Time to stand up!

indivisiblecoverI know, it is very hard to accept that the Orange Menace will hold the U.S. and a good part of the world in his tiny hands in just three days. But accept we must, so it is incumbent on anyone with something to lose to fight back instead.

There have been some excellent articles recently that explain how to do just that. Demonstrating, marching, writing blog posts are fine, but they are not enough. Everyone has to do something — volunteer, raise money for causes you believe in, speak out at community meetings — get involved and involve your friends.

“Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda” was written by congressional staffers who know the ropes. “Indivisible” shows the most effective ways to make your voice heard by your representatives in Congress. If you are frustrated and angry but don’t know what to do, then check out the booklet, read online or download and get going!

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Criticize John Lewis? Seriously? On eve of MLK Day?

573px-barack_obama_hugs_john_lewis_2015Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga), icon and hero of the Civil Rights Movement, dared to avow that he won’t attend Trump’s inauguration because Trump wasn’t elected legitimately. Lewis told MSNBC yesterday,

I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people. It will be hard. It’s going to be very difficult. I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president.

Referring to the now generally accepted fact that Russia, under Putin’s direction, interfered with the American election by floating fake news and releasing information that would harm Hillary Clinton and boost Trump, Lewis said he thinks “the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”

Trump was silent for several hours, seemingly demonstrating that he was beginning to learn to contain himself in the face of critical or unflattering remarks, keeping his little hands off Twitter and remaining silent. In our dreams! Early this morning he tweeted,

Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to……

mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!

 Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

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Trump sinks even lower. Sad!

trumpangryYesterday I asked how low can he go? It seems the answer is a lot further. Trump’s latest jaw-dropping act is to pressure Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act immediately. He wants the replacement “very quickly or simultaneously, very shortly thereafter.”

Republicans have been unable to come up with a viable replacement for the ACA in the seven years since it became law. They still cannot agree on a plan that will ensure affordable health insurance to many of the 20 million people that had no insurance before. the ACA. Does Trump not know that? Impossible.

His supporters don’t know it. They voted for Trump because they liked other campaign promises he made; they didn’t believe he was serious about repealing Obamacare. Sarah Kiff of Vox interviewed Trump voters in Kentucky who were enrolled in the ACA. In Whitley County, the uninsured rate dropped 60 percent with Obamacare, yet 82 percent voted for Trump. They thought Trump would work to lower the premiums and deductibles that had become too expensive. Debbie Mills explained :

“I guess I thought that, you know, he would not do this, he would not take health insurance away knowing it would affect so many peoples lives, I mean, what are you to do then if you cannot pay for insurance?”

Where is the president-elect’s concern for the working poor who elected him?

The Senate is incapable of moving quickly, but Trump doesn’t seem to know that either. Bills have to be written and then added to an extensive agenda. Of course, on rare occasions like the current 2-hour confirmation hearings, the Senate seems to be pushing through cabinet confirmations in record time, even though the nominees have not disclosed their financials or been thoroughly vetted. Trump has evidently convinced the senators that such investigation is not necessary with his nominees, unlike all the others that came before. His power grows ominously as he approaches the Oval Office.

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Meryl Streep’s righteous anger

merylstreepSunday night at the Golden Globes, Meryl Streep was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. The outspoken Streep, ever the political activist, stepped up to the bully pulpit she’d been given, and launched into an emotionally charged diatribe against the president-elect without ever calling him by name.

There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective, and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth.

It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.

“Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence,” she said.

Streep named actors Viola Davis, African-American and daughter of a sharecropper and Dev Patel, born in Kenya and raised in London, and others who are “people from other places,” because “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners.” Trump would exclude them from a native-born, white society— and what a great loss that would be.

Monday morning at 6:30 Trump responded to Streep’s remarks as the jejune narcissist he repeatedly has shown himself to be: his only comeback when he feels slighted or criticized is to demean the person he feels has disrespected him. Resorting to Twitter, his favorite means of communication, he called Streep, the most celebrated of actors, “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood.” (She is in fact the most nominated, 409 times, 19 for Oscars and 30 for Golden Globes; plus 157 awards.)

The most honored artist in Hollywood called on the press to hold Trump’s feet to the fire and entreated the public to join her “in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re going to need them going forward.”

Trump constantly reviles the press. The First Amendment is our bulwark against tyranny, and it is under siege. Meryl Streep’s outrage should be felt by every American.

 

Photo by Andreas Tai – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4944442

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How low can he go?

Donald Trump never ceases to amaze.

Charlie Brotman

Charlie Brotman

Charlie Brotman has announced every inaugural parade since Eisenhower’s second in 1957 to Obama’s in 2013— 15 parades and 10 presidents. He’s been called the presidents’ eyes and ears, cuing them when to salute or stand or sit. He is 89 years old, and a few weeks ago he lost his wife after 65 years of marriage. He was already preparing for the next inaugural, writing his script. He has said that this singular job has kept him going, given him a way to deal with his grief. But a few days ago he received an email from the Trump transition team informing him that he will no longer continue to do the job he lovingly fulfilled for what would been 60 years. He was summarily fired with no reason given. A Trump donor will take Brotman’s place.

Once again, the president-elect demonstrated that he is incapable of empathy, that he lacks the most basic humanity, that his only concern is Donald Trump and what will gild his ego.

 

Photo by dbking from Washington, DC – _MG_9498Uploaded by traveler100, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24272770

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I love DTLA!

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles

I’ve visited Down Town Los Angeles several times for very brief visits. Being a New Yorker, I wasn’t blown away. But then I stayed longer and DTLA began to grow on me. Today I totally changed my mind. After visiting MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) and enjoying lunch in the garden (OUTSIDE in December!), I crossed the street, pulled by the magnetism of the concert hall and to see The Broad, newest of L.A.’s iconic museums.

The Broad museum; photo by Iwan Baan; courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The Broad museum; photo by Iwan Baan; courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The Broad had lines of people waiting to enter. One was for people who had reserved tickets and the other, even longer, was the closed line for standbys. Through the street-level windows I could see its twisting, organic underbelly. Next time I’ll plan ahead to go inside.

Inexorably drawn by architect Frank Gehry’s reflective curves, I approached the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The monumental, non-orthogonal volumes challenge the conventional conception of what a building looks like. It’s impossible to pass by without gaping at Gehry’s creation.

Unlike the concrete lobby of The Broad,

The Broad museum's lobby; photo by Iwan Baan; courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The Broad museum’s lobby; photo by Iwan Baan; courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The Broad museum's lobby with interior veil; photo by Iwan Baan; courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The Broad museum’s lobby with interior veil; photo by Iwan Baan; courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfr0

Disney Concert Hall lobby

Disney Concert Hall lobby

the concert hall lobby has massive wooden trees (or so they appeared to me).

As unique and exhilarating as New York unquestionably is, it doesn’t yet have anything that rises to the imagination and daring of these two structures.

Blue skies are welcome anywhere. In L.A. they may be commonplace, but they are no less stunning.img_0627

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A journalist’s dilemma

trumpcabinetTasked with writing an unbiased, non-partisan sketch of Trump’s cabinet picks, I’m finding what should be an easy job very challenging. I’m having a hard time sketching neutral portraits of individuals who I strongly believe are ill-suited for the positions they have been assigned.

Despite my training at a pre-eminent school of journalism, I don’t believe anyone is or can even appear to be completely impartial. (I also have extensive experience in textual analysis and deconstruction.) Presenting two sides of a story as if they were equivalent is to deceive the reader. There are multiple sides to most questions and they rarely have equal weight. It is, after all, the role of the press to speak truth to power, to investigate and then reveal not just the bare facts (if indeed such things exist), but their import and ramifications.

Someone who has a history of bigotry or disdain for democratic traditions cannot and should not be “normalized” with a bloodless profile. To do so is to betray the reader.

Do I sell out and abandon my convictions? I would be writing for a non-profit that rightfully fears losing its tax-exempt status if it shows any political bias. Can I respect that and also remain true to myself? The key, I think, is to portray the subject with her own words and actions, devoid, as far as possible, of any hint of disparagement. Give the reader, as Mark Twain said, the facts first, and then let him distort them as much as he pleases.

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Filed under Journalism, Politics, Writing