It’s Time

lvshooting.jpgAfter the Pulse night club shooting I wrote an essay, #Enough, about gun control. That was over a year ago and nothing has changed. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. If anything, we’re further away from sensible gun control than ever with Republicans in the NRA’s pocket in control of our government. They’re pushing a loosening of gun laws, when it should be the opposite. The blood of the Las Vegas massacre is on their hands.

Republicans, including Donald Trump, say that now is not the time to talk about gun control, that we’ll talk about gun laws “as time goes by.” Really? How many more mass shooting do there have to be? Though, this shouldn’t be surprising. If innocent children dying in the Sandy Hook massacre didn’t motivate politicians to act, nothing will. Prayers are not enough. Do something. Seriously, how many more people need to die?

There are those who think that talking about gun control is politicizing a tragedy. This is not politicizing a tragedy, this is simply trying to prevent more. Why in the world does an ordinary citizen need a weapon that can kill and gravely wound hundreds and hundreds of people at once? Why should a person intent on a mass killing be able to do it so fucking easily? I never curse on my blog – ever, ever, ever. But, I am angry. And while an f-bomb won’t change anything, it temporarily makes me feel just a smidge better. And then…it passes, and I’m angry again. I’m angry that I have to be terrified when my children go to a concert or sporting event. I’m angry that Stephen Paddock owned forty-three guns and that was perfectly legal. I’m angry that the semi-automatic gun he modified with “bump-stock” (a simple $100 tweak) to maximize the carnage and destroy so many promising lives was legal, as well. I’m angry that he could have literally walked down the street carrying that semi-automatic rifle and been well within his legal right in Las Vegas, because open carry is legal in Nevada  WITHOUT a permit. Let that sink in.

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban that was enacted in 1994 expired in 2004 and though there have been multiple attempts to renew the ban, none have succeeded. Why? And again I ask…why does anyone need an assault rifle? To kill. That is the only possible reason for owning a gun that can reign down terror on the largest possible amount of people in the shortest amount of time. And make no mistake, this was a terrorist act. All the hand wringing over Muslims getting into our country intent on killing is so very myopic. It’s white men who commit most acts of domestic terrorism…lone wolf white men. White men with guns that are legally purchased and carried. Perhaps if we face this fact, if we realize that travel bans won’t keep us safe, but common-sense gun laws that keep weapons of mass destruction (literally) out of murderers’ hands will, something will change. But, I’m not holding my breath.

There will be another mass shooting, and there will be more prayers and positive thoughts and comforting hashtags and questions of, “How in the world did this happen?” How? It happened and will keep happening, because we as a country let it…

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#NeverForget

Sixteen years ago the sky was so crystal blue – sharp and almost breathtaking, much like today. It didn’t seem like something could slice through that beauty and destroy so much. I was pushing my kids on our new backyard swing set. First the oldest on his “rocket rider,” then the baby in his little bucket swing. One then the other, back and forth, a comforting rhythm. My oldest son had just turned three and started nursery school the day before. My younger son (my middle) was nine and a half months.

I remember their laughter and thinking that the day was perfect. I was grateful that my son only attended school three days a week, because I missed him those few hours he was gone. I was content, calm and happy, a serene moment in the usually tumultuous world of parenting very young children… Then, my husband, Jeff, called. He told me to turn on the news. He told me that my phobia of low flying planes wasn’t as crazy as he thought – a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers. I said, “You see. I told you it could happen.” We decided that it must have been a small plane, a new pilot. And then there was a gasp on the other end of the line. I was watching the news in horror, Jeff still on the phone, as the second tower was hit. He had heard it on the radio and could see the black smoke billowing out from both towers in his rear view mirror as the city receded behind him.

We knew right then it wasn’t an accident…and from that moment, life on Long Island – life in all of the Metropolitan area – was never the same. My husband couldn’t come home for two days, because he was on the other side of New York City in New Jersey and all roads were closed. I kept my son home from school the next day, and when we went back two days later there was a brand new security guard to sign us in – a Jewish Community Center couldn’t take chances.

Our mood, our fear was matched by the weather. It rained, oh how it rained, in the days after…like tears were pouring down from Heaven. But, our family was so lucky. My brother-in-law, a New York City police officer, was home for a medical procedure on 9/11. My brother was close enough to witness the carnage, but not close enough to be a part of it.

We were all shaken, though. Everyone knew someone who lost a loved one. But, we were all in it together – our whole community, our whole state, even the rest of the country. I remember the days following so clearly. I bought a “United We Stand” t-shirt and wore it proudly. It felt like all of our differences fell away – in New York and everywhere else.

Things feel very divided now, two sides staring each other down. Hate-filled violent protests fill the news. Sometimes it feels like we will never be repaired, like the bubble of hate that has risen to the surface will just poison everything. But on this day, I hope everyone remembers how we came together once.

My youngest son, who was not even alive on 9/11, wore a USA t-shirt emblazoned with a flag to school today. The school principal requested red, white and blue attire in honor of Patriots Day. I offered him a Rangers t-shirt, but he chose to wear the flag. His school has been designated a “No Place For Hate” school by the Anti-Defamation League. There are rainbow stickers on classroom doors letting LGBTQ students know that a safe space awaits. All of this gives me hope – much as remembering how we once came together gives me hope, as well. #NeverForget

Here is my interview with Stephanie Kepke

I sat down for a wide-ranging interview with Fiona McVie – the questions were so interesting and fun! Here it is…

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Name: Stephanie Kepke

Age: 49 years old

Where are you from: Long Island, New York

A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc  

I am married with three boys and two rescue dogs. My boys are eighteen and a half, sixteen and a half and twelve and a half. My oldest just finished his freshman year at my alma mater, University of Massachusetts, Amherst and I couldn’t be more proud of how well he did. He’s in the College of Engineering, while I majored in English. He knows exactly what he wants to do, while I changed majors every year and graduated with a degree in English, because it was the only one in which I had enough credits to graduate. My favourite major: Independent Study in Creative Writing and Photojournalism. I still love telling stories with photos—good thing there’s Instagram! I also took writing workshops…

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The Decision

 

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Joshua at my mom’s house celebrating his recent 16th birthday…

When my kids were little it felt like I made a million decisions a day for them…what to feed them, what to dress them in, whether to go to the park or stay home. That number slid down to a few a day as my kids got older. Now that my two oldest are teenagers, the decisions are fewer still. But, often those few decisions have an outsize impact. Some decisions are easy—like deciding my oldest son had to attend a public university which awarded him a partial scholarship, rather than one of the pricey private schools he got into. This was just fine with him. He’s getting an amazing education at University of Massachusetts, Amherst (my alma mater) and won’t be crushed by debt when he graduates (even though it’s still pricey, being out of state for us, it’s not $70,000). But sometimes, the decision is gut-wrenching. Sometimes as a parent you need to decide that your child’s battle is too big for you to handle—it’s out of the bounds of what you can solve with your child living at home. Then, you need to make the decision to send your  child away to get better. You need to say goodbye, even if it’s just for a short time, so you can give your child a chance to grow into a healthy and happy adult…

That’s where we are now. On New Year’s Eve day my son, Joshua, was lying on the couch, weak and lightheaded. He didn’t look right to me, so I made him weigh himself. If you read Hungry; Hungry Part 2; The Power of Kindness; and/or The Power of Kindness Part 2, you know why I made Joshua weigh himself. He’s been battling an eating disorder for more than half his life and has been in outpatient treatment for the past two years. He has Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), brought on by anxiety, rather than a desire to be thin. He knows he’s too thin. He wants to eat more, and he wants to weigh more, but he just can’t. If you read Hungry, you know that I’m intimately familiar with this type of disorder, as I battled the same thing when I was twenty-two to twenty-four years old.

Now that you have the background, back to my insistence that Joshua weigh himself. I panicked that he had lost weight and that’s why he was so listless and pale. I didn’t want to be right, I really didn’t, but I was. Joshua weighed ninety-six pounds at just over 5’8″. I immediately texted his nutritionist to ask if I should take him to the hospital. She said that if I couldn’t get him to eat within the hour, I should take him just to be safe. I got him to eat a small corned beef sandwich, so we narrowly avoided a trip to the emergency room. But, I spoke with his pediatrician as soon as she was back from the holiday weekend.

The pediatrician instructed me to scrap the nutritionist’s plan to wait until January 31st to enroll Joshua in an inpatient eating disorder treatment program and start investigating facilities. She referred us to a program in Virginia. Luckily, we don’t have to travel that far. Joshua’s nutritionist suggested a brand new facility in the Hamptons (about an hour away from us). When I visited the program’s website, I was filled with both relief and apprehension—an oxymoron if ever there was one.

The facility looked breathtakingly beautiful, a brick mansion up the street from the water with rooms that look like they leaped off the pages of a home magazine. The staff seemed kind and competent. But, and there always seems to be a but when you’re trying to help your child overcome the toughest of obstacles, I did not know if they’d take our insurance. When my husband called our insurance company to find in-network treatment programs, the person he spoke with gave him the names of two general hospitals and a mental health hospital. None were geared toward only adolescents. The center Joshua is attending only accepts eight residents at a time, aged ten to eighteen. I called the headquarters in California and was reassured by a very nice patient coordinator that they accept all major insurance plans. Somehow, I missed that broadcast on every page of their website. I guess I was so nervous that I had found the perfect place and we wouldn’t be able to afford it, that I saw only the beautiful spaces and kind faces.

Still, I didn’t know for sure if our insurance would cover it (less a sizable deductible, but one we’d end up paying over the course of the year anyway), nor did I know if Joshua would even be accepted into the program. I spent close to six hours filling out intake forms and then waited nervously for the call (full disclosure—it would take a “normal” person a fraction of the time to fill out the forms; as a writer I provided more detail than they likely ever wanted or needed…). This all while my sister was in the hospital for ten days recovering from emergency surgery. To say the 2016 holiday season sucked would be an understatement…

But then, a ray of hope… Our insurance was approved and Joshua was accepted into the in-patient program. Apprehension turned to pure relief after touring the facility. Due to obvious privacy concerns for the current residents, I can share neither what I saw during the tour nor what we were told—in fact, I decided to remove even the name of the facility from this essay on my final read-through. I will only say that as we got into the car, Joshua confided that his whole perspective about in-patient treatment had changed. He said that he felt much more comfortable. The kindness of the clinicians and the tranquil, stunningly gorgeous setting really eased his fear…and mine too.

It is still hard knowing that he’ll be away for about six weeks. We’ll see him during that stretch for therapy sessions, family meals and visiting time, but it will be hard not having him at home. It doesn’t help that we’ll be dropping him off the day after we drop my oldest son, Drew, off at school for the spring semester. If you read Letting Go Part 2, you know how hard it was for me to endure the sudden quiet after dropping Drew off in September. Now it will be magnified with only one child at home. And knowing that I couldn’t help Joshua and now have to send him away is harder still. But, if I need to send him somewhere to get help, at least I know that he’s in the best possible place for him.

It also helps that the decision isn’t mine to make, not really. Once Joshua’s doctor said that he needs to be in an inpatient setting, I knew I had no choice. Of course, I could say, “No, I want him at home. I want to keep trying.” But, why would I ever do that? Why would I risk the harm that could come to my child if he doesn’t get the help he needs? So, I agreed and started researching programs as soon as I hung up the phone. It was scary, to be sure. The possibility of sending Joshua to an inpatient treatment program has been hanging over our heads since I took him to his nutritionist for the first time in 2015. Back then, we were told that if he didn’t gain weight in five weeks he would be sent to a boys’ eating disorder treatment center in Wisconsin. That was all the spark he needed to gain weight. Our New York Rangers announcer friend, John Giannone, gave Joshua a boost when he told him that hockey players get through even tougher stuff and he could do it no problem. Joshua loved hearing that and gained over twenty pounds during the course of the next year. When he finally got medical clearance to hit the ice and play hockey at just over one hundred pounds last February, we thought we were home free…no inpatient treatment in his future.

But then…he slipped. It happens, of course. His weight dipped to the ninety-six pounds I mentioned, and he had grown about two inches. He has become skin and bones. I feel awful that one part of me is relieved that he’ll be out of the house and in an inpatient setting with round-the-clock care. I feel like I should want to keep him here with us no matter what, but there have been moments that I really was afraid I’d lose him. The stress of thinking that your child could starve himself to death while you simply stood idly by is far worse than sending him away for six weeks. So, I’ll pack him up and we’ll drive him the hour out to the Hamptons. I’ll send him with a stack of sweatpants and t-shirts; some jeans and polos; his favorite shampoo and body wash and C.O. Bigelow Elixir Blue body spray; the Axe hair putty he can’t live without; maybe a framed photo of our dogs—all the things that will remind him of home while he gets better.

And I know that someday, we’ll all look back on this and say, “This was the turning point. This was when things got better.” He’s at sixty percent of his body weight now. One of the benchmarks of success for the program is when he climbs over eighty-five percent of his body weight. I can imagine him filled out and healthy, the color returned to his cheeks. It’s that thought that keeps me going; that will let me hug Joshua goodbye and not burst into tears the moment we get in the car to leave. This is a good thing, and I just need to remember that…

Postscript: I made sure that it was okay with Joshua for me to publish this—he hasn’t told many friends why he’ll be out of school, and I haven’t told many people either. But now, anyone who reads this will find out. He and I both have the same reason for wanting to share this—to help others who may be going through the same thing. If you need advice or wish to know the name of the facility Joshua will be attending, please feel free to reach out to me on Facebook.

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Joshua on my lap as a happy, chubby-cheeked baby…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Mr. Trump (Part 2)

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Dear Mr. Trump,

Stop. Please. Just. Stop. Stop making our presidential debates #NSFW (Not Suitable for Work) affairs. Stop caring less about the issues facing our nation and your policies (if you have any) than your race to prove that you’re not as despicable as Bill Clinton. Newsflash, not only is Bill Clinton not running, but all of those allegations from decades ago have never been proven. Did he do sleazy stuff? Sure. But it was, until proven otherwise, consensual sleazy stuff and Hillary Clinton should not be blamed for it. You even said back when this was last in the news that she is a “wonderful woman” to be so strong (video link below). Did she call Monica Lewinsky a “neurotic  loony toon?” I don’t doubt that. If I found out a woman did what Lewinsky did to my husband, you better believe I’d call her far worse. None of these things make Hillary Clinton look bad. Bringing them up just makes you look bad, since…shall we say you have more than a few skeletons in your closet.

Did you not cheat on your first two wives, tossing them over for newer models? Oh wait, you did. Are you not the subject of a civil rights lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed you viciously raped her when she was thirteen years old? Hmm, that would be yes again. Not only that, but you are on record saying this about your buddy, convicted level-three sex offender (the highest level) and “billionaire-pedophile,” Jeffrey Epstein: “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it, Jeffrey enjoys his social life.” Yes, I bolded “on the younger side.” On the younger side for a middle-aged man should be thirty or even thirty-five, not thirteen. There’s more, of course, but this letter would be far too long if I included all the despicable stuff you’ve done…

Now, I know the defense to all this will be, “But Hillary Clinton defended a rapist, got him freed and laughed about it later.” No she didn’t. (Links below debunk this thoroughly.) She was a court-appointed defender and tried to recuse herself more than once. The prosecution’s case was flawed and her client pleaded guilty, thus the plea deal. She was just doing her job, painful as it must have been for her. There’s absolutely no evidence that she ever laughed about it, though there are people who corroborate her story that she tried to get recused and that she was acutely uncomfortable in the role of defending this man, but had no choice.

Most importantly, did you or did you not brag about committing sexual assault on a hot mic and then deny doing it? Um yes, I believe that was you. Do you not realize that denying it is worse than contrition? By denying it now, you admit that you either lied on the tape or are lying now. Both are disturbing. In the first scenario, why would a man lie about kissing women without their consent and grabbing them by the genitals? To brag? To seem manly? To impress? Were you trying to impress Billy Bush by stating that you can get away with (and have gotten away with) sexual assault, because you’re a rich celebrity, but you didn’t actually commit such an assault? That’s just twisted. Or did you lie under the bright lights and scrutiny of the debate, denying doing heinous acts you actually committed? Well, that’s just unconscionable. So either way, you’re screwed.

And back to those debates, my almost twelve year old son had to watch the debate for social studies homework. It’s not fair that parents everywhere had to sit awkwardly with their children, fighting the urge to cover their ears whenever you spoke, because it was a class assignment for our children to listen to you. It’s not fair that I had to have a conversation with my sons instructing them never to act like you, never to treat women like objects. Though, perhaps I should thank you for opening up the conversation. And it’s not fair that you forced millions of women to relive nightmarish moments with your sense of entitlement over women’s bodies, and then brushed it off as “locker room talk.” Real men don’t speak like that, and it was gratifying to see all of the good men, including many athletes who spend their lives in locker rooms, take you to task for that comment.

I read that you plan on slinging more mud in the coming weeks in an attempt to deflect from your own shortcomings. You may rile up your base, but you’ll alienate far more people than you’ll bring in. So, please… Just. Stop.

Sincerely,

Stephanie Kepke

PS: If you don’t want people to think you’re a sexual predator, perhaps you should try a bit harder to not look like one at the third debate (see photo above)…

 

I could not embed links in this post for some reason, so here are all of my fact-checking links, backing up everything in the above letter. I spent well over two hours researching each point I made to make sure that each is, indeed, correct…

Hillary Clinton did not viciously attack Bill Clinton’s accusers (and the accusations themselves were never proven):

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/oct/10/donald-trump/donald-trump-says-hillary-clinton-viciously-attack/

Donald Trump said that Hillary Clinton was wonderful for dealing with all of Bill Clinton’s infidelities:

http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/09/politics/trump-clinton-sex-then-vs-now/index.html

The civil lawsuit brought against Donald Trump stating he raped a thirteen year old girl:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-bloom/why-the-new-child-rape-ca_b_10619944.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-accused-underage-rape-lawsuit-a7352976.html

Hillary Clinton did not laugh about getting an accused rapist free (she didn’t even get him exonerated; he pleaded guilty):

http://www.snopes.com/hillary-clinton-freed-child-rapist-laughed-about-it/

http://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-presidential-debate-fact-check/2016/10/trump-is-wrong-hillary-clinton-did-not-laugh-about-the-rape-of-a-12-year-old-229455

Donald Trump’s Tape (in case you’ve been living under a rock):

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-recorded-having-extremely-lewd-conversation-about-women-in-2005/2016/10/07/3b9ce776-8cb4-11e6-bf8a-3d26847eeed4_story.html

Donald Trump’s plan to sling more mud:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-bill-hillary-clinton_us_57fc0212e4b0e655eab6eb22

 

 

Dear Young Mom…

 

 

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An open letter to young mothers…

Dear Young Mom,

Right now it probably seems like not a moment goes by without a tug on your sleeve; a nose that needs to be wiped; a fight that needs to be broken up; or a constant chorus of “Look, Mom.” There are also probably those moments when you want to lock yourself in the bathroom, turn on the faucet and the fan (to add a cushion of noise) and just scream at the top of your lungs. Or maybe you want to let loose a tirade of expletives. You just want to release the frustration and exhaustion that can overwhelm you. I know. I’ve been there too…

One of the sagest observations I ever heard about parenting is that the “days are long, but the years are short.”* It’s so true—but I don’t know if I ever fully appreciated that fact when my kids were young, when I was in the trenches, in the middle of it all and so worn down that a quiet house seemed like a miracle, rather than a depressing reality…

Motherhood is a job no one in her right mind would ever apply for, if it was a classified ad (or a LinkedIn post—I’m showing my age)… Long hours (sometimes all night, if there’s a case of croup or an ear infection). No vacation. No training before you’re thrown right into the job. You’ll be expected to fulfill such disparate duties as chef; chauffeur; laundress; therapist; nurse; referee; baker; cleaning lady; the list goes on and on… Your heart will break a million times over big and small things. In fact, if you do your job well, heartbreak is guaranteed—when you say goodbye to your child and send him or her off into the world. Imagine a job where your most important task is to train your best employees to leave and be successful elsewhere. That’s parenting. Those little babies who tugged on your sleeve and wiped their drippy noses on your shirt; jumped on the furniture after being told a gazillion times not to do it; colored on the walls (in non-washable crayons); left sticky fingerprints everywhere will leave the nest in the blink of an eye to meet the future that stretches out before them. And it should be that way, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

When they do go out into that big, brave world, they might seem very far away. They might not need you anymore and then…well then you’ll be left wishing—just wishing—that you could have that commotion back for one more day.  You’ll miss that whirl of small children playing way too rough, messing up the couch cushions, tugging on your sleeve… You’ll wish that you could hear that chorus of, “Look, Mom!” just a few more times. You’ll swear that instead of getting frustrated because you have work or laundry or dinner to prepare—if you could have that moment back again,  you’d kneel down and look, really look, at that scribbled masterpiece; the tower of blocks; the cool looking rock that must be a piece of the moon that somehow found its way to your backyard. But, as a young mom you don’t have to wish for that—it’s right there. You’re still feeling the tug on your sleeve, the endless loop of, “Look, Mom!” You still have the chance to kneel down and give your full attention to your small child. Do it.

All too soon, that little child will grow up and stop asking you to look. In fact, if your teen catches you glancing over a shoulder, he or she will immediately snatch her phone out of view or snap his laptop closed. Instead of details about school and friends, you’ll hear, “Can I take the car?” You won’t be the center of his or her world anymore and you’ll be relegated to further and further outside orbits, until he or she goes away to college and your house is quiet. (Even if you have younger kids, one leaving changes the dynamics—and believe me, it’s quieter.) And one day, you may send a text asking when you can call to catch up for a few minutes and get back, “I’m busy. I’ll call you when I can.” And then…your phone will stay silent.

So, mothers of young children—especially loud, rambunctious boys who leave your living room looking like a tornado hit it or a Toys ‘R’ Us exploded; who play ball in the house and jump on the sofa; who tug on your sleeve and say, “Look, Mom!” more times than you thought possible—relish it. Revel in the noise, the chaos—the fullness of it—because it is ephemeral. Blink, and it’s oh so quiet…

Much Love,

Stephanie

*I Googled this quote, so I could properly attribute it and came up with Gretchen Rubin. But her book came out in 2009, and I’m fairly certain that I heard it before then.

 

The Ugly Election

 

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Drawing by my son, Aidan… It’s his dream and mine too…

 

A question has been haunting me this election season: If Donald Trump wins the presidency (I just bit my tongue), how can I possibly explain to my kids that America, their country—the land of the free and the home of the brave—thinks it’s okay to bully, mock and basically step upon anyone with whom you do not agree? Because really, that’s what Donald Trump’s nomination and recent rise in the polls says. It says that you can succeed by stepping on others. It says that hate is more important than love and fear is more important than tolerance. This isn’t the world I want for my children. I can’t be proud of this America.

My son told me that most, if not all, of the children in his school dislike Donald Trump. I believe this is because children are much better judges of character than many adults are. They don’t have that fear of “the other” that is so pervasive in Trump’s followers. As Hillary Clinton said, half of Trump’s supporters are people who are fed up with their situation in life and are looking for someone to fix it, but the other half are in that basket of deplorables—racists, xenophobes (which of course includes racists), misogynists, homophobes and on and on. Those in that basket are proud of the deplorable moniker. I’ve noticed lots of pro-Trump Twitter accounts have changed to user names which include “deplorable.” Of course, this essay is still a risk for me—I’m sure at least some of my followers are Trump supporters who do not wish to be called, “deplorable” (and are, in fact not deplorable), and I, of course, do not want to alienate anyone. But, there comes a time when speaking up in the face of unspeakable evil is more important than the amount of followers and likes I have. And it’s more important than worrying about offending anyone. It’s my job as a writer to speak my mind, to speak up for what I believe in. Which brings me to my next fear about a Trump presidency…

Donald Trump will shut down free press, like his hero, Vladimir Putin, has done in Russia. Trump has already banned several media outlets—The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Politico, to name a few—from his press conferences and campaign events, claiming that they treat him “unfairly.” (Here’s his “Blacklist.”) He eventually ended the ban earlier this month, in an attempt to seem not so “draconian” to voters rightfully offended by this dictatorial move, according to The Washington Post. But he has continued mocking and bullying journalists, especially on Twitter. His attack on New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is especially chilling, calling her “wacky” and a “neurotic dope” in two separate tweets (see screen grabs below—I did not want to link to them to give more exposure). His verbal abuse of journalists stretches back to the early days of his campaign and his feud with Megyn Kelly. And who could forget Trump’s disgusting imitation of a disabled journalist, (tiny) hands flailing about, speech pattern hatefully mocked?

I may not have ever worked as a serious news journalist—I reported on music, the arts and philanthropy—but I did work as a journalist for a few different newspapers back in the nineties, and freedom of the press is a right I hold very dearly. By mocking journalists, constantly complaining that journalists treat him unfairly and calling them the “lowest form of humanity,” Trump guaranteed that at least some will bow before him, lobbing him softball questions and not calling him out on blatant lies. Of course much of the blame for this pro-Trump biased media coverage is laid at the feet of that very media for not doing their jobs. But with Trump “gaming the refs,” it was bound to happen. Even scarier, a reporter from Vice, Alex Thompson (who happens to be Maureen Dowd’s former researcher), was not only turned away, but also arrested, when he tried to obtain press credentials to a Trump campaign event in Houston. This stinks from more than just a whiff of dictatorship… Reporters being arrested is right out of an oligarch’s playbook… Trump must have learned it from his buddy Putin. (And yes, I know Trump’s camp said it was the hotel, not Trump, who called police, but who gave hotel security Thompson’s name?)

This essay doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all of the horrendous, unconscionable atrocities (and yes, I know that’s a bit redundant, but in this case, it fits the magnitude of the situation) Trump has committed through words and deed. All Hillary Clinton needs for her attack ads are Trump’s own words. Her brilliant ad asking if Trump is what we want for our daughters only needs to intersperse Trump’s viciousness with images of girls and young women. Watch it here. And then…there’s the  constant lying. I’m not sure why so many look the other way and think, “Oh that’s just Trump being Trump…,” and yet call Clinton a liar. Now though, Newsweek has dropped a bombshell that really should give all those supporters second thoughts about their savior—Trump has either committed perjury or lied during a primary debate. How can this person be our president?

I know my anxiety over this election is driving my husband crazy. I check poll forecasts with a frequency bordering on obsessive. I moan every time I see a Trump flag, sign or bumper sticker in my town, which is far too often in my estimation, especially in my very multi-cultural neighborhood. A huge Trump flag waving in the breeze seems like a giant middle finger to the many immigrants from different nations living around me, especially Muslims. I ponder moving to Canada and wonder how out-of-country college tuition compares to the out-of-state college tuition we are currently paying for my son. In reality, I know I can’t pick up my family and move, and I wouldn’t want to be so far away from my son (although I do love Canada and I do have family there). So, I’m left pondering what life would be like with a Trump presidency and quite frankly, it scares the crap out of me.

I know many people dislike and distrust Hillary Clinton. I’m not sure why, but I respect their opinions. I think a big part of it is all the conspiracy crap peddled by the alt-right. Do they forget that Karl Rove deleted 22 million emails when he was Secretary of State under George W. Bush? Do they not realize that there were thirteen attacks on foreign consulates during the Bush administration? Those chanting, “Lock her up!” would never have uttered a word back then. And what about all the good Hillary Clinton has done? She has worked tirelessly for women and children, for the poor and the disenfranchised. After 9/11, she was there for the people of New York, when not many in government were. As part of her health care plan, she wants to integrate mental health care benefits in with medical insurance. I can tell you, as the parent of a child with a mental illness, this is huge… And it seems like no one knows about it. It’s not talked about amidst all the noise about emails and the Clinton Foundation, which really should be a non-issue…

Even if Clinton wielded her influence to secure donations to the Clinton Foundation, which it hasn’t been proven she did, that money was used for all good. It has saved so many lives and champions the forgotten. It has a stellar rating from Charity Watch and nearly ninety percent of donations go right to people in need. That is extremely high. In contrast, donations to Trump’s foundation go to things like six foot tall paintings of himself and legal fees to fight the many lawsuits he’s been slapped with. Lawsuits, that for the most part, he’ll find a way to weasel out of – he has said as much to discourage people he has wronged from suing him. I know this is absolutely true.

I’ve heard of more than one person whom Trump stiffed to whom he replied, “Go ahead and sue me. You’ll never win.” It’s this habit of “sticking it to the little guy” that proves Trump is against working people. He cares only about himself…oh and Vladimir Putin. He thinks Putin is a better leader than Barack Obama, and likely would emulate him. Oh, and he’s $650 million in debt to many financial institutions, including the Bank of China and who knows what other foreign interests (as an aside, Trump is also in debt to Goldman Sachs, an institution he’s claimed owns Hillary Clinton). With debts to foreign banks and many investments in Russia, Trump would undoubtedly have a conflict of interest. Plus, a Trump presidency would be a disaster not just for our country, but for the world. Allowing Russia to run roughshod over other countries, dissolving NATO, starting World War Three over a tweet. Nuking a smaller country, because if someone looks at you the wrong way, you have to “bomb the hell out of them…”

Mostly though, a Donald Trump presidency would be a disaster for our youth. Civil discourse was already nearly extinct before the rise of Trump, thanks to keyboard cowboys and the vast cesspool of hate dwelling just beneath the surface of the Internet. Oh, I’m sorry—it’s not just beneath the surface anymore. It’s now bubbled right up to the top and white supremacists; neo-Nazis; misogynists of every stripe; the stupid and the hateful; bigots; xenophobes; and just your run of the mill assholes have been given free reign to release their vitriol in burning streams, like a blustery, rhetoric filled volcano blanketing and destroying everything in its path. This is the future that awaits our children – one in which kindness and compassion are old-fashioned currency, like the pennies left in bowls next to cash registers, too useless to even merit pocketing. I weep for this world, and I will vote blue right down the line…

 

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Notice the first reply (for both tweets) – “Deplorable Pepe”

 

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