Privilege and Perspective: Read all about it!

Below is a guest blog written by a dear friend. I love the very last link she offers and have already been diving in:

Despite the results of the election, many of us are privileged to be (likely) less affected than others.  For many non-whites, this election doesn’t so much signal a change as  just yet more of the status quo.  To me, this election showed that those of us who are white need to step up more, and one way we can do that is be more informed.

I’ve read a lot of books this year (admittedly, few were about being a better ally).  Two stand out:

Between the Word and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates:   Coates is one of the most widely-read authors on race today (and a comic book author), and this book pulls no punches in outlining his view on the issues he faced growing up as well as his h0pes and dreams for his young son.
The Immortal Live of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot:  One of the biggest issues facing race relations is when helping isn’t really helping.  This book talks about how science used a tissue sample from a young black woman for medical research of all kinds — but without the full consent of the woman or her family.  While taking a small tissue sample might seem innocuous, the effect it had on Lacks’ family was enormous (not to mention that in the end, one of the results the family really wanted was not so much money as better access to medial care for themselves!).

Too busy to read a whole book?  Here is a list of essays that might be a good place to start.  You don’t have to read them all at once.

New York, New York: A lesson for us all

Visited friends in New York this weekend and was heartened by the sheer number and variety of people walking peacefully elbow to elbow in the city.  We walked by Trump Tower where barricades funneled pedestrians across the street through small gaps. We only saw a couple protesters. One passerby was snapping a pic with a smiling thumbs up, while my husband saluted with a different finger. Mostly people were bustling about their business not paying any heed to the towering headquarters pumping out one alarming cabinet pick after another (read about Trump’s lean toward Russian-friendly Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, and anti- EPA Myron Ebell to lead the EPA)

More hopefully, when we entered the nearby St. Patrick’s Cathedral, there were hundreds of people filing in and out (probably many thousands a day) to be inspired by its massive grace and perhaps to pray. What did I pray for? I prayed that we lift up and spread the tolerance and strength of New Yorkers throughout the country.

My “man-on-the-street” conversations and exchanges with friends in NYC revealed that New Yorkers do not have much love for Trump, having known him longer than the rest of us. Yet somehow they are pulling it out day after day, dealing with the daily grind and their own local politics while enduring daily traffic re-routes due to national security for the president-elect, shouldering the burden of being Trump central. And not to mention commuting past the former Twin Towers every day in the financial district. New Yorkers are resilient.

Meanwhile, I dropped a thank you note to the New York Times building. A grittier location than plush 5th Avenue. Its exoskeleton (did you see the spiderman climb?) reminded me of armor (they say it is eco-friendly from sun) which seemed appropriate considering the NY Times will need to suit up for battle to protect our First Amendment rights to free speech in the face of an authoritarian Trump presidency which has already abused power to chill individuals and the press from exercising their Constitutional right to free speech. And his cabinet pick for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, may contribute to that problem.

Suggested next steps? Write to your Congressman to block Trumps Cabinet picks. Engage people in political dialogue instead of shunning or shaming. (This Ted Talk on tribalism might help). Triangulate news sources and encourage others to do the same.

 

Your News, My News: Let’s Swap

First off, please read Evan McMullin’s Trump’s Threat to the Constitution. In my “man on the street” conversation today, I mentioned this article to a gentleman who then admitted to me that he voted for McMullin for President.

That same man recommended that I read the Federalist article about the John Doe investigations in Wisconsin. Let’s call it OPTION A. He was disturbed by Democrats searching Republican homes with “early morning raids”. So I read it tonight prepared to be horrified.

Then I read from other news sources and discovered that there was a lot more to the story; bipartisan prosecutors, serious allegations against Scott Walker, Koch Brothers and big money involvement,  self-interested State Supreme Court judges, laws governing John Doe investigations, etc. Poor Wisconsin. How could Hillary think she was a shoe-in?

I found articles that focused mainly on Scott Walker corruption, and also others that focused only on people whose homes were searched in the probe.  Here is the best article I found that touches on both: “Bipartisan Prosecutors Call Scott Walker a Liar for His Attacks on Corruption Probe”. Let’s call it OPTION B.

So what is the truth? If I had read only OPTION A, I might be just as astounded as the gentleman on the train today. I might want to go investigate this myself to stop such atrocities (like the shooter who believed the fake news about the pizzeria)

OPTION B, though it has a slant, reads more fairly to me than OPTION A, and offers up more verifiable facts, rather than mere hyperbole. Meanwhile, Option A sounds especially angry and paranoid. And it is true that conservative news articles that I read tonight omitted facts about the bipartisan nature of the investigations and the level of corruption alleged.

So I choose OPTION B as closer to the truth, to save myself from continuing to search for more news sources until I can be even more certain. Truth is tenuous, and it is tedious. And I am tired.

But at least now I am more educated. And if I see that man tomorrow I can let him know that I respected his request to read the article. Maybe he has since read McMullin’s too?

Trump’s Corruption Needs a Correction

My garbage man says that Trump is a billionaire so he can’t be bought, and thus is not corruptible. Did it occur to him that Trump may not need to be bought in order to be corrupt?

Trump has lived his life in service to Trump, and he is already using his elected position for personal gain.

In just these first few weeks as President-Elect, he has already avoided the press corp which can both keep him accountable and help him communicate in emergencies, ignored security briefings which are necessary to prepare him for office, and ignored is own transition team’s efforts to teach him. Instead he has:

1. asked U.K. leaders to block construction of windmills in view of Trump’s golf course (something Trump previously fought to the highest court in England, and lost),

2. asked Argentinian leader to help Trump’s building project get building permits in Argentina,

3. interrupted transition activity to meet with Indian businessmen on project that would pay royalty money directly to Trump, and

4.  broke with protocol and met privately with Japanese leader and Trump’s daughter Ivanka who had business to discuss.

Also, it is speculated that his politically controversial call with the leader of Taiwan may have been prompted by economic/business interests of his Trump organization.

If Hillary Clinton had done any one of these corrupt things, he would have demanded to “lock her up!”  If your local politicians had done it you would demand they resign.

His refusal to release his taxes was the first sign that he did not intend to behave ethically. Now he is behaving unconstitutionally, with intent to violate the highest laws of the land.

What you can do:

  • Read the excellent letter by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) and U.S. Congressman, Elijah Cummings, and their call for a government audit of Trump’s conflicts of interest and investigation of his use of unsecured lines to make transition calls to heads of state.
  • Contact the Government Accountability Office contact@gao.gov to note that you “support an investigation into the appropriateness of Trump’s use of tax payer dollars toward the presidential transition, and an audit of all potential conflicts of interest.”
  • Write to your U.S. Congressmen to demand action to protect our country from despot leaders.

 

It’s a Wonderful Life. You stand between Bedford Falls and Pottersville

As an uplifting exercise this post-election season, I recommend you revisit the classic movie It’s A Wonderful Life. I just watched it with my 10-year old, a five-tissue event.

It puts Trump’s cabinet pick for Secretary of Treasury, Steven Mnuchin into perspective. He is the evil, profiteering Mr. Potter. His bank OneWest, under his leadership, was called a “foreclosure machine” following the recession. And Trump’s decision to put him into a position of power is moving us closer to a Pottersville nation.

See the Trump voter who “felt sick” when she realized that Trump just appointed the guy who acted like Mr. Potter toward her and her fellow citizens by greatly profiting from tricking people into losing their homes and taking tax dollars to do it.

Write to your U.S. Senator, and ask your Republican and Democratic friends to write to their U.S. Senators, to block the appointment of Steven Mnuchin.

Voting: The Fix is in!

Republicans seem to know the old adage… make sure you’ve won the game before it has even started. How do they do this? They write the rules. In elections that means pre-work as follows:

  1. Gerrymandering congressional districts to ensure your party retains power. While this may favor either or both major parties, systemic efforts by Republicans for two decades have resulted in a skew toward Republican victories and wasting votes of Democrats.  See the map in this article about a Wisconsin gerrymandering case, which also offers a glimmer of hope about a breakthrough method for identifying and fighting partisan gerrymandering.  Also see the hopeful steps happening in North Carolina where a special election may be held after court-supervised redistricting can take place. Also see news of more organized Democratic leadership to combat this issue.
  2. Caging, purging and otherwise reducing voter registrations to make it hard for people to vote, particularly  minorities who more frequently vote Democratic, thus favoring Republican victories. See this well-written summary on North Carolina  restrictions on voting (though people are now fighting back in NC)
  3. Undercounting votes, particularly of minorities, by methods such as “Crosscheck” which ensure that votes that were cast are not actually counted. See article by long-time election investigator Greg Palast. His totals on purged votes show how the exit polls were right about Hillary winning in those critical swing states, but then the votes were not counted. This is another tactic used by Republicans.
  4. Using manipulable computer voting machines from Republican controlled and connected companies (like Diebold) which have proven unreliable and skewing toward Republican victories.  See my earlier post with a movie link and more details (see the movie!)

Why are they doing this? See the Stick Figure video about perpetuating power that I linked previously. Classic tactics, particularly if you are moving away from a democratic model toward dictatorship model.

What can we do?

  • Get Democrats registered well in advance, and then get them physically to the polls with organized rides. Reach out to help in other states by calling those Democratic headquarters. Mid-term elections are essentially around the corner.
  • Write letters to Congress, to the Editor, to whomever, about the need for bipartisan districting. How else can we keep politicians of any party from becoming too comfortable or too corrupt? They need to feel the pressure come election day to prove they’ve earned our vote.
  • Connect with Holder’s efforts for fair redistricting.
  • Dispute, every chance you get, Trump’s notion that there is widespread in-person voting fraud (the Chicago equivalent of vote early and often). Every expert agrees this is simply not true and that the few cases are so few as to be inconsequential. He is tweeting this not as a sore loser rant, but rather as a strategy to gain political support for more voter suppression laws.

“I’m with her”, and her, and her, and her…

Move over angry white man; Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!

I just had the pleasure of sitting with a roomful of women, many strangers to me, to bond over politics, passions and patriotism. This organic neighborhood meeting happened because over the course of these past three weeks many of these women naturally shared tears after the election, fears after the cabinet picks started rolling in, and jeers over Trump’s conflicts of interest and other corrupt and odious behaviors.

The big takeaway? YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It was amazing to me how similarly we all felt about the election, about Trump, about the need to do something about it. So now we are organizing.

How about you? Have you met up with like-minded people yet? Reminds me of the organic rise of MoveOn.org and how people (including my previously apolitical sister in a swing state) started to have Move On meetings in their homes after the 2000 presidential election.

Time is ticking for Foster Campbell’s Dec 10 run-off election for the U.S. Senate so DONATE NOW!

See other things you can do now to “Restore Balance to the Force” such as book a rally bus to get yourself to the March for Women in Washington, January 21, 2017.

Trump’s Education Pick Brings Chills

Posted November 27: Betsy Devos, Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education is another rattler. As I was reading about her penchant for vouchers, all it took was a casual mention from my husband that she is Erik Prince’s sister, to set my arms to shaking again in a fight or flight reaction.

Have you read “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army”? This was a chilling account of Erik Prince’s role in privatizing our army which removed accountability and professionalism in our military engagements. It also revealed how much money, influence, and a private Christian-Right agenda can permeate our government’s rhetoric and decision-making.

The appointment of his sister, Betsy DeVos, bodes similarly ill for the separation of church and state. You can expect her to also move toward privatizing education, diverting money from public schools to parochial schools or for-profit schools via vouchers, and causing an unstable schools environment for children, including diminished professional standards and oversight in the process.

What you can do…

Read the Economist articles from mid-2016 on training teachers and findings on what works. These are the best articles I have read all year on education reform and they are about investing in teachers, not splintering neighborhoods or creating new schools or school systems.

For fun you might also enjoy John Oliver’s piece on Charter Schools.

 

 

 

Call for an Audit of Election Results: Rule Out Foreign Interference

Posted: Nov 23, 2016. Polls help us keep elections honest, accountable, and yet this year they were off by a lot in key counties for the Presidential election on Nov 8. Everyone strived to justify the polling gap. But now computer scientists are questioning election results from computer-reliant counties in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

1. Support Jill Stein’s effort to file for a vote audit in WI, PA and MI.  Read her press release. She has standing to file, but does not have deep pockets to pay for fees and legal support like other candidates. Let’s back her efforts to restore integrity and confidence in our elections!

2. Sign the petition to ask for an Audit of Election Results. Also see other steps you can take to ensure everyone’s voice counts, and every vote is counted.

3. Call the Department of Justice today! (DOJ)  at 202-353-1555 and ask our government to fully audit the voting results. If you get a busy signal, keep trying. Try the alternative number 202-514-2000, option 4.  I also sent a note to the DOJ using its online comment form. I tagged the category as National Security and here is what I said:

“URGENT: We must lay to rest questions of foreign interference in our election process. It is a matter of national security to investigate thoroughly the findings of computer scientists that the presidential election results for several counties in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan are suspect. This is especially critical considering our current President-Elect invited Russia to hack his political opponent and has broken with ethical standards for presidential transparency by not releasing his taxes and by not stepping aside from his personal foreign business dealings while planning for his transition to the Presidency. We cannot let our highest office in the land be corrupted or co-opted by foreign interference in American elections. Please audit the voting machines in suspect counties.”

Background:

Recall that the U.S. government has already declared that Russia interfered with the election by hacking emails, we also know that Russia has paid trolls to plant misinformation and clutter social media with an intent to interfere with American elections, confidence, and outcomes. See also. See also.

We also know that voting machines have flaws and have been under scrutiny (remember the 2000 election when Gore’s counts were impossibly going down as votes were counted on election night) and that questionable computer election results  skew toward Republicans.

See also the movie at saveourelections.org called “Free for All: One Dude’s Quest to Save Democracy”.