If it weren't for the French..

My Latest Letter to President Trump

I sent this via the Amnesty International web page at http://act.amnestyusa.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1839&ea.campaign.id=62058.

Dear President Trump,

You are the anti-Superman because you stand for untruth, injustice and the unAmerican way. I am proud of how real Americans are standing up to your hateful, unpatriotic policies. If you continue down your current path, you will go down in history as the worst president ever. People will put you in a class with Adolph Hitler and, as with his name, your name will only be used to represent pure evil or it will be used as the punchline of a stupid joke. Your legacy is going to be one of stupid missteps and horrendous injustices.

It's time you started doing the job America hired you to do. You need to learn understand the full repercussions of what you are planning before you implement a plan. Learn to listen to the trained advisors around you (not those yes-men you like to surround yourself with). Work with these people to make good decisions that benefit all Americans and make the world a better place. America has often been a symbol of freedom and good. Don't take that away from us.

Learn to do what's right for us, and for the world, so that your name will shine with greatness instead of dripping with ridicule. Because, if you continue on your current path, all you will be is an Elmer Fudd version of Adolph Hitler and people will sneer and laugh at you throughout the ages.

Carol Cdozo

"The voice of the majority may be that of force triumphant, content with the plaudits of the hour, and recking little of the morrow. The dissenter speaks to the future, and his voice is pitched to a key that will carry through the years."
US Supreme Court Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo
Space Cadet

In Honor of the Day

Me in my Pussy Hat. My non-knitting sister knitted it for me with spirit and love and I will be wearing it proudly at the Women's March in Austin tomorrow. (https://twitter.com/hashtag/PussyHat?src=hash):

Me - Pussy Hat

My cousin, the US Supreme Court judge Benjamin Cardozo, speaking about dissent:

Cardozo Quote - Dissent

My cousin, the poet Emma Lazarus, writing about immigration:

The New Colossus - Emma Lazarus

I believe in the power of protest. I've been going to demonstrations since I was about 5 years old. Here's a flier from one I probably went to when I was in junior high school. Progress is slow, but back then, few people thought there would be a black president in our lifetimes, gay marriage wasn't even a concept and almost no one thought that marijuana would ever be legal anywhere in the United States. Change is slow, and it takes work. But our overall progress has been for the better.

The More Things Change...
Space Cadet

Happy Three Kings Day!

I'm in Connecticut and it snowed last night. The Christmas tree is still up. All of the tinsel and half the ornaments are off, but it's still festive.

When I was a kid, over Advent and Christmas, my mom would tell us about the Three Kings and their journey to see the baby Jesus. She'd also tell us how, in Cuba where she grew up, on Three Kings Day the kids would put shoes outside the front door with hay in the shoes for the Three Kings' camels or horses, to eat.

Now, as a grown-up, most days, over the Advent/Christmas season, I will stop to imagine the Three Kings traveling through whatever weather I'm experiencing at the time, as they slowly make their way carrying their gifts. Sometimes my imagined kings have horses or camels and huge entourages with folks that go ahead of them to set up huge fancy camps, sometimes the kings are alone and on foot, sleeping on the ground under simple tarp tents. However my imagined kings travel, they always have a lot of faith and a little uncertainty. So in addition to immense joy, they feel a fair amount of relief when they finally make it to the baby in the manger.

As a result of this mini mental-movie, I love Three Kings Day.

In honor of the day, here's a wonderful song, not about the Three Kings (Three Kings songs seem to be mopey), but about the reason for the season. This is the best example of a Joyful Noise that I know of.

With the distortion from the old recording, and Mahalia's unique phrasing, some of the lyrics can be hard to understand, so I'm including them. But it's not just the lyrics, it's the way she sings it -- her profound faith and amazing joy is contagious.

Go Tell It On the Mountain - as sung by Mahalia Jackson

Go, tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born

They found my Lord Savior
Was laying in a manger
Came down from Glory
To save this world from sin


Go, tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born

The shepherd kept watching
O’er the wandering flock
By night behold down from heaven
Shine a holy light

Let us praise him!

Go, tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born
If it weren't for the French..

Of Thee I Sing

I tend to process events through songs. This election has brought up two songs, one ominously prophetic and one reassuringly resigned, and I think both visions are true. For a lot of people, life under Trump is going to get worse. The system is going to slip away from supporting diversity and increasing protections for people who need protection, and that is truly terrible. Odds are that innocent people will die as a direct result. But I also believe that my country will endure, and, over time, get back on track to increasing protections for people who need them and increasing freedom wherever possible. It's a slow meandering course and sometimes it goes backward. But overall, if Trump doesn't blow us all up, more changes will be made for the good than for the bad -- probably not while Trump is president, but in the next 100 years. So, I worry and am sad for the immediate future, but I am calm and have faith in the far future. The two songs below have been playing in my head as my brain considers our near and our far futures.

The first song, Handlebars, by Flobots, is frighteningly prescient. George was in middle school when it first came out in 2008. He played it for me and it unnerved me back then. Now it unnerves me even more. The video is worth watching. Here's part of the lyrics:

I know how to run a business
And I can make you wanna buy a product
Movers shakers and producers
Me and my friends understand the future
I see the strings that control the system
I can do anything with no assistance 'cause
I can lead a nation with a microphone
With a microphone
With a microphone...

The other song is American Tune by Paul Simon. This is my go-to song when I'm upset with my country. I have so much love for, and faith in, America that it's overwhelming. We have so much potential. But there are a lot of different people here and they want many different things. As a result, I know, and accept, that things won't always go my way. But it still frustrates me when people don't see how horribly wrong they are. It makes me sad when all I can do is hunker down and wait it out, but that's part of living in a democracy. So I will hunker and I will wait, because my country is worth it. Here's part of the lyrics:

And I don't know a soul who's not been battered
I don't have a friend who feels at ease
I don't know a dream that's not been shattered
or driven to its knees
But it's all right, it's all right
We've lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road
we're traveling on
I wonder what went wrong
I can't help it, I wonder what went wrong

Space Cadet

No Matter What You've Lost...

And you to whom adversity has dealt the final blow,
With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go,
Turn to and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain,
And like the Mary Ellen Carter rise again...

from The Mary Ellen Carter by Stan Rogers

Space Cadet

What a Week

It's been quite a week.

It started with over 24 hours of no power because I didn't pay my electric bill, and then when they went to reconnect the power, they connected the meter at the wrong house. It was not a big hassle (and I learned a lot about my emergency light set-up that I will post later). But it was a weird start to the week.

Then, a couple of days ago, my cat Chloe's back legs stopped working right. She was old and had been slowly fading, and the vet and I agreed that it was time to put her to sleep. It was rough.

Yesterday I buried her. I had to cut a path to the cat-burying place and I'm somewhat out of shape, so the whole process was tiring and sad. But I got her planted along with a few acorns, a couple of Mexican plum pits and some wildflower seeds. Hopefully I'll get some kittens, an oak tree or two, some plums and a bunch of pretty flowers out of the deal.

Then this morning I woke to a noise in, or near, the house. Of course for a moment I thought it was Chloe. Then I figured it was some animal wandering under the house. So I got up to check. Half asleep, I walked in the front room and there was a guy standing there, so I punched him in the face. Then I grabbed him by the shirt and started yelling at him to "GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE!" I shoved him to the door, punching him and yelling and he opened the door and I pushed him out. I chased him down the driveway yelling and punching him until it dawned on me to make a video of him. I made a crummy video and then followed him down the street yelling while I called 911. Miraculously a game warden was driving by in his truck, so I flagged him down and he detained the guy. The 911 operator really wanted me to go home, so once I was convinced the game warden would keep the guy til the cops got there I went home. Early on in the situation, I established he was just a homeless guy looking for a place to sleep. The cops have charged him with criminal trespass. I'm still pissed at him.

So that was my week. My arms are tired from burying my cat and my hand hurts from punching the guy and I really wish my cat was here right now to sit on my lap. I miss her so much.

If it weren't for the French..

Not Just Some, But All

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining, in the mean time, exposed to all the dangers of invasions from without and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to, the civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us;

For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states;

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world;

For imposing taxes on us without our consent;

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury;

For transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for pretended offenses;

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies;

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments;

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow-citizens, taken captive on the high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrection among us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in our attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them, from time to time, of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity; and we have conjured them, by the ties of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

[Signed by] JOHN HANCOCK [President]

New Hampshire

Massachusetts Bay

Rhode Island


New York

New Jersey



CHARLES CARROLL of Carrollton.


North Carolina

South Carolina

Space Cadet

Lord, she never even stopped

Guy Clark was a storyteller. Texas 1947 is about how, when he was a kid, the whole town turned out to see the first non-coal-powered sreamline train blast through his small Texas town.

And it's late afternoon
On a hot Texas day
Somethin' strange is goin' on
And we's all in the way

Well there's fifty or sixty people
Just sittin' on their cars
And the old men left their dominos
And they come down from the bars

And everybody's checkin'
Old Jack Kittrel check his watch
And us kids put our ears
To the rails to hear 'em pop

So we already knowed it
When I finally said, "Train time"
You'd a-thought that Jesus Christ
His-self was rollin' down the line

From Guy Clark - Texas 1947

Here's a link to a video of Guy playing Kerrville in 1996 accompanied by his son Travis Clark on bass.