02 March 2021


Early in the afternoon on October 7, 1992, a bunch of us piled into various vehicles and screamed east on I-20. We stopped briefly in Vicksburg to grab my husband from work, then accelerated as fast as we dared. We had to get to Birmingham, Alabama, by 6:30. There may have been warm beer involved

We pull in to Legion Field, pay way too much for parking, and tumble out, slightly inebriated and shaking with excitement. The concert promoter we worked with on the Union Board at NLU had managed to get 10 tickets for the U2 show for us. Most of us had never seen them live (One person had a near encounter with the band in Baton Rouge five years before. We all resented  him to a degree.) We enter the stadium and it is throbbing with the anticipation of 71,000+ people. It was the largest event I had ever attended - it was overwhelming. 

Brian looks at me, I look at him, and we both smile and race to the entrance. We knew our seats were on the floor and weren't surprised when the usher waved us on. We get to the next section - and they wave us on.  Then, they wave us on again. And again. Where were we going? Another usher waves us through. Holy Crap. We're in the first section. We weave our way through the crowd and eventually - find our seats. 8th row. Sweet merciful father - we are mere feet from the stage. 

The opening acts were still playing - which is what Brian and I were so excited about. It wasn't the Clash, but it was as close as we were ever going to get to seeing them. Big Audio Dynamite. 

Damn.  That was a show. U2 wasn't bad either. ;)

19 February 2021

Losing My Religion

Thirty years ago, R.E.M. released arguably their most successful song. It isn't their best song, or my favorite, but it is the song that  catapulted them from critics' darling to multi-platinum success. Some say its album, Out Of Time, is the demarcation line between two different R.E.M.s. I disagree - I think that lies with Green, their first album on Warner after leaving IRS. But there is definitely something different about this song and its album than its predecessors. Whether that something is good, or bad, is hard to say. When you enjoy what an artist is doing, it's difficult to see them change, to evolve. Many old R.E.M. fans hated this song and just about everything they did moving forward. I thought that was a little extreme. I was happy for them - they deserved the success. But, I will admit, I consider the best R.E.M. album post Document to be The King Is Dead by The Decemebrists.

Anyway, this documentary looks at the song's origin and impact not only on R.E.M., but American society.  Worth thirty minutes of your time.  

BTW - I had never in my life heard the phrase "Lost my religion" before I heard this song. And I'm pretty Southern. Of course, I'm from a different part of the South than Stipe, so maybe that's it.

Also, I feel really, really old.

History of the Hit Song: Losing My Religion

20 January 2021

E Pluribus Unum

It doesn't seem like it was twelve years ago that I cried tears of joy as our nation's first black president was sworn in. His youth, his vision, his hope. I cried again today - not from joy, although there is joy there. But from relief. 

Relief that our democracy withstood its greatest test in 160 years. Relief that I can wake up and read the news in the morning without having to brace myself for some atrocity which undermines the very fabric of our nation was committed or uttered in the name of the United States. Relief that the majority of my fellow Americans rejected lies, division, and fascism and instead chose truth, unity, and democracy. 

Unity comes through justice  - legal, economic, racial, and criminal. For all. 

It will not happen in a week, or a year, or even one presidential term.  But we must see that it happens. 

Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light;

Four years ago, I made some dire predictions about the incoming President. I was wrong. It was worse than I predicted. He shook the literal foundations of our democracy. But, they held. And today, we see the inauguration of the antithesis of the last president. 

Joe Biden is a good man. You may disagree with his politics, but his innate humanity can not be questioned.  He truly lives his faith, attending mass with the leaders of the opposition, before he takes on the monumental task of leading this fractured nation  to a better place.

Pres. Biden reminds me of what is best about the faith of my father. While it's been many years since I attended mass, this prayer, which I first heard at Our Lady of Fatima Elementary School, from a Franciscan nun,  is very much the center of my life. And based on the life he's led, at the center of Pres. Biden's. 

The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


13 January 2021

Complicity and Consequences

As the House meets for the second time in thirteen months to impeach the sitting president, some disturbing information is coming to light.

Ali Alexander, a right wing extremist and organizer of the Stop the Steal rally that provided cover for the coup attempt, has named three specific Congressmen who "helped him." - Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Mo Brooks (Ala.) and Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.),  They of course, deny any knowledge or relationship, despite their presence at multiple previous rallies organized by Alexander, including Jan. 6, and tweets from their accounts signaling Alexander out for his patriotism and friendship.  (Alexander also said that VP elect Harris is not a "real" Black American.)  LINK

Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ 11), a former federal prosecutor and decorated Navy pilot, told her constituents in a FB live event last night that she observed, "members of Congress [with] groups coming through the Capitol ... on Jan. 5 — a reconnaissance for the next day." She also affirmed her intent "to see they are held accountable, and if necessary, ensure that they don't serve in Congress." It is worth noting here that the Capitol has been closed to the public since March 2020. How and why were members of Congress escorting GROUPS around the building? LINK

The FBI arrested Lonnie Coffman from the great state of Alabama with a truck filled with weapons including guns and molotov cocktails, among other things. He reportedly asked if they "had found the bombs yet." Also in the truck - a list of good guys and bad guys that highlighted a federal judge and Muslim members of Congress. Also found - personal contact info for show host Mark Levin, Fox News' Sean Hannity and Sen. Ted Cruz, (R-Texas). LINK

The seditious rioters planned their actions once the Capitol was breached. They helpfully posted video of themselves on Twitter. They possessed detailed information of the building and talked of accessing lower levels through specific rooms that are not common knowledge. There are also multiple reports that even more specific plans were mentioned repeatedly on Parler prior to the coup. Since Palrer has been hacked and archived - I'm sure that information will be available soon. LINK

Multiple Republican members of Congress have confided in Democratic colleagues that they want to vote to impeach but they have received credible death threats against not only themselves, but also their families. LINK

So, let's review. The seditious rioters have direct links to sitting members of Congress. The same rioters had detailed schematics of the Capitol building that are not widely available, including of the underground escape tunnels.Congressional members were observed giving tours to GROUPS of people in violation of the COVID safety measures the day prior to the attack. 


This is difficult to process. It is difficult to look at the overwhelming amount of information pointing to the complicity, if not direct conspiratorial involvement, of sitting members of Congress in the coup attempt. Drawing connections between unrelated incidents is how we as a nation got to this place but the information is pretty damning. 

How we as a nation navigate this maelstrom will define us. Will we purge our White House, our Congress, and our society, of violent, seditious fascists and bigots? If we don't, what will we have left? We will no longer be a functioning democratic republic. We will be a shell of a nation, a fractured shell of what could have been.

Members of the Republican caucus are standing on the House floor, equivocating about the actions of the president on January 6. There is no middle ground on this question - you stand with democracy or you stand with fascism. 

12 January 2021

A little dark humor

 This was just funny to me. That's all. :)

11 January 2021

Framing the Narrative

I was incredibly fortunate, as I’ve noted multiple times, to have several excellent writing instructors in my life. In addition to basic grammar and syntax, they spent time on stylistic elements that, when implemented, transform writing. One of those is framing the narrative – how you choose and present the information to support your argument. Developing that skill aided me enormously in college and beyond – it strengthened my voice as a writer and as a debater. I stop and consider – even for a split second – how I am framing my narrative. It also influenced my choice of history as a profession – I was interested to explore how different people look at the same set of facts and come away with such radically different interpretations – how they frame their narratives. 

As more information comes out, it is obvious that various news outlets and political figures are using this technique – framing the narrative. Mainstream media across the globe, with the exception of Fox News, is united in presenting the events of the last week as an attempted coup, aided and abetted by the POTUS and perhaps other highly placed political appointees as well as elected officials. This is supported with a seemingly endless stream of videos, tweets, and social media posts of “patriots” ruthlessly assaulting police officers while looting and desecrating the nation’s capitol. Tech giants and corporations are exercising their discretion as private companies, invoking the terms of service to limit their exposure to the illegal, unconstitutional, violent behavior of the President and his followers. Congress must act swiftly and decisively to punish the President and the insurrectionists to not only set a precedent, but to preserve our democracy. 

The supporters of the President look at that same information and frame it as a First Amendment issue. It wasn’t a coup – it was a First Amendment protest that got out of hand. These aren't criminals – they are patriots, exercising their right to assemble, protest, and petition who got swept up in the moment. Private companies are stifling free speech in violation of the Bill of Rights. He learned his lesson – he’ll behave. He leaves office in X number of days – to impeach or censure would just further divide.

How did we get to such very different places? That’s a question that historians will debate for decades but there is something more pressing. How can we prevent the false narrative from becoming the dominant narrative?

Many elected representatives, former government figures, and media are pushing back – refusing to allow that reframing, deliberately phrasing questions and answer to hammer home the fact that this was a coup. This is what happened. This is why we must do something in response. If we don’t – it is a very real possibility that we will descend into a fascist dictatorship. That must continue. Individuals need to do the same – if you see or hear such language from friends, family, and co-workers – push back. Yeah – they’ll get upset. They may unfriend you or stop speaking to you – but it is imperative that the majority, and that’s what we are, push back. Not controlling the narrative is one reason we are where we are. (That’s a whole other missive!)

One talking point of the false narrative that is particularly irritating to me is the idea that there is only one response, that we can’t follow more than one avenue.…. NO. 

Yes. We. Can.

We can impeach. We can censure. We can hold a trial in the Senate. We can fight the pandemic. We can start the process of rebuilding our decimated bureaucratic infrastructure (another missive!) We can walk and chew gum at the same time. It won’t be quick, or easy, or clean. Most significant change is not and in the moment, it looks too daunting to attempt. And that is the moment we face now – a daunting challenge, and opportunity, to once and for all fulfill our nation’s promises.

10 January 2021

The Iceberg is Coming into View

There is so much information streaming in from so many directions. I live for news and I'm drowning so can't imagine how overwhelmed others who aren't current event junkies feel. I have found a few pieces that summarize/analyze various aspects of the attempted coup of Wednesday, January 6, 2021.

It was so much worse than we initially thought. The Washington Post, CNN, Slate, and Politico all have frightening timelines of what happened inside the Capitol as the mob broke through.

This compilation of a Twitter thread from Seth Abramson is particularly interesting. He analyzes the rhetoric and timing of Trump's speech to the crowd that became the mob. He brings up some salient points that may be of interest as the investigations move beyond the low hanging fruit of social media numbskulls. The role of Rudi Guiliani and the call for the participation of the military and law enforcement could possibly indicate coordination of the Trump machine and appointees in the military. Remember, several key people in the DoD were purged a few weeks ago and replaced with loyalists. This picture, which seems to confirm the presence of a Putin ground agent at the Capitol that day, also suggests outside coordination, perhaps with Russia? 

We all have family and friends that have gone down the right-wing misinformation rabbit hole.Jillian Kramer of national Geographic (of all places) examines why. There are simple answers, as well as more complex psychological mechanisms at play. “For some people, conspiracy beliefs are the best way to deal with the psychological threat posed by their failure, says Marta Marchlewska, a social and political psychologist who studies conspiracy theories at the Polish Academy of Sciences. Marchlewska’s research also suggests that collective narcissism - a group’s inflated belief in its own significance. - leads them to look for imaginary enemies and adopt conspiracy explanations that blame those figments of imagination. 

The first hand accounts of the activities of the mob outside the Capitol as well as those inside are painting a chilling picture of how close the coup came to at least temporarily succeeding. The harrowing video of the young Capitol police officer being crushed between two doors as the mob attacked the security team guarding an exterior door is indicative of the coordinated, military-style tactics part of the mob used. Danny Gold links to video of the mob attacking AP reporters and threatening to lynch them as they covered the attack. (May require and Instagram account to view. I haven't tested it to see.) 

This analysis of the actions of a lone Capitol police officer suggests that his heroic actions perhaps averted the capture of Pence and other leadership by the mob. When confronted by a portion of the mob, he initiates contact and deliberately leads the mob away from the main chamber, giving cover for those inside to barricade and evacuate. 

Of course, all major social media platforms have permanently banned soon to be ex-POTUS Trump, and Amazon even closed down Parler, the upstart extremist haven. Trump is cornered, humiliated, and angry. He is lashing out and increasingly desperate. As Arnold Schwarzenegger so powerfully lays out in his video statement, we are on the precipice - we have a choice. We must take this coup attempt seriously and hold Trump, his allies, his accomplices, and the rioters accountable.