ownership…

These next 4 years belong to the Republican Party. They will own whatever emerges from their ruling triumvirate…all 3 branches of government, headed up by Trump and his sidekick, Steve Bannon. Republicans have hit the jackpot…the power ball lottery of politics!!!

I am more than willing to let Republicans take full credit for everything and anything their dynamic duo has a hand in…the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Two weeks into this administration, we’ve been hit with an abundance of…the worst and the ugliest.

With millions of Americans rising up in protest against the dictatorship of Trump/Bannon, it’s unfathomable that Republican politicians continue to rubberstamp whatever those two send down the pike. Whether they are trying to hang onto their jobs, including health insurance in which their constituents should likewise share, or glory in their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cram all their policies down our throats, Republicans like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are complicit in our country’s descent into immorality under this presidency.

The so-called Capitol Hill experts are scurrying about like obedient kindergarteners effecting policy for the dictators, themselves new to the political arena. Trump and Bannon must laugh themselves silly behind closed doors, as well they should. They have accomplished what no one before them has been able to do, including the billionaire Koch brothers and their Tea Party followers.

Neither Trump nor Bannon have made a secret of their pasts. Both were widely written about during the months leading up to the election. It’s obvious that few cared to educate themselves, preferring instead to buy whatever these two men were selling.

It’s no surprise we’ve landed where we have, with all of us paying for the immorality of some. Our democracy is suffering a seismic, constitutional earthquake. Whether or not morality remains the underpinning of our freedom is dependent upon those willing to stand up to autocrats and their minions. And as we’ve witnessed recently, the number of freedom fighters number in the thousands.

Let’s hope the combined power of the White House and the Republicans on Capitol Hill does not thwart the resistance effort. It’s essential we continue to play defense against the Trump/Bannon autocracy throughout the next four years.

Kelly Anne Conway, Trump campaign manager-turned-senior advisor, provided poignant insight into this presidency. If the facts don’t suit, turn to “alternative facts.” Trump and all who pledge allegiance to him will subvert universal truth in order to further their hard-right agenda.

Personally, I plan to continue writing posts aimed at keeping the focus on a White House occupied by autocrats.

Peter Thiel, billionaire owner of the online site “Pay Pal,” supported Trump’s run for the presidency and is part of his transition team. Thiel, like Bannon, no longer believes in the America for which we now stand. Both want it upended and refashioned according to what they believe.

According to a November 2016 Politico Magazine article, “The Anti-Democratic Worldview of Steve Bannon and Peter Thiel” by Jedediah Purdy, Everett professor of law at Duke Law School…

Bannon believes that the political force rising to defend all these values today is “a global tea party” that links Trump, Brexit voters, the anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic National Front in France, and Narendra Modi’s nationalist government in India. These groups, Bannon says, may be incidentally racist or attract some racist elements, but those elements will “get washed out” and leave their pure and proper value, which is the nationalist defense of enlightened capitalism. They are the ground troops of the coming struggle, rebuilding a West that can defend itself and is worth defending.

Thiel, a professed Libertarian, has said that he no longer believes in the compatibility between democracy and freedom.

Finally, according to Purdy…

This much is clear: Bannon and Thiel believe their ideas have found the perfect host organism. They won’t be the last.

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…”I pass”…

Something said during card games, like poker and Black Jack. Usually offered when the player feels he is pretty certain of a win.

Anyone who has been following this presidential campaign can attest to the fact that Trump supporters have awarded him the ultimate “pass.” He is allowed to play the game for as long as he chooses no matter what cards he holds close to his vest. They are betting all their money on him winning, and they don’t care how he does it.

Trump’s latest “pass” is that he probably won’t be investigated for calling upon the Russians to find the supposed 30,000 emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s server.

“Russia, if you are listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said to a room of TV cameras at Trump National Doral. “I think you will probably be mightily rewarded by our press.”

Senior policy aide for the Clinton campaign responded “This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent…That’s not hyperbole, those are just the facts. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”

Showing his autocratic bent in suppressing the media, “When a female reporter asked Trump whether he was encouraging Russia to hack into emails, Trump snapped back: ‘Be quiet! I know you want to save her,’ a reference to Clinton.”

Just as Trump went after the judge involved in the Trump University lawsuit because of his Mexican heritage, Trump will do anything to go after his Democratic opponent including espionage. Sacrificing America to the enemy is NOT beyond Trump’s high stakes’ game. He will win at any price! And, it seems, Trump supporters prefer to annihilate a democratic America in favor of a Trump regime. They are willing to sacrifice whatever strides our country has made toward independence, preferring instead to once again be part of a dynastic empire. Only this time it’s the Russian bloc under Putin.

Understandably blinded by their own individual grievances, Trump supporters desperately cling to the cult hope that Trump, as messiah, can deliver them from the purgatory they inhabit. What they don’t realize is that this game of Russian Roulette with one bullet left is aimed point-blank at the heart of America…and at their own hearts.

…America’s death…is our death.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

…as it should be…

As excruciatingly messy as it might be sometimes, democracy is still preferable to autocracy. Each person speaking his and her own voice is still preferable to one voice speaking for all.

The difference between the RNC and the DNC is stark. Last night, apart from the megawatt speeches delivered by Michelle Obama, Corey Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, there were equally moving speeches delivered by ordinary folks like Cheryl Lankford. She was one of many trumped by the man himself when she enrolled in Trump University to the tune of $35,000.

I understood Lankford’s embarrassment at feeling she was the fool for being duped. I understood her inability to tell anyone about how dumb she felt. I understood how as a woman, we are primed to think it’s our fault if we’re stupid enough to get “taken to the cleaners.” Especially up against billionaire Donald Trump. Who would believe Cheryl Lankford if she spoke up against a man of his celebrated, moneyed stature?

Today, I was moved to tears by the story of Na’ilah Amaru.

“I was born on a dirt floor to a woman whose name I will never know. What I do know is that she loved me enough to give me up, so I could live the life she wanted for me. A life without hunger or despair, filled with hope, education, and opportunity.

As a baby, bundled up in the hopes and dreams of my mother, I began a new life in a faraway land called America. I was raised by two women, and learned early on about intolerance and hatred. But I also learned about the power of love, faith and hope.

The first time I saw Hillary, she was on TV addressing a panel of men with such confidence and ownership of self. Her poise and presence fundamentally changed how I would claim my own space in the world. I was 11.

Seven years later, my belief in America inspired me to raise my hand and solemnly swear to defend her ideals with my life. I joined the army as an ammunition specialist and gave the best of myself to a country that had given me so much. I returned from Iraq deeply committed to restoring the faith of America’s Promise—for everyone.

Tonight, in the birthplace of our nation, I renew our commitment to democracy with an historic step toward gender equality. Reflected in broken shards of glass, and Hillary herself, we can see the dreams of our daughters. This is America’s promise.

Along my journey, I have called California, Texas, Georgia, and New York home. And I know that what connects us runs far deeper than what divides us.

So, if you can hear my voice tonight, join me and everyone in this hall, by texting HILLARY to 47246—as we move forward, together.

As an immigrant, a combat veteran, a woman of color, and my mother’s daughter, I am American. My story is our story. The story of America.”

(PRNewswire, 7/26/16)

Ordinary women standing up FOR…

…an exceptionally, extraordinary woman.

…Hillary Clinton.

………hugmamma.

 

…only ourselves…

…to blame.

We are a changing democracy, whether we like it or not. America was never going to remain as it was in the “good old days.” What were the “good old days” for some, was a living hell for others. At best we are in the purgatory phase of our country’s evolvement, on our way to the heaven we all deserve.

The mass shootings that are occurring more and more frequently are not the product of any one group or individual. The tone of hatred for others different from ourselves is being promoted and yes, even tolerated, by many of us. Just as the world stood by during the Jewish Holocaust, so too is the world looking heavenward as hateful rhetoric spews forth from every corner of the world, including America.

God is not the answer to our problems, we are. He gifted the earth with enough bounty to share among ourselves; instead, we have evolved into a world of haves and have-nots. It was only a matter of time when the tide would begin to turn against those who have greedily hoarded more for themselves.

The ability to stop the inevitable is within our power. It’s never too late because we are a forgiving and resilient species. We just need to love all others as we love ourselves. Picking and choosing who can partake and who can’t is no longer an option. Not if we want to realize…

…a heaven on earth.

………hugmamma.Nashville 09-2010 00063

 

…our own “arab spring”

Americans shook their heads as Egypt experienced the turmoil and upheaval of the “Arab Spring.” Many looked askance at a country whose citizens would become embroiled in such a messy civil war. This is the 21st century, after all.

Having settled our differences over a century ago, Americans tend to separate themselves from the fight for democracy happening elsewhere in the world. Been there; done that. Or so we like to think. Truth is nothing was permanently resolved. Just as the movement to free slaves went underground before and during The Civil War, so too have white supremacists been biding their time ever since, awaiting a leader who would one day champion their cause.

Just as Trump hijacked the Republican Party to invoke the cause of angry, white men, Bernie Sanders has done the same with the Democratic Party. A self-professed Liberal, Sanders is also on the war path for angry, white men. Both he and Trump welcome the support of any and all, but make no mistake their target group are white men who have been disenfranchised…losing their jobs and their standing in the community to others. Trump and Sanders hold themselves forth as white men who can return the middle and lower classes to the status quo. They ignore the changing times and the changing face of the world in which we live.

Trump and Sanders have more in common than not. Electing either for president is choosing to return America to the same old, same old…a patriarchal America in which white men provide for us…according to their whim.

The assault on Hillary Clinton is rooted in the fear that someone other than a white man might do as good a job, or better. America is poised to find out. The biggest risk facing our country is not going for the “same old, same old.” The biggest risk is throwing aside the shackles that have bound Madame Liberty to 100+ years of welcoming all who seek freedom and comfort to our shores. It’s time we let her do the job from…

…the oval office…

…hillary for president.

………hugmamma.(photo…haveyoupackedthecamera.com)

 

our freedoms…at a price

For gun activists who refuse any and all efforts at having their rights to bear arms restricted, they must bear some of the burden for the mass killings that are taking innocent lives. Whether they care to accept the fact that each of these deaths is like a notch etched upon the grip of their guns, it is nonetheless an indelible mark upon their consciences. The only way to ignore this shared responsibility is to relegate those deaths to media statistics. Twenty-four/seven coverage blurs the faces of the dead until they are no longer recognizable as human beings, individuals whose lives were cut short. Their souls lingering on in the purgatory of memories of loved ones left behind.

Facebook, Twitter and other such media sites are similarly responsible for the massacre of innocent lives. Folks in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Acting as enablers of social connectivity, these billion dollar corporations accept no responsibility for crimes that are perpetrated through the use of their sites. The co-mingling of users whose sole purpose is elevated pen-paling with those intent upon murder is akin to seals swimming with sharks. It’s only a matter of time before the latter gets the upper hand.

What price freedom? Sometimes death.

A sad statement when we are willing to accept our lives as headlined in the news. We the people are responsible for what happens to us. We allow it to happen every time we scream our allegiance to our inalienable rights…to bear arms…and freedom of speech. We refuse to compromise our rights, to give an inch to save another’s life. Rights supersedes lives. Always. Either that or the wealthy and their minions who crowd out the silent rest of us are allowed to run roughshod over whatever stands in the way.

We reap what we sow…all of us. Those who buy and sell guns, and those who use social media. We support the framework of human demise.

…simple truth.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

 

right here in the u.s. of a. ???…

Pretty scary to realize that in 2015 there continues to be pockets of blatant discrimination against people of color right here in our own backyard.

No. I’m not naive enough to think our country’s record is impeccable or even spotty at best, but to know that Fergusson, Missouri police can arrest innocent people “just because,” is totally unfathomable. 

When we look down our noses upon what’s going on in the Middle East, clucking our tongues as if to say “My, my. Those poor, unfortunate people running from the violence and terrorism overtaking their countries,”…let’s remember the Fergussons right here at home where many live in fear of being terrorized by law enforcement, sometimes with violent consequences.

When I hear of occurrences like what happened in Fergusson, my gut reaction is to make sure I never, ever visit such a backward-thinking place. And I’m not denigrating third-world countries where they may not know better. I’m talking about towns in our own country where folks SHOULD know better.

Laziness is no excuse. Stupidity maybe. I think I could forgive stupid people, although I wouldn’t hang out with them. Lazy people? Not so much.

Not that the folks in Fergusson care whether or not I set foot in their town. It’s just with all the negative publicity, it’s more than likely nobody outside the town will ever want to visit. That too is probably okay with Fergusson folks, especially law enforcement.

…just needed to let off steam…

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

beneath…the lemon tree

English: lemon tree Italiano: limone

Image via Wikipedia

I promise this will be my final post regarding lemons and WordPress.org. At least I hope so. Depends upon the “powers that be” and their lemon tree.

Received welcome news from Yoav of WordPress support. Seems I’m not losing my mind. I didn’t switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. Funny, or not so funny, is how one can be convinced of something one is pretty certain is incorrect.

In my mind’s wanderings…there’s a lot of that…I likened internet sites, including WordPress, to our democracy. We’re free people with rights. But in exercising our freedom, we must wend our way through a jungle of obstacles…some visible…some invisible. It’s the ones we don’t see that can keep us from moving forward.

How to proceed?

Sitting Bull (c. 1831-1890). Sitting Bull was ...

Image via Wikipedia

We can either shrug our shoulders, make a u-turn, and go back the way we came. Or we can very stealthily look to gain entrance through a back door…ssshhh!…someone might see us. Or like the proverbial bull in the china shop, we can see red and become bellicose!

On the other hand, there’s always diplomacy.

Talk, talk, talk…until someone deigns to listen. I think only one in a hundred take this route. With my gift for gab…I can’t help but be one of them. Having a thousand thoughts bombarding my mind like yellow jackets that sting unless I cooperate, when one argument fails I try another…and another…and another. My husband is understandably worn down after 41 years of being wedded to a woman with bees in her belfry. Poor, poor man.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Image via Wikipedia

Of the 4 or 5 queries I made to WordPress support, one finally got an answer. Admittedly, I would’ve been content with any reply just to know someone took notice; that I wasn’t doomed to remain in limbo forever.

It’s that feeling of talking and not hearing one’s own voice reverberate back. One begins to wonder if one’s vocal chords suddenly went mute. Like when I accidentally hit “mute” on the TV remote. Whaaa happened???

So I’m eternally grateful that Yoav plucked me out of my dilemma and set me back down on two feet…kerplunk!…in the wonderful, democracy that is WordPress.com.

Hi,

> John Burke of Word Ads informed me by email today that I wasn’t accepted for
> application because your records were not updated to show I had transitioned
to
> WordPress.org. I am truly surprised, for I never altered my WordPress status.
At
> 62, and a housewife with minimal technical skills, I have no aptitude for
> managing my own blog. I would really appreciate having my status with
> WordPress.com reconfirmed. The only change I agreed to was buying my domain
name
> “hugmamma” through WordPress in June of last year.
>
> Thank you and look forward to clarification of the matter.

This might be an error – sorry about that.
Please feel free to apply to Word Ads again.

Best,

Yoav

WordPress.com Support

In the future I’ll be laying low, keeping my head at ground level so as to stay out of the range of the overly abundant lemon tree. The two times WordPress has taken notice of me were not favorably memorable…spamming my comments and then obliterating my blog from the community a year ago, and now, banishing me to WordPress.org. I think it best “hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul” remain in the hinterlands…far from a system gone amok!

Wait a minute. Are we talking about WordPress…or…the mess our country is in?

English: flowers of the lemon tree in our garden

Image via Wikipedia

lemon tree very pretty…and the lemon flower is sweet…but the fruit of the poor lemon…is impossible to eat…

………hugmamma.  😉

 

street paper, off-the-beaten-track news

 

Uploaded by Real Change and owned by Real Chan...

Image via Wikipedia

Picked up Seattle’s street paper, Real Change, from a vendor I’ve now seen for the second time outside the local Trader Joe’s supermarket. I’ll have to ask his name the next time; he’s very helpful, pushing empty carts back into their storage areas. He even came running as I dashed between the rain drops, taking the cart and returning it for me. 

A dollar per newspaper isn’t cheap by today’s standards, and I usually hand over $2 for one paper. I can’t help but feel it’s such a small price to pay to help another human being get by. But in addition to this feel good gesture, I look forward to finding “small stories” that are absent from mainstream media. To my pleasant surprise, Real Change ran an article about Hawaii and the white man’s role in its history.

Anyone who has read or heard anything substantive about Hawaii’s history, will probably  empathize with the natives who were out-maneuvered in terms of land wealth and self-governance. Unfortunately theirs is not a unique story; the Native Americans tell a similar one. Both have the same unhappy endings, although the Indians are making a tremendous comeback with their casinos.

But the romanticism of bygone days living off the land, taking only what was needed for sustenance, allowing Mother Earth to care for all species equally, was brought to an abrupt end. Buffalo were killed making way for trains, and the Indians were corralled onto Reservations, becoming the first recipients of government welfare.

Sarah Vowell signing books after a lecture at ...

Image via Wikipedia

“Saying hello to the Aloha State‘s complicated history” is an interview with author Sarah Vowell. Guessing from the accompanying photo, she looks to be in her early 30’s. I was impressed to think someone her age was so attuned to the sad events that had transpired in my ancestral history. But when I learned that Vowell is part Cherokee, I understood her interest in Hawaii’s dealings with the white man. To do her voice justice, I am letting the author of Unfamiliar Fishes speak for herself.

Cover of

Cover of The Wordy Shipmates

Cover of

Cover of Assassination Vacation

Sarah Vowell is a very, very busy person. She’s the New York Times bestselling author of “Assassination Vacation” and “The Wordy Shipmates,” a frequent contributor to Public Radio International‘s “This American Life” and she serves on the board of Dave Egger’s educational nonprofit organization 826NYC. She even lent her trademark deadpan vocal delivery to Pixar’s 2004 animated feature “The Incredibles.”

Vowell’s writing combines conventions of history, journalism and tongue-in-cheek satire that is often as hilarious as it is thought-provoking. She revels in the absurdities and contradictions of American history, exposing the hypocrasies of power while remaining personally committed to the ideals upon which our democracy was founded. Her latest book, “Unfamiliar Fishes,” explores the history of Hawaii, and the American missionaries, sailors, plantation owners and imperialists who arrived on its shores in the 19th century. Vowell recently took some time out of her busy schedule to discuss her work with Real Change. …

What is the historical significance of the glop of macaroni salad on a Hawaiian plate lunch?
On a Hawaiian plate lunch, which is a traditional mixed plate that is served throughout the Hawaiian islands, there is always a scoop of macaroni salad along with two scoops of Japanese style rice and then some sort of Asian or Polynesian fish or meat. The macaroni salad is this little American anomaly amidst that Pacific smorgasbord and the whole lunch hints at the multiethnic saga that is the history of Hawaii, starting with the arrival of the New England missionaries in 1820 and going up through the 19th century when the missionaries and their offspring founded the sugar plantations that became the foundation of the Hawaiian economy for about a century. And for those plantations to run, those New Englanders and their descendants had to import labor from all over the world–Japan, China, the Philippines and Korea–but also Portugal, and to a lesser extent Norway. My book is mostly about those people: the Haole, the Caucasians, the Americans who showed up and changed the islands. And so a glop of macaroni salad is not just a glop of macaroni salad: It’s indicative of centuries of change.

How do the words “aloha” and “haole” represent the differences between Hawaiian and Western cultures?
“Aloha” is to my mind the most Hawaiian word, and on the mainland we just hear that it means “hello” and “goodbye,” which is true and it also basically means “love.” But, literally translated, it has to do with the word “breath.” It can mean “the breath of life,” and the reason it’s said as a greeting is that the traditional Polynesian greeting is when two people touch noses and then literally breathe each other in.

Now the word “haole”–which also contains that word “ha,” the word for breath–there’s a sort of old wives’ tale or myth that the word “haole” connotes “without breath,” because the first Westerners who came to the islands, they did not greet one another in traditional Hawaiian. So, it’s supposed to be symbolic of how alienated the white people are from the breath of life. But really, it’s an old word and it can mean anything non-native including plants or animals. The story that I tell in the book is basically about the coming of the white people in general and the New Englanders in particular. These people changed the islands and a lot of native Hawaiians think for the worse. Besides their ideas about Christianity, capitalism and private land ownership, they also brought with them their diseases, which had a devastating effect on the native population, just as it did in the Americas. So the coming of the whites to Hawaii is a pretty complicated story and there’s some resentment toward those people on the part of native Hawaiians, which I find understandable.

Native Hawaiians

Image via Wikipedia

Generally though, Hawaii is a pretty easy-going, accepting place, and because of its multiethnic heritage, it is wildly integrated, especially compared to the rest of the country. It’s rare to find someone who was born in Hawaii who is just one race. Even the people who identify as native Hawaiian might have Chinese grandparents and American grandparents. But the origins of that are kind of nefarious. The reason that so many different kinds of people were shipped there wasn’t because the sugar plantation owners had this “It’s a small world after all” mentality. Their goal was to bring in workers from as many different places as possible because they felt that people who  spoke different languages were less likely to organize against the plantation owners.

How did the arrival of the New England missionaries in 1820 affect the institutions of Hawaiian society?
Radically. Those missionaries, they were smart people. As New Englanders, they were pretty democratic: Their only goal was to usher as many people into heaven as possible and they didn’t care whether those people were commoners or chiefs. But they recognized that because Hawaiian society was so hierarchical, they were going to have to convert and convince the monarchs and the other aristocrats first. And by sucking up to the ruling class, one major impact the missionaries had on society at large was convincing the Hawaiian government to outlaw fornication and adultery and to regulate liquor. Just as the first New England missionaries arrived, the first New England whalers had pretty much opposite goals than the missionaries, and so the Hawaiians got to witness Americans at our worst, at both our most puritanical and our most Orlando spring break.

Then, when the missionaries and their offspring started the sugar plantations, that completely revolutionized the Hawaiian landscape. They built these complicated, engineered irrigation ditches and diverted water so that places that had been dusty dry plains and near deserts became green with sugar cane. In traditional Hawaiian society, land had been held communally and was managed by the chief in concert with the commoners, but with the sugar trade, it became the American capitalist system of plantations overseen and owned mostly by white people and worked mostly by foreign workers. The native Hawaiians were increasingly shut out of their land and the Hawaiian population was decimated by as much as 80, maybe 90 percent, just by disease, so it’s hard to overemphasize how much impact the haoles had on Hawaiian life, government, culture, everything.

You write about David Malo as a figure who embodies the transitional period of Hawaiian history between traditional culture and Westernization. How does his life and work capture this?
Well, he’s a really interesting figure, and probably because he’s a writer, I really identify with him. When the first missionaries showed up, he was pretty old. He was nearing 30 when they taught him to read and write, and he happened to be, luckily, one of the Hawaiians who had been the keepers of the oral tradition. So he knew all the old chants and genealogies and was intimately aware and knowledgeable of all the old customs and the stories of the old chiefs and priests and the old religion. So after the missionaries taught him to read and write, he wrote “Hawaiian Antiquities.” He also became a very devout Christian and was eventually ordained as a minister.

But later in life, he still had nostalgia for the old ways even though he (was) a true servant of Jesus Christ. He wrote this rather melancholy letter to some Hawaiian friends that I quote in the title to my book: “If a big wave comes in, large and unfamiliar fishes will come from the dark ocean and when they see the small fishes of the shallows they will eat them up.” And it turned out to be the truth. When he died, he asked to be buried up this hill that was really hard to get to because he just wanted to be where no white man would build a house. But his book is really quite beautiful.

Native Hawaiians

Image via Wikipedia

The events leading up to the U.S. annexation of Hawaii were driven by the opposing ideals of Lorrin Thurston and Queen Liliuokalani. Can you explain the political and cultural conflicts between these two figures?
Lorrin Thurston’s major problem with Queen Liliuokalani was just that she was a queen. Even though he was born in Hawaii and because he was a descendant of the missionaries, the whole idea of monarchy was just something to disdain. And that is something I can kind of identify with. To me, there’s no inherent value in monarchy. That said, the Hawaiian kingdom was an established constitutional monarchy and as monarchies go, it was wildly inclusive. I mean, the Hawaiian monarchs welcomed all these foreigners into their kingdom and into their government, including Thurston.

Ship's landing force at the time of the overth...

Image via Wikipedia

Although to me there’s nothing inherently great about a queen, she was, I think, for that time and place, pretty much the ideal ruler. She was an impressive person who was schooled by the missionaries, so she was a very devout Christian who at the same time was a very proud and knowledgeable native Hawaiian. So by the time the queen became the queen she was plotting to reverse that constitution which had also severely limited native Hawaiians’ right to vote for their representatives. That’s when Thurston and his pals conspired to oust her to support their own sham of a constitution. Even though she had overwhelming native support, the native population was in such decline that there just weren’t enough of them to put up much of a fight.

The Three Cherokee. Came over from the head of...

Image via Wikipedia

You write about a double-sided view of American history that you have come to know through your own experience. How does Hawaii represent this notion of America as two places at once?
I’m part Cherokee and was born in Oklahoma because some of my ancestors were forced by the U.S. Army at gunpoint to march across the country in what came to be called the Trail of Tears. So, that’s always been a little bit of a caveat to the story of American exceptionalism that I was certainly taught in school. You know, I’m all for self-government and the First Amendment and all that stuff–but there’s always a part of me that knows firsthand about the failures of those ideals.

The annexation of Hawaii, as many of the dissenters of the time pointed out, really does contradict the ideals put forth in the Declaration of Independence. In 1898, when the U.S. annexed Hawaii along with Guam and Puerto Rico and invaded the Philippines and Cuba, we became a global empire overnight. A group of Americans, a lot of them in the highest echelons of the government, were more concerned with power and greatness than our core ideals of republican forms of government. One of those men was Henry Cabot Lodge and he gave (this speech) in 1900 to poo-poo all of the anti-imperialist sissies where he just demolished the idea that consent of the governed is even possible. He talked about Thomas Jefferson, the author of that phrase, being the greatest expansionist in American history who, when he negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, acquired the biggest chunk of land at once that we had ever acquired, and it didn’t even occur to him to ask the consent of all the French colonials and Indians who were living out on that vast continent he had just taken over. So, I think Lodge sort of has a point.

It is interesting to me that throughout American history, this idea of government based on the consent of the governed is at our core, but also this contradictory process of expansion. The Hawaiian annexation definitely is a part of that because the Hawaiian people, once annexation was afoot, they rallied and collected thousands and thousands of signatures and sent them to Congress, protesting annexation. It was definitely something that the Hawaiian people were completely against and yet the United States annexed those islands anyway. So, I guess in that sense it jibes with my view of the country as having these lofty ideals that we frequently betray.

Interviewed by Robert Alford
Contributing Writer           

egyptians, no different

I haven’t as yet delved into what the media is printing about the current Egyptian uprising. I only know what I see and hear on TV. At the moment, until things resolve themselves one way or the other, it’s a lot of information to digest. Trying to decipher what I think of everything isn’t something I can wrap my brain around right now. The outcome of their fate ultimately rests in the hands of the Egyptians themselves, from the top politico to the peon in the street.

The one thought that runs through my mind is that because of technology, a combination of television, computers, mobile devices, the internet and its myriad of tools, people around the world, living in hovels or palaces, can witness what occurs in other countries. And like snapshots retained in our memories, what we see can fester in our subconsciences for a long time, until we decide to act upon them.

It’s my personal feeling that both President Obama and the Tea Party Movement have been catalysts in what we are now witnessing in Egypt and Tunisia. While there are those who disagree, I think the President has shown himself to be a champion of the middle and lower classes. From health care reform embracing 13,000,000 Americans without insurance to speaking up for better education for the less fortunate, he has shown himself to be the son of a woman who died of cancer while fighting for health insurance coverage.

The Tea-Partiers have successfully shown millions at home and abroad, that the masses can unite via the internet to unseat politicians, replace them with candidates of their choosing, and ultimately, influence government decisions. Heady stuff for a movement started by 2 Atlanta housewives, Amy Kremer and Jenny Beth Martin, strangers to one another, who were stewing over the economic downturn and its negative impact upon their lives. (My post of 11/3/10, “two housewives,”founders of tea party movement”.) Power to the people has never been more overwhelmingly proven than in what these 2 ordinary citizens initiated, to have it become the Tea Party Movement as we know it today, a force with which to be reckoned.

History has proven time and again, that people will rise up to challenge whom they perceive as their oppressors. We who enjoy the benefits of an American democracy can do so far more rationally than countries ruled by dictators. We can protest without provoking full-out civil war. I think we learned our lesson a long time ago under another president I admire, Abraham Lincoln. He too was not a favorite of all Americans, but he did the best he could, according to the principles in which he believed, one being that all people, including slaves, should live freely.

The Egyptians, and Tunisians, want to choose how to live their own lives. Like us they want to earn a living, provide for their families, take pleasure in small things, and give their children hope for a better future. Not so much to ask for really. In fact, they just want what we Americans already enjoy.

I may have oversimplified the unrest that rages in the Middle East. But sometimes the experts complicate matters by interjecting too much hyperbole. I’m not an expert, just an ordinary housewife who understands that people like me just want to make a decent life for our families. Not a big deal really, but, in fact, it is a really big deal when we’ve only got one chance to live our best lives.

people the world over want the same things…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…hugmamma.

something in common, Obama and the electorate

Am posting the words of another author, as I’ve done before. Bret Stephens’ article, “Not the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For,” appeared in the Wall Street Journal’s OPINION page, on November 2, Election Day. It doesn’t seem he’s a fan of Obama, but it’s for sure he’s not a fan of the electorate who voted the president into office, especially those complaining about his performance now. I don’t agree with all he says, but what Stephens posits is thought-provoking. You, dear reader, can decide for yourself.

And so, today, the American people will seek an honest reckoning with Barack Obama. Good luck with that. Whatever his other virtues–not the least of which is campaigning on tautological slogans while passing himself off as Marcel Proust–this president will never be distinguished by his humility: Don’t expect from him a decent admission, as George W. Bush had the decency to admit after the 2006 midterm, that his party had sustained a “thumping.” Instead he will immediately decamp to places where he is still admired. That means exiting the country.

So expect no reckoning there. Nor should Americans expect one with the Democrats. If the party does a little less disastrously than anticipated, it will rally like a stock whose quarterly losses are slightly less bad than had been projected. And if it’s Götterdämmerung, then we already know the narrative: secret sources of funding, plus a failure of communication. On which last score, they have a point: When your “accomplishments” consist of legislation nobody is allowed to read prior to the vote, and nobody can comprehend after it, then no wonder the swine have failed to take appreciative note of the pearls.

No, the only reckoning Americans can hope to get–and the one they most need to have–is the one they’re least likely to seek. That is a reckoning with themselves.

Pundits, particularly those who lean right, are schooled always to praise the wisdom of the electorate. Please. Only three years ago, Americans became acquainted with a junior U.S. senator with an interesting personal history, notable rhetorical gifts, programmatically liberal ideas and zero legislative accomplishments. Whereupon he was hailed as a saint and elected president.

In Argentina or Venezuela such behavior may be unexceptional. But we’re America, as they say: We’re supposed to be into celebrity culture, not cult-of-personality politics. What happened?

Maybe Americans were sold on Mr. Obama as the man who could deliver them from the financial crisis. I don’t buy it. Six months before Lehman Brothers collapsed, he delivered his instantly celebrated and soon forgotten race speech in Philadelphia. Historian Garry Wills compared it to Abraham Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech. Others called it “stirring,” “brave” and “flat-out brilliant.” This for an address in which the candidate defended his anti-American, anti-semitic pastor by outing his dying white grandmother as a woman prone to racist slurs.

Alternatively, perhaps Americans believed that Mr. Obama could make the United States beloved in the eyes of the world again. And maybe there’s something to this. He did wow them in Berlin. But what kind of electorate surrenders itself to the good opinion of a Kreutzberg Kaffee-klatsch or a Damascene hookah bar? As president, Mr. Obama also offered an outstretched hand to Iran and gave a big speech in Cairo to the Muslim world at large. Yet Iran continues to enrich, and the parcel bombs keep getting posted in the mail. How did anyone ever expect it would be otherwise?

The answer is that as in relationships, so too in politics: Infatuation clouds judgment. You bank on the empty promises even as you refuse to take the object of your desire at his most precise word. Americans disillusioned today with the president for his health-care legislation, his refusal to extend his predecessor’s tax cuts, his ties to labor unions and groups such as Acorn, and his belief in the regulatory state, can’t honestly say that they were promised otherwise during the campaign. They got almost exactly what they voted for–or at least they got an honest political stab at it. If Mr. Obama now thinks that they have no right to complain, he has a point.

True, the president hasn’t delivered on the promises of unity–of postracial, postpartisan, perhaps even post-American politics. These days, it’s friends versus enemies, the politics of right-thinking people versus the politics of fearmongers.

That’s not surprising. What is surprising are the masses of people who gave themselves over to the fantasy of unity in the first place. In a democracy, disunity is not just the reality, it’s the premise. To wish for unity is to wish for an entirely different kind of politics, or perhaps something beyond politics itself, like religious transcendence.

Americans spent most of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st fighting against that kind of wish, which goes by the name of totalitarianism and comes in fascist, communist or Islamist varieties. No, I’m not saying Mr. Obama is a closet totalitarian; on the contrary, he’s nothing if not a partisan pol. But the people who donned those creepy T-shirts with Mr. Obama looking to the far distance like a latter-day Che Guevara were wholly in the mold of Eric Hoffer’s true believers. In an earlier era they would have found their life’s purpose as followers of Shabtai Tzvi, William Davies or Father Divine.

And so Americans go to the polls. Democracy being what it is, it holds not only our leaders to account, but our own political choices as well. Plainly Barack Obama was not the one we’ve been waiting for. But let’s have the grace to admit we weren’t the ones we’d been waiting for, either.

Write to bstephens@wsj.com

 I’m not sure who Stephens dislikes more, the president or those of us who elected him. While there certainly are many who are disenchanted with what Obama has, or has not, done; there are probably just as many, like me, who feel he has tried to do the best with the “hand he was dealt.” Yes, he has had to compromise, to pass through legislation. He might have preferred to write a new set of Ten Commandments, obligating us to do as he says. But alas, the presidency is not a “one man show,” contrary to current popular belief. He too, has had to make “detours,” which he probably hadn’t bargained for. That’s life. Even presidents are allowed to make mistakes. George W. Bush did, and it almost landed us into another Depression.

I’ve never thought of Obama as a “saint,” or a “messiah.” I reserve that for my husband, who has to put up with me. He might even claim that’s a bigger job than running a country. Actually, I thought of the President as a guy from Hawaii who was going to encourage the rest of America to do things the way the 50th state does, with “Aloha Spirit.” It may be, that the other 49 states aren’t ready for our laid back, accommodating, everybody’s-got-a-place-in- the-sun, attitude.

The island way is not perfect, that’s for sure. But most visitors to Hawaii leave feeling it’s a special place, where the people are special. It’s an inherent mind-set, where the natives prefer to “get along” with one another, rather than expending energy coveting what belongs to others. Maybe we’re “pupule” (crazy) to think the “Aloha Spirit” can thrive outside of the islands, but it’s just not in our nature to stop trying. Growing up in Hawaii, I’m sure the “Aloha Spirit” rubbed off on the President. So it may have been naive of him to think he could govern with it, but perhaps he knew no other way. Like us, his personal “baggage” is the framework from which he operates.

Sarah Palin brought her 49th state experience to the national political scene, as did Obama who brought his life experience in the 50th state to bear in his political career. I wonder if these two who hail from “the last frontier”, and “an island paradise,” respectively, can truly find commonality with the electorate throughout the other 48 states? Whether or not they can, they are both major league players in our country’s politics.

Unlike Stephens, I think we strive for unity in our democracy, even though we may fall short. America’s Founding Fathers were religious men, whose beliefs permeated the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. So maybe it’s not so far-fetched to think that we unconsciously, or consciously, incorporate our spirituality into our politics. Maybe it is fanciful thinking, but I like to believe our souls are what elevates us to be guardians of all that is available for our use on earth.

I’m not a fan of Stephen’s cynicism, but it did make me think.

how about you?…hugmamma.