Government Health Politics

More of Ourselves in the Time of Corona

Screen Shot 2020-04-17 at 7.44.13 AMWe are so disquieted, my fellow Americans and I. Even if we don’t realize it, we are uncomfortable. Some say, “I’m fine,” but they are baking like they’re a corner bakery, or they aren’t sleeping well, or they’re arguing with friends and family. One friend said to me, “I am not having any issues at all,” but she “for some reason” can no longer sleep through the night. Then there are others who have retreated further inside themselves, totally focused on how this all affects them and believing that it is a bigger hardship for them than for others. So, if you were self-focused before, you now think this is all about you. If you have always been more nurturing of others, you may now be consumed with making or distributing masks or calling people to make sure they are OK. Whatever you were before, you are more of that now.

As for me, I’m very happy at home — just me and my dog, Bayley. The other day, I was returning from a walk on the beach by myself and realized how excited I was to get home. Of course, I then worried that my desire to arrive back at my home wasn’t healthy. Why wasn’t I yearning to get dinner with friends? Or go to a movie theater by myself, which I love to do? Am I on my way to becoming a recluse like my aunt was, or my older sister, who, in the end, passed away from self-neglect? What is there in my DNA that makes this moment in time so comfortable for me?

I don’t really feel disconnected. I feel connected through social media and Zoom (Zoom has become a verb, just as Xerox did in the ’80s; how did that happen so fast?). I have weeded out some people who when their true natures became magnified allowed me to see how unhappy I felt when dealing with them. And others to whom I was less connected have become more day-to-day companions, whom I cherish so much more deeply. Is it possible this reboot has made my life better in the long run? I think it might be so.

Don’t get me wrong; there are some people I long to see — truly yearn to see — but I know that they will be there on the other side of this pandemic. I can’t wait for the moment when we can hug and just take in the sight of one another. Yes, I have those to whom I will run, not walk, toward when all this lifts. But for right now, at this moment in history, when I have to really focus on what is happening in my beloved country, I remind myself that every minute matters – and is a gift that might not keep giving – and I need to spend them on productive endeavors to help create a better future for all who are in my sphere of influence. Or at least that is my daily intention.

Photo by Lucia Buricelli

Books Government History Politics

Anne Frank and The CaronaVirus

lebo-room3-06012017-e1496928208671-1024x640When my daughter, about whom I am not allowed to blog, was in the eighth grade, she played Anne Frank at the Nightingale-Bamford School. Her father and I, already divorced for years, went together to opening night. I knew it would be especially poignant for him. He’d escaped the Nazis in Paris during the start of WWII. I wished his mother, who was a mentor of mine and a strong woman who lived in a time that didn’t nurture that, could have been there.

We were mesmerized. I had never seen the play but had devoured the book. At the end, all the lights went out, and our daughter’s voice penetrated the darkness with the following lines:

“It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams, and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals; they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”

He wept openly, and I sobbed. It became a memory from our parenthood that didn’t fade with time.

A friend of mine was recently complaining about having to stay inside and going stir crazy as a result. I texted her, “I have two words: Anne Frank.” I didn’t hear from her again for a while.

Sure, this is like Anne Frank’s situation. Only not.

If Anne Frank were to be found by the Nazi “virus,” it was certain curtains — not just 2% certain.

Anne Frank had no communication with anyone other than the people who were smothering her space, and she wasn’t all that fond of most of them. Eight people. Two years. Try to imagine that.

Anne Frank couldn’t move from six o’clock in the morning until six o’clock at night — every day for two years. No earbuds. No TV. Just a few books and her thoughts, which still move me. I am grateful she wrote them down.

Anne Frank couldn’t flush the toilet. Ever.

Anne Frank didn’t have enough to eat, let alone 642 rolls of toilet paper stashed away in the basement.

Anne Frank wrote a few hundred pages in her journal. Very few of them contained complaints. And when she did complain, she expressed regret for doing so.

Here is the 411: We have to stay inside to save others’ lives, not just our own. When you break the rules because you just can’t stand it anymore, the chance that you will need to be taken care of by the health-care workers rises exponentially. Anne spent much of her time worrying about Miep Gies, the woman who was risking her life to keep Anne and her family alive. We have Mieps. The doctors and hospital workers and store workers. We need to do right by them now.

Here are some of Anne’s quotes that move me on this sunny morning in the Hamptons where I am safe and able to walk outside and see the budding spring:

“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!”

“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”

“Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.” 

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

“I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death!”

Thank you Anne Frank. We will do better.

Politics Women

Harvey Weinstein: Accomplices and Accessories

9BF30C04-9BC5-460C-9661-1A339F2164C3-7018-000004ECB368A550I realize that we should take a moment to pause and recognize that twenty years ago, Harvey Weinstein would not have been given a sentence of 23 years — no way, no how. We can do that, sit and marvel at the new world of appreciation for what countless women must have gone through, more women than we will ever know. And I want to do that. I want to think about the fact that he, a man who clearly, based on his statement in court, still doesn’t get what he did or how very evil it (and he) was (and is). My mind, however, wanders to something I think is much larger than Harvey: the evil titular head of the pyramid scheme he had of preying on women and taking their souls, not their money, like Maddoff, but their joy and their future and their sense of well-being — which, in my mind, is worth more than all the gold in the land anyway.

If you know someone is planning a murder, and they go through with it, you go on trial too. It’s called being an accomplice. The word accomplice has a short, simple definition per Merriam-Webster: Accomplice: noun, “one associated with another, especially in wrongdoing.” Cornell Law School defines what the courts look at around accomplices and their liability: “A person who knowingly, voluntarily, or intentionally gives assistance to another in (or in some cases, fails to prevent another from) the commission of a crime. An accomplice is criminally liable to the same extent as the principal. An accomplice, unlike an accessory, is typically present when the crime is committed.”

If they were not accomplices, were they accessories? The definition of accessory per Cornell Law School is as follows: “Someone aiding in or contributing to the commission or concealment of a felony, e.g., by assisting in planning or encouraging another to commit a crime (an accessory before the fact) or by helping another escape arrest or punishment (an accessory after the fact).”

So, since Weinstein was found guilty, I think there are others who need to be arrested, others who helped him carry out his crime wave of tearing apart the fiber of my gender sisters. 

Let’s take a look.

There are the male and female assistants who knew exactly what happened when they told people Harvey wanted to meet with them about a film. They led the women to the slaughter and shut the door after letting them in. They knew. They admit that they knew. They were accomplices.

There is the board, and particularly Harvey’s brother, Bob, who knew that they were paying out millions of dollars to cover up and intimate those who he preyed upon. They knew. They OK’d the money, and they looked the other way. They were accomplices/accessories. 

There was also the PR/investigative companies he used to gather dirt on those women who he betrayed and attacked, and they knew why they were doing what they were doing. They were accomplices/accessories. 

If we are to truly change the culture we have fed for generations, we must hold the accomplices/accessories accountable for their actions. They all took action to aid and abet Harvey. (I have a feeling no one will be naming their son Harvey for a while. Note to self: Check and see how many Harveys enter the world over the coming decade.) They need to be charged. 

A man was put to death last week for being present when his fellow robber shot a police officer. He didn’t pull the trigger; he was just there, present, when it happened. If he received the punishment of death for his complicity in the event, it seems to me that those who helped Harvey do this heinous thing over and over and over again for decades should also be held accountable. 

So, sisters and fellow citizens, the job is not done. The push is now on. 

Government History Politics Women

Margaret Chase Smith: Saving the Republic from the Senate Floor

Margaret Chase Smith. You might never have heard her name, but it’s certainly not because she doesn’t deserve to have you do so. She was the first woman voted in as a senator who wasn’t an appointment or a widow filling her husband’s seat. But it’s not that for which we should resurrect her now. It’s because she was a Republican from Maine. Republicans from Maine are known to be individualistic in their approach to all things — or, at least, they were until Susan Collins began to furrow her brow with concern and then do exactly as she is told by Trump and his enablers.
It was June 1, 1950, and Margaret was a freshman senator. She kept waiting for those who were more senior than she to stand up to Senator McCarthy, and when they didn’t, she decided she needed to do so herself. She titled her speech “Declaration of Conscience.” She presented it on the Senate floor, and it was signed by six other Republican senators.

Following is the Senate website’s description of what happened:

Four months earlier, McCarthy had rocketed to national attention. In a well-publicized speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, he claimed to possess the names of 205 card-carrying communists in the State Department. Smith, like many of her colleagues, shared McCarthy’s concerns about communist subversion, but she grew skeptical when he repeatedly ignored her requests for evidence to back-up his accusations. “It was then,” she recalled, “that I began to wonder about the validity… and fairness of Joseph McCarthy’s charges.”

At first, Smith hesitated to speak. “I was a freshman Senator,” she explained, “and in those days, freshman Senators were to be seen and not heard.” She hoped a senior member would take the lead. “This great psychological fear…spread to the Senate,” she noted, “where a considerable amount of mental paralysis and muteness set in for fear of offending McCarthy.” As the weeks passed, Smith grew increasingly angry with McCarthy’s attacks and his defamation of individuals she considered above suspicion. Bowing to Senate rules on comity, Smith chose not to attack McCarthy, but to denounce the tactics that were becoming known as “McCarthyism.”

“Mr. President,” she began, “I would like to speak briefly and simply about a serious national condition…. The United States Senate has long enjoyed worldwide respect as the greatest deliberative body…. But recently that deliberative character has…been debased to…a forum of hate and character assassination.” In her 15-minute address, delivered as McCarthy looked on, Smith endorsed every American’s right to criticize, to protest, and to hold unpopular beliefs. “Freedom of speech is not what it used to be in America,” she complained. “It has been so abused by some that it is not exercised by others.” She asked her fellow Republicans not to ride to political victory on the “Four Horsemen of Calumny–Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.” As she concluded, Smith introduced a statement signed by herself and six other Republican senators–her “Declaration of Conscience.”

I am so proud to be a woman these days. So proud. And, I ask now, what woman Republican will present her own declaration of conscience in the coming days? Which of you will set aside your personal job security to do the right thing? Will it be you, Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee? You, Susan Collins from Maine? You, Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia? Joni Ernst from Iowa, how about you? Deb Fischer from my alma mater, Nebraska? Cindy Hyde-Smith from Mississippi? Martha McSally from Arizona (unlikely)? Or Lisa Murkowski (I’m betting on you, girlfriend)? Who among you will join Margaret Chase Smith — who helped save the republic from sure ruin 70 years ago — as a woman for the ages? It’s a generation later, and it’s on you.

Here is a video of a young lady presenting Margaret’s speech. Take the two minutes to watch it. It will ring so very true for this moment in time.

Business Financial Government Politics

White Men Over 50: Not So Much

trumpdonald_bill_signing_021417gettyI jokingly tell my friends that I am not a fan of white men over the age of 50. When I say this to a white man over 50, I sometimes add the caveat, “except for you, of course.” But that’s sometimes, not always. I hate this new piece of me that is filled with rage when I observe a sea of white men over the age of 50 standing behind Donald Trump’s desk while he signs something or other that will take away my personal rights or speed up the already-out-of-control issues around global warming, or as he just sits there holding up his megalomaniacal large, scary signature on a document that 9 out of 10 times is in the interest of no one other than his rich, white, male friends over the age of 50.

But it’s not just him.

There’s Mitch McConnell. There’s Lindsey Graham. There’s the huge number of white, male, age 50-plus GOP lawmakers in Washington. What do the women in your life say when you come home at night? I wonder as I watch them make statements they know are lies and vote in the interest of one man who never has our country’s best interest at heart. I wonder what I would say if one of them was my brother, husband, or father. I write letters to them in my head at night, at 2 in the morning, when I’m terrified and hoping that this is all a nightmare from which I will awaken next November.

Let’s look at others outside of government, but interestingly enough, in business — as in the business of billionaires. Dennis Muilenburg was just fired from Boeing after a career of thirty years building an airplane he knew was unsafe and which killed hundreds of humans. He created a toxic culture for the safety of millions of fliers, and that’s to say nothing of the culture of deceit, distain for others, and lies for which he’s also responsible. This man will walk away with $62 million … but “none of his salary or bonus for the last year.” You can’t make this up. The man belongs in jail, as did Roger Ailes, who also walked away with tens of millions of dollars, while some of the women who came forward were fired and haven’t worked since.

Look, I’m not saying my gender is flawless — not by any means. I think Sheryl Sandberg is close to belonging in jail and certainly responsible for the attacks on George Soros and others who threatened the undeserved sanctity of Facebook. I take it back; she definitely belongs in jail. But by sheer numbers, there is an inordinate number of white men over the age of 50 who are ruining so much more than our planet. They are ruining the soul of our country. So while I will try my hardest not to toss them all into one group, and instead, look at them individually … in the dead of night, at 2 in the morning, 99% of them will continue to appear white, male, and over 50.

Government Politics

No Cause for Celebration: Nixon & Trump

166995-ajhbascasdI went to dinner tonight with some politically like-minded friends who have bemoaned the state of the union with me these past few years as we have watched our country’s divide grow larger than the Rio Grande and some of our family, friends, and neighbors become strangers to us.

One woman told me at dinner that she wept this morning when she saw the news. It wasn’t because she was happy about what might be the turning point in what kind of person America is willing to accept as our leader and commander in chief, but because this is an extremely dark moment in history, and there is no celebration for her in any of it.

I should mention that she is a generation younger than me; I am sixty-six, and she just turned fifty.

I have been thinking a lot lately about August 8, 1974, when Richard Nixon stood before the nation and with shame and awkward prose, resigned in disgrace. I have been contemplating it a lot. I was a sophomore at the University of Nebraska, and I had worked the summer before on the Nixon campaign. I celebrated his win and the first vote I’d ever cast in a presidential election.

That summer of 1974, I was working at a resort in the Catskills called Crystal Lake Lodge. Think “Dirty Dancing,” and you will be there. There was even a dance competition each week, and another server and I did the Lindy as people cheered. These people were liberal Jews from New York City, who had held rallies at Crystal Lake Lodge for the Rosenbergs twenty years earlier in the very hall where the television was set up for us all to watch Nixon walk away from office with his tail between his legs.

The entire group of hotel patrons, owners, and restaurant servers cheered after every sentence while I sobbed quietly in the back. I viewed my country with reverence, with such respect and awe that it was inconceivable to me that this moment had come — that a president of the United States would resign or go to jail. I was devastated. I remember that night like it was yesterday. I still mourn the loss of my glorious red, white, and blue bubble within which I’d happily lived out all my days leading up to that one: The joy I’d felt of driving around town with three girlfriends in my Cougar XR7 with the top down when the United States landed on the moon, feeling like there were no boundaries our great nation couldn’t break. The elation I’d felt that I was alive to see Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tell all that he had been to the mountaintop and that he could see our future. The satisfaction I’d felt that fellow students rode buses and got beaten up because white is not always right. God, I was proud until that moment. The way I felt before August 8, 1974, was never the same after that day.

Tonight I joined my amazingly brilliant and astute friends in recognizing that nothing that happens over the coming months — even if we get what we want, and this mockery of a president resigns — is cause for celebration. We have lost so much:

  • Lifelong servants to government have been abused or sold their souls after decades of perfect attendance in doing what is right for the good of our country.
  • Hatred between friends has grown. I have lost a number of friends, none of whom I feel I ever knew — some because of the almighty dollar and some because they don’t really believe that all men are created equal. I hadn’t seen that those were their beliefs … or I hadn’t wanted to see it.
  • My government and my fellow Americans have treated families as poorly as slaves were treated hundreds of years ago.
  • Catastrophic climate damage has gone unchecked because my fellow Americans care more about their money than their grandchildren’s future.

So even if this is the tipping point when 45% of my fellow citizens decide they have had enough, and the numbers finally change, we have not gained anything. We have lost so much that will possibly never be recovered.

That said, I hope that tonight our president will sleep as poorly as I have for the last three years, and that he’ll do so again every night until he is finally out of office. God bless America.

News Politics Women

Felicity Huffman Gets 14 Days. Justice or Entitlement?

190913140254-02-felicity-huffman-court-arrival-0913-large-169Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison and ordered to pay a $30,000 fine.

Here is the thing. Part of the divide in this country is the belief by the average American that the accountability for entitled behavior by the privileged rich doesn’t at all correspond to the accountability they have to contend with when they break the law. That money renders people immune to punishment.

This reaction signifies the growing anger between the haves and the have-nots.

Does Huffman truly understand and accept responsibility for what she did? If so, she should have mentioned those students who deserved the place her daughter was awarded through her bribery. Huffman’s actions took away the path to a better life from someone who deserved it and worked hard to earn it. In my opinion, her letter (shown below), is an extension of the idea that her lame reason for doing what she did is “understandable.”

On the other hand, if I seek to understand rather than be understood, to give her a year in prison for what is not really a danger to anyone would be a message to the rich, rather than just a sentence.

Let’s try to remember that her career is over. And wherever she goes for the rest of her life, because of her celebrity, everyone will be reminded of her lack of moral fiber and her belief that the ends justify the means, which they don’t.

So, as with many things, it’s more complicated than a simple “She got away with murder” or “The government has wasted way too many resources on this.”

Here is Huffman’s letter to the judge in full:

Dear Judge Talwani,

Thank you for the opportunity of writing this letter to you. Although I know I will have the chance to address you at my sentencing, I would like to offer you a broader perspective and insight into who I am as a person and a parent.

But first let me say, I am concerned that in giving you context it will seem like I am offering you a justification. Please, let me be very clear; I know there is no justification for what I have done. Yes, there is a bigger picture, but ultimately it doesn’t matter because I could have said “No” to cheating on the SAT scores. I unequivocally take complete responsibility for my actions and will respectfully accept whatever punishment the court deems appropriate.

‘I keep asking myself, why did I do this?Why did I say yes to a scheme of breaking the law and compromising my integrity? What interior forces drove me to do it?’

I keep asking myself, why did I do this? Why did I say yes to a scheme of breaking the law and compromising my integrity? What interior forces drove me to do it? How could I abandon my own moral compass and common sense? Those questions require a somewhat longer answer which involve both factual and personal responses. I will attempt to give you an insight into both.

The factual story is that I didn’t go shopping for a college counselor to find out how to rig a SAT score. I didn’t even know such a scheme existed. I hired a counselor for guidance and expertise on how to apply to colleges as successfully as possible for my daughter, Sophia.

I have been seeking advice, asking doctors, and trusting experts to help me with Sophia since she was 4 years old when it became clear to me that she struggled with everyday activities. At this age, she couldn’t even walk across a lawn in bare feet without flipping out. Tags in her shirt would cause a 20-minute meltdown. She didn’t know how to physically play with other kids, and most often she couldn’t sleep. Her nursery school recommended Occupational Therapy. As Sophia began to work with the therapists, I came to understand that she had Sensory Modulation Issues. At the time, I had no idea what that was, but basically, she would under or over respond to the outside world and couldn’t regulate herself. When she was eight years old, her school recommended she get tested by a neuropsychologist. She was diagnosed with learning disabilities, and she has been retested every three years as was recommended. I am grateful to this day for all the advice, help and expertise that we were fortunate to get, but these things did become a big part of my parenting and, regrettably, I came to rely on them too much. They came to outweigh my maternal instincts and eventually, in point of fact, my moral compass.

‘My own fears and lack of confidence, combined with a daughter who has learning disabilities often made me insecure and feel highly anxious from the beginning.’

In High School my daughter went to a public school for the performing arts. At this school, which remains very underfunded, there is one college counselor for 300 students. many mothers, whose children had graduated, warned me not to leave the college process in the hands of the administration as they were overworked and understaffed. They advised me that a private college counselor was a vital necessity and we were fortunate to be able to afford one. Mr. Singer was recommended as one of the best experts in LA, and I was told I would be lucky if I could get him to sign on to help me with Sophia. I came to think this was particularly important given Sophia’s learning challenges.

I worked with Mr. Singer legitimately for a year. I also engaged him for my second daughter, Georgia, who also has serious learning disabilities, so she could benefit from his expertise. I was relieved that he seemed so good at his job, was so confident and knowledgeable. Sophia was passionate about majoring in theater, but over time, Mr. Singer told me that her test scores were too low and, if her math SAT scores didn’t rise dramatically, none of the colleges she was interested in would even consider her auditions.

I honestly didn’t and don’t care about my daughter going to a prestigious college. I just wanted to give her a shot at being considered for a program where her acting talent would be the deciding factor. This sounds hollow now, but, in my mind, I knew that her success or failure in theater or film wouldn’t depend on her math skills. I didn’t want my daughter to be prevented from getting a shot at auditioning and doing what she loves because she can’t do math.

‘I honestly didn’t and don’t care about my daughter going to a prestigious college. I just wanted to give her a shot at being considered for a program where her acting talent would be the deciding factor.’

After nearly a year of working with Mr. Singer and his tutors, he told me it wasn’t enough. Sophia’s math scores were not measuring up. We still had a serious problem and, according to him, he had the solution. He told me, “We will make sure she gets the scores she needs,” by having a proctor bump up her scores after she takes the test. Sophia would never know and then she could, “Concentrate on what really matters: her grades and her auditions.” He said he did it for many of his students.

I was shocked that such a thing existed and after he made the initial suggestion, it remained on the table. I couldn’t make up my mind for six weeks. I kept going back and forth while avoiding a final decision. I felt an urgency which built to a sense of panic that there was this huge obstacle in the way that needed to be fixed for my daughter’s sake. As warped as this sounds now, I honestly began to feel that maybe I would be a bad mother if I didn’t do what Mr. Singer was suggesting.

To my utter shame, I finally agreed to cheating on Sophia’s SAT scores, and also considered doing the same thing for Georgia. But the decision haunted me terribly; I knew it was not right. I finally came to my senses and told Mr. Singer to stop the process for Georgia.

Here is the personal side of my story. I find Motherhood bewildering. From the moment, my children were born I worried that they got me as a Mother. I so desperately wanted to do it right and was so deathly afraid of doing it wrong. My own fears and lack of confidence, combined with a daughter who has learning disabilities often made me insecure and feel highly anxious from the beginning. I was always searching for the right book or the right piece of advice that would help me help my daughters or keep me from making the mistakes that might damage their lives.

‘In my blind panic, I have done the exact thing that I was desperate to avoid. I have compromised my daughter’s future, the wholeness of my family and my own integrity.’

In my desperation to be a good mother I talked myself into believing that all I was doing was giving my daughter a fair shot. I see the irony in that statement now because what I have done is the opposite of fair. I have broken the law, deceived the educational community, betrayed my daughter, and failed my family. When my daughter looked at me and asked with tears streaming down her face, “Why didn’t you believe in me? Why didn’t you think I could do it on my own?” I had no adequate answer for her. I could only say, “I am sorry. I was frightened and I was stupid.” In my blind panic, I have done the exact thing that I was desperate to avoid. I have compromised my daughter’s future, the wholeness of my family and my own integrity.

I don’t write this letter to you in any way to justify my wrongdoing, my guilt or to avoid conscious acceptance of the consequences. I am writing you to shed light on how I finally got to the day when I said “Yes” to this scheme.

I have a deep and abiding shame over what I have done. Shame and regret that I will carry for the rest of my life. It is right that I should carry this burden and use it as fuel for change in my own life and hopefully it will be a cautionary tale for my daughters and the community.

As painful as this has been, I am truly grateful for the lessons I have learned and for the opportunity to change and live more honestly. I am now focusing on repairing my relationship with my daughter, my family and making amends to my community.

Thank you for reading my letter. I appreciate the opportunity to explain, but not excuse what happened.


Felicity Huffman

Government Politics

In Defense of Biden

CVK4Y4FUBYI6TD3MPAUONDFRL4I must start with full disclosure. Biden is not my first choice for the Democratic candidate for the presidency. I can’t really say why, actually. If I think about it without any personal prejudice, he might just be what our country needs. He is liked by many on both sides of the aisle. No one has a visceral negative response to him, unlike people have for many other candidates. So, when I think about it, he probably has the power to heal our divided nation.

But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about what happened last night.

What took place last night on the debate floor is that all those ridiculous candidates sold their ethics and their party down the river because the pundits said that is what they needed to do in order to to stand out. Pundits drive all behavior now, and they spent much of yesterday laying the groundwork for what they wanted: TV soundbites of everyone attacking Biden. Most candidates took the bait and made that their mission. They betrayed themselves and their party — and our country. Instead of coming across as candidates I want to lead our nation, they acted like praying mantises. After praying mantises mate, the woman bites off the head of her partner, killing him instantly. Biden has been good to everyone on that stage. He has supported them all along.

Since Biden did not return the “favor” last night, he’s now being called lackluster. I’ll take being called “lackluster” over selling out my party and trading in my soul for a soundbite on CNN that will be forgotten when the news cycle ends. Last night, those candidates who went after him were like the GOP going after good people just to get Trump’s approval, or I should say, to stay out of Trump’s destruction-driven Twitter feed.

Discourse like this is beneath us all. Last night’s debate was a disaster for those running, for the party, and for the country.

Joe Biden is a good guy — in many ways, a great guy — and he will always be uncomfortable in aggressively attacking people with whom he sits on the same side of the fence. At one point last night, he turned to someone who was angrily addressing him, and said, “Good to know, because you and I speak all the time.” What he was saying, in my opinion, was, “This is not how you and I speak; I’m saddened that you think it will help you and that you are willing to check our relationship at the door.” He also said, “That is malarkey!” Malarkey?! I’m surprised Google didn’t report that as a top keyword search last night. The younger generations haven’t heard that word before; even I haven’t heard it since my dad passed away a few years ago.

When his wife and small daughter were killed in a car accident years ago and his two small sons were in the hospital, Joe Biden resigned his newly gained senatorial seat. He explained that he had to give his sons all of his attention. The senators on both sides of the aisle replied that they would cover for him, but that he wasn’t going anywhere and that he should come back when he could. Joe Biden values family and work. He hails from a labor union home, where his dad taught him about country and loyalty. He is the best of Americans. Yes, Biden does invade people’s personal space; I have felt it. BUT, he does so in the way an overexcited puppy does, not in a sexually predatorial way; at least, that is my opinion. He means no harm, and intention does matter.

Whoever stands up and starts talking about the difference between his/her ideas and those of the others, stressing that we all want the same thing: “a great America for all who call her home,” and does so with a cool, kind, compelling, “I would like to date that person” presence will seize the day, in my opinion.

Here are some soundbites that would have brought them all to higher ground:

“I simply will not put down the other candidates here. I will tell you, as I tell them across the table when we are together, why I like my idea better. So, let me tell you my plan for health care.”

“I will not speak about Donald Trump. If I am chosen to go up against him next fall, I can promise you, I have much I would like to say to him. But right now, it’s about showing you who I am and what I stand for, and how I can serve you. He is not worth my time right now.”

“Donald Trump? Seriously? I believe the American people have seen through him; they don’t need me to tell them why. They need me to show them who I am and what I will do and how I will represent them. That’s what I’m here to do tonight.”

“I watch ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ and the phrase ‘under his eye’ haunts me. Under the eye of those in power now, we are putting people in cages. People are dying because they can’t pay for health care. People are not reaping the benefits of what we keep being told is the best economy in the history of the universe. ‘Under his eye’ has new meaning in today’s world. Enough said.”

“Gun control is not what it’s about. It’s about not needing to have an instrument that shoots off more than 50 bullets a second. It’s about degree. It’s always about degree, and there is always a middle ground that is palatable to all. I do not believe that anyone who supports the NRA likes the headlines in today’s shooting-every-single-day world.”

It’s not about attacking Biden. It’s not about attacking Trump. And that strategy, in my opinion, will not beat Trump. Besides, it’s beneath all of you. Stop it.

Government Politics

There are No Tanks in American Parades Mr. President

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Mr. President. Just as there is no crying in baseball, there are no tanks in American parades.

For the last twelve years, I’ve blogged about the Fourth of July and our celebration of our rich American history (although I do recognize it’s richer for some more than others, especially lately), and I have done so with pride and excitement. Last year, I reminisced about 1976 and my weekend celebration with the great love of my life as we watched the tall ships travel up the Hudson River, enjoyed fifteen minutes of fabulous fireworks to “Stars and Stripes Forever” by the United States Navy Band, celebrated with all the foods from our diverse culture, and gazed up at the majestic Statue of Liberty, whose message of taking in the tired and poor has always made me so damn proud I could burst. We Americans love parades. The New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is the largest parade in the world, and has taken place every single year since 1792—and, get this: It doesn’t have one car, or truck, or … wait for it … TANK.

There are no tanks, Mr. President, in American parades. Nope, not a one. Not now, not ever, and the fact that you are creating a dictator-type spectacle with your family in tow on the day I try so very hard to remember what my country stands for has broken my heart into a million pieces.

Screen Shot 2019-07-02 at 8.17.35 PMThere were tanks in Tiananmen Square. Remember that? Four massive tanks and one lone man who stood in front of the tank, stopping it from moving. Who will stand in front of your tanks, Mr. President, on Constitution Avenue? I pray someone will.

There were tanks in Patton’s army that sped through ice and snow to fight a tyrant who has been compared to you more than once. And, even at the end of World War II, we didn’t have tanks traveling down 5th Avenue, celebrating our win. That’s not what we do. Our military might has never been displayed, never celebrated, because we are not a country that shows off our strength—or, at least, we weren’t until now. We are a giving country that welcomes those without the resources we have and celebrates the plethora of countries that have made our citizens a melting pot of great humans.

Remember when President George W. Bush landed the fighter plane on the deck of an aircraft carrier to celebrate his “mission accomplished”? I think we can all agree that was something we could have done without. The image festered for years. We do not show off our military might. Ever.

We all know you can’t help yourself, but please do not do this. Your fragile, swollen ego wants to feel bigger than your actions can allow it to be.

But we do not have to participate. We do not have to watch it on TV. Instead, we can take to Twitter and Facebook, and email all the networks, asking that they not televise the footage. We can watch Wimbledon, or the Boston Pops and their fifteen-minute fireworks show. You know, a full half hour of fireworks diminishes the intended effect of those fireworks. Sometimes, Mr. President, more is just more—not better. This is one of those times.

 Please do not give this horrendous spectacle a moment of your time. I certainly won’t.


Government Politics

Watergate & Mueller Report is Not the Same

Screen Shot 2019-05-05 at 5.58.11 PMI have a really smart person in my life to whom I speak daily about everything, including a lot of politics. He’s a Pollyanna in pants. I keep jumping up and down and screaming into the bushes that the republic is falling and isn’t it awful, and he keeps telling me to wait it out. He says that just like with Watergate, the exposure of each layer of yet another felony will whittle away at the road we are on, and Trump will go down the way Nixon did.

He’s smart, Mr. Pollyanna in Pants. He does his homework. He had me reading about Magruder’s testimony about the “slippage” of his moral fiber, and that of those around him, when Nixon was Trump-like in his demand for actions that were this side of the prison door shutting behind him. (Remember, Magruder did time.) With each “slip,” he went deeper into the hole of darkness that surrounds one when leaving behind everything he or she used to stand for in order to stand next to a crazy man. I am sure Comey read it before he penned his fabulous editorial about how this came to be.

Then this week, a new CNN poll came out that says that Trump has a 41% approval rating, higher than Obama at this time in his presidency.

So here is where I am: I am not now, nor have I ever been worried in a long-term sense about D.T. He will expire, one way or another, like the cans on my shelves. I am worried that the difference between Watergate and now is that with every Watergate discovery, the members of the public all came from the same sense of right and wrong, and that is why Nixon fell. This is not that. More and more Americans have found themselves in slippage mode, giving up what they would have said was their moral fiber to join the practice of ignoring what is inevitably right and wrong, and feeding the anger inside about that which will serve them better. 41% of the country’s citizens hold the values (or should I say, lack of values) that Trump spews like vitriolic acid.

The country rose up during Watergate — against it. The country now is doing the opposite; they are joining together in support of the president.

I have someone who is sort of related whom I don’t know that well. She is a Christian, or, at least, presents herself that way. She has a baby girl and a toddler. They go to church. She sells Tupperware. Her father is here from Romania. (I’m not sure about his visa, but it would be interesting to see how she would respond if Trump decided the people from Easter Europe shouldn’t get a free ride here either.) She loves her roots and shares them as part of who she is. She is anti-abortion (which I understand totally; it’s in line with her presentation of herself). She posts around these issues and about her fabulous family. She never posts about the immigrants that have been abused by our country or the outrageous anti-Christian actions that our country is committing over and over again. I know she will teach her children not to lie, but she never calls out the lies that permeate the actions of our government. We had one political discussion and she said she had read the book about Hillary Clinton (which is filled with factual inaccuracies). I told her it wasn’t factual and asked her if she would like me to send her some information that would better inform her. She replied, “No.” And it was a firm no. So, this woman who is raising her family with honorable ‘Christian’ values is a Trump supporter — which is against those values. She is the one I’m worried about. Does she ever look in the mirror and call herself out on her inconsistency?

Did 41% of Americans support Nixon after Watergate was exposed? No way. The entire House and Senate turned on him. Ours have not.

So, my fear is not about who is in power. My fear is about who my neighbor is.