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Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

This week, we ate lunch inside a coffee shop! The Frothy Monkey is a Nashville staple, so I went big and ordered a rosemary latte to go with my avo toast. We were surrounded by 20-somethings on laptops, all socially distanced under a soaring ceiling. All mask-less. We felt like we were living on the edge – this was only the second time we tried eating within a restaurant, not just taking-out or dining en plein air, in 20 months.

It’s been 10 days since we received the Moderna booster. Although I was a bit achy, Bob felt fine, except for the thrashing the Democrats took on Tuesday. Our two beloved states, New Jersey and Virginia. NJ, the place where we fell in love, and VA the place where we built our first home and I started this blog looking out at the Blue Ridge. I couldn’t watch the returns, but we called Cousin Anita in Richmond to get the inside scoop.

It would seem McAuliffe misspoke, or maybe he just told the truth, and that’s what tanked him. He basically said that parents don’t write the curriculum, schools do…. which is true. Have you ever written a semester course on biosynthesis? But the spin from his opponent was all about parental control.

During an appearance on Meet the Press Sunday morning, Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe claimed that his statement at a recent debate against Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin that parents shouldn’t be involved in their children’s school curriculum received applause and support. When host Chuck Todd steered the discussion to parents objecting to inappropriate and politicized assigned books and materials, McAuliffe defended his comment at the debate, in which he said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

https://www.yahoo.com/now/mcauliffe-claims-everybody-clapped-argued-172127281.html

He doubled down.

When I first attended a school board meeting in NJ, I made the mistake of raising my hand. Little did I know that when you raise your hand, you get the job. I had something to say about their health classes, and it wasn’t good. If you know me, you know I didn’t mind them teaching my kids about birth control; the problem was what they weren’t teaching. They’d had no instruction on substance abuse and addiction. And I remember the look of bewilderment on the school board members’ faces, you know they had paid for some “Say No to Drugs” suitcase right, filled with materials…. and I said that may be true but my kids haven’t heard one iota…

until the board president said,”Oh, so you mean you want parents to be partners with us?”

I get where Terry McAuliffe was coming from, I really do. You don’t want parents to dictate a course on the Christian Bible in a public school, or to demand that their kids NOT wear a mask in the middle of a global pandemic. You don’t want parents threatening school board members. Thirty years ago, if a parent objected to a health class section dealing with birth control, they could opt their kids out. That little paper was among the hundreds of “first day of school papers,’ like the one giving the school permission to take their children on field trips.

But what the Republicans did in this last election is unconscionable. They want to ban a book by Toni Morrison. They took a college-level class about Critical Race Theory (CRT), and whipped up racist sentiment. They’d like to keep the Confederate Myth alive. The GOP would not want schools to write their own history curriculum – the party of ‘states rights’ promised parents that they were in control, that learning about slavery isn’t age-appropriate. Although every middle school curriculum includes a Holocaust segment

CRT is a non-existent, non-starter, Trojan horse of a curriculum that doesn’t even exist in elementary schools. Surprise, they made it up. The party that lies together under their orange leader, may just take back some power.

It’s time for that Blue Wave to get smart and start fighting. Voting rights and our entire planet are on the line; enough about so-called social issues and sports and bathrooms. This is an old playbook, distract and defend. We need a hero or a shero right about now, before our slide into authoritarianism is complete.

These wild and crazy days deserve discipline and courage! Bob and I are planning to go to our first movie next week in almost two years! Probably a matinee, but still. And in better breaking news, the Grands will get their first Covid vaccine this weekend. Are they too young to see the new Bond “No Time to Die” film in surround sound and technicolor?

Baby Yoda

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Is it International Mental Health Day or International Coming Out Day? Am I supposed to put my favorite picture of my son or my daughter on Instagram? Wait, Melinda Gates posted her Kindergarten picture with hashtag, #thislittlegirlisme on Twitter because it’s the International Day of the Girl. Can I even find my Kindergarten picture?

Phew, I just remembered it’s Columbus Day! When I was a young camper at Camp St Joseph for Girls, we would occasionally have sing-offs in the dining hall. We didn’t call them “sing-offs” then, it was just a part of our competitive culture – the Irish would belt out a Celtic ballad, and then the Italians would respond with something Romanesque, like “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!”

Today, statues of Christopher Columbus have started toppling over almost as often as Confederate generals.

If I were of Italian descent would I be OK with this happening? I wonder if it might be akin to stripping away all public notions of St Patrick or John F Kennedy. Hindsight is never kind to conquerors; and so the Italian sailor who spotted the Bahamas at least half a millennium after Leif Eriksson first landed in North America is suffering from historical and moral context.

Out of 170 Columbus monuments scattered across our country, only 40 have been taken down so far. We still have a big parade today in NYC. But did the great explorer “discover” or “invade” North America? We never learned about his treatment of Native Americans in school.

For Mahtowin Munro, an Indigenous rights activist, these symbols represent historical violence. “Celebrating Columbus is intended to erase us and ultimately is celebrating our genocide,” said Munro, who co-leads the United American Indians of New England. ”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/interactive/2021/christopher-columbus-monuments-america-map/?itid=hp-top-table-main

Now I don’t want to sound conservative at all, but after reading that the Charlottesville, VA City Council ordered the removal of the Lewis and Clark statue in a roundabout, I was pissed. I loved that statue, and not just because it had one of the only public renderings of a Native woman. I always knew I was close to the historic downtown mall when I saw it, also that’s when Bob told me that all statues in the South have their backs to the North.

But because the Meriwether Lewis and William Clark guide Sacagawea was depicted in a crouching position at the feet of the two men, Native people said they felt she looked “cowering.” Historians have said her position signified “tracking,” since she was hired along with her husband, carrying her baby, as a guide and translator for the westward expedition. And YES to giving Sacagawea her very own statue!

It just depends on what perspectacles you happen to be wearing. Should we take down every statue of a president who owned slaves? Should we the people demolish someone’s good work because maybe they had a mistress? Would FDR have liked seeing himself depicted in a wheelchair, probably not. Does your religious iconography need to be all over our money?

The answer is sometimes we can go too far.

Pizza of the week with Bob’s eggplant and pablano peppers

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Anyone else trying to figure out why the Democrats are fighting among themselves?

Is it just two recalcitrant Senators – the gentleman from West Virginia and the gentlelady from Arizona, or is it a deeper flaw in our system of government? Ms Sinema refused to raise the minimum wage to $15, and didn’t mind letting the filibuster stand, to the chagrin of voting rights activists. She seems less a centrist and more a self-serving obstructionist.

While we released the Love Bug’s butterflies last week, I was hopeful President Biden’s Build Back Better plan along with the Reconciliation Bill would sail through the Senate. Call me a cockeyed optimist. Sure none of the Republicans want our government to work, but just maybe, maybe we could get universal pre-K, ’cause who doesn’t love toddlers? Plus, data shows an inverse relationship with early childhood education and prison… but Mr Manchin is afraid we could become an “entitlement country.”

In fact, most European countries are happy to provide certain safety nets for the poor, along with all their citizens. New parents in most European countries receive paid leave from six months to a year, and then have state-funded daycare provided for their children. Some countries increase the number of paid months as the number of babies are born in a family. But maybe the GOP wants women to stay at home, barefoot and pregnant, and deliver children for adoption if they cannot afford to care for them.

“Does the flap of a butterfly’s wing in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?”

Maybe the Texas heartbeat bill started off in Brazil; I feel like I’m living in one big butterfly blizzard!

The first thing to understand is that “The Butterfly Effect” is just a metaphor for a field of mathematics called Chaos Theory.  Chaos Theory is, in effect, the science of surprises, the nonlinear and the unpredictable. The theory teaches anyone who learns it that we should come to expect the unexpected.

https://interestingengineering.com/what-exactly-is-the-butterfly-effect

After flying sideways on our deck last week, I’ve come to expect the unexpected. Maybe it was my first Year of Living Dangerously, but I always operate under the assumption that life is full of surprises; that man plans and God laughs. A recently reunited fraternal cousin mentioned how great it would have been if we’d grown up together in Scranton, in one big happy family.

If my father hadn’t developed a glioblastoma and the Flapper’s car hadn’t collided with a drunk driver… We were lucky that FDR had passed a bill for aid to dependent children, since the Flapper had six. That was 1949. Our social welfare system is in desperate need of repair today.

When we dig deeper into the reasons certain red states are afraid of a tiny slip into socialism, of an increase in taxes, of the awful ‘redistribution of wealth,’ while other democracies around the world have embraced universal health care, free college and paid family leave for instance, we find a disturbing insight according to the Brookings Institution:

“…we discuss reciprocal altruism as a possible behavioral explanation for redistribution. Reciprocal altruism implies that voters will dislike giving money to the poor if, as in the United States, the poor are perceived as lazy. In contrast, Europeans overwhelmingly believe that the poor are poor because they have been unfortunate. Racial discord plays a critical role in determining beliefs about the poor…”

https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2001/06/2001b_bpea_alesina.pdf

Well, I’m certainly NOT surprised that our national wound of slavery factors into this fight. Good luck Madame Speaker, wear a butterfly pin today in the halls of Congress.

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I’ve been thinking about New Zealand lately. Bob mentioned something in passing that is now stuck in my brain like a never ending podcast; do you know how many COVID deaths, how many TOTAL people have died from this virus on Prime Minister Jacinda Arden’s watch? 26

TWENTY SIX

“Going hard and early has worked for us before,” Arden said as she announced another lockdown because ONE citizen in Auckland has tested positive and she is assuming it’s the new Delta variant.

We have seen what can happen elsewhere if we fail to get on top of it. We only get one chance.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-58241619

New Zealand is an island of nearly 5 Million people and their public health response to Covid-19 was not only rapid, it was comprehensive including contact tracing and enforced quarantine. Now schools, offices and businesses will close for one week in any region the infected patient happened to visit.

There was no denial, no delusional thinking. There was no TRY for New Zealand, there is only DO. In a country with a mere 20% of its population vaccinated, it had been COVID free for nearly six months!

That’s one third of this pandemic time capsule, they actually had been going out, eating in and basically partying like it’s 1999, or at least 2019. It’s as if the rest of the world got sucked into a wormhole, and New Zealanders did the right and proper things to survive.

Are Kiwis just more altruistic than us? Do they not follow algorithms down meerkat holes of conspiracy nonsense? My theory is not that they are so much smarter, it s all about leadership. Particularly the orange clown show early on, the guy who wanted to end our never ending wars. Remember him? The media can focus on Biden’s handling of our withdrawal from Afghanistan, but I’m trying to muster up the courage to ‘change the things I can.’

Being married to an ER doc has its disadvantages. Bob likes to remind me that we’re all on a slow steady stream to the grave. I’m in a perpetual state of decline, my vision is getting worse and my hearing will most likely be next, either before or after some joint replacement. I have a wonderful physical therapist on speed dial, or should I say my list of favorites?

But for all his candid talk of death and dying, these COVID numbers are staggering. The USA has lost more than 622,000 souls to this disease. The US population is a little over 330 Million. We’ve lost 2 out of every thousand people.

New Zealand has lost 26 souls to this disease. The New Zealand population is about five million people. They’ve lost 5 out of every MILLION people. Relative to that island nation’s population, we have lost 400 times as many people!

So let’s not compare Afghanistan deaths to Vietnam deaths or Civil War deaths or any other totally useless wars because this COVID death count is going up again. And we squandered our chance to stop it. We were slow and stupid at first, and now we’re just, ummm, misinformed?

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You just can’t make this stuff up. Thanks Ana Navarro-Cardenas for reminding me of last week’s highlights cause you know, I didn’t watch the RNC rally at the White House this week.

  • “Bannon indicted for swindling Trump’s base
  • Trump ordered to pay Stormy’s legal fees
  • Trump’s niece recorded the sister saying he’s a cruel, phony, liar
  • Conway Family saga (see previous post)
  • Now, Jerry Falwell says his wife had an affair w/the pool boy (while he watched)”

And just to cap this wonderful week off, I managed to lift a very heavy box of paint – don’t ask – and now even my elbows are hurting. Lest I forget, yesterday was yet another Tornado Warning complete with sirens. If this pandemic/political/hurricane season isn’t depressing enough, I thought you’d like to hear the rest of the Flapper’s essay on the Great Depression!

To recap – It was 1935, my Mother put yellow food coloring in Crisco and called it butter. My Father was making $7 a week!

“Clothes were hard to come by, and each of my children had only two pairs of shoes, one for the wintertime and one for the summertime (and that was during a good year). I made a schedule of household chores for me to do all day. First, I would feed my children, and send Shirley and Brian off to school.

Then on Mondays, I would do the laundry (by hand on a washboard, since we had no washing machine). and hang it out to dry on the line. On Tuesdays I would iron the clothes. Wednesdays I’d clean the upstairs of the house, and Thursdays the downstairs. Fridays, I would bake for the weekend and do any shopping that needed to be done. Saturdays were my only free days, and Sundays we’d all go to church and our relatives would come over for dinner and a good game of cards.

On March 4, 1933 Franklin D Roosevelt became President! He was the answer to the prayers of the people, and the best president this country has ever had. Even to this day, there is a picture of him hanging in my kitchen, right next to the picture of Jesus Christ. I do not like to imagine what would have happened had it not been for President Roosevelt.

In 1935 Bob finally got a better paying job – $25 a week!! However it was in Jamestown, New York, so he had to move out there.It cost him $10 to rent a room and buy food etc. Back home in Scranton, we received $15 a week. A BIG improvement from the $7 we had been getting. In April, when I had my son Michael, Bob was not able to come home to see him. Soon after his birth however, my husband luckily found an even better paying job… and it was at home in Scranton! We were overjoyed to have him living with us, and to have $35 a week.

It sounds funny now, but we thought we were rich!

Life during the Great Depression was hard. I’m not quite sure how we were able to do it, but we did. We were lucky not to have lost everything, like some of my friends did. I think that our society to day has made it all too easy and normal to throw things away. Why throw away socks with holes when you can mend them? Why throw away food when you can save it for another time? People today are too wasteful. 

If anything good did come out of the Depression, it taught me not to waste things, because you never know when you could lose it all.”

We all know what we’ve got to lose in the next election.

117798784_10217413107015876_4439153772228939625_n

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Have you ever heard strange sounds in the middle of the night? Not like squirrels in the chimney, or mice in the walls. And not like thunder and lightning followed by a deranged dog trying to crawl under your bed. More like footsteps out on your porch at 4 am?

Well, that’s how our weekend began. Someone was clomping around on our porch – but let’s start from the very beginning.

On Friday I really wanted to see the Groom. We’d called, texted and Zoomed and Facetimed, but he was finally out of the Tower and back in the bosom of his family. I had to make sure he was doing well and warn the Bride not to expect too much; he needed to rest after all. Covid can take a lot out of a person. I mean just walking to the mailbox could be exhausting.

But you can’t keep a good man down for long because on Friday he had already been teaching the Love Bug how to ride a bike, setting up their “tiny school” at home, and then he took the dogs on a 30 minute walk! So I rewarded my Son-in-Law’s enthusiasm with a big plate of chicken parmigiana that night. As we were leaving, the Bride began to take the Grands blood for a study at the university.

We have at-home kits to take blood, but not to test for this virus?

As we drove home from our socially distanced dinner on their front porch, we passed a long Catholic parade on the streets of Germantown. An official Bishop-type led dozens of priests and altar boys carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary adorned with flowers, there were at least a hundred people following the procession – the Assumption of Mary. Many of the women wore a lacey head covering, but virtually nobody wore a mask. Everyone was singing!

As I opened the car window and looked on adoringly, thinking about all those years at a Catholic camp singing with nuns in the woods on our way to a grotto, Bob yelled, “Wear a damn mask!” breaking the spell.

And that was the night, or actually early the next morning, we heard the intruder on our porch. Bob immediately went downstairs and I immediately thought to myself, “My phone is plugged in downstairs, what if I need to call 911…”

Then I heard Bob’s voice, he was talking to somebody. Prompting Ms Bean to leave her cozy bed, she led the way downstairs; so much for our little guard dog, she never uttered a peep, not a growl or a bark! Bob had already locked the door and sent a young man, who was surely a drunk tourist, on his way.

“What did you say?” I asked him.

“I asked him what he thought he was doing here,” Bob said. Sometimes the NJ vibe just cannot be contained. I was stunned. What if he had a gun? What if What if What if…..

Once before, in the Blue Ridge, a large van pulled up to our house at around midnight. Bob got up and looked out the window to see an elderly man standing there, putting on a jacket. We opened the front door and the man said, “We’re here for Mr Young.” Now Mr Young was actually an older gentleman farmer and former UVA professor who lived down our country road a piece, and he had died in his sleep. The van was from the Cremation Society of Virginia.

Would it be wrong to say how relieved we were – that the van wasn’t coming for us? We were living on 14 acres in the middle of a forest, still Bob wasn’t scared. And he had no fear in the wee hours before daybreak on Saturday, in fact, he went back to sleep! While I stayed up replaying all the different scenarios in my head. Maybe we should move out of the city? Should we start looking for a beach house, again?

When in doubt, cook! Yesterday I sent Bob to Whole Foods for tahini because the Insta people voted on Baba Ganoush as an appetizer. Although zucchini season was done, Bob’s elegant Japanese eggplants were just getting started. I haven’t made this yummy hummus-like spread since the 70s and it was a major hit at our party for two.

How many lives do we humans get? I survived a car accident in 1949, the Groom survived Covid in 2020. I wonder if our democracy will survive this political pandemic season.

IMG_8108

 

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As we were driving home from Florida yesterday, we heard on the news that bars would no longer be serving alcoholic drinks. One night we had pulled our golf cart up to an outside bar on Santa Rosa Beach; there was only one other person placing a To-Go order. She didn’t have a mask on, so our brave Bride kept her distance, and managed to walk away with margaritas for the house – some with and some without alcohol.

I wonder what Florida bars will be serving up now, or will they switch to BYO? Will people still crowd into dark, beer-reeking bars – will they flirt and laugh and cough on one another?

The funny thing is, maybe one in ten people were wearing masks in the Panhandle. In fact, during one golf cart trip I was sitting in the back facing traffic and forgot I had my hand-made, purple batik mask on. Cars, our house, the early morning beach and golf carts were considered mask-free-zones for our little quaranteam… anyplace else, like ordering ice cream or drinks outside on patios the mask came on! We didn’t go to restaurants.

But sitting there, in the back of our little cart, masked with the L’il Pumpkin, who also had his fun Star Wars mask on, I was aware of people staring at us.  And it wasn’t a smiley stare, like “Aw, look at that Nana and her cute redheaded grandson!” Nope, it was more like, “What are you people doing here?” Someone actually hollered something hostile to us. I guess they didn’t think we could exercise our constitutional right to stay alive?

Congratulations Florida. Today you set a record for one day of additional Covid infections – 9,585 cases.

In the very middle of our drive, in Alabama, Bob and I happened to listen to this administration’s long overdue propaganda report on radio CNN. No wait, it was called a presser of the White House Coronavirus Task Force brought to us by the Department of Health and Human Services. I happened to be driving during a white-out downpour, but I’m pretty sure I NEVER heard Pence (or anyone else) mention the word “mask.” The word Pollyanna jumped to mind.

“But it was also clear that Pence remains locked in a mindset that downplays all bad news about the pandemic. When confronted with the growing death count, he likes to point out the daily total of dead Americans is lower than it was once. When discussing the rise in cases, he said, “Roughly half of the new cases are Americans under the age of 35, which is at a certain level very encouraging news,” because the disease is less deadly for younger people. He avoids the idea that states are experiencing spikes and prefers to discuss localized “outbreaks.” https://www.politico.com/newsletters/politico-nightly-coronavirus-special-edition/2020/06/26/pence-and-the-power-of-positive-thinking-489656

Like the Flapper, Pence must be a big believer in positive thinking. His advice was to pray more, which was laughable except for the fact that he means it. In response to a reporter’s questions about masks, he talked about our constitutional freedom to assemble with or without a “face covering.”  Even the word “mask” is verboten.

Well our Mayor Cooper has taken over the reins in Nashville. Last night, Metro Nashville was debating whether to mandate masks! And lo and behold, masks WON! By tomorrow at 5pm, our personal responsibility for the health and lives of our neighbors will trump (HA) our individual liberty to have your face unmasked. For a Republican state, TN has grown in my affection. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2020/06/26/nashville-require-face-masks-public-coroanvirus-spreads/3266522001/

Here is an old picture of the Bride at Berkshire Medical Center’s ER; she looks to be about the same age as the L’il Pumpkin. Bob was the director of this teaching hospital. On Monday, the Bride will return to her work wearing an N95 mask, treating everybody and anybody who enters her ER. It seems like it was yesterday that she posed for this health  magazine shoot.

If you can’t wear a mask to protect your own loved ones, wear one for mine please.IMG_4843

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Like the phases of the moon, our country has slowly moved from embracing conservative, anti- (big)-government ideology toward a more socialist democracy, and back again. In the 18th Century, we threw off the mantle of a king, and instituted checks and balances with our elected leaders in Congress. It was working pretty well for awhile and our political ship was trending toward starboard.

Then in 1994, Newt Gingrich happened.

Wanting to bring back orphanages was actually not a part of Newt’s “Contract with America,” he was just “thinking aloud.” Wanting to build more prisons and give tax breaks to millionaires was! He started complaining about “big media,” and comparing Democrats to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sound familiar?

“The states’ main fear is that if the federal government could not legally run a deficit, it would simply pass on safety, environmental, health, and other obligations to the states, without giving them the money to pay for new programs. Congress’s habit of enacting “unfunded mandates” has been the major strain on state budgets in the last decade. A federal balanced-budget amendment would likely make it worse.”

His nightmare scenario has come true, Mr T passes on everything, including his responsibility, in this public health emergency to the states. When I watched Gov Andrew Cuomo in his  daily presser, complain about having to get in a bidding war with other states just to acquire life-saving PPE and ventilators, I thought we were deranged… and when he said FEMA would jump in and UP the price even more, I knew we were deranged and possibly doomed.

I remembered reporting on Rumson Borough Council meetings in the 90s, how this Republican group of mostly old, white men waxed on about unfunded federal mandates. They choked at the idea. And just the other day, Mitch McConnell (a modern day Newt) told states to declare bankruptcy??

This morning I found this article about a billionaire enlightening in a creepy way. How does American capitalism work, how should business work; for the greater good, or for their investors’ greater bank accounts?  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/28/business/coronavirus-marc-benioff-salesforce.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage

In a nutshell, The Chancellor of the University of California San Francisco could see the writing on the wall in early March. Cases of Covid were starting to skyrocket and he knew his medical center’s supply of PPE was low. So he called his buddy, the billionaire and “hyper-connected” donor, Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce.

“…that phone call set off a frenzied effort by Mr. Benioff and his team that drew in major companies like FedEx, Walmart, Uber and Alibaba. In a matter of weeks, Mr. Benioff’s team spent more than $25 million to procure more than 50 million pieces of protective equipment. Fifteen million units have already been delivered to hospitals, medical facilities and states, and more are on the way.

The relative ease with which Salesforce acquired so much protective gear stands in sharp contrast to the often chaotic government efforts. While states have had to compete against each other for scarce supplies and the strategic national stockpile of protective gear is depleted, Mr. Benioff and his team simply called up their business partners in China and started writing checks.”

 

Some might call Mr Benioff a saint, but while I found his actions altruistic, I was concerned that our country had to depend on his beneficence. Do we live in a democracy with a small “d” or is this an oligarchy, or a kleptocracy?

I sent a box of Lysol wipes and Formula 409 out to the Rocker and Aunt Kiki in LA last week, and somebody stole most of the contents en route. We are making masks in our kitchen and we can’t find disinfectant wipes, but Benioff can find a warehouse full of N95 masks from China in LA? To make matters worse, Republicans are still trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/03/republicans-could-kill-obamacare-in-the-middle-of-coronavirus-recovery

As our quarantine wanes piecemeal, state by state, we must remember this time in history when governors had to beg to save peoples’ lives.

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Sure, I was bullied as a kid. But that one boy who tripped me up on my bike, when I fell and broke my arm, I got back at him. I pushed an ice cream cone right in his face, and I don’t remember being bullied ever again. Well, except by a teacher.

Over sushi I was telling the Grands about Catholic school. How we had to sit still with our hands folded in front of us all the time. One teacher made me stand in the corner for half a day, luckily she didn’t have a dunce hat. “Why,” they wanted to know.

“Because I was talking to a boy!”

And I swear, we all broke out in belly laughs. One of the worst moments in my young life seemed pretty comical now. I mean shaming a child, it just doesn’t compute or translate well in today’s world, or maybe it does?

I’ve been having an ‘on and off’ conversation with the Love Bug and the L’il Pumpkin about “bad people” ever since someone stole my wallet while we were having lunch at Panera. What should we do if we have to confront a bad person. Their parents have been telling them that everybody is good, that you turn and walk away from a confrontation, and I get that. You don’t want to color their young minds with horror stories – and yet, they already hate Mr T cause, well, we ALL do.

I was thinking about this after the Democratic debates in Atlanta. I was surprised at how much I like Andrew Yang. He seemed to be the only authentic person up on that stage, like he was talking to me. When he spoke about looking our kids and Grands in the eye, and leaving them a better future, when he shared that he had an autistic child, when he talked about keeping America safe:

While it was well into the debate before Yang spoke, his answers about some of the threats to American society once again, brought new ideas to the debate stage. Artificial intelligence, which he’s mentioned in previous debates, is a future threat that must be taken seriously. And setting up something like a WTO (World Trade Organization) for data? His ingenuity was astounding. Bold ideas suit Yang well — and, when well thought out and pragmatic, they get high points in a debate.  https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/21/opinions/buttigieg-yang-stole-the-show-debate-opinion-graham/index.html

A WTO for Data?!?! I mean, AI is coming, along with the Russians and China, and will we be ready for it? Then the Rocker sent me an article about Yang;  “As President, I will establish a Department of the ATTENTION Economy,” https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/18/perspectives/andrew-yang-technology/index.html

He wants to study what social media is doing to our kids. It’s like “Back to the Future,” will they become (expletive) or something? My kids didn’t have smart phones growing up, tech was in its infancy, email was a new thing. And the Grands don’t have a tablet or phone or anything YET; but they DO use tablets in school and see everyone else around them staring down into their hands. The Love Bug recently asked her Dad if they could have a “Device-Free” day because she’d heard about this from her teachers.

A young mind can become addicted faster than our old brains want to believe. And social media is simply another method for bullies to do what they do best – shame and humiliate. A 12 year old girl in Nashville just committed suicide after being bullied mercilessly. How many “followers” do you have? Did you see that picture of so-and-so on Insta?

Remember how inadequate you felt your Freshman year in high school?  Well, add a few years of comparing yourself to others on top of that. I walked straight outta Catholic school into a public high school, and was lucky to find a bunch of nerdy, pre-college kids to welcome me.

Running around the neighborhood on my bike was pretty care-free in comparison to today, even if a bully thought he could hurt me, I didn’t let him define me. I got even. My not-so-polite message is not to run away from a fight, not to make excuses for someone’s bad behavior. My Grands will eventually meet up with a real “bad person,” they will eventually have a smart phone in their hands or maybe a piece of Borg machinery hard-wired directly into their skulls.

Should we employ algorithms to cap a child’s screen time per day, or just boot them out the door to play? We are experiencing a “GLOBAL epidemic” of childhood inactivity, what do you think? https://www.bbc.com/news/health-50466061

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I was talking with Great Grandma Ada this morning and I mentioned that disrespect, or its evil cousin “contempt,” is a most toxic part of some marriages. I figured this marriage counselor had seen her fair share of marital discord over the years. We started off discussing how Pompeo is holding Congress in “contempt” by refusing to hand over documents relating to our President’s abuse of power in Ukraine, and now VP Pence has joined this “League of Sycophantic Gentlemen Eager to Ignore a Subpoena!” 

Ada pivoted immediately from politics to personality. She told me how she had always wanted to do a study of newlyweds, specifically of videos detailing how they handled the whole wedding cake situation. I blurted out, “Oh, you mean did they smash a piece of cake into each other’s mouth?”

“Yes,” she said, she could usually predict if a relationship was going to last by the way they fed each other cake on their wedding day.

Nine years ago, my reluctant Bride was having nothing resembling a huge, monstrous, wedding cake at her ceremony in an apple orchard. No, she chose cupcakes that would be named after her dogs – Bailey’s Irish Cream and Guiness’ Dark Chocolate – and since we didn’t have an MC to set aside a special time for cutting a cake, guests were served their tiny sweets during the reception on a rooftop downtown. I added small maple sugar candies, the kind the Bride loved as a child in the Berkshires.

They went so fast, I’m not sure if the Bride and Groom even tasted them?

Their marriage has grown into a mutually supportive, loving and respectful partnership. Getting along with your partner in the good times is easy; but getting along through grueling residencies and fellowships, punctuated even now by weeks of MICU on-call-endless nights and emergency phone calls, takes commitment and courage to a new level.

Ada brought up Melania Trump, how she slapped her husband’s hand away. I mentioned a recent video montage of world leaders looking disgusted and appalled at Mr T’s remarks. What are the signs of contempt?

“Here’s some common signs that contempt is underlying the negative tone in a conversation.  Eye-rolling suggests contempt.  An upper lip raised on one side suggests contempt.  So does a sarcastic tone of voice.  Beware if you have these habits, and also if you have been on the receiving end of these negative communications. They are sure signs that someone is not listening or listening to deprecate you (or you to deprecate your partner), not to gain understanding.

Empathy and contempt are polar opposites.  Empathy involves caring about others feelings and concerns.  Contempt is arrogant (“I know best”) disregard, dismissal and denigration of others’ concerns.  Empathy nurtures relationship bonds; contempt invites relationship and marriage problems.”  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201303/how-contempt-destroys-relationships

Will House Democrats have the WILL (I was going to write a different word, but after having to look up “BLANK Strap” thinking Mr T meant “boot strap” which he didn’t, I thought the less coarsening of language the better) to impeach? What will it take for this League of Sycophants to release the documents desired so that articles of impeachment may be served? Will they claim executive privilege once again? Shall we remain a sovereign state? These old white men are in contempt of court and we are a nation of laws. Straight jackets have come to mind.

Meanwhile, here is the Love Bug learning how to decorate a cake. It’s up to us to model  empathy, to teach kindness.

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