What’s the Point? Are you Kidding?

This is a warning to all of you. DO NOT CALL ME DURING THE DAY ON WEDNESDAY. I may respond to a text, but I will not answer the telephone because Dad and I will be watching the five-hour Mueller testimony.

We both read the 448-page redacted document and have both concluded that anyone who is not troubled by its contents has not read the report. I understand that everyone does not have the time, but if you are a member of Congress, in my opinion, it is your responsibility to find the time. “What’s the point,” as one of my Senators stated, is shockingly irresponsible in my opinion.

For the average busy American such as my adult kiddies, I am suggesting that an overall flavor of the report can be obtained by reading just 42 pages:

  • The 8-page introduction and summary of Volume 1, which discusses Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
  • The 10-page introduction and summary of Volume 2, which addresses obstruction of justice.
  • Appendix-C, which is 23 pages of the President’s responses to written questions.
  • The one paragraph conclusion of the investigation

Like my list of favorite words such as gazpacho, cornucopia, and luscious, I have a few favorite Mueller Report lines (and my own comments in italics) that cause me to question the President’s truthfulness that the entire investigation was “a witch hunt”:

  • “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is in part because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out or accede to his requests.” (I guess it’s he’s lucky his lawyers held him back.)
  •  “The written responses, we informed counsel, demonstrate the inadequacy of the written format, as we have had no opportunity to ask follow-up questions that would ensure complete answers and potentially refresh your client’s recollection or clarify the extent or nature of his lack of recollection.” In the end, Mueller concluded, “We viewed the written answers to be inadequate.”  (Note: Trump and Attorney General Barr claimed he was being cooperative.)
  •  “When Sessions told the President that a Special Council had been appointed to conduct the Russia investigation, the President responded, ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency.’ ” (Why worry if you have nothing to hide?)
  • “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are not able to reach that judgement.”

In conclusion, girls, think about reading these 42 pages and let me know your thoughts. And remember, only phone us near the end of the day on Wednesday. We will be busy getting informed before then.

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LBJ’s Ranch: A Pleasant Surprise

During our recent trip to Texas, we visited the LBJ ranch, where I learned about the man who became our 36th president after the assassination of President Kennedy.

I was just eight at the time, so my interest in him was minimal. I was much more concerned with my favorite television shows—The Beverly Hillbillies, The Andy Griffith Show, and My Favorite Martian, to name just a few—and staying under the radar from my scary third-grade teacher, Mrs. Darbin.

My memories of President Johnson were mostly of the sad old man who stood beside Jackie Kennedy to take the oath of office on Air Force One during the afternoon after JFK was shot, and the father of two teenage girls who got married during his time in office. I knew a lot of important legislation was passed during his administration, but as a kid, I paid more attention to his family and tragic beginning of his presidency than his job performance.

His ranch had a visitor’s center where his accomplishments were displayed on a big board so that I was able to see all that he had done in one fell swoop.

My initial reaction was surprise in seeing that he was only fifty-five during that first inauguration, and then just sixty-four at his death. I guess any kid that looks at me probably thinks, “Oh boy, is she old!”

Among his accomplishments were Medicare, Medicaid, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, and several environmental acts such as the Clean Air Act of 1963 and the Water Quality Act of 1965. Sadly, his legacy is being torn apart bit by bit.

As Dad and I watched the movie about Johnson and read his positive achievements (not mentioning his inability to get out of Viet Nam at this time), we thought it was so interesting that this man was from the red state of Texas. It turns out that Texas elected primarily Democrats until 1980, when all subsequent Texas presidential elections went Republican.

Now there are two Texas Democrats running for president. While it is increasingly doubtful that either will be on the final ticket in November, I will be watching the results of the Lone Star State.

On a side note to anyone visiting the LBJ ranch: Watch where you walk. Aunt Linda almost stepped on a very big, very scary looking possibly poisonous snake on the sidewalk leading up to the Visitor’s Center. Beware!

Our Work Continues

Today I got myself up and out of the house bright and early and headed down to the South Carolina State House to participate in Moms Demand Action Advocacy Day. We had a good turnout for a weekday morning, with about 200 women as well as men coming here from all over the state. The purpose was to speak to our two state representatives about two bills:

  • Extending the time for a background check from three days to five and also to decrease the time required to report such things as issuances of restraining orders, protective orders, and convictions of domestic violence.
  • Permitless carry, which would allow people to carry loaded handguns in public without a concealed-carry permit or a background check.

My small group of three tracked down our House representative, who was in agreement with our issues. He invited us into the Democratic Caucus meeting (upsetting because it was Clemson day which meant applauding our arch rivals), and although the Moms group is not a political group, that fact was mentioned and we agreed to go in order to promote our message.

While we were trying to locate our senator, many of the other Moms were introduced from the gallery of the State House Legislature. Again, the point was to draw attention to the issue to all of our legislators.

We are all aware that many uniformed people believe this is an anti-Second Amendment group, but I learned early on that many members of this group are gun owners. The purpose is to emphasize common-sense laws to protect people against gun violence and to keep guns away from individuals with violent backgrounds, severe mental issues, and convicted felons.

It was a successful day, and I look forward to a time where our job is no longer needed. Will that ever happen, I wonder.

Time to Start Dating Again

Dad calls it dating. I call it research. The 2020 primaries are a year away, so the parade of candidates has already begun. Like in 2016, we are taking advantage of living in an early primary state and meeting and hearing as many declared presidential contenders as possible.

I am excited to see so many women in the field, which is particularly important because we have a six-year-old little boy in the family who told me that “girls can’t be president.” Did he come to that conclusion on his own, or did someone tell him that during a playground or lunchtime discussion? I will certainly have to get to the bottom of that!

Our first candidate was Senator Kamala Harris, who we saw at a large venue with 1000 of our closest friends. The event was advertised as a town hall, but the number of questions asked was low because she arrived quite late. I was disappointed, yet enthused by her message.

This past weekend, we saw Senator Amy Klobuchar in a much more intimate setting, which was the home of a USC professor and his wife. We were able to meet and speak with her, which was so nice. Dad spoke to her regarding the challenges she will face in trying to get prescription drug prices lowered, and I mentioned being upset that young couples are delaying or abandoning the idea of having children because of the cost of child care. The senator listened to us and responded to our comments.

Dad and I agreed that neither said anything to disqualify them from another date with us. Who is up next?

Loopholes

I learn something new every day. With a birthday party scheduled this past weekend which involved airline travel to get to the party, and a major storm—Harper—causing the party to be rescheduled, I had been busily researching if it was possible to get my money back, since I purchased a nonrefundable Basic Economy ticket.

It turns out that the answer is possibly, because of a little-known detail (at least unknown to me) which I discovered in the fine print under the “conditions of carriage” at the bottom of each page. American Airlines’ conditions of carriage “defines the rights, duties and liabilities of customers and American, including during events beyond our control like weather.” If a ticketholder has a flight change of sixty-one minutes or more, then a full refund can be given “to the original form of payment.” This is not a credit with the airline but an actual refund.

Delta will not offer the deal until the delay exceeds 90 minutes, and United’s policy was too difficult for me to determine. Each domestic airline has their own policy, so my advice is to ask your airline, and to remember to use the words “conditions of carriage.” I got nowhere with my inquiry with American until I pitched those words to the agent on the telephone.

Although these airlines may offer to book you on their next available flight, you have the right of refusal, and you can do this from the warm and cozy comfort of your home if you happen to learn of a delay before your trip to the airport. So on this particular trip, I continued to check the weather and flight status, noting that my flight was inbound from Chicago, so there was the hope of a delay.

Sadly for me, my flight was on time, so I was forced to eat the price of the ticket. I won’t go next week because I believe the weather turned out to be not as bad as originally predicted because I did not go. You see, I am a winter unlucky charm. I have always encountered bad weather and delays every time I have traveled north during the winter months. I will see the birthday girl after the probability of encountering snow and ice have greatly diminished.

Hopefully the shutdown will be over by then, because I am not secure in flying when the people responsible for my safety may be a tad tired from perhaps working another job or stressed from not having the income of a second job.

 

We Didn’t Look Suspicious

There is a daily conversation regarding the border and the president’s insistence on a wall at our southernmost border. All the chit chat got me thinking about my two visits to the border. The first was many, many moons ago. I accompanied Dad on a business trip to San Diego, and one day, we decided to cross the border into Tijuana, Mexico. Nothing unusual happened at the border, and my most vivid memory of the trip was the purchase of our onyx chess set.

It was my first visit beyond the United States border and the first time I had any participation in the fine art of haggling. I admit there was little, perhaps none at all, haggling done regarding the purchase of the chess set. What I recall is that I had seen many similar sets in the San Diego shops, which were priced four times higher than the ones in the little Mexican town. What happened is that I hesitated when told the price, so the merchant immediately, to my great astonishment, dropped the price. My pause was honestly because I was uncertain regarding the color. I immediately got out my wallet, much to Dad’s annoyance, because he told me later that he was positive he could have negotiated a better price. I was satisfied.

Our second southern visit was on a trip to Tucson five years ago. We decided to explore the area, so we set out in our rental car headed to the hokey little town of Tombstone. Hokey, I say, because it was as if we were on the set of a movie. Tombstone was a recreation of an old western town, complete with people walking the streets in period costumes, complete with a recreation of an old Wild West fight.

As we got closer to Tombstone I observed a border patrol checkpoint, which we would have to pass though on our return trip. I do not know what got into me, but I suddenly felt the need to check our rental documents inside the glove compartment. I was upset to discover it was empty, meaning we had no way to prove that we were the renters of the car. I imagined that we were going to be hauled off to prison. We hadn’t even seen “Breaking Bad” at that time.

It turned out to be an unnecessary worry, because the border agents said hello, glanced briefly inside the car, and waved us on. How did they know we were not smugglers?

My biggest observation from the trip was my view of the great expanse of nothing to the south with lots of mountains. I would not want to go on a stroll in that area. There are probably lots of scary bugs and snakes there.

He’s Not Very Nice!

We have all experienced times when money was tight, but we are all very lucky that none of us ever knew true hunger or homelessness.

The first time I was ever made aware that some people don’t have a home was when I was in sixth grade. We went on a field trip to New York City, and I recall walking through an area known as The Bowery. During that time, there were a number of homeless people living there, and our parents had to sign a permission trip acknowledging that we would be walking through the area—as if it were an attraction. I don’t recall where we went on the trip but I still recall the homeless men to this day. I remember that they were called “bums” or “hobos.” How awful to call another human being by that name!

I never again experienced people living on the streets until we moved to Chapel Hill, and now when I visit Casey in Silver Spring, I am again saddened to pass homeless individuals living under the Metro bridge close to her home. I feel both guilt and helplessness.

Yesterday, I saw a man interviewed on television, and he wiped tears from his eyes as he spoke about his fears regarding how he would take care of his family during our latest shutdown. My heart broke for him and others like him.

Our president clearly has no understanding what it is like to be faced with choosing between food and medicine, stating that “they will figure it out.” Really? How does that work?

Then I thought of a story I heard about a recent trip to an indoor waterpark, when a bigger girl, who did not wait long enough before heading down the waterslide, crashed into Lily before she climbed off the slide. Lily turned to her and said, “That wasn’t nice!” When Lily told me the story, she added, “Grandma, she didn’t say she was sorry.”

So I listened to the president answer questions about how people were going to cope without receiving their salary, and it was obvious that he was clueless to their plight. He’s not very nice and he didn’t say he was sorry!