Category Archives: Democracy

U2 2018 “Love is all we have left”

I nearly spat out my Irish Breakfast tea when I read the LA Timesreview of the May 15, 2018 U2 concert I had attended at the Los Angeles Forum.

Music feeds the soul, the heart. It makes you feel. It celebrates the freedom of expression and the power of possibility. The LA Times reviewer over-intellectualized the event.

I saw four masterful musicians on fire, commanding the three connected stages set up so that the band could move from one to the next and play to the entire crowd.

Fearless. Kinesthetic. Urgent. All four musicians transformed their entire bodies into their instruments.

Staging
Imagery that, at times, resembled minimalistic modern art, vintage photographs, and projections of U2’s performance dominated two huge screens. One screen ran the length of the runway stage connecting the other two stages, and the other one sat atop the circular stage in the middle of the arena. Sophisticated engineering allowed all of this, yet did not detract from the simplicity of the staging.

Love Is All We Have Left
Love Is All We Have Leftis the title of one of their new songs. Its six words are exactly a sign of the times and give voice to those who long for social justice. Those few words serve as a reminder of:

  • The power and essence of love
  • Sadness regarding oppression and what has been lost
  • Hope

New Year’s Day
I experienced the concert with my 19-year-old son at my side.

At his age, I heard U2’s New Year’s Day for the first time on KROQ and saw colors. I was not high. I did not hallucinate. Rather, the song prompted colors, auras, in my mind. Rivers of bright colors flowed through my thoughts about halfway through the song, which evoked longing, anticipation, and the giddiness of being in love.


My son and I at U2 concert.

New Year’s Day also represents a far more profound story, the story of the victory of the Polish Solidarity Movement as detailed in this January 2018 article in IrishCentral.

Pride (In The Name of Love)
During their rendition of Pride (In the name of Love), historic images detailing Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s civil rights journey displayed on the giant screens. SongFacts details the evolution of the song. The song not only tells the story of Dr. Martin Luther King’s courage and message; it inspires.

Bono quotes. I find one of his quotes comforting exactly now:

“Music can change the world, because it can change people,” Bono.

 

 

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Bernie Sanders’ Our Revolution Seeks to Educate, Empower, and Emancipate as do the many women running for office in 2018

Inspired by the Orange County Women’s March today and all the passionate individuals I met volunteering for Laura Oatman (48th Congressional District) and other organizations and candidates, I am blogging this. I never got around to pitching it for publication when the book came out November, 2016. (It’s not quite final draft; it has not been professionally edited.)

Reading Our Revolution was like jumping off the high dive and hitting the surface gasping for air. Sometimes, knowledge hurts. I considered myself fairly well informed regarding politics; after reading this book I realized that I had been deluding myself, especially regarding recent key legislation that reconfigured our economy. As detrimental to most as this legislation has been, equally demoralizing has been the prevalence and influence of disinformation and an array of ignorant attitudes that are part of U.S. culture.

Part autobiography, part campaign strategy, part blueprint for progressives, Our Revolution takes you inside Congress and depicts the unlikely tenure of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (since 1949, one of only six third-party candidates elected to the House of Representatives, and one of only seven third-party candidates elected to the Senate). Sanders’ first became an elected official 36 years ago when he became mayor of Vermont’s largest city, Burlington. His Burlington legacy includes the revitalization of Burlington’s economy along with progressive municipal policies during his eight years as its mayor. The city runs entirely on renewable electricity and still boasts a large housing development that is resident owned, a supermarket that is a consumer-owned cooperative, and a worker-owned private employer.

Our Revolution also details Sanders’ unlikely bid for the presidency in 2015 and 2016. Although he did not succeed in upsetting Hilary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, he came awfully close, and he did succeed in convincing Clinton to make her platform more progressive, such as making college education free for most.

This book is so compelling, because its voice is so plainspoken. Sanders is one of us. He seems to have written it straight from his heart and soul. Certain scenes in the book will forever haunt me, such as the public forum in which Sanders chatted with a Flint, Michigan mom who comforted her daughter, a once bright and inquisitive youngster, now a placid special ed student courtesy of lead poisoning from tainted water.

Does corporate media threaten our democracy?
Chapter 10: Corporate Media and the Threat to our Democracy opens with, “Today, a handful of multinational corporations own much of the media and control what the American people see, hear, and read. This is a direct threat to American democracy.” Sanders shares his disillusionment with the media, due to its lack of coverage of issues critical to working families. He recounts a 2013 press conference regarding the future of social security that received almost no media coverage, despite the fact the press conferences participants were representatives of organizations such as AARP, which in total represented 50 million Americans.

Does corporate media help to sabotage our healthcare system?
I write about mental health. What astounds me is that because of superficial coverage in mainstream media, depression is still such a mystery to most, despite the conclusive research that exists as to its treatment and causes, some of it decades old. It still is not common knowledge that exercise is the most effective treatment for mild to moderate depression, that depression can be a by-product of other illnesses, that many lifestyle factors influence depression, and that bipolar depression generally results from faulty circadian rhythms.

What drew me to Bernie Sanders was his advocacy of a single-payer healthcare system. I too view healthcare as a right, not a privilege. We’re not talking Botox treatments or tummy tucks here, but basic preventive, coordinated care. Sanders details how to fund this. The state of Indiana is an example of how this system could work. It embraced the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by expanding its Medicaid eligibility and coverage, and paid for the expansion by analyzing its healthcare delivery and improving preventive practices such as improving follow-up of cardiac patients that resulted in lower rates of readmission.

Has recent legislation headed the U.S. toward oligarchy?
What Sanders does so well is explain how the recent changes in several pieces of key legislation created our current political landscape. The Clinton Administration’s repeal of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, put in place after risky and destructive bank practices led to the Great Depression, enabled large commercial banks to merge with investment banks and led to the 2008 Wall Street crash and the Great Recession.

The Supreme Court’s 2010 vote on Citizens United allowed corporations and billionaires to donate unlimited funds to “independent expenditures” such as front groups with names such as “Concerned Citizens for Tax Reform” that support candidates in return for political favors. Sanders was the only candidate not to have the backing of a super PAC or front group behind him, and he argues that since the Citizens United decision, the U.S. is headed toward oligarchy, a system in which a small group of individuals controls the entire country.

In 2013, the Supreme Court repealed key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act “that required states and local governments that have demonstrated a pattern of discrimination to clear with the federal government any proposed changes to their voting laws.” Within days of the repeal, many states passed laws that made it harder to vote, such as requiring a state-issued ID to vote, restricting early voting, eliminating same-day registration, creating fewer polling places, and aggressively purging voter rolls. These new laws mainly kept poor people from voting.

Revised legislation also expedited the redistribution of wealth. Sanders includes some startling statistics, such as “… 52% of all new income generated in this country is now going to the top 1 percent,” “… the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%, and “…in 1979, the top one-tenth of 1 percent owned about 7 percent of the wealth in this country. Today it owns 22 percent.”

Creating a future with opportunity for all
As a woman, a mother, and a U.S. citizen, I was traumatized by watching Donald Trump win the presidential election — a man who got away with mistreating women, menacing his opponent and disregarding facts during the debates, boasting about filing for bankruptcy repeatedly and not paying income tax for 19 years, and so many other actions that display a willingness to do whatever it takes to make enormous sums of money no matter what the cost to individuals, communities, and the environment. Reading this book six weeks after the election comforted me and gave me hope.

Sanders’ campaign slogan was “A Future to Believe In.” “Part Two: An Agenda for a New America: How we Transform Our Country” sums up his intricate plans to reorganize the federal government in such a way as to provide healthcare, social security, improved infrastructure, and educational opportunity for every citizen. For example, he would fund free college by imposing a small financial transaction tax of .5 percent on stock trades, .1 percent on bond trades, and .005 percent on derivative trades.

Our Revolution’s publisher, St. Martin’s Press, should create a shorter book out of its second part “An Agenda for a New America: How We Transform Our Country” and use more charts and graphs to emphasize the startling statistics as well as the accounting and other remedies Sanders recommends.

Sanders emphasizes that creating a future to believe in depends on grassroots organizing, adapting laws to protect the vulnerable, challenging the power brokers, and working collaboratively. He dedicated the book to his volunteers and ends his dedication to them with, “Don’t give up. The struggle must continue.”

 

 

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Bill Clinton, power, and denial

Bill Clinton has never owned his egregious misbehavior with women. He is a symbol of our culture of denial, in which charisma, money, and power mean that you can take advantage of anyone less powerful.

To be the most powerful man in the most powerful country and to take advantage of a 22-year-old woman working for you and then to smarmily split hairs over what type of sexual contact took place…

A few years back I read all of the sexual assault accounts against him through the years, and at least one seemed absolutely credible.

That’s the problem with rape, even if physical evidence is immediately collected, it boils down to one person’s word against another.

Bill Clinton’s word became meaningless to me. Any politician who has him endorse them, I really question their integrity.

Bill Clinton also pooh-poohs that the Glass-Steagall Act disappeared on his watch. The legislation that kept investment banking and commercial banking separate was the lesson learned from The Great Depression and lasted from 1933 to 1999. Economics is tricky, and it is difficult to assess the magnitude of the repeal of Glass-Steagall.

I am so sick of politicians who are out of touch. Those with integrity still exist. Senator Elizabeth Warren for one who co-authored The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle Class Parents are Going Broke.

 

 

 

 

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What Donald Trump could learn from the NFL

Integrity. Colin Kapernik had the courage to use his platform to make a statement, to force us to dump our cultural denial, to start a conversation, to make things better.

The NFL brings joy and community to so many Americans. Football gives youth something to look forward to, an outlet that helps them concentrate in school, strategic thinking skills, physical fitness, and teamwork. (It needs to figure out a way to make tackling safer. I vote for touch football until 18… but that’s a separate issue.)

Donald Trump is the most thin-skinned, negative celebrity I can recall. Make America Great Again? More like, Make America Hate Again.

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It’s time to listen hard

“I think we’re going to be OK.” President Barack Obama.

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” Dalai Lama

Actions speak louder than words, and listening involves not only the five senses, but the sixth one too — intuition.

I listened to Standing Rock, and what I heard is love of the earth and so much more.

I listened to Senator Bernie Sanders and voted for him in the Democratic primary, because he has integrity, has the ability to imagine humanistic solutions and realize them, and knows how to compromise. He shows respect for his fellow Senators and Congressmen. He shows respect for everyone.

I voted for Hilary Clinton in the general election, because I think she is sane. And compassionate. I had many reservations though… the Wall Street speeches, the Clinton Foundation (couldn’t they have fund raised for other foundations), that Glass-Steagell disappeared under her husband’s watch, which led to the Great Recession, that her husband never owned his mistreatment of women…

Every time I listen to President-elect Donald Trump or hear of his Cabinet choices, my chest tightens, my heart beats rapidly, and I imagine more and more working poor, more real jobs being outsourced, more beneath-subsistence jobs created in the U.S.  (who needs slavery when you can work for Wal-Mart), more denial in regards to climate change and environmental abuse (lead-poisoned and lung-damaged children for example), civil rights abuses, and even worse outcomes….

I pray to keep hearing President Obama’s words and those of my favorite president…

“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt

 

 

 

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Courage requires a thick skin

If you want everyone to like you, then you shouldn’t be a writer Steven King noted in his masterpiece on writing, On Writing.

Sensitivity often goes hand in hand with having a “thin skin,” keenly sensing others’ emotions. This election year has driven home to me that courageous individuals willing to fight for what they believe in are somehow able to withstand intense criticism, bullying, and sometimes even sabotage and hatred.

Today’s Los Angeles Times article, Soldier for the climate change cause, about scientist Ben Santer who is willing to get way out of his comfort zone, articulate the extreme significance of climate change, and subject himself to decades of intense criticism made my day.

There have been so many others. Michael Moore’s 5 Point Plan for 2017 is hilarious and practical.

 

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Purple pain: President Elect Donald Trump

I am not through mourning witnessing the free-flow expression of contempt for fellow human beings, the disengagement, and the effect of disinformation that became apparent the morning of November 9.

Trump changed everything. Now everything counts, an article by Barbara Kingsolver in The Guardian lists the potential loss of human rights and dignity, “Losses are coming at us in these areas: freedom of speech and the press; women’s reproductive rights; affordable healthcare; security for immigrants and Muslims; racial and LGBTQ civil rights; environmental protection; scientific research and education; international cooperation on limiting climate change; international cooperation on anything; any restraints on who may possess firearms; restraint on the upper-class wealth accumulation that’s gutting our middle class; limits on corporate influence over our laws.”

I am so sick of hearing “the media.” As if celebrity gossip outlets, every variation of television news, newspapers that strive for objective reporting, National Public Radio (NPR), and every blogger and Internet site are equivalent. And fake news…

Without objective reporting, I would feel hopeless. I found this LA Times news feature helpful, A primer on executive power: Trump can’t end same-sex marriages, but he could speed up deportations.

This election made me realize how incredibly hard life had become for a lot of Americans. Through NPR, newspapers, magazines, and legitimate Internet sites, I also see a lot of Americans willing to stand up for human rights and dignity, and for this I am very grateful.

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