What beings creep here?

Lamenting, wailing, and gnashing of teeth heralded me when dawn broke yesterday.  Congress convened at 1:00 a.m. and began dismantling the ACA, the radio blared.

I stood in the kitchen listening, scrolling through social media and scowling at the thought of a Senate which had refused to act for six years reinvigorating itself with such intensity.  The website of the news station recently maligned by the president-elect outlined the story:  “This resolution will set the stage for true legislative relief from Obamacare that Americans have long demanded while ensuring a stable transition,” Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi of Wyoming said, just after 1 a.m. “The Obamacare bridge is collapsing and we’re sending in a rescue team.”

Happens that the ACA has not failed as miserably as all that.  As one writer said, “For all its recent difficulties, of which there are more below, Obamacare has made American health care both dramatically more affordable and humanitarian. Its various cost reforms have helped bring medical inflation to decades-low levels, and it has given access to basic medical care to 20 million Americans who lacked it before.”

For myself, the ACA has been a qualified success.  More of my expensive care has been covered, at higher percentages.  Though my premiums raised, they’d done so every year for a decade and at about the same rate.  I am not alone.  I know cancer survivors who have insurance now who wouldn’t have been able to obtain a policy before the ACA.

By the same token, many resent being forced to have coverage, a key requirement of the Act, intended to balance the burden by bringing healthier Americans into the premium pool.

By all world views which I have heard in my travels through the Interwebs, a single-payer system would be best but that seems un-American to some, bordering on socialism.

What troubles me about this week’s events centers not on the substantive issue of whether we should or should not repeal all or some of the Affordable Care Act.   Rather, along with many including Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the thought of the previously immobile Senate suddenly churning its rusted wheels flabbergasts me.  Pelosi cautioned that Republicans would “cut and run” on people with health insurance and worried that Republicans would end up cutting Medicare benefits as well.

But I think our worry should be less on result than on methodology.  What beings creep in midnight hallways, voting when the nation which they purport to represent has gone to sleep?  What do they hide, in their night-time wanderings?  What specter do they shield from our discovery?

And what about the fact that they steadfastly declined to do their job for the last six years — stonewalling any action over and over?  Are these the kind of men and women who should be leading our nation — ones who only act when the lemming mentality can be used to pull us over the cliff, and do so under cover of darkness?

I’m sure they would say it differently.  They’d say that their majority now allows them to act, where they could not do so before they had control of the White House and felt certain of presidential endorsement.  But why did they shun compromise in those years when President Obama sat in the Oval Office?  Is not our nation intended to be one of checks and balances, which noble end the two parties could serve rather than shirking?

I never thought before now that there should be a daylight prerequisite to Congressional action.  But happenstance has shown us that a brighter light needs to be shone upon the work in Washington.  If their efforts give them pride, then let the votes be taken while the people are awake to see, rather than as we sleep in innocence.

Here in the Midwest, dire warnings occupy the radio, portents of ice storms and frigid air.  But my veins run cold already.


Trust, but verify

Ironically, Ronald Reagan first laced diplomatic negotiations with the Russian slogan “trust, but verify”.  Now we turn to another entertainer-turned-President and apply the phrase to him.

Trump’s promises falter.  His half-hearted avowal to divest himself of ethical entanglements falls  by the wayside.  His tax returns remain hidden.  Vague rumors emerge that suggest his record of aberrant behavior persisted well past the  locker-room stage.  He denies Russian involvement in the hacking of the DNC for months but now concedes that they did.

Politifact’s Trump File shows that 84% of his statements were as follows:

Half True   15%
Mostly False 18%
False 33%
Pants on Fire 18%

Trump’s total from half-truth downward: 84%

In  case you want to compare, Politifact shows President Obama as follows:

Half True   27%
Mostly False 12%
False 12%
Pants on Fire 2%

That puts Obama’s Half True to Pants on Fire percentage at: 43%.

Obama’s biggest percentage in the negative portion of the Politifact scale lies in the Half True category, whereas Trump’s largest percentage from Half True downward falls in the False category.

I’ve been talking to people all week about this.  Are we in trouble?  Is Armageddon upon us?  Will Trump implode?  Will Congress impeach him?  Is Pence worse?  I even had one fairly hilarious conversation with a moderately liberal Chicago friend in which we concluded that Pence’s stances on LGBT issues can be considered immoral but possibly not unethical.  We took some desperate comfort in the distinction.

Sorrow washes over me when I contemplate the uncertainty I feel about the fate of our country.  We’re trading a calm, composed man of measured responses for a shrill, shrieking self-absorbed megalomaniac.  Our 44th president luxuriates in a long-term marriage and spent eight scandal-free years in the White House.  Our 45th president-elect combats one controversy after another before he’s been sworn into office.  He refuses to divest himself of interests which even some Republicans say raise ethical concerns.  Rumors of his connections to Russia abound and his only response is a 140-character temper tantrum on Twitter and a petulant refusal to let CNN question him at his first news conference since winning the election.

With all this swarming on the horizon, what could possibly go wrong?

Hail to the Chief

When Barack Hussein Obama won the election in 2008, I became gripped with an irrational fear that he would be assassinated before he could take the Oath of Office.

Each morning I clicked the radio dial with an increasingly shaky hand.  I closed my eyes and eased the dial to the local public radio station, holding my breath.  As the announcer’s voice began to read the headlines of the day, I wrapped my arms around my still-plump body, shivering with the overwhelming certainty that I would be draping a black shawl around my shoulders to mourn the execution of what would have been America’s first African-American president.

Even tonight, as he spoke his words of farewell to us, I shuddered with the fear that some fanatic would rise from the bleachers in McCormick Place and prematurely end the life of a man who has done so much, and meant so much, and endured so much.

But the moment passed, just as the other days of  his two terms in office slipped away.

He gave his speech with dignity, and humor, and tears which fell unrestrained when he gazed on his elegant, gracious wife and one of his two lovely daughters.  He looked out on thousands who cherish the work which he has led and he gave his thanks to them.  He brought us together under the title of “citizen”.

I wept.

I know that he has his detractors but I am not one of them.  President Obama has taken our country from recession to a firmer resilience than we have felt in this century, and he has acquitted himself with a profoundly noble style.  He has not overlooked the differences which splinter us, but he has appealed to the common values which we share.  He has asked us to embrace what we all believe, to recognize the goals that bind us, and to forgive the differences which threaten to diminish us.

I am not that strong.  I am not that bold.  I am not that generous.  But I will try, because of President Barack Hussein Obama.  I take my inspiration from him, just as he drew his own inspiration from  the rest of us, during his long journey to this unprecedented, bittersweet moment in the history of our great nation.



Some of my favorite words from tonight’s speech:

“It …is that spirit born of the enlightenment that made us an economic powerhouse. The spirit that took flight at Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral, the spirit that cures disease and put a computer in every pocket, it’s that spirit. A faith in reason and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression, that allowed us to build a post-World War II order with other democracies.

“An order based not just on military power or national affiliations, but built on principles, the rule of law, human rights, freedom of religion and speech and assembly and an independent press.


“No matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem, that’s part of defending America. For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism and chauvinism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.

“So let’s be vigilant, but not afraid. ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight.


“Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning — with our participation, and with the choices that we make and the alliances that we forge.

“Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law, that’s up to us. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.”



The Company You Keep

Aesop said it best:  You shall be known by the company you keep.

Let us look, then, at the company which president-elect Donald Trump intends to keep, starting with his proposed Attorney General whose confirmation hearings have commenced in Washington.

He has been accused of using the demeaning term “boy” in addressing an African-American male colleague.

He prosecuted the Marion Three, a case in which African-Americans were charged with voter fraud in what was alleged to be racially motivated cases.  He’s been quoted as calling the ACLU and the NAACP Communist-inspired un-American organizations.  He does not deny that he might have made some of these statements.

As a private, non-government attorney and citizen, I may hold and preach anything I choose.  I may disagree with the law, criticize it, lobby for its change, and castigate those who support or don’t support what I think the law is or should be.  But as a government attorney, and as the U. S. Attorney General, Mr. Sessions will be required to uphold the law of the land.

Most importantly:  He should not attempt to change the law.

Yet that is precisely what the president-elect wants to do:  Change the laws of this nation.  So:  Will Mr. Sessions assist in the effort to change our laws — or will he stalwartly stand and uphold them?

Our nation should not engage in torture; and we have taken the position that we will not.

Our nation should open its doors to immigrants.  Immigrants founded and built this country.  Our Statue of Liberty welcomes them to our safe harbor.  She greets them with these words:

“The New Colossus”
By Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Our nation should embrace marriage equality, and did so under President Obama’s administration.  We have finally brought this Constitutionally protected right to all of our citizens.  Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family.  In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were.”

Of the petitioners, he observed, “Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

As Americans, we recognize and proclaim that all persons are equal and should be treated equally.   Will Jeff Sessions uphold these principles and the laws which embody and implement them?  Will he use the Justice Department to assist the president-elect in changing the laws to suit his beliefs?

Only time will tell.  It is likely that he will be confirmed.  Those of us watching, those of us who have listened to racist, misogynist words and principles spewed from the mouths of Donald Trump and his supporters, stand with bated breath.  Those of us inclined toward prayer have given this to a divine entity, with the fervent hope that this nation goes forward, and not backward.

As for myself, from my little satellite office in Liberty, I pray that neither Trump nor Sessions falls into the dangerous, mean-spirited land which the company they keep seems to suggest that they intend to frequent.  Between them, they will possess a combined power which  could slay all of us.  Our lives and liberty depend upon the continuation and furtherance of an American spirit broad and accepting enough for all.




To understand what the Attorney General does, click HERE.

For an admittedly partisan but fairly accurate summary of how the Attorney General impacts our nation, click HERE.

A Magic Moment in Hollywood

For thirty days before 08 November 2016, I posted a link on social media to the video tape of the now-president-elect mocking a disabled reporter.  Last night, Meryl Streep killed her Golden Globe speech before a packed house and an adoring nation by condemning Trump for his sickening conduct.

The president-elect responded by calling Streep “an over-rated actress” and denying that his contorted arms and exaggerated grimace had been intended as mockery of the reporter’s disability.

Way to go, DT.  You’ve mastered what we jokingly claimed to learn in law school: If you can’t pound on the law, pound on the facts.  If you can’t pound on the facts, pound on your opponent.

75,000,000 Americans and the rest of the world know that Trump meant not only to mock that reporter’s disability but to imply that his impairment prevented accurate recall and perception.  Believe me, I instantly understood DT’s intent. I don’t have to be a mind-reader, as he implied last night.  I walked the streets of Jennings, Missouri as a handicapped child in a family with no car.  Boys from my parish would linger twenty feet behind me, flailing their arms and stuttering through contorted faces, their legs criss-crossed as they staggered forward.

I recognized those boys in Trump’s performance.  Like Meryl Streep, I flinched as his act pierced my heart.  I played the video of Trump mocking that reporter over and over, a growing fear spreading its chill through my veins.  Surely no one of any intelligence or compassion would think this guy has the maturity and character to assume the highest office in our nation?  

Yet 64,000,000 people did.  I find myself riding in elevators glancing nervously to my left and right, worried that I am surrounded by people who think making fun of us disabled persons doesn’t signify a bully-mentality.

And lest you mistake Trump’s revisionist account of his performance for anything but devious malarkey, please read this article on gas-lighting.

I didn’t see Meryl Streep’s speech live because I had house-guests.  After the last one left and I had finished loading the dishwasher, I climbed the stairs to my bedroom.  I thanked God that I can still do that, since my lovely upstairs sanctuary with its 100-year old pine-clad walls and cathedral ceiling lured me into buying this house in the first place.  I moved around the room, taking off jewelry, finding something soft to ease over my swollen joints, watching a recorded Food Network show with the sound off.  Finally, I laid down and scrolled through Facebook, discovering that no less than five of my friends had tagged me in a repost of the Streep speech.

My tribe.  How well they understand my outrage at anyone who disparages those of us with disabilities, from the woman who parks in the handicapped space without plates or placard because she’s “just going to be inside for five minutes” to the presidential candidate who contorts his body to get a laugh from the fans whom he has deluded into think he and he alone can make America great.

The man who defends himself yet again by levying a completely baseless ad hominen attack on she who bravely stood and pointed dead-on at the Emperor’s naked body.

I’ve got news for Donald Trump.  America has always been great — not because of you, but in spite of you and your kind.  Americans rise above people like you, despite our crippled legs.  We succeed, despite the fact that we learned English as a second language.  We persevere, and we survive, and we will survive your four years too.  We will stand together, in our cities, and our neighborhoods; our tenements and our townhouses — disabled and able-bodied; native-born and immigrant; young and old; gay,  straight, trans-gender and gender-fluid; black, white, Hispanic and Asian.

And if we need to stand together to protect ourselves from our own president, we will do that too.

We know, for sure, that we can count on Hollywood to stand with us.



PS:  I’m not the only one to call DT a “gas-lighter”. Click HERE.

Reality Rears Its Ugly Head

I’ve resumed listening to NPR.

I had to quit after the election because the thought of having as president, a man who preached racist, misogynist principles and was supported by the KKK  sickened me.  About a week ago, I realized that I get my daily fix of local flavor, heart-warming essays, and headlines from KCUR, so I started back again.  I read the morning briefing from the New York Times, and I cruise Reuters.com for a smattering of world view.  I’m letting it all back into my consciousness and taking deep cleansing breaths in between bursts of hearing about the plans which the president-elect and the Republican Congress have for us.

I’ve learned that the slow, steady climb out of the recession which we’ve enjoyed the last eight years won’t be acknowledged by this regime.  A review of the president-elect’s proposed cabinet members and staff establishes that he favors the rich, elite, and powerful, a group which I thought would be banished once he “drained the swamp”.  Stories of racist altercations and harsh rhetoric on both sides testify to the rift that the election has deepened or exposed.

And now we learn that the president-elect will charge U.S. taxpayers for  “The Wall”.   He  previously promised to make Mexico pay, but now expects to submit a chit across that Wall and seek reimbursement.

A bit ironic, I should say — from the man who has told us he doesn’t pay vendors if he considers their work substandard.  I’m guessing he won’t think turn about is fair play if the Mexican government reacts the same way, walking up and down The Wall inspecting the brickwork.

I’d unplug the radio but I don’t want to miss Snap Judgment and The Moth Radio Hour.

Reality rears its ugly head as the new Congress settles into its desks and orders new carpet for their offices.  We’re more divided than ever.  A man whose companies repeatedly sought protection in bankruptcy has the reins in his small hands and a sneer on his face.  Flocks of wealthy capitalists clamor at the gates of Paradise, seeking audience with the king.  Millions of Americans face a loss of health insurance.  Film at eleven, oooh ahhh ahhh.

The one bright note might be that Megyn Kelly finally left Fox News.  One can only hope she’ll be happy in her new home.  Maybe she’ll write her memoir and expose the corruption through which she dragged her skirts.



Mightier than the Sword

An old friend recently told me that the person who occupies the White House does not impact her life.  “I still go to work every day, and I still pay taxes.”  Across the internet, reading her message, I felt the small shrug with which she typed those words.  My stomach clenched.

My friend needs to bear in mind the power of the written word in creating the image of America, along with the power which has settled in the White House by virtue of the murky malaise which besieges our Congress.

I find it disturbing and ironic that almost half of America considered Trump to be a suitable president even confronted with his wild and seemingly unconsidered deportment.  We have so many illustrations from which to understand how a president should look and act; and what principles he or she should espouse and announce.

Abraham Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg ring clear and loud in my morning foggy brain:

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

Compare Lincoln’s speech with what we constantly see in 140 characters from the president-elect.  The nausea and bile rise in my stomach.

I searched “Donald Trump’s Worst Tweets” and got a seven-figure result, including a page created on 08 November 2016 by the Hindustan Times, listing Trump’s ten most outrageous tweets as of that date, in the opinion of one of its editorial writers.    The quoted tweets show the crass and unkind temperament of the president-elect, typified by this attack on Rand Paul:

Truly weird Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain. He was terrible at DEBATE!


“While the President’s constitutional powers were, and still are, quite limited, the rise of political parties in the U.S. has done more to focus power in the presidency than any other factor.  Both the election activities of the parties and their formalized role in the Congress (which the founders had neither provided for nor foreseen), have, ironically, contributed to the migration of power from Congress to the presidency.  “The American President”, © 2006 H. Paul Lillebo, Blue Ridge Journal, October 2006.”

Driving from court yesterday, I heard a male voice shouting on the radio.  My first thought pegged it as a clip from a movie, but the announcer identified the angry speaker as Sean Spicer, the press secretary for the president-elect.  I felt myself growing more and more despondent at the prospect of having erratic, petulant, and discordant men and women wielding the power which Congress has ceded to the Oval Office.  Am I alone in fearing the changes in our landscape which a childish, temper-tantrum-throwing narcissistic president will force us to endure?

The unease which I feel mirrors the qualified congratulations heard around the world on November 09th.  Two statements spoke to my soul.

After the election, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had this to say about the results:

“Germany and America are bound by their values: democracy, freedom, the respect for the law and the dignity of human beings, independent of their origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political position.

On the basis of these values I offer the future president of the United States, Donald Trump, close cooperation.”

Considering that I never once heard Trump espouse any of these values, I have to think Chancellor Merkel had her tongue planted firmly in her cheek.

‘Round Rome way, the Roman Catholic Pope said what most of us might have been feeling in our guts but found it difficult to express:

May we make God’s merciful love ever more evident in our world through dialogue, mutual acceptance and fraternal cooperation.

The schoolyard bullies revolt

It took me three tries to find a pre-school where I could send my son and not spend the entire day fretting about his safety.  On the second try, I got a call one afternoon that my son had bitten someone.  Bitten?  Patrick?  He was only 2 for goodness sake!  How could he be left unattended long enough to bite someone?

Both Patrick and the child whom he had bitten told the same exact story.  The other child, his neighborhood friend Isaac, had sat on Patrick’s chest and was pummeling Patrick’s face with his fists.  His fists.  Isaac was three and a hefty kid.    I closed my eyes at this point.  The teacher continued with her tale.  Patrick “used his words” (“Isaac, stop hitting me!  Isaac, get off my chest!”), which the school told the kids should be their first line of defense.  He could not “walk away” because Isaac sat squarely on his chest.  The third tactic?  “Get help.”

Where was the teacher?  Sitting on  a park bench three feet away reading outloud to other children. Patrick called for her.  She glanced over and, in her words “figured it was just boys being boys” so she did nothing.

So Patrick, whose hands had been placed out of commission by Isaac straddling his entire body, caught one of the flailing fists en route to his face between his lips and bit down hard.  Isaac jumped up, screaming bloody murder.  The teacher lumbered over and thrashed my son, who took his punishment with silent tears.

I thought about Patrick’s biting episode when I saw this lead-in paragraph at npr.org at 7:00 a.m. today:

The House Republican Conference voted Monday night to approve a change to House rules to weaken the independence of the Office of Congressional Ethics and place it under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee — a panel controlled by party leaders.

The schoolyard bullies have taken over the playground.  The rules of conduct will not help us.  We can use our words, but no one will be listening.  We can’t walk away unless we’re prepared to move to New Zealand.  Although I did get a passport for the first time in my life in anticipation of needing to make a fast get away, I like this playground and I’d prefer to stay.

In case you’ve forgotten why the Office of Congressional Ethics came to be, NPR provides this account and link:

The Office of Congressional Ethics was established in 2008 under House Democrats, in response to the era of lobbying scandals made notable by Jack Abramoff, the former lobbyist who went to prison on corruption charges.

NPR.org, 03 January 2017.  The Department of Justice release describes Abramoff’s antics:  “Abramoff also admitted that as one means of accomplishing results for their clients, he, Scanlon, and others engaged in a pattern of corruptly providing things of value to public officials, including trips, campaign contributions, and meals and entertainment, with the intent to influence acts by the public officials that would benefit Abramoff and Abramoff’s clients.”

Providing things of value to public officials. . . with the intent to influence acts by the public officials. . .That’s bribery, people.  Bribery.

Even Paul Ryan opposes this move, saying: “there’s a bipartisan way to better reform the office.”

Notwithstanding all the bad jokes thrown at me and my brothers and sisters at the Bar over cocktails, I live by extraordinarily tight Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 4.  Every time I send a letter or draft a pleading, I mentally rifle through a whole sheaf of formal and informal opinions to decide if what I’m doing passes muster.  If I stray across the line, I am subject to censure if someone reports me.  Moreover, lawyers in Missouri have a duty to report each other for suspected violations calling their integrity into question:


(a) A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects shall inform the appropriate professional authority.

Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 4-8.3.

I judge every act which I do as a lawyer by the professional standards to which I am held.  I’ve  reported lawyers when I learned of substantial breaches of their ethics.  I thought long and hard before doing so, but in the final analysis, I knew our profession must hold itself to the highest standards.  I realized that if I did not safeguard those ethics, the fabric of our flag would be a little more tattered. Our clients would be a little less safe.

And that’s what will happen if Congressional ethics have fewer and weaker safeguards.  The schoolyard bully will sit on our chest and pummel our faces.   The teacher will sit on her duff reading fairy tales while we holler for help.  We’ll finally grow tired and bite the fist which strikes us time after time.  We will be sent to time-out for defending ourselves.  The bully will walk away smirking.  Just like Isaac.

In 17 days, one party will control both houses of Congress and the White House.  That party’s leaders just voted to give themselves free reign on the playground.   If you were not already frightened, you should be terrified now.


Author’s note:  The above-appearing entry was written on 03 January 2017 at 8:00 a.m. CST.  As noted by NPR.org this afternoon, Public outcry, opposition from ethics watchdog groups, a divided GOP, and two tweets from Trump critical of the rules change prompted a swift reversal of the proposal authored by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.

Truth-Telling, Truth-Bending, and the American Dream

Yesterday someone whom I long ago blocked on social media posted a  crack about me on someone else’s Facebook page.  In response to something I wrote which our mutual friend shared, the naysayer quipped, “Another person who doesn’t understand why Trump was elected.”

Oh but I do.

I understand all too well that the election of the Republican candidate stemmed from a peculiar discontent common to three groups of Americans:  White, upper-middle-socio-economic men;  white lower-socio-economic persons of both genders; and the over-lapping and growing group of people who feel that only Caucasians  should be allowed to pursue the American dream.

Possibly these three groups would not describe themselves as such.  Certainly, religiously Conservative minority voters (code word for ‘non-white’) factored into the equation.  But a common thread runs among the less-than-half of Americans who voted for the successful candidate.   That thread spins itself into the fabric of an us-and-them mentality which Trump embraced and preached.

The supporters of Trump have a different way of describing what happened.  They claim to be taking back individual control of destiny, protecting  American soil, and bucking a corrupt Washington system.  The L.A. Times said this about Trump Supporters:

“Sure, Trump said some vile things during an exceedingly nasty campaign, sometimes acting in ways they wouldn’t want their children to behave. But for those who supported him, that was part of what made him an unconventional candidate — he wasn’t the typical stamped-from-the-mold politician.”

L.A. Times, 02 Jan 2017, linked HERE.

So what makes people elect someone who “[acted] in ways they wouldn’t want their children to behave”?  He validated their views, and we have known for a long time that people form their views and go looking for a version of “facts” which supports what they already believe.  A 2009 study at Ohio State University  “found that participants spent 36 percent more time reading articles that agreed with their point of view. They had a 58 percent chance of choosing articles that supported their views, as opposed to a 43 percent chance of choosing an article that challenged their view”.

This proclivity could explain why Trump voters ignored his overt broadcast of what he apparently believes which might not coincide with his voters’ fundamental values.

For example, Trump mocked and ridiculed a reporter to dismiss that reporter’s challenge to Trump’s account of seeing what he describe as “Arabs” or “Muslims” celebrating the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Building.  A video camera memoralized Trump’s conduct, yet Trump supporters apparently did not condemn him for that obvious signal that Trump will rely on ad hominem attacks on others based upon their differences to bolster his positions.

Trump also made remark after remark establishing his opinion that women should be treated as inferior beings, good mostly for sexual gratification.  Yet women voted for him, apparently excusing his rhetoric as idle talk or irrelevant.

So we’ve come to a point in American history where truth has become elastic or inconsequential.  The American Dream used to mean hard work, accumulation of wealth, personal freedom, and co-existence among others interested in the same freedom that each of us wanted for ourselves and our families.  Does it still mean that to any of us, in the era when we have to hold our nose to vote for the least offensive candidate, and 64,000,000 find someone with no regard for women, the disabled, or prisoners of war to be less offensive than anyone else on the crowded stage?

And what about this:  A significant number of people found it acceptable to stand on the same side of the line as the Klu Klux Klan.  The people who brought us lynchings, cross-burnings, and the murder of innocent people based upon the color of their skin. The KKK.    I could never bring myself to vote for someone who is seen by the KKK as having shared values.  That single fact would be a deal-breaker for me.  Yet I know people whom I consider decent and intelligent, who voted for Trump.  This signals to me that those people do not mind being associated with the KKK — that they prefer a divided country, whereas I strive for, and believe in, a unified nation, in which all persons are seen as equal and treated equally.

It has come to this:

The American Dream dons a white robe and burns a cross on your yard, and their candidate takes office in 18 days.   They stood with him; are we to believe that he will not stand with them?  We know he ridicules people like me — female, disabled — and people like John McCain, who nobly served our country.   We know that Trump disparaged the parents of a soldier killed in action.  What makes us think that he will behave differently after 20 January 2017 than he did for the entirety of his life including when he conducted a quite public and vocal campaign to occupy the highest office in our land?

Tell me this:  Are his supporters counting on him changing?

If so, they have a long time to wait.  People rarely change for someone who loves them, which might be the single most common reason for the American divorce rate.

So we must take a long hard look at truth, truth-bending, and the American dream.  Less than half (62,979,636) of Americans supported the man who will take office on January 20th.  The rest of us, more than 74,000,000, now have the responsibility for sitting on the teeter-totter and making sure the country stays in balance.  As E.J. Dionne tells us:

“The most important political task of 2017 transcends the normal run of issues and controversies. Our greatest obligation will be to defend democracy itself, along with republican norms for governing and the openness that free societies require.”

We’re going to need a hefty tool box. 


“It Can’t Happen Here”

When I moved to Kansas City in 1980, I came to start law school and to take a job with Freedom, Inc., which at the time described itself as a “black political group”.  Freedom, Inc. started in 1963, intended to promote equality and justice in our community.

I encountered bigotry within my first few weeks, and not on the streets of the neighborhood of our office where I worked as the lone white figure.  No, the discrimination occurred in a tonier part of town.

A co-worker and I went to a restaurant on the Country Club Plaza for lunch after a networking event.  We did not have reservations but told the hostess that we wanted a table for two.  We watched as folks who arrived after we did, also without reservations, got tables first.  Finally, I approached the hostess and asked how much longer it would be.  She said, “You know, you probably wouldn’t like our food.”

My eyebrows drew together.  “I beg your pardon,” I replied.  She reiterated, “You’re probably the salad type. We have lousy salads here.”  She looked me dead in the eye.

I turned to see my friend Joyce shaking her head.  Her deep brown eyes darkened.  She raised one hand, its brown skin contrasting with my pale Irish complexion as she touched my arm.  “Let’s go, Corinne,” she urged me.

I turned back to the hostess.  “We’d like a table now, please,” I stated flatly.

The hostess held a pack of menus to her chest and said, “Ma’am, we don’t do salt-and-pepper here.”

I kid you not.  Salt-and-pepper, by which I clearly understood that she meant she would not seat us due to the fact that I was “white” and Joyce was “black”.

Outraged, I raised a fuss, then walked out and filed a complaint with the city. We won.  We got $1,500.00 each, which we promptly donated to Freedom’s education fund.

This weekend, my sister-in-law told me a disturbing story about students on a Ladue, Missouri school bus taunting their black classmates that they would have to sit in the back of the bus.  Their racist comments had been prefaced by chants of “Trump, Trump, Trump”.  Seriously?  Here?  In Missouri?  In Ladue, of all places?

If you don’t believe me, click HERE to follow the story.

Incidents like this will become more common under the current national administration unless something happens to clearly signal that America will not tolerate a return to racism and misogyny.  We heard it during the campaign.  I have no reason to assume that the racist, bigoted supporters of the 2016 presidential victor will feel anything other than empowered when he takes office.

Those of us who believe in equality, justice, and progress must not let this happen.  And make no mistake:  It can happen here.

Be watchful.  Be vigilant.  Do not tolerate this conduct.  Stand and announce that we will not go backward.

If not you, then who?


Can there be peace?

One question which I will ponder over the next four years:  Can there be peace?

Can we sit together at the national table discussing affairs of the day, after everything we’ve seen, heard, and endured?

During the 2012 election,  my then-husband, a Republican, sat in the living room listening to Fox News and castigating “any moron who would vote for Obama”.    I slunk away, suppressing anger, wondering what to say to such voluble condemnation.

I knew a lot of people who voted for Romney but still called me “friend” after Mr. Obama won re-election.

But this year, such connections do not seem possible.  I find absolutely nothing redeeming or defensible about the man who won.  The fact that 64,000,000 people consider his behavior not only defensible, but preferable  astounds and sickens me.

Good people.  Smart people.  People whom I have admired.

So I will be asking this question, and I hope the answer does not frighten me.  Though I fear a resounding “no”, I yearn for the rising whisper of a definite “yes”.

Can there be peace, from 21 January 2017 forward?



Political and social commentary from the Missouri Mugwump.