Tuesday, October 25, 2016

You Can't Handle the Truth

You’ll hear it said that the Republican Party has an identity problem and that, after this election, the party leaders will have some real soul-searching to do.

There is a large swath of the electorate who feel they've been left behind and that nobody cares about them, their lives, or their children.  These are the people that Trump attracts.  Unfortunately for them, he’s going to lose, and, even if he won, his promises to them are lies.  He could never deliver on those promises.  There will be no wall.  There will be no deportation force.  He doesn't seem to understand how legislation gets passed in a democracy.  Congress will never approve any of his plans that cost too much.  

But the problem is that those people aren’t going away once the election is over.  They are convinced, now, that the jobs that have been lost in the Rust Belt can be magically brought back by a wizard with orange hair, and that if he loses the election it will be because our democracy has failed.  He should tell them the truth: that those jobs are gone forever and illegal immigrants didn’t take them.  A new economy and technology did.  

I live in Arizona and I have an Etsy shop selling hand dyed silk.  I received an order yesterday from a woman in a village in the United Kingdom.  I will ship her silk that I buy from China.  That's the kind of interconnected world we live in now.  There are between 6.7 and 9.7 million people who are making a living selling on eBay.  Another 1.6 million are active sellers on Etsy.  They may not even show up in the employment statistics, but they are independent entrepreneurs who are not depending on the government to make everything OK.   

It is a global economy and candidates who don't recognize that truth are dangerous.  

My heart goes out to those Trump supporters who haven't learned to think critically; who don't read a variety of opinions in order to decide what makes sense to them; who resemble the German populace in the Hitler days, following a pied piper who is as ill-informed as they are.  

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Law of Unintended Consequences

Even though my heart starts palpitating and my stomach churns when I think about what the future would be if Donald Trump should be elected in November, I still find these fleeting thoughts streaking across my brain.

One such thought is that tourism to the U.S. will probably drop significantly.  Many states that enjoy the income derived from tourism will be hurt. Trump has promised to be the “law and order” President, that he can stop the killings in Chicago in a week, and that all undocumented aliens who are criminals will be deported immediately.  Oh, and he wants to stop all Muslims coming into the country.  So, if I were planning to come to the U.S. to see the Grand Canyon, I would cancel my plans.  These tourists would imagine storm-troopers patrolling the streets. Every person would be carrying a concealed weapon ready to shoot them and their children for the least imagined infraction.  And, heaven forbid, if these tourists happen to be blessed with black hair and brown eyes, they might be swept up in one of Trump’s “deportation force” roundups.

There would be no leaders of civilized countries abroad who would meet with Donald Trump.  They could never believe anything he said because he changes his mind within 24 hours.  He believes everything is negotiable, and they definitely do not.  Democracy, human rights, protecting the environment, responsible economic policies - those are never negotiable.  I am sure, however, that Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin, Joseph Kabila, Nursultan Nazarbaev, and every other dictator would be happy to welcome Trump to their country.  Heaven help us.

Make America Great Again is code for “let’s go back to those good old days when minorities knew their place (as servants), the television shows didn’t have any of those disgusting gay people in them, everyone drove one of those gas-guzzling monsters turned out in Detroit and nobody worried about letting the water run while you brushed your teeth.”  He implies that America is not now “great,” although he also says that we have to stop all those millions of people trying to get here.  So, I imagine discrimination will flourish again.  Laws protecting people will be reversed.  Hatred and bigotry will reign.  New York, California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and pretty much all of the states in the northeast would attempt to secede from the union.

Those are just a few wild ideas.  Do you have any?  Share them with us.     

Sunday, September 11, 2016

His Own Words

Secretary Clinton has said she regrets saying that half of Trump's supporters should be put into the “basket of deplorables.”  What would have been clearer is that she could have said, "If Trump followers support his deplorable statements, they paint themselves with the same brush."  Here is just a sample of the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, statements made by Donald Trump. If you agree with these statements, get in the basket!

“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” (Racist)

"You could see blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her whatever." (Sexist, misogynistic)

"I would never buy Ivana any decent jewels or pictures.  Why give her negotiable assets?" (Selfish,  misogynistic)

"26,000 unreported sexual assults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?" (Criticizing our military leaders, sexist, misogynistic). 

“You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” — from an interview with Esquire, 1991 (sexist, misogynistic)

“You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs.” (Racist)

“I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down.  And I watched in Jersey City, NJ, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.  Thousands of people were cheering.” (Islamophobic)

“Now, the poor guy, you’ve got to see this guy. ‘Uhh, I don’t know what I said. Uhh, I don’t remember,’ he’s going like, ‘I don’t remember.  Maybe that’s what I said.’”  Visually mocking reporter’s physical appearance. (Hatred, fear of those not like us, no empathy.)

“We will work with them.  They have to go. Chuck, we either have a country, or we don’t have a country.” (racist and uninformed.)

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can  figure out what is going on,” a campaign press release said. (Islamophobic)

“Certainly, in that system, he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader,” Trump said Wednesday during a candidate forum on NBC. “If Putin says great things about me, I’m gonna say great things about him. I’ve already said he is really very much of a leader.” (Praise for a dictator opposed to American interests.)

It still puzzles me that a man of morals and ethics who is a celebrated war hero and a dedicated public servant - John McCain - still refuses to denounce Donald J. Trump.  Trump is unapologetically comfortable with white supremacists, nativists, anti-immigration, and decidedly uncomfortable with professional, competent women, minorities, the disabled, and anyone who dares suggest that he might be wrong about anything.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is correct: He says, "Clinton was right."

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Republicans Can't Do Math

The Republican Party has a lot of problems, but it’s biggest problem is that they can’t do math.  I will just assume that if you’re reading this, you know what demographics means, and that you can understand numbers.  I did just a tiny bit of research and this is what I found.

People are constantly coming and going in the U.S.  There are immigrants coming in, Americans leaving for other countries, babies being born, old folks dying, growing industries offering jobs, obsolete industries losing them, and lots of people getting tired of shoveling snow.  The question is, are Red states losing more population (read votes) or are Blue states?  Here are some quotes from www.governing.com - so you can check it out yourself.

“And while other states offset domestic population losses with increases in international migration, Maine and Vermont haven’t seen the same influx of the foreign born.”

Since the 2012 election, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Nevada all gained in population.  “Arizona grew to top Massachusetts as the 14th largest state.  Demographers predict the growing numbers of minorities in Arizona could eventually turn the state from red to blue.”

“In general, Democrats see a 2016 advantage in the fact that many of these states (those growing in population) are gaining minorities who traditionally lean disproportionally toward Democratic candidates.”

So, it makes no sense at all for Republicans to alienate immigrants who are moving to Red states.  That will only help turn that state to Blue.  Which then means that Republicans lose even more states to Democrats.

“Almost a third of Florida’s new residents were immigrants, with Census Bureau estimates released this fall showing Cuba as the top source recently.” (Not Mexico.)

“Republicans won North Carolina in 2012 by about a 2% margin, but an influx of African-Americans there in recent years make Democrats hopeful they can capture it in 2016.”  Republicans should be very, very careful not to insult and denigrate these voters.

And, just to demonstrate how out of touch the Republicans are, “. . . California’s biggest source of immigrants for 2011-2014 combined are China and Taiwan, at 73,000 people; India, at 61,000; and the Philippines, a 42,000 people.  About 24,000 people came from Mexico, just slightly more than the number from Vietnam.” 

Because of the mathematics, it looks as though the Democrats will easily have enough electoral votes to win the White House.  And Republicans, who knew four years ago that they needed to court these immigrants, have gone the other way.  Now that’s just stupid.

Friday, August 26, 2016

They Are Not Failures

When I grew up in Selma, Alabama, 74 years ago, there were separate drinking fountains for white and colored.  The white folks sat in the front of the bus. Selma was divided in half - one for the white families, with nice homes, lovely churches, good schools, and a ballet school that gave me an identity throughout high school.  I don’t know what the other side of town looked like, because I never went there.  My Dad used to occasionally come home on Friday night from the “other” side of town with containers of barbeque and brunswick stew.  That was pretty much all I knew about the African-Americans who lived in Selma.  Remember the movie, “The Help”?  Some of my friends’ mothers had “help” but they were all but invisible to me. I left before the March, so I missed that historic event.

Fast-forward 74 years.  Well, it probably didn’t fly by for those black neighbors of mine, but I was pretty much unaware of anything outside my small little bubble til I was much, much older.  And now, I sit with my dear husband and watch the coverage of this Presidential election and see one of the candidates tell our friends and neighbors who are black that their lives are failures.  I can tell you from my own life experience that this is absolutely not true.  

My grandchildren have grown up with children of all ethnicities in their classroom, and they play together, go to each other’s birthday parties and compete with each other on Minecraft.  That’s not failure.

I shop at grocery stores, department stores, electronic stores, and I see employees that are white, black, latino, and asian.  I didn’t see that in Selma when I was growing up.  That’s not failure.

On TV these days, I see funny, funny sitcoms about a successful black family, an Asian family, a gay couple who adopted a little girl, and dramas with leading characters who are minorities.  One of my favorite late night shows is hosted by Larry Wilmore who presents the news from a black perspective.  And marketing people have finally figured out that minorities have jobs, so they have money to spend, and they put brown and black faces in their commercials.  That’s not failure.

When I was growing up in Selma, I thought that “going to Europe,” was only for the very rich, those people who lived in places like New York, Boston or Hollywood.  I also didn’t think that black people could be doctors, professors, nurses, mathematicians, physicists, or politicians.  Now, not only have I been to Europe, but black people are professionals in every discipline.  That’s not failure.

Shame on Donald Trump.  You should apologize to my friends and neighbors whose lives are not failures, but are successful by any measure.  

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Job Application

Almost everyone has applied for a job at one time or another.  Job application forms usually follow a similar pattern.  They require the applicant to state his/her qualifications for the job, educational status,  accomplishments in the field, and, most important, his/her employment history or experience.  Quite often a background check is required as well as a credit check.

I started thinking about what an ad for the job of President would look like and who might have the qualifications sufficient to gain an interview.

According to Geri Zabela Eddins in Our White House, Looking In, Looking Out,  the president has two primary functions.  One is to serve as CEO of the federal government and the second is to serve as commander in chief of the armed forces. As Chief Executive, the president must work with his staff, his Cabinet, and the enormous bureaucracy that is the federal government to ensure that laws are carried out.  It is important to remember that the president does not make laws.  The Executive branch is responsible for carrying out the laws that the Legislative branch enacts.

Specific job responsibilities require expertise in a variety of disciplines.  Negotiating treaties with other nations requires diplomacy, establishing a budget requires knowledge of economics and social science, and formulating policy involving energy requires a knowledge of science.  One of the most important attributes of a president is the ability to form and work with a team since no one person can possibly possess all the knowledge necessary to perform the job.  Finally, the president as commander in chief can send troops into combat (presumably under the advice of his military advisors) but cannot declare war. 

So, now, let's pretend that you are in charge of hiring the person who will do the job of president.

In her Parade magazine essay “The Secrets of America’s Great Presidents,” Doris Kearns Goodwin, a prize-winning historian,  encourages citizens to consider ten qualities when choosing a president. We will look at those qualities and then examine our two candidates for how well they demonstrate those qualities.  You are welcome to add your 2 cents worth of opinion.  Finally, you will choose which candidate you think should have the job.

1.  The courage to stay strong in the face of adversity.
      Secretary Clinton has been in public life for more than 4 decades.  She has been scrutinized, criticized, blamed, and shamed.  But here we are, she is still standing, still fighting for those who can't fight for themselves, and is the Democratic nominee for President.  Donald Trump has never engaged in public service, but has sought the spotlight often in his life.  His response to adversity is to attack those who find fault with him.  He uses the language of a bully, and never, ever, admits a mistake or apologizes for having hurt someone. He is quick to use Twitter to hurl insults out into the Twitterverse.

2.  Is confident enough to seek different viewpoints.
     In this campaign season, we have seen HRC work with her opponent, Bernie Sanders, and agree to incorporate some of his ideas into her own campaign.  DJT says, "I alone can fix" this country's problems.

3.  Can learn from his or her mistakes. 
     The best example is that HRC made mistakes in 2008 that caused her to lose to Barack Obama. She did not make those same mistakes in 2016 when it came to the formidable Bernie Sanders.  DJT's company has filed for bankruptcy four times.  Trump borrowed too much money at interest rates he could not afford, and ended up having to give up his ownership stake in various ventures.  Obviously, he didn't learn from the first bankruptcy to be more fiscally responsible.  

4.  Is willing to embrace change.

       The motto of the Trump campaign is "Make America Great."  The implication is that America used to be great, but no longer is.  So, I guess you would say DJT hasn't embraced change.  HRC celebrates progress made in civil rights, the rights of women, the rights of the LGBTQ community, and promises to work together to keep moving forward.
5.  Is emotionally intelligent (willing to share credit with others, accept blame, and convey strength).
     Example 1: HRC accepted responsibility for the email snafu.  Example 2: DJT never accepted responsibility for the debts of his casinos, saying he, personally, had never filed for Chapter 13. Consider two phrases: "I Alone," and "Stronger Together." 

6.  Can maintain self-control in the midst of trouble.
     During 11 hours of intense questioning about the tragedy at Benghazi, HRC calmly answered every question, faced every attack.  If getting yelled at for hours without losing your cool is a requirement for the presidency, Hillary Clinton checked the box on Thursday. (Glenn Thrush and Gabriel Debenedetti, Politico, 10/22//15).  On the other hand, when confronted with his own words by Megyn Kelly in a debate, DJT responded the next day with a statement so inappropriate, so vicious, and so misogynistic that it drew severe criticism from his own supporters. Totally lost his self-control.

7.  Is aware and in touch with popular sentiment. 
     This quality is one in which DJT does excel. Those Americans who feel disenfranchised, who feel they've been forgotten for too long, gaze at him as if he is the Messiah.  Unfortunately, they are totally ignorant of the workings of government and don't realize that the promises made by Trump are not promises he can keep.  HRC appears to understand that the voters who agree with her on the issues don't really care about the email issue.  She spends her time discussing the issues she believes are important and telling voters her plans to address them. 

8.  Possesses a strong moral compass.
     DJT has been married 3 times, cheating on the present wife with the future wife each time and still claiming to be a moral, honest, person.   HRC chose to keep her family together in spite of marital problems.  You may not agree with her decision, but she did set a moral example. 

9.  Is able to relax. 
     We know that Grandmother Hillary loves Facetiming with her granddaughter, Charlotte, and reading to her.  Donald plays golf.

10. And finally, communicates well and inspires others.
      Maybe it's just me, but I don't think DJT can speak in complete sentences.  He starts a thought, but then cuts himself off, relying on his favorites "believe me," "trust me," "we're gonna win," and "huge."  HRC speaks like an intelligent, well-informed, public servant.  If Trump inspires others, it is to violence.  If Hillary inspires others, it is to help those less fortunate.

Based on these qualities, you decide who is best qualified for the job. And I hope you're right.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Just the Facts, Ma'am

The Republican nominee (I refuse to use his name, just like I think we should refuse to use a mass shooting perpetrator's name) loves to spout off using social media, especially Twitter.  What he fails to appreciate, though, is that the internet allows anyone to fact-check anything he says in an instant.

Years ago, we listened to candidates' speeches and had to wait for the next issue of Time, Life, Newsweek, or the opinions of our local newspaper editor to tell us whether the candidate was being truthful or not.  This year, the Washington Post published "Fact-checking Donald Trump's acceptance speech at the 2016 RNC" on the morning of July 22, only hours after the actual speech.  

Turns out the nominee "cherry-picked" data to support his claims about the crime rate.  Ditto for Immigration.  On the issue of the economy since President Obama took office, he used out of date statistics (which actually reflected data during the Bush administration).  Fact checkers state that the nominee's statement that "America is one of the highest-taxed nations in the world," is just flatly not true.  Likewise, his criticism of allowing refugees into the country because there is no way to screen them is also not true.

Now, I know some will say that the Washington Post is a liberal newspaper, so we'll see what some other fact-checking sites say.  Politifact is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics.  

Rudy Giuliani characterized Clinton's proposed immigration policy as "open borders."  Politifact says this claim is False.

Jeff Sessions claimed there are about 350,000 people who succeed in crossing our borders illegally each year."  Politifact says this claim is False.

The nominee told Bill O'Reilly that he wanted the convention to be in Ohio; that he recommended Ohio.  Strange, because the RNC announced Cleveland back on July 8, 2014 when the nominee wasn't even a candidate!  Politifact says False.

Sean Duffy said "Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have left us with $19 trillion in debt."  First, about half of that debt was from before Obama took office.  Second, the Secretary of State has almost no role in deciding issues of fiscal policy.  Verdict: Mostly false.

As for accusations that President Obama "is a Muslim," Politifacts rated this "Pants On Fire!"

Had enough yet?  I recommend everyone bookmark a fact-checking site and do your research before arriving at a conclusion about whether or not a candidate is telling the truth.  

TGFTI - Thank God For The Internet

Friday, July 22, 2016

Only Guns Matter

On the CBS news tonight there were two videos that showed police officers exhibiting violent attacks on people with absolutely no provocation.  (http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/austin-officers-investigated-for-disturbing-arrest-video/) (http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/21/us/miami-officer-involved-shooting/index.html)  (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/07/21/fla-police-shoot-black-man-with-his-hands-up-as-he-tries-to-help-)  It's hard to judge which is the most outrageous - the man lying on the ground with his hands in the air, who still got shot by the officer; or the one where the officer threw a slight, 120 lb. woman to the ground not once, but twice, after a traffic stop.  There is no report that she threatened this police officer with a gun or other weapon.  Her only weapon was the color of her skin.  The health-care worker stretched full-length on the pavement tried explaining that he presented no danger to the officer. We can hear his words on the video.  He asked the officer later, "Why did you shoot me?"  The officer's answer?  "I don't know."

What in the world has happened to law enforcement?

I think the answer is that the Republican party in conjunction with the NRA has encouraged every American to carry a gun.  (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/apr/13/nra-weakened-gun-control-laws)  States have open-carry laws where a police officer has no idea whether the person with a weapon is a "good guy" or a "bad guy." (http://blogs.wsj.com/numbers/map-where-is-open-carry-legal-1715/)  Even Chiefs of Police have spoken up against open-carry, saying that it makes their job much more difficult.  (http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-dallas-chief-20160711-snap-story.html)  Years ago, when an officer stopped someone for speeding or running a stop sign, they didn't really have to worry much that the driver might pull out a Glock and start shooting.  Now they do.  When law enforcement is operating in fear of their lives, they preempt violence with more violence.  The rule now is "shoot first, ask questions later."

Unfortunately, sometimes the weapon carried by a 12-year-old turns out to be a toy.  And chances are the murderer - and, make no mistake, this child was murdered - will never face any consequences.  (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/23/us/in-tamir-rice-shooting-in-cleveland-many-errors-by-police-then-a-fatal-one.html?_r=0)  Because he is a protected class - the ones who wear a uniform and a badge.  There are a myriad of reasons why law enforcement officers are not charged and convicted, even when a video exists that shows unarmed men being shot in the back while running away from the officer. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2015/04/11/thousands-dead-few-prosecuted/)

If you are still naive enough to listen to politicians for information, you will hear that all the violence we see on the evening news is due to ISIS.  That in some way it's all related to terrorism.  This is the coward's reasoning.  If you can blame the death of so many Americans on some foreign entity in a turban, then you do not have to face the consequences of your own inaction.  So many times Congress has been asked to take even one small step for our country, one small step to keep assault weapons out of the hands of those who want to kill.  But no, the problem is ISIS.

Therefore, those susceptible to persuasion begin to believe that every time they leave their house some crazed Muslim is going to start spraying their local Starbucks with armor-piercing bullets shot from an AR-15.  So they need to buy an AR-15 so they can shoot back and not hit any innocent person, but only the dark-skinned madman.

Finally, it seems that "Black Lives Don't Matter," "Blue Lives Don't Matter,"  "Gay Lives Don't Matter," "First Grade Lives Don't Matter," "Bible Study Member Lives Don't Matter," "College Student Lives Don't Matter," "Movie Goer Lives Don't Matter".  Only "Guns Matter."

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Where Was The Good Guy?

I woke up this morning to the news of yet another mass shooting in the U.S., in Orlando, Florida.  50 people this time.  And the death toll will increase because another 53 were injured.  And, as usual, the product that produced this carnage - performing exactly as it was meant to - was an AR-15.  

There was a time when the Congress recognized that this was not a hunting rifle meant to go out and hunt Bambi, and they sensibly banned it.  The following quote is from a Wikipedia article on the Assault Weapon Ban of 1994.  (The reviewing court held that it was "entirely rational for Congress ... to choose to ban those weapons commonly used for criminal purposes and to exempt those weapons commonly used for recreational purposes."[18]:10[22] It also found that each characteristic served to make the weapon "potentially more dangerous," and were not "commonly used on weapons designed solely for hunting."[18]:10–11[23])  Any product designed to kill as many humans as possible in as short a period of time as possible is meant for warfare, not hunting, and not for personal protection.  Unless you really believe the zombies are coming.

Now the NRA says the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.  In the nightclub last night, I guess there were no good guys with guns.  Most normal people don't want to walk around carrying a weapon that could more likely cause harm to themselves or a member of their family than protect them from some madman.  I cannot envision myself killing someone else.  Can you?  Honestly, can you?  

Where are the good guys with laws?

Sunday, June 05, 2016

I'm Ignoring Trump

When it all began, we thought it was humorous.  The idea of the larger-than-life reality showman running for any political office, let alone the Presidency.  The only thing anyone knew about him was that he was rich and like to fire people.  As time went on, the joke became less funny.  And, finally, when it looked as though he would definitely be the Republican candidate, it got scary.

The major news folks - from CNN to the Twitterverse - have given Trump millions of dollars of free coverage.  Every word he utters seems to be news.  Why?  I'm damned if I know.  We have a sitting President, and his activities and speeches are not covered as much as the lies and exaggerations of Mr. Trump.  

Everyone seems to be concerned about the image he's giving our country.  It's not just on Facebook that people are saying they will move to Canada.  I said it last night.  Mitch McConnell tries to reassure us that the structure of our government will protect us from Trump's unconstitutional and racist ideas.  But we have had presidents in the past who were willing to break the law to have their way.  Certainly, I can imagine Trump ignoring our laws because he thinks he knows better.

The one sure thing that would straighten things out a bit is if the media just ignored him.  Let him make his speeches, criticize whomever he wants, threaten each and every minority, and make promises he cannot keep - just don't cover the story.  That's what Megan Kelly did.  We've heard enough to form an opinion.  Months more of it won't change our minds much.  Let's see the news reports of heroism in the face of floods in Texas, document the newest breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer, show us the refugees who are settling in to their new lives.  Just, please, no more Trump.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

More than Beautiful

So-and-so updated her Profile photo, and all the comments say, "You are so beautiful,"  "Great photo," "Such a good-looking couple," etc.  Why do we only acknowledge a woman's looks, not her achievements?  

Just once, I would love to see the profile photo of a 40-something with three kids and a husband and a business, at the end of a marathon.  Now that should garner some meaningful comments.

And now, at graduation season, let's see some photos of Moms and grandmothers in their caps and gowns, having finally earned a degree after they ensured the education of their children.

Let's see the woman who, at 2 a.m., is working on the taxes for their business, preparing for a meeting with the tax accountant.  She's taking advantage of the quiet of the house after the health-care workers have gone home, the phone has stopped ringing, and her cancer-stricken husband in a hospital bed in the living room has finally gone to sleep for the night.  Now that's a beautiful woman!

Think about it the next time you see that one of your Facebook friends has updated their profile.  Try not to comment on her appearance - speak to her achievements.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Advice I Never Got

Why didn't anyone ever tell me that money, and managing money, is such an important part of living a full and rewarding life?  No one ever told me that one day I would be 74 and arguing with my 76 year old husband about whether we could attend his nephew's funeral because we have no money.

That's not actually true.  We each have our Social Security checks coming in each month.  That's a total of $1925.  Our expenses are $65.00 more than that each month.  And, believe me, we do not live lavishly.  He makes redwood Adirondack chairs which sell for $100 each, when they sell, and I have an Etsy shop which brings in an average of $200 per month.  I also do some baby-sitting and dog-sitting for extra money.  We have some savings, but according to the Social Security folks, it's got to last us another 20 years.  

I just wish my parents had seen fit to educate me about investing money when I was 17, that they had shown me the numbers.  But it's my experience that kids don't really understand the numbers until they start buying diapers and paying for pediatrician visits.  I don't know what I was thinking back then, or even when I had three kids and was working full-time to pay the bills.  I argued then that there simply was no money left over to save, but, of course, there was.  I just didn't choose to do it.

Here's what I am going to do for my grandson: make a picture book showing (a) the car you can have if you have money, and (b) the car you have if you don't; the trips you can take if you save money, and (b) the road trip to Wally World if you don't; (a) the house you can give your family with a college degree, and (b) the low-rent apartment you'll have with a GED.  You get the idea, right?  Maybe that will work better than talking numbers.  

But how do you tell them that the working years go by so fast and in a blink, you're 74 and arguing about money.

Monday, May 16, 2016

God's Not Listening, Folks

These past two months have been difficult for our family.  My brother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Liver Cancer and given 6 months to live.  My husband's nephew died suddenly from a massive seizure.  Two days later, we got a phone call from my husband's niece who said that her younger brother had just died from a heart attack.  He was only 49 years old.  Then a family friend died from colon cancer - she was 39.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that my husband was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and just completed six months of chemo.

Throughout all of this, everyone kept saying, "We're praying for you."  On Facebook, requests were made for everyone to "say a prayer for fill-in-the-blank."  Even after a death, people are still praying.  Doesn't anyone ever realize that if there is a God, he's not listening to all those prayers?

The most fervent Catholic members of the family plead for prayers every time their daughter, who has cystic fibrosis, is in the hospital.  They ask us to pray for her lung function to improve, when all her life they have known that it is the doctors, nurses, and medical technology that bring her lung function back to normal.  Do they ever, ever, post something that says thanks to the medical team?  No, they thank all those who prayed.

As for me, I try to stay open to new knowledge.  I talk to others about their experiences.  I read about new approaches in genetic treatments, since I have come to understand that your DNA has more to do with your health than your reputation with God.  Recently, I did some research on cannabis oil as a treatment for cancer.  Perhaps God directed me to google "cannabis and cancer."  

I wish someone could tell me what their feelings are when all their friends and family members are praying their asses off for a person and that person still dies.  Do they think God didn't pay any attention?  Or did God decide that He/She needed that person in heaven to do some tasks that only they could do?  

Monday, April 25, 2016

How Can You Call Yourself a Christian?

It seems like every day I see another example of hypocrisy.  Frequently, it's on the news: another candidate who claims to be a Christian is threatening all kinds of horrible things that he or she will do to other people if we elect him/her.  But often it is closer to home - much closer to home.

I'm speaking now of a Catholic family.  One whose children went to Catholic schools, who are ultra-conservative, and who frequently request that their Facebook friends pray for them.  But then, when their son died a few weeks ago, they published an obituary which pointedly left out the name of his wife of 20 years as a survivor.  Is this what Jesus would do?

Perhaps this woman did things that did not sit well with her husband's parents.  That would be understandable, since the son himself could never stand up to his father.  His wife, however, was a strong woman who did not suffer fools.  So, yes, maybe they are mad at her.  But isn't forgiveness part of the Christian doctrine?  Did their son not choose this woman to be his wife until he died?  Can they not respect that choice and give her the respect she deserves?  It is clear, in this final act, that the father still could not simply love his son unconditionally.

Oh, did I mention that the wife was the primary care-taker for the son as he dealt with the complications of a brain tumor, finally confined to a wheel-chair, and in a nursing home.  Thank God for people like her - not people like his birth family.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Why Do You Have to Be So Mean?

My husband's brother had two children, Matthew and Melinda, while my husband chose not to have any.  So, my husband was always close to his nieces and nephews throughout their lives.  His nephew, Matt, had a brain tumor when he was 26 years old, and had surgery and radiation treatment at the time - which is now over 30 years ago.

Matt worked hard, got a master's degree, and worked for AT&T for many years.  He married and had a son, John.  As so often happens these days, they divorced and John went to live with his mother.  By this time, Matt's father hated the woman who divorced his son, and therefore he never had a relationship with his grandson, either.

At church one Sunday, Matthew met a vivacious woman with long dark hair and a smile that would make you happy just looking at her.  She was a single mom with two small children, and Matt was a lonely young man looking for a family.  They married and loved each other for over 20 years.  His father was now a happy man, seeing his son happy after so much pain, right?  Oh, no!  Dad was convinced that "she only married him for his money."  What money?  Matt worked a middle management job and probably was able to invest in a 401K, pretty much what everyone else was doing at the time.  Not going to become a millionaire like that.  And his wife's ex-husband took care of his share of the expenses for their two children, so it's not like Matt had to assume the entire burden of raising the two.

Eventually, a few years ago, scar tissue formed in Matt's brain at the site of his tumor surgery.  He began to lose function in several ways, and became unable to work.  His wife carried on, running the household, caring for Matt and her two children and working full-time.  She was the best caretaker anyone could hope for - she did what was absolutely necessary, but allowed Matt to do anything that he possibly could for himself.  When it became dangerous to leave him alone in the house, she found the best nursing home for him, close to their home so she could see him every day.

Matt's parents visited their son once a year.  His sister, Melinda, visited occasionally, but she had two daughters and a husband and a job at home in a far-away state.  A few weeks ago, Matt suffered a massive seizure and died.  Even though his death was unexpected, no one would have wished that he had lived longer and declined further.

Matthew's family is going to have a small, private service in their home town.  His wife intends to take his ashes up in the mountains where they spent so many happy hours together.  Matt's father and sister want to have another memorial service where they live, even though Matt hadn't been there for over 30 years.  Today they published an obituary for Matt.

The obituary praised Matt for being a wonderful son, brother, father, and uncle.  Wait, I had to read that again.  No husband?  Matt was married when he died, his wife of 20+ years totally ignored.  Then, the obit mentioned Matt being survived by his parents, his sister and husband and two nieces, and a son and grandson - but no WIFE!  How can people be so cruel?  I am so ashamed to call them in-laws.  They are out-laws to me.

Matt loved his wife.  He loved his step-children.  And they loved him.  We visited them several times and saw how happy their lives were.  The only thing tarnishing their lives was the disapproval and nastiness of Matt's family.  And now it continues even after that sweet boy's death.