Melting Into Oblivion

I know I tend to keep the politics away from here, but it feels wrong not to say something. Not to say anything.

Today is July 4th, which should mean something more than just backyard BBQs, baseball, and fireworks. However, it seems odd to celebrate the birth of a nation when that nation is on fire and seems to be slowly melting into the oblivion of all former great empires.

We are watching the GOP—the Grand Old Party, the party of Lincoln, the party who loves to take the moral, god-fearing high road—literally destroy itself from within by refusing to rein in a man who couldn’t care less about the party and its platform any more than he cares about the American people and what they need. The only thing he cares about is himself. And if you think otherwise, you have not been paying attention.

Let me say that again: HE DOES NOT CARE ABOUT YOU. OR YOUR FAMILY.  OR YOUR BUSINESS.  OR YOUR HEALTH. OR YOUR DOG.  OR THE CONSTITUTION. OR THE BIBLE HE LIKES TO POSE SYMBOLICALLY WITH. None of it.  He only cares about what would bring him fame and fortune.

Oh, wait, I lied.  He also cares about tweeting and the Dow Jones Average.

Now, before you leave in a huff, I would like you to consider two things:

ONE My Granny always said everyone was entitled to their own wrong opinion. We live in America. We have freedom of speech. We are allowed free thought. If someone thinks differently than you, it’s OKAY! It is something I always try to remember when conversing with people (including friends and family), who have dramatically different opinions than me. That is getting harder, however, to continue with some people because of the lack of respect they give me in return.

It is possible some of this is due to the fact that I’m older and less likely to cajole them into talking. My internal conversation goes something like this: if you want to be an ignorant asshat, have a nice fucking day. My external conversation is to raise an eyebrow and stare at them blankly, blinking slowly. It’s not because I don’t want to hear what they have to say. However, there is this growing trend—not just in politics, but in a lot of different things—to not explain why you believe something. I know why I believe x. Why do you believe z? Instead of I believe z because [insert reason here], the response is more along the lines of: because I do and if you don’t agree, tough shit, you’re wrong.

I think a lot of it is laziness—and this is not directed at either party—it is rampant everywhere and I know that I’ve certainly done it. To clarify: by laziness, I mean that we the people like to believe whatever is spoon fed to us on the news, on social media, from the ladies we overhear at the bus stop. We tend to share information without checking sources or accuracy. It’s just so damn easy to click share or repost or retweet without thinking…click, click, click. It is equally as easy to believe what we hear on our favorite news station without bothering to check their facts or if the other stations are saying the same thing. And if they’re not, why not? It’s the news, it must be fair and impartial. Right? Right?

With the exception of the few on the very far left and very far right, we used to be able to talk about politics without hating the person who didn’t agree with us and I would really LOVE to bring that back. Desperately. I love hearing the other side. I love learning why people think the way they do. When you hear their why, you start to understand. When you start to understand, you can work together to fix things. If you disagree and tell me why I’m wrong, GREAT! But bring your reasons and let’s have an open and honest and respectful conversation.

TWO Please don’t think I’m saying in any way, shape, or form that the Democratic Party is perfect or even good. They’re not. There is a lot of in-fighting about what the party should look like and believe in. Honestly, it was very disappointing to see that the party that touts themselves as celebrating diversity nominate an old white man (sorry no offense, VP Biden) because they think it is the only way to beat Trump, since Hilary couldn’t beat him. Newsflash: it wasn’t that Hilary is woman that led to Trump’s win. It was that Hilary was Hilary and the DNC ran a very sloppy campaign because they seemed to be completely oblivious to the political climate that was desperately searching for change from the political dynasties of the Bushes and Clintons. The masses (at least the masses in a few key electoral college states) wanted something different and, quite frankly, the DNC refused to support that ideal. They felt they owed the nomination to Hilary and thus did everything in their power to help her get that nomination. Once that happened, they then sat back on their laurels and watched Trump promise the people the change they thought they wanted—to drain the swamp of corruption, stagnate elected officials, and pork barrel politics. And people who were sick of all it, went out en masse and voted for change.

I understand why people wanted change and I understand why they might think that Trump could bring it. I think everyone hoped he would walk around screaming vociferously at Congress and lobbyists and DC in general “You’re fired!” But alas, no.

What I truly do not understand is how no one seems to want to hold him accountable for anything (US Senators and Department of Justice, I’m looking at you). It is as if the Republican Party has completely checked-out and are just holding their breath until he is gone. You know, like you used to do when your mom served those nasty, over boiled, lifeless brussel sprouts and wouldn’t let you leave the table until you ate 6 of them? Actually, no. It’s worse than that. It’s an abusive relationship, where they tiptoe around him, fearful of his reaction, and accept the consequences of whatever he does because in their minds it’s easier than dealing with the aftermath of confronting him and the invariable Twitter barrage that follows. They’re just closing their eyes and praying it will be over quickly.

Except that it won’t be over quickly. And you’re sacrificing our country in the interim.

The Republican-led Senate had the opportunity to take back the train-wreck of their party with Trump at the helm and restore it to some semblance of normalcy to their ideals, but they didn’t take it. They said there was no solid proof. But how can there be if you’re not allowing witnesses and holding other people accountable for what they are claiming? Senator Graham announced at the beginning of the process that he would, of course, support the president because—even though he hasn’t heard all the evidence—he didn’t think that an actual crime had been committed. This is the same Senator Graham who railed on and on and on during the Clinton impeachment trial that an actual crime didn’t need to be committed; the only consideration for removing an impeached President from office is the President using his Office to hurt people. If that’s the case, we should have impeached Trump the moment he took office.

We the nation seem to have lost count of all the times that Trump has defiled the Office of the Presidency. On the record. For the whole world to view. Each more egregious than the last. Too many for me to fully list because honestly, I can’t remember them all.

I mean, you certainly have to give him credit: he never lets one story blow up too much before creating a new cycle of stories to tell. And the old stuff? Well, it’s just gets lost in the shuffle. So let me remind you of but a sampling of the things in my humble opinion that Trump has done in the last 3.5 years to, as Senator Graham said, hurt the people:

  1. It’s okay to assault women.
  2. It’s okay to separate children and babies from their parents and put them in cages on display until other countries expressed concerns about the cruel and unjust ways of our immigration system.
  3. It’s okay to practice nepotism.
  4. The KKK is A-OK!
  5. It’s okay to tell United States Citizens and members of Congress to go back to their own countries, never mind the fact that if you’re not 100% Native American, you’re from a lineage of immigrants.
  6. It’s okay to ask other countries for help in your reelection campaign (ohhhh…Nixon must be rolling in his grave).
  7. It’s okay to use the Department of Justice to give all your cronies a free pass for their felonies.
  8. It’s okay to politicize a pandemic and allow hundreds of thousands of people to die because you don’t know how to handle a crisis—or at the very least listen to people around you who DO know how handle a crisis.
  9. It’s okay to not wear a mask and potentially give a deadly disease to someone else.
  10. It’s okay to encourage your supporters to protest wearing masks and social distancing because it infringes on their person freedom, but discourage people from protesting the racial inequalities and police brutality that is systemic throughout the country.
  11. It’s okay to force people to chose between voting in person and their health, even though you vote by mail.
  12. It’s okay to use tear gas and flash bang grenades to clear out a peaceful protest for a photo op at a church, where it’s okay to pose with the Bible upside down.
  13. It’s okay to threaten to use the military on American citizens on US soil because they oppose you.
  14. It’s okay for your friends to put bounties on lives brave military men and women who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend our nation and it’s okay for you not to do anything about it.
  15. It’s okay to label anything you don’t like to be a hoax or fake news.

Colluding with other countries? Threatening to use the troops on Americans? And then not doing anything about reports that Russia is paying the Taliban to kill our troops? This is nothing NOTHING short of treason. If any other president—Democrat or Republican—would have done half these things, he would have been pressured to resign. And he would have done so out of respect for the country and the office of the Presidency (read up on Richard Nixon if you don’t think this is true).

Calling out your President does not make you a bad American. Holding the President accountable and at a higher standard does not make you a bad American. Channel your inner John McCain because, honestly, I can’t think of anyone who embodies the spirit of being a proud American and serving his country the way that he did.

The only reason to continue to support Trump is because you condone his behavior. This is not one single oh shit moment that he could walk back with some smooth talking and a bit of eating crow. We are way beyond that. The country is at a breaking point and instead of giving it a lifeline—which is what a good President would do—Trump is adding fuel to the fire and clapping while it burns. This is a shit show. This is deplorable. And this is treason.

Is all hope lost? No. Millions of people are fighting to change the system, to change what is acceptable, to change what it means to have justice and equality. True justice and true equality for every American, not just a select few.

Look, I’m not here to tell you how to vote. I’m just reminding you not to be a robot—you have a brain, you have a voice. Use them. You don’t have to cross party lines and vote for Biden. Hell, write in a vote for George W Bush and let him be President again. I did not agree with many of his policies, but never once—NOT ONE SINGLE SOLITARY TIME—did I ever question his loyalty to the citizens of The United States of America. I may not have liked what he did, but I knew that he did it because he truly believed that it was the best thing for America. That is what you do as President—you put the country and its citizens—ALL OF ITS CITIZENS, not just its rich, white, male citizens—first.

Our founding fathers were far from perfect. Their beautifully worded documents declaring that “all men are created equally” did not apply to women or people of color. But I believe the country they envisioned and wanted to create was one that was ever evolving into something better than the one they left behind. A country of the people, by the people, and for the people is going to be messy because people are messy. But we should never stop striving for equality, liberty, and justice—not for a select few—but for all.

Crossing the Delaware

Happy 4th of July!

I think one of the coolest things about living in New York City is the close proximity of everything you’ve ever learned about in early American history.

For example: Ann heard about a great flea market in Lambertville about a 1.5 hour drive from NYC, so one weekend we rented a car to go check it out.  It was a beautiful drive.  In fact if you drive about about 40 minutes west out of the nasty, industrialized, polluted parts of New Jersey directly across from NYC, you can actually see why New Jersey is the Garden State (and I always thought they were just being sarcastic!).

As we are getting close to the market, we noticed that we were driving parallel to a rather large river.  We pondered briefly what it might be, but being from Texas and California neither of us knew and service was sketchy at best so we couldn’t look it up.

As we’re walking around the stalls, curiosity got the better of me and I asked one of the locals.

The Delaware River.

THE Delaware River?!?!?

She looked at me like I was crazy….yes, Pennsylvania’s right over there.

I mean, we knew we weren’t far as we were heading to Philly after the flea market (which is the Golden Nugget if you’re wondering), we just didn’t realize it was so close.  As we departed the Golden Nugget and continued to follow the Delaware River en route to Philly, we see a sign: Washington’s Crossing.

THE Washington’s Crossing?!?!?  The one immortalized by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze and is considered to be a pivotal turning point in the American Revolution?  Surely not.  But yes, indeed, Siri confirmed it (once we got to the interstate and had better service).

In case you’re a bit fuzzy on the details of The Christmas Night Crossing, Mount Vernon has a lot of information on it, like:

  • Washington’s aim was to conduct a surprise attack upon a Hessian garrison of roughly 1,400 soldiers located in and around Trenton, New Jersey.
  • Washington hoped that a quick victory at Trenton would bolster sagging morale in his army and encourage more men to join the ranks of the Continentals come the new year–and it worked.  The stunning victory served to rebuild American morale after a summer of defeats and setbacks.
  • After several councils of war, General George Washington set the date for the river crossing for Christmas night 1776.
  • The Delaware River is less than 300 yards (268m) wide at the point where Washington’s army crossed
  • It took the American army roughly 4 hours to march from the river crossing site to the outskirts of Trenton
  • Temperatures for the crossing ranged from 29 degrees to 33 degrees, with brisk winds coming out of the north east.
  • Future US President James Monroe crossed with the American forces and was wounded at the Battle of Trenton.
  • Washington’s attack mortally wounded Col. Johann Rall, the Hessian commander, killed 22, wounded another 83, and led to the capture of more than 890 Hessian soldiers.

If you’re interested, the Washington Crossing Historical Park does a Christmas Day reenactment of Washington’s Crossing.  And if you can’t/don’t want to make it, but do want to watch, they have kindly posted the entire ceremony on YouTube (please note, it is the FULL ceremony, not a 3 minute video highlight reel…)

Originally, that was going to be my post, however, since it IS July 4th and we did go to Philadelphia, I feel like I need to include some pictures of Philly as well.  I mean, it was the location of the First and Second Continental Congresses, the Liberty Bell, and where the Declaration of Independence was penned (along with a whole lot of other stuff not mentioned)!

On a side note, Philly is a very dog friendly place–even to the Darling Princess Adelaide, whom most New Yorkers find scary–so we stopped a lot on our walk through downtown Philly so people could say hi and pet them!

Unfortunately, we were too late to get tickets for the tour and Liberty Bell–so we just wandered around for awhile, just taking in the history of the place!

Happy 4th!

 

Independence For All Sunday Comics

On this day a long time ago (241 years to be exact) the Second Continental Congress voted to declare independence of the Thirteen Colonies from the Kingdom of Britain.  The vote passed unanimously and two days later the Declaration of Independence was approved.

In an effort to find something humorous to post today honoring our founding fathers I found this: Which Founding Father Is Your Soulmate by Buzzfeed and took it because, well, procrastination.

Apparently my Founding Father Soulmate is Benjamin Franklin.  Not that I’m complaining, I mean, I’m all for seeing a nice bundle of his faces in my wallet 😉  But it did have me wondering about the validity of this quiz when I came across this:

ben franklin

As such, I must concede–without further ado or argument–that Ben Franklin is definitely my Founding Father Soulmate!

Should you be in the procrastinating mood and take the quiz, I’d LOOOOVE to hear who your FFS is 🙂

One last note of irony about today: the day after the vote was approved, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha in the History of America.”  Alas, poor Yorick John…

Happy Birthday Texas!

texas

We interrupt our regularly scheduled posts about my Fabulous Not Forty Birthday trips to wish Texans everywhere a Happy Independence Day!  On this day in 1836, Texas declared its independence from Mexico. The Texas Declaration was written in less than a day during (although not at) the battle of The Alamo, drew a lot of influence from the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and was signed by 59 Texans.

It has some powerful, yet eloquent verbiage, so I thought that in honor of my beloved Texas on its birthday, I’d share it with you.  On a side note: something tells me that General Santa Anna might have liked being called an evil, oppressive ruler.  But maybe not, who knows? I certainly didn’t know the guy!  Also, I’m not sure why (perhaps a typo or a different author?) wording suddenly switches from “it has” to “it hath” at the end…but it does-eth.

Finally, here’s the website where I got the information (along with a general reminder that if I pull pictures from the interwebs, in theory you can click on them to be taken to the website where they were found–in reality, I’m exceptionally technologically challenged so if you notice it not working, please let me know!).

Happy Birthday Texas!

texas declaration

The Unanimous
Declaration of Independence
made by the
Delegates of the People of Texas
in General Convention
at the town of Washington
on the 2nd day of March 1836.

When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.

When the Federal Republican Constitution of their country, which they have sworn to support, no longer has a substantial existence, and the whole nature of their government has been forcibly changed, without their consent, from a restricted federative republic, composed of sovereign states, to a consolidated central military despotism, in which every interest is disregarded but that of the army and the priesthood, both the eternal enemies of civil liberty, the everready minions of power, and the usual instruments of tyrants.

When, long after the spirit of the constitution has departed, moderation is at length so far lost by those in power, that even the semblance of freedom is removed, and the forms themselves of the constitution discontinued, and so far from their petitions and remonstrances being regarded, the agents who bear them are thrown into dungeons, and mercenary armies sent forth to force a new government upon them at the point of the bayonet.

When, in consequence of such acts of malfeasance and abdication on the part of the government, anarchy prevails, and civil society is dissolved into its original elements. In such a crisis, the first law of nature, the right of self-preservation, the inherent and inalienable rights of the people to appeal to first principles, and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases, enjoins it as a right towards themselves, and a sacred obligation to their posterity, to abolish such government, and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from impending dangers, and to secure their future welfare and happiness.

Nations, as well as individuals, are amenable for their acts to the public opinion of mankind. A statement of a part of our grievances is therefore submitted to an impartial world, in justification of the hazardous but unavoidable step now taken, of severing our political connection with the Mexican people, and assuming an independent attitude among the nations of the earth. 

The Mexican government, by its colonization laws, invited and induced the Anglo-American population of Texas to colonize its wilderness under the pledged faith of a written constitution, that they should continue to enjoy that constitutional liberty and republican government to which they had been habituated in the land of their birth, the United States of America. 

In this expectation they have been cruelly disappointed, inasmuch as the Mexican nation has acquiesced in the late changes made in the government by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers us the cruel alternative, either to abandon our homes, acquired by so many privations, or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword and the priesthood.

It has sacrificed our welfare to the state of Coahuila, by which our interests have been continually depressed through a jealous and partial course of legislation, carried on at a far distant seat of government, by a hostile majority, in an unknown tongue, and this too, notwithstanding we have petitioned in the humblest terms for the establishment of a separate state government, and have, in accordance with the provisions of the national constitution, presented to the general Congress a republican constitution, which was, without just cause, contemptuously rejected.

It incarcerated in a dungeon, for a long time, one of our citizens, for no other cause but a zealous endeavor to procure the acceptance of our constitution, and the establishment of a state government.

It has failed and refused to secure, on a firm basis, the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty, and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen.

It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain,) and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.

It has suffered the military commandants, stationed among us, to exercise arbitrary acts of oppression and tyrrany, thus trampling upon the most sacred rights of the citizens, and rendering the military superior to the civil power.

It has dissolved, by force of arms, the state Congress of Coahuila and Texas, and obliged our representatives to fly for their lives from the seat of government, thus depriving us of the fundamental political right of representation.

It has demanded the surrender of a number of our citizens, and ordered military detachments to seize and carry them into the Interior for trial, in contempt of the civil authorities, and in defiance of the laws and the constitution.

It has made piratical attacks upon our commerce, by commissioning foreign desperadoes, and authorizing them to seize our vessels, and convey the property of our citizens to far distant ports for confiscation.

It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a national religion, calculated to promote the temporal interest of its human functionaries, rather than the glory of the true and living God.

It has demanded us to deliver up our arms, which are essential to our defence, the rightful property of freemen, and formidable only to tyrannical governments.

It has invaded our country both by sea and by land, with intent to lay waste our territory, and drive us from our homes; and has now a large mercenary army advancing, to carry on against us a war of extermination.

It has, through its emissaries, incited the merciless savage, with the tomahawk and scalping knife, to massacre the inhabitants of our defenseless frontiers.

It hath been, during the whole time of our connection with it, the contemptible sport and victim of successive military revolutions, and hath continually exhibited every characteristic of a weak, corrupt, and tyrranical government.

These, and other grievances, were patiently borne by the people of Texas, untill they reached that point at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. We then took up arms in defence of the national constitution. We appealed to our Mexican brethren for assistance. Our appeal has been made in vain. Though months have elapsed, no sympathetic response has yet been heard from the Interior. We are, therefore, forced to the melancholy conclusion, that the Mexican people have acquiesced in the destruction of their liberty, and the substitution therfor of a military government; that they are unfit to be free, and incapable of self government.

The necessity of self-preservation, therefore, now decrees our eternal political separation.

We, therefore, the delegates with plenary powers of the people of Texas, in solemn convention assembled, appealing to a candid world for the necessities of our condition, do hereby resolve and declare, that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, Sovereign, and independent republic, and are fully invested with all the rights and attributes which properly belong to independent nations; and, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we fearlessly and confidently commit the issue to the decision of the Supreme arbiter of the destinies of nations.

Richard Ellis, President
of the Convention and Delegate
from Red River.

  • Charles B. Stewart
  • Tho. Barnett
  • John S.D. Byrom
  • Francis Ruis
  • J. Antonio Navarro
  • Jesse B. Badgett
  • Wm. D. Lacy
  • William Menifee
  • Jn. Fisher
  • Matthew Caldwell
  • William Motley
  • Lorenzo de Zavala
  • Stephen H. Everett
  • George W. Smyth
  • Elijah Stapp
  • Claiborne West
  • Wm. B. Scates
  • A.B. Hardin
  • J.W. Burton
  • Thos. J. Gazley
  • R.M. Coleman
  • Sterling C. Robertson
  • Benj. Briggs Goodrich
  • G.W. Barnett
  • James G. Swisher
  • Jesse Grimes
  • Sam P. Carson
  • A. Briscoe
  • J.B. Woods
  • James Collinsworth
  • Edwin Waller
  • Asa Brigham
  • Geo. C. Childress
  • Rob. Potter
  • Thomas Jefferson Rusk
  • Chas. S. Taylor
  • John S. Roberts
  • Robert Hamilton
  • Collin McKinney
  • Albert H. Latimer
  • James Power
  • Sam Houston
  • David Thomas
  • Edwd. Conrad
  • Martin Parmer
  • Edwin O. Legrand
  • Stephen W. Blount
  • Jms. Gaines
  • Wm. Clark, Jr.
  • Sydney O. Pennington
  • Wm. Carrol Crawford
  • Jno. Turner
  • S. Rhoads Fisher
  • John W. Moore
  • John W. Bower
  • Saml. A. Maverick (from Bejar)
  • H.S. Kimble, Secretary
tx independence signatures

Independence.

A few days ago there was a spectacular storm that swept through New York City.  Naturally, social media of every shape and form was quickly filled with stunning pictures, like the one below.  If you’d like to see more of this storm, click on the photo and you’ll get to see a lot of amazing photos.  But this one–this is my favorite.

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Photo credit: @albapro/Instagram

It is no big secret that seeing Lady Liberty is my favorite thing about living in New York City.  Some days, it is the only thing I like about it.  She serves as a reminder of the freedom, the liberty and the hope of all who call America home.  I am lucky in that I am reminded twice a day of the struggles that we as a country had to overcome; it is not something I take for granted.  Sure we have a lot of issues and an entirely new set of struggles that we face, but we face them together.

The poignancy of this photo is especially symbolic today.  On July 2, 1776 our Congress approved a resolution that would grant us independence from British rule.  Two days later, our Declaration of Independence was signed, proclaiming our sovereignty to the world.

Engraved onto a plaque in The Statue’s pedestal is the sonnet The New Colossus, written by Emma Lazarus (as you will remember from an earlier post, the original Colossus was in Rhodes).  So before I go enjoy my beer, brats, and watermelon while waiting for the fireworks to start, I thought I’d leave you with this powerful sonnet:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”