MITCH MCCONNELL, JEFF SESSIONS, AND ELIZABETH WARREN – THE SENATORS

I’ve been getting messages from Elizabeth Warren. She is Massachusetts’ senator, so I get messages from her anyway. But I like her. Her perky, peppy style has always amused me, though I notice her perky peppiness has been a bit more strained in recent months. I thought I’d publish this one today as a reminder of what’s going on.

It isn’t only about President Tweets or the Russians. It’s also about the continuing battle to deal with Congress. At this point, our battle seems less intended to accomplish something and more to keep from having appalling things happen to us!

Elizabeth Warren for Massachusetts

Six months ago tonight, I went to the Senate floor to speak out about Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General – Jeff Sessions.

Nobody wanted to talk about the fact that President Trump had nominated a man that both Democrats and Republicans had decided was too racist to become a federal judge in the 1980s. So I went to the Senate floor to read an old letter from Coretta Scott King. She knew about the way former US State Attorney for Alabama Jeff Sessions had intimidated and prosecuted civil rights workers for helping elderly black citizens to vote, and I wanted the Senate to hear what she’d had to say.

Mrs. King wrote of African-American families visited repeatedly by the FBI. Of people pressured to change their testimony. Of elderly black men and women herded onto buses and driven 180 miles to appear before a grand jury. She talked about fear and the toll it took on people. And she said that Sessions had “used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.”

Every senator voting for Jeff Sessions and every person in America needed to hear that letter. When Mitch McConnell threw me out of the Senate for reading it, I was shocked. It wasn’t just my voice that was being silenced. No, Coretta Scott King was silenced.

And just to be clear: Mitch McConnell wasn’t the only person who tried to silence me that night. I appealed his decision, so the whole Senate got to vote. Every single Republican in the Senate chamber that night voted to censure me. Not one of them wanted to talk about why Jeff Sessions was a problem.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a problem – and I’m still talking about it:

  • He supported the Texas voter ID law – the strictest voter ID in the country, meant to stop African-Americans and Latinos from voting.
  • He reversed the Obama Administration directive to stop using predatory, for-profit private prisons.
  • He reinstated the failed “War on Drugs” with harsh mandatory minimum sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses.
  • He rolled back investigations of police departments that commit civil rights violations.
  • He announced a probe on college admissions programs to twist and distort federal civil rights laws.
  • He promised to withhold federal funding to cities with immigration policies he doesn’t like.

But here’s the deal: When Mitch McConnell and every one of his Republican colleagues kicked me off the Senate floor that night, he didn’t silence me, or Mrs. King, or anyone else. In fact, they made us louder. I went outside to the hallway, pulled out a phone, and read Mrs. King’s letter online. Over the next few days, tens of millions of people heard – or read– Coretta Scott King’s words.

I never expected anything that happened on the Senate floor that night. I never expected “Nevertheless, She Persisted” to become a meme, a t-shirt slogan, a tattoo, or a rallying cry for people all across this country who are tired of being told to sit down and shut up.

This fight isn’t about me – it’s about all of us. This is our moment in history. Not the moment we wanted, but the moment we are called to. Donald Trump may call us names. Mitch McConnell might tell us to sit down and shut up. But we will not give up and go home.

We will resist. We will persist. And we will win.

Thanks for being a part of this,

Elizabeth


Someone asked why so many people think Trump is a hero. The only honest answer I could give is I believe he is the bigot for whom so many have yearned. Maybe this sounds simplistic, but the spillover of everything Trump has done or tried to do is racist. It is far too obvious to ignore or call “coincidence.” I have heard some say “they felt ignored,” and so they voted for this thing we have in office. Maybe some of them did feel ignored, but how did feeling ignored morph into hating everyone who isn’t white? Did feeling ignored make them hate brown people? Muslims? Transgender people? People of any religion other than their own? Where’s the connection?

How, exactly, does “feeling ignored” become hate?

The answer is that it doesn’t. The Civil War may have ended up north, but it has apparently been going on for the past 160 years down south. Don’t believe that this mess is merely about what one bad president Trump can do. He is a very bad president, but he didn’t get here on his demerits. He got here because he gave a lot of Americans the freedom to come out of their closets and really HATE.

So for all of you who were worried that we were becoming too careful of our speech? Welcome to a place where anyone can say anything and it’s just fine because no more locking up hate speech. Now, it’s totally American.

I’m so ashamed.

SERENDIPITY WAS DELETED BY THE WORDPRESS READER

For the past two weeks, readership here has dropped off by about 200% … overnight. Although it’s possible everyone is mad at us at the same time for no discernible reason, I think it is more likely that WordPress Reader has — again — deleted the blog from the Reader. It isn’t the first time they have done this — and I’m sure it won’t be the last time. Whenever they decide to “fix” their software, they knock thousands of us out of the Reader and if we complain, they don’t even say “oops,” sorry because they really don’t much care.



If you see this on Facebook (because I’m pretty sure it won’t be in your Reader), you might want to pop around to see what’s going on. This is why, by the way, I use email notifications and avoid the Reader. Email notifications usually come through no matter what they do to their software. It makes my email get all bloated, but at least I know who has written stuff and can get there to take a look.

WordPress is “fixing” their software again. Whatever problems you’re having, probably other people are having them too. Screens are locking up. My cursor is jumping around like a hop-toad and the items on my dashboard blink or shimmy.

So. I’m not on vacation, not sick, nor off visiting another country. I’m right here, at home, dogs and all. Writing my heart out for you, my beloved friends.

Hope to see you again sometime soon!

ROUND UP AN ANGRY MOB! – GARRY ARMSTRONG

That was our granddaughter, years ago. A precocious 7 or 8-year-old venting her anger over the loss of the salad bar at a favorite local restaurant. We did our best to explain the issue and somehow placated our granddaughter. She clearly thought we should tackle the issue head on.

She reminded me of all the high-profile, controversial stories I’d covered in my more than 40 years as a TV news reporter. I never backed down! I was relentless!!  I had to do something!!

Gradually, the hot button issues faded away. Gramps was now in retirement. I’d hung up my guns.

We’ve often laughed about the “angry mob issue” through the years. When something comes up that bothers us, someone yells, “Let’s round-up an angry mob!” Giggles all around.

I heard the familiar refrain again, today, in the middle of grocery shopping. I started to laugh and stopped quickly. Two very angry people confronted me. I just stared, trying to make sure they were talking to me. They were shouting!

“We need to round-up an angry mob. That’ll get their attention!”  I continued to stare as my brain shifted into second gear. They — the angry duo — clearly wanted to do something about the state of our nation. I almost squashed the tomato I was holding.

“I’m retired,” I tried to reason, but they wouldn’t have it. It was just the beginning for me. I was still picking tomatoes a few minutes later when I heard it again.

“This is crap!! We need to do SOMETHING! I’ve had it with this guy!”.  It was a store employee I’ve known for several years. We’ve discussed politics, the economy and local environmental issues between my getting tips on what’s good in the supermarket on a particular day. No such tips today. He was angry — and it had nothing to do with the price of tomatoes.

“Nobody wants to get involved! We need to do something, Garry. This country is in big trouble”. I bit my lower lip and nodded in agreement, hoping to appease what I saw coming.

“Garry, you could do a special report. You know people. You have clout. People respect you!!”.

“I’m retired,” I said it slowly, dolefully. He shook his head as if he didn’t hear me, didn’t believe me … or it didn’t matter.

“We need to get people involved. We need people to make things right. We’re running out of time, Garry!!”  I bit my lower lip. More people had gathered around. I realized we had a small audience. People were nodding, red-faced, shaking their fists.

I surveyed the crowd. Shook my head solemnly and said it louder. “I’m retired!”.

They shook their heads in disbelief. I could hear mumbles of anger and confusion. I should have anticipated what would come next.

“We grew up watching you on TV. You always told us what was happening. We’ve told our kids about you …”

It was the guilt card, face up. Ouch.

“I’m retired,” I repeated again. They couldn’t accept it. They moved in closer, fingers poking in the air as if I didn’t understand. Of course, I understood. I understand.  It’s hard making sense out of what’s going on with the current administration. Real news is called fake. Fake news is being analyzed as if it’s real. There’s no precedent for this in my lifetime. I have no war stories to share about dealing with the type of people who are now in charge. I covered Presidents from JFK to Bush Number 1. There was lots of crazy stuff over the years but nothing, nada like what is happening today.

I dodged several more small crowds and made it to the checkout counter. I was feeling pretty good because I had found some fresh fruit Marilyn wanted. Head down, I spread my groceries on the counter, glancing at the young woman bagging the stuff. I thought I was free as soon as everything was tallied and bagged.

Free at last?

No! I felt a hand on my shoulder. An elderly man, maybe 80 or so grinned at me. But it wasn’t a happy grin, but a grin of anger. I’d seen this many times before. I braced myself.

“Garry, why the hell aren’t you out there, telling the public about this guy? Everyone’s angry!! You done it before! You done it with them other bums. We could always trust you!”

“I’m retired.”  I said it slowly. Sadly.

I politely extracted myself from the elderly gent’s strong grip and wheeled the groceries outside. As I loaded everything into the car, I saw a couple of people approaching me. I double-timed the rest, got in the car, put pedal to the metal and beat it out of the parking lot.

In my head, I could hear my granddaughter.

“Gramps, let’s round-up an angry mob and storm the place”.

AN APPALLING MEDICAL HISTORY – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My mother was plagued by serious medical problems, literally from birth, into her 50’s. She almost died several times. It made her a real fighter. She never let her physical limitations limit her life and always had a positive attitude.

Infants are rarely born with infections. My mom was born with one — not sure which. Maybe an ear infection. When she was three, she contracted polio. She recovered, but her legs were severely damaged. She had to be put into leg braces, which she wore till the age of 13. She also had to relearn how to walk.

Mom at about two years old

At around age five or six, Mom developed a severe ear infection that required painful and traumatic draining procedures every few days. She eventually needed surgery. She had half her head shaved and had to wear a big white bandage around her head for six months. Not so great for her ego at school.

At age 18, at college, she took a drug commonly used in the 1930’s to stay awake and focused when she needed to pull all-nighters. This was often since she had terrible study habits and an active social life. She developed a side effect of the drug and her white blood cells started to die off. The doctors at her college in Wisconsin told my grandmother to pick Mom up and take her home to die.

Mom at college

My grandmother was not going to give up on her daughter. Instead, she found a doctor who gave my Mom typhoid fever — a highly unorthodox attempt to stimulate her white blood cells to start reproducing again. The bold, risky treatment plan worked, but Mom was an invalid for a year, unable to leave her house.

At 20 and married to the doctor who had saved her life, Mom got pregnant. She delivered a five month stillborn boy after 18 hours of labor. After trying to get pregnant again for the next eight years, she was told she could never have children again. As a side note – my Dad, her second husband after being widowed, was also told that he was sterile. So I was quite an unexpected surprise. In fact, when Mom got pregnant with me, her gynecologist gave her shots to bring on her missed periods. It didn’t even occur to him that she could be pregnant.

After about eight relatively healthy years — except for migraines — Mom got rheumatic fever. She was sick and it affected her heart. She was an invalid for two years this time. She didn’t leave her bedroom for a year or the house for a second year. Her first husband, a physician, jokingly said that she was made of ‘biological junk.’

Mom at around 28 or 29

Before she got sick, Mom had been studying acting along with fellow students like Stella Adler, Karl Malden, Susan Strasberg and Buddy Epson. I believe that Lee Strasberg was one of her teachers. She had caught the eye of a Hollywood producer. He wanted Mom and her fellow student and friend, Judy Tuvim, to go to LA for a screen test. But first they were both told to lose ten pounds for the camera. Mom had just started her diet when she got sick.

Her friend, Judy, went on to become Judy Holliday. She ‘made it big’ and starred in Broadway version of “Born Yesterday” and the musical ‘The Bells Are Ringing,” then again in the Hollywood versions. Unfortunately Judy’s career was cut short. She died at 44 of breast cancer.

Professional Head Shot

Mom was left with scar tissue on her heart, which in those days, meant permanent heart damage. She was told she could no longer act, dance, play tennis or do anything strenuous. She had to lead a more sedentary life from then on. She couldn’t continue in acting so she decided to go back to school, finish college and study psychology — due to the influence of her former therapist and family friend, Abram Kardiner, who was soon to become my father.

Shortly after she started school again, her first husband died of a massive heart attack at the age of 43. She was 29. Three years later, she married my father and had me. When I was five or six and she was 38 or 39 at which time she was diagnosed with  lupus erythematosus, a chronic inflammatory disease and it affected her heart. Again. She was warned had to stay out of the sun and would be extremely sensitive to any kind of systemic infection. Exposure to the sun or to an infection like strep throat could trigger a lupus episode with potentially lethal results.

She had to be careful. She was warned to never take public transportation — especially airplanes — because they were breeding grounds for infections. Difficult since she was living in New York City.

Mom at around 40

When I was nine and she was 42, she developed strep. It activated her Lupus and she went into heart failure. More accurately, her doctor panicked when she got strep and gave her a dose of penicillin, even knowing she was allergic to it. The full body rash she developed was what actually sent her into heart failure. She was rushed to the hospital, where her doctor sat with her all night. He told her he was staying because he didn’t know if she would make it through the night. It was touch and go for a few days, but she pulled through, spirits intact.

In 1972, at the age of 56, she had her final bout with heart failure. Once she recovered, she enjoyed 24-years of relative health. Ironically, in her late 70’s, her heart was thoroughly checked out and all the scarring had disappeared, completely healed. So much for permanent damage. There was also no trace of Lupus. That was extremely unusual because Lupus is a chronic condition that doesn’t just go away by itself. There can be a temporary remission, but this was apparently long-term (permanent?) remission — which was (is) unheard of.

Mom in her 50’s

Mom continued to enjoy her Karmic reward of good health until the age of 81, when she got lung cancer. She fought it fiercely for four years, with great positive energy. Always fashionable, after losing her hair to chemo, she developed a unique style with wigs and hats. She died of a metastasized cancer at the age of 85 with her fighting spirit intact.

The medical community has come a considerable way in treatment, especially for heart related problems. Treatment would be much better today and what was or was not wrong with her heart could be diagnosed more accurately and treated with proper exercise rather than withdrawal. Yet even today, that’s a heavy weight of medical problems to deal with for any life.