You Want More of This…?

As we move closer to election day, we continue to hear more alarming things come out of Trump’s mouth on an almost daily basis. He’s setting the stage for a coup, to enable himself to become the dictator of the Trumpian States of America. Amazingly, there are people who believe this is a fine idea, because why not? These last four years have been a grand ride, why not do this all the time?

Folks, you really aren’t seeing the long view, are you? Once one piece of our Constitution is broken, it all can go. We are guaranteed to have free and fair elections, and a peaceful transfer of power. If Trump removes that and declares himself the winner either by having the senators determine the electoral vote, or simply by not leaving, then what is to stop him from telling us the rest of the Constitution is null and void as well?  You know all the screaming you’ve done about having your 2nd Amendment rights violated, and that a candidate from the Democratic party is infringing on that? Or how awful you think ‘Obamacare’ or the ACA is? Or what about the fact that you’ve been able to speak up at all? If you haven’t thought about that, well, now is the time.

All you need do is look around you at life under other dictators, and it’s pretty easy to see that what you think of as being a pleasure cruise, will become just another nightmare. Gun rights? Gone. That freedom to speak your mind, travel where you want to and stand in front of a government building, throwing fire bombs, smoke bombs or just f-bombs? Gone. (Not that those were good ideas in the first place.) Want to work where you want to, or do what you want to? Gone. Don’t think the rules of the ACA are right, or that it should even exist at all? Then I imagine you’ll love government run Trumpcare, which will determine what benefits you have, and how much money is allocated for those benefits. If they don’t put enough money toward it because this year Trump doesn’t want to, then either you pony up out of pocket, or you just don’t get that medicine because you aren’t allowed to. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you’re on the side of anarchy now, doesn’t mean you get any kind of a pass later. No, you’ll just be Citizen No. 12657390. Just as likely – perhaps more so – to get tossed in jail for activities against the state. Think not? Check these out…

Gun laws in Dictatorships

Russia: According to the Library of Congress, “Individuals are not allowed to carry guns acquired for self-defense; a license only serves as a carrying permit for hunting and sport firearms when these guns need to be transported. Russian citizens may not own guns that shoot in bursts or have magazines with more than a ten-cartridge capacity.”

In North Korea, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law.

In China, Civilian ownership of firearms is largely restricted to non-individual entities such as sporting organizations, hunting reserves, and wildlife protection, management and research organizations. The chief exception to the general ban for individual gun ownership is for the purpose of hunting.

Cuba: In Cuba, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law, and civilians are not allowed to possess pen guns, cane rifles, rifles with a calibre greater than 5.6 millimeters, machine and sub-machine guns of any kind, home-made firearms, shortened shotguns, firearms that have been modified with devices to make them more efficient, and certain types of ammunition. Private possession of fully automatic weapons is prohibited, and handguns (pistols and revolvers) are permitted under license. Civilian possession of rifles and shotguns is regulated by law.

Healthcare

Russia does guarantee free health care, 48% of expenditures comes from government sources which primarily come from medical insurance deductions from salaries. While there appears to be private insurance there, the state insurance improved during the 90’s and 2000’s to be very competitive, then it’s quality significantly declined. Due to the Russian financial crisis since 2014, major cuts in health spending have resulted in a decline in the quality of service of the state healthcare system. About 40% of basic medical facilities have fewer staff than they are supposed to have, with others being closed down. Waiting periods for treatment have increased, and patients have been forced to pay for more services that were previously free.

In China, about 95% of the population has at least basic health insurance coverage. Despite this, public health insurance generally only covers about half of medical costs, with the proportion lower for serious or chronic illnesses. In urban areas, insurance isn’t free either. And in rural areas where it is, the quality of care varies widely.

North Korea claims to provide universal health care with a national medical service and health insurance system. North Korea claims that health services are offered for free. However, this claim has been contrasted by North Korean defectors, who claim that patients must in fact pay for health services, that the upper classes have access to a higher standard of healthcare than ordinary ones do, and that “how much money a patient has determines whether they live or die”.

Cuba’s national health system is made up of multiple tiers: 1) the community containing individuals and families, 2) family doctor-and-nurse teams, 3) basic work teams, 4) community polyclinics, 5) hospitals, and 6) medical institutes. The Family Physician and Nurse program is made up of physician and nurse teams that serve individuals, families, and their communities. Polyclinics are community-based clinics that house primary care specialists, and exist in every Cuban community. While preventive medical care, diagnostic tests and medication for hospitalized patients are free, some aspects of healthcare are paid for by the patient

Freedom of Speech

Cuba: The Cuban constitution recognizes the freedom of the press, and prohibits private ownership of the media. “Only 25 percent of Cubans use the internet, while only five percent of homes are connected”, making it one of the Americas’ least-connected countries. The Internet is censored; a number of websites are blocked, and access to information is scarce.North Korea: Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and nations such as the United States have asserted that, in practice, there is no right to free speech, and the only media providers that are deemed legal are those operated by the government.

China: The only people in China who can publish criticisms of, or opinions contrary to those of, the Communist Party, are senior members of the Communist Party. Academics and editors of China’s state-controlled publications are afforded somewhat less leeway than Party officials, but still more than the average person.

Russia: In 2019 Russia introduced new regulation commonly called “fake news law” which criminalizes publications containing “unreliable” information as well as opinions that show “disrespect for society, government, state symbols, the constitution and government institutions”. The law was criticized for vague wording allowing selective application e.g. against political opposition. Since 2009, the practice of the law enforcement agencies (most notably FSB) was to abuse newly introduced anti-extremism laws to suppress freedom of speech, including corruption investigations. On 31 March 2013, The New York Times reported that Russia was beginning ‘Selectively Blocking [the] Internet’.

That’s a glimpse of life under Trump as ‘president’ for life here. So, all those ‘rights’ you keep harping on, well, don’t worry, you won’t have them because we won’t have a Constitution. No Constitution, no rights. And if you think it can’t happen here, think again. He’s already trying to set the stage, with declaring the media “enemies of the government”, and “fake news” (hmm, look familiar?), telling us what he wants us to know around COVID-19, hiding his tax returns, installing his family and flunkies in positions of authority, and making us all question each other. It’s not too late to keep it from happening.

Vote on November 3.

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Why Dan Patrick (and the GOP) Are Wrong

I heard Texas Lt Governor Dan Patrick say something a while back on a news bite that made me stop in my tracks.

“There is no reason — capital N, capital O — no reason that anyone under 65 should be able to say I am afraid to go vote,” Patrick, a Republican, said in an interview with Fox News. “Have they been to a grocery store? Have they been to Walmart? Have they been to Lowe’s? Have they been to Home Depot? Have they been anywhere? Have they been afraid to go out of their house? This is a scam by the Democrats to steal the election.”

What? Is he serious? Unfortunately, he was. And he’s dead wrong too.Screen Shot 2020-06-06 at 6.49.13 AM

There are many reasons why people under the age of 65 are afraid to go and vote with a pandemic. Anyone with a compromised or suppressed immune system is at very high risk of catching – and dying from – coronavirus. Their immune systems are just not able to fight off infections, either because the disease they have has made their body not able to fight off infections or because they are taking some kind of medication that has chemically suppressed their immune system. This could include people with different types of cancers either because of the disease, or because they are receiving chemotherapy, anyone who has HIV or AIDS, and anyone that has received an organ transplant. It could also include some people with psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, because some of the medication they take suppress the immune system as well. Heart disease? Check. Lung diseases like cystic fibrosis? Check. Crohn’s disease, having your spleen removed, bone marrow ablation, genetic immunodeficiency, diabetes and chronic kidney disease are also on the list. Guess what Mr. Patrick? All of those affect individuals of all ages.

Add to the group above everyone in their households, because if a spouse, significant other, child or parent brings home the virus, then the immunocompromised person could get it from them, and if they do, they will probably die because their immune system is unable to fight off infections. For some of them even a common cold means the risk of pneumonia, and getting a flu shot each year is critical. So, when coronavirus became a “thing”, and the CDC said “wash your hands”, they did. When the CDC said “wear a mask”, they did that too. And when their medical providers said “it’s not safe for you to work and be around so many people”, they either quit or took a leave of absence and thanked God for unemployment (if they had a state that wasn’t a complete cluster about it) and the stimulus.

How do I know this?  My husband was blessed 29 years ago with a kidney transplant, making our household one that is immunocompromised, thus we take many precautions to keep him safe. We wash our hands – a lot. We wear masks if we go out, and use hand sanitizer. I wipe down the groceries before they come in the house, and as a rule, I don’t go shopping for them in the store. I order them online, then go through the drive though that my grocery store offers and have the loaded in my vehicle. I order everything I possibly can online, trying to respect the delivery folks as much as possible by bundling my orders up and having a single delivery day. Neither of us has had a professional haircut in months (I’ve learned to cut my husband’s hair, and it actually doesn’t look too bad!), unlike you Mr. Patrick, who is freshly shorn by a stylist. I no longer enjoy luxuries I used to indulge in because they aren’t safe, like manicures or dining out. I wipe down surfaces in our home with bleach, as well as my car on the few occasions I do go out. I’ve seen my mother four times since March, and made her wear a mask each time. We do still attend church, but online. I will admit having gone to Home Depot but I don’t wander the aisles. I order what I need ahead of time when I can and have it waiting for me at customer service so I can get in and get out or have a plan so I am in and out quickly.

Now, maybe they don’t have these problems down in Texas, with folks getting sick or needing dialysis and transplants, or maybe Mr. Patrick, like so many members of the GOP is just so out of touch with real people and real problems that he’s just clueless to the realities of life. Of course, we’re now learning there is a third option, which is the public message they say on camera or through their Twitter feed, and the private message when they think few are listening. I suspect he knows the truth even if he won’t admit it publicly, and there isn’t one single thing he – or anyone else – can say to me to convince me to take risks that would endanger my husband’s life.

We’re under the age of 65 in this household, and have plenty of reason to NOT vote in person, Mr. Patrick. (And if you live in the Washington, DC area, as we learned this week you might have some new reasons for not voting in person, as POTUS and FLOTUS mutual COVID -19 diagnoses are the gift that keeps on giving.) Fortunately for us, we live in a progressive state that allows absentee voting without an excuse, and we are exercising that right. Neither you, your ignorance not your great desire to align with a man who believes that  herd mentality will save us, are going to put that at risk. And contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence of any kind that mailing in your ballot promotes voter fraud.

Note: Your vote counts. To find out if you can vote absentee in your state, and what the rule are, go to  Vote.org. If you are concerned, like many of us are, about Louis DeJoy and the efforts he has undertaken to undermine the ability of the USPS to deliver your vote on time, please look to see if there is a location near you in your county with a drop box for your ballot. In ours, there are a number of them where ballots can be dropped beginning weeks before the election, so we don’t need to rely on the post office. If you live in Texas, you won’t be so lucky as the governor there has restricted drop offs to one location per county.

Vote. It could be your last chance.

 

 

Thank You For Your Service

For the past 18 months, I’ve had the incredible honor of working in a role that supports members of the military and their families. Like many of you, I know that when you serve in the military, you might be stationed overseas, your spouse might be deployed not once or twice but multiple times and that while challenging, the benefits in serving are great. In spite of having family members who have served in the military as well as a number of friends and even a neighbor or two (thank you for your service, Uncle Denny, Uncle Al, Tim, Mark, Mary, Dave “Superstar!”, Stephanie, Bob and many others) and having a great uncle who was MIA in WWII and never came home, I never really appreciated what that meant before this job.

These people – the active duty members of the military and their families – sacrifice more than any of us can imagine. They miss birthdays, holidays, first steps, first communions, last days of school and last days of life. If stationed stateside and working in support roles, they might be fortunate enough to see their families every day, and are home for dinner. If they’re stationed what is referred to as OCONUS (Outside of the CONtinental US) then consider that the family packed up what they had and moved, perhaps for the umpteenth time, to a country where they may not speak the language and settle into a house that is probably not new, with appliances, fixtures and carpeting that have perhaps seen better days and no option to replace them because they’re living in military housing. They have to find an English language school for their kids, doctors, places to shop and then just about the time they get it all figured out, they have to pack up and do it again. For those that are deployed, family stays behind while the soldier is serving somewhere around the world, perhaps in a place that the family can’t even know about. When they can call home, they might be limited on the number of minutes allowed for the call and have to call at odd times of the day depending on where they are at, just to make up the time difference to call at normal times for their families. They do this without complaining and with amazing grace and dignity.

They are in service to our country. Think about what that means for a moment. They do what they do, so we can walk freely, speak freely, love freely. They keep us and our democracy safe. It’s selfless, the stress is unbelievable, and when they are serving in places like Afghanistan, Iraq or Kandahar, they don’t know if they’ll come home and hug their spouse or kids, their kids, in a coffin, or at all. I heard retired Major General Paul Eaton speak on TV two nights ago, and he said “our solders are taught to trust their commanders, to go where they are told and to fight for their country without question, because they trust that no matter what, their country will bring them home.” His voice was so full of passion and emotion, it was almost overwhelming to hear. Click here and watch his message on Twitter, and to see his interview with Rachel Maddow, click here. (The link goes to YouTube, the first part is an equally powerful interview with a Gold Star mother, and well worth watching. Eaton’s interview begins around the 12:50 mark.)

We are lucky here in the US. When we have an emergency, we can call 9-1-1 from any phone and help will come. If you call from a landline, they’ll even know your location without being told (unfortunately, that technology doesn’t exist with cell phones, so make sure to provide a location when calling from a cell phone.) When the military and their families are overseas, and an emergency arises, if they need an ambulance they may not be able to simply call 9-1-1 because not all countries have that. Some countries have other emergency codes, some have none at all. Imagine being in a country where you don’t speak the language, and have no way to pick up the phone and call to get an ambulance when you need one. How would you handle it?

I have no frame of reference what it would be like in combat, but would imagine it’s terrifying, regardless of how much training you’ve received, never knowing if the next step results in stepping on a hidden trigger device, or if you’re in the crosshairs of a gun and all the while having the sound of constant bombardment everywhere, day and night. How long would you last? Are you willing to put on battle fatigues, learn to follow orders without question, pick up a gun, and do what you’re told in cold, ice, snow, rain, sand, and desert heat, combined with unrelenting noise all the time, constant shelling and bombs everywhere?

My respect for the military  and their families is beyond what I can put into words, and it is my greatest honor to be in a role where I can continue working with nurses who support and help them every day. We try to make life just a little less difficult for them and from the comments I see and hear I know we are successful in doing that. This week, hearing Donald Trump call those in our military who were wounded, or didn’t come home “suckers” and “losers” makes me sick to my stomach and angry. Our military and their families do NOT deserve to be disrespected and invalidated like that.  A commander-in-chief who, according to a report in Vanity Fair

In one account, the president told senior advisers that he didn’t understand why the U.S. government placed such value on finding soldiers missing in action because they had performed poorly and gotten caught and deserved what they got, according to a person familiar with the discussion.

His disdain for our military is such that he and first wife Ivana said if their kids joined the military they would be “disowned in a second.” Let that sink in for a moment. Their message wasn’t “we don’t want you to do this because we’re afraid something will happen to you”, it was “we think so little of the military that we will kick you out of this family and it’s money if you become a part of it”. This is who you want leading your troops?

My grandmother watched every day at her kitchen window for years, hoping that would be the day she would see her baby brother come home from WWII. It wasn’t until many years later that she learned he had died in France, and how. We’ve never recovered his remains, and in the last year my mom started working with an agency that matches DNA to unidentified remains still there, in hopes we may still be able to bring him home. Mr. Trump, my Uncle Ches was NOT a sucker or a loser. He was a young man who unlike you, believed in serving his country and defending her against ALL enemies, foreign and domestic. He did so with honor, and yes, he, along with all the others who remain missing, deserve to come home and be buried on US soil.

One of our greatest gifts as a democracy is belonging to any political party we want to and then exercising our right to vote for our candidate of choice and to do so in private. That means you never need tell anyone who you voted for. (This is HUGE!)  However part of being a responsible voter is to evaluate what a candidate stands for, regardless of their party and vote for them based on their platform. What is their record? What have they done, not just what do they say? It’s not only OK to belong to one party and vote another, it’s acceptable, even responsible. You’ve already heard the phrase “Country over party” many times these last 4 years, and it means more now than ever. Please, regardless of the party you are affiliated with as a registered voter, vote for someone who respects and supports our military troops. If you aren’t a registered voter, please get registered. If you’re worried about voting with COVID, go to Vote.org and find out how you can vote absentee in your state. (Whatever you do, don’t try to vote absentee and then in person. It’s probably a felony in your state. )

It’s that important.

How Low Can Bad Videos Go?

I’d like to say it’s been a really bizarre week, but honestly, who am I kidding? It’s been a bizarre 5 months since our new President was sworn in. No one met with the Russians, well maybe they did, they can’t remember, oh you meant THOSE meetings?…the Russians didn’t hack the election, well maybe some Russian patriots did, who knows?…alternative facts…Spicey’s in, Spicey’s out, Spicey’s in the bushes, Spicey’s rolling through Manhattan – oh wait, that Melissa McCarthy doing a skit for SNL. Sorry…Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 7.00.09 PM

And then there was covfefe. Yeah, I don’t even know what else to say about that one. Neither, apparently did Merriam-Webster, those wise and wonderful dictionary folks, who tweeted this out in response that morning. (If you aren’t following M-W on Twitter, now is a great time to start. Their social media manager, Lauren Naturale is hilarious. For that matter, why aren’t you following me, @MrsMike921 on Twitter as well? Just sayin’.)

So moving on.
The thing that really has made an impact on me this week, however, was the story about Kathy Griffin and the poor decision she made when she created a short video depicting a beheaded Trump with a crawl at the bottom of the screen “he had blood coming from his nose, his eyes, his whatever” (or close to that). Since it was posted it was supposed to have been taken down off YouTube, she issued an apology, has been fired from her New Years’ Eve gig with Anderson Cooper at CNN, lost multiple stand up gigs, lost endorsement deals, been harrassed by the Trump family, recieved death threats, and had a visit from the Secret Service. Then today there was a video from a press conference where she stated that the Trump family is ruining her, and they’ve “broken her, and she doesn’t believe she’ll have a career after this”, crying while making her statement.

First a couple of things to level set. I’m no fan of Donald Trump, but I’m also not overly fond of Kathy Griffin either and find her rather annoying and a bit of a bully. Having said that, I’m sure this is a difficult situation for her, and I don’t doubt her sincerity and that she is sorry for having made the video. No one, I repeat, no one, should ever get a death threat, it’s terrifying. As to the rest of it…I’m having trouble being more sympathetic, and here is why.

In her original statement, Griffin said “I crossed the line..I move the line and then I cross it. That’s what I do.” Guess what? If your job description includes “be provocative, push the envelope, push people’s buttons” that sort of thing, then it’s incumbent on you to also be responsible enough to know how far is too far and when to stop. If you don’t know, then for the love of God, get a trusted circle of advisors and bounce ideas off of them when you’re really pushing the edge of the envelope. We’ve all seen stories in the media about threats to past presidents that bought someone a visit from the guys in dark suits with no sense of humor, who talk into lapel pins. Some threats were pretty real, others were vague and non-descript. Internet chatter is monitored to pick up anything that might be a possible risk, guys flying in homemade gyrocopters that land too close to the White House suddenly find themselves with an arrest record. You’d have to have lived under a rock or in Siberia for the last 30 years to not know about these things. Griffin’s statement of “I crossed the line” is just too pat, and quite frankly, is a cop out.  If she gave it any thought at all, perhaps she figured as a celebrity she was exempt from consequences? I personally believe that Griffin simply didn’t think. At. All. Unfortunately for her she’s learning the hard way this is one time when her celebrity status doesn’t matter worth a hill of beans. Do I seriously think she was making a threat against the President? No, of course not, and the Secret Service probably didn’t either, but it’s not their job to guess. It’s their job to investigate, verify, and determine based on facts obtained from interviews.

If I do something in my job that my manager or my company disapproves of, there are consequences. Every year I am expected to review a corporate code of conduct, and sign off on that document indicating that I’ve read it, I understand it and will abide by it. If I don’t live up to it, I am subject to a number of potential forms of discipline  up to and including termination of employment. I can’t misrepresent my company, I can’t accept monetary gifts, I can’t share insider information, etc. I would expect there are similar rules in place for self-employed celebrities when they sign employment contracts with networks to do shows, such as  Griffin did with CNN for the New Years Eve show. While I’ve never seen that type of contract, some quick searching on Google did produce readily available information on morals clauses in contracts for the entertainment industry.  If her contracts had them, then her failure to understand terms and conditions lies squarely on her own shoulders.

I’d be a whole lot more impressed with her if she said “the mistake was mine, I didn’t stop to think. I was stupid and careless and can see how this could have been percieved as a  threat to the president. The Trump family has every right to be angry with me and I’m going to take some time away from my career to reconsider some things. I may or may not be back.” She is both pushing this onto someone else as well as whining about the Trump family bullying her. The former demonstrates the lack of insight on her part, which is unfortunate and the latter, well, that’s kind of “pot, meet kettle”. Bullying is wrong, no two ways about that, and both have done more than their share. I just find it a bit hypocritical that she’s now the one complaining about it.

I’m not saying she doesn’t have a right to push boundaries in her career as a comedianne, or even to cross lines, so before folks jump on their bandwagon I want to make sure I’m clear about that. I just don’t think she should have crossed THIS one.

King Me?

Many a student has sat in their Civics class in High School, hearing the familiar opening words to our “Declaration of Independence”. It begins “When in the course of human events“. Those words, and the rest that follow, were written in 1776 by Thomas Jefferson, adopted by the Continental Congress and then on July 4, signed by 56 members of the Congress. The youngest was 26, and the oldest was Benjamin Franklin at 70. But beyond the opening sentence and the now familiar “we hold these truths to be self evident,that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness“, how much of the rest does anyone remember? When was the last time you actually read it…digested what it meant…really internalized it? 

That may be due in part to the language of the time, and blogger Leifur Thor has rewritten it in modern language. I’ve linked to his blog so you can see the additional comments if you would like but the document text is below. As I read it, a number of things resonated for me and I saw some frightening parallels. So with all due respect to my friends across the pond, perhaps we all need a reminder of why our founding fathers left England and came to America.

When it becomes necessary to end one political process due to lack of representation, it’s only fair to list the reasons why.

We believe everyone is created equal, and should be afforded the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness as they see it. We believe these rights a fundamental truth, and no government’s right to curtail, now, and forever more.

That to protect these rights, governments are designed by and get their powers from its People. And when any design of government begins to remove their freedoms, it’s the sole responsibility of its People to repair or replace it.

We shouldn’t change government lightly however, for when we do, people suffer. Therefore, it’s important that whatever form of governing process we agree on, we build it well. When however through any actions this governing body we create, seeks to reduce our civil liberties, and our ability to self govern, it’s not only our right, it’s our civic obligation within any real Republic to amend or throw off such governments, and provide a new governing body that supports civil liberties for all, now, and for future generations. To enjoy civil liberties, our participation in maintaining their security lands squarely on us, the People who live under them.

Looking at the King of England’s record, it’s clear England wants total control of our colonies, compromising our liberties. Here are our facts-

He won’t allow us to create our own laws, a fundamental need for things to work here.

He won’t let us pass important laws we need now. He’s got to sign off on them and when he doesn’t we suffer.

He’s refused to let us pass laws affecting large groups of people in our colonies unless they swore allegiance to him even though they’ve had the right to self govern, clearly showing he’s a tyrant.

He requests meetings of our representatives in far away cold, and strange places for the purpose of wearing them down in to submission so they’ll agree with him.

He’s disbanded our leaders whenever we complain about human rights abuses.

By not allowing us to self govern in any capacity, it opens our colonies up for corruption from within as well as from outside.

He fights to control our colony’s population, immigration, ownership of land, and expansion.

He’s made it difficult to practice the law here, wanting himself to be the ultimate judge and jury.

He’s sent over crooks who he calls judges to dispense his will through courts without trial or jury.

He’s created new offices who’s staff beat business down through harassment to enforce his will upon us.

He’s sent the Army to watch over us, when we didn’t need or want them.

He’s done everything to make his army bigger than our system of law, and our ability to carry out justice.

He refuses to acknowledge our own laws, and tells us we have to follow his laws instead.

For breaking up our military so as to make them vulnerable, and controllable.

For protecting any of the British military personnel by mock trial from going to jail for any reason, allowing them operate outside our own laws.

For cutting off our trade with other countries.

For adding taxes without our consent.

For taking away our right to trial by jury in many cases.

For kidnapping our citizens only to be tried and convicted outside our colonies, and our own laws.

For taking us,one of England’s provinces, removing our laws, forcing his own body of laws on us, and expanding it’s boundary and making it an example of rule of law others must follow or else.

For taking away our charters (forms of legislature) that allow us to govern.

For suspending our own laws, and forcing his own system of justice down our throats.

For disowning our government, and for declaring war on us for having the desire to self-govern.

He has over-fished our waters, burnt up our towns, and destroyed the lives of many people within our colonies.

Right this very moment, he’s sending over a large army of mercenaries with no morals to kill and torture everyone now that he’s ruined our laws protecting the common man. If you think we’ve been repressed up to now, expect the worst you can imagine.

He has kidnapped citizens of our colony on the high seas, and turned them in to his own soldiers only to fight their own brothers and sisters here.

He has manipulated people and groups within our colony to fight each other, and wants rule of law similar to those savage Native Americans who live by war destroying everyone under any conditions. (Guerrilla warfare is probably what they’re talking about here since war prior to that had been fought face to face in broad daylight)

With every action above, we’ve petitioned, and been told in return to “suck it up”. By this alone, it’s time to stand up for ourselves as free people, and kick this tyrant out.

We don’t like making waves. And we’ve warned England from time to time we’ll govern ourselves, reminding England the conditions of our own immigration and settling here, yet even when we’ve shown them how it’s bad business for everyone, they just won’t listen. So it’s up to us to fight for our fundamental rights, and anyone who’s opposed to this inside or out of our borders is our enemy, and anyone forging to expand civil liberties, our friend.

So we the representatives of the people living within these unified States of America gathered here under one roof declare to the supreme judge of the world we are free. We declare we are no longer under the British crown’s rule, and all political connections are hereby over. These Free and Independent States of America have full power to each build partnerships, do business, go to war, or negotiate peace. To show we mean what we say, we offer each other our lives, our fortunes, and our integrity.

 

It Ain’t a Game of Concentration

I’ve intentionally not commented on candidates this election cycle for a number of reasons, even though there has been plenty of fodder from one in particular as far as I am concerned. And while I do so now, and realize it’s at my own peril, I’m not trying to start a conversation on the merits of one political position over another, one view over another and I hope I don’t get excoriated online, but I realize I’m opening myself up for exactly that. This isn’t about red or blue, Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal. Contrary to popular belief I actually vote the person, not the party, and that’s as much as I will say about it. Having said that….

We have only a short time left until the election, so consider this carefully: A large number of business today follow the hiring model in HR of “past performance is the best predictor of future behavior”. While there may be some debate in it’s value from a psychological profile tool, businesses seem to agree that as an initial evaluation tool at the time of interviewing a candidate, Behavioral Based Interviewing provides more information and context than simply asking “did you do this?” or “can you create that?”

So within the context of past performance being the best, and perhaps only predicter of future behavior that we have, consider the following:

What if you’re the one that Donald Trump is talking to? Not a beauty pageant winner from 20 years ago, but you? You’re in the crowd, front row and he looks at you and singled you out as an example of:

“Fat”. “Pig”. “You really are an eating machine”.

“Unattractive”. “Flat chested, you’ll never be a ’10’ “”Too old, you’re over 40”.

Maybe you and your spouse hit a rough patch, even separated? Maybe it was over another person, or even over something else? You’re in that crowd, and Trump singles you out and says “adulterer!! cheater!! enabler! you’re both pathetic.” “You can’t keep your marriage together” and other nasty things. Is this ok when it’s you, calling that out in front of your friends? Coworkers and neighbors? He seems to think that because he’s been married ONLY three times, and ONLY had one ‘affair’, that somehow he’s better than others. But here’s the thing: He’s bragged openly about the number of married women that he’s slept with. I don’t know about you, but folks, in my book, even if he wasn’t married at the time, that’s still having an affair.  So, are we now OK with a serial adulterer in the White House? If so, then you certainly can’t hold any of Bill’s past against Hilary, now, can you?

What if….

He really IS friends with Vladimir Putin. What REALLY happens then?

He uses one of the nukes that he thinks he should be able to use, since we have them? What happens then? Are you seriously ready to die?

He really IS friends with David Duke, and the white supremacists? You remember them, right? The ones he had trouble disavowing…What happens then? If you’re even a small percent African-American, Jewish, or some other less than perfect non-perfect caucasian, maybe it will be welcome to either the resettlement camps in America, or the deportation lines at the airport.

And about those tax returns. He says he’ll release them after he’s no longer under audit, which is likely to be after the election is over. I’ll go one better. Using logic and if-this-then-that thinking: He’s been under audit continuously since, what 1995? He says he knows people as wealthy as he is who never have been audited. Ponder this: Why does the IRS audit? 1 – Random audits or 2 – They found a red flag. For over 20 years he’s gotten randomly audited? I doubt it, so for over 20 years the IRS has continually found red flags in what he files in his tax return, so much so that they feel is alarming enough for him to be audited every year. Now here is the kicker…why can’t you see the returns from 2013, 2012, 2011? Because they are part of the 2014 audit. What happens when the 2014 audit is done? He’ll be audited on the 2015 tax year. Guess what? He won’t release 2014 then either, because it will be tied up with the 2015 audit, because the IRS will find another red flag. And so on, and so on. You will never see his tax returns. Not until hell freezes over. 

What I really don’t understand I guess, is the support that is given to him by the Evangelicals in this country. Back in June, James Dobson said that Trump had accepted Christ as his savior, referring to him as a “baby Christian”. Now as a Christian, I’m not one to proselytize, I don’t get up on rooftops and wave my faith around like a big flag at Perkins. That’s not my style. I’m more like my dad…I prefer to be more in the background. And I know that we’re all perfectly imperfect, works in progress. We makes mistakes, lots of them, all of the time and I’m no exception. But here’s the thing…as Christians, we do have to try to not repeat them, and to not make them intentionally. When you make mistakes, you apologize genuinely and make it right, then move on. And try to not it again.

Ahem. To the Christian Evangelical political leaders in this country:

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall not make idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.

Perhaps you’d like to have a little chat with Trump re: 1,7,8,9.  His repeated attacks on individuals regarding their character, their abilities, their skills, their bodies, his shady business dealings, his lack of respect for others, the laws of our country, our military, our veterans, simple things like not interrupting another person when they are speaking (oh heck, I learned that when I was 3!) just aren’t lining up with the commandments, and aren’t indicative of someone who is supposedly espousing Christian values. Aren’t we taught that lying is wrong? Yet this man not only lies, but then reverses it, and refuses to acknowledge the first lie, or worse, goes out and finds some conspiracy theory website as his “source of fact” without really doing any true due diligence, then spews hurtful rhetoric. This is someone you want representing you? Why aren’t you all denouncing this horrible, un-Christian behavior? And don’t turn and point the finger at Hilary and give me that “well she’s no better” bull. She might be, she might not be. Listen to me well. Whatever she is or is not, has no bearing on what he is. Did you hear me? 

His behavior isn’t erased by hers. He doesn’t get a pass, there is no “oh look, a Democrat sinned so we’ll let the Republican get a pass for a free sin too.” I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work like that. As believers, when we die we believe we’ll go to heaven, and face our Father, and have to account for our life. I don’t think He’s going to have my sins laid out like the card game “Concentration”. Remember that one from when you were a child? Where you laid out the deck of cards one at a time, face down, then picked them up and tried to match them. You’d look for a pair of 2’s, or a pair of 10’s, and when you found a pair, they were discarded, until the entire deck was gone. I don’t think God is going to say “Beth, we have to find matching sins among your family, friends and peers for all of yours before you can enter heaven.”  I have to answer for myself.

Trump needs to do the same. So does Hillary. But it’s time to stop saying “yeah!” to him every time he refuses to offer contrition for his wrongs, or apologize without bringing Clinton’s name into the conversation. Make him answer for what he does wrong, tell him to stop bringing Clinton’s name into everything as a tool to try and deflect. Until he can take accountability, and learn contrition, well, there’s that old parable about the camel and the eye of the needle.

 

Miss Betty and Miss Manners

Romper, stomper, bomper boo.

Tell me, tell me, tell me, do.

Magic Mirror, tell me today,

Did all my friends have fun at play?

How many of you remember that  rhyme, and Miss Betty (in the Minneapolis area) holding up that magic mirror, so we could ‘see’ our
friends? It was a special time, when we learned manners, table prayers, the Pledge of Allegiance and general courtesies. She had her viewers do exercises too.

Beth 64 1j03 (1)

Me doing calisthenics with Miss Betty on Romper Room, age 3

 

I miss that time. Not that there aren’t polite people in the world today, there certainly are, (holding up my own magic mirror, I see Rachel and Ryan and lots of their friends!) but it feels like manners and courtesy are exceptions rather than rules now, and that makes me sad. I wish it wasn’t so uncommon for people to hold doors open for a stranger, or to smile and say hello, just because you can. Did that go away when we got scared to say “Merry Christmas”?

How about etiquette? What’s the proper way to set a table? Does the knife blade face the plate or away from it? Fork on the left or right? I can still hear my Grandma Abby saying “This is the proper way to eat soup. ‘Whenever I go out to sea, I dip my spoon away from me'” so that you would remember you’re supposed to dip your spoon in your soup away from you at the far side of your soup bowl. Of course, no one does that any more. Are things like how to set a table  even taught anymore outside of the restaurant industry?

How about this one – “elbows off the table Mable” (with all due apologies to the Mables in the world). I said this to my hubby a few months ago, he just looked at me like I’d lost my mind. “What?” I asked him. “Where did that come from?” he wanted to know, as  he’d never heard that expression before, thought I’d made it up on the spot. Not a chance, that was another Grandma Abby-ism. So was “make sure you have on clean bloomers every day” but no one knows today what bloomers are. (They’d be your britches! And if you don’t know what those are, for heaven’s sake, look it up.)

People used to write to Miss Manners, asking how to behave in a given situation. “Dear Miss Manners, my boyfriend’s sister is a being a brat. When I go there for dinner, blah, blah, blah. What should I do?”  and Miss Manners always had great advice on these angst filled life dilemmas. Or you’d consult Emily Post, for the guidelines of good behavior in any given situation.  She once said “The attributes of a great lady may still be found in the rule of the four S’s: Sincerity, Simplicity, Sympathy and Serenity.” Serenity is a little hard to achieve now, as is simplicity, but sincerity and sympathy are attributes all of us should posses, and goodness knows they don’t cost a thing. What’s really amazing, I just googled Emily Post, and found out there is a website emilypost.com (of course!). Guess what’s on the landing page? References to the importance of a handwritten thank you note and a good handshake. (See my prior post, Word of Advice). I didn’t even plan that, I am just that darn good.

Emily Post also had some valuable advice for men. “A gentleman does not boast about his junk.” Of course, given the time in which she lived I’m fairly certain it didn’t mean then what it means now, however it’s apparent to me that it’s still relevant, particularly if you’re running for public office. 

And on that note…