Bolts and biscuits

Because the news has been so disturbing/bad/scary lately, I want to share a couple of nice things that happened today. They are not-earth-shattering, important things, but I have to find comfort where I can.

Today, when I came out of the grocery store, I found that the huge black pickup that I had parked next to had been replaced by a Chevy Bolt! Right next to my kinetic blue Bolt was a red Bolt. They are rare in our area, so it was quite a coincidence to see one parked beside me. I almost left a note on the windshield, but I restrained myself!

Baby ABC, who is almost six months old, continues to amaze us with the rapidity of development and her discovery of new things. Today, she tried teething biscuits for the first time. She enjoyed her first experience with a non-spoonable food. The biscuits are made of rice, banana, and sweet potato, all foods she has already tried, so the main newness of it was the texture. She delighted in chewing off bits, which probably felt good for her gums, and the bits dissolved in her mouth as designed.

Her other new discovery is that she can put her foot in her mouth – literally, not figuratively. She will briefly chew on her toes before letting go of her foot and starting the process over again.

I hope that each of you have some things in your daily life that make you smile, even with the discouraging news lately.

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discouraging news

Don’t worry. This isn’t about any particular or personal news. Just a general statement of what it is like for me and for many others in the United States these days.

Watching/reading/listening to news is very fraught and discouraging. Sometimes, such as when there is violence, the news is sad and discouraging in and of itself.

Just about any news story about national government is discouraging as the dysfunction that has been in evidence in recent years has only deepened. This is ironic because the Republicans control Congress and the presidency, which usually means that legislation would pass easily. However, there is so much dissension and confusion within the party and between the president and Congressional leaders that nothing of significance is getting through the process to become law.

In the not-too-distant past, the majority and minority party would cooperate and compromise to pass legislation with a goodly majority of bipartisan votes, but that has fallen by the wayside, leaving very discouraging gridlock in its wake.

One of the things that disturbs me most is how many people are publicly denying known and provable facts. For example, some say that Russia’s interference in the US elections didn’t take place and is just an excuse for Clinton’s loss, but Russia’s role in the DNC hack was publicly known and reported on months before the election. Further evidence of hacking by Russia has also been proven in attacks on various election systems in at least two dozen states. Additionally, we have seen Russia use the same tactics in other countries.

At least as troubling is the ugliness of attacks on individuals and groups of people. Obviously, this is not a new tactic either, but some people are emboldened by the president’s twitter attacks and by other high-profile leaders who namecall and stereotype or even engage in hate speech against racial, ethnic, religious, or gender groups. Public discourse gets diverted away from civil discussion of issues and is dragged into personal or group attacks.

In the midst of all this, we have the many disturbing stories of sexual harassment and assault being unearthed after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, showing how prevalent such stories are. Although the stories are horrifying and sad, the #MeToo movement feels empowering and hopeful to me. Maybe we have finally reached a critical juncture where everyone in the society realizes what sexual harassment and assault look, sound, and feel like so that we can actually put a stop to it.

This also reinforces for me my broader commitment to both feminism and social justice causes. When you see how many individuals’ lives are adversely affected by discrimination, abuse, lost opportunities, violence, health problems, etc., you can more readily see that we are not living up to our societal commitments to fairness, equality, and “the pursuit of happiness,” nor are we following the Constitutional call to “promote the general welfare.”  For me as a Catholic, social justice work is also part of upholding doctrine on the dignity of each person and of all types of work and workers  and on the call to care for all creation with special care being given to those most vulnerable.

The disturbing news of late shows how much work there is to be done.

I hope you will join me and the millions of others in these efforts.

SoCS: US news

All or nothing tends to be the reaction to watching news coverage in the US these days.

Either people are glued to the breaking news and twists and turns of the current government or studiously avoiding the news.

One facebook friend was discussing this on her timeline this week. She is a “watcher.” She says it is like watching a train wreck; she can’t turn away.

Other friends, who used to watch the news on a regular basis, are taking a mental health break. They are avoiding the news because it is causing too much stress.

I am in the “watching” camp because I am trying to stay on top of developments so I can continue to write to elected officials on a variety of topics of concern. It is stressful, though, especially with the stresses of everyday life in addition.

Who knows? At some point, I may switch over to “nothing.”
*****
Join us for Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdays! This week’s prompt was “all or nothing.” Details here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/05/19/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-may-2017/

 

Coming home to Comey news

Because I was out yesterday evening at Bruce Borton’s retirement party, I was blissfully unaware of the news about the firing of FBI Director Comey for several hours until I returned home to hours of breaking news coverage.

In the United States, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is appointed and confirmed for a ten year term in order to insulate the FBI from political pressures. While one past director was removed after a lengthy review process for violating policy, this is the first time that an FBI director has been summarily fired with no notice.

The stated reason is that Director Comey violated policy by revealing information last July and subsequently about the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails. You can read the letter from the Deputy Attorney General here. I am not disputing that this was wrong. The irony is that Donald Trump touted Comey’s revelations on the campaign trail and paid him compliments on his bravery, all while his crowds were chanting, “Lock her up!” Are we really supposed to believe that the President fired Director Comey for behavior that he lauded for months?

Certainly, the timing and suddenness of the firing are suspicious. The administration did not even have the courage to fire Comey to his face. He literally saw the news on television before he was told.

My fear, which is shared by millions of Americans, is that Comey was fired in an attempt to derail the FBI investigation into Russian interference in US electoral process and governance. I have been alarmed about this for months now, and the alarm bells are ringing more loudly all the time.

I hope that there will be an independent commission to fully investigate this issue. The Congressional inquiries are hobbled by political divisions. The Attorney General has had to recuse himself, although he was also supposed to be recused about the Clinton email investigation but somehow was in on Comey’s firing over it. The future of the FBI investigation is now uncertain.

We deserve to know the truth about who was involved with Russian hacking and interference, either wittingly or unwittingly. Our national sovereignty and the integrity of our government are at stake.

Update on May 12, 2017:  The President said in an interview yesterday that he had already decided to fire Director Comey before meeting with the Justice Department officials, so the idea that he was being fired because of the Clinton investigation is bogus. Also, he said in the interview that the Russia investigation was connected to the Comey decision.

reaction to the morning news

No torture. Not ever. Under no circumstance. It is immoral and illegal.

I can’t believe I even have cause to write this.
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There is still time to join in the fun with Linda’s Just Jot It January! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/01/26/jusjojan-daily-prompt-jan-26th17/

jjj-2017

 

LeBron James – seriously?

Have you heard? LeBRON JAMES IS HEADING BACK TO CLEVELAND TO PLAY FOR THE CAVALIERS!!!!! It’s all over the news and the internet. And I don’t really care.

For international readers, a recap: LeBron James is a very talented basketball player, so good that when he was in high school in Akron, Ohio, his games were broadcast on local television. He was drafted as a high school senior by the nearby Cleveland (Ohio) Cavaliers and played for them from 2003-10. When his contract ended, he went to Miami (Florida) to play for the Heat, in hopes of playing for an NBA champion team. The Heat went to the championship finals all four years he played there, winning twice. He opted out of a contract extension with the Heat and is returning to Cleveland to (ostensibly) finish his career, hoping to bring a championship to a city that hasn’t had a national-level champion in any major sport for fifty years.

I’m not a basketball fan, but I understand part of the dynamic for Cleveland. I grew up in New England as a fan of the Boston (Massachusetts) Red Sox (baseball) team, which went 86 years without winning the World Series. When they won the World Series in 2004, it was exciting and emotional for me, even though I no longer live in New England. The bond between the team and the city of Boston was never more evident than the 2013 championship parade, when the team stopped at the finish line of the Boston Marathon near the site of the bombings, placing the World Series trophy draped with a special Boston Strong team jersey on the line. I even blogged about it. 

What is curious about the LeBron James situation is that Cleveland reacted very strongly when he announced he was leaving to go to Miami. He was widely vilified – people publicly burning, ripping, defacing, etc. jerseys that bore his name and number, calling him a traitor, a coward, and a lot of names one would not use in polite company.

One of the things I’ve noticed in the coverage of James’s return is that the Cleveland fans that are shown crying and cheering and generally rejoicing are almost exclusively men. There are many women fans of basketball, so the dearth of women in the coverage strikes me as odd. Are men more the forgive-and-forget type? Do they have a four-year statute of limitations on betrayal, which was the word frequently used when LeBron left?  Are women more wary and need a bit more time to get used to the situation before welcoming him back?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that no sports story – sorry, but not even the World Cup – should be the top story on a national news broadcast. Not when people are dying from bombs and gunfire in multiple countries in the Middle East, when refugees are streaming over international borders on at least three continents, when there are wildfires, lightning strikes, typhoons, etc. causing destruction, when a blood test that can predict Alzheimer’s disease development has just been announced. So, sure, cover the story of LeBron James and Cleveland, but first inform the public about news of the country and world.