no place like home…

Another submission as guest columnist for my local newspaper…

No place like home

Location! Location! Location! Not only is it good for resale value, it’s also great when you’re returning home after enjoying dream vacations in Paris, Hawaii or California. Of course, we never set out looking for homes with that in mind, but lucky for us it just worked out that way.

When we left Hawaii in our mid-twenties to seek fame and fortune in the Big Apple, it was always exciting to return to its hustle and bustle after some down time with family back home. The same was true when we moved to Garden City, Long Island and then Redding, Connecticut. Each had its own charm to match what we’d left behind in the islands. It was always easier to reacclimate since on the mainland where we lived, the flora and fauna was equally breathtaking, and the four seasons were an exciting change from Hawaii’s never-ending summer.

Here in Issaquah, we continue to count ourselves fortunate, knowing others would trade places with us in a heartbeat. Dwelling at the foot of the mountains, surrounded by majestic evergreens, wildlife roaming nearby is Mother Nature at her finest. Washington is so different from Hawaii, and yet they share the same attraction for visitors who are sometimes swayed to make these destinations their homes.

Good friends of ours have traveled the world over, sometimes visiting countries off-the-beaten-track. In fact, they’re the only ones we know who have been to Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands, Mongolia, Vietnam and Cuba. Of course, they’ve journeyed to the more popular spots as well…Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, among others. They’ve even been to a few more than once, like India and Australia. France is a special favorite, as Paris was where they honeymooned more than 50 years ago.

I so admire these friends for their youthful energy and love of adventure. In fact, my husband and I often marvel at their many forays to foreign lands. It’s not unusual for them to do two or three trips abroad annually. God bless them for their get-up-and-go.

Having worked in the travel industry our entire careers, my husband and I lost our get-up-and-go when airport security measures took on a life of their own, and airlines started packing us in like sardines without the benefit of oil for lubrication.

I know for a fact that our world traveling friends love returning home to Issaquah. They’ve been long-time residents and ongoing contributors to the community, having served in public office and continually volunteering.

These days it takes me a bit longer to warm up to flying. Anywhere. However, since that’s the only way I’ll see my daughter in the east and extended family in Hawaii, I’ll take my place right alongside all the other “sardines” and squirm my way to and from.

Like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” I’m always glad to get home after a whirlwind vacation. I’m sure you’ll agree, there is no place comfier. There really is…NO PLACE LIKE HOME.

…wherever home is.

………hugmamma.

 

 

moms’ love knows no bounds…

Following is my guest column submission for my local newspaper…

Moms’ love knows no bounds

A belated Happy Mother’s Day to all those answering to the job description of “mom.” Of course, the list of expectations flexes daily depending upon circumstances. I’m sure all who serve in that capacity would agree that there’s nothing a mom wouldn’t attempt to do if the need arose. And if mom can’t do it, she’ll still make sure it’s done, by hiring out.

My call to motherhood came late. Sixteen years into marriage, I finally joined my 3 sisters and 16 sisters-in-law in a sorority from which, up until then, I’d been excluded. In fact, I was so clueless, I went to my doctor complaining of flu-like symptoms. I don’t know why he thought to run a pregnancy test first. When he phoned with the results he asked if I was sitting down.

That’s the last time I got to sit down on the job. Thirty-one years later, I’m no closer to retiring from the best position for which I’ve ever been hired.

The most rewarding accolades I could ever receive are from those I hold most dear, my husband, daughter and new son-in-law.

Along with a beautiful bouquet of pink roses and white hydrangeas, daisies, stock and lilies were, in part, the following words in a note from my daughter and her husband. “We’re so grateful for everything you’ve done for us and continue to do. You’re an amazing mom and woman! We love you!”  

In a Mother’s Day card from my hubby of 47 years, he wrote “Your daughter is the living example of how a child develops with a great mom.”

What makes these words especially poignant is that I survived a childhood with a mother who struggled with her own demons. She raised 9 of us the best way she could after my father died. I never knew him; he died when I was one.

We often forget that moms, and dads, were once children themselves. We are the end results of parenting, good, so-so and not-so-good. To be fair to our parents, we have to remember that they were also the products of others’ parenting. Add to that generational, cultural and societal aspects relevant to when we are born, and we must admit it’s difficult to blame parents for the whole of our lives.

There are so many good folks to whom we can turn as good, even great, role models. I was extremely fortunate in that regard. Growing up without a dad meant I looked to men who filled the bill…the family doctor, my best friend’s father and my father-in-law. They treated me the way I’d want to have been treated by my dad had he lived.

I know from experience that we can never have too many folks rooting for us. That’s why my heart fills to overflowing when other moms tell me they love my daughter. Knowing that she will be sustained by their love when I die is the ultimate gift.

God bless all moms.

…and that includes all of you, moms, too.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

silver lining…

As a guest columnist for our local newspaper, my writing is featured under the heading…Sprinkled with Humor.

Please enjoy my latest submission…

Silver Lining

For most of us, the White House is so far removed physically that it doesn’t have much relevance in our daily lives. That’s not to say its decisions have no effect. Quite the contrary, the president’s personality and political persuasion form the backdrop against which our lives unfold. It’s no different than what we encounter in our homes or places of employment. Management’s style matters.

While there are those who have adapted easily to this administration’s flailing attempts to govern, others of us resort to relief of some kind.

Alec Baldwin’s comedic portrayal of the president is the painkiller many ingest to cope with the collective migraine enveloping our country. Others might be sipping more heavily at the numerous wine-tasting venues proliferating from coast to coast. Even churchgoing teetotalers might’ve finally succumbed. A bit of Eucharistic wine on Sunday, and they’re sufficiently revived. Hallelujah!

If you’re like me, you’re talking to yourself more. The TV’s on, but like your significant other, it’s immune to your blubbering. The point being…the election’s been decided. Nonetheless, you point out, it’s not right that Russia had a hand in it. It’s just not right!

For this particular malady, I turn to nightly prayer. I ask God to grant the president a “get out of jail” card NOW, so he can get back to doing what he knows best…playing real life Monopoly with family and friends.

I also ask God to help the Syrian refugees looking to the world-wide community, including America, for deliverance from an evil regime. I likewise pray for immigrants here at home who find themselves caught up in a net flung far and wide by the Justice Department, with seemingly little discretion as to who is targeted, apprehended and ultimately deported.

One thing for which I should ask God’s pardon, but somehow fail to do when asking forgiveness for my transgressions is using unladylike language during political talk shows on TV. I’m sure he knows I’m only joking, and is chuckling right along with my husband.

Countering the perceived injustices emanating from this administration’s policies, protesters act like a soothing balm upon my frayed nerves. Knowing that Americans remain ever vigilant in their fight to uphold our democratic principles is indeed the “silver lining.”

The rise of “fake news” as spread on social media is the latest incarnation of evil. Truth, as supported by facts, continues to be our most formidable weapon; that and our steadfast belief in the brotherhood of mankind, irrespective of religion, ethnicity, culture, education, gender, wealth and social standing.

Our children and grandchildren, as well as generations still to come, depend upon the choices we make today. We do not have the luxury of an independent decision. We are a global community, and as such must decide together how best to live as one people on a planet whose resources grow more limited with each passing day.    

Educating ourselves, rather than just going along to get along is something each of us can do…starting today.    

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

ptsd…

I continue to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, thanks to the current White House occupant.

It’s as though the world hangs in suspended animation waiting for some catastrophe to occur. And occur, it will. Again, thanks to the man in the White House.

The man who would be president had no business running for a position for which he is so obviously unqualified. There is no evidence of his Wharton education in his speech, his thought processes, his self-discipline.

Fortunately, I’ve not developed migraine headaches listening to his school boy speak. A seventy-year-old American president needn’t have the eloquence of Abraham Lincoln, or even Barack Obama, but I would hope the man would have learned many more adjectives and adverbs than…bad, big, and rape…and more pronouns than…me, myself and I.

Personally, I’d prefer it if the president tweeted exclusively so I wouldn’t ever have to hear him speak. His voice and his limited vocabulary grate on my nerves. In fact, my entire nervous system has gone into spasm. Once more, thanks to him. My sciatica went haywire, causing me excruciating pain. I’m sure it was his fault. My chiropractor and physical therapist are working to rewire me. So far, so good.

I should know better and stop listening to the news. However I do so in the hopes that I’ll get lasting relief, when that lying phony in the White House is sent packing.

The fact that the president and Putin are working laboriously to “pull the wool” over our eyes would be hilarious, if it weren’t, in fact, tremendously scary…should they succeed. They are working “hand-in-glove” to guarantee unimaginable wealth for the president…and unimaginable power for Putin.

I’m convinced there’s a Russian operative in the White House. And his name is…

trump.

………hugmamma.

 

 

ownership…

These next 4 years belong to the Republican Party. They will own whatever emerges from their ruling triumvirate…all 3 branches of government, headed up by Trump and his sidekick, Steve Bannon. Republicans have hit the jackpot…the power ball lottery of politics!!!

I am more than willing to let Republicans take full credit for everything and anything their dynamic duo has a hand in…the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Two weeks into this administration, we’ve been hit with an abundance of…the worst and the ugliest.

With millions of Americans rising up in protest against the dictatorship of Trump/Bannon, it’s unfathomable that Republican politicians continue to rubberstamp whatever those two send down the pike. Whether they are trying to hang onto their jobs, including health insurance in which their constituents should likewise share, or glory in their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cram all their policies down our throats, Republicans like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are complicit in our country’s descent into immorality under this presidency.

The so-called Capitol Hill experts are scurrying about like obedient kindergarteners effecting policy for the dictators, themselves new to the political arena. Trump and Bannon must laugh themselves silly behind closed doors, as well they should. They have accomplished what no one before them has been able to do, including the billionaire Koch brothers and their Tea Party followers.

Neither Trump nor Bannon have made a secret of their pasts. Both were widely written about during the months leading up to the election. It’s obvious that few cared to educate themselves, preferring instead to buy whatever these two men were selling.

It’s no surprise we’ve landed where we have, with all of us paying for the immorality of some. Our democracy is suffering a seismic, constitutional earthquake. Whether or not morality remains the underpinning of our freedom is dependent upon those willing to stand up to autocrats and their minions. And as we’ve witnessed recently, the number of freedom fighters number in the thousands.

Let’s hope the combined power of the White House and the Republicans on Capitol Hill does not thwart the resistance effort. It’s essential we continue to play defense against the Trump/Bannon autocracy throughout the next four years.

Kelly Anne Conway, Trump campaign manager-turned-senior advisor, provided poignant insight into this presidency. If the facts don’t suit, turn to “alternative facts.” Trump and all who pledge allegiance to him will subvert universal truth in order to further their hard-right agenda.

Personally, I plan to continue writing posts aimed at keeping the focus on a White House occupied by autocrats.

Peter Thiel, billionaire owner of the online site “Pay Pal,” supported Trump’s run for the presidency and is part of his transition team. Thiel, like Bannon, no longer believes in the America for which we now stand. Both want it upended and refashioned according to what they believe.

According to a November 2016 Politico Magazine article, “The Anti-Democratic Worldview of Steve Bannon and Peter Thiel” by Jedediah Purdy, Everett professor of law at Duke Law School…

Bannon believes that the political force rising to defend all these values today is “a global tea party” that links Trump, Brexit voters, the anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic National Front in France, and Narendra Modi’s nationalist government in India. These groups, Bannon says, may be incidentally racist or attract some racist elements, but those elements will “get washed out” and leave their pure and proper value, which is the nationalist defense of enlightened capitalism. They are the ground troops of the coming struggle, rebuilding a West that can defend itself and is worth defending.

Thiel, a professed Libertarian, has said that he no longer believes in the compatibility between democracy and freedom.

Finally, according to Purdy…

This much is clear: Bannon and Thiel believe their ideas have found the perfect host organism. They won’t be the last.

the gauntlet…

…has been “thrown down.”

Yesterday General Michael Flynn, Trump’s National Security Council mouthpiece, has threatened Iran to behave “or else.”

Immediately upon the heels of a well-received roll out of the president’s Supreme Court candidate, Trump regresses once again to his bully pulpit. The inherent threat in Flynn’s words “As of today we are officially putting Iran on notice”  leads one to think the president is prepared to go to war.

“I love war in a certain way.” Words spoken by Trump during his presidential campaign. Ironic since he avoided serving in the military, and never suffered the anxiety other parents do when sending their children off to defend our country and what it stands for…freedom and a democratic way of life.

Prior to becoming president, Trump gushed profusely about his love for the vets. Now, ensconced in the ultimate position of power, he seems more than willing to put America’s military in harm’s way at the slightest provocation, real or perceived.

With Trump at the helm, we face the possibility of war on several fronts…in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, considering the firestorm currently brewing in the Ukraine. The global chaos, owing in great part to Trump’s erratic behavior, is negatively impacting his promise to “make America great again.”

Trump is the inveterate champion in the war of words…whether he utters them personally, or commands any one of a number of surrogates to speak for him.

Because of his demand that Mexico pay for the wall he has promised to build, Trump has essentially instigated a war with that country.

Because of his travel ban on Muslims entering the U.S. from 7 countries, Trump has angered Muslims the world over. And it doesn’t help that he’s also declared his intention to move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

As though that weren’t enough, Trump blasts Australia’s prime minister as though he were some lowly file clerk instead of a prominent world leader and our valuable ally. Who could fault the Australians if they decide not to sacrifice their sons and daughters should Trump wage war with China in the south seas?

If we escape shedding blood on foreign shores during Trump’s presidency, it won’t be for lack of his trying…mightily. If his first attempt is any sign of Trump’s skills at real war…not ones made-for-TV or the big screen…America is in big trouble. Navy seal William Owens, 36, of Illinois was needlessly killed in a raid on Al Qaeda in Yemen that wasn’t scrupulously vetted

According to David Sanger of the New York Times…

Usually, a president goes down in the Situation Room, is presented with what they call a full package for the attack. There’s a legal assessment of the legal authorities under which they’re doing these. There’s a risk assessment to the commandos who would be doing it. There is a risk assessment of what could happen to civilians who are in the area.

This particular attack had been set up by the Obama administration. They had debated it, and President Obama decided about 10 days before the end of his term that he couldn’t approve it because the Pentagon really wanted to go in under the complete cover of darkness, a moonless night. And the next moonless night wasn’t going to be until after he was no longer in office.

So, they kicked this one over to the new administration. And it looks like President Trump got briefed on it, by and large, at a dinner, not in the Situation Room, not with legal advisers around. His secretary of defense, Jim Mattis, was there. Vice President Pence was there. Stephen Bannon, who has emerged as the newest member of the National Security Council, known really more for his political advice than military, was there.

So was his new national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who is a veteran of many of these.

But the discussion took place in a dinner situation. And he approved the raid at that dinner.

And I think one of the questions, given how many things have gone wrong, is, would it have been different if he had been in the Situation Room and perhaps had a different set of briefings?

Sanger goes on to say…

We don’t have a lot of view into the decision — discussion that they had at the dinner table.

But I think Richard [Atwood] raises one of the most important points. Over time, presidents learn that the biggest risk out here is not only the civilian risk and the risk to American forces, but whether — as Donald Rumsfeld used to say, whether you’re creating terrorists faster than you’re killing them.

And certainly, if you have a case like this where there appear to have been considerable civilian casualties, that may well be the case, especially because, even if some of those civilians may have taken up arms and fired against the SEALs, in the mythology of what went on, you’re going to hear a story of SEALs who dropped out of the sky and suddenly attacked a remote village in Yemen.

And you can imagine the recruiting capability of that. So, you know, part of what’s going on here…is that you have in the Trump administration a group that believes that the decision-making in these kind of cases has to be shortened, that more of the power has to be devolved down to the Pentagon, the commanders.

And yet, in the first case that the president approved, things went very badly wrong. And you have to wonder whether or not that is going to have the effect of making them think that they need to slow down and think more about the effects of these and get fuller briefings, or whether they’re simply going to say, look, this happens sometimes.

One has to wonder about Trump’s cavalier attitude toward risking the lives of those he espouses to love…the military. With his own sons and son-in-law out of harm’s way and living the great life for which other American sons and daughters are making the ultimate sacrifice, Trump engages world leaders as though he were playing a game of chess. And judging from his seeming disdain for deep thinking, I wouldn’t bet on him to win at chess, let alone…

…war.

 

family…

I’m sure we’d all agree how important family is to ensuring harmony within our everyday lives. The same, it would seem, applies to the Trumps.

Having said that, family harmony is never a given. No matter our good intentions, it can be an ongoing struggle to maintain  a simmering boil among conflicting personalities. For some, it’s a welcome challenge; for others, like me, it can be toxic, even corrosive.

For many years now, I’ve enjoyed reading about the lives of others. Biographies allow me to step inside another’s journey in an effort to make sense of my own. Knowing the back story has also enhanced my understanding of the person whose life is under the microscope. Oftentimes, I come away feeling some measure of compassion.

Prior to the presidential election I read books written about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I learned details about them which impacted my vote. As with other biographies, I was particularly interested in their familial relationships. What effect did their parents have on their evolution as adults? What values, if any, were instilled in them at a young age? And how did they impact who they are today?

In some ways, Hillary’s middle-class life was something with which I could identify. Education and hard work were just as important in my life, even though the death of my father when I was one meant our family lived from meager paycheck to meager paycheck. With the help of Catholic nuns at the orphanage where my mom worked, we survived…just.

Hillary’s mom was farmed out to relatives at a young age. Through grit and determination she survived. The kindness of a teacher who, for a year, shared her lunch with the poverty-stricken youngster had a lasting impression. One that Hillary made a point to “pay forward.” During college she began the journey which would become her life long passion…helping others in need.

Hillary’s dad was a task master. Where her mom shrank from his bullying tactics, Hillary thrived. A talent that served her well as she wend her way through hostile territory…a world that catered to white men.

Trump learned that the world was a “dog eat dog” world from his father. But for the fact that Trump admired her for being a happy housewife, there’s little reference to his mother. While his dad taught him the value of a buck, Trump learned his hardcore values from others…the military school to which his father sent him to be disciplined, and Harry Cohn, the tough lawyer who ran legal interference for the mob. Trump likened Cohn to a surrogate father.

Although I was able to understand the trajectory of both their lives, I could more readily accept the unfolding of Hillary’s, including the flaws.

On the other hand Trump’s life remains an enigma, despite my knowing the facts. I can only surmise that his narrow purview of the world beyond Trump Tower is owing to his isolation, both physically and mentally.

Education, whether formal or informal, is the hallmark of smart decision-making.

Hillary is a product of all she gleaned from Wellesley. More than that, however, her college degree was a starting point from which she launched her broader education into the world at large. She never stopped learning and changing, without sacrificing her core principles based upon uplifting the downtrodden.

It’s obvious that Trump thinks little of educating himself, instead preferring to rely upon others for his “alternative facts.” Because of this he wallows in conspiracy theories. Breitbart’s Stephen Bannon gained valuable access to Trump because of this. Together, they are conspiring to reinvigorate the white man’s standard “make America great again.”

By example, we learn the act of living from our families. We needn’t adopt everything without question. Our lives are clean slates upon which we can write our own stories. The decision is ours.

In observing Trump’s family, it’s apparent they defer to him. Melania is Trump’s ideal woman…a happy housewife. According to him, his first wife Ivana’s growing business involvement contributed to his divorcing her.

It’s common knowledge that Trump had no hand in raising his children until they were of an age to learn about the family business. One has to wonder about the values they absorbed over the course of their lives. With the acquisition of wealth being their father’s singular focus, not to mention their having been raised by a single mother whose well being, and theirs, depended upon the beneficence of her husband, money must have been of major concern. Especially given the life style to which they’d become accustomed.

The Trump children have access to all the material pleasures their father’s empire, and now his presidential power, can afford them. Unfortunately, because of their public deference to him in all things, they, and Melania, will suffer the same pushback Trump receives from a less than adoring public. Those who will be affected the most because of their daily interaction with schoolmates are…son Baron and Trump’s grandchildren.

Does Trump care?

Will Melania, Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric confront Trump’s bullying to ensure that their own children do not inherit his destructive propensities and are, instead, instilled with indestructible moral compasses? Or will the Trump legacy continue to be one of self-aggrandizement, immorality and bald-faced lies?

…family toxicity at the presidential level.

………hugmamma.

who’s footing the bill?

Taxpayers, that’s who!!!

Not only are we paying for the “Great Wall of Mexico,” but with the election of businessman Trump, we are now saddled with litigation costs brought against him as president of the United States. Lucky us.

So far the sums may seem paltry, especially to those confident in Trump’s winning streak. Among them, Republicans giddy with delight over their control of all three branches of government, including Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. Leaders only too willing to reset their moral compasses in service of their president, himself devoid of morality.

One wonders…has Trump or his gaggle of enablers given the smallest thought to the fact that he has drawn the largest bull’s eye imaginable on all things Trump? Using the loudest megaphone in the world, the office of the president of the United States of America, Trump has bragged to the world that he will eradicate ISIS from the face of the earth.

With hotels and golf courses all over the world bearing his name, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that Trump has made them the unwitting target of ISIS? What’s more, now that he has declared America off-limits to Muslims from 7 countries it’s also likely that the Trump brand will quickly be targeted by other terrorist groups, like Al Qaeda. God help any and all associated with Trump’s international empire. They do not have the benefit of an armored vehicle like “the beast,” nor are they protected by an army of government personnel sworn to die in the service of their boss, America’s president.

Which brings me to us, the taxpayers.

If ISIS, or any terrorist for that matter, targets a Trump property…what will the president do? He will have unimaginable wealth at his disposal, the U.S. Treasury. Not to mention America’s entire military arsenal, including its nuclear missiles.

As a businessman, Trump negotiated with banks to lend him more money when he was on the verge of bankruptcy. Rather than lose their investment, they would extend Trump more credit. Being without a conscience, he always took as much as he could get to “stay afloat and in the game.”

Trump has made no secret of his willingness to con anyone with whom he has dealings. After all, he’s the master of the “Art of the Deal.” I don’t imagine Trump would change his modus operandi when it comes to the taxpayer. He’s already leaning on his Republican cohorts to squeeze money out of us to build his “Great Wall of Mexico.”

Trump conned his supporters. Trump conned the Electoral College. Trump conned the Republican Party. Trump is on his way to conning the American taxpayer.

A leopard doesn’t change its spots. And a boa constrictor…

…is just a gigantic snake…with a huge appetite…that’s never sated.

………hugmamma 

 

seventy years…

…old. Trump is an old man who is showing his age.

Nearing seventy myself, I can speak with some authority on the dilemma of old-age. It’s not only a daily struggle to keep everything on my body from “going south,” it’s equally challenging to keep my mind from closing in on itself.

What we seem to be witnessing in warp speed is Trump’s mental capabilities disintegrating right before our eyes. His campaign rhetoric gave us clues as to his mental state, but very few took him at his word. We were told by his surrogates, like Kelly-Anne Conway, that his supporters knew not to take their candidate literally. On January 9, she advised us to “Judge Trump by what’s in his heart, not what comes out of his mouth.”

Trump has shown his heart to have all but stopped beating.

This president has split America to its core as Lyndon Johnson did during the Vietnam War. Folks, especially vets and their families, are still suffering the psychological, physical and economic effects of that political fiasco. Trump is on the path to paying a steep price for warring against Americans who refuse to engage in his brand of politics…”an eye for an eye.”

We’ve all known someone with pent up hostility and anger toward those who have crossed them. The elderly are more likely to have accumulated decades of such riffs. If these are not addressed and resolved in a timely manner, then the anger and determination to “get even” is that much greater.

The flip side to this dilemma is that those who remain in good standing will reap the rewards. This encourages all kinds of “hangers-on.” Relatives, self promoting crack-pots, wily master-minds, and perpetual money-grubbers. Of course there are the well-intentioned loyalists who are unable to back out of the situation in which they find themselves. One that further entraps them the longer they commit themselves to the Mad Hatter in the midst of a firestorm of his, and their, creation.

Having lived in Trump Tower most of his adult life, neither the president nor his family know the plight of real people. Unfortunately, this did not dissuade voters from deciding that a billionaire who regularly stiffed ordinary folks like themselves, should wield immeasurable power over their lives in big and small ways.

Trump has bragged about sleeping 4 hours or less each night. Scientific evidence supports the fact that sleep deprivation has a devastating effect on persons who regularly get less than 7 hours of sleep each night. Without the optimum period of time within which to rest and recuperate, our bodies begin to lose the battle against diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. There’s only so much our bodies can do when running on “empty.”

While seventy-year-old Trump’s finger hovers over the nuclear button, he has already detonated his own mental and physical implosion. The executive orders he has executed with lightning speed this week, have brought a volcanic eruption of Americans rising up in protest. He may have won the electoral votes, but only a week into his presidency, Trump is losing more and more of those he swore to lead.

It might be different were Trump winding down his presidency, but that’s not the case. Instead, we must face at least 4 years of increasing senility. Trump’s inability to distinguish between fact and fiction; his inability to move beyond past transgressions; his demand for absolute loyalty; his need to silence any opposition; his insatiable appetite for approval.

Were the Trump family dealing with their patriarch on their own turf, celebrating his “ups” while softening the impact of his “downs” the billionaire would have been left to his own devices. His impact would’ve been minimal, perhaps affecting only a segment of the community. As president of the most powerful country in the world, however, Trump’s impact is global.

Trump has the potential to be the greatest catastrophe America has ever seen. Singlehandedly, he is undoing the very fabric of our country. With the stroke of a pen and an off-hand remark this president has thrown a bag over the Statue of Liberty. For as long as Trump presides over our country, these words ring hollow…

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

As I grow older, 68 this year, I can only wonder at Trump’s increasing older age. Someone in his predicament cannot have the wherewithal to keep himself in prime physical and mental form. All presidents before him have undergone a transformation from when they first sat in the Oval Office to when they left. As much as Trump likes to brag that he only feels he’s in his 30’s, I would hazard to guess that he’s already dreaming of long, relaxing interludes on one of his many golf courses.

Let’s see how long it takes before the man gets his wish. How about we all donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation on behalf of Trump?

…won’t you contribute?

………hugmamma

 

hope and grit…

I’ve been very fortunate to serve as a guest columnist to a local, community newspaper from time to time. It’s allowed me to share my opinions on issues near and dear, here at home and abroad. The following was my latest submission for consideration by the editor.

HOPE and GRIT

Regardless of which side we were on during the presidential election, we all have Hope in common. Clinton’s campaign hoped love would trump hate; and Trump supporters are hoping the president-elect returns them to a time when America was great for them.

It’s more difficult for some than others to get past the divisiveness of the campaign, but do so we must for the good of the country. How best to do that is the question. Perhaps it would help if we began by focusing upon what remains familiar for all of us.

Transitioning from one presidency to the next is done peacefully, assuring that we can go on about our business the day after election. Freedom of speech is still protected by the Constitution. Individually and collectively, we can continue to voice our differing opinions. Regardless of our politics, we all believe in the sanctity of life. War abroad and at home is never a given. Above all, we continue to hold strong to our abiding belief in an America where dreams can still come true for all those who come after.

Personally, in our own lives, we can look to what remains familiar and comforting…our loved ones and our communities.

During the holidays we focus attention upon the happiness of others, whether they are from within our tight-knit circle of family and friends or strangers in need of our help. Our hearts and minds are opened to putting their needs before our own. We are all part of a unified spirit of goodness as we rush around like Santa’s elves.

In doing for others, however, we often overlook our own spiritual and physical well-being. The holidays always compound our oversight, and for some folks this season is especially exasperating because they remain traumatized by the recent election. In speaking with a couple of mental health professionals last week, it may be that those still reeling in the aftermath of the political upheaval are suffering signs of PTSD. War, real or imagined, can have the same effect upon a person’s psyche. Moving beyond a traumatic event takes effort, sometimes superhuman effort. “Grit” was a word referenced in my discussion with one of the experts.

In her book, “Grit” The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth signals grit as the ingredient necessary in a person’s character which drives him or her to succeed. Duckworth determined it as the single, common denominator as to why individuals succeeded whether she encountered them as a math teacher or psychologist. In fact, she credits grit, not talent, as the reason she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the “genius grant.”

I like to think of Americans as having grit. In our struggles to persevere as a democratic people in the face of national and global adversity, we have survived and will continue to do so no matter what.

Armed with hope and grit, we remain “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

…wishing you and yours…a holiday season filled with peace and joy.

………hugmamma.1127

 

hope…

Fellow blogger, Lisa, reminded me that we have HOPE on our side. Fortunately we’ve had two presidents who embodied it…Presidents Obama and Clinton. We who voted for them can carry their legacies of HOPE forward.

We will hope that the next president can live up to the public service demonstrated by that of his predecessors.

As is evident from the thousands protesting Trump’s election, he will never regain what he has already lost as a result of his vitriolic campaign. What he did reinforces what my beloved mother-in-law always warned…words have a permanent effect, especially hateful ones. I firmly believe that what she said is true. Personal experience attests to that fact.

No matter the nice words or gestures the perpetrator tries to offer afterwards, words blasted in anger are forever emblazoned across our memories…and our hearts. Trust in that person is lost forever, like it or not. Those victimized try to get through the avalanche of hateful words the best they can, but their hearts are forever secured against the hurt caused.

Trump is trying to “make nice,” with those he bullied while acting out his school ground antics. Too bad he never learned to “play nice” throughout his 70 years on earth. He may have some measure of success as a businessman, although his methods remain questionable, but his failure as a human being with those outside his tight-knit circle is massive. Whoever shares in the responsibility of his evolution as a self-serving despot should be ashamed for all Trump has become.

Ugly words are just that…ugly. There’s no rationalizing otherwise. Perpetrators have tried…and failed. External expressions may show otherwise; internal hurts are rarely, if ever, healed.

The Obamas will never be able to set aside Trump’s denying the president’s legitimacy as an American. Why should they? The Clintons will never be able to forgive Trump’s words calling for Hillary to be “locked up,” or placing 4 female accusers in the audience front and center during the final presidential debate. Who does these things? Donald Trump, that’s who.

No other candidate in the history of presidential elections has ever demonstrated such ugliness towards his fellow human beings as Trump. And his response to Leslie Stahl of “60 Minutes” (to be aired this Sunday), when asked if he regrets his words? He quickly replied “I won!”

Trump won…but he lost the hearts of millions and millions of Americans. What an empty, sad life. To quantify success in the accumulation of accolades and material wealth.

Trump lost. Connection with other human beings is the most valuable asset any of us can have when we take our last breath. No earthly treasure can measure up.

Trump may have gained the world; but in the process, he has lost…

…trump has lost.

………hugmamma.Image result for images of donald trump

 

 

a workhorse…

…that’s my personal description of Hillary Clinton. And now that her final attempt to help fellow citizens realize the American dream for themselves has been thwarted, she has earned a much-deserved rest from a self-imposed life of public service.

As with other Independents who took their time in casting their vote for president, I was skeptical about Hillary Clinton. Media spin had much to do with my indecision. However, Bernie Sanders said it best when he exclaimed that he was fed up with her damn emails. So was I.

I accepted Hillary Clinton’s apology for using a private email server, especially when FBI Director Comey found her innocent of breaking any laws. The fact that Republicans would not let go of the issue drove me further away from their candidate, towards the Democratic candidate.

The Republican Party will never curry my favor if they continue to wallow in conspiracy theories. It’s as though they prefer to practice voodoo politics instead of politics based upon facts. I have always been a “Doubting Thomas,” he who needed to put his finger in the crucified Christ in order to believe that He, in fact, was the risen Christ.

Granted, the Clintons are not saints. They have committed their fair share of trespasses. Time and again, however, they have been tried by their peers and found not guilty of breaking any laws.

The difference, for me, between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is that the foundation of her entire life has been…to serve others. His has been in service…for himself.

On stage at the Democratic National Convention, many testified to Hillary’s having personally touched their lives with her compassion and help. The handicapped young man whose cause Hillary had taken on when he was but a child. The 911 rescuers whose health issues Hillary had taken on by requesting, and obtaining, $20 billion from President George W. Bush. And yet Trump ignorantly proclaimed she had done nothing in her decades long career as a public servant. I don’t remember any individual coming forward at the Republican National Convention to proclaim how Trump had done something specific to improve his or her life. In fact, numerous voices have echoed the same sentiment about him….that they have been stiffed by Trump, or taken advantage of because of his wealth and power.

My religion, Catholicism, and my culture, Asian, has ingrained in me the need to be humble. It is therefore natural that I cannot stomach bragging in others, or in myself. Just as Donald Trump thrives on his own braggadocio, Hillary Clinton prefers to let others take the spotlight. He loves to talk endlessly about his supposed accomplishments; while she chomps at the bit to get on with the business at hand. He’s a talker; she’s a doer.

I’ve always preferred doers to talkers. Of course if someone can be both, like President Obama, so much the better. Given the choice we had in this election, I voted for the doer.

What many may not know is that Hillary Clinton would have preferred remaining in her elected position as the New York State senator. President Obama refused to take “no” for an answer when she declined his request to be his Secretary of State three times. Instead she wanted to continue in her crusade to help Americans here at home. It’s almost certain that she thought she would be able to take up our cause once she’d served her President abroad. However as we have just witnessed, she was unable to fulfill a lifelong dream…to use the power of the highest office in the land to bring justice to all who had yet to share in the America she envisioned.

As for the millions Hillary Clinton received for speeches she made on Wall Street, my feeling is that everyone is entitled to earn their living to the best of their ability. It is common knowledge that public servants make nowhere near what their corporate counterparts make. Case in point…the most powerful leader in the free world earns $400,000. CEO’s earn millions, sometimes billions, in wages and bonuses. If they’re fair to their employees and aren’t guilty of cheating taxpayers, who can fault them for their earnings.

And as for emails detailing behind-the-scene conversations, I don’t think anyone is innocent of saying one thing and doing another. I would like to be a fly on the wall in Trump Tower. All of us are guilty of telling lies, the small kind, not the outright, big ones like those thrown around by Trump during his campaign. Fact-checkers couldn’t keep up with his outrageous lies.

Hillary Clinton was faulted for her part in her husband’s mea culpa passes. Like others who have “walked in her shoes,” wives do not easily throw off loved ones like yesterday’s fashions. Our commitment to them is based upon a spiritual connection that isn’t easily severed by the physical disconnect. Will men, and some women, ever “get” that about us? Hillary chose to move to Arkansas at her future husband’s invitation, rather than remain in Washington where she had a promising career. In spite of their marital ups and downs, they’ve remained together for 30+ years. May they enjoy many more.

After all is said and done, I’m glad Hillary Clinton is no longer taking the brunt of media and Republican savagery. They can now take each other on in mortal combat, and continue…

…the feeding frenzy.

………hugmamma.

 

 

…like a needle…

It seems as though we have a need to go looking for that proverbial “needle in the haystack.” Or perhaps we have this organic desire to thread a needle through that smallest of holes. The recent election attests to our heightened fixation on doing just that.

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton showed us exactly who they are. Many,  Republicans and Democrats alike, preferred to pursue a scavenger hunt mindset in search of the “real truth.” The media, with CNN at the forefront, happily led the charge.

At some point in the year-long campaign leading up to November 8th, I decided to read several books about the candidates. Rather than be spoon-fed constantly regurgitated “pablum” by the media, I wanted to learn the facts for myself in order to make up my own mind about both Trump and Clinton.

I’m no more of an expert on either person than the media or the political parties to which they belong. Neither am I judging others on their decision-making process; I’m merely offering my views on the matter.

Trump himself has shown us that he embodies the dual personalities of Jekyll and Hyde. The construction of Trump Tower is a sad example of Hyde overtaking Jekyll.

“Instead of hiring an experienced demolition contractor, Trump chose Kaszycki & Sons Contractors, a window washing business owned by a Polish émigré. Upward of two hundred men began demolishing the building in midwinter 1980. The men worked without hard hats. They lacked facemasks, even though asbestos–known to cause incurable cancers–swirled all around them. They didn’t have goggles to protect their eyes from the bits of concrete and steel that sometimes flew through the air like bullets. The men didn’t have power tools either; they brought down the twelve-story building with sledgehammers.

Trump kept an eye on the project, not just when visiting the site (where photographs show him smiling under a hard hat), but from an office he rented directly across Fifth Avenue, which offered him an unobstructed view.

The demolition workers were not American citizens, but ‘had recently arrived from Poland,’ a federal court later determined. The court also found that ‘they were undocumented and worked ‘off the books.’ No payroll records were kept, no Social Security or other taxes were withheld and they were not paid in accordance with wage laws. They were told they would be paid $4.00 or in some cases $5.00 an hour for working 12 hour shifts seven days a week. In fact, they were paid irregularly and incompletely.’

Many members of the demolition crew, which became known as the Polish Brigade, lived at the work site, sleeping through the bitter cold on bare concrete floors. The crew numbered about thirty or forty in the daytime, but swelled to as many as two hundred at night, when few people would be around the tony business district to observe the demolition work.

Fed up that their paychecks kept bouncing, some of the workers corralled Thomas Macari, Trump’s personal representative. They showed him to the edge of one of the higher floors and asked if he would like them to hang him over the side. The workers, likely hungry, demanded their pay. Otherwise, no work.

When Macari told his boss what had happened, Trump placed a panicked telephone call to Daniel Sullivan–a labor fixer, FBI informant, suspect in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, and Trump’s personal negotiator for the Grand Hyatt contract with the hotel workers’ union.

‘Donald told me he was having some difficulties,’ Sullivan later testified, ‘ and he admitted to me that–seeking my advice–he had some illegal Polish employees on the job. I reacted by saying to Donald that ‘I think you are nuts.’ I told him to fire them promptly if he had any brains.’

As Sullivan later told me, along with reporter Wayne Barrett and others, hiring Polish workers who were in the country illegally and then having them work without standard safety equipment was not just foolish, it was reckless. For all his dealings with Trump, Sullivan was repeatedly astonished by the businessman’s lack of prudence. He said that whenever Trump saw an opportunity to collect more money or to cut his costs by not paying people what they had earned, he did. ‘Common sense just never took hold’ when Trump had money on his mind, Sullivan told me several times.

To Sullivan, only greed and an utter lack of regard for human life could allow Trump to let the Polish Brigade work without hard hats or the facemasks they needed to keep asbestos from entering their lungs. ‘Men were stripping electric wires with their bare hands,’ Sullivan later testified.

There is no record of any federal, state, or city safety inspector filing a report during the demolition. In a 1990 Trenton restaurant interview, I asked Sullivan how a project of this size could have been erected in the heart of Manhattan without attracting government job safety inspectors. Sullivan just looked at me. When I widened my eyes to make clear that I wanted an explicit answer, he said, ‘You know why.’ When I persisted, anticipating that Sullivan might specify bribes to inspectors, he said that unions and concrete suppliers were not the only areas where Trump’s lawyer, Roy Cohn, had influence.

Shortly after Trump called Sullivan, a new demolition crew arrived on the site. They were officially members of Housewreckers Local 95, but there were only fifteen or so unionists among them. Normally, employing non-union workers (in this case, Kaszycki & Sons) at a union work site would prompt an immediate shutdown. But, as federal court documents would later show, the Housewreckers Union was firmly under the control of the mobsters whose consigliere was Roy Cohn. Trump’s mentor and lawyer. So the union went along with a scheme to employ non-union workers, cheat them out of their pay, and shortchange the union health and pension funds.

Several simple but clever techniques in filling out records ensured that the union received no written notice of the non-union workers. Not incidentally, those workers were nonetheless required to pay union initiation fees and had union dues deducted from their meager pay, even though (as a federal judge later concluded) they were never actually in the union. Macari, Trump’s overseer, testified that he reviewed and approved these documents before paying Kaszycki.

Six Polish workers went to a lawyer named John Szabo for help getting paid. In early April, Macari saw to it that the window washing company Trump hired for the demolition job gave the six men a total of almost $5,000 in back pay. More workers then sought out Szabo. By July, as summer temperatures soared, the unpaid wages came to almost $104,000, even though the rate of pay was under five dollars an hour with no overtime, despite a grueling eighty-four-hour workweek of heavy manual labor.

One day, to keep the workers swinging their sledgehammers, Macari showed up with a wad of cash. Instead of paying the men directly, court papers show, Macari gave the money to the foreman. Anyone who wanted their money had to kick back fifty bucks to the foreman, testimony showed. After that, Macari testified later, he handed cash directly to the Polish Brigade members at least twice.

After the building was taken down, a dissident member of the Housewreckers Union, Harry Diduck, took the brave step of suing the corrupt union. Trump, and an arm of Metropolitan Life Insurance (Trump’s financial partner in Trump Tower) for the wages and benefits the Polish Brigade members should have received. Trump insisted he owed nothing and filed motion after motion that delayed the proceedings, which his lawyers characterized as baseless and unfair.

When the trial finally made it to federal court, Trump testified that he had no knowledge that any workers were underpaid, or that the Polish workers lacked hard hats and other safety equipment. Judge Stewart, in a lengthy opinion found that Trump’s testimony lacked credibility. The judge said it would have been easy to identify the Polish workers–they were the only ones on the demolition site without hard hats.

Judge Stewart ruled that Trump had engaged in a conspiracy to cheat the workers of their pay. At the heart of this conspiracy was Trump’s violation of his duty of loyalty–also known as fiduciary duty–to the workers and to the union. This ‘breach involved fraud and the Trump defendants knowingly participated in this breach,’ Judge Stewart held.

The judge awarded damages of $325,000 plus interest. Trump, who has consistently maintained he acted lawfully, appealed. He later settled. The agreement was sealed, so the amount Trump paid remains unknown. Diduck’s dedication to his fellow workers showed amazing persistence–the sealed settlement took effect more than eighteen years after the demolition began.”

The Making of Donald Trump by David Cay Johnston, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

…the real trump.

………hugmamma.Image result for images of trump as jekyll and hyde

…drive by information…

Contributing to America’s recent political Armageddon is the Internet, specifically Facebook and Twitter.

Americans, particularly Millennials, get much, if not all, of their information from these sources. Most have probably not picked up a book, magazine, or newspaper to read the hard facts behind the headlines.

Internet users accept whatever their friends, or strangers, promote as the truth. And this “truth” gets passed around. One example is the fabricated story that circulated about the Pope’s endorsement of Trump. Need I even say that this was, of course,  false?

Google and Wikipedia are where Americans go to fact check. What we forget is that their information is gathered by human beings like us…folks who are fallible and imperfect. What is offered might be accurate, but something just as accurate might be selectively or accidentally omitted.

Technology has made us lazy; just as fast food has made us obese. Neither condition is good for our well-being. Veggies and fruit guarantee good health. Reading a variety of books, periodicals and newspapers guarantee informed decisions.

Improving one’s situation involves work on our part. It doesn’t take a lot of money. We can grow our own healthy food; we can borrow books from the library. Neither requires much money, if any.

Convenience has become synonymous with the American way of life. Think Costco, Amazon and FedEx. It’s a sad truth. Americans expend as little energy as possible to reap what we have not sown with our own two hands. Progress is a double-edged sword.

It’s up to us as individuals to pick and choose what’s best for us as human beings from the array of goodies laid out before us. We shouldn’t grab for every single thing that glitters like gold. Some will inadvertently turn out to be…

…fool’s gold.

………hugmamma.Image result for fool's gold images

 

 

 

gone…

…but not forgotten.

Trump is the president-elect, selected by Americans who felt disenfranchised from the mainstream populace. They have a right to glory in their achievement; let’s hope their trust is not misplaced.

For those of us who took Trump at his word, the ugly vitriol he bandied about to win at all costs, four years may not be enough to forget. Forgiving may not come easily either.

Why this man felt he had to trample all over the good name of millions of others, including Hillary Clinton and President Obama’s, in order to promote the TRUMP brand is a mystery. Obviously, we will never know. After all, he refuses to reveal the most basic of all presidential precedents…his tax forms.

I am glad millennials are protesting Trump’s victory. He must be held to a very high standard now that he has achieved what no right-thinking American thought was possible, including many of his supporters who agreed that he did not have the right temperament for the job. This generation of Americans must fight for their liberties, just as past generations have had to do. Only then will they realize the urgent need to safeguard what heretofore they might have taken for granted. They could not appreciate what might have been handed to them on a “silver platter.”

Trump is now facing his own “American Spring.” Just as Arab youth rallied to throw off the suppression of decades of dictatorships, the millennials in our country, and their elders, will have to fight to ensure that our democracy is upheld.

So much of Trump’s background remains outside of the general populace’s purview. Most don’t care to know what he brings to the presidency except for what he promised to bring them in the way of economic relief. Hopefully, the tradeoff will have been worth it to them…and to the nation as a whole.

I too wish Trump well as he tries to govern the nation. Although I will never like the man. He has shown himself to be a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One cannot exist without the other. A 70-year-old man is unlikely to change the essence of who he is.

It’s been said that Trump is a man who craves approval. Few among us have been able to escape that very human of traits. It might even be seen as a flaw. We will have to see how Trump manages his need for approval. It is a double-edged sword. It can work for us, or against us. It will depend upon whose approval our president-elect requires, ours or that of special interests…like the NRA or Russia.

The millennials have taken up the role as protectors of our democracy and our constitutional rights as Americans. More power to them!

Republicans own the Federal government now. Let’s see how they get on with the business of fulfilling Trump’s promises to working class-whites. He may need the help of Democrats who are more inclined to help the downtrodden. It’ll be interesting.

I do hope, however, that the Democrats pursue Trump’s private life as it affects the office of the presidency…his personal lawsuits…his foreign business connections…his connections to the mafia, and felons accused of drug-trafficking…his proven personal use of charitable donations.  Republicans have spent millions of taxpayer dollars pursuing the Clintons for decades. Trump is not exempt from the same treatment.

Liking is as important as loving. Barack Hossein Obama is someone I both loved and liked as a human being and a president. His successor will never have my devotion as a woman, a wife, a mother, a human being, an American.

Trump is totally alien to who I am as a person of morals and compassion. Nonetheless…

…I wish him well.

………hugmamma.