Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Something to think about...July 4, 2018

To quote Leroy Jethro Gibbs, "Never say you're sorry.  It's a sign of weakness."  I don't really believe that.  It takes courage to apologize and a whole lot of grit to mean it as more than mere lip service.  
I’ll preface this blog by saying I'm sorry that my hiatus from the keyboard was so lengthy.  I have no reason other than the same political burnout and depression that so many people are suffering after days, weeks, and months of being subjected to the present political climate.  I’m sure it’s happening on both sides of the divide.  It must be particularly awful for those who so adamantly voted the party line without due research, elected the present administration, and are now beginning to realize the magnitude of their mistake.  
While I see the beginnings of a trickle, those not only admitting to that failure but actually leaving the Republican party because of it, I can only hope it becomes a torrent.  It takes an incredible amount of courage to admit you were wrong.  I really admire those with the kind of courage it takes to do that publicly.  And I hope that those voters who mindlessly continue to support this presidency come to see the light.  
As more jobs disappear, as the prices of produce and food products go up, as the prices of cars skyrocket, and as they see those tax breaks making the rich richer and themselves poorer, perhaps the light bulb will finally come on.  It will illuminate what they failed to recognize…that they voted in a darker, more cruel, deeper, and murkier swamp than they ever dreamed possible.  Then again, hindsight is always 20/20, is it not?  
As I have been saying since he won the Republican nomination, he can’t care about anyone, no matter what words cross his lips.  He is a narcissist, incapable of the empathy required to give a damn about anyone but himself.  For him, it’s all about the money, the sex, self-gratification, winning at all costs, and stroking his own twisted ego…and he doesn’t give a damn if he destroys our democracy, our country, and you in the process.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Racists, and Nazis, and Bigots, Oh My!

I have been somewhat silent politically for many months now. I am sure that what I have to say may raise a few hackles, but that cannot be helped. 

Freedom of speech and assembly are guaranteed to us by the first amendment to the United States Constitution. It states:  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Colin Kaepernick’s taking a knee during the National Anthem, regardless of whether you agree or condemn, is about one citizen exercising his first amendment rights.  It is against the law to prohibit anyone from exercising their first amendment rights.  Likewise, whether you agree or condemn, those white supremacists were doing exactly the same thing, right up until the peaceable assembly was no longer peaceable.  

I have my feelings about both of these scenarios.  I love my country, I love my flag, and I love the National Anthem (both listening to it, and performing it), so it rankles a bit when someone does something I would not do.  But if Colin Kaepernick wants to take a knee during the National Anthem in a silent, non-violent protest, he has my full support.  On the other hand, the marchers in Charlottesville came armed with torches and weapons and screamed racist and bigoted words meant to incite violence.  Indeed, one of their number saw fit to use his car to mow down people standing in protest to the marchers, killing one, injuring many.  Regardless of how fervently I disagree with the horrible, racist ideas they espouse, I support their right to their opinions and their assembly, but the founding fathers never intended any person or group to exercise their rights in the hope of deliberately removing those same rights from others, either physically or verbally.

Citizenship is not easy.  Freedom in this country comes with rights and responsibilities.  We should be asking ourselves three questions before we engage in any activity:  Is it legal?  Is it ethical?  Is it harmful?  The minute one of those lines is crossed, you are abusing your freedoms, and abuse of those rights comes with consequences, some legal and some just the price you pay for standing by your beliefs. 

Everything Colin Kaepernick has done has been legal, ethical, and harmed no one.  Unfortunately, he and his like-minded players will be paying the price for standing by their beliefs, because we live in a world of intolerant and judgmental beings.  It’s not something I would do, but I admire the courage of conviction he has shown in doing it and persevering in it. People are upset because they see only a man of color “disrespecting” his country. 

No. He is an American citizen, legally, ethically, and non-violently exercising his first amendment rights in exactly the way our founding fathers intended. If anything he is showing ultimate respect for the wisdom of our constitution.

The marchers in Charlottesville started out legally, but incited violence. They will have to pay the price both legally and for standing up for their beliefs.  What they have done, what they believe, and what they espouse Makes. My. Blood. Boil.  My father and uncles fought, and two uncles died, to bring an end to Nazi tyranny, genocide, and murder.  We lost more men in the civil war than in all other wars combined to end slavery and preserve the union.  But if the white supremacists want to march and protest, it is their right.  This is the freedom every deceased veteran fought to gain and preserve. But they have no right to cause injury to others by their words or actions.

Attempting to deny anyone else of the rights they themselves are exercising is contrary to everything our constitution stands for and was written to protect.

It is good to keep in mind, that all men and women are created equal.  Regardless of race, religion, gender, or life style, we are all human beings of common ancestry.  And although the white supremacists would disagree, science has now proven that our civilization started with 100% people of color.  Caucasians have only existed for several thousand years…obviously some kind of aberrant gene somewhere along the line, a random genetic mistake.  It was NOT God’s plan for a superior race. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

I Dedicate my noTrumpvote to...

Sometimes awareness and learning take repeated exposure to the facts you don’t want to hear.  Donald Trump knows this.  As a shrewd marketer and a fan of Adolph Hitler, he knows that repeating the same message over and over, even if it has no basis in fact, is a successful tactic in getting otherwise normal, intelligent human beings to commit acts they would never have dreamed of prior to indoctrination by repetition.  It is brain washing with the aid of the media. 

But I have found that it can also work for the greater good.  Every time another “crooked Hillary” comment is made on your social media, fight back by posting lists from reliable sources about the good that Hillary has been doing for years.  Write that being guilty of all the things she’s accused of would require the funds of Trump and the evil genius of Moriarty.  Surely someone would have blown the whistle or produced some kind of evidence by now, right?  Keep pounding social media with the correct facts.  We have only three weeks to permeate the minds of potential voters with the good she has done and the experience she carries into the Oval Office. 

Don’t think that exposure works?  Let me tell you a tale.  My parents were part of the white flight from East Cleveland in the early 60s.  We used to call my dad Archie Bunker, saying he wasn’t a bigot, he hated everyone equally.  Dad mellowed out a bit in his later years.  He was a staunch Catholic, a staunch Democrat, and a proud Union member.  He was all about doing what was right…no lying, no cheating, no blowhards, and you best be sure you owned up to your mistakes.  He passed in 1998, so I have no idea if indoctrination by repetition would have had an impact on his voting, or on any of the other prejudices he carried with him from his early days.  But I do know he would never have voted for the lying, cheating, denying, braggart that is Donald Trump.

My mother was somewhat quiet about everything.  I never heard her voice any nasty opinions about blacks, or gays, or members of other faiths when I was growing up.  But as she got older and more vocal, I was dismayed by some of what she would say with no care in the world who heard her.  She was in her late 70s when she moved in with us.  I remember her reaction when I told her my new boss was gay.  She was horrified.  “How could you possibly work around that?” she asked.  I would then tell her how intelligent and witty he was, how friendly and funny his partner was, and what great guys they were.  I did this repeatedly. 

The first time she actually met them, my boss’ partner gave her a big hug and told her how lovely she looked.  He told her how beautiful her hair was, and that he would know, having owned his own salon for years.  She seemed to handle that pretty well.  Gradually I kept inviting her to functions where she would have occasion to interact with them.  When my daughter married, David insisted on doing her hair and mine for the wedding.  Mom watched as he fussed and fluffed until my daughter and I looked like debutantes.

A week or so after the wedding, I informed her that I was calling the guys to invite them to dinner…as a thank you for doing our hair and for graciously attending the wedding.  “I’m coming,” she announced.  So I made reservations for four.  A few months later she confided, “You know, I don’t ever think of them as gay anymore.  I just think of them as the boys.”  I replied that it was a good thing.  That people are people.  That we are all just people. 

The last year of her life she was in assisted living.  I could no longer care for her at home, so I visited her several times a week after work and on weekends.  She would always ask, “How are the boys?  I miss seeing them.  Tell them I miss seeing them.”  What a turn around for a woman in her 80s.  She also cast her last vote for Barack Obama.  And I was so proud of her when she cast her last vote for Barack Obama. 

She taught me that people can change, no matter how old or how set in their ways.  That prejudice can be overcome.  But that it requires exposure to those different from ourselves, and the indoctrination of repetition in a positive way, to overcome the negative, the hateful, and the long-held fears of a lifetime.  Because of her bravery, and the boldness she showed in changing her mind about such fundamental issues, I dedicate my "noTrumpvote" to my Mom.

Friday, October 14, 2016

GOP Donors Find Their Tipping Point - Moral Outrage

I was reading an article about the big donors demanding that the GOP cut all ties with Donald Trump. Many are even demanding their money back. I considered this fairly amusing until I read the following.

“Bruce Kovner, a New York investor and philanthropist who with his wife has given $2.7 million to Republicans over the same period, was just as blunt. “He is a dangerous demagogue completely unsuited to the responsibilities of a United States president,” Mr. Kovner wrote in an email, referring to Mr. Trump.  “Even for loyalists, there is a line beyond which the obvious moral failings of a candidate are impossible to disregard,” he wrote. “That line has been clearly breached.”


Where was your moral outrage when Trump bragged about his genitalia in public?

Where was your moral outrage when he stood in front of crowds fanning the flames of racism and bigotry?

Where was your moral outrage when he encouraged his rally attendees to use violence against anyone who wasn’t supporting him?

Where was your moral outrage when he continually degraded women in front of a national audience?

Where was your moral outrage at his continual lies about every conceivable topic?

Where was your moral outrage when he made public his plans to create a “deportation force” to send 18 million people out of the country?

Where was your moral outrage when he said the Saudis should have nuclear weapons?

Where was your moral outrage when he declared, that if elected, he would jail his political opponent?

Where was your moral outrage when he, twice, encouraged his followers to assassinate that same political opponent?

Where was your moral outrage when you gave money and your support to a candidate that is quite obviously running his campaign using Adolph Hitler as his mentor and guide?

Where was your moral outrage when you realized that this was not a wise, politically experienced, mature 70-year-old man, but a greedy, power-hungry, misogynistic, racist, wanna-be dictator, with the emotional IQ of a pubescent teenager, who has lived his entire life in a privileged environment where no one ever told him NO?

I could go on, but I won’t.

That line was breached long before the tape was released. It’s a darned shame that the GOP, so determined to defeat Hillary or whatever Democrat was thrown their way, overlooked all those things until it was too late to keep Trump out of the race. But then, this is similar to the way they have overlooked the will of the people for 8 years just to spite Obama, instead of doing the jobs for which they were elected and paid. We taxpayers don’t ask much of our politicians, but I don’t think it’s too much to expect them to show up every day and work together with the other side to achieve better things for this country.

Perhaps morally outraged donors demanding their donations back will finally get through to them. After all, money speaks the only language they seem to understand.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Leopard Can't Change Its Spots

Trump has a 40-year history of demeaning and objectifying women.  He is NOT going to change, because he doesn’t think what he did, and continues to do, is wrong.  Any apology is meaningless, and he will say whatever he thinks will keep the voters from abandoning him in the 11th hour.  He’s not really sorry for what he said or did, he’s only sorry that he was caught on tape and can’t deny what everyone in the country has now heard…bragging about sexually assaulting women, and his ability to get away with it due to his own fame and celebrity.

I’ve seen several posts from Trump devotees saying “If women are so offended by those words, why did “Fifty Shades of Gray” sell 80 million copies to women here in the states?”  Then there are the posts with the world’s most famous twerker, in her much-viewed lewd dance, stating “If you women are so offended, why are you out dancing like this?”  There is a world of difference between a woman voluntarily reading housewives porn or imitating the twerker and what Trump said and bragged about doing to women.  It’s called CHOICE.  It’s called lack of consent.  It’s called entitlement.  It’s a crime.

I'm not offended by Trump’s words. I'm offended by his incredible arrogance and his bragging about committing sexual assault, then dismissing what was said as just locker-room speak.

His words don’t offend me, his attitude does.  HE is offensive. Telling Howard Stern on his radio show that “vagina is expensive” is OFFENSIVE.  His comments magnify why rape culture has become so prominent in our society, especially in high schools, colleges, and fraternities.  And every time a guy gets away with such a crime, it legitimizes that behavior in his own mind and in the minds of his male friends as they regale each other with tales of their sexual conquests over a few beers. This isn't good fun. These are crimes against other human beings.

These are the behaviors of a complete narcissist.  Trump thinks he has superior genes.  This smacks of Hitler and his ilk, who thought that those with “inferior” genes should be exterminated.  In Trump’s case, it’s the African Americans, the Muslims, and the Mexicans he will deport because they lack the appropriate genes to live in “his” country.  See some of Trumps references to his superior genetics here:  He actually compares his genetics to Secretariat, the Triple Crown winner.  He forgot to mention which end.

If you doubt that Trump is narcissistic, here is a list of the symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (think mental illness, folks).

Exhibits exaggeration and grandiosity.  
Believes he is special and unique. 
Craves and requires the admiration of others. 
Feels entitled and demands of others what he won’t do himself. 
Expert at exploitation and manipulation of others. 
Lacks empathy for others, especially those considered to be inferior.  Envious and jealous of those who have obtained the power, adulation, and fame he feels are his due. 
Epitome of arrogance and haughtiness.

There you have it. 

I’m challenging every woman who has had enough of being treated as inferior, not worthy, paid less than her counterparts, being body shamed, being used, being abused, being assaulted, being raped, and watching the Trumps of this world get away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist…to get out and vote.  It is important to keep such a man from occupying the most influential office in the world.  Trump is the last person on earth I would want teaching our boys and young men, by example, how to behave around women.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Betsy Ross, you have entered the Twilight Zone...Redux 2009 story with 2016 twist!


In 1991, when my daughter was in 4th grade, her class took a field trip to the local library. Each student was to borrow a book about a Revolutionary War era character, read the book, and write up a book report. Meredith, seeing a book about a woman with the same name as her mother, chose a biography titled “Betsy Ross and the Flag.”

Not one to hop all over an assignment, Meredith didn’t look at the book for several days. When she finally decided to get busy on the book, she came crying and shrieking into the kitchen.

“Mom, this is a library book!”

“I know.”

“I’m going to be in horrible trouble at school! You’re not supposed to write in library books, Mom! Why did you write in the book?”

“I didn’t write in the book, Meredith.”

“Yes you did! See, it says it right here. And you wrote it in ink, so I can’t even try to erase it!”

“I didn’t write in the book,” I repeated as she handed me “Betsy Ross and the Flag,” opened to the flyleaf.

There, in ink, the book had been signed, “To Lissa Southwick from Betsy McMillan, Christmas 1959.”

“See!” Meredith insisted.

I stared at the book. The writing was indeed mine or an incredible facsimile! A chill came over me and every hair on my body stood on end.

“Meredith, I didn’t write this,” I said. “You see here, where it says Christmas 1959? I was younger in 1959 than you are right now. My last name wasn’t McMillan in 1959. I didn’t become a McMillan until I married your father.”

“Then who wrote in the book?” she asked, still teary-eyed.

“Evidently someone named Betsy McMillan, but many, many years ago. Don’t worry, Meredith. You won’t get into trouble for this.”

She headed back to her bedroom, somewhat placated. I kept the book in the kitchen until my husband got home. After he settled in, I said, “Take a look at this.”

He picked up the book, looked at it and said, “Why did you write in the book?”

“I didn’t!”

“It’s your writing,” he said.

“Exactly. But look at the date!”

He read it again. “1959? How did you sign this in 1959?”

“I didn’t! I never wrote in the book at all! How weird it that?”

After the book report was finished, I took Meredith and the book in question back to the library. I went to the desk and asked the librarian about the inscription.

“Many of the older books we have were donated from people’s personal collections,” she replied.

“Do you mind if I make copies of the flyleaf?” I asked.

“Not at all.”

I made a dozen photocopies, then went back to the desk. “May I ask a favor?”


“I know from past years that the library sells off the old books in an annual sale. If the time comes that this book is ready for the sale table, can you call me? I would really love to have this copy.”

I explained to her the bizarre coincidence of my name in my handwriting being in the book. She agreed. I gave her my name and phone number and we headed home.

For several months I sent inquiries to every Southwick and McMillan that I could find in the local phone books, but I received no replies. Eventually I put thoughts of “Betsy Ross and the Flag” behind me.

About ten years later, I got a call from the library. They had set “Betsy Ross and the Flag” aside for me. I raced up to the library and picked up the book. I opened it to the flyleaf and looked at the inscription. It still made my hair stand on end. I took it home and put it on a shelf where it remains to this day…another strange and unexplained occurrence in my lifetime of experiences!


Fast forward to 2016 and a story twist 25 years in the making. Let me start by saying that in my early career as a writer, I used the pen name Elizabeth Blackstone for my first two books, then, deciding it was too much trouble, began using M.E. Betsy McMillan (easier to remember when doing book signing events).

Yesterday morning, I turned on my computer, which is my normal practice, as I was getting ready to head off to work. Normally I click on the email and do a general delete, delete, delete, unless I recognize a sender or know it's something of importance. As I was doing my delete, delete, delete, I barely stopped myself from hitting the button when a subject line with the words "Betsy Ross" caught my eye. The email was as follows.

"Hello.  I just read the story of Betsy Ross and the Flag posted in 2009. This is the Lissa Southwick from the flyleaf.  Let me know if you still have the book. Are you in Ohio?"  Of course, it was signed with her married name and a phone number, so I decided to give the lady a call. 

After the requisite introductions, she asked what I wanted to know, and offered to tell me how the book had come into her possession.  It seems that her mother's best friend, Elizabeth Stone, married Charles McMillan.  They had a daughter, who they named Elizabeth Stone McMillan, but they called her Betsy. Lissa and Betsy were best friends, and Lissa gave her the book for Christmas.

You've got to admit, the whole 25-year saga is incredibly strange. My daughter brings home the book. My signature is in the book. The library gives me the book years later. I write a blog post about the book.  Then 25 years after first seeing the book, the woman who owned the book 60 years ago Googles her maiden name and somehow finds my blog post from 2009 and contacts me about it. And to make the story even more strange, her friend's name was Elizabeth (aka Betsy) Stone McMillan, and I'm Betsy McMillan aka Elizabeth Blackstone
You just can't make this stuff up!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Village Pub, Perry OH

Well I finally tried it...the newest eatery in town, Village Pub.  Co-owned by Chuck Beal and his restaurant partner(s), as well as Loreto Development, the pub opened around June 1st. This is not Chuck's first venture into the restaurant business.  He and his restaurant partner(s) also own Firehouse Grille and Pub in Willoughby Hills and Beal's Pickles & Pints in Willoughby. 

The menu at the pub is a combination of the best sellers from the other two establishments.  The restaurant took over three storefronts on Center Road in Perry, and the inside is clean, welcoming, and very nicely decorated.  There are plenty of TVs mounted up high for the sports-minder customer, but the place also has a strong family feel.  There were families with teens and families with younger children eating there when I arrived.

I was very pleased with the quality of the food, the excellent friendly service, and the reasonable prices.  I had a Pub Burger that was huge, and it was loaded with lettuce, tomato, provolone, grilled onions, and grilled mushrooms all stacked on an fresh toasted artisan roll.  For my libation, I added a tasty glass of Leonard Kreusch Riesling.  I will definitely be going back for more. 

What really impressed me was watching Chuck as he greeted and served the customers whenever the waitress was busy with other tasks.  He even cleared tables and swept the floor.  You can tell he cares deeply about presenting a clean and well-kept establishment.  Chuck is definitely someone who loves his chosen profession!  I recommend giving Village Pub a try!

The Village Pub is open 7 days a week starting at 11 a.m.