Thursday, December 24, 2020

A Look Back at 2020 in Rhyme

The year 2020 was crafty as it started off like any other typical year in our lives
But it did not take long to realize that these twelve months would bring challenges super-sized
On March 3, a deadly tornado blew through our town and left destruction in its wake
With schools and homes ruined, we cleaned and cooked and cried for our neighbors' sake
What we didn't know then was that the kids' school year actually had come to a close
Because COVID arrived on the heels of that storm and ventures outside just suddenly froze
There would be no sendoff for Ian and his friends as they ended elementary school days
And the same held true for his sister as she now was done walking middle school hallways
We all learned new lingo like "quarantine" and "socially distanced" and "hydrochloroquine"
Games were played and bike rides were taken and organizing was done on every storage bin
I learned to answer my office phone through my laptop and held many meetings on Zoom
As I wore my sweats and slippers every day and drafted legal filings in my living room
Summer looked different as we continued at home still sharing the same space nearly 24/7
But it also brought celebrations of Cat making the school softball team and Ian turning eleven
August meant a delayed school year and the introduction of the "hybrid learning" look
Now my kids go to school twice a week and on other days stare at a Google chrome book
We did decide in October to drive to Maryland and see my parents for the first time in a year
Everyone stayed in the yard with masks and distance but still plenty of comfort in being near
In November we held a presidential election because no pandemic can stop us from voting
But I'm not going to write any more about that
This year has created an even greater appreciation for those who make our nation run
From nurses to postal workers and truck drivers to grocery clerks, I'm grateful for every one
I also am thankful for those who have loved one another so well in this difficult season
By wearing masks, supporting small businesses, or calling to say hello for no particular reason
All of us have experienced sadness and loss but we hope you also had some joyous times
We wish you Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a 2021 that brings many happy rhymes

We love you and hope you are healthy and well!
Sarah, Catherine, and Ian Moore

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Greatest Threat to Our Republic

You might think that the greatest threat facing the strength and future of our Republic is China or Russia or maybe Iran. Perhaps it's not a country at all but instead a terrorist organization. These are all reasonable guesses, I suppose. But they are all wrong. As the cop tells Carol Kane in the opening scene of When a Stranger Calls, a movie I certainly should not have been allowed to watch with a babysitter when I was six years old, the call is "coming from inside the house." 

When still a young man in 1838, Abraham Lincoln said the following, "At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be its author and finisher. As a nation of freeman, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."

Today, those who are continuing to peddle the misinformation that President Trump had this election stolen from him and that the very foundations of our democratic voting process cannot be trusted are the ones providing the cyanide tablets to America. We cannot survive if half of our electorate believes we have an illegitimate president. Our nation will die by its own hands.

There are two kinds of people who are promoting this false theory. First, there are the elected officials (Rubio, Blackburn, Paul, Pence, Cruz - the list is embarrassingly long) who know what they are selling is not true but who must speak it loudly in public to save their own political lives. They do not want to become a subject of one of our President's Twitter rants and suddenly find themselves facing a primary challenge from a Trump sycophant. In other words, they are willing to sell their souls to stay in office. It's gross. While not elected officials (yet), I include pundits like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity on this list. Coddling Trump's tantrums and appeasing his lies makes for good ratings from the devoted.

The second group is those who have fallen victim to the avalanche of false information that comes storming at all of us through social media and local conservative radio. It takes only hours for absurd YouTube videos or lengthy Facebook rants that have no moorings in reality to be shared hundreds of thousands of times. The truth is, and I admit this is a problem on my part, I wake up in the morning upset about it and I think about it as a walk my dogs or commute to work (when I was actually commuting to work). What is happening - or not happening - in our high school government classes? Where is the critical eye to look at a piece of information and question its veracity? It makes me sad. Every day. How do people living in the same country come to view events through such radically different lenses?

One of the most common refrains you will hear from the conspiracy theorists is they just want every legal vote counted. They want to make sure the election was free and fair. If they can be convinced of this, only then will they accept the notion of a President Biden. But they are being disingenuous. The lawsuit that Texas brought against Pennsylvania (and that was summarily punted by the Supreme Court) and other efforts that are being retweeted by Trump as recently as yesterday focus on the fact that the swing states won by Biden changed election procedures right before voting began. This is true. But what also is true is that more than twenty states changed election procedures at the last minute due to the pandemic. These states include Texas and Oklahoma and North Carolina and Montana. If you claim to be bothered by changes to how we vote, but only claim it selectively when your guy didn't win, then your cries ring hollow. If you are a "patriot" who wants to sue Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, make sure you add Texas and Montana as defendants as well. If you are a Republican congressman who just won reelection in Georgia, you should refuse to take your seat next month because it's so clear that the voting in your state was unfair. 

Every other claim - from the large trucks moving ballots across states to the assertion that ballots were tossed in still undisclosed rivers to poll workers changing votes in the middle of the night - has been shot down as nonsense. Every recount done at the taxpayers' expenses or at Trump's expense (which is really at the expense of Trump supporters as he continues to raise money for his legal challenges) has resulted in further affirmation that President-elect Biden won both the popular vote and the electoral college. Were there isolated instances of people voting when or where they shouldn't or a ballot not being processed correctly? Sure. Happens every election. But there is no substantiated evidence that President-elect Biden stole the election. None. There were no large-scale and coordinated shenanigans. 

Here's the thing. Just because you don't like a man or his policies, it doesn't mean he cheated. It just means more people liked what he was offering more than what the other guy was selling. I wasn't happy when Trump won in 2016. Heck, I wasn't happy when Obama won before that. Didn't vote for either of them. But I admit in both instances that millions of other people did. 

You aren't excited about a Biden administration? You want the policies promoted by Trump to continue? Fine! Stay active in the causes that are important to you. Make sure your elected officials hear your voice. We live in a free country and all of us should take advantage of that to speak up loudly and often. But there is a difference between disagreeing on policy and trashing without merit but based solely on heated emotion the entire system within which the policies are created. 

In a study just released today, Vanderbilt University found that only 15% of registered Republicans in the state of Tennessee believe Joe Biden to the legitimate victor in last month's election. Across the country, a strong majority of Trump supporters (who I must clarify are not necessarily the same as Republicans) feel the same. Many still believe Trump will be inaugurated for a second term in January. Many never will accept Biden as the president.

How does a republic survive in these conditions? How do we function as the United States when millions of people believe their fellow countrymen rigged an election? How do we move ahead as a nation when leaders in some states are calling for secession? I don't know. Right now, it looks bleak. We are going to need talented and thoughtful and respectful men and women from across the political spectrum to step up and lead by example in how they talk with one another and work with one another. We are going to need to demand better from ourselves and from others and not just accept information that fits what we want to believe. We need, somehow, to stop making our political system an us versus them blood sport. 

Our nation is in danger and I'm convinced that how we proceed over the next next decade will determine its fate. Biden isn't our answer. Neither is Trump. They can't repair the trust in our country that has been broken. But I hope collectively that we can. Somehow. Bit by bit.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Tips for Survival in Trump's Second Term

Through voter suppression and/or preemptive court challenges before all of the ballots are counted, Trump may find a way to a second term. While I certainly hope this does not happen, I believe in being prepared for all possibilities and, therefore, I have been trying out a few things that should help me get through the next four years of a continued Trump administration. I thought I would share them with you in case you are wondering what might be required of you. If you have any tips to share, I would love to know yours as well. Hope none of this will be necessary, but we will get through this time together if it happens.

1. I burned a copy of the Constitution in the fire pit in my backyard. In retrospect, I should have done this in my front yard. You want as many people as possible seeing you do things that will make Trump happy. Because word gets around.

2. While out for a walk in the neighborhood with my teenage daughter yesterday, some boy who goes to school with her came up to her and said, "You have such a fine ass! Your breasts could be a little bigger. I'd still go out with you, though." And then he kissed her without warning. I high-fived him and laughed. My daughter looked at me with tears in her eyes and I told her as I shrugged, "Hey, it's just the way guys are. Try not to let it bother you. Besides, he might be your boss someday. Don't make him mad."

3. There are four immigrant families who live at the end of my street, including eleven children. This morning, a four-year-old boy from one of those homes approached my driveway on his tricycle. I screamed at him that he's an anchor baby and I wished his parents would leave. Then, I called ICE on the whole group of them. I mean, I'm pretty sure they all are here legally, but it's good to check just in case.

4. I went on my Google and YouTube TV settings and blocked all "news" websites except for OAN and Breitbart as well as all "news" programs except for Hannity and Tucker Carlson on FOX News. I was told that even the rest of the hosts on FOX News have become crazy and dangerous liberals so to be careful and avoid their lies. I set up alerts to know every time Trump is holding a press conference or rally so that I could gather the kids and watch. I also blocked all NFL games. 

5. I knocked on the door of my neighbor with the huge Trump flag. His kids once made fun of my son because his dad doesn't live with him and must not love him and they told him he that we are poor because our house isn't as big as theirs. When this first happened a couple of years ago, I got mad at my neighbor and told him I didn't appreciate the way his kids were acting. Well, now it was my turn to apologize. I told him that my son shouldn't have been such a snowflake back then when he came in the house crying and that his kids only were speaking the truth. Then I asked him where I could get one of those cool flags.

6. I've been meaning to get a new back porch built for a while now. When I heard that Trump just lifted restrictions on the Tongass national forest in Alaska, which is the largest intact temperate rain forest in the world and home to the largest known concentration of bald eagles, despite overwhelming objections from every native tribe and city council in the area, I called my local decking company and asked them to make sure to get the wood from that place! I want to show my support for Trump's permanent destruction of the environment for the sake of a few jobs.

7. My son told me one of my friends at school tested positive for Covid. I invited this kid over and then crammed him and every other kid on our block into our guest bathroom and shut the door. I made them all stay in there for a half hour. I told them I wanted to help out with the herd immunity (or "herd mentality" as Trump calls it) and that they probably would get the virus but be just fine. As they left, I told them to make sure to hug and kiss their grandparents a lot over the next couple of weeks so that they could get immune, too. I only wish my parents didn't live so far away because I would have put them in that bathroom as well. 

8. While my son was playing Madden last week, I heard him tell a friend, "I can't stand Trump. Biden better win the election." I yanked those headphones off his head and shut down his PlayStation. I told him he is NEVER to talk badly about Trump again. He doesn't know where his friends' loyalties lie and he could get in big trouble if the wrong person finds out he doesn't like Trump.

9. As we were driving home from church last Sunday, the kids and I saw a black man with a sign asking for money. My daughter asked if we could give him some cash or buy him a meal. I reminded her that the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner said recently that black people have all they need for success under a Trump administration but just don't want success badly enough. So, it's that guy's fault for being hungry. 

10. My son cut himself pretty badly on his leg while jumping on slippery rocks in a creek near our home. Over the next couple of days, the cut got worse and the skin around it turned a worrisome dark red color. He developed a fever. I asked my son if he had had sex dreams about aliens recently, because I remembered that one of Trump's touted doctors said such a thing often caused medical problems. When he promised me that he had not had any such dreams, I took him to an ophthalmologist. It still doesn't look any better and now he's really lethargic, but I'm sure he will be fine. 

Hope you find these suggestions helpful and that you are able to use them in your own lives! Remember - be careful and be quiet if Trump wins. Don't draw attention to yourself. Don't question.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Come a Little Closer and Cough in My General Direction because the Virus is All a Hoax!

I've been frustrated that people have been hoarding basic supplies like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. I've been worried that my children will forget how to function in an educational environment, as, thanks to a tornado and then spring break and now the corona virus, they have not been in school since March 2 and I do not foresee them returning anytime soon.

But in the past couple of days, what really has disturbed me has been those who have been perpetrating the notion that this pandemic is a creation of the media and the liberals in order to destroy the Trump presidency. The "impeachment hoax" did not work, so now the "fake news" media and the Democrats have to whip everyone into a panic and create fear and collapse the economy. People believe the anchors of CNN are cheering for death and financial turmoil as these things supposedly help their political cause. I have seen these notions posted by multiple people on social media and opinion websites, including by more than one health care provider! Yikes.

Does the media like to build up the hysteria and the call for fear? Of course they do. Are some members of the press biased against Trump? Yup. But, the 24-hour cable networks pedal fear regardless of who is sitting in the Oval Office. Fear gets ratings. Big maps showing how many people are sick in each state demand attention. I guarantee you the corona virus would get the same prime-time attention from Anderson Cooper or Rachel Maddow if this crisis had unfolded during the Obama administration. (Yes, I know, I know - Obama was responsible for thousands of people dying from swine flu in 2009 and no one cared. It's just that a study of disease statistics and of his response efforts prove that claim to be false. And let's not forget how the media led every newscast with - EBOLA!! EBOLA!! and Obama was president then.)

Besides, are we to believe that Nancy Pelosi convinced Italy to quarantine half the country and France and Spain to shut down their museums and bars? Man, she really is powerful! Do we really think the commissioners in college basketball or the owners of professional sports franchises would sacrifice the billions of dollars that are being lost just to make President Trump look bad?

It's an absurd theory and, even worse, it's dangerous. People who want to believe this is all a conspiracy against our dear leader are not taking the threat of this virus seriously and they are putting themselves and others in harm's way. To assert we don't need Lysol but instead need our guns to protect ourselves from the socialists who are using this killer virus to control us? Stop.

However, while not a big hoax planted by the mainstream media, the truth is the corona virus pandemic that hit our shores and quickly spread has revealed President Trump's complete inability to lead and to communicate. Just a couple of weeks ago, he indicated that we had only fifteen cases in our country and the number soon would be zero because he was doing such a fantastic job - a much better job than all those other stupid countries. Whoops. Earlier this week at a press conference, he actually said that he takes "no responsibility at all" for the delay in testing availability. Top characteristic of every good leader? Passing the buck. When he claimed not to be aware of the fact that he disbanded the pandemic team in the federal government a couple of years ago, he told the female journalist who asked him about it that she posed a "nasty question." And then later that day, Trump tweeted about the huge jump in the stock market and stated that he should give press conferences from the Rose Garden five times a day because he is so awesome for the economy. Of course, the big jump was just a rebound after the most dramatic drop in more than thirty years, but let's not worry about the details. And did you see those six-hour waits at the airport today for Americans waiting to be screened upon their return from Europe? That's one big human petri dish. The administration should be proud of that one. It's all been handled so well.

Every word that has come out of Trump's mouth has been to take credit for anything that has gone right (not much) and to assign blame to others for all that has gone wrong. (Thanks, Obama . . . am I right?!) He has treated the containment of this pandemic like a competition, bragging when we have fewer deaths than another country. Or trying to poach German scientists from their country to get their work on a vaccine for ourselves. Or, sometimes, he just lies. Like when he said anyone who wants a test can get a test. Or when he blamed the Democrats' love for "open borders" for the virus entering our country. And I think those lies are just borne out of laziness and a lack of interest in learning anymore about this virus that has gripped our entire globe. I think it bores him and he wishes he just could get back to his rallies. Those are fun and people cheer for him there.

The truth is that COVID-19 is real. The need to practice social distancing and rigorous hygiene is real. The assertion that many more will be infected and die in our country before this peak passes is real. And, the lack of any sound leadership coming from the White House is real. We must rely on state and local leaders, many of whom have stepped into the vacuum of responsibility left by our president, to make the best decisions they can within the confines of their power. We must rely on one another to look out for the most vulnerable, to help the local businesses and workers who are hurting in any way we can do so safely, and to take the individual steps needed not to be a health threat to others.

I feel sorry for the people who think this current threat is a fake one. I really do. It must be difficult to live in a world in which you believe powerful forces are conspiring every day against you and your way of life. But I feel even more sorry for the people they will harm as a result of their misguided blame.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

United States of America (1776 - 2020)

The United States passed away on August 27, 2020, following the official nomination of Donald J. Trump by the Republican National Convention for a second term as president. The death came following a prolonged illness that that took a grim turn on July 16, 2020 upon the nomination of Bernie Sanders to be the presidential candidate put forth by the Democrats. It is believed that the compounding effects of both of these tragic events left the republic without a will to live.

The United States was born on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, PA to parents Father Liberty and Mother Equality. It was considered a grand experiment - one in which people of all nationalities and religions and races could participate. In fact, for a time, the United States even earned the nickname "Melting Pot" for the unique way in which its freedoms and opportunities called to people from all walks of life. It will be remembered in history for this characteristic - one that is shared by no other nation.

There is no doubt that the United States experienced some failures and setbacks in its 244 years. In its founding documents, white men who owned land were the only ones who were granted important rights of United States citizenship, like voting and working for pay and generally being treated like a human being (this is, for some, when America was "great" . . . they are wrong about that). But through its growing pains were borne corrections that rightfully moved to offer the promises in the Declaration of Independence to all who lived there. The nation fought difficult internal wars, from  the battlefield and the courtroom to the classroom and the living room, to secure this progress.

Throughout these struggles, the fundamental truths that made the United States worth the pain of fighting for an ever "more perfect Union" were that all people are created equal, that all people are worthy of care and human dignity, and that one's religion or skin color or bank account would not define the success and happiness they should be able to experience.

Before the illness that ultimately took its life, there were other times that the United States seemed on the precipice of death. The Civil War almost ruined her. The Great Depression made people wonder if prosperity was still to be found there. The 1960s made those in the United States question her soul. But in each of those instances, there was a leader, or leaders, who clung to what the United States was meant to be and led everyone out of those grave conditions. With the sickness that took her life this year, there was no leader to be found.

The United States watched helplessly as events of this year took a terminal toll on her health. A quarter of her people supported a man who rose to power by playing on the fears of people who did not want to share the promise of the country and who were scared of change, ignored the Constitution and took on executive might that the United States' founders had been intent on avoiding, silenced all critics even though progress in this country had been made largely from dissent and debate, and treated other people in a way that sullied her beautiful flag by association.

Another quarter of her people supported a man who cried out for Mother Equality but did not care for Father Liberty all that much, when both parents had provided essential components that had kept the United States successful and the envy of other nations for generations. He believed in a philosophy that ran counter to promoting ingenuity and hard work and that in practice only had resulted in great poverty and oppression. He spoke of the virtues of regimes that had harmed and taunted the United States for decades, including those who captured and killed some of her people. He had a personality that was no more inspiring than that of his opponent.

Both men lacked respect for the ideals of the United States and for its people. Both men were two sides of the same power-hungry, ego-driven coin. Neither one would be able to lead the United States to any real greatness.

And, perhaps the truth that finally drained the life out of the United States . . . once all of those supporters of both men had been counted, the remaining half of the people just didn't care at all.

The United States leaves behind so many amazing offspring. They include civil rights leaders and inventors. Architects and writers. Jazz and barbeque. National parks and skyscrapers. Churches and mosques. It is buried with scars from more than two hundred years of fighting to be better and learning from its mistakes. It is buried with The Federalist Papers and the Constitution and the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address and the text of the 19th Amendment and a poem by Emma Lazarus that held up the Statue of Liberty and the speech made by a King on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. 

In lieu of flowers, those who loved the United States ask that mourners promise to tell their children and grandchildren about the great republic that once brought hope and served as a beacon of light to millions across the globe. They also ask that you engage in acts of kindness among your neighbors and greater community, as we must learn to move ahead together in whatever this land now has become. Maybe we can make an effort to know one another as individuals instead of assigning labels based on differences and isolating ourselves. When we get past the fear that has taken such a deadly grip within the borders of our late nation . . . that has divided us with such hatred . . . and realize we are better and stronger together, the United States just might have a fighting chance to be born again. Someday.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Decades Old Dating Advice

I have not started dating someone new since the waning days of Clinton's second term, which is when I met my ex-husband. I was with him throughout George W. Bush's presidency and we got divorced shortly after President Obama was inaugurated (thanks, Obama). I've been single since then. So, the reality is I don't really have much experience dating in the new millennium.

The mid- to late-90s, however? Now those were some prime dating years. I was out of school and I had a job and I had some fun roommates who also were enjoying being twenty-somethings. Sure, there were a few unpleasant dating experiences. Like with the guy who, when the check arrived at the end of a nice meal, said, "You can pay me now or you can pay later, if you know what I mean." I did know, and I gave him cash for my part of the meal and went home. Or the gentleman who yelled at the very pregnant woman struggling to get out of a taxi in front of us to "hurry the f**k up!" because we were running late for our dinner reservations in Georgetown.

But overall, the 1990s offered lots of fun dates and memories. If you are interested in pursuing some romance throwback-style this Valentine's Day, please allow me offer a few dating tips straight from the final years of the last century!

1. Make sure you live with people who can be trusted to take accurate messages when someone calls on the one home phone line you all share.

2. On a related note, if you move to a new apartment and the phone company hasn't hooked you up yet, stock up on quarters for when you walk to the town center several blocks away to call your boyfriend on a payphone.

3. If you decide to go to Blockbuster to check out a video to watch together, may I suggest the Melissa Joan Hart vehicle Drive Me Crazy (that includes a catchy number by Britney Spears)? It doesn't require strict attention to detail if you end up getting lost in conversation. Or whatever.

4. On a related note, if a date tells you that his favorite movie ever is Dumb and Dumber and he has seen it dozens of times, be wary.

5. On another related note, calling the movie theater to find out showtimes is going to be a lot faster than waiting for the dial-up to connect on your computer. And your local theater may not even have a website yet anyway.

6. Be prepared to dance to The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Big Pun, and Beck. Special shout out to you if you figure out how to move gracefully to Beck.

7. Since no one really has cell phones yet and therefore you cannot plan for a friend to call or text at a certain time in case you need a bailout, have another plan ready. Perhaps something like, "I've got to go. I almost forgot that I promised to record Friends for my roommate tonight."

8. Depending on your mood and intended destination, proper hype music as you get ready for a date should come from Destiny's Child, Blink-182, or K-Ci & JoJo.

9. On a related note, when someone breaks up with you while "Truly Madly Deeply" by Savage Garden is playing on the car radio, please take a deep breath and trust that in a few years you won't even remember the guy's last name. (OK, you will. But it won't matter.)

10. If the person you are dating does not understand that you cannot go out that night because you have plans with friends to watch the series finale of Beverly Hills 90210 and David and Donna finally are getting married, you just need to move on from him.

11. What to wear? A slip dress with a cardigan is likely a winner. If the occasion calls for something more casual, perhaps opt for a cap-sleeve t-shirt and boot cut jeans with some slides.

12. The guy from your Russian class in college on whom you had a crush that spanned two semesters is still waiting tables at Bennigans. Get a group of friends and request to sit in his section.

12. Enjoy this time! Meet lots of new people. Go on dates and have boyfriends but also reserve plenty of time to hang out with your girlfriends or just yourself. Learn more about who you are and what is important to you. It doesn't guarantee that you will make all of the right choices later, but it's a crucial stepping stone in the process. And don't be surprised if there is one person who stays in your heart and who you think about sometimes, even if you haven't seen him in years.