A few weeks ago I mentioned that when I wasn’t spending my Labor Day holiday weekend at the annual Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, I was working on this tiny art canvas for an upcoming contest.

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Carousel Horses at Night
Acrylic on canvas
3 inches x 3 inches
8 cm x 8 cm

I recently submitted it to the contest and it’s now on display at the local Artist & Craftsman Supply store in Hyattsville, Maryland along with the other entries. Here is a photo of all the entries.

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Here’s a closeup of the row that includes my own canvas, which is known as number 9.

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Here’s the voting forms and ballot box where the general public can vote for their favorite tiny canvas. Basically you vote according to the number.

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So if you’re in the Washington, DC area and you really like my work, come by to the store and vote for artwork number 9. Here’s the store address:

Artist & Craftsman Supply
4902 43rd Avenue
Hyattsville, Maryland 20781
Phone: (301) 887-1104 or (844) 784-1104
Email: cpkmd@artistcraftsman.com

Voting will end on October 5 so please don’t delay. Get out to the store and vote today!

I saw this life-sized casket on sale at Safeway. I think it’s meant to be a Halloween decoration. It looks like it’s inflatable, which makes it impractical for buying a real body in. But it definitely stands out. When I walked past it I had to do everything to resist loudly blurting out “Caskets now available in aisle 4!” LOL!

Life-Sized Casket at Safeway

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2016
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 4, 2016

I stuck to my resolve to just stay as close to home as possible this Labor Day holiday weekend. September 5 was Labor Day so I spent the morning watching the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade while continuing to enjoy the glorious weather (which was sunny and warm but not too hot and the humidity was very low).

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The local Eleanor & Franklin Roosevelt Democratic Club marched with signs touting Hillary Clinton while chanting “I’m With Hillary!” A few people in the crowd started yelling “Bernie!” There were literally no cheers or clapping hands or anything. It was mostly silence except for the few people who were yelling Bernie Sanders’ name. The crowd’s reaction is the perfect metaphor for this year’s elections, which I’m not going to get into here because I could easily go off on a tangent where I write at least an extra 20 paragraphs and I’m really not in the mood to do that right now.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

A peace activist bicycles through the parade while he holds his sign.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The one other political group in the parade whose picture I took was of a group who were protesting the proposed TPP trade agreement that President Obama is trying to get the Congress to ratify even though it is very controversial.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

After the parade ended I went back home to eat lunch. I drove back to the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. I parked at St. Hugh’s Church then walked the rest of the way to the festival ground for the last day.

The Greenbelt Theater was having a free showing of the classic movie Brigadoon. The story was kind of hokey but I loved the music and dancing in that film. I ran into a friend after the movie and I socialized for a bit with her. I perused the craft tables and hung around the used book sale (which was giving away its inventory on the last day of the festival) while enjoying the continuing wonderful sunny with low humidity weather. I also took a last few pictures of the festival.

The last day of the 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The last day of the 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The last day of the 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The last day of the 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland.

I basically hung around the festival until 4 p.m., when I could pick up my painting from the art show. Here is the painting I showed at the Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show this year.

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You can learn more about how I created this piece right here.

Yesterday I wrote this long post explaining why I have left the Democrat Party and have changed my registration to Independent. I posted it just a few hours before the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

I no longer have cable (mainly because Comcast had gradually raised my rates from an affordable $75 per month to $200 per month even though I watched mostly the basic channels and I never did pay-per-view) and I haven’t gotten around to buying rabbit ears for my TV so I can watch regular television. (These days I only use my TV to play console games and watch DVDs.) I wasn’t going to bother with watching the debate until I learned that the local neighborhood movie theater decided to show the debate on the big screen with free admission. So I walked to the theater to check it out. The theater was initially streaming CNN until the picture went dark due to some kind of technical difficulty. The theater switched to getting its stream from MSNBC. In some weird way this technical glitch was just a harbinger of things to come.

It turned out to be the worst debate I’ve ever watched in my life. Hillary Clinton was spouting off her positions while saying that she’s not Trump. She kept on saying that people need to go to her website to learn her policies while being vague as to what her policies were. What’s worse is that she debated with all the enthusiasm of a patient getting a root canal while showing absolutely zero passion.

And then there was would-be Fascist Buffoon Donald Trump who had this perpetual scowl on his face. It was like the man was incapable of smiling. He constantly interrupted Hillary Clinton while she was talking. He would periodically gulp water while he glared at Clinton.

What’s more the audience in the movie theater where I was watching this debate were hooting and hollering like it was some pro-wrestling match. I became so disgusted by this farce of a debate that I left after 45 minutes and walked home.

I’ll admit that there were times when I felt heartened when both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump mentioned the plight of the workers in this country who are unemployed due to their jobs being outsourced overseas. But then I reminded myself that neither one had ever done anything to show their support for average workers like myself.

I’m also annoyed that this debate have left out the Green Party’s Jill Stein and the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson. While I personally prefer Stein over Johnson, they both should’ve been included in this debate out of the principle that hearing all points of view is good for a democracy. In fact I think it’s long overdue that this country should start including more political parties just like nearly every other democracy in the West but that’s another post altogether.

The only thing is that this debate has only strengthen my resolve to vote for Jill Stein in November. I know that she doesn’t have a huge chance of winning but I’m not only voting for her as a protest against both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump but also the Green Party will qualify for general election public funding if Jill Stein receives at least 5% of the votes. That means that there’s a potential for a real alternative to both Democrats and Republicans at the ballot box in future elections and I heartily favor that.

Getting back to last night’s debate, I took some pictures with my smartphone that says it all about how awful it was. It was literally Fascist Buffoon vs. Dragon Lady and it was a total disgrace to American democracy.

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Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2016

I started the day by going to Sunday service at my Unitarian Universalist congregation for the first time in several weeks. I was surprised to see two onetime members who had since moved to Florida and they were up in the DC area for a visit. They are a longtime gay couple whom my then-husband and I visited in Florida shortly after I started this blog back in 2010. (You can read the entries about that trip here, here, here, here, here, and here) We chatted for a bit and I learned that they managed to evade Hurricane Hermine, which struck the Tampa-St. Petersburg area where they now live. One of them has a son from a previous marriage to a woman and it turns out that I recognized the son’s girlfriend from the fact that we both participated in the yard sale that’s put on by my support group for people who are separated or divorced. I also found out that the son had been attending that same support group’s meetings at its Columbia chapter while I attend the ones in Crofton. The son met his girlfriend through the Columbia chapter. So it was a cool coincidence.

After church I decided to go to this local art supply shop then move on to the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. I discovered that I didn’t take out enough money at my bank’s ATM the day before. So I went to my bank’s ATM and tried to take out some more money only to get a slip that said “Access denied.” This was reminiscent of what happened Friday in Baltimore! Worse, I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it until Tuesday because of the holiday weekend. So I wasn’t able to do grocery shopping nor was I able to spend any more money at the festival on things like food.

I had just enough money left in my wallet to go to this local art supply shop to buy a tiny 3-inch canvas and one tube of black acrylic paint because I decided to take part in a local tiny art contest. Basically I worked on that canvas the whole weekend when I wasn’t at the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. Here is what that canvas looked like.

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You can read more about the making of this tiny painting right here.

Since I was short on money I ate lunch at home then headed out to the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. Instead of taking the shuttle bus I decided to park in the parking lot at St. Hughes Catholic Church and just walk the rest of the way to the festival ground. On my way there I checked out the Greenbelt Peace Memorial. I remember when I went to the opening ceremony for that memorial last year (which was held indoors because it rained heavily that day) and I visited it in person for the first time shortly afterwards. Since that visit I noticed that someone had added a pole that says “Peace on Earth” in four different languages.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I eventually made my way to the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival.

Photo from the 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival.

The weather was very lovely. It was warm but not too hot and the humidity was very low. It was the perfect day for going to that festival for the second day in a row. I went to the Greenbelt Museum because it was having its free admission day. After that visit I perused the craft tables because it was the first day of the craft show but I didn’t buy anything because of a lack of money. I did take a few photographs, starting with these handmade beds that were for American Girl and other 18-inch dolls.

Photo from the 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival.

Makerspace 125 had this table outside its doors where anyone can pick up some free fabric.

Photo from 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival.

Photo from 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival.

Photo from 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival.

Photo from 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival.

Photo from 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival.

Photo from 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival.

Photo from 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival.

Photo from 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival.

Photo from 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival.

Photo from 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival.

I went back home after spending some time at the festival. I spent my time eating dinner and working on my tiny canvas for that upcoming contest.

Greenbelt Parade and Labor Day Festival, September 5, 2016

It’s very appropriate that I did a certain action today just a few hours before the start of the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Today I did something that I once considered unthinkable and it’s also the sort of thing that will shock some members of my family when they learn this: I have joined the #DEMEXIT movement by changing my voter registration from Democrat to Independent. This is the first time I have ever changed my party affiliation in my life and I’m now glad I did it. In a way I felt I had to after seeing the horrible shenanigans on the part of the Democratic National Convention and Hillary Clinton that had been going on for many months and it came to a crescendo in Philadelphia just a few months ago.

I have followed in the footsteps of other longtime Democrats by quitting the party entirely such as this person and that person.

In some ways it’s sad that it has come to this for me. When I was 18 my high school held a special assembly that was only for students who were either already 18 or who will turn 18 before Election Day that November. The assembly was led by two women who were from the local elections board and they were there to register us as new voters. We were given voter registration forms that we could fill out then return to the two women. I registered my name and address. When it came time to check party affiliation, I chose the Democrat Party. It was a no-brainer for me. I lived in a heavily Democratic state (Maryland) and I come from a long line of mostly Democrats, especially on my mother’s side of the family.

In fact I had a distant cousin named Harry Banahan, Sr., who was devoted to Democratic politics. I don’t remember whether my Grandfather Banahan was also Harry’s uncle or cousin but Harry was definitely my cousin on my mother’s side of the family. Grandfather Banahan died a few years before I was born and I was never in contact with the other members of his family when I was growing up. (For some reason that have become lost in time since most of the people directly involved are now deceased, the members of my grandfather’s family decided to cease most contact with my grandmother after my grandfather died.) I didn’t meet Harry until after I was an adult and I only saw him in person twice—once when my Grandmother Banahan died and once when my aunt (my mother’s older sister) died a few years later. Both times were little more than a brief meeting at the funeral and I had never gotten into any in-depth conversations with him. (He was a few decades older than me. I remember he socialized mostly with my mother and other people who were either her age or older.) We never called each other or exchanged letters or anything like that. To me he was just a distant relative whom I only met twice in my life but had no other contact with him.

Harry Banahan, Sr. died back in February at the ripe old age of 98. I only learned this because one of my other cousins said that she had found his obituary in The Baltimore Sun. (For the record I didn’t go to his funeral because I didn’t know about his death until a couple of months after he was laid to rest.) Reading his obituary online, it was no mystery as to why he was a loyal Democrat his entire life. At 16 he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was one of the many New Deal programs that Franklin D. Roosevelt created to help those who were burdened by the Great Depression. He left the CCC to serve a machinist apprenticeship at the B&O Railroad’s Mount Clare Shop but later returned to the CCC when he was furloughed. He was called back to the railroad but he later went on to serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war he owned and operated a couple of sporting goods stores and he also was a purchasing director at the Baltimore Civic Center (now known as the Royal Farms Arena).

According to family lore (which I haven’t been able to independently verify) he ran as a candidate for the Baltimore City Council a few times in the 1950’s but he lost every election he ever ran in. He most likely ran as a Democrat because Baltimore was—and still is—heavily dominated in local politics by the Democratic establishment. Despite those defeats, he still kept tabs on local politics. His obituary mentioned that William Donald Schaefer (who was both former Baltimore Mayor and former Maryland Governor) was a friend. Harry Banahan was mentioned in this 2007 Baltimore Sun article where, at the ripe age of 90, he spoke with then-Governor Martin O’Malley about how he strongly supported the erection of a statue dedicated to Schaefer. Cousin Harry was probably thrilled when he got his wish because one can now find William Donald Schaefer’s statue in Baltimore at the Inner Harbor between Harborplace and the Maryland Science Center (both of which were built and opened during his days as Mayor).

It’s easy to understand why Harry Banahan was loyal to the Democrat Party his entire life. He benefitted directly from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program at a time when he needed the work. Thanks to that start from the CCC, he eventually became a successful businessman while supporting his wife and children with no help from anyone else. He was even able to spend the last years of his long life with complete dignity. There’s a charming story on the Little Sisters of the Poor St. Martin’s Baltimore website about how, at the age of 95, he was crowned the King of Valentine’s Day. Harry’s wife had passed away by then so an older woman was selected to be his Queen: 101-year-old Florence Curtis.

While Harry Banahan, Sr. was personally and professionally well-served by the Democrat Party throughout his life, unfortunately I can’t say the same for myself. Despite my own lifelong loyalty to the Democrat Party, that party hadn’t done much to benefit me personally. In fact that party seemed to have gone out of its way to alienate me. It started when I was a student at the University of Maryland. I was a Journalism major while minoring in Government and Politics. I was looking for a potential summer internship when I saw a notice through the College of Journalism where the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was looking to hire a few interns for the summer. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity. I was a registered Democrat and that internship would have tapped into both my major and my minor so I applied.

I received a callback where they wanted to talk to me and we were trying to set up an appointment where I would meet with someone for a face to face interview. I was trying to schedule a time where it wouldn’t conflict with classes, especially if there was an important exam being held that day. While we were trying to figure out an appointment time that would work for the both of us, the woman I spoke with suddenly blurted out, “You don’t really want this internship, do you?” That was totally out of the blue because I don’t recall giving any kind of vibes of not being interested. (Hell, if I wasn’t interested, I would never have applied in the first place.) I protested that I really did want that internship. We finally settled on a date and time. But then the DNC called either a few hours later or a few days later (I don’t remember which) and found that, for some reason I don’t remember, we had to reschedule my interview. Again while we were trying to figure out schedules I got the same “You don’t really want this internship, do you?” question over the phone. I felt like I was being discouraged from even trying to get this internship, which made me more insistent that I get an interview for this internship just so I could show those people that I could do the work.

I managed to get an appointment that worked for everyone concerned. On that day I used public transportation (I didn’t have a car at the time) to go to the DNC’s offices in downtown DC and did a few interviews with the various departments that were looking for interns but I didn’t get an internship. But I still remember that “You don’t really want this internship, do you?” sudden jab all those years later and I especially started to remember it even more in recent months given how I’ve seen the DNC behaved. I’m at the point where the DNC thinks of rank and file members like me as riffraff who don’t really matter because we aren’t the 1% with incredibly deep financial pockets and I really don’t want to belong to an organization who doesn’t really want me around. This recent link I found has a headline that says it all about the current Democrat Party’s attitudes about its own members who aren’t powerful and wealthy: Liberal Elites Hate the Left.

Despite that early disappointment regarding not getting that internship at the DNC, I still remained a loyal Democrat for many years. As time went on I discovered that my relationship with the Democratic Party was becoming more and more one-sided. It was like a woman who falls in love with a conceited yet charismatic man who frequently ignores her while screwing around with several other women at the same time (and he might even be already married to someone else). Yet when he says a few kind words to her (and maybe even give her a single red rose) that are little more than throwing a bone, she starts to hang on those words while thinking “He likes me! He really, really likes me!” She continues to remain loyal to that cad while he continues to screw around behind her back. I never wanted to be in that situation in my private life so why should I expect similar treatment in from my affiliated political party?

Ever since Jimmy Carter lost the 1980 elections to Ronald Reagan I’ve seen the Democrat Party shoot itself in the foot over and over again.

In 1984 Ronald Reagan was running for re-election while running those now-classic “It’s Morning in America” ads, which definitely resonated with a lot of people. Gary Hart had thrown his hat in the race in the Democratic primary yet the establishment wanted former Vice President Walter Mondale to be the nominee. Gary Hart won the first few primaries, which would echo Bernie Sanders’ primary wins a few decades later, and I remember those victories freaked out the establishment in the DNC who really wanted Mondale. I started seeing results in later primaries where, in a close race, the DNC enabled Walter Mondale would get the lion’s share of the delegates even though the popular vote was tied. Despite the DNC’s love for Walter Mondale, I remember seeing footage of the two on the campaign trail and, to be blunt, Gary Hart performed way better than Mondale. And he had the charisma that matched Regan’s and, well, Mondale just didn’t resonate with a lot of people despite the DNC’s insistence that Mondale be its nominee. While I can’t say for sure whether Gary Hart would’ve defeated Ronald Reagan in 1984, I’d like to believe that he would’ve come much closer to Reagan than Mondale’s dismal results on Election Day.

In 1988, when Reagan was constitutionally prohibited from seeking a third presidential term and Gary Hart decided to try running for president as a Democrat again, the DNC decided that Michael Dukakis was the man who would beat Reagan’s vice president, George H.W. Bush. This time Gary Hart’s campaign was done in by a scandal of his own making (remember the ship Monkey Business?) so the DNC got its way again by having Dukakis as its candidate. I remember Dukakis was just as timid on the campaign trail as Mondale was. Whenever Bush or any other Republican tried to pin the dreaded “L” word (liberal) he would go to great lengths to avoid discussing being a liberal. Then there was that idiotic photo he did of himself in a tank while wearing military gear, which earned him total ridicule nationwide. I remember reading in The Washington Post about two or three days before the election where Michael Dukakis said that, yes, he’s a liberal in the tradition of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. It was a lovely rebuttal that would’ve been awesome had he uttered it months earlier. Sadly that rebuttal was too little, too late and George H.W. Bush became the next president.

In 2000 Bill Clinton’s Vice President, Al Gore, ran against George W. Bush, the son of President George H.W. Bush. It was also the year that Ralph Nader received a lot of attention because he decided to run for office on the Green Party ticket. For years I’ve heard loyal Democrats blame Nader for splitting the Democratic vote and ensuring the reality of a President George W. Bush. At one point I believed this. Recently there have been web pages debunking the idea that Nader was the spoiler in that election, such as this one. And there are my memories of Gore as a campaigner. I remember he came across as stiff and cautious on the campaign trail. He seemed like he was literally afraid of taking any kind of risks. I remember when I watched An Inconvenient Truth a number of years later and I saw a different Al Gore who was arguing passionately on why the U.S. needs to focus on climate change right now before it’s too late. It was too bad that Al Gore didn’t show that passionate side of him when he was on the campaign trail because he probably would’ve ended up in the White House by a more decisive margin that wouldn’t needed the intervention of the Supreme Court.

In 2004 John Kerry ran against incumbent George W. Bush but he ran a totally lackluster campaign. I remember when the Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth challenged John Kerry on his Vietnam War record and John Kerry didn’t even respond at all. In fact I remember when he seemed to make himself scarce after the Democratic Convention and there were no calls for volunteers to help on his campaign. He did perform brilliantly in the debates against George W. Bush but that was about it. It was no wonder he lost that year.

Even when the Democrats win the White House they turned out to be disappointing. In 1992 the economy was going through a recession and the Democrats had a chance to regain the White House for the first time since 1980. Bill Clinton was elected president and he proceeded to act so cautiously to the point where he supported the Defense of Marriage Act (which was a big “FUCK YOU!” to LGBTQ persons who wanted the legal right to marry their partners) and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (which was also a big “FUCK YOU!” to LGBTQ people who wanted to serve their country in the military). He championed NAFTA by calling it the best thing for American jobs when, in reality, it hastened the corporations sending well paying jobs outside the U.S. because they could pay impoverished Mexicans less money while not being required to care about such things as occupational safety. Despite his cautious nature, his siding with corporations who wanted to ship American jobs overseas, and willingness to constantly appease the Republicans (especially those who really loathed him and were out to get him) I voted for him again in 1996 because I fell into the whole “we must unite to re-elect Clinton because Bob Dole is far worse and he’ll outlaw legal abortion and destroy the country if Clinton is defeated” argument and, besides, I was still a loyal Democrat at this point. I even remained a loyal Democrat when Bill Clinton was impeached during his second term because he lied about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. (It says it all when the Republicans have been trying to find something on the scandal-prone Clintons that could hold up in a legal setting—ranging from Whitewater to the Rose Law Firm—and the only thing they could make stick is that Clinton lied under oath about getting blowjobs from Monica Lewinsky. And even that didn’t last long since Clinton ultimately prevailed and he stayed in his President job until his second term ended.)

In 2008 I chose Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the primaries because he was promising hope and change. Given the economic crisis when Wall Street literally tanked the economy I felt that a latter-day Franklin Delano Roosevelt is what this country needed and Obama talked like he was FDR reincarnated. I didn’t even care about the color of his skin—he could’ve had blue or purple skin and I still would’ve voted for him because I loved what he was saying at the time. But once he was elected he started putting in Wall Street types like Tim Geithner in prominent positions in his administration. Even his primary rival, Hillary Clinton, was given the position of Secretary of State. I’ve written in the past about how let down I felt about President Obama (especially when he did this compromise with the Republicans where the wages of federal employees like my ex-husband has been frozen for the last few years just so he could prove that, yes, he’s not a stereotypical “tax and spend liberal”). Despite my disappointment I voted for him again in 2012 mainly because the Republicans had put Mitt Romney as its candidate and this is the guy who loved to say stuff like “I like being able to fire people.” Plus I heard the message from Democrats saying that “we need to vote blue, no matter who, because the alternative is worse” and I believed it enough to help reelect President Obama. But it turned out to be all for naught because it ended up being the same old thing as before. At that point I declared myself as being through with supporting President Obama.

Over the years I didn’t just vote Democrat. When I was married my husband and I used to donate to Democrats running in various races, especially on the state and local level. (I haven’t made a financial donation to any political candidate or campaign mainly because of tight finances stemming from my divorce.) I even did some volunteer work on a few campaigns for Democratic candidates (most recently for Bernie Sanders during this year’s primary). But, in the end, the Democrats only did a few token things that I approved of (such as keeping abortion and birth control legal) while not doing much to help average people getting back on their feet, especially after the 2008 economic collapse.

Things really came to a head this year with the primaries and I finally came to my senses and decided that enough is enough. I decided to support Bernie Sanders because he was someone who had long fought for the underdog in the Senate and he felt that this country needed an ambitious program similar to FDR’s New Deal as a way of revitalizing America one again. He was also determined to run a clean campaign by refusing to accept large donations. Instead he encouraged average people to donate small amounts of money and he managed to raise enough money to be able to take on Hillary Clinton and her benefactors (mainly Wall Street). He remained strong throughout the primaries and he even won several states. But then Hillary Clinton’s campaign did some shenanigans that have really lowered my opinion of her even more than previously.

First there were the reports that the Clinton campaign had hired Internet trolls who went around to various social media sites, write multiple posts praising Clinton while trying to start fights with Bernie Sanders supporters. But starting online social media fights weren’t enough. These people tried to shut down pro-Bernie Sanders Facebook groups and one troll was accused of posting child pornography in some of those groups then report those same groups to Facebook for having child pornography that he posted online.

One result of these professional Internet trolls is that I no longer take any pro-Hillary posts seriously on social media because I have no way of knowing whether he/she is really a genuine Hillary Clinton supporter or if that person is really a professional troll who was hired by the campaign to post favorable stuff while bashing Bernie Sanders. I tend to ignore whatever argument that supporter makes regarding how favorable Hillary Clinton is because there’s always the possibility that this person is just a paid plant who really doesn’t really believe what he/she posts. The downside is that real Hillary Clinton supporters (the ones who really believe in her candidacy and who aren’t being paid by her campaign) are now unfairly lumped in with the paid trolls and their arguments get dismissed by myself and many other people as well. I know it’s not fair to the true believers but that’s on the campaign for hiring these professional trolls in the first place instead of cultivating voters to their campaign and electrifying them in a way that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have done.

But the one thing that has made me resolve to never vote for her is that Hillary Clinton has her own election scandal. There have been reports of frequent voter fraud in favor of Hillary Clinton in places like IllinoisMassachusettsKentuckyArizonaNew YorkCalifornia, and Nevada. In addition a hacker known as Guccifer2 has been hacking into the DNC’s servers while providing plenty of data dumps on how tight Hillary Clinton is with the DNC and the mainstream media. Then there is the recent Wikileaks release (which happened just days before the start of the Democratic Convention) of some previously confidential emails from the DNC that pretty much proves that the primary elections were rigged in favor of Hillary Clinton from the very beginning at the expense of other candidates (especially Bernie Sanders).

As a woman I would love to see a woman occupy the Oval Office in my lifetime. But just having breasts and a vagina isn’t enough for me. The woman who deserves to be known as the first woman president would have to represent the vested interests of the 99% instead of the 1% and, based on that alone, Hillary Clinton is ill-suited for such a historic first given her close Wall Street ties while showing little interest in any kind of reforms (such as reinstating the Glass-Steagal Act that was originally passed during the Great Depression in order to regulate the financial industry and was repealed during her husband’s administration). If she does get elected she will have way too much baggage to be an effective leader, as this next link puts it:

A Hillary Clinton presidency, then, would face a national majority of citizens in open rebellion. Either intuitively or consciously they are incensed with the dominance of corporate political power. This is the template of governance Ms. Clinton helped create, the one in which she is historically and demonstrably comfortable, and the one which finances her campaigns for elected office.  Wed to those donors, and locked into this mindset of the New Democratic Party, her presidency could not and would not alter significantly the status quo. Proudly she claims as much: “Let’s not start from scratch,” she says.  Corporate dominance would remain unchallenged, the rebellion ignored.

Rebellion scorned will escalate; first to spirited demonstrations we have already seen, conceivably to violence.  Only substantive reform can accommodate it.

Reform is neither difficult nor unprecedented.  Our history displays a number of means of subordinating corporate interests to the welfare of the American people. More than a century ago—in the “Gilded Age”—the nation faced a similar crisis and dealt with it successfully.  And a century before that, effective mechanisms were in place to restrain corporate dominion, even though the threat of it was already visible.

If all that isn’t enough, Hillary (and her husband, Bill, for that matter) just can’t avoid getting involved in some scandal. Starting with Bill Clinton’s days as Arkansas Governor, there has been one scandal after another that resulted in investigations of the sort that would have ended other people’s political careers a long time ago. The Clintons seem to be the type of people who just can’t avoid getting into trouble. Sure sexism (involving Hillary’s gender) and classism (regarding Bill growing up in a poor family) may have something to do with it but crying sexism and classism can only get you very far before people conclude that you’re crying “Wolf!” way too many times. And then there is the one common denominator to all of these scandals: a Clinton was involved (either Bill or Hillary or both).

If Hillary Clinton was the only Democrat who had issues, it would be bad enough. But it seems like the entire Democrat Party is out of step with its traditional supporters (workers). A few weeks before the convention in Philadelphia the party decided against adding a platform that would’ve opposed the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, a multi-nation trade agreement that was negotiated completely in secret and it would not only have a negative impact on workers but it could also affect the environment as well as national sovereignty. (The TPP has been derided as “NAFTA on steroids.”)

The biggest irony is that had ex-Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, both Bill and Hillary Clinton, and other neoliberals had been dominant in the Democrat Party back when my cousin Harry Banahan was 16, there would have been no CCC or any other New Deal program available for him and it’s most likely that he would have lived the bulk of his life in poverty instead of the long and fruitful life he actually lived. It’s also possible that he would not have lived as long as he did since poor people generally tend to have less access to things like healthy food and medical care. And I seriously doubt that he would’ve been as loyal to the Democrats as he actually was.

Right now I’m registered as an Independent. I might have converted to the Republican Party had they not gone off the deep end years ago by catering to fundamentalist Christian extremists, white Southern men who pine for a return of the Confederate States of America, and devotees of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. The Republican downward spiral started with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and I think it may be on the verge of hitting rock bottom. The fact that a total buffoon like Donald Trump became the official nominee on the Republican Party while channeling both Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini by saying all kinds of outrageous hateful stuff against everyone except heterosexual white Christian men with no disabilities says it all about the GOP these days and I don’t want to have anything to do with them. (The only good thing I can say about the Republican National Committee is that at least they provided equal resources to all 17 candidates who ran under their banner and there were no reports of election rigging to favor one candidate. In other words, Donald Trump got his nomination the old fashioned way—he earned them in totally fair and clean primaries.)

Even though I will probably vote for Jill Stein on the Green party ticket because I agree with nearly everything on the Green party platform, I decided against registering as a Green. That’s because I had a brief encounter with them back in the 1980’s when I was still in college and they were then-known in the U.S. as the Citizens Party and I soon became unimpressed because they had organizational problems back then. Basically they would field a candidate for the presidential elections then you wouldn’t hear from then until the next elections. While some of the organizers talked about needing to field candidates on the state and local levels in order to build a genuine grassroots movement from the ground up, they frequently didn’t follow through. Had they done so starting in 1984 (when they fielded excommunicated Mormon and feminist Sonia Johnson as their presidential candidate), they probably would be a real force to be reckoned with today instead of a being a marginal party that is rarely taken seriously by many people.

I know my friends on Facebook are begging people to not vote for a third party candidate because of the threat of a potential fascist Donald Trump Administration. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m now 99% convinced that those rumors of Trump running a fake campaign to both destroy the Republican Party and elect Hillary Clinton to the White House are actually true, I might have held my nose and voted for Clinton in an effort to thwart a modern day Hitler or Mussolini. But those back and forth exchanges between Trump and Clinton seemed so forced and scripted that I’ve seen the children in my church act more convincingly in special plays that are held during the annual Religious Exploration Sunday service each spring. That’s why I’m convinced that this year’s race is totally fake. Sadly this is something that some mainstream media outlet could’ve uncovered a la Watergate in the 1970’s if it weren’t for the fact that much of the mainstream media is dominated by just five or six corporations—with nearly all of them making donations to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

In any case I refuse to take part in a fake campaign by voting for either Trump or Clinton and I am looking forward to voting for my first woman for president—Jill Stein. I will also vote for the people running for lower offices as long as they are people whom I respect, regardless of whether they are Democrats, Republicans, or some other party. To me a vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton would be rewarding them for unethical behavior that is probably illegal as well and I refuse to do it. My friends can beg me or cajole me either on social media or real life but I’m not going to budge on this. If I end up losing friends over this, so be it. I’d rather follow my conscience and be at peace with my decision than to give in to peer pressure and do something I’ll end up regretting years later.

I’m sure my late cousin and loyal Democrat Harry Banahan would’ve been disappointed to hear that a member of his extended family had left the party. But I’d like to believe that he would’ve understood had I spoken to him about how I feel that today’s Democrat Party is not the same Democrat Party as the one that gave Harry a job in the CCC when he was 16 and I had been getting increasingly alienated from my own party because of it. In some ways, I feel like the Democrat Party had left average people like me a long time ago and I doubt that they’ll miss me at all.

I was pretty content to just spend the bulk of my holiday weekend at the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival while spending my downtime at home working on this tiny art canvas for an upcoming local contest. Monday-Thursday before the holiday were spent visiting my mother in a hospital in Glen Burnie. Thursday turned out to be the day before she was released from the hospital so I put my latest painting in the car, drove to Glen Burnie to visit my mother (while leaving my art in the car during that visit), then go directly from the hospital in Glen Burnie to the Greenbelt Community Center so I could drop off my painting for the Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show since it was the first time period that submissions were being accepted. Friday I drove to Baltimore where I visited the Walters Art Museum then went to the nearby Escape Artists Gallery for a closing show party regarding this exhibition that I took part in. I was invited to take my painting with me when I left because it didn’t sell and the show was going to end in two days.

After spending the last five days commuting from the DC area to the Baltimore area I was ready to do less traveling for Labor Day.

I didn’t make it to the first night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival on Friday because I was in Baltimore at that time. I went on Saturday because I had signed up to serve a shift as a monitor at the art show. (All participants were required to sign up for one volunteer shift during the show.) The day before I had some ATM drama where I tried to use this machine in Baltimore that gave me one of those dreaded “Access Denied” messages. The following morning I went to my own bank’s ATM and I got some money with no problem at all. I felt happy and I was all ready to just enjoy the festival.

The weather was incredibly lovely and pleasant. It was warm but not too hot and there was no humidity in the air. In short, it was a perfect day to go to an outdoor festival.

Since parking is atrocious whenever the Labor Day Festival happens I took the shuttle bus over to the festival grounds after I ate lunch at home. I went over to the art show where I served my monitor shift for an hour from 3-4 p.m. Here is the painting that I submitted to this year’s Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show.

picture5

You can read more about the making of this piece right here.

My monitor shift was peaceful and uneventful. After my shift ended I looked at the rest of the art that were on display in both the art show and photography show. I ate a giant pretzel topped with crabmeat and cheese for dinner then ate an ice cream cone for dessert. I checked the various booths and tables that were there that day. I played a few rounds of Bingo but I didn’t win anything. I also shot some photographs.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Since this year is an election year, there were life-sized cardboard figures resembling Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I hung around the festival as the sun started to set and day turned into night.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Basically I took pictures until I grew tired. I decided to take the shuttle bus back to where my car was parked. While I was waiting at the bus stop I saw a couple pass me from behind and I immediately recognized them as my ex-husband and my onetime mentally ill friend whom he married just two months after out divorce was final. By then it was around 8 p.m. and I was leaving the festival while the Backstabbing Couple From Hell were just entering it. At least I didn’t have to worry about running into them. (LOL!)

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 4, 2016
Greenbelt Parade and Labor Day Festival, September 5, 2016

Free Tutorials

Check out this free tutorial on how to make crocheted hearts in a continuous chain. This is great for making jewelry or as a border for an afghan or even as something one can attach to the hemline of a dress or jacket.

Here’s another free crochet tutorial on how to crochet tulip stitches.

Are you an art newbie who wants to learn how to draw and/or paint or are you someone who wants to brush up on those skills yet can’t afford to buy how-to books or take any formal art classes? The Art is Fun site has free drawing and painting lessons that you can follow along while creating your own works of art.

Here’s a free tutorial on how to make your own fairy house using recycled plastic bottles, stones, and grout.

Miscellaneous Links

For generations many young people have been dissuaded from pursuing a career in the creative field because of the frequent stereotype of the “starving artist” who stands on street corners doing drawings or singing or poetry reading while panhandling for cash. This essay on Why I will never be a starving artist shows an alternative way of living where one can still have a creative career while not living in poverty.

And, speaking of starving artists, there is the disturbing trend of more companies expecting artists, writers, photographers, and programmers to work for them for either free or for extremely low pay while justifying this by saying that the would be creative person is getting exposure that will translate into a well-paying job somewhere else. If you are considering doing a few months of unpaid work for such a company, this chart will help you decide whether to take this unpaid opportunity in the hopes of getting more exposure for your work.

The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore has not only digitized its extensive art collection but it has also made them free for anyone to download and use.

Many of us have heard about or are familiar with that one person who is a ne’er do well. From an early age this person constantly keeps on making the wrong decisions that results in that person living in poverty and staying there. The Atlantic magazine’s website has this interesting article on Your Brain on Poverty: Why Poor People Seem to Make Bad Decisions that brings a perspective that most people don’t even consider when they wag their fingers at poor people and admonish them for what seems to be, on the surface, making a series of poor life choices.

Meet Naomi Parker-Fraley, a 95-year-old woman who served as the original inspiration for the iconic Rosie the Riveter poster from World War II.

When I first started on the Internet a number of years ago, The Onion was the one site that was satiric in nature and had gotten a lot of attention for its hilarious fake news stories. Nowadays there are so many fake news sites out there that get shared on social media that it’s impossible to tell which ones are genuine news sites, which ones are parodies, and which ones are propaganda sites that are very heavily one-sided. This rumor-busting site, Real or Satire?, can easily solve for you which sites you can trust. The next time you get some link from your Aunt Mildred on Facebook from a site claiming that Donald Trump is really the biological father of Hillary Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, you can just copy the URL into its form and it’ll tell you whether to trust that link as fact or not.

Benjamin Franklin

There is no little enemy.

I was inspired to do this Throwback Thursday after The Daily Mail recently did one of those “Where Are They Now?” stories about a woman who became famous back in 2009 for giving birth to the first set of octuplets where all of the infants have survived in the United States. At the time the mainstream media was hyping this story as one of those “miracle birth” stories and how wonderful, inspirational, and miraculous it was for so many babies to be born from the same womb at once.

But that sense of awe and wonder quickly turned to disgust when the same mainstream media found out that the mother of those octuplets already had six other children and she was raising them as a single mother. Like those octuplets, she had her other children through in vitro fertilization and she used the same doctor for all 14 of her kids. In addition that mother also hadn’t worked in a few years and she was living on disability payments.

As for the father of those children, the mother claimed that she used the same sperm donor for all of them but this alleged father, known as either David Suleman or David Solomon, has never publicly revealed himself nor has he ever remotely done anything to help support those children. An old boyfriend named Denis Beaudoin claimed to be the children’s biological father on ABC’s Good Morning America and he was even willing to undergo a paternity test. Nadya Suleman denied that Beaudoin was the father.

So the mother, then known as Nadya Suleman, was soon dubbed “Octomom” in the media. While the mainstream media backed away from this story, the less reputable gossip publications and websites started to hound her and her kids.

I saw an interview that Nadya Suleman gave to NBC’s The Today Show soon after her octuplets were born and I felt there was something off about her. She kept on saying that she was going to return to grad school in the fall (she was a college student studying to become a therapist at the time all of her children were conceived) to resume her studies despite the fact that she was now the mother of 14 children—including 8 infants—under the age of 8. She also played up to the camera as she was showing off her 8 newborns in their incubators (they were all born premature). She subsequently did a series of videos for the gossip site RadarOnline and I saw her older children literally running wild around the house with little or no discipline at all. Those videos were shot while the octuplets were still in the hospital and all I saw was total chaos.

As a result I did this 9 inch x 12 inch (23 cm x 30 cm) painting in 2009 called The Scream of Nadya “Octomom” Suleman.

The Scream of Nadya Suleman

I did this painting before I even started this blog but I would write about it for the first time on September 4, 2011. I showed it in a few local art shows and I got a good response to that painting each time I displayed it. But I also was ambitious and I wanted more attention not only for this painting but also for myself as well. I was hoping for some career opportunities related to my art where I would actually make some money doing what I love the most.

So I had this idea where I would make a video of this painting and post it on YouTube. I felt that just having a video doing little more than displaying a static painting with no sounds wouldn’t be any good. So I decided to do a bunch of closeups of various elements in this painting along with various sound effects. I did a soundtrack mixing various royalty-free sound effects in GarageBand, I imported various still photos of that painting (including closeups) into iPhoto, and I put everything together into iMovie. I was in Phoenix visiting my then-husband’s mother and stepfather while I was working on this project. (We used to make such trips to Arizona at least once a year until my mother-in-law’s death in 2010 and my marital breakup in 2011.) I think I may have even uploaded it on to YouTube during my Arizona trip as well but I don’t remember exactly. But here is the video version.

Now I’m going to tell you a true story that I’ve never wrote about in this blog before. It’s a tale of reality shows and contracts and how I was almost famous. I waited until now to write a post about it because I was still under contract to this media company and I didn’t want to write anything that could potentially get me into any kind of legal trouble. Now that the contract has long since expired, I feel a bit freer to write openly about the aftermath of posting that video on YouTube.

Here’s some background. At one point Nadya Suleman (or her then-media representatives) were shopping around a potential reality TV show that would be similar to TLC’s hit reality show Jon & Kate Plus 8 (about a married couple who were raising a set of twins and a set of sextuplets). Most of the U.S. media were leery about doing a show like that because of the controversy surrounding Nadya Suleman and her 14 children. But then it was announced that Nadya Suleman had signed a contract with the British media company Eyeworks for a reality show about her and her large brood. What’s more there was a report that this reality show wouldn’t even be shown on American television and it was going to air only in Europe.

At that point I received a surprise personal message through my YouTube account from someone who was representing Eyeworks. This person said that the company was interested in using my video in their reality show and all I needed to do was provide my personal email address so they could send a contract for me to sign. I was really excited that a major British production company was interested in my video and I thought that it would be the start of something big for me as a byproduct. I responded with my email address and I promptly got a contract for me to sign.

I read it and I initially had concern about some of the provisions which were this: Eyeworks would have exclusive use to this video for five years and I would not be compensated for their use of my video. I wasn’t keen about not being paid for having my video shown but then I thought that this could be my one chance at having some major opportunities open up for me. I could put the fact that my video was aired on a television show on my resume. I could potentially have other people provide paid work for me based on seeing my video on television both in the U.S. and in Europe.

Ultimately I printed out the contract, signed it, scanned it into the computer, and emailed it back to Eyeworks. I filed the printed signed copy away. I recently found it among my records and here is what it looked like.

eyeworksoctomomcontract

Ultimately that potentially good opportunity that the contract represented came to nothing in the long run. The last time this Eyeworks-produced reality show was ever mentioned was in this New York Times article that was published on November 12, 2009. Since then there has been no more mention of that reality show airing anywhere in the world. In fact, there is no mention as to whether that reality show has ever finished filming its first season. What happened? The only clue I’ve found as to the ultimate fate of that reality series is this article that was posted on PerezHilton.com in 2009 where Nadya Suleman denied ever signing any contract to appear in a reality show.

In any case my one chance for possible glory pretty much went down the tubes along with the reality show. As I look back on this I now think that it’s for the best because I don’t even know if anything would even have come from Eyeworks having the rights to use my video had that reality show actually been aired on television. In fact, I don’t even know if my video would have even appeared on that show or if it would’ve been one of those things that ended up on the cutting room floor at the last minute because the director changed his/her mind about actually using it.

I’m not really too disappointed over my video’s outcome and I’ve basically moved on from that episode.

As for Nadya Suleman herself, she went on to appearing in this low-budget movie called 666 the Devil’s Child. She also went on to masturbating in a porn movie while also working as an adult entertainer dancing in men’s clubs. She subsequently got into all kinds of legal and financial trouble (including drug abuse), which is documented on her Wikipedia page.

She eventually faded from the public spotlight for a bit until she did her recent interview with The Daily Mail. According to that article, she now goes by the name Natalie Suleman, she claims to have “killed off” her “vile Octomom persona,” she has kicked her addiction to Xanax, she is a vegan and she has put her kids on that same diet, she now works as a counselor and a family therapist, and she no longer does any kind of sex work. Strangely the photos accompanying that story only has her and her octuplets and there are no photos of her six older children. I have no idea if that was Suleman’s doing or the photographer’s doing or if the older children didn’t want to be photographed at all or if it was a an instance where the photographer took photos of the other children but the editors at The Daily Mail opted not to publish them.

Natalie Suleman seemed very upbeat and positive in that story but, then again, she has a long history of contradicting herself, which is well-documented on this site. There is no independent way of verifying whether she is telling the truth about herself or her family at this point. I only hope that, for the sake of her 14 children, she really did tell the truth to The Daily Mail and she really has turned her life around to the point where she is a functioning responsible adult.

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