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In The Garden of Beasts and America’s Role in Confronting Evil in the World

I just finished Erik Larson’s 2011 “In the Garden of Beasts” an extraordinary work of “narrative nonfiction”— a meticulously researched nonfiction novel—the accurately reported history of the rise to power in Germany of Hitler and the Nazi party.  For those who ask, “How could Hitler and his followers have attained such absolute power, committed such atrocities (even in the early and mid 1930’s), and led Germany and Europe (and eventually the United States, as well) into World War II—how could the World have allowed this to happen” this book provide clear but intricate answers.

 

It begins in 1933 when William Dodd, a college professor is appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as our first ambassador to Hitler’s Nazi Germany.  As he settles into his ambassadorship in Berlin with his wife and adult daughter and son, he begins to see the persecution of Germany’s Jews and assaults on even those Jews who had bravely fought for Germany in the previous World War.  He sees attacks on the press and censorship of those who dared to express criticism directed against Hitler and the Nazi regime.  He sees laws created to restrict the activities and movement of Jews, to remove Jews from their jobs and to seize their property.   He sees the arrest of dissidents and the assignment to concentration camps of those who protest the government’s policies, of communists, of Jews.  We see Dodd’s increasing alarm about Germany’s rearming and militarization—breaking the terms of the Treaty of Versailles which ended World War I.  As I try to ask myself why did the United States and President Roosevelt (a President for whom I generally offer fulsome praise for his progressive social programs)—why did they, why did WE not intervene to stop Hitler’s ascension to power, his horrific atrocities?  Why did we allow or choose to ignore the horror, the terror, the blood which was clearly on his hands and which was a part of his master plan for the Third Reich, for Europe, and the world entire?

 

From my understanding of the book, it seems that the answers to those absolutely essential questions are both numerous and varied, but can be distilled into these basic conclusions

 

  1. Our government was reconciled to trying to maintain a positive relationship with Germany and to not upset its leaders with blatant criticism.

 

  1. The United States government was hoping to recoup the war debt and reparations that Germany owed to the United States’ European allies and to our country itself.

 

  1. There was a strong mood of isolationism in the United States, a feeling that we should not get involved in the affairs of state in other countries.

 

  1. There was a tendency to ignore preliminary restrictions and acts of oppression or violence in 1932-1934 refusing to realize that these insults to civilized behavior would lead to even more extreme actions of violence and inhumanity in the years to follow.

 

  1. There was a subtle and at times not-so-subtle anti-Semitic tendency among some in American society and government who while appreciating the contributions of Jews to the fields of medicine, law, business, and government, also felt that there were too many Jews who were rising to positions of prominence in those areas. This allowed some Americans to in some ways empathize with what some in Germany referred to as their “Jewish problem” even as those same Americans may have disapproved of the specific actions the Germans were taking against Jews.

 

  1. In addition, since the U.S. was in the middle of an economic crisis that began with Black Friday in 1929 and continued through the 1930’s with the Great Depression some Americans also empathized with the poor economic situation in Germany, and seemed be willing to allow Germany to take steps to shore up its economy—even if it meant scapegoating Jews and other groups.

 

  1. There were members of the U.S. Government who were concerned that if President Roosevelt issued a strong statement about Germany’s unfair and horrifying treatment of Jews, then that might open up an “acrimonious discussion” with the German government in which they might ask the President to explain why Black Americans still did not have voting rights, or why lynchings of Black Americans were not prevented or severely punished, or why anti-Semitic feelings in the U..S seemed to be growing and were not “checked,”

 

  1. There was a feeling among some that intervention would make things even worse for the victims of the Nazi regime–that the German people would eventually see Hitler and his henchmen for what they truly were and would remove the “fuhrer” and the Nazi party from power on their own.

 

  1. There was an aura of incredulity, a disbelief that these outrageous acts—these crimes against humanity—could actually occur in such a civilized country as Germany—the home of Goethe and Brecht, the land of Bach, Beethoven, Handel, and Brahms.

 

For all these reasons, and perhaps for other reasons that I have not yet divined, the United States (as well as a number of European countries) either ignored what was happening, protested too mildly, or chose not to involve themselves fully until it was too late and Hitler had obtained absolute power and until Hitler, Goring, Himmler, Goebbels, and Bormann were well underway in their attempts to perpetrate the “final solution” and to bring about a master Aryan race that would rule Europe and eventually the world.

 

And so, you may ask, is this merely a book review—a critique of a fascinating work of history that reads as a novel—which mixes the raw facts of Hitler’s rise to power with the equally factual story of an ambassador’s family, the unending series of diplomatic events and parties, and the numerous romantic dalliances of their adult daughter?  Absolutely not; my intentions are so much more than that.

 

During the entire course of reading this book, I became alarmed about the parallels that I see in modern American and world society.  We are all, of course, fully familiar with the following two quotations that are two of the most often quoted lines in modern times.  The first by Philosopher George Santayana:  “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” And the second, by  Author and Statesman Edmund Burke:  “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  Poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox seems to echo these same sentiments in her oft quoted line (often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln) “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”  For these reasons, I feel that it is incumbent upon me and upon all those who are committed to a caring, civilized society to speak out.

 

My first concern is the attacks that I see nearly every day on the press and the media as a whole.  These attacks were as much a part of Nazi Germany as they have been at the heart of any totalitarian regime in modern times. The attempts of the current administration to label all print, television, radio, and internet criticism as fake news is deplorable.  Reports that are fastidiously researched and confirmed from multiple sources by major news organizations like the Washington Post and CNN News are routinely dismissed as hit jobs or fake news.  Is there, in fact, such a thing as “fake news”?  Yes, it is that which often appears on the internet from unreliable facebook or other sites which can easily be proven false by a 5-10 minute google search and the realization that a particular questionable item is not reported by any reliable news source—not the Associated Press, not Reuter’s News Service, not the NY Times, not the Washington Post, not any of the major TV news stations (ABC, NBC, CBS), not CNN.  The role of the press—especially in a society such as our which provides for freedom of the press as one of the major tenets of our democracy is not merely to serve as a device which trumpets the daily news, not merely to serve as a chronicler of all it observes, but also as a watchdog for government—to report on government, ethics excesses, and abuses of power.  It cannot fulfill that function in the necessary manner if it is constantly under attack by this administration both when such attacks come from the White House or from the President overseas at the G20 Summit.

 

My second area of concern is in our Government’s attitude toward and actions with regard to autocratic world leaders like Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, and North Korea’s “Supreme Leader” Kim Jong-un.

 

In 2014, Putin and Russia invaded the Crimean Peninsula in the Ukraine and annexed it. Also in 2014, Putin and Russia were blamed for shooting down a Malaysian jet, killing all 298 civilians on board.   In 2016, Putin and Russia worked to destabilize the U.S. by meddling in our elections.  The President this week twice “pressed” Putin on the matter but then apparently accepted his denials.  He did not lay out the significant proof from every one of our intelligence agencies who investigated the hacking.  He apparently did not say that “Here is the evidence; here are the consequences for your actions; and here are the consequences if you dare to interfere in our elections in the future.”  In fact, he said on camera that it was “an honor” to meet President Putin—this depot who had imprisoned and put to death journalists and dissidents who criticized his policies.  In fact, just today it was announced that the “U.S. and Russia would launch a bilateral working group that included a focus on cyber-security.”  This would be like the proverbial naiveté of asking the fox to guard the henhouse. The former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO, Jim Townsend noted, “If the Russians want to coordinate with us on cyber-security it’s likely an operation to do intelligence gathering.”  Florida Senator Marco Rubio (a Republican) said today that “Partnering with Putin on a ‘Cyber Security Unit’ is akin to partnering with Assad on a “Chemical Weapons Unit.”  The major question we need to answer is “How much should we be cooperating with President Putin, and how much—on the other hand—should we be opposing him”?

 

Another dictator whose actions need our attention is Bashir al-Assad.  In April of this year, Assad was responsible for an action which received the condemnation of the entire world as over 80 people were killed and hundreds seriously impacted in a chemical weapons attack in Northwestern Syria.  Less than a month ago, the U.S. learned that Syria’s Assad may be preparing a new chemical weapons attack that would result in “mass murder” of civilians.  Are we doing enough to protect not only Syria’s own people from this tyrant, but also to protect the rest of the world from him?

 

Finally, just this month, our nation and the world was confronted with the successful launch of North Korea’s first intercontinental ballistic missile—powerful enough to reach the Alaska in the United States, and possibly even the western coast of the U.S.A.—California, Oregon, Washington.  How long will it be until  Kim Jong-un develops a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can be attached to an ICBM that can reach our nation?  Will we wait on the sidelines for that to happen?  Will increased sanctions sufficiently deter this rogue nation and its supreme leader?  Can anything short of force—can anything short of war curb Kim Jong-un’s bellicose rhetoric and hostile actions?

 

These are the questions that continue to plague not only me, but also our country’s leaders.  Will we learn from the past, or continue to repeat the mistakes that permitted Hitler and Nazi Germany to create a regime of blood and violence that resulted in a world war in which  50 to 80 million people were killed, in which 6 million Jews were murdered, in which 6 million Poles, gypsies, communists, homosexuals, and disabled persons were murdered?  Will we allow evil to triumph, while good people stand by and do nothing — or simply do not do ENOUGH?  These are the questions of our times, and Larson’s superb book “In the Garden of Beasts” is a lesson in the results of allowing evil to exist, to grow, and to impact the world in ways that still stagger the imagination even as they assault all our notions of decency and humanity.

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Chelsea Clinton Speaks on Behalf of Her Mother, Sec. Hillary Clinton, and Clinton Supporter Interviews at Keene, NH

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Last Friday, November 4, I visited Keene State College in southern New Hampshire for a “Get Out the Vote” event where I heard Chelsea Clinton speak passionately in support of her mother, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to an audience consisting of both college students and older adults.  Ms. Clinton emphasized that the stakes are very high in the Presidential election on Tuesday of this week.  She stressed that all of the following issues are “on the ballot” in this election:  science, college and graduate school affordability, a woman’s right to make her own decisions, protecting marriage equality, raising the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work (with an emphasis on both women and Americans with disabilities), criminal justice reform, gun violence prevention, the heroin and opioid overdose epidemic, and the suicide epidemic.

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The photos here  and on my facebook site ( http://tinyurl.com/hbzqd6x )   give a good portrait of Chelsea Clinton.  To hear a portion of her speech, please click on the following link to a video I published for “This Week With Mitch Grosky,” my political and social commentary blog:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQJt6ynTCFk&feature=share

I am honored that my blog and accompanying videos have been viewed by over one hundred thousand people from across the United States and from such foreign countries as France, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Italy, Egypt, Singapore, Norway, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Romania, and Guatemala

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In addition, the video features six interviews I conducted with Hillary Clinton supporters in attendance at the event.  They were asked three questions:  1. Why do you support Hillary Clinton for President?  2. Why do you think that it is essential for our country to elect Hillary Clinton as its President?  3. Did you ever consider voting for Donald Trump?  Why or why not?

This election may be the most important one in our lifetimes.  Please, vote–and vote for the person who will bring character, compassion, intelligence, wisdom, and experience to the office of President of the United States.

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The Hillary Clinton I Know, and the Kind, Caring Woman Some Refuse to See . . .

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Admittedly, I’ve never actually met Hillary Clinton, though I have watched a few dozen of her speeches over the years and  actually attended one in person.  I have probably read another two dozen articles or books about her life and work.  I have followed her career and admired her work and her commitment to people –particularly to children and women–ever since her husband was running for President back in 1991.  I was 25 years younger then–a relatively youthful man of 40–and I saw and continue to see a strong, determined, brilliant woman whose words and acts truly reveal both a true compassion for others as well as a burning passion for making people’s lives better!  Over all these  years, this is a woman whom I feel I really know –and respect and admire.

I don’t look at Hillary with blinders on; I am fully aware of all the attacks that regularly and routinely have come from nearly everyone on the right, far too many on the left, and from many average middle-of-the-road Americans.  In many cases, I could debate each of those arguments, and successfully refute many of the points that are routinely and incorrectly made, but that is not my point here.  My purpose in this blog post, is to show you the Hillary Clinton I have always known.  When my friends (and occasionally relatives) ask me why I support Hillary, when they routinely excoriate her for Benghazi or her email servers or for any number of other offenses, I get frustrated that they simply refuse to acknowledge all the good that she has done for others.  They refuse to accept that her life’s work has been focused on helping the poor, helping the sick, helping those who live in the shadows of our society, helping those who experience prejudice and discrimination, those who–even in 2016–are not treated always equally within the home or within our nation.

I am hopeful that people of all political points of view will take seven minutes of their lives watch the fascinating video to which I LINK below.  It shows just 8 to 10 brief stories out of literally thousand of times when Hillary has listened to the problems of average Americans and has done her best to help.  It shows why I and millions and millions of other Americans strongly support Hillary Clinton for  President of the United States.

Hillary Clinton’s Commitment to Women and Children

 

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Michelle Obama’s Powerful Speech on Women

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First Lady Michelle Obama (Courtesy of Creative Commons)

 

I just watched, once again on MSNBC,  Michelle Obama’s incredibly powerful speech in New Hampshire about women and about the comments and actions of Donald Trump against women. The speech was magnificent — AND historic.   It was a speech for the ages–much like Hillary Clinton’s famous speech about Women’s rights being Human rights.

The First Lady’s speech was more than an emotional diatribe against Donald Trump and his views of and actions against women. It was a profound denunciation of the attitudes that some men, some societies, even some women have held against women in our society and our world–against their rights, against their character, against their roles in society (some chosen and some forced), against their very beings. It was a powerful condemnation of the way that so many women are treated by men–especially men in powerful positions.

She stood up for women and spoke directly to them–with a shared knowledge and experience. She spoke not only of women, but also of men who were outraged at the sexism and misogyny and discrimination they have seen throughout this campaign and throughout their lives. She stood up for the daughters and sons in America and across the world. And I was proud–so proud of her–as First Lady, as a woman, as a leader. In one extraordinary speech, she said so much about women–what they live with, what they have to overcome, what they indeed HAVE overcome, what they can achieve and what they HAVE achieved.

The speech should be played and replayed, over and over, for appropriate audiences–young men and women, and those older, as well. And let us hope and pray–and aspire to a day sometime in the very near future, when we will not need to re-play this speech because women will have achieved full equality–in the boardroom, in the home, and in society–and, most importantly, in the way they are spoken about and TREATED by all people–men and women–each and every day.

NOTE:  To view the entire speech by First Lady Michelle Obama (courtesy of Vox), please click on the following link:  Michelle Obama’s Speech

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New Hampshire: Standing Up and Speaking Out for Hillary Clinton!

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On September 28, I spent the day covering the Hillary Clinton/Bernie Sanders Campaign Appearance at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH. for my political/social issues blog “This Week With Mitch Grosky.” In addition to taking over 500 photos, I also conducted brief interviews with a number of the people there.  After being addressed by a number of college officials and state officials, Governor Maggie Hassan (now running for Senator) spoke to the crowd.

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Governor Maggie Hassan

She was followed by the entrance of Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders.

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Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders Enter Together to Loud Cheers and Enthusiastic Applause

Bernie Sanders spoke first, speaking of the importance of electing Hillary Clinton as President. He also spoke about some of the issues–education, climate change, minimum wage, and others–that they share in common.

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Senator Bernie Sanders

Then Hillary Clinton spoke about some of these same issues, as well as the importance of universal pre-Kindergarten (pre-school), spending most of her time addressing the theme of the day: “Debt Free College.”

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This is her education plan which would dramatically reduce college costs for most students. The plan calls for making public colleges and universities tuition-free for families who earn less than $125,000 per year, making community college free for all students, and helping students to significantly lower their current debt by refinancing at lower interest rates.

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After speeches by Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton, there was a panel discussion or Question and Answer session in which both featured speakers answered pre-selected questions from the audience about their plans for education reform. The enthusiastic full-capacity crowd of 1,200 seemed to really enjoy both the speeches and the bonus question and answer session.

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I was struck by a couple of things:

 First of all, it was easy to discern and appreciate the real excitement in the audience as people waited in line to enter with eager anticipation, and as they actually listened carefully to the speeches of the afternoon–especially those of Secretary Hillary Clinton, U.S.Senator Bernie Sanders, and Governor Maggie Hassan.

Secondly, I was impressed that the people there expressed nearly universal approval of and strong praise for Hillary Clinton.   Sometimes when people look on facebook or on the various news programs, they get the impression that everyone sees this election as a choice between the “lesser of two evils.”  That was certainly NOT the case here.  These are people who strongly believe in Hillary Clinton, who deeply admire who she is and all that she has accomplished in the past approximately 30 years.  These are people who enthusiastically support her and are totally committed to her.

In each brief interview that I conducted, I focused on two major questions.  First of all, I asked, “Are you here to support Hillary Clinton or to make up your mind?”  In nearly every single case–including those involving former Bernie Sanders supporters–I found that people had already made a firm commitment to support Hillary Clinton.

Secondly, once they acknowledged that they were already supporting Secretary Clinton, I asked them, “Could you give me a couple of reasons why you feel that she is the best candidate for President?”  People voiced strong opinions in support of the former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State.  What follows are excerpts from some of the conversations which I had with well over a dozen supporters.

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Clai from West Berlin, New Hampshire

I see a woman who is brilliant, knows policy inside and out, and who cares for everyone around her. . . She came out at the beginning of her campaign talking about (reasonable gun limitations) when nobody else did, and she’s met with survivors (of gun violence) all over the country in small groups . . . it’s on her agenda.”  –Clai from West Berlin, New Hampshire

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Deb from North Hampton, New Hampshire

“I’m here as a volunteer, for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and we’re concerned about the gun violence that’s taking the lives of over 30,000 Americans per day, and Hillary has come out and said that she’s going to fight the NRA and fight for sensible gun laws, and Donald Trump has not said that, so I’m very much supporting Hillary for that reason. . . Here in New Hampshire, there are a lot of gun owners, and there’s no reason that the second amendment can’t go hand-in-hand with sensible gun laws.” –Deb from North Hampton, New Hampshire

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Veronica from Cambridge, Massachusetts

“Her message ‘Stronger Together’—I firmly and confidently believe in that.  She’s all for getting our country together—something I firmly believe and I think that’s what we need today, especially with all that’s going on.  The world is a scary place, and thinking about Trump ruling our nation scares me to death.  It took me a while to come to Hillary, but I strongly believe in her message, ‘Stronger Together.’”–Veronica from Cambridge, Massachusetts

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“I’ve been a supporter of hers for like 15 years . . . I lived in New York; I volunteered on her staff and so on . . .  I feel that she brings a view and she understands the problems that are going on in the community, and I think she will do so much better than Donald.  I mean Donald is very upsetting because he’s spouting bigotry . . . he’s spouting separation.  It’s just amazing the things that he’s said.  He makes me feel that he doesn’t feel sorry for the words he’s expressing. . . He’s saying things that some people feel, and they’ve been afraid to say—whether (those things) are right or wrong.  He’s given them carte blanche to say those things . . . and it’s very scary because you have a population that might THINK those things about their neighbor, but he’s expressed it so (it seems like it’s) OK to say those things.” –Denise from Roxbury, Massachusetts

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Allison, Executive Editor of “The New Hampshire,” the School Newspaper at UNH—from West Hartford, CT

“I am neutral right now.  What’s important to me is that the students are educated (about) the candidates and that we get as many students as we can out there to vote on Election Day. . . The biggest issue that I’m interested in is education. I’ve always been really interested in education, and I’m listening to what the candidates have to say about student debt . . . This is not something that is on the forefront of most people’s minds, so it is our responsibility to make sure that issue is covered, and that we’re voting in favor of what’s best for our generation —Allison, Executive Editor of “The New Hampshire,” the School Newspaper at UNH—from West Hartford, CT

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Natalie, originally from New Hampshire but now living in Florida

“I’m here in support of Hillary Clinton.  I think she’s fantastic.  I’ve been following her for years.  I think she’s absolutely brilliant.  For me, personally, it would be the ACA (Affordable Care Act or Obamacare), but it’s having a first woman President . . . it’s huge; I mean we have to break that barrier . .  . everything that the Democrats stand for, quite frankly, and what the Republicans are against.”  She indicated that she was “not at all” impressed by Donald Trump—“It’s very scary; we can’t have that; we just can’t have that . . . I think he’s dangerous; I think he would take us down financially.  I think he would promote hatred, and other countries would be coming against us, and we would bear that—that hate and that burden.  The Supreme Court is also at stake; we’re looking at 3-4 Supreme Court seats – the next 20 years . . . I have zero confidence in Donald Trump (in making those appointments), and I’m terrified quite frankly.  –Natalie, originally from New Hampshire but now living in Florida

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Keith from Kennebunk, Maine.

“I’m already in support of Hillary Clinton.  She’s good for jobs.  She’s good for the colleges.  She‘s good for the college students.  She’s good for a lot of issues that the American people are concerned about.  I’m not interested in Donald Trump’s candidacy; I think he’s a farce.  He talks a lot.  Big talk, but I don’t think he can put anything behind his words. . . I don’t believe him; he’s lying to the American people.”  –Keith from Kennebunk, Maine.

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Chad from Ipswich, Massachusetts

“Those are the two reasons (that I’m supporting Hillary Clinton)—daughter number one and daughter number two –those are the number one and two reasons that I’m supporting Hillary Clinton. (The fact that she’s a woman) is important to me because it’s kind of unprecedented.  We’ve seen our first African-American President, and that’s amazing, and it would be nice to see . . . a woman, and it’s not a party trick in my mind.  I think that she is the most qualified person for this job, and the fact that she’s a woman is really icing on the cake.  There are only a handful (of her positions) that I have any disagreement with her about.”  He indicated the following as important issues for him:  “The issue of racial equality; that tops for me right now.  The environment is tops for me right now.  Not as much for me the story of the economy.  I’ve lived in a lot of countries in the world, and I know what world economy is, and it takes a little bit of perspective to understand what economy is like in this country.  Granted I’m a somewhat privileged person, but even with that, it’s hard to compare poverty in Guatemala and Haiti to what everyday working class people are feeling in the United States.  But I will say that over the last 8 years, we’ve seen a whole lot of positive change that we never saw in the previous 8 years.”  He indicated that he “absolutely” liked that Hillary Clinton would continue the politics of Barack Obama. . . “I’m very much aligned with the ideology of Barack Obama, and Bernie—absolutely Bernie, as well.  Gun control, by the way, is also right up there on the list. . . I think we just need reasonable gun control. It’s obvious.  It’s sensible.  You go anyplace else in the world and people talk about the United States.  (They ask) Does everyone carry a gun? Do you have to fear for your life when you walk down the street?  The answer is no, but that fear is there for a reason, and you spend time in other developed world countries and they don’t have the same issues we have . . .”             —Chad from Ipswich, Massachusetts

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Sylvia from Salem, Massachusetts

“I’ve made up my mind (to support Hillary)–since 2008.  Experience, Brilliance, Commitment. -–Sylvia from Salem, Massachusetts

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–Ted from Durham, New Hampshire

“I’m supporting Hillary.  I’ve been a Democrat most of my life, so that’s part of it, but I also think that I’m not so much afraid of Donald as I am of the image that he portrays, and the ability for the rest of this country to look at that and have bad behavior because of it.  He noted that the image he projects to the rest of the world “is even scarier.  .  . the lack of respect for all human beings and the inclusiveness that he rejects . . .”  –Ted from Durham, New Hampshire

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Bill from Durham, New Hampshire

“I’m supporting Hillary Clinton.  She’s far more experienced and she knows what’s she’s doing whereas I don’t really like Donald Trump.  What about Donald Trump particularly bothers me?  Oh, let’s see:  the fact of his bigotry, the fact that he once went on record saying that he wouldn’t mind dating his own daughter, the fact that he went over to Scotland and kicked people off their land using . . . eminent domain. . . In addition to that, he led basically a lynch mob against the Central Park Four who were accused of assault.”  —Bill from Durham, New Hampshire.

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Jared from Exeter, New Hampshire

“I’m supporting Hillary Clinton.  I agree with most of her plans, and I think she’s a strong leader, who can cross beyond party borders.  I support most of her social plans, like I support  the LGBT community and the Black community especially.”  –Jared from Exeter, New Hampshire

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Menat from Exeter, New Hampshire

“I’m supporting Hillary Clinton.  I think Hillary has more of the majority of the people around our country’s  needs in mind—over Trump, and that’s the way I think our next President should be.  I think there’s a lot of unemployment currently . . . she has plans like implementing solar panels that will solve two problems in one—to make sure we have clean energy as well as employing more people. . . I think Donald Trump has this certain mindset that the top one percent of our country has, and that’s just not the majority of the thoughts and opinions of the people in our country, and I don’t think that the President should represent just the top one percent.”  Menat from Exeter, New Hampshire

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More Faces in the Crowd at the University of New Hampshire Event for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

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For over 300 MORE photographs of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Maggie Hassan, and Others at this event, please check me out on facebook at Hillary and Bernie Visit UNH!

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A Call for HONESTY in Presidential Politics on Facebook

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Don’t Believe Everything You Read: Phony Memes, Photoshopped Photos, and False Tweets

A FACEBOOK POLITICAL POST THAT MAKES SENSE —

NO MATTER WHICH CANDIDATE YOU ARE SUPPORTING!

Did Hillary Clinton REALLY say, “The average Democrat voter is just plain stupid”? Did Bernie Sanders really say, “My object in life is to dethrone God and destroy capitalism”? Did Donald Trump once call Republicans “the dumbest group of voters in the country”? Did Ted Cruz really hug Fidel Castro? Is that photo of Marco Rubio shaking hands with President Obama while signing a trade deal real”? Did Hillary Clinton really shake hands with Bin Laden, like that picture I saw on the internet? Did Ted Cruz really say, “When gays stayed hidden we had no mass murders”? Did Obama really order that the words “Under God” be removed from the “Pledge of Allegiance”?

The answer to ALL of the above questions is NO — absolutely NOT!

All of the above quotations were placed on actual facebook memes which were shared thousands and thousands of times, and if you check each one out on a fact-checking site like Snopes.com or politifact.com, you will find that they are all FALSE, all FAKE.

Can I please ask for YOUR help? Can you help me to get rid of phony memes on facebook? I am getting so tired of seeing people post absolutely FALSE and PHONY political memes on facebook, as well as phony photoshopped photos of political candidates. No matter WHO you support, this is absolutely WRONG! Please, before you share some political poster–especially one with a candidate saying something that sounds absolutely outrageous, please CHECK IT OUT FIRST!!! You can simply google the quote by asking something like this: “Did (Candidate’s Name) actually say, “……..”? Usually, that search will show you a Snopes article (Snopes is a neutral and respected fact-checker) demonstrating to you that the quotation is FALSE (though on rare occasions, it may show that it is true).

This primaries and the national Presidential election in November is absolutely crucial toward our county’s future–and perhaps the world’s future, as well. Nearly ALL of us believe that–no matter what candidate we support. What I am asking is for us all to rely just as much as we can on FACTS in supporting our candidates. If you attack the positions of another candidate, please use carefully checked FACTS in doing so. Even if you feel you must attack the character of another candidate, please do so in a civil way, and use FACTS.

And just because you found it on someone’s Republican website, or Democratic website, or Tea Party website, DOESN’T mean it is TRUE. Try to check it out with the most reputable source that you can—not some left-leaning OR right-leaning website. Look for sources (like Politifact or Snopes or maybe CNN which are generally given credit for trying to maintain neutrality). I know some of you may disagree with those sources I mentioned, but just try to be sure it is generally respected as a neutral site for reporting FACTS. And if you find a friend or family member–or even a stranger–sharing something that seems outrageous, please check it out. If it proves to be false, don’t ignore it, please point out that it is false, and include the link that PROVES it is false.

Many of the memes, posters, and photos that are shown in the collage above were shared MILLIONS of times, and believed by the people who shared them AND who viewed them. We all have a responsibility to be sure to vote, and to make up our minds–to make our choice–based on FACTS. The choice for our country is far too important to believe falsehoods, half-truths, and outright lies.

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Mitchell R. Grosky Photography in Collaboration with Fashion Designer VIDA

ANNOUNCING  AN  EXCITING  NEW  VENTURE  FOR

MITCHELL R. GROSKY PHOTOGRAPHY!

Vida Header for Grosky

VIDA  FASHION  DESIGNS

Vida Voices

It has been an incredibly exciting week for me at Mitchell R. Grosky Photography.  Early this week I received an email from VIDA.  VIDA is a global partnership of creators–painters, illustrators, photographers, sculptors–pairing designers from around the world with makers in Pakistan and India in accordance with high ethical standards, to create original, beautiful products.  And the best part is that using part of the proceeds from the sales of the products, VIDA creates literacy programs for the makers, so that they have opportunities to learn reading, writing and basic math that they would not otherwise have.

Click HERE or on the photo below to view the “Vida Story.”

The Artist Manager at VIDA indicated that she had seen my photography and digital painting online (at Mitchell R. Grosky Photography and Fine Art America) and believed that it would “fit beautifully with the VIDA brand and design vision.”  In summary, they invited me to join their growing community of artists, which now includes a select group of illustrious multi-media artists from across the United States and around the world.

Although I have never thought of myself in any way as a fashion designer, I was still intrigued by the idea of my artwork being used as the foundation for high fashion clothing.  Naturally, I was flattered and excited to be invited to join a group of just 2000 artists worldwide in turning our work into high quality apparel like silk tops and accessories like modal scarves. However, when it comes to the Internet, I always like to do some careful research.  I read some really informative articles about VIDA, a Google-backed company that works with a selective group of artists from around the world, transforming their 2D artwork into luxury fashion and apparel products.  I saw some really positive media reviews on the Wall Street Journal, Women’s Wear Daily, TechCrunch, Fashionista, Fashion Times, and a few other magazines.

Vida founder Umaimah Mendhro told the magazine “Racked” that her goal at Vida is to “use technology in a way that would bridge the gap between designers, producers, and shoppers.  We believe there’s an overwhelming amount of choice. You want to go to a place where every single piece will be beautiful and fit your aesthetic.”

Racked “reports that in order to “create that aesthetic,” Vida collaborates with artists, painters, photographers, and designers from around the world to create unique and beautiful modal scarves, silk sleeveless tops, and silk tees. Art work is loaded to a digital file, and Vida’s partner-factories digitally print the images onto fabric to fulfill orders

What got me really enthusiastic, however, was the chance to really do some good in the world with a socially-conscious company–at the same time as my designs were made into apparel which people could wear with style, grace and pride.  As I noted above, one of the best aspects of the program is that for every VIDA product sold, VIDA offers literacy programs–in reading, writing, and math–for the actual makers of the products, starting with the VIDA factories in Karachi, Pakistan.

And so, over the last couple of days, I have searched though the nearly 100,000 photos residing on my computer in order to find some that I thought would look best on beautiful scarves and lovely silk tops.  Now to be honest, my wife Anne, gave me some much needed advice, though my wife and daughter always tell me that I have a real knack for picking out beautiful clothes as gifts.  There are now four products up on the site, and if I sell at least three pre-orders of any item, VIDA will make the products.

The great news, at the time of writing this post, is one of my designs has already gone into production- the “Columbines in the Wild” design, based on a photograph which I captured of columbines on a path leading to the Quabbin Reservoir.

There’s still time to purchase one of my first four designs. As mentioned, the “Columbines in the Wild” scarf is definitely going to be produced. With the other 3 designs, there is a time period of seven days to pre-order. I have to make a minimum of 3 pre-orders of each design for it to go into production.

I’m really thrilled to offer this brand new collection to you! Please pop on over to my Mitchell R. Grosky ShopVida website to view the collection.  As an incentive for new customers, Vida is offering 20 percent off your first order when you sign up.  and use the coupon code VOICES to get 25% off (that’s just $30 for each scarf).  As an added incentive VIDA ships absolutely FREE if you buy any TWO items or if you spend a total of $75 dollars.  That makes these modal scarves and silk tops incredibly reasonable!   Remember, pre-orders are only available for another 7 days.

Here are the images I chose.

Columbines in the Wild — Modal Scarf

1-Columbine Paint Full size

The beauty of wildflowers bordering the Quabbin Reservoir is the inspiration for this light and luxurious scarf.   Featuring the photography and digital painting of Mitchell R. Grosky, this lovely scarf adds the perfect finishing touch to your wardrobe– glorious columbines lighting up this path leading to the Quabbin Reservoir in Central Massachusetts.

Columbine Model

This scarf is made out of 100% Micro­Modal® by Lenz­ing, a lux­u­ri­ously soft botanic silk fab­ric made out of Euro­pean beech­wood. Because of modal’s botanic ori­gin, it is par­tic­u­larly eco-friendly and its fine­ness is com­pa­ra­ble to that of nat­ural silk. Micro­Modal® offers a soft, beau­ti­ful sheen, with col­ors that are bright and vibrant.

The com­pletely nat­ural fiber of this scarf is made in a fully inte­grated facil­ity in Aus­tria, opti­mized for pro­duc­tion syn­er­gies and energy con­ser­va­tion by using eco-friendly pro­duc­tion processes. The fab­ric is woven in a small fac­tory in Pak­istan. VIDA col­lab­o­rates with the owner and work­ers of this fac­tory to pro­duce the per­fect thread-count and weave for opti­mal soft­ness and sheen.

AND …these scarves are huge! They are more like shawls. Because of the hand­made process, they range in size from 24.5” – 25”  x 76” –77.

Each piece is uniquely designed and custom-printed, and may vary slightly upon receipt. If pre-order goal(s) are met, item(s) will be shipped 30-60 days after the pre-order window closes, which may vary by product.  Your credit card will be refunded the full amount for any product(s) that do not meet the pre-order goal.

Nubble Light Seascape — Modal Scarf

One of America’s most-beloved lighthouses is the inspiration for this beautiful scarf.   Featuring the photography of Mitchell R. Grosky, the scarf depicts waves crashing powerfully on craggy rocks just in front of York, Maine’s Nubble Light.   Made with soft, luxurious fabric, this scarf will add a bold, modern statement to any wardrobe.

1-Nubble Light final saturated

This scarf is made out of 100% Micro­Modal® by Lenz­ing, a lux­u­ri­ously soft botanic silk fab­ric made out of Euro­pean beech­wood. Because of modal’s botanic ori­gin, it is par­tic­u­larly eco-friendly and its fine­ness is com­pa­ra­ble to that of nat­ural silk. Micro­Modal® offers a soft, beau­ti­ful sheen, with col­ors that are bright and vibrant.

Nubble Model

The com­pletely nat­ural fiber of this scarf is made in a fully inte­grated facil­ity in Aus­tria, opti­mized for pro­duc­tion syn­er­gies and energy con­ser­va­tion by using eco-friendly pro­duc­tion processes. The fab­ric is woven in a small fac­tory in Pak­istan. VIDA col­lab­o­rates with the owner and work­ers of this fac­tory to pro­duce the per­fect thread-count and weave for opti­mal soft­ness and sheen.

AND …these scarves are huge! They are more like shawls. Because of the hand­made process, they range in size from 24.5” – 25”  x 76” –77.

Each piece is uniquely designed and custom-printed, and may vary slightly upon receipt. If pre-order goal(s) are met, item(s) will be shipped 30-60 days after the pre-order window closes, which may vary by product.  Your credit card will be refunded the full amount for any product(s) that do not meet the pre-order goal.

Boston Harbor — Sleeveless Silk Top

The magnificent, picturesque Boston Seaport is the inspiration for this lovely silk top.

2-Boston Harbor Canvas 16x20 paint

Cut with a flattering A-line and a rounded asymmetric hem, this silk top features the photography and digital painting of Mitchell R. Grosky.  It strikingly showcases the natural beauty of the Boston Seaport along with the magnificence of the Boston skyline, and will make you look and feel effortlessly beautiful – day or night.

Boston Harbor Model

Each piece is uniquely designed and custom-printed, and may vary slightly upon receipt. If pre-order goal(s) are met, item(s) will be shipped 30-60 days after the pre-order window closes, which may vary by product.  Your credit card will be refunded the full amount for any product(s) that do not meet the pre-order goal.

Siz­ing Chart for the silk tops are as fol­lows.
Note: tops fit true to size but a drapey cut — please size down if you pre­fer a snug fit.
Point of Mea­sure­ments
Small: Bust — 32″, Hips “38” (US Size 0–2)
Medium: Bust — 34″, Hips “39” (US Size 4–6)
Large: Bust — 38″, Hips 40″ (US Size 8–10)

 

Kansas Sunflowers — Modal Scarf

The vibrant beauty of sunflowers is the inspiration for this beautiful, luxurious scarf.  Featuring the paintography of Mitchell R. Grosky, this lovely scarf depicts the bright, vivid colors of a field of Kansas sunflowers,  and would be a delightful accessory for any wardrobe.

1-e Flowers Paint

This scarf is made out of 100% Micro­Modal® by Lenz­ing, a lux­u­ri­ously soft botanic silk fab­ric made out of Euro­pean beech­wood. Because of modal’s botanic ori­gin, it is par­tic­u­larly eco-friendly and its fine­ness is com­pa­ra­ble to that of nat­ural silk. Micro­Modal® offers a soft, beau­ti­ful sheen, with col­ors that are bright and vibrant.

Sunflower Model

The com­pletely nat­ural fiber of this scarf is made in a fully inte­grated facil­ity in Aus­tria, opti­mized for pro­duc­tion syn­er­gies and energy con­ser­va­tion by using eco-friendly pro­duc­tion processes. The fab­ric is woven in a small fac­tory in Pak­istan. VIDA col­lab­o­rates with the owner and work­ers of this fac­tory to pro­duce the per­fect thread-count and weave for opti­mal soft­ness and sheen.

AND …these scarves are huge! They are more like shawls. Because of the hand­made process, they range in size from 24.5” – 25”  x 76” –77.

Each piece is uniquely designed and custom-printed, and may vary slightly upon receipt. If pre-order goal(s) are met, item(s) will be shipped 30-60 days after the pre-order window closes, which may vary by product.  Your credit card will be refunded the full amount for any product(s) that do not meet the pre-order goal.

It is a privilege for me to introduce this lovely collection to you.  Simply CLICK HERE to buy any one (or more!) of these scarves and lucious silk shirts, and don’t for­get to include coupon code VOICES to get 25% off (that’s just $30 for each of these lovely scarves–and $56.25 for a beautiful silk top!  Please help me to spread the word by shar­ing this post with your friends and fam­ily through social media or in per­son.

I really feel that these high fashion scarves and tops would make an absolutely gorgeous gift for a special person in your life. And when was the last time you bought something gorgeous just for yourself?  You know you deserve it!  Remember, the pre-order period expires just one week from today! Please check out my new Vida Voices fashion line at shopvida.com

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