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.

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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!

Mommy’s Becoming an Attorney

Before our president dipped his toe into the political world, he had been involved in many other business endeavors: Trump Wine, Trump Steaks, Trump Water, Trump Airlines, Trump University—many of which he does not own. He just slapped his name on the labels. Then there are the casinos, buildings, and reality game shows. We all know about how some of them succeeded while many of them failed bigley.

I am currently enrolled at the Trump Law School, where I am being educated in more legal terminology than I could have ever dreamed possible in less than two years. Here is a small sampling of what I have learned:

Redacted

Documents whose words have been hidden from view by a Sharpie pen.

An example was when one of you sent a note to one of your teachers and then worried that she was mad at you. Perhaps your name should have been redacted.

Why did you punish me and the other 2 for being good? It’s not fair! All my teachers do it, and I am tired of it. Why should I be good if I’m going to be punished anyway?

(That’s like saying “Why should our country practice conservation if other countries will not, which is a line I heard in my congressman’s office.)

Aiding & Abetting     (I use this term because I have learned from the Rudy Giuliani School of Law that collusion is not a legal term, and if it is, it is not illegal.)

Assisting someone in the commission of a crime—involving a plan to commit a crime in which the consequences are illegal.

An example is when someone broke the Cocky ornament, and Bryce suggested to Lily that they hide it from Daddy rather than confess.

Felony

A serious crime, usually punishable by at least one year in prison.

In our family we were lucky. None of us ever committed a felony. Grandma’s biggest punishment was usually a promise to be sent to bed immediately after supper—the next day of course so that we could have time to think about our crime and resulting sentence.

Indictment

The formal charge issued by a grand jury demonstrating that there is sufficient evidence that a crime was committed to justify a trial.

(Burn this into your heads because you will be hearing this word a lot in the coming weeks and months.) In a family, which is not a democracy, when you are indicted, expect sanctions to be handed down because the trial consists only of Mom and Dad.

Plea Bargain

Negotiated agreement between a criminal and the prosecutor whereby the defendant agrees to plead guilty in return for reduction in the punishment and possible dismissal of some charges.

Example: I used to punish you by sending each of you to your rooms and making the criminal write a letter of apology rather than revoke a privlege if the crime was a misdemeanor.                               

I found a letter written after someone was caught purgering* themself.

I hereby resolve to be nice and live up to everyone’s expectations because I obviously don’t at  this very moment of which I do hereby speak of now. Be honest now and forever, forever, and ever, ever here an now.

 *Perjury

The act of lying or stating falsely under oath.

Sanction

A penalty or other type of enforcement used to bring about compliance with the law or with rules and regulations.

“No tv for a week.”

I had not planned to go to law school at this point in my life, but then again, I never expected a second-rate reality tv personality to become president.

We’ve Come a Long Way, but Not Far Enough Yet

After a historic number of women were elected to public office this week, including at least 35 newly-elected to the House of Representatives—joining 65 already serving—I decided to look back on some of the advancements for women’s rights since I was born.

When I was five, the FDA approved birth control pills, and what surprised me in learning this was that nineteen years earlier, it was illegal to send information through the mail because that was considered to be obscene.

President Kennedy established the “President’s Commission on the Status of Women,” which recommended affordable day care, paid maternity leave, and fair hiring. I think we still have a long way to go on these issues.

Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, making it illegal for women to be paid less than men for the same job, and the Supreme Court ruled, in 1965, that contraception was now legal between married couples.

Employment ads by sex were no longer permitted, and the Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Congress when I was a junior in high school, but it still has never been ratified by enough states.

In 1971, unmarried individuals were permitted to use contraceptives, discrimination in schools based upon sex was banned in 1972, and women were given the right to a safe and legal abortion in 1973.

Women could no longer be discriminated against for being pregnant, the Supreme Court decided that sexual harassment at work is illegal, and the first woman was elected to that court in 1982.

No longer are women banned from serving in combat, and just two years ago, woman were permitted to serve in any job in the armed services.

We have come a long way, but we still have not had a woman elected to the presidency. I eagerly await that day. I hope it comes years before our little two-year old sweetie can run for office.