Who is the Moderate Mom?

I’m a woman who always expected, and wanted, to have a career, not stay at home with kids. I don’t like cooking. Housekeeping is not my forte. I prefer high heels to sneakers, and always have. I refused to wear pants until third grade and sweatpants until sometime in my late teens. (This may have just shown good style sense in avoiding bell bottoms.) I’ve always loved fashion and fashion history. I started sewing by the time I learned to tie my shoes. And I truly love stylish hats.

Naturally, I ended up a stay at home mom. My last office job ended shortly after the Twin Towers collapsed. As a stay at home mom in Los Angeles, I ended up wearing shorts, sneakers, and flip flops most of the time. The almost never wore hats. As so often happens, as my kids grew up, I realized that my style was gone, I had gained (too much) weight, and I wasn’t reading, watching, or listening too things I genuinely enjoyed anymore.

About two years ago, I got sick and tired of all the clutter in my house. Unlike a TV show, I couldn’t get rid of it all in a day. I keep going through things, getting rid of a big bunch at first, then smaller amounts as time goes on, continually reducing the clutter. When I looked at my clothing, I realized that much of it was outdated, ill fitting, not my style, needed repairs, or just plain didn’t suit. I tossed half the clothing in my closet but that didn’t mean I loved the rest, because I didn’t. Around this time, Hancock Fabrics went out of business and I bought tons of fabric and patterns on sale. I started sewing simple outfits for myself. As I became more confident, they became more interesting and I developed a new style for myself.

My style relies a fair amount on 1950s and 1960s style, but updated to be comfortable. The truth is that swing coats, sheath dresses, and quite a few of the styles can be really comfortable if you chose the right fabric and keep the fit loose enough to not need a girdle, or Spanx.

More recently, I developed a very nasty garlic allergy. I can’t even have a tiny amount of garlic powder without reacting. In practice, this means I can’t eat out easily or eat most pre-packaged foods. So now I’m cooking most of our meals from scratch. For a woman who had to ask for instructions on making tuna salad at least four times, this has been a fairly wrenching change.

All in all, through no fault of my own, I’ve ended up very much like an updated 1950s housewife (no waiting at the door with a cigar and slippers for my husband), but with writing and blogging as my hobbies. This is not a place I ever imagined I would end up but it is a good life and I love my husband and kids. I know I’m not the only woman out there who expected a career and ended up with a life instead, and that’s why I have decided to expand The Moderate Mom beyond politics.

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Racism Affects Us All

Racism doesn’t just affect one group.

I’m not a minority, but that doesn’t mean racism doesn’t bother me or that I don’t notice. In fact, it doesn’t even mean I’ve never experienced it, although it certainly hasn’t been a dominating factor in my life. Anyone who lives in an area where they are a minority runs that risk.

I lived for years in an area that was, if not actually Mexican-dominant, very very close. If you were not Mexican, you weren’t treated well some places, and you could be charged more for services. In one particular example, a Mexican neighbor described going to a fashion designers sales and if she spoke Spanish she got a better price than if she spoke English, and she had gone more than once.

Stop Over-reacting

Are we entirely free of racism? No, of course no – don’t be daft. But to equate a white kid today telling a black kid they didn’t think they could get sunburned with skin that dark with living in 1961 Alabama as a black person, San Francisco as a Japanese-American after Pearl Harbor, an Irish person in mid-1800s America (or Britain), a Tutsi under the Rwandan government, American Indian tribes on the Trail of Tears, etc.etc. etc. is stupid.

One real-world example in the news was a white a teacher putting a black child’s hair into an elastic band because it was a hot day and this made the little girl more comfortable. Her mother was enraged and believed the teacher “just wanted to get her hands in some Black hair“. To reiterate: It was a hot day and she was helping the little girl be more comfortable, just like any other student. If the teacher had refused to help the little girl with her hair because of her skin color (if she didn’t want to touch “black hair”), then the mom would have been justified in crying racism.

Taking an incident where one person was clearly trying to help someone of another color and turning the facts on their heads to show “racism” does nothing to improve the situation. It actually makes it worse. After all, if trying to help others and understand your situation brands you a racist, then why not just stick to people who look like you? And that is definitely one giant leap in the wrong direction.

Things are Changing

For those who are convinced racism is still a huge issue (no one denies it exists), Herman Cain, Ben Carson, and Allen West all enjoyed wide support in their quest for the Presidency (yes, I know West didn’t run – but the idea was supported) from lots of white people, and of course Barack Obama was elected and served two terms. This includes people who have expressed racist attitudes in the past and people in groups/areas that have been very racist in the past.

Things ARE changing for the better, we just need to get our prejudices and preconceived notions out of the way so they can continue to improve.

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DC Exempt

One of the hardest things is to realize, and really, truly accept, that something you have cherished has lost its value to you. I’m not talking about an Xbox that is meaningless because you have an Xbox One. That’s only a possession, a replaceable object.

This happens naturally as we grow up. The stuffed animal or blanket that felt smelled like home and comforted us for years eventually becomes just another worn out, beat up stuffed animal or blanket. Our parents, while still loved, are no longer omniscient. (Years later, they magically become wiser, but it’s never again the same as it is for a young child.) Our favorite teachers are shown to be flawed humans, like the rest of us. We learn that our pastor or priest has been unkind, judgmental, or somehow failed to live up to the standard we expect of them.

The larger the failure, the more painful it is. If your beloved priest or pastor is caught in a pedophile scandal or found embezzling, it will be much more painful than if they are unwilling to make any outreach effort in “the wrong section” of town.

How painful, then, to see what transpires in our nation’s capital. Yes, as adults we all realize that politics is generally a fairly unpleasant business, but we still want to believe that our representatives are listening to us, at least a little. We need to believe, and have them demonstrate, that they are at the very least following the same laws as everyone else, most particularly our Constitution. When Congress exempts itself from a law, even temporarily, that other citizens must obey, how can we continue to believe in them? When the majority of Americans speak out and say they do, or do not, desire a law and Washington ignores us, how can we keep electing them?

When the President of the United States of America and the Congress have sunk so low that they cannot even pass a budget, how long can we let their behavior continue? And how can we vote enough of them out of office to change it?

Consequences

It literally took years for both houses to pass a budget and send it to President Obama for signature. But how can we accept them finally passing a budget as a “good thing” when our nation was without one for literally years?  (The House passed several, but they didn’t make it past the Senate and the POTUS promised to Veto them if they did.) How would any business fare if it behaved similarly? If the chief executives of a business would be fired for less than this, why do we keep electing the same people to national office when they behave so irresponsibly?

Year after year, Congress keeps spending and passing short-term fixes, but they never really repair anything. Not having a budget never stops them from spending. Right now, there are no consequences, for them, to their bad behavior. WE THE PEOPLE must start giving them consequences, starting with writing, calling and emailing them en masse to express our outrage, and escalating to voting them out of office at the next election.

The next time the subject of DC not listening to the people comes up, what will you be able to offer that you have done to help improve the situation?

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Your Political Intolerance Creates Hate

Your Political Intolerance Creates Hate

I didn’t like Obama as President. I didn’t like his policies. I didn’t like the way he conducted himself overseas. I didn’t like the way he was soooo quick to blame race for things before even looking at facts, like the events leading to Beergate. I didn’t like his choices for a lot of offices and judgeships. I didn’t like the way policies he and his wife championed impacted my family, including my kids’ school lunches. I didn’t like the way the economy remained stagnant under him, severely impacting my family and friends and what we could afford to do. I didn’t like – loathed, in fact – his signature accomplishment of Obamacare.

But here’s the thing: not once – ONCE – have I ever said things like “if you voted for him, then you voted against me”, “if you are still willing to defend this dangerous deranged idiot, something is seriously wrong with you”, “I can’t express how much I hate these people. I will never forgive them for what they’ve done to this country” – nor do I tolerate those comments from others on my social media. (Those are an actual comments people I know in real life have on their Facebook walls.)

I have seen a spate of these comments recently. I have seen years, now, of posts about how anyone who doesn’t oppose Bush/McCain/Romney/Trump (whoever the current candidate is) and everything – every.single.thing. – he supports is a racist, homophobic, greedy, scumsucking, child-killing (on account of opposing Obamacare), evil, anti-American hater, coward, and most likely closet Nazi and member of the KKK.

Here’s the point I want to be very, very clear about: I want to hear all sides of issues. I WANT to understand opposing points of view. I may never change my mind but I WANT to know why you believe what you do so we have the best chance of reaching a solution that works for everyone, and sometimes I do change my mind. But when you say I voted “against you” or there is something “seriously wrong with” me based on nothing more than support of a specific policy or politician, YOU have stopped the conversation.

When YOU are not willing to listen to anything I (or anyone else who holds a different opinion/belief than you) say, ever, then how on earth can we EVER find common ground? If your response to someone disagreeing with you on climate change, gun control, immigration, or any other hot-button topic is to say “we have nothing to discuss” or to insult them and refuse to talk, you are part of the problem – and I really don’t care what side of the issue you are on. Genuine discussion of issues is critical to democracy. 

Racists

We all get it – there are racists in America. That isn’t exactly a new development but most people seem to agree that after decades of lessening racism and racial tensions, racial tensions have flared since Obama was elected, well before Trump started running for office. In my opinion, all the pontificating by the media and in social media about how “common” and “acceptable” racism has supposedly become is the reason so much of that hate is on display. People argue that simply hiding racism doesn’t eradicate it, which is true, but when something is on public display, it grows and spreads. Hiding racism won’t end it but it can help slow or even stop the spread of it.

“Mixed race” marriages are common now. If there really was still some huge social stigma, then there would be an issue when they happen on popular TV shows and there just isn’t. Can you even imagine if the mixed-race couples on today’s Hollywood Red Carpet had been on TV and in magazines in the 60s and 70s? Today, people would give you a blank look if you mentioned mixed-race couples as an issue. Racists are outliers now, not a sign of what the mainstream finds socially acceptable. 

If you think I am being willfully blind, that conservative racism definitely reared its ugly head in opposition to Obama, read this fascinating Harvard article in HuffPo. The researchers looked for, and failed to find, racism in a group of older white Georgians interviewed specifically to learn about their racist opposition to Obama. These Harvard researchers concluded “the press and elites continue to look for a racial element that drives these voters’ beliefs – but they need to get over it.” Their words, not mine.

Most people know racism isn’t magically all-gone but you have to be incredibly delusional to think the situation hasn’t improved drastically in the last sixty years. Acting like it hasn’t does nothing to reduce racism going forward. Claiming every single person who voted for Donald Trump or supports his policies, or conservative policies and politicians in general, is a racist makes you look like an intolerant, delusional ass.

Blaming All Trump Supporters/Conservatives

Blaming all conservatives or Trump supporters for every racist, potentially racist, or can-be-spun-to-seem-racist act that happens just make everyone more angry for no good reason.  In fact, one of the “rises in hate crimes” attributed to TRUMP supporters early last year was a series of attacks on Jewish cemeteries and bomb threats. The only person I found who was accused in these crimes was a man whose “Twitter feed is full of rants against white people and Trump.” He is most definitely not a Trump supporter and Trump supporters were as horrified as any other group by what happened.

When you post all of these hateful things, YOU ARE CREATING A CLIMATE OF HATE – THE KIND OF CLIMATE THESE OUTLIERS FROM BOTH SIDES THRIVE IN. Every time you refuse to hear anything that goes against what you have already decided to be true, you add to it. Every time you refuse to be friends with someone based on their politics, you amp it up a bit more.

We Can Be Different And Want the Same Thing

When you post links like this one on “I Don’t Know How To Explain to You That You Should Care About Other People” without a single comment questioning the article…. You are fomenting hate. You assume that just because I don’t want to do things the way you do and vote for politicians supporting policies your support that I don’t care.

You probably use disposable paper napkins instead of cloth and keep the water on for every single moment you are in the shower. You probably haven’t bothered to put special film on your home windows to reduce heat gain in the summer or replaced your curtains with ones designed to reduce heat gain/loss to lower heat and ac use. You probably don’t recycle as assiduously as my family. We all show how we care about other people, the earth, animals, etc. in our own ways and to different degrees.

I don’t accuse you of not caring about the environment because you drive a Pruis (I question the impact the batteries have on the environment) and have a longer commute to work while I work from home (zero commute) and use dryer balls instead of dryer sheets. People can work toward a similar goal, such as protecting the environment, in different ways. It’s not only OK, it’s probably more effective.

Just because people do it differently than you doesn’t mean they don’t care or that they care less.

Deplorables and Shitholes

When you are all good with all of Trump’s supporters being labeled “deplorables” but somehow a disputed use of “shitholes” in a private meeting where both sides used “salty” language is practically a cause for invoking the 25th Amendment and having POTUS removed for being mentally unstable, YOU ARE CREATING A CLIMATE OF HATE.

And here’s the thing: I would be angry if he had said that in a public setting, including Twitter, because he is the President. But he didn’t. He did it in a smaller private meeting where they were negotiating and trying to work through issues. And he didn’t say anything about the PEOPLE. Haiti lost TEMPORARY protective status. You see that word there – TEMPORARY? It means not forever. They were going to lose it eventually. It just happened to be now. It doesn’t mean he hates Haitians or Haiti or black people in general. His reported focus was making sure new immigrants will not overwhelm the system. His job isn’t protecting Haiti, Nigeria, Norway, South Africa, El Salvador, or anywhere else. It’s the US.

Don’t like it? Tough luck. This isn’t Star Trek. There is no United Federation of Planets, and there is no United Earth or Terra or whatever you want to call it. Maybe someday – we can all hope – but right now, the POTUS and the US government have to put the US first. Russia puts Russia first. China puts China first. Haiti puts Haiti first. Every other nation puts themselves first (in a few cases it’s a federation, as in the EU and formerly the Soviet Union), their allies second, major trade partners third, etc. We, as nations, work together more every year – but if the POTUS doesn’t put American first, as Donald Trump does, then no one will.

It’s Not Personal

Do I like Trump? No. I do not particularly like Donald Trump and while I haven’t specifically asked, I don’t think my friends do either. But I do like his policies and our support is about his policies not about him as a person. Many of you don’t like him or his policies. I and many of my conservative friends are more than happy to discuss them with you and explain why we do, as long as you don’t attack us for it.

I don’t think less of you for not supporting him or for supporting politicians or policies I don’t like. I do, however, think less of you for refusing to even consider another point of view. And I definitely think less of you when you accuse me of being all kinds of nasty things just because I support the policies of the current POTUS or any other politician. And for the friend whose decision on whether to try to have a kid hinged on whether their candidate won the Presidential election – your priorities are whacked.

For the love of God, country, and all the things we all love, get over it. Your candidate didn’t win and your favored policies aren’t being implemented this year. Suck it up, buttercup. And yes, that goes for both sides.

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Nearly a Year

It’s been nearly a year since I posted something on this site. I’ve been focused on our parenting website, WiseFathers.com, but I am inspired to start writing about politics again. Many other parenting sites discuss politics and the owners say it’s part and parcel of parenting because political decisions affect our kids. I completely agree with that, but I chose to keep politics out of WiseFathers because it is so divisive right now.

I still believe it’s important to try to find common ground instead of just hashing over the same partisan political positions, but that not everyone agrees or sees any common ground. That’s why I have this site: for politics and controversial subjects.

My personal views boil down to two important concepts: (1) Less government is better than more, but that definitely doesn’t mean NO government is better. (2)  Even the largest problems are best solved by taking small steps. Sometimes large measures need to be enacted but there are almost always smaller steps that need to be taken as part of that.

We, as a nation, cannot continue to rely on a small number of career politicians to come up with solutions. We need new answers to the same old questions because the same old answers are clearly not cutting it. That means we need new people and new methods. Some may not work, but Thomas Edison reportedly tried 10,000 times before he got the light bulb right. Sometimes, you have to try the wrong solution to get to the right one. But trying the same things that have been failing for years or decades and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

We need to stop just telling politicians to “fix it” and start coming up with solutions.

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Make New Friends

The song Make New Friends was woven into the fabric of my youth by its ubiquity in Girl Scouts. I have always loved the sentiment, which I have always taken to mean older friends are more valuable. Unfortunately, as an adult, I am seeing that sometimes, those valued old friends change into people we can’t even recognize, and they probably feel the same about me.

Old Friends

During this most recent election cycle, I watched people I have known for decades posting things that demonstrated a painfully self-centered world view that I didn’t expect from them. I have read people whose opinions I value talk about how anyone who voted for Trump is a hate-filled, misogynistic racist, and others who say anyone who supported Hillary was an idiot. These same people seemed willing to listen to people with different points of view in the past, which makes their judgmental comments more distasteful to read. (I am hopeful that most of it was a short-term reaction to an election result they didn’t expect.)

It makes me sad, but these online attitudes and posts are affecting my real-world opinions of some of these long-time friends. For some, particularly work friends, I simply never knew them well, For others, we have simply grown too far apart over the decades, and this is just straw that broke the camel’s back. We have mental images of each other from before we ever had a college diploma, much less jobs, mortgages, spouses, and kids, with a thin overlay based on Facebook posts. There are parts of each other and our histories that we will know as no one else can, but there are even larger parts we know nothing about.

New Friends

Interestingly, I have found that some of my new friends may be even better friends than people I have known for more years. I recently met an online friend of more than fifteen (15!) years in real life for the first time, and we had a blast. The nearly forty women I have known online (and only online) for fifteen years have gone through a lot together, virtually, over the years. They are real friends, even if we haven’t met in “real” life.

Letting go can be hard, and it can seem like those old friendships should always be the valuable ones, but life changes us all. I have had to accept that I can remain friendly and chat with those old friends, but they are really just acquaintances now. The funny thing is that I have tended to have more male friends for a very long time and wanted a group of women friends. In letting go of those old (mostly male) friends, the ones I thought were “gold” (and who were, in their day), I have found what I was looking for.

I have made new “gold” friends, and I am keeping the old, once-gold-now-silver, friends. And that’s OK, because silver is great too.

As we approach a new year, I feel blessed to have all of my friends, old and new, silver and gold.

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Misplaced Anger

It’s easy to get angry, even very angry, about politics. But consider this, especially if you are getting unusually angry: Is that really why you are mad? I have found myself unusually angry after the recent election, but a lot of my anger isn’t about the results or even the way other people are reacting, although that really, really doesn’t help.

For the last two years, I have struggled with a bad cough. Despite seeing doctors several times about it, the coughing continued to plague me until I finally saw an asthma and allergy specialist. I am allergic to everything they tested me for, including the trees in my yard. On a scale of 1-4 with 4 being the highest, I am a 4++ for those trees. You might be thinking we should simply cut down the trees, but they are on our neighbors’ yards as well. In fact, we live in the middle of at least 200 acres of them.

I’m allergic to oak trees (and maple, among others). Realistically, without medication, my choices in the US seem to be the desert, Hawaii, and the Great Plains.

And I’m angry about it.

I’m angry because I love to be in the woods. We chose our house  in part because of the beautiful yard. The woods have always been a source of peace for me. I’m angry because I love to be involved in Scouts with my kids, including camping and campfires. (I have asthma, making campfires problematic.) I enjoy opening the windows when it’s nice outside. And I hate taking medicine all the time. Now, I have to take multiple medicines every day and may need regular shots, and there is no end date on those. Since I’m also allergic to dogs and cats, once our current pets pass, it’s unlikely we will be able to get more.

So, I’m angry.

The truth is that I knew my coughing was bad, but I had been living with it for a long time. The problems started in junior high and progressively, but slowly, got worse. By the time I went to the doctor, being unable to sleep all night because of coughing had become my normal. The times my coughing was bad enough to temporarily make breathing difficult were new and admittedly alarming. (In retrospect, they should have been more alarming, but it was a long process.)

No one around me realized how bad it was. If my husband had, he would have picked me up and bodily carried me in, if necessary, to make sure I saw the doctor. And I had pretty well given up on not coughing. It’s not like I hadn’t gone and had it checked, because I had – multiple times. By chance, I used an old inhaler and it helped. That helped spur me to see an allergy and asthma specialist. Thank God I did because I am better now. Completely dependent on medication, but better.

I want to grow old in my home. I don’t want to leave here when the kids go to college. I want them to come back to the home they grew up in. Someday, I want them to bring their spouses and kids here to visit and see grandchildren play in the yard, but I don’t know that we will be able to do that. I’m probably being over-reactive at the moment, but the reality is that continued exposure to an allergen (oak, in this case) normally makes anyone allergic to it more and more sensitive, and I’m already extremely allergic and definitely reactive to it. There is no guarantee that, even with shots, I’ll be able to stay here for even one decade, much less two or three.

I know I should be grateful, and I am. I am grateful to have a diagnosis and medicine that helps. I am relieved to be able to sleep all night, laying down instead of propped up on piles of pillows. I’m relieved to no longer be plagued by racking coughing, especially when I’m driving. And I do have to admit that it’s nice that the doctor said I shouldn’t be the one vacuuming, dusting, or sweeping – but I think every mom out there knows I’ll still be the one doing it. (I will, however, wear an allergen-filtering dust mask.)

But right now, I’m angry. As I tell my kids, I get to feel my feelings, but I don’t have the right to ruin anyone else’s day because of it, and that includes berating friends and acquaintences online. If you find you are getting angrier than normal, please, stop and think about what you are really angry about. It doesn’t help anything to berate your friends and family for something totally unrelated.  It just damages your relationships.

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The Danger of Attacking a Candidate’s Supporters

In American Presidential elections, there are two candidates (realistically) in the final race. This election is no different. Politics is a dirty, brutal business, which is why very few good people are willing to enter the fray and even fewer manage to stay the course. Attacking the candidates, their beliefs, their life history, their relations with the opposite sex, and even their family is par for the course. That’s part of the reason they have Secret Service protection from the time their party nominates them until they either lose or die. For some, the vitriol is sufficient that they receive protection even before receiving their party nomination.

At times, their supporters are attacked as well. Some charges are leveled against both sides, most commonly that those we don’t agree with are ignoring obvious facts and can’t/won’t think logically. While those can be unpleasant and nasty, depending on how they are phrased, they aren’t really impugning anyone’s character nor do they make “the other side” (i.e., fellow Americans) into an enemy who must be defeated at all costs.

How This Election is Different

The level of vitriol leveled at the candidates is astounding. Hillary is a lying, cheating, political hack who attacks rape victims, laughs at a tween who was raped, is guilty of dereliction of duty (Benghazi) and has committed espionage by negligence (emails). Oh, and she is covering up massive health issues. The Donald is a lying, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic jerk who cheats small businesses and sexually assaults women.

I have friends from both sides of the aisle. The conservatives are not accusing liberals or progressives of personally being liars who support rapist and think blacks are “super predators” like Hillary does. Nor has the Donald lumped Hillary’s supporters into one “basket of deplorables” who are “irredeemable” and “not America”.

On the other side, I see posts and comments from liberal friends on a daily basis who call anyone who is voting for Trump a racist, bigot, misogynist, etc. These are attacks on a candidates SUPPORTERS. This is unacceptable and dangerous. The events of October 15 demonstrate this in stark terms.

October 15

In Bangor, Maine, twenty vehicles were vandalized at a Trump rally. Unknown vandals spray-painted white lines on the vehicles. The same night, someone threw a molotov cocktail through the window of a North Carolina Republican headquarters office. Luckily no one was injured this time, but just denouncing the NC attack isn’t enough. Hillary needs to stop attacking the character of anyone who opposes her and the Democratic National Committee needs to call out her behavior as unacceptable. 

These are not the first, nor are they the last, attacks that are directly against a candidate’s supporters in this election cycle. By denigrating Donald’s supporters, Hillary and her campaign are turning them into the enemy. An enemy is automatically someone it is acceptable to attack. Her words and her treatment of those who don’t support her is leading, directly, to violence against individuals, and to property damage and destruction. (Trump supporters have been attacked for wearing Trump hats and shirts.)

Not That Different

I don’t like Donald Trump. I don’t. But I will be voting for him because there is no evidence (i.e, proof of any sort) of him doing anything worse than being a dick. Frankly, even if there was evidence of him being a rapist or sexual predator, Democrats have no room to criticize with the likes of Bill Clinton, Lyndon Johnson, and JFK in their ranks, but that is a different issue. (Johnson apparently liked to be naked in front of, well, anyone and everyone.)

Other people are voting for Hillary because they see the attacks on her as being on irrelevant points or believe that she is genuinely not guilty. They believe Trump’s personality makes him unfit, and that’s their right. We need two parties with two different, and contrasting, points of view.

No one, in either party, wants America to become nation of misogynistic, racist xenophobes. We don’t, as a nation, want to go back to the days when being a member of the KKK was something anyone celebrated. Sure, a few wing-nuts may, but the opinions of a few wackadoodles doesn’t make their position mainstream or acceptable for either party. Unfortunately, having the media relentlessly parrot that position as commonplace and acceptable by a large group can accomplish that.

The more the main stream media and social media villify any group of Americans, the more that group can become a target. It’s one thing to call those at the far ends of the political spectrum libtards and wingnuts. Ultimately, while highly unflattering, neither name implies the group is a true danger to anyone else. Racist, misogynist, and any kind of “phobic” (homophobic, Islamaphobic, etc.) are labels for groups that want to remove or suppress other groups. Everyone I know is in agreement that we need to weed out these groups.

Until we can agree to stop use those kinds of labels for those who simply disagree with us, the probability is that these kind of incidents will happen more often.

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Thoughts on Dr. Carson and Race

Personally, I really liked Ben Carson and hoped he would be our next President. I have to admit some of it was because I would love to see someone from my alma mater (Johns Hopkins) other than the embarrassing Woodrow Wilson serve as President. Mostly, though, he is brilliant and as a surgeon he worked as the leader of a team, not by himself.

There were seventeen GOP candidates when the race started, most of them politicians. As a relatively rare non-politician in the race for POTUS, I think it’s worth taking a few minutes to consider what caused him to drop out because most Americans have repeatedly stated a preference for having fewer career politicians. If that’s what we really want, then we  need to think a bit more critically about the candidates and their backgrounds, not just have knee-jerk reaction that anyone who doesn’t look and act like a career politician is somehow unfit for the job.

Energy

In the end, I think his success as a surgeon is ultimately, and ironically, the reason his presidential campaign failed. As a surgeon, there were times he had to be on his feet, working, fully mentally alert, for far more than the normal eight hour work day – a work day many of us spend sitting behind a computer. His most famous surgery lasted twenty two (22) hours. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to recognize that surgeons would tend to conserve their energy much as a long-distance runner does, especially compared to a sprinter. People are used to seeing politicians, who act much more like sprinters and are “on” with a lot of energy on display at campaign events.

Calm

Another objection he faced was due to his extremely calm demeanor. His even-ness was interpreted as passivity.

Again, his career is relevant. Surgery is stressful under the best circumstances. How would you feel if your loved one was going in for brain surgery? Most people are not calm and relaxed in that circumstance. The calmer and more even the surgeon and those interacting with the patient and their family are, the less difficult it is for the family to remain calm and make the decisions they need to make, especially in pediatric neurosurgery (like Carson). Remaining calm and non-reactive at all times was a virtual professional necessity.

Racism

He finished his bachelors degree in 1973 and his MD in 1977. We have come a long way since then, but the simple fact is that Dr. Carson’s early professional career was formed in a different era. Ben Carson is a big man, and he is very dark-skinned. He cannot “pass” as any other race. In the 1970s, he would have faced significant racism compared to today. While racism still exists, racism in the 2010s USA simply isn’t comparable to what people experienced in the past. When Dr. Carson entered medicine, American society was still in the beginning stages of truly integrating and accepting non-whites.

While this is clearly speculative, I suspect that anyone who looked like Ben Carson in the 1970s would have needed to be far more reserved in their interactions in order to not upset those around them. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that a big black man who was passionate (“confrontational”) could have been setting themselves up for failure at that time, even though white males would have had no push-back no matter how confrontational they were. It certainly has been the case throughout our history, and there are still instances of it today. It’s flat-out wrong, but it is becoming less common (and less acceptable) as time passes.

And my Point is…

Presidential candidates have a personal history just like everyone else. Most of us are used to seeing career politicians running for office. Their lives have shaped them to perform in public exactly the way candidates are expected to perform. When people who are not career politicians – like Cain, West, Carson, and yes, Trump – run for office, their lives have shaped their public selves for a different job. Whether that is officer, business person, doctor, or something else entirely, that background may make them more capable of doing the actual job even as it makes them appear less ideal for the job.

Dr. Carson appeared low energy but has demonstrated the ability to remain up and working at a very high level for an entire day. He also had to be able to go from sound asleep to making literal life or death decisions virtually instantaneously. Those are certainly good qualities for a commander in chief! But in a candidate, it looked like he was low energy and disengaged.

We need to look beyond the surface and really look at what candidates are bringing to the job. We need to look at what skills, personality traits, and interpersonal abilities their prior experiences would have helped them develop.

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Fainting Hillary: What You May Have Missed

In this video by Zdenek Gazda, there are small details that make it hard to deny that Hillary has a serious, on-going medical condition. It is alarming that Hillary isn’t holding up her own weight even in the first frames, but what is even more alarming than the fact that she isn’t taken to the hospital is the fact that the Secret Service doesn’t react as if this is an unusual or unexpected event.

Taken together, the following details make it obvious that there is something medically wrong with Hillary, and it isn’t a minor issue. Most people will get this from the way she sags down so that her head is at about waist-height on a day that really isn’t hot, for New York City. But here are some details you may not have noticed:

  1. She isn’t holding up her own weight from the very first frame of this video. She is resting against a concrete post that goes up to about butt-height, but it’s more than that. If you enlarge it by either putting it on full-screen or zooming in, you can see that her torso is leaning backward at an odd angle. She is not holding herself up. Most of her weight is resting on that pillar, which is clearly not an accident, but it appears that the only reason she isn’t falling down is the woman to her left with her arm linked through Hillary’s. As she starts moving (being moved), you can even see that her left shoulder is higher than her right shoulder, which makes sense if she isn’t supporting most of her own weight but rather being held up by the other woman. In addition, the other woman progress from having her arm through Hillary’s to an arm around her back, and then supporting her back with both hands.
  2. As soon as she starts moving (being moved), Hillary’s body slumps, her feet are dragging and clearly not bearing weight even before she slumps down completely. To be clear: Hillary does not lift her feet a single time in this video, nor does she take a single step. At no point in this video is she moving under her own power.
  3. It takes at least three people to get her into the vehicle – one on either side and the woman mentioned earlier behind her. She is completely dead weight, which only happens when we are unconscious, including being asleep. (Think about the difference in weight carrying a small child who is awake versus asleep.) Tellingly, they were pre-positioned to provide this support. There are quite a few photos around showing her need for physical support, so it isn’t really surprising that they are prepared to provide it, but they are very well-rehearsed at getting in position to fully support her. They have done this before, and are positioned and prepared to do it routinely.
  4. Secret Service isn’t stressed. Her detail has notoriously been referred to as a punishment detail, but these men and women are professionals. If their protectee was in danger, their body language would be tense. If there was something unexpected and potentially dangerous happening, they would look tense. If their protectee unexpectedly started to collapse with no clear and known reason, they would be talking and communicating information and looking tense. That didn’t happen.
  5. Go back and look at their body language. As she starts to move from the column, an officer simply steps in to grab her weight and help get her into the vehicle. Another steps to block the view of this happening. None of them even blinked when she sagged down. They didn’t call for any kind of help. This isn’t a surprise to them. They have seen it happen before and been thoroughly briefed on how to handle it. They also automatically move in to shield her from view. That many people clustered so closely is the opposite of what she would want and need if the problem was, in fact, heat.
  6. Two local police officers in the video (wearing white shirts) do react and move quickly toward her when they see her condition. They didn’t expect it and were concerned to see her collapsing. Compare this to how her detail, with their more in-depth knowledge of her physical condition, reacts.
  7. She doesn’t go to the hospital. If they didn’t know exactly what was happening, she would have gone for medical treatment, not to her daughter’s apartment. This is a known condition.
  8. They effectively treated her at her daughter’s apartment. She looked completely healthy when she left there less than three hours later. Realistically, that could only be a result of getting treatment for a known condition that has been ongoing for long enough to have the medications on hand or nearby at all times.
  9. She left her shoe behind. Yes, it’s a trivial detail – but we need our shoes to walk around and no one who is even slightly mentally alert will miss the fact that they lost a shoe, but she did.
  10. This isn’t in the video, but the press was reportedly kept from following her and wasn’t given any information for at least an hour. Why? If it was the heat, they could’ve reported that right away, and would certainly have had her both remove her jacket and drink some water even before her vehicle arrived.

The second video, of her leaving Chelsea’s apartment, is of interest as well.

  1. When she comes out, she seems completely fine after less than three hours. Given the severity of what we saw, this seems unlikely unless treatment and medication were on hand based on a known condition. In addition, it’s rare to get the treatment and medication right on the first try for any ailment, so it seems unlikely that this was the first time this has happened.
  2. Someone asks her what happened and she ignored the question, even when it was repeated. Far from saying it was too hot, she said, “It’s a beautiful day in New York.” Hillary herself is not saying this was just because of the heat.
  3. There are no handlers near her, which is unusual, but she also only walks a very short distance to the vehicle waiting to take her to her home. Contrast this to how close people were before she was put into the van. (It is impossible to say, from what the video shows, that she got in under her own power.)

Whether you love or hate her, Hillary Clinton has had a successful life by most standards. She has done most of the things she set out to do, other than becoming President. Unfortunately for her, her shot at the big desk has come a bit too late and she no longer seems to be physically capable of performing the job.

As I am getting ready to post this, there is an announcement that she was dehydrated and has pneumonia. She was only outside for about ninety minutes and herself made no complaints about the heat, so it really is hard to believe it was dehydration, particularly since neither dehydration nor pneumonia has “fainting” listed as a symptom in any of the major, reputable online medical sites. It simply doesn’t make any sense if you look at the facts. It does, however, give her a plausible reason to get out of the public eye, yet again, for a week or  more.

Whatever ails her, and I do think the best case to date has been that she has Parkinson’s, it is time for her to retire and spend whatever time she has left with her family and grandbaby. The video today is just a little bit more proof of that.

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