Oh my goodness! I had no idea exactly how long it has been since I’ve been here. But inspiring thoughts have been in short supply this year. Well, since December 11, when I wrote last. Other than the chronic outrage I’ve felt since the election of Donald Trump (whose name I find difficult to speak, so I typically just refer to him as 45.) Those who follow and support him (amongst the “real Americans”) who truly do not care what he does, even if everything he has done works against their interests. And the people in his administration are the most corrupt I have ever seen, and that means even more than Dick Cheney-exponentially more because it is everyone in his administration, and he slimed every Republican member of congress by promising them that they could do whatever heinous thing they have been waiting to do since 1974. Cutting Medicare and Medicaid, diminishing the rights of women, diminishing voting rights, especially of people of color, working tirelessly to keep anyone out of this country except white, heterosexual christians. Every time I hear the things my senators say I feel the lies. And this feeling is disturbing me to my core. I have finally taken to Twitter, and followed legislators from Texas simply because I want to be able to respond to them immediately. And while I have had one response from one of my senators, they typically don’t respond to liberals, I still tweet because other Texans do respond (most of them positively) and if I can inspire a few Texans to get involved and note these creeps out, then I feel being ignored by the guys we hired to represent us might actually get the firing they deserve.
There have been inspiring personal moments though. Watching my daughter in law, who lives in Illinois, grow with the grandson who is expected on my 60th birthday. (Yes, I know the baby decides! So I will be only mildly disappointed if that doesn’t happen.) My father is in hospice now, and his pacemaker/defibrillator will be turned off on June 15, every time we get together he is fun to be around, and very loving with his children and grandchildren. Despite his dementia, he still always gets the joke. Seeing his suffering end will not be a horrible thing, though it will be sad. We just moved from a shabby bedroom community to an old part of the city which is covered with old trees, and trails for my dogs and I to walk. There is always good to see around us, though on a micro level, if not across the country and world.
But yesterday I had one of those eureka moments when reading about the now congressman from Montana, Greg Gianforte, body slammed a reporter, and then proceeded to punch him, then having his spokesperson blame the reporter for asking a question about healthcare legislation that is being worked on in Washington. Taken with all the negative talk and behavior toward the press since 45 began running. Republicans have pretended that the press is the enemy decades now, and in my opinion it is because the Republicans would rather suppress the vote and freedom of the press because they themselves do not believe in their message. But the negative treatment toward reporters since 2015 has only grown worse, leading to them being manhandled, jeered at, excoriated, and now beat up by a congressional candidate.
It has been extensively written about how leaders install themselves as dictators by first removing press freedoms, and a plethora of warnings about how 45 is preparing to destroy our democracy and make himself supreme leader. And I have taken those warnings to heart. I am a believer in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and I’m nervous on the verge of terror at what I am seeing right now.
But back to my eureka moment. When I was in college I had a wonderful professor, Roger Whitaker (I think-it’s been a long time) who taught us much about recent American history, and the use of the press by the government and giant corporations to further an agenda. An example might be when Ralph Nader wrote the book “Unsafe at any Speed,” about the Chevrolet Corvair, the car company had no argument against the facts in the book, so they smeared him by publishing stories alluding to his sexuality. Monsanto did the same thing to Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring.” Let’s not even talk about what was done to Jane Fonda after her trip to Hanoi (for which she has profusely apologized many times over the years.) My theory of what is happening with the press has nothing to do with anything uncommon. So here it is: The “real Americans” who adore every bully moment of 45’s administration, and are whipped into a frenzy by his rants against the press, would never be mad at a reporter who published stories about the Kardashians, or Ellen, or Oprah. They love to hear about the lives of celebrities such as Honey Boo-boo and her mother. They love any published story that makes them feel better about themselves or gives them hope for having a life like that someday. They love the fake “reality” shows about people who make duck calls and chefs who berate people they are allegedly trying to to teach how to be a better chef, and stories about towing companies and home decorators, and on and on. Its the stories that are meant to expose corruption and protect them from the government that they scorn. So, 45 was a celebrity reality show star before he decided he would run for president. The people I’ve mentioned love the spectacle and circus, with no thought to what it really means for their lives. It’s good TV.
The problem is that once the freedom of the press is gone, along with all their civil liberties (which will now only belong to plutocrats,) the guns which they cling to so fiercely, always using a false interpretation of the Second Amendment, will not help them. The Second Amendment was indeed written by colonists of British rule when British soldiers had the right to enter their homes at any time, at gunpoint, and do basically whatever they wished. It was a good thing to include the clause about being allowed to arm themselves against government intrusion into the homes of citizens. But against the big guns, killer drones and more covert killing methods of government agencies, even your AK47 will not protect you.
Freedom of the press is absolutely necessary to the existence of an open and free democracy. But so is an engaged electorate, who cares about the truth of what the government is doing and what can be done about it. Kim Kardashian and her family can do nothing for you.
THE BILL OF RIGHTS – FULL TEXT
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.