The Victimhood of Donald Trump

by Christine

This morning I was forwarded an email from a 79-year-old who felt the need to rant about the mistreatment of poor Donald Trump. I will join his or her chorus and rant too. I am 65-year-old who believes the number one problem in America today is hypocrisy. For those who are unfamiliar with the dictionary meaning, I will quote Merriam-Webster here so we will all be on the same page. Hypocrisy-a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not: behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel.

What would be an example of hypocrisy in America? How about for the entire 8 years that Barack Obama was President my inbox was flooded with emails detailing his poor work ethic and callous disregard for the cost to the American people every time he played golf or went on vacation.  Now the same group remains silent as Trump spends more time away from the White House and the work of the people than any President before him while spending an unprecedented amount of money in the process on transportation and security.

How about another example? Bill Clinton was hounded by the Republican Party over his liaison with Monica Lewinsky to the point they conducted impeachment hearings. They knew at the start they didn’t have the votes to remove him from office but the Republican Congressional Representatives and their constituent’s personal morality demanded that Clinton be held accountable.  Where was that outrage when Donald Trump admitted that he sexually assaulted numerous women as he conducted a perverse kind of telemarketing process in finding that one woman who would say yes to his advances? What about the other women who had to fend off the unwanted advances of a man who viewed them as nothing more than a number in his game? Where was the moral outrage that has been used as a weapon against the Democratic Party for decades?

One last example of hypocrisy in America so that you may understand clearly why I have no sympathy for Donald Trump. By his own admission, he ran a campaign like no other in history. He said the vilest things about his Republican opponents in the primaries, he questioned the bravery of American prisoners of war, he used vulgar language when referring to his female Democratic opponent and likened Washington to a swamp calling into question the patriotism and motives of anyone that disagreed with him.

On TV, he called upon the Russians to conduct cyber-attacks on one of our citizens, he hounded a sitting American President for 8 years to “prove he was an American” and he incited violence towards otherwise law abiding citizens. He created the world he now live in. If he finds it difficult to do his job as President then maybe he needs to learn how to be Presidential. That would include learning how the American process works and to be more circumspect in his speech.

But if your real concern as an American is that we give the officials in Washington our support while they do their job then I submit you get behind Special Prosecutor Mueller. As John Kasich said, this is serious and “it is not a time for Republicans to hide and I also don’t think it’s a time for Democrat to exploit.” The time has come to hold accountable individuals who have held our country, its institutions and our very way of life in contempt. It is time to call the victimhood of Donald Trump what it is, hypocrisy. 


Trumpian World

by Christine

The new reality show Trumpian World broadcast episode #009 yesterday. The drama featured #45, homeland security and immigrants fleeing oppression from maniacal foreign governments. The twist to the story is that these weary and hopeful immigrants found themselves seeking refuge in a land that is governed by a reality show performer who was selected as the leader of the richest, most powerful nation in the world by a large minority of fearful and maniacal citizens.

The tension in this new drama built as immigrants in the process of traveling to the United States were whisked off planes at International airports in major US cities only 100s of feet from freedom. They were held hostage for hours as ill-informed Homeland Security officials attempted to interpret the poorly issued Executive Order.

Meanwhile, #45 and Putin were on the phone planning how The Trump Organization and Rosneft PJSC will take over the world’s oil production making them the richest men alive. Trumpian World has all the tension of Kiefer Sutherland’s 24 and a smattering of Mark Ruffalo’s Now You See Me movies.  Lawyers, judges and reasonable citizens spent the day working the legal process to free these unjustly held people. In the end, the real villain is hiding in the shadows, think the Cigarette Smoking Man from The X-Files, recording one another for future release. 

The show is perfect for binge watching!


The Burn It Down Party

by Christine

Burn It Down. Baptism by Fire. Purifying Fire. America needs a cleansing and for a large minority of Americans Donald Trump is the man for the job. He is going to burn down our corrupted federal government and from the ashes a golden Phoenix will arise.  While the same people that put him in office don’t have a vision for society after the fire, they know ‘something’ must be done and #45 will do it.

The country is a disaster and something must be done. The Burn It Down Party sees fire as the only solution and the only people who can operate the flame thrower are the ones who won’t question the wisdom of using the phenomenon of combustion as a political tool. Light, flame and heat will combine to cleanse our country of Obamacare, Muslims, unattractive women and NATO.

The country is a disaster and something must be done. Education has failed to educate everyone but the large minority that elected #45. They are educated, they are wise and they are informed. Betsy DeVos is the answer. An heiress with billions in the bank but no experience in education. The large minority chants, she will be great, she will be great. DeVos believes privatizing public education is the answer but Rep. Thomas Massie from Kentucky believes the Department of Education should cease to exist on December 31, 2018. And they chant, it will be great, it will be great.

The country is a disaster and something must be done. Pundits have declared for years that big money has been a problem in government so the solution is to bring in bigger money. Billionaires with questionable ethics and business practices now head agencies they once railed against. The Department of Energy, The Department of Education and the Office of Government Ethics are under attack from Billionaires who decided a long time ago that societal norms don’t apply to them. In today’s America, Marie Antoinette would get to keep her cake and her head.

The country is a disaster and something must be done. The large minority that elected Donald Trump are tired of hearing that governing is complicated. They don’t want reason, they want action. Deliberation, patience and personal self-control are traits of the weak. The word of the day is action. Ill conceived, yes but act. Damaging, probably but act. We are Americans and we act. The Burn It Down Party is in power and the crowd is chanting it will be great, it will be great.



After The March: What Next?

by Christine

The afterglow is rosy and warm.  We stood up, we marched, we showed we are a force to be reckoned with but the question lingers, now what? This is our chance to move forward with real political change but it will require that we take action on an individual level.

The first step is to know who represents you in Congress. To find that information is easy.  GovTrack, an independent entity, allows you to plug in your zip code and immediately identify your Senators, Representative and Congressional District. From GovTrack pop over to the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives website to find contract information. 

Once you find the contact information for your representatives' add it to your contacts immediately. You don't look up your family and friend's information each time you want to communicate with them. Do the same with your Senators and Representative. Make it easy to reach out on any issue that you feel the need to comment. If you align philosophically with your representative, think of them as friends or if you don't, think of them as your employees but make communicating easy. 

I am writer so I put together a template in Word complete with a heading and a signature. Whenever I feel the need to express my thoughts about an issue, I dash off a letter. If you prefer email or making a phone call, then that technology is also available. The key is to setup your process in advance so that you don't groan each time you think of reaching out. 

Next: Learning the issues



Politics 101 - Where's Walter Cronkite When You Need Him?

by Christine

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty - Proverbs 14:23

I grew up in the time of Huntley & Brinkley and Walter Cronkite. Trusted professionals who worked at the craft of Journalism, a profession that had strict rules and a stricter code of behavior. To stray from the professional code of conduct established by men like Edward R. Murrow was career ending suicide. If you believe polls after the news media's shocking 2016 Presidential misstep, less than 10% of American adults trust the media today. So how did we get from the place where Walter Cronkite, a newsman, was the most trusted man in America to all Media is corrupt and not to be believed? 

In loftier days, the news media, especially print journalism was considered essential to the effective operation of the government. In the United States, the Fourth Estate was respected as a watch dog of government and to many, the Press was as equally as important as the three branches of government. The evolution from trusted to mistrusted started with the failure of the local newspapers. Local newspapers were owned by community members who covered local issues as well as national issues that effected their community. Community members could trust that the local paper was looking out for their interest.

Television and eventually the Internet cut into the advertising dollars resulting in costs outweighing revenue. Printing costs and salaries of full time journalist were no longer feasible. Papers like the Washington Post and the New York Times became national and international niche publications with the Post concentrating on politics and the Times covering finance. 

While the newspapers both locally and nationally were fending off foreign corporate raiders, bankruptcy and declining readership, television news was going through a transition of its own. Twenty-four-hour news channels like CNN and FOX News were built upon recycling news hourly. Traditional news outlets like CBS, NBC and ABC were finding by the time the evening broadcast was ready to begin, their stories were already old news. Television began to rely on personalities to attract viewers, personalities that weren't necessarily impartial or accurate. Personalities that weren't news people at all. Opinion began to creep into news stories. And it was only a short walk over to the Daily Show where funny man Jon Stewart became the main news source for people under 30. (Stewart was actually appalled by that fact.) 

The fate of the impartial news story was sealed on the Internet. Traditional newspapers and television & radio outlets were slow to embrace the Internet. Newspaper people wanted the feel and smell of paper and television and radio had millions invested in infrastructure and couldn't imagine their future on small handheld technology. While traditional news outlets were dragging their feet, anyone with a computer and an opinion became an expert. Special interest groups, bloggers and paid advertisement became staples of Americans as style mavens and Podcasters became the information source of every technically savvy content consumer. On the wild west of the Internet everyone's opinion was equally weighted.

Facebook, once a national virtual public square where friends and neighbors shared pictures and recipes, evolved into a place of angry soapbox speeches littered with inaccuracies and hostile opinions. Friends and family members had angry “shouting matches” on social media that will take years to overcome. We witnessed this behavior in horror, averting our eyes and blaming their mothers.

All this brings us back to November 8, the night the weaknesses and failures of the American news outlets were broadcasted live to millions. The night the Press failed Ameria.  The American mainstream media hadn’t done its job. The news people had been too busy interviewing each other instead of government officials, the public or expert in the field of inquiry. The Media delivered opinion dressed up as fact in a breathless voice. Ivy league alumni talked to one another instead of the people living the event. The news was being delivered by performers. Personalities were interviewing personalities. Journalist aren't performers. The Fourth Estate is lousy with performers and celebrities. 

Sadly, before the election the right had come to believe the Press could not be trusted. After the election, the left joined their ranks. For America to survive, the Press must once again adhere to the tenets of good journalism. They must let go of celebrity anchors, focus groups, demographic studies and hair, dress and makeup stylist. They must stop running Internet cat videos and cover the news. The Press must do the hard work of learning their craft and pursue it doggedly. To help Americans cross the divide that separates our people, the Press must once again become an honest broker. 

But that's not all. Americans must hold the Media to a higher standard. We must question the rightness of a story whether delivered by CNN or our friends on Facebook. We need to listen to the opinions of others with an eye to solutions not to play the "I got you" game. We need to work to be an educated electorate not an opinionated people.  If we don't, I fear the Republic is doomed. 


NEXT: Hillary didn't lose. Trump won. 


Post Script: For the record the irony is not lost on me that I am a blogger lamenting the degrading of the Press by bloggers. 


Politics 101 - The Great Divide

by Christine

Empathy is born out of the old biblical injunction 'Love thy neighbor as thyself.'  - George McGovern

At the onset I declared Footsteps to be a place of exploration and discovery. Together we were going to learn about living an intentional life though personal discovery and group support. I worked to be inclusive and kind. I avoided controversies and subjects that could potentially alienate others. There was enough strife and stress in the world and enough other "good" work to do; I didn't need to add to the discomfort.  

Then November 8 happened. I, like, millions of Americans sat in front of my TV waiting to see the coronation of the first female President of the United State of America. The race had been brutal and I, as so many other Americans, was glad it was over. Only one more thing needed to be done and then the new era could begin. But it didn't happen. Instead of turning blue, the map turned a deep red and everyone from CBS anchor Scott Pelley to Comedian Stephen Colbert struggled to do more than sit in stunned silence before millions of people. 

The next morning those who supported Hillary were silenced by soul searing grief. The Trump supporters quickly came to understand this was not the "business as usual" after election response and they too became silent as they watched their fellow Americans endeavor to make sense of the vote. As Hillary supporter moved into the anger stage of grief, the charges of racism, misogyny and homophobia filled the media. Instead of leaving behind the rhetoric of the Presidential election campaign, fear joined anger in the damaging speech surrounding us. 

Slowly, I started to ask questions. How did we fail to see this train coming down the track?  Was the vote really about prejudice? What next for our deeply divided nation? That is when I realized that I needed to stop talking and listen to the "other side". I made the decision to reach out to folks that I knew were Trump supporters and to listen to any Trump supporter I met in my daily life. So far the action of listening has taken a whole lot of effort to remain silent but it has been revealing and encouraging.

The first person I reached out to was a high school friend. We weren't close in high school and as many people of my generation have done we reconnected on Facebook sharing photos of our grandchildren and household projects. I noticed through our contact on Facebook that she was passionate about fishing and was knowledgeable about the local fishing rules and regulations. I was apprehensive about contacting her because the conflict between Trump and Hillary supporters had played out angrily on my Facebook feed. 

My schoolmate responded warmly and took her time to explain that in Florida they are building deep water ports that are destroying Florida’s ocean reefs and in her area fishermen haven't been able to catch snapper for two years. She questioned why we needed to continue to build bigger and deeper ports in order to import more "junk" from China. She said that not only are the reefs and ocean wildlife being threatened but also Florida's water system. She believes Trump understands the true cost of Globalization and will stop it. 

The next person I spoke to was once a neighbor who had moved away some years ago. She moved from New York to the Mid-West where she completed a degree and became credentialed to work on medical issues with Vets and the elderly. She then relocated to the South where she remarried and is currently working.  Presently she is making ten dollars an hour. Her husband is unable to work and has been fighting to get disability for the last couple of years and won't get a hearing for another eighteen months. When I asked her why she voted for Trump she, too, took the time to answer my question without hostility. They are barely making it and Trump was speaking to her situation. Trump wants to address the lack of jobs and not allow people who shouldn't be in this country particularly criminals to take resources that could be used to help citizens of the United States. 

Both these women have real challenges that have nothing to do with prejudice. I cannot see into their hearts but I do know when I asked and listened I learned of problems I didn't know existed. Prejudice is real but for these women, I don't believe prejudiced caused them to vote for Trump. They are struggling to keep a roof over their head and to protect the people and life they love. They believe that Trump was the only one listening to them and speaking for them.

This is the beginning of my exploration into why the chasm is so great in our Country. I am going to continue to ask and listen. I encourage you to do the same. We must figure out how to solve the problems and challenges that have created the Great Divide.

Next: The Media


Wanderlust & Adventure

by Christine

When you look at photographs like this one, do you wonder what is at the end of the road? I do. As I become consumed with wanderlust, I find joy in exploring what is around the corner or at the end of a canopied country road.

On my travels, moments of whimsy cross my path or I am delighted to find a garden in an inspired location.

It is Monday and I wonder what adventures await me this week? What is around the corner? What awaits you?



Peggy Parish Is Amelia Bedelia

by Christine


"I guess I love mischief as much as Amelia Bedelia. I simply enjoy laughing at life." - Margaret Cecile "Peggy" Parish

I love words. Two of my favorites are arugula and Bok Choy because of the way they roll around in my mouth. When I first read Peggy Parish's book about Amelia Bedelia, I was delighted to follow Amelia as she took a standard phrase and turned it on its ear. When asked to dust the living room, instead of cleaning every surface, Amelia covered the furniture with a fine powder. Ms. Parish wrote of interpreting language literally through the antics of her most beloved character Amelia Bedelia. Because of my love of words and Ms. Parish's whimsical approach to language I believed I would understand who she was with little effort. I was wrong. 

Margaret Cecile "Peggy" Parish was born in Manning, S.C. on July 14, 1927. Ms. Parish was a peer of my mother but unlike my mother and the women of her generation she never married. After graduating from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, she moved first to Oklahoma, then Kentucky and finally to New York City to teach. Through a conversation with Susan Hirschman, a parent of one of her students in New York City and founder of Greenwillow Books, Ms. Parish creates literalist Amelia and becomes a respected author of children's books. As Joe Friday of Dragnet would say, "The facts ma'am, just the facts." But as I venture out on the Pride of Place Tour, I am looking for more. I am looking for how the author's hometown left its imprint on the writer 

I've been able to piece together that Peggy's family was poor with her mother dying when she was young. Ms. Parish said she was a sickly child and that her love of reading and writing developed during that period. As the author stated herself, Manning was a place "where everybody knew everybody" and life centered around church and school. She did not say whether these aspects of Manning's personality were comforting or something else. Both the Parish children received a college education with Stanley, her brother, becoming a physician but there is no mention of who paid for their education. Milestones in Ms. Parish's life are treated, as one would imagine Amelia herself would, literally with no embellishment. 

Amelia "drawing the drapes"


I acknowledge that Ms. Parish was an unusual woman for her time. She embarked on a career in another part of the United States, leaving behind her Southern home to teach and write when other women of her generation aspired to be wives and mothers. She built a lucrative writing career in the publishing capital of the world and left a legacy that still exists today. But the question still begs to be asked. How did Manning, S.C. shape Peggy Parish? Ms. Parish returned to live in Manning before her death at 61. She was not old by our standards and she died from an unexpected ruptured abdominal aneurysm. Her health seemed to be fine so she wasn't returning to Manning so her family could care for her. Had she returned home as a conquering hero or seeking the comforts of family and home? 

While I am not clear on how Manning touched Ms. Parish, I am clear that Ms. Parish touched Manning. The town celebrates her life and work though a statue of Amelia Bedelia in front of the library, hosts a Peggy Parish Literary Festival and continues to compile stories and memories of Peggy. Everyone I talked to in Manning knew her work and her most famous character. Manning is proud to call her theirs.

Today Amelia Bedelia lives on through the efforts of her nephew, Herman Parish. After Ms. Parish passed away, he continued the series. Amelia Bedelia is part of HarperCollins I Can Read Series. If you have a budding reader in your family then Amelia Bedelia may just be the girl for you!