Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Political Rant

This is Not Normal – people keep saying and writing, and it’s on a T-shirt I acquired last week at a Litquake reading by writers against Trump. I am not the only one who noticed back in July, or earlier, the authoritarian and fascistic tone of Trump’s campaign. It’s only getting worse.
Every other word out of his mouth is a lie and now his executive orders forbid federal agencies from sharing information with the public, and his press secretary spouts clear untruths while advising the public to reject all sources other than Trump for news and information.
And it’s starting to harm our country. Not only with the wave of misogynist assaults, racist violence, swastikas and bomb threats against Jews, and general open bigotry. But Trump’s mixture of careless, thoughtless, defiantly ignorant words and tweets is offending foreign countries that have been reliable trading partners of ours, and is destabilizing already shaky structures that keep the planet from stumbling into World War III.

And don’t get me started on his disregard for national security. Orange Twitler uses an unsecured phone to spew his babblings onto the world stage. He chats with world leaders with his family (business partners) in the room. He refuses to release his tax returns, which would reveal the extent of his business relationships with foreign powers and which business would profit from his role as President, or to divest from his businesses, making it perfectly clear that the presidency is already being used to increase the profits of the Trump Organization. That’s not just a whopping great conflict of interest, that’s treason.

Technically, treason is actions taken to help a foreign government to seriously injure our nation, and his careless tweets that damage America’s standing among nations arguably qualify. And then there’s the Emoluments Clause, which bars federal office holders from being paid by foreign governments. Well, foreign diplomats stay at Trump hotels all the time, putting money directly into Trump’s coffers. As it happens, the fee to join the Mar-a-Lago resort has just been doubled because the prospect of access to Trump raises its value to citizens and foreigners alike. The president is supposed to be a public servant, not a public plunderer.

Trump’s continued bullying braggadocio about making Mexico pay for a border wall has already caused the Mexican president to cancel a planned visit to America. Any self-respecting nation will decide to ignore America until we get a sane adult for a leader.

And why do news organizations keep reporting on his middle-of-the-night tweets? They need to pare down that coverage to the absolute minimum, and focus on his actions. Such as the pile of executive orders that’s on pace to outstrip the (so-called by Republicans) executive over-reach of President Obama in no time flat, orders against the Affordable Care Act, sanctuary cities, and government scientists.

And how about the henchmen and women he’s chosen to run the government? How about Rex Tillerson for our Secretary of State? His entire career working for the oil giant Exxon, and he’s been so helpful to Russia than they gave him the “Order of Friendship.” The role of Russia in the election and its treatment by the Trump administration raise many more questions than answers.

And he’s bestowing cabinet posts on half a dozen Wall Street Goldman Sachs alumni instead of keeping his promise to “drain the swamp” of Washington insiders in power. And, apparently to get an African-American on board, he appoints Dr. Ben Carson, who first declined a cabinet post because of his lack of experience, to be in charge of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, for which he is totally unqualified. Among the very few female nominees is Betsy deVos, a billionaire campaign donor who’s never attended or taught in a public school, to head the Education Department. She’s a big fan of unregulated charter schools, and would funnel money there instead of to the public schools where some 90% of our children are educated.

I guess my fears fall into three main piles. One pile would apply to any Republican administration, which would do its best to undo the last eight years of progress: to wreck the economy, throw millions off health insurance, deport millions of undocumented immigrants, end marriage equality, and ban abortion. Their goal would be to take the country back 50-100 years.

Pile two is the special threat posed by having for President a narcissistic, megalomaniacal, dictatorial ignoramus who is surrounded by yes-men and sycophants, who spews crass, bigoted, self-obsessed, demonstrably false garbage instead of learning about his job and America and the world. He’ll cut us off from the rest of the world or trigger a nuclear holocaust with complete unawareness of the consequences of his actions.

Pile three is the trouble that could be caused by the power he is giving to bigots and haters who now feel free to assault, disparage, and disregard folks who are different from them. More to the point, I fear the rise of a new American fascism. There is evidence in a Trump divorce proceeding that he studied the speeches of Hitler. And his own speeches strike similar notes and are eerily effective at calling on peoples’ worst natures, getting them to vote against their own self-interest and to act badly. And he has managed to convince millions of people to believe propositions that are demonstrably not true. Or, worse, to convince them that the actual facts are not knowable or are unimportant. Just believe what Trump says (or what he’s saying today), and all will be well. Because he is the strongest, smartest, bestest person in the room, and thus is the only person who can save America from the horrible, disastrous state it is in. Pay no attention to the facts—that the economy is vastly improved from eight years ago, that American auto-makers are thriving, that the hemorrhaging of jobs stopped, and that private sector jobs have grown every month for a historically long period of time. That the stock market is blooming and even wages are starting to rise.

Republicans refuse to acknowledge any of this progress, but nevertheless want to reverse it, in the name of “small government,” and deficit reduction. Problem is, at the same time, the GOP is extending ever more government power into bedrooms, bathrooms, doctors’ offices, and women’s bodies (no men’s bodies, of course). They want to cut spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in order to buy excessive military weapons, a border fence, and millions of deportations, that will, at the very least, make America less safe from terrorism. What happened to all the promised spending on roads, bridges, airports, and other infrastructure?

Many purported Christians voted for him because they thought he was one. They thought he would enforce their values, and resist the spread of tolerance for diversity. The First Amendment comes first for good reasons. Everyone has the right to exercise their own religion in this country, as long as they don’t harm others or prevent others from exercising theirs. Congress must not pass any laws establishing one religion over another. You are free to uphold your own morals only upon your co-religionists. If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one. You have no right to deny me the right to have one. You don’t believe in same-sex marriage? Don’t have one; don’t officiate when your own members seek one. But if you conduct a public business, you must serve all customers: black, brown, straight, or gay. And doctors do not have a right to refuse to treat patients they consider unworthy. Free exercise of religion does not include a right to discriminate against other religions. And if you run a business, you must provide health insurance to your employees under the same rules that apply to all employers. And pay women and men the same wages for the same work, and so on.

And let’s consider the Second Amendment, shall we? Although it explicitly concerns militias, a Republican-dominated Supreme Court has found a constitutional right for individuals to own guns. The most powerful lobby in our nation, the National Rifle Association, has blocked any and all legislation that could keep guns away from people who should not have them. And the NRA blocks research into how to address our epidemic of handgun deaths. Hell, we can’t even keep guns out of the hands of toddlers, who shoot somebody every week in this country, often fatally. And the NRA protects arms manufacturers from even trying out safety measures that could keep a gun from being fired by anyone other than its owner. During the last decade or so, gun ownership in America has doubled from two weapons for every man, woman, and child to four weapons for every man, woman, and child. Nobody needs that many ways to cause injury and death. Is it not clear by now that the NRA does not serve citizens? Its obvious goal is to maximize the profits of gun-makers. This is underlined by the fact that not even the slaughter of school children could get past its influence to institute the mildest rules on background checks or assault weapons.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Diminishing Returns

I feel compelled to report that my memories and orgasms grow weaker with repetition.

My most precious memories lose detail and strength every time I review them. Soon they become as blurry and featureless as a photocopy of a photocopy, of a photocopy, down to the tenth generation. Every time there is less emotion, less strength, less everything. Until I put the memory away on a shelf and hope that it regains some strength with rest.

The same thing happens to me with orgasms, whether solo or duo. Each succeeding time, it is harder to achieve and less powerful, until it won't come at all and i give up. Experience tells me that my orgasmic capacity does regenerate with time, thank heavens, but I'm not a fan of this law of diminishing returns.

My First Demonstration

The first time I marched in a demonstration, the clamor of rain hitting umbrellas drowned out the speakers.

The ecumenibus had brought gay Lutherans, Jews, Catholics, and Episcopalians to Sacramento to march for legislation to protect folks from homophobic employers. I had come with a seasoned campaigner and had followed his advice to bring an extra set of clothes in a plastic bag.

I bought a button commemorating the march, which would grow into a collection, and marched proudly with my group, Lutherans Concerned for Gay and Lesbian Understanding. At the end of the march, we stood in a downpour to hear encouraging words from the leaders of the effort and our political allies. But the rain thundering down on our umbrellas made their words unintelligible.

Back on the bus, in dry clothes, I felt so proud to be part of a savvy group that was working for such a worthy goal. I had tried on the role of activist, and it fit.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

My Book is Published!

A few days after I approved the final text, my publishing consultant from Xlibris called to let me know that my book was live on And there it was! The paperback edition of Tales of a Seeker: A Spiritual Anthology, by Dana Vinicoff, is now available for your purchase at the low, low price of $15.99!

The listings for the book are not complete; only the paperback edition is available now. A link for the Kindle edition should appear in due course, along with a description of the contents of the book. Complete listings in various online purveyors could take as long as two months, but I'm ecstatic already.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Stitches are Out!

Of my kitty's heel, and the vet said I did an excellent job of nursing her. (Imagine me patting myself on the back.)

On the other hand, there was a tiny spot where the skin was not altogether closed, so I need to keep her indoors and in the cone for a few more days.

You can't win them all.

Post-Election Music

I listened to music on the car radio this morning after I had heard enough news about the election: Clinton's concession speech, Obama's reminder that all Americans are on the same team, and how, as outgoing President Bush did his best to pass the baton for a successful transfer of power to Obama's team, so will his White House do its best for the team of the incoming president elect, and, hopefully, through them, for this 240-year-old republic. I hope that this ship of state is so vast that it will not be sunk by a single election.

Anyway, music has charms to soothe the troubled. As yesterday's election stress grew to a peak, I saw an animated movie and tapped my feet along with the bouncy music. That was soothing and comforting, and kept me in a hopeful frame of mind, despite the existential terror I felt at the prospect of a Trump administration, until the election results could no longer be denied.

And this morning, when the music followed Obama's words of peace and hope, I felt a knot begin to loosen in my chest. I promised myself to listen to a Brahms symphony or two when I get home. I hoped the music would further loosen the knot and remind me that art lives on, and that defeat and death are not the end of all that is good.

I hoped the music would help me open my eyes to every possible sign of hope in the coming days. That it would remind me that half of my fellow Americans are not evil sheep who yearn for a home-grown Third Reich. That I could hope that not everyone who voted for Trump is as profoundly bigoted, misogynistic, anti-semitic, homophobic, and devoid of integrity, honesty, or character as he clearly is. Not to mention vengeful. If he believes in anything other than his own excellence, it's in taking revenge on anyone who slights him. And I really don't want to live in a country where retribution is the chief concern of government.

But getting back to music, it's mathematical and emotional, and simple and true. It doesn't lie; it simply is what it is. And its essence is to speak to each listener about what she is open to hearing. And to nudge us into opening and hearing a little more as it goes on, and with each repetition.

The sound waves help organize our brainwaves and heartbeats, and all the rhythms in our bodies. And our cells are happy to be yoked in harmony to each other; they rush to their duties with renewed strength, vigor, and eagerness to share in a greater whole.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Election Stress

A medical practitioner of mine told me a few weeks ago that all her patients were complaining of election stress.

And today I heard a piece on NPR about it. One producer got saliva samples from people who were listening to one of the presidential debates, and found significantly elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Interestingly, the levels were higher in Republicans than Democrats.

I think the difference is because the Republican candidate stirs up fear, anger, and hatred, which are more stressful than positive emotions of hope and determination.

At any rate, I've lost some weight because the stress has hurt my appetite and digestion. The weight loss is a good thing; the indigestion is not.

I can't wait until this endless election is over and we start putting our country back together.