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Archive for the ‘Public Policy’ Category

I’ve always said it’s easier for a woman in our golden years, or silver years, because we have always had certain routines. Centuries of domestic duties, child and elder care responsibilities. Maybe it’s just my generation, but for the most part we were the gardeners and the gatherers, we kept the home fires burning. Some men do, however, take up cooking and laundering once they retire, if they don’t find themselves “consulting” on a golf course.

Our last night in Nashville, I found myself frying up some catfish and shrimp for a crowd. And although I was in pain from a fall off a step, I was happy to be useful. Having a purpose, isn’t that the raison d’etre for woman and mankind?

But for young women today, the roles are not so clearly drawn. We raised our daughters to believe they too could be President one day (say this aloud again and again please); women could bear the babies and bring home the bacon. Anything. Was. Possible. I told the Bride again and again. Books advised them to Lean IN, and maybe their pay wasn’t quite up to par, but opportunities were endless! Of course, money helps…

And wealth, a staggering amount of wealth may not bring you happiness, but it certainly helps with childcare. Strangely enough, I understand how Ivanka Trump could praise her daddy at the Berlin G20 Women’s Summit. Next to the leader of the free world, Angela Merkel, Ivanka spoke of empowering women everywhere, and said she thought the media was giving her father a bad rap. It’s not his draconian policies or paternalistic pugilistic attitude toward women, it’s the big bad media.

“He encouraged me and enabled me to thrive. I grew up in a house where there were no barriers to what I could accomplish,” Ivanka told a German panel. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39704840

She actually grew up in several houses, with many helpers, cooks and chauffeurs and a daddy who treated her like a real princess, in a tower. He left her mother when she was ten years old for a younger model and shipped her off to a boarding school five years later. Which is most likely why the German audience audibly groaned when she defended her father and her upbringing.

After all, how many women are struggling single-handedly to raise their children and put food on the table in our country? At least in Germany, parental leave is a tangible thing – 14 months of paid parental leave after having a baby, for both or even one parent… And once they go back to work? The German government is dedicated to provide childcare for its children, so that women and men can return to work. In fact, if there are no available kinder-spots, parents can actually sue the government! https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/01/german-childcare/512612/

Of all the president’s men, I am at least slightly optimistic about Ivanka. She talks a good game about empowering women, and I want to believe her. She has her father’s ear, though exactly what her role will be in the White House is anybody’s guess. Remember that FDR was born to the carriage trade, but had the courage to steer us through the Great Depression and understand the working class. Maybe Ivanka will help us pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which just passed in Nevada this March without much fanfare.

Or will Mr T, like King Lear, give away our kingdom to the highest bidders and his two sons, turning away from Cordelia/Ivanka in the end? I hope she comes back from Germany soon, to steer her aging father away from the precipice. And his Twitterfeed.

Here is Nana doing preschool pickup, #beforethefall.    IMG_0360

 

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What’s happening in the world. As Tillerson jets to Russia with a “Make my Day” kind of deal, an Asian physician is dragged off a United plane while passengers documented every minute. This morning, the United CEO has done an about face, finally apologizing for the incident; and simultaneously lovely Melissa, oops, Sean Spicer got his apology right on the third try. Yes Sean, Hitler DID use chemical weapons on innocent people, they just happened to be Jews.

The Jewish people are used to this kind of thing. In fact, a dear friend just told me that one of her son’s friends/acquaintances is a Holocaust denier. And that they actually don’t say it didn’t happen anymore, just that it was more like what we did with the Japanese internment camps…. You know, like a “Holocaust Center?!”

Over the years, I’ve met relatives with numbers on their arms. My first supervisor at an outpatient mental health clinic was a child of Holocaust survivors. One of our Big Chill friends was conceived at a refugee camp in Italy after his parents were liberated from a concentration camp in Poland. I’ve been attending Seders now for almost 40 years, and yet this was the first time I actually ran the show. I knew something would go wrong. I forgot to give everyone some parsley, so I started a new tradition of a parsley posey.

This is the first time I’m actually afraid for the survival of the human race, not just one group of people. Seriously – will Russia decide to sacrifice another pawn. Or maybe North Korea will put us into checkmate?

What kind of plagues should God rain down upon us this time? At least I didn’t poison anyone at my Seder. I’m a compulsive germaphob in the kitchen. Ever since I nearly killed my first husband with a salmonella infested sandwich I picked up at a deli in Harvard Square. I made Great Grandma Ada wash her hands all the time, and we cooperated on the prep for the haroset. Maybe Mr T will get a bad case of boils? Or locusts could infest the Rose Garden?

Our trees are greening and birds are singing. Spring is a time for rebirth, not sarin gas and armageddon. In fact Sean, you were right in one detail, Hitler did NOT use sarin to exterminate 6 Million Jews, “innocent” people, even though it had been discovered by a German scientist. Some speculate it was because he was gassed in the First World War. But most scholars say it was because Churchill would have retaliated if he tried to use gas on the battlefield or in the camps.

“War is chess. Hitler would have sacrificed a lot of pieces that he couldn’t afford to lose.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/04/11/hitler-refused-to-use-sarin-gas-during-wwii-the-mystery-is-why/?utm_term=.9dc38985fc9d

The Nazis constantly searched for more efficient means of extermination. At the Auschwitz camp in Poland, they conducted experiments with Zyklon B (previously used for fumigation) by gassing some 600 Soviet prisoners of war and 250 ill prisoners in September 1941. Zyklon B pellets, converted to lethal gas when exposed to air. They proved the quickest gassing method and were chosen as the means of mass murder at Auschwitz.

At the height of the deportations, up to 6,000 Jews were gassed each day at Auschwitz. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005220

6 Thousand a day, 6 Million in WWII. Holocaust centers, killing camps. Sarin gas vs Zyklon B vs chemical weapons. A gaffe is a gaffe is a gaffe. And this whole Trump administration is one big gaffe.

Today we rode along Skyline Drive to get the long view, the balcony shot. I wish we humans could just decide not to play chess with our lives on this planet.  IMG_0305

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What does the oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York have to do with politics? Let me make the case.

The words indecent, and traitorous are being thrown around all of a sudden regarding the intel pointing at Russia’s attempt, successful by all accounts, to influence our elections. The “Comey Effect” – the last supper letter he sent out simply to enflame our fears of HRC’s emails, and now his apparent inaction regarding Russian hackers – will haunt our history books forever. But amid all the Sturm and Drang (German for storm and stress), the most fascinating word of all to come across my desk is “Emolument!”

mid-15c., from Middle French émolument and directly from Latin emolumentum “profit, gain,” perhaps originally “payment to a miller for grinding corn,” from emolere “grind out,” from ex- “out” (see ex- ) + molere “to grind” (see mallet ). 

The Emolument Clause in our Constitution was intended to prevent anybody in the government who is holding an “Office of Profit or Trust” to accept any titles or gifts from any foreign government. Ever. So even if your great great grandfather once removed happened to own a parcel of hundreds of thousands of acres in Pennsylvania (yes, I admit mine did and he wasn’t once removed) and you were just elected to Congress, the Queen of England could not bestow upon you a Knighthood! Jolly good right?

screen_shot_2016_11_22_at_1-14-57_pmWrong.

Because once Mr T takes office, even IF he puts all his many global businesses into a blind trust, like Reagan, Clinton and Jimmy Carter did before him, IF his children are in charge of said companies this whole set-up by the founding fathers will be moot. And our newly elected President will be in violation of our Constitution on January 20, 2017. http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/23/13715150/donald-trump-emoluments-clause-constitution

We already know Ivanka will be taking over Michelle’s office in the White House, so after some redecorating, how is it possible that every seductive picture seen of her on social media will not mention her designers…in fact she already made a slight faux pas in that regard during their campaign, and how is it possible her clothing and design company and in fact that “blind trust” of the TRUMP name that she and her brothers will be running, how will it not profit from all that free advertising? I mean Daddy T won the highest office in the land, the greatest reality show on earth, with all his Tweeting and free advertising didn’t he? Oh and a little help from Comey and Putin. And then there’s the obvious co-mingling of private, for-profit and government:

“As with the defense industry and the financial industry, success on a large scale in real estate often depends on government connections. Tax incentives, licenses, and inspections come more easily that way. As Trump has said, explaining his contributions to Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaigns, ‘I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, and they are there for me.'” http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/08/22/ivanka-trump-and-jared-kushners-power-play

We have floors in Trump tower rented out to some very wealthy people in the world. Our Secret Service may have to rent out some more floors too just to protect Melania and the heir apparent. That’s you and me folks, paying protection money ie tax dollars for a constant penthouse presence. Forget our border, Mr T wants to build a sea wall in Ireland to protect one of his golf courses, but it will also eliminate a certain snail the Irish hold dear. His family ties to the most powerful political brokers in India and the Philippines run strong and deep.

In fact, the conflicts of interest on such a global scale are so vast and intertwined one has to think that Mr T really didn’t think this through; he never in a million years thought he would be elected! He’s got a hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue and now the gym behind the police station opened up and Jimmy the Greek and Slim from Scranton walked in with billions of dollars!

It’s a rather new predicament for our young country, and may demand the Congress vote all of this is just fine with them?! Otherwise I can see years ahead of all my fine Dems on the Hill trying to impeach the guy until it reaches the Supremes, who will most likely be veering to the right by that time. But at least it’s a fight over the very fabric of our country, and not a sexual peccadillo in the Oval. Oh the humanity!  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/26/us/politics/donald-trump-international-business.html

Tonight I’ll be heading out to dinner and a show with some friends. Naturally we’ll discuss the above and hope for a Hail Mary by the Electoral College on Monday because who could think having Putin meddle in our election is a good thing? You may have guessed already that Live Arts in Cville is doing Guys and Dolls. Democracy itself is one big messy crap shoot that Hamilton tried his best to salvage. I’m going to bet that Mindy’s sells more cheesecake, and Mr T has sold us out for 30 pieces of silver.

Take back your mink Mr T   5d87403da1fb0b5be31e86a0fc817033

 

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I’m living in a small sky blue speck, in a sea of blood red.

The Old Dominion voted for Hillary Clinton, as did most of the big cities and states on both coasts. But Trump’s clarion call swayed the majority of our electoral college, surprising my Democratic family and friends. Shocking me into a dystopian fugue state. Yesterday I actually felt like a zombie, which is to say I didn’t feel much. Great Grandma Ada asked me to explain it, and I had no words. My niece Lucia asked me what she should tell her daughters, and I had no words.

Whenever I am at a loss for words, I look to poetry, and so Bob Dylan came to mind given his recent Nobel Prize. I want to buy all his albums, in vinyl, and play them on an old fashioned record player, with a needle that gets stuck sometimes so you have to pick it up and put it down again. Because he spoke of the great divide, of the power elite who could send our boys to a swamp in Asia because our government, our country, thought we had God on our side. He called attention to the swath of red states, to the working class who today are called the vanishing middle class.

All those White people with no college degree, going nowhere, feeling left behind in the Rust Belt. One third of the Latinos who voted the GOP line, because they didn’t want anymore workers coming over here for free, taking their jobs. All those Evangelical Christians, who voted for the least Christ-like candidate our country ever saw fit to nominate. All those old men who could just never trust a woman to do a so-called man’s job protecting this country. All that free-floating fear and anger, don’t matter if he pops some Tic Tacs and kisses the hell outta you.

Many are brandishing their firearms, wishing the liberal elites take the next plane to Canada. Making false distinctions between love of country and government. I wonder how long it will take them to hate the new GOP government. Feeling self-righteous, they know not what they have done. But while our country is divided, the power players are smiling and gracious, talking about our democracy.

You don’t need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows.

Only time will tell what this “Historic” election means for Women, for the Undocumented, for Muslims, for the Climate. Our system isn’t rigged when a despot can win 279 electoral votes but not the popular vote, right; and the gerrymandering that flooded both houses on the Hill with red shall never be undone. Lobbyists are fleeing DC like rats from a ship.

But hark, the Dow is going up folks, because the Market hates uncertainty, so Wall Street must think they have a friend in this lustful Billionaire. After all, he could shoot someone and get away with it, he’s got God on his side! When President Obama shakes his hand on the White House porch today, I just may lose my lunch.

In a many dark hour
I’ve been thinkin’ about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can’t think for you
You’ll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.

The Groom told the Love Bug that, “Everybody gets a turn.” And even though we all thought this was Hillary’s turn, the people voted so now it’s Trump’s turn. And I would add the  biggest, loudest bully on the block will need to face Pocahontas, aka Senator Elizabeth Warren in four years, so we better get busy. The Boston Globe reported Warren saying: “I’m intensely frustrated by the apparent likelihood that, for the second time in five elections, a Democratic nominee will have won the popular vote but lost the presidency in the electoral college.” 

And just like Gore, I’m devastated. Just like McGovern and Humphrey, I’m feeling left behind. The wind is blowing brown oak leaves past my aviary window, circling and bobbing to their death, they are being tracked into the house. But the sun came up this morning. And my fingers found words again. img_5313

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What do you do to mourn? In the past, I’ve been known to bake a cake, a carrot cake. I also bake this cake to celebrate, so it’s an equal opportunity toasted coconut frosted masterpiece, if i do say so myself. I was taught early on by Ada, never send flowers, always bring food to the bereaved. I remember when Bob’s brother Dickie died, we called it the “never-ending fruit salad” since we received so many fruit baskets.

But after suffering through three miscarriages in one year, I felt compelled to de-clutter my life. If my own body wouldn’t cooperate, well then at least I could control something. I’m sure this has a psychological term, but I didn’t ask Dr Jim. I stripped away dead leaves on indoor plants, I scoured kitchen drawers for duplicate utensils. Normally housework wouldn’t interest me, but I became a regular housfrau.

Lately, I’ve been prone to prune more than plants. After downsizing to our Blue Ridge home, we had left some things undone. Beginning with Bob’s surgery I felt the need to pair down our possessions. To actually open those boxes in the basement that made it through two moves without being opened. Before the Paris massacre, we began to tackle our cluttered “unfinished” basement; this weekend we finished it.

We found some amazing things. Academic awards from the Rocker’s school days. The fairy tale I wrote for the Bride’s sorority.

Once upon a time, an ex-hippie ER doc married a feminist writer, a New Englander at heart, and a princess was born on Windsor Mountain. The baby had eyes as black as coal and skin as white as alabaster. A spring fed pond was the setting for her first foray into the wild…

I found the portfolios of both my adult children. The ancient ice-packing-sling-thing  Bob used after his shoulder surgery years ago showed up amid gear Bob used to keep in his plane’s hanger. The Piper Arrow that is missing his touch. The basement was functioning as a garage/archive of our life, but it was drowning in stuff!

Now we can breathe a little easier. This weekend our cousin in Richmond will be called to the Torah as a Bar Mitzvah. I will remember to be thankful we live in a country where police do not guard the doors of every synagogue. I remember when the Bride tried to enter a Temple in Paris for the High Holidays 15 years ago, and she was surrounded by police, they questioned her to see if she was really Jewish. She was tall and blonde, ‘she didn’t “look” Jewish.

They made her recite a prayer in Hebrew.

Is this what we must do with every Syrian refugee, interrogate every single one? Shall we make them wear a sign pinned to their sleeve that tells us who they are?

Jess Bob Tour Eiffel 20151117

 

 

 

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You’ve got to hand it to this Pope. This morning we hear he’d like all divorced Catholics to come back to the fold, opening up the possibility for bishops everywhere to debate the age-old practice of annulment, ie a Catholic divorce. Pope Francis actually called up a woman and told her she should come back to mass and receive the Sacrament.

But what didn’t make most network news feeds was the Pope’s recent encyclical on climate change. It actually took a Twitter exchange for me to come up to speed. Katherine Hayhoe, a climate scientist, recently spoke to a room full of Evangelical Conservative leaders in Portland, all men, in order to enlighten them – or school them I was thinking as I read her Tweet.

Last year, Hayhoe was named one of Time’s Hundred Most Influential People. She is a young professor at Texas Tech, who hails from Canada. She has worked on Showtime’s science documentary, Years of Living Dangerously, and she coauthored a book, “A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions” with her pastor husband. She combines her  knowledge of fact-based science with her evangelical faith – a powerful if paradoxical combination. And this is how she wove the Pope’s message into her talk on Climate Change: http://collegevilleinstitute.org/bearings/climate-change-evangelicals-and-the-pope/?utm_campaign=coschedule&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=CollegevilleIns&utm_content=Climate%20Change

First she told them about how the poor will suffer disproportionately in the future. Compassion for the most vulnerable among us, I’m sure, resonated well in that room last month.

Peppered frequently throughout the Pope’s encyclical are references to the “poor.” For example, in the section on water Francis addresses “water poverty” (¶28), the “quality of water available to the poor” (¶29), and the world’s “grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water” (¶30). Evangelicals would have little difficulty affirming words like these: “It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted” (¶91).

Hayhoe’s second point, however, may not have struck the same chord. “Free Market Economic Policies Will Not Solve Climate Change!” That almost bears repeating..it harkens back to Obama’s redistribution speech. In other words folks, capitalism won’t cure climate change. Did we hear one comment on this topic at the Trump Show and Debate? Remember, that Donald Show that has devolved into silly sexist semantics. Evangelicals everywhere, who are mostly GOP/Conservative/Christians, will most likely cringe at the Papal challenge to free market economics of the privileged few and their worship of private property..

“In order to uphold “the fundamental rights of the poor and the underprivileged,” Francis puts forward the “principle of the subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods, and thus the right of everyone to their use” (¶93).” The Pope also called for “…a new dialogue” and “a conversation that includes everyone” (¶14); later, he underscores “true wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounters between persons” (¶47).

Dare we dream to find consensus between Progressive/Feel the Bern/Hillary supporters and the ten men on stage the other night? Only John Kasich, who went to a friend’s gay wedding, seemed to speak from the heart and embody the compassionate conservative viewpoint. If anyone might start that dialogue, I’m betting on Hayhoe. But first, the bloody hands that take money from the NRA, and/or oil and gas companies, need to be washed Lady MacBeth style.

Out, damned spot! out, I say!–One: two: why,
then, ’tis time to do’t.–Hell is murky!–Fie, my 40
lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we
fear who knows it, when none can call our power to
account?–Yet who would have thought the old man
to have had so much blood in him.

Somali refugees displaced by flooding - Getty Image

Somali refugees displaced by flooding – Getty Image

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