Judgment: Close at Hand?

At a class this evening, we were studying the Catholic concept of the “last four things”: death, judgment, heaven and hell. Like being born, these are the inescapable aspects of our end that we all share in common.

As such topics are wont to do, the talk turned to whether or not we are living in end times.  My friend Anna is hoping so, because she wants to see the second coming of Christ and the establishment  of a “new heaven and earth,” the resurrection of the dead and glorification of the bodies of the elect.

I fear we could cause our own end. I do not recall ever in my life being truly worried about world conflagration the way I am today. It is no secret from my previous blogs that I find Trump a deeply flawed human being and dangerous as our President. Not just to our Constitutional protections, but to our very lives.

What President that cares about the fate of the citizenry would – at a Missouri tax rally – make mock of North Korea’s leader only a day after that dangerous country launches a rocket capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that can now reach the farthest shores of our nation?

And what Congress let’s him tweet – without censure – vile, inflammatory, bigoted  and unverified videos from a fascist source, incurring the wrath of our closest ally?

Our class discussion also talked about the Catholic belief that we all face two types of judgment, one “particular” (personal) for our own actions and another “general” for how we behaved in our group affiliations.

If we could by our own human errancy bring about our end, I would not want to be a member of the GOP House or Senate, or one of its leaders, nor a member of Trump’s Cabinet. Because all have the power to stop the insanity that takes place daily on a twitter feed originating in the Oval Office. And all, because of vested interests, refuse to act.

They will be judged – by history or by Christ.  One way or another, it is an end they will not escape.

Yes –“Die Hard” is a Christmas Movie

With all the things going on in Washington this week – Senate voting on the Paul Ryan Postcard Tax Plan; a fight over who is heading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Michael Flynn’s attorneys notifying Donald Trump’s that they are no longer on the same team; Harry and Meghan getting engaged; (not to mention bringing Ringo into the Roy Moore controversy) – it turns out the most tweeted about topic this morning was:  is “Die Hard” truly a Christmas movie?

My answer to @TheRickWilson (paraphrased here) was: well, yeah!

In fact, I am going to say this may be the most quintessential depiction of a U.S. Christmas, perhaps even nudging out “A Christmas Story” for that honor.

First, the hero of the story, NYPD Detective John McClane, is living every Snowbird’s Christmas dream:  going somewhere warm for the holiday.  In McClane’s case, it is to Los Angeles for a tense reconciliation with his family, who has decamped there so his wife, Holly, can pursue her corporate dreams.

See, already this movie is about retirees, palm trees, a broken family, women in the workplace and Hollywood.  How much more Americans at Christmas can it get?

Plenty.  Holly – in feminist representation using her last name Gennero – is working for a multinational corporation called Nakatomi.  Now mind you, this is a nearly 30 year-old movie dealing with trade issues Trump loves to rail about today.  How au currant as well.  Not only does this Japanese company own a primo location in L.A., it also has a state of the art, computer controlled vault holding $640 million in corporate bearer bonds.  So now we know how the trade deficit got started.

Anyway, McClane is invited to the ubiquitous company Christmas party; you know, the one we’ve all been to where someone has a little too much to drink, some hanky-panky takes place (all consensual, of course) and the most obnoxious guy in the office thinks he is the hottest property there.  And McClane gets there in a private limo, the driver of which waits on him down in the garage, listening to hip hop and tending a giant Teddy Bear (see – Teddy Bears are for Christmas and Valentine’s only, everyone knows that!)

Enter the bad guys, bearing enough military hardware to capture a school yard or a small town held by ISIS, take your pick.  Now you have a Christmas movie perfectly plotted for the NRA and military buffs.

For those who love their John Wayne movies, in this Christmas movie, our John goes solo Green Barefoot Beret with a handgun and a T-shirt that – over the course of the movie – will never be Clorox clean again.  I believe this is a Christmas nod to all the mothers who have tried in vain to get the grass stains out of the football uniforms, soccer jerseys, tennis whites, etc.

Again, this movie is so prescient of our times.  The leader of the bad guys turns out to be German – in other words, Trump’s vision of Angela Merkel as leader of the free world and NATO.  Unlike Trump, Hans Gruber is a master negotiator of all sorts of transactions during this movie:  bathroom breaks, couches for pregnant women about to deliver, the quick demise of the Nakatomi Chairman.  McClane, who was watching, gives his position away (sorry, I don’t think John Wayne ever did that, Bruce-it’s more like a Roy Rogers move). Then, McClane is chased by Tony, the Viking blond brother of Karl, a maniac played by ballet star Alexander Godunov because, I guess, Baryshnikov was busy starring in “The Nutcracker” back in old snowy New York.  Remember, this is a CHRISTMAS movie.

Anyway, McClane kills Tony and sends him down the elevator dressed in a Santa Hat and wrapped in Christmas packing tape…ho, ho, ho this movie has presents delivered down a shaft!  Not quite a chimney, but close enough for our purposes.  The plot twist – the C-4 and detonators Hans brought with him to add fireworks to the party have been captured by McClane.

Meanwhile, in side stories, we have a Twinkie loving cop with a pregnant wife who gets called to respond to “shots fired” at the Nakatomi building.  There is also a ruthless reporter (imagine either Anderson Cooper or Tucker Carlson, depending on whether you are conservative or liberal) trying to get “the story” going on at Nakatomi by any means necessary, despite the fact that his editors think it may be “fake news.”

Whew.  This is really a Christmas movie for our times, isn’t it?  It’s even got the FBI in it!  Of course, they end up going down in flames – hopefully our present day agents will have a better fate when the Mueller investigation runs its course.

Where was I?  Okay, obnoxious guy who thinks he is a genius negotiator gets killed by Hans when he can’t convince McClane to hand over the C-4 and detonators (see, a Christmas movie both Antifa and Neo Nazis can love!)  Hans and McClane face off, with Hans trying to pretend he is an escaped hostage.

In the spirit of Christmas giving, McClane gives Hans a gun which Hans uses to try to shoot McClane except – whoops, it has no bullets!  You know, like the toys you give the kids and forget to buy batteries to go with them.

McClane figures out Hans is going to kill the hostages by taking them to the roof and exploding it, giving the impression the bad guys have died when in fact Hans expects them to escape with the bearer bonds they finally have gotten hold of.  Meanwhile, Hans has made his way back down to the party to watch the TV news and learns that Holly is – gasp – a McClane, not a Gennero at all!  See, feminism only gets you so far, and then they figure out you’re married after all – and that makes you vulnerable all of a sudden and easy to use as cover against the cop husband holding a machine gun.

McClane – who in the interim has managed to kill Karl, or so he thinks – gives up the machine gun but has cleverly Christmas taped a gun between his shoulders.  That one present you didn’t know you needed but were so glad to get.

He shoots the remaining bad guys, including Hans, who starts to fall out a window but grabs Holly by her Christmas bonus Rolex, threatening to take her with him, until McClane unlocks the clasp and Hans falls flailing through the air with Holly’s watch.  Women never get paid what they are worth.

So, all seems to be saved. Holly and John have patched things up when Karl comes charging out of the building to kill McClane but is instead shot by our Twinkie loving cop because who doesn’t want one of those in their Christmas stocking in case of emergency?  Holly reclaims her last name in a nod to those women who take their husband’s names as their own and punches the bad reporter in the nose – something I keep expecting Sarah Huckabee Sanders to do any day now. (P.S. Notice how Sarah kept her old name and took a new one?  Maybe Holly should have thought of that.)

So there you have it – the quintessential movie that has presents for everyone.  How can it not be called a Christmas movie?

Ralphie and his bunny suit just don’t compare.



I Have a Wish Bone to Pick with China

Dear President Xi Jinping:

As is my custom, I began decorating my home for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving.  For several years now, I have wanted a lighted wreath for my front door.  My problem: the builders of my home for some reason – though a brand name contractor of the Atlanta area – never installed outside electric outlets.  Although they did put a nice little plaque with their company name on it inside my coat closet.

Last year I looked at pre-lit wreaths that run on batteries and thought – that would be perfect!  But, since I already have four different Christmas wreaths I have collected over the decades in storage in my Christmas room, I just couldn’t justify adding a fifth.  Although one of them –that I made myself and is my favorite – is not suitable for outdoors.  So I guess technically I have three outdoor wreaths and one indoor one.  (See picture below).


Then, this year, I spotted battery operated lights while buying gift bags and tissue paper at the Dollar Tree.  It didn’t dawn on me until later that I could buy some of those and wrap them around a wreath I already had in storage.  Being at Walmart at the time, I asked and a clerk showed me some that were slightly higher priced but looked much nicer than those I saw at the Dollar Tree.  Besides, you know how we Americans are – if it is more expensive, it must be better.

I brought my package home, got out the simulated fir and real pine cone wreath I thought would work best, and was delighted it would wrap all the way around.  Then I looked at the little box where the batteries fit – and found the world’s tiniest screw that was diligently put into the smallest hole that opened the back of the box up into which the batteries were to be placed.  (See photo below)

Christmas screw

Now, as luck would have it, I happen to own one of the world’s smallest screw drivers.  So I dug it out of the junk drawer and tried several sizes to unscrew the box back.  (See photo below)


I turned and I turned and I turned (both directions) – and nothing happened.  The screw did not move an inch.  My disappointment was profound.  But this year, I was determined to have a lighted wreath.

So, I whipped out my Home Depot card, went down to the store and bought the below.  (It is hard to see the lights – it’s not quite dark enough yet.  But they do light up with just four double AA batteries! )

door wreath

This wreath “cascade” (which I got at a discount) was also made in China.  But it was very easy to install the batteries because the box which holds them is much bigger and has latches that open it – not a tiny screw in a hole.  (See Photo Below)

batter box latches

Now, I am not asking for the $2.97 I paid for the lights at Walmart back from China, even if it does add somewhat to the trade deficit Trump keeps clamoring on about.  I more than made it back on my Home Depot discount.

But, since you are looking to becoming the world’s leading, most progressive economic power (and never did I think I would be saying those words to a Communist leader), I just thought you might like to know so next year you can make those tiny screws on the battery-operated Christmas lights just a little bigger and easier to unscrew.

Either that, or you need to make a screw driver with a Phillips head that’s even smaller than the one I already own.

P.S.  Thanks for not backing out of the Parish Climate Agreement.  If it weren’t for people like you, Emmanuel Macron (who’s paying some of our bills to the U.N.) and Angela Merkel (who is apparently the new leader of the free world), I am not sure what would become of our country under this Presidential administration.  And I am so, so sorry we pulled out of the TPP.  That was a really dumb decision too, especially since economists have been saying since the 80’s that the Pacific Rim was where the next economic boom was going to happen.  Everyone who has ever lived on the West Coast knows that.  And if we just had a State Department left to speak of, I am sure we could come to some sort of agreement over the South China Sea and those pesky North Korean nukes.  After all, any country that can make the world’s smallest screw so no one else can take it out and actually use their product after they spent nearly $3 for it is pretty darn savvy, in my book.



Yes, Trump Wants Our Social Security Too

My friend Gladstone shared the below with me. I was already angry that politicians said our Social Security was an “entitlement” as if it were a dirty word. Now they want to call it a “benefit” as if it were welfare? And Trump wants them to reform the  “welfare” system after tax cuts? NO WAY!


The Social Security check is now (or soon will be) referred to as a “Federal Benefit Payment?” I’ll be part of the one percent to forward this. I am forwarding it because it touches a nerve in me, and I hope it will in you. Please keep passing it on until everyone in our country has read it.

The government is now referring to our Social Security checks as a “Federal Benefit Payment.” This isn’t a benefit. It is our money paid out of our earned income! Not only did we all contribute to Social Security but our employers did too. It totaled 15% of our income before taxes.

If you averaged $30K per year over your working life, that’s close to $180,000 invested in Social Security.

If you calculate the future value of your monthly investment in social security ($375/month, including both you and your employers contributions) at a meager 1% interest rate compounded monthly, after 40 years of working you’d have more than $1.3+ million dollars saved!

This is your personal investment. Upon retirement, if you took out only 3% per year, you’d receive $39,318 per year, or $3,277 per month.

That’s almost three times more than today’s average Social Security benefit of $1,230 per month, according to the Social Security Administration. (Google it – it’s a fact).

And your retirement fund would last more than 33 years (until you’re 98 if you retire at age 65)! I can only imagine how much better most average-income people could live in retirement if our government had just invested our money in low-risk interest-earning accounts.

Instead, the folks in Washington pulled off a bigger “Ponzi scheme” than Bernie Madoff ever did. They took our money and used it elsewhere. They forgot (oh yes, they knew) that it was OUR money they were taking. They didn’t have a referendum to ask us if we wanted to lend the money to them. And they didn’t pay interest on the debt they assumed. And recently they’ve told us that the money won’t support us for very much longer.

But is it our fault they misused our investments? And now, to add insult to injury, they’re calling it a “benefit”, as if we never worked to earn every penny of it.

Just because they borrowed the money doesn’t mean that our investments were a charity!

Let’s take a stand. We have earned our right to Social Security and Medicare. Demand that our legislators bring some sense into our government.

Find a way to keep Social Security and Medicare going for the sake of that 92% of our population who need it.

Then call it what it is: Our Earned Retirement Income.

99% of people won’t forward this. Will you?

My Sarah Huckabee Sanders Thanks List

Taking a page from the White House press secretary’s playbook, let me take a few minutes to list the things I am most thankful for at this time in my life:

  • I am always thankful for my son. I have been since the day I learned I was pregnant with him. He is my great love and the reason I got up every morning from the day he was born. He is a kind, decent, intelligent human being. I am blessed to be his mother.
  • I am thankful for my daughter-in-law, most especially for how much she loves my son. I know that together, they are each so much more than they are separately. They complement each other well. I am grateful they are best friends, that throughout the 13+ years they’ve had as a couple, they have been tested and come out stronger for it. I am grateful for her friendship to me and the time we spend together.
  • I am grateful for my sisters. Though we did not grow up together, we have grown close as we’ve aged. They have helped me know myself and my birth mother better. It is nice to know I have sisters to visit and nieces and nephews and their little ones to watch grow in life.
  • I am grateful for my friends, some of long standing, others more recent. Often they have been like family to me. We have laughed together, cried together, traveled together, prayed together. Sometimes we fight like sisters, which is good training if my sisters and I ever have a fight (it’s been 15 years of growing closer with my Texas clan – so far not a cross word between us!)
  • I am grateful for my Savior and the Divine Mercy and grace He so lovingly shares with me. He has sent wonderful mentors when I have needed them most. When I need to hear Him, He speaks and tells me exactly what I need to understand the things I find so incomprehensible at times.  He is my rock, my shelter, my teacher, my friend.
  • I am thankful for the goodness God has brought into my life after many years of hardship and heartache. In Him, I know who I am – His daughter, an heir to His kingdom and an eternity in His presence.
  • I am thankful to have a day of respite from the cares and worries of the world, from the many things that tug at my heart strings I would change if only I could. But I don’t have a magic wand, and I can only let God’s will be done. Then trust He will make it all nothing but goodness in the end.

If I Could Be Atticus Finch

There are definitely days I wish I had followed my friend Mary into law. Today is one of them.

I remember wanting to be a lawyer almost as vividly as wanting to be a writer. I lived for the legal dramas my mother let me stay up late watching with her: « Perry Mason; » « The Bold Ones », « The Defenders. ». I am quite sure I never missed an episode of « L.A. Law. » And yes, the old « Law and Order » franchise.

But if I had have gone to Berkeley as Mary did, the outcome may have been different. Though she is a dear friend and « Aunt » to my son, she enjoyed being the conservative voice on Law Review. My heart probably would have bled from the corporate centrism that I embraced for so long into a fiery defender of press freedoms and human rights. At least I hope it would have.

Especially today, after reading the « NY Times » story on Iraqi citizen Basim Razzo, who’s house-along with his brother’s- were wrongly targeted by a U.S. military air strike. Especially learning that losing his home, his wife, daughter, brother and nephew in a wrongful drone strike due to bad intelligence, the military offered him $15,000 in « condolence » funding. Is that the price we put on human lives when our military makes mistakes?

According to this news report, we are barely willing to ADMIT our mistakes, with civilian death rates in our pursuit of ISIS allegedly 33 times higher than we are willing to own -1 in 5 killed in the last few years have been civilians.

Ironic they also published a piece about how the military pushed a disinformation campaign on the public before the Vietnam Tet offensive to convince folks at home the North Vietnamese were losing steam.  Or perhaps not so coincidental.

I want to be a lawyer to fight Trump from trying to force the sale of his arch nemesis CNN in order to manipulate the Time Warner-AT&T merger. He is abusing the office of his presidency to take revenge on a news organization and Jeff Sessions is letting him use the DOJ to do it because – well – it might make up for him recusing himself on all matters Russia as relates to the Trump campaign. News flash to Jeff Sessions – no matter how much you grovel, Trump never forgives. One day, he will oust you. Talk to Chris Christie about Trump’s loyalty.

I want to defend « net neutrality. » When the « Information Highway » came into existence, it was supposed to be a freeway anyone could drive to find knowledge and information. As it has become increasingly monetized by the companies doing business on it, taking away its last protections will become the equivalent of having to buy the Encyclopedia Brittanica-most houses won’t  afford it. And the organizations willing to plow the most money into it will be prioritized as the voices heard. Freedom of information will be a forgotten phrase. The chance for demagoguery to push further into our civic discourse will be grow exponentially.  The term « free speech » will become an oxymoron.

I want to be a lawyer to defend every woman who has a #MeToo story to tell. They all deserve one and there is only so much of  Gloria Allred to go a round.

I want to be a lawyer to speed up the disability hearing process so 18,000 more people don’t die before their claims are thoroughly adjudicated over the next two years.

« If wishes were horses, beggars could ride. » An old, old adage. I am not a lawyer. All I can do is blog and hope some lawyer somewhere reads this and takes on a just cause.  Even if they are tilting at windmills. We need more Atticus Finches in this world. Sadly, that noble lawyer was not real. But the threats to our ability to speak freely and be treated justly are.

I Was Once Paul Ryan’s “Cindy”

This past week, in an attempt to convince the average taxpayer that Paul Ryan’s Post Card Plan would benefit them, Speaker Ryan introduced on Twitter “Cindy.”  She is a “pretend” single mother earning $30,000 per year who would get a $700 tax break thanks to the massive 1,000+ page reform and tax cut package the GOP has rammed through the House and is attempting to ram through the Senate with no bipartisan consensus whatsoever.

In what was a crude, chalkboard drawing of “Cindy’s” life, Ryan talked about how she could squirrel away that $700 for some unanticipated need.  I did the math and determined that if we were talking about a true raise in “Cindy’s” income, it equates to about $17 per week.

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker.  If “Cindy” is very lucky, she might be able to buy a cheap set of tires for her car if she needs them.  The last set I bought cost me more than $1,100 about 4 years ago.

At one time, I was Ryan’s “Cindy” – literally.  I had the same job (restaurant management) and earned the same salary (approximately $30,000 per year) that “Cindy” earned in his artful chalk presentation.  Of course, that was back in the mid-90’s, so the “Cindys” of the world have not seen an actual increase in income for more than 20 years by his own admission.  I am sure that $17 per week will make them jump for joy.

Along with my then teenage son, I moved to Atlanta in the early 90’s for family reasons.  I had given up a good job in public affairs with Pacific Gas and Electric Company several years earlier to try my hand at owning my own business.  I struggled with it for about a year before admitting defeat and the need to move on.

When I worked at PG&E, the CEO knew me by name.  I dined on silver chargers at one of the most lavish hotels in San Francisco one year, and for the first time in my life had sorbet between courses to cleanse my palette.  At cocktails after, one of our reps walked in with John Kerry and he joined us for drinks.

Naively, I thought that background plus my media experience would make me a hot property once I got to Atlanta.  What a joke that turned out to be.  I can remember calling to see about the advancement of my application for a media relations role with a federal agency here in Atlanta.  Mine was among 500 resumes they were reviewing.

I needed a job-fast.  I had a child to support, the need to make a home for him and a sister-in-law who never had much in the way of patience for me, seeing me eternally as five-years-old and the “little brat” who took love and attention away from her beloved husband.  My days in their household looking for a place to land were numbered.

My parents were bar and restaurant workers.  Both were fabulous cooks and hard workers, although they tended to stay at work drinking after hours long when I should have been home and in bed.  I saw a lot of things in my early years to which most children are not exposed.  However, I did learn to play pool and shuffleboard at an early age, skills that still haven’t quite left me.  Glass half full.

When I was 13, my Dad achieved his dream of finally opening his own restaurant.  We moved 30 miles across the border from Indiana into Ohio and lived above The Cottage Inn, where my parents worked like slaves for the next three years, only to lose our home in Indiana they had put up as collateral because supposedly they still owed the bank money on the lease.  Business tip:  Never let the bankers – who also happened to own the restaurant – do your bookkeeping for you too.

At any rate, those three years saw me serving breakfast before school, during lunch to classmates on my own breaks from school, and dinners after, five days per week, plus all day on Saturdays and Sundays.  Between the ages of 13 and 19, I was the best waitress you could have hoped to come across.  So good, in fact, that the supper club where I started as a bus girl the summer before I turned 18 let me work the floor as a waitress when they had overflow and turned me into their weekday lunch waitress in the cocktail lounge.  I served only the food – the bartender brought over the drinks.  It was still illegal.

Now, I cannot cook a homemade meal worth a flip.  In fact, the only too true story about my cooking skills is the night I came home from work and told my son I was going to make supper.  He told me he would rather have McDonald’s, reached into his own pocket, and paid for our meal.

However, I can flip burgers and drop fries all day long.  And, the small fast food restaurant I took over in the Atlanta area ended up having the fastest speed of drive through for our territory in the time I managed it. In fact, we went from being one of the worst restaurants in Atlanta to being one of the best in our chain.

But if restaurant work is grueling (trust me, it is), fast food work is 10x more difficult because of the speed at which you are expected to serve customers, and the volume of customers you are expected to serve in order to make an equivalent amount of money for your product as compared to dine-in restaurants.  Often managers end up working the floor as well as managing their shifts, doing reports, inventory, etc. because employees are inclined to call off.

They are not 40 hour work weeks – more like 70-80.  When you are in your 40s doing this, and you have been working many years of similar hours before in newsroom and corporate settings, your body breaks down fast.  At least mine did.

But God saw fit to take care of me with later jobs better suited to my education and developed skill sets.  I was blessed not only to more than double my income in the next few years, but with a windfall from stock options as well.  I know it was God caring for me, because my body continued to betray me, and by 2003, I had to retire.

So, I am luckier than many of the other “Cindys” of the world.  My ability to purchase a nice home in a beautiful neighborhood, help my son through Emory, bring an elderly friend to live in my home and pay my way in the world has been exponentially better than when I was “Cindy” back in the early 90s.

But here’s the thing.  That $700 Speaker Ryan is so happy to give “Cindy” might cover one major expense this year.  But just one.  If “Cindy” has a life that reflects my own at the time, she would always have been juggling her bills, even pawning her jewelry and car title when needed to make sure ends meet.  That is the reality of “Cindy’s” life, not the chalk board version Ryan so “creatively” imagines.

All this to give rich people tax breaks to buy private jets and fuel them, to give their heirs greater fortunes than they already stand to inherit.  Meanwhile, let’s remember, “Cindy” hasn’t seen her income level rise in about 22 years now.  And she most likely still won’t.

Because those people intend to buy jets, high end real estate and blue chip stocks with that extra income they will get from their tax breaks, which start at about $250,000 per year.  They do not plan to reinvest it in the economy.  Just ask Gary Cohn – he asked them quite literally the other day and they said “no.”

And that is a shame.  Because it is the “Cindys” of the world they are reliant upon to fuel those jets, serve those heirs and work at the corporations in their stock portfolios.  They should care that “Cindy” has good medical benefits, is a highly educated/trained worker and will stay on the job for a long time, reducing the turnover costs of hiring and firing employees.  A hint – it is expensive.  Which is why so many companies have turned to the temp-to-hire model.

I am not an economist and I can’t give you an extrapolation of dollars in earlier years to today’s value.  I just know that when America took care of its employees, the country prospered.  When shareholders and the corporate elite stopped caring about the guy making the widgets, they hurt themselves in the long run.

If they only care about self-interest, they should realize it costs them more than ever before to have their way politically, for one thing. Think of how much money they have to pour into their campaigns to elect people the quality of a Roy Moore.  Shockingly, the Koch Brothers and the Mercers of the world don’t care.  But then again, Harvey Weinstein didn’t honestly care about what he claimed on his side of the aisle, either.

If shareholders don’t think the discontent in the American workplace costs their stock values and dividends, then they don’t know much about the world of work.  Many probably don’t.

I suggest they learn.  And I suggest they take some of that money they would have put into their jets, real estate and stock portfolios and invest in “Cindy” instead.

That is, if those who say they truly want to “Make America Great Again” honestly do.




Washington’s Week In Review

Never has the news coming out of Washington seemed so confusing and convoluted as it does during the era of Trump.

If there is a way to twist it, spin it or sit on it, the Trump Administration has found a way to make a pretzel of it all.

And there are so many details, so many iterations, that it is becoming mind numbing.

I mean, does Jared Kushner have early onset Alzheimers, is he stupid or is he covering for others? How can one person not remember so many details of what has to have been one of the most consequential years of his life?  And how many times before the Trump campaign did he have so much contact with Russians, their representatives and their U.S. cheer leading team that the meetings he did have just slipped his mind?

As for Jeff Sessions – seriously?  How many times can someone say « I don’t recall » for the record without invoking the Fifth?  And he is the HEAD of our Justice system!

Meanwhile, we have the Governor of Alabama saying she has no reason to disbelieve Roy Moore’s accusers, but she will vote for him anyway because -gee- party before sexual predators  That she believes the fate of justice (Supreme Court seats) rests on a man accused of inappropriate sexual contact with a minor is more than ironic – it is moronic.  At what price is she willing to have her brand of justice?

On the Democratic side, we have Al Franken  throwing himself on the funeral pyre with abject apology, fellow Dems throwing wood on the fire and Trump hypocritically lighting a match while forgetting he has more than a dozen women who have accused him of worse and he has self-admitted his predilections on tape to Access Hollywood.

I used to think Washington was a serious place for serious people.

Instead, it has become the worst reality show on television, and the first year’s episodes haven’t even played out yet!

When the President of France tells the world he will cover our economic promises to the U.N. because our government won’t, what country have we become?

At least the week is ending with somewhat of a reprieve for the poor elephants ( no, I am not referring to the Grand Old Party kind).  Evidently even Donald Trump realizes the poor P.R. look on rolling back ivory trophies while a picture of his namesake holding a tusk is circulating social media.

There was so much more this week -I mean, how do you really cover the impact of the House passage of its Tax Plan.  Or is it a jobs plan?  Or is it a reform plan?  I am confused.  But we know one thing for sure – it is definitely Paul Ryan’s Postcard Plan!

I am holding my breath with anticipation for the release of the picture for its front.  Will it be the chalk drawing of Cindy, who makes $30,000 per year in her restaurant job, and who will get a tax break that equates to $17 a week to support herself and her child? Will it be Don Jr holding up the elephant tusk? A photo of Jeff and Jared scratching their heads with question marks adorning it wth captions over their heads?

Or perhaps it will be that picture of Steve and Louise, fingering the dollars they’ll save on the tax break written in for private jet owners?

Next week can’t get here soon enough.  Set the DVR.


The 12th Commandment Is…

I am Re-upping this blog post in wake of the calls for Senator Al Franken to resign today, December 6, 2017:

It doesn’t pay to have political heroes, I’ve decided.

At least not the living kind.  And definitely not one who is a male of the species.  But then again, there are women who do seemingly use their sexuality to get what they want from some men with political power (Louise Linton, opera gloves, leather skirt, hands all over the money, cough cough).  They aren’t my heroes, either.

My heart dropped when I heard the news about Senator Al Franken (D-MN) today.  I have read his book, “Giant of the Senate,” and was delighted with his combination of whip smart humor and razor sharp intelligence boxed up in what seemed like a Mid-western morality.  He has been my hero during the Senate Judiciary hearings, asking pointed, direct and pertinent questions about the Russian interference in the 2016 election and what role may have been played by the Trump campaign.

Now I find out he’s just another guy hyped up on testosterone.

Yes, his apology was more sincerely stated than others currently standing in his shoes. (What’s that, Roy Moore?  Thou shalt not apologize is the 11th Commandment?  Does that mean it doesn’t count?)

But wouldn’t it be refreshing if men quit apologizing for sexually harassing women because they simply – quit.

Here’s a hint – if what you are doing while women are present is at all work related, don’t go there.  Laugh at Mother Pence all you like – he is at least a man who knows what his temptations may be and uses his wife’s presence to shield him from either directly or indirectly giving the impression he has hands and eyes for anyone but her.

But then again, all you have to do is look at the way Barack and Michelle Obama look at one another, and you know how deep their love is.  Besides, she would hit him in the head with a frying pan if he messed around, and he knows it.  Love you girl.  You are fierce.

Yes, our political class is a disappointment, for a lot of reasons.  But then, they always have been.  It is just the American way to sanitize and glorify our Founding Fathers and Honest Abe, Teddy R, FDR, JFK and Bobby.  Yes, GOP, Ronnie too.

We all know Thomas Jefferson had children with Sally Hemings and was not always a gentle owner of slaves.  But, he did give us the Declaration of Independence and was a truly brilliant man. So we pretend the first part never happened and never bother to fully read the second beyond knowing it guarantees our right to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Or you at least had that guarantee if at the time it was written you were a white, male property owner, preferably with ancestry that could be traced to the Mayflower.

Still, maybe Jefferson should have put a footnote in the Declaration for the guys in Congress and elsewhere on just what “happiness” entails.

It is not getting what you want, when you want it, on demand or by force.

Second hint to you guys out there:  “‘No’ is a complete sentence.”  There is no equivocation, qualification or amplification needed.  It’s just “no.”

But don’t worry.  For every guy with a little bit of cash, there is a version of Louise Linton for you too.  You just might have to hear “no” for a while until you find her.  And no matter what they told you in junior high gym class, you won’t die from your, er, you know – unless you took Viagra beforehand and it is now four hours later.  Then, get thee to an emergency room.

I know this is sounding very tongue in cheek, irreverent and maybe a little bit mean (sorry, Louise Linton – but you make yourself such an easy target).

But none of it is funny.  None of it is laughable.  In fact, it’s hard not to cry over it and let go with my flood of #MeToo tales.  We women all have them.

And that’s what’s truly wrong in our society.  That there isn’t a woman out there who hasn’t been through this at some point in her life.  Probably even Louise Linton.

For some, it comes at far too young an age.  For others, it goes beyond sexual taunts and suggestions and turns into improper physical contact, physical violence, rape and even homicide.

It’s not that enough men aren’t sympathetic to the problem.  They are.  Even some of the ones who are part of the problem, like Al Franken.

He is willing to be accountable.  That’s a step in the right direction.

But we won’t have solved the problem until a woman can go to work to earn her paycheck without fear or prejudice based on the fact that she is – a woman.

The Good Old Boys Club needs a 12th Commandment.  Simply put – Thou shalt not…


What Is Sexual Harassment

Any of the following unwanted behavior may constitute sexual harassment:

  • leering
  • wolf whistles
  • discussion of one’s partner’s sexual inadequacies
  • sexual innuendo
  • comments about women’s bodies
  • ‘accidentally’ brushing sexual parts of the body
  • lewd & threatening letters
  • tales of sexual exploitation
  • graphic descriptions of pornography
  • pressure for dates
  • sexually explicit gestures
  • unwelcome touching and hugging
  • sexual sneak attacks, (e.g., grabbing breasts or buttocks )
  • sabotaging women’s work
  • sexist and insulting graffiti
  • demanding, “Hey, baby, give me a smile”
  • inappropriate invitations (e.g., hot tub)
  • sexist jokes and cartoons
  • hostile put-downs of women
  • exaggerated, mocking ‘courtesy’
  • public humiliation
  • obscene phone calls
  • displaying pornography in the workplace
  • insisting that workers wear revealing clothes
  • inappropriate gifts (ex. lingerie)
  • hooting, sucking, lip-smacking, & animal noises
  • pressing or rubbing up against the victim
  • sexual assault
  • soliciting sexual services
  • stalking
  • leaning over , invading a person’s space
  • indecent exposure

Compiled by Martha Langelan in Back Off! How To Confront And Stop Sexual Harassment and Harassers

From “The Feminist Majority” Web Site



Where Has the Time Gone?

Whirlwind. That one word describes the last five days of my life.

You know your life is out of balance when the only thing in the cupboard left to eat is a package of saltines. Past time to go to the grocery.

As I think I wrote earlier, I had such good intentions this September as I began my fall schedule. I planned it all out, including my exercise periods. I wasn’t going to let my volunteer work turn into a job. Good luck with that.

I love my ministry work. It helps to feel like I am still useful in the world, that I can make a difference for someone else.

But when you stop making a positive difference for yourself, it is hard to see the difference you make for others. It starts to feel artificial and insufficient. At least it does for me, as I start to feel hollowed out and unable to feel.

A friend noted today that I unentangle myself from one commitment only to pick up another. She has a point.

What to do? Stop doing?

So difficult. I have always been an achievement junkie who lived for accolades. Now I am trying to live for Jesus. Still, I want to win a blue ribbon for it and hear someone say “atta girl.” You know, like when God spoke from heaven and said “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” No grandiosity here.

This somehow doesn’t square with the “Little Way” of Sté. Thérèse of Liseaux or eventually standing before God with empty hands because i have chosen to let Mary do as she will with my deeds, works and merits. Humility is not my greatest character trait.

Still, there has been some “downtime” this week – dinner out to celebrate a friend’s birthday, moments stolen to read Dan Brown’s latest book (Catholic I may be-still, I enjoy the things I learn about art, Europe and the “quirks” of my religion they never taught me in RCIA.) Really must make time to see Barcelona and the Gaudí park – when I am not so busy buying VO5 shampoo and conditioner at the Dollar Tree at 9 pm for women residents in prison for Christmas, perhaps.

Not nearly as romantic, but soul satisfying in its own way.  After all, the brand is “Alberto,” which sounds sort of exotic, right?

Ah, the whirlwind that is my life.  Melania would be so jealous if she knew.