Independence Day, 2017

Happy 241st Birthday, America!  This post has gestated since 1/21.  July 4th, the day Americans celebrate independence from rule except by a “government of the people, for the people, and by the people,” to quote Abraham Lincoln, was the day to start writing.

Dear Congress and Senate:

January 21st, I drove to Seneca Falls, NY, to attend the #WomensMarch. Seneca Falls is a small town – it was the setting for Bedford Falls in the movie ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ – and is the home of the National Women’s Hall of Fame.  I wanted to march in Washington, DC, but the birthplace of women’s rights held its own allure. Meditated on my reasons for going while driving:

  • Women’s rights, obviously.  Also, in alpha order:
  • #BlackLivesMatter
  • Climate Change / the environment
  • Gay Rights
  • Healthcare
  • Immigration Reform
  • Racial and religious tolerance

9,000 people descended on the small upstate NY town and its quaint streets lined with protesters.  After introductory remarks, the march began. We walked a while and then stopped at a church, where a surprising 39 speakers & performers were scheduled to speak, so I stayed to listen.

There were clergy, mayors, teachers, union reps, attorneys, Planned Parenthood, college professors, musicians, Black Lives Matter, environmental, and LGBTQ activists. Everyone expressed extreme concern about Mr. Trump’s intentions for already established rights. Listening, I silently screamed, “WHY, GOD?  Why have women, and blacks, and gays, and so many races been fighting for equality SO LONG? Centuries! WHY??

When the 1998 C-SPAN video of Hillary Clinton, then FLOTUS, speaking at the 150th anniversary celebration of Women’s Rights (in the same place I was standing) started, tears ran down my cheeks and wouldn’t stop.

Each speaker impressed me with their conviction and courage.  The minister who pleaded, “But, PLEASE, sisters, don’t lose heart,” made me instantly realize why I was there: I had lost heart. All of these people standing up for America’s freedoms completely uplifted me. I drafted a Kumbaya post in my head while driving home, but the ending eluded me trying to determine Donald Trump’s motivations.

Chaos

Six days after the Women’s March, seven after Inauguration Day, Mr. Trump ordered a Travel Ban, commonly referred to as the Muslim Ban, prompting country-wide protests. Every day thereafter was one shocking announcement or action after another.  Mashable wrote an articleFebruary 1st – on how to cope.  To focus on work, I’d already turned off notifications after one week.

Highlight of key Executive Orders / Memos / legislation signed by Mr. Trump since 1/20:

  • Presidential Memorandum 8: Advance Construction of Keystone XL Pipeline  1/24/2017
  • Executive Order 4: Border Security (The wall)   1/25/2017
  • Executive Order 5: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry (Muslim Ban)  1/27/2017
  • HR 370 Repeal Affordable Care Act
  • HR 861 Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency (established 1970)
  • HR 610 Vouchers for Public Education
  • HR 899 Terminate the Department of Education (established 1939)
  • HJR 69 Repeal Rule Protecting Wildlife
  • HR 354 Defund Planned Parenthood
  • HR 785 National Right to Work Act (anti union)
  • HR 83 Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act
  • HR 147 Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (criminalizes abortion)
  • HR 808 Sanctions against Iran
  • US withdrawal from 2015 Paris Climate Agreement

A complete list of everything Mr. Trump has signed since January 20th is linked here.

Every issue raised at the Seneca Falls Women’s March is at risk. To answer the post-election questions seen on Facebook: “What are you so worried about?”  “How much damage can he do?” the link above outlines the damage in complete detail.

While the above is more than enough, Mr. Trump exhibits extremely dangerous behaviors for a POTUS, as follows:

  1. Attacks our free press and media, recently tweeting about violence toward CNN.
  2. Selects people with no experience for key roles, e.g. Steve Bannon to National Security Council (since removed), Betsy DeVos to Secretary of Education.
  3. Turns daily White House briefings into a farcical, three-ring circus.
  4. Hires family with no political experience as key advisors.
  5. Lambasts his predecessor on Twitter regularly (to what end?).
  6. Denigrates and disrespects women, e.g. recent attack on ‘Morning Joe’ anchor Mika Brzezinski insinuating a bad facelift (Trump: women = bodies only).
  7. Isolates himself and inexperienced inner circle from Congress and Senate, so the people actually elected to run the country have no idea what is going on.
  8. Fires anyone who disagrees with him.
  9. Challenges and does not support NATO’s positions.

Whose Job Is It, Anyway?

On January 29, Congressman John Lewis tweeted, “This is a dark hour for America,” which I retweeted with, “Do NOT understand why we’re here: HRC won popular. FBI purposely created email BS. Russia hacked election. WHY is there NO RECOURSE?”  Researching how Checks & Balances are supposed to work was a great reminder there weren’t any computer algorithms 241 years ago to program, ‘If this, then that’ logic.  It’s completely dependent upon representatives in Congress and the Senate:  It is your job to defend and protect our Constitution and our country, and to remove any POTUS who is not defending or protecting the US Constitution or country.  That’s why you are paid in the top 20% of Americans and provided lifetime benefits.

Americans everywhere – journalists, doctors, lawyers, entertainers, teachers, farmers, merchants, truckers, manufacturers, data analysts, programmers, and everybody else – continue to work and take care of our families. Everybody’s doing their job. While many would love to, it’s your job to impeach him.

The last time Republicans held the Presidency and majority in Congress and Senate was under George W. Bush, whose administration left the country in financial ruin. It was convenient of the hackers to ensure this scenario to make impeachment more difficult.  More difficult, but not impossible.  Even ABC’s 20/20 did an episode on Nixon’s impeachment as a, “Look, kids, here’s how it’s done!”

What If?

Since people more educated and qualified have written, spoken, tweeted, and done a lot to indicate Mr. Trump should be impeached, let’s play the “What If?” game. Let’s imagine Mr. Trump remains POTUS and all of the legislation noted above passes. Ask yourself, dear Congressperson or Senator, will you be able to:

  • Pay for all of your relatives’ – siblings, siblings’ spouses, children, grandchildren –  healthcare if one of them gets cancer, is born with a birth defect, gets kidney disease, etc.?
  • Look your family in the eye if a loved one dies because ACA was replaced by a healthcare bill indicating everything is a preexisting condition (and 40 is old)?  Will this apply to you? It will to them.
  • Deal when abortion is illegal, your daughter / granddaughter / niece forgets her pill (now only available to the rich), ends up pregnant at 19, and then dead because she was embarrassed and found someone to perform an abortion?
  • Live in your waterfront property?  You may want to sell now since lakes and waters are rising and nothing is being done to stop it.

Intentions

Donald Trump has never hidden who he is.  Since 1980’s real estate, then casinos, ‘The Apprentice,’ to the present, he has shown himself to be: a narcissist, bully, hypocrite, and someone who only cares about the deal/money.  Lawsuits from people claiming he didn’t pay them, to litigation and bankruptcies to preserve his wealth, to that disgusting video of how he grabs women; he has never presented himself as presidential material. Two of his three wives were born in Eastern Europe, but he wants to stop immigration. #OfCourse  It’s easy to surmise Mr. Trump’s motivation for selling America to Russia is simply the money being wired to businesses set up last fall.  This link is a complete list of conflicts of interest in his current role as POTUS.

Do you know what Vladimir Putin’s motivations are?  Is he really paying billions just for oil?  Does anyone know his true intentions?

Diving down the rabbit hole:  One of the first pieces of legislation Trump signed was the construction of the Keystone pipeline, central to his deal with Russia. Then the strategy to dismantle our democracy started with attacks on the free Press, freedom of speech, promoting fear, etc.  Next, intentionally annoying and generally trying to piss off our NATO allies. What if this is actually Putin’s strategy that Trump is poorly executing?  What if all of the ‘terrorist attacks’ in the past six months have been plants to increase fear?  What if Putin’s goal is to get us into war, where America does not stand with NATO, and then later, Russia comes after US, when we’ll be standing alone?  What if the proposed laws are designed to obliterate the already beaten down Middle-Class to create a proletariat to make babies at 20, classify old at 40, to die no later than 65 so Social Security and Medicare are no longer required?

Should we caption this 7/7/17 photo: Squad Goals?

Courtesy of ABC News

A picture is, indeed, worth 1000 words.  What do you see?  Please note who has the upper hand and who has the “you better get it done” look in his eyes.

It all sounds like a poorly written episode of Scandal, and completely ludicrous, right? Remember what prompted you to go into public service, review your years in Congress or the Senate, and then ask yourself if you’ve ever witnessed another president doing #1 – #9 above?  Or asking “If the West has the will to survive?” like he isn’t an American?  A year ago you would have declared that ludicrous.

When have you ever seen US newspaper headlines about what the Russian president thinks with the regularity of 2017?

When have you ever known America to not want to be #1 in:  education, climate, GNP, STEM, space, etc.?

Have you considered a wall to keep people out could also be used to keep people in? That 3 Billion dollars could rebuild roads and bridges, improve our educational system, feed kids while in school, and provide after school daycare, if not more?

Has Mr. Trump spent 2 hours and 16 minutes talking to anyone in Congress or the Senate about policy?  Seems that’s who he’s working for, and yesterday they jointly announced they’re putting the “whole Russian hacking thing” behind them.  #NiceToKnow

Will you allow 241 years of American freedom, growth and values to be dismantled in nine months?

Have you considered if Congress and the Senate will exist in Putin’s America? Do you really want to find out?

Drums Beating in the Distance

Angela Merkel’s recent statement that Europe must take its fate into its own hands gave me shivers.  Unfortunately, I see exactly what Ms. Merkel sees.

I pray for your courage to defend America from this blatant attack, which is causing protests all over the world because people are tired of dictatorships, war, and poverty.

Please read Amy Siskind’s list for more. God bless you, Amy!  I didn’t have your fortitude to deal with it every day.

For The Record

  • It is illegal to request voting records from every state. If provided, there will not be a fair election again in our lifetime; elaborate computer algorithms do exist now.
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton – Woman of Steel – the eternal phoenix rising from the ashes – did not lose the election; it was stolen from her.  It wasn’t about Bernie, the Democratic platform, or voters. President Obama was beyond correct when he said no one has ever been as prepared to be POTUS.  Search history for the man who lived in a Governor’s house, lived in / understood the White House, was a Senator, and the Secretary of State prior to becoming POTUS.  I am very sorry, Hillary; for you, and for US.
  • I’ve never liked Donald Trump, and my distaste has grown exponentially in a year.
  • I’ve never worked in government or the press. I have no ties to the CIA, FBI, NSA, or B613 even. Have always worked in the private sector, without promise of a pension or lifetime healthcare.
  • Do we know yet who paid the Macedonian town to create the Fake News sites (click revenue isn’t overnight)?  Whoever did, they’re now paying them to be Trump supporters on Twitter.  Why they didn’t recognize the Declaration of Independence?

Sincere thanks to everyone standing up for America, and all of the #WomensMarch organizers and participants. Wrote this post while the Internet and I are both still free, and dedicate it to all of you.

May God bless and protect the United States of America and our freedoms.

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Life Imitating Art Imitating Life

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Every year I watch the Academy Awards, and try to see the movies nominated for Best Picture before the show. This year I saw Selma, The Theory of Everything, Boyhood, and Birdman beforehand.  I watch the post-Oscars E! Fashion Police episode too because, let’s face it, the Oscars are as much about fashion, hair and make-up as they are about movies.

After Joan Rivers unexpectedly passed last summer, I wondered what would happen to her show. The new E! Fashion Police launched in January and seemed like a success until the fateful Oscars show. Giuliana Rancic made an inappropriate joke about Zendaya’s dreadlocks (watched it twice and it gave me pause both times), which started a Twitter war. Zendaya was offended and Instagrammed it. Kelly Osbourne tweeted “Don’t put me in the middle. These are my friends. I said not to do the joke.” 

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For those who don’t follow entertainment or Twitter, the Oscars were Sunday, February 22; Fashion Police aired February 23; said Twitter war was February 24 – 25; and by Friday, February 27th, E! announced Kelly Osbourne was departing Fashion Police “to pursue other opportunities.”  That’s generally code for got canned, but reports went back ‘n forth: some said she quit, others reported she was asked to leave. Given the intensity of the week, it kind of made sense either way.

The following week I saw some online comments from Kathy Griffin, but it was her March 12th announcement she’s also quitting the show that really got my inner P.I. / psychologist going. Her “I Will Survive” manifesto made me sit up and take notice. To put Kathy’s statement into my own few words, it goes something like: “Hey E! I was successful before I joined your little show and I’ll be successful after I leave it.”  All of this begs the question:  Is something seriously wrong at E!?  With half of the shows’ staff departing two weeks post Oscars, most notably after these women expressed their opinions online, one wonders. Or are these women truly just standing up for what they believe in?

They say “Art Imitates Life.” So what are these movies about and how does it relate to the E! drama? Here’s my take:

selma-movie

The planning and filming of Selma, a movie about the historic civil rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, began before Michael Brown got shot in Ferguson, MO, last August. This tribute was in the works long before the protests and riots in Ferguson; before #Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter became lexicons of our culture. An amazing movie, it was nominated for Best Picture and Original Song. If you haven’t heard Glory, here’s a video of John Legend and Common performing at the Oscars; it’s as awesome as the movie and a tear-jerker in itself.  (The fact there are more black men in Corrections today than were slaves absolutely flabbergasts me.) Two weeks after the Oscars, President Obama marked the 50th anniversary of the Selma march on that very bridge with his own speech. POTUS speaks very eloquently; to summarize his half hour speech in my own few words, it goes something like: “People, of course we’ve made progress. If we hadn’t, I wouldn’t be standing here! Do we have a way to go? Yes, absolutely. But we’re still better off than we were 50 years ago. Keep fighting.” His speech is worth listening to; it’s full of faith and hope and love.

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The Theory of Everything is a beautiful movie based on Jane Hawking’s memoir: Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen. It depicts Stephen and Jane falling in love in college at the same time his ALS was diagnosed; how she married him despite his illness, bore his children, and took care of him, the kids and the house so that he could do the amazing work he has done. It’s a movie that accurately shows the trials and tribulations of life as a handicapped person and caring for one, particularly with a chronic disease that worsens over time. The movie was nominated for five Oscars: Best Picture, Leading Actor, Leading Actress, Original Score and Screenplay.  Eddie Redmayne won the Oscar for Best Actor.

Boyhood

Boyhood is a phenomenon since it was filmed in intervals between 2002 and 2014. It’s the story of a boy growing up with divorced parents, told from the child’s perspective.  It’s a gritty, too-true-to-life story of a father too young to be a father, and a struggling, single mother who remarries a man who ends up being an abusive alcoholic. After she has the courage to leave him, she gets involved with another man who also turns out to be controlling. The boy tries to successfully navigate growing up among these quite imperfect adults. Boyhood received six Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Supporting Actress/Actor, Directing, Original Screenplay and Editing. Patricia Arquette won for Best Supporting Actress.  Her inspiring acceptance speech is a rallying cry for equal pay.

Her speech was not only in response to her character, but in response to the Sony email leak last November that outlined the disparity in pay among male and female actors. Many cheered Patricia on afterwards, but some complained that actresses make millions and have nothing to complain about.  News flash: That’s why it’s called “Equal Pay for Equal Work” –> it applies regardless of the type of work.

Birdman-3

Birdman is a wonderful movie about a middle-aged actor who was once a huge success, who is trying to return to his former glory. In his journey back, he realizes he still loves his wife and builds a real relationship with his daughter, with whom he’s never been close. Birdman is a movie about never giving up, coming back after adversity, and remembering what is truly important in life after your ego gets out of the way.  It received nine Oscar nominations and won four: Best Picture, Best Director, Cinematography, and Original Screenplay.

Each in their own way, these tremendous movies boil down to two things: Love and Sacrifice. But if I were to hashtag them, they’d be: #BlackLivesMatter, #HandicappedPeopleMatter, #WomenAndChildrenMatter, #MiddleAgedPeopleMatter.

Courtesy of Dr. Wayne Dyer

Courtesy of Dr. Wayne Dyer

Anyone who works in marketing, market research, politics, TV ratings and other big data analysis, knows that the world is often sliced and diced into: age, gender, race, education, income, religion, geography, sexual preference and anything else folks think may be important to a buying, voting or watching decision. It might make ‘business sense’ but it’s a soulless way to interact with people.

It’s these categorizations and stereotypes that permeate society to create underlying and unconscious biases. Soccer mom, anyone? One could suggest Birdman won Best Picture because the majority of Academy voting members are over 40. Or Patricia Arquette won because America loves its long-suffering single mother who will do anything to raise her kids. All you have to do is watch football, American Idol, The Voice, or any other sport or reality show to hear the praises of single mothers being sung often and loudly. Did Selma win Best Original Song because, well, you know, black people grow up singing in church?

Which brings me back to E! Fashion Police. I loved Joan Rivers; grew up watching her on Carson and watched her nip and tuck herself to stay relevant. Some could call her a crusty old broad or tough old bird. Perhaps Joan had a free pass on making inappropriate jokes because of it. Kelly, you’re right, the joke shouldn’t have been told. Kathy, you’re right, you will continue to be successful. Go forth and prosper.  E! Fashion Police, here’s an idea:  Stick to fashion and let the snark go. People will still watch. Just like people kept reading Perez Hilton after he decided to be nice.

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Some who study cycles say we’re experiencing the same cycle of change we did in the 1960’s; 20th century’s decade of the civil rights, women’s lib, sexual revolution, and anti-war movements. In addition to my hashtags above, gay marriage, LGBT rights, mental health awareness, body acceptance and many other rights are currently in the news. Demonstrations on college campuses protesting how rape cases are handled (and dismissed) and the twenty women accusing Bill Cosby of sexual harassment (or worse, rape) are more examples.

If we refocus the lens and zoom outside of the United States, we see the same trends. Democratic uprisings. Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani woman who demanded an education, and who won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her work on behalf of women, children and education. In the Middle East, where we’ve been handing out guns like candy for over a decade and training people how to fight; now some of those same people are banding together to make their voices known worldwide to ask us not so politely to cease and desist.

It’s almost like all of those held down are lifting their heads up out of the mud (to quote Teri Garr), raising their faces to the sun like flowers, and saying, “Hey, people! I matter.”


Opportunity

January 30th Small Stone

Courtesy of American Idol Facebook Page

Courtesy of American Idol Facebook Page

Watching Idol tonight I was reminded

why I love that show so much

when Nicki Minaj said,

“All of the stars aligned to bring you here in front of us.”

Truth is, none of us knows if

that email, that phone call, that tweet

blog post, book, song, audition, smile

or chance meeting,

will open the door to our dreams.

Yes, America, Idol or not,

we are still the land of Opportunity!

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Fear

January 25th Small Stone

Fear can rear

its ugly head

up from subterranean depths

even in those who consider themselves

“Enlightened.”

Always the fear of loss:

losing love

or money

or some ego attachment.

Only love can cure it.

Everything else,

ego and money and titles and things,

keep fear captive in the basement

of our souls.

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Residue

January 16th Small Stone

Waiting in line at the Costco pharmacy a long time, feeling the impatience of customers and stress of employees, the woman at the register was still kind to me.  I’d transferred a prescription from CVS after they raised the price again … “Could you please step to the other window to fill out some paperwork?”  At the new window I asked the woman if they were short staffed and we started small talking about seasonality, snowbirds and cost structures, when she said, “The address we have for you is Marymont Place.”  I laughed and said, “That was 1996 – 1998.”  She replied, “I lived in San Diego then too.”  We both agreed that San Diego was freaking gorgeous and freaking expensive and chatted about which Coscto we shopped at then.  She commented, “I raised my kids there; we were in Oceanside.”  I asked if her husband was in the military at Camp Pendleton and she said, “We were together 25 years, went to our Jr. and Sr. proms together, raised our kids, I thought it was great and he goes and falls in love with someone else.”  She still looked relatively young, so I could tell they had been together since 15 or 16.  Then she started telling me about the other woman and how two of her kids followed their father’s footsteps in the Marines and send her pictures of places they lived while growing up there asking, “Remember when we lived here Mom?”  I told her she looked great, landed on her feet and to stay strong: “It wasn’t about you; it was about him.”  She replied, “Thanks for the pep talk.  You know, I try not to let it change me, but … but it leaves a residue.”  All I could say is, “Yes, it does.”

Waiting in the grocery check out, I wondered how many women who’ve been divorced for years still wonder why they weren’t enough?  Good enough?  And blame themselves?

Walking out of Costco knowing I saved money (always a good thing), I noticed some residue around my eyes and wondered if broken hearts heal stronger like broken bones do?  Or is there always the residue of fracture?

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Happy Birthday Martin

January 15th Small Stone

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I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.  August 28, 1963

Over the past fifty years that dream has been expanded to include: gender, all races, sexual preference, disability, size, etc.  We all have that dream; at least I always have.

But life, Dr. Brian Weiss, and yoga have taught me that our souls are here to learn and often our packaging, and the experiences part and parcel to it, are significant to what our souls want and need to learn.  Since said packaging is just that; our souls live forever, and each is on their own journey to learn what they’ve come to learn, why does this equality really matter?

It matters because until we all – in every country, of every race, gender, hair color, eye color, size, shape, religion, sexual preference, disabled, etc. – until we all see the soul, divinity, worth and value in each other, only then can we live on this beautiful heaven on earth in peace.  When we can do that, we all will have triumphed.

So thank you Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for your dream.  It paved the way for my life and my dreams.

Happy Birthday with love!

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New Moon

January 11th Small Stone:

New Heart

New, new, new:

each morning a new day,

new weeks,

every new month has its new moon.

New years, new decades.

With so many opportunities,

why are we sometimes stuck in the same ‘space’

for days, months, years or decades?

Until some event, change, understanding

occurs

and the world opens up again?

Open yourself up anew today!

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