Sunday, July 15, 2018

LOCAL WRITERS @ THE LIBRARY



THE MARK & EMILY TURNER MEMORIAL LIBRARY
invites you to
Local Writers @ the Library

THEME: FOOD / GARDENING

FEATURING 
  • Marie Sims reads a selection from her true-crime book I Did Something Very Bad
  • Martie Pritchard reads a selection from her book From Bombs to Babies dealing with the desperate food shortages after the war. 
  • Rosalie DelSignore reads poetry. 
  • Alice Bolstridge reads selections from the novel Hunger by Elise Blackwell about protecting a seed bank during the siege of Leningrad.


Wednesday, July 25
39 2nd Street
Presque Isle, Maine
6:00 to 8:00 PM.

Free and open to the public


SCHEDULE OF FUTURE EVENTS, Date & Theme
 August 22                        Fiction
September 26                  Family
October 24     Politics/Election
November 28               Holidays
January 23                 NonFiction
February 27                         Love
March 27        Favorite Authors
April 24                             Poetry
May 22                                Place

Contact Alice 768-5827, bolstridgea38@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Rescue the Children



HURRAH! A cooperative worldwide effort to rescue Thailand children trapped in a flooded cave has rescued them all in less than 3 weeks from the time they entered the cave to the time of their rescue. 


It should be much easier, shouldn't even take a heroic effort, to rescue children trapped in separation from their families at the Mexican border. These things are possible, but this week this administration did not even meet the first deadline to get all the children below 5 years old reunited with their families.  

It should even be logistically possible with a cooperative world wide effort to develop economic systems that could rescue all the hungry children everywhere living in poverty,  1 in 5 in the US. According to a recently released United Nations report, “The United States has the highest rate of income inequality among Western countries [. . . .] The $1.5 trillion in tax cuts in December 2017 overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality.” 

In Maine the situation is worse according to Maine Equal Justice Partners. Since the election of Governor LePage in 2010, childood poverty has risen: "One in every six children in Maine lives in poverty.  But more troubling still, the depth of poverty is getting worse for Maine children.  One out of every 13 children is living in extreme or “deep poverty” here in Maine.  That means that their family’s income is less than half of the poverty level—less than $840 a month for a family of three.  For many, it’s much less." 

Such inequality and poverty is a direct result of economic policies that are chosen by elected leaders. The solution is to elect different leaders than the ones in power now, leaders who will fulfill the constitutional promises of promoting the general welfare, the common good, and equality for all. Please consider carefully when you vote this November.

Published, The Star Herald, July 18, 2018

Sunday, July 8, 2018

"Love your neighbor"

More on Civility: I like Stephen King's July 4th post on Twitter:  "@StephenKing · 4 Jul. Progressives, go find a Trump supporting friend--the one you haven't spoken to since November of 2016--and give him or her a hug. Trumpies, find a 'liberal snowflake' friend and do the same. Just for today, let's all be Americans."

He got a lot of flack from liberals about it, but I really love the simplicity of it. You don't have to agree, approve, or forgive. It's only one friend, only one hug, and only for one day. Reminds me of the story of St. Francis embracing the leper considered a very dangerous thing to do in his day. In its simple way, such an action can change your world. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Closing Facebook

With some relief, regret, and sadness, I deactivated my Facebook account yesterday morning. The decision to do this had been coming on for months with growing frustration over my inability to keep up in spite of the amount of time I spent there and with increasing partisan negativity and hate coming from both major parties. This FB page has been a valued part of my life for nearly 10 years as an important tool in my efforts to help the cause of peace and justice. I appreciate more than I can say the many FB friends who have supported my efforts and contributed their own: all those I have never met in person as well as those I know and will continue to be in touch with. Thanks and love to you all.  

The final trigger that propelled me to actually close it down was an argument with a FB friend about civility which failed to come to a satisfying conclusion. Although I had never met this person we had been having friendly, respectful, and supportive conversations for many months. But in this conversation I was feeling increasingly attacked about my views on the values of civility and then on my use of the term verbal violence to describe Trump's attacks on Mexicans, Muslims, media, handicapped, women and more. I wanted my use of the term to show how his kind of incivility encourages and enables the level of violence in the whole culture, and how returning it in kind escalates  conflicts as we get caught up in  vicious cycles. She claimed my use of the term was dangerous because it demeans victims of actual  physical violence to be told that Trump stating anything is actual violence. 

At this point, over 700 words into the conversation, I thought attempts to explain and defend myself against feelings of being attacked were not promoting understanding between us but were instead escalating conflict, and I bowed out of the conversation. 

This trigger is superficially trivial. By itself, it would not prompt me to give up the substantial benefits I knew from FB involvement. But it came at the end of months of self evaluation leading up to my 80th birthday about the best use of my fleeting time and energy. Today it feels like this action has opened up and expanded time. And at this time in my life my daily feelings, like never before, are reality.



Wednesday, June 13, 2018

LOCAL WRITERS @ THE LIBRARY


THE MARK & EMILY TURNER 
MEMORIAL LIBRARY

invites you to 
Local Writers @ the Library 

OPEN PODIUM

Featuring local writers 
who show up to sign up by 6:00 PM

Wednesday, June 27
39 2nd Street, Presque Isle, Maine
6:00 to 8:00 PM.

Free and open to the public


Contact 768-5827, bolstridgea38@gmail.com

SCHEDULE OF FUTURE EVENTS, 4th Wednesday of each month. 


DATE

JULY 25
THEME

Food and/or Gardening

AUGUST 22
Fiction

SEPTEMBER 26
Family

OCTOBER 24
Politics & the Election.

NOVEMBER 28
Holidays

JANUARY 23 ‘19
Non-fiction

FEBRUARY 27
Love

MARCH 27
Favorite Authors

APRIL 24
Poetry

MAY 22

Place








Sunday, May 6, 2018

THE INFLUENCE OF BIG DARK MONEY IN POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS

Removing the influence of big dark money from politics is my # 1 priority in deciding how to vote because that problem affects so deeply all my other priorities: environment, health care, the quality and survival of public education . . . . If, as it seems, the best we can hope for at the moment toward that goal is transparency about where money comes from, I urge every candidate to find out and fully disclose the sources of their funding. If they can't find out, I urge them to condemn and refuse it. And I urge every candidate to respond publicly about what they will do, if elected, to remove the influence of big money from politics.

Monday, April 16, 2018

MORE OBSERVATIONS FROM AUGUSTA


Legislative Blog # 14


Look at the means which a man employs, 
consider his motives, 
observe his pleasures. 
A man simply cannot conceal himself! 
~Confucius

Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing,
it is always from the noblest of motives. 
~Oscar Wilde

RULES OF DECORUM IN LEGISLATIVE DEBATE 
I first heard about the prohibition against questioning motives and wrote about it last week in connection with the Ranked Choice Voting Bill. It has come up in 2 other bills that I was observing this week, and I don't know how many others I didn't observe. These rules date back to Jefferson's Manual of Parliamentary Practice:
"Remarks in debate may not address personal motivations for legislative positions, but may focus on a Member's political motivations. For example, the chair has stated 'there is nothing per se a violation by using another Member;s name in describing a political action or motive'. . . . It is not a breach of decorum to discuss a Member's policy position, provided that 'personally offensive' words are not used. Critical references to a 'collective political motivation,' such as the motives of the Democratic or Republican party, are permitted. . ..there is nothing wrong with using the word 'deceptive' or the word, 'hypocritical' in characterizing an amendment's effect but when a Member so characterizes the motivation of a Member in offering an amendment, that is not in order."  ~"Decorum in House Debate"

LD 912 An Act To Clarify the Scope of Practice 
of Certain Licensed Professionals Regarding Conversion Therapy
 SUMMARY: "This bill proposes to amend the current law to establish that practices or treatments that seek to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity are prohibited for certain professionals licensed under the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 32 and to establish penalties for that conduct."

Way back in February, I reported on the Public Hearing for this bill in Legislative Blog # 7. The Public Hearing was contentious then with speakers on both sides passionate about their support or opposition. Thursday April 12, the full House of Representatives debated the bill, and this debate was even more contentious. You can watch it at 12:09 here.

House Speaker Gideon interrupted speakers several times to remind Representatives that House rules of decorum . . . forbid questioning or impugning other legislators' motives. She reminded Representative Lockman twice. Several members interrupted Representative Reed who was arguing the bill "drives a wedge between the traditional family and the church," that it was the "most dangerous bill ever proposed by this legislature," and that it was an "attempt to legitimize the unnatural inclinations of the society over natural inclinations." Speaker Gideon reprimanded both Reed and his vocal critics  and declared the House "at ease while members take a deep breath."

Opponents of the bill included people of faith and proponents of family values They declared that the bill was a violation of First Amendment guarantees of free speech and freedom of religious expression.

Supporters of the bill included members of the LGBTQ community, people of faith, therapists, and a neurologist. They argued that attempts like conversion therapy to convert, repair, fix, or cure them causes harm to their emotional and mental well being. It can and often does lead to depression or suicide.

Homosexuality was once listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses (DSM) as a disease.  All supporters of the bill repeated that LGBTQ people are not suffering from a disease or disorder to be fixed or treated, though the person may need counseling for the traumatic effects of stigma and discrimination.  Differences in gender identity and sexual orientation are no longer listed in the DSM as mental disorders. LGBTQ people adjust to their lives better when they accept themselves and when we accept them for who they are and how they identify themselves. 

This standard can be applied to other diagnoses of mental illness still listed in the DSM as diseases or disorders in need curative or "recovery" treatment. My son Alan spent his whole adult life in treatment for a diagnosis of serious and chronic mental illness. Except for some forms of talk therapy from therapists who could accept him for who he was and could focus on effects of life trauma (PTSD), on life-skills management, and on his strengths, his treatment mostly caused more harm than good, and in the case of prolonged drug therapy, it caused irremediable physical harm and brain damage.   "While prescribing drugs for mental health problems may have a short-term palliative effect, drugs don’t obviously help people to change the way they think or change the socioeconomic environments that might be a root cause of their psychological problems." 

All people, especially those who are diagnosed as mentally ill or disordered or who are otherwise stigmatized by society, adjust to their lives better when they accept themselves and when we accept them for who they are and for how they identify themselves.

The bill forbidding conversion therapy to be practiced by licensed therapists narrowly passed the House 76-68. Violating rules of decorum I question and impugn motives of those 68 legislators. I am dismayed at hearing the prejudice against LGBTQ people expressed explicitly in such phrases as "unnatural inclinations" and expressed implicitly in all the speakers opposing the bill.  In observing such prejudice, I find it impossible to distinguish between personal and political motivations. 


LD 1864 An Act To Establish Universal Home Care 
for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities.
SUMMARYThis initiated bill establishes the Universal Home Care Program to provide in-home and community support services for all people with disabilities living in Maine who require assistance with an activity of daily living and people 65 years of age or older who are living in Maine and who require assistance with an activity of daily living, without regard to income, to be funded by a new tax of 3.8% on income and wages that exceed the maximum wages subject to social security employment taxes.

This is another Referendum bill scheduled to be on the June ballot, and this bill also prompted reprimands for violations of the Rules of Decorum regarding questioning or impugning motives. You can watch the debate at 10:58 here.

Opponents of the bill moved to insist the bill, before the June election, go through Public Hearing and Work Sessions in Committee as any other bill does. The debate focused on this motion, not on the merits or demerits of the bill. 

Supporters of the motion argued that the Committee process would educate the public and legislators about all intended and unintended consequences: Senator Diamond, argued that all Referendum questions should go through committee hearings, work sessions, and reports as they did routinely before 2012 but have not since. He argued that this process, which includes findings of nonpartisan professional staff who study the issue, brings transparency to the public's right to know. Senator Carpenter echoed Diamond's concerns and said if he returns to the Senate, he will propose that 2 public hearings be held in each Senate District. Senator Katz listed questions that need to be answered about the bill's complications in creating a "brand new State Board to run a brand new State Program funded by a brand new State Tax." He said advertising cannot be trusted to educate the public: "Hearings uncover facts. TV ads distort facts." Senator Brakey offered his Committee on Health and Human Services as the proper committee to hold hearings on the bill.   

Opponents of the motion argued that the insistence was not necessary and that Referendum questions are given adequate public hearings in news coverage and in local house parties and town halls. Senator Miramant listed problems he heard from constituents about Committee Hearings: hearings are not always as open as they seem; notices are not always adequate nor accurate about time; there can be too much partisanship and sometimes lies that go unchecked in public hearings; lobbyists and special interests have more access to legislators than voters do; 3-minute time limits are often not adequate to develop an opinion or explain pertinent facts. Senator Chenette argued that a Public Hearing this late in the session is a media spectacle of lobbyists and special interests arguing with each other in front of legislators. He encouraged members to hold town hall meetings with their constituents like he does. He said the motion was not about transparency, it was about "our power to silence voters, and I will not stand for it!" 

Senator Katz rose immediately to remind Senators about "the rule against impugning motives of anybody who speaks on emotion." I do not clearly understand his point in that last phrase "on emotion." Chenette's tone was certainly firey. Was he talking about Chenette's emotion? The phrase appears to be a misplaced or dangling modifier, a confusing error I make regularly when speaking spontaneously and emotionally. I misheard Katz. He must have said "on a motion." That makes more sense. 

Senator Chipman responded to Senator Cyrway's complaint that voters do not understand the cost of this bill by reminding the Senators that the cost was printed at the top of the petition voters signed. 

The Senate's motion to insist LD 1864 go to Public Hearing passed with bipartisan support, 28-4, in non non-concurrence (disagreement) with the House vote to insist that the Bill and accompanying papers be indefinitely postponed. Since it is in non-concurrence with the House, I assume the motion will have to be approved by the House before going to Public Hearing in the last few days of the session. 

I support LD 1864 and any bill that gets us closer to universal-single payer  health care insurance such as Expanded and Improved Medicare for All. I also support public hearings on Citizens' Initiatives when they are deemed necessary, not only to educate the voters, but for voters to educate legislators. I especially like Carpenter's suggestion of Public Hearings in the Districts which would surely reach many more voters. And I like Chenette's suggestion that all legislators should hold public meetings with their constituents as he does. 

I agree with Miramant that committee hearings and work sessions in Augusta are not always as open and transparent as they seem. Work Sessions are frequently recessed before a vote for party members to caucus which gives the impression that decisions are made behind closed doors, result in party-line votes, and are not transparent to the public about motives. I agree there should be rules of decorum that encourages respect for other members in legislative proceedings, but transparency about political motives, being goal directed, are important to voters' evaluation of political candidates and issues, and it is right to question them because they are too frequently not transparent: unstated, lied about, or otherwise inaccessible.

In the waning days of this legislative session, emotions are heating up about some issues, and I  watch myself getting caught up in the frenzy. I'm still trying to figure out what point legislators are making about the expression of emotion in deliberation, but they appear to be very uncomfortable with it. Is that because it is so frequently involved in the rule about impugning members' motives? Though the rule, as indicated above "may focus on a Member’s political motivations." I suspect that trying to inhibit emotion is likely a lost cause and quite possibly harmful to one's mental health. 

In political debate, I'm reminded here about Aristotle's rhetorical triangle of  logic, emotion and ethics being necessary and appropriately balanced in good argument. To me this means legislators should make policy and law by reason and logic emboldened and energized by passion, and political passions should be informed and tempered by reason and logic.