Naughtiness at the House of Lords

When in London after a long work day, tradition dictates that you go to the nearest pub and have a pint or two.  But I never take the traditional route and I don’t drink beer so after MY work day was over, I headed on over to the House of Lords to hear the Earl of Sandwich argue over the merits of an amendment to the Criminal Finances Bill.  Yep, I’m a political geek.

After not being able to just “drop in” last night as we walked by on the way home (due to the presence of a knife of the Swiss Army variety in Thom’s pocket), we left the weapons at the hotel and off we went.  The House Of Lords works late into the evening so by the time we cleared security after being searched, me so thoroughly that Thom asked if the security guard had asked for my #, up we climbed to the Stranger’s Gallery where visitors can sit quietly and observe.  To enforce that rule, you have to check in all your bags and cell phones with a guard before entering.

With gold-plated pretty much everything and knight statues glaring down from their lofty perches above the floor, the Earls, Ladies, Lords and such sit (and sleep) during the proceedings on red leather banquettes.  If they aren’t sleeping, they are looking at their iPads or speaking on the topic at hand.  All very formal, we snickered (quietly) when one Lord spoke of the “naughtiness” of the vigilante posse hiding wealth by buying up London real estate through LLC’s (owners anonymous) registered in British territories and driving up prices so that buying a home now costs 39x the median income of the average Londoner.  Citing one example in nearby Cambridge, a new development of 292 homes were snatched up by foreigners, primarily Chinese and Russians, with only 2 homes purchased by UK residents.  Shocking-sounds like Seattle.

I did feel quite young sitting there watching these old guys bicker and debate whether there should be stricter government control in this area of finance.  With the average age of about 70 years old and probably only 10% women, there was definitely a strict dress code with the men in suits and the ladies in skirts.  I was disappointed that the only person wearing a white ringlet wig was the youngest person in the room running the technology.  The clerks who run the notes to the Lords were very formally attired in tails and large metal medallions hanging from their bodies.  Posh.

Leaving as the debate was still raging at 7:30 p.m., Thom and I couldn’t wait to discuss the experience.  Yes, for political geeks, this was the highlight of our London trip.  Cheers!

 

Happy EU Anniversary!

Of course, wherever Thom goes, he finds a protest or a rally.  He is a magnet for all things political.  So it came as no surprise when we stumbled upon a guy wearing a EU flag setting up for a rally while we were on our walking tour of Munich on Sunday.  After our tour ended, we circled back to the square, which by this time was packed with pro-EU flag-waving supporters.

While the speeches were in German, I wasn’t surprised to hear them call out “Trump” and then “women’s march” no doubt alluding to our idiot POTUS and the successful protests in the US against him and his pro-Russian regime.  Thom was wearing his “sorry about our President” t-shirt in 13 languages.  As we walked around the crowd, many were amused as they read the sentiments, some even asking for photos with Thom.  That’s my guy-always making a political statement!

Amidst the chants, cheers, marching and flag-waving, it was obvious that Germany embraces the EU.  We found the merch table and loaded up on EU stickers, pins and bags for souvenirs and to support the cause.  When in Rome and all.  I can only hope that the US steps up their political activism and pours on the protests to make a difference.  We won’t give up and neither will the Germans apparently in their support of the EU.  Go forth and rally people!

Late Onset Activist

I woke up at 5 a.m. wondering what bat shit crazy tweets had happened overnight from our POTUS. Had he started WWIII while I tried to sleep?  Thom is hoping for a Dr. Who moment where we wake up in a parallel universe and the biggest news story is a fashion feature on what color pantsuit our first woman President is wearing that day.  It’s nice sometimes to dream this isn’t happening to our great nation.  Retreat to a happy place.  But the reality of daily lies, law breaking, unlawful bans and more from our leader is our new reality.  Holy.  Hell.

Seriously, I have never in all my many years (the exact number cannot be shared) been frightened like this.  Should we have cash on hand to flee the country kind of scared.  Getting all my kids passports just in case scared.  But why should WE have to run away because less than the majority of voters thought it a good idea to place a pathologically lying, self-serving, racist, not-really-smart, dictator wannabe in charge of all our fates?

Unfortunately for me, I AM an informed voter who gets news from many different outlets not just the left or right.  That’s why I can’t sleep because I CAN see what’s going on and it’s a nightmare.  I can understand what is and isn’t fake news because I get the facts.  How do we reach the general population of America and educate them that “alternative facts” are just lies that leaders are using to scare the public to grant them more power?  That’s the question I keep pondering.  Is it too much to ask for our politicians to actually do good work that helps ALL people and not just worry about getting themselves re-elected to keep on doing nothing?

So, what’s a citizen to do besides running to our peaceful northern neighbor for a safe haven?  Get.  Active.  For the first time I marched and protested.  Thom and I took the time to make our voices heard in the Women’s March along with 150,000+ other peaceful Seattle citizens to demonstrate that we care about the rights of others.  I call our elected officials daily and encourage them to stand firm against tyranny.  I will send a post card on 3/15 to POTUS at the White House telling him that he works for me and I think he should be fired for his atrocious behavior while in office all of a month. We will give money to causes that are helping people like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.  I will back candidates for the DNC Chair like Mayor Pete Buttigieg that I feel will give us fresh leadership and organize the party to gain back the House and Senate in 2018 midterm elections so we can at least balance the power in DC.

I actually have official protest clothing now.  No joke.  I just ordered a “Nasty Woman” t-shirt from the Samantha Bee site that benefits Planned Parenthood.  I reached out to a fellow marcher and got a pink pussy hat for the Women’s March.  Thom’s “icky Trump” t-shirt drew lots of comments and he plans to wear it to the Bruce Springsteen concert in Auckland next week.  If you’re going to make a statement, might as well look good doing it and be a walking billboard for your beliefs.

I will persist.  I will resist.  I will pray.  I will never give up.  What will you do?

Trevor Noah Rocks The House

Few celebrities would draw a crowd as large as Trevor Noah during a busy Friday lunch hour in the workplace.  However, thousands of folks jammed the room for a chance to hear Trevor passionately speak about his atypical childhood living in South Africa, a time filled with challenges that few of us have experienced.  Born to a black mother and a white father, who left the family quickly, his tough upbringing in a society where he didn’t quite fit anywhere shaped who he is and how he views the world.  He was a fascinating and animated storyteller describing scenes from his new book, “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood”, a memoir of the observations of his childhood in a country when apartheid was unraveling.

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Drafting off the “celebrity” status of a friend of mine who scored us front row seats, I got to view the talk up close and personal with no obstructions.  Thank you my friend!  Being that close allowed me to really observe the facial expressions and hand gestures of a wildly entertaining comedian who not only elaborated on his book but also shared his views on the craziest election any of us have ever seen but one that he predicted.  How might you ask could anyone foretell the “Coming of Trump”?  Growing up in a third world country, Trevor saw first hand how leaders would prey on people’s fears and anger, championing their darkest prejudices out loud in simple-to-understand sound bites.  Trevor told colleagues early on that Trump would go far in the election process given that he was a reality TV star of questionable morals who knew how to speak and connect to these uninformed voters, lying and promising them whatever they wanted, playing the “outsider” vs. the government who has forgotten about them and their economic struggles.

Similar to what Gloria Steinem told the audience when I saw her recently in Boise, Trevor also was emphatic that this segment of society that is following Trump won’t go away after the election no matter who wins and will need to be heard and their issues addressed for the country to heal and move forward.  He also suggested that what the U.S. needs is more than 2 parties to allow for more choices.  Should Bernie run as a Democrat?  No-he’s a socialist.  Should Trump run as a Republican?  No-he’s a nut but also probably a nationalist or alt-right candidate.  I get it but not sure this change will happen anytime soon.

Trevor elaborated on his other observations from this election cycle:  watching Trump move forward in the primaries was like having a front seat row to a “charismatic car crash” and that if he were elected, it would “press pause on all progress” that Obama has made the last eight years.   That people like Trump can “create” facts on the internet that people believe as gospel is flat out scary to Trevor.  The public is “engaged in a bubble of misinformation” the likes of which we have never seen before in the U.S.  Trevor takes his job seriously on The Daily Show because, as one attendee related during the Q & A, most millennials get ALL their news from The Daily Show.  To that comment, Trevor said,  “Comedy is the spoonful of sugar to make the news go down.” and “Laughter is the medication to get through it.”

While I enjoy comedy and, God knows we all need to laugh more, the stress of this election has been hard to take even when delivered by a comedian as smart and funny as Trevor.  Tuesday it will all be over.  Vote.

The Seattle Times review today of Trevor’s book was very flattering-read here:  Book Review

Pride and Politics

There was a sharp contrast between the joy of the Seattle Police Department officer kissing her girlfriend with the crowd cheering them on to the families holding hands as they waved rainbow  flags and the smiling faces of every group marching vs. the hateful signs of the anti-gay protestors.  As Lin-Manuel Miranda evangelized at the Tony Awards, love is love is love is love…and why people can’t embrace that love is beyond me.  Love trumps hate and today that showed as the participants kept on smiling despite the horrible messages being displayed along the Seattle Pride Parade route.  Love wins!WP_20160626_12_32_51_Pro

Last year we marched in the Pride Parade with the Seattle Storm contingent and had a great time handing out bam-bams.  This year, after serving 352 people in need a hot meal at the Shared Breakfast at First United Methodist for three hours, we decided to skip walking and instead cheer on the Pride along the route.  First, we hit the Seattle Center and I was glad to see that many major companies have woken up and were supporting the LGBT community with their presence, giving away a huge array of rainbow beads, wristbands, mints, pinwheels, etc.  We signed petitions for gun control and against the I-1515 Washington anti-transgender bathroom initiative.  Thom was wearing his “I’m a gun sense voter” so the anti-gun ladies had him pose for a publicity photo.  Always the model he is!   Hopefully taking advantage of the huge crowds will further these issues that are so vital to protect all people.

There was huge support at Pride by Seattle government agencies and officials from the Seattle Supreme Court to Seattle Metro Transit.  Politicians had booths as well as many religious affiliations but the odd man out (literally) was the Trump booth.  Unable to stop himself, Thom went off on the staffers because they had the gall to show up and represent their candidate who has vowed to stack the Supreme Court with justices who will repeal gay marriage rights.  “How could you sell your souls just because this is the party nominee…that’s DISGUSTING!”  I pulled him away to get a cookie from the church ladies and move on to other less stress-inducing booths.  I did have to love the “Bill for First Lady” t-shirts and just had to pose with “Bill” after trying out sticking pins into the Trump voodoo doll.  Very satisfying indeed.

At the end of the day, Pride 2016 celebrated people.  People who have the right to love who they want and be who they are in peace and without violence and hate.  Simple.  Be kind.  To all.  Oh, and dance like there is no tomorrow.