SCOTUS, WTF?

Wearing masks during a pandemic violates their rights, say right-wing naysayers. Taking away contraceptives from women who work for religious employers that disapprove of birth control doesn’t? Why does a boss decide if a woman can afford birth control?

Justices Kagan and Breyer sided with the conservative justices that the case should be sent back to the lower court. Only Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayer dissented.

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RBG

“Today, for the first time, the Court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree,” Ginsburg wrote.

Viagra is covered in health insurance provided by religious employers because it’s for erectile dysfunction. Perhaps more men will be able to impregnate women if they take the drug? And that’s a good thing for Catholics and other religious types.

I’m guessing that many men sure as hell don’t care about adding more babies to their families. Well, maybe if they snagged young trophy wives and hope to show the world they’re capable of impregnating them.

But WTF?? It’s hypocrisy to claim that men consuming viagra generally want more children. Some do. But some women take contraceptives for reasons other than birth control, severe acne for one.

I don’t care if men take viagra or not. This Supreme Court decision deprives women of their reproductive rights. The war on women’s health care continues…

 

 

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America WTF?

Today’s NYTimes editorial says it all. All the policy changes to bring about the promise of America, what white Americans have mostly paid lip-service to these past four-hundred years.

Read through the list of essential societal changes, such as NO Child Left Behind, Health Care for All, Affordable Housing, Equal Pay for Equal Work, and more. I would add Learn American History. Check out Harvard history prof Jill Lepore’s The Last Archive podcast.  “Who stole the truth?” is a recurring theme. I can’t wait for each entertaining radio-like history mystery to show up every Thursday.

So, I’m adding a new category to my blog posts: “AMERICA WTF?”

It will include questions, musings, new directions for our traumatized country, in my humble former journalist, former educator, former bookstore owner view (Please scroll down for a few superb titles.)

With liberty and justice for all? Nope. Not yet. But Americans are in the mood for change. The Pew Research Center reports that 67 percent of Americans polled support Black Lives Matter.

And haven’t we had enough of the biggest mistake in American History? An incompetent traitor watching Fox make-believe news instead of reading his daily briefings? And his  slumlord son-in-law Jared and daughter Pocketbook Ivanka (necessary to carry a bible for a photo-op, after spraying peaceful protestors with tear gas)?

I want a nice president, don’t you?

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Wish I had gotten this young woman’s name when I accosted her for a photo at Starbucks pre-pandemic.

DISCUSS: Would you support reparations for Black Americans, and if so, who, what, when, where, and 

FOR FURTHER READING/Black History:

Fiction — “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett, “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd

Nonfiction — “The Warmth of Other Suns. The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson

Kids — “Pink and Say” by Patricia Polacco, picture book, age 8+

“The Antiracist Baby” board book by Ibram X. Kendi

*I’m not thrilled by the illustrations, plus I tend to think that board books don’t require serious messages. Not totally decided.

 

 

 

 

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Pandemic Choices

Sabino Canyon was packed this morning. Umpteen Cars lined the road. A scary scene because half the walkers, in my experience, don’t wear masks or practice social distancing. I don’t know what they’re thinking, that they’re invincible, that nearly 100, 000 American lives lost from Covid-19 is a lie, or that the United States can beat a virus despite our unpreparedness (We’re number 1!).

    Because an incompetent president announces that the virus “will go away without a vaccine?”

Not true, no matter what politicians tweet. Mother Earth is stronger than politics.

“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson

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Twisting and turning every which way,  relief from Covid-19 and the future of the economy are inextricable.

I chose to avoid the gaggle of humans and set out on a trail not taken. No mountain lions, no rattlesnakes, no bipeds anywhere.

Unadulterated nature is my peaceful place.

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Back at the overflow parking lot and in my car, I turned on NPR. Dr. Anthony Fauci was being interviewed. He sounded a little excited speaking of Moderna, a Cambridge-based biotech company. Their very early Phase 1 positive results for a vaccine included only eight subjects, which some news media and doctors are pooh-poohing.

Fauci noted that Moderna’s quick announcement was only a press release, and that a full peer review of their science will be available within the next few weeks.

The Good Doctor is optimistic about the possibility of a Covid-19 vaccine being ready by the end of December or early 2021.

I choose to listen to Dr. Fauci.

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Finding Common Deliciousness

Ahh Istanbul…the city swirls in my memory. Three years ago, my magic carpet ride across the Atlantic landed me in an epitome of contrasts: secular or religious, ancient or modern, hijab or no hijab?

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On my way to the Grand Bazaar these Turkish tweeners pegged me as an American, and asked me to take their photo. I’m not sure why. 

I passed a Starbucks, Gap, and Coach stores on the street leading to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest markets in the world, constructed in the 15th century to please an Ottoman sultan.

Five hundred years later the bazaar is closed, part of the worldwide battle against the coronavirus.

Our Tucson social distancing crusade includes an occasional takeout dinner from a neighborhood restaurant. My favorite is Istanbul Mediterranean Cuisine, run by a local Turkish family.

A few days ago I hopped into my ocean blue Prius to pick up our treat: Dan’s Istanbul plate, consisting of a giant homemade lamb sausage, a crisp Middle Eastern salad, tasty rice pilaf, pita bread, and the yummiest tzatziki sauce made of Greek yogurt, lemon juice, fresh dill and other spices.

I chose chicken skewers this time, which came with all the same sides. They were good but not as flavorful and tender as the lamb skewers. The chicken and lamb were similarly marinated in lemon juice and spices. So much food, and so reasonable! My dinner lasted for two nights.

One of the two brothers, who’s holding down the fort, came out to deliver my order. Chatting, both of us wearing masks, I asked how business was.

“Next week we’re opening inside,” he said excitedly, acknowledging that Trump had visited Phoenix that day.

“We’ll keep ordering takeout,” I said. “Gov. Ducey announced the opening of restaurants because he’s Trump’s puppet.”

The brother mumbled something. He may support Trump for “economic” reasons. Perhaps opening indoors will bring the restaurant more business, I don’t know.

He and I disagree about the need for continued social distancing.

We agree that a delicious dinner brightens any day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fifty years since Kent State…

For me, Kent State was the end of hoping government could do the right thing. As a college student during the Sixties I supported a social revolution, a hippie consciousness of equality for all. Yeah, all Americans were human beings who deserved respect, a decent job, safety that  included health care and hope that a kid wearing a hoodie wouldn’t be shot.

For fifty years we’ve been arguing and speaking out for seemingly obvious citizen needs — not  privileges — encompassing equal pay for women and minorities.

Government support still hinges on social class/how much money is hidden in your Cayman Islands’ bank account. Corporate welfare reigns, not citizen welfare.

“This [pandemic] crisis is exposing the class savagery of American democracy and the economic carnage that it has always countenanced.” charles blowimages (1)

As a journalist, years ago, I interviewed a 92-year-old sociologist toward the end of her life:

“Looking back over your lifetime what concerns you the most?” I asked.

“That we’re still fighting over the same issues,” she replied.

How can that be? I Don’t want to be lamenting our lack of progress if I’m lucky enough to live for twenty more years. I’m haunted by that possibility.

“Words matter” or “The pen is mightier than the sword?” That’s why I keep at this blog. “The Little Engine That Could” comes to mind. That’s me, although I have no idea if my posts matter.

Then I recall former students who have written to me, spanning decades, reminding me of a teacher’s impact.

“You care for us like a mother, which is part of the best teaching,” one wrote. I had no idea.

So I keep on keepin’ on.

Thinking of our history and all the shit that’s gone down physically hurts: Slavery and its aftermath still lives; women earn less on the dollar and black women even less; the US is the only developed country without nationalized health insurance; scared old white men will do anything to stop progress; gun deaths proliferate; mental health means you’re on your own — in prison or under a bridge.

But today I’m thinking about Kent State. As Harvard historian Jill Lapore writes in the current New Yorker, “Did we ever leave it?”

 

Posted in Baby Boomers, Fight wimpiness, For Love of History, Journalism/Writing, Mental illness/civil rights, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“We ain’t goin’ nowhere…”

For the last two weeks an empty carton waits on the floor by my office closet, ready for me to fill it with stuff I no longer need. But closet cleaning isn’t high on my agenda these days.

During these strange days of social isolation, as we attempt to flatten the coronavirus’s exponential growth, I need to talk with family and friends. I need to see their faces. Zooming and Facetime are essential to my well-being. Yesterday an online “visit” with my grown children, their spouses, and my two grandbabies took place in three time zones.

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My granddaughter is six months old today!

The Internet is my friend. I’ve participated in yoga and Pilates classes with teachers from my closed Tucson gym. Today I watched a lovely performance of “Stand By Me” on the rocks surrounding Lake Powell (I’ve never been and now want to go). Walking through our neighborhood is essential, checking out the latest wildflowers popping up daily.

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A cactus in bloom is magic. Every time.

I haven’t felt much like writing lately. Reading sparks the highlight of each day: “Sapiens. A Brief History of Humankind” enlivens my thinking in the late afternoon, along with a snack of Trader Joe’s olive oil popcorn; the novels “Disappearing Earth” and “Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk” transport me to the Russian Kamchatka Peninsula and New York City, respectively, in the evening.

We’ve stored plenty of food but a big diversion from our own cooking will be to order from Tito & Pep’s one night this week. Last night, we discovered a gem on Netflix: “Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories.”  A tiny diner tucked into the gigantic city is open from midnight to 7 a.m. An array of fascinating, quirky, believable characters show up.

I miss experiencing life with my grandchildren, also anticipating travel. We planned a trip to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula in late May. Most likely not going to happen.

Every day it becomes more obvious that we’re all in this nasty pandemic together, and that we each have a responsibility to ourselves and to others to stay healthy. Let’s do it.

“Hearts open. Hands washed. Love on.” — Brene Brown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Bopping Around Tucson, Family Matters, Fight wimpiness, Old friends, Out West, The Rest of the World, Visual Entertainment | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

I want a nice president!

Last week I was heartbroken that Elizabeth Warren, our supreme presidential candidate, dropped out of the presidential race. Electability felt like a dirty word. Would I see a woman president in my lifetime?

We walked to Starbucks to meet friends for coffee, as we do every Tuesday and Thursday morning. A young woman in a t-shirt walked in. She changed everything for me. I asked to take her photo. I wished I had asked her name.

Her message lit up my brain. I’m sick of the daily onslaught of lies from the narcissistic thug in the White House. I’m sick of a bone-deep fear of losing any democracy we’ve traditionally claimed. I’m sick of a make-believe president who cares about the stock market more than the health of millions.

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An influential voter

I’m feeling relieved. Joe Biden isn’t a sociopath. I like his talk about restoring our values, caring about other people, and connecting with the rest of the world.

Standing with black voters who have had it, too, I understand why many are so supportive of Biden. They watched him stand behind Barack Obama for eight years. At what other time in our history has a white man so sincerely sang the praises of a black man? It’s primal for African Americans, not a political tool like when Biden tossed in Barack’s name during the debates.

So what happens next? Bernie gets one more opportunity to test Biden at the Phoenix debate this Sunday. I hope Biden preps sufficiently. I hope Bernie influences Biden on health care, a wealth tax, and equal rights for all.

Biden correctly calls himself a bridge. I’m betting he’ll choose Sen. Amy Klobuchar as his vice-presidential candidate. I’d support Minnesota’s Democratic governor appointing former Sen. Al Franken to her seat. Hasn’t he been punished enough for having been an obnoxious comedian in his previous life? A fifth-generation Minneapolis woman told me Franken was the best senator Minnesota ever had. Bring him back.

Bring on Minnesota nice. I’m all for it.

 

 

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YES SHE CAN!

Six months prior to the 2008 or 2016 presidential elections who was convinced that  Obama or Trump would win? Media pundits are crowning Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee too early in the primary/caucus process. It’s annoying. But that’s their job.

Our job as alert, caring citizens is to vote for the best Democratic presidential candidate, someone who can beat the thug in the White House, someone who will provide leadership and smarts to work with a Democratic Senate — we hope! — someone who will focus on ending massive U.S. inequity — especially among women and minorities.

Elizabeth Warren is that candidate. Her two-cent tax on the richest Americans is the way to go. Medicare For All won’t happen overnight, regardless of who wins the nomination.

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Bernie expounds against inequity but who has consistently fought financial industry fraud during her career? Dropping millions on advertising has initiated former NY Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s rise among many Democrats looking for a middle-of-the-road alternative to Bernie. Bloomberg could do more good investing millions in climate change and gun control solutions. President, nope.

Even smart people believe what they hear in the media. Yesterday I wore a “I Voted Early” to my writing group gathering.

“Who should I vote for in the [Arizona] primary?” a young immigration attorney and two retired international educators asked.

“Vote for the best candidate,” I said. Read the Paul Krugman piece, “Warren, Bloomberg, and What Really Matters.” Share it with your friends and neighbors.

Why do we finally need a woman president? Who else is talking about paid parental leave, compensating caretakers with decent wages, and refinancing Planned Parenthood? Who else truly cares about women’s issues?

Yes, I’d vote for a dog against Trump. But it’s way past time for a dynamic, smart, empathic woman president. EW_PledgeToVote_background_va01

 

 

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Say what you wanna say…do what you wanna do

Waiting for my stretch class to begin at the Tucson JCC I lift a few weights. I glance over to see if my waiting classmates are sitting by the Mind & Body classroom door. Yup. I keep lifting weights, not wanting to waste any time.

Then I see movement and stroll over, looking inside the glass door. Participants are clapping — what we do at the end of class — and are standing up.

I’m a bit OCDish. Coveting my space in the front right corner of the classroom before anyone else grabs it, I open the door.

“You’re not allowed to go in until the people in the class come out,” a woman sitting on the bench tells me.

“Who says so?” I blurt.

Her dark eyes bulge out at me. “Well, it would be the polite thing to do.”

“I’m going to the back of the room. I know what I’m doing,” I say, recognizing that I won’t be in anyone’s way. And WTF, I’m polite!

This woman probably has been designating herself as boss for decades. Why would you ever listen to her? Ever. Are you a sheep? Don’t be a sheep.

Do what you wanna do. Can’t we each take responsibility for our own selves?

A few people close to me know that I detest being told what to do. I’m working on not letting my anger spew out, like unwanted dark oil from a tanker.

Jump ahead to Ani Difranco singing one of my favorite songs at the Fox Tucson Theatre the other night: “I’m not angry anymore.”

Years ago when I saw Ani perform, she wore a Che Guevara bandanna around her head covering her long dreadlocks. She pounded on her guitar, yelling. She’s a bisexual feminist. The young lesbian crowd danced and screamed their approval back then and now.

The seeming difference these days is that DiFranco, now 49, has been married to a man for 12 years and is the mother of two children. Her dark eyes sparkle under her dark bouncy hair. She laughs and bounces warm jokes off the audience.

I’m not saying it’s because she’s married and a mother that she’s turned mellow. What do I know? I know that I’m less angry as I’ve aged. I wish I were less angry when my kids were young.

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I like having my shadow in a photo. Some people probably don’t. What little things bug you??

I’m making headway but that bossy woman sitting by the door to my stretch class still annoyed me.

 

 

 

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When I woke up this morning…

It was an ordinary Tuesday. Nothing unusual happened walking to Starbucks for coffee with friends. We discussed the day’s big event, a scheduled oil change for my aging Toyota, to be followed by breakfast at Baja Cafe.

Back home after Tuesday coffee, I drove to my car’s service spot and waited for Dan to pick me up for a snickerdoodle pancake or Wyatt Earp benedict.

Perhaps I overheard a conversation about a 2006 Prius for sale.

“I’ve always wanted a Prius,” I said to anyone listening. “But it’s not to be. I’ll go through life with my good old car.”

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My political heart rode with me everywhere. 

“The Prius is behind that big bush over there. Go take a look at it,” said the service manager with the Boston accent who’s taken care of my car for nearly twenty years. I trusted him. I strolled over to my dream car.

It was the same Cape Cod blue as the former OZmobile, my Honda Civic I drove for years in Maine, amassing 179,000 miles through ice and snow, hauling books to conferences I was speaking at, running off the road into a snowbank when I was pregnant with Ethan in 1980.

The Prius color matches the Tucson sky. “It was meant for me,” I mused.

Over breakfast at the Baja Cafe, Dan researched my dream car. “It’s a good deal,” he said. “I’ve listened to you talk about wanting a Prius for years. Get it.”

So I did.

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Happy me!

How often I’ve joked that being a grownup meant owning a car with a beeping key, never imagining it would happen. Finally, I’m a grownup on this ordinary Tuesday that magically transformed into a surprising, thrilling, very good day.

*Know a leftie progressive who will buy a 1999 Toyota Corolla?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Baby Boomers, Bopping Around Tucson, Fight wimpiness, Mount Desert Island/Maine, Out West, Politics | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments