Quiet Power

It may appear to be innocuos

It may appear to be innocuous


About two months ago, I had a conversation with someone about whether The Don beats Melania. It’s undoubted that he abuses her psychologically and financially. Sexual exploitation, manipulation, isolation, he probably uses all of those tools and a few more.

My conversation partner expressed very similar insights as Matt Bai. They also offered that Melania has much more power than we suspect because she is the one holding the golden nuts in the tightly clenched palm of her hand. And she has in all likelihood told Mr. Wonderfully Almighty that he’d better not make her angry or she’ll tell the world what he really is.

My conversation partner speculated that Melania, unlike her predecessors, holds a lot of financial power over the Golden Haired Marvel as well as some other tools that can be used at the moment she decides (not someone else) that enough is enough. [Consider how many photo ops have caught her brushing his anxious, PR-sucking grasp in an effort to give the appearance of domestic bliss.]

To those who have endured domestic abuse and violence, take a lesson from FLOTUS. Figure out where you hold the power and then hold it as a guillotine over your abuser’s head. This advice also applies to those who are enduring abuse at work, school, or even some type of eleemosynary organization.

Say “NO” in as many ways as it can be communicated but with tact, grace, intelligence, and confidence – those things your abuser lacks.

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Terrorism: Domestic and Foreign

Gunman in need of a target.

Gunman in need of a target.

According to the history, this post was started on 2017/08/23. I remember this endeavor. Collecting the links to make the point of how conditions are devolving became overwhelming and I simply abandoned the effort. The hopeful thought was someone else would become cognizant of the issues, motivated by the circumstances, and act upon them before my feeble efforts at screaming “Stop it” were read, let alone heard. That wasn’t the case. Here we are nearly a year later. Here we are with so much more death and devastation.

Youth who are barely over the age of 16 years have become organized. They are speaking out. They have the organization and funding to plan and execute protests not only in Washington, D.C. but across the nation. Their voices are being heard. They are demanding that Congress stop using PAC dollars to maintain the status quo. They are saying ‘our lives matter’ – just as Black lives, and Brown lives, and Yellow lives, and the rest of the spectrum. All lives matter.

Even as I prepared to write a post regarding ethics, my attention was drawn the the number of times I’ve written about assaults in just this space. It was painful to relive those posts. It was even more painful to realize we use these instances as cocktail and coffee hour conversation. We suck our cheeks, cluck our tongues, feel good about the fact that we had a superficial exchange about the latest news, and then return to our normal activities, content with the belief that we’ve done our part for being socially aware and involved.

We have reached a point when it’s time to peaceably take action. It’s time to urge immediate action to preserve our Constitutional values and rights. It’s time to urge Congress to unite in protecting its citizens and population from the looming war that threatens us domestically, in every city nationwide as well as the foreign threat against the nation and the peace and safety we deserve to enjoy.

We should not awake before hearing the news report and wonder whether we are about to suffer a nuclear attack from some foreign country. Nor should we awake wondering when someone in our neighborhood (or even those who have crossed state borders to our neighborhood) who has the intent and armaments to attack and destroy our lives and desecrate our homes has done so. We should not be forced to live in fear for our lives and safety at every turn. Like a person living in a domestic violence setting, this is unhealthy. Anything could prove to be the tipping point that leads to the explosion – and our destruction.

In many ways, we’ve been told how inconsequential we are compared with the gratification of the president’s ego. His grandeur, not the welfare of this nation, is paramount for the attention devoted to sitting in the Oval Office. The power that seat represents is what drives the hourly tweets and inappropriate communication that emanates from the place. Those who serve the man, reflect his principles because he has set the standard and now leads by example.

Since August 11, I’ve been consumed with journalism about the events in Charlottesville, Virginia and posting coverage of not only those events but also related incidents. Enough. Depressing and disturbing as they are, the curated content is posted here.

August 12
Protesters in Charlottesville, VA turned violent as counter protesters reacted. The demonstration, in the early hours of California time, erupted into breaking newsworthy publicity. Three hours later, a car rammed through a crowd of counter protesters. One has been killed.

There was silence from the White House, yet the mayor of Charlottesville decried the situation and the cause of it.

It was FLOTUS who finally spoke out against the violence via a tweet.

It’s now an hour later. There’s been an announcement that of those in the counter protester injuries, one has died. The President (who during his campaign encouraged acts of violence and disorder while promising impunity for such acts) has remained silent.

Another breaking news announcement hit the airwaves a few minutes ago. The President was supposed to finally speak about the Charlottesville situation.

In reality, he had no intention to speak nor do anything about the situation except to do a PR one-minute acknowledgement of it. His first priority was recognition of the VA, which was essentially more his proclamation than addressing the violence and disarray in Virginia.

These protests against removal of the Robert E. Lee statue have been ongoing (at least since May of this year). Today’s activities took the protests to a higher pitch.

In a response to that incident, the observation was made that:
Leader inaction has consequences. You know, they were only following the campaign rhetoric and examples of the President. What’s wrong with that?

Things kept spiraling:
An account of the activities in Charlottesville that takes in many of the perspectives involved. It sounds like the domestic beginning of WWIII.

While China along with both North and South Korea looked on and worried:
In yet other news, China is urging Trump (for the second time since April) to use more restraint in his language and actions toward North Korea. Apparently there have been more than three warnings from China about the bullying stance coming from the new President up to this week.

Meanwhile, back in the States and as the events continued to escalate, I wondered, Is Virginia an open carry state? Apparently Charlottesville is an open carry city. Some of the alt-right protesters are carrying rifles. But we should take note that several days after this “rally,” it was reported that not all of the members of the crowd were Charlottesville residents. Protesters and rally attendees came from as far away as Portland, Oregon and other states in order to raise their voices and create the tumult. Their actions had absolutely nothing to do with rights and interests that pertain to their own homes and property.

August 13:
In sharp contrast to Charlottesville, VA, there were repercussions in Dresden, Germany when an American Tourist Punched For Giving Nazi Salute In Germany on the same day. Where’s the American enforcement of hate crime laws? In fact, it was time to look up the United States definition of “hate crime” as defined by the FBI.

* * *

Enough. I can’t endure this anymore. We cannot afford to endure this anymore. Time for us to join the youth as mentors and co-organizers. These acts of violence are not coming from immigrants; they’re homegrown in a toxic garden that’s being constantly fertilized. Time for all of us to lift our voices in protest to our current circumstances and take affirmative action.

How Many Times?

How many times have I talked about this issue? Here are some representative posts:

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Onset of the Second Year

Let's Make America Great Again

Let’s Make America Great Again

Here it is January 3, 2018 and the beginning of the second year of the 45th U.S. Presidential administration.

The headlines throughout the first brought shock, amazement, outrage, disappointment, fear. They incited resistance by some followed by affirmative action by others who had more power and resources. The defenders of the Reich (oh, I mean regime) did their best to make excuses for the unacceptable or disparage representations of what was blatantly put before a world audience by the model. But the slow progress to our journey into darkness continues.

What are we being told when traditional journalists who broadcast their researched editorial opinions that are negative toward the President find themselves removed from their positions?
Fortunately, the phrase “fake news” is now considered a punch line for satirical monologues and comedy acts. But it appears the new McCarthy Era is going through birthing pains to resume its place in our society.

This morning’s reportage of the schoolyard taunts between the leader of the U.S. and the leader of North Korea about whose button is bigger again makes us wonder how far in the future is the reality of nuclear war because two narcissists want to implicitly compare their genitals via amount of power they have.

The smoke issued from the White House in the form of threats this year (and a type of bombastic display) are numerous. Merely attempting to locate the link regarding the firing of a CBS news anchor revealed this list of related searches:

  • colbert on trump
  • trump threatens media
  • trump threatens venezuela
  • trump threatens paul ryan
  • donald trump threatens pope
  • colbert late show trump
  • trump threatens nuclear war
  • trump threatens north korea

There may be some specter of hope for positive change on the horizon. In the process of confirming which administration is currently in charge of our country, some interesting headlines tumbled into my search results, headlines that urge reflection and consideration. What those headlines suggest is altogether more positive than the negative emotions created in the past. They imply that the time for accountability has arrived. They suggest the time for more assertiveness by the republic has arrived. (Think, “When in the course of events . . .”)

Those research headlines said:

There are probably a lot more that are similar; these were sufficient.

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Conversations About Diversity from the Bench

The Charlie Rose Show from last night aired an October 2016 conversation he had with Justices Ginsberg and Sotomayor. The essential element of their conversation was diversity. As the conversation progressed, they considered the different types of diversity as they have come before the court over time.

getting direction

Getting direction

They looked at how long we have struggled for the acceptance of women and for women to be considered essential to the human social fabric rather than coincidental. Have you ever wondered why women could so easily be excused from jury duty? Think about what that means. Think about how that attitude impacted women’s ability to climb out of subservient roles.

The conversation also looked at the matter of inclusion of LGBT in the diversity formula. It was brief but it was necessary. That part of our current discussions impact so many who now have the right to speak of their choice and not live in the shadows of society. But those who desire to serve their country must still be three times as good in order to prove their half worth, as was true during World War II and even before.

Charlie asked them to consider their roles as contrasted and compared to Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. Their responses were striking, to say the least.

The matter of which type of experience is better for a justice also came up – appellate level, trial court, or state supreme court. It became apparent that being able to see the picture from the trial court level is essential. One important, although subtle, aspect of hearing a case at the Supreme Court level is the fact that the many amicai who are affected by the case at bar and its outcome are allowed to present their voices to the justices. Those voices, as well as the arguments of plaintiff’s and defendant’s counsel, contribute toward the ultimate decision.

And we all had a chuckle when they shared the anecdote about being introduced as the sisters who came to the function.

It’s been a long struggle. No, it’s been a long battle. Notably, they said the difference between the ones who graduate from Ivy League schools and the ones who sit in the button factory is merely one generation. Yet so many stories, so many essays are written about those struggles and that one-generation difference.

And then there are groups that *still* have not achieved that leap past that first generation. They continue to be buried in the past and, as was noted during the conversation, kept in a cage where they are not free to do anything except restrained.

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Teachable Moments: Mother’s Letter to Ivanka

What are the ethical considerations here

What are the ethical considerations here

Ahem. We learned that Ivanka Trump (daughter of billionaire President-elect) flew on a JetBlue plane in Coach class with her husband and children on December 22, 2016. Apparently her mother never had a talk with her about protocol or etiquette. This is definitely a (overdue) teachable moment and a time for some words from Mother. This is a time when an overwrought mother with too much on her plate will be challenged to be tactful and soft spoken so that the bottom line message can be heard. Here we go.

~~~~~

Ivanka, we need to have a conversation. No, you don’t need to do an inventory of the jewelry to be sold on your website. You definitely don’t need anyone else in the room with us. This is a private conversation. You need to listen carefully. You should ask questions. Don’t be like your father and ask questions that will twist things into making it allowable for you to do something similar at a later date. We need to help you grasp some concepts.

First, although your father gained an amazing number of states in order to win the Electoral College vote, he did not win the popular vote. Do you understand what that means, my love? No, it does not mean his message was what the people of the United States believe and want. It means (just as he kept shouting during his campaign) that there was something fishy with the election.

Bless his heart, he hates to be undone. He has to be top dog. He will never admit that there was tomfoolery when it came to affirming him as the choice of the people. My dear, the popular vote shows he was not.

But he has chosen to put himself in the spotlight through his years. He has chosen to be (in fact, he has insisted on being) center stage and refuses to allow anyone else to occupy that space. He has chosen to be a public figure; he insists on it – until it goes against him. Now that he’s been elected, now that he’s been confirmed by the Electoral College, he is more than a public figure. You, and your siblings, need to conduct yourselves as progeny of the incoming President of the United States.

Not only that, my dear, your father is a billionaire. All of us know that. Your salary is far above that of the average person. You are different.

What the hell were you thinking when you and Jared booked that flight from D.C. to New York on a commercial airline IN COACH with the children?

[deep breath]

You have never been one who is part of the general population. You are different, my love. You can afford much more than the mere average American (even though you occasionally try to appeal to them by walking through the crowds with your security team). This should not be a news flash, Ivanka. Your father is not adored by the population. You do not have an esteemed position in the country. You are, at best, tolerated by necessity, nothing more.

Just as that poor man was yelling, you should have taken a private plane. The you and Jared can afford that. It wasn’t a trans-Atlantic flight so there was no major expense. Even that is affordable with your income and allowance. What the hell were you two thinking?

It’s good that you bring up that meeting with the diplomats from Japan. That was quite a stir the two of you raised. No, your father hadn’t been elected. He was still on the campaign trail. Still, it may have been better if Melania (even with her broken English) had been there instead of you. Your being there made it appear that you were assuming the role of First Lady. It made it appear that you were part of diplomatic, confidential negotiations. You don’t even have security clearance!

And then to show off your line of jewelry! I thought you were intelligent! Do you realize the types of ethical concerns that were raised during that flight of fancy? Let me put this in commoner’s vernacular. There were subtle messages of bribery and coercion laced throughout that meeting. There are already rumors (not to mention outright statements) that diplomats and political emissaries feel they must stay at a Trump property when they visit. (Thus, they feel they must line the pockets of the new President. Argh!) The jewelry thing gave the impression that they must purchase your goods. You should have saved the marketing ploy for another place and another venue – or just left it to your marketing team. (Not to mention they’d have been much better at it.)

You haven’t learned about your father’s shouting tirades – yet. Kellyanne has been shielding you from them. She’ll be integral in doing that after the inauguration but one day. One day you’ll do the unacceptable and even those lurid comments about his beautiful, hot daughter will not protect you from the real man that we three wives know.

Use common sense, Ivanka. Being a woman of the people doesn’t mean flying on commercial airlines in coach. Being a woman of the people means doing things that bring you popularity among them because of your benevolence, because of your charisma. And those attributes will flow to you because you are promoting things that are reachable and desired by the average person aiming to reach a better status, not being able to purchase a several thousand-dollar bit of jewelry that only millionaires and billionaires can afford.

Use common sense, Ivanka. And if there is a God in Heaven, encourage your father to do likewise. It’s becoming an embarrassment to acknowledge that I was married to him.

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Challenges of Development

PBS is airing a program called Edge of E18teen that examines the lives of several 17-year-olds and the challenges they face as they mature.

Image of young businessman opening door with lights

Image of young businessman opening door with lights

Their circumstances are diverse. One young man was sent to military school. His grades were slipping; he needed more discipline; he needed to learn about taking on responsibility.

A young Cambodian girl is living with her father. Her mother left the family. There was much divisiveness in the home. The parents had vicious arguments. The mother was having an affair. The girl punishes her mother by not responding to her text messages and refusing to communicate or see her at all.

Another boy is about to graduate from high school. He is a devoted Christian and wants to address the student body at his graduation by telling them about Christ. When that idea is rejected by his school, he proposes to have a graduation party for his entire class (400+) and use that as a platform for telling them about Christ. His mother rejects the idea.

All but one say their relationship with their parents is difficult, that they don’t understand.

Our youth face so many challenges as they mature. Are we doing enough to prepare them for what Life and our societies have in store for them? Preparation also comes down to doing things that involve some degree of training and explanation. Small dollops of autonomy grow into taking on full responsibility for various projects, accompanied by nurturing support to catch them if they fall.

But with parents being challenged with low wages that sometimes require two or more jobs to support a family, and constantly increasing costs of living, we are starting to lose the time necessary to provide the building of responsible, independent lives that are ready for adult life challenges at the age of 21 or 18.

How do we successfully prioritize the overwhelming amounts of responsibilities that face us as we create a worthwhile future for our offspring, our progeny, our future?

How can we leap to the heights of doing the things that are necessary to do even a merely adequate job of nurturing the future generations when there are still so many things we ourselves still need to learn and master. There are so many times when I feel inadequate and regret the lessons that are missing.

It would be so good to have the right answers – or at least clues to which are the more important for the path we endeavor to follow or make. Perhaps that is the clue. Determine what the path is: one to be followed or one to be made. The next step is to find the right mentors to offer guidance while we learn by trying and failing and then trying again in order to succeed while the mentor explains what went wrong if we do not examine the broken pieces on the floor to see where the weak spot was.

And therein may lie some of the answers to nurturing our youth.

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A New Math

It was 1955 when on one day the Second Grade teacher gave a unique lesson to her class. For some of the students, it was a Life lesson. For others, the words were recognizable but the meaning of them was like a foreign language.

Opportunity

Opportunity

Her lecture didn’t come from a textbook. It came from her heart and a desire to feel she had encouraged her young charges to strive for excellence in every aspect of their lives.

It’s difficult to remember when she addressed the fact that her class was comprised of children of color. That fact was conveyed, however, in order for them to understand the importance of the information, especially for them. It was about learning a “new math.” It was about learning how to calculate one’s worth both in reality as well as in terms of how the rest of the world evaluates one’s worth.

Paraphrasing in order to compensate for the passage of time, she counseled, “When you go into the world and are competing against [White people], remember: you need to be three times better in order to be considered half as good.”

In other words, the world as her students interacted with it in any way would find them lacking and unqualified. In order to rise above being shut out of admission to the race for attainment, in order to be accepted and receive the deserved (earned) position, it would be necessary to make certain their skills and abilities were superlative, above reproach, and undeniably three times better than anyone else vying for the same brass ring. She was also telling them to be so overwhelmingly prepared that they could venture into any place and feel confident that they were among the best striving for the same situation. It wasn’t necessary to be embarrassed in any way. The main task was to perform well and thereby bring merit to the work that was done.

Did she tell her novices that in everything they did they were representatives of not only their school and families but also of their racial identity? No. That lesson was for another day and from another teacher. The fact of their ambassadorship was already an unspoken factor in their existence. It was part of why their parents scolded and chided when something about them didn’t measure up to the socially acceptable standard.

It was important to have that lesson in those early years so that it became part of their psyche. It was supposed to become the driving force for those young minds. She wanted all of them to strive to earn more than 90% on each of their tests. She wanted them to absorb all of the knowledge available and then use that knowledge to reach for even greater accomplishments. With that, it would be possible to develop new ideas and techniques. They would be burgeoning founders of many innovations, examples to others of the good work that could be expected of them, as well as those who would be known as “first”s to achieve.

Humility was not part of the lesson that day. Perhaps the talk about humility wasn’t necessary. Perhaps, that also was a lesson for another day and from another teacher. After all, it was a classroom of young coloreds. Being subservient was part of one’s expected deportment no matter where they were. But they were also expected to have dignity, self esteem. Those characteristics did not need apology; they were expected as part of the embodiment of any healthy personality. Dignity, or self esteem, was a quality that came from within and accompanied everything that was done, from the trivial to the grand, and as part of any task that was being performed in any position. Being, even feeling, servile simply was not part of the formula in execution. Being excellent was simply a part of their identity; conversation about it was unnecessary.

That lesson never happened again in any form. There was only one lecture about the new math nor about any related subjects. For some, the lesson was indelible. For others, some of that lesson in foreign language seeped in later comprehension. That was 1955. The landscape has changed. There are more of the coloreds who are allowed to vie for opportunities. A larger percentage of those who dare are not only pushing their way through the door to positions other than in the servile range. The number of those who are of color in leadership positions are no longer the exceptions. We expect them to have all the characteristics that are part of being a leader. If lacking in any of them, the representative is allowed to linger until a suitable replacement is identified and installed. It is a death knell to have less than the best as part of the overall framework.

The Door of Opportunity is now being opened more frequently to those of color. There are times when the formula for that new math is forgotten and the struggle to prevent the Door from closing must begin anew. That’s the danger of forgetting the new math. Now what was that formula again? Let’s see. “3 x 1 = 1/2”. No, it isn’t about inflated ego; it’s actualization of the survival of the fittest in terms of achievement.

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