Honor Those Who Made The Ultimate Sacrifice By Building A Better America … And A Better World!

Memorial Day. It’s a time for honoring those who paid for our freedoms with their lives. They deserve our respect for their sacrifice. But we owe them more than speeches, parades and flags on graves. We owe it to them to continue building on the promise of America to ensure that all Americans should enjoy their inalienable rights and that we should live in one nation with liberty and justice for all.

It is important to recognize the fact that many of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country paid a high price for freedoms they did not necessarily have. Consider African-Americans who served and died in the military when they faced blatant discrimination in housing, education, employment and protection under the law at home and in the military. Or the Native Americans who were treated just as badly. Or Japanese-Americans in World War II who died in Europe while others were imprisoned in internment camps in California. Or Muslims, who are vilified for their religion. Or women, who were treated like second class citizens. LGBTQ service members who had to hide their true nature lest they be killed by Americans. Or …

The fact is that they all answered the call and gave their lives that someday all Americans would  be treated fairly, equally and justly. It is a sacrifice that deserves more than lip service. It demands action. It demands that we not take our rights and responsibilities lightly. It demands that we work together to make America and the world a better place so that one day maybe no one will have to die for their country.

So what can we do? Vote! Not voting, because you don’t like the candidates or you’re too busy or some other lame excuse, is the same as spitting on the graves of those who died to preserve that right. When you don’t vote, you end up with Tea Party nut jobs in Congress and state legislatures as well as a treasonous crook in the White House!

Get involved in a local political party or a group that shares your beliefs. All politics begin at the local level. Go to council meetings, school board meetings and other forums. Make your views known. Activists make things happen.

Call, write and email your local, state and national elected representatives! Express your opinions. It can make a difference.

Protest to support groups and causes you believe in and to express your opposition to groups and policies you find objectionable.

Stand up for your beliefs and the rights of others. When we can do that, we will make this the kind of country our service members died for.

Honor their sacrifice by continuing to fight for a better America for everyone!

The Divine Miss Bri

 

 

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A Scorched Earth Defense: Stop Gorsuch At All Costs

With all the distractions involving the Trump-Russia investigation, the AHCA debacle, and the headlong rush to destroy our environment, Trump and the GOP have been hoping to wear the opposition out and assure that Neil Gorsuch is confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. THAT SIMPLY MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN!!!

Confirming Neil Gorsuch would be a unmitigated disaster for everyone who believes in equal rights for all and that corporations should not hold ultimate authority over our lives. He is cut from the same mold as the five justices who produced the Citizens United decision, one of the most egregious crimes ever committed against the American people. It opened up a flood of dark money campaign contributions and allowed the far right to literally buy their way into power.

This allowed extreme conservatives like the Koch Brothers to pour billions into electing tea party Republicans, while corporations poured money into financing obstructionists like Mitch McConnell. It’s a sad truth that if you tell a lie often enough to enough people, they’ll believe it. Consequently, we have Republicans in Congress who are some of the absolute dumbest creatures on the planet. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them switched to wearing loafers because they couldn’t figure out how to tie their shoes.

What’s even worse than their ignorance is their arrogance. They only believe in keeping their party in power, regardless of whether that involves trying to cheat the neediest

Crocodile by water edge with open mouth, Australia.

Americans with the AHCA or trying to sabotage an investigation into possible treasonous activities involving the Trump campaign. They are also some of the most racist, misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic bigots imaginable.

They fear progress as a threat to their place in the world. They want to take us back to a time when white, so-called Christian, presumably heterosexual males ran everything and nobody questioned the husband, the boss or the preacher. That, however, is a world that doesn’t exist anymore, if it ever really did in the first place.

Progress comes eventually. You can embrace it and learn to mange it or you can fight it and be destroyed by it. Gorsuch would insure that the Supreme Court helps the right roll back the progress we’ve made to date and prevent any gains. His litany of non-answers to questions from the Senate Judicial Committee, the worrisome nature of many of his lower court decisions and his political leanings leave little doubt that he should not wear the robes of a Supreme Court justice.

In addition, this Supreme Court seat was stolen by the Republicans who refused to even grant a hearing to consider President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. That was a total disregard for tradition and a dereliction of their duty under the Constitution.

This is where Democrats in the Senate must use every tool and weapon at their disposal to block confirmation of Gorsuch! They need to dig up every scrap of potentially damaging informationabout Gorsuch and publicly rake him over the coals. And, if it takes a filibuster, then they MUST filibuster! We are talking about a scorched earth defense with no surrender and no retreat.

What if McConnell and the Republicans invoke the nuclear option? Democrats need to make sure that the Republicans get burned by the fallout. We need to bring government to a screeching halt! At the same time, we need to raise more money, make more phone calls, post more blog entries, participate in more marches until we get enough progressive candidates elected to return control of our government back to all the people!

This is war! Join the fight!

The Divine Miss Bri

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Exercising Our Rights: This Is What Democracy Looks Like

“Use it or lose it!”

We use that line to talk about a number of things, but it is most appropriate when referring to our rights in a democracy. While it’s most frequently applied to voting, which is critically important, it also applies to demonstrations, marches, holding your elected representatives accountable and other forms of active, participatory democracy.

Although I grew up in the era of the Civil Rights protests and the Vietnam War protests, I was mostly too young to participate, plus I lived in a conservative area where protests of any kind were pretty much non-existent. However, at the still young age of 62 (survival tip: it’s safer to agree with me here than to argue), I was inspired by the Women’s Marches right after the inauguration. Since then, as regular readers of this blog know, I have joined the ranks of activists locally to take action in trying to defend the rights of all against the imminent threats from Trump and the far right since the election.

Today, I took another step by participating in my first protest march, an Equality March in Hartford, CT. It may not have been a huge affair compared to the Women’s Marches, but it was important for those of us who took part. Among the salient points that I took from today’s event:

First, we were a very diverse group of people supporting equality and rights over a broad spectrum of groups: Trans Rights, LGBTQ Rights, Civil Rights, Animal Rights, Workers’ Rights, Immigrant Rights and more. Within this diversity, there was a definite sense of camaraderie and fellowship because we recognize that we are all in this together. There can be no equality until we  achieve equality for all! So, we marched and chanted together for each other.

Second, we were all on the same page about making it a peaceful march. We can all be passionate without being violent about it. And there was no reason for even a cross word. Several people waved and gave us a Thumbs Up in support. We also had a police escort to help us get across intersections as a group, so we weren’t worried about anyone bothering us.

Third, the Hartford P.D. officers were very nice and respectful of us and we were respectful of them. Every situation is different, but mutual respect goes a long way in  minimizing “incidents.”  Can’t always guarantee it on either side, but it helps to try at every opportunity.

Fourth, while rarely will a single action / march / protest result in change by itself, the effects are cumulative so we need to keep it up. The only way to get the other side to understand that we are serious is to outlast them. This is not a sprint, but rather a marathon. And the race has just begun. However, we all have to pace ourselves. When we were talking amongst ourselves before the march started, we all realized there are so many events going on that it’s hard to keep track of them all. That’s good, because there’s always something going on that you can be a part of somewhere. We all need to do what we can, while still taking care of things like work, family and life.

For those of you in CT:

Saturday April 1, from 2:30 – 4 PM, the CT Rally to Support Trans Youth will take place on the steps of the CT Supreme Court building (231 Capitol Ave. Hartford) For more details, visit www.GLSEN.org .

Tuesday April 4th there will be a Teach-In: The Immorality of Inequality starting at 6 PM at the Shiloh Baptist Church (350 Albany Ave., Hartford). For more details visit www.FightFor15.org

There’s so much still to be done, so the keep the faith and stay active, my friends.

And remember to chant: We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter!

Victory will be ours!!!

Equality Through Peace and Unity

The Divine Miss Bri

 

 

 

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Money Talks: How To Hit Trump And The GOP Where It Hurts By Boycotting Their Sponsors

Every day brings a new threat to our rights and our future as well as frightening new insights into just how dysfunctional and dangerous the political situation in Washington has become. From the White House to Congress, the Trump administration and the GOP appear to be in a mad scramble to see which one can do the most damage.

Just as we thought the debacle of confirming the appointment of a totally unqualified Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education might be as low as the Senate GOP could go, self-appointed Senate dictator Mitch McConnell and his band of knuckle-dragging neanderthals slithered to new depths with their efforts to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren, which is another mistake that will come back to haunt them. (Read story here.)

Then, Senate Republicans confirmed Jeff Sessions, a man who was denied a federal judgeship because of past racial concerns, to be our top law enforcement officer with a major responsibility for safe-guarding civil rights. That’s beyond bizarre.

And it wouldn’t be complete without Kellyanne Conway, queen of alternative facts and fake massacres, who violated ethics laws and endorsed  Ivanka Trumps’ clothing line on national television.

I could go on and on, which is the point I want to make … we need to put the
brakes on this runaway tyranny and absurdity before America gets crushed in a massive train wreck. Fortunately, there are ways to start putting a stop to this assault on our rights.

Organize peaceful protests to draw media attention to the issues. Stay in touch by phone and email with your elected representatives at all levels to let them know that you want them to stand up against Trump and the conservatives efforts to eliminate the ACA, ban immigrants/refugees and roll back environmental protections, financial safeguards, civil rights enforcement and LGBTQ gains. Get involved in local Democratic or independent party politics and even run for office yourself. And, just as importantly, use your wallet to hit the other side where it hurts.

There’s an old saying about the Golden Rule: whoever has the gold makes the rules. That’s meant that the big-money Republican donors have been getting their way with Trump and the GOP. However, we can change that by fighting fire with fire. There’s a web site called Adstrike that monitors which companies have ad placements on alt-right hate speech/fake news sites like Breitbart, American Lookout and Drudge Report so you can contact the companies and request they pull their advertising.

We can also choose not to patronize brands / stores that support right-wing politicians and do not reflect our values of tolerance, inclusion and equal rights. I personally refuse to buy Angel Soft, Brawny or Vanity Fair paper products because they’re owned by the Koch Brothers. I also avoid Domino’s Pizza, Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby because of their values and/or their political contributions. You can find more by clicking on the following links.

http://samuel-warde.com/2014/12/10-right-wing-companies-to-boycott/

https://grabyourwallet.org

http://mashable.com/2016/11/15/boycott-donald-trump-business/#kpZ6XMfG1kqg

One additional resource to add to your arsenal is Resistance Manual, a site with
lots of information on issues and policies, plus tools you can use to take action now to bring this runaway train to a halt!

Use every tool to strike back for our freedom before it’s gone!

Let the R.A.I.N. bring a flood of hope!

The Divine Miss Bri

 

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Unholy Crusade: Religious Freedom Laws Seek To Destroy Liberty And Justice For All

Throughout time, one of the most persistent and disturbing trends in the history of our world has been the atrocities committed in the name of religion. So-called Christians, for instance, have a bloody history of violence and torture encompassing the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Salem Witch Trials, just to name of a few of the better known examples. It seems they have a burning passion to do harm to others who do not share their beliefs.

Espousing their deeply held religious beliefs, the conservatives of their time used them as an excuse to deny women’s rights, including the right to vote. And, in the South, Southern Baptists and other denominations justified slavery and racial segregation as sanctioned by God. Even the Ku Klux Klan considers itself to be following a Christian mission in perpetrating heinous acts of violence and discrimination against African-Americans and other minorities.

Fortunately, in America, we have worked to mostly remove discrimination from being encoded in our laws. And, while there is always more work to be done, we are closer to realizing the line from the Pledge of Allegiance that says “with liberty and justice for all.” Please note there is no (*) or exceptions listed after it.

Now, however, the modern day Pharisees of the Religious Right are trying to codify discrimination against women and members of the LGBTQ community under the guise of Religious Freedom laws. While these laws keep popping up in states with Republican controlled legislatures, an even more troubling event looms on the horizon with the release of the draft of an executive order that was proposed by some in the Trump administration — “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom.”

It has been reported that Trump’s daughter and son-in-law persuaded him not to sign it. At the same time, there are many in the administration who are pushing this type of order, including Mike Pence. This executive order and any similar laws or edicts represent a threat to the freedoms of all by unacceptably broadening the scope of legalized discrimination. It would allow virtually anyone  in business, medical practice or government to refuse to serve, treat, employ or in anyway assist a member of the LGBTQ community if it conflicted with their deeply held religious beliefs. It also broadens business exemptions from having to provide women with contraceptives through their insurance plans.

Under the First Amendment to the Constitution, it says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  Supporters of these new Religious Freedom laws are claiming that having to do business with the LGBTQ community or provide contraceptives to women prohibits the free exercise of their religion. Actually, they’ve got it backwards.

These so-called Religious Freedom laws are the ones that violate the First Amendment as well as the principles of a free and just society.

(1) Broadening the scope of application beyond actual religious institutions to businesses and individuals, with only a minimal or even tangential religious purpose, to allow discrimination against any segment of our population based on a religious belief, and especially one that is not universally shared, would in effect be unconstitutionally establishing a particular religion by giving it unique privileges and recognition.

(2) The free exercise of one’s religion is subject to certain limitations as are other rights. For example, while we have a right to free speech, we do not have the right to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater or to commit libel or slander because doing so adversely affects the rights of others. You could imagine what would happen if we allowed human sacrifices or witch burning as a free exercise of one’s religious beliefs. If we allow this discrimination, where does it stop? Will Religious Freedom laws be used against other religions, ethnic groups, racial groups? It’s a dangerous precedent. It should also be noted that there is nothing preventing anyone from believing whatever they choose or associating privately only with those who share their beliefs.

(3) The principles of equality and justice demand that the rights of everyone must be respected in the public marketplace and any limitations must be applied in the narrowest scope possible to prevent irreparable harm from discrimination. These Religious Freedom laws put an undue burden on women and members of the LGBTQ community, while threatening their health and safety with the potential to deny them vital services.

(4) Finally, those who seek to impose their “deeply held” religious beliefs on select groups based on their interpretation of the Bible seem to have missed the scriptures that say, “judge not … render unto Caesar … love thy neighbor … do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It makes you wonder whether their “religious beliefs” are simply an effort to justify their hatred for anyone who is different.

If I sound passionate about this subject, it is because I am a transwoman. Fortunately, my friends accept me and I live in a state where my rights are protected just like everyone else’s. However, in other places, members of the LGBTQ community face severe threats to their freedom and even their survival. We did not ask to be this way. We just are. I believe God made me who I am for a reason. All I want, and all we want, is to have the same rights EVERY citizen of our country should be entitled to enjoy. No more. No less.

Please stand up for us and true freedom by staying vigilant and making it known that you do not support religious tyranny and discrimination masquerading as religious freedom. To see what you can do, contact the A.C.L.U., the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom for All Americans or GLAAD today.

We must fight together, because no one is free until we’re all free to live without fear!

Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the lies and reveal the truth!

The Divine Miss Bri

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Marching Forward After The March

Yes, that’s 1:19 AM! Late night (or early morning depending on how you look at it) and I really should be sleeping, but vigilance is the price of freedom … or the price of keeping the momentum going.  That’s the subject of this post — building on what was started Saturday!

First, however, here’s a link to a response to those who expressed the belief that women already enjoy full rights/equality. It’s currently making the rounds on Facebook, but I thought also worth sharing here.

https://medium.com/@dinachka82/about-your-poem-1f26a7585a6f#.4zasr7x5o

 

Now, back on my original topic. After the excitement surrounding the Women’s Marches, comes the time to roll up our sleeves and follow up with the never-ending and sometimes tedious work of making our views known and fighting for the things we believe. In other words, get more involved and stay involved, because persistence is a key to bringing about change.

It’s obvious that Trump and his team are trying to overwhelm us with misinformation, lies, highly unqualified and / or untrustworthy cabinet nominees and more in hopes that we will burn ourselves out and finally give up in frustration. Don’t let it happen!

Here are some suggestions on how to stay focused and be as effective as possible in pushing  for the things we believe in.

• Stay informed on the issues and on pending legislation. A FB friend recommended an excellent iPad / iPhone app which I downloaded this evening. It’s called Countable. I strongly recommend checking it out!

• Use all means at your disposal to share important factual developments because truth and knowledge are our biggest allies. *Note that I did say “factual”! There is so much false news, satire and propaganda out there that it can literally bury the truth if we are not careful. Verify before you share anything as “facts” and stay away from “alternative facts” aka falsehoods.

• Also, please avoid attacks on non-political family members of the opposition. It’s crass, uncalled for and more like what the far right would do. We’re better than that!

• Stay in contact with your elected leaders and make your positions known. Show them that we are an involved, dedicated and persistent group of voters!

• Set a strong example for your daughters and your sons that they can and should actively stand up for what they believe in.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE EVERY DAY!

As always, please feel free to share this blog post. Also, I would love to hear your comments and suggestions. (Keep them respectful please, because Karma and I are both bitches!)

May the R.A.I.N. wash away lies and let the truth show through!

The Divine Miss Bri

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