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.

 

 

 

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