…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

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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.

 

Women against…

…Trump.

My 30-year-old daughter, a millennial, joins me in my disdain for the candidate offered up to the American electorate by the Republican Party. Her outrage at Trump’s divisive racist and gender-based rhetoric matches mine… a 67 year-old woman of color.

I can only wonder at the loyal support Trump continues to receive from his daughter, Ivanka and his wife, Melania. I’ve no doubt they, like many of us, would stand with their man until the bitter end. It’s instinctive; it’s survival. Their fates are intimately entwined with that of their clan’s patriarch. Moreover, what Trump’s detractors are suffering at his hands would pale in comparison to what his own kin would have to endure were they to turn on him. Regardless of the stature they currently enjoy, it’s clearly apparent that Trump would put his heel to their necks were they, or any woman dependent upon his largesse, to step out of line.

Had Trump not run for President of the United States, he could have continued on his merry way doing as he pleased with whomever he pleased. We would not have been the wiser, nor would we have cared. When he took on his party’s mantle for the highest office in the country, and in the world, his business became our business.

In spite of his determination to keep us at arm’s length, even threatening to imprison his opponent and deny free speech to the media, Trump cannot shut us down. Or can he?

Could Trump, as president, limit our freedoms?

Could Trump imprison any of us on a whim? Could Trump terminate factual reporting? Could Trump be manipulated by others more intelligent than him? Could Trump wreak divisive havoc upon our country by tweeting his innermost thoughts of revenge? Could Trump decide who among us gets favorable treatment and who would not? Could Trump use our country’s financial coffers for his own self-enrichment? Could Trump take any woman for his own personal satisfaction? Could Trump get his henchmen to annihilate his enemies?

Donald Trump, the businessman, has already done all of this and probably more.

Trump has threatened to imprison Hillary Clinton were he elected president. Trump has already banned certain news media from accessing his rallies and has opted not to allow the media to travel on his plane with him, as Clinton is doing. Trump’s campaign is being fashioned at the top by Steve Bannon, a Harvard graduate, who until recently edited the internet right-wing extremist site, Breitbart. Trump, at 3 a.m., invited others to view a pornographic film involving a former Miss Universe with whom he was doing battle. Trump has touted his friendship and business dealings with billionaire Carl Icahn whose wealth came at the expense of middle class workers who lost their jobs in the process. Trump, in his own words, claims he has benefitted mightily from scamming the system…what’s to stop him from continuing to do so as the ultimate insider? By his own admission, Trump has already kissed and groped women because, as a “star,” he felt he was irresistible.

Win or lose, Trump has already incited his supporters to go after those who have opposed him. Jailing Hillary Clinton has been their battle cry for the duration of Trump’s campaign. He has done nothing to stop them; instead he condones their passionate outcry. He has also encouraged his believers to bash the media for bringing to light his transgressions against others. And let’s not forget when early on Trump himself spewed venom at a protester, saying “I’d like to punch him in the face.” Imagine that from the mouth of a future president of the United States of America.

If elected, Trump would be OUR Vladimir Putin…OUR Bashir al Asad…OUR Saddam Hossein…OUR Mohamar Ghadaffi…OUR Fidel Castro…and yes, even OUR own Paul Kagame who committed genocide upon Rawandans. Or worse, as others have suggested, perhaps America is beholding…LUCIFER himself, OUR own Adolph Hitler.

It’s unimaginable that we in America are witnessing the rebirth of Adolph Hitler. From within our midst, Trump has arisen cloaked in dark words meant to stoke the country’s fears. Just as Germans rallied to once again becoming a great Aryan nation under the leadership of “Mein Fuher,” Trump supporters are dogmatic in following him blindly into “making America great again.” According to him, President Obama took our country in the wrong direction, away from what it once was.

What America once was.

Women supporting Trump for president have offered to give up their votes so that his election as president would be guaranteed. This sacrificial offering came on the heels of a poll showing that if the vote were held today, Hillary Clinton would win because of the women’s vote; if they weren’t allowed to vote, Trump would win because of the men’s vote.

Imagine where we were prior to the woman’s right to vote. Imagine going back there. Imagine all that we would lose. Imagine all that we are still struggling to attain. Imagine living like our female counterparts in the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia…subservient to men in all things, even as it pertains to our own bodies…limited access to education, if any…workplace inequalities…as well as other inequalities under the law.

Just imagine, moms and dads, your daughters and granddaughters living in an autocracy presided over by Trump. His minions, in and out of politics, ready and willing to implement his will from wherever they are in the country. From what we’ve heard in recent days, saying “no” won’t be an option. If the leader can grope women against their will, so too can his lackeys take liberties.  

“Making America great again” translates to an America where once again white men rule unchallenged, and the rest of us paw and scratch for our place at the back of the pack. If Trump is president, get ready to be…

…groped against your will…

…and worse.

………hugmamma.

 

…as it should be…

As excruciatingly messy as it might be sometimes, democracy is still preferable to autocracy. Each person speaking his and her own voice is still preferable to one voice speaking for all.

The difference between the RNC and the DNC is stark. Last night, apart from the megawatt speeches delivered by Michelle Obama, Corey Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, there were equally moving speeches delivered by ordinary folks like Cheryl Lankford. She was one of many trumped by the man himself when she enrolled in Trump University to the tune of $35,000.

I understood Lankford’s embarrassment at feeling she was the fool for being duped. I understood her inability to tell anyone about how dumb she felt. I understood how as a woman, we are primed to think it’s our fault if we’re stupid enough to get “taken to the cleaners.” Especially up against billionaire Donald Trump. Who would believe Cheryl Lankford if she spoke up against a man of his celebrated, moneyed stature?

Today, I was moved to tears by the story of Na’ilah Amaru.

“I was born on a dirt floor to a woman whose name I will never know. What I do know is that she loved me enough to give me up, so I could live the life she wanted for me. A life without hunger or despair, filled with hope, education, and opportunity.

As a baby, bundled up in the hopes and dreams of my mother, I began a new life in a faraway land called America. I was raised by two women, and learned early on about intolerance and hatred. But I also learned about the power of love, faith and hope.

The first time I saw Hillary, she was on TV addressing a panel of men with such confidence and ownership of self. Her poise and presence fundamentally changed how I would claim my own space in the world. I was 11.

Seven years later, my belief in America inspired me to raise my hand and solemnly swear to defend her ideals with my life. I joined the army as an ammunition specialist and gave the best of myself to a country that had given me so much. I returned from Iraq deeply committed to restoring the faith of America’s Promise—for everyone.

Tonight, in the birthplace of our nation, I renew our commitment to democracy with an historic step toward gender equality. Reflected in broken shards of glass, and Hillary herself, we can see the dreams of our daughters. This is America’s promise.

Along my journey, I have called California, Texas, Georgia, and New York home. And I know that what connects us runs far deeper than what divides us.

So, if you can hear my voice tonight, join me and everyone in this hall, by texting HILLARY to 47246—as we move forward, together.

As an immigrant, a combat veteran, a woman of color, and my mother’s daughter, I am American. My story is our story. The story of America.”

(PRNewswire, 7/26/16)

Ordinary women standing up FOR…

…an exceptionally, extraordinary woman.

…Hillary Clinton.

………hugmamma.

 

…together…let’s do this thing!

Watching Hillary Clinton address supporters in Tampa a couple of days ago, I found myself back on familiar ground…feet firmly planted in the America I know and love. I saw myself among the smiling faces seated in back of her…all “mutts” who call these United States home, regardless of our pedigree.

STRONGER TOGETHER is the pledge Hillary is making, and one that all who believe in our democratic system can get behind. All of us together will move America forward as we have done since our country was founded.

On the competitor’s side, Trump supporter Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, one of the speakers at the RNC, appears representative of those aligned with their nominee. Thiel is against a democratic America; preferring instead an autocracy. In “The Education of a Libertarian,” dated April 13, 2009 Thiel wrote “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.”

A match made in Republican heaven…Thiel’s billions funding Trump’s autocratic candidacy.

In his acceptance speech, Trump magnanimously promised to take care of all Americans and “make the country great again.” Somewhat reminiscent perhaps of another seemingly magnanimous figure who promised to return his country to the greatness it had known prior to WWI. And so another world war was waged in which millions of lives were sacrificed for the cause. In its aftermath, Germany was devastated and the Germans were branded the most hated people on the face of the earth.

The first graduate to address Welsley College as valedictorian on May 31, 1969, Hillary said “ ‘One of the most tragic things that happened yesterday, a beautiful day, was that I was talking to a woman who said she wouldn’t want to be me for anything in the world…She wouldn’t want to live today and look ahead to what it is she sees because she’s afraid.” ‘

 Hillary went on to tell her graduating class of 400 that “Fear is always with us but we just don’t have time for it. Not now.” Almost five decades later, the Democratic nominee for president is still fear-less.

There is no time for fear.

Never in America’s history have we stepped away from a challenge. Americans have always united against the common enemy, including Japanese citizens whose families were stripped of both pride and property and relocated to internment camps during WWII. And during the Civil War Blacks donned the Union’s blue uniform, even though EQUALITY for their people was never something they imagined.

Today our enemy masquerades in the form of Trump’s message to “make America great again.” It signals a return to an America where fear of people different from ourselves inspired vigilante activities that led to lynchings and mob retaliation.

As recent as March 21, 1981, 17-year-old Michael Donald, a black teenager was hung from a tree by members of Alabama’s Klu Klux Klan. Donald just happened to be…in the wrong place, at the wrong time. His life was taken because a black defendant was acquitted of killing a white policeman during a robbery. “Bennie-Jack-Hays, the second-highest-ranking official in the United Klans in Alabama, said: “If a black man can get away with killing a white man, we ought to be able to get away with  killing a black man.” Hays’ 26-year-old son, Henry Hayes, one of four white men involved in the lynching was executed for the murder on June 6, 1997.

And let’s not forget the racist rhetoric of George Wallace who in 1963, as governor of Alabama, tried to prohibit blacks from enrolling as students at the University of Alabama. President Kennedy, backed by the power of the federal government, forced Wallace to stand aside. The following day, Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers was assassinated in Jackson, Mississippi.

As the fear messenger, Trump is inciting his supporters to take the country back to a more familiar world order. And some may already be answering that call.

Imagine if this was…

…your daughter…in the wrong place, at the wrong time???

…i already do.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

history repeats itself…

After leaving the White House, President Johnson said: “I don’t believe you would have had any Wilkinses, Thomases, or Eatons [the murderers of Viola Liuzzo] if you didn’t have leadership that gave them that idea that they could do what they did with immunity.”

Many white Alabamans had made their peace with integration and a new kind of South, but George Wallace was not one of them. In 1970 he had won election as governor for a second time applying an overtly racist strategy an aide described privately as “promise them the moon and holler nigger.”

As Wallace campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination for a third time in 1972, he continued to deny that he was a racist. The governor blamed the press that “got folks believing now that I’m against certain people just because of who they happen to be.” Out on the campaign trail, he was on his best behavior, but sometimes things would just creep out, as when he referred to United States senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass.) as a “nigger.”

Wallace had risen to power on racial issues, and wherever he spoke on his presidential campaigns, his audiences were full of people who feared or mistrusted black people. Now in the last years of his political career, he played the race card again, but in a different way.

Thanks largely to the 1965 Voting Rights Act that Wallace had fought against, black Alabamans had won the right to vote, and the day was coming when it would be impossible for a Democrat to win an election without their support. The governor had not even wanted black Alabamans to attend his first inauguration. Yet now, when he needed them, he went to Tuscaloosa and crowned a black woman the University of Alabama homecoming queen, and he appointed black officials throughout his administration.

In 1974, Wallace won reelection as governor for the third time with 25 percent of the black vote. In his fourth and final gubernatorial campaign in 1982, he received around 35 percent of the black vote in his victory.

Wallace sent out one of his new black appointees, Delores Pickett, to campaign for him among her people. “Forgiveness is in our Christian upbringing,” she told her black audiences. “It’s something that Martin Luther King taught us.”

Black Alabamans were for the most part churchgoing people who were taught that redemption comes from forgiveness. They wanted to believe the governor had changed, and if he of all people had changed, then the world had changed.

As he sat in his wheelchair filled with pain, Wallace said he had found Jesus. But that faith never led him to face up publically to his long-held beliefs. He claimed his actions were driven by a belief in states’ rights and that he had never felt prejudice toward black people. He might have taken the lynching of Michael Donald and the conviction of the two murderers as a moment to talk about the wrongfulness of so much he had said and how words led to deeds, but he remained silent.

Despite the limitations of his public apologies, in private Wallace was beginning to grasp that he shared moral responsibility for so many reprehensible acts. One evening during his final full year in office in 1986, one of his aides, Kenneth Mullinax, was over at the governor’s mansion. Cigar smoke wafted down from an upstairs bedroom, and Mullinax went up to chat with Wallace.

“I have a lot of regrets,” Wallace said, “and I really worry about my soul.”

“But you’re born again, Governor,” Mullinax said.

“I flew all them runs over Tokyo dropping bombs, but that don’t worry me none. It’s my words. They kilt a lot of people. That’s why I’m worried I’m going to hell.”

Wallace had spoken the most provocative rhetoric. Then he had stood back and taken no responsibility for what his words led people to do. Now after all these years, he had come to an understanding of what power he truly had possessed, how profound his impact had been, and how tragic the results.

This was taken from THE LYNCHING…THE EPIC COURTROOM BATTLE THAT BROUGHT DOWN THE KLAN by Laurence Leamer

…trump…wallace, all over again.

………hugmamma.

 

…only ourselves…

…to blame.

We are a changing democracy, whether we like it or not. America was never going to remain as it was in the “good old days.” What were the “good old days” for some, was a living hell for others. At best we are in the purgatory phase of our country’s evolvement, on our way to the heaven we all deserve.

The mass shootings that are occurring more and more frequently are not the product of any one group or individual. The tone of hatred for others different from ourselves is being promoted and yes, even tolerated, by many of us. Just as the world stood by during the Jewish Holocaust, so too is the world looking heavenward as hateful rhetoric spews forth from every corner of the world, including America.

God is not the answer to our problems, we are. He gifted the earth with enough bounty to share among ourselves; instead, we have evolved into a world of haves and have-nots. It was only a matter of time when the tide would begin to turn against those who have greedily hoarded more for themselves.

The ability to stop the inevitable is within our power. It’s never too late because we are a forgiving and resilient species. We just need to love all others as we love ourselves. Picking and choosing who can partake and who can’t is no longer an option. Not if we want to realize…

…a heaven on earth.

………hugmamma.Nashville 09-2010 00063

 

a good man…but

I like Bernie Sanders…his affinity for everyman. Sanders’ compassion for the less fortunate is palpable. His ideas to uplift the struggling masses and level the playing field is what America should be about. If everyone thought as Sanders does…peace might be possible.

Sanders, however, cannot be our next president. He proselytizes, speaking to our “better angels.” Abraham Lincoln first spoke to that side of human nature in his First Inaugural Address on March 4, 1861…

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Almost 155 years to the day, we are where we were then. American turning against American, each side using the Constitution in defense of its own dogmatic, ideological stances.

I give Sanders credit for being the voice of Lincoln when that President’s own party, the Republican Party, has long turned its back on what he stood for…and died for.

Being a senior citizen myself, I can understand Sanders sense of urgency to remake America before he dies. He’s 74. He wants it done…yesterday.

Like President Obama before him, Sanders has started a movement, primarily among young adults. He is calling upon them to help fix our broken society. Sanders expects that they will continue to actively support his presidency, if and when that day materializes. They are to strong arm Congress into enacting all that Sanders envisions in a progressive society.

It may be that Obama wrongfully shouldered the burden of his office alone, as some in the media have accused. However he may have been more realistic than Sanders who expects working class folks to add to their daily overload by actively involving themselves in remaking America. It’s not that it can’t be done, it’s just a question of how realistic an expectation it is.

How will Sanders pay for all the freebies he proposes to give out…free college education for all, rich and poor…and Medicare-like health insurance for all, rich and poor? In addition he wants to expand Medicaid benefits…raise the minimum wage…make it easier for people to join unions…break up the big banks…bring parity to women’s wages…invest in our crumbling infrastructure…and more. Fantastic…rhetoric, to be sure. But who’s going to pay for all of this?

If Sanders’ desire is to fashion our society to look like some in Europe, then we must be prepared to pay the price, as do those citizens. For example, Norway’s total tax burden is 45% of GDP…twice that of the U.S. More than the cost in dollars, however, is the price paid in individual enterprise and hard work.

Yes, I’d like the have-nots to have more, but they should still have the opportunity to work for it.

Hillary Clinton’s plan to help college students is to…allow them to refinance, just as we are allowed to refinance our homes, so that they are not paying excessive interest rates of 10% or more. She is not about forgiving their debt altogether. Furthermore, Clinton offers college students the opportunity to repay their loan as a percentage of wages earned after graduating. 

Bernie Sanders is unrealistically ideological. Hillary Clinton is pragmatic about her ideology.

…I’m for getting something done…

…not for daydreaming about it.

………hugmamma.

what feels right…

I’m neither a Democrat nor a Republican, although I have liberal tendencies born of a childhood bordering on poverty. I know what it’s like to wear Salvation Army hand-me-downs, and share meals with orphans at a home run by Maryknoll nuns. I’ve been fortunate, however, to have “pulled myself up by the bootstraps” and married a man who has done the same. For us the stars were all aligned, shining good fortune down upon us. Not so with millions of others in America…and around the world. As one of my brothers liked to say of me, and perhaps it’s true…I’m a bleeding-heart liberal. And he didn’t mean it kindly. He’s hard-core conservative.

While I have voted for Republican presidents, like George W. Bush, I’ve never felt in sync with the party. I get that its members are about preserving the status quo and each and everyone earning his own keep. What I don’t get is how dogmatic Republicans are about their principles. It’s as though all poor people are guilty of abusing the system and must therefore prove themselves innocent. Why they can’t do just that seems beyond comprehension to dyed-in-the-wool conservatives. If folks find themselves in unfortunate circumstances, then they should get themselves out however they can and not look to society to do it for them.

Democrats aren’t without their own prejudices and faults. However what I can align with is their concern for the welfare of all people, including the less fortunate. There isn’t an automatic assumption that they are slovenly people living off the fat of the land, without first paying their dues. Yes, there are those who take advantage of welfare, but those who don’t shouldn’t be condemned alongside those who do.

My mom, a widow with 9 children, was never on welfare. She worked hard and took help whenever it was offered. If she was ashamed, she never showed it. What I did witness, however, was her compassion for others who shared her plight. She shared what little she had. A lesson that has remained with me to this day. Whether or not it comes more easily for folks who are themselves outcasts from society, I don’t know. I only know that having been there, I could never turn my back on those still stuck in the muck of poverty.

Life is complicated. There are no easy solutions to its complexities. All we can do is the best we can do, given our individual circumstances. And the only compass we have to guide us through life is a moral one. And at the risk of sounding like a “bleeding heart liberal,”…whether we like it or not, we’re all in this together. There’s no escaping to another planet, anytime soon that is. So rather than run from one another, we’ve got to figure out how to make this place where we all live…work for the good of all. Sooner or later the have-nots are going to overtake the haves, and help themselves to what they’ve long been denied.

…we are our brothers’…and sisters’…keepers.

…whether we like it…or not.

………hugmamma.

 

nurturing thursdays: those who serve…

Two news pieces reported on MSNBC today, made me pause to reflect upon the sacrifices made by those who keep the rest of us safe.

The first was about firemen who helped in the aftermath of 9/11. As usual, they did not consider the risks to their own safety and well-being. Only years later did that horrific day return to haunt them, many suffering the effects of cancer. Mounting medical bills in addition to an emotional and physical roller coaster ride puts the victims and their loved ones at high risk for depression and serious loss to their quality of life.

Following that report was a piece about a military family whose husband/father has been deployed to the Middle East multiple times. Of the 19 years they’ve been married, the couple have been separated 9 years. Their two sons, now teenagers, have missed their dad tremendously. While the family understands their sacrifice as a career choice, it doesn’t lessen the impact of losing a member for years on end. Especially knowing that each deployment could mean the death of their loved one.

It’s easy to shed a tear or two for the plight of these folks whose lives are spent protecting us. Having compassion, however, also includes giving back…not “sitting back.”

Rather than pay for “pork belly” projects put forth by representatives in Congress, our tax dollars should be spent accommodating the financial needs of those who risk their lives to save ours.

I think that’s what’s so frustrating about many members of the Republican Party. They want “boots on the ground,” but they ignore the fact that these folks have needs. They’re not wind-up robots. They feel. They break. They bleed. They die…and leave behind loved ones of their own.

President Obama is walking a tightrope between keeping our country safe during these perilous times…and showing compassion for the men and women who must answer the call to lay down their lives for their country. Not an easy decision, although the president’s critics rant and rave that it’s a no-brainer. Scary to think what Obama’s successor would do if he or she is a Republican intent upon spilling blood.

…when did we become a dispassionate people?

………hugmamma.

(Note: For more inspirational writing, visit…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/12/17/nurt-thurs-you-are-2/

…new “normal”…???

Politicians and the media are now calling gun massacres…the new “normal.” Unfortunately once our self-appointed mouthpieces put it out there, it sticks. Their favorite catch-all being…”the majority of Americans think.” I hate when they say that. None of them ever asked me for my opinion.

What’s scary is the fact that the new “normal” will become fodder for statistical data…namely racking up deaths of innocent folks in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s like a death lottery with names appearing on a draft list of the unlucky ones.

I don’t mean to sound morbid, but those who poison the atmosphere with sensational rhetoric make light of a horrific anomaly.

Personally I think President Obama has the right attitude. His focus is upon solving problems as they occur. He’s done it time and again, beginning with the financial crisis at the start of his presidency almost 8 years ago. The President is a deliberate problem solver which unnerves those wanting instant gratification which, in our current society, is just about everyone.

Since it first exploded on U.S. soil in 2011, terrorism has metamorphosed into what we are now witnessing…”mom and pop” type store fronts popping up willy-nilly all over the place. What Trump and others like him seem to overlook is that these types of terrorists have proliferated among us in the guise of white men, mostly young. Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy. James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King. Sirhan Sirhan killed Robert Kennedy. Mark David Chapman killed John Lennon. John Hinckley tried to assassinate President Reagan.

Then, of course there was Columbine, Sandy Hook, the Arizona Safeway attack…which almost took the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords…and the Umqua, Oregon shooting. In these mass shootings James Eagan Holmes, Adam Lanza, Jared Lee Loughner and Christopher Harper-Mercer were considered societal misfits. Their cases propelled mental illness to the forefront of America’s collective consciousness. Eventually however they, along with their victims, disappeared from view, resurfacing only annually on the anniversaries of those events.

By comparison with these forerunners of terrorist attacks upon American society, the recent San Bernardino massacre was the first carried out by a man and a woman…who HAPPENED to be Muslims. First and foremost as with the others mentioned above, this husband and wife were obviously societal misfits…even within their own Islamic community. Many of that faith, including those born in America, have decried the killers as abhorrent. Why then should the entire Muslim population world-wide be denigrated because of those pledging allegiance to Isis, a group as deranged as Hitler?

Consider that not even the brothers Tsarnaevs who carried out the attack during the Boston Marathon were railed against as Muslims, which they were. It’s clearly the timing in that the San Bernardino massacre occurred shortly after the Paris attacks…and in the midst of a contentious presidential campaign. It might also be Trump’s presence on the national stage…namely his big mouth…which has pointed the finger at Muslims in general. It served his purpose of keeping media attention, and free publicity, on him.

Mental illness and gun control are not high on Trumps agenda…getting elected to the White House is…and he’ll do ANYTHING, including lambasting an entire population…to serve his interests.

We shouldn’t be the dummies…

…in trump’s ventriloquist act.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

hiding…mr. hyde

Police work is a double-edged sword. We entrust these men and women to take care of us in the face of adversity, all the while on the turn of a dime they themselves could become our adversarial foes. The catalyst to being friend or foe is the human element.

Given the right circumstances, police are compassionate heroes. Given the wrong circumstances, police are the devil incarnate. Most tend toward keeping their wits about them in all circumstances, but there are an inordinate number who reveal their Mr. Hyde when their Dr. Jekyll would be better suited. That’s where personality most likely plays a role.

It’s more than likely that those police who give in to their baser instincts have an underlying defect with respect to their being suitable for the job. Perhaps there’s a tendency towards bullying. Or maybe they had themselves been victims of bullying…in the home, at school, in the workplace. It might be that they served in the military and are therefore predisposed to pulling the trigger, and asking questions later. Worse case scenario is that they are prejudiced toward people different from themselves.

Sometimes in the heat of the moment, police can simply lose control and go absolutely berserk. I often think about this when I remember the lickings my mom would give when I was a child.

One time in particular when she, a 200 pound woman, lunged at my teenage brother. With both hands around his throat, I thought she was going to choke him to death. I remember screaming for her to stop. She finally did, I guess realizing she was going too far. Whether my brother had done something so heinous which drove my mom over the edge, or whether he sassed her back…I don’t remember. What remains permanently carved into my memory is my brother struggling to get out from under the full weight of my mom as she lay on top of him across the bed, her hands squeezing the breath out of him.

My mom’s church-going friends, even the pastor himself, never, ever saw this side of my mom. Her Mr. Hyde. Only her children witnessed the ugly side of an otherwise upstanding, law-abiding, religious citizen. And we all kept her secret from the world beyond our front door. What else could we do? We were too scared to tell.

Police are human. Sometimes they can be scary humans. How do we prevent their Mr. Hydes from taking over…

…and killing???

………hugmamma.

 

our freedoms…at a price

For gun activists who refuse any and all efforts at having their rights to bear arms restricted, they must bear some of the burden for the mass killings that are taking innocent lives. Whether they care to accept the fact that each of these deaths is like a notch etched upon the grip of their guns, it is nonetheless an indelible mark upon their consciences. The only way to ignore this shared responsibility is to relegate those deaths to media statistics. Twenty-four/seven coverage blurs the faces of the dead until they are no longer recognizable as human beings, individuals whose lives were cut short. Their souls lingering on in the purgatory of memories of loved ones left behind.

Facebook, Twitter and other such media sites are similarly responsible for the massacre of innocent lives. Folks in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Acting as enablers of social connectivity, these billion dollar corporations accept no responsibility for crimes that are perpetrated through the use of their sites. The co-mingling of users whose sole purpose is elevated pen-paling with those intent upon murder is akin to seals swimming with sharks. It’s only a matter of time before the latter gets the upper hand.

What price freedom? Sometimes death.

A sad statement when we are willing to accept our lives as headlined in the news. We the people are responsible for what happens to us. We allow it to happen every time we scream our allegiance to our inalienable rights…to bear arms…and freedom of speech. We refuse to compromise our rights, to give an inch to save another’s life. Rights supersedes lives. Always. Either that or the wealthy and their minions who crowd out the silent rest of us are allowed to run roughshod over whatever stands in the way.

We reap what we sow…all of us. Those who buy and sell guns, and those who use social media. We support the framework of human demise.

…simple truth.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

 

nurturing thursdays: love one another…

In keeping with the season, I think it’s fitting to remember that we are all children of God.

That includes those among us who choose to turn their backs upon the rest, even going so far as to massacre innocent people.

God the Almighty Father will determine their fate.

We know not what lies deep within one another’s hearts…our sorrows, our anxieties.

Only God knows.

Rather than sit in judgment, we should rally with one another to heal any divisiveness.

Our fundamental humanity should bind us one with the other.

We should put aside our robes of many colors…racial, cultural, religious.

Those who would lead us astray and isolate us one from the other are themselves enemies of humanity and…of God.

“I am the Lord thy God…thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

“The Lord is my Shepherd…”

Let us not follow graven images eager to raise themselves up to be false gods.

They are only interested in amassing personal wealth and an army of followers to rival all that has been created by the one, true God of all people.

God does not choose one race over the other.

God does not choose one culture over the other.

God does not choose one religion over the other.

God created all of us  with love.

God will have the final say…

…about what we have done with His love.

………hugmamma.

(Note…more inspiration can be gathered from ladies of wisdom at…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/nurt-thurs-peace/#comment-26089 )

the top one percent…

…are the ones in control of the U.S. economy and therefore what happens, or doesn’t happen, in our country. The country’s purse strings are essentially managed by these few. If they consider something that’s good for the country is also advantageous to their bottom line, these mostly white men will put all their weight behind the cause. However if there’s even the smallest doubt that they will benefit from the outcome, these few will either step aside and let the cause die a natural death, or use whatever it takes to ensure that it dies.

Lack of gun control.

Global warming.

Two issues that are killing people. Unless the top one percent are personally affected by either problem, they will continue to fan the flames of our destruction. It might be that they’re hedging their bets.

Until the earth self-destructs, the uber-wealthy will continue to line their pockets with gold. Meanwhile, it doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan…they’ve booked a flight into outer space on Virgin Airlines. Such a likelihood was depicted in the movie Elysium.

Of course some of the wealthiest, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet among them, are notable philanthropists. I’m not sure where they stand on gun control and global warming. Whatever their stance, however, I don’t see them or any of the other wealthiest one percent in America taking on those lobbying against gun control, namely the NRA, and global warming.

Charles and David Koch, and Donald Trump for that matter, are arch defenders of capitalism at any price. They put their substantive pocket books where their mouths are. They walk the talk.

No gun control.

No global warming.

As long as the wealthiest one percent in America can defend themselves against guns and global warming, they won’t take action against either. It would require too much effort…

…and too much of their amassed fortunes.

………hugmamma.