Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for September, 2019

“In my desperation to be a good mother I talked myself into believing that all I was doing was giving my daughter a fair shot.” Felicity Huffman

I know, I know. GM is out on strike and we just might start a new war with Iran, but I’m still obsessing over Felicity Huffman’s college admission scandal.

Every single parent can relate to this; single moms I met in the Jersey City projects, where I was teaching Head Start ages ago, wanted the best education for their children. Education is supposed to lift you out of poverty.

But those young moms could not pay to endow a chair (the legal equivalent of a bribe) at an elite school. Today they live with luck; will an arbitrary lottery number mean their child gets to go to a charter school? And then, if they make the grades and stay out of trouble, will they even be able to afford a state college without sinking themselves into debt?

And what about suburban desperate housewives? Every single one of us knows of someone, or maybe IS that someone, who twisted the rules a little for their child. I knew moms who had their sons diagnosed with ADHD just so they could have their SAT time lengthened. I heard about moms who didn’t live in our tony district, so they submitted the grandmother’s address. I knew moms who hired college counselors just because everyone else was doing it!

We would pay for SAT prep courses and then pray for the best. Of course most of that was a “legal” attempt at gaming the system. The difference being, in suburban school districts like Rumson-Fair Haven, parents had the money to grease the wheels of the college admission process. In Jersey City, parents could barely survive on food stamps. What does this say about a public school system that is funded with property taxes? What does this say about our country?

WE ARE ALL GUILTY of wanting the very best education for our children! But comparing Felicity Huffman’s sentence of a $30,000 fine, 2 weeks in jail and parole to Tanya McDowell’s 5 year sentence for falsifying her address to get her son into a better school district and taking a plea deal on drug charges is misleading. Sure one mom is white with an infinity pool and one mom is brown living in a homeless shelter, but both of them were guilty and desperate to give their child a “fair” shot at success.

McDowell served 3 years of her sentence and said she would do it again if she had the chance because her son started Kindergarten in his grandmother’s district, and he is now on the Honor Roll.  https://www.oxygen.com/crime-time/tanya-mcdowell-homeless-mom-stealing-education-jail-felicity-huffman-college-scandal

Huffman, on the other hand, may have learned her lesson. She seems remorseful and pleaded guilty. Her daughter will now be identified with this scandal for the rest of her life, whether she actually attends college or not. Bob agrees with John legend, who posted on Twitter that women should NOT go to jail for these non-violent offenses. In a twist of the social media world, men seem to be more feminist and empathic than women who declare themselves feminist!

The questions raised this week about racism and social justice are not new. We are running private-for-profit prisons in order to maintain the illusion that our rule of law is fair. We pay more to incarcerate our citizens than we do for pre-schools and elementary education where more brown boys are labeled “special ed,” or end up suspended for disciplinary problems. Our system is broken, and calling out Felicity Huffman or comparing her with Tanya McDowell misses the point.

Over the summer, I downloaded a first level reader book about owls on my iPad for the Love Bug and caught her reading it to her brother. On her 7th birthday last month I explained the “age of reason” to her, about knowing right from wrong. Her brother starts Kindergarten next year and wants to learn how to play the drums! Our children are modeling our behavior – good, bad and indifferent.

IMG_5772

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Last night, amid a flurry of texts and Tweets, Bob and I were glued to the Democratic Debate. The Bride had asked us if we wanted to join their “watch party,” but I was determined to stay home and take notes. I knew adding two delightful children to that mix would completely throw me off my game. I was disappointed to see social media quickly turn snarky on Uncle Joe for his “record player” comment, and am still wondering what Bernie said to him as Castro pounded Biden again and again about “opting-in.”

While Castro was questioning his elder statesman’s memory, Bob was reminding me about the concept of “opting-out.” In case you forgot, behavioral economist Richard Thaler wrote a book about this very idea, about how to get people to do what’s right and is in their best interest! His groundbreaking book “Nudge” describes the ideas for which he won the Nobel Prize. Though not an entirely new concept, using psychology to mold public policy and marketing is new.

Prof Thaler’s central insight is that we are not the rational beings beloved of more traditional economic theory.

Given two options, we are likely to pick the wrong one even if that means making ourselves less well off.

Lack of thinking time, habit and poor decision making mean that even when presented with a factual analysis (for example on healthy eating) we are still likely to pick burger and chips.  https://www.economist.com/free-exchange/2017/10/09/the-nobel-in-economics-rewards-a-pioneer-of-nudges

Why? Because it’s our habit, it’s easy, and it tastes good. Climate change and our clogged arteries just don’t factor into a good burger! When Corey was asked if he would have all Americans adopt his Vegan diet, he said “NO” in two languages!

But if we apply Nudge theory to health care the answer is simple. Forget private vs medicare for all vs Amy Klobuchar who READ the bill; according to Thaler and Bob we enroll everybody in ONE healthcare plan! Give it a name and give people the option of “opting-out”…. and because it’s such a pain in the neck for most of us to change, the majority will stay on that plan.

My psychologist brother Dr Jim has said time and again, “There’s always that 10%!” Sure maybe 10-20% may opt-out for something better like a boutique, fancy schmantzy doctor plan, mostly people who are up around the 1-5% stratosphere. Some may just want none of this healthcare nonsense, they want to live like a hermit and prepare for the end of days. Doomsday preppers aside, this is what universal healthcare looks like in most of the G7-or even 8 countries.

My Friday morning quarterback, Dr Bob, has just told me that last night was “…Pure Posturing.” Granted his experience as an ER doctor and Director of his group, who also opened an Urgent Care and ran his own billing company for years gives him a unique “from the trenches” perspective, but when he talks the business of medicine I mostly listen! Because it’s still a “For Profit” business model – private insurers make 20% on every dollar paid for healthcare in this country, while Medicare makes 1%!!!! PLUS:

Bob insists that we are already paying for 80% of our healthcare in one form or another!

We already pay it in premiums (630Billion), out-of-pocket expenses (365B), and in state and Federal taxes (1.695Trillion) for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Military.

It’s only that 20% that businesses and unions pay that needs to be addressed, and think about it –  one political party wants to phase that into Medicare over 4 years, buy-in or buy-out or maybe even call it something else…. and the other party just wants to return to the past and forget about affordable healthcare. Think about what you would want.

Now who is the nudnik or the PAB in the room? Hint – he wasn’t on that stage last night.

This is us voting for the guy who didn’t win Nashville’s mayoral contest last night. Let’s nudge ourselves into picking a winner this time Dems!

146C4CEB-2AB7-46A2-97F8-33B2F11B837C

 

 

Read Full Post »

In the depths of a crisis, have you ever looked around and asked yourself how in the world you got there? How did Great Grandma Ada, a Jewish girl from Brooklyn, end up in Nashville for instance. I am less likely to examine the minutiae of my circumstances, maybe because I was tossed about from one home to another as a child. I had to learn to ride the waves of two families. Plus, I’m not one to live in the past; but I do love to see Shakespeare performed outside, amidst the sounds of birds and trains.

This past weekend our whole family bumped into “The Tempest” outside our restaurant window! We loved it so much, we came back the next day with lawn chairs. A deposed Duke Prospero, has been tossed onto an island in a storm with only his young daughter, Miranda, some sprites of course, and a strange, savage man named Caliban. So what does he do? He whips up an even bigger storm with his magic to payback his conniving brother and his court who are now shipwrecked alongside him.

Shenanigans begin!

When Bob and I first married and moved to the Berkshires, we would regularly attend Shakespeare at the Mount in Lenox. Edith Wharton’s “cottage” garden was the setting for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” our introduction to the Bard en plein air. Of course we became enamored of this comedy of errors, where sprites and fairies rule the roost and make mockery of love and lust. Puck is a most mischievous servant and of course magic plays a central role in this play as well.

Leaping ahead from the 17th Century to today, I wonder who will be the ultimate playwright of our turbulent times? We may not have dukes and kings and queens but we do have a president who would be king. He loves opulence and the fame reality TV brings, he yearns for power and adoring crowds of red-hatted people. Kim Kardashian-West seems to be the only person who has played him recently, successfully lobbying Mr T to enact the first criminal justice reform bill in recent history.

Now Kim, a perfect medieval sprite, is studying Law – and what does Shakespeare say about lawyers? And not the one about killing all of them:

I have neither the scholar’s melancholy, which is emulation; nor the musician’s, which is fantastical; nor the courtier’s, which is proud; not the soldier’s which is ambitious; nor the lawyer’s, which is politic; nor the lady’s, which is nice; nor the lover’s, which is all these: but it is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and indeed the sundry contemplation of my travels, which, by often rumination, wraps me in a most humorous sadness.

Yes, lawyers can be political. Think about Gloria Allred’s daughter, the feminist lawyer, Lisa Bloom. She’s found herself in a bit of a Tempest while arguing FOR Harvey Weinstein in a memo she suggested they sully an actress’ reputation. Paint Rose McGowan to be unhinged, a “harpy” in Shakespearian terms. I’m heading over to Parnassus soon to get the new book, “She Said” by Jody Kantor and Megan Twohey. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/08/books/review/she-said-jodi-kantor-megan-twohey.html

Maybe this is how we can frame our troubled times. Pulitzer Prize winning journalists piece together the culture of abuse and obfuscation that dominates some of our most cherished institutions. And instead of a play, we will make a film. How did we end up caging children, separating families, and drawing Alabama into Hurricane Dorian with a Sharpie? How have we managed to separate ourselves from the natural world and our allies on this forlorn island?

Magically, we landed on a lawn in a park in the city to help ease our “humorous sadness.”

EA3935D1-51AD-437C-937C-DB9E421E16F1

Read Full Post »

I married a man, a doctor no less, who HATES golf. I’ve tried sweet talking him out, into the open air of a country club, to hit a “birdie” or a “bogey” or anything, just to give it a try, but nope, not happening, never, ever. He would always say he sees no reason to follow a tiny ball around a vast, grass wasteland, even if driving a golf cart might be fun.

On the other hand, we now have a President who cancelled a trip to Poland, then ventured out to his branded and manicured golf course – all while Hurricane Dorian raged – to “chip” away at his “links.” On the last day of his third August in the White House, this was Mr T’s 226th day of GOLF!

What happens when an ace journalist, Susan Glasser, collects the mega data of 3 years of AUGUST Tweets from our Golfer-in-Chief? You get a compelling picture of the escalating and devolving speech process (and therefore thought process) of a presidency that resembles a hurricane, even without an enhanced Sharpie diagram!

Mr T has gone from a Category 1 to a 5 faster than a toddler can disintegrate into tears because… well, pick a reason.

Trump not only makes us believe it now but, as we approach the three-year mark of his upset victory, in 2016, his project has succeeded in such a confounding way that it seems as though Americans will now believe anything—and nothing at all. Today there are few things too extreme not to have plausibly come out of the mouth, or the Twitter feed, of the forty-fifth President. In August, Trump called himself the “Chosen One” for his confrontation with China, grinned and flashed a thumbs-up during a photo op with the family of mass-shooting victims, accused Jews who voted for Democrats of “great disloyalty,” and called the chairman of the Federal Reserve an “enemy” of the United States. He cheered the robbery of a Democratic congressman’s home and labelled various critics “nasty and wrong,” “pathetic,” “highly unstable,” “wacko,” “psycho,” and “lunatic,” among other insults. The daily stream of invective was dizzying to keep track of, and so voluminous as to almost insure that no one could, in fact, do so.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/trumps-wacky-angry-and-extreme-august-twitter

And is that the point, if he has a point? To create so much havoc, to take funds away from building schools for military personnel in order to build his border wall, to propose the next G7 happen at his Doral property? To reframe the American Dream in a thought bubble of nonsense? His helicopter summits elicit hyperbole rather than any real “Breaking News.” The number of times he has insulted a perceived adversary has multiplied threefold in the past three Augusts!

No wait, the number of direct insults from Mr T’s Twitter fingers went from 14 his first August to 52 last month! His list of humiliating monikers reads like a middle school diary: “Lunatic; “Crazy;” “Psycho;” “Pathetic;” and “Sleepy.”

The irony of listening to Democrats speak out about Climate Change while Trump, our Climate-Denier-in-Chief, played golf (as Dorian destroyed the Bahamas) was not lost on me. And the one thing the GOP picked out of CNN’s excellent environmental summit was that Bernie Sanders linked population control to Global Warming and therefore he wants less brown babies?!!

This is a real existential crisis, it is not a joke and it is NOT about straws, or plastic bags, or birth control. Our leadership must first accept science and enlist the rest of the world in its multifaceted solution if we actually want to save our planet, let alone our species.

We need a “Mulligan” I’m afraid. Or we could take a cake decorating class with our American Girl Doll?

IMG_6291

Read Full Post »

Here in the South, summer slinks away slowly. Kids start school mid-August, giving us the impression that something is about to change, but we still have 90+ degree days in September. Sure it might be near 70 in the morning, and less humid, just to throw us off our game. Believe me – the sun is still scorching hot and the pollens are still burning my eyes.

The Bride and I bid summer adieu by attending my very first Drag Brunch over Labor Day weekend. This was a first for me and I loved it! I got kissed by 3 Drag Queens! One time because I picked up all the money that inadvertently flew across the floor as she twirled away from our table; one time because it was my very own hair stylist who I love and adore; and I’m not sure why the third kiss landed on my cheek!

Did you know there’s a bit of controversy over at RuPaul’s DragCon? Last year he insisted that men transitioning to women would not be allowed to compete, which created quite an uproar. They would of course have an unfair advantage – not shaving their face, not wearing fake breasts! But RuPaul has reversed course and allowed Transgender Drag Queens like Gia Gunn to join the fun saying, “In the 10 years we’ve been casting Drag Race, the only thing we’ve ever screened for is charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. And that will never change.”

If you too love a Drag Queen, like The Britney Banks, or have a friend or family member in the LGBTQ community, you may want to pray for the Notorious RBG to stay healthy, and pay attention to the cases on the SCOTUS Fall calendar!

The Supremes will be returning to DC to hear some major case law. One of the biggest issues going up before SCOTUS will be if Americans can fire their employees for being Gay; for their sexual preference OR sexual identity. The Equality Bill has been stalled in the House like this damn hurricane. If you didn’t know, Taylor Swift schooled the nation about LGBTQ rights last month with her latest album “Lover.” She knew this could Dixie Chicks her career, but she had to let her fans know where she stood.

Kellyanne Conway tried to put Swift in her place, saying: “I would love to survey the [award show] audience if they know what the Equality Act even is and isn’t,” she said in a Fox News interview that included an attempt to sing a few lines from Swift’s You Need to Calm Down. “But she’s welcome to her opinion. I can tell you, there’s a lot of poison pills in it.”  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-48916181

First of all, putting people down, like Swift’s fans, as ignorant is par for the course of GOP strategists. Here are 3 “Poison Pills” for all those conservatives hanging their hopes on religious (insert any mythical philosophy here) freedom in order to deny our fellow citizens their human rights: https://www.thedailybeast.com/inside-the-supreme-court-discrimination-cases-that-could-change-lgbtq-rights

  1. Carter Brown was harassed and fired from his job in TEXAS for being Trans:

I earned three promotions in two years, enabling me to purchase my very first home. These visual markers of success were proof that the American Dream had not eluded me, but that it was clutched firmly in my hand.” – Carter Brown #EqualityAct#HR5

“I arrived to work and discovered that a coworker had outed me as a trans man. Everything around me shattered…I was the subject of cruel office gossip & forced to endure invasive & offensive questioning from colleagues on the subject of my identity. – Carter Brown #EqualityAct via Twitter

2. Donald Zarda was fired from his job teaching skydiving in NEW YORK for being Gay. He tried to console a woman he was tandem jumping with, he tried to ease her fear by revealing he was Gay, to make light of their being in such close proximity… she reported him to his employers.

3. Aimee Stephens came out as Transgender to the owner of the funeral home where she was the director. She had been coming to work as a man and living the rest of her life as a woman. She considered suicide, but wrote a letter to her boss stating her desire to dress like a woman at work instead of leading a double life. She was fired in MICHIGAN.

Watching the Ellen Show gives us a false sense of hope and security. People are being fired in America for their sexual orientation. I don’t think it’s the Trumpeteers who need to calm down. It’s the vast majority of us who believe that Women’s Rights and LGBTQ Rights are Human Rights who need to get riled UP! We need to #FlipTheSenate in 2020.

If RuPaul could figure it out so quickly, maybe Mitch can be a Bitch? So Long summer!

0F0E3D7B-C281-441F-90FF-D63965AEC30A

 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: