Tag Archives: american politics

Religion and Fake News: A Package Deal

We’ve entered a strange era for a nation where facts are of little meaning and truth is distorted without consequence.

If you’ve tried to have a conversation with someone who still supports a Trump presidency, there’s a high probability that many of you experience the inability to find some tiny common island of truth on which you can agree. It seems that the only thing agreeable is that we can all identify as Americans, and even that concession is tenuous.

For a long while I’ve been baffled by the ability for many, including leaders of ‘the church’, to ignore reality and cling to strange, somewhat mythological concepts such as “God can use even a corrupt man”.

Then it came to me: Part of the agreement in being a Christian is that there’s only one source of information from which to base a world view.  Only the Bible can provide real answers.  Only the Bible can be the source for history.  Only the Bible offers a moral code for society.

There is consequently an entire population of American citizens who are programmed to refuse any new information simply because it doesn’t come from the Bible.  Anything outside the holy writ is considered blasphemous and is not to be weighed.   There is no room for curiosity, no appeal to questioning, no allowance for new evidence.  It’s a closed and very regulated environment, as most religions are and must be.  Outside sources are quick to prove them wrong, or at least mistaken, and would shatter the thin foundation upon which the belief is built.

Since curiosity was killed on the altars of religion, it makes complete sense to me as to why so many are willing to buy into FOX, Breitbart, Hannity, Limbaugh, and Jones narratives –  there’s no reason to question their assertions, nor is there a desire to discover if they are presenting the truth. These are minds that have become accustom to just receiving information without weighing its worth, and if a talking snake can steer mankind down a road of licentiousness,  then yes, Donald Trump, corrupt as he is, can be affirmed by god to the highest office of the land in order to fulfill some vague biblical purpose.

I am trying to find ways to bridge the gap and encourage conversation, but without a desire to heed facts or consider a differing perspective, it’s nearly impossible to have a healthy, productive discourse.

While it helps to understand why there’s such a resistance to truth among a certain number of our fellow citizens, I’m not sure where this leaves us overall.   I wouldn’t worry about it except the US has lost a great deal of respect in the world’s view, and the legislation coming out of the current Congress would send us into third world status, and we want to pass to our children a viable, healthy democracy for their future.

I am open to suggestions.  And always hoping that, somehow, reason would save us from becoming another crumbling empire.

May truth will out…

Frankie

 

 

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Shock and Awe

It’s a shock to see young white American men giving the Nazi salute and holding up swastika flags after having fought against fascist hate. It’s a shock to see them turning on our fellow citizens, physically harming their human brothers and sisters who live and breath alongside them.  The problem is, we don’t really have time to be shocked at this particular moment.

How do we navigate the all normal human response of shock in this critical time?  We have to admit it first, just notice it. Denying it will only lead to a festering anger, but we don’t have to pick it up and hold on to it either.  If you’re an empath, or possess the trait of being Highly Sensitive, then this is a particularly difficult challenge.  It can be accomplished however.   Acknowledge the feeling, that’s it, then move on to action.

Action is where we can awe ourselves and each other.  There’s plenty around to inspire us.  Twitter is busy with people helping to identify the perpetrators of Nazi hate in Charlottesville. And while it’s disappointing that our President refuses to condemn white supremacy, there are plenty of other politicians taking up the sword of justice for him.   Many gathered together yesterday to show support for those killed and injured.

Across the nation, today, we have the opportunity to show the same support, demonstrate love and acceptance, sow the seeds of kindness and peace.   It’s up to each one of us, shocked as we are, to awe our neighbors and friends with positive action.  And in the doing, we find that shock doesn’t have to render us paralyzed, and love can lead us to unity.

Peace,

Frankie


Public Work

Many of us are getting out of our comfort zone and becoming involved in public discourse like never before and the Science March this past weekend provided proof of this.  I was grateful for those across the world that set aside time on their Saturday to ‘show up’ and let our leaders know that facts matter, we don’t buy the propaganda, and we care about democracy and a healthy earth.

But there’s more ‘showing up’ than just marching for science these days.

My local ACLU chapter has recorded an uptick in people showing up for their monthly meetings.   I live in a conservative area of northern California and have noticed a definitive increase in progressive activism taking place.  Many of us have realized that being a citizen is more than just showing up at a voting booth every election and sending money to our favorite social endeavor.

It’s work though. I don’t know about you but I’ve taken on a new respect for all our public elected officials because it takes time and dedication to ‘show up’ at meeting after meeting, event after event, and like many of us, did so while working a regular job. I have learned to greatly respect those men and women in my new friends circle who have devoted years worth of Saturday’s or work week evenings to meet, discuss, plan, advance, and advocate for healthy democratic ideals in our communities.

I am, thankfully, in a place where my children are raised and I have more time to devote to public service.   But I realized that even that is an excuse as I sat one recent Saturday afternoon and listened to a mother of two daughters contend for the position of California Democratic Chair.  I thought to myself “If she’s willing to give up time with her family and speak with me to earn her vote, I have had no reason not to at least show up to a monthly ACLU meeting.”

We live in a historical time with an unpredictable president and a federal government shorn of much of it’s power to be a balancing element to Wall Street.  Many of us are realizing that democracy isn’t just about voting, its also about meetings after a work-day full of meetings, its about giving up time with family on the weekends, its about more bodies ‘showing up’ at local community halls.

So thanks!  Thanks to those who went out of their comfort zone yesterday and marched for reason.  Thanks to those elected servants, whether on the same side of the aisle as me or not, because I understand a little more now the sacrifice given to serve. Thanks to those ‘showing up’ more and more at local meetings and events, investing your time to ensure that democracy prevails at this moment in history.  Mostly, thanks for all those who, over decades of dedication, have consistently shown up, even when the socio-political weather was fair.   You are exemplary and encouraging.

Yours,

Frankie


Climate Change

Children stay home from school so mom and dad avoid the ICE men.

My, how the climate has changed.

I smile at the pretty woman with the beautiful, colorful scarves around her head, she smiles back.

We both know this small interaction is meaningful in a world where prejudice and profiling are becoming the norm.

Why do I feel as if I’m something special just for having given her my silent acceptance?

I can only say that it is because of the climate change.

City councils, county supervisors, debate and argue about whether or not to be a place of ‘sanctuary’.

Walls built, invisible or monolithic, to keep them out and keep us in,

Where contention and ideologies clash and drive us into just another desperate nation.

Wow, has the climate changed.

Sons disavowing parents, relationships rent over fact vs. fiction, journalism vs. propaganda, country vs. party.

Facebook friends blocked, or blocked yourself.  Twitter is a national diary, faithfully recording the reactions of a president and his populace.

Social media and media conflate our anxiety, smoldering anger gives way to hateful outbursts, violence, and abuse.

Damn, how the climate’s changed.

Uncertainty becomes a way of life, we once knew where we stood and we were really that exceptional, not anymore.

Gyroscopes of truths surround our thought habitat.  It is difficult to find our balance and so we become animals again; obeying instinct, forgetting reason.

No wonder fear is marketable, and so greedily consumed.

Have you noticed that the climate has changed?

Can we weather this storm and keep the damage to a minimum?

Will we find a way to overcome our fear and realize that we can stand together about certain things, that justice and human rights are non-negotiable?

Does the ship of our constitution have the wherewithal to navigate these uncharted waters with just a few frail masts and an even more frail wooden frame?

I wonder, these days, how we will survive this climate change.

 


Dark Age II

Shut Out the World, Turn Inward on Ourselves

Usher in the Dark Age.

Forego Checks and Balances, Leave all Rules Behind

Usher in the Dark Age.

Fire without Warning, Reality TV Politics

Usher in the Dark Age.

Condemn Free Speech, Despise the Fourth Estate

Usher in the Dark Age.

Mute the Scientists, Deafen the Populace

Usher in the Dark Age.

Revoke Dissenting Opinion, Claim it’s for ‘Your Good’

Usher in the Dark Age.

Truth becomes Irrelevant, Alternative Facts Laid Bare

Usher in the Dark Age.

Privatize the Public, Deregulate what is Healthy

Usher in the Dark Age.

Ignore the Constitution, Fleece Your Own Nation…

Disheveled White Men

Usher in the American Dark Age.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Nook, Current Events, and a Sampling

Caysee Rides: A Story of Freedom, and Friendship is now available on Barnes and Noble’s Nook.   I am excited to be able to publish on this venue as well and look forward to connecting to a wider audience  (also published on Amazon’s Kindle).

In light of current events, the timing of this release is fortuitous.   With an uncertain political landscape taking form, conjectures about things such as California’s succession from the union and state’s rights are being discussed more openly and with sincerity.

In formulating the circumstances of Caysee’s story, I felt compelled to stay true to a somewhat plausible post-United States scenario, utilizing my historian’s eye in the process, and sourcing from Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine.    The connections of today’s sociopolitical climate and the possibility of a state-driven republic are wholly relevant in Caysee Rides. 

I leave with you a sampling from the book, in which the reader learns the history of the breakup of the United States and the subsequent formations of Provinces; with the exception of the Pacific Republic which I further examine here.

Thank you for reading,

A grateful Frankie

“So many people died. It must have been awful.”  Caysee only thought of her parents, she just now realized that other people lost loved ones as well.

“It was.  Still is.  I don’t think anyone expected the country to be split up and separated the way it happened.  We aren’t used to closed and guarded borders, but it was the only way that the Execs could get their way and be successful, too many people opposed the corporate takeover.”  MeeMaw was dishing out large portions of mashed potatoes, fried chicken, and green beans on their plates as she spoke, “So many, in fact, that it became a serious threat to them and they eventually just decided to militarize the entire nation to keep everyone in line, that’s when the Exec Revolution started. ” 

“How were the Provinces were formed?  What was it like before?” Caysee wondered.

MeeMaw sat down to her own plate, a heavy sigh gave away her exhaustion, “I don’t know how much of early U.S. history you know but in the beginnings of the Old Nation the states were hell bent on having their own rights, separate from the central government.  If I remember right the idea was to keep a balance of power and make sure the central government didn’t have too much. The issue of slavery became too big to ignore though and tested the fragile relationship between the central government and the state’s rights.  The Southern states soon declared their independence from the Union and set up their own shop, so to speak, elected their own president and everything.  Once the Civil War came to an end, the Confederacy, as they called themselves was welcome back into the Union but the states never really got over the loss of their independence.  When the chance came for them to separate again during the Exec Revolution, they grabbed it without hesitation. The South set up their own government, built fences around their borders and pledged to keep everyone out.   After that, the Execs sort of just split the rest up into convenient chunks according to their purposes and called them Provinces. But there were enough people and resources in the Pacific Republic states that they decided they wanted complete independence from the New Republic.  They didn’t want Execs running their business, they wanted to keep the democracy intact, and they had the ability to feed themselves, so they built their own border, and that’s how the New Republic came to be the patchwork of Provinces that it is now.”

“Everett mentioned that people try to escape the Confederacy just to go work in the NP.  Things must be bad there if the NP is where they want to go.” 

“Well, even before the Revolution, the south was a bit of a backwater, poverty stricken and closed minded.   Once the Province sealed itself up, all of those issues became worse, apparently thousands alone died of starvation and disease.  They keep closed off from the rest of the world; many people try to escape just so their children have a chance at a better education.”

Mac’s matter-of-fact voice broke into the serious narrative, “Right.  There aren’t many choices in the NP, but I can see how it would be better than a life completely cut off from the rest of the world.”


New Year, New Ideas: Employ Compassion, Not Empathy

Wanna know the next big thing for the new year?  Understanding the difference between empathy (and its apparent detriment to our decision making) and compassion.

I first heard about the notion via a podcast of Sam Harris’ in which he interviews Paul Bloom concerning the newly released book, the idea as a whole, and the distinction between the two terms:  their essence and their impact on social behavior.  It is an enlightening listen (By the way, I highly recommend Sam Harris “Waking Up” weekly podcast as some of the most excellent mind food a person can consume on a regular basis.  Warning: not for the fainthearted).    I offer these two references as further reading/review of the book: Why Empathy is Bad and Against Empathy .   I especially appreciated the social worker’s perception on ‘real life-applicable-pragmatic’ lessons in dichotomizing the two characteristics within the profession.

It will be imperative for us all, moving forward in the next few months, to understand the difference between these two elements as we attempt to cross the social divides that are becoming more obvious post-election.  We will each need to reach out compassionately to the neighbor whom we feel betrayed us in the voting booth, whichever way that went. We will need to employ a great deal of understanding and rational decision making while we try to unify some semblance of a majority against corporate plans to amend our constitution.

We have some serious work for ourselves, individually, in order to maintain a civil society – especially considering the unstable, insecure reality in which we live. It behooves us to investigate the difference between empathy and compassion so that we might employ the right tools when appropriate.   I can think of no better way to begin a new year, than with this new perspective and its useful applications.

Here’s to new information.

Yours,

Frankie

 

 


Thanksgiving Manifesto

There is much for which I can be thankful.

I have three healthy boys that have grown to be great young men who seem likely to contribute positively to society.  I have a husband who loves and supports me.   I am healthy.  I have a handful of siblings who are my heroes, each in their own way.  I have a couple of dogs that keep me warm on cold winter nights.

And after the results of the recent election, I find I am especially thankful for the freedoms we have in our nation.  As a writer, I truly enjoy the freedom I have  to know that I can write about anything and have no fear over being arrested for my views.    I can press a button and publish a writ that hundreds can read, think, and decide upon, hopefully making us all better people in the process.

I do not take this freedom for granted, and today, more than ever, I am Thankful for it.

It sounds a bit conspiracy-theory-ish, but I worry about us writers.   We now have a president elect who has demonstrably attacked the press, time and time again.   We have a president elect who’s ties to Russia are disconcerting ( his son sat in on a call with the nation-state over the Syria issue).   We have a leader who can’t take any kind of humor or disagreement.   As a writer, these are deeply concerning issues.

My writing is a small bleep on anyone’s radar, I know, but a bleep nonetheless and in the current environment it’s not a simple matter of just pressing the ‘publish’ button. It’s a matter of weighing each posting, getting it right, ensuring that truth gets its time in the light and that  the unprecedented does not become normalized.   Now more than ever, I will write with all conviction and utilzation of the freedom of speech we have in our nation. No longer will I take this freedom for granted.  It absolutely is the thing I am most grateful for today.

And to my fellow writers , I encourage you to do the same: excercise the beautiful freedom of expression and speech that is part of the bedrock of our nation.  To do less at this moment in history is to fail to live up to the expectations of our forefathers for a healthy commonwealth.

May your thanksgiving be full of new memories, may we exemplify our gratitude for the freedom of speech as writers by making our voice heard and keeping the wheels of creativity churning. 

Yours,

Frankie 
 

 


Civil Grief

There was a time when we could count on civility.  There was a moment in our history when we could actually respect another’s opinion, maybe even weigh it against our own with no harm, and then move on without a grudge, without name calling, without hostility.   We enjoyed a rare exhibit of humanity when an election was over;  when the people had spoken, we accepted the outcome and went on with our lives, knowing that the constitution and reasonable compromise would prevail.  I was taught this in school and in church, and it was exemplified by my elders and former national leaders.

It’s become increasingly apparent that civility is a lost quality in our nation.  This should concern us all.

It began with the election of the current president and a remark from a senator that the commander-in-chief would only get ‘one term’.   It gained momentum when the house speaker in charge couldn’t (or wouldn’t) lead his cabal and a power play over the national budget suddenly became evening news fodder.   It culminated when a law, upheld by the checks and balances of the supreme court, was repeatedly voted upon for repeal (or parts of the law as some would clarify – either way, the inability to accept the high court’s decision  has marred our national landscape).

It continues with this election cycle.  We have witnessed some atrocious behavior towards one another.   We don’t respect each other’s opinion, instead we resort to name calling and vitriolic attacks on friends and family.   This isn’t civility, it’s anarchy.  This isn’t democracy, it’s tyranny.  This isn’t respect, it’s cynicism.

We.  Are.  Better.  Than.  This.

I understand there is fear, but there is peace with unity.  I get that there is lack of integrity, but we can have great confidence in reason.

We will elect a new leader tomorrow.  May we honor the votes, honor our democracy, and come together again at the end of the competition, under one flag, under one ideal and move forward once more as one –  because without civility, we  can no longer claim to uphold the torch of democracy and the “American Dream”.  We cannot exclaim that we are exceptional.

E pluribus anum.

Yours in peace,

Frankie

 


Impotent Nation

Yesterday,  I wrote a little blurb about taking a step back for a minute in the wake of all the recent shootings.  I spoke about letting reason overcome our fears and that there is room for compromise and discussion.   Yet as I typed those words, and even hoped for their fruition, I realized that we probably won’t allow ourselves the opportunity to discuss and listen and come to a middle ground, we’ll most likely continue down this path of shouting matches and shooting matches until we destroy one another.  We’ve been rendered impotent you see, unable to discuss and engage, unwilling to lay down perceived notions and take up another for even a second.   As a democracy we are currently unreachable and unteachable.   I hold the Koch brothers, our current President, and our 111th and 112th congress entirely, utterly responsible.

A nation is only as good as its leaders and our leaders have robbed us of the ability to have any sort of national discussion about anything.    Consider Mitch McConnell’s message that we need to make sure President Obama is only a one term president (I know there are arguments over the ‘context’ of this comment, I’m not buying them.  Actions, in this case, back up the literal interpretation of the statement, I’m inclined to believe that he meant exactly what he said.)  There’s been time after time the past eight years where congress has not just failed to communicate, they’ve refused to communicate altogether.  President Obama’s unwillingness to open up the TransPacificPartnership for examination makes an absolute mockery of the democratic process for which our soldiers ostensibly fight.

During the writing of the Magna Carta, in the aftermath of the storming of the Bastille, when the forefathers of the United States meted out a document intent on keeping a balance of power and enabling democracy – compromise, not stubbornness, led to growth and vitality.   Enlightenment, openness,  and opportunity guided the ideals and produced healthy nations that went on to become world leaders.  To the shame of our democracy, we currently witness political leaders on both sides of the aisle who blatantly and very publicly refuse to bear the burden of their democratic duty and moral responsibility of engaging in public discourse.     They are goaded thusly, thanks to secret meetings comprised of Wall Street’s elite of the elite where strategy sessions for the best way to gain and keep control of the government include this very  notion of an uncooperative spirit. (See Jane Mayer’s most recent work, “Dark Money,” Doubleday, New York, 2016). The results have manifested themselves in the form of a stagnate economy and an obviously broken society.

So while I wrote with hope and an admittedly idealistic tone, I lamented with each letter and form of punctuation.   I fear we are too far gone.  I am deeply concerned that we’ve already dug our heals in considering the actions of our leaders who have proven to possess an inordinate inability to engage and compromise, and accounting for the echoing sentiments of the ‘us vs. them’ narrative ubiquitous on social media the past several hours.

Today, I write about a new hope.  I hope that I am mistaken about my conclusion.   I  hope we haven’t crossed some point of no return and we can muster the strength to empathize. But if the last decade of leadership and our own reaction to these most recent events is any indication, we are now an impotent nation with regards to conversation and meeting in the middle, and my hope is in vain.

May I be proven wrong….

Frankie