Shift Happens When I Least Expect It

I have always hated housework. I was heavily influenced by Pat Mainardi’s feminist essay, The Politics of HouseworkI felt it took away from worthwhile things I could be doing instead, things that would feel better and make me happier. But the fact remained that if no one did it, it didn’t get done. And in a loving household, sharing shouldn’t have to mean keeping score, or feeling unappreciated.

Work Is Love Made Visible

So recently I decided to add a little pleasure to housework. Put on some music, get happy. Suddenly, I remembered a quotation that was posted in the kitchen of the home of my friend’s yoga teacher, some 30 years ago:” Work Is Love Made Visible.”* And I found that it opened my heart.

I cleaned the kitchen as a way to love my family and myself. I thought about how we all deserved the peace that came with order and cleanliness. And that was a gift to all of us.

*I couldn’t remember the source of the quotation, if I ever knew it.  Actually, it was Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet.

Thanks, Leo. I needed to read that post.

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Finding balance is hard. Striving for self-improvement is hard. I bet I’m not the only person who has a hard time balancing work, personal growth, maintenance of mind, body, spirit, and surroundings, creativity, and resistance (or, put more positively, activism).

Shoulding on myself

So I end up telling myself:

  • I should go to the gym (because I should get fit)
  • I should get back to meditating (because I should be more spiritually in tune)
  • I should clean out the fridge
  • I should set more specific goals for each day.
  • I should think more positively.

You can see why I call it “shoulding on myself.”

Forgetting what I know

I have an email account I don’t use much any more, and I had forgotten that it still receives emails from zen habits. Today I happened to open the email, and it was just what I needed to hear.Stop striving. You could try coming from appreciation and compassion. As in:

  • I appreciate my body, so I take care of it by eating well and exercising.
  • I appreciate life, so I go outside and be in nature instead of hanging out on my phone or at the computer.
  • I appreciate the moment, so I meditate.

That certainly feels better than, “There’s so much I need to do, I don’t know what to do first.”

So, thank you, Leo. I encourage everyone to check out this post.


Court Rejects Trump’s “Because I Said So” Argument

Today, February 9, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Trump Administration’s request to reinstate the January 27 Executive Order that barred people from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. The court ruled that the government had not proved its case.

Legal issues in a nutshell

The administration implemented its abrupt change in policy without any notice to the people who were affected—even to people who had already been granted visas to immigrate here, after years of “vetting,” or to those who were already legal permanent residents of the United States who happened to be traveling out of the country at the time. The states of Washington and Minnesota, which challenged the order, argued that this action violated the Due Process Clause of theFifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Essentially, the Due Process Clause requires the federal government to give notice and an opportunity to be heard before depriving individuals of life, liberty or property (A similar clause in the Fourteenth Amendment applies to actions by the states). The states also argued that the Executive Order violated many federal statutes, including the Immigration and Naturalization Act, the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

The states of Washington and Minnesota presented ample evidence that their residents and their state universities were harmed by President Trump’s January 27 Executive Order. Students and faculty members at state universities were denied reentry into the United States, which disrupted the activities of the universities. Families were separated.

When the district court entered its temporary restraining order, it found that: (1) the plaintiffs would be irreparably harmed if the Emergency Order remained in effect; (2) the plaintiffs were likely to win at trial; (3) the government would not be harmed by the delay; and (4) the public interest favored the plaintiffs. So it was the government’s burden to show that some government interest, such as national security, outweighed all of these concerns.

Trump’s chutzpah

The administration didn’t challenge any of the trial court’s factual findings. It didn’t show that any government interest would be irreparably harmed unless the court’s order was stayed (as is legally required). Instead, it argued that the court had no power to review the president’s determination that the Executive Order was necessary to protect national security. In other words, the Executive Order was lawful and necessary because he said so. And no one, including the court, had any right or power to question his action.

The president is going to have to learn that the government is not a business. The constitution doesn’t disappear just because he finds it inconvenient. Constitutional rights are available to everyone, not just citizens. And “because I said so” isn’t a trump card in litigation (pun definitely intended).

McConnell Pulls a Trump by Silencing Senator Warren

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R. Ky.) has issues. Maybe he needs to become a little more secure in his masculinity. Based on his conduct in the Senate on February 7, 2017, I’d say he seems to have trouble with women who speak forcefully. That’s when McConnell persuaded the Senate to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren (D. Mass.), allegedly for violating a rule against “impugning” another member of the Senate.

What Senator Warren did was to speak against the confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions (R. Ala.). She spoke for more than 50 minutes. You can view the entire speech here.  She had lots to say about Senator Sessions’s past actions, including, for example:

  • working to block votes on criminal justice legislation that had bipartisan support;
  • bringing litigation against civil rights workers who were helping African Americans who were registered voters to exercise their right to vote;
  • opposing the Violence Against Women Act;
  • opposing abortion rights; and
  • making racist remarks.

She used some very strong language of her own to oppose the confirmation of Senator Sessions because of its threats to the rights of African Americans, immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community, and  women. No one raised any objection.

Then she read a statement made by the late Senator Edward Kennedy during the debates on the confirmation of Sessions when he was nominated for a federal judgeship in 1986. At the time, Sessions was the U.S. Attorney for Alabama. Actually, Kennedy’s argument included the statement that Sessions was “a disgrace to the Department of Justice.”  No one said a word.

“She was warned”

Senator Warren went on to read a letter from the late Coretta Scott King, written to oppose Sessions’s 1986 nomination to the federal bench.  The chair interrupted her and warned her that she was violating a Senate rule which provides:

No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.

Here is the first interruption, with the so-called warning.

The rule violation was based on Warren’s quotation of Senator Kennedy’s statement. Warren questioned the ruling and asked if she could continue. The chair allowed her to do so, for another half hour. She continued to read the letter. And she went on to allege that the controversial immigration and travel ban of January 27 were, in part, the work of Jeff Sessions and Steve Miller. Senator Warren repeatedly criticized the Trump executive order on immigration.

What’s McConnell’s objection?

So what’s up with the sudden “enforcement” of the rule? When the chair interrupted Warren a second time, she was speaking about Sessions’s positions on legislation. Senator McConnell objected, not to what Senator Warren had just said, but to a passage from Mrs. King’s letter: “He has used the awesome power of his office to chill the exercise of the vote by black citizens.”

Here’s proof:

Never mind that more than 20 minutes had passed since Warren finished reading the letter.

Is the real problem Senator Warren’s gender?

Interestingly, Democratic senators came to Warren’s defense by reading the very letter that Warren was reprimanded for reading. Who else read it into the record today?

None of them was silenced under Rule XIX. What do they have that Senator Warren doesn’t have? Besides Republican respect. Oh.