Friday, January 19, 2018

Another March

My my, I do get my exercise! Another year, another march.

The good thing about being appointed president (rather than elected) is that no one knows what I look like. I'm therefore free to mingle with the citizenry. I will do so in Philadelphia at this year's Women's March.

Last year my daughter Gumby and I went to Washington, DC for the Women's March on Washington. Gumby put me through it, I tell you. She wasn't satisfied until we got all the way to the White House ... from RFK Stadium, a round trip of 8 or more miles.

EXHIBIT A: GUMBY AT THE WOMEN'S MARCH ON WASHINGTON, WHITE HOUSE


Learned my lesson, for sure! Can't keep up with Gumby! As I understand it, both of my daughters will be attending the march in Philly, but I'm not going with either one of them.

Instead, I will be joining a troupe called Drum Like a Lady . I am totally stoked. I can't decide whether or not to take my doumbek, but the tambourine is portable and can keep a heartbeat. Being part of the drum corps means I'll get a front seat at the speakers' podium.

I don't care about front seats, but drumming up some energy ... well, that's the ticket.

Judging by how many of my friends and acquaintances are attending this march (12 in rough count), it is going to be a vast throng of humanity.

And what is the purpose of large political rallies? Solidarity and sisterhood. Sending a message. Considering how thin-skinned some elected presidents are, it's got to be a thorn in the side.

I hope, wherever you are, you'll set aside a few minutes on Saturday to petition the Goddess Columbia for a safe end to the madness. Take a minute and bang a pot in front of your house. Or put up a sign.

EXHIBIT B: THE PRAYER WARRIORS HATE THIS GODDESS


EXHIBIT C: ANNE'S TO-DO LIST

1. Make a sign or bring a drum.
2. March
3. Campaign
4. Vote

We resist. We persist. We rise.

Monday, January 15, 2018

President Anne's Address on the Occasion of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

My fellow Americans,

Nine years ago, when Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, many folks (myself included) believed that we had moved beyond the corrosive racism and prejudice that marked much of our nation's history. But most of the people who thought Obama's inauguration signaled an end to prejudice were, themselves, white.

Black people knew differently. They knew that the pulse of racism still beat strongly in America. They weren't optimistic about change. They saw the blow-back coming. It's no coincidence that Black Lives Matter was formed during the Obama administration. Even as President Obama sought to widen the safety net with affordable health care and protections for the poor, ordinary Black Americans faced an America that was "business as usual" -- police brutality, wage inequality, and fewer opportunities than white Americans enjoyed. Indeed, I have had Black friends tell me they weren't one bit surprised by the election of Donald Trump, they fully expected a racist to follow Obama into office.

Sure enough, that's what we got. A racist chief executive, with racist advisers, encouraging the most virulent racist behavior and indulging in it themselves. Now that we have seen this behavior elevated to the national stage in an unprecedented way, it is time for me to ask you: What can you do about this?

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. didn't waste his wrath on the loudest racists. He reserved his scorn instead for the good people who did nothing. In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, Dr. King wrote: "Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will." How many of us blush a bit as we realize we are the "shallow people of good will?" I know I do.

And so, my fellow Americans, I would ask you: What can we "people of good will" do to deepen our commitment to absolute racial justice in our nation? We need to start in our own homes and communities, forging ties with minority citizens so that we can better understand their plight. We need to find government leaders who will actively seek to end racist practices in America, and vote for those leaders. We need to look our brothers and sisters of other races in the eye and witness their experience as citizens from their point of view.

We need to pay more than just lip service to the quest for racial equality in America. Because if we don't do anything, and the racists do something, then Black lives won't appear to matter at all.

Let us re-dedicate ourselves to the kind of America that would vote -- twice -- for an African American president. Let us be mindful of the needs of our fellow citizens and willing to assist them in their quest for equality and justice. And let us denounce, in no uncertain terms, any actions, any gatherings, any speakers, who advocate for a racist agenda. This hate is off the plate. Now and forevermore.

On this important day, I commend all Americans who took part in community service in their neighborhoods, in their cities, and in their school. Bright blessings upon you. You are the change that we need in this great nation. Keep up the good work! 

Finally, I wish to use this occasion to re-instate, immediately, all protections and benefits afforded to those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Dreamers, your months of fear and anxiety are over. Your path to full citizenship is clear. We embrace you with open arms and encourage your wildest dreams -- because it was the dreams and plans of all the immigrants before you to become successful in America, and look at all they have done!

I make this announcement today in the spirit of justice, which was what Dr. King dedicated his life to pursuing. We will have justice for all in America. We will again be the land of opportunity. We will be a force for good in the world, and at home.

Thank you, and Gods bless America.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

In Which I Find a Job for Steve Bannon

It's been a few weeks now since I, Anne Johnson, was asked to take over the presidency of the United States of America. Wow, what a job! It's nonstop. I've been pretty much overwhelmed trying to track down trusted advisers from previous administrations in order to fill all the posts that have either been open, or worse, filled with evil warlords from the pit of Hell.

The warlords are gone. The lot of them, with Bet$y DeVo$ leading the way! So long, chumps! Go back to your billions and leave us alone!

You know what, though? I'm a soft touch.

Poor Steve Bannon. Up on top in April, shot down in May. One's heart bleeds.

EXHIBIT A: NEWLY UNEMPLOYED


I don't know about you, but I've been unemployed a few times in my life. It's so tough. A real sock to the self-esteem and the wallet ... even if it's a layoff due to revised head count. But this is no layoff. This is a straight-out "go the hell away." Steve already looked like he'd seen the bottom of too many bottles of Fireball. What's he to do now, as a middle-aged journalist? Heck, even young journalists can't find a job.

But it's Steve's lucky day! Because I, Anne Johnson, had a good, steady job that I don't need anymore. As president, I will call my former employer and highly recommend Mr. Bannon as a public school teacher for minority students in Camden, New Jersey. Some of you will remember that I got hired on a provisional certificate and then had to earn a teaching license. It'll be a snap for him to do the same!

It's a good job, teaching at the Vo-Tech. The base salary for Step 1 is a solid $47,000 with health benefits (you have to contribute) and a pension plan (you have to contribute and work 10 years to be vested). If you don't need to make more money, you can take the whole summer off. And if you do need money, Mr. Bannon, you can take my summer job and paint the hallways in the school!

I know what you're thinking, reader. You're thinking, "Anne. You would recommend this shameless racist for a teaching job in a school that is 99 percent minority, including a heaping helping of Dreamers?" Yes sirree. That's exactly what I'm doing. No one needs to witness the humanity of minority teenagers more than Steve Bannon. It's so easy to dismiss entire segments of the population with a flick of the lily-white wrist, if you really don't know anyone in that demographic. Quite another thing to hold such contemptible views when kid after kid strolls into your classroom, smiling shyly and saying "good morning."

Steve, I defy you to call for the deportation of Dreamers after one of them grins and holds a door open for you as you ascend three flights of stairs with a home room folder and a travel mug of tea! Sweet kids, Steve. You will love them. Most of them work really hard and listen closely. The hardest workers? The Dreamers. Hands down.

So fret not, Mr. Bannon! You can teach school! I fear your colleagues won't welcome you with open arms, but the kids will be great, so long as you're humble and willing to accord them the respect that all of your fellow humans should receive.

Good luck in your new career, Steve! The first two years are rough, what with night school and weekend lectures at Rowan University (and extra observations and frequent pop-ins by teacher-coaches). But I got through it at just about your age (acknowledging here that your age is hard to determine by looking at you). You'll be just fine.

See? This is how a nation should be governed. With humanity and tenderness and a little bit of counter-intuitive thinking.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

President Johnson (Me) on the Thorny Problem of North Korea

My fellow Americans,

Things have gotten so bad in the US of A that I have been asked to take over the helm. I'll be the first to tell you that I'm no expert on anything, domestic or foreign. A good president solicits advice and takes it humbly.

As president I will take suggestions from all kinds of knowledgeable people. In the meantime I'm going to be dignified and thoughtful in all my public pronouncements. I represent the nation, after all, and we don't want the world to see America as a bunch of foul-mouthed, shallow, self-obsessed morons, do we? (even if it's partly true)

One of the pressing questions facing our country right now is, what do we do about North Korea? The government is led by a shallow, self-obsessed moron, and they're dumping stacks and stacks and stacks into nuclear weapons. Worse, they're threatening to drop those weapons on America.

Although I intend to have high-level meetings with some of the finest minds in the country concerning this issue, my gut feeling as an ordinary semi-educated mortal is that the horror of nuclear weapons makes every thoughtful person unwilling to use them.

I will say this right now, pending further input from the experts: As president, I will not use nuclear weapons on North Korea.

The loss of life and devastation of landscape associated with nuclear weapons is unacceptable to me. Not only would we kill thousands of innocent citizens in North Korea, we would send plumes of radiation into neighboring nations. These nations are our trading partners and allies. They don't deserve plumes of radiation.

So my message to the dictator in North Korea is pretty simple. Kim, you will be responsible if you detonate a nuclear weapon over America or some other country. The world will see you as an aggressor and will probably help the US of A to retaliate. Because that's what we will do -- retaliate. We're not going to fire the first shot. So think long and hard about that button on your desk. If you push it, we will come. But we won't come until you push first, because as for me, I don't want that on my conscience.

As to the continued development of your program, even the possibility that you have germ warfare? As president I will push for harsh sanctions against your regime. I know that this is causing terrible hardship in your country -- hardship that is being felt by the innocent citizens there. It is my hope that the range of suffering among the citizenry will eventually lead to your ouster. But that suffering is on your plate, Kim, not mine. Feed your people, not your power.

My fellow Americans, please note that this presidential proclamation is subject to change pending long and thoughtful discussions with experts on international relations. No foolish and impulsive popping off on Twitter! We're going to do this sensibly.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

A Tale of Two Marches

There's some spark inside me that makes me want to march. Parades, protests, it's all the same to me. You close the roads, I'll walk 'em.

Most of my marching has been in Philadelphia. It's a pretty good place to march, mostly, as it's a grid and not hilly at all. The only thing adversely affecting a march in Philadelphia is the temperature.

In the summer of 2016 I participated in a march that was held at the time of the Democratic National Convention. The temperatures that day topped out in the mid-90s.

EXHIBIT A: 2016 SUMMER PROTEST MARCH, PHILADELPHIA


The "Michelle" thing is a long story. But this is me on a blistering hot day, with City Hall in the background.

What I chiefly remember about that day was that everyone was trying to find a speck of shade to stand in. People were clustered in the shadows of buildings. When we set out to march from City Hall to the stadiums, I aborted mission at Pine Street, dizzy from the heat.

Fast forward to January 1, 2017. Now, rather than hovering in the mid-90s, the temperature in Philadelphia was flirting with 15. The wind chill made it feel even colder.

EXHIBIT B: 2018 MUMMERS PARADE, PHILADELPHIA


Not only am I wearing exponentially more attire, you'll note that I'm standing in the sun. This was the funniest part, to me. In the summertime in Philly, everyone was looking for shade to stand in. On New Year's Day, we were all in search of the sunniest spot to keep our bones warm.

For those of you just joining the action here, I am a Philadelphia Mummer, a proud member of the Two Street Stompers Comic Brigade. Here's a better photo of this year's suit:

EXHIBIT C: ANNE IS FROM THE 1950s


Bad lighting. You can hardly see the poodle.

The Mummers Parade is a competition, and this year my club won! Our theme was "Back to the Philadelphia Future." We had a time machine, and the brigade was split into three groups (1950s, 1960s, and 1970s).

If you go to this link, you need to scroll down to the Two Street Stompers, and you can see a somewhat truncated version of our routine. It was a terrific routine, if I might brag a little bit. Shout out to the leader of my unit, Murph, who thought it might be nice to go shirtless in the subzero elements.

It was cold, but the sun was out, and the New Year got rung in with maximum craziness, and the Two Street Stompers emerged with another big victory. And today, the front page of the newspaper ...

EXHIBIT D: ANNE'S IN THE REAR IN A RED SKI HAT WITH POM POM


If you judge a girl by the company she keeps, I would say I hang out with an interesting crowd. Please note that, as in the first shot in this post, City Hall provides the backdrop.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

President Johnson, Third of Her Name

Welcome to the White House! I'm President Johnson, newly appointed. If you're just joining us, I have been given the responsibility of running the free world. There I was, just standing in the school cafeteria, and some very earnest men in dark suits asked me to change professions. Considering that I am never deemed a "distinguished" teacher in any of my evaluations (the best I can eke out is "proficient"), I thought I'd give being president a shot. Maybe I'll be a distinguished president!

I took over a few weeks ago. Do you know how many fabulous perks go with this job? I mean, to someone who already lives in the lap of luxury, the office of president might not be so cushy. To me it's like ... wow! Take Camp David, for instance. There it sits, nestled in the mountains west of Washington, DC, easy to get to, easy to guard, and light on the taxpayer pocketbook. Nice place! So that's were I spent the holidays with my close family. Wow, you should see the tasteful upholstery on the furniture and feel the whisper-soft towels lying in handy piles around the indoor pool. I could get used to living like this!

But now it's back to work. My first order of business has been to veto -- most emphatically -- the new tax bill sent to me by both houses of Congress. They're kidding, right?  Pretty much all this thing does is pay back the donor class and corporations for all the money they've spent on elections for their flunkies. Back to work Congress! First you have to convince me that we need to cut taxes, because what I think we need is to launch a major upgrade of infrastructure ... and that will cost a lot of money.

 Remember when you send me legislation to sign that I'm an appointed president, not an elected one. I'm not beholden to any special interest groups. So there!

Another pressing issue has come to my desk. My predecessor crafted a national defense report that excised climate change as a threat to our nation. Preposterous! You want to see a world in upheaval, just let the globe get hotter and hotter. So I'm restoring climate change as a major source of international tensions, possibly posing real danger for America and her safety.

One final little bit of work today and then I'll kiss some babies and give plaques to Girl Scouts. These judicial nominees being proposed? OUT WITH THE LOT OF THEM! I want a diverse judiciary with lots of experience and no damn political agenda! Either way! They are judges, not partisans. Send me people who have not been endorsed by any think tank anywhere.

For the record, I have a Twitter account, but I do not use it. I don't intend to start.

Also for the record, I don't play golf. I've got nothing particular against it, I would just rather hike.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Solstice 2017

Oh, these dreary days, these long, long nights! We try to push back the darkness by covering our homes with lights and bringing trees inside. And apparently it works, because by this time next week, the daylight will be returning, slowly at first and then in great gobs.



I'm sure all of us would love to go to a henge and see this sight. It's not always possible, though. Well, as luck would have it, there is a way to orient yourself so that you absolutely face the rising sun over Solstice Stonehenge.

Some extremely intelligent individual (not unlike the readers of this blog) has come up with a worldwide map of every single street that aligns with the Stonehenge solstices! Imagine that! You can find the site here.

I used the site to locate my city in North America, and what did my wondering eyes behold? A series of aligned streets are clustered around my school! It's quite a coincidence, too. It's not like Camden's city founders said, "Hey, let's lay our streets out so that, if you face east on winter solstice, you'll line up with Stonehenge! There aren't very many streets in my metro area that fit the bill. What an absolute joy that the little residential streets around the Vo-Tech are among the chosen few!

Snobville has one aligned street, too. If a girl were to get up at 3:00 a.m. to go face east and commune with Stonehenge energy, that Snobville street is closest.

But day to day, while I'm working, what a joy to know that a street I can see from my classroom window aligns with Stonehenge! This boosts my spirits.

A blessed Solstice to you, whatever your path. I hope your street is on the Stonehenge alignment grid.