Reading Michelle Obama’s memoir

Since she became a public figure during the first presidential campaign of her husband, I have felt an affinity with Michelle Robinson Obama. While on the surface it would seem that an African-American woman from the South Side of Chicago couldn’t have much in common with a European-American from a tiny New England town, there are a number of similarities. We are close in age, having been born in the last few years of the Baby Boom. I have long felt that we youngest of the Boomers, who were young adults during the Reagan recession when unemployment was high and mortgage rates even higher, are fundamentally different from the elder members of our cohort. Michelle and I are both mothers of two daughters and women who have been blessed with a close and long relationship with our own mothers. We have close women friends and mentors. We are both community-minded, and also recognize the importance of educational opportunity for ourselves and others. We each have a long, loving, and intact marriage. And we are both women of our time, which means we have experienced sexism and the challenge of tending to both our private and public lives.

Becoming, Michelle Obama’s memoir published late last year, reinforces my sense of her on all these points. She writes honestly and beautifully; I was especially impressed with the way she wrote about her feelings about what was happening and not just the events themselves. She also frequently gives context of what happens either before or later with a particular place or event, such as the changes over time in her South Side neighborhood.

I particularly enjoyed reading about Michelle’s childhood, teen, and college years, as the stories from that time before she was a public figure were mostly new to me. I also appreciated knowing how she felt about many events and causes during the campaigns and her eight years in the White House, as well as her take on the current president.

What was most enlightening to me was hearing how being a black female impacted her life at every stage and added to the pressure to excel and to be an exemplary person at all times. As the first African-American first family, it seemed that every move the Obamas made was scrutinized. I admire that Michelle and her mom, who was also in residence at the White House, were able to protect First Daughters Malia and Sasha from most of the intrusiveness of the press corps so that they could grow up (mostly) out of the public eye.

Many people share my admiration for Michelle Obama and her accomplishments. Her book tour includes venues that seat thousands of people and her book has sold over three million copies, making it the bestseller of 2018.

She can definitely add best-selling author to her already impressive resume.

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One-Liner Wednesday: politics and democracy

“When we forget that politics is about weaving a fabric of compassion and justice on which everyone can depend, the first to suffer are the most vulnerable among us—our children, our elderly, our mentally ill, our poor, and our homeless. As they suffer, so does the integrity of our democracy.”
~~~ Parker Palmer
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still around

Contrary to appearances, I have not (quite) fallen off the face of the earth.

Since I last posted, I have spent quite a bit of time trying to take care of people who are sick and being sick myself. Luckily, both of my sisters have visited to help take care of Nana and Paco while I was sick.

This week, I need to do a ton of catching up on paperwork and poetry. Before the end of the month, I need to prepare comments on four manuscripts and get my own together to distribute to our group. Fingers crossed that I can get my brain in gear to manage it.

Of course, all of this is happening against the backdrop of the continuing maelstrom of the news. If a television show, novel, or movie followed a plot from the current political news in the US, everyone would dismiss it as too far-fetched. Yet, here we are in a continuing succession of situations that are accurately called unprecedented.

It’s enough to make one’s head spin.

Putin

Vladimir Putin lied for years about Russia’s practice of doping Olympic athletes and covering it up. He also says that Russia did not interfere in the United States’ election process, despite large amounts of evidence showing that Russia did. Why should anyone believe what Putin says?

Sensing My Dismay at the Election Results, My Wife’s Dog Presses Against Me

Sending support to Bob down South at this difficult time. I am in awe of his ability to express the present situation poetically when everything is still so raw.

O at the Edges

keep-off

Sensing My Dismay at the Election Results, My Wife’s Dog Presses Against Me

And when I roll over, my toe finds a hole in the not
inexpensive 400 thread count percale sheet and rips

down its length, and I wonder if I should extend this
metaphor to include walls and the unbearable weight

of societal collapse, or hatred with small hands and
minds or faces like pale disks of whitewashed emptiness

glaring at my friends, or, well, my wife and I, across
the restaurant’s laminate booths or the potholed street

by the bus stop. I recall the woman’s sneer and hushed
commentary that afternoon, and though I wanted to

correct her mistaken assumption (hey, lady, I’m not
Hispanic) and redirect her bigotry to the correct ethnicity,

I chose instead to smile and wave goodbye, to drive to
the polls and cast my ballot, one drop in that dark bucket

of…

View original post 34 more words

Is it over yet?

I am finding it increasingly difficult not to be discouraged about the upcoming US elections.

The attack ads have gotten ridiculous. I happen to know one of the candidates in our Congressional district and would laugh at the distortions being used against her in ads, were it not so serious. To her credit, her own ads tend to be positive ones, but there is a lot of outside money getting thrown into this race, which tends to make it nasty. Our current representative, who is a Republican, is retiring, so the parties are being very aggressive in trying to get the seat, and there is an independent in the race, too.

This pales in comparison to the presidential ads. Because we live right next to swing state Pennsylvania, our television programs are filled with ads, most of them from political action committees or super-PACs who have no qualms whatsoever about slinging mud at the opposition, even if they have no evidence to back up their claims.

Unfortunately, the behavior of some of the guests on news programs isn’t much better. It has been particularly hurtful to me to see the Trump campaign be so demeaning and dismissive toward women. Even as a 59-year-old, Donald Trump appears not to have understood what “consent” means, which is totally unacceptable. What is even worse is that candidate Trump, who has bragged for years about his extramarital affairs and his sense of entitlement toward women sexually, refuses to admit that he has ever done anything wrong in regards to his treatment of women.

He says that no one respects women more than he does and he often adds, “Believe me.”

I don’t believe you, Donald.

There are years of evidence to back me up.

And I know plenty of people who exhibit true respect toward women – and all people – and have behaved in accord with that respect for decades.

I have been dutifully watching the debates, but I am not sure I can make myself watch another one. The lies are sickening.

Just a few more weeks…

SoCS: political views

During the primaries, I supported Senator Bernie Sanders, as his views aligned most closely with my own. Although he didn’t win the nomination, many of his views are reflected in the Democratic party platform. I now support Secretary Hillary Clinton for the presidency.

Due to family health issues, I haven’t written a political post since before the conventions, so I am going to use this post to catch up a bit.

In brief:  The Republican convention was dark and scary and portrayed the United States in a way that I couldn’t recognize. The Democratic convention was much more hopeful and positive with some amazing speeches. It was also historic as the United States finally has a woman nominated by a major party  for the presidency, 96 years after women gained the right to vote nationally.

I had thought – or maybe it was more hope than thought – that the campaign in the general election phase would be more focused on policy and debate. Secretary Clinton does have policy papers on her website and does regularly speak on policy, but a lot of the press coverage is swallowed up by more subjective things, such as likability – and whatever nonsense has just been propelled from the mouth of Donald Trump.

I am very disheartened by the hatefulness and the bullying and the crudeness of Donald Trump, which is too often echoed by his staff and supporters. I am also disturbed that facts don’t seem to matter. Although the press is finally being more consistent in pointing out when Trump’s rhetoric doesn’t line up with fact, there are now millions of people who believe the lies and cannot be convinced by factual evidence.

I do find some comfort in the polls which show that in state-by-state match-ups, Secretary Clinton is leading. I hope that the upcoming one-on-one debates will clarify for voters that only Clinton has serious plans to move the country forward and deal with the very real problems that our country and the world face.

It’s odd how stream of consciousness writing takes over. Linda’s prompt this week is “view” and I wasn’t intending to participate, but as I wrote the first paragraph of this post, the word “views” appeared and I decided I would run with stream of consciousness rather than a planned, edited post.

Two birds with one stone…
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