Washington Post political opinion writer Jennifer Rubin is among the best when it comes to writing about the craziness that is today’s politics from a center-right point of view.
Her sensible, reasoned responses to the constant daily upheaval are a pleasure to read, and her Friday afternoon live columns where she answers questions in real time are informative and, again, reasonable.
For example, today she was asked, “What will Republicans learn about the Michigan State University shootings? What if anything can be done?”
Her response: “Vote out Republicans. It is the only way to make meaningful change, such as banning semi-automatic weapons. Republicans are dependent on the support of resentful, angry voters who think they need these weapons if the government ‘comes for them.’ “
She nailed the reasons I’ve heard from Republicans about their reasons for needing a stockpile of weapons at their homes: it’s their defense against the United States government. Paranoia runs rampant on the far-right side of the political aisle.
There are very few I trust and believe anymore when it comes to politics and reporting the facts, and Ms. Rubin is at the top of the list, utilizing the Washington Post byline: “Democracy dies in darkness.”
“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere.
“Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there — fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, and old friends.
“When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge — they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.”
-Hugh Grant as the Prime Minister in 2003 British film “Love Actually”
[Editor’s note: When this was posted in 2015, my stepdad left a comment:“Well, it was all worth all of y’all’s efforts, since we now just sit back, enjoy the company and food, and the always birthday fun with granddaughter Emily who had the good sense to be born always just before, after, or on Thanksgiving day, depending on the year. This year it was ON (11/26), and turning 20 makes her no longer a teenager. Where has the time gone???Thank you both for all the labor, being the ‘hands that prepare’ all the vittles. Keep on experimenting, and we’ll keep on testing, knowing that time-tested ‘traditionals’ are always going to be presented too. YLSF”
“YLSF” was his sign-off in emails that stood for “Your Loving StepFather.” We lost him on April 24, 2020, at the age of 93, to Covid-19. Those empty chairs, he and my mom, are ever-present as we all gather together again this year.]
‘Twas the day before Thanksgiving and all through the house Lots of goodies were cooking (but not the mouse). The pies were all set on the counter to cool While Ma in her apron was a holiday-cooking fool.
That’s my sad attempt at putting a poetic spin on the holiday as I swirl around the house on Thanksgiving Eve.
Like many, I’m in the kitchen today prepping for tomorrow’s big meal with family. My sister Lori and I traditionally take on the cooking and baking, something we both enjoy, as we incorporate old favorites along with the occasional new dish.
We broke tradition three years ago when we roasted a chicken, a new idea that carried over last year and will continue this year. Lori’s cooking the bird along with a spiral ham, and she and her husband Jon are adding their own side dishes including sweet potato casserole. As for me, I make passed-down family favorites from aunts who are no longer with us: macaroni and cheese, and chocolate pies. This year I’ve added a very veggie garden salad and dressing, fresh steamed kale, mashed potatoes, and crustless pecan tart ramekins.
It’s comforting to stay in touch with family and Southern traditions by using familiar recipes. My Aunt Ola made the best baked mac and cheese you’ve ever wrapped your lips around. It’s a lot of cheese and many memories, a reminder of fun family dinners at her house when there were so many of us that we barely fit, and we had a children’s table in the kitchen and a grown-up table in the dining room. I think I was in my 30s before ever graduating from the children’s table which, sadly, meant the grown-ups were growing older and leaving us. There’s many happy memories of those years at the children’s table especially after I had my own children and we were all sitting in there together.
The chocolate pies were always anticipated at holidays from my Aunt Ruth. These aren’t pudding-from-a-box pies. These are — pardon my language — “stir-your-damn-arm-off” real chocolate filling (as it was deemed by my sisters and me because it took forever to thicken and you couldn’t leave it unattended or it would stick to the bottom of the pan and burn) that was poured into a homemade crust. I fudge on the crust — I don’t like making it and really don’t want to spend the time after being at the stove so long stirring — and one year I made phyllo pastry crust for something new and a little — emphasis on “little” — healthier. The pie is a meringue-topped decadent chocolate fantasy so after Aunt Ruth passed away 19 years ago, I carried on the chocolate pie tradition.
That’s what holidays are — traditions carried on by families from generation to generation. My aunts were fantastic cooks from a large family and my sisters and I learned their tricks of the trade. One slice of pie or a serving of macaroni and cheese unlocks special memories, and tomorrow that will be going on all over America.
The food is delicious, the baking is fun, but the best part of Thanksgiving is being with family. Though my father passed away years ago leaving behind daughters who were 13, 20, and 22 at the time, another dad came into our lives when Cal married our mother, and so we are grateful to celebrate with the two of them who are now at the youthful ages of 88 and 89.
To the military members who are stationed around the world and away from their families, a special thanks and prayers for them and their loved ones. We can never repay their dedication, sacrifice, and service to our country which allows us the freedom to celebrate Thanksgiving in a peaceful land.
As I head back to the kitchen to finish food prep, here’s wishing a Happy Thanksgiving with gratitude for our friends … and to those who are traveling for the holiday, be safe out there.
“Once upon a time those older folks were you. They were busy, they had work, they had children, and they were able. Today, they are just in an older body that is not going as fast as it used to and this busy life is confusing. They deserve our utmost respect and consideration. One day it will be you, it will be us. I wish more people cared more about them and acknowledged them for their admirable existence and jeez I hope someday, not that far away, someone does it for me.” -Adele Barbaro- The Real Mumma
I have often admired the Asian community’s respect for their elders. Their place as the head of families is cemented; their lifelong experiences and wisdom and knowledge of family traditions are sought out; the genuine admiration and love that younger generations have for their older population is something not always seen in America.
Driving home yesterday to the Shenandoah Valley from Richmond, there were temporary electronic signs along I-64 west of Charlottesville before the Crozet exit, and again in the Valley at the Fishersville exit, that said simply in large letters: SENIOR ALERT.
I wondered about the older person who was missing somewhere between Charlottesville and Fishersville with the Blue Ridge Mountains in between. That’s such a large area to get lost in, and last night’s temps were dropping into the freezing range. Would he or she be found? Would they spend the night outdoors alone in the cold and dark?
Who would be waiting for them to return? Children? Grandchildren? Great-grandchildren? Spouse? Neighbors? Friends?
I am not immune to being thoughtless in this department. Assisting a struggling seasoned citizen reach a top-shelf item is incredibly helpful to them and to us. Call it paying it forward. Think of all they’ve done for us over the years – parents, grandparents, sports coaches, teachers, church leaders, and all the leadership roles that adults play in our lives – now is our chance to pay it back.
Mentor young people. They keep you sharp. Love on grandkids. They keep you busy. Help pack boxes at a food pantry. It makes you humble and grateful to have enough. Volunteer. It keeps you moving. Tudor children. It shoves around those brain cells. Live!
I’m left wondering about yesterday’s Senior Alert and if the missing person was safely found. It was so cold last night.
Embrace the silver citizens. One day it will be us … if we are fortunate enough.
There’s a narrow gold wedding band I wear on my left hand along with my own. It is my grandmother’s wedding ring that was left to me when she passed away many years ago.
Inside is engraved* my grandparents’ initials and the date of their wedding … August 21, 1904 … 118 years ago.
John Francis Osborne was from Grayson County in southwestern Virginia. Mollie Beatrice Kennedy lived just across the state line, on the other side of the New River, in Allegheny County, N.C.
The two young lovers met at an all-night dance, a tradition during those days in the mountains where young people would meet at someone’s house for a dance party. The social gatherings would last all night because folks lived such long distances from one another, and it was difficult and dangerous to travel through the mountains after dark.
I don’t know how long they courted but my grandmother, whose father was a prominent store keeper and farmer in the Turkey Knob community outside Sparta, NC, consented at some point to become my grandfather’s wife, and moved away from her family. Because John was such a stern man in his older years, I have tried to imagine him as a star-crossed teenager smitten with Mollie.
The marriage license was obtained in Virginia so my grandparents, along with the wedding party, walked to the Virginia-North Carolina state line and were married in the middle of the road, according to one of my late aunts, probably where it crossed the New River. There is no one left to tell us all about that special day.
Did Mollie pick wildflowers along the way to hold during the brief ceremony? Was it a hot, humid mountain day? Or did the clouds roll in and they found themselves dodging thunderstorms? My mother said those types of weddings were common at that time, and certainly a lot cheaper than the opulent occasions that are so popular these days.
As two teenagers beginning life together like generations had before them in those isolated, hard-scrapple mountains, John and Mollie didn’t have money for a fancy wedding. It would be needed for the tough days ahead as they settled into a small cabin on the side of a mountain near an area known as Mouth of Wilson, located in the shadow of Grayson Highlands and Mt. Rogers in the days before those scenic areas became part of the state and national park systems.
Their property was sloped and rocky … the elevation was over 3,500 feet … and to walk it today makes me wonder how they were able to survive in the harsh winters and difficult summers. With only two uninsulated rooms to live in, they began raising their family that would eventually include 10 children. My mother, who passed away two years ago at the age of 90, was the youngest and last surviving of her immediate family.
My grandfather farmed with a mule and plow, piling rocks on the hillside under the trees, and to this day the rocks are still in the same place he piled them over a hundred years ago. For me, to touch those stones is almost to touch him. It was extremely hard manual labor for the tall, lanky man who had a growing family to feed. Below the remnants of the cabin, a small creek still tumbles down the mountain, a source of water during the days they lived in those cramped, sparse conditions.
They were surrounded by family. Our relatives are all through those hills, most staying close as they grew into adulthood, married, and raised families of their own. My grandfather’s parents lived in a log cabin on the Knob, the family place near a mountain top. The hand-hewn logs included two rooms and a fireplace on the ground floor, and one large room upstairs, just a short distance from John and Mollie’s cabin.
Because my grandparents were tough and made their own way, they set a work ethic that continues to this day for those of us who followed. And, as I once again look at the gold band on my ring finger, I think about how it all began 118 years ago when John and Mollie became man and wife.
*My grandmother lost her wedding ring when I was a baby so my mother replaced it and had the initials and date engraved; that would not have been on the original. My grandmother left the ring to me, the oldest of her youngest child’s children.
“I’m so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to devastated families that are out there. I’m tired of excuses. I’m tired of moments of silence. Enough. There’s 50 senators who refuse to vote on HR-8, which is a background check rule that the House passed two years ago.” -Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr (5/24/2022, press conference)
“Most of us are appalled. But not enough of us are sufficiently appalled to cast our votes to halt it.” -David Frum, The Atlantic (5/24/2022)
America is mourning once again because of yet another mass shooting.
This toll from Tuesday’s mass shooting stands at 19 children – 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders – and two teachers slaughtered at an elementary school in Texas. The 18-year-old gunman is dead.
Families in Buffalo, NY, are still burying their loved ones who were killed by another teen shooter who gunned them down in a supermarket 10 days ago because of their skin color. They were parents and grandparents and neighbors. And that shooting had already faded from the headlines.
Are guns that precious to us that we continue to put up with this? Or have we misinterpreted (or purposely abused) the intent of the Second Amendment that was probably never meant to be a free-for-all in the modern world?
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr spoke for many at his pre-game press conference last night as he angrily addressed the shooting that had taken place just hours earlier, and advocated for the passage of a background check gun law that has sat in Congress for two years waiting for a vote.
How many more bodies do we need to sacrifice to the gun gods before sensible gun reform laws are enacted amid the growing number of mass shootings in America? And, no … no one is coming to take away anyone’s guns.
I’m not being hysterical. I’m tired. This goes on and on and on … and nothing happens. We all become outraged for 30 seconds after each shooting incident … and then return to our lives, while those affected by each tragedy are left to deal with shattered lives.
Many of my fellow Republicans think anyone who dares to call for any kind of gun reform is hysterical. You know how children put their fingers in their ears and say, “La-la-la-la-la-la,” when they don’t want to hear something? That’s what the GOP reminds me of every time the issue is raised about actually doing something with gun laws.
I’m a 2A supporter. I grew up with guns, learned how to responsibly handle and shoot them while young, took the NRA gun safety course while attending school in Chesterfield County, and have enjoyed target shooting over the years. My dad was a hunter. I have nothing against reasonable gun ownership. Nothing. But I’m met with anger from Republicans when in discussions about any curtailment of laws. A wall goes up; they don’t want to discuss it, or they present a series of whataboutisms.
In 1999, as part of leadership in the local homeschool group, the most calls I ever received from parents asking how to pull their kids out of public school came when the Columbine High School shooting occurred in Colorado. They were frightened and concerned. I wonder if homeschool leaders are fielding such calls again today. Sadly, Columbine wasn’t the last school shooting.
“When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” -President Joe Biden (5/24/2022)
Republican lawmakers are afraid of the gun lobby and they are afraid of their one-issue gun constituents who would turn on them in a heartbeat and vote them out of office. Two years ago I had a Republican angrily say to me that he would shoot anyone who tried to take his guns. That’s how ingrained this issue is in the GOP.
I’m a mom before I’m a Republican. I’m an American before I’m a Republican. It is time to find our way out of this dark place in America, hopefully in a bipartisan manner. Or we could just wait until the next mass shooting and do this charade all over again.
“Be free, my beautiful mother. Be free.” -Ashley Judd after the death of Naomi Judd
The country music world was rocked Saturday with news that superstar and Grammy award winner Naomi Judd, the mom from the singing duo “The Judds” with daughter Wynonna, had died at the age of 76.
A survivor of Hepatitis C that she contracted early in life through her job as an RN, my first thought was that it had somehow affected her health and was the cause of her death.
But as I read her daughters’ statement, my heart sank.
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory.”
We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness.
I immediately thought, suicide. But surely not … not with Naomi. Not this strong woman who had been a single working mom who raised two daughters on her own, broke into the music industry and sailed to the highest success with daughter Wynonna, and survived Hepatitis C while battling everything else life threw at her.
What I didn’t know was that she had been battling depression for years.
Her death was one day before she and Wynonna were to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. They also had plans to take The Judds back on the road in September.
Daughter Ashley, in her public remarks at Sunday’s induction ceremony, lamented through tears that she was sad her mother couldn’t hang on one more day.
The timing of suicide is theirs alone.
I remember hearing Joan Rivers talk years ago about the suicide of her husband Edgar who, if I remember correctly, was packing his suitcase and told her he was going on a business trip. Only he didn’t go on a business trip. He went to a hotel where he downed pills to end his life.
It hits all facets of life. Locally, a forty-something friend’s twin sister committed suicide more than 20 years ago when they were 15 years old.
More recently, a political friend who had been instrumental in volunteering at the local GOP headquarters and serving as precinct captain committed suicide in 2015, likely because cancer had returned.
A year ago, a twenty-something young man who had volunteered at local GOP headquarters as a kid with his older sister during the George W. Bush years was lost to mental illness.
Many other families have also been touched by suicide. Including my own.
Over a decade ago, as I was blindsided at being falsely accused by a leader in the Sixth Congressional Republican Committee of something that never happened (and was later exonerated after the intended anguish and loss of reputation had been accomplished), my brother-in-law committed suicide in RVA.
My husband’s brother. The funny one who was always cracking jokes.
Interesting how the funny ones are often those most in pain but silent about it to the world. Robin Williams comes to mind.
We never had a clue.*
So I missed a Sixth District meeting (which inflamed the accusations since I wasn’t there to defend myself) because my family had a funeral to attend and a broken family to embrace.
But politics marched on….
With all the political turmoil going on at the time, I’ve never completely processed that suicide. And I’ve never talked about it.
Just be kind. You have no idea what is going on with people you attend church with or work with or volunteer with or see every day. Who knows … you could be their lifeline.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text Crisis Text Line at 741741.
The news out of Ukraine becomes grimmer by the day as Russian missiles pound cities and towns. Kyiv. Kharkiv. Odessa. Dnipro. Mariupol. Donestk. Kherson. Mykolaiv. Voznesensk.
We are now on Day 24 of war. Or is it Day 25? A little over three weeks ago Ukrainians were still living their normal lives – work, school, church, soccer, ballet, opera.
As the bombs drop, casualties grow. There is widespread destruction with some areas facing mass graves, no food, no water, no heat at a time when temps are sub-freezing (some sub-zero) with snow. The toll on Ukrainian civilians is growing into the thousands. Among the casualties are children.
Each day brings more video – injured children, dying children, dead children, and children buried in mass graves. The number of deaths and injuries of the most innocent in all of this is increasing. News coverage shows heartbreaking images of mourning parents, grandparents, doctors.
In Kyiv, rows of empty baby carriages were lined up in a town square to signify the dead children. Addressing members of the U.S. Congress Wednesday, President Zelensky noted sadly, “Now I’m almost 45 years old. Today my age stopped when the heart of more than 100 children stopped beating. I see no sense in life if it cannot stop the deaths.”
At some point my mind flashed back to the 1980s and the first line in the video, “We Are the World,” a vehicle used to raise money to feed the hungry in Africa: “We are the world, we are the children.”
At Clarksville Elementary School in Indiana, students recorded the tune last year and it now seems very appropriate at this time of war as the world nervously watches Russian forces bomb the hell out of Ukraine, killing innocent victims – young and old, alike.
Sit back for five minutes and listen to these talented kids because, as the saying goes, from the mouths of babes….
Famine in Africa, war in Ukraine … Americans have always been generous, and it’s going to be a long haul during this latest assault on civility and peace.
Listening to the students at Clarksville Elementary sent me down memory lane so I then pulled up the original “We Are the World” video with the original cast of top vocalists from 1985.
Go ahead … take a listen and see how many of these artists you remember.
Just as the musicians raised over $100 million for the African famine, today Ukraine needs our help. My husband and I have been making donations to World Central Kitchen because we like the way they are first on the ground for disasters and the way they work with local resources wherever they are for whatever disaster. WKC are in numerous locations around Ukraine and neighboring areas as well as delivering meals and food into the country where it’s needed including Kyiv, Kharkiv, and today they were sending food to Odessa.
There’s also the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, and many religious organizations helping Ukraine.
While we’re at it, that brings to mind a song from the 1960s, that violent decade that the 2020s appear to be trying to emulate….
And from 1971 as the world escaped from the 1960s and hoped for peace and love comes “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)”….
Which of course reminded of Hands Across America.
On May 25, 1986, for 15 minutes at 3:00pm, Americans from the Atlantic to the Pacific formed a human chair, hand to hand, for “Hands Across America” – a plea for us to come together as a country, and to raise money to help in the battle for domestic hunger and the homeless – that was joined by President and Mrs. Reagan at the White House.
My husband and I traveled from RVA to our appointed location in northwest Washington, D.C., standing in front of Vice President George H.W. Bush’s residence on Massachusetts Avenue and clasping hands with hundreds along Embassy Row. My sisters, living in Colorado, joined the human chain in the middle of the country. The journalist sister covered it from Tucumcari, N.M., for the Washington Post, describing the efforts in sparse populations of the country to keep the chain unbroken.
At 3pm EST everyone across the land “We Are the World,”“Hands Across America,” and ended with “America the Beautiful.”
America. Generous with all we have, and willing to share with the world and those less fortunate. There is yet anothe wave of that generosity we’ve seen throughout the years going on now as Ukraine continues to suffer death and destruction, both from the U.S. government and from U.S. citizens.
Sadly, we seem to be slipping backward and repeating history that some have already lived through. Where is the off exit to repeating the 1960s….?
Former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush (R) and Bill Clinton (D) visited Sts.Voloymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ukrainian village in Chicago on Friday, March 18, 2022. Bipartisan … working together … leaders. This is America.
“If we all do one random act of kindness daily, we might just set the world in the right direction” -Martin Kornfeld
Today is National Random Acts of Kindness Day. I suspect many do little acts of kindness all the time.
I’ve heard of numerous people who have picked up the check for someone in a restaurant – often a military person in uniform, pay at a toll booth for the vehicle behind you, pay at an event venue for those behind (we once had someone pay for our entry to Tweetsie Railroad at Halloween when my kids were little) …
… giving way more tip with meals and services is another way, take someone’s grocery cart back with your own, paying for the Starbucks customer behind you …
… let someone behind you in line go ahead of you, stop by a small business and pick up an item or two, pass along coupons that weren’t used to someone just starting to shop …
… pay for that young person’s pizza, help by reaching an item on the top shelf, pick up an item someone with full arms has dropped, hold the door for a mom with littles or pushing a stroller … and perhaps one of the easiest of all: smile. It’s amazing how a smile can brighten someone who is feeling down.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” -Aesop
Another Republican has criticized Donald J. Trump and, in the process, expressed his support for Rep. Liz Cheney.
Republican Wyoming Rep. Landon Brown said Saturday that former President Donald Trump has “hijacked” the GOP and that he is “unfit” to serve in office for a second term.
Speaking on CNN, Brown added that the Republican Party is currently being run by a “fringe” group of far-right conservatives. He also issued his support for fellow Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who was recently censured for serving on a House committee tasked with investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol building.
“I think what’s happened here at this point is we’ve seen a fringe group that is on the far right of our party, has taken over our party, and they are the ones that are pushing this narrative. They’ve been working behind the scenes to come out and come against Liz Cheney since day one with her support of this January 6th panel,” Brown said.
“The Republican Party had the opportunity to stand behind her and they left that, and unfortunately that shows too many people across this country that Trump has hijacked the Republican Party,” he added.
The lawmaker is the only Wyoming House Republican who has publicly issued support for Cheney amid an ongoing divide within the GOP. Last week, the Republican National Committee (RNC) voted to censure both Cheney and Illinois Republican Adam Kinzinger for their involvement in investigating the January 6 insurrection, as well as for their criticisms against Trump.
Republicans are walking a tightrope during the Trump era but after last weekend’s RNC censure of Rep. Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, more have stepped up to criticize the former president (see my post RNC: ‘1/6 Was Legitimate Political Discourse’). Whether it’s a watershed moment remains to be seen.
“… for God’s sake, think of the bigger picture here. Get outside yourself and think about those you work with. Think about those around you. Think about just keeping them safe,” he said.
Cavuto, who started with Fox at the beginning and hosts Your World With Neil Cavuto, has faced serious health issues over the years – cancer in the 1980s, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1997, and heart surgery in 2016. Now he has tested positive for Covid-19 as has his wife.
Fully vaccinated, he noted that half the break-through cases are those who are immunocompromised, as he is, and urged others to get the vaccine for themselves and for those around them.
“In the end,” he noted, “if you can get vaccinated and think of someone else and think of what that could mean to them and their survivability from this, we’d all be better off.”
Trixie! We worked together in Virginia politics for years so it’s a great pleasure to remember her on her special day – October 27. Please join us in sending her birthday wishes!
Here’s a sample of the hundreds of photos I took of her over the years – activist, campaign worker, 6th Congressional District Republican Committee Chairman, State Central Committee members, 6th District Committee member, longtime magisterial district chair, Director for Americans for Prosperity, candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates …
… mom to Amy and Marcus … and Olivia, Katy Rae, Colin, and Little Mac, and the new one whose French name I cannot remember … and wife of Dan who has supported her endeavors, travels, and everything else that goes with an outgoing wife!
Thanks for ALL the memories and hard work, GOP Girl. Happy birthday, Trixie!