DJT’s Short Reading List: Aliteracy Abounds

President Donald Trump doesn’t read books. At least that’s what everybody says. I don’t trust what everybody says anymore because everybody seems to be wrong all the time. Everybody said that Donald Trump would never be president, but everybody was wrong about that. That’s one thing I’ve learned recently; everybody is an expert, but nobody […]

via Donald Trump’s Reading List — Dysfunctional Literacy

*Jules’s Note: I would not disavow a book because someone I don’t like read it and liked it. As for All Quiet on the Western Front (yes, I just linked the entire text for you to read if you haven’t yet), I teach it every year to sophomores. It is a well-written, even poetic, piece of melancholy that anyone contemplating war (starting one, joining up to fight one, etc.) should read. Regardless of whether President Obama’s lists were pretentious or not, the lists promoted works of literary merit worthy of consideration for anyone’s nightstand–alongside the JK Rowling and Stephen King. I can only hope that DJT does read. Research shows that people who read fiction have more empathy. Now if only our POTUS believed in science, but that if for another post (about my next round of marches and resistance–Earth Day, here we come!).

Jules’s Jukebox: Lady Gaga’s Subtle Protest Rocked Super Bowl LI

Tonight’s jukebox is dedicated to Mama Monster!

Lady Gaga took to heart the fact that she was performing for all of America in her halftime show for Super Bowl LI, but her message of support for immigrants and the LGBTQ community still rang loud and clear.

Her opening with “God Bless America” segueing into Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” spoke to all of us in organized labor, but it also spoke volumes to those who have spent the past week resisting the Muslim Ban. Guthrie’s lyrics highlight that our land and freedom to roam it belongs to all of us–even immigrants and those enslaved by poverty and hunger, not just those who are wealthy or have plenty.

“This Land Is Your Land”
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

Coupling the few lines from Guthrie with her own song, “Born This Way,” added a little gravitas to her set of dance favorites. Singing “Born This Way” in front of VP Mike Pence, a pro-conversion therapy politician, paid direct homage to the LGBTQ community along with the immigrant communities of our nation. (Here’s the official video:)

“Born This Way”
[Intro:]
It doesn’t matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M
Just put your paws up
’cause you were born this way, baby

[Verse:]
My mama told me when I was young
We are all born superstars
She rolled my hair and put my lipstick on
In the glass of her boudoir

“There’s nothing wrong with loving who you are”
She said, “‘Cause he made you perfect, babe”
“So hold your head up girl and you’ll go far,
Listen to me when I say”

[Chorus:]
I’m beautiful in my way
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way
Don’t hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way

[Post-chorus:]
Oh there ain’t no other way
Baby I was born this way
Baby I was born this way
Oh there ain’t no other way
Baby I was born this way
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way

Don’t be a drag ‒ just be a queen [x3]
Don’t be!

[Verse:]
Give yourself prudence
And love your friends
Subway kid, rejoice your truth
In the religion of the insecure
I must be myself, respect my youth

A different lover is not a sin
Believe capital H-I-M (Hey hey hey)
I love my life I love this record and
Mi amore vole fe yah (Love needs faith)

[Repeat chorus + post-chorus]

[Bridge:]
Don’t be a drag, just be a queen
Whether you’re broke or evergreen
You’re black, white, beige, chola descent
You’re Lebanese, you’re orient
Whether life’s disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
’cause baby you were born this way

No matter gay, straight, or bi,
Lesbian, transgendered life,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to survive.
No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to be brave.

[Repeat chorus + post-chorus]

[Outro/refrain:]
I was born this way hey!
I was born this way hey!
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way hey!
I was born this way hey!
I was born this way hey!
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way hey!

[Fade away:]
Same DNA, but born this way.
Same DNA, but born this way.

Lady Gaga managed to stage a mainstream, prime-time show for a wide audience while embedding a subtle, but clear message of acceptance in the face politicians who would work to strip rights from Americans. Her entertaining performance will long be remembered for its nonpolitical skin with a political heart.

Here’s her entire Super Bowl LI performance:

Braving the New World of Alternative Facts

In the NY Times Charles Sykes explains how he and others worked hard to ensure that people like Trump (and Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway and many others) can simply repeat outright lies with no real penalty: If President Trump’s first tumultuous weeks have done nothing else, at least they have again made us a […]

via Why Nobody Cares the President Is Lying — Later On

*Jules’s Note: At some point, facts must trump ideology if the U.S. Constitution is to survive this test. These “alternative facts”, propaganda, and ideological echo chambers supported with fake news do nothing but destroy the fabric of our American Dream.

I continue to resist by contacting my elected officials often on a variety of issues. I’m lucky enough to live in an area where my congressman is making nightly news with his anti-Trump resistance messages, but I have plugged all of my elected representatives’ phone numbers, addresses, and emails into my contacts list on my phone. They will continue to hear from me. 

I continue to resist by joining marches on issues of great importance. Two weekends ago I proudly marched in the Women’s March in downtown Las Vegas. Last weekend I joined in an educators press conference to denounce Betsy DeVos’s nomination as Secretary of Education (and I am still urging people to call their senators to vote in opposition to her this next Monday when her nomination will move to the floor of the senate–right now Pence is expected to cast the tie-breaking vote to approve her. We need just one more republican to oppose her nomination!). I’m closely monitoring the situation with the Muslim ban and the detentions at airports (LAX is about 10 miles from my house). I’m looking to participate in the Tax Day and/or Earth Day marches that are currently being planned (Tax Day march is a march to protest that DJT will not release his taxes while the Earth Day march is the Scientists March on Washington to denounce DJT’s anti-science stance and actions). 

Jules’s Jukebox: Richard Ashcroft

This evening I splurged on a weeknight out for myself come April by purchasing a ticket to go see Richard Ashcroft in concert. I rarely venture from the Beach Cities to go to LA/Hollywood proper on a weeknight because traffic + late nights make for a cranky morning at work the following day. But when I heard that Ashcroft, former lead singer of The Verve, would be playing The Wiltern, I threw caution to the wind. I’m going to have an epic Monday night to carry me through that early April week.

So here’s a pair of Ashcroft’s solo songs for tonight’s jukebox picks:

“Hold On” by Richard Ashcroft, the second single from his 2016 album These People.

This single speaks to my current political mood as I resist in today’s post-US inauguration landscape. These lyrics, originally written about the Arab Spring uprisings, particularly stood out to me:

“…Until you get some pepper spray
And water cannons on the way
Fighting on your own
Can turn your heart to stone

And truth is on the march again
Wipe those tears away
Apocalyptic mind…”

 

“Words Just Get in the Way” by Richard Ashcroft, the third single from his 2006 album Keys to the World.

This ballad holds a touch of symphonic melancholy that gives way to hope as Ashcroft velvety voice offers to support during stormy times. Magnificently penned lyrics are the highlight of this song.  It connects thematically to the first song for me in that it is easy to lose hope in a world so full of chaos and despair. It is easy to feel that we may have outlived our usefulness in this mess of a world, but this song speaks of friendship, lending a helping hand, of finding that human connection that gives hope when words just can’t explain or make meaning for us.

The lines that stand out mid-song pointing out just how devoid of hope the person he sings to has become. His refrain of “if you want it/ you know I’ve got it” closely follows to show his commitment to being that silent rock of support:

“When you’re feeling like you’ve lost
When all your hope is gone
And the bridge above the river
Is only the beginning of your fall…”

I highly recommend giving Ashcroft a listen if you’ve not listened to anything other than The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony.”

A Lie is a Lie is a Lie…Resist DJT’s Alternative Facts

Since his inauguration, Donald Trump has been obsessed with two issues of fact. He asserted repeatedly that the crowd at his swearing-in was larger than the crowd for Obama in 2009, despite the fact that aerial photographs showed this was not true. At one point, he ordered the National Park Service to stop issuing estimates […]

via Trump’s Disregard for Truth “Threatens His Ability to Govern” — Diane Ravitch’s blog

*Jules’s Note: Our standing in the world is sinking every time DJT acts with such callous disregard for all but himself. The POTUS’s inability to admit he had a smaller inaugural crowd than Obama set up one of the most ridiculous exchanges ever between the White House press corps and the White House Press Secretary.  DJT and Sean Spicer tried to sell us their “alternative facts” (thank you, Kellyanne Conway, for the new entry for the Urban Dictionary)  because they know that just putting the lie out into the public, a third will believe the lie, a third will fall victim to the Orwellian propaganda.  Spicer was rightly raked over the coals by journalists and he spent Monday trying to make up for the disastrous weekend conference. But to add insult to injury, DJT’s mendacity doesn’t compare to every act he has taken so far as POTUS. He has done nothing but make me more nervous for the fragility of our democracy as DJT and top Republican lawmakers make grotesque power grabs with little regard for the rule of law, ethics, or basic human dignity. My only solace at this point is how galvanized the Indivisible Resistance groups have become. The actions are growing in strength–let’s keep organizing rather than agonizing.

The Women’s March this past weekend sent a loud and clear message. And our elected leaders need to understand that they ignore that message at their peril–we will primary you regardless of party if you do not represent your people. Even though I’m an Angeleno and would have loved to have joined 750,000 of my fellow citizens in the city’s largest march, I had already made travel plans to Las Vegas. So I enthusiastically joined nearly 5,000 in downtown Las Vegas to march and hear a group of speakers that included Congresswoman Dina Titus telling us to hold her accountable. It was such a reaffirming event that reminded me and my friends that less than a hundred years ago Silent Sentinels were beaten, imprisoned, and force-fed for protesting for the right to vote. It reminded me that I happen to work in an industry that is predominantly women, so teachers’ issues are women’s issues too. It reminded me that women have fought for and even died for me to have the right to vote, to have the right to own my house, to have my own bank account, to make my own choices about my health…and it reinforced to me just how close we are to losing so much of what has been gained in the past century. That is why I marched this past weekend.

I had many of my right wing friends and family ask why we “libtards” couldn’t just suck it up and be gracious losers. And I had to remind them that DJT taking the oval office is one thing, but the immediate work to repeal the ACA, the immediate work to defund women’s reproductive rights by reinstituting Ronald Reagan’s Global Gag Rule, the immediate work to silence federal agencies and blackout transparency, the immediate work to pollute our water and violate Native religious grounds for personal profit, the immediate work to shut down the EPA…the list is growing by the hour how DJT is working against the ability of Americans–particularly women–to have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So I encouraged my friends to look at the perspectives of many who marched and to educate themselves as to what the platform of the Women’s March is.

So in keeping with the Women’s March next steps (10 Actions, 100 Days): Let’s keep fighting the good fight. Tomorrow, the senate will vote on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos, the most underqualified person to ever be considered for Secretary of Education. Please call your senators and tell them to vote against her confirmation. Stand with your local students and teachers by wearing red tomorrow and taking just a few moments of action with your phone calls and to post your action on social media with the hashtag #DumpDeVos.

Let’s be Indivisible in the face of the POTUS’s lies. Let’s Resist the platform that hurts our neighbors or ourselves.

MLK Day: Remembering

Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States is a holiday to commemorate the leader of the Civil Rights Movement in 1960s America. To celebrate his legacy, Flickr has put together a collection of images from The Flickr Commons organizations documenting social conditions experienced by African-Americans in America during segregation and the rise of civil movements demanding an…

via Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2017 — Flickr Blog

Jules’s Jukebox: Songs for Social Justice

As I enter this bizarre week bookended by juxtaposing events, I can’t help but think of that long arc of history bending toward social justice–and popular music’s strong ties to helping spread the word on our society’s most pressing social issues. Tomorrow, our nation will honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his Stride toward Freedom while on Friday giving the oath of office to a man who maliciously called one of Dr. King’s civil rights brothers all talk and not action–for the very action of standing up to him. While searching for songs to properly encapsulate this week, I found some amazing lists that I would recommend to anyone for listening (maybe check out this one from Amnesty International). I looked and looked and selected the following two–one for MLK Day and the other for Inauguration Day.

“Strange Fruit” by Billie Holliday. This Jim Crowe era song from 1939 describing lynching is an appropriate choice for both occasions this week in reality. Rebecca Ferguson, an X Factor UK singer, offered to sing at DJT’s Inauguration under one condition–that she sing Holliday’s haunting “Strange Fruit.” At last check, she was not on the list featuring acts such as Toby Keith, Jackie Evancho, and 3 Doors Down. And now that DJT is no longer attending his MLK Day event at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, one would think a reach out to this key constituency would be in order. Instead, he doubles down on the insults to civil rights leaders.

To capture what all my right-wing friends think about where I live and what I believe, I chose to add a little dark irony to the mix. This song was originally written in 1979 as a piece of Juvenalian satire against California Governor Jerry Brown (yes, he is our governor again, hence my tongue is planted in my cheek). Since Governor Brown has vowed that California will work to protect the environment despite a DJT administration’s efforts to roll back environmental regulations, this seems like a perfect song highlight the dichotomy and divided nature of the right’s view of all of us flakey La La Land libs against the pervasive views of the progressives’ views of DJT and his incoming administration.

“California Über Alles” by The Dead Kennedys–a single in 1979, released in 1980 on the album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables.

Dump DeVos, pt. 2

Mercedes Schneider has inexhaustible patience as a researcher. She tried to locate the “publications” that Betsy DeVos submitted to the Senate committee reviewing her qualifications. Some were letters to the editor. Some were press releases (did she write them?). Some were unavailable. Some were about her. It is not clear whether she or an aide […]

via Mercedes Schneider Searches for Betsy DeVos’s Writings — Diane Ravitch’s blog

*Jules’s Note: The rush to not vet our top leaders who will “lead” departments they are hell-bent on destroying not only smacks of lack of transparency–it smacks of destroying any vestiges of our Founders’ intentions on ethics, rule of law, and governance. Please contact your senators and tell them to oppose this crony who wants to do nothing more than destroy public education.

Jules’s Jukebox: “Getting Over the Flu” Music Medicine

I’ve spent the last two weeks holed up with a viral respiratory infection that just seems to enjoy hanging around and partying in my lungs. So in honor of my slowing beginning to feel human again, I’ve selected a few songs with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

“Bad Medicine” by Bon Jovi from 1988’s New Jersey. The first hit off of their fourth album starts tonight’s healing music. “And I got all the symptoms count ’em 1, 2,3…”

“Sick of You” by Lou Reed from his 1989 album New York. It’s just coincidence that the two selections today come from albums named for neighboring states, but this song just seems so fitting considering that a) I am sick and b) this next week’s political activities make me sick at heart, and c) Reed even mentions the PEOTUS by name in this song. How prescient, except the Mt. Sinai part… 😉  “They ordained the Trumps/ and then he got the mumps/ and died being treated at Mt. Sinai…”