the importance of engaging in a conversation with those who do not share my values or ideas.  Not so I can convince them that I'm right and they are wrong but just to listen to them.

I'm beginning to think that maybe if we all stopped talking and started listening, we might get somewhere toward solving this crisis. 

This too Shall Pass

From Leonard Woolf's autobiography, "Downhill all the Way," 1919 to 1939"
"One afternoon I was planting in the orchard . . . iris reticulata.  I heard Virginia's voice calling to me from the sitting-room window:  'Hitler is making a speech.'  I shouted back:  'I shan't come.  I'm plating iris and they will be flowering long after he is dead.'  Last March, 21 years after Hitler committed suicide in the bunker, a few of those violet flowers still flowered under the apple-tree in the orchard."

Hope.

I've spent the day swaying back-and-forth between optimism and depression.  Facebook is good for that sort of emotional see-sawing. 

Pictures from MoveOn's Community Cookouts have flooded my feed.  How great to see resistors from all over the U.S. gathered, energized to fight.

But these positive notes are interspersed with articles about how the Supreme Court will allow part of the Muslim Ban to take effect.  Despite the fact that it is unconstitutional.  Or that it is harmful to people.  Or, god help me, bad for business.  And Justice Kennedy is considering retiring, which means that Trump will get to place a second wacko on the Supreme Court who will serve for life.

Sometimes it's just too much.

I pulled up my Amazon prime account and put on the film, Captain Fantastic.  If you haven't seen it, stop what you are doing and watch it now.  No kidding.  It's smart, funny, and sad.  I was crying and laughing at the same time.  It helped.  A little, anyway.  And as they say in the film:

"Power to the people.  Stick it to the man."

“If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, then there is a possibility that you can contribute to making a better world.”
Noam Chomskey

Are you suffering from PTTID? Post-Traumatic Trump Inauguration Disorder?

Post-Traumatic Trump Inauguration Disorder.  PTTID.  It’s a mouthful but that’s what I’m calling what’s currently afflicting me.  Perhaps you have experienced some of the symptoms of PTTID? 

·      Exhaustion

·      Inability to focus

·      Increased anxiety

·      Feelings of hopelessness

·      Despair

·      Manic mood swings between hope and despair

·      Desire to flee

·      Feelings of a lack of control over daily life and the future

The list goes on but these are some of the primary symptoms.  Each day’s news feed increases the craziness as some new impeachment-worthy crime is revealed and Republicans continue to defend Trump.  Or perhaps they are simply defending themselves. We have no idea how deep the corruption goes but based on the way these Republicans are clinging to the sinking ship, we must assume that it goes deep.

How can we heal ourselves of PTTID?  Impeachment would be a great start but since that is beyond the ability for many of us to initiate, here are some things that you can do personally that may help:

·      Focus on the moment:  Get comfortable, close your eyes, and count ten breaths.  In is one, out is two.  Repeat.  If you still feel like your blood pressure is through the roof, count ten more. 

·      Google “jokes about Trump.”  Click on any of the dozens of options that come up.  Laugh until things seem a little better.

·      Take a time-out from news.  No TV, newspapers, or Facebook.  The world isn’t going to shift that much if you don’t watch for a little while. 

·      Talk with a friend about how all of this is making you feel.  They can commiserate.  You’ll feel less alone in your PTTID, realizing that others are experiencing the same symptoms. 

I know it feels like this is a uniquely crazy time—like nothing as wild as this has ever happened before but that’s just not true.  Imagine how people leading up to the American Civil War felt, or those watching as Hitler invaded one land after the next, or the men who were going to be drafted to serve in Vietnam and opposed the war?  They couldn’t control what the government was doing—in a large sense, they longer had control over their lives. Sometimes national events take over and set the course for millions of people’s lives.  This is one of those moments in history. 

The PTTID symptoms are a direct result of feeling like we have no control over our lives.  But control is always an illusory beast.  It simply doesn’t exist—only the “feeling” of control exists. And even in chaotic times, we can control the moment that we are in.  We can decide moment to moment how we are going to feel and react and to what we will pay attention.  Take a deep breath.  Pet the dog.  Take a walk.  You control the moment, not Trump and his craziness. 

Get a free copy of How to Cope in a Time of Hate:  A Guide to Sustaining Activism in Trump's America.

Hosting a Handmaid's Tale Party to Benefit Planned Parenthood

Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale has drawn attention to Margaret Atwood’s story of the same name, originally published in 1985, leading to women re-reading the book or, for some, encountering the dystopian novel for the first time.  The novel is set in the near-future in New England in a state called Gilead where a totalitarian theocracy has overthrown the government and subsequently subjugated women and persecuted other groups, including gays, queers, transsexuals, intellectuals, and peoples of other faiths.   If it sounds a little too much like real life, well, yes, there is that. 

NARAL Pro-Choice Texas recently asked Texans to host Handmaid’s Tale House Parties to discuss the book, increase awareness of the recent laws going through the state legislature to limit abortion access, and to raise money for the organization.  If you sign up for more information, NARAL will send you a complete organizing kit to host your own event.     

I hosted a house party in my deep red, rural community Thursday evening and a group of us gathered to discuss the book and women’s health issues, including access to abortions but also to talk about how mostly male Members of Congress are attempting to determine women’s medical health and futures by repealing the ACA and implementing “Trumpcare,” which includes draconian measures against women like eliminating free birth control and declaring pregnancy a “pre-existing” condition. 

This war on women’s health is an on-going concern and as the Republican-led state legislature continues to slash funds to reproductive health care clinics, continues to worsen.  A recent study found that the mortality rate of Texas women has doubled in just two years.  The jump in the death rate in the state puts Texas on par with third-world nations and is directly attributed to Republicans cutting the budgets on healthcare clinics where lower income women were receiving much-needed assistance. 

The house party I hosted raised funds for the Greater Texas Planned Parenthood organization instead of NARAL, a decision I made because of my location.  There is no access to ob-gyn services in my county.  The nearest reproductive health care clinics are between 45 and 60 miles away.  A recent health profile of this county conducted by the Texas Department of State Health Services found that only 61 percent of women received any prenatal care in the first trimester. 

Access to a local ob-gyn would greatly increase the pre-natal care that local women receive, reducing their likelihood of facing pregnancy-related issues, including the death and illness of the mother and baby.  A Planned Parenthood in a rural area like this would provide a much-needed service and yet many conservatives associate Planned Parenthood with abortions only, not realizing the extent of services offered by the organization.

Hosting a house party for Planned Parenthood allowed me to draw attention to the range of services that the organization offers women, a point I hope will help to break through many of the myths surrounding Planned Parenthood among conservative Republicans in my county. 

In addition to having a variety of snacks, both savory and sweet, our group used a set ofquestions created by NARAL to discuss the book, tv series, and current events related to women's health and status.  Then we played a game based on a recent video circulating the internet, "who said it--a Republican or Handmaid's Tale.  I came up with about 8 quotes from the book and 12 from Republicans about women, rape, and abortion and printed them out on slips of paper.  I placed the slips into a bowl and we passed it around, choosing a quote and then reading it while the rest of the group guessed who said it.  Each quote sparked discussion and some uncomfortable laughter because some of the quotes are just ridiculous.  It's hard to believe that anyone, including male lawmakers, could believe the things they have said about women.  Nevertheless, they have said these things and implemented laws that reflect this high level of ignorance.  The game provided a fun ending to an evening hinged on serious discussion.  We then took up contributions to Planned Parenthood and some of us talked about how the organization had helped us in times of need. 

Please consider hosting a house party of your own, especially if you are in a rural area where women’s health clinics are needed.  NARAL and Planned Parenthood are both able to accept donations and beyond raising funds, these kinds of parties raise awareness.