Tips for Trump: Things Not to Say to the First Lady of France (or Any Other Woman, for That Matter)

July 17, 2017

So, you’re just back from Paris, Mr. President. Quite a whirlwind trip, there! What a lovely parade, and so moving to see American and French soldiers marching together to celebrate Bastille Day. When you saluted the American military participants? That was a nice moment.

But that thing you said to Brigitte Macron? Umm…maybe not so much.

So, I know you meant well. I know you thought you were paying her a compliment when you said, upon meeting her for the first time ever, “You’re in such good shape … beautiful!” I know you think that this is exactly what every woman wants to hear when she meets a man for the first time.

Yeah, it’s not.

Hey, could you put your phone away? This is important.

What you said was inappropriate, and not just because of your history of being, well, sort of an asshole when it comes to women. It was clumsy and weird and creepy and sort of suggests that you’re still living in the 1950’s. Which, okay, in many cases, you are.

But to focus on the matter at hand, for the last 100 years or so, women have been trying to communicate an essential truth to men. They’ve tried to say it in a lot of ways, in a hundred different languages, and in a variety of media, but what it comes down to is this:

What I look like isn’t who I am.

Let’s say that together, Mr. President: “What I look like isn’t who I am.”

Now, it’s true that most women – indeed, most people – attempt to present their physical selves in a pleasant and appealing manner. Many women, and even some men, are flattered when someone provides feedback that suggests a positive assessment of one’s physical appearance.

Most women, however, tend to feel uncomfortable when such an assessment is made within the context of a business setting, or at a casual social function that is not a date, at the library, watching or participating in a sporting event, picking up the dry cleaning, test-driving a car, donating blood, getting your teeth cleaned, attending church, standing in line to vote, buying groceries…oh, and meeting your husband’s professional counterpart at a public event celebrating your country’s independence day.

In fact, probably the only circumstances in which it’s perfectly appropriate and even a nice idea to compliment a woman’s physical appearance is when it’s your significant other, but even then, you should also remind her that it’s her formidable intelligence, determination, and creativity that really get you going.

Now, you may not know this (because it doesn’t appear as though the women with whom you’ve chosen to share your life were particularly interested in the cultivation of their intellect, personal growth, or independence while they were with you), so you may need to do some further reading.

Yeah, I know, you don’t like to read.

Okay. Well, maybe we can do it this way. Here is a brief survey of the seminal literature on feminism in a format that even you can read and digest:

  • The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir (1959): Tracks the role of women throughout history and the extent to which they have been suppressed and dominated by men largely by virtue of their ability to bear children.
  • The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan (1963): Talks about how suburban housewives in the 1960’s were frustrated that the roles available to them were limited to wife and mother.
  • Sexual Politics, Kate Millett (1969): Discusses how male-dominated culture has produced writers and literary works that are degrading to women as well as the tyranny of sexual stereotypes.
  • The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf (1991): Explores the growing social prominence of women and society’s demands for them to conform to specific standards of beauty.
  • Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit (2014): Defines and demonstrates the concept of “mansplaining,” in which men attempt to explain to women topics they believe women do not understand, particularly when dealing with areas that are traditionally within the exclusive purview of women (such as the menstrual cycle, which, since the beginning of time, no biological male has ever experienced).

To review:

Men have been treating women like crap for a while, and we don’t like it. We are not here solely to procreate or to serve as sexual playthings or eye candy, whether or not you think we are pretty/sexy/hot enough to make us desirable to you for that purpose. You should treat women with the same level of respect and professionalism as men, and commenting on a woman’s appearance should be avoided.

See? That was easy!

Now, with that in mind, let’s take a look at what you said to Madame Macron last week and examine:

You said, “You’re in such good shape…beautiful!”

Here’s why that was maybe the wrong thing to say:

1.  As we have discussed, you should treat women with the same level of respect and professionalism as men. If you wouldn’t tell a man he was in such good shape and beautiful, you shouldn’t say it to a woman.

2.  Commenting on a woman’s appearance should be avoided. (Yeah, I know I already said that, but it’s worth repeating).

3.  Your comment did not just suggest that Madame Macron is an attractive woman (“…beautiful!”), which, on its own might not have been so awful (though still wildly inappropriate). It also brought her body into the conversation (“You’re in such good shape”), as in, you have a good body, which turns what could have been a relatively innocent comment (“you look nice”) into something undeniably sexual in nature. For example, a father might say to his daughter, “you look beautiful today, sweetie!” and that would be okay, but he would NOT say, “you’re in such good shape, sweetie!” Well, okay, maybe YOU would – and, indeed, you basically HAVE – but most non-creepy weird fathers draw the line at making assessments of their daughter’s bodies. You might want to think about that, too.

4.  Finally, and not to get too personal, but geez, your wife was RIGHT THERE! I mean, show some class, guy!

You may be scratching your head and saying, “wait, I’m not allowed to talk to women about their periods, or their face lifts, and I’m not supposed to shove them against the wall and start making out with them…good Lord, what’s a man to do???”

I’m glad you asked.

Here are several things you might have said to Madame Macron – and, hey, if you want, I can make them generic so you can use them the next time you meet with Prime Minister May or Chancellor Merkel, or President Coleiro Preca (Malta), President Grabar-Kitarovic (Croatia), President Simonetta (Switzerland), President Kopacz (Poland), Prime Miniter Straujuma (Latvia), Prime Minister Bratusek (Slovenia), Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt (Denmark), Prime Minister Solberg (Norway), Prime Minister Siber (Cyprus), President Jahjaga (Kosovo), President Grybauskaite (Lithuania), Prime Minister Simpson Miller (Jamaica),Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar (Trinidad and Tobago), President Fernandez de Kirchner (Argentina), President Rousseff (Brazil), President Bachelet (Chile), President Geun-hye (South Korea), Prime Minister Wajed (Bangladesh), President Samba-Panza (Central African Republic), President Johnson-Sirleaf (Liberia), or Prime Minister Toure (Senegal).  (Damn, that’s an awful lot of female world leaders.  I wonder when we’ll get one?)

Here are things you can say instead (I used a lot of exclamation points, because you seem to like those):

  • Good morning, Madame Prime Minister! How nice to meet you!
  • I am very much looking forward to our meeting this afternoon, Madame President!
  • What a beautiful country is [insert name of country here], and how excited am I to be here!
  • I bring the well wishes and friendship of the people of the United States, even those who did not vote for me, which is only about seven, but them as well!
  • You are totally smokin’ hot, Madame President! (THAT WAS A TEST TO SEE IF YOU WERE PAYING ATTENTION!)
  • I am very intrigued by the policies you have implemented in [insert name of country here] to advance the cause of equal pay in the workplace, mandatory maternity leave, and universal medical care! (Admittedly, there are only a handful of places where this would be appropriate, seeing as how most of the countries whose leaders you will be meeting have already adopted those policies).
  • Welcome to the White House, Madame Prime Minister. I look forward to our hour-long joint press conference where we will both give responsive answers to all media outlets!
  • I can’t wait to have some croissant/falafel/pad thai/hakarl/fasolada/bulgogi/poutin/pho! I hear it’s incredible!

So, now you’re good to go. You can handle any situation. Keep these simple tips in mind, and you’ll be prepared for anything. Well, okay, not anything. Or even most things. Or, really, anything at all, except how to properly greet a woman you’ve never met before, but, hey, it beats grabbing them by the pussy.Go in peace, Mr. President.

Gun Violence, Abe Lincoln, and Pollyanna

June 19, 2017

After last week’s shooting of GOP lawmakers and staff who were practicing for a charity baseball game, I think we can all agree that the divide between left and right, Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, progressives and the alt-left, has grown so broad and deep it seems virtually impossible that two people on the opposite sides of the political spectrum can have a civil conversation about anything, including, say, pancakes versus waffles (waffles, by the way), let alone about what’s going on in Washington. Every news item that mentions President Trump, Congress, policy, or pretty much any aspect of government, is fodder for thousands of tweets, posts, and panels of screaming lunatics on (insert news show of your choice), and way too much of what’s being said is opportunistic and mean.

Too frequently, what passes for “political discourse” is over-the-top, hyperbolic rhetoric that, when squeezed, will produce a nice tall glass of contempt. There’s little respect, or tolerance, for any opinion other than one’s own, and yes, I’m guilty of that. There are too many people who are as convinced that they’re the smartest guy/gal in the room as they are sure that those who disagree with them are too stupid, and too pig-headed, to listen to and accept reason and truth.

I’m guilty of that, too.

But what to do, I wonder, when the stakes are so high, when the conduct of those who govern appears to be creating a legitimate threat to national safety, the fate of all carbon-based lifeforms, and women’s reproductive rights, just to name a few? How to avoid being shrill as violence against Muslims and people of color increases, as the United States, by and through its Commander in Chief, sends the clear message to the people of the world that they’re on their own, thereby undoing years of relationship building, credibility, and leadership? What words are strong enough to effectuate change (and, at the same time, communicate to those outside our borders that not every American supports the policies being enacted by our government), yet not so strident as to be pre-emptively ignored by those for whose ears those words are intended? Is it even possible to say anything that those on “the other side” would be willing to consider – me included?

In other words, how do we communicate with those who have strongly-held opinions that differ from our own? How do we do that when one side believes that anyone who voted for Donald Trump is a de facto racist xenophobic misogynist, while the other side thinks that anyone who doesn’t support Donald Trump is a lazy godless nutcase who hates this country? Smarter and more articulate people than me have said that we have to be more respectful of each other, and that’s a start. Contempt is a big part of it, too: Malcolm Gladwell, in his excellent book, “Blink,” discusses a study that looked for predictors of divorce, and the number one factor isn’t infidelity or financial problems – turns out, it’s contempt. Stated differently, if a conversation is underpinned by a lack of respect and an abundance of contempt – and that’s pretty much a given as far as political discussions go these days – there’s really no reason to have it in the first place, because no one is listening.

The only thing that has ever changed a person’s mind about an opinion they held to the point of utter certainty, is a shared commonality. Justice Kennedy and Dick Cheney are pretty conservative as things go, but they both have close relatives who are gay, and guess what? Neither one had an objection to marriage equality. A few months go, I posted an excellent article about a man who freely admitted that he used to hate Muslims. His opinions changed drastically when a Syrian family moved in next door and showed him that they weren’t so different, so much so that he babysits their kids and has dinner with them on a weekly basis.

This tells me that if I want people to be open to my thoughts and opinions, I have to find some common ground, and for starters, that means no more name-calling. That’s going to be a tough one, because I don’t happen to have a very high opinion of our president, and, as well, it’s so satisfying to get off a good one. But it has to stop, and it’s going to. That doesn’t mean that I will refrain from criticizing policy with which I passionately disagree (or that I am going to stop being passionate), but I’ll tone down the rhetoric. That’s my pledge. It’s a start.

Next, I’m going to propose that we look for commonality. I’m unlikely to find too many Republicans who will agree with me on healthcare, but here are some things I think we can all get behind:

  1. Pizza.
  2. Pizza.
  3. Koala bears.
  4. Pizza.

Okay, there’s more:

  1. Will McAvoy’s brilliant speech on the first episode of “The Newsroom” notwithstanding, the United States of America is in fact the greatest nation on earth.
  2. Our government, as conceived by our founding fathers, is, simply put, brilliant.
  3. When we get hit, we come together like nobody’s business. Remember how nice we all were to each other after 9/11? We have a tremendous capacity to love and support and share and give of ourselves. That goes for Democrats and Republicans and Libertarians and Socialists and Independents and the Green Party…it’s who we are.
  4. Russia trying to infiltrate our country – however they may or may not be doing it – isn’t cool, and we should all be concerned if that’s what’s happening, regardless of who may or may not be facilitating it.
  5. Pizza.

There’s a reason people want to come to America, and it has something to do with the shared sense of freedom and opportunity and doing the right thing. We don’t always get it right, and there are too many people in our country who are hurting right now, but we are a nation of people who love this country so thoroughly, so vigorously, so passionately, that we are willing to lose friendships over it – except that’s not good, either. So stop doing that.

We need to become what the name of our country says we are – the United States of America. Not black and white, rich or poor, Christian or Jew or Muslim, Republican or Democrat. Yes, we should celebrate our diversity, but we have to start acting like brothers and sisters. We just have to. We really, really just have to.

My favorite movie of all time is “Pollyanna.” Yeah, it sucks that her parents died and she never had a doll and her aunt is kind of a bitch and she falls out of a tree, but she nevertheless brings the whole town together. She shows them how to look for the silver lining and teaches them the Glad Game. She gets Reverend Ford on her side when she says that “no one owns the church,” and she shares with him the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln: “If you look for the bad in people, expecting to find it, you surely will.”

Let that sink in for a moment. (Every time you forget how incredible Abraham Lincoln was, something reminds you, and you say, “damn, that man was a genius.”)

And so everyone in town starts looking for the best in everyone else, and they rally together to build a new orphanage where the kids don’t get burned or drowned or electrocuted (something we can all get behind), and Aunt Polly and Dr. Childers rekindle their love, united in their resolve to help Pollyanna get better, and Mr. Tarbell stands up to Mrs. Tarbell, and Nancy and George get Aunt Polly’s blessing to get married, and then Reverend Ford sums it all up when he says to Pollyanna, as she’s being taken to the train station to go to Baltimore to get an operation so she can walk again (yeah, that actually happens), “We looked for the best in them, and we found it.”

Let’s start looking for the best in our fellow man, and maybe we’ll all come together and everything will be better. Hell, what with my newfound love of pruning, I’ll even fall out of a tree if it would help.

We are all Americans. We all bring something to the table. I love you all. Let’s make things better.

Reba McEntire and the Battle for My Soul

June 4, 2017

Recently, I saw a post on someone’s Facebook page with a link to a Reba McEntire song and the provocative clickbait, “AMAZING New Song Will DESTROY Every Single Trump-Hater In America!”  http://www.proud-patriots.com/reba-mcentires-amazing-new-song-will-destroy-every-single-trump-hater-in-america-video/

What’s this? I thought.  While not strictly a Trump Hater, anyone who knows me understands that I have zero respect for or confidence in the low-information, petulant toddler less than half our nation elected president.  I know I’m not alone in my opinion of Trump – he’s universally reviled by most of the rest of the world (including many of the 51 million who elected him) – and so I was curious:

If I watched this video, would it literally destroy me? (Answer: No. I watched the video, and I’m still here).

Still, I think that what Proud-Patriots.com (translation: White People Who Voted for Trump and Hate You Libtard Snowflakes Who Represent Everything That’s Wrong With this Country) was likely trying to say is, if you watch this video, you fascist, socialist, morally bankrupt liberal who lives off the public dole, you will no longer be able to deny that Donald J. Trump is the Second Coming and maybe you’ll shut up already.  Because Reba McEntire.

So I thought, what if there actually were a song that would change my mind about Donald J. Trump? What if Reba McEntire, of all people, was the one person in the world who could make a good argument for why it’s okay to demonize immigrants, deny access to affordable health insurance to those who need it most, and tell the rest of the world’s people that they’re on their own when it comes to climate change, even though our country has been one of the leading causes of global warming in the first place? Is anyone capable of that sort of persuasion? And if so, how?

I’ve never been a big country music fan (though I do like Faith Hill and Johnny Cash), but I once had a client who was a Reba McEntire impersonater, and she was a nice lady who had a lot of positive things to say about Reba, so I thought, hey, let’s see what I’m missing.  I clicked on the link, and I watched the video, and while it’s not exactly my cup of tea, I thought, “well, that’s nice.”  And then I ate a Milano and I considered some of the other things that Proud-Patriots.com had to say.

First, the USA has become “spiritually poor” because everyone, particularly the “young folks,” have forgotten “the existence of God and the true, moral and Christian values our country’s philosophy was based on.”  I guess Proud-Patriots.com hasn’t read the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, or the writings of many of our Founding Fathers, who made clear their intention that, regardless of their own personal beliefs, the United States of America should be beacon of religious tolerance and diversity for all, even (heaven forbid) the Jews.  http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/george-washington-and-religion/ at fn. 3.  For starters, then, Proud-Patriots.com has got its history wrong.

It’s also worth noting, moreover, that since time immemorial, grumpy old people everywhere have pointed to the declining morals of the young, including a decreased respect for God and organized religion, as the cause of all society’s ills and proof that the End of Days is near.  It’s an oldie but a goodie, and whether and when you may chose to invoke it is also a good indicator of just how far along the Crotchety Scale of Life you are.

I have often found, incidentally, that those who are most concerned with how young people behave, particularly with regard to a lack of religious fealty, are frequently the same people who in their early years were hellraisers themselves.  Perhaps because of their own less-exalted conduct as teenagers and young adults, they are acutely aware of and appreciate the capacity for young people to do things that are in direct contravention with many religious tenets.  Now that they’ve had their fun, of course, no one else should, either.  But I digress.

Proud-Patriots.com next bemoans the level of discord in our country since the election, noting that “Americans are burning flags, dishonoring our military and police officers, rioting in the streets…Clearly, we do need to get this country back to God.”  It seems worth recalling that this is exactly the behavior we witnessed in the 1960’s during the Civil Rights movement and as our country continued to fight an unjust war.  Know what ended those protests? Enacting legislation that forced our nation to treat all people equally and pulling out of Viet Nam.  Or maybe it was God.  Who knows.

Proud-Patriots.com also says that I, and others like me, are the problem with all that is wrong in America because we “don’t want to ‘conform’ to one belief” and are “too cool” to believe in God.  (N.B. – To my everlasting chagrin, I’ve never once been tagged “cool,” but thanks for that, Proud-Patriots.com!)  Call me a wonky egghead who thinks we ought to consult the Constitution on this one, but I just sort of think that people should be able to search their hearts and decide which religion, if any, makes sense to the rational, inquisitive brains that God or some higher power apparently gave us, and then act accordingly, rather than foist one set of beliefs upon the rest of the world.  It would appear, however, that being a Proud Patriot means you ignore the clear import of the words of Madison and Jefferson and all those men who are claimed to have intended ours to be a “nation under God,” notwithstanding that those same men expressly said that under no circumstances was this to be a “nation under God.”  But why quibble with words, or logic, when you can demonize those with whom you don’t agree?

Proud-Patriots.com goes on to say that no one is forcing Christianity on anyone and that what it is most angry about is the “discrimination” Christians endure as disciples of the one true God.  In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a big fan of Jesus and think more Christians ought to act like him, but I’m still struggling with the idea of a higher being named God, who at one point thought it was okay to destroy the entire world (save Noah and his crew) and who was okay with polygamy and spousal abuse and killing people who ate bacon, but then underwent some amazing metamorphosis in which he became more compassionate and forgiving, although I know having a kid can do that to you.  But just for the record, I don’t hate Jesus, even if I’m not sure he or his dad are divine.  (This is why Michael is always worried to enter a church with me).  For the record, I have zero problem with Christians, except for the ones who claim to be but act instead like assholes.

Whatever you may think about Christianity, however, it’s absurd to suggest that those who practice this faith in our country are being persecuted.  The last time I checked, the Congress was overwhelmingly Christian, as has been every man ever elected to the office of President.  Anywhere from 70 – 85% of Americans identify as Christian, as do roughly 1/3 of the peoples of the world, making Christianity by far the most dominant religion on Earth. As Louis C.K. so astutely noted, we measure time based upon the date that Christ was born, – how much more Christian do you Christians need the rest of the world to be before you’ll admit that you won?

As for this alleged anti-Christian prejudice, Proud-Patriots.com is just wrong.  You want to know what discrimination is? Being lowered onto a pointed stick, with or without weights tied to your feet, until your anus was perforated (or until you recanted your deeply held religious beliefs, whichever came first).  Being crammed into railroad cars and whisked to Eastern Europe to a virtually certain death, along with 5,999,999 of your brethren, simply because a certain group of people feel economically threatened by you. That’s persecution.

The fact that some choose to say “Happy Holidays,” instead of “Merry Christmas,” out of deference to the possibility that the person to whom they are extending their good wishes might not be a Christian is not persecution, and the placement of menorahs on the town hall lawn is not discrimination.  It’s called inclusion (look it up), and it doesn’t diminish you or your beliefs unless you faith is so fragile that it cannot withstand the fact that others may not share it.  And yet, those at Proud-Patriots.com (and, to be fair, a lot of others websites, too) claim to be discriminated against because the United States of America allows people who aren’t Christian to live here.

Pardon me if I don’t attend your candlelight vigil, Snowflakes.  You don’t know from persecution and discrimination, not in America, anyway, and if you’re so damned worried about Christians in other parts of the world who are being persecuted for their beliefs, then maybe consider demanding that they be granted sanctuary here in the United States, where they might take all the high-paying jobs and not speak English the minute they clear Customs.  But again, I digress.

So here’s where we are so far:  The United States is in a real pickle because liberals aren’t Christian (like that selfish bastard, Jimmy Carter, building houses for the poor, or that shithead Pope Francis who opened up laundromats for the homeless).

But wait, there’s more:  According to Proud-Patriots.com, liberals are “aching for the kind of values” that faith gives good Christians and that without faith, there are no values.  This is because the only way you can be a morally sound, ethical person, is to be a Christian.  You know.  Because people who aren’t Christians have no morals or ethics.  Sorry, Buddhists.  Hindus, you’re out of luck, too.

Sounds pretty grim, eh? But wait! Don’t get discouraged, all you non-Christians currently destined for an afterlife of eternal damnation and suffering, there is hope!  Thanks to Reba McEntire, soon liberals everywhere will come to know Donald J. Trump and will rally behind him in his faith-based agenda of compassion, unity, and world peace.  See, Reba recorded this song, and it’s going to change EVERYTHING.  All you have to do is tie a Trump Hater to a chair and make them listen to it, and guess what? They, too, will come to see that Donald J. Trump is indeed the answer to all of our problems.

Uh-huh.

 A few things about the song, “Back to God,” written by Randy Houser in 2008.  Apparently, it’s always been a favorite of Reba’s, one she chose to include on an album that dropped in January 2017 and which was likely recorded before the presidential election had even taken place.  As to why she chose to record this song now, Reba said, “I think it is always the right time to give it back to Him because we seem to mess things up on our own. We all need to just love each other more unconditionally, without judgment, because we can’t do this on our own.”  http://tasteofcountry.com/reba-mcentire-back-to-god-video/?trackback=tsmclip.  That’s a nice idea, even if you don’t believe in God.

If you listen to the song or read its lyrics (I’ve done both), you’ll hear that it’s about dealing with hard times and how God can be a comfort to those who are struggling.  It specifically invokes “the innocent dyin’,” expressing empathy for the heartbroken and those who have lost a loved one before exhorting those in pain to call on God in their time of need.  The video, moreover, includes vignettes of people who appear to be in real agony – though it’s not exactly clear to me why.  It looks as though two teenagers may have died and that their community, black and white, is in mourning, but ultimately comes together in a gorgeous southern Church to unite in their grief and move forward through their shared faith in God, and that’s a nice message, too.  Many people find great comfort in their faith, which is a better way of dealing with hardship than drinking, taking drugs, or shooting up a preschool with an assault rifle.

But the song, like Reba, is utterly silent about Donald J. Trump, or the issues currently facing our country, of the fact that it’s so politically divided right now, or that the rest of the world thinks we’re all assholes.  Nothing in this song – nothing – suggests that it was intended to respond to the state of the nation since November 8, 2016, nor does it advance the idea that El Presidente could fix things if only the liberals, who can’t accept that their (severely flawed) candidate lost, would just pipe down and give him a chance.

Neither Mr. Houser nor Ms. McEntire ever say that Mr. Trump is the answer to all of our problems, but Proud-Patriots.com does.  Wanna know why?

Wait for it…

BECAUSE DONALD J. TRUMP IS A MAN OF GOD WHO “CAME FROM NOWHERE TO BRING THE MESSAGE OF UNITY, PEACE AND THE LOVE OF THE ALMIGHTY GOD.”

I swear to God that’s what it says.  Guess what else?

“Donald Trump is going to be bringing God back into this country….He’s put the Lord back in our Pledge of Allegiance.”  I hate to be all insistent that arguments be based upon actual facts and stuff, but the words “under God” weren’t even in the Pledge of Allegiance when it was first written in 1892 (by a socialist minister, no less) or when it was adopted by Congress in 1945.  Just to be clear, though, ever since those words were first inserted into the Pledge back in 1954, they haven’t been removed, there is no bill in the House or the Senate proposing to remove those words, and they’re not going anywhere.  (Also, “Touched by an Angel” wasn’t cancelled because of atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who was already dead at the time, either).  But, okay.

So Donald J. Trump is a pillar of Christian morality? Really?  I have an easier time accepting that there may be benefits to abstinence-only sex ed.  I can think of four Commandments (I’m referencing them as they are enumerated by the Catechism of the Catholic Church) he’s violated without even having to think about it over a bag of tortilla chips:  The Sixth (thou shalt not commit adultery – think Marla Maples); the Seventh (thou shalt not steal – you know – all those vendors he refused to pay in full when he was building casinos in Atlantic City); the Eighth (thou shalt not bear false witness – like, every day) and the Ninth (thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife – “I moved on her like a bitch”).

It’s not just the sinning that makes Proud-Patriots.com’s assessment of Trump as a man of God so ridiculous.  We all sin, some of us more than others.  Also, I don’t presume to see into and discern the contents of Trump’s heart any more than Proud-Patriots.com and its ilk should purport to comment on the contents of mine.  It’s not that he hasn’t set a foot inside a church since his inauguration, or that he can’t recite a single Bible verse save “an eye for an eye,” or that he referred to Second Corinthians as Two Corinthians – attendance at church and an affinity for memorizing passages from the Good Book is not proof positive evidence of a humble servant’s soul.

Rather, what leads me to my conclusion that Trump is as much a devout Christian as I am a dedicated vegan who works out with weights and tractor tires every morning is the behavior that so obviously demonstrates Trump’s belief that he answers to no one – not Congress, not the American people, and certainly not God.  In a million years, I cannot begin to summon the image of Trump, on his knees, hands folded, begging, pleading, praying, crying tears of pain, “pounding the floor and screaming His name,” as Reba tells us we all need to be doing.

Try to imagine that, if you can; I just can’t.  Trump’s charitable works, in proportion to his wealth, are de minimis; in-depth analyses of his “charitable giving” reveal that he’s awfully good at taking credit for the monetary donations of others but that he has not made a single cash donation to charity since 2011 and had made no contributions to his own foundation since 2008.  http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/trump-and-the-truth-his-charitable-giving.  Can you name a single cause or disease on whose behalf Trump has ever worked to raise awareness?  Have you ever seen him visit the sick or tend to the hungry (before he ran for office, that is)?

No.  Because Trump has spent his life in service of one thing and one thing only:  The Promotion and Aggrandizement of All Things Trump.  That’s the single thing he cares about (well, that and pussy), and anyone who genuinely believes that Donald J. Trump is about kindness, empathy, humility, forgiveness, service to others, self-sacrifice, and the betterment of mankind, is either the most naïve or else self-delusional person ever to have lived.

No, Proud-Patriots.com.  Just, no.  Donald Trump isn’t a Christian, and Reba McEntire doesn’t think so, either.  The conversion of liberals, or anyone else who doesn’t practice Christianity, to your way of thinking, isn’t going to save this country until it’s got leaders in Congress, the White House, governors’ mansions, and state legislatures who understand that the United States (1) was founded upon principles of religious liberty; (2) is, was, and always will be a nation of immigrants; and (3) is the most powerful, privileged and prosperous country on earth and therefore must act responsibly, with an awareness of the impact its actions will have on the rest of the world.  When we are a nation that cares about the sick and mentally ill; that refuses to stand by while children in developing countries die from preventable disease and malnutrition; that finds a way to open its hearts and borders to those who are desperate for freedom and opportunity; that leads the way in addressing the threat of climate change; then we can truly call this country a nation that espouses Christ’s teachings, or maybe we could just say that we’re a country of decent human beings.

I’m all for people practicing whatever religion makes sense to them, if it makes them happy, as long as they don’t insist that I do it with them, but if ever anyone wanted to “convert” me, they’re going to have to come at me with better ammunition than Reba McEntire (talented though she may be) or the staggeringly incredible argument that Donald Trump “came from nowhere to bring the message of unity, peace and the love of the almighty god.”

Here’s the truth:  Donald Trump came from the 58th floor of the Trump Tower to bring a message of hatred and intolerance aimed at uniting a base that claims to love God even though they could give a crap about most of His people.  He came because he was bored, and because he’s a narcissist, and because those campaign rallies stroked his ego in a way that grabbing women by the pussy and firing D-list celebrities did not.  He came for the sole purpose of increasing his name recognition and profits, and not once prior to November 9, 2016 did he ever think he’d actually win, which was why he never stopped to think about what would happen if the policies he espoused were actually implemented.

He’s not a Christian and he’s not going to save our nation, but if you’re looking to “destroy” something, Proud-Patriots.com, look no further than to the country you claim to love, or to the “man of God” who’s destroying it.  Maybe Reba McEntire could do a song about that – because that would be worth listening to.

Opting Out

February 22, 2017

Last week, my husband and I were fortunate to get away from the dreary, cold, grayness that is the East Coast in February, enjoying a five-day respite on a sunny Caribbean island, replete with tropical greenery, white sand beaches, and exquisite local cuisine. It was paradise to escape the busy-ness of work and home and family obligations to simply relax, read, and dip our toes into the cerulean blue ocean.

You would think that we would take advantage of this down-time to unplug from politics, social media, and the constant onslaught of television coverage of President Trump’s actions and the backlash generated in response thereto. We didn’t. Indeed, at one point, a dear friend responded to one of Michael’s posts concerning the latest from the White House with this apt comment: “Aren’t you guys supposed to be on vacation?”

Later that morning, as I was floating on my back under a cloudless blue sky, pondering whether to have the tacos or the jerk chicken wrap for lunch (decisions, decisions), I contemplated those words, and I began to ruminate (well, to the extent I was capable given that I was also attempting to keep my considerable girth afloat): Why did I feel the need to be constantly connected to the minute-by-minute coverage of the Trump White House? Would I be so assiduously attuned to every press conference, tweet, and alternative fact if I lived on some sunny, remote island where executive orders and cabinet nominee hearings might seem far less impactful on my day-to-day life? If I could wake up every morning to a breakfast of fresh fruit on the terrace, spend my days lying on a chaise lounge reading, and dine every night under the stars, would I have any interest whatsoever in what’s happening in DC? And, more to the point, if I did choose to opt out of the daily briefings, Jake Tapper’s tweets, and Rachel Maddow’s nightly wonkfest, would that be okay?

But I don’t live in a tropical paradise, and Washington, D.C. is but a three-hour drive from my home. I don’t watch a lot of television, but when I do, it’s hard to avoid any mention of Senate debates, SpicerConwayBannonSpeak, or protest marches. The talking heads are everywhere, including on my Facebook Feed, and indeed, I myself have frequently added my voice to the mix. To truly “opt out” would take a lot of effort: I’d probably have to quit Facebook and Twitter, which I could probably bear, but I’d also have to quit the New Yorker, which I couldn’t. And, let’s be honest: The Trump Administration has become much like a really bad car wreck – you just can’t tear your eyes away, and you keep wondering what’s coming next. Just as I think I have lost the ability to be shocked or surprised, I turn on the television, and there it is: Today’s serving of crazy, just waiting to be gobbled up like so many Cheetos.

It’s exhausting keeping up with all that is going on. There is so much “breaking news” every day, so many media outlets covering it, so many pundits offering their views and opinions. In an effort to remain as objective as I can (pretty much an impossibility at this point), I attempt to balance the sources of the news I consume, but getting accurate, non-biased information isn’t always easy. So much of what I see on Facebook has an obvious (and predictable) bias (in both directions), and implicit in just about every news item out there – whether on social media, in the newspapers, or on television – is a level of high emotion, be it outrage, frustration, or dismay. In the four weeks since Donald Trump took office, it feels as though we’ve all been under attack.

Not surprising, then, that many on social media have called for a ban on political commentary. They’d like it to return to a more innocent time, when people posted cute cat memes, how-to videos, and pictures of the family vacation. No more. Most of what shows up on my Facebook feed has something to do with the Trump Administration, which is partly attributable to the fact that most of my Facebook friends share my angst over our new president’s antics, and partly because that’s pretty much all anyone can talk about these days. The older I get, the more I strive for peace and tranquility, harmony and calm. There’s precious little of that for those who chose to keep abreast of the Trump’s White House. It’s more like the WWF meets a demolition derby.

And so I ask myself, should I “opt out”? For the sake of my sanity, should I resign from Facebook and Twitter until the current climate settles down a bit (assuming it ever does)? In order to become the mindful and evolved woman I strive to be, should I ban all news coverage on the family television and eschew all print media that discusses the Federal Government? The part of me that is exhausted, discouraged, and tired of my own voice raised in outrage says yes, Wendy, yes – turn off and tune out. Stop the madness. Just say no.

While I am sure there are many who wish I would do exactly that, another part of me (the one that went to Mount Holyoke and is a ball-buster) says, no. No, you can’t opt out, because that would be irresponsible. No, you can’t opt out, because someone has to hold our leaders accountable. No, you can’t opt out, because you love this country, and what’s going on is wrong. It’s wrong on so many levels, in so many ways, for so many reasons. That part of me says no matter how exhausting and discouraging and frustrating, no matter how much some of my family members likely despise me for my opinions, I can’t give up and give in, I can’t quit, I can’t go along to get along. I can’t, and I won’t.

It’s hard to imagine living like this for another three years and eleven months. It’s difficult to envision what our country is going to look like in 2020, or even 2018. Those who predict apocalypse, or a country that looks a lot like Germany in the 1930’s, or a nation in which we all speak Russian, may be right, though I try to convince myself that our United States have suffered far worse and nonetheless endured. Perhaps Donald Trump is a twenty-first century James Buchanan, with the promise of a twenty-first century Abraham Lincoln right on his heels. Maybe the Trump Administration will be the last we know of democracy in America, of a country of laws and freedom and justice for all, of a land of immigrants who welcomed all peoples to our shores, of a nation that has been a beacon of hope and opportunity for so many. Perhaps in the not-too-distant future, we will look back on these days with sadness and regret, painfully aware of all we took for granted and everything that we have ceased to be.

I hope not. I think we can make it better – all of us, we can fix this, but it’s going to take a lot of work. So no matter how bad it gets, no matter how many rights the Administration tries to strip away, no matter how many executive orders and SCOTUS appointments and just plain batshit crazy nonsense that may be coming our way, I will be ready, and I won’t stop. No matter how many marches or phone calls to Congressional representatives or Facebook posts or whatever else it takes to right this ship, I’m not opting out. Not today, not tomorrow, and not because people think I’m shrill. I am in this for the long run, and I’m Not. Opting. Out.

More Sheryl, Less Ivanka

April 28, 2017

So Ivanka Trump was invited by Angela Merkel to attend the W20 Summit in Berlin, where the First Daughter was booed by audience members after describing her father – that pillar of orange-flavored feminist goodness – as “a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive.” Ivanka responded to those boos with protestations that His Royal Highness, the Viscount Ermine of Fatback, had always been nice to HER, which is sort of like saying that the serial killer next door is a tremendous champion of people not being murdered simply on the basis that he never locked me in a basement and then ate me for dinner.

But Ivanka is a Trump through and through, and she understands the importance of family loyalty, even as it pertains to the guy who famously said he’d like to date her, has agreed that it’s okay for others to refer to her as a “piece of a**,” and once stated publicly that their greatest commonality was their mutual enjoyment of sex. All of which is really creepy, since he’s, like, her DAD and all.

So I’m not really surprised that Ivanka’s defending Custard McPumpkin Sludge of Horny Hound Mews, even though doing so significantly decreases whatever credibility she may have had in her own right as a designer of made-in-China shoes and – let’s be honest – a line of jewelry that’s sort of tacky.

What IS surprising is that Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel – you know, that lady with the graduate degree in quantum physics? – actually invited Ivanka to participate in the W20 Summit based upon her ostensible accomplishments as a handbag designer (an occupation, it should be noted, that also counts among its member by Jerry Seinfeld’s ex-girlfriend, Shoshanna Lonstein and former White House intern Monica Lewinsky).

It’s not even a little bit depressing that Merkel overlooked women like Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, or Ursual Burns, CEO of Xerox Corp., or Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi, or Irene Rosenfeld, CEO of Kraft….I could go on. Despite the White Male Patriarchy that firmly remains, even in 2017, as the backdrop against which all American business and governmental affairs are conducted, it appears that there are, in fact, at least a FEW women who might have been BETTER choices than Princess Lightweight von TrustFund to represent our country at an international conference where women leaders explored issues such as gender gaps in the labor force, female entrepreneurship, and greater inclusion of women in STEM occupations. Yeah, I’m sure Sheryl Sandberg, who’s just written a terrific book on grieving and previously exhorted women to “Lean In” and demand their seat – and voice – at the professional table, had nothing meaningful to say on any of those topics.

But Angela Merkel invited Ivanka instead.

Ivanka Trump is an easy target, to be sure: How convenient her privilege, family money, and name recognition as the sole explanation for the unexpected level of success she has achieved at a relatively tender age (and that was before Trump supporters starting buying her merch as a show of solidarity with the man who financed those endeavors), especially given the lack of any evidence of formidible intelligence, talent, or sweat.

It’s also fun to hate Ivanka for always looking perfect, even 30 seconds after giving birth. The majority of us women who clean our own toilets and wipe our kid’s butts and noses often feel – justifiably, I think – some level of resentment that this woman, who can jet off to an international women’s summit on another continent without having to worry about who’s going to get the kids to school or make sure they have clean underpants, is always so well-coiffed, her makeup just so, and dressed so as to leave no question that there’s not an ounce of fat or a single stretch mark on her buff physique, notwithstanding three pregnancies. Yeah, she’s easy to hate, even though she’s sort of likeable, especially in comparison to (1) her father; (2) her brothers (the older ones, anyway); and (3) everyone else in the Trump Administration.

I would have expected more from Merkel, however, and I’m dismayed that, according to conventional wisdom, Merkel invited Ivanka to the W20 (instead of, say, Virginia Rometti, the CEO of IBM, or Sheri McCoy, former CEO of Johnson & Johnson and current CEO of Avon) because of the potential access such an invitation may later provide her for networking with President Pillsbury Q. Squeezebottom. Which also raises the question, why does Angela Merkel need ANY access to Frothy O’Sandwich Hands? She seems to be doing just fine without the smarmy comments and “I’m not gonna shake your hand and you can’t make me” nonsense of King Toddler McNeedaNap. There’s a possibility that Ivanka was invited so as to bring attention to the work of W20, but if that was the reason, maybe just invite Oprah Winfrey, or Emma Watson, or Beyonce, even? Same amount of publicity, greater intellectual heft, fewer boos.

I’m disappointed in Angela Merkel and unsurprised by Ivanka, but I am at least a little bit encouraged that the women who DID attend W20 called out Princess Fairy Dust and Pink-Iced Cupcakes for shilling for her creepy, disturbing father and trying to pass him off as a champion for women and families, when even bacteria, asparagus ferns, and mold spores know that he is neither.

The bottom line is, we don’t need to pay attention to Ivanka Trump, whether as window dressing at what was supposed to be a gathering of serious women, or as an apologist for the dryer lint that currently sits in the Oval Office. Ivanka Trump, minus her money and looks, has no greater pretense to be at the W20 Summit than any of the rest of us (in fact, she’s probably got less). We need to showcase women who set a standard of excellence, innovation, leadership, and courage, and Ivanka Trump is none of those things – not by a long shot. What she’s good at – trying to make her despicable father appear more palatable and less, well, despicable – isn’t worth entertaining, and none of us should be giving her any further opportunities to spout her dubious claims that the leader of the free world isn’t a misogynistic racist who would rather the poor, sick, and powerless just die already.

Angela Merkel, and all women who are in a position to elevate other deserving women, should keep that in mind the next time they’re writing out the guest list. Next time, ask Sheryl Sandberg what she’s got to say, and I doubt there will be any boos.

Helpful Definitions

October 6, 2016

Deplorable: Person who is racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, and/or believes that those of a different gender/race/religion/sexual orientation/ethnicity are less than, and should be despised/persecuted on those grounds alone.

If you fit this definition, guess what? You’re deplorable, yes, she was talking about you, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

If you don’t, you’re not, she wasn’t, and we’re cool. You can still not like her because of her policies, but not because she thinks it’s un-American to be a bigot. Unless you think it’s not un-American to be a bigot.

Then you’re deplorable.

What I Learned Today on Social Media

 

November 9, 2016

 

1. All Democrats are lazy, unemployed, and survive on public subsidies. That’s why they have all that time to protest.

 

2. Democrats love President Obama because the ACA provided them with free insurance that only Republicans had to pay for.

 

3. Black people should get over the whole slavery thing because it happened 150 years ago.

 

4. Anyone who is unhappy with the results of the election should leave the country, which would be better off without us lazy, entitled Democrats, anyway.

 

5. Cats sure are cute.

 

6. The real victims in our country are white men. It’s so unfair how they have to pay child support to their mean ex-wives.

 

7. Cheesy Corn Casserole…the perfect new addition to your Thanksgiving line-up!

 

8. Some people voted for Trump but didn’t actually want him to win.

 

9. Hillary Clinton runs a child sex ring with a bunch of Muslim guys. Probably why she lost.

 

10. You can never see too many pictures of a koala bear.

 

Curt Schilling is an Idiot

October 26, 2016

Curt Schilling says that the Republican Party presidential nominee’s comments about wanting to date underage girls is no big deal, http://thehill.com/…/300924-curt-schilling-defends-trump-af…, and he doesn’t have a problem with his candidate’s now-infamous hot mic comments because they were made “over 11 year ago” and because he (Curt) “is bigger than those remarks and we have all said stupid things throughout our lives.” https://www.facebook.com/curt.schilling.56?pnref=story. This from the same man whose first reaction to sexually malicious tweets about his 17-year-old daughter was, “I’m going to get in the car and go kill somebody,” the same man who would “rather kill [the guys who posted the tweets] than speak to them,” the same man who claims to believe that “no woman should be subjected to the abuse that his teenaged daughter faced,” the same man who said, “if you’re a young lady and being harassed, first of all it’s against the law. As a young lady and a human, no one, anywhere, ever, is allowed to talk to you that way.” http://usatodayhss.com/…/curt-schilling-this-wasnt-a-mistak…. So, what have we learned? It’s okay to ogle 10-year-old girls, or to make jokes about dating them “in a few years,” or to grope women, or to joke about grabbing them by their genitalia – unless it’s your daughter. Well, Curt, those 12 women your candidate assaulted, that 10-year-old-girl he wants to date, those young women at the Miss Teen USA pageant he walked in on while they were getting dressed—they’re ALL someone’s daughter. Just because they’re not yours doesn’t mean it doesn’t count.

Top 10 Positives of a Donald J. Trump Presidency

December 31, 2016

10. Stock market bump lines pockets of top 1%…Trump Electorate, not so much.
9. No health insurance? No problem! Lots of hospitals have charitable forgiveness programs, and the ER is always open!
8. Four years for Trump Electorate to ponder and appreciate the immortal words of Lewis Carroll.
7. Pharmaceutical industry booms as same Electorate turns to prescription drugs in attempt to combat only consistent and predictable “policy” of DJT Administration….gaslighting.
6. Muslim Registry nothing like Nuremberg Laws of 1935…Nothing like them. Not even a little bit.
5. Deporting all those pesky illegals = jobs for Americans looking to break into the housekeeping and produce picking industries.
4. Finally, a conservative Supreme Court! Instead of the 4/4 split and Anthony Kennedy swing vote, now we’ll have a 4/4 split and Anthony Kennedy swing vote!
3. America is gonna be great again, once we get rid of everyone who isn’t a straight white male Christian or the women who exist solely to service them…you know, women devoid of any ambition or sense of self-determination…women who keep their mouths shut, even when someone is grabbing their p*ssies. That’s an America we can all be proud of!
2. It’s not like transparency in government, or in our Commander in Chief in particular, is important or anything.
1. 4 years x 365 days per year = 1,460 days in which 65,844,610 people work together to make sure that this despicable, deplorable, waxy-faced toilet plunger, this barely literate, moist-sweaty toddler-Man, this skid-mark on America’s tighty-whiteys, this bile-spewing bad joke on every living creature on the planet, gets the Mitch McConnell treatment so that on January 20, 2021, he can return to his Cap’n Crunch Penthouse to reflect on all the good he did for the Electorate he laughs at in private.

This is the man you elected, Trump Voters. Don’t say you weren’t warned.