Panorama of San Bernardino

Sunday, February 26, 2017


I am in Portland, with my husband and best friends on vacation. I am up early as usual and in a booth in the coffee shop, surrounded by books. As I sit here listening to the rain fall, I am writing. I am writing to drown out the restlessness in my brain. Even though we went to bed at 1 in the morning, I was still up at 7 am.

I kept it mellow last night more out of necessity than choice as my body was saying stop. My body refused to let me have more than a couple of drinks and no matter what I did, I felt muffled and distant. It could be that I am missing my dogs or just anxious, or both.

Tomorrow, we are going to on a waterfall tour to Multnomah Falls. I call my mom and she tells me that we often went there when I was little. Perhaps, I was too little to remember. I think of all the times with my mom and dad growing up. If you've read my stories about childhood, you would probably think that it was all fights and screaming and running away from that. But, I remember the good times too.

The road trips to South Dakota, seeing Mount Rushmore and the caves underneath, being amazed at Flintstone Land and fishing in Montana's lakes. Staying at AAA campgrounds. That trip to see the huge trees in Yosemite Park. Camping out there in a tent and being deluged by the rains. Dad cleaning the fish and urging us to try the crispiness of it. "C'mon girls, just try it."

Mom and Dad would fight of course, but there was something about those road trips that bought out their best sides. Mom would make bologna sandwiches and we would eat them in the car along with potato chips and Shasta Cola. Dad would hum along to Johnny Cash or Loretta Lynn. Us girls, there were three of us (me and Jackie-the twins, and our little sister Annie who was only 14 months younger), and we would fight in the back seat. I remember pinching and scratching each other's arms and when Mom and Dad could not take the carousing anymore, switching to the license plate game and then to the alphabet game where you tried to get through the alphabet using names on signs. This was the 1970s and there was no television in the car, and no videos to watch.

We had to entertain ourselves. I would always have a book, usually one of Mom's dog eared Harlequins, the pages rendered crinkly by bath water, but it was too hard to read in the car without getting sick.

Occasionally, we would stop at a Motel 6 to sleep. We probably all shared a room. Mom and Dad saved all year for these road trip vacations. Mom's waitressing job and Dad's truck driving barely paid the bills and it could not have been easy. At the motel, we would get a pizza and watch television together. And play Rummy gathered around the table. Those moments are the film reel of my childhood. It is what makes me tear up as I write these words. If I concentrate hard enough, I can see it. Jackie, me and Annie in our matching pajamas sharing a bed falling asleep to Dad's snoring and the blaring television static. Getting pancakes at the diner next door in the morning before getting back on the road.

I think of my life and how self absorbed I am. Other than the dogs, I don't have to take care of anyone, much less three little girls. I have no one to worry about but myself.

There is a freedom to that. Yet, there is also an emptiness to it all and as I sit here in the booth, all I can think is that I wish, oh how I wish, that I had a little girl to take to the waterfalls tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A bloody mess-this administration is not for the squeamish

A couple weeks ago, my husband had to close his dental office for the day and race home when his mom had an uncontrollable nosebleed. "There was blood everywhere", he would tell me later. I pictured "The Shining" in my head, and felt sad for my 82 year old mother in law who was frightened and scared. It turned out to be a matter of cutting her aspirin dosage.

This morning was tough. I have a chronic issue that causes bleeding and the pain was so intense the last 24 hours, that I almost screamed while using the bathroom this morning. After it was all over, I felt the lack of pain so acutely. It was almost like a high. I had suffered and then, I finally felt relief.

This administration reminds me of those two incidents. Every day is a new bloodletting. Alternative facts, Flynn's ouster, allegations of collusion with Russia, ICE raids, a new Muslim ban coming, and the man in the Oval Office's attack on the free press. When will it stop? And will there be anything left of our democratic institutions and ideals when it does?

If anything, this time has proved to be a barometer of character. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are coming out as cowardly and self interested political hacks and John McCain is showing himself to put country above party. Our democratic representatives are learning to fight. Some already know how like Cory Booker and Maxine Waters. And Elizabeth Warren. And the press is scrappy and brave, refusing to go quietly into the night. Instead, they keep digging and digging. Uncovering more and more lies.

Ultimately, when this is all over (God willing sooner rather than later), I hope we all let out a big sigh of relief and appreciate the rush and exhilaration brought on by the end of this excruciating and painful, bloody journey. Maybe later we will say it could have been a lot worse. Or maybe not.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A just decision in time of crisis-A ban by any other name

Yesterday, the 9th Circuit ruled against the administration's discriminatory Muslim Ban. It was a just decision and a right decision. It was the most American of all decisions.

By ruling that the injunction against the Muslim Ban would stand, the 9th Circuit Court ("9th Circuit") upheld the rule of law. They protected our institutions of government and the checks and balances of power. And while the administration argued (with a straight face that no doubt covered the whirling emotions of the lawyers who must have been struggling with how to defend this inherently flawed Executive Order) that the Executive Order creating the Muslim Ban was not reviewable (thereby deeming themselves by this argument quasi dictators with what they called "unreviewable authority"), the 9th Circuit heartily disagreed. The Court stated, "In short, although courts owe considerable deference to the President's policy determinations with respect to immigration and nation security, it is beyond question that the federal judiciary retains the authority to adjudicate constitutional challenges to executive action."

In fact, the 9th Circuit underlined that this was even the case in times of so called conflict, stating that: "Indeed, federal courts routinely review the constitutionality of-and even invalidate-actions taken by the executive to promote national security, and have done so even in times of conflict." The 9th Circuit is recognizing that in times such as these, where fear is the catalyst (although that fear, I would argue, is a creation of the administration who uses scare tactics and xenophobia so that they can create racist and discriminatory policy), that it is even more crucial for courts to be a check on the balance of executive power.

The 9th Circuit also addressed another important issue. Was there any evidence of discriminatory intent and is it relevant? As a write this, I want to scream yes, but I am trying to remain calm and reasonable here. But, it must be said that the evidence of discriminatory intent is staggering, evidence that us in the general public were bombarded with pre-election and after. And, in my opinion, the Executive Order Muslim Ban is "per se" unconstitutional because it is a "Muslim Ban" and while the administration tried to walk back from their own nomenclature, they are stuck with it.

What I am saying is that a religion based ban by any other name still smells the same and to carry the Shakespearean reference even further, the 9th Circuit is obviously well aware that something is rotten in Washington D.C..

Moreover, how the current administration could argue that their intent was non discriminatory flabbergasted me. It should flabbergast you. It is almost perjurious. And the 9th Circuit emphasized that the Executive's intent was an important piece of evidence stating that, "it is well established that evidence of purpose beyond the face of the challenged law may be considered in evaluating Establishment and Equal protection claims." This means, in laywoman's terms that the evidence from the Executive's own mouth calling this a Muslim Ban and his intent of disfavoring Muslims (as well as his cohort's statements like Rudy Giuliani's words) is relevant and admissible into evidence. It means that what the Executive said, before and after the Executive Order was made, does come in.

Ultimately, we all know in America that just because you say it, that does not make it so. Our President had not learned this truth. And, yesterday, the 9th Circuit just taught the President a very much needed lesson.