Plant your trees, warriors | How your voices are making a difference

Please indulge me in a word before we launch into all the ways your voices made a difference this week.

“Sometimes you get the elevator; sometimes you get the shaft.” I first heard this saying in Austin writer Sarah Bird’s book The Boyfriend School. At the time I found it hilarious, but lately I’ve been finding it less amusing as it I see it manifest in our lives. The aphorism has never been more on display for me than with two key Supreme Court decisions handed down this week.

In the first we got the elevator: The court ruled that Donald couldn’t plow forward (at least for now) with his attempt to discriminate by adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, calling his justifications “contrived.” Donald, of course, called the ruling “totally ridiculous” in a customarily presidential tweet, and asked how his administration might circumvent the constitutionally mandated law that requires taking a new census every 10 years. Because why start respecting our Constitution or laws now?

The second Supreme Court decision gave anyone favoring equality and fairness the shaft: The court stripped federal courts of the right to prevent racially motivated and disenfranchising partisan gerrymandering, setting the stage for Republicans to continue to cheat their way into power. And it makes us have to consider that sometimes, at least in the short term, cheaters win.

Until they don’t—and I have every confidence that ultimately karma finds us all, and the arc of the moral universe “bends toward justice.”

But meanwhile how do you deal with those dips in the ascent? The setbacks, those moments of defeat and even despair?

I’ve been pondering this because as much as I always look to the ways we’re making progress, this past week (these past few, actually) have been like a battering ram on my psyche, and I imagine a number of us may share that feeling.

We may be living through the Chinese proverb’s dreaded “interesting times.” We inherited a relatively good world from our predecessors, who fought battles so much harder than this for basic freedom, for equality, for justice and civil rights. We’ve been so lucky to enjoy the fruits of all their effort, and if you’re like me, maybe you were ill prepared to have to fight battles like theirs all over again.

But we do.

And so we will. Here’s another proverb I just learned that moved me profoundly: “You eat fruit from trees you did not plant…and you must plant trees you will not eat from.”

Stay in the fight warriors. Even if we don’t see immediate victory, we must plant for those who will inherit this world after us.

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled progress—it’s been a busy week for…

Republicans Against the Law

A federal judge ruled that Democrats’ suit against Donald for violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution can proceed; lawmakers can begin soliciting financial and other records from the Trump Organization.

An appeals court panel says a Maryland judge should reconsider discriminatory intent by Donny’s administration in Wilbur Ross’s orchestrating the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

After Kellyanne Conway was found to have repeatedly violated the Hatch Act (which prohibits federal employees from political speech) by the ethics watchdog Office of Special Counsel and failed to appear before the House Oversight and Reform Committee for a hearing because the president of the United States forbade her to (reread that a few times), the House issued a subpoena to force her to appear.

The leak of almost 100 internal Trump transition team vetting documents revealed a panoply of major red flags about several officials who went on to secure high-ranking positions in the Trump administration.

The Best People

Gosh, look at that—once again a member of the “family values party” is being investigated for unethical behavior that flies in the face of conservative morality. California Rep. Duncan Hunter is accused of spending campaign funding on his extramarital mistresses, for a twofer: adultery and campaign finance violations. Keep it classy, GOP.

Sean Lawler, Donny’s diplomatic protocol chief, was indefinitely suspended indefinitely just before the G20 Summit in Japan because he’s being investigated by the State Department inspector general over accusations that Lawler intimidated his staff and carried a whip in the office. (Go on and reread that one a couple of times too.)

EPA air chief Bill Wehrum, who helped reverse Obama-era rules aimed at cutting pollutants, resigned amid an investigation by the Energy and Commerce Committee over his possible violations of federal ethics rules, which require political appointees to recuse themselves from specific matters involving their former employers and clients for two years.

After political and public outcry, the Treasury Department’s inspector general will open an investigation into why Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin delayed the new $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman.

The NRA’s internal earthquakes are growing on the Richter scale. There’s open public rancor between the NRA and their longtime advertising firm with whom they’ve just cut ties—bye-bye, shrill spokeswoman Dana Loesch!—and the organization just announced that its live-propaganda channel, NRA-TV, is no more.

Instead of Your Feel-good Stories of the Week, this week we have…

Citizens Defending Democracy

This section should renew your faith in the U.S. people amid the current gross vacuum in the current administration of leadership, morality, and ethics.

U.S. asylum officers ask federal court to end Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. The officers, who have been directed to implement the program, say it is “fundamentally contrary to the moral fabric of our Nation and our international and domestic legal obligations.”

Twitter announced a new policy of flagging accounts of world leaders who violate site rules (such as by fomenting white supremacist or hate messages). The tweets will stay on the site as being part of public record, but will not appear in searches or be recommended to users through any of Twitter’s algorithmic channels, and will appear with a label marking them as “abusive content.”

Even the usually peaceful crafting crowd are so incensed about the social, civil, and human rights violations of this administration that popular knitting site Ravelry, in what they called a resolution against white supremacy, has banned all pro-Trump content.

Reddit quarantined an active pro-Trump forum over repeated violations of its rules, including frequent incitements to violence.

In an unprecedented public stand, Highlights magazine, a widely popular and nonpolitical magazine for children since 1946, denounced Donald’s family separation policy, and the appalling conditions in which his administration is keeping these children detained. From the article: “Highlights encourages its readers to have moral courage, Johnson wrote, which involves ‘standing up for what we believe is right, honest and ethical — even when it is hard.’ He invited the public to speak out against family separation and demand better conditions for children held in detention facilities.”

Texas bishop walked with Central American migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. across the border bridge with Mexico to publicly protest the appalling conditions in which the Trump administration is housing asylum seekers.

There are so many good people in the world fighting against this tide of hate. Plant your trees, warriors.

And if you’re worried about the generation that comes after us, as long as most of them are like this kid, don’t. <3

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