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Doris writes a weekly column for LaGaceta, the nation's only trilingual newspaper, which has pages in English, Spanish, and Italian.  Begun in 1922 for Tampa's immigrant community, it continues to thrive more than a century later.  Her column is titled "In Context," as it aims to put contemporary issues in the context of the past.

It's About Time

This is the 20th anniversary of a speech I first delivered in 1999, when an organization asked for thoughts on the new millennium.  I called it "It's About Time," which I intended in several senses.  The main one, though, is that we all have 24 hours in our days and 7 days in our weeks, and electricity has been part of our lives for more than a century – so why don't we use all of the time that is available?  We no longer need to rise with the roosters and go to bed with the rooks, and we would be so much better off if we opted for a genuinely 24/7 world. 


It's true that we slowly are getting there as telecommuting for work becomes more possible, but we still endure morning and evening rush hours when that could be smoothed out with more flexible time at more businesses.  And even schools.  No more sending kids out in morning darkness and then dismissing them hours before parents get home.  Not everyone is a lark, and especially at the higher-education level, accessibility should be increased for the owls.  Not only would traffic and parking shortages be lessened, but the presence of more people for more hours would help prevent crime.


And then there's weekends.  Growing up in a family of farmers, I remember how much my cousins and I hated to stop playing on the Saturdays and Sundays when we were free from school – but farm families never were free from "the chores."  Cows and pigs and other livestock expected to be fed and watered at the same time morning and evening, and they didn't know from weekends.  This was especially true in the case of dairy cattle that had to be milked every twelve hours.  No one in my family does dairy anymore; beef cattle are less demanding.


But instead of daily rigidity, we have adopted weekend rigidity, when almost everyone takes two days off.  I notice this especially at hospitals, as Hubby continues to be in ICU at the VA.  I've said this before, but I'll say it again:  Food service there ends at 2:00 on Saturday afternoon and does not resume until Monday morning.  The weekend, apparently, is more sacred than the welfare of hundreds of people who staff and visit the huge hospital.




I've avoided writing about the political scene during the holidays, but by the time you read this, they will be over.  My personal life remains unchanged with daily trips to the hospital, but it's back to business for most people and therefore time for at least a bit of political thought.


To me, this is the most telling -- yet unnoted -- aspect of the impeachment process:  Trump sought dirt on the Bidens because he assumed that Joe would be his opponent.   He looked in the mirror and decided that another grumpy, pugnacious man like himself would be the Democratic nominee.  No way, I think.  Today's young, feminist, progressive Democrats are not going to cheer on a guy who looks and sometimes talks like Trump.  I liked Joe when I first met him back in the 1970s, but that was then and this is now. 


That Trump decided Democrats would choose someone who is close to a mirror image of himself shows how narrow is the world of these 70-something men.  I'm in that age bracket myself -- and Nancy Pelosi is the oldest of us all -- so this isn't ageism.  Instead it is sexism, and especially the inability of some old men to understand that the world no longer is axiomatically theirs.  Times have changed, and Trump's assumption aside, there is no more reserved privilege for the white, the male, and the powerful -- at least not in the Democratic Party. 




Let's talk about the fact that the Current Occupant not only pleaded guilty to using his "charitable" foundation as a personal slush fund, but even quietly paid a $2 million fine to make the matter go away.  Given his admission of guilt, I want to know why this fraud isn't considered a constitutionally impeachable crime -- or at least a misdemeanor, which the Constitution also allows.  House Speaker Pelosi is right to hold on to the articles of impeachment because this and more should added to the list of offences. 


I'm sure she knew there was much more for which Trump should be held accountable when she held the floor vote on just two issues.  She had good reasons for the limited vote:  she had to do it before the holiday break so that members could go home and see that their constituents are not objecting to impeachment, as Republicans incorrectly warned.  At least as important, she had to convince the DC establishment that she knows her House majority and can count votes. 


Congressional committees, however, should keep digging.  The tax records that he has kept hidden should be the next item on the agenda, along with the Constitution's emoluments clause about presidents not profiting from the office.  People in the CIA and the State Department doubtless have much more to say about his undermining of foreign policy, especially by playing footsie with North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and other dictatorships.  And then there's Rudy.  And John Bolton and others who should take an oath to tell us the truth.


Here's another factoid that hasn't made the mainstream news:  According to the longtime political journal, "The Nation," counties that hosted a rally for Trump in 2016 have a rate of hate crimes 226% greater than those that did not.  He targets places where bullies thrive, which is a natural for a fascist.  Fomenting blind rage is how dictators build their machines.  Ask the victims of Nazi Germany:  it starts with rallies that promote prejudice and turn the egomaniacal preacher thereof into the master of mankind.


Finally, and also somewhat of an aside, I made a surprising discovery recently:  To my mild astonishment, it's easier to unsubscribe from Republican e-mail lists than from Democratic ones.  At least, that was the case with Devin Nunes and Kevin McCarthy.  I've no idea why they thought it would be a good idea to send me messages, but their unsubscribe function was right up at the top of the page.  For those too-numerous ones from Democrats, it's usually far down and in small print.




I see that Florida Education Secretary Richard Corcoran is back in the news arguing for the right of Christian schools to broadcast prayer at athletic events.  I was sort of inclined to agree with him, in the interest of free speech, until I realized that he was taking on the Florida High School Athletic Association, whose policy is that the equipment used for the broadcasting is owned by a public entity. US District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell – whose career I've followed since she was a young lawyer – agreed with the Athletic Association's argument that using public equipment to impose prayer on an audience would constitute "government speech."


But to me, the point is much larger and even Bible-based.  I was a school kid in Minnesota in the early 1950s, when Wisconsin Republican Joe McCarthy, a Catholic, used his position in the US Senate to force his religious and political views on everyone.  Lives were ruined, as he accused dozens of creative people of being communists because they refused toe the line of his dogma.  He succeeded in intimidating many Hollywood executives, and especially novelists and playwrights were blacklisted to the extent that they never again saw their work produced.


McCarthy also led the effort to insert "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, which until then had no reference to religion.  That was added on June 14, 1954, which also became Flag Day.  He and other right-wingers insisted on a flag in every classroom, and until the Supreme Court ruled against it in 1963, they did their best to mandate Christian prayer in schools and other public events.


Uneducated though they were, my parents did not join in McCarthy's pro-prayer hysteria – nor did many others in our town, which was almost evenly divided between Catholics and Lutherans.  Many had ethnic roots in Germany or Eastern Europe, and they could see what happened there as a result of Hitler's policy of tying the flag to the cross.  It is dangerous to both peace and freedom to make church and state the same, but these extreme conservatives wanted to basically create a theocracy.  


To some extent, our Lutheran pastor went along with this.  He was had strong German roots, and McCarthy's anti-communist message also was very much anti-Russia, Germany's longtime enemy.  We sang hymns in church that incorporated militarism, but as I recall, neither he nor the Norwegian Lutheran minister nor the Catholic priest of our town echoed McCarthy's public-prayer message.  To be sure, the priest must have advocated censorship because my Catholic friends were not allowed to see some movies that I could see.


But back to prayer.  My parents told us that communication with God was far too important to be memorized and mumbled by rote, and it certainly was too sacred to be blared by loudspeaker.  Even in that conservative era, I never recall prayer at any school event, especially not an athletic event.  What are you going to say?  Something along the lines of "please help me stomp your children from the neighboring town?"  Even after we moved to Arkansas, where almost everyone was a fundamentalist Protestant, there was no prayer at our hotly contested basketball games.  True, the cheerleader that I was did some praying, and I once was embarrassed to hear myself say out loud, "Come on, Heavenly Father, let's go!"


Most of the time, though, I remembered what my parents told me about prayer being private.  They truly believed what Jesus said in Matthew 6:5-7:  "When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are:  for they love to pray…in the streets, that they might be seen…  But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.  But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do; for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking." 


Much speaking.  That would be former Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who now is Education Commissioner because we stupidly gave up our right to elect that official.  Mr. Corcoran of Land o'Lakes, please do what Jesus advises and go into a closet.



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